Saturday, April 19, 2008
What constitutes a place of worship in Hindu tradition? Legal arguments.
What constitutes a place of worship in Hindu tradition? Legal arguments for Rama Setu as a place of worship.
Bumper Development Corporation v. Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis  1 WLR 1362,  4 All ER 638 (CA), 245 http://tinyurl.com/4gyc2t The construction of sacred places in English law.
• This complements the arguments made at http://setubandha.blogspot.com/2008/04/rama-setu-is-place-of-worship.html regarding Skanda Purana, the Hindu religious texts prescriptions of Rama Setu as a place of worship.
1. Famous London Nataraja case of Privy Council (what is a temple and what is an object or place of worship)
2. Famous Navajo sacred mountain case (USA court decision to scrap a sewerage project on the mountain)
3. Velanjeri copper plate of Parantaka Chola (10th century) of worshipping at Rama Setu and offering tulaabhaaram.
4. Report by Rameshwaram priest on puja vidhaanam (mode of worship) for Rama Setu.
Supreme Court judgement THE COMMISSIONER, HINDU RELIGIOUS ENDOWMENTS, MADRAS Vs. SRI LAKSHMINDRA THIRTHA SWAMIAR OF SRI SHIRUR MUTT. 16/04/1954 Seven-judge bench.
THE COMMISSIONER, HINDU RELIGIOUS ENDOWMENTS, MADRAS
SRI LAKSHMINDRA THIRTHA SWAMIAR OF SRI SHIRUR MUTT.
DATE OF JUDGMENT:
BHAGWATI, NATWARLAL H.
AIYYAR, T.L. VENKATARAMA
MAHAJAN, MEHAR CHAND (CJ)
DAS, SUDHI RANJAN
The precedent in the Nataraja case is from the Mallick v. Mallick case of 1925. A bedrock legal principle of Hindu law (1925) says, "a Hindu idol is according to the long established authority founded upon the religious customs of the Hindus, and the recognition thereof by the courts of law in India and the Privy Council a juristic entity. It has a judicial status with the power of suing and being sued."
Every piece of rock and soil on Rama Setu is sacred and constitutes a place of worship. It is a temple. Sri Rama is a juristic entity. So is Rama Setu, just as an idol is a juristic entity.
Sacredness of Rama Sethu
On 15th April, 2008, Hon'ble Supreme Court has observed that Rama Sethu is a Sacred Place, but doubted whether any people go there to the middle of the ocean to worship. The court is probably forgetting in all "Thirtha Kshetras", pujas are offered by going to the center of the Thirthams by boat and other means, e.g. in Ganges at Kaasi (Vaaranaasi) and at Triveni Sangamam at Prayag (Allahabab). Similarly pujas are offered at Rama Sethu also by using boats.
On the other hand, the observations of the Supreme Court that Rama Sethu is a Sacred Place, brings forth three important questions to be addressed by the court immediately.
1. Whether the duly elected Indian Government abiding the Indian Constitution can allow any individual or group of individuals to indulge in sacrilege of any Sacred Place (Holy Place)?
2. Whether the duly elected Government of India or its agencies, abiding the Indian Constitution on its own can indulge in sacrilege of any Sacred Place (Holy Place)?
3. Whether the Supreme Court of India, protecting the Constitution of India will allow the Government of India and its agencies to perform such sacrilege to Sacred Place (Holy Place) such as Rama Sethu?
It is for the eminent jurists and the Lawyers to bring these questions before the Supreme Court for its ruling when the next hearing of the case comes up on 29th April, 2008.
Arichal Munai, beyond Dhanushkodi where worship is offered to Rama Setu is near the ‘LAND END’ shown on this GOI map of the project. Arichal Munai is the starting point of Rama Setu.
Ref: Rama sethu proceedings in the Apex court On 15th April 2008; perceptions by Bench of Hon’ble Supreme Court.
We the Hindus were shocked to see the questions raised by your Lordship to consider Rama sethu as a place of worship vide The Hindu, Times of India and Indian Express dated 16.4.2008. Superficial approach to the issue seems to engulf the Hindu society. Hence I wish to submit the following ground realities for your kind consideration.
The entire proceedings of the day culminated into three issues.
1. How is Rama sethu a place of worship and is it available for perception (Sense perception)?
2. Whether people go to Rama sethu and worship?
3. Expert committee says Rama sethu is not man-made.
Before going into the subject matter, with due respect to the judiciary I wish to point out that the assertion of the Hon’ble justice “do not argue that people go there and worship Rama sethu, it is not Rameshwaram but far from it.” is most improper. It denies reasonable opportunity to be given to the victims for furnishing the facts and arguments from their perspective. It just reveals the closed mind of the judiciary perhaps guided by the preconceived notions.
Rama Sethu is a place of worship.
Vedas and Bhagavad-Gita the sacred scriptures of Hindus unfold the fact that the invisible all pervading God manifests into different forms and aspects of the creation (Isavasyam Idam Sarvam). Understanding this unique Vedic vision empowers Hindus to invoke and worship God not only on different deities each representing a particular aspect of God such as Saraswati, Lakshmi etc., but also on different aspects of creation such as rivers, mountains etc as manifestations of God.
With an exception of Nastikas, for every true Hindu, Rama Sethu is very sacred because it is a divine structure which facilitated Lord Rama to move his massive army to kill the demons including Ravana and establish Dharma. Especially Hindus desiring a boon of progeny offer prayer to Rama sethu which facilitated Rama to reunite with his wife Sita.
Existence of Rama sethu, its utility and historical value was well documented by the Hindu scriptures and copious literature in many Indian languages.
I request your lordship to consider the undeniable fact that Hindus offer prayer to the invisible river Saraswati at Triveni Sangamam near Allahabad. Some devotees go to the middle of the river on boats for offering prayers and others offer prayer from the banks of Ganges. Though Saraswati River dried-up since Centuries, Hindus consider that it is flowing underneath Ganges as antharvahini at Allahabad. 8 volume of encyclopedia on Saraswati River meticulously prepared with archeological findings and scientific data by Dr.Kalyana Raman unfolds the truth. Palaeo channels seen in the satellite imagery traced the underground flow of River Saraswati. When bore wells were dug at different places following the said track, potable water was obtained from all such wells which proved the existence of Saraswati. It is very sacred for Hindus and it is mentioned in the Rig Veda just as Rama sethu is mentioned in the immortal epic Ramayana. The entire world knows that NASA satellite pictures have spotted River Saraswati and Rama Sethu.
It is significant to note that like offering prayers to invisible river Saraswati at Allahabad, offering prayers to Rama sethu is a great tradition inherited by Hindus.
Please mark, the existence of submerged city Dwaraka in Gujarat, traced by the archeological department cannot be denied and it cannot cease to be sacred because it is under water. Can Dwaraka be delinked from the history of Lord Krishna revealed by the sacred texts of Hindus? A unique book ‘Dwaraka excavations’ by Dr.S.R.Rao enclosed herewith reveals spectacular historical facts. Thus, there is cogent and clinching evidence supporting the sacred beliefs or faith of millions and millions of Hindus inherited by them from their ancestors. That is why their faith/belief is not a product of mere surmises and conjectures but born out of profound wisdom backed by knowledge and past experience. Whether archeological findings and scientific data demonstrating such facts can be questioned?
I wish to bring to the kind attention of your Lordship that Hindus consider 5 elements of the universe as the very manifestations of Lord Shiva. They have a temple at Chidambaram for Lord Shiva representing space. When we go to the sanctum, we can find a purohit offering Deeparadhana (sacred lamp) to God and we can see only a garland of flowers hanging. No deity for our sense perception. It is called ‘Chidambara Rahasyam’ a famous phrase which means it (deity) cannot be seen. Can Chidambaram temple be negated as a place of worship because there is no sense perception of deity for offering prayers?
Your Lordship can note another great tradition followed by the Hindus. On Ayudha puja day, Hindus offer prayer even to the tools used for their livelihood. It is a tradition coming down from Arjuna who offered prayers to his hidden weapons after completing 1 year of Ajnata vasam. Then what to talk of Rama Sethu which was used by Lord Rama for establishing Dharma.
If the Apex court considers perception (sense perception) as the criteria to consider a place of worship, it amounts to questioning the very faith of religions. Why because God himself is not available for Sense perception and the medium for sacred texts of different religions, said to be revelations from God were also not available for sense perception. In this context it is significant to note Prophet Mohammad’s night journey to heaven.
On one night Mohammad was taken to the Jewish temple at Jerusalem by a Woman headed white horse with two wings to fly under the guidance of Angel Gabriel, while the prophet’s body lay on his bed at Mecca hundreds of miles away. It is said that from Jerusalem Prophet mounted upwards ascending from one heaven to another then he met Allah. Mohammedans believe that upon the rock over which the Mosque of Omar in Jerusalem stands, there is Prophet’s foot print as he vaulted from it upon his winged Whitehorse. Can they be questioned for this belief by saying that how could there be a foot print of Mohammad upon a rock at Jerusalem when his body lay on his bed at Mecca? Using the yardstick of sense perception in religious matters create more problems instead of finding solutions to the existing ones. Moreover the word perception needs to be understood properly and interpreted in its true sense. The dictionary meaning reads as follows:
Perceive: to become or to be aware of through the senses: to get knowledge of the mind: to see; to understand; to discern. (Chambers English dictionary)
Therefore perception does not mean sense perception alone. It is very clear that knowledge through mind or understanding that a particular thing exists also falls under perception.
PEOPLE GO TO RAMA SETHU AND WORSHIP:
Tamil literature proves that devotees were visiting Rama sethu and offering prayers. Pamban Swamigal has been perhaps the recent witness. Even in the recent past Hindus used to offer prayers to Rama sethu at Dhanushkoti. The very Dhanuskoti Railway station which was situated around 16 k.m. from Rameshwaram came into existence for the sake of devotees who used to visit Rama sethu. After Dhanuskoti was washed away by the Cyclone in the year 1964, despite difficult travel conditions, pilgrims hire special four wheeler vehicles to go from Rameshwaram to a place called Arichal Munai near Dhanuskoti paying exorbitant hire cost. Arichal Munai is the starting point of Rama sethu where sankalpa and worship is being offered.
Contrary to the said facts, if your lordship assumes that people do not go to Rama sethu and offer prayer and hence it is not a place of worship, why not the judiciary employ the same wisdom in the case of Babri Masjid (a monument of shame inflicted on Hindu society by an alien invader) where no namaz was offered by Muslims since decades. Moreover excavations by archeological department under the directions of Hon’ble Supreme Court have proved that Babri Masjid was constructed by destroying an existing Hindu temple.
3. Expert committee says Rama Sethu is not man made:
The acclaimed expert committee was not constituted either by the Apex Court or under the directions of Apex Court. It was constituted by a Government influenced by the atheists with vested interests.
Numerous literatures, sculptures, inscriptions on coins and tradition testify the fact that Rama Sethu was built by Lord Rama. Our revered Mahatma Swami Vivekananda’s observations on Rama Sethu also reveal this fact. (The complete works of Swami Vivekananda vol.4; P.71-72 & Vol.7; P.334) Please refer to the enclosed small book let “Setu Bandanam’ volume II pages 45, 46, 35 & 52.
I also wish to state that I have made 20 minutes presentation before the Committee on……and produced necessary evidence from the point of view of Hindus. An excellent book-let “Discourses on certain important topics” unfolding the Vedic vision by our revered Mahatma Swami Dayananda Saraswati was also given to each of the members of the committee. It proves how Rama Sethu is all the more sacred for Hindus even if one assumes that it is not a man made structure but a natural formation. In fact my presentation along with the booklet was sent to your lordship by registered post on………….
Since Rama sethu is highly religious and emotive issue for Hindus, it cannot be handled in a casual manner. It needs to be tackled with at most care and diligence after ascertaining the views of the Hindu religious apex body the Acharya Sabha consisting of various Matathipathis, Mandaleshwarars and other Acharyas.
In a recent judgment the honourble Supreme Court held that taking oath in the name of Allah is constitutional. The Apex court just proceeded on the assumption that the Arabic word ‘Allah’ means God. But the very same Allah’s revelations promote hatred and violence among people following different religions. Please look at the following two revelations which serve as the tip of iceberg.
• Qur'an al'anfaal 8:12 I shall cast terror into the hearts of the infidels. Strike off their heads, maim them in every limb.(C.Q.P.256)
Allah asks Muslims to cut off the heads of non Muslims and permanently damage their both legs and both arms.
• Qur'an al'anfaal 8:15-18 It was not you, but Allah, who slew them. It was not you who smote them, Allah smote them so that He might richly reward the faithful. (C.Q.P.257)
Do not feel guilty of violently killing because it is not you who killed them violently but it is Allah who killed them violently using you.
It is very unfortunate to note why the judiciary did not employ the yardstick of perception (I mean not sensual perception but understanding or discerning the word God) in that case. With due respect to the Hon’ble Supreme Court, I wish to state that pronouncing a judgement without knowing or considering the ground realities will lead to disastrous consequences.
“As long as even a single slab belonging to the ancient ruined temple is found in the site, the temple continues to exist in the eye of law and has its right to claim its possession was the historic judgment delivered by the London High Court with the reference to an ancient Hindu temple that was ruined and remained with out worship for long. The Appeal Court in London presided over by three senior judges, to which the case was taken upheld this judgment, but the case was taken to the Privy Council and the apex court also upheld the judgment. Thus three Foreign courts that command greatest respect in the world of judiciary held that the presence of even one slab in the site empowers the ancient temple to be treated as an existing entity in the eye of law, irrespective of whether the temple was in ruins or was not under worship. This decision of the London high Court was delivered hardly fifteen years ago when the then Congress Government headed by late Rajiv Gandhi was Prime Minister of India, who enthusiastically supported and got the case filed in the London high Court in the now famous London Nataraja case.”
“Fifty thousand inscriptions, engraved permanently on stone walls from the third century B.C. to the present times in different regions of India, are perfectly drafted legal documents of the respective ages and the primary source of reconstructing the cultural, artistic, historical and social life of the Indian people. They are the most important documents for deciding ownership disputes etc.” Dr. Nagasamy, Archaeologist who was a witness in the famous London Nataraja Case which went upto the Privy Council to decide upon what constitutes a temple and what constitutes worship in Hindu tradition. http://www.hinduonnet.com/thehindu/2003/03/16/stories/2003031602501000.htm
This case is relevant to answer the Hon’ble SC Bench’s question: Who says Rama Setu is worshipped.
Once a temple, always a temple is the Hindu tradition. Rameshwaram is referred to as Setubandha Rameshwaram in ancient traditions (as shown by Schwartzberg Univ. of Chicago South Asia Atlas maps). A religious text Skanda Purana emphatically states that Rama Setu is a place of worship and prescribed procedures for worship which have been traditionally followed, despite the submergence of Dhanushkodi in 1964 during a cyclone. Veda Vyaasa in Mahabharata enjoins everyone to protect the Rama Setu.
Tradition is the very essence of faith, very core of evidence. Even today, in Ramanathapuram District (where Rama Setu is located), people do NOT use a plough for cultivation in memory of Sita Devi who installed a S’ivalinga using the earth of the sacred place. Any fisherman, if he picks up a piece of rock while harvesting algae from the ocean, does prayas’cittam in Ramapadam of Gandhamaadana Parvatam (near Rameshwaram) seeking Lord Rama’s pardon and blessings.
In 1982, a Canadian collector purchased a bronze Hindu icon of Shiva as Lord of the Dance from a London art dealer for roughly $500,000. In 1988, the Indian Government brought an action for the recovery of the icon, Shiva Nataraja, in Britain's High Court of Justice. It claimed (and it was found), that the icon had been unlawfully removed by an Indian labourer from a ruined temple site in Tamil Nadu, and that there was a party with a title to the icon that was superior to that of the Canadian collector (however good the latter's faith). That party, according to the brief submitted by the Indian government, was none other than "(…) the god Shiva himself, as he was 'localized' in the Shiva Lingam"26 – that is, in the stone symbolizing Shiva's potency that once constituted the focus of the temple's worship.
In its reasons for judgment, the High Court noted that the temple had been founded in the twelfth century, and that it bore the name of the donor of the suite of Shiva figures that included the Nataraja:
Assuming this donor's intent was pious, then the temple's central focus – the Shiva Lingam – could be treated as the continuing and still present embodiment of that intent. Under Hindu law, the lingam could also be considered a juristic entity, capable of holding property, of suing and being sued. It no more strained credulity (…) that an idol could own property in India than that a corporation – also a legal fiction – could do so in England. Thus, the god Shiva himself, as manifest in the lingam, could be treated as the rightful owner of the Nataraja.27 [End Page 14]
As a result, the Nataraja was restored to the temple (not to Shiva – but does the distinction really matter from a Hindu perspective?), and the Canadian collector received no compensation.
This decision set off alarm bells in the great auction houses and the great museums of the world, for how many other "objects" in their collections might suddenly acquire wills and no longer wish to remain imprisoned in glass cases but rather return to their homelands?28 Stephen Weil, speaking for the museums and other collectors, branded the decision "unsettling." The "great Western collections", he noted:
(…) hold the products of a variety of cultures, each with its own cosmology, customs, and law. In determining how public funds can be spent and what may be properly acquired and displayed, could any museum curator or collector master the multitude of legal nuances that lurk beneath this diversity? Far better [than leaving such matters to be decided in a piecemeal fashion by the courts] would be strengthened, more predictable, and more encompassing international mechanisms to deal with such claims.29
Weil pointed to the recovery provisions under the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property30 as providing a possible model for such a mechanism. This would be a neat transcultural solution to the problem, but not, in my opinion, a cross-cultural one. A properly cross-cultural approach would involve exploring the space between Western and non-Western representations of the legal life of things (including their personification, as in Hindu tradition), and elaborating a scheme which resonates across the divide of representations, so as to generate dividends for all of the parties joined by the action for repatriation.31
26. Stephen E. Weil, Rethinking the Museum (Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1990) at 158 [Weil]. Various lesser parties were also asserted to have a superior title to the Canadian purchaser, including the Indian government, and the temple itself, or (given its ruined state) some official appointed to look after its affairs.
27. Ibid. See Union of India and others v. Bumper Development Corporation (17 February 1988) (Lexis). See further Bumper Development Corp v. Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis and others (Union of India and others, claimants)  4 All. E.R. 638,  1 W.L.R. 1362.
28. See Constance Classen & David Howes, "The Museum as Sensescape: Western Sensibilities and Indigenous Artifacts" in Elizabeth Edwards, Chris Gosden & Ruth Phillips, eds., Sensible Objects (Oxford: Berg) [forthcoming in 2006].
29. Weil, supra note 26 at 159.
30. 14 November 1970, 823 U.N.T.S. 231.
31. Repatriation does not necessarily mean repossession. See for example, Andrea Laforet, "Relationships between First Nations and the Canadian Museum of Civilization" (Haida Repatriation Extravaganza, Masset, British Columbia, 22 May 2004) [unpublished], where Laforet explains that under its Sacred Materials Programme, the Canadian Museum of Civilization has "(…) an agreement with the Hodenosaunee to provide corn meal mush and burn tobacco for the false face masks and other sacred objects from the Six Nations Confederacy in the museum, and representatives come to the museum twice a year at the museum's expense to do so."
British Courts Free Siva Icon
Stolen Dancing Siva Judged Legal Person, Returned To India
Fifteen years ago a gang of artifact smugglers broke into a Siva temple in Pathur, Tamil Nadu, India, hustling off a 3-foot high, 1000-year-old Siva Nataraja. In 1982 it surfaced in London, when business executive Robert Borden bought it for US 500,000. Scotland Yard impounded the stolen artifact when Borden brought it to the British Museum for restoration. The legal battle between Borden and Indian authorities has lasted nine years. On Mahasivaratri - February 12th - 1991, the appeal court in London ruled that the Siva should be returned to the Tamil Nadu hinterland. The judgment upheld a ruling given in 1988-also on Mahasivaratri-that the Siva has a legal personae existence in Britain, as they do in India. Thus, the diety could sue.
The bronze image depicts the famed cosmic dancer-but in court Siva was represented as the Siva-lingam, also found at the temple. The Siva Nataraja is thought to have been buried at the Pathur temple for safety at the time of the Muslim invasion of South India in the sixteenth century.
In a 163-page document the court dismissed the appeal of Bumper Development Corporation, of which Robert Borden is the chairman. The company failed to prove its contention that its Nataraja was not the stolen one. Then they contested that the deity/temple had no right to sue, offering the slippery argument that the Queen was the highest power and hers was a Christian nation.
Representing Siva-and India-were Bhasker Ghorpade and Adrian Hamilton, guided by solicitor Lawrence Graham. Graham conjectured that the ruling could be applied to other religious artifacts that can be traced back to an active place of worship. But Britain's most famous foreign religious artifacts, the Elgin Marbles, removed from the Athens parthenon in the 1900's are unlikely to be affected, since the ancient Greek religion is no longer practiced.
A parallel case occurred in the US. In August 1989, US Federal Judge James E. Noland, heard a case concerning fourth century mosaics from Cyprus. The four religious works, were stolen from a small village church after Cyprus was invaded by Turkey in 1974. They were purchased in Switzerland in 1988 for US$1.2 million by American art dealer Peg Goldberg. Judge Nolan made his decision in Indianapolis, US: the mosaics were the property of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Cyprus and not hers to sell. Noland accepted the claim of the Orthodox Church and the Greek Cypriot government that Goldberg should have suspected the mosaics were stolen and illegally offered for sale. Archbishop Chrysostomos of the Cyprus Church said: "This just decision by the American court will help put an end to the illegal marketing of looted archeological items worldwide." Experts at that time agreed that it set an important precedent for regulating trade in antiquities.
The precedent in the Nataraja case is from the Mallick v. Mallick case of 1925. A bedrock legal principle of Hindu law (1925) says, "a Hindu idol is according to the long established authority founded upon the religious customs of the Hindus, and the recognition thereof by the courts of law in India and the Privy Council a juristic entity. It has a judicial status with the power of suing and being sued."
Mr. Justice Kennedy remarked in his judgment, "If the English Courts admit a man or a woman to swear on oath by the supreme being of the Hindus, and they do, how consonantly with any notion of tolerance should they discountenance giving assistance to a foundation which seeks to promote the practice and teachings of that religion. Hinduism is practiced in Britain. What of an idol in a Hindu temple in England; if it should be stolen, would it be an answer to say that it is the symbol of God, and the temple can't sue in that capacity, this country? There may be spiritual discord between religions, but that should not affect the right to the return of the Nataraja."
Representing God - Talking With Siva's Lawyer
Rakesh Mathur spoke with Bhasker Ghorpade, the Hindu barrister on the team representing the Siva deity.
HT: What was this case's Hindu factor?
BG: We relied on the 1925 case in India-which was an English decision - that said the Hindu deity has a personality of its own. A Hindu god or goddess can sue or be sued in a court of law. Also we applied the principle of once a deity, always a deity; it remains a deity wherever it may be.
HT: Your thoughts on winning.
BG: Now it has become accepted that a Hindu temple can sue for stolen property in England. It is very novel because this is the first time this principle has been accepted.
HT: Are the museums reacting?
BG: So far there has been no reaction. They are reading the judgment very carefully.
HT: What kind of support came from the religious communities?
BG: Full support, wholehearted support both here in London and in Tamil Nadu-all over India. The Hindus felt strongly about it and probably know that both judgments in this case occurred on Mahasivaratri.
HT: Is this a coincidence?
BG: I don't know. God was working from somewhere.
HT: You have plans for the temple this Nataraja comes from.
BG: Yes. This temple in Tamil Nadu badly needs restoration. I think people in London can quite well look after it and build the temple again or see to the repairs. I shall shortly start fund raising.
HT: Will you he pursuing other cases in your personal capacity?
BG: I shall certainly be doing so because it is a topic I studied very carefully. I feel very strongly about it. We must claim our heritage.
HT: Is your Hinduness the main reason you fought for this?
BG: Not necessarily. I believe in India's prestige. Of course I am a Hindu and proud of it. In this case we had to do something extraordinary, and that was Hinduism, the principles and religious matters came into play to persuade the judges.
The Case of London Nataraja (which went up to the Privy Council)
The most outstanding contribution of Dr.R.Nagaswamy to Indian Art is his
appearance in the London High Court on behalf of India as an Expert Witness
in the now famous London Nataraja Case and winning the case, the brief
history of which is as follows.
A 12th cent Chola bronze Nataraja image found lying burried in Tanjavur
District in 1976 was smuggled out of the country and bought by a Canadian
oil Magnate. This image on transit was seized at London by the Scotland
yard Police in 1982. The Government of India filed a case in the London
High Court for the return of the bronze. The case was taken up in the year
1986. Dr. Nagaswamy appeared on behalf of Government of India as an expert
witness and gave evidence on matters of History, Art history, Temples,
Religion and Rituals and Sanskrit and Tamil texts, inscription and
Architecture. His book "Master Pieces of South Indian bronzes", publisdhed by
the National Museum, New Delhi served as the most important source book in
the Court which was referred to frequently in the proceedings of the Court
and also relied upon in the Judgement. The case was won by the Government
of India. This is the first time an art object of one country smuggled out to a
foreign country and a case filed and fought in the court of Law of that foreign
country.The case was won and art object got back. The following are some of the
relevent passages from the judgment of the London High Court.
1998. Justice Ian Kennaedy, Trial Judge of the London High Court in his judgement
Dr.Nagaswamy is an acknowledged expert in the field of Chola bronzes 1-4-7
Dr. Nagaswamy, who I am satisfied, is an unequalled expert in his subject.1-4-7
I have already stated my conclusion that I prefer Dr.Nagaswamy's methodology to that
of Dr.Schwindler. 1-4-7(IV)
Now considering the matter of style, again I prefer the evidence of Dr.Nagaswamy to that of Dr. Schwindler . As to the methodology I have no doubt whatsoever and as to their conclusion I am satisfied that Nagaswamy is right in his summary taking the broader feel and treatment of the main points I feel they all form a group. I am satisfied that stylistic judgements in relation to Medieval Chola bronzes can not be more precisely determined than when Nagaswamy expressed his conclusions in his evidence.1-8-5"
The trial judge has agreed with Nagaswamy's conclusions in 21 instances during the course of his judgement which enabled Government of india to win the case.
Mr. Adrian Hamilton, Queen's Counsel, London in his written submission to the London High Court.
"Dr.Nagaswamy has brought to bear unequalled learning and experience in the
historical, Cultural, and religious aspects of the Chola Empire and the
Hindu religion which flourished and which still flourish in Tamilnad and
on the understanding of the Inscriptons in the temples and on statues".
The buyer went on an appeal to the Court of Appeal presided over by three
senior most Judges. During the course of appeal the Indian High commission
again requested the assistance of Dr.Nagaswamy through a telex . The
relevant part of the telex seen below shows the crucial role Nagaswamy
played in the case.
6.June.90 INDIAN HIGH COMMISSION, LONDON, London Nataraja case in the Court
of appeal, telex- urgent- sent to Sri Varadarajan, Secretary, Government of
India, Cultural affairs, New Delhi.
Could you kindly authorise "Dr.Nagaswamy 's visit and stay in London in order
to assist Counsel in preparation for the Government resistance to Bumper Development Corporation's appeal in the Court of Appeal. Dr. Nagaswamy is an extremely important person for our case and Mr. Hamilton (Queens Counsel appearing on behalf of India) feels that without his presence and assistance in preparation for the appeal , it would be very difficult for us and counsel to prepare the plaintiff's case fully and properly to the Court of appeal."
(Ref.Jurist . 667433 1/D HC 47050 Date 6th jun. 1990)
The court of Appeal upheld the judgement of the Trial court and ordered the Return of the bronze. The matter was taken to the Privy council which also gave the verdict in favour of Government of India.
Lord Justice Purchas
Lord Justice Nourse and
Lord Justice Leggat in their Judgement in the Court of Appeals
"There was a considerable body of evidence to establish stylistic
similarities led from Dr.Nagaswamy an acknowledged Expert Archaeologist
and a devout Hindu. Justice Ian Kennedy not only analysed and considered
this evidence in great detail but also supplimented it with a meticulous
personal examination of the London Nataraja and Pathur Bronzes. In the
final result he preferred the opinion of Nagaswamy to that of Schwindler. A
finding of this sort is almost unappealable. (P.57)"
Thus the highest courts in London went into the case of Indian art object
and thanks to the services of Nagaswamy the Nataraja is back in India. This
signal service of Dr.Nagaswamy will remain a land mark in the art history
The Ayodhya Report
Dr. R. Nagaswamy
Former Director of Archaeology, Tamilnadu
Under the orders of the Allahabad High Court the ASI has concluded an excavation at the disputed site of Ayodhya to ascertain whether there was any temple structure in the Babri Masjid area. The report has since been opened and the contents revealed (The Hindu, Aug.25, 2003). According to the report it is held that a massive structure of 10th century of stone and brick lie buried beneath the site in addition to a carved sculpture and motives. A large number of pillar bases, were found in the excavation conducted under the supervision of the Special Officer appointed by the court. The ASI in its first part of the report has expressed its opinion and the second carries technical data like drawings, sketches, etc.
Even as the excavation was under way, the contesting parties were giving contradictory views and reports. Predictably the pro-Mosque party has instantaneously dubbed the present ASI report as vague and self-contradictory. The High Court has given six weeks time for both the parties to give their opinion. As evident both the parties were reportedly approaching the subject from a preconceived conclusion but as the Ayodhya issue is of national importance it may be legitimate for non-committed scholars also to study the report in detail together with stratigraphic evidence and photographs of the sculptures and pillar bases.
No one need to doubt the report of the highly competent department like ASI but it would help public opinion from a neutral stand to understand the intricacies of the result. The ASI needs to facilitate this study by publishing immediately, the reports with drawings, photographs etc for public assessment, with the approval f the Court. Assuming that the ASI opinion mentioned in the report is correct, a historic judgment in an earlier case regarding the legal right of a ruined temple, delivered by the London High court deserves attention.
As long as even a single slab belonging to the ancient ruined temple is found in the site, the temple continues to exist in the eye of law and has its right to claim its possession was the historic judgment delivered by the London High Court with the reference to an ancient Hindu temple that was ruined and remained with out worship for long. The Appeal Court in London presided over by three senior judges, to which the case was taken upheld this judgment, but the case was taken to the Privy Council and the apex court also upheld the judgment. Thus three Foreign courts that command greatest respect in the world of judiciary held that the presence of even one slab in the site empowers the ancient temple to be treated as an existing entity in the eye of law, irrespective of whether the temple was in ruins or was not under worship. This decision of the London high Court was delivered hardly fifteen years ago when the then Congress Government headed by late Rajiv Gandhi was Prime Minister of India, who enthusiastically supported and got the case filed in the London high Court in the now famous London Nataraja case. The present writer appeared in the case as an Expert witness in that case on behalf of Government of India.
One of the Pivotal arguments in the case advanced by the Indian Government was once a temple; it remains always a temple. The history of the case is as follows. A group of Bronze Idols including a Nataraja, was found in a land behind a ruined Chola temple at Pattur, in Tanjore District. The idols were found by a laborer who sold the Nataraja to an antique dealer and the image was smuggled out of India and was caught in London by the Scotland Yard Police. The Government of India filed a case in the London High Court claiming the Nataraja as a property of the ruined temple.
Among the various legal points raised in the case, a few are relevant. What constitutes the Hindu temple? Is it the structure, or the space around it or the enshrined image? When the temple has been ruined and worship ceased, whether it could claim ownership? The court agreed that not only the building and the image but also the consecrated space around the religious building constitutes the temple. The temple ritual treatises mention various causes of ruin such as vegetation on the buildings, fire, floods, earthquakes and the like besides destructions by enemy during invasion. Having examined the ritual and historical position, the court came to the decision so long as even one stone slab belonging to the ancient temple is found in the site, the temple continues to exist in the eye of law. Any ruined temple could be brought back to worship at any point of time by purificatory rites. The ASI, which is aware of this judgment, may be expected to appraise the Allahabad High Court while submitting the opinion and further clarifications the opinion of other Archaeologists who study the report from an objective angle may also be assistance in this case. It would also help to dispel the view that the ASI report is vague and contradictory as claimed by the other side. What ever be the case one thing seems to be certain that the vexed question of this case seems to be nearing an end.
Thiruttani and Velanjeri Copper Plates
A chance find of a bronze group of Vrshavahana, Devi and a bull, with a prabha, by playful School Children at the Village Velanjeri near Thiruttani, on 6-10-1977 led to the discovery of two important Copper Plate grants, one issued by the Pallava ruler Aparajita and another by Parantaka Chola I. A metal object resembling a nail was found in their school play ground by the school boys. Out of curiosity the boys uncovered a part of the earth and found to their surprise a metal image. With the help of their teacher they skillfully dug out the image and soon found another image and a bull lying there carefully burried. From the report of the teacher, it is seen that the images, were deliberately burried, possibly fearing some desecration or theft. The find of these bronze images attracted large crowds from the nearby villages and the story of the find appeared in the news-papers. Where upon, I deputed the Registering Officer of the Department to inspect the find and submit a report. During his investigation the villagers who discovered the find handed over the two historic copper plates which are now in the custody of the Tamil nadu Department of Archaeology.
Both the copper plates are intact and are fairly well preserved. One of the copper plates was issued by the Pallava ruler Aparajitavarman in his ninth year. The other one was issued by Parantaka Chola in the 25th year about 930 A.D. Both these plates, particularly the Pallava copper plate throws very valuable light on the political and religious history of Tamilnadu and is the most important discovery in recent years.
The Pallava copper plate mentions the gift of taxes to the Subrahmanya temple on the top of Thiruttani hill by the Pallava ruler Aparajitavarman who is portrayed as a great devotee of Lord Subrahmanya. For the first time, the history of the famous Subhramanya temple of Thiruttani is taken to a very remote antiquity. The present copper plates shows that the Subrahmanya temple was in existence even earlier than 900 A.D.
The Pallava copper plate is also important from another angle. Hitherto the place of Aparajita Pallava in the Pallava line was not known. For the past hundred years Scholars have been trying to assess his position and his relationship with other Pallava rulers and contemporaries. Aparajita was considered the son of Nandivarman and a step-brother of Kampavarman and so on.
All the surmises of scholars are proved wrong by the present discovery. The present Velanjeri copper plate mentions that Aparajita was the son of Pallava ruler Kampavarman through a Ganga Princess whose name is given as Vijaya. The copper plate also details the relationship between Kampavarman and Nrpatunga and also the battles won by Aparajita which are of vital interest to the history of the latter Pallavas. The present copper plate throws very valuable light and removes many confusions that have been prevalent with reference to the history of later Pallavas.
The Chola copper plate is also of great interest. It refers to the conquest of Kanchipuram and erection of imposing palaces there by Karikala Chola. It mentions the spider story about the birth of Koccengannan. For the first time, the name of Vijayalayachola's father is known as Orriyuran. About Parantaka, the donor, the copper plate states that he performed Tulabhara in the temples of Kanyakumari, Ramesvaram and Srirangam.
Both the copper plates were said to have been in a clay pot which has also been recovered. The plates and pot were willingly gifted to the Tamil Nadu State Department of Archaeology, by the villagers. The texts and translations of the copper plate charters and also a brief history of Thiruttani are published here.
The image of Siva standing on a pedestal is about 95 c.m. in height. The Devi also standing is about 93 c.m. and the Bull 40 c.m. All the three are placed on a badhrapitha of 15 c.m. in height. A prabha, somewhat broken, covering all the three images about 280 c.m. has also been found. The form of Siva seems to indicate an early date while that of the Devi and the bull seems to be some what later. They fit in with the pedestal. The images probably belong to a period between 950 and 980 A.D.
APARAJITA'S PLATE Among the two copper plate charters found at Velanjeri, Aparajita's plate is the earliest. The charter consists of five plates fastened to a seal. The charter has not suffered any damage, and is available in full.
The plates, five in number, are 27 cm. in length and 10 cm. in width; the ring is 16 cm. in diameter; the seal 9.5 cm. in diameter is countersunk to a debth of 1 cm. The plates are not numbered. The first and the last pages of the plates are not inscribed. The letters are deeply cut and fairly well written with few mistakes.
The seal The seal which is intact, carries the figure of a seated bull in the centre facing left. It is typical of the bulls found in other Pallava seals and stone sculptures. It is flanked by lamps on stands (Kuttu vilakku). Above the bull are shown ashtamangalas, (the eight auspices symbols), among which Kendi, Srivatsa, lamp and mirror are clearly visible. This is topped by an umbrella and fly whisks flanking the parasol. In the rim portion is an inscription in grantha characters reading- Svasti Sri - ntrasa siras sreni sri sikha sayi sasanam rajnah Pallava vamsendoh sri Aparajitavarmanah. Aparajitavarmanah The verse ends with the word Aparajitavarmanah i.e. of Aparajita varman. This word is repeated again as Aparajitavarmanah immediately below the seated bull. The repetition of this word is not only interestsing but also rare. It seems to indicate that the seal is that of Aparajita and that the same word in the verse relates to the royal sasana as a whole.
A point of interest is that the seal was embossed by a smith, whose name is given as Videlvidugu Perun-kannan. So far we have not come across in the Tamil country the name of the artist who embossed the royal seal. It shows that the kings had in their employment artisans to inscribe the order on the plates and separate artisans to emboss the seals.
The Grant The grant was issued by the Pallava ruler, Aparajita, in his ninth regnal year.
After giving the mythical genealogy of the Pallavas, the grant begins with Kampavarman. He seized the throne from Pallava Nrpatunga with glory. A certain Vijaya of matchless virtues and born of the Ganga family, was his queen. Aparajita was their son. Aparajita destroyed the elepants of the Bana ruler, captured Karanai,the Pandya city, and won a great battle against the Chola at Chirrarrur.
At the request of one Vamanayya, the king gifted the village Pudur, in Thiruttaniyal nadu, to the sabha of Melirunjeru as a devatana brahmadeya and stipulated that the village should pay one thousand kadi of paddy as Pancavara to Lord Subrahmanya who is pleased to stand on the hill. The record details the boundaries of the lands gifted, the tax exemptions and the privileges conferred on the village.
A certain Podini Mahadeva bhatta was the composer of this grant.
This silpin Vijayanna engraved the charter and a certain Videlvidugu Perunkannan embossed the seal.
Language The grant, like all other Pallava grants of the seventh and eighth century A.D. is bilingual, written in Sanskrit and Tamil.
The Sanskrit portion is in poetry and prose. The poetic version describe the explooits of Kampavarman, and Aparajita and extols the greatness of Vijaya, the mother of Aparajita.
The prose part closely follows the style of the age, as reflected in Bana's 'Kadambari', 'Harsha Carita' and also the prose portion of the Kuram plates of Paramesvara varman. It contains a long drawn out passage and is written with an eye on word play. It is a beautiful composition, essentially musical. Mahadeva the composer, was certainly an eminent poet, who inherited his father's poetic talent. His father Srikumara is praised as a composer of mahakavyas. The drafting of the Tamil portion is equally good and free from mistakes.
Aparajita's devotion Aparajita Pallava, with great devotion to Subrahmanya on the hill of Thiruttani, gifted the village as a devatana brahmadeya,(a Brahmin settlement attached to the temple) by pouring water from a golden pitcher. The village Thiruttani is refered to as an agrahara and Meliruncru as a Mahagrahara. The gifted village, Pudur was clubbed with Melirunceru and the village sabha was directed to pay 1000 kadi of paddy to Lord Subrahmanya on the hill. In the Sanskrit portion the Lord is mentioned as Shanmukha, the son of Mahesvara, (Mahesvara Sunave Shanmukhaya) and in the Tamil portion as, Subrahmanya who is pleased to stand on Thiruttani hill (Thirumalayil nindrarulina) and also as Subrahmanya the Lord of Thiruttani hill (Thirumalai Piranar).(1)
This charter shows Aparajita's special attachment to Tiruttani. It is well known that the Virattana temple at this village was built in his reign by one Nambi Appi(2) and that the king himself composed a poem in its honour. That Aparajita was a great devotee of Subrahmanya is gleaned for the first time from this record.
A stone sculpture of Subrahmanya, of the Pallava age (ninth century A.D.) is now worshipped as Balasubrahmanya in the Tiruttani temple. It is housed in the prakara of the main shrine. The present main deity inside the sanctum seems to be an installation of the 16th century in the Vijayanagar period, when the main temple seems to have(3) been rebuilt. The Pallava image of Subrahmanya is obviously the deity that received the benefaction of Aparajita. The existence of the Subrahmanya temple in Tiruttani hill, in the reign of Aparajita takes the history of the temple earlier than was hitherto known.
The copper plate is very important from the point of view of political history. In the history of the later Pallavas, the relationship among Aparajita, Nrpatunga and Kampavarma was a mystery.
That Kampavarman and Nrpatunga were brothers was recognised by scholars earlier.(4) Bahur(5) and Chirrur(6) plates mention Nrpatunga as the son of Nandi, through Sankha, the Rashtrakuta princess. The Cholapuram record refers to Nandi Kampa,(7) meaning Kampa the son of Nandi. But how were they related to Aparajita? In the absence of records many suppositions were made. K.A.N. Sastri(8) and T.V. Mahalingam(9) considered Aparajita as another son of Nandi and a brother of Nrpatunga. Mahalingam went to the extent of suggesting that Aparajita was the son of Nandi through Mkarambavai.(10) But now this copper plate charter sets at rest all speculations about their relationship. It specifically mentions Aparajita as the son of Kampavarman, through Vijaya, a Ganga princess;
Umeva Rudrasya Rameva Vishnor Visuddha Ganganvaya Janma manya I Gunonurupa Vijayabhidhana Patnis Sapatni Vijaya sriyaibhut II Bahumukha subhagas tatota tasyam Prathama mabhut Aparajitah Sa Saktih
This passage further shows that Kampa and Aparajita had the able support of the Ganga chieftains. Further, this plate states that Kampavarman captured the Pallava throne forcibly from Nrpatunga.
Yo Vijitya Nrpatungam Ahave Pallavam Prabala Vallabhanvitam Svicakara Vasudham Saha Sriya Sagarormi Valayaika mekhalam.
Another point of great interest furnished by this plates is the conquests of Aparajita. Aparajita conquered the Bana, captured Karanai the city of the Pandya and defeated the Chola at Chirrarrur.
This new information furnished by this grant necessitates a re-evalution of the political condition of the period.
The Borther's fight
The fight between the Pallava brothers, Kampavarman and Nrpatunga, needs explanation. It is obvious that Nrpatunga was installed on the throne by his father Nandi III. Scholars have missed a point of considerable interesst mentioned in the Bahur plates of Nrpatunga. The Bahur plates were issued by Nrpatunga in his eighth regnal year. Referring to Nrpatunga, it states that he was still a boy. The relevant portion of the record reads:-
Nrpatunga iti khyato Balopi Bhuvanesvarah
From this it is clear, that Nrpatunga was a boy in his eighth regnal year. He should still have been in his teens.
The Chirrur copper plate(12) of the same ruler, was granted two years earlier, in his sixth year. We have reason to believe that by that time Aparajita also had assumed importance.(13) It suggests that Kampavarman, father of Aparajita, should have been elder to Nrpatunga.
While Kampavarman the elder was alive, the younger, Nrpatunga, though a boy, ascended the throne. This obviously led to enmity between the brothers. Nrpatunga should have been chosen by Nandi II in preference to Kampa, probably because of Rashtrakuta influence. Nrpatunga's mother, Sankha was a Rashtrakuta princess.
It is not known whether Nrpatunga ascended the throne even when Nandi was alive or after his demise. Probably during his last years, Nandi installed Nrpatunga. Kampavarman, immediately after the demise of his father, should have struck the blow and dislodged his brother. Though Kampa removed his brother from the throne, he treated him with considerable moderation and even allowed him to issue charters. He also installed his son Aparajita very early as his co-regent, as Aparajita was known for his valour.
The power alignment during this period also needs consideration. The Banas were clearly on the side of Narpatunga. Bana Paranjaya, who had the title Kadupatti Muttariyan,(14) requested Nrpatunga to grant the Chirrur plates. Aparajita defeated a Bana ruler who was in all probability this Paranjaya, kadupatti Muttaraiya.
A Pandya, said to have been a grandson of the Bana through a daughter, was also defeated by Aparajita. Pandya Varaguna received help from Nrpatunga.(15) It is not known who the mother of Varaguna was. If Varaguna was the adversary of Aparajita, in all probability he was, we get here the information that he was the son of this Bana's daughter. This Bana also had the title Kadupatti Muttarasar. So the fact that the Muttarasar were closely related to Pandya Varaguna is also thus attested. That may also attest to the presence of Varaguna at Sendalai.
The third adversary of Aprajita was a Chola defeated at Chirrarrur. In all probability the Chola adversary was Aditya.(16) We know that subsquently Aditya killed Aparajita in the battle. This shows that Varaguna, Aditya, Bana and Muttarasa were on the side of Nrpatunga while Aparajita and Kampa, were aided by the Ganga ruler Prithivipati on the other. It was mentioned earlier that Aparajita's mother was a Ganga princess. That Aparajita was aided in the Sripurambiyam battle by Ganga Prithivipati is well known(17) Prithvipati obtained victory for his over lord Aparajita, but lost his life in that battle.
It would be interesting to note the various dates of accession of the kings suggested by scholars*. (* K. A. N. stands for K. A. Nilakanta Sastri, T. V. M. for T. V. Mahalingam S.R.B. for S. R. Balasubramaniam and T.N.S. for T. N. Subramaniam)
K.A.N. T.V.M.S.R.B. T.N.S. Nrpatunga859 to 99 869-910855 - Aparajita885 - 903 895-913878 - Kampavarman870 - 912878 - Aditya871 871871 870
Aditya's conquest of Tondaimandalam is attested by his inscriptions found in Tirukkalukunram,(18) and Takkolam.(19) His 21st year inscription seems to be the earliest in Tondainadu. If this is taken as the basis, it would then mean that Aparajita had lost his life by 890. (the 20th year of Aditya). Aparajita's inscriptions are found upto his 18th year(20). So he should have ascended the throne about 870. Kampavarman came to the throne a few years earlier, circa 868 and Nrpatunga, two are three years earlier. Nrpatunga's accession can be placed about 865. On the basis of the above calculations the following would be our revised chronology.
Nrpatunga 865 to 906 A.D. Kampavarman 868 - 900 A.D. Aparajita 870 - 890 A.D.
Prof. Sastri, and S. R. Balasubramaniam agree to 890 as the last year of Aparajita. This tallies with our findings. T.V. Mahalingam's date of 913 for both Aparajita and Aditya seems to us to be unconvincing(21).
From this chronology and power alignment a few points of interest emerge. From 890 to 903 Nrpatunga's inscriptions are not found. Kampavarman probably accepted the suzerainty of Aditya and ruled upto 900.
The role of Chieftains
The role of chieftains during this period requires carefull study. Banas, Gangas, Muttaraiyars, Irukkuvels, Viluppariyars, Tamil Peraraiyar, Pallavaraiyar etc. are found during this period. It is noteworthy that a number of chieftains bore the title Videlvidugu. We have the following Chieftains with this title.
1. Videlvidugu Muttaraiyan.(22) 2. Videlvidugu Kadupatti Tamil Peraraiyan(23) 3. Videlvidugu Vilupperadiyarayan(24) 4. Videlvidugu Ilangovelar.(25).
All these chieftains lived in the middle and later half of the ninth century. Vedilvidugu is a significant title of Dantivarman.
Videlvidugu Kadupatti Tamil Peraraiyan
A Kadupatti Tamil Peraraiyan is mentioned as the Ajnapti of the Chirrur grant of Nrpatunga.(26) He was also called Dramidadhiraja and very abode of dharma. He again figures as the Ajnapti in the eighth year of Nrpatunga in the Bahur plates.(27) In this charter he is given his full title as Videlvidugu Kadupatti Tamil Peraraiyan. The Sanskrit portion calls him Uttamasila. Highly learned and a minister to Nrpatunga. He was held in high esteem by rulers.
Ajnaptih Uttamasilah Trailokyesvara Pujitah Mantri Brahaspati Prakhyah Rajno Sri Tungavarmanah
While one charter mentions him as Kadupatti Tamil Peraraiyan, another calls him Videlvidugu Kadupatti Tamil Peraraiyan. It is likely that he distinguished himself in the closing years of Danti and received the title Videlvidugu. The Kadupatti Tamil Peraraiyan was the executor of the grant of Vijaya Nandi Vikramavarman recorded in Thiruvallam.
Videlvidugu Kadupatti Muttaraiyan
The Vijnapti of the Chirrur plates(28) issued in the sixth year of Nrpatunga was Muttaraiyan, who also had the title Paranjaya. He was a Bana and is called a descendent of Balikula. He is also called Agatrayesa and Saila trayendra.* (* [These are names of the Trikuta mountain, considered to the the highest peak of the Himalayas. Rulers of eminence assumed the title Trikutachalapati to mark their valour. The Cholas a little later assumed the little "Mummudi" which in all probability refers to Trikuta].
The cave temple at Malaiyadipatti, in Pudukkottai district, was excavated by one Kuvavan Sattan alias Videlvidugu Muttaraiyan in the 16th year of Dantivarman.(29) It is not known whether this Videlvidugu Muttaraiyan is identical with Kadupatti Muttaraiyan.
A Kadupatti Muttariya figures in an inscription of Dantivarman (the date is lost) from Pallipalayam village in Kanchipuram taluk.(30) He appears as a Vijnapti. This would suggest that Videlvidugu Muttaraiyan was identical with Kadupatti Muttaraiyan. Kadupatti Muttaraiya raided Koyattur in the reign of Bana Vijayaditta Virachulamani Prabhumeru as mentioned in the Punganur record.(31) This Bana Vijayaditta Prabhumeru, was a contemporary(32) of Nrpatunga and it is evident that this Kadupatti Muttaraiyan is identical with the Kadupatti Muttaraiya mentioned in the Chirrur plates as Vijnapti.
Dr. Ramesan has identified Paranjaya, the Vijnapti of Chirrur plates with Vikramaditya Jayameru Bana Vidyadhara.(33) Since Paranjaya and Vikramaditya were Banas, Ramesan ventured to suggest the identification. The identification is not correct since we have seen, the Paranjaya was Kadupatti Muttaraiya and that he invaded Koyattur under Bana Vidhyadhara. So Bana Paranjaya and Vikramaditya Jayameru Bana Vidhyadhara are two different persons. Vijayaditta, Vikramaditta and others called themselves Mavalivanadhiraya. They probably belonged to a colateral branch of the Bana family. The other Bana family took the title Mutarasa. Kadupatti Muttarasa was active from the 16th year of Dantivarman to that of Nrpatunga, for over sixty years from 810 to 870.
Kaduvetti Muttaraiya's son Arikanta Perumal, is mentioned in the 15th year of Nrpatunga in an inscription of Thiruvalangadu(34). Arikanta continued to hold power and influence upto the 24th year of Nrpatunga(35). In this record he is mentioned as the son of Kadupatti Muttaraiya. In all probability Kadupatti Muttaraiya passed away before the 15th year of Nrpatunga.
The Kodumbalur chiefs also seem to have been under the spell of the Pallavas in the eighth and ninth centuries before they turned hostile. To begin our study of Ilangovel, it is good of take up Videlvidugu Ilangovel mentioned in an inscription of Kampavarman. The inscription is dated between the 11th and 16th year(36) (884). The inscription comes from Thiruvorriyur, and states that Pudi Arindigai was queen of Videl vidugu Ilangovelar of Kodumbalur in Konadu. The damaged portion of the record beginning with the word 'Mut' could be reconstructed as 'Muttaraiyar' in which case the princess was a daughter of Muttaraiya.
As mentioned earlier, the tittle Videlvidugu, assumed prominence in the reign of Dantivarman. Probably this Ilangovelar served under Dantivarman towards the close of his reign and continued to serve upto Kampavarman's 15th year.
The alliance between the Muttaraiyar and Irukkuvel families is attested by another inscription of the same period. In the sixth year of a Parakesarivarman(37) a Varagunanatti Peruman, a daughter of Muttaraiya chief is mentioned as the wife of Sembiyan Irukkuvel.
The identification of Videlvidugu Ilangovel has posed considerarable problems to scholars. Videlvidugu Ilangovel has been identified by a scholar with Videlvidugu Muttaraiyan of the Malaiyadipatti inscription(38) This is quite off the mark and S. R. Balasubramanian is right in rejecting the suggestion.
It is seen that Videlvidugu Ilangovelan is active about the third quarter of the ninth century. We have an Ilangovelan of Kodumbalur active in the same period, with the name Tennavan Ilangovelan alias Maravan(39) Pudi. This Tennavan Ilangovelan is also identified with Parantaka Ilangovelan.
This problem is closely connected with the dating of the famous Kodumbalur temple and has been ably discussed in detail by S. R. Balasubramanian in his book on Middle Chola temples. It is therefore necessary to discuss this is detail. According to the Muvarkoil inscription(40), the builder of the temple was one Bhuti who also conquered one Virapandya. Bhuti had two queens, Karrali and Varaguna. He built the Vimanatraya (Muvarkoil) in his own name and in the name of his two queens. He had two sons, Parantaka and Aditya. These are the important points gleaned from the inscriptions.
S. R. Balasubrahmanian holds the following views.
1. Tennavan Ilangovel alias Pudi is different from Pudi Vikramakesari the builder of Kodumbalur temple. 2. Tennavan Ilangovelan alias Maravan Pudi was a contemporary of Nandi III and contemporary of Aditya I. 3. He had a wife Karrali Piratti. 4. He had another queen Nakkan Vikramakesari. 5. He had a daughter named Pudi Aditta Pidari. 6. There was another chieftain Parantaka Ilangovelan. 7. He had a wife Varaguna, a sister of Aditya I. 8. Balasubramanian does not agree with the view that Tennavan Ilangovel is identical with Parantaka Illangovel. 9. He agrees that there was a Parantaka, son of Pudi called Pudi Parantakan. 10. He holds Pudisvaram is different from Muvarkoil. 11. He states that Pudi had two sons Parantaka and Aditya and that we know nothing about them. 12. He also discusses in detail Vira Pandya, an adversary of Bhuti.
The two Ilangovels
There are two Chieftains with the title Ilangovel; one Tennavan Ilangovel and another Parantaka Ilangovel. Some scholars hold the view that they are identical and others(41) hold that they are two different persons. It is necessary to examine this point.
Tennavan Ilangovel alias Maravan Puti (i.e. Puti son of Maravan), appears in inscriptions from the 16th year of Nandi, 855 A.D.(42) (Throughout the rule of Aditya I) to third year of Parantaka 910 A.D.(43) In all these inscriptions his title occurs as Tennavan Ilangovelan without any change.
There are two inscriptions dated in the 13th year of one Rajakesari(44) which mention Parantaka Ilangovelan; his surname is not known. If this Rajakesari is Aditya I, we have two Ilangovels, one, is Tennavan Ilangovel and another one is Parantaka Ilangovel. (We have shown the title Tennavan Ilangovel appearing for Maravan Puti till the 3rd year of Parantaka, without any change). If this Rajakesari is identified with Arinjaya II as held by K.A.N. (and S.R. Balasubramanian in his first book) then Parantaka Ilangovel is different from Tennevan Ilangovel. In both the account, it is clear that Tennavan Ilangovel is different from Parantaka Ilangovel as rightly held by S.R. Balasubramanian.(45)
The active period of Tennavan Ilangovel who also had the surname Puti was from 855 to 910. The date of Parantaka Ilangovel is disputed. The only reason adduced by S.R. Balasubramanian is Paleography. He holds the Lalgudi inscriptions has pulli and paleographically early and assigns it to Aditya I. On this count he holds the Lalgudi temple was built in the 27th year of Aditya and other inscriptions found on the temple were later copies. Paleography is not a safe guide, when the time gap is only 15 years (13th year of Aditya to 27th year of Aditya). If the 13th year epigraph of Rajakesari is that of Aditya I, then the view that the same temple was built around the 27th year is difficult to susstain. Aditya, Varaguna, Nandi III and Nrpatunga were all contemporaries and it is not surprising that their epigraphs have close resemblance.
So it is not wrong to hold that the 13th year at Lalgudi and Tillaisthanam, belong to the reign of Arinjaya as held by K.A.N. and S.R.B. (in his earlier work). So Parantaka Ilangovel is a later chieftain who lived in 960 A.D. but his surname is not known, while the name of Tennavan Ilangovel is Puti. There is a Puti in the reign of Aditya I and no Puti in the reign of Sundarachola.
The names Karrali and Varaguna as the wives of Puti are found in the reign of Aditya I. There is no Karrali in the reign of Sundarachola. A certain Varaguna appears as the wife, not of Puti, but as the wife of Parantaka Ilangovel. Puti appears in the early years of Parantaka Chola I, and in the same year, appears Puti Parantaka, son of Puti also. It is indisputable that this Puti Parantaka who had the title Sembiyan Irukkuvel, is the son of Puti alias Tennavan Ilangovel, a contemporary of Aditya I and Parantaka I.
There are three Varaguna's mentioned in inscriptions. 1. Varaguna the wife of Tennavan Ilangovel (in the reign of Aditya I and Parantaka I). 2. Varaguna, wife of Puti's son Parantaka alias Sembiyan Irukkuvel in the reign of Parantaka Chola I.(48) She was the daughter of a Muttaraiya and 3. Varaguna the wife of Parantaka Ilangovel in the reign of Arinjaya; she was the daughter of Arinjaya Chola.(49)
The date of Kodumbalur temple
Three names mentioned in the Kodumbalur inscriptions namely Puti, his wife Karrali and their son Puti Parantaka appear in the reign of Aditya I and early years of Parantaka I, whereas the name of Varaguna alone appears in the reign of Sundarachola. It is therefore logical to hold that Tennavan Ilangovelan alias Puti (Son of Maravan) is identical with Puti the builder of the Kodumbalur temple and that he lived in the reign of Aditya I and early years of Parantaka I. The Kodumbalur temple should be assigned to the period of Circa 890 A.D. and not to 960 A.D. as held by S. R. Balasubramanian.(46)
In Nartamalai, we have an inscription dated in the reign of Nrpatunga, which refers to Videlvidugu Ilangovelan and his son Sattan Paliyili (who excavated the cave shrine to Siva).(47) Evidently the surname of Videlvidugu Ilangovelan was Sattan, while that of Tennavan Ilangovelan was Puti. It is evident that Videlvidugu Ilangovelan is different from, but an elder contemporary of, Tennavan Ilangovel the builder of the Kodumbalur temple.
The problem of Virapandya
One more point that needs elucidation is Puti's adversary Virapandya. Sri S. R. Balasubramanian has discussed this problem, quite vigourously. He says that 'Vira Pandya, the enemy of Puti, was the one who took the head of Chola and that he came to the throne in 946 A.D. He was killed by Aditya II in the reign of Sundarachola and so the Kodumbalur temple should be assigned to the reign of Sundarachola I, later half of 10th Century.'(50) First of all the Kodumbalur inscription does not refer to Virapandya as "one who took the head of Chola". No title of Virapandya is mentioned.
"Yo Virah Virapandyam Vyajayata Samare"
Even if we take Vira Pandya of Kodumbalur record as identical with the one "who took the head of the Chola" it has not been established he was identical with the one "who was killed by Aditya II". A Virapandya, appears as a contemporary of Pandya Rajasimha II as early as 920 A.D. It has been shown on an analysis of inscriptions at Pallimadam, Thiruppattur, Ambasamudram, Kuttalam etc., that a Virapandya lived in the closing years of ninth Century and early years of 10th Century A.D.(51)
The Kodumbalur inscription of Bhuti, the builder of the Muvarkoil, refers to the victories gained by the chieftain. It states that "the water of Kaveri was turned red with the blood of the Pallava forces and this warrior defeated Vira Pandya in battle and became death to Vanji Vel".(52)
Kaveri vari Sonam samakrta rudiraih Pallavasya dhvajinyah Yo Viro Vira Pandyam Vyajayata Samare labdanyanama nrpah
Commenting on this Prof. K.A.N. Sastri says "One wonders, however, if by the expression Pallavasya dhvaijinayah, the composer of the incription means "Vallabhasya dhvajinyah" which would be an allusion to the conquest of Chola country by the Rashtrakuta Krishna III, which occurred towards the close of the reign of Parantaka".
It should be studied in the light of Sinnamanur, larger copper plate charter of Pandya Rajasimha,(53) and also a herostone recently found at Karur by the Tamilnadu State Department of Archaeology. The later refers to a soldier, under Vanjivel who lost his life in a battle. The Paleography of the epigraph suggests the same period as that of the Kodumbalur inscription. The place Karur, where the herostone has been found was called Vanji in both ancient inscriptions and literature.
The Sinnamanur Copper plates, mentions a number of conquests of Pandya Rajasimha.
1. He conquered his enemies at Ulappinimangalam. 2. The King of Tanjore was defeated at Naippur. 3. The great army was routed at Kodumbalur. 4. The soldiers were destroyed and the fortified city of Vanji on the northern banks of river kaveri was consigned to flames, and 5. The King of southern Tanjore defeated.
Rajasimha II ascended the throne around 900 A.D. His contemporary Chola rulers were Aditya I and Parantaka I. This charter was issued in his 16th year. So victory over the ruler of Tanjore I (Chola) and Kodumbalur, should be placed before 915 A.D. The Chola, who was defeated at Naippur was either Aditya I or Parantaka I. Similarly the encounter with the Kodumbalur Chief should have taken place in the first decade of the 10th century A.D.
The only reference to the fight of the early Pandyas with a Kodumbalur Chieftain occurs in this plate and that it has taken place around 910 A.D. Correspondingly we have a reference in the Kodumbalur inscription of Bhuti, of a conquest over ViraPandya. We have seen Bhuti lived in the later half of 9th and early 10th Century A.D. We have a Vira Pandya with Rajasimha. This Vira Pandya should have taken part in the battles fought by Rajasimha and obviously the adversary of Bhuti was this Virapandya.
We have seen that Rajasimha boasts of a victory over the ruler of Tanjore at Naippur who could be none other than the Chola. That Vira Pandya participated in the expenditions of Rajasimha was also mentioned earlier. This Virapandya assumed the title 'Cholantaka' and 'Cholan talaikonda' and this should be after the Naippur battle.
The fight of Kodumbalur Bhuti with Vanjivel should have taken place prior to his encounter with Vira Pandya. Karur was under the control of Pallavas and that Vanjivel was in all probability a Pallava feudatory. Bhuti's boasts of turning the water of Kaveri red with the blood of Pallava army, might have taken place in this region. The herostone recently found at Karur refering to the death of a soldier of Vanjivel, might refer to this encounter.
K. A. N. Sastri's suggestion that the term Pallavasya dhvajinyah probably stood for Vallabhasya dhvajinyah arise from his stand that Bhuti lived in the middle of 10th century and that there was no Pallava then. But we have shown that Bhuti lived in the last quarter of the 9th and early 10th century A.D. when the Pallavas were still a power to reckon with. So the word Pallvasya Dhvajinyah occuring in the inscription is quite correct and needs no change.
From the above we conclude that (1) Tennavan Ilangovel alias Pudi, son of Maravan, who appears in the reign of Pallava Nandi, and Cholas Aditya and Parantaka I is identical with Bhuti Vikramakesari, the builder of the Muvarkoil, of Kodumbalur, and that the same was built in the closing years of ninth century A.D. (2) The temple built by this Puti is the temple Pudisvaram, mentioned in many of Parantaka's inscriptions. It is the wellknown custom that the temples built by a person is named after him. (3) The name Rishabha Perumanadigal of Thiruppudisvaram occuring in an inscription refers to the Nandi (Rshabha) of the Pudisvaram and not to the main deity of the temple.
Though the Kodumbalur inscription refers to the construction of the temple, its exact date is not known. But the earliest reference to Pudisvaram occurs in the 21st year of Aditya.(54) So it should have been built around 890.
Whatever the case may be, it is clear that the Kodumbalur Velirs, who were on the side of the Pallavas till the middle of the ninth century, are seen slowly shifting their allegiance to the newly emerging power of the Cholas. Yet the Pallava impact on the Kodumbalur Velir is profound and cannot be ignored in writing the art history of the period.
Videlvidugu Vilupperadi araiyan
Videlvidugu Vilupperadi araiyan, figures in an inscription of the Satyagirisvara temple, Thirumeyyam.(55) His mother Perumbidugu Perumdevi is said to have renovated the temple.
Interestingly, the smith who embossed the royal seal of Velanjeri plates of Aparajita was Videlvidugu Perunkannan. Probably he served the Pallava rulers from the closing years of Dantivarman.
The rise and fall of Aparajita
We have seen that the Kodumbalur Velir Chieftains, the Muttaraiya, Tamil Peraraiyans, and also the Pandya Varaguna joined hand with the Cholas and probably with Nrpatunga and presented a formidable opposition to Kampavarman and his son Aparajita. The Ganga ruler Prithvipati was the sole supporter of Aparajita. Obviously the battle fought at sripurambiyam should have been a terrible one. That the Pallava emerged victorious speaks to his power and valour. But this was short lived. Aditya soon gaining his power struck the final blow and Aparajita lost his life.
Course of Events
The course of events could be reconstructed as follows:-
Nandi III chose Nrpatunga the younger, in preference to Kampa the elder, on account of Rashtrakuta influence. Nrpatunga had Bana Paranjaya alias Kadupatti Muttarayan also on his side. The Pandya ruler Varguna who was a son through a Bana Princess, Naturally, received the help of Nrpatunga. Varaguna's father Sri Mara Sri Vallabha had already extended his power upto Kumbakonam. That explains the presence of Varaguna II in the Chola heart land from the very beginning of his rule. In the meanwhile, Kampavarman overthrew Nrpatunga, by about 868 A.D. Varaguna, with a view to aid his ally did some fighting and extended his power as far north as Pennar. Though Kampa was able to overthrow Nrpatunga from his Kanchi throne, he was losing on the borders, and chose his son Aparajita as heir apparent, to help him. Apparajita had a joint rule with his father Kampavarman throughout his life. Aparajita fought bravely against formidable combination of enemies. The Velanjeri plates dated in his ninth regnal year refers to his fight against a Bana, a Pandya at Karanai, and a Chola at Chirrarrur. All these fights should be placed between the years 870 and 880. This plate however does not mention the battle of Sripurambiyam, where Aparajita won a signal victory (though he lost his trusted friend Ganga Prithvipathi). The battle of Sripurambiyam should have taken place after the ninth year (880 A.D.) of Aparajita as it does not figure in this plate.
The Sripurambiyam battle though gave a great victory to Aparajita, removed his powerful friend Prithvipathi from the scene and this ultimately led to his defeat and death around 890 A.D. The battle field where Aditya and Aparajita met and Aparajita lost his life is not known. It is likely their encounter took place in the Chola country not far away from Kumbakonam. Aditya should have pressed his advantage further and brought the entire Tondainadu under his control. The title "Tondainadu Pavina" should be assigned to Aditya. After the death of Aparajita, Kampavarman should have accepted the suzerainty of Aditya and was allowed to issue his charters and lived upto his 32nd regnal year, circa 900 A.D.
Nrpatunga's inscription is not found from his 25th year to his 41st year. Probably after the death of Aprajita, Nrpatunga was also driven out an account of his Rashtrakuta alliance. Though Aditya contacted Rashtrakuta alliance and had a son Kannara deva through his Rashtrakuta spouse, his other son Parantaka had asserted himself by 890 and as such, the Rashtrakuta alliance was overthrown. It led to the disappearance of Nrpatunga from the scene for sometime. He reappeared in the Thiruttani region in his 41st year, about 906 A.D. that is the year when Parantaka ascended the throne. Parantaka quickly put an end to Nrpatunga around that year.
There is one point that needs consideration. When a ruler conquerred a territory, it was customary to confer it back on the vanguished ruler or one of his family members after levying a tribute. In this instance the records of the region may be dated either in the regnal year of the overlord or the vanquished ruler. This causes no doubt confusion in reconstructing history but that seems to havae been the ancient law. This also would explain the presence of inscriptions of both the Pallava and Chola rulers of the same period in the same region. The presence of the inscriptions of both Aditya and Kampavarman simultaneously in the same region can be reconciled only by this way. If that be so who was the Pallava appointed by Parantaka after his conquest of Tondaimandalam region? This needs further study and future discoveries alone will throw light on this subject. Another point which is not possible of any solution at present, is the rule of Pallava Nandi, the victor of Tellaru.
Pallava Chola Transition
Some of the important temples in Tanjore-Pudukkottai region are Thirumeyyam, Kudumiyamalai, Malayadipatti, Kunnandar Koil etc. In Thirumeyyam an early inscription is that of a Pallava feudatory Videlvidugu Vilupperadiarasan also known as Sattan Maran. In Kudimiyamalai, an inscription of Aditya, dated in 20th year (890 A.D.) mentions Perumbidugu Muttarayar's wife Nangai making gifts. The connection of this Perumbidugu Muttarasa with the Pallavas is obvious from the title. In Kunnandar Koil we have an inscription of Pallava Nandi. The Malayadipatti cave temple was excavated by Videlvidugu Muttaraiyan in the reign of Pallava Dantivarman. The Muttaraiyars mentioned in Sendalai Pillar were feudatories of the Pallavas is also known. It is clear that in all these important places in Tanjore-Pudukkottai, the Pallava power and impact were very much effective in the 9th cent. A.D. It has been shown that these Muttaraiya chieftains were active both in the Kanchipuram and Tanjore-Pudukkottai regions. It would show that the Pallava art of the Tondaimandalam region, very much influenced the Muttaraiya foundations. Also the Irrukkuvel-Ilangovel family were the feudatories under the Pallavas, active in Thiruvorriyur region and Pudukkottai regions as seen by the presence of Videlvidugu Ilangovelan. Naturally the impact of the Pallava art was felt at the Irukkuvel court as well. Till the rise of Aditya in the Tanjore region, the area was under the control of the Pallavas and the art form that flourished there was essentially the Pallava school, of the late 9th cent. A.D. from which the art of the region flowered. The temples built by the chieftains bear late Pallava mark. It is in this context, that the resemblance between the Thiruttani, Takkolam and other decidedly later Pallava temples of the age of Aparajita and the early Aditya temples should be viewed. They certainly represent a transitional phase. The present Aparajita's copper plate charter not only removes the confusion in the latter Pallava history but also in the transitional art.
1. Velanjeri Plates: R. Nagaswamy, The Hindu Dated 11-12-1977. 2. S. I. I. XII No. 95. 3. Vijayanagara inscription at Thiruttani, newly copied by the Tamilnad State Archaeology Department. 4. E. I. VII P. 196; also T. V. Mahalingam, Kanchipuram in Early South Indian History, p. 221. 5. E. I. XVIII, P. 5-15; T. N. Subramaniam, Thirty Pallava Copper Plates (Tamil) 1968 pp. 263-276, 6. Dr. N. Ramesan, "Studies in Mediaeval Deccan History", p. 71. 7. E. I. VII, P. 196. 8. K. A. Nilakanta Sastri, History of South India, p. 160. 9. T. V. Mahalingam, Kanchipuram in Early South Indian History, p. 211 10. Ibid. 11. Epi. Indica XVIII. . 5 to 15. 12. Dr. N. Ramesan, Studies in Mediaeval Deccan History, p. 2 to 76. 13. Dr. R. Nagaswamy, Studies in Ancient Tamil Law and Society, p. 36. 14. Dr. R. Ramesan, Studies in Mediaeval Deccan History, p. 73. 15. Epi. Indica XVIII, p. 5-15. 16. Chola adversary Aparajita - Note. 17. Udayendram plates of Hastimalla, S.I.I. vol. II, No.76. 18. 167 of 1894; EI, III, p. 277 ff. 19. S.I.I. Vol. V. No. 368; E. I. XIX p. 85. 20. S.I.I. XII No. 95. 21. T. V. Mahalingam - Kanchipuram in Early South Indian History-p. 214-220. 22. I.P.S. No. 17. 23. T. N. Subrahmaniam, Thirty Pallava copper plates. 24. Pudukottai Inscription, No. 13. 25. S.I.I. XII No. 103. 26. Dr. N. Ramesan, Studies in Mediaeval Deccan History, p. 25. 27. Epi. Indica XVIII, p. 11. 28. Dr. N. Ramesan, Studies in Mediaeval Deccan History, p. 25. 29. I.P.S. No. 17. 30. S.I.I. XII No. 44. 31. Dr. N. Ramesan, Ibid, p. 29. 32. Dr. N. Ramesan, Ibid-p. 29. 33. Dr. N. Ramesan, Ibid, p. 29. 34. S.I.I. XII No. 66. 35. S.I.I. XII No. 75. 36. S.I.I. XII No. 103. 37. I.P.S. No. 45, S.I.I. Vol. XIX, No. 155. 38. I.P.S. No. 17. 39. S.I.I.XII No. 560. 40. I.P.S. No. 14. 41. S. R. Balasubramaniam, Mediaeval Chola temples, p. 108 to 130. 42. Epigraphia India XXXII No. 10. 43. S.I.I. VII, No. 568 ARE. 258 1908; S.I.I. VIII, No. 208. 44. S.I.I. XIII, No. 240 III 113. 45. S. R. Balasubramaniam, Early Chola temples, p. 131. 46. S. R. Balasubramaniam, Early Chola temples, p. 130. 47. S.I.I. XII No. 63. 48. Kudimiyamalai Record of Sembiyan Irukkuvel, S.I.I. vol. XIX, No. 155. 49. S.I.I. XIII No. 240 and 113 S.I.I. III. 50. S. R. Balasubramaniam, Early Chola temples, p. 124. 51. Dr. R. Nagaswamy, Pallava Pandya Art Links-South Indian Studies pages 162-165. 52. K. A. Nilakanta Sastri, Journal of Oriental Research, p.1-10. 53. Sinnamanur Copper plates, S.I.I. Vol. III, part IV, No. 206. 54. I.P.S. No. 33. 55. I.P.S. No. 13.
VELANCHERI PLATES OF PARANTAKA CHOLA I
Parantaka's charter, consists of five plates fastened to a ring and seal. The plates measure 22 cm. in length, 6.5 c.m. in breadth and 3 m.m. in thickness. The charter is engraved on both the sides of all the copper plates. The ring and seal are intact. The lertters are fairly well preserved.
The seal, fairly well preserved and measuring 7.5 c.m. in diameter is fastened to a ring 15.0 c.m. in diameter. On the face of the seal is found the chola emblem, viz. two fish and a seated tiger placed on a bow flanked by two lamp stands and topped by a parasol and two chauris. Running around the emblem is an inscription in grantha characters recording that it is a charter of Parakesarivarman. The inscription is fully preserved. The emblem and the letters are embossed from a mould and are not chisselled. The inscription on the seal reads:-
Svasti Sri Srimat chandra nyuteneva Chola vamsa sikhamaneh Sasanam Chola bhubartuh Parakesarivarmanah.
The grant is in two parts, the first part is in Sanskrit, written in grantha characters and the second part is in Tamil, in Tamil characters. Both the parts refer to the gift of villages made by Parantaka chola, the Sanskrit part being brief and the Tamil part giving detailed descriptions of the lands, taxes exempted etc. However it is in the Sanskrit portion the geneology of the grantor is given, which is of great interest for reconstructing history. Like all other copper plates of the period, the sanskrit portion is in poetry and prose. However the sanskrit portion lacks the poetic embellishments found in Aparajita's charter. The Sanskrit part consists of 17 verses followed by a prose.
Parantaka's plate is dated in his 25th regnal year, 932 A.D. It gives the names of the progenitors of the Chola line beginning with Vishnu, followed by Brahma, Marichi, Kasyapa, Surya and Usinara. Karikala, Sibi and Koccengannan receive special attention. The tale of Sibi is often repeated in all the Chola records and literature. This record says that Lord Agni took the form of a vulture and came chasing the dove. With a view to save the suffering and life of the dove, Sibi gave his own flesh and rescued the dove from torture.
Three important events in the life of Karikala are mentioned. (1) He caused the crest of the Cholas marked on the slopes of Himalayas. (2) He raised embankments on either side of river Kaveri and controlled its flood and (3) he made Kanchi a city of palaces.
Parantaka Chola's Udayendram plates(1) mention only the name of Karikala without referring to his exploits. Hence this is perhaps the earliest Chola record to refer to the exploits of Karikala. The two points of historic interest are the raising of embankments on either side of river Kaveri; and his conquest upto Kanchi. Regarding the later event, Prof. Sastri has the following to say(2) 'His conquest of Tondaimandalam and settlement of agrarian colonies there, are other elements in the Karikala legends, that can find no support from the earliest authorities on his reign. It would seem that Tondainadu was ruled by Tondaiman Ilamtiraiyan in the days of Karikala and there is no satisfactory evidence in support of the suggestion that has been made that this chieftain was the grandson of Karikala or atleast a viceroy appointed by him after his conquest of Kanchi'.
The above views of Sastri need modification in the light of the present grant. This seems to suggest that Karikala's power extended upto Kanchi and that Karikala fortified the city and built great palaces. According to literary sources Karikala's son is said to have married a Naga princess and the child born to them was called Tiraiyan. The word Tiraiyan is derived from the legend that he was wafted on the shore by the waves of the sea (tirai-i.e.-wave). Interestingly an eighth century Pallava copper plate seems to lend support to this legend. The Kasakkudi plate(3) referring to the lake (now called Tenneri) Triayaneri calls it in the sanskrit portion as Tira-laya-tataka. Tira-laya (wafted on the shore) appears as the Sanskrit equivalent of Tiraiyan. This legend seems to have been popular long before 8th century., the date of the Kasakkudi plates. Karikala's conquest of Kanchi as suggested by the present copper plate of Parantaka shows that it was a historical fact and that Tiraiyan was in some way connected with Karikala.
The legend of Koccengannan, being a spider in his earlier birth and on account of weaving a web over the linga, is referred to in saint Appar's Devaram in 7th Century A.D. The story of Kaccengannan being a spider and blessed by Siva, taking birth in the line of Cholas is mentioned in this grant. It seems to be almost a translation of what Saint Appar says in his Devaram.
A point of interest is the number of battles won by Koccengannan, mentioned by Thirumangai Alvar.(4) In the Thirunaraiyur Padigam (sacred hymns on the Lord of Thirunaraiyur), Thirumangai Alvar, calls him Sembiyan Koccengannan Koccolan, Ten nadan (Lord of the Southern country is Pandya), Kudakongan Ponninadan, Ten Tamilan, Vadapulakkon etc. Among the battles, Venni figures prominently, but his opponents at Venni are not mentioned. One Vilandavel is mentioned as an enemy defeated by him. Alundai, probably identical with Teralundur near Mayuram is also mentioned as a battlefield where he distinquished himself. Thirumangai also refers to the construction of seventy madakkoil to 'Entol Isar' generally identified with Siva. There are also others who consider this as a reference to ashta bujakara Vishnu. At any rate he seems to have been a great devotee of both Siva and Vishnu. While such great victories are mentioned by Thirumangai, a saint of eighth century A.D., no other record speaks of his conquests. Even this plate of Parantaka refers only to the spider story of Koccengannan. (Parantaka was not a religious fanatic. In this very copper plate his benefactions to Srirangam and Kanyakumari are mentioned). That this plate also refers to Koccengannan as a Sivabhakta and is silent abut this Vishnu bhakti would indicate that Thirumangai's reference to his construction of seventy mada temple to Entol Isar, seems to refer to Siva temples.
Orriyuran, the father of Vijayalaya
The charter refers to one Orriyuran born in that family. The inscription places Orriyuran immediately after Koccengannan.(5) The name Orriyuran is significant. Orriyur is the name of a sacred Saivite village near Madras and obviously the name Orriyuran is derived from this village. In the time of the early Cholas, a number of chieftains like the Irukkuvel and Ilangovel are seen bearing this name.(6) Obviusly these names were after this Chola who figures as the father of Vijayalaya in this record. Incidently this is the first time we get the name of the father of Vijayalaya as Orriyuran. The name of Vijayalaya is not specifically mentioned in this record but it says that the son of Orriyuran was a great fighter, the fire to the forest of enemy rulers. His son is mentioned as Aditya.
The record does not mention either the battles or conquests of Vijayalaya and Aditya.
Aditya's son is referred to as Parantaka. This charter is silent even about Parantaka's conquest though it was issued in the 25th year when he had made major conquests over Madurai and Lanka and assumed the title, 'Maduraiyum Ilamum Konda'.(7) His Udayendram plate issued a few years earlier refers to these conquests but yet they are not mentioned in this record. On the other hand this record refers to the performance of Tulabhara ceremonies in Ramesvaram Kanyakumari and Srirangam by Parantaka. This is new information furnished by this grant. It is known from other grants and ulas, that Parantaka covered the golden hall of Chidambaram with gold. The omission of reference to these events means nothing.
It is difficult to say whether Parantaka gilded Chidambaram temple with gold after his 25th year or earlier.
The earliest chola copper plate
All eminent scholars have taken the Anbil plates of Sundara Chola, as the earliest copper plate charter of the Chola dynasty.(8) This view is not correct. The Udayendram plates, referring to Prithvipati II Hastimala edited by Hultsch in S.I.I. II Pt. III was wrongly labelled as 'Udayendram plates of Prithvipati'. The plate was issued by Parantaka in his 15th regnal year. In both the Sanskrit and Tamil portion the donor is Parantaka Chola, Prithvipati clearly figuring as Vijnapti. And this seems to have escaped the attention of the scholars eversince Hultsch made the suggestion in 1896. The plate should be properly labelled 'Udayendram plates of Parantaka' and is the earliest plate known of the Chola line.
The information furnished in the Udayendram plates, taken in the light of Velancheri plates of Aparajita seems to throw more light on the Pallava-Chola transitional period. The Karandai plates of Rajendra,(9) states that Parantaka defeated a Pallava. Who is this Pallava? It seems to us that it was Nrpatunga. It is known that Aditya had besides Parantaka, another son Kannaradeva, through a Rashtrakuta princess. Prof. K. A N. Sastri states that Parantaka has to deal with this rival claim to the throne and that Rashtrakuta Krishna, invaded the Chola country to secure the throne for his grandson Kannara and that Parantaka repelled the invasion.(9) We have seen Nrpatunga was born of a Rashtrakuta princess and had the backing of Rashtrakutas. The Banas, as seen from the Chirrur and Bahur plates, were the allies of Nrpatunga. It is also seen that the Ganga rulers were the allies of Aparajita opposing the Banas. It is also seen from the Udayendram plates the Banas were uprooted by Parantaka and the country made over to Ganga Prithvipathi on whom the title Banadhiraja was confered. Obviously the Pallava adversary of Parantaka in all probability was Nrpatunga. The 41st year record of Nrpatunga coming from Madavalam near Thiruttani(10) seems to be the last of his record which according to the date of his accession held by us, falls in the initial year of Parantaka. Prof. Sastri considers the Bana adversaries of Parantaka as Vikramaditya II and Vijayaditya III(1)
The plate records the gift of three villages, Talaivedu, Mayangaru, and Kilagal as Brahmadeya gift to the Brahmins well versed in vedas and vedangas including the Sahasra sakha of Samaveda, residing at the village Melirunceru. The gift was made by Parantaka, at the request of one Brahmavanvadhiraja. The grant record that the King gifted the villages with great faith and devotion by pouring water from a golden pitcher. The grant also records the boundaries of the villages gifted, the taxes exempted and the rights and previleges attached to the same. The villages mentioned as boundaries include Pundi, Nenmali, Arungalam, Melirunceru, Padpakkam, Nedungunram, Mudippali, Mathura, Ulanjur and Nallarrur, all situated near Thiruttani.
The territorial division mentioned include Kunravardhanakottam, Naduvinmalai Illatturnadu and Thiruttaniyal nadu.
The three villages gifted were clubbed with the Melirunceru village and were directed to pay 3000 Kadi of paddy and nine Kalanju of gold. The three thousand Kadi of paddy mentioned as Pancavara is probably to measure five times a year. It seems that each village was expected to pay 1000 kady of paddy per annum. Aparajita's plate also refers to 1000 kady of paddy as Pancavara.
The Tamil portion of the copper plate charter begins with the word Konerinmaikondan. Several hundred inscriptions of 10th to 14th cent. A.D. begin with this term Knerinmaikondan, which literally means 'an unparalleled king'. This charter shows that the usage 'Konerinmaikondan' has come into vogue even in the early years of Parantaka's rule. Secondly the term is always used in a technical sense. When a king makes a gift himself the epigraph begins with the word Konerinmaikondan. Whenever an epigraph begins with the word Konerinmaikondan it invariably means, that the epigraph relates to a gift by the ruler himself. This charter shows that this custom has come into use from the beginning of 10th cent. This usage seems to be an innovation of the early chola period.
The Composer and Engraver
The last portion of the charter in Sanskrit has three verses, in some what damaged condition. The first verse mentions the name of the composer as Rutsa, a poet. The second verse refers to Parantaka as Virachola and records the usual appeal by the donor to the later rulers to protect the gift. The third verse gives the name of the engraver of the grant as Virachola Mahataksha, an eminent artist, well versed in the science of Visvakarma. That the royal scribe received the title of his emperor Virachola is note worthy.
1. S.I.I. Vol. II No. 76. 2. The Cholas K. A. Nilakianta Sastri, Madras 1955 p. 36. 3. S.I.I. Vol. II, part III. 4. Thirumangi Alwar, Naraiyur Padigam. 5. Dr. R. Nagaswamy, on Thiruttani, The Hindu, 11-12-77, Since Orriyuran is mentioned immediately after Koccengannan, I first took the word sa eva and took Orriyuran to be the son of Koccengannan. But on other consideration I think it is possible that they were separated by some centuries. 6. Early Chola Art, S. R. Balasubramaniam. 7. The Cholas, K. A. Nilakanta Sastri, p. 122. 8. Ibid. p. 157. 9. Ibid. p. 120. 10. A.R.E. 138 of 1943-44. 11. S. R. Balasubramaniam, Early Chola temples, p. 126.
There are four temples in Thiruttani village, viz., (1) The Subrahmanya temple, on top of the hill. (2) The Arumugaswamy temple at the foot of the hill. (3) The Virattanesvara temple built by Nambi Appi in the reign of Aparajita and (4) The Vijayaraghavapperumal temple.
Inscriptions have been copied from all the temples, by the Government Epigraphist for India in the year 1905. The earliest inscription in the village is that of Aparajita dated in his 18th regnal year, found in the Virattana temple. The Chola king, Madurai konda Parakesari, Parantaka I, is the next ruler to be represented. Rajaraja, Rajendra I, Rajadhiraja I, and Vikrama Chola are other Chola kings represented in inscriptions. The important Vijayanagar epigraphs are dated in the reign of Krishnadevaraya and Sadasiva.
In the 18th year of Pallava Aparajita, Nambi Appi built this temple and gifted 1000 Kuli of lands.(1) The Government Epigraphical report for the year 1905, records four inscriptions from the Virattana temple. In the 18th regnal year of Aparajita, Nambi Appi the builder of the temple, bought 1000 kuli of land from the villagers, and endowed it to the temple and paid in the hands of the village assembly necessary amount towards taxes to be lived from the land. The village assembly in its turn gave a perpetual exemption of taxes for the land. The Dharmis of the village agreed to administer the endowment. It was stipulated that from the proceeds of the land, worship should be performed twice a day in the temple and that four measures of rice shuld be mesaured for two food offerings and oil for lamps to be burned on the two sandhis. It is interesting to note from this record that there was a group of members in the village, called Urdharmis (Executors of village endowments). The dharmis probably worked as a limb of the village assembly. The dharmis of this village agreed to pay a fine of a quarter pon, in case they failed to maintain in the endowment. The end passage of the record seems to suggest that the members of the village assembly of Thiruttani were themselves the Dharmins.
The fact that provisions were made for worship by Nambi Appi, the builder, in the 18th year of the reign of Aparajita, shows that the temple has come into existence by that year. The record that refers to the construction of the temple by Nambi Appi, which is in verse form, seems to have been engraved as the same time as the previous record,that mentions the gift of land for worship. The verse is said to have been composed by Perumanadigal, identified with the ruler Aparajita. It shows the personel interest evinced by the emperor in the temple. The builder, Nambi Appi is praised as a scholar in all the arts. The term Nambi, seems to indicate that he was a priest, probably of the Saiva faith. The temple is said to have been built of black granite, and is named a stone temple.
The Virattana temple continued to be of considerable importance till about 1130 A.D. Early in the reign of Rajaraja I (900 A.D.) the annual committee of the village assembly of Thiruttani village agreed to supervise the provision of a lamp for which an endowment was made(2). Towards the end of Raja Raja's reign in 1010 A. D., an individual bought and endowed a land for feeding pilgrims going to and returning from Srivenkatam.(3) Another inscription from the same temple also records the gift of land for feeding pilgrims going to and returning from, Venkatam. It shows the place occupied by Thiruvenkatam in the 10th century and the importance of Thiruttani on the route. Three inscriptions of Rajendra I are found in the temeple referring to some transactions. The temple was continued to be called Virattanam. There is a reference to Siruvellur (modern Thiruvellore, half way between Madras and Thiruttani) as being situated in Tenkarai Ilayurnadu, a distsrict of Vesalippadi (modern Vysaarpadi near Madras)(4) Another inscription, in the same temple, the date of which is not available, refers to a gift of lamp to the temple of Lord Subrahmanya on top of the hill.
This lovely little apsidal temple has evoked considerable interest among scholars, as a land mark in the history of later Pallava temples.
As mentioned earlier the Subrahmanya temple was in existence, before the 9th year of Aparajita. Only one inscription has been copied by the Government Epigraphist from this temple in the year 1905.(5)
The relevant report reads "On a stone set up close to the garbhagraha of the subrahmanya temple in the same village. A record in the thirty second year of the Chola king Maduraikonda Parakesari (Parantaka); built in at the bottam; records gift of land apparently by a certain Parakesari Muttaraiyan to the temple of Subrahmanya Pillayar who was pleased to stand on the hill at Thiruttaniyal near Aguvur, the eastern hamlet of Perumkanchi in Ogavalanadu, a district of Malur kottam, which formed part of Jayamkondachola mandalam. The characters of the inscription are comparatively modern."
Obviusly this inscription was in full when the Government Epigraphist copied it in he year 1905. But this has since been removed during renovations and was noticed by me in a mutilated form in two parts.
There is some confusion in the ARE report. It may be seen that Tondaimandalam is refered to as Jayamkonda cholamandalam, a name given to it only in the reign of Raja Raja I, and the inscription could not belong to the time of Parantaka, as reported. The inscription does not begin with the title Madurai konda Ko Parakesari but simply as Parakesari and is a record of Rajendra I. That in the reign of Rajendra this temple continued to attract attention is attested.
Secondly a Muttaraiya Chief Parakesari Muttaraiya endowed land is of vital interest. We have shown the close connection of the Muttaraiya family of this region with the Tanjore-Pudukottai region even in the reign of Nrpatunga. Mention has been made that the 8th century Pallava Subrahmanya image, made of stone, is now in the Prakara and not in the sanctum.
Three Epigraphs have been noticed by Tamilnad Archaeology Department on the walls of the sanctum and two of them are dated in the reign of Vijayanagara Emperor, Krishnadevaraya of 16th cent. CE.
The first record dated in the reign of Saluva Krishnadevamaharaya in the year saka 1433 (1511 CE.) equal unto the year Prajapati, refers to the endowment of money to Lord Subrahmanya, by a certain Appuvi Paikungeyyan, of Manimangalam, who was an accountant at Thiruttani. The Tamil equivalent day of the grant is Tai-pusa, in the year Prajapati. Lord Subrahmanya is refered to as Sengalunirp pillaiyar pleased to stand on Thiruttani hill.
From the above inscriptions two points of interest are noticed. The name of Lord Subrahmanya, which was known as Subrahmanya or Shanmuga in the nineth, 10th and 11th centuries and probably later as well, was called Sengalunir Pillaiyar in the 16th century in the time of Krishnadevaraya.
It is of interest to mention that the celebrated poet of 14th century Arunagirinathar, who has composed several thousand poems, called Thiruppugazh on Lord Muruga refers to Subrahmanya as Sengamala Pillaiyar.
The second point of interest is that even today the Tai-pusam is a celebrated festival to Lord Subrahmanya and the gift was made on such a day. The endowment consisted of 100 panams, the interest accruing from that has to be utilised for food offerings, lamp etc., Nearly three years later, in the reign of the same ruler, Krishnadevaraya, a similar endowment was made probably by the same person.
The third inscription also on the wall of the main shrine, refers to some gifts in the year 1760 A.D. (the saka year and the Angirasa year mentioned in the epigraph do not tally). Thiruttani is said to be in Narayanap-parru in the sub-division Kunravardhana kottam of Jayamkonda chola mandalam.
The present main shrine of the Subrahmanya temple of Thiruttani, was rebuilt in the reign of Krishnadevaraya, when the Pallava subrahmanya image was replaced by the present one. The bronze images of Shanmugaswamy and others in the temple are of the age of Krishnadevaraya, 16th century A.D.
There is another Subrahmanya temple at the foot of the hill now called Arumukaswami temple. Three inscriptions have been copied from this temple. The earliest is dated in the reign of Parantaka I (Madurai konda Parakesari). But it is not in its original position and probably belongs to the other temple. A damaged record belonging to the reign of Vira Kampana, the Vijayanagara ruler is dated 1365 CE. It is possible that this temple came into existence during this period. The prakara around the temple was built by a Vellanadu chola feudatory Thiruvengadanatha deva chola Maharaja, who is styled a Mahamandaleswara.(6)
The present Vijayaraghava temple in the village, seems to have been rebuilt in the early Vijayanagar period in 14th century, but was under worship even in the early 10th century A.D. A land was gifted to the temple by the village assembly of Thiruttani, in the 34th year of Parantaka Chola I, 940 A.D. An inscription of Parantaka giving this detail is now in the temple. It refers to the temple as Thiruvanantapuram.(7)
There are two inscriptions of Rajendra Chola I. One is a fragment, containing the beginning of Rajendra's prasasti. The second records a sale of land to the temple called Thiruvanandapuram, by the assembly of Jananatha-caturvedimangalam in Menmalai Taniyalnadu. It refers to the king as Parakesari Udaiyar Rajendra chola deva. The epigraph shows the flourishing condition of the Vishnu temple in the 11th century A.D.
Another point of interest is the name Jananatha-caturvedi mangalam. Jananatha is the title of Rajaraja I. It is evident that a part of Thiruttani was renamed Jananatha-caturvedimangalam by Rajaraja I and shows royal chola interest in the village.(8) An inscription of Rajadhiraja I, giving the introductory part is also found.
An interesting epigraph in Telugu script but in sanskrit language, refers to the building (rather rebuilding) of the temple by certain Narayanaraja, said to be fourth in discent from Karikala Chola.(9) Ramaraja Chinna Timmayyadeva Maharaya gifted the village Thiruttani in 1550 A.D. in the reign of Sadasivaraya,.(10) Another inscription of Sadasivaraya giving only his pedigree is also found.
Thiruttani came into prominence in the reign of Aparajita Pallava in late 9th century A.D. with the ruler himself evincing personal devotion to Lord Subrahmanya, and also the newly built Virattana Siva temple. The nearby Melirunceru (now called Velanjeri) was a great Brahmin settlement, Mahagrahara wherein lived several vedic families. Parantaka chola contributed considerably by his gift to the villagers of Melirunceru and endowments to the various temples of Thiruttani. We have seen that in the reign of Rajaraja I, the greatest of the chola emperors , the village assumed greater significance. A part of Thiruttani was renamed after one of Rajaraja's title. The later Pandyas have not contributed anything to the village, but soon in the reign of Vijayanagar ruler, Krishnadevaraya the village assumed significance and pre-eminence. The greatest poet of 17th century A.D., Kacciyappa Sivacharya, was born here and has a lovely poem on Thiuttani. In 20th century one of India's greatest thinkers Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan was born in Melirunceru. (modern Velanjeri) The Subrahmanya temple on top of the hill attracts the largest number of pilgrims in Tondaimandalam region, and is one of the most flourishing temple. For the art connoisseurs, the Virrattana temple is still an important land mark.
1. ARE 433 and 435 OF 1905 2. ARE 432 of 1905 3. ARE 430 of 1905 4. ARE 438 of 1904 5. ARE 439 of 1905 6. ARE 432 of 1905 7. ARE 449 of 1905 8. ARE 445 of 1905 9. ARE 447 to 1905 10. ARE 443 of 1905
VALENJERI PLATES OF APARAJITA TRANSLATION
Let Janardana, who is ever united with Sri, wields resplendent conch and discus, wears a coral garland, dark in colour like the one which came forth when the gods and demons churned the ocean, and who entered another ocean, protect us.
Let Siva who bore the tremendous sound arising from the stream of water, and the breeze emanating from the foremost lotus flowers and setting out, spreads the divine waters from the forest of matted locks, protect us.
Brahma was born of the naval of Madhava. From Brahma came Angiras and from Angiras was born Vagisa (Brahaspati). Samyu came from Brahaspati and from him Saumya (Bharadvaja) Bharadvaja's son was Drona, the very abode of unequalled tapas. Asvathama became the son of Drona and from him came Pallava, adored by all rulers.
From Pallava, a true consort of kingship, Devaraja in prosperity, a ruler of exalted glory, came this ruling clan into the world.
Let this Pallava family of unending noble qualities, the mighty and the one that has obtained supremacy, a luminary among the good kingly group, the foremost; and the one that remaining high, keeps all the other kings far below just as the sky remaining high keeps the lofty peaks below, protect this world till the very end of the Yuga.
Kampavarma of splendid glory was born in this family, after monarchs like Asokavarma and others attained heaven, having ruled the whole earth justly.
He conquered the mighty Pallava Nrpatunga in battle, and forcibly seized his country that has the ocean as its girdle, along with glory.
Just like Uma to Rudra and Rama to Vishnu, Vijaya of matchless virtues, and born of the pure and Ganga family, became the queen of Kampavarma as if competing with his conquests and wealth.
Just as Guha was born of Lord Paramesvara, the destroyer of enemies'cities and lover of the Bull, Aparajita, a possessor of varied wealth and beauty, was born as her first child.
Even as a boy, Aparajita destroyed the elephants of the Bana ruler in no time, inflicting wounds with the ankusa. He razed to the ground Karanai encircled by turrets, the city of the Pandya ruler, who was a dauhitra (the grandson through a daughter, probably of the Bana) and conquered the Chola king at the great battle of Chirrarrur with the help of elephants.
Though glory of Aparajita, who made the fame of earth appropriate and who equalled the valour of Rama in battles, turned the world into white colour (by his victories), it darneked the fame of his enemy.
His opponents, driven out of their territories, enter, as if entering their own palace, the forests which are the most eminently suited abodes for them. The forests are filled to the very end with leaves and birds, full of Sala trees and abounding in wolves and hyenas, with varieties of descending shoots, and looking as if anointed with the canopy of bounteous openings.
(The verse uses words with double meaning. The description of the forest resembles the description of the beautiful mansion full of salas, turrets, different wings, varied staircases and beautiful with canopies and trellis work.)
The wealth and pleasure that flowed into him from various quarters, the uninterupted prosperity, the splendid glory he attained, and the firm convictions he acquired, together with his opponent rulers served him as his attendents.
Protecting the whole world with his Indra-like rule, and capturing the sovereignity of his opponent rulers, he resembled Upendra. He is really the Purushottama.
His lotus feet were spreading fragrance by the varied, fully blown and sweet smelling flowers, offered continuously with presents of treasure, poured by the kings who were constantly bowing down before him.
He was resplendent sun to the sky of the Kalabhra Kula.
Like the terrible wind that uproots all earthly things, with its own might, he upprooted by his own valour all the other royal families.
In his conduct he surpassed the greatness of Yadu, Raghu, Sagara, Nrga, Nimi, Kuru, Bharata Mala, Nala, Nahusha, Janaka, Sibi, Kusaka, Dasaratha, Prithu and Prithula.
Like Rama, who destroyed the demon Khara and Dhushana in Janasthana, he destroyed the burden of tax and hardship of his country (Janasthana).
He Aparajita Pottavarma, the king among kings, the supreme Lord, and Deva, during his ninth auspicious regnal year, made a gift of the village Pudur in the sub-division of Taniyal rashtra, falling under Kunravartana Kotta;
After demacrating the boundaries by means of carrying a flag and marching the elephant around;
And registering all the boundaries and bestowing all exemptions, changing the old cultivators, and exempting various royal taxes on gold, trees and fields.
Aparajita ordered that one thousand Kadi of paddy be measured annually to Lord Mahesvara's son, Shanmukha, who is pleasted to stand for ever, on the hill, of the great agrahara, Srimat Taniyal mentioned above and
That the said village be combined with the great agrahara known to the world as Melirunceru falling with the sub-division Antah Kotta (naduvil kottam) gifted to the residents of that agrahara, who are foremost among the learned people and scholars eminent in the Vedas and Vedangas.
The gift was made by the king with intense devotion by pouring water from golden vessel with his own hand.
Year 3 and day 2103 rd
The royal order. We order at the request of Vamanayya, that the village Pudur in Thiruttaniyal Nadu be added to the village Melirunceru and gifted to the sabha of Melirunceru. Brahmadhiraja is the executor. The village should measure one thousand Kadi of paddy as pancavara till the sun and the moon endure to Lord Subramanya, who is pleased to stand on Thiruthani, in the territorial division Menmalai Thaniyal, in the sub-division of Kunravardhana Kottam. The previous holders of the village are now changed.
The Nattars should demarcate the boundaries by planting stones and Kalli plants after going round the boundaries with pataka and issue the araiyolai (donative charter).
On receipt of this order, the Nattars, adoring the order and bearing it on their head, fixed the boundaries by setting up stones and planting Kalli and issuing the grant.
The boundaries of land thus gifted are;
The eastern boundary is to the west of the boundary of Melirunceru.
The southern boundary is to the north of the boundary of Thiruttani.
The western boundary is to the east of the boundaries of Thiruttaniyal, Oviyur, and Iruganur.
And the northern boundary is to the south of the boundaries of Ponpatinadu and Melirunceru.
The land situated within these four boundaries inclusive of water land, dty lands, the village settlement, the village assembly area, the grazing ground, the groves, the tanks, wells, terris, and the like gifted as Devadana Brahmadeya to the village assembly of Melirunjeru.
The exemptions granted to this gift are:-
Tax on Paddy Udupokku Tax on gold Pida Nali Urkalanju Taraku Urpankadi Tari Nalla Ilapputchi Nallerudu Idaiputchi and Nadatchi Tattukkay
These and other taxes which are due to the king should not be levied from the village.
Permission is granted to construct storeyed buildings with burnt bricks in this village.
Permission is granted for rearing coconut groves.
Flower gardens with Iruveli and Damanaka or any other flower can be grown.
The village could raise embankments to the lake and utilise the water For irrigation.
The village is permitted to dig irrigation canal from the river and use its water.
Inhabitants of other villages are prohibited from using the water from this village. They are also not permitted to irrigate with baskets or picotah.
The assembly members of Melirunceru village, who are learned and pious Brahmins will add this village, Pudur to their own, with the tax exemptions specified above and measure one thousand Kadi of Paddy as Pancavara annually, to Lord Subrahmanya on the hill of Thiruttani and enjoy the rest of the produce.
The Brahmin Vamana, who has studied the three Vedas, owner of prosperity, donor, compassionate, learned in all sciences, and dear to the ruler, was the requester (Vijnapti.)
Brahmadhiraja, who was crowned with a tiara, by this King confering chieftainship over Brahmins, and one of devoted prosperity, learned in Vedas and Sastras, and intelligent was the executor (Ajnapti) of this grant.
Sri Kumara, the foremost among the learned, was born of Kesava, the Brahmin of the Kasyapa family, like Subrahmanya was born of Siva.
He set aside the eloquence of his rivals and was the composer of Mahakavyas. Mahadeva, his son was the composer of this prasasti.
Vijayanna, the foremost among the Silpins, holding the fortune born out of grace of the king, who was born in the City of Kanchi, a connosseur of art, and the well known, inscribed this prasasti.
Podini Mahadevabhatta, of Pravacana Sutra, and Kasyapagotra, who composed thisprasasti got one patti of wet land.
Vijayanna, who inscribed this prasasti got one patti of wet land.
Videlvidugu Perum-kannan (the metal smith) the son of Pattai Nagan, who embossed the seal got one share.
The royal proclamation of Aparajita, the moon of the Pallava dynasty, declared over the row of heads of kings.
VELANJERI PLATES OF PARANTAKA TRANSLATION
1. Let the lotus feet of Murari, which are pleasing by the radiance caused by the red, water-bearing clouds; which are filled with garlands and caressed by the flowers on the head of ---, which are ever rose in colour by the lotus-like arm of Lakshmi, increase our prosperity and happiness.
2. Let the Rudras with their great bodies radiating like the golden coloured clouds; bearing on their left halves pleasing and big female breasts; letting out from the roots of their braided hairs, pure waves of clear water; wearing crescent like ear ornaments; their necks shining with darkness; their bracelets shining with snakes and their foreheads smiling with ashes, bestow prosperity on us.
3. Let this dynasty of Cholendras which planted its lotus feet on the crowns of all the kings, which proclaimed by their swords, the expansion of the foreheads of sovereigns of the entire universe encompassing the seven seas, protect all the world.
4. From the tender lotus, issuing from the naval of Murari, emanated Brahma. Though he was humiliated in a moment by the light that surpassed the soft braided hair, Marichi was born of him.
5. Kasyapa was born of Marichi and from him came Surya (avicharya marga) who adorns the entire world with his pure associates.
6. After many rulers having enjoyed the world attained godhead,was born in that famous family, the great Lord Usinara by name.
7. The king, the ornament of the family, who gave away immediately his own flesh when approached by Lord Agni in the guise of a vulture, and relieved the dove from torture and suffering, was born as Sibi.
8. In that family took place the birth of Karikala Cholendra whose orders made the slopes of Himalayas, the abode of Kubera (the Lord of riches); following whose orders the water-course of the river Kaveri, was controlled by the embankments on either side and whose orders made the city of Kanchi full of palacas reaching the clouds.
9. A spider made a very small, thin and beautiful prapa (protection) for Siva by a web of threads, issuing from its mouth. When Lord Hara was pleased at that, it was born as Kochengannan in that royal family.
10. Orriyura known for his marvellous valour was born. His son was a veritable fire to the forest of enemy kings.
11. Aditya equal in splendour to Kubera, was born of him. He shone as a moon to the lotus like faces of enemy queens.
12. Just as the moon emanated from the milky ocean, as the waters of Ganga from the Himalayas, as the heat energy from the sun and as the trikuta from the great Meru, so also Parantaka was born of him.
13. The opponent kings considered him as the very death; the wise-men thought of him as Brahaspati; the beloveds considered him as the chintamani; the subjects held him as their parent; the good people thought of him as the treasure-house and the damsels held him as the very Lord of Love.
14. This ruler performed Tulabhara with gold acquired by his valour, at the beautiful Sriramathirtha, where the ablest of monkey flocks built the bridge; at the Kanyatirtha which subdued the southern quarters; and at Srirangam beautiful by the arecca groves, where Sri Vishnu reclines on his serpent couch.
15. Brahmavanavadhiraja, an abode of learning, wealth and fame, was the Vijnapti of this royal order.
16. Sarvadeva of Kilinallur, born of Vasitti family, learned and an ornament of his family was the Ajnapti of this order.
17. The honoured Ranasimha of astounding valour born of Srutarutaka family was the Ajnapti of this order.
That Parantaka whose lotus feet are adorned by all the rulers, gifted with faith and devotion, the three villages Talaivedu, Mayangaru and Kilagal in their entirety with three thousand Kadi of paddy and nine niskas (as tax) by pouring water from a golden pitcher to the Brahmins of Melirunceru village, who were great scholars in Vedas and Vedangas, including Samaveda with the three thousand sakhas.
The boundaries for the villages are:-
The eastern boundary lies to the west of the villages Pundi, Nenmali and Arungala.
The southern boundary lies to the north of Melirunjeru.
The western boundary lies to the east of Parpakka, Nedungunru, Mudippali and Mathura.
The northern boundary lies to the south of Ulaiyur and Nallarur.
The area situated within these four boundaries were gifted by the King Parantaka as mentioned earlier, to the Brahmin residents of Melirunceru as described earlier.
Twenty fifth regnal year /- 193rd day /- Konerinmai Kondan /-
The Nattar of Ilattur and the Nattar of Tiruttani in the subdivision of Naduvin-malai, belonging to the territorial division Kunravardhana Kottam will supervise and see that the three villages Kilagal, Mayangaru and Talaivedu, in their territorial division are united into one with the village Melirunceru and measure three thousand kadi of paddy as panca-vara, and nine kalanju of gold, annually, after changing the previous holders, till the sun and moon last. The grant was made at the request of Brahmavanvadhirajan. Two officials Sarvadeva of Kilinallur and Ranasimha were the executors. We order this gift as kani to the village assembly of Melirunceru.
The Nattar should demacrate the boundaries of Talaivedu, Mayangaru and Kilagal in their territory after going around with a flag (Patakai) and planting boundary stones and kalli plants and issue araiy-olai (donative charter).
On receipt of this order, the Nattar, paying obeissance to the order, and bearing it on their head, went round the boundaries, planted boundary stones and kalli plants and issued the charter.
The following are the boundaries of the land thus gifted.
To the west of the three villages Pundi, Nenmali and Arungalam which formed the eastern boundary. To the north of Melirunceru which formed the southern boundary. To the west of the four villages Parpakkam, Nedunguram, Mudipali and Mathira, which formed the eastern boundary. To the south of the two villages Ulaiyur and Nallaru which formed the Northern boundary.
The land situated within this four great boundaries inclusive of water, wetlands, drylands, village settlement, village meeting area, grazing ground, pits, wells, groves, canals, ant hills and mounds - in short the high and low lands, was gifted to the village sabha of Melirunceru as a Brahmadeya.
The exemptions granted to this gift are as follows:-
Tax on Paddy Udupokku Tax on gold Pidhanali Urkalanju Taraku Urpankadi Tari Nalla Ilapputchi Nallerudu Idaiputchi Nadatci Tattukkayam
these and other taxes to be paid to the king should not be levied from these villages.
Permission is granted for erecting storied buildings with burnt bricks.
Permission is granted for rearing coconut groves.
Permission is granted to cultivate all flowers including Iruveli and Damanaka.
Permission is granted to raise embankments and utilyse water from Lake.
Permission is granted to dig canal for irrigation from the river along the flow of water.
Outsiders are prohibited from digging sub-canals either from this or the main canal; they are also not permitted to irrigate with baskets or picotah.
With the above specified exemptions, the gift was made to the members of the village assembly of Melirunceru who are pious and noble Brahmins. The three villages were added to Melirunceru. They are directed to pay three thousand Kadi of paddy and nine Kalanju of gold annually and enjoy the rest of the produce.
This is a paradatta.
1. Damaged:- the readable part says:- This charter was composed by Rutsa by name.
2. Partially damaged:- King Virachola, with humility and devotion requests the succeeding rulers to protect his dharma.
3. Virachola, the great taksha and deeply learned in the science of Visvakarma, engraved the letters on this charter.
The royal order of the Chola ruler Parakesarivarman, the crest jewel of the Chola race, and majestic as the lustre of the moon.
The Origin of Rama Cult
Recently Suvira Jaiswal has made some sweeping statements about the origin of Rāma cult in her lecture at the Indian History congress at Kozhikode. As they are of great concern to Indian religious ethos they are examined here from the point of available historial data.
Jaiswal states that “the Rāma cult gradually emerged as a full fledged cult in the Drāviḍa (Tamil) country. The Vaishnava Ālvārs sang their favourite deities and associated them with existing temples and this gave scope for identifying various places as events associated with characters of Rāmāyana and celebrating the existing temples as that of Rāma.”
Any study of Ālvārs would show that the Ālvars based their devotion solely on the basis of Vedas, the two epics Ramayana and Mahabharata and the 18 mahapuranas without which Ālvārs’ Bhakti doesn’t exist. All these are clearly northern traditions that have become part and parcel of the Dravida country and there is no question of the cult emerging in the Dravida country. It only shows that by the time of the Ālvārs, Rama and characters of Ramayana have become so popular already by the time of the Ālvārs who sang them as their favourite deities. The view now expressed is self contradictory.
“Clear evidence of setting up of Rama shrines for the incarnation of Vishnu was available from the 10th cent on wards in the Chola and Pandya Kingdoms, which had been the locale of Ālvār activities which came to be incorporated into temples” The first four Ālvārs Poykaiyar, Peyar, Bhutattlvar, and Thirumalisai Ālvār hailed from northern part of Tamilnad in the Pallava territory and their work extended to the whole of Tamilnad from Venkatam, (the modern Thiruppati) in the north, to extreme South and other places. It is wrong to confine the works of the Ālvārs to the Chola and Pandya territory.
The view that Rama cult spread to north India from the South is not supported by what is available in hundreds of inscriptions, art pieces, history, literature and all available factual data not only in India but also in the whole of South East Asia.
Considerable number of Terracotta sealing have been found in northern India that date back from 2nd Cent BC. In the village of Sugh, State of Haryana, Yamunanagar District , a terracotta figurine of Rama assigned to 2nd cent BC has been reported by Prof. Devendra Handa. Ravana carrying Sita has been found in terracotta assigned to the same period in UP which is now housed in the Allahabad Museum. Hanuman has been found in Nagarjunakonda in Andhrapradesh. A number of Terracotta have been found at a place called Nacha khera depicting Ramayana scenes with the verses of Vālmiki Ramayana inscribed on them that are ascribed to the Gupta period, 4th cent. One such Terracotta is now in the Metropolitan Museum USA. A number of brick temples of the Gupta period 4-5th cent, all in North India carry series of Ramayana scenes as at Bhitragaon, Shravasti and others. In the last mentioned site a complete series of Ramayana showing the influence of the great epic on the life of the people is seen. The temple at Devgarh assigned to 5th cent, well known to Indologist all over the world carries a beautiful panel showing Ram and Lakshmana in stone that can be seen even to day. The presence of such overwhelming images, and artifacts found known to all scholars, attest to the fully developed Rama cult in Northern India unquestionably prior to the time of the Vaishnavite Ālvārs of Tamilnadu. Three terracotta images of Rāma, Lakshmana, and Hanumān assignable to the Gupta period 5th cent CE are illustrated here that would speak for themseves.
It is not only in India but through out South East Asian countires like Cambodia where the Ramayana of Valmiki was so popular long before the Ālvārs that the phrases of Vālmiki Ramayana are found in the earliest inscription found 5th cent in Cambodia which repeats the words “Tapas Svādhyāya nirata” . Also there are references in such early times the tradition of depositing the manuscripts of Rāmāyana and Mahabharata in the temples built in Cambodia in more than one inscriptions that accounts for the presence over several hundred local versions of Ramayana in the South East Asian Countries very much earlier than 10th cent. assigned by the writer mentioned above. Ramayana is a living faith through out south East Asia and is considered as much of theirs as that of Indians. It has been demonstrated with the help of Sculptures that the early depictions of Ramayana and Mahabharata in the south East is closer to the original authors of The epic Vyāsa and Vālmiki by scholars like Son soubert. A study of south Indian inscriptions would show that long before to the date quoted for the Pandya and Chola rulers (10th cent) cited by the above writer, the Pallavas of northern Tamil nadu were greatly inspired by the Ramayana cult. They assumed title like Abhirama, Sangramarama etc. The Pallava ruler Rajasimha, the author of Mamallapuram assumed several titles ending with Rama which are recorded in Kanchipram and Mamallapuram Inscriptions. Another curious argument the above writer has mentioned is that “the the Rama temples were called sacred Ayodhya would lend credence to the view that Ayodhya was only mythological and the present Ayodhya in north India is not the original Ayodhya”. Sacred is only an auspicious prefix and we have several royal copper plate charters of the Pallava kings of 4th cent onwards that call the city of Kanchipuram as Sacred Kanchi. It does not mean Kanchipuram is mythological and not real. There are thousands of villages and Towns in Tamilnadu which prefix the term sacred to their names like Thiru-arangam, Tiru-alavay, Thiruk-koyilur, Thiru-allikkeni, Thiru-mayilapore, and so on and no historian would call any of them mythological and not real.
How ever there several early inscriptions in Tamilnadu that calls Rama temples not as Sacred Ayodhya but as “the temple of Lord of Ayodhya” . The inscriptions in Tamilnadu prove that Rama was associated always with the northern Ayodhya. This further corroborated by references to Krishna in Tamil inscriptions as “The Lord of Kurukshetra, Lord of Brindavana, Lord of Dwaraka ”. It is after the Northern Mathura of Krishna, the Madurai of the Tamil Country is named and came to be called “Ten Maturai” southern Maturai and the northern one called “Vada Maturai”. To call that Northern Aydhya did not exist in reality but only in myth, without an understanding of northern and southern tradition, is clearly a total and wishful distortion.
It is also necessary to study the works of Early Ālvārs in original to understand the place of Ramabhakti in Tamilnadu for it is claimed by the above writer, that the Rama cult emerged from the works of Ālvārs. Peyar, Poykaiyar, and BhutattĀlvār are three early Ālvārs who were held contemporaries and said to have lived in the 6th cent.CE. A reference to their work show Rama-bhakti was not a new introduction but was already at its height. Events from Ramayana are already reflected in the Sangam literature and also in the Tamil Epic, Silappadikaram long before the Ālvārs.
The supreme nature of Rama bhakti is sung by Poykai Ālvār, who sings that one can get his troubles, sins and diseases removed by taking refuge in the sacred feet of Rama, who destroyed that brute Ravana, who captured a woman and imprisoned her in Lanka. Sung in one full verse this is a clear indication that Rama was venerated and worshipped. Many episodes connected with the Ramayana are sung by all the three Ālvārs. Rama going after the golden deer, getting separated from Sita, killing the deer, pirecing the seven maramara trees with one arrow , Sita being imprisoned at Lanka, Rama building a bridge across the ocean, Rama destroying the city of Lanka and killing Ravana in a fierce battle are all narrated by the Ālvārs. It must also be mentioned that Rama and Krishna are jointly described in many poems and are also held identical. The other avatars of Vishnu, like Kurmavatara, Varahavatara, Trivkramavatara and Kirshnavatara are sung together with Rama which conclusively prove the Ālvārs sing Ramayana of Northern India and not create a new cult.
It is not only the Ālvāras who sing the Ramayana episodes the Saiva Saints Sambandar, Appar and Sundarar sing episodes from Ramayana. Sambandar sing the Ravana episodes in every hymn of his Tevaram which nullifies the claim that Ramayana is later. It was part and parcel all sections of the society.
Neither the study of Ālvārs, nor the study of Art, history, inscriptions, monumental temples or literature nor the study of the whole South East Asian scenario lend any support to this new View which is totally unscientific and deserves to be rejected as unhistorical.
Illustrations 1. Terracotta panel showing Rama and Lakshmana seated beneath a prabha, og the age of the Guptas, 5th cent.CE, in the Aisatic Society , New york, (from Bhitragaon region). 2. Terracotta panel showing Lakshmana and Hanuman standing behind, Gupta age , 5th cent. CE in Aldsdrof collection. 3. Terracotta panel showing Rama and Lakshmana surrounded by Monkeys, Gupta museum, 5th cent, CE noe the Museum Patna,
Dr. R. Nagaswamy
The Great Universal Temple
The Hindu temple is conceived in general parlance as “the universe”. We come across a reference to a universal temple, called the great temple in the Veda. It is also called the temple of the universe 'Viśvasya Āyatanam' also mentioned as Āyatanam mahat. A study of this Vedic universal Temple reveals the remarkable insight of the Vedic sages into nature's working and the biological factors.
The reference occurs in a sūkta employed in all temples consecration and rituals regularly. It does show that this sūkta played a vital role in the evolution of concepts relating to Hindu temples.
The Vedic sūkta is called Nārāyaṇa sūkta, which can be rendered as "the hymn of human path". The word Nārāyaṇa consists of two words. Nara + ayaṇa (Narasya ayanam) it is a well structured poem leaning heavily on scientific knowledge. It seems to be in four parts the first part deals with the external world Visva . The second part tells us of “the great end of knowledge” called Mahā jneya and the third part which points to the human body as the temple and it life force which is virtually identified with the three gods Brahmā, Viṣhṇu, Śiva and of the worship of the human soul. The fourth is the true eternal god – Satyam Param Brahma.
The text could be differently interpreted than what the mediaeval commentators have attempted. The 'Nārāyaṇa Sūkta' is generally clubbed with Puruṣa sūkta, another Vedic sūkta, which appears in all the Vedas - Rig Veda, Sukla Yajur Veda, Krishna Yajur veda, Sāma veda and Atharva veda. Both speak in identical tone about the same Supreme power. For example the Puruṣah sūkta begins with the praise 'sahasra sīrṣhā puruṣah, sahasrāksha sahasrapād, sabhūmin visvato vṛthvā atya tishtat daśāṅgulam"
The Nārāyaṇa sūkta is identical when it says -
"Sahasra sīrṣham devam, viśvākṣham viśva sambhavam
viśvam Nārāyaṇam devam Akṣharam paramam padam"
The terms sahasra-sīrṣā, sahasra-akṣa, and sahasra-pād are used in the Veda to denote the sun and its rays. The term sahasra also stands for innumerable rays. The rays of the sun are called sahasra sīrṣhā. The Puruṣha sūkta which begins with the words sahasra sīrṣhā puruṣaḥ, ends with six verses euologising Sūrya and in these verses, Āditya - (sun) is specifically identified with the Puruṣa, the great.
Vedāham ētam puruṣam mahāntam Āditya varṇam tamasas parastāt
Tam evam viditva ati mṛtyum ēti nānyah panthā ayanāya vidyatē
He is called mahān puruṣah and āditya varṇa. The Puruṣah introduced at the beginning of the sūkta, is defined clearly at the end as Mahān-puruṣa, the great man. There could be no doubt that puruṣa sūkta is addressed to Sūrya. Interestingly the verse also says, that this is the Ayana, the “Path” (panthā). From this the Nārāyaṇa sūkta takes up the thread and declares Nārāyaṇa as “the path of man”. That the Nārāyaṇa sūkta is recited immediately after Puruṣa sūkta is quite appropriate so there could be no doubt that the deva with sahasra sīrṣam mentioned at the beginning of Nārāyaṇa sūkta is none other than Sūrya. With this background we may study the Nārāyaṇa sūkta.
The first two verses of the Nārāyaṇa sūkta, deal with the external world.
Sahasra sīrṣam dēvam viśvākṣam viśva sambhuvam
viśvam Nārāyaṇam dēvam akṣaram paramam padam
This dēva with thousand heads, and innumerable eyes, (referring to sun's rays), is the eye of the universe; he makes the universe auspicious; he shows the supreme path to humanity (narasya ayanam), he is immortal, and he is the supreme abode.
It suggests Sūrya has innumerable rays (sīrṣam), and is the eye of the universe. Sūrya is called "Jagad eka cakṣuh"in the Vedas; the term Viśvākṣa is echoed in several passages. The term Nārāyaṇa could be understood here not as the name of the god but as “the path of man" as he is said to carry men in their path "Mitrō janān yātayti prajānan "(Veda). Sun is eternal and is also the supreme abode.
The second verse is follows.
Viśvataḥ paramān nityam Viśvam Nārāyaṇan harim
Visvam eva idam sarvam tad viśvam upajīvati
This dēva is in ever present beyond what is conceived by man as this world, he is the path of mankind and the remover of all difficulties (Hari: harati iti Hariḥ); he makes the universe live.
Man looks at the world as consisting of this earth (bhūmi) with its land, waters, plants, living beings, the planets and the stars, constituting the universe. This verse suggests that not only these constitute the universe but also there are greater powers beyond all these that are yet to be comprehended by man. So sun is said to be beyond what we consider as universe. It is this supreme force that makes all the universal bodies exist.
So far these two verses speak about the universe and what is beyond all these constitute the universe that exists outside an individual and man looks at them, lying outside him.
The second part of the Nārāyaṇa sūkta postulates that this Sūrya is the chief, soul and lord of this universe, who is eternal, whose power is auspicious and never fails. He is the ultimate to be understood.
Patim viśvarya ātmēśvaram, sāsvatam Śivam accyutam
Nārāyaṇam mahā jñēyam visvātmānam parāyaṇam
Here it introduces the word Ātmā - the soul. Sūrya is conceived as the soul of the universe (Viśvasya ātmā,); he is the chief among the universe (viśvasya patim) and he is the lord of the universe (Viśvasya Īśvaran). He is eternal (sāsvata) Śiva auspicious. Sun's rays are also called Śivatamā, the most benign. Sun never fails in his path as his course never changes (Accyuta) He is the soul of this universe (viśvātmā) who is the supreme path (para-ayanam) that constitutes the great knowledge (mahā-jnēyam) that deserves to be known as the path of humanity (Nārāyaṇa).
Nārāyaṇa parō jyōtih ātmā Nārāyaṇah parah
Nārāyaṇa param brahma tattvam Nārāyaṇah parah
Nārāyaṇa parō dhyātā dhyāyan Nārāyaṇah parah
Yad ca kiṅcit jagad sarvam dṛsyatē suryatepi vā
Antar bahiśca tat sarvam vyāpya Nārāyaṇa sthitaḥ
"anantam avyayam kavim samudre antam viśva sambhavam"
This Nārāyaṇa is the supreme effulgent light paro jyōtih, Nārāyaṇa is the supreme soul (ātmā Nārāyaṇah parah). Nārāyaṇa is the ever expanding (Nārāyaṇa param brahma) Nārāyaṇa is the ultimate reality. (Nārāyaṇah parah) Nārāyaṇa is one to be meditated (Nārāyaṇa paro dhyātā) and Nārāyaṇa is the supreme form of meditation. (dhyānam Nārāyaṇa paraḥ)
Man can visually see many things but there are many that he can learn only by hearing. Nārāyaṇa pervades all that is seen and heard. This Nārāyaṇa, remains both inside and outside.
yad ca kiñncit jagat sarvam dṛśyatē śrūyate pivā
antar bahiśea tad sarvam vyāpya Nārāyaṇaḥ sthitaḥ
He is endless (Ananta) he never decays (Avyaya), all beautiful (kavi), he is also in the depth of the ocean (samudrē antam) and is the origin of this universe (viśva sambhuvam). As the sun emrges from the ocean in the morning he is spoken of being inside the ocean (samudre antam)
The third part of the Nārāyaṇa sūkta gives an insight into human heart and its function, that amazingly is scientific biological description. It says the heart is in the form of a lotus bud, inverted, facing down, situated a span beneath the neck and a span above the navel. It shines like a flaming flower garland. It is indeed “the temple of the universe” (visvasya āyataman mahat); there at an end of it is a subtle hole in which every thing is established (tasyāntē suṣiraam sūkṣmam tasmin sarvam prtiṣhṭhitam). It is obviously a clear reference to the pulsating life force which is the cause of all of man's action. It therefore says that everything remains there. In that subtle hole is a great fire, (mahān agnih) which may be termed “the universal fire” that spreads every where. (tasya madhyē mahān agnir visvārccir visvatō mukha). This fire in the heart breaks all the food that is eaten into particles first and consumes them. (sō agratbhuk vibhajan tiṣṭhan āhāram ajaraḥ kavih). Intelligence is attributed to this biological fire that splits the partaken food into particless and consumes them separately up and down, and horizontaly to all parts of the body and heats up ones body from head to feet (santāpayati svam deham āpāda tala mastakah). In the centre of this Agni (fire) remains the subtle flame, glowing upward. It sparkles like a streak of lightning in the midst of luminous bluish clouds. (Vidyul-lekheva bhāsvarā -It refers to the incoming blood). it also looks like golden fire and like the paddy and is unparalleled. It is in the center of this flame the supreme soul is enshrined. He is the Paramātamā the Supreme Soul who is none other than Brahmā, Śiva, Hari, Indra, Akṣhara, and Surāt. (sa Brahmā, sa Hariḥ, sa Śivaḥ, sendraḥ, sokṣarḥ Paramḥ Svārāṭ) Thus we have external world permeated by Sūrya Nārāyaṇa and the internal life Spirit the Paramātmā. This Universl soul is constituted by the external and internal live principles and hence called Nārāyaṇa. The Sūrya is the soul ātmā of the external Universe while the pulsating prāṇa vital breadth is the inernal ātmā. Both are act through heat energy.
The Human body is the temple that enshrines the sacred space. It is entered through a small passage (sushira) where one finds the subtle space that is the interior of the heart. Inside this sacred space is the flame (vanhi sikhā) that moves upwards It is like a Śiva linga inside the sanctum (garbha gṛha) in a temple. The Śiva linga represents the blazing upward moving light (Jyoti). On top of the flame is the vital force (prāṇa)-pulsating life principle. It resembles a streak of lightning in the midst of bluish clouds. That is virtually Brahmā, Śiva and Visṇu, and Indra and the Supreme.
In addition there is an upward pointing line (rekhā) seen on the cylindrical part of the linga called Rudra bhāga. This is what is called subtle and upward moving (anīya and ūrdhva). The line that goes around the cylindrical shaft of the linga represents the Viśva the endless universe. Thus it is the human body likened to a temple. Through the pulsating vital breadth inside the human body the individual can visualize and experience the Supreme who remains engulfing the Universe.
There are two things that deserve attention: a) the human body has always been praised as the temple and the pulsating vital breadth the prāṇa - jīva as the Divine Dēva.. b) The second is that Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Śiva are identical and are not different entities. That is the reason why the Nārāyaṇa sūkta is recited in all consecratory rites. That which is seen through this jīva in the body temple is the greatest knowledge, the mahā jñēya and so it is called Nārāyaṇa “the path of man” As this body temple is in every human being it is called the Universal temple.
The Taittirīya samhitā has a slightly variant reading, by which it specifically holds the human heart as the Great Universal temple. "Hridayam tad vijānīyāt viśvasya āyatanam mahat."
The Vaiṣṇava āgamaic text of the Vaikhānasa school-Marīci samhitā explains the fruits of temple worship by citing this Nārāyaṇa sūkta. The Supreme Paramātmā must be contemplated in the middle of the flame in the heart, likened to a lotus bud that is the Universal temple.
Padma kōsa pratīkāsē visvasya āyatane prithau hṛdaye agni madhye paramātmānam vyavsthitam dhyānena pasyēt..
The full text of Nārāyaṇa sūkta is given below:-
This text also citing the Puruṣa sūkta holds the Trinity as identical sa Brahmā, sa Hari, sa Śiva, sendra etc. (Tait Ara. 9-16)
The Nārada pānca-rātra another Vaiṣṇava text, but of the Pāncarātrā school, defines the nature of (tattva) of Parama puruṣha, also the Brahman as jyotis svarūpaḥ(tattvam Jyotis svarupam.3.18. It also repeats the terms of Nārāyaṇa sūkta as “Sahasra Sīrṣam dēvam sarvātmam sarvato mukham “2-19.
That these Vedic sūktas have played a vital role in influencing the Tamil Vaiṣhṇava saints may be seen from a number poems of the Ālvārs in which they almost truly render the hymns in Tamil. For example Nammālvār sings in one hymn
தோள்கள் ஆயிரத்தாய் முடிகள் ஆயிரத்தாய்
தாள்கள் ஆயிரத்தாய் பேர்கள் ஆயிரத்தாய்
தமியன் அப்பனே - 2863
This hymn is an exact rendering of the Vedic Puruṣhah sūkta as "Sahsra sīrshā puruṣhah sahsrākṣa sahasrapād"
With thousand heads , thousand eyes and thousand feet. There could be no doubt that the Ālvārs were true followers of Vedanta with contextual emphasis on Viṣṇu.
The full text of the Nārāyaṇa sūkta is given below
ऋतँ सत्यम् परम् ब्रह्म पुरुषं कृष्णपिंगलं ऊर्ध्वरेतंविरूपाक्षं विश्वरुपाय वै नमःविश्वरूपाय वै नम ओं नम इति
ṛta satyam param brahma puruṣaṁ kṛṣṇapiṁgalaṁ
ūrdhvareetaṁ virūpākṣaṁ viśvarupāya vai namaḥ
viśvarūpāya vai nama ooṁ nama iti
March 1, 2006
Worship of the departed
1. Ancestor worship - an enjoined duty:
Every human being is born with three types of debts to be repaid, namely, the debt to God (that can be repaid by worshipping gods), the debt to sages and saints (that can be repaid by reverence and service to saints, sages and gurus) and the debt to one’s ancestors. The scripture, ‘Yajuraaranyaka’, elaborates on this aspect, giving a list of five forms of worship (yajnaas), called maha yajnaas, to be performed to get relieved of the debts he has to repay, as
“Panchavaa ethe maha yajnaahsatati sataayante…. Santishthante” (2-2-14)
There is a sloka too, which summarizes all the five mahaayajnaas.
“Adhyaapanam Brahma yajnah,
Pitru yajnasya tarpanam,
Nruyajnah atithi pujanam.”
According to these dicta, the duties of the householder (grihasta) include the performance of five ‘mahaa yajnaas’ as follows.
a. Adhyaapanam Brahma yajnah:-
Brahma yajna is the seer worship. Each day the householder expresses his debt to the ancient sages by studying, repeating and meditating upon at least some portions of the Vedic scriptures and by transmission of the scriptural teaching and cultural heritage
Learning in brahma-charya aasrama and teaching in grihastha aasrama, to maintain the guru-sishya parampara, are a ritual, known as Brahmayajna.
b. Pitru yajnasya tarpanam: -
The second yajna is the ancestor worship (Pitru Yajna). Offering libations of water (by a ‘tarpanam’) or setting aside of rice balls (pindas) constitute a remembrance of ancestors, during annual shraadhaas to worship the ancestors.
This is to repay the debt to ancestors who have provided us with the materialistic body to carry out the activities of the life, without which no action (karma) could be performed.
Also, parents, who give birth, take care, give education, provide amenities, help in settling and do many more things, deserve reimbursement by way of gratitude. In Hindu scriptures, it is clearly mentioned that this gratitude is expressed in the form of shraadha Karma and similar rituals.
c. Homo Devah: - (Deva Yajnah)
The third yajna is by offering oblations to devatas like Indra, Agni, varuna etc in homa, to express our gratitude to the natural forces and seek their blessings.
It is called Deva yajna (Deity worship). It is the worship of deities, who have provided air, water, food, shelter, clothing etc required for a living in this world.
d. Balirbhoutah: - Bhutayajna (or Vaisvadeva).
The fourth yajna is the worship of living beings by scattering grains, offering foods at the threshold for animals, birds, insects etc.
e. Nruyajnah atithi pujanam: - Respect for other humans in society.
The fifth yajna is nruyajna also called Manushya yajna (Guest worship), by which hospitality to guests, friends or even strangers and beggars is shown.
If these sacrifices, enjoined by the scripture, are duly performed, the purification of mind is effected and this helps to get true knowledge and attain self-realization.
Performing one’s prescribed duties is primary and basic in attaining the state of right knowledge. Adi Sankara emphasizes this aspect in his ‘Prasnothara ratna maalika’ in his famous statement
“Samyak Jnaanam ---, Kriyaa Sidham--”, meaning
“True knowledge is attained by performing karma alone. So, do properly Karma prescribed therein (rituals, at least the nitya karmas); by the performance of those karmas, worship the Lord, i.e. or practice “Karma Yoga”.
Thus, performing the ritual of shraadha by a householder (grihastha) becomes a part of Pitru-Yajna, the worship of the ancestral deities, to get relieved of the debt to his ancestors.
Shraadha is performed to worship three generations of Pitrus, namely the father, the grandfather and the great grandfather (or the mother, the grandmother and the great grand mother). No oblations are offered to other antecedent ancestors, because those souls would have lost touch with the current lineage. (Pitru devataas are supposed to have a different time scale. An eternal soul’s one day is equivalent to our one-year time.) That is why an anniversary (in our terms) is taken as one day for pithru karmas i.e. shraadhaas enabling the soul to have food once a day in its time scale.
The three generations who have departed are believed to be communicated through the Vasu, Rudra and Aditya devataas respectively. So, a departed father (or mother) is worshipped in Vasu rupa (form), departed grand father (or grand mother) in Rudra rupa and departed great grand father (or great grandmother) in Aditya rupa
Shraadha must be performed with faith, devotion and reverence. According to Hindu scriptures, a son who does not perform shraadha for his ancestors is an ungrateful son. The scriptures condemn such a person to a life of misery and poverty. So when a Hindu departs from this world, his descendents make ritualistic offerings as prescribed in the sacred texts so that the departed one makes further spiritual progress in other worlds also. Only after the shraadha is performed here, does the departed soul attain a position among the Pitrus or Divine Fathers in their blissful abode called Pitru-loka and join pitru ganas. Generally, it is considered the most desirable and efficacious when the shraadha is performed by a son. Ritual of shraadha should be performed, of the departed father (on the paternal side) and of the departed mother (on the maternal side). The obligation towards the departed souls is, thus, a part of one’s ordained duties, (or obligatory karma), the performance of which brings happiness not only to the departed soul, but also to him who performs it.
The final day of Pitru Paksha (the second half of the month ‘Bhaadrapada’) is the new moon day called ‘Mahaalaya Amaavaasya’. It is the day when oblations are offered to many ancestors. According to scriptures, there is a conjunction of the sun and the moon on this day and the sun enters the zodiac sign Virgo (Kanya). If the rite of shraadha is performed on one of the days in the fortnight of pitru paksha, then the subtle bodies of ancestors are considered to remain gratified for years.
At the time of death, even though the soul is separated from the body in this materialistic world, the soul is never dying. The soul experiences the results of the actions it performed along with its materialistic body. It is believed that the performance of shraadha will give a boost to the souls in the eternal world.
2. The creation of ‘Pitrus’:
The process of creation is briefly narrated in Narayanopanishad of Atharva Veda,
“Atha purushohavyi naaraayanookaamayata prajaassrujeyethi…..Naaraayane praleeyante”
The Lord Supreme manifests in the form of Hiranyagarbha and later as the Chaturmukha Brahma, the god of creation. In the process of creation, many who are vital to sustain the universe and the life in it, are born to Lord Brahma. Then, Rudra, Indra, nine Prajaapatis, twelve Adityaas, eleven Rudraas, eight Vasus, eight Dikpaalakaas, all Vedas, Ganas (Such as Amurtha, Aprakasa, Jyothishmanta etc.) fourteen Manus and others are created, who are known to form a group called Deva Ganas. Also, ten Visvee devaas are created. Sapta rishis (seven great sages) are created, to whom are born seven Pitru ganas. Pitru ganaas and Visvee devaas together are known to form a group called ‘Loka Pitrus’. They possess the power of going everywhere in Vaayu rupa (a form like air) and capable of knowing the past, present and future as well. Further, those who are born and dead and then enter Svarga (the heaven), are known to form a group called ‘Loukika Pitrus’.
The offerings made to them in their previous births would provide them strength to ascend to higher spiritual planes, ultimately to attain Brahma Loka. This is made functional through Vasu, Rudra and Aditya devataas who are Loka pitrus. Vasu, Rudra and Aditya devataas represent the Loukika pitrus during shraadha karma by entering the person in whom the Loukia pitrus are invoked. Thus, offerings given during ritual reach the invoked souls even if the pitru has taken his next birth as a human being or an animal etc., elsewhere.
Also, ten Visvee devaas, such as Pururava, Ardra, Soma, Pitrupeeta and others, born to Dharma Prajaapati (one of the nine Prajaapatis), are invoked during a shraadha karma. Visvee devaas, who have close contacts with Pitru ganaas, act as protectors of the ceremony (shraadha samrakshakas).
Thus, a group of Deva ganaas including Lord Brahma and all other gods, and another group of Visveedevaas are worshipped during the shraadha Kriya and those worshipped are believed to bestow peace, progress, prosperity and progeny to the doer of shraadha.
Thus ‘shraadha karma’ is primarily a worship of many gods, quite auspicious, not only to the person performing it, but also to the world at large.
3. The Departure of the Soul:
The path of the person after death is described in the ‘Maha Narayanopanishad”, (80, the last Anuvaka)
“Tasyaivam vidusho yajnasyaatma…. ityupanishad”,
According to it, a person who has lived a life of perfection and who dies in Uttaraayana attains over lordship of gods like Indra and then reaches identity or companionship with the sun. On the other hand he who dies during Dakshinaayana gets only greatness of the manes and then attains the identity or companionship with the moon. But he who has become a knower of Self wins further and attains the greatness of Brahman, the Supreme.
Similar statements are found in the Bhagavad-Gita,
“Yatra kaale tvanaa vrithim... Anyayaa vartate punah”. (8-23, 24, 25, 26)
“O Arjuna, now I shall describe the different paths departing by which, during death, the yogis do or do not come back. (8.23) Fire, light, daytime, the bright lunar fortnight, and the six months of the northern solstice of the sun --- departing by the path of these celestial controllers (Devas), yogis who know the Eternal Being (Brahma) attain Brahman (8.24). Smoke, night, the dark lunar fortnight, and the six months of southern solstice of the sun --- departing by these paths, the righteous person attains heaven and comes back to earth (8.25). The path of light (of spiritual practice and Self-knowledge) and the path of darkness (of materialism and ignorance) are thought to be the world’s two eternal paths. The former leads to salvation (Mukti) and the latter leads to rebirth.” (8.26)
It is believed that, at the time of death, the Jiva leaves the body. When the Jiva leaves the body, the following also leave:-
a) The five senses of knowledge; (Jnaana Indriyas)
b) The five senses of action; (Karma Indriyas)
d) Praana or principal vital air;
e) Five gross elements(ether, air, fire, water and earth):-
It is common that the speech rests in mind. The mind thinks first and then the person speaks. So, at the time of death, it is the reverse. The power of speech stops first. He is able to think, but not able to speak. This is the first stage in the process of death. Similarly, the five senses of knowledge and the five senses of action rest in the mind. This means that his thinking function also stops. Then, he is said to become unconscious. He does not know what is happening around. But, life is still there. So, we say that the mind rests in the vital air praana. Next, the praana reaches the soul or Jiva. After this, the soul joins the five gross elements (panchabhutas), namely, ether, air, fire, water and earth, in a subtle form. Then, they all depart from the body.
We know that there are innumerable ‘naadis’ (nervous systems) in the body. Out of these, there is one special ‘naadi’, called ‘Sushumna naadi’.
1) The Jiva, who is to attain moksha, passes through this special ‘naadi’.
2) The Jiva, who passes through the other naadis going upwards, reaches svarga; and enjoys pleasures, in the company of ‘devas’.
When a person dies, the soul leaves the body; and depending upon the fruits of karma, the soul goes to svarga or takes on some other body or goes to ‘Paramapada’, the Ultimate Abode. When the soul goes to svarga or to some other body, all the ten senses also follow the soul. But when the soul goes to ‘Paramapada’, the senses are left behind. Suppose the individual soul or Jiva performs good and meritorious acts in this world. For the good and pious acts done in this world, and to enjoy their fruits in the other world, the Jiva, accompanied by senses and elements, as mentioned above, reaches the Heaven or Svarga. There, he (Jiva) gets a suitable body to enjoy the fruits of his good acts in the company of ‘devas’. When the fruits of his/her good acts (or the good Karma) get exhausted partly, he/she is born again in this world, along with the balance of karma in the form of ‘Vaasanaas’. The Jiva enters the clouds. Then, he/she again enters this world and falls on the earth along with the rain. There, he/she gets united with the paddy, grain etc, which is grown on the earth. The grain is eaten in the form of food by a male and then enters the womb of a female when a male and a female unite. Thus ‘Jiva’ is subsequently born in this world.
Those, who have done only bad things; and those who have not done any good things in their life, are repeatedly re-born in this world, as trees, animals, birds, and so on.
In Katha Upanishad, the conversation between Lord Yama and Nachiketa is highly enlightening to the seekers of ‘Knowledge’ (Jnaana). The answer, with analogies, given by Yama to the questions posed by Nachiketa about the life after death and existence of Atman is unique in its simplicity and depth.
Lord Yama answers,
“All Jeevas originate from the Supreme Reality, like sparks from a fire. They are pure to start with. The Jiva changes due to environment and circumstances, just like pure rain-water is contaminated coming down due to gravity. The Atman, though a passive passenger, gets involved, but still in its essence is pure. It is the contaminants which are carried by it, much as desires and actions contaminate the intellect and ego-enity.”
“Atman exists in us as the passenger. Our ego is the charioteer. The rein is the mental process and horses are our senses as well as motor organs. It is the ego which drives us either in right or wrong direction. The directions are ‘Sreya’ (good) and ‘Preya’ (pleasing). Most drive to the latter. Some, who direct the ego to the former, are fit candidates to know the Atman. Atman exists in the body and even without it. Usually people with an active conscience appreciate Atman and lead righteous life and opposite is true about people without conscience.”
“Garuda Puraana”, one of the ‘Eighteen Puranaas’ of Sage Veda Vyaasa, deals at a great length (in the second half), with the life after death.
Usually, the above (two) scriptures are recited during a period of ten days following the day of death of a person.
4. The cycle of births and deaths:
Hinduism believes in rebirth after death.
Lord Krishna, in the Bhagavad-Gita, reveals,
“Mrityuh sarva haraschaaham udbhavascha bhavishyataam”. (10-34)
“I am the all-devouring death and also the origin of future beings”
Creation and destruction are the two sides of the same reality. Creation begins with destruction and in creation there is already a seed of the destruction to come. The same is true in case of destruction. If the birth of an individual is creation, his death is destruction. It is through this repeated process of creation and destruction that the individual being evolves gradually in series and stages. According to Hinduism a soul reincarnates again and again on earth till it becomes perfect and reunites with its Source. During this process the soul enters many bodies, assumes many forms and passes through many births and deaths. This concept is summarily described in the following popular verses of the Bhagavad-Gita,
“Jaatasya hi dhruvo mrityuh, dhruvam janma mritasyacha.” (2-27)
‘Death is certain for the born, and rebirth is inevitable for the dead’. Every mortal is bound to be reborn;
“Vaasaamsi jeernani…..navaani dehi” (2-22)
"Just as a man discards worn out clothes and puts on new clothes, the soul casts off worn out bodies and enters new ones."
In Charpata Panjarikaa Stotram, (Bhaja Govindam), Adi Sankara cautions that suffering is a part of this endless cycle of births and deaths.
“Punarapi jananam….paahi murare”
Meaning of the sloka
“Birth unceasing, death unceasing!
Ever to pass through a mother's womb,
Hard to cross is the world's wide ocean
Lord! Redeem me through thy mercy.”
The Jiva undergoes the cycle of innumerable births and deaths. It becomes bound to the mortal life and the laws of nature under the cover of Maaya (illusion). Death provides temporary relief, but exposes the individual Jiva to the risk of falling into greater depths of suffering.
Every individual soul possesses three bodies, namely, the gross, the subtle and causal (sthula. sukshma and kaarana sareeraas). When the soul leaves one body and enters another, all these three bodies undergo changes.
The actions of a man are responsible for the modification of the above three bodies and consequently, his nature.
At the end of each life, the physical body and the gross mind return to the elements of the earth. But the Jiva survives death. Depending upon the nature of the past deeds, and the number of subtle bodies it has developed, the Jiva either ascends to the heaven or descends to the hell. The Jiva stays in these worlds till it exhausts (many a time, partly), the fruits of its good or bad actions. Having learnt some new lessons, it then returns to the earth again to take another birth (by virtue of the balance of karma).
“Hinduism speaks of the existence of heavens above and hells below. The former are sun filled (Surya lokas), inhabited by gods and innumerable divine souls. The latter are dark worlds (Asurya lokas) and populated by all the dark and demonic forces. The individual souls go to these worlds according to their deeds. But they do not stay there permanently till the end of destruction. They go there, basically as a consequence of their actions, either to enjoy or to suffer. In either case, they learn the lesson and come back to earth to start a new earthly life all over again.”
“The Hindu concept of reincarnation is based upon the logical notion that life on earth did not emerge suddenly, but evolved gradually, involving great epochs of time and a vast multitude of beings. During this process the static consciousness of matter yielded place to the dynamic movement of life and consciousness. ‘Karma’ is the sculptor through out this grand drama. It is the correction mechanism, to carve out a deity out of an inert stone. The Jiva thus drifts, sailing in the boat of his own karma, in a sea of worldly illusion (samsaara saagarah), towards the shores of liberation, through trial and error, self effort, with the soul remaining as its silent, witnessing companion.”
A soul gets human life because of noble karmas in the previous many lives. Sastras have given many tips to make this rare human life a purposeful one. Each has to . The Kashi Yatra commences from Rameshwaram and continues at Prayaga, Kashi, Gaya and finally concludes at Rameshwaram. The rituals to be performed at all these place..
Sankalpam:Before initiation of ritual, a vow is taken for purification from all misdeeds and completion of the yatra with the blessings of Vedic Brahmins.
Maha Samudra Snanam and Sand Collection: After the Samudra Snanam the sand from Dhanushkoti is collected for emersion into the ganges at Prayag (Allahabad).
Snannam at 22 wells of sacred teertham: It is a Pitru Puja performed to please the departed souls of past three generations(Pitru(Father), Pitamaha(Grand Father) and Prapitamaha(Great Grand Father)) and Karunikas(All departed relatives and Guru). The Hiranya Rupa Shraddham is performed in the presence of Brahmins followed by Pinda Pradanam, Tila Tarpanam and Brhma Yagnam.
Shraddham (Hinranya Rupam): Shraddham performed with Homam and feeding either 2 or 5 brahmins followed by Tila Tarpanam and Pinda Pradanam.
Theertha Shraddham (Parvanam): Shraddham performed with Homam and feeding either 2 or 5 brahmins followed by Tila Tarpanam and Pinda Pradanam.
Day One of The rituals to be performed at Kashi: Contact:
Sri. Kalyana Sundara Shastrigal
New Street, Rameshwaram, Tamilnadu
Phone: (04573) 222068
Sri. Shringeri Madam
Phone: (04573) 223567 Sri. Surya Murthi Dikshitar
55, South Theradi Street
Phone: (04573) 222302
Sri. Jagannatha Iyer
Phone: (04567) 264501. Sri. Sethu Rama Shastigal
40, North Theradi Street,
Phone: (04573) 222056
Phone: (04573) 221129
These Danams are meant to be in Hiranya roopam.
The temple Darshanam which incluide: - Shri DundiGanapathi, Shri Viswanathar, Shri Annapoorni, and Shri Kashi Vishalakshi.
Manikarnika Hiranyaroopa teertha shraddham Or Annaroopa Teertha Shraddham
Kshetra pindam Danam
Sight Scenes (Listed below)
Panchatheertha Shraddham includes Snanam, Hiranya Shraddha, Pinda Pradanam & Tila Tarpanam at each Ghat seperrately
Assi Ghattam – Haridwara Teertha snanam
Dahsaswamedha Gattam – Rudra Sarovara Teertha Snanam
Varuna Gattam – Vishnupadodaka Teertha Snanm
Panchaganga Ghattam – Pnchaganga Teertha Snanam
Manikarnika Ghattam – Manikarnika Snanam
And finally Brahma Yagnam
Note: - After completion of the Yatra a Samaradhana also needs to be conducted. Gaya Shraddham
Phalguni Theertha Snana Maha Sankalpam
Phalguni Theertha Snanam
Phalguni Theertha Shraddham (Hirnaya Rupam) includes Hiranya Shraddha, Pinda Pradanam, Tila Tarpanam
Vishnu Pada Theertha Shraddham (Hirnaya Rupam), Hiranya Shraddha, Pinda Pradanam including Matra Shodashi & Kshetra Pinda Danam, Tila Tarpanam
Akshayavata Theertha Shraddham (Annaroopam), Pinda Pradanam including Matra Shodashi & Kshetra Pinda Danam, Tila Tarpanam
Shaka (Vegetable), Patra (Leaf), Phalam (Fruit) Danam
Visiting Temples (Buddha Gaya, Bodhi Tree)
Triveni Snanam, emersion of Rameshwaram Sand and Collection of Holi Ganges Water
Collection of Ganges Water
Hiranya Shraddham includes Hiranya Shraddha, Pinda Pradanam, Tila Tarpanam
The Contact Person:
Sri. S.Natesh Shastrigal
Daraganj, Near Daraganj Police Station,
Phone: - 0532- 2500799 / 2500261.
Note: Your views about the this site will be appreciable.
Contact Address at Kashi : B - 5/311, Hanuman Ghat, Varanasi - 221 001, Ph: 91-542-2310134 / 2275173
E - Mail : firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
Navajo sacred mountain case
U.S. court backs Indian tribe on sacred mountain
By Adam Tanner
10:46 a.m. March 12, 2007
SAN FRANCISCO – An Arizona ski resort’s plan to use treated sewage to make snow on a mountain sacred to several Native American tribes violates religious freedom laws, a U.S federal appeals court ruled Monday.
“We hold that the Forest Service’s approval of the proposed expansion of the Snowbowl, including the use of treated sewage effluent to make artificial snow, violates RFRA,” a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals wrote.
The Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA, holds that the federal government may not “substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion.”
The dispute is one of the most prominent in recent years pitting the religious beliefs of American Indians against local economic interests.
According to the Navajo Nation, the San Francisco Peaks are sacred to more than 13 Native American nations.
“They walked all over our dignity,” Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr. said in 2005. “You’re committing genocide; you’re demeaning us.” The Arizona Snowbowl ski resort, 150 miles north of Phoenix, wanted to use artificial snow to enable skiing throughout the winter and says the move in the San Francisco Peaks is crucial to its economic survival.
Organized skiing started at Snowbowl in 1938, but has depended on highly variable natural snowfall rather than using artificial snow as at many U.S. resorts. In many years, enthusiasts can ski for more than 100 days a year, although in the especially poor 2001-2 season there were only four days when skiing was possible.
Last year, a U.S. District Court judge backed the plans to allow a $25 million upgrade on the 777-acre facility on federal forest land to include the use of treated sewage water.
The Navajo Nation, which has an estimated 300,000 tribal members in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, joined several other tribes and environmental groups to fight the decision.
The appeals court decision described the religious significance of the Peaks to the Navajos, Hopi, Hualapai, Havasupai tribes, among others, and how sewage is treated to make reclaimed water.
“The record supports the conclusion that the proposed use of treated sewage effluent on the San Francisco Peaks would impose a burden on the religious exercise of all four tribes discussed above – the Navajo, the Hopi, the Hualapai, and the Havasupai,” wrote Judge William Fletcher.
“We are unwilling to hold that authorizing the use of artificial snow at an already functioning commercial ski area in order to expand and improve its facilities, as well as to extend its ski season in dry years, is a governmental interest ‘of the highest order.”
9th Circuit Court Appeals Rules for Navajo Nation, Hopi Tribe in San Francisco Peaks Case
March 12, 2007
9TH CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS RULES FOR NAVAJO NATION, HOPI TRIBE IN SAN FRANCISCO PEAKS CASE, SETS PRECEDENT FOR SACRED SITES
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. - ¬ In a precedent-setting sacred sites case, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday ruled in favor of the Navajo Nation, the Hopi Tribe and others in their effort to protect the sacred San Francisco Peaks from desecration.
In its 70-page decision, the appeals court reversed a Jan. 11, 2006, decision by U.S. District Court Judge Paul Rosenblatt that allowed the expansion of the Arizona Snowbowl and the use of sewage effluent to make artificial snow. Most significantly, the appeals court ruled that the U.S.Forest Service violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act by permitting the plans, and failed to fully comply with the National Environmental Policy Act in its evaluation of it.
“If Appellants (the tribes) do not have a valid RFRA claim in this case,” wrote Judge William A. Fletcher for the court, “we are unable to see how any Native American plaintiff can ever have a successful RFRA claim based on beliefs and practices tied to land their hold sacred.”
As the news circulated by phone and e-mail, Navajos everywhere were overjoyed. Upon hearing the ruling, Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley, Jr., said he was elated, and that he had never given up hope.
“Medicine people will feel the same way I do, happy,” he said. “The Religious Freedom Restoration Act had never been tested. So I think this is a precedent-setting decision. Now tribes out there have every means of protecting their sacred sites, especially now that the law has been proven, and I just really appreciate the judges deciding in the way that they have.”
Howard Shanker, the attorney for the the Navajo Nation and several other tribes in the case, said the ruling is especially important because an earlier case, Lyng v. Northwest Indian Cemetery Protective Assn., held that Native Americans did not have First Amendment rights when it came to federal government land use decisions.
“Essentially, Native Americans have had no recourse challenging government land use decisions which oftentimes impact sacred sites and culturally-significant sites,” he said.
“What we’ve done here is under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act is we’ve created an avenue for tribes to protect those sites that are sacred to them that impact their exercise of religion.”
This is the first case in which RFRA has been successfully used in an appeal, Mr. Shanker said.
“So it’s extremely important,” he said. “Tribes all over the country can benefit from this decision and utilize it to protect sacred and religiously significant sites. This is a tremendous step forward in preserving Native American cultural and religious beliefs.”
The Navajo Nation, Hopi Tribe and other plaintiffs sued the U.S. Forest Service over its decision to allow the Arizona Snowbowl Resort to expand its ski area over 100 acres of rare alpine ecosystem.
Additionally, the proposed plans would have allowed Snowbowl to make artificial snow from treated sewage effluent. To do this, a 10 million gallon storage pond would have been constructed on the mountain and a 14.8-mile long pipeline from the Rio de Flag wastewater treatment plant would have been built.
RFRA states that the federal government “may not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion.” The court noted that the 1993 law “provides greater protection for religious practices” than earlier U.S. Supreme Court cases had allowed. It said the district court erred by disregarding an amended definition of “exercise of religion.”
“We conclude that the (tribes) have shown that the use of treated sewage effluent on the Peaks would impose a substantial burden on their exercise of religion,” the court said. “This showing is particularly strong for the Navajo and the Hopi.”
Because of that finding, the court said, it was unnecessary to pursue the question in regard to the Hualapai and Havasupai, which held similar spiritual views regarding the mountain.
“The (Forest) Service has acknowledged that the Peaks are sacred to at least
13 formally recognized Indian tribes, and that this religious significance is of centuries duration,” Judge Fletcher wrote.
The court also found that the Forest Service “neither reasonably discusses the risks posed by the possibility of human ingestion of artificial snow made from treated sewage effluent nor articulates why such discussion is unnecessary.”
The court noted that the FEIS explains that the “often euphemistically called reclaimed water” does not produce pure water but has detectable levels of enteric bacteria, viruses, and protozoa, including Crytosporidium and Giardia. Noting that the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality approved the use of treated effluent for snowmaking in 2001, it said ADEQ “requires that users take precautions to avoid human ingestion,” and that Snowbowl would have been the first ski area in the country to make snow entirely from undiluted treated sewage effluent.
The court found that the use of effluent, and the resulting physical and spiritual contamination of natural resources, constituted a burden on the exercise of religion by the various tribes. The burden exists, it said, “because the practices require a belief in the mountain’s purity or a spiritual connection to the mountain that would be undermined by contamination.”
“The Forest Service itself wrote in the FEIS that the Peaks are the most sacred place of both the Navajo and the Hopi; that those tribes’ religions have revolved around the Peaks for centuries; that their religious practices require pure natural resources from the Peaks; and that, because their religious beliefs dictate that the mountain be viewed as a living being, the treated effluent would in their view contaminate the natural resources throughout the Peaks,” the court said.
The court also found there was no compelling governmental interest to allow artificial snowmaking. Because the ski area has relied on natural snowfall since 1938, the court said the record does not support the conclusion that the Snowbowl would go out of business if the proposed expansion does not proceed.
“We are struck by the obvious fact that the Peaks are located in a desert,” the court said. “It is and always has been predictable that some winters will be dry.”
President Shirley said the ruling was critically important to Native people because it helps preserve their culture and way of life.
“Whatever you do as a government, as an organization, as a people, when you start picking at sacred sites, or chipping away at culture, what ultimately happens is it’s a chipping away at a way of life,” he said. “Genocide might be a very strong word but that’s what comes to mind. As a people we don’t want to die.”
“My dream, my hope, my prayer for my people, my young, my Nation, my way of life, is that 100 years, 500 years, 1,000 years down the road I’d like to continue to believe that Navajo people are still here, talking the Navajo language with our culture, our way of life, that’s my hope, that’s my prayer,” he said.
“What I think this ultimately means is that it goes towards that, preserving our way of life, preserving my prayer, my sacred song, my sacred sites, my mother ¬ the San Francisco Peaks. Years have been added to my life. I can’t express how happy I am. As a people, we’re elated.”
Read the 9th Circuit Court Ruling:
Excerpts from Hon’ble SC judgement of 7-judge bench, of 16 April 1954 (related to explanation of ‘religion’:
We now come to article 25 which, as its language
indicates, secures to every person, subject to public order,
health and morality, a freedom not only to entertain such
religious belief, as may be approved of by his judgment and
conscience, but also to exhibit his belief in such outward
acts as he thinks proper and to propagate or disseminate his
ideas for the edification of others. A question is raised
as to whether the word "persons" here means individuals only
or includes corporate bodies as well. The question, in our
opinion, is not at all relevant for our present purpose. A
Mathadhipati is certainly not a corporate body; he is the
head of a spiritual fraternity and by virtue of his office
has to perform the duties of a religious teacher. it is his
duty to practise and propagate the religious tenets, of
which he is an adherent and if any provision of law prevents
him from propagating his doctrines, that would certainly
affect the religious freedom which is guaranteed to every
person under article 25. Institutions as such cannot
practise or propagate religion; it can be done only by
individual persons and whether these person propagate their
personal views or the tenets for which the institution
stands is really immaterial for purposes. of article 25. It
is the propagation of belief that is protected, no matter
whether the propagation takes place in a church or
monastery, or in a temple or parlour meeting.
As regards article 26, the first question is, what is the
precise meaning or connotation of the expression
"religious denomination" and whether a Math could come
within this expression. The word "denomination" has been
defined in the Oxford Dictionary to mean 'Ca collection of
individuals classed together under the same name: a
religious sect or body having a common faith and
Organisation and designated by a distinctive name. It is
well known that the practice of setting up Maths as centres
of the logical teaching was started by Shri Sankaracharya
and was followed by various teachers since then. After
Sankara, came a galaxy of religious teachers and
philosophers who founded the different sects and sub-sects
of the Hindu religion that we find in India at the present
day. Each one of such sects or sub-sects can certainly be
balled a religious denomination, as it is designated by a
distinctive name,-in many cases it is the name of the
founder,-and has a common faith and common spiritual
organization. The followers of Ramanuja, who are known by
the name of Shri Vaishnabas, undoubtedly constitute a
religious denomination; and so do the followers of
Madhwacharya and other religious teachers. It is a fact
well established by tradition that the eight Udipi Maths
were founded by Madhwacharya himself and the trustees and
the beneficiaries of these Maths profess to be followers of
that teacher. The High Court has found that the Math in
question is in charge of the Sivalli Brahmins who constitute
a section of the followers of Madhwacharya. As article 26
contemplates not merely a religious denomination but also a
section thereof, the Math or the spiritual fraternity
represented by it can legitimately come within the purview
of this article.
The other thing that remains to be considered in regard
to article 26 is, what is the scope of clause (b) of the
article which speaks of management " of its own affairs in
matters of religion ?" The language undoubtedly suggests
that there could be other affairs of a religious
denomination or a section thereof which are not matters of
religion and to which the guarantee given by this clause
would not apply. The question is, whereas the line to be
drawn between what are matters of religion and what are not
It will be seen that besides the right to manage its own
affairs in matters of religion, which is given by clause
(b), the next two clauses of article 26 guarantee to a
religious denomination the right to acquire and own property
and to administer such property in accordance with law. The
administration of its property by a religious denomination
has thus been placed on a different footing from the right
to manage its own affairs in matters of religion. The
latter is a fundamental right which no legislature can take
away, whereas the former can be regulated by laws which the
legislature can validly impose. It is clear, therefore,
that questions merely relating to administration of
properties belonging to a religious group or institution are
not matters of religion to which clause (b) of the article
applies. What then are matters of religion ? The word
"religion " has not been defined in the Constitution and it
is a term which is hardly susceptible of any rigid
definition. In an American case(1), it has been said " that
the term religion has reference to one's views of his
relation to his Creator and to the obligations they impose
of reverence for His Being and character and of obedience to
His will. It is often confounded with cultus of form or
worship of a particular sect, but is distinguishable from
the latter." We do not think that the above definition can
be regarded as either precise or adequate. Articles 25 and
26 of our Constitution are based for the most part upon
article 44(2) of the Constitution of Eire and we have great
doubt whether a definition of "religion" as given above
could have been in the minds of our Constitution-makers when
they framed the Constitution. Religion is certainly a
matter of faith with individuals or communities and it is
not necessarily theistic. There are well known religions in
India like Buddhism and Jainism which do not believe in God
or in any Intelligent First Cause. A religion undoubtedly
has its basis in a system of beliefs or doctrines which are
regarded by those who profess that religion as conducive to
their spiritual well being, but it would not be correct to
say that religion is nothing else, but a
(1) Vide Davie v. Benson 133 U.S 333 at 342.
doctrine or belief. A religion may not only lay down a code
of ethical rules for its followers to accept, it might
prescribe rituals and observances, ceremonies and modes of
worship which are regarded as integral parts of religion,
and these forms and observances might extend even to matters
of food and dress.
The guarantee under our Constitution not only protects
the freedom of religious opinion but it protects also acts
done in pursuance of a religion and this is made clear by
the use of the expression " practice of religion " in
article 25. Latham C. J. of the High Court of Australia
while dealing with the provision of section 116 of the
Australian Constitution which inter alia forbids the
Commonwealth to prohibit the "free exercise of any religion"
made the following weighty observations(1) :
" It is sometimes suggested in discussions on the subject
of freedom of religion that, though the civil Government
should not interfere with religious opinion&, it
nevertheless may deal as it pleases with any acts which are
done in pursuance of religious belief without infringing the
principle of freedom of religion. It appears to me to be
difficult to maintain this distinction as relevant to the
interpretation of section 116. The section refers in
express terms to the exercise of religion, and therefore it
is intended to protect from the operation of any
Commonwealth laws acts which are done in the exercise of
religion. Thus the section goes far beyond protecting
liberty of opinion. It protects also acts. done in
pursuance of religious belief as part of religion."
These observations apply fully to the protection of
religion as guaranteed by the Indian Constitution.
Restrictions by the State upon free exercise of religion are
permitted both under articles 25 and 26 on grounds of public
order,. morality and health. Clause (2)(a) of article 25
reserves the right of the State to regulate or restrict any
economic, financial, political and other secular activities
which may be associated with religious practice and there is
a further right given to the State by sub-clause (b) under
which the State can
(1) Vide Adelaide Company V. The Commonwealth 67 C.L.R.
legislate for social welfare and reform even though by so
doing it might interfere with religious practices. The
learned Attorney-General lays stress upon clause (2)(a) of
the article and his contention is that all secular
activities, which may be associated with religion but do not
really constitute an essential part of it, are amenable to
The contention formulated in such broad terms cannot,
we think, be supported. In the first place, what
constitutes the essential part of a religion is primarily to
be ascertained with reference to the doctrines of that
religion itself. If the tenets of any religious sect of the
Hindus prescribe that offerings of food should be given to
the idol at particular hours of the day, that periodical
ceremonies should be performed in a certain way at certain
periods of the year or that there should be daily recital of
sacred texts or ablations to the sacred fire, all these
would be regarded as parts of religion and the mere fact
that they involve expenditure of money or employment of
priests and servants or the use of marketable commodities
would not make them secular activities partaking of a
commercial or economic character; all of them are religious.
practices and should be regarded as matters of religion
within the meaning of article 26(b). What article 25(2)(a)
contemplates is not regulation by the State of religious
practices as such, the freedom of which is guaranteed by the
Constitution except when they run counter to public order,
health and morality, but regulation of activities which are
economic, commercial or political in their character though
they are associated with religious practices. We may refer
in this connection to a few American and Australian cases,
all of which arose out of the activities of persons
connected with the religious association known as "Jehova's
Witnesses." This association of persons loosely organised
throughout Australia, U.S.A. and other countries regard the
literal interpretation of the Bible as fundamental to proper
religious beliefs. This belief in the supreme Authority of
the Bible colours many of their political ideas. They
refuse to take oath of allegiance to the king or other
human authority and even to show respect to the national
flag, and they decry all wars between nations and all kinds
of war activities. In 1941 a company of " Jehova's
Witnesses " incorporated in Australia commenced proclaiming
and teaching matters which were prejudicial to war
activities and the defence of the Commonwealth and steps
were taken against them under the National Security
Regulations of the State. The legality of the action of the
Government was questioned by means of a writ petition before
the High Court and the High Court held that the action of
the Government was justified and that section 116, which
guaranteed freedom of religion under the Australian
Constitution, was not in any way infringed by the National
Security Regulations(1). These were undoubtedly political
activities though arising out of religious belief
entertained by a particular community. In such cases, as
Chief Justice Latham pointed out, the provision for
protection of religion was not an absolute protection to be
interpreted and applied independently of other provisions of
the Constitution. These privileges must be reconciled with
the right of the State to employ the sovereign power to
ensure peace, security and orderly living without which
constitutional guarantee of civil liberty would be a
The courts of America were at one time greatly agitated
over the question of legality of a State regulation which
required the pupils in public schools on pain of compulsion
to participate in a daily ceremony of saluting the national
flag, while reciting in unison, a pledge of allegiance to it
in a certain set formula. The question arose in Minersville
School District, Board of Education, etc. v. Gobitis(2). In
that case two small children, Lillian and William Gobitis,
were expelled from the public school of Minersville,
Pennsylvania, for refusing to salute the national flag as
part of the daily exercise. The Gobitis family were
affiliated with "Jehova's Witnesses" and had been
(1) Vide Adelaide Company v. The Commonwealth, 67 C.L.R.,
(2) 310 U.S. 586.
brought up conscientiously to believe that such a gesture of
respect for the flag was forbidden by the scripture. The
point for decision by the Supreme Court was whether the
requirement of participation in such a ceremony exacted from
a child, who refused upon sincere religious ground,
infringed the liberty of religion guaranteed by the First
and the Fourteenth Amendments ? The court held by a majority
that it did not and that it was within the province of the
legislature and the school authorities to adopt appropriate
means to evoke and foster a sentiment of. national unity
amongst the children in public schools. The Supreme Court,
however, changed their views on this identical point in the
later case of West Virginia State Board of Education v.
Barnette(1). There it was held overruling the earlier
decision referred to above that the action of a State in
making it compulsory for children in public schools to
salute the flag and pledge allegiance constituted a
violation of the First and the Fourteenth Amendments. This
difference in judicial opinion brings out forcibly the
difficult task which a court has to perform in cases of this
type where the freedom or religious convictions genuinely
entertained by men come into conflict with the proper
political attitude which is expected from citizens in
matters of unity and solidarity of the State organization.
As regards commercial activities, which are prompted by
religious beliefs, we can cite the case of Murdock v.
Pennsylvania(2). Here also the petitioners were "Jehova's
Witnesses" and they went about from door to door in the city
of Jeannette distributing literature and soliciting people
to purchase certain religious books and pamphlets, all
published by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. A
municipal ordinance required religious colporteurs to pay a
licence tax as a condition to the pursuit of their
activities. The petitioners were convicted and fined for
violation of the ordinance. It was held that the ordinance
in question was invalid under the Federal Constitution as
constituting a denial of freedom of speech, press and
(1) 319 U.S. 624.
(2) 319 U.S. 105.
and it was held further that upon the facts of the case it
could not be said that "Jehova's Witnesses" were engaged in
a commercial rather than in a religious venture. Here
again, it may be pointed out that a contrary view was taken
only a few years before in the case of Jones v. Opelika(1),
and it was held that a city ordinance, which required that
licence be procured and taxes paid for the business of
selling books and pamphlets on the streets from house to
house, was applicable to a member of a religious
Organisation who was engaged in selling the printed
propaganda, pamphlets without having complied with the
provisions of the ordinance.
It is to be noted that both in the American as well as
in the Australian Constitutions the. right to freedom of
religion has been declared in unrestricted terms with. out
any limitation whatsoever. Limitations, therefore, have
been introduced by courts of law in these countries on
grounds of morality, order and social protection. An
adjustment of the competing demands of the interests of
Government and constitutional liberties is always a delicate
and a difficult task and that is why we find difference of
judicial opinion to such an extent in cases decided by the
American courts where questions of religious freedom were
involved. Our Constitution-makers, however, have embodied
the limitations which have been evolved by judicial
pronouncements in America or Australia in the Constitution
itself and the language of articles 25 and 26 is
sufficiently clear to enable us to determine without the aid
of foreign authorities as to what matters come within the
purview of religion and what do not. As we have already
indicated, freedom of religion in our Constitution is not
confined to religious beliefs only; it extends to religious
practices as well subject to the restrictions which the
Constitution itself has laid down. Under article 26(b),
therefore, a religious denomination .or organization enjoys
complete autonomy in the matter of deciding as to what rites
and ceremonies are essential according to the tenets of the
religion they hold and no outside authority has any
(1) 316 U.S. 584.
interfere with their decision in such matters.
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