The noon prayer service was underway at the sanctum of the renowned Ekambareshwarar temple. The clanging of the temple bells and the sound of trumpets announced this. Countless people thronged the main entrance of the temple and the street that led to the main entrance as the Pallava Chakravarthy, accompanied by his family, was visiting the temple. Ekambaranathar’s sanctum had never looked so beautiful before. The crowns and ornaments worn by the royalty shone brilliantly in the light cast by the illuminated silver kuthuvilakkus[i]. The men and women of the royal family were assembled on either sides of the sanctum.
The Chakravarthy of the Pallava Empire majestically stood ahead of everyone else, sporting the crown worn by his ancestors for the last six hundred years. Even while praying to the Lord with his arms folded and eyes closed, the eminence of his ancient royal lineage was evident. He was flanked on both sides by the Prince of Lanka, Manavanaman, and Paranjyothi. Another scion of the Pallava Dynasty who had lost Vengi Nadu to Pulikesi and had sought refuge at Kanchi, Achutha Varman, stood humbly beside Paranjyothi. Standing behind him were Sembian Vallavan of the Chola Dynasty and the true descendant of Achutha Vikranthan, Vajrabahu. Further behind the Pallava Kingdom’s Prime Minister – Saranga Deva Bhattar, Chief Minister – Ranadheera Pallavarayar, members of the Ministers’ Council and the Chiefs of Kottams stood in close proximity.
The women assembled on the other side appeared to be various embodiments of the Goddess of Beauty. Leading the women was the Chief Consort of the late Mahendra Chakravarthy, Bhuvana Mahadevi whose divine form was tranquility and devotion personified. Next to her stood Mamalla Chakravarthy’s consort, the daughter of the Pandya King, Vanama Devi. Close to the Chakravarthini stood Princess Kundavi Devi, who was surveying the area with her dark eyes.
Next to Vanama Devi stood a devoted, virtuous and beautiful eighteen year old maiden named Mangayarkarasi, daughter of the scion of the Kodumbalur[ii] Chola dynasty - Sembian Vallavan. Later on she married Pandian Nedumaran, invited Gnanasambandar[iii] to Madurai and won indelible fame amongst Sivanadiyars[iv]. Several other women in the anthapuram were also present.
The resonant sound of the temple bells, trumpets, conches and melams[v] echoed in unison across the expansive mandapams of the temple. These resounding sounds signified that deeparadhanai[vi] was being performed to Lord Ekambareshwarar. Amidst these sounds, ecstatic devotees chanting “Namo Parvathi Pathaye[vii]!” and “Hara Hara Mahadeva!” were heard.
When the deeparadhanai was being performed, several stood devotedly with their palms folded. It was amusing to watch Prince Mahendran and Princess Kundavi emulating the adults by vigorously patting their cheeks. At the conclusion of the deeparadhanai, the Kumara Sivachariar[viii] stepped out of the sanctum with some vibhuti. He stood next to the Sivachariar and chanted in a loud voice,
“Tripurantakar, who defied the march of death, destroyed the three malevolent rulers along with their abodes, tore apart the elephant-headed demon and made a garment of his skin and found to carry fire eternally in his third eye, shall bless Pallavendrar to ensure his complete victory. You will succeed in annihilating Pulikesi along with his abode Vatapi and return as an invincible warrior. Victory will be surely yours.”
The Sivachariar then handed over the vibhuti to Mamallar, who received it with devotion and applied it to his forehead. When Mamallar was acting thus, the flame of the lamp that was placed next to the Shiva Lingam burned even more brightly. A spark emitted by the brightly burning lamp fell to the ground with a rustling sound. The spark glowed brightly for sometime and was finally extinguished. As everyone assembled there felt that this was a good omen indicating that the Chakravarthy will be successful in his expedition, they cheered, “Jaya Vijayibhava!” and “Hara Hara Mahadeva!” The sanctum, artha mandapam and maha mandapam[ix] reverberated with the sound of people cheering. When the news of the Pallavendrar obtaining Lord Ekambareshwarar’s sanction for the expedition spread to the people who had congregated in the outer mandapams, praharam and the streets surrounding the temple, they cheered heartily, “Hara Hara Mahadeva!” One man remained silent and did not join the others in raising victory slogans, the sounds of which drowned the city of Kanchi. He was the Pallava Chakravarthy’s charioteer, Kannabiran.