Book I
[Indra’s Festival]

On the advice of Agastya of the Malaya Hill, the Cōḻa king who destroyed the ‘castle in the air’ of the Rākṣasas, stood before Indra in profound obeisance and prayed of him, for the enhancement of the fame of his old city, that Indra might be present during the twenty-eight days of the (great Indra) festival in Puhār. As Indra with great beneficence consented, the well-informed people of the city used to celebrate the festival without fail.

Therefore all those teachers of varying religions who expounded absolute truth, actual practice of the world, the good teachings of truth, and of release from worldly life, and those expert in ‘the science’ Astrologers. of time never ceased to reside in the city. Along with these, there were the gods themselves who had assumed forms of less brilliant effulgence, people of various languages that had collected in vaster numbers than was usual, the five bodies of ministers and the eight bodies of officials of varying degrees.

These arranged for the announcement of the festival by beat of the great royal drum, as the guardian deity in the public square, and the deity set up in the bazaar, will both molest the inhabitants of the city if, by chance, the celebration of the festival should be forgotten.

In this belief the prosperous drum in the temple of Vajrāyudha The characteristic weapon of Indra, Śakti, the thunderbolt. was taken out and placed on the back of the royal elephant, and by beat of that drum, the announcement was made in the following terms:–

‘May the city of this old royal family prosper! May the land be blessed with the three rains every month! May the planets follow their course because of the righteousness of the sovereigns! On the occasion of [115] the propitiatory festival of this great land, the thousand-eyed Indra along with the four classes of Dēvas (gods), and the eight gaṇas or groups of Dēvatas (minor gods), would arrive here in the city making the heaven of Indra empty, as was this royal city itself, when the great Cōḻa Karikāla left the city on a distant expedition of conquest. Do therefore decorate the city, the great royal roads and the halls of faultless learning; put in their appropriate places jars filled with water, seed vessels with budding sprouts and statues holding lamps. Decorate the streets and buildings with areca and plantain trees carrying bunches of fruit, creepers of Vañji and other kinds, and plant them with sugar-cane.

Along the open plinths of houses suspend strings of pearls from pillar to pillar. Remove the old soil and spread new sand over the streets. Hoist flags and hang festoons over the gateways of houses. Tidy up temples ranging from that of the god “with an eye in the forehead” Śiva. to the guardian deity of the public square, with what requires to be done under the instructions of those expert in it.

Let those well-versed in the holy teachings take their place under awnings, or in canopied halls. Let those well-versed in various religions assemble in the halls of learning set apart for discussion. Give up feelings of enmity even to those who are inimical to you. Do all these things, these twenty-eight days when the gods and men in friendly company keep moving about on hillocks of sand, in gardens full of flowers, in islets in river beds and in bathing ghats.’

This announcement by beat of the royal drum was made while warriors with drawn swords, cars and cavalry and elephants moved in procession escorting the State elephant which carried the drum. The announcement [116] closed with the prayer that hunger, disease and enmity may cease to exist, and that rain and the resulting prosperity may perpetually be on the rise.