Friday, October 4, 2013

Nandhini - The Mysterious

Spoliers Ahead - If you have not already read Ponniyin Selvan and you intend to read it, this post gives away key story points. If you have not read Ponniyin Selvan already and don't intend to, please go ahead and read the post - maybe it will motivate you to read the epic!

The country was mourning. Mourning the death of their bravest son. Men, women and children were beyond consolation; the houses in the cities and villages bore a lifeless look; the animals wore a look of despair; even the birds seemed to be singing a sorrowful tune.

The eldest son of their king - Aditya - the prince who recognized no fear, the warrior who was capable of guiding his army to victory against the mightiest of enemies, the handsome prince who, by now, should have married a beautiful princess and ruled the country - is gone forever from the wicked world, under the most mysterious circumstances in living memory.

She stood there, as one among at least another thousand people watching Aditya being cremated. She couldn't help but think of the irony, as she remembered begging for another man's life from Aditya, even falling at his feet - a wish that was not granted by Aditya. And now, the mighty Aditya was gone.

Even as she grew up as the daughter of a priest, in a religious household, she always knew from within that she was a princess. She knew that she was the daughter of a brave king, supposed to be brought up in a palace but somehow was growing up in the wrong family. She felt more like a Kshatriya than like a Brahmin. When was 12 years old, she was taken to a big palace to play along with the kids of the Chola king. 

The king's eldest son Aditya, blinded by the deadly combination of her sheer beauty and his innocent adolescence, fell in love with her. The king's daughter, Kundavai, hailed by the entire kingdom as the most intelligent woman in the world even when she was barely 10 years old, was burning with jealousy as her brother liked Nandhini more than he liked her. And as with all adolescent girls, she could not take it that Nandhini was more beautiful than her. Even though she knew it from within, she wouldn't accept the fact.

This resulted in Nandhini being isolated from all the games Kundavai and her friends would play; she was always gossiped about. She felt exactly how any girl her age would - vengeful. As life took its own mysterious path, she ended up having to beg for the life of the man she loved from Aditya, a man who loved her to the point of obsession. As her wish remained unfulfilled, she swore to herself more to destroy the Chola legacy. All the pent up hatred and anger made her marry the sexagenarian patriarch of the Pazhuvoor dynasty - Periya Pazhuvettarayyar.

She was again a part of the same Chola family she was isolated by; only to be humiliated more by Kundavai, who had, by now, grown into the most celebrated princess in the history of the Chola dynasty. Kundavai was, by relation, the granddaughter of  Periya Pazhuvettarayyar. And by marrying him, Nandhini had become her grandmother. Not a chance was spared by her to ridicule Nandhini, by calling her Paati - the Tamil equivalent of grandmother.

She bore all the injustice meted out to her with patience and resilience. She had her eyes set on one thing and one thing only - to destroy the Chola dynasty and seek revenge for everything she had to lose, everything she had to go through. Subconsciously, she knew she was the Pandya princess, who should ideally have grown up in a palace, living a life of luxury; and certainly not be the object of ridicule to the extremely-proud-of-her-lineage Kundavai. She should have married Aditya and rule the Chola kingdom as a queen. Instead, here she was, being humiliated at every given chance and being called the "temptress" that seduced Periya Pazhuvettarayyar, giving rise to a lot of nasty comments about her.

On that fateful night, as she touched and held the highly bejeweled Pandya sword that shone brighter than the sun in her trembling hands, she had every idea of putting an end to Aditya's life. After all, she had sworn that she would do it in front of the group of trusted Pandya associates who had been helping her in making the Pandya dream a reality. She was burning from inside reliving those horrible days of humiliation and ridicule in her attempt to forget the fact that she still loved Aditya and wanted to be with him for the rest of her life. She was waiting for him in her quarters, making detailed mental notes about what she should talk to him about. But when he entered the room, she forgot everything she had prepared. Even with the sword in her hand, she was shivering with fear at the intensity of her revenge.

Little did she know that Aditya was still unmarried because he sincerely loved her. As he went on about a life together with her, she could not help but wail from within. She wanted to hold him and never let him go away. She wanted to elope with him to a far off island and live a life of peace of happiness. But she didn't want to commit the same mistake her mother made - that of falling in love with a  prince. Unable to listen to the uninhibited words of Aditya, she froze all her senses and focussed on one thing. Revenge.

As the lights went out, she heard Aditya scream - his last scream ever. She had no idea how that happened. In came the man who wore sixty-four battle scars proudly on his body; the man who had sworn to behead himself before he would let a member of Chola king's family die. He looked at Nandhini in horror. Horrified of what his wife, a woman who is supposed to share his principles, had done. He could not even begin to imagine the intensity of her betrayal. But he also realized that he still loved her. It was a love that nobody could understand; a love so pure and so intense that nothing Nandhini could do would make him hate her.

Nandhini realized the intensity of  Periya Pazhuvettarayyar's love for her when he accepted that he was the one who killed Aditya in order to make Aditya's uncle Madhurantaka the heir apparent. It was then that Nandhini realized that whatever she had wanted had been with her all along in the form of  Periya Pazhuvettarayyar. After marrying him, she lived the life of a queen, in luxury and freedom. She had a man who would literally kill for her. She had a man who worshipped the path she walked on, a man who took care of her like she was a flower, a man who wanted nothing from her but her love.

As she stood there watching Aditya's funeral, she shed tears like none other because she had not recognized  Periya Pazhuvettarayyar's love earlier. And now it was too late. 


  1. A very sad and absorbing story.!! Very beautifully penned..Sandy.

  2. Thank you Usha... It is not a story, in fact. It is an attempt at a character sketch from the Tamil epic "Ponniyin Selvan". Try to read it in English (translations are available).

  3. Super observation. Big fan of aadhithya nandhini

  4. From the story it is not clear as to whether Aditya was indeed killed by Nandhini. It appears that Kalki did not want to implicate Nandhini directly in the murder. It is true that ultimately Periya Pazhuvettarayyar owns responsibility for the killing. But that is to exonerate Vandhiyathdevan. So the puzzle remains who actually killed Aditya? Like so many others......

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