Book Review: Ponniyin Selvan, By Kalki Krishnamurthy.

Ponniyin Selvan (The Son of Ponni) is a historical novel by Kalki Krishnamurthy, written in Tamil. In five volumes, or about 2210 pages. The simplest explanation of this novel is that it’s historical fiction about the Chola dynasty, specifically, the royal succession from Rajendra Chola to his younger son Raja Raja Chola (but with a brief interlude of Raja Raja’s uncle Uthamar Chola’s rule). That’s also a grossly inadequate explanation. The best description of Ponniyin Selvan comes from another book, The Princess Bride, in which the narrator’s father explains that the book-within-book The Princess Bride is about: “Fencing. Fighting. Torture. Poison. True love. Hate. Revenge. Giants. Hunters. Bad men. Good men. Beautiful ladies. Snakes. Spiders. Beasts of all natures and descriptions. Pain. Death. Brave men. Coward men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passion. Miracles.” The book took more than three years to write. Kalki visited Sri Lanka three times to gather information for it.

 Ponniyin Selvan is widely considered by many to be the greatest novel ever written in Tamil literature. It was first published as a series in the Kalki, a Tamil language magazine, during the 1950s and was later integrated into a novel. The craze for the series which was published weekly was such that it elevated the magazine circulation to reach a staggering figure of 71,366 copies – no mean achievement in a newly independent India.

 Even today, the novel has a cult following and fan base among people of all generations. The book continues to be admired and garners critical acclaim for its tightly woven plot, vivid narration, the wit of the dialogue, and how the power struggle and intrigues of the Chola empire were depicted. This was originally published in Tamil, but thanks to the translation by C.V.Karthik Narayanan, non-Tamil reading people can enjoy this classic work. People who can read Tamil have certified that this translation is excellent. Though this book is quite lengtly, (6 books, each of about 300 pages), it is a page turner.

A film and a separate web series adaptation of the Novel is in production and is directed by the renowned Indian filmmaker Mani Ratna.

History behind the fiction

The magnum opus of Kalki, the Ponniyin Selvan however being imaginary the plot unfurls dependent on some notable realities and characters. Subsequently center around the set of experiences behind the fiction.

With the development of middle age Chozha realm established by Vijayalaya Chozha, the Chozha domain spreads over by catching the Pallavas and the Kongu realm. Later on, his replacements (Parantaka I, Aditakarikala pseudonym Aditya II and Rajarajachozha) do expound the tradition with the triumph over Banas, the Ganges, the Pandya, and the King of Ceylon. Toward the finish of the standard of Parantaka I, the Chozha realm sets about for destructions of elimination in view of Gandaraditya, who was a Shaivite not keen on administering the realm. Thus Gandaraditya reluctant to be a ruler, his siblings Rajathitha and Arinjaya both incapable to be delegated after him, Sundarachozha (Paranthaka II), Arinjaya’s child has been enthroned as a Chozha Emperor. Sundarachozha who was remarkably attractive has administered very well up until he turned out to be lethally sick and laid up because of loss of motion. Aditakarikala, Rajaraja and Kundavai are his kids.

Aditakarikala as the senior child and an obvious beneficiary of the Chozha Empire is delegated as ruler, however his life has finished in a strange passing by virtue of the bad form at the sambuvarayar maaligai in Kadambur. Uttama Chozha (Madurantaka) child of Gandaraditya and Sembian Mahadevi managed for a time of 12 years however he was reluctant to be delegated. Then, at that point Rajarajachozha enthroned after his demise and his rule is a brilliant time for the Chozha Empire as it was seen with the best flourishing, wonder and exceptional popularity.

The wellsprings of verifiable data for PS have experienced stone engravings, copper plates and a large group of books. A stone section in the Thanjavur Periya Koil, Tanjore with the accompanying engraving expressed as, “The respected senior sister of Rajarajachozha, the partner of Vandiyadevan Azwar Paranthakar Kundavaiyar” actually exists. A book named, ‘History of Later Chozhas’ has alluded about Vandiyathevan, who was a Bana sovereign showing that his was a genuine chronicled character as unfurled in the masterpiece of Kalki. A stone engraving has referenced the names of the backstabbers, for example, Ravidasan and engravings likewise was found giving data about different other rulers’ standard. The copper plates at Anbil and Thiruvalangadu have been noticed expressing, “The Chola public were sharp that after Sundarachozha, Arulmozhivarman ought to climb the seat and rule their nation.” But Arulmozhivarman surrendered his privileges to regard his uncle Uttama Chozha, the child of Gandaraditya and astutely made him to enthrone as a King of Chozha Empire.


It is obviously, somewhat imaginary. Still it is enlivening to have the plot about some firm dutiful connections that were esteemed and protected. It is truly gladdening to understand that the men in the Chozha tradition remained together and battled their shared adversaries. None of the Emperors appears to have had the greed and ache for throning at the penance or enduring of their own family. Most likely the rulers were yearning for extension of the realm however with ethical quality again as an uprightness. The epic explains ethics suchlike dedication, kinship and love. Intrinsically, the ladies people of Tamil culture praise to the sky statures for penance and virtuousness however some might be clearly unimportant.

The preeminent basic certain is to serve mankind in every conceivable mean. As and when the brain and the heart go together, resistance and love embraced, and moral obligation to serve the humankind remains maintained.