Thursday, June 16, 2011



Tamilnadu is very rich in folklore. Stories abound in the hundreds. They may be single stories or compilations. There is a peculiar compilation wherein the stories are found within the main story. Many such compilations are in several formates. 
Somebody telling the story to another person is a favourite  formate. 
Most of the puranas are found in this format.
All the rishis were performing a long series of yagams in the holy forest of Naimisa Aaranya. 
Because the yagams were very complex and of long duration, the rishis wanted to do away with their duress by some form of relaxation.
So they got another rishi called Suutha Munivar to tell them the puranas.
These puranas were later compiled by Vyasa into the 18 major puranas and the 18 minor puranas.
Another story is the Story of Vikramadhithya. The main story starts with King Bhoja excavating the Throne of Vikramadhithya. It has 32 steps which have 32 female figures. 
He is about to ascend the throne when he is stopped by the female figures. Each one of them tells him a story from the life of Vikramadhithya and challenges him whether he 
can equal the exploits and experiences of Vikramadhithya. Among the stories that the figures told was the story of the stories told by Vethala, the demon.
I am compiling some of these old stories for the VisvaComplex. 
I have already written Patti-Vikramaditya, KathaSarith Sagara, and several other vintage stories which form part of our heritage.
Jagadhala Pradapa is one such story.
Some of these stories are really ancient. 
The story of Palzaiyanur Neeli is mentioned in a Thevaram song by ThiruGnyana Sambandhar. He lived sometime around 650 AD. The story was already old at that time.
There are some stories which contain stories within stories. The big story telescopes into other stories and finally one by one gets folded within each other. 
PanchaTantra follows the same pattern.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011



Come to think of it, many scholars and writers have left behind unfinished works. There would have been several reasons why the works were unfinished.

The Thamil Thatha, UVSwaminatha Aiyar had his Tamil education under several scholars. But the most ourtstanding amongst them was MahaVidvan MinatchiSundaram Pillai. UVS has remarked that while the others gave education as if taking a gold coin and examining it carefully and giving it one by one, little by little. But in the case of PiLLai,
he taught as if laying open a treasure chest full of gold and gem stones and letting the student take his fill as much as possible.

The compositions and creations of PiLLai were many.
Among them were - 

22 puranas; 
historical works 2; 
kavyas 2; 
padhikams 4; 
padhiRRu paththu andhaadhi 6; 
thiripandhadhi 4; 
yamaka andhaadhi 3; 
veNbaa andhaadhi 1; 
maalai 10;
piLLai thamilz 10; 
kalambakam 2; 
kOvai 3; 
ula 1; 
thuudhu 2;
kuRavanji 1; 
silEdai veNbaa 1; 
miscellaneous 7.

Apart from these, he has sung separate stanzas and laudatory pieces. These were innumerable. Tamil schoalrs conclude that there are no class of poetry that has not been sung by PiLLai.

He has created his puranas elaborately. They are very lengthy. They would range from 2000 to 10000 verses.
Among the puranas, the best composition is said to be 'Thiru Nagaai KarONa PuraNam'.
He has sung more that 100000 verses. 
Kamban's Ramayana is 12000. 
But MinatchSundaram PiLLai sang more than 100000.
Hence the scholars of his times and soon after, called him as 'Paththu Kamban' - 'Ten Kambans'.
Among all his creations, PiLLai wanted to create a Magnum Opus - his master-piece.
So he started on a work called 'ThiyagaRaasa Leelai'.
It was left unfinished. Had it been completed, it would have been among the best works in the Tamil literary world. He had composed 699 verses. He never proceeded to the 700th.
Many of his students and well-wishers exhorted him to complete the work. But PiLLai would not answer them. He seemed dejected or dissuaded into proceding with the work.

This work was based on the original Sanskrit version. 

The first thirteen and a half chapters of that original version is available. The rest of the originial piece is lost. It was never found. 
Because of this, PiLLai was not able to finish the Tamil version.
The disappointment and unhappiness was always with him till the last.


Monday, June 6, 2011



I have an interesting story to tell. 
Long long ago, while I was doing medicine in Madurai, I also picked up archaeology as a hobby. 
My subject of interest was Parambu Malai of Paari and the adjoining areas. My ancesteral hometown Singampunari is just 3 miles from Parambu Malai which is now called Piranmalai. A thousand and five hundred years ago, it was known as ThiruKodungunRam.  There are many ancient temples and many more destroyed temples and townships. 
One among the totally destroyed entities, was a merchant town - a town which belonged to a merchantile colony - Aruviyur @ Kulasekara Pattinam which was discovered by me. They had a guild called 'Thisai Aayiraththu AinnuuRRuvar' which traded with North India and South East Asia.
The main body of inscriptional evidence came for a temple called Sivapuri. 
One of the noteworthy inscriptions belonged to the 12th year of Vikrama Cholza - around 1132 AD. 
Who was Vikrama Cholza?

Around 1000 AD, the Pandya country was conquered by RajaRaja Cholzar who named it 'RajaRaja Pandi Mandalam'. 
From that time onwards, the Pandya land was under the rule of the Imperial Cholzas who were the descendants of RajaRaja Cholza. His son, Rajendra Cholza I had 3 sons who ruled after him. But there were some mysterious developements and Kulothunga Cholza came to the Cholza throne. He actually belongs to the Eastern Chalukya royal family. But he was the grand son of Rajendra Cholza I through his daughter. 
There were some administrative changes during Kuloththunga's time. 
After him, his fourth son Vikrama Cholza came to power. He ruled from 1120 to 1150. 

In the inscription was a term 'VaaLilaar'.
They were an elite army corps of specialised swordsmen. The Emperor endowed land 
as udhirappatti to the VaaLilaar and also to their servants who do not bear arms. 
Udhirappatti is a grant of taxless cultivated land which would be enjoyed by the descendants of the warrior who died for the Emperor. The land was in lieu of the blood shed by the warrior. Hence the term 'udhirappatti'.
I started my search for the place which was given as 'udhirappatti' and if possible find the descendants of the VaaLilaar army.

In the course of my search, I was told that there is a very small hamlet called 
'Vaal-LLa Chukkaampatti' which even in 1969 did not have buses going to their place. There was no proper road. 
It was quite an interior place with no electricity until a few years ago.
Something struck me as bearing some similarity and connection with the VaaLilaar.

It was a few miles south-west of Singampunari. So I decided to make a visit to the place. 
The people who knew the place told me that there is no road. I will have to cycle parts of the way and mostly I will have to walk. 
I had to pass through Kannamangala Patti and then proceed to Kumari Patti.
Although both of them bear the name 'Patti', Kannamangalam was a big town one thousand years ago. It was a subcapital of the region. The local feudatory had his seat of government there. It also had a big fort. KumariPatti also had a fort. There is a place which people used to identify as 'KOttai'. They used to hold some sort of worship in the place where the 'KOttai' was.
I passed through these places.
I had to cycle there and several miles had be covered pushing the bicycle over the varappus - bunds between rice fields.
On the way, the drinking water finished. And mid-day was fast approaching. Hunger pangs also started.
After losing our way, we were wandering. 
Suddenly, a tall youth appeared. He had long brown hair - what we would call 'sempattai mayir'. And he had pale brown eyes and sharp-cut features. 
He certainly did not look like a typical Tamilian. 
He told me the direction to VaLiiaa Chukkaampatti. 
I was very curious because the youth had a Caucasian look with sharp features. I 
asked him what community he belonged to. He said he was a KOnaar. I have seen some Konars in the neighbourhood of Singampunari who had sharp features with Caucasoid appearances. 
Then we went to VaaLilaa Chukkampatti. We reached the place by afternoon.
This is the area where VaaLilaa Chukkampatti is situated. Within the triangle bounded by Singampunari, Karungalakudi and Thumbaipatti. You can see outlines of a fort/

At last.....

We asked for some water. They gave nice well-water which we drank to our fill. Then they followed up with young coconuts That took care of the intense thirst and hunger.

It was inhabited by a certain caste of people called Val-LLa PiLLaimaar. The whole uRavinmuRai was called 'Vaalulaa-manai'.
The chief of the community was Sundararaja Pillai. 
Again Caucasoid features. If he had had fair skin, he would easily pass for a Greek/Roman or Iranian.
I asked whether he had any copper grants.
He admitted that there was a copper plate given during ancient times. He said nobody can read what is written in the grant.
I asked him whether the land and the village belonged to them.
He answered that a very large tract of land once belonged to them, given by the 'RaasaakkaL' during their time. But the predominating community from the surrounding area appropriated all the land. 
It is true. it was a very large area belonging to that predominating community.
In the middle of this area was this tiny island of Vaal-LLa Pillaimaar.
They said they were a branch of a community called KaaraaLar. 
The KaaraaLar were another mysterious people of unknown antiquity with connections to a very important branch of the Tamil ruling class.
The Val-LLa piLLaimaar were the descendants of the VaaLilaar warriors who were awarded by Vikrama Cholza.
They were still around after 900 years.
Thats how I discovered a lost 'community'.

Now coming to the copper plate.....

It was in a worn out state. It seems that the owners had been polishing it on and off.
The letters were not clear. They kept it in pujai. 

But they had other edu leave records of later times where the name 'Vaalilaa PiLLaimaar' was mentioned. 

I told them that they were the descendants of warriors and there was an inscription in Sivapuri temple.

I did not tell them anything more because it would start an intercaste war. Probably 
they might get annihilated by the predominating communities surrounding them, if they knew that Vikrama Cholza, the son of Kuloththunga Cholza I, had given the large tract of land. 
It corresponds to what  SundaraRaja Pillai said, "The land was given by the RaasaakkaL".
This happened sometime before 1972. 
I left for Malaysia in 1973.

One man wrote a Thesis on Singampunari SevugaPerumaL Temple based on my valuable findings for his M.A., sometime in 1986. My brother's daughter used my discovery 
of Aruviyur for her M.A. thesis. Earlier, a present day professor of Tamil in Tiruchi made 
use of my Parambu Malai research for his Ph.D. Another one used it for M.A.Thesis. 
Another one used the stuff about the merchant community of Aruviyur for his thesis. 

In 2000, when I went to India, I was visited by a few scholars. One of them wanted 
the material on VaaLilaar because he was doing a research.
So we may have something on VaLilaar after all these years.

Sunday, June 5, 2011



The Grand Old Man of Tamil - UVSaminatha Aiyar was the student of MeenatchiSundaram Pillai of Thiruchi. 

 UVS Aiyar was staying with the Mahavidvan for 4 years until the PiLLai passed away. 

During the time, UVS Aiyar picked up a lot of information about various things from the PiLLai.  

Gangai Konda CholzaPuram was a freshly built capital city of the Cholzas. It was built from scratch by Rajendra Cholza I when he came to the throne. It remained the Cholza capital until the last days of the Imperial Cholza dynasty.

He built a very large and beautiful city with a huge temple dedicated to Siva. This was to commemorate his victory in his Ganga Campaign. The temple received a Mangala Saasanam from the great Siddhar Karuvur Thevar who was the Guru of his father RajaRaja Cholzar.
He also excavated a huge reservoir of fresh water. The city, the temple and the reservoir were all sanctified by the holy water brought in golden vessels from the Gnaga River. The vessels were said to have been carried on the heads of the kings of the captured countries.

On one occassion, Pillai took his students along with him when he went to stay with one of his relatives - Arumugam Pillai of Patteeswaram.
On the way to Patteeswaram, Pillai and his entourage passed the village of GangaiKonda Cholzapuram.
Pillai told them about the grandeur once possessed by GKCPuram. 
He took them to a spot in the fields called 'MaaLigai Medu'. It was a platform-like structure. Now it is paddy field.

Pillai told them that this was the site of the palace of the Cholzas. Hence it was called 'MaaLigai MEdu'.
The MaLigai MEdu is about one mile by one and a half mile in dimensions. 
There was another place called 'Cholzan MaaLigai'. In one place there were two walls. The walls was about the height of two palmyra trees. That would be about 60 feet or twenty metres in height. No buildings or edifices were seen. 
At a later stage the wall was broken down and the bricks were auctioned off.
The palace complex must have been someting of this size. Was it just one palace that was of this immensity or was it a palace complex? That would be million dollar question. 
But there were other palaces also. 
The main palace was in the city centre.
But at the present time, little remains. Much of the bricks have been taken away for other building works.
The Archeological Department did seem to have done any worthwhile excavation work in this place. 
My Kadaram Research includes the Kadaram Naval Campaign of Rajendra Cholza. GKCPuram was built by him. 
Hence my research also involves GKCPuram along with Kadaram.
I have been collecting facts and making notes about Kadaram and Naval Campaign and GKCPuram for nearly 45 years.
My postings in Agathiyar about GKCPuram, PalzaiyaaRai, Nandipuram and RajaRajaPuri were all derived from these notes.
I was going through the notes and came across some interesting information.
I willl put them up with newer comments later.

Saturday, June 4, 2011



A long time ago, when I was doing historical and archeological research as a favourite hobby, I noticed a great many things that struck me.
One among them was 'name changes'.
I noticed that a particular region or province was called 'kEraLasinga vaLanAdu'. During the time of the rule of Kulothunga Cholza I and Vikrama Cholza, it was called Rajendra Cholza VaLanaadu. Pandya nadu was renamed as RajaRaja PandiMandalam. 'NirupaseKhara ChathurvEdimangalam' was called 'CholzaMarthanda ChathurVedimangalam'. An irrigation lake was called 'SriKundhavai pErEri'. A canal leading from it was called 'KarikAl ChOlza vAykkAl'.
I gave a name for this process of making everything Cholza. I called it ChOliyanisation'. 
       There was an Archeological Seminar organised by Tamilnadu Archeological Department and another one by Madurai University which were held at Madurai in 1971. I submited a paper where I mentioned about this process of Cholianiation. 
Later on I found in a few books something on the same phenomenon. One of the authors had given the name 'Cholaisation'. One author went to the extent of called it 'Cholification'.
It all meant the same thing. 
RajaRaja Cholza tried very hard to subdue the Pandyas. The Pandyas had a network of Pandyas. There were five of them ruling over different parts of the country at any one time. They were bothers or paternal uncles. They were not distinct collateral branches. Fathers brothers or own brothers held the four rulerships. The Big Chief ruled at Madurai. 
They had their head-quarters at different parts of the country. Madurai, Kilzaikarai, Thirunelveli, Thiruvadanai, and ThenKasi. They had standing armies at all these places. Furthermore they had faithful feudatories who pledged fealty to their overlords. 
Even though the Cholzas tried very hard for more than one hundred years, they had very little success against the Pandyas. Finally RajaRaja succeeded. But even then Manabharana Pandya and others escaped and waged limited wars of attrition upon the Cholza. 
Ulimately Rajendra Cholza captured the country and subdued it.
He hated the Pandyas and their country so very much that he imposed very harsh terms and subjected them to the utmost cruelty, insult, and humiliation. Their treasures were also taken away. 
Then he took a very extreme measure.
He erased out the dynasty of the Pandyas. 
In their place, he created a new dynasty. The sons of the Cholza emperor became the rulers of the Pandya country. They adopted the Pandya name and Pandya titles - Sundara Cholza Pandya, etc. Hence they were known as the 'Cholza Pandya Viceroys'.