In this feature, we outline the chapters of The Legend of Ponnivala as we've laid them out in the animated and print series. The sub-story descriptions are those that occur in each episode, and are drawn from our Teacher's Handbook.The Queen of Ponnivala finds herself alone at the gates of heaven. There she undergoes a twenty one year rite of pennance. Lord Shiva tests her determination repeatedly. But finally she persuades him to call off his curse of barrenness. The great Lord then places three magical children in her womb. The Queen returns to Ponnivala, rejoining her husband on the way.
The Queen Sits Deep In Prayer For 21 YearsThe queen now sits on her pillar of penance for twenty one years. She is so motionless that a family of heavenly parrots build a nest in her nose. Eventually Lord Vishnu comes to check on her, and as he waves his arms the parrots leave the queen’s nose and fly off to earth. They go directly to the palace of the hill-dwelling hunter king. His sister greets them warmly and they settle in her forest.
The Queen Is Tested Seven TimesThe supreme god, Lord Shiva, now pushes the queen to the brink of death. He then revives the poor queen only to put her through the same cycle again and again. Finally she has experienced a complete cycle of seven “rebirths.”
Lord Vishnu IntervenesLord Vishnu sees all this and becomes worried about the woman he has helped so much. So he takes the form of a beggar and goes before his sister, the wife of Lord Shiva. After being screened by a maid he is allowed in at last. There he complains to Shiva’s wife about the queen’s treatment. She then promises him that she will intercede with Lord Shiva himself. But Shiva is angry about the “heat” generated by the penitent who is requesting the gift of sons. His body is now covered with sores. He does not cede to Vishnu’s request for mercy easily.
The Queen’s Prayers Are Answered!Finally Shiva allows his brother-in-law to bring the queen before him. He has his accountant check his records and then grants the penitent three children. The two boys will each reincarnate the spirit of an important hero in India’s famous classical epic: the Mahabharata. The girl will reincarnate one in a set of seven “virgin sisters” who live near Shiva’s counsel chambers. But there are two provisos:
- All three children will have lives lasting only 16 years.
- Vishnu must give up his sacred conch shell and leave it “in hock” with the great god Shiva.
He will only get this important possession back when he physically brings the lives of the three divine children back to Shiva’s chambers when their sixteen years of life are over. After these matters are finalized the couple start their long journey back to earth. Lord Vishnu revives the heroine’s “dormant” husband when she reaches the spot where he rests. The couple continue on to their palace together.