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....

Temples in Tribhuvani

Tribhuvani (or Tribhuvanai) is a village in the Union Territory of Pondicherry (Puduchcheri: Early Chola Art, I, pp. 83-85), 20 kms from Pondicherry on the road to Villupuram. It was once the headquarters of a city-complex called the taniyur of Tri-bhuvana-mahadevi chaturvedimangalam. This taniyur included the modern Tribhuvani village itself and the following present-day villages (among others): Kandamangalam, Tiruvandarkoyil (Vadugur) and Tirukkanji.

Kandamangalam vishnu temple

In this village, 4 kms east of Tribhuvani, there is a ruined Vishnu temple. On its south wall, there is an inscription of the nth regnal year of Rajaraja I (with the tiru-magal pola introduction). It refers to a lamp gift to the temple of Sentangi Vinnagar Paramasvamin at Tribhuvana-mahadevi chaturvedimangalam, a hrahmadeya on the north bank of the river Tribhuvani (Pennar). This seems to be an original inscription, and this ruined temple is itself presumably the Sentangi Vinnagar of the inscription (ARE 353 of 1917).

Two fragmentary inscriptions found on slabs and of the tenth year of Rajaraja I (ARE 356 of 1917) mention a gift of land to the temple of Sentangi Vinnagar Paramasvamin by the local assembly meeting in the tirukkavanam (hall) of the temple of Viranarayana Vinnagar at Tribhuvana-mahadevi chaturvedi-mangalam. Viranarayana is a title of Parantaka I and Tribhuvana-mahadevi the name of a queen of his. The taniyur must have been named after her, and the Vishnu temple of Viranarayana Vinnagar referred to above is the one at the modern town of Tribhuvani and must have been named after Parantaka I.

Six inscribed slabs built into the walls of the Kandamangalam temple form an inscription of the twenty-sixth year of Rajaraja I (ARE 354 of 1917); it refers to a gift of land, constituted into an agrahara named after Tribhuvana-mahadevi, to the Vishnu temple called here Jaya(n)tangi Vinnagar (this must be the same as the Sentangi Vinnagar of the earlier inscriptions) and to a Siva temple called Sri Kailasam.

Seven other slabs built into the walls of this temple form an inscription, again of the twenty-sixth year of Rajaraja I (ARE 355 of 1917); it refers to a gift of land to Tiruvaippadi Alvar (Krishna), perhaps an image installed in the Tribhuvani temple, by the assembly of Tribhuvana-mahadevi chaturvedimangalam. This inscription also mentions a big irrigation tank in the area called Viranarayanap-pereri.[1]

There are two other fragmentary inscriptions, of Rajendra I and Rajendra II (ARE 355 and 358 of 1917).

Though the above facts throw no light on the date of the Vishnu temple of Sentangi Vinnagar at Kandamangalam itself (except that it was in existence by the 1 ith year of Rajaraja I), we learn from them that: Kandamangalam was a hamlet of Tribhuvana-mahadevi chaturvedimangala / the original Vishnu temple at Tribhuvani must have existed as such from the days of Parantaka I to those of Rajaraja I (as we shall see below, it was renovated in the days of Rajendra I); and there was a big irrigation lake in the neighbourhood called Viranarayanap-pereri, which, like the Viranarayanan (modern Viranam) lake in South Arcot district and the Madhurantakam tank in Chingle-put district, must have been excavated by Parantaka I himself.

Tiruvandarkoyil panchanadisvara temple (also called Vadugur):

This is another hamlet of the same taniyur, a km east of Tribhuvani. There is an ancient Siva temple here sung by Sambandar, who calls its deity Tiru-Vadugur-nathar. It is also called Panchanadisvaram; some inscriptions refer to the Lord of this temple as Tiruvarai Nakkan koyil Paramasvamin and others as Tiruvaiyaru Udaiya Maha-devar (the Tamil equivalent of Panchanadisvara) (see my Early Chola Temples, pp. 83-84).

There are three Parakesari inscriptions here, of the fifteenth, sixteenth and fortieth years (ARE 366, 369 and 376 of 1917), all referring to the location of the temple as Tiruvandarkoyil in Tribhuvana-mahadevi chaturvedimangalam. We get confirmation of the conclusion that the taniyur was named after a queen of Parantaka I’s, since a Parakesari inscription of such a high regnal year as the fortieth necessarily belongs to Parantaka I, and it refers to the taniyur by the above name. (The other two Parakesari inscriptions have also to be ascribed to Parantaka I).

There are four inscriptions of the days of Rajaraja I here. The earliest of them is of the fifth year and deals with certain transactions going back to the days of Parantaka I and the Rashtrakuta ruler Krishna III. The local Sabha had borrowed some silver vessels and gold from the temple, and some lands were given to the temple in lieu thereof, in the twenty-eighth year of Krishna III. The inscription makes mention incidentally of a gift of land made in the fourteenth year of Madiraikonda Parakesari, i.e., Parantaka I. The existence of this temple in his days and his political control over this region are again established (ARE 359 of 1917).

There are two inscriptions of the twelfth year of Rajaraja I. One relates to a gift for offerings and lamps to the local temple by a native of Sikkil (ARE 364 1917). The other states that the assembly of Tribhuvana-mahadevi chaturvedimangalam met in the mandapa built by one Mummudi-sola Umbalanatthu-velan and remitted the taxes on the hamlet of Mundiyan Vallaip-pakkam purchased by the same individual and given over to the temple (ARE 362 of 1917).

Finally, an inscription of his twenty-seventh year mentions a gift of two lamps to the local deity (ARE 361 of 1917). We learn from it that Marudur alias Parakesarinallur was another hamlet, lying east, of the taniyur.

From an inscription of the tenth year of Rajendra I, we learn that he built a palace at Madurai for the residence of his son appointed Chola-Pandya Viceroy there (ARE 363 of 1917).

An inscription of the twentieth year of Kulottunga I mentions a lamp-gift to “the temple of Tiruvaiyaru Udaiya Mahadevar” (this temple itself) by a brahmana lady of Virasikhamukhach-cheri alias Sattamangalam (ARE 365of 1917). Two Vijayanagara inscriptions merit attention. One of Vira Bukkana Raya, in Saka 1328 (a.d. 1406) gives us a rare bit of information, namely, that the Sabha of the taniyur consisted of 4,000 members (ARE 370 of 1917). The other is a record of a gift by the famous Krishna deva Raya in a.d. 1526.

We thus obtain several valuable pieces of information from the inscriptions here concerning our mediaeval social and political institutions: and confirmation of the facts that a taniyur (despite the name) consisted of several hamlets, that the sabha of a taniyur met by turns in the temples of the various constituent hamlets, and that the sabha of this taniyur in particular comprised as many as 4,000 members (in the Vijayanagara days).


The temple here is called that of Ganga Varahes-varasvamin. There are two inscriptions in it, of the fortieth and forty-fourth years of Kulottunga I (ARE 215 and 216 of 1919). According to the first, the tank of the taniyur became full and breached its bunds in a storm. The bunds were repaired, a stone revetment called after Kulottungasolan was constructed by one Bhutamangalam Udaiyan Orriyuran Bhupalasundaram alias Solakonar, and placed under the protection of the mahasabha. The second mentions that the original gift of paddy for the maintenance of the tank got mixed up with the general dues of the Sabha, with the result that the maintenance of the tank came to be neglected. So the gift of paddy was changed to a gift of land for the same purpose. This demonstrates the periodical self-check exercised by the local bodies.

Tribhuvani varadaraja Perumal temple (Naduvil Viranarayana Vinnagar)

In this village, which must have been the hub of the taniyur, there is an ancient Vishnu temple, now called the Varadaraja Perumal temple. From an inscription of the fifth year of Rajendra I (ARE 174 of 1919), we learn that it was called Naduvil Viranarayana Vinnagar at Tribhuvana-mahadevi chaturvedimangalam, a brahmadeya in Jayangondasola mandalam. Though this inscription, found on the east wall of the temple, is the earliest inscription on the walls here, the original foundation, as we have already seen, goes back to the days of Parantaka I.

The earliest inscriptions in the premises of the Vishnu temple are two of Rajaraja I. Neither of them is on the body of the main temple. One, of his tenth year, relates to a gift of land for supplying water and for a lamp (ARE 196 of 1919); it is found on a slab built into the floor of a mandapa. The other, of his twelfth year, is highly damaged, and is found on a stone slab lying by the side of the same mandapa (ARE 211 of 1919).

We may thus infer that the old foundation of the days of Parantaka I existed well into the reign of Rajaraja I, and the re-building took place between the twelfth year of Rajaraja I and the fifth year of Rajendra I.

The fifth year inscription of Rajendra I further tells us that this temple was placed under the protection of two regiments, one of them called the Sri Vaduvur Tillaiyalip Perumpadai—reminiscent of Rajaraja I placing the Tiruvalisvaram temple under the protection of the Munru-kai Mahasenai.

In two inscriptions of Rajendra I, of his tenth and sixteenth years (ARE 196 and 189 of 1919), we find mention of a big lake named Kokkilanadip-pereri.[2] [Kokkilanadigal was the name of a queen of Parantaka I’s (vide SII, XIX, 408).]

The same sixteenth year inscription mentions that Varakkur, a devadana village of the temple, was apportioned among 48 tenants, and the village lands were divided into six divisions. The tenants were not to be subjected to any levies other than dues to the temple and the Kokkilanadip-pereri.

In one of the other three inscriptions of the days of Rajendral, mention is made of a matha called the Rajendrasolan matham for feeding the Vaishnavas “of the eighteen districts” (a traditional group of adjacent Vishnu temples and their followers) and of a grant of land made for its maintenance (ARE 187 of 1919).

There are four inscriptions of Rajadhiraja I. The most important of them is the one of his thirtieth regnal year (ARE 176 of 1919), inscribed on the east, north and west walls of the temple. A charity named Rajendrasolan Uttamagram was instituted to secure the health of the king (Rajendra I). Perhaps, it was instituted in about a.d. 1044, final year of the life and reign of Rajendra I, but recorded four years later in a.d. 1048 here (See Note 1).

The endowment consisted of a gift of 72 of land yielding an annual rental of 12,000 kalams of paddy. The grant provided for offerings and worship on a grand scale (uttamagram) to the deities of Virrirunda Perumal (of the), Alagiya

Manavalar and Narasinga Alvar, for the conduct of festivals, for the recitation of Tiruvoymoli, and for the maintenance of a Vedic college (including the feeding of twelve teachers and 260 students). We recall the endowment of such an institution of higher learning at Ennayiram by Rajendra I. (We refer for details on the Uttamagram to Note I at the end of this section.)

An inscription of the thirty-fifth year (93rd day) gives him the title of Vijayarajendra deva and records a gift of land to the Alvar of Tiruvay(h)indrapuram (modern Tiruvendipuram near Cuddalore: ARE 188 of 1919). Another gift to the same deity is made in the seventh year of Rajendra deva II (ARE 197 of 1919). An undated record of Rajadhiraja I mentions a service-mam given to a goldsmith called Arangan Komaran alias Raja-dhirajap-peruntattan. He was to work for himself and for others within the city and its hamlets (ARE 210 of 1919).

We have already referred above to an inscription of the days of Rajendra deva II. Of the three others, one, of his sixth regnal year, registers an order of the royal secretary (issued at the request of the Senapati) that none but the resident of Varakkur should levy or pay any kind of dues within the village and that others who did so would be considered to have transgressed the law (ARE 180 of 1919). Another, of the same year, registers an order of the assembly altering the classification of the lands in Puttur alias Jananathanallur which had been formerly granted for the merit of Udaiyapirattiyar Parantaka Uloga Mahadeviyar. “Uloga Mahadeviyar” seems to be erroneously used in place of “Sembiyan Mahadeviyar”. The earlier grant referred to would appear to have been made in the reign of Rajaraja I (as the term Jananatha is a surname of that king) for the merit of Sembiyan Mahadevi, for whom Rajaraja I had boundless devotion. Though Rajaraja I had a queen called Ulogamahadevi alias Danti Sakti Vitanld, the prefix “Udaiyapirattiyar Parantakan” suggests that the lady concerned should be identified with Sembiyan Mahadevi (ARE 181 of 1919).

Finally, the remaining inscription of Rajendradeva II, of his seventh year, relates to a gift of land for offerings, made to the temple of Virasola Vinnagar Alvar by the local assembly meeting in the Viranarayana Vinnagar Alvar temple. Parantaka I had both titles “Viranarayana” and “Virasola”. One wonders if the same temple, or a shrine for a new deity in the same temple, or a different (unidentified) temple is under reference (ARE 183 of 1919). (See Note 2 on Later Inscriptions at p. 354).

Description of the Temple:

The temple consists of the main shrine dedicated to Varada-raja Perumal, facing east, with subsidiary shrines for Varamangai Tayar (in the south-eastern corner of the prakara), Andal and Narasimha. The temple campus is enclosed by a wall with a gateway (without a gopuram) in line with the axis of the central shrine.

The main shrine reminds one of the Venkatesa Perumal temple at Tirumukkudal, in that there are no devakoshtas on its walls; it consists of a garbhagriha and a mukha- (or ardha-)mandapa forming a unitary structure, supported by an upapitham of height 1.20 ms measuring 14.70 ms by 9.20 ms and an adhishthanam of height 1.50 ms measuring 13.00 ms by 7.75 ms. The adhishthanam consists of the mouldings of upanam, padmam and a rounded kumudam. Over these mouldings is a lively frieze consisting of mythical animals such as the yali, kamadhenu and leogriff. Above this frieze and below the vari, there are a series of miniature sculpture panels, measuring 30 cms by 15 cms, distributed one below each pilaster; there are six each on the front and rear adhishthanam walls, and ten each on the side walls, depicting scenes from the Rama and Krishna legends and the various incarnations of Vishnu, all of fine workmanship. There are representations of Padmanidhi and Sankhanidhi below the pilasters flanking the main entrance to the mukhamandapa. The pilasters are octagonal with a square base. At the prastara level, there is a adorned cornice, with a bhutagana frieze below it and a yali-frieze above it. The sri-vimana is tri-tala, with a renovated superstructure crowned by a circular griva and sikhara.

The garbhagriha, which contains stone images of Vishnu, Bhudevi and Sridevi, is of the sandhara type, the passage measuring 74 cms in width and lighted by three windows, one on each free facade of the garbhagriha. Internally, it measures 2.24 ms square. The mukhamandapa measures 4.89 ms. by 5.32 ms. From the prakara, a flight of four steps in front leads to the mukhamandapa; the vertical faces of the steps are decorated with sculptures of dancers, lotus petals, animal designs etc. The flight is flanked by a pair of sinuous balustrades. From the sides also, there are flights of steps, similarly decorated, and all seem to be part of the original complex. There is an open, multi-pillared mandapa in front of the mukhamandapa (Pis 341 to 356).

The Vishnu temple at Tribhuvani was thus a foundation of the illustrious Parantaka I. We have records in it of the rich and eventful history of this temple and the taniyur for over four centuries. Very few Vishnu temples have come down to us with their original features substantially intact. Most have also suffered at the hands of the well-intentioned and pious renovators, who have let the hideous cement-culture loose on the sacred domain of temple architecture and sculpture. The Siva temple at Trisu-lam near Madras has been such a sufferer. May the gods save us from these monstrosities!

Despite periodical military onslaughts and occasional acts of vandalism, the Ranganatha temple at Srirangam has survived as the largest of the Vishnu temples in the Tamil country without much impairment to its ancient features, enjoying the proud privilege of having the longest recorded history on its walls. Its origin goes back to the days of the Ramayana and the Silappadikaram. It is regrettable that no effort has so far been made to publish a grand tome on this historic monument such as the French and Dutch archaeologists have done for those in Indo-China and Indonesia.

In the course of my survey, I could find only two ancient Vishnu monuments retaining to a large extent their original character. They are the Vaikuntha Perumal temple at Kanchi and the Sundaravarada Perumal temple at Uttaramerur. To these two, we may perhaps add the cave temple and the adjoining structural temple of Pundarikaksha at Tiruvellarai in Tiruchy district. The Varadaraja Perumal temple (Viranarayana Vin-nagar) at Tribhuvani is still fortunately one of the few Vishnu temples having some of its old features and preserving some of its original inscriptions. They give us a vista of the greatness of its past. Let us hope that earnest efforts will be made to preserve its rich features in their pristine state.

Like the other important ancient Vishnu temples of Vaikuntha Perumal at Kanchi and Sundaravarada Perumal at Uttaramerur, the Tribhuvani Vishnu temple might have had three storeys in the srivimana and three shrines one above the other. The enormous stone sculpture of Pallikondar now lodged in the verandah of a house in a street adjacent to this temple might have adorned the sanctum in the third tala. This srivimana might have suffered damage at some unknown period.

Note 1: Rajendrasolan Uttamagram

This charity was established in the temple by the General, Senapati Mavali Vanarayan, to secure the health of the king Rajendra Chola I. On Wednesday, the 2nd March 1048 a.d. in the thirtieth year of the reign of Rajadhiraja I, the mahasabha of the taniyur met and purchased lands in the name of Viranarayana Vinnagar Alvar to meet all the requirements of the above charity. Seventy-two velis of land were purchased, to yield an annual rental of 12,000 kalams of paddy, es tima ted to be the quantity required annually to take care of all the provisions of charity. Besides providing for offerings, worship etc, on a grand scale to Virrirunda Perumal (the main deity), Alagiya Manavalar and Narasinga Alvar; for the conduct of festivals on the occasions of Masi tirup-punarpusam, Jayanti ashtami, Margali tiru-ekadasi, Uttarayana, Dakshinayana, and the two Vishus (Aippisi and Chittirai); for feeding the Sri Vaishnavas; and for having the Tiruvoymoli recited—all of which required 2,475 kalams of paddy in all annually; provision was also made for:

(a) three teachers of the Rig Veda, three of the Yajur Veda, one each of Chhandogasama, Talavakara sama, Apurva, Vajasaneya, Bodhayaniya and Styashta(adha) sutra, making a total of twelve teachers, with a total daily allowance of four kalams of paddy;

(b) one person each for expounding the Vedanta, Vyakarana, Rupavatara, Ramayana, Bharata, Manu Sastra and Vaikhanasa Sastra;

(c) sixty students each of the Rig Veda and Yajur Veda, twenty of Chhandogasama, and 50 of other Sastras (making a total of 190 persons) with a total daily ration of 11 kalams, 10 kurunis and four nalis; and

(d) seventy other students of the Vedanta, Vyakarana and Rupavatara.

The provision thus made for feeding the teachers and students detailed above consisted of 9,525 kalams of paddy. Together with the provision for services in the temple mentioned earlier, the total requirements for the year came to 12,000 kalams, which were directed to be measured out by the holders of the 72 velis of land purchased and given for the purpose. It was stipulated that the taram (class) of the land should not be altered at the time of any later general re-classification of lands; that, on this land, no taxes or obligations should be imposed other than eri-ayam, eri-amanji and padikaval: and that the instructors and students of the Vedas, the Bhattas who expounded the Sastras etc. were also exempt from certain payments and obligations. The rest of this huge record is damaged.

Note 2: Later Inscriptions

There are 21 inscriptions of the reign of Kulottunga I in the Vishnu temple at Tribhuvani, from his 3rd to his 49th years. One of his fifth year (ARE 197 of 1919) mentions a gift of land for conducting a festival in the temple of Tiru Nagesvaram udaiya Paramasvamin, a Siva temple in the locality. One of his 6th year (ARE 177 of 1919) registers a gift of land to Kola Varaha Alvar, a Varaha idol installed in the Tribhuvani temple. Two of his ninth year (ARE 184 & 186 of 1919) record a gift of land and of two house-sites for feeding twenty Vaishnavites. The assembly met at night in the mandapa in front of the temple of Viranarayana Vinnagar Alvar (called here “Narnmur imda-deivam” or “the patron-deity of our place”); the donated land was placed in the twelfth grade (for assessment) on the orders of the king.

Some tax-free lands had already been given to the temple of Udavi Tirumanikkuli Mahadevar in Merka nadu (a Siva temple located between Cuddalore and Alappakkam of the present day) but, since they were found insufficient, the local maha sabha made an additional grant of tax-free land to the temple from the area of Trxbhuvana-mahadevi chaturvedimangalam—-an instance of extension of aid to a neighbouring temple in need (ARE 209 of 1919).

One (Pipa)rai Tirunarayana Bhattan alias Kavikumuda Chandra Panditar of Manukula-sanach-cheri composed a kavya on the king, called Kulottungasola charitai. The mahasabha of the taniyuT received a letter from the king, requesting them to listen to the kavya. The mahasabha accordingly met in the half of the temple to listen to the recital of the kavya, and in appreciation of it, made a gift of land to be enjoyed by the poet and his descendants (27th year: ARE 198 of 1919).

In an eastern hamlet of the city,, there was a temple for Durga under the name of Emalattu Durgaiyar Orokara-sundari; Its lands, flower-gardens and tank were registered under class twelve and made a gift of to the temple, in the forty-second year of the king, the newly formed village being called Bhupalasundara vilagam(ARE 207 of 1919).

In his forty-third year, a gift of land for feeding tapasvins and mahesvaras is recorded (ARE 200 of 1919). Another of the same year directed that artisans of any village were to serve only in their own village and were forbidden to serve outside. Perhaps there was a scarcity of artisans in the land during the time.

Two inscriptions of the forty-third and forty-ninth years (ARE 204 and 190 of 1919) refer to the Lord of this temple (presumably) as Ten Tiruvengadattu Emperuman (the Lord of Southern Tirupati) in Tribhuvana-mahadevi chaturvedimangalam, described as a brahmadeyam in Viravatara valanadu, a subdivision of Gangaikondasola valanadu. It is likely that Viravatara was a biruda of Kulottunga I.

An inscription of the forty-eighth year registers a gift of land for feeding itinerant sivayogins and mahesvaras at a local Sivamatnam called Tirunavukkarasu matham (ARE 203 of 1919).

Another inscription of his (ARE 202 of 1919: date lost) refers to a temple called Tiru-merk-koyil and a gift of land made to it for providing offerings to the deity, for festivals thereof, and for feeding pilgrims and sampradayins.

According to Vaishnavite hagiology, one Krimikantha Chola is regarded as the persecutor of Acharya Ramanuja, and he is identified by some Vaishnayite schools of thought with Kulottunga I. Ramanuja lived in exile from the Tamil country between a.d. 1098 and 1122, in Melkote in Karnataka. This alleged persecution by Kulottunga I is discussed in Note 3 at the end of this section. There was extensive royal as well as popular support for Vishnu temples and allied institutions throughout the reign and realm of Kulottunga I. It is hardly conceivable that this king persecuted Ramanuja; the latter’s flight to Karnataka must have been in the wake of some sectarian rivalry, and not to royal or popular hostility to him or his tenets.

There are two inscriptions oi the days of Vikrama Chola. One, of his sixth year (ARE 175 of 1919), mentions a famous general, minister and statesman called Naralokaviran, who played a distinguished role in the reign of Kulottunga I and in the early years of that of Vikrama Chola. He was a great builder of temples and made vast additions to existing ones, and his gifts to them are many and noteworthy. The inscription under reference records a gift of land towards the temple campus, a hall and a flower-garden for the Siva temple of Arulakara Isvaram Udaiyar given in the fifth year of the king by Naralokaviran (alias Arumbakkakkilan Madhurantakan Ponnambalakkuttan alias Porkoyil Tondaimanar, resident of Manavil in Manavil kottam, a district of Jayangondasola mandalam), for the prosperity of the king and the village. Naralokaviran was also known as Arulalan or Arulakaran. He also built a Siva temple of the name of Arulalesvaram at Madhurantakam (Early Chola Temples, pp. 99-101). The above inscription also mentions a flower garden for the image of Parantaka deva set up in the temple called that of Rajarajesvaram Udaiyar (in this area). How we wish we could trace these temples!

The other inscription, of the 9th year (of Vikrama Chola), records a gift of land for weavers of the anuloma class, who enjoyed the privilege of weaving and supplying clothes to temples and kings (ARE 208 of 1919).

An inscription of the later Pallava chief Kopperunjinga (a.d. 1246-1279), a contemporary of Rajaraja Chola III, who hastened the downfall of the Cholas, states that he constructed a temple for Herambha Ganapati on the bund of the tank at Tribhuvani, and that he repaired its embankment, the sluices and the irrigation channels of the tank (ARE 182 of 1919). We recall that the same tank was repaired after a storm in the fortieth year of Kulottunga I. Kop-perunjinga was considerably interested in irrigation projects. The excavation of the Perumal eri (South Arcot district) and the erection of sluices and the strengthening of the bunds of the Olugarai eri (in the Pondicherry territory) stand to his credit; so also, the tanks in the neighbourhood of Tiruvannamalai (vide my book in Tamil, Kopperunjinga, and articles in The Journal of the Madras University).

The last inscription is of the days of the Vijayanagara ruler Viruppanna Udaiyar, dated Saka 1314 (a.d. 1392). It records a gift of land to the temple of Virrirunda Perumal (identical with the Viranarayana or Venkatesa Perumal temple) at Tribhuvani.

Note 3: Alleged Persecution of Ramanuja by Kulottunga I

A list of Inscriptions of the time of Kulottunga I relating to gifts (royal and other) to Vishnu temples is appended below:

Place Regnalyear ARE no. Nature of gift
Arpakkam 2 138/1923 Gift of two lamps to Tiruvil Vinnagar by Queen Trailokya Mahadevi.
Kanchipuram 3 522/1919 The sab ha sold 3 velis of land to Attiyur Alvar (Varadaraja).
Tirumukkudal 5 i73/»9«5 The mahasabha made the temple-lands tax-free in lieu of cash received.
Tirukkoyilur 6 125/1900 Gift of land to Tiru Idaikkali Alvar temple.
  10 I21/1900 Gift of two lamps, to same temple.
Tribhuvani 6 177/1919 Land-gift to Kola Varaha Alvar.
  9 178/1919 Royal gift of 4 velis to Tiruvahindrapura Alvar
  9 186/1919 Royal order fixing the rate of land given to a Vaishnavite feeding-house.
  13 212/1919 Royal order remitting a tax.
Palayasivaram 10 21I/I922 Land sold by sabha to Singapura Alvar in Rajendrasola Vinnagar.
Udaiyarkoyil (near Tiruchcherai, Tanjavur dt.) 16 399/1902 Land-gift to Kulottungasola Vinnagar (on easy terms).
Srirangam 15 61/1892 Gift for singing of liruppalli eluchchi and recitation of Tiruvoymoli.
  18 62/1892 Provision for singing of the second decad of Kulasekhara Alvar’s hymns.
Uttaramerur 19 I70/I923 Gift of land and houses to Rajendrasola Vinnagar for a flower-garden called Kulottungasolan.
Brahmadesam (North Arcot) 21 269/1915 Gift to Perumandapattu Mahavishnukkal temple.
Tiruvendipuram 23 136/1902 20 velis as a royal gift to Tiruvayindrapurattu Alvar temple.
  28 Ramanuja’s flight to Melkote
Pennadam 29 234/1929 Perunguri sabha met in the Suttamalli Alvar temple and made gifts to the Vada Kailasam Udaiya Mahadevar temple.
  38 271/1929 Mandapa built by Malirunjolai, a Minister and worshipper of Vishnu.
Srimushnam 30 231/1916 Villages gifted to Sri Varaha Alvar temple and Siva temple.
  32   The above villages demarcated.
Draksharama (A.P.) 33 349/1889 Temple of black stone for Vishnu built by a Pallava feudatory of king.
Narasingapuram 34 844/I9I° Shrine for Rama, Sita and Lakshmana built in
(Ching. dt.) 35 249/1910 Madhurantaka Vinnagar and land endowment for it.
Karundittaikkudi 35 SII,II, 22. Vishnu temple built in newly organised village settled with 106 chaturvedis.
Tirukkannapuram 36 519/1922 Lamp-gift
Srivilliputtur 38 551/1926 Lamp-gift
Kanchipuram 39 18/1893 Gold-gift to pujaris of Tiruppadagam temple.
  40 8/1921 Land-gift for kitchen use of Ashta-puyakiragattu-ninrarulina Paramasvamin temple.
  48 36/1888 Provision for feeding Sri Vaishnavas during a festival.
Ennayiram 38 348/1917 Royal order to sabha meeting in Rajaraja Vinnagar
Brahmadesam 4i 158/1918 for sale of land towards devapratishtha and jala-pratishtha (temple construction and irrigation works); followed by a chasing-up order.
Tirukkoshtiyur (Ramanathapuram dt.) 50 284/1923 Lamp-gift to local Vishnu temple.

At Tribhuvani, we have inscriptions also of the twenty-third, twenty-seventh, twenty-eighth, forty-second, forty-third and forty-ninth regnal years, relating to miscellaneous subjects (ARE 206, 198, 201, 207, 205 and 203 of 1919) (vide Note 2).

Thus we see that liberal endowments and gifts were made to Vishnu temples and allied institutions by the king, the members of the royal family, his officers and feudatories, and the public at large throughout his long reign and large empire. In the face of such overwhelming evidence, it is difficult to sustain the theory that he was a persecutor of Vaishnavism in general and of Ramanuja in particular. With very few exceptions, all the Cholas followed a policy not merely of negative tolerance but of positive interest in other faiths, devout Saivites as they were. (Also refer to The Colas by K.A. Nilakanta Sastri, p.295 and Note 43 on p.300.){GL_NOTE: 83506 :}

Footnotes and references:


This is perhaps identical with the lake, now in disuse, lying at a distance of less than a kilometre to the west of the Vishnu temple at Tribhuvani.


It is perhaps the lake on whose bund the Tiruvandarkoyil temple is situated.


The biggest Chola endowments for the promotion of Residential Higher Learning were located in the Vishnu temples at Ennayiram, Tribhuvani and Tirumukkudal.

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