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Sunday, February 25, 2007


South Indian Inscriptions


Part IV

Miscellaneous Inscriptions From the Tamil Country

XVII.- Copper-plate grants from Sinnamanur, Tirukkalar and Tiruchchengodu & Two Pandya copper-plate grants from Sinnamanur

No. 206 Two Pandya copper-plate grants from Sinnamanur

No. 207 Tirukkalar Plate of Rajendra Chola I

No. 209 Tirukkalar Plate of Kulottungs-Chola I

No. 211 Tirukkalar Plate of Kulottunga-Chola III & Rajakesarivarman

Click here to continue Copper-plates from Sinnamanur, Tirukkalar...


These are two of the four sets of Pandya copper plate grants discovered so far and are herein published for the first time.  The Velvikudi grant of Parantaka Nedunjadaiyan has been edited by me in the Epigraphia Indica, Vol. XVII, pp. 291 to 309 and the Madras Museum Plates of Jatilavarman, by the late Rai Bahadur V. Venkayya in the Indian Antiquary, Vol. XXII, pp. 57 to 75.  These four, studied together, furnish a genealogy of the Pandyas from the early king Kadungon, who is said to have flourished at the close of the first Sangam of Tamil poets, down to Rajasimha-Pandya[1], the contemporary of the Chola king Parantaka I, who reigned at the commencement of the 10th century A.D.  With the invasion of the latter into the Pandya country and his capture of Madura, which earned for him the title ‘Madiraikonda’, the early Pandya power seems to have come to an end, and made room, for the next two centuries at least, for the unchallenged sway of the Cholas over the whole of Southern India.

The two grants under consideration have been thoroughly reported in the Annual Report on Epigraphy for 1906 - 1907, pp.62 ff.  Speaking of their provenance, Mr. Venkayya states “the plates are reported to have been found about 20 or 25 years ago (now nearly forty years) while digging for the foundation of the kitchen in the Vishnu temple at Sinnamanur[2] in the Periyakulam taluka of the Madura district, and have since been purchased for deposit in the Madras Museum, from their owner Mr. Rajam Ayyar.”

The bigger of the two sets consists of seven copper plates, measuring approximately 10” by 3 3/8”.  The thin rims which they once seem to have had, are now completely worn out.  The plates are numbered on their obverse sides, with the Tamil numerals 2 to 8 close to the right side of the ring hole, thus showing that the first plate, whose obverse must have borne the number 1, is now lost.  The last plate ending with the word Karkulattil, also shows that one or more plates which contained the last portion of the grant are lost.  The ring which held the plates together and which, judging by the size of the ring holes in the middle of the left margin of each plate, must have been a little less than 3/8” in thickness, is missing.  The existing seven plates weigh 390 tolas.

The smaller set consists of three thin plates without rims, viz., the first, second and the last, with one or more plates of two written sides, missing between the second and the last.  The first and the last plates are not numbered as in the larger set.  The ring with which the plates were held together is lost.  The ring-hole is not, as usual, bored in the middle of the left margin, but at the left bottom or the left top corner, according as the written side of the plate is odd or even —  the sheets being meant evidently to be read by turning over the leaf, as in a palm-leaf manuscript without the necessity of actually removing the plate from the ring.  The plates measure 8 1/1 ½ “ by 3” and the three plates, together, weigh 51 tolas.

Both sets of plates use the Grantha alphabet wherever Sanskrit verses and Sanskrit words occur and the Tamil Vatteluttu where the Tamil language is employed.  The paleography of the smaller set of plates does not differ much from that of the Madras Museum plates of Parantaka Nedunjadaiyan, who, as I have stated already in my paper on the Velvikudi grant, has to be identified with the donor of the latter and therefore also with Maranjanjadiyan of the Anaimalai inscription.[3]

The remark made by Mr. Venkayya that the Madras Museum plates and the smaller Sinnamanur plates are nearer in point of time to the larger Sinnamanur plates than they are to the Velvikudi grant, has been already examined by me in the light of the palaeography of the plates under publication.  I have noticed that the difference in the formation of the Grantha characters of the Velvikudi, the Madras Museum and the smaller Sinnamanur plates all of which in my opinion belong to the same period, should be due to their having been written at different periods later than their Vatteluttu portions.  In the matter of their Vatteluttu writing, the smaller and the bigger Sinnamanur plates are far separated by time and the palaeographical differences are apparent.  The formation of the initial vowel a, the e-mark in consonants, the letters na, ma and ya  of which the two latter, it is surprising to find, resemble the ma and ya — of which the two latter, it is surprising to find, resemble the ma and ya of the Velvikudi and the Anaimalai inscriptions, —show marked differences.  The differences which the smaller Sinnamanur plates and the Madras Museum plates present, except in the formation of the letter ya, are very slight.  They are almost nil.  Consequently, Mr. Venkayy’s identification of the second king Arikesari Asamasaman Maravarman mentioned in the smaller Sinnamanur plates with Maravarman Pallavabhanjana of the Madras Museum plates and that of his son —  his unnamed son who was victorious at Marudur —  Jatilavarman Nedunjadaiyan of the same plates, becomes untenable even on the grounds of palaeography.  This point will become clearer in the sequel where the identification of the kings mentioned in the smaller and the bigger Sinnamanur plates is discussed.

The Sanskrit portion of the bigger Sinnamanur plates begins with a fragmentary verse in which the king (perhaps Pandya) boasts of having subdued the ocean —  an attribute which the mythical Pandya kings generally assumed in consequence, perhaps, of their sea-bordering kingdom, their naval power, and their sea-borne trade, from the earliest historical times.  From him were descended the kings known as Pandyas (v. 2) ‘who engraved their edicts on the Himalaya mountain’ and whose family-priest was the sage Agastya (v. 3).  One of the Pandya kings is said to have occupied the throne of Indra (v. 4) and another to have shared it with that god, and still another, to have caused the Ten-Headed (i.e., Ravana of Lanka) to sue for peace (v. 5).  One was a conqueror of the epic hero Arjuna (v. 7)[4].  Verse 8 refers to a king who cut off his own head in order to protect that of his master and also to a certain Sundara-Pandya who had mastered all the sciences.  Many kings of this family had performed Vedic sacrifices Rajasuya and Asvamedha (v. 9).[5]

In this family was born king Arikesarin.  His son was Jatila ; his son Rajasimha (II) ; his son Varaguna (I) ; and his son Sri-Mara entitled Srivallabha (v. 10).  Sri-Mara conquered Maya-Pandya, the kings of Kerala and Simhala, the Pallava and the Vallabha (v. 11).  His son was Parantaka the younger brother of Varaguna II (v. 12), who fought a battle at Kharagiri and captured Ugra (v. 13).  His wife was Vanavanmahadevi (v. 15) and their son was Rajasimha (III), the banner (both) of the solar and the lunar races (vv. 16 and 17).

A favourite of this king was the Brahman Parantaka, the son of Sreshthisarman, the grandson of the Vedic scholar Bhaskara (v. 21) and the great-grandson of Sreshthin, a Senguti-Kausika of Puttur (vv. 20 and 21).  The ancestors of this Parantaka were the followers of Angnivesya-kalpa — evidently the science of medicine —  and his maternal grandfather was the famous Urasarman of the Maudgalya lineage, of Syandanagrama.  To Sreshthisarman, king Parantaka Viranarayana had given the village of Maniyachi, surnamed Tisaichchudarmangala in Vada-Kalavali-nadu.  The ruling king Rajasimha (III) gave to the Brahman Parantaka in the 16th year of his reign, while encamped at Chulal in Rajasimha-kulakkil, the agrahara Narcheygai-Puttur surnamed Mandaragauravamangalam in Ala-nadu.

The Vijnapti of the grant was the councilor and poet Jatila (v. 33) of the Atri-gotra, while the ajnapti was Kurrangon, a servant of king Maravarman (v. 34).  The kudikaval was Nakkankuman, son of the headman of Kura in Kil-Vemba-nadu, who was a minister and the chief of the elephant forces.  Nakkan-Kada, Kon-Velan and Pataran-Cholai were three officers who witnessed the demarcation of the boundary line.  Verse 37 supplies for the king the surname Abhimanameru.

The composer of the prasasti was Vasudeva, a friend of Madhuraguna and the elder brother of Vishnu (v. 38).

The Tamil portion which begins with line 76 also praises the Pandya kings who belonged to the lunar race and bore the crest of the double fish, had Agastya as their family preceptor and counted the god (Siva) as one of the their family members.  Many other incidents, mostly mythical, are also registered of some of the early kings : such as, (1) churning the ocean for nectar ; (2) bathing in the waters of the four oceans in a single day ; (3) going round the earth ; (4) sending embassy to the gods on many occasions; (5) taking away the necklace of Pakasasana (Indra) ; (6) mastering the Tamil language of the south ; (7) driving away the sea by throwing a javelin ; (8) giving a thousand golden hills (Meru) in charity ; (9) founding the town of Madura and erecting a wall round it ; (10) studying Tamil and Sanskrit (vada-moli) as even to excel Pandits ; (11) leading elephants in the Bharata war against the Maharathas ; (12) relieving Vijaya (Arjuna) from the curse of vasu ; (13) engraving the victorious symbols of the fish, the tiger, and the bow on the top of the Northern mountain, i.e., the Himalayas ; (14) getting huge giants to work for them in building many tanks ; (15) cutting off the heads of two kings in the battles fought at Chitramayari and Talaiyalanganam ; (16) getting the Mahabharata translated into Tamil ; and (17) establishing the Tamil Sangam in the town of Madura.  After these kings had passed away, there came a king named parankusa who saw the back of (i.e., defeated) the Chera king at Nelveli and the Pallava king at Sankaramangai.  His grandson was Rajasimha, after whom came a king named Varaguna-Maharaja.  The exact relationship of this Varaguna-Maharaja to his predecessor Rajasimha has not been recorded.  Rajasimha’s son was Parachakrakolahala who was cuccesful in battles fought at Kunnur, Singalam (Ceylon) and Vilinam and who at Kudamukkil won a deadly battle against the combined armies of the Ganga, Pallava, Chola, Kalinga, Magadha and other kings.  Next came Varagunavarman, whose relationship to Parachakrakolahala is also not specified.  His younger brother was Parantakan Sadaiyan, who fought battles at Sennilam, Kharagiri and Pennagadam in the Kongu country.    To him and his queen Vanavanmahadevi was born Rajasimha surnamed Vikatavadava and Mandaragaurava.  This latter fought a battle at Ulappinimangalam, drove the king of Tanjai (Tanjore) in a battle fought at Naippur, won a battle at Kodumbai, burnt thetown of Vanji on the northern bank of the Ponni (Kaveri) river and destroyed the lord of the southern Tanjai country at Naval.

In the 14th year opposite to thesecond year of his reign (i.e., the 16th year asstated in the Sanskrit portion), this Rajasimha, while he was encamped at Chulal, a town founded by himself in the district of Rajasingapperungulakkil or Rajasimhakulakkil, granted to the Brahman Parantaka, the village Narcheygai-Puttur in Ala-nadu, re-naming it Mandaragauravamangalam.  As in the Sanskrit kportion, lines 147 to 155 seem to record that BhaskaranSetti (Sreshthisarman of the Sanskrit portion) the son of Bhaskara and the foremost of the Ombalvas of the Agnivesya-kalpa and the Komara-Kausika-gotra (Senguti-Kausika of the Sanskrit portion) dwelling in Puttur, in the Miygundaru (district) of Koluvur-kurram (division), had received from Parantaka Viranarayana, the village of Tisaichchudarmangalam in the Vadakalavali-nadu (province). From the Sanskrit passage, we learn that Maniyachi, which may be identified with the well-known junction station on the South Indian Railway, was surnamed Tisaichchudarmangalam.  The vinnappam (vijnapti in Sanskrit) i.e., the one who made the formal request to the king, was, according to the Tamil portion, a certain Sadiayapiran-Bhattasomayajin of Pullamangalam in Sola-nadu : and the ajnapti, as in the Sanskrit portion, was Kurrangon, a native of Vembarrur in Kalavalinadu.  Kuman or Nakkan-Kuman[6] (as he is called in Sanskrit) of the village of Kura in Kil-Vemba-nadu, was the kudikaval-nayakan or the chief revenue officer.  The three officers, who, according to the Sanskrit portion, were to witness the demarcation of the boundary line, are stated in the Tamil portion, to have been the kanakkar or accountants, the demarcation itself being done by the nattar, i.e., the district people of Ala-nadu.  Of the boundaries, the eastern boundary was the Suruli-aru (river).  The southern boundary of the village granted, which commences at the end of the eighth plate, must have been continued on the next, which is however missing.

Compared with the Velvikudi plates of Nedunjadaiyan, we find that the account given in the bigger Sinnamanur plates includes, as it should, many later Pandya kings.  The mild Puranic tradition of the Velvikudi plates connecting the Pandyas with Agastya, the churning of the milk ocean, and the sharing with Indra on half his throne and necklace, grows here into a big list with seven or eight other extra items added to it.  Some of these are interesting.  For instance, the going round the earth, and the bathing in the waters of the four oceans in a single day, are feats attributed to Vali, king of the monkeys[7].  Again, calling the aid of huge giants to build tanks in the Pandya land also seems to suggest the near connection which the Pandya country had with Ceylon, the land of Ravana.  The driving away of the sea by throwing a javelin is perhaps a reminiscence of a similar feat ascribed to the epic hero Rama.  The leading of elephants against the Maharasthas in the Bharata war is a fact which is commemorated also in literature, of the Chera king Senguttuvan, who is said to have fed the soldiers in the Mahabharata war.  Some of the other attributes, however, are of much historical value.  The mastery over the Tamil language of the south, the foundation of the town of Madura and the erection of a wall round it, the studying of Tamil and Sanskrit as even to excel Pandits, the initiating of the translation of the Mahabharata into Tamil and the establishing of the Tamil Sangam (academy) in the town of Madura —  these, clearly indicate the close connection the Pandya kings had with the development of the Tamil language and the foundation of the town of Madura.  The battles of Chitramuyari and Talaiyalanganam mentioned of one of the unnamed Pandya kings must be a reference to Nedunjeliyan who is spoken of in literature as the hero who gained success in the battle of Talaiyalanganam by defeating the Chola and the Chera kings.  Our plates add that the heads of these two kings were actually cut off and this was not in one battle as literature suggests, but in two, viz.,  Chitramuyari and Talaiyalanganam.

The genealogies of the Pandya kings as given in the Sanskrit and Tamil portions differ widely ; but still as both refer to the same grant, which was made in the sixteenth year of the same king, there cannot be any room for doubt.  Consequently, the statement of the Sanskrit and the Tamil portions have to be supplemented one with the other, in order to obtain a complete genealogy (see Table D in the attached sheet of genealogical tables).

The smaller Sinnamanur plates, after the usual invocation to god Purushottama (Vishnu) (v. 1), confer a benediction on the family of the Moon, in which were born the (Pandya) kings  who crushed the pride of the enemies of gods (v. 2).

In that family of the Moon, after many kings of great deeds had expired, came forth a son of Jayantavarman, the great king (paramesvara) Arikesari Asamasaman Alanghyavikrama Akalakala Maravarman.  His son was one who fought battles at Marudur and Kuvalaimalai.  Here comes a break and one or two plates on which the genealogy should have been continued, are lost.  What is left on the last plate treat only of the description of the boundary line of thegranted land or village, and mentions the Bhagavati temple of Korranputtur.  The anatti of the grant was Tayan Singan, the uttaramantri of Kundur in Kundurkurram of Anda-nadu.  The purankaval of this village was eighty-five kalams (of paddy).  The king himself, as in the Velvikudi plates (II. 151-152), made a declaration andcaused the copper-plate grant to be executed.  It may be noted that Korranputtur mentioned above, also figures among the boundaries of Velvikudi.  The record was written (or witnessed) by Arikesari, son of Pandi-Perumbanaikkaran who also wrote the Madras Museum plates.

Before proceeding further, it is necessary to have clearly before us the genealogical tables supplied by the four Pandya copper-plate grants, viz., (A) the Velvikudi grant, (B) the Madras Museum plates, (C) the smaller Sinnamanur plates and (D) the bigger Sinnamanur plates, severally.  For convenience of reference, it will be noted that the numbers given to the kings in the Velvikudi table are repeated in the other tables in cases where, for reasons explained in the sequel, the kings are identical.

The description of the three kings given in the smaller Sinnamanur plates enables us to identify at once the last who fought the battle at Marudur with (5) Sadaiyan ranadhira of the Velvikudi plates and his father with (4) Arikesari Asamasaman Maravarman of the same.  From this it further follows that Jayantavarman the father of Arikesari Asamasaman must be identified with (3) Seliyan Sendan.  Mr. K. V. Subrahmanya Ayyar suggess that Jayantavarman is perhaps a Sanskritized form of Sendan.  Thus the three kings referred to in the smaller Sinnamanur record, must be Nos. (3), (4) and (5) of Mr. Venkayya’s genealogical table given at page 54 of part II of the Madras Epigraphical Report for 1908.  It is, therefore, difficult to see how or why Rai Bahadur V. Venkayya must have been inclined to attribute the smaller Sinnamanur plates to Parantaka Viranarayana Sadaiyan of the bigger Sinnamanur plates (D), who comes three generations after (7) of the Velvikudi grant, especially after seeing that the three names mentioned in the smaller set are evidently only the first three names of what might have been a longer genealogy, similar to that of the Velvikudi grant or the bigger Sinnamanur plates.  The Madras Museum plates of Jatilavarman and the smaller Sinnamanur plates, Palaeographically, are almost of the same period, and if, as proved in my paper of the Velvikudi grant, the donor of the Madras Museum plates is identical with the donor of the Velvikudi grant, it follows that the donor of the smaller Sinnamanur plates too must be either Parantaka Nedunjadaiyan of the Velvikudi grant or an immediate successor of his.  So, the missing plate or plates after the second in the smaller Sinnamanur set should have contained the names of (5) Sadaiyan Ranadhira, (6) Termaran, (7) Parantaka Nedunjadaiyan and perhaps also his successor Rajasimha II.  It is very disappointing that these plates, are lost ; else, we would have had enough material to compare the genealogies and to identify the names.

In comparing next, the historical Pandya genealogy derived from the bigger Sinnamanur plates with that of the Velvikudi grant, one has to be guided not only by the common names and titles of kings belonging to about the same age, but also by the common battles fought and the common enemies conquered by them —  though it is not impossible that these may be repeated in history.  Palaeographical similarities no doubt often help in the identification of names but sometimes they also fail when the particular inscription from which we draw the inference happens to be a copy of some older document, written in a later hand.  Applying these methods we find that the first king Arikesari of the bigger Sinnamanur plates, who is said to have fought the battle of Nelveli against a Cheri king, will at first appear to be the same as Arikesari Maravarman (No. 4) of the Velvikudi grant whose enemy at Nelveli was a certain Vilveli[8] (perhaps a Chera).  But Arikesari of (A) did not, however, fight with the Pallava king as did Arikesari mentioned in (D).  The battle of Sankaramangai where Parankusa Arikesari of (D) defeated the Pallavas is not mentioned of No. 4 in (A) but Termaran (No. 6) a grandson of Arikesari (No. 4) is clearly said to have crushed the Pallava power.  Again, the title Parankusa, given to Arikesari in the Tamil portion of (D) makes it difficult to connect him witht hefirst Arikesari Maravarman (No. 4) of the Velvikudi plates.  So, it has to be assumed, at least hypothetically, that a second battle was fought at Nelveli by Parankusa Arikesari, like the first by his grandfather, Asamasaman Arikesari, against the very same or a different Chera king.  The fact that Parankusa Arikesari’s grandson is called Rajasimha in (D) suggests the possibility of Arikesari himself being also called Rajasimha, which title we actuallyfind for the first time given to Termaran in the Velvikudi plates.  Thus, the battle of Sankaramangai and the defeat of Pallavamalla and a possible second battle at Nelveli are the only common factors that might enable us to connect the genealogy of the bigger Sinnamnur plates with that of the Velvikudi grant.  Parankusa Arikesari must therefore be No. 6 Termaran, the contemporary of Pallavamalla (Cir. A. D. 760) as we learn from the Velvikudi grant.  If this admitted, Termaran (No. 6) of (A) must be presumed to have also had the titles Arikesarin and Parankusa, to have defeated the Pallavas at Sankaramangai before actually crushing Pallavamalla in the battles at Kulumbur and Periyalur and to have fought a second battle at Nelveli against as unnamed Chera.[9]

[1]  See below, Table on p. 446.  The three Pandya kings Perumbidugu Muttaraiyan alias Kuvavan Maran, his son Ilangovadiyaraiyan alias Maran Paramesvaran, and his son Perumbidugu Muttaraiyan alias Suvaran Maran mentioned in the Sendalai pillar inscriptions of about the 8th century A.D. do not appear in this genealogy.  Theyevidently belonged to a subordinate branch of the family and were perhaps kings of the southern Tanjai country, ruling almost independently of the imperial Pandyas at Madras and sometimes fighting with them.  See Ep. Ind., Vol. XIII, pp. 136 and 137.

[2]  Spelt Chinnamanur in the Alphabetical list of villages  in the Madras Presidency.

[3]  Ep. Ind., Vol. VIII, p. 317 f.

[4]  See Ind. Ant., Vol. XXII, p. 59 and foot-note 4.

[5]  The Tamil portion gives many more of such attributes to the Pandya ancestors; see below p. 443.

[6]  Valmiki-Ramayana, Uttarakanda, chapter 34.

[7]  Valmiki-Ramayana, Uttarakanda, chapter 34.

[8]  Dr. Krishnaswami Ayyangar suggest, however, that Vilveli here may probably be synonymous with Pallava, since Tirumangai-alvar in his Periya-Tirumoli makes Villagan synonymous with Pallava.  But it must be noted that Vilveli is different from Villavan.

[9]  Ep. Ind., Vol. XVII, pp.  298 and 295.


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