Chennai Storytelling Association
"Living Statues of Marina Beach"
Commencing at the Kannagi Statue,
usually at 7:30am on a Sunday.
The duration of the Walk
is approximately one hour.
Note: This Walking Tour occurred for nine consecutive years
(2009-2017) in August as an event in Madras Week.
Now it occurs on various special occasions.
At each statue, there would be a brief dramatic enactment
of the character portrayed by that statue
(in English and Tamil).
Walk participants are also invited to recite,
or read aloud, poetry by the poets:
Thiruvalluvar, George Pope, Bharathidasan, and Avvaiyar,
(in Tamil, and in English translation).
Below are suggested English Scripts (by Dr Eric Miller)
for the enactments.
Please let us know if you might like to perform
one of these characters, in the format, for example,
"I am Kannagi, and this is my story ...",
in English or Tamil
(5-minute time-limit for each performance) --
6 Statues --
2) NSC BOSE.
4) GEORGE POPE.
Hello! I am Kannagi, and this is my story:
When I found my husband’s body on the street in Madurai, I knelt beside him, and I called out to the people --
“How could you let this happen? My husband was not a thief! He did not steal the queen’s anklet! Why was he put death?”
But nobody answered me. Nobody comforted me. The people turned away from me.
So I called out again --
“What kind of people live here? Are you the kind of people who will only help your own family? Are there no decent people here? Is there no god here?”
Still the people ignored me.
I went to the king’s court, and I proved to the king that my husband had been innocent. I proved to the king, that the king had made a mistake.
I proved it by breaking open the anklets, right there in front of the king. The queen’s remaining anklet was broken -- it contained pearls. My remaining anklet was broken -- it contained rubies. And the anklet my husband had been trying to sell was broken -- yes, it also contained rubies, because it had been mine.
So Agni the god of fire came, and he burned that place. But animals and good people could escape. So come, my brothers and sisters, come.
2) NSC BOSE
Hello! I am Netaji Subash Chandra Bose, and this is my story:
I was born in 1897, and I was raised in Calcutta. My father was a famous lawyer. I was sent to England to study. In England, I passed the Indian Civil Services Exam, but I did not like that Amritsar Massacre. So I quit my Civil Services training in England, and in 1921 I came home to India.
It was then that I met Mahatma Gandhi, and I joined the Indian National Congress. I was arrested and jailed by the British so many times. And for what? Only for saying, my people should be free. Eventually I broke with Gandhi altogether. I could not accept his insistence on nonviolence only. “Gandhi wanted to change human beings. I just wanted to free India.”
In 1941, when Germany went to war with England -- I went to Germany (by way of Afghanistan). Yes, I broadcast anti-British radio programs from Berlin. Yes, I accepted support from both Germany and Japan. I believed that an ‘enemy of my enemy, can be my friend’.
In July 1943, I went to Singapore. There I organised the Indian National Army. In March 1944, we crossed the Burma Border and we stood on Indian soil. However, when Japan and Germany eventually lost World War II, the Indian National Army had to retreat also. And then, in 1945, it was reported that I was killed in an air crash over Taiwan.
Some British and some American people are still complaining about me! Can you believe it? They say that if Japan and Germany had won World War II, Japan and Germany also would have occupied India. Ha! Let them try! We would have expelled them also. We would expel anyone!
Hello! I am Thiruvalluvar, and this is my story:
In poetic form, I wrote advice about how to live a good life among family and friends -- and also about how to make a good society, a good state. Please do not worry about if I was a Jain, a Buddhist, or something else. My message was about ethics: how humans should behave with other humans. I am happy that the Tamil people have remembered my name, the name of my book, and at least some of my advice.
Here are three of my kurals:
Knowledge without wisdom is worthless.
People of inner wisdom are free from delusions, overcome confusion, and attain liberation.
Great people do great things. The absence of greatness is the mark of small people.
4) GEORGE U POPE
Hello! I am Gorge Uglow Pope, and this is my story:
I was born in 1820, on an island off the east coast of Canada. My family migrated to England when I was small. And I journeyed to South India in 1839. I came to spread the word of Jesus Christ.
I was a good student of languages, and in time I became a scholar of Tamil, Sanskrit, and Telugu. I started a number of schools, and in these schools I also taught Latin, English, Hebrew, Mathematics, and Philosophy.
I decided to translate the Tirukkural, and I completed the project in 1886. Then, in 1900, I completed my translation of the Tiruvaasagam ("sacred utterance"). This is a volume of hymns composed by the ninth century Shaivite bhakti poet Manikka-vaasagar. Tiruvaasagam is the eighth volume of the Tiru-murai, the sacred anthology of Tamil Shaivite Siddhanta.
The main message of Tiruvaasagam is that the body is temporary and we should not spend to much time and energy pursuing worldly comforts, for such ambitions are among the root causes of pain and sorrow. Rather, one should pray to leave the body and attain liberation (moksha).
The soul should have control over the body, the body should not have control over the soul.
And the ultimate highness in one's life is to reach Lord Shiva's pote-paadham -- or, in Christian terms, to be in the presence of our risen Lord, Jesus Christ.
I died in 1908.
Hello! I am Bharathidasan, and this is my story:
I was born in 1891 and I died in 1964. My teacher was Subramanya Bharathi, and I named myself after him. I was a poet, novelist, and essayist -- and I was a rationalist, through and through.
Among my missions in life were: to promote my dear mother tongue, dear Thamizh; to change the idiosyncrasies arising from old traditions; and to use new formats to convey revolutionary ideas.
Let us translate all the books in all languages into Thamizh! And let us translate all the Thamizh books into all those other languages. Let us have many free libraries! We have talked enough about the glory of Thamizh. Now, let us just speak it and write it, and show the world its beauty and power.
Hello! I am Avvaiyar, and this is my story:
I lived in the ancient Sangam Age, over two thousand years ago. It happened that I loved to write poetry. Oh, how I loved to write! I wrote poetry about nature, about people, about the universe. Now, in those days, some people said it was a waste of time for a woman to write poetry. And, of course, my relatives wanted me to marry. My mother and father wanted grandchildren. But I knew what I wanted, and I knew what I did not want. I did not want to spend all my time taking care of children and a husband. So I prayed with all my might:
“Please let me be bent, please let me be broken, please let me look in such a way so that no man would want to marry me.”
And my wish came true! I appeared as old and bent! And in that way, I lived a long and happy life!