Book 1 | Chapter 3 | Alwaar Paasuram

Inside the VeeraNarayana Perumal Temple, KaattuMannaar Kovil (src: thehindu)

Read from the first Chapter —  here.

The last of the soldiers of the Pazhuvettarayar’s convoy were walking past. One of them saw Vandhiyathevan’s horse. For want of some entertainment, one of them went and teased the horse by trying to get on it. The horse resisted. Yet another soldier twisted the tail of the poor horse. The horse neighed in frustration, kicked its rear legs, and started running wildly through the crowds. The soldiers laughed at their brash act and continued marching. Vandhiyathevan felt anger boiling in him. Yet he clenched his teeth and kept silent. The Pazhuvettarayar force was large, and he did not want to create a scene.

Nambi commented snidely, “You were being so brave with us. Why not speak a few words with those stupid Pazhuvoor soldiers?”

Vandhiyathevan ignored Nambi’s comments and went in the direction of the horse. He knew that the horse would have run a little distance and stopped somewhere. The horse was indeed close by, standing beside a tree. The poor animal seemed to look at Vandhiyathevan with very sad eyes. He patted down the horse and consoled it. He took the horse by the reins and walked back to the road side, where Nambi was still waiting.

“Thambi, which way are you headed?”

“Towards Kadambur. Why do you ask?”

“Everyone seems to be going towards Kadambur. I hear that there is going to be a grand feast for all the vassals of the Chozha kingdom. There is going to singing and dancing late into the night. The Pazhuvettarayar himself is here. Security is going to be tight. Do you have an invitation?”

“I do not have any invitation. Kandanmaran, Prince of Kadambur, is a very close friend of mine. He had asked me to come by, any time I pass by”, said Vandhiyathevan.

Nambi laughed out loudly and added, “All that will not help today, thambi. Security is tight. Can I ask you for a favour? If somehow you are able to get in, can you also take me in with you?”

“And why do you want to go there? Is there any Veera Shaivar inside, with whom you are going to debate and fight again?”

“Oh no. Definitely not. After the feast, there is going to be a Kuravai Kootthu happening. I would like to see that cultural program.”

“Even if that is so, how can I take you?”

“You can say that I am your servant.”

“Friend, I am sorry. I will not be a part of such suspicious activities like smuggling somebody inside a fort discretely.”

Nambi had not formed a very good first impression on Vandhiyathevan, not with the verbal duel that happened a little while ago.

Together they walked towards the grand temple of Veeranarayanapuram. The Vishnu temple had been built by the great Rajaditya Chozhan, when he had built the man-made lake.

There was a lot of celebration inside the temple. It was the nakshatram of Andal — the great poetess who had pledged that she would not marry anyone else other than the Lord Himself. Nambi went up close to the Lord and started singing a Paasuram written by Nammazhwar. The place stood still. The music rang loud. Hearts melted. Tears streamed down Nambi’s face. Even Vandhiyathevan was moved. On the request of the devotional crowds, he sang a few more verses on the Goddess Lakshmi. The visibly moved temple priest, Ishwara Bhattar came forward and blessed Nambi. He also requested Nambi to initiate the priest’s son into learning some of these beautiful verses.

The priest’s son would grow up to be known as Naadamunigal, who was one of the first Vaishnava Aacharya to start collating the Paasurams. He would set up an ashram at a place called Kurugur, and his disciples would take up the task of spreading the Paasurams across the land.

“I should confess that I did not have a very good impression of you, before you sang at the temple. You seem to be a very devout man. If I had misspoken or said anything offensive before, please pardon me”, said Vandhiyathevan to Nambi.

Nambi smiled and asked again, “Can you do me a favour?”

Vandhiyathevan retorted — “Nambiyaare, I have already told you my response to the favour you had earlier requested.”

“No, no. This is something different. I will give you a message. Will you carry it to a person who is inside the fort?”

Nambi continued, “Do you remember the palanquin that came with the Pazhuvettarayar convoy? Do you remember the lady inside?”

Vandhiyathevan became furious with anger. “Nambiyaare, who do you think I am? What work are you giving me? If it were anyone else other than you, I would have thrashed him for asking me something like this.”

He kicked his horse and rode away in anger towards Kadambur.