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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".
It is considered one of the five great Tamil epics according to later Tamil literary tradition, the others being Manimegalai, Silappadikaram, Valayapathi and Kundalakesi. 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. The epic is based on Sanskrit original and 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. 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. There are many commentaries on the book, the best on the work is believed to be by Naccinarkiniyar. The martial adventures of the hero and the social pictures of the age are depicted in the epic.
A king by the name of Caccantan 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. The book concludes that all the worldly pleasures Jivaka enjoyed was nothing but illusions distracting him from the path of spiritual salvation.
The work contains 3147 tetrastichs and is divided into 13 sections called illambakams.
- Namagal Ilambagam contains 408 verses detailing the story prior to the birth of the hero, Jivakan. It also details his birth; rescue from forest by a merchant Chitty when he was young; his mother fleeing from the assassin who murdered his husband, the king.
- Kovindiyar Ilambagam relates to the exploits of young Jivakan; his bravery detailed when he attacks the gang of freebooters who loot the city; his getting married to Kovindeyar, the daughter of a citizen in the city named Pasukavalam who gets impressed by his bravery. The section has 84 stanzas.
- Kandarvatatteyar Illambagam is derived from the celebrated musician, Tatteyar whose skill on Veena, an Indian string instrument was almost unrivalled. She was resolute not to marry anyone until her challenge is surpassed. Jivaka won the competition and gained him the coveted prize to marry her. The events are accounted in 358 stanzas in this section.
- Gundmaleyar Ilambagam contains 415 stanzas and presents two young women namely Gunamelai and Churamanjiri of high family contended for their superiority in possessing scented powders. The identical scents were difficult to differentiate and when Jivagan did it, Gunamelai agreed to marry him. Sudarshana Jakshadeva, who got transformed to a dog due to a sin is restored to his former form by Jivaga. Chirumanji is rescued by Jivaga from an elephant, which was about to attack her.
- Pathumeiyar Ilambagam narrates the travel of Jivaga to foreign lands in 246 verses. Jivaga saves Pathumai when she was bitten by a serpent while collecting flowers. Her father, Pallavam marries her to Jivaga as a sign of gratitude.
- Kemasariyar Ilambagam contains 145 verses and it describes the visit of Jivaga to Kshemadesam where he performs austerities that gains him admiration from the king. The king bestows his daughter, Kshema Sundari in marriage.
- Kanagamaleyar Ilambagam depicts the hero in a place called Susandesam where the king suspends on a high mark, promising to give his daughter in marriage to the person who succeeds in displacing the mark with an arrow. Jivaga wins the competition and gets married to the king's daughter namely Chisanti. The heroics is depicted in 30 stanzas.
- Kimaleyar Ilambagam has 107 stanzas, where Jivaga proceeds to Nanaadu where he meets his mother in Tandakarenyam and salutes her. When he returns to the city, a merchant, who gets wealthy on account of Jivaga bestows his daughter Vimalei in marriage.
- In the ninth ilambagam, Jivaga gets married to Suramanjari, who once vowed not to marry anyone during the perfume episode.
- Manamagal Ilambagam contains 358 stanzas and narrates the victory of Jivaga in marrying the daughter of his maternal uncle, the king of Videkam. Jivaga wins the competition of hitting the target with arrow and his fame spreads across. The assassin who killed Jivaga's father and now became a king suspected Jivaga to be the original heir of his kingdom. He plans to seize him and put him to death, but Jivaga wins the battle and ascends the throne of his ancestors.
- Purmagal Illambagam contains 51 stanzas that narrates the conquest of Jivaga of the dominions of his father's assassin. The country was called Emangadesam.
- Ilakaneiyar Illambagam contains 221 verses describing the nuptials of Jivaga and his maternal uncle's daughter, Illakanei.
- Mutti Illambagam is the final portion of the epic that depicts the religious acts of Jivaga and his wives, the partition of his dominions to his sons, and the denunciation of all secular pursuits by himself and his devoted females.
Civaka Cintamani is considered the most important work of Tamil Jain literature. It was written by Jain ascetic Thiruthakkadevar. 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. 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. Most grammarians quote this work as of undoubted authority.
Publishing in modern times
U. V. Swaminatha Iyer (1855-1942 CE) resurrected the first three epics from appalling neglect and wanton destruction of centuries. He reprinted these litreature present in the palm leaf form to paper books. Ramaswami Mudaliar, a Tamil scholar first gave him the palm leaves of Civaka Cintamani to study. Being the first time, Swaminatha Iyer had to face lot of difficulties in terms of interpreting, finding the missing leaves, textual errors and unfamiliar terms. 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. Along with the text, he added lot of commentary and explanatory notes of terms, textual variations and approaches explaining the context.
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