Sakthi Vikatan- 25 Apr, 2017




Periyathamburān [Five kings]

Author: A.K. Perumal.  Images: Ramanan

Stories by oral-aural tradition are ubiquitous in our land. Many men and women lived and died, celebrated as gods. Their stories also come under oral-aural tradition. Temple at the edge or the center of the village rises. A deity in it.  There are numerous temples and very many deities presiding and offering grace.  We will talk about them at great length regarding who they were, their history and their apotheosis.

The evening breeze was grazing the body pleasantly in the balcony (of the palace). It was a special irrepressible joy to experience street scene from the balcony: the fruit and vegetable vender hawking his fresh produce; the city girls with scintillating jewels on the ears and neck carrying the baskets (shopping bags) in the evening sun; the pedestrians of all ages; the jumping and jaywalking youngsters… The setting sun casts its enviable beauty.  The temple priests caught the eyes of Ilavarasi the princess.
Is this some painting? Is this not a beauty? It is the beauty of all beauties. The princess ordered the guards to bring the Pand
ārangals to the palace.  He is a painting in motion: curly hair, grace of posture with his hand on the hip…He cast an ecstasy in the princess. The king came, knowing the fascination of the princess. Is she not the apple of his eyes? The king knew her desire from her facial expression. Enquiry began. The youth was the ruling king Kulasekara Pandiyan of South Tamil Nadu.

Royal message from Kannada Country to Kulasekhara’s Valliyur fort flew, “Do you consent to take my daughter in marriage to your son?” It was a one-line message. Kulasekhara Pandiyan was not willing.  Though he was a king in Kannada country, he was an alien, an opponent, ready anytime to surround Pandiya country.

Pandiyan expressed his opposition in words and sent back the message. Ordinary people suffer grief at rejection. Message was from the king. The Kannada king was boiling mad with anger, thinking, “Is my daughter not worthy of marriage to the Pandiyan king?”  He invaded Pandiya kingdom and laid seize on the fort of Kulasekharan.

Kulasekharan is the heroic eldest son. He knew no fear He had four brothers as the living cuirasses. His shadows were his two heroic brothers, Mannan and Mathippaṉ. What they said was the final word. Kannada king’s seize did not progress further. He waited in patience. He cogitated about many plans. He discovered one way to break the standoff. Killing the personal bodyguards Mannan and Mathippaṉ was way out of the logjam. A brave soldier came forward to carry out this plot.

Deceit will succeed where bravery fails. Those were the days when people put their heartfelt trust in the Sannyasis and saints. He made use of it. The brave soldier disguised as a begging monk. He entered the fortress easily. The Kannada soldier beheaded the Pandiya king and took the head with him. The kings brother Mathippaṉ was boiling with anger and went in search of the beggar-monk. Finding him, Mathippaṉ beheaded him. The problem was not laid to rest.
One day a herdswoman sold yogurt outside the fort wall. One of the Kannada soldiers verbally abused the girl and the pot she had with her.
She objected to his abusive words about her pot. She continued to say she once lost the pot in the moat around the fort and she entered the fort and recovered the pot from the lake inside the fort.

The soldier was surprised to hear her story.

He conjectured there must be a secret passage between the exterior mote and the interior lake. This news reached the ears of the Kannada king.  Helped by the innocent girl, the soldiers discovered the passage and blocked it. The flow of water ceased and the occupants inside the fort were helpless.

King Pandiyan could not take dearth of water any more. He sent a message secretly to his relative the king of Vēṇādu. There was no help forthcoming. His brothers insisted that he escape from out of the fort. He escaped through an underground passage and landed in the forest nearby.  It was a long seize. Since there was no king to direct them, they lost interest. The four brothers died fighting the Kannada forces.


Receiving the news of the death of his brothers he entered the fort leaving the forest. He fought with the Kannada king and lost the battle. The Kannada king took him, put him on a palanquin and took him with him. Pandiyan did not know where he was going.

Night came. The palanquin was put down on the ground. The Pandiya king heard the enemy soldiers talking.

“Do you know where we are taking this captured king?”


“We are taking him to the Kannada princess there will be a wedding between the Pandiya king and princess”

“Hey, talk softly. Pandiya king may be listening.”
Though they spoke in soft tone, Pandiya king heard them.  This war took place because of the spurned princess. My brothers died on this account.  Pandiya king was grief-stricken. He took his short sword from his side and plunged it into his heart and died. No one knew of his death.

The palanquin moved, reached the palace ground of the Kannada king and was parked on the grounds. The princess was waiting for him. Her modesty forbade her and yet her desire drove her to see him. She opened the screen of the palanquin and saw the blood-soaked body of the Pandiya king. She fell, rolled and cried. No one could console her.  
The minions committed his dead body to the funeral pyre. The princess thinking no one other than Pandiya king was her husband, she jumped into the funeral pyre and died. Their souls went to Kailas, received boons and blessings from Siva and became deities.

In the south, till today, there is worship of the Pandiya king and the princess. He is worshipped as Vanniraja in Thuthuvalai Ayyanar temple in the village of Kandappaththu in the District of Thuthtukkudi.  In the same district, Pandiyan is worshipped as Karuvelraja in the villages of Kuthiraimozhi and Elluvilai and the Kannada princess as Vadampu Amman.

In the village of Jayanthimangalam in the district of Palayangkottai, Kulasekharan and his four brothers are worshippeḍ.  Kanniyakumari district villages, Poththaiyadi, Kalainagar, Melangkodu, Kattimangkodu… worship is offered to them.  These village temple festivals hold singing of Pandean’s history with a bow-shaped musical instrument.  This story verses of 5871 lines are sung in its entirety in some temples.

Nagarkoil, Kalainagar Kulasekharathamburan temple, in June and July, a festival takes place on Fridays and Saturdays. On Friday-Saturday night the Puja takes place at 1 a.m.   The first puja is for the five kings, accompanied outside the temple with 100 betel leaves, fruits, incense, and lighted camphor.

Later, Kulasekhara puja takes place.  In the sanctum there stands granite statue of Kulasekharan with weapon on the hand. The king’s facial resemblance is striking. The singing of story poems begins on Friday night and ends at 2 p.m.  on Friday.  The participants play act with raised swords. In Kattimangadu temple, the participants in the name of Pandiyan hold the banana clusters, dance and cut them with knives or swords. This dance is meant to kill the Kannada soldiers.

Worshipping Vadukkacchi Amman helps obviate problems with pregnancy. It assures a good husband. The lout (= வீணாதி வீணன் =thoroughly useless fellow) at the time of Pandiyan also is worshipped. His story also is interesting.  

The story will move.