Early Chola Temples

by S. R. Balasubrahmanyam | 1960 | 105,501 words

This volume of Chola Temples covers Parantaka I to Rajaraja I in the timeframe A.D. 907-985. The Cholas of Southern India left a remarkable stamp in the history of Indian architecture and sculpture. Besides that, the Chola dynasty was a successful ruling dynasty even conquering overseas regions....

Rajakesari Gandaraditya was the son of Parantaka I who ascended the throne after the death of Rajaditya at Takkolam. He is said to have founded a big village after his own name in the region on the north bank of the Kollidam (Coleroon). He is the author of Tiru-visaippa. He seems to have had a scholarly and spiritual bent of mind. The epithet applied to him ‘Merkirun-darulinadevar’ (540 of 1920) would suggest that he perhaps did penance and fasted unto death in order to gain final emancipation from worldly bonds. His son was Madhurantaka Uttama Chola.

The Larger Leyden grant makes only a brief reference to him. He is said to be of powerful arms and famous as Mahendra (Indra) and to have protected the earth which had the ocean for its girdle.

The Tiruvalangadu Copper Plates are more explicit. They furnish the following particulars:

“Though requested by his subjects (to occupy the Chola throne) in order to destroy the persistently blinding darkness of the powerful Kali age, Arumoli-devan (the future Rajaraja I), who understood the essence of royal conduct, desired not the kingdom for himself even in his mind, while his paternal uncle coveted his dominions.”

Madhurantaka is said to have felt that Arumolidevan was the very incarnation of Vishnu himself, and so installed him heir-apparent, while he Himself bore the burden of ruling the earth.

And verse 71 of the Plates states: “Applying his mind to the devotion of Sarva (Siva), utilising his wealth in the act of performing His worship, employing all his retinue in the construction of Houses (Temples)

for Him, and directing his subjects to regularly perform His festive processions, showing his wrath only in the killing of enemies, and distributing of his riches among various brahmans, king Madhurantaka bore on his broad shoulders the burden of the earth.”

The daughter of Malavarayan, the queen of Gandara-ditya, and the mother of Uttama Chola was Parantakan Madevadigal alias Sembiyan Mahadeviyar. She seems to have lived to a good old age. Widowed early in her life, she led a dedicated life; and for nearly sixty years, she devoted her unrivalled energy and enormous wealth in erecting new temples, renovating old ones and enriching them with costly gifts and large endowments. She founded a new village which is named after her. One of her earliest gifts is made to the temple at Uyyakkondan Tirumalai in the 34th year of Parantaka I (A.D.941),and her building of the temple at Tiruvakkarai of stone is mentioned in an inscription of the 16th year of Rajaraja I (a.d.1001). Her devotion and piety was catching and her noble example was followed by her son, Uttama Chola, his queens, other relatives and by various royal officers and subjects. She is the noblest among the royal ladies who adorned the early Chola age.

Sembiyan Mahadevi

A.R. no. 503 of 1929-30

Valappurnadu—Namakkal taluk, Salem dist.

On the door-jamb (right of the entrance) of the central shrine of the Arapallisvara temple.

16 year of Parakesarivarman (Uttama Chola): Pirantakan Madevadigal alias Sembiyan Madeviyar the mother of Gandan Madhurantaka alias Uttama Chola deva deposited 100 kalanju of gold with the urar of certain specified villages in Kollimalainadu, for meeting the expenses of monthly sankramanas in the temple of Tiruvarappalli-Alvar on the Kollimalai, the urar agreeing to pay the monthly interest to the Sabha.

A.R. no. 251 of 1929-30

Taramangalam—Lalgudy taluk, Trichy dist. Samavedisvara temple (On the south wall of the central shrine) In the 15th year Rajaraja Rajakesarivarman (I) a gift of land by purchase made tax-free, is given to the temple of Parasuramesvara at Taramangalam a brahmadeya in miguru of Kilar Kottam in Vadagarai—Malanadu by Parantakan Madevadigal alias Sembiyan Mahadeviyar, the mother of Uttama Chola for a perpetual lamp in the temple and for special sacred bath of the deity on certain specified days of the year.

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