A collection of Indian tales of wit, wisdom, humour, bravery, devotion and lots more...

Category: Bravery/Indian History

Vikram and Vetaal – 2

This is another story from Vikram and Vetaal. For people who are new to Vikram and Vetaal stories, it is recommended to read the introductory story here.

The Vetaal (who had possessed the corpse) flew back to the banyan tree and hung upside down. “Hooo hooo hooo”, it laughed eerily.

Now, out of experience, Vikram knew he had to deal firmly with the Vetaal since it would easily escape from him. So in the very first instance, he climbed the tree and gripped the corpse tightly and shoved it on to his back, clutching its legs firmly.

He began to walk back to the sorcerer with the Vetaal clinging to his back. The Vetaal started talking again.

“You have managed to capture me again to take me to the sorcerer” said the Vetaal. “But the path is quite long and so I have decided to tell you another story. The story will have a question at the end. I know that you are extremely intelligent and so, if you know the correct answer and yet keep quiet, your head will break into a thousand pieces. On the other hand, if you tell me the correct answer, I will fly back to the tree.”

Vikram had no choice but to agree to this condition, and the Vetaal started the story.

Once there was a king by name Chandrakant who ruled over a kingdom. He was a very intelligent and impartial king who ruled well. In his reign, all his subjects were happy.

One day, one of his gate-keepers came to him and said, ‘Your Majesty, there will be an attack on our kingdom by some enemies in a few days. It is better if our armed forces are alerted so that they will be prepared.’

The king was surprised, and asked him how he knew this information beforehand, since he was only the gate-keeper and not a spy. The gate-keeper did not give a satisfactory reply.

However, just as the gate-keeper had predicted, in a few days there was an attack on the kingdom by some enemies.

Chandrakant, being an intelligent king, had always kept his army trained and ready and therefore, this attack did not cause them much loss. The enemies were driven away easily by the army of King Chandrakant.

That night, King Chandrakant was wondering how the words of the gate-keeper had come true and mentally decided that he would reward the gate-keeper for his timely information.

So, the next day, he called for him. When the gate-keeper came, King Chandrakant handed to him a bag containing a thousand gold coins as a reward and said, ‘I appreciate your timely information on the attack by the enemies. But tell me now, how did you know this would happen?’

The gate-keeper, in his enthusiasm after having received the gold coins said, ‘Your Majesty! Whatever I see in my dreams when I am asleep comes true. That night, when I was on duty here, I got this dream of the enemies coming and attacking our kingdom. Immediately in the morning I came and informed you’

King Chandrakant thought for a moment and looked at the gatekeeper sternly. ‘Thank you for the information. You are hereby dismissed from service’ he said.

All the people present were shocked on hearing the king’s words. They wondered why the king had given a punishment to one who had done well for the kingdom. No one was bold enough to ask the king.

The gate-keeper also looked stunned for a moment but did not even question the king. He seemed to have understood the reason for his dismissal and said ‘Yes. I deserve this punishment’ and left quietly.”

The Vetaal stopped his story. He asked King Vikram, “Tell me O King, why did King Chandrakant dismiss the gate-keeper from service and why did the gate-keeper accept it? If you know the correct answer and yet keep quiet, your head will break into a thousand pieces. On the other hand, if you tell me the correct answer, I will fly back to the tree.”

King Vikram, without a moment of hesitation replied, “The gate-keeper on duty was supposed to be awake and guard the gates of the palace. If he had dreams at night, it meant he was sleeping and not doing his duty and he also understood that this was the reason for his dismissal.”

The next moment, King Vikram heard an eerie cackle and Vetaal had slipped out of his hold. “Vikram” it said. “I told you that I will go back if you told the right answer! And here I go, hohoho…….”

Veera Mangai Velu Nachiyar – The first woman to rise against the British rule in India.

“Entaro Mahanubhavulu, antariki vandanamu” sang the poet saint Thyagaraja meaning, “Salutations to the many great people of the world”.

So many great people have lived and gone in this beautiful country Bharat. Some of them we know about and some of them we do not know.

Amongst the many freedom fighters who fought to end the British rule in India there have been many untold stories of exceptional valour, in our history books.

It is indeed sad that these brave hearts have not been showcased in the history taught in our schools.

This time, I am attempting to narrate a story of one such brave heart, in fact, the first woman to wage a battle against the British. “Velu Nachiyar” was her name and she lived between 1730 and 1796.

Before I come to the story, a brief introduction on the political situation in those days for the benefit of the youngsters reading this story.

India was a conglomeration of many provinces and kingdoms, ruled by kings or chieftains, in those days before Independence. The area in and around the present Ramanathapuram district was ruled by the chieftains who had the title of ‘Sethupathi’.

Similarly another kingdom which was ruled by Chieftains was called Sivaganga which is now a district in Tamil Nadu. Sivaganga kingdom was founded by Sasivarna Periya Oodaya Thevar in 1730.

These Chieftains were originally working for the Nayak Kings of Madurai and when the King’s rule weakened, these Chieftains became the rulers of the provinces under their control.

Velu Nachiyar was born on January 3,  1730 to Sellamuthu Vijaya Reghunatha Sethupati (who was king of Ramnathapuram from 1747 till 1762). She was the only child of her parents.

Being born in a royal family, Velu was a natural warrior and was trained in horse riding, martial arts, archery, and in using the Valari, a dreaded weapon made of iron, which was a boomerang used widely in war. She was also taught the rules of war and various strategies used in war. Velu was also taught six languages apart from her mother tongue Tamil, namely, Malayalam, Kannada, Telugu, English, French and Urdu. She mastered all of them and was fluent in all.

It is really interesting to note that the female child as a heir was treated as equal to a male heir and trained in everything a male heir would have been trained in!

Growing up to be a bold young lady, Velu was married to Muthuvaduganatha Thevar, the son of the Chieftain of Sivaganga, Sasivarna Periya Oodaya Thevar at the age of sixteen. Four years after her marriage, Muthuvaduganatha Thevar became ruler of Sivaganga after his father’s demise and Velu became Rani Velu Nachiyar (Queen Velu Nachiyar).

With the able guidance of his educated wife who took a very great interest in tax reforms and development of waterways and other infrastructure, things were going on very well for the Muthuvaduganatha Thevar and the Kingdom.

Kalayar Kovil was an important town in the Sivaganga province and it had a beautiful temple and Fort.

With the British aspiring to gain more control in South India, they were teaming up with the local kings and playing them against each other and were taking advantage of the situation by grabbing the territory so won. The reasons for waging war were frivolous.

 In one such instance, in 1772, the British, led by General Joseph Smith and Colonel Abraham Bonjour colluding with the then Arcot Nawab attacked Kalaiyarkovil. Muthuvaduganathar, who was present there with his another wife Gowri Nachiyar was taken unawares and was killed treacherously in the most gruesome manner. So many civilians were massacred and the temple was ransacked and plundered. There was looting and arson everywhere and the beautiful town turned into a graveyard with hundreds of bodies strewn around in no time.

During that time, Rani Velu Nachiyar had gone to a nearby place Kollangudi with her young daughter Vellachi. As soon as she came to know of this ghastly attack, the Rani rushed to Kalayarkovil fort only to witness how inhuman this incident had been. It was heart wrenching. The King, Queen, men, women and children had been slaughtered alike without distinction. The temple had been plundered by the British and the Nawab’s soldiers. It is said that  they looted about 50000 pagodas from there. (The pagoda was the unit of currency in use in those days and was made of gold or semi gold).

Rani Velu Nachiyar was devastated at the sight of the destruction. It was sheer fate that saved her, her daughter, the Minister Thandavaraya Pillai and the Marudu brothers who were well known warriors, who served her loyally. They had all been to Kollangudi and escaped the massacre.

The Rani, though overcome with grief at the gruesome incident, had to make up her mind fast. Either she could immolate herself on the pyre of her husband as a ‘faithful wife’ or she could take revenge and wreak havoc on the British the same way they had done to her.

It is said that the Rani took the inspiration from the legendary Kannagi who brought destruction to the city of Madurai over the injustice that was meted out to her husband. She spoke her mind to the minister Thandavaraya Pillai who had been her like a father figure to her. He was her late father in law’s minister too and he concurred with her idea that the British should be taught a lesson. But the time was not ripe yet for the mission. So on his advice, the Rani sought asylum with her daughter in a place called Virupachi near Dindigul which was ruled by one Gopala Nayakkar who was also against the British. The Marudu brothers would live in the outskirts of Sivaganga, in the woods to be the Rani’s informants and to create trouble for the Nawab whenever possible.

In the meanwhile, General James, who came to know about the valorous wife of the slain king wanted to make sure that she was also murdered. He went in search of her to Kollangudi and came to know from his spies that one particular young woman knew the whereabouts of the Rani Velu Nachiyar. He zeroed in on the woman and questioned her repeatedly. Despite the mental torture inflicted by the General, the woman would simply not give away the whereabouts of the Rani. As a result the lady was inhumanly cut up with a sword in the most ghastly manner by the General. 

Rani Velu heard of the incident and was deeply saddened. She performed the last rites of this valiant young woman at Virupachi. It is said that in her later days, the Rani named her army “Udaiyal Padai” in memory of this young woman.

In the safe haven of Virupachi, Rani Velu was planning her next strategy. She badly needed an ally and forces to go against the British. With the consultation of her Minister, they decided that approaching Hyder Ali, the de facto ruler of Mysore would be the best thing to do. Hyder Ali was a strong force to reckon with as he was also dead against the British rule. Secondly, allying with a Muslim king would prevent the Nawab of Arcot from offering assistance to the British.

In the meanwhile, Sivaganga had been renamed Hussain Nagar by the Arcot Nawab and his son Ameer- ul- Umara was ruling there as the Nawab’s representative.

Rani Velu initiated the correspondence to Hyder Ali seeking military assistance and a letter was sent to him. It was planned to meet Hyder Ali in person also.

Unfortunately, Rani’s minister Thandavaraya Pillai passed away and so the meeting did not materialise. However, shortly thereafter, Hyder Ali made a visit to Dindigul and Rani Velu met him and conversed with him in chaste Urdu.

It is said that Hyder Ali was greatly impressed by the tenacity of this lady and more wonderstruck in the way she spoke flawless Urdu. Both being against the British rule, they discussed the problems created by the British at length and on how to quell the British.

Hyder Ali sanctioned the Rani a princely sum to maintain herself at the Fort and raise an army. He also gave instructions to one Syed Karki to make her stay in the Dindigul Fort as comfortable as should be for a queen and treat her like a queen.

Since Rani Velu Nachiyar was a devotee of the Mother Goddess, he also facilitated her daily worship at temple of Goddess Rajarajeswari within the Fort premises.

Rani Velu Nachiyar started raising a Women Military Regiment and was the trainer herself for her recruits.

The army was given rigorous physical training and was also trained in guerrilla warfare under the careful eye of the Rani.  The army had women captains and spies as any other army in the world would have. One of the Captains was Kuyili, who was a close confidante of the Queen.

 In addition to this army, the Rani also got 5000 cavalry and 5000 infantry from Hyder Ali to assist her when she would launch the attack to restore Sivaganga.

In 1780, the army of women, along with Rani Velu Nachiyar headed towards Sivaganga in disguise.         

 The British also suspected that something was to happen in Sivaganga, but could not get to know clearly what would happen. In anticipation of any attack they had stored lot of ammunition in the arsenal near the Rajarajeswari temple within the Sivaganga Fort.

Kuyili came to know of this. The Rani was apprised of the situation and they had to decide quickly on their strategy.

It was the day before Vijayadasami (during Navaratri) in the month of October. The temple in the fort premises being that of the mother Goddess, it was the usual practice of hundreds of ladies to come for worship in the temple from far and near and were allowed freely into the fort.

The whole army, carrying baskets of fruits and flowers and oil and ghee for worship entered the fort. What the British soldiers and the Nawab’s men did not know was the baskets had weapons like the deadly Valari concealed in them. They were easily hoodwinked.

It was twilight and the sun had almost set. Kuyili went inside the temple and drenched herself with the oil and ghee. In a swift move, carrying a lighted wick, she dashed into the arsenal where the ammunition was kept, lit herself and threw her burning self on the ammunition.

The huge blast that followed, shook the entire town and the hearts of the British alike. It was unthinkable and probably the first suicide bombing in history. Kuyili had become a human bomb and sacrificed herself for her province.

In the meanwhile the cavalry and infantry had entered the town and in the panic that followed, lot of the Nawab’s men and the Britishers met the same fate in the hands of the women’s army, as Rani Velu’s people met eight years ago. The Nawab was captured alive and his flag brought down and the flag of the Rani hoisted.

The province was rid of the British and the Nawab’s men and the Rani was crowned Queen of Sivaganga.

She ruled the province for ten years thereafter with the able assistance of the Marudu Brothers and in 1790, handed over the administration to her daughter Vellachi.

It is said that as a thanksgiving gesture to Hyder Ali, Rani Velu Nachiyar built a mosque at the place called Sarugani near Sivaganga. She also maintained friendly relations with Tipu Sultan, son of Hyder Ali, after the passing away of Hyder Ali in 1782.

Rani Velu Nachiyar passed away on December 25, 1796 suffering from a heart ailment.

She is remembered in her Tamil Nadu as the “Veera Mangai”, meaning, the daring woman.  

The Government of India has honoured her by releasing a postage stamp in December 2008 and the Tamil Nadu Government has built a Memorial for her in 2014 at Sivaganga.

It is a matter of immense pride that Rani Velu Nachiyar was the first lady to rise up against the British rule in India!

Today is Rani Velu Nachiyar’s 289th birth anniversary.

Hirakani Buruj – Tribute to a Great Mother!!

Just back from a trip from magnificent Maharashtra and so thought of dedicating this story to a brave woman of Maharashtra….

I had been to the Lohagad fort at Lonavala and found it not so simple to climb even in broad daylight with almost proper stairs, an inexperienced trekker that I am. It brought to my mind the story of Hirakani who scaled down the Raigad fort in pitch darkness and had the honour of having a watch tower built in her name by none other than Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.

Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj had acquired the fort at Raigad and made it an impregnable fort. The fort was at the top of a very steep mountain. It was a marvellous fort which contained a city within it and nobody could enter or exit the fort without the knowledge and permission of the gatekeeper. The fort’s giant gates opened in the morning and people who were living on the foothills of the mountain could go into the fort and come out till the gates closed again at sunset. The gates would not be opened on any account till the next morning except on the word of the Chatrapati.

There was a lady by name Hirakani who made a living by selling milk to the residents of the fort. She lived in the foothills and maintained a few cows and selling milk was her occupation. She had a small baby who was looked after by her mother in law when she went to deliver milk. The mother in law was very old and could barely manage the baby during the day time. Hira’s husband worked in the army of Shivaji Maharaj and used to be at his place of duty on most days leaving Hira alone to manage the house and the baby.

One day as usual Hira milked her cows and carried the milk to the fort. On that particular day she had to help out with the delivery of a baby of one of her friends who lived in the fort. In those days, babies were born at home and the pregnant mothers were helped by other ladies to deliver the child. Hira was delayed there and by the time she started for home she realised that the sun was about to set. “Oh God”, she thought to herself. “It’s going to be sunset, and the doors of the fort will close. What will my child do if I cannot go home on time? He will be crying with hunger! I have to rush…”

Thinking thus, she ran to the gates and just at the moment she reached the gates, they were closing with a screeching sound and the next moment, the lock was sealed.

“Guard” cried Hira, “please open the door once so I can go out. My infant son will be hungry and waiting for me. I need to go home. Please open the door”

The guard looked at her with no emotion. With a cold look in his eyes he said “Sorry, I cannot go against the order of the Maharaj and it is his order that the doors closed once should be opened the next morning only. You have been coming here for the past so many years and not new to the rules. If you were in such a hurry you should have come earlier”

“Oh Bhaiyya, I am extremely sorry” pleaded Hira. “I did not realise that it was so late. In all these years have I ever come late on any day huh? Please open the doors just this once”. Hira’s eyes were full of tears at the thought of her infant child crying for her in hunger.

The guard did not even look at her face. With the same stony voice he repeated what he had said before. “Go and stay in any of your friend’s house and go in the morning. Now, don’t bother me again and again hmmph…”

Hira was helpless. All her thoughts were with her baby son whose smile on seeing her would make her forget all the troubles of the day. The very thought of that smiling face crying in hunger and anxiety at her absence was intolerable to her. And she was helpless…..

Hira ran back the way she had come. She was determined to get out of the fort come what may. She walked all along the boundary walls of the fort which was perched high on the mountain. At one particular point she noticed that there was no wall built. The portion of the mountain where the wall was missing was so steep and the vertical drop from that particular spot was so very deep with thorny bushes that no one would probably be able to climb up from there and get into the fort and therefore no wall had been built at that spot.

Hira looked down. The sun had set completely and it was pitch dark and she could see nothing but outlines of thorny branches sticking out from the shrubs on the mountain. The thought of her baby kept on lingering in her mind and she decided to climb down from the mountain by holding on to the thorny shrubs. She placed her empty milk cans slowly on the ground fearing that the slightest clanking noise would alert any soldier nearby. She looked around cautiously to see if any soldier was coming on patrol. Fortunately none were in sight.

In an instant, Hira had jumped over the edifice on the side of the mountain and caught hold of a thorny branch with one hand. The sharp thorns pierced her skin and her hand was bleeding. Her dress was caught in another thorny bush below. With great difficulty, she extricated her dress which tore at many places as she was sliding down on the depths of the mountainside, her hands groping in the dark to catch hold of the successive branches. Her arms, legs, face and body were terribly bruised and bleeding. Now and then, owls flew over her head with a “Whoosh” frightening her out of her wits but the image of her son’s face crying for her only increased her pace and within a short while she touched the ground. But the dangers had not ceased.

In front of her eyes, she could see, even in the dark, long snakes slithering around freely, rustling the leaves as they went in search of prey. The various sounds of the insects and the croaking of frogs with the occasional sound of the cane of the soldier patrolling made it very fearful. If she was caught, she would certainly be punished. Somehow, hiding behind bushes and trees, Hira made her way home. As she had expected, the child was crying uncontrollably and her mother in law was helpless as there was no way for her to find out why Hira had not returned from the fort.

The moment Hira called out to her baby, like magic, the crying stopped. Quickly washing her wounds, Hira carried her baby, spoke endearing words to him and fed him and soon the baby was gurgling with laughter, the one thing that made Hira forget all her ordeal that night. With her mind at rest, Hira slept peacefully cuddling her baby.

The next morning as usual, Hira milked the cows and set out to the fort to sell the milk.

The guard who was there in the evening had not gone yet. When he saw her he was aghast! How could a lady whom he had not allowed to go out of the fort come from outside?? The fort as far as he knew did not have any weak point anywhere. It had such high walls and where there was no wall the mountain was so steep that no one could scale it…
As she neared the gate, he stopped her.

“Halt” he said in a gruff voice, “where are you coming from huh? I had not allowed you to go out of the fort yesterday and did not see you going out today. So where are you coming from? Tell the truth”

Hira laughed. “Why are you frightening me thus with your gruff voice Bhaiyya?” she said feigning a frightened look. “I jumped out from the side of the fort where there is no wall and climbed down the mountain. Can you not see my bruises?” she said pointing to her bruised hands, face and shoulders.

The guard was shocked beyond words. “A milk vending woman scaling down the steep mountain? Impossible!!” he thought to himself and said again, “Now Hira, you know the punishment for telling lies don’t you? Come on tell me the truth or I shall have to take you to the presence of His Highness Chatrapatiji”

Hira got angry. “Why will I tell lies?” she asked him angrily, irritated that he was not believing her and also that she was getting late to deliver the milk. “You did not let me go in spite of my telling you that my baby would be waiting for me. So I jumped the wall and went home. I am also showing the bruises I suffered and still if you do not believe then do as you like. Now let me go!” she shouted.

“No way” said the guard. “Come with me immediately to the presence of our Maharaj and only then you will tell the truth it seems. Looks like you are destined to get punished today by His Highness. Hmm… how can I prevent what is written in your destiny?”

He did not realize the great reward destiny had for her, at that point.

Marching ahead with Hira in tow, soon enough the Guard ushered her into the presence of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the great ruler who was renowned for his sense of justice.

Shivaji Maharaj was perplexed on hearing the story told by the guard. He too did not think it was possible for a woman to do what Hira had done, but he could not disbelieve her too looking at the bruises sustained by her.

He thought for a while and said to her, “Well, show me from where you climbed down”.

Hira went to the place from where she had climbed down, followed by the King and the guard and on reaching the spot, pointed the place to the king. The king looked at her and said, “Well Hira, can you do that again now? Climb down now in front of me!”

Hira went near the edge of the rock and peered down. Seeing the steep fall made her dizzy. The sight of the thorny bushes crisscrossing, gave her goose bumps. For the first time she realized what a dangerous thing she had attempted. If she had slipped even once she would not have been alive now.

She looked at the King and the depth of the mountain again and again and suddenly realized she could not do what she dared to do the previous night.

Not able to look into the King’s eyes, with her eyes downcast she said, “Sorry Maharaj, I will not be able to do it now. I realize how deep and dangerous this side of the mountain is, only now. Yesterday, the motherly instinct in me and the anxiety to see my child who would be crying with hunger blinded me from seeing these dangers, but I have not lied to you Maharaj and therefore I am willing to accept whatever punishment you may deem fit for my action”

A moment of silence followed. Then the Maharaj spoke “Yes Hirakani. I have decided to punish you…”

Hirakani’s heart was beating fast.

“I am going to punish you by building a watch tower at this very spot”

Hirakani looked up surprised.

Shivaji Maharaj was smiling and continued, “You have displayed exemplary courage and motherly affection by risking your life. But, if an untrained woman like you can scale this dangerous mountain, it indicates that I have to be careful that trained soldiers of the enemy do not use this very route to come into my fort which all along I was thinking was impregnable… So, I am ordering a watch tower to be built here and it will be named after you, the Hirakani Buruj. Not a severe punishment I hope….”

Hira was relieved and conveyed her happiness to the king with folded hands bowing her head in respect.

And the tower which was built in honour of Hirakani came to be known as ‘Hirakani Buruj’ and is still seen at Raigad fort. The tower which reminds us of both Hirakani’s exemplary courage and the greatness and humility of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj!!

PS: The photo collage which is shown in this story is not that of Raigad fort but is of Lohagad fort.

A Story from Vikram and Vetaal

Today (6th March India)  is the third anniversary of my blog and I thank all of you readers who have been following this blog and encouraging me continuously. Here is another interesting story for you…

Vikramaditya or Vikram was a legendary Indian king with unmatched valour, intelligence and bravery. He is said to have ruled Bharat from Ujjain and many a story are woven about him, the famous  ones being Betaal Pachchisi (also called Vetaal Panchavimsati in Sanskrit)  and Singhasan Battisi. Betaal Pachchisi is a set of twenty five stories including the introductory one, each of them ending with a riddle, told by a Betaal or Vedaalam in Tamil (which means vampire) to Vikram to test his intelligence.  Singhasan Battisi is a set of thirty two stories where the stories told are about Vikram’s outstanding qualities to Raja Bhoja who accidentally discovers the throne of Vikramaditya.

This is from Betaal Pachchisi. Here is the introductory story.

King Vikram who was ruling from Ujjain, used to meet the public outside the palace everyday morning while he came to the court. Once he noticed that an elderly person who looked like a mendicant was coming every morning in the audience and presenting him with a big fruit every day without fail. King Vikram used to get the fruit and hand it over to the minister who was storing it somewhere.

One day as the minister was taking the fruit, a monkey appeared out of nowhere and snatched the fruit from the minister and tore open a portion of the fruit when a big precious ruby fell out of the fruit. As King Vikram and the onlookers looked at this incident with great surprise, the mendicant had left. King Vikram called the minister and asked him to bring the other fruits and to their surprise, all the fruits contained a precious ruby each.

The next day when the mendicant approached the king, Vikram asked him the purpose of his giving him so many fruits with gems inside.

“I need your help urgently, Maha Rajan (great king)” replied the mendicant.

“What is it that you want from me?” asked Vikram to which the mendicant said with a mysterious smile, “I need to tell you that in private”. Vikram then led him to his inner chamber when the mendicant said “I can tell you what I want only if you come and meet me in my place in the forest on the coming new moon day at midnight. But you should come alone. Will you?”

King Vikram agreed immediately without a second thought.

The mendicant left the place immediately.

On the following new moon night, unknown to anyone Vikram mounted his horse and sword in hand, rode into the deep dark jungle. The forest was dense with trees, bushes and creepers and being the new moon night there was not a spot of light.

It would have terrified us if we went, but Vikram, brave as he was, trained his eyes to see in the dark and followed the rugged path.

After a while, the growth of bushes was so dense that the horse could not proceed. Climbing down, King Vikram trudged over the thorny bushes and the only noise being made was by his sandals crushing the dry leaves and twigs. Here and there one could suddenly hear the rustle of leaves on trees signifying the movement of deadly snakes. King Vikram advanced into the forest fearlessly sword in hand.

After a while, he could spot a clearing where the mendicant was sitting cross legged wearing a garland made of skulls chanting some verses loudly. There was a sacrificial fire in front of him burning brightly and he was throwing something in the fire at the end of each verse with his eyes closed tight. King Vikram realised that the mendicant was indeed a sorcerer.

Vikram smiled to himself that he was able to find the sorcerer and went up to him.

Hearing the rustle of Vikram’s sandals, the sorcerer opened his eyes.

“Hahahahahahahahaha……..” he roared with laughter as if he had achieved something. “Oh! So you have come” said he. “I knew you would not cheat me”

Vikram’s expression remained as calm as the sea. “Yes, why would I cheat you Sir? Tell me how I could serve you?” he asked with humility.

“Well” said the sorcerer. “ You shall do as you have promised”

“Yes, Go on” said Vikram.

“There is a banyan tree at the north eastern corner of this forest and there hangs a corpse on its branches. Bring me the corpse as I am doing a ritual to attain occult powers and only if I sacrifice a corpse brought by a King like you, I will succeed in my endeavour” said he with a wicked look.

Vikram, brave as he was, immediately turned and proceeded to the north east corner of the forest. Such sharp sense of direction he had that he easily went in the correct direction in the pitch dark forest with no one to guide!

Soon he reached the place and saw a huge tree on which a corpse hung upside down. He could see it was tied with a rope and so he climbed up the tree and cut the ropes holding the corpse and it fell down with a thud. As he bent to pick it up, there was an eerie laughter and the corpse flew back to the branch and hung upside down on its own. Six times Vikram tried and all the six times, the corpse flew back. By then Vikram had realised that it was not an ordinary corpse, but the corpse was possessed by a vampire (ghost).

This time, Vikram held firmly to the corpse and shoved it on his back, holding its legs tightly. The corpse began to speak.

“You are really great Vikram” it said. “You have managed to capture me and take me to the sorcerer. But the path is quite long and so I have decided to tell you a story. The story will have a question at the end.I have heard that you are extremely intelligent and if you know the answer and still keep quiet, your head will break into a thousand pieces but if you tell me the correct answer, I will fly back to the tree”

It was such a tricky situation but Vikram being bound by his promise to the sorcerer could not but agree to this condition of the vampire.

“Go on…” he said.

The vampire started the story.

In olden days in a city, there lived two friends, Suryamal and Chandrasen. They were very close friends. Once both of them went on a visit to a Kali temple at Pataliputra. In the temple, Suryamal saw a young maiden who was very beautiful. He instantly liked her so much that he enquired nearby and found his way to her house to meet her father. He met her father and sought the maiden’s hand in marriage. The father was too glad. After all he was a very poor man and here, some well to do person was seeking his daughter’s hand. So the marriage was fixed. The father had only one condition that since his daughter was an ardent devotee of Kali, Suryamal should, after marriage fulfil her wish of going to a Kali temple every day.

 Suryamal agreed and the marriage was performed in a grand manner in the presence of the villagers and Chandrasen. Chandrasen was very happy for his friend. The day following the wedding, the friends along with Suryamal’s wife bade goodbye to her parents and started back to their city. The girl’s father asked them to stay for a day but they said that there was a pooja in Suryamal’s house the next day and they had to leave.

The friends were riding horses while Suryamal’s wife was travelling in a palanquin carried by two men. Her jewellery and other gifts given by her parents were being carried by another person walking behind the palanquin.

Unfortunately the party had started their travel a bit late in the evening and it was already past midnight when they were passing through a dense forest and still had to travel several miles to reach their destination. The forest was infested with dacoits which they were not aware of and suddenly they were attacked by a group of dacoits. There was a fierce fight. Though Suryamal and Chandrasen did not have any weapons, they fought bravely but the dacoits overpowered them and chopped off their heads. The attendants had run away in fear leaving all the gifts and Suryamal’s  wife was huddled inside the palanquin trembling with fear.

By the time the dacoits left, it was early in the morning and Suryamal’s wife stepped out gingerly out of the palanquin only to see the headless bodies of her husband and his friend.

Suffering a terrible shock she cried out loudly and lamented to her goddess Kali. She recalled how much she believed in Kali and how Kali had betrayed her. Unable to bear the sorrow, she pulled out a small dagger she carried and was about to kill herself when to her delight, Kali appeared before her and said she would give life to her husband and his friend. She further told the maiden to take the heads of her husband and his friend and keep it near the respective necks. The girl was so excited at this offer of Kali Maa that she, in her hurry, brought the heads of Suryamal and Chandrasen but while keeping them near the necks, interchanged the heads. She kept Chandrasen’s head near Suryamal’s body and Suryamal’s head near Chandrasen’s body. In a second Kali Maa brought them to life as they were placed and vanished. To her horror, the maiden found her husband with his friend’s body and vice versa. She lamented but it was too late.”

The vampire stopped the story. “Vikram” it said, “who do you think the maiden should take as her husband and live with? Suryamal with Chandrasen’s body or Chandrasen with Suryamal’s body?”

Without a wee bit of hesitation Vikram replied “The girl should take the person with Suryamal’s head as her husband, because, the brain in our head commands all the organs in our body, stores all memories and therefore the head is the vital part of our body and so it would be appropriate that she lives with the person with Suryamal’s head”

The next moment, Vikram heard an eerie cackle and the vampire had slipped out of his hold. “Vikram,” it said, “I told you that I will go back if you told the right answer and here I go hohoho….…”

There was a swoosh in the air and rustle on the trees and the vampire was flying back to its tree fast with Vikram in hot pursuit.

Here ends the first tale of Vikram and  Vetaal.

 

The Story of Manickavasagar

Tiruvadhavoor is a village near Madurai.  In this village in near about 9th Century AD was born to a pious couple, a son, whom they named Vadhavooran. Vadhavooran’s father belonged to the saivite temple priest clan.

Vadhavooran was a very bright child who mastered various subjects, scriptures of various religions and arts before he was sixteen years of age. Once the King of Madurai Varaguna Pandian who was also known as Arimardhana Pandian chanced to witness the brilliance of Vadhavooran’s knowledge and acumen that he immediately appointed him as his minister. Vadhavooran discharged his ministerial duties with elan and provided an effective administration in the kingdom, but his mind was focussed on getting salvation from this mundane life and he constantly prayed to Lord Shiva to show him the path or to show him a guru (teacher) who would show him the path to salvation.

Once, Arimardhana Pandian came to know that good Arabian horses had been brought by traders to the Coastal towns in the Chola Kingdom and he was eager to acquire good horses to improve his cavalry. He gave gold coins to his trusted minister Vadhavooran and told him to go to the Chola Kingdom and acquire horses.

Vadhavooran accepted the assignment and commenced his journey to the Chola Kingdom. He had to pass by a place called Tirupperunthurai, which is in Pudukkottai district now. As he was passing by the place, he heard the chant of Vedic hymns and was drawn to it. He saw an old man sitting under a Kurunthu tree and the very moment Vadhavooran’s eyes met the old man’s, he decided that he was the Guru he was seeking all these years. He forgot all about his mission and stayed with the old man learning about the glory of Lord Shiva.  He realised that all the material things in this world were temporary and decided that the Lord was the only source of permanent bliss and therefore started to build a temple for the Lord there. He sang many hymns on the Lord and the most famous one was Tiruvachagam. On hearing it the old man gave Vadhavooran the name of Manickavasagar – literally translated means gem worded or more specifically,  ruby worded, that is,  the words spoken by Vadhavooran were equivalent to rubies.

Meanwhile, the King, at Madurai was waiting eagerly for the horses to come but there was no news of that. He sent his spies in search of Vadhavooran and he got the shocking news that Vadhavooran had not gone any further than Tirupperunthurai and he was constructing a temple and feeding the poor with the money meant for buying horses. The King was furious and asked his men to immediately bring Vadhavooran to Madurai. Only when the men told Vadhavooran about the King’s order, he remembered his mission and was aghast that all the money had been spent by him in charity and temple construction.  He asked them for some time and went inside the temple to meet the old man who was none other than Lord Shiva and he surrendered to him. He told Him about the mission of his and the dilemma he was facing now.

The old man patted Vadhavooran and said, “Do not worry. Go back to your king and tell him that the horses will arrive on Avani Moolam day. (Avani is the name of a tamil month and Moolam is a star. Each day of the month is dedicated to a star in Tamil culture) The old man took out a diamond ring from nowhere and gave it to Vadhavooran and said, “Go and give this to your King as a token from the horse dealer”.

Vadhavooran took the ring as if in a trance and he completely believed every word of the old man without even thinking how it would ever happen and went back to the kingdom. He gave the ring to the King who was surprised and even suspected whether his spies had lied to him on the activities of Vadhavooran. He spoke kind words to Vadhavooran and was expecting the horses to come on the day promised by Vadhavooran.

Since an army of horses were supposed to arrive the spies of the king were looking for clouds of dust from afar since the galloping of so many horses would have caused a dust storm, but everything was calm and clear. The spies went and told the King that what Vadhavooran told him was a lie since the very next day was Avani Moolam day and there was no sign of any horses.

“Be patient!” said the King. “Let us see till the appointed day!”

Lord Shiva wanted to play some mischief and see the fun. That very night, all the foxes in the jungles near Madurai got transformed into horses and suddenly out of nowhere, there were hundreds of horses, being led by some horsemen and they had a leader also. Early in the morning, the gatekeepers of the palace were surprised to see this extremely handsome man leading the other men and horses and they ran to the King to inform him. The King was puzzled but pleasantly surprised that Vadhavooran had after all not cheated him and therefore, he along with Vadhavooran came and received the horses.  The horses were looking very high class and of a rare breed and the King was extremely happy and very much impressed by the leader of the horsemen. Vadhavooran somehow thought that the leader of the group resembled the old man he had met at Tirupperunthurai. The leader then explained to the King about the method of upkeep of the horses, their feed etc. and took leave of the King. The King arranged for all the horses to be stabled and went to bed a very happy man, eager to try riding the horses the next day.

But Lord Shiva had other plans. That very night, the horses were transformed back into foxes and suddenly, there were packs and packs of them jumping out from the stables and pouncing at the horsemen and some real horses and injuring them. They ran hither and thither, howling away and the security guards were taken by surprise and it was chaos all around and the guards who were running for their life left the gates open and the foxes ran back into the jungles.

The King was told about the happenings and he was furious. He thought that Vadhavooran was practising some black magic and ordered him to be arrested immediately. It was a real hot day as the monsoon had not yet set in and the Vaigai river was fully dried up.

“Make him stand in the hot bed of the River Vaigai in the hot sun for the whole day!” the king thundered and immediately Vadhavooran was taken to the riverbed. The white sand of the river looked beautiful but was burning hot. It was like the coal which looks harmless with ash over it, but really hot inside. Vadhavooran was pained at the turn of events. He was crying to the Lord silently that such a thing had happened and was very disturbed as he could not figure out why and how this happening.

The hot sand of the Vaigai riverbed was baking his feet and he was not able to stand still even for a second. But his mind solely dwelt on the Lord surrendering himself to Him even though tortured by the heat and the pain .

Suddenly from nowhere thunderclouds gathered and there was a heavy rain. It rained for two or three days together that Vaigai was in spate. The water was gaining more and more momentum that it looked like the river banks would be breached very shortly. The King ordered one person from each home to come and help in strengthening the embankment by putting sand. An announcement was made in the streets of the city of this order of the King and all the citizens sent an able bodied person from their houses. The King’s order had to be obeyed at any cost.

Now, there was an old lady by name Vanthi in Madurai who eked out a living by selling a south Indian delicacy called “Pittu”. Pittu is a powdery sweet made from rice flour and jaggery. This lady Vanthi was an orphan and she sold Pittu and earned money. Every day when she made Pittu, she would first offer it to Lord Shiva and then commence her sales. She was old and had no one to send for the arduous job the King had given.

As she was pondering what to do Lord Shiva appeared as a young boy at her doorstep.

“Hello is there any one inside?” cried the lad. “Does anyone have a job to give me?”

The old lady was surprised and happy and she came out hurriedly and saw this handsome young lad with a turban tied around his head and innocent looks.

“Who are you boy?” she asked him “and what do you want?”

“Patti”, he said (Patti is grandmother in Tamil); “I am on the lookout for a job. Do you have any odd jobs to be done Patti?” he asked very humbly.

“Hmmm” sighed Vanthi. “Well, I am in need of a person to carry out the King’s order”. She then went on to tell him about the King’s order for persons to come to help strengthen the embankment of River Vaigai.

The boy listened to her and said, “I will do the work on your behalf Patti, but what will you pay me?”

Vanthi’s face fell. “I do not have much money to pay you boy” she said sadly. “I earn my living by selling Pittu”.

“Aha, Pittu!” jumped the lad. “My grandma also gives me Pittu every day. It is alright Patti. You give me Pittu instead of money” he said.

Vanthi was happy and expected him to go for the job immediately, but he was standing there expectantly.

“What do you want?” asked Vanthi. “Go and do the job I have told you, go”

“Patti… hmm.. Patti… I want…. I want to have the Pittu before I go. I am feeling very hungry Patti” said the boy.

Vanthi, being an old woman was moved when this young lad was saying he was hungry.

“Wait a minute” she said, “I shall give you the Pittu. You go after eating” . She went in and brought the lad  a good amount of Pittu in a banana leaf.

The boy looked at it eagerly and ate it with great relish. “This Pittu is great” he said. “Just like what my grandma makes”. And licking his fingers he did not leave a speck of the Pittu. “OK Patti”, he addressed her. “Give me a spade and I shall go and do the job as you wish”.

He took the spade and went to the river bank where everyone was busy struggling to put mud on the embankment. The rain had temporarily stopped. The boy looked around and found a big tree nearby with huge roots. He put the spade down and took of his turban and spread it on the roots of the tree and settled down reclining himself on the bark of the tree and in a few minutes was snoring away gently.

The people there were looking at him in awe for he was disobeying the King’s order so blatantly. Soon after, the King accompanied by his courtiers came on horseback to inspect the work that was being done. He was seeing the progress and suddenly, his eye caught the sight of this happy lad snoring away without a care. The king got very angry.

“Hey You!” he shouted at the boy. The boy did not wake up. “Are you deaf?” he yelled at the boy again. The boy slowly opened his eyes as if nothing had happened and stretched his arms and body with a loud yawn, “Aaaaww”. He just looked around and was about to settle down once again when the King came near him.

“Who are you?” the king roared. “And without doing work, how dare you sleep huh?”

“I am the servant of Vanthi” said the boy in a sleepy voice. I had lot of food and am feeling sleepy”. So saying, he turned to sleep again when the furious king took out his whip and in a moment, the whip snapped on the back of the boy. The very next moment, the pain was felt by all the living beings around including the king and a loud “Aaaah!” emanated from all the people around there and the horses writhed and neighed in pain and the birds around shrieked in pain.

The King was shocked by what had happened and his mind went blank for a moment and the very next moment he understood that the boy was none other than Lord Shiva and he also understood that this great drama unfolded only for the sake of Vadhavooran, whom he had punished.

The same time, the boy disappeared and the flood waters receded. The King rushed to Vadhavooran  and sought his forgiveness. Vadhavooran accepted the apology but gave up his chief ministership and visited various temples of Uttarakosamangai, Tiruperunthurai, Tiruvannamalai, Kancheepuram and Chidambaram in Tamilnadu . He stayed back at Chidambaram which was close to his heart.

He composed many more hymns including Tiruvempavai , and Tiruppalliyezhuchi and one day again Lord Shiva came to him assuming the form of an old man and asked him to repeat the Tiruvachagam. He took some palm leaves and started to write down as Manickavasagar was reciting the Hymn. After the whole hymn had been written down, the man signed with his verse that “as Manickavasagar told, the Lord Tiruchittrambalam wrote this” and left the script on the steps leading to the sanctum sanctorum. The next morning, the script was picked up by the priests who were surprised to see the Lord’s signature. They asked Manickavasagar the meaning of the hymn for which he showed them the Lord Nataraja and said “he is the meaning of all that has been written” and then, Manickavasagar merged with the Lord as a flash of light. He was thirty two then.

The Tiruvachagam has been translated into English in by G.U.Pope in 1900  and again in 1921. Manickavasagar has not been placed in the list of the 63 saivite saints but he finds a place in the Nalvar (foursome) who are Thirugnanasambandar, Tirunavukkarasar, Sundarar and Manickavasagar.

The Story Of Purushottam Dev and Padmavathi

In the 15th century AD, present day Odisha was ruled by King Purushottam Deva of the Gajapati Dynasty. This king, apart from being a brave and handsome person, was a great devotee of Lord Jagannatha of Puri.

Once, he went on a trip to Southern India. There, he was the guest of the King of Kanchi (who was perhaps one of the chieftains of the Vijayanagara Empire) for a few days. He chanced to meet the King’s daughter Padmavathi who was a very beautiful maiden. Purushottam and Padmavathi liked each other and the King of Kanchi put forth the proposal of her marriage with Purushottam Deva to him.

Purushottam was overjoyed and accepted the proposal and after a few days returned to his kingdom. The Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannatha was upcoming and he being the King and a great devotee of the Lord he had to make preparations for the grand event. While leaving, Purushottam invited the King and his family and ministers to come for the Yatra and witness the grand celebrations.

Rath Yatra is an annual event held at Puri when the Lord Jagannatha (Krishna), his brother Lord Balabhadra (Balarama) and their sister Subhadra along with Sudarsana (Deity of the Lord’s wheel of flame) are all taken out in a magnificent procession (Yatra) in separate chariots (Rath).  The Raths are as huge as 45 to 50 feet high and are constructed anew every year. This Yatra has been there from times immemorial and it is said that even the Puranas have vividly described the Yatra. It is usually in the month of Ashaada (July- August).

Coming back to the story, the King of Kanchi could not make it to the Yatra and therefore sent his minister to attend the celebrations and also officially put up the wedding proposal to the King Purushottam Deva. The minister went to Puri and was accorded a warm welcome by the King and had good arrangements to stay and witness the Yatra.

Next day, the Yatra commenced. The whole city was in a festive mood. Just before the Raths started moving, people were in a frenzy. Bells were ringing, conches were being blown, drums were being beaten and groups were singing bhajans and dancing. The minister had never witnessed such a huge celebration and was awestruck at the magnificence of the Raths, their beautiful colours and sculptures engraved on them and the imposing idols of Lord Jagannatha, Balabhadra and Subhadra.

Just then, he noticed a strange thing. He saw King Purushottam Deva on the chariot of Lord Jagannatha, holding a broom in his hand and sweeping in front of the Lord. He was totally aghast. In those days, sweeping was considered a very menial job fit to be done by the lowest rung of people in the society. But here, the King was not only holding broom but sweeping the chariot too.

There is this very significant ritual associated with the Rath-Yatra known as the ‘Chhera Pahara.’ In this ritual, during the festival, the King used to wear the dress of a sweeper and sweep all around the deities and chariots.  Chhera Pahara meant sweeping with water ritual and the King used to clean the place before the deities and also road before the chariots with a gold-handled broom and sprinkle sandalwood water and powder with utmost devotion.

Even though the King is considered the person with the highest social status in the kingdom, he still rendered the menial service to Jagannatha signifying that under the lordship of Jagannatha, there is no distinction between the sovereign of the Kingdom and a person doing a menial job.

The minister, not knowing of this ritual or significance was watching with great consternation with a frown on his face and to his dismay, the King got down and started sweeping around the chariots. The minister could bear it no more. He went back to the place of his stay and not informing anyone, packed his belongings and went back to Kanchi.

After reaching Kanchi, he immediately sought an audience with the King and told him about the scene he saw during the Rath Yatra.

“It is extremely disgusting your Highness!” he said. “I cannot imagine our dear princess marrying a sweeper. He is doing the job which is done by the lowest caste with no shame! Hmph! It is better you arrange for the wedding of Padmavathi with someone else!”

The King of Kanchi was also equally angry and felt cheated. “It is good that I sent you during the Yatra”, he said to the minister, “or else, I would have been cheated of marrying off my daughter to a sweeper. I shall arrange for a Swayamvara for Padmavathi. Let her choose a king worthy of her stature. Invite all kings except Purushottam Deva”, he instructed the minister.

Accordingly, the King of Kanchi was making arrangements for holding a Swayamvara. Meanwhile, Purushottam Deva had noticed the unceremonious exit of the Kanchi minister and sent his spies to find out what the matter was. He got the news that a Swayamvara was being planned for Padmavathi and that he was not going to be invited for it.

“I will wage a war on him!” he said with great anger to his minister. “I will capture him and his daughter. Prepare for war!”

Accordingly in the next few days, the army of Purushottam was marching to Kanchi and a battle raged among the two kings. Purushottam lost heavily and his camp was set to fire and he had to beat a hasty retreat to escape being captured. He was very depressed and ran back to his kingdom with a heavy heart.

Padmavathi was also not happy at the turn of events and was praying that she should get to marry Purushottam who she had liked in the first instance.

Purushottam went to the temple and stood before Lord Jagannatha. He prayed fervently to Him. “I served you and that was being mocked at”, he said to the Lord. “You have let me down badly. Is this the reward I get for serving you with my body, mind and soul?”

He was praying with his eyes closed, deep in thought when he thought he heard a voice say, “Come on Purushottam. Get up and go for war again. I will be with you this time!”

Startled and puzzled, he looked around and could see no one. But something in him said that now he had divine help and he got the courage to go again to war. He started garnering the army and preparing to leave in a few days.

The day before he left his Kingdom, Lord Balabhadra and Lord Jagannatha, assumed the form of soldiers and went riding on horses to Kanchi. Balabhadra rode a white horse and Jagannatha rode a black one. After riding for quite some distance, Jagannatha was thirsty and they both saw an old lady by name Manika selling buttermilk. The brothers rode up to her, got down from the horses and asked her for buttermilk. She gave them the two pots full of buttermilk she had and they both drank it heartily. When she asked for money, Jagannatha removed his ring and gave it to her and said, “Manika ma, we are both going to Kanchi to help the King in the war. Tomorrow, our King will be passing by this route with his army. Show this ring to him and take the money for this buttermilk you gave us”.

So saying, the brothers left.

The next day, as told by the brothers, King Purushottam leading his army went by the same route as told by the Lord. At one point, he was stopped by the old lady Manika.

“Victory be to the King!” she hailed. Purushottam Dev stopped his chariot and asked her what she wanted. She flashed the ring given to her by Lord Jagannatha and said, “Your Majesty, two of your soldiers went by this way yesterday. They bought buttermilk from me and drank and gave this ring to me. They told me to show this to you and take money from you.”

The surprised king took the ring from her wondering who had the audacity to tell him to pay for the buttermilk they drank. To his pleasant surprise, he found that the ring was of his beloved Lord Jagannatha and he was overwhelmed by the Lord’s mercy and became extremely confident that he would win this war.

When he reached Kanchi, again a bloody war raged and this time, Purushottam captured both the King of Kanchi and his daughter.

Looking at the King with anger and scorn he said to him, “Oh, you had decided to marry off this daughter of yours to someone else since I was sweeping the Lord’s chariot eh? Now that I have captured you and your princess, I shall get a real sweeper and marry her off to him IN FRONT OF YOUR EYES”

The king of Kanchi could do nothing but cry silently at his destiny.

Purushottam took his captives back to his capital. He told his minister to get hold of a good sweeper to whom he could marry off Padmavathi.

The minister, though unable to refuse the order of Purushottam was feeling very bad that Padmavathi should be punished for no fault of hers. He knew that Purushottam was very adamant and would not change his mind with any amount of advice.

Padmavathi was also crying silently in agony at her fate. “I shall consume poison and die instead of bearing this humiliation” she said to herself.

Days passed and whenever Purushottam asked his minister, the minister kept telling him that an ‘eligible’ sweeper was not yet found for Padmavathi.

A year rolled by and it was time for the year’s Rath Yatra and yet again it was time for celebration. Princess Padmavathi and her father were brought in chains to witness the Yatra.

The sweeping ritual started and Purushottam Dev had finished sweeping the chariot of Lord Balabhadra and just as he was going to sweep the chariot of Lord Jagannatha, he saw his minister coming swiftly from a distance followed by Princess Padmavathi whose hand were tied.

“My Lord, Wait… wait” he cried.

As Purushottam looked at him puzzled, he said, “I have found the sweeper for Padmavathi. We can conduct the marriage right here now”.

Purushottam looked at him and said, “Let the Rath Yatra be over, my dear minister. I do not have the time now to see Padmavathi’s groom. Let me continue my service”

So saying as he bent down to sweep, the minister announced in a loud voice to the public, “Dear people of this land, our King Purushottam had entrusted to me the job of finding an eligible sweeper to marry off this beautiful princess Padmavathi whom he had captured from Kanchi. I have found the most eligible sweeper now and he is none else that King Purushottam himself! He is the most eligible sweeper at this moment and therefore let us all request him to marry this beautiful Princess” he said pointing at the Princess.

Both Purushottam and Padmavathi were pleasantly shocked and so was the King of Kanchi who had by now realised his folly. Purushottam had been outwitted by the minister but all is well that ends well and Purushottam married Padmavathi in the presence of his dear deities Balabhadra, Jagannatha and Subhadra with their blessings.

It is said that Purushottam reigned over his kingdom for over three decades.

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