The Lost temple of INDIA : Mysteries of Asia(Video)

The Mysteries of Asia three-part video series was originally produced for the Learning Channel. During this segment, historians and others examine temples built in India more than 1,000 years ago. They remain quite intriguing, though today’s tourists rarely visit them. Records reveal that trained elephants had to drag millions of stone blocks to help erect these structures. The program notes that due to the temples’ size, the U.S. Senate, Versailles, the Houses of Parliament, and St. Paul’s Basilica in Rome could all fit within a single one of them. Michael Bell narrates as footage and animated maps are used to help viewers learn more about what these ancient structures look like and why they were built. Asia is a continent steeped in ancient cultures, religions, and buildings. In this intriguing program, we are transported to this exotic land and examine the mysteries behind some of the most fascinating structures found there. Southern India has the largest temple complexes ever built. In “Lost Temples of India”, we examine these 1,000-year-old temples adorned with intricate and beautiful sculptures. We learn how the kings used large herds of trained elephants to drag the millions of stone blocks into place and how these temples are virtually unknown and unvisited by Western tourists. Truth or fiction, the stories of Mysteries of Asia will amaze and delight.

The Lost temple of INDIA – part 1/6

The Lost temple of INDIA – part 2/6

The Lost temple of INDIA – part 3/6

The Lost temple of INDIA – part 4/6

The Lost temple of INDIA – part 5/6

The Lost temple of INDIA – part 6/6



The fact that I can plant a seed and it becomes a flower, share a bit of knowledge and it becomes another’s, smile at someone and receive a smile in return, are to me continual spiritual exercises

Leo.F. Buscaglia

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Filed under Tami Country, Temple

The Lost temple of INDIA : Mysteries of Asia

The Mysteries of Asia three-part video series was originally produced for the Learning Channel. During this segment, historians and others examine temples built in India more than 1,000 years ago. They remain quite intriguing, though today’s tourists rarely visit them. Records reveal that trained elephants had to drag millions of stone blocks to help erect these structures. The program notes that due to the temples’ size, the U.S. Senate, Versailles, the Houses of Parliament, and St. Paul’s Basilica in Rome could all fit within a single one of them. Michael Bell narrates as footage and animated maps are used to help viewers learn more about what these ancient structures look like and why they were built. Asia is a continent steeped in ancient cultures, religions, and buildings. In this intriguing program, we are transported to this exotic land and examine the mysteries behind some of the most fascinating structures found there. Southern India has the largest temple complexes ever built. In “Lost Temples of India”, we examine these 1,000-year-old temples adorned with intricate and beautiful sculptures. We learn how the kings used large herds of trained elephants to drag the millions of stone blocks into place and how these temples are virtually unknown and unvisited by Western tourists. Truth or fiction, the stories of Mysteries of Asia will amaze and delight.

When people think of India, they think of the Taj Mahal, Shāh Jahān’s eternal memorial dedicated to his wife Mumtāz Mahal. But there is a more ancient and secret India hidden deep in its tropical jungles, with one of the greatest building efforts in the human [record]. History has produced thousands of strange and mysterious temples that are today lost and forgotten. This is India’s Deep South, a land of emerald green rice fields and immense palm forests, where every few miles temples soar toward the heavens in the countryside.

Here, over a thousand year ago, 985 AD to be exact, Rajaraja Cholan became King of the Chola Dynasty. His original name was Arunmozhivarman, and his title was Rajakesari Varman or Mummudi-Sola-Deva. He was the second son of the Parantaka Cholan II.

His capital was the city of Thanjavur. Thanjavur was the royal city of the Cholas, Nayaks, and the Mahrattas. Thanjavur derives its name from Tanjan-an asura (giant), who according to local legend devastated the neighbourhood and was killed by Sri Anandavalli Amman and the God Vishnu.

Rajaraja Cholan was one of the greatest kings of India, and in the south he embarked on one of the largest building plans in the history of mankind that still continues till this day. He and his successors moved more stone then the great pyramid of Giza.

The extent of the Temple Grounds is so large that over 200 Taj Mahal’s can fit into it.

You might ask why Rajaraja Cholan built all these temples. Well, it was the same motive that built Europe’s cathedrals and Egypt’s pyramids. He was moved by the power of faith. You have to understand one thing about India: this is a land with almost as many gods as people, and it believes all life to be sacred; even a humble ant has its place. Gods are worshiped differently here than in Europe. During festivals, for example, the gods are taken from their shrines and paraded around in the temple grounds, their costumes are changed at the end of the day, and they are put to bed for a few hours rest at night.

Generally, it’s believed that if these and other rituals are performed perfectly, then it’s going to be more beneficial for you, so that’s why rituals are taken very seriously and they are memorized rigorously by priests. These rituals hardly if ever change with the passage of time. For any religion, anywhere in the world, including Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and so on – to flourish it helps to have friends in high places, like kings or very wealthy benefactors. For Hinduism, with its vast temples and thousands of priests, friends in high places are absolutely essential. Rajaraja was one of the greatest patrons of arts and religion in India’s long history.

And this was his start, the great temple of Bragatheeswarar.

It’s one of the most amazing buildings in India. It’s 10 times taller than anything built before it, and not only is it huge, but it’s made of granite, one of the hardest stones in the world. The inner shrine under the large tower contains a large phallus-shaped stone, called a ‘Ling’, which represents the god Shiva, one of the most powerful and popular gods, and also one of the three gods of the Holy Trinity that began, runs, and ultimately ends this universe, only to start all over again. The phallus-shaped ‘Ling’ which is Shiva is 12 feet in height and 5 feet in diameter. Every day the priests dress Shiva, and wash him with milk. This has been going on since the creation of the temple and it still goes on today in an unbroken chain for the past thousand years.

To build temples like these required huge amounts of money, and the easiest way to get it was by attacking your weaker neighbors. Rajaraja began his career with the conquest of the Chera country. He defeated Chera King Bhaskara Ravivarman, whose fleet he destroyed in the port of Kandalur. He also seized Pandya Amara Bhujanga, and captured the port of Vilinam. By his campaign against the Singhalees, he annexed northern Ceylon (modern day Sri Lanka), and built a number of stone temples in the Ceylonese capital Polonnaruva. Most of his triumphs were achieved by the fourteenth year of his reign (AD 998-999). Rajaraja assumed the title “Mummudi Cholan” and moved his capital from Anuradhapura to Polonnaruva. The Chola culture and Shiva religion permeated the whole of Ceylon.

Having thus realized his cherished military glories, in or about 1003 AD Rajarajan sheathed his sword and turned his thoughts toward a life of peace. It was about this time, that the Chidambaram temple authorities bestowed on him the title of “Sri Rajarajan”.

India is a huge country and it has a very diverse climate. Eastern India is a desert, while the western part receives the highest rainfall in the world. Central India is a huge plateau covering four modern states. Warfare in India was a very different affair in each climatic region, with one common element throughout: the war elephants.

In the jungles of South India, Rajaraja had an ample supply of elephants for his war effort. Now, wild elephants might seem the right candidates to become war elephants, but they are actually very docile, only attacking when provoked. Only the biggest, fiercest, and fittest tusked males could be used as war elephants. Ancient elephant trainers, or “mahouts” (still called by this name today), made a stockade and drove elephant herds into a funnel that led them inside. As recently as the 1960s, the same method was used to capture elephants as in Rajaraja’s day, except they were used then for labor instead of war. The ancient mahouts picked the strongest bulls among the herds to be trained for the battlefields. The rest became working elephants, used for heavy lifting and transporting heavy objects for construction projects. The mahouts controlled the war elephants by getting them drunk on fermented rice liquor, called “makar”, before every battle. The elephants could literally slice their way through a battlefield with razor-sharp blades attached to their trunks. From the top of the elephants, spear throwers, generals, or archers could rain down death on the people below. Despite these advantages, elephants are very hard to control. Instinctively, they don’t favor killing people en masse. Only the legendary skill of the mahouts could make them do so. It is interesting to note, just like the Roman legions we know, the names of over 70 regiments in the ancient Indian army that distinguished themselves in battle are known because the names are inscribed in the temples – like the
Ilaiya-Rajaraja-terinda-Valangai-Velaikkarar, Parivarameykappargal (a regiment of Personal Bodyguards), Mummadi- Chola-terinda-Anaippagar (a regiment of the Elephant Corps). The surnames or titles of the king or of his son are usually prefixed before the regiment’s name, possibly as a sign of attachment after a regiment distinguished itself in a battle or other engagement. It would be considerably honorable and prestigious to be in the king’s own regiment.

After Rajaraja secured a good supply of money, he started construction on his Temple of Bragatheeswarar. The quarry that supplied the granite was over 50 miles away from the temple site. Most of the stones were moved with boats, but some much heavier stones, like the 81.3-ton capstone at the summit of the tower, were moved with a combination of ramps and elephants. The remains of the original ramps still exist today after a thousand years, indicating a gentle 6-degree slope pointing toward the top of the temple. The ramp began 1 mile from the temple, and gradually intersected with the top of the tower 216 feet in the air. Stones were moved from the quarry to the ramp, and up the ramp, with elephants pulling the stones over wooden rollers, much the same as the way ancient Egyptians built the pyramids.

You’d think Rajaraja was crazy going to so much trouble to make just a temple, but let me explain. Rajaraja was a very religious man, and he was caught between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, his religion forbade him to kill, and on the other hand, to be a successful king he had to make war on his neighbors for his people’s sake – otherwise his kingdom would be weak and easily overrun. So he was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of his enemies. He firmly believed as do all Hindu’s today in rebirth and reincarnation, and that your actions in this life will determine your lot in the next one. Given the blood on Rajaraja’s hands, he might come back as a worm or something even worse. So he spent fabulous amounts of money on his temples. As one example, it’s written in an inscription that it took 4,000 cows, 7,000 goats, and 30 buffalos just to supply the butter required for the lamps that were lit in the temple and temple grounds. And this was just one temple. Rajaraja provided for hundreds of temples that he created just to insure that he kept his karma in good standing. By his generosity, he hoped the gods would overlook his transgressions and be persuaded to reincarnate him as something better than a worm.

Indian religion during Rajaraja’s time also spread across other lands. That’s why in the steaming jungles of Cambodia, the temples of Angkor Wat don’t depict Cambodian gods, but the gods of India. Not only did religion spread, but also art. When Europe was languishing in the Dark Ages, the artists in the Chola Empire were making bronze statues like the famous Nathraja shown below.

This is Shiva, who appears as Nathraja, the Lord of the Dance, simultaneously crushing the dwarf of ignorance under his foot, beating the drum of creation, unleashing the fires of destruction and finally raising one hand in assurance, telling us to fear not. Near Thanjavur, artists still create bronzes as they did in Rajaraja’s time, placing mud from the Kavari River on a hand carved wax statue to create a mold. After that, they pour molten bronze or gold into the mold and let it cool to take the shape of the statue.

Some Examples of Indian Art

When Rajaraja died in 1014, he left behind him a shining legacy that made him one of the greatest patrons of art and religion in India. The Chola Dynasty ended with King Rajendra Chola III, the last Chola king. The last recorded date of Rajendra III is 1279 AD. There is no evidence that Rajendra was followed immediately by another Chola prince. The Chola empire was completely overshadowed by the Pandyan empire, though many small chieftains continued to claim the title “Chola” well into 15th century.

This is a mural showing Rajaraja, drawn during his reign, showing him in red standing behind his guru. If you have seen a picture of the god Shiva, you might find similarities with the hair style of Rajaraja. It must be noted that some archeologists dispute whether this is actually Rajaraja or not.

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“”The fact that I can plant a seed and it becomes a flower, share a bit of knowledge and it becomes another’s, smile at someone and receive a smile in return, are to me continual spiritual exercises””

Leo.F. Buscaglia

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Kumari Kandam- The Lost Continent(குமரிக்கண்டம்)


“Lemuria” in Tamil nationalist mysticist literature, connecting Madagascar, South India and Australia (covering most of the Indian Ocean). Mount Meru stretches southwards from Sri Lanka. The distance from Madagascar to Australia is about 4,200 miles

Kumari Kandam or Lemuria (Tamil:குமரிக்கண்டம்) is the name of a supposed sunken landmass referred to in existing ancient Tamil literature. It is said to have been located in the Indian Ocean, to the south of present-day Kanyakumari district at the southern tip of India.

References in Tamil literature

There are scattered references in Sangam literature, such as Kalittokai 104, to how the sea took the land of the Pandiyan kings, upon which they conquered new lands to replace those they had lost. There are also references to the rivers Pahruli and Kumari, that are said to have flowed in a now-submerged land. The Silappadhikaram, a 5th century epic, states that the “cruel sea” took the Pandiyan land that lay between the rivers Pahruli and the mountainous banks of the Kumari, to replace which the Pandiyan king conquered lands belonging to the Chola and Chera kings (Maturaikkandam, verses 17-22). Adiyarkkunallar, a 12th century commentator on the epic, explains this reference by saying that there was once a land to the south of the present-day Kanyakumari, which stretched for 700 kavatam from the Pahruli river in the north to the Kumari river in the south. As the modern equivalent of a kavatam is unknown, estimates of the size of the lost land vary from 1,400 miles (2,300 km) to 7,000 miles (11,000 km) in length, to others suggesting a total area of 6-7,000 square miles, or smaller still an area of just a few villages.

This land was divided into 49 nadu, or territories, which he names as seven coconut territories (elutenga natu), seven Madurai territories (elumaturai natu), seven old sandy territories (elumunpalai natu), seven new sandy territories (elupinpalai natu), seven mountain territories (elukunra natu), seven eastern coastal territories (elukunakarai natu) and seven dwarf-palm territories (elukurumpanai natu). All these lands, he says, together with the many-mountained land that began with KumariKollam, with forests and habitations, were submerged by the sea.Two of these Nadus or territories were supposedly parts of present-day Kollam and Kanyakumari districts.

None of these texts name the land “Kumari Kandam” or “Kumarinadu”, as is common today. The only similar pre-modern reference is to a “Kumari Kandam” (written குமரிகண்டம், rather than குமரிக்கண்டம் as the land is called in modern Tamil), which is named in the medieval Tamil text Kantapuranam either as being one of the nine continents, or one of the nine divisions of India and the only region not to be inhabited by barbarians. 19th and 20th Tamil revivalist movements, however, came to apply the name to the territories described in Adiyarkkunallar’s commentary to the Silappadhikaram. They also associated this territory with the references in the Tamil Sangams, and said that the fabled cities of southern Madurai and Kapatapuram where the first two Sangams were said to be held were located on Kumari Kandam.

In Tamil national mysticism

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Tamil nationalists came to identify Kumari Kandam with Lemuria, a hypothetical “lost continent” posited in the 19th century to account for discontinuities in biogeography. In these accounts, Kumari Kandam became the “cradle of civilization”, the origin of human languages in general and the Tamil language in particular. These ideas gained notability in Tamil academic literature over the first decades of the 20th century, and were popularized by the Tanittamil Iyakkam, notably by self-taught DravidologistDevaneya Pavanar, who held that all languages on earth were merely corrupted Tamil dialects.

R. Mathivanan, then Chief Editor of the Tamil Etymological Dictionary Project of the Government of Tamil Nadu, in 1991 claimed to have deciphered the still undeciphered Indus script as Tamil, following the methodology recommended by his teacher Devaneya Pavanar, presenting the following timeline (cited after Mahadevan 2002):

ca. 200,000 to 50,000 BC: evolution of “the Tamilian or Homo Dravida“,
ca. 200,000 to 100,000 BC: beginnings of the Tamil language
50,000 BC: Kumari Kandam civilisation
20,000 BC: A lost Tamil culture of the Easter Island which had an advanced civilisation
16,000 BC: Lemuria submerged
6087 BC: Second Tamil Sangam established by a Pandya king
3031 BC: A Chera prince in his wanderings in the Solomon Island saw wild sugarcane and started cultivation in Kumari Kandam.
1780 BC: The Third Tamil Sangam established by a Pandya king
7th century BC: Tolkappiyam (the earliest known extant Tamil grammar)

Mathivanan uses “Aryan Invasion” rhetoric to account for the fall of this civilization:

“After imbibing the mania of the Aryan culture of destroying the enemy and their habitats, the Dravidians developed a new avenging and destructive war approach. This induced them to ruin the forts and cities of their own brethren out of enmity”.

Mathivanan claims his interpretation of history is validated by the discovery of the “Jaffna seal”, a seal bearing a Tamil-Brahmi inscription assigned by its excavators to the 3rd century BC (but claimed by Mathivanan to date to 1600 BC).

Mathivanan’s theories are not considered mainstream by the contemporary university academy internationally.

Popular culture

  • Kumari Kandam appeared in the The Secret Saturdays episodes “The King of Kumari Kandam” and “The Atlas Pin.” This version is a city on the back of a giant sea serpent with its inhabitants all fish people.

Loss and imagination

Sumathi Ramaswamy’s book, The Lost Land of Lemuria: Fabulous Geographies, Catastrophic Histories (2004) is a theoretically sophisticated[citation needed] study of the Lemuria legends that widens the discussion beyond previous treatments[citation needed], looking at Lemuria narratives from nineteenth-century Victorian-era science to Euro-American occultism, colonial, and post colonial India. Ramaswamy discusses particularly how cultures process the experience of loss.

Professor Karsten M. Storetvedt, the chair in geomagnetism at the University of Bergen, Norway, and an author of the Global Wrench Theory (GWT), says that the equator regions have always been most prone to natural catastrophes like earthquakes and volcano eruptions. A part of explanation is that planet rotation and especially the difference in rotation speed between poles and equator force earth mantel to strain and to break more easily where the strain is strongest, that is at the equator regions. These tectonic processes played important role in the disappearance of the ancient continent known as Lemuria to western scholars. Sri Lanka together with India, Indonesia and Malaysia were a part of this continent. Many islands in the Pacific and Indian oceans are remnants of this continent that in ancient time covered the whole area of today’s ocean. Storetvedt, who seems to reject the theory of continental drift and plate tectonics, says that descriptions of cataclysms in early literature when land suddenly went underwater are logical. But they should be proven to be scientific facts. This can be done with the help of sea-floor analysis that is possible to carry out. Modern theories find supportive evidences both in ancient literature and language history.
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திராவிடக் கட்டிடக்கலை(Dravidian architecture)

A typical Dravidian gate pyramid called Gopuram-Thiruvannamalai temple-Tamil Nadu

Dravidian architecture was a style of architecture that emerged thousands of years ago in the Indian subcontinent. They consist primarily of pyramid shaped temples called Koils which are dependent on intricate carved stone in order to create a step design consisting of many statues of deities, warriors, kings, and dancers. The majority of the existing buildings are located in theSouthern Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh,Kerala, and Karnataka. Various kingdoms and empires such as the Pallavas, Cholas, Pandyan, Chera,Chalukyas, Rashtrakutas, Hoysalas, Vijayanagara Empire amongst the many others have made a substantial contribution to the evolution of Dravidian architecture through the ages. Dravidian styled architecture can also be found in parts of NortheasternSri Lanka, Maldives, and various parts of Southeast Asia.

Composition and structure

The Annamalaiyar Temple in Thiruvannaamalai, India

Dravidian style temples consist almost invariably of the four following parts, arranged in various manners, as afterwards to be explained, but differing in themselves only according to the age in which they were executed:

1. The principal part, the actual temple itself, is called the Vimanam. It is always square in plan, and surmounted by a pyramidal roof of one or more stories; and it contains the cell in which the image of the god or his emblem is placed.

2. The porches or Mantapams, which always cover and precede the door leading to the cell.

3. Gate-pyramids, Gopurams, which are the principal features in the quadrangular enclosures that surround the more notable temples.

4. Pillard halls or Chaultris—properly Chawadis – used for various purposes, and which are the invariable accompaniments of these temples.

Besides these, a temple always contains tanks or wells for water—to be used either for sacred purposes or the convenience of the priests—dwellings for all the various grades of the priest-hood are attached to it, and numerous other buildings for state or convenience.

Influence from different periods

In Southern India seven kingdoms and empires stamped their influence on architecture during different times.:

Sangam period

The Subrahmanya Murugan temple of Saluvankuppam, in Saluvankuppam nearMahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu. The brick shrine dates to the Sangam period and is one of the oldest Hindu temples to be unearthed

From 1000BCE-300CE, the greatest accomplishments of the kingdoms of the early Chola, Chera and the Pandyan kingdomsincluded brick shrines to deities Murugan, Shiva, Amman andThirumal (Vishnu) of the Tamil pantheon. Some were built Several of these have been unearthed near Adichanallur,Kaveripoompuharpattinam and Mahabalipuram, and the construction plans of these sites of worship were shared to some detail in various poems of Sangam literature. One such temple, the Saluvannkuppan Murukan temple, unearthed in 2005, consists of three layers. The lowest layer, consisting of a brick shrine, is one of the oldest of its kind in South India, and is the oldest shrine found dedicated to Murukan. It is one of only two brick shrine pre Pallava Hindu temples to be found in the state, the other being the Veetrirundha Perumal Temple at Veppathurdedicated to Vishnu. The dynasties of early medieval Tamilakkam expanded and erected structural additions to many of these brick shrines. Sculptures of erotic art, nature and deities from the MaduraiMeenakshi Amman Temple, Chidambaram Thillai Nataraja Temple and the SrirangamRanganathaswamy Temple date from the Sangam period.


The Rathas in Mahabalipuram-Tamilnadu

The Pallavas ruled from AD (600-900) and their greatest constructed accomplishments are  the single rock temples in Mahabalipuram and their capitalKanchipuram, now located in Tamilnadu.

Pallavas were pioneers of south Indian architecture. The earliest examples of temples in the Dravidian style belong to the Pallava period. The earliest examples of Pallava constructions are rock-cut temples dating from 610 – 690 CE and structural temples between 690 – 900 CE. The greatest accomplishments of the Pallava architecture are the rock-cut temples at Mahabalipuram. There are excavated pillared halls and monolithic shrines known as rathas in Mahabalipuram. Early temples were mostly dedicated to Shiva.  The Kailasanatha temple also called Rajasimha Pallaveswaram in Kanchipuram built by Narasimhavarman II also known as Rajasimha is a fine example of the Pallava style temple. Mention must be made here of the Shore Temple constructed by Narasimhavarman II near Mahabalipuram which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Contrary to popular impression about the succeeding empire of the Cholas pioneering in building large temple complexes, it was the Pallavas who actually pioneered not only in making large temples after starting construction of rock cut temples without using mortar, bricks etc.(**) The shining examples of such temples are the Thiruppadagam and Thiruooragam temples that have 28 and 35 feet (11 m) high images of Lord Vishnu in his manifestation as Pandavadhoothar and Trivikraman forms of himself. In comparison the Siva Lingams in the Royal Temples of the Cholas at Thanjavur and Gangaikonda Cholapurams are 17 and 18 feet (5.5 m) high. Considering that the Kanchi Kailasanatha Temple built by Rajasimha Pallava was the inspiration for Raja Raja Chola’s Brihadeeswara at Thanjavur, it can be safely concluded that the Pallavas were among the first emperors in India to build both large temple complexes and very large deities and idols(**) Many Siva and Vishnu temples at Kanchi built by the great Pallava emperors and indeed their incomparable Rathas and the Arjuna’s penance Bas Relief (also called descent of the Ganga) are proposed UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The continuous Chola, Pallava and Pandiyan belt temples (along with those of the Adigaimans near Karur and Namakkal), as well as the Sethupathy temple group between Pudukottai and Rameswaram uniformly represent the pinnacle of the South Indian Style of Architecture that surpasses any other form of architecture prevalent between the Deccan Plateau and Kanniyakumari(**). Needless to add that in the Telugu country the style was more or less uniformly conforming to the South Indian or Dravidian idiom of architecture.(**)


Srivilliputtur Andal Temple is the official symbol of the Government of Tamilnadu. It is said to have been built by Periyaazhvar, the father-in-law of the Lord, with a purse of gold that he won in debates held in the palace of PandyaKing Vallabhadeva.

The primary landmark of Srivilliputtur is 12-tiered tower structure dedicated to the Lord of Srivilliputtur, known as Vatapatrasayee. The tower of this temple rises 192 feet (59 m) high and is the official symbol of the Government of Tamil Nadu. It is said to have been built by Periyaazhvar, the father-in-law of the Lord, with a purse of gold that he won in debates held in the palace ofPandya King Vallabhadeva. The Government of Tamil Nadu uses this temple tower as part of its symbol.


Detail of the main vimanam (tower) of the Thanjavur Temple-Tamilnadu

The Chola kings ruled from AD (848-1280) and included Rajaraja Chola I and his sonRajendra Chola who built temples such as the Brihadeshvara Temple of Thanjavur and Brihadeshvara Temple of Gangaikonda Cholapuram, the Airavatesvara Temple of Darasuram and theSarabeswara (Shiva )Temple, also called the Kampahareswarar Temple  at Thirubhuvanam, the last two temples being located near Kumbakonam. The first three among the above four temples are titled Great Living Chola Temples among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The Cholas were prolific temple builders right from the times of the first king Vijayalaya Chola after whom the eclectic chain of Vijayalaya Chozhisvaram temple near Narttamalai exists. These are the earliest specimen of Dravidian temples under the Cholas. His son Aditya I built several temples around the Kanchi and Kumbakonam regions.

Temple building received great impetus from the conquests and the genius of Aditya I Parantaka I,Sundara Chola, Rajaraja Chola and his son Rajendra Chola I. The maturity and grandeur to which the Chola architecture had evolved found expression in the two temples of Tanjavur and Gangaikondacholapuram. In a small portion of the Kaveri belt between Tiruchy-Tanjore-Kumbakonam, at the height of their power, the Cholas have left over 2300 temples, with the Tiruchy-Thanjavur belt itself boasting of more than 1500 temples. The magnificent Siva temple of Thanjavur built by Raja Raja I in1009 as well as the Brihadisvara  Temple of Gangaikonda Cholapuram, completed around 1030, are both fitting memorials to the material and military achievements of the time of the two Chola emperors. The largest and tallest of all Indian temples of its time, the Tanjore Brihadisvara is at the apex of South Indian architecture. In fact, two succeeding Chola kings Raja Raja II and Kulothunga III built the Airavatesvara Temple at Darasuram and the Kampahareswarar Siva Temple at Tribhuvanam respectively, both temples being on the outskirts of Kumbakonam around AD 1160 and AD 1200. All the four temples were built over a period of nearly 200 years reflecting the glory, prosperity and stability under the Chola emperors.

Contrary to popular impression, the Chola emperors patronized and promoted construction of a large number of temples that were spread over most parts of the Chola empire. These include 40 of the 108 Vaishnava Divya Desams out of which 77 are found spread most of South India and others in Andhra and North India(**). In fact, the Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple in Srirangam, which is the biggest temple in India (**) and the Chidambaram Natarajar Temple (though originally built by the Pallavas but possibly seized from the Cholas of the pre-Christian era when they ruled from Kanchi) (**) were two of the most important temples patronized and expanded by the Cholas and from the times of the second Chola King Aditya I, these two temples have been hailed in inscriptions as the tutelary deities of the Chola Kings (**). Of course, the two Brihadisvara Temples at Thanjavur and Gangaikonda Cholapuram as well as the other two Siva temples, namely the Airavatesvara Temple of Darasuram and the Sarabeswara (Shiva )Temple which is also popular as the Kampahareswarar Temple at Thirubhuvanam, both on the outskirts of Kumbakonam were the royal temples of the Cholas to commemorate their innumerable conquests and subjugation of their rivals from other parts of South India, Deccan Ilangai or Sri Lanka and the Narmada-Mahanadi-Gangetic belts(**). But the Chola emperors underlined their non-partisan approach to religious iconography and faith by treating the presiding deities of their other two peerless creations, namely theRanganathaswamy Temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu at Srirangam and the Nataraja Temple atChidambaram which actually is home to the twin deities of Siva and Vishnu (as the reclining Govindarajar) to be their ‘Kuladheivams’ or tutelary (or family) deities(**). The Cholas also preferred to call only these two temples which home their tutelary or family deities as Koil or the ‘Temple’, which denotes the most important places of worship for them, underlining their eq. The above-named temples are being proposed to be included among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which will elevate them to the exacting and exalting standards of the Great Living Chola Temples(**).

The temple of Gangaikondacholapuram, the creation of Rajendra Chola I, was intended to exceed its predecessor in every way. Completed around 1030, only two decades after the temple at Thanjavur and in much the same style, the greater elaboration in its appearance attests the more affluent state of the Chola Empire under Rajendra. This temple has a larger Siva linga than the one at Thanjavur but the Vimana of this temple is smaller in height than the Thanjavur vimana.

The Chola period is also remarkable for its sculptures and bronzes all over the world. Among the existing specimens in museums around the world and in the temples of South India may be seen many fine figures of Siva in various forms, such as Vishnu and his consort Lakshmi, and the Siva saints. Though conforming generally to the iconographic conventions established by long tradition, the sculptors worked with great freedom in the 11th and the 12th centuries to achieve a classic grace and grandeur. The best example of this can be seen in the form of Nataraja the Divine Dancer.

Badami Chalukyas

Main article: Badami Chalukya Architecture

Virupaksha temple, Pattadakal, Karnataka built in 740

The Badami Chalukyas also called the Early Chalukyas, ruled from Badami, Karnataka in the period AD 543 -753 and spawned the Vesara style called Badami Chalukya Architecture. The finest examples of their art are seen in Pattadakal, Aihole and Badami in northern Karnataka. Over 150 temples remain in the Malaprabhabasin.

The most enduring legacy of the Chalukya dynasty is the architecture and art that they left behind. More than one hundred and fifty monuments attributed to the Badami Chalukya, and built between 450 and 700, remain in the Malaprabha basin in Karnataka.

The rock-cut temples of Pattadakal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Badami and Aihole are their most celebrated monuments. Two of the famous paintings atAjanta cave no. 1, “The Temptation of the Buddha” and “The Persian Embassy” are attributed to them. This is the beginning of Chalukya style of architecture and a consolidation of South Indian style.


The view of the Kailash Temple from the top. The photo is taken at the cave temples clusters of Ellora, Maharastra, India.

The Rashtrakutas who ruled the deccan fromManyakheta, Gulbarga district, Karnataka in the periodAD 753 – 973 built some of the finest Dravidian monuments at Ellora (the Kailasanatha temple), in the rock cut architecture idiom. Some other fine monuments are the Jaina Narayana temple at Pattadakal and the Navalinga temples at Kuknur in Karnataka.

The Rashtrakutas contributed much to the culture of theDeccan. The Rashtrakuta contributions to art and architecture are reflected in the splendid rock-cut shrines at Ellora and Elephanta, situated in present dayMaharashtra. It is said that they altogether constructed 34 rock-cut shrines, but most extensive and sumptuous of them all is the Kailasanatha temple at Ellora. The temple is a splendid achievement of Dravidian art. The walls of the temple have marvellous sculptures from Hindy mythology including Ravana, Shiva andParvathi while the ceilings have paintings.

The project was commissioned by King Krishna I after the Rashtrakuta rule had spread into South India from the Deccan. The architectural style used was dravidian. It does not contain any of the Shikharascommon to the Nagara style and was built on the same lines as the Virupaksha temple at Pattadakal inKarnataka.

Western Chalukyas

Main article: Western Chalukya architecture

Dodda Basappa temple, Dambal, Gadag district,Karnataka

The Western Chalukyas also called the Kalyani Chalukyas or Later Chalukyas ruled the deccan from AD973 – 1180 from their capital Kalyani in modern Karnataka and further refined the Chalukyan style, called the Western Chalukya architecture. Over 50 temples exist in the Krishna River-Tungabhadra doab in central Karnataka. The Kasi Vishveshvara at Lakkundi, Mallikarjuna at Kuruvatii, Kalleshwara temple at Bagali and Mahadeva at Itagi are the finest examples produced by the Later Chalukya architects.

The reign of Western Chalukya dynasty was an important period in the development of architecture in the deccan. Their architectural developments acted as a conceptual link between the Badami Chalukya Architecture of the 8th century and the Hoysala architecture popularised in the 13th century. The art of Western Chalukyas is sometimes called the “Gadag style” after the number of ornate temples they built in the Tungabhadra – Krishna River doab region of present day Gadag district in Karnataka. Their temple building reached its maturity and culmination in the 12th century, with over a hundred temples built across the deccan, more than half of them in present day Karnataka. Apart from temples they are also well known for ornate stepped wells (Pushkarni) which served as ritual bathing places, many of which are well preserved in Lakkundi. Their stepped well designs were later incorporated by the Hoysalas and the Vijayanagara empire in the coming centuries.


Symmetrical architecture on Jagati, Somanathapura, Karnataka
Main article: Hoysala architecture

The Hoysala kings ruled southern India during the period AD (1100-1343) from their capital Belur and laterHalebidu in Karnataka and developed a unique idiom of architecture called the Hoysala architecture inKarnataka state. The finest examples of their architecture are the Chennakesava Temple in Belur,Hoysaleswara temple in Halebidu, and the Kesava Temple in Somanathapura.

The modern interest in the Hoysalas is due to their patronage of art and architecture rather than their military conquests. The brisk temple building throughout the kingdom was accomplished despite constant threats from the Pandyas to the south and the Seunas Yadavas to the north. Their architectural style, an offshoot of the Western Chalukya style, shows distinct Dravidian influences. The Hoysala architecture style is described as Karnata Dravida as distinguished from the traditional Dravida, and is considered an independent architectural tradition with many unique features.


Virupaksha Temple at Hampi, Karnataka
Main article: Vijayanagar Architecture

The whole of South India was ruled by Vijayanagar Empire from AD(1343-1565), who built a number of temples and monuments in their hybrid style in their capital Vijayanagar in Karnataka. Their style was a combination of the styles developed in South India in the previous centuries. In addition, the Yali columns (pillar with charging horse), balustrades (parapets) and ornate pillared manatapa are their unique contribution. King Krishna Deva Raya and others built many famous temples all over South India in Vijayanagar Architecture style.

Vijayanagara architecture is a vibrant combination of the Chalukya,Hoysala, Pandya and Chola styles, idioms that prospered in previous centuries. Its legacy of sculpture, architecture and painting influenced the development of the arts long after the empire came to an end. Its stylistic hallmark is the ornate pillaredKalyanamantapa (marriage hall), Vasanthamantapa (open pillared halls) and the Rayagopura (tower). Artisans used the locally available hard granite because of its durability since the kingdom was under constant threat of invasion. While the empire’s monuments are spread over the whole of Southern India, nothing surpasses the vast open air theatre of monuments at its capital at Vijayanagara, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In the 14th century the kings continued to build Vesara or Deccan style monuments but later incorporated dravida-style gopurams to meet their ritualistic needs. The Prasanna Virupaksha temple (underground temple) of Bukka Raya I and the Hazare Rama temple of Deva Raya I are examples of Deccan architecture. The varied and intricate ornamentation of the pillars is a mark of their work. At Hampi, though the Vitthala temple is the best example of their pillared Kalyanamantapa style, theHazara Ramaswamy temple is a modest but perfectly finished example. A visible aspect of their style is their return to the simplistic and serene art developed by the Chalukya dynasty. A grand specimen of Vijayanagara art, the Vitthala temple, took several decades to complete during the reign of the Tuluva kings.


Filed under Temple

சிந்துவெளியில் ஊர்கள், துறைமுகங்கள், ஆறுகள், மலைகளின் பெயர்கள் தமிழில் (Tamil Names in Sindh [Indus] Valley)

சிந்துவெளி மற்றும் அரப்பாவில் ”கொற்கை, வஞ்சி, தொண்டி வளாகம்”
சிந்துவெளியில் சங்கத் தமிழரின் துறைமுகங்கள், தலைநகரங்கள் மற்றும் ஊர்களின் பெயர்கள்
பாகிஸ்தானிலுள்ள கொற்கை (Gorkai. Gorkhai), வஞ்சி (Vanji), தொண்டி(Tondi), மத்ரை (Matrai), உறை (Urai), கூடல் கட் (Kudal Garh) மற்றும் கோளி (Koli); ஆப்கானிஸ்தானிலுள்ள கொற்கை (Korkay. Gorkay). பூம்பகார் (Pumbakar) ஆகிய ஊர்ப் பெயர்கள் சங்க இலக்கியங்களில் குறிப்பிடப்பட்டுள்ள தலைநகரங்கள் மற்றும் துறைமுக நகரங்களின் பெயர்களான கொற்கை. வஞ்சி. தொண்டி. மதுரை. உறையூர். கூடல். கோழி. பூம்புகார் ஆகியவற்றை நினைவுபடுத்துகின்றன.


Filed under Tami Country

வியட்னாமை ஆண்ட பாண்டிய மன்னன்

இரண்டாயிரம் ஆண்டுகளுக்கு முன்னர் ஒரு பாண்டிய மன்னன் வியட்நாம் நாட்டை ஆண்டிருக்கிறான்! அவன்தான் வரலாறு அறிந்த முதல் வியட்னாமிய மன்னன். அவனுடைய பெயர் ஸ்ரீமாறன். தமிழில் இதை திருமாறன் என்று சொல்லலாம். வியட்னாமில் கண்டுபிடிக்கப்பட்ட மிகப் பழைய சமஸ்கிருத கல்வெட்டு இவனை ஸ்ரீமாறன் என்று குறிப்பிடுகிறது. இந்தக் கல்வெட்டில் ஆட்சி, ஆண்டு முதலிய விவரங்கள் கிடைக்கவில்லை. கல்வெட்டின் பெரும்பகுதி அழிந்துவிட்டது. ஆனால் எழுத்து அமைப்பின் அடிப்படையில் இது கி.பி. இரண்டாம் நூற்றாண்டைச் சேர்ந்ததாக அறிஞர்கள் கருதுகின்றனர்.

வியட்னாமில் வோ-சான் என்னும் இடத்தில் ஒரு பாறையின் இரண்டு பக்கங்களில் (VO–CHANH ROCK INSCRIPTION) இது செதுக்கப்பட்டுள்ளது. ஸ்ரீமாறன் என்ற அரசனின் குடும்பம் செய்த நன்கொடையை (தானத்தை) கல்வெட்டு குறிப்பிடுகிறது. பாறையின் ஒரு பக்கத்தில் 15 வரிகளும் மறு பக்கத்தில் ஏழு வரிகளும் உள்ளன. ஆனால் ஒன்பது வரிகள் தவிர மற்றவை தேய்ந்து அழிந்துவிட்டன. சமஸ்கிருத பாட்டுப் பகுதி வசந்த திலகா அணியிலும் ஏனைய வரிகள் உரைநடையிலும் உள்ளன. கிடைத்த வரிகளிலும் கூட சில சொற்கள் அழிந்துவிட்டன. கல்வெட்டின் சில வரிகள்:-

. .. . . … ப்ரஜானாம் கருண . .. . .. ப்ரதாம் விஜய
. . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . ..
ஸ்ரீ மாற ராஜகுல . . . . . . வ . .. .. . . . . ..
ஸ்ரீ மாற லோ. . . .. ன. . . .. .. .குலதந்தனேன
க்ராபதிம் ஸ்வகன. . .. ..ச . . . . . . . .. .. ..

இந்தக் கல்வெட்டில், தனக்குச் சொந்தமான வெள்ளி, தங்கம், தானியக் குவியல் மற்றுமுள்ள அசையும், அசையா சொத்து (ஸ்தாவர, ஜங்கம்) வகைகள் அனைத்தையும் தமக்கு நெருங்கிய மக்களுக்கு பொதுவுடமையாக்குவதாக மன்னன் அறிவிக்கிறான். எதிர்கால மன்னர்கள் இதை மதித்து நடக்க வேண்டும் என்றும் ஆணை பிறப்பிக்கிறான். இது வீரனுக்கு தெரியட்டும். . .. . . .. . . .. .. . .என்று பாதியில் முடுகிறது கல்வெட்டு.

இதில் முக்கியமான சொற்கள் “ஸ்ரீமாற ராஜகுல” என்பதாகும். இந்த திருமாறனைக் குறித்து மிகவும் குறைவான தகவலே கிடைத்துள்ளது. ஆனால் வியட்னாம், லாவோஸ், கம்போடியா ஆகிய நாடுகளில் 1300 ஆண்டுகளுக்கு நிலவிய இந்து சாம்ராஜ்யத்தின் முதல் மன்னன் இவன் என்பதை சீனர்களின் வரலாறும் உறுதி செய்கிகிறது.

திருமாறனை சீன வரலாற்று ஆசிரியர்கள் கியு லியன்(KIU LIEN) என்றும் இவன் ஹான் வம்சம் (HAN DYNASTY) சீனாவை ண்டபொழுது அவர்களின் கட்டுபாட்டில் இருந்த ‘சம்பா’ தேசத்தில் புரட்சி செய்து ஆட்சியைக் கைபற்றியதாகவும் எழுதிவைத்துள்ளனர். சம்பா (CHAMPA) என்பது தற்போதைய வியட்னாமின் ஒரு பகுதியாகும். மன்னனின் குடும்பப் பெயர் கியு(KIU) என்றும் மன்னனின் பெயர் லியன் (LIEN) என்றும் எழுதிவைத்துள்ளனர். இவன் காங்ட்சாவோவின் (KONG TSAO) புதல்வன் என்றும் தெரிகிறது. தென்கிழக்கு ஆசியா முழுதும் முதல்முதலாக தொல்பொருள் ஆராயச்சி நடத்திய பிரெஞ்சுக்காரர்கள் ஸ்ரீமாறனும், கியு லியானும் ஒருவர்தான் என்று உறுதிசெய்துள்ளனர். கி.பி. 137 ல் சீனர்களை எதிர்த்துக் கலகம் துவங்கியது. ஆனால் கிபி 192 ல்தான் ஸ்ரீ மாறன் ஆட்சி ஏற்பட்டது.

ஸ்ரீ மாறனுக்குப் பின்னர் ஆண்ட மன்னர்களில் பெயர்கள் எல்லாம் சீனமொழி வாயிலாக ‘உருமாறி’ கிடைப்பதால் அவர்களின் உண்மையான பெயர்கள் தெரியவில்லை. எல்லா மன்னர்களின் பெயர்களும் பான்(FAN) என்று முடிவதால் இதை ‘வர்மன்” என்று முடிவுசெய்துள்ளனர். ஏனெனில் இடையிடையேயும் ஆறாம் நூற்றாண்டுகளுக்குப் பின்னரும் மன்னர்களின் பெயர்களுக்குப் பின்னால் ‘வர்மன்’ என்ற பெயர் தெளிவாக உள்ளது. இதில் வியப்பு என்னவென்றால் தமிழ்நாட்டில் கிடைத்த செப்புப் பட்டயங்களிலும் பாண்டியன் வம்சாவளியில் ஸ்ரீமாறன், வர்மன் என்ற இரண்டு பெயர்களும் கிடைக்கின்றன.

இந்தோனேசியாவுக்குச் சொந்தமான போர்னியோ தீவின் அடர்ந்த காட்டிற்குள் மூலவர்மன் என்ற மன்னனின் சமஸ்கிருதக் கல்வெட்டு கிடைத்துள்ளது. தென்கிழக்கு ஆசியாவில் 800க்கும் அதிகமான சம்ஸ்கிருதக் கல்வெட்டுகள் கிடைத்துள்ளன.

வியட்னாமியக் கல்வெட்டு ‘பாண்டிய’ என்ற பெயரைக் குறிப்பிடவில்லை. ஆயினும் ஸ்ரீமாறன் (ஸ்ரீ = திரு) என்பவன் பாண்டியனே என்பதற்குப் பல சான்றுகள் உள்ளன:-

(1) இடைச்சங்கத்தின் கடைசி மன்னன் பெயர் திருமாறன். அவன் அரசாண்ட காலத்தில் கடல் பொங்கி தென் மதுரையை அழித்ததால் அவன் தற்போதைய மதுரையில் கடைச்சங்கத்தை அமைத்ததாக உரையாசிரியர்கள் எழுதி வைத்துள்ளனர். இந்த மன்னனோ இவனது குலத்தினரோ வியட்னாமில் ஒரு அரசை நிறுவியிருக்கலாம்.

(2) வேள்விக்குடி செப்பேடும் திருமாறன் என்ற மன்னனைக் குறிப்பிடுகிறது. அதே செப்பேட்டில் மாறவர்மன் (அவனி சூளாமணி), ஸ்ரீமாறவர்மன்(அரிகேசரி) ஸ்ரீ மாறன்(ராஜசிம்மன்) என்ற பெயர்களையும் காணலாம். பாண்டிய வம்ச மன்னர்கள் மாறன், சடையன் என்ற பெயர்களை மாறி மாறிப் பயன்படுத்துவர்.

(3) தொல்காப்பியத்தை அரங்கேற்றிய இடைச்சங்க கால மன்னன் நிலந்தரு திருவில் பாண்டியன் என்று பனம்பாரனாரின் பாயிரம் கூறுகிறது. பல நாடுகளை வென்று தந்ததால் “நிலந்தரு” “திரு பாண்டியன்” (ஸ்ரீமாறன்) என்று பெயர் ஏற்பட்டிருக்கலாம்.

(4) சங்க இலக்கியப் பாடல்களிலும் அடிக்குறிப்பிலும் குறைந்தது பத்து முறை ‘மாறன்’ என்ற மன்னர்கள் குறிப்பிடப்படுகின்றனர். இவர்களில் குறிப்பிடத்தக்கவர் இடைச்சங்ககால மன்னன் முடித்திருமாறன். நற்றிணை 105, 228 ஆகிய 2 பாடல்களை இயற்றியவன்.

(5) தென்கிழக்கு ஆசியா முழுவதும் அகத்திய முனிவரின் சிலைகள் கிடைக்கின்றன. அகத்தியர் “கடலைக் குடித்த” கதைகளும் பிரபலமாகியிருக்கின்றன. முதல்முதலில் கடலைக் கடந்து ஆட்சி நிறுவியதை “கடலைக் குடித்தார்” என்று பெருமையாக உயர்வு நவிற்சியாக குறிப்பிடுகின்றனர். வேள்விக்குடி செப்பேடு இந்தக் கதைகளைக் குறிப்பிட்டுவிட்டு அகத்தியரை பாண்டியரின் “குல குரு” என்றும் கூறுகிறது.

(6) இந்திய இலக்கியகர்த்தாக்களின் முக்கிய இடத்தை வகிக்கும் மாபெரும் வடமொழிக் கவிஞன் காளிதாசன், பாண்டியர்களையும் அகத்தியரையும் தொடர்புப்படுத்தி கவி புனைந்துள்ளான் (ரகு வம்சம் 6 –61)

ஆசியாவில் 800க்கும் அதிகமான சமஸ்கிருதக் கல்வெட்டுகள் கிடைத்துள்ளன.

(7) புறநானூற்றுப் பாடல் (புறம் 182) பாடிய ஒரு பாண்டிய மன்னன் பெயர் “கடலுள் மாய்ந்த” இளம்பெருவழுதி. இவன் வெளிநாடு செல்லும்போதோ, வெளிநாடுகளை வென்று திரும்பும் போதோ கடலில் மூழ்கி இறந்திருக்கலாம்.

(8) டாலமி, பெரிப்ளூஸ் என்ற யாத்ரீகர்கள் கி.பி. முதல் இரண்டு நூற்றாண்டுகளில் நடந்த தென் இந்திய கடல் வாணிபத்தைக் குறிப்பிடுகின்றனர்.

(9) தென் இந்தியாவை கி.மு. இரண்டாம் நூற்றாண்டு முதல் 400 ஆண்டுகளுக்கு ஆண்ட சாத்வா இன மன்னர்கள் தமிழ் மொழியில் வெளியிட்ட நாணயங்களில் ‘கப்பல்’ படம் உள்ளது.

(10) தமிழ் நாடு முழுவதும் கிடைக்கும் ரோமானிய நாணயங்களும் தமிழர்களின் கடல் வாணிபத்தை உறுதி செய்கின்றன.

(11) ‘மிலிந்த பன்ன’ என்ற கி.மு. இரண்டாம் நூற்றாண்டு பெளத்த மத நூல் வங்கம், சோழமண்டலம், குஜராத், சீனம், எகிப்து இடையே நிலவிய வணிகத்தைக் குறிப்பிடுகிறது.

(12) மலேசியாவில் தமிழ் கல்வெட்டு இருக்கிறது. தாய்லாந்தில் தமிழ்நாட்டு நாணயங்கள் கிடைத்துள்ளன.

மேற்கூரிய சான்றுகள் அனைத்தும் தமிழர்களின் கடல் பயண வன்மையைக் காட்டுகின்றன. அகஸ்டஸ் சீசரின் அவையில் பாண்டிய மன்னனின் தூதர் இருந்ததையும் ரோமானிய ஆசிரியர்கள் குறிப்பிடுகின்றன.

ரோம் (இத்தாலி) வரை சென்ற தமிழனுக்கு, தென்கிழக்கு ஆசியாவிலுள்ள வியட்னாமுக்குச் செல்வது எளிது தானே!



-ச. சுவாமிநாதன்


Filed under Tami Country, Tamil Language

Behind China’s Hindu temples, a forgotten history

 In and around Quanzhou, a bustling industrial city, there are shrines that historians believe may have been part of a network of more than a dozen Hindu temples and shrines

For the residents of Chedian, a few thousand-year-old village of muddy by-lanes and old stone courtyard houses, she is just another form of Guanyin, the female Bodhisattva who is venerated in many parts of China.


A panel of inscriptions of the God Narasimha adorns the entrance to the main shrine of the temple, believed to have been installed by Tamil traders who lived in Quanzhou in the 13th century. Photo: Ananth KrishnanA panel of inscriptions of the God Narasimha adorns the entrance to the main shrine of the temple, believed to have been installed by Tamil traders who lived in Quanzhou in the 13th century. Photo: Ananth Krishnan

Li San Long, a resident of Chedian village, offers prayers at the village shrine, which houses a deity that is believed to be one of the goddesses that the Tamilcommunity in Quanzhou worshipped in the 13th century. (Right) A stone elephant inscription on display at the Quanzhou Maritime Museum. Photo: Ananth Krishnan

Li San Long, a resident of Chedian village, offers prayers at the village shrine, which houses a deity that is believed to be one of the goddesses that the Tamil community in Quanzhou worshipped in the 13th century. (Right) A stone elephant inscription on display at the Quanzhou Maritime Museum. Photo: Ananth Krishnan


But the goddess that the residents of this village pray to every morning, as they light incense sticks and chant prayers, is quite unlike any deity one might find elsewhere in China. Sitting cross-legged, the four-armed goddess smiles benignly, flanked by two attendants, with an apparently vanquished demon lying at her feet.

Local scholars are still unsure about her identity, but what they do know is that this shrine’s unique roots lie not in China, but in far away south India. The deity, they say, was either brought to Quanzhou — a thriving port city that was at the centre of the region’s maritime commerce a few centuries ago — by Tamil traders who worked here some 800 years ago, or perhaps more likely, crafted by local sculptors at their behest.

“This is possibly the only temple in China where we are still praying to a Hindu God,” says Li San Long, a Chedian resident, with a smile.

“Even though most of the villagers still think she is Guanyin!” Mr. Li said the village temple collapsed some 500 years ago, but villagers dug through the rubble, saved the deity and rebuilt the temple, believing that the goddess brought them good fortune — a belief that some, at least, still adhere to.

The Chedian shrine is just one of what historians believe may have been a network of more than a dozen Hindu temples or shrines, including two grand big temples, built in Quanzhou and surrounding villages by a community of Tamil traders who lived here during the Song (960-1279) and Yuan (1279-1368) dynasties.

At the time, this port city was among the busiest in the world and was a thriving centre of regional maritime commerce.

The history of Quanzhou’s temples and Tamil links was largely forgotten until the 1930s, when dozens of stones showing perfectly rendered images of the god Narasimha — the man-lion avatar of Vishnu — were unearthed by a Quanzhou archaeologist called Wu Wenliang. Elephant statues and images narrating mythological stories related to Vishnu and Shiva were also found, bearing a style and pattern that was almost identical to what was evident in the temples of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh from a similar period.

Wu’s discoveries received little attention at the time as his country was slowly emerging from the turmoil of the Japanese occupation, the Second World War and the civil war. It took more than a decade after the Communists came to power in 1949 for the stones and statues to even be placed in a museum, known today as the Quanzhou Maritime Museum.

“It is difficult to say how many temples there were, and how many were destroyed or fell to ruin,” the museum’s vice curator Wang Liming told The Hindu. “But we have found them spread across so many different sites that we are very possibly talking about many temples that were built across Quanzhou.”

Today, most of the sculptures and statues are on display in the museum, which also showcases a map that leaves little doubt about the remarkable spread of the discoveries. The sites stretch across more than a dozen locations located all over the city and in the surrounding county. The most recent discoveries were made in the 1980s, and it is possible, says Ms. Wang, that there are old sites yet to be discovered.

The Maritime Museum has now opened a special exhibit showcasing Quanzhou’s south Indian links. Ms. Wang says there is a renewed interest — and financial backing — from the local government to do more to showcase what she describes as the city’s “1000-year-old history with south India,” which has been largely forgotten, not only in China but also in India.

“There is still a lot we don’t know about this period,” she says, “so if we can get any help from Indian scholars, we would really welcome it as this is something we need to study together. Most of the stones come from the 13th century Yuan Dynasty, which developed close trade links with the kingdoms of southern India. We believe that the designs were brought by the traders, but the work was probably done by Chinese workers.”

Ms. Wang says the earliest record of an Indian residing in Quanzhou dates back to the 6th century. An inscription found on the Yanfu temple from the Song Dynasty describes how the monk Gunaratna, known in China as Liang Putong, translated sutras from Sanskrit. Trade particularly flourished in the 13th century Yuan Dynasty. In 1271, a visiting Italian merchant recorded that the Indian traders “were recognised easily.”

“These rich Indian men and women mainly live on vegetables, milk and rice,” he wrote, unlike the Chinese “who eat meat and fish.” The most striking legacy of this period of history is still on public display in a hidden corner of the 7th century Kaiyuan Buddhist Temple, which is today Quanzhou’s biggest temple and is located in the centre of the old town. A popular attraction for Chinese Buddhists, the temple receives a few thousand visitors every day. In a corner behind the temple, there are at least half a dozen pillars displaying an extraordinary variety of inscriptions from Hindu mythology. A panel of inscriptions depicting the god Narasimha also adorns the steps leading up to the main shrine, which houses a Buddha statue. Huang Yishan, a temple caretaker whose family has, for generations, owned the land on which the temple was built, says the inscriptions are perhaps the most unique part of the temple, although he laments that most of his compatriots are unaware of this chapter of history. On a recent afternoon, as a stream of visitors walked up the steps to offer incense sticks as they prayed to Buddha, none spared a glance at the panel of inscriptions. Other indicators from Quanzhou’s rich but forgotten past lie scattered through what is now a modern and bustling industrial city, albeit a town that today lies in the shadow of the provincial capital Xiamen and the more prosperous port city of Guangzhou to the far south.

A few kilometres from the Kaiyuan temple stands a striking several metre-high Shiva lingam in the centre of the popular Bamboo Stone Park. To the city’s residents, however, the lingam is merely known as a rather unusually shaped “bamboo stone,” another symbol of history that still stays hidden in plain sight.

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சீனா நாட்டுச் சிவன் ஆலயத்தில் தமிழில் கல்வெட்டு

சீனா நாட்டுச் சிவன் ஆலயத்தில் தமிழில் கல்வெட்டு
சீனாவில் எழுப்பப்பட்ட சிவன் கோயில் சீன சக்கரவர்தியான குப்லாய்கானின் ஆணையின் கீழ் கட்டப்பட்டது என்பதைக் குறிக்கும் கல்வெட்டு உள்ளது. இக்கல்வெட்டின் கடைசி வரிகள் சீன எழுத்தில் பொறிக்கப்பட்டுள்ளன.

சீன நாட்டில் காண்டன் எனும் நகருக்கு 500 கல் வடக்கே உள்ள சூவன்சௌ என்னும் துறைமுக நகர் உள்ளது. பண்டைய காலத்திலும் இது சிறந்த துறைமுகமாக விளங்கிற்று. அந்தக் கால
த்தில் தமிழ் வணிகர்கள் இந்நகருக்கு அடிக்கடி வந்து சென்றுள்ளனர்.

தமிழ்நாட்டிலிருந்து புறப்படும் வணிகக் கப்பல்கள் தாய்லாந்து சென்று அதன் மேற்குக் கரையோரமாக உள்ள சில துறைமுகங்களிலும் தங்கிப் பிறகு வியத்து நாம் சென்று அங்கிருந்து சீனநாட்டை அடைந்துள்ளனர்.

தமிழ் நாட்டிலிருந்து நேரடியாகச் சீனாவிற்குக் கடல் வழியாகச் செல்லவேண்டுமானால் வங்காள விரிகுடாவைக் கடந்து உள்ள மாலக்கா வழியாகத் தென்சீனக் கடலை அடையலாம். மலேசியத் தீபகற்பத்தைச் சுற்றி இவர்கள் செல்லவேண்டியிருக்கும். ஆனால் இந்தவழி சுற்றுவழியாகும். ஆயிரம் கல்களுக்கு அதிகமாகப் பயணத்தொலைவு நீளும். மேலும் பயணநேரத்திலும் பல மாதம் கூடிவிடும்.

சீனாவில் தமிழர்கள் காண்டன் நகரில் மட்டுமன்று. வேறு சில இடங்களிலும் வணிகக் குடியேற்றங்களை அமைத்திருந்தனர். பிற்காலச் சோழர் காலத்தில், புகழ்பெற்ற வணிகக் குழாமான திசை ஆயிரத்து ஐந்நூற்றுவர் எனும் குழுவினர் சீனநாட்டின் பல்வேறு பகுதியிலும் வணிகம் செய்துள்ளனர் என்பதற்குப் பல ஆதாரங்கள் கிடைத்துள்ளன.

(குப்லாய் கான்)

சூவன்லிசௌ துறைமுக நகரில் சிவாலயம் ஒன்று உள்ளது. இந்த ஆலயத்தில் நிறுவப் பெற்றுள்ள சில விக்கிரகம் குப்லாய்கான என்னும் புகழ்ப் பெற்ற சீனச் சக்கரவர்த்தியின் ஆணையால் அமைக்கப் பட்டதாகும். இவருக்குச் சேகாசைகான் என்ற பெயரும் உண்டு. இவரின் உடல் நலத்திற்காக இந்த ஆலயம் எழுப்பப்பட்டது.
இந்தக் கோயில் திருக்கதாலீசுவரம் என வழங்கப்பட்டது. இந்த ஆலயத்தில் உள்ள சிவன் திருக்கதாலீசுவரன் உதயநாயனார் என அழைக்கப்பட்டார். சீனச் சக்கரவர்த்தியின் இந்த ஆணையை நிறைவேற்றியவரின் பெயர் தவச்சக்கரவர்த்திகள் சம்பந்தப் பெருமாள் என்பதாகும்.

சக யுகம் சித்திராபவுர்ணமி அன்று இந்த ஆலயம் நிறுவப்பட்டது. கி.பி 1260ம் ஆண்டு குப்லாய்கான் முடிசூடினான். இவன் உலகையே நடுங்க வைத்த மங்கோலியச் சக்கரவர்த்தியான செங்கிசுகானின் பேரனாவான. மங்கோலியச் சக்கரவர்த்திகள் ஆளுகையில் சீனாவும் இருந்தது.

இவன்தான் பெய்சிங் நகரைக்கட்டி அதைத் தனது பேரரசின் தலைநகராக்கினான். அவருடைய பேரரசு விரிந்து பரந்திருந்தது. வலிமை வாய்ந்த சக்கரவர்த்தியாக அவன் திகழ்ந்தான் புகழ்பெற்ற யுவான் அரசமரபை இவனே தொடங்கியவனாவான். தமிழ்நாட்டில் பிற்காலப் பாண்டியப் பேரரசு அரசோச்சிய காலத்தில் இவன் சீனப்பேரரசின் சக்கரவர்த்தியாகத் திகழ்ந்தான். பாண்டிய அரச குலமும் குப்லாய்கானும் மிகுந்த நட்புறவுடன் திகழ்ந்தனர். அப்போதிருந்த பாண்டிய மன்னன் குலசேகர பாண்டியன் ஆவான். இருநாடுகளுக்கிடையேயும் தூதர்கள் பரிமாற்றம் செய்துகொள்ளப்பட்டது.

சீனாவில் எழுப்பப்பட்ட இந்த சிவன் கோயில் சீன சக்கரவர்தியான குப்லாய்கானின் ஆணையின் கீழ் கட்டப்பட்டது என்பதைக் குறிக்கும் கல்வெட்டு இக்கோவிலில் உள்ளது. இக்கல்வெட்டின் கடைசி வரிகள் சீன எழுத்தில் பொறிக்கப்பட்டுள்ளன. இக்கோவிலில் சோழர்காலச் சிற்பங்கள் அமைக்கப்பட்டுள்ளன. தமிழ்நாட்டுக்கு வெளியே கண்டுபிடிக்கப்பட்ட மிக அபூர்வமான தமிழ்க்கல்வெட்டு இதுவாகும்.


Filed under Tami Country

11000Years Old Man Made Structure Found in Indian Sea

By Graham Hancock

Kumari Kandam

11000Years Old U-Shaped Structure,Poompuhar

The place is called Poompuhar. It lies on southeast India’s Coromandel coast facing the Bay of Bengal between modern Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka. Its immediate offshore area has been the subject of marine archaeological investigations by India’s National Institute of Oceanography since the 1980’s — and numerous non-controversial finds of man-made structures dated between the third century AD and the third century BC have been made in the “inter-tidal zone” close to shore at depths down to 6 feet (approximately 2 metres).

These finds of structures in shallow water (some so shallow that they are exposed at low tide) have been quite widely written-up in the archaeological literature. But for some reason other discoveries that the NIO has made in deeper water off Poompuhar have attracted no attention at all. Most notably these other discoveries include a second completely separate group of structures fully three miles from the Poompuhar shore in water that is more than 70 feet (23 metres) deep. The lack of interest is surprising because to anyone with even minimal knowledge of post-glacial sea-level rise their depth of submergence is – or should be – highly anomalous. Indeed according to Glenn Milne’s sea-level data the land on which these structures were built last stood above water at the end of the Ice Age more than 11,000 years ago.

Is it a coincidence that there are ancient Tamil flood myths that speak of a great kingdom that once existed in this area called Kumari Kandam that was swallowed up by the sea? Amazingly the myths put a date of 11,600 years ago on these events — the same timeframe given by Plato for the end of Atlantis in another ocean.

Like the cities in the Gulf of Cambay the underwater structures three miles offshore of Poompuhar were first identified by an instrument called sidescan sonar that profiles the seabed. One structure in particular was singled out for investigation and was explored by divers from India’s National Institute of Oceanography in 1991 and 1993. Although they were not at that time aware of the implications of its depth of submergence — i.e. that it is at least 11,500 years old — the 1991 study confirms that it is man-made and describes it as:

a horse-shoe-shaped object, its height being one to two metres. A few stone blocks were found in the one-metre wide arm. The distance between the two arms in 20 metres. Whether the object is a shrine or some other man-made structure now at 23 metres [70 feet] depth remains to be examined in the next field season.

The 1993 study refines the measurements:

The structure of U-shape was located at a water depth of 23 metres which is about 5 kilometres off shore. The total peripheral length of the object is 85 metres while the distance between the two arms is 13 metres and the maximum height is 2 metres Divers observed growth of thick marine organism on the structure, but in some sections a few courses of masonry were noted

The Lost Continent
Kumari Kandam(குமரிக்கண்டம்)

To Read More Click Kumari Kandam

After 1993, no further marine archaeology was conducted along the Poompuhar coast until 2001 when I arranged with the NIO to dive on the U-shaped structure with funding from Channel 4 television in Britain and the Learning Channel in the US. Exclusive footage of the structure was filmed and is shown in episode 2 of the Underworld television series. Chapter 14 of the book is a report of our dives at Poompuhar, and what we found there.

Dr A.S. Gaur of the NIO told me on camera that it would have required “a very great technology” to build the U-shaped structure — one far beyond the abilities of known cultures in India 11,500 years ago. For Dr Gaur this is a reason to doubt the accuracy of the sea-level-data which suggests that the structure was submerged so long ago. However the NIO have not yet been successful in recovering any datable materials or artefacts that could tell us its age more directly (for example by C-14 or TL tests).

My own expedition to Poompuhar with the NIO in 2001 was limited to diving on the U-shaped structure and one neighbouring structure. But what’s really exciting is that more than 20 other large structures are known to be located in the same area down to depths of more than 100 feet. These have so far been identified only by sidescan sonar and never yet explored by divers. I’ve organised an expedition jointly with India’s National Institute of Oceanography and John Blashford-Snell’s Scientific Exploration Society in Britain to map and investigate these other structures in March/April 2002.

The Cambay and Poompuhar discoveries are both reported in depth for the first time in Underworld and set into the proper context of the flood myths and inundation history of the broader regions to which they belong.

If they are what they seem to be — a caution I must repeat since so little research has actually been done by anyone — then they signal an exciting new era in Indian archaeology in which the investigation of submerged ruins will play an increasingly important role. How do the Poompuhar finds compare with those in Cambay? Are they both parts of the same lost civilisation? Or do they perhaps represent two separate Ice Age cultures, one based in the north and the other in the south of the subcontinent?

Further exploration, involving divers, sonar scans and the recovery and analysis of artefacts will provide the answers.

And for reasons that I explain in Underworld, I think India’s most ancient scriptures, the Vedas, also have a lot to tell us. There are tremendously good reasons to disbelieve the scholarly consensus (certainly the consensus amongst Western scholars) that the Vedas were composed as late as 1500 B.C. Parts of them probably do date from then; but some of the hymns could be much older than that — carried down by oral traditions from much earlier times. I think it all goes back to the Ice Age.




Filed under Tami Country

“பழந்தமிழரின் கடல் மேலாண்மை” ஒரு ஆராய்ச்சிக் கட்டுரை!

சமீபத்தில் நான் தெரிந்து கொண்ட தமிழர்களின் அறியப்படாத வரலாற்று ஆய்வை உங்களுடன் பகிர்கிறேன். 16.11.2011 அன்று வெளியான “டைம்ஸ் ஆப் இந்தியா” நாளிதளில் வந்த ஒரு செய்தியும் அதை தொடர்ந்து நான் கலந்துகொண்ட “பழந்தமிழரின் கடல் மேலாண்மை” என்னும் கருத்தாய்வு கூட்டத்திலும் நான் தெரிந்து கொண்ட விஷயங்களையே நான் பகிர்கிறேன்.

தமிழர்களின் கடல் மேலாண்மை பற்றி ‘கடல் புறா’ போன்ற வரலாற்று நாவல்கள் மூலம் அரசல் புரசல்களாக நம்மில் பலரும் அறிந்திருப்போம்.

’கலிங்கா பாலு’ என்னும் கடல்சார் ஆராய்ச்சியாளரின் கடல் ஆமைகள் பற்றிய ஆய்வில் தமிழர்கள் பற்றிய பல அறிய உண்மைகள் வெளிச்சத்துக்கு வந்துள்ளன.

அவருடைய ஆய்வறிக்கை “தமிழர் வரலாற்று ஆய்வு நடுவம்” நடத்திய “பழந்தமிழரின் கடல் மேலாண்மை” கருத்தாய்வு கூட்டத்தில் விளக்கப் பட்டது. அந்த ஆய்வறிக்கையின் சாராம்சம் பின்வருமாறு-

கடல் வாழ் உயிரனமான ஆமைகள் கூட்டம் கூட்டமாக முட்டையிட்டு குஞ்சு பொரிப்பதற்காக வருடா வருடம் பல்லாயிரம் மையில்கள் கடந்து தமிழகம் மற்றும் ஒடிசா மாநில கடற்கரைகளில் தஞ்சம் புகுவது பலர் அறிந்த விஷயம். இந்த ஆமைகள் பற்றிய ஆய்வில் ஒரு சுவாரஸ்யமான விஷயம் தெரிய வந்திருக்கிறது. சராசரியாக ஒரு கடல் ஆமையால் ஒரு நாளைக்கு 85கி.மி தூரமே நீந்தி கடக்க முடியும் ஆனால் இவ்வாமைகள் கடந்து வந்ததோ பல்லாயிரம் மையில்கள்! அதுவும் குறுகிய காலத்தில்!! எவ்வாறு என்று சில புதிய தொழில் நுட்பங்களின்(RFID-செயர்கைக்கோள் சாதனம்)RFIDஉதவியுடன் ஆராய்ந்த போது ஆமைகள் Ocean currents எனப்படும் கடலில் பாயும் நீரோட்டங்களின் உதவியுடன் பல்லாயிரம் கிலோ மீட்டர் நீந்தாமல் மிதந்து கொண்டு பயணிக்கும் விஷயம் தெரிய வந்திருக்கிறது. இப்படி பயணம் செய்யும் ஆமைகளை செயர்கைகோளின் மூலம் பின்தொடர்ந்த போது மியான்மர்(பர்மா), மலேசியா, இந்தோனேசியா, ஆஸ்திரேலியா, பசிபிக் தீவுகள், ரஷ்யா, மெக்சிகோ, ஐஸ்லேண்ட், ஆப்ரிக்கா என பல உலக நாடுகளின் கடற்கரைகளுக்கு ஆராய்ச்சியாளர்களை இட்டு சென்றுள்ளன. அப்படி அவை கடந்த கடற்கரைகளை ஆராய்ந்த கலிங்க பாலுவிற்கு ஒரு இன்ப அதிர்ச்சி காத்திருந்த்து. ஆமைகள் தொட்டுச் சென்ற பல கடற்கரைகளில் துறைமுகங்களும் அவற்றில் 53 இடங்களின் பெயர்களும், அதன் மக்களும், பண்பாடும், மொழியும் ஏதாவது ஒரு வகையில் தமிழின் தாக்கத்தோடு இருந்திருக்கிறது. அந்த கடற்கரைகளில் உள்ள ஊர்கள் சிலவற்றின் பெயர்கள் உங்கள் பார்வைக்கு:

ஊர் பெயர்களும் அந்த நாடுகளும்:


சபா சந்தகன் – மலேசியா

கூழன், சோழவன், ஊரு, வான்கரை, ஓட்டன்கரை, குமரா- ஆஸ்திரேலியா

கடாலன் – ஸ்பெயின்

நான்மாடல், குமரி,- பசிபிக் கடல்

சோழா, தமிழி பாஸ் –மெக்சிகோ

திங் வெளிர்- ஐஸ்லாந்து


இப்படி அந்த ஆமைகள் சென்ற கடற்கரை நகரங்களின் பெயர்களும் ஒரு சில பகுதிகளில் வசிக்கும் பழங்குடியினத்தினரின் மொழி, பண்பாடு ஆகியன தமிழோடு தொடர்புள்ளதாக இன்றளவும் இருக்கின்றன.

இன்னொரு சுவாரஸ்யிமான விஷயம். ‘சர்க்கரை வள்ளிக்கிழங்கு’(sweet potato) என்பது தமிழ் நாட்டில் விளையும் கிழங்கு வகை. நம் மீனவர்கள் கடலோடும்போது பல நாள் பசி தாங்க இவற்றையே உணவாக கொள்ளும் வழக்கம் இன்றளவும் உள்ளது. இதே வழக்கத்தை தமிழுடன் தொடர்புடையதாக கருதப்படும் பல பழங்குடியின மக்கள் பின்பற்றுகின்றனர். இதில் கவனிக்க வேண்டிய விஷயம் மியானமர், இந்தோனேசியா, ஆஸ்திரேலியாவின் சில பகுதி என பல இடங்களில் நம் சர்க்கரை வள்ளிக்கிழங்கின் பெயர் ‘குமரா’!!

பிசிபிக் கடல் பகுதியில் உள்ள தீவில் வாழும் ஒரு குறிப்பிட்ட இனமக்கள் உபயோகப்படுத்தும் படகின் பெயர் ‘திரி மரம்’. அதில் உள்ள நடு பாகத்தின் பெயர் ‘அம்மா’ வலது பாகம் ‘அக்கா’ இடது பாகம் ‘வக்கா’. அடி பாகம் ‘கீழ்’.

Tamil bell Found in New Zealand

Tamil bell Found in New Zealand

நியுசிலாந்து பகுதியில் 1836ஆம் வருடம் ஒரு பழங்குடியினர் குடியிருப்பில் தமிழ் எழுத்துக்கள் பொறிக்கப்பட்ட இரும்பாலான மணி கண்டெடுக்கப்பட்டுள்ளது. இது பற்றிய தகவல் விக்கிபிடியாவில் உள்ளது. அதை படிக்க சொடுக்கவும்.

இப்படி தமிழுடன் தொடர்புடைய பல விஷயங்களை விஷயங்களை மேலும் பல வருடங்கள் ஆராய்ந்த கலிங்க பாலு அவர்களின் ஆராய்ச்சி முடிவில் பழந்தமிழர்கள் தம்முடைய கடல் பயணங்களுக்கும் படையெடுப்புகளுக்கும் ஆமைகளை வழிகாட்டிகளாக (Navigators) பயன்படுத்தி பல்லாயிரம் மைல்கள் கடந்து பல நாடுகளில் கோளோச்சிருப்பது ஆதாரப் பூரவமாக நிரூபனமாகியிருக்கிறது.

இது பற்றி அவர் பல ஆதாரங்களை முன் வைத்திருக்கிறார். அடுத்த மாதம் இது பற்றிய புத்தகம் அவர் வெளியிட இருப்பதால் நான் பல விஷயங்களை இங்கே பகிர இயலாது.

கலிங்க பாலு அவர்கள் எந்த ஒரு அரசு உதவியுமில்லாமல் இத்தனை ஆண்டுகள் இந்த ஆராய்ச்சிகளை மேற்கொண்டு வந்துள்ளார். இப்போது தான் ஒரு நிறுவனம் நிறுவி அவருடைய ஆராய்ச்சியை தொடர்ந்து வருகிறார். இது பற்றிய ஆர்வமுள்ளவர்கள் அவருக்கு உதவலாம். அவருடைய இமெயில் முகவரி

நான் கலந்துகொண்ட அந்நிகழ்ச்சியில் என்னை வருத்தப் பட வைத்த விஷயம், அரங்கம் நிறைய தமிழ் ஆர்வலர்கள் குழுமியிருந்தனர். ஆனால் பெரும்பாலும் நரைமுடிகளையே காண முடிந்த்து. மொத்தமே 10 இளைஞர்களே என் கண்ணில் பட்டனர். அதிலும் மூவர் ஒலி ஒளி அமைப்பாளர்கள்.

நண்பர்களே நான் அந்நிகழ்ச்சி முடிந்ததும் அதன் ஒருங்கினைப்பாளர்களிடமும் கலிங்க பாலுவிடமும் தனிப்பட்ட முறையில் உரையாடிய போது Facebookகில் நம் சங்கத்தை பற்றியும் நம்முடைய தமிழார்வத்தை பற்றியும் விளக்கி நம்மால் முடிந்த உதவிகளை அவர்களுக்கு செய்வதாக சொன்னேன். அதற்கு அவர்கள் சந்தோஷப் பட்டு ஒரே ஒரு உதவி மட்டுமே கேட்டனர். இளைஞர்களிடம் அதுவும் குறிப்பாக தமிழில் பேசுவதையே இழுக்காக கருதும் இளைஞர்களிடம் இந்த தகவல்களை கொண்டு செல்ல உதவ வேண்டும் என்றார்கள்.

நம்மால் முடிந்தவரை இந்த தகவலை பகிர்ந்து நம்முடைய வரலாற்றை பலருக்கு கொண்டு செல்லுவோம்.



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Bodhidharma (Founder of Zen Buddhism and Shaolin Kung Fu)

Bodhi Dharma(போதிதர்மன்) also known, Da Mo, Bodhitara, P’u-t’i Ta-mo, Ta-mo, Bodai Daruma, and Daruma was born in Kanchi in the Southern Indian kingdom (today’s Tamil Nadu State ) of Pallava around year 440. Bodhi Dharma was the youngest of three brothers in the royal family of the southern Indian kingdom of Pallava king Sugandan. His father, the king Sugandan, also known as Simhavarman was a devoted Buddhist and managed state affairs according to the Buddha’s teachings. At birth Bodhi Dharma was born with a breathing disorder. He was adopted and trained at birth in breathing exercises and combat, namely in the arts of Dravidian warfare arts of Southern India and self-defense techniques such Kuttu Varisai and Pidi Varesai (Punches Series- hand to hand combat with animal styles and locking techniques Similar to Kung Fu and Karate), Malyutham (grappling), Varma Kalai (Secret or Vital Art, Pressure point attacks, In healing and Self-defense similar to Tai Chi or Dim Mak), Silambam (staff fighting), Eretthai or Saydekuche (double stick fighting), Madhu or Madi (deer horn weapon fighting), Surul Pattai or Surul wall (steel blade whip), Val Vitchi (single sword), and Eretthai Val (double short sword) fighting. Bodhidarma also studied Dhyana Buddhism and became the 28th patriarch of that religion.

Bodhidharma's statue near Shaolin Temple

Brief Story:

Shaolin monks and disciples follow a unique practice among Buddhists in that they greet each other using only their right hand. This greeting is a tradition which dates back to Bodhidharma and his disciple, Hui Ke.

In 495 AD, the Indian monk Ba Tuo, or Buddhabhadra, came to China teaching a form of Buddhism known as Xiao Sheng Buddhism. He was given land at the foot of Shaoshi mountain by Emperor Shao Wen and founded the Shaolin Temple on this land.

Shaolin Temple, China

Around the time that Ba Tuo was founding the Shaolin Temple there was an Indian prince named Bodhidharma. Bodhidharma was very intelligent and was the favorite son of the king of India. Bodhidharma had two older brothers who feared that their father, the king, would pass them over and bequeath the kingship to Bodhidharma. In their jealousy, the two older brothers often disparaged Bodhidharma while talking with their father, hoping to turn him against their younger brother. The older brothers also attempted to assassinate Bodhidharma but Bodhidharma had very good karma and so the attempts were not successful. Despite being the favorite son of the king, Bodhidharma realized that he was not interested in a life of politics. He chose instead to study with the famous Buddhist master Prajnatara and become a Buddhist monk.

Bodhidharma trained with his master for many years. One day he asked his master, “Master, when you pass away, where should I go? What should I do?” His master replied that he should go to Zhen Dan, which was the name for China at that time. Years later, Bodhidharma’s master passed away and Bodhidharma prepared to leave for China.

During the many years that Bodhidharma had studied as a monk, one of his older brothers had become king of India and that older brother’s son had become king after him. The king of India was very fond of his uncle and wanted to make amends for the actions which Bodhidharma’s older brothers had taken against him. He asked Bodhidharma to stay near the capital, where he could protect and care for him, but Bodhidharma knew that he must go to China as his master had said.

Seeing that Bodhidharma would not remain, the king of India ordered that carrier pigeons be sent to China with messages asking the people of China to take care of Bodhidharma. These messages made Bodhidharma famous among many Chinese who wondered what was so special about this particular Buddhist monk that the king of India would make such a request.

According to Southeast Asian folklore, Bodhidharma travelled from south India by sea to Sumatra, Indonesia for the purpose of spreading the Mahayana doctrine. From Palembang, he went north into what are now Malaysia and Thailand. He travelled the region transmitting his knowledge of Buddhism and martial arts before eventually entering China through Vietnam. Malay legend holds that Bodhidharma introduced preset forms to silat.

In 527 AD, 32 years after Ba Tuo’s founding of the Shaolin temple, Bodhidharma crossed through Guangdong province into China. In China, he was known as Da Mo. Bodhidharma arrived in China practicing Da Sheng (Mahayana) Buddhism. When Bodhidharma arrived, he was greeted by a large crowd of people who had heard of the famous Buddhist master and wished to hear him speak. Rather than speak, Bodhidharma sat down and began meditating. He meditated for many hours. Upon completing his meditation, Bodhidharma rose and walked away, saying nothing.

His actions had a profound effect upon his audience. Some people laughed, some cried, some were angry and some nodded their heads in understanding. Regardless of the emotion, everyone in the crowd had a reaction.

This incident made Bodhidharma even more famous, so famous that Emperor Wu heard of him. Emperor Wu, who ruled over the southern kingdom of China, invited Bodhidharma to come to his palace. When Bodhidharma arrived, Emperor Wu talked with Bodhidharma about Buddhism. The emperor had erected many statues and temples devoted to Buddhism. He had given much wealth to Buddhist temples. In talking of his accomplishments, Emperor Wu asked Bodhidharma if his actions were good. Bodhidharma replied that they were not. This response surprised Emperor Wu, but they continued talking and eventually Emperor Wu asked Bodhidharma if there was Buddha in this world. Bodhidharma replied that there was not.

Bodhidharma’s replies were a reflection of Emperor Wu. By asking if his actions were good, Emperor Wu was searching for compliments and affirmation from Bodhidharma. Bodhidharma denied that Emperor Wu’s actions were good because it is the duty of the emperor to care for his people. Rather than seeking compliments, Emperor Wu should have been content to help his people through Buddha. Similarly, if one asks if there is Buddha in the world, then one has already answered the question: Buddha is a matter of faith, you either believe in your heart or you do not. In questioning the existence of Buddha, Emperor Wu had demonstrated a lack of faith.

Bodhidharma’s answers enraged Emperor Wu and he ordered Bodhidharma to leave his palace and never return. Bodhidharma simply smiled, turned and left.

Bodhidharma continued his journey, heading north, when he reached the city of Nanjing. In the city of Nanjing, there was a famous place called the Flower Rain Pavillion where many people gathered to speak and relax. There was a large crowd of people gathered in the Flower Rain Pavillion around a Buddhist monk, who was lecturing. This Buddhist monk was named Shen Guang.

Shen Guang had at one time been a famous general. He had killed many people in battle but one day realized that the people he had been killing had family and friends and that one day someone might come and kill him. This changed him and he decided to train as a Buddhist monk. Eventually, Shen Guang became a great speaker on Buddhism. As Bodhidharma neared the crowd, he listened to Shen Guang’s speech. Sometimes Shen Guang would speak and Bodhidharma would nod his head, as if in agreement. Sometimes Shen Guang would speak and Bodhidharma would shake his head, as if in disagreement. As this continued, Shen Guang became very angry at the strange foreign monk who dared to disagree with him in front of this crowd. In anger, Shen Guang took the Buddhist beads from around his neck and flicked them at Bodhidharma. The beads struck Bodhidharma in his face, knocking out two of his front teeth. Bodhidharma immediately began bleeding. Shen Guang expected a confrontation; instead, Bodhidharma smiled, turned and walked away.

This reaction astounded Shen Guang, who began following after Bodhidharma.

Bodhidharma continued north until he reached the Yangzi river. Seated by the river there was an old woman with a large bundle of reeds next to her. Bodhidharma walked up to the old woman and asked her if he might have a reed. She replied that he might. Bodhidharma took a single reed, placed it upon the surface of the Yangzi river and stepped onto the reed. He was carried across the Yangzi river by the force of his chi. Seeing this, Shen Guang ran up to where the old woman sat and grabbed a handful of reeds without asking. He threw the reeds onto the Yangzi river and stepped onto them. The reeds sank beneath him and Shen Guang began drowning. The old woman saw his plight and took pity on Shen Guang, pulling him from the river. As Shen Guang lay on the ground coughing up river water, the old woman admonished him. She said that by not asking for her reeds before taking them, he had shown her disrespect and that by disrespecting her, Shen Guang had disrespected himself. The old woman also told Shen Guang that he had been searching for a master and that Bodhidharma, the man he was following, was that master. As she said this, the reeds which had sunk beneath Shen Guang rose again to the surface of the river and Shen Guang found himself on the reeds being carried across the Yangzi river. He reached the other side and continued following after Bodhidharma.

There are many people who believe that the old woman by the river was a Boddhisatva who was helping Shen Guang to end the cycle of his samsara.

Way To Cave

At this point, Bodhidharma was nearing the location of the Shaolin Temple. The Shaolin monks had heard of his approach and were gathered to meet him. When Bodhidharma arrived, the Shaolin monks greeted him and invited him to come stay at the temple. Bodhidharma did not reply but he went to a cave on a mountain behind the Shaolin Temple, sat down, and began meditating. In front of the Shaolin Temple, there are five mountains: Bell Mountain, Drum Mountain, Sword Mountain, Stamp Mountain and Flag Mountain. These mountains are named after the objects which their shape resembles. Behind the Shaolin Temple there are five “Breast Mountains” which are shaped like breasts. The cave in which Bodhidharma chose to meditate was on one of the Breast Mountains.

Way To Cave

Bodhidharma sat facing a wall in the cave and meditated for nine years. During these nine years, Shen Guang stayed outside Bodhidharma’s cave and acted as a bodyguard for Bodhidharma, ensuring that no harm came to Bodhidharma. Periodically Shen Guang would ask Bodhidharma to teach him, but Bodhidharma never responded to Shen Guang’s requests. During these nine years the Shaolin monks would also periodically invite Bodhidharma to come down to the Temple, where he would be much more comfortable, but Bodhidharma never responded. After some time, Bodhidharma’s concentration became so intense that his image was engraved into the stone of the wall before him.

Bodhidharma 9yr Meditation Cave

Towards the end of the nine years, the Shaolin monks decided that they must do something more for Bodhidharma and so they made a special room for him. They called this room the Bodhidharma Ting. When this room was completed at the end of the nine years, the Shaolin monks invited Bodhidharma to come stay in the room. Bodhidharma did not respond but he stood up, walked down to the room, sat down, and immediately began meditating. Shen Guang followed Bodhidharma to the Shaolin temple and stood guard outside Bodhidharma’s room. Bodhidharma meditated in his room for another four years. Shen Guang would occasionally ask Bodhidharma to teach him, but Bodhidharma never responded.

At the end of the four-year period Shen Guang had been following Bodhidharma for thirteen years, but Bodhidharma had never said anything to Shen Guang. It was winter when the four-year period was ending and Shen Guang was standing in the snow outside the window to Bodhidharma’s room. He was cold and became very angry. He picked up a large block of snow and ice and hurled it into Bodhidharma’s room. The snow and ice made a loud noise as it broke inside Bodhidharma’s room. This noise awoke Bodhidharma from his meditation and he looked at Shen Guang. In anger and frustration Shen Guang demanded to know when Bodhidharma would teach him.

Bodhidharma responded that he would teach Shen Guang when red snow fell from the sky.
Hearing this, something inside Shen Guang’s heart changed and he took the sword he carried from his belt and cut off his left arm. He held the severed arm above his head and whirled it around. The blood from the arm froze in the cold air and fell like red snow. Seeing this, Bodhidharma agreed to teach Shen Guang.

Bodhidharma took a monk’s spade and went with Shen Guang to the Drum Mountain in front of Shaolin Temple. The Drum Mountain is so called because it is very flat on top. Bodhidharma’s unspoken message to Shen Guang was that Shen Guang should flatten his heart, just like the surface of the Drum Mountain. On this Drum Mountain Bodhidharma dug a well. The water of this well was bitter. Bodhidharma then left Shen Guang on the Drum Mountain. For an entire year, Shen Guang used the bitter water of the well to take care of all of his needs. He used it to cook, to clean, to bathe, to do everything. At the end of the first year, Shen Guang went down to Bodhidharma and again asked Bodhidharma to teach him. Bodhidharma returned with Shen Guang to the Drum Mountain and dug a second well. The water of this well was spicy. For an entire year, Shen Guang used the spicy water for all of his needs. At the end of the second year, Shen Guang went back down to Bodhidharma and asked again to be taught. Bodhidharma dug a third well on the Drum Mountain. The water of this third well was sour. For the third year, Shen Guang used the sour water for all of his needs. At the end of the third year, Shen Guang returned to Bodhidharma and agains asked to be taught. Bodhidharma returned to the Drum Mountain and dug a fourth and final well. The water of this well was sweet. At this point, Shen Guang realized that the four wells represented his life. Like the wells, his life would sometimes be bitter, sometimes sour, sometimes spicy and sometimes sweet. Each of these phases in his life was equally beautiful and necessary, just as each of the four seasons of the year is beautiful and necessary in its own way. Without really saying many words to Shen Guang, Bodhidharma had taught Shen Guang the most important of lessons in a mind-to-mind, heart-to-heart fashion. This mind-to- mind, heart-to-heart communication is called “action language” and is the foundation of the Chan Buddhism which Bodhidharma began at the Shaolin Temple.

After his realization, Shen Guang was given the name Hui Ke and he became abbot of the Shaolin temple after Bodhidharma.

To pay respect for the sacrifice which Hui Ke made, disciples and monks of the Shaolin Temple greet each other using only their right hand.

Legend of Bodhidharma

“According to the Jingde of the Lamp, after Bodhidharma, a Buddhist monk from South India, left the court of the Liang emperor Wu in 527, he eventually found himself at the Shaolin Monastery, where he “faced a wall for nine years, not speaking for the entire time”.”

According to the Yì Jīn Jīng,

“after Bodhidharma faced the wall for nine years at Shaolin temple and made a hole with his stare, he left behind an iron chest. When the monks opened this chest they found two books: the “Marrow Cleansing Classic,” and the “Muscle Tendon Change Classic”, or “Yi Jin Jing” within. The first book was taken by Bodhidharma’s disciple Huike, and disappeared; as for the second, the monks selfishly coveted it, practicing the skills therein, falling into heterodox ways, and losing the correct purpose of cultivating the Real. The Shaolin monks have made some fame for themselves through their fighting skill; this is all due to their possession of this manuscript.”

Influence outside China

Some lineages of Karate have oral traditions that claim Shaolin origins. Martial arts traditions in Japan and Korea, and Southeast Asia cite Chinese influence as transmitted by Buddhist monks.

Recent developments in the 20th century such as Shorinji Kempo practised in Japan’s Sohonzan Shorinji still maintains close ties with China’s Song Shan Shaolin Temple due to historic links. Japanese Shorinji Kempo Group financial contributions to the maintenance of the historic edifice of the Song Shan Shaolin Temple in 2003 received China’s recognition.

After death

Three years after Bodhidharma’s death, Ambassador Song Yun of northern Wei is said to have seen him walking while holding a shoe at the Pamir Heights. Song Yun asked Bodhidharma where he was going, to which Bodhidharma replied “I am going home”. When asked why he was holding his shoe, Bodhidharma answered “You will know when you reach Shaolin monastery. Don’t mention that you saw me or you will meet with disaster”. After arriving at the palace, Song Yun told the emperor that he met Bodhidharma on the way. The emperor said Bodhidharma was already dead and buried, and had Song Yun arrested for lying. At the Shaolin Temple, the monks informed them that Bodhidharma was dead and had been buried in a hill behind the temple. The grave was exhumed and was found to contain a single shoe. The monks then said “Master has gone back home” and prostrated three times.

For nine years he had remained and nobody knew him;
Carrying a shoe in hand he went home quietly, without ceremony

South Indian Martial Art Pic

Varma KalaiVarma Kalai



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