History Updates

History Updates

Friday, 1 June 2018

The Cholas

The Cholas

The founder of the Chola Empire was Vijayalaya, who was first feudatory of the Pallavas of Kanchi. He captured Tanjore in 850 A.D. He established a temple of goddess Nishumbhasudini (Durga) there. Aditya I succeeded Vijayalaya. Aditya helped his overlord the Pallava king Aparajita against the Pandyas but soon defeated him and annexed the whole of the Pallava kingdom. 

The Cholas

By the end of the ninth century, the Cholas had defeated the Pallavas completely and weakened the Pandyas capturing the Tamil country (Tondamandala) and including it under their domination He then became a sovereign ruler. The Rashtrakuta king, Krishna II gave his daughter in marriage to Aditya.

He erected many Shiva temples. He was succeeded in 907 A.D. by Parantaka I, the first important ruler of the Cholas. Parantaka I was an ambitious ruler and engaged himself in wars of conquest from the beginning of his reign. He conquered Madurai from the Pandya ruler Rajasimha II. He assumed the title of Maduraikonda (captor of Madurai).

He, however, lost to the Rashtrakuta ruler Krishna III at the battle of Tokkolam in 949 A. D. The Cholas had to cede Tondamandalam to the adversary. At that point of time the Chola kingdom almost ceased to exist. It was a serious setback to the rising Chola power. The revival of Chola power began from the accession of Parantaka II who recovered Tondamandalam to reestablish dominance of the dynasty.

The climax in Chola power was achieved under the successor of Parantaka II, Arumolivarman, who crowned himself as Rajaraja I in 985 A D the next thirty years of his rule formed the formative periodof Chola imperialism.

The Chola kingdom grew under him into an extensive and well-knit empire, efficiently organized and administered and possessing a powerful standing army and navy. Rajaraja began his conquests by attacking the confederation between the rulers of the Pandya and Kerala kingdoms and of Ceylon. Polonnaruva became the capital of Chola province in North Ceylon after the defeat of Mahinda V, the Ceylonese king.

He also annexed the Maldives. Elsewhere, several parts of modern Mysore were conquered and annexed which intensified their rivalry with the Chalukyas. Rajaraja built the magnificent Shiva temple of Brihadeshwara or Rajaraja temple at Thanjavur which was completed in 1010. It is considered a remarkable piece of architecture in South Indian style.




Rajaraja I also encouraged Sri Mara Vijayottungavarman, the Sailendra ruler of Sri Vijaya to build a Buddhist Vihara at Negapatam. This vihara was called ‘Chudamani Vihara’ after the father of Sri Mara. Rajaraja was succeeded by his son Rajendra I in 1014 A.D. He ruled jointly with his father for a few years. He also followed a policy of conquest and annexation adopted by his father and further raised the power and prestige of the Cholas. He followed the expansionist policy and made extensive conquests in Ceylon.

The Pandya and Kerala country after being conquered was constituted as a viceroyalty under the Chola king with the title of Chola-Pandya. Madurai was its headquarters. Proceeding through Kalinga, Rajendra I attacked Bengal and defeated the Pala ruler Mahipala in 1022 A.D. But he annexed no territory in north India.

To commemorate the occasion, Rajendra I assumed the title of Gangaikondachola (the Chola conqueror of Ganga). He built the new capital near the mouth of the Kaveri and called it Gangaikondacholapuram (the city of the Chola conqueror of the Ganga).

With his naval forces, he invaded Malaya Peninsula and Srivijaya Empire that extended over Sumatra, Java and the neighbouring islands and controlled the overseas trade route to China. He sent two diplomatic missions to China for political as well as commercial purposes.

Rajendra was succeeded by his son Rajadhiraja I in 1044 A.D. He was also an able ruler. He put down the hostile forces in Ceylon and suppressed the rebellious Pandyas and subjugated their territory. He celebrated his victory by performing Virabhisheka (coronation of the victor) at Kalyani after sacking Kalyani and assumed the title of Vijayarajendra. He lost his life in the battle with the Chalukyan king Someswara I at Koppam. His brother Rajendra II succeeded him. He continued his struggle against Someswara.

He defeated Someswara in the battle of Kudal Sangamam. Next came Virarajendra I, he too defeated the Chalukyas and erected a pillar of victory on the banks of Tungabhadra. Virarajendra died in 1070 A.D. He was succeeded by Kulottunga I (1070-1122 A.D.) the great-grandson of Rajaraja I. He was the son of Rajendra Narendra of Vengi and Chola princess Ammangadevi (daughter of Rajendra Chola I). Thus Kulottunga I united the two kingdoms of the Eastern Chalukyas of Vengi and the Cholas of Thanjavur.

The most important reforms carried out by him in the internal administration was the re- surveyal of land for taxation and revenue purposes. He was also titled Sungam tavirtta (he who abolished tolls). The Chola authority in Ceylon was overthrown by Vijayababu, the monarch of Ceylon during Kulottunga’s reign. He sent a large embassy of 72 merchants to China and also maintained cordial relations with Sri Vijaya.

He defeated the rulers of the Pandya kingdom and that of Kerala. Thfe Chola Empire continued for more than a century after him. Weak rulers succeeded him. The Cholas and the later Chalukyas clashed for the overlordship of Vengi, the Tungabhadra doab and the Ganga country.

The Chola Empire continued in a flourishing condition during the twelfth century but declined by the end of the thirteenth century. The Pandyan king Sundara rendered the final blow by seizing Kanchi in 1297 A.D. The place of the Cholas was taken over by the Pandyas and the Hoysalas. This marked the end of the Chola power.

Administration:

The king was the head of the administration of the Cholas and all powers were concentrated in his hands. The form of the Chola government was hereditary monarchy. The rule of primogeniture generally prevailed. The king generally appointed his Yuvaraja (heir) during his reign.

The Chola rulers took high- sounding titles as Gangaikondacholapuram. The royal household also runs on an elaborate scale. The royal priest Rajguru became the close confidant of the royal family. The king had council of ministers to aid and assists him.

The king gave verbal orders (tiruvakya-kelvi) which were drafted by the private secretary and confirmed by the Olainayamak (Chief Secretary) and a Perundaram before its despatch by the Vidaiyadhikari (despatch clerk). They often advised him on important matters. An elaborate and complicated bureaucracy ran the government.

The officials tended to form a separate class in society. Perundaram were higher officials while sirutaram were lower officials. Peruvalis (trunk roads) helped in royal tours. The general tendency was to make the officers hereditary. The officials were paid by assignments of land called jivitas according to their status.

Revenue Administration:

A well-organised department of land revenue, known as the puravu-varitinaik – katam was in existence. Land revenue was collected in cash or kind. Land was possessed by individuals and communities. The state under Rajaraja demanded 1/3rd of the gross produce. Kadamai or Kudimai, according to N.K. Sastri was the land revenue. There were taxes on profession, mines, forests, saltpans, etc. Kulottung I abolished tolls. Unpaid labour was frequently employed.

Military Administration:

The army consisted of infantry, cavalry and elephants which formed the three limbs of the great army – Mun-rukai-Mahasenai. The Kaikkolas were soldiers armed with strong arms and the Sengundar were armed with spears.




The Velaikkarars were the most dependable troops in the royal service and were the bodyguards of the monarch, who defended him with their lives and were ready to immolate themselves on the king’s funeral. Attention was given to the training of the army and cantonments, called Kadagams or padaividu, existed. The Cholas paid special attention to their navy.

The whole empire was divided into mandalams or provinces. Sometimes princes of the royal family were appointed governors of the provinces. Further they were divided into valanadus (divisions), nadus (districts) and kurrams (villages). Village was the basic unit of administration.

The villages were mainly of three types. The first type constituted of an intercaste population where the land was held by all classes of people and paid taxes to the king in the form of land revenue. It was the most frequent type. The second was the Brahmadeya or agrahara villages which was granted to the Brahmins and was entirely inhabited by them.

They were exempted from tax and were prosperous. The third type of village was the Devadana, which were villages granted to god. The revenues from these villages were donated to a temple. During Cholas the Devadana type of villages gained more popularity as the temples became the centres of life.

There was remarkable autonomy at the village level. Chola officials participated in village administration more as observers than as administrators. The Cholas are best known for their local self government at the village level.

We hear of three assemblies called the ur, sabha or mahasabha and nagaram. The ur was a general assembly of the village. The ur consisted of all the tax-paying residents of an ordinary village. The Alunganattar was the executive committee and the ruling group of the ur.

The ur open to all male adults but was dominated by the older members. The sabha was apparently an exclusively Brahmin assembly of the brahmadeya villages. The sabha had more complex machinery, which functioned largely through its committees called the variyams.

Election to the executive body and other committees of the ur and sabha appears to have been conducted by draw of lots from among those who were eligible. The nagaram was an assembly of merchants and were found more commonly in the trading centers.

The Uttaramerur inscriptions of the Chola monarch Parantaka I of 919 A.D. and 921 A.D may be said to constitute a great landmark in the history of the Chola village assemblies. It gives details about the functioning and constitution of the local sabha.

The 919 A.D. inscriptions framed the rules for election and 921 A.D. incriptions amended them.

There were 30 wards (kudumbus) each nominatin members for selections of people with the prescribed qualifications. Elections from each ward was by lot (kudavolai, literally means pot-ticket) for a period of one year.

Of the thirty so selected, twelve members who had earlier served in the garden and tank committee and were advanced in age, were assigned to the samvatsarvariyam or annual committee, twelve to the Tottavariyam or the garden committee and 6 members to the Eri-variyam or tank committee Pancha-variyam (a standing committee) and Pon-variyam (gold committee) were the other two committees.

Variyapparumakal were the members of the committee, Perunguri were the members of the Mahasabha; Nyayaffarwas the Judicial committee and Madhyasthas, a small staff of paid servants in the village assisted the committees and maintained village records. The Assembly generally met in the temple, or under a tree or near a tank




The sabha possessed proprietary rights over communal lands. It also controlled private lands of the villages. It reclaimed forest and waste land. It aided in the assessment of the produce and land revenue. It collected land revenue and had the power to sell the land in question, in cases of default. I also had the powers of taxation for purposes connected with the village and of remission of taxation for specific reasons.
The Cholas

Economic Life:

Land tax constituted the single largest source of income of the Chola state. It was generally assessed at one-third of the produce. The village assembly took land tax and local levies. Cattle rearing were a subsidiary occupation.

Trade with foreign countries was an important feature of the Cholas mercantile activities. The rulers built a network of royal roads that were useful for trade as well as for the movement of the army. There were gigantic trade guilds that traded with Java and Sumatra.

South India exported textiles, spices, drugs, jewels, ivory, horn, ebony and camphor to China. Trade brought considerable prestige and affluence to the Cholas. Kalanju was the currency prevalent in the Chola kingdom.

Social Life:

The caste system was the basis of the social organization under the Cholas. Society was divided into a number of social groups or castes. Each caste was hereditary and constituted an occupational group. Bramhanas occupied a privilege position in the society. They combined both religious authority and economic power. They were exempted from taxes, owned and enjoyed land with full royal support.

Their main duties included learning and teaching of the Vedas and performing rituals and ceremonies. Some of them served as chief priests of the temple. Some of them were more adventurous and engaged themselves in trade.

They were given lighter punishments in case of offences committed. The almost total absence of Kshatriya institutions necessitated an alliance between sections of brahmanas and the dominant peasantry. The Nattar was the dominant peasant community, and the cultivators were the subordinate client group of the nattars. The newly assimilated castes from marginal tracts were often combined in mass groupings of Idangai (left handed castes) and Valangai (right handed castes.

Rudimentary hierarchy of social groups from classical times according to the Silapadikaram were vellalar-cultivator, kovalar-cowherds and shepherds, vedar-hunters, Padaiyacciar- artisan groups and armed men and valaiyar-fishermen. Worship of deceased rulers and construction of temples as tributes to dead kings was a special feature of the Chola period.

Author : Anat_s
Source : Defence

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Chakravartin Samrat of Ancient India

Chakravartin Samrat of Ancient India

Till date we have heard only of Chandragupta or Ashoka when it come to talking of monarchs of ancient India. But there have been Samrat of very ancient India too i.e the pre-Mahabharata era.
Today, I am going to list the Chakravartin Samrat of pre-Mahabharata era. But first, let us see who qualifies to be called the 'Samrat' of India.


According to the titles given to the rulers, there are three distinct categories-
Raja ( King )
Maharaja ( Emperor)
Chakravartin Samrat ( Monarch )
A Raja or king is like a ruler of a small kingdom, generally chieftain of a tribe or community. A Maharaja or an emperor is the ruler of a large kingdom, significant enough to influence the politics of the area. And finally, a Samrat is the one who rules the entire or major part of Bharatvarsh and has others under his sway.

A typical way of going up the ladder was either by performing Ashwamedha or Rajasuya Yagyas or physically capturing the territories. Ashwamedha was a famous practice in ancient India. Rajasuya Yagya isn't heard of much.

( For interesting read, Vayu Puran 57.68-80 gives the qualities of a Samrat )
A Samrat is an ideal ruler who is considered to be the epitome of justice and power. He has a specific term given to him- Sarvabhauma or who has all land (Bhumi) under his sway or Bahuvruhi or whose chariot has no obstruction of moving anywhere.



Without further delay, let's get to the point. The information of the monarchs is given by Mahabharata. When the Rajasuya Yagya was conducted by Yudhishthira, rishi Vaishampayana described to him a list of 16 Samrats who had lived before the Mahabharata era. The list occurs in Mbh (12.29) and is called Shodasha Rajika or a list of 16 kings. They are- ( Brackets contain the lineage and kingdom they belong to)
Marutta Avikshita ( Suryavanshi and Vaishali kingdom)
Suhotra Atithina    ( Chandravanshi, Puru (Bharatvansh) and Kurujangala kingdom)
Brihadratha Anga  ( Chandravanshi and Anga kingdom)
Shivi Aushinara     ( Chandravanshi, Anu and Shivi kingdom)
Bharata Daushyanti ( Chandravanshi, Puru and Kurujangala kingdom)
Ram Dasharathi     ( Suryavanshi and Ayodhya or Kosala kingdom)
Bhagiratha Dileepa (Suryavanshi and Ayodhya or Kosala kingdom)
Dileepa Khatvanga ( Suryavanshi and Ayodhya or Kosala kingdom)
Mandhata Yauvanashva ( Suryavanshi and Ayodhya or Kosala kingdom)
Yayati Nahusha      ( Chandravanshi and ruled Puru+Anu+Yadava+Turvasu+Druhyu kingdom)
Ambarisha Nabhagi  ( Suryavanshi and Ayodhya or Kosala kingdom)
Shashabindu Chaitrarathi ( Chandravanshi, Yadava and Yadava kingdom)
Gaya Amurtarayas  ( Chandravanshi and Kanyakubja kingdom)
Rantideva Sankruti  ( Chandravanshi and Charmanvati (Chambal) kingdom)
Sagara Aikshvaku   ( Suryavanshi and Ayodhya or Kosala kingdom)
Prithu Vainya          ( Older than the formation of Suryavansha and Chandravansha)
And to add to this list, we have Yudhishthira Pandava, again a Chandravanshi Puru and Kurujangala kingdom.
Harivansha (1.13.25) mentions king Harishchandra of Ayodhya as a Samrat.

Chakravartin Samrat of Ancient India


A map of ancient India is given which will make it easy to visualize the geography of the kingdoms.
The list varies a bit in other sources but more or less, this is the actual list.
A few extra kings that could have been Samrats are Ajamidha Vaikuntha of Purus, Kartavirya Arjun of Haiheyas (Yadavas).

Now I am tempted to write something about those Samrats mentioned above-
Bharata Daushyanti is the person on whom this land is called Bharat varsh. In absolute terms, his is the 32nd generation after Vaivasvata Manu from whom majority of the kingdoms descended. While I talk of other kings, I will tell their place with respect to Bharata. His kingdom is Kurujangala (Haryana)


Marutta Avikshita had conducted a historical Yagya of magnificent size where Samvarta Angiras had conducted the Yagya. He was about 2 generations prior to king Bharata. His kingdom is Vaishali (north Bihar)
Suhotra Atithina is also a composer in Rigveda and belongs to the Bharadvaja group of composers. Atithina is a corruption of Vidathina, another name of Bharadvaja Barhaspatya. He is almost 5 generations after Bharata. His kingdom is same as Bharata.
Brihadratha Anga belongs to the Anga kingdom and is 3-4 generations after Bharata. His kingdom is Anga (Bengal)
Shivi Aushinara belongs to the Anu group who ruled the 5 rivers of Punjab in today's Pakistan.
Yayati Nahusha is almost 27 generations before Bharata. He was the guy who ruled almost all of north India. Puru, Yadu, Turvasu, Druhyu and Anu were his 5 sons from whom the major kingdoms of north India sprung. So you can imagine the area he ruled.
Shashabindu Chaitrarathi is a Yadava whose daughter Bindumati was the wife of Mandhata Yuvanashva, another Samrat from Ayodhya. Shashabindu's kingdom was around Gujarat and Rajasthan. He is almost 11 generations before Bharata.
Gaya Amurtarayas belonged to the Kanyakubja kingdom (of whose Vishwamitra was the king before becoming a rishi). This kingdom is near Kannauj.
Rantideva Sankruti ruled around the Chambal river in Rajasthan and MP,called Charmanvati then. He was famous for his ability to share his belongings. Sankruti is an Angiras gotra among brahmins.
Prithu Vainya is a very ancient king, even before Vaivasvata Manu, almost 44 generations before Bharata. He was the one who captured the Earth and made it productive. His father Vena was one of the cruelest king of India and was the composer of the Nasadiya Sukta in Rigveda. Because Prithu was the first ever king of the whole Earth, the Earth got her Sanskrit name from him, Prithu ---> Prithvi
Now talking of all Suryavanshi kings from Ayodhya. First let's arrange them chronologically.
Ambarisha Nabhagi , Mandhata Yauvanashva, Sagara Aikshvaku, Bhagiratha Dileepa, Dileepa Khatvanga and Ram Dasharathi. All these ruled at Ayodhya in UP. This family line itself has maximum Samrats. Ambarisha Nabhagi is son of Nabhag who is the son of Vaivasvata Manu and not of Nabhaga who was another king of Ayodhya. Out of these, Mandhata and Ambarisha are composers in Rigveda.

Friday, 19 January 2018

Thillai Nataraja Temple - Chidambaram

Architecture of Thillai Nataraja Temple - Chidambaram

Chidambaram Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva located in the heart of the Chidambaram,Tamil Nadu.The temple is located at 78 km south of Pondicherry and 235 Km from Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu. The Sangam classics refer to Viduvelvidugu Perumtaccan, respected clan of traditional Vishwakarmas, as being the chief architect of the temple renovation. There have been several renovations in its history, particularly during the days of Pallava/Chola emperors in ancient and pre-medieval periods.
Chidambaram is one of the five holiest Shiva temples, each representing one of the five natural elements; Chidambaram represents akasha (aether). The other four temples in this category are: Thiruvanaikaval Jambukeswara,Trichy (water), Kanchi Ekambareswara (earth)Kanchipuram, Thiruvannamalai Arunachaleswara (fire),Thiruvanna malai and Kalahasti Nathar (wind),Kalahasti.


Chidambaram is one of the five holiest Shiva temples, each representing one of the five natural elements; Chidambaram represents akasha (aether). The other four temples in this category are: Thiruvanaikaval Jambukeswara,Trichy (water), Kanchi Ekambareswara (earth)Kanchipuram, Thiruvannamalai Arunachaleswara (fire),Thiruvanna malai and Kalahasti Nathar (wind),Kalahasti.



ARCHITECTURE

The Gopurams

The temple has 9 gateways and four of these have towering pagodas or gopurams each with 7 levels in the East, South, West and North. The eastern pagoda has all the 108 postures (karnams) of the Indian dance form – Bharathanatyam sculpted on it.

The Five Sabhais
The Gopurams of Chidambaram temple

There are 5 sabhas or diases or halls:

The Chit sabhai, which is the sanctum sanctorum housing Lord Nataraja, his consort Goddess Shivagamasundari.

The Kanaka sabhai – in front of the Chitsabhai, from which the daily rituals are conducted.

The Nrithya sabhai or Natya sabhai, to the south of the temple's flag mast (or kodi maram or dwaja sthambam) where the Lord is said to have danced with Goddess Kali – an embodiment energy and established his supremacy.

The Raja sabhai or the 1000-pillared hall which symbolizes the yogic chakra of thousand pillared lotus or Sahasraram (which in yoga is a 'chakra' at the crown of the head and is a seat where the soul unites with God. This chakra is represented as a 1000-petalled lotus. Meditating by concentrating at the Sahasrara Chakra is said to lead to a state of union with the Divine force and is the pinnacle of yogic practice).

The Deva sabhai, which houses the Pancha moorthis (pancha - five, moorthis - deities, namely the deities of Lord Ganesh - the remover of hurdles, Lord Somaskanda, a form where the Lord is in a seated posture with his grace and consort, the Lord's consort Sivananda nayaki, the Lord Muruga and the deity of Chandikeswarar - the principal and chief of the devotees of the Lord).

Other shrines

Apart from the five sabhais are:

The shrines for the original Shivalingam worshipped by Saints Patanjali and Vyagrapathar – called the Thirumoolattaneswarar and his consort Umaiyammai (உமையம்மை) or Umaiya Parvathi.

The shrines for the 63 prime devotees of Lord Siva – or the Arubathu moovar.

The shrines for Sivagami – an embodiment of knowledge or Gyanasakthi.

For Lord Ganesha – in his manifestation of one who removes hurdles.

For Lord Muruga or Pandiya nayakan – in his manifestation of one who holds the three forms of energy – Itchai or "desire" represented by his consort Valli, Kriya or "action" represented by his consort Deivayanai and Gnana or "Knowledge" represented by the spear he carries to destroy ignorance. There are also several smaller shrines in the temple complex.


Water bodies in and around the temple

Moorthi (Idol), Sthalam (Place) and Theertham (Waterbodies) signify the holiness of a temple. The Chidambaram temple is well endowed with several water bodies within and around it.
Moorthi (Idol), Sthalam (Place) and Theertham (Waterbodies) signify the holiness of a temple. The Chidambaram temple is well endowed with several water bodies within and around it.


The temple complex on 40 acres (160,000 m2) houses the temple tank – called the Sivaganga. This large tank is in the third corridor of the temple opposite to the shrine for Goddess Sivagami.

The Paramanandha koobham is the well on the eastern side of the Chitsabhai from which water is drawn for performing pooja in the temple.

The Kuyya theertham is situated to the north-east of Chidambaram near Killai near the Bay of Bengal and has the shore called Pasamaruthanthurai.

The Pulimadu is situated around a kilometer and a half to the south of Chidambaram.

The Vyagrapatha theertham is situated on to the west of the Chidambaram temple opposite to the temple of Lord Ilamai akkinaar.

The Anantha theertham is to the west of Chidambaram temple in front of the Anantheswarar temple.

The Nagaseri is the tank to the west of the Anantha theertham.

The Brahma theertham is to the north-west of the Chidambaram temple at Thirukalaanjeri.

The Siva piriyai is a tank to the north of the Chidambaram temple and opposite to the Brahma chamundeswari temple (aka the Thillai Kali temple).

Thiruparkadal is the tank to the south-east of the Siva piriyai.


 Govindaraja Shrine
The Chidambaram temple complex houses a shrine for the Lord Govindaraja Perumal and his consort Pundareegavalli Thaayar. This shrine is claimed to be the Thillai Thiruchitrakootam and is one of the 108 divyadesas – or the key shrines of Vishnu,

The Chidambaram temple complex houses a shrine for the Lord Govindaraja Perumal and his consort Pundareegavalli Thaayar. This shrine is claimed to be the Thillai Thiruchitrakootam and is one of the 108 divyadesas – or the key shrines of Vishnu, which have been sanctified (mangala saasanam) by hymns (the Naalayira divya prabantham) sung by the chief devotees of Lord Vishnu (called the Aalwars) . Tillai Chitrakootam (but not the Givindaraja Temple in its current form) has been sung by Kulasekara Alwar and Tirumangai Mannan Alwar. Both Alwars have recorded that the Chidambaram Brahmins(Dikshitars)were ones who were doing vedic and proper (in Tamil" muraiyaha")poojas for the Lord in Chitrakootam.There are controversies however, since many feel that the chitrakootam originally referenced to by alwars could have been the one at UP where Rama spent time in ashrams of sages like viswamitra and atri. This is because the currently available versions of works of alwars were copied and re-written centuries after the time of alwars sometime during late medieval ages. Many hymns written by alwars are missing and many changes incorporated in them. This apart some sources hold the founding of thillai chitrakootam to 1400 or probably 1600.C.E only.

Significance of the temple design

The layout and architecture of the temple is replete with philosophical meanings. The 9 gateways signify the 9 orifices in the human body.

The Chitsabai or Ponnambalam, the sanctum sanctorum represents the heart which is reached by a flight of 5 stairs called the Panchaatchara padi - pancha meaning 5, achhara – indestructible syllables – "SI VA YA NA MA", from a raised anterior dias - the Kanakasabai. The access to the Sabhai is through the sides of the stage (and not from the front as in most temples).

The Ponnambalam or the Sanctum sanctorum is held by 28 pillars – representing the 28 agamas or set methodologies for the worship of Lord Shiva.

The roof is held by a set of 64 beams representing the 64 forms of art and is held by several cross-beams representing the innumerable blood vessels.

The roof has been laid by 21600 golden tiles with the word SIVAYANAMA inscribed on them representing 21600 breaths.

The golden tiles are fixed using 72000 golden nails which represents the number of nadis exists in human body.

The roof is topped by a set of 9 sacred pots or kalasas, representing the 9 forms of energy. (refer Umapathy Sivam’s Kunchitaangristhavam)

Temple car

The Chidambaram temple car is, perhaps, the most beautiful example of a temple car in all of Tamil Nadu. This car, on which Lord Nataraja descends twice a year, is drawn by several thousand devotees during the festivals.

Source : Chidambaramnataraja.org

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Second Battle of Panipat and Death of Hemu

Second Battle of Panipat and Death of Hemu
The Second Battle of Panipat was fought between the forces led by Hemu (the general and chief minister of Adil Shah Suri) and the forces of the of the Mughal emperor, Akbar. The battle was fought on November 5, 1556.

Background

After the death of Babur(founder of Mughal empire), Humayun succeeded the throne of Delhi. However after the Battle of Kanauj  (17 May 1540) Sher Khan(Sher shah Suri) became the master of Agra and Delhi. Mughal Empire was put to an end for a while and Humayun lived in exile for next 15 years because of this Short Sur Dynasty founded by Sher Shah Suri.


Later Islam Shah Suri ascended the throne of Sur dynasty after the death of Sher Shah in 1545 at Kalinjar. Islam Shah Suri was a capable ruler, but died in 1554.  With these two deaths the Sur Empire was caught up in a succession battle. Humayun used this perfect opportunity for the Mughals to march back to India and regain the lost power in 1540. Humayun with Bairam Khan (commander-in-chief of the Mughal army) fought the Battle of Srihind againt Sikandar Shah Suri in 1555 and became victorious. The Mughal Empire was finally regained control over Delhi and Agra after 15 years.
Islam Shah was succeeded by his 12-year-old son, Firoz shah suri. But after a short period Adil Shah Suri maternal uncle of Firoz shah murdered him and ascended the throne of sur Empire. He appointed Hemu (general of the Suri forces) as his Chief Minister. Most of the affairs of the state were left to Hemu as Adil Shah Suri was interested in luxury and pleasure.
Later Humayun died on 27 January 1556 and succeeded by Akbar. Bairam Khan was appointed regent over the young king Akbar. Tardi Beg Khan was the governor of Delhi when Humayun died.

Humayun's death provided a great opportunity for Sur dynasty to defeat Mughals and regain the lost territories. Hearing about the death of Mughal leader, Hemu made a quick march and conquered  Sambhal, Bayana, Kalpi, Narnaul and Etawah. Hemu continued to Agra and by hearing about the invasion, the governor of Agra fled away without a fight. And later Hemu reached Tughlaqabad, where he ran into the forces of the Tardi Beg Khan (Mughal governor of Delhi), and defeated them in the Battle of Tughlaqabad. Then Hemu took possession of Delhi after the battle and claimed royal status, assuming the assuming the title of Raja Vikramaditya (Samrat Hemachandra Vikramaditya).



Battle

With the news of Tughlaqabad, Akbar and Bairam khan started to Delhi. On November 5 1556 Mughal army met Hemu’s forces on the battle field of Panipat.
Earlier, before the battle Hemu lost his artillery to the Mughals, still his forces are large in numerical to Mughal forces. Hemu himself led his forces into the battle field. While the mughal army was led by by Ali Quli Khan Shaibani in the centre with Sikandar Khan Uzbak in the right wing and Abdulla Khan Uzbak in the left wing. Akbar and Bairam Khan stayed in the rear.

Finally On November 5 1556 Mughal army met Hemu’s forces on the battle field of Panipat. With his 30,000 Rajput and Afghan cavalry and 1500 war elephants, Hemu started war on Mughals.
Hemu’s forces held the upper hand on Mughals and pointed towards winning the battle. But all of a sudden an arrow was hit in the eye of Hemu and he fell unconscious on his elephant (Hawai). This turned the fate of battle into the hands of Mughals. Seeing their commander falling, Hemu's army panicked and Mughals stood victorious in the battle.

Death of Hemu:

An arrow was hit in the eye of Hemu in the battle and he fell unconscious on his elephant (Hawai). The elephant carrying the wounded Hemu was captured by Shah Quli Khan and brought to the Mughal camp at Shodapur on Jind Road at Panipat. 



According to Badayuni(a historian and translator living in the Mughal Empire),
Bairam Khan (Regent at the court of the Mughal emperor) requested Akbar (13 year old) to behead Hemu so that he could earn the title of Ghazi (Warrior of the Faith). But Akbar refused to use his sword to a defeated and dying Hemu. After Akbar's refusal Hemu's body was denied honour by the Mughal battle tradition and was unceremoniously beheaded by Bairam Khan. Later Hemu’s head was sent to Kabul and his body was hung at Purana Khila.
Later Hemu's Smadhi Sthal, a memorial to the king Hemu was constructed at Shodapur village on Jind road near Panipat where he was executed.

Battle of Talikota (Rakkasa-Tangadi) - Destruction of Hampi (1565)

Battle of Talikota (Rakkasa-Tangadi) - Destruction of Hampi (1565)
The Battle of Talikota was fought by the Vijayanagara force lead by Aliya Rama Raya against the invading forces of the united Sultanates to the north of Vijayanagara (i.e. consisting of Bijapur, Ahmadnagar, Golkonda, Berar and Bidar Husain Nizam Shah, Ali Adil Shah and Ibrahim Qutb Shah). The battle took place on 23 January 1565 at Talikota (In Present Karnataka State).
Some scholars say the armies fought near Rakkasagi and Tangadigi villages. Hence the battle is also referred as the Battle of Rakkasa-Tangadi. Some other scholars believe that battle was fought at Krishna-Bannihatti. Hence it is also known as the battle of Bannihatti.



Background:

After the death of Achyuta Deva Raya in 1542, Venkata Raya asseended the throne. Later Venkata Raya was killed in 6 months and Sadashiva Raya (minor nephew of Achyuta Raya) ascended the Vijayanagara Throne. Rama Raya appointed himself regent and controlled Sadashiva Raya.
Rama Raya acted as actual ruler confining Sadashiva Raya. He replaced the loyal servants of the kingdom with officers who were loyal to him. Later Rama Raya appointed the Gilani brothers (two Muslim commanders) as commanders in his army, a mistake that ruined the empire. These Gilani brothers were earlier in the service of the Sultan Adil Shah.

Cause:

During this time, the Muslim kingdoms (Deccan Sultanates) were suffering from internal disputes.
Seeing this disputes as an advantage Rama Raya interfered in the internal fights of the Deccan Sultanates (Shahi’s). He tried to follow the divide and rule policy between the Muslim Kingdoms and crush them. But soon Shahi’s realized the plan of Rama Raya and united to form a huge Shahi forces (consisting of Husain Nizam Shah, Ali Adil Shah and Ibrahim Qutb Shah) against Rama Raya through various matrimonial and other alliances.


The main cause for the battle was Rama Raya’s refusal of returning the Raichur to Ali Adil Shah, which invited both the forces to the battle of Talikota.

Battle

The united Deccan Shahi Sultans attacked Vijayanagara forces led by Rama Raya on 23 Jan 1565 in the battle of Talikota.
Rama Raya led the army very effectively and the Vijayanagara army was holding upper hand in the battle. All of a sudden the Gilani brothers, two Muslim commanders turned against Ram Raya and switched their side to united Shahi’s. Gilani Brothers captured Rama Raya and beheaded him on the battle field. This created a confusion in the Vijayanagara forces and finally resulted in the defeat of Vijayanagara Empire.

Destruction of Hampi

United Shahis followed by the victory in battle entered the Vijayanagara Empire. They destructed and looted everything. Finally they plundered Hampi and reduced it into ruins.
Vijayanagara, once a city of fabled splendour, the seat of a vast empire, became a desolate ruin, now known by the name of a sacred inner suburb within it, Hampi.



Robert Sewell, in his book The Forgotten Empire, concludes thus - "With fire and sword, with crowbars and axes, they carried on day after day their work of destruction. Never perhaps in the history of the world has such havoc been wrought, and wrought so suddenly, on so splendid a city; teeming with a wealthy and industrious population in the full plenitude of prosperity one day, and on the next seized, pillaged, and reduced to ruins, amid scenes of savage massacre and horrors beggaring description."

After the battle

Tirumala Deva Raya brother of Rama Raya fled from the battle to Vijayanagar. Tirumala then moved to Penukonda along with the minor prince Sadasiva Raya, and some members of the Royal Family,and with whatever treasures he could find in the capital just before it was sacked and destroyed. He later restarted the empire from Penukonda. Thus was the Aravidu dynasty was born. His reign was marked by revolts of the Gingee Nayakas and Madurai. He later renounced the throne, dividing it among his three sons, Sriranga( Penukonda), Rama( Sri Rangapatna) and Venkata( Chandragiri).

Source : Wikipedia

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Battle of Tughlaqabad (Battle of Delhi - 1556)


The Battle of Delhi also known as the Battle of Tughlaqabad was fought between the forces led by Hemu (the general and chief minister of Adil Shah Suri) and the forces of the Mughal led by Tardi Beg Khan. The battle was fought on 7 October 1556 at Tughlaqabad near Delhi.

Background

After the death of Babur(founder of Mughal empire), Humayun succeeded the throne of Delhi. However after the Battle of Kanauj  (17 May 1540) Sher Khan(Sher shah Suri) became the master of Agra and Delhi. Mughal Empire was put to an end for a while and Humayun lived in exile for next 15 years because of this Short Sur Dynasty founded by Sher Shah Suri.



Later Islam Shah Suri ascended the throne of Sur dynasty after the death of Sher Shah in 1545 at Kalinjar. Islam Shah Suri was a capable ruler, but died in 1554.  With these two deaths the Sur Empire was caught up in a succession battle. Humayun used this perfect opportunity for the Mughals to march back to India and regain the lost power in 1540. Humayun with Bairam Khan (commander-in-chief of the Mughal army) fought the Battle of Srihind againt Sikandar Shah Suri in 1555 and became victorious. The Mughal Empire was finally regained control over Delhi and Agra after 15 years.

Islam Shah was succeeded by his 12-year-old son, Firoz shah suri. But after a short period Adil Shah Suri maternal uncle of Firoz shah murdered him and ascended the throne of sur Empire. He appointed Hemu (general of the Suri forces) as his Chief Minister. Most of the affairs of the state were left to Hemu as Adil Shah Suri was interested in luxury and pleasure.



Later Humayun died on 27 January 1556 and succeeded by Akbar. Bairam Khan was appointed regent over the young king Akbar. Tardi Beg Khan was the governor of Delhi when Humayun died. 

Humayun's death provided a great opportunity for Sur dynasty to defeat Mughals and regain the lost territories. Hearing about the death of Mughal leader, Hemu made a quick march and conquered  Sambhal, Bayana, Kalpi, Narnaul and Etawah. Hemu continued to Agra and by hearing about the invasion, the governor of Agra fled away without a fight. This news reached the Tardi Beg Khan and he wrote to his master Akbar in Jalandhar explaining the situation for reinforcements to defend Delhi. Bairam khan sent Pir Muhammad Sharwani (lieutenant) to Delhi. Finally Tardi Beg Khan made all the preparations to stand and fight Hemu.

Battle

After winning Agra, Hemu reached Tughlaqabad near Delhi where he faced Mughal forces. According to Abd-ul-Qadir Bada'uni (a historian and translator lived in the Mughal Empire), Hemu's forces were well equipped with 51 cannon, 500 falconets, 1000 elephants and 50,000 horses. Andthe Mughals were outnumbered.

According to Jadunath Sarkar (a prominent Indian Bengali aristocrat and historian), the Mughals were commanded by Tardi Beg in the centre with Haidar Muhammad and Iskandar Beg leading the right and the left wings. Abdullah Uzbeg commanded the vanguard.

The cavalry in the vanguard and left wing launched an attack to beat back the Afghan vanguard along with Hemu's right wing. In this assault Abdullah Uzbeg and Iskandar Beg captured 400 elephants and 3,000 of Hemu's men lay dead. Imagining that they won the battle, many of Tardi Beg's forces pursued the enemy camp to plunder the wealth, and Tardi Beg e was left in the field very thinly guarded.

Hemu, however, had held back 300 of his best elephants and cavalry unit in reserve. Seizing the opportunity, he made a sudden charge on thinly-guarded Tardi Beg with with his reserve. And this attack was also supported by the timely arrival of fresh reinforcements from Alwar under the command of Haji Khan.



Seeing the troop of war elephants and dense cavalry advancing upon them, many of the Mughal officers fled away in terror without waiting to offer a defense and Tardi Beg along with Pir Muhammad Sharwani fled away.
Later the previously victorious Mughal vanguard and left wing returned from their pursuit, and left without offering a fight realizing they lost the battle.
Thus Afghans won the battle.

After the battle

Hemu took possession of Delhi after the battle and claimed royal status, assuming the assuming the title of Raja Vikramaditya (Samrat Hemachandra Vikramaditya). Following his failure, Tardi Beg was murdered by Akbar's regent, Bairam Khan. After 1 month Hemu would fought again with Mughals in second battle of Panipat.

Story of Ratha (The Indian Chariot)


Ratha, or the chariot is considered to be the best mode of transport in ancient India, especially during wars. It symbolizes energy and the zeal to move forward. But do we know everything about what is a Ratha ?

We only have a faint imagination of seeing Arjuna or Duryodhana fighting the Mahabharata war on Rathas in the B.R Chopra Mahabharata serial.  Although the chariots used in those serials were made up of low quality wood, the actual Rathas were quite powerful and could carry heavy loads.

The development of Ratha can be imagined. First man used to walk and travel. Later on, he started to ride the back of animals which was quite tedious but faster than walking. But some brilliant mind got the idea of a wheel and thus constructed a chariot moving on wheel which would be pulled by muscle power of animals while man can comfortably sit in the chariot.


Thus began the science of building a Ratha. Further developments took place.
  • The material which was used to build a Ratha was light.
  • The number of wheels, animals attached were varied.
  • The concept of Sarathi who drives the Ratha was consequently developed.
  • The concept of building a Ratha has not been properly described in scriptures, but we have scattered references mostly from Rigveda to describe the Ratha.
  • The Ratha is said to be constructed of wood. The specific trees used were Khadir ( Khair in today's terms which is also used in Hom-Havan) and Shimshapa ( or Sheesham in today's terms). This information is given in RV ( 3.53.17-19)
  • The wheels used to have spokes for higher speeds and for being light in weight.
  • Different animals were used to pull the Ratha. Horses were most preferred during wars. But apart from horses, bulls, mules and wild ass was also used. RV (6.75.7) clearly tells that horses pull a Ratha faster than a bull. RV (3.53.17) tells us that bulls were indeed used to pull chariots. Use of wild ass in the Ratha of Ashwini Kumars is stated in RV (1.116.2)
  • Almost every God had a Ratha. Hymns from Rigveda talk of Rathas of Indra, Agni, Ashwini Kumars, Usha,etc. Almost every king at war had a Ratha.
  • Mahabharata and Ramayana wars have ample references to kings fighting on Rathas. Why others ? Our very own Krishna spoke the verses of Bhagvad Geeta on a chariot.
  • We have an extra special hymn in Rigveda. It is 6.75. It is composed by Payu Bharadvaja. King Prastoka Sarnjaya had sought help from Payu to win a war. So Payu created this hymn in praise of all war-related things including bow, arrow, Sarathi, Ratha, different parts of Ratha,etc. It contains information about different parts of Ratha.
Apart from this, horses having 34 ribs were used in wars and to draw Rathas.
Now, a Ratha should have specific dimensions to bring the best out of it. For that, we have different Shulba Sutras which describe how a Ratha should be constructed.

It is said that the Ratha of king Priyavrata, the son of Swayambhuva Manu, was so powerful, that it created seven big ditches in Earth ,when he was circumambulating the Meru mountain, which became the seven seas. The land that got separated from the seas is the seven continents or Sapta Mahadweep.
The Ratha had become such an integral part of people's life, that it seeped into Sanskrit language.
The most ace warrior was thus called " Maha-Rathi". 
The unit for measuring distance "Rathanya" came from Ratha travelling a decided distance.
The names of kings ended with Ratha. For eg- Dasharatha, Ashtiratha, Bhagiratha,etc.

The Ratha also inspired construction of temples. The best example is of Konark temple in Udisha. The Ratha had become such an integral part of people's life, that it seeped into Sanskrit language.
The most ace warrior was thus called " Maha-Rathi". 
The unit for measuring distance "Rathanya" came from Ratha travelling a decided distance.
The names of kings ended with Ratha. For eg- Dasharatha, Ashtiratha, Bhagiratha,etc.



The Ratha also inspired construction of temples. The best example is of Konark temple in Udisha. 
Now another question- Were Rathas being used only in wars ? Was there any other use ?
Let's look at the different types of Rathas- 
  • Sangramik Ratha- For wars.
  • Deva Ratha- For Gods.
  • Karni Ratha- Special Ratha for women, particularly queens.
  • Vainayik Ratha- For giving training of driving a Ratha.
  • Pushya Ratha- For processions of kings.
  • Kreeda Ratha- For competitions and races.
To add, the Kreeda Ratha was used extensively. Chariot racing is a famous game, even today. 
Even rituals needed Rathas. A Vajpeya Yagya needs a special Ratha "constructed from wood and having wheels with 17 spokes. ".

Rathas are used even today. The processions of different Gods are conducted on Rathas and are called Rathotsav. The most famous is the Ratha Yatra of Jagannath Puri. 

Off lately, there has been a lot of farce created due to the false Aryan Invasion Theory over excavation of Rathas in different parts of world. Wherever the Rathas are explored, countries go in a frenzy claiming that theirs is the original homeland of the so-called "Aryans". Varying Rathas made of wood, heavy, non-spoked have been found which date back to 3000 BC in Europe. Similar excavations have been made in the Mesopotamian and Hittite- Mittani civilizations in central Asia. In India, a toy in the form of a Ratha has been found in Daimabad, Maharashtra which dates to 2200 BC.



What ever may be the archaeological excavations, one thing is for sure, Rathas had a very dear place in the hearts of our ancestors, just like horses. !!!

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