The clan of Pallavas rose to power during the reign of Mahendravarman I (571 to 630 CE) and Narasimhavarman I (630 to 668 CE) and dominated the Telugu speaking Andhra region and the northern parts of Tamuzh Nadu for about six hundred years until the end of the 9th century. This is a fictious story set in the period of the Pallavas; so read on & I hope you enjoy it…
The young woman stared desolately out of the window. Her vacant gaze revealed the turbulence in her mind. The young lady was rather attractive and must have been not more than twenty-five years of age. She wore the finest jewelry and ornaments of her time. Her features were exquisite and she was one of the most attractive women in the entire capital city of Kancheepuram. However, she was also one of the unhappiest women in the entire city
The young lady in her unhappiness and resentment began to think of her past; a past filled with poverty and hunger. The young woman had hailed from a poor agrarian family, which had lived in a small town called Goontur, which belonged to the Pallava Empire in the 8th century A.D. During a terrible time of drought and famine, ten years ago, her father had brought his two daughters, her elder sister and herself to the capital city of Kancheepuram. During those days it was the custom to get daughters married within a couple of months after they attained puberty but unfortunately the poor farmer from Goontur had no money and his resources were further depleted by recurrent drought and famine. As a result he could not get his two daughters married at the appropriate time and they had grown to be sixteen and fifteen while continuing to live in their father’s house.
The poor father soon realized that the two girls were well past their marriageable age and had therefore decided to dispose them of in an alternative manner. He had therefore brought these two daughters to the market in Kancheepuram in an attempt to sell them off to the highest bidder.
While at the market, the eldest daughter, Kamya, had caught the fancy of a Chola Nobleman who had come on a visit to the capital of the Pallava kingdom as an emissary of the Chola king. Attracted by the beauty of the elder sister he had taken away the sixteen-year-old girl as his concubine to Thanjavoor the capital city of the Chola Kingdom after paying twelve gold coins to the poor farmer. The poor farmer was overjoyed with the money he received and thought of taking back his younger daughter with him to Goontur. But he then realized that she would still be a burden upon him and therefore waited for the right customer to come and buy her as well.
Maya which was the name of the younger daughter did not fetch as much as her elder sister but a Minister in the Pallava court who happened to pass by the market happened to take a liking to her and therefore after a lot of bargaining agreed to buy her for ten gold coins. The poor farmer was indeed overjoyed and without even a cursory good bye to his younger daughter left the market to enjoy the benefits of his new found wealth and numb his consciousness into a drunken stupor.
Poor Maya was rather frightened as she followed the Pallava Minister who dragged her along to a big house situated on the out-skirts of Kancheepuram city which belonged to him. The Pallava Minister was almost fifty years old and was already married to a mean matron who was forty-two years old. His wife was a shrew and kept lashing the Minister constantly with her verbal tirade. She found fault with any and everything, which the Minister did for her. She neither fed him properly nor took care of his sexual appetites leaving the old Minister frustrated and despondent.
When he bought Maya from her father, the Minister had two sons aged twenty and eighteen respectively. His sons were the apples of his eyes and he loved them very much; but not as much as he began to love Maya. He was then a Minister in charge of maintaining the King’s Palaces of that time. He considered Maya as his Talisman for it was only after she came into his life that his professional career graph soared up and he soon became the Principal Minister of the then Pallava king Raghaveendra Varman. Ten years had passed since he had bought Maya and it was the happiest ten years of his life.
Initially, the girl had been rather frightened and uncooperative but as time passed Maya began to accept her fate and settled down to her life as the mistress of one of the most powerful men in the Pallava Kingdom. The Minister for his part really doted on Maya. He showered costly gifts on her of finest silks, exquisite jewelry and costly stones. Having been sexually starved he behaved like a starving man in front of whom a royal feast had been laid. He initiated young Maya into the world of sexual pleasures and taught her the fine art of making a man happy.
He taught her various methods, postures and positions as expounded in the “Kokko Shastra” which was a treatise in Tamuzh, which equaled the Sanskrit creation of Vatsayana, which was popularly called the “Kama Sutra”. In fact a few Tamuzhs even believed that the “Kama Sutra” was a plagiarisation of the “Kokko Shastra”. For her part, Maya was happy to make the Minister happy and remained loyal and faithful to him. His smallest whim and wish were her commands and she did all that she could to make him happy. However, that was not the cause of her unhappiness.
Meanwhile, Kamya, her elder sister too had done very well for herself in the Chola capital of Thanjavoor to which the Chola Noble Man had taken her. The Chola Noble had a rather sickly wife who could not take good care of him and all his needs. This was the reason why he had purchased Kamya from her father. He had no children since his wife was too sickly to bear a child and therefore he lived a rather lonely life.
Within a year of his bringing Kamya to Thanjavoor and setting her up in a palacious house, his legally wedded wife passed away. It was Kamya who then filled the vacuum in his life and made him happy. The Chola Noble Man began to love Kamya sincerely for he sensed a character of steel within her that added to her beauty. When his relatives started searching for another wife for him from within his community he put his foot down and refused to toe their line. He insisted that he would only marry Kamya and much against the wishes of his friends and relatives he married her in a simple but stately ceremony and brought her to live with him in his ancestral house.
It was eight years now since the Chola Noble had married Kamya and they now had two children; the first-born a girl who was six years old followed by a boy who was just four years old. They were very happy and Maya soon obtained all this information from the traveling salesmen and tradesmen who went from kingdom to kingdom to sell their wares. Maya had even sent a message to Kamya through one of them and the wandering salesman had brought back a message from Kamya on his next trip. In her message Kamya had expressed her happiness at Maya being the mistress of the Principal Minister of the Pallava Empire and had invited her to come and stay a few days with her in her house in Thanjavoor.
However, this was not the cause of Maya’s grief and remorse today. Though she was one of the most beautiful women in the Pallava Empire she was still not accepted amongst the womenfolk of Kancheepuram city and was only treated with contempt for after all she was only the mistress of the Principal Minister and not his legally wedded wife.
Maya had made several attempts to be friendly with the wives of the other Ministers and nobles in the Pallava King’s court but had failed miserably in all her attempts and only ended up being sarcastically called a whore and a prostitute. This hurt Maya rather badly for she did not consider herself a prostitute. She was not the kind who sold her body to all and sundry without any emotions. She loved her Master and Lord, the Principal Minister and was sincere and faithful to him and only him. The more she pondered on the taunts of the neighbourhood women, the more she felt heart-broken. She was unable to accept their taunts with a couldn’t care less attitude and every taunt was a whiplash on her soul. However, Maya was not one to take things lying down. She decided to do something about it; but before that she wanted to spend some time with her elder sister and play with her kids for she felt that would be the balm that would soothe her soul….
That night when the Principal Minister came to visit her, she casually told him that she wished to see her sister since it was ten years since she had last seen her and a lot of water had flown under the bridge since then. Moreover, she told him that she wished to play with her niece and nephew and spend a week or two with them.
The Pallava Minister at first objected since he knew that his nights would turn desolate if Maya was not there to spend them with. However, Maya insisted that she should go and that it would also provide the Minister an opportunity to spend some time with his children who were now in the prime of their youth. The Principal Minister of the Pallavas mulled over the idea of spending time with his two grown up sons and decided that he would take them out hunting to the forest near by as it would provide an opportunity for male bonding and comradeship.
Finally, with great hesitation the Principal Minister agreed to let Maya go to her sister’s house in Thanjavoor while laying the condition that she should not be gone for even a day more than two weeks. Maya happily agreed to this for it was only two weeks that she needed. The next morning the Minister made arrangements for a stately Palanquin with strong able-bodied eunuchs to take her all the way to Thanjavoor. It was a journey of almost 200 miles and with a heavy heart he bid farewell to Maya while bestowing a lot of expensive gifts, which she could give to her sister and her children.
Maya was full of joy and wanted to reach Thanjavoor as quickly as possible. She therefore informed the Minister that she would prefer to ride on horse back since the journey would take more than four days in one direction if she traveled by the Palanquin and she would not be left with much time to spend with her sister and her family. A woman on horse back was a very rare phenomenon in those days and the Principal Minister was therefore shocked at her request. He refused to let her go on horseback but Maya was adamant and the Principal Minister had to relent.
Finally, by eleven that morning Maya left on a black stallion accompanied by two male eunuchs as her escorts riding two brown geldings. Maya did not even bother to rest that night and stretched her horse to the maximum limit possible. She knew that her horse needed rest and that physical exertion of the horse would affect all her plans. However, her emotional need was far greater than the physical needs of the horse and therefore she hardened her heart and drove the horse hard as she rode all night long.
By the next morning she reached the out skirts of Thanjavoor and managed to find her way to Kamya’s residence. Kamya was overjoyed to see Maya and the two sisters hugged each other as tears flowed down their cheeks incessantly. Kamya’s two little children were bewildered by their mother’s display of emotions while her husband the Chola Noble man observed their reunion rather dispassionately.
Maya spent the next two days with her sister and her children. She was so happy that she wondered if she had ever felt happier than that in all her life. However, by the end of the second day Maya began to feel restless. Though Maya had been happy during the past two days she still felt a void in her heart and she soon realized that she was missing her beloved Principal Minister. On the third day morning she informed her sister that she would like to go wandering around the city market since she wanted to pick up some trinkets for her dear Principal Minister.
Kamya offered to come with Maya to the market but Maya refused stating that she wanted some time to herself to think over a lot of issues. Kamya was puzzled by Maya’s response but did not probe her. Maya then proceeded on foot to the market. In the market she avoided all the luxurious shops and went in search of the seedier parts of the market. At some places she would stop and question the uncouth louts who happened to be lazing around on the wayside. She returned to Kamya’s house that evening without making any purchases. When Kamya questioned her about what she had done the whole day she replied that she had not been able to find anything suitable or worthy of her beloved Principal Minister.
The next day morning Maya again ventured out into the city. When Kamya again offered to accompany her she muttered that she needed time by herself and left in haste leaving Kamya surprised. That day Maya finally found a man sitting outside a hut with a potter’s wheel in front of it. However, the man did not look like a potter but appeared to look more like a brigand with his rough unshaven face, coarse hands and muscular frame which could put any theatric villain to shame. After a lot of bargaining Maya settled at a price that seemed to make the roguish villain satisfied.
That evening when Maya returned to her sister’s house, she had two dolls made of clay in her hands; the dolls were a pair; a male and a female and were neatly painted on the outside, with bright colours. The dolls were attractive and what was more attractive was that the dolls kept shaking their heads in unison without remaining still. They were what is popularly know as the famous Thanjavoor head shaking dolls which were the specialty of the region.
Maya did not venture out of the house for the next four days, but preferred to stay at home and play with Kamya’s kids. Though she seemed to be physically in Kamya’s house her thoughts were far away and her mind appeared vacant. When Kamya questioned her about it she said that she missed her beloved Principal Minister and it was her longing for him that made her appear to be far away.
The next day Maya again ventured out into the city early in the morning. When Kamya again offered to accompany her, Maya again refused saying that she wanted to be by herself for a while. Maya’s strange behaviour perplexed Kamya but she kept quiet, as she did not want to make her sister unhappy. That morning Maya hurriedly went to the same potter’s hut where she had met the roguish oaf.
The brigand seemed to have been waiting for her and as soon as Maya appeared he got to his feet and went towards her. “Have you done what I have asked you to do?” Maya questioned the potter. “Yes, I have”, replied the potter. “Did you leave any clues behind?” she questioned him again. “No. I made sure that I left neither clues nor witnesses. In fact when I was strangling the lady a man in royal attire came into the house and surprised me. He tried to raise an alarm but I did not spare him as well. I finished him off with my knife and left without anyone observing me” he replied. On hearing this, Maya wailed out loud and swooned.