Wednesday, May 24, 2017

4. Early Pandyan history found in Raghu Vamsam of Kalidasa.

One king from each of the three dynasties of Tamil lands, namely Chera, Chola and Pandyas had gone all the way from Tamil lands to the Himalayas and engraved their symbols on the peak of the mountain. Three questions arise from this:-

1. Who were the kings who made this journey?

2. In which part of the Himalayas did they engrave their symbols?

3. What was the motive to make this journey and engrave their emblems?

Taking up the first question, the names of Cheran and Cholan kings were discussed in the previous article. The name of the Pandyan king is not exactly known. But the information about one such Pandyan king of the very olden days finds mention in the Sanskrit portion of the larger copper plates found at Sinnamanur. 

The approximate date of these copper plates is 10th century CE.

The interesting part of this is that the information found in the first few verses on early Pandyans as seen in the above portion, is also found in Raghu Vamsam authored by Kalidasa. In the 6th sarga of Raghuvamsam, verses 59 to 65 are about the Pandyan king who attended the Swayamvar of Bhoja princess Indumati. (1)


Similarity between epigraphic info and Kalidasa’s description.

The very introduction of that king by her friend Sunanda was “UragAkhsya purasya nAtham” – the lord of the city of snakes. This is interpreted by scholars as Naga-pattinam or some Naga or Uraga land. But those in the know of Tamil Sangam texts understand that this refers to the capital city of the Pandyas of the 2nd Sangam period, known as “ālavāi” (ஆலவாய் ) having twin meanings as the “Gateway of the sea” and “snake”.

Gateway of the sea is known as “Kavāta” in Sanskrit and that name was found mentioned by Sugreeva  for the Pandyan Capital(2).  This name Kavātam is also mentioned in Tamil by the commentators of yore while referring to the capital city of the 2nd Sangam period.

This name is similar to the name Dvāraka or Dvārāvathi. Dvāra in Sanskrit means gate or door and Dvāraka refers to the same. In a surprising similarity, both Kavātam (ālavāi) and Dvāraka are located at the mouth of the sea where the land starts. Both these cities had suffered submergence repeatedly but the newer locations next the sea were once again called by the old name having the meaning ‘door’ or ‘gate’.

When Alavāi was lost to the sea, the Pandyans moved very much inland and established their new capital at present day Madurai which was given the name Alavāi only. We will discuss about this similarity in another context later.

Alavāi also means snake in Tamil. The text by name “Thiruvilaiyādal puranam” that describes the many sports of Lord Shiva as the guardian deity of the Pandyan rulers, has a chapter named “Alavāi khānda”. It tells about the loss of habitat for the Pandyan kingdom and how they moved to the new lands.

It says that Lord Shiva appeared as a Siddha and threw out his hand band which was in the image of a snake. It grew as a long snake and the land encircled by it was accepted as the new land where the Pandyan king and his surviving people decided to build their new city. That city was named as Alavāi (snake) which also has the meaning ‘gateway of the sea’. This city was the capital of the Pandyans during the 2nd Sangam period. The reference to city of snake in Raghu vamsam shows that the time period of the Pandyan who attended the swayamvar was the 2nd Tamil Sangam age.

In her introduction of this king to princess Indumati, Sunanda repeats the views that we find in the inscription shown above. She mentions about sage Agasthya as his priest under whose guidance the Pandyan king had done the Aswamedha yajna. She also tells that “Lanka-adhipati” made peace with the Pandyan king fearing danger to his people from the wonderful astra that Pandyan got from Lord Shiva. This information appearing in Kalidasa’s work many centuries before it was written in the copper plates of Sinanmanur could not have been a figment of imagination but an attestation of a prevalent notion which cannot be anything other than true.

Sunanda also speaks about the conquering of Indra’s throne by the Pandyan king. This follows her reference to Ravana.

Though this seems to be tinged with mythical overtones, one can not dismiss the references from multiple sources, to Indra as someone who lived in some location on the earth, such as

# Indrajit (Ravana’s son) getting his name for having overpowered Indra,

# Muruga (Skanda / Karthikeya), the son of Meenakshi of Pandyan land marrying Devyani, the daughter of Indra after rescuing Indra’s son from Sūrapadman,

# Muchukunda, described as an early Cholan king receiving the “NāLangādi Bhootham” from Indra for having taken care of his kingdom in Amaravathy while Indra was on a military mission against Asuras (he later consecrated that in Pumpuhar),

# Indra’s charioteer Matali driving the chariot of Rama in the war against Ravana and

# Matali coming to the Asura lands in southern hemisphere along with Narada to find a groom for his daughter and finally choosing  Sumukha, son of Aryaka in Bhogavathi as his son in law. (3)

If we are dismissing all the above as myths, then the Pandyan king overpowering Indra can also be a myth. But that it is not so will be discussed later in the series.

The next interesting narrative on the Pandyan king by Sunanda is that if Indumati chooses to marry him, she would become the “sapatni” (co-wife) of the Pandyan land in the southern quarter (dakshinasya disha), which is surrounded by the girdle of ocean studded with gems. This describes the Pandyan land as his original or first wife. The same idea is found in the inscription that the earth was the legally married wife of the Pandyan kings. This implies that the woman who married him would be like a second wife or sapatni!

This narration also gives an idea of the early Pandyan land as something surrounded by the ocean like a girdle.

The repetition of the same ideas in Kalaidasa’s work about 2000 years ago in his work testifies the well-rooted ideas about the Pandyans throughout the land of Bharat in those days.

What is missing in the narration of Sunanda is that of the Pandyan king who reached the Hiamlayas to engrave his emblem. Perhaps that was not considered as a feat for the people living in the northern reaches of the land; or the king who did that feat belonged to the period later to the Pandyan king who attended the Swayamvar of Indumati. But what cannot be lost sight of is the fact that there is consistency in the narratives on early Pandyans between what is recorded in the Pandyan genealogy and in Kalidasa’s work.

Tamil part of the Sinnamaur inscriptions.

The Tamil portion of the larger plates of Sinanmaur reveals more details on the Pandyan who went to the Hiamalyas.

There are many important information in this passage as follows:

# an early Pandyan having caused the quick return of the sea by throwing a javelin – which is  mentioned  in no less than 5 texts, including some Sangam texts.

# founding of the city of Madura and building a wall around it which as per texts was done to protect the city from inundation (thereby indicating the location of the first ever city of Madura in an area surrounded by water).

# an early Pandyan king gaining expertise in both Tamil and Sanskrit to become foremost among the scholars, thereby implying that Sanskrit existed in deep southern lands surrounded by ocean.
# a Pandyan king having taken part in a hill-battle (the English translation does not do justice to the words used, “Maharatia” and Malai-kaLam”. The reference to Malai-kaLam is about a battle on a mountain).

# a Pandyan king securing the release of Arjuna from a Vasu – a hitherto unknown and unexplored story involving Arjuna. 

# getting Mahabharata translated into Tamil – a text which exists till today.

# a later reference to Madhura where Sangam was established, perhaps indicating the founding of present day Madurai where the 3rd and the last Sangam Assembly was held.

The main inputs for ascertaining the name of the king who engraved emblem on the Himalayas  comes from three references:

(1)  A Pandyan king won the battle at Pāli / Pāzhi (பாழி  in Tamil) that gave him the title “Panchavan” (பஞ்சவன்).

(2) A Pandyan king drove his enemies to the forests so that they might be scorched up.

(3) A Pandyan king engraved the emblem of all the three dynasties on the Himalayas, thereby indicating his authority over all the lands that were once under the Cholas and Cheras.

These three references collectively point out to one, whose name is Nedumaran and praised with 23 different titles in a compilation called “PāNdikkovai

Source of Pandikkovai.

Uniqueness of Pandikkovai is that all the 326 verses of this compilation were originally quoted in a commentary for a text called ‘Iraiyanaar Kalaviyal’(5).  No one knows who the composer was nor does anyone know when they were composed. But the context of those verses which are in the nature of a love affair between a couple reveals a particular time period when king Nedumaran was the ruler. There is uniformity in the description of the events surrounding Nedumaran that it looks that these verses were part of an olden composition – done prior to the period when the commentary for Irayanar Kalaviyal was written, some 2000 years ago. These verses that appeared as quotations were later compiled as a “Kovai” (means arranged in a systematic way as how beads are arranged to form a garland) by taking the name of the king Pandya as “Pandi-k-kovai”

Both these two compositions, namely the Commentary for Iraiyanaar KaLaviyal and Pandikkovai carry immense importance as they contain rare historical elements that go back in time more than 10,000 years ago.

IRaiyanaar KaLaviyal.

Taking up Irayanaar Kalaviyal first, the commentator, the famous Sangam age poet Nakkeeran has narrated in his work, the duration of all the 3 Sangam periods in number of years, the names of kings in whose period the Sangam Eras began and ended, the number of poets who had inaugurated their compositions in each Era and names of important compositions of these Eras and also the names of some of the poets and names of kings who contributed to Sangam literature.

It is a pity that this text is not at all circulated among the people, mainly because they contain information that the Breaking India forces cannot stomach.

Their foremost criticism of this commentary is that it contains Sanskrit words, most of them nouns and proper nouns. But least they realise that even the very name of the progenitor idol of the Pandyans namely Meenaskhi, is a mix of Tamil- Sanskrit. Aakshi in Meenakshi is not a Tamil word.
Her husband, whom Pandyans and others reverentially called as Iraiyanaar (meaning God) was Soma Sundareswara which is also not a Tamil word. Over time this name became Chokkanatha, but again Natha in this name is not Tamil.

Even the king under whose president ship this commentary was inaugurated did not have a Tamil name. He was Ugra Peru Vazhuthi. Ugra in this name is not Tamil.

The jurist for this commentary was one “Urutthira Sanman”. This name is nothing but a Tamilised form of Rudra-Janman, a Sanskrit word. Uritthira Sanman was an incarnation of ‘Kumara swamy” (Muruga) as per this commentary. This name Kumaraswamy being a Sanskrit name, the critics doubt the antiquity of this commentary saying that this work was a later work with Sanskrit words intercepted into it.

There are other criticisms too undermining the antiquity of this work. One is that this work contains a passage that says the names of people to whom this work was taught. The original composer Nakkeeran taught to his son, Keeran KoRRan.

Keeran KoRRan taught it to DenUr KizhAr.

DenUr KizhAr taught it to Padiyan KoRRan.

Padiyan KoRRan taught it to Selvatthaasiriyar.

Selavatthaasiriyar taught it to Perunchuvanaar.

Perunchuvanaar taught it to MaNalooraasiriyar.

Like this the list goes on.

This gives an opinion that this commentary was not the original one but written by someone later at a later date.

But this criticism cannot undermine the information contained in the commentary.
The commentary originally written by Nakkeeran had been preserved from generation after generation or through many teachers (as most of the names contain the suffix ‘aasiriyar’ which means teacher) and that lineage had been added when they had passed on the commentary to others.

The antiquity of the Sangam Eras as found in this commentary is something that demolishes any theory of Aryan invasion or Dravidian displacement or exclusivity of Tamil society or developing a narration of Tamil roots in Elam or Srilanka. This makes the Tamil speaking Breaking India forces to deny the religious leanings of these texts (which is Hindu only) treating them as later additions or interpolations.

But the very context in which this commentary arose had a religious background. Even the formation of Sangam Era itself had a religious shade.

The progenitor of the concept of Tamil Sangam was Sundareswara, the husband of Meenakshi. He was regarded as Lord Shiva himself by the Pandyans.

Their son was Ugra Kumara who was mentioned in the inscriptions quoted above as one who stopped the surging ocean waves by throwing his javelin.

He was none other than Muruga who was later deified as Karthikeya. He was the 2nd king to have presided over the 1st Sangam Era. He was perhaps the first ever person who once lived on this earth, to have been elevated as a God.

Nekkeeran, the commentary writer had written that his commentary on the sutras written by none other than Iraiyanar Himself (Lord Shiva) was approved by Kumara Swamy, son of Lord Shiva.

The background of how Lord Shiva came into the picture here is this:

(The commentary describes this background).

There was a time when a severe drought struck the Pandyan land. People had left the land due to draught. Then it rained after 12 years of drought which brought normalcy to the land. With routine life having been restored, the king (unnamed) wanted to bring back education / literary works. So he sent out for all scholars to come back to his kingdom to re-establish the literary discourse. Tamil grammar has three classifications such as letters (ezhutthu), word (sol) and Meaning / substance (poruL). The olden grammar book of Tholkappiyam has these three as separate chapters. People had developed expertise in any one or all of these. The king wanted the scholars in these three fields to congregate in his kingdom.

This kind of description shows that a time existed in the Pandyan land when the literary atmosphere could not be sustained thanks to a severe drought. Experts got scattered out and with them preservation of basic works were also lost. Calling for scholars in the three parts of Grammar shows that even Tholkappiyam, the work of Grammar was lost at that time.

It so turned out that only those well versed in the grammar of Letters and Words reached his kingdom and there was none having the knowledge of Porul (substance). This gave rise to a situation of gloom around the country. People were praying to Lord Shiva, the progenitor of the tradition of Sangam, to get someone to establish this part of grammar. Lord Shiva, the guardian deity of the Pandyan race decided to get a solution by making a work by himself and got it hidden his seat in his temple. This is the work “KaLaviyal” – on the Agam / inner or emotional side of life of people.

The priest who had never cleaned the under-part of the seat of the Lord, happened to clean it one day and recovered this work. This was brought to the notice of the king and it was ascertained that the Lord Himself had written this work in 60 sutras.

Then came the next task of finding the meaning of these sutras. While no one could give a convincing commentary, the people and the king once again went back to the temple praying for a way out. It was heard later (through akaash vaaNi) that Urutthira Sanman, the Uppoorik kizhaan must be made the judge to pick out the best commentary. The commentary which makes him shed tears and raised goose bumps, must be accepted as the best commentary.

By this test, Nakkeeran’s commentary was adjudged as the best commentary for Irayanaar Kalaviyal – a text that was given by Shiva himself and approved by an incarnation of Kumaraswamy!
This kind of a background for this work is something that this section of Tamils cannot accept or propagate whereas the fact is all the texts Inaugurated in the Sangam Assembly had witnessed an element of supernatural or divine approval.

For example, the famous compilation called “Thiruvalluva Maalai” (a garland of verses in praise of Thiruvalluvar) begins with a verse from Akash VaaNi approving the same Urutthira Sanman to sit as a jurist for this compilation. Perhaps a poet who heard it recorded it as a verse.

This is followed by an approval by Goddess Saraswathi. The 2nd verse of Thiruvalluva Maalai is attributed to this Goddess. The 3rd verse is a verse attributed to none other than Irayanaar (Lord Shiva) who started the tradition of Sangam. Then comes the verse by the presiding Pandyan king Ugra Peru Vazhuthi!

As we see the same trend recorded in the famous compilation of Sangam age “Thiruvalluva Maalai” , any criticism of Nakkeeran’s commentary on Irayanaar Kalaviyal on the lines of religiosity, mythology or interpolation of Sanskrit words is unfounded.

The example of Thiruvalluva Maalai in this context shows that Thiruvalluvar lived at a time that far preceded the last Sangam assembly that took place 2000 years ago, as this compilation contains verses of praise on Thiruvalluvar by poets of Sangam Era of different times in the past.

The presence of Urutthira Sanman as the jurist in the Sangam Assembly presided by king Ugra Peru Vazhuthi for both the compositions – one a commentary (Irayanaar Kalaviyal Urai) and another a compilation of verses composed by different poets in the past on the greatness of Thirukkural and Thiruvalluva Maalai – shows the revival after a drought of 12 years had indeed happened during the rulership of Ugra Peru Vazhuthi only.

One of the notable causalities of the drought was perhaps the grammar work Tholkappiyam. With scholars and teachers having left to different places for survival, texts like Tholkappiyam were temporarily lost, it seems. It is also possible to assume that Thirukkural also was lost in parts or else why was the need to compile Thiruvalluva maalai?

The assembly under Ugra Peru vazhuthi had gone all out to gather the lost or forgotten verses of yore and made attempts to record them. Perhaps the commentaries for many of the Sangam, texts like Pura nanuru were made during this period of reclamation. In due course they had reclaimed Tholkappiyam also.

The occasional appearance of later day influence on some of the works might be due to the fact that a vast majority of them were restored during the last Assembly under Ugra Peru Vazhuthi.
The detailed reference to the duration et al of the three Sangam Eras in Nakkeeran’s commentary is perhaps the result of an earnest attempt to document the old history which might have found a place in other works that are now lost.

While we will be doing the exact dating of this king, Ugra Peruvazhuthi in another article, it’s time we concentrate on Pandikkovai, which speak about the King Ko- Nedumaran who won the Cheras and Cholas and many others and engraved their emblems along with his own on top of the Himalayas.


(1) Raghu Vamsa, sarga -6, verses 59 to 65 

(2) Valmiki Ramayana – 41- 19 “कवाटम् पाण्ड्यानाम्

(3) Mahabharata Udyoga parva – chapters 98 to 103

(4) PAndikkOvai verses with meaning in English and Tamil:-

(To be continued)

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

3. Tamil kings who went to the Himalayas.

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The historical information contained in Tamil Sangam texts and even the later day texts like Silappadhikaram and the devotional verses developed during Bhakthi movement synchronize well with each other. They give better leads to get the correct interpretation of the epigraphic findings and other sources.

For example, the presently available oldest inscription on Sri Parthasarathy temple near Marina beach in Triplicane, Chennai is dated at 8th century CE during the reign of a Pallava king, Danthi Varman. This gives the information that Pallavas had taken care of this temple. The history of the temple constructed on the basis of inscriptions point to a beginning with the Pallavas in the 8th century and patronised by other kingdoms later.

But a verse by one of the Azhwars, by name Thirumangai Azhwar says that this place was developed by Thennan (olden name for Olden Pandyans) and Thondai rulers. (1) There is no mention of the patronage by Pallava rulers by this Azhwar in any of the 10 verses on this temple.

Similarly in another verse, sung in praise of the Lord at Ashtabujakaram in Kancheepuram, he invokes the name of Thondai king as one who worshiped the deity here. (2). But there are other verses on other temples in which he specifically mentions Pallavan kings as having patronised or worshiped those deities. All these temples are in the same region of Kancheepuram or what was earlier known as Thondai naadu.

Chronologically Thondai rulers were earlier to Pallavas. A Thondai ruler by name Ilamthirayan was sung in one of the Sangam texts called Perum PaaNaRRUp padai. Sometime in the early centuries of the Common Era, the Thondai rule was usurped by the Pallavas in the Kancheepuram region.

Parthasarathy temple and Ashtabuja karam temple must have been patronised by Thondai rulers is what is understood from the Azhwar’s references. A discovery to prove this was unexpectedly made in the 1980s when workers were digging the ground within the Parthasarathy temple complex for renovation work. They recovered a silver statue of a king with folded hands with the name “Thondaimaan” inscribed on it. That this was buried under the temple complex shows that Pallavas who renovated or built the temple made sure that no traces of connection with the earlier Thondai rulers existed.

This discovery proves the authenticity of historical information that the Azhwar had given.
Before the Pallavas, the Thondai rulers had patronised Parthasarathy temple. Even before them, this temple was patronised by Thennan  Pandyan who built the city of Mylapore. The Azhawar gives this information on Mylapore in his verse. Thus we find the literary references to be authentic and therefore reliable.

Three instances will be discussed here to drive home the point that Tamil literature of yore had been helpful in putting together the missing pieces in archaeological, epigraphic or cross referenced inputs from other texts and other parts of India. The first instance deals with the expeditions made by the Tamil Kings to the Himalayas.

Reference to expedition to Himalayas.

The more recent history of a Tamil king having made an expedition to the Himalayas is that of Cheran King Seguttuvan. He wanted to build a temple for Kannagi who lived during his times. From Silappadhikaram we come to know that the images of Gods were made from the rocks cut out from Pothigai hills and bathed in river Cauvery before carving out the image. (3) Kannagi’s life and impact was extraordinary that it was decided that her image must be carved out from the rock taken from the Himalayan Mountain and bathed in the Ganges. It remains a big mystery from which part of the Himalayas the rock was procured.

Senguttuvan was not the only king to have gone to the Himalayas. The kings of all the three dynasties of Tamil kingdoms (Chera, Chola and Pandyas) had gone to the Himalayas in times before Senguttuvan. They did not make simple visits but had gone with huge armies accompanying them. Anyone who opposed them was vanquished and who accepted their supremacy was spared. They reached some part of the Himalayan Mountain and engraved the emblems of their dynasties as a kind of ‘Tilak” on the forehead of the Himalayas.

Two questions arise from this information. One is the location in the long range of the Himalayan Mountain where they engraved their emblems. Is it the same location or did they go to different locations? Whatever it could be, what was the rationale behind choosing a specific location? These questions further lead us to wonder what actually made them go the Himalayan Mountain all the way from their kingdoms.

The second question is why there is no reference to these Tamil kings and their expeditions in any north Indian records.

The search into Tamil texts to find answers for these questions does give us some leads which bring out many hidden events and ideas of past history of India. Before proceeding to answer these questions let us see a brief note on the kings who went to the Himalayas to engrave their emblems.

Tamil kings who engraved their emblems on the Himalayas.

Cheran King.

A Cheran king by name Nedum Cheralaadhan got a title “Imaya Varamban” meaning “Himalayas as the boundary” owing to his expedition to the Himalayas where he carved out the image of his emblem the “Bow” (4) 

The Sangam verse on this king compares him with Akrura of Mahabharata times. The verse describes Akrura as a courageous one in having gone as an emissary to the Kauravas. The verse says that this Cheran king was like Akrura in his courage and also in charity. (5)
This information on Akrura as an emissary is found in Srimad Bhagavatam when he was asked by Krishna and Balarama to go to Hastinapur to gather information on the mood of the Kauravas. (6)

Akrura with Krishna and Balarama, Gopi Nath Temple

One might tend to dismiss the comparison with Akrura as a poetic way of tribute to the king. But why the poet chose Akrura of all the people is a matter worthy of analysis. Even Krishna himself had gone as an emissary on behalf of the Pandavas. The poet could have as well compared the king with the more popular Krishna if glorification was his sole aim. That he didn’t do so gives the impression that there was some parallel between Akrura and the Cheran king in some way. The comparison with Akrura in particular gives a hint on a similar mission that this king might have undertaken in the past which is not known to us.

The other reference to Akrura as a charitable one in this Sangam poem is also true as we find a reference to him as a charitable one – ‘dAna patE’- in Bhagavatam. (7)

In Tamil encyclopedia by name “Choodamani Nigandu”, Akrura is mentioned as the first among the 2nd set of seven Philanthropists (idai ezhu vallal - இடை ஏழு வள்ளல்). The Sangam text making the comparison with Akrura for his philanthropy and also courage in entering the enemy’s den as an emissary is indicative of similar events and traits in this Cheran king. This also shows that the story of Akrura was popular in Tamil lands and people had chosen to view their king in the likeness of Akrura.

Another interesting connection with Akrura comes in the context when he was addressed by Kamsa as the Master of Charity (dAna pati). Kamsa conducted a Bow Sacrifice (Dhanur yaga) for which he wanted Akrura to invite Krishna and Balarama. {In that conversation Kamsa addressed Akrura as the Master of Charity.}(8)  

Krishna breaking the Bow at Bow- Sacrifice

Bow is the royal emblem of the Cheran dynasty. More than anybody else from any part of Bharat, the Cheran king was the right candidate to have conducted a Yaaga for Bow. But a sacrifice for bow was done by the Bhojas in Mathura who were basically known for expertise in wrestling.

It raises some questions like whether the Cherans were originally connected with Bow sacrifice.
Did Kamsa invite the Cheran king of that time for the Bow-sacrifice?

Did the Cheran kings get acquaintance with Akrura on that occasion of the Bow sacrifice?

Cheran kingdom had existed during the times of Kamsa as there is reference to Cheran army in Mahabharata as having taken part in Kurukshetra war.

There is also a verse in Sangam texts on a Cheran king who offered food for the armies of both sides in Kurukshetra war. In fact the Cheran king under discussion in these passages had come in the lineage of that king who served food in the Kurukshetra war!

Another information on this king with some history hidden behind, pertains to the description of a garland he was wearing. The same verse that compares him with Akrura says that the king was wearing a garland made from the gold of the crowns of 7 kings defeated by him. The names of the 7 kings are not known. Perhaps some future discovery of a coin or inscription might give their names. 

At that time, these sources written in Sangam Tamil would help us understand the connections!

All the above details on the Cheran king indicate one thing – that he was skilled and charitable as Akrura and invincible in war. He crossed many countries on the way to the Himalayas. He would have made an impact throughout his path either by fear or friendship. This expedition could have given scope for Tamil people (his army men) to mingle with the people of different regions. Some of his army men could have stayed back or brought people back to Cheran land by marriage or friendship. Thus the probability of mixing among people from Tamil lands with those in other parts of Bharat till the Himalayan ranges had existed during expeditions such as these.

Cholan King.

Among the Cholan kings, a king by name Karikaal Cholan went to the Himalayas to engrave the “tiger” emblem of his dynasty on the side of the mountain. This king was credited with having built the Grand Anicut across the river Cauvery in Trichy.

A Sangam verse on him sung on his death says how this king followed Vedic life by doing yajnas, one among them done on the Eagle shaped homa kunda.(9)

There exists a verse on this king in the inscriptions of the copper plates unearthed in Thiruvalangadu on how he got his name as Karikaala / Kalikaala. This is contrary to the popular belief that this king got the name Karikaal owing to a fire accident in which his legs were affected and turned black. But the reason given in the inscription is more appropriate.

The title as Kari- kaalan is understandable from the many victories he scored. He subdued both Pandyan and Cheran kings and many other kings of smaller regions. This king had no enemies on the west or south of his territory. (His country was on the east with his capital at Poompuhar in the eastern shore.) So he wanted to go to the north to check whether there was anyone in the north to challenge his supremacy. And his sojourn kept going endlessly in the north with no one to stop him until he was stopped by the Himalayas. This made him hit the mountain by chiselling out the emblem of his dynasty. This is poet’s description of the expedition to Himalayas (10)

But in reality, he did plan to go to the Himalayas to carve out his emblem as expression of his success. This is known from later day texts on him which say that he went to Kancheepuram to get an instrument called “Chendu” with which he could cut the rocks.

{The hidden history in this is that the first ever stone-cutters in Tamilnadu came from Kancheepuram or Thondai region. Stone inscriptions appeared in Tamilnadu thanks to these stone cutters. Their first contribution is the construction of Grand Anicut across Cauvery which they did in return for Karikaalan having spared them from his wrath. (Details later).  Pallavas were their patrons and it is possible that they took their skill to as far as Angkor Wat under the influence of Pallavas.}

Silappadhikaram gives information on the kings he met on his way and the tributes he received from them. This list consists of the king of Vajra country near river Son, king of Magadha and of Avanti kings. It is apparent that these kings either wanted to avoid war with Karikaala or were in good friendship with him. Somewhere in North India and in North Indian chronicles, Karikaalan might have left a trace of his trail. As of now, the Tamil texts stand as the only source to cross check and look for more info where it does not seem to exist.

Another important feature of Karikaalan’s expedition is the description of the architectural value of the gifts given by the three kings mentioned above. Their architecture was traced to none other than Mayan who built the Indraprastha for Pandavas. That once again opens up another window into the historicity of Mahabharata and Mayan whom Arjuna saved from forest fire in return for which Mayan built him the palace at Indraprastha. (11)

Pandyan King.

The name of the Pandiyan king who went to the Himalayas has not been mentioned openly in any of the texts. But many texts do speak of this expedition of the Pandyan king. This king engraved not only his own emblem (fish), but also chiselled out the emblems of Cholas and Cheras on both sides of the fish. A verse to this effect is found in Silappadhikaram. (12)

The same information is found in the copper plate inscriptions of the Pandyans discovered in a place called Sinanmanur. They say that a Pandyan king engraved all the three symbols on the Himalayas.

Though the name of this Pandyan king is not outwardly mentioned in any text, we are able to zero in on the name from Periyaazhwar’s verses on Vishnu.


In two places Periyazhwar speaks about a Pandyan king, one of which mentions the place in the Himalayan range where he engraved his emblem. 

It is
parupapdatthu kayal porittha pandiyar kula pathy”  (Periahwar thirumoazhi 5-4-7)
{பருப்பதத்துக் கயல் பொறித்த பாண்டியர் குலபதி}

This line indicates the place as “Paruppatham” in the Himalayan range.

The 2nd verse mentions the name of a king as KOn Nedumaaran.

“Konnavil koor vEl kOn nedumaran (Periahwar thirumoazhi 4-2-7 )
{கொன்னவில் கூர்வேல் கோன் நெடு மாறன் }

Scholars think that this king was the contemporary of Periyazhwar. But the cross reference from another Tamil text called “Paandi-k-kovai” establishes that this king belonged to the olden location, and it was he who engraved the Pandyan emblem on the Himalayas.

The verse in which the above line by Periyazhwar appears narrates a victory of the king which was attributed to none other than Lord Vishnu. The same narration is found in Pandi-k-kovai thereby establishing that Periyazhwar was indeed making a reference to this king of an olden time.

A puzzling feature in the 10 verses of Periyazhwar in which this appears is that he speaks about Thirumalirum Cholai (popularly known as Azhagar malai situated near Madurai) of the South!. 

Wherever the Pandyans had settled there they had established an abode for their patron couple, Meenakshi- Sundareswara and also for Vishnu who had helped them. When those abodes were lost in waters, they created them again in the places where they settled. That is how there exists the possibility of a Then- Thirumalirum Cholai (Thirumalirum Cholai of the South) which the Azhwar praises in 10 verses. The olden Pandyan Kon Nedumaran was connected with THAT southern Thirumalirum Cholai. 

Today’s Meenakshi temple and Azhagar temple of Madurai are the recent versions of the sunken temples in what was known as Kumari-k-kadal (Kumari ocean) which was the original name for Indian Ocean.

Further details on Paruppadam in the Himalayas, its present name and KOn Nedumaram will be discussed in the next article.

(To be continued)


 1. Periya Thirumozhi – 2-3 -10
தென்னன் தொண்டையர்கோன் செய்த நன் மயிலை திருவல்லிக்கேணி 

2. Periya Thirumozhi – 2-8- 10
மன்னவன் தொண்டையர் கோன் வணங்கும்  

3. Silappadhikaram:- Chapter 25 – lines 116 to 125

4. Padhitrup patthu:- 2nd group of 10 poems.

5. Padhitrup patthu:- Verse 14.
போர் தலை மிகுந்த வீரைம் பதின்மரோடு 
துப்புத் துறை போக்கிய துணிவுடை ஆண்மை 
அக்குரன்  அனைய கை வண்மையைய 

6. Srimad Bhagavatam – 10-49

7. Srimad Bhagavatam – 10- 36-28

8. Srimad Bhagavatam – 10-36

9. Purananuru - 224

10. Silappadhikaram:- Chapter 5- lines 93 to 98

11.  Silappadhikaram:- Chapter 5 – lines 94 to 110.

12.  Silappadhikaram:- Chapter 17 – lines 1& 2
கயலெழுதிய இமய நெற்றியின் 
அயலெழுதிய புலியும் வில்லும்