Saturday, January 20, 2018

Parthasarathy Temple, Parthivapuram – History

Parthasarathy Temple, Parthivapuram – History
According to the Huzur Office (copper) plates, the temple was built by Ay (Vrishni Kula) King Karunandadakkan (AD 857 - 880) who wanted the temple to be one of the finest constructions by the Ay rulers. One particular Chola inscription got from the site, mentions about the installation of a deity’s silver Vigraha (idol). Another record dated AD 923 reveals that a land was gifted for lighting perpetual lamps. More recent inscriptions found in the temple pertains to the 15th century. The latest known inscription is assignable to the 15th century and the inscriptions are silent about any renovation work till then.
Parthivasekharapuram, today’s Parthivapuram, is inextricably bound to history, specifically to the powerful Ay Kings Kokkarunandadakkan and Vikramaditya Varaguna whom dominated the major part of later Venadu.  The Palayam Shasanam (in local Jargon) or Huzur Plates of Kollam 42/867 AD are exhaustive in detail on Parthivapuram referred to in them as Parthivasekharapuram. There are five copper plates. The first plate informs the process of land procurement, fixing boundaries, erecting a temple, consecrating the idol of Vishnu and naming the village around as Parthivasekharapuram.  Establishment of a Salai (boarding school) is also detailed.
The second plate prescribes duties of temple servants and power suppliers, enumeration of lands granted for perpetual lamps here and directions for conduct of the Temple festival in much elaboration including derivation of income, duration, duties and so on. The third plate lists lands gifted to meet payments to temple staff and temple-allied services. The fourth plate enjoins the people of the various areas to protect charitable institutions e.g. Salais, while fixing the number of the students.
The last plate is weighty with abundant directives as it specifies the code of conduct of the students, their curriculum, land rent collection for the temple, rules regulating the behaviours of the temple servants towards the students and the names of the officer directing the document and the writer of the same. There is also a single Sanskrit verse in praise of a personality by name Srivallabha who is, probably, King Karunandadakkan himself.
It is said that the temple complex had a separate Patasala (Vedic University) within it, with boarding facilities for more than 95 scholars. The 9th century Ay King Vikramaditya Varaguna wanted to make this Patasala at Parthivapuram in par with the famous Kandalur sala at Thiruvananthapuram (the exact location of this university is still a matter of contest among historians). However, the Parthivapuram sala failed to raise its quality and standards, thus losing the race to the prominent Kandalur Shala at Trivandrum. It is also evident from the fact that not a single Chola invasion of 10th or 11th Century was directed against it as was the case with Kandalur Salai.
However, it is clear that the Vrishni Kula King made all efforts to build a magnificent edifice in this temple-Salai complex, worthy of his fame and achievement. The temple is now a protected monument under the Archaeological Survey of India. As a monument, temple might be regarded as a time capsule to know the social, cultural and economic life of the people through the ages. Above all, the temple served as the centre of cultural and educational activity. It promotes the bond of unity among the people. This temple conducted Mahakumbabishekam before 1200 years.