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Thursday, June 1, 2023

Sri Varadharajar Brahmothsavam 2023 - Kanchi - Kadamba dynasty !

Very unlikely that you would have heard of Kadamba dynasty – established by Mayura Sharma,  a learned Brahman. History records that  Mayurasharma came to  Kanchipuram for education, was insulted by some Pallava officials. To avenge his insult, he took up a military profession, defeated Pallava officials scoring a point.

Kanchipuram,  Thirukachi is Saptapuri, one of the  seven holiest cities, - mokshapuri, the city of  salvation. One of the country’s oldest continuously inhabited cities, Kanchipuram was called the city of a thousand temples, and it has more than a hundred even today. While it will take an eternity to explore all of Kanchi’s temples we would immediately tend to associate the city with Pallava kings. 

            The Pallava dynasty existed from 275 CE to 897 CE, ruling a significant portion of southern India also known as Tondaimandalam. They gained prominence after the downfall of the Satavahana dynasty.   Most of the history that we read in schools was about   the reign of Mahendravarman I (600–630 CE) and Narasimhavarman I (630–668 CE).  During their reign, they remained in constant conflict with both the Chalukyas of Badami in the north, and the Tamil kingdoms of Chola and Pandyas in the south. The Pallavas were finally defeated by the Chola ruler Aditya I in the 9th century CE.

            The Pallavas are famous for  their patronage of architecture, the finest example being the Shore Temple, and grand architectural masterpieces at Mamallapuram.   Kancheepuram served as the capital of the Pallava kingdom. The dynasty left behind magnificent sculptures and temples, and are recognised to have established the foundations of medieval South Indian architecture. They developed the Pallava script, from which Grantha ultimately took form. This script eventually gave rise to several other Southeast Asian scripts such Khmer. The Chinese traveller Xuanzang visited Kanchipuram during Pallava rule and extolled their  rule. 

Synonymous with spirituality, serenity, and silk, the temple town of Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu, is dotted with ancient temples that are architectural marvels and a visual treat, states Situated on the banks of River Vegavathi, this historical city once had 1,000 temples, of which only 126 (108 Shaiva and 18 Vaishnava) now remain. Its rich legacy has been the endowment of the Pallava dynasty, which made the region its capital between the 6th and 7th centuries and lavished upon its architectural gems that are a fine example of Dravidian styles.

The Kadambas (345–540 CE) were an ancient royal family of Karnataka,  that ruled northern Karnataka and the Konkan from Banavasi in present-day Uttara Kannada district. The kingdom was founded by Mayurasharma in c. 345, and at later times showed the potential of developing into imperial proportions. An indication of their imperial ambitions is provided by the titles and epithets assumed by its rulers, and the marital relations they kept with other kingdoms and empires, such as the Vakatakas and Guptas of northern India. Mayurasharma defeated the armies of the Pallavas of Kanchi possibly with the help of some native tribes and claimed sovereignty. The Kadamba power reached its peak during the rule of Kakusthavarma.

The Kadambas were contemporaries of the Western Ganga Dynasty and together they formed the earliest native kingdoms to rule the land with autonomy. From the mid-6th century the dynasty continued to rule as a vassal of larger Kannada empires, the Chalukya and the Rashtrakuta empires for over five hundred years during which time they branched into minor dynasties. Notable among these are the Kadambas of Goa, the Kadambas of Halasi and the Kadambas of Hangal.  The Kadambas were the first indigenous dynasty to use Kannada, the language of the soil, at an administrative level.  

Mayurasharma or Mayuravarma (reigned 345–365 CE), a native of Talagunda (in modern Shimoga district), was the founder of the Kadamba Kingdom of Banavasi, the earliest native kingdom to rule over what is today the modern state of Karnataka.    The earliest Kannada language inscriptions are attributed to the Kadambas of Banavasi.

For a  Srivaishnavaite, Perumal Koil refers to “Sri Varadharaja Swamy thirukovil’ at Kanchipuram.  Legend has it that Brahma performed Asvamedha yaga at mokshapuri i.e., Kanchi and Lord Vishnu emerged out of the fire with Sanku Chakram. It is believed that the annual Uthsavam was initiated by Brahma himself. Indira’s white elephant Iravatham took the form of a hill called Hastigiri on which shrine of Varadharajar is located. This Swami is known by various names, prominent among them being : Devarajar, Devathirajar, Thepperumal, Varadhar, PerArulalar … 

Now is the time for the annual Brahmothsavam of Sri Devathi Rajar.  Garuda Sevai and   Thiruther  are among the most important ones drawing crowds in lakhs.  Here are some photos of Sri Varadharajar in Hamsa vahanam on day 1 of Uthsavam at Thiruvallikkeni this evening.

adiyen Srinivasadhasan
Mamandur Veeravalli  Srinivasan Sampathkumar

PS :  our village Mamandur is situated less than 10 km from Kanchi on the way to Vandavasi (Thiruvathur) identified as Doosi Mamandur by Dhoosi its  twin hamlet.  

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