Book 2 | Chapter 31 | Dushtakamanu

There were about a thousand soldiers in the gathering. The commander was having a difficult time getting them in order. He was trying to get them to sit in a semi-circle. The army cooks were cooking up a feast, and the veritable smell of kootan-soru was making the soldiers drool. The Prince came and sat on a tree stump in the centre. He was not wearing a beautiful gold crown, pearl necklaces, or dressed in fine silk. Vandhiyathevan and Nambi were sitting close to him. They were getting ready for an enactment of the tale of Elela Singhan.

Around a thousand years before this time, a large Tamizh force had captured several parts of Lanka. The leader of the force at that time was a warrior named Elela Singhan. The Lankan king had been driven off to the forests in the mountains. The Lankan king’s son, Dushtakamanu, plotted from a very young age to recapture Lanka from Elela Singhan. The young prince gathered up a force and waged war against Elela Singhan. The small army was destroyed by the large Tamizh army. Dushtakamanu had then approached Elela Singhan and challenged him to a singular wrestling match. It would be a fight to the death, and the victor would get Lanka.

Elela Singhan, impressed by the bravery of this young prince, accepted the challenge. Intending to return Lanka to the young prince, Elela Singhan fought with a lesser intensity. He died and Dushtakamanu won back Lanka. They had raised a Pallippadai temple in honour of Elela Singhan.

The Chozha warriors enacted the story of Elela Singhan beautifully in front of the Prince. The actors performed brilliantly and the audience was held spellbound.

The Prince turned towards Nambi and asked, “Have you been to the beautiful cave temple of Thambalai? There is a painting in the cave, which describes this incident of Dushtakamanu so beautifully.”

“No, Sire. We did not have time to go to the cave temple. We saw you when we reached Thambalai. The temple will not go anywhere, but meeting you was of utmost importance. I guess we reached in the nick of time. On our way, we saw Parthibendran. It looked like he had been searching for you and had still not found you.”

“Yes, my Commander also told me that Parthibendran had come looking for me. I wonder why he was looking for me.”

“Of course, I know. Your brother Aditya Karikalan has sent him to bring you back to Kanchi.”

“Oho. And I am assuming you also know about the message that Vandhiyathevan has brought for me.”

“Yes, I do. He brought a message from your sister, Princess Kundavai, to bring you back to Pazhayarai. I was spying from the empty palace next door to her palace when all this happened.”

The Prince seemed a bit annoyed to hear this. “Chi, so you have started playing your dirty tricks on my sister too?”

“Oh, Prince, only because I knew this young man’s intention, he has reached. The troubles that I faced to make sure he reached here safely, is known only to Lord Buddha. If he had come through the usual route via Anuradhapuram, he would not be here with you today. “

“Oho. So, you came to Lanka, and all the way here, only with the single purpose of bringing this young man safely to me?”

“No, Sire. I bring a message too, from the Chief Minister Aniruddha Brahmaraayar. He feels that you should stay here in Lanka for a little more time, and feels that would be the best course of action for you.”

“Hmm. If three elders give me three contradicting directions, what am I to do?”

Vandhiyathevan responded, “Prince, you should do what your sister asked you to do. I tell you this, because, within you, your heart feels that you should always listen to what your sister says. Also, I have promised your sister that I would bring you back to Pazhayarai. So, I think that would be the best course of action.”

The Prince looked at Vandhiyathevan up and down and smiled.“I have been waiting so long for a brave companion and friend like you.”