In contrast to the present age, when some corrupt government officials swindle public money under the pretext of carrying out certain civic works, it is surprising that the king Raja Raja Chola recorded in his stone inscriptions even a little contribution made by a poor kitchen maid for the construction of the majestic Brihadeeswarar Temple in Thanjavur.
Throwing light on this and various other glories of the king, R. Nagaswamy, Former Director, Department of Archaeology, Government of Tamil Nadu, said:
“Raja Raja Chola has mentioned the contribution made by an Adukkalai Pendu (Kitchen maid) in a stone inscription, as he wanted to document even a commoner’s gift to the deity”
Addressing the seven-day exhibition on the Big Temple of Thanjavur in the city, organized by the Coimbatore chapter of INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage) on Saturday evening, the octogenarian archeologist pointed out:
“Based on certain Sanskrit stone inscriptions, I do not agree with the general opinion of many other historians, who say that temples are mere institutions of social and financial administration. I am sure that they were built only for the cause of devotion” he added.
The controversial archeologist, who earned the wrath of several Tamil scholars for his opinion that Tamil got the classical language status only by the assistance of Sanskrit in his book The Mirror of Tamil and Sanskrit, noted:
“A stone inscription in Sanskrit found at Mahabalipuram reads that a king had constructed a temple for the cause of his deep devotion to God. Besides, another inscription provides a piece of information that a king built a shrine so that he would receive the blessings of his departed parents” added Nagaswamy, reciting the lines in Sanskrit.
The archeologist informed that the stone inscription on the construction of the Big Temple was first deciphered by E. Hultzsch, a German indologist and epigraphist in 1886.
“Had Hultzsch not done so, the people would not have known that the shrine was built by Raja Raja Chola” he said.
Listing the contributions made by the public to the construction of the shrine, Nagaswamy noted:
“Raja Raja Chola’s stone inscriptions provide the details of all the gifts made by the public accurately. Helping the king in building the shrine, the devout people of Thanjavur presented him gold, sardonix, emerald and pearl. And the king has recorded their details both in number and quantity. What’s surprising is that the monarch has recorded the value of gold in the ornaments, appraising it both by including and excluding its cotton strings”
“The king got every detail of the gifts inscribed on stone, since he felt that the wealth donated by the devotees to the God was accounted clearly and the accounts should withstand the test of time”
Shankar Vanavarayar, Convener, INTACH, Coimbatore chapter, welcomed the gathering, Babaji Rajah Bhonsle, Senior prince and hereditary trustee of Thanjavur Big Temple, Vikram Sampath, Executive Director, Indira Gandhi Centre for the Arts, South Zone and Ramachandra Prasad, Co-convener, INTACH, Coimbatore chapter, spoke in the function.