Corroboration for the Tamil Confederacy mentioned by Kharavela

Alfred Hiltebeitel beitel at GWU.EDU
Mon Sep 28 14:26:14 UTC 2009

Great, circles upon circles, all closing in. Thank god for the Kalabhras!!!

Alf Hiltebeitel
Professor of Religion and Human Sciences
Department of Religion
2106 G Street, NW
George Washington University
Washington DC 20052

----- Original Message -----
From: "Mahadevan, Thennilapuram" <tmahadevan at HOWARD.EDU>
Date: Sunday, September 27, 2009 3:34 pm
Subject: Re: Corroboration for the Tamil Confederacy mentioned by Kharavela

> 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
>  To: INDOLOGY at
>  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.
>  Regards,
>  S.  Palaniappan 

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