|Original title||பொன்னியின் செல்வன்|
|Translator||various (see below)|
|Genre||Historical, Romance, Espionage, Thriller, fiction|
|Pages||2300 pages (approx)|
|Preceded by||Parthiban Kanavu|
|Followed by||Nandhipurathu Nayaki|
|பொன்னியின் செல்வன் at Tamil Wikisource|
Ponniyin Selvan (பொன்னியின் செல்வன், English: The Son of Ponni) is a historical novel by Kalki Krishnamurthy, written in Tamil. In five volumes, or about 2210 pages, it tells the story of early days of Arulmozhivarman (அருள்மொழிவர்மன்), who later became the great Chola emperor Rajaraja Chola I. 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 garner critical acclaim for its tightly woven plot, vivid narration, the wit of the dialogue, and the way in which the power struggle and intrigues of the Chola empire were depicted.
A film and a separate web series adaptation of the Novel is in production and is directed by the renowned Indian filmmaker Mani Ratnam.
|1||புது வெள்ளம் (transl. New Floods)||57|
|2||சுழற்காற்று (transl. Whirlwind)||53|
|3||கொலை வாள் (transl. Sword of Slaughter)||46|
|4||மணிமகுடம் (transl. The Crown)||46|
|5||தியாக சிகரம் (transl. The Pinnacle of Sacrifice)||91|
In order of appearance (omitting the flashbacks)
- Vandhiyadevan (வல்லவரையன் வந்தியத்தேவன்): The brave, witty, adventurous and sarcastic warrior prince of Vaanar clan, who later becomes the Commander for Southern Troops under the reign of Uttama Chola. Although the second protagonist of the story other than Ponniyin Selvan himself, Vandiyadevan's exploits make the readers to think him as the main hero at multiple points in the novel. He was a bodyguard and close friend of Aditya Karikalan in Kanchi who sends him as a messenger to Sundara Chola in Thanjavur to invite him to the newly built golden palace in Kanchi and also as a trustful guard for Kundavai in Pazhayarai. His unplanned and hasteful acts put himself and others in danger but comes out of them by trickery and luck. He is the lover of Princess Kundavai. He is loved one-sidedly by Manimekalai, the sister of Kandanmaran. The author introduces most of the characters to the audience through him.
- Azhwarkadiyan Nambi (ஆழ்வார்க்கடியான் நம்பி) alias Thirumalaiappan (திருமலையப்பன்): A Veera Vaishnavite spy who works for the Prime Minister and Chembiyan Maadevi. He is the foster-brother of Nandhini and also a close friend of Vandiyathevan. He works closely with him and saves him from many dangers. He was a loyal trustful servant for the Chola royal government. He often does many religious word battles with Veera Shaivites and Advaitis.
- Sambuvaraiyar: The petty ruler of Kadamboor from the Sambuvaraya family.
- Kandanmaran alias Chinna Sambuvaraiyar: Prince of Kadamboor. Son of Sambuvaraiyar and close friend of Vandiyathevan. He is the one who arranges the conspiracy meeting of petty rulers to be taken in Kadamboor. He then assumes Vandiyathevan tried to kill him and starts to think of him as his worst enemy.
- Periya Pazhuvettaraiyar: The chancellor and treasurer of the Chola kingdom from the Paluvettaraiyar clan who was respected for his valor and 64 scars he got in battles. The second most powerful man in the empire next to the Emperor himself. He marries a much younger Nandini in his sixties, gets seduced by her beauty and gets used by her as a puppet for her plot. He was the leader of the conspirators who acted against the sons of Sundara Chola and tried to make his cousin Madurantakan the next emperor under the plans of Nandini.
- Theveraalan (alias Parameswaran), Idumbankkari, Ravidasan, Soman Sambavan, Revadasa Kiramavithan: Antagonists of the novel. Bodyguards of the late Veerapandiyan. They conspirate to kill the members of the Chola family. Ravidasan and Parameswaran were once ministers in Chola court. Ravidasan and Revadasa Kiramavithan were acting as wizards. Idumbankkari was acting as a guard in Kadambur palace.
- Madurantaka alias Amarabhujangan Nedunchezhiyan: Son of Chembiyan Maadevi who was raised as a Shaivite. He was raised a calm and humble Shaivite and taught not to desire on the throne. He was brainwashed by Nandini so that the developed a greed over the throne. Kundavai and others thought that he was untalented and lacked the basic characters and skills for being an emperor. People of Chola country did not want him to become the ruler.
- Kundavai alias Ilaya Piratti: The Chola princess. Second child and only daughter of Sundara Chola. Lover of Vandiyathevan. She was respected much by her father and the people for her intelligence and wit. Unlike other princesses of those times, she had an ambition of making Chola empire wide and great and took a vow to never leave her motherland. She used her brother Arulmozhivarman and his son to achieve her ambition. She grew and taught Arulmozhivarman to be an intelligent prince and wished to make him the Chola emperor. She is the one who sent Vandiyathevan to bring back Arulmozhivarman from Sri Lanka and to prevent Aditya from going to Kadamboor palace and also to guard him. She took care of Vaanathi more than any of her friends and wanted to make her Arulmozhivarman's queen.
- Vaanathi: Shy and innocent Kodumbalur princess who is the future wife of Raja Raja Chola and mother of Rajendra Chola- I. Daughter of Paranthakan alias Kodumbalur Chinna Velar who died in the battle against Mahinda in Sri Lanka. Niece of Irunkovel Boothi Vikramakesari. She lost her mother and father in her childhood. She is the most beloved friend of Kundavai. She had an immense love for Arulmozhi. Later she dies giving birth to her son who is now known as Rajendra Chola.
- Nandini: Pazhuvoor Princess and wife of Periya Pazhuvettraraiyar whose birth and origin was doubtful in the beginning. The main antagonist of the story. She was born in Madurai and grew up in a priest family along with royal children in Pazhayarai till her youth. She hated Kundavai as she showed hatred towards her because of jealousy over her beauty. She and Prince Aditya Karikalan developed love interest in their childhood which nobody in the royalty liked. She was forced to flee Pazhaiyarai and live in Madurai. After Aditya beheaded the injured Veerapandiyan, she joined Pandya conspirators and vowed to take revenge on him by killing him and destroying the Chola dynasty. By marrying Periya Pazhuvettaraiyar who had fallen in lust with her and by using him, she helped the Pandya conspirators. She had a deep hatred towards the royalty for their ill-treatment and also had a desire for the throne. She had a terrible childhood that affected her badly and wanted to be with her mother Mandakini. Parthibendra Pallava and Kandanmaran fell for her beauty and she used them for her plot too.
- Senthan Amuthan: A flower seller. He is a close friend of Vandiyathevan. He helped him many times in his missions when he was still the son of Vaani and a calm, humble and honest Shaivite devotee.
- Vaani Ammal: The deaf and mute foster mother of Senthan Amuthan, sister of Mandakini and aunt of Poonkuzhali. She was good in practising traditional medicine.
- Chinna Pazhuvettaraiyar: alias Kaalandhakandar. The chief in-charge of Thanjavur fort. Younger brother of Periya Pazhuvettaraiyar to whom he had huge respect and love. He is the father-in-law of Mathuranthakar. Both brothers hated Vandiyathevan at first. He constantly warns his brother about Nandini and her conspiracy to no avail.
- Sundara Chola alias Parantaka-II: The emperor of Chola empire. He was known for his facial beauty which gave him his name 'Sundara'. After his health became poor, his legs paralysed and was expecting his death, he was moved from Pazhayarai to Thanjavur by Pazhuvettaraiyars for his protection. This sparked the debate for the next rightful heir. His wish was to appoint his uncle's son as his successor. There was a rumor that the emperor was kept as a prisoner by them.
- Vanavan Mahadevi: Empress of the Chola empire. Chief queen, wife and caretaker of Sundara Chola. Mother of all his children. Daughter of Thirukovalur Malaiyamaan.
- Chembiyan Maadevi alias Periya Piratti: Wife of Gandaraditya and mother of Utthama Chola. A Shaivite devotee who donates a lot to build many temples for Lord Shiva across the Chola empire. She was very strict in not making her son the emperor, which was also the dying wish of her husband.
- Pinaagapani: Son of the traditional healer in Pazhayarai. He was narrow-minded and ambitious and always considered Vandiyathevan as his enemy but gets beaten by him all throughout the story. He was sent by Kundavai with Vandiyathevan to show his way from Pazhaiyarai to Kodikkarai where he lusts over Poonkuzhali but fails in attracting her. His desire to gain high positions in the empire make him prey to Nandini's plans.
- Aditya Karikalan: Eldest son of Sundara Chola, the crown prince and the commander of Northern troops in Sundara Chola's reign. He was a glorious brave warrior who entered the battlefield at the age of 12. He was known all over the empire for his valiant acts. It was him who sent Vandiyathevan to Kundavai for being her trustful guard. Aditya Karikalan was little hasty and had unpredictable anger due to the dark past he encountered. That gave all the conspirators a reason to conspire against him.
- Thirukovalur Malaiyaman alias Milaadudaiyar: Father-in-law of Sundara Chola and maternal grandfather for his children. He was a well-wisher and advisor for Aditya Karikalan and lived with him in Kanchi. He was a rival of the Kadamboor ruler.
- Parthibendra Pallava: Friend of Aditya Karikalan, who comes from the lineage of Pallavas. He fought along with Aditya in his battles. He lusts after Nandini and hates Vandiyathevan from the beginning.
- Poonkuzhali:. A boat woman, she was born and raised in Kodikkarai. She was adventurous and fearless and had a hate towards other men and civilisation. She had a great affection for her aunt Mandakini Devi. She had a love interest towards Arulmozhivarman who also had the same before she married Senthan Amuthan. She was named "Samudrakumari" (Princess of the Ocean) by the Prince Arulmozhi himself.
- Thiyaaga Vidankar: Father of Poonkuzhali and in-charge of the light house at Kodikkarai. He is the younger brother of Mandakini Devi and Vaani Ammal.
- Rakkammaal: Sister-in-law of Poonkuzhali. She joined the Pandiyan conspirators due to her greed for money. Revadasa Kiramavithan was her father.
- Anbil Aniruddha Brahmarayar: The Prime Minister of Sundara Chola's Court and a trustful intimate close friend of him. He was very much respected by the people for his wit and intelligence. On the request of Sundara Chola, he became the minister and assisted Sundara Chola in administration apart from being a teacher. He knew the personal secrets of his friend and many royal secrets. He had many spies across the Chola empire that almost nothing could happen out of his knowledge. One of the best of them is Azhwarkadiyan.
- Boodhi Vikrama Kesari alias Kodumbalur Periya Velar: Irunkovel chieftain and uncle of Vaanathi. The Commander of the southern troops during Sundara Chola's reign. He fights along with Arulmozhi against Mahindan's troops in Sri Lanka. He had a desire to marry Vaanathi to Arulmozhi and thus make her the Queen. He and Thirukovalur Malaiyaman opposed the proposition of making Mathuranthakar the heir to the throne. Kodumbalur Velars and Pazhuvettaraiyars were rivals though they were both loyal to the Cholas.
- Arulmozhivarman alias Raja Raja Chola-I alias Ponniyin Selvan: One of the two protagonists of the story after whom the novel was named. The youngest son of Sundara Chola. He was raised in Pazhayarai by Periya Piratti and Ilaya Piratti. He was taught well by his sister and she sent him to Sri Lanka at the age of 19 for battle. He was said to be saved by the Mother Kaveri herself from drowning in the river when he was 5. This gave him the title "Ponniyin Selvan" or "Son of Kaveri". He was beloved by all the people and soldiers of the Chola kingdom and even in Sri Lanka due to his religious tolerance, good behaviour towards all the people and his facial attraction. He had an equality towards all religions but was more attracted to Shaivism and showed brief interest in Buddhism.
- Mandakini Devi aka Singala Naachiyaar aka Oomai Rani("The Mute Queen"): The deaf and mute mother of Nandini and Madurantaka. Love interest of Sundara Chola. She had great affection towards his children and her niece, Poonguzhali. She is always around Arulmozhivarman and saves him from many dangers.
- Murugaiyan: Elder brother of Poonkuzhali. Husband of Rakkammal. He rowed the Pandiyan conspirators to Sri Lanka from Kodikkarai. But later compensated his unknowing wrongdoing by helping Arulmozhivarman reach Thanjavur.
- Manimekalai: Innocent and shy princess of Kadamboor. Younger sister of Kandan Maran and daughter of Kadamboor Sambuvaraiyar. She had a deep, immense one-sided love on Vandiyathevan.
- Karuthiruman aka Paithiyakaran (The Madman): An assistant of Veerapandian and prisoner in the dungeons of Thanjavur. Claims to know the location of Pandyan crown and scepter hidden in Sri Lanka.
Other characters in the novel are:
- Kudanthai Jothidar: (jothidar- astrologer) The astrologer in the town of Kudanthai (present day Kumbakonam) who predicts that Arulmozhivarman will become a great emperor. He also mentions that Vanathi will marry Arulmozhi and bear a great king who will take the Chola dynasty to its glory. He later moves to Thiruvaiyaru since his house was destructed by the Kaveri floods.
- Kalyani: Mother of Sundara Chola. Wife of Arinjaya Chola.
- Paranthakan Devi: Another wife of Sundara Chola.
- Eesaana Sivabattar: The priest of the Shiva temple in Pazhayarai. Elder brother of Azhwarkadiyan and foster brother of Nandini. He helps Vandiyathevan to meet Kundavai secretly in Pazhayarai when Pazhuvettararaiyars were searching for him there.
- Aacharya Bhikku: The head monk in Chudamani Vihara of Nagapattinam who saves Arulmozhivarman when he was affected by a lethal flu.
- The Pandyan Prince whom the Pandyan conspirators made the successor of Veerapandiyan at Thirupurambiyam Pallipadai.
- Chandramathi: Maid and companion of Manimekalai in Kadambur palace.
Prequels and Sequels
Malarcholai Mangai is a prequel of Ponniyin Selvan written by Dr.L. Kailasam, which describes how Vandiyathevan, the hero of Ponniyin Selvan was brought up in his childhood to become a hero. Kaveri Mainthan written by Anusha Venkatesh and Nandipurathu Nayagai written by Vikraman are famous sequels of Ponniyin Selvan
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (January 2020)
There have been several attempts to create film adaptations of Ponniyin Selvan, beginning with an attempt in 1958, M. G. Ramachandran announced Ponniyin Selvan, a film adaptation of the novel. Ramachandran bought the film rights to the novel for ₹10,000 (equivalent to ₹770,000 or US$11,000 in 2019), and would produce, direct and star in the adaptation, which would feature an ensemble cast including Vyjayanthimala Bali, Gemini Ganesan, Padmini, Savitri, B. Saroja Devi, M. N. Rajam, T. S. Balaiah, M. N. Nambiar, O. A. K. Thevar and Chittor V. Nagaiah. Before shooting could begin, Ramachandran met with an accident, and the wound took six months to heal, Ramachandran was unable to continue with the film despite renewing the rights four years later.
A 32-hour animation film was created by Rewinda Movie Toons, a Chennai-based animation studio. The project was started in 2008 and took seven years to complete. The film is distributed over 15 DVDs and will be released direct-to-video by April 2015.
Director Mani Ratnam also attempted to film a complete adaptation of the book for a 2012 release, but had to shelve the project due issues with the potential budget for the film and difficulty locating financiers to back the project.
In 2019, however, Mani Ratnam officially restarted production, and is expected to make it in two parts, with part one releasing in 2021. Ratnam's adaptation will feature an ensemble cast consisting of Vikram, Karthi, Jayam Ravi, Parthiepan, Jayaram, Aishwarya Rai, Trisha, Aishwarya Rajesh, Vikram Prabhu, and Ashwin Kakumanu, with Prabhu and Aishwarya Lekshmi also having reportedly signed on as well, the film Ponniyin Selvan's principal photography began on 11 December 2019 and a poster was released on 2 January 2020.
Avvai Shanmugam was the first to organise a conference on Tamil drama in Erode, and the first to organise a drama contest, in 1945. One of the prize winning scripts was 'Raja Raja Chozhan,’ which was staged in 1955 with Shanmugam as prince Rajendra. 'Raja Raja Chozhan' was also presented at the Motilal Nehru Centenary celebrations in Delhi in 1961, earning compliments from Nehru for the splendid acting. In Singapore, 'Raja Raja Chozhan' was also enacted 90 times. Overall it was staged 2,146 times.
Avvai Shanmugam played the role of Maamallan in Kalki's 'Sivakamiyin Sabatham' and the sets were grand, befitting the story. For the scene in which Paranjothi tames an elephant that runs amok, two men inside a specially made elephant, operated levers as they walked in unison.
In 1999 the book was adapted into a stage play by E. Kumaravel and was staged by Magic Lantern Theater in Buck's Theatre inside YMCA Nandanam, Chennai. The script's length was originally over nine hours long, but was shortened into a performance time of four hours and 20 minutes and featured 72 actors on a multi-level setting.
Again, the book was adapted into a stage play in a very grand scale by SS International Live along with Magic Lantern theatre group in Chennai, in June 2014. The crew includes Kumaravel, who penned the screenplay & dialogues, Thotta Tharani as art director, Preethi Athreya as costume designer and Bhanu leading the make-up and hair styling department. Pravin directed the play.
An attempt to turn the book into a television serial was made by Makkal TV, but was shelved. Another attempt to adapt the novel into a series by Soundarya Rajinikanth and Eros International surfaced in March 2015.
Upcoming web series
In 2019, a web series adaptation was announced, which would be co-produced by MX player and May 6 Entertainment with creative direction by Soundarya Rajinikanth and direction by Sooriyaprathap S.
In 2017, Nila comics started releasing series of comic books where every comic book is an adaptation of two chapters from the novel. It is available in Tamil and English. As of January 2019, There have been 18 comic books released in Tamil and 10 in English.
English and other translations
There are at least five different translations of Ponniyin Selvan available in English by Indra Neelamegam, CV Karthik Narayanan, Varalotti Rengasamy, Sumeetha Manikandan and an ongoing one by Pavithra Srinivasan. On 21 February 2015, a Sanskrit translation by Rajalakshmi Srinivasan was released at a public function in Chennai.
|C.V.Karthik Narayanan||Ponniyin Selvan Part 1 : The First Floods||404||Macmillan Publishers,
Pustaka Digital Media
|Ponniyin Selvan Part 2 : The Cyclone||370|
|Ponniyin Selvan Part 3 : The Killer Sword||288|
|Ponniyin Selvan Part 4 : The Crown||274|
|Ponniyin Selvan Part 5 : The Pinnacle of Sacrifice – Volume 1||300|
|Ponniyin Selvan Part 5 : The Pinnacle of Sacrifice – Volume 2||387|
|Ponniyin Selvan – All Volumes||2831|
|Pavithra Srinivasan||Ponniyin Selvan Book 1: Fresh Floods||499||14 November 2014||Tranquebar|||
|Ponniyin Selvan Book 2: Whirlwinds||454||3 February 2016|
|Ponniyin Selvan Book 3: Sword of Slaughter||401||7 January 2019||Westland|
|Ponniyin Selvan Book 4: The Jewelled Crown||in preparation|
|Indra Neelamegam||The Son of Ponni: Volume 1 – New Floods|||
|Ponniyin Selvan: New Floods, Whirlwind||619|
|Varalotti Rengasamy||Kalki's Ponniyin Selvan Part-1 to Part-5 Set||2128||2016||Kavitha Publication|||
|Sumeetha Manikandan||Ponni's Beloved Volume 1: New Floods||341||2019|||
|Ponni's Beloved Volume 2: The Storm||389||2019|
|Ponni's Beloved Volume 3: The Sword||Soon to be published|
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- "The stage is his world". The Hindu. Retrieved 11 February 2013.
- Ananda Vikatan "Ponniyin Selvan – Kodayil Medayil", Vikatan.com Private Limited, TamilNadu, 30 April 2014.
- "Gopika's sister to debut". India Glitz. Retrieved 11 February 2013.
- B. Kolappan (27 March 2015). "Ponniyin Selvan to come alive on screen". The Hindu.
- Ponniyin Selvan – An MX Original Series | Announcement | Soundarya Rajinikanth | May 6 Entertainment, retrieved 4 January 2020
- "MX Player to adapt epic novel – Ponniyin Selvan as original series, Soundarya Rajnikanth to produce the show – Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
- Poorvaja, S. (31 October 2017). "Ponniyin Selvan, now in comic book avatar". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
- "Buy Tamil Books – Nila Comics". Retrieved 4 January 2020.
- "Buy English Books – Nila Comics". Retrieved 4 January 2020.
- Ponniyin Selvan
- CV Karthik Narayanan Goodreads page
- Ponniyin Selvan translation – Pavithra Srinivasan
- "Linguistic diversity an asset: Smriti Irani". The Hindu. Chennai. 22 February 2015. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 7 January 2018.
- "C.V.Karthik Narayanan English Novels | English ebooks online | Pustaka". www.pustaka.co.in. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
- "Amazon.in: C.V.Karthik Narayanan ponniyin selvan: Kindle Store". www.amazon.in. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
- "Amazon.in: Ponniyin Selvan Pavithra Srinivasan: Kindle Store". www.amazon.in. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
- "Amazon.in: Indra Neelameggham: Kindle Store". www.amazon.in. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
- Kalki's Ponniyin Selvan Part-1 to Part-5 Set (English) (Historical Novel) Paperback – 2016. ASIN 8183455476.
- "Amazon.in: Sumeetha Manikandan Ponniyin Selvan: Kindle Store". www.amazon.in. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
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- Balasubramanian, Kudavoil. "Udaiyarkugi Inscription", Varalaaru