Book 3

Book 3 | Chapter 26 | Aniruddhar’s Request

The crowd surrounded the Chief Minister’s palanquin. They all asked him about the Prince. He raised his hands asking them to stay calm and proceeded towards the palace gates. Once he got near the main palace, he got down, looked up at the Matron and the Princess, and expressed his respect by joining his hands.

Alwarkadiyan rushed towards his Guru, and whispered something in his ear. The minister looked at Vandhiyathevan and Pinakapani, who were still intently fighting each other and said – “Guards. Arrest these two brutes who are creating a ruckus in front of the palace.”

When the guards separated the two of them, Nambi motioned to Vandhiyathevan asking him to stay calm and follow the orders, and that he would take care.

Aniruddhar went up to the balcony and started addressing the crowd.

“I understand and feel everyone’s anxiety. The royal family is also grieving, just like you. I request you not to do anything that will increase the anxiety and grief of this family. Efforts to search for the Prince are on. I am personally involved.”

Someone from the crowd shouted, “How is the Emperor in Thanjavur? We want him to come back here.”

“The Emperor is doing fine and he is safe. His palace is now being guarded by the Velakkara Padai round the clock. I assure you I will bring the Emperor back to Pazhayarai at the right time.”

“How are our warriors doing in Lanka?” cried another.

“Our soldiers are doing great. We have just won a decisive victory in Lanka. Our forces will return very soon.”

Hearing this last bit of information, the crowd erupted in joy. The crowd started dispersing after cheering the Chief Minister. The minister looked at the Matron and said, “My Lady, I need to give you some very important information.”

He glanced at the Princess and said, “Amma, I will come to you right after that.”

Kundavai started walking back to her quarters. She was now very anxious. If there was one person that she was afraid of, it was the Chief Minister. The hawk-eyed General could get information out of someone by just looking at the person. She was confused as to how much the General already knew, and how much to tell him. She was also a bit angry about the order to arrest Vandhiyathevan.

The matron and the minister sat inside the room.

“Sir, please tell me. What is the news that you have brought me? I have not been hearing any good news at all in recent times. Is the news about Arulmozhi true? We all had so many dreams about him.”

“My Lady, you have told me several times that the astrologers have predicted that the Prince would rule a large part of the world. I had neither objected nor accepted those predictions.”

“Is the news true then, sir?”

“It is not confirmed yet. But the situation is grave, given that this news has spread through the kingdom.”

“Hmm. Yes. I have never seen the people of Pazhayarai gather and storm the palace gates like this, ever before.”

“It is not just in Pazhayarai. It was the same until yesterday in Thanjavur as well. The Velakkara Padai has refused to leave the Emperor’s palace. The crowds stormed and surrounded the Pazhuvettarayar’s palace. We had to march the elephants to disperse the crowds.”

“Ayyo,” said the Matron, clearly shocked and dejected.

“It is good that Madhuranthakan came to Pazhayarai yesterday. Else, some of the blame would have fallen on him as well.”

Ayya, you should see the change that has come over my son. He has been brainwashed completely.”

“I know what you are talking about, my Lady.”

“If you knew, why did you not take action and advise him suitably, ayya? At least, can you talk some sense into him now?”

“Amma, on the contrary, I am here to talk in favour of him.”

“I do not understand.”

“Madhuranthakan wants to rule the Chozha kingdom after the Emperor. And it is a fair desire. I think, instead of going against the desire, it is better to accommodate it.”

Ayya, it looks like you are also going against the Emperor these days.”

“My Lady, I would not even dream of going against the Emperor’s words. I come bearing a request from the Emperor himself that Madhuranthakan be crowned as Prince. He wants to step away. He asked me to get your consent.”

“Never. I will never consent. This goes against my late husband’s will. You and I know several secrets about the Emperor and his ascent to the throne. How can you, after knowing all that, still come to me with this request?”

“My Lady, I have not forgotten any of that. Unfortunately, I know more information that even you do not know.”

“Sir, please do not show your political prowess to me.”

“I would never do that, my Lady. I have not come to debate with you. I have come to request you to help save the Chozha kingdom.”

“You can please go and request Lord Shiva or your own Lord Vishnu.”

“My Lady, if you do not agree, I will have to do just that to save this kingdom from the gravest of dangers.”

“How can Madhuranthakan taking the throne save the kingdom?”

“You saw what happened here in Pazhayarai. Similar scenes will occur all over the kingdom. I am already hearing that General Boodhi Vikrama Kesari is raising an army and coming to the mainland. When Aditya Karikalan hears about this, I am sure he will come with his army too. Pazhuvettarayars and his loyal vassal kings will raise their army too. It will be like the Mahabharatham — a war between cousins. All your relatives in the royal family would die. Would you want this, my Lady?

“If you recall the words of the great saint Sankara, he said, one’s mother is Goddess Parvathi Devi, one’s father is Lord Shiva, and one’s family comprises all who worship Shiva. I am in that state now.”

The minister replied, “My Lady, you should also say the fourth line – your kingdom should be the three worlds that exist. Should you not protect your kingdom?”

“You are mistaking Chozhanaadu to be our kingdom. I consider Bharatha Nadu as my kingdom. If there is no space for me in Chozhanaadu, I will go to Kasi, or to Kashmiram, and then Kailasam. I have been wanting to go on that pilgrimage for a while.”

“My Lady, I agree Bharatha Nadu is our kingdom, but you should know that the entire Bharatha Nadu is also under attack. There is a new wave of intruders from the North. They are of the Muslim faith. These people believe in demolishing temples and desecrating idols. None of the Kings of the north are able to stop these intruders. I was dreaming big, of our brave Chozhanaadu kings and soldiers marching across the Gangetic plains and further up till the Himalayas and stopping these destructive brutes. For this dream to be fulfilled, you need to help us by giving your consent.”

“Sir, you have confused me by giving me information that I do not understand. If Bharatha Nadu is under so much stress, should we not let the dear Lord Shiva handle it? That is what my late husband used to say, before he left to join the Lord.”

“In which case, I would need to tell you one more final truth…”

At that time, Madhuranthakan stomped in. “What is this I am hearing, that Prince Arulmozhi has perished in the sea?”

The Minister stood up and said, “My Lady, please console your dear son. I will tell you one last piece of information later.”

Madhuranthakan muttered, “This person is one of my many enemies. He has chosen to come and poison your mind, even whilst I am right here.”

Chief Minister Aniruddha Brahmaraayar heard these words too.