Monday, 28 March 2016

Chapter 16: Madhuranthaka Devar

We met Prince Madhuranthakan at the beginning of this story and then had a mere glimpse of him while he was in the underground chamber in Thanjavur. It is quite unfortunate that we failed to introduce this famous prince (who would later ascend the Chola throne as Parakesari Uttama Chola) in a befitting manner to our readers. We shall take this opportunity to do so now.

Before we introduce Prince Madhuranthakar to the readers, it is important that we learn more about his ancestors. Before the reign of King Sundara Chola, his uncle King Gandharathithar ruled over the kingdom for many long years. The King and his young wife Queen Sembiyanmadevi were devout saivaites who were keen on piety, art and architecture rather than expand the Kingdom through war. King Gandaharathithar’s one great wish was to bring all the Devaram poems written and sung by divine mystic poets under one fold but it remained unfulfilled during his lifetime. Nonetheless he did bring together many Devaram poems that he had heard and that’s not all he was also a prolific poet who penned many poems glorifying Lord Shiva. One of his poems describes eloquently about Chithambaram temple where his father had given all the gold in the Chola treasury to gild the roof golden for Lord Shiva.


Queen Sembiyanmadevi worshipping Lord Shiva at Uma Maheshwarar Temple, Konnerirajapuram (aka Thirunallam) 

Gandharathithar abhorred wars and had no ambition to expand the borders of Chola Kingdom. He believed that the common people were the true casualties of war and therefore rooted for peace all through his reign. His noble intentions notwithstanding the might of Chola Empire declined considerably during his reign. He had married Sembiyanmadevi at a very advanced age and their son Prince Madhuranthakan was an infant when he breathed his last. The Kingdom was undergoing turmoil during that period. His brother Aringzha Chola was grievously injured in the war and was in his deathbed while his son Prince Paranthakan (Sundara Chola) was a young warrior who had proven his might in many battles. During the final years of his reign, Gandaharathithar decided to crown his nephew as the next heir apparent and decreed a will to that effect. He also wanted his Queen Sembiyanmadevi to bring up their son Madhuranthakan as a staunch devotee of Lord Shiva lest power and riches of the Kingdom tempt him.
 
Queen Sembiyan Mahadevi as goddess ParvatiIndia, state of Tamil NaduChola period, ca. 998 Bronze; height 92.1 cm (3614 in.), Freer Gallery (Washington D.C.)
Sembiyanmadevi kept her promise to her lord husband and brought up their son with devotion and piety. She tried to instil in him the deep devotion for Lord Shiva and kept him away from the affairs of the kingdom.

Prince Madhuranthakan until the age of twenty fulfilled his mother’s wishes and devoted himself to the worship of Lord Shiva. He was disinterested in the affairs of the kingdom and to tell the truth he had no inkling about the fact that he had any claim on the Chola throne. However after his wedding to Chinna Pazhuvetrayar’s daughter two years ago, there was a sea change in his outlook and attitude. From a shy introvert Prince he transformed into a resentful angry young man. Pazhuvur Queen Nandini Devi had much to do with his transformation as did the Pazhuvur brothers. He resented the fact that Sundara Chola had ascended the throne and that his own mother played an important role in denying him the kingship. His wishful dreams of being a king became a raging wild fire after he learned that the most powerful noblemen of Chola Kingdom supported his claim. While these noblemen wished to wait for Sundara Chola’s demise, the Prince was unwilling to wait that long. He believed that Sundara Chola never had any claim to the Kingdom and that it had rightfully belonged to him in the first place.

Now that Sundara Chola was bedridden and unwell, why can’t he take over the reigns of the Kingdom?

The Pazhuvur brothers found it difficult to keep the Prince’s desire for the Kingdom in check. They feared that the Prince might do something foolish and foil all their plans to secure his succession. King Sundara Chola’s sons were brave warriors who commanded much respect and love from the army and the masses. Two powerful noblemen – Thirukovaloor Malayaman and Kodumbalur Vellar, supported the Crown Prince’s claim to succession. The Pazhuvur brothers felt that it would be impossible to stake a claim to the throne for Madhuranthakan, while the King was still alive. Therefore they had decided to stall their plans until Sundara Chola breathed his last.

In the meanwhile, when they learned that the King wished to crown Madhuranthakan instead of his own sons, they felt that an amicable solution was possible after all… If the King himself wished to deny his sons the throne and crown his cousin there was no more need for any subterfuge.

Only two women were capable of opposing such a scheme – one was Elayapirati Kundavai and Sembiyanmadevi. It would be easy to foil Kundavai’s plans but how could they counter a woman who was highly respected and worshipped by the masses.

Sembiyanmadevi has been resolutely against Madhuranthakan ascending the throne and everyone knew about it. This they felt was a real hurdle in the path of succession and even if Madhuranthakan were to ignore his noble mother’s words, the people of this kingdom would never forgive him for it. They felt that there were two solutions for this problem… either the Dowager Queen should breath her last after which the Prince can pursue his heart’s desire or he could try and change her mind. And who but her beloved son can try to attempt this?

Therefore the Pazhuvur brothers had explained all this and more to the Prince and had literally drummed it into his head that Sembiyanmadevi’s approval was of paramount importance if his succession plans were to materialize. However the Prince was less than enthusiastic to undertake this mission. Though he was more than ready to take charge of the Kingdom he hesitated to broach the subject with his mother. What more… he had no desire to meet her as well.


Meanwhile Sembiyanmadevi had sent him a message saying that she wished to fulfil an important wish that her lord husband had held dear to his heart and wanted her son to be present at the occasion. Chinna Pazhuvetarayar persuaded the Prince to make the journey to Pazhaiarai accordingly and also to try to change her heart so as to make her favourably disposed towards his succession to the Chola throne.

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Sunday, 27 March 2016

Chapter 15: Kalamugar

Kalamugars and Vandiya Devan

The heat of the early morning sun woke Vandiya Devan but he didn’t get up yet. He turned on his back lazily and spotted two Kalamugars coming his way on the road. Their mated hair, trident, holy ash, garland of skulls and unkempt appearance made many people wary of them. Kalamugars were staunch saivaites whose devotion to Lord Shiva was absolute. As he watched them approach, Vandiya Devan sorely missed the one person who could stand his ground against them– Azhwarkadiyan Nambi. Unwilling to be drawn into a conversation with them, he pretended to be asleep until they passed him by.

“Shivoham! Looks like this boy is a Kumbakarna…”

“Shivoham! If only we could get a boy like him, we could…”

“You are going by his appearance. He is a handsome boy for sure but he is of no use to us. He is going to be in grave danger, very soon,”

Vandiya Devan who was pretending to be asleep was curious to know what danger that would be but he couldn’t wake up now. He hoped that they would speak elaborately about that prediction…but they didn’t.

“That’s his fate. What can we do about it? Let us be on our way… come.”

The Kalamugars were a sect that branched out from the old Kapaligars. Unlike Kapaligars, the Kalamugars did not offer blood sacrifice but they retained all the other rituals practiced in their parent sect. It was widely believed that Kalamugars performed rigorous meditation in the funeral grounds and gained the power of third eye that granted them a glimpse of events to come. Many feared that their austerity gave them the power to curse anyone hence Kalamugars commanded great respect and fear and were given royal hospitality wherever they stayed. Many noblemen and petty kings gave many temple grants specifically to provide food for Kapaligars. Despite all this the reigning Chola Kings were not partial to Kalamugars and didn’t patronize them.

Vandiya Devan who was aware of this didn’t bother much about the ‘grave danger’ prediction.

Let them blabber something. What sort of grave danger is going to visit upon me that I haven’t seen already?

While this is what he told himself, he didn’t acknowledge the fact that he was still curious to know what that ‘grave danger’ would indeed be.

Vandiya Devan got up and looked around casually and noted that the Kalamugars were going towards an old mandapam. Next to the mandapam was an artificial cave with statues of lion carved out of stone. In days of yore, Jain monks meditated in those caves but now it was being occupied by Kalamugars. Vandiya Devan decided to talk to them before he could go on his way. He led his horse towards the artificial caves that was adjacent to the mandapam. Even while he was turning the bend at the mandapam he could hear them talk.

“That boy wasn’t pretending to sleep. I think he was really asleep,”

“How can you be so sure about that?”

“I am yet to see another man who would placidly sleep when someone is predicting that he would be in ‘grave danger’ soon.”

“That boy looked like a good warrior. Why don’t we make him join our sect? It would do good for us.”

“Why worry about him when we are going to get a royal prince who might be the next king?”

“Whom are you referring to?”

“Who else but Prince Madhuranthakan? Don’t you know about that?”

“But… what about the other two?”

“One is already dead drowned in the sea while the other is nearing death…”

Vandiya Devan’s desire to listen to any more conversation diminished after he heard this. He wanted to leave immediately and reach Pazhaiarai as soon as possible. After giving his news to the Princess he wanted to go to Kanchi. He was indebted to Prince Aditya Karikalar more than anybody else and it was his duty to stand by him while he was surrounded by dangers. Brash and audacious the Prince was known for courting risk and he rarely listened to anyone. That’s why it was important that he hastened to the Prince immediately rather than tarry time on unimportant things.

Vandiya Devan mounted his horse silently and started off. He turned towards the Kalamugars and found them staring at him silently. One of the Kalamugars seemed a bit familiar but he didn’t care to investigate who it was.

On his way to Pazhaiarai, Vandiya Devan saw many villages where people were thronging the streets intent on their work. It was obvious that they haven’t heard the news about Prince Arul Mozhi Varmar’s death in the sea. He wished to reach Pazhaiarai and give his news to the Princess before she heard anything to the contrary from other people.

What if she heard the news about Prince before I reach her? Would she believe it? No! She won’t do anything foolish but the same can’t be said about that Kodumbalur Princess.

This thought forced Vandiya Devan to ride his horse harder than ever but his horse whose hoof was recently shoed found it difficult to run any faster. Two hours before the dusk, the fort walls of Pazhaiarai were seen. He could see the guards in front of the walls and also the Durga temple that was built near it.

Now he pondered on how to enter the fort without getting arrested by the guards. He can’t show the Palm Signet ring here. They would know that he has it in his possession and would immediately arrest him. He would then be taken away to await Chinna Pazhuvetarayar’s pleasure and wouldn’t be allowed anywhere near Kundavai.

Thinking thus, he brought the horse to a slow trot and stood near the fort walls. Just then he noticed a crowd of people coming towards the fort. Foot soldiers and body guards surrounded a horse drawn chariot shaped like a lotus.

Aha! Who is sitting in that chariot? That’s Prince Madhuranthakan Devar. The same prince who had come in the veiled palanquin of Nandini Devi is now coming to the fort in a chariot. That’s when Vandiya Devan got the idea to enter the fort.

 He decided to test Kalamugar’s statement here - “I am yet to see another man who would placidly sleep when someone is predicting that he would be in ‘grave danger’ soon.”

He knew that he was eager to learn more about the ‘grave danger’ that the Kalamugar had predicted. The same could be true for others too!
Prince Madhuranthakan

Vandiya Devan immediately turned his horse towards the chariot and the Prince’s guards were caught unawares. They didn’t stop him until he came very close to the chariot. He stood on the stirrup of the horse and shouted, “Danger! Grave Danger!” After that he suddenly jumped out of the horse and fell down.

The procession stopped and one half of Madhuranthakan’s guards caught Vandiya Devan’s horse while the other half tried to target him using their spears. But when he fell down from the horse they laughed. The Prince too laughed out aloud and then he asked his guards to bring him closer to the chariot.

Vandiya Devan who would normally be incensed by the fact that someone laughed at him seemed unconcerned about it and was staring at the Prince intently.

“You there! Bring him here,” said the Prince

When Vandiya Devan was brought near the Prince, he asked, “Who are you?”

“I… I am… Chakravarthy! Don’t you know me?”

“What! What are you saying? Who do you think I am?” asked Madhuranthakar after bidding his guards to move away.

“Who do you think I am?” repeated Madhuranthakar.

“Forgive me Prince. I mistakenly called you ‘Chakravarthy’. You are still… still…”

“Have I met you before? Have you seen me before?”

“Yes. I have seen you. No… I haven’t met you.”

“Have you seen me before or not? Speak the truth!”

“I have decided to speak only the truth since yesterday. That’s why I am finding it difficult to say whether I have seen you or not,”

“Oho! So you have been speaking truth only since yesterday is it? Good joke!” said the Prince and laughed and then asked, “If that is so then why would you find it difficult to say whether you have seen me or not,”

“My Prince! In today’s world, it is very tough to define truth. One person looks like the other. I saw someone in a veiled palanquin one day and on another day the same person is seen travelling in a chariot…”

“What did you say?” said Prince Madhuranthakan and his voice betrayed the fact that Vandiya Devan’s words had shaken him up.

“I said that since one person resembles the other, it is very difficult to discern whether I have met you or not,”

“Whom do I resemble?”

“I have seen you twice or someone who resembles you very closely. I do not know whether it is you that I have seen or someone like you… that’s why I tried to come close to you,”

“What did you find out? Am I the one that you have seen or nor?”

“You could be the person that I have seen or you could not?”

It was evident that Vandiya Devan’s cryptic answer had enraged Prince Madhuranthakan.

“You are a vagrant… I will have you…”

“My Prince! Please don’t get angry. Allow me to tell you as to where I have seen you. You can decide how to punish me after hearing me out.”

“Alright! Tell me where you have seen me,”

“It was a huge fort. Many great warriors have assembled there for a midnight meeting. I can see the huge oil lamps that have been lit on the walls. By its light I can see a veiled palanquin and the warriors discussing something of import. The leader of these warriors is asked many questions and in answer he comes near the palanquin and opens the veils. A handsome man comes out of the palanquin and smiles at the warriors who hail him victoriously. ‘Long Live the Prince!’ ‘Long Live Chakravarthy! Ayya! The handsome prince who came out of the palanquin resembled you greatly. Have I erred in any of the detail that I just narrated to you?”

Prince Madhuranthakan who had been listening to Vandiya Devan in rapt attention started sweating after he finished. A shadow of fear was seen in his face.

“Were you one of the warriors in that assembly that night?”

“No. I was not one of the warriors who had assembled there,”

“Then how can you describe it so accurately?”

“My Prince! I know not whether these events that I just described happened in truth or in a dream. I can describe yet another event for you. A dark underground chamber with nary a light and a pathway that takes one around and around…one needs to climb down and up many times before you reach the path. Through this pathway I see three people going. One is carrying a fire torch and the other is guarding them with a spear and in the middle there was a handsome Prince whose beauty could only be compared to that of Manmathan. When the fire torch cast a light around the chamber I could see many huge pillars there and a pit in the midst of which awaited the treasure of the world! Diamonds, emeralds, rubies, gold, diadems, coins and wealth of indescribable proportions! The prince who was coming through this unground chamber resembled you greatly but whether it was ‘you’ or not is something that only you can confirm,”

Prince Madhuranthakan whose fear was heightened with every word that Vandiya Devan uttered said, “Enough! Stop!”

“Are you a soothsayer?”

“No. That’s not my profession but I do have the sight that shows me what has happened and what will happen in the future,”

Madhuranthakan thought for a while and said, “You shouted something while on the horse. What were you saying?”

“I said that you were in grave danger,”

“What danger?”

“Many dangers lie in your path however there is also greatness awaiting for you. I cannot speak about them in the middle of the road. Take me along with you inside the Fort and I will read your fortune for you…”

“Alright! Come with me. We can speak in leisure…” said the Prince and then called the Commander of his guards and bid him to include Vandiya Devan in their entourage. The Commander didn’t seem very enthused with the Prince’s idea to include a complete stranger in their midst but he didn’t protest the command.

As they neared the Fort the guards manning the city opened the gates and Vandiya Devan successfully entered the city.


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Monday, 7 March 2016

Chapter 14: A Flying Horse

Pazhuvur Elaya Rani - Nandini Devi
Nandini held the sword to her heart and then kissed it lovingly but to Vandiya Devan, it seemed as though a beautiful lotus was seeking to come close to a burning furnace. Immediately after this, her facial expression changed.  She now resembled Goddess Kali who demanded a sacrifice from her devotees.

Vandiya Devan
“Yes. God has given me this sword to fulfil a life’s purpose but I can’t fathom what that is. I often send this to the Ironsmith to sharpen it. I shower it with the same care and affection that a tigress shows its small cubs. I am nurturing this blade with the same love that a fierce Arab warrior shows towards his beloved horse. Just as Queen Vanamadevi is devoutly serving King Sundara Chola, I too am taking care of this sword. But what does God intend for me to do with it, I know not. Its purpose is still a mystery to me. These hands that know only to make garlands of flowers, will they be asked to kill my vicious enemy or will I will be tasked to plunge it within my mine own heart, I know not. I do know that one day, God will reveal the purpose of this sword to me. I wait, day and night for that moment to come. I stay prepared, dressed up thus wearing beautiful ornaments and adorning myself with silks and flowers. People around me think that I love to adorn myself while Pazhuvur lord thinks that it’s because I love him. He doesn’t know the fire that burns in my heart…”

Vandiya Devan listened to Nandini’s tortured speech with a dazed expression and then he asked, “Devi! Where is Periya Pazhuvetarayar?”

“Why do you ask? Are you afraid of that old man?”

“No Devi! When I am not afraid of you, why would I be scared of him?”

“Aha! That’s precisely why I like you. I do not know why, but people are afraid to talk their minds in my presence. My Lord Husband who bears 64 deadly scars upon his body, is frightened to his voice his opinions in front of me. My noble brother-in-law Kalanthaka Kantan trembles when he hears my voice. Prince Madhuranthakan who wishes to rule this kingdom as Chakravarthy comes in my presence with the same devotion that he used to show his Lord Shiva. King Sundara Chola who is at the death’s doorstep loses his consciousness whenever he lays his eye upon me. Parthibendra Pallavan, of whom I have heard many stories of bravery and valour was in my presence for a little while and now he follows me around everywhere. He has even forgotten his duty to his Prince and wants come with me to Thanjavur. He comes near with desire in his eyes but yet he trembles in my presence.

Do you know, when I was young I loved to watch fire? I would long to touch it and extend my fingers towards it but I could never do it. Whenever I see Parthibendran I remember, how I tried to play with fire. Even your own master Aditya Karikalan was for some reason afraid of me. When we were children, he cherished and adored me, yet he was frightened of me. Ah! If only this weren’t so, my life wouldn’t have become so unrecognizable even for me. Ayya! Would you convey this message to him? Tell him I have forgotten the past and that I am the wife of Pazhvur Lord whom he considers as his grandsire. There is no cause for him to be afraid of me. I will not harm him in anyway. Will you tell him?”

“Devi! Forgive me. There is no guarantee that I would go back to him alive. Even if I did, I bear many messages of great import for him. There is a possibility that I might forget to give him your message.”

“Amongst all the men, you are the only brave one around me. You do not utter falsehood just to please me. You speak your heart no matter how bitter the truth is. Vandiya Devarey! I do not go out in a chariot or an elephant like how Princess Kundavai does. I meet very few people and unfortunately most of them are cowards who pander for my favour with meaningless words. You are the only one who doesn’t hide your intentions behind the fa├žade of love…”

“Devi! I find it difficult to hide anything in your presence because your beautiful eyes are sharp enough to unearth the truth of my heart,”

“You might be right but so far I have failed to divine your heart’s secrets. You asked about Pazhvur Lord, didn’t you? He has gone along with Parthibendran to a nearby village to watch Kannagi Koothu and they plan to ask the temple priests about the fate of the lost prince. Poor men, they didn’t know that they would have found the answers to their questions if only they had caught you. It will be past dawn before they come back. Ayya! Let me ask you again. You do know the truth about the Prince’s fate, won’t you tell me about it?”

“No Devi! I cannot reveal truth about the Prince to you. Ironically I had decided today, not to lie about anything. I cannot tell you anything about the lost Prince. I forgot my resolution a few moments ago…” he said and removed the Palm Signet ring that Nandini had given him.

“Devi! Here is the palm signet ring that you gave me. It is true that Kodumbalur Commander’s men took the ring from me but Budhi Vikrama Kesari returned it to me later. Kindly accept this with heartfelt gratitude for all the help you rendered me. I am truly grateful to you,” he said and held the ring in his outstretched hands.

Nandini looked at it intently for a while and then said, “Ayya! I do not take whatever I have given. You are free to keep it. I was testing your truthfulness and you have passed it. You may keep it as my remembrance,”

“Devi! Are you sure about this? If I kept it with me, I might be tempted to use it again,”

“I am not worried about that. Use it in any way you choose. I shall now ask my guards to take you back in the palanquin to the place where they captured you,”

“And if I refuse…”

“If you refuse, you will be trapped in this ancient fort forever. You cannot leave this place without our aid,”

“Devi! Whose Fort is this?”

“This fort was built by the Pallavas. When the Pandya Kings captured the Chola Kingdom, they stayed in this fort. During the reign of Vijayalaya Chola a fierce battle took place and one half of this palace was destroyed and it lies in ruins. People here call this as Pallava or Pandya fort depending on where their loyalties lie. The ruined palace is a maze and only those who are familiar with the place can hope to get out of it. What do you say? Shall I call my men to take to you back or do you wish to stumble your way out of here?”

“No Devi. I will go with your men. I do not have the time to find my way out of here. Before I leave, I wish to ask you something. Is there anything else that you perchance want from me? Can I be of assistance to you in any way?”

“I thank you for the offer. I do need your help. Would it be possible for you to bring me a flying horse?”

“What? Flying horse?”

“Yes.”

“Do you mean the fast steeds that are bred in the Kingdom of Arabia?”

“No. I can’t ride such a horse. I want a horse that can fly with wings. I have heard many stories about the existence of such horses and I wish to have one,”

“Why do you wish for such a horse? Do you want to go to the heavens?”

“Do you believe that a sinner like ‘me’ can step into the heavens?”

“Do you think that all the people in the heaven are good? People in heavens too indulge in sins and get cursed. They are sent to our world to seek retribution for their mistakes. Once their penance is complete, they go back to the heaven,”

“No. I do not wish to go to heaven. In the Pandya Kingdom there is a place where there is no greenery. A vast stretch of land that is laid bare to the sun with just rocks. Not even a blade of grass grows here and in these mountains there are many caves that Dingambara Jain Saints once used to meditate in. Not even Amaravathi – the capital of the heavens can match the beauty of those mountains. That’s why I wish to go there,”

“Devi, Your request is quite strange indeed,”

“If I had a flying horse I would go to Pandya Kingdom and then from there I would travel to Elangai. I have heard that there are trees that almost touch the sky in the forests there. Just as we have herds of buffalo grazing here, there are wild elephants there. I would love to see them. I have heard that there are many lands and kingdoms where mountains of frozen water exist. I have heard that when the sun rises here, these mountains would gleam with a silvery sheen. I have also heard of many kingdoms built in the midst of deserts where the sand is white and soft. If I had a flying horse, I could see all these wonders…”

“Devi! It is beyond my powers to procure such a horse for you. However, I can help fulfil a few of your wishes. If the sea is calm, you can reach Elangai within half a day in a good boat. If you have a ship…”

“Ayya! I can’t travel by boat or a ship, as I am afraid of waters. My heart trembles at the very thought of it. Your ideas aren’t of much use to me. You have my leave to go,”

“Devi! Is there anything else that you wish to tell me?”

“No. Do you have something to tell me?”

“I have a question Devi. A few days ago, didn’t you come to Elangai? Didn’t you stand on the ruined streets of Anuradhapura on a full moon night?”

“No. That would be impossible for me. Pazhvur soldiers surround me at all hours. Why do you think that I was at Elangai?”

“Devi, I saw you in Elangai. You just spoke about ‘Flying Horse’. I thought that you might have already procured one and used it to fly to Elangai. Your appearance was however different. You wore an ordinary old sari with no jewel or ornament adorning you. Your hair was not bound but was let out free. Tell me in truth, were you that woman?”

“No. I am not she. Did that woman speak something to you?”

“No. She didn’t speak at all. She could only talk with signs. I thought that since you keep the company of magicians, you might have somehow come there,”

“No.”

 “Then it is quite strange that the mute woman in Elangai resembles you greatly in every aspect,”

Nandini looked dazed and then she sighed heavily and said, “Ayya! You offered to help me, didn’t you?”

“Yes. I did.”

“Do you truly mean it?”

“I do Devi. With all my heart.”

“Do you truthfully mean it?”

“You can depend upon it.”

“Then promise me that if you ever see this mute woman again, you will try to bring her to me. If that were not possible, then you should help me to meet her.”

After half hour, Vandiya Devan was again in Mullaiarrangarai Lake with his horse next to him. Nandini’s men disappeared fast enough after they left him there.

Vandiya Devan began his interrupted journey through the lake bed on the horse. It was past midnight and on the sky the comet was seen stretching from one end to another. He wondered if there was any truth in people’s belief about the disastrous events that come to pass when comets are sighted.

Nandini remained in his thoughts for the rest of the night. When he met her in Thanjavur for the first time, he found her not only beautiful but also distasteful. After meeting her again, he felt pity for her because he realized that she has undergone many untold sorrows in her life. He also realized that he was clueless about her intentions and her association with the Abathuthavigal. Her life was a mystery in most parts and he didn’t know anything about her past apart from what Thirumalai had told him. His mind cautioned him again and he resolved never to meet her again. He was also tempted to throw the palm signet ring in the lake waters but something stopped him from within.

I might need it again to escape from some danger. I will get rid of it after meeting Princess Kundavai at Pazhaiarai I will throw the ring and never again will I agree to spy for anyone!

The dawn broke even while he was thinking thus and Vandiya Devan sore and tired tied the horse to a nearby tree and settled down to nap for a while.


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