Thursday, July 8, 2010

Tamil king fed the armies of Mahabharatha war before 'Dravidians' flourished in Indus valley.(World Tamil Conference series -9)

Linking the Tamils to IVC must match with the versions given in the Sangam texts. The 2nd verse in Purananuru is in praise of a Cheran king Uthiyan Cheralaathan who came to be known as 'perunchottru uthiyan' (பெருஞ்சோற்று உதியன்) for having served food to the armies in the war fought between the Five and a Hundred. This description refers to the Kurukshethra war between the Pandavas (the 5 brothers on the side) and Kauravas (the 100 brothers on the other side).

That the five versus hundred indeed refers to the Pandavas and Kauravas can be substantiated from various other verses which mention the same as referring to the Pandavas and Kauravas.
They are Mayilai naathar urai for Nannool sutra - 343,
Viritthi uari for Nannool sutra - 344,
Urai for Ilakkana vilakkam sutra 247,
Perum paanaatruppadai - 415 - 7.

The epic Mahabharata speaks about an all -India character of the Mahabharata war where almost all the countries of Bharatha varsha of that day participated in the war. Mahabharata mentions the Pandyan king by name Sarangadwaja as having participated in the war. No other name of a Tamil king is specifically found in Mahabharatha.

But in Purananuru, the 2nd verse on this Cheran king specifically says that he had served food to the huge armies of the war. It is implied that he had not taken sides with any of the warring groups but had agreed to supply food to the armies.

The following verse from that song sung by Muranjiyur Mudi naagaraayar (முரஞ்சியூர் முடிநாகராயர்) addresses the king in first person.

அலங்குளைப் புரவி ஐவரோடு சினைஇ,
நிலந்தலைக் கொண்ட பொலம்பூந் தும்பை
ஈரைம் பதின்மரும் பொருது, களத்து ஒழியப்
பெருஞ்சோற்று மிகுபதம் வரையாது கொடுத்தோய்!

Meaning as found in the palm leaves collected by Dr U.Ve. Swaminatha Iyer:-

(நீ, அசைந்த தலையாட்டமணிந்த குதிரை உடைய பாண்டியர் ஐவருடனே சினந்து, நிலத்தைத் தம்மிடத்தே கொண்ட போர்பூந்தும்பையை உடைய துரியோதனன் முதலாகிய நூற்றுவரும் பொருது போர்களத்தின் கட்படுந்துணையும் பெருஞ சோறாகிய மிக்க உணவை இரு படைக்கும் வரையாது வழங்கினோய் ).

This explanation by unknown writers of an unknown past reveals two things.
(1) the Pandavas are described as those having horses and
(2) the Cheran king served huge quantities of food to the armies of both the sides.

It is because of this, the king got a Title "perunchottru uthiyan" (
பெருஞ்சோற்று உதியன்).

This verse is directly addressing this king. But this is not the only verse about this king in Sangam literature. There are other verses which speak about this deed of serving food to the armies.

In verse 233 of Akananuru it is said

"உதியஞ் சேரல்
பெருஞ்சோறு கொடுத்த ஞான்றை"


(in those times when Uthiyan Cheran king served food)

This shows there is a memory of a Cheran king who gave food to the armies of Mahabharata war.

Again in verse 165 of Akananuru it is said that water falls made a sound similar to the sound of the utensils from which Uthiyan served food.

"கொடைக்கடன் ஏன்ற கோடா நெஞ்சின்
உதியன் அட்டில் போல ஒலி எழுந்து"

In Silappadhikaram, verse 23 -55, the supply of food by the Cheran king is mentioned.

பெரும் சோறு பயந்த திருந்து வேல் தடக்கை"

This is a special mention because this king's name is mentioned along with the other kings who were well known for their special deeds. This verse actually tells about great kings - one each from the 3 dynasties of Pandyan, Cholan and Cheran lineage.

There was a mention of a Pandyan king known as "Porkaip paandyan"
(பொற்கைப் பாண்டியன்) which means the 'Pandiyan king with a golden hand.' There is a story of this king who cut off his hand as a punishment - as a mark of justice for an event he did. He later fitted an artificial hand made of gold, which gave him a name as the Pandyan with a golden hand.

This is followed by a mention of Cholan king Sibi who cut the flesh of his thigh to save a bird. (Sibi of Ikshvaku race was the fore runner of Cholan kings. One can find a number of verses on Sibi in Sangam literature. Because of Sibi- connection, the Cholans were known as Chembians.

Refer the following link that gives the translation of the inscriptions of the Thiruvalankaadu copper plates. The Cholan lineage starting from Sibi is given from verse - 27 onwards,

Then comes the mention of the Cheran king, Uthiyan Cheral who supplied food to the huge armies of the Mahabharata war.

The selection of one king of great deed from each of the 3 dynasties shows that the news about supplying food to armies of Mahabharata war was not fictional, nor an imaginative one. Such a king had existed at the time of Mahabharata war.

I write about this king here for 2 reasons.

One is that there is a small section of people who say that this incident of supply of food may be a poet's exaggeration to please the king. In fact this group of people of foreign origin raised an objection to giving Classical status to Tamil saying that the instances such as this king can not be taken as a proof for antiquity of Tamil. I very much expected some one to take on this accusation in the podium of the World Tamil Conference. But I didn't hear anyone defending the authenticity of the period of this king.

Therefore I give a defense here to prove that this king's deed must have been true.

The contention of the critics is that this king lived much later and the poets being used to singing all praises for kings - a trend we find in most Sangam verses - must have heaped attributes like this which need not be true.

The reason for their contention is that the sangam text of Pathirttruppatthu (பதிற்றுப் பத்து) which contains 10 groups of poems penned by 10 poets in praise of the Cheran kings have one group (the first group of 10 songs) dedicated to Uthiyan Chralaathan. Unfortunately we do not have these 10 songs. The 2nd group of 10 verses are on Imayavaramban Nedum Cheralaathan.

In the padikam verse on this king, it is mentioned that he was born to Uthiyan Cheralaathan. This king and others are thought to be of recent past, say about 2000 years ago. This puts the researchers in a fix as to the truthfulness of the Mahabharata connection to Uthiyan king.

It must be understood that the Pathirttruppatthu (பதிற்றுப் பத்து ) verses are all about Cheran kings whose kingdom was confined to the present day Kerala. Even among the kings of these verses, 2 distinct dynasties are shown. 6 kings of Uthiyan dynasty and 4 kings of Irumporai dynasty are praised in these verses. The Uthiyans had been coming down for ages, so also the Irumporais. The kingdom had gone between these 2 dynasties from time to time. The Title as Uthiyan and Irumporai had been retained in their lineage.

There is a strong reason to believe that the Uthiyan who served food to the armies was not the same Uthiyan of Pathitruppatthu. The pathitruppatthu Cherans had their kingdoms with the sea as the western boundary and were landlocked on the east.


The Purananuru verse in his praise clearly tells about the eastern and western boundaries of his kingdom. It says that the sun rises in his sea and sets in his sea.

நின்கடற் பிறந்த ஞாயிறு பெயர்த்தும் நின்
வெண்தலைப் புணரிக் குடகடல் குளிக்கும்
யாணர் வைப்பின், நன்னாட்டப் பொருந!"

(from Dr U.Ve.Sa.'s palm leaf commentary:- நினது கடல் கண் தோன்றிய ஞாயிறு பின்னும் நினது வெளிய தலைப் பொருந்திய திரையை உடைய மேல் கடல் கண்ணே மூழ்கும் புது வருவாய் இடையறாத ஊர்களை உடைய நல்ல நாட்டிற்கு வேந்தே! )

This means 'you are the king of a good land dotted with prosperous towns throughout whereby the sun rises in the eastern seas of your land and sets in the western seas of your land."

This shows that this king was not confined to the west like the Cheran kings of Pathirtruppatthu. He occupied the entire stretch from the Bay of Bengal to Arabian sea. This is news for anyone. No cheran king was known to have such a vast kingdom stretching from sea to sea. So this king is different from the other Cheran kings. He had commanded a large land mass at his times. The Cholans and Pandyans were nowhere near him.

This goes well with my contention I regularly write in this blog that Pandyans were not in the present day land mass of Tamil nadu until the times of Mahabharata war. They were in deep south - in the now sunken parts of
Indian ocean. The Cholans were restricted to the land in between this Cheran Uthiyan king and the Pandyansat the time of Mahabharata war.

Here comes the understanding that the three dynasties of the Tamils were very much in the south at the time of Mahabharata war.

The 2nd reason why I give these details is that the time of Mahabharata pre-dated the claims of IVC which Dr parpola and his politician friends of Tamilnadu say is a precursor to Tamils.

According to Dr Parpola, the Indus civilization is dated at c.2600 -1800 B.C. ( ) The Dravidian origins of Tamils started on the banks of river Saraswathy around 2600 B.C according to him.

Mahabharatha war happened even before that time.

Astronomical dating based on the planetary position narrated by Vyasa before the start of the war point out to a time period around 3000 B.C - before the period IVC started. Here is the research by Dr Narahari Achar on dating Mahabharata war.

Yet another research by Dr S. Balakrishna on locating the Mahabharata war based on the clues of astronomy and the tripple eclipses mentioned in Mahabharata place the tentative periods of the war at 3129 BC or 2559 BC

All these pre -date IVC.

From astrology, we have a strong information (which Dr Balakrishnan used for his research and conceded that it is correct) on the time of Yudhistira's rule.
From Brihad samhita chapter 13 -3 :- "During the reign of Yudhsitra, 2520 years before the commencement of Vikrama saka, the seven sages were in the constellation of Magha"

Today the seven sages are in the constellation of Swathy!
Researchers working on this take on face value, the cue from Brihad samhita and other texts that the seven stars (saptha rishis or Ursa Major) stay in every star for 100 years.

100 years is a number applicable for the life of all entities.
The four faced Brahma has 100 years of life.
The year is not the human or solar year.
The entire life time is divided into 100 and the duration of each year is different from the duration of our year.
We have to take this saptha rishi year in this way only.

From astronomical calculation we know that the movement of Saptha rishi is connected to precession of equinoxes. Every degree of the sky is crossed by the saptha rishi in 72 years. When it is said that the saptha rishis stay in each star for 100 years, we have to calculate the duration covered by the saptharishi to cross every star.

Every star has a distance of 13 degrees and 20 minutes.

At the rate of 72 years per degree, the saptha rishi will cross a star in 960 solar years.

This is equal to 100 years in saptharishi reckoning, because that is the way length of life is told in Vedic parlance.

Taking Varahamihirs'a version that the saptha rishis were in Magha (Regulus) when Yudhistira was the king, we can deduce how many degrees have been crossed by the saptha rishis until now.

Today the saptha rishi point out to Arcturus (Swathy)
From Magha to swathy, 5 stars are there. When we calculate the time for this distance, it comes out to be 4800 years.

That means Mahabharata war took place 4800 years ago.
The Cheran king who supplied food to the armies of the war existed 4,800 years ago.
He was very much in the South - ruling the land in between
Bay of Bengal and Arabian sea.
The Harappan civilization which Karunanidhi and his friends believe is Dravidian that was a forerunner to Tamils have no connection to this Uthiyan Cheran king!

Which version should we accept-
that given by Tamil sangam texts that can be cross checked with Mahabharata and astronomy and astrology or

with a version that has no presence anywhere in the Tamil texts?

The IVC is a post- Mahabharata culture - perhaps formed by the people who left Dwaraka due to tsunami like deluge nearly after 30 years of the war.

That culture was pan-Indian in character because the culture of entire Bharatha varsha was one.

Krishna of Dwaraka had contributed to the dance forms of Tamils.

The Tamil king had supplied food to the armies of the war.

Everyone had moved around every other place in Bharath and interacted with people of those places.

The culture, crafts, technology and even language had been familiar to every one of them.

Let us see in the next post some examples of such exchange of technology of the IVC or Dwaraka being found in the Tamil lands too and eulogized in Sangam texts.


Updated on 28-07-2010

This term “Perum choru” is used to denote the grand feast sponsored by the King to the war lords before they go on a war.

There is a sutra for this in Tholkaapiyam, “pindam meya perum chotru nilai” (பிண்டம் மேய பெரும் சோற்று நிலை ) – (Puratthinai iyal – sutra 7 ) which says that offering a big feast (perum choru) to the army was one of the 13 acts connected with war and preparation for of war by the king.

From the commentary of Nachinaarkkiniyar to this sutra,

வேந்தன் போர் தலைக் கொண்ட பிற்றை ஞான்று போர் குறித்த படையாளரும் தானும் உடன் உண்பான் போல்வதோர் முகமன் செய்தற்கு, பிண்டித்து வைத்த உண்டியைக் கொடுத்தல் மேயின பெருஞ்சோற்று நிலை

We find a mention of this offer of Perum choru by the Cheran king Senkuttuvan before he started his journey to the Himalayas to get a stone for making the image of Kannagi. A huge contingent of army went with him to quell any obstruction on the way and to fight the kings near the Gangetic plane who gave him trouble when he went with his mother on a pilgrimage to the Ganges on an earlier occasion. There is mention of the offer of Perum choru at 2 places in Silappadhikaram.

Silappadhikaram – 25- 144 :-

பின்றாச் சிறப்பின் பெரும் சோற்று வஞ்சியும்

Silappadhikaram – 26 – 49 :-

பெரும் படைத் தலைவர்க்குப் பெரும் சோறு வகுத்து ” :

This narration comes in the context of preparing to leave with the army. This says that the king offered the grand feast to the army chiefs. There is no mention of ordinary soldiers. But it can be assumed that the king would not have neglected them. They too would have been offered the special feast. But the King would have joined the army chiefs in the feast arranged in his palace or in a special place. The king taking the feast along with the army or army chiefs is what the sutra of Tholkaapiyam is about.

Looking from this habit of offering feast to the army and the army chiefs, it is possible to interpret the Uthiyan perum choru to a special feast that the Uthiyan king could have offered to the chiefs of the Pandava and Kaurava armies.

The mention of sound of utensils used for cooking the feast make it seem that it was heard in the place of Uthiyan. It is deduced from this that the Cheran king had invited all the chiefs and high ranking people – who were all kings or princes from different parts of Bharath varsha and sponsored a feast as per Tamil tradition.

Almost all the countries of the Bharath varsha had taken part in the war. The number of individual army lords and kings must have been very high. In addition to them, the Uthiyan king could have fed the armies of all the Tamil kings and neighboring countries before they set out for Kurukshetra.

But this scenario does not alter the time period of the King.


Sarangarajan said...

Dear Jayasree,

A logical point to further strenthen that this was not a case of false eulogy

if only the poets wanted to merely eulogize, they would have said "the one who fed the large Pandava's army" for they are the good ones and the 100 starting with Duryodana are the evil ones - why on earth will a false eulogy say that a king fed the evils
So the poet should have merely recorded the truth as a praise
- Sarang

jayasree said...

You have a point Mr Sarang.Thank you.

kannan said...

my small doubt!if the chera king by any chance fed the warring soldiers of both the pandyas and the kauravas, did he went there to supply them food or did his kingom expanded up to kurukshetra?

jayasree said...

There is no mention of the northern limits of his kingdom in this poem. This is the only poem that addresses him straight on his face - in first person showing that the poet has sung this poem in his presence. That is why this poem is special and we go by what is being said in this poem. In other poems that I have quoted in this article, the verses were in the nature of recalling the incident (of supply of food) by this king.

In another text called Pathirtruppatthu (I have written about this in this article) in praise of 10 cheran kings, there comes a mention of one "Adu-kOt paattuch cheralaathan" who got his title "aadu kot paattu" (the one who brought the ram / goat) who went to the hills of the dandaka forests (Dandakaranya of Ramayana fame) and brought the rams from the peaks. He grew them in his hills (perhaps they could be the present day Nilgiri Tahr found in Munnar today. They are similar to the Tahrs found in Vindhyas and in the Himalayas)

This cheran is much later to Uthiyan cheran but belongs to the Uthiyan dynasty. From this it is known that the Uthuyans have made their presence felt upto the Vindhyas.

The Uthiyan cheran who fed food to the armies is addressed as "vaana varamban" in the poem. This means 'the one who had sky as his limit'. Another cheran was known as 'Imaya varamban' (one who had Himalayas as his limit)for he had reached the Himalayas and established his Flag there (Like Dakshin Gangothri in the Antartic where India had established its presence).

Going by these titular names, it is possible to assume that the Uthiyan Cheran might have had his limits upto Vindhyas (this Cheran is addressed as Vaana varamban in this poem) and could have made trips to the Himalayas and seized parts of it and established his name there.

The poem ends with a praise that this king may live until the Pothigai hills and the Himalayas last. Note the mention of Pothigai and Himalayas together. The king might have made a presence upto the Himalayas in those days and hence was known to the warring sections of the Kuruskshetra as a well wisher of both. It is possible he had an expanded territory and had pockets of his presence in north India. Supply of food to the army could have been done through many of his expanded territories.

jayasree said...

Let me reproduce the poem here:-

பாடியவர்: முரஞ்சியூர் முடிநாகராயர்.

பாடப்பட்டோன்: சேரமான் பெருஞ்சோற்று உதியன் சேரலாதன்.

மண் திணிந்த நிலனும்,
நிலம் ஏந்திய விசும்பும்,
விசும்பு தைவரு வளியும்
வளித் தலைஇய தீயும்,
தீ முரணிய நீரும், என்றாங்கு
ஐம்பெரும் பூதத்து இயற்கை போலப்
போற்றார்ப் பொறுத்தலும், சூழ்ச்சியது அகலமும்
வலியும், தெறலும், அணியும், உடையோய்!
நின்கடற் பிறந்த ஞாயிறு பெயர்த்தும் நின்
வெண்தலைப் புணரிக் குடகடல் குளிக்கும்
யாணர் வைப்பின், நன்னாட்டுப் பொருந!
வான வரம்பனை! நீயோ, பெரும!
அலங்குளைப் புரவி ஐவரோடு சினைஇ,
நிலந்தலைக் கொண்ட பொலம்பூந் தும்பை
ஈரைம் பதின்மரும் பொருது, களத்து ஒழியப்
பெருஞ்சோற்று மிகுபதம் வரையாது கொடுத்தோய்!
பாஅல் புளிப்பினும், பகல் இருளினும்,
நாஅல் வேத நெறி திரியினும்
திரியாச் சுற்றமொடு முழுதுசேண் விளங்கி,
நடுக்கின்றி நிலியரோ அத்தை; அடுக்கத்துச்,
சிறுதலை நவ்விப் பெருங்கண் மாப்பிணை,
அந்தி அந்தணர் அருங்கடன் இறுக்கும்
முத்தீ விளக்கிற், றுஞ்சும்
பொற்கோட்டு இமயமும், பொதியமும், போன்றே!

jayasree said...

Dear Sarang and Kannan,

Kindly note the recent update to this article. Perumchoru could also mean sponsoring a grand feast to the army chiefs and the army before the war. This is a tradition with the Tamils. The King also takes food with them. From Tholkaapiya- sutra and Silappadhikaram, I have given additional inputs in this post.

jijith said...

Dear Jayasree,

Very interesting article, especially happy to see the connections between information in Mahabharata and Sangam literature slowly emerging through your monumental work.

I have one point. In such ancient times, where kingdoms existed as small islands in large uninhabited territories filled with forests and mountains throughout India, to establish a mark on Himalaya, a Kerala / Tamil king need not expand his territory up to Himalayas from Kerala. A Digvijaya (military expedition) will do. This was the same way Yudhisthira established his sway up to southern India. He did not annex any territory but conducted a Digvijaya under the command of Sahadeva. Annexing of territory and building of huge monolithic empires was a later phenomenon, as far as I know, probably starting with Chandragupta.

jayasree said...

Welcome Mr Jijith.

How I wish that you could read Tamil! I am currently writing a long series in Tamil on lineage of Tamils and other Bharatheeyas based on internal sources such as Mahabharatha, Ramayana, sangam texts and many others. I am sure you will relish them and contribute your valuable views - if only you could read them. After finishing that series, I am planning to translate them into English. I will intimate you once I do that.

Relevant to the article above, I wish to draw your attention to an article in this link on Cheran expedition to Himalayas which was supported by Shatakarnis of Sathavahana dynasty. The Nootruvar kannar - the 100 kananars who helped the Cheran king to cross the Ganges are in all likelihood be Sathavahanas. The Tamil kings had many pockets of support in North India

Jijith said...

Hi Jayasree

Thank you for this link. I had recently created a new web-site Naalanda ( in the same style of ancient-voice, where I plans to analyze, among other topic, the Tamil texts like Tolkappiyam, Pattuppattu, Ettuttokai, Patinenmelkanakku, Tirukkural, Silappatikaram
Manimegalai, Civaka Cintamani, Kundalakesi and Valayapathi, looking for its key nouns. But my lack of knowledge of Tamil and non-availability of good English translations of these texts, especially online, prevents me from this work. If done, this could generate several undiscovered correlations between Vedic-Sanskrit and Tamil scriptures and could be useful for future researches.

I wait for your English translations and I am sure such a translation will be a great contribution to the research community.

Meanwhile, I am now working on the noun-analysis Zorastrian (Vendidad) and Greek texts (Iliad, Odyssey) at Takshasila (