Volume 3 Chapter 3: Treaty

The Vatapi Emperor and the Pandya King soon became intimate friends. Pulikesi invited Jayanta Varman to visit the northern banks of Kollidam and to be his guest for some time. Jayanta Varman accepted the invitation and went to the northern banks with his key ministers. Pulikesi not only showered lavish hospitality on Jayanta Varman but also impressed him by showing the four divisions of his army. After an extravagant feast, archers, swordsmen and wrestlers of the Vatapi army demonstrated their respective skills before the two kings. 

Then Vatapi’s court poet sang laudatory verses that he had suitably composed for the occasion. The Pandya King and the other vassals seemed mesmerized when the Vatapi court poet described the march of the ocean-like Vatapi army to the South, a scared Mahendra Pallavan hiding with his pond-like army within the Kanchi Fort, the Vatapi Emperor marching further south to see the beautiful Kaveri River, the immense joy the Vatapi Emperor experienced on meeting the Pandya Emperor, how the flow of the Kaveri River was interrupted when the elephants stood across the river to form a bridge and how the water levels in the Kaveri River rose when the frenzied elephants’ fell in the river.  Finally, it was time for Jayanta Varma Pandian to bid farewell to Pulikesi. He said, “Satyacharya! After defeating the Pallavan and capturing Kanchi, you should not directly return to Vatapi. You must visit Madurai before you return!” Those days, Madurai was the most famous city in South India after Kanchi. It was Jayanta Varman’s intention to showcase Madurai’s glory and to impress Pulikesi.

Hearing this, Pulikesi sighed. “Yes, I have been yearning to see Madurai for a long time. The bikshu who had written about Kanchi had also described Madurai. But…” The Pandya King interrupted saying, “I intended asking you about the bikshu. Where is he? I expected him to accompany you”. “We have no news about the bikshu! I wanted to enquire you about him. Didn’t he visit Madurai? What happened there? What did he tell you before leaving? Where did he say he was headed to?” asked the Vatapi King.

Jayanta Varman said that the Bikshu’s visit to Madurai had coincided with his father’s demise. The Bikshu was imprisoned in the confusion that prevailed after his father’s death. Jayanta Varman had released the bikshu after his coronation. Jayanta Varman further said: “As soon as the bikshu was released, he asked me if the Vatapi army had reached Kanchi. He was greatly shocked when I informed him that the Vatapi army was still at the banks of the North Pennai River. He asked me to come along with my army to the banks of the Kollidam River and said that he would proceed ahead of me. Didn’t he meet you after he was freed?” “No, I find that surprising. I wonder if on account of that fool, Durvineethan, both of them met with a mishap. There is no news. I feel maimed in the absence of the bikshu” said Pulikesi.

The Pandian responded, “Yes. I developed immense respect for the bikshu after moving with him for just a few days. But why did that Ganga Nadu King rush towards Kanchi and get captured? Durvineethan’s actions were in complete contradiction to what the bikshu had told me. The bikshu had said that I ought to be present at the banks of the Kollidam River should Mahendra Pallavan try to escape southwards and that he had made arrangements for Durvineethan to act likewise should Mahendra Pallavan flee westwards. In this situation, why did Durvineethan have to march towards Kanchi in a rush? Due to this, he gave the Pallavan the opportunity to trumpet his victory at the Pullalur Battle as though it was a significant achievement. It is because of this the citizens of the Pallava and Chola kingdoms are feeling so proud!”

“Durvineethan’s behaviour is a big mystery! We don’t know for certain whether he is alive or dead. If we come to know about him, we may also be able to trace the bikshu’s whereabouts. But all the residents in the despicable villages of the Pallava Kingdom claim to know nothing. This enrages me so much that I feel like torching down all the villages in the Pallava Kingdom and reducing everything to ashes!” When Pulikesi said this, his already red eyes emitted sparks of fire.

“Yes, I too heard about everything. It seems that the citizens of the Pallava Kingdom broke down all the dams and did not cultivate any crops during summer this year. They complain of famine in all the villages. It seems that they have hidden all the grains and complain of food scarcity and hunger! Wicked people!” said the Pandian. “I know how to counter their wickedness. I also know how to extract the grains out of them. I don’t want to engage in such acts now”.

“I too ought to teach a lesson to the haughty citizens of Chola Nadu one day. I am waiting for the Kanchi Fort to fall…Never mind! Weren’t you enquiring about Durvineethan? I recollect my spies telling me something. I will enquire them right away” said Jayanta Varman, summoned the chief of his spy force and enquired.

The chief of the Pandya spies said: “When our army had crossed Kaveri and was approaching Kollidam, we heard about the Pullalur Battle. I immediately dispatched a few spies to find out what the matter was. It seems that the defeated Ganga Nadu King fled southwards. The breach in the Thirupaar Kadal dam prevented Mamallar from advancing further. So the Ganga Nadu King was able to cross the South Pennai River and seek refuge at the Jain seminary at Patalipuram. Then we don’t exactly know what happened. Few people said that the Chief of the Thirukovalur Kottam attacked the Jain seminary, razed it to the ground and imprisoned the Ganga Nadu King. It is also said that he is imprisoned in the mountains to the south of Thirukovalur.”

Then both the kings held discussions and formulated the following strategy. Pulikesi agreed to return to Kanchi and intensify the siege of the Kanchi Fort. The Pandya King agreed to supply the necessary food to the Vatapi army till the siege of the Kanchi Fort lasted. Once the water levels in Kollidam recede, the Pandian would cross the river with his army and capture the area up to the South Pennai River. They agreed to capture the Chief of the Thirukovalur Kottam, accord harsh punishment to him and free Durvineethan if he was imprisoned in the mountains there and send him back. If Jayanta Varman offered all this assistance, Pulikesi would acknowledge him as the Emperor of the region stretching from Kanyakumari to the South Pennai River. After having concluded a treaty that was satisfactory to both parties, Jayanta Varman took leave of the Vatapi Emperor and returned to the southern banks of Kollidam.

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