Ponniyin Selvan Chapter 13 – The Waxing Moon

Ponniyin selvan Part 1

The Astrologer led Vandiya Devan into the house after the
chariot carrying the princesses had disappeared from view.
He seated himself on his best seat. He asked the youth who
was looking around to sit down and examined him from
head to toe.
“Thambi, who are you? Where have you come?”
Vandiya Devan laughed.
“Why are you laughing, my son?”

“Nothing. You are such a famous astrologer. You ask me
such questions! Can you not find out by your astrology
about who I am and why I came here?”
“Oh! Is that so? I can find out. But if I find out and predict
things on my own behalf, I am wondering who will pay for
my services.”

Vandiya Devan smiled and then asked, “Sir! Those two
who came here before me, who are they?”
“Ah! Them? I realize whom you are asking about. I know
Thambi, I know. Are you not asking about the persons
who were in here when you dragged my disciple and made
a sudden entry into my house? You are asking about them
aren’t you? Those two, who left in that swift chariot raising
the road dust behind them, you are asking about them?”
said the Astrologer in a rambling fashion.

“Yes. Yes. I am asking about them…”
“OK. Ask. Ask as much as you wish. Who said not to ask?
Those two persons were two women!”
“That was obvious even to me! Sir, I am not blind. I can
differentiate between men and women. Even if it is a man
masquerading as a woman I can find out.”
“Then, why did you ask …”
“Women means, who are they, what kind? …”
“Oh ho! You are asking about that! According to the
science of beauty, women are classified into four kinds:
padmini, chittini, gandarvi, vidyadari. You seem to have
some expertise in the study of beauty! According to that
fourfold classification those two women belong to the
padmini or gandarvi class.”

“Oh God!”
“What, my son?”
“If I call out to God, why do you answer?”
“What is wrong in that? Haven’t you heard that God is
everywhere? It seems that you have not kept company with
learned people. God is in me. God is in you too. My
disciple, whom you dragged inside, God is in him too…”
“Enough. Enough. Please stop!”

“God asked me to talk all this time; and now God
commands me to stop!”
“Sir! Mr. Astrologer, those two women who left just now –
– who are they? What is their family? Where do they come
from? What is their name? — that is what I asked. If you
can answer me without rambling like this …”
“If I answer you, what will you give me, my son?”
“I shall offer you my thanks gladly.”

“You can keep the glad offering to yourself. If you are
willing to give some gold offering, let me know.”
“Will you answer clearly, if I make a gold offering?”

“I will answer only if an answer is possible. Thambi, listen
to this. Several persons will come and go from an
astrologer’s house. One should not talk about one visitor to
another. I will not tell you anything about the persons who
left just now. Neither will I disclose a single word about
you, to any person who may come later and ask about
you.”

“Ah! Everything that Azlvar-adiyan Nambi said about you
seems to be true!”
“Azlvar-adiyan? Who is he? A person with that name?”
“What, don’t you know him? He talked as if he knew you
very well. Have you never heard of Azlvar-adiyan
Nambi?”
“Perhaps I know the man. Don’t remember the name.
Describe him a little, let me see.”
“He is short and squat. He wears his hair in a topknot on
his forehead. He wears his vaetti (loose lower garment of
men) tightly around his young paunch. Making a paste of
sandal powder, he wears it in vertical marks all over his
body; readily enters into fiery fights with devout Saivas; if
he sees an Advaita philosopher, he raises his wooden staff.
Sometime ago you said `You are God; I am God.’ If
Azlvar-adiyan had heard it, he would have raised his staff
and rushed over to beat you, by saying `God is hitting
God.’ He …”
“Thambi, From what you say, I think you are talking about
Thirumalai.”
“Does he go by other names like that?”
“That fanatic Vaishnava has a different name in different
towns.”

“Does he also disguise himself in different garbs for
different persons?”
“Oh yes! He will put on masquerades appropriate for the
occasion and time.”
“Will everything he utters be mixed with fancy and
falsehood?”

“About seven eighths of what he says will be full of
imagination. The rest may be gospel truth.”
“So, you say that he is a very wicked fellow.”
“One cannot say that! He is good to the good; bad to the
wicked.”
“That means we cannot trust his words and do anything.”
“Believing or not believing depends on the words uttered.”
“For example, he said that if I come to you and asked you
for astrological predictions, you will give expert
answers…”

“Did I not say that about one eighth of his speech will be
gospel truth? That statement belongs to that category!”
“Then predict something for me by your astrology; foretell
something. It is getting late and I have to go in a hurry.”
“Where do you have to go in such a great hurry, my son?”
“Can you not reveal that also from your astrology? Where
should I go? Where should I not go? If I do go, will my
endeavor be successful? — I came to ask you all these
things.”
“I need some basis to foretell or predict by my astrology; I
need a horoscope to study; if there is no horoscope, I must
at least know the day and star under which you were born.
If you do not know even that, I need a name and address.”
“My name is Vallavarayan.”
“Aha! Of the Vaanar clan?”
“Yes I am that very same Vandiya Devan Vallavarayan.”
“Say it like that! Thambi why did you not say this before?
I think, I even have your horoscope with me. If I search for
it I can find it.”
“How is that Sir?”
“What other occupation do astrologer’s like me have? We
collect the horoscopes of men and women born in noble
families…”
“I am not from any such famous noble family.”
“How can you say that? Do you not know of the fame and
prestige of your clan? How many poets have sung the
praises of the Vaanar clan in how many poems? Perhaps
you have not heard the poems?”
“Recite one such poem. Let me hear it.”

The Astrologer immediately sang the following poem:
Are there lips that do not speak of your fame: oh noble Vaana?
Are there chests that do not have your name tattooed on: oh brave Vaana?
Are there flagpoles that do not bear thy colors: oh victorious Vaana?
Are there domains that stand beyond your survey: oh majestic Vaana?
When he sang, it was quite obvious that the Astrologer was
not a musical expert. Nevertheless, he sang the poem
clearly and with involvement.

“How is the poem?” he asked.
“The poem is pleasing to the ear! But now, I have to tie my
colors to the horns of some bull! I have to stand atop the
branches of a banyan tree to survey my domain. Even that
is doubtful. My weight might break the branch and throw
me down!” said Vandiya Devan.
“Today your situation is like that. How do we know what
can happen tomorrow?”
“I thought that you might know; that is why I came here.”
“What can I know Thambi? Like everybody I am a short
lived human being. But the planets and stars foretell the
future. I have learned to understand a little of what they
say and then explain it to those who seek me.”
“What do the planets and stars foretell about me, Mr.
Astrologer?”
“They foretell that you will grow day by day.”
“Dear me! That is pretty good! The height that I have now
is itself quite too much. I had to bend low as I entered your
house! What can I do if I grow taller? There is no use of
such generalities. Say something specific.”
“If you ask me about something particular, I can answer
more specifically.”
“Tell me, the enterprise on which I am going to Tanjore,
will it succeed?”
“If you are going to Tanjore on your own behalf the
endeavor will succeed; if you are going on someone else’s
behalf, I have to see that persons horoscope before I
answer.”
Vandiya Devan shook his head in astonishment and placed
a finger upon his nose. “Sir, I have never encountered as
astute a fellow as you.”
“Do not flatter me, Thambi.”
“Ok. I shall ask what I want clearly. I wish to meet the
Emperor in Tanjore. Is that possible?”
“There are two astrologers greater than me in Tanjore. You
have to ask them.”
“Who are they?”
“One is the Elder Lord Pazluvoor; the other is his brother
the Younger Lord Pazluvoor.”
“It is said that the health of the Emperor is in a bad state. Is
that true?”
“People will say all sorts of things. Why not? Don’t believe
all that they say; neither should you repeat such things.”
“Can you tell me who has the right to succeed to the
Chozla throne if something happens to the Emperor?”
“That throne is not for you nor for me. Why should we
bother about it?”
“From that fate we are saved!” said Vandiya Devan.
“It is true Thambi. The rights of succession to an empire is
not an ordinary matter. It is a very dangerous topic. Is that
not so?”
“Sir! At present the Prince who is in Kanchi, the Crown
Prince Aditya Karikala…”
“Yes he is there; you have come on his behalf. Haven’t
you?”
“You have found that out in the end; no harm done. What
about his fortune?”
“I don’t have his horoscope in my hands now Thambi. I
have to study it.”
“What about the fortunes of Prince Madurandaka?”
“His, is a peculiar fortune; similar to that of womenfolk.
His fortunes are always subject to the power of others.”
“Even now people say that the Chozla Empire is under
Women’s Rule. They say that it is worse than the rule of
the Queen Alli?”

“Thambi, where do they say such things?”
“To the north of the Kollidam.”
“Maybe they are talking about the power of the new bride
married by the Elder Lord Pazluvoor.”
“I heard differently.”
“What did you hear?”
“They said that the beloved daughter of the Emperor, the
Younger Pirati Kundavai, is the one ruling like that.”
The Astrologer peered into Vandiya Devan’s face
carefully. He tried to read the face to find out if he was
saying these words after recognizing Kundavai, who had
left his house a little earlier. There was no sign to support
the doubt.
“Totally wrong Thambi. Emperor Sundara Chozla is in
Tanjore. Kundavai Pirati lives in Pazlayarai. Moreover …”
“Moreover what? Why did you stop?
“During the daytime one must look in all four directions
before speaking; at nighttime not even that. But, there is
nothing wrong in telling you, I think. What power or
influence does the Emperor have these days? All the
authority is held by the Lords of Pazluvoor.” After saying
this the Astrologer examined Vandiya Devan’s face once
again.
“Sir! I am not a spy of the Lords of Pazluvoor. You do not
have to suspect me of that! A little while ago you talked
about the impermanence of kingdoms and royal dynasties.
You gave me the example of my own Vaanar clan. Please
tell me the truth. How is the future of the Chozla
Dynasty?”

“I can tell truthfully without any uncertainty. Towards the
end of spring the River Cauvery and its tributaries will be
filled with new floods. The people living on the river
banks know very well that it is a flood that will rise day by
day. Till the beginning of the summer months the flood
will keep rising. By the autumn months the waters start
receding. The people living along the bank realize it to be
a ebbing flood. The Chozla Empire is now like the fresh
flood of springtime that grows day by day. For several
more hundreds of years it will grow and spread. The
Chozla Empire is now a Waxing Moon. The day of the
Full Moon is far away. Therefore the Chozla power will
expand more and more.”

“After talking all this time, you have said one thing
explicitly! Thanks! If possible, just tell me one more thing.
I have a great desire to go on a ship and travel to distant
lands…”
“That wish will definitely be fulfilled. You have the
fortune of the wheel. You will be travelling constantly, as
if you have wheels on your feet. You will go by walk; ride
upon horses; go on elephants and you will also travel
aboard ships. You have the fortune to go on a sea voyage
very soon.”
“Sir, about the Commander of the Southern Armies, Prince
Arulmozli Varma who is now conducting a campaign in
Lanka — what do the planets and stars say about him?”
“Thambi, those travelling by ship use an instrument made
of the magnetic stone to find their directions. Lighthouses
also help these sailors. But do you know what aids the ship
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in the midst of the wide open seas? What is the constant
friend of the sailors? It is the pole star seen in the low
northern skies. The other stars and planets all keep moving
from their positions. Even the group of the `seven seers’
(little dipper) travels in a circle. But the pole star is never
shaken from its fixed position. The younger son of the
Emperor, Prince Arulmozli, is like that pole star. He has
the firmness of mind unshaken by anything. In addition to
the virtues of selflessness and morality, he possess the
goodness of bravery and chivalry. He excels in worldly
knowledge as much as in learning. He has a charming face,
like that of a young babe which calms the aches of those
who gaze upon it. He is the darling son of the angel of
good luck. Just as sailors take direction from the pole star,
it will be very useful, if youths like you who embark on the
adventure of life, take direction from Prince Arulmozli.”
“Dear me! What is all this that you describe about Prince
Arulmozli? It appears like a lover describing his beloved?”
“Thambi, if you ask any fellow of the Chozla country on
the banks of the River Ponni, he will say the same.”
“Many thanks Mr. Astrologer. If the need arises I shall
follow your advice.”
“Because I saw that your lucky planets are also on the rise,
I said this.”
“I shall take leave of you Sir! Along with my heartfelt
thanks, offered gladly, please accept this small tribute of
gold offered to you.” Saying this, Vandiya Devan placed
five gold coins in the palms of the Astrologer.
“The benevolence of the Vaanar clan has not died even
now!” said the Astrologer as he hid the coins in his
waistband

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