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Issue No. 130

இதழ் 130
[ நவம்பர் 2016 ]

இந்த இதழில்..
In this Issue..

பத்துப்பாட்டில் கட்டடக்கலை - 1
சங்க காலத்தின் காலம்?
பூதவரியில் குதிரையும் சிங்கமும்
Ammai in Banteay Srei and the Tamil Maritime Links in South East Asia
Issue No. 130 > English Section


Chandrasekaraswami Temple – Thiruchchedurai

Sri Visvanatha – Visalatchi Shrine

Sri Visvanatha-Visalatchi shrine lies southwest of the main shrine and it consists of a sanctum and a mukha mandapa. The shrine has an adhishthana, bhitti, prastara. The padabandha adhishthana is partially inside the ground, only the kantha complex, pattika and the upari kampa are visible. The bhitti that raise little inside the uparikampa is sectioned by brahmakantha pilasters that possess capital components of mala, sthana, padmakattu, kalasa, tadi, kumbha, pali, phalaka and virakantha. The mala and the sthana are ornamented with scrolls and festoons and miniatures. The kalasa, kumbha and pali are ornamented with embossed work.    

The potikas are angular-taranga with kulavu and are three limbed at the corners. The potikas bear the uttira and followed by vajana and valabhi. Valabhi is adorned with bhuta frieze. The kapota is ornamented with well formed kudus at frequent intervals, pattas in the corners and chandramandalas in the ridges. The tala ends with bhumidesa, represented with aaliga and anthari. Niches are shown on north, south and west which are flanked by brahmakantha split pilasters and crowned by makara torana. Pilasters carry the same ornamentation of the pilasters of mother wall but mala and sthana are absent, as like, the makara toranas also remain incomplete. The mukha mandapa is smaller in width comparing the sanctum. As like the sanctum the mukha mandapa is also cantoned by four brahmakantha pilasters on all sides carrying same features of the pilasters of the sanctum walls. Here the niches are absent.

The entrance to the shrine is on the east and the doorway is flanked by split pilasters, the potikas above the split pilasters are plain-angular. Jambs, sill and lintel are arranged in the doorway. The sanctum houses a small Linga and a goddess.

Bhuta Ganas

The bhuta frieze in the valabhi is a remarkable feature to mention. The series is continuous on the north, south and west but on the eastern side it is absent at two patches. Besides ganas, the corners are adorned with yazhi and along with it on either side other miniatures are shown. The ganas are active; mostly in dancing gestures, apart from that, frisking, frolicking, handling instrument, conversing with the neighbour are also seen. Overall it gives a lively feel. In addition, peacocks are also shown in the series equally in active posture, adding the liveliness of the frieze.   

The ganas are adorned with short attire and decked with ornaments like charapali, beaded mala, bangles, armlets, patrakundalas and udarabandha. The yajnopavita is worn in upavita fashion. Two of the ganas are seen wearing in different way, from right to left. Some of ganas are decked with beaded ornaments and some are decked with stone studded ornaments. For most of the ganas the locks are arranged as jatabhara while for some the locks are gathered and knotted in the apex. 

Regarding the number of ganas, six are seen on the eastern side, seventeen on the western side, twenty five on the south and twenty two on the north. Totally there are six peacocks, found on all sides except west, one on the east, two on the south and three on the north.

Almost all the ganas are in dancing gestures except few who handle instruments. For the ganas in gestures, their hands are either raised up or positioned down and their palms showing mudras or hastas viz., pataka, recita, danda, kataka, pottri, abhaya, varada, tarjani, suchi, etc. Instrumentalists are seen exclusively on the southern side.

Among the six ganas of the eastern side, the first three ganas are with their right hand positioned down in pataka whereas the other three ganas with their left hand positioned down, in that two with their palm in eulogize and one in tarjani.  Except the third gana the rest of the ganas are with their other hand raised up and showing either recita or kataka or pottri. The third gana’s left hand is in danda hasta. Here all the ganas are adorned with beaded ornaments.  


There are nearly ten instrumentalists found on the southern side; two ganas are handling idakkai, one gana mattala, three ganas pot like instrument, two flute, one conch and one cymbal. 

Among the flutist, the one found in the end of the sanctum is little worn out, while the handling of the instrument for the other two is beautifully exhibited. Their mouth is in gesture of blowing air and fingers blocking the holes accordingly. The gana that blow conch is holding the instrument in both the hands and mouth in gesture of blowing. The ganas that are handling idakkai is holding the instrument on their left hand and their right hand is striking the instrument and their facial expression is to the rhythm. One of the gana is seen carrying the mattala close to his chest. Three of the ganas are handling a pot like instrument. In that two are contiguous to each other, one of the gana placed the pot on his right leg and the other on his left leg and their gestures shows they are elated in their performance and also a sense of contention is seen.


The rest of the ganas form part of the troupe with their hand gestures; some are with their both hands raised up and in eulogize, some are with their hands in pataka and danda hasta combination, some are with their hands in pataka and recita, some are in abhaya and varada hastas. Apart from these few are gimmicking, a gana on the sanctum side is seen stretching its mouth widely with its hands, another one in the mandapa side standing upside down with his hands on the floor.


On the western side almost all the ganas are paired with their neighbour in their gestures. On the northern end next to a single female gana is a pair looks like conjoined twins with their right hand folded towards their chest and their left hand in eulogize in different pose. Both the ganas are fully decked with beaded ornaments. The next pair in elated mood; their right hand raised up and in vismaya whereas their left hand is in kataka, their head slightly tilted left and facing up in expression showing that they were awestruck. In between these two pair is a single gana in gesture of kataka.

Another pair in the middle of the series is also with their inner hand folded towards their chest and their outer hand raised up and their head tilted left in sequence to their gesture. In that one of the gana is wearing the yajnopavita from right to left. On the southern end, three monkey faced ganas are seen, in that two are chain locking their inner hand and their outer hand stretched on their side. The nature of locking whether joyous or combating is unable to understand due to white wash coating. The other gana is carrying a stick on its right hand.


As like other sides, the ganas on the northern side also are with their hands in various gestures. Most of the ganas are showing kataka mudra. One noted addition in this side is a male-female pair, their right hand raised up and in eulogize, their left hand is in suchi. Instead of yajnopavita the female gana is adorned with beaded chhannavira. Contiguous to them another pair seems to be in the gesture of conversation in that one of the gana has placed his hands on his counterpart, looks as if soothing.

The peacocks in the series are seen both in profile pose and also in front pose, the features are best exhibited in the profile pose. The birds are with wide eyes, thick plumage, sharp beak and claws. The plumage is beautifully shown as curls.


Among the four corners of the sanctum; both on the northeast and the southeast corners along with yazhi, nandi is shown on one side and an animal carrying its baby on its mouth is seen on other side. On the northwest corner reclining baby Krishna and an animal is shown. On the southwest corner three ganas are shown in standing posture on the southern face, in that two are carrying bowl in their one hand. On the west face two monkeys are seen seated in the usual monkey posture with their tail erect and both looking each other, looks as if in conversation.  


In the mandapa, on the eastern face, both the corners snake charmer ganas are seen. The gana on the southern side is seated kneeling and stooping towards the snake that held by him on his left hand and his right hand is rousing the snake. A monkey seated near is viewing the act. As like on the southern side, a gana is entertaining a woman with a snake, which is with raised hood. The woman is in astonishment, seated in suhasana with her right hand placed on the floor and her left hand on her cheek. The lady is adorned with attire and usual ornaments. Besides, two ganas worshipping a Linga is seen on the southern face and baby Krishna in reclining posture is seen on the northern face.


The miniatures are noteworthy to mention, the mala and the sthana of some of the pilasters are carved with miniatures depicting either Puranic themes or dancing scenes. Two miniatures are depicted in the mala section along with the scroll ornamentation.   

The south-east corner pilaster possesses miniatures both on the eastern and southern faces. Surpanakha’s nose chopping and Kovarthanagiri is depicted on the mala section of the eastern face. Though the miniatures are little worn out but the scenes can be clearly understood. In Kovarthanagiri the deity is standing with his right hand raised holding the hillock and the left hand stretching on his side, cattle are seen to his right. A short attire is visible in his lower body.

In Surpanakha’s nose chopping scene, Lakshmana is seen with his left leg planted on the floor and the right leg lifted up and placed on Surpanakha to clutch her, his left hand is holding the face of Surpanakha and his right hand is raised up. His body posture shows the force that he exert. Surpanakha is shown seated on the floor with her left leg folded upright and the right leg stretched, her right hand is placed on the floor to balance herself to bear the thrust exerted by her opponent and the left hand is in protest.

On the southern face goddess Kali with her attendants are depicted in the sthana section, Lord Siva and goddess Kali dancing with sula is shown in the mala section. In the former goddess Kali is seated in utkutikasana with sula in the front right hand resting on the corpse at her foot and skull bowl on the front left hand. The objects that are carried in the back hands are not clear. Her locks spread as virisadai and the goddess is adorned with short attire and idaikattu. The two attendants on either side are carrying snake on their outer hand and their inner hand is raised up, holding the whisk. Such miniature is also seen in the kantha-patha section at Thiruchennampundi.

Aslike, Siva-Kali trisul dance is another excellent carving in which both are in knee bend posture with their outer leg placed in suchi cari and both carrying the sula in their left hand whereas their right hand is raised up. Both are adorned with attire and ornaments.

On the western side three pilasters possess miniatures carved in the mala section; in one of the pilaster Ammaiyappar and dancing Siva is depicted, two female dancers are seen in one of the pilaster, a performing troupe of three females are seen in another pilaster.

The Ammaiyappar miniature is an excellent workmanship in which the goddess is depicted on the left side. The deity is standing with the left leg in sama and the right leg in tryasra with a bend in the knee, the upper body is slightly leaned towards right and the right hand is resting on Nandi who is standing behind. The head is slightly tilted towards left. The posture is excellently handled by the sculptor, the leaning and tilting adds grace to the sculpture. The left hand is folded upwards and carrying deer. The deity is adorned with a short attire with idaikattu slackly worn above it. The locks are arranged as jatamakuta and the ornaments like charapali, kundalas are seen. Even though a miniature the features are excellently carried out by the sculptor giving an experience of a life size sculpture.

In another portion Siva is dancing in urthuvajanu with sula, the posture is excellently handled by the sculptor. His back hands carry damru in the right and sula in the left and the front hands are in mudras. The sula possess a long shaft. The deity is dressed in short attire with idaikattu worn over it. His locks are arranged as jatamakuta and ornaments like charapali, bangles and kundalas are seen. The yajnopavita is worn in upavita fashion.


In another pilaster on the west three females are shown in the mala section while the middle one is dancing, the other two are handling idakkai for the performance. The dancer in knee bend posture is with her right leg in suchi cari and the left hand in recita. Among the two instrumentalists the female to the left of the dancer is handling the instrument along with the gesture of dance. All are adorned with long attire extending upto their ankle and idaikattu above it. Besides charapali, kundalas, bangles are the ornaments adorned by them.  On the northern side two female dancers are shown in the mala section of a pilaster. On a hole the miniatures are excellent workmanship exhibiting the skill of the early chola sculptors.

 Four inscriptions are found in the adhishthana of the shrine which were copied and published by the ASI in the year 1903. (Text SII 8 : 633, 634, 635, 636.) Among the four inscriptions, one belongs to certain Rajakesari, one to Rajathiraja, and the other two inscriptions are much damaged hence the author is not known. Among the four inscriptions three inscriptions (SII 8 : 633, 634, 636) speak about a Vishnu temple called Puzhalaya vinnagar.

An inscription (633) found on the southern base of the shrine speaks about the construction of a Vishnu temple by certain Puzhalaya chetti of Thanjavur, a Karnataka merchant and named it after him as Puzhalaya Vinnagar.

The inscription details about the circumstances under which the temple had been constructed; Puzhalaya chetti aspires a charity that would benefit the society, the information was consulted with the ‘Parudai’ the Sabha of the Isanamangalam and in turn the sabha suggested for the construction of a Vishnu temple in the village. In addition, the sabha also accepted to carry the name of the shrine as Puzhalaya vinnagar, which supposed to be a stone vimana. The day of agreement itself was considered as an auspicious day and foundation was laid. The laying of foundation is also described in the inscription, a rare reference, the earth had to be excavated and the sand and water filled ground had to be leveled with the help of elephant. The inscription also further states that the deity had to be brought from the North and to be installed after performing the rituals.

Other information gleaned through the inscription is Vellan Subhakaraiyan and Gangaperumanadi Arinjakudi Vellalan Puzhalayan were the residents of this village in some way related to the construction of the temple. The inscription mentions the river Cauvery as the Ganges of South (Dakshinagangai). Besides, the status of the merchants is highlighted in the inscription as the one who were able to enter all the countries. One of the important fact gleamed through the inscription is that the strength of the ‘Parudai’ as four hundred and one.

A 20th regnal year Rajakesari inscription (634) speaks about various arrangements between Parudai and Puzhalaya chetti viz., sale of land, remittance of taxes, gift of gold. The sabha receives five kalanju of gold from Puzhalaya chetti by selling the land (nurupaththi) that lie adjoining the temple, including the groves in it. Another five kalanju of gold was received from the same person as a deposit for tax remittance for the sold land. Every year, it is agreed to measure, probably paddy, in Puzhalaya vinnagar premises itself. The ‘Parudai’ undertake the responsibility to carry out these jobs accordingly. As the inscription is worn out in some places, the link between these agreements is uncertain.   

Above all, this inscription also mentions the construction of Sri Koil Puzhalaya vinnagar, a stone temple, by Thanjavur Madigai Manikka vaaniyan Karunadaga Puzhalaya Chetti. An important fact of the inscription is that it carries regnal year and title which is worn out in the other inscriptions. On paleography ground the inscription is assigned to Aditya Chola I by the experts of Dr. M. Rasamanikkanar Centre for Historical Research. Hence it not only authenticates the existence of the Puzhalaya vinnagar during Aditya Chola I period but also possibility of being the earliest shrine to the temple complex. 

The 12th regnal year inscription (635) of Rajatharaja speaks about endowment of lamp by Aadhichcha Udaiyapillai, a vellala of this village. Thiruvarangamudaiyan Venkatavan, a Vaigasana accepted the responsibility to burn a lamp in the evening (santhiyadeepam) in this temple premise and for that he received five kasu.  

The 8th regnal year inscription (No. 636, king name lost) speaks about the sale deed and endowment of land to Puzhalaya vinnagar.  Puzhalaya chetti purchased the land from the Parudai for an amount of 40 kalanju of gold, also includes plot and well that lie within it. Besides, another 70 kalanju of gold was deposited by Puzhalaya chetti with the Parudai for tax remittance. Boundary of the land is given in detail. The inscription ends with the phrase that the endowment to be under the protection of the Vaishnavas and the Maheswaras (,J it\;zth; uf;i\/ khbA!;tuh; uf;i\) which reveals the harmony that prevailed between these two sects.  

Though the above mentioned inscriptions of this shrine speak in detail about the construction of a stone vimana for Vishnu, naming it as Puzhalaya Vinnagar in tribute to the endower Puzhalaya chetti, gift of land, produce etc. but the point of contradiction is, there is no direct reference in any of the inscription pointing the Viswanatha shrine as the same Sri vimana constructed by Puzhalaya Chetti. Besides, at present the shrine in which the inscriptions are found is a Saiva shrine. The presence of saiva oriented miniatures in the mala-sthala and the ganas in the valabhi are added factors to authenticate it as a Saiva shrine.

However, at present no Vishnu temple in the form of stone vimana is found in this village. If it had been constructed somewhere in the village, being a stone temple atleast remnant of it should be found, not even trace of it is seen. Another fact to argue is that being a stone vimana, inscriptions relating to that temple, had all possibility to be carried in its premises itself. If this point is considered, then the Viswanatha shrine should be the Sri Vimana constructed by Puzhalaya chetti. To add to this fact, the Vaigasana Thiruvarangamudaiyan Venkatavan accepted to burn a lamp in this temple premise, being a vaishnavite burning the lamp in the Vishnu temple is more relevant. If these points are taken into consideration, this shrine can be the Puzhalaya vinnagar. However, the presence of saiva oriented miniatures and ganas are the stumbling blocks to confirm.  

இப்படைப்பு குறித்த தங்கள் கருத்துக்கள் வரவேற்கப்படுகின்றன. கீழுள்ள படிவத்தில் தமிழிலோ ஆங்கிலத்திலோ பின்னூட்டமிடலாம். தமிழில் பின்னூட்டமிட ஏதேனும் ஒரு தமிழ்ச் செயலி பின்னணி செயல்பாட்டில் இருக்க வேண்டும்.
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