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Re: [Ind-Arch] On Netuncezhiyan I and II

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  • ravilochanan iyengar
    Good play with the words with regard to Netuncezhiyan. So, Francesco considers the colophons somewhat unreliable (which could be the reason why he claimed that
    Message 1 of 88 , May 26, 2013
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      Good play with the words with regard to Netuncezhiyan. So, Francesco considers the colophons somewhat unreliable (which could be the reason why he claimed that Ariyappatai katanta Netuncezhiyan is not mentioned in the Sangam works). If he wants to avoid using colophons (calling them later additions), then he would have a great problem. One cannot have a cake and eat it too. In case of Paranar, Francesco noted that Paranar has sung about both Karikala and his father. Now, the father of Karikala was Uruvappa(k)rer Ilamcetcenni. In Purananuru, one song of Paranar is taken to refer to this king. But the song does not mention the king's name. The attribution is made on the basis of the colophon.

      To place Karikala as a later contemporary of Cenkuttuvan is not correct. Gajabahu synchronism is entirely based on Cilappatikaram. Though the work is considered as belonging to 5th century CE, it is believed that the tradition recorded is mostly correct. If we accept this Gajabahu synchronism based on Cilappatikaram, then we would have to accept that Karikala belonged to a period anterior to Cenkuttuvan. Cilappatikaram mentions the story of Attanatti and Atimanti as a happening of the past. It is written as if it belongs to the period of Cenkuttuvan. Thus, if Gajabahu synchronism is accepted, then we have to accept that Karikala belonged to an earlier era (and was not a junior contemporary of Cenkuttuvan). 

      Paranar, Mamulanar etc refer to several historical personages. It is not required that every king mentioned by them were contemporaries of their period. Mamulanar certainly did not belong to the age of Nandas (no one claims so - he is placed in late 3rd century BCE at the earliest)!! In fact, the song about Ilamcetcenni by Paranar is taken by many as another case of past history being sung by the poet. 

      Paranar mentions one Netuncezhiyan who defeated the Cera and Cola forces at Kutal Parantalai. Kutal may refer to Madurai or any confluence of river. Many Tamil scholars take this as referring to the battle of Talaiyalanganam. After all, Talaiyalanganam was fought in the Kaveri delta region where the distributaries of Kaveri split and join in several places making many 'kutal-s'. Sangam literature knows no other Pandya king who defeated both Cera and Cola forces in a single battle. It was common to call Netuncezhiyan as Cezhiyan (even Cilappatikaram does so) just as Peruvazhuti could be called Vazhuti. Despite what Francesco may think, Cezhiyan or Vazhuti are not synonyms of Pantiya (Pandya). No king named Peruvazhuti is called Ceziya just as no Netunceziyan is called as Vazhuti. Some names are indeed common to a specific dynasty. But those names by themselves are not generic names of all kings of that dynasty. To put it in perspective, many Palakkad Iyers have a practice of naming the after his grandfather. Thus, a lineage may have several Krishnan-s. I have a friend from this community whose name is Krishnan. It is also the name of his grandfather as well as his great-great-grandfather and so on. But we cannot call his father by the name Krishnan. The issue of Killi, Vazhuti, Cezhiyan etc are similar. The claim that no one who praises Karikala has praised Netuncezhiyan of Talaiyalanganam falls flat on one's face when we consider the Netunchezhiyan praised by Paranar as the victor of Talaiyalanganam. 

      While Netunalvatai is considered by many to be about Netuncezhiyan, the work is silent about the identity of the hero. We can only know that it refers to a Pandya king as neem flower is mentioned therein. The claim that it refers to Netuncezhiyan is made by later day commentators. The other references to Netuncezhiyan by Nakkirar can be considered as referring to an ancient happening. So, once again, the issue is not settled. As I had stated in my earlier mail, the date of Netuncezhiyan is not fixed. There are some who place him in early 3rd century CE. Some others place him in 2nd century CE. Same problem occurs with respect to the date of Karikala. He is given any date between late 2nd century BCE and late 2nd century CE by various scholars. 

      The date of Sangam age kings can be established only by using three things - 1)Gajabahu synchronism 2)Peruvazhuti coins and 3) references to Yavanas beig contemporaries of said king. Based on Poseidonius' account preserved by Strabo (as well as the account of Hippalos given by Periplus), it has been accepted by many scholars that Greeks of Egypt started trading with south Indian states from late 2nd century BCE. So, we can only conclude that any king who is mentioned as having dealt with Yavanas must belong to a period of late 2nd century BCE or later. 

      If one wants to be too skeptical (Francesco does with regard to Peruvazhuti coins), then we will be left with almost no anchors except the term yavana. After all, Cilappatikaram belongs to 5th century CE. How can we even be sure that the tradition recorded by it regarding Gajabahu, Cenkuttuvan etc are correct? So, Gajabahu synchronism has to be thrown out of the window as well.

      The debate began due to my statement that most scholars now consider Sangam age to have begun ca 300 BCE (rather than 50 BCE as considered by TP Mahadevan). Francesco tried to support TPM by citing works of some scholars. I have cited some scholars who have written otherwise. We can continue this game forever without an end. After all, as pointed by me above, there are almost no strong chronological markers about ancient Sangam kings. We are basing ourselves on a few items (which can be easily wished away by skeptics) for the date of Sangam kings.

      But the recent trend among most Tamil scholars is to consider 300 BCE as the beginning of Sangam age. Nagasamy has mentioned the same in his article(though he prefers a later date himself). Of course there are a few others who want to date Sangam works to 8th century CE while another few (Dravidian chauvinists) give all sorts of bombastic dates including 10000 BCE. 
      I'll close this discussion from my end by citing a few scholars who give the date of 300 BCE as the beginning of Sangam age. Apart from Nagasamy, Upinder Singh, R Krishnamurthy etc whom I have cited before, there are many others among whom I'll cite a few below. This list is apart from those scholars of Tamil who have written in Tamil and some of whose names I have already mentioned (like P Govindan, Raghuraman, Manikkavasagam etc)

      http://tinyurl.com/pmwsz3w (Shankarlal C Bhatt)

      Champakalakshmi (in her 1987 article in Social Scientist Vol 15, No.8/9 and also her book "Trade, Ideology and Urbanization: South India 300 B.C to A.D. 1300")

      The fact is that a vast majority of serious scholars (I do not consider those who date them to 800 CE or 10000 BCE as serious) date the beginning of Sangam age to 300 BCE. Nagasamy confirms my claim. I rest my case. 


      From: Francesco Brighenti <frabrig@...>
      To: IndiaArchaeology@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Wednesday, 22 May 2013 6:12 PM
      Subject: [Ind-Arch] On Netuncezhiyan I and II


      On Netuncezhiyan (I and II) I had written, among other things:

      > > King Netuncezhiyan seems not to be mentioned in the Eight
      > > Anthologies of the Cankam period, but only in post-Cankam texts
      > > such as the Cilappatikaram, etc.

      Ravilochanan Iyengar replied:

      > This is what happens when people try to write about issues without
      > any knowledge about them. Let us look at the patently absurd last
      > statement of the above quote. Francesco claims that Netunchezhiyan
      > is not mentioned in the Eight Anthologies!!!! MaturaikkAn~ci [one
      > of the Pattuppattu texts -- FB] is dedicated to the winner of the
      > battle of Talaiyaalankaanam, the King Netunchezhiyan. Puranaanuru
      > has several songs in which this Netunchezhiyan is praised. He was
      > so popular that Aariyap patai katanta Netunchezhiyan is also the
      > author of one poem of Puranaanuru… Even if we consider the
      > Netunchezhiyan of inscriptions as some one other than the victor of
      > Talaiyaalanganam (there is a possibility for this), to claim that
      > he was never mentioned in the Eight anthologies is completely
      > absurd. It shows that people are writing about texts without even
      > reading them. Francesco seems to have simply read Mahadevan and
      > Zvelebil identifying the Aariyappataikatanta Netunchezhiyan as the
      > Pandyan king mentioned in Cilappatikaaram and arrived
      > at his own conclusion that these are later day kings (who, thus,
      > will not be mentioned in Eight Anthologies). His statement “King
      > Netuncezhiyan seems not to be mentioned in the Eight Anthologiesâ€
      > appears as if he has read the texts to some extent and is basing
      > his conclusions upon such study. But it is clear that he has never
      > even touched an introductory book about Eight Anthologies
      > (let alone read them)!!!!

      There is a short poem, Puram 183, containing a clear reference to the four varnas, which is ascribed (in the colophon) to Ariyappataikatanta Netuncezhiyan. Besides, there is a poem, Puram 72, which is attributed (in the colophon) to the other King Netuncezhiyan, the victor of the Talaiyalankanam battle. No scholar claims these two Netuncezhiyans to be one and the same Pantiyan king.

      When I wrote “King Netuncezhiyan seems not to be mentioned in the Eight Anthologies of the Cankam period, but only in post-Cankam texts such as the Cilappatikaram, etc.â€, a word slipped from my keyboard before I hit the “Send†button; indeed, I actually meant to write “King *Ariyappataikatanta* Netuncezhiyan.â€! It is clear from the above referred post of mine that I agree there were two Netuncezhiyans, called by some scholars “Netuncezhiyan I†(Ariyappataikatanta Netuncezhiyan) and “Netuncezhiyan II†(the victor at Talaiyalankanam). It is Ariyappataikatanta Netuncezhiyan, the king who ruled in Madura at the time of the story of the Cilappadikaram, who, as I meant to say in that post, is not mentioned in the Eight Anthologies of the Cankam period. True, this king is credited with the composition of Puram 183; yet, since the colophons of Cankam works are considered later than the composition of the poems themselves, I wrote -- perhaps through an over-simplification -- that Ariyappataikatanta Netuncezhiyan “seems not to be mentioned in the eight anthologiesâ€. Actually this king, though he figures as the author in the colophon of Puram 183, is never cited directly in any of the poems belonging in the Eight Anthologies.

      On the other hand, in that post I *did* refer to Netuncezhiyan (the victor at Talaiyalankanam) being mentioned in Cankam works; so all the disparaging words used by Ravilochanan to accuse me of a ‘big mistake’ are worthless. I perfectly know, and obviously also knew at the time of writing that post, that Netuncezhiyan the victor of Talaiyalankanam is praised in many Cankam poems…

      > See what P.T. Srinivasa Iyengar has to say about this king in his
      > ‘History of the Tamils’ (see pg. 443 - 450).
      > http://tinyurl.com/c723ryb
      > In pg. 444 above, Iyengar makes an observation that an
      > Akam poem mentions this king’s victory as a remembered
      > event (and not a contemporary). The poet of this song is
      > Paranar. Paranar is the poet who has sung the praise of Ceran
      > Cenkuttuvan in Patirrappattu. So the Nedunchezhiyan who won
      > the battle of Talaiyalanganam could be placed earlier to Cenkuttuvan
      > (whose date is fixed in late 2nd century CE by using Gajabahu
      > synchronism).

      Akam 116 is the poem being referred to by Srinivasa Iyengar as one “composed after Netunceliyan’s time by Paranar who treats it as a remembered event†(p. 444). It is just an *inference* by Srinivasa Iyengar that this king must be identified with Netuncezhiyan, the victor of Talaiyalankanam. As a matter of fact, the Pantiyan king sung by Paranar in Akam 116 is called just “Cezhiyan†and is said to have defeated and chased the armies of two enemy kings (a Cera and a Cola) in a battle in the neighborhood of Kutal (most likely the Old Tamil name of Madura). He is therefore praised for his victory in a battle which is *not* that of Talaiyalankanam. Moreover, the title Cezhiyan (derived from cezhu-mai ‘greatness, excellence, splendour’ by the authors of the Tamil Lexicon) was an epithet of eminence that could be applied to many Pantiyan kings, just as the Ceras had the title Perumal and the Colas, the title Valavan. Consequently, “Paranar’s Akam 116 […] may or may not refer specifically to Netuncezhiyan†(J.R. Marr, The Eight Anthologies: A Study in Early Tamil Literature [Madras: Institute of Asian Studies, 1985], 136). In other words, the identity of this king cannot be ascertained (see K.A. Nilakanta Sastri [ed.], A Comprehensive History of India, Vol. 2 [Bombay: Orient Longmans, 1957], 510).

      Paranar sings the mighty Cenkuttuvan, a contemporary of Gajabahu I of Ceylon (ca. 170-180 A.D.). He also belauds Karikala Cola and his father. Karikala must, therefore, have been a younger contemporary of Cenkuttuvan. “The tradition preserved in the Cilappatikaram that Cenkuttuvan and Karikala were contemporaries is thus confirmed by the evidence of [Paranar’s] poems†(K.A. Nilakanta Sastri [ed.], A Comprehensive History of India, Vol. 2, cit., 509-510). Zvelebil dates Paranar to ca. 130-200 A.D. This Cankam poet could not have sung king Netuncezhiyan the victor of Talaiyalankanam, who lived *after* him (at ca. 200/215 A.D. according to both Nilakanta Sastri and Zvelebil).

      > There is still debate among scholars as to whether the victor of
      > Talaiyalanganam preceded or succeeded the Netunchezhiyan
      > who was called vanquisher of Aryan armies (who is mentioned in Cilappatikaram).

      Let us clarify this chronological matter (the dates of the two Netuncezhiyans).

      1) Netuncezhiyan ‘who overcame the Aryan armies’ -- Nilakanta Sastri (The Pandyan Kingdom [London: Luzac & Co., 1929], 27-29) writes in this connection: “The king who ruled in Madura at the time of the story of the Cilappatikaram was a Netuncezhiyan distinguished by the epithet Ariyappataikatanta for reasons that cannot now be traced. [...] [He] must be ascribed to about the time of Gajabahu I of Ceylon, somewhere in the second century A.D.†As I had written in my earlier post, we know from the well-established ‘Gajabahu synchronism’ that Ariyappataikatanta Netuncezhiyan was a contemporary of the Cera king Cenkuttuvan and Gajabahu I of Sri Lanka and hence must be assigned to the 2nd century A.D. As a further confirmation of this dating, in the Cilappatikaram Ariyappataikatanta Netuncezhiyan, the then king of Madura, is said to have Yavana guards (i.e. soldiers from the Roman Empire) in his service guarding the gates of the city.

      2) Netuncezhiyan ‘the victor of Talaiyalankanam’ -- According to Nilakanta Sastri, the generation dominated by the Pantiyan ruler Netuncezhiyan, the victor of Talaiyalankanam, was later than that dominated by the Cola ruler Karikala (who reigned ca. 190 A.D.). This may be inferred from the facts that Nakkirar who celebrates Netuncezhiyan in Akam 36, 253 and 266, in Narrinai 358, and in Netunalvatai in the Pattuppattu, mentions Karikala in one of his poems (Akam 141) in terms which imply that his reign ended some time earlier, and that none of the poets of the age of Karikala makes any reference to Netuncezhiyan though they know of lesser Pantiyan names (K.A. Nilakanta Sastri, “South Indiaâ€, in R.C. Majumdar & A.S. Altekar (eds.), The Vakataka-Gupta Age, ca. 200-550 A.D. [Banaras: Bharatiya Itihas Parishad, 1954], 219-220). Zvelebil places Nakkirar’s life time at ca. 190-260 A.D. (see his discussion of the date of this poet at at http://tinyurl.com/cvjw4tx ). Moreover, Netuncezhiyan the victor of Talaiyalankanam is the hero of the Maturaikkanci (attributed to the poet Mankuti Marutanar), a work which includes some vivid and realistic descriptions of demons and demonesses who devour the corpses of heroes fallen in battle, dance over heaps of men’s heads, boil the blood and flesh of fallen kings using dead men’s arms as ladles, and serve this food to victorious warriors, by this evincing (my personal opinion) a clear influence by the nascent Tantric symbolic discourse on this poet. Mankuti Marutanar, thus, can by no means be dated to the B.C. epoch. In a poem attributed to him in the colophon, Puram 72, Netuncezhiyan the victor of Talaiyalankanam refers to Mankuti Marutanar as the chief among the poets praised for their great skill. So the author of the Maturaikkanci was probably the chief court-poet of Netuncezhiyan. According to Marr (The Eight Anthologies, cit., p. 138), Netuncezhiyan the victor of Talaiyalankanam would be an elder contemporary of the Cola king Kulamurrattuttunciya Killivalavan. It is generally accepted that Killivalavan was a successor of Karikala Cola not far removed from the latter since the same poets are singing the praise of both. If Karikala reigned at the end of the 2nd century A.D. as is opined by many scholars, then we have one more confirmation that Netuncezhiyan the victor of Talaiyalankanam reigned in the first decade of the third century A.D.

      In conclusion, the Pantiyan king Netuncezhiyan of the Mangulam grants (ca. 2nd century B.C.) lived much earlier than his namesakes and descendants celebrated in Cankam literature.


    • Francesco Brighenti
      ... Puhar/Kaveripattinam is *principally* known to archaeology for its trade with the Roman Empire, although its merchants certainly traded with other
      Message 88 of 88 , Jun 23, 2013
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        Ravilochanan Iyengar wrote:

        > It has to be noted that Pattinappalai does not mention the
        > word 'Yavanar' anywhere as far as I can remember. So, why should it
        > be assumed that Karikala belonged to the period of trading with
        > Greek states or even the Roman empire? Should the presence of a
        > port necessary imply trade with Romans?

        Puhar/Kaveripattinam is *principally* known to archaeology for its trade with the Roman Empire, although its merchants certainly traded with other countries too.

        In this connection, let me introduce a new element of textual analysis which, though I am not claiming it to amount to "proof" that Roman (`Yavana') merchants -- i.e. ethnic Greeks, Egyptians, Arabs etc. -- are mentioned in the Pattinappalai, appears worth of discussion to me.

        The Pattinappalai (in J.V. Chelliah's English translation) refers to the "fair", "coral-like" complexion and the "pink" feet of the bejewelled women living in the harbour quarter of Puhar in the age of Karikala; the poet further compares the hands of those women to flowers of kAntaL (Malabar glory lyly, having orange or red-and-yellow flowers) and makes a simile between their (foreign?) tongue(s) and the screech of the parrot's call:

        In cloud-topped, lofty, storeyed halls
        Around which there are piers built
        Are numerous courts and doors, both large
        And small, and spacious cloisters reached [160]
        By long ladders with close-set steps.
        In them do gather fair women
        Whose feet are pink, whose thighs close-set.
        Adorned are they with gauds of gold.
        Their hips are broad, their dress is soft;
        Fair are their red coral-like skins.
        Arrayed are they like gay peacocks.
        Their eyes are deer-like, and their speech,
        Like the parrot's prattle; these enjoy
        The breeze that blows through the windows. [170]
        They worship with bejewelled hands
        Resembling clusters that do sprout
        From kAntaL's joints whose blooms do spread
        Their pollens sweet on mountain slopes.
        Wide is the street where people trade...

        As is well-known, the Pattinappalai also tells us that in the age of Karikala Puhar was a large port-town having colonies of foreign merchants:

        As those who are united close
        By various high cultures, at times
        Together come to ancient shrines,
        So people speaking diverse tongues
        That come from great and foreign homes
        Mix free in friendly terms with those
        Who occupy this glorious town. [260]

        (N.B. Of course, the Cilappatikaram [5. 1-10] *explicitly* refers to `Yavana' merchants living in their separate quarters in Puhar, but this is another matter as this Tamil epic dates from the 5th-6th centuries CE.)

        Could not the fair-complexioned women referred to in the Pattinappalai, whose tongue, seemingly unintelligible to the poet, is compared by him to the parrot's call, be `Yavana' women – that is, women hailing from the Roman Empire?

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