Author: Indira Parthasarathy
Translator(s): C T Indra
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN/UPC (if available): 0195664213
Published in 1978 in Tamil, The Legend of Nandan is a superbly contemporary drama about a seventh-century hero in a clash between high-caste Hindus and the suppressed people of a typical Tamil village.
Nandan, a bonded laborer, is deeply discontented with his servile existence, and yearns for a better way of life for himself and his people. His artistic appreciation of the dancing Lord Nataraja of Chidambaram temple leads him to seek and receive a darshan of the deity.
The upper-caste Hindus begin to feel threatened by the rise of Nandan, and enlist the help of the learned Vedic Brahmin, who misuses Nandan's piety and deceives him into submitting himself to a fire-bath in front of the Lord, so that he may emerge purified. Thus, Nandan's ambitious ascent from his low birth is effectively cut short.
The story of Nandan can be interpreted as a saga of the suffering of suppressed people everywhere. It deconstructs the original legends of Nandan which are inalienable to Hindu culture, and challenges society's canonization of bhakti and religious fervor.
This play will appeal to students and scholars of Tamil literature, South Asian literature in translation, and Indian theatre, as well as the general reader.
The Legend of Nandan
Appendix A-Appar's Tevaram, IV Tirumurai (IV 81.4)
Appendix B-Appar's Tevaram, VI Tirumurai (VI 55.6)
Appendix C-Devotional Poetry in Tamil
Appendix D-St Sekkizhar's Periya Puranam:
The Puranam of Tiru Nalai-p-povar
Critical Theory and a Reading of Nandan Kathai:
Hindu Culture as a Text by C T Indra