Kundalakesi – 2
Sick men don’t bother about medicine’s taste;
warmth seekers don’t bother about fire’s smoke.
Wise men won’t consider lapses in my words as lapses,
when I praise the one who overcame all three poisons.
நோய்க்குற்ற மாந்தர் மருந்தின்சுவை நோக்க கில்லார்
தீக்குற்ற காத லுடையார்புகைத் தீமை யோரார்
போய்க்குற்றமூன்று மறுத்தான்புகழ் கூறு வேற்கென்
வாய்க்குற்றசொல்லின் வழுவும்வழு வல்ல வன்றே.
Kundalakesi is one of the five great epics of Tamil literature. Three of these are Jainism based (Seevaka Sinthamani, Silappathikaaram, Valayaapathi) and two are Buddishm based (Manimekalai and Kundalakesi). Kundalakesi is estimated to have been written before 5th Century AD. Only 19 of the 99 verses of Kundalakesi are available today.
It is about Kundalakesi, daughter of a rich merchant in Puhar, who falls in love with a thief Kaalan about to be beheaded. Her father pleads with the King and saves Kaalan from death. After marriage one day she playfully calls him thief. Enraged by this , he plans to kill her and takes her to a mountain peak to push her down. When he tells this to her, she requests him to let her go around him three times as worship before being killed. He agrees. She goes behind him and pushes him down , killing him. Then she repents and becomes a Buddhist monk. She defeats Jain and Hindu scholars in theological debates.
In this poem, the poet says “see the content and forgive any mistakes in my form. Like how sick men don’t bother about the taste of medicine or those who seek warmth don’t bother about smoke from fire, those who want to learn the teachings of Buddha will overlook any mistakes I make”.
“One who overcame all three poisons” refers to Buddha. In Buddhism, three poisons – desire, hatred, ignorance or greed, anger, foolishness (காமம், வெகுளி, மயக்கம்) – are considered root of all human misery.