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THE GOD SOLD WOOD, AND OVERCAME THE MINSTREL, NAMED YEMANATHEN IN SONG
While Varaguna-Pandian was reigning there came a minstrel from the north, who exhibited his art before the king, and received rewards. But becoming over-elated with success, the king sent for a bard, named Pattiren, and inquired of him whether he could venture to compete with the other so as to overcome him? The minstrel replied, "That he would use his best efforts and do what he could" hoping to overcome. A trial of skill was accordingly appointed. But Pattiren on going forth, and witnessing the effects of the other's music on all classes, quite desponded. He therefore went to the temple of Sundaresvarer, and made known the state of the case, with favourable acceptance. The god changed himself into the form of a very emaciated old man, and entered the town, in appearance a common cooly, with a lute or guitar slung on his shoulders and a bundle of fire-wood on his head, which latter he hawked about several streets, and then came and deposited it in the other verandah of Yemanathen's house. He then
strung his lute, and tried a few verses, which drew the attention of all within hearing. The minstrel inside hastily inquired, "Who is that playing?" and was told it was a cooly who sold fire-wood. He came out to see and inquired, "Who are thou?" To which question the god replied, " I am a slave of Pattiren the bard, and among many who listen to his inimitable song - I am one, who have heard, and by practice repeat what I can." "So -" said the minstrel, "well, chant yet once again." On this the god strung his lyre, and with an air of the greatest indifference, as if doing a very common thing, drew forth such strains that all persons left off work and forgot what they were about; while even inanimate things seemed endued with life, and the trees bowed their tops as if conscious of the minstrelsy. On its close, the minstrel Yemanathen said, "These are not such strains as I am accustomed to employ; but altogether superhuman or divine." Then reflecting, "if a slave of Pattiren can do this, what must Pattiren himself be?" he took measures for a hasty departure, and, with as little encumbrance as possible, set out in the night, to avoid the proposed trial of skill. The god now appeared in a dream to Pattiren, and said, "Your adversary has been defeated by me in the guise of a cooly selling wood, and is gone away." The next morning the king sent peons to call Yemanathen, who not finding him, returned and reported his departure; in consequence the king sent for Pattiren, who told him what the god had revealed to him. The king forthwith had him placed on an elephant, making a triumphal entry into the town; and loaded him with honours, saying, "Sundaresvarer called himself your slave, then we are all your slaves; and except singing before the god you shall be required henceforth in no other way to display your art." Pattiren returned to his house, and lived happily along with his family.
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