Paravai Nangai Isuvaram, Paravaipuram/Panaiyavaram

Rajendra I, recognising his relationship with Anukkiyar Paravai Nangaiyar through his Thiruvarur Inscriptions, and the Thiruvarur Inscriptions of Rajadhiraja I, son of Rajendra I, endorsing the recognition and honour his Father bestowed upon Paravai, were discussed in the previous posts.

This post concentrates on the inscriptions in the Temple of Paravai Nangai Isuvaram, situated in the medieval city of Paravaipuram (presently known as Panaiyavaram), an affirmation of the glory of the Lady and certainly a culmination of the Eminence, Paravai Nangai commanded. The inscriptions recorded from the temple, reveal the distinguished stature of Paravai, beyond the reigns of Rajendra I and son Rajadhiraja I.

Paravai Nangai Isuvaram, Paravaipuram

There are 16 inscriptions documented from the Temple at Panaiyavaram – stone inscriptions numbered- 317-329 of 1917 (Annual Report on Epigraphy mentions as Netroddharakasvamin temple), and inscripitons numbered 752, 753 and 754 of 1903 (South Indian Inscriptions Volume 8, that mentions as Netroddharakesvara Temple).

Among the above mentioned inscriptions, those numbered 319, 320, 321 and 323 provide evidence of this Temple linked to Rajendra Chola I and Paravai Nangaiyar, and hence are reviewed here, in the context of the same.

Inscription 319 of 1917 (ARE)

Documented in the 6th regnal year of Rajendra II (1054-1063), second son of Rajendra I and younger brother of Rajadhiraja I, the inscription mentions the name of the Temple as ‘Paravai Isuvaramudaiya Mahadevar Koyil’. It further specifies, that the Koyil was situated in the nagaram/city of Paravaipuram.

Rajendra Cholavalanaattu Panaiyurnaattu Poraiyurnaattu nagaram paravaipurathu paravai isuvaramudaiya mahadevar koyilil

it says-

‘The temple of Paravai Isuvaram Udaiya Mahadevar, located in the city of Paravaipuram in Poraiyurnadu- a subdivision of Panaiyurnadu; Panaiyurnadu was a district in Rajendracholavalanadu.’

Nagaram, denotes a Merchant Settlement. Hence, the temple of Paravai Isuvaramudaiya Mahadevar, must have been built amidst a Residential Colony of Merchants, an area of economically strong citizens.

A person named, Unnatha Chola Pandiya, donated grains for the purpose of lighting lamps in the temple.

the inscription reads-

vembatrur udaiyaan mannadi koothanaana

unnatha chola pandiya peraiyan

‘Unnatha Chola Pandiya’, with the conferred title ‘Peraiyan’, belonged to the village of Vembatrur.

Inscription 320 of 1917 (ARE)

This belongs to the 8th regnal year of Rajendra II. The facts that the inscription provide, seem to be manifold.

A fragment of the inscription, mentions ‘Paravai Purathu Paravai Isuvaramudaiyar’, the name of the city and the Principal Deity of the temple.

The word ‘Thirumugam’ is mentioned. Thirumugam means a Government Order, mostly issued by the King.

The interesting government order, talks of provisions for the worship and lighting lamps, to the images of Rajendracholadeva and Paravai Nangaiyar.

282 goats were provided, for the purpose of lighting –

Nandha Vilakku – 3 in number; and Sandhi Vilakku – 1 in number .

It further clarifies-

a) 90 goats for lighting of 1 nandha vilakku – hence, 270 goats donated for 3 nandha vilakku.

b) 12 goats for lighting of 1 sandhi village

which sums upto a total of 282 goats.

Below are the impressive lines of the inscription, mentioning the King and his Beloved –

rajendrachola devarum paravai nangaiyarum

ezhundharuli nindru thiruvaaraadhanai kolvathaal

Certainly, a fascinating way to epitomize the Duo.

The name of the shepherd, who would maintain the goats, ‘Paravai Nangai Kon’, also deserves a mention.

There is another fragment of the same inscription, which reads –

‘Paravai Nangai vaitha saalai iranginamaiyaal…’

Saala/Salai, as found in Tamil inscriptions of the Chola Era, has several connotations. It could be a specific area for providing food – to thavasis, shiva yogis, brahmins, apoorvis/vedic brahmins and sometimes to students who learnt Sanskrit. It could also be an institution, equivalent to a college. Probably, that is why, some researchers classify ‘Salai’ – predominantly as a Vedic School alone.

Salai, could also be a Military School- as in ‘Kanthalur Salai’. Respected History Researchers like Pandarathar have identified Kanthalur Salai as a Naval Base. The word, ‘Salai’, as given here, might denote a place to provide food to the above, or an institution, probably donated or initiated by Paravai Nangai.

The complexity of ‘Salai’, as documented in Tamil Inscriptions, needs separate analysis.

The phrase ‘Paravai Nangai vaitha saalai iranginamaiyaal’, could mean a neglected Salai, initiated by Paravai Nangai, revived during the times of Rajendra II.

Inscription 321 of 1917 (ARE)

This fragment of the inscription, doesn’t possess any name, such as the King or the temple. On palaeographic grounds, it belongs to the Cholas. Yet, it gives details on the worship and offerings carried out, which seem to suggest an elaborate worship schedule, implemented in the temple.

Large area of land and huge amounts of grain provided to the Temple, translate to the wealth and the importance the shrine must have commanded.

Land and Grains were provided for –

Vazhipaadu, Padaiyal, Sivadharma padippu, Thiruppathiyam– Worship, Offerings of Food, Reading of Sivadharma, and Recitation of Thiruppathiyam hymns.

Panchakavyam – five sacred things – (milk, curd, clarified butter, cowdung and urine) from the cow, used for sacred bath of the deities

Thiruvizha – Festival

Parisattam – Clothes for the deities

Sandhi Vilakku – Lamps – 32 in number

Namanigai – Sacred bath

Aaraadhikkum Andhanan – Brahmin who performs rituals

Parisaragam – Assistant

Thirumanjanam Poorippaan – One who performs the sacred bath

Musical Instruments of the Tamils, documented in ancient Sangam and Post-Sangam Literature (300 BCE – 600 ACE) and the medieval Bhakti Literature, till the date of Chekkizhar’s Periya Puranam (600 ACE – 1200 ACE), and inscriptions, have been classified into four vast categories, in connection to the means of sound produced.

Narambu Karuvigal- Stringed Instruments

Thulai/Kaatru Karuvigal – Wind Instruments

Kanja Karuvigal – Percussion vessels

Thol Karuvigal – Skin-head Percussion Instruments

Something similar to Victor-Charles Mahillon’s far later version (19th century), adapted from the Indian system- chordophones(stringed instruments), membranophones (skin-head percussion instruments), aerophones (wind instruments), and autophones (non-skin percussion instruments.

This inscription provides information on all four classifications of instruments, played in the temple of Paravai Nangai Isuvaram.

  1. Veenai – String
  2. Kaalam – Wind
  3. Thaalam (kind of symbol), Kaimani (bell), Sekandai (Gongs) – Percussion vessels
  4. Padagam, Mathalam, Karadigai – Skin-head Percussion

In addition, there was also a Dance Master for the temple – the word ‘Nattavam’, authenticates this.

With the Information on different kinds of musical instruments and nattavam, one can imagine the delightful feast, the temple would have presented to the deities, devotees and music lovers alike.

Two kinds of Guards were employed-

  1. Ullaalai Thriuvaasal – Guard for the Sanctum Sanctorium
  2. Purambil Thiruvaasal – Exterior Guard outside the Sanctum

Nandavanakkudi is mentioned in the inscription. There had been a Garden in or around the temple premises, where people resided too.

  1. Pallithaamam Parippaan– one to pluck the flowers
  2. Pallithaamam Thoduppaan – one to string the flowers into a garland

– were also assigned for the Garden.

Person for Thirumezhukku – cleaning and maintenance, Kusavan – Potter and Kanakku – Accountant were also part of the Temple Personnel.

Such an extensive pattern of worship and documentation of the same, ascertains the importance of the temple, during its time.

Inscription 323 of 1917 (ARE)

The inscription gives details of ‘Salai’, which could probably be the Salai, set up by Paravai Nangai, as described in inscription 320 of 1917.

Padaiyal -Food offered

Vilakku -Lamps

Salai Adum Madaiyar – Exclusive Cook for the Salai

Salai Pani Pendugal – Women who worked for the Salai

Salai Vaasal Kaappaan – Guard

Salaikku Kottakari – unable to decipher

Kankaani Kanakku – Accounts Superviser

Naayagan – Supervisor

are all mentioned.

Salaiyur, mentioned in the inscription, might refer to the places that were allocated for running of the Salai, at Paravaipuram. Nayagan, might be the Supervisor, in charge of the maintenance of those places.

Probably, this Salai in Panaiyavaram, was one, equivalent to the School/Hostel/Feeding House as mentioned in Rajendra I’s Ennayiram or Uyyakondan Thirumalai Temple inscriptions, which elucidate the administrative pattern of such Institutions.

Since, the personnel who worked for the Salai are mentioned, this could also be considered as a document issued for maintenance of the institution. Whether Rajendra II, released an endowment, for further conservation or continuation of the esteemed institution, started by Paravai Nangai, his father’s beloved, should be left to Probability, with insuffiicient evidences.

There is also a phrase-

‘Paravai Yetridum Soru’ in the fragment. What it could suggest, seems hard to decipher.

Inscriptions 324, 325, 326, 327, 328 and 329 ( of 1917 ARE)

Inscription 324 and 325, belong to Maravarman Vikrama Pandya, (Pandyas of the Second Empire).

The temple is mentioned as – Puravar Panangattur and the Principal Deity is Kannamanda Nayanar.

Inscriptions 326, 327, 328 and 329 belong to the Vijayanagara and post Vijayanagara Era (13th century ACE to 17th century ACE).

326 belongs to Muthukrishnappa Nayakka. The temple is mentioned as `Vira Paravaipuram’

Inscription 327 belongs to the reign of Kampanna Udaiyar. One of the fragments mentions ‘Paravaipurathu Maduranthaka Isuvaramudaiyar’.

Inscription 328 belongs to the reign of Viruppanna Udaiyar, son of Ariyana Udaiyar (son of Harihara II). The year given is Saka Era 1312, hence 1390 ACE. it mentions Udaiyar Kannamanda Nayanar at Thiruppuravar Panangattur or Paravaipuram.

Inscription 329- Names of Venkatapatideva Maharaja and Muthukrishnappa Nayakka are found in the damaged inscription. The name of the city – Paravaipuram, is mentioned.

South Indian Inscription Volume 8

Three Inscriptions noted from Panaiyavaram in the year 1903, are documented in Volume 8 of South Indian Inscriptions.

  1. Inscription 752 of 1903 – was inscribed in the 48th regnal year of Kulottunga Chola I (1070-1122 ACE). The Principal deity is mentioned as –

Gangaikonda Cholavalanaattu Paravaipurathu Thirupanangaadudaiya Mahadevar

The inscription records the donation of one ‘Araiyan Ponnambala Koothan’. He had provided 12 kaasu for the purpose of lighting 2 numbers of Nanda Vilakku.

2. Inscription 753 of 1903 – belongs to Sundarapandian III (of the Second Pandya Empire). This is yet another interesting inscription. It is an Order of the King which instructs in detail- the special days, offerings, decorations, land, grains and other provisions such as – sugarcane, lilly, coconut, areca palm, jackfruit, banana, turmeric, ginger for the temple.

The Temple and the Deity are mentioned as –

Rajarajavalanaattu Panaiyurnaattu Poraiyurnaattu Thaniyoor Paravaipurathu Thiruppuravaar Panangaattudaiyar Kannamanda Nayanar

3. Inscription 754 of 1903 – belongs to the 3rd regnal year of Adhirajendran (1070).

The temple, as seen in the inscription belongs to-

Panaiyurnadu, a district of Rajendra CholaValanadu.

One of the several adorable features of any inscription is, its ability to talk to the reader, after countless number of years. Like this one-

………………………………………………………………narkaasu

narpathum innilathukku naangal irai irukkak kadavamaga konda

…………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………….vitru vilai

aavananj cheithukoduthom oorkizhaan rajarajan jeyangonda chozhanaana

senaapathigal irukkuvelaarkku Paravaipurathu Nagarathom

It talks of the details of land sold by Paravaipurathu Nagarathar for 40 kaasu. The amount 40 kaasu was handed over to Senapathigal Irukkuvelar. The purpose of the donation, was for offering food to Apurvis of a Sivadharma Matt in the place.

Another temple close by –

Moolai mangala veedhiyil RajendraChola Vinnagar Azhwar Koyil – named RajendraChola Vinnagar Azhwar Koyil, is also mentioned in the inscription.

Inscription 319 of 1917, ARE, which mentioned ‘nagaram paravaipurathu paravai isuvaramudaiya mahadevar koyil‘ – where the merchant settlement came into sight, can be recollected here.

Paravai Nangai Isuvaram – From Paravaipuram to Panaiyapuram

From the above available sources, one could comfortably conclude that Paravai Nangai Isuvaram and Paravaipuram – the temple and city, were named after Rajendra I’s Anukki Paravai, until further contrasting evidences emerge.

Paravai Nangai Isuvaram and Paravaipuram, the name of the Temple and the City respectively, as continued to be known from inscriptions from 11th century ACE until 17th century ACE – during the reigns of Chola, Pandya, Vijayanagar and Post Vijayanagar Empires -is compiled below-

Cholas – 11th century ACE to 13th century ACE

Rajendra II (1054-1063)- Paravai Isuvaram Udaiya Mahadevar Koyil , Paravai Purathu Paravai Isuvaramudaiyar

Kulothunga Chola I (1070-1122) – Gangaikonda Cholavalanaattu Paravaipurathu Thirupanangaadudaiya Mahadeva

Pandyas of the Second Empire- 12th century ACE to 15th century ACE

Vikrama Pandian – Puravar Panangattur – Principal Deity Kannamanda Nayanar

Sundara Pandian III – Paravaipurathu Thiruppuravaar Panangaattudaiyar Kannamanda Nayanar

Vijayanagara and post Vijayanagara Era 13th century ACE to 17th century ACE

Muthukrishnappa Nayakka – Vira Paravaipuram

Kampanna Udaiyar – Paravaipurathu Maduranthaka Isuvaramudaiyar

Viruppanna Udaiyar – Udaiyar Kannamanda Nayanar at Thiruppuravar Panangattur or Paravaipuram.

Venkatapatideva Maharaja and Muthukrishnappa Nayakka – Paravaipuram

Among the city, temple and the Principal Deity – Paravaipuram, Paravai Nangai Isuvaram and Paravai Nangai Isuvaramudaiya Mahadevar, the name of the city ‘PARAVAIPURAM’ has remained the same for several centuries.

This leads to an unambiguous fact – Today’s Panaiyavaram is the altered/distorted version of Paravaipuram.

Conclusion

Inscriptions 319 and 320 of 1917 (ARE) from Panaiyavaram, belong to Rajendra II, the second son of Rajendra I, who ruled the Chola Land after his elder brother Rajadhiraja I. After Rajendra I’s Thiruvarur inscription and Rajadhiraja I’s inscription from the same temple, substantiating the influence of Anukkiyar Paravai Nangaiyar, this is yet another evidence of the continued importance bestowed upon her, even after two rulers – Rajendra I and Rajadhiraja I.

Was the temple built by Rajendra I, whose heart fell for the Lady and her exceptional qualities; or one of his sons – seems unclear, from the available evidences. But, what is clearly evident, is the significance of Paravai Nangai, specially due to her contributions to Chola Temples.

I quote my verses from one of the previous posts –

The transition from a Danseuse to a Revered Donor, nothing lesser than a Royal Patron, makes Paravai an interesting part of Rajendra’s life. 

The respect, the Father gave to his Intimate Companion, being honoured by both the sons, makes the Lady certainly a unique personality during her times and beyond. The admiration and appreciation, the Persona of the Lady had commanded seems overwhelming.

Neither a Queen, nor a Royal Patron, the Danseuse and Soulmate of Rajendra I, had been given the honour of a City, Temple and Principal Deity named after her. She was a special Confidante of the King – Anukki. Additionally, the title prefixed to her name with Love – ‘Anukkiyar’ and the suffix to Anukki- ‘ar’ and Nangai -‘ar’ with immense respect, indicate her exceptional position.

Several striking features of ‘Paravai Nangai’ known from inscriptions in the Tamil Temples have been discussed in this and the previous series of posts. The most striking among them is the respect Rajendra I showered on Anukkiyar Paravai Nangaiyar, that has resonated for at least five centuries, the last inscriptions available so far with the name Paravaipuram, documented during the Vijayanagar Era.

Two Distinct Deeds of Rajendra I

The two distinct deeds of Rajendra Chola I, one of the world’s greatest Naval Champions, were discussed in the recent series of posts. The King’s affection and warmth towards his Step-Mother, Panchavanmadevi and admiration and fondness towards his Anukki – Paravai Nangai are certainly surprising elements. But, building a Temple in memory of Step-mother (Pallipadai Panchavanmadevi Isuvaram) and glorifying his relationship with his Lady Love – documenting it in his temple inscriptions are unheard of.

The exceptional quality of honoring his intimate relationships, those were exclusively close to his heart, makes the Valiant and Victorious Rajendra I, a Dignified Soul. Specially, when such intimate relationships could create intricate complications – a few domestic, and a few more Political.

Rajendra I, who made a mark in the Chola maritime warfare and trade links across the Bay of Bengal, had deified his step-mother Panchavanmadevi and immortalized his beloved friend Paravai Nangai. These distinguished deeds of the Emperor has revealed to the world, yet another illustrious quality of the Emperor – Respecting and Recognising Unconventional Relationships.

References

Web links-

pgs.28,29- Annual Report on Epigraphy -ARE – 1915-1920

pgs. 383, 384, 385 –South Indian Inscriptions Texts Volume 8

Dr. P. Rajaraman, Sri Netroddharakaswami Temple, Panaiyapuram, pdf.

Thagadur Nadu under Vijayanagar Rule, pdf.

Noboru Karashima, Nayaka Rule in the Tamil Country during the Vijayanagar Period

Five inscriptions copied from Uyyakondan Thiirumalai by Dr. M. Rajamanickkanar Centre for Historical Research. – article published in The Hindu.

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