Showing posts with label Tamil Nadu. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tamil Nadu. Show all posts

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Salt and Salt Merchants in Sangam Literature

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Tamil cuisine recognizes six tastes—sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent and Salty is one among the six tastes. It brings the best out of food . As the most essential ingredient, it can transform the character in our dish. In Tamil tradition salt is being represented as food and considered as icon for sensitiveness, loyalty and gratitude. In Persian / Urdu, the word 'halal' means righteous i.e., characterized by accepted standards of morality or justice; 'haram' means just the opposite, 'something that is morally reprehensible.' 'Namak-halal' means loyalist and 'Namak-haram' means disloyalty by virtue of subversive behavior. In Madras Regimental Center (MRC) (An Indian Army Regiment) the recruits (a.k.a “Thambis”), during their attestation parade, used to take the oath of enlistment or salt-oath after eating a pinch of salt and by placing their hands on copies of the Bible, Koran, and the Bhagawad Gita wrapped in Tricolor. This tradition is being observed since from the inception of MRC.

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Madras Regimental Center Willington Passing out Parade Cadets one Salt Oath
Nothing is more essential to making food taste good than salt. Proper salting results in being able to taste the ingredients better, not the salt (சில்பத உணவு. Food added with salt. Perumpanatruppadai 64). Without salt the food will taste flat and excess salt the food tastes salty. By drawing moisture salt, a chemical agent, destroys bacteria and preserves food. Therefore it is known as a "primordial condiment," Tiruvalluvar has employed this example with the  feigned dislike of a wife to her husband; sometimes of a husband to his wife:

உப்பமைந் தற்றால் புலவி அதுசிறிது 
மிக்கற்றால் நீள விடல்.
Tiruvalluvar (திருக்குறள்) 1302:.
A little dislike is like salt in proportion; to prolong it a little is like salt a little too much. 

Salt or common salt is "a white crystalline substance which gives seawater its characteristic taste." In the form of edible (table) salt it is popularly used as a condiment and food preservative. Salt is identified as an icon for friendship, hospitality, chastity, alliance, table fellowship, fidelity, fertility, blessing, curse and endurance, etc. "Salt has influenced human nutrition, health, politics, taxation, economy, freight, transport, and commerce throughout the ages. All human activities have been influenced by salt including economy, religious beliefs and practices, art, literature, psychoanalysis, superstitions, and exorcism."

Fish preserved using salt. PC: Wikimedia
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Pickles and Condiments Variety

The word 'salt' originated from Proto-Germanic word "salto." and from Old English word "sealtan." Since salt was once rare and important resource, few metaphoric uses such as worth one's salt (1830), salt of the earth (Old English, after Matthew v.13) reflect its value. The Bible contains no fewer than 24 references to this substance. In olden days, the Roman  warriors serving the empire were paid with a handful of salt each day as salary. Hence it was known as 'salarium' (Latin) or salt-moneyOver a period time the officers in charge found it difficult to preserve the huge bulk of salt from rain and the transport of the same was difficult. Therefore salt was replaced with money. Old Latin word 'Solidus'-- a Roman Gold coin and Medivial Latin 'soldarius'-- one working for pay. France also followed the concept of salt-money and paid the warriors with a special coin called 'sol', and the payment was known as 'solde' (also the payment of a sailor). Hence the French call their soldiers, 'soldat'.  Old French 'Soudier.Sambalam (சம்பளம்) is the Tamil word. Samba (சமபா) means paddy (நெல்) + Alam (அளம்) means salt pan and Sambalam (சம்பளம்) means paddy and salt paid as wage. The practice was followed when barter system was in vogue.

Sodium Chloride

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Chemical bonding of the Na+ ion and the Cl- ion
From 1790 salt, also known as 'sodium chloride,' in modern chemistry sense. It is an inorganic chemical compound formed from the ionic bonding of an acid with a base. This ionic crystalline chemical compound represents 1:1 ratio of sodium and chloride ions (atoms) and is represented with the chemical formula NaCl which means that for every sodium atom present, there is exactly one chloride atom. 

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PC: Socratic
Sodium chloride do not contain carbon and hydrogen together in one molecule and it has a molar mass of 58.44 grams per mole. The white colored chemical substance appears as a solid, clear crystal with little or no odor. It is hygroscopic and also dissolves well in water and the ions in the crystals will separate when in solution. It has the density of 2.165 g/cm³ and 800.8 °C as melting point and 1465 °C as boiling point.  Its vapour pressure at 865 °C = 1 mm Hg and solubility is at 25 °C = 35.9 g/100 g water. The ocean has about 35 grams (1.2 oz) of solids per liter i.e., the salinity of 3.5%. The solid do not conduct electricity and the aqueous liquid solution conducts electricity. It do not have combustion properties. Sodium chloride molecules can also stack on top of each other in a structure known as a lattice and the solid crystals of sodium chloride will contain this lattice-type arrangement.

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Lattice Type Arrangement of Sodium Crystals
Common salt is basically an electrolyte. Electrolytes are minerals that conduct electricity in our fluids and tissues.  So basically our body really needs electrolytes, the main ones are sodium, chlorine, potassium, magnesium and calcium. Sodium is a vital nutrient. It’s a major component of extracellular fluid, and is essential for maintaining the volume of the plasma to allow adequate tissue perfusion and normal cellular metabolism. It keeps human body electrically conductive to maintain cell voltage for receiving or passing along information. Electrolyte prevents  our cells from bursting too much water or from shrinking due to shortage of water. Common salt works fine as long as it contains sodium chloride, Human body lose salt by sweating and urinating and the salt intake (in our food) replaces the loss.

The daily human intake of salt is minimum. The minimum physiological requirement of sodium simply to sustain life has been estimated by World Health Organization to be 5000 mg (5 gm) of sodium per day (5 gm per day). American Heart Association (AHA) has an even more strict guideline of consuming less than 1,500 mg of sodium (3.8 gm of salt) a day for general health and disease prevention. "The average daily salt intake was 10.98 grams per day for Indians aged above 19 against the WHO recommendation of 5 gm,",Excess salt and sodium intake has been blamed for a variety of serious health conditions such as heart disease, hypertension, and stroke.

World History of Salt

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PC: Bulgarian National Institute of Archaeology

“Salt is so common, so easy to obtain, and so inexpensive that we have forgotten that from the beginning of civilization until about 100 years ago, salt was one of the most sought-after commodities in human history.”

Salt was in use long before recorded history and it has shaped civilization since Neolithic caveman. Since the dawn of time, early human hunter gatherers and hunters  obtained their salt from eating animal meat and plant diet.

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Neolithic Age people
Salt was harvested thousands of years ago. Archaeologists in Bulgaria discovered the walled fortified settlement near the modern town of Provadia in north-east Bulgaria dating back to around 6050 B.C. That was well before the commencement of ancient Greek civilization. The excavation at this site commenced in 2005. The ancestors of this site boiled water fetched from a local spring and used it to produce salt bricks to preserve meat and they even traded salt, Almost all major ancient civilizations viewed salt as a precious commodity. In Tuzla, an ancient town  inhabited continuously for more than 6,000 years,  in Bonsia extensive salt deposits were found underneath the city. The name "Tuzla" is the Ottoman Turkish word for salt mine, Salt was first extracted in a salt mine Salina Turda located in the Durgau-Valea Sarata area of Turda, in Cluj County, Romania. The mine first mentioned in 1075, continuously produced table salt from the Middle Ages.

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Tuzla mine Tuzlaite, NaCaB5O8(OH)2·3H2O
Chinese Yellow Emperor Huangdi (a.k.a Yellow Thearch), third of ancient China's mythological emperors, may be credited with for presiding over the first war ever fought over salt.

Chinese Yellow Emperor Huangdi
Yuncheng Salt Lake, located in the southwest of Yuncheng city and the largest lake in Shanxi Province, has 4000 years salt production history. Chinese slaves and even the entire villagers harvested salt crystals from the surface of the lake. Assyrians commenced the "tactics of salting the earth" as a military tactic to destroy enemy farmlands.

Wrapped Natron Salt Offering (Wikimedia)
The civilization of Ancient Egypt, usually held to have begun around 3000 B.C when the lower Nile Valley became unified under a single ruler, was one of the earliest in world history. Egyptians may have been the first civilization to preserve fish and meat with salt. Egyptians also commenced exporting salt fish to the Phoenicians in exchange for expensive luxuries. They have found a kind of salt in an area called 'Natrun,' which referred to it as "the divine salt" or "Natron." It was not entirely composed of sodium chloride. Natron, harvested directly as a salt mixture from dry lake beds in ancient Egypt, was used for mummification processes. The salt absorbs water and behaves as a drying agent. Egyptians also used pure salt (sodium chloride) to preserve birds and fish and made them as funereal offerings in ancient Egyptian tombs.

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Trans-Saharan Salt Route
The nomadic traders used camels as the key means of trade-transport between the Mediterranean and West Africa and to cross the Sahara desert. They evaporated seawater from the Mediterranean Sea, Salt came from Libya, Tunisia, and Nubia. Trans-Saharan salt routes are heavily protected to keep the trade flourishing.  "The amersal, or earth salt, is formed when the blazing sun heats a dry lake bed after July's sudden rains, drawing liquid to the surface where it is baked into a thick layer of salt mixed with sand. This can be refined for human consumption or is more commonly fed to livestock for its rich mineral content."

Hallstatt Salt Mine, Austria PC: Wikipedia
Hallstatt (meaning "salt town"), a village in the Salzkammergut, on the western shore of the Hallstätter, a region in Austria, is known for its production of salt, dating back to 800–450 B.C. Hallstatt culture is usually linked to Celtic culture and the early European Celts of Hallstatt  begin mining salt. In German "salz" means "salt" and the country's towns like Salzburg, Hallstatt, and Hallein located on the banks of Salzach river derived their names with salt.

From Chinese written records dating back to 800 B.C. we learn about salt extraction by the people of China using clay jars. They filled the jars with ocean water and boiled away to evaporate the water and collected the salt crystals left with in the jars. Later during 700 - 600 B.C. (the Eastern Chou dynasty) they used iron pans instead of clay jars to boil water for salt and they saved the fuel usage considerably.

During 500 B.C. Hallstatt Celts adopted to open salt pans on the sea-shore to produce salt. The method of evaporation to produce salt was followed during 500 B.C. by Etruscans in Italy, and the early Romans, and the Carthaginians in North Africa.   .

The Roman Empire is considered as one of the greatest civilizations in history. It was founded in Rome in 753 B.C. The Roman Empire included most of what would now be considered as Western Europe, stretching from the Rhine River to Egypt and from Britain to Asia Minor. This timeline highlights the major events in the history of Ancient Rome. The history of Roman civilization goes from 753 BC to 27 BC and then from 64 AD to 1453 AD. The salt was mined by Romans from deposits in the ground. The mined salt was dissolved in water to get brine solution. They used uncovered salt pans (Roman name 'Salina') to boil the brine water to obtain salt. To form salt crystal, they used blood as coagulating (binding) agent. Roman salt pans were discovered in Algarve, Portugal.

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Pieces of Salt
Via Salaria Wikipedia
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Roman Bridges
The Roman Republic and Empire cautiously exercised control over the price of salt and they intentionally escalated salt price to raise money for wars. The Via Salaria was an ancient Roman road in Italy leading from Rome to the Adriatic Sea. The Latin word Via Salaria means salt.  It was one of many ancient salt roads in Europe. In this route Sabines came to fetch salt from the marshes at the mouth of the river Tiber. So it was known as "Sabine Trail." The word "Salary" originated from the Latin word "Salarium," and it has the root sal, or "salt." In ancient Roman empire, it is specifically meant as the amount of money allotted to a Roman soldier to buy salt. Salt was an expensive, yet essential, commodity. The word "salad" comes from the French salade of the same meaning, from the Latin salata (salty), from sal (salt). Romans boiled vegetables with water, drained, blanched, and seasoned with pepper, salt, olive oil and lemon juice. Collumella, a Roman writer wrote about ancient Roman salad, which also reflect the richness of the land. These salads were known for their abundant varieties.

Indian Salt History

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Rocks of Saindhava Lavana (aka Himalayan Pink Salt). PC: Salt News
Salt is known since pre-Vedic times and is certainly as ancient as human civilization. Sushruta , an ancient Indian physician known for his Sanskrit treatise the Compendium of Sushruta (Sushruta-saṃhita) (600 B.C.), mentions four kinds of salt: rock salt, sea salt, lake salt and earth salt. Saindhava lavana (aka Sendha Namak in Ayurveda) is naturally occurring mineral form and isometric crystals of Sodium Chloride. It is best known today as the "Himalayan Pink rock salt." The word “Saindhava” means the ancient Sindhu Kingdom cited in the Indian epic "The Mahabharata." “Lavana” means “salt”. So Saindhava Lavana means salt that comes from the region of the Indus river valley. The Sindhu kingdom was located in the Indus river valley in modern day Pakistan.

Khewara Salt Mine (Wikimedia)
The famous Khewra Salt Mine, one of the primary sources of Saindhava Lavana, is located in the foothills at the head of the valley beside one of the tributaries of the Indus.  Black salt or Kala Namak is also a type of rock salt, which it contains sulfur content in addition to sodium chloride.

Salt Range in Mianwali district, Punjab, Pakistan (Wikimedia)
Salt Range, the series of hills and low mountains between the valleys of the Indus and Jhelum rivers, lies between the Indus River and the Himalayan Range in the north of what is Pakistan today. Salt range extends  approximately 186 miles (300 km) long from east to west, and from 5 to 19 miles in width, in the central and eastern parts and its average height is 2,200 feet. In addition to the common salt, the Salt Range also contains coal, gypsum, and other minerals. Thousands of years ago Indians mined salt in Salt Range.

The Indian Salt Industry was an ancient industry. The tax was levied on salt in India since the earliest times and has always been a subject of criticism. Kautilya's Arthashastra, ancient Indian treatise on statecraft, economic policy and military strategy, provides a short account on salt manufacturing process. The salt extraction activity was supervised by "Lavanadhyakasa," an official representing the state during Mauryan empire. Solar evaporation of sea water was carried out in salt pans in coastal regions. The state maintained a system license for manufacturing salt for the fixed fee or tax during this period.  During Pallava reign in South India salt industry was monopolized by the state. The Chola emperors in Tamil Nadu showed keen interest in the development of salt industry and encouraged taxation for salt. Hence number of salt pans situated along the eastern coast are referred to in Chola and later Pandya inscriptions. Large quantities of salts were transported through ancient highways.

Salt was produced in the coastal regions of Bengal, Bombay, Rann of Kutch and in inland regions of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Central India. The British East India Company greatly showed interest in escalating salt tax. In 1835, East India Company imposed special taxes on Indian salt to facilitate its import. Special Taxation paid huge dividends for the traders of the British East India Company. Heavy taxation on salt continued even after the Crown took over the administration of India from the Company in 1858. The Indian public vehemently condemned the stringent salt taxes imposed by the British. The first session of the Indian National Congress held in Bombay in 1885 raised the issue of the salt tax. Number of protests were observed in several parts of the country during 19th and early 20th centuries and this resulted in Mahatma Gandhi's Salt Satyagraha in 1930. Similar Satyagrahas were held in other parts of the country.

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Mahatma Gandhiji's Dandi March Salt Satyagraha
India ranks third among the Salt producing countries in the world after  China and USA. The salt industry in India has shown remarkable growth and achievement during the last 60 years. At the time of our independence in 1947 we imported salt from the United Kingdom and Adens and now the country has not only achieved self-sufficiency in production of salt to meet its domestic requirement but also in a position of exporting surplus salt to foreign countries.  There are about 11799 salt manufacturers engaged in production of Common salt in an extent of about 6.09 lakh acres in the Country. Gujarat contributes 76.7 per cent  to the total production, followed by Tamil Nadu (11.16 %) and Rajasthan (9.86%).  In Tamil Nadu, salt is produced primarily in the three districts of Nagapattinam, Tuticorin and Marakkanam in Villupuram.

Salt (உப்பு) in Sangam Literature

Sangam Landscape in Ancient Tamilakam
It is well known that the Sangam landscape was divided into five tinais (திணை) or five geographical landscapes. The physiographical lay-out of Tamilakam, its flora and fauna, its hills and valleys, rivers and lakes, its deserts and sandy beaches, formed the basis for the habitation of five different group of people. Kurunji (குறிஞ்சி) was the home of Verpan and Kodichi as well as Kuravan and Kurathi; Palai (பாலை) was the home of Vitalai, Kalai, Meeli,  Eyinar, Eyirriyar, Maravar and Marathiyar; Mullai (முல்லை) was the home of Kurumporai, Kizhathi, Thondral Manaivi, Idaiyar, Idaichiyar, Ayar, Aychiyar, Kovalar and Pothuvar; Marutham (மருதம்) was the home of Ooran, Makizhnan, Kizhathi, Manaivi, Ulavar, Ulathiyar, Kataiyar, Kataisiyar and Kalamar and Neithal (நெய்தல்) was the home of Serppan, Pulamban, Parathi,  Nuzhaichi,  Nulaiyar, Nulaichiyar, Parathar, Parathiyar, Alavar and Alathiyar.

Neithal Terrain

Neithal Tinai corresponds to seashore and adjoining terrains. Blue Water Lily Blue Nelumbo or Kuvalai (குவளை) or Kazhuneer (கழுநீர்) or Neithal (நெய்தல்) flower (Nymphae odorata) is mentioned as the native flower and hence the name Neithal Tinai. Lord Kadalon (a.k.a Varunan) was worshiped by the native people. The Neithal terrain is known for seashore and adjoining coastal land dotted with sand well Crocodile (முதலை), shark (சுறா) and  Kara fish (காரா மீன்) were native animal and fish. Sea-crow (நீர்க்காகம்), swan (அன்னம்) and Andril (அன்றில்) were the birds. Kandal (கண்டல்), Punnai (புன்னை), Gnazhal (ஞாழல்) trees occupied their terrain. The native music note of the land was Sevvazhi Note (செவ்வாழி பண்) and the drum used was Navay drum (நாவாய்ப்பறை) and the stringed musical instrument was Vilari Lute (விளரி யாழ்).

The vast, unbroken coastline of Tamilagam was located in Neithal region.  The fishermen engaged in fishing from ocean using fishing net. Salt was highly valued and considered as a precious commodity during Sangam period. Womenfolk barter fish and salt and get paddy, meat and wine. Salting and drying the fish took place to preserve seafood.  They constructed fishing boats and skilled in surfing the waves. They lived in coastal villages i.e., Pakkam (பாக்கம்) and pattinam (பட்டிணம்).

Ammoovanar (அம்மூவனார்) was a great Tamil poet during Sangam period. He composed 127 poems. Akananuru (அகநானூறு) 6 poems; Ainkurunuru (ஐங்குறு நூறு) 100 poems ie., second hundred on Neithal landscape (நெய்தல் திணை); Kuruntokai (குறுந்தொகை) 11 poems; and Natrinai (நற்றிணை) 10 poets. Of the 127 poems 125 poems composed on neithal tinai (landscape of the sandy coastal terrain) and the other two poem 127 from Kuruntokai (Kurinji tinai) and poem 397 from Natrinai (Palai tinai).

பெருங்கடல் வேட்டத்துச் சிறுகுடிப் பரதவர்
இருங்கழி செறுவின் உழாஅது செய்த
வெண் கல் உப்பின் கொள்ளை சாற்றி
என்றூழ் விடர குன்றம் போகும்
(Akananuru 140, Poet Ammoovanar,) 
What the hero said to his friend: She is the loving, innocent daughter of a salt merchant who goes through mountains cracked by the sun’s heat in his fast bullock cart, goading his oxen with a stick, to sell father's white grainy salt, made in the salt pans without plowing, near the seashore in a small settlement of fishermen

உவர் விளை உப்பின் கொள்ளை சாற்றி
அதர் படு பூழிய சேண் புலம் படரும்
ததர் கோல் உமணர் பதி போகு நெடு நெறிக்
கண நிரை வாழ்க்கை தான் நன்று கொல்லோ
(Akananuru 390, Poet Ammoovanar,) 
What the hero said to his heart, or What the hero said to his friend: Stating the price of salt grown in saline land, going to far away places with dusty paths, the lives of salt merchants with thick goads must be good when they go on the long paths in groups.

Salt Extraction and Salt Pans during Sangam Period

The salt pan industry was an ancient industry in Sangam period. Neithal people who lived near the sea ventured upon salt production and sale. Salt producers were known as 'Alavars' (அலவர்) and their women as 'Alathiyar.' (அலத்தியர்). They are harvesting salt without plowing(உவர் விளைவு உப்பின் உழா உழவர். Natrinai 331: 2.)  The dark brackish waters produce white salt (இருங்கழிச் செறுவின் வெள் உப்பு விளையும் Natrinai 311:4). The place of salt extraction was known as 'Alams' (அளம்) or Uppalams (உப்பளம்) i.e. uppu (உப்பு) + alam (அளம்). Villages like Kovalam (கோவளம்), Peralam (பேரளம்) etc., got their names due to the presence of salt pans.

Poet Ulochanar (உலோச்சனார்) was a great Tamil poet during Sangam period. He composed 35 poems (Puram 3 and Akam 32). His 31 Akam poems describes about the neithal landscape of the sandy coastal terrain. He has also described about fishermen and fisher-women as well as salt merchants and bartering of salt and fish. In Natrinai poem 354 he describes the process of salt extraction in salt pans and about long rows of wagons that carry salt crystals.

கடு வெயில் கொதித்த கல் விளை உப்பு
நெடு நெறி ஒழுகை நிரை செலப் பார்ப்போர்
அளம் போகு ஆகுலம் கடுப்ப
Natrinai 354, Ulochanar, 
What the heroine’s friend said to the hero. The uproars of the long rows of wagons that carry salt crystals made by the hot boiling sun in salt pans, near the misty seashore with long sandy stretches of groves.

Ulaochanar's Akananuru poem 20 speaks about the drying of salted fish by fisher-women:

பெரு நீர் அழுவத்து எந்தை தந்த
கொழு மீன் உணங்கல் படு புள் ஓப்பி
எக்கர்ப் புன்னை இன் நிழல் அசைஇ
Akananuru 20: 1-3, Ulochanar, What the heroine’s friend said to her, as the hero listened nearby.Our father gave us fatty fish, that he had caught in the huge ocean, to dry. We rested in the sweet shade of a punnai tree growing in the sand, and chased away the marauding birds.

Umanars (உமணர்கள்)

The salt merchants were known as 'Umanars' (உமணர்) and their women as 'Umattiyars' (உமத்தியர்). They traveled with their families with train of bullock carts (நோன்புகட்டுமணர் ஒழிகை Sirupanatruppadai). Their vast caravans were loaded with salt and hawked door to door and village to village. Salt merchants traveled in groups and reached villages to sell their salt.

ஈங்குப் பிரிந்து உறைதல் இனிதன்று ஆகலின்
அவணதாகப் பொருள் என்று உமணர்
கண நிரை அன்ன பல் கால் குறும்பொறைத்
Akananuru 337, Cheraman Palai Padiya Perunkadunko, 
What the hero said to his heart:  You brought me alone to the harsh path, where small boulders are like rows of salt merchants’ donkeys that carry load,

Salt merchants traveled with their families in trains of carts.

கொழுஞ்சூட்டு அருந்திய திருந்து நிலை ஆரத்து
முழவின் அன்ன முழுமர உருளி
எழூஉப் புணர்ந்தன்ன பரூஉக்கை நோன் பார்
மாரிக் குன்றம் மழை சுமந்தன்ன
ஆரை வேய்ந்த அறைவாய்ச் சகடம்
வேழம் காவலர் குரம்பை ஏய்ப்பக்
கோழி சேக்கும் கூடுடைப் புதவின்
முளை எயிற்று இரும்பிடி முழந்தாள் ஏய்க்கும்
துளை அரைச் சீறுரல் தூங்கத் தூக்கி
நாடக மகளிர் ஆடுகளத்து எடுத்த
விசி வீங்கு இன் இயம் கடுப்பக் கயிறு பிணித்து
காடி வைத்த கலனுடை மூக்கின்
மகவுடை மகடூஉப் பகடு புறம் துரப்ப
கோட்டு இணர் வேம்பின் ஏட்டு இலை மிடைந்த
படலைக் கண்ணிப் பருஏர் எறுழ்த் திணிதோள்
முடலை யாக்கை முழு வலி மாக்கள்
சிறு துளைக் கொடுநுகம் நெறிபட நிரைத்த
பெருங் கயிற்று ஒழுகை மருங்கில் காப்ப
சில்பத உணவின் கொள்ளை சாற்றி
பல் எருத்து உமணர் பதி போகு நெடு நெறி 
(Perumpanatruppadai line 46-65, Poet Nallur Nathathanar. The King Oyman Nalliyakodan) 
The Long Path that Salt Merchants take: The wagons of salt merchants have wheel rims which surround perfectly placed spokes, massive wheel hubs made from huge trees, thick, strong wooden axle bars appearing like two fortress gate cross bars united, roofs woven with grass looking like rain clouds carried by the mountains during monsoons, and cages for domestic fowl resembling the huts of guards who protect fields against elephants.

In a wagon, there is a small mortar with holes in the shape of the knees of a cow elephant with tusks like the sprouts of bamboo, that dangles from the cart near the cage.

The salt merchant’s wife, holding her child, is seated on a pickle pot circled with ropes, that resembles the legs of female elephants whose tusks appear like bamboo sprouts, and also resembles the sweet, small drums with holes that are tied with ropes and played when drama actresses dance in dancing arenas.

She hits the oxen on their back and drives the cart, and strong men with thick shoulders and firm bodies wearing garlands made with fine leaves of neem trees with clusters of flowers on branches, walk near the cart with curved yoke with small holes tied properly with large ropes, calling out the price of salt, in the long path that takes the salt merchants owning many bulls, to many towns.

நறவுவாய் உறைக்கும் நாகு முதிர் நுணவத்து
அறைவாய்க் குறுந்துணி அயில் உளி பொருத
கை புனை செப்பம் கடைந்த மார்பின்
செய்பூங் கண்ணி செவி முதல் திருத்தி
நோன் பகட்டு உமணர் ஒழுகையொடு வந்த
மகாஅர் அன்ன மந்தி மடவோர்
நகாஅர் அன்ன நளி நீர் முத்தம்
வாள் வாய் எருந்தின் வயிற்றகத்து அடக்கி
தோள் புற மறைக்கும் நல்கூர் நுசுப்பின்
உளர் இயல் ஐம்பால் உமட்டியர் ஈன்ற
கிளர் பூண் புதல்வரொடு கிலுகிலி ஆடும் 
Sirupanatruppadai line 55 - 61, Poet Nallur Nathathanar. The King is Oyman Nalliyakodan  
On a wagon pulled by strong oxen, owned by a salt merchant, wearing on his chest a fine garland, carved with an iron chisel from wood pieces from a delicate nunavan tree. A female monkey that is like his daughter plays with a shell rattle stuffed with lovely pearls resembling the teeth of tender women. Its opening a thin slit as narrow as a sword’s sharp edge. His sons wear bright jewels, and their mother, the wife of the salt merchant, is pretty with a delicate waist and swaying five-part braid that hides her back.

உமணர் சேர்ந்து கழிந்த மருங்கின் அகன்தலை
ஊர் பாழ்த்தன்ன ஓமையம் பெருங்காடு
(Kuruntokai  337, Cheraman Palai Padiya Perunkadunko,) 
What the heroine’s friend said to the hero:  Lord, if you say that it is painful to be in the vast wasteland with huge ōmai forests, resembling large desolate towns where salt merchants join together and leave,

நீரும் புல்லும் ஈயாது உமணர்
யாரும் இல் ஒரு சிறை முடத்தொடு துறந்த
வாழா வான் பகடு ஏய்ப்பத் தெறுவர்
Purananuru 307, Poet Unknown  
Like a lame bull abandoned by salt merchants and unable to live without water and grass, he attacked his enemies and took their lives.

-          ஓங்கித் தோன்றும் உமண் பொலி சிறுகுடி
Natrinai 374: 2, Vanparanar
There is a small village with salt merchants, which appears to be tall

உவர் விளை உப்பின் உழாஅ உழவர்
ஒழுகை உமணர் வரு பதம் நோக்கி
கானல் இட்ட காவற் குப்பை
புலவு மீன் உணங்கல் படு புள் ஓப்பி
மட நோக்கு ஆயமொடு உடன் ஊர்பு ஏறி
எந்தை திமில் இது நுந்தை திமில் என
வளை நீர் வேட்டம் போகிய கிளைஞர்
திண் திமில் எண்ணும் தண் கடற் சேர்ப்ப
Natrinai 331: 1-8, Ulochanar 
Oh lord of the seashore! When salt merchants come to the seashore and sell heaps of salt that is harvested without plowing, delicate-looking young girls who play with their friends as they dry fish and chase birds, climb on the boats on the shore and say, “This is my father’s boat,” “This is your father’s boat,” and count the sturdy boats of their relatives who went fishing in the ocean.

Bartering System

Spatial variations in food production and consumption practices have been noted for thousands of years. Bartering was introduced by Mesopotamia tribes and has been around Sangam period. A barter system, dates all the way back to 6000 B.C., is an old method of exchange. The Sangam people had brisk internal trade. The wholesalers, retailers and hawkers had indulged themselves in brisk trade. Salt was the most popular item exchanged by several civilizations. Sangam people utilized the bartering system to get their food and spiced they needed. Paddy, produced in abundance in South India, was the common medium of exchange.

In the beginning of the Sangam Age, the barter system of trade was followed. Generally, the people exchanged their commodities with their neighbors. For example, the people of Kurinji region exchanged honey with the people of Neithal region for getting fish and salt. Likewise, the Mullai people gave their milk products to Marudham people to get rice from them.

தேனெய்யொடு கிழங்கு மாறியோர்
மீன் நெய்யொடு நறவு மறுகவும்   
தீங் கரும்போடு அவல் வகுத்தோர்
மான் குறையொடு மது மறுகவும்
P orunaratruppadai 214 - 217
People barter honey and yams for fish oil and toddy. Those who sell sweet sugarcane and portions of flattened rice, barter

திமிலோன் தந்த கடுங்கண் வயமீன்
தழை அணி அல்குல் செல்வத் தங்கையர்
விழவு அயர் மறுகின் விலை எனப் பகரும்
Akananuru 320, Mathurai Koolavanikan Seethalai Sathanar, 
What the heroine’s friend said to the hero The fishermen ride their boats on tall waves in the wide ocean and pull their nets with fierce strong fish, which their rich younger sisters with leaf skirts on their loins sell, calling out prices, on the streets with festivals, in a beautiful village with groves!

மான்ற மாலை மகிழ்ந்த பரதவர்
இனிது பெறு பெரு மீன் எளிதினின் மாறி
Natrinai 239, Kundriyanar, 
What the heroine’s friend said to her, as the hero listened nearby  Happy fishermen sell their big fish that they caught happily at this confusing evening time. This is a beautiful, small village where crabs play in stinking sand, in the front yards of houses.

பசு மீன் நொடுத்த வெண்ணெல் மாஅத்
தயிர் மிதி மிதவை ஆர்த்துவம் நினக்கே
Akananuru 340, Nakkeeranar, 
What the heroine’s friend said to the hero We will feed you gruel made with soft curds mixed with flour from white rice that we got selling fresh fish

Poet Ammoovanar describes in Akahanuru poem 140 about an young women who carried head loads of salt and exchanged for paddy from peasant woman. She shouted Young women also carried head loads of salt and exchanged for paddy from peasant woman. 

கதழ்கோல் உமணர் காதல் மடமகள்
சில்கோல் எல்வளை தெளிர்ப்ப வீசி
நெல்லின் நேரே வெண்கல் உப்பெனச்
சேரிவிலை மாறு கூறலின்.         
Akananuru 140: 5 - 8, Ammoovanar, 
What the hero said to his friend: She walks through the settlement with salt, swaying her hands, jingling her round, bright bangles and shouting, “equal measure of white grainy salt for rice paddy!     (சேரி - street; விலைமாறு - Barter)

நெல்லும் உப்பும் நேரே ஊரீர்
கொள்ளீரோ எனச் சேரி தொறும் நுவலும்
Akananuru 390: 8 - 9, Ammoovanar, 
What the hero said to his heart, or What the hero said to his friend: Salt merchant's  girl went to all the settlements and called out, “Town people! Rice for salt, straight exchange!  Will you barter?”
உப்பு நொடை நெல்லின் மூரல் வெண் சோறு
Akananuru 60:4, Kudavayil Keerathanar,
What the heroine’s friend said to the hero, She brings food, white rice she got from bartering salt.   

In Pattinappalai poet Kadiyalur Urithirankannanar describes the sturdy boats of salt merchants sailed in backwaters and they carried paddy. The paddy was obtained by salt merchants by bartering salt.,.

குறும்பல்லூர் நெடுஞ்சோணாட்டு
வெள்ளை உப்பின் கொள்ளை சாற்றி
நெல்லொடு வந்த வல்வாய்ப் பஃறி
பணை நிலைப் புரவியின் அணை முதல் பிணிக்கும்
Pattinappalai  28 - 31, Poet Kadiyalur Urithirankannanar, King Cholan Karikalan  
Gardens and Groves of Kaviripoompattinam: In the huge Chola country with many small towns, sturdy boats with paddy got by bartering salt, are tied to posts on the shores of the backwaters, like horses tied in a stable.

உமணர் தந்த உப்பு நொடை நெல்லின்
அயினி மா இன்று அருந்த
Natrinai 254, Ulochanar
What the heroine’s friend said to the hero: If you stay, your horses can eat the rice from paddy the salt merchants got selling their salt

Salt is a remarkable thing in human history. Salt served as money at various times and places. As a highly valued item of trade, salt trade routes crisscrossed the globe. It also served as a monetary exchange. The quest for salt has even resulted bitter warfare. In short, salt or common salt, the white granular substance, has been essential to all life, especially with respect to its long and varied history.

  1. A brief and fascinating history of salt.
  2. A contribution to the history of common salt.
  3. History of Ancient Salt
  4. Europe's 'oldest prehistoric town' unearthed in Bulgaria
  5. History of Salt
  6. Saharan salt caravans ply ancient route
  7. Salary: Salt Money
  8. Salina Turda Wikipedia 
  9. Salt
  10. Salt
  11. Salt, the ancient food preserver.
  12. Sodium chloride Formula - Sodium chloride Uses, Properties, Structure and Formula
  13. Tuzla Wikipedia
  14. What is Sodium Chloride? - Definition, Structure & Formula
  15. What is the origin of the hindi phrase "Namak-haram" or "namak-halal"?
  16. உப்புத் தொழில் – அம்மா உப்பை முன்வைத்து ஒரு பார்வை
  17. சங்க இலக்கியங்கள் காட்டும் உமணர் வாழ்வியல் கு. ஜீவாலட்சுமி
  18. சங்க இலக்கியத்தில் பரதவர்கள்
  19. சங்க இலக்கிய பிரதிகளின் காலம்‹- பழந்தொழில்கள் - சார்தரவுகள். வீ.அரசு
  20. பரமசிவன், தொ.  பண்பாட்டு அசைவுகள். காலச்சுவடு. 2010. ரூ 200.00.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Padavedu - Land of Thousand Temples: History of Sambuvaraya and Their Capital

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Vijayanagar style Venugopala and Rukmani statues amidst fields PC The Hindu
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Renugambal Temple PC Flickr Raju
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Entry to Padavedu from Santhavasal PC Flickr Raju
Padavedu (படவேடு) (Padaiveedu (படைவீடு) = Garrison), is a pastoral village located in Polur taluk, Tiruvannamalai district, Tamil Nadu, India Pin Code 632315. The place wherein Renugambal temple located is known as 'A.K.Padavedu' (Amman Koil Padavedu). Padavedu village is 2 km away from A.K. Padavedu and forming part of Padavedu village Panchayat. The nondescript village, surrounded by mist-soaked Javadu hills, sugarcane fields, banana plantations, brick kilns and paddy fields, is 137.3 km away from Chennai, 112 km from Pondicherry and 170.6 km from Bangalore and it is situated in a strategic point among Vellore (30.9 km), Thiruvannamalai (56.7 km) and Arani (20.5 km) in the Vellore – Polur (Thiruvannamalai) route. You will find a junction called Santhavasal (சாந்தவாசல்) at the 32nd km while proceeding from Vellore town. From Santhavasal the village is just 6 km away. Alternate route from Chennai is Arcot - Arani - Santhavasal through the bumpy road. The geographical coordinates of Padavedu are  12° 38' 54.5672" latitude and 79° 7' 58.2449" longitude and the elevation / altitude is 172 m from sea-level.

Sambuvaraya dynasty, who ruled in the 12th and 13th Centuries, had Munnur (முன்னூர்), Virinjipuram (விரிஞ்சிபுரம்) and Kanchipuram (காஞ்சிபுரம்) as their capitals. After becoming independent from Pandyas, Sambuvaraya chose Padaiveedu as their capital for its strategic defensive location i.e., the land bastioned by tall hills and dense forests. The formation of Malayalam forests (மலையாளக்காடு), Shenbaga grove (செண்பகத்தோப்பு) and Athtimalai (அத்திமலை)  on the north-west, Kalimathu hillock (களிமத்துக் குன்று) on the south-west and Santhavasal reserve forests (சாந்தவாசல் காப்புக்காடு) on the south provided adequate defensive measures. Santhavasal was the entry point to the capital. 

The scenic Javadu hill is surrounded by seventeen villages and lush green paddy fields and coconut groves. It is believed that the region was known as the 'land of thousand temples' since it was the home to 1008 Shiva temples and 108 Vishnu temples. Now it is reduced to ten ancient (12th century) temples excluding the most popular Renugambal temple (ரேணுகாம்பாள் கோவில்).

Renugambal Temple (Renuka Paramesvari Temple (ரேணுகா பரமேஸ்வரி கோவில்) also known as Yellamma Temple (எல்லம்மா கோவில்), Padavedu was built by Sambuvaraya. It is one of the most important ‘Sakthi Sthalas’ in Thondainadu. Goddess Renugambal is self-manifested here and a Banalingam is present. Adi Sankarar has consecrated the Nanakarshna Chakra   This south facing ancient temple exists even today. Three inscriptions have been copied from this temple.

Also there is a newly constructed temple. The outer walls of the granite structured vimana is decorated with bas relief images depicting puranic scenes. The goddess resides in the east facing sanctum. There are ardhamandapam, mahamandapam and there are shrines minor deities.

The Sri Venugopalaswami Kainkaryam Trust,(வேணுகோபாலஸ்வாமி கைங்கர்யம் டிரஸ்ட்), a part of TVS group, takes over the village about 20 years back and maintains the age old temples flawlessly. Number of temples were identified, unearthed and renovated by the trust during 1990s. Very few of these temples retain their original facade and the temples include:

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PC Tamilnadu Tourism
  1. Lord Venugopala Swamy temple (வேணுகோலஸ்வாமி கோவில்) is located on the top of Rajagambhiramalai (hill top) popularly known as Kottaimalai (Athimalai). The temple opens only on Saturdays from 9 am  to 4 pm. A ghat road runs through the dense forest and leads to the hill top. People used to travel by using the off-road wheeled tractor from the foothill to the hill top over this bumpy route.
  2. Yoga Ramachandraswamy Temple (யோக இராமச்சந்திரஸ்வாமி கோவில்), Padavedu, constructed before 12th Century AD, is located 1 km west of Renugambal Temple. Lord Rama is uncommonly seated in Artha Padmasana posture showing “Chin Mudra” and his hand is not holding his bow (Kothandam). He is accompanied by his consort Seetha and brother Lakshmana by his side. Hanuman appears seated before Rama and engaged in reading Palm leaf manuscripts. Lord Rama is also appear seated and showing 'Chin Mudra' at Nedungunam and Ragunatha Samudram temples, both are located in Tiruvannamalai dist..
  3. Lakshmi Narasimhar Temple (லட்சுமி நரசிம்மர் கோவில்), Ramanathapuram, Padavedu located on a hill top. Kamandala river (கமண்டல நதி) flows by the side of this temple. It was built by Mankonda Sambuvarayar (மண்கொண்ட சம்புவராயர்).  Temple ruined due to natural disaster and now renovated by TVS Group trust. The bridge, built at a later date by the trust, connects the temple and the village. Also there is a cement path leading to the hill top. Goddess Lakshmi is seated on the right side of Narasimhar. 
  4. Velmurugan temple (வேல்முருகன் கோவில்) is located on top of Natchathra Kundru (நட்சத்திரக் குன்று) (Star Hill). A Vel (வேல்) (lance of Lord Muruga) is consecrated by the Bhogar (போகர் சித்தர்), one of the 18  Siddhars and Poojas are performed daily.
  5. Chinna Kottai Varadhar Temple, Padavedu is located 2 km north west of Renugambal temple.
  6. Kailasa Vinayagar Temple (கைலாச விநாயகர் கோவில்), Padavedu is located on the northern side of Renugambal temple with a distance of 2 km. The prime deity Lord Vinayagar is huge and has a height of five and a half feet and looks very majestic. The ancient temple built hundreds of years back was fully destroyed.  The renovation work of this temple was carried out by TVS trust.
  7. Rishi Temple (ரிஷி கோவில்) or (Lord Budha Temple) is located near Renugambal Temple. Rishi idol was retrieved at this spot and consecrated in the newly built temple.
  8. Ammayappa Esvarar Temple, Padavedu, a 12th century temple, is considered as the most ancient temple and located one km west of Renugambal temple. It is the family deity of Sambuvarayas. The prime deity is Ammayappa Esvarar (Lord Shiva) and his consort is five feet tall goddess Aparnambigai. The temple totally buried due to sand storms and excavated. The procession deities hidden underground were also discovered and installed in Utsava Mandapam.
  9. Periya Kottai Varadhar Temple, Padavedu is located 2 km north west of Renugambal temple.
  10. Sadasivan Temple (சதாசிவன் கோவில்) is devoted to Lord Shiva and his consort and located in Vettagiripalayam, Padavedu. 
Also there are few temples built and maintained by the trust:
  1. Kailasanathar Temple (கைலாசநாதர் கோவில்), Kailasaparai (கைலாசப் பாறை), Padavedu is totally in ruin and is located towards north on top of Kailasaparai hillock. There is no provision for flight of steps to climb. The prime deity is Lord Kailasanathar (Lord Shiva) who appears with his consort Parvathi in a ruined sanctum (no ceiling). The four hands of the Lords are lost. Also a Shivalingam is found. Vimanam is in Gajaprishta style. No pooja rituals are performed. 
  2. Subramanya Swamy Temple is located on a hill top, on the southern side of Arulmigu Renugambal Temple. The flight of three hundred well laid stone steps leads to this hill temple.
  3. The village once had eight Anjaneya statues placed in eight cardinal directions to guard the place. Now only five of them remain. Installation of guardian deities is characteristic of the Vijayanagar empire. Veera Anjaneyar Temple  is located on the way leading to Ramar temple from Renugambal temple and also located close to the Draupadhi Mandapam. Eight feet tall sthanaka Veera Anjaneyar appeared majestically in open air. Only 3 years back the Lord was consecrated to the present shrine. 
The visitors can find several statues in the field. The statue of Hanuman is found under the banyan tree. The statues of Sri Venugopala with flute and his consort Rukmani are found, along with a heap of crumbled rocks, from ruined temple, in a lush green banana grove. The whole village is kept under the control of Department of Archeology and the people are not allowed to dig out any land except for cultivation. In spite of its illustrious history of Sambuvaraya and their Rajagambhiram fort, the village  still remain as the less traveled destination.

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Yoga Ramachandraswamy Temple, Padavedu PC Tamilnadu Tourism
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Venugopala Swamy temple, Rajagambhiramalai (Kottaimalai) PC Tamilnadu Tourism
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Kailasanathar Temple, Kailasaparai, Padavedu. PC Tamilnadu Tourism
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Kailasa Vinayagar Temple, Padavedu PC Tamilnadu Tourism
Sambuvaraya Dynasty

Sambuvaraya kings (சம்புவராய மன்னர்கள்) hailed from Velir clans (வேளிர் குலம்). The Velirs were minor feudatory chieftains in the ancient Tamilakam. They were vassals as well as rivals of Chola, Chera and Pandyas and maintained marital relationships with them and enjoyed coronation rights. During 12th and 13th Centuries, the Sambuvarayar chieftains ruled Tondaimandalam region. Ethirili Chola Sambuvaraya (எதிரிலி சோழ சம்புவராயர்) , who ruled the northern part of Tondaimandalam, was.a vassal under Rajadhiraja Chola II (இரண்டாம் இராஜதிராஜ சோழர்) and Kulotunga Chola III (மூன்றாம் குலோத்துங்க சோழன்) and this chieftain hailed from the family of Sengeni. Omaindha Munnutruvan Palliyana Karanamanikyam (செங்கேணி ஓமைந்த முந்நூற்றுவன் பள்ளியன் கரணமாணிக்யம்) was his ancestor. His father was Sengeni Ammaiyappan Kannudaiya Peruman Vikrama Chola Sambuvarayar (செங்கேணி அம்மையப்ப கண்ணுடைய பெருமான் விக்கிரம சோழ சம்புவராயர்). He was decorated with the titles such as Virasani (விராசனி), Viruchola (வீறுசோழ) and Pallavandan (பல்லவந்தன்).

Sambuvarayas stationed their troops to maintain and guard at Padavedu fort and hence the name 'Padaiveedu' (garrison or fortified military post) and inscriptions mention this as Marudaraisan Padaiveedu (மருதரைசன் படைவீடு) (Cantonment of the king Madurai). At the time Sambuvarayas were under the patronage of Pandyas. During the reign of Jatavarma Sundara Pandya I ((Tamil: முதலாம் சடையவர்மன் சுந்தரபாண்டியன்) (1250 - 1268 A.D). Sundara Pandya Sambuvaraya was ruling the land as a feudatory from Kanchipuram (ref. inscription at Kalavai S.I.I. vol XII no. 446). 

Vira Pandya Sambuvaraya, the son of  Sundara Pandya Sambuvaraya was also a loyal feudatory of Pandya. Sambuvaraya became independent after the Delhi Sultans uprooted Pandyas. They made Padaiveedu as their capital and ruled till the rise of Vijayanagar kingdom in Karnataka.

Inscription A.R.E 18 of 1889 mention this region as the 'Rajagambhira Rajyam' (இராஜகம்பீர இராஜ்யம்) named after Rajagambhira Sambuvraya (இராஜகம்பீர சம்புவராயர்) (1236 - 1268 A.D.) as well as 'Padavittu Rajyam' (படைவீட்டு இராஜ்யம்). The bordering hillock around the Padaiveedu is mentioned in an inscription no. A.R.E no. 220 of 1919 as 'Rajagambhiran Malai' (இராஜகம்பீரன் மலை) which also named after Rajagambhira Sambuvrayar. The capital of this illustrious kingdom was mentioned as 'Marudaraisan Padaiveedu,' in inscription S.I.I vol. 1, no. 81 Sambuvaraya rulers built their palace structures and protected them with 'Rajagambhiram Fort' and a wide moat. 

Ekambaranatha Sambuvaraya (ஏகாம்பரநாத சம்புவராயர்), a Sambuvaraya feudatory under Maravarman Kulasekara Pandya (மாறவர்மன் குலசேகர பாண்டியன்),  ruled parts of Tondaimandalam independently from 1306 AD. An inscription from Tiruvannamalai district speaks about this subject. Ekambaranatha Sambuvaraya witnessed the invasion of Malik Kafur (மாலிக் காபூர்) in 1311 A.D and Kushru khan (குஸ்ரு கான்) in 1319 A.D. In 1322 Ekambaranatha Venru Mankonda Sambuvaraya (ஏகாம்பரநாத வென்று மண்கொண்ட சம்புவராயர்) (1322 - 1337 A.D.), the son and successor of Ekambaranatha Sambuvaraya became the ruler of a major portion of Tondaimandalam. The village donated to great vedic scholars by this Sambuvaraya king after he won in the war, hence the village is called Mankonda Kolathur (now termed as Mandakolathur) and the king was known in the name of Vendru Mankonda Sambuvaraya. Also during his reign in 1324 A.D. Mohamed Bin Tugklaq's army invaded the land and destroyed many Hindu shrines. Tiruvamathore (திருவாமத்தூர்) (Villupuram District) inscription informs about the renovation of the destroyed temples by the Sambuvarayar king. 

Venru Mankonda Sambuvarayar was succeeded by Rajanarayana Sambuvaraya I (முதலாம் இராஜநாராயண சம்புவராயர்) (1337 - 1373 A.D.). In the year 1363 Vira-Kampana-Udaiyar (வீர கம்பண உடையார்), also known as Kumara Kampanna II (இரண்டாம் குமார கம்பண்ணா) , second son of Bukka Raya I (முதலாம் புக்க இராயர்) and the prince of Vijayanagar who ruled from Kanchipuram, attacked Rajanarayana Sambuvarayar I and captured him as the prisoner.

Rajagambhiram fort

During 11th regnal year (1247 A.D.) Rajagambhira Sambuvarayar (1236 - 1268 A.D.) built Rajagambhiram fort on top of the hill, 'Rajagambhiran Malai.' An inscription on top of the hill informs about this. The fort straddled the entire hill. They have used granite boulders and 10 inches by 7 inches bricks, sand and lime mortar to construct the fort wall. The perimeter of the fort extends up to two kilometers. In fact this fort was hard to conquer for it can be accessed only through four gates and cannot be accessed easily through other means. It was constructed for surveillance and control the movements Delhi Sultanates and Vijayanagar rulers. The fort had provision for shelters for soldiers posted on surveillance duties. The rock surface do show pits for erecting poles for tents and they could have erected nine tents on top of the hill. They have also made provision for storing water in tanks as well as in natural ponds. They have also made one foot diameter by one foot deep pits for provision and use of mortar weapon.  The fort also exhibits evidences for the existence of temples dedicated to Lord Shiva and Lord Vinayaga.

The northern gate is presently called as Santhavasal (Santha gate). A hero stone is discovered near Santhavasal. The eastern gate is in ruined state and the western gate, named after Puvandai alias Cholakon, one of the Mudalis in the military service of Ethirili Chola Sambhuvaraya, is fully destroyed. There was a moat encircling the fort.

Madura Vijaya ('The Conquest of Madurai')

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Ganga Devi, the chief queen of Vira Kampana-Udaiyar and a leaned poetess, elaborately detailed the unapproachable nature of the Rajagambhiram fort in 'Madura Vijaya' (மதுரா விஜயம்) ('The Conquest of Madurai'), also named as 'Vira Kamparaya Charitha', a Sanskrit historical poem composed by Ganga Devi.  The poetic work was brought to public by G.Harihara Sastri and V Srinivasa Sastri of Trivandrum in 1916. Shri. S Thiruvankatachary translated the poetical work into English and Annamalai University published it in 1957. The poetical work includes nine chapters and the early chapters are devoted to the historical background of Vijayanagar empire i.e., rule of Bukka Raya I and the childhood and early life of Vira Kampana (Kumara Kampana). The chapters in the middle deal with the heroism of Vira Kampana and his invasion towards the south and the conquest of Kanchipuram. Bukka Raya I directed his prince to invade Tamil land. Vira Kampana marched towards Tamil land along with his three generals i.e., Gopana, Saluva Mangu and Muddappa.  Ganga Devi accompanied her husband in his southern expedition.The first encounter was at the Rajagambhira Rajyam (Padaiveedu Rajyam). The poetic description is as follows:

“King Kampana, then converted the Tamil king’s town into an encampment for his own force, and from there began to lay siege to the hill fortress named Rajagambhira (Rajagambhiramalai) in which the enemy had sought asylum.

The sound of his war drums raised echoes from every cave of the hill and it looked as if the hill itself had begun to yell out in freight.

With the flags flying in the direction of high winds, the hill (fort) gave the impression that it was greeting king (Kampana) and welcome him with its arms (the flags) to come up to its top.

Again, fierce fighting commenced between the two sides, and the weapons falling down and shooting up, lit up both earth and sky by their resplendence.

Heads severed by arrows resembled palmyra fruits as they fell down from the ramparts and caused an illusion that the balls belong to the deity of war (for playing (with).

Like messengers (tax-collectors) sent by the strong hold themselves claiming the tolls for the entry (of the Karnataka troops) the stones let down from the catapults fell just in front of the king.

The hill, with the houses lit up by fire from the missiles of bow-men looked like holding the lamp in readiness harati for the happy ceremony to mark the auspicious victory of the king.

With all means (and chances of escape) coming completely blocked, the strong hold was subjected to such great distress that embryos of women, big with children slipped out at the very sight of the fierce jumping in, and people immersed in the river of blood of the slain prayed for their life.

Sambuvaraya, the monarch withdrawn sword, came out of his palace in great anger, even as a snake with its lolling tongue might come out of a mole-hill.

Though many a soldier of valour eagerly came forward to fight saying “let me do it,” King Kampana preferred to face the Sambuvaraya himself.

With forepart of their body bent and eyes fixed, the two kings sword in hand, stood still for a moment like a picture on a piece of painting.

The gods were thankful for the total absence of winking their eyes, as they looking on with fixed gaze, the flight (of the two horses) their bodies divided at the waist.

Kampana’s sword, reflecting as it the image of the Sambuvaraya monarch, looked like a pregnant daughter about to give birth to a husband for the celestial nymphs.

Then escaping deftly a sword thrust, King Kampana despatched the Sambuvaraya (monarch) as a guest to Indra’s city.

Having thus reduced (killed) Sambuvaraya in the field of battle, King Kampana received the decree of his father that he should rule (the territory he conquered).”

From the above poem it is presumed that there was a palace and  huge fort wall, both of which were guarded by large number of soldiers, wielded by bow and arrows and lances. The citadel located in the Rajagambhiram hill was sieged and the ruler was stabbed to death by Vira Kampana in 1361 A.D. After this Vira Kampana marched to Kanchipuram and conquered.

In 1311 A.D. Malik Kafur attacked Madurai and plundered all temples.  Ghiyasuddin Tughlak made second invasion to Madurai and established Madurai Sultanate. Madurai suffered a lot during 1335 - 1371 A.D. The temple remain closed for nearly 40 years. Madura Vijaya details the sufferings of Hindus in the hands of Madurai Sultans. Hoysala ruler Veera Vallala encountered with Sultan and was killed in the battle. The huge army of Vira Kampana stormed Madurai Sultanate and Vira Kampana killed  the Madurai Sultan Qurbat Hasan Kangu in the battle. Later the entire Madurai country and Chola country were included with Vijayanagar kingdom. Two divisions namely Rajagambhira Rajyam and Tiruvathigai Rajyam were formed.

Padavedu Excavations

The Tamil Nadu State Department of Archeology conducted excavations in Padavedu in the year 1992-93 at two sites namely Vetagiripalayam (வேட்டைகிரிபாளையம்) and Kottaikaraimedu (கோட்டைக்கரைமேடு). The existence of the palace and the fort wall was ascertained  by the Department of Archeology during excavations. A mound, just on the west of Padavedu village, was popularly known as 'Kottaimedu' (கோட்டைமேடு). Kottaimedu is located one km away from Yoga Ramachandraswamy temple. Presently the Kottaimedu lands have been converted into cultivable patta land and paddy, sugarcane and plantain crops are cultivated. Two Vishnu idols namely Chinna Kottai Varadar (சின்னக்கோட்டை வரதர்) (Varadar of Small Fort) and Periya Kottai Varadar (பெரியகோட்டை வரதர்) (Varadar of big fort) were found near the Kottaimedu mound. Sculptures of Kottai Talayari (கோட்டைத் தலையாரி), Viraanjaneya (வீரஞ்சநேயர்), Mahaganapathy (மகாகணபதி) and two Tirthankaras (தீர்த்தங்கரர்கள்) were discovered in 'Kottaimedu' itself. The sculptures found in these locations clearly lead the archaeologists to conclude  that there was a fort at the site. Further to this, occurrence of bricks in huge quantities as well as sizable number of ring wells also suggest the presence of fort at the site. The traces of fort gates on the Kottaimalai (Athimalai) (அத்திமலை) or Rajagambhiram hill and the existence of Venugopala temple and brick graneries assignable to Nayak period suggest the scholars to conclude about the fort.

The team laid 14 trenches. At Vetagiripalayam two trenches were laid to fully expose the age old brick structure appeared out due to rain. At the first trench they discovered  terracotta tube with a tiny hole (bellows tube) (துருத்திக் குழாய்). It could have been the mechanical device, made in clay, used as blow pipe for glass making. The glass slag piece retrieved from this trench supports this view. The second trench dug to the west of the first trench exposed the relics of the brick wall fully.

At Kottaikaraimedu twelve trenches were laid. This site is marked with the occurrence of brick structure, with the channels used for bringing drinking water and draining out sewage water and ring wells. They have used granite boulders to construct both the sides of the wall and filled the middle portion with the mixture of clay and crushed brick stones and they could ascertain the width as 1 m 15 cm and the height of the brick wall structure could not be ascertained. The site is marked by the presence of smoking pipes, Sultan coins and a number of decorated red ware shreds and bangle pieces were collected from this site.

On the basis of cultural sequences of these sites, the archaeologists have classified as period one and period two. The date assignable to period one could be between 13th and 14th Century A.D.  The date assignable to period two could be between 14th and 16th century A.D.

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Structural Remains and Flooring PC Dept. of Archeology

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Closed Channel PC Dept. of Archeology

S.I.I Vol. V, No.78. on the east and north bases of the Ammaiappa esvara Temple, Padavedu

Inscription S.I.I. vol V, no. 78 dated - on the nakshatra Revati and Monday, the seventh lunar day of the former half of the month of Karkataka, in the year, which was current after the expiration of the Saka year 1180 (1258 A.D.), and records a grant, which Rajagambhira-Sambuvarayan made to the temple of Ammaiappa esvara.  The name of the object of the grant must be contained in the final portion of the first line, which is buried underground.  The donor is evidently identical with that Rajagambhira-Sambuvarayan, who is mentioned in a Tirumalai inscription (No.74), which seems to be dated in Saka 1157-58.  It may be further conjectured, that the Ammaiappesvara Temple at Padavedu had received its name from Ammaiappan or Ammaiyappan, one of the birudas of another Sambuvarayan, who was a contemporary and probably a relation of Rajagambhira-Sambuvarayan.

S.I.I Vol. V, No.79. on the south-east of the Ammaiappa esvara Temple, Padavedu

This inscription is dated during the reign of Vira-Devaraya-maharayar (of Vijayanagara) and On the tenth day of the month of Masi of the Pramadicha (i.e., Saka 1356) (1434 A.D.). It records a grant to the lord Ammaiappa-nayanar of the Ammaiappa eswara Temple.  The name of the donor is obliterated (Madhayavanar?). This meritorious gift shall last as long as the moon and the sun.  He who shall injure this meritorious gift, [shall incur the sin of one has killed] a black cow on the bank of the Ganga.

S.I.I Vol. V, No.80. on the south wall of the Ammaiappa esvara Temple, Padavedu

This inscription is dated during the reign of Vira-Devaraya-maharayar (of  Vijayanagara) and on the 2nd day of the month of Adi on the Ananda year,.  (i.e.,Saka 1357).  It records the gift of a village to the lord Ammaiappa-nayanar of the Ammaiappa esvara Temple.  The middle portion is defaced by three cracks. The donor is Ulagalantha Suryadeva of Kalavai.

S.I.I Vol. V, No.81. on the east wall of the Somanatha eswara Temple, Padavedu

This inscription is dated on the day of (the nakshatra) Uttiradam, which corresponds to the Yoga Ayushmat and to Saturday, the thirteenth lunar day of the former half of the month of Simha of the Sukla year, which was current after the Saka year 1371 (had passed) (1449 A.D.), and during the reign of Virapratapa Praudha-Immadi-Devaraya-maharayar.  This is the latest hitherto-known date of Devaraja II.  In the preserved portion, mention is made of the kingdom of Padaividu (Padaivitttu rajyam),which belonged to Tondai-mandalam, of the right and left had castes and of the Somanatha esvara Temple at Padaividu.

How to Get There?

Nearest Bus stand: Padavedu is located around 30.9 km away from Vellore and around 56.7 kilometer away from its district head quarter Tiruvannamalai. Santhavasal (Padavedu) is well connected with major nearby towns like Arani, Arcot, Vellore and Thiruvannamalai and Polur. Frequent buses ply to Santhavasal from Kancheepuram, Vellore, Polur, Arcot and Arani.

Nearest Railway station: The nearest railway station to Padavedu is Aliyabad which is located in and around 11.5 km distance. Both Arni Road railway station and Vellore Cantt. railway station are 28.8 km away from Padavedu..

Nearest Airport: Chennai airport is the nearest airport located at a distance of 139.7 km. Bengaluru airport is also a nearer airport located at a distance of 211.8 km. 

  1. Discussion why pandyas lost to kafur. in Ponniyin Selvan Varalaatru Peravai (
  2. Land of a thousand temples. Anusha Parthasarathy. The Hindu June 27, 2013
  3. Maduravijayam. Gangadevi. Tr. by Tiruvenkatachari. Canto IV, Slokas 64 - 83.
  4. Madura Vijayam Wikipedia
  5. Padavedu Excavation. Natana Kasinathan. Asst. by Abdulmajeed, Sampath KS, Selvaraj S, and Kalaivanan M, State Department of Archaeology, Chennai. 1993 ( and (
  6. Padavedu, Thiruvannamalai. Tamilnadu Tourism. March 24, 2016. (
  7. Sambuvaraya Wikipedia
  8. Sambuvarayar period stone inscription found The Hindu. April 07, 2002
  9. Visit to Padavedu Kottaimalai Sri Venugopala Swamy Temple. Raju's Temple Visits. June 13, 2008 (
  10. Visit to Padavedu Temples. Raju's Temple Visits. May 26, 2008. (
  11. What is India. South Indian Inscriptions. Part B: Tamil and Grantha Inscriptions. V Inscriptions at Padavedu (
Mann Pesum Sarithiram epi 290

Kottaimalai Trip

Vel Temple at Padavedu

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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