This publication contains a "Campu" (prose and poetry) Kavya in Sanskrit based on the puranic version of the beginnings of the Tanjore city under the Colas. It has both a historic and literary importance.
The beginnings of the Cola kingdom have to be traced to pre-Ramayana and, Bharata days, as the kingdom is mentioned in both the epics. The names of many' Cola kings of the early period are preserved in the Tamil Sangam literature whose date is fixed at the beginning of the Christian Era. An early Cola king who appears to have ruled in Tiruvarur in the Tanjore district is well-known for having rendered justice to a cow whose calf was run over by the heir-apparent while driving his chariot. A full-size granite-model of a chariot with the prince lying prostrate underneath its wheel is still to be seen at Tiruvarur preserving the sacred memory of Manunithi Cholan, as the king is called.
An early: capital of the Cholas is KAVERIPPUMP A TTINAM at the mouth of the Cauvery River, which flourished as the richest port on the East coast of the Tamil land. In Silappadikaram, the immortal classic of the story of Kannaki, the author Ilangovadigal has left a detailed description of KAVERIPPUMPATTINAM. This relates to the period just before or after the beginning of the Christian Era. The next capital of the Colas was URAIYUR near Tiruchirapalli. The ChoIas whose dominion over the middle east of the Tamil land continued through several centuries, appear to have been eclipsed by the Pallavas from the 3rd or 4th century A.D., and the Cola History thereafter for 4 or 5 centuries still remains a dark period. After this period of oblivion, the Colas reappear in Tanjore in the 9th century; under Vijayalaya. When or how exactly, his line came to make Tanjore their capital is shrouded in mystery. There is evidence that certain rulers called Muttarayars claimed to rule in Tanjore prier to Vijayalaya, but the story of Muttarayars is another dark period on which light must be thrown by research.
After Vijayalaya, the Cola line of kings gradually builds up an Empire which reached its zeinth of power under Rajaraja and Rajendra who conquered the Telugu country in the North, Ceylon in the South, and Burma and Malaya in the East, and immortalized themselves by constructing the Big Temple at Tanjore.
This line which continued in power till the 14th century appears to have suffered by the invasion of Malik-Kafur in the early decades of the 14th century. They recovered a little with the help of Vijayanagar rulers towards the close of the same century, but were eclipsed again by the Pandya Kings. Both these ancient Iines of the Cola and Pandya kings who survived as vassals of Vijayanagar disappear altogether from history in the 16th century when the viceroys of Vijayanagar asserted their independance after the fall of the central power in the battle of Talikotta. This, in brief, is the history of the Colas, one of the most ancient lines of rulers of the most fertile part of the Tamil land, the Cauvery Delta.
It will be seen that till we come to the 9th century the long line of Cola rulers has not been traced by, historians. The chief reason for this is that historians have always regarded legends and traditions as beneath their notice and relied, only on inscriptions and pointed reference with ascertainable dates in literature. Nor have there been any excavations in the Tamil land, although we have plenty of references to ascertainable sites of ancient flourishing cities in old Tamil literature.
In these discouraging, circumstances, the student of Chola history may; well be, excused if he begin to continue the labours of Wilson and Mackenzie who spared no pains in collecting all, materials in Puranas traditional accounts and legendary sources, but did not live to examine fully; all the materials they had githered. It is a matter of regret that the Mackenzie manuscripts have still to be closely studied for whatever they may be worth by our historians.
Local legend and tradition, when it is supported by; tangible remains, is a very valuable source of history and deserves more attention at the hands of our Research workers than at present, although the facts as stated by, the legends or tradition may be chronologically incoherent. It is the business of the historian to start with the facts and personalities as prima facie evidence, ignoring for the moment the chronologicaI inconsistency and make use of those facts further research. The Sthalapuranas of most of the shrines , in South India and more especially, in the Tamil country contain interesting accounts of various incidents whose landmarks are still preserved in the temples and other remains in those places. We have about 500 of such Sthalapuranas and they all challenge the incredulity the modern historian DY their consistency in details and copious tangible evidence of the incidents. We have to Continue the labours of Mr. Wilson and Mackenzie and ransack the legends thoroughly for valuable historical materials.
The Cola Campu of Virupaksa edited here was selected for publication by the authorities of the sarasvati Mahal Library. The authorities placed at disposal its single paper manuscript, in Devanagari script ,(No. 4213; J. L. Collection 604), with which I child correct the Transcript supplied by them earlier. A few minor slips, I have corrected, but certain, other types of errors in expression, which clearly belonged to author, I have left as they were, drawing attention to them in the footnotes.
The Cola Campu was first noticed by Hultzsch in Vol. III of his Reports of Sanskrit Manuscripts in Southern India (Madras, 1905)Introduction. p, vii • Ms. No. 2031 Extract pp. 122-3. At the last place, Hultzsch gave a brief indication of the contents of the work and at the first observed about the nature of the work “a fictitious account of the' Chola king Kulotga, who is said to have been of Sudra descent and have been succeeded by his son Deva Chola. These statements are totally at variance with epigraphical evidence.As Vol. III of Hultzsch's Reports is devoted to a description of the Jambunatha Bhatta landagai Collection at Tanjore, which later came into Sarasvati Mahal, we have only the single J.L Collection manuscript for this work. The manuscript appears to be contemporaneous with the author, as there are expressions scored off and alternate readings inserted.
Hultzsch's estimate of the historical worthlessness this composition is correct, but he appears, to have mistaken the Kulottunga described here as the historical Cola monarch of that name. Hultzscb did not also realise that Virupiksa is not the original sinner in this respect, and that be was but taking his material from a source-book of Cola legends dealing with a line of sixteen kings beginning with Kulottunga.
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