An ascetic once presented King Adiyaman with a plate of gooseberries (amla). “O king,” said the ascetic, “these are no ordinary gooseberries. They give you a long life.”

The king thanked the ascetic and sent for Avvaiyar the poet whom he admired very much. He offered the gooseberries to the poet. Avvaiyar wanted the king to eat the gooseberries, so that he could enjoy a long life.

But Adiyaman insisted that the fruit of longevity was meant for a person like Avvai. “Kings may come and go. They are soon forgotten,” said the king. “Poems of gifted poets like you will be remembered forever for shaping people’s lives.”

Avvaiyar is remembered even today. Children in Tamil Nadu recite her poems. Adiyaman is also remembered as a great king who loved poetry.

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