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Friday, October 9, 2015

Vaishnava Saint sculptures found in Pongalur ~Kongunadu

Kongu Nadu is a region comprising the western part of the Tamil Nadu.   Earlier,  it was the seat of the Chera kings, bounded on the east by Tondai Nadu, on the south-east by Chola Nadu and on the south by Pandya Nadu regions.   Archaeological data from the site of Kodumanal suggests historical period of 4th century BC.  Kodumanal and Perur, villages on the banks of the Noyyal River in the Coimbatore district, were situated on the ancient trade route between across the Palghat gap on the Western Ghats.  Roman coins found on these sites indicate that trade flourished between Romans and the kings of these regions.

Kongunadu comprises of many districts principally – Coimbatore, Nilgiri, Tirupur, Erode…..  a place known for flourishing economy.  Agriculture and Textiles are the main contributors to the Kongu's economy. It is one of the major producers of Apparels, Knit wear, Hosieries, Milk, Poultry, Paper, Auto parts, Sugarcane, Rice, Turmeric, and more. There are many famous temples including Sri Anjaneyar and Sri Namagiri Thayar sametha Lakshmi Narasimhar temple at Namakkal.  But there are no divyadesams in this region. 

Here is an interesting report read in The Hindu of date :  A team of archaeologists has discovered two Vaishnava saint sculptures (also called Vamana Avathar sculptures), both around 500 years old with identical carvings on the stones, at Pongalur (the one in Avinashi taluk) and Nariyampallipudur situated seven km. apart in the district.

“During those era, Vaishanava mutts or monastic establishments used to give away land to the people in Kongu region as ‘grants’ for farming activities and collect tax from the agricultural revenue. The amounts thus collected are used for renovation of temples, lightning of lamps during temple festivals in the region.

When giving away lands, these monastic establishments used to place sculptures of gods/saints to denote that the expanse was given as ‘grant’ and also for the people to worship the same for soil fertility,” S. Ravikumar, one of the members of Virarajendran Archaeological and Historical Research Centre which discovered the sculptures, told The Hindu .

In both the sculptures, Vamana holds holy pot with water on right hand (kamandalam) and the left hand has the umbrella. Both the sculptures have the emblems of sun and moon. “History books point out that the sun and moon are symbolically carved out in that era to tell the villagers that the land given as grants should be used only for the purpose meant till sun and moon exists,” pointed out C. M. Ramesh Kumar, another member of the team.

When spoke to some villagers in both the places, they were not aware of the historical importance of the stones. “We thought that it as a stone kept to mark the boundary,” said M. Kanagraj, a farmer from Nariyampallipudur on whose farm border lays one of the sculptures.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
9th Oct 2015.

Photo and news source : The Hindu :

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