Friday, December 30, 2016

Thiru Mukkoodal Appan Venkatesa Perumal Temple – Inscriptions

Thiru Mukkoodal Appan Venkatesa Perumal Temple – Inscriptions
This temple is protected and maintained by ASI. Lots of stone inscriptions are found along  the walls of the temple. The walls of the main sanctum as well as those of the second prakara are studded with numerous epigraphs in the ancient Tamil script, the oldest of which is datable to the reign of the Pallava ruler, Nripatungavarman of the 9th century A.D. There are also many Chola inscriptions of the reign of Rajaraja-I, Rajendra-I, Vira-Rajendra and Kulottunga-I which speak of endowments and gifts made to this shrine, thus showing that this temple enjoyed immense popularity during the Chola reign.

Interestingly, these epigraphs reveal that this deity was called Vishnu Bhatara in the Pallava times, as Thirumukkudal – Azhwar and Mahavishnu in the Chola period and as Venkateswara Swami at a later date. The Chola inscriptions included Thirumukkudal in the ancient territorial sub-division known as Madhurantaka-Chaturvedimangalam, which was a part of Kalatur-kottam, a district of Jayamkonda-sola-Mandalam. “Chaturvedi Mangalam" means land given to Vedic scholars who learnt all the four vedas (Chatur - four, Vedi - Vedic, mangalam - Free Gift). 

The temple monument -  India’s ancient cultural heritage, is well preserved by the  Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The ASI authorities have preserved the inscriptions without much damage. The maintenance and upkeep of this temple structure are in accordance with the ancient methods of construction technology.

Inscriptions on Gifts:
The plinth (jagadi, tripatta-kumuda, walls, pillars, pilasters of the main sanctum as well as those of second circumambulatory path (prakara), the north facing wall at the pillared hall and the east facing outer wall are dotted with 17 inscriptions in Chola Tamil script and most of them speaks about the land endowments for burning perpetual lamp in the temple and for offering to the deity and for flower garden in the name of Rajendra Cholan I, devotees offered sheep, paddy in specific grain measurement and gold.

The inscriptions also details the offerings made to the deity three times a day, like kumkum, camphor, sandal paste and lamp as well as for specific offers for festivals / celebrations during Tamil months Aippasi, Krithigai, Masi and Janmashtami (Lord Krishna's birthday) and King's birthday. Provision was made for the recitation of Nammazhwar's `Thiruvaimozhi.'  The earliest inscription in the temple was recorded in the 24th year of Vijaya Nripatungavarman, the Pallava ruler.
According to the Pallava inscriptions, Thirumukkudal was located in the assembly of Siyapuram in Urrukkattu-kottam in Jayangondasola-mandalam.
South Indian Inscriptions. Volume 12. Stones No.75 (A. R. No. 179 of 1915). Thirumukkudal, Conjeeveram Taluk, Chingleput District. On a slab supporting a beam set up in the inner enclosure of the Venkatesa-Perumal temple. 
This record states that, in the 24th year of Vijaya-Nripatungavikramavarman, the assembly of Siyapuram in Urrukkattuk-kottam agreed to maintain a perpetual lamp in the temple of Vishnu-Bhatara at Thirumukkudal for the interest on 30 kalanju of gold received by them from Ariganda-Perumanar, son of Kadupatti-Muttaraiyar. The interest on 30 kalanju came to 4½ kalanju, calculating at the rate of 3 manjadi per kalanju. For this 4½ kalanju, the assembly of Siyapuram agreed to supply oil at a uniform rate of 40 nali per kalanju for maintaining the lamp.  Pazhaya Seevaram near Thirumukkudal is called Siyapuram in inscriptions.
கோவிசய நிருபதுங்க பல்லவ விக்கிரம வருமக்கு யாண்டு இருபத்து நாலாவது காடுபட்டிமுத்தரையர் மகனார் அரிகண்டப்பெருமானாருக்கு ஊற்றுக்காட்டுக்கோட்டத்து சீயபுரத்து சபையோமொட்டிக்கொடுத்த பரிசாவது திருமுக்குடல் விஷ்ணுபடாரர்க்கு நுந்தாவிளக்கெரிப்பதற்க்கு தந்த எங்கள் கையிற்றந்த முப்பதின் களஞ்சு நாலுப் பொலியூட்டு ஆண்டுவரை களஞ்சின் வாய் மூன்று மஞ்சாடிபொன் ஆயனப்படியால் நாற்களஞ்சரையாலும் ஏறிலும் கறுங்காலும் நாற்பது நாழி எண்ணை நூற்றின்பதி .
Inscription on Hospitals:
The other interesting aspect was the Hospital and Vedic School that flourished at this place just behind the temple in centuries gone by. There was a full-fledged hospital with a number of beds, doctors & nurses and a medicine center. There has also been a medical centre (Athura Saalai) attached to this college at this place where the students, teachers and the temple staff were treated for various illnesses. This 15 bedded hospital was named after the king ‘Veera Chozhan’ and had ample manpower comprising a physician by name ‘Kodhandaraman Aswathavanam Bhattan’, a surgeon who performed operations, nurses to attend to patients and servants to bring herbs from places and even a barber. The information on the salaries paid to the employees of the hospital and the names of about 20 different types of medicines which were stored in the hospital are well detailed in the inscriptions.

The unique and distinctive inscription (ARE 248/1923) of Vira Rajendra Chola (1063-1068 A.D.), through which this temple became popular. The 55 line inscription documents about the organization and administration of Veera Cholisvara  Aadhura Salai (charitable dispensaries or medical center), to treat students and temple staff, comprising fifteen beds under the charge of a physician. Ancient physicians stacked away 14 other medicines to cure various ailments, including fever, urinary disorders, hemorrhage, lung diseases, fatigue, mental disorders, jaundice and eye and skin diseases.  With the help of experts from the National Institute of Siddha and Central Siddha Research Institute, the ASI maintains the herbal garden and grows medicinal plants on the temple grounds.  NISCSRI and ASI are together plan for an expansion programme is likely to cover nearly an acre in the coming months.
Inscriptions on Vedic Schools:
As seen in other temple stories in this region including Uthira Merur, this place too was renowned for Vedic Education where one was always a witness to Vedic chanting and Prabandham recitals. However, with passage of time, both of these have taken a back seat. The Hospital has been damaged to an extent of no revival. The temple itself, which is now part of ASI and designated as a protected monument, is in fine shape but no more do we hear the constant Vedic recital that was once symbolic of this place. 
Among these records, the most important and interesting one is engraved on the east wall of the first prakara and belong to the period of Vira-Rajendra Chola (1062-1070 A.D.). This long epigraph records the existence of a Vedic college located in the Jananatha-mantapa inside this temple in the 11th century A.D. where eight subjects including the Rig Veda, Yajur Veda and grammar were taught. The numbers of students enrolled in this educational centre, the number of teachers for each subject and the daily remuneration paid have been detailed in this inscription.
This well-preserved record also mentions that these students lived in a hostel attached to this college where cooks and servants were employed to take care of the needs of the inmates. In many of the Vishnu temples in the Tamil country during the Chola times, provision was made for the recitation of Nammazhwar's `Thiruvaimozhi' and the Thirumukkudal temple was no exception as the contents of this inscription reveal.
This temple which once reverberated with the sound of Vedic chanting and the recitation of Sanskrit texts now stands a mute testimony to the glorious times of the Pallavas and the Cholas, whose kings, besides being great conquerors and administrators strove for the propagation of learning and literature.

No comments: