- The twin heroes of Ponnivala have just completed their fight
with the Vettuva hunters who live in the forested hills that
surround their fertile farmland. They believe they have won as they
have seen many Vettuvas lying dead all around them. They also
believe that they have followed Lord Vishnu’s command to “just
fight a few minutes longer.” All is now still. They are ready to
wash their swords and to bathe in the small stream that flows
- But suddenly they hear a rustling sound. They don’t see
Lord Vishnu perched on a tree branch above them. Thinking the sound
means nothing they enter the water and begin to wash.
- Each brother scrubs his sword thoroughly, making sure that
all the dried blood is washed off. They also scrub their bodies
clean of all the sweat and filth of battle.
- What they do not see is Lord Vishnu who has just prepared an
arrow made of jasmine flowers. He has also conjured up a bow made
of a sugarcane stalk. He now pulls back the bow string and aims his
- As the arrow flies it seeks out Shankar and takes as its
target, the little white string he wears on his chest. That is
Shankar’s protective thread and a marker of his warrior status.
Without it he is returned to his much more humble and vulnerable
previous status, as one of Ponnivala’s twin farmer-kings.
- Shankar reacts quickly. He understands the symbolism of what
has just happened. Now he turns to his brother and says: “An
arrow just took my protective thread away. This is a sign that it
is now time for us to give up our own lives. We shall do so
honorably, right here beside this flowing river.” Ponnar nods in
agreement. His brother knows best.
- The two men now march up on the bank and head for the ridge
above this small river valley.
- Once there Shankar quickly notices his thread has been left
on the branch of a bush by the arrow that stole it from him.
- Shankar shows the thread to Ponnar and says, “This is a
sign that Lord Vishnu sent us. Our lives are now complete. I am
ready to die.”
- With that said, Shankar walks quickly past his elder brother.
He does not give him any time to protest this fateful decision.
- Next Shankar throws his sword with a hard and skillful
thrust. The weapon flies up and come back to earth heel first,
landing solidly in the soft soil with its blade pointing upwards.
- Next Shankar takes a sudden and flying leap into the air. It is as if he has just jumped on to the sun chariot itself and is starting to fly towards that golden disc that travels high in the sky above.
- But then Shankar falls downward with a soft thud, such that
his sword pieces his chest and enters his own heart! The great
warrior-farmer is no more. His life has left him and his body will
soon lie limp.
- Seeing this sacrificial act, Shankar is both shocked and
amazed. He knows now what he must do.
- With a short prayer Ponnar soon lifts his own sword high.
- It rises in the air and falls next to Shankar in perfect
alignment with its twin. Its’ heel, too, is now embedded solidly
in the soft earth.
- Ponnar then takes a similar sudden leap forward, just as his
brother did a few minutes earlier. He, too, seems to leap onto that
chariot that is heading towards the sun.
- And then Ponnar too, lands back on earth. His body goes limp
as well, with his sword neatly passing through his own heart. The
two bodies lie in perfect alignment. They remain twins in death
just as they have been matched as twins since their birth within
minutes of each other, just sixteen years ago! Sixteen years of
life is what Lord Shiva decreed and Lord Vishnu agreed to long ago
at the time that Shiva arranged for their mother’s immaculate
impregnation with the spirit lives of Arjuna and Bhima, the famous
Mahabharata heroes who have lived again through their earthly
bodies. This all happened in Kailasa, in Lord Shiva’s own Famous
Council Chamber high above.
- Soon Shambuga, the loyal assistant, finds his masters’ two bodies. He knows it is his duty to depart from this world with them. Taking a branch from a sacred Suma tree growing nearby, Shambuga throws it with great skill, aiming it so well that it falls and embeds its base in the ground while leaving its sharp, sharp tip pointing skyward. His body soon lies just a short distance from those of the two Ponnivala rulers.
- As soon as Shambuga’s body goes limp Lord Vishnu appears on
this special dying ground. He now opens his little golden box and
calls the spirits of all three men to enter it. The three spirit
lives fly oup from the prone bodies and directly toward the god’s
- When all three spirits have entered this carrying vessel Lord
Vishnu snaps the lip closed using just one thumb.
- Then Vishnu quickly departs, leaving gracefully for the skies
above with his precious cargo.
- Lord Vishnu has a long way to fly. He passes through many
clouds. Finally he sees an opening and the floor of that famed
Council Chamber, a space belonging to the great Shiva himself,
begins to appear.
- Vishnu soon becomes visible on the floor of Mount Kailasa’s
great icy chamber. Both Lord Shiva and his loyal accountant are
there to great him.
- Vishnu pulls out the little golden box
and shows it to his famed brother-in-law, the Lord of the universe
itself. Vishnu also reminds Shiva of the key bargain he made with
him sixteen years ago. At that time Vishnu had handed Shiva his
beloved conch shell. Now, in exchange for the spirit lives of
Ponnivala’s two great heroes… it is time for Lord Shiva to give
him his conch shell back!