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Backstabbed by Treachery? 6 things to learn from History

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Can history teach us how to face betrayal and rise above it? Getting betrayed is among the hardest-to-digest experiences in life. Can we draw inspiration from real historical stories? Here is an example from historical fiction (based on facts, though), “Yavana Rani” or “The Greek Queen” is a novel that traces King Karikalan’s rise to the throne.

Here are 6 things one can take up as inspiration from this historical novel.

1) Running away does not necessarily make you a coward

The novel is based on a time about 2000 years ago when Karikala Chola came to power (The one who built Kallanai, the oldest dam still in use today). However, he had to flee for his life after his father, King Illamcetcenni is killed in a conspiracy, and the 12 minor chieftains under his kingdom join up with rival kingdoms of the Cheras and Pandyas.
2)You can start from scratch

He did not remain in hiding for nothing. He gathered an army much smaller than the Confederacy of Chera, Pandya armies, and the twelve minor chieftains. In the historic battle of Venni (which is now Kovilvenni, near Tanjore), Karikala secures a glorious victory bringing the enemy’s large army to the ground.

3) Observe your enemy and their situation and find their weaknesses.

Karikalan’s Commander in the story- Ilanchezhian, states that they cannot win over a large army if they march and advance to the enemy’s fort. Instead, he lays a plan to draw them to the battlefield.

4) Think differently, do not be put down by your wounds.

They attack and destroy croplands of enemy territory and chase away its people. This angers the enemy and draws the enemy’s army to the location of their choice- Venni. Soldiers of Karikalan’s army mix up with the commoners of the croplands and enter the enemy territory for a surprise attack. Karikalan’s commander also plots a clever battle formation of an “eagle”.

An eagle formation is a battle formation with soldiers positioned vertically like the body of an eagle plus two hidden army wings on the left and right sides of the enemy. The enemy’s battle formation was a semicircular “serpent’s body,” which was easy to attack. All they had to do was to disperse and attack the “the head” and “the tail” of the “serpent,”  which would weaken the entire strategy of the enemy. This idea worked like a charm for Karikala’s army.


5)You can fight treachery with treachery.

Karikalan began the battle before sunrise, attacking in the dark (which is not allowed). He advances his army forward long before dawn, leaving behind the lanterns and torches stuck on the ground. Imagine a man leaving his car with the headlights on but snooping forward towards you in the dark! Confusion in the enemy’s army followed, which our hero used to his full advantage. Treachery meets treachery.

6) Size does not matter-strategy do.

Finally, he brings them face-down. The Chera King later commits suicide. Karikalan lays the foundation for a new generation of successful Cholas and marries Velir Princess Alli (possibly after a war in history). Similarly, in the battle of Gaugamela, Alexander the Great brought down a much larger army of the Persian king Darius III using an odd and smart army strategy.

Another untold lesson from Karikalan
Fix the gory image of war

He builds the grand Kallanai across the flourishing river Cauvery, an achievement of his period that stands even today (fortified by the British to make the 2000-year-old dam stand firm).

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