Book 1 | Chapter 21 | Naughty Palanquin

The Cauvery at Thiruvaiyaaru. Img src: wikipedia

Vandhiyathevan was riding towards Thanjavur. The canals were flush with water. The fertile fields were green. He was riding through the most flourishing part of the kingdom.

He was riding with a very confused state of mind though. Very conflicting thoughts flooded his minds at regular intervals.

“Should he just deliver the message from Prince Aditya Karikalan to the Emperor and the Princess; and thereafter just leave as though nothing happened? He knew way more than what he should. Should he take any action and work towards saving the great Chozha kingdom. But what could he do?”

And then suddenly, his thoughts flitted back to the beautiful maiden he had met on the Arasalar banks. Her smile just captivated him and froze all other thoughts. He tried gathering back his composure. But there was something about her that kept drawing his attention. She resembled someone very important. Someone, he had seen.

“Does she resemble the royal family? Is she the Princess? I hope not. No, it could not be. But what if it was? If it were true, he had acted like the most brutish simpleton. He almost felt ashamed. But then, he was not sure.”

He gathered back his composure. He remembered how his elders had taught him the stories of Kovalan and others, and how he should not let his mind wander off towards infatuation and love. He then realized that he had neared the beautiful town of Thiruvaiyaaru.

He saw the beautiful town on the other side of the river. The beautiful buildings. The melodious music coming from the streets. The sound of anklets jingling in rhythm to the dancers movements. It was exactly as the Shaivite saint Sambandhar had described in song in the Thevarams. He saw staunch Shaivites smeared with sacred ash and reciting the Om Nama Shivaya mantras on the river bank.

Vandhiyathevan decided that he should rest for a day and take in the sights of Thiruvaiyaaru, before continuing on to Thanjavur.

At this point in time, he saw a covered palanquin come his way. It passed him and went towards the direction of Thanjavur. He had noticed that the palanquin had the palm tree insignia. It had to be Madhuranthaka Thevar. But then, where was Pazhuvettarayar? The palanquin just had a couple of guards in front and back.

Vandhiyathevan thought for a split second and decided to follow the palanquin. If possible, it would be worthwhile to strike a conversation or establish familiarity with Madhuranthaka Thevar. It might help him get into Thanjavur fort.

Thiruvaiyaaru had to wait for a different day. He followed the palanquin a fair distance behind. After crossing a handful of rivers, all tributaries of the Kaveri, and a few hours later, one of the guards fell behind and waited for Vandhiyathevan.

“Who are you Sir, and why are you following us?”

“I am just headed to Thanjavur. Isn’t this the road leading to Thanjavur?”

“This is the road to Thanjavur, but it is reserved for important persons. The way for common people is a different one.”

Vandhiyathevan continued walking with the guard until they caught up with the palanquin.