Friday, February 20, 2009

Near Bloodless Conquest

Apparently the conflict between the Tamils and Lankans can be traced back a long way in history. An anecdote in Kalki’s Ponniyin Selvan bears testament to the above fact. Eezham as Lanka was known then, nearly two thousand years ago had been captured by the Tamil forces led by Elela Singan. The defeated king of Lanka fled to the surrounding hills and lived in hiding. His young son, Dushtagamanu grew up smarting from the defeat inflicted on his father and thirsting for revenge. When this iron – willed youngster reached manhood, he gathered a small but determined band and took on the mighty armies of the Tamils. Heavily outnumbered, the rebel forces were routed and scattered. But Dushtagamanu would not give up his birthright so easily. He sought an audience with Elela Singan and admitting he had lost his army he requested the king to take him on in a wrestling bout as they were both true warriors. The winner would get Lanka and the loser would attain a warrior’s heaven. Singan consented and the match began. Dushtagamanu fought ferociously and Elela Singan moved by sympathy for the youth did not exert his full strength and was killed. The former then constructed a cenotaph to honor Elela Singan at the spot where he died, for his valor and compassion.
Nice story, but I thought Elela Singan went overboard with the compassion bit. Having given the young upstart a decent shot at the throne he should have thrashed him soundly and sent him packing. Therefore, in my book he is more of a wuss than a hero. But wasn’t that a nice way to settle a dispute? The protagonists spared themselves and their followers years of bloody warfare. Wouldn’t it be nice if our heads – of – state and politicians got off their fat backsides and did the same? May be putting their cowardly necks on the line will make them think twice before sending off our troops to war and certain death with so much alacrity.

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