Corroboration for the Tamil Confederacy mentioned by Kharavela
tmahadevan at HOWARD.EDU
Sun Sep 27 19:29:39 UTC 2009
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?
From: Indology [INDOLOGY at liverpool.ac.uk] On Behalf Of Sudalaimuthu Palaniappan [Palaniappa at AOL.COM]
Sent: Monday, August 31, 2009 12:25 AM
To: INDOLOGY at liverpool.ac.uk
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
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.
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