Monday, June 5, 2017

5. The Pandan king who engraved the emblems on the Himalayas.

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An early Pandyan king had reached the Himalayas and engraved the fish emblem of his dynasty and also the tiger and bow emblems of Chola and Chera dynasties alongside. The Tamil portion of the Sinnamanur Copper plates states that he engraved them on top of the Northern Mountain (Vada-varai in Tamil).  

This stands out from what the Cheran king Imaya Varamban Nedum Cheraladhan and the Cholan king Karikaal Cholan had done. The Cheran and Cholan kings had engraved the emblem of their own kingdoms, but the Pandyan king had engraved the emblems of all three the Tamil countries. This information recorded 1000 years ago in Sinnamanur copper plates can also be cross-referenced in Silappadhikaram written 1900 years ago.

In the famous chapter on “Aicchiyar Kuravai”, the opening verses say,

The Pandyan king whose orders were obeyed by the ‘tiger’ and the ‘bow’ that were engraved on the side of the ‘fish’ on the forehead of the Himalayas and the kings of the cool groves of Nāvalam..” (1)

This verse implies that there was a time in the past of a Pandyan king who brought Cheran and Cholan kingdoms under his authority. The kingdoms of Nāvalam also were obeying his orders or were subservient to that Pandyan king. Nāvalam is the Tamil word for Jambu dweepa. Bharat / India was referred to as Nāvalam Theevu until Silappadhikaram times.

The name of this king finds mention only in one text that is available to us. His name is Kon NedumARan, the Pandyan king who engraved all the three emblems on the Himalayas.

The text is “Pandi-k-kovai” – a compilation done sometime about 1000 years ago. Kovai is a type of composition which is basically an arrangement of verses in an orderly manner (கோவை < கோர்வை <  கோர்த்தல்). There is an erroneous opinion that Kovai is a later innovation. But a Kovai by name “Achara-k-kovai” was published during a Sangam Assembly.

The uniqueness of Pandikkovai is that the verses were originally found as quotes in the commentary by Nakkeerar to Iṟaiyanār Kaĺaviyal that was published for the first time in the last Sangam Assembly presided by Pandyan king Ugra Peru Vazhuthi. This was 2000 years ago. The verses of Pandikkovai must therefore be older than 2000 years.

The extensive usage of these verses in the commentary shows that the text that contained those verses was popular at that time. The commentator, Nakkeerar did not think it necessary to mention the name of the text when he quoted as many as 326 verses from that text. This again goes to prove that the Assemblage that was sitting there to judge the quality and accuracy of the commentary was familiar with the verses.

The original text must be having more than 326 verses. The name of the original composition and its author are not known. Long after Nakkeerar’s time, these 326 verses were arranged by an unknown person in a coherent way and were given the name, Kovai of the Pandya – ‘Pandikkovai’. Some of the information contained in Pandikkovai can be cross checked from other sources that help us to decipher parts of history of the past.

Kon Nedumaran, the king who engraved the fish symbol on the Himalayas.

There are 6 verses in Pandikkovai that mention that Kon Nedumaran engraved the fish emblem on the Himalayas. Of them one verse says that he engraved the emblems of the other two kings.

It is not possible to make out from the verses when and how he made this expedition. But there is a verse that gives a connection to the river Ganges by mentioning him as “Gangai Mańāĺan” meaning the ‘husband of Ganga’. This name comes in the context of a victory at a place called “Mańaṟṟi Mangai” (மணற்றி மங்கை). It is not known which place is indicated by this except that Mangai refers to ‘woman’. This gives rise to an opinion that the king overpowered some resistance in a place near the river Ganges having ‘woman’ as part of its name while on his way to the Himalayas. His victory at that place near Ganges might have given him the title the “husband of Ganga’ (2)

The six verses mentioning the fish emblem on the Himalayas give some other information too, which will be discussed below.

Verse 154 says,

சத்ரு துரந்தரன் பொன் வரை மேல்
மீன் உடையான்

Meaning:- Shatru Dhurandharan who had fish on the golden mountain.

Verse 32 says

கருங்கயல் சூட்டிய சென்னிச் செம்பொன் வரை போல்

Meaning:- The golden mountain adorned with black fish at its head (peak).

Verse 51 says,

ஆய கெண்டைபனி தாழ் வட வரை மேல் வைத்த பஞ்சவன் பாழி வென்ற குனி தாழ் சிலை மன்னன்

Meaning:- Panjavan who placed the “KeNdai” fish on top of the snowy northern mountain, he who won Pāzhi.

Verse 200 says,

கெண்டை வட வரை மேல் வைத்த வானவன் மாறன்

Meaning:-  Vānavan Māran who affixed ‘KeNdai’ on top of the northern mountain.

Verse 109 says,

பொறி கெழு கெண்டை பொன் மால் வரை வைத்து இப் பூமி எல்லாம்
நெறி கெழு செங்கோல் நடாம் நெடுமாறன் நெல்வேலி வென்றான்

Meaning:-  Nedumaran who fixed the spotted “Kendai” fish on the tall, golden mountain and ruled righteously with his sceptre won Nelveli.

Verse 100 says,

சிலை மிசை வைத்த புலியும் கயலும் சென்று ஓங்கு செம்பொன்
மலை மிசை வைத்த பெருமான் வரோதயன்

Meaning:-  Varódhayan (a title of Kon Nedumaran) who carved the tiger and the fish above the bow on the tall, golden mountain.

Discussion on the information from these 6 verses:-

(1)  The king Kon Nedumaran had ceremonial titles in Sanskrit. In the first quote he is mentioned as “Shatru Dhuradharan”. Dhuradhara in Sanskrit means ‘unstoppable’, ‘invincible’ etc. He was unstoppable by his enemies and therefore the title Shatru Dhuradhara. Assuming that titles are given by learned men, this shows that Sanskrit scholars were present in his country and Sanskrit was in usage and understood by people.

The 6th quote mentions him as “Varódhayan” which is also a Sanskrit word. He was considered as a boon.

There are other titles found in Pandikkovai, some of which are Sanskritised like  “Parāngushan”,  “Ushithan”, Vijaya Charithan” etc.
 This shows that Sanskrit had a presence in Deep South from an undated antiquity.

(2) The fish in the symbol is specifically mentioned as “Kendai”. This is Mullet fish found in tropical waters. It looks long.

This is in contrast to the twin fish emblem seen in later Pandyan period. The coins released by the Sundara Pandyan of the 13th century CE bear the images of twin fish (Mullets) along with bow and tiger, showing his victory over Cholan and Cheran lands.

Sundara Pandyan’s son Veera Pandyan engraved the twin fish symbol on Konamalai (Trincomalee) in Srilanka.

There is no way to assume that early Pandyans used twin fish.

(3) The 3rd quote erases any doubt about the mountain on which the king engraved the symbol. The 3rd quote specifically mentions that the mountain was snowy and its location was in the north. This is an obvious reference to the Himalayan Mountain. The 2nd and 6th quotes refer to the golden colour of the mountain. The exact word is செம்பொன் – Chem-pon, meaning red-gold. This could refer to the glistening colour under the sun rays.

Himalayan peaks of Panchachuli range at sunset. Credit:-HERE

(4) The 3rd quote mentions another name of the king as “Panjavan” who won Pāzhi (பாழி).
This information on the victory at Pāzhi that gave the king the name Panjavan is found in the inscription of Sinnmanur copper plates.

The inscription links the title “Panjavan” with the victory at Pāzhi without mentioning the name of the king who scored that victory. (By the pronunciation of it in Tamil, it is Panjavan not Panchavan). Olden Pandyans carried two titles Panjavan and Gowriyan. These titles appear in Sangam verses. Of these two, Gowriyan is easily decipherable as that refers to Gowri (Parvathi or Meenakshi) from whom the Pandyans traced their lineage.

The title Panjavan is perplexing as that seems to refer to number five. Present day commentators and writers have tried to understand the meaning of Panjavan on this basis. The most commonly heard explanation for this name is that it refers to the 5 types of land forms that were supposed to be present in the Pandyan land. There is a line in a Sangam text called “Madurai-k-kānji” that says that the Pandyan kingdom had 5 types of lands. (3)

But the above quoted part of the Pandyan inscriptions says that the name Panjavan was due to the victory at Pāzhi. This gives a clue to look for probable words connected with battles and battle fields. There is a word in Tamil ‘Panjaritthal” (பஞ்சரித்தல்) which means “giving trouble”. The Pandyan king came to be called as Panjavan because he caused trouble to his enemies at Pāzhi from whom he snatched Pāzhi in the battle. So the name Panjavan is derived from ‘Panjaritthal’. Panjavan is one who did Panjaritthal.

The victory at Pāzhi must have been a great one that changed the Pandyan or even Tamils’ history. Otherwise this name would not have found mention in the inscription and remained forever in the lineage as a titular name.

The victory at Pāzhi by Kon Nedumaran is mentioned in few other verses of Pandikkovai. In two verses there is a specific mention of Then Pāzhi, meaning Southern Pāzhi.

தென்பாழிப் பகை செற்ற பஞ்சவன்(4)

தென் பாழி வென்ற
கயல் மன்னு வெல் கொடிக் காவலன் மாறன்(5)

This reference to south is significant as Pāzhi formed the southern boundary of the Tamil lands of Pandyan of the 1st Sangam period. 

As per the commentary by Adiyaarkku Nallar to Silappadhikaram, South Pāzhi was a port. One of the meanings of Pāzhi in Tamil is ‘port’ or ‘dock yard’. The South Pazhi was at a distance of 700 Kāvadham / Kādam from a river called Pahruĺi. There were 49 scattered lands present in this span across the Indian Ocean during the 1st Sangam age. They were all lost to the seas along with South Pāzhi in the 2nd submergence. Only river Pahruli was left along with the river Kumari after that submergence. And they also were lost to the seas in the 3rd submergence that made the Pandyan kingdom to be shifted to the present-day Madurai. Therefore the victory of Kon Nedumaran at South Pāzhi puts him at 1st Sangam age - at greater antiquity. (Details of these would be separately discussed in another post).

The Sinnamanur inscriptions do not mention the names of kings of antiquity. By not mentioning the name of the one who won at Pāzhi and who engraved the emblems at the Himalayas, it is made out that they belonged to antiquity. This also serves as a proof that Kon Nedumaran did belong to a remote past in history in a region where habitats existed scattered across the Indian Ocean.

Acquisition of South Pāzhi must have meant complete eradication of any threat from the surrounding areas to Pandyan lands. South Pāzhi as a major port city must have boosted up the economic and political power of the Pandyans and facilitated the movement of people and goods in olden days. Therefore winning Pāzhi by wresting it from those who occupied it earlier meant a feather in the cap for the Pandyans. For this acquisition,  Kon Nedumaran came to be celebrated as Panjavan which his descendants proudly remembered by adopting it as their titular name.

The word Pāzhi having the special letter of Tamil zhi  ழி is interchangeable with ‘li’. In his commentary to Silappadhikaram, writer Adiyaarkku nallar (10th / 12th century CE) mentioned Pāzhi as Pāli!  

Pāli was oldest language of the common people of India. Is it just coincidental that this name was found in Pandyan lands? Does Pāli language have any connection with Pāzhi?

Discussion to be continued in the next part..

(1) Silappadhikaram – Ch 17- lines 1-5
கயலெழுதிய இமய நெற்றியின் 
அயலெழுதிய புலியும் வில்லும் 
நாவலந்தண் பொழின் மன்னர் 
ஏவல் கேட்பப் பாரர சாண்ட 
மாலை வெண்குடைப் பாண்டியன் 

 (2) Pandikkovai – Verse 180
கொங்கை தளரினும் கூந்தல் நரைப்பினும் ஏந்தல் மற்று இவ்
அங்கை அடைக்கலம் என்றே கருதி அருள்க கண்டாய்
கங்கை மணாளன் கலிமதனன் கடிமா மணற்றி
மங்கை அமர் அட்ட கோன் வையை நாடு அன்ன மாதரையே.

(3) Madurai-k-kanji – line 325
ஐம்பால் திணையும் கவ்வி

(4) Pandikkovai – verse 165

(5) Pandikkovai – verse 151

(To be continued)


Sundararaman Krishnamurthy said...

But for Shri U Ve Sa "Silapadhikaram" would not have seen the light of the day more so his research on "Purananooru" brought out the "old Tamils" life style to public alas this so called "Dravidian" parties have totally forgotten this "Great Man"

Vasanth said...

@Jayasree Madam,

I could not resist telling this.
While surfing google maps, I came across a mountain region in pakistan afghanistan border, where to my surprise, the highest peak in that region is named as "Mount Sikaram". Yes. Sikaram, a pure Tamil name for mountain peak. The places near that mountain such as Parachinar, Piewar, Alizai, Tari Mangal, Narai sounds like Tamil names too. Maybe, Tamil is the native language of India.
Search for "Mount Sikaram" in google maps

jayasree said...

Thanks for the info Mr Vasanth. It is exciting to find Tamil names in that part of Pak - Afghan border. I found a village by name "munda" near Kurram river. The wiki article connects Kurram with Rig Vedic word Krumu, but I find it to be closer to Kundram / hill in Tamil. In Pashto language it is Kurma, and so that name also is possible. Maindani sounds like Medhini or maidhanam. Parachinar is like Prachinar, the ancient. I used to keep telling / writing that Manu and his co-habitants entered Saraswathi and spread out in the region upto northern border of Pakisthan. Their language was proto-Tamil or stunted Tamil that had many sanskrit words too.

I am happy to get inputs like this which help me fine tune my articles. I am looking for 'Neri" hill / mountain in the western ghats. And also I want to locate one 'Udaya giri' in the eastern part of the globe. Its location is such that when it is mid-day there, it is sun rise in India. It could be anywhere near the equator or lower in southern latitudes. If you come across names closer to these in such locations, please let me know.

anil sekhar said...

Mam, I am only a loyal reader to you. But to your query on Udaya giri, thought this. Fiji is about 6+ hrs ahead of India, Mount Uluigalau is the highest mountain on the island of Taveuni in Fiji. Also there is an island called "Kadavu" in Fiji. In malayalam Kadavu means the place to board/alight from a boat in a river or lake. Hope,may help you in your quest.

Anil Sekhar

jayasree said...

Thanks a lot Mr Anil. Even I thought of Fiji as the right candidate. The names you have given do concur well. However can you get me replies for the following?

Isn't Fiji a volcano? If so is it dormant now and can people reach the peak? Is there any tradition in Japan treating it as a mountain of sunrise?

On the contrary is there any mountain in SE part of the globe say,in NewZealand or Oceania with similar description in name and as Sunrise mountain?

jayasree said...

Dear Mr Anil. Checked the location and it is within the range I am expecting. If there's more that you know about the mountain and the names around it please share with me. You know what I am theorizing out of it? Udayagiri Was the edge of Shaka deepa that was once the land of olden Pandyans. It must be 7000 kaadham from cape comorin. This we have to check. Thondaradip podi aazwar's "kadhiravan guna dhisai sikaram vanthanainthaan " refers to this peak. Silappadhikaram makes a detailed reference to this. In valmiki Ramayana Sugreeva makes the same reference to this in his description of route in the East. It formed the part of Bharatheeya part of world. If this location turns out to be udayagiri, then it must be one of the Guna-Karai nadu of 1st sangam age. Tamil words could be there in their language. Already I have referred to Vanautu in this series. It was part of Tamil land of sangam age. Tonga was Thenga nadu. I have written about it in Tamil blog. Another revelation from udayagiri in Fiji is that the sunken Tamil lands were not in exact Indian ocean South off India. It was spread towards southeast with cape comorin at one end and udayagiri at the other. Parts of sundaland, Oceania are covered in this stretch.