Posts Tagged ‘Kallil temple’

Madman’s Rock: Bhranthan Kallu or Bhranthachala in Tiruvegapura

// February 16th, 2013 // 4 Comments » // Culture and Ecology

Rock cut vestige at Bhranthan Kallu east of Tiruvegapura in Palakad district.  Exactly like the Buddhist vestiges identified at Kattilapara in Kulatupuzha.

Rock cut vestige at Bhranthan Kallu east of Tiruvegapura in Palakad district. Exactly like the Buddhist vestiges identified at Kattilapara in Kulatupuzha.

kaviyur.mulur.eraviperur 058

Kaviyur rock cut temple

The ancient rock temple east of Tiruvegapura is in Palakad district of Kerala on the southern bank of river Thutha.  It is a huge granite boulder around 40m high and three acres in expansion.  There is a flight of steps that lead you to the top exactly like the ones in Karkala or Sravanbelgola but much recent having Malayalam scripts engraved on it.  On the eastern side there is a Chaitya carved into the rock.  It has three openings and two cut pillars.  The left opening is incomplete.  The vestige shows marks and techniques of stone cutting used in early common era by Amana monks or their local patrons that is found throughout the peninsular India.

Ox mascots in Ara Kavu near Tiruvegapura.  Kala Vela or Pooram and Kettukazhcha originated in the pre-Brahmanical era in central north Kerala.

Ox mascots in Ara Kavu near Tiruvegapura. Kala Vela or Pooram and Kettukazhcha originated in the pre-Brahmanical era in central north Kerala in relation with Buddhist harvest festivals.

Tirunandikarai rock cut vestige

Tirunandikarai rock cut vestige

The vestige looks exactly like the ones at Kallupacha and Kattilapara in Kulatupuzha forests identified as Buddhist vestiges by archeological experts like Dr Rajendran. The foot mark on top of the rock also substantiates the Amana connection as in Kaviyur or Tirunandikara rock cut vestiges.  The Jains and Buddhists worshiped the foot imprints of their gurus  the practice that eventually gave birth to place names like Kaladi.  There are Kaladis in Trivandrum, Ernakulam and Malapuram districts of Kerala.  It could be inferred that before the 8th century AD they were pivotal shrines  or Chaityas related to Buddhism and Jainism in Kerala.

The flight of steps leading to the top of rock from southern side.  Looks like the steps at Karkala or Sravanabelgola but a lot recent with Malayalam scripts on it.  Bhranthan Kallu 15 feb 2013

The flight of steps leading to the top of Bhranthan (madman) rock from southern side. Looks like the steps at Karkala or Sravanabelgola in south Karnataka  but a lot recent with Malayalam scripts on it. Bhranthan Kallu, 15 feb 2013.

Rock cut vestige at Kallupacha in Kulatupuzha estate identified as a Buddhist vestige by Dr Rajendran.

Rock cut vestige at Kallupacha in Kulatupuzha estate identified as a Buddhist vestige by Dr Rajendran.

Now this ancient rock-cut vestige is known as Bhranthan Kallu among local people. The word Kallu or stone is an important Jain marker as in Kallil near Perumbavur.  It is now being connected to Naranathu Bhranthan of Panthirukulam and is called Bhranthachala Kshetram in elite parlance. It stands 500 m north of the Pattambi-Valanchery road just east of Tiruvegapura.  Chinavati Kavu (Jina connection?) and Arakavu are just south of this rock temple. The word Ara is a semantic relic of Pally Ara the ancient Amana shrines including Stupas, Chaityas and Pagodas.  This ancient Tamil word can also be related to the word Aram or Dhamma itself.  As the abode of Aram it became Ara.  The ancient Buddhist ritual relics of Kalakettu or Kettukazhcha are still performed as Kala Vela and Pooram in these ancient shrines, now in a Hinduized fashion.

Current shrines of Siva, Muruga etc. on top of Bhranthan Kallu.  The Kanjiram tree is in the back. 15 Feb 2013.

Current shrines of Siva, Muruga etc. on top of Bhranthan Kallu. The Kanjiram tree said to have chained the madman is in the back. 15 Feb 2013.

Local people believe that it was made by some super natural forces who abandoned it as the goddess residing on the eastern hillock made an early morning call in the  voice of a rooster.  Similar stories of abandoning construction at day break by ghosts or demons are plenty all over Kerala. In Ernakulam district people believe that Bhutathan  Kettu dam was built by demons in a single night.  Local people near the Tirunathapuram temple that is in ruin now near Aluva  also believe that it was made by the demons overnight.

Water pools on top of Bhranthan Kallu near Tiruvegapura

Water pools on top of Bhranthan Kallu near Tiruvegapura, 15 feb 2013.

The people still call it the temple of Bhutathans or the temple of demons relating it to the demonization discourse used against the Buddhists originally by Brahmanism.  Moreover place names nearby like Marampally and Payyapally (now being changed to Pilly) confirm the Amana past of the place by the Periyar. The Bhutas or Buddhas or demons disappeared at sunrise abandoning their stones amidst nearby fields say local people.

Kala or Ox mascot in Are Kavu near Tiruvegapura.  Oxen are images of agricultural prosperity and fertility.  They originated in the Buddhist harvest festivals.  The Ketukazcha in Kerala has remarkable semblance to the Buddhist chariot festivals narrated by Chinise Buddhist travelers who visited Patna and north India in the 5th to 8th centuries.

Kala or Ox mascot in Are Kavu near Tiruvegapura. Oxen are images of agricultural prosperity and fertility. They originated in the Buddhist harvest festivals. The Ketukazcha in Kerala has remarkable semblance to the Buddhist chariot festivals narrated by Chinese Buddhist travelers who visited Patna and north India in the 5th to 8th centuries.

It is an allegorical narration of the banishment of the Amanas from the region.  The rise of the sun centered cosmology of Brahmanism and the fall by material and symbolic violence of the moon centered cosmology of Buddhism in Kerala are articulated obliquely by this folk tale existing in orature and the collective unconscious of people especially the former untouchables in the Hindu fold now called the Avarna.

The point of the foot mark towards the east right above the Chaitya vestige on top.  Now modified into an alter where foot dummies are offered in wood.  15 Feb 2013.

The point of the foot mark towards the east right above the Chaitya vestige on top. Now modified into an alter where foot dummies are offered in wood. 15 Feb 2013.

All these places and structures are related to the demonized Amana monks who did extensive work in no time through their dedication and selfless service and the use of simple but humane technology.  Place names Tirunathapuram near Tiruairanikulam and Aluva; and Tiruvegapura near Valanchery also echo Chamana antiquity and early Buddhist sacred towns or Pura/Puram as in Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka.

Fire dances in Are Kavu another ancient shrine of Amana antiquity near Tiruvegapura.

Fire dance in Are Kavu another ancient shrine of Amana antiquity near Tiruvegapura.

Tiru is the common affix that signifies the pre-Sanskritic or Hindu civilization and sacred Viharas or Pallys.  After 10th century the Sanskrit affix Sri came in place of the Tiru along with place names like Sri Kantapuram or Sri Kakulam etc.  The Tiru prefix testifies the pre-Hindu or pre-Vedic or pre-Brahmanic cultural existence and antiquity of the place.

The iron chain believed to be of Naranathu Bhranthan merged into the Kanjiram tree on top of the Branthan Kallu.  Foot replicas in clay and wood are offered here as well.  It looks a lot recent, only a few centuries old, probably used to transform the foot marks and the legends by hegemonic forces for the Hinduization of the shrine.

The iron chain believed to be of Naranathu Bhranthan merged into the Kanjiram tree on top of the Bhranthan Kallu. Foot replicas in clay and wood are offered here as well. It looks a lot recent, only a few centuries old, probably used to transform the foot marks and the legends by hegemonic forces for the Hinduization of the shrine.  Bhranthan could be just another term like Bhutathan used for demonizing the Buddhists and Jains as in Bhutathan Kettu or Bhutathan Ambalam in Ernakulam district. Bhranthan could be a term of abuse like Nastika, Sunya and Hina used specifically against the Amana who contested god and the other worldly.

In Sanskritized parlance it is called Bhranthachalam temple, which is a clear Sanskrit rendition of Bhranthan Kallu after the middle ages.  But the near by households have the term Kunnathu Kavu (shrine on the hillock) in their house names which could be the old name of the rock shrine complex.  For example the Savarna household just east of the rock is called Kunnathu Kavil Padikal (at the gate way of the hill shrine). It is not surprising that the family owns the land on which the rock is founded.

There are a few recent pagoda shrines of Siva, Muruga etc on top now. Plenty of water resources and a Kanjiram tree are on the top of the rock.  Local residents told me that there was a foot mark on the top of the rock now being obscured by concrete constructions.  The cutting style of the Chaitya facade and the vestige design and foot mark on top distinguish that it is an ancient Amana shrine.  It has close similarity to rock temples at Kaviyur, Tirunandikara and Kattilapara inside Kulathupuzha forest.  All of them were ancient Chaityas or Basatis.

This vital treasure proving the 2000 and more years of cultural history of the Thutha river region must be protected by ASI or the state department of Archeology for posterity.  The long evasion and silence of the official bodies and the gradual attempt to Hinduize the rock again verify the Chamana connection. The Government and local bodies must take immediate steps towards the protection of this ancient heritage site in Valluvanad and the conservation of its surrounding ecology by the river Thutha that is shrinking day by day.

Kala Vela or Kettu Kazhcha at Ara Kavu south west of Tiruvegapura.  Researchers in Kerala history argue that Kettu Kazhcha and Vela or Pooram are reminiscent of Buddhist festivals.  Ara in Ara Kavu is a relic of Pally Ara the Vihara shrine.  15 Feb 2013

Kala Vela or Kettu Kazhcha at Ara Kavu south west of Tiruvegapura. Researchers in Kerala history argue that Kettu Kazhcha and Vela or Pooram are reminiscent of Buddhist festivals. Ara in Ara Kavu is a relic of Pally Ara the Vihara shrine.         15 Feb 2013

 

Ethical Foundations of South Indian Aesthetics: Chitharal and Tirunandikarai

// October 27th, 2012 // 1 Comment » // Culture and Ecology

The paved walkway leading to the top of a granite hillock: Chitharal/ Sitharal near Marthandam in Kanyakomari district of TN is an ancient Jain monument established in 8th or 9th century. It is also called Tirucharanathu Malai/ Tirucharanathu Pally/ Tiruchanampally etc. Now with ASI

A green Banyan growing on the top of this granite boulder. It is also the Chaitya tree of Adinatha.  The entrance to the temple complex at Chitharal. Now called Malai Kovil. It was converted into a Hindu Bhagavathy/goddess temple in the 13th century by Ay kings under the influence of Brahmanism.

The gateway to the temple through a natural cavern between two gigantic rocks. The granite hillock is around 200m above sea level and offers panoramic surround view. 23 Oct 2012

The bas-relief gallery of Thirthankaras facing north at the top of Chitharal hillock.  M R Raghava Wariar says in his recent Jainamatham Keralathil  that it was the Amana sages Achanandi, Gunanandi and Veeranandi who directed the sculpting at Chitharal.

Bas-reliefs of Mahavira, Parswanatha and Padmavathy Devi at Chitharal rock temple. Carved by dedicated artisans or creative Chamana monks themselves in the 8/9th century AD. Some early interpreters like S N Sadasivan mistook it as Buddhist rather than Jain. He rendered the female figure as Pragya Paramitha. The closeness of Jain and Buddhist iconography and ethical/aesthetic praxis are remarkable here.

Ethical foundation of South Indian Chamana art: The lion-seated Ambika or Dharmadevi / goddess of ethics at Chitharal. The grace, elegance and spiritual quality of this piece of compassionate art is the aesthetic manifestation of ethical culture in Tamilakam initiated by the Amana sages as early as 3rd century BC.

Before the Thirthankara and Ambika reliefs in the galaxy of jinas facing north. Chitharal 23 Oct 2012

9th century inscriptions in Vateluthu script propagated by Amanas. They also introduced the Brahmi script in Tamilakam in the 3rd century BC. The inscriptions here are about the offerings to the Tiruchanampally by some devotees.  Raghava Wariar has noted the name of Gunamthangi Kurathikal a lady scholar who had offered gold to this shrine in the 9th century.  Kurathikal is the female gender of guru and shows that women were also among the ascetic scholars and eminent teachers  of Jainism in the south.

Carved granites steps leading to the top of the rock. Replicas could be found in Kaviyur, Kallil and Kattilapara in Kerala. Tirucharanampally was a major Jain centre that was modeled in the smaller versions in Kerala.  Charanathupally itself was modeled on Sravanabelagola in south Kanara.

The temple and perennial pond on top of the rock at Chitharal. A Pipal and Banyan grow on this tiny top soil bed. The Digambara/clad-in-space sages used the water from this rock top pond for survival and taught ethics and letters to the people.

Western Ghats towards the east of Chitharal. A view from the top. 23 Oct 2012

A self-portrait from the top of Chitharal Tirucharanathu Pally. 23 Oct 2012

The Pandya style Vimana of Tiruchanam Pally at Chitharal. Now called Malai Kovil by local people. Built in 8th century as a Jain vestige and converted into a Hindu Devi temple in the 13th century by Ay rulers.

Youth getting on the Banyan, the Chaitya tree on top of Chitharal rock. Young people are showing considerable interest in the live and breathing  Chamana legacy of South India. Ethics is like oxygen to the enlightened young people

Tirunandikarai cave temple near Kulasekharam in Kanyakomari district of TN. Originally Jain later converted to Hindu temple in the middle ages during the violent bouts of Saivism. Veera Nandi is the founder of this Jain shrine in the 7th century. The small stream and place are named after this Jain sage as Nandiar and Tirunandikarai respectively. The current Siva temple is also called Nandiswaran temple after Vira Nandi originally. Later Siva’s vehicle Nandikeswara was tagged to provide a Brahmanical version of the place name.

 

Tirunandikarai rock-cut Jain vestige: Exactly like Kaviyur, Kallil and Kattilapara in Kerala. Carved into a gigantic granite monolith in the 7th century by Vira Nandi and disciples. The Vateluthu inscriptions talk about Vikramadithya Varaguna the Ay king and Raja Raja Chola who celebrated his birthday here.

Traces of 9th century murals inside Tirunandikarai rock temple. One of the earliest rudiments of Kerala style of murals. Originally Chamana later Hinduized after the violent conversion in the 9th century following the Saivite and Vaishnavite upheavals.

Footprints of the Jain sage Vira Nandi on top of the rock. Now considered by Hindus as the footmarks of Siva. The Chamanas were worshipers of the footprints of their gurus. Place name Kalady meaning the feet of the enlightened ones occurs from Trivandrum to Thrissur in Kerala.

My backpack on top of Tirunandikarai rock with the back drop of Pechy Parai and adjacent peaks. 23 Oct 2012. Let me salute the phenomenal pioneering Amanas who walked throughout the peninsular India and created wonders in nature and culture of the subcontinent as early as 3rd century BC.

The spectacular cloud formations towards the west. A view from the top of Tirunandikarai rock. 23 Oct 2012

Reclining on the top of Tirunandikarai rock after a day long exploration. Pechy Parai peaks in the backdrop. The air is incredibly sweet here. 23 Oct 2012: 6pm

The Chaitya tree: A Pipal growing by a rock pool on the Tirunandikarai rock.  Pechy Parai peaks in the horizon

At the end of the day: Another self-portrait atop the Tirunandikarai rock. 23 Oct 2012. 6pm

Wisdom of Tiruvalluvar and Tirukural: The next morning in Kanyakomari 24 Oct 2012

Sunrise at land’s end: Confluence of three oceans at the Cape Comerin. Ancient Kanyakomari or cape of the lady oracle later Sanskritized as Kanyakumari. As Kanya and Kumari are the same it is an absurd tautology that exposes the redundancy and epistemological violence of Brahmanical appropriation of south Indian place names. Bye from the Cape!

But a threatening presence in the horizon: Nuclear reactor at Kudankulam emerging some 40km east of Kanyakomari. A zoomed shot in the haze from the Cape. The struggling people and their leaders say that it is going to affect the lives of the people in the whole peninsular India; TN and Kerala in particular.  The fight for survival is on in south India like this sailing catamaran in a tri-sea.