- Ponnar and Shankar are now married. This has given them a new social status and they are beginning to take over some of the leadership activities demanded of them by the people of Ponnivala. Shankar, the more assertive of the two usually takes the lead in giving advice and in making judgements when there is a local dispute. The people listen to him and admire this handsome young man. His brother is loyal and is generally supportive of his younger brother’s decisions.
- The Ponnivala twins know that their parents are now quite
elderly. One day they call the two young men into their Council
Room for a chat. They intend to convey certain principles to their
sons. This is their parents’ way of stating their final wishes, a
spoken version of what we know as a “last will and testament.”
Tamarai speaks first. She wants the two boys to take care of their
sister Tangal. They are to always listen to her wishes, respect her
visions of future events, and properly marry her to a fine groom
when the time is right.
- The boys’ father, Kunnutaiya, speaks next. He is concerned
that his sons never take revenge for difficulties he and Tamarai
have experienced in the past. He speaks about the two being gentle,
kind and generous rulers. He is concerned that they put the welfare
of their little kingdom of Ponnivala above all else.
- The two boys take this set of parental instructions with respect. When the couple are done speaking they bow and touch their feet respectfully.
- Then they kneel and show their heartfelt respect. The sons’
gestures mean that they intend to follow out these important
guidelines and behave like the rulers their parents wish them to be.
- Very soon after this the lives of Kunnutaiya and Tamarai come
to an end. Their spirits leave them gently and are carried upwards
by Yeman, the god who deals with death. A proper funeral is
conducted. It is now time for the two sons to take over the kingdom
and rule it on their own.
- Unfortunately the peaceful state of affairs the kingdom
experienced while the Ponnivala twins’ parents were alive does not
last long. Shankar and Ponnar soon begin to argue. Shankar wants
to take revenge on the family clansmen who made life miserable for
their parents years back. Ponnar feels this would be contrary to
their parents’ last instructions but he has trouble arguing
against his more forceful and aggressive brother Shankar.
- One way the two brothers find to contest and vie with one
another is through playing dice. This game of chance is ritually
significant as the outcome of individual games plays a role in
predicting the future.
- Lord Vishnu sees that Shankar is often overcome by his
aggressive feelings. So he puts an invisible shackle on one leg to
prevent him from unexpectedly attacking his brother when a
particular dice roll is not in his favor. He always wants to win!
- The maids hear a lot of arguing. Sometimes there are sounds
of commotion in the gaming room. They are worried.
- Finally one day Shankar announces to his sister that he and
his brother will be leaving on a short adventure trip. He does not
explain to her where they are going and why. But his plan is clear
to his brother, who has given up trying to resist. They will be
going to seek revenge on their male cousins, the sons of the men who
once sent their own parents into exile.
- The two brothers dress in their battle finery and mount their
blue-black horses. They each carry a fine sword. Shambuga, their
loyal assistant, follows the two fast-running horses on foot. The
two warriors make quite a sight as they run at full speed through
several local villages. And just behind them comes Shambuga, the
man who can always keep up!
- The two Ponnivala warriors find their clansmen village easily
and enter the local school there unannounced. Seated in the
one-room shelter are their own kinsmen’s children.
- Lord Vishnu follows the two heroes closely, in case they get
into trouble. He now descends on his own bird-man vehicle from the
- Once he finds the school Vishnu takes on one of his favorite
disguises. He makes himself nearly invisible by becoming a fly!
- The two warriors, now in the school, at first behave
respectfully. They greet the teacher there with folded hands. But
their intentions are not nearly so gentle or kind!
- Soon Shankar starts telling the young students how their own
parents mistreated his parents long ago. His aggressive manner
frightens these small boys.
- Shankar tries to embarrass the students, making them do
“toppu” knee bends before him while holding their earlobes.
They know that this traditional gesture clownish submission is
something only a bully would demand.
- Soon the parents of the students notice the commotion and
come running. Their fathers come running to their defense. But
these men have been caught unawares and they are no match for the
three intruders, especially when these aggressive visitors have Lord
Vishnu’s magical protection on their side. The fathers soon
submit. The Ponnivala twins order them to leave the village and
take all their possessions with them. This is revenge for the time
when they entered the Ponnivala palace some sixteen years earlier
and sent the heroes’ own parents into exile. These men wanted to
take over Poninvala’s land and saw their chance when they learned
(mistakenly) that there were no males there to inherit it. They
wanted to take over Ponnivala’s fine lands. Well, now they
themselves would become refugees!
- The unfortunate families of Ponnar and Shankar’s own
cousins are forced to leave. They abandon their fine village and
all its land. Taking only what possessions they can carry with
them, these people set out to find the Chola king. They plan to
complain to him about the terrible treatment they have received at
the hands of their very own cousins.