Proudly i can say that Ponni’s Beloved by author (Sumeetha Manikandan) is a book which reminded me of my grandmas story. Sweet memories which are cherishable.
Though this book is a translation of a famous masterpiece that has enthralled generations of Tamil readers, the readers for sure will get lost in the majestic rich heritage of chola kingdom. While the book has lot of political angles, many different plots in the story are nicely intermingled and described.
The author has made good attempt to appease the readers by interjecting different bit of information since non Tamil readers might not be aware of some of the literature. As the story flows, the author makes sure that they give some more background to the readers who are not aware of the details. For example the details on ‘about the history of the Chola Kings to understand the rest of this story’
The books story revolves around the history of tamil nadu at the time when the great dynasties of chola was flourishing and how different greate structures of LORD siva/vishnu were being built despite buddhism/jainism religion had a headstart. I was able to recall some of my visits to Thanjavur, Mamallapuram and other heritage sites in tamil nadu as i was engrossed in reading Ponni’s Beloved
As I start reading the story, I realised it majorly based on the observations of character vandiya devan (also called Vallavareyan or Kudandhai Jodhidar) that enlightens the readers. But later on more perspectives of different characters are also bought in throughout the story.
Some highlights that remain me with me after reading this book are
- Enormous religious movement happening in South India. Different Debates among Azhvars(great devotees of Vishnu), Nayanmars(great devotees of siva) and Advaita Sanyasis(disciples of Adi Shankaracharya)
- How Azhvars(great devotees of Vishnu) and Nayanmars(great devotees of siva) fought with each other, travelled from one place to another singing/composing beautiful songs and played a vital role in building and renovating many temples in Tamil Nadu ( I guess the ancient Tamil Nadu would have been bigger than present day Tamil Nadu)
- Pallipadai : Enormous structures/temples built to honour war heroes such for great kings
- Different twists and turns played by men/women of Cholas, Pandyas, Pallava dynastry
- Battle scars taken up by kings with proud appreciation. King Vijayalaya from Chola kingdom had 99 battle scars in his body
- Battles such as the Battle of Waterloo or The Wars of Panipat have changed the course of history. But in tamil history it was battle fought near Thirupurampayam that changed the course of Tamil history.
Well i am still feeling the end of story in Ponni’s Beloved has not yet been reached. Would be interested to know what further twists are there in the life of Vandiya Devan or Vallavareyan. I am hoping this is just the beginning and i can get to read more of Kalki Krishnamurthy’s Ponniyin Selvan books along with other phenomenal traditional/literature stories that are common in different households/culture.