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...

There are many controversies about the period of Uthiyan’s life and administration. According to Sangam literary sources, Utiyan Ceralatan was a contemporary of Pandavas and Kauravas. The references about the Kings from South India and their participation in the Kurukshetra war are available in the Mahabharata. But, there is no any solid reference to prove that Uthiyan also participated in the war. Even though, it is clear that this is an epic related myth, a few historians accepting it as a real incident. But majority of the historians discarded this argument about the period of Utiyan. Some of their opinions about the period of Uthiyan Cheralathan are discussed here.

According to Attoor Krishnapisharody, there were many kings who ruled ancient Kerala with a honorary name“Perumals”. They ruled here from BCE 113(Kali year 2988) and continued till 750 years.[1] There were totally 36 Perumals and the first of them was “Udyan Banavarma Perumal”. His full name was “Udayan Banavarman Ceramanatan” and also famous as “Udayan Perumal”. He made “Tiruvancikkulam” as his capital city.[2] From then, that place was celebrated in the name “Mahodayapuram”.[3] He was more famous as a pacifier than a fighter.[4] After commending his power to his son Imayavarman, he reached netherworld in 101BCE (Kali year 3000).[5]

According to the view points of Kuruppamveetil K.N Gopalapillai, an archaeologist, Utiyan was a contemporary to Krishnaand the Pandavas.[6] He referred the king by the name “Udayanakulashekhara Perumal”.Prof. Elamkulam P.N Kunjan Pillai assumed that 5th CE century might be the beginning era of ancient Cera dynasty.[7] But, available sources points that the establishment of first Cera dynasty was approximately in the 1st century of CE.

According to Kaviyoor Murali, there is a possible way to calculate Uthiyan’s period from the Patirrupatt. The text gives the names and ruling period of the Cera kings of Atan branch in the following way-

Name of the King Ruling Period
1. Anonymous -………
2. Imayavaramban Netum Ceralatan -58 years
3. Palyanai Celkezhu Kuttuvan -25 years
4. Kalankai Kanni Narmuti Ceral -25 years
5. Ceran Cenkuttuvan) -55 years


The total ruling time of these four kings is 163 years. From the given list, it can be assumed that average ruling period of Utiyan Ceralatan was 40 years.[8] Moreover, Kaviyoor Murali clarifies this by analyzing the reference seen in the Ashoka inscriptions. According to him, possibly “the reference “Keralaputo”in the Ashoka dictum mentions about the second Cera King Netumceralatan, the son of Utiyanceral. He might be a contemporary of Ashoka Maurya supposed to rule his dynasty during 260th BCE. Infer Uthiyan Cheralathan took an average time of 40 years to expand his kingdom and ruling; then add these forty years with 260 BCE. Consequently, the beginning stage of Cera dynasty and reign of Utiyan Ceralatan can be reckoned as 300BCE. Otherwise, if it is supposed that Utiyan took at least 25 years to expand his kingdom; possibly the Sangam poet Muranciyur Mutinakarayar composed his poem to admire the king in BCE 275.”[9]

According to K.G Sesha Aiyar, the period of Utiyanceral can consider as 8th CE.[10] N. Subrahmanyam commented that the period of Utiyanceral’s dawning was on 25th CE.[11] Kerala historian K.K Kochu also accepts this comment about Utiyanceral’s reign.[12]

“Veliyan Venmal[13] ” Nallini was the wife of Utiyan Ceralatan. She was the daughter of a “Vel”named “Tittan”. The second Patikam of Patirrupattu indicates that Imayavarampan Netumceralatan was the son of Uthiyan Cheralathan and Nallini.

manniyaperumpukazhmaruvilvaymozhi
innicaimuracin utiyan cerarkku
veliyan Venmal Nalliniyintamakal
amaivaralaruviyimayamvirporitu
[14]

Translation-

He was born to King UthiyanCheral
And VenmalClan Queen Nallini.[15]

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

Attoor Krishnapisharody, Kerala Charithram (part-1), (Thrissur: published by the author, 1932), 28

[2]:

Idem

[3]:

Capital of the Second Chera Dynasty.

[4]:

Idem

[5]:

Ibid, p. 31

[6]:

Pillai Gopala K. N, Keralamaha Charitram, (Cochin: Reddiar Publishers, 1948), 20.

[7]:

Elamkulam Kunjan Pillai P.N., AnnatteKeralam, (Published by the Author, Kottayam: Distributed by National Book Stall, April 1970), 58

[8]:

Kaviyoor Murali, PurananooruOruPaddanam, (Kottayam: DC Books, 1999), 25.

[9]:

Idem.

[10]:

Sesha Aiyyar K.G., Cera Kings of the Sangam Period, (London: Luzac& Co., 1937), 4.

[11]:

Kochu K.K., Kerala Caritravum Samuharupikaranavum, (Thiruvananthapuram: Keralabhasha Institute, March 2012)103

[12]:

Idem

[13]:

Vel (a landlord) + Mal (daughter) = Venmal.

[14]:

Patirrupattu, (tr. Malayalam), 45.

[15]:

Patirrupattu, Patikam 2, Translated by Vaidehi

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