Part 1: Who killed Aditya Karikāla? : Digging out the true history.
Part 5 : The Chola king beheaded by Vīra Pāndya and how it was connected with Madhurāntaka
biggest mystery of who killed Aditya Karikāla
and why they killed was attempted by Kalki in his novel Ponniyin Selvan. He used
the names of those mentioned in the Udayārkudi record of Rājaraja’s 2nd
year and treated them as the security guard (in Tamil Ābatthudavigaḷ / ஆபத்துதவிகள்) of Vīra Pāndya to
avenge the beheading of Vīra Pāndya by Aditya II. The novel describes their
movements in secrecy due to the nature of the task, which was to kill Aditya.
It is here that we find a major deviation from what we gather from the inscription
that mentions their names.
per the inscriptions, their complicity in the assassination of the king Aditya
was “Droha” – which means harm. They who “harmed by killing the king”
(கரிகால் சோழனைக் கொன்று துரோகிகளான). This seems to be different
from a statement “they who killed Karikāl Chola”. This doubt arises as we read
the inscription further.
The assassins mentioned in Udayārkudi inscription
record begins by stating that they owned land and were leading what appeared to
be a joint family of brothers. We know that huge family system was a norm in
those days. Four brothers were mentioned by name, such as, Soman….(சோமன்) (part of the name
is missing), his brother Ravidāsan (ரவிதாசன்) who was also known as Panjavan Brahmādhirājan (பஞ்சவன் பிரம்மாதிராஜன்), his brother Parameśvaran (பரமேஸ்வரன்) also known as Irumudi-ch-Chola
Brahmādhirājan (இருமுடிச் சோழ பிரம்மாதிராஜன்) and another
brother mentioned as “Malayanūrān” (மலையனூரான்).
addition to them they had other brothers, younger to them, their children and
others belonging to the families of the spouses of these children. The siblings
of their parents also find mention in the inscription. The belongings of all
these people were confiscated and sold at the asking rate of the day to two persons
and the amount was to be handed over to the temple -“to be given to the
name Malayanūrān appears again in the latter part of the inscription where it is
mentioned as “Malayanūrāna Pāppana Cheri Revadaāsa Kramavitthan” (மலையனூரான பாப்பனச்சேரி ரேவதாச கிரமவித்தன்). This Malayanūrān
is the same as the one mentioned earlier, says the record. This person was one
among the four brothers mentioned.
this latter part of the record, his name appears along with the mention of his
son and his mother whose name is given as Periya Nangaichchāṇi (பெரிய நங்கைச்சாணி). The landed property
and the house belonging to all these three were sold and the proceeds were to
be used for paying the daily wages (in paddy) to the carrier of water to the
temple and daily food for fifteen Brahmins that must include five Śiva-Yogi-s.
Totally, sixteen Brahmins were to be taken care of by that amount, says the
Some of the derivations from
use of the money raised by selling the properties of those who turned ‘Drohi-s’
seems to convey something.
While the money raised by selling the property of the
entire family of brothers and their relatives was to be used for any or
unspecified need of the temple, the same is not told for the three who were singled
out from the other members of this family. The amount so raised was to be specifically
used for the sake of sixteen Brahmins of whom five were ascetics. This kind is
segregation in the use of the money from the property of the people of this family
seemed to convey that the three had a role different from what the rest of the
family had. Feeding Brahmins is recommended as a way of propitiation in the
astrological texts and for increasing ‘Puṇya’ in normal times. This implies
that the three had a specific role that they should propitiate by using all
their property (particularly the living quarters) for the sake of Brahmins.
the name ending as Kramavitthan, it is made known that he was trained in
reciting Vedas, indicating that he and the others mentioned in the record were
Brahmins by birth. Pāppana Cheri in his name seems to refer to Pārppana Cheri
which appears to be a Tamil equivalent of Brahmin Agrahāra. Locally, he must
have been known as Malayanūrān, because that is how he is addressed twice in
the record. Malayanūrān means - the one belonging to the Malai region – a reference
to Chera lands! Why was he specifically mentioned as Malayanūrān?
names of two of his brothers reveal that they were government (royal) servants.
One of them had a prefix “Panjavan” which is the royal name of the Pāndyan-s.
Panjavan appears in the names of three queens of this period of Chola-s – of Uttama
Chola, Rājarāja I and Rājendra I. It is
obvious that these Chola kings had their queens from the Pāndyan Royal family
which was possible after defeating the Pāndyan-s. We had already seen in Part
4, that Madhurāntaka Uttama Chola was known as the ‘Destroyer of Madurai’. In that military
expedition, he must have brought a Pāndya princess and married her. The retinue
of the queens used to contain Vedic Brahmins to conduct their religious
activities. There is scope to say that one of the brothers, Panjavan
Brahmādhirājan, must have come along with her or got the name Panjavan for
having worked for the Panjavan queen of Uttama Chola who was a contemporary of
the murdered Aditya Karikāla.
name of another brother “Irumudi Chola Brahmādhirājan”
indicates the priestly job of the person working under a king who held two
crowns – of the Chola-s and the Pāndyan-s. His original name was Parameśvaran,
but Irumudi Chola Brahmādhirājan seems to indicate the rank and status he
enjoyed with the king – who could have been any among the three of that time –
Sundara Chola, Aditya II and Uttama Chola.
difference in the way of use of the proceeds of the properties of Malayanūrān and the other two cannot be
ignored if we look at the justice system of those periods. Not all offences
carried the same kind of punishment. Even lighting perpetual lamps or setting
up oil-mill to supply oil to the temple lamps are found as mode of punishment in
to the core issue of who among them killed Aditya and why the entire family was
condemned, the foremost input is that these brothers were highly unlikely to be
the security guards (Ābatthudavigaḷ) of Vīra Pāndya. Their location in Brahmin Agrahara
and ownership of landed properties show their continued stay in that place at least
by one or two generations. It is very unlikely that they (or one among them)
planned to settle there after the death of Vīra Pāndya in CE 967 and carried
out the dastardly act in CE 977 within 10 years.
there remains scope to believe that they were used by those who were bent on
taking revenge on Aditya!
Were Brahmins used by the assassins without their knowledge?
of the brothers had ample chance to be at close proximity to the king. If
someone wanted to use them without their knowledge, they could have befriended
them in the intervening 10-year period, gained their confidence and could have accompanied
them in their visits to the palace or meetings with the king.
now, no record is available on the place of death of Aditya and how the assassination
was carried out. Author Kalki picks out the palace of Kadambur. There is
a place called Kadambur in Thootthukkudi district dotted with temples showing
Chola art. This place was away from Udayārkudi by
over 600 kilometres. Since Aditya was the supreme king at the time of his death,
he must have stayed in Tanjore or on a visit to palaces or temples where the brothers
of the family also made their visits accompanied with the assassins.
than the two brothers in regal service, the Vedic reciter, Kramavitthan seemed
to have played into the hands of the assassins. By his name, Malayanūrān, mentioned
twice in the record, we understand that
he was known by that name to the people around him. And he being a Kramavitthan
shows that he could have had his Vedic training in Malayanūr – the hilly region – in the Chera land in a
is strikingly closer to Kandalūr-shāla, ransacked
by Rājarāja I on taking over kingship!
Assassins stationed at Kandalūr Shālai?
kalam arutthu aruḷi’ (காந்தளூர் சாலை கலமறுத்தருளி) is the foremost feat boasted off
by Rājarāja in his Praśasti. He has three types of Praśasti and all of them mention
Kandalūr shālai. No one knows what this
the word Shāla, it seems to convey some place of learning but ‘kalam’ refers to
ships! In support of this, there is an inscription of Rājādhirāja,
the son of Rājendra I of having destroyed the ships
at Kandalūr shālai.
This victory is part of the Praśasti of
Rājādhirāja indicating the continued assault on this place by the Chola-s even
after Rājarāja I made the assault for the first time.
though there is this evidence of Kandalūr shālai being
a sea port where ships were harboured, an inscription engraved hundred years
before this attack states that a Veda Pāthashāla was established in the year CE
866, by the king Karunanthadakkan at Pārthivasekharapuram in
Kanyakumari district. The crucial information given in this edict was that this Veda Pāthashāla was modelled
after Kandalūr Shālai.[i]
date is given in Kali days by which we are able to establish the date precisely
at CE 866. Ninety-five pupils, known as Śaṭṭar-s were to be trained in the same way as how
it was being done in Kandalūr shālai. The details of the inscription shows that
Kandalūr shālai was indeed a Veda Pāthashāla and offered higher education in
Vedic studies. It is specifically mentioned that no weapon should be possessed. Punishment was given if someone was found to have any weapon. This goes to prove that no military or war training was given in this and Kandalūr shālai.
is logical to conclude that from the name of the Pāthashāla which must have been very popular for quite some
time, the sea-port
closer to it came to be known by the
topics taught at Pārthivasekharapuram shālai will give a clarity on what was taught
at Kandalūr shālai. The inscription states that
three Veda-s and different Vedānga-s were taught. The Krama Pātha which makes one a Kramavittha was also
taught. The student seeking admission in this school must get himself
certified by five Śaṭṭar-s on three issues – of which one was “possessing the learning necessary for the affairs of the
shows that the Vedic school at Kandalūr Shālai was basically meant for training
people having previous experience in serving any of the three kingdoms
(Chera, Chola or Pāndya). Education at Kandalūr Shālai further enhanced their
knowledge required for the royal services. By insisting that they must possess
knowledge of the affairs of the three kingdoms, we learn that there were differences
in the religio-Vedic activities followed by the three kingdoms and that there
was easy mobility for the passed-out students within any of the three
further leads to an inference that the Vedic scholar of one kingdom could have
been employed by the other kingdom, upon conquering the former’s kingdom.
revelations from Pārthivasekharapuram inscription offers better solution to our
better known as Malayanūrān must have had his higher education in Krama Pātha
at Kandalūr shālai. He could have even worked for the Chera country by
which he came to be known as Malayanūrān (the person of Hill country). He must
have had contact with other Śaṭṭar-s for his
initial entry into the institute. Once he had come out of the school, he, by
having become eligible to certify other students for admission, must have been
in constant touch with the school at Kandalūr Shālai
even though he had his residence in the Agrahāra of the Chola country in the eastern section.
Kandalūr shālai had become a place of refuge for the secret guards of the enemy
kingdom, say, the Pandyan-s or even the Chera-s, just to gain access to the
Chola king through a former Śaṭṭar, can anyone
say it is impossible?
to Revadāsa Kramavitthan’s regular contact with Kandalūr Shālai, the assassin or
a few of them could have easily befriended him and even made visits to his
home. Two brothers of Revadāsa in royal service was a great advantage to the spy
to know about the movement of the king and even get access to the king. All the
while Revadāsa, his family and others around them must have been thinking that Śaṭṭar-s
of the esteemed Kandalūr Shālai were visiting them.
admission of a student with training in the affairs of three kingdoms which
made those Brahmin students appear neutral and dependable was shattered for the
first time, when enemies of the Chola king misused the Institute to hide their
Rajaraja-s first and fore-most attack on Kandalūr Shālai
reveals that it was the location of the assassins.
first act was a revenge on Vīra Pāndya who killed his uncle, Gandrarāditya. He cut
off his head in retaliation of Vīra Pāndyan cutting off the head of Gandrarāditya.
So, we can expect the same kind of end
for Aditya too. The assassins must have beheaded Aditya. In retaliation,
we can guess that Rājarāja too beheaded the assassins
of Aditya. Adding substance to this line of thought, an inscription discovered
in 2009, in Chengam village, near Tiruvannāmalai gives the praśasti of Rājarāja
I on “beheading Malai Āḷargaḷ”
of Kandalūr Shālai.[ii]
The inscription at
was the enmity with Malai Āḷargaḷ (people of hill country / Chera country) of Kandalūr
were they beheaded?
was this attack on Kandalūr Shālai boasted off by Rājarāja in all his Praśasti-s?
Co-conspirators of the assassination
at his initial war deeds given in Tiruvālangādu plates, three were his targets.
Amarabhujanga, the Pāndyan king was seized, so also other small
kings who worked secretly along with him.
attacked the Vizhinjam Port, known as Vilinda
in the inscription,
set out for Lanka, to attack the Sinhala kings.
verses from Tiruvālangādu grant are reproduced here: [iii]
being seized, (other) dissolute
kings, whose rule was secretly
mischievous being much afraid of him at heart, wished to hide
(themselves) somewhere (just like serpents with sliding crooked bodies).
The commandant of (this) ornament of the Solar race, the hereditary home of
(the goddess of) victory, captured
(the town of) Vilinda whose moat was the sea, whose extensive ramparts
were glorious and high (and) which was impregnable to the enemy warriors.
The lord of the Raghavas (i.e., Rama) constructing a bridge across the water
of the ocean with (the assistance of) able monkeys, killed with great
difficulty the king of Lanka (i.e., Ravana) with sharp-edged arrows ; (but)
this terrible General of that (king Arunmolivarman) crossed the ocean by ships and burnt the Lord of Lanka
(Ceylon). Hence Rama is (surely)
surpassed by this (Chola General).
these three, Pāndya, Chera (Vilinda) and Sinhala were in alliance against the
Chola king since long. Anytime they got a chance to recoup, they did their best
to attack the Chola country. One such incident was the assassination of Aditya Karikāla
who took away the head of Vīra Pāndya.
assassins must have been from the Chera country, going by the reference found
in Chengam inscription. Amarabhujanga Pāndya and his friends from small domains
must have hatched the conspiracy. They used Kandalūr Shālai to gain the
contact of Revadāsa Kramavitthan. They must have visited him or even stayed
in his house for some time. They waited for proper time to get closer to the
king along with Kramavitthan and beheaded him. All through this Kramavitthan could
not have known that he was being used by
them against his own king.
killers must have been immediately caught and killed by the king’s body guards.
Kramavitthan and his entire family must have been spared of their life – for not
actually planning harm to the king, but must have been exiled and their properties
confiscated. By the difference in the way the properties of Kramavitthan, his
son and his mother were used, it seems that the assassins were in touch with them
and stayed with them. For the kind of disgrace they brought to the Brahmin
community, the proceeds from the sale of the property were specifically used
for Brahmins. Another reason was to propitiate for the harm they brought to the
king and the country unknowingly.
having ascertained the origin of the assassins from Kramavitthan, Rājaraja had
immediately embarked on a military expedition to Kandalūr Shālai and beheaded
the conspirators taking refuge in the Pāthashāla by hiding their original
identity. It is also possible that the entire Pāthashāla was destroyed by Rājarāja.
The Pāthashāla perhaps ceased to exist after that.
next attack was on Vizhinjam port, which must have been closer to Kandalūr Shālai.
A couple of instances reported in later reigns of attack on Kandalūr Shālai were
about attacks on ships on the port. A former port must have existed in the name
of Kandalūr Shālai due to proximity to that popular Institute.
Pāndyan and Sinhala king were also taken revenge of, strengthening our
proposition that all these were hand in glove in removing Aditya for which they
used Kandalūr Veda Pāthashāla and an innocent Brahmin family.
attack on the Chola king is the first of its kind in the known history of Tamil
lands. A king could lose his life in a war, but losing his life to the sword of
the assassin during peace time, in one’s own country, facilitated by unsuspecting
Brahmins who always prayed for the longevity and prosperity of the king was
known until then.
only parallel that I can think of was from recent times, in the assassination of
Rajiv Gandhi with almost the same modus operandi of assassins and helpers
coming from the same countries / regions as in Aditya’s time.
it a repeat of karma of concerned players?
most damning part of the Chola history of this period was the uncharitable
remark on Madhurāntaka found in the Tiruvalangadu plates. Why was it written
that Madhurāntaka, Arulmozhi”varman’s “paternal uncle coveted his
(i.e., Arunmolivarmana’ss) dominions”?
part was discussed by every researcher who went through this inscription. Of
them, Nilakanta Sastri’s
was highly critical. Let me quote his words from his book ‘Colas’ which
was the question I had taken up as the research question for this series in the
murder of Aditya II remained unavenged throughout the sixteen years in which
Uttama Cola ruled. Sundara Cola himself having either died of a broken
heart soon after the murder or after having found the natural course of justice
obstructed by a powerful conspiracy. It seems impossible under the
circumstances to acquit Uttama Cola of a part in the conspiracy that
resulted in the foul murder of the heir apparent. Uttama coveted the throne
and was not satisfied with the subordinate role assigned to princes of the
blood in the administration of the kingdom ; as representing a senior branch of
the royal family, he perhaps convinced himself that the throne was his by
right, and that his cousin and his children were usurpers. He formed a party of his own, and brought about the murder of
Aditya II, and having done so, he forced the hands of Sundara Cola to
make him heir apparent, and as there was no help for it, Sundara had to
acquiesce in what he could not avert. The Tiruvalangadu plates seem to gloss
over the story on purpose, and make statements which, though enigmatic
in themselves, are fairly suggestive of the true course of events, when read
together with the datum furnished by the Udaiyargudi inscription.
plates say :
disappeared owing to his desire to see heaven. 73 Though his subjects, with a
view to dispel the blinding darkness caused by the powerful Kali (Sin) ,
entreated Arumolivarma, he, versed in the dharma of the Ksattra, did not desire
the kingdom for himself even inwardly as long as his paternal uncle coveted his
own (i.e., Arumolivarma’s) country.’
sun of Aditya had set; the darkness of sin prevailed; the people wanted Arumoli
to dispel it; but Uttama’s
cupidity triumphed, because
of Arumoli’s restraint. Arumoli was not a coward; nor was he lacking in
political ability or legal right. Anxious to avoid a civil war, he accepted a
compromise, and agreed to wait for his turn until after Uttama’s desire to be
king had found satisfaction: it was apparently part of the compromise that
Uttama was to be succeeded not by his children, but by Arumoli. and in the
words, again, of the Tiruvalangadu plates:
noticed by the marks (on his body) that Arumoli was the very Visnu, protector
of the three worlds, descended (on earth), Madhurantaka installed him in the
position of yuvaraja, and (himself) bore the burden of (ruling) the earth.’
find accordingly Madhurantakan Gandaradittan, who must have been a son of
Madhurantaka Uttama Cola, occupying high office under Rajaraja when he came to
power and loyally assisting him in the administration of the country.
this reading of the story of Uttama Cola’s accession is correct, Uttama Cola
furnishes an instance, by no means unique in history, of selfish and perverse offspring
born of parents distinguished for piety and right-mindedness; and his
rash and bloody self-seeking stands out in striking contrast to the true
nobility and statesmanship of the future Rajaraja.”[iv]
Did Kalki agree with this notion of Sastri?
to pious parents – Gandrarāditya and Sembian
Mahādevi - it didn’t fit well to characterise Madhurāntaka as greedy after
power to the extent of plotting the assassination of his cousin. Another strange
feature was his not seeking the throne for his progeny. He was quick to make
Arulmozhi the next heir and almost handed over the administration to him while
confining himself to pious activities.
This is also being told in the same inscriptions.
As a novelist who puts himself in the
shoes of the characters, Kalki could not tow the line of Nilakanta Sastri,
though as a leading historian of his time his influence was overpowering.
Kalki couldn’t think bad of a person born
to the great Gandrarāditya couple and therefore created Sendhan Amudhan character as their original son. The greedy Madhurāntaka
was made into an imposter – someone who was thrust into that place by events that
Kalki found aggregable to that time and he was ultimately made to quit the
was Kalki’s ultimate triumph in psycho-analysis of the characters involved. Had
he been with us today, Madhurāntaka would have become his hero – as Sembian Selvan!
transcript of Udayārkudi edict is reproduced in Tamil as it forms the main
evidence for who killed Aditya. It was not the Brahmin. The Brahmins were worldly
unwise in those days too. They were used by vested interests. The crumbling of
credibility of institutions related to Brahmins and Vedas started with the
misuse of them by forces not connected with them. And Rājarāja I began his kingship
with a vengeful military expedition.
"ஸ்வஸ்தி ஸ்ரீ கோ ராஜகேசரிவர்மர்க்கு யாண்டு 2 ஆவது வடகரை பிரமதேயம் ஸ்ரீ வீரநாராயண சதுர்வேதி மங்கலத்து பெருங்குறி பெருமக்களுக்கு சக்கரவர்த்தி ஸ்ரீமுகம் பாண்டியனைத் தலைகொண்ட கரிகால சோழனைக் கொன்று துரோகிகளான சோமன்...............................................
தம்பி ரவிதாசனான பஞ்சவன் பிரம்மாதிராஜனும் இவன்றம்பி பரமேஸ்வரன் ஆன இருமுடிச் சோழ பிரம்மாதிராஜனும் இவர்கள் உடப்பிறந்த மலையனூரானும் இவர்கள் தம்பிமாரும் இவர்கள் மக்களிடும் இவர் பிரமாணிமார் பெற்றாளும் இ........................ராமத்தம் பேரப்பன் மாரிடும் இவர்கள் மக்களிடம் இவர்களுக்குப் பிள்ளை குடுத்த மாமன்மாரிடும் தாயோடுடப் பிறந்த மாமன் மாமன்மாரிடும் இவர்கள் உடபிறந்த பெண்களை வேட்டாரினவும் இவர்கள் மக்களை வேட்டாரினவும் ஆக இவ்வனைவர் (முடமை)யும் நம் ஆணைக்குரியவாறு கொட்டயூர் பிரம்ம ஸ்ரீராஜனும் புள்ளமங்கலத்து சந்திரசேகர பட்டனையும் பெறத்தந்தோம். தாங்களும் இவர்கள் கண்காணியோடும் இவர்கள் சொன்னவாறு நம் ஆணைக்குரியவாறு குடியோடு குடிபெறும் விலைக்கு விற்றுத்தலத்திடுக இவை குருகாடிக்கிழான் எழுத்து என்று இப்பரிசுவரஇ ஸ்ரீமுகத்தின் மேற்பட்ட மலையனூரான் ஆன பாப்பனச்சேரி ரேவதாச கிரமவித்தனும் இவன் மகனும் இவன்றாய் பெரிய நங்கைச்சாணியும் இம்மூவரிதும் ஆன நிலம் ஸ்ரீ வீரநாராயன சதுர்வேதி மங்கலத்து மிப்பிடாகை தேவமங்கலம் ஆன பட்டில நிலம் ஸ்ரீவீரநாராயண சதுர்வேதி மங்கலத்து சபையார் பக்கல் வெண்ணையூர் நாட்டு வெண்ணையூருடையான் நக்கன் அரவணையானான பல்லவ முத்தரைய மகன் பரதனான வியாழகஜமல்லப் பல்லவரையனேன் இந்நிலம் பழம்படி இரண்டே முக்காலே ஒருமாவும் அகமனை ஆறும் ஆக இந்நிலமும் இம்மனையும் நூற்றொருபத்திருகழஞ்சு பொன் குடுத்து விலைகொண் டிவ்வூர் திருவனந்தீஸ்வரத்து பட்டாரகர் கோயிலிலே இவ்வாட்டை மேஷநாயற்று நாயற்றுக்கிழமை பெற்ற புரட்டாசி ஞான்று சந்திராதித்தவர் ஆழ்வார் கோயில் முன்பு மூவாயிரத்தரு நூற்றுவனான நிலையம்பலத்து தண்ணீர் அட்டும் பிராமணன் ஒருவனுக்கு நிசதம் படி நாழி நெல்லும் ஆட்டைவட்டம் ஒரு காகம் நிசதம் பதினைவர் பிராமணர் உண்பதற்கு ஆக பதினாறு இவறுள் ஐவர் சிவயோகிகள் உண்ணவும் வைத்தேன்".
Travancore Archaeological Series, Vol I, p. 30
KA Nilakanta sastri, “Colas”, pages 157-159