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Thread: The great Significance of Kodungallur of Kerala : Part - 3

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    The great Significance of Kodungallur of Kerala in the history of Kerala & Tamil Nadu
    Part - 3

    (14) The great Tamil Literary works composed from Vanji Nagar in Kerala

    In Vanji Nagar the present Kodungallur - the capital city of the Chera (Kerala)Nadu, there had been many Tamil Poets who have composed great Tamil poetic works which are available to us to this day.

    Among them are the two great "Kerala (Chera) Tamil Epics" namely the "Sillapathikarem" and "Manimehalai" of the second century A.D.which speaks much about the people, their lifestyles, religions, traditions and culture of the Tamil people of then Chera(Kerala), Chola and Pandiya countries known then as the Muth Thamil Nadu.

    The first was the Manimekhalai composed by the poet Saaththanaar at the royal court of the Chera king Seran Senguttuvan at Vanji. The second was the Silappathikaram composed by Ilango Adigal the younger brother of Cheran Chenguttuvan who composed same from his residence at Kunavaayil Kottam a little out side the city north of the Vanji city (Kodungallur) and identified as the present Thirukanna Mathilakam. He lead his life as a Jain Monk while his elder brother Seran Chenguttuvan the Chera king professed the Saivite religion.


    These two "Kerala Tamil Epics", are among the ancient Tamil Literary works treasured today by the Tamils of Tamil Nadu and worldover.

    We have another set of poems called the "Paththuppaattu" in Tamil, composed by ten different Tamil Poets of Chera Nadu on the ten different Chera kings of the period first century B.C. upto second century A.D. speaking on their glory, and complied into one single work as Pathuppaattu. Unfortunately the first Paattu and last Paattu of the Paththupaattu is missing and now left only with eight Paattus. Each work was called as a Paattu, as the glory of each of the ten kings were summed up in ten poetic compositions.

    The Chera(Kerala) Kings on whom the Paattus were composed and their respective Poets, are as follows:

    First Paattu - sung on king Uthiyan Cheralathan by a poet unknown (presently lost to us)
    Second Paattu - sung on king Imayavaraban Neduncheralaathan (B.C.03 - A.D.55) by poet Kumattoor Kannanaar
    Third Paattu - sung on king Palyaanai Selkelu Kuttuvan (brother of the above) by poet Paalai Kauthamanaar
    Fourth Paattu - sung on king Kalangaai Naarmudi Cheral by poet Kaappiyaatru Kaapiyanoor
    Fifth Paattu - sung on king Kadal Pirakkottiya Senguttuvan (A.D.55-110) by poet Paranar
    Sixth Paattu - sung on king Aadukoatpaadu Seralaathan by poetess Kaakkaipaadiniyar Nachchellaiyaar
    Seventh Paattu - sung on king Selvak Kadungovaliyaathan by poet Kappilar
    Eighth Paattu - sung on king Peruncheral Irumporrai by poet Arisil Keelar
    Nineth Paattu - sung on king Ilamcheral Irumporrai by poet Perungkuntroor Keelaar
    Tenth Paattu - by a poet unknown (presently lost to us)

    There is a Literary work of this period known as "Kurunthohai".

    There is another work called the "Muththolaayiram" which has three sections. Each section deals with the kings and the three Tamil kingdoms (Muth Thamil Naadu) namely Chera, Chola and Pandiya of that period. This work belongs to the period first century A.D. and composed by Poet Thollaasiriyar of then Pandiya Nadu.

    (15) The active trade of the Greeks and Romans with the Kerala (Chera) country

    With the invasion of Alexander the Great (B.C.321) up to Indus River in the north-western region of then India, and the settlements of Greeks at that time in the regions of the present Pakistan and Afganistan, and with the coming of the Greek seaport city in Egypt known as Alexandria paved the way for Greek trading with many parts of India.

    This also made them to travel to the western coasts of India specifically to important Seaport city of then Kerala namely the Muziri, and the inland city the Karur near present Kodungallur.

    But it was during the rise of the Roman Empire under Julius Caeser (B.C.60-44) and with its expansion under his nephew Augustas Ceasor (B.C.27-A.D.14), and with the discovery of the favourable wind to Musiri in the Kerala (Chera) country in India, named "Hippalaus" after a Greek Marinor who discovered same, the travel to India from from the Ports of Alexandria, Aden, Socotra, Ormuz, Ctesiphon, Caesarea, Taxila, Broach in the Arabic sea became much easier and shorter,

    The the direct route discovered to the port of Musiri with this favourable wind paved the way for the very active trade of the Romans with India especially with the Chera, Chola and Pandiya countries in the south.

    The presence of the Roman - Traders and their Guarding Warriors in the Musiri Port became so great that they erected a temple in honour of their emperor the Augustus Ceaser at this seaport city of Musiri. This is confirmed by an A.D.225 record named the Peutinger Tables. “Tabula Peutingeriana” (Peutinger Tables) now in the National Library at Vienna (Switzerland).

    The trading activities of the Romans in the cities of Vanji and Musiri regions of Kerala (Chera Nadu) increased and many of their gold coins have been discovered in these regions belonging to Augustus, Tiberius, etc.

    The Romans provided gold in return to the goods they purchased from Vanji, Musiri and surrounding regions of Cheranadu, for export to their country the Rome.

    'the Musiri of fame, where the river Sulliam Periyaaru (the present Periyar river of Kerala state) of the Seralar (Chera kings) emits the white lather (by clashing with the sea water at it's estuary), (where) the strong ships of the Yavanas (common term for Romans and Greeks) of high workmanship came with Gold and returned with Kari' (Kari means Milahu in Tamil which is the black pepper in English),

    The Romans carrying the great vessels with no limit known by measure reached the prosperous the Vanji territory.

    where the warlike Cheliyan (Pandiyan king) with tall strong elephant surrounded (the city) to the shock (of the inhabitants) raided in severe battle, and took (to himself) the statue.

    The above are confirmed by the following references:

    "....Seralar Sulliam Periyaartru vennurai kalanga Yavanar thantha vinai maan nan Kalam
    ponnodu vanthu Kariyodu peyarum
    valam elu Musiri arrpu ela valaiyee
    arum samam kadanthu padimam vaviya
    nedu nal yanai adu por Cheliyan......"

    Ahananooru - chapter 7, verse 148

    "......alanthu kadai ariyaa arungkalam sumanthu
    valanthalai mayangiya Vanji muttraththu....:"

    "...meen noduththu nel kuvaiyi
    misai ambiyin manai marukkunthu
    manai kuwaiiya kari moodaiyaal
    kalich summaiya karai lalak kurunthu
    kalam thantha pot parisam
    kali thoniyaan karai serkunthu
    malai thaaramum kadal tharamum
    thalai peithu varunarkku eeyum
    punal am kallin polanthaar Kuttuvan
    mulanghu kadal mulavin Musiri anna
    nalam saal vilu porul paninthu vanthu koduppinum
    puraiyar alloar varaiyalal evalk ena
    thanthaiyum kodaa an aayin vanthoar
    vaai patta iruththa eani ayidai
    vartunthi intru kollo thane parunthuuyirththu
    idai mathil sekkum purisai
    padai mayangu aar idai nedu nal ure......"

    Puranaanooru - verse 343

    “….Reference to Muziris is very clearly made. Behind the name Muziris on the map there is a large lake mapped Lakus Muziris beside which an icon marked Templ(um) Augusti…”

    Web Pages on Musiri map & Peutingner tables.

    (16) Articles imported and exported in to by Greeks & Romans

    ----------------------- To be inserted soon---

    (17) Arrival of St Thomas at Kodungallur and the introduction of Christianity

    During this period the mighty Roman empire with it's capital at Rome in the present day Italy, was under the reign of Tiberius Caeser (A.D.14 - A.D.36) who succeeded the Roman Emperor Augustus Caeser (B.C.27- A.D.14) after his death.

    We have the positive date of the accession of Tiberius Caesor at Rome as A.D.14 from history. Also in the Luke’s Gospal (in the Bible), it is stated that in the 15th year of Tiberius Caesor - that is in A.D.29, the Roman Governer governing Judea in Israel on behalf of him was Pontius Pilate.

    From Lukes’s Gospal and a reference in the historical writings of the Jewish Historian Josephus of the contemporary period it is clear few years later the crucification of Lord Jesus Christ took place on the order of this Roman Governer - Pontius Pilate, who subsequently left for Rome in A.D.36 from Judea, after his removal as Governer.

    We also note from the above that Pilate has also issued coins upto A.D.32. This could have been normally possible only during the peaceful period of his rule of his country.

    Hence it is most likely that in the following year in A.D.33 the Lord Jesus Christ was crucified, and thereafter due to much religious unrest in Judea Pontius Pilate would have been removed, and he had to travel to Rome to answer the complaints made against him to Emperor Tiberius.

    With the death of Lord Jesus Christ in A.D.33 and the persecution of Christians by the Romans under Pontius Pilate, St Thomas one of his twelve Apostles subsequently chose to leave Jerusalem in Judea, and reached Nubia in the present Sudan south of Egypt where he converted many to the Christian faith.

    From there he reached Abyssenia the present Ethopia further south where too he preached and converted some to the Christian faith. From there he further travelled to Malabar in India the present Kerala coastal region.

    The oral traditions in the present day Kerala states that St Thomas took the sea route to Kerala (Maabar) coast and landed at the former Muziri Port at Kodungallur most likely around A.D.52.

    Further from a sixteenth century composition in an old 'Ola Manuscript' called the "St Thomas Parvam" (Ramban Song) from Palayur (near Kodungallur) written by a priest named St Thomas Ramban provides details on the arrival of St Thomas the apostle and his activities in India including an immediate conversion of a Chera king and his nephew to Christianity.

    However we have no evidences confirming a Chera king of that period having been converted into Christian faith in any of the Kerala Tamil Literary works namely "Silappathikaarem", "Manimekalai", and "Paththuppaattu" (8 - Hero Poems out of 10, on 8 - Chera kings) of the "first and second century" composed by Tamil Poets "who lived during this same period at Kodungallur" (around A.D.50-200)., - even though it is mentioned in "Thomas Parvam" a Tamil Christian Literary work of the "sixteenth century"

    Further the Kerala Tamil Literary work of this period namely “Manimekalai” while listing out "all religious faiths that prevailed prominantly in Vanji Nagaram (Kodungallur) of that period", has not mentioned of the Christian religion. The prominant religions that prevailed in Vanji Nagar (Kodungallur) of that period are given in "Manimekalai" are as follows:

    (a) Ulakaayutham
    (b) Bauddham
    (c) Sanngeeyam
    (d) Nayaayikam
    (e) Vaisedikam
    (f) Meemaansakam
    (g) Saivam
    (h) Vainavam
    (i) Vedism
    (j) Aaseevakam
    (k) Nikandam
    (l) Saangeeyam

    It could be that though the Christianity was introduced around A.D.52 by St Thomas to a fair section of the "people in Kodungallur", but only after a century and half later around the beginning of the third century(A.D.201) Christianity too became a prominent religion of this region, along with the other religions.

    A Malayalam chronicle named "Keralolpathi" of the ‘seventeenth century’ is the first document which mentions of 'some members of the Namboodiri community have been converted into Christianity with the arrival of St Thomas at Kodungallur in A.D.52. This statement doesnot carry much weight, as the earliest reference to "Namboodiris" are found only in this chronicle of much later period being seventeenth century, and no where else in any Kerala or Tamil - historical or literary documents, or in any inscriptions or copper plate grants of Kerala - prior to this period.

    However as many informations given in this chronicle has been disputed by the "Kerala Historians and others" as historically unreliable based on the evidences from the other sources on Kerala history and we can leave out this statement as incorrect, as historically - "Namboodiris" came into Kerala from the Tulu and Karnataka countries only after the end of 100 years of Chera-Chola war (towards the end twelveth century), and gradually settled and married among the Kerala local Tamil and other communities.

    Up to the beginning of the third century the Chera - Kings and Emperors have been very powerful, and they being Saivites and Vaishnavites themselves - these religions along with the Vedic Religion received their great patronage, as seen from all Kerala Tamil Literary works of this very period, especially in Silappathikaaram, Manimekalai and Paththupaattu.

    The above are confirmed by the following references:

    "Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Csar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Juda...."

    Holy Bible, Gospal of St Luke 3: Line 1, .
    The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.

    “….According to Josephus (Jewish Historian Ant, XVIII, iv, 2) Pilate held office in Judea for 10 years. Afterwards he was removed from office by Vitellius, the legate of Syria, and traveled in haste to Rome to defend himself before Tiberius against certain complaints. Before he reached Rome the Tiberius had died and Gaius (Caligula) was on the throne, AD 36.

    “……It is interesting as well that there have been a few bronze coins found that were struck form 29-32 AD by Pontius Pilate.

    Inscription by Pontius Pilate -

    "The body of St Thomas lies in the province of Maabar in a little town.......But it is a fact that before he came to the place where he died he made many converts in Nubia......And now let us turn to the great province Abyssinia,.....In this province Messer St Thomas the Apostle preached. And after making some converts there he went to Maabar..."

    The Travels of Marco Polo - Translated by Ronald Latham, Page 276, 303,304

    "St.Thomas, my namesake, the great teacher of the religion of grace (He) in company
    with Avan the agent of King Cholan, Embarked in Arabia and arrived at Maliamkara…………Thereafter he made haste and soon reached Mylapore."

    ".......In one month’s time him to come back to the Kerala country, The nephew of the King of Tiruvanchikkulam arrived in that land (the Cholan’s land), And, kissing his blessed foot, entreated. They voyaged in a ship, And, undoubtedly, came to Maliamkara...."

    ".......There by his miraculous deeds, in eight days he established the religion “Returning there from Mylapore at the invitation of the King from Kodungallur in the company of the King’s nephew, "Together with the King’s family, three thousand heathens, unbelievers, As well as forty Jews who had settled in the country, Received baptism in a year and a half." Thus the capital of the Chera empire receives the Apostle and his message with an open heart, and thereafter becomes the fountainhead of faith for the whole country. Therefore "There for worship (St.Thomas) erected a church and a cross........"

    St Thomas Parvam (also known as Ramban Song - by Thomas Ramban

    (18) Change of name from Vanji to Kodungallur & Thiruvanjaikkalam Siva Temple

    It was possibly in the early third century (after A.D.201) during the rule of the Chera king Kadungo at Vanji Nagar, the city was re-named after him as “Kadungo Uur” which possibly came to be known gradually as Kodungolur and subsequently as Kodunggallur.

    In the second century Kerala Tamil Epic poems namely the Silappathikaram & Manimehalai (A.D.175) it is only referred to as Vanji Nagar. The very next reference to it is found in the Thevarams (Tamil religious hyms) of the Tamil Saiva Saint Thirunaavukkarasar of Tamil Nadu of the period A.D.568 – 649, but as Kodungallur. Hence it is clear between the periods of A.D.175 to A.D.568 it was given the new name Kodungallur.

    This Thevarams also refers to a Siva shrine in the capital city of Kodungkolur (Kodungallur) named as “Anjaikkalam” (Thiruvanjaikkalam) - the first reference we know of this shrine from the literary, religious, historical or epigraphical sources.

    In the Periyapuranam of the sage/poet Seikeelar in the kandam (chapter) on the Tamil Saiva Saint Sunderamoorthy Nayanaar, there is a reference as "Kodungallurin mathil vayil" and another in the same kandam as "inji Vanji mathil vayil" referring to the same gate of the fortress leading to the inner city.

    From the above it is confirmed that the royal city which was earlier referred to as Kodungkolur was still known as Vanji by it's old name during this same period, and the Thiruvanjaikkalam temple once stood within the inner city, and still stands even today guiding us on the former location of the Chera fortress within the city.

    In the early days the royal city was called the "Maa nagaram" and normally encompassed a vast area with a part of the royal city being within high walls of the fortress where the king, his ministers, officials and warriors lived, and was known as the "aha nagar (inner city)", and the part of this royal city outside the fortess walls where the other people lived was called as the "pura nagar (outer city)".

    Further Periyapuraanam very positively says the Kodungolur (Kodungallur) was the ancient city of Malai Naadu where the Thiruvanjaikkalam temple existed, and was the ancient seat from where the kings of the Chera dynasty ruled.

    The long time misconception among Scholars, that the Vanji Nagar the capital of the Cheras where the Thiruvanjikkalam Siva temple was situated, was the present Karuvur near Thirutchi in TamilNadu - is thus proved wrong by these references.

    Further from the Archaeological point of view, we find the Thiruvanjikkalam Siva temple exists even today at the present Kodungallur region of Kerala under the same name, and there is a bronze statue of Nadarajar (the dancing form of God Siva) in this temple with an inscription on it referring to it as ]“Sabapathi of Thiruvanjikkulam” (Sabapathy – another name of God Siva).

    The site of the Palaces of the Chera king could have possibly been at a site known as “Cheraman Parambu” seen even today in the present Kodungallur very close to the present Thiruvanjikkalam Siva temple. This fact is also hinted by a reference in the Periyapuranam which states “without going to his large Palace with spires he went and entered Thiruvanjaikalam with his followers the Uhiyar (Chera king) of great virtue”.

    The Periyapuram describes the city of Kodungallur as follows.The gateway on the (fortress) wall of Kodungkolur with tall Gopurams (spires) touching the skys, palatial Residences, the cooling Roadways with trees, Ponds, tall Palaces of the king, dance stages and .????...........................

    The above are confirmed by the following references:

    “…… valai kulamum thalikkulamum nallidai kulamumth Thirukkulaththodu Anjaikkalam……”

    6th thirumurai by Thirunaavkkarasar pathikam 71 verse 10

    ".......Kodungkolur Anjaikkalam......"

    6th Thirumurai - by Saint Thirunaavukkarasar, Thirusheththira kovai pathkam, verse 5

    "..thonmai malainaattu......Thiruvanjaikkalamum nilavi Cherar kulak ko veetrirunthu murai puriyum kulakko moothur Kodungkolur....."

    Periyapuranam by Seikeelaar, chapter 37, verse 1, 144

    "Kodungkolurin mathil vaayil ani kodiththu maruhil uduth thodung gopurangal, maalighaihal, sooli kulir chaalaihal thettri nedung ko nagarhal, adarangu nirantha manithamang kamuhu vidung kothai poonthamangal niraiththu vevveru alangaritthu...."

    "...ayil vel kula Maravar ventri nilavum silai veerar
    an nattau ullaar adaiya nirainthu anainthaar Vanji ahal nagar vaai...".

    Periyapuranam by Seikeelaar, chaper 37, verse 46

    "Uthiyar Perumal perum chenai..........mathi thangiya manjam ani inji Vanji mani vaayilai anainthaar"

    Periyapuranam by Seikeelaar, chaper 72, verse 22

    "sikara nedumaaligai anaiyaar sentru Thiruvanjaikalaththu nikaril thondar thamaik kondu puhunthaar Uthiyar Nedunthahaiyar......"

    ]Periyapuranam by Seikeelaar, chaper 37, verse 1, 144

    (19) The Chera king who embraced Islam

    In the early seventh century a Chera king - known as "Cheraman" was ruling from his capital city the Kodungallur. During this time a group of pilgrims from Arabia led by Zahiruddin Taqiyuddin, on their way on a visit to the Foot of Adam (on the Adams Peak mountain) in Sri Lanka landed at Kodungallur. They met this Chera king and explained to him about the great Prophet Muhammed.

    On the return of these Pilgrims from Sri Lanka through Kodungallur, the Chera king opted to go and meet the Prophet and accompanied them to Jeddah in Arabia. The king Cheraman met the Prophet Mohammad in A.D.617 and embraced Islam adopting the name Tajuddin. After some years in Arabia he wished to return to Kodungallur, but on his way he died at Shahar Muqalla (port of Zafar) in Yemen in A.D.622.

    There is a tradition that a follower of the Prophet’s teachings namely Malik Bin Dinar after the death of the Tajuddin - the converted Chera king, visited Kodungallur of Kerala (Chera country). He with the assistance of the new Chera king (name not known) ruling at Kodungallur built a mosque named "Cheraman Juma Masjid" in this region. It appears that the Cheraman Juma Masjid would have been constructed at a time between A.D.622 and A.D.701 the year Malik Bin Dinar left Kodungallur and set off to Arabia.

    From an early manuscript named Tarik Zuhar al Islam fil Malibar we note that it refers to a Kerala (Chera) king who embraced Islam, but doesnot give his name.

    A Malayalam chronicle named as Keralolpathi of the ‘seventeenth century’ is the only document which mentions the name of this Kerala (Chera) king coverted to Islam as "Cheraman Perumal". However as many informations given in this chronicle has been disputed by the Kerala Historians and others as historically unreliable, based on the evidences from the other sources on Kerala history, can reject the statement in the Keralolpathi, that the name of the Chera king who embraced Islam was “Cheraman Perumal” - as incorrect.

    The only "Cheraman Perumal" we know of in the Kerala History, is the celeberated Tamil Saiva Saint "Cheraman Perumal Naayanaar" of the period A.D.820-844, whose composition of “Thiruvarur Mumanikkovai” - a Tamil Thiruppaadal composition on God Siva at Thiruvarur of Tamil Nadu, which has been included in the 11th Thirumurai (Thirumurai = Tamil Saivite holy texts). Further the celeberated 12th Thirumurai namely the Periyapuranam glorifies him as "Cheraman Perumal" - a great Saivite Saint among the 63 - Tamil Saiva Saints, who along with the Tamil Saiva Saint "Suntharamurthi Naayanaar" died in Vanji Nagar (Kodungallur) in A.D.844.

    This historic event is also found portrayed in the Paintings of the medieval period in the great Chola temple at Thanjavur Tamil Nadu named as “Rajarajaeswarem” (Birahatheeswarem) temple. Further among the stone statues and the bronze Icons of the 63 - Tamil Saiva Saints found in many Siva Temples in Tamil Nadu and elseware, we also find the Cheraman Perumal (Naayanaar). Hence the name of the Chera king mentioned in the ‘Kerololpathi’ as “Cheraman Perumal” cannot be accepted.

    However it is quite possible as a Chera king he was referred to as the “Cheraman” meaning the Chera king in Tamil, but his actual name was not known. This is further strengthened by the fact the mosque built by Malik Bin Dinar was known from the earliest time only as “Cheraman Juma Masjid” and not as ‘Cheraman Perumal Juma Masjid’.

    The above are confirmed by the following references:

    “….a group of pilgrims led by Zahiruddin b. Taqiyuddin, while going to visit the foot of Adam in Sri Lanka landed at Kodungallur and met the Chera king. The team explained to the king about Prophet Muhammad and his mission. They also told him about the miracles shown by the prophet including the splitting of the moon which was witnessed by the kind himself. The king was attracted to the faith and he told the team his desire to embrace Islam. When the team returned after their pilgrimage to the Foot of Adam, the king accompanied them to Arabia. The king met the prophet at Jeddah on Thursday 27th Shawwal, six yeas before Hijrah (617 A.D.). He embraced Islam and accepted the name Tajuddin ( the crown of the faith) . After remaining in Arabia for few years the king returned to Malabar, but on the way he died at Shahar Muqalla in Yemen on Monday Ist Muharram in the first year of Hijrah (622 A.D.)

    Tarikh Zuhur al Islam fil Malibar - Muhammad b. Malik.

    “…..Cheraman Perumal with whose instruction Malik b. Dinar and his party came to Malabar set off sail to Arabia in 82 A.H. (701.AD)……”

    Rihlat al Muluk - Umar b. Muhammad Suhrawardi Mal. Trans., Abdu Rahman, K, pp. 20-22.

    “……Perumal who had gone to Makkah as mentioned in “Keralolpathi” is Cheraman Perumal. The year of his departure mentioned in the work as 332 A.D. cannot be correct, since the preaching of Islam by prophet Muhammad started only after 600 A.D…..”.
    (Keralolpathi – translated by Herman Gundert, Balan publications, Trivandrum, 1961 (First Published in 1843) p. 32.)

    Muhammad b.Malik author of Tarikh Zuhur al Islam fil Malibar is said to be the grand son of Habib b.Malik, a chief member of the mission led by Malik Dinar.If this is correct, then this chronicle belongs to the period of eighth century A.D. Among the many legends on Cheraman being converted to Islam after perusal the story related in the chronicle 'Tarikh Zuhur al Islam fil Malibar' seem to be more reliable and hence we have to accept the fact that the name of Chera king refered therin is not known.

    Further it is seen while the chronicle 'Tarikh Zuhur al Islam fil Malibar' refers to the to king as Chera king and not as Cheraman Perumal while the chronicle 'Rihlat al Muluk' of eighteenth century refers to the king as 'Cheraman Perumal', possibly influenced by the 'Kerolopathi' a Malayalam Chronicle of the same period with 'very many' incredible informations which too refers to the king as Cheraman Perumal. Hence the name of the Chera king refered to as Cheraman Perumal in the latter two chronicles has to be completely rejected.

    Criticisms on the Malayalam work titled the "Keralolpathi"

    "......Historians doubt the reliability of this collection of legends as it contains many discrepancies. For instance it states that a certain Viceroy of Kerala went to Mecca and met the Islamic Prophet Mohammed there. However the corresponding date mentioned is such that the Prophet was not even born till more than a century later. It also mentions that the King Krishnadevaraya of the Vijayanagara empire appointed a Viceroy over Kerala in 428 AD. However the said king reigned between 1509 and 1529 AD. Besides, the mention of the English, Dutch and Portuguese factors also prove that the work is certainly not dated before the 17th century AD.......

    .......Likewise even the origins of most of the castes and clans of Kerala varies from the ancient Sanskrit 'Kerala Mahatmayam'......."

    Therefore, according to "Shungunny Menon" (a native historian of Travancore, Kerala) one cannot place, in the Keralolpathi, the value of a historical source.

    (20) The great Tamil Vaishnava Saint Kulasekara Aalvaar of Kodungallur

    Towards the beginning of the nineth century A.D. the ruling Chera king of Kudamalainadu, had a son named Kulasekaran born at Vanjikkalam (Kodungallur in Kudamalainadu) in the month of March under Punarpoosm star. He was also known by the name Senghol Poraiyan as seen in Tamil Saiva work ]'Periya puranam'.

    Kulasekaran {A.D.801-820} succeeded his father on the Chera throne and ruled the region of Kudamalainadu in east Kerala, with his capital at Kodungallur, the traditional capital of the kings of the Chera dynasty.

    At a subsequent period he gained control over whole of Kerala. He has claimed for himself the titles “Kolik-kon”, “Kudal-nayagan”, “Kongar Kon” confirming his authority over Koliyur (the Uraiyur of the Chola country), and Kudal (the Madurai of the Pandiya country), and also over the Kongu country. It was probably during this period the Uthahai of the Kongu country became the second capital of the Kulasekara dynasty with a member of the Kulasekara family appointed to rule over this region.

    This could be referred as the second Chera Empire in the annals of Chera history, though it was not as large as the first Chera empire during the period of Cheran Chenguttuvan during the second century.

    Kulasekaran became an ardent devotee of - "Sri Rama" (regarded as an incarnation of "God Vishnu"), and hence the Vaishnavites of this period referred to him as Kulasekara Perumal in reverence. He made pilgrimages to Thiruvarangam (Sri Rangam) in Cholanadu, and Thiruvenkatam (Thiruppathi) in Thondainadu - among others, and has composed a set of hyms - in Tamil in praise of God Vishnu named as 'Perumal Thirumoli', and in Sanskrit named as 'Muhunda Mala'. He abdicated the Chera throne and went to forest to lead a holy life in deep meditation, and was venerated as one of the twelve great Tamil Vaishnava Saints known as theKulasekara Aalvaar.

    Kulasekara Aalvaar built a Vaishnava temple at Vanji Nagar (Kodungallur), and named the region of this temple shrine as "Thirukulasekarapuram". There are some oral traditions that it was at the Thirukulasekarapuram temple, the Chera kings were crowned as kings. Also the Sanskrit work of Kulasekara Aalvaar titled 'Muhunthamaala' was sung on Lord Krishna the deity in this temple.


    In the Mahadevar (Siva) temple at Thiruvanjikkulam in Kodungallur, there is a "Samadhi" of this great Chera Emperor cum Vainava Saint - seen even today. These monuments probably underwent many renovations and modifications over the subsequent periods.

    The above are confirmed by the following references:

    ".....Pon puraiyum vet Kulasekarane Maasi Punarpusaththu elil Vanjikkalatthu thonri anbudane nam Perumaal sempot koyil anaiththu ulakin peruvaalvum, adiyaar thaangal inbamuru perung kuluvam kaana manmel irul ariya ventreduththa visaiyit sonna nanporul ser Thirumoli nootrinethu paattum nantraaka enakkarul sei naki neeye......."

    Prapantha Saaram - by Vethantha Guru (Desikan), 8th Pasuram

    "......Cherar kula ko veetrirunthu murai puriyum kulakko moothur Kodungallur......."

    Periyapuraanam - Kalatraivaar puraanam, verse one

    “…..the Chera king Kulasekaran of the Villavar (people of Chera Nadu) had destroyed the valour of the enemies with his mace……”.

    Periyapuraanam - Kalatraivaar puraanam

    “….. maatralarai veeram keduththa sengol Kolli kavalan, Villavar Cheran Kulasekaran mudiventhar sihamaniye….”

    Perumal Thirumoli thaniyankal – by Manakkaal Nambi

    “…….ponnanj silai ser nuthaliyar verl Cheralar kon Kulasekaran….”

    Perumal Thirumoli thaniyankal – by Udaiyavar

    “……..Kolli nakar kon Kulasekaran……………………………
    nanjinum kodunththolil nadaththum theeyarai anjura adakki
    nal arathinutru ulloar vinjura thanich sengol vilanga oachidum
    Vanjiar venthanaam mannar mannane…….”

    Kuruparamparai Puraanam – by Vijayaragavan - chapter on birth of Kulasekara Aalvaar

    “……..Kudalarkon kodai Kulasekaran……”

    “…….Kolli kaavalan, Koodal naayagan, Kolikkoan, Kulasekaran…..”

    “…….Kongar kon Kulasekaran

    “……..koor vel Kulasekaran…….”

    “…….kottra vel thaanai Kulasekran……”

    “…….Kolli nakark irai Koodal Komaan…..:

    “…….Kolli Kavalan kaavalan Maaladhi mudimel kolamaam Kulasekaran…..”

    “…….kol navilum vel valavan kudaik Kulasekaran…..”

    “…….kooraantha velvalavan Koliyar koan kudai Kulasekaran…….”

    “…….Koliyar koan kudai Kulasekaran…….”

    Perumal Thirumoli - by Kulasekara Perumal - verses 1 to 10

    "......seerin malintha thirunagara athanit Sengot Poraiyan ennum kaarin malintha kodai nilalmet kavikkum kottra kudai nilal keelth thaarin malintha puyaththu arasan tharani neeththu thavam saarnththaan........"

    Periya Puranam (Thiruthondar Puranam) - by Seikeelaar, Kalatraivaar puraanam, verse 10

    The following Web-link leads to Thiru Gandhirams's article in Ponniyin Selvan Web Site which gives on the spot informtions on Suntharamurthi Nayanar Samaadhi & Kulasekara Alvar Samaadhi on his personal visit to Kodungallur as follows:

    "......the sundara moorthy samadhi is situated inside the mahadevan temple in thiruvanchikulam. here the his image is kept in a shrine. it is explained to me by the temple officers as the place exactly the body was burried. the shrine is in front of the mahadevar sanctum. the temple is a typical kerala style complex. It was renovted by many successive kings of kerala. the dharumapuram adheenam has a mutt here(outside the temple). a kovai based "saiva manram" has an annual festival here and they are allowed to have a small prayer hall inside the temple......"

    ".......the kulasekara alwar sannidhi has his body buried about 2-3 km from this temple. it is a smaller shrine and there is vashnava temple also there is no samadhi like structure but a an idol of the alwar is kept in a small kerala style temple(very small)and the the body is beleived to have been burried beneath.

    PSVP Webpage of Mr Gandhiram

    KCHR Webpage Map on Kodungallur and on the location of Kulasekarapuram Krishnan Koyil

    ".......From Kodungallur 3 km down south-east was the Vainava sacred shrine Thirukulasekarapuram. It was the one time capital city of Athikulasekarar who ruled Kerala. Closer to same was the palace of the king of Kodungallur. The (Chera) kings had their crowning ceremony in this temple. It is said that it was the temple built by Kulasekara king, and Kulasekara Aalvaar sung the 'Muhunthamaala' on it's presiding deity........"

    Kerala Vijayam - by Paranitharan, Part - 1, page 181

    (21) The great Tamil Saiva Saint Cheramaan Perumaal Naayanaar of Kodungallur

    The Chera king Kulasekaran had a son by the name Rajasekaran. He unlike his father was an ardent devotee of God Siva. He spent most of his time in religious activities and meditation with much devotion, at the Siva Temple at Thiruvanjaikkalam in Kodungallur. It was during this period king Kulasekaran abdicated the throne, and went to forest to spend rest his life in deep religious life and meditation.

    The Chera ministers with the unexpected move of the king Kulasekaran, after some days of discussion decided to make his son Rajasekaran as the successor. They then met him at the Thiruvanjikkulam temple where he spent his life in full religious devotion, and requested him to take over as the next king of Chera country as his succession came to him legitmately. Rajasekaran hesitated and later accepted, under the condition that his religious devotion and activities be allowed to continue over his responsibilities as a king.

    With the acendence of Rajasekaran on throne {A.D.820-844} he was known by his royal name as Cheraman Perumal and inherited the the large empire encompassing the Chera Nadu, Chola Nadu, Pandiya and Kongu Nadu. He more fittingly bore also the title as Peru-Ma-Kothaiyaar (the great chief Chera king), as the other regions of Kerala were possibly ruled by members of the Kothai dynasty but were under Rajasekaran, and the Kodungallur the capital city of Cheras was re-named after him as Makothai (also know as Mahothaiyapuram).

    He ruled the country in peace less of any wars, and appears to have developed new friendly ties with the Chola and Pandiya kings who were under the control Cheras, and became more liberal towards them.

    It was during this time one of the great Tamil Saiva Saint of Tamil Nadu - the Suntharamurththi Naayanaar made a pilgrimage to the Thiruvaarur Siva Temple in Chola country. The Chera king Cheramaan Perumaal with utmost desire to meet this great Tamil Saiva Saint, also went to Thiruvaarur at this same time.

    Here with the blessings of ]"God Siva" of Thiruvarur the Chera king composed hyms in Tamil in his praise known as 'Mummanikkovai'. From there he went along with the Tamil Saint Suntharamurththi Naayanaar to the Siva shrine at Vethaaranniyam in the Chola country and other Siva Shrines all over the Pandiya country. He composed further hyms in Tamil in praise of God Siva known as 'Ponvanna Anththaathi' and 'Thirukkailaya Gnana Ulla', and came to be known and venerated as the Cheramaan Perumaal Naayanaar. All the above hyms composed by him have been included in the eleventh 'Thirumurai' (Thirumurais are a collection of the sacred hyms in Tamil, sung on "God Siva" by various Tamil Saiva Saints of Tamil Nadu and few from the Kerala).

    Finally at the eager request of the Cheramaan Perumaal Naayanaar the Tamil Saiva Saint Sundaramurthi Nayanar opted to visit the palace of this Chera king at his capital city of Makothaiyapuram in the Chera country travelling through Kongunadu the present Uthakamandalam (Uthakai) region of Tamil Nadu.

    While being here in A.D.844 the Saint Suntharamurththi Naayanaar died while on an elephant. Unable to bear the grief of the death of this great Saiva Saint, the Cheramaan Perumaal Naayanaar too met his death while on a horse soon thereafter in the same year.


    The entire narration is given in the 'Periyapuranam' as above, but the relevent sections have not been given here as it is too voluminous to be given here. However interested Readers could refer the chapter on 'Kalatrarivaar puranam' and 'Vellai yaanai charukkam' in Periyapuranam. (in Tamil).

    This story has been the theme of the Chola painting found even today on the inner walls of the first tier of the Karpagraham at the Thanjavur Rajarajaeswaram Siva Temple (Birahatheeswara Temple – Periya Koyil)

    These two personalities have been glorified as two among the 63 – Tamil Saiva Saints, whose statues could be found either in granite stine or in bronze in many Siva Temples in Tamil Nadu and elsewhere where thet have been installed. Even in Karnataka state there are Siva temples which has been built during Chola times and later, where the statues of the above personalities could be seen even today.

    The above are confirmed by the following references:

    "......thonmai Malainaattu paa veetrirunthu pal puhalaar payilum iyalpit palampathi thaan seveetrirunthaar Thiruvanjaikkalamum nilavi Cherar kulakk Ko veetrirunthu murai puriyum kulakko moothur Kodungallur......."

    Periyapuraanam - Kalatraivaar puraanam, verse - 1

    ".....thada mathil sool sootham ahula sarala nirai thuthaiyum cholai valanagar thaan Kothai arasar Makothai ena kulavum peyarum udaiththu ulakil......"

    Periyapuraanam - Kalatraivaar puraanam, verse - 4

    ".......aranm kol Saiva thiram thalaippa
    thiruhu sinaveng kaliyaanai Cherar kulamum ulakum sei
    peru thavaththaal Aran arulaal piranthaar Perumaakkothaiyaar......"

    Periyapuraanam - Kalatraivaar puraanam, verse - 5

    ".......manmel Saiva neri vaala valarnthu munnai vali anbaat
    kanmel vilangu netriyinaar kalale penum karuththinaraai
    unmeviya anbinaraahi urimai arasar tholil puriyaar
    thenner mudiyaar Thiruvanjaikalaththil thiruth thonde purivaar....."

    Periyapuraanam - Kalatraivaar puraanam, verse - 7

    “…..thingal mudiyaar thiruvarulai paravi Cheramaan Perumal engu ulla adiyaarkku eatra poosai seitharuli…..”

    Periyapuranam by Seikeelaar, Kalatrarivaar puraanam, verse 128

    ".....thaandum puravi Cherar kula Perumal thamakku thiru amuthu uundu......."

    Periyapuranam by Seikeelaar, Kalatrarivaar puraanam, verse 72

    (22) Change of name from Kodungallur to Makothai

    From the Periya Puraanam we note that Cheramaan Perumaal bore the name as Perumakothaiyaar (Peru-makothai-yar) during his early part of his life and ruled from Kodungallur. It could be quite possible that it was during his time the Kodungallur was given the new name as Makothai also known as Makothaiyapuram after king Rajasekaran alias Peru-makothai-yaar.

    The reference to Kodungallur by its new name “Makothai” appears for the first time in the Thevaarap pathikam of the Tamil Saiva Saint the Suntharamoorthy Naayanaar. In his pathikam he has indicated that Mahothai was adjacent to the sea, and it was here that the sacred shrine of God Siva namely the Thiruvanjaikkalam stood.

    The Kodungkolur being subsequently known as Mahothai is further confirmed, as Tamil Saiva Saint Thirunaavukkarasar states that Anjaikkalam of Kodungallur and the Tamil Saiva Saint Suntharamoorthy Naayanaar and Sage/ Poet Seikeelaar states that Anjaikkalam of Mahothai.

    During the period of Perumakothaiyaar - the Kerala (Chera) king who subsequently became a Saiva Saint known as Cheraman Perumal Naayanaar, and counted as one of the 63 - Tamil Saiva Saints of the then Tamil Nadu encompassing the Chera, Chola and Pandiya kingdoms.

    The above are confirmed by the following references:

    "...Serar kulam ulakum sei peruhu thavaththaal aran arulaal piranthar Perumakothaiyar....".

    Periyapuranam by Seikeelaar, chaper 37, verse 5

    “……………………………………………thonmai Malainaattu
    paa veetriruntha palpuhalaarpayilum iyalpit palam pathi than
    se veetrirunthaar Thiruvanjaikkalamum nilavi Cherar kulak ko
    veetrirunthu muraipuriyum kulak ko moothur Kodungkolur….”

    Periyapuranam by Seikeelaar, chapter 37, verse 1

    "....valanagar thaan Kothai arasar Mahodai ena kulavu peyarum udaiththu ulahil..."

    Periyapuranam by Seikeelaar, chapter 37, verse 4

    “……Kodungkolur Anjaikkalam…..”

    6th thirumurai by Thirunaavkkarasar pathikam 70 verse 5

    "......noakkum nithiyam pala eththanaiyum
    kalaththit puha peithu kondu eru nunthi
    aarkkum kadalang karai mel Mahothai
    aniyaar polil Anjaikkalaththu appane.."

    7th thirumurai by Suderar pathikam 84 verse 7

    “…..Makothaiyil Thiruvanjaikkalam kaanilang kola valamkondu
    mevinar kadi mathil thiruvaayil……”

    Periyapuranam by Seikeelaar, section 13, verse 32


    Last edited by virarajendra; 1st September 2018 at 06:43 AM.

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