Cīvaka Cintāmaṇi

Civaka Cintamani (Tamil: சீவக சிந்தாமணி Cīvaka Cintāmaṇi) is a classical epic poem. It is a Jain religious epic authored by Tirutakkatevar. Civaka Cintamani means "fabulous gem", is also known by alternative name Mana nool (Tamil: மண நூல்) or "Book of Marriages".[1]

It is considered one of the five great Tamil epics according to later Tamil literary tradition, the others being Manimegalai, Silappadikaram, Valayapathi and Kundalakesi.[2] In its form, it anticipates the Ramayana of Kambar. Cīvaka Cintāmaṇi was much appreciated by the Chola king who was its patron and was well received at his Chola court. It has been admired for its poetic form, appealing story-line, and theological message. The story concerns a hero who through his virtue rises to become king, only to renounce his high station and pursue a life of religious merit.

It was composed during the 10th century CE by Thiruthakka Thevar, a Jain monk. It narrates the romantic exploits of Jeevaka and throws light on arts of music and dance of the era. It is reputed to have been the model for Kamba Ramayanam.[3] The epic contains the exposition of Jain doctrines and beliefs. It is a mudi-porul-thodar-nilai-seyyul (Tamil: முடி பொருள் தொடர் நிலை செய்யுள்), a treatise of the fourfold object of life and aim of literary work of virtue, wealth, pleasure and bliss.[4] It is in 13 books or illambagams and contains 3147 stanzas. It is noted for its chaste diction and sublime poetry rich in religious sentiments and replete with information of arts and customs of social life.[4][5] There are many commentaries on the book, the best on the work is believed to be by Naccinarkiniyar.[5] The martial adventures of the hero and the social pictures of the age are depicted in the epic.[6]

A king by the name of Caccantan (சச்சந்தன் ) loses himself in sexual enjoyment with his queen and inadvertently gives control of his kingdom to his corrupt minister Kattiyankaran. Kattiyankaran attacks Caccantan, and before the king dies he sends his now pregnant wife away on a flying peacock machine. Exiled in a cremation ground, she gives birth to Civakan, the titular character. Civakan grows up in a merchant's home and becomes the epitome of a Jain hero. He precedes through a number of adventures, marrying numerous women over the course of these events and all the while carrying on an affair with a dancing girl. Eventually, Civakan returns to take vengeance on Kattiyankaran, winning back the throne. He then marries his eighth and final wife, a personification of omniscience. Soon after he becomes weary of worldly life and, after meeting with Mahavira, he renounces the world.[7] The book concludes that all the worldly pleasures Jivaka enjoyed was nothing but illusions distracting him from the path of spiritual salvation.[1]

The work contains 3147 tetrastichs and is divided into 13 sections called illambakams.[8]

Civaka Cintamani is considered the most important work of Tamil Jain literature. It was written by Jain ascetic Thiruthakkadevar.[12] The work also stands as a proof of secular outlook of Chola kings during the period. Though they were Hindus, they encouraged the Jain education and arts.[13] He is believed to be a learned scholar acquainted with Akattiyam and Tolkappiyam, the celebrated Tamil grammar works. He is also believed to have deep acquaintance in Sanskrit and Vedas.[14] Most grammarians quote this work as of undoubted authority.[14]

U. V. Swaminatha Iyer (1855-1942 CE) resurrected the first three epics from appalling neglect and wanton destruction of centuries.[3] He reprinted these literature present in the palm leaf form to paper books.[15] Ramaswami Mudaliar, a Tamil scholar first gave him the palm leaves of Civaka Cintamani to study.[3] Being the first time, Swaminatha Iyer had to face a lot of difficulties in terms of interpreting, finding the missing leaves, textual errors and unfamiliar terms.[3] He set for tiring journeys to remote villages in search of the missing manuscripts. After years of toil, he published Civaka Cintamani in book form in 1887 CE followed by Silapadikaram in 1892 CE and Manimekalai in 1898 CE.[3] Along with the text, he added lot of commentary and explanatory notes of terms, textual variations and approaches explaining the context.[3]