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Historical novel

UDAIYAAR — Part III: Balakumaran; Thirumagal Nilaiyam, 16 (Old No. 55), Venkatnarayana Road, T. Nagar, Chennai-600017. Rs. 225.

THIS NOVEL, throws a flood of light not only on the political, social and religious conditions of South India during the reign of the imperial Cholas, but also on the architectural excellence, cultural values and aesthetic enjoyment of the medieval Tamils. Balakumaran has made the narrative realistic, lively and readable. The hero of this historical novel is Rajaraja Chola I, the great empire builder and also the grand temple builder. Among his many queens, Panchavan Mahadevi, the daughter of the Pazhuvur chieftain, a loyalist to the royal family of the Cholas, has been accorded a unique position and her manifold active roles in the transactions of the Chola administration have made her the heroine of the narrative.

It is curious to note that the inspiring events of Arunmozhi Devan's (who later became Rajaraja I) youthful days, wandering from place to place in disguise, gathering valid information to wreck vengeance against the culprits Ravidasan and Paramesvaran, the Chera official enjoying prestigious position at the court of Uttamachola, responsible for the assassination of Aditya Karikala, his elder brother and heir-apparent to the throne, are touchingly portrayed in the later portion of the novel.

His military expedition to the Chera kingdom and destruction of the ships at Kanthalursaalai and return with the booty after the subjugation of the Chera king are interestingly related. In the earlier sections the main activities of Rajaraja associated with the construction of the marvellous Brahadeeswara temple in Thanjavur, the citadel of the Chola empire and solemnised as Rajarajesvaram by the hymns of Karuvur Devar, his spiritual guide are splendidly depicted.

In the course of the novel, the novelist narrates Rajaraja's successful efforts with the help of Nambiandar Nambi in the retrieval of the Tirumurai hymns from the closed chambers in Chidambaram Nataraja shrine, which culminated in the revival of Saivism and Bhakti traditions. It would have been better if enough attention had been paid to avoid the printing mistakes seen in almost all pages of the novel, leave alone some factual errors such as the reasons adduced to the construction of the big temple in Thanjavur.

S. N. KANDASWAMY

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