That night, neither Mahendra Pallavar nor his chief consort Bhuvana Mahadevi slept. They sat on the upper storey of the palace in the crystal clear light provided by the silver stars and spoke about the past and the future. “Devi! I never expected to face such humiliation during the last days of my life. My dreams have been shattered! How true is Political Science that states even a person’s most intimate friends abandon him during times of misfortune! Look at the stars twinkling in the sky! They used to praise me saying, “Mahendra! Is there anyone else on earth who is wiser than you? No one can match your philanthropy, virtuous character, ability to vanquish foes and appreciation of arts.” Now those very stars wink at me, laugh teasingly and ask “Mahendra! Does this humiliation suffice? Haven’t your cunning and strategizing come to naught when fate intervenes?”
As the Chakravarthini was aware that Mahendrar’s body and soul were grievously injured, she did not wish to hurt him further. However, she involuntarily spoke the following words. “Prabhu! How can we blame fate for the activities we undertake of our own volition?” Mahendrar smiled sadly and said, “No matter how shrewdly we humans act, fate does intervene and defeats our purpose. Fate appeared in the form of Sivakami to prevent me from achieving my goals!”
“Ah! Why do you blame that poor girl? What can she do?” asked the Pallava Queen sympathetically. “It is only fair that as a woman, you understand her situation and support her. But it is on account of Aayanar’s daughter that all my intentions have been thwarted. I have been trying to separate Sivakami from Mamallan. I adopted several ruses and ploys to achieve this. My ruses and ploys were futile; it was fate that finally emerged victorious.”
“Didn’t fate fulfill your objective? You made several arrangements to separate that girl from Mamallan. Fate came to your assistance and transported her to Vatapi. In this situation, why do you have to attempt to trace her and bring her back? I don’t understand your action!” said Bhuvana Mahadevi in a genuinely amazed tone.
“That is what I meant when I said that my action is a punishment for being a descendant of the ancient Pallava clan. Not bringing Sivakami back will cause an indelible slur to the Pallava Dynasty. Pulikesi will brag that he returned after defeating the Kanchi Pallavan. As long as Sivakami remains in Vatapi, the world will believe Pulikesi’s claims. Sivakami’s fame has spread far and wide from Lanka to Kanyakubhaj. I myself sent a message to Harshavardhanar inviting him to view the sculptures at Mamallapuram and watch Sivakami dance. What will the world think if Sivakami is imprisoned in Vatapi? Can there be a greater ignominy to the Pallava Dynasty?”
“Swami! Sometimes I have held the crown you wear in my hands. Its weight made me wonder how to bear this weight on your head. But in the last two to three years I have realized that the burden in bear in your heart is thousand times heavier than the burden on your head. It is so true when people refer to ‘Rajya Baram[i]’!” said the Chakravarthini emotionally.
“At one time I bore that burden very enthusiastically. Now that burden is imposing an unbearable weight on my heart. Devi! I used to build castles in the air till three years ago. Yes; I ignored the Kanchi Fort and built castles in the air. I thought that I could transform this world into heaven. I cursed all my ancestors in my heart. I regretted that they had unnecessarily spent their lives in warfare and bloodshed. I started building indestructible stone temples dedicated to all religions at Mamallapuram. As soon as the construction of temples was completed, I had intended to invite Harshavardhanar and Pulikesi. That Chalukya demon dashed all the castles I had built in the air to the ground. The fire he has set to the villages in Thondai Mandalam is not going to be extinguished soon. The disgrace to the Pallava Dynasty will not be erased till the Pallava forces invade Vatapi and defeat Pulikesi. If this is not achieved during my lifetime, it must be achieved during Mamallan’s lifetime.” “Prabhu! My brave son will definitely fulfill your wishes. He will erase the slur on the Pallava Dynasty!” declared Bhuvana Mahadevi proudly.