Kuntalakesi is the story of a tragic heroine, and is the title of a Sangam era work. Kuntalakesi was the daughter of a rich merchant, and as befitted her wealth, she lived in luxury. One day she saw a man being taken away by royally appointed guards. She knew nothing about the man, although it was obvious that he was being taken away because of some crime he had committed. But Kuntalakesi did not pause to think about what his possible crime was.
In fact, none of this mattered to her. She lost her heart to the man, on first sight. She ran to her father and insisted that she would marry none other than the man who was being taken away by the king’s guards. Her father had always given in to her wishes. So he went to the king, and told him of Kuntalakesi’s desire. It turned out that the man she had fallen in love with was a thief, and that in view of the magnitude of his crime, the king had sentenced him to death. The man’s name was Kalan.
Yielding to the merchant’s pressure, the king ordered Kalan to be released. Kalan then married Kuntalakesi. But how wrong Kuntalakesi was in her choice was to be proved soon. She had made the mistake of falling in love with Kalan’s handsome looks. She knew nothing about Kalan’s qualities. The result was that Kalan ended up plotting to kill her. Youngsters tend to be swayed by outward appearance and attracted by good looks. But good looks fade in time. It is the character of a person that should matter, when one makes a choice, said Malayaman in a lecture.
Kuntalakesi made the wrong choice and had to suffer for it. Avvaiyar says that one should not even set sight on a wicked person. Moreover, one should not make the mistake of insisting on marrying a person who bears no love for one. Of what use is one sided love? Kalan was not in love with Kuntalakesi. So her love for him was one sided love. Kalan must have agreed to the marriage to get away from the harsh sentence the king had given him. Thiruvalluvar warns that one should think before embarking on an action. Hindsight is of no use. But Kuntalakesi hastily cast her lot with Kalan. Wrong choices lead only to disaster.