Volume 3 Chapter 4: The Envoy From Vengi

After Jayanta Varman’s departure, Pulikesi looked at his commanders and said, “Fortune does not just favour the mighty but also the meek! Ever since that Pallava fox hid himself inside the fort, this Pandya cat has become very ambitious! The Pandian wants to become the Emperor of South India on par with the Emperor of North India, Harshavardhana, and me, the Emperor of Central India! His avarice is unbelievable! Let us first capture the Kanchi Fort. Then we will teach this weakling a lesson before returning to Vatapi”. As Pulikesi finished talking, the sound of horses swiftly approaching the army camp was heard. The Chalukya Commander who was leading the siege of the Kanchi Fort had sent an urgent message through emissaries, who were accompanied by an envoy from Vengi. Pulikesi commanded that they be brought to him immediately. The leader of the emissaries sent by the Commander and the envoy from Vengi was brought to Pulikesi.

The envoy from Vengi had sustained heavy injuries and sported several bandages. Both the messengers prostrated before the Emperor. The Commander’s messenger said, “Prabhu! He is carrying an important message from Vengi. Apparently, some people tried to way lay him en route to Kanchi. He fought with them and escaped. To ensure that he faces no danger while coming here, the Commander sent me and seven other warriors as escorts.” Then the envoy from Vengi took out the message he had carefully placed in the case of his sword and deferentially handed it over to the Emperor.

Pulikesi accepted the message and looked at the interpreter present in his assembly. The interpreter quickly stepped forward, respectfully took the message and read as follows: “Respectful greetings to the Emperor of the Three Realms, King Satyacharya Pulikesi, from your brother, Vishnuvardhanan. I received no news from you ever since you reached Kanchi. Neither has there been any response to the several messages I sent. I wonder whether my messages reached you at all.

As commanded by you, my coronation was held under the auspices of Guru Pujya Pathar. However, our difficulties are not yet over. The Vengi army is hiding in the mountains and troubling us. There is discontentment amongst the citizens. There’s another amazing piece of news! Mahendra Varmar’s uncle son, Buddha Varman has cropped up from nowhere with a large army. It seems that he is threatening to stop me if I cross the southern banks of the Krishna River and come to assist you.

I have not yet fully recovered from the injuries I had sustained during the Vengi Battle. I am becoming progressively weaker and am even unable to mount a horse. There’s a more important piece of information than all this. Before hiding himself in the fort, apparently Mahendra Pallavan had sent a message seeking the assistance of the Emperor of North India. There is a rumour that Harshavardhanar is planning to invade Asalpuram and Vatapi since you and I are stuck in Kanchi and Vengi respectively. A traveller who was headed to the Nagarjuna Mountain from Kanyakubja said so. The rumour is that Harshavardhanar is planning to invade us as he is keen to view the paintings at the Ajantha Caves.

In this situation, I am keen to know what your orders for me are. If you were to order me to come immediately along by my army, I am prepared to act accordingly. You are a loving brother, father, Guru, King and a dear friend to me. Your command is of greater importance to me than God’s command. My body and soul are ready to be of service to you at any moment. I beseech you not to let me languish in doubt and confusion for a long time and to unequivocally command me to do something definitive.”

When the interpreter read the above message, Pulikesi’s eyes emitted sparks of anger as he listened to the beginning of the message. Then he heaved deep sighs like a spellbound cobra. When he listened to the concluding part of the message, he shed copious tears. He howled, “I wonder when I’m going to see my dear brother Vishnuvardhanan again!” None of the commanders seated in the assembly attempted to console him! All of them were concerned that there may be disastrous consequences should they say something.

Suddenly Pulikesi stopped complaining, wiped away his tears and roared like a lion, “Who is the astrologer who computed the auspicious day for the initiation of this invasion? Has he come with us?” One of the commanders said, “He has not come with us. He stayed back in Vatapi”. “In that case, do remember this. Our first task when we return to Vatapi is to get an elephant to trample the astrologer!” said Pulikesi. At that time, a man who was bound by ropes was brought to Pulikesi’s presence. It seemed as though he was brought in for the express purpose of becoming a victim of Pulikesi’s anger. Pulikesi roared, “Who is he? Who is he?” The leader of the messengers who had come from Kanchi said, “Prabhu! He is a spy from Kanchi. We met him on the way here. We tied him up and brought him along”. “Aha! It seems as though this cursed Pallava Kingdom is inhabited by no one but spies. Good! Get an elephant to trample him instead of the astrologer!” said Pulikesi. The man who was sentenced to such a harsh punishment is already known to us. But he was not the rustic Gundodharan we previously knew. He was wearing fashionable clothes. It seemed as though he was not unduly disturbed by Pulikesi’s command!

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