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Books > Art and Architecture > Architecture > Pondicherry Inscriptions (Set of 2 Parts)
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Pondicherry Inscriptions (Set of 2 Parts)
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Pondicherry Inscriptions (Set of 2 Parts)
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Description

Part I

 

About the Book

 

The inscriptions gathered together in this volume for the first time come from the Union Territory of Pondicherry and span a broad period from the 10th to the 19th century. The total number assembled is 545; only inscriptions on tombstones have been consciously excluded. The epigraphs belong to various dynasties, such as those of the Rastrakutas, Colas, later Pallavas, Pantiyas, the Vijayanagara kings and the Sambhuvarayas, The vast majority of them are written in Tamil language, but Sanskrit, Telugu and Kannada, as well as Latin and French, are also to be found.

 

The text of each inscription is preceded by a short summary of its content and a note of information pertaining to prior publications, along with details of its location, date (in Indian and in Christian calculations), dynasty and the name of the king in whose reign it was inscribed. An elaborate preface in English and an introduction in Tamil map the historical context to which these inscriptions belong and show how these sources may be used in reconstructing the cultural history of a particular region within the Tamil-speaking South of India.

 

Preface

 

It is always a matter for celebration when a body of inscriptional material, the product of the meticulous labour of epigraphists, becomes available to a wider public through a publication such as this one. It has been estimated that at least 25,000 inscriptions have been discovered in the region of South India today known as Tamilnadu, including the Union Territory of Pondicherry, of which fewer than one-third have been published. 1 Truly we have an embarrassment of riches, which far exceeds the expectations of those who first began to collect this material. The special subcommittee set up by the colonial government in 1887 to enquire into the future work of the recently-founded Archaeological Survey of India heard the testimony of Pandit Natesa Sastri, who urged that unless the epigraphical establishment (constituted in its entirety at that time by E. Hultzsch and his assistant V. Venkayya) took on more personnel "it would take a hundred years to complete the task of collecting, deciphering, and translating all the South Indian inscriptions."? More than a hundred years have now passed, and the work of countless epigraphists in collecting and deciphering these inscriptions continues unabated, with no apparent end in sight; the hope that they might all be translated has long since been abandoned, and one instead anticipates their publication. Far too any of these precious records - of value for their material, historical, and literary significance -remain inaccessible.'

 

The present volume constitutes an especially important contribution as it provides us with the texts of inscriptions systematically collected from a series of specific locales, clustered in the Pondicherry and Karaikkal areas, and combines this in-depth geographical focus with a chronological breadth spanning a millennium, from the mid-tenth to the early twentieth century." Virtually all of the 544 inscriptions in this volume were composed in the Tamil language, and almost all of them were engraved in stone on the walls of temples as records of donations that were made to the temple. Most of them belong to the period of the tenth to the early fourteenth century, during the time when the kings first of the Rastrakuta and then - especially - of the Chola dynasty were politically dominant in this region, followed by several chiefs who seized power, like the upstart "Pallava" Kopperuncinkan, and by the later Pandyas. This period of the tenth to early fourteenth centuries was one during which stone inscriptions were produced in enormous numbers throughout the Tamil region, while during the time of the rulers of Vijayanagara, who exercised sovereignty over this territory from the fourteenth through sixteenth centuries - as witnessed by several inscriptions in the present collection - there was a dramatic drop in the number of inscriptions engraved in stone, except at a few particular temples which enjoyed royal patronage, none of which are located in the territory of Pondicherry. In this preface I propose to offer an introduction to the Tamil inscriptions in general - what they are, how and why they were produced, and how they have been and may be read - using the "Pondicherry inscriptions" which you have at hand as a means of illustrating the special characteristics of these documents and the possibilities that they embody.'

 

Although we generally treat inscriptions as texts - and this volume presents them in just such a fashion - it essential that we acknowledge that they are also objects, whose appearance, location, mode of production, and material condition are a fundamental aspect of their being. In discussing the relationship between archaeological research and historical studies based on literary texts, T. Trautmann and C. Sinopoli characterize inscriptions as "amphibious sources," which seem to belong to both realms, and, indeed, problematize the distinction between the two." In some cases, the "thingness" of an inscription would seem impossible to overlook - the famous edicts of the emperor Ashoka engraved on pillars weighing over fifty tons, moved with enormous effort from distant quarries and beautifully polished and carved; the Tiruvalangadu copper-plates of the Chola king Rajendra I, with their inscription, comprising thirty-one sheets of copper engraved on both sides and bound together with a huge ring, the whole weighing nearly two hundred pounds; the inscriptions recording the endowments of Rajaraja I and members of the royal family to the Tanjavur temple, whose elegant calligraphy seems to be a part of the sculptural program of the temple - yet all too often these objects are treated purely as words.' In these examples, the inscription as words was created simultaneously with its stone or metal embodiment, but even where the stone wall of the temple as the medium of communication was already in existence - as is the case in virtually all of our Pondicherry inscriptions - the sponsor of the inscription would have had many choices that would affect its physical character and its impact. There was first of all the very decision, and the opportunity, to have a gift to the temple or a transfer of property recorded in this fashion: to have something "written in stone" carried the same sense in medieval Tamilnadu as does in contemporary English usage, connoting a solemn and permanent agreement, and one that would be further confirmed by the authority of the deity in whose presence and on whose premises this charter was inscribed. Then there was the matter of the placement of the inscription (where on the wall? which wall?), of the amount of space the inscription would take up, and of the selection of an artisan more or less skilled in engraving. These were matters of concern to those who produced the inscriptions, and we who read the inscriptions many centuries later ignore them at our peril."

 

Although we have long appreciated the "locatability" of inscriptions in terms of geography - being able to fix provenance by "find spot" in a way that is very rarely possible in the case of literary texts - we are less receptive to other aspects of the inscriptions' physical character. Those who are engaged in the work of epigraphy are, of course, intimately in touch with this dimension of the inscriptions. In the field, they are confronted with archaic engraved characters which may be worn away, chipped off, or filled in with whitewash, stones that have been damaged, removed, or recycled in new building projects, and inscriptions that may be very difficult of access because of their placement in a temple where worship is conducted and where renovation is continuous. The epigraphist makes estampages directly from the inscriptions, dusting the stone with black powder and pressing damp paper into it, after having in some cases to overcome certain priestly objections to this procedure." It is ironic, perhaps, that the epigraphists' work following this labour of "collection," resulting in an edited transcript of a text rendered in a modem South Indian script, shields us so thoroughly from the physical being of the inscriptions. On the printed page the "look" and "feel" of the inscription is almost completely effaced - the script is different, white paper substitutes for the texture and colour of the stone, and the breakages or later architectural elements that interrupt the text are replaced by a series of dots. All that remains on the page to remind us of what the inscription actually is (or was - in the case of those inscriptions collected in decades past which are no longer to be found) are the indications of the length of the lines of writing, allowing us to see in our mind's eye a series of short lines (e.g. #22 from Pakar, or #370 from Kariyamanikkam) engraved down the side of a pillar, or to consider how a text was adapted to a space defined by the temple's architecture (as in #388 from Villiyanur), or to imagine an inscription with very long lines (e.g. #102, 103, and 158 from Tirupuvanai) literally wrapped around the walls of the central shrine of the temple.

 

This last arrangement of the epigraph as an engraving serves as a striking reminder of the difference between our apprehension of the inscription as something to be read, and the experience of those who viewed it (and continue to view it) in situ - who would not only have come across it as part of a religious edifice, but would have done so while making a clockwise circumambulation of this edifice, and would thus be encountering the left-to-right writing from the wrong direction." Even if such a viewer were literate, and conversant with pte poetic or legalistic vocabulary employed in the inscriptions, even if he or she were familiar with the script employed - which, for words or passages in Sanskrit, would include ornate Grantha characters - and even if he or she were inclined to attempt to decipher the inscription, this counter-sense placement (and the necessity of shuttling back and forth from the end of one line to the beginning of the next) would create a considerable obstacle to the comprehension of the inscription's contents. Many inscriptions are engraved along the basement stones of temple structures and one must crouch down to see them properly. In other cases, stone inscriptions are located at such heights or in such obscurity that they are scarcely visible to the visitor unequipped with ladder or flashlight. Clearly, the inscriptions were designed to function as something more and something other than purely as texts, and the vast majority of people coming into contact with them - and even many of those involved in their production" - would have perceived them in this light.

 

Part II

 

About the Book

 

In this volume Dr. G. Vijayavenugopal provides a complete English translation of the inscriptions of the territory of Pondicherry and Karaikkal, which were edited in Part I. Such a volume of translations of Tamil inscriptions is something of a landmark: the last volume of South Indian Inscriptions to provide complete translations appeared in 1920-29, and one of the last instances of a regional South Indian corpus being published in this manner was that of The Inscriptions in the Pudukkottai State, the last volume of which appeared in 1946.

 

A substantial Preface by Emmanuel Francis and Charlotte Schmid explores the form and changing role of the meykkirtti, the royal eulogy in Tamil that prefaces and dates many inscriptions of the Cola period. As they demonstrate, this genre of royal eulogy is in every way different from the Sanskrit prasasti.

 

Dr. Vijayavenugopal follows this with a general introduction, a chapter on language and linguistics that deals with the phonological variations and gives a detailed description of the sentence-patterns found in the corpus, and a chapter that considers the importance of the inscriptions as historical source material. Then come the translations. Neither smooth nor entirely literal, they represent an attempt to render the nuances of the Tamil syntax of a very particular sort of document. English translations of some of the meykkirttis are given here for the first time.

 

Finally, an array of appendices has been supplied to open the corpus up to various potential users: several indices, a glossary, a list of formulaic phrases, and two appendices presenting the distribution of the inscriptions, one ordered by ruling kings and the other by the places in which the inscriptions are to be found.

 

Preface

 

The publication of Part One of the Pondicherry inscriptions was the first outcome of a project started in 1983 by Bahour S. Kuppusamy and joined by Dr G. Vijayavenugopal in 1997. In her preface to that volume (Pondicheay inscriptions. Complied by Bebour S. Kuppussmy. Edited by G. Vijaya venugopal. Part I Introduction and texts with notes, Collection Indologie 83.1, EFEO & IFP: Pondicherry, 2006, p. 1) Leslie C. Orr described it as "a matter for celebration". It is true that editions of epigraphic corpora are nowadays rare.

 

With the present volume, the second part of the Pondicherry inscriptions, Dr G. Vijayavenugopal offers us something even more exceptional, with the complete translation of the 544 inscriptions edited in the first volume? This volume will thus grant access to these important sources for non-specialists of the Tamil language. In addition to these translations, the reader will find an introduction and two chapters, one devoted to the linguistic aspects of the corpus (p. Iv ff.) and another concerned with the historical information it reveals (p. cv ff.), The volume is complemented with ten useful indices (p. 239 ff.), and two appendices (p. 361 ff.).

 

The rather narrow geographical basis of the Pondicherry corpus, covering 450 out of the almost 500 square km. of the Pondicherry Union territory is one of its peculiarities.' It thus enables one to make a regional study even though the Karaikkal area is somewhat disconnected from Pondicherry itself.

 

Since Dr G. Vijayavenugopal has highlighted the historical information in the second chapter in this volume (p. cv ff.), and since Leslie C. Orr has written a general and insightful preface on epigraphy for the first volume of the Pondicherry inscriptions, we will focus in this preface on the royal eulogies, the meykkirttis, in order to illustrate the kinds of opportunities represented by such a corpus. Many meykkirttis are found on the temples of the Pondicherry area, especially in sites such as Pakur (also Bahur and Vakur), Tirupuvanai, Tiruvantarkoyil and Matakatippattu. Examples found in the Karaikkal area, in particular at Tirunallaru, further south, will serve here as a point of comparison.

 

The tem1 meykkirtti, used in historiography to designate the Tamil eulogies found sometimes at the beginning of inscriptions and followed by the so-called "business part," is in itself problematic." The array of meanings of mey indicates that there may be a claim to reality, even to materiality. Meykkirtti is generally translated as "true fame". According to Dr G. Vijayavenugopal, the term might have been coined to contrast with prssasti (i.e. the eulogy written in Sanskrit), which often displays mythological content, and imaginary, fantasised, or literary embellishments. It is true that meykkritis usually contain more reference to "real" events and actual deeds of kings, but one may ask whether mythology was also not considered to be real in Indian culture. Moreover, as noted by Dr G. Vijayavenugopal, in meykkittti: from later Cola kings who were not great victorious warriors, more space is devoted to literary and poetical devices so as to eulogise a reign with few conquests or other such deeds," while at the same time formulae or even entire lines from meykkirttis of earlier kings are· integrated in a kind of patchwork." It is also possible, as suggested to us by Eva Wilden, that ll1eykkJJttiliterally means "fame [in the form of] a body", in reference to the belief that after death kings leave their fame as a body (mey) remaining on earth, even as their life (uyir) is extinguished.' However, the kings praised in meykkirtti: are living and reigning kings. It is also conceivable that the term meykkutti as "true fame" responds to the criticism that eulogy is hyperbolic and exaggerating, or that it implies that fame really exists only if it is encapsulated in a literary text.

 

Meykkirttis have been used as historical documents by renowned historians such as K. A. Nilakanta Sastri who, although he considered that they deserve sometimes to be named poykkutti ("false fame"), based nevertheless his magnum opus on the Colas on this type of source (The C6/;/s, 1935-193i, 19552, Madras: University of Madras)." Other scholars (Burton Stein, James Heitzrnan, Noboru Karashima, Y. Subbarayalu for instance) have focussed on the business part of inscriptions that the meykkirttis precede. This approach to inscriptions is certainly legitimate, but it has entailed a lack of study of the meykkirtm, which have become separated off as a different field of research. Many meykkirttis have been translated by Eugen Hultzsch and others in the early volumes of S11, but since then, and notwithstanding some valuable exceptions," their texts have not attracted much scholarly attention. Very often entries in the Areare satisfied with the sole mention of the first line of a meykkittti without further enquiry on possible variants. As a result, many well-known meykkitttis are not yet translated'" and more recently discovered or longer versions are unknown to the scholarly community. J J Another reason to revive the study of meykkitttis, is that they are integral to the study of the political discourse from the point of view of languages, a field of investigation opened up by the recent work of Sheldon Pollock (The language of the gods in the world of men. Sanskrit, culture, and power in premodern India, Berkeley [etc.]: University of California Press, 2006).

 

Our purpose in this preface will be to revive the interest for the study of the meykkirtti genre.

We will take an approach that considers the meykkirttis as integral parts of the inscriptions and as a political literary genre with antecedents. Following the path opened up by Dr G. Vijayavenugopal with his "note on the importance of meykkirttis" (see infra, p. cxlvi-cxlviii), we will focus on the mcykkirttis of the Colas, and especially those of Rajaraja 1, Rajendra I, and Kulottunga I, which are very numerous 10 our corpus.

 

But before turning our attention to the meykkitttis of the Pondicherry corpus, a range of issues has to be addressed, beginning with the definition of this genre. Our starting point will be the definition given by the Tamil Lexicon. We will then look at the evidence from grammatical works and from epigraphy. Then we will propose our own definition, as a basis for our examination of the corpus.

 

Introduction - The Corpus

 

1. History of the Corpus

The process of copying the inscriptions found in the Union Territory of Pondicherry was initiated by the Archaeological Survey of India with a few inscriptions found in Pakur, Tiruvantarkoyil, Tirupuvanai, Villiyanur, Tirunallaru and Kil-k-kacakkuti published in Volume VII of South Indian Inscriptions. The Archaeological Survey of India had also prepared several estarnpages, which remain unpublished. When our French institution started its own compilation of inscriptions found in the Union Territory, it was noticed that ever al inscriptions copied by the Archaeological Survey of India were not found on site. Renovations and poor maintenance may be the reasons for this unfortunate situation. However, copies of these inscriptions have been provided by the Archaeological Survey of India and those texts are published here with due acknowledgments. It was also noticed that the Survey had not taken estam pages of all the inscriptions found in each place. A few were taken and a few were left. Even in the inscriptions taken, some portions were left out. For example, among the two inscriptions found in Kil-k-kacakkuti only one half of an inscription is copied and published. In some, readings were wrong; sometimes the lines were misplaced. Even the notes published ere inadequate. As an example, PI 103 in this volume may be cited. The notes on this did not mention several old place names or old temples that existed once in this area. Perhaps the plan was to leave these to micro level studies. However, credit goes to the Archaeological Survey of India for their pioneering attempts 10 retrieve these old inscriptions. Apart from stone inscriptions, copper plates were also discovered at Kacakkuti and Pakur [SDI], (Parts III, IV and V) pp. 342-361; El XVIII , pp. 5-15 respectively].

 

The Corpus: as far as possible all the inscriptions found in the Union Territory of Pondicherry have now been copied, estampages have been taken and the texts are published here for the first time. Even inscriptions found in bronzes, sculptures and conch shells have been included. With the exception of four Sanskrit inscriptions in grantha script, two inscriptions in Kannada, two in French and one in Latin and another in English, they are in Tamil script. In several inscriptions, Grantha script was also occasionally used here and there in certain words. Apart from one "Tamil-Brahmi" inscription discovered at Arikkamedu, near Pondicherry, inscriptions datable before the 9th century A.D. are not found in this area.

 

Palaeography the inscriptions belonging to the Cola period were cut evenly and inscribed in Tamil in an even manner, i. e. the lines run straight and do not meander; the letters are medium in size and elegant. The inscriptions belonging to the Pantiya period were inscribed in slightly larger characters and they sometimes overlap with those of other lines; the letters are also disproportionate among themselves. The inscriptions of the Vijayanagara period are inscribed in an even larger size; one can easily notice the slow decline in the aesthetic appearance of the letters.

 

The inscriptions found on the walls neither mark the dots over letters, nor is the length of the vowels differentiated (such as i, i, u, u; e, e and o, o). Only a and a are distinguished. These are published as they have been found; similarly, compound letters are printed as such. These will help scholars who are interested in tracing the history of Tamil scripts.

 

There are no punctuation marks such as commas, semicolons, full stops, etc. Sentences are inscribed continuously, depending on the space available on the wall. Sometimes the lines go around the basement portions of the temple. Competent knowledge in Tamil alone will help one to decide the contours of the sentences and phrases.

 

In some inscriptions, certain letters were not inscribed in linear order, but one above the other.

This may be due to the practice followed in writing grantha script.

 

There are certain symbols used in the inscriptions to denote specific concepts, measurements, etc. Sometimes they are used as symbols for abbreviations. These are listed in a chart at the end of this introduction.

 

Presentation of the Corps: the villages where inscriptions are located are not presented in alphabetical order. Pondicherry and Karaikkal have been treated as separate regions. The village which has the earliest inscription has been given first and inscriptions have been presented chronologically within each village. Inscriptions that clearly give the kings' names and their regnal years come first; then follow inscriptions which do not have this information, and finally inscriptions that are in fragments. Separate numbers have been assigned to each fragment. Even fragments with a single word have been carefully compiled. Several new inscriptions were copied and the texts are recorded here for the first time. Inscriptions where stones were misplaced have been carefully analysed and cogent texts are given. Several appendices have been added to this volume for the use of readers.

 

Each inscription is first given a serial number. This is followed by a description detailing the inscription's precise location, the name of the king and his regnal year, and the year in A.D. While giving the regnal year, L. D. Swamikkannu Pillai's Indian Ephemeris has been followed. If there are different calculations, then the sources are given, and we acknowledge once more the contribution of the late Mr. N. Sethuraman of Kumbakonam for checking these dates.

 

In case an inscription has already been copied and published, the references are given. A short summary stressing the important data of the inscription is also added.

 

When a letter is found damaged (on the stone) it is provided in the text in square brackets. For example, in vi[i]akku the [i] should be taken as the damaged letter in the inscription. If a letter is missing (through oversight) it is shown within square brackets with an 'asterisk': vila[k*]ku. Supernumerary letters are marked within standard brackets, i.e. (x). While reading the inscriptions, this should be left out;" vi(la)lakkur here (la) is super numerous.

 

Dots in the middle of inscriptions show that a few letters were damaged and could not be re-ad or reconstructed. If dots are given in the beginning or at the end of the line, they denote that the lines are disrupted and portions were missing.

 

Temples and Inscriptions: when the survey was made, the inscriptions found on the walls of the Siva temple at Pakur were mostly intact. This means that the basic structure of the temple has not been altered. However, several fragments of inscriptions are found in other constructions such as the Amman temple, a temple of the goddess, and the mahamandapa, (a big hall); so they were evidently made with stone slabs from other dilapidated temples in the area. Similarly, the Pancanatisvara temple at Tiruvantarkoil also stands without any alteration. Some inscriptions are worn out and less legible in places, yet full sentences can still be made out. In other shrines around the temple, as well as in the Amman temple, fragments of inscriptions assignable to the Cola period were found. Thus it is clear that the debris from one or two ruined temples had been subsequently utilised.

 

The Varadaraja temple at Tirupuvanai looks as if it is architecturally unchanged. However, when the inscriptions were copied, it became apparent that it had changed considerably. Stones have been replaced, resulting in the dislocation of inscriptions. The Archaeological Survey of India mentioned this discrepancy at the time of copying the inscriptions. After their survey, the temple was renovated again, which resulted in further damage. That is why some of the areas, such as the walls of the mahamandapa and the circumambulatory passage, are not found today. Stones were removed and placed in different positions during repair work after 1919. Hence, a high number of fragmentary inscriptions are found in this temple complex. Fortunately, during the renovation of the walls, stones containing inscriptions were not dislodged and we are still able to read them continuously. Some stones found on the base of the adh14hiina. "basement of the temple", were displaced, making it difficult to assemble these inscriptions and give a continuous readable text.

 

The Siva temple at Matakatippattu was seriously damaged and was renovated during the period of French rule. Mr. P. Z. Pattabhiraman initiated efforts to renovate this temple. Before this renovation commenced, several stone slabs belonging to the temple had been pillaged and they had become private property. The renovation was done with the remaining stones without much damage to the original pattern. Under the supervision and guidance of Monsieur Henri Marchal, Honourary Chief of the Archaeological Service of the Ecole francaise d'Extrerne-Orient and Conservator of the monuments of Angkor in Cambodia, the Matakatippattu temple was rebuilt with the utmost care. It should be pointed out that this magnificent temple was originally constructed under the patronage of th great Cola king Rajaraja I who built the great temple at Tanjavur.

 

The Siva temple at Pantacolanur has also been refurbished. An inscription of the Cola king Kulottunka I is found scattered in several fragments and inserted in different places. On the temple walls, one can also see some other fragmentary inscriptions.

 

The stones containing inscriptions that were copied by the Archaeological Survey of India are no longer found at the Gangaivaresvara temple at Tirukkanci.

 

As far as Tirukkamisvara temple at Villiyanur is concerned, it seems that renovation work was done here in the middle of the 12, century A.D. Inscriptions belonging to Kulottunka I have been found in fragments lying in different places. This complex has lost its original charm. Parts of the temple appear to have been repaired and restored in subsequent times - for example, the Nataraja temple and the Subrahmanya temple found in the first prakara "circumambulatory passage".

 

One can clearly see the difference between the stones used in the Karaikkal region and those in the Pondicherry region. The stones used in the Pondicherry region are highly durable, while those found in the Karaikkal region are not. In the temples of Tirunallaru, Nallampal and Tirumalai- rayanpattinam, the stones are extremely worn and weathered. The frequent coating of the stones with lime may be partly responsible for this damage.

 

The Ekamparesvara temple at Settur was renovated during the period of French rule. Again, Mr. P. Z. Pattabhiraman initiated the renovation effort, and the renovations altered the original pattern of the temple very little.

 

The Jatayupurlsvara temple at Tirumalairayanpattinam is also a much renovated temple. Disconnected fragmentary inscriptions found in this temple are proof of this. But it has not been possible to trace the old name of this place in any of the fragments, which is very disappointing. The Archaeological Survey of India has copied only a few inscriptions from Tirunallaru, Netunkatu and Kil-k-kacakkuti. Inscriptions discovered in the remaining places in Karaikkal region have not been copied at all.

 

2. Distribution of Inscriptions

 

In total, 535 inscriptions have been copied, edited and translated here. They were mainly found in the walls of Saiva and Vaisnava temples in the Pondicherry Union Territory. The highest number of inscriptions, i.e. 188 inscriptions, was copied from the temple at Tirupuvanai, followed by Matakatippattu with 83. Tirunallaru in the Karaikkal region comes third with 51 inscription- and then Villiyanur with 50 inscriptions, closely followed by Tiruvantarkoyil with 42 inscriptions. Tirupuvanai, Matakatippattu and Tiruvantarkoyil in fact belonged to a single town complex, wherein the Visnu temple is described as being in the middle of the town, netuvil sri-koyji, "the sacred temple ill the centre (of our village)" (PI92). Now these are three separate villages, and their three temple- all' under the protection of the Archaeological Survey of India, New Delhi, as national monuments. The temples at Tirupuvanai and Tiruvantarkoyil are still used for worship today, but the temple at Matakatippattu has fallen into disuse. The ancient Siva temple at Pakur contains 45 inscriptions. In Pondicherry town, 30 inscriptions were copied, several of which are fragmentary. There are 'five Sanskrit inscriptions, one Kannada inscription, one Telugu inscription, two French inscriptions, one Latin inscription and one English inscription, making the collection a somewhat international one.

 

Besides these, a few fragmentary inscriptions were copied during the verification with the originals on the temple walls. These were included using additional letters A, B, etc. after the serial numbers in the respective villages, since the texts of the inscriptions along with the serial numbers were already computerised. It should be mentioned that 244 inscriptions are in fragments, which amount to almost 50% of the total.

 

 

Pondicherry Inscriptions (Set of 2 Parts)

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Part I

 

About the Book

 

The inscriptions gathered together in this volume for the first time come from the Union Territory of Pondicherry and span a broad period from the 10th to the 19th century. The total number assembled is 545; only inscriptions on tombstones have been consciously excluded. The epigraphs belong to various dynasties, such as those of the Rastrakutas, Colas, later Pallavas, Pantiyas, the Vijayanagara kings and the Sambhuvarayas, The vast majority of them are written in Tamil language, but Sanskrit, Telugu and Kannada, as well as Latin and French, are also to be found.

 

The text of each inscription is preceded by a short summary of its content and a note of information pertaining to prior publications, along with details of its location, date (in Indian and in Christian calculations), dynasty and the name of the king in whose reign it was inscribed. An elaborate preface in English and an introduction in Tamil map the historical context to which these inscriptions belong and show how these sources may be used in reconstructing the cultural history of a particular region within the Tamil-speaking South of India.

 

Preface

 

It is always a matter for celebration when a body of inscriptional material, the product of the meticulous labour of epigraphists, becomes available to a wider public through a publication such as this one. It has been estimated that at least 25,000 inscriptions have been discovered in the region of South India today known as Tamilnadu, including the Union Territory of Pondicherry, of which fewer than one-third have been published. 1 Truly we have an embarrassment of riches, which far exceeds the expectations of those who first began to collect this material. The special subcommittee set up by the colonial government in 1887 to enquire into the future work of the recently-founded Archaeological Survey of India heard the testimony of Pandit Natesa Sastri, who urged that unless the epigraphical establishment (constituted in its entirety at that time by E. Hultzsch and his assistant V. Venkayya) took on more personnel "it would take a hundred years to complete the task of collecting, deciphering, and translating all the South Indian inscriptions."? More than a hundred years have now passed, and the work of countless epigraphists in collecting and deciphering these inscriptions continues unabated, with no apparent end in sight; the hope that they might all be translated has long since been abandoned, and one instead anticipates their publication. Far too any of these precious records - of value for their material, historical, and literary significance -remain inaccessible.'

 

The present volume constitutes an especially important contribution as it provides us with the texts of inscriptions systematically collected from a series of specific locales, clustered in the Pondicherry and Karaikkal areas, and combines this in-depth geographical focus with a chronological breadth spanning a millennium, from the mid-tenth to the early twentieth century." Virtually all of the 544 inscriptions in this volume were composed in the Tamil language, and almost all of them were engraved in stone on the walls of temples as records of donations that were made to the temple. Most of them belong to the period of the tenth to the early fourteenth century, during the time when the kings first of the Rastrakuta and then - especially - of the Chola dynasty were politically dominant in this region, followed by several chiefs who seized power, like the upstart "Pallava" Kopperuncinkan, and by the later Pandyas. This period of the tenth to early fourteenth centuries was one during which stone inscriptions were produced in enormous numbers throughout the Tamil region, while during the time of the rulers of Vijayanagara, who exercised sovereignty over this territory from the fourteenth through sixteenth centuries - as witnessed by several inscriptions in the present collection - there was a dramatic drop in the number of inscriptions engraved in stone, except at a few particular temples which enjoyed royal patronage, none of which are located in the territory of Pondicherry. In this preface I propose to offer an introduction to the Tamil inscriptions in general - what they are, how and why they were produced, and how they have been and may be read - using the "Pondicherry inscriptions" which you have at hand as a means of illustrating the special characteristics of these documents and the possibilities that they embody.'

 

Although we generally treat inscriptions as texts - and this volume presents them in just such a fashion - it essential that we acknowledge that they are also objects, whose appearance, location, mode of production, and material condition are a fundamental aspect of their being. In discussing the relationship between archaeological research and historical studies based on literary texts, T. Trautmann and C. Sinopoli characterize inscriptions as "amphibious sources," which seem to belong to both realms, and, indeed, problematize the distinction between the two." In some cases, the "thingness" of an inscription would seem impossible to overlook - the famous edicts of the emperor Ashoka engraved on pillars weighing over fifty tons, moved with enormous effort from distant quarries and beautifully polished and carved; the Tiruvalangadu copper-plates of the Chola king Rajendra I, with their inscription, comprising thirty-one sheets of copper engraved on both sides and bound together with a huge ring, the whole weighing nearly two hundred pounds; the inscriptions recording the endowments of Rajaraja I and members of the royal family to the Tanjavur temple, whose elegant calligraphy seems to be a part of the sculptural program of the temple - yet all too often these objects are treated purely as words.' In these examples, the inscription as words was created simultaneously with its stone or metal embodiment, but even where the stone wall of the temple as the medium of communication was already in existence - as is the case in virtually all of our Pondicherry inscriptions - the sponsor of the inscription would have had many choices that would affect its physical character and its impact. There was first of all the very decision, and the opportunity, to have a gift to the temple or a transfer of property recorded in this fashion: to have something "written in stone" carried the same sense in medieval Tamilnadu as does in contemporary English usage, connoting a solemn and permanent agreement, and one that would be further confirmed by the authority of the deity in whose presence and on whose premises this charter was inscribed. Then there was the matter of the placement of the inscription (where on the wall? which wall?), of the amount of space the inscription would take up, and of the selection of an artisan more or less skilled in engraving. These were matters of concern to those who produced the inscriptions, and we who read the inscriptions many centuries later ignore them at our peril."

 

Although we have long appreciated the "locatability" of inscriptions in terms of geography - being able to fix provenance by "find spot" in a way that is very rarely possible in the case of literary texts - we are less receptive to other aspects of the inscriptions' physical character. Those who are engaged in the work of epigraphy are, of course, intimately in touch with this dimension of the inscriptions. In the field, they are confronted with archaic engraved characters which may be worn away, chipped off, or filled in with whitewash, stones that have been damaged, removed, or recycled in new building projects, and inscriptions that may be very difficult of access because of their placement in a temple where worship is conducted and where renovation is continuous. The epigraphist makes estampages directly from the inscriptions, dusting the stone with black powder and pressing damp paper into it, after having in some cases to overcome certain priestly objections to this procedure." It is ironic, perhaps, that the epigraphists' work following this labour of "collection," resulting in an edited transcript of a text rendered in a modem South Indian script, shields us so thoroughly from the physical being of the inscriptions. On the printed page the "look" and "feel" of the inscription is almost completely effaced - the script is different, white paper substitutes for the texture and colour of the stone, and the breakages or later architectural elements that interrupt the text are replaced by a series of dots. All that remains on the page to remind us of what the inscription actually is (or was - in the case of those inscriptions collected in decades past which are no longer to be found) are the indications of the length of the lines of writing, allowing us to see in our mind's eye a series of short lines (e.g. #22 from Pakar, or #370 from Kariyamanikkam) engraved down the side of a pillar, or to consider how a text was adapted to a space defined by the temple's architecture (as in #388 from Villiyanur), or to imagine an inscription with very long lines (e.g. #102, 103, and 158 from Tirupuvanai) literally wrapped around the walls of the central shrine of the temple.

 

This last arrangement of the epigraph as an engraving serves as a striking reminder of the difference between our apprehension of the inscription as something to be read, and the experience of those who viewed it (and continue to view it) in situ - who would not only have come across it as part of a religious edifice, but would have done so while making a clockwise circumambulation of this edifice, and would thus be encountering the left-to-right writing from the wrong direction." Even if such a viewer were literate, and conversant with pte poetic or legalistic vocabulary employed in the inscriptions, even if he or she were familiar with the script employed - which, for words or passages in Sanskrit, would include ornate Grantha characters - and even if he or she were inclined to attempt to decipher the inscription, this counter-sense placement (and the necessity of shuttling back and forth from the end of one line to the beginning of the next) would create a considerable obstacle to the comprehension of the inscription's contents. Many inscriptions are engraved along the basement stones of temple structures and one must crouch down to see them properly. In other cases, stone inscriptions are located at such heights or in such obscurity that they are scarcely visible to the visitor unequipped with ladder or flashlight. Clearly, the inscriptions were designed to function as something more and something other than purely as texts, and the vast majority of people coming into contact with them - and even many of those involved in their production" - would have perceived them in this light.

 

Part II

 

About the Book

 

In this volume Dr. G. Vijayavenugopal provides a complete English translation of the inscriptions of the territory of Pondicherry and Karaikkal, which were edited in Part I. Such a volume of translations of Tamil inscriptions is something of a landmark: the last volume of South Indian Inscriptions to provide complete translations appeared in 1920-29, and one of the last instances of a regional South Indian corpus being published in this manner was that of The Inscriptions in the Pudukkottai State, the last volume of which appeared in 1946.

 

A substantial Preface by Emmanuel Francis and Charlotte Schmid explores the form and changing role of the meykkirtti, the royal eulogy in Tamil that prefaces and dates many inscriptions of the Cola period. As they demonstrate, this genre of royal eulogy is in every way different from the Sanskrit prasasti.

 

Dr. Vijayavenugopal follows this with a general introduction, a chapter on language and linguistics that deals with the phonological variations and gives a detailed description of the sentence-patterns found in the corpus, and a chapter that considers the importance of the inscriptions as historical source material. Then come the translations. Neither smooth nor entirely literal, they represent an attempt to render the nuances of the Tamil syntax of a very particular sort of document. English translations of some of the meykkirttis are given here for the first time.

 

Finally, an array of appendices has been supplied to open the corpus up to various potential users: several indices, a glossary, a list of formulaic phrases, and two appendices presenting the distribution of the inscriptions, one ordered by ruling kings and the other by the places in which the inscriptions are to be found.

 

Preface

 

The publication of Part One of the Pondicherry inscriptions was the first outcome of a project started in 1983 by Bahour S. Kuppusamy and joined by Dr G. Vijayavenugopal in 1997. In her preface to that volume (Pondicheay inscriptions. Complied by Bebour S. Kuppussmy. Edited by G. Vijaya venugopal. Part I Introduction and texts with notes, Collection Indologie 83.1, EFEO & IFP: Pondicherry, 2006, p. 1) Leslie C. Orr described it as "a matter for celebration". It is true that editions of epigraphic corpora are nowadays rare.

 

With the present volume, the second part of the Pondicherry inscriptions, Dr G. Vijayavenugopal offers us something even more exceptional, with the complete translation of the 544 inscriptions edited in the first volume? This volume will thus grant access to these important sources for non-specialists of the Tamil language. In addition to these translations, the reader will find an introduction and two chapters, one devoted to the linguistic aspects of the corpus (p. Iv ff.) and another concerned with the historical information it reveals (p. cv ff.), The volume is complemented with ten useful indices (p. 239 ff.), and two appendices (p. 361 ff.).

 

The rather narrow geographical basis of the Pondicherry corpus, covering 450 out of the almost 500 square km. of the Pondicherry Union territory is one of its peculiarities.' It thus enables one to make a regional study even though the Karaikkal area is somewhat disconnected from Pondicherry itself.

 

Since Dr G. Vijayavenugopal has highlighted the historical information in the second chapter in this volume (p. cv ff.), and since Leslie C. Orr has written a general and insightful preface on epigraphy for the first volume of the Pondicherry inscriptions, we will focus in this preface on the royal eulogies, the meykkirttis, in order to illustrate the kinds of opportunities represented by such a corpus. Many meykkirttis are found on the temples of the Pondicherry area, especially in sites such as Pakur (also Bahur and Vakur), Tirupuvanai, Tiruvantarkoyil and Matakatippattu. Examples found in the Karaikkal area, in particular at Tirunallaru, further south, will serve here as a point of comparison.

 

The tem1 meykkirtti, used in historiography to designate the Tamil eulogies found sometimes at the beginning of inscriptions and followed by the so-called "business part," is in itself problematic." The array of meanings of mey indicates that there may be a claim to reality, even to materiality. Meykkirtti is generally translated as "true fame". According to Dr G. Vijayavenugopal, the term might have been coined to contrast with prssasti (i.e. the eulogy written in Sanskrit), which often displays mythological content, and imaginary, fantasised, or literary embellishments. It is true that meykkritis usually contain more reference to "real" events and actual deeds of kings, but one may ask whether mythology was also not considered to be real in Indian culture. Moreover, as noted by Dr G. Vijayavenugopal, in meykkittti: from later Cola kings who were not great victorious warriors, more space is devoted to literary and poetical devices so as to eulogise a reign with few conquests or other such deeds," while at the same time formulae or even entire lines from meykkirttis of earlier kings are· integrated in a kind of patchwork." It is also possible, as suggested to us by Eva Wilden, that ll1eykkJJttiliterally means "fame [in the form of] a body", in reference to the belief that after death kings leave their fame as a body (mey) remaining on earth, even as their life (uyir) is extinguished.' However, the kings praised in meykkirtti: are living and reigning kings. It is also conceivable that the term meykkutti as "true fame" responds to the criticism that eulogy is hyperbolic and exaggerating, or that it implies that fame really exists only if it is encapsulated in a literary text.

 

Meykkirttis have been used as historical documents by renowned historians such as K. A. Nilakanta Sastri who, although he considered that they deserve sometimes to be named poykkutti ("false fame"), based nevertheless his magnum opus on the Colas on this type of source (The C6/;/s, 1935-193i, 19552, Madras: University of Madras)." Other scholars (Burton Stein, James Heitzrnan, Noboru Karashima, Y. Subbarayalu for instance) have focussed on the business part of inscriptions that the meykkirttis precede. This approach to inscriptions is certainly legitimate, but it has entailed a lack of study of the meykkirtm, which have become separated off as a different field of research. Many meykkirttis have been translated by Eugen Hultzsch and others in the early volumes of S11, but since then, and notwithstanding some valuable exceptions," their texts have not attracted much scholarly attention. Very often entries in the Areare satisfied with the sole mention of the first line of a meykkittti without further enquiry on possible variants. As a result, many well-known meykkitttis are not yet translated'" and more recently discovered or longer versions are unknown to the scholarly community. J J Another reason to revive the study of meykkitttis, is that they are integral to the study of the political discourse from the point of view of languages, a field of investigation opened up by the recent work of Sheldon Pollock (The language of the gods in the world of men. Sanskrit, culture, and power in premodern India, Berkeley [etc.]: University of California Press, 2006).

 

Our purpose in this preface will be to revive the interest for the study of the meykkirtti genre.

We will take an approach that considers the meykkirttis as integral parts of the inscriptions and as a political literary genre with antecedents. Following the path opened up by Dr G. Vijayavenugopal with his "note on the importance of meykkirttis" (see infra, p. cxlvi-cxlviii), we will focus on the mcykkirttis of the Colas, and especially those of Rajaraja 1, Rajendra I, and Kulottunga I, which are very numerous 10 our corpus.

 

But before turning our attention to the meykkitttis of the Pondicherry corpus, a range of issues has to be addressed, beginning with the definition of this genre. Our starting point will be the definition given by the Tamil Lexicon. We will then look at the evidence from grammatical works and from epigraphy. Then we will propose our own definition, as a basis for our examination of the corpus.

 

Introduction - The Corpus

 

1. History of the Corpus

The process of copying the inscriptions found in the Union Territory of Pondicherry was initiated by the Archaeological Survey of India with a few inscriptions found in Pakur, Tiruvantarkoyil, Tirupuvanai, Villiyanur, Tirunallaru and Kil-k-kacakkuti published in Volume VII of South Indian Inscriptions. The Archaeological Survey of India had also prepared several estarnpages, which remain unpublished. When our French institution started its own compilation of inscriptions found in the Union Territory, it was noticed that ever al inscriptions copied by the Archaeological Survey of India were not found on site. Renovations and poor maintenance may be the reasons for this unfortunate situation. However, copies of these inscriptions have been provided by the Archaeological Survey of India and those texts are published here with due acknowledgments. It was also noticed that the Survey had not taken estam pages of all the inscriptions found in each place. A few were taken and a few were left. Even in the inscriptions taken, some portions were left out. For example, among the two inscriptions found in Kil-k-kacakkuti only one half of an inscription is copied and published. In some, readings were wrong; sometimes the lines were misplaced. Even the notes published ere inadequate. As an example, PI 103 in this volume may be cited. The notes on this did not mention several old place names or old temples that existed once in this area. Perhaps the plan was to leave these to micro level studies. However, credit goes to the Archaeological Survey of India for their pioneering attempts 10 retrieve these old inscriptions. Apart from stone inscriptions, copper plates were also discovered at Kacakkuti and Pakur [SDI], (Parts III, IV and V) pp. 342-361; El XVIII , pp. 5-15 respectively].

 

The Corpus: as far as possible all the inscriptions found in the Union Territory of Pondicherry have now been copied, estampages have been taken and the texts are published here for the first time. Even inscriptions found in bronzes, sculptures and conch shells have been included. With the exception of four Sanskrit inscriptions in grantha script, two inscriptions in Kannada, two in French and one in Latin and another in English, they are in Tamil script. In several inscriptions, Grantha script was also occasionally used here and there in certain words. Apart from one "Tamil-Brahmi" inscription discovered at Arikkamedu, near Pondicherry, inscriptions datable before the 9th century A.D. are not found in this area.

 

Palaeography the inscriptions belonging to the Cola period were cut evenly and inscribed in Tamil in an even manner, i. e. the lines run straight and do not meander; the letters are medium in size and elegant. The inscriptions belonging to the Pantiya period were inscribed in slightly larger characters and they sometimes overlap with those of other lines; the letters are also disproportionate among themselves. The inscriptions of the Vijayanagara period are inscribed in an even larger size; one can easily notice the slow decline in the aesthetic appearance of the letters.

 

The inscriptions found on the walls neither mark the dots over letters, nor is the length of the vowels differentiated (such as i, i, u, u; e, e and o, o). Only a and a are distinguished. These are published as they have been found; similarly, compound letters are printed as such. These will help scholars who are interested in tracing the history of Tamil scripts.

 

There are no punctuation marks such as commas, semicolons, full stops, etc. Sentences are inscribed continuously, depending on the space available on the wall. Sometimes the lines go around the basement portions of the temple. Competent knowledge in Tamil alone will help one to decide the contours of the sentences and phrases.

 

In some inscriptions, certain letters were not inscribed in linear order, but one above the other.

This may be due to the practice followed in writing grantha script.

 

There are certain symbols used in the inscriptions to denote specific concepts, measurements, etc. Sometimes they are used as symbols for abbreviations. These are listed in a chart at the end of this introduction.

 

Presentation of the Corps: the villages where inscriptions are located are not presented in alphabetical order. Pondicherry and Karaikkal have been treated as separate regions. The village which has the earliest inscription has been given first and inscriptions have been presented chronologically within each village. Inscriptions that clearly give the kings' names and their regnal years come first; then follow inscriptions which do not have this information, and finally inscriptions that are in fragments. Separate numbers have been assigned to each fragment. Even fragments with a single word have been carefully compiled. Several new inscriptions were copied and the texts are recorded here for the first time. Inscriptions where stones were misplaced have been carefully analysed and cogent texts are given. Several appendices have been added to this volume for the use of readers.

 

Each inscription is first given a serial number. This is followed by a description detailing the inscription's precise location, the name of the king and his regnal year, and the year in A.D. While giving the regnal year, L. D. Swamikkannu Pillai's Indian Ephemeris has been followed. If there are different calculations, then the sources are given, and we acknowledge once more the contribution of the late Mr. N. Sethuraman of Kumbakonam for checking these dates.

 

In case an inscription has already been copied and published, the references are given. A short summary stressing the important data of the inscription is also added.

 

When a letter is found damaged (on the stone) it is provided in the text in square brackets. For example, in vi[i]akku the [i] should be taken as the damaged letter in the inscription. If a letter is missing (through oversight) it is shown within square brackets with an 'asterisk': vila[k*]ku. Supernumerary letters are marked within standard brackets, i.e. (x). While reading the inscriptions, this should be left out;" vi(la)lakkur here (la) is super numerous.

 

Dots in the middle of inscriptions show that a few letters were damaged and could not be re-ad or reconstructed. If dots are given in the beginning or at the end of the line, they denote that the lines are disrupted and portions were missing.

 

Temples and Inscriptions: when the survey was made, the inscriptions found on the walls of the Siva temple at Pakur were mostly intact. This means that the basic structure of the temple has not been altered. However, several fragments of inscriptions are found in other constructions such as the Amman temple, a temple of the goddess, and the mahamandapa, (a big hall); so they were evidently made with stone slabs from other dilapidated temples in the area. Similarly, the Pancanatisvara temple at Tiruvantarkoil also stands without any alteration. Some inscriptions are worn out and less legible in places, yet full sentences can still be made out. In other shrines around the temple, as well as in the Amman temple, fragments of inscriptions assignable to the Cola period were found. Thus it is clear that the debris from one or two ruined temples had been subsequently utilised.

 

The Varadaraja temple at Tirupuvanai looks as if it is architecturally unchanged. However, when the inscriptions were copied, it became apparent that it had changed considerably. Stones have been replaced, resulting in the dislocation of inscriptions. The Archaeological Survey of India mentioned this discrepancy at the time of copying the inscriptions. After their survey, the temple was renovated again, which resulted in further damage. That is why some of the areas, such as the walls of the mahamandapa and the circumambulatory passage, are not found today. Stones were removed and placed in different positions during repair work after 1919. Hence, a high number of fragmentary inscriptions are found in this temple complex. Fortunately, during the renovation of the walls, stones containing inscriptions were not dislodged and we are still able to read them continuously. Some stones found on the base of the adh14hiina. "basement of the temple", were displaced, making it difficult to assemble these inscriptions and give a continuous readable text.

 

The Siva temple at Matakatippattu was seriously damaged and was renovated during the period of French rule. Mr. P. Z. Pattabhiraman initiated efforts to renovate this temple. Before this renovation commenced, several stone slabs belonging to the temple had been pillaged and they had become private property. The renovation was done with the remaining stones without much damage to the original pattern. Under the supervision and guidance of Monsieur Henri Marchal, Honourary Chief of the Archaeological Service of the Ecole francaise d'Extrerne-Orient and Conservator of the monuments of Angkor in Cambodia, the Matakatippattu temple was rebuilt with the utmost care. It should be pointed out that this magnificent temple was originally constructed under the patronage of th great Cola king Rajaraja I who built the great temple at Tanjavur.

 

The Siva temple at Pantacolanur has also been refurbished. An inscription of the Cola king Kulottunka I is found scattered in several fragments and inserted in different places. On the temple walls, one can also see some other fragmentary inscriptions.

 

The stones containing inscriptions that were copied by the Archaeological Survey of India are no longer found at the Gangaivaresvara temple at Tirukkanci.

 

As far as Tirukkamisvara temple at Villiyanur is concerned, it seems that renovation work was done here in the middle of the 12, century A.D. Inscriptions belonging to Kulottunka I have been found in fragments lying in different places. This complex has lost its original charm. Parts of the temple appear to have been repaired and restored in subsequent times - for example, the Nataraja temple and the Subrahmanya temple found in the first prakara "circumambulatory passage".

 

One can clearly see the difference between the stones used in the Karaikkal region and those in the Pondicherry region. The stones used in the Pondicherry region are highly durable, while those found in the Karaikkal region are not. In the temples of Tirunallaru, Nallampal and Tirumalai- rayanpattinam, the stones are extremely worn and weathered. The frequent coating of the stones with lime may be partly responsible for this damage.

 

The Ekamparesvara temple at Settur was renovated during the period of French rule. Again, Mr. P. Z. Pattabhiraman initiated the renovation effort, and the renovations altered the original pattern of the temple very little.

 

The Jatayupurlsvara temple at Tirumalairayanpattinam is also a much renovated temple. Disconnected fragmentary inscriptions found in this temple are proof of this. But it has not been possible to trace the old name of this place in any of the fragments, which is very disappointing. The Archaeological Survey of India has copied only a few inscriptions from Tirunallaru, Netunkatu and Kil-k-kacakkuti. Inscriptions discovered in the remaining places in Karaikkal region have not been copied at all.

 

2. Distribution of Inscriptions

 

In total, 535 inscriptions have been copied, edited and translated here. They were mainly found in the walls of Saiva and Vaisnava temples in the Pondicherry Union Territory. The highest number of inscriptions, i.e. 188 inscriptions, was copied from the temple at Tirupuvanai, followed by Matakatippattu with 83. Tirunallaru in the Karaikkal region comes third with 51 inscription- and then Villiyanur with 50 inscriptions, closely followed by Tiruvantarkoyil with 42 inscriptions. Tirupuvanai, Matakatippattu and Tiruvantarkoyil in fact belonged to a single town complex, wherein the Visnu temple is described as being in the middle of the town, netuvil sri-koyji, "the sacred temple ill the centre (of our village)" (PI92). Now these are three separate villages, and their three temple- all' under the protection of the Archaeological Survey of India, New Delhi, as national monuments. The temples at Tirupuvanai and Tiruvantarkoyil are still used for worship today, but the temple at Matakatippattu has fallen into disuse. The ancient Siva temple at Pakur contains 45 inscriptions. In Pondicherry town, 30 inscriptions were copied, several of which are fragmentary. There are 'five Sanskrit inscriptions, one Kannada inscription, one Telugu inscription, two French inscriptions, one Latin inscription and one English inscription, making the collection a somewhat international one.

 

Besides these, a few fragmentary inscriptions were copied during the verification with the originals on the temple walls. These were included using additional letters A, B, etc. after the serial numbers in the respective villages, since the texts of the inscriptions along with the serial numbers were already computerised. It should be mentioned that 244 inscriptions are in fragments, which amount to almost 50% of the total.

 

 

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