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Pudukkottai - Its contribution to Tamil culture

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Title: Pudukkottai - Its contribution to Tamil culture


1
India, our motherland, can boast of an unbroken
tradition of 5000 years. Truly, a nation of
unity in diversity.
by S. Swaminathan (sswami99_at_gmail.com)
2
  • Tamilnadu, the land of our forefathers,
  • is a land of culture and arts.
  • Tamil, our language, is ancient and classical,
    and at the same time modern.

3
Our tradition has a hoary past. It is unique
unique in many respects.
4
Thol-kaappiyam not just a treatise on grammar
but a treasure-house of contemporary Tamil
tradition...
Sangam poetry, a collection of marvelous
dramatic monologues.
Kural won the appellation of world gospel.
Bharathi not only the morning star of modern
Tamil literature, but also a leading light of the
20th century renaissance in Indian life and
letters.
5
Thus would go on our unique culture
6
PUDUKKOTTAI
Public Office Building, Pudukkottai
PUDUKKOTTAI, a district of Tamilnadu, is a
museum of South Indian arts and can be called an
archaeological paradise.
7
PUDUKKOTTAI
This tiny slice of South India has a glorious
past and can be proud of its contributions to
Indian culture, especially to Tamil culture.
The palace of the last Maharajah (present
Collectorate) in Indo-Saracenic style
8
THIRUVARANGULAM
This is Lord Nataraja performing the cosmic
dance. This beautiful bronze is from
Tiruvaran-gulam, Pudukkottai
One may see this imposing bronze at the
entrance of the National Museum, New
Delhi. Some even say that this the second best
bronze ever sculpted by humankind.
9
AVUDAIYARKOIL
Thiru-p-perum-thurai, a place blessed by the
Saint Manikka-vasagar. A great story of great
significance is attached to this place. Every
one knows the story how jackals became horses.
Manikka-vasagar
Now known as Avudaiyarkoil, the temple in
addition, is well known for its exquisite
sculptures.
10
SITTANNAVASAL
A scene from the Sittannavasal painting
Sittannavasal the best known archaeological site
of the district.
The celebrated paintings here of the 9th century
AD are considered to be second only in
importance to the paintings in the Ajanta
caves.
11
SITTANNAVASAL
This is a pre-historical burial site, at least
3000 years old.
A Pre-Historic burial site
12
SITTANNAVASAL
Here are some highly polished stone beds in
which the Jain sages fasted unto death as
religious austerity from the 3rd century BC
onwards.
The famous inscriptions in Tamil-Brahmi of the
3rd century, Vattezhuththu of the 2nd century AD
later Tamil inscriptions are milestones in
Tamil history
Ancient Tamil inscription found around this Jaina
bed
13
TEMPLE ARCHITECTURE
The district can boast of largest number of cave
temples in Tamilnadu.
The celebrated ones are
Thiru-go-karnam
Thirumayam
Malayadippatti
Kudumiyanmalai.
14
TEMPLE ARCHITECTURE
Most of the early temples that led to the great
Chozha temples, like the Brihadisvara Temple
can be seen in the Pudukkottai tract.
Kodumbalur
Narttamalai
Narttamalai, Kodumbalur, Kaliyapatti, Panangudi,
Kannanur, Tirukkattalai etc are some of the
early Chozha temples
15
SCULPTURES
Pallava-s initiated the tradition of temple
building in Tamilnadu, starting from cave
temples and perfecting structural temples.
Their sculptures are of great beauty,
unexcelled even by the Imperial Chozha-s. Their
equals are here in Pudukkottai.
Kalari-moorthi and Rishabha-rudha are some of
the masterpieces one finds in Muvar-koil of
Kodumbalur.
Kalari-moorthi
Rishabha-rudha
16
IDENTITY OF PUDUKKOTTAI
Many places in Pudukkottai tract find mention in
Sangam literature. The traditional boundary
between the Chozha-s and the Pandya-s was the
river Vellar which runs in the middle of
Pudukkottai tract.
CHOZHA-S
RIVER VELLAR
PANDYA-S
17
IDENTITY OF PUDUKKOTTAI
The present Pudukkottai District has become an
administrative entity from the time of the
Thondaimans in 17th century. Rule of the
Thondaiman dynasty continued with the support of
the British, until its merger with the Indian
Union in 1948.
Rajah Rajagopala Tondaiman, the last Maharajah
Rajah Ramachandra Tondaiman in Darbar
18
IDENTITY OF PUDUKKOTTAI
Amman Kaasu Coin minted by the Thondaimans.
19
EPOCH MAKERS FROM PUDUKKOTTAI SOIL
The Pudukkottai town is one of the few
fully planned towns in India, thanks to
the great administrators.
William Blackburne 200 years ago laid the
foundation stone.
Sashiah Sastri 100 years ago completed the
task.
Tottenham whose administrative procedures are
followed through out Tamilnadu.
Sashiah Sastri
W. Blackburn
Tottenham
20
EPOCH MAKERS FROM PUDUKKOTTAI SOIL
Veeramamunivar
that is Fr. Beschi, a great Tamil savant, was
living in Avur during 1732 AD, and during the
turbulent days of Carnatic war the Father bore
ill-treatment by the army of Chanda-Saheb
with unruffled equanimity
21
EPOCH MAKERS FROM PUDUKKOTTAI SOIL
Dr Muthulakshmi Reddy
the first woman MBBS in the country. Also the
first woman to be elected to a legislative body
in the country. Her contribution to women
emancipation is immense
22
EPOCH MAKERS FROM PUDUKKOTTAI SOIL
Sathyamoorthy
the famous freedom fighter.
23
EPOCH MAKERS FROM PUDUKKOTTAI SOIL
Akhilan
the first Tamil to receive Bharatiya Jyanpith
award.
24
EPOCH MAKERS FROM PUDUKKOTTAI SOIL
Al. Valliyappa
The famous poet for children. Pudukkottai was an
important centre for publishing. Its
contribution to childrens literature is
substantial.
25
PERFORMING ARTS
Pudukkottais contribution to music and dance is
impressive. It is believed that Saint Thyagaraja
first sang in the Thondaiman court
26
PERFORMING ARTS
The nada upasakar and laya vidwan Mamundia
Pillai created Kanjira and established the
Pudukkottai school of mridangam.
Among his worthy disciples was the redoubtable
Dhakshinamoorthy Pillai.
Dhakshinamoorthy
Mamundiya Pillai
27
PERFORMING ARTS
The veena brothers, Subbarama Iyer and
Sambasiva Iyer, perfected the Thanjavur bani of
veenai playing.
28
PERFORMING ARTS
Sivarama Nattuvanar and a host of dance teachers
of this princely state were celebrated all
over the dance world
29
PERFORMING ARTS
Rukmani Devi Arundale was mainly responsible for
making Bharathanatyam an art form fit for
concerts.
30
PERFORMING ARTS
The list of musicians, dancers and dance
teachers hailing from Pudukkottai is long and
their contribution to their chosen field is
considerable
31
PERFORMING ARTS
In the popular field of cinema Pudukkottai-ans
carved a place for themselves.
Raja Sandow, the hero of the silent movie, who
made a mark in Mumbai too.
PU Chinnappa, the then superstar.
Gemini Ganesan, the romantic hero
AVM Rajan, a well known actor of yesteryears.
32
One may go on...... This is our PUDUKKOTTAI.
33
THE PRESENT SCENARIO
It is certain that there are similar reasons for
every person to be proud of his/her own district.
But, how many of us are aware of our own
history?
34
THE PRESENT SCENARIO
Those who are born in Pudukkottai and lived in
there for considerable time would be aware of
some part of its history and its importance.
But most, particularly belonging to the
younger generation, may not.
Worse we witness helplessly destruction of our
heritage, our history.
35
THE PRESENT SCENARIO
Most of the priceless paintings of Sittannavasal
are damaged by vandalism and apathy.
36
THE PRESENT SCENARIO
The celebrated temples are dilapidated. This is
not due to lack of resources, but for lack of
historical sense.
37
THE PRESENT SCENARIO
Valuable documents, palm-leaf manuscripts,
books, personal memoirs and those that can help
trace history are irrevocably lost, and being
destroyed.
38
I now take the pleasure of presenting
Sittannavasal, which, along with Kodumbalur and
Narttamalai form a Golden Triangle of
Pudukkottai.
39
SITTANNAVASAL MONUMENTS
40
Location of Sittannavasal
Sittannavasal,
a small village in the Pudukkottai district of
Tamilnadu, is a world-famous archaeological
site.
It lies at 15 km from Pudukkottai on the road to
Illuppur.
41
Sittannavasal monuments
There are four interesting monuments on and
around a large rocky hillock
Arivar-koil
It is renowned for its mural paintings in the
Jaina cave temple. These paintings are second
only in importance after Ajanta paintings and
have an important place in the Indian art
history. It was a flourishing centre of Jaina
influence where Jainism flourished for over 1200
years (3rd century BC to 10th century AD).
42
Sittannavasal monuments
Ezhadippattam
There are a number of natural caverns with
polished stone- beds in this hillock where Jain
ascetics performed austerities. One of such
caverns, called Ezhadippattam, contains 17
stone-beds, with inscriptions in Tamil dating
from 3rd century BC.
43
Sittannavasal monuments
Navachchunai
A tarn situated on the northern part of the
hillock, with a submerged rock-cut shrine inside.
44
Sittannavasal monuments
Burial sites
This village was one of the oldest inhabited
sites in this area. The megalithic burial sites
here testify to this.
45
ARIVAR-KOIL
46
Arivar-koil
This is a Jaina cave temple, excavated before
the 9th century AD and has the famous mural
paintings
Originally thought of an excavation of
Mahendra-varma Pallavan, this is now considered
to be a Pandya contribution Still there is
uncertainty regarding the origin of this temple
47
Arivar-koil
The cave temple lies on the west face of the
hillock, near the northern end. A walk of about
100 feet over the sloping rock takes the visitor
to the cave temple.
48
ARIVAR-KOIL architecture
49
The cave temple consists of a garbha-griham,
an ardha-mandapam
and a pillared veranda.
Garbha-griham
A mukha-mandapam that was added in 9th century
AD has collapsed.
Ardha-mandapam
Pillared-veranda
The pillared veranda is a later addition in the
20th century.
50
Originally the entire space, except the floor,
had been plastered and painted.
But only a part of the paintings on the ceiling
and patches elsewhere remain.
51
Pillared-veranda
52
Pillared Varenda
This pillared veranda, in front, is a later
construction, added in the 20th century by the
Tondaiman-s of Pudukkottai. It provides much
needed protection from rain and sun.
53
Pillared Varenda
A 17-line Tamil inscription on the rock-face of
the original cave can be seen from here.
It mentions about the repair and extension of
the cave temple by a Jaina Acharya called Ilan
Gautaman, during the reign of the Pandya king,
Srimaran-srivallabhan (9th century AD).
It is from this inscription we find that the cave
temple was excavated before the 9th century.
54
Ardha-mandapam
55
Ardha-mandapam
From the front veranda one enters this
ardha-mandapam which is 22½ feet by 7½ feet.
On the side walls are two niches containing
sculptures of a Tirthankara and an Acharya.
56
The ardha-mandapam contained some exquisite
paintings, of which precious little remains.
57
Garbha-griham
58
Garbha-griham
Beyond the ardha-mandapam is this
Garbha-griham. It is 10 feet by 10 feet.
On the back wall are three images carved in
relief. On the ceiling is carved a
Dharma-chakra. The ceiling contains relics of
paintings.
59
ARIVAR-KOIL sculptures
60
There are only five sculptures, all in relief,
in this cave temple. Two of them are in the
ardha-mandapam, on the side-walls. The
garbha-griham contains three figures in a row,
on the rear-wall.
These sculptures are of Jaina Tirthankara-s and
Acharya-s.
61
Ardha-mandapam
62
Ardha-mandapam
The niche on the southern wall contains a figure
of Parsvanatha, the twenty-third Tirthankara.
He is seated cross-legged in the dhyana
(meditative) pose. There is a five headed
serpent spreading its hood over his head
identifying him as Parsvanatha.
63
Ardha-mandapam
The niche on the northern wall is a figure of a
Jaina Acharya seated in the same pose. There is
a single umbrella over the head of the image,
which indicates that it is not a Tirthankara.
64
Garbha-griham
65
Garbha-griham
On the back-wall of the garbha-griham are three
images carved in relief in a row.
All of them are in the same dhyana (meditative)
posture.
The northern and central figures have mukkudai
(triple umbrella), indicating them to be
Tirthankara-s. The southern figure has a single
umbrella, and probably a Chakravarti or an
Acharya.
66
ARIVAR-KOIL paintings
67
Indian Paintings
Ajanta, 200BC-600AD
Sittannavasal paintings are an early example of
post-Ajanta period painting and are of the
classical Ajanta style with variation in the
handling of the material by the artists.
68
Indian Paintings
Kanchipuram 7th century AD
The paintings in Kailasanatha Temple in Kanchi
antedate the Sittannavasal paintings.
69
Indian Paintings
Thanjavur 1100AD
The paintings in Brihadiswara Temple in Thanjavur
are the continuation of the Sittannavasal
tradition.
70
Sittannavasal Paintings
The technique used is known as fresco-secco,
that is, painting done on dry wall. In this
process, the surface is first covered with lime
plaster,then coated with lime-wash and the
painting done on it. Mineral colours of
permanent nature were employed for the painting.
71
Sittannavasal Paintings
The subjects of the Sittannavasal paintings
include the Samava-sarana of the Jaina
mythology, a few solo-pictures, that includes
dancing damsels, birds, floral decorations, and
various carpet canopy designs.
72
Sittannavasal Paintings
Originally the entire cave temple, excluding the
floor, including the sculptures was covered
with plaster and painted. Only traces of these
are now extant.
All these paintings, which would rank among the
great paintings of India, are barely visible
now, mainly due to vandalism with in the last
50-60 years.
73
Sittannavasal Paintings
This Jaina site and its paintings were first
noticed by a local historian S. Radhakrishna
Iyer in 1916.
But Jouveau Dubreuil and T.A. Gopinatha Rao
brought it before the archaeological world in
1920.
74
Sittannavasal Paintings
In 1942, Dr. S. Paramasivan and K.R. Srinivasan
found that there are two layers of paintings, an
earlier and a later superimposed over the
earlier one.
The layer of painting, which we see today and
admire, is probably the work of Ilan-Gautaman
(9th century AD), mentioned in the inscription.
These are some of theearliest frescos in South
India and only example of early Jaina frescoes.
75
Ceiling of ardha-mandapam
On the ceiling of ardha-mandapam, canopies of
floral pattern are painted over the two relief
images.
76
Ceiling of ardha-mandapam
The samava-sarana composition
In Jainism, where worship of great souls
occupies an important place, Tirthankara-s are
the most venerated religious prophets.
One of the five important events in the life of a
Tirthankara is the first sermon after attaining
the kevala-jnana (realisation), in a specially
designed complex called Samava-sarana.
This Samava-sarana is a favourite motif for
representation in the Jaina temples.
77
Ceiling of ardha-mandapam
The samava-sarana composition
The scene painted in the ardha-mandapam is a
lotus tank which is a part of the Samava-sarana
complex. It is the second region, called
khatika-bhumi (region-of-the-tank). Here, we
see, the bhavya-s (the good ones), rejoice while
washing themselves, as they pass on from region
to region in order to hear the discourse of the
Lord in the heavenly pavilion of Samava-sarana.
78
Ceiling of ardha-mandapam
The samava-sarana composition
This painting shows bhavya-s enjoying themselves
in a pool, full of flowering lotuses. Flowers
with their stalks and leaves, various kinds of
fishes frolicking, a makara (mythical fish),
buffaloes, elephants and numerous birds are
shown with simplicity, charm and naturalness.
79
The samava-sarana composition
The pose and expression of the bhavya-s shown in
the picture have a charm and beauty, which compel
attention.
Two of them are shown together in one part of the
tank.
One is picking lotus flowers with his right hand
and has a basket of flowers slung on the other.
80
The samava-sarana composition
His companion carries a lotus in one hand, the
other is bent gracefully, the fingers forming the
mrigi-mudra (deer-gesture).
81
The samava-sarana composition
The third bhavya, an extremely beautiful figure,
carries a bunch of lotus over his left shoulder
and lily over his right.
The three figures are naked, except for their
loin-cloths. The hair is neatly arranged and
the lobes of the ears are distended.
82
The samava-sarana composition
The three figures are naked, except for their
loin-cloths. The hair is neatly arranged and the
lobes of the ears are distended.
83
Ceiling of ardha-mandapam
The samava-sarana composition
84
Pillars of ardha-mandapam
There were some exquisite paintings of dancing
girls on the pillars. These priceless treasures
are now lost forever and only their outlines are
traceable today.
These animated figures, with their broad hips,
slender waists, and elaborate ornaments, recall
the beauty of the apsara-s of mythology their
pose and expression suggest rhythm and dynamic
movement. These portraitures of dancers must
rank as one among the best in the whole of India.
85
Pillars of ardha-mandapam
One of them has her left arm stretched-out in
lata-hasta pose and right arm bent at the elbow.
Her ears are adorned with olai (patra-kundala),
rings set with gems, and her arms decked with
bracelets and bangles.
86
Pillars of ardha-mandapam
The other is even more graceful. Her left arm
stretched-in lata-hasta pose, while her right
arm is bent at the elbow.
The head-dress and the ornaments of this dancer
are very distinct. The hair is decked with
flower garlands.
87
Pillars of ardha-mandapam
There is also remnant of a painting of a royal
couple, on the southern pillar.
88
Cornice beam of ardha-mandapam
There are paintings on the corbels, beam and
cornice. On the corbel are scroll designs with
lotuses.
Painted lotuses in different stages of
flowering.
89
Cornice beam of ardha-mandapam
The painting on the cornice is made up of carpet
designs with lotuses.
In front of each of the two pillars are painted
hamsa (mythical swan).
On the northern wall are the figures of fruits
and flowers in yellow and red.
90
Ceiling of garbha-griham
The painting above the three relief sculptures
suggests a carpet, with striped borders and
irregular squares and circles interlinked.
Within the squares are lotus flowers.
Inside the circles is a cross, with two human
figures on upper side andtwo lion figures on
the lower side of the horizontal arm.
91
EZHADIPPATTAM
92
Ezhadippattam
Ezhadipattam is the name given to a natural
cavern where over more than a thousand years
since 3rd century BC, Jaina ascetics practiced
severest penance such as Kayot-sarga
(meditation-till-salvation-in-standing-pose) and
sallekhana (fasting-unto-death).
93
Ezhadippattam
A few hundred meters south of the cave-temple is
the beginning of the path that leads to
Ezhadippattam.
94
Ezhadippattam
The cavern is near the top of the centre of the
hill, on the eastern side. But the approach is
from the west.
The Cavern
Entry to the Cavern
Originally this path to the cavern, along a
narrow ledge was difficult and dangerous.
95
The stone-beds
The cavern is roomy but low. The floor is marked
out into spaces for seventeen beds, each with a
sort of stone pillow. They are highly polished.
Most of the beds are inscribed. But all these
inscriptions are barely visible now, due to
vandalism within last 50-60 years.
96
Inscriptions
One of the beds, the largest, is the oldest It
contains an inscription in Tamil in the Tamil
Brahmi script of the 3rd century BC. This is one
of the oldest lithic records of South India.
It mentions that Ilaiyar of Tenku-ciru-posil
made this seat for Kavuti born at Kumizhur in
erumi-naadu (probably in Karnataka).
97
Inscriptions
Near other beds, names of other Jaina ascetics
who practised penance are inscribed. There are a
number of inscriptions belonging 7th to 10th
centuries AD.
98
Ezhadippattam stone beds inscriptions nearby
There are a number of stone-beds and inscriptions
around Ezhadippattam.
There is also a passage to reach the hill through
a very narrow cavern, now under disuse.
99
NAVACH-CHUNAI
100
Navach-chunai
The pool takes its name from a naval-maram
(Syzygium jambolanum) close by.
101
Jambunatha submerged cave temple
The sunai contains a submerged Pandya rock-cut
shrine inside.
It contains a lingam in the centre and a narrow
passage to walk around. The water is
occasionally baled out, and the lingam is
worshiped.
However, there is no clue as to why such temples
were excavated at all.
102
MEGALITHIC BURIALS
103
Megalithic Burials
Certain typical modes of disposing the dead in
the mega-lithic period (3rd century BC to 1st
century AD) are preserved in the Pudukkottai
tract.
104
Megalithic Burials
  • Excavations reveal three types of burials in
    Pudukkottai region
  • grave-burials, practised by poor people,
  • urn-burials, in which the dead men were buried
  • in a sitting posture in a large earthenware pot
    and
  • burials in deep stone-chambers formed of stone
    slabs (cists).

Quite a few burial sites are found in
Sittannavasal
105
Megalithic Burials
Loosely called dolmans, these are stone-capped
burial monuments with chambers in stone.
Mudu-makkal-thazhi (burial-pots-of-the-old-people
) is the most widely used local name. These
are easily identifiable by the appearance of a
circle of laterite or granite stones and small
boulders on the surface of the spot.
106
OTHER INTERESTING PLACES
107
Other places of interest
At the foothills of the hillock, on the western
side, are two temples in ruins.
One is dedicated to Siva and another to a
Goddess.
There are a few loose sculptures near to these
shrines.
These two temples have not been studied in
detail yet.
108
Other places of interest
There are shrines for local deity, Ayyanar with
the customary terracotta sculptures of horses,
etc. nearby.
109
The Sittannavasal Complex offers an opportunity
to travel in time from the 3rd century till
modern times, and to savour certain unique
features of our past.
110
Thank you
S. Swaminathan Kiran Pandian
111
This presentation is made possible by
Sudharsanam, a centre for arts and
culture, Pudukkottai, Tamilnadu and the
presenters acknowledge their gratitude to the
trustees.
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