Corroboration for the Tamil Confederacy mentioned by Kharavela

Sudalaimuthu Palaniappan Palaniappa at AOL.COM
Mon Aug 31 04:25:42 UTC 2009

Here are some further  thoughts on akam 31. 
At a minimum, akam 31  firmly establishes that the Classical Tamil poems 
like it are of the  pre-Kalabhra and pre-Pallava period since that region was 
never under the  control of the three Tamil dynasties at the same time 
during and after the  Kalabhra period. mAmUlan2Ar did not seem to have been 
patronized by the Pandyas.  Of the 30 poems sung by him, only one mentions 
Pandyas as a dynasty. It does not  even mention a specific Pandya king. If 
anything, mAmUlan2Ar was probably a  resident of northern Tamil Nadu based on the 
details he gives for various  chieftains and areas of the northern Tamil 
region as well as non-Tamil  speaking people in the border regions.  
Also, as one looks at  the textual and epigraphic data, the existence of an 
earlier Tamil confederacy  becomes more and more certain. Consider for 
example the following Classical  Tamil poem. 
potumai cuTTiya mUvar  ulakamum 
potumai in2Ri  ANTicin2Orkkum                           (puRam 357.2-3) 
“Even for kings who  ruled alone the land that was said to be (ruled in) 
common by the three  kings…” 
Another poem  says 
taN  tamiz potu en2a poRAan2 ... (puRam  51.5) 
“He  will not bear (to hear) the saying that the cool Tamil land is ruled 
in common”  
The  poems clearly point to an earlier view of the Tamil land being shared 
by the  three kings ’mUventar’. In other words, it was a land of three 
states (or  tri-state) in one common Tamil nation. Even though there were 
chieftains like  atiyamAn2 and malaiyamAn2  in the  northern regions, the use of 
mUvar in association with rulers only referred to  the three lineages of 
Chera, Chola, and Pandya. This is also seen in the  following puRam lines sung 
by veLLaikkuTi nAkan2Ar in praise of Chola  kiLLivaLavan2.. 
…taN  tamizk kizavar 
muracu  muzagku tAn2ai mUvar uLLum 
aracu  en2appaTuvatu nin2aE… (puRam 35.3-5) 
"of  (the kingdoms of) the three owners of the cool Tamil land with armies 
with  resounding drums yours alone can be called a real kingdom." 
Thus  “tamiz kezu mUvar” of mAmUlan2Ar and “tamizk kizavar…mUvar” of 
veLLaikkuTi  nAkan2Ar refer  to the same threeTamil dynasties.  
mAmUlan2Ar  sings about the famous fierce battle between the Chola king 
KarikAlan2 and Chera  king cEralAtan2 as something in the past in akam 55. But 
he talks about all  three kings protecting the northern frontier of Tamil 
region in the present. It  looks as if Tamil confederacy continued even after 
there were some famous  battles among the three kings. There are also 
occasions -good and bad- when the  three kings come together as in puRam 367 when 
auvaiyAr compares the three kings  to three Vedic fires or when kapilar 
advises them in puRam 110 against their  siege of chieftain pAri’s hill. In 
puRam 58, kArikkaNNan2Ar praises the  friendship of the Chola king and Pandya 
king as following the tradition of the  ancient ones and wishes that they 
incise their symbols of tiger and carp  together on the hills of their enemies. 
Earlier  scholars like K. B. Pathak (Epigraphia Indica 9.205) have 
translated  'trairAjya' in South Indian Sanskrit inscriptions and literary texts as 
"the  confederacy of three kings". Pathak quotes a commentary of Adipurana 
which  explains trairAjya as meaning "Chola , Kerala and Pandya".  The  fact 
that the royal officials of Pandya, and Chola  continued to be given  the 
title mUvEntavELAn2 as late as 13th century CE (where the prefix mUvEnta-  
refers to the three Tamil kings), almost a millennium after the three kingdoms  
ceased to have any semblance of a confederacy, indicates the vestigial  
notions that must have been developed during the days of the  confederacy. 
Possibly  after the Tamil country comes under the rule of Kalabhras, 
iLaGkO, a Chera  prince and the author of cilappatikAram, the famous Tamil epic, 
seems to look  back nostalgically at the bygone era of Tamil confederacy and 
recreates it in  the actions of ceGkuTTuvan2, the Chera king. In 
patiRRuppattu, a Classical Tamil  text dealing with the Chera dynasty, no Chera king is 
described as having  incised all three Tamil emblems (carp, bow, and tiger) 
on the Himalayas. Only  the bow was incised by a Chera king. iLaGko 
incorporates the spirit of puRam 58  and makes ceGkuTTuvan2 incise all three signs. 
There are other features  in the text which shows that iLaGkO presents a 
unified Tamil nation  and ceGkuTTuvan2 as representing a Tamil ‘confederacy.’ 
Kamil  Zvelebil calls cilappatikAram “the first consciously national work 
of Tamil  literature, the literary evidence of the fact that the Tamils had 
by that time  attained nationhood.” Actually this view should be revised to 
state that it was  the last outpouring of the longing for a nation of Tamils 
ruled in common  by the three kings, which had ceased to exist much earlier. 
Thereafter,  the Pandyas and Cholas seem to have ruled as Pandyas and 
Cholas and not as  Tamils sharing a common Tamil realm (even though they 
patronized Tamil (along  with Sanskrit) and Velvikkudi plates praise a post-Kalabhra 
Pandya king as  having incised the carp, tiger, and bow emblems on a tall 
mountain). Also, when  periyapurANam 4169.1 composed by the minister of 
Kulottunga Chola II of  12th century CE mentions “mUvEntar  tamiz vazagku 
nATTukku appAl” (“beyond the country where Tamil of the three  kings is prevalent”
), we again seem to see a vestigial reference to the  earlier confederacy 
ruling over the common Tamil nation. 
S.  Palaniappan

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