Chola memorial temples

Wed May 6 23:29:19 EDT 1998

The following are few words of the foremost authority
on Chola temples. PallippaDai temples are built over
Chola mortal remains.

N. Ganesan
S. R. Balsubrahmanyam, Early Chola Art, part I, Asia
Publishing house, 1966 p.18-
"There are also a number of memorial (sepulchral) tomb
temples called paLLippaDai or samAdhi-kOyil. The earliest
epigraphical reference to the building of a pallippadai
is found in an inscription of the 8th year of Vijaya
Kampavarman (886 A.D.) from Cholapuram (429 of 1902 and
EI, vii, p.193). It mentions that Rajaditya,  a member
of the Gangeya vamsa bilingual and a subordinate Chief under
Pallava Vijaya Kampavarman, built a memorial Siva temple and
a tomb in memory of his deceased father Prithvigangaraiyar. The
inscription is bilingual. The sanskrit part gives a
part of the genealogy of the Gangas descended from Kongunivarman,
and the tamil part records that Rajaditya built a palippadai
Siva temple in memory of his father and a tomb where his
mortal remains were interred. Here are the relevant lines:
'Ko visaya kamparkku yaaNDu eTTaavatu pritivigangaraiyar
atitar aayina piRpaaDu tatputra Rajadityan Mahadevan
tam appanaarai *paLLippaDutta iDattu* Isvara aalayamum,
atita graramum (grihamum?) eDuppittuk kaNDu (ndu)

The use of the expression *paLLippaDutta - iDattu* is
siginficant. It means the place where the dead was laid
to eternal rest - a tomb where the bones of the dead were
buried. It seems to have been the practice to bury the dead
in a tomb and also erect a memorial temple in memory of
the dead. (The Ramayana of Valmiki mentions the
'Smasana Chaitya')

Other important examples are the pallippaDai temples built
by Parantaka I in honor of Aditya I/Kodandaraman/Tondaimaan
Arruur Tunjina Devar alias Arinjaya at Melpadi built by Rajaraja I
in his 29th regnal year (1014 AD) in memory of his grandfather
Arinjaya who died at Arruur- which name seems to refer to
Melpadi itself, on the banks of the Niva or Ponni river.

"AaRRuur tuJcina tEvarkku paLLippaDaiyaaka Sri Rajaraja
Devar eDuppittaruLina tiru-ariJcikai-iicuvaram"

The devaraja cult in Indo-china and Indonesia:

In an excellent guidebook, G. Coedes has devoted two chapters
to the institution in Cambodia similar to that of paLLippaDai
prevalent S. India. He holds that the great majaority of
the statues of "siva, Vishnu, Buddha and other deities found in Cambodia
were really representations of kings, princes and other
dignitaries in the form of the gods into whom they expected
to be absorbed at the end of their earthly existence.
The "royal essence" was supposed to reside in a linga, or a statue
of siva, vishnu or buddha. What the body was to a person
while alive, that the temple became after the lifetime, namely,
the architectural abode of the God-King. The communion
between the king and the god tookplace thru' the mediation of
the priest on the sacred mountain in the center of the capital.
The devaraja became the palladium of the kingdom. And this
custom prevailed in Cambodia from about the 9th century AD
(if not earlier) to at least the end of the 12th century AD.

But on account of the despoliation of the monuments by
treasure-hunters, Coedes was unable to establish beyond
doubt if the corpse was interred, or if, as in modern
Cambodia or Thailand, the ashes or bones were enclosed
in an urn after cremation and the urn deposited in a pagoda.
However, he concludes that the monuments from the time
of Jayavarman VII were temples as well as tombs, and ends by
saying that "Angkor Wat was the final habitation of a
being who enjoyed certain devine prerogatives during
his life, and whom death had transformed into a god.
It was a funerary temple".

The epigraphical evidence in S. India confirms such a
conclusion. The Cholapuram inscription of the 9th
century mentions clearly both an Isvara-alyam
and an atita griham. Usually such funerary temples
were erected over the places of burial of the mortal
remains of ascetics, saints ans sages. One of the latest and most popular
of such funerary temples in S. India is the that of the
great musician-saint Tyagaraja, on the banks of the river Kaveri.

We know that the cultural drift was generally from India to SE Asia.
But we do not know whether the personality or devaraja cult had an earlier
common origin or was an outflow from India or had an independent
parallel development in the two regions. We have to
suspend judgement till such time as we get more light on this
question, and meanwhile, rest satisfied with the knowledge that
similar cults were in existence more or less in the same period
in the land bordering Bay of Bengal, tho' the devaraja cult
of SE asia had its own pecuiar development with its own
individualistic features of its own".


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