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The Early Cholas History, Art and Culture

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Item Code: UAF811
Author: S. Swaminathan
Publisher: Sharada Publishing House, Delhi
Language: English
Edition: 1998
ISBN: 8185616493
Pages: 240 (26 B/W Illustrations)
Other Details 10.00 X 7.50 inch
Weight 830 gm
Book Description
About the Book
The period of early Cholas (850 A.D - 970 A.D) forms an important epoch in the history of Tamilnadu. Starting from a scratch the early Chola rulers exerted to establish a vast empire by their conquests. Rulers like Vijayalaya I, Aditya I and Parantaka I were great warriors who built the Gilt* empire inch by inch. Vijayalaya conquered Thanjavur, Aditya I annexed Tondai-mandalam and Parantaka I occupied Madurai. During the reign of Parantaka I his empire extended up to Nellore in the north to Kanyakumari in the south. Though the Takkolam battle put a poke into the expansion of the Cholas, it did not exhaust the vitality of the Chola empire. The Cholas recovered remarkably from the disaster and emerged like a phoenix and rebuilt the empire quickly.

The early Cholas are best remembered for their signal contribution in the sphere of local administration. The rules. relating to the mode of local administration best averred in the celebrated Uttiramerur inscriptions were conceived during the reign of Parantaka Chola I. The early Cholas also left their imprints on art, architecture and sculpture.

About the Author
Born in 1953, Dr. S. Swaminathan took his Master' Degrees in First Class in History and Tamil literature from the University of Madras. He joined the Epigraphy wing of the Archaeological Survey of India in 1980. Since then he is working in Dravidian Epigraphy. In 1989 he was awarded Ph. D degree by the University of Mysore, Mysore, for his thesis entitled "Chola Parantaka I and his times" which substantially represents the present book. Besides this he has published nearly seventy articles in various journals and volumes.

He also serves as an editor of the Journal of the Place-Name Society of India and Assistant Secretary of the Epigraphical Society of India. Presently he is engaged in editing the inscriptions copied in 1912 under South Indian Inscription Volume series.

Now-a-days historians lay emphasis on the socio-economic aspects and studies are made from the various ideological angles like Marxist, Socialistic, Traditional or Capitalistic, etc. The dynastic or regional framework for historical studies is played down. An impression has been created that already enough has been done on dynastic or regional history and no more needs to be done. The work presented here shows that this is not correct. It highlights that there is more work to be done even in the category of the dynastic history of the Cholas.

The pattern of political progress of a particular dynasty follows a uniform graph of small or humble beginnings then a meteoric rise to grandeur and sudden or gradual downfall. Each stage was influenced by the personality of the then ruler / rulers of that dynasty, his neighbouring contemporaries and the circumstances, natural and man-made. It is usual to have one of the rulers who shaped the middle period as the greatest among them. But it is found that such a one was only a culminating point and his predecessors had contributed a great deal to the strengthening of the kingdom and the basis for his achievements. An Alexander would probably not have been possible without a Phillip of Macedonia.

Chola Parantaka I belonged to the first stage in the glorious history of the Cholas. His achievements were not confined to the political field but also to the other fields, social, economic, etc. The Uttiramerur inscription concerning the laying down of the organisational framework of the Sabha of that place shows his solid contribution to the well-known administrative efficiency of the Cholas. So a full-scale study of the progress of his reign is essential to understand the development of the Chola institutions. The study presented here by Dr. S. Swaminathan is very significant contribution for understanding the Chola history. I wholeheartedly commend it to the scholars and even to the lay readers.

Parantaka I (907-955 A.D.) was a great Chola king. He was not a mere conqueror, but a great innovator too. In fact it was he who laid the foundations for the greatness of the Chola empire. During his reign many important events had taken place, which shaped the subsequent history of the Cholas. He was the most devout Saiva and immortalised himself by his services and munificence to many temples in Tamil country.

The present work embodies the result of my research on this great Chola king, carried out by me from 1984-87 and submitted to the Mysore University in 1987 for Ph.D. degree. I have taken up the above topic primarily because as already stated the period of Parantaka I is an important epoch witnessing many historical developments of far reaching consequences. The availability of large number of inscriptions of his period and my abiding interest on the history of the Cholas are other reasons.

The book is divided into eight chapters. The first chapter deals with the sources that are useful for this study. Inscriptions, their contents, provenance of inscriptions and their general nature are analysed in this chapter. The limitations of sources are also pointed out.

The next chapter deals with the political history before Parantaka I. An outline of the history from Vijayalaya to Aditya I is traced here to give a background to perceive the political development of Parantaka I's period.

The third chapter discusses the campaigns of Parantaka I. His annexation of Tondai mandalam, and his invasion of the Bana country, Madurai and Ceylon are dealt with. The Chola-Rashtrakata relation, battle of Takkolam (949 A.D.) and the consequences of the battle are also analysed. A map is also appended here to highlight Parantaka I's campaigns and the territories he captured in various places. His feudatories and their role in this period is also brought out in this chapter.

Political developments after Parantaka I are traced in the fourth chapter. The disaster at the Takkolam battle struck the Cholas. The efforts made by Sundarachola to retrieve the lost glory of the Cholas is traced here. A brief sketch of the Rashtrakata occupation in Tondai-mandalam is also studied. Taking advantage of the difficulties of the Cholas in the north much of the south under Vim. Pandya slipped out of the hands of the Cholas. The Cholas had to undertake fresh campaigns to recover the lost Pandi-mandalam. Fifth chapter is devoted to a study of the administration of Parantaka I. The powers of the hierarchy from the king down to the local assemblies are discussed. The two celebrated Uttiramerur inscriptions, their contents and the improvement that was effected in the second one are pointed out. The various assemblies and their functions are also analysed. The impact of the Rashtrakata invasion on the sphere of administration is also studied here.

The period of Parantaka I's reign forms an important chapter in the annals of South Indian History. He was not only a mere conqueror but also an organizer of high calibre. In fact, the genius of Chola administration goes to a larger extent to the organising ability of Parantaka I. He was eulogized in his own time "as death to his opponents, Brihaspati to wise men, Chintamani to his beloved subjects, treasure house to the noble, and lord of love to damsels".1 Verily he was the hero of his epoch and the politics of his times revolved around the personality of Parantaka I. With his accession to the throne, a new chapter in the history of South India commenced. He inherited a solid empire from his father Aditya 1,2 but he did not rest on his oars. He had an ambitious design of extending his territory all along the coast upto Kanyakumari in which he fairly succeeded. He made Ceylon feel the effect of his arms. He had also conquered new areas, not attempted by his predecessors such as Madurai and Nellore. He did not forget to undertake constructive works for the benefit of his subjects. The two Uttiramerur inscriptions3 categorically reveal his genius for internal and local administration. Though a devout Saivite and an ardent devotee of Lord Nataraja of Chidambaram, Parantaka I was not a bigot. During his reign Vaishnavism and Jainism made headway and counted numerous followers.

His long reign of forty-eight years ushered in a new era of economic prosperity. Reclamation of large areas of land on the Kaveri region boosted agricultural development, which led to all round prosperity. As almost the whole of the first half of the tenth century A.D. was occupied by his rule which extended over nearly the entire Tamil Nadu as well as over a part of Andhra Pradesh too, the results of the above mentioned activities apparently possess more or less uniform characteristics irrespective of the differences of localities. In the words of K.A. Nilkanth Sastri4 "In fact Parantaka I's reign was a great epoch in the history of South Indian temple architecture, and the work of temple building begun by Aditya I was continued vigorously during the best part of his reign".

Book's Contents and Sample Pages

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