The Prodigal Prince

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Tittan was one of the prominent Chola kings who ruled from Uraiyur. He had a son called Perunarkilli and a daughter named Aiyai.

Perunarkilli grew up to be a handsome prince, earning special affection of his mother. But the king was disappointed in him because Perunarkilli spent most of his time outdoors. The king complained about him to the queen, who would pacify him, saying that being the prince, Perunarkilli, was certainly aware of his responsibilities and would shape well when the time came for him to succeed his father on the throne.

The king did not argue with the queen any further, and only wondered how he could reform his son.

One day, the ruler of the neighbouring Pandya kingdom was calling on Tittan and he very much wanted his son to be present on the occasion. On enquiry, the king was told that the young man had, as usual, gone out of the palace with his friends. Later, when Perunarkilli came back, his father gave vent to his anger and there was a big argument between the two. The king ordered Perunarkilli not to stir out of the palace for the next thirty days as he was expecting a marriage proposal from the Pandya king. Perunarkilli did not obey the King’s command. After dusk, he slipped out of the palace alone and was not seen for several days.

Perunarkilli wandered from village to village and ultimately landed up in Amur, in Thondai Nadu where, luckily, nobody recognised him. That village had been made famous by a wrestler called Amur Mallan. He had given a standing challenge that anybody could have a bout with him. Perunarkilli was adept at wrestling. He went up to Mallan’s house and shouted : “Hey Mallan! I’m ready to fight you at the public square tomorrow!”

Mallan retorted : “I’ll have one or two lessons for you which you’ll remember all through your life!”

Some of the villagers tried to dissuade the young man from taking on Mallan. They were surprised when they found him determined.

The wrestling began in right earnest. Each of the wrestlers took cautious steps, trying to ascertain the weakness of the opponent. Then they grappled each other. Mallan managed to reach his rival’s neck, but Perunarkilli anticipated his tactic and foiled it. In a flash he toppled Mallan who caught hold of his opponent’s leg. One kick by the same leg and Perunarkilli freed himself. Mallan was surprised that the young man could anticipate every move of his. The bout went on for nearly an hour and both wrestlers were now breathing hard and getting tired. Perunarkilli watched for a moment’s inattention on the part of Mallan, and in the next second he was lying flat in front of the young challenger.

A loud cheer rose from the crowd. Perunarkilli was raised on to the shoulders of two strong villagers and they paraded him around the village. It was then that he revealed his identity. Prince Perunarkilli of Uraiyur!

News soon reached King Tittan, but he was not excited. His wife pleaded with him to forgive the prince, and he relented. Tittan understood her feelings, and secretly arranged for two soldiers to go and meet Perunarkilli and persuade him to return to Uraiyur. The entire kingdom rejoiced when the prodigal prince came back. Tittan now looked at him with pride.

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