Who are Sangam Cheras

There are two cheras . Sangam cheras and Medieveal cheras.

Sangam Cheras
Early cheras were in Tamil Nadu in what is today Karur, Coimbatore,Erode and salem districts in Tamil Nadu. Had their capital in Vanchi, present day Karur. The only source available for us regarding the early Chera Kings is the anthologies of the Sangam literature. There is a lot of dispute on the age of sangam literature. The internal chronology of this literature is still far from settled. The Sangam literature is full of names of the kings and the princes, and of the poets who extolled them. Despite a rich literature that depicts the life and work of these people, these are not connected history to history so far. Their capital is stated to be modern Karur in Tamilnadu and were also called Kongars.

Ganga rule
If we see other rulers at that time. Gangas who also ruled some parts of kongu nadu(Karur, Coimbatore,Erode and salem districts in Tamil Nadu), do not show any signs of presence of Cheras in the neibhourhood. Even though they ruled same parts of Kongu nadu in tamil nadu at the same time as sangam cheras, they did not have any conflict or any relation with cheras that is puzziling and is one of the reasons of dismissing the sangam sources.

Epigraphic sources
  1. Ashoka girinar inscription say keraputo
  2. Periplus of erythraeon sea mention Muziris cited as musiri in sangam literature
  3. Ptolemy refers to Muziris, Nelcynda and tyndis in kingdom of keraputra
  4. Pugalur (Aranattarmalai) inscription. This inscription refers to three generations of Chera rulers Adam Cel Irrumporai, his son Perumkadungo, and his son Ilamkadungo. But this inscription is highly disputed.
  5. Jambai inscription tells about atiyaman found in sangam literature. Also this inscription is highly disputed.
  6. GajaBahu synchronism, which we have discussed in silapathikaram article
The sangam literature has a name for people of kerala - malayan, most literatures at that time mentions keralites as malayan and cheras are mentioned in their respective king names like ori, Ayi, poriyan,Cheral, Kuttuvan, Irumporai, Athan and Kothai.

Aihole inscriptions mention kadamba rulers in kerala

So there is no clarity on the sangam chera rule. By sangam anthologies the date should be around second century AD. The Ganga rulers seems no knowledge of them. Many of the sangam works have loopholes like Gajabahu synchronism. Eventhough the sangam literature talks of chera rulers, the rulers in inscriptions called themselves as ai's , ori's. The foreign sources mention about ports of west coast. We do not know if chera is kerala in ancient times. The only sources girinar inscription of ashoka talks about keraputo, again we do not know it means kerala or chera. so the arguement continues.

1 comment:

  1. Hi
    Can you tell me about the origin of Pandyan & Chera kings? We all know that Sage Agastya the founder of Sangam tradition came from North India, did Chera & Pandyans also migrated to South from North or they were native dravidian kings who gave patronage to Agastya?
    I read somewhere that Vedic King Turvasha is the forefather of Chera & Pandyans, what do you think ??


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