Keechakavadham (Killing of Keechaka)

Story Play (Attakkatha): 

Irayimman Thambi

(1782 – 1856)


Written by Irayimman Thampi (1783-1856), Keechakavadham is popular play known for its dramatic content as well as its music. The story is based on an incident from the Mahabharata during the year when the Pandavas live incognito in the kingdom of Virat.


At the end of the stipulated 12 years in the forest the Pandavas reach Matsya kingdom to stay for a year incongnito as per the conditions imposed by Duryodhana when they lost the game of dice. Yudhishtira assumes the name Kunka and is engaged by King Virata as a companion to play chess. Bheema is engaged as the cook under the name Valala, Arjuna arrives as a transgender to teach dance to the princesses and is named Brihannala, Nakula and Sahadeva are engaged in the horse and cow stables; and Panchali becomes the maid of Queen Sudeshna under the name Sairandhri. During a local festival Jeemoothan, a wrestler, arrives and challenges anyone in the kingdom for a wrestling match. The King of Virata is despondent that there is none to overpower Jeemoothan but Kankan (Yudhishtira) advises the king to ask Valala to take up the challenge. In the wrestling match that followed Valala kills Jeemoothan.

One day Kichaka, the powerful army general and brother of Queen Sudeshna, chances to see the beautiful Sairandhri and is enamoured about her. She complains to Bheema (Valala) when Keechaka forces his attention on her. They lay a trap and Keechaka gets killed. 








Sairandhri or Malini


Translated by Achuthan TK