Corroboration for the Tamil Confederacy mentioned by Kharavela

Mahadevan, Thennilapuram tmahadevan at HOWARD.EDU
Sun Sep 27 19:29:39 UTC 2009

Hello Palaniappan:
I just got back from India by was of Kyoto and World Sanskrit Conference.

I find this article very interesting and stimulating.  It has helped me clarify the "mUvEndar" idea,in the Sangam period.  Would you place the CEras at Karur?

Best, TP 
From: Indology [INDOLOGY at] On Behalf Of Sudalaimuthu Palaniappan [Palaniappa at AOL.COM]
Sent: Monday, August 31, 2009 12:25 AM
Subject: Re: Corroboration for the Tamil Confederacy mentioned by Kharavela

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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