Book 3

Book 3 | Chapter 20 | Mother and Son

Madhuranthakan walked towards his mother’s quarters. Thoughts flooded him. Once upon a time, he used to respect her and her religious work. He used to be involved as well. But these days, he could not digest that his own mother had cheated him of a throne, which he was the legal heir to.  

When he saw her calm face, his anger reduced a little. He bowed to her and touched her feet. She made him rise and sit on a couch next to her.  

“Son, how is your wife? How are her parents? Hope the Pazhuvettarayars are doing well. Did you get a chance to see the Emperor before you left Thanjavur?” 

Madhuranthakan grumbled, “Yes. They are all fine. The Emperor’s health is still deteriorating. I think his mental health is failing faster than his physical health. He is sad.” 

“What is making the Emperor sad, son?” 

“One who commits a crime, goes against the law, and enjoys other people’s fortune is bound to be sad.” 

“What crime did the Emperor do? What are you talking, Madhuranthaka?” 

“Hasn’t he been enjoying the throne that was meant for me, for so long?” 

“Madhuranthaka, who has polluted your mind so much?” 

“No one has polluted my mind. Do you think your son is so stupid that he cannot realise these things by himself?” 

“Even the most intelligent people’s minds can be polluted. Do you not remember Kaikeyi being corrupted by Kooni’s thoughts?” 

“Hmm. Hmm. Leave all that, why did you call me here? Please tell me that first.” 

“I saw you were present at the gathering today.” 

“Hmm. Yes. I saw that passer-by youth with a few scrolls being praised to no end, and given a royal treatment.” 

“Please don’t insult Nambi. He might be young in age, but is a great person.” 

Madhuranthakan grunted and said, “Will you now tell me why you called me?” 

She sighed. “What a change has come over you, Madhuranthaka! I am pained to see this. Two years of living in the Pazhuvettarayars’ palace has had such an impact on you. Anyway, I have to do what my husband had ordained me to do. Before I tell you why I called you here, I need to tell you some history. History of how I met your father and how we married. Please listen patiently.” 

“When I was young, your father had visited my place, Mazhapadi, a few times. He had come to the famous temple, which was one of the 64 temples that Kochenga Chozhan had built. Historically, our clan, the Mazhavarayars, had been a powerful vassal clan. Unfortunately, in the war between the Pandiyas and Chozhas, the Mazhavarayars took the side of the Pandiyas, and hence their clout reduced after the war.” 

“Of course, as a small girl, I did not care about any of this. My heart was with the Natarajar at Mazhapadi. I had heard the story of Sundarar’s association with this temple. Sundarar had been traveling nearby, but he could not see the temple, which was hidden behind a thick cluster of Punnai trees. He had heard a voice – ‘Sundara, ennai marandaayo? (Sundara, did you forget me?)’ He started searching immediately, and found the temple, where he sang some beautiful songs, the most famous one being – “Ponnaar Meniyane…”. 

“I used to visit the temple often and worship Lord Natarajar with fervour. I used to pray that I would marry only the Lord himself. My younger years were spent at the temple, day in and day out. One day, I was sitting and meditating in front of the Lord, and I heard voices and laughter. I opened my eyes and saw a person of royal lineage and his entourage. Something inside me told me that it was Lord Shiva himself in this guise, and I broke into tears.” 

“The King had asked my father who I was. My father told the King all about me, and how I was devoted to the Lord, and spent almost all my time at the temple, meditating or singing the Lord’s praises. After hearing this, the King had proposed to marry me. That King, my son, is your father, Kandaraditya Chozhan.” 

“After our marriage, your grandfather got back his title of Mazhavarayar. Your father and I had decided to spend our time in the service of the Lord, and had decided not to have children. I had never dreamed of having to tell you of all this, but it is time that I should tell you this.”