Saturday, July 12, 2008

Dasavatharam – Kamal’s 12th Avathar!

I was truly amazed throughout the time

I was watching the movie ‘Dasavatharam’

a few days ago.

Not because of the many reasons that we find

circulated in the net and in the print media.

But because I saw Kamal in a hidden role - a 12th role,

beyond the 11 th role which he said of himself

for penning the story and dialogue.

Outwardly he started with some rationale to explain the physical phenomena

by means of Chaos theory and Butterfly effect,

whereas what he was doing throughout the movie was

to rationalize the way people (characters) behave,

using karma theory

incorporating all the complexities of

vaasanas and gunas.

Rangaraja nimbi, Sikh and Vincent Poovarahan (Bhoo varahan)

are powerful portrayals of how vaasanas cling to one

and influence one through the births.

Let me explain like this.

People will react differently for a similar situation.

Why they react differently is decided by some imprints in their minds.

We can not say how these imprints have come to be there.

They may be acquired in the course of one’s life

or present as an in-born quality.

When it is present as an inborn quality,

a question comes how it came to be inborn.

It is here the inevitable explanation of re-birth and

carrying over of vaasanas (attitudes) and gunas (characters)

from the previous births come into fore.

The plot of incidents that one encounters in life

is decided by previous karma.

In the movie we find Nambhi’s character as that of one

who was ready to give up even his wife and family

for the sake of a notion/ passion.

The Sikh character is an opposite of this.

The Sikh too had a strong notion or ideal / passion for singing.

But when the situation came to choose between the two,

he was ready to sacrifice his passion for the sake of his wife / family.

(His dialogues as penned by Kamal are such that)

The way people weigh the situations

depends on vaasanas which we call as perspective.

The perspectives can not be thrust on someone.

It emerges inside one.

The inborn perspective which we call as vaasana

determines how one behaves.

The contrasting reactions based on vaasana

is portrayed in two characters facing a similar predicament.

Now let me come to the core issue of the movie,

which I believe was the core issue for Kamal too

when he shaped the characters and incidents.

I can see 2 re-births in the movie.

One is the re-birth of Kulotthunga Cholan as Poovarahan

and another that of Nambhi as Govind.

Taking up the first one,

even the pronunciation of ‘Bhoo’ in Bhoo varahan as ‘poo’

by the Bhoovarahan character,

seems to be the ironical way

in which Destiny operates.

The perfect Tamil of the Cholan is for that birth only.

Any passion he attaches to it is due to his guna- mix (the 3 gunas).

That passion manifests as an obsession.

When that mix is carried through the births,

the obsession also is carried on.

Try to teach such a character to pronounce ‘Bhoo’ correctly,

he will anyway say ‘poo’ only!

The obsession to something that he clings to stays with him.

The obsession is the vaasana that is carried over.

Another one we notice is the pride in the cholan king

in protecting the land.

The same pride continues to shine in his re-birth as Bhoo varahan.

Varaha is the avatar responsible for the up-liftment of land.

This Bhoo varahan, continues with his pride

and sense of protection of land in a later birth too

making him fight for the land.

Kamal indicates that Bhoovarahan is the rebirth of Cholan

in the introductory scene of Bhoo varahan

when he shows the TV persons,

with pride gleaming in his eyes,

the ruins in the sand quarry

as those of Kulotthunga Cholan.

Sense of protection of the land (kingdom) was the foremost in a king.

A similar sense of protection of land

(Bhoovarahan talks passionately about this)

is found in the person in a future birth.

The cholan did an atrocious thing to a friend

(Nambhi was known to him as his friend)

and made him to die by drowning.

Bhoovarahan, as a ‘prayaschittha’ to the act done in that previous birth,

could not allow even a foe’s family to die

and in the act of saving them,

he died in water!

What a poetic justice!

Or shall we call it as Destiny?

The connections don’t end here.

The parivar of the Cholan could not raise a whimper against him.

But Bhoovarahan’s coterie went against him and his expectations

and enjoyed the hospitality of his foes.

(He sees this in the close-circuit TV in the movie)

The Cholan ridiculed that Nambhi should not go to Kailasam,

and instead he could go to Vaikuntam.

But Bhoovarahan was blessed by Krishnaveni to go to Vaikuntam!!

Here I find Kamal in his 12th avatar.

He not only grasps the connections in birth-rebirth series,

but also establishes the Ultimate theory

of the end of jiva’s journey in Vaikuntam!

vaikuntam pugudalum maNNavar vidhiyE”,

says Nammazhwar. (Thiruvaimozhi 10-9-9)

The final destiny of all the people born in this world is to go to vaikuntam.

This means ceasing to be born again and again.

This philosophy, ably articulated by Ramanujacharya

seems to have caught up with Kamal

that he decided on this dialogue by Krishnaveni!

The shiva-vishnu quarrel is basically about the fruit of devotion to respective Gods.

The Vishnu cult is that those who go to Vaikuntam would not be reborn,

whereas devotion to any other god will take one to respective abodes of those gods

which do not ensure the release from the cycle of rebirth.

Though the Cholan was a staunch follower of Shiva in a previous birth,

he too someday would have to go to Vaikuntam,

to leave this cycle of rebirth.

He seems to have got this at least in the wishes of Krishnaveni.

The 12th avatar I see of Kamal is this influence of Ramanuja on him.

Even the opening dialogue of Nambhi in the movie was

adiyen Ramanuja dasan’.

Coming to Nambhi’s character and its further manifestation

in Govind of present times-

Nambhi was not such a strong character in faith in his religious preaching,

as many viewers would seem to think.

The story is seen to be at the time of Ramanuja and

mention about Koorathazhwar also is there.

The one characteristic of Ramanuja’s followers was “vairagya” – steadfastness.

Koorathazhwar did not wait for Cholan’s men to pierce his eyes.

He himself pierced his eyes.

His companion, Peria Nambhi too pierced his eyes!

The vairagyam was the hallmark of unwavering disciples of Ramanuja.

The difficult anushtaanam (code of ethics) to aspire for Vaikuntam

also required them to be strong in their mind.

But Nambhi’s character betrayed this at two places.

When his wife cried, the look in Nambhi’s face was that of helplessness.

The action of Kamal for those brief seconds did not show the vairagya

expected of a disciple of Ramanuja.

Again when Nambhi’s son was made to go round

as though he was going round the pyre,

Kamal’s expression was that of startlingness.

A strong one at heart would have been calm at that time.

Though Nambhi maintained outward calmness,

his expressions betrayed a ‘niraasai’ - helplessness.

I am not sure whether Kamal planned the expressions

in these two instances deliberately.

But, later as Govind,

we can see a continuation of vacillation

in Faith to God –

as a carried-over vaasana.

Even the last dialogue of the movie

is the continuation of Nambhi’s pangs (or aadhangam)

at the last moments of his existence.

If only God had sprung out a miracle and saved him,

how nice it would have been.

This must have been the thought in Nambhi’s mind,

given the forlorn expressions he showed at his wife and son.

In the last scene Kamal as Govind says,

kadavuL illai-na sonnen.

kadavuL irundha nall irukkum –nu sonnen”

It will be good if God is there -

the same thought that Nambhi would have had.

If these scenes and dialogues are planned ones,

my 100 percent kudos to Kamal.

Only a gyani capable of perceiving how destinies operate

can create / imagine such connectivity.

If unplanned, then again my kudos to kamal,

for, his is case of ‘gyanam siddhikkirathu’

Knowledge occurs to him!

Knowledge occurs to the one

whose mind and consciousness are like a ploughed ground

and ready for germination.

To such a person, says Krishna,

I give buddhi’ (dadami buddhi yogam BG -10-10)

Besides the above mentioned ones,

I find only 2 categories in the movie,

one about how things happen on their own accord, not by our efforts(!?)

and another is about Kamal making up other roles to complete

a feat of donning 10 roles.

I believe, the title “navarathri’ of Shivaji film

was the inspiration for the title.

Kamal had apparently wanted to go a level up than Shivaji.

The tsunami must have stirred his thought.

A single tsunami –

but in how many different ways people had been affected!!

Even those who died must have experienced different degrees of pangs of death.

Why such variations?

These issues must have kindled his mind.

At one level Kamal attempted to find causes for physical occurrences,

At a deeper level,

he seems to have felt the urge to rationalize

why people get affected differently in a given situation.

The result is the inevitable sojourn into

philosophy, vedantha, karma theory and god.

A Nambhi could not save the moorthy at Chidambaram.

Nambhi’s incarnation Govind too could not save the world

off the deadly biological weapon,

inspite of all his efforts.

But the moorthy of Chidambaram

who did not save itself nor Nambhi,

saved too many people later

from that weapon!

This moorthy did not do anything to save itself.

Nor did it save Nambhi who thought he could save it.

Nor did it ‘punish’ the cholan for the misdeed.

But it had them proceed to further positions in time and space

and act in accordance with their past deeds and vaasanas.

'Who saves whom?'

yaar yaarai-k-kaapppaatrugirar?

This is how Destiny operates and

how God is just there as the womb housing everything

and himself remaining a silent witness,

yet showing his presence and might!

Another strong reason to say

why Kamal is in the path of some awakening

is the dialogues on Periyaar and Kalaigjar (karunanidhi)

When Asin wonders if it is that periyaar (EVR)

he says,

“ not that periyaar (Ramasamy naiker)

This Periyaar is another one..

This one is really a periyaar..”

Does he mean Rama swamy - Lord Rama, the Real Periyaar?

Again his dialogue on Karunanidhi–

‘not this Kalaigjar,

the other Kalaingjar’ –

does he mean God, the Master Artist?

Even the roles he assigned for Karunanidhi and Jayalalitha

do smack of a hidden message!!

Karunanidhi – the lover of praises does what he always does –

gloating as an invitee at functions in the movie.

Jayalalitha – the soldier like person who gets down to work,

is seen doing work – busy with her chores.

The 2 objectionable dialogues :-

(1) Azhagiya singar – understood as ‘Beautiful singer’ by Balaram naidu.

Asin’s father unnecessarily brings in Srimad Azhagiya singar’s name (Jeer)

and repeats the name to Naidu who does not seem to understand

whom (what) he is talking about.

He translates the name

and asks “Beautiful singer, Madonna?’

Not many would have understood this.

Only Iyengars could have understood.

But it is clearly blasphemous and could have been avoided.

(2) The sudden and unwarranted intrusion of caste in Asin’s father’s dialogue

when Krishnaveni was weeping over the body of Bhoo varahan.

People must know that un-touchability as it was practiced against dalits

was not practiced by Brahmins.

The one engaged in austerities, vratha, prayer etc will not touch anything, anyone.

He will not touch his own family members,

even his child till his pooja or vratham was over.

Krishnaveni in traditional widowhood attire is a stanch follower of such austerities.

It is for that reason she does not touch others.

Kamal’s dialogue here is against truth.

He gives a wrong impression to the viewer about Brahmins.

The places where Kamal slipped:-

(1) Perumal is never taken out in procession

without his consorts, Sridevi and Bhoo devi.

The perumal going in procession near Asin’s house

looks odd without his consorts.

(2) The observance of widowhood as shown

by the physical appearance of Krishnaveni

is not followed in Iyengar households.

(3) What purpose the ‘shousalaya’ dialogue serves?

Does Kamal mean to ridicule the language used in Iyengar homes?

Let him know that this is not in usage in Brahmin homes.

But he can find its usage in North India.

All public toilets in Hindi heartland bears this name.

(4) The Cholan did not tolerate anyone sporting Thiruman

(vaishnava –signs on forehead)

How did he allow so many vaishnavites with Thiruman in the scene

Nambhi was tied and taken to the sea?

(5) The scenes on Asin throwing her thali and

her son being made to go round as in funeral ceremony are too much ‘masala’

something not in concurrence with the period of Nambhi’s times.

Even in the current times, throwing the thali away can be seen only in movies.

The film makers have scant regard for tradition and sentiments.

But people do have respect for them.

Also it is a matter of debate whether ‘thali’ (thirumangalyam)

was worn in those days.

Nambhi episode happens at Ramanuja’s times.

It means more than 800 years ago.

A few centuries prior to that, Andal had lived.

Mention of thali was conspicuously absent in her ‘varanamayiram’ pasurams.

(6) The slokas that Nambhi says are out of place with the situation.

When the king's men are banging the door,

one will not be saying "sashanka chakram" describing Perumal's physical beauty.

Kamal says this sloka with pain ( kadicchi thuppi sollugirar).

This sloka is to be said in peace, in happiness,

while experiencing the physical appearance of Perumal.

Instead Kamal could have said,

'Kaayenavaacha..... narayanaya ithi samarpayami' sloka.

The situation is getting out of his control.

He (Nambhi) does not know what to do next.

Whatever he does is in the service of Narayana.

The fight, the resistance and the probable bloodshed

which he may have to cause to others -

let all that be Narayana's.

This sloka could have been the apt one here.

(7) Again at the time of getting tied to perumal's Thirumeni

and seeing his son go round as though in a funeral ceremony,

instead of giving startled and helpless looks,

kamal could have recited the Charama sloka,

the core teaching of Ramanuja, given by none other than

Sri Krishna to Arjuna in the battlefield.

It is

"sarva dharmaan parithyajya maam ekam sharanam vraja/

aham tva sarva paabhebyO mokshayisyami maasu cha://"

Surrender unto me, sacrificing all your dharmas.

I will grant you Moksham.

That is the way Ramanuja- disciple behaves.

Kamal could have done some better home-work on these 2 scenes in selection of slokas.

Kamal’s perfect timing on issues of today.

(1) Govind saying in the initial scene that the Nambhi episode

happened at a time when Christianity and Islam were not there.

I am curious to know what Karunanidhi and

movie makers of St Thomas film would be thinking.

(2) Govind tells Asin he does not know why he made

the destructive biological weapon.

The reply to this is contained in the survey findings

of whether Indian scientists believe in God.

A majority of them said that they do believe in God

and it is because of this belief

they can not and would not make destructive biological weapons.

Kamal as Govind is not sure of God’s existence.

Such a person is capable of making such weapons.

In conclusion, I must say the movie is an entertainer outwardly.

Donning up roles should not mean wearing masks

which he has been doing from Avvai shanmuki onwards.

The real success lies in changing the looks sans mask,

and projecting a different personality.

Only Bhoovarahan and Naidu score well on this account.

The rationalization that Govind does with Chaos theory and butterfly effect

is only like touching the tip of the ice berg.

But they are not correct reasons.

The physical phenomena can not be understood

unless we recognize the 3rd factor in Space-time scale.

This third factor is ‘event’.

Space and Time started at Big-bang according to scientists.

But they have so far failed to recognize the presence of ‘event’ too

intertwined with Space- time.

It is Space-Time-Event that started with Big-bang or Creation.

Every moment at time and space has an event too.

Scientists can say what event is associated at 1 minute after Big bang,

or at 1 million, or 1 billion years after the Big bang.

But they have failed to incorporate it in Space-time conundrum.

The Space-time-Event conundrum

can be explained by an example.

The day is the time between sun rise and sun set.

The sun (in effect the earth) covers a specific space and time in the day.

But the condition is not the same throughout the day.

It will be less hot in morning and very hot post noon.

This condition is the event connected with Space-time journey of the sun.

We, the people (all chethanas or created beings) live in this

Space-Time-Event conundrum of the sun

and experience them differently.

One person going out in the sun may faint.

Another one may just feel hot and sweat.

Another one may get his skin tanned.

Yet another one may develop rashes.

The same sun moving in space and time causes these different events.

The events are not felt the same by all people.

And not all people experience same kind of events in this example.

There are many who would not even experience these events.

This is how it happens with destiny or karma.

It is on this basis only predication are made in Astrology.

Varahamihira has spelt this non-separateness of event with time.

Space-Time- Event are always there.

Whether you are there or not to experience a particular event

is dependent on your karma.

If the universe can be observed in its entirety from outside,

taking into account all the events at every part of space-time,

it will be possible to say why the tsunami (the event) occurred.

The physical occurrence in the world can be explained only in this way.

About lives (jivas), Kamal has done a good job.

Read also:-


Anonymous said...

It enables us to express our feelings and opinions.

Jayasree Saranathan Ph.D said...


Ram said...

whow! that is connecting quite a many things!

Venkatesh said...

Smt Jayasree,

A great write up. As Satish said, surely Kamal "might" not have thought about these things in such finer details. The best one was your reference to "kAyEnavAchA.." and "sarva dharmAn parityajya..". Yes those would have been very apt.

One small correction to your write up is, the companion of KoorathAzhwar was not Mudhaliandan but Periya Nambi.

Regarding the "thAli" issue, the observation is very valid. However, it looks like the concept of "thAli" has crept in between the times of Andal and Thirumangai Azhwar. If one would observe clearly, Andal elaborates on a Brahministic Wedding in her Varanamayiram pAsurams. That goes to prove that "Thirumangalyam" or "thAli" was not a part of Brahmin Rituals in her days. But essentially it was a part of the "paNdaith thamizhar" marabu.

This may raise a lot of eyebrows and may even lead to something like a discussion on Aryan-Dravidian divide. My intention is not on that. I am sure we would all agree that there was a difference in the marabu followed by the Tamizhs and the ones followed by the Indians from the North. Let me stop saying that there was a migration, repeat migration and not invasion, from North to South and both the cultures mixed up very well harmoniously. In that process the Brahmins, who were more Sanskrit oriented adopted, the thAli practice.

Now coming to Thirumangai Azhwar's pAsuram on Thiruvallikkeni, he says that "... sandhamal kuzhalAL alakkaN nURRuvar tham peNdirum eidhi, nool izhappa..."

"sandhamal kuzhalAL" refers to Draupadhi,with Dark Hair, "alakkaN"- the difficulties faced by her, "nURRuvar tham peNdir" refers to the wives of the 100 Kauravas and comes the main word "nool izhappa". This refers to the fact that all the 100 Kauravas were killed in the battle and hence all their wives lost their "nool" or what is otherwise called as "thAli".

It is interesting to note that Thirumangai Azhwar was referring to some Indians in the north, but attributed his understanding of the marriage to them. Hence used the word "nool" referring to "thAli". However if one would want to say that as Thirumangai Azhwar was referring to North Indians wives as having "thAli" then it is evident that the Brahmins also practised it, then it will not go well with Andal's Varanamayiram pAsuram, in which she talks about all the rituals of wedding except the "thirumangalya thAraNam", which if prevalent at those times, she would have definitely referred to.

Jayasree Saranathan Ph.D said...

Thanks Venkatesh.

The correction is made about Peria Nambhi.

About other issues,
tahli was not mentioned in olden Tamil texts.Read my post on this.

You will find my old write-ups on this in Oppiliappan archives. I am collecting more info on this which will be posted in this blog.

You wont come across any reference to mangala 'sutra' in Valmiki Ramayana and Mahabharatha.
But the thread or sutra or thali is mentioned symbolically in Soundarya lahari as the 3 gunas tied to the neck of a woman. The status of woman in viavaha dharma itself is that of manas having the three gunas. More on this in my post

About your views on Aryan - dravidian, I am sorry, I wont agree, I have written enough on this in this blog (find it in the link section) which I will continue after sometime.

Something on vairagya.
The 18 point path way is not an easy thing. Adhering to a 'bhava' of seshatwa is easier said than done!

குருபிரசாத் said...

This post has given me a different perspective on Dasavatharam. I wish I watch it once again and correlate the points in depth. Great job, JS.

Anonymous said...

Madam, I would like to say a few points about Kamal. I started disliking Kamal right from his "Anbe-Sivam" movie. He showed Nasser as a Shiva devotee and who was evil in character. But when Kamal met with an accident and was hospitalised, it was shown as if the Christian Nuns were very kind people and they looked after him. This is what we say brainwashing children and illiterates. Regarding Dasavatharam, I cannot agree on the starting scene itself. I too believed there was really such a ruthless battle between Shaivites and Vaishnavites. But after knowing the authentic life history of Ramanujacharya from the Sriperumbudur mutt, I was enraged. What really happened was:- Ramanuja worked against casteism and untouchability, as we all know. He wanted all people to enter Srirangam temple. The Vaishnavite brahmins who were unhappy with this, thought of a plan to send Ramanuja in exile and regain control over the temple. So they joined hands with the ministers of Kulothunga Cholan, and started triggering the tension between Shaivites and Vaishnavites. They spoke about this to Cholan, and the king who was powerless had to yield to the pressure. When Kooresa and Periya Nambi came to know this, they wanted to save Ramanuja. So, they instructed the disciples in the mutt to tell Ramanuja, who was out then to run out of the city when he returned. Kooresa wore Ramanuja's clothes and he masqueraded as Ramanuja and was taken before Cholan. But the Vaishnavite brahmins who were present in the court knew Ramanuja, and hence told the king that it was Kooresa and not Ramanuja. Cholan asks Kooresa politely, "Where is Ramanuja now?" for which Kooresa replies "He left the city". At this reply, Cholan turns to the brahmins and asks "You wanted Ramanuja to be sent out. Now he himself has left. So set Kooresa and Periya Nambi free". But the brahmins and ministers say that they are'nt satisfied still and demanded that Kooresa and Periya Nambi had to be punished. Cholan is powerless once again, and yields to the pressure. However, he says "Pazhi ennudayathu alla" and asks them to do whatever they wish and he leaves the place. Kooresa and Periya Nambi's eyes are plucked. Kuresa becomes blind and Periya Nambi dies. This is what happened. Cholan was not so evil, as he is portrayed. Napoleon is shown as if Cholan wished Nambi's death. First of all, Nambi was a fictious character. There was no one called Nambi. Please understand. It has become a habit for all people (cine actors, TV anchors, artistes) to ridicule Hindus or show Hindus in poor light. Kamal is notorious for such things. He has shown a noble Hindu king in bad light. Even if Kulothunga Cholan was a fanatic, does Kamal have the guts to portray what Alberqurque and Aurangzeb did to the Hindus? Is he a true man then? Or is he brave enough to show what MahendravarmanI did to Thirunavukkarasar after he reconverted to Shaivism (though Jains do not cause any problems to Hindus unlike Christians and Muslims).

Anonymous said...

Many people talk of the greatness of the movie. I liked Kamal for his efforts, but not for his intentions. I am talking of the climax scene after the Tsumani. He questions Asin, who is a Hindu outwardly regarding her beliefs, why did'nt he exhibit the courage to question Nagesh, who is a Muslim regarding his beliefs? What would have happened if he had done so? I will tell one small instance. When I was watching the movie, Nagesh says to Kalifullah Khan(Kamal) that if they had'nt been in the mosque, the giant waves would have taken them also, and hence they must thank Allah for that. Seeing this, my 10-year old niece asked me:- "Then if we too convert to Islam, will we become immortal?" This is just one way of brainwashing children and illiterates. Make no mistake, I doubt whether Kamal is also funded by Christian and Muslim missionaries. I expect a reply from you and also some action regarding this. We all know Kamal is a noted Hindu-basher, and still people are preferring to watch his movies, even if their religion is shown in bad light. I wonder will they atleast feel if their parents are shown similarly. I have a friend who is a staunch Shaivite. He doesnt visit Vishnu temples, not even Tirumala. I asked him have you seen Thirunavukkarasar movie? He said no. But when asked about Dasavatharam (which shows Shavivites in poor light), he gladly said he had seen the movie 4 times. I was ashamed to hear it.
This is the position of Hindus today!!

Jayasree Saranathan Ph.D said...

True Balaji, I share your thoughts.
Since I dont see movies much, I dont know about Anbe sivam. I have seen only humour ones by Kamal, This movie, I wanted to see, since I read about some connection to Bhagawad Ramanuja.

Anonymous said...

Nothing wrong in that madam, but you must have known what Kamal's religious attitude is. Will he show the brighter side of Hinduism?

Anonymous said...

Madam, if you dont mind, may I have your e-mail ID. I have several things to say on similar issues.

Jayasree Saranathan Ph.D said...

What Kamal does is what the DMK politicians say - they will abuse Hinduism and not other religions because they are born in that religion and they want to reform it. This is the basis of their 'paguttharivu vaadam'.

But this movie seems to show that what kamal is saying outward is something other than what he seems to have evolved inside. His inner thoughts as depicted in the movie that I wrote, have come to him without his awareness. Hope he will grow in that inner wisdom.

Jayasree Saranathan Ph.D said...

No problem Balaji, you send your comment. i will interact.

Jayasree Saranathan Ph.D said...

Dear balaji,
I gained from your comments. Your comments are most welcome.

Anonymous said...

Great blog and strong contents. I read good articles about the world rivers at The World Rivers

maddydilip said...

Well,But I enjoyed the Dialogue,Azhagiya Singar?Madonna...

I know he mentioned some samiyar but When Kamal replied Madonna,It made me laugh over and over again.
Every people will enjoy the humour in this and not only Iyengars as you expected.
Hats off to Kamal,a real geinus.