Title: Good Enemy

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, having friendship with our helpers and returning the favor to the helpers are natural. Our Sastras emphasize this relationship.

"In the story I am about to tell you, a recipient of great benefits expressed the idea of showing enmity to the benefactor, which was approved by the learned and realized Guru. Hear this story," Vedalam told the story.

In Vijayapuri, Saranyan, the rich man replete with auspicious qualities, was a humanitarian and a philanthropist. For many years, he did not have any children. But later, he had a son named Nambi, who grew up in luxury.

Nambi was intellectually impaired unlike other children. His intellect was not sufficient to understand simple things. His father Saranyan believed a good school education in the top school would remedy the condition. But he remained dull in intellect. Though he had no confidence in Jodhism (astrology), Saranyan took him to a famous astrologist.

The astrologist said, "The planets are not aligned well for your son. If you relocate, he may return to a usual intellectual level. Take him to Guru Jñānēdirar in Vidyavanam. Studying in his Gurukulam (academy), he will become normal in his intellectual development."

Saranyan took his son Nambi to the academy. Jñānēdirar asked the youngster a few questions. The Guru said, "His understanding is according to his potential. I will try my best to make him think like others. You come back to me often to find out his progress."

Though Nambi continued to have an education in the academy, he made no progress. Sukumaran, a peasant’s son, joined as a student in the Gurukulam. Being a highly intelligent student, Sukumaran earned the name of the best student in the academy.

Nambi tried to become friends with Sukumaran, but the latter did not accept Nambi as his friend. One year after Sukumaran joined the academy, he received news from home that the family was deep in debt. Sukumaran decided to end his studies mid-semester. Just about that time, Saranyan was visiting his son Nambi, who told his father about Sukumaran’s financial difficulties and his possible leaving from the school. Saranyan met with Sukumaran and said to him, "Dear child! For an intelligent child like you, education should never be interrupted. I will take the responsibility of paying for your education. You continue your studies in the academy."

Sukumaran appreciated Nambi’s good nature and his father’s lofty ideals. Immediately Sukumaran went to Nambi and extended his hand of friendship. He said, "Nambi! You are also an intelligent person. In addition, you are a good person. Therefore, I like to have you as my friend. Hereafter, I will try to understand how you grasp the teaching in the Gurukulam."

Hearing for the first time from Sukumaran that he was intelligent and becoming happy, Nambi presented to Sukumaran what his understanding was of the subjects taught in the academy. For a year, Nambi listened to the teacher and explained it to Sukumaran. Within one year, Nambi began thinking and analyzing like other children. Jñānēdirar realized the change in Nambi was due to Sukumaran, asked him, "How were you able to change Nambi?"

Sukumaran said, "Dear Guru, It takes no skill to make fun of someone with intellectual impairment. It takes intelligence, skill, imagination, and effort to change Nambi for the better, making him equal to me."

Jñānēdirar praised Sukumaran and said, "You are the most upright child. You changed Sukumaran, taking a special interest. If your father learns of this, he will help you more." Sukumaran said, "No, please do not tell my father. He has done enough, and let this be an equitable return."

Saranyan, Nambi’s father, besides paying for Sukumaran’s education, visited the village of the father of Sukumaran, paid off all his debts, and saved him from financial disaster. Saranyan came to know of his problems. The near relatives swindled him and thus deprived him of his wealth.

Saranyan kept Sukumaran informed of these matters. Sukumaran was upset with his relatives because of the cheating of his father by the relatives. He even thought of discontinuing his studies when Saranyan, Nambi’s father, came to rescue him. When the five-year study was complete for Sukumaran, Nambi, and others, Sukumaran came to the Guru to wish him good-bye. The Guru said to him, "Sukumaran! You are a virtuous person. You will be a good person forever as you are now."

Sukumaran answered, "Guru! Thinking of my relatives wanting to push my father into financial ruin distresses me. Only after reaping vengeance, I will try to become a good man." Jñānēdirar said, "Son, there is no end to inflicting vengeance for wrongdoing. Listen to me. Forgive them! Then only, you can live your life in tranquility."

Saranyan showed up at that moment, became aware of what transpired, and said to Sukumaran, "I have so far thought of you as my son. Hereafter, I will help you to carry out your work, whatever it may be." Jñānēdirar interrupted and said, "Ayya! Do not ask Sukumaran what help he needs. You should ask your son Nambi, the pundit about it." Jñānēdirar called Nambi, narrated his conversation with Sukumaran, and asked him about his position in the matter.

Nambi answered, "If my father wants to help, he should become the enemy of Sukumaran. That is my suggestion." That answer made the other three alarmed. Nambi turned to Sukumaran and said, "Sukumaran! You forgot the help given by my father and consider him your enemy. Try to wreak vengeance on my father. Later, pay attention to your relatives and wreak vengeance."

Hearing what Nambi said, his father and Sukumaran were shocked, but the Guru smiled as if he understood it and concurred with his suggestion. Vedalam stopped the story at that moment and directed the question to Vikraman, "Vikraman! Nambi was known to be intellectually deficient. He babbled saying to treat the helpers as enemies. But why did the polymath Guru Jñānēdirar concur with Nambi’s suggestion? If you know the answer to the question and remain silent, your head will explode into 100 pieces."

Vikraman, the king carrying the dead body and the Vedalam on the shoulder, said, "Sukumaran, the son of the farmer, is an intellectual and a good soul. The thought that his relatives were hypocrites and depraved people with no redeeming qualities was the reason for Sukumaran’s anger. If Sukumaran has to forget to take vengeance, he should first explore the good qualities in his relatives. If he has to develop that kind of mental attitude, a charitable person like Saranyan should become his enemy."

"If Saranyan becomes his enemy, Sukumaran will not develop enmity towards him. Sukumaran will bring back all the good deeds of Saranyan to his memory and forgive him. Therefore, his thought of revenge will dissipate gradually. That is why Nambi advised Sukumaran to regard his father as his enemy. Nambi’s suggestion was not absurd by any means. It was a brilliant suggestion."

Comment by Krishnaraj:

Sukumaran wants to wreak vengeance on his relatives because they stole from his father, thus causing distress to his father, impediments to his welfare and education, and dependence on Saranyan to pay for his education. Sukumaran's enmity towards Saranyan, his benefactor, appears contrived and illogical. The 12th-century author, I presume, employs Displacement Theory (a psychological tool), which in this case is making Saranyan the enemy in place of Sukumaran's relatives. It is unlikely that Sukumaran's enmity towards Saranyan is real or severe and therefore will dissipate quickly. The enmity towards Sukumaran's relatives may have consequences, which will be absent concerning enmity towards Saranyan. In chemistry, biology, and medicine, we make use of competitive displacement, where, by a medication, we replace lead in the blood with calcium so that the poisonous lead is removed from the body and replaced with calcium.

Vikraman’s correct answer and breaking of silence made Vedalam fly away, taking residence on the moringa tree.

With the puzzle solved, Vikraman continued his journey with newfound wisdom. The story of Sukumaran and Nambi had taught him valuable lessons about forgiveness, understanding, and the power of compassion. He realized that sometimes, showing enmity to someone could be a way to change their perspective and ultimately foster reconciliation and harmony.

As the king, Vikraman vowed to promote the teachings of the wise Guru Jñānēdirar, spreading the message of empathy and forgiveness throughout his kingdom. From that day on, he governed with a compassionate heart, treating his subjects as friends rather than mere subjects.

In the end, the story of Sukumaran and Nambi became a timeless tale, remembered for generations, serving as a reminder of the transformative power of goodwill and the goodness that lies within every individual.

And so, Vikraman's journey continued, filled with newfound understanding and compassion, as he carried out his duties as a just and benevolent ruler, seeking to be a beacon of hope and kindness for all his people.