Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Agasthya in Dwaraka and Vajra in Porunthal!
My recent visit to Nava Dwaraka gave me some interesting insights into my ongoing research
on ‘Thamizan Dravidanaa?’ (Tamil blog).
What I saw and what I heard / read take me to the same notion that a considerable number of people of Dwaraka region had migrated to Tamilnadu and were settled on the fringes of the Chera, Chozha and Pandyan kingdoms some 3500 years ago when the then existing Dwaraka got submerged by a fresh surge of waves.
This Dwaraka was the 6th Dwaraka – now known as Beyt Dwarka - which was occupied by a group of Dwarakans after the previous deluge that happened 5000 years ago as described in Mausala parva of Mahabharatha.
Krishna’s Dwaraka was the 5th, Beyt Dwarka was the 6th and the present Dwaraka was the 7th one. My contention is that the people of the 6th Dwaraka migrated to Tamil lands.
We have 2 references to a migration of the people from Dwaraka given by Nacchinarkkinyar in his commentary to Tholkaappiyam and
one reference in Pura nanuru from a poem given by Kapilar on Irungovel .
Kapilar’s verse helps us to derive the period of migration.
He refers to his ancestors as coming from Dwaraka (that was surrounded by copper walls), 49 generations before him.
“செம்பு புனைந்தியற்றிய சேணெடும் புரிசை
உவரா வீகைத் துவரை யாண்டு
நாற்பத்தொன்பது வழிமுறை வந்த
வேளிருள் வேளே..” (Purananuru 201)
Assuming that 3 generations can last for 100 years, we can say that the first generation of Irungovel could have come 1600 years before the time of kapilar.
Since Purananuru belongs to a time 2000 years before from now, this puts the time to 3500 years before present.
This coincides with the time assigned for Beyt Dwaraka by the researcher Dr S.R. Rao.
The so-called IVC lasted until this time, starting from 5000 years before present (the deluge after Krishna left his mortal coils).
Nature struck a blow to those people once again 3500 years ago and the Dwaraka of that time (Beyt Dwaraka) was submerged.
In the 1500 year period after the exit of Krishna,
the people have resurrected the memory of Krishna and his life by constructing temples in that region.
One among them is a temple dedicated to Rukmini Devi, the Pattamahishi (Royal queen) of Krishna.
Today this temple stands in the midst of reclaimed land.
For 6 Km radius of this temple, there is no potable water available.
Since this area had been under the Arabian sea for nearly 3500 years now, the water is salty wherever they dig. The old Rukmini temple was found buried under water.
Parts of the old structure were restored and a new temple had been constructed at the same spot.
A salient feature of this temple is that the restored structure forms the middle part of the 3 layered structure of the outer circumference.
The damage caused by sea water erosion when submerged is visibly seen in the structure.
This middle portion (seen in the above picture - click the picture to see the details)
gives us a look into the past – that was 3500 ago.
I was struck by 4 specific figures found in this middle structure.
Of foremost interest is the figure – the only one of its kind in the entire structure- that looks like none other than Sage Agasthya!
There are many female figures, Goddesses and even an unexpected Ram – Lakshman duo,
but there was none like this figure in the entire structure – both old (middle one ) and the new structures.
Sage Agasthya is better recognized by his short stature and a huge belly.
The following picture is that of Agasthya given in Wikipedia.
He is seen to hold a Kamandal in his left hand and a rosary-like thing in his right hand.
A similar looking figure is found in the restored portion of the Rukmini temple though the hands are partly damaged.
We must remember that this figure originally belonged to the old temple that stood up 3500 years ago – before the last deluge.
A question may arise how his figure could find a place in the Rukimini temple -
if Agasthya had come into the picture only after the deluge,
for leading them to Tamilnadu to find a place to settle down.
There could even be an alternate version that this figure was that of Sage Durvasa.
The local story says that Rukmini and Krishna sought the blessings of sage Durvasa for their marriage and pulled a cart carrying the sage.
On the way Rukmini got thirsty and conveyed it to Krishna. Krishna, even as he was pulling the cart, pressed the ground with his toe and a spring of water gushed out pouring into Rukmini’s mouth.
The sage got angry as this was done without his occurrence and therefore cursed them to remain separated for 12 years before getting married.
He also cursed that no sweet water must be available in that place.
This story of Durvasa’s curse seems to be a locally made one.
The separation between Rukmini and Krishna is not supported by Mahabharatha. Krishna married Rukmini in a hurry as there was opposition from Rukmini’s brother.
There is no way that they remained unmarried for 12 years after Rukmini was kidnapped by Krishna from her home town.
This local story cites the location of the present temple of Dwarakadheesh at a distance from Rukmini temple to support this version.
The present day temple of Krishna (Dwarakadheesh) was a later built one whereas the location of Rukmini temple was the original one forming part of Beyt Dwaraka that housed early Dwarakans and a temple for Krishna.
The figure being that of Sage Agasthya is more acceptable
as Agasthya has a connection to Rukmini.
Agasthya’s wife Lopamudra hailed from the same region (Vidharba )
to which Rukmini also belonged.
The presence of Ram-Lakshman in the structure shows
that the original temple could have had a many details from Ramayana.
The depiction of Rama and Lakshmana without Sita is again a matter of interest.
This being the temple of Krishna’s consort,
there is reason to think that Rama is depicted along with his consort, Sita.
Such a scene could have existed in the original structure but lost after the last deluge.
However Ram- Lakshman without Sita on one structure and Agasthya in another structure
could have a relevance in another sense also which I will write in the next post.
In this post, I wanted to highlight that sage Agasthya stands out as the odd man in the entire structure!
Agasthya was a long liver and had hermitages at different parts of India.
At the time of Ramayana, Agsathya lived in Dandaka forests, near Panchavadi.
In Aranya Khanda (chapter 13), Agasthya directs Rama to go to Panchavadi and stay there for the rest of his vanvaas. From his narration it is known that Panchavadi was 5 yojanas in the north of Agasthya’s hermitage. That means Agasthya lived 40 miles south of Panchavadi (1 yojana = 8 miles).
From his Dandaka hermitage, Dwaraka was a close-by place.
When deluge overtook the 6th Dwaraka about 3500 years ago,
he had gone there and guided 18 kings, 18 Royal families and
18 groups of artisans on a journey to the South.
Starting from Ellora (VElur ), Sholapur (Velapur) and Belgaum (VeL Gramam),
many of them started settling on the route through Maharashtra, Karnataka and present day Kerala.
The bulk of the settlement was in Tamilnadu.
The one known as Satyaputhra from Ashokan inscriptions, was Adhiyaman, the VeL king from Dwaraka who had his settlements in Dharmapuri district of Tamilnadu.
There is a place called Adhiyaman kottai in Dharmapuri.
Starting from Dharmapuri, the arc covering Krishnagiri, Hosur, Mysore, Wayanad, Coimbatore, Palani and Nagarkoil had a good number of these migrants settled.
Later on they penetrated everywhere in Tamilnadu.
Leaving out the Royals like Aay Andiran,
we come across a number of artisans in Sangam texts having Dwarakan connection.
The potters, the weavers and the cattle herds were prominent among them.
Almost all the pots unearthed in archeological explorations were made by the VEl kO (வேள்கோ)
who migrated from Dwaraka .
It must also be noted that all these findings were from Vel settlements only.
It is no wonder the excavated items bear semblance to IVC!
Of interest is the decipherment of oldest Tamil Brahmi words found in Porunthal pot.
Dr Iravatham Mahadevan had deciphered it as va-yi-ra.
It means Diamond. It also sounds like Vajra – meaning strong (as diamond).
Vajra was a much glorified person by Dwarakans.
He was the great grand son of none other than the Dwaraka- hero, Krishna!
Vajra was the son of Anirudha whose father Pradhyumna was the eldest son of Krishna and Rukmini!
I think readers would now know the relevance of the title of this post!
People of a region that lived in the memory Krishna and Rukmin and their parivar
had migrated to Tamilnadu led by Sage Agasthya.
When these people faced a crisis, Arjuna was not there to lead them.
Sage Aagsthya came to their rescue and brought them to Tamilnadu.
From that time onwards, Agasthya also could have settled around Pothigai hills.
There is no way to say that the Dwarakans lost their memory of Krishna or Vajra.
It is also possible, that they had names for themselves such as Vajra or Vayira
as they had names of Krishna, Damodara, Kannanaar etc.
These artisans include those who worked on metals, stones and wood.
I will write on a similarity in the feature of sculpturing between Dwaraka and
the Dwarakan settlements in Tamilnadu in another post.