Thursday, 30 April 2015

Chapter 34: Anuradhapuram

They reached Anuradhapuram even as the sun was setting and the sight of the fortified city took his breath away. Many people had described this city to him and he had imagined it in his mind’s eye as well, but nothing could compare to the vision that was unfolding in front of him. The high walls of the fort were higher than any city walls that he had seen so far. Inside the walls, there were countless palaces, mansions, stupas and monasteries built to dwarf a man with their gargantuan size.

Vandiya Devan was astonished to see them all encompassed within a single city walls! Anuradhapuram is indeed a wondrous city! It can’t be compared with any other city that he had seen so far; Kanchipuram, Thanjavur or Pazhaiarai. The great cities of Pataputra during King Ashoka and the ancient city of Ujjain during the reign of King Vikramadithya and drowned city of Kaveri Pattinam during the Karikala Vallavan’s golden reign might be the only cities that could stand tall beside this.
As they neared the huge city walls, the throng of people entering it grew large. The native people Elangai, people of Tamil origin, monks, groups of women and children were seen moving towards city in great enthusiasm. The entire atmosphere was electrifying and many in the crowd looked at the Prince and his companions and started pointing out. Noting this, the Prince signalled his friends to follow him and and moved towards the woods that bordered the city walls. They waited silently in the thick woods while the crowd of people passed them by.

“The horses have come a long way. Let them rest awhile. We can enter the city later, when it is dark,”

They dismounted from their horses and sat down on the large rocks that were littered in the woods.

“What is happening in this city today? Why are so many people coming here?”

“The city of Anuradhapuram is hosting one of the biggest festivals celebrated in Elangai,”

“And I thought that there was a war happening in Elangai, instead I find only festivals being celebrated,” said Vandiya Devan cheekily.

“Didn’t you tell me about the Shri Jayanthi festival being celebrated in Pazhaiarai?”

“Yes I did but Pazhaiarai is in Chola Kingdom, while Anuradhapuram is in Elangai,”

“That’s right. Sundara Cholar reigns over the Chola Kingdom while his chosen lord rules over Elangai,”

“But there is a war happening in Elangai and there are enemies still around,”

“Our enemies are very far away. What would these people do about it? The war will happen only amidst our soldiers and Mahindan’s army. The people of this kingdom cannot be blamed for the foolish actions of their cowardly king. Therefore they will celebrate their festivals unhindered, while we will battle their forces far away from here. Thirumalai! What do you say?”

“Prince! You have enemies here who are hiding in the mountains while in your homeland there are those who conspire behind your back. I think that the Prince ought to stay here and destroy his enemies, while conducting festivals for these people,”

“That is ridiculous. If these conspirators are more dangerous than the enemies here, then the Prince ought be in Chola land to expose and punish them. Great warriors ought to be in places where great danger lurks,”

“Now that is beyond ridiculous. Courage and foolhardiness are very different things. If you truly believe that great warriors ought to be in places where danger lurks, then why did you escape and come here?”

“Enough. Please do not start a war here,” said the Prince.

They entered the city silently after the darkness had enveloped like a thick blanket. There was no restriction for entry at the fort and the soldiers stood aside watching them silently.

The throngs of crowd stood in the streets of Anuradhapuram and the festive air was electrifying. Many in the crowd shouted ‘Sadhu! Sadhu!’ while the others responded in kind. Vandiya Devan also noted that many monasteries and mansions lay in a dilapidated condition while some have been rebuilt. This led him to wonder about the Prince’s strange behaviour towards the people had conquered. Why is he so benevolent to the people here?

For more thousand years, the Kings of Elangai have been interfering in the affairs of their Kingdom by helping their sworn enemies the Pandyas. No one would fault the Prince for destroying this capital city by razing it to the ground. But he did not do that. Instead he is courting the good will of the people, he had conquered and is rebuilding their city and if that’s not enough he is permitting them to celebrate their traditional festivals.

He felt that the Prince must have an ulterior motive to be so benevolent to the people of Elangai and then out of nowhere a germ of thought grew. What if the Prince wanted to rule this Kingdom on his own? He has no right to the ancient throne of Cholas with his elder brother being the heir apparent and his uncle Madhuranthakan wanting to ascend it. That’s why he wants to establish an independent kingdom on his own in Elangai. And what’s going to stop this Prince from becoming a King? That’s why that Kudanthai Jodhidhar compared the Prince to Dhruv Nakshatram (Pole Star) and didn’t he say that those who believe in him would never be disappointed? After reaching this conclusion, Vandiya Devan was very happy that he was with the Prince after so many adventures and mishaps.

Soon they were standing outside a dilapidated palace. Dismounting from their horses they looked around and found that the palace was in a secluded region of the city.  The Prince went near the palace gates and clapped his hand thrice and almost like magic, a door opened for them. The Prince went towards the door and soon was climbing the stairs to the upper portions of the palace despite the darkness. When Vandiya Devan turned around to see the fate of their horses, the Prince said, “The horses know the way,” and took his hand to drag him up the stairs. After climbing the stairs in the dark, they entered the inner most rooms of the palace where oil lamps were glittering in the dark.

“We need to be careful here. This is the Palace of King Mahasenar and these rooms probably belonged to his queens. Who knows he might even come here in his spirit form?”

Ruins of Mahasenar's Palace today

“Who is Mahasenar?” asked Vandiya Devan.

“King Mahasenar ruled over Elangai almost 600 years ago. He was a very good and benevolent king and the people were very happy under his rule. They believe that he watches his Kingdom, even today as a ghost. They leave clothes for him on the trees here so that he doesn’t get cold in the night. After he died, no one lives in his palace out of respect to him,”
Mahasenar's Palace
But there were servants to look after their needs that night in the palace. They had a refreshing bath and partook their night meal before joining the Prince in the uppermost balcony that overlooked the city.

“Ayya! Didn’t that Buddha’s statue ask you come somewhere at midnight?”

“We have time. The moon has just risen. We can leave when the moon touches the pinnacle of that Dagaba (Stupa),” said the Prince and pointed the Stupa that stood near the palace. They were originally called as ‘Dadugarbam’ but with the passage of time, they were now called ‘Dagaba’.

“Why did they build everything so big?” asked Vandiya Devan.

“Earlier the Kings wanted to tell the people that Lord Buddha was very big. The kings who came later wanted to prove to the people that they were greater than Buddha himself. Hence they tried to outdo themselves by building bigger palaces,”

Suddenly they heard sounds of a huge procession marching through the road outside the Palace. Hundreds of decorated elephants stood out clearly among the lakhs of people holding fire lights.

Surprised to see such a huge procession, Vandiya Devan asked the Prince, “What is this? It looks like an army ready to invade!”

“No. This is one of the most important festivals celebrated in Elangai – the Perahera Festival.”

As the procession neared their Palace, Vandiya Devan’s astonishment increased. Never in his life had he seen such a grand spectacle of pomp and piety.

The elephants came first, richly decorated in gold and silk, steadily walking in a formation, trumpeting proudly. Among the thirty elephants that walked on, there was one in the center that was regal in appearance and more richly decorated than the others. On its back, it carried an ornate box studded with precious gems. It also carried a royal umbrella signifying its importance. People carrying decorative lamps and firelights walked along with the elephants while numerous Buddha Bikshus (monks) came bearing white feathered fans.
Perahara Festival Celebrated Today
Click here to learn more about it.

Behind the elephants came a huge crowd of people wearing different costumes and dancing rhythmically to the clanging of bells and drums. Many of them played the hand drums while the others moved forward dancing their way through the procession. Vandiya Devan was fascinated by their dance as he compared it with yet another dance that he had seen many days ago at Kadambur but found that Devaralan’s performance couldn’t match the enthusiasm and the vigour of these dancers.
Dancers of Perahara Festival

A few hundred dancers spiritedly spiralled themselves forward and threw themselves up in the air with such ease that one might suspect them to be boneless. The pomp and pageantry of the festival was such that two pairs of eyes were not enough to drink it in! The shouts and encouragement of the crowd and the chiming music of the pipes made the festival more enjoyable for Vandiya Devan to watch.

After the procession moved another battalion of thirty elephants richly decorated, came escorting yet another royal elephant bearing an ornate gem studded box on its back and royal umbrella guarding it. Yet another procession of dancers dressed as Hindu Gods, Lord Indra, Rati, Manmadhan, Shiva, Parvathi and many more Gods followed.

“How is this possible? How did Lord Shiva come here?” asked Vandiya Devan.

“There was once a King called Gajabahu and he brought Lord Shiva to this island Kingdom and since then he has been here,”

“Veera Vaishnaverey! Did you see that? Have you finally realized who the bigger God is?” And before he could finish the question, few more elephants came by followed by dancers dressed as Garuda bearing Lord Vishnu. As they passed by dancing and cheering, the Vaishnavan turned triumphantly towards Vandiya Devan and said, “You see my boy, even Maha Vishnu has come here,”

Next came dancers dressed like soldiers bearing arms and spears dancing a vigorous war dance unlike any they have seen. With jingling bells in their legs and hands their dance was alternatively robust and graceful. Vandiya Devan who was fascinated by the festival asked the Prince about its history.

The island kingdom of Elangai and Southern Kings were not always at war. There was a time when they were friends and bound by marriage. King Gajabahu and the Chera King of those times Cheran Sengottavan were bound by friendship and when the Elangai King visited him once he witnessed the pomp and pageantry of Kannagi festival celebrated to venerate women for their chastity. Fascinated by these festivals, Gajabahu stayed on to witness the other festivals that were celebrated for other Gods – Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu, Karthikeya, Durga Parameshwari etc. Later when the Chera King came on a visit to Elangai Gajabahu venerated these Gods at a single festival that rivaled Sengottavan’s pageantry. When the people of Elangai rejoiced and participated in these festival with great enthusiasm he decreed that this festival would be held every year. Lord Buddha holds a special place in the festival and would be venerated first among the Gods though.

“But I didn’t see the Gods anywhere in this procession,”

“Didn’t you see the decorated elephants carrying an ornate box studded with gems?”
Elephants carrying ornate boxes bearing the relics of the God

“Yes. I saw. Have they locked the Gods inside that? Are they afraid that they will fly across the sea, back to their homes?”

Ponniyin Selvar laughed at his comment and said, “No. That’s not so. The first elephant that came with the box had a tooth of Lord Buddha. It is one of the most sacred and priceless relics protected by the monasteries of this Kingdom.”

Temple of the Tooth Relic in Kandy, Sri Lanka

“What did the other boxes have?” asked Vandiya Devan.

“Since they couldn’t find the tooth of Lord Shiva, Vishnu, Murugan and Kannagi, they have kept the divine jewels that these Gods wore in the boxes and have mounted them on the elephants,”

Vandiya Devan thought for a while and then said, “Aha! If Periya Pazhuvetarayar had come leading the army…”

Just then the last of the procession passed by the streets clanging the bells and beating the drums noisily and the Prince said, “It will be midnight soon. Let us leave now,”

They came downstairs onto the streets started walking in the opposite direction of the procession that had left. The streets were deserted as they walked through them and soon there were near a lake. Silent ripples of water made small waves even as the moon shone brightly upon it. They neared the lake stood for a while watching the water.

Near the lake lay many pillars and ruins of a fountain shaped like a lion’s mouth.

Vandiya Devan tried to remember the Buddha statue that they had seen on their way to Anuradhapuram. There was a row of lotus buds arranged below the statue. The Prince had counted the number of buds as twelve. That seemed to indicate the hour of the meeting and since they were buds, it probably meant night. He also remembered a small vessel with the face of a lion engraved in it. That probably referred to this Lion’s lake.

All this is fine and good what are we here for? Who could have asked the Prince to come here? Who knew what dangers could lurk for him here? He had forbidden them from bringing their arms. Could this perchance be romantic tryst?

Vandiya Devan’s thoughts took wings across the sea to Pazhaiarai and his mind’s eye could see Princess Kundavai and Princess Vanathi. He thought that he should speak to the Prince and learn more about whom they will be meeting today.

“Ayya! This place looks like an old palace garden,”

“You are right. Thousands of years ago, there was a beautiful garden here overlooking the Palace of King Dushtagamanu. Look there! You will see some portions of the Palace standing amidst the ruins,”
Statue of King Dutthagamani (Dushtagamnu) 
Vandiya Devan looked at the place where the Prince had pointed out and said, “They might be private chambers of the queen who knows, those royal women might even have bathed in these waters every day,”

“A very strange thing happened in this garden during the time of King Dushtagamanu. The King had a son name Saali and he was wandering in these pleasure gardens one day, when he chanced upon a beautiful maiden. She was watering the plants in the garden and the Prince fell madly in love with her. But she was a Chandala (a girl belonging to the lowest caste) and her name was Asokamala. The Prince refused to listen to reason and resolutely declared that he would marry her, despite his father’s threats to disinherit him. But the Prince was very stubborn and he refused the crown and the throne, just so that he could marry that girl.  Would any other Prince in this world have the courage to sacrifice a throne, just to satisfy his heart’s desire?”

When the Prince spoke thus, Vandiya Devan was reminded of yet another girl who had lost her heart to him. Was the Prince thinking of Samudra Kumari when he recounted the tale of love?

Even while he was thinking about how to ask about that, something strange happened there. There was a stone seat near the wall behind the fountain curved big enough to seat two people. Suddenly a light appeared in the farthest corner of the seat and soon a Buddha Bikshu (monk) appeared bearing a lamp in his hands.

Gaping at this sight with great astonishment, Vandiya Devan wondered what would happen next.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Chapter 33: The Statue’s Message

Vandiya Devan and Azhwarkadiyan 
Next morning, Prince Arul Mozhi Varmar, Vandiya Devan and Azhwarkadiyan left for Anuradhapuram before dawn. They sped through the woods and reached the King’s road soon. Vandiya Devan was surprised by the fact that the Prince did not take his guards or an entourage along with him.  Vandiya Devan felt exhilaration, pride and enthusiasm in equal measures all through the ride that morning. He was exhilarated and proud because he had completed the mission that the Princess had tasked him with. And that’s not all. He had long wanted to meet the Prince to whom the entire Chola Kingdom was devoted. He had accomplished that as well. He also reminisced about their meeting and still found himself surprised by how well the Prince disguised himself and had attacked him when he least expected it. Who thought that the Prince would be the mahout and who knew that he would turn the horse suddenly and attack him?

The Prince was a strange man indeed! This is how he won the war in Elangai; by taking the enemy unawares and by attacking them unexpectedly. Vandiya Devan was also very much taken by the Prince’s behaviour towards his soldiers. He was completely at ease with them and assumed no airs about being a Prince. It was no wonder that the soldiers all over the Chola Kingdom were ready to give up their life for him.

What surprised him more was the benevolence that the Prince showed the people of Elangai? In which conquered land can the people go about their work freely without any fear or persecution? Looking around he noted how the people of Elangai lived happy and secure in their villages while a war raged in their land. Women and children who were the worst casualties of a war were seen laughing and smiling! Vandiya Devan knew that the Prince who rode next to him was the man responsible for their happiness. The Prince had stubbornly refused to take food and supplies from the conquered people and had convinced his father to send the same from their land. He remembered how this had irked the Pazhvur brothers who had complained to the King about the Prince’s unorthodox warfare in Elangai.

He also remembered the battles that he had fought along with Aditya Karikalan. He couldn’t help compare the Crown Prince’s savage war tactics with his brother’s benevolent warfare. Vandiya Devan never dared to criticize or think less of his master until then, but he couldn’t help it when he noted the happy faces of Elangai people. If his master, Prince Aditya Karikalar had come campaigning here, would these people be so happy and in peace? He remembered the wails and cries of the people on whom the Crown Prince had warred. One could only see savagery, destruction and death wails of women who had lost their home, husband, children, virtue and honour.

Vandiya Devan wanted to learn more about the Prince and share information, opinions and news but they were on galloping horses that were steadily speeding on the King’s road. But they did get one opportunity to talk.

They were nearing Anuradhapuram when they saw a huge statue of Buddha alongside the road. Vandiya Devan had seen many such statues in Elangai and didn’t find it strange. But the Prince for some reason reined his horse and stopped it abruptly near the statue. The other two did the same and came near the Prince. The Prince watched the statue intently for some time and then exclaimed, “Aha! What a beauty?”

“I don’t see any beauty here. Elangai is littered with such big statues everywhere though I wonder why?”

The Prince turned towards Vandiya Devan and smiled saying, “I am happy that you choose to speak whatever your heart feels, truthfully,”

“Ayya! Let me assure you that he is speaking the truth only now,”

“Vaishnavarey! When I met you in Veeranarayanapuram, I found myself lying more and more with every passing day. But ever since I met the Prince, I feel like speaking the truth. It is true that the company that we keep decides our character for better or worse,”

The Prince however was not listening to their war of words. He was intently admiring the art of the Buddha statue when he said, “I have found that the art of carving stones does complete justice to two forms – one is divine form of Natarajar and the other is Buddha. But sadly we do not make such massive statues for our Gods in our Kingdom,”

“There were many great kings who ruled over Elangai in the past. Though their island was very small, they were large hearted and their devotion was true and pure. They showed their devotion to Lord Buddha by building huge statues, gigantic stupas and monasteries. I am ashamed of the temples and the small statues that we have built to pray to our Gods in our land,”

Saying thus, the Prince dismounted from his horse and went near the statue and bowed low touching the Lotus buds that adorned the feet of the Buddha statue. 

A secret message from Buddha
After mounting the horse they rode on a slow trot and the Prince heard Vandiya Devan comment, “What is this? Looks like the Prince will join the faith of Buddha,”

“My friend! I have immense respect and faith for Lord Buddha but my piety has its own reasons. The lotus feet of Lord Buddha had a message for me,”

“Aha! But we didn’t hear any message,”

“The message was given to me in silence,”

“What message was it? Are we allowed to know?”

“I have been asked to come to near the Simhatharai Pond at midnight by Lord Buddha.” Said Prince Arul Mozhi Varmar.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Chapter 32: Killi Vazhavan’s Elephant

The food was ready by the time the play ended. Steaming hot Pongal and vegetable curry were served to the soldiers on stacks of lotus leaves. As the famished soldiers ate through their meal, the Prince moved around them, chatting and enquiring about their health and well-being. The soldiers who were singled out by the Prince for conversation were elated beyond words while their companions looked at them jealously. Such was his charm!
Prince Arul Mozhi Varmar with his soldiers

The prince was very popular with the people from a very young age and their regard for him has multiplied ever since he assumed the command over Chola forces. His soldiers worshipped him because he had tirelessly worked on their behalf to get enough supplies from their homeland while campaigning in Elangai. They also loved his down-to-earth attitude and the way he casually mingled with the soldiers.

As the Prince moved amidst the feasting soldiers, many tried to talk to him by asking questions. “My Prince, When will we lay siege to Pulathiya?” asked many soldiers. The Prince gave varying answers to the same question, “What’s the point in attacking Pulathiya when Mahindan is in Rohana mountain?” while to some he said, “Be patient. Let us wait until the monsoon season ends to start the siege,” Some soldiers expressed their displeasure in sitting idle while some said that they would wait patiently if the Prince visited them at least once a month.

After speaking to the soldiers, the Prince went to his tent along with Vandiya Devan and Azhwarkadiyan. “Did you see how enthusiastic these soldiers are? If I had got ample support from Thanjavur, we could have captured the entire Elangai by now? We squandered a wonderful opportunity there. Now that the monsoon has begun, our soldiers will have to be idle until this season lasts,”

“Prince, there are bigger things to worry about, than capturing this Island. The Kingdom that your ancestor Vijayalaya Chola established is under a grave threat today. Plots and treasons are disintegrating it,”

“You are right. You both have brought me important messages for me while I am worrying about something trivial. Alright, tell me what is happening in the Chola Kingdom. Let the Prince of Vanar Clan begin his story first,”

Vandiya Devan narrated all that had befallen him during his journey from Kanchi to Thanjavur. He also recounted his adventures and the very many ruses and tricks that he had employed to escape from his enemies. At the end of it he said, “Ayya! Your father is virtually imprisoned in his own palace. The noblemen who once swore a holy oath to serve and protect him are plotting against your family. Your sister, Princess Kundavai is gravely worried and requests you to come immediately to Pazhaiarai,”

After this, Azhwarkadiyan began his story. He agreed with most of what Vandiya Devan had told and also told the Prince about spying on Ravidasan and his gang at the Pallipadai near Thirupurampayam and their plans to destroy the Cholas. In the end, he added that as the Kingdom faced so many threats and dangers, it would be best for the Prince to remain in Elangai for the time being.

Prime Minister Anirudha Brahmarayar
“The Prime Minsiter believes that it would be in the best interests of the Kingdom if you complete the campaign in Elangai. It is important that you gather the entire army and keep them garrisoned at North Elangai under your command. Before long, those who plot against your family will come out with their true colours. Having an army at your disposal will add to your strength and that of your family’s. He also bid me to tell you that Kai Kola Padai, Vanniyar Padai and Vellar Padai are ready to swear a holy oath pledging their swords at your feet,”

“Thirumalai! What does your Gurunathar think, he is? Is he under the illusion that he is Chanakya reborn in this world? Does he want me to fight with my brother and other relatives?”

“No Ayya! My Gurunathar does not think thus. But isn’t it your duty to punish those who are plotting against the Kingdom and your family?”

“How can I punish them? If these plots and treasons are truly happening then it is my father, the Chakravarthy who must punish them. I cannot act without my father’s commands,”

Vandiya Devan interjected now and said, “Prince, your father is not free anymore. He is under the guard of the Pazhuvur brothers. No one can approach him, without their permission. Your brother does not want to go to Thanjavur for some reason. In such a situation, it is your duty to protect your family. It is important that you leave Elangai immediately and come with me to Pazhaiarai,”

“Why should the Prince go to Pazhaiarai? I can’t understand it,” asked Azhwarkadiyan.

Before Vandiya Devan could answer, the Prince said, “There is nothing worse in this world than a man’s greed for land. That alone, can compel him to do vile deeds. I went to Simhagiri Mountain Fort today. Do you know the history of that place?”
Simhagiri Fort is known as Sigiriya today
“No,” said Vandiya Devan.

“Around 500 years ago, this island kingdom was ruled by a King named, Dadusenan. He had two sons, Kasiappan and Magallan. The commander of Dadusenan and Kasiappan plotted together to seize the throne. Kasiappan imprisoned his own father and became the king. Magallan crossed the seas and went to Tamilnadu. In the meanwhile Kasiappan, raised the walls of his father’s prison and killed him treacherously. After committing the most heinous of the crimes, Kasiappan was tormented by the thought that Magallan might come back one day to avenge their father. He came to Simhagiri fort as it is a stronghold that cannot be captured easily. He hid himself within its walls for about 18 years. One day, Magallan came back home along with a large army of the Pandya King who had agreed to aid him. Kasiappan completely lost his mind and came out of his stronghold to confront his brother and with result lost his life. That wretched scoundrel, who would kill his own father to ascend the throne, had built that fortress and within it are some of the most beautiful paintings and art that I have ever seen. They were painted hundreds of years ago and yet they have not faded in time,”

Frescos of Sigiriya Fort

“Ayya! Can I ask you something?”

“Why this hesitation? Ask.”

“Isn’t Simhagiri Fort under the command of the Elangai army?”

“Yes. I have no intention of laying a siege to capture it. It will only lead to pointless loss of life,”

“I was not asking about that. I was more concerned about that fact that you entered the enemy’s fort without any thought for your safety. What possessed you to disguise yourself as a mahout and go along with those travellers from China? When I saw you mounted on the elephant’s back I was astounded. I didn’t know whether I could believe my eyes. Why did you go to the enemy’s stronghold with no care for your life?”

“Is my life so precious, Thirumalai? Do you know how many soldiers from our land have lost their life here?”

“My Prince, those soldiers lost their life in the battlefield while you sought to endanger it without any cause,”

“There was cause for my actions. I had two reasons to go to Simhagiri. I had always wanted to see the beautiful paintings of Simhagiri and I fulfilled it today,”

“My Prince, What about the second reason?”

“I knew that Parthibendra Pallavar was in Elangai right after he came ashore in Trikona Malai. I didn’t wish to see him today, so…”

“May I ask, why?”

“I also knew that our Prime Minister had come to Manthotham and was expecting a message from him. When I get messages from two elders, I always give precedence to the first,”

Vandiya Devan delighted by the Prince’s reply said happily, “Well said, My Prince. I have finally won!”

“My Prince, he has tricked you,”

“He didn’t. I should rather say that I deliberately fell for his trick. When I sent that soldier to get you here, he pushed him out of the horse and got on it instead. So I wanted to teach him a lesson…”

“That was a good lesson indeed My Prince! Each one of those lessons weighed rather heavy on my body. My body and chest throbs with pain whenever I think about it. Is this how you would treat a messenger who brought you news from your sister? Never mind, if you are coming to Pazhaiarai with me…”

“Thirumalai! I am reminded of an old poem that I heard long back. One of my ancestors was called Peru Killi Vazhavan and the bards sang about a wondrous elephant that he possessed. It was so huge that one of its leg was in Kanchi, while the other in Thanjavur, one other in Elangai and another in Uraiyur.

“Kanchi orukaal mithiyaa oru kaalaal
Thathuneerth thanthanjai thaanmithiyaap – pitraiyum
Eezham oru kaal mithiyaa varume nam
Kozhiyar kokkillik kaliru!”

Such was the poet’s imagination. In this Island Kingdom there are hoards of wild elephants but what’s the use? If only we could have one elephant like this, I could be in Kanchi, Thanjavur, Pazhaiarai and in Elangai at the same time?”

Vandiya Devan and Azhwarkadiyan laughed at this and then the Vaishnavan asked, “Since you don’t have this magic elephant, what do you propose to do?”

“What’s there to do? Haven’t we decided that he would be coming with me to Pazhaiarai?”

“Please defer your arguments for now. Let us go to Anuradhapuram tomorrow. I will meet Parthibendra Pallavan and then decide what to do,” 

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Volume 1 - New Flood