Posts Tagged ‘Kumaly’

Mangaladevi Kottam: Kannaki, Patini, Mangalamadan Tai and the Historical Linkages between Keralam and Tamilakam

// April 28th, 2013 // 2 Comments » // Culture and Ecology

Mangaladevi Kottam in Kumaly on Chitra Paurnami day, 25 apl 2013

Mangaladevi Kottam in Kumaly on Chitra Paurnami day, 25 apl 2013.  The Pandya style stone temple could be built in 9th century after the Saivite conquest of Sambandhar and his rabid legion who persecuted the Chamana nuns.

Mangaladevi temple or Mangala Madan Tai Kottam is an ancient shrine eructed in the memory of a brave and legendary Tamil woman by the ancient Chera emperor of Keralam in the second century AD. Mangaladevi or Mangalamadan Tai is an early Tamil and Buddhist south Indian cult signifying an auspicious female guardian deity from the beginning of the common era.  The cult of Mangalamadan Tai flourished with Buddhist popular culture and gave birth to plenty of place names all over the peninsular India as in Koramangala, Mangalapuram, Neryamangalam, Kotamangalam etc.

The grassland shola peak on which Mangalamadantai Kottam is situated at the Kerala-Tamilaka border.  The forest watch tower and shola are visible from miles afar.  A view from Kerala side of the mountain.

The grassland shola peak (1337m) on which Mangalamadantai Kottam is situated at the Kerala-Tamilaka border. The forest watch tower and shola are visible from miles afar. A view from Kerala side of the mountain. The winding road is also seen.

The current Mangaladevi temple or Madantai Kottam in true ancient Tamil Amana (Jain and Buddhist) parlance, near Kumaly in Idukki district of Kerala close to the border of Tamil Nadu on a high grassland shola peak at around 1337 m above sea level overlooking the Kambam valley and Meghamalai dales has more than 2000 years of history to tell. It is 15km from Kumaly town which is on the Kollam – Kottayam – Theni National Highway.

People struggling to get into the Kannaki shrine at Mangaladevi Kottam on Chitra Paurnami day, 25 apl 2008.

People from all over south India struggling to get into the Kannaki shrine at Mangaladevi Kottam on Chitra Paurnami day, 25 apl 2008.  The Tamil women use yellow and green clothes for this exquisite pilgrimage to the top of the Western Ghats at 1337 m.  They have also formed a volunteer group to handle the rush at the Kannaki shrine. Yellow marigolds and green Neem and mango leaves decorate.

This unique grassland shola is within the PTR or Periyar Tiger Reserve that is ecologically sensitive and extremely crucial for the sustenance of life and drinking water down in central and south Kerala apart from being the last asylum of the Asiatic Tiger in South India. The grassland sholas and fern groves are also home to rare and endangered flora and fauna, most of them medicinal.

The Pandya style of architecture is visible in the granite stone temple complex at Mangaladevi Kottam.

The Pandya style of architecture is visible in the granite stone temple complex at Mangaladevi Kottam. Can be dated to 9th century and the Saivite take over under Sambandhar and his militia who specialized in persecuting the Buddhist nuns.

According to researchers and authors like S N Sadasivan this organic Tai Shola or mother of all sholas as in the Nilgriris was a Buddhist nunnery in the beginning of the common era on a great trade route and mountain pass that connected the Pandya kingdom with the Chera lands across the western ghats.

Kannaki idol in Mangaladevi Kottam, Kumaly.  Tamil women are leading the rituals even today.  25 apl 2013.

Kannaki idol in Mangaladevi Kottam, Kumaly. Tamil women are leading the rituals even today though the priest is a boy. 25 apl 2013. A passing shot in the rush with one hand.

Kannaki the legendary heroine of sage Ilango Adikal’s Tamil epic Silapatikaram, after cursing and metaphorically burning the city of Madurai in her ire against the king who unethically punished her husband Kovalan (accusing him of stealing the anklets of the queen ) by ripping of her breast, went north west along the banks of river Vaigai in the Kambam valley and disappeared into the Sahyadri’s according to legend and the epic.

Devotees mostly women and dalitbahujans from Tamilakam and Keralam thronging in to get a glimpse of their ancient heroine Kannaki as Patini as installed by Cheran Chenguttuvan in 2nd C. AD. Chitra Paurnami day 25 apl 2013.

Devotees mostly women and dalitbahujans from Tamilakam and Keralam thronging in to get a glimpse of their ancient heroine Kannaki as Patini as installed by Cheran Chenguttuvan in 2nd C. AD.     A historic shot on Chitra Paurnami day 25 apl 2013.

The grassland shola peaks near Kumaly then was known as Vindhamalai among the Tamil people.  The southern mountain is still called Meghamalai.  The existence of the Chamana monastery or lamasery was known to the people of the Pandian  planes as far as Madurai during the early common era.  This peak is still visible from Theni district.

The decorated southern gateway to the Kottam.  Two big banana plants in fruition are used in typical south Indian style along with mango and Neem leaves and yellow marigolds.

The decorated southern gateway to the Kottam. Two big banana plants in fruition are used in typical south Indian style along with mango and Neem leaves and yellow marigolds.

It must also be remembered that Ilango Adigal was the younger brother of the Chera chief Changuttuvan who consecrated the temple in the memory of Kannaki as Patini or the chaste wife. Kodungallur was the capital of Cheran were Adikal composed his epic in the monastery at Matilakam or Tiru Kunavayil Kottam.  Both these enlightened sons of Kerala were the biological sons of the Chera emperor Nedum Cheral Atan.  The surname Atan is a regional form of the Arhat the Buddhist sage.

The eastern slopes of the Western Ghats that go down to the Kambam Theni valley in Tamilakam: A view to the north east of Mangaladevi Kottam near Kumaly

The eastern slopes of the Western Ghats that go down to the Kambam Theni valley in Tamilakam: A view to the north east of Mangaladevi Kottam near Kumaly

Patini cult was popular among the Buddhist laity in the early common era.  There were Patini installations in Kumaly, Kodungallur and Atukal by Cheran Chenguttuvan.  The Patini or Kannaki cult was also popular in Tamraparni or Sri Lanka then and the Muventar or the south Indian ruling trio consisting of Chera, Chola and Pandya kings were also close to the Sri Lankan kings in culture and kinship.  That is why Gajabahu I (c. 114 – 136 CE) the king of Ceylon was also present during this installation at Kumaly and Kodungallur (Sadasivan 2008).

The remaining outer wall of Mangaladevi Kottam that was finely built.  A woman from Tamil Nadu sits a while after the 2 hour long queue to get in. 25 apl 2013.

The remaining outer wall of Mangaladevi Kottam that was finely built. A woman from Tamil Nadu sits a while after the 2 hour long queue to get in. 25 apl 2013.

Brahmanism captured these Buddhist nunneries and monasteries known as Kottam, Kuti, Vattam, Vihara, Kavu, Thopu, Thottam etc. through the strategic use of subaltern energy that was cunningly utilized in the Bhakti movement as in Saivism and Vaishnaism in Tamilakam and Keralam.   These movements were initiated as democratic liberalizations but they actually contributed to the expansion of the Brahmanical Hindu world among the lower strata by violently converting Amana sects and heterodox sites in south India.

Periyar lake as seen from Mangaladevi Kottam. A view to the south east from the southern gateway of the Kottam.  Most parts of the Periyar Tiger Reserve (PTR) are also seen here.

Periyar lake as seen from Mangaladevi Kottam in the left corner in haze. A view to the south east from the southern gateway of the Mangala Madantai Kottam. Most parts of the Periyar Tiger Reserve (PTR) are also seen here.

In the 9th century AD during the heyday of Saivism, Sambandha Moorty’s (Jnana Sambandhar) rabid legion of assassins conquered this shrine at Kumaly and converted it violently to a Siva temple installing the huge rock Linga, the Amman or Parvati and Ganapati. Some pre existing Buddhist idols were reconsecrated as these new deities.  They did this conquest by violently executing the Buddhist monks with tridents and raping and torturing the nuns in unimaginable barbaric ways.  But fortunately the Patini or Kannaki shrine was spared for some reason and is still surviving as a sub shrine within the big but ruined temple complex atop the grassland.  It is also possible that the people from Tamilakam recovered the Kannaki idol and cult and reinstalled the practice again after the hey day of Saivism.

Taradevi bronze in an antique shop in Kumaly

Taradevi bronze in Rajalilasana in an antique shop in Kumaly.  She is the only female Boddhisatva of compassion.  Such Mahayana deities got “Modified” into Hindu Devis and goddesses after the 8-12 century Saiva/Vaishnava Bhakti frenzies unleashed by the hidden agenda of Brahmanism to take over Buddhist shrines and Viharas.

The Patini installation by Chenguttuvan was in AD second century according to the history and chronology of Chera rulers.  The Tamil people as well as the Bahujans or Avarnas from Kerala used to climb up the western ghats every year on the festival day of the Chitra Paurnami.  As it is a disputed location on the border; Kerala and Tamil Nadu are conducting the festival collectively now with official co-operation.

Tamil and Kerala pilgrims atop the Mangalamadantai Kottam near Kumaly on the day of Chitra Paurnami, 25 apl 2013.

Tamil and Kerala pilgrims atop the Mangalamadantai Kottam near Kumaly on the day of Chitra Paurnami, 25 apl 2013. See the yellow-green floral-leaf decoration and clothes of the devotees mixed with white Jasmin flowers.

But there is every possibility that this ancient Tamil Buddhist shrine could be gradually Hinduized and Brahmanized and Sanksritized in a covetous fashion.  Brahman priests are at the helm and the Parivar outfits are gaining momentum in this Sangham age monument that represents the true secular tradition of south India.  Only the Kannaki shrine is with the Avarna and  Tamil people now. Women and Bahujans are leading the rituals there while half naked Brahmans are playing the priestly  role in other shrines of Siva, Parvati and Ganapati.  At least 30,000 people mostly women and dalitbahujans or the Avarna visited the mountain shrine this year on 25 April 2013 from Tamilakam and Keralam.

Jeeps plying from Kumaly to Mangaladevi shrine through mountain roads over the grasslands on the Kerala-Tamil border.

Jeeps plying from Kumaly to Mangaladevi shrine through mountain roads over the grasslands on the Kerala-Tamil border.

There is also a conspiracy to make this temple something like the current Sabarimala that was originally the abode of Avalokiteswara Boddhisatva (Ayyappa) of Mahayana Buddhism prior to 8th century.  The Saivites and Vaishnavites who conquered the shrine at Sabarimala under the strategic meta narrative of Brahmanism got into a pact and made it a half Saivite and half Vaishnavaite shrine, a queer combination of Appa and Ayya according to their weird etymological interpretation.  This will be catastrophic because the region is in Periyar Tiger Reserve and is part of the most crucial eco screen preventing the dry weather from Tamil planes into Kerala.  The Pullumedu disaster and other losses to the grasslands in Sabarimala season must also be remembered and well pondered.

Before the big northern shrine now enshrining a Linga at Mangalamadantai Kottam with Anirudh Raman on Chitra Paurnami day, 25 apl 2013.

Before the big northern shrine now enshrining a Linga at Mangalamadantai Kottam with Anirudh Raman on Chitra Paurnami day, 25 apl 2013.

More over the ancient Sangam shrine without any caste and gender hierarchy and untouchability and purity practice is now being gradually converted into a Brahmanic Hindu temple of high purity and pollution riddles and Savarna elitism.  They are starting with a Savarna aversion for footwear in this archeological and historical site as in many Savarna villages in Tamil Nadu and Savarna temples in Kerala now and will end up in Dhoti and the bare breast very soon.  They are going back to the pre-renaissance days where struggles were required to cover breasts in public.

A herd of wild elephants at Tekady, on the banks of the Periyar lake reservoir inside the PTR, 26 apl 2013.

A herd of wild elephants at Tekady, on the banks of the Periyar lake reservoir inside the PTR, 26 apl 2013.

The Brahmanic Tantris, Melsantis and Kizhsantis will soon drop in out of the blue and will make it another Sabarimala where millions are given as donation to get a lower division priestly post every year.  It is a Brahmanical conspiracy to squeeze the money from the Bahujans who offer everything they can to the shrine in the name of faith and religion.

A self take with left hand with Mr Das as researcher and young scholar who reached the summit on the day of Chitra Paurnami.

A self take with left hand with Mr Das a researcher and young scholar who reached the summit on the day of Chitra Paurnami.

In Malabar they are now forcing the temple goers to remove the pants and shirts and soon they will come down to the inner clothes.  If current Brahmanical Hinduization goes unchecked by the people and their organizations  Mangalamadantai Kottam will become another Sabarimala and a new environmental and cultural disaster in the present and near future that cannot be corrected ever after.  It is high time for the policy makers and people’s elected bodies to think, discuss and act.

Saffron flags coming up on the Mangaladevi top, 25 apl 2013.

Saffron flags coming up on the Mangaladevi top, 25 apl 2013.

Grasslands and Wooded Hilltops of Western Ghats: Kutikanam, Pallykanam, Cherupallykulam and Panjaseelamed

// April 4th, 2013 // 2 Comments » // Culture and Ecology

Megalithic stone pillars and menhirs at Panjalimed.  The old name is Cherupally Kavu or Kapalu Venga an ancient grassland shola south west of Kutikanam or the Kanam with a Kuti (Pally or Vihara).  Photo taken by Anirudh Raman

Megalithic stone pillars and menhirs at Panjalimed. The old name is Cherupally Kulam or Kapalu Venga, an ancient grassland shola south west of Kutikanam or the Kanam with a Kuti (Pally or Vihara) at around 1000m high, west of Peerumed.       Photo taken by Anirudh Raman

Kanam is a well wooded hill top in south Indian parlance and especially in the western or Kerala side of the Western Ghats. The Place now called Kuttikanam in the Western Ghats east of Peruvantanam and west of Peerumed could be a modified version of Kutikanam as a Pallykanam exists in distorted form (as Pullykanam) in Vagaman a few miles north. Kuti and Pally mean the ancient Buddhist Vihara, Stupa or Chaitya. So Pallykanam and Kutikanam are the same. It means a wooded hilltop with a Pally or Kuti or Kottam or Vattam, since all these words refer to Buddhist or Jain holy places and monuments.

Beore the big menhir at Panjalimed with Anirudh.  A left hand self click in good morning light.

Before the big menhir at Panjalimed (Cherupallykulam originally) with Anirudh. A left hand self click in good morning light.

More over Mundakayam that strongly establishes a Munda or shaven head Buddhist past (shaven head of the monks prompted people to call them Munda) is lying in the adjacent western slopes of this region. The nearby Taluk that skirts the region from the west is called Kanjirapally the Vihara with a Kanjiram tree marker. Further west we come across Mallapally, Mariapally, Puthupally, Manalepally, Kuvapally, Ilampally and so on and so forth. Some of the Pallys are changed over the ages into Pillys and Pullys. Like Pullykanam, Kolapully near Shornur is also a deliberately changed place name in the covetous act of erasing the past by Savarna forces who came to hegemony from the middle ages onwards by taking over these Pallys and casting away the people and turning the Pallys into caste Hindu temples.  The Buddhists who never submitted to Hindu Brahmanism were thus termed the Avarna or Chandala and they were even prohibited from coming near their own original sacred places.

Anirudh explaining the ancient technique of splitting the stone into slabs using drilling tools, wooden planks and water.

Anirudh explaining the ancient technique of splitting the stone into slabs using drilling tools, wooden planks and water.

The southern slope of Kutikanam is now called Cheruvally Kulam and it is certainly a modified or transgressed form of Cherupally Kulam, meaning the little Vihara and its sacred pond. The current place name Panjalimed is of recent etymological origin as the Ramayana and Bharata narratives and legends were established in popular oral culture only after the 14th century with the composition of Ramayana based regional verses including that of Ezhuthachan.  It can be inferred that the grassland shola above Cherupally Kulam was called Panjaseela made originally symbolic of the five egg heads of the grassland peaks and suggesting the five ethical practices of the enlightened one.  Through the cunning distortion of Panjaseelamed to Paanjaalimed the Savarna forces have erased the memory of the Cherupally its Kulam and the five grassland peaks symbolizing the five fold ethics, philosophy and praxis of enlightenment that flourished in Western Ghats for more than a millennium and acted as a link between Kerala and Tamilakam.

A stone idol of elephant at Panjalimed.  A similar one was found at Rajaparamed while working at Rajakumari GVHSS in 2010.  Could be part o the Tamil Sangham culture and iconography.

A stone idol of elephant at Panjaseelamed (Cherupallykulam). A similar one was found at Rajaparamed while working at Rajakumari GVHSS in 2009-2010. Could be part of the Tamil Sangham culture and iconography and the Buddhist regional and ecological animistic practices in the early common era.

When I visited the place with artist Anirudh Raman in late March 2013 we found plenty of prehistoric menhirs and stone pillars and idols on the top of Cherupallykulam or Panjaseelamed now dubbed as Panjalimed.  These granite relics belong to the megalithic age and could be almost ten thousand years old.  Anirudh says that the local Peruvantanam Panchayat documents show the place name as Kapalu Venga named after a big Venga tree resembiling a ship or used to build a ship. It is clear from these divergent names  that the place name Panjalimed is of recent origin and is a clear distortion of Panjaseelamed.

Naga deities in the current Durga temple at Panjalimed, late March 2013

Naga deities in the current Durga temple at Panjaseelamed, late March 2013.  Almost 1000m below Mundakayam and Kanjirapally regions in the backdrop.

It is also important to note that these places with Pally affixes are on the ancient civilizational trade route that connected the Pandya and Chola countries with Kerala (as Chera land)  through the Kumaly pass. Mangaladevi temple the first installation by Cheran Cheguttuvan the elder of Ilango Adigal who wrote the Silapatikaram was near Kumaly, second one at Kodungallur as Pathini and the third one at Atukal.  It is said that Kannaki after burning the Pandya capital at Madurai with her ripped off breasts like Nangeli of Cherthala just a few hundred years ago, took asylum in the Mangaladevi Kottam or Madantai Kottam at an elevation of 1000m and became a Buddhist nun.  This Amana shrine was converted violently into a Hindu temple by Sambandhar and his legion of bloody rabid assassins or Hindu henchmen who specialized in killing Chamana monks and raping nuns.  It is a mockery of history and democracy that the same practices are used by post modern Hindutva and Moditva Karsevaks and Padajas in Gujarat and Orissa and the current Sambandhar or Appar, Mr Naramedha Modi is going to be prime minister.  The people who forget history can not make history taught the neo buddha of India. It is vitaly important for the old Mlechas and Avarnas to remember these lessons of history in their current resistance and future struggles.

The origin of a stream in the grassland shola at Panjalimed.  It flows south west and joins the river Manimala and reaches the Vembanad.

The origin of a stream in the grassland shola at Panjalimed. It flows south west and joins the river Manimala and flowing through Mallapally reaches the Vembanad.

Buddhism and Jainism reached Kanjirapally taluk through this historic  trade route from Tamilakam and the western ghats regions were flourishing green groves of Buddhism in the early common era. In the early middle ages after the Brahmanical internal imperialist conquest and the Saiva-Vaishnava takeovers, all these regions were Hinduized and changed into caste temples and power centres of untouchability, purity and pollution. The Avarnas were chased away even from coming to the vicinity of these Savarna monopolized temples because the caste Hindus feared that the casted away people may unite and recapture their monuments and sacred places.  This is why untouchability and unseeability were forced into social practice.

An endemic flowering shrub in the grassland atop Panjalimed, late March 2013.

An endemic flowering shrub in the grassland atop Cherupallykulam also known as Kapalu Venga and Panjalimed, originally Panjaseelamed. late March 2013.

We continued our journey through this route to east and reached Kumaly and visited the modern sanctuary, Periyar Tiger Reserve at Tekady. It is apt to remember that it was the Buddhist nuns and monks who made the earliest Saranalayas or sanctuaries for domestic and wild animals especially under the patronage of Asoka the great as early as BC third century.  Sahodaran Ayyappan had reminded all Keralites on these ethical and conservationist legacy of Buddhism through his verses.

A herd of Sambhar Deer cooling themselves in Tekady lake just across the boat landing on a hot summer afternoon in late March 2013.

A herd of Sambhar Deer cooling themselves in Tekady lake just across the boat landing on a hot summer afternoon in late March 2013.

The old big nest of the white necked stork is no more near the landing but we saw plenty of other birds and small mammals including a herd of Sambhar Deer and Giant Squirrels near the landing.  It was the sacred land of Manan tribe.  Mullakudi and Tannikudi were Manan sacred groves and tribal hamlets  from where the river Periyar originates.  But they were degraded into Mannaan (distortion of Manan meaning the rulers of the land) and their Kovil Malai (mountain shrine) kingdom was distorted into Kozhi Malai (Rooster Mountain).  These word distortions and subsequent changes in meaning explain the gravity and heinous conspiracy of Savarna Hindu ideology manifesting in internal imperialism that is proving to be genocidal for natives.

A Pipit on the grassland top of Panjalimed, late March 2013.

A Pipit on the grassland top of Panjalimed, late March 2013.