Ponniyin Selvan
This is the Cover Page of Ponniyin Selvan Part 1
Cover Page of Ponniyin Selvan Part 1 published by Vanathi Pathipagam
AuthorKalki Krishnamurthy
Original titleபொன்னியின் செல்வன்
  • Pavithra Srinivasan
  • Indra Neelameggham (1993)
  • C.V. Karthik Narayanan (1999)
Cover artistManiam
GenreHistorical, Romance, Espionage, Thriller, fiction
  • Serialised: 29 October 1950 – 16 May 1954 (Kalki)
  • Book form: 1955 (Mangala Noolagam)
Published in English
Media typePrint (Serial)
ISBN9788183451536 (Kavitha Publication ed.)
Preceded byParthiban Kanavu 
Original text
பொன்னியின் செல்வன் at Tamil Wikisource

Ponniyin Selvan (English: The Son of Ponni) is a historical fiction novel by Kalki Krishnamurthy, written in Tamil. The novel was first serialised in the weekly editions of Kalki from 29 October 1950 to 16 May 1954, and released in book form of five parts in 1955. In five volumes, or about 2,210 pages, it tells the story of early days of Arulmozhivarman (அருள்மொழிவர்மன்), who later became the great Chola emperor Rajaraja Chola I. 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.[1] 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 series adaptation of the novel is in production, being directed by Indian filmmaker Mani Ratnam.

Book volumes


Volume Title Chapters Note
1 புது வெள்ளம் (transl. New Floods) 57 The story unfolds with the journey of the protagonist Vandhiyadhevan to the capital Thanjavur. Ends with Vandhiyadhevan making enemies with the Royalty and joining the Royal services.
2 சுழற்காற்று (transl. Whirlwind) 53 The events take place in Sri Lanka where Ponniyin Selvan (Raja Raja Cholan) is stationed for "Eezhathu Por" (Battle of Lanka), the tragic stories from the past of the characters' lives.
3 கொலை வாள் (transl. Sword of Slaughter) 46 The revenge set up by the suicide squad of Veera Pandiyan (Aabathuthavigal) against Aditha Karikalan and Chola Empire, the plot devised by Nandhini.
4 மணிமகுடம் (transl. The Crown) 46 The struggle for the crown among the members of the Chola dynasty. The inside conspiracy is being revealed eventually among the patriots.
5 தியாக சிகரம் (transl. The Pinnacle of Sacrifice) 91 The Climax is being set. The conspiracy is broken due to a lack of motivation and the head of the conspiracy comes to senses. The rulers are reunited and the danger is averted. The rightful prince offers the throne to his cousin out of magnanimity. The tragic deaths of the main characters also add sorrow to the fact that the story ends.


Chart of characters involved in Ponniyin Selvan.
Chart of characters involved in Ponniyin Selvan.

In order of appearance (omitting the flashbacks)

Other characters in the novel are:

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

Plot summary

The story revolves around Vandiyathevan, a charming, brave and brilliant young man who sets out across the Chola land to deliver a message from the Crown Prince Adithya Karikalan to the King and the Princess. The story shuttles between Vandiyathevan's travels in Chola country and the young Prince Arulmozhivarman's (later known as Raja Raja Chola) travels in Sri Lanka. The narrative deals with attempts by his sister Kundavai to bring back Arulmozhivarman to establish political peace in a land seemingly beset with unrest and civil war plotted by vassals and petty chieftains.

Parantaka Chola was succeeded by his second son Gandaraditya as the first son Rajaditya had died in a battle. At the time of Gandaraditya's death, his son Maduranthaka was a two-year-old child and hence Gandaraditya’s brother Arinjaya ascended the throne. After Arinjaya’s death, his son Parantaka II (Sundara Chola) was crowned. He had two sons, Adithya Karikalan, Arulmozhivarman, and a daughter named Kundavai.

When the story begins, the emperor Sundara Chola is ill and bedridden. His son Adithya Karikalan is the general of the Northern Command and lives in Kanchi. The younger son Arulmozhivarman (who would be famous later as Raja Raja Chola I) is in Sri Lanka in battle. Their sister Kundavai Piratti lives in the Chola royal household at Pazhayarai.

The story advances when rumors abound that there is a conspiracy against Sundara Chola and his sons. One person who gets a glimpse of the Pandya conspirators is a warrior named Vanar Kula Veeran Vallavarayan Vandiyathevan at the palace of his friend Kandhamaaran.

It is through Vandiyathevan that we meet most of the characters in the novel such as Arulmozhivarman, the prince whom all the people loved, and Periya Pazhavetturayar, the chancellor who married Nandhini (the main conspirator), when he was sixty. During his youth, Adithya Karikalan had fallen in love with Nandhini, but she turned vengeful and vowed to destroy the Chola dynasty after Adithya Karikalan killed Veerapandyan (who was probably her lover. It was a confusion which revolves in the story, some says it was her father). We also meet Kundavai Piratti, who after hearing the news of the conspiracy sends Vandiyathevan to Sri Lanka to give a message to Arulmozhivarman to come back immediately.

Besides these, there are other characters like Maduranthaka Thevar (the man whom the conspirators want to crown king), the son of Gandaraditya and Aniruddha Brahmarayar, Sundara Cholar’s Prime Minister and the man who has eyes and ears everywhere. But the most wonderful character in the book is Brahmarayar’s spy Azhwarkadiyan Nambi, a man who roams around the country challenging for debates. He collects information for the Prime Minister and is always around Vandiyathevan, rescuing him during trouble.

There are some lovely and adorable women too, like Vanathi, Kodumbalur princess (the woman who becomes Arulmozhi's wife later) who is in love with Arulmozhi; Poonkuzhali, the boat woman who rows the future king to Lanka; Mandakini, the deaf and dumb step mother of the original Maduranthaka Chola and the aunt of Poonkuzhali. Most memorable among these is Nandhini, whose beauty is said to have the power to influence any man. Manimegalai, the sister of Kandhamaran (the Kadamboor prince) who helps nandhini without any knowledge that she herself is the conspirator and also he turns against Vandhiyathevan, his best friend.

Meanwhile, with Poonkuzhali's help, Vandiyathevan reaches Sri Lanka, meets Arulmozhivarman, and becomes his close friend. In Lanka, Arulmozhivarman realizes that his father had spent some time in an island near Lanka and had been with a girl born deaf and dumb. He meets her and realizes from her drawing that she and his father have had two children. Who are those children and do they have the right to the throne? Later one day in Thirupurambayam forest Vandiyathevan sees Nandhini and the Pandya conspirators place a small boy on a throne and take a vow in front of him. Who is this boy and what right does he have to the throne?

While coming back from Lanka, Arulmozhivarman is caught in a cyclone and goes missing. Rumor spreads that he is dead, but he survives and stays at Choodamani Viharam, a Buddhist monastery in. Then slowly the dispersed family starts assembling. The conspirators meanwhile choose one day in which both the king and both of his sons would be assassinated.

Nandhini in the meantime calls Adithya Karikalan to Kadambur Palace to discuss about the future of kingdom. Though Karikalan knows that his life is in utter danger, he travels to Kadambur palace to meet with Nandhini. Adithya Karikalan is then assassinated at Kadambur palace.

Meanwhile, Arulmozhivarman recovers and returns to Tanjore, where he was forced initially to accept being crowned. Later, he tricks everyone and crowns his uncle Uthama Chola. Thus the fifth part of the book is named as Tyaga Sigaram, pinnacle of sacrifice.


The novel was first serialised in the weekly editions of Kalki during period from 29 October 1950 to 16 May 1954 resulting the total period of development of work be 3 years, 6 months, and 18 days. The following year, Managala Noolagam released the novel in book form.[2][3]



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 810,000 or US$10,000 in 2020), and would produce, direct and star in the adaptation which would feature an ensemble cast including Gemini Ganesan, Vyjayanthimala Bali, 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.[4][5][6]

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.[7]

Upcoming film

Main article: Ponniyin Selvan: I

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.[citation needed]

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, Jayaram, Lal, Parthiepan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Trisha, Jyothika, 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[8] and a poster was released on 2 January 2020.[9] On 18 September 2021, the filming for both the parts got completed.[10] The film is going to release on 30th September 2022 in five different languages.[11][1]

Stage play

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.[citation needed]

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.[12]

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.[13] 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.[citation needed]

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.[14]

Chicago Tamil Sangam staged the play in May 2013 with over 40 volunteers in cast and crew.[15]


An attempt to turn the book into a television serial was made by Makkal TV, but was shelved.[16] Another attempt to adapt the novel into a series by Soundarya Rajinikanth and Eros International surfaced in March 2015.[17]

Upcoming web series

Main article: Ponniyin Selvan (web series)

In 2019, a web series adaptation was announced,[18] which would be co-produced by MX player and May 6 Entertainment with creative direction by Soundarya Rajinikanth and direction by S. Sooriyaprathap.[19]

Comic books

In 2017, Nila comics started releasing series of comic books where every comic book is an adaptation of two chapters from the novel.[20] It is available in Tamil and English. As of January 2019, There have been 18 comic books released in Tamil and 10 in English.[21][22]

English and other translations

There are at least five different translations of Ponniyin Selvan available in English by Indra Neelamegam,[23] Pavithra Srinivasan, CV Karthik Narayanan, Varalotti Rengasamy and Sumeetha Manikandan. On 21 February 2015, a Sanskrit translation by Rajalakshmi Srinivasan was released at a public function in Chennai.[24][25]

English translations

Translator Title Pages Publication date Publisher(s) Ref(s)
Pavithra Srinivasan Ponniyin Selvan Book 1: Fresh Floods 454 1 December 2019 Zero Degree [26][27]
Ponniyin Selvan Book 2: Whirlwinds 482 1 December 2019
Ponniyin Selvan Book 3: Sword of Slaughter 424 1 October 2020
Ponniyin Selvan Book 4: The Jewelled Crown 426 2 April 2021
Ponniyin Selvan Book 5: The Zenith of Sacrifice 866 1 January 2022
C.V.Karthik Narayanan Ponniyin Selvan Part 1 : The First Floods 404 Macmillan Publishers,

Laxmi Publications,

Trinity Press,

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
Indra Neelamegam Ponni's Beloved: Part 1– New Floods 1993, updated 2022 free on Project Madurai [30]
Ponni's Beloved: Part 2 -- Whirlwind 619 1995, updated 2022
Ponni's Beloved: Part 3 -- A Killing Sword Updated 2022
Varalotti Rengasamy Kalki's Ponniyin Selvan Part-1 to Part-5 Set 2128 2016 Kavitha Publication [31]
Sumeetha Manikandan Ponni's Beloved Volume 1: New Floods 341 2019 [32]
Ponni's Beloved Volume 2: The Storm 389 2019

Malayalam translation: In 2022, Ponniyin Selvan was translated to malayalam by G.Subramanian and it was published by D.C Books.

See also

  1. ^ "ponniyin selvan greatest novel ever written in Tamil literature". indianexpress. Indian Express. 27 August 2019. Retrieved 9 April 2021.
  2. ^ Ponniyin Selvan Eng Pt. 1 (1999), p. xv, Introduction. Ponniyin Selvan was first published in serial form in the Tamil weekly magazine Kalki ; it was begun in the issue dated 29 October 1950 and concluded in the issue for 16 May 1954.
  3. ^ Ponniyin Selvan Book (1955).
  4. ^ Bali, Karan (14 March 2018). "Films Announced But Never Started: Ponniyin Selvan". Upperstall.com. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  5. ^ Srivathsan, A. (19 October 2011). "Age hardly withers charm of Ponniyin Selvan". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  6. ^ "Mani is likely to drop Ponniyin Selvan". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 16 June 2013. Retrieved 11 February 2013.
  7. ^ B. Kolappan (9 April 2015). "Ponniyin Selvan in 32-hour animation film".
  8. ^ "Mani Ratnam to begin shooting Ponniyin Selvan in Thailand next month". India Today. Ist. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
  9. ^ "Mani Ratnam's 'Ponniyin Selvan' poster out, lyricist not mentioned in crew". www.thenewsminute.com. 2 January 2020. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
  10. ^ "Mani Ratnam wraps 'Ponniyin Selvan' shoot". The New Indian Express. 18 September 2021. Retrieved 18 September 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  11. ^ Palisetty, Ramya (19 September 2021). "Mani Ratnam wraps up Ponniyin Selvan shoot, film is set to release in 30th September 2022". India Today. Retrieved 19 September 2021.
  12. ^ Krishnamachari, Suganthy (16 August 2012). "Labour of love". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
  13. ^ "The stage is his world". The Hindu. 27 February 2009. Archived from the original on 3 March 2009. Retrieved 11 February 2013.
  14. ^ Ananda Vikatan "Ponniyin Selvan – Kodayil Medayil", Vikatan.com Private Limited, TamilNadu, 30 April 2014.
  15. ^ "Ponniyin Selvan".
  16. ^ "Gopika's sister to debut". India Glitz. Retrieved 11 February 2013.
  17. ^ B. Kolappan (27 March 2015). "Ponniyin Selvan to come alive on screen". The Hindu.
  18. ^ Ponniyin Selvan – An MX Original Series | Announcement | Soundarya Rajinikanth | May6 Entertainment, retrieved 4 January 2020
  19. ^ "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.
  20. ^ Poorvaja, S. (31 October 2017). "Ponniyin Selvan, now in comic book avatar". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  21. ^ "Buy Tamil Books – Nila Comics". Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  22. ^ "Buy English Books – Nila Comics". Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  23. ^ Ponniyin Selvan
  24. ^ "Linguistic diversity an asset: Smriti Irani". The Hindu. Chennai. 22 February 2015. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 7 January 2018.
  25. ^ Ponniyin Selvan Eng Indra (1993); Centenary Volume (1999).
  26. ^ "Amazon.in: Ponniyin Selvan". Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  27. ^ "Writer Pavithra Srinivasan no more". The Hindu. 16 July 2021.
  28. ^ "C.V.Karthik Narayanan English Novels | English ebooks online | Pustaka". www.pustaka.co.in. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
  29. ^ "Amazon.in: C.V.Karthik Narayanan ponniyin selvan: Kindle Store". www.amazon.in. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
  30. ^ Neelameggham, Indra. "Book Links". IndrasPonniyinSelvan. Indra Neelameggham. Retrieved 15 August 2022.
  31. ^ Kalki's Ponniyin Selvan Part-1 to Part-5 Set (English) (Historical Novel) Paperback – 2016. ASIN 8183455476.
  32. ^ "Amazon.in: Sumeetha Manikandan Ponniyin Selvan: Kindle Store". www.amazon.in. Retrieved 3 January 2020.


  • Krishnamurthy, Kalki (1955). Ponniyin Selvan பொன்னியின் செல்வன் (in Tamil). Madras: Mangala Noolagam. OCLC 84057533.
    • Krishnamurthy, Kalki. Puthu Vellam புது வெள்ளம் (in Tamil). Vol. 1.
    • Krishnamurthy, Kalki. Chuzharkaattru சுழற்காற்று (in Tamil). Vol. 2.
    • Krishnamurthy, Kalki. Kolaivaal கொலை வாள் (in Tamil). Vol. 3.
    • Krishnamurthy, Kalki. Manimakudam மணிமகுடம் (in Tamil). Vol. 4.
    • Krishnamurthy, Kalki. Thyaaga Sigaram தியாகச் சிகரம் (in Tamil). Vol. 5.
  • Neelameggham, Indra (1993). Ponniyin Selvan of Kalki Krishnamurthy.
    • Neelameggham, Indra. Neelameggham, R; Ramadorai, Elizabeth (eds.). Part 1A New Floods. Online: Project Madurai.
    • Neelameggham, Indra. Neelameggham, R; Ramadorai, Elizabeth (eds.). Part 1B New Floods. Online: Project Madurai.
    • Neelameggham, Indra. Neelameggham, R (ed.). Part 2A Whirwind. Online: Project Madurai.
    • Neelameggham, Indra. Neelameggham, R (ed.). Part 2B Whirwind. Online: Project Madurai.
    • Neelameggham, Indra. Neelameggham, R (ed.). Part 3A A Killing Sword. Online: Project Madurai.
  • Krishnan, Mini, ed. (1999). Kalki R. Krishnamurthy's Ponniyin Selvan. New Delhi: Macmillan India. OCLC 263145239.