Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Ponnar and Shankar Part VII: Mean Tricks

  • Ponnar, the gentle and polite man who is one of Ponnivala’s two rulers, is sitting in a Chola jail. He is being held hostage there in hopes that his young and more violent twin brother will come and rescue hi. The Chola king wants to humble that rebellious younger sibling and make him bow before him and address him as THE great monarch of all of southern India!

  • Meanwhile Ponnar is dreaming of his delicate sister Tangal. What will become ofher? He needs to return to the palace to make sure she is taken care of properly. He is worried for her welfare more than he is about his own!

  • Meanwhile Tangal is sitting in her lovely swing as usual. She has told Shankar about her dream-vision. Ponnar is in jail. He must go and rescue his brother immediately!

  • Shankar is angry he jumps on his horse immediately. The tiny palace dog is there to say goodbye. She wishes she could go along and help her master on this dangerous mission. But Shankar decides to face the might of the great Chola monarch, on his own.

  • The Chola is out on a veranda with his son. He is teaching him archery when hears the loud thundering noise of Shankar’s horse approaching. He knows how angry and impetuous this man can be. He wanted him to come, but now the great Chola fears trouble. So he thinks up a plan.

  • The monarch or Uraiyur orders Ponnar released from his cell. He is to be brought to his main Council Chamber and offered honors. Shankar must see that he has been treating his brother well.

  • Shankar arrives and is brought before the Chola king. He sees his brother seated in a golden chair. He has an honorary crown on his head and there are many fine offerings laid out before him. Ponnar is being treated like a god! But Shankar is suspicious. His sister’s dreams always tell the truth. He thinks the Chola is putting on a show and is not genuine in his wish to show so much respect being shown to his brother.

  • So Shankar questions the king. He had heard that Ponnar was in jail. What is he doing here in the great Council Hall surrounded by gifts?

  • The king continues with his plan. He praises Ponnar and says he is happy to receive his brother into his court. The great monarch invites both men to a feast. They were hoping to leave for home, but a king’s invitation to dinner is impossible to refuse!

  • Ponnar and Shankar are seated together for the feast. Many fine foods are laid before them. All the ritual niceties are observed. But the king has a secret! He has order the food served the two brothers to be laced with poison!

  • Fortunately Lord Vishnu is watching over the two men, as is his habit. He knows about the king’s poison and so he instantly creates a cat. The cat runs into the dining area and quickly grabs some food from Shankar’s ceremonial eating leaf. Shankar is horrified and tries to shoo the cat away.

  • Only a minute later the cat expires! Suddenly the two brothers realize what has happened. The cat is telling them that their food has been poisons! They jump up, leaving all the uneaten food behind. Now they are truly ready to leave!

  • But just as they start to exit the Chola king tries again. He now invites them to worship at his special family shrine before they depart. Again the two brothers find they can not refuse the hospitality offered by their senior. Reluctantly they agree to follow the king to this special shrine. It is located on a cliff some distance away.

  • The grand expedition to the king’s special shrine soon begins. It has been organized in the great palace courtyard. The king has chosen to ride his favorite elephant. The servants carry a ladder which will be needed to climb the cliff. The two guests from Ponnivala are to be carried in a palanquin just behind the elephant. Again they are treated as special and honored visitors.

  • The expedition reaches the cliff and the ladder is set in place. The king invites his two guests to climb up the ladder first, pretending this is intended to show them some extra special respect. He will follow after they have reached the top.

  • The Ponnivala brothers reach the top of the ladder and have a quick look at the statue there.

  • But when the two brothers’ backs are turned the king orders the ladder pulled away!   

  • The king and his entire retinue leave the place as fast as they can. Now the twin brothers find themselves stranded.  

  • Shankar is quick to accuse Ponnar of having made the mistake. “Why did you trust that wicked king?” he asks. Ponnar replies that they were equally obliged to accept the king’s invitation. But Shankar doesn’t listen.

  • “What shall we ever do now? Complains Shankar. We are stranded here. There is no way down without a ladder. It is true. The two brothers have been left in a fine predicament by the scheming Chola monarch!

[<==Back to Part 6]

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