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Wednesday, July 19, 2006


South Indian Inscriptions


  Tiruvarur Temple Inscriptions

No. 38. On the first niche of the west enclosure, third inscription.

This inscription describes seven images, which had been set up before the 29th year [of the reign of Rajarajadeva] by the same manager of the Rajarajesvara temple, who is mentioned in the inscription No. 26, and a number of ornaments, which had been given to these images by the same person (paragraphs 23 to 50)  and by the inhabitants of two towns (paragraphs 51 and 59).  The images represented Nambi-Aruranar (paragraphs 2, 23, 55, 59), Nangai-Paravaiyar (5, 25, 57, 66), Tirunavukkaraiyar (8, 29, 53), Tirunanasambandadigal (11, 36, 51), Periya-Perumal (14, 44), his consort Lokamahadevi (17, 47), and the god Chandrasekhara[1] (20). Of these, Periya-Perumal, ‘the great king,’ and his consort Lokamahadevi are perhaps identical with king Rajarajadeva and his queen Lokamahadevi,[2] both of whom may have been represented as worshipping the god Chandrasekhara, i.e., Siva, in whose honour the king had built the temple.

The inscription is of great importance for the history of Tamil literature, as kit forms a terminus and quem for the time of the reputed authors of the Devaram or Muvar-padal, a collection of hymns in honour of Siva. Dr. Caldwell[3] was inclined to assign this poem to the end of the thirteenth century. But the present inscription shows, that it must have been written before the time of Rajarajadeva. For the inscription mentions each of the three authors of the Devaram, viz., Tirunanasambandar, Tirunavukkaraiyar (alias Appar) and Nambi-Aruranar (alias Sundaramurti), also the latter’s wife Nangai-Paravaiyar.

It is not improbable, that the sixty-three Tiruttondar or Saiva devotees, among whom the three  authors of the Devaram are reckoned, belong to a much earlier period than that of Rajarajadeva. For one of them, who is mentioned along with the rest in  Sundaramurti’s humns,[4] was Kochchengannan,[5] the son of the Chola king Subhadeva and of his queen Kamalavati.[6]  This Kochchengannan appears to be identical with the Chola king Sengan, the hero of Poygaiyar’s contemporaneous Tamil poem kalavari, which was recently translated by Mr. V. Kanakasabhai Pillai.[7] The same scholar has published extracts from a latter tamil poem, the Kalingattu-Parani, which alludes successively, without mentioning the names themselves, to the three Chola kings Kokkilli Kochchengannan and Karikala.[8] In the two only copper-plate grants, which contain a genealogical account of the Chola dynasty, the same three kings are mentioned, though in different order, as ancestors of Vijayalaya, the grandfather of Parantaka I. The grant of the Bana king Hastimalla[9] enumerates them thus ; _ Kokkilli, Karikala and Kochchamkan; and in the large Leyden grant, they are arranged as follows : — Karikala, Kochchamkannan and Kokkilli. To the time of Karikala or, as he is also called in tamil,, Karikal belongs the Tamil poem Pattinappalai  by Rudrangannanar,[10] and to that of Sengan the above-mentioned Kalavari.[11] As poems in the Tamil language are thus  proved to have been composed in the time of the early Cholas, there is no objection to assigning the authors of the Devaram to the same period.

The legendary history of the sixty-three Tiruttondar, — and among these, of the three authors of the Devaram, — is narrated in the Periyapuranam by Sekkirar, who is said to have composed it during the reign of the Chola king Anapaya. The Tyagarajasvamin temple at Tiruvarur[12] contains an inscription of this king. The name Anapaya occurs in each of two Sanskrit verses at the end of the inscription, while in the introductory passage the king is called Ko-Rajakesarivarman, alias Tribhuvanachakravartin Sri-Kulottunga-Choladeva. In the 7th year of  his reign, he made gifts to four images, which had been set up in the Tiruvarur temple. As in the Tanjavur inscription, these were images of Aludaiya-Nambi (i.e., Sundaramurti), Paravai-Nachchiyar (the latter’s wife),[13] Aludaiya-Pillaiyar (i.e., Tirunanasambandar) and Tirunavukkarasudevar. The concluding portion of the inscription runs thus :-

“King  Anapaya, whose head glitters when placed at the feet of the lord of the Golden Hall, gave land, gold, brass, silver (and) other excellent treasures to the blessed Brahmapurisa, Vagadhipati and Svasvamimitra at the shrine of the blessed lord of Arur.

“I, called Anapaya, the bee at the lotus feet of Natesa (i.e., Siva) at the Golden Hall in the excellent Vyaghragrahara,[14] bow my head at the lotus feet of (future) princes, who are disposed to protect the charitable gifts made at Lakshmyalaya[15] by other (kings).[16] 

“The mother of Aludaiya-Nambi (was) Isainaniyar.

“The mother of the saint (viz., Sundaramurti), called Nani, was born at this (town of) Kamalapura, in the family of Nanasivacharya, in the Saiva (doctrine and) in the Gautama-gotra.”

The above passage shows, that king Anapaya  was a worshipper of the Siva temple at Chidambaram, and adds the name of Isainaniyar,[17] the mother of Sundaramurti, to those of Brahmapurisa (i.e., Tirunanasambandar), Vagadhipati (i.e., Tirunavukkaraiyar) and Svasvamimitra (i.e., Sundaramurti.)[18] 

Another inscription of the Tiruvarur temple, which is dated in the 5th year of Ko-Parakesarivarman, alias  Tribhuvanachakravartin Sri-Vikrama-Choladeva, contains a second reference to the subject of the Periyapuranam. From a written copy, which my assistant prepared during the few hours we could devote to the temple, it appears that the inscription relates to the legend of the calf, which was accidentally run over by the chariot of the son of the Chola king Manu. The same legend is located at Tiruvarur and told in other words in the introduction of the Periyapuranam (pages 10 to 12.) 

[1]  This image consisted of brass, while the other six were of copper.

[2]  See No.34, above.

[3]  Comparative  Grammar, 2nd edition, pp. 138 ff. of the Introduction.

[4]  Thennavanayulakaanda senganarkkadiyan ;“I (viz., Sundaramurti) am the servant of Senganar, who, having become king of the South, ruled  the world.”

[5]  I.e., ‘king (ko) Red-eye (sem-kan)

[6]  Page 239 of the Madras edition of the Periyapuranam.

[7]  Indian Antiquary, Vol. XVIII, pp. 259 ff.

[8]  Ibid., Vol. XIX, pp. 331, 339 and 341.

[9]  Salem Manual,  Vol. II, p. 369.

[10]  Published by Pandit Saminadaiyar in his Pattuppattu, Madras, 1889.  According  to the commentary on the Porunar-Arruppadai, another of the Pattuppattu, the name of Karikal’s father was Ilanjetchenni.

[11]  Both poems are referred to in the Kalingattu-Parani,  canto 8, verses 18 and 21.

[12]  In the  Nagapattanam (Negapatam) talluqa of the Tanjore district.

[13]  In the Tanjavur inscription, she is called Nangai-Paravaiyar, and in the Periyapuranam, Paravaiyar.

[14]  The mention of the Golden Hall in connection with Vyaghragrahara proves the correctness of the identification of this place with Chidambaram ; see Vol. I, p. 112, note 2.

[15]  Lakshmyalaya and, in the next verse, Kamalapura, ‘the town of Lakshmi,’ is evidently the Sanskrit  name of Arur or Tiruvaraur.

[16]  This verse contains the captatio benevolentia, which the donor usually addresses to his successors. 

[17]  The same female devotee is mentioned in the Periyapuranam, pages 1 and 240.

[18]  The correct explanation of the three words  Brahmapurisa,  Vagadhipati and Svasvamimitra is due to my assistant, who is engaged in a critical examination of the contents of the Periyapuranam.  The first refers to the birthplace of Tirunanasambandar, Sirgari (Shiyali), which was also called Brahmapuram.  The two others are Sanskrit translations of the tamil names Tirunavukkaraiyar and  Embiran-torar (i.e.,  Sundaramurti)

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