A Tamil Modernist’s Account of India’s Past: Ram Raj, Chettiyar Raj, and British Raj
The Ramayana, one of Hinduism's two preeminent epics, has been retold in diverse ways over the centuries, but one modern rendition is unique: Nārata-Rāmāyaṇam(?). Its author, C. Virudhachalam (1906–48), wrote in Tamil under the pen name Pudumaippittan, meaning “one who is mad about newness.” Nārata-Rāmāyaṇam(?) presents colonialism as a continuation of the Ramayana narrative, showing how an ancient South Asian narrative can serve as an imaginative framework for modern Indian writers. The text mounts an astute critique of the notion of perfect rule, Ram Raj, and suggests that such a utopian ideal fosters the veneration of a glorified past that never existed. The text's modernist literary ploys encourage scrutiny of culturally constructed concepts such as nationalism, consumerism, and narrative coherence. This unusual Ramayana reveals how narrative resources can be used to question both ancient and modern ideologies.