Friday, April 3, 2015

C is for the Civakacintamani (Epics from A to Z)

(Because it is a lot more fun to pronounce than El Cid)
(Also, warning: The original text contains explicit adult content. In very, very elaborate language)

The Civakacintamani is one of the five great Tamil epics, and it is also a religious poem of Jainism. It is known as the Book of Marriages. It was composed in the 10th century by a Jain monk named Tiruttakkatevar. It consists of 3145 verses, of which two-thirds have been meticulously translated and published in English. I read the first volume (verses 1-1165) in full, and the rest in summary.

The Hero
The hero of the epic is called Civakan; he is the son of King Caccantan who is so lost in the pleasures of loving his beautiful wife that he neglects his royal duties, and is killed by a traitor minister who takes over the kingdom. The pregnant queen escapes in a flying peacock machine (yes you read that right) and gives birth to Civakan on a burial ground. The prince is found and raised by a wealthy man who has no children of his own, and finds out about his origins later.
There is one thing you need to know about Civakan: Women love him. As in, they throw themselves at him. As in, they wail when he walks by. As in, their boobs literally pop out of their blouses when they see him. Yeah. He's popular. So much so that a lot of the headings in the translation read as "Women," "Other Women," "Still More Women," and, finally, "All the Women."
(He's also smart and strong and all of those other things)
The story of the epic pretty much sums up like this: Civakan travels the realm planning his vengeance against the traitor-king, does heroic things, fights heroic fights, and marries a lot of women. Eight, to be precise. After he gets all of them pregnant, he renounces the world, accepts the Jain teachings, and marries himself to omniscience.

The Highlights
Some of this epic is very steamy... Well, all right. A lot of it is very steamy (good to read epics from cultures where pleasure was not something to be ashamed of). The descriptions are long, elaborate, luxurious, and full of fruit and flower metaphors. The best one, however, goes like this:
The queen was like a ripened fruit for desire. 
The king was like a beautiful winged bat.
Hello, ladies.

Apart from the glorious language, the epic has some other great things as well. For example, the aforementioned flying mechanical peacock that is made specifically for the queen, and she practices flying it for several verses before it becomes her escape vehicle.
Also great is the scene where King Caccantan, to let his pregnant wife fly away, puts up an epic fight against the traitor and his army, and holds the upper hand until his last breath. He goes down with a fight for the ages. The closing lines of the verse are:
"... manly Caccantan sank down
so the desirable breasts of the Goddess
of the Earth pressed against him and
he waned away like the sinking sun."

There is also a brief mention of female sword troops protecting a princess. But I think they had me at "beautiful winged bat."


  1. Yay, a culture that weren't prudes! Sounds raunchy :) Boobs popping out of blouses sounds a little OTT!
    Tasha's Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

  2. I cannot stop thinking about that flying peacock machine...
    Charlotte @My Green Nook

  3. Okay, there is something epically wrong with hero being killed for loving on his wife. I mean come on!

  4. How exotic! I love the peacock. The language of a little flowery for me though.

  5. How exotic! I love the peacock. The language of a little flowery for me though.

  6. Now they sound like my kind of culture! :) I'd say the writer was being OTT about the ladies' reactions, but then again, we know the kinds of things women do for say, Robert Pattison and, if we want to go back a bit, The Beatles :)
    Sophie's Thoughts & Fumbles
    Wittegen Press

  7. culture shocks... we stop and listen.

  8. Enjoyed this. Sounds very steamy indeed.

  9. I do love other cultures :-) especially the ancient ones.

  10. This post literally had me laughing out loud. I love it! Civakan sounds like quite the stud, and who wouldn't swoon over winged bat metaphors? ;)

  11. If you can pronounce Civakacintamani you deserve a prize. It must sound much more exciting than El Cid. I loved your phrase describing the description:long, elaborate, luxurious. That speaks to my heart.

  12. I'm glad I checked 'MopDog' first. This post erased the horror of the first one.
    Evalina, This and that...

  13. It's truly interesting to learn about a culture in which sexual desire is not looked down on as shameful (though the king being killed does send th emessage that loving your wife too much is bad). I know next to nothing about Jainism, so will read up on it a bit. #AtoZChallenge

  14. I have to wonder how all those women felt being married to such a man. Really written for male readers I believe.

  15. I am Tamilian and surprisingly never heard of this Epic ... will certainly look it up in my library and read it the next time.
    Thanks for the post ...there is a Tamil saying 'katradhu kaimannalavu .. kalladadu ulagalavu' that means ... what we know is equal to the few grains of sand we could hold in our hand .. and what we do not know is the rest of the universe...
    We learn something new everyday.
    Thanks for the post of the Tamil Epic.

  16. Fascinating! I love epics and haven't heard of this one. Thanks for introducing me to something new. (I hope you're doing Gilgamesh for G)

    Hi from Nagzilla bloghopping A to Z

  17. Hahaha sexy times epic! Love it :) Kindof interesting that he ends up giving up his earthly pleasures after all that, though. I guess we humans are always just a little prudish...
    ~AJ Lauer
    an A-Z Cohost
    @ayjaylauer on Twitter

  18. This sounds quite... different :-)

  19. My, my, is it getting hot in here?

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  21. Where do I get me one of those peacock flying machine thingies? I have D- cup breasts a- heaving with covetous desire here...

  22. Just "a flying peacock machine" makes me want to read this.

  23. Civakan wonderful story ... and very lucky ... What man does not like to feel desired by women?

  24. A hilarious post :) I'm not quite sure I take to the bat analogy but a powerful female army? Yay girl power!

  25. Oh wow I learned about an Indian epic I never knew about. I am also blogging about one of the great epics of India.
    Glad to have found you. Dropping by from the AtoZ Challenge
    Suzy at Someday Somewhere

  26. ah! so today you bring me a tale from my own country...but..but...but..I did not know about this tale (ahem ahem...) and Thank you for letting me read about it! love was definitely nothing to be ashamed of in times of yore!

  27. Flyring peacock machine + fruit bat = exotic, medieval batmobile? I love how you are bringing this epic to light for everyone, including people from India.

  28. Civakacintamani, starring Mike Myers. He starts out as Austin Powers, and eventually becomes the Love Guru.

  29. I love the prose of it. So poetic and powerful.
    I wish boobs would pop out when I walked by.

    2015 A to Z Challenge Ambassador

  30. sounds very epic - a nice read. Clearly he had a lot of energy.

  31. That's my kind of hero! Womanizers and men with huge egos can be so fun if they're written well

  32. I've been amazed how "open" many of the classical texts are. The Thousand Nights is quite open about sex from both sides, even including women spanking men, "The Tale of Genji" has polyamory and a very similar sounding hero,"The Story of the Stone" has some of the most interesting female characters I have ever read in premodern literature, and "Kuunmong: Cloud Dream of the Nine" is also polyamorous with warrior women. Premodern lit rocks. :) This looks like another awesome one.

    Alex Hurst, A Fantasy Author in Kyoto
    A-Z Blogging in April Participant

  33. The traditional theme for heroic/vengeance novels

  34. Whoa! Ancient steampunk! Sweet! And fangirling too. I'm in awe! This would be interesting to check out.

  35. A flying peacock machine? I'm sold!

  36. It sounds very interesting. $90 for hardcover and $31.20 for an ebook- yikes. I can't help but wonder about that cost. Yet it sounds so interesting!