Saturday, May 25, 2019

Has Tamilnadu historically remained outside rest of India?

In the aftermath of Election 2019 that found Tamilnadu standing outside the Modi wave, a message doing rounds in social media says that Tamilnadu had historically been outside India. That message in crisp terms is illustrated as below.

The first figure is from pre-common era while the rest are from the last 800 years. The history of last 800 years is fairly known to the general public as one ridden with foreign invasions both political and religious. By comparing the current (2019) political absence of the BJP in Tamilnadu (and even Kerala) with the other maps, an image is attempted to be created that the Tamils have always resisted invasions, and much in the same way rejected the Hindu(tva) invasion by rejecting the BJP.

The mistake in this illustration is that the creator of this illustration had cleverly avoided the Indian map between 1700 and 1947 when Tamilnadu was one with the rest of India by coming under a single rule. With the rise of Tipu Sultan in 1700s all of Kerala and part of Tamilnadu bore the onslaught of jihadi religion and lost their own colour and character. This was followed by British invasion that came along with another wave of displacement of native Hindu religion with its own religion. Any map of this 250 year period would show Tamilnadu in unison with rest of India. So why this big hullabaloo now that Tamilnadu cannot be ‘captured’ by others?

An analysis of the election results show that these two States that once formed the land of the three Tamil kingdoms are continuing to be in the grip of colonial and Mughal hangover, in a brainwashed state of following their political ideology (Dravidian) and (imported) religious identity, while the rest of India had voted through their brains! No one can deny the fact that the only people who prayed en masse for the defeat of Modi were the Christians and Muslims of Tamilnadu. Only these people have resurrected the fallen princes, Rahul Gandhi in Kerala and Stalin in Tamilnadu. They were the descendants of a people who were very much Hindu but converted by word or sword. These descendants are trying to perpetuate the agenda of the invaders even after they were defeated or sent out.

Until 1699, the Hindu rulers of these two States had kept the Mughals under bay. Though there were periodic incursions, they were repelled and status quo restored. But once they fell to Tipu and then the British, there was complete surrender to the foreigners and proliferation of foreign religions. With the tacit support of the Constitution of India and overt support of secular parties Independent India is seeing phenomenal growth of foreign religion in our soil to the extent that their combined number seems to have reached a threshold level in Tamilnadu as to reverse the original character of Tamil lands. The so-called resistance to the ‘outsider’ BJP is by the same people, enslaved to foreign religions. Is this something to gloat about? Is this the same as how ancient Tamil kingdoms remained free from invasions?

If aversion to Modi is because he is an outsider, then substantial part of Tamil population are outsiders as their ancestors were also from Modi’s land. The Tamil Sangam texts testify the migration of 18 kings coming in the lineage of Krishna of Dwaraka, 18 groups of people called Velirs and Aruvalars to Tamil lands including Kerala of those times. The 18 groups include skilled workers in different fields and agriculturists. Nalliyakkodan praised in Sangam text ‘Siru Panarru padai’ was from one such group called ‘Oviyar’ Perhaps they were skilled in painting. Adhyaman Neduman Anji whose name is mentioned in Ashokan edict was also an outsider coming from Gangetic plain but ruled the Tamil lands. All the seven philanthropists known as “Kadai ezhu vallal” in Tamil sangam age were from this group that came from Dwaraka.

Perhaps they were from northern plains with whom the northern dynasties had kept up good relations, the Mauryan extent was limited to regions outside these Velir kings who occupied the boundaries of Tamil kings. The first map in the above illustration shows Ashokan Empire though the time period mentioned in the map refers to the previous regime, i.e., Ashoka’s father. The filial connection with the kings perhaps stopped the northerners to invade Tamil lands at that time. One must remember there was no event of war with northern kings before the Common Era. This was possible due to family and friendly connections between Tamil and northern kings. The reference to Moriyar crushing the people of Mogur in Sangam texts is interpreted by some as an invasion by Mauryas. But it is not true and to know why, click this link.

Around the beginning of Common Era the Chera king Senguttuvan faced no resistance on his way to the Ganges and Himalayas but was aided by the Satakarnis. The Chera forces had joined with Satakarni forces in trouncing Yavanas somewhere near North West Himalaya, perhaps the Berber region called as Paruppadam in Tamil. (Amarnath is likely to be Paruppadam). This is an evidence of fraternity and friendship between Tamil kings and north Indian kings. To the information of those Tamils who detest Modi and Hinduism, this Chera king had gone to the river Ganga along with his widowed mother to offer ancestral worship to his father. This king had even done Soma yaaga in his kingdom, says Silappadhikaram. All these had happened 2000 years ago. So Tamil lands were Hindu and Vedic – call whatever, at the time of ancient Tamil dynasties.

Go farther back in time, and you get to know that Krishna of Dwaraka had married a girl of Tamil lands. The marriage with the Tamil girl Nappinnai finds mention in many texts including a Sangam poem by Nalkoor Velviyar and in Jeevaka Chinthamani composed by a Jain monk. So there is scope to deduce that movement of people between Tamil lands and Dwaraka or even Mathura had happened at Krishna’s time itself.

Krishna’s time is when Mahabharata war happened. Puranauru tells about a Chera king as having fed the armies of both Pandavas and Kauravas. A Pandyan king had fought on the side of Pandavas but got killed by Asvattama. A complete chapter of Mahabharata describes the valiant fight done by this Pandyan king. So is there any truth in the claim that Tamils had a separate identity and history away from rest of India?

Talking on Aswattama, how many Tamils and slaves of foreign religion know that north Tamilnadu was under the grip of descendants on Aswattama in recent history? How many of them know that Pallavas who ruled the very place that is now the capital city of Tamilnadu were the descendants of Aswattama, the son of Dronacharya, a Brahmin whom the illustrator of the above image would like to identify as an Aryan?

Pallavas encouraged stone works. It was only in the Pallava period we see sudden spurt in stone architecture in Tamilnadu. The workers must have come from outside and could not have been native to Tamil lands. By now their lineages must have merged well throughout Tamilnadu. Did the ancient native Tamils resist their merger? No scope to say so. Such merger could be possible only if the migrants were also following the same culture and religion. Compare this with the behaviour of the present day Tamils enslaved to migrant religions. They don’t merge with mainstream Hindus and India but claim exclusivity from the native religion and the country. So who is outsider to this land?

All the incidents cited above propose an unstated message that merger and migrations were possible within and outside Tamil lands only because of a common culture that springs from a common religion. There may have been resistance to specific rulers at times but none were against the common culture that is HINDU culture. How many Tamil chauvinists are ready to accept this?
Go back further in time to chola beginnings. They first chola was the son of none other than Bharata, son of Dushyanta and Shakuntala. The chola ancestry given in inscriptions such as the one found in Tiruvalangadu traces its roots to Ikshvaku dynasty of Rama! Virarajendra, the son of Rajendra Chola I goes a step further and claims in his Kanyakumari inscription that Rama was his ancestor! How many in Tamilnadu know this information?

The Epic heroes Rama and Krishna worshiped with reverence by Hindus were not aliens to Tamil lands. One can be called as son of the soil while the other is the son-in-law of the soil. Both have visited the Tamil lands during their life time. Both have left their presence through their descendants. Both were part of Tamil history.

Unanimity in historical, cultural and religious spheres promotes friendship and fraternity among different regions of India including Tamil lands. But many regions were at war with each other in the past. One could say commerce was the driving force behind invasions. People wanted to get hold of more riches available at other places. This was the basis of war between Pandavas and Kauravas which developed into pan-Indian proportions in course of time as each side had control over one each of the two important transit centres for commerce of that time. The Kauravas had control over Gandhara which gave access to West Asia and Central Europe. The Pandavas were in control of Dwaraka / ports in Gujarat coast that offered access to sea routes to Middle East. The victor would have control over both. This led to most kingdoms of that time to side with one of the warring groups.

Of all the kings, the Chera king preferred to stay away but offered to supply food to both the armies, for he was not dependant on any of those centres due to geographic advantage of having his own ports on the west coast. Only the warring brothers were in need of his assistance for using his ports and he in turn benefited by friendly relations with them. The same advantage was not there for the Pandyan king and therefore had no option other than taking sides. Thus one can make out the dynamics of mutual benefit among the different regions of India. The ancient Tamil kings were great statesmen in keeping cordiality with others around them for the benefit of prosperity of their kingdoms.     

When cultures were the same, friendship and bonding is developed and commerce is promoted to the benefit of all the players involved. Sangam literature is replete with instances of Tamil people travelling to far off places such as Pataliputra and beyond on the eastern sector and crossing the desert to go to West Asia. Unless peace and cordiality was maintained in the regions that one has to cross, such expeditions that have annually happened from Tamil lands could not have taken place.
Presence of common culture enabled peaceful movement of people for commerce. There is mention of collection of toll for the traders in a Sangam text which reveal that highways and highway patrol were maintained by respective kings of the regions. The entire eastern sector known as Coromandal (corrupted from Cholamandala) ran from the southern tip of India to Patna. It was only around 1000 CE we come across wars in this regions by the Cholas to gain control or to keep the kingdoms on the way under their check.

In the first millennium CE many kingdoms came under the influence of Jains and Buddhists. When religion changes the culture also changes. With the advent of Jainism and Buddhism in Tamilnadu newer strains appeared, but ultimately the Tamil dynasties remained steadfast on native Vedic religion only.

The Tamil chauvinists are raking up newer issues such as claiming that ancient Tamils were not Hindus but worshiped Shiva, Vishnu etc. These deities in addition to four others are part of native religion of entire India and named as Shanmata later. They were accepted in Tamil lands and worshiped by ancient Tamils. Just a cursory look at Mullaik kali verses of Kalithogai would reveal this truth. The Shanmata is for entire India. If anyone is averse to the word Hindu, let them call the culture as Shanmata culture, but never should they think that Tamil culture was different from the rest. Never could they claim that the foreign religions were part of Tamil land. And never can they claim that Tamil’s past was different from the rest of India.

Why Hinduism had no name of its own – Kanchi Maha Swami explains.

The Religion without a Name
(HinduDharma: The Vedic Religion: Introductory)

We speak of the "Hindu religion", but the religion denoted by the term did not in fact have such a name originally. According to some, the word "Hindu" means "love"; according to some others a Hindu is one who disapproves of himsa or violence. This may be an ingenious way of explaining the word.

In none of our ancient sastras does the term "Hindu religion" occur. The name "Hindu" was given to us by foreigners. People from the West came to our land across the Sindhu river which they called "Indus" or "Hind" and the land adjacent to it by the name "India". The religion of this land came to be called "Hindu". The name of a neighbouring country is sometimes applied to the land adjacent to it. Let me tell you an interesting story in this connection.

In the North people readily give alms to anybody calling himself a bairagi. The bairagis have a grievance against Southerners because they do not follow the same practice. "iIlai po po kahe Telungi" is one of their ditties. "Telugus do not say "po, po" but "vellu" for "go, go". "Po" is a Tamil word. Then how would you explain the line quoted above? During their journey to the South, the bairagis had first to pass through the Telugu country (Andhra); so they thought that the land further south also belonged to the Telugus.

There is the same logic behind the Telugus themselves referring to Tamil Nadu as "Arava Nadu" from the fact that a small area south of Andhra Pradesh is called "Arva". Similarly, foreigners who came to the land of the Sindhu called all Bharata beyond also by the same name.

However it be, "Hinduism" was not the name of our religion in the distant past. Nor was it known as "Vaidika Mata" (Vedic religion or as "sanatana dharma" ( the ancient or timeless religion). Our basic texts do not refer to our faith by any name. When I thought about it I felt that there was something deficient about our religion.

One day, many years ago, someone came and said to me: "Ramu is here. " At once I asked somewhat absent-mindedly: "Which Ramu? " Immediately came the reply : " Are there many Ramus? " Only then did it occur to me that my question, "Which Ramu? ", had sprung from my memory of the past. There were four people in my place bearing the name of "Ramu". So, to tell them apart, we called them "Dark Ramu". When there is only one Ramu around there is no need to give him a distinguishing label.

It dawned on me at once why our religion had no name. When there are a number of religions they have to be identified by different names. But when there is only one, where is the problem of identifying it?

All religions barring our own were established by single individuals. "Buddhism" means the religion founded by Gautama Buddha. Jainism was founded by the Jina called Mahavira. So has Christianity its origin in Jesus Christ. Our religion predating all these had spread all over the world. Since there was no other religion to speak about then it was not necessary to give it a name. When I recognised this fact I felt at once that there was no need to be ashamed of the fact that our religion had no name in the past. On the contrary, I felt proud about it.

If ours is primeval religion, the question arises as to who established it. All inquiries into this question have failed to yield an answer. Was it Vyasa, who composed the Brahmasutra, the founder of our religion? Or was it Krsna Paramatman who gave us the Bhagavad-Gita? But both Vyasa and Krsna state that the Vedas existed before them. If that be the case, are we to point to the rsis, the seers who gave us the Vedic mantras, as the founders of our religion? But they themselves declare: " We did not create the Vedas. " When we chant a mantra we touch our head with our hand mentioning the name of one seer or another. But the sages themselves say: "It is true that the mantras became manifest to the world through us. That is why we are mentioned as the 'mantra rsis'. But the mantras were not composed by us but revealed to us. When we sat meditating with our minds under control, the mantras were perceived by us in space. Indeed we saw them (hence the term mantra-drastas). We did not compose them. "[the seers are not "mantra-kartas". ]

All sounds originate in space. From them arose creation. According to science, the cosmos was produced from the vibrations in space. By virtue of their austerities the sages had the gift of seeing the mantras in space, the mantras that liberate men from this creation. The Vedas are apauruseya (not the work of any human author) and are the very breath of the Paramatman in his form as space. The sages saw them and made a gift of them to the world.

If we know this truth, we have reason to be proud of the fact that we do not know who founded our religion. In fact we must feel happy that we have the great good fortune to be heirs to a religion that is eternal, a religion containing the Vedas which are the very breath of the Paramatman.

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Monday, May 13, 2019

India’s first ever arch dam across two hills was constructed by Sri Ramanujacharya.

Tonnur Lake in the Mandya district of Karnataka is becoming a picnic spot nowadays for many in the surrounding areas, but what people had not known is that this Lake was a product of the efforts of Sri Ramanujacharya, the doyen of Srivaishnavism and proponent of Visishtadvaita philosophy. Many had heard about him and even recognise him for his compassion for all cutting across social barriers. But his contribution to economic prosperity of the region remains unknown. A search into historical records show that he was instrumental in building a dam – an arch dam, across two hills to form what is now called Tonnur Lake.  

During his long stay in Tonnur also known as Tondanur, Ramanujacharya had observed the wasting away of the waters of two mountain streams through a gap between two hillocks. He had thought of an ingenious plan of bridging this gap to store the waters of the streams and make an alternative path to streamline the passage of water in a controlled way for the benefit of the community. He engaged the locals to construct the bund between the two hills that stands at 80 feet height and 500 feet lengthwise.

The Google map shows this bund as a small curve between two long hill ranges. (Picture below)

Ramanuja’s role in the formation of this lake and the bund, now known as Tonnur Kere is absolutely unknown even to Vaishnavite scholars and historians. The proof of his role comes from an unexpected source, the Sthala Purana of Shravana Belagola written by Jains who were bitterly opposed to Ramanuja for getting many Jains change over to Vaishnavism.[i] The Sthala Purana says that the Hoysala king Bitti Deva converted into the Vaishnava religion and under the influence of Ramanujacharya built a tank at Tonnuru (Tondanur) and named it Tirumala Sagara. Surprisingly no inscription of Vishnuvardhana or any Hoysala kings attributes this feat to Vishnuvardhana or any other king. In the absence of any reference to any king or a royal official in the making this engineering feat, the presence of this man-made structure stands as an evidence for a localised and independent effort to build this bund.

The only other evidence of Ramanuja’s role in forming this bund is found in the travelogue of Francis Buchanan published in 1807 soon after Tipu Sultan was defeated by the British.[ii]  On passing through the regions once occupied by Tipu, Buchanan had collected the information on the geography of the land and also the local legends connected with them. His records show that Tonnur Lake was known as “Yadava Nuddi” at that time and was remembered as one created by Ramanujacharya.

His account runs as follows: Read here