Middle Chola Temples

by S. R. Balasubrahmanyam | 1975 | 141,178 words

This volume of Chola Temples covers Rajaraja I to Kulottunga I in the timeframe A.D. 985-1070. 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....

3. Images set up by his Queens

Among the queens of Rajaraja I who find repeated mention in the inscriptions of the period are Loga Mahadevi also known as Danti Sakti Vitanki who was his principal queen, Panchavan Mahadevi, Chola Mahadevi, Prithivi Mahadevi, Trailokya Mahadevi, Abhimana Valli and Ilada Mahadevi. Each of them took her legitimate share in the raising of the Rajarajesvaram temple by casting metallic images and making gifts of ornaments as well as provision for proper worship to them.

(A) Loga Mahadevi: the Chief Queen of Rajaraja I

1. Pichcha Devar

The chief among them, Loga Mahadevi Danti Sakti Vitanki, is best remembered as the one who apart from making her own contribution to the growth of art during this period of great dynamism, built the Vada Kailasam at Tiruvaiyaru. She performed the hiranya-garbha ceremony in the Siva temple at Tiruvisalur; a portrait sculpture of the pair is etched on the southern wall of the temple of Siva-yoga-natha-svamin there. She also built a shrine for Kshetrapala devar in the temple of Kapardisvara at Tiruvalanjuli (ARE 633 of 1902).

Apart from these, she made extensive gifts to the Rajara-jesvaram temple. She gave a copper image of Pichcha Devar (Bhikshatana Devar) to this temple (SII, II, 9), some time before the twenty-ninth year of Rajaraja I. We get confirmation of this donation from another record of the twenty-ninth year of Rajaraja I (SII, II, 34) which mentions, inter alia, the setting up of this image of Pichcha Devar before the twenty-ninth year of Rajaraja I by Loga Mahadevi, the consort of “our lord Sri Rajaraja Devar” and enumerates the gifts made by her of ornaments and vessels of gold and silver.

This image is described as having four arms and standing on a pair of (wooden) sandals (tiru-adi-nilai) with an attendant deity, viz., one solid goblin (bhuta) standing near this image and holding a vessel for offerings (bali pat, one solid antelope (maan) standing near this image, one pedestal (upapitham) on which the image stood, set with jewels, and one solid aureola, encircling the deity, consisting of two pillars (toranak-kal) and the linking crescent-shaped upper element (ardhachandra).

(B) Queen Panchavan Mahadevi[1]

1. Tanjai-Alagar
2. Uma Paramesvari (Siva’s Consort)
3. Ganapati
4. Saint Patanjali

Panchavan Mahadevi gave a gift consisting of one solid copper image of Siva bearing the sacred name of Tanjai-Alagar having four divine arms; Muyalakan lying recumbent at the sacred foot on which the Lord stood; one lotus on which this image stood, set with jewels; one solid image of His Consort Uma Paramesvari with a lotus on which this image stood, set with jewels; one pedestal on which the Lord and His Consort stood; and one solid aureola encircling the two deities, consisting of two ornamented pillars and the ardhachandra upper element connecting the two (SII, II, 51). Besides, her gifts included one solid Ganapati in a standing pose having four divine arms, and the lotus on which he stood, set with jewels, one pedestal and one solid aureola framing the icon. The same queen also gave (SII, II, 53), before the twenty-ninth year of Rajaraja I, one solid image of the saint Patanjali devar shown with a human body above the navel and three serpentine coils below the navel; the five-headed serpent hood formed an umbrella over the head of the icon; he had a crown (makuta) and two arms; also there was a lotus seat (padma-asana), set with jewels, on which he sat and one solid aureola covering this image; besides, she endowed this image with innumerable gifts of gold flowers, sacred ear-rings, arm-bands and so forth.

(C) Queen Chola Mahadevi

1. Adavallar and
2. Uma Paramesvari
3. Rishabhavahana Devar and
4. His Consort
5. Ganapati

Chola Mahadevi, one of the principal queens of Rajaraja I gave, before his twenty-ninth year, a gift of one solid image of Adavallar, having four divine arms, with the image of Ganga-bhattaraki on the braided hair, nine braids of hair (jata) and seven flower garlands in between (poo-malai?), along with an image of Muyalakan lying at the feet of the Lord; one lotus on which this image stood set with jewels, one pedestal, one solid aureola, one solid image of His Consort Uma Paramesvari with a lotus on which her image stood, set with jewels; one pedestal on which this stood; and one solid aureola; to these two images of Adavallar and Uma Paramesvari, she made innumerable gifts consisting of a string of round beads, a spiral with stones, strings with pearls and many others (SII, II, 42).

Chola Mahadevi also set up in the temple the following other copper images; one solid image of Rishabhavahana Devar having four divine arms, one lotus on which this image stood, set with jewels, one solid image of His Consort Uma Paramesvari, one lotus on which this image stood, one bull (rishabha) partially solid and partially hollow, one pedestal on which the God, His Consort and the bull stood, one solid aureola encircling all three and consisting of two ornamented pillars and one ardhachandra linking the two; one solid image of Ganapati, one lotus on which this image stood, set with jewels, one pedestal and one solid aureola to cover this image. To these images she made extensive gifts enumerated in the inscription (SII, II, 46).

(D) Queen Prithivi Mahadevi

1. Srikanthamurti and Parvati

Prithivi Mahadevi, one of the queens of Rajaraja I presented an image of Srikanthamurti to the Rajarajesvaram temple before the twenty-ninth year of Rajaraja I. This image represents Siva swallowing the poison halahala, but holding it in his throat, thus acquiring the name of Nilakantha (the blue-throated); the Karanagama gives the inconographic characteristics of Siva in this form as having one face, three eyes, braided hair, and four arms with the upper holding the antelope and the axe, while the poison is held in a cup in the right lower hand. Left of the image is the icon of Parvati shown with two arms. Inscription SII, II, 82 gives details of the gifts of ornaments, vessels etc. given to this image and the Consort.

(E) Queen Trailokya Mahadevi

1. Kalyanasundarar and Uma Paramesvari, with Vishnu and Brahma.

Before the twenty-ninth year of Rajaraja I, his queen Trailokya Mahadevi set up copper images of Siva under the name of Kalyanasundarar, of his Consort Uma Paramesvari and of Vishnu and Brahma represented as worshipping the main image. We gather that these were set up by her, from an inscription of the tenth year of Rajendra Choladeva (SII, II, 11). Here is a description of the deities: one solid image of Kalyanasundarar having four divine arms with one lotus on which this image stood, set with jewels; one pedestal on which the God and His Consort stood, one solid aureola covering the God and His Consort consisting of two pillars and one crescent-shaped link between them; one solid image of standing Vishnu, having four arms and in the act of pouring out water; one lotus on which this image stood, set with jewels; one four-legged pedestal; one solid image of Brahma represented as offering oblation (huta), having four arms and four faces, comfortably seated on a pedestal joined to a lotus, set with jewels. To these images she made extensive gifts of jewels and vessels (the details of which are contained in the inscription referred to above) which included strings of beads, sacred ear-rings, arm-rings, foot-rings, spirals and others (SII, II, 48).

(F) Queen Abhimanavalli

1. Lingapurana Devar (Lingodbhavar)

Before the twenty-ninth year of the reign of Rajaraja I, his queen Abhimanavalli set up a copper image of Lingapurana Devar. It consisted of the following: One image of Lingapurana Devar in the shape of a Linga with one solid image of Siva represented as rising out of this image, having four divine arms, one solid image of Brahma, having four divine arms, joined to the Linga; and one solid image of Vishnu with the head of a boar (mukha) and having four divine arms joined to the Linga. This image was presented with a necklace, strung with four hundred and thirty pearls in clusters, and one necklace strung with eight hundred and eighty seven pearls in clusters (SII, II, 44).

(G) Queen Ilada Mahadevi

1. Pasupatamurti

While we have no exclusive inscription dedicated to the setting up of any images by this queen, there is a reference in an inscription dealing with the donation of sheep, cows and buffaloes for the maintenance of lamps in the temple (SII, II, 95, para 56), to the setting up of an image of Pasupatamurti by this queen who presented cows and she-buffaloes for the purpose of burning lamps to this image. In all probability, her gift of this is recorded in some inscription in the inner enclosure of the temple which is still buried underground.

Footnotes and references:

1.

In SII, II, 51 and 53, Queen Panchavan Mahadeviyar is mentioned without aliases; in SII, II, 42 and 46, Queen Chola Mahadeviyar is mentioned, again without aliases. Panchavan Mahadevi is stated to be the daughter of Avani-Kandarpa-Purattu-devanar of Paluvur in an inscription of the twenty-seventh year of Rajaraja I at Melappaluvur (ARE 385 of 1924), and Chola Mahadevi as the daughter of Tittaipiran, in an inscription of the twenty-third year of Rajaraja I at Tiruvallam (ARE, 223 of 1921). However, an inscription of the 3 rd year of Rajaraja I at Tirumaipuram (ARE, 294 of 1906) makes reference to “Chola Madeviyar alias Panchavan Madeviyar, Queen of Mummudi Chola”. It is thus not clear whether these two names refer to one and the same queen; since the inscriptions list the gifts to the Rajarajesvaram under the two names separately, we have also listed them Likewise.

(An inscription of the sixteenth year of Rajaraja I at Tiruppugalur (ARE 47 of 1 928) refers to “Nakkan Tillai Alagiyar alias Panchavan Mahadeviyar, Queen of Rajaraja I”).

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