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Sunday, November 15, 2015

Episode 3/Chapter 19: What, If Our Dreams Come True!

Chapter 19

Brahmadesam, or Chathurveda Mangalam or Brahmadhayam as the place was earlier known in history is a place where the renowned Chozha Emperor Raja Rajan had built a big temple for Lord Siva, during the late 10th century C.E and later expanded and renovated by Pandia, Chozha and Vijayanagara kings.

After several generations, sometime in the late 17th century, when the whole of Southern India was in trouble due to repeated invasions by the neighboring kingdoms, incursions by Muslim rulers, and internal feuds among the local rulers, Deva Vratan, one of the descendants of Arunan, who had carefully preserved all copper plates that proved his ownership, deposited them along with other valuables in his possession, in a box and hid it beneath the ground somewhere. He then put the keys for this vault along with a map that could provide a clue as to where his descendants could find the treasure and documents, in another small box and hid it underneath the sculpture of a deity in the main temple. This Deva Vratan could do clandestinely because he enjoyed the trust of the local priest at the temple whom he had been assisting every now and then. The priest had given him the keys of the temple on several occasions and thus, he didn’t have much difficulty in accomplishing his job, without raising any alarm or suspicion. It required some meticulous planning and he managed it. He then placed the small iron pin that could open this small box, along with a micro sized map, inside a talisman and tied it around the neck of his son. He then told his seven-year-old son young Sangamitran that at no cost, he should remove this talisman from his neck lest he would be incurably cursed. He then sent him away to Travancore, along with many other boys of his age, for their safety. During the incursions by a Muslim chieftain from Madurai, a number of villages were looted, Deva Vratan was killed and all charitable facilities sent to the flames in rage, when the invaders couldn’t lay their hands on any valuables.

Sangamitran grew up in Travancore and returned to Brahmadesam during the late 1800s. He still had the talisman tied to his neck, without any clue as to what it contained and he never dared to remove it for fear of the curse by his dead father. Back in Brahmadesam he met Kalyani Amma, one of the few survivors of the incursion. Kalyani Amma, now in her very old age, had earlier known Deva Vratan intimately and had vaguely guessed what the talisman could contain. She persuaded and convinced Sangamitran to break open the talisman, to see what it was inside. They broke open the talisman and found an iron pin inside, along with a very small canvas piece on which they found a drawing of an unusual map. They researched on the drawing and finally they concluded that the map in the drawing pointed towards the Siva temple in their village. They also believed that it might lead them to a clue about the vast properties that Deva Vratan was managing when he was alive and now non-existent. They somewhat understood the map, but couldn’t get into the temple to explore further.

In the meantime, Kalyani Amma died. Sangamitran married her surviving daughter Swarnalakshmi who was of unsound mind and they had a son Adhi Kesavan. After considerable trepidation, Sangamitran approached the local chieftain and sought his help, to explore further, about the map without revealing finer details. But the local chieftain was also a wicked person. He himself had come to possess a piece of copper plate that mentioned about some endowment of lands by a king Vishnu Deva Varma of Venad to one Arunan. He had come to possess this plate when he stole it from a palace in Venad, but never understood the significance of the inscriptions contained in the copper plate. But when Sangamitran approached him for help to retrieve some documents, he quickly made a connection to the copper plate in his own possession. In his own indiscretion, he showed it to Sangamitran who immediately sensed danger. Sangamitran dodged the chieftain and ran away with the plate the chieftain had. Sangamitran ran from place to place and spent his years in hiding, like a fugitive, to escape from the chieftain.

One day, Sangamitran did to his son Adi Kesavan what his father did to him. He kept the pin and the map inside another talisman and tied it around the neck of Adhi Kesavan, so no one would suspect. He bundled the copper plate in another cloth, gave it to Adhi Kesavan and told him that when he grew older he could open this bundle and see 
 what it contained. Until then, he was to keep the cloth bundle safely, even at the cost of his life, Adhi Kesavan was told. He then told his son to run away to another distant village where he could meet his not-so-close uncle, who could take care of him. Adhi Kesavan was only eight or nine but was very understanding. With a heavy heart, they parted ways.

In the meantime, Sangamitran and his wife were continuously chased. They too moved from place to place but knew that any day they would be caught. One day, when they were cornered by the chieftain the only escape route for them was across the dangerous deep waters of the river Tamirabarani and they boldly entered the waters. While trying to cross the river, he and his wife Meenakshi both were carried away by the current.

It is not known what transpired, but, Adhi Kesavan could never reach his uncle’s place. He grew up, incognito, elsewhere and as he grew up, he proved himself to be extremely intelligent and adroit. When he came of age, he broke open the talisman, found the pin and the map. He also opened the cloth bundle and after repeated readings, understood the message in the copper plate. Soon, he had decoded the map. Though he couldn’t comprehend the full implications, he realized that he was a custodian heir to some large properties. But to lay his hands on what lay underneath, he needed to enter the sanctum Sanctorum of the temple.

Fortunately for him, though the temple was almost a millennium old, it was not visited by many, deserted most of the time, hardly anyone noticed anything inside the temple. Even the poojas to the deity were not performed regularly for want of resources and sponsors. Strangely, even the locals seemed to be neglecting the historic temple. Many old timers had either died or shifted to other places.  The temple car was in a dilapidated condition and it was a few Ages before the temple car festival was ever performed. The temple was overdue for ‘Kumbabhishekam’ - the regular renovation that is carried out once every twelve years - and several twelve-year cycles had passed by, without any renovation.

The temple’s architecture was unique. As the Sun rose in the East every day, a strong beam of light from the Sun would pass through the fifty-or-so feet high main entrance, across the huge ‘Nandhi’ sitting majestically in the outer hall facing the main deity Lord Siva, into the inner hall in a straight line and then finally enter the inner sanctum Sanctorum, to illuminate the Lingam that represented Lord Siva. In the morning, the sunlight would fall on the Crown of the Lingam and as the sun rose in the sky, the illumination would slowly descend on the deity to lower areas of the Lingam only to finally fall at His lotus feet. How did they manage this unique construction almost thousand years back? Only Lord Siva knows!

One night, Adhi Kesavan disguised himself as the priest, managed to stay inside the temple overnight to explore where the map led him. In the virtual darkness, he carefully removed a couple of tiles from the floor as indicated in the map. It was a tough job, but he did it. Underneath, he found a small box that contained a key and a map. He believed that they could lead him to a bigger treasure. Carefully, he laid the floor tiles back and left the temple early next morning, without anyone noticing.

From that moment, without revealing his true identity, he discreetly researched further, made inquiries with many and concluded that his ancestors had been managing vast properties meant for public good. He started acting like someone who was mentally deranged and that helped him to say and do many things that people didn’t take seriously about. He was also able to get more and more information from many, unsuspectingly. However, he also surmised that quite a large part of what he heard from people were concocted stories passed on from generation to generation. From all hearsay and other circumstantial evidence he finally firmly believed that he was the legal heir to a vast property, but he had nothing to prove anything and he was stuck.

Thanks to Lord Siva’s water dam project in Papanasam wherein I got involved by His divine design, I had by now become quite well known to many. When I was drawn to Brahmadesam and when Adhi Kesavan met me, he seemed to know in advance that I was destined to arrive there. In fact, he was awaiting my arrival. When he placed all his trust in me and narrated his story, his confidence seemed to have suddenly spurted. He believed that I was going to help him in retrieving the properties.


I wouldn’t have acted solely on the basis of what Adhi Kesavan told me about the properties his ancestors owned and managed, but for a big display board that I happened to see in front of the Nellaiappar Temple at Tirunelveli during one of my earlier visits. The board listed a number of people who were occupying the temple lands, buildings, and other properties, but had defaulted to pay the annual rent for several years. The arrears of rentals and charges that were due to the temple came to several hundred thousands of rupees. The list included people from all religions and it was obvious that misuse of temple properties was rampant. People occupied the temple properties without paying anything to the temple for several years. How many insiders in the temple were hand-in-glove with these defaulters, Lord Siva knows! When I read the notice board, I really felt perturbed that the Lord was being cheated and yet He remained a stone inside the temple. During those days, my focus was on the issues I had on hand at Papanasam and so I pushed aside all further thoughts about the list of defaulters to Lord Nellaiappar at Tirunelveli.

What if Adhi Kesavan claimed was true? I mulled over the question a lot before I finally decided to plunge further into this mystery.


....... to be continued......


  1. There is another"Brahmadesam"near Kanchipuram also.Where exactly the "Brahmadesam"that you have refered in this Blog.Very interesting to read.

  2. This Brahmadesam is near Ambasamudram along the banks of the river Tamirabarani in Tirunelveli District. Excepting the place and some historical perspectives, the characters and the situations mentioned in the episode are entirely fictitious and imaginery. Thank you, for your comments.