Date of Devaram (Thevaram Trio)

We are looking at the Dates of Appar, Sambandhar and Sundarar known as tevaram Trio. We are comparing the historical dates of these saints versus claims by dravidian scholars. Let us first see at the terms Thirupadiyam and Devaram.

Thirupadiyam

The earliest epigraphical reference to the recitation of Thiruppadiyam, occurs in the middle of the 9th century, in the reign of the Pallava ruler Nandivarman III circa 845 A.D. found in the Siva emple of Thiruvallam. It records the gift of a village for maintaining several services in the temple by a certain Vikramaditya Mabali Vanarayan(Bana King). It includes provisions for food offerings, the Sivabhramanas performing worship, Sribali (drummers), for makers of flower garlands, and singers of Thiruppadiyam. Four hundred kadi of paddy is prescribed as annual payment for the last two categories of services.

The word Thiruppadiyam in inscriptions is generally taken by Dravidian scholars to refer to the Tevaram hymns of Saint Appar, Sambandar and Sundarar. But Thirupadiyam Thiru(Sanskrit Sri) + Padiyam (Singing or Reading or chanting) does not translate to Devaram, it translates to singing or reading or chanting holy prayers or hymns or recitals. The Thirupadiyam is not only sung in Siva and Vaishnava temples but jain shrines too. How can Devaram a saiva work be sung in Jain temples. So the term simply means holy recitals not Devaram by the Trio.

Thirupadiyams History
When Ramanuja started spreading his philosophy, he found that most of the scholars are committed to Sankara, So Ramanuja had created 74 aharyapurushas with hereditory rights of succession to spread vishistadvaita philosophy and temple worship, in contrast to sankara's teachings. Due to paucity of scholars, non- brahmins were also given seal of authority to convert. However, Vedas were restricted to Brahmins..

"While the recitation of Vedas was the monopoly of the Brahmins the recitation of Prabandhams was made the common right of all castes and both sexes." as per Raghavacharya.



Term Devaram

The term Tevaram also occurs in a jaina context, earlier, meaning a place of worship. The term Tevaram is mentioned in Saivite context in other places.

 A 27th year record of Rajaraja I in the temple of Siva at Allur in Trichy district refers to the recitation of Thiruppadiyams by a certain Ambalattadi Thirunavukkaraiyan, at the Devara in the sthana matha of Vadakudi Mahadeva temple. The relevant portion of the text reads: (Thiru Vadakudi Mahadevar sthana mathattu Devarattukku Thiruppadiyan Vinnappam Ceyyum Ambalattadi Thiruavukkaraiyan (675 of SII VIII). The inscription is explicit in its statement that Thiruppadiyam was recited at the Devaram of the sthana matha, thereby clearly stating that the term Devaram stands for a sacred place of worship and does not refer to the devaram of the Trio.

This is further confirmed by another inscription at Tanjore, recorded in the time of Rajendra I, son of Rajaraja. Dated in the 19th year of Rajendra I, it records certain gifts made by the king while he was seated at the cloistered hall of Devara, situated in the north, of the Mudikonda cholan Palace at Gangaikondacholapuram. Obviously the Devaram mentioned here is a place of worship (domestic) within the royal palace.

Another inscription dated in the reign of Rajendra (Kullotunga I) at Manambadi-Tanjore District, a certain nangur Maraikkadan alias Patanjali Pidara, served as Devara Nayaka to Rajendra Chola. Obviously he was looking after the place of worship of the ruler. This would show that even in the 12th century the word Devaram stood for a place of worsip only and did not mean the sacred hymns of the three saints.

A record of Kiranur, Tanjore Disstrict dated in the reign of Rajaraja I, 7th year 992 A.D., states that Thiruppadiyam singer stood in front and recited, Vilakam ner Thiruppadiyami. The reciters stood in front of Devaram and sung the hymns, called Devarattu Thiruppadiyam, which during the passage of time came to be called simply Devaram, jettisioning the second member and thus the hymns themselves came to be called Devarams. The term Devaram is derived probably Devagaram i.e. place of God-worship and should have been prakritized as Devaram like Bhandagaram becoming Bhandaram and Koshtagaram becoming Kottaram.

From the examples we see that the Neither Thirupadiyam not Devaram in inscriptions refers to the hymns sung by the Trio.



Thirumurai

Thirumurai is a twelve volume compendium of hymns in the praise of Shiva by various poets in South India. Nambi Andar Nambi compiled the first seven volumes by Appar, Campantar and Cuntarar as Tevaram. During the course of time, a strong necessity was felt by scholars to compile Saiva literature to accommodate other works. Tiruvacakam and Tirukovayar by Manickavasagar is included as eighth, nine parts are compiled as ninth Tirumurai out of which most are unknown, tenth as Tirumandiram by Tirumular the famous Siddhar. Eleventh is compiled by Karaikal Ammaiyar, Cheraman Perumal and others. The contemparary Chalukya Chola king was impressed by the work of Nambi and included Nambi's work in the eleventh Tirumurai. Sekkizhar's Periya Puranam, composed a century later, contains the life depiction of all the 63 nayanmars. The response for the work was tremendous among Saiva scholars that it was included as the 12th Tirumurai. Tirumurai along with Vedas and Saiva agamas from the basis of Saiva Siddantha philosophy in Tamil Nadu. 63 Alwars and Nayanmars is a list compiled by Sekkilar in Kulothunga III court.

Periyapuranam
The Periya Puranam or Tiruttondar Puranam is a Tamil poetic account depicting the legendary lives of the sixty-three Nayanars, the poets of Tamil Shaivism. It was compiled during the 12th century by Sekkilar during the rule of Kullottonga Chola III.

Names of Saints in Inscriptions

Let us see the reciters of Thirupadiyam, whose names are recorded in inscriptions. The reciters, whose names are recorded, are seen with two names (1) the surname and (2) the diksha name (names assumed during initiation). The intiatory names show that all of them underwent Siva diksha. The diksha names include any one of the five of names of Sadasiva, as Tatpurusha Siva, Aghora Siva, Vamasiva, Isana Siva, Sadasiva, or Rudrasiva. Other names included are Netra Siva, Hrdaya Siva, Sikha, Kavaca, Jnana, Vyoma, Yoga, Dharma, Satya, Purva and Omkara all ending the honorofic Siva. Among their surnames, seven reciters bear the name Thirunavukkaraiyan, five the name Aruran. (Among the names of other 63 saints, assumed by the reciters, Sirala occurs twice and none else). The names as recorded in inscriptions are interesting. We don't come across Appar, Sundarar and sambandar in chola inscriptions.

A point of interest worthy of note is that in the temple of Tanjore, the images of 63 saints, were not consecrated. Except the images of Siruttonda with his wife and son Sirala, and the image of Miladudaiyar, other saints are not mentioned. The Period we are talking here is as early as Chalukya chola king Kulothunga.

Let us look at the Saints in Historical Context.
..

Alvars and Nayanaras
The Pantheon of Alvar came after the times of Nathamuni and Ramanuja during their time they got wide acceptance. Until then Alvar means only Nammalvar. Nammalvar Tiruvoymoli is the first prabhandhams made known to tamil world.

First Twelve Alwars

Poigai, Bhutam, Pey, Thondar-adip-podi, Tirumazhisai aka Bhaktisara, Paanan, Kulashekara, Andal, Periazhvar, Tirumangai, Nammalvar, Madhurakavi.

Natha Muni recovers these verses by yogic powers

Sriman Nathamuni happened to hear some verses of Nammalvar through some pilgrims. His desire to hear more of these songs brought him to a of the direct - disciple of Nammalvar, on whose advice Sri Nathamuni being a yogi went through yogic exercise and established direct contact with the spirit of Sri Nammalvar.

Lost works , refound
Kanda Puranam (14th century AD) says that the Devaram hyms were lost and was recovered by nambi andar nambi on the direction of Abhaya Kulasekhara from the sealed room of Chidambaram temple. However this story is exactly like the recovery of vaishnava hyms by Nathamuni(12th century AD Ancestor of Ramanuja) So it would have been most likely symbolic rather than true.

Nambi Andar Nambi.
Nambi Andar Nambi, was born in Tirunaraiyur near Chidambaram. who is said to have recovered, at the request of the Chola king, Raja Abhaya Kula-Sekhara, the Saivate canons of the three famous Devaram hymnists. It has been supposed that Nambi-Andar-Nambi was a contemporary of Rajaraja(Equating Raja Abhaya Kula sekhara). It is true his patron is said to have been a Chola king named Rajaraja Abhaya-Kulasekhara. But there is a very serious difficulty in identifying this Rajaraja with the builder of the Tanjore temple. Among the poems, which Nambi-Andar-Nambi is said to have classified, is the Tiruvisaippa, which contains a hymn on the Gangaikonda-Cholesvara temple built evidently by Rajaraja’s son Rajendra-Chola and called after his title Gangaikonda-Chola. The composer of the hymn himself must have lived after Rajaraja atleast or even Rajendra Chola; and Nambi-Andar-Nambi who classifies it along with the sacred writings of the Tamil Saivas, must certainly belong to a still later period. Since he recovers these scriptures after they are completely lost. He should at-least be a century or more later.

Manikka Vasagar Mentions Varguna
"Varagunanaam thennavan eaththum Chitrambalaththaan… " This varguna is said to be the Pandyan king who ruled in 9th century AD. But the saint does not denote any king here. Nor does he says he pandyan. But it has been equated with Varguna pandyan and his date is taken to 9th century AD. Can the king be addressed like that by his own minister?

Let us now turn our attention the aim of the article that is Date to Devaram Trio...

Appar
Appar is claimed to be contemproary of Mahendra Varman pallava based on the inscription in Tiruchi. The claims are based on these assumptions.
  1. Gundabhara and Gunadhara are same
  2. Both refer to Mahendravarman
  3. So The Gunabhara in Tiruchirapalli inscription is Mahendra pallava
  4. he moved away from evil conduct is mean to say that Jainism is evil conduct and he turned to shaiva
  5. This moving away from bad conduct is due to appar.
  6. The Same place have many jain inscriptions in earlier and subsequent periods indicating it is a Jain centre, debunking any saivite conversion.
If you see the evidence, there is nothing to suggest conversion, leave alone Appar involved in one. Let us see what other evidences contradicting them.



Mattavialasa prasanna
Mattavialasa prasanna by Mahendra Varman Pallava makes fun of Saivite and Buddhist religions.
 
Gunabhara , Gnanabhra
The Rock cut cave temple have a defaced inscription , which record King Gnanabhra, who bore the birudas purushottama, satrumalla and satyasamd ,built a temple of siva on the top of the mountain and placed in it a linga and a statue of himself. Both inscriptons mention river Kaveri.

Jain Inscriptions
Jain Inscriptions by pallavas continue after the said incident. If Mahendra Varman Pallva considered Jainism as evil way and saivite way as the correct way due to conversion by Appar. Then there should be shift inscriptions from jainism to Saivism, but there is none. Since the whole claim is that Appar and mahendra varman pallava are contemproaries, is based on this inscription. There is no evidence to suggest a conversion or subsequent inscriptions for any conversion, let alone by appar. The Jain monasteries continue to get aid from pallavas as before without any break. If evil way from which mahendra varma turned away is Jainism, there should be dip in aid to Jain Monasteries. The Aid continuous not only throughout pallava times, but also chola and Pandya times. So there is no evidence of any conversion.

Sambandar
Sambandar went to court of Koon Pandyan. He said to have defeated jains there.

Koon Pandiyan
Looking into the history of Kazimar Big Mosque of Madurai, it dates back to 13th century. Hazrat Kazi Syed Tajudin, who came from Oman, received the land where the present Masjid is situated, as donation from the then Pandya King of Madurai – Koon Pandiyan.

Jain Debate
The incident as narrated in Sekkizhar's magnum opus. As per this version,the Saivite saint Tirugnanasambandhar (TGS) debated 8,000 Jainas simultaneously. The Jainas had vowed that they would impale themselves should they lose the debate. As Per Sekkizhar they did so.

Pandyan Nedumaran also known as Koon Pandiyan was converted to Saivism by Sambandar. As per Kazimar Mosque dating Koon Pandiyan is date-able to 13th century AD.

First there is no evidence to suggest there is a debate of such large scale. And if that is true, then Sambandar should be dated to 13th century AD, not 7th century AD.
 
Thirumangai Alwar and Sambandar
Once Sambandar was staying in his mutt. Thirumangai alwar came by that side, surrounded by his followers shouting loudly the title's their leader. The followers of Sambandar asked the followers of Thirumangai alwar to maintain silence till they crossed the mutt. But Alwar became angry and went straight into the mutt. Sambandar welcomed him cordially and asked him to sing a song on the Lord Vishnu. So Alwar sang and hearing this Sambandar was spell bound and tears came running out of his eyes. He at once gave the spade (vel) which was given to him by lordess Aadhiparashakti to Alwar and requested him to continue his divine service to god. And accepted that he was apt for his titles and announcing them loudly was correct.


Thirumangai Date
Thirumangai's father was Nilam, a general under the Chola king Kochengan. Thirumangai also followed suit and became General under Chola. So His date has to be post pallava that is after 10th century AD. Thirumangai Alwar arranged for worship of Nammalvar in Sri rangam Temple. That put Thirumangai Alwar at-least a century or two Later. Thirumangai also refers to Vairamegha, the Rastrakutas. So he is definitely post 10th century AD.

Now Thirumangai Alwar cannot be dated to 7th century AD. So how can Sambandhar who is a contemporary of Thirumangai Alwar dated to such date.

Kochengan and Hiranyavarman

Kochenga's parents Subhadeva and Kamalavati prayed to Nataraja of Chidambaram temple for a male successor as per Sangam Literature. The Periyapuranam(13th Century AD) calls him the son of the Chola king Subhadeva by Kamalavati. So Kochenga is post Nataraja Temple. Earliest Historical reference to Nataraja Temple is Nandivarma pallavamalla (732-796 CE) about his father Hiranyavarma building Nataraja Temple at Chidambaram. So Chidambaram Nataraja Temple was built by Nandivarma Pallavamalla around 750 AD. Kochengan parents came to pray in this temple for male heir and thus was born Kochengan. Since Kochengan is Chola. Kochengan should be dated Post pallava. And any literature referring to Kochengan is also post pallava.


The Leyden grant calls him “a bee at the lotus feet of Sambhu (Siva).” This is shows to the fact that Sengan was considered as one of the sixty-three devotees of Siva. His name is mentioned by two of the authors of the Devaram: Sundaramurti invokes him in the Tiruttondattogai, and refers to a temple which Kochchenganan had built at Nannilam; and Tirunanasambandar mentions two other temples which the Chola king Seyyagan had built at Ambar and at Vaigal. Mr.Venkayya has found that the Nalayira-prabandham speaks of a visit of the Chola king Kochchenganan to the Vishnu temple at Tirunaraiyur.

Kalvali narpathu sung in praise of Kochengan against the battle of Kanaikal Irumporai , Chera king in the battle of Kalumalam by Poigaiyar. In the Poem poigaiyar also points out Ganesha Statue. Now According to tamil Saiva tradition Ganesh worship was introduced to tamil nadu by Siru thondar. Where do dravidian scholars date Siru thondar? , post konchengan. That is the problem, what to trust in tamil tradition as historical.

Siru Thondar -Paranjothiyar
Siru Thondar is described as Chola commander by periya purana , not pallava commander as being said by Dravidian Scholars. Paranjothi wrote Thiruvilayadal puranam. It portrays cholas, not pallavas. Paranjothi supposed to have brought the Ganesha from vatapi and introduced Ganesha worship in Tamil Nadu. But Appar and sambandar sing about Ganesha. It is in Thirupadigam. No pallava Inscription mention Parnjyothi as their general or otherwise. As per vatapi kondan or otherwise. King itself erected the victory pillar in Badami as per inscriptions. Kuram plates which give the details of pallava victory over Badami Chalukya Pulikesin II does not give the general name nor does it indicate anybody else leading the army other than king. Equating Paranjothiyar with siru Thondar and claiming him to be a pallava general is a huge scam to backdate both of them by Dravidian Scholars.

Appar and sambandar are contemproaries, Appar mentions Sambandar. Sambandar visited Siru thondar. So all three are contemporaries.

Paranjothiyar . No Inscription mention Paranjothiyar as Commandar of Pallava Army. Infact the King himself went to conquer Vatapi (Badami) against Chalukyas. There is no evidence linking Paranjyothiar and Siru thondar.

Commandar : Siru Thondar is described as Chola Commander not Pallava in Periyapuranam

Siru Thondar is later than Appar and Sambandar. If Siru Thondar brought Ganesha from Vatapi and introduced Ganesha Worship, then how come Appar and Sambandar Sing about Ganesha in Tamil nadu..

Brazen lies which contradict one another in the same paragraph.
 
Analysis

Literary Vs Archaeological and Epigraphic Evidence.

There is no match between the Literary and epigraphic and Archaeological evidence for a large scale conflict between Saiva and Jains. The inscription and archaeological sites gives a continuous Jain or saiva presence even in places where the literature talks about major conflicts. jain inscriptions continue until 8th 9th century AD and later, provides no evidence of large scale conversions including chola areas.

When we see, the monastries, which were supposed to be in conflict with Shivites. The jain Monastries have inscription dateable to pallavas and Lokaavibhaga to around 5th century. But if we see the Shivite temples, we find only inscriptions to around 10th century or later. This applies to Jain Monastry to where Appar converted to Shaivism also. We do not come across any displacement of Jains due to shivites or conflict from these structures. Many of the Monasties were destroyed after12th century AD, but no destruction is found before these times.


Names of Appar , Sundara and Sambhandar are not mentioned in the inscription. The Word Thirunavukariyar(God who calls gods name) is mentioned, which seem to be similar to Thirupadiyam. This has been equated with Appar and tales are made. Same with Sambandar and sundarar. Names in the inscription are equated with them with no apparent basis.

The Devaram Hymns are not found in inscriptions before Chalukyas took over the chola throne and formed the chalukya chola line. Devaram hymns are absolutely not found in pallava inscriptions, where they supposed to have lived.

The Periyapurana of Sekkilar and the Guruparampara are all later day Puranas, which take one or two episodes from the life of the saints and weave beautiful myths around them. While we are delighted in the divine writings, We must be careful in utilising them for reconstructing history. Episodes corroborated by epigraphical or archaeological source alone should be taken into account and the rest left out to the realm of religious faith.

Conclusion
So Thevaram Trio Appar, Sambandhar and Sundarar are much later date atleast by 1200AD or more and not 7th century AD as claimed by Dravdian Scholars

Sources
  1. Thirukkazhiseerama Vinnagaram
  2. Study uncovers interesting details of cave temple
  3. Mahendra's Inscription At Tiruchirapalli
  4. Pallava Cave Temples of Trichy
  5. Date of Appar
  6. Pandya Arikesari and Pandikkovai
  7. Dates of Nayanmars and Alvars
  8. Some Contributions Of South India To Indian Culture by Rajasevasakta Dewan Bahadur
  9. Inscriptions of Parakesarivarman Uttama-Chola
  10. Epigraphical References
  11. JOURNAL OF THE EPIGRAPHICAL SOCIETY OF INDIA VOL 5 (1978)
  12. Thiru-jnana-sambandar by Swami Sivananda
  13. The Nayanmars
  14. The kings mentioned by Periaazhwar!
  15. PANDYA INSCRIPTIONS
  16. Ramanuja. Continued
  17. Some Contributions of South India to Indian Culture by Sakkottai Krishnaswami Aiyangar
  18. South Indian shrines: illustrated By P. V. Jagadisa Ayyar
  19. Hymns for the Drowning: Poems for Vishnu by Nammalvar and A.K. Ramanujan, (tr.)
  20. Thrikodithanam Mahavishnu Kshetram
  21. Evidence of Alvars
  22. Kalayarkoil temple
  23. Siruthondar by Swami Sivananda
  24. The Holy Lives of the Azhwars or the Dravida Saints by Alkondavalli Govindacharya Ananthacharya Indological Research Institute Publication1982
  25. Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Alwars by S.M.S.Chari Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Limited, Delhi 1997
  26. Srimad Bhagavatha MahaPurana GitaPress. Gorakhpur 1971.
  27. Ancient Heritage of Tamils by V.G.Ramachandran
  28. In Mythology to History through Astronomy edited by N.MahalingamN.I.A Publications, Pollachi, TamilNadu 1980.
  29. Vedic "Aryans" and the Origins of Civilization byNavaratna S.Rajaram and David Frawley
  30. A literary and Scientific perspectiveW.H.Press. Quebec 1995.
  31. South Indian Shrines: Illustrated By P. V. Jagadisa Ayya
  32. The Recovery of the Devaram Hymns BY S. R. BALASUBRAHMANYAN, M.A L.T., Chidambaram
  33. TANJAVUR Brihadhiswara TEMPLE Inscriptions from South Indian Inscriptions
  34. Temple Imagery from Early Mediaeval Peninsular India By Archana Verma
  35. Period of Azhwars

Images
  1. Wikipedia
  2. Rediff
  3. badamionline
  4. The Hindu 
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