Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Honouring His Word - 'Paarthiban Kanavu'

If you help others achieve their goals, even if they clash with yours, do you win or lose?

Paarthiban Kanavi by Kalki is a fast-paced read. I suspect not many of my friends have read it or plan to read it, so I am taking the liberty to liberally sprinkle spoilers.

Paarthiba Chola is a vassal of Narasimha Pallava, with a dream of breaking free and reestablishing the Chola's lost glory. But alas, the 'titular lead' of the story dies in the beginning of the tale, fighting a battle with the mighty Pallavas. Narasimha Pallava, a wise and powerful king, seeks out the body of his dead rival incognito - maybe to make sure he is indeed dead, or to honour the brave king for having fought courageously. He finds the king breathing his last and promises that he will indeed help Paarthiban's son fulfill his dream.

And then though the story was very engrossing, a part of me sceptical. Why would a king go out of his way to help his vassal realise his dream through his son?

The ending took my breath away.

Narasimha Pallava declares Vikrama Chola, son of Paarthiba, free and also gets him married to his daughter Kundavi. But the author does not end the story there. Maybe he was also labouring with the question that kept intruding into my reading. Why indeed would Pallava pave the way for Cholas to become independent?

Because, even after doing that, Narasimha Pallava's reign continued to remain glorious. In fact, it would be another three hundred years before the Cholas would regain their glory and Pallava name would vanish into the annals of history. But during his reign, Narasimha's honourable act brought him greater name, fame and, most importantly, respect. He was not insecure because he trusted himself. Whether Vikrama was deserving or not - which he was - Narasimha had the vision, the generosity and the confidence needed in a king to know that he could hold on his own purely on his capabilities. Accepting an able man as his son-in-law and a near-equal gave him opportunities to expand his vision further, probably.

How relevant it is even today! If we lift someone up, do we risk going down or do we climb higher? That depends only on us, right?

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