My earliest recollection of Ponniyin Selvan is of five hardbound volumes standing tall in Amma’s book collection. To my eternal regret, the convent-educated-English-speaking me had my nose too deeply in English novels to explore one of the greatest Tamil novels ever written.
The years passed and I stepped into the courtyard of Thanjavur’s ‘Big Temple’ for the first time. I froze: the towering gopuram drew my eyes like a magnet and automatically lifted my head towards the evening-sun-splashed sky. The immense lingam in the sanctum thrilled my soul with its stark, truly ‘God-sized’ grandeur. And so, I came to Raja Raja Chola, the emperor who had the audacity to think big and build on this vast scale.
The brilliant Ramasamy Aiyar Krishnamurthi, or Kalki, immortalized Raja Raja Chola as Ponniyin Selvan, packing his masterpiece with dashing warriors and beautiful princesses, secret passages and dark dungeons, sorcerers and spies, vengeance and romance, shipwrecks and quicksand, leopards and assassins … in 2000 odd pages of roller-coaster excitement.
Dear readers, I give you Ponniyin Selvan as an 800-page, one-volume treat: The Tiger Throne. I have tried to give you a compact version, suited to todays’ ‘fast’ world, while retaining the body and soul of Kalki’s work and remaining true to the original in every way.
As always, I hope you will pass on the story to your children and grandchildren: for this is not just a book. It is a record of our glorious history and culture … it parts the veil of centuries to give us a glimpse of our roots and the rich lives of our ancestors.
Happy reading to you all!