Friday, October 24, 2014

Heroes Versus Villains - PART 2

In one episode Jokul kills the son of a known sorceress, even though he is mounted on a horse and is potentially a very dangerous adversary. The size of this adversary is further emphasized by his being placed in the foreground. 

Shankar has a different kind of challenge, a wild boar named King Komban. This wild animal also has magical powers of a negative kind. The illustration shows Komban with a star sign on his tongue, a ring in his navel and a small garland of flowers on his tail. These attributes suggest a possible mirroring of the sinister powers believed central to the cult of Nath yogis, a sectarian group identity popular right across India in the Middle Ages. Komban is Shankar’s key magical adversary, a huge black beast who believes he is destined to kill both Shankar and his brother Ponnar using his sharp tusks!

A good deal of the Ponnivala story, especially in its concluding four episodes, describes the confrontation between a set of twin heroes, Kunnutaiya’s two sons, and Komban who has attacked their fields and made a huge mess of their crops and irrigation system. Shankar finally has the honor of killing Komban outright, using his great boar spear. 

The story does not end here, however, as Komban’s last act is to cry out to his guardian mistress, a forest princess named Viratangal. Her brothers take revenge on the two kings for the killing of Komban. His demise is used to set the scene for one great final battle, a violent confrontation between hunters and farmers. There is a good reason for the hunter’s anger: these ploughmen have cut down their beloved trees and converted their wild, lovely forest into open farmland.

~ Brenda E. F. Beck

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