The kingdom of Patan faces an ominous future. King Karnadev lies on his deathbed. His son, Jaydev, is too young to ascend the throne. Rumours abound of scheming warlords intent on establishing their own independence and powerful merchants plotting to wrest control from Patan fort.
A sprawling, fast-paced saga, The Glory of Patan is the first book in an epic trilogy about the exploits of the magnificent Chalukya dynasty at a crucial period in the history of Gujarat. Here’s a key excerpt!
At dawn a crowd assembled in the courtyard of the royal palace. A little further, outside the gate, women gathered and began wailing. In the days of yore, the king was considered the father of the kingdom and the behavior of the subjects reflected their filial attachment. Everyone congregated in the courtyard of the royal palace. The feudal lords, chieftains, Mandaleshwars and merchants sat on verandah lining the courtyard. After a while, Devprasad arrived and sat near the door. Then Munjal arrived. As the sun was about to rise, Jaydevkumar, Anandsuri, Shantichandra and the royal priest arrived. Everybody left for the ritual of jaldarshan. The prince walked ahead with the monk and the royal priest. Behind them walked two others – the leonine Devprasad and a dignified Munjal. The citizens of Patan gazed at the two men—they found the Mandaleshwar intimidating, the Chief Minister reassuring.
The group silently returned after the jaldarshan and the prince sat on the verandah with the samants. Women looked on from the screened balconies above. The people waited. For centuries, the kings of Patan were anointed thus. The subsequent coronation function was a formality and took place a few days later.
A mattress was laid in the centre of the verandah and Jaydevkumar took his place on it. On one side stood the royal priest and on the other stood Munjal. He looked invincible. The royal priest applied tilak to Jaydev’s forehead and put his father’s sword in Jaydev’s lap. As the royal priest turned away, Anandsuri came forward as if to apply the tilak. Devprasad bit his lip — this new ritual seemed to be in particular deference to the Jains. The onlookers were also startled. Traditionally it was the Nagarsheth’s right to apply the tilak after the royal priest. Before the monk could get any closer, Munjal interfered. Quietly, he took the vessel from the Jati’s hand and applied the tilak on Jaydev’s forehead. The flustered monk retreated. Some of the chieftains laughed out aloud. Munjal stepped back and said, “Victory to King Jaydev.” The people echoed his call. As the people fell silent, a bard recited a poem. Then gently Jaydev said, “I need to make a few changes.” The people fell silent. New possibilities raced through every mind. Jaydev began to speak his tutored lines.
“The kingdom has become desolate by the sad departure of my father. I am but a child, so some new arrangements need to be in place. My trusted and capable Chief Minster Munjal is being appointed as the general of our army at Madhupur and that of Chandravati’s.” The naïve among those present were pleased to hear this. However Munjal saw through the stratagem, and smiled in contempt. His enemies were gleeful, and the monk observed Munjal closely.
“And to my old Minister Shantichandra, I hand over the administration of the fort as Durgpal. I also appoint him to the position of Dandnayak that has been lying vacant for many years.” Jaydev handed over his sword to Shantichandra.
With the exception of Munjal, everybody was stunned as if struck by lightning. ‘Dandnayak at the age of forty? And not Munjal, whom all favoured, but instead Shantichandra – orthodox leader of the Jains!’
The people of Patan held Chandravati in low esteem, and were upset that a Minister from ‘there’ had been made Dandnayak. Nobody quite understood what had happened. As if on cue, paeans to the king were sung, a sign for the people to disperse.
The samants were happy. They feared Munjal and this reduction in his authority allayed their fears, somewhat. Devprasad was furious. His pride was wounded by the fact that someone else was appointed Dandnayak. He did not so much mind Shantichandra’s appointment, since he would be easier to handle than Munjal. So despite the humiliation, there was reason to be optimistic.
He returned home to find Tribhuvan waiting for him.
“So Father, how are things?”
“Nothing. It will be child’s play to keep Shantichandra in his place. What is that old man going to do now? We are unaffected here, so far our enemies seem to have tripped up.”
“Father, did you hear something else?”
“The gates of Patan are going to be shut at 12 noon.”
“What? Where did you hear that?” Devprasad said with his eyes wide.
“Munjal Mama came to me as I was standing and whispered in my ear that this order has been issued.”
“And then?” The Mandaleshwar asked eagerly.
“Then he left immediately. But I think this message was meant to be passed on to you.”
“Are they making preparations to capture me?”
“No, but it appears that preparation is being made to separate us from our army in Meral.”
“That must be it.” The Mandaleshwar put his hand on Tribhuvan’s shoulder.
“So they will keep me here by shutting the gates and will take control of my army by misguiding it. Looks like a shrewd advisor’s job. This is unlike Munjal. Yes, this is the hand of the monk.”
“Who? The one we met on our way?”
“Yes, the very same.”
“Then what you had planned for will not happen, right? Said Tribhuvan, “You had planned to stay in Patan while the army camped at Meral.”
“Yes, that will not work now. Minal Kaki wants to weaken Munjal’s position and mine. I am sure this plan was proposed by that monk from Chandravati. How can I and my army be separated? How can Munjal and Patan be separated?”
“Why didn’t Munjal Mama say anything?”
“Your uncle is a slave to Minaldevi. Bu let him do what he wants. Let us eat and get ready. We should leave Patan before noon. We will return when the dust has settled.” Devprasad said, “Son, you will face testing times ahead”.
“Father, I am ready for any test.”
“Let us see.” Pleased with his son’s courage, the Mandaleshwar said. “For now, we need the grace of Lord Mandukeshwar Mahadev”. The father and son began to make preparations for their departure.
Excerpt from The Glory Of Patan.