Saturday, July 09, 2011

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 20 (Vol # 5) Dated 09 July 2011

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 20 (Vol # 5) Dated 09 July 2011

(These e-mails are translations of talks given by PeriyavaaL of Kanchi Kaamakoti Peetam, over a period of some 60 years while he was the pontiff in the earlier part of the last century. These have been published by Vanadi Padippagam, Chennai, in seven volumes of a thousand pages each as Deivathin Kural. Today we are proceeding from the page No 123 of Vol 5 of the Tamil original. The readers may note that herein 'man/he' includes 'woman/she' too mostly. These e-mails are all available at updated constantly)
61. Moksham for devotees of Siva, known as Saivites is said to be reaching Kailasam, representing an exalted place and or stage of existence. Similarly for the devotees of VishNu, known as VaiNavas, it is Vaikundam, similarly an exalted place and or stage of existence! In Kanchipuram we have both Kailasanathar Aalayam and Vaikunda PerumaaL Koil. Both are famous for excellent sculptural works of art! The Kings of the Pallava Empire were all staunch believers and followers of the Vaidic Hindu religion. Systematic followers of this religion were all believers of all the Gods, especially of the Trinity of Brhma, VishNu and Maheswara. As followers of Siva, they used to claim themselves to be ‘Parama Maheswaras’, while as followers of Vishnu, they used to claim themselves to be ‘Parama Bhagavathas’. Not wishing to leave Brhma ignored, they also used to feel pride in calling themselves also to be ‘Parama BrhmaNyas’! Actually in their temples in the earlier stages, they gave equal importance to Brhma also. But by custom and tradition, in the devotional sphere Brhma is not included; without intending any insult whatsoever! Then over time, devotion to BrhmaNyam evolved to mean SubrahmaNyam. So in their Siva temples it became the tradition to sculpt Parvathy – Parameswara with SubrhmaNya as a baby sitting on their lap, known as ‘Somaskanda Moortham’, on the wall behind the Shiv-Linga in the main Sanctum Sanctorum known as Moolasthanam, indicating their devotion for SubrahmaNya. (The word ‘Somaskanda’ is, ‘Sa + Uma + Skanda’; meaning ‘with Uma and Skanda’ as a prefix for Siva that is Easwara.)
62. One of the Pallava kings had the name of Skanda Sishya itself! They also had such names as, Simha VishNu, Narasimha, Parameswara Varma and Nandi Varma; indicating equal acceptance of both VishNavite and Saivite sides of Hinduism. Thus the Pallavas were basically true to the Vaidic tenets of this religion. Among the line of Pallava kings there was one Mahendra Varma who became a follower of the Jains. He too was reverted back to Vaidic religion by the efforts of Appar SwamigaL. Thus with a balanced attitude towards Saivam and VaiNavam, the Pallava kings were devotees of either VishNu or Siva by individual choice.
63. You may be aware that amongst the 63 Naayanmaars (a title given to some ardent and famous devotees of Siva), there were two kings of the Sozha dynasty by name, Cochengat Sozha and Pugazh Sozha; and one each from PaNdya and Chera dynasties respectively, namely, Nedumaaran and Cheramaan Perumaan. Nedumaaran’s wife Mangayarkarasi and minister were also part of the 63 Naayanmaars. Then there was one Aiyadigal Kaadavar Kon who was also a king. He is the one who has written and composed the ‘Thiru VeNpaa’ as part of the 11th Thirumurai. (There are 12 Thirumurais, which is an orderly collection of poems written by the 63 Naayanmaars.) He went to many of the Siva temples in South India and sang those VeNpaas on the name of Siva as applicable to that particular temple. He is confirmed to be a Pallava king as mentioned by Sekkizhaar in Periya PuraaNam. That means that amongst the Naayanmaars, like kings of the Chera, Sozha and Pandya dynasties, there was also a Pallava king!
64. The Narasimha the Second was known as Raja Narasimha. He was well learned in the Aagamas of Saivam. If Raja Raja Sozha was having title as ‘Siva Paada Sekhara’, this Raja Simha Pallava had the title of ‘Siva ChoodaamaNi’. He was the first one to construct temples using pieces of rocks as building blocks. Prior to his time, the method was to drill in to the hills and huge rocks to make beautiful carvings of temples. This Kailasanathar Koil in Kanchipuram was constructed by this Raja Simha Pallava. It is a temple abundantly filled with a vast number of sculptures very intricately carved. One can spend days together in studying these classic works of art and not get bored or satiated! The connoisseurs of art will give the pride of place to that temple amongst not only the temples of Kanchipuram but also if there were to be such an evaluation amongst all the temples of South India too! Those statues are depictions of various episodes in the PuraaNaas, mostly about Siva Leela. There also some depiction about events that occurred during Maha VishNu’s Avataras.
65. Next in line in terms of quality and quantity of sculptural works of art is the Vaikunda PerumaaL Koil. The old name of that temple was ‘Parameswara ViNNagaram’. This word ViNNagaram does not mean a city in the skies, though literal translation would mean that. It is the Sanskrit word VishNu Graham which has become ViNNagaram in Tamil. From the fact that the name of Simha VishNu has been inscribed in Mahabali Puram as ‘Simma ViNNa Potraadi Rajan’, we can derive that it is ‘Vishnu Graham’ which has become ‘ViNNagaram’! OK. What is that Potraadi Rajan? I am coming to that.
66. ‘Pallavam’ means the small leaf that is as yet not fully sprouted. Potam or patram also has the same meaning. As the story goes, Aswattaama begot a son from a celestial angel. She put the new born baby to sleep in a bed of tender leaves and went away to her heavenly abode. This baby continued to sleep in a bed of tender leaves and grew to be a leader of men and came to be known as the ‘Pallava’. The empire so created came to be known as the Pallavas’ Kingdom and that is how the Pallava Dynasty came in to being. In the land of Telugu speaking people, there is a place known as Amaravathi, where there is a Sanskrit inscription on stone, which gives this story in detail. Eight miles from ArakoNam Railway Station there is one Velur PaLaiyam, where a Copper plate was found with the inscription by the Third Vijaya Nandi Varma, in which also the same story is to be found. Aswattaama was a brahmin from the Bharadwaja Gothram. Actually his father Dronachaarya of the Maha Bharatha period used to refer to himself as Bharadwaja. So in various Pallava period stone /copper plate inscriptions, the Pallava kings used to refer themselves to be from the Gothram of Bharadwaja only.
67. Though the Pallava kings themselves have claimed all this as I described above, the Tamil researchers have another story to tell about the origin of the Pallavas. One of the Sozha king had a liaison with a Naga Kannigai (damsel) In Nagapattinam and begot a son. She the Naga lady used the ‘Thondai’ creeper plant to make sort of a life jacket and floated the baby in the ocean. That baby came ashore somewhere between Mahabali Puram and the present day Chennai. Later this boy went on to establish the Pallava dynasty that the epithet ‘Karaieri Thondaimaan’ (the man who came ashore covered in Thondai plant) came to be evolved. In Sanskrit this Thondai plant is ‘Tundeeram’, from which this general area came to be known as ‘Thundeera Mandalam’ and the Pallava kings were called ‘Thundeera Chakravarti-s’. Whether it was the celestial damsel who put the baby in a bed of leaves or the Naga lady, who put a Thondai creeper plant around her child; both the stories are in some way about tender leaves and that is Pallavam, from which the name of Pallavas evolved. This tender leaf is also called ‘potam’ or ‘potram’. In Tamil the small as yet not grown plant is called a ‘Naathu’ or ‘Pothu’. It is the ‘Pallava Maharaja’ that became ‘Potraadi Rajan’ or ‘Potharaayan’. That is how some who do not do any work except for eating and growing are known as ‘thindi pothu rajan’!
68. Our discussion that started in Vaikunda PerumaaL Koil, went to VishNu Graham, ViNNagaram, Simha VishNu, to how the Pallava name evolved and what not! Before going to the House of VishNu, I have taken you around on a wide voyage! (Somebody from the audience appreciated the fact that, similar to our going around the outer and inner circumambulatory ‘praharas’ in temple looking at various Gods before entering the Garbagraham (that is the main sanctum sanctorum), the wealth of information PeriyavaaL told us are all in the rightness of things and very appropriate!)
69. Raja Simha Pallava first constructed the Kailasa Natha Temple. The second monarch after him by name Nandi Varma constructed the Vaikunda PerumaaL Koil. That temple came to be known as ‘Parameshwara VishNugraham’. It is but natural to wonder as to how a VishNu temple should have a prefix of ‘Parameswara’! It is from the name of the king Nandi Varma. What was constructed by Raja Raja Sozha came to be called Rajarjeswaram and what was constructed by Gangai Konda Sozha, came to be called Gangai Konda Sozheeswaram. Similarly Parameswara Pallava Mallan Nandi Varma’s temple came to be called as ‘Parameswara ViNNagaram’ after his name only!
(To be continued.)



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