Reflections of Hindu Saivite Mythology in the Annanmar Story

The Legend of Ponnivala is an Indian story best known in the Tamil language as the Annanmar Kathai (or Tale of the Elder Brothers). As this popular name indicates, the story is generally thought to feature the courageous exploits of two brave men: Ponnar and Shankar. But looking deeper into this great tale, one finds a subtle commentary that offers a telling female perspective on heroism.

The mother and elder heroine is named Tamarai (“lotus woman”). She was born in a lotus blossom from a drop of Lord Shiva’s own semen, which fell to earth during his love-play with 새티스파이어 his wife Parvati. Tamarai is a pillar of strength and determination, and indeed she sits on a high pillar in prayer for twenty one years. Tamarai’s life, taken as a whole, closely fits with what Wendy Doniger recognized as the Classic Saiva Cycle of Myth Motifs. To paraphrase Doniger, the basic Saivite story can be outlined as:

1. The Initial Creative Impulse:

There is an initial creation where a female child emerges from Brahma (her male, and only, “parent”). After this emergence, Brahma comes to desire his lovely daughter. She takes the form of a doe and flees, with him chasing in the form of a stag. His seed falls to earth and generates sages and other lifeforms.

 

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