தேரா மன்னா செப்புவது உடையேன்
எள்ளறு சிறப்பின் இமையவர் வியப்பப்
புள்ளுறு புன்கண் தீர்த்தோன் அன்றியும் 
வாயிற் கடைமணி நடுநா நடுங்க
ஆவின் கடைமணி உகுநீர் நெஞ்சுசுடத் தான்தன்
அரும்பெறல் புதல்வனை ஆழியின் மடித்தோன்
பெரும்பெயர்ப் புகார்என் பதியே அவ்வூர்
ஏசாச் சிறப்பின் இசைவிளங்கு பெருங்குடி
மாசாத்து வாணிகன் மகனை ஆகி
வாழ்தல் வேண்டி ஊழ்வினை துரப்பச் 
சூழ்கழல் மன்னா நின்னகர்ப் புகுந்தீங்கு
என்கால் சிலம்பு பகர்தல் வேண்டி நின்பால்
கொலைக்களப் பட்ட கோவலன் மனைவி 

thaera manna seppuvadhu udaiyaen
ellaru sirappin imaiyavar viyappap
pulluru punkan theerththon anriyum
vaayir kadaimani naduna nadunga
aavin kadaimani uguneer nenjusudath thaanthan
arumperal pudhalvanai aazhiyin madiththoan
perumpeyarp pukaren padhiye avvoor
aesaach sirappin isaivilangu perungudi
maasaathu vanigan maganai aagi
vaazhdhal vaendi oozhvinai thurappach
soozhgazhal manna ninnagar puguntheengu
enkaal silambu pagardhal vaendi ninpaal
kolaikkalap patta kovalan manaivi

Oh foolish king – you did not care to find out the truth. I have a few things to say.
To ease the pain of the cow who lost her calf in the chariot driven by his son, the Chozha king – Raja Raja Chozhan, killed his son to ensure justice for the cow, in the wonderful town of Poompuhar. 

Maasaathaan is a famous trader that belongs to a well known family of this town.
Having been born as his son, having desired to make a living in trading, and driven by fate, Kovalan came to this city of yours to sell one of my anklets for his capital.

I am his wife Kannaki.

The Silappadhigaram is set in a flourishing seaport city of the early Chola kingdom. Kannaki and Kovalan are a newly married couple, in love, and living in bliss. Over time, Kovalan meets Matavi – a courtesan. He falls for her, leaves Kannaki and moves in with Matavi. He spends lavishly on her. Kannaki is heartbroken, but as the chaste woman, she waits despite her husband’s unfaithfulness. 

During the festival for Indra, the rain god, there is a singing competition.Kovalan sings a poem about a woman who hurt her lover. Matavi then sings a song about a man who betrayed his lover. Each interprets the song as a message to the other.

Kovalan feels Matavi is unfaithful to him, and leaves her. Kannaki is still waiting for him. She takes him back.

Kannaki and Kovalan leave the city and travel to Madurai in the Pandya kingdom. Kovalan is penniless and destitute. He confesses his mistakes to Kannaki. She forgives him and tells him the pain his unfaithfulness gave her. Then she encourages her husband to rebuild their life together and gives him one of her jeweled anklets to sell to use the money to start a new business. 

Kovalan sells it to a merchant, but the merchant falsely frames him as having stolen the anklet from the queen. The king arrests Kovalan and then executes him, without the due checks and processes of justice.

When Kovalan does not return home, Kannaki goes searching for him, and learns what happened. Enraged, she goes to the palace and enters the king’s court. 

 The scene that follows is one of the best described scenes in Tamil literature. Kannaki introduces herself, citing her origins and the importance of justice in society, all in a few lines that shake everybody to the core.

The king, seeing Kannaki standing alone in his court, her body covered with dust, her hair disheveled, tears in her eyes and a single anklet in her hand – and realises the gross injustice that he had done. He drops dead that very instant, a victim of his own sense of justice. 

Kannaki then curses the people of Madurai, tearing off her left breast and throwing it at the gathered public. The society that had made her suffer, suffers in retribution as the city of Madurai is burnt to the ground because of her curse. So is the power of a wronged woman, and such is the importance of justice in society. 

Silappadhigaram is one of the major epics of Tamil Literature written by the great Ilango Adigal.  It is a story of love and rejection, happiness and pain, good and evil like all classic epics of the world. Yet unlike other epics that deal with kings and armies caught up with universal questions and existential wars, the Silappathikaram is an epic about an ordinary couple caught up with universal questions and internal, emotional war.