- The twin rulers of Ponnivala have taken revenge on their clan
cousins. These people forced their parents, then the rulers of this
prosperous area, into exile some sixteen years ago. Now those
predecessors are dead and their twin sons rule Ponnivala together.
The younger of the two brothers has just spearheaded an act of
revenge. As a result, the families of the original aggressors now
find themselves in similar circumstances. The have been forced to
leave their home village by these two young kings. They have no
more with them than one ox cart and what they can carry on their
backs (and heads). These desolate families are now making their way
into Chola territory. They are walking East, following the lovely
Kaveri river whose water flows in the same direction. Their hope is
to meet the Chola king of Uriyur and to complain to him about their
- A few men who represent the larger refugee party, manage to
gain an audience with the great Chola himself. After registering
their complaint about the ill-treatment they cleverly ask the king
if these men, the two Ponnivala rulers, have ever paid their taxes
since their parents died.
- The king calls his accountant over and asks him to check the
record books. The king soon lerns that he has received none of the
traditional tribute payments he expects. He is angry.
- So the Chola sends off two envoys. Their job is to demand
that the two Ponnivala rulers pay up, and fast! The men approach a
shepherd as they enter Ponnivala territory. The bulls grazing there
become nervous and start to paw the ground. They sense trouble from
these approaching strangers.
- The two bulls confront the new arrivals and threaten them.
The shepherd tried to hold them pack with soothing words as he
listens to the visitors’ explanation of the reason for their
journey. While speaking they impolitely mention the names of the
two kings, without giving them all the added honorific titles the
shepherd knows that his masters expect.
- The bulls grasp that the two rulers have just been insulted
and the force the visitors to fall backwards onto the ground. The
two envoys are intimidated and do not wich to continue their
journey. Instead they leave the message with the shepherd about
what their own master, the Chola king, is demanding.
- The envoys declare that the Chola wants three things: A ploughing yoke (likely symbolizing human labour), a pot of curds likely symbolizing the bounty of Ponnivala’s fine cattle, and a golden measuring vessel (likely symbolizing the bounty of the region’s general harvest). All three are ways to indicate that these local Ponnivala rulers agree to express their subservience to the much grander and more powerful Chola monarch whose palace lies not too far to the East of their own find lands.
- The Chola’s message makes its way to the Ponnivala palace
via his envoys and then via the shepherd and finally with the help
of a local maid. It reaches the twin men’s sister, Tangal, as she
sits in her lovely palace swing. She asks the maid several
questions, trying to understand the situation clearly. She is
worried and immediately calls her two brothers.
- The Ponnivala rulers are seated in the palace gaming room as
usual. The maid enters and tells them both that their sister has
summoned them. Anxious, Shankar jumps up immediately. His brother
takes his time.
- Shankar reaches his sister’s resting place first. He asks
why he and his brother have been called. When he learns that the
Chola king is demanding tribute he refuses his sister’s request to
take care of this matter immediately. Shankar feels it would be an
insult to kneel before the kings a present him with such humbling
gifts. He stands firm in his proud refusal.
- Tangal is upset. When her other brother, the mild tempered
one arrives, she explains the situation to him. They must do
something to placate this Chola monarch, their father’s main
ally. They owe him tribute! Ponnar agrees to deliver the tribute
right away, and in person.
- Ponnar calls Shambuga and asks him to bring his horse. He
mounts this fine steed and then Shambuga hands him the ploughing
yoke. He promises he will run behind and carry both the pot of
curds and the measuring vessel.
- The senior twin, Ponnar, and his loyal assistant Shambuga are
soon on their way.
- When the two men reach the front gate of the Chola’s palace
they are met by a guard. “What business do you have with the
king?” they ask. Ponnar explains that he has brought the required
tribute and wants to present it to the king in person. The guard
lets him pass while Shambuga waits for him outside.
- Ponnar pays his respects to the king and addresses him in a
suitably humble manner. He then lays the tribute before him. The
great Chola accepts the payment but then thinks twice. He knows
that the man before him is the gentler, elder Ponnivala twin. He
wants the younger brother, Shankar, to lower himself before him.
Shankar is the real problem, the subordinate local ruler who is too
proud. To achieve his goal the Chola thinks of a scheme. He will
put the older brother in jail. That will ensure that the younger
one comes to pay him a visit!
- The king’s guards drag Ponnar off to an empty jail cell and
lock him up there.
- Ponnar is left alone. He prays to Lord Vishnu and thinks of
his sister. He worries about her welfare.
- Meanwhile the lovely Tangal is having
one of her prescient dreams. She has a vision that tells her fine
elder brother Ponnar is sitting in the Chola’s jail. What will be
do? She decides to call upon her proud younger brother Shankar.
Surely he will want to rescue his own brother from such a terrible
<==Back to Part 5]