Book Review – Sivakamiyin Sabadham Vol #3, The Bikshu’s Love

We left Vol #2 at a critical juncture, just when Kanchipuram’s siege begins. Book Review – Sivakamiyin Sabadham Vol 2, The Siege of Kanchi. While we got glimpses into Naganandi, the wandering Bikshu, in Vol 3, we see him for who he truly is and his love for Sivakami.

Bikshu's love - Sivakamiyin Sabadham

The Bikshu’s Love – Vol #3 summary

Despite the long siege, the Chalukyas are unable to make any headway. Lack of food makes them seek the help of Jayanta Varma Pandian. In return, Pulikesi offers him the region south of Kanchi, if they emerge victorious against the Pallavas.

A contingent of Chalukya soldiers from Kanchi, along with the envoy from Vishnuvardhanan and Gundodharan, whom they have imprisoned, reach Pulikesi’s camp. The message from Vishnuvardhanan angers Pulikesi as it is about Harshavardhanar’s plan to invade the Chalukya kingdom. After talking to the envoy, Pulikesi interrogates Gundodharan, who convinces Pulikesi that he is Naganandi’s messenger.

Naganandi’s so-called message emphasizes the untrustworthiness of the Pandian, the ambition of the Ganga Nadu King to replace Pulikesi with Vishnuvardhanan, the rumour of Harshavardhanar’s invasion plans and Mahendra Varmar’s secret message to Harshavardhanar. In addition, Naganandi advises Pulikesi to protect the sculptures at Mamallapuram and the sculptors of Pallava Nadu to avoid the wrath of Harshavardhanar, who is an art lover.

Gundodharan’s revelation about Mahendra Pallavar’s plan to impale the bikshus in the kingdom, acts as the last straw and Pulikesi decides to call for a truce. He also expresses his desire to visit Kanchi. Much against Mamallar’s wishes, Mahendrar concedes Pulikesi’s request and sends Mamallar southwards with an army to the banks of Kollidam River to punish Jayanta Varma Pandian.

Pulikesi, as state guest, gets a chance to watch Sivakami’s soul stirring dance. In an unguarded moment, Mahendrar reveals all the ruses he had employed to stall the Chalukya invasion. He also criticises Pulikesi’s indifferent attitude towards the arts. Meanwhile, Sivakami misunderstands Mahendrar’s motives. Helped by Kamali, she leaves Kanchi with her father through a secret tunnel.

Mahendrar’s revelations enrage Pulikesi who decides to resume his attack. This results in the burning of many villages in Pallava Nadu and the limbs of sculptors being amputated. Sivakami is taken as a prisoner to Vatapi. Naganandi saves Aayanar’s limbs from being amputated but the sculptor ends up with a maimed leg.

He returns heart-broken to his forest residence. Two battles are subsequently fought between the Pallavas and the Chalukyas. Mamallar and Paranjyothi, after defeating and chasing away Jayanta Varma Pandian, rush back to Kanchi. They defeat and push back the Chalukyas. But Mahendra Pallavar is injured in one of the battles and his condition is precarious.

Naganandi goes to Vengi to stabilize the situation as per Pulikesi’s request, but not without ensuring Sivakami’s safety. Though safe, Sivakami has to face humiliation and ill-treatment at the hands of Pulikesi. The self-respecting Sivakami takes an ominous oath of leaving Vatapi only after seeing the city being destroyed.

When Mahendra Pallavar recovers a little, he comes to know that the Chalukyas have abducted Sivakami. He commands Mamallar, Paranjyothi, Gundodharan, Shatrugnan, Kannabiran and Ashwabalar to head to Vatapi and bring Sivakami back surreptitiously. Mamallar visits Sivakami, who is housed in a palace at Vatapi.

In a meeting marred by misunderstanding, Mamallar pleads with her to return to Kanchi with him. But citing her vow as the reason, Sivakami refuses to accompany him. Meanwhile, Paranjyothi informs Mamallar that Naganandi is walking swiftly towards Sivakami’s house.

Accusing Sivakami of attempting to get them trapped by the Chalukyas, Mamallar leaves in a huff along with the others. When Mamallar returns to Kanchi, he finds Mahendra Pallavar on his deathbed. Mahendra Pallavar, despite his precarious condition, secures the Ministers’ Council approval for the Pallava army to invade Vatapi.

He then forces Mamallar to consent to something that he would not have agreed to under the normal circumstances.

There is a proverb in Tamil – நுணலும்தன் வாயால் கெடும் (Nunalum Than vayaal sedum). It means the frog would be alive if it could keep its mouth shut. The great Mahendra Varmar couldn’t stop himself from sharing all the ruses he used to keep Pulikesi away from Kanchi 🙁. That one mistake led to two battles and in one of those battles, Mahendra Varmar is fatally wounded :(.

Sivakami is abducted by Pulikesi and so many catastrophic events are set in motion. All because a great King couldn’t keep quiet. The Bikshu’s love manages to save Sivakami’s father and keeps her safe for the time being but that love endangers Mahendra Varmar.

Its a big lesson for everyone. We need to be careful about what we say, when we say it and to whom we say it. Not everyone wishes you well and while we may not have kingdoms to lose, our happiness and peace does get disturbed. Friendships are lost, sometimes relationships too….. due to a loose word, an untimely article and just the wrong tone.

Bikshu - Sivakamiyin Sabadham

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