Book 1 | Chapter 2 | Nambi
As he headed down south, Vandhiyathevan passed through the fertile and prosperous lands of the Chozha kingdom. He dreamed about the Grand capital city of Pazhayarai, about meeting powerful people, meeting the most powerful of them all — the Emperor Sundara Chozhan himself. And he dreamt of meeting the most beautiful lady in the entire kingdom, the Princess Kundavai.
Soon he reached the temple town of Veeranarayanapuram. The temple wore a festival look as well, on account of the harvest festival. Within the crowds, Vandhiyathevan noticed some commotion. Curiosity took the better of him. He tied his horse to a tree on the side of the road, and walked towards the noise. He noticed the commotion was due to an animated debate between three people. There was one person who looked like a veera-vaishnavaite (staunch Vishnu follower). He had sandal wood paste smeared all over his body, had his hair bundled into a bun in the front, and was swinging around a wooden staff in anger. The second person looked like a staunch Shiva follower with sacred ash smeared all over him. The third person was an advaitha saint. The three were arguing on whether Shiva or Vishnu was the greater God, or neither, as the advaitha saint argued.
The debate heated up significantly with the crowd egging the three participants. After a bit, the advaitha saint silently disappeared into the crowd — leaving the debate between Shiva and Vishnu.
Vandhiyathevan wanted to stop this fight. He called out to two of them and said, “Both Vishnu and Shiva are equally great. I do not know why you are fighting over this trivial matter.”
The veera-vaishnavaite, Alwarkadiyaan Nambi shot back — “How do you know, young man?”
“I went to Vaikuntam yesterday. I saw Lord Shiva also there, who had come to visit Lord Vishnu. Both of them seem to be at peace with each other. When I asked them who was bigger, they said,
`Hariyum Haranum onnu — ariyaadavan vaayil mannu’
(Vishnu and Shiva are the same. The one who does not realize this has sand in his mouth).”
Vandhiyathevan then dramatically opened his left hand which had a fistful of sand, and threw it at the two saints. Several people in the amused and excited crowd did the same as well. Nambi started swinging his staff around his head animatedly.
The sound of trumpets interrupted this spectacle, announcing the passage of a noble. The announcers announced the passage of Periya Pazhuvettarayar. Behind the announcers were the flag holders, and behind them, the Pazhuvettarayar rode majestically on an elephant. Following the elephant was a covered palanquin. Vandhiyathevan was taking in this sight attentively, when he saw a hand gently open the silk curtain of the palanquin. He saw the bangles adorning the beautiful hand of a lady.
And suddenly without a warning, there was a shriek and the hand pulled back the curtains. Vandhiyathevan could sense that she had seen something or someone that had terrified her. He turned around to see what had scared her so much. He chanced to see Alwarkadiyaan Nambi leaning against a tree, with a gruesome face.
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