Showing posts with label Chera. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chera. Show all posts

Myth of Cheraman Mosque

Cheraman Juma Masjid is a mosque in Kodungallur in the Indian state of Kerala. Believed to be built in 629 AD by Malik Ibn Dinar, it is considered as the oldest mosque in India, and the second oldest mosque in the world to offer Jumu'ah prayers. Constructed during the lifetime of Muhammad, the bodies of some of his original followers are said to be buried here. Unlike other mosques in Kerala that face westwards this mosque faces eastwards.

Let us analyse the Facts

Keralopathi Account(16th century AD)
As the tradition goes, a Chera king, Cheramanperumal of Kodungallure, left for Mecca, embraced Islam, and accepted the name Thajudeen. He married the sister of then King of Jeddah. On his return trip, accompanied by many Islamic religious leaders, led by Malik-ibn-Dinar (RA), he fell sick and passed away. But he had given introductory letters for the team to proceed to ‘Musiris’ (Kodungallur, the Chera capital. The visitors came to Musiris and handed over the latter to the reigning king, who treated the guests with all respect and extended facilities to establish their faith in the land. The king also organised help for the artisans to build the first Mosque at Kodungallur, by converting Arathali temple into a Juma-Masjid. It was build in 629 A.C., and the area around it had been ear-marked for the team’s settlement. This is said in Book called Keralopathi, not anywhere. But there are different versions of Keralopathi giving different accounts. In one version he converted Buddhism.

Scholarly visitors
None of the early or medieval travelers who visited Kerala has referred in their records. Thus Sulaiman, Al Biruni, Benjamin of Tuleda, Al Kazwini, Marco Polo, Friar Odoric, Friar Jordanus, Ibn Babuta, Abdur Razzak, Nicolo-Conti – none of these travelers speaks of the story of the Cheraman’s alleged conversion to Islam.

No cheraman in 7th century AD
Sreedhara Menon authoritatively states that Kerala never had a king called Cheraman Perumal and quotes Dr. Herman Gundert, the German who composed the first Malayalam-English dictionary and the grandfather of Herman Hesse for this. But there seems to have been a Cheraman Perumal, whose history is overlaid by legend. According to Saiva tradition, he had an association with a Sundaramurti, the last of the three hymnists of Devaram. This Cheraman Perumal vanished in 825 A.D, about 200 years

A mention of the Cheraman Perumal legend appeared in the 16th century book Tuhafat-ul Mujahidin by Shaik Zainuddin, but he too did not believe in its historical authenticity. But later cut and paste historians seem to have forgot to add his disclaimer.

Source :Varnam

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.