A news report from Srilanka tells about the restoration of Thirukeshwaram temple at Mannar for worship after 30 years. The interesting information in the report is that this temple was believed to be one where Mandothari, the wife of Ravana worshiped!
It is easy to dismiss this as a myth or a belief spread by people. The main reason for doing so is that Rama (and therefore Ravana / Mandothari also) lived in Thretha yuga. The Chathur Maha yuga that is commonly known, runs into 43,20,000 years. As per this calculation, Thretha yuga happened 13 lakh years ago. How can we have some structure of such an old period to exist even today is the question.
I have been saying in many of my articles that classification of Yugas had been different in different scales of measurement. All Sidhdanthic texts of astrology begin with explaining the Cosmos. Due to its vastness, the cosmos can not be explained in the time scale of days, months and a few hundreds of years.
It is similar to how we explain the distance within our own solar system. For shorter distance, say, between the earth and the moon, we express in miles or kilometers. But when it comes to expressing the distance between the planets or between the planets and the sun, we express in terms of astronomical unit. When we speak about stars, the astronomical unit becomes irrelevant. We talk in terms of parsecs then.
Similarly, the Chathur maha yuga scale running into lakhs of years is easy to express the duration of day or night of the four-faced Brahma. The easiest way to understand the duration of day time of Brahma is to say that it consists of 14 manvanthras. To locate our place in this day, we say that we are in the 7th manvanthra which means that we have just crossed half the day of Brahma and we are left with an equal duration to finish our 'run' in the cosmos.
In terms of sun's movement, we can say that within this day of Brahma, our sun would complete 20 rounds around the centre of our Milky Way galaxy. Modern science calculates that one round of the sun is roughly equivalent to 220 million years! So this is how we express time for easy grasp of the phenomenal stretch of it.
Yugas of huge number solar years is used to express Time in the vastness of Cosmos. All Siddhanthic literature of Jyothisha begins with the explanation of Cosmos. In that context, they will speak about yugas of lakhs of years. To put it in other words, if you
come across a text expressing Time in terms of Yugas of lakhs of years, know that it is a 'Siddhantha'.
There are rules in writing down principles of astrology and astronomy. According to these rules, Siddhanthas will refer to Chathur maha yugas and kalpa (day of Brahma) . 'Tantra' texts of Jyothisha begin with a reference to the nearest Maha Yuga from the date when the text was written. For example Aryabhateeyam is a Tantra text. The reference point was the Kali Maha yuga. There are 'Karana' texts which make a reference to the saka varusha. For all other texts (Jyothisha or other wise), the reference or locating the time will be in terms of the 60 years (of Prabhava, Vibhava).
Therefore we must not get confused with Maha yugas for the time frame of Man's life which runs into a few decades. Read this post to get more details on how the Yugas are simplified.
Coming to the news on Mandothari's connection to a temple in Srilanka, the period of Rama and Ravana were well within the last 10, 000 years. Tamils had lived in the extended land of Kumari at the time when Ravana was ruling Lanka.
It is known from the copper plates recovered from Sinnamanur that there existed a Pandyan king who defeated the ten-hooded Ravana!! It can be read here.
// 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). 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). //
These Sinnamanur inscriptions were written in the reign of Pandyan Rajasimha, the grandson of Sree maran srivallbhan alias Parachakra kolahalan, who was the contemporary of Periazhwar.
Rajasimhan was the contemporary of Chola king Parantaka I who reigned at the commencement of 10th century AD. So these inscriptions were written at that time.
The two kings mentioned in that portion (where reference to conquest over Ravana is mentioned) can be identified. One was Ugra Pandyan and the other was Kadum kOn from whose name the genealogy is mentioned in the inscriptions.
Ugra pandyan came in the lineage of Meenakshi and Somasundareswar in ThenMadurai. He stopped the surging ocean for which he came to celebrated as "kadal vadimbalam nindra Pandyan'. We can locate this incident in nearly 5 other texts, most importantly in Thiruvilayaadal puranam and Silappadhikararam.
We don't have the name of the Pandyan king who overpowered Ravana. There is no mention of this in Sangam texts too, whereas there is frequent mention of Ugra Pandyan. The reason is not difficult to trace.
Pandyans belonged to Lunar race whose Guiding God was Shiva. Usually the devotees of Shiva used to treat the other devotes of Shiva with very high reverence. Both the Pandyans and Ravana were well known Shiva devotees.
There is a less chance of enmity with a devotee of Shiva (Ravana), except in an extraordinary situation when the Pandyans had faced threat from him.
Since Ravana was a devotee of Shiva, the Shaivite Pandyan who conquered him, would not have gloated about that. This can be said with a good measure of conviction because we come across many shaivite kings, devotees of Shiva and nayanmaars who did not harm or fight with a fellow devotee of Shiva.
That is perhaps why the victory over Ravana was not highlighted by later kings.
What is to be noted is that when Ravana was around, the Tamil lands were ruled by Pandyan kings.
Another interesting information from the Sinnamanur inscriptions is that the Tamil part of it says that the Pandyans studied Tamil and Sanskrit (Vada mozhi) to excel Pandits. This is given in the 10th verse in the inscriptions.
That means Tamil and Sanskrit co existed thousands of years ago – even before the Pandyan kings learnt them and started Sangam for Promotion of Tamil.
I have been saying that Tamil existed as the spoken language for this manvathra
(1 manvanthra = 30,67,20,000 years. The current manvanthra started 8 crore years ago. Within this 8 crore years mankind found ups and downs in existence and civilization attributes periodically every 28,800 years). From the inscriptions, it is deduced that there had been learned ones (pandits) who studied both Tamil and Sanskrit. But giving a special status to Tamil began with the Pandyans patronizing it. They did it after mastering both languages by themselves.
On Ramayana connection in Srilanka
On Lanka in Tamil texts
On Tamil's antiquity
Ravana-linked ancient temple is restored
A centuries-old temple, believed to have been visited by King Ravana's wife Mandodari, in Sri Lanka's north-east has been restored to its past glory by the Army.
The historic Thirukeshwaram (Mahathithamanthottam) Hindu Kovil (temple) in Mannar, which was neglected during the LTTE days, received a new facelift after de-mining and was handed over by Army Engineers to authorities, a statement said. It said the temple will now conduct regular poojas.
Following a directive by Army Chief Jagath Jayasuriya, troops swung into action and commenced clearance of LTTE laid minefields in the Temple premises and its surroundings. "The temple is said to have been venerated by King Ravana's wife Princess Mandodari as the first one to make offerings to this sacred place," it said.
This Hindu temple in Mannar with its direct links to Trincomalee and Galle Thirukeshwaram Hindu Kovils of historic importance records a saga that also goes back to the days of Sri Lankan Prince Vijaya.
Legends tell the first structure of the kovil was built by Raja Raja Cholan and Rajendran Cholan of the Chola dynasty. The move was timed to coincide with the re-opening of the sacred Kovil which used to mark its feast on March 13 every year.
Thursday, March 18, 2010 - 08.25 GMT
Thirukeshwaram Kovil's feast after 30 years
The historic Thirukeshwaram (Mahathithamanthottam) Hindu Kovil in Mannar that remained totally neglected and dilapidated owing to LTTE terrorism was recently handed over by Army Engineers to religious authorities in order to conduct religious ceremonies once again.
Following a directive given by the Commander of the Army Lieutenant General Jagath Jayasuriya, the Army commenced clearance of LTTE laid minefields in the Kovil premises and its surroundings, as the first leg of the project on 4th March 2010.
Within six days the Army Engineers de-mined an area of about 509,050 sq.m and declared the area safe for use. This coincided with the re-opening of this sacred Kovil which used to mark its annual feast annually on 13th March on a grand scale.
After an absence of nearly 30 years, hundreds of devotees flocked to the shrine and conducted the annual feast on 13th March throughout the whole day. The feast continues until Vesak Full Moon Day's water cutting ceremony.
This Hindu temple in Mannar with its direct links to Trincomalee and Galle Thirukeshwaram Hindu Kovils of historic importance records a saga that goes back to the days of Prince Vijaya and other royalties, who had reportedly arrived there from overseas for religious offerings and veneration. Legends and folklore tell that the first structure of the Kovil at Mannar had been built by Kings Raja Raja Solan and 2nd Rajendran Sola.