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 awai and the highwayman

Awai traveled 7Iy from one place to another, delighting kings princes and the pith her verses. She did not, however, stay at one place for very long. All lungs ana princes of the Tamil-speaking world knew her well and she counseled them on many important twitters. Avvaiyar once went to meet Pari, the ruler of a small kingdom, with its palace atop a hill. The part was, at the time, preoccupied with the affairs of the state and did not have enough time for her. After a few days, Avvaiyar expressed her desire to leave. ‘So soon?’ Pan seemed surprised, and added, ‘I haven’t had the time to talk to you or listen to your poems. Please stay for a few more days and then I will be free to do that.’

But Avvaiyar insisted on leaving and no amount of persuasion could stop her. Sadly, Part gave in and ordered a large bag of gifts to be brought. He hung the bag on Avvaiyar’s shoulder and bade her goodbye. Avvaiyar stepped out of the fort with the heavy bag on her shoulder and descended the hill. After she had walked for an hour, she saw that the path led into a jungle.

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The bag was heavy and she was a little angry with Pan. He did not usually send her on foot when she had something to carry and always arranged for her transport. ‘He is perhaps irritated with me for leaving when he did not want me to,’ she thought.

awai and the highwayman

Suddenly, there came the sound of horse’s hooves. In a few seconds, a masked bandit appeared before Avvaiyar, blocking her path. He snatched the hag from her at sword-point, turned his horse around and disappeared into the forest. Avvaiyar stood dazed and angry.

A bandit in the Land of Para! Unbelievable! Pad was a very able ruler and zealously guarded his people against such ills. But here in broad daylight. She had been robbed of her possessions! It was not only a lass to her but also an open affront to Pan. Avvaiyar decided that she would immediately report the matter to him.

Rari Smiled At Avvaiyar

Tracing her step; hack vigorously, Avvaiyar reached Pad’s fort, shocked and angry. Pad seemed surprised to see Avvaiyar back. ‘What is die matter, Avvaiyar?’ he asked. ‘You were in such a hurry to gu and now you are back!’ ‘Pad, I thought very highly of law and order in your kingdom,’ Avvaiyar said breathlessly. ‘But a bandit on horseback snatched the bag you had given me. They should never have happened in your kingdom. It is disgraceful; it is shocking.’

‘I am very sorry that such a thing happened in my kingdom,’ said Pari. `I will make sure the culprit is found. Meanwhile, please calm yourself and he seated. I will now compensate you for what you have lost.’ So saying, Pari went inside and brought something on a silver platter. It was covered with a piece of cloth. He presented it to Avvaiyar and when the poetess removed the cloth, she saw die the same bag that had been snatched away from her in the jungle!

Avvaiyar could not believe her eyes. Was it possible that the robber had been caught so soon and the bag so quickly recovered?

Rari smiled at Avvaiyar, his eyes twinkling with mischief, ‘You got your hag, now do you want to meet the robber?’ Sn saying, he put on a mask and the bandit stood in front of Avvaiyar! ‘You must forgive me, Avvaiyar, for playing a trick on you,’ he said quietly, removing the mask. ‘I wanted you to stay with me a few more days. But you were bent upon leaving. I saw no other way to bring you to hack immediately. Are you upset with me?’ Words failed Avvaiyar. Her hands gently reached for Pares while tears of tenderness trickled down her cheeks.

The Nobel Heart of athiyaman

Ice during his wanderings over the highest mountains of his kingdom, kthiyaman, the famous king•chief of the Velir clan, noticed a Nelli or amla rte growing in the crevice of a steep rock. It was of a special kind, yielding fruit once in twelve years. The fruit was believed to contain rare properties that prolonged the life of the eater.

Access to the tree was difficult, for there were big boulders around, and the mere slip of a foot could send one hurtling down hundreds of meters into the valley. Athiyaman climbed the boulders with great difficulty and reached the tree. He looked for the fruits, but there was only one. He climbed the tree, plucked the fruit and took it down with him very carefully. The fruit would give him a long life and he could enjoy the glory of his conquests for many more years. Athiyaman returned to his palace with the fruit, but he did not eat it at once. After dinner and an hour of rest, he thought it was the proper time for him to eat the rare prize.

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Tamil Stories’  He sat down to cut it, and just then his friend Avvaiyar came to see him. Anyone who possessed such a rarity would have instinctively put it away to be eaten after the visitor left. Athiyaman, however, did not do that. The Nelli fruit lay on the plate right in front of Avvaiyar. They were glad to see each other and talked of many things. While they were talking, Athiyaman casually pushed the plate in front of Avvaiyar.

The Noble Heart of athiyaman

Thondaiman and his armoury

man, the chieftain of Thagadur, was a formidable soldier. He had it a number of powerful kings and emerged victorious in all the battles. commanding power was such that even with a small army he was able to rout larger ones on many occasions. Even the three crowned kings of the Tamil country acknowledged his greatness and avoided confrontations with him. One of Athiyaman’s neighboring kings was Thondaiman – inexperienced in warfare, but with very great ambitions. l le desired to carve out a path of military glory for himself. He knew of Athiyaman’s strengths but thought that with a large army and excellent weapons.

Athiyaman’s small army could be overpowered. So Thondaiman began to build up a large fighting force and a well-equipped armory. Athiyaman came to know of these military preparations of his neighbor. He knew very well that Thundaiman could not last a single day against him, and he did not like unnecessary bloodshed. He pitied Thondaiman and thought of discouraging him from his military adventurism.

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To avoid wounding Thondaiman’s pride, he chose Avvaiyar the poet as his emissary instead of sending a diplomatic mission. Avvaiyar was loved and respected by all the Tamil kings. She could visit any of them any time and give them wise counsel without being thought of as an intruder. Avvaiyar traveled to Thondaiman’s kingdom and reached his castle. All along the way, she racked her brains about how to fulfill her delicate mission without offending or provoking Thondaiman, but she could not think of a way of doing it. Thondaiman received Avvaiyar with great warmth. He entertained her well and gave a fine feast in her honor. They talked about many things, but Avvaiyar was unable to find an opening to carry out her mission.

Thondaiman and his armoury

What a wonderful collection of arms

After some time Thondaiman took Avvaiyar to his armory. He had built it up over many years and was very fond of displaying it. It was indeed a very fine arsenal — a very impressive sight with a large quantity of dazzling, formidable weapons. All of them were arranged in neat rows. There were thousands of bows, arrows, spears, lances, javelins, swords, cutlasses, daggers, shields, clubs, CMGS of mail and more. They were of excellent steel and very fine workmanship all newly made.

well-oiled, highly polished and razor-sharp. Avvaiyar viewed them admiringly and in her mind. She started comparing them with the oft-used weapons of Athiyaman. All of a sudden she saw her opportunity and knew. What she would say to Thondaiman. Pleased with himself, Thoclaiman turned to Avvaiyar with great pride. ‘What do you think of these weapons?’ he asked. His voice was boastful and held a veiled challenge to Athiyaman. Avvaiyar smiled. ‘What a wonderful collection of arms!’

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she began. ‘It is really very awe-inspiring to look at these newly made weapons, oiled and polished and in fine array. I have never seen an armory of this magnitude. Athiyatnan’s weapons are certainly no match for these. Having seen many a rugged battle, his weapons are blunted, bent or broken.

Clashing with enemy weapons a hundred times, they have lost all their polish. Having maimed many an enemy soldier, they too have become disfigured. And they are not kept in orderly rows like this. Coming straight from a recent victorious battlefield, they lie scattered in the swordsmith’s workshops, waiting to be mended and sharpened for the next encounter. They can never compare favorably with your fine-looking unused weapons.’ Avvaiyar said this as casually as possible, but Thondaiman caught her meaning. His boastful attitude vanished, and he hung his head in silence. Avvaiyar’s message had gone home.

Pari and the jasmine vines

pari was one of the princes in the ancient land tithe, Tamil people. He ruled over the Parambu kingdom a small territory surrounding the Parambu hill, un top of which he had his royal castle. Pan was not only a valiant soldier but a man of great generosity. In fact, most of the Tamil kings and chieftains possessed generous qualities. Giving was considered the greatest virtue in those days.

It was a shame to say no to anyone who asked for something. Minstrels and poets visited the courts of kings, sang beautiful songs and were rewarded richly so that they might pursue their vocation without any worries.

Pan is listed by the poets as one of the seven great givers of ancient Tamil Nadu. He was very sensitive and full of love and concern for all living beings.

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The great nature-poet Kapilar was his friend. Avvaiyar the famous woman poet visited him very often. The courtyard of his palace was always crowded with poets and minstrels who came for rewards. They were welcomed most heartily and were treated to rich food and delicious drinks.

Elephants and chariots were given away as presents. Pan moved amid them and hobnobbed with them all. His land was fertile. Trees and shrubs grew all over the hill country.

The hill itself was dense with forests where jackfruits and mangoes abounded, edible roots grew wild and large beehives hung from trees. On the outskirts of the hill, karathal (glory lily) and jasmine bloomed. The emerald green jasmine vines with their tiny white flowers, climbing, and twining on the shrubs and trees, were a beautiful sight.

Pari loved those jasmines

The  Tamil Stories’ sweet fragrance of jasmine and other wildflowers filled the air in the evening and it was a joy to walk through the shady bowers on the mountain path. Pari loved those jasmines with great tenderness. He then walked amidst them and was carried away by their beauty and singular fragrance. One day Pari was returning to his castle from a visit to the countryside. He himself was driving his royal chariot drawn by two splendid homes. The horses went up the mountain path in a trot and Pari was looking from side to side, admiring the wonderful mountainscape. Suddenly his heart seemed to stop. He had seen something that disturbed him. He pulled at the reins and stopped the horses, leaped from the chariot and hurried towards the thing that had disturbed him.

It was a cluster of jasmine vines lying limp on the ground. Someone had hacked down and taken away the tree that had served as a support for the vines, without which the tender vines had dropped to the ground. The hot sun was beating down on them and they were wilting. Pan could not bear the sight. How could he leave the fresh green vines there to wither and he trampled upon by (hissing cattle?

Hissing cattle

He looked around. There was nor a tree nor shrub within the reach of the vines. Then suddenly Parrs’s eyes caught sight of his own chariot and a tremor of joy passed through his heart. What an ideal support to the propless vines! Pad was jubilant. He walked towards the chariot, climbed on it and carefully drove it very close to the vines. He leaped down, took the vines one by one and entwined them around the four masts of the chariot and then spread them on the top. Soon, not a vine was left on the ground. The chariot Was completely covered by the climbing stalks. It would support them thereafter. The jasmine vines would live and thrive.

Pan stepped a few yards hack and viewed the vines as an artist would view his handiwork. He felt greatly satisfied. With a wonderful lightness of heart, he unharnessed the horses and !rapt on one of them. Leading the other by the rein, he trotted towards his castle.

 
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