Saturday, June 2, 2018

Ancient Tamil grossly misunderstood and mis-interpreted by Vedveer Arya in his paper on chronology of ancient Tamilagam.

Previous articles:

The research paper titled The Chronogical History of Ancient Tamilagam (From 11226 BCE to 5th Century CE) by Veveer Arya makes sweeping statements of questionable nature on many topics of ancient Tamil. There are two Nakkīrar-s, two or three Iṟaiyanār-s, two Seethalai Sathanar-s and a free mix of kings of ancient Tamil lands across time and space! In this last part, a list of such disputable information contained in his paper is given along with the correct information wherever possible.

1. Did Nakkīrar quote Jivaka Chinthamani in his commentary to Iṟaiyanār Agapporuḷ? Vedveer says so quoting unnamed sources. Those sources place Jivaka Chinthamani in the 10th century CE and Nakkīrar, to a date later than 10th century CE. This Nakkīrar is Nakkīrar II according to the Vedveer Arya (henceforth referred to as author). Since he had decided the date of Nakkīrar II to 12th century BCE based on his other papers, he pushes back the date of Jivaka Chinthamani and Valayapathi too, to 14th century BCE, before Nakkīrar II’s time.

He says,

“Jivaka Chintāmani and Valayapathi were the earliest of the five great epics of Tamil literature. Nakkirar II (1150-1060 BCE), the author of a commentary on Iraiyanar Agapporul, refers to Jivaka Chintāmani. Valayapathi is also one of the earliest works written in the Viruttam meter. Therefore, we can fix the date of these two epics around the 14th century BCE.”


First of all there is no mention of Jivaka Chinthamani by Nakkīrar in his commentary to Iṟaiyanār Agapporuḷ. It is unfortunate that the author had relied on questionable claims of the unnamed sources.
Secondly, if only the author had personally checked with the contents of Jivaka Chinthamani, he would not have claimed such a date for the text. In the story Jivaka visits Pallava kingdom. At no less than 7 places, the word ‘Pallava Dheyam’ (Pallava Desh) appears in Jivaka Chinthamani. Were Pallavas in existence in 14th century BCE Tamil lands?

2. His description of Agastya leaves much to be desired.
Some of the ideas on Agastya given by him in his paper are:
·       Agastya “was the abandoned child of an unmarried girl and found in a half pot by villagers. This may be the reason why he was called as Kumbhaja, Kumbhayoni and Kumbhasambhava.”

·       “Since the gotra of Agastya was not known being an abandoned child, the great Vedic sage Agastya’s progeny has been accepted as the eighth Rishi gotra”.

·       “Though Agastya formally learnt Vedic sciences and became a great Rishi but seemingly, he could not get due recognition and social acceptance in the Saptasindhu region because his gotra was not known. This may be one of the reasons why he decided to cross Vindhyas and settled on the banks of Godavari River near Nasik”.


Agastya myths are many and it is quite tricky to decipher them. There is probably only one text that talks about his birth. It was written by a Siddha and named after him as “Bogar 7000” wherein it is stated that he was born in the 4th varna (verse 5703). The month and star of birth are also given as Dhanur month and 3rd Pada of Aslesha (verse 5882). The verse also says that there are contradictory versions on his birth and this verse given by Siddha Bogar is reliable as it follows the records on Siddhas maintained from to time by Siddhas themselves.

The other claim by the author that Agastya could not get due respect in Saptasindhu region due to murky nature of his birth which forced him to cross the Vindhyas and settle down in the south can be challenged by the version given in Valmiki Ramayana.

At many places, Rama expresses his admiration and awe at Agastya. He reminds Vatapi incident to Lakshmana before going after the golden deer saying that he would eliminate the demon in the golden deer like Agastya who eliminated Vatapi.

It is disputable that Agastya lived in Saptasindhu region. Somehow many people are thinking that Vedic sages lived in that region. The fact is that they were spread throughout north India and in Dandaka forest in the south of Vindhyas. Agastya lived in the southern most part of the habitable zone of the Dandaka forest as a guardian of the South. This is well made out in the words of Rama (Valmiki Ramayana 3-11-54, 81 & 84) that by eliminating Vatapi, Agastya made South a liveable region. He served as a deterrent to demons from venturing out there to trouble the sages and the people. So it is absolutely incorrect to say that Agastya was forced to move to the south due to social stigma.

Similarly his name, ‘Kumbhayoni’ cannot be related to a supposed myth of abandonment in a half pot. The name appears for the first time in Ramayana and addressed by Rama when he went to meet Agastya on the completion of 12 years of penance in the Kumbha (receptacle) of Kaveri at Saivala mountain (Valmiki Ramayana 7-89). It is only after this Agastya’s association  with Tamil lands started.

3. The author claims that descendants of sage Pulastya were expelled from Saptasindhu region and spread to Dandaka forest and Lanka. He attributes the movement of some warrior class and business men from Saptasindhu to Parashurama. What he wants to make out was a justification for the spread of Vedic culture in South India by saying,

“The cultural integration of entire India had already been taken place at least few thousand years before the arrival of Agastya”.


His views on Pulastya’s descendants are unsubstantiated. On the contrary there is evidence in “Bogar 7000” that sage Pulastya was a disciple of Agastya! (Verse 5900).

When Parasurama was raging war against kshatriyas, the Cholan king ruling from Pumpuhar took refuge in the hills of Kodagu according to Tamil text Manimegalai. Pumpuhar was a well developed city even at that time. Even before Pumpuhar was made a city, the patron saint of Jambhu Dweepa was doing penance at that place, by which the place came to be known as “Sambhapati

There is much information like this to say that Tamil lands were already part of same culture and no new cultural integration happened as claimed by the author. Even by his own admission on the existence of the first Sangam right from the beginning of Holocene, the question of cultural integration of South India or Tamil lands does not arise at all.

4. Pandya king invited Agastya for the first Sangam for which the author quotes the date of sighting of Agastya-star in Kanyakumari around 10500-10000 BCE.


There is no evidence that Pandya king invited Agastya for the first Sangam. But the date of sighting of Agastya-star remarkably coincides with first Sangam age in Kanyakumari and 2nd Sangam age in Vindhyas. The 2nd Sangam age date coincides with the date of Ramayana by Pushkar Bhatnagar and also the sighting of Agastya-star in north of Vindhyas. Agastya as a contemporary of Rama fits with the 2nd Sangam date and not the first Sangam date. So there seems to be a mix of astronomical feature and a concept of Agastya in the legends which we have to study and decipher. Without solving this, fixing the date for a person called Agastya will be disputable.

5. The author says,

“It is also believed that the Chola King Kantaman was the contemporary of Rishi Agastya of the first Sangam period.


This information is found in Manimegalai, but the time period was around that of Parasurama. Scared of Parasurama, king Kantaman took refuge in Kodagu, the abode of Agastya. By linking him and Agastya to the first Sangam period, the author confuses with the dates. If he has to substantiate this claim on First Sangam, he has to prove that Parasurama lived before 11,000 BCE.

6. The author uses a measurement of unit found in Tamil texts (in the commentary of Adiyarkkunallar) as ‘Kavātam’ and links it with the capital city of 2nd Sangam age Kavātam.

He says,

“Since the measurement of the unit “Kavātam” is not known, some scholars have speculated that it was a lost continent of Kumari kandam in Indian Ocean ......In fact, the unit “Kavātam” indirectly indicates the area of the city of Kavātapuram. Considering the area of Kavātapuram city equal to one or two square miles, the early Pāndyan kingdom might have lost the area of 700 to 1400 square miles.”


It is not Kavātam; it is Kādham or Kāvadham in Tamil which is a unit of measurement of distances. The author’s lack of knowledge of Tamil is established in this interpretation. Without knowing the words used and the pronunciation, he is linking totally unconnected words and names.

7. The author says,

King Karikāla II Chola defeated the Pāndya king Ukkirapperu Valudi or his successor around 1260 BCE.”


The defeat of this Pandyan king by Chola king Karikāla is unsubstantiated.

8. There was a Malayadhvaja, a Pandyan king mentioned in Mahabharata as having taken part in the war. Incidentally Malayadhvaja was also the name of the father of Minakshi. Combining these names the author says,

“It appears that the legends of King Malayadhvaja, his wife Kanchanamala and their daughter Minakshi are related to King Malayadhvaja of Mahābhārata era. Seemingly, Minakshi became the queen of Pāndyan Kingdom after the death of his father Malayadhvaja in Mahābhārata war (3162 BCE). Minakshi had a son named Ugra Pāndyan. Mudittirumaran, the last king of the second Sangam and the first king of the third Sangam must be the son of Ugra Pāndyan”.


This shows absolute lack of knowledge of Tamil and Pandyan traditions. Minakshi was the earliest heir who was deified and worshipped as Minakshi Amman in Madurai. Her marriage with Somasundara was regarded as a marriage with Shiva himself. Her husband was hailed as Iṟaiyanār, who constituted the first ever Sangam Assembly. She was perceived as Gowri, the consort of Shiva. It was only after her, the Pandyan lineage took up the title “Gowriar” which is found in a couple of verses in Purananuru. It is absurd to link her with Malayadhvaja of Mahabharata times.  

9. The author says,

“According to “Maduraikanji” a poem of the post-Sangam era written by Mankuti Marutanar, the first Pāndya king Nediyon or Vadimbalamba Ninravan has brought Pahruli River into existence.”


This is another junk taken out from mis-reading of discarded secondary texts. There is no such information in the original text, Maduraikanji.

10. Another one from the author,

“Evidently, King Nediyon or Vadimbalamba Ninravan belonged to the second Sangam period.”


Vadimbalamba Ninravan was Ugra Kumara, son of Minakshi and he lived in the first Sangam age. He was hailed as Lord Muruga later.

 11. Another one from the author:

“Nedunchelian III had the title of Ariyappadaikadanda (he who won the war against Ariyappa). Ariyappas were the Ay kings of ancient Travancore kingdom. Some historians have mischievously identified Ariyappa as Aryan king.”


It is Ariyappadai, not Ariyappa! Ariyappadai is a compound word of Arya and padai where Padai means army. Ariyappadai means Aryan army. This title does refer to the king’s victory over Aryan kings.

 12. The author postulates 3 Nedunjeɻiyans.

According to him Nedunjeɻiyan I was he who ordered the death of Kovalan.

Nedunjeɻiyan II “defeated the alliance of two neighboring kings (Chera and Chola) aided by five minor chiefs at Palaiyalanganam”.

Nedunjeɻiyan III had the title, Ariyappadaikadanda.


This is a chronology made without any research into primary Tamil texts.
Whom he calls as Nedunjeɻiyan I is mentioned as having won the Ariyappadai (Nedunjeɻiyan III) in Silappadhikaram.

In Silappadhikaram, at the end of Madurai-Kāndam that describes the events in Madurai culminating at the death of Pandyan king Nedunjeɻiyan and his queen, a brief eulogy is written about the king wherein it is stated that the king had won the northern Aryan army (vada aariyar padai kadanthu). There is a verse by the king Ariyappadai Kadantha Nedunjeɻiyan in Puranauru.

This gives rise to the opinion that both were the same. But this puts at dock the period of Ugra Peruvazhuthi, the one who convened the last Sangam Assembly. Either he must have succeeded this Nedunjeɻiyan or must have been a contemporary king as it was common to have more than one king of the same dynasty ruling different parts of the same country. If Ugra Peruvazhuthi was a contemporary he must have been associated with Madurai to have conducted the Sangam Assembly. If so that goes against the version of Silappadhikaram that Nedunjeɻiyan was ruling from Madurai. This is un-resolved paradox among Tamil scholars.

Nedunjeɻiyan II that he mentions won the war at Talayalanganam, not Palaiyalanganam. The Cholan king defeated by him (Rajasuyam Vetta Perunarkilli) shared the same platform with Ugra Peruvazhuthi. It seems all these kings ruled within a short span of each other and fresh inputs are needed to arrive at a clearer picture. Oblivious of these issues, the author goes on weaving a chronology placing them 1000 years before they are supposed to have lived.

13. The author makes certain claims of Chera kings.

“King Cheraman Peruncheraladan (~8000 BCE) of the first Sangam period was the earliest known Chera. Probably, King Cheraman Peruncheraladan was the founder of the Chera dynasty. Some scholars claim that a commentator of Purunanuru indicates this Chera king to be the contemporary of Mahābhārata war (3162 BCE) but Nakkirar II (1150-1060 BCE) clearly records that he belonged to the first Sangam period”


None of these can be made out from any primary text. Till now no evidence is found to identify the founder king of the Chera dynasty. Nakkīrar does not mention this king’s name in his commentary as belonging to the first Sangam period.

14. The author refers to a 113 year pact between Chera, Chola and Pandya kings, presumably initiated by the Cheran king Imayavaramban Neduncheraladhan which was broken by Kharavela.


The author quotes a couple of instances of the kings of three dynasties sharing the dais as the proof. But no text of Sangam age talks about a confederation signed by them. The kings had come together in other instances too and there were marriage alliances between these dynasties. The three dynasties had thrived even after Kharavela’s times. So the Tamira confederation found in Hathigumpha inscription is certainly not about the three major dynasties of Tamil lands.

In all probability that could be about the numerous Veḷir kings who did face existential threats many a times from the three dynasties themselves. Only Velir kings faced a near-wipe-out at the end of Sangam age, giving credence to the idea of confederation among them to safeguard themselves was broken. Death of Adyamān in north Tamilnadu in a war with Cheran Perum Cheral Irumborai fits well with Kharavela’s assistance in the war the Chera king. It was discussed in the previous article.

15. The author implies that Manu Nidhi Cholan was different from King Ellalan.


From the 21st and 25th chapters of Mahavamsa it is known that both are the same. Ellalan was known as Manu Nidhi Cholan.

16.The author thinks that the diversion of kaveri water by ‘Kallanai’ built by Cholan king Karikala was considered as the descent of Kaveri (to Chola lands).

“This diversion of Kaveri water had been viewed as the descent of Kaveri river”.


This view is not supported by the information contained in Tiruvalangadu copper plates. The 34th and 35th verse of the Sanskrit portion of the inscriptions say that river Kaveri was brought down from the mountains by human efforts.

“to him (was born) king Chitradhanvan.
(V. 35.) Having come to know that king Bhagiratha engrossed in penance brought down (from heaven) the river of gods (i.e., Ganga) (to earth), this king (also) desirous to fame brought her (i.e., Ganga) to his dominions under the name Kaverakanyaka (i.e., Kaveri).”

This is in tune with the reference found in Valmiki Ramayana that Kaveri was once a receptacle and not a river. (Valmiki Ramayana 4-41-14 &15).

So the author’s view that the diversion of Kaveri waters by Kallanai was construed as descent of Kaveri is unfounded.

17. The author makes some statements in the course of dating Thiruvalluvar. He says,

1.     Mamulanar indicates that Thiruvalluvar was a contemporary of Nanda dynasty of Magadha enpire.
2.     Ashariri and Namakkal” found in Thiruvalluva Malai were poets who lived after Thiruvalluvar.
3.     Date of Thiruvalluva Malai fixed at 17th century BCE before Ugra Peruvazhuthi, the king of last Sangam aseembly.


First one is wrong as Mamulanar did not say that Thiruvalluvar was a contemporary of Nanda dynasty. It was Mamulanar who was the contemporary of Nandas as he mentioned that name in his verse in Agananuru (265). The same Mamulanar contributed a verse in praise of Thiruvalluvar in the Thiruvalluva malai. This seems to have made the author link Thiruvalluvar with Nanda’s times.

The author doesn’t seem to be aware that Thiruvalluva Malai was a compilation of praises of Thiruvalluvar and Thirukkural by various Sangam poets. This compilation was published in the same court of Ugra Peruvaɻuti under the same judge Urutthira Sanman who approved the commentary by Nakkīrar on Iṟaiyanār Agapporuḷ. So the different authors who contributed to the Malai need not be of the same period. They had collected and compiled the verses on Thirukkural and Thiruvalluvar. The antecedents of the poets or the kings praised by them cannot be taken as hints of Thiruvalluvar’s time perod.

The 2nd idea on Ashariri and Namakkal as poets is absurd, as Ashariri is Akāsh Vāṇi – the divine voice that was heard at the beginning of the session and Nāmagaḷ (wrongly spelt as Namakkal) is Goddess Saraswathi.

The 3rd idea of assigning a date for Thiruvalluvar is arbitrary and unsubstantiated.

18. The author assigns a date before 13th century BCE to Kambar. According to him Sadayappa Vallal was a Veḷir king. He constructs a narrative that Kambar fled the country after his son was sentenced to death by the king. Quoting a legend of Cambodia he says that Kambu, the founder of the first dynasty of Cambodia must have been Kambar who wrote Ramayana. He popularised Ramayana in Cambodia and his descendants became known as Kambujas!


There is no fact, this is only fiction!

19. The author dates Silappadhikaram at 11th century BCE.


The author must establish the time of Satakarni too who helped Senguttuvan in his northern expedition. But that would not be difficult for him. His modus operandi is to just quote Ilango Adigal’s (author of Silappadhikaram) date that he assigned at 1120 – 1040 BCE and add a few years to say that it was the date of Satakarni!

20. The author constructs a narrative to justify the name ‘Dravida’ for Tamil lands

He says that a son by name Dravida was born to Krishna and Jāmbavati. Quoting Bhagavata Purana that Satyavrata was the king of Dravidas, the author says that the Dravidas came to be known as Satyavrata-putras or Satyaputras. They migrated to South India, to Thondai Mandalam from Dvaravati (quotes Tolkappiyam as a source for this). He assigns the date of submergence of Dvaravati to 9500-9000 BCE, during the reign of Satyavrata. He further justifies the name Tamil from Dravida > Damila > Tamila.


The terms Dravida – Damila have no presence in any Tamil text of Sangam age.

The author is freely mixing up people based on the phonetic similarity of their names. Krishna’s son Dravida is linked with Satyavrata (he was Manu) who was further linked with Adyamān as he was mentioned as Satyaputra in Jambai inscriptions.

Tolkāppiyam does not say that Veḷir-s came from Dvaravati, only the commentator Naccinārkkiniyar says.

Coming to the end of it, there is more on the chronology he has given for later kings that are not discussed here. We have concentrated only on ancient Tamil period that people are not familiar with. The author’s non-acquaintance with old Tamil, decipherment based on matching of phonetically similar words and absence of cross referential analysis within the texts and from outside inputs had left a lot to be desired. His claim that Iṟaiyanār Agapporuḷ was composed based on traditional knowledge of Vedic Rishis is reflective of a trend to link Vedic thought mindlessly to anything and everything. It is for these reasons and to caution any future researcher from taking the information from this paper for granted, I have written this three part objection. No malaise intended.

1 comment:


Dear ma'am,
Kambar kala nilai or the age and times kambar will be a riveting story to tell. Kindly write a blog post on it.