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....

Appointment of Temple Servants and Administrative Arrangements

(1) Land grants by Rajaraja I

Rajaraja I gave extensive lands as devadana to the temple of Rajarajesvaram from all over his empire for the expenses dangal) required for the Supreme Lord (Paramasvamin) of the sacred stone temple (karrali):

Udaiyar Sri Rajarajadevar Tanjavur edupittta tiru-karrali Sri Rajarajesvaram udaiyar paramasvamikku vendu nivan-dangalukkut devadanamagach cholamandalattum puramandalangalilum udaiyar Sri Rajarajadevar kudutta.... (SII, II, 4).

The revenue (kanik-kadan) from these villages was settled orally and then engraved on stone in the temple of Tanjavur. It was laid down whether the dues to the temple were to be paid in kind (paddy) or in cash (gold), or both. In the case of payments in kind, the paddy was to be measured by the marakkal called the “Adavallan”, which was equal to the standard unit of volumetric measure for grains then prevailing viz., the Rajakesari. A replica of this standard unit of measure was preserved in the temple for reference. For fixing the levy on the village, the total area of the village was taken, and the area of the land of public utility excluded. Such excluded areas were the village site, the sites and the surrounding courtyards (tiru-murram) of the temples in the village like those of Mahadevar, Pidari, Settaiyar (Jyeshtha-devi) and other deities, the channels which pass through the village, the stables, the burning ground of the cultivators, the burning ground of the paraiyars, the paraichcheri and the ilachcheri, the kammanachcheri, the stone-fold (kar-kidai) for cattle, the sacred bathing pond (tirumanjanak-kulam), the other ponds and their banks, the threshing floor, pasture land for cattle etc. The remaining area is assessed to land rent. These details are contained in three inscriptions of the twenty-ninth year of Rajaraja I (SII, II, 4, 5 and 92). From the first and the second inscriptions, we get a fund of interesting information about the administrative set-up of the empire. From the last of the three inscriptions, which deals with the lands donated by the ruler in the outlying provinces, we learn of the assignment to the temple of certain villages in Tondai nadu which bore the alternate name of Jayangondasola mandalam, after another surname of Rajaraja I, Pandi Nadu which bore the second name of Rajaraja mandalam (and which later on during the son’s reign was to be renamed Rajaraja Pandi Nadu), Gangapadi, Nulamba-padi (also called “Nigarilisola-padi”), Malai Nadu, and Ilam (Sri Lanka) which was alternately christened Mummadisola mandalam. It may be recalled that in the inscription SII, II, 4 mention was made of villages in Chola-mandalam and the puramandalams, meaning the outlying provinces; this inscription covers the latter category of villages. While the villages in Chola mandalam alone number forty, those in the outlying provinces are comparatively few. While the revenue payable from the land in the villages of Chola mandalam was mainly in the shape of paddy, the exceptions being barely half a dozen where the payment was in terms of kasu and that too mainly in respect of nagarams, in respect of the outlying provinces the payment was partly in kind and partly in gold.

In respect of the forty villages in the heartland, the record goes into considerable details. In fact, the details regarding the extent of land (possibly determined after the great survey that Rajaraja I made during his reign) are amazing and can compare with those collected through any sophisticated modern machinery of Government set up for conducting land survey.

From the lands of the 40 villages and towns lying in the valanadus (districts) of Arulmolideva, Kshatriyasikhamani, Uyyak-kondan, Rajasraya, Nittavinoda and Rajendrasimha, Rajaraja I assigned for worship and for other requirements of the temple of Rajarajesvaram a total of 1,20,119 kalams of paddy and a sum of 1004 kasus.

In the case of Sri Lanka, the arrangement was somewhat different from the others. The villages were required to remit the revenue in the shape of paddy or money or The last expression literally translated means “the milk of the tree of Bassia longtfolia” the oil from whose seeds is used extensively for burning temple-lamps in the south and Sri Lanka. This oil was measured in terms of marakkal, kuruni and nali.

In all, leaving out the particulars of some villages which are obliterated in the inscriptions, 25,770 kalams of paddy, 1630 kalanjus of gold and 9 kalams of iluppai-pal were to be delivered annually to the temple from the outlying provinces of the empire.

The extensive land survey undertaken by Rajaraja I over the entire length and breadth of his empire covering Chola mandalam, Pandi mandalam, Ila mandalam (Sri Lanka), Tondai mandalam and the conquered territories up to the banks of the Tungabhadra and the Godavari is unique in the history of the world. It is a strange coincidence that William the Conqueror of England undertook the Domesday survey of the conquered land, about three-fourths of a century later. But in elaboration, classification of land varieties and the nature of tax assessment worked out, the Rajaraja survey stands out as an unparalleled instance of its kind. The measurement was precise to the extent of 52,428,000,000th part of a veli (about 6 acres), particularly in respect of wet lands. This survey was brought uptodate later by Kulottunga I in his sixteenth year and again by his successors from time to time. Rajaraja I was anticipating by centuries the work of Todar Mall and Abul Fazl during the Mughal period and of Sivaji and the Marathas (under the Peshwas) of the seventeenth century a.d. The honour for this extensive land survey and settlement should go to Rajaraja I and the officer-in-charge of the mammoth operations, Senapati Kuravan Ulagalandan alias Rajamaharajan (dan means he who measured the world).

(2) Appointment of Treasurers, Accountants and Temple Servants

Rajaraja I set up an elaborate administrative machinery for running the huge establishment of the temple; he issued orders, and had them engraved on stone in the temple, that the inhabitants of the brahmadeyas in Chola mandalam, in Pandi Nadu alias Rajaraja mandalam and in Tondai Nadu alias Jayangonda Chola mandalam should supply to the Lord of the Sri Rajarajes-varar temple (SII, II, 69):

(i) as temple treasurers, such brahmanas as were rich in land, connections or capital,
(ii) brakmacharins (manigal) for working as temple servants (tirupparicharakamseyya), and
(iii)accountants (karanattar) for maintaining the temple accounts (kanakkeluda).

And it was also laid down in the order that each treasurer should be given a certain number of kalams of paddy per year; each brahmacharin, one padakku of paddy per day and four kasus per year (somewhat higher rates for those who had taken vows?) and each accountant and sub-accountant 200 kalams and 75 kalams per year respectively. It was further laid down that the temple servants should draw their allowances at the city treasury (ullur bhandaram) of the lord of the Sri Rajarajesvara temple and the treasurers (bhandari), accountants and sub-accountants at the up-country treasuries (nattu-bhand.

Leaving aside the instances where, owing to damage to the inscriptions, the number of servants to be supplied by some villages is not available, we get to know that four treasurers, 174 brahma-charins, seven accountants and nine sub-accountants were provided for service in the temple by a total of 144 villages, lying in the eight districts of Arumolideva valanadu, Kshatriyasikhamani valanadu, Uyyakkondan valanadu, Rajendrasimha valanadu, Rajasraya valanadu, Keralantaka valanadu, Pandyakulasani valanadu and Nittavinoda valanadu, all in the province of Chola mandalam. The actual numbers are likely to be slightly more.

(3) Watchman for the Temple

Before his twenty-ninth year, Rajaraja I made elaborate arrangements for the security of the temple by appointing a large number of watchmen known as “meykkappu” (body-guards); his order in this connection was to the effect that the inhabitants of the hrahmadeyas in Chola mandalam should supply temple watchmen to the Lord of the Rajarajesvaram, and that to each of these temple-watchmen, the inhabitants of the respective villages which supplied them should measure out 100 kalams of paddy per year by way of remuneration. This paddy was to be supplied and daily allowances paid every year, by the inhabitants of the respective villages, out of the tax due. And under royal orders, these allowances were engraved on stone. The order is contained in two inscriptions (SII, II, 57 and 70) which incidentally confirm that there were, to the north and south respectively of the Raja-rajan Tiru-vasal, a shrine each to Isana Deva and Agni Deva, in the directions appropriate to these dikpalas. The list[1] contains as many as 131 villages, which among them contributed mostly one, in a few cases, two, and in one case, 6 watchmen to the temple, the total being 143 watchmen in all.

From the inscription SII, II, 11, we get to know that there were three contingents of meykkappus, two guarding the Keralan-taka gate (the outer gopuram) and one the Anukka gate. We have already noted that the latter unit of the army was entrusted with certain responsibilities for maintaining the worship of the images of Kalyanasundarar and his Consort, set up by Trailokya Mahadevi, a queen of Rajaraja I.

From these two inscriptions, we also get the names of the following queens: Pallavan Mahadevi, Vanavan Mahadevi, Trailokya Mahadevi, Panchavan Mahadevi, Chola Mahadevi, Valavan Mahadevi and Ologa Mahadevi (Loga Mahadevi).

(4) Talip-Pendir (Temple Women or Ladies) and Temple Servants

The meticulous attention that Rajaraja I gave to the detailed administration and functioning of the Rajarajesvaram, is further demonstrated by the care with which he selected the men and women functionaries attached to the temple. In an elaborate record dated in his 29th regnal year (SII, II, 66), enshrining his order, Rajaraja I assigned the produce of certain lands to a number of men who had to perform various services in connection with the management of the temple and to four hundred women whose services were transferred from a large number of temples situated in various parts of his empii'e; each one of them was given an allowance (nibandham) in the form of shares (pangu) ,each share consisting of the net produce of one veli (26.755 square metres) of land which again was stipulated as one hundred kalams of paddy measured by the standard (wooden) measure (marakkal) called “Adavallan”,standardised and made equal to the royal standard called Rajakesan”.It was further stipulated that in the event of any of these share-holders dying or emigrating, the nearest relations of such persons were to receive the shares and to discharge the ordained duty. In the event of the nearest relations not being qualified, they (presumably the nearest relations) were to select (other) qualified persons and get them to do the work and receive the allowance. Should there be no near relations, the (other) incumbents of such appointments were to select qualified persons from among those fit for such appointments, and the persons so selected and appointed were to be entitled to the allowance. The names of all these persons were ordered by the king to be engraved on stone.

For accommodating these new incumbents in the service of the temple, two entire streets were newly formed, called the “Terkku” and “Vadakku Talich-cheri” (the south and the north temple streets), each having two rows, the northern and the southern, there being as many as about a hundred houses to a row. The female temple-servants brought over from various other temples were given a house each in these streets, besides the remuneration in kind.

This inscription provides indirect confirmation of the existence, by the twenty-ninth year of Rajaraja I, of a large number of temples in the Chola empire, which is of considerable historical significance, apart from enabling us to date many of the temples. We have here a number of Vishnu shrines which find mention in the Nalyirap-prabandham, like Arangam, Tiruvengadam, Ali and Tirukkurugur besides others like Avani-narayana-vinnagar at Ambar, Sritali-vinnagar at Arapuram and Sripudi-vinnagar at Pambuni.

A number of Saiva temples, which find mention in the Puranam are also to be found in this inscription. (The Periya Puranam names, whenever they differ in form from the inscriptional names, are given in brackets below):

Araneri at Tiruvarur; Tirumandali (Paravai-un-mandali) at Tiruvarur; Tirumulattanam (Mulattanam) at Tiruvarur; Tirumangalam (Mangalam) at Ambar; Tirukkaronam (Karo-nam) at Nagappattinam (Nagai); Tiru-achchiramam (Achchira-mam) at Pachchil, Tiruppadali-Isvaram (Padalichcharam) at Pambuni; Vadatali at Palaiyaru (Palaiyarai); Ambalam, Pon-nambalam, Tillai, Porkoil-Tillai or Manram (Chidambaram); Ambattur; Kadambur; Kandiyur; Karayil (near Tiruvarur); Karuvur; Kottur; Nallur; Pandana-nallur; Paluvur (Tirup-paluvur); Talaiyalangadu; Tiruchchorrutturai (Chorrutturai); Tirukkollambudur (Kollambudur); Tirumaraikkadu or Maraik-kadu (Vedaranyam); Tiruneyttanam (Neyttanam) i.e., Til-laisthanam; Tiruppalanam; Tiruppuvanam or Puvanam (in Pandya desa); Tiruttengur (Tengur); Tiruvaiyaru or Aiyaru; Tiruvalangadu; Tiruvanaikka; Tiruvedigudi (Vedigudi); Tiru-vidaimarudil (Tiruvidaimarudur);Tunganai (Tunganai-madam); Vadavayil (Vadamullaivayil); Vayalur (Viyalur) and Venkadu (Tiruvenkadu). As many as 91 temples located in 51 different places contributed these temple-women, some temples deputing as many as five to eight women.

The names of these women are interesting. A number of them bear the names of well-known sacred places; while others have taken the names of royal patrons and personages. Among the former are: Araneri, Tirumandali, Tirumulattanam, Tiru-magalam and Tirukkaronam; and among the latter could be mentioned names like Rajaraji, Rajakesari, Arumoli (all names of Rajaraja I), Kundavai (Rajaraja Ps elder sister) and Arinjigai (after the name of the grandfather of Rajaraja I). Other such names are Kannaradevi and Seramangai.

In addition to these female servants, a large number of male servants were appointed for various services to the temple; they received shares on the scale applied to the talip-pendir. Some of the professions connected with the fine arts mentioned here are those of dancers, actors, vocalists and instrumentalists, including players on the vangiyam (pipe) and the vina, a large number of drummers (uvachchar), specifically among them, players of the small drum called udukkai and of the large drum called kotti-mattalam and yet others called sa singers in Sanskrit (Anyam) and in Tamil; and blowers of the conch (muttirai-sangu). In this connection, the terms gandharva and gandharvi applied to some male and female vocalists, and the term pakka-vadyar (accompanist), used without any further specifications of the profession or instrument used, if any, are of interest, even if their usage is somewhat mystifying. Other categories of servants mentioned include: a proclaimer of the commands of the Lord (tiru-vay-kelvi), accountants and sub-accountants, astrologers and subordinates, holders of the sacred parasol (tirup-pallit-tongal); lamp-lighters, water-sprinklers, potters for the kitchen, washermen, barbers, tailors, a jewel-stitcher (ratna-tayyan), a brazier, a superintending goldsmith (kankani-tattan) for the minor treasury of the temple, and several specific individuals named from among the various troops (velaikkarap-padaigal). Besides, the Chief Archi tect and two Assistant Architects (tachcha-acharyan), Virasolan Kunjaramallan alias Rajaraja Perundachchan, Gunavan Madhu-rantakan alias Nittavinoda Perundachchan and Ilatti Sadaiyan alias Gandaraditta Perundachchan, were also the recipients of Rajaraja’s benevolence. They were evidently the architects who were entrusted with the erection of the temple at Tanjavur and after its consecration, with its maintenance.

Altogether, by this order, Rajaraja I appointed, and made provision for the remuneration of, 400 women servants including dancers and 216 male servants including musicians, accountants and others, with the necessary supervisory staff.

(5) The Role of Talip-Pendir in Temples

There are some later inscriptions which throw light on the duties performed by talip-pendir and devaradiyar. An inscription (date lost) of Virarajendra from Tiruvorriyur gives us the following particulars:

Sixty veils of waste land in Simhavishnu chaturvedimangalam were reclaimed and named “Vvilagam”. From its income in paddy, gold and kasu, various items of expenses are mentioned, among which are the maintenance of (i) twenty-two taliyilar who danced and sang; (ii) one dance-master who taught them dancing; and (Hi)sixteen devaradiyars (temple women) who recited the Tiruppadiyam in agamargam or low pitch (ARE 128 of 1912).

Another inscription of Rajaraja III from the same place mentions that a royal officer Vayalur Kilavan Tiruvegambam Udaiyar Sendamaraikkannan alias Vaiyiradarayan made a dedication of five women and their descendants for husking paddy in the temple (ARE 122 of 1912 from the Adipurisvara temple). A similar practice obtained at Srirangam.

Some other instances of dedicating women as devaradiyars to temple come from Tiruvakkarai in the South Arcot district and Tiruvallam in the North Arcot district. In the former case, three vellalas presented a woman (adiyal) and her daughter and their children (makkal) as devaradiyar to Tiruvakkarai Udaiya Mahadevar (ARE 183 of 1904, dated in the twenty-ninth year of Kulottunga I); in the latter case, a member of Irumudi-solat-terinda-villaligal dedicated five women of his family, including a daughter of his and her two daughters, as, in the service of the temple (“tiruvallam udaiyar sri padattile udagam panni tiruchchulam satti devaradiyar aga vitte”—ARE 230 of 1921).

It is well known that the Rajarajesvaram had a large-sized granary for stocking more than a lakh of kalams of paddy intended for food offerings and connected services to the deities of the temple. Some of these talip-pendir might have been attached to the granary. The cleaning and the decoration of the temple premises and the gathering of flowers and making of garlands for the deities must have been done by those who had an aptitude for the work. But, generally, they seem to have devoted themselves to singing, dancing, painting and allied fine arts. How much interest and attention Rajaraja I paid to music, dancing and painting is brought out from his inscriptions and those of his venerable elder sister Kundavai in the temples of Siva and Vishnu built about the same time at Dadapuram in the South Arcot district and at Tirumalai in the North Arcot district.

(6) Recovery of the Devaram Hymns

The ritual singing of the Devaram, also known as the padiyam, in temples, is a practice of great antiquity; the singers of these hymns of Appar, Sambandar and Sundarar were known as “Tiruppadiyam Vinnappam Seyvar” or “Pidarar”. We have no way of knowing when exactly this practice began, but, from about the middle of the eighth century a.d., we have inscriptional evidence of endowments being made for this purpose.

The earliest epigraphical reference to such an endowment is found at Tiruvallam and relates to the seventeenth year of the reign of the Pallava Vijaya Nandivikraman alias Nandi-varman (II) of the middle of the eighth century a.d.[2] There are only very few Early Chola gifts for the recitation of the Devaram hymns. Without any pretensions to a full survey, we can trace at least three of them during the reign of Parantaka I. They are at Tiruvaduturai (third year—ARE 139 of 1925), Lalgudy (thirty-seventh year—ARE 373 of 1903) and Andanallur (fourteenth year—ARE 358 of 1903, see p.16 of Early Chola Temples). Then we come to the reign of Rajaraja I.

Rajaraja I had a strong religious bent. His patron deities were Adavallan (Nataraja) of Chidambaram and Thyagesa (or Vitankar) of Tiruvarur. His religious fervour took two forms: one was the building of temples, the other was his desire to unearth the vast and rich treasures of the Devaram hymns, not very much in vogue during his time. He decided to recover this great legacy. While he was thus pre-occupied, he heard of the miracles wrought by Nambi Andar Nambi of Tirunarai-yur. Nambi Andar Nambi’s father was a temple priest of Pollap-pillaiyar of Tirunaraiyur in Sonadu—a village lying between Chidambaram and Kattumannarkoyil (in the South Arcot district). One day the father asked his son to officiate for him during his absence, at the worship of Pollap-pillaiyar. The boy did so. But the Lord did not eat the food-offerings made by him. Annoyed at this, the boy attempted at self-immolation. Then Pollap-pillaiyar yielded to his prayers and the offered dishes vanished. The boy then requested the Pillaiyar to teach him too, as it was then too late to attend school. The Lord did so. It was a great miracle and the news reached the ears of the king then in distress about the mystery of the missing Devaram hymns.

Rajaraja I rushed to Tirunariayur, arranged a festival in honour of the Pillaiyar and requested the miracle boy to help him recover the Devaram hymns. Inspired by his Pillaiyar, Nambi revealed that the full set of the Devaram hymns lay in a heap of cadjan leaves in a room in the western prakara of the Nataraja temple at Chidambaram under the seals of the hymnists themselves. The king and Nambi went to Chidambaram and requested the Tillai-three-thousand to open the sealed room. The Dikshitars replied that the room could be opened only when the saints themselves were physically present. The Chola king then hit upon a strategem. He arranged a festival in honour of the Tamil Nayanmars. Their images were placed in front of the room. The seals broke and the closed room was thrown open. As prophesied, the cadjan heap was there, covered however with a mound, full of white ants flourishing upon the leaves. The king was in great distress. He was consoled by a divine voice that said that the heap contained whatever was necessary for that age. Oil was poured over the heap and the extant leaves were salvaged. Nambi Andar Nambi’s redaction of the Devaram hymns led to a new life for these hymns, with Chidambaram (Tiruch-chirrambalam) as its centre. Chidambaram became of all Saivite temples in the Tamil land and Rajaraja, the Saviour of the Tamil hymns.

Some scholars hold that this great event of the recovery of the Devaram hymns took place during the reign of Aditya I, not that of Rajaraja I. The appended note examines the source material on which this theory is built and how this view is not sustainable. There is, as far as we know, no reference to endowments for the recitation of Devaram hymns during the reign of Aditya I.

Thrilled with the recovery of the lost hymns, the greatest contribution made by any king for the growth of Tamil literature, Rajaraja I arranged for the recitation of the hymns in the temple of his creation at the capital. He appointed 48 Piet arars or Tiruppadiyam-vinnappam-seyvars, for singing the hymns before Rajarajesvara, and two drummers to play on the kettle drum and the big drum to keep beat as the others sang (SII, II, 65) and made liberal provision for their and their successors’ maintenance. As already noted, Rajaraja I cast an image of Siva (as Chandrasekharar) before whom he practised daily the singing of Devaram and this deity is named in his inscription as Devaradevar.

The singing of Devaram hymns by oduvars was also followed in other temples of Tamil land, a practice which has come down to modern times.

(7) Gifts for Lamps in the Temple of Rajarajesvaram

The lighting arrangements for the Rajarajesvaram received particular attention at the hands of the Emperor. As many as about 160 lamps and torches lit up the campus of the temple and its various shrines; and for providing ghee for burning these lamps, the king made extensive grants to shepherds in various parts of the empire for maintaining cows, she-buffaloes and ewes; these shepherds were called upon to deliver into the temple treasury a certain quantity of ghee for lamps.

These gifts are covered by two very elaborate inscriptions (SII, II, 63 and 94; 64 and 95). Nos. 63 and 94, which are taken up together first, consist of a list of shepherds who had to supply ghee for the temple lamps from a number of cattle, which had been presented to the temple before the twenty-ninth regnal year by the king himself. To each lamp were allotted 96 ewes, or 48 cows or 16 buffaloes, which were assigned to various shepherds (idaiyar).They had to supply ghee to the treasury of the Lord at the daily rate of one ulakku measured by the standard measure known as “Adavallan”.

The shepherds who resided either in the capital city of Tanjavur or in its vicinity understandably received a large share of these allocations of she-buffaloes, cows and ewes. They resided in ten streets described as being outside (purambadi) Tanjavur, namely, Gandharva-teru, Villigal-teru, Anaik-kaduvar-teru, Anaiyatkal-teru, Panmaiyar-teru, Madaippalli-teru, Vira-solap-perunteru, Rajavidyadharap-perunteru, Jayangondasolap-perunteru and Surasikhamanip-perunteru and in an eleventh street, called Saliyat-teru (weavers’ street), described as being inside the town (ullalai).Other shepherds lived in specified bazars (angadi)outside the city limits, viz-, Tribhuvana-madevi-perangadi, Kongalar-angadi and Rajaraja-Brahma-maharajan-angadi; the rest of them lived in quarters outside the city limits in suburbs, which are listed as below: Abhimana-bhushana-terinda-velam, Uyyakkondan-terinda-tirumanjanattar-velam and Arumolideva-terinda-tirupparigalattar-velam. In respect of the shepherds who did not belong to the city, the names of the villages where each of them lived and the districts in which the villages were located are given. Thus, we get excellent material from this record to reconstruct the geographical divisions and the political and administrative arrangements obtaining during the days of Rajaraja I.

In all 2,832 cows, 1,644 ewes and 30 she-buffaloes were entrusted to shepherds in, and in the neighbourhood of, Tanjavur and in the various parts of the empire.

Inscriptions nos. 64 and 95, which are again to be read together contain the details of the cattle given not only by the king himself but also by other donors and those which were represented by funds (in kasus and akkam) deposited in the temple treasury for the purchase of cattle.

Among the localities mentioned in these two groups of inscriptions, there are some which are common to both, but the following are found in this list (nos. 64 and 95) only: Uttama-siliyar-velam, Panchavan-Madeviyar-velam, Sivadasan-Solai alias Rajaraja - Brahma-maharajan-padaividu, Raudra - Mahakalat-tumadavilagam (named after the temple of Mahakala in the neighbourhood) and Brahmakuttam (also similarly named)—all these being inside the limits of the capital city—and Pandi-velam, which was outside the city limits. Similarly among the districts in the empire which find mention here besides those common to both the groups of inscriptions are Kshatriya Sikhamani valanadu, Keralantaka valanadu, Vada Konadu and Arumoli-deva valanadu.

Another interesting aspect of the inscriptions is the light they throw on the circumstances under which some of these donations came to be made, and on the range of people who made these grants, including the king’s officers, nobles of the Court, institutions and groups of men for burning lamps in the temple.

Note on the Devaram Hymns:

Views of Pandarattar and Vellai Varanar:

The fact that the recovery of the Devaram hymns is to be attributed to Rajaraja I is evident from the two works of Umapati Sivacharya, the great Samayacharya of the Saiva Siddhanta school (late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries). In his Nambi Andar Nambi Puranam alias Tirumurai Kanda Puranam, he states that the king concerned was alahil-puhal-peru Rasarasamannan Abhayakula-sekharan” (stanza i), and again refers to that king as “Irasarasa mannavan” in stanza 6, and as “Kulasekhara” in stanza 13. In his other work, Tiruttondar Purana Varalaru alias Sekkilar Svamigal Puranam, this king is referred to as “Seya-Tirumurai-Kanda Rasarasadeva” (stanza 24).

Despite these clear indications of the name of the king concerned, two Tamil scholars—T.V. Sadasiva Pandarattar, in his History of the Later Cholas (in Tamil, Annamalai University), and, perhaps following his lead, Vellai Varanar, in his Panniru Tirumuraigal (in Tamil, Annamalai University)—hold the view that this achievement is to be ascribed to Aditya I. To support this view, they cite four stanzas (nos.50, 65, 81 and 82) from Tiruttondar Tiruvandadi written by Nambi Andar Nambi himself; this, incidentally, is an enlarged version of Saint Sundaramurti Nayanar’s Tiruttondat-togai, and these two works together form the source for Sekkilar’s Periya Puranam alias Tiruttondar Puranam.

Of these, stanza 50 is on Pugal Chola Nayanar, described there as “Kogana-nathan Kulamu-dalon”. Kogananathan means the sun, and since Aditya is a synonym, the above scholars have apparently interpreted the description above as “an ancestor of Aditya”. This appears farfetched; the obvious translation would be “a descendant of the solar dynasty” and, since the Cholas claimed to belong to it, would simply mean “a Chola”.

Stanza 65 is on Idangali Nayanar, described there as “Sirrambala Mugadu Kongirk-Kanakam-aninda-Adittan-Kulamudalon” (an ancestor of Aditya who gilded Sirrambalam with the gold obtained as booty from the conquest of Kongu). This description is echoed in Sekkilar’s Periya Puranam stanza 3 of the Idangali Nayanar Puranam:

manniya Ponnambalattu mani muhattil pak-Kongin-pannu-tulaip-pasumponnal payil-pilambam misaiyaninda ponneduntol Adittan pugalimarabir-Kudi-mudalor”.

The reference here may be taken to be to Aditya I.

Stanzas 81 and 82 are on Kochchengat-Cholan alias Kochchenganan. Stanza 81 calls him a Sembiyan (—Chola) and stanza 82 describes him as “sempon anindu sirrambalattai sivalokam eidi namban kalal kil irundon Kulamudal” (an ancestor of [the king] who gilded sirrambalam and made it a Sivaloka [on earth] and sat at the feet of the Lord [there]. There is no explicit mention of Aditya I as the King referred to here; it could be any one of the many Chola kings who gilded the Chidambaram temple, even Rajaraja I himself.

The two scholars take the last description to refer to Aditya I apparently since his name is explicitly mentioned in a similar context in stanza 65. Thus they conclude that all the the three, stanzas (50, 65 and 82) refer to the same king, namely Aditya I, and hence that Nambi Andar Nambi must have been his contemporary and that the recovery of the Devaram hymns must, therefore, have taken place during his time.

Our view is that only stanza 65 makes any explicit reference to Aditya I. As for stanza 82 Aditya I is not the only king credited with gilding the sacred hall at Chidambaram: for instance, the description there finds an echo in Umapati Sivacharya’s Tiruttonda Pur ana Varalaru, making a reference to Kulottunga II alias Anapaya who also gilded the above hall and by his acts of merit converted Chidambaram into a Kailasa on earth: “Perumparrappuliyur Bhuloka-Sivalokam-^z polindu tonra”. (The Periyapuranam, incidentally, confirms that Kochchenganan was an ancestor of Anapaya and thus of the Imperial Cholas: “Anapayan mundai varum Kidamudalor aya mudar Senganar”). The three stanzas quoted merely imply that the three king-saints they refer to were Cholas and ancestors of the Chola dynasty but do not in any way prove that Nambi Andar Nambi was a contemporary of Aditya I. Thus the theory that Nambi Andar Nambi recovered the Devaram in the days of Aditya I has to be dismissed in favour of the theory that such a recovery was made in the days of Rajaraja I.

Devaram hymns:

The view of the Government Epigraphist that the Devaram hymns were rescued and compiled during the reign of Kulottunga I cannot be sustained (see para 34, p. 149, ARE 1918).

2. Tiruvunnaligai and Aganaligai

(a) Sivapuram temple No.30 - pp. 167-170 of text.
(b) Attur, Temple N0.37 - pp. 178-185 of text.

There are frequent references to Tiruvunnaligai - or Tiruvunnaligai sabhaiyar or udaiyar in the inscriptions of the Cholas in Chola desa. An inscription of Rajendra I from Sivapuram (Temple no.30, p.167-170) mentions the sale of land by the local sabha whose proceeds were to be used by the tiruvunnaligai udaiyar to feed a sivayogin at the time of offerings to the Lord (ARE 226 of 1961-62). An inscription, in the same place, of Rajadhiraja I mentions the tiruvunnaligai-udaiyar as one of the many beneficiaries in the list of the revenues due to the king (p.168). An inscription in the sixteenth year of Kulottunga I (ARE 145 of 1900) mentions a gift of cows for curds and a sheep for lamps which were given over to the tiruvunnaligai sabhaiyar of the temple who agreed to maintain the charity. A variant of the term tiruvunnaligaiyar found current in the Pandya desa is Aganaligaiyar. In the Somanatha temple at Attur (temple No. 37, p.178) there is a record of Rajaraja I (ARE 419 of 1929-30) which states that the tiruvunnaligaiyar (p.178) agreed to provide offerings to the deity with the income from the land endowed. An inscription of Vira Rajendra Chola Deva records a gift of money to the aganaligaiyar (p. 179) for a lamp in the temple (ARE 400 of 1929-30). In Attur both these terms are used and they should refer to the Committee in charge of the temple-stores corresponding to the modern term ugranam, which receive gifts from the public and are engaged in the work of collecting and distributing various articles of the sacred bath, food offerings to the deities and other items used at the time of worship. They were in charge of the maintenance and proper administration of this department of the temple.

The Government Epigraphist has interpreted the term ‘Tiruvunnaligai’ as the main sanctum (mulasthanam or garbhagriha) of the temple. This interpretation has been accepted by some scholars and used in this sense in their publications. In the light of the above clarification, this interpretation of the term does not seem to be valid.

Footnotes and references:


We learn from these and other grants that Chola mandalam comprised at least nine districts viz.,

  1. Arumolideva Valanadu
  2. Kshatriyasikhamani Valanadu
  3. Uyyakkondan Valanadu
  4. Rajendrasimha Valanadu
  5. Rajasraya Valanadu
  6. Keralantaka Valanadu
  7. Pandyakulasani Valanadu
  8. Nittavinoda Valanadu and
  9. Vadagarai Rajaraja Valanadu.

Each of them in turn contained several subdivisions (nadus and kurrams). (For a detailed list of these, see SII, II, Part V, Addenda and Corrigenda, pp. 21–27.)


Tiruvallam, Bilvanathesvarar temple: Vijaya-Nandi-Vikraman, on the north wall of the mahamandapa:

“tiruppallittamam pariyarkkum tiruppadiyam ullitta pala pani seyvarkkum nellu nanurrukkadiyum...” (ARE 1-a of 1890).

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