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The story of Yudhisthira (Dharmaraja)
Yudhisthira's father Pandu, the king of Hastinapura, soon after his marriage accidentally shot a Brahmin and his wife, mistaking them for deer, while the couple were making love. Before he died, the Brahmin cursed the king himself to die at once, the minute he engaged in intercourse with one of his two wives. Due to this curse, Pandu was unable to father children. In additional penance for the murder, Pandu also abdicated the crown to his blind brother Dhritarashtra.
Yudhisthira therefore was conceived in an unusual way. His mother, Queen Kunti, had in her youth been granted the power to invoke the Devas by Rishi Durvasa. Each god, when invoked, would place a child in her lap. Urged by Pandu to use her invocations, Kunti gave birth to Yudhisthira by invoking the Lord of Righteousness, Dharma. Being Pandu's eldest son, Yudhisthira was the rightful heir to the throne. However, this claim was contested by the Dhritarashtra's son, Duryodhana.
Yudhisthira's four younger brothers were Bhima, (born by invoking Vayu) Arjuna, (born by invoking Indra) and the twins Nakula and Sahadeva, (born by invoking the Ashwini Gods). If Karna, the son of Kunti born before her marriage by invoking Surya is counted, Yudhisthira would be the second-eldest of five Pandava brothers.
Yudhisthira was trained in religion, science, administration and military arts by the Kuru preceptors Kripa and Drona. He was a master of the spear weapon, and a maharatha, capable of combating 10,000 opponents all together at a time.
Yudhisthira is also known as Bharata (Descendent of the line of Bharata) and Ajatashatru (One Without Enemies).
Yudhisthira's true prowess was shown in his unflinching adherence to satya (truth) and dharma (righteousness), which were more precious to him than any royal ambitions, material pursuits and family relations.
Yudhisthira rescued Bhima from Yama, and all of his four brothers from death by exemplifying not only his immense knowledge of dharma but also his very own way of understanding the finer implications of dharma, as judged by Yama, who was testing him in the guise of a Crane and a Yaksha.
Yudhisthira's dharma was markedly distinct from that of other righteous kings. He married Draupadi along with his four brothers, he had Bhima marry an outcast Rakshasi, he termed "prayer" as "poison", he saw an uneventful life with no credit and a belly full of food at the end of the day as happiness, he denounced casteism, saying a Brahmin is known by his actions and not his birth or education--thus portraying the real changeable dharma, the dharma that modifies itself to suit the times.
Due to his piety, Yudhisthira's feet and his chariot do not touch the ground, to symbolize his purity.
Yudhisthira and his brothers were favored by the Kuru elders like Bhishma, Vidura ,Kripa and Drona over Duryodhana and his brothers, the Kauravas, due to their devotion to their elders, pious habits and great aptitude in religion and military skills, and all the necessary qualifications for the greatest of the kshatriya order.
Yudhisthira married the Panchali princess Draupadi, who bore him his son Prativindya.
When the Pandavas came of age, King Dhritarashtra sought to avoid a conflict with his sons, the Kauravas, by giving Yudhisthira half the Kuru kingdom, albeit the lands which were arid, unprosperous and scantily populated, known as Khandavaprastha.
But with the help of Yudhisthira's cousin Krishna, a new city, Indraprastha, was constructed by the Deva architect Viswakarman. The Asura architect Mayasura constructed the Mayasabha, which was the largest regal assembly hall in the world. Yudhisthira was crowned king of Khandavaprastha and Indraprastha. As he governed with absolute piousness, with a strict adherence to duty and service to this people, his kingdom grew prosperous, and people from all over were attracted to it.
Yudhisthira performed the Rajasuya sacrifice to become the Emperor of the World. His motives were not to obtain power for himself, but to establish dharma and defend religion all over the world by suppressing the enemies of Krishna and sinful, aggressive kings.
Arjuna, Bhima, Nakula and Sahadeva led armies across the four corners of the world to obtain tributes from all kingdoms for Yudhisthira's sacrifice. At his sacrifice, Yudhisthira honored Krishna as the most famous and greatest personality. This incensed Sisupala, who proceeded to hurl several insults at Krishna and the Pandavas for selecting a "cowherd" for the great honor. When Sisupala's transgressions exceed the hundred pardons that Krishna had promised his mother, Krishna summons the sudarshana chakra to behead him. Following which, the yajna is completed successfully.
Yudhisthira was unable to refuse when Duryodhana's maternal uncle Shakuni, challenged him to a game of dice. Thanks to Shakuni's cheating, Yudhisthira lost each throw, eventually gambling away his kingdom, his wealth, his brothers and finally his wife. Owing to the protests of Vidura, Bhishma and Drona, Dhritarashtra returned all these losses. However, Shakuni challenged Yudhisthira one more time, and Yudhisthira once more lost. This time, he, his brothers and his wife were forced to discharge the debt by spending thirteen years in exile, with the condition of anonymity in the last year, in the forest before they could reclaim their kingdom.
Yudhisthira was criticized by Draupadi and Bhima for succumbing to temptation and playing dice, an art he was absolutely unskilled at, making the Pandavas prey to Shakuni and Duryodhana's evil designs. Yudhisthira reproached himself for weakness of mind, but at the time he argued that it was impossible to refuse a challenge of any nature, as he was a kshatriya and obliged to stand by the kshatriya code of honour.
During the thirteen years, he was repeatedly tested for staunch adherence to religious values in face of adversity.
The conditions of the debt required the Pandavas to disguise themselves and not be discovered during the last year of exile. Yudhisthira learned dice play from Narada Muni and assumed the guise of a brahmin courtier and dice player in the Matsya Rajya of king Virata.
When the period of exile was completed, Duryodhana and Shakuni nevertheless refused to return Yudhisthira's kingdom. Yudhisthira made numerous diplomatic efforts to retrieve his kingdom peacefully all failed. To go to war to reclaim his birthright would mean fighting and killing his own relatives, an idea that appalled Yudhisthira. But Krishna, Yudhisthira's most trusted advisor (whom he recognized as the Avatara of Vishnu, the Supreme Godhead, Brahman), pointed out that Yudhisthira's claim was righteous, and the deeds of Duryodhana were evil. If all peace efforts failed, war was therefore a most righteous course. There are many passages in the Mahabharata in which Yudhisthira's will to fight a bloody war for the sake of a kingdom falters, but Krishna justifies the war as moral and as the unavoidable duty of all moral warriors.
In the war, the Kuru commander Drona was killing of thousands of Pandava warriors. Krishna hatched a plan to tell Drona that his son Ashwathama had died, so that the invincible and destructive Kuru commander would give up his arms and thus could be killed.
The plan was set in motion when Bhima killed an elephant named Ashwathama, and loudly proclaimed that Ashwathama was dead. Drona, knowing that only Yudhisthira, with his firm adherence to the truth, could tell him for sure if his son had died, approached Yudhisthira for confirmation. Yudhisthira told him: "Ashwathama has died". However Yudhisthira could not make himself tell a lie, despite the fact that if Drona continued to fight, the Pandavas and the cause of dharma itself would have lost and he added: "naro va kunjaro va" which means he is not sure whether elephant or man had died.
Krishna knew that Yudhisthira would be unable to lie, and had all the warriors beat war-drums and cymbals to make as much noise as possible. The words "naro va kunjaro va" were lost in the tumult and the ruse worked. Drona was disheartened, and laid down his weapons. He was then killed by Dhristadyumna.
When he spoke his half-lie, Yudhisthira's feet and chariot descended to the ground. However, Yudhisthira himself killed Shalya, the king of Madra and the last Kuru commander.
At the end of the war, Yudhisthira and the Pandava army emerged victorious, but Yudhisthira's children, the sons of Draupadi, and many Pandava heroes like Dhristadyumna, Abhimanyu, Virata, Drupada, Ghatotkacha were dead. Millions of warriors on both sides were killed.
Yudhisthira performed the tarpana ritual for the souls of the departed. Upon his return to Hastinapura, he was crowned king of both Indraprastha and Hastinapura.
Out of his piousness, Yudhisthira retained Dhristarashtra as the king of the city of Hastinapura, and offered him complete respect and deference as an elder, despite his misdeeds and the evil of his dead sons.
Yudhisthira later performed the Ashwamedha yagna (sacrifice) to re-establish the rule of dharma all over the world. In this sacrifice, a horse was released to wander for a year, and Yudhisthira's brother Arjuna led the Pandava army, following the horse. The kings of all the countries where the horse wandered were asked to submit to Yudhisthira's rule or face war. All paid tribute, once again establishing Yudhisthira as the undisputed Emperor of the World.
Upon the onset of the Kali yuga and the death of Krishna, Yudhisthira and his brothers retired, leaving the throne to their only descendant to survive the war of Kurukshetra, Arjuna's grandson Parikshita. Giving up all their belongings and ties, the Pandavas made their final journey of pilgrimage in the Himalayas.
While climbing the peaks, one by one Draupadi and each Pandava in reverse order of age fell to their deaths, dragged down by the weight of their guilt of few, but real sins. But Yudhisthira reached the mountain peak, because he was unblemished by sin or untruth.
The true character of Yuddhisthira is revealed at the end of the Mahabharata. On the mountain peak, Indra, King of Gods, arrived to take Yudhisthira to heaven in his Golden Chariot. As Yudhisthira was about to step into the Chariot, the Deva told him to leave behind his companion dog, an unholy creature not worthy of heaven. Yudhisthira stepped back, refusing to leave behind the creature who he had taken under his protection. Indra wondered at him - "You can leave your brothers behind, not arranging proper cremations for them. and you refuse to leave behind a stray dog!"
Yudhisthira replied, "Draupadi and my brothers have left me, not me [them]." And he refused to go to heaven without the dog. At that moment the dog changed into the God Dharma, his father, who was testing him. and Yudhisthira had passed with distinction.
Yudhisthira was carried away on Indra's chariot. On reaching Heaven he did not find either his virtuous brothers or his wife Draupadi. Instead he saw Duryodhana and his evil allies. The Gods told him that his brothers were in Naraka (hell) atoning their little sins, while Duryodhana was in heaven since he died at the blessed place of Kurukshetra.
Yudhisthira loyally went to Naraka (hell) to meet his brothers, but the sights and sounds of gore and blood horrified him. Tempted to flee, he mastered himself and remained on hearing the voice of his beloved brothers and Draupadi. calling out to him, asking him to stay with them in their misery. Yudhisthira decided to remain, ordering the Divine charioteer to return..preferring to live in hell with good people than in a heaven of evil ones. At that moment the scene changed. This was yet another illusion to test him on the one hand, and on other hand to enable him to atone for his sin of using deceit to kill Drona. Indra and Krishna appeared before him and told him that his brothers were already in Heaven, along with his enemies, for earthly virtues and vices don't hold true in heavenly realms. Krishna yet again hailed Yudhisthira for his dharma, and bowed to him, in the final defining moment of the epic where divinity bowed down to humanity.
Mahabalipuram is also known as Mamallapuram is virtually a paradise for authority of ancient art and architecture located on the coast of Bay of Bengal approx. 40 km south of Madras (now Chennai). The monuments of this place are visual delight and are very close to each other and best known for the UNESCO world heritage site of 7 th to 8 th century . It is in the Hindu groups of monuments at Mahabalipuram . This place is named after the greatest Pallava ruler Mamalla or Narasimhavarman I (630-668) .Long before the Pallavas established their rule it was a prosperous seaport since the time of Periplus(I CE) and Ptolemy (I 40 CE).
Shore temple the set of monolithic temples known as the five Rathas . The giant bas-relief called Arjuna Penance and the rock cut temples such as Varaha cave all belongs to the creative impulse of the 7 th century CE during the rule of Narasimhavarman I .
Among the monolithic temples found in Mahabalipuram notable are the 5 Rathas named after the legendary Pandava brother of the Mahabharat epic .
Dharmaraja ,Arjuna and Draupadi rathas are square on plan while the Bhima and Ganesha rathas are rectangular .
Among the 5 rathas Dharmaraja ratha is most impressive and sculpturally the richest . The sculpture around the sanctum depict myriad form of shiva such as Harihara ,Ardhanarisvara besides a portrait of a king .
The Bhima ratha is longish in plan and comprises an Ekatala Vimana (one story) created possibly to house the reclining form of Vishnu.
Draupadi ratha is simple hut style Vimana with intricate carvings on the edge of the roof . The position with the engravings of the goddess on the walls are crowned with the decorative carvings of Makara Torana .
Bhima & Dhamaraja - History
A Monthly Web Magazine for
South Asian History
Issue No. 50
[ ஆகஸ்ட் 16 - செப்டம்பர் 17, 2008 ]
- Published in the 2007 Souvenir of Dwarkalaya, a Socio-Cultural-Charitable organization located in New Delhi
The numerous temples of Tamilnadu built by the Pallava, Chola and Pandya kings and dating back 1500 years, provide us a glimpse into Tamil history. Temples older than these have perished as they were basically built of brick. King Mahendra Varma Pallava (6th Century AD) is credited with constructing the first stone temples.
The inscriptions in some of these temples shed light on their importance in ancient Tamil society. Temples often served as a gathering place for people from all walks of life, where important social and political issues could be discussed and debated. They also served as nurturing grounds for the fine arts of painting, sculpture, dance and music. During times of emergency or natural disasters, temples also became make shift hospitals. An analysis of the stone inscriptions and ancient literary works yields a deeper understanding about early Tamil society, politics, geography, agricultural practices, tax systems, customs and traditions.
On the basis of their architecture, temples can be classified into three broad types– cave temples, monolithic temples carved out of a single rock, and structural stone temples. One can come across all the three types of temples (Mahishasuramardhini and Varaha cave temples built after the reign of Mahendra, the monolithic five rathas, and also other structural stone temples) at Mamallapuram, which was also referred to as Kadal Mallai in ancient literature.
Most of the temples found in Mamallapuram were built by Rajasimha. The five rathas were initially thought to be the work of Mahendra's son Narasimhavarma Pallava. But recent studies have proved that the five rathas were actually built by Rajasimha. In his book titled "Adhyanthakamam", Dr. R. Kalaikkovan, Director of the Dr. M. Rajamanickanar Center for Historical Research, gives detailed evidence that proves that the five rathas were built by Rajasimha. Other temples built by him in and around Kanchipuram, bear testimony to Rajasimha's skill and ingenuity. He experimented widely with various temple architectural concepts and introduced numerous inventions. A study of the temples built by him is in fact a study of the evolution of temple architecture.
The nomenclature of the buildings is unfortunate. They are called rathas (pancha rathas means "five chariots"), and named individually after Draupadi and the Pandava brothers, although they have nothing to do with temple carts or the Mahabharata. It would be better to call them vimanas and just number them 1 through 5, but the popular names have stuck.
Four of the five, namely the Draupadi, Arjuna, Bhima and Dharmaraja rathas, stand in a single row facing west. The fifth Nakula-Sahadeva ratha, faces the south, and stands apart with its side facing the other four rathas.
The Draupadi ratha, the first ratha on the premises has a hut styled vimana – the simplest form of vimana, with a square base. The Arjuna ratha is a two-tired temple, with a square section in both the tiers, an octagonal shaped "Griva" (neck) and "Sikara" (head). "Karnakutas" (a hara structure kept at four corners above the roof of the first tier) and "Salas" (in the form of a boat or a bullock cart placed at the center on all four sides), have been introduced in this temple. The "Karnakutas" and the "Salas" above the roof are together called a "Hara". Another innovation in this temple is the lower tier, which starting from the basement is split vertically with projections at equal intervals. These projections divide the structure into compartments called "Bhadras" with depressions in between.
The Bhima ratha is a single-tired structure with a rectangular base. The top portion of the temple is oblong like a tilted boat similar to a "Sala". This type of vimana is called "Sala Vimana". Another innovation in this temple is the modification of "Nasikas". The various forms of "Nasikas", described in the texts are found in this temple.
The Dharmaraja ratha is the tallest of them all with three tiers. The architecture of this temple is also very different from all the other temples. The ground floor of this temple has pillared entrances on all sides. The second and the third tier has Garbhagriha and parapet wall with space in between them. The "Hara" structure in this temple has a new component – the "Panjara", between the "Karnakutas" and the "Salas. The "Panjara" is in the shape of a wagon-top with the longer portion to the sides as opposed to the "Salas" which have the longer portion in the front.
The placement of an elephant next to the Nakula-Sahadeva ratha is significant. One can find similarities between the back of the ratha and the elephant. This type of vimana is called the "Gaja-prishta Vimana" ("Gaja" means elephant and "prishta" means back). This ratha is also two-tiered. On the front side, the "Shikara" of this temple has a miniature replica of the vimana projected out. Rajasimha's innovations add to the beauty of these monolithic structures.
In the dharmaraja ratha, above the icons, inscriptions have been carved on the walls. These inscriptions are in the "Pallava Grantha" script. The inscriptions in Dharmaraja ratha contain "birudas" of a king. The similarities between these "birudas", and the ones found in the Kailasnatha temple at Kanchipuram and the Panaimalai temple, both built by Rajasimha, leads one to conclude that the Dharmaraja ratha was also built by Rajasimha. The "birudas" in the Dharmaraja ratha include the Adhyanthakama (one who has endless desires – it was King Rajasimha's main name), Bhuvanabaajana, Narasimha, Mega, Nayanamanohara, Sarvathobhadra, Mahamalla, Ranajaya (one who is victorious in battle, another frequently used title of Rajasimha), Paraapara and Para. Out of these, Adhyanthakama and Ranajaya must have been important "birudas" of the king and they have been inscribed at prominent locations.
Numerous sculptures can be found in the Draupadi, Arjuna and Dharmaraja rathas. The Draupadi ratha is infact a temple of the Goddess Durga or a "Kotravai" as she was referred to in ancient times. The sanctum sanctorum of the vimana contains the Goddess "Kotravai" (Durga) in a standing position with her attendants. Below her to the left, a devotee prepares to cut off his own head as a sacrifice to the goddess. To the right, another devotee is cutting various body parts as a sacrifice to the goddess. These horrible rites were prevalent among a sect of Hindus called the "Kabalikas". Even the "Dwara palikas" guarding the doorway are aspects of the Goddess. Even though they are essentially feminine, their valor and "Gambeera" have been brought out by their posture and in the way they wield their weapons.
The Arjuna ratha contains figures of both deities and common folk. The "Arthanareeswara" on the south wall, exemplifies the well-developed craftsmanship of the Pallavas. The sculpture strikes the correct balance between dignified masculinity (the twist in the eyebrows, the holding of hands) and graceful feminity (the slight raise of Uma's hips). The sculpture of two ladies on the south side of the back wall is another masterpiece. The lady on the left points out someone to the lady on the right. By studying the facial expressions of the lady on the right – a mixture of shyness, eagerness and joy, one can safely perceive that the lady on the left is pointing out the lover of the lady on the right. She is too shy to look at him directly, yet cannot restrain herself from glancing at him sideways. The sculptures are breathtakingly real and artistic.
The Dharmaraja ratha also contains many sculptural masterpieces on all its tiers. Various puranic themes revolving around Siva,Vishnu and other deities are are depicted in the various icons. There are also sculptures of devotees and common folk. On the ground floor, one finds sculpture of a king. The third floor sanctum sanctorum contains the deity of "Somaskanda" (Siva and Parvati seated with the child Muruga between them), with Brahma and Vishnu standing on either side.
The sculptures provide details of the fashion and accessories of the Pallava period. Most men wore only a loin cloth, while others wore a cloth around their waist that covered their thighs or came up to their knees. Rich men or royalty wore silk dhotis which covered their legs. Some men and women draped a long piece of cloth around their shoulders, similar to the sacred thread worn by "Brahmins". The saree was not in existence in those days. Breast bands were in fashion among women. Both men and women wore various kinds of necklaces. They either left both the earlobes elongated or wore earrings of palm-leaf or metal on either one or both ears. Bangles made out of metal or sea-shells adorned their wrists, while "Dhandais" (circular bands) encircled their legs and arm-bands and circular bands - "Tholvalai" rested on their shoulders. Men wore the "Udharabhanda" – an ornamental band just above the stomach. Persons of royal lineage wore crowns, secured tightly to their heads by the "Netri-pattam". Nose-pins were not prevalent.
This article just skims the surface of the ocean of Tamil art, architecture and history. The details of each ratha are enough to fill the pages of many books and even then we cover only one temple complex. There are about 30,000 temples in Tamilnadu, each of them a treasure trove of historical knowledge. Monuments of great artistic value, these temples speak of the greatness of the bygone era.
'Architectural Traditions and Innovations of Tamils' by Dr. R. Kalaikkovan varalaaru.com, issue 6.
'Mahendrar kudaivaraigaL' by Dr. R. Kalaikkovan and Dr. M. Nalini
'Adhyanthakamam' by Dr. R. Kalaikkovan and Dr. M. Nalini
'Mahabalipuram: Costumes and Jewellery' by Dr. Gift Siromoney Madras Christian College, VOl. 39, April 1970, pp. 76-83
'Temples of South India' by K.R. Srinivasan Pg. 88 -92
Dharmaraja ratha Bhima ratha Arjun ratha and Draup - stock photo
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Pancha Rathas Historical Facts and Pictures
Pancha Rathas, also known as the Pandava Rathas, located on the Coromandel Coast in Kancheepuram in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, is one of the most notable monument complexes and a great example of the famous monolithic rock-cut architectural style of the country. The structures are collectively named after the Pancha Pandavas, the five sons of King Pandu from the Hindu epic Mahabharata. The five constructions are individually named as the Dharmaraja Ratha, Bhima Ratha, Arjuna Ratha, Nakula Sahadeva Ratha, and Draupadi Ratha after individual Pandavas Yudhisthira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula, Sahadeva and their common wife Draupadi.
A plaque displayed by the Archeological Survey of India at the entrance of the site mentions the rulers of the Pallava dynasty to have modeled the structures on ancient wooden rathas. The construction and curving of the Pancha Rathas began during the rule of Pallava kings Mahendravarman I and Narasimhavarman I. However, the work on the Rathas never finished as the death of Narasimhavarman I (668 AD) led to discontinuation of the construction work. The site is currently listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site (1984) as part of the Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram.
Pallavas of Kanchi: Society, Polity, Economy and Culture
The significance of the Pallava period is that it is the culmination of what had been a gradual process of assimilating the Aryan culture and the emergence of the Tamil personality.
During this period, the political relations among powers of the Deccan and further south were based on the geo-political interests, which led to conflict between the Pallavas of Kanchipuram, the Chalukyas of Badami and the Pandyas of Madurai.
By the beginning of the 7th century AD, the Pallavas with Kanchipuram as their capital emerged as an important power after replacing the Kalabhras.
Image Source: scriptures.ru/india/tamilnadu/kanchipuram/kanchipuram190.jpg
A serious debate is going on about the origin and homeland of the Pallavas. Primarily there are two theories, (i) foreign, and (ii) indigenous, about their origin. Lewis Rice based on the resemblance of the words Pallavas and Pahlavas concludes that the Pallavas were the descendants of the Pahlavas, a branch of the Persians and argues that the word Pallava is a Sanskritized form of ‘Pahlavas’.
On the other hand, N. Srinivasa Ayyangar maintains that the Pallavas were of Naga origin based on a reference to Naga-Chola alliance in Manimekhalai, which appears to be more realistic given the fact that Nagas in the reference can be adduced to the Andhras and the early Pallavas ruled the region of the lower Krishna valley. K.P. Jaiswal who regards Pallavas as a branch of the Vakatakas further strengthens this theory. R. Sathianatha Iyer relying on the Asokan epigraphs and on the prevalence of the regional names like Pulinada, Puliyaraw in Tondaimandalam, considers them as Pulindas.
On the basis of the fact that the early Pallava epigraphs are found in Andhra region, K.A.N. Sastri, R. Gopalan and C. Meenakshi consider them as chieftains under the Satavahanas who became independent after the decline of the Satavahanas. Contrasting the above identification, R. Raghava lyangar and S. Krishnaswamy lyangar are of the opinion that they are Tamils, basing their arguments on the information furnished by the epic Manimekhalai Tondaiyar is the name given to the Pallavas by Thirmangai Alwar.
Romila Thapar thinks that the traditions woven around the story of a young prince falling in love with a Naga princess and the story of binding the child with a creeper or twig, points a foreign origin of the Pallavas. For the last fifty years and more, the origin of the Pallavas has remained a mystery to be unlocked.
Though the Pallavas became an important political power in the beginning of the 7th century, theirs is an old power. The Pallavas, who ruled prior to the beginning of the 7th century, are known in history as early Pallavas.
The early Pallavas issued two types of epigraphs:
There is a view that the Pallavas were the feudatories of the Satavahanas and started ruling independently after the fall of the Satavahanas. As all the inscriptions of the early Pallavas were discovered in the districts of Guntur and Nellore, it is believed that the Telugu country south of the Krishna River formed the bulk of the Pallava kingdom until the last quarter of the 6th century AD.
We come to know from Sanskrit epigraphs of the Pallavas that they ruled from AD 350 to 550. The following are the rulers of this line known through their genealogical lists: Simhavarma I, Skandavarma I, Skandavarma II, Kumaravishnu II, Buddavarman, Kumaravishnu III, Skandavarman III and Vishnuvarman II. We learn from one of the epigraphs that Buddavarman has been described a ‘submarine fire’ to the ocean of the Chola army. From this, it can be inferred that there was hostility between the early Pallavas and the early Cholas and after subduing the Kalabhras the Pallavas became the rulers of Kanchi and established a secondary lineage.
Simhavishnu, who ruled from AD 555 to 590, is considered the founder of the line of the Greater Pallavas. Simhavishnu, the founder of the Great Pallava line assumed the tide of Avanisimha or lion of the earth. He was not only a great general who conquered Cholamandalam, the kings of Ceylon and the three Tamil states and brought peace and order by subduing the Kalabhras but also a patron of Bharavi, the author of Kiratarjuniya.
The Adivaraha temple at Mahabalipuram provides the relief of Simhavishnu, his two queens and his son Mahendravarman. Mahendravarman I, son and successor of Simhavishnu, ascended the Pallava throne and ruled from AD 590 to 630. He assumed many titles like Chitrumalla, Gunahhara, Vichitrachitta, Mattavilasa, Sankimajati, Chitrakarapuli and Amnibhajana, each one reflecting his versatile accomplishments.
It was Mahendravarman, who was responsible for the growing political strength of the Pallavas, and made the dynasty the arbiters and patrons of Tamil culture. He was a contemporary of Harsha of Thaneswar, and Pulakesin II of Badami. The most important political aspect to be noted is the beginning of the long-drawn rivalry for political supremacy between the Pallavas and the Chalukyas of Badami. Pulakesin II’s Aihole epigraph bears testimony to the fact of the success of Chalukyas against Mahendravarman. The epigraph proudly proclaims that Pulakesin II “caused the splendours of the lord of the Pallavas to be obscured by the dust of his army and to vanish behind the walls of Kanchipura”.
Originally a Jaina by faith, he appears to have been converted to Saivism by Appar, who himself was a convert to Saivism from Jaina faith. In spite of his defeat at the hands of Pulakesin II, Mahendravarman earned eternal flame by his scholarship, interest in music and by his patronage of art and architecture. Mahendravarman was a renowned builder of rock-cut temples in Trichinapally, Chengalpat, North Arcot and South Arcot districts. He also built temples in honour of Vishnu, Isvara and Brahma.
The Mandagapatti epigraph informs us “This brickless, timberless, metalless and mortarless temple which is a mansion for Brahma, Isvara and Vishnu, was caused to be erected by the King Vichitrachitta”. He also excavated a rock-cut temple in honour of Vishnu, on the banks of the Mahendravadi near Arkonam in the North Arcot district, which is known as Mahendra Vishnugraham. The rock-cut temples at Vellam, Dalavanur, Mahendrawadi and Mamandur are the best examples of rock-cut architecture. His reign is famous for popularization of rock-cut architecture and his title Vichitrachitta or the man with new or curious ideas is indicative of his personality.
Mahendravarman’s abiding and deep interest and love for fine arts is unparalleled. His title Chitrakarapuli is also very significant because the paintings on the ceiling of a rock-cut temple at Sittanvasal in the Pudukkottai region are attributed to him. His proficiency in music can be known from his Kudimiyamalai inscription that contains a musical tabular note. We may surmise from this that he has taken the title of Sankimajati. He composed two works in Sanskrit, Mattavilasa Prahasana and Bhogavadajjuka. His construction of a town Mahendramangalam or Mahendravadi and the tank at Mamandur known as Chitramegatatakam prove his interest in irrigation and promotion of secular engineering skills.
Mehendravarman I was succeeded by his son Narasimhavarman I, who ruled from AD 630 to 668. Narasimhavarman I followed his father’s example and raised the glory and prestige of the Pallavas by his conquests and artistic achievements. He is popularly known as Mamalla.
His reign of 39 years is full of significant events. Narasimhavarman decided to reconquer the territories lost by his father to the Chalukyas of Badami. He with the help of a King of Ceylon succeeded in defeating Pulakesin II in AD 642. He not only defeated him but also occupied Vatapi and as a mark of that assumed the title of Vatapikonda (the conqueror of Vatapi). He also undertook a successful naval campaign against the ruler of Ceylon. Besides these political victories, he made himself eternally remembered by introducing the Mamalla style of architecture.
Mamallapuram bears eloquent testimony to his style of architecture. Paramesawra Varman mentions his victory over the Chalukyas in his Kurram plates. Another event of great significance was the visit of Hiuen Tsang who provides a graphic description of the fertility of the soil, learning habits of the people, and the condition of Buddhism and Jainism in the Pallava kingdom. Narasimhavarman was succeeded by his son Mahendravarman II, who ruled only for a period of two years from AD 668 to 670.
His reign witnessed the invasion of the Chalukyas under Virkramaditya I, son of Pulakesin, who defeated him. Mahendravarman II was succeeded by his son Paramesvara Varman I. From the Udayendram plates, we come to know that he won a victory over the Chalukyas at Peruvalanallur. Paramesvara Varman was a known devotee of Siva and he built many temples for Siva and granted Parameswara Mangalam village to the Siva temple built by him at that village. Paramesvara Varman was succeeded by his son Narasimha Varman II, who ruled for 28 years from about AD 700-728.
He assumed the titles of Rajasimha (lion among kings), Agamapriya (lover of scriptures) and Sankarabhakta (devotee of Siva). True to his tide of Sankarabhakta, he built the Kailasanatha temple or Rajasimhesvaram at Kanchi, the Siva temple at Penamalai and a famous shore temple at Mamallapuram. We know from the inscription available at the Kailasanatha temple that he had a queen by name Rangapataka and the crown prince Mahendravarman III.
He patronized the famous poet Dandin. He sent an embassy to China. Interestingly the Chinese annals provide information regarding his efforts to counter act the efforts of the Arabs. Paramesvara Varman II, one of the sons of Narasimha Varman succeeded him and ruled for a short period of three years from about AD 728 to 731.
Once again, he had to face the invasion of the Chalukyas of Vatapi led by Vikramaditya, who was helped by a Ganga prince Nandivarman Pallava Malla, the next great Pallava ruler who ruled from AD 731 to 796. It is said that the Pallava kingdom was plunged into crisis after the death of Paramesvara Varman II. In that period of crisis, the officials of the court chose a twelve-year-old boy Nandivarman as the ruler. He had to fight against the contemporaneous Chalukya, Rashtrakuta and the Pandya kings.
Vikramaditya II of the Chalukyas of Vatapi appears to have gained a short-term victory over him. Rajasimha I, the Pandya king at Pennagadem, also defeated him. In these difficult days, the Pallavas entered into matrimonial alliance with Dantidurga of the Rashrakutas. Because of the marriage Dantivaman was born, who became the successor of Nandivarman Pailavamalla.
The construction of Vaikunta Perumal temple at Kanchi and patronage of Tirumangai Alwar suggest that he must be a Vaishnavite. He is also said to have built a temple at Kanchi known as Paramesvara Visnagaram and a Kesavaperumal temple at Karam. Dantivarman, the son and successor of Nandivarman Pallava Malla ruled from AD 796-847. He had to face the invasion of Govinda III of the Rashtrakuta line. The decline of the Pallava power set in during his reign.
The disintegration of the Pallava political power structure accelerated during the reign of Nandivarman III, who ruled from AD 847-849. He had the title of Avanivaranam and was defeated by the Pandyas at Kumbakonam. After his death, his three sons began to quarrel over succession and it gave scope for the Cholas and the Pandyas to participate in the civil war. In this civil war, Nrupatunga, one of the sons of Nandivarman III died and Aditya Chola and Kamavarman defeated Aparajita, another son. The last became a feudatory of the Cholas. The Pallava power ended.
Theoretically, the king was the sole source of authority. The Pallavas maintained that as they were the descendants of Brahma, the kingship was of divine origin and was hereditary. We find the election of a king when there was no direct heir to the throne, as happened in the case of Nandivarman Pallava Malla.
Generally, kings assumed high-sounding titles like Maharajadhiraja, Dharmartiaharajadhiraja and more unusual Agnistoma-Vajapeya-Aswamedhayaji. All these titles indicate the impact of the Aryan culture and the process of assimilation that took place during that period. As we are aware, the performance of Vedic sacrifice does not have any special significance as in the days of later Vedic age but during this period these performances appear to have had special political connotation as they served to legitimize the right to rule independently of the Pallava overlords. Owing to the change in religious milieu, we find a change in the ideal of kingship and performance of the Vedic sacrifices by kings disappear.
A number of ministers who appear to have gained more powers during the later Pallava rule assisted the king. These ministers also bore semi-royal titles and at times, they were appointed from among the subordinate allies or feudatories. These kings followed the practice of appointing a Yuvaraja or crown prince and generally, he played an active role in the administration or in wars as we come to know from the epigraphs of the period. Besides the ministers and the Yuvaraja, we come across a number of officials of various ranks who performed many duties on behalf of the king.
For administrative convenience, the kingdom was divided into a hierarchy of administrative units. The provincial administration was entrusted to a hierarchy of offices. In the Pallava kingdom, the Nadu the equivalent of the modern district emerged as the main unit of administration. Below the Nadu, we have villages. In the villages, the basic assembly was entrusted with matters relating to the village, like endowments, irrigational activities, cultivable land, and punishments of crime, census records and all other necessary activities. The Sabha that was a formal institution worked very closely with the Ur, an informal gathering of the entire inhabitants of the village.
The village headman acted as both the leader of the village and mediator with the government and was the link between the village assembly and the royal administration. As the king was regarded as the owner of the land, he had the right to make revenue grants to his officers, religious establishments, or get the land cultivated by small farmers and big property owners.
The predominant practice of this time was entrusting collection of land revenue right to big landlords. There existed both crown lands and private lands. Crown lands were rented out to tenants at will. Grants of lands were given to officers in lieu of salaries. We do not come across the practice of supplying troops or giving revenue to the state as was in the regular feudal structure.
As such, there is a controversy regarding the nature of relationship between the sovereign and minor rulers and chieftains or important royal dignitaries. There is one view that it was the ritual status of the anointed king that made minor chieftains or royal dignitaries obey him. Some others consider the minor rulers as feudatories but as we do not find feudal relation between the two, this view is discarded.
It is suggested that it would be better to designate them as subordinate allies instead of feudatories or ascribing ritual status to powerful rulers. A striking feature of the Pallava polity was the importance attached to innumerable local groups based on caste, craft, profession or religious faith.
We come across associations of artisans association of merchants, of ascetics, of temple priests each with its own samayadharma or code of conduct. In Pallava polity, we notice three important territorial assemblies: Ur, Sabha and Nagaram. Generally, the Ur was a non-Brahmanical assembly while the Nagara was an assembly of mercantile groups. All these local assemblies or bodies used to meet regularly every year while the day-to-day tasks were taken care of by a small executive body.
Every group had its autonomy in accordance with its own constitution based on custom and usage and solved the problems of members at the local level itself In matters of common interest affecting the lives of more than one group, decisions were arrived at after mutual consultations. By giving powers or accepting the decisions of the local autonomous corporate groups to resolve their problems at local level, the burden of the government was lessened largely and this strategy adopted by the Pallavas minimized the opposition of the people towards the government.
Though the Pallava rulers did not involve themselves at the local level, they seem to have strengthened their base by creating more and more Brahmadeya or Agrahara or Devadana villages. Interestingly, these Brahmana settlements were created throughout the core area of the kingdom, which depended on rice cultivation for its prosperity, and sustainability. In due course, the Sabha or Mahasabha of the Brahmin settlements evolved into a system of governance through committees.
This is known as Variyam or committee system, which became a hallmark of self-government in the Brahman settlements. The Sabha through its Variyam system supervised the maintenance of roads and tanks, management of charitable donations, regulation of irrigational rights and temple affairs. Consequently, the Brahmadeya and Agrahara villages became predominant during the Pallava period.
The people knew rice, coconut, palm plantations, palmyra and areca palm, orchards of mangoes and plantains. Many of the villages depended on tank irrigation and this land was known as Eripatti or tank. Besides tanks, they knew well-irrigation. Fitting of sluices regulated water flow through canals.
Two types of taxes were collected:
(i) Land revenue at the rate of one-sixth to one-tenth of produce value from each cultivator was collected and paid to the state and
(ii) A tax collected and utilized for local needs.
They also collected taxes on draught cattle toddy tappers, marriage parties and professions. The amount of tax levied on these was not known. Romila Thapar thinks that as there were no large areas under cultivation, the land revenue income of the Pallavas was small. There is a view that during this period the state did not receive substantial amount of income from trade and commerce.
Much of the royal revenue was spent on maintaining the army. The Pallavas appear to have depended on the standing army rather than on troops supplied by the subordinate allies.
The army consisted of infantry and cavalry alone. Chariots and elephants were almost absent. The Pallavas appear to have classified their officers as civil and military. They also developed navy and built dockyards at Mahabalipuram and Nagapattanam and developed maritime trade with South-East Asia, in particular with Kamboja, Cambodia, Champa (Annam), and Srivijaya, the southern Malay Peninsula and Sumatra seems to have flourished in the period.
The social structure of the Pallava period witnessed the growing impact of the Aryan culture. Because of this impact, a pre-eminent position was assigned to the Brahmins both in status and in grant of lands. Further, Aryanization was evident in the sphere of education.
During the Pallava period, the Brahmins superseded the Jains and the Buddhists in formulating policies. Though the Jaina and the Buddhist centres of education continued to exist, they lost the royal patronage. Ghatikas, the educational institutions catering to the needs of resurgent Sanantana Dharma were pervading. Every temple in general had a Ghatika attached to it.
Though in the beginning, any twice-born was admitted into these Ghatikas, gradually they became the centres of Brahmanical students. The Ghatikas in due course became important centres of political activity supporting the cause of monarchy as a political institution. In those days, the University of Kanchi was the most well-known educational institution comparable to the Nalanda University.
However, by the 8th century, the Matha, a combination of a rest house, a feeding centre and a seminary began to play a crucial role in the spread of education of a particular sect. Sanskrit continued to be the court language and the language of literature, Bharavi’s Kiratatjuniya and Dandin’s Dasakumaracharita, two outstanding standard Sanskrit works were produced in the South. On the other hand, the prominent Bhakti saints of this period popularized Tamil through their hymns and songs composed and sung in praise of the popular deities, Siva and Vishnu.
Tamil devotionalism that became very popular in the 6th and 7th centuries can be known from the Tamil songs and works of the Nayanar and the Alwar saints. Of the Saivite saints, the most popular was Appar, who converted king Mahendravarman to Saivism from Jaina faith. Another feature to be noticed is that the majority of these saints came from lower castes of artisans and cultivators.
The Bhakti movement led to the popularization of musical instruments like the flute, and the dance form of Bharatanatyam at temples. During the Pallava period, we notice some prosperous temples maintaining a group of dancers. The devotionalism in turn led to the construction of temples on a large scale, which reflected the Pallava style of art and architecture.
Percy Brown, the famous art historian and critic, points out: “of all the great powers that together made the history of Southern India, none had a more marked effect on the architecture of their reign than the earliest of all, that of the Pallavas, whose productions provided the foundation of the Dravidian style”. K.A.N. Sastri aptly observes that the Pallavas bridged the transition from rock architecture to structural stone temples.
The temple architecture of the Pallavas is divided into rock-cut and structural. The rock-cut temples are further divided into excavated pillared halls and monolithic shrines known as Rathas. Romila Thapar states, “Pallava temples were usually free standing buildings, but the tradition set by the Buddhists for cave temples still continued”.
The Brahmans and the Buddhists vied with each other in cutting shrines and temples into the Deccan hills, where, by this time, worship at these shrines may have been open to anyone, the rivalry between the two religions not being particularly felt by ordinary people. The most impressive of these cave temples are the Buddhist shrines at Ajanta and the Buddhist and Hindu temples at Ellora. Even the Jains joined in and excavated a few temples at the latter site.
Mahendravarman I started the building of the rock-cut temples in South India. He built Mahabalipuram or Mamallapuram, an immortal centre of artistic excellence by making it ‘the birth place of South Indian architecture and sculpture’. The excavated shrines initiated by Mahendravarman are simple pillared halls cut into the back or sides of walls.
An interesting feature of the cave temples built by Mahendravarman I am the presence of inscriptions giving details about them. For example, the cave temple at Madagapattu in South Arcot district refers to his construction of a temple dedicated to Vishnu, Siva and Brahma without using brick, mortar, timber or metal. He built a five-celled cave temple with an elaborate plan at Pallavaram near Madras. Four more cave temples were built at Mamamundur in North Arcot district.
He also built another temple for Siva at Siyamangalam, known as Avanibhanjana Pallaveswaram. The upper rock-cut temple at Tiruchiraplli is considered by far the best of his cave temples. Here in this temple, we notice the first representation of Gangadhara. Here we have direct evidence about his conversion to Saivism in the shape of an inscription treating Jainism as an alien faith.
A portrait of an individual worshipping Siva in this temple is identified as that of Mahendravarman himself He cut rock temples for Siva and for Vishnu. We find two Vishnu temples built by him in the North Arcot at Mahendravadi and Sivagaram known as Mahendra Vishnugriha and Ranganadha temple respectively. The Ekambareswara temple at Kanchi has a pillar mentioning his titles. As a Jain, prior to his conversion to Saivism, he built a cave temple at Sittanvassal.
It is said that a few sculptures found in the Gunadharmeswara temple belonged to his times. His subordinate Kandesina constructed a cave temple at Vallam, near Tirukkalakkunram. Post-Mahendravarman art and architectural pieces are found at Mamallapuram.
(i) Cut-in cave temples popularly known as Mandapas,
(2) Rock-cut monolithic temples popularly called Rathas,
(4) Bas-relief sculptures found in the open air on rocks.
Of the first category of cave temples, only some are nearly complete and they are of modest proportion. The plan of these cave temples is not the same. At some places, the sanctums are cut at the batkwall. In others, we find them projected into the hall from the rear wall.
We also notice a pillared pavilion in front beside the sanaums, and sanctums cut in the outer wall of the rock face. Thus, we find no uniform pattern. The main factor seems to have been the convenience of the architect. While most of the caves are plain without sculptures, the Mahishasuramardini cave, the Adivaraha cave, the Varaha and the Trimurti caves have sculptures. Differing from the other cave temples, the Panchapandava cave was the biggest cave with sanctum in the centre with provision for a circumbulatory path around. In the other category, the most famous are the Panchapandavarathas or seven Pagodas, of Dharmaraja, Bhima, Arjuna, Draupadi and Sahadeva.
These are not uniform in shape. While Draupadi Ratha is a simple hut-shaped temple, the Arjuna Ratha is two storeyed, the Bhima Ratha is a rectangular Vimana and Dharmaraja Ratha is three storeyed. Their plans are also different. The Sahadeva Ratha is an apsidal temple with a portico in front. The other three Rathas are of Ganesha, Pillari and Valaiyam Kuttai.
There is a controversy regarding the ruler who built these at Mamallapuram. Some are of the view that they were built during the reigns beginning with that of Narasimhavarman and ending with Narasimhavarman Rajasimha. Some others ascribe them to Rajasimha based on the epigraphical evidence that appears to be more rational. The Pallava age saw a transition from rock-cut architecture to free-standing temples. Rajasimha was responsible for this transition.
He is credited with the construction of three structural temples at Mamallapuram. The most significant of them is the shore temple, which happens to be the earliest free-standing temples in South India. Rajasimha also built such structural temples at Panamalai and at Kanchi.
Kailasanatha temple built at Kanchi has all the features of the Pallava style, a Pyramidal Viman and a detached pillared hall or Mandapa in front. In later centuries, Arthamandapa joined the Mandapa and the other structures. His successors also continued the temple building activity.
Temples were built at Oragadam, Tiruttani and Gudimallam. Mulakeswara and Matangeswara temples were built at Kanchi. While the pillars of the Mamalla style are slender and supported by squatting lions, rampant lions support the pillars of Rajasimha style, which are also slender. K.A.N. Sastri observes that to the Pallavas, however, belongs the credit of having kept up and developed the tradition of Amaravati, and transmitted it to lands beyond the seas where in course of time there arose vast monuments that threw even the splendid achievements of the mother country into the shade.
The Pallava rock-cut caves and structural temples are filled with sculptures. The sculptures in the rock-cut cave temples display well-rounded limbs, an elongated face, a double chin, snubnose and thick lips. During the post-Mahendravarman times, both religious and secular paintings are found in abundance.
Sculptural depictions that received the acclaim of art critics were found at Mamallapuram. They are depictions of Lord Krishna lifting Mount Govardhana, Arjuna’s penance and the killing of Mahishasura. Various forms of Siva such as Lingodbhava mounts and Tripurantaka are depicted in sculptural panels. The favourite theme of the sculptors appears to be different forms of Siva.
The tiny Gopura makes its earliest appearance here. The Pallava age witnessed a lot of development in the field of painting also. The rich heritage of the Pallava paintings can be seen in the Jain cave temple at Sittanvassal, the Kailasanath temple at Kanchi and the Talagiriswara temple at Panamalai.
In these paintings, dark colours predominate and the painters appear to have used dry surface that was given a thin coat of lime. In the words of Romila Thapar “to cover the walls of deep cut caves with murals was an achievement of no mean order, considering the difficulty of inadequate lighting and poor working conditions in these caves and structural temples”. In those days, the colours were made from minerals and plants and their uniqueness is that they retain some of their original brilliance.
The paintings were both religious and secular. It is already stated how music was patronized by them. In conclusion, it can be said that during the Pallava period the penetration of the Aryan culture of North India into the South led to the assimilation of some of the patterns, ideas and institutions and rejection or modification of certain other aspects. Tamil devotional culture was one of the results of this interaction. The Pallavas consciously laid foundation for a synthesis of the broad based Indian culture and made their place in the history of India secure.
The longest of Five Rathas, the 12.8 m long, 7.3 m wide, 7.6 m high structure is built in Gopura style with gabled roof. It is said to be devoted to Anantshayi Vishnu as a large bas relief of Vishnu in the form of Sayanamurti is located inside. The building remains unfinished but fascinating. The sanctuary has a circumambulatory passage around it. Pillars of the shrine are adorned with figures of lions.
The Chapters of the Mahabharata story
Mahabharata story Episode: I
In the first episode, the sage Vaishampayan, at the atonement sacrifice of King Janmejaya, recited the Mahabharata to him and the people present, and after hearing that story, Lameharshaputra began to recite the story of Shaunak and other sages who performed the sacrifice.
This episode contains the identity of the Bhrigu dynasty, the Kurubangas, the stories of Maharaja Shantanu and Bhishma, the birth of the Pandavas and Kauravas, the burning of the Jatugriha, the marriage of the Pandavas and Draupadi and the Khandabavandah by Krishnarjuna.
The second episode is about the construction of the palace of the Pandavas at Indraprastha by Maidanab, the acquisition of the emperor’s post by Yudhisthira in Rajsuya Yajna and the jealousy of the Kauravas.
The Episode 3 calls forest period, there is a 12-year-long forest life and hearing of various stories of the Pandavas, Arjuna’s acquisition of various divine weapons, Krishna’s arrogance of misery, Jayadratha’s Draupadi abduction.
The Episode 4 is big episode where disguise with King Virat in Matsyade in the eyes of the rationalist, Gita, Ramayana, Mahabharata etc. Shelter of Panchpandava and Draupadi, defeat of Kauravas in battle, Uttara Aminur.
Udyogaparva includes preparations for the Great War on behalf of the Pandavas and Kauravas, Arjuna and Duryodhana going to Dwarka in prayer for Yadav’s help, Arjuna’s attainment of Krishna, Krishna’s visit to Hastinapur as the peace envoy of the Pandavas
The Episode 6 is Bhishma period, there is the beginning of war, Arjuna’s sadness in the battlefield philosophy, Krishna’s speech and worldview, Krishna’s anger and throwing of arms at Bhishma’s power, Arjuna’s suppression of Bhishma and construction of Sharasya.
The Episode 7 is Drona episode, Drona is accepted as commander-in-chief, Abhimanyu is killed by Saptarathi, Jayadratha is killed, Drona is killed by Dhrishtadyumna in the guise of Yudhisthira’s false sentence.
The episode 8 is the Karna episode, Karna is accepted as commander-in-chief, misrule by Bhima, fall of Karna’s chariot in Medina and death by Arjuna on that occasion.
This episode calls surgical period here includes the last day of the war, the slaughter, the vulture slaughter by Sahadeva, the breaking of Duryodhana’s thigh by Bhima and the death of Duryodhana.
The 10 episode is the Sauptik episode, there is a secret night in the Pandava camp of Ashwatthama Entering, the five sons of the sleeping Draupadi, the killing of Dhrishtadyumnadi, the battle of Ashvathama and Arjuna, the abduction of the divine head of Ashvathama.
Mahabharata story Episode: XI
In the feminine phase, there is the crushing of iron by Dhritarashtra, the mourning of the bereaved and the burial of corpses, Gandhari’s curse on Krishna.
The 12 episode is the Peace Period, Yudhisthira’s inauguration to the throne, Bhishma’s advice and explanation of religion to Yudhisthira.
Anushasanaparva contains the ascension of Bhismadeva and the reign of Yudhisthira.
This episode is Ashwamedha Episode here contains Yudhisthira’s Ashvamedha Yajna, Arjuna’s journey to Digvijaya, Bhavrubahana and Arjuna’s battle.
Mahabharata story Episode: XV
15 episode calls Ashram Basik episode, there is the adoption of Banprastha by Dhritarashtra, Gandhari, Kunti and Bidur, the death of Bidur, the death of the rest by fire.
In the Mausala period, there is the curse of the sages on the Jadubalakas, the destruction of the Jadu dynasty in the Prabhasa Mausala war, the great love of Balarama and Krishna, the fall of Dwarka.
Mahabharata story Episode: XVII
In the Mahaprasthanik episode, there is the departure of Pandava and Draupadi to Mahaprasthan, the fall of Draupadi, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva.
In the ascension phase, there is the test of Yudhisthira by religion, the hellish vision of Yudhisthira, the ascension of Panchpandava and Draupadi.
Period of composition of Mahabharata story
Although the main story of the Mahabharata has been prevalent as a myth since the eighth century BC. The first compositions began in the fourth century BC. This is like different historians.
Since the Mahabharata story has been written for hundreds of years, there is no doubt that different authors are associated with it. Some parts of the Mahabharata were later added at different times.
Different versions at different times in the Mahabharata story
The story of the Mahabharata changed differently over time. As a result, it becomes difficult to grasp the main story. To solve this problem, the Bhandarekar Institute of Oriental Studies in Pune (196-1919) searched and collected almost all the manuscripts (about 10,000) of the Mahabharata found all over South Asia and published a critical version of the Mahabharata with 35,000 verses of the same type found in that script. The 13,000-page book, consisting of 18 volumes, is popular with people all over the world.
It is difficult to say, who was the first to translate the Mahabharata into Bengali. However, in the seventeenth century, a poet named ‘Kashiram Das’ is known to have composed ‘Bharat Panchali’ or ‘Kashidasi Mahabharata’ in ‘Pyaar Kavya Chhand’. This is the most popular and well-known Kashidasi Mahabharata in Bengal.
Kaliprasanna Singh also wrote the Mahabharata in prose in six volumes, and it became very popular in the Bengali aristocracy.
Over time, various regional versions of the Mahabharata have been published, most of which have slightly altered the original story or added to the contemporary conventional story. There are three separate versions of the Mahabharata in India — North Indian, South Indian and Malabari. The Mahabharata is mentioned in various texts of the people such as Garibansha Puran Pabpuran etc.
The lust of sages in the Mahabharata story
In the Mahabharata, we see that when the beautiful Nara of the Muni-Eids were seen they would go out and have sleep with them. They thought it was semen in a yajna kund or pitcher
If left, there will be children. Women have no role to play in childbearing. Parashar Ridhi, the father of Bedavas, came to the river Jamuna and saw the smell of fish. Matsyagandha ‘Naeka was crossing then. He fell in love with the amazing smell of fish and climbed into his boat in the heat of the boat crossing.
Then Parashar Muni had sleep with Matsyagandha. The smell of fish forbids her to have sleep because of the smell of fish on her body. Parashar then made him ‘Jaejangandha’ meaning ‘musk’. But for fear of catching everyone’s eye, Matsyagandha Parashar told Muni to wait till night. Meanwhile, the dam of work is broken in Parashar.
Kurukshetra is call ‘Dharmakshetra’. It is known as the battlefield of the Koks and Pandavas. In the Jabal Upanishads ‘O’ Satpath Brahman it mentioned as the force of the gods. The ancient name of Kurukshetra is Samantapanchake Prashuram’s father killed all the Kshatriyas in the world in this place in the Mahabharata. In ancient times Rajarki Kuru used to do this place all the time.
Kuru says that Ray will die in this place, his sins will be erased and he will go to heaven. Then the gods Indraka said, if Kuru is not to be plowed or stopped, if man dies in the rough he will be able to go to his heaven and the gods will not share the sacrifice. Indra then forbade Kuru to cultivate – Bay Lake will die here bored or Buddha, he will be able to go to heaven. Kuru agreed.
Kauravas and the Pandavas
The Kauravas and the Pandavas had a Buddha for 18 days. Seven Pandavas were alive. Yudhisthira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula, Sahadeva, Sri Krishna and Satyaki. And three survived for Kaurava. Kripacharya, Kritavarma, Ashvatthama.
To the south-east of Thaneswar in Haryana is a district called Kurukshetra. Its area is 1,530 square kilometers. It is said that the battle of Kurukshetra took place over one-fifth of the district. So the name of this district is Kurukshetra. Eighteen Akshauhini forces took part in the battle at Kurukshetra.
One Akshauhini says that the army has one hundred and ninety thousand three hundred and fifty infantry, sixty five thousand six hundred and ten horses, twenty one thousand eight hundred and seventy elephants and twenty one thousand eight hundred and seventy chariots with two hundred and eighteen thousand seven hundred soldiers.
Then the eighteen Akshauhini is forty-nine lakh thirty-six thousand six hundred soldiers. These were Krishna’s soldiers who fought for the Kauravas. Besides, the Kauravas had a huge army and the Pandavas also had a huge army. How did such a huge army fight in Oituku place according to Kurukshetra? Where did they eat? Where did you sleep and Where did you do breakfast? This is a big story from the story of the cow tree.
The millions of soldiers who died in the war all went to heaven. But how big is heaven? What is the place of so many soldiers there? What do they play there? Do they drink seamstresses and have sleep with sixty million apsara prostitutes in heaven?
Incest and sex in the Mahabharata story
After the death of Satyavati’s eldest son, Bhishma married Ambika and Ambalika to another son, Bichitravirya. Shortly after the marriage, Bichitravirya died childless. Mother Satyavati, in fear of descent, requested Krishna Dvaipayana Basa, a virgin of her virginity, to produce a child in the womb of her two daughters-in-law.
As a result, Ambika’s blind son Dhritarashtra was born! Dhritarashtra was blind, Bedavas was about to have sleep with Ambalika. As a result, Pandu was born. When Ambika menstruates again, Satyavati tells her to go to the diameter. But Ambika frightened and sends one of his beautiful maids as Bedavas’s bedfellow and Bidur is born from her.
Gandhari, the wife of Dhritarashtra, gave a gift by Vyasadeva and she will be the mother of a hundred sons. Gandhari became pregnant in time. But within two years the child was born. Gandhari saddened to hear that Krimbhi’s child had born and aborted himself without informing Dhritarashtra. Out of the womb came a hard flesh, according to Leah.
When Gandhari tried to destroy it, on the advice of Byasadeva, he soaked the meat in cold water. And he divided the hundred and put it in a jug of ghee. A year later Duryodhana and a year and a month later another hundred sons and a daughter named Duhshala had born.
In the age of Mahabharata, married or virgin girls could have fun with other men and that did not at all reprehensible.
Kunti once got a mantra by appeasing Durbasa Muni in service. Durbasa says that whoever you call with this mantra will come and have sleep with you. Kunti is still a virgin. He chanted mantras to have sleep with the sun. The sun made her have sleep. And in due time the ear is born.
But Kunti, the son of a virgin mother, floated Karna in the water on behalf of the society. Where will the nature of intercourse after that! After marrying Pandu, he invited Dharmaraj to have sleep. Dharmaraja had sleep with satisfaction and Yudhisthira was born. Meanwhile, Kunti’s polygamous rage has spread. Called the wind. He had sleep with Kunti and Bhim was born.
He then summoned Yuvraj Indra. Arjuna was born in the union of Indra and Kunti. Meanwhile, Madhuri saw all this and said to Kunti, teach me the mantra too. Madhuri then called Ashwini and Kumar to have sleep. Nakul and Sahadeva were born with the sleep of Ashwini and Kumar.
The stories of Kunti and Madri’s sexual promiscuity or religion fueled women in the human society of that time. Kunti was not monogamous. She was polygamous. The men and women of that era were also polygamous.
Draupadi, the daughter of Panchal Raj Drupada, revered as one of the Sati. She has five husbands. Yudhisthira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakul and Sahadeva.
Women had humiliated everywhere in the Mahabharata. At that time women seen only as a commodity. Hundreds of beautiful young women donated to Brahmins in any religious ceremony or yajna.
Then the eagle asked the king to pray to Jayati. He was unable to pay so much due to lack of financial resources. But he handed over his daughter Madhavi to Galbe. He asked Madhavi to pay rent to other kings.
Galab took Madhavi to Harishwar, the king of Ayadhya. Hashwa wants to have sleep with Madhavi instead of giving her two hundred hugs and expresses her desire to have one child in her womb. Then Madhabi told Jayati that every time she gave birth, she would become a virgin again. The groom gave her a muni.
So Madhavi had sleep with Hashwar and two other kings namely Kashiraj Dibadas and Vajraj Ushinar and gave birth to three children. From these three, Galab got Mate 600 Ghara by hiring Madhavi. We still need 200 more horses.
But Garuda told Galb that such a neck would no longer found. So he asked Bishwamitra to give this 600 ghaerai. Galab gave 600 rounds to Bishwamitra. And asked Madhavi to have sleep instead of the remaining 200.
Bishwamitra dissatisfied and said, “If I could have had sleep with this girl earlier, I would have had four children.” However, Bishwamitra broke Madhavi and produced a child in her womb.
Bishwamitra went to the forest with her child, religion and money. Go through Madhabi to Galbe. Galab brought Madhavi in the hands of her father Jayati. When Swayambhara held a meeting for the marriage of Jayati’s daughter, Madhabi rejected the marriage and went to the forest to observe celibacy and save religion.
In the Mahabharata, Dhritarashtra said to have been very prosperous and wealthy. But where did so much wealth and money come from? He did not cultivate paddy or cow-rearing?
The common man had accumulated so much wealth by ruthlessly exploiting it. And they used to live a luxurious life with the wealth of this booty. The Pandavas were the same. They also subjugated the people, enslaved the Shudras and amassed wealth.
The battle of Kurukshetra is for truth at all, not for religion. In every case of war lies, deceptions have been resorted to. Krishna himself has said that the Kauravas are great warriors.
The Pandavas could never lose a battle like theirs. If the Pandavas had not resorted to such deceptions in war, they would never have won and gained the kingdom. So the battle between the Pandavas and the Kauravas, fought for the sake of gaining power and wealth.
Disrespect in the Mahabharata Story
Shudras and women had no respect in the age of Mahabharata. Because Eklavya was a Shudra, Dronacharya cut off his thumb. The five sons of the Nishad nation and their mother were burnt to death by the Pandavas in their sleep after being shown the lure of eating delicious good food in the zoo. This is a heinous act.
In the dice game, without Draupadi’s permission, Yudhisthira bet Draupadi on the product. No one protested against it, not even Gandhari became a woman. Everyone in the Kaurava dynasty involved in the heinous act of undressing Draupadi equally.
In the episode of Bakrakshas Badh, we see the Brahmani saying that there is no harm if a Brahmani or a married woman dies after producing children after marriage. Because men get married to produce children. And she gave birth to a son and a daughter. Brahmani has been successful in being born as a woman. If the wife dies, the men can remarry. But when the husband died, the wife forbidden to remarry.
Pancha Pandava Rathas
28 Tuesday Dec 2010
Till now we have seen the rock-cut temple where a rock face is excavated deep to form a verandah and to accommodate one or more cells on the back wall. Also well known is the fact that Mahendravarman I started this rock-cut shrine fashion in South India. As all the cave temple only show the two dimensional representation of your thoughts what if someone wants to represent his ideas in three dimensions and keeping the long lasting characteristic of rocks. This is where we see the brilliance of Mahendra’s successor Narasimhavarman I Mamalla when he started a new style, carving the temple out of a monolith, locally called as Rathas. The freshness of these rathas are still the same as it looks that these were finished very recently. A Ratha literally meant a car or chariot. In old times, as well as in present, the temples used to have their cars in which the main deities were put during the processions. However these carved monoliths do not look like a chariot but a full blown temple itself. The sculptors started from the top as noticed from their incomplete state at the bottom. There are total of ten such rathas at Mahabalipuram. We have already see the Ganesha Ratha earlier. We will visit the others now.
The Pancha Pandava Rathas actually have nothing to do with the Pandavas. It was a custom in the earlier period to associate a construction to a mystical figure and moreover the number of constructions are five. Four out of five rathas are carved out of a single whale-back rock which has a gradual increase in height from north to south. This rock is utilized in its fullest and from it came out four magnificent specimen of Pallava architecture. Most of the scholars assign these constructions to Narasimhavarman I Mamalla, however some of these might have been completed by his successor Parameshvaravarman I.
The Draupadi Ratha is the smallest of the group and located on the northern most end of the rock. Being the smallest and dedicated to female goddess, this is named so. In architectural style, this looks like a thatched roof of Bengal where curvilinear roof is usually topped upon the structure. This kind of huts would have been quite in use not only in Bengal but other parts of India, such as in present time also we see such huts in our villages. The finial would have been placed in old time, however now it is missing. This west facing ratha is constructed on a high rise platform, which is supported on a large alternating elephant and lion heads frieze. The front facade has two female dvarapalas, proper right one holding a sword and proper left one holding a bow. At the corners of the roof is seen beautiful creeper designs.
On the back wall of the cell inside, is a magnificent image of Durga. She is shown standing on a lotus. Depicted with four hands, she is carrying a sankha and chakra in her upper hands while her one lower hand is in abhaya mudra and another lower hand is resting on her waist. There are two devotees, left one trying to cut his head in offerings to the goddess while the right one is offering flowers. The devotee on the left is shown with long tresses and he is holding those in order to keep his neck tight to accommodate smooth cutting. We also see four ganas (goblins) on the upper side of the panel, two on either side of the goddess. Two, at extreme ends, are shown holding a small sword while the two inner ones are shown with one hand raised in adoration.
There are three niches carved at the three walls of this ratha. The niches are carved within two pilasters and are shown an icon of Durga who is standing on a buffalo head, which represents Mahishasura, the buffalo demon. In her upper hands she carries sankha and chakra while her one lower hand is in abhaya mudra and another resting on her waist. In front of this ratha is carved a 6 feet high lion out of a boulder. As the ratha is dedicated to Durga hence her lion in front and this shows the utilization at the maximum, simply outstanding.
The Arjuna Ratha is west facing and measures 11.5 feet by 16 feet and 20 feet high. It shares the platform with the Draupadi Ratha. This is a two storey complex with a octagonal dome like structure on the top. This top would have been adorned with a finial, as this finial can be seen on the platform near this shrine. The front facade is supported on two pillars and two pilasters on the front. The pilasters are supported by lions, which are shown facing each other. The second storey (first floor) has eight niches adorned with couples, two on each side. There is a small mandapa in front which leads into the garbha-griha which is a almost square cell of 4.5 feet by 5 feet in size. The Garbha-griha is empty now, but it was reported by earlier historians that they found a head with trisula prongs. Hence this structure seems to be dedicated to Shiva. The niche images on external walls also supports this deduction.There was not much space for dvarpalas inside the cell or in mandapa hence those are carved on external walls.
On north niche is shown Vishnu on Garuda. Vishnu is shown carrying sankha and chakra and shown in the act of mounting on to Garuda. On proper rig ht to this niche is shown a couple and proper left niche is empty. On the corner niches are shown two dvarpalas, with one hand raised in adoration. On east wall is shown Subramanya on his mount, elephant in the central niche. As Indra is also depicted with his elephant so this could be Indra as well, however as the monument is dedicated to Shiva hence Subramanya seems to be better fit. Also his headdress is similar to the Subramanya image of Trimurti Cave, hence this image on this ratha can be treated as of Subramanya. On its proper right niche are shown two female figures, in which one figure is of great beauty and grace. On proper left niche is shown a sage with his disciple. On corner niches are shown dvarpalas, in which the proper right one is shown holding a bow and other one with one hand raised in adoration. On southern wall, in middle niche, is shown Shiva where he is shown leaning against his mount, Nandi, the bull. On the either side of this niche are shown two couples, one in each niche. On corner niches are shown dvarpalas, with one hand raised in adoration. On the east of the ratha is a figure of Nandi, the mount of Shiva. As there was no rock found in front of the ratha hence the artists carved this out in the rock at the backside of the monument. In such a case, the artists were able to carve the face of Nandi facing the shrine, as seen in orthodox style.