The Book of Vanci Canto 29
Canto 29 – The Benediction:
This Canto repeated the story of Cenkuttuvan. He was the son of Ceralatan, the King who defeated Konku. He then returned to the city of Vanci where he received many holy men, who informed him that several northern kings gathered on the occasion of a princess’ marriage, insulted the valour of southern King. Stimulated by this incident, Cenkuttuvan decided to bring the stone from the Himalayas, after fighting and defeating the Arya kings. After getting the stone, he dedicated and installed the image of Kannaki, whose breast had burned the city of Maturai.
When her foster mother, her close friend and Tenvanti heard the news of Kovalan’s death, they were deeply agitated, and went to Maturai to see Kannaki, but they heard the news of the destruction that her breast had caused. After that they went to Aiyai, the daughter of Matarai, who hurled herself in fire because she could not save Kannaki who was in her care. Together they travelled and came to the palace of Cerikuttuvan and told him about their relationship with Kannaki.
Tenvanti introduced herself to Cenkuttuvan as a friend of Kannaki from Cola country. The foster mother introduced herself to the king as the foster mother of Kannaki who did not bore any grudge towards Madhavi, the courtesan for whom Kovalan left her. And her friend introduced herself to king as the friend of Kannaki. Tenvanti lamented in front of the image of Kannaki and said that her mother died after hearing the troubles that she went through, and so did her mother-in-law. The foster mother cried and told her that Macattuvan, ater hearing the injustice done to his son, renounced the world and gave away all his wealth, and so did Manayakan, Kannaki’s father.
Kannaki’s close friend wailed in front of Kannaki’s image and said that Madhavi after hearing about what happened with Kovalan, gave away all her wealth and went to a Buddhist nunnery, and Manimekalai, the daughter of Kovalan and Madhavi, also renounced the world.
Tenvanti told her about Aiyai, the unmarried daughter of Matarai, who gave up her life after hearing about Kannaki by jumping into fire. At that moment he saw a figure appeared in the sky with gold anklets, and other ornaments of golds and diamonds. This figure was Kannaki herself. She said to her friends that the king Pandiyan should not be blamed for he now is the guest of the Gods in their palace. She asked them to come to the Venvelan’s hill.
“O girls of Vanci, girls with waists Like the willow. Girls whose feet are painted With lace, who are a part of the kings’ following.
Let us all sing of the lovely woman. Come, let us all sing of the Pantiyan’s daughter.”
The girls of Vanci come together and ask each other to sing in praise of Kannaki who burnt down the city of Maturai with her breast, and the king. The song of the chorus is followed by the blessing which praises the Pandiyan king who admitted his error in judgement and died of shock. Then the king who went to the Himalayas to bring the stone to engrave the image of Kannaki is praised and well wished. The blessing was followed by the ‘Song of the Wooden Ball’, a song is in the form of questions and answers.
The answer of each question celebrated the heroic feat performed by the Cola king. First they mention that Cola king ruled over the world and guarded the tall fortress of the king of Gods. The song, as in the traditional practice, had been described as a game wherein the girls would run and strike the ball saying and wishing for the kings to live forever.
‘The Song of the Ball’ was followed by “The Song of the Swings”. This song was in the honour of the Ceral king, describing his different heroic feats in different stanzas. In the first stanza we were told that he pulled apart the cadamba oak. In the second stanza, we were told about the Ceral king Poraiyan, who offered huge quantity of food during Kurukshetra war between Pandavas and Kauravas. And in the third stanza the Ceral king was described as the ruler and guardian of earth with bow, fish and tiger banners.
The final song of this Canto is “The Song of the Pestle’. This song glorified all three kings, i.e. Cola kings, Pandiyan kings, and Ceral kings. The first stanza was about Cola king who had broad shoulders, and an emblem of the wheel. The second stanza was about the Pandiyan king whose shoulders were bright with the garland of king of Gods, and whose banner had the emblem of fish.
The third stanza was about the Ceral king who used to wear the garland of palm leaves, and whose feat of pulling apart the cadamba oak was celebrated everywhere. The final stanza of the song warned that those who would not worship the holy feet of Poraiyan would find it difficult to bless our lord of good earth. The song ended with the following words: “The renowned daughter of our king, Kannaki, spoke the benediction: “May our Cenkuttuvan live forever.”
…..This song is the song Of the Ceral king with a garland of palm leaves….. ….. This song is the song Of his palmyra garland that excites the heart.”