Saturday, 15 November 2014

Chapter 12: Master and the Disciple

Anbil Anirudhar
We would like to acquaint our readers with some important historical information. In the district of Thiruchirapalli and Lalgudi Taluk, there is a village called Anbil. About forty years ago (this novel was written in 1951) a villager was rebuilding his old house and had dug the foundation pits when he made an amazing discovery. He discovered a whole bunch of copper plates inscribed with writing. Bulky and heavy, he kept this discovery of his at home for some time. Later, he handed the copper plates to Shri Lakshman Chettiyar who took them to Maha Mahopadhyay Swaminatha Iyer as he felt that the copper plates held some important historical information. Realizing the importance of these plates, he handed over the plates to Shri T.A. Gopinath Rao who knew how to decipher ancient scripts. Gopinath Rao was in turn delighted to have the copper plates in hand as they were a veritable treasure of important information related to the Cholas.

The copper plates chronicled the names of Chola Kings and that of King Sundara Chola who had granted Pathu Veli land to his Prime Minister Anirudha Brahmarayar, four years after his ascension to throne. The royal scribe who had inscribed his name as Madhava Bhattar listed the names of all the kings who had preceded King Sundara Chola. The plates also had information about the illustrious Vaishnava family of Anirudha Brahmarayar right from his great grand father to his parents. It also praised the service that this family had rendered to the temple of Sriranganathar. These copper plates were of great historical importance as it confirmed many important details of the Chola lineage and also contained many interesting information that was hitherto unknown so far. Since then these Copper plates have been referred to as ‘Anbil Sepidiggal’ (Anbil Plates). It is essential for the readers to know that Anirudha Brahmarayar was important enough for the Chola Kingdom to record the grants made to him for posterity through Copper plates. 

 The soldiers brought Alwarkadiyan Nambi inside the mandapam where Anirudha Brahmarayar was giving audience. Azwarkadiyan immediately approached the Prime Minister and went around him three times before bowing low to him.

Ohm! Hreem Shreem Hasht! Master! With your permission I will take leave.”
Smiling at his disciple, Anirudhar asked, “Thirumalai! What is this? Where do you wish to leave?”

“I would like to surrender the name Azwarkadiyan to the holy waters of this Rameshwaram and become a Kala Moogar Saivan. I would like to don a necklace of skulls and hold a large skull in hand and travel from one place to another uttering the holy mantra of ‘Ohm! Hreem Shreem Hasht’ on my lips I wouldn’t hesitate to break the head of any vaishnavan who comes in my way…”

“That’s all very fine. Will my head suffer the same fate?”

“Master! Do you perchance still follow the holy Vaishnava tradition?”

“Thirumalai! Why do you have such doubts? Who do you think I am?”

“I do have doubts about you master. Are you not the great grandson of Anbil Anandaazhwar Swamigal who had dedicated his life to the service of Shri Ranganathar?”

“Yes indeed! I am.”

“Are you the grandson of Anbil Anirudha Bhatarcharya who taught one and many about the holy scriptures of Vaishnava tradition.”

“I am. I am his namesake too.”

“Are you the son of Narayana Bhatacharya who sang the beautiful songs of our Azhwars?”

“Yes. I am.”

“If that is, then something is wrong with my eyes. I cannot believe my eyes and nor can I believe what I just heard.”

“What makes you doubt your eyes and ears?”

“I heard that you had organized for temple festivities in the Shiva temple here?”
“You heard right. I did organize it.”

“Aren’t you the same master who taught me that there is no God greater than our Lord Vishnu? Didn’t you teach me that there is no hymn holier than our Narayana Mantram?”

“Yes indeed, I taught you that.”

“Master! When you as a guru can do things that are contrary to your own teachings then you should not have objections to me becoming a Kala Moogar Saivan.”

“Thirumalai! Are you referring to my visit to the Shiva Temple?”

“Master! Which deity did you pray to at the Shiva Temple?

“To our Lord Narayana of course.”

“I have heard that Lord Rama worshipped Shiva as a Lingam in the temple here. That’s why the Veera Saiva Battars here provoke me to fight with them.”

“Thirumalai! Don’t you remember this hymn by Namazhwar?” Saying thus, Anirudhar recited a hymn from memory.

“Thirumalai! Even our Sadagopar saw the form of Lord Vishnu in all inanimate objects and you are still objecting to a visit that I paid to Shiva Temple.”

“Master! You are right. I will henceforth learn all the hymns of Nammazhwar and dedicate my life to gathering such pearls of wisdom. I beseech you to grant me a boon!”

“First tell me about this boon and then I will think about granting it.”

“Some time ago, I had visit the Veeranarayana Perumal Kovil where I had sung some songs by Nammazhwar. I met Ishwara Battar who has dedicated his life to the service of the temple. Along with him was his young son who asked me whether I knew any more songs. To my shame, I had to acknowledge that I didn’t. I wish to dedicate my life and time to the holy service of Shri Narayana henceforth. That’s the boon I beseech from you master!”

“Thirumalai! There will be many other souls who will dedicate their life to the noble work of Azhwars and Lord Vishnu. While you and I have dedicated our life to the service of the Chola Kingdom. Don’t you remember the holy oath that we swore when we started working?”

“I do remember Master. But I have been having doubts about this work for sometime, especially when I hear people talking all sorts of things about you.”

“Is that so? What are they saying about me?”

“Many are saying that ever since the King bestowed lands on your person, you have forgotten all about the holy Vaishnava tradition and had travelled across the sea in a ship without any heed to …”

“I am not worried about what people say about me. We cannot stay in one place like frogs in the well. And about the king bestowing lands to me, do remember one thing, I was the King’s Prime Minister for four long years before he made this generous grant for me.”

“Do you know how long the King and I have been friends? We studied together under the same guru and learned mathematics, astronomy, political strategy, literature and history. At that time, no one thought that Sundara Chozhar would ascend the throne. Who knew that his uncles Rajadhithar and Gandarathithar would die so suddenly? Who knew that his own father Aringzha Cholar would die of wounds suffered in the battle? Sundara Chozhar knew that there were bound to be many difficulties and hurdles if he ascended the throne. He said that he would accept the throne only if I became his Maha Mandiri. That’s when I swore to help him in governing the Kingdom and have been fulfilling that vow since then. Don’t you know all this Thirumalai?”

“I know about this Master but sadly the people of the kingdom do not know about this and they talk all sorts of things about you.”

“I am not bothered about what people talk. Even I have had many doubts about this profession of mine ever since I left the traditional service of Ranganathar to serve my king. But for the past two days, I have had no doubts about my decision. You must be aware of the fact that I came here to travel to Maandotham in Elangai.”

“Yes. I knew that.”

“Do you know, Maandotham still resembles the city that Sambandhar and Sundaramurthy sang of few years ago?”

“Master! I trust you did not travel all the way to Maandotham just to enjoy the beauty of the place?”

“No. I went there to meet Prince Arulmozhivarmar and I am thinking of sending you there.”

“Did you meet the Prince, Master?” asked Azhwarkadiyan with a trace of eagerness and impatience in his voice.

Noting this Anirudhar said, “Aha! Even you are eager to meet him I guess. Yes. Thirumalai! I met and spoke to him and learned many astounding tales about his feats in Elangai. The Elangai King Mahindan once had a huge army at his disposal. Today, that army has vanished in thin air. There were many Pandiya and Chera soldiers in Mahindan’s army. When they learned that our Prince was coming there, they too dropped their weapons and vanished without a trace. Without an army how will Mahindan fight anybody, so he too vanished into the rocky mountains of Rohana. So right now there are no enemies in Elangai for the Prince to fight.”

“Master! If that is the case, don’t you think it is better for our Prince to come back to the Chola Kingdom? As it is so much ruckus has been created over the issue of sending food from here to the soldiers there.”

“That’s not a wise move to make. I said the enemies have vanished for the time being they are not vanquished completely. If the Prince came back home, Mahindan would come out his hideout and the war would begin once again. We need to establish our sovereignty completely on Elangai and must gain the trust and love of the people there. That’s what our Prince is doing there. Do you know what our soldiers in Elangai are doing? They are helping in the rebuilding of Budha Viharas that were destroyed in Anuradhapuram.”

“That’s all very fine. Looks like our Prince will renounce Saivam and Vaishnavam and become a Buddhist ultimately. How can we let this happen?”

“Who is asking you and me here? People like us can live and die all our lives as staunch Vaishnavites but such things cannot apply to those who are born to rule. Such people need to acknowledge and embrace all religions and sects that are practiced in their kingdom. I am impressed by the fact that our Prince has realized this important fact all by himself. I have heard people say that there is a holy sangu chakra mark on the Prince’s hands. I haven’t seen it yet and nor did I ask him to show it to me. But irrespective of whether such a mark exists in his hands or not, I know one thing for sure. Our Prince was born to rule as a great Chakravarthi. Some people are born with a divine purpose to rule as a great king. Did you see the commanders of Kai Kola Padai who came to meet me a few minutes ago? They want to fight under the banner of our Prince. And the merchants of the guild who are known for their thriftiness become more than generous when it comes to our Prince…”

“A few days ago, I had met a yogi near Podhigai malai. Do you know what he said? He said that for a long period, the fortunes of Kingdoms in the South has been shrouded by a cloud but soon we will rise to form a formidable force. Soon a king will rouse to become great Chakravarthi and many other great men of worth and knowledge would appear here soon. After meeting the Prince, I have no doubt that the words of this seer would come true soon.”

“Master! You are building many beautiful castles in the air while many are trying to destroy the very foundations of this Kingdom. If you had seen the things that I have seen and heard the things that I have heard, you wouldn’t be sitting here so happily discussing about a seer’s prophesy.”

“Thirumalai! You are right. I got carried away. Come now, tell me all about your travel…”

“Master! Do you want me to tell you here? If the Wind God hears my news, he will get scared. If the sea heard about my travel, he will be stunned immobile. The news that I have brought would stun all the Gods and the Earth as well.”

“If that is so, then come let me take some place where none can hear your news.”

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Volume 1 - New Flood