Monday, November 07, 2005

Historical novel
THIRUMALAI THIRUDAN - The Thief of Thirumala (Tamil): Divakar; Narmada Padhippagam, 10, Nana Street, T. Nagar, Chennai-600017. Rs. 150.

Article by
Prema Nandakumar in the Hindu dt.16-08-2005
A second novel is a slippery step for all novelists, especially when it gets published immediately after the first one which had achieved a measure of success. Divakar's Vamsa Taara brought to light a talented historical novelist.
It had an effective base provided by the destruction of Kalinga in the 12th Century A.D. by Kulothunga I. Was it a trade war that had led to such deliberate savagery as recorded in Jayamkondar's Tamil classic, Kalingathu Parani?
Thirumalai Thirudan moves to the checkerboard of religion fielding a host of characters. It is obvious that Divakar has been able to chew the socio-historical material on hand with enviable care. We move to a time immediately preceding Kulothunga I when Athirajendra ruled over the vast Chola realm for a few months.
With his death the Vijayalaya dynasty of the Cholas came to an end. Athirajendra is said to have persecuted Ramanuja in the name of Saivism. Was that all? Were there other forces like the Kapalika-Kalamukha cults and an iconoclastic zeal that moved people to take extremist stances? How about the legend that Ramanuja had a hand in declaring Venkateswara as Vishnu? There is plenty to choose from in our history, legends and folklore. Add to it the angle of love by throwing in a very brave young man and a couple of princesses in distress. You have your basket full.
Divakar's imagination takes off like a raving whirlwind with Aghorenath revealing the nasty truth hidden by the pseudo-yaga of Bilvana, the Guru of the Chalukyas. It is an action-packed tale baked in the steam and storm of political intrigues with kidnappings galore.
There is ranting fury here and there with a set of people out to make a kill. Ha! the novelist has indeed spread his wily net to catch many a contemporary echo.
Bilvana proceeds to use a variety of people (Prince Vikrama, a vengeful princess, a Kapalika leader and the rest) to spread terror among the Brahmins and traditionalists.
The Saiva-Vaishnava controversy regarding Venkateswara is aired by him and vulgar demagoguery goes around masked as practical wisdom. Bilvana finds in the end that nothing fails like excess. Divakar's linking of Narsi Mehta's "Vaishnava Janato" with Ramanuja is beautiful.
He has also merged Andal's verses addressed to the conch with the conch of Venkateswara to achieve the transformation of Kartyayani into a devotee of Krishna.
With the intense Saivite Avantika also marrying the hero, we leave Kalingaraya (a.k.a. Naralokaveera) with his two wives to face the greater problem of achieving domestic peace. And we wish him well.


Post a Comment

<< Home