Undaunted in his efforts, Vikraman went up the tree again, brought down the hanging body to the ground, and carried it on his shoulders to the funeral grounds. The Vedalam (ghost) inside the body addressed Vikraman, saying, "Dear king, with a dharmic mind, you suffer hardships, wander in the dense forest, hills, and the funeral grounds in the midnight hour when even the ghosts are afraid to venture out. Though the sastras declare that Dharma alone wins, in the majority of cases, duplicity alone wins, in my opinion. To prove it, let me tell you a story."
In Kadambavanam, two young herders, Kannan and Rangan, cared for the cows and lived. One evening, one of the cows went missing. Rangan told Kannan to take his cows home while he went looking for the lost cow. Rangan entered the forest, and suddenly a tiger charged towards him, prompting Rangan to climb up a tree.
Soon darkness enveloped the forest. Thinking it was useless to look for the lost cow, he noticed a cobra emerge from the base of a nearby bush, sporting a scintillating and bright eye-catching diamond on its head.
The cobra slithered out of the bush, went to Kannan’s tree, unloaded the diamond at the base of the tree, moved out, and rested a few trees away. Suddenly, the cobra morphed into a man. The man, appearing like a Nagadeva (snake-deity), sat down under a tree, shut his eyes, and went into meditation. Seeing this sight, Rangan thought danger lurked there, descended from the tree with utmost silence, and ran away towards his village.
The next day, Rangan told this episode to Kannan, and Kannan's eyes opened wide. Kannan told Rangan, "What an idiot you are! If we possess the Naganatinam (Snake-diamond), we can save those with snakebites. If we make it a profession, we can rake in a lot of money and become very rich. Nothing bad has happened. Tonight, we both go to where you were in the forest. If what happened yesterday occurs again, we could steal the diamond and run out of there fast."
Rangan refused to go with Kannan. So, Kannan went alone to the forest. As expected, the cobra came out of the bush. Nagadeva was in deep meditation. Kannan came down the tree silently, picked up the diamond, and returned to Kadambavanam.
The next day, Kannan left his village, walked a long distance, and reached another village. The Zamindar’s daughter, bitten by a snake, was saved by Kannan with the help of the Snake-diamond. The zamindar, in appreciation of his service, arranged for a house in the village, where Kannan stayed.
In that area, abounding in forests and cultivation fields, there were many snakebites, and people came to Kannan seeking his lifesaving services. The fees paid to him made him extremely rich.
The next day, Nagadevan, cheated by Kannan, woke up from his Tapas and not finding his diamond, was agitated. Sudendiran, the snake deity, was in love with a woman whom he wanted to marry and built a castle in the air, only to see it fall down. How he met his love was an interesting episode.
Indu, the daughter of a farmer, had beautiful looks. Spreading the unhusked rice in front of her hut’s entrance, she was chasing the birds away from eating the paddy. At that time, a youth was passing by. Mesmerized by her beauty, he begged her to marry him, but she refused.
Angered by her refusal, he quarreled with her, and she yelled to attract attention from the passers-by. There was no one to come to help. The snake-deity Sudendiran, watching this, took pity on the helpless Indu, took the snake’s form, spread the hood, came to him hissing. The youth took off running out of there. Indu looked at the snake with gratitude, and suddenly, the snake changed into a man.
Sudendiran stood before her as an attractive young man and said, "Dear lady! My name is Sudendiran. I come from Nagalokam (The world of snakes), and therefore, I am a Nagadeva (snake deity). I own a diamond, and because of its power, I assumed a man’s form and stood before you as such. I cannot remain a human permanently. I would try to assume a permanent human form. Until then, would you wait for me?" Indu concurred with him.
Sudendiran, happy at the prospect of marrying the young woman, went to Muni Sukranandar’s hermitage and told him of his desire. Thinking about it for a while, the Muni (Root word Maunam = silence. Muni = Sadhu, saint) said, "Dear Sudendira! God gave every living being a form for a good reason. You belong to the World of Snakes. Therefore, it is mandatory for you to remain in snake form. Therefore, give up your desire."
Sudendiran told Muni about his love for Indu. The Muni told him, "I will find out how deep your love is for her. I will try to make your desire come true. By the power of my Tapas (austerity), you will remain a man throughout the night and must perform Tapas, meditating on the Paramporul (the Supreme Entity). Conduct yourself in a benevolent fashion to benefit all life forms. Over a period of days, you will become a man."
As he was doing the Tapas in the nights, one night, the diamond was stolen. Because of it, he lost his power and became a snake again. Sudendiran was bent on reaping vengeance on the thief of the diamond.
Kannan, prospering in another village, came to Kadambavanam to see his old friends like Rangan. He narrated all that happened in his life and made an offer, "I am rich and prosperous. I did not forget your help. I want to give you half of my riches. Please come with me."
Rangan replied to Kannan, "Thank you, Kannan! I like to work and earn my living. Thanks." Kannan returned to his village. On his way, Sudendiran saw Kannan. The Diamond sakthi (power) drew Sudendiran (now in the form of the snake) who was angry at Kannan for stealing his diamond from him, and he bit Kannan. What a surprise! Sudendiran morphed into a man. At the same time, though bitten by the snake, the poison did not affect Kannan.
Vedalam stopped telling the story and posed a question to King Vikraman, "King Vikraman! How was it that the poison did not afflict selfish Kannan? Even more surprising is Sudendiran morphed from a snake to a man once he bit Kannan. Rangan thought his way of life and work with duty, honor, and integrity was proper. But he never prospered. Would this be the fate of those on the righteous path? If you know the answers but remain silent, your head will explode into one hundred pieces."
Vikraman answered, "Man’s deeds yield appropriate fruits. The motivation of the deed, the circumstances, the doer’s sins and merits determine the outcome. Rangan chose hard work and lived a happy life. Though Kannan stole the diamond, he performed meritorious deeds of saving the lives of snakebite victims with the power of the diamond.
"Kannan was good-hearted because he went in search of his friend Rangan and offered to share his riches. Because of it, snake Sudendiran’s bite did not cause Kannan’s death. Sudendiran went against the Tapasvin Sukranandar’s advice and did not offer help to any living things. That being so, through his diamond, many lives were saved. For that reason, he attained a human form permanently."
Vikraman's correct reply and the ending of his silence prompted Vedalam to fly off his back and take refuge in the moringa tree. Vikraman continued on his mission to apprehend the ghost and bring him back to the tantric.
In the end, Vikraman successfully accomplished his task, and the tantric was pleased with his bravery, wisdom, and compassion. The ghost was bound by the tantric's spells, and peace was restored to the kingdom.
As for Kannan and Sudendiran, they both found happiness in their own ways. Kannan, repenting for his past actions, used his wealth to help others and engage in acts of kindness. He became a respected and revered figure in his village, known for his generosity and benevolence.
Sudendiran, on the other hand, embraced his role as a snake deity once again. But he learned from his past mistakes and decided to use his powers to protect and aid those in need. He became known as a guardian spirit, helping people who found themselves in dangerous situations and saving them from harm.
Rangan, true to his values, continued to work hard and live a simple life. While he didn't accumulate great wealth, he found contentment in the friendships he made and the joy he found in his daily work.