இந்தப் பக்கத்தை தமிழில் வாசிக்க: கமலாம்பாள் சரித்திரம்
Kamalambal Charithiram, known to be the second novel in Tamil, was written in 1893 by B.R Rajam Iyer. This was the first serialized Tamil novel. This was also the first novel in Tamil where the protagonist and titular character is a woman. Critics also credit it as being the first realistic novel in Tamil to be written without any influence of English narrative styles. It is considered to be the first novel of artistic significance in Tamil, owing to its elaborate characterization, the exploration of the psychology behind emotions, the telling of the story without melodrama or over-dramatization and the element of humour.
B.R Rajam Iyer started writing the novel as a serial in February 1893 in the monthly magazine Viveka Cinthamani. The story was serialized over three years with the title as Aniyaya Abavatham Allathu Kamalambaal Charithiram. It was published as a novel in 1896 with the title changed as Abathukkidamana Abavatham Allathu Kamalambal Charithiram.
When this story came out in Viveka Cinthamani, the author's name mentioned in it was B.R. Sivasubramania Iyer B.A. However, when it was published as a novel in 1896, it was changed to B.R. Sivasubramania Iyer alias B.R Rajam Iyer. In the subsequent editions, the name B.R. Sivasubramania Iyer was removed, and B.R Rajam Iyer was retained.
Rajam Iyer's views on philosophy are Vedantic and directed towards inner self. He tries to find rational answer for social issues. He gives importance to a life focusing on realizing God within oneself. Rajam Iyer says that the aim of this novel was to describe the attainment of a state of pure bliss by a restless soul suffering and struggling in this world.
The novel, which was serialized in Viveka Cinthamani magazine from 1893 to 1896, was first published as a book on behalf of Viveka Cinthamani in October, 1896. The editor of the Viveka Cinthamani magazine, V.V. Swaminathayyar had written the Introduction for the first edition. The second edition of the novel came in February 1904 followed by subsequent editions in the years 1910, 1915 and 1930. Having seen six editions by the year 1944, the novel went on to have many more editions.. The Madras University had prescribed the novel as a textbook for their Teachers' Certificate course.
The novel has two parts. The first part has 17 chapters and the second part has 20 chapters.
Muthuswamy Iyer lives in a village called Sirukulam in Madurai district. His wife is Kamalambal. They have a daughter, Kalyani also known as Lakshmi. Kamalambal and Muthuswamy Iyer loved each other deeply. Subramania Iyer is the younger brother of Muthuswamy Iyer. Ponnammal is the wife of Subramania Iyer and they have a son named Sundaram. Subramania Iyer holds deep respect and love for his elder brother. However, he is obedient to his wife. Ponnammal was the head of the village’s gossiping brigade. Muthuswamy Iyer’s family is one among the influential families of the area and they decide to marry off Kalyani to Srinivasan from Madurai. Ponnammal however wants Kalyani to marry her brother’s son and she is angered by this arrangement. She prevents her husband from attending Kalyani’s betrothal function but the marriage goes on as planned. After some days, Kamalambal gives birth to a male child. They name him Natarajan.
Meanwhile, Komala Nayakkanur Zamindar develops hatred towards Subramania Iyer due to a rivalry during Jallikattu. The Zamindar sends a thief called Peyandi Thevar to go to Subramania Iyer’s home to steal all their jewels and the bull that will be participating in the Jallikattu. Muthuswamy Iyer files a case against Peyandi Thevar on behalf of his brother. Succumbing to the charming potion given by his wife, Subramania Iyer stands as a witness in favor of Peyandi Thevar. Still Peyandi Thevar gets convicted. After spending two years in prison, Peyandi Thevar on getting released kidnaps Muthuswamy Iyer’s two year old child and sells the child to Ramaseshayyar. The Family of Muthuswamy Iyer is devastated by their loss.
Srinivasan, Muthuswamy Iyer's son-in-law, travels to Madras for pursuing his studies. Muthuswamy Iyer and Kamalambal relocate to Madras to live with their daughter. One day, on receiving a telegram informing of the illness of his brother, Muthuswamy Iyer travels to Sirukulam with Kamalambal to see his brother. Subramania Iyer asks his brother to forgive him before breathing his last. The business in which Muthuswamy Iyer had invested suffers losses. He begins to grow weary of the worldly life and starts wandering in search of peace of mind. Ponnammal along with the ladies of the gossiping brigade spread rumors on Kamalambal’s chastity and causes Muthuswamy Iyer and Kamalambal to be separated. Utterly disconcerted, Muthuswamy Iyer tries to commit suicide but experiences something spiritual and gives up on the idea. Satchithananda Swamigal becomes his guru and they leave for Khasi.
Ponnammal is driven towards insanity after the death of Subramania Iyer. Vaidyanatha Iyer, a judge and friend of Muthuswamy Iyer, gets to know of the betrayal of Kamalambal by Ponnammal. Kamalambal travels to Khasi along with her daughter and son-in-law, in search of Muthuswamy Iyer. Finally, a repenting Peyandi Thevar and Natarajan also reach Khasi. Everyone reunite amidst the search. Satchithananda Swamigal directs Muthuswamy Iyer to be an ascetic even while leading a family life. Kamalambal starts meditation on Rama.
Kamalambal: Protagonist. A lady who always adjusts patiently with others. Love, humility and deference are her attributes.
Muthuswamy Iyer: Kamalambal’s husband. A person of noble character always ready to help anyone in need. He is interested in Vedantic philosophy.
Kalyani / Lakshmi: Daughter of Muthuswamy Iyer and Kamalambal.
Subramaniya Iyer: Younger brother of Muthuswamy Iyer. He has lot of respect and love for his brother. An obedient husband.
Ponnammal: Wife of Subramania Iyer. A woman filled with greed and arrogance. She is always ill advised by the women of the village's gossipers brigade.
Sundaram: Son of Subramania Iyer and Ponnammal.
Adusapatti Ammayappa Pillai: Tamil teacher. A typical representative of scholars who remain hidden from the world as they speak and write songs that are indiscernible to common folk. He saves Kamalambal from a train accident.
Although Pradhaba Mudhaliar Charithiram written by Mayuram Vedha Nayagam Pillai and published in 1879 is accepted as the first novel in Tamil, most critics agree that Kamalambal Charithiram could be considered as the first novel in Tamil when the evaluation criterion includes the literary form of the novel, characterization, elegance of the story narration and the structure of the novel.
Even at a time when the prose writing in Tamil language had not evolved properly, Kamalambal Charithiram fits well into the definition of the literary form called 'novel'. Poetry, folk tales, mythical stories were in vogue during those times because they believed books only existed for didactic purposes and there was a compulsion for books written to be explicitly teaching morality and justice. The introduction to the books themselves should indicate this objective. Moreover, this was the dawn of the modern age and educationalists tended towards reform. Therefore, the prose in all Indian languages were written mainly as a campaign for reforms. Novels like Padmavathi Charithiram by Madhavayya are examples of this trend. But Rajam Iyer had transgressed all such boundaries.
Writer Jeyamohan says that this is a novel where there is no propaganda of opinions, contains subtle humor, character delineation and a psychological depth. He indicates that Kamalambal Charithiram is a superior novel among the top rated novels in all Indian languages.
"If we ask ourselves which is the leading novel published until today we can without a doubt say that it is Kamalambal Charithiram. Tamil novel follows the flaming path laid down by Kamalambal Charithiram" says poet Na. Pichamurthy.
"Through his single novel Kamalambal Charithiram, B.R Rajam Iyer has the fame of becoming accepted unanimously as the best novel writer of this century. The first edition of this novel has been published during his time itself. We are yet to receive a Tamil novel that can be compared with Kamalambal Charithiram. ". This is the praise for the novel by writer Si.Su Chellappa.
"Let me tell emphatically state right at the onset that among the new Tamil prose creations, Rajam Iyer's Kamalambal Charithiram is the one I love the most" says Tamil researcher Kamil Zvelebil.
Kamalambal Charithiram has been well appreciated by many learned Tamil scholars including Manonmaneeyam P Sundaram Pillai and B.S Ramaiya. It has also been commended by reputed magazines of that time like Dinamani, Swadesamitran, Siddhanta Deepika, The Madras Mail, Indian Social Reformer.
The second half of the novel directly deals with Vedantic discussions which was criticized by few. The novel is considered as a masterpiece for the artistic portrayal of life in the first half. It is especially noteworthy for the treatment of realism.
Kamalambal Charithiram was selected to be translated by an United Nations committee as part of the world cultural series in 1950. The translation was then lost when the cultural series plan was dropped.
Author Stuart H. Blackburn researched the novel for many years and in 1999, had Oxford University Press publish the translation with the title The Fatal Rumor. He had included many foot notes and a glossary as part of this edition. The translation won the A.K Ramanujan award for translation works in 2000.
Birth and growth of Tamil Novel literature: Ki.Va Jagannathan
Kamalambal Charithiram: Ebook