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Friday, October 12, 2018
Ramanuja is a history – 10 (Idangai, Kāpālika, Kālāmukha influence on persecution)
A direct reference to the destruction of a Vishnu
temple and its properties appears perhaps for the first time in the records in
the year CE 1080, which happened to be the 10th year of Kulottunga
I. This inscription[i]
found in Srirangam temple traces the destruction to a conflict between Right
Hand (Valangai) and Left Hand (Idangai) classes. This could also be the first
time a record appears blaming the Valangai-Idangai conflict for the destruction
of a temple. The temple was Mummudi Chola Vinnagar
Alwar at Rajamahendra
Chaturvedi Mangalam, a Brahmadeya situated at a distance of 40 to
50 miles from Srirangam and created by or in the name of Rajamahendra Chola. The
identity of this deity as Vishnu is ascertained from the fact that the
inscription granting funds for rehabilitation is found in the northern wall of
the 4thprakara of Srirangam temple. The odd feature about
this inscription is that the record of the grant was made in the 10th
year of Kulottunga while the destruction had happened in his 2nd
The reference to Idangai – Valangai conflicts near
Srirangam cannot be dismissed lightly because similar conflicts were rampant in
Kanchi from 10th to 12th centuries. And not less than 6 Divya Desam temples of Vishnu[ii] are
without their own temples today raising a question whether they were
deliberately destroyed and not allowed to be re-built even in later years of
monarchy. All these are found in Kanchi only. Of them Nilathingal Thundam
is found today in the inner most Prākāra of the Ekambareswarar temple. Adi
Varaha Perumal of Kalvanoor
temple is without a temple but is found housed in a small shrine near the
sanctum of Kamakshi Amman of Kanchipuram.
Kamakshi Amman appears often in the references to Idangai- Valangai conflicts!
It must be noted here that Pillai
Lokam Jeer in his commentary on ‘Ramanuja
Nootrandhadhi’ makes a significant statement that the birth of
Tirumangai Alwar happened at a time heretics (Pashandi) were destroying Vishnu
Divya Desams in the Chola country to build Shiva temples. He also says that Alavandhar who was born some time after him won the
debates with heretics in the royal court of Cholas.[iii]This shows that the heretics were recognised
by Chola kings or even patronised by them.
With Ramanuja coming in the same period, we can
identify the period of royal support of heretics to 10th and 11th
centuries. Royal support had extended to such an extent that freedom to follow
one’s sect was curbed in the times of Ramanuja, as known from the persecution
episode that cost Periya Nambi’s life, Kurattalwan’s eye sight and made Ramanuja
leave the country. All these necessitate a study of the causes present in the
Chola society at that time.
Two sets people emerge in our analysis at two levels
of influence in the society and on the royal house. They were Idangai (Left
hand) and Valangai (Right Hand) classes *(A note at the end of this article)
with differences in socio-economic
and political status. Another set comes from Idangai alone having
practices. They can be identified as Kapalikas,
Kalamukhas, Pasupatas and Maheswaras. This
distinction seemed to have come to stay in Ramanuja’s times.
By the time of Kulottunga III the Idangai identified
themselves as having 98 sects, though they had conceded that they had forgotten
their origins.[iv]The Valangai too claimed to have 98
sects within themselves in later day inscriptions.[v]
Origins of Idangai and Valangai.
Though most historians have expressed inability to
ascertain the origins of these two classes, we are able to get some hints from
inscriptions and from Silappadhikaram, a Tamil text written 2000 years ago.
Many inscriptions make a reference to ‘Vaishnavas of 18 regions (naadu)’ in the case of
Vishnu temples. Even Dr Nagaswamy refers to the ‘representatives of the Srivaishnavas of 18 regions’ as among
the functionaries in charge of the administration of Srirangam temple.[vi]
There are many inscriptions found in Karnataka too making a mention of these 18
castes, implying that they were not region specific, that is., not belonging to
only Tamil lands.
Of importance is an inscription dated at CE 1362
during the reign of Kampana Odeyar, son of Bukka I which refers
to ‘sons of
forty eight generations’ in the context of 18 Srivaishnavas. [vii]
The author, Saletore interprets the sons of
48 generations to mean Jains and clubbed together Srivaishnavas and Jains into one class of
Valangai. It seems he is not aware that Srivaishnavites never aligned with
Jains as they considered them heretics.
Here the reference to sons of 48 generations has a
parallel to a similar reference found in the Tamil Sangam text of Purananuru. In the 201st verse of
Puranauru composed by poet Kapilar we come
across the reference to the king of Mysore (Erumaiyur), Irungovel as the 49th king coming in the lineage of
kings who ruled Dwaraka! 48 generations were over when Kapilar composed the
verse on him.
This is identical with Velir migration mentioned by Naccinārkkiniyar
in his commentary to Tolkāppiyam that eighteen kings of Krishna’s family,
eighteen families of Velir and Aruvalars were brought (to Tamil lands). [viii]Irungovel was a king coming in the lineage of
one of the 18 kings of Krishna’s clan. The 48 generations before him work out
to minimum of 1500 years, assuming 3 generations per century. With the date of
this poem to be close to 2000 years before present, the time of Velir migration
works out to be around 1500 BCE which is nothing
but the date of the decline of the Indus- Sarasvatī civilization.
The presence of 18 clans can be cross referenced
from Mahabharata in the narration of Krishna himself, mentioned twice that 18 clans of Yadavas
wanted to move out of Mathura for fear of Jarāsandha.[ix] They
settled down in Dwaraka along with Krishna. They
must have migrated to south along with 18 descendants of Krishna’s family. The
18 descendants of Krishna’s family settled down as Velir kings in Kerala,
Mysore and the fringe regions of Chola and Pandya territories then. By the
beginning of the Common Era all of them were liquidated.
The 18 Velir clans and Aruvalars remained in various
regions and must be still continuing now without knowing their origins. Their
association with Krishna in the past must have certainly made them Vishnu worshipers and they must have come to be
identified as 18 Vaishnavite castes in due
course. The reference to 48 generations must have come to be frozen at that
number as almost all the Velir kings were gone by that time (start of the
Common Era). There must have been a confusion or mix-up with the 48 generations
that ended then and the 18 clans of Velirs who were fraternally connected with
The above inscription by Kampana Odeyar breaks the
ice on the identity of Valangai people. Their association with Krishna in the
distant past must have made others look at them for the upkeep of Vishnu
Velir clans were also known as Velālar, the agriculturists.
Naccinārkkiniyar refers to two categories among them as self cultivators and
landlords who engaged others to cultivate (உழுதுண்போர்,
was their status in the beginning of the Common Era.
Socio- Political importance to Valangai
The Valangai were predominantly Velālar class
(agriculturists) while the Idangai were artisan class. For the first time in
Chola history, the Valangai got predominance over the Idangai in the period of Rajaraja
I. He formed “Valangai
Velaikkara Padaikal” – the Velaikkara troops of the Right Hand, who were
dedicated soldiers, sworn to give their life for the king. Thirteen of the
regiments of Rajaraja I mentioned in Tanjore inscriptions belonged to these
Right Hand sections.[xi]
They were admitted to High positions that ensured many privileges. This was in
contrast to Idangai section, the Left Hand people who were artisans and traders
and whose major location was at Kanchi! These traders were subject to taxes and
did not enjoy the socio-political status that Right Hand people started
enjoying from the time of Rajaraja’s reign.
This had continued in Adhirajendra’s period
too in the installation of Velaikkara troops in Ceylon after
winning Vijayabahu I alias Kitti, which finds mention in the 7th
year inscription of Vīrarajendra[xii]
and donations in the 2nd year of Adhirajendra to a Shiva temple[xiii]
raised in the name of Rajendra I’s mother in Rajendra’s period. It is also
likely that the Veliakkara troops were employed in Ceylon in Rajaraja I’s
times. But the status quo had continued in Adhirajendra’s times. However a
ounter opinion is found in Mahavamsa that the Velaikkarar troops contained
Idangai classes too. [xiv]
The overall scenario was such that while the
Valangai were flourishing in all spheres in the Chola country, the Idangai
mostly concentrated in Kanchi were reeling under heavy taxation and less privileges.
Among the migrants accompanying Velirs, the Aruvalars settled down in Kanchi which was a no-man’s
land 3000 years ago. Discovery of Kurma like (tortoise) stone structure near a
lake in a place called Vadamangalam, in Sriperumbudur, in Kanchipuram district
is dated to 3000 years before present.[xv]
The term Aruvalar has the root ‘Aruval’, which means 'sickle'. Perhaps these people
were engaged in cutting works using iron weapons. The literary history of Karikāla
known from the commentary to Silappadhikaram and Kalingatthu Bharani says that Karikāla chola went to Kanchi, worshiped at the Saathan (Shāsta)
temple there and received ‘Chendu’ - the stone
cutting instrument from the deity with which he chiselled his emblem on the
This was perhaps the first
ever interaction with a king by the Aruvalars or to put it differently,
the working class who originally arrived with the descendants of Krishna’s
family had the chance to help or interact with a powerful Chola king. This is
repeated here to insist that they could have been Vishnu worshipers. They must
have played a big role in buildingVishnu temples in Kanchi and Thondai Mandalam under Pallava
patronage. Installation of Krishna as Parthasarathy
along with his family members at Triplicane could also be attributed to the
immigrant Velir and Aruvalar population from Dwaraka.
Now enters another section called Idangai, into Kanchi.
Idangai were basically weavers and smiths of
different descriptions. They have identified themselves as 98 sects among themselves. This number once again
rings familiarity with a description found in Silappadhikaram. The text
says that King Satakarni sent many gifts and men
to the Cheran king Senguttuvan before he started
his expedition to the Himalayas. Among them were 100 jesters well versed in 96 Pashanda sects (heretic sects).[xvii]They had come from Indus regions, anywhere
from Afghanistan to Gujarat. The presence of 1000 or more heretic sects in Kāpishā (Nuristan) in eastern Afghanistan is
reported by the Chinese pilgrim Huan Tsnag in his travelogue of the 7th
They were described as naked, or covered with ashes with some of
them making chaplets of bones and wearing them on their heads.[xviii]
These descriptions fit with Kāpālikas, an
Saivite sect. The fact remains that people well versed in 96 such heretic sects
had come to settle down in Tamil lands. (Jainism is one among the sects
identified as Pashanda sect). It is not known where they settled down later.
This is one side of the information we have.
On the other side we find people of similar
religious leanings settled in Kanchi and identified as Idangai. The Idangai
inscriptions end up as ‘Maheswara
rakshai’. The Maheswara sects were treated as heretics. According to Adi Sankara[xix],
Maheswaras “maintain that the five categories, viz.
effect, cause, union, ritual, the end of pain, were taught by the Lord Pasupati
(Siva)” who is treated as the operative cause of Creation. This is
against Vedic teaching. This feature puts them on the same ground with the
people having knowledge of 96 heretic sects who arrived in the beginning of the
Common Era. The Idangai 98 could have evolved from
those 96 sects. Moreover the presence of these Idangai sects spread over
South India supports the idea of a movement from Indus-Sarasvatī to all over
Deccan. Kanchi was the major location of the Idangai where Aruvalars (Valangai)
were already settled.
Thus Kanchi happened to be the place of co-existence
of the Valangai, generally known to be Vishnu worshipers and the Idangai, the
worshipers of Shiva in unconventional ways. When they both co-exist in the same
place clashes are bound to appear.
appears in the legends[xx] of
the conflicts between Idangai and Valangai in Kanchi taking the conflict to
2000 years before present. According to that version Karikāla Chola granted
privileges to the Idangai sects, each with a flag, banner etc. A later version
at the time of Buchanan says that the Idangai claimed that they got the
privileges from Kali of Kanchi which is nothing but a reference to Kamakshi Amman of Kanchi.[xxi]
In both the versions it is said that some privileges
were given to the sections of people standing on the two sides of Karikāla
Chola or Kali of Kanchi. That gave rise to the names as Right handed (those
standing in the right side of the king / deity) and left handed.
But a deeper analysis shows that it was not as
simple as that. They seemed to have got the name by the belief system they
professed as Vamachara for
Idangai (Left handed) and Dakshinachara for Valangai (Right Handed). Heretic sects were
known as Vamachara
or heterodox. They followed Tantric activities known as Vāmamārga. The Idangai inscriptions also end with
an identity “Tantiratthar” – meaning the followers
There is even an account that Valangai Vaishnavite Brahmins and Idangai Saiva Brahmins of Kanchi had a dispute over
the use of Garuda banner. Garuda being the mount
of Vishnu the Valangai claimed that it belonged to them. But the Idangai too
claimed that it belonged to them. It was to settle this issue Vikrama Chola Deva Perumal ordered his authorities to
look into old copper records. This happened in the year Paridhabi which was
identified as 1072-73 during the reign of Kulottunga I in Part
of this series. This clearly makes out that a conflict had occurred between two
religious sects raising scope to believe that it was brewing for some time and
led to the murder of Rajamahendra who was
undoubtedly a Vishnu worshiper.
Ramanuja’s diatribe against un-orthodox
In this backdrop we come across a strong fight put
up by Ramanuja, who also happened to be a resident of Kanchi, against the
heretic sects that had a dominant presence in Kanchi. This is revealed in his
Sri Bhashya to Brahma Sutras. Commenting on verse 2-2-36, Ramanuja picks out four
sects, Kapalikas, Kalamukhas, Pasupatas and Saivas saying
that they followed practices and interpretations that did not concur with
Vedas. The same verse is commented by Adi Sankara by naming the un-orthodox sects as “Maheswaras” for Saivas and rejects them.[xxii]
Ramanuja’s commentary is reproduced
Brahma Sutra 36.
(The system) of the Lord (must be disregarded), on account of
“So far it has been shown that the
doctrines of Kapila, Kanâda, Sugata, and the Arhat must
be disregarded by men desirous of final beatitude; for those doctrines are all
alike untenable and foreign to the Veda. The Sûtras now declare that, for the
same reasons, the doctrine of Pasupati also has to be disregarded. The
adherents of this view belong to four different classes--Kâpâlas, Kâlâmukhas, Pâsupatas,
and Saivas. All of them hold fanciful theories of Reality which are
in conflict with the Veda, and invent various means for attaining happiness in
this life and the next. They maintain the general material
cause and the operative cause to be distinct, and the latter cause to be
constituted by Pasupati.
They further hold the wearing of the six so-called 'mudrâ' badges and the like to be
means to accomplish the highest end of man.
Thus the Kâpâlas say, 'He who knows the true nature of the
six mudrâs, who understands the highest mudrâ, meditating on himself as in the
position called bhagâsana, reaches Nirvâna. The
necklace, the golden ornament, the earring, the head-jewel, ashes, and the
sacred thread are called the six mudrâs. He whose body is marked with
these is not born here again.'--Similarly the Kâlâmukhas teach that the means for obtaining all
desired results in this world as well as the next are constituted by certain
practices--such as using a
skull as a drinking vessel, smearing oneself with the ashes of a dead body,
eating the flesh of such a body, carrying a heavy stick, setting up a
liquor-jar and using it as a platform for making offerings to the gods, and the
like. 'A bracelet made of Rudrâksha-seeds on the
arm, matted hair on the head, a skull, smearing oneself with ashes,
&c.'--all this is well known from the sacred writings of the Saivas. They
also hold that by some special ceremonial performance men of different castes may become Brâhmanas and reach the highest âsrama: 'by merely entering on the
initiatory ceremony (dîkshâ) a man becomes a Brâhmana at
once; by undertaking the kâpâla rite a man becomes at once an ascetic.'
With regard to these views the Sûtra
says 'of pati, on account of inappropriateness.' A 'not' has here to be
supplied from Sûtra 32. The system of Pasupati has to be disregarded because it is
inappropriate, i.e. because the different views and practices referred to are
opposed to one another and in conflict with the Veda. The
different practices enumerated above, the wearing of the six mudrâs and so on,
are opposed to each other; and moreover the theoretical assumptions of those
people, their forms of devotion and their practices, are in conflict with the Veda.
For the Veda declares that Nârâyana who is the highest Brahman is alone the
operative and the substantial cause of the world”
Kāpāla rite and caste factor.
A notable feature in the above commentary is that
lower castes were elevated to the level of Brahmins and the 4th
Asrama, namely ascetic-hood, by taking up the Kāpāla rites. The
practices of the Kāpālika are not very tough due to the fact that eating meat,
drinking liquor and offering the same to the deity and sexual pleasure were
considered to be the pathway to salvation. This seemed to be an easy way to get
lower castes into Kāpālika sect.
Caste issue seemed to have been a hotly debated one
in that period if we take into consideration a specific reference found in the
Kanyakumari inscriptions of Vīrarajendra issued in his 7th year
(1069-70). This inscription gives a detailed genealogy of the Cholas and for
the first time we come across a direct reference to Rama of Ikshvaku race
finding a place in the lineage of the Cholas. Surprisingly a justification for
Rama killing Shambuka is found in a verse in that context. It is as follows:[xxiii]
Why should this appear in the genealogy part when no
other Chola king directly mentioned Rama in their family tree? Was there a
debate raging at that time finding fault with Rama for the death of a shudra
who aspired to be an ascetic? Did Vīrarajendra, under
the influence of his elder brother Rajamahendra lean on Vaishnavite side and
included Rama’s name and also this issue to send a message to whosoever were
raising an issue over it?
Even as these questions suggest certain caste based
debates running in the country implicating Rama, of all the persons, we could
also see quick social churning initiated around the same time by Ramanuja by
bringing all into Vaishnavite sect just by the worship of Narayana.
Ramanuja’s pill for caste upliftment.
As one having grown in Kanchi, Ramanuja seemed to be
well aware of the issues troubling Idangai people and lower castes in general.
They needed social recognition and religious elevation. It must be mentioned
here that two among the 10 Kottus of Saattaada
Srivaishnavas (non-Brahmins) pressed in to service of Srirangam temple
by Ramanuja contained the Valangai ‘Tiruvelaikkarar Kottu’ and the Idangai ‘Kammala Kottu’. The former took care of the
protection of the temple while the later were engaged in activities like
sculpturing, pottery and the like.[xxiv]
He was able to achieve equality among castes both in social and religious
pursuits by means of Srivaishnavism.
This must have attracted many people, particularly
the Idangai and lower castes – causing heart burns to the Mahewara sects. Dr Nagaswamy might wonder
what Ramanuja did for social cause. But the enviable position Ramanuja put
himself in contrast to Kāpālikas and other Saiva sects cost him to leave the
Even while Rajamahendra and Virarajendra were
around, Ramanuja successfully thwarted the attempts of Kalahasti Saivas from taking over
Venkateswara temple at Tirumala. The Shiva temple of Kalahasti has a legend of Kannappa Nayanar worshiping
the deity in un-orthodox ways. That was similar to Maheswara or Kāpālika ways
of worship. That legend could have attracted the Kāpālikas to take over the
temple. It was they who had tried to take over Tirupati temple also.
Virarajendra’s inscription on Rama seemed to convey the king’s mind on what
side he was leaning.
With skirmishes on the rise in Kanchi, Vīrarajendra
might have thought Rajamahendra was a right choice to head Kanchi which until
then was put under some commanders. Rajamahendra’s assignment at Kanchi could
have meant to be a shot in the arm for Vishnu worshiping Valangai at a time
when Kāpālikas and Kālāmukhas were on the rise in Kanchi.** (refer foot note) But it didn’t work the way they wanted.
Rajamahendra lost his life in the enmity against him. Everything related to
Rajamahendra seemed to have borne the brunt of the hatred against him. That
explains the destruction of Rajamahendra Chaturvedi Mangalam near Srirangam.
It must also be noted here that the regions of
Idangai- Valangai conflict in that period was dotted with monasteries of Kālāmukhas.
There existed in Ramanuja’s period Kālāmukha monasteries at Tiruvanaikkovil in
Chinglepet, Vedal in North Arcot district, Koyil Tevarayanpettai in Tanjore
district and Kodumbalur in Trichy district – all close to Kanchi and Srirangam![xxv]
Kapāliswarar temple at Mylapore and the Shiva temple
at Tiruvottriyur were under Kāpālika and Kālāmukha control only. Tiruvottroyur
Tyagaraja temple which was praised in Devaram was known as Kāranai Vitanka Deva temple in the 10th
century. Evil practices such as offering arrack and flesh of animals and human
beings were common at that time. Even though Adi
Sankara had fought against them and abolished such practices at
Tiruvottroyur, they had resumed in the 10th and 11th
century from the times of Parantaka I.[xxvi] This
temple was patronised by Rajendra I and Rahadhiraja II
of the 12th century had even attended a discourse of the Kālāmukhas
in this temple.[xxvii]This is proof of the Chola royal family’s
admiration for these heretic sects.
At the time of Ramanuja, the influence of these
sects on the Chola kings seemed to have peaked or else there is no
justification for Ramanuja to have strongly and elaborately admonished them in
his Sri Bhashya. A word on the time of writing of Sri Bhashya: Ramanuja
had finished it much before leaving for Karnataka. Yatiraja
Vaibhavam, the primary text of his life events says that he finished Sri
Bhashya to Vedanta Sutras even before his first trip to Tirupati.
Ramanuja had used double-edged strategy – denouncing
the heretic sects and that resulted in common man turning away from those sects
and attracting them to Srivaishnavism by giving them a socio-religious status.
The presence of 12,000 of such persons (Satthada
Vaishnavas) accompanying the procession of Ramanuja’s mortal remains and
chanting Divya Prabhandam could not have been a fanciful number given by 6000
With the rise in popularity of Ramanuja in
attracting lower strata in what may be called socio-religious engineering, the
four Maheswara sects must have become a troubled lot. The death of Rajamahendra might have given second thoughts to
Adhirajendra on extending equal support to both Idangai and Valangai.
The 3rd year inscription of Adhirajendra giving equal benefits to
the women of Idangai and Valangai in the devadana land of Eyittriyar habitation
in Kanchi shows that he was initially neutral.[xxviii]
With the death of Rajamahendra, Adhirajendra might
have undergone a gradual change of mind, caused by the association of Kālāmukhas
and Kāpālikas. For example Nalooran
who was supposed to have incited Adhirajendra to summon
Ramanuja to sign up a declaration accepting the supremacy of Shiva was a
resident of Thondai Mandalam (Kanchi) region.[xxix]
Idangai influence on him is very much a possibility.
Here we must have clarity about Shiva worshipers and
Maheswara sects. Shiva
worshipers had worshiped Shiva in the Vedic way. But Maheswaras consisting of Kāpālikas, Kālāmukhas, Pasupatas and
Saivas (Saiva siddhnathins) did not adhere to the Vedic way. Only they had
caused damage to Vishnu temples.
Three verses of Ramanuja Nootrandhadhi refer to
these Pashanda sects.
The reference to ‘Pulai
samayam’,‘Neecha samayam’ and ‘Theeya
samayam’ in the light of dominance of Maheswara sects during his time
shows how much Ramanuja had worked hard to unsettle them.
Heretics influenced Adhirajendra
Ramanuja’s parting verse before leaving Srirangam
conveys the view that these sects had influenced the king. Earlier in Part
it was written that Ramanuja recited verse 8 of Tirumalai
before taking leave of Lord Ranganatha. That verse is reproduced below.
O Lord in - Arangama-nagar! The hate-filled heresies, Mundas, and the
godless Sakhyas speak irresponsibly about you, that itself will be their doom.
If the opportunity arises, chopping off their heads right there is the roha
Karma for me.
Though the verse refers to Jains and Buddhists – the
two heretical sects prevailing at the time of the author of this verse, Thondaradi Podi Alwar, newer sects had come up in
Ramanuja’s times. They had caused damage to temples near Srirangam and at
Kanchi. The king had chosen a path in support of them either due to his natural
leaning towards these sects or as a reaction to the unfortunate death Rajamahendra.
In that situation, it is better to leave without hearing the words of the kings
and his heretic friends.
It is worth noting here in this context that a professor of History of the Annamalai University
wondered whether Ramanuja
ran away. He came to the conclusion that the
management and the functionaries of the Srirangm temple were dissatisfied with
him, causing him to leave the country on his own.[xxx] It
is obvious the author had not studied the primary text ‘6000 Padi’. It says how
an anguished Ramanuja recited the above quoted verse from Tirumalai before leaving Srirangam. The verse is
reflective of what was in his mind. The non-vedic
heretics were in his mind, as those speaking ill of Narayana.
If he happened to face them directly let God give
him the strength to decapitate them. Now he was not facing them, so he had to leave
and wait for the opportune moment as ordained by God.
Ramanuja did not run away. If things were different,
say, if Ramanuja was not in the bath when the emissaries arrived, he would have
gone with them to meet the king. He could have made wonders, like he did in
curing the daughter of Hoysala Vishnuvardhana. Or Lord
Narasimha could have come in someone’s form and destroyed the king or
the trouble giver, like how He did to save Adi Sankara when a Kāpālika
by name Ugra Bhairava wanted to cut off Sankara’s head.[xxxi]
Circumstances did not happen for a direct
face-to-face conflict with the king and his heretic friends. God had a
different design. Ramanuja was needed in the Hoysala country to drive away the
Jains. He was needed to restore Tirunarayanapuram temple. Until then the Chola
country had to undergo the effects of escalated caste conflicts and get the
heretics reduced in size.
Kulottunga, with Idangai background fitted the bill
at Kanchi. The worship of Sapta Mata (sever
mother Goddesses) in the beginning of Kalingatthu Bharani
shows his Idangai leanings. Mother
Goddess- worship is part of Vamachara which was resisted initially in
Tamil lands.[xxxii]The issues faced at Kanchi were of mixed
nature – regarding the development of Idangai in economic, social and religious
spheres. It took 28 years for Kulottunga to abolish the ‘sungam’ (toll tax)
that had oppressed the Idangai until then.
(Nilakanta Sastri quotes an inscription of CE 1194
that referred to Chola country as one where no ‘Sungam’ was collected. [xxxiii]
That could have applied to the movement of goods within the country. But a reference
to the collection of toll (sungam – சுங்கம்)
is found in the Sangam text called Perum paaN aatrup padai as “Ulgudaip peru vazhi” (உல்குடைப்பெருவழி)
where Ulgu refers to toll-tax (sungam) and Peru vazhi to Highway. [xxxiv]
This was on the Highway connecting Kanchi with coastal towns upto Vishakhapatnam
in the north and Pandyan coasts in the south.[xxxv]
name of this stretch known as Cholamandala
became corrupted into Coramandal
coast much later.)
Sixteen coins discovered at Kavaliyadavalli at
Nellore district bearing the legend ‘Sung’
in Tamil and one of them bearing indistinct marks referring to ‘Kanchi’ and others to Nellore [xxxvi]
establishes the trade movements between these two places and the relief accrued
to traders by the abolition of the toll tax. The traders were Idangai classes.
Kulottunga managed to maintain neutral stance in
religious spheres. He was not known to have sided with heretic sects as did
Adhirajendra. So it was a matter of time for the decline of the hold of the
heretic sects on the Chola king. It did happen – albeit temporarily – with the
death of Adhirajendra, facilitating the re-entry of Ramanuja to the Chola
country. There is no direct evidence for that date to be CE 1111. But indirect
evidences are there which will be discussed next.
* Idangai – Valangai
Two classes of people named Idangai and Valangai
having numerous castes within their fold are known to have existed for more
than 1000 years. They were found in mainly in Tamil lands, Mysore and Canarese
regions with their epicentre at Kanchi. They were always in conflict with each
other which had continued for many centuries. The last time such conflicts were
reported was in the 19th century but the reason for the
disappearance thereafter, of their
denomination as Idangai and Valangai can be attributed to the changing times of
modern India where individual castes, and not conglomeration of castes have
gained importance. This can be understood from the cluster of castes attached
to Idangai and Valangai.
Buchanan in his visit to Mysore in the 18th
century enumerated the following list of castes for Idangai (Left Hand) and Valangai
(Right Hand). [xxxvii]
Buchanan observes that Brahmans, Kshatriyas and some
Vaisya communities were not part of these two classes.
The list of castes of these two classes as it
existed in Tamilnadu is given below from the enumeration done by Mr M.Srinivasa
Iyengar in 1914.[xxxviii]
All these castes were predominantly working class
engaged in weaving, smithy and all menial works. Among leather workers the
women of Chkkiliya caste belonged to Valangai while the men were classified as
Idangai. One can imagine the stress this could cause. The noteworthy point is
that these two classes had their own temples and their own habitation which was
prohibited for the other class. Anyone violating this prohibition faced dire
consequences resulting in a flare up of clashes between the two. The clashes
continue even today between individual castes though the origins of this
conflicting mentality traced to Idangai – Valangai distinction is now
** Kāpālikas and Kālāmukhas
The earliest reference to Kāpālika in Kanchi appears
in the Sanskrit play Mattavilasa
Prahasana by the Pallava king Mahendra Varman I
of the 6-7th century. The Kāpālikas were disparagingly described and
hated very much. But somehow they gained foot hold by their violent methods, as
known from an inscription[xxxix]
found in Southern Mysore state in the 10th century. It tells about
Kapalikas arranging a string of newly cut-off heads of Pallavas. It appears the
Pallavas faced an enemy in them in as much they faced enmity with neighbouring
Vikramaditya VI was known to be a supporter of Kālāmukhas.[xl] His
forays into Kanchi after the death of Vīrarajendra could have been aimed at
getting support of the Kālāmukhas and other Maheswara Idangai people. But he
was out-witted by Kulottunga who carefully put him away from Kanchi. Perhaps this
could also be a reason why Kulottunga was not seen as a supporter of the
S.I.I., Volume 24, No.53 (A.R.No. 31 of 1936 -37)
six Divya Desam temples now without a temple of their own are all in Kanchi.
They are 1.Ooragam
TV Mahalingam, (1940). “Administration And Social Life Under Vijayanagar”, Page
C.S.Srinivasachari in an article titled “Origin of the right and left hand
caste divisions” published in the “Journal Of The Andhra Historical Research
Society,vol.4,pt-1 And 2 (1929), page 82.
N. Lorenzen, (1972). “The Kāpālikas and Kālāmukhas: Two Lost
Śaivite Sects” Pages 24.