Annadatri-carita (study)

by Sarannya V. | 2020 | 34,082 words

This study analyzes the Annadatri-Carita: an epic poem connected with a regional history written by Prof. K Balarama Panicker. The plot of the drama is based on a Sangam period myth connected with the epic Mahabharata. The author introduces Utiyan Ceralatan as Vancishvara, an ancestor of the last Travancore ruler named Chithira Thirunal Balarama Va...

Analyzing of available evidences prove that Utiyanceral was a generous, Virtuous and brave king who installed the foundation of a prominent Empire. However, his demise occurred in a defamatory mode.[1] He was defeated by the Cola King, “Karikala” (1st -2nd century CE)in the battle of “Venni” or Venni (identified with Kovil Venni near Tanjore).[2] It was a combine attack against the Colas by Ceras and Pandyas. In that war, Utiyan was wounded in his flipside. While fighting injuries in the back side was considered as a shame and because of this defame, he chose self demise by doing the ritual “Vatakkirikkal”.[3] The term “Vatakkirikkal” represents choosing death through starvation by facing towards the north direction, carrying a sword in the hands.[4]

In Purananuru, the Puram 65 by Kazhattalaiyar depicts this incident.

manmuzha marappanyazhmarappa
irunkat kuzhicikavizhntizhitumarappac
curumparteral curra maarppa
uzhava rote marappavizhuvum
akalulankat cirurmaarppa
uvavuttalaivanta perunalamayat
tanpol ventanmunpukuritterinta
val vatakkiruntina ninku
nalpoyikzhiyala nayirrupakale.[5]


Clay drums have been forgotten, yals that play
Music have been forgotten, huge pots are placed
Upside down and butter churning has been
Forgotten, relatives have forgotten to drink
Bee-swarming toddy, and small towns with
Broad streets have forgotten to celebrate festivals.
On the day when the full moon appears, the sun
And moon look at each other with their bright
Light. In the evening time, one sphere hides
Behind the mountains. Like that, embarrassed that
He took a wound on his back, the ruler with martial
Courage is facing north next tohis sword to die.
Will not go by like before, when the sun was shining.[6]

Vennikuyatti (Puram 66), Paranar (Akam 246), Mamulanar (Akam 55) were also referred this incident in the Sangam literature.

……… kanpatai pere en kanavaonpatai-
kkarikal valavanotu vennipparantalai-
pporutupunnaniya ceralatan
azhikale marunkin valvatakkiruntena
inna innurai ketta canror
arum peral ulakattavanotuceli iyar
perum piri takiyanku ppirintivan
katal venti yen turantu

Mamulanar (Akam 55)

In this Palai song, the neighbours came to relax a mother when her daughter runs away with her lover. At that time that mother compared her sorrow with the demise of the king Ceralatan. In this case her mind simultaneously thought about her life and death which was similar to the fame and defame of King Ceralatan. The king was wounded in his back and it was very defame to the king. To remove this defame, he left his breath fast by facing towards the Northern side.

……… alare
kaycina moympir perumpeyarkkarikal
arkuli naravin venni vayil
cirkezhumannar maraliya natpin
imizhcaimuracam porukala ttozhiya-
ppatinoru velirotu ventarcaya
moyvaliyarutta nanrai-
ttoyyaazhuntur arppinumperite.

Paranar (Akam 246)

The context of this Marutam song is a hero’s request to his lover’s friend for melting the anger of his beloved one. The friend discards his request by reminding his splash with a courtesan. Perchance, the friend mentioned the victorious battle of Venni by Karikala Cola. In her words, the anger of the heroine is stronger than the clamour of Karikala after the victory over both Cera and Pandya kings in the battle of Venni.

Here also historians have different opinion about this incident. According to K.K Kochu, Utiyan Ceralatan was not a contemporary to Karikala Cola.Because, the reign of Karikala was in the 2nd Century of Common Era and Utiyan belongs to the first century.[7] As well as in the Puram 66 Vennikuyattiyar does not specified the name Utiyan Ceralatan to refer that king who accepted his demise through “Vatakkirikkal”.[8]

naliyirumunnir navayotti


O heir of a mighty man who mastered the movement
Of the wind and had his ships sail on the huge Full Ocean!
You won the war displaying your abilities.
Yet, is he
Not a better person than you, the one who has gained
The greatly renowned world, giving up his life facing
The north, ashamed of the wound in his back?[9]

Footnotes and references:


Kuppuram G., Imperial Colas in Karnataka, (New Delhi: Sundeep Prakashan,1986),12.


Idem, literally the name “Karikalan” means “The man with black legs” indicates a fire accident in his early age.


Elamkulam Kunjan Pillai P.N, AnnatteKeralam, (Published by the Author, Kottayam: Distributed by National Book Stall, April 1970),60




The puram 65 by Kazhattalaiyar


Herbert Vaidehi, Purananuru -Translation with English meaning, (Chennai: Digital Maxim LLC, 2013), 65th Song


Kochu K.K., Kerala Caritravum Samuharupikaranavum, (Thiruvananthapuram: Keralabhasha Institute, March 2012),104




Puram6 6, by Vennikuyattiyar.

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