Years later, when his chief minister reported the disobedience of a chieftain, Athikan, the monarch directed a march supported by cavalry and elephants. As negotiations failed in the face of the chieftain’s stubborn non-cooperation, fighting was commenced and a fierce battle raged for days on end. Eventually the Chozha army made headway, surrounded the rebel city and reduced its battlements. After hostilities had ceased, the king embraced his general and rewarded him while the latter presented the plundered spoils. Among them were the severed heads of defeated warriors. The Chozha ruler bemoaned the sight of one of them with matted tresses and vibhuthi on its forehead, telltale signs of a devotee of Mahadeva. With tears streaming down his eyes, he said, ‘What a sad end to a great triumph. My life and sovereignty cannot continue in the face of such sacrilege’. He then turned to his ministers and said, ‘Pray, invest my son with the crown and aid him to fulfil the sacred task of ceaseless service to the Lord’. Brushing aside the protests of his adoring ministers, the king ordered that a sacrificial fire be lit. He bathed himself, put on fresh dress and smeared his body with sacred ash. Bearing on a golden platter the severed head with matted tresses and chanting the five sacred syllables, he circumambulated the blazing fire-pit and then, with solemn resolve, boldly leapt into the flames. All standing near marveled at his devotion. Flowers rained down from above as the beloved ruler was taken up to the Abode of the Lord.
Reproduced from the Jun 2014 issue of the Saranagati eNewsletter
published by Sri Ramanasramam. The above text has been freely adapted from editions
of Periapuranam, Siva Bhakta Vilāsam (published by Sri Ramanasramam) and other texts.