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Issue No. 39

இதழ் 39
[ செப்டம்பர் 16 - அக்டோபர் 15, 2007 ]


இந்த இதழில்..
In this Issue..

வரலாற்று முடிவுகளும் மதநம்பிக்கைகளும்
நல்லூர்ப் பஞ்சரங்கள்
திரும்பிப் பார்க்கிறோம் - 11
பிள்ளையார் வழிபாட்டின் தோற்றமும் வளர்ச்சியும்
திருச்சிராப்பள்ளி மலைக்கோட்டை வட்டெழுத்துக் கல்வெட்டுகள்
அங்கும் இங்கும் (செப். 16 - அக். 15)
The Gajabahu Synchronism
காதலியின் கவலையும் சங்க கால வேட்டையும்
சங்ககாலத்து உணவும் உடையும் - 3
Issue No. 39 > Readers Special
The Gajabahu Synchronism
Prof. S.Ganesan
About the Author...

S.Ganesan (b.1941) is a Retd. Professor of English, Yadava College, Madurai. He has translated Pudumaipithan's 'Narada Ramayanam' into English available at Amazon.com. He has edited 'Thirumurugarrupadai'. The book was released in 2001 in Mauritius at International Skanda Murugan Conference when he presented a research paper too in English. He reviewed I.Mahadevan's 'Early Tamil Epigraphy' in IJDL. He is a life member of T.N. Archaeological Society, S.I.Numismatic Society and Dravidian Linguistic Association. At the annual conference of DLA he piloted the resoultion calling for the re-excavaction of Adichanallur, which Dr V.I.Subramoniam at once took up with the then Union Minister Jag Mohan and the re-excavation became a reality. He is now editing 'Silappathikaram'.

While many consider 'Gayavahu' as Gajabahu, a literary mythical character, Gayavahu's epigraphs find a place in the 'Inscriptions of Ceylon' by Paranaritana. In one inscription he calls himself 'Gayavahu' as in 'Silappathikaram'.

Now... The Gajabahu Synchronism...

'Silappathikaram' mentions King Gajabahu of Sri Lanka as the contemporary of King Chenguttuvan of the Chera Dynasty. The Gajabahu synchronism was the only source material for fixing the date of the Sangam Age before the discovery of epigraphic and numismatic evidences which established the historicity of the Sangam Kings. There is still unwarranted confusion confounded by misrepresentation and distortion of facts regarding the Gajabahu episode.

The very name Gajabahu is wrongly considered 'a generic name to indicate several rulers of a particular dynasty in Ceylon'1. But there were only two Gajabahus. Gajabahu I belonged to the 2nd century A.D. and Gajabahu II, to the 12th century AD. The earliest Sri Lankan chronicle 'Mahavamsa' calls Gajabahu I as 'GajabahuKagamani'. He was the contemporary of Chenguttuvan. His inscriptions are found in Sri Lanka, He is not a fictitious figure.

The Gajabahu synchronism is based on the primary Tamil source, 'Silappathikaram'. Elango mentions the presence of 'King Gayavahu of Lanka surrounded by seas' (30:160) at the consecration of the Kannagi temple. 'Gayavahu' is undoubtedly the Tamil form of 'Gajabahu'. The matter is corroborated by and further elaborated in the prefatory prose of the epic:

'King Gayavahu of Lanka encircled by the seas set up for Kannagi first an altar and then a temple wherein daily sacrifices were offered. Knowing that the Goddess would grant boons and dispel distress, the King instituted annual festivals with processions in his city roads in the month of Aadi. Henceforth the rains did not fail and his country prospered with unfailing yield' (Uraiperukatturai, para. 3). Both the commentators Adiyarkunallar and Arumpathavuraiasriyar commented on Elango's statement supporting his view.

Adiyarkunallar, the commentator, explains the procession as 'Ula' which in Sinhalese means 'Perehara' by which name it is even now called.

The annual Pereharas in Kandy took place on Mondays in 'Aadi' corresponding to July – August. 'Aadi' was the month of Kannagi's apotheosis. In Aadi, the Pattini festival is celebrated all over Sri Lanka. In Tamilnadu the Pattini worship has been amalgamated into the broad stream of the cult of mother goddesses like Mariamman and Draupadiamman. But the 'Aadi' celebrations continue to be held with undiminished fervour.

'Perehara' seems to be the Sinhalese form of the Tamil word 'Pirahara' denoting the pathway around a temple. 'Perehara' is the sacred procession honouring a deity to the accompaniment of dance, music and other forms of rejoicing.

The Perehara at Kandy, as it was celebrated till about the middle of the 18th century, was exclusively in honour of the Four Deities, Natha, Vishnu, Katargama (Murugan) and Pattini. The most sacred object of worship was the painted stick, hung with flowers, symbolising Kannagi worship. 'Silappathikaram' alone explains the significance of the painted stick. Adiyarkunallar, the

commentator, describes how Jayanta, Indra's son, was cursed by sage Agasthya for his improper behaviour to be born as a bamboo stick. Later Agasthya mitigated the curse by proclaiming that the painted decorated stick known as Talaikol'3 should be taken in a procession as a symbol of the art of dance.

In 1775 A.D. during the reign of King Kirti Sri the sacred Dalada Relic of the Buddha was also carried in the procession along with the insignia of the four deities. Since then 'Perehara' has become a composite Hindu-Buddhist festival4.

There is no reference to Gajabahu's visit in any other Sangam poem. Even 'Pathirrupathu' with the Chera genealogy does not mention it (contrary to the view of J.R.Marr5).

Elango's version is corroborated by a SriLankan primary source, the Rajavaliya, a later chronicle. It describes how on one of his usual nightly rounds in his city, Gajabahu heard the loud wail of an old lady over the fate of her only son, a prisoner of war in the Chola country. Enraged, he invaded the Chola land and secured the release of all the 12, 000 prisoners of war. He also brought an equal number of Tamil captives. He also brought from the Chola country "the foot ornaments of Pattini Dewey, the aims of the four gods and the patra Lawtoo Buddhu which had been taken during the time of the former king"6. The introduction of the Pattini cult by Gajabahu I is, therefore, not a myth.

It is true that 'Mahavamsa' the early chronicle was silent about the whole episode like other unpleasant facts. It is understandable that the later chronicle had no other alternative but to mention the facts, as the Pattini cult was too well established to be ignored.

The Rajavaliya's account of Gajabahu's raid into the Chola lands is not based on facts. Then Chola King was the brother- in -law of the powerful Chenguttuvan. Chenguttuvan militarily came to the rescue of his brother -in- law attacked by his Tamil enemies. He would not have kept quiet, had Gajabahu raided the Chola land. Nor would he have invited him to his capital in such an eventuality. Hence Gajabahu's invasion is a myth.

Only 'Silappathikaram' offers a logical explanation for Gajabahu's successful mission. His visit to the Chera capital seemed to be a diplomatic masterstroke to obtain the safe release of the prisoners of war without shedding blood. Probably as a mark of thanksgiving, he inaugurated the Pattini cult

The Tamil tradition refers to Karikalan's commandeering the services of Sri Lankan captives in raising the dikes of Kaveri and building the port of Puhar. The Kaveri dikes are called 'Karikalakarai' in the inscriptions of Paranthaka Chola I of 10* century (ARE 287 of 1911 and ARE 129 of 1895). Karikalan's invasion took place when there was confusion in Sri Lanka during the reign of Gajabahu's father. Some scholars hold tile opinion that the Tamil invasions were aimed at controlling the ports of Sri Lanka in order to prevent the Sri Lankans from trading directly with Rome7. It was an invasion with unalloyed commercial motive.

Chenguttuvan seemed to have obtained total control over the West Coast by ridding it of the priacy of Kadambas. Hence his title 'Kadal Pirakkottiya'. Puram 126 describes in l.14 - 16 how Kuttuvan sent ships fetching gold in the Western seas ensuring that no other ships ventured into the seas. While Chenguttuvan controlled the Western seas, the Cholas and the Pandyas controlled the Eastern seas enforcing the transhipment of products from Sri Lanka and East Asia through Tamil ports to the West. 'Silappathikaram' in 14:106-109 describes the products from Sri Lanka and East Asia traded in the interior city of Madurai itself. The same products like camphor of Barus and the sandalwood of Timor are mentioned by Kenneth R. Hall as the exports of South East Asia in 2nd century A.D. routed through Indian ports8.

The Tamils of Batticola ('mattakalappu' in Tamil means a level swamp) claim to have settled there at the invitation of Gajabahu who during his visit to the Chera capital appreciated their skill in raising paddy in their swamps. Their claim to have been migrants from Kerala has not been challenged by any one9. It also accounts for certain distinct features of the culture of the area reflecting the culture of Kerala. It explains the basis of the theory of 'Rajavaliya* that Gajabahu-l brought 12, 000 captives from Tamilnadu.

Gajabahu's visit to the Chera capital is the first recorded visit of a Sri Lankan King to Tamilnadu. It is in keeping with the historical tradition of Sri Lanka. The 'Mahavamsa' (29,39) mentions the Greek Buddhists among the invitees of the Sinhalese King Dutugamun (161 - 137 B.C) for the inauguration of the Mahathupa (Ruvanwali Mahasaya)10. It was Dutugamun who vanquished the great Tamil ruler of Sri Lanka, Elara. (145-101 B.C.)

Elara of Chola origin ruled Srilanka for 44 years. He was justly praised for his just rule. He sentenced his own son to death for driving his chariot over a calf. The Mahavamsa was all praise for him (ch. 21 - 25).

It is Elango who is the first to refer to the incident of the Prince and the calf in Tamil literature through the mouth of Kannagi in the memorable court scene (20: 53 - 55). He refers to him again in 'Kathai' 23 (1 .59) and in 'Kathai' 29

('Ammanaivari') as the King who meted out justice to the cow. He does not mention his name. Nor does his contemporary Chathanar who too mentions the incident in 'Manimekalai' (22:21). Later Tamil poets and epigraphs hail him as 'Manuneedhi Cholan'. The name is obviously a honorific for adhering to the justice envisaged by India's great lawgiver 'Manu'. For the proper name of the king one has to locate it in the Sinhalese chronicles, just as one has to look to Siiappathikaram' for the first information about the visit of Gajabahu-l and his institution of the Pattini cult in 'Aadi'. The chronicles of Sri Lanka and Tamil nadu are so much entwined since the founding of the Sri Lankan kingdom by the legendary Vijaya who married a Pandyan Princess.

The Brahmi inscriptions with Tamil names are found in larger numbers in Sri Lanka than in Tamilnadu. Hence Clarence Maloney asserts: 'We must look to Sri Lanka to understand the origin of the Tamil Brahmi script' 11.

Gajabahu's visit to Tamilnadu and his inauguration of the Pattini cult are milestones in the intertwined history of Tamilnadu and Sri Lanka. 'Silappathikaram' contains the first Tamil literary attestation of this relationship between the two cultures, a relationship affirmed by epigraphs and numismatics.

Geiger assigns to Gajabahu a reign of 23 years from 171 to 193 A.D.12 and Boeparacchi, from 114 to 136A.D. 13. The last mentioned can be taken into consideration to fix the chronology of Chenguttuvan and the Tamil Kings.

K.A. Nikkanta Sastri says, 'there are several important factors which render it difficult, not to say impossible, for any one to reject the synchronism'14. One of the factors, not mentioned by Sastri but equally significant, is the Satakami synchronism. It should be noted that a coin of Nahapana restruck by Gautamiputra Satakami of the second century A.D. was found in Sri Lanka15 bringing the two synchronisms into focus and a new perspective. The name 'Satakami' too is first mentioned in Tamil literature by Elango (26:148-149) as dose friends of Chenguttuvan.

References:

1) Hikosaka, Shu, The Age of Cilappatikaram and Manimekalai' in J.I AS. Vol.V, No.2, P.93.

2) Swaminatha Iyer, U.V. ed. 'Silappathikaram', Tamil University, Thanjavur, 1985 (Reprint), P.31.

3) Ibid, P. 116.

4) Pillay, K.K., 'South India and Srilanka', Madras University, 1975, P.177.

5) Marr, John Ralston, 'The Eight Anthologies', I.A.S., Madras, 1985, P.458.

6) 'Rajavaliya' ed. Gunesekara, P. Vasala - Mudali, Colombo, 1954, (Reprint), P.23.

7) Perera, B.J., The Foreign Trade and Commerce of Ancient Ceylon', CHJ, 1952, P.301.

8) Hall, Kenneth R., 'Economic History of Early South East Asia' in 'The Cambridge History of South East Asia', Vol.1, ed. Nicholas Tailing, 1994, P. 194.

9) Sankaranarayanan, K.C., The Keralites and the Sinhalese'.

10) Bopearachchi, Osmond, 'Seafaring in the Indian Ocean – Archaeological Evidence from Srilanka' in 'Tradition and Archaeology'. Ed. Himanchu Prabhu Ray, Jean Francis Salles, Nistads, New Delhi, 1996, P.66.

11) Maloney, Clarence, 'Archaeology in South India, accomplishments and Prospects' in 'Essays on South India', ed. Burton Stein, Vikas, New Delhi, 1976 (Reprint), P.20.

12) Geiger, Wilhelm, Tr. The Mahavamsa', Asian Educational Services^ New Delhi, 1886 (Reprint) P.XXXVIII

13) Bopearachchi, opp.cit. P.64.

14) Nilakanta Sastri, K.A., 'The Colas', Madras University, 1984 (Reprint), P. 54. 15) Bopearachchi, opp.cit. P.67.

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