Showing posts with label Jainism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jainism. Show all posts

Friday, October 28, 2016

Kurathiarai Cave Temple: Hindu Rock cut Cave near Nagerkoil, Tamil Nadu, India

Picture Courtesy: RK Lakshmi (Facebook)
Kurathiyarai (குறத்தியறை) Rock cut cave temple is located in Thovalai (தோவாளை) taluk of Kanyakumari district, Tamil Nadu, India PIN 629851 and the village is forming part of  Azhagiapandiapuram (அழகியபாண்டியபுரம்), town panchayat. Kurathiyarai village is situated in the Nagerkoil - Kadukkarai road. Take diversion before Azhagiapadiapuram and and find out muddy road and travel one km to reach this village. The geographical coordinates of Azhagiapandiapuram are 8°18′35″N latitude 77°26′45″E longitude. As of 2001 India census, Azhagiapandiapuram had a population of 12,060 5966 male and 6074 female). Azhagiapandiapuram is 17 km away from Nagerkoil, 

Kanyakumari district well known for places of legendary, historical and artistic importance. You would be enthralled to see the lush green paddy fields, swaying palms, meandering dusty gravel  roads, bullock carts crawling with loads of straw bale, and criss-crossing water streams. Agriculture is the main occupation in this region. Thovalai and the surrounding area is involved in the fresh flower industry for sale to domestic and foreign markets. The Nagerkoil is the base destination to visit Kanyakumari, Udayagiri fort, Padmanabhpuram Palace, Muttam Beach, Tengapattinam Beach, and Krishnancoil temple.


The south facing rock cut cave is excavated on the slope of the hillock at the outskirts of the village. The cave cell is excavated 0.95 cm in width and 1.77 m in height and east-west in orientation. The entrance is 80 cm in width and 1.30 m in height. Local people made provision for wooden door and walls coated with cement. 

The horse shoe shaped cave excavation remains incomplete and the floor, roof and walls of the cave appear coarse. The sanctum is 1.52 m in east-west in length and 1.13 m north- south in width and 2.04 m in height. The niche carved on the rear wall measures 40 cm in height. The niche, flanked by two square pilasters,  houses Lord Vishnu. The pilasters support the angular potika and uttira.  The prastara including vajanam, valabi and kapota are absent.  

Picture Courtesy: RK Lakshmi (Facebook)

Lord Vishnu image appears in samapatha sthanaka posture on the rear wall and image is dull and smudged with oil. The Lord wears kreeta makuta, kundala ear-ring, yagnopavita (sacred cord) runs across his chest, and drapes dhoti as a five fold tuck in wrap (panchkacha) and the waist cloth (idaikattu) is tucked with knot. He holds the chanka (conch) in his back right hand and his back left hand holds Chakra (disc wheel). His right forearm rests on the hip and the left forehand kept half folded. Scholars assign the date of Vishnu as eighth century A.D. 

Picture Courtesy: RK Lakshmi (Facebook)

Two niches carved are carved outside on the rock slope one on each side of the cave entrance. The niche on the west of the entrance is 89 cm in height and 63 cm in width and houses Vinayagar idol The Vinayagar is seated in posture described as ‘Lalitasana’ (posture of royal ease) with his right leg drawn up and folded and the left leg resting on the ground. The Lord in ‘Lalitasana’ represents a calm and relaxed deity and the idol appear with trunk to the right side is known as valampuri Vinayagar (வலம்புரி விநாயகர்). The Lord wears karanda-makutam (கரண்டமகுடம்), sarapali (சரப்பளி) in the neck, armlets (தோள்வளை), bracelets (கைவளை) and short robe around the waist. The right tusk is present while left tusk is absent. The back left hand is damaged and the back right hand shows kapitha mudra. The right fore-hand holds an object which is not unidentifiable and left forehand rests on the lap.

The image on eastern niche is left incomplete and sculpting do not show any shape. However the local people worship this image as Avvaiyar.  Although the presiding deity in this cave is Vishnu, the temple is locally known as Avvaiyaaramman koil. The image on the left side of Lord Vishnu is believed to be that of Avvai.


The worship of Avvaaiyar in Thovalai taluk in Kanyakumari district is locally as Avvai Nonbu or Avvai Vratham. The Tuesdays of Tamil month Adi is most auspicious for Avvaiyar worship. Womenfolk offer 'Kozhukkattai' (steam boiled rice ball with sweet stuffing) to Avvaiyaaramman.

From inscriptions from Chitharal mountain, there was a Jain cave temple at the top of Chitharal mountain and was known as Thiru Charanathu Malai.  The monks belonging to the Digambara sect established Thiru Charanathu Palli – the abode of Jain monks during 9th century A.D. Thiru Charanathu Palli was a dynamic center of Jain learning - a monastery and a school. The male teacher was called ‘kuravar’ and the female teacher ‘kurathi.’ The word Kurathi (குறத்தி) also denotes a Jain nun. Influence of Jainism in Kurathiyarai is evident from the first syllable 'Kurathi. The inscription also cites the Ay king Vikramaditya Varaguna (885-925 AD). The scholars assign the date of the cave to 8th century A.D.

How to get there?

Bus Route: Thovalai is well connected by bus from Nagerkoil and Kanyakumari.
Nearest Railway station: Nagercoil Junction is a major railway junction connecting the southern tip of India with all parts of India.
Nearest Airport Thiruvananthapuram


  1. Kurathiarai Rock-cut Cave -Nagercoil -Kanyakumari DistrictRK Lakshmi. Facebook.
  2. Tales of Avvaiyaar March 6, 2009 (
  3. குறத்தியறை.  மு. நளினி. வரலாறு.காம் இதழ்  47. மார்ச் 16 - ஏப்ரல் 17, 2008.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Thirunanthikarai Cave Temple

Thirunandhikarai, (Tamil: திருநந்திக்கரை, Malayalam: തിരുനന്തികര )  also known as Thirunandhikara, rock cut cave is located in Thirunandhikarai village, Kalkulam (கல்குளம்) taluk, Kanyakumari (கன்னியாகுமரி மாவட்டம்) district, Tamil Nadu state, India PIN 629161. This village is located in the Kulasekaram (குலசேகரம்) - Pechipparai (பேச்சிப்பாறை) road and forms part of Thirparappu special village panchayat and Kulasekharam post office limit. The Latitude and Longitude coordinates of Kulasekaram are N 8° 22' 5.1445" (8.368096°) and E 77° 18' 3.0622" (77.300851°) respectively. The elevation / altitude of Kulasekaram is 280 meters (920 feet) above sea level.  

Kanyakumari, mostly preferred by travelers since it has many tourist attractions. There are around 25 tourist places in Kanyakumari district for the travelers to explore and they include Vivekananda Rock Memorial, Muttom Beach, Keeriparai Reserve Forest, and Ullakaarvi, all vie for attention. Other charmers include Government Museum, Thanumalayan Temple, and Kanyakumari Wildlife Sanctuary. Thirparappu Falls (திற்பரப்பு அருவி) is the famous falls in the Kothai River (கோதை  ஆறு). Kulasekaram has many rubber plantations. and has a respectable transport network Thirunandhikarai village and cave are located 3 km from Kulasekaram, 11 km from Pechiparai Dam (பேச்சிப்பாறை அணை), 5 km from Thriparappu Waterfalls, 38 km from Nagerkoil and 50 km from Kanyakumari. The nearest airport is at Thiruvananthapuram. The best season to visit places in Kanyakumari is between February - December. ISRO chairman Mr. Madhavan Nair was born and brought up in Thirunandhikarai.

There are two important Shiva temples in Thirunandhikarai:  Thirunanthikara Nanthishwaran Temple and Thirunandhikara Cave Temple. Nanthishwaran Temple is situated on the river banks of Nandhiaaru. Thirunandhikarai is the fourth shivalayam among the 12 saivite shrines in Kanyakumari district (1 Tirumalai, 2 Thikkurichi, 3 Thirparappu, 4 Thirunandhikkarai, 5 Ponmanai, 6 Pannippagam, 7 Kallkkulam, 8 Melancode, 9 Thiruvidaicode, 10 Thiruvithamkode, 11 Thiruppanticode and 12 Thirunattalam). There will be a marathon run by saivite devotees from shrine Thirumalai, the first shivalayam, to the twelfth, Thirunattalam on the day of Shivratri.  The traditional Shiva temple also houses shrines for Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu.

The south facing Thirunandhikkarai rock cut cave temple is excavated on the southern slope of the hillock and therefore the cave lies in an east-west orientation. The cave floor is formed 4 m above the ground level. A flight of ten steps (including the two steps provided later by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), leads to the cave. Eight steps sculpted on the (mother) rock slope. The facade is 4.97 m in the north-south and 0.51 cm in the east-west directions. The evenly leveled rock ground is 5.68 m in the east-west and 64 cm in the south-north directions. The finely leveled rock floor is formed 4 cm above the rock ground and measures about 52 cm in the south-north and 5.40 m in the east-west directions. The upana is sculpted 5 cm above the rock floor and runs from east to west.  

The facade is 4.97 m in the north-south and 0.51 cm in the east-west directions. It consists of two massive pillars in the middle and two pilasters on the corners. The pillars and the pilasters are square-kattu-square in shape. The plain angular potikas (corbels) support the slender uttira (beam). and there is no vajana above uttira. The rough rock brow forms the kapota (not designed well). The canopy of the kapota is flat. and do not incline downwards. Above the brow there are two rectangular sockets. There are also two sockets on the rock floor. These four sockets suggest the chances of forming temporary shed (பந்தல்). One meter above the kapota, bhumidesa is indicated with grooves and carvings. 

The mother rock excavated well from top to down to match slopes of the hillock. The western wall is 1.97 m in height and 1.04 m in width  and the eastern wall is 1.89 m in height and 1.19 m in width. There are two 1.54 m tall (shallow) niches on both the walls and Vettezhuthu inscriptions.(வட்டெழுத்து கல்வெட்டுக்கள்) are inscribed. The Vattezhuthu inscription on the 82 cm wide eastern wall is damaged and the other inscription on the western wall is intact. The upper square, kattu and part of lower square of the western facade pillar bear another Vettezhuthu inscription.

The facade leads to the rectangular mukha-mandapam which is 0.86 m in the north-south and 3.28  m in the east-west directions and 2.23 m in height. The inner-mandapam floor is raised to 0.6 cm in height. The mukha-mandapam floor is evenly sculpted. The plain eastern and western walls of mukha-mandapam show prastara components i.e., uttiram and vajanam between wall and the roof. The vajana is running through out the mandapam. The inner-mandapam on the rear is 5.40 m in east-west and 2.42 m in north-south directions and 2.18 m in height. Two square pilasters on either side of the cave walls of the inner-mandapam are supporting the uttira. The walls are plain.  The roof of the mandapa is well formed. 

The square sanctum is 2.16 m in all the four sides and 2.17 m height,. The walls and roof are plain. The Shiva Lingam is instituted in a socket pit which is 70 cm in east-west and 1 m in north-south directions. The square avudai is 82 cm in north-west and 78 cm in east-west directions and 0.53 cm in height. The external faces of avudai  is embellished with padhabandha adishtana with components such as jagadhi (ஜகதி), octogonal kumudam (குமுதம்), khantam with pada flanked by kampa and without patiikai.  The rudra bana is 44 cm in height. A small pit is shown towards north to receive the anointed water. A water chute is seen running up to the north wall and east wall of the sanctum and continued in the east wall of the mukha-mandapam. 

The northern wall of the inner-mandapam is washed with stucco coatings (sudhai) and painted with mural paintings. The mural paintings are considered as important since paintings belongs to earlier phase of Kerala mural art. The line paintings include the human figure with folded right hand on the chest and wears necklace with dollar. The right leg is folded and rested on the seat. The left leg could not be viewed.

The Ganapathy image is sculpted on the western wall of the mukha mandapam. The Lord wears Karandamakutam with head band, yagnopavitha, armlets and bracelets. The right rear-hand holds broken tusk, right fore-hand holds an unknown object, the rear left-hand holds sugar cane leaves and the fore-hand is damaged. The left tusk is visible and the right one could not be seen. The Vidyadharar is seen above right hand corner of Ganapathi. The flying figure holds a flower.


Ay dynasty  ruled the land between Nagercoil and Thiruvalla and Vizhinjam, The Ay Kingdom located to the south of Chera kingdom "functioned for long as an effective buffer state between the declining Chera kingdom and an emerging Pandya Kingdom." Ay dynasty was later known as Venad (வேள்நாடு / வேணாடு) dynasty. This land was also the scene of many battles. In 788 A.D, Vikramaditya Varaguna (885–925), an illustrious Ay ruler ruled Venad. 

Jatilavarman Parantaka (Maranjadayan) the Pandya king waged a war over Ay kingdom and encircled Vizhinjam port. The Pandya conquered the Ays and made it a tributary state. Still the Ays refused to submit and fought against Pandyas for almost a century. Despite frequent defeats Cheras continued to exist as a fighting force. During ninth century Cheras rose again as a notable power. This region came under Cheras during the reign of Bhaskara Ravi Varman Tiruvadi (978 - 1036 A.D.). Rajaraja Chola I waged a war against the Venad ruler and captured the southern region and named it as Rajaraja Tennadu. Muttom is the fishing village in Kalkulam taluk. Rajaraj Chola I named it as Mummudi Chola Nallur. 

The department of archaeology was started under the initiative of Professor Sundaram Pillai and the then Maharajah of Travancore, Moolam Thirunal Rama Varma sanctioned the monthly grant of Rs. 50.00 for its functioning. The renowned  epigraphist T. A. Gopinatha Rao was employed as first Superintendent in the year 1908. T.A. Gopinatha Rao edited and published The Travancore Archaeological Series (T.A.S.) from 1910. Thus T.A.S. inaugurated the systematic survey and collection of inscriptions in the erstwhile Travancore state. The scholar also visited Thirunandhikarai and Chitharal caves in 1920-21 and copied and recorded the inscriptions from the caves. .According to T.A.Gopinatha Rao, the cave temple was built during the reign of the king Vikramaditya Varaguna. Chitharal was erected at Tirucharanam at the behest of a Jain priestess called Muttavala Naranakuttiyar, who also presented the temple a metallic lamp stand and a golden flower. Rao also believed that Thirunandhikkarai rock cut cave was excavated by Vikramaditya Varaguna, the Ay ruler in 9th century A.D in simple Pandya style. The rock cut caves were the founding caves of Jainism.  Thirunandhikarai cave also served as dwelling place to Jain ascetic Veeranandi, who came from Thirunarunkondai Melappalli and preached Jainism during 8th century. One more cave temple Kurathiarai  was also excavated in the ninth century when this region was under the influence of Jainism. Thirunandhikarai rock cut cave is under the maintenance of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).


This cave has four Vattezhuthu (வட்டெழுத்து) inscriptions (Travancore Archaeological Series (T. A. S.) vol. I., p. 413.)  inscribed one on each side of the entrance and others on each side of the pillars. One of which bears the name of the ruler and his regnal year. The inscription, dated in the 18th regnal year of Rajaraja Chola I (முதலாம் இராஜராஜ சோழன்) found on the western cave wall, registers the gift of Muttom (முட்டம்), the village  (name changed as Mummudi-chola-nallur மும்முடிச்சோழநல்லூர்) in Valluva-nadu (வள்ளுவநாடு) under Rajaraja-thennadu (இராஜராஜ தென்னாடு). The gift was made for the celebration of a festival for Mahadeva of Tirunandikarai (திருநந்திக்கரை மகாதேவர்) and also for ablution of the deity in the river, on the Satabhisha, star (சதய நட்சத்திரம்) day in the Tamil month Aippasi, (ஐப்பசி) (October - November) in the year 1003 A.D, being the birthday of the king. Records a provision made by the king for supply of one nazhi (நாழி) measure ghee every day for lighting the perpetual lamp in the name of Rajaraja Chola I in the temple.

Inscription Travancore Archaeological Series (T. A. S.) Vol. III, p. 206 records gift of nine buffalo(s) for the provision of burning a perpetual lamp with one uri measure ghee each day for Tirunandikarai Lord by Ainurruva Mutharaiyan alias Sithakutti Ambi of Veikottumalai under Nanjilnadu and the buffalo(s) were handed-over to Idayarmangalavan Pavithiran, an official serving under the village elders (sabha).  The inscription commences with these words 'the year of annihilation weaponry in Karaikanda Eswaram (‘கறைக்கண்ட ஈசுவரத்துக் கலமறுத்த யாண்டு’) refering the date of inscription. According to Gopinatha Rao, the temple 'Karaikanda Eswaram'  is the saivite temple located near Katikaipattinam in Eranial taluk. The inscription was inscribed in an year when the Chera war-ships were destroyed in Karaikanda Eswaram.    

Inscription Travancore Archaeological Series (T. A. S.) Vol. III, pp. 200-203 inscribed on a pillar, whose date assignable to eight century A.D., records the gift of 'Ur' (ஊர்-a village). For this purpose one Dhaliyazhavan (தளியாழ்வான்), along with the 'elders' of Tirunandikarai (திருநந்திக்கரை பெருமக்கள்) assembled in Kurunthambakkam (குருந்தம்பாக்கம்). The assembly converted the Ur's name into Sri Nandimangalam and gifted to one Nambi Ganapathi (நம்பி கணபதி) for purposes of mid-night offerings (நள்ளிரவுத் திருவமுது) to the Lord of the temple. The four boundaries (எல்லைகள்) are cited for the village under gift and include a river (name not known) (ஒரு பெயரற்ற ஆறு), Nandhi river (நந்தியாறு), Mudukonur (முதுகோனூர்) and Pakkamangalam (பாக்கமங்கலம்). Gopinatha Rao, who copied and recorded the inscription, has pointed out the present existence of  Mudukonur and Pakkamangalam near Nandhimangalam.

Inscription Travancore Archaeological Series (T. A. S.) Vol. III, pp. 203-206 comprising 40 lines was inscribed on another pillar. This inscription records the gift of land by Mangalacheri Narayanan Sivakaran to Tiruvallavazh Mahadevar of Tirunandikarai  (திருநந்திக்கரையில் உறையும் திருவல்லவாழ் மகாதேவர்). The inscription lists out the land pieces. Resolved the wages to be issued from the land produce accrued from the above land: four measures (கலம் Kalam) to Santhipuram, five measures (கலம் Kalam) to Uvachar (category of temple staff), five measures (கலம் Kalam) to Udayar (category of temple staff) and cleaning staff as well as for puja rituals, The perpetual lamps were lit using 60 measures (uri - உரி) of ghee from the remaining land produce. 

How to get there?

Road Transport : Thirunandhikarai and its nearest town Kulasekaram are well connected from Thirvananthapuram or Kovalam Beach or Kanyakumari. You can get busses from Nagercoil, Thuckalay, Marthandam, Kulasekaram. Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC) organizes local site seeing tours. 

Nearest Railway Station is Marthandam. Nagerkoil railway station is 15 km away. Kanyakumari railway station is connects with major cities in India.

Nearest Airport is Trivandrum International Airport.

  1. A topographical list of the inscriptions of the Madras presidency (collected till 1915) with notes and references by Rangacharya, V. (Vijayaraghava); Archaeological Survey of India 1919
  2. Kerala State Archaeology Department (Wikipedia)
  3. On the southern tip of India, a village steeped in the past. The Hindu November 17, 2011
  4. Thirunandikkara Cave Temple in Thirparappu in Kanyakumari. Yatra to (
  5. Thirunanthikarai (Wikipedia)
  6. Thirunanthikarai Cave Temple. C.P.R. Environmental Education Centre, Chennai. (
  7. Thirunanthikarai Cave Temple. (
  8. Thirunanthikarai inscription. Kerala (
  9. திருநந்திக்கரைக் குடைவரை இரா.கலைக்கோவன், மு.நளினி வரலாறு.காம் இதழ் 63 (செப்டம்பர் 15 - அக்டோபர் 15, 2009)

Monday, October 10, 2016

Kallil Bhagavathy cave temple: Jain / Buddhist Natural Cave in Methala near Ernakulam, Kerala

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Kallil Bagavathy Temple
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Tirthankara Bas Relief
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Jain Saint
Kallil (കല്ലിൽ) cave temple,  a Jain temple, is located in Methala (മേത്തല) village, Koovappady (കൂവപ്പാടി) taluk, Ernakulam (എറണാകുളം) District, Kerala, India PIN 683545 and forms part of Asamannoor (അശമന്നൂർ) Panchayat. The Methla town in Trissur district should not be confused with this village. The cave temple is located 42 km towards East from district head quarters Ernakulam. 10 km from Koovappady. 22 km away from Kalady (കാലടി) (birth place St. Sankaracharya (ശങ്കരാചാര്യാ), 217 km from state capital Thiruvananthapuram. Kallil means 'in stone' in Malayalam language. The geographical coordinates of Mathala are 10.112921°N Lattitude and 76.5517132°E Longitude. The altitude / elevation is 30 m (100 feet). According to the 2011 census of India, Asamannoor has 4714 households and the population is 19311 (Male 9574, Female 9737) . The literacy rate of the village is 84.57%. The temple is owned by the Kallil Pisharody (കല്ലിൽ പിഷാരോടി) family. The overall administrative control of the temple remains with the present Karanavar (കാരണവർ) of the family and all its properties maintained by 'Chenkottukonam Sree Ramadasashramam' (സെൻകോട്ടുക്കോണം  ശ്രീ രാമദാസ് ആശ്രമം). But all that retrieved back due to some hassle between local people and Ashram authorities. The monument is protected by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

Kallil Bhagavathy in Natural Cave

Kallil Bhagavathy (കല്ലിൽ ഭഗവതി), is natural cavern where legend, myth and history meet. It is considered one among prime ancient Jain temples in Kerala. It is located right in the middle of a jungle and it is as wide as 28 acres,  It is located beneath the huge monolith rock measuring a 75 feet in length, 45 feet in width and 25 feet in height and it stands sans the support on the ground. The flight of 120 steps leads to the cave temple. It is believed that the inception of the temple might date back to third century B.C.. Scholars also agree with this theory. The Jain cave temple is now converted and dedicated to Bhagavathy (a ferocious form of Mahishasurmardini i.e., form of Shakti). Bhagavathy is the prime deity of this cave temple.

Jain Images

The bas relief image of Lord Brahma is sculpted on top of the rock. It is believed that the rock is standing stable on its position due to the grace of Bhagavathy. The cave temple also houses images of Parshvanatha (also known as Parshva),  the twenty-third Tirthankara and Mahavira, (also known as Vardhamāna),  the twenty-fourth and last Jain Tirthankara and Padmāvatī the protective goddess or shashan devi of Lord Parshvanatha. The Jain monks might have frequented this cave and performed religious practices.

Bhagavathy Cult

The worship of Bhagavathi is popular and widespread in Kerala, Goa and Konkan. The Bhagavathi worship is also a part of Theyyam (Theyyattam ) (തെയ്യം) (spirit) worship, a popular ritual form of worship of North Malabar in Kerala. The term theyyam is a corrupt form of Dhaivam or God. It is also popular ritual art form of northern Kerala especially prevalent in the traditional Kolathunadu (the present Kannur and Kasargod Districts). Keralopathy, the popular historical book cites about the sanctioning of the festival such as Kaliyattam (i.e., Theyyattam or Daivattam) by Saint. Parasurama to the Keralites. The responsibility of performing Theyyam dance is assigned, by the saint, with the indigenous communities like Panan, Velan, Vannan and Malayan and Velan.

Theyyam Communities and Tamil Sangam Dance Traditions

Theyyam dancers are referred to in the sangam literature. The dancer, as per Sangam tradition, was "employed by the mothers of love born girls to exercise the malignant spirits from their daughters." The rituals of Sangam tradition described in Tamil Sangam literature (including Sangam commentaries are being totally observed by Velan and other dancing traditions. The Sangam literature describes Ezhimalai, the hilly region ruled by Udayan Venmon Nannan. It is believed that Ezhimalai region is now known as the present Kolathunadu near Payyannur. Hence it is believed that the Tamil Sangam Age cult still continues with regional variations.

Tantric Vajrayana Buddhism Vs Brahminical Hinduism in Kerala

Until the medieval period the people were almost Buddhists in mid and south Kerala. It will be surprising to learn that most of the popular Hindu temples in Kerala including Vaikam were originally Mahayana shrines and Buddhist Viharas, nunneries and monasteries. It is believed that Mahayana Boddhisatva idols are converted to gods Hindu pantheon i.e, Muruga, Ayyappa and Kuttikrishna in caste Hindnu temples. The Vajrayana Siddhas and Tara Devis began to be increasingly called as Tozhuvans and Hindu Bhagavatis in the post middle ages. Tara Devi turned from Buddhist Vajrayana Siddhi to Bhagavathi (Durga). In the 16th century Chennas wrote Tantra Samuchayam and absorbed the Tantric Buddhist deities into the Tantric Brahmanic mode, eventually completing the take over. The scholars believe that Tantric Vajrayana (tantric corpus of Buddhism) practice within the Buddhism might have led to Bhagavathy cult. Since Buddhism wiped out in Kerala i.e., in the dominant matriarchial setting, the Tara cult might have transformed into Sakthi cult and Spirit worship.

Untouchability and Class Struggle of Avaranas in Kerala

The Brahmanical Hinduism preached Varna (caste) system and the untouchability practice was enforced on the Avarnas including the current Scheduled Castes and Other Backward Classes between the 8th and 12th century in Kerala. The Avaranas were prohibited from walking on the roads surrounding the temple.  The cast Hindus (Brahminical Hinduism) might have enforced untouchability out of fear over Avaranas (original Buddhists who owned the temple i.e., Buddhist Viharas, nunneries and monasteries) and if Avaranas are permitted to access into the Hindu temples, they might recapture their own Buddhist Viharas, nunneries and monasteries.

Pooja Rituals

Daily Poojas are performed to the deity as per Kerala Agamas. The temple remin closed after midday (noon) and no poojas after sunset.


The annual festival of this temple is conducted for eight days commencing from the 'Karthika day' in Vrischikam month or Karthikai month (November–December). The idol is taken around on a female elephant for procession.

How to get there?

By Road: To reach the temple one has to travel a distance of about 2 km from Odakkali, on the Aluva Munnar Road and 10 km from Perumbavoor. Perumbavoor is the nearest town.
Nearest Railway station: There is no railway station near to Methala in less than 10 km. How ever Alwaye Rail Way Station is major railway station 22 km near to Methala 
Nearest Airport: Cochin Airport – 25 km


  1. Buddhism in Kerala. Ayaysekhar Margins January 3rd, 2010 (
  2. Dalava Kulam Massacre: Caste Killing in 19th Century Kerala Ajaysekhar in Margins . September 28, 2015 (
  3. Boddhisatva Idols from Kerala: Modification of Utariya into Sacred Thread and the Problems of Misrepresentation Ajaysekhar in Margins January 27, 2015 ( 
  4. Kasargod (
  5. Rise and fall of Buddhism in Kerala R Madhavan Nair. The Hindu. February 5, 2012
  6. Siddha of Kayikara: Vajrayana in Kerala. Ayaysekhar Margins January 12th, 2013 (
  7. Sree Kallil Bhagavathy Temple, Methala ( 
  8. Tara Buddhism (Wikipedia)
  9. Theyyam (Wikipedia)
  10. Theyyam : A Ritual Art Form of North Kerala. Map of India. April 14, 2015 (
  11. The Bhagavathi cult. Tulu Research. January 16, 2008.
  12. Vajrayana (Wikipedia)
  13. Vajrayana Buddhism Vis-Ã -vis Hindu Tantricism by Acharya Mahayogi Sridhar Rana Rinpoche (
  14. What wiped the Buddhism traces from Kerala History? History Beta (


        Friday, March 13, 2015

        Tirunelveli Region Travelogue (Pandyan Yatra 2015) Part 3.2: Kalugumalai Jain Monastery

        Picture courtesy: Bhusavalli Pandyan Yatra 2015 Kalugumalai Jain Monastery

        Kazhugumalai Jain Monastery 

        Kalugumalai is an ancient Jain heritage site that has the natural cavern with rock beds where Jain ascetics observed vigorous penance and an academic center for imparting knowledge in Jain theology for 300 years during early Pandya regime. A veritable open-air gallery of diminutive sculptures of Jina or Tirthankara in three long rows, bold relief panels of Jinas - Adinatha, Parsvanatha, Mahavira, Bahubali, Ambika Yakshi and Padmavati Yakshi. The open-air bas relief is an ensemble of over one hundred and fifty images sculpted with great skills on top of the granite rocky expanse.

        The Jain ascetics,  sravakas (disciple), male scholars (bhttarars) and women scholars (kurattigal or nuns) from far off places in Tamilakam traveled to Kalugumalai and stayed in the natural caverns and resolved to spend their lives in splendid isolation, engaging themselves in contemplation and religious pursuits. They also taught or learned Jain theology and propagated Jainism from the 8th century A.D.  Kalugumalai is a "must go place" if you like Jain heritage and architecture. The name Kalugumalai (vultures' hill) originated quite recently i.e, about 200 years or less.

        History of Jainism under Early Pandya Reign

        It is important, for one who knows little about Jainism, to understand the history of Jainism under early Pandya reign to realize the intense rivalry of vedic or brahminical religion and the up-rise of the Bakthi movement and the hostile conditions under which Jains have survived and maintained and practiced their religion.

        The 24 Tirthankaras or Arihants or Jinas were instrumental in spreading the doctrines of Jainism. Among the 24 Tirthankaras the first 22 were mythological personages and Parswantaha the 23rd Tirthankara (877–777 B.C.) and Mahavira the 24th Tirthankara (599 –527 B.C.) were the historical personages. The Sruktakevalin Badrabahu (433 - 357 BC ?) and Vaisaka Munivar, the last two pattadhars or disciples of Mahavira (totally 11 pattadhars or disciples),  were instrumental in founding Jainism in Tamil Nadu, especially in the early Pandya country. On foreseeing famine in large magnitude, Badrabahu left the Kingdom of Magada with the Maurya King Chandragupta (340 BC - 298 BC) and the Jain followers and reached Sravanabelagola in Mysore. Badrabahu acted as the Jain Acharya (religious head) of the Jains. From Sravanabelagola Badrabahu sent his disciple, Vaisaka Munivar, to the neighboring Chola and Pandya kingdoms to spread the gospel of Jainism to the laity.  It is believed that these mendicants reached the Pandya country first as early as the Sangam period - around 300 B.C. The Pandya rulers of the Sangam era were tolerant and broad minded in their religious prospect and hence all religions including Jainism prospered during their reign.

        Mahavamsa, a Buddhist text affirms that Jainism was followed in Tamil Nadu even before the 3rd century B.C. Some other scholars believe that Jainism entered South India well before the visit of Bhadrabahu and Chandragupta around 6th century B.C. During 3rd century A.D. Digambara, a sect of Jainism with nudist adherents, recognized itself from the Svetambara, another sect with white-clad adherents. Digambara monks observed full monastic life  and the female wore white clothes and called as Aryikas. The Mula sangh (original assembly) was the ancient assembly and monastic order of Jain monks came from 430 A.D. and this Mula sangh was divided into four major groups: 1. Nandi Gana (நந்தி கணம்), 2. Sena Gana (சேன கணம்),  3. Deva Gana (தேவ கணம்) and 4. Simha Gana (சிம்ம கணம்). Every Gana had sub-sects such as Kachai (கச்சை) and Anvayam (அனுவயம்). The Pallankoil copper plate (பல்லன் கோயில் செப்பேடு) mentions about Vajra Nandi (வஜ்ர நந்தி), the Chief Jain monk Nandi Gana. Another Chola inscription refers about Gani Sekara Maruporsuryan, name of Jain monk from Nandi Gana. Tirugnana Sambandar (திருஞான சம்மந்தர்) in one of his Tevaram hymns (தேவாரம் பதிகம்) cites few monks such as  Kanaka Nandi, Putpa Nandi, Bhavana Nandi, Kumanama Sunaka Nandi, Kunaka Nandi and Dhivana Nandi from Nandi Gana. Bhava Nandi is the author who composed the Tamil Grammar work.

            ‘‘கனக நந்தியும் புட்ப நந்தியும் பவண நந்தியும் குமணமா
            சுனக நந்தியும் குணக நந்தியும் திவண நந்தியும் மொழிகொளா
            அனக நந்தியர்’’

        Dramila Sanga (திரமிள சங்கம்) or Dravida Sanga (திராவிட சங்கம்) branched from Nandi Gana and Vajra Nandi was instrumental in instituting Dravida Sanga in Madurai in 470 A.D. (Vikrama year விக்கிரம ஆண்டு - 526).

        However the splendid era of Jainism reached its down-slope due to intense rivalry between the vedic or brahminical religions and the up-rise of the Bhakti movement (பக்தி இயக்கம்) in Tamilakam (தமிழகம்) during 7th century  influenced the decline of Jainism in the 7th century A.D. Soon Jainism recovered from the adversities and it became a religion accommodating of the practices from brahmanical religion to withstand religious animosity and the sectarian rancor.

        Jain Iconography

        Jainism and Jain iconography attached much importance to ritualistic practices and idolatry worship of Jina, Arihant, or 24 Tirthankaras. Jain iconography depicts Tirthankara or Jina appear seated in a lotus posture on the lion throne or standing meditative posture (kayotsarga). The Tirthankaras generally have a triangular mole symbol (Sri-vatsa mark) on their chest, a triple umbrella and a circular halo (radiant light drawn around the head) above their heads and a distinctive lanchana or symbol indicated on the pedestal. The lanchanas are listed in such texts as Tiloyapannati, Kahavaali and Pravacanasaarodhara. Unless the conspicuous lanchana of Tirthankara shown or his name finds mention in dedicatory inscriptions, it is not possible to differentiate the specific Tirthankara image. Two exceptions are there: Parsvanatha identified with five hooded serpent and Adinatha (Rishabanatha) with lock falling on his shoulders.

        The early ascetic-abodes in natural cavern (wherein iconic and ritualistic worship of Tirthankaras and their attendant deities received little attention  till about the 6th century A.D.) lost their prominence in the wake of Bhakti movement.  Yaksha and yakshini, or male and female Sasana-devatas or demigods or attendant / guarding spirits, who are also the devotees the Tirthankaras. According to Jain belief, Indra appoints one Yaksha and one Yakshini to serve as attendants for each Tirthankara. Soon the cult of Yakhas like Yaksharaja (Sarvahna or Sarvanubhuti) and Dharanendra Yaksha as well as Yakshis like Ambika, Chakreswari Devi, Jvalamalini, Padmavati Yakshini became popular. 

        Several Jaina cavern in Pandyan region including Anamalai, Alagarmalai, Aivarmalai, Chitaral, Kilakuyilkudi,  Kalugumalai, Tirupparankunram, Uttamapalayam etc could be mentioned as the best examples for such new development.  Further to this Jain monks like Ajjanandi bhatarar, Gunasahara bhatara, Kanakanandi bhatara of Kurandai, Pavanandi bhatara, Arattanemi bhatarar, Vajranandi  and few others played the predominant role in spreading Jainism and Jain iconography and speeding up its growth. (SII, Vol. XIV, No. 102; Vol. 5, Nos. 310, 311, 359, 380, 397 etc.).

        Pandya kings like Maran Sendan (-624 A.D.) and Arikesari Parankusa (624-674 A.D.) reposed strong faith in Jainism and the later Pandya rulers like Srimara Srivallabha (811-860 A.D) and Parantaka Viranaryana (866-911 A.D), lent adequate support to Jainism and Jain iconography. The inscriptions of Parantaka Viranarayana found at Kalugumalai as well as in Anaimalai, Arivarmalai and Arittapatti speak about the growth of monastic establishments here.

        Kalugumalai Jain Bas Relief Images

        Lisa Nadine Owen in her monograph, 'Demarcating sacred space: The Jina images at Kalugumalai' published in International Journal of Jaina Studies. 6 (4): 2010. pp 1 -28, explored the types arrangement of approximately one hundred and fifty independent bas relief sculptures of Jinas and Jain deities on the surface of its rock formations in Kalugumalai accompanied by individual donative inscriptions. The rectangular or square niches present the bas relief images. The author represented five separate  groups of images, based on the directional approach - the order in which one views the bas reliefs from north-west to south-east and not based on the chronology order i.e, from ninth or early tenth century A.D. (chronology as viewed by the author) for further analysis and discussion.

        Group 1

        From the Sastha temple you may find steps leading to the lone panel of Jina / Tirthankara. The rock face is enclosed within barbed wire fence. Lisa Owen categorizes this lone Jina / Tirthankara as Group 1. The deeply hewn niche measures about four feet in height. The Jina appear seated on lion pedestal with an elaborate throne back comprising a bolster and crossbar decorated with makara and vyla motifs at both the ends.  Behind the crossbar two fly-whisk bearers come out into view; also two more ardent male followers located at the sides of throne base. The Jina is crowned by the triple umbrella (chattra). The Tirthankara is seated under the broader canopy of foliage curls. The five foliage circle motifs are arranged in a semi-circle form and the middle circle bear the figurine of dancing girl and the four other circles bear four male musicians (two of the playing long string instrument and two others beat the drum with a pair of cymbals. The ethereal figures appear on top and to the sides of Jina with hands holding the lotus flowers and offering homage. Also figurines in a panel depicting a horse rider and an emerging elephant. Date assigned by the author - ninth or early tenth century.

        Group 2 Jain Image Panels

        Group 2

        To the south - east of Group 1, five panels appear on a rock face just behind an Ayyanar temple. Lisa Owen assigns these panels as Group 2. The Ayyanar temple complex presents Ayyanar, Tamil village folk (prime) deity, gigantic and colorful statues of companion deities of Ayyanar seen mounted on horses or elephants. The Ayyanar temple, constructed about 100 years before the rock face, prevents from viewing the Group 2 and Group 3 panels.  Three distinctly bold panels, striking iconographic resemblance with Group 1 panels, are arranged horizontally across the rock face. The iconographic elements include lion throne, triple umbrella, halo, tree, fly-whisk attendants, standing devotees etc. The panel at the far left strikes precise similitude with the Jina appearing in Group I panel including five foliage circles bearing the dancer, musicians, horse riders and the elephant at the center. Above these two bolder bas reliefs, a long panel bears the series of seven diminutive images of  Jinas appear seated on double lotus seat (lion throne absent) and crowned by triple umbrella. The Group 2 images are accompanied with donative inscriptions.

        Group 3

        The panels of bas reliefs forming Group 3,  arranged on the broader rock face, are available somewhere contiguous to Group 2 panels.  The Group 3 major panels present both kinds i.e, individual Jinas appear seated on thrones as well as Jinas / Tirthankaras appear in series. Also there are minor panels which include lone Tirthankara figurines with triple umbrella and double lotus seat.

        Group 3 Jain Image Panels
        Parsvanatha Panel:

        Parsvanatha, the twenty third Tirthankara and the historic personage who lived in the 8th century B.C. He was the the son of King Ashvasena and Queen Vamanadevi of Varanasi and was the prince of Ikshavaku dynasty. The prince abdicated at the age of thirty and became an ascetic. He attained kevalagnana (absolute knowledge) and became the twenty-third Tirthankara or Jina. He is recognized with the blue hue and a seven hooded serpent. He appears with his Yaksha  Dharaṇendra and Yakshi Padmavati.

        An interesting legend about the previous life of Parsvanatha reveals his association with his Yaksha,  Yakshi and Kamdan. The Jina in his previous life attempted to protect a pair of serpents from being burnt in sacrificial fire of a brahmin. The Jina reborn as 23rd Tirthankara and the serpents were also reborn as Naga King Dharanendra and Naga Queen Padmavati.  The brahmin also reborn as a demon Kamdan. Kamdan was disturbing the Jina from attaining Kevalagnana and engaged in attacking with fire, torrential

        Group 3 Parsvanatha Panel

        Bahubali (Sankrit) aka Gommatesvara (Kannada) Panel

        Bahubali is an outstanding name in the Jain legends. He was the second of the hundred sons of the first Tirthankara, Adinatha. The warrior prince fought with his on brother Bharata for the share of his father's kingdom. He conquered everything from his brother and could have become an emperor; instead he returned everything to the brother and chose the ascetic life and proceeded to the forest to perform asceticism. While he was in meditation for longer duration, the vines encircled all through his body. Though he attained kavalagnana, he never prophesy Samavasarana. Hence he is not considered as Tirthankara. The panel depicts Bahubali covered with vine creeper all over his legs and appear with two of his female attendants (Vidyadhari).

        Group 3 Bahubali Panel

        There is an iconographic convention of  pairing of Parsvanatha and Bahubali and the combination is prominent in the Jain caves at Aihole (7th century) and at Ellora (9th century) and other places including Kalugumalai.

        After Group 3 panels the rock face shows a smooth bend and the huge tree with its projected branches provide shade. The panels of Groups 4 and 5 are noticed around the rock surface.

        Group 4

        Group 4 Jain Image Panels
        The shallow depth panels bearing the bas reliefs, forming Group 4, are sculpted on the rock face in the lower right corner and the rock formation above the panels is shaped like a canopy.  The shelter appears like a natural cavern and the same could have been modified subsequently as panels of Jina bas relifs. The panels measuring about two feet depth and the central panel presents three Tirthankaras appear seated on double lotus seat and crowned by triple umbrella. The central panel is flanked by Bahubali and Parsvanatha appear standing in separate panels. Four more Jinas appear seated on the left corner panels and the right corner panels also present seated Jinas. The bas relifs are accompanied by donative inscriptions.

        Group 5

        The huge rock face presents highest number of bas reliefs forming Group 5 panels are nearer to this rock face. Panoramic array of sculpted panels are located on the far right side and are arranged in three rows and depict the seated Jinas on double lotus seat or lion throne and crowned by triple umbrella. Few panels also depict tanding Jinas with the respective iconographic style. Some othe bas reliefs of Jinas situated on the far left side of the rock face appear incomplete.

        Group 5 Largest Jain Panels

        Yakshi Padmavati Panel
        Two Group 5 panels are also dedicated to Yakshi Ambika and Padmavati. Padmavati is adorned with karanda makuta and appear seated on single lotus pedestal in Lalitasana posture under five serpent hoods. The yakshi holds the fruit and rosary in her lower left and right hands and the upper hands hold a goad and a snake. Her panel is taller than the panels of her attendants. Two female attendants appear with flywhisks.

        Yakshi Ambika, Husband, 2 Children & Lion

        Yakshi Ambika aka Kusmandini attendant (Sasanadevi) to Tirthankara Neminatha occupies the pivotal position in Jain iconography. The cult of Ambika is popular during 7th - 12th century A.D. She appear in an exclusive panel with her husband and two children, a lion (simha) as her vehicle, and the holy tree 'kalpavriksha (areca nut tree).' 'Her husband is shown with a hand raised and his face has no detailing so as to depict his awe and the glare from her "golden appearance" falling on him.'

        Legend of Ambika: Ambika and her two children were banished from the house by her husband Somasarman since she offered food (intended for sraddha ceremony) to the Jain monk. While her banishment they were feeling hungry and by divine intervention a mango tree and a water body came to their sight and they ate mangoes. Some miraculous events at Ambika's houehold turned her husband to justify Ambika's actions for a noble cause. Hence he decided to call his family back to his home. On seeing her husband Ambika got frightened and tried to hide herself. She died while hiding from her husband. Ambika was reborn as Sasanadevi to Neminatha Tirthankara. After the death her husband also reborn as her lion vehicle.

        Kalugumalai Inscriptions (Vatteluttu)
        The Jain Monastery at Kazhugumalai has 100 Vattezhuthu (வட்டெழுத்து) inscriptions (SII Vol V, No. 308 - SII Vol V, No. 406; Epi. Ind., Vol. XV, f.. n. 6.) and they are inscribed below the bas reliefs as label inscriptions.


        From the available inscriptions it is inferred by scholars that they belong to different period. They have been generally ascribed to 8th century A.D. However K.V.Ramesh, eminent Epigraphist and former Joint Director-General of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) assigns them to the 10th - 11th century A.D.

        Records, Messages

        The prime Jaina deity at Kalugumalai Jain monastery referred to in the inscriptions as Araimalai Alvar of Tirunechuram (SII Vol.V, No. 357, 361). There are about one hundred and fifty sacred images (bas reliefs) were caused to be made by the followers of Jain faith (Tamil Jains) from a number of adjacent villages. The sacred images were caused to be made for the merit of their parents, bhttarars, kurattigal, village elders, Pandya officials and others. The largest donor was Pandya King Maran Sadayan who donated 17 sacred images. Among the other donors include the artisans like carpenters, potters, smiths as well as cultivators and others. Tirunechuram (திருநேச்சுரம்) was also referred to as Ilanechuram (இளநேச்சுரம்) vide an epigraph (SII, Vol. V, No. 369) as well as Perunechuram (பெருநேச்சுரம்) vide epigraph (SII, Vol. V, No. 361). 

        The Kalugumalai monastery marked the revival of Jainism in Pandya country. Gunasahara bhattarar (குணசாஹர பட்டாரர்) of Tirunechuram was probably the chief among the monks looking after Jain establishments as well as endowments at Kalugumalai (ARE 117/1894, SII, Vol. V, No. 406). His  disciples administered the academic functions and services. Inscriptions refer to the order of monks and nuns in the Digambara Jain monasticism in Kalugumalai. An Acharya (ஆச்சாரியா) is the highest leader of a Jain order. Upadhyaya (உபாத்யாயா) is the learned monk, who both teaches and studies himself.  Bhattara (பட்டாரா) or Bhattarar (பட்டாரர்) is the male disciple or monk and Bhattari (பட்டாரி) is the female disciple or nun (SII, Vol. V, No. 356). A Muni (முனி) is an ordinary ascetic and Aryikas (ஆரீக) is an ordinary woman ascetic. Women disciples referred as Manakkigal (மாணாக்கிகள்) and women teachers as Kurattigal (குத்திகள்). Jain scholars and teachers (monks and nuns) from far-off Jain abodes and monasteries such as  Tirumalai, (திருமலை), Tirupparuttikunram (Jina Kanchi) (திருப்பருத்திக்குன்றம்), Perumandur (பெருமாண்டூர்), and Tirunarungondai (திருநறுங்கொண்டை),   traveled to Kalugumalai to pursue and propagate Jain theology and stayed in the natural caverns.  (SIL, Vol. V, Nos. 333, 334, 341,345, 355, 356,369, 371, 372, 373.) -  Tiruchara-nattuk-kurattigal (திருச்சார நாட்டுக் குரத்திகள்) (SII, Vol. V. No. 324, 326); Nalkur Kurattigal (நால்கூர் குரத்திகள்) (SII, Vol. V. No. 355, 356);  Ilanechuram Kurattigal (இளநேச்சுரக் குரத்திகள்)  (SII, Vol. V. No. 369); Kurattigal of Tirumalai (திருமலைக் குரத்திகள்) (SII, Vol. V. No. 370); Kurattigal of Tiruparutti(kundru) (திருப்பருத்திக்குன்றக் குரத்திகள்) (SII, Vol. V. No. 372); Milalur kurattigal (மிழலூர்க் குரத்திகள்) (SII, Vol. V. No. 394); Kurattigal of Kudarkudi (குன்றக்குடிக் குரத்திகள்) (SII, Vol. V. No. 396). It is believed from the Jaina inscriptions in Kalugumalai and others that the Jain theology classes could be coeducational and that ocassionally nuns served as teachers. (SII Vol. III, No.92 and SII Vol. V, No. 308 - 407). Nuns were students of male monks:
        1. Kurattigal (lady teachers) of Ilanechuram, disciples of Tirtha bhttara (SII, Vol. V. No. 369)
        2. Kurattigal of Tiruparutti (kunru - Jina Kanchi), the lady disciples of Sri Pattini bhattara (SII, Vol. V. No. 372)
        Male Students studied under Woman Teachers (nuns):
        1. Enadi Kuttanan Satti, disciple of the Kurattigal (lady teacher) of Tirumalai (SII, Vol. V. No. 370) 
        Women Students under Women Teachers
        1. Nattigabhattarar, the (lady disciple) of Kurattigal (nun) of Nalkur (SII, Vol. V. No. 355)
        2. Nalkur kurattigal, the (lady disciple) of Amalanemi bhattara (lady teachers) of Nalkur (SII, Vol. V. No. 356)
        3. Arattan nemi kurattigal, the lady disciple of Mammiakurattigal (371)
        4. Milalur Kurattigal, the lady disciple of Perurkurattigal who was the d/o Mingaikumaran of Pidangai in Karaikana nadu image (394)
        The monastery was also frequented by common public from places like  Alattur (அலத்தூர்), Erahur Pereyirkudi (எலகூர் பெரெயிர்க்குடி), Ilavenbai (இளவெண்பை), Kalakkudi (கலக்குடி), Karaikkudi (காரைக்குடி), Kottaru (கோட்டர்), Kurandi (குறண்டை), Nalkurkudi (நல்கூர்குடி), Pidankudi (பிடங்குடி), Tiruchcharanam etc. 

        Jainism condemned caste divisions and respected all humans as equals and the monks encouraged and practiced four forms of charity or dhana - 1.donating food to the needy (அன்னதானம்), 2. imparting education to all (கல்விதானம்), 3. providing medical assistance to the poor (மருத்துவ தானம்) and 4. affording refuge to the helpless (அஞ்சினான் புகலிடம்) - as their important duty. Owing to these, Jainism flourished in ancient Tamil Nadu and the monks brought the religion closer to the Tamil common public. The Tamil Jains influenced and forged the religion, politics, culture and society of the ancient Tamilagam.

        Donating food for the needy:   An inscription at Kalugumalai monastery records the construction of a well and the gift of some land for providing some food to the ten  bhattarar expounding Siddhanta, and the Vairagiyar (monks) in the Tirumalai temple at Tirunechuram, by Siddhan of the village at Kadantaikudi, located in Nallur-tumbur kurram. The gift was entrusted with Gunasahara bhattara of Tirunechuram. Mentions some more names connected with the endowment. The Pandya king Varaguna II (Maran Sadaiyan), whose date of accession in 862 A.D. Date: 3rd regnal year (865 A.D.), is identified with  this endowment  (SII Vol V, No. 405).

        Another inscription in the same site records some endowment to the deity known as Tirumalaidevar at Tirunechuram by Mahadevan, a resident of the village Perunavalur, located in Nallur - Milalai-kurram for feeding five Vairagiyar (monks - Jaina ascetics) and Bhatarar who expounded Siddanta (Jaina philosophy) to the laity in the temple. The endowment was entrusted to Gunasahara bhattarar of Tirunechuram, who was probably chief among the monks looking after Jaina establishments at Kalugumalai (SII Vol V, No. 406)

        The Jain monastery became extinct after 13th century due to loss of Patronage after Pandya kings.

        Reference (For Further Studies):

        1. Champakalakshmi, R. Jainism in south India, Delhi, 1974
        2. Desai, P.B. Jainism in South India and Some Jaina Epigraphs, Jainasamskriti Samrakshakasamgha, Sholapur 1957.  
        3. Ekambaranathan, A. Jaina Iconography in Tamilnadu. ed. 1. Shri Bharatvarshiya Digamber Jain (Teert Sanrakshini) Mahasabha, Lucknow.  2002
        4. Ekambaranathan, A.  Jaina Temples of Southern Pandiyanadu.
        5. Ekambaranathan, A. and C.K. Sivaprakasam, Jaina Inscriptions in Tamil Nadu: : A topographical list. Research Foundation for Jainology, Madras 1987. 464p.
          Jainism under early Pandyas. In Encyclopedia of Jainsim
        6. Ekambaranathan, A. Studies in Jainism (Tamil Nadu). Shree Sarita Jain Foundation, Chennai, 2011 
        7. Ghosh, A. (Ed.): Jaina Arts and Architecture, New Delhi, 1974
        8. Kazhugumalai deserves universal recognition.  The Hindu. August 8, 2012.
        9. Lisa N Owen. Demarcating Sacred Space: The Jina Images at Kalugumalai
          Opulent sculptures - Epigraphist V.Vedachalam's forte is the tudy of Jaina sites. Frontline. Vol 25, issue 21. October 11-24, 2008. 
        10. Ravishankar Thiagarajan. Jina Images of Kazhugumalai as seen by Lisa. Site Seminar Talk on 11 Jan 2015 at "Shrinidhi", 12/1 Reserve Bank Colony MG Road, Thiruvanmiyur, Madras 41.  
        11. Sivaramamurti. C.  Kalugumalai and Early Pandyan Rock-cut Shrines
        12. Sripal, tamizakattil jainam, T. S.  Madras, 1975
        13. South Indian Inscriptions (SII), Vol.14. Archaeological Survey of India.
        14. Tamil Jain by Mahima Jain The Hindu December 28, 2013
        15. Tamil Jain Wikipedia
        16. Vijayakumar.S. Engineering Marvel. The Hindu. June 14, 2013.

        Dr. Lisa Nadine Owen
        Assistant Professor of Art History, School of Visual Arts. University of North Texas
        Demarcating Sacred Space: The Jina Images atKalugumalai (10 minutes on video)

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