In some chola bronzes of Nataraja, one can see a small emaciated ghoulish figure, striking a pair of cymbals in horrid glee, while the deep sockets of her eyes burn with a feverish excitement. This Karaikal Ammaiyar (‘the mother of Karaikal’), with her short matted hair flaming behind the skull that is her face, forming a counter to the supple lissom beauty of the Dancing Lord, is among the 63 Nayanars: the saint-bards who form the Tamil Shaivite Bhakti Tradition.
The theme of a Hurting Love is also universal, linked with wanting to burning short but bright, an illogical belief in some ideal, and the willing to sacrifice so much for it. People spend all their lives looking for such love, such a cause. And how lucky are those select few like Ammaiyar who find that cause and go insane in its ecstasy. If one ignores the religious angle (as one must, to respect the agnostics and the atheists), then is there really all that much difference between the idealism and rebellions of the Flower Children and Rock and Roll, Wilde’s decadent aesthetes, the Romantics, Martin Luther’s Reformers, and the Bhakti Bards singing of their God?
on seeing Almost Famous and reading the Periya Puranam, in the space of one weekend.