The book of vanci canto25
summary -The choice of a stone
Cenkuttuvan, the Ceral king, who amazed the Gods with the impossible feat of tearing apart the cadamba oak, also engraved his bow emblem on the Himalayas. Once, when he was with his queen llanko Venmal, he thought of visiting the mountain where the clouds made the groves thicker and where waterfall made the sounds of the roar of the drums.
“An image of her should be made With stone brought from Potiyil hills Or from the great Himalaya where the bow emblem Is engraved. Both are holy: one is washed By the flood of the Kaviri, and the other by the Ganga.” He left Vanci, the capital of his kingdom and travelled the distance of twelve hundred and sixty miles crossing avenues of trees, river banks, thick groves, and public halls to finally reach the Periyar river, and stopped at the fine sand dunes that made its bank.
The songs sung by the hill dwellers filled the air along with the hymns said by the priests in the honour of the Gods who held the red spear, the vallai songs, the clamour of guards in the field, the cries of men trying to split the honeycomb, the roar of waterfall, the trumpet of elephant as they encounter the tigers, the shouts of watchmen, and SO ON.
The hill dwellers paid a visit to the King Cenkuttuvan at the bank of river Periyar, offered him various gifts and praised the king. The villagers informed him that they witnessed a woman with one breast standing under the shade of a kino tree in the forest, and whose distress was beyond explanation. She was praised by the Gods, with whom she ascended to the heaven. Her identity could not be traced but the truth was that she came to the king’s kingdom.
The Tamil poet Cattan, famous for his poetry, listened to all these with a sense of wonder. He spoke to the king. He told him that the story of the woman with radiant bangles and her husband who was killed because of an unfortunate anklet. She then went to the king demanding justice, and then the old glorious city of Maturai was burnt to ashes from the fire that kindled from the breast of that chaste woman that she tore off from her young body.
Before leaving the king she flung that unfortunate anklet and left crying. Ashamed of his injustice, the Pandiya king died, and the queen followed her husband as if she were trying to reach him. The poet expressed to the king that, perhaps, Kannaki came to his kingdom to tell him what injustice had been done to her by the Pandiya king, and that was why she might not have gone to her own hometown.
Angered at the injustice of the Pandiya king, Cenkuttuvan said to the poet that the Pandiya king did well in giving his life before the news reached the former else he would have killed him for the injustice done to Kannaki. He added that it is a king’s duty to make sure that his subjects are safe and well. King Cenkuttuvan then discussed with his wife and asked her who would be better- Kannaki, who came to their kingdom in a rage of the injustice done to her husband, or the queen, who gave up her life after her husband, Pandiya king died. The queen replied that the joys of heaven would wait upon the chaste queen who gave up her life after the death of her husband and that they should honour the chaste woman who came to their kingdom.
The king’s councillor said to the king that they must install the image of the chaste woman who burnt the city of Maturai with her breast engraved on a stone brought either from the Potiyil hills or from the great Himalayas, for both the places are holy. The former is washed by the river Kaveri while the latter by the river Ganga. King replies that if they would try to get the stone from the Potiyil hill, it would not contribute to the valour and strength and good name of the family from which he was born.
Therefore, they must get the stone from the Himalayas. But if the Himalayan rulers would refuse them to take the stone to engrave the image of the Goddess of chastity, they would wage a war upon the Himalayan king who survived their earlier military attack. Then the king graced his elephant-soldiers with the garlands of willows, and celebrated the day of the success of Ceral, the excellence of gaining the title of the “Great King”.
He then gave orders to his soldiers to put on the battle-suit and said that they would put off the garlands of willows outside the city of Vanci, which would befriend their fierce swords. None could forget King Cenkuttuvan’s courage that he had showed when he escorted his mother to the river Ganga and fought with the thousands of Aryas which made even the God of death stunned. If he wants to impose the Tamil rule all over the world there is no one who can stop him. renounced for elephants
“Inform their kings That are richly caparisoned? We shall therefore announce
Your expedition by drumbeats within our own city…” The minister suggested to the king to send a message closed by his official seal informing about the official trip to the Himalayas to get the stone so that the image of the Goddess can be engraved upon it to the kings of the north. Alumpil vel, the commander in chief of the King’s army, suggested that in case the spies of every country remain hidden in the outskirts of the city of Vanci, they would inform their respective kings about the journey that Cenkuttuvan would about to take and Vanci could be at a stake.
The king agreed with Alumpilvel’s suggestion. The King returned to the city of Vanci and the news that the King Cenkuttuvan had decided to march to the Himalayas to get the stone from the Himalayas engraved with his bow emblem was announced in the city by drumbeats from the back of an elephant. The announcement also urged the kings in the north to pay tribute to Cenkuttuvan. The announcement threatened the northern kings by saying that if they would not listen, it would be advisable that they should leave their wives and become hermits.
“May the army live forever,
Dear as his own face to the King of victorious anklets.”
Note: It brings out the socio-political picture of the Tamil dynasty. Also this Canto lights up on socio-political contrast between the Aryan and Tamilian culture and practices. Not only the living styles of those eras could be felt but also there is a depiction of monarchial life-style of those days.
The book of vanci canto25 The book of vanci canto25 The book of vanci canto25 The book of vanci canto25