Re Potala(ka), etc

Sudalaimuthu Palaniappan Palaniappa at AOL.COM
Sat Feb 27 06:49:13 UTC 1999

In a message dated 2/25/99 11:58:25 PM Central Standard Time,
sogbs at CC.NEWCASTLE.EDU.AU writes:

> I don't think we can conclude (on the basis of this passage at any rate)
>  that "Cilappatikaram states unequivocally that Tirupati belongs to
>  TirumAl/Vishnu." (V. Iyer) - at most it establishes that a (fictional)
>  Pandyan Vaishnavite Brahmin at a somewhat indeterminate time might have
>  seen it that way.

The date of 5th century for cilappatikAram is suggested by Kamil Zvelebil
after he discusses all the proposed dates in The Smile of Murugan. The
translation by R. Parthasarathy in 1993 (The Cilappatikaram of Ilanko Atikal
by Columbia University Press) uses the 5th century date also. (Incidentally,
in the story, the Vaishnavite brahmin was from mAGkATu in kuTamalai (western
mountain). He was only visiting and admiring ten2n2avan2 nATu (the kingdom of
the southern one, i.e., the Pandyan)

I agree one should watch for religious bias when interpreting these texts. But
the author of the text cilappatikAram, possibly a Jain, has been very eclectic
and realistic in his portrayal of the adherents of different religions. The
epithets he uses and the details he gives are very valuable. The brahmin of
mAGkATu is not portrayed as a sectarian Vaishnavite. Since Dr. Samuel has
Danielou's translation, I shall illustrate this with some references. When
giving directions to go to Madurai, he describes a junction where the road
divides into three, like the "fierce trident of the god who wears the crescent
moon...". (p. 72) The actual Tamil text is "piRaimuTik kaNNip periyOn2"
meaning "the Great one who wears the crescent moon as a  wreath on the head".
Later he describes the benefits of chanting the pancAkSara and aSTAkSara
mantras and bathing in some ponds on the way (p. 73-74). However, when he
mentions that if they bathe in one of the ponds, they will gain the knowledge
of a text authored by Indra (Aindra vyAkaraNa acc. to commentators) , Kavunti,
the Jain nun refutes him and says that there was no need to do that since the
same knowledge can be had by reading a Jain text. (p. 72 and 74). For an
interesting discussion of cilappatikAram's embracing of humanity as a whole as
opposed to sectarian maNimEkalai, see Manimekalai translated by S. K.
Guruswamy and S. Srinivasan, UVS Library, 1993.

S. Palaniappan

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