Annadatri-carita (study)

by Sarannya V. | 2020 | 34,082 words

This study analyzes the Annadatri-Carita: an epic poem connected with a regional history written by Prof. K Balarama Panicker. The plot of the drama is based on a Sangam period myth connected with the epic Mahabharata. The author introduces Utiyan Ceralatan as Vancishvara, an ancestor of the last Travancore ruler named Chithira Thirunal Balarama Va...

8. The South Indian representation in Kurukshetra war

Many dynasties in India have claimed their heredity with epics or any other divine background. In the north the King Udayana[1] of Kaushambi[2] was assert as from the clan of Pandavas particularly Arjuna. According to a popular myth, Udayana belongs to the 25th generation from Abhimanyu, the son of Arjuna and Subhadra. Similarly every kingdoms of south India acclaimed themselves with their relation with either Solar or lunar clan. The Harivamsha, a portion of Mahabharata gives the genealogy of the South Indian kingdoms which started from Turvasu. From Turvasu, the name of the 6th generation king was Maruttan. His adopted son Dushyanta’sdescendants Bharata and Andhra were born from his second wife Shakuntala. The Pandya, Cola, Kerala and Karnata (Kuntala) were the sons of Andhra. These princes established the Pandya, Cola, Kerala and Karnataka clans respectively.[3]

Among the south Indian dynasties the Ceras was a prominent and ancient one. Historically, the origin of ancient Ceras is not yet declared undoubtedly. But the most accepted period is last three centuries up to the first centuries of Common Era. Like the Pandyas, Ceras also asserts the relationship with Pandavas with the story of great feeding.According to a popular myth, the Cera King Utiyan Ceralatan provided food for the entire army involved in the Kurukshetra war throughout the eighteen days without any favouritism. Consequently, he became famous in the name “Perumcorrutiyan” which means the “Great feeder”. The term “Perumcorru” denotes the food of soldiers at the time of a war.[4] It means that the battle of Kurukshetra was well known to ancient Ceras even though the epic did not refer about any King who served food in the war.

Obviously Mahabharata itself had a statement that South Indian kings were participated in the battle of Kurukshetra. The Pandya king Sharngadhwaja[5] who residing near the sea joined with Yudhishthira with an ample army.[6]

[...][7]

Then, the Pandya king, who residing near the sea approached Yudhishthira with different group of warriors. His army will be very strong in the war.

Another reference about this Pandya king by Bhishma, when he analyzed the warriors of Pandavas.

[...][8]

That Pandya King, the hero of Pandava side is enough is a good fighter.

Analysing from these references, it is clear that there is nothing can identify relating the participation of Utiyan Ceralatan in the war and the myth of grand feast in the Kurukshetra war. Actually, this is a beautiful concept about the donation of food in a Warfield. Because, people always interested to praise the bravery of warriors in the wars and no one cares about this type of efforts in a Warfield. Perhaps, this may be reason for the popularity of this myth in the Sangam period.

Hence, almost all the renowned historians are discarding this myth of grand feast in kurukshetra war. According to them, it may have moulded from a historic incident linked with the epic story. Some of their opinions are discussed here:

K.G Sesha Aiyar opines that, this myth of perumcorru can be considered as a memorial offering to Utiyan Ceralatan’s ancestors who might be participated in the Kurukshetra war.[9] He also referred that Pandit R.Raghava Iyengar of Ramnad also seems to hold that view.

According to A. Sreedhara Menon the reference about the great feeding in Purananuru may be considered as a addition in later period.[10] Elamkulam P.N Kunjan Pillai also have the same opinion about this myth.[11] Scholars like Srinivasa Iyengar and S. Vayyapuri Pillai have refuted that Utiyan Ceralatan was a contemporary to Pandavas and Kauravas. M.E. Manickavasagam Pillai includes this story into the group of Epic related Sangam myth.

According to Melengath Narayanankutti, this Perumcorru story can interpret in two types. In the first interpretation, the term Pericorru indirectly represents the establishment of goddess Durga in the Chottanikkara temple (C.E. 410)[12]. The Udayamberur-Trikkakara-Trippunithura region had the name “Kurunat”in the early Sangam Period. Chottanikkara village was included in this “Kuru”region. “Chottu” from Chottanikkara, the term “Udaya” from Udayamperur and “Kuru” of Kurunat etc. connected with the “Arakkilla” story of Thrikkakara in the Sangam period and it transmuted as the story related with the Kurukshetra war[13].

The second interpretation is related to the clash between Rattar and Ganga clan. The Ratta clan existed in the “Uduvanka”[14] region which was included in the “Konnunat”. They were also well-known as “Nurruvar Kannar” (Shatakarni). They are also referred in the Skandapurana as “Bana clan”. They failed in a war with the Ganga clan. These Ganga clans had relationship with ancient Ceras. Muranciyur Mutinakarayar might have been symbolised this war between the Gangas (Pandavas) and Rattas (Kaurava) with the simile of the Kurukshetra war. Because of this, Mutinakarayar might be created the poem fourty years after the demise of Utiyan Ceralatan (C.E 464).[15]

Thus the great feeding story also made controversies between the history and myth. It also remains the question that why did this story co-related with the epic war and what was its purpose?

The next chapter discusses about the references from history and literatureabout Utiyan Ceralatan, the hero of the myth of the grand feast the first documented Cera ruler.

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

Udayana, the son of King Sahasranika and Mrigavati was popular in ancient folklores and Brihadkatha. He was renowned as the most popular king of Vatsarajya. His birth was occurred in the place Udayadri, consequently he was named as Udyana. Udayana was depicted as a charming personality and expert in the musical instruments, particularly chord (Vina) named“Ghoshavati”. Vasavadatta of Ujjayini and Padmavati from Magadha were the prominent consorts of him. The dramas like Svapnavasavadattam, Pratijnayaugandharayanam etc. by Bhasa are depicts the story of Udayana and his Queens. Moreover, the Ratnavali and Priyadarshika natikas of Sriharsha are the other famous works depicting the story of Udayana.

[2]:

There were 16 “Janapadas” or kingdoms occurred in ancient India. The Vatsa Kingdome was one among them. Its capital was Kaushambi, in the banks of river Ganges. At present ancient Kaushambi identified as located near Allahabad.

[3]:

Gopinatahan R., Keralathanima, (Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Bhasha Institute, 2013), 76

[4]:

Melengath Narayanankutti, Samghasahitya Caritram, (Thiruvananthapuram:Kerala Bhasha Institute, January 2003),167.

[5]:

The Mahabharata’s Socio Cultural Impact In India, An seminar by Michel Domino, Presented at a seminar on The Mahabharata: Its Historicity, Antiquity, Evolution &; Impact on Civilization, New Delhi, 26 & 27 April 2012

[6]:

Vidwan Prakasam K, Vyasamahabharatham (gadyam), Kottayam: Vidyarthi Mithram Press & Book, November 2002, 621,

[7]:

Sukthankar S. Vishnu, The Mahabharata Critical Edition (udyogaparva), Poona: Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, 1942. 751

[8]:

Idem.

[9]:

K.G Sesha Aiyar, Cera Kings of Sangam Period, (London: Luzac & Co., 1937), 7

[10]:

A. Sreedhara Menon, Keralacharitram, (Kottayam: DC Books, December 2011), 66.

[11]:

Elamkulam P.N. Kunjan Pillai, Annathe Keralam, (Published by the author, April 1970), 4.

[12]:

Melengath Narayanankutti, Samghasahitya Caritram, (Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Bhasha Institute, January 2003), 163.

[13]:

Idem.

[14]:

Present Satyamangalam town.

[15]:

Melengath Narayanankutti, Samghasahitya Caritram, (Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Bhasha Institute, January 2003), 164.

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