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.

Panchavanmadevi Pallippadai – Rajendra I’s Tribute to his Step-Mother

While the inscriptions of Paravai Nangai Isuvaram are still being studied, I thought the other distinct deed of Rajendra Chola I, constructing a Pallippadai Temple for his Step-mother, Panchavanmadevi, could be discussed in this post.

Pallippadai in Tamil denotes a Memorial Temple. The verb, ‘Pallippaduthal’ is ‘to lay a person on fire’, or a ‘burial’. Hence, Pallippadai could be a place, as per Saivite rituals, where the ashes of the person were buried, and a deity for worship- a Shiva Lingam -would be consecrated. With the Primary Deity of worship installed, it becomes a Temple, in honour of the loved one.

The purpose of a Pallippadai, is neither the elevation of the person as a God or Goddess; nor the worship of the loved one, by the society. It is a representation of the profound affection, one had for the Deceased. This act of Deification of a loved one, is purely an ultimate portrayal of respect and love.

Three Pallippadai Temples that belong to the Medieval Cholas, have been found, in the United Thamizhagam under the mighty Cholas.

Adityesuvaram – Pallippadai Temple of Aditya Chola, father of Paranthaka I and the son of Vijayalaya- the victorious King, who revived the ancient glory of the Chola Empire in Tamil Land, is situated in today’s Andhra Pradesh, near Thirukkalathi (today’s Kalahasti). The temple was built by his son, Paranthaka I. It is called ‘Kothanadarameshwara Temple’, now.

Arinjaya Choleesuvaram – Pallippadai Temple of Arinjaya Chola, father of Sundara Chola/Paranthaka II and the son of Paranthaka I, is situated in Melpadi, in Vellore district of Tamilnadu. The temple was built by Rajaraja I, in memory of his grand father.

Panchavanmadevi Isuvaram – Pallippadai Temple of Panchavanmadevi, Queen of Rajaraja I, lies near Patteesvaram, in the district of Thanjavur, Tamilnadu. The temple was built by Rajendra I, in memory of his step-mother. Like several other temples, those have lost their original names, this temple is called ‘Ramanathan Koyil/ Temple’, now.

Why Panchavanmadevi Pallippadai is important in the history of Temple Construction of Thamizhagam- today’s Tamilnadu?

Panchavanmadevi Isuvaram

The temple stands tall, in its representation of Love – Love for a Mother.

 As mentioned in one of the earlier posts, It is normal for a King to build a Monument in memory of His Queen, or a Son for his Mother; But building a Temple in long lasting memory of a Step-mother, is never heard of.

This is a Unique Temple, showcasing Unique Love.

Panchavanmadevi, a Pazhuvettaraiyar Princess, who became the Queen of Rajaraja I, was an eminent Patron of several temples, during the reign of her husband. Several inscriptions in the Thanjai Peruvudaiyar Temple, Thiruppugalur, Melapaluvur temples and several more, mention her contributions. The noteworthy contributions of the Royal Ladies of the Chola Empire, is a well documented fact. Panchavanmadevi, was one among them.

But, what makes the Consort of Rajaraja I exceptional, seems to be her immense affection for Rajendra I, her husband’s son and the heir to the Chola Throne. It is beyond one’s comprehension, how deep should’ve been Rajendra’s attachment towards Panchavanmadevi, that he constructed a Memorial Temple, in her honour.

Such a phenomenal temple, can neither be found in the entire sub-continent nor in other parts of the world. The selfless warmth, Panchavanmadevi must have showered upon her step-son, is still reflected on the walls of the temple, beyond a thousand years.

A Neglected Monument – Failure of a Society?

Temples of Tamilnadu, that stand as Stone Documents of our bygone Eras, face several threats. Reclaiming Temples, Preserving the idols, Saving the documented inscriptions on the walls, have all become challenges. The plight of the documented inscriptions is yet another tragic story. In such case, the society is under a great threat of losing its History. What happens when the common man doesn’t realise that his everyday temple is a store house of historic documents? Tamil Land seems to be leading by example.

The arduous story behind the retrieval of the Temple of Panchavanmadevi, and the struggle to bring out the inscription in the temple, which stands proof of the Temple’s unprecedented identity, is painfully recorded by Dr. R. Kalaikkovan, Founder, Dr. M. Rajamanikkanar Centre for Historical Research, Thiruchirapalli, in his article in varalaaru.com.- ஒரு காலக் கனவின் கண்ணீர்க் கதை (click for link).

The year, the article was published in varalaaru.com, was 2009. The undigestible truth behind this article, is yet another 10 years of laborious attempt (prior to 2009) to bring the temple to light. A total of 30 years, to rescue a monument from Human Negligence. Truly Tragic.

A very recent re-broadcast of Dr. R. Kalaikkovan’s Radio Talk, in All India Radio, was a stunner, in terms of the plight of exceptional temples, in today’s world.

After reading the article, one takes some time to come to terms with reality. Additionally, Deciphering inscriptions, doesn’t seem to be a Herculean task. Protecting the inscriptions, seems to be one.

Due to the relentless pursuit of Dr. Kalaikkovan and his team, the inscription of Rajendra I, in the temple, has been deciphered and documented.

Rajendra I’s inscription of Panchavanmadevi, which mentions the Temple as a Pallippadai.

The unfinished long inscription starts with Rajendra Chola I’s Meikeerthi – ‘thirumanni valara’. The year of the inscription, is the seventh regnal year of Rajendra, 1019. We are talking about a document, which was inscribed more than a 1000 years ago.

Thirumanni valara irunila madanthaiyum……………………….

……………………………………………………………………………..

………………………………………………………………………………

…………………………………………………………..kopparakesari

varmarana sri Rajendra chozha devarkku yaandu

ezhavathu kshatriyasigamani valanaattu thirunaraiyur

naattu pazhai

yaaraana mudikonda chozhapurathu pallippadai

panchavan madevi isuvarathu madevarkkum

The temple is mentioned as ‘Kshatriya Sigamani Valanaattu, Thirunaraiyur Naattu, Pazhaiyaaraana Mudikonda Chozhapurathu Pallippadai Panchavan Madevi Ishwaram’ and the principal deity is Panchavan Madevi Ishwarathu Devar.

The inscription, stands as an illustration of the Administerial Excellence, which the Cholas documented through their Temples. It refers to the Deities of Worship in the temple and the names of temple officials, religious functionaries and workers, employed for the temple. Clear specifications of duties of personnel, the exact amounts of land and grains allotted for the temple activities, oil and food to be offered to the deities – are all unambiguously recorded.

When compared to two of the other Pallippadai Temples of the Chola Era, Panchavanmadevi Pallippadai has noticeable details of attention, the King had registered while constructing the Special Premises.

Important details recorded in the inscription, reveal interesting particulars of the Temple Administration. They are also evidences of transparency in regulations under the Chola Empire, certainly a Golden Era for Temples and Architecture, and Historic Documentation at its Apex.

THE INSCRIPTION

The shares of land, from which grains would be given for the usage of Temple and Temple Officials and Workers, would be received from the village of Sitraadi, under the district of Thirunaraiyur.

The temple officials are cited in these verses–

Under the Orders of – Uyyakondar valanaattu vennaattu keralandhaga charuppethi mangalathu maaraayan Arumozhiyaana Uthamachozha Brahmaraayan,

kallil vettuvikkavendru uyyakond

dar valanaattu vennaattu keralanthaka saruppethi

mangalathu maaraayan arumozhiyaana uthamachozha

brahmaraayan solla

Under the Supervision of Chief Administrative Officer – SriKaryam Seikindra Kshatriya Sigaamani Valanaatu Setroor Kootrathu Maruthathurudaiyan Venkaadan Kovandhai and Pontiff – Madapathy Laguleesa Pandhithar,

iththevarkku srikaryanj

cheikindra kshatriyasigaamani valanaatu setroor

kootrathu maruthathur

rudaiyaan venkaadan kovandhaiyum immadapathi

laguleeswara paditharum kankaaniyaaga kallil

vettiyathu

The Inscription has been documented, under the orders of the General, Uthamachozha Brahmaraayan, under the supervision of Chief Administrative Officer, Venkaadan Kovandhai and Pontiff Laguleesa Pandithar.

Apart from the Principal Deity, Panchavanmadevi Isuvarathu Maadevar, the deities in the temple are Umasagithar, Ganavathiyar and Chandrasekara Devar.

…………….Umasagitharkku moondru sandhikkum thiruvamuthu

arisi arunaazhiyum Gana

vathiyaarkku sandhi ondrukku thiruvamudhu arisi oru naazhi

yum Chandrasekara devarkku sandhi ondrukku thiruvamudhu

arisi irunaazhiyum

Below are the offerings of Food to deities of the temple. Amudhu is a generic word for ingredients to make different offerings of Food. Thiruvamudhu, mentioned in temple records, stands for a Meal offered to the Deities. It has been seen from other inscriptions, that the Grand Meal or a Feast Meal offered in temples, is mentioned as Perunthiruvamudhu.

What we know from this inscription, is the supply of several ingredients, needed to cook different offerings of meals to the deities of Panchavanmadevi Isuvaram.

Thiruvamudhu – Meal

Neiyamudhu – Clarified Butter

Paruppamudhu – Lentils

Kariyamudhu – Vegetabes

Thayiramudhu – Curd/Yoghurt

Uppamudhu – Salt

Adaikkai Amudhu – Betel Nut

Vetrilai – Betel Leaves

The exact amounts of rice grain, clarified butter, lentils, vegetables, yoghurt, betel leaves and betel nuts have been recorded. With the main ingredients, salt for seasoning and pepper as spice, have been used.

……………………………Kariamudhukku

milagu iru sevidaraikku nel iru naazhiyum uppa

mudhukku naal 1kku nel uriyum

Precise description of all essential ingredients for the Temple Offerings, recorded a 1000 years ago, baffles our imagination.

Also, wood used for the cooking stove, for the deities – Udaiyar Panchavanmadevi Isuvarathu Maadevar, Umasahithar, Chandrashekara Devar and Ganavathiyar- is mentioned, in the inscription.

After food, the inscription mentions the lighting of Lamps in the Temple.

……………………………….thirunondhavilakku

moondrukku ennai muzhakkum sandhi vilakku siru

kaalai ettum uchampodhu ettum iraapathinarum

aaga

sandhi vilakku muppathirandu

  1. Thirunandha vilakku -3
  2. Sandhi vilakku – 8 in the morning, 8 in the noon and 16 at night- which makes up to 32 lamps
  3. Small lamps -8 in number, for Sribali (offering of holy food), to be lit 3 times a day.
  4. Bigger Torch Lamps – 2 in number, for Thirumanjanam- (sacred bath) and Thiruvolakkam (public exhibit of the Deities, which is done on a special place in the temple)

Such impressive attention on details.

After providing specifications on grains and ingredients for Food and Oil for Lamps, Sandalwood for Thirumeipoochu -sacred smearing on idols and Kunguliyam (the aromatic sal dammer ) for Thiruppugai – burning incense, is stated.

thirumeipoochchukku naal ondrukku sandhanam………..

…………………………………………………………………………….

……………………………………………………………………………

…………..thiruppugaikku naal 1 kku kungulium……………..

To put it in concise –

Ingredients list of nei amudhu (clarified butter), paruppu amudhu (lentil), kari amudhu (vegetables), thayir amudhu (yoghurt), uppamudhu (salt), milagu(pepper), viragu (wood), adaikkai amudhu (betel nut), and vetrilai (betel leaves) – for Thiruvamudhu (food)

Ennai (oil) for Lamps – for the Deities, Temple premises, offering of Holy Food, the Sacred Bath and Public Exhibit of Deities

Sandhanam (Sandalwood) for Smearing on Deities

Kunguliyum (Sal Dammer) for burning incense

have been specified, and the amounts of grains allotted for these purposes are described in detail.

Instructions on the special celebrations, to commemorate the respective birth-stars of Rajendra Chola Deva, and his wife Nampirattiyar (name not mentioned) are specified.

……………..Udaiyar SriRajendra Chozhadevar

thirunaalaana thiruvathirai thirunaal 1kku thiruvizha ezhun

tharula thiruppallithamamum thiruvamudhu thiruvilakken

naiyum thiruppalli chivikai kaavuvarukku nellu

irukalane iru naazhi uzhak

kaga aanduvarai thiruvadhirai thirunaal 12 um nampiratti

yar iraivathi thirunaal 12 um aaga thirunaal 24 sku

There are two facts that are note worthy, in this part of the inscription-

  1. A Festival to be organised on Thiruvathirai (the birth-star of Rajendra I); and
  2. Monthly ceremonies on Thiruvathirai and Revathi (birth-star of Nampirattiyar – wife of Rajendra I) respectively, which counts to a total of 24 days of celebrations a year.

For these special occasions, grains have been systematically allotted for-

  1. thiruppallithamam – Flower Garlands
  2. thiruvamudhu – Holy Food
  3. thiruvilakkennai – Oil for Lamps
  4. thiruppalli chivigai kaavuvaar – Palenquin Bearers of the sacred Deities
  5. thiruvilakku seelai, thirupparisattam, thirunamanigai, thiruvuthiriyam, thirumelkattu and thiruvidhanam- sacred clothes for different purposes in the temple

This list, is exclusively for the Festival and Celebrations in the name of Rajendra Chola I and his Consort.

The fascinating details of the persons employed with their names, for different services of the temple, are provided.

The persons on duty in the Temple of Panchavanmadevi Isuvaram-

One person to recite Tamil Hymns (probably Thevaram)- Pidaaranthiruvaradhinai seyyum pidaran 1vanukku – for the Agamic Rituals

Two Saivite Brahmins – Siva Brahmanan Kousikan Bharathan Thiripuranthakan and Kousikan Bharathan Narayanan – for the Vedic Rituals

Accounts Officer – Kanakku Araiyan Madhuranthakanaana Chozha Perunkavithi

Treasurer – Pandaari Maruthoorudaiyan Venkaadan Kovanthai

Temple Guard – Thirumeikkaaval Venkaadan Ponnambalam

and – Sivannan Sandilyan Narayanan Pattadhithan

Panel of 6 instrumentalists headed by – one Uvachu koothan

Another panel of 6 instrumentalists headed by – Uvachu Aravanaiyaan Ekaveeran

Deputy to the Accounts Officer – Araiyan Madhuranthakanaana Chozha Perunkavithikku Kaavithimai seivaan

Potter – Kusavan Kannan Thiruvadigal

Maintenance – cleaning and washing – Thiruvalagu Thirumezhukku ida Bharathan Thiripuranthakan and Bharathan Narayanan

The inscription talks in detail, the quantities of grain to be provided to these staf, for their services.

What an extensive Inscription! Who said a research article shouldn’t display emotions? One is fascinated by the sheer lucidity that the inscription exhibits. Every Chola Temple, draws the same amount of inquisitiveness and admiration, with its captivating diverse elements. The restriction of adjectives, in a research article, wouldn’t hold good, while writing about Tamil Temples, as a whole.

While every Chola Temple, is a Unique Treasure Trove… What makes Panchavanmadevi Pallippadai, an Exceptional One?

The other two Pallipadai Temples of the Chola Era, are dedicated to Kings. Panchavanmadevi Pallipadai is the only one, dedicated to a Lady. This is a Temple, constructed in memory of a Son’s love for his Mother. What makes it even more distinct, is that it is a Memorial Temple, in honour of a Step-Mother.

The devoted affection of Rajendra for his Step-mother is amplified multifold, by the construction of this Temple. The Dynamic King has displayed his fondness for Panchavan Madevi, in an unprecedented way.

The inscription of the temple, is yet again Unique, as no other Pallippadai inscription, both Parantaka I’s and Rajaraja’s, are as explicit and elaborate as Rajendra’s. Having a Festival observed in the King’s auspicious day, and special celebrations in the names of Rajendra and his wife, highlights the honour that the Son wishes to provide his mother, in the future years too.

An equivalent of the Love and Affection, that a mother would give her children, is next to impossible. But, the recognition and honour that Rajendra I has showered in reciprocity of the Affection received, also seems next to impossible.

Panchavanmadevi Pallippadai, is not only Rajendra’s Display of Honour for his Step-mother, It is also a Grand Recognition of the selfless warmth and many more extraordinary qualities, the Lady possessed. It is a portray of what Rajendra I wanted the world to recognise – Deification of Motherhood and Glorification of Womanhood.

Rajendra Chola I – Two Distinct Deeds of the World’s Greatest Naval Champion

Rajendra Chola I (regnal years 1012-1044), the son of Rajaraja Chola I,  is undoubtedly one of the greatest Emperors the Tamil Land, India or even the World has ever produced. His successful expeditions, in the neighbouring Kingdoms of yesteryear Thamizhagam, as far as the Ganges, surpassing the Kalingas and conquering the Palas, earned him the title – ‘Gangai Konda Chozhan’ – ‘The Chola who conquered the Ganges’.

He learnt political and economic warfare from his accomplished and triumphant Father-  Rajaraja I, the Great. Rajendra I proved that, none other than him could have taken the victorious Baton of the Cholas, not only to the neighbourhood, but to the several countries in South East Asia as well. His successful overseas expeditions documented in his inscriptions, prove his mettle as a Skillful Warrior, a Tactful Administrator, and the most striking feature of all, being a Maritime Champion – Political and Economic.

Tamil Kings and their zeal for constructing Temples is a well acknowledged fact. Temples of Tamilzhagam/Tamilagam are not only religious entities, but store houses of history. The passion with which the rulers – Pallavas, Cholas, Pandyas or their Vassal Kings, have transformed Temples into Architectural wonders, can be felt in each and every Temple of South India. But, the credit of engineering the temples into Massive Monuments with Intricate Sculptural Marvels, unable to capture the total essence of the master piece, even in the best technologically advanced cameras of the present times, is only one of the several distinguished achievements of the Cholas.

That Temples received immense patronage from the Rulers, who showed keen interest in documenting history through inscriptions, is very well known . Temples, being store houses of historic treasures, also preserve several surprises and distinctive facts to be unearthed.  Two such instances associated with Rajendra I’s Temples, accentuates the distinct qualities of the Emperor.

Both instances involve two special women in the life of the accomplished son of Emperor Rajaraja I, the Great.

One, His Lady Love from Thiruvarur, Nangai Paravai. The respect and the special position that the King gave to His special friend and beloved; and her specific interest in Temples and Religious deeds would be discussed in this post, with the available inscriptional evidences.

Two, Rajendra I’s step mother Panchavan Madevi. It is normal for a King to build a Monument in memory of His Queen, or a Son for his Mother ; But building a Temple in long lasting memory of a Step-mother, is never heard of. Temples built in honour of the dead is called Pallippadai in Tamil. Son of Vanavan Madevi and Rajaraja I, Rajendra I, was much attached to his step-mother, Panchavanmadevi. Rajendra’s Pallippadai in memory of Panchavanmadevi would be discussed in another separate post.

A recent radio programme in All India Radio, Thiruchirappalli, anchored by Dr. R. Kalaikkovan, Founder, Dr. M. Rajamanikkanar Centre for Historical Research, Thiruchirapalli, gave a fine introduction to the special relationship between Rajendra Chola I and Paravai Nangai. Dr. Kalaikkovan, a veteran in History, Temple Inscriptions, Architecture and a connoisseur of Arts and Music, is also well known as a charming narrator of history, comprehensible to common man. The elegance with which, he explained the beautiful story of Paravai Nangai encouraged this write-up.

My respectful gratitude to Dr. R. Kalaikkovan, for mentoring and providing authentic evidences and patient explanations, on Rajendra I and Paravai Nangaiyar’s relationship.

Rajendra Chola I and Anukkiyar Paravai Nangaiyar

The temple of Thiruvarur holds a special place in the life of Rajendra Chola I. Two of the Inscriptions in the temple, talk of Paravai Nangai. The inscriptions do not mention her as Paravai Nangai, but with a special status – Anukkiyar Paravai Nangaiyar. Anukki, in tamil means female friend or confidante. As she commanded a much respectful position,  she is introduced as Anukkiyar – with the suffix ‘ar’ that stands for reverence.

First, the story of Paravai Nangai, adapted from the Radio Talk of Dr. Kalaikkovan. During the era of the medieval Cholas, there were several Residential Dance Schools, called Thalichery. Qualified dancers from Thalicherys were sent to perform at different Temples in the Chola Mandalam. The city of Thiruvarur was very much popular for its Thalichery. It was called ‘Thiruvarur Periya Thalicherry’.

During the reign of Rajaraja I, many distinguished dancers were selected from Thiruvarur to perform at the Thanjai Peruvudaiyar Koyil – Rajarajecharam Temple.

The Beloved Friend of Rajendra I, Paravai Nangai too, must have been a product of the Illustrious Thiruvarur Periya Thalichery. As per the interesting narration, after taking over from his Father, as the Emperor of the Cholas, Rajendra Chola I visited several places in Cholamandalam. According to an inscription, he visited Thiruvalanchuzhi, near present day Kumbakonam and had lunch in the Temple Gardens. The same way, on one of his visits to Thiruvarur, he must have met Paravai, the beautiful Dancer.  She must have performed in front of the Lord. Rajendra must have viewed her dance. One of the apt Titles that Rajendra I possessed was ‘Panditha Cholan’- one who is well versed in Arts and Literature.  A true Connoisseur of Arts, Rajendra must have developed a soft corner for Paravai and her Art of Dance.

There are two Inscriptions in the temple of Thiruvarur, that provide evidence of the significant influence of Paravai Nangaiyar.

  1. Thiruvarur Inscription of Rajendra I, provides ample information on the religious services offered by Anukkiyar to the temple of Thiruvarur
  2. Thiruvarur Inscription of Rajadhiraja I, son of Rajendra I, provides evidence of the influence of Paravaiyar. This inscription is of additional significance, as it talks of the respect of the Son towards the special friend of the Father.

Rajendra’s inscription is discussed in this post.

Thiruvarur Inscription of Rajendra I

The long inscription is dated 1032 ACE, the 20th regnal year of Rajendra Chola I. It starts with the phrase ‘Thirumanni Valara…’, the Meikeerthi of Rajendra I. It describes in detail, the enormous amount of jewellery, land and lamps donated by Anukkiyar Paravai Nangaiyar, the Lady Love of the Emperor, to the temple of Thiruvarur. The interest that Paravai Nangai took in reconstructing and beautifying the Temple and its premises is remarkable.

The weights in gold used to built the vimanam of the sanctum sanctorium, the weights in copper used to decorate the doors, the weights of the enormous kuthu vilakku (Lamp) donated and the number of precious stones and pearls offered to the temple by her, are provided in detail.

The significance of this inscription is multi dimensional. This can be ascertained by the contributions of Paravai Nangai to the temple of Thiruvaroor.

Paravai Nangai’s contributions to the temple of Thiruvarur

There were Anukkiyar – friends and close confidantes to Kings, from the times of Adita Chola, in the Chola dynasty. They were all known to the world by their endowments and charities to temples.

But, the difference in Paravai Nangai is in the status, she enjoyed. Her donations to the temple are incomparable, coming from an Anukki of the King.  The inscription also showers light on important mile stones of the Temple. The mile stones of being converted into stone structure and beautification with gold plating of the Vimanam, done by Paravai Nangai, make her name an inseparable part of the temple and its glory, till today.

 

Important segments of the inscription

In the 18th regnal year of the Emperor, The Temple with the principal deity Udaiyar Veedhi Vidangathevar of Thirvarur was converted into a stone structure, by Anukkiyar Paravai Nangaiyar.

 

Udaiyar Sri Rajendra Choladevarkku yaandu

irubadhavathu udaiyar Sri Rajendra Chola Devar Anukkiyar

Paravai Nangaiyar `kshatriya Sigamani Valanaattu

Tiruvarur Kootrathu Thiruvarur Udaiyar

Veedhi Vidangathevar Thirukkatrali eduppiththu

 

‘Thirukkatrali Eduppiththu’  signifies the conversion of the existing structure to stone.

 

In the 18th regnal year of Rajendra I, the work of gold plating and copper plating of the temple, started from the 38th day and was completed on the 199th day. The Vimanam, walls and the entrance of the temple’s Sanctum Sanctorium were plated with Gold; The doors and pillars of the Mañdapam were plated with Copper. The weight of Gold añd Copper used in the beautification process is quite overwhelming. That, Gold weighing 20643 kalanju and copper plates weighing 42000 palam were used is only a fraction of the various contributions of the Lady.

Anukkiyar Paravai Nangaiyar Yaandu

……………………………………………….

………………………………………………

……………………………………………..

meintha pon irupathinaayirathu arunootru

narpathu mukkazhanje ezhu manjaadiyum

……………………………………….

……………………………………………………ik

Koyil munbil mandapathu soozhntha

kodunkaiyilum sopana koodathilum

kathavilum meintha pon narpaththu

eerairaththu…………………..

 

She donated Chowries for the deity with Golden handles. Why I chose to cite this among the other donations is because, these verses are one among the few places, the name of Anukkiyar Paravai Nangaiyar is mentioned along with Rajendra I, in the inscription.

SriRajendra Choladevar Anuk

kayak Paravai Nangaiyar vaitha ponnin

kaichamarai ondru………………………….

 

The volume of the jewellery offered by Paravai to the temple is humongous. Below is a portion of the enormous amount of precious stones and pearls that were offered by Paravai. In one portion, the inscription talks of- 18 Rubies, 252 diamonds, 24 Rubies, 246 diamonds.

 

Among the several lamps that she donated, were two special and huge Pavai Vilakku- one named ‘Pachai Pavai Umai Nangai’ and the other named ‘Pavai Sariya Mulai Nangai’.

Pachai Pavai Umai Nangai

 

Pavai Sariya Mulai Nangai


 

The Exceptional Status of Paravai Nangai

Apart from the above long lists of Paravai Nangai’s contributions to the temple,  few select verses in the inscription, reveal to the world, the influence Paravai Nangai enjoyed and the special position accorded upon her by the Emperor.

Let’s imagine this situation. The King decides to visit the temple. It is normal for a King to witness huge fanfare and reverence from his subjects, on a temple visit, while his Chariot passes the streets. It would be an additional sight of delight for the subjects, to pay obeisance to the King, if he is with his Queen. Such occasions of Kings, Queens, Crown Princes, Princesses, Queen Mothers, Daughters in Law and many more from the Royal Clan, visiting Temples and their endowments have been recorded in Temple Inscriptions.

In the context of this post, the King, Rajendra I decided to visit the temple. He desired to visit with his Beloved, Anukkiyar Paravai Nangai. What makes the incident unique, is that, the King took Paravai Nangai along with him on his Chariot. This is one exclusive recognition that he bestowed upon her.

Apart from taking a tour, with Paravai to the Temple, Rajendra also placed on record in his temple inscription, that He and Paravai Nangai travelled on a Chariot to the Temple.

This specific segment of the inscription presents three facts-

1.Rajendra I and Paravai arrived at the Temple. One Vilakku/Lamp was placed at the entrance point, probably where the Chariot drove into the Temple premises.

………………….Sri Rajendra Chola

Devarum Anukkiyar Paravai Nangaiyarum

thermelezhundharuli puguthikki niluda

vaitha vilakkondrinaal

 

2. Two Kuthu Vilakkus/Standing Lamps were placed inside the Sanctum Sanctorium.

.………………………..Udaiyar SriMoolasthanamudaiyar

Koyilil Ullalai Kuthuvilakku irandum

 

3. One Kuthu Vilakku/Standing Lamp was placed, on the spot where Rajendra I and Anukkiyar Paravai Nangaiyar stood together and worshipped the Lord.

Udaiyar SriRajendra Choladevarum

Anukkiyar ParavaiNangai yaarum nirkumidanth

theriym Kuthuvilakku ondrum

 

The inscription

 

These facts documented by Rajendra I, is a significant proof of his special relationship with Paravai Nangai, which he doesn’t hesitate to permenantly document . The inscription seems to emphasise on the dignity,  he wished to confer upon her. Throwing light on certain defined moments, like placing lamps on the spot of worship, is yet another way to reiterate, the Stature the Lady enjoyed, in his heart and beyond.

Paravai Nangai, suggested to have hailed from one of the Premier Residential Dance Schools of Thiruvarur, known as Periya Thalichery, is acknowledged in the inscription as Anukkiyar Paravai Nangaiyar. The transition from a Danseuse to a Revered Donor, nothing lesser than a Royal Patron, makes Paravai an interesting part of Rajendra’s life. Her endowments to the temple, seem unparalleled in many ways.

The King provides the world, a glimpse of his Profound Affection with honesty. That Paravai Nangai was acknowledged for her Generosity and Charity, especially, with no personal or official holding in the Empire, should have been due to the array of good qualities that she possessed.

The most noteworthy segment of the relationship, lies in the inscription of Rajendra I’s son, Rajadhiraja’s Thiruvarur inscription, which would be discussed in the next post. The inscription reiterates the honour extended upon Paravai Nangai, as his father’s Special Companion or Anukki. The acceptance of Paravai Nangai by Rajadhiraja, is yet another recognition of the Lady’s noticeable reputation.

Note:

All images of inscriptions- Photo Courtesy:  Dr. Kalaikkovan, Founder, Dr. M. Rajamanikkanar Centre for Historical Research, Thiruchirapalli.

 

 

Khmer Political and Economic Expansions in Northeast Thailand under Suryavarman I (1010-1050 ACE)

The friendly diplomatic relations maintained by Rajaraja I and the subsequent military conquests of his son Rajendra Chola I in connection with the Kingdoms of Southeast Asia and the consequential increase in the influence of the Tamil Trader community in Khmer temple architecture has been discussed in the previous post.  The impact of the influence of Maritime Tamil Traders through the sculpture of Karaikkal Ammai – an innovative introduction along with Dancing Shiva in Khmer temples, which was the pioneer architectural excellence of Chembian Madevi in Chola Temples in Thamizhagam/Thamilagam from mid 10th century ACE is the focus point of this series of posts – ‘Ammai in Southeast Asian Temples’.

In this post, we continue to concentrate on the Khmer temples with the sculpture of Ammai, but with a shift from today’s Cambodia towards the north-east region of today’s Thailand, which is presently called Isan. The Isan region falls to the north west of today’s Cambodia and shares borders with both Laos and Cambodia.

Several provinces that constitute today’s north-east Thailand formed an important historical part in the Khmer expansion of geographical territory, specifically during the reign of Suryavarman I.  This author proposes to view the inclusion of Ammai in Khmer temples in the light of Khmer expansion towards north-eastern regions of Thailand in three ways-

  1. Political Extension
  2. Economic Expansion
  3. Religious Development

The facts pertaining to the above mentioned three faceted Khmer Expansion during the reign of Suryavarman I, are dealt in an attempt to search evidences, which are epigraphic and non-epigraphic in nature, for the inclusion of the sculpture of the Tamil Saiva Saint, Karaikkal Ammai in Khmer Temples.

Political Extension

The Khmer focus on today’s north-east Thailand or beyond and north of Dangrek Range is believed to have gained momentum during the reign of Rajendravarman II (944-968 ACE). However, it was only after Suryavarman I claimed the Khmer throne in the first decade of the 11th century ACE, that the Khmer expansion took a giant leap, occupying several provinces in today’s Isan and even beyond.

Mitch Hendrickson (currently Asst. Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Illinois, Chicago) holds a Doctorate in Archeology. He focuses his research on communication systems and expansion mechanisms of the Khmer Empire between 9th to 15th centuries ACE. His 2012 publication – Connecting the Dots: Investigating the issue of transportation between the temple complexes of the medieval Khmer (9th to 14th centuries AD), examines the transport routes established as links between various Khmer temples. His paper brings out important geographic and political dimensions of the reigns of various Khmer Kings combined with religion. The research reveals the road routes established by Khmer Kings along the important temples they built and also provides a different interpretation on the connectivity of these temples after the inclusion of several provinces of Dvaravati region (north western region of today’s Cambodia) into the Khmer territory. It also provides us additional details on Suryavarman I and his geographic expansion and the efforts made by him to increase mobility to and from the temple sites built and renovated by him, in Cambodia and northeast Thailand.

If, as assumed, the Khmer temples are part of a greater cultural landscape under politico-religious control, an examination of connections at the regional and supra-regional scales will provide insight into the internal dynamics of the Khmer empire and its geographic history.

Mitch Hendrickson, Old Myths and New Approaches: Interpreting Ancient Religious Sites in Southeast Asia

This analytical paper on the communication corridors of Khmer Kings gives us fascinating details on the expansion of the Empire and the far flung regions controlled by different Kings, in specific context of this paper, Suryavarman I.

The second significant feature is the restricted size of royal territories until the reign of Suryavarman I in the early 11th century. At this time the focus expands significantly to the northwest and south of the Tonle Sap Lake. Interestingly, the areas influenced by subsequent kings largely mirror the 11th century occupation, which suggests that regional communication was formally established at this time.

Mitch Hendrickson, Old Myths and New Approaches: Interpreting Ancient Religious Sites in Southeast Asia

In the picture below, the author shows the communication corridors of Kings, necessarily used to develop transport routes between temple sites.  Additionally the picture also throws light on the comparative mapping of the geographic/political Khmer expansion through their religious entities and storehouses of cultural refinement – ‘Temples’.

 

Mitch Hendrickson, Old Myths and New Approaches: Interpreting Ancient Religious Sites in Southeast Asia

After Udayadityavarman I, the sites influenced by Suryavarman I in the first decade of the 11th century ACE show his sturdy grip as far as the western regions of Cambodia, forging into Dvaravati region. The significant geographic expansion aided in the creation of culturo-religious institutions in form of temples in the newly extended territory.

Pali Chronicles – the Chamadevivamsa and the Jinakalamali (both belonging to the 15th century ACE) and Mulasasana, talk of the story of the Khmer expansion in the Menam Basin and also mention the name of ‘Kambojaraja’. Even if the chronicles can be brushed aside as imaginary, Coedes clarifies that – ‘ we nonetheless have clear manifestations of Cambodian expansion in the era of Suryavarman I in the region west of the Great Lake, where his inscriptions are particularly numerous’.  (George Coedes, pg.137, Three Great Kings, The Indianized states of Southeast Asia).

 

Lopburi inscription of Suryavarman I

  1. 944 śaka caturdaśī ket bhadrapa
  2. da ādityavāra nu vraḥ pāda kaṃmrateṅ kaṃtva
  3. n añ śrī sūryyavarmmadeva pandval vraḥ ni
  4. yama ru samācāra ta tapra pi bhūvana phoṅ
  5. dval pi thve toy onā sthāna ta pasvi pho
  6. ṅ nu vraḥ paṃ nvas bhikṣu mahāyān a stha
  7. vira O nau ru ta pvas vyat pi nu thvāy tapaḥ ta
  8. vraḥ pāda kaṃmrateṅ kaṃtvan añ śrī
  9. sūryyavarmmadeva o nau ruv anak ta cval sāṃ
  10. pi tamaḥ tapovanāvāsa noḥpi thve
  11. kaṅval pi vvaṃaṃ pān pi tapasvi yogi
  12. phoṅ svat mantra pi nu thvāy tapaḥ ta
  13. vraḥ pāda kaṃrateṅ kaṃtvan añśrī sū
  14. ryyavarmmadeva ti pre cāp pi nāṃ cuñ ta
  15. sabhā stap vyavahāra nirṇṇaya toy

http://www.sac.or.th/databases/inscriptions/en/inscribe_detail.php?id=381

This inscription of Suryavarman I from Lopburi, mentions that the Buddhist monks belonging to two sects – Mahayana and Sthavira and the Brahmins – Tapasvi Yogi lived together in Lavo. This is not only a proof of Suryavarman I’s Khmer expansion in the Dvaravati region but also a proof of religious secularism encouraged under him.

Where is Lopburi?

 

Map courtesy: By Hdamm – Own work, GFDL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4141418

Above map shows Lopburi and Nakhon Ratchasima in arrows. The extent of Suryavarman I’s expansion beyond the Dangkrek Mountains, with Prasat Hin Phimai, which falls under the province of Nakhon Ratchasima and reaching as far as Lopburi was only a beginning to his commercial and architectural expansion – bringing economy and religion under a single umbrella of political conquests…. much similar to Rajendra Chola I, his contemporary Tamil Emperor, whose political conquests resulted in economic and religious expansion of Tamil culture as far as China – beyond Southeast Asia.

Economic Expansion

The geographic expansion of Khmers under Suryavarman I has been briefly discussed above. What would seem most important in the study of the inclusion of iconography of Karaikkal Ammai in Cambodia and north east Thailand is the religious expansion during the first half of the eleventh century. But, there is one more important theory that makes the powerful chain of geographic and religious expansions stronger – that is Economic Expansion. The economic expansion or commercial development of Khmer Kings is a topic of separate, in-depth analysis- already done by several scholars and researchers. The economy aspect of any King’s rule occupies a significant place in his political and religious influences taken from and spread towards other friendly and non-friendly nations. Significantly, economic relations might be more expansive than political, as it additionally aids in cultural and religious give and take.

With the focal point on Karaikkal Ammai in Khmer temples, the economic expansion of Khmer Kings needs to be explored. The political and economic expansions of Rajaraja I and his son Rajendra I of the Chola Empire in Thamizhagam were discussed in the previous post. The maritime Tamil merchants and their stronghold in Southeast Asian economies had led to various cultural reciprocities, the most beautiful among them being the inclusion of Karaikkal Ammai, the demon devotee of Lord Shiva in Khmer Temples.

As written previously, the Tamil Economic upheaval was at its apex during the reign of the father-son duo – Rajaraja I and Rajendra I. Inscriptions on Rajendra I’s Southeast Asia conquests are proof to the political and economic might of the Tamils in the early 11th century ACE, the period corresponding to the reign of Suryavarman I in Khmerland.

Inscriptions in Thamizhagam show an uninterrupted process of maritime trade and political stronghold of the Tamils in Southeast Asia, from Rajaraja I’s successful friendly relations, followed by a new policy of political conquests by son Rajendra I. A century later to Rajaraja I’s reign, Kulottunga Chola’s inscriptions in 1114 ACE, talk of friendly relations sought by Suryavarman II with the Tamil Kings.

Inscription of Kulottunga I  that a stone was provided by Suryavarman II to the Shiva temple of Chidambaram (Chittrambalam or Thillai being its original Tamil name).

 

Photo clicked from Ancient and Medieval Tamil and Sanskrit Inscriptions by Noburu Karashima and Y. Subbarayalu

Researchers and Scholars have analysed the evidences of the glorious commercial expansions under the rule of Suryavarman I, who incorporated the west of the core Angkor area extending till Lopburi (Lavapura) into the then existing Khmer territory. The corresponding cultural and religious networks he created within and beyond his territory might bring in clues to the inclusion of Karaikkal Ammai in Khmer Architecture.

The interest that Suryavarman I showed in his political expansion, continued with the immense emphasis he laid upon administrative and commercial activities internally and internationally.  He focused on enhancing trade and commerce of his kingdom by integrating markets of his then existing territory and newly captured provinces. One of his primary concerns was to dominate the economic scene among the neighboring states, by extending friendly relations with the South Indian Cholas.

Kenneth R Hall’s extensive research on Khmer commercial development during the reign of Suryavarman I has indeed left behind ample references that relate to the Tamil maritime links in and around the Khmer territory.

Epigraphy suggests that prior to Suryavarman’s reign, goods of Chinese origin had entered the Khmer core through the eastern part of the domain, as the inscriptions concentrate on commercial activities in that direction (Coedes: IC,v6; 183-86; Aymonier: 1900-1904, 443). Inscriptions from Suryavarman’s reign reverse this eastern focus, being concentrated in the western region. While the proliferation of inscriptions in the newly integrated areas is a reflection of the period’s administrative expansion, there are strong commercial implications as well.  Once the Khmer had established control in Lobpuri and areas to the south, goods brought from China to say Phanom Wan no longer needed to cross the mountains to the east. Instead, they could reach Lopburi and Phanom Wan via the Chaophraya River system, the same route being used for goods that were coming from India, Persia, and Arabia via Tambralinga. Such a direct interaction with the international routes no doubt was viewed as an asset to the internal development of the Khmer economy in Suryavarman’s time.

Pg. 182, Hall, Kenneth R., A History of Early Southeast Asia: Maritime Trade and Societal Development, 100 – 1500

These economic strong points of the Khmer Empire during the rule of Suryavarman I, could be seen in light of the economic stronghold of Rajendra Chola I across Southeast Asia. While Suryavarman I opened new trade entry points through Phimai and Lopburi, west of Angkor, one of his prime motives as the reigning Khmer Emperor was to surpass the Srivijayas and hail supreme in Southeast Asian Economic Arena. Despite two powerful trade economies – China to the north and Tamil Cholas to the far west of the Khmer Empire of the day, Suryavarman I was very active in establishing a hugely successful Khmer Commercial Presence among the immediate neighboring kingdoms of Southeast Asia, thereby dominating the trade routes of Isthmus of Kra.

The economic empowerment during his reign is also attested by the ‘large scale urbanisation’ –

epigraphy mentions only twelve place names ending in –pura, a Sanskrit term used to identify urban areas, during the reign of Jayavarman IV (928-942), twenty-four in the period of Rajendravarman II, twenty under Jayavarman V, but forty-seven – more than double those of his immediate predecessors – in the reign of Suryavarman I

Pg.320,  Hall, Kenneth R. “Khmer Commercial Development and Foreign Contacts under Sūryavarman I.” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, vol. 18, no. 3, 1975, pp. 318–336.  JSTOR link : www.jstor.org/stable/3632140.

Khlon Jnval Vanik

Another interesting phrase that might need additional analysis is ‘khlon jnval vanik’, mentioned in Khmer epigraphy. Coedes deciphers in his Inscriptions du Cambodge vol.3 (inscriptions in Prasat Prav) – the various words that refer to merchants. A few special words decoded by Coedes –

Khlon Jnval – residing vendor/local merchant

Khlon Jnval Vanik – Travelling merchant

Travan Vanik – Merchant Quarter

Vap Champa – Cham merchant

Vap China – China Trader

Pg. 321, Hall, Kenneth R. “Khmer Commercial Development and Foreign Contacts under Sūryavarman I.” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, vol. 18, no. 3, 1975, pp. 318–336. JSTOR link : www.jstor.org/stable/3632140.

As deciphered by Coedes,  ‘Vap’ could refer to a trader from a foreign country, and  ‘Vanik’ might indicate a merchant traveling throughout the territory of the Khmer ruler . According to Hall, among the inscriptions found at Vat Baset and Svay Chek (Bantay Prav), ‘Khlon Jnval’ denoting the local merchants in khmer language seem to dominate in Vat Baset, proving it to be an important local communication center; whereas Bantay Prav inscriptions show that ‘khlon jnval vanik’ denoting traveling merchant, occupies a greater place. Hence, Bantay Prav could have been an important center of communication and exchange between the Khmer core and its western provinces, with Lopburi becoming part of Khmer Land after Suryavarman I’s expansion.

Six of seven inscriptions of a commercial nature from these two temples date to Suryavarman’s reign, while the seventh, an inscription from the reign of Harshavarman III (1071), is the latest inscription examined.

Pg. 327, Hall, Kenneth R. “Khmer Commercial Development and Foreign Contacts under Sūryavarman I.” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, vol. 18, no. 3, 1975, pp. 318–336. JSTOR link:  www.jstor.org/stable/3632140.

These terms regarding inland merchants during the period from mid 10th century ACE until last few decades of 11th century ACE, signify the extensive trade within the extended Khmer Territory.

According to George Coedes –

Vanik est un mot d’emprunt Sanskrit significant ‘commercant’ that translates as –

‘Vanik’ is a borrowed word from Sanskrit which means Trader.

George Coedes, Pg. Inscriptions du Cambodge, Vol III

This comment by Coedes has made more number of scholars and researchers believe the word ‘vanik’ to be of Sanskrit origin and this fact gets repeatedly mentioned in several later research papers and articles.

Historian K.N. Shastri, in his article on the Tamil Inscriptions of 9th Century ACE, talking of merchant guild ‘Manigramam’ found in Takuapa says –

‘The Manikkiramam deriving its name ultimately from Sanskrit Vanik-gramam (guild of merchants) is a powerful mercantile corporation often mentioned in South Indian Inscriptions

Pg. 29-30, K.A.Nilakanta Sastri,Takuapa and its Tamil Inscription, Journal Malayan Branch, Vol, XXII, Pt. I

There are two points to be discussed here –

  1. Is ‘Manikkiramam’ derived from Vanik-gramam?
  2. Does the word ‘vanik’ have its root in Sanskrit as both these scholars say?

Coedes’ Inscriptions du Cambodge was published in the year 1937 and Sastri’s Takuapa article was published in Journal of Malayan Branch Royal Asiatic Society in the year 1949, though written in 1948. K.A.N. Sastri’s previous and first article on Takuapa, prior to 1949 – ‘The Takuapa Tamil Inscription’ was published in the The Journal Of Oriental Research Madras Vol. Vi, in the year 1932. It is interesting to note that the Sanskrit connection is mentioned only in the 1949 article, after the publication of Coedes’ ‘Inscriptions du Cambodge Vol. III’.

On ‘Manikkiramam’ being derived from Vanik-Gramam, and the root word of ‘Vanik’ to be from Sanskrit,  Dr. Kalaikkovan, Founder, Dr. Rajamanickanar Historical Research Centre, Thiruchirapalli opined through a telephonic conversation in May 2017-

“If the Tamil traders wanted to name their overseas merchant guild based on the word ‘Vanikar’, meaning traders/merchants in Tamil, why should they re-phrase it as Manikkiramam? They might as well have had their guild’s name ‘Vanika Gramam’, which directly specifies the term – Merchant Village. Manikkiramam could have got its name from the product that was traded – pearl or other precious stones/beads.”

This stands true from the fact that Tamizhagam had been a Buzzing Economic Centre since centuries before Common Era. Also, glassware and beads that have been excavated from Southeast Asian coastal towns especially from Malaya and Thailand testify the gem trade between the Tamils and Southeast Asian friends that flourished from Tamil Ports. It is additionally well proven from available Tamil literary sources and travelogues by foreign authors from the early centuries of the 1st millennia that the Tamil Coastal Line was a busy business haven enjoying imports and exports between the Arabs and Southeast Asians.

Trade with Southeast Asia already existed in the early historical period, the focus now (after mid 6th century ACE) shifted towards Southeast Asia, Srilanka and China. Thus the trading activities survived in the later periods. Thirdly not only the luxury goods but even the beads, either of semiprecious stones or glass, were a valuable item of trade. The central role of South India, especially Tamil Nadu, in the international gem trade has led Peter Francis (‘Early Historic South India and the International Maritime Trade’ by Peter Francis Jr.)  to call the region the “Treasure Chest of the Ancient World”.

Pg.132, Vikas Kumar Verma, Maritime Trade Between Early Historic Tamil Nadu and Southeast Asia; URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/44145830

Hence, the ambiguity regarding the word ‘Manikkiramam or Manigramam’ could be viewed wider with the merchandise of the traders  – possibly gem trade and pearl fishery which has been much prevalent between the Malayan Peninsular States and Thamizhagam.

Poetic references of ‘Vanigar’ in Early Tamil Literature

In this case, the root of the word ‘vanik’ needs more scrutiny.  A search for ‘vanik’ in early Tamil Literature gives new light to the belief of scholars. Before making its place in 11th century Khmer epigraphy, ‘vanik’ has found powerful usages in Literary Tamil Language. Before entering into ‘Bhakti Ilakkiyam’  (Saivite Devotional Hymns by Nayanmars and Vaishnavite Hymns by Alwars) which dominates 6th century ACE until 12th century ACE of Tamil Literary Scene, the Tamil Epic Silappadhikaram written in approximately the 2nd century ACE, mentions ‘Vanikar’.

1.Silappadhikaram, (first half of 2nd century ACE – according to Dr. Ma. Rajamanickanar, pg.67 Kala Araichi) the epic written by Ilangovadigal has several mentions of ‘Vanikar’  for example, ‘Aruvai Vanikar Veedhi’  denotes the Textile Merchant Street.  The protagonist of Silappadhikaram, Kovalan himself is introduced as – ‘Kovalan enbaan or vaanigan’ –  ‘A merchant named Kovalan’

‘கோவலன் என்பான் ஓர் வாணிகன்’

Additionally, Silappadhikaram mentions ‘vaniga marabu’, ‘vaanigar’, ‘vaanigan’ and ‘vaaniga peedigai’ – all these words referring to merchants. (pg.1382, Index des mots de la literature tamoule ancienne, vol.III, Institut Francais D’Indologie)

2.Moving backward in time, Thirukkural – (appr. 1st Century ACE to 3rd century ACE according to Dr. Ma. Rajamanickanar, pg.47, Kala Araichi) mentions –

வாணிகம் செய்வார்க்கு வாணிகம் பேணிப்
பிறவும் தமபோல் செயின்.

Thirukkural- 120

Naduvu Nilaimai

Vaanigam seivarkku vaanigam peni
Piravum thamapol seyin

Translation:

A thriving trader is the trader known,
Who guards another’s interests as his own.

http://www.thirukkural.com

3.Puranaanuru (3rd century BCE -3rd century ACE) mentions vanigan and vaanigan in a few poems.

i. Aravilai vanigan ai allan……. (Puram 134)

புறநானூறு 134, பாடியவர்: உறையூர் ஏணிச்சேரி முடமோசியார், பாடப்பட்டோன்: ஆய் அண்டிரன், திணை: பாடாண், துறை: இயன் மொழி
இம்மைச் செய்தது மறுமைக்கு ஆம் எனும்
அறவிலை வணிகன் ஆஅய் அல்லன்
பிறரும் சான்றோர் சென்ற நெறியென
ஆங்குப் பட்டன்று அவன் கைவண்மையே.

Puranānūru 134, Poet Uraiyūr Ēnichēri Mudamōsiyār sang for Āy Andiran, Thinai: Pādān, Thurai: Iyan Moli
Āy is not like a businessman with fair
prices who thinks that the good done in
this birth will help the next one.
His generosity is because of other noble
men before him who followed the right path!

ii.  Yaanor Vaaniga Parisilan Allen ….(Puram 208)

புறநானூறு 208, பாடியவர்: பெருஞ்சித்திரனார், பாடப்பட்டோன்: அதியமான் நெடுமான் அஞ்சி, திணை: பாடாண், துறை: பரிசில்

குன்றும் மலையும் பல பின் ஒழிய
வந்தனென் பரிசில் கொண்டனென் செலற்கு என
நின்ற என் நயந்து அருளி ஈது கொண்டு
ஈங்கனம் செல்க தான் என என்னை
யாங்கு அறிந்தனனோ தாங்க அருங் காவலன்
காணாது ஈத்த இப்பொருட்கு யானோர்
வாணிகப் பரிசிலன் அல்லேன் பேணித்
தினை அனைத்து ஆயினும் இனிது அவர்
துணை அளவு அறிந்து நல்கினர் விடினே.

Puranānūru 208, Poet: Perunchitharanār sang for Athiyamān Nedumān Anji, Thinai: Pādān, Thurai: Parisil
When I stood there and said that I have crossed many
hills and mountains to come to him for a reward, he
showed me great kindness and asked me to take what
I wanted, this king who is difficult to withstand
by his enemies.

I am not like a merchant who considers these gifts
as merchandise
, to take gifts which are given without
being seen.  It would be sweet if he knows my worth
and gives me a gift, even if it were tiny like millet!

https://sangamtranslationsbyvaidehi.com/ettuthokai-purananuru-201-300/

4.Paripadal Thirattu (3rd century BCE – 3rd century ACE) mentions ‘Vanigar’/merchants – the plural of vanigan/merchant –

ஆங்கு ஒரு சார் உண்ணுவ பூசுவ பூண்ப உடுப்பவை
மண்ணுவ மணி பொன் மலைய கடல்
பண்ணியம் மாசு அறு பயம் தரு காருகப்
புண்ணிய வணிகர் புனை மறுகு ஒருசார் . . . 25

on one side, there are decorated streets with shops
where faultless, honest merchants sell food,
fragrant smearing pastes, ornaments, clothes, bright
gems and gold brought from the mountains and ocean.

sangamtamil/paripadal

5.The earliest mention till today is from the earliest Grammar Work available in Tamil Language – Tolkappiyam (3rd – 4th century BCE)

Vaisiyar perume vaniga vaazhkkai (tholkappiyam, poruladhikaram, 622)

http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/77849/8/08_chapter2.pdf

The term ‘vanik’ that denotes merchants is available in Tamil Literary texts as early as 3rd Century BCE. This literary evidence that proves the usage of a particular word in a particular language, earlier than other languages, especially before Common Era and its continuous usage through several centuries across the next millenium- proves the root word of ‘Vanik’ need not be Sanskrit but most probably Tamil. The word ‘vanik’ seen in Khmer epigraphy from 10th to 11th Century ACE, also proves the continuity of the well established links of the Tamil traders which is known from travel notes of foreign authors-  from as early as the last few centuries Before Common Era (Dr. Ma. Rajamanickanar on Periplus notes (70-100 ACE)  on Chola Trade, pg. 106,  Cholar Varalaaru) and literary evidences (Tamil Epics Silappadhikaram and Manimekalai that speak of Chola Maritime Trade with Western and Eastern countries in 2nd century ACE). The Takuapa Tamil Inscriptions in Thailand, the earliest epigraphic evidence of maritime tamil traders guild in Southeast Asia,  provide clues to the continuous link of Tamil Vanigars/Traders from early centuries to the final centuries of the millennium. The Khmer Rulers, who have used the same word to denote the same group, which is merchants in their epigraphy, is yet again a proof of the powerful commercial activities of the Tamil Merchants, especially during the reign of Rajaraja I and his son Rajendra I, contemporary Tamil Empires of Suryavarman I.

Names of poets prefixed with Vanigar in Early Tamil Literature

The usages of ‘vanigan’ in Sangam Tamil Literature were seen above.  Additionally, the huge collection of poems of the Sangam Tamil Age mentions the community to which few of the several poets belonged to. Among those, in the context of ‘vanigar- merchant’, in Purananuru, Agananuru and Mullaipaatu – below mentioned poets have their specific trades/merchandises prefixed to their names:

Purananuru-

Poem  59 – written by Madurai Koola vaanigan Seethalai Saathanar – Seethalai Saathanar – Grain merchant of Madurai

Poem 264 – written by Uraiyur Ilampon Vaniganar – Gold merchant of Uraiyur

Poem 329 – written by Madurai Aruvai Vaanigar Ilavettanar – Ilavettanar – Textile merchant of Madurai

Agananuru-

Poem 298 – written by Madurai Panda Vaanigan Ilanthevanar – Ilanthevanar – Grocery merchant of Madurai

Mullaippaattu written by Kaviripoom pattinathu Ponvaniganaar maganaar nappoodhanar – Nappoodhanar – son of Gold merchant of Kaviripoom pattinam

‘Vanigan’ in Early Tamil-Brahmi Inscriptions in Tamilnadu

Apart from these names, one of the earliest of the Tamil-Brahmi Inscriptions found at Madurai Azhagar/Alagar Malai and Pugalur also finds mention of ‘vanikan’.

1.Madurai Azhagarmalai inscriptions – early Tamil Brahmi Script, that dates between 3rd century BCE and 1st century ACE (acc. to Iravatham Mahadevan)

refer – பழந்தமிழ்க் கல்வெட்டுகள் – மா. இலாவண்யா

(Pazhanthamizh Kalvettukkal –www.varalaaru.com/design/article.aspx?ArticleID=866)

Upu vanigan viyagan – salt merchant

Panitha vanigan nedumalan – sugarmerchant (according to Iravatham Mahadevan) or edible camphor merchant (according to Mayilai Cheeni Venkatasamy)

Kolu vanigan elasanthan – plough merchant (according to Iravatham Mahadevan) or Iron merchant (according to Ra. Nagasamy)

Refer –தமிழ் பிராமி கல்வெட்டுகள் காட்டும் தமிழகச் சமூகப் பொருளாதார நிலை’- தி. ஸ்ரீ. ஸ்ரீதர்  – (‘The Socio-Economic Life of the Tamils through Tamil-Brahmi Inscriptions by Sridhar)

2.Inscriptions from Pugalur Jain Temple –  later Tamil-Brahmi Script that dates between 2nd century ACE and 4th century ACE (acc. to Iravatham Mahadevan)  (www.varalaaru.com/design/article.aspx?ArticleID=866)

Karuvur Pon vanigan nathi adhittanam – Gold merchant from Karuvur

Ennai Vanigan veni aadhan adhittanam – Oil merchant

www.tamilvu.org/tdb/titles_cont/inscription/html/pukalur.htm

These early Commom Era inscriptions again refer to traders of different commodities.

These literary and epigraphic evidences in Tamil that show the usage of ‘vanikar’ and that dates from a time span extending from 4th century BCE (tolkappiyam) to 3rd century ACE, are enough proof for the roots of the word to have originated from Tamil Language. With no available literary/epigraphic evidence earlier than these, until a proven evidence of its usage is available in any other contemporary language – it is logical and indeed valid to claim the word could have its roots in Tamil.

With both the terms, ‘vanigar’ and ‘vanika’ denoting merchants or traders been found mentioned in Sangam Tamil Literature and in Tolkappiyam – the oldest Tamil Grammar text found till today, ‘vanik’ could not possibly have its roots in Sanskrit. Apart from the root of the word, its usage in Tamil Literature associated with Tamil Economic activities, that is similar to denote economic activities in Khmer Land, a millenium later, when the Tamil Cholas were at their ‘Vanik’ best in Southeast Asia is certainly an element for further critical research.

Literature centuries before Common Era, systematic Grammar of the language to produce such mature literature and a well established civilisation to cultivate long routed economic activities and strong rooted cultural reciprocities, the Tamils have left behind enough and abundant documentation through literature and epigraphy, the proof of their influences far and wide. It is for the learned scholarly world to recognise or wait for search of more evidences.

Hundreds of centuries with limited evidences – literary, epigraphic and sculptural, History finds its decisions mostly in Probability. As mentioned in the previous posts, with an open-mind to accept new discoveries that would answer satisfactorily various ambiguities in history, with the same theory of Probability as per available evidences till today, this is an honest view on the Tamil and Khmer connection of the word ‘vanikar’ (available in khmer epigraphy as ‘vanik’) which means traders/merchants.

Now, we come back to usage of the same word ‘vanik’ meaning traders/merchants in Khmer epigraphy during the reign of Suryavarman I. The terms ‘khlon vanik’ and ‘khlon jnval vanik’ meaning resident merchants and travelling merchants respectively as quoted by Kenneth Hall from George Coedes, should be seen in the light of Khmer economic development at its expansive best and political and economic stronghold of the Cholas in Southeast Asia under Rajendra I at all time high sidelining Srivijayas. Additionally, a wider view of the Tamil word ‘vanikan’ available in early Tamil Literary sources, would provide evidences of the comfortable positions enjoyed by Tamil Trader Settlements across centuries, not to ignore the Pallava influences seen in ancient provinces of today’s Thailand.

The chart below provides information on the mention of the word ‘vanik’ in khmer epigraphy-

 

pg.177, Eileen Lustig, Money doesn’t make the world go round: Angkor’s non-monetisation, Economic Development, Integration, and Morality in Asia and the Americas – edited by Donald C. Wood

It can also be seen that Vat Baset inscriptions under Suryavarman I leads in numbers. It is also to be noted that the term ‘vanijam’ inscribed previously in 8th century ACE undergoes a change in ‘vanik’ from the 10th and 11th century ACE inscriptions – a closer similarity to ‘vanikar’ of Tamil Language.

Using services of merchants towards temple donations is a prevalent norm even today. Kings have always had close links with merchants and their community for religious and cultural innovations through Temples, which could be done easily with the wealth accumulated by and from the traders. Khmer rulers couldn’t have chosen a different path and Khmer epigraphy provides abundant evidences to this.

Elaborating on the chariot sent by Suryavarman I to Rajendra Chola I, and the Chola raids on Srivijaya, Kenneth Hall reiterates Coedes’ words –

Coedes stated that the Chola expedition led to the reintroduction of Khmer influence in the isthmian region during the second quarter of the century

Pg. 332, Hall, Kenneth R. “Khmer Commercial Development and Foreign Contacts under Sūryavarman I.” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, vol. 18, no. 3, 1975, pp. 318–336. JSTOR link:  www.jstor.org/stable/3632140.

He adds,

It is the author’s belief that the gifts given to Rajendra by Suryavarman were not intended to “save his own kingdom”, but to establish a friendly trade relationship between Cambodia and Chola ports.

Pg. 334, Hall, Kenneth R. “Khmer Commercial Development and Foreign Contacts under Sūryavarman I.” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, vol. 18, no. 3, 1975, pp. 318–336. JSTOR link:  www.jstor.org/stable/3632140.

This core emphasis on victorious trade accomplishments of the Khmer Empire under Suryavarman I along the Isthmus of Kra, with the cordial relations of Tamil Cholas could well have contributed to the upsurge and higher influential positions of the Tamil Traders or ‘Vanik’ settled in Khmer territory. This upsurge in the positions of Tamil Traders could have further proved as a catalystic aid in the inclusion of the sculpture of Tamil Saint Karaikkal Ammai in Khmer Temples in Cambodia and north-east Thailand. An important fact here – Karaikkal Ammai, the demon devotee of Lord Shiva from the Tamil country, also belonged to the same ‘Vanigar’(tamil) – trader – ‘vanik’ (khmer) community in 6th century Thamizhagam.

It can be stated rather unambiguously that Karaikkal Ammai – the Pioneer Tamil Saint and Poetess of the Saivite Bhakti Movement in Tamil Land, who belonged to the Vanigar/Vanik/Trader community, would have been the star religious Ambassador for the Tamil Trader Settlements living in far eastern countries – including the land of focus of this research – Khmer Land under Suryavarman I.

References

  1. Mitch Hendrickson, Old Myths and New Approaches – Interpreting Ancient Sites in Southeast Asia
  2. George Coedes, Three Great Kings, The Indianized states of Southeast Asia
  3. Noburu Karashima and Y. Subbarayalu, Ancient and Medieval Tamil and Sanskrit Inscriptions
  4. Hall, Kenneth R. “A History of Early Southeast Asia: Maritime Trade and Societal Development, 100 – 1500”
  5. Hall, Kenneth R. “Khmer Commercial Development and Foreign Contacts under Sūryavarman I.” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, vol. 18, no. 3, 1975JSTOR.
  6. George Coedes, Inscriptions du Cambodge, Vol III
  7. K.A.Nilakanta Sastri,Takuapa and its Tamil Inscription, Journal Malayan Branch, Vol, XXII, Pt. I
  8. Vikas Kumar Verma, Maritime Trade Between Early Historic Tamil Nadu and Southeast Asia
  9. Index des mots de la literature tamoule ancienne, vol.III, Institut Francais D’Indologie
  10. Dr. Ma. Rajamanickanar, Kala Araichi
  11. Dr. Ma. Rajamanickanar, Cholar Varalaaru
  12. மா. இலாவண்யா , பழந்தமிழ்க் கல்வெட்டுகள்
    Ma. Lavanya, Article : Pazhanthamizh Kalvettukkal, Varalaaru.com
  13. தி. ஸ்ரீ. ஸ்ரீதர் , தமிழ் பிராமி கல்வெட்டுகள் காட்டும் தமிழகச் சமூகப் பொருளாதார நிலை in Keetru.com – (‘The Socio-Economic Life of the Tamils through Tamil-Brahmi Inscriptions by Sridhar)
  14. Eileen Lustig, Money doesn’t make the world go round: Angkor’s non-monetisation, Economic Development, Integration, and Morality in Asia and the Americas – edited by Donald C. Wood
  15. Recueil des inscriptions du Siam, Part II, Inscriptions of Dvaravati, Srivijaya and Lavo by Coedes
  16. Mohamed Nazar, M , Arab trade and traders in the Pandya country – thesis submitted to Manonmaniam Sundaranar University
  17. Dr. S. Sivasankaran, “State of Handloom Weavers, Weaving and Fabric in Tamilnadu Through the Ages”, International Journal of Interdisciplinary Research in Arts and Humanities, Volume 1, Issue 1, Page Number 95-103, 2016.

 

Web links

  1. Old Myths and New Approaches Interpreting Ancient Religious Sites in Southeast Asia
  2. http://www.sac.or.th/databases/inscriptions/
  3. https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4141418
  4. https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14719726
  5. www.jstor.org/stable/3632140.
  6. http://www.jstor.org/stable/44145830
  7. http://sangam.tamilnlp.com/cilappatikaaram
  8. https://learnsangamtamil.com/
  9. http://www.thirukkural.com/
  10. https://sangamtranslationsbyvaidehi.com/ettuthokai-purananuru-201-300/
  11. http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/77849/8/08_chapter2.pdf
  12. www.varalaaru.com/design/article.aspx?ArticleID=866
  13. Keetru.com/index.php/2014-03-08-04-39-26/2014-03-14-11-17-85/19346-2012
  14. www.tamilvu.org/tdb/titles_cont/inscription/html/pukalur.htm
  15. http://www.persee.fr/docAsPDF/befeo_0336-1519_1929_num_29_1_3297.pdf
  16. http://hdl.handle.net/10603/61422
  17. Link to Takuapa and Tamil Inscription by KAN. Shastri in the Journal of Oriental Research, Madras Vol Vi, 1932 – https://archive.org/stream/in.ernet.dli.2015.283291/2015.283291.The-Journal#page/n357/mode/2up