Book Review – Sivakamiyin Sabadham Vol 2, The Siege of Kanchi

The speed at which am reading the classics by Kalki Krishnamurthy, shows his greatness as a writer. When you know that the author has done lots of research and the historical events are all true, the story becomes even more interesting. I had posted the summary of Vol 1 – Book Review – Sivakamiyin Sabadham Vol #1. Kanchi, the capital of the Pallavas was also the knowledge centre at that time. People from all over Bharat would travel to Kanchipuram to get educated.

We left the story with Paranjyothi expressing his desire to join the Pallava army. He not only becomes a part of the Pallava army but also a celebrated commander. And this is a historical fact !!! The story continues with the Siege of Kanchi.

Kanchi - Sivakamiyin Sabadham

Again, thanks to Kalki, the summary is just a copy paste of what he himself wrote.

The Siege of Kanchi

Paranjyothi enlists with the Pallava army and has a meteoric rise in the Pallava cavalry. After a short war in the north, Mahendra Pallavar makes him the Commander of the Kanchi Fort. The Crown Prince Narasimha Pallavar is impressed with Paranjyothi and the two soon become intimate friends. Narasimha Pallavar confides in Paranjyothi about his ardent love for Sivakami.

Paranjyothi, aware of Mahendra Pallavar’s disapproval of the relationship, is in a dilemma. Mahendra Pallavar successfully keeps Mamallar and Sivakami apart. The royal charioteer, Kannabiran, acts as the go-between carrying the lovers’ messages. But the long period of separation makes Sivakami believe in the allegations of the crafty bikshu Naganandi about Mamallar.

Hence, she decides to ignore Mamallar’s missive that she remain at her forest residence. Naganandi, Aayanar, Sivakami and her aunt leave their forest residence and head to Nagapattinam. Naganandi claims that he will arrange for Sivakami to perform there before an august audience. En route they meet Gundodharan.

Though an apprentice with Aayanar, he is in reality a Pallava spy. The spy chief Shatrugnan had commanded him to observe the goings-on at Aayanar’s residence. Gundodharan clears Sivakami’s misconceptions about Mamallar.

He also hands over to Naganandi a message from his disciple. An annoyed Naganandi reads the message which states that King Durvineethan of Ganga Nadu had invaded Kanchi as per Naganandi’s instructions.

As Naganandi had given no such instruction, he realizes that there is treachery afoot. So he asks Aayanar and family to stay in a deserted viharam at Ashokapuram and leaves to meet King Durvineethan. Gundodharan shadows Naganandi.

On the fourth day of their stay, Aayanar and Sivakami observe the Ganga Nadu army fleeing with Pallava soldiers pursuing it. Mamallar and Paranjyothi pass through the viharam in hot pursuit of Durvineethan. Mamallar sees Sivakami standing outside the viharam but does not pause to speak to her. His charioteer Kannabiran, however, stops to inform Sivakami of Mamallar vanquishing Durvineethan at the Pullalur Battle and promises to tell Mamallar that Sivakami had sought his forgiveness.

Meanwhile, Gundodharan returns to Ashokapuram and relates Mamallar’s heroic feats at the Pullalur Battle. He also continues shadowing Naganandi and overhears him saying that the Thirupaar Kadal Dam may be breached that night on account of the cyclone raging outside. A shocked Gundodharan shadows Naganandi and observes the bikshu using a spade to breach the dam embankment.

When Gundodharan tries to close the breach, he hears Mahendra Pallavar’s voice in the dark commanding him to save Aayanar and Sivakami. Gundodharan pushes Naganandi into the dam and hastens to Ashokapuram. The flood waters reach Ashokapuram ahead of Gundodharan. Aayanar and his family climb to the upper storey of the viharam.

Gundodharan manoeuvres a boat to the viharam. Mamallar, eager to rescue Aayanar and Sivakami, leaves his army on the banks of the South Pennai River and rides to Ashokapuram. He joins Gundodharan in rescuing Aayanar and his family. Those in Gundodharan’s boat reach Mandapapattu village.

The villagers accord the group a warm reception. The group spends three days at Mandapapattu when Mamallar and Sivakami get the rare opportunity to spend time together and declare their undying love for each other. Mamallar promises Sivakami that she will be his Queen Consort when he ascends the throne.

Sivakami’s soul-stirring dance concert endears her to the villagers. Meanwhile, Mahendra Pallavar accompanied by Shatrugnan leaves in search of Mamallar. So does Paranjyothi accompanied by the Pallava forces. Paranjyothi traces Mamallar to Mandapapattu and escorts him back. Soon they receive Mahendra Pallavar’s missive instructing them to hasten to Kanchi.

Mahendra Pallavar and Shatrugnan meet Gundodharan and reach Mandapapattu village. Gundodharan informs Mahendra Pallavar that Naganandi had arrived at that village and had tried to stab Mamallar several times. Gundodharan then escorts Mahendra Pallavar and Shatrugnan to the monastery in which Aayanar and Sivakami are staying.

The shrewd Mahendra Pallavar surmises that Naganandi must still be inside the monastery. Mahendra Pallavar hands over to Aayanar the lion insignia, which would give the bearer instant access to the Kanchi Fort and the senior-most officials of the Pallava kingdom. As expected, it falls into the hands of Naganandi.

Mahendra Pallavar then sends Aayanar off with Shatrugnan to search for his boat and thus manages to isolate Sivakami. He informs Sivakami of Naganandi’s unrequited love for her and his attempts to kill Mamallar because of that. He tries to influence her to free Mamallar from her love so that he can arrange Mamallar’s wedding with the Pandya princess.

This marriage, he states, would make the Pandyas his allies and help him win Pulikesi. Sivakami vehemently refuses. Meanwhile, Naganandi shows the lion insignia to Mahendra Varmar’s charioteer, Kannabiran, and asks him to hasten to Kanchi.

Though Mahendra Varmar observes this from a distance, he does not prevent the reluctant Kannabiran from riding away with Naganandi. Naganandi, on reaching Kanchi, disguises himself as an injured Pallava spy and gains entry to the Ministers’ Council with the help of the lion insignia and informs them that Mahendra Pallavar has been imprisoned by the Chalukyas.

Mamallar, in his anguish, prepares to lead the army out of the Kanchi Fort, attack the Chalukyas and liberate Mahendra Pallavar. Unfortunately for Naganandi, Mahendra Pallavar himself arrives just then and imprisons him. He then gives a rousing speech, motivating the Ministers’ Council and the chieftains of the provinces and forts and enlists their support for his plans.

A guard rushes in and informs the Court that a cloud of dust heralding the arrival of the Vatapi army had been seen on the horizon. Mahendra Pallavar commands Paranjyothi to escort the chieftains of provinces and forts outside the Kanchi Fort and to demolish the last surviving bridge.

The siege of Kanchi begins.

The siege of Kanchi lasted for 8 months !! The Pallava emperor Mahendra Varmar was simply brilliant …. he demoralised Pulikesi’s massive army with his disguises and messages. He even meets Pulikesi in the disguise of Vajrabahu. The next book describes how Pulikesi calls for a truce despite outnumbering the Pallava army by a huge number (500,000 soldiers Vs 100,000 of the Pallava army).

The more I read Kalki’s books, the more am amazed at some of the empires of TamilNadu. The Pandiyan empire traces its origins to Shiva and Madurai Meenakshi !. Narasimha Pallava is amongst the few Kings who remain undefeated throughout their lives. Jainism and Buddhism flourished in TamilNadu. Fascinating history.

… And then to think of the Dravidian dumeels that we deal with now 😔. What a fall from a glorious past. Note – Dumeels means idiots. The word is a much needed modern creation to describe the jokers we have in TamilNadu today.

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