Madhava, Vidyaranya, Sringeri, and Kulke

Swaminathan Madhuresan smadhuresan at YAHOO.COM
Fri Jun 9 15:34:24 UTC 2000

> >    A good model is the one proposed by Stein for the Chola heartland
> >(Brahmin-Vellala alliance), the relations and accommodations between
> >the two groups is mutual.

Dr. Vidyasankar:
> Mutual perhaps, but unequal nonetheless. The whole notion of redistribution
> of ritual honors and economic resources depends in a crucial way upon a
> perceived preeminence of the Brahmin. And Stein's model may not be
> applicable for other parts of the country or for a different time period.

 I have read many publications which accept or modify the peasant-priest
alliance theory to the entire gamut of early medieval kingdoms in India.
In K. Veluthat, The political structure of early medieval south India,
this theory plays the center of discussion on the nature of State in Pallava,
Pandya, Cera and Chola polities.

 History of India, Kulke/Rothermund, Routledge, 1998, p. 92
notes the importance of the brahmin in those the early medieval era.
"Brahmin families who continued to transmit sacred texts orally
from one generation to another were certainly of great importance
in this context. They penetrated the South peacefully and made an
impact by setting an example rather than by converting people. [...]
Brahmins provided a justification and legitimation for the hierarchical
structuring of society which was particularly useful to local rulers
who emerged from a tribal status. The Brahmins brought along the
ideology of Hindu kingship which such rulers eagerly adopted.
The Brahmins literally put the tribal people in their place."
Note that the authors use the tribal chiefs and priests for the
whole of south india, not just the limiting themselves to
the chola realm.

After the defeat of Harsha by Chalukya Pulakesin II, the medieval era
of India dawns sparkling with many regional powers sanctified by Brahmins.
This character changes only after the advent of Muslims in the North.
The Brahmin role in the legitimization of Indian kings, big or small
is high in this period. Kulke/Rothermund, p. 120
" Kings, Princes and Priests: The structure of Hindu realms

 The survey of the development of several important Indian dynasties
has shown some basic structural similarities in these medieval kingdoms.
Ever since the days of the Guptas the style to be followed by a
Hindu ruler was fairly well set. The Maharaja, be his realm large
or small, had emerged as a distinct cultural type. The spread of this
style across the subcontinent and on to Souteast Asia was due not only to
direct imitation but also to the transmission of its values by the
Brahmins who acted as royal advisors and priests to the royal families
or to the many temples established by means of royal patronage."

An excellent summary of the abovesaid alliance is in the section:
"The Brahmins and the ritual sovereignity of the king".
Not just the Rajarajesvara temple of the Cholas,
the Khajuraho temple, Udaipur temple of the North Indian Paramaras,
and Bhubanesvar, Puri temples are included in the analysis.
p. 128
"Wheres previously single families or, at the most, small groups
had received such grants, the records of te tenth and eleventh centuries
suddenly mention large numbers of Brahmins. A ruler of the Gahadavala
dynasty, for instance, granted one and a half revenue districts with
more than a hundred villages to 500 Brahins in 1093 and 1100."

" The settlement of Brahmins and the establishment of royal temples
served the purpose of creating a new network of ritual,political
and economic relations. [...] More and more resources were diverted to
the Brahmins and temples, and thus were not available for other
urgent tasks ..."

The propagation and transmission of Sankaran texts was fostered
to a large extent by these royal grants establishing Brahmadeyas
in all of India and the Brahmin-Kings alliance.


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