Saturday, June 3, 2023

Sengol’s a tradition that goes back to Mahabharata and Harappan... (My article in Firstpost)

Sengol’s a tradition that goes back to Mahabharata and before: How Modi connects new India with ancient past

Prime Minister Narendra Modi carries the 'Sengol' in a procession before installing it in the Lok Sabha chamber at the inauguration of the new Parliament building, in New Delhi, on 28 May, 2023. PTI

From terming the events leading to the handing over of the Sengol to Jawaharlal Nehru as ‘baseless fiction’ to the denial of its importance in the transfer of power, the Sengol continues to dominate the narrative to whitewash the adverse publicity it got as the ‘walking stick’ of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. Additionally, there is the worry about it being capable of invoking Tamil pride with the elections just a year away. The anxiety of the Congress is evident from the assertion of the TNCC president, KS Alagiri: “Nehru did not prostrate before the Sengol like Modi did. Sengol was crafted by jewellers and given by Adheenakarthars, and so it is not an appropriate symbol for showing reverence to Tamil Nadu or Tamil culture, as the BJP claims to be doing.”

Since a fact-check of the events on 14 August, 1947 is being done by all and sundry, let us focus on the lesser-known facts on certain issues doing rounds. First of all, Sengol was not the prerogative of the Cholas alone. It was also held by the other two Tamil dynasties, namely Chera and Pandya. To be more precise, it was held by all kings across India. This is not to mean that it signified monarchy, rather it was a representation of the Rule of Law or Righteousness. It was known as ‘Dharma Danda’ and expressed so at several places in the Mahabharata.

The earliest talk about it comes from the Ikshvaku king Mandhatri who wanted to know the origin of chastisement. The rules of chastisement known as ‘Danda-Niti’ were associated with the display of a weapon – an upright weapon to ensure justice for all. Those rules were described by Bhishma from an episode on Pururavas, stating that Kshatriyas were created for ruling the earth and for wielding ‘Danda’ – the Rod of chastisement.

The same was repeated by Vyasa to Yudhishthira when he was about to take up the rule of the country. Vyasa listed out twelve things for kshatriyas, of which wielding ‘the rod of punishment’ (Danda-dharanam) was the foremost. “Strength must always reside in a Kshatriya, and upon strength depends chastisement,” said Vyasa. In the same context, Arjuna said, “The man armed with the rod of chastisement governs all subjects and protects them. The rod of chastisement is awake when all else is sleep. For this, the wise have characterised the rod of chastisement to be Righteousness (Dharma) itself.”

Arjuna further elaborated on the contexts where the rod of chastisement was to be used – such as for the protection of wealth, to desist people from sinful behaviour and to discourage actions that bring censure from society.

Thus, basically, the Danda is a staff or a rod or a mace or some stick that is held upright to signify the delivery of what is just and right to everyone without any discrimination. The Kshatriya was chosen due to the strength he possesses to rule and enforce the rule of law. One may ask why not others, but only a Kshatriya. This was asked by Yudhishthira to Bhishma who gave the answer in the affirmative. It was perfectly agreeable if someone from the other orders take up the role and restore the rule of law for the protection of the oppressed, said Bhishma (Mbh: 12-79). It is here we find the importance of wielding the Danda for upholding the law of the land. This makes the very idea of Sengol relevant for our times also and not as a relic of a monarchy.

It is a symbol of authority in a democracy as it was in a monarchy. It is part of the national identity much like the national flag. How many of you know that there is a look-alike of the Sengol (Danda) in the Harappan seals? One can see it in the front of the unicorn in the numerous Harappan seals. Iravatham Mahadevan has done a detailed study of this image in his paper, ‘The cult object on Unicorn seals: A sacred Filter,’ presented in a seminar in Tokyo in 1983. In this paper, he published some rare images of the Indus seals, of which one particular image resembled a paraphrenia of a king or a leader with what appeared to be a Sengol.

In the figure, Plate 1 shows the most commonly seen unicorn seal with an object in front of the animal which is the focus of his discussion. Plates 2,4 and 5 show the same object from different seals. Mahadevan tends to believe that this object is the ‘Soma cup’ or a filter to collect the soma juice. However, he reports the view of another researcher by the name of UP Thaplyal that it represented a standard or Dhvaja or flag post because there was a stem with something on top of it.

Plate 3 is unique in the display of what appears to be a procession of three men carrying a Paaliketana (row of flags), a totem of an animal and a sceptre. This rare image does indicate the presence of a power centre in the Harappan much like any monarchy.

The sceptre seen in this Plate is no different from what is seen in Plate 4 where a man is seen holding it. The shape is similar to the so-called.... continue reading here

Sengol: A pan-India symbol of righteousness (My article in

My article published in

The Tamil word Sengol has gained national attention following the decision of the Centre to establish it ceremoniously in the newly built Parliament. Lots of information is going around on its symbolism in the transfer of power to Independent India, the meaning of the word, and its origin from a mutt in Tamilnadu. Without touching upon information already circulated on the social media, this article attempts to look into the issues not known to the general public.

First of all, it is not right to attribute the concept of Sengol to the Chola empire alone. Sengol was the symbol of the other two Tamil dynasties too, namely Chera and Pandya. To be more accurate, it had pan-Indian presence as a symbol associated with kings. This does not mean that it signified monarchy; rather it was a representation of the Rule of Law or Righteousness. The text of the Mahabharata is replete with references to the ‘Rod of chastisement’ – known as ‘Danda’ – that was held high by the rulers.

The earliest talk about it was between Vasuhoma and the Ikshvaku king, Mandhatri, who wanted to know the origin of chastisement. A murkier scene of chaos in which there was robbery and the strong ones tormenting the weak was described to show that it resulted in Vishnu creating His own self as chastisement with a Shula (a weapon) in his hand. From that form, having Dharma for its legs, Saraswati, the goddess of speech, created Danda-niti (Science of Chastisement) to restore order and for protection. This is symbolic of saying that rules of do-s and don’t-s for good conduct were laid down and also the punishment for non-adherence of those rules. A weapon (shula) was assigned to signify the same.

Chastisement is again described by the Mahabharata in the words of Bhishma, originally told by Matariswan to Pururavas. In his dialogue with Puraravas, Matariswan clearly stated that Kshatriyas were created for ruling the earth and for wielding ‘Danda’ - the Rod of chastisement.

This purpose was emphasised in too many ways by Vyasa to Yudhishthira when he was hesitant to take up rulership after the war was over.  Vyasa listed out 12 things for kshatriyas namely, yajna, learning, exertion, ambition, wielding ‘the rod of punishment,’ fierceness, protection of subjects, knowledge of the Vedas, practise of all kinds of penances, goodness of conduct, acquisition of wealth, and gifts to deserving persons. “Amongst these, O son of Kunti, wielding the rod of chastisement (Danda-dharanam) has been said to be the foremost,” said he. “Strength must always reside in a Kshatriya, and upon strength depends chastisement.”

In the same scenario, we find Draupadi speaking about the need for Danda – the Rod of chastisement and Arjuna elaborating on that with three objectives for Danda, namely...continue reading here

Presented my books to Sri Annamalai, the President of TNBJP

 Glad to share the information that I presented four of my books to Sri. Annamalai, the President of Tamilnadu BJP. The occasion was the Interaction session of the TNBJP with Social Media Influencers. On an invitation to attend the meeting, I was happy to be there on the evening of May 29, 2023.

At the end of the meeting I got the opportunity to meet him on the stage to present my books, Mahabharata 3136 BCE, Ramanuja Itihasam (Tamil), When was the First Vedic Homa done? and ஆண்டாள் தமிழும் அறியாத வைரமுத்துவும். 

I gave a brief explanation of the books as I presented. He seemed surprised when I said that I was the only one to have established the traditional date of the Mahabharata war. He said he would read the books and asked for my number for contact. Though short, it was a fruitful and memorable meeting. I am confident that a voracious reader like him would be able to appreciate the importance of the books I have given and do the needful to convey the importance of them in suitable forums.

My video talk on ராமானுஜ இதிஹாசம்

I was invited by the Alumni Association of Vaishnavism Department of the University of Madras to talk about my book Ramanuja Itihasa through a zoom conference. 

The presentation done on 27th May, 2023 was in Tamil though the slides were in English. The non-Tamil people will be able to follow the talk by watching the slides. The main focus was on the construction of the bund at Tonnur Kere by Ramanuja which is the first ever arch dam in India. The talk also focused on how the bund was destroyed by Tipu Sultan who also destroyed the Narasimha temple at Thondanur to house the coffin of the ghazi who died during the raid of Thondanur - Melukote in the 11th century. I also spoke about the earliest Islamic incursion to South India by that Ghazi and his accomplice who were the associates of Salar Syed Masud. 

I also gave a brief account of the Muslim girl (Bibi Nachiyar) who wanted to possess the Vigraha of the deity of Melukote and the legends associated with her. 

After touching upon the history of the Chola kings of the Ramanuja period including the one who persecuted Ramanuja and earned the name Krimikantha Chola, I gave details of the episode of how Lord Govindaraja of Thiru Chithrakutam (Chidambaram) was thrown into the sea by Kulotthunga II. At the end of the talk, there was a question- answer session in which I have given additional details about the Chola period.

The video recording of the talk can be viewed here

Monday, May 22, 2023

Free download of my book in Tamil on "When was the First Vedic Homa done?"

Proponents of the theory of 'Aryan migration' (also called Aryan invasion) suggest that homa was brought to India by Aryan Europeans. Since we do not know that the beginning of homa is mentioned in our scriptures, we have been unable to respond to it. To overcome that shortcoming, this booklet, first published in English is now brought to the readers in Tamil 

To reach all the people who know Tamil, I have given this Tamil version for free download.

Please read and share with your friends.

Key points of the book:

* Details of the period of Tamil Sangam

* History of Tamil and Sanskrit appearing and growing together

* The place where the first Vedic Homa was done, its period, and how it spread further

* The astronomy features prevalent at that time

* Period of Manu and the place where he lived

* Ramayana period

* History of  how Skanda started Vedic Homa

* Traces of Skanda's clan spread all over Europe

Download here முதல் வேத ஹோமம் எப்பொழுது யாரால் செய்யப்பட்டது?

Saturday, April 29, 2023

'ராமானுஜ இதிஹாஸம்' புத்தகம் தமிழில் வெளியீடு

 Ramanuja Itihasa என்னும் புத்தகம் 2022 ஆம் வருடம், ஸ்ரீமத் ராமானுஜரது திருநக்ஷத்திரத்தன்று வெளியிடப்பட்டது. அதைப் பற்றி அப்பொழுது ஒரு அறிமுகக் கட்டுரையும் வெளியிட்டிருந்தோம். அதே புத்தகத்தைத் தமிழில் கொண்டுவரவேண்டும் என்ற அவா இப்பொழுது நிறைவேறியிருக்கிறது.

இதற்கு மிகவும் உறுதுணையாக இருந்து, தமிழில் மொழிபெயர்த்த, வாஸுதேவன் தம்பதியருக்கு எனது உளமார்ந்த நன்றியைத் தெரிவித்துக் கொள்கிறேன்.  கலை, இலக்கிய, தமிழ் ஆர்வலரான திருமதி குமுதா வாஸுதேவன் அவர்கள், ஆங்கிலப் பதிப்பின் பெரும்பான்மையான பகுதிகளை மொழிபெயர்த்துக் கொடுத்தார். அவருடன் அவர் கணவரும், ஆடல்மா என்னும் புனைப் பெயரில் கவிதை, கட்டுரைகள் எழுதுபவரும், பட்டிமன்றப் பேச்சாளருமான  திரு வாஸுதேவன் அவர்கள் மொழிபெயர்ப்பில் உதவியாக இருந்தார். வாஸுதேவன் தம்பதியரது அயராத உழைப்பினால், மிகக் குறுகிய காலக் கட்டத்திலேயே இந்தப் புத்தகம் தமிழில் மொழிபெயர்ப்பு செய்யப்பட்டது.

புத்தகத்துக்கு மெருகூட்டும் வண்ணம் அருமையான அட்டைப்படம் வரைந்து கொடுத்த திரு. ஹயவதன் முரளி அவர்களுக்கும் எனது நன்றி உரித்தாகுக.

இந்தத் தமிழ்ப் பதிப்பில், பல கல்வெட்டுச் சான்றுகள், இலக்கிய, ஆராய்ச்சிக் கட்டுரைச் சான்றுகள் பயன்படுத்தப்பட்டாலும், கதை போல படிப்பவருக்கு எளிதாக இருக்க வேண்டி, அந்தச் சான்றுகளது மூலம் கொடுக்கப்படவில்லை. நூற்றுக்கும் மேற்பட்ட அந்த மூலச் சான்றுகளை அறிய வேண்டுவோர், இந்தப் புத்தகத்தின் ஆங்கிலப் பதிப்பில் அவற்றைப் படிக்கலாம்.

ஆங்கிலப் பதிப்பில் இல்லாத பகுதிகளாக இணைப்புகளை இதில் படிக்கலாம். ஜாதிச் சண்டைகளுக்கு மூலக் காரணமான வலங்கை, இடங்கை மோதல்கள், எழுநூறுக்கும் மேற்பட்ட மண்டயம் ஐயங்கார்கள் திப்பு ஸுல்தானால் ஒரு தீபாவளியன்று கொல்லப்பட்டது, ஹிந்து தெய்வங்கள் மீது முகலாய மன்னர்களது மகள்கள் ஈர்க்கப்பட்டது என்னும் இவை ஆங்கிலப் பதிப்பில் இல்லாதவை. இந்த தமிழ்ப் பதிப்பில் இணைப்புகளாகக் கொடுக்கப்பட்டுள்ளன.

ராமானுஜ இதிஹாஸம் என்னும் இந்த உண்மை வரலாற்றை அனைவருக்கும் கொண்டு சேர்க்கும் பணியில் வாசகர்களாகிய நீங்களும் என்னும் இணையுமாறு கேட்டுக் கொள்கிறேன்.

இந்தப் புத்தகத்தின் kindle edition: ( (For India) (For Australia) (For UK) 

இந்தப் புத்தகம் அச்சு வடிவில் பெற என்னும் முகவரிக்கு எழுதவும். விலை: ரூ. 380/- மட்டுமே. தபால் செலவு தனி. 

A short series of my video talk on historical aspects of Ponniyin Selvan (@MediayaanNews)

 A short series of my video talk on the historical aspects of Ponniyin Selvan novel appeared in Mediyaan News Channel.

Part 1கற்பனை கலந்த உண்மை கதையா? அல்லது உண்மை கலந்த கற்பனை கதையா?


Part 2: 
Did Madhurantaka desire the throne? If so, why did he offer kingship to Arulmozhivarman? How writer Kalki could have conceived the character Sendhan Amudan from Thenneri inscription.

Part 3:

* Sundara chola was not a weakling. * Gandaraditya Chola likely victim of Veera Pandya who boasted off as having beheaded a chola. * Circumstances leading to appointment of Madhurantaka as the king.

Part 4:

* Why did Rajendra chola write that Madhurantaka desired kingship, while in reality Madhurantaka didn't? * Why Rajaraja didn't offer kingship to Rajendra immediately? * Poonguzhali a true character?

Part 5:

*About Nandhini * Overlapping years of kings by citing events from Ramanujacharya 's life * Anbil plates on Aniruddha Brahmaraya to show how the rights granted by kings sowed seeds of caste conflicts

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

My interview about Ponniyin Selvan to Pesu Tamizha Pesu Channel (Part 2)

 Part 2 of my talk on Ponniyin Selvan novel in Pesu Tamizha Pesu Channel 

* Was the temple of "Singaachi Amman" in Tanjore, that Kalki mentioned in the novel, dedicated to Mandakini, a character in the novel?

* Did Rajaraja build Brahadeeswara temple, inspired by the Buddha Viharas of Lanka?

* Why Manu Neeti Chola was not at all recognised by the Chola kings in their inscriptions?

* The overlapping years of rulership of the Chola kings.

* The Chola king beheaded by Veera Pandya.

* Who killed Aditya Karikala?

* Was there a long gap of 17 years between Aditya's death and the action taken on the property of the supposed killers mentioned in the Udayarkudi inscription? 

* Were the Brahmins mentioned in Udayarkudi inscription, the killers of Aditya Karikala?

* Deciphering the identity of the killers from the first military expedition of Rajaraja on taking up rulership. 

* Rajaraja's attack on Kandalur Shalai described.

* Comparison between Parthivesekharapuram Shalai with Kandalur Shaai to establish that Kandalur Shalai destroyed by Rajaraja was a Veda Paatashalai only. 

* How Kandalur Shalai could have been used by the killers. 

My interview about Ponniyin Selvan to Pesu Tamizha Pesu Channel (Part 1)

This is the 1st part of my interview to Pesu Tamizha Pesu Channel on issues around Kalki's novel Ponniyin Selvan.

I have answered the following questions:

* Does the story revolve around historical facts or are there imaginary elements in the story?

* Were Muttharayars related to Cholas?

* How the Chola dynasty got revived after Vijayalaya.

* Was it the same dynasty of the olden Cholas?

* Why the three Tamil dynasties were at war with each other for most times?

* Why were the Pandyas inimical towards the Cholas?

* Did Cholas follow Manu Dharma? 

* Did they avoid punishing Brahmins due to Manu Dharma?

* Description of the Udayarkudi inscription and discussion on what it conveys. 

Friday, April 14, 2023

My talk on Shobhakrit New Year to Mediyaan Channel

 Happy Shobhakrit Varusha pirappu Vaazhtthukkal through

Spoken about * Tamil New Year as a Hindu festival * Why Sanskrit names for 60 years. * Why sun's entry into Mesha regarded as New year * Any rationale in claiming Thai as New year?

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Rājarāja I taking revenge on the assassins of Aditya Karikāla

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

The 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.

As 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

The 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).

In 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 Sthala”.

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.

In 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 record.

Some of the  derivations from the record:

1.     The 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.

2.     From 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?

3.     The 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.

4.     The name of another brother “Irumudi Chola Brahmādhirājanindicates 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.

The 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 the records.

Coming 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.

However, 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?

Two 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.

Till 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.

More 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 Veda Pāthashāla.

This is strikingly closer to Kandalūr-shāla, ransacked by Rājarāja I on taking over kingship!

Assassins stationed at Kandalūr Shālai?

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 refers to!

By 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.

Even 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]

The 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.

It 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 same name.

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 three kingdoms”.

This 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 kingdoms.

This 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.

These revelations from Pārthivasekharapuram inscription offers better solution to our questions.

Revadāsa Kramavitthan, 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.

Suppose 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?

Due 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.

The 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 identity. Rajaraja-s first and fore-most attack on Kandalūr Shālai reveals that it was the location of the assassins.

Aditya’s 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 Chengam 

What was the enmity with Malai Āḷargaḷ (people of hill country / Chera country) of Kandalūr Shālai?

Why were they beheaded?

Why was this attack on Kandalūr Shālai boasted off by Rājarāja in all his Praśasti-s?

Co-conspirators of the assassination

Looking 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.

He attacked the Vizhinjam Port, known as Vilinda in the inscription,

He set out for Lanka, to attack the Sinhala kings.

Those verses from Tiruvālangādu grant are reproduced here: [iii]

(V. 78.) (King) Amarabhujanga 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).

(V. 79.) 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.

(V. 80.) 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).

All 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.

The 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.

The 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.

Once 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.

His 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.

The 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.

This 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.

The 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.

Was it a repeat of karma of concerned players?

Who knows?


Post script:

The 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”?

This 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 3rd Part.

“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.

The plates say :

‘Aditya 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.’

The 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:

‘Having 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.’

We 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.

If 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?


Born 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 scene.

It 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!



The 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 ........................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".



[i] Travancore Archaeological Series, Vol I, p. 30

[iv] KA Nilakanta sastri, “Colas”, pages 157-159