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Saturday, June 8, 2024

when Kaliyan went on a foreign trip ! - and we were blissfully unaware !!

In our School days, the most sought after prize was ‘Oxford Dictionary’ acclaimed Worldwide as the best reference to English language vocabulary.   On a different note, how long would it take for the Administrators to realize that a very important possession has been stolen !?!?

Kaliyan at Thirunagari

நாராயணா எனும் நாமம் நல்ல சுற்றத்தைத் தரும்,  ஐசுவரியத்தைத் தரும்,  அடியவர்கள் படும் துயரங்களையெல்லாம் தரைமட்டமாக்கி (நிலந்தரம்), பரமபதத்தைக் கொடுக்கும் (நீள்விசும்பு), அருளோடு கைங்கரியம் என்னும் ஸ்தானத்தையும் கொடுக்கும், வலிமை கொடுக்கும், மற்றெல்லாம் தரும். பெற்ற தாயை விட அதிகமான பரிவைத் தரும். நல்லதே தரும் சொல் ‘நாராயணா என்னும் நாமம்’.  

இத்தகு சிறப்பு வாய்ந்த பாசுரங்களை நமக்கு அளித்த கலியனது பங்கு,  ஸ்ரீ நாலாயிர திவ்யப்ரபந்தத்தில் அதீதம்.  பெரிய திருமொழி, திருக்குறுந்தாண்டகம், திருநெடுந்தாண்டகம், திருவெழுகூற்றிருக்கை, பெரிய திருமடல், சிறிய திருமடல்  என 1137 பாசுரங்கள் நமக்கு அளித்துள்ளார்.

ஸ்ரீவைணவ திவ்யதேசங்களில் அதிகமானவை மங்களாசாசனம் செய்தது நம் கலியன் எனும் திருமங்கை மன்னன்தான்.  திருநாங்கூர் திவ்யதேசங்கள் தொடங்கி, தமிழகத்தில் உள்ள பற்பல திவ்யதேசங்கள் - உயர்ந்த மலைமேல் பதரி நாராயணன், இந்தியாவை தாண்டி பனிபடர் மலைகள் கொண்ட நேபாள தேசத்தில் சாளக்ராமம் எனும் முக்திநாத் என பல திருத்தலங்களை மங்களாசாசனம் செய்துள்ளார்.  திருவல்லிக்கேணி சிறப்பு விற்பெரு விழவும் என தொடங்கும் பத்து பாசுரங்கள்.   அவர் சென்ற வரிசையிலேயே அதை எல்லாம் பாடியுள்ளார் என்பது மேலும் சிறப்பு.  கலியன் என்றால் அவரது குதிரை 'ஆடல்மா' மற்றும் அவரது சிஷ்யர்கள் நினைவுக்கு வரக்கூடும்.  

இத்தகைய சிறப்பு வாய்ந்த கலியன் கடல் தாண்டி வெளிநாடு சென்றதில் வியப்பு இல்லை - சென்ற விதம் தான் நமக்கு வருத்தம் தர வல்லது.         

The University of Oxford is a collegiate research university in Oxford, England. There is evidence of teaching as early as 1096, making it one of  the oldest universities in the English-speaking world.    After disputes between students and Oxford townsfolk in 1209, some academics fled north-east to Cambridge where they established what became the University of Cambridge.


This portrait of Maharaja Pratap Singh of Sawar riding, with found in Ashmolean is quite admirable.  One would adore such possessions of Museums.    The Ashmolean came into existence in 1682, when the wealthy antiquary Elias Ashmole gifted his collection to the  Oxford University. It opened as Britain’s first public museum, and the world’s first university museum, in 1683.  Its web claims that though  the collection has evolved considerably, the founding principle remains: that knowledge of humanity across cultures and across times is important to society. A laudable intention, but the uncomfortable truth is that much of the collection was inevitably selected and obtained as a result of colonial power.


The museum opened on 24 May 1683, with naturalist Robert Plot as the first keeper.  The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology on Beaumont Street, Oxford, England, is Britain's first public museum. The present building was built between 1841 and 1845. The museum reopened in 2009 after a major redevelopment, and in November 2011, new galleries focusing on Egypt and Nubia were unveiled. 

Back home the Temple town of Kumbakonam has hundreds of Temples and one can see Temple Gopurams everywhere in the city and its vicinity.  Located about 8kms West of Kumbakonam is the historical several centuries old temple of the handsome  Sri  Soundara Raja Perumal in Sundara Perumal  thirukkoil  near Papanasam.  According to the sthala purana, Sundara Raja Perumal is said to be the Abhimana Perumal  for Pullam Bhoothang Kudi Rama, Lord of Azhagar Koil and Oppiliappan.

There is a separate sannidhi at this temple for 18 step Karuppiah(similar to Azhagar Koil) who is the  security chieftain  for this temple.  .. .. and there is a tragic story !! 

The good news today is -  Oxford has agreed to hand over a “stolen” statue to India in the university’s latest repatriation pledge.  (reproduced from Telegraph / Guardian)  The university’s Ashmolean Museum was asked to return the 500-year-old sculpture of Hindu holy man Tirumankai Alvar, alleged to have been stolen from a temple.  The Oxford museum has now agreed to hand over the artwork following pressure from India, which has been conducting a quiet campaign to reclaim treasures from Britain.  The Telegraph previously revealed that Indian officials in London and New Delhi had been tasked with securing artefacts taken during the days of the empire. They have achieved a breakthrough with the return of the Tirumankai statue, which is the latest high-profile repatriation pledged by Oxford since the university agreed to return its Benin Bronzes to Nigeria. 

A spokesman for the Ashmolean museum said: “The council of the University of Oxford supported a claim from the Indian High Commission for the return of a 16th-century bronze sculpture of Saint Tirumankai Alvar from the Ashmolean museum. “This decision will now be submitted to the Charity Commission for approval.”  This statue was sold to the Ashmolean by Sotheby's in 1967, with little known about its provenance but India claims it has been stolen from the site .  it is the bronze statue of Saint Thirumangai mannan, an Azhwar who sang paeans on Lord Maha Vishnu.  

Most likely that this statue  was created in the 16th century  for worship in the  temple of Sri Soundararaja Perumal in southern India, dedicated to Vishnu.  It was stolen and  was sold to the Ashmolean by Sotheby’s in 1967, with little known about its provenance before that sale. 50 years +  later,  Indian officials demanded that the statue be returned, claiming that it had been stolen from the site, and that photographs showed it in situ at the temple as recently as 1957. It is believed it was swapped with a fakeThese allegations of theft were made by  Mr Vijay Kumar, an antiquities expert, a Crusader in rescue of stolen idols,  the founder of the India Pride Project, who stressed the importance of the statue, saying: “These bronzes are called ‘Tirumeni’ in Tamil, which means literally ‘body of God’, and are treated as living gods when under worship.”


The Ashmolean has agreed to the repatriation request and has submitted the details to the Charity Commission, which must decide whether the University of Oxford – technically a charity – can dispense with the artwork without undermining its charitable purpose.  The repatriation decision came amid growing calls for British museums to return artefacts taken from imperial possessions, which India quietly joined. 

It was revealed in 2023 that antiquities experts in New Delhi and officials in London had been tasked with locating and pursuing the return of artefacts taken from India. New Delhi would ultimately like to see the return of treasuries like the Koh-i-Noor diamond, which once topped the Mughal emperors’ Peacock Throne, but officials are primarily focused on what has been termed “low-hanging fruit”. These first targets are artefacts that were probably stolen in recent decades, thus giving officials more leverage in requesting their repatriation.  

Sad that the idol went missing, no efforts taken by its Administrator but an  independent scholar found a 1957 photograph in the French Institute of Pondichéry, that appeared to depict the same idol in the temple of Sri Soundarrajaperumal and fought ensuring Azhwar’s return.  A spokeswoman for the Ashmolean said there had been no claim against the sculpture. “The museum acquired the statue in good faith. According to the Sotheby’s catalogue the bronze was sold from the collection of Dr JR Belmont (1886-1981),” she said.   

The Tamil Nadu Police's Idol Wing that had officials like Thiru Pon Manickavel  traced three bronze idols, stolen from Soundararaja Perumalkovil village temple near Kumbakonam 60 years ago, to museums and auction houses in the US. 5 decades after they were stolen,  in  Feb 2020,  Ka Raja, Executive Officer of the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) Department which administers the temple, lodged a complaint with the Idol Wing, complaining that an antique idol of Thirumangai Alwar was stolen from the temple and replaced with a fake one.  The executive officer, in the complaint, stated that it was believed that the idol was stolen between 1957 and 1967.  Some reports state that the three  antique idols, including one of Kalinganarthana Krishna, stolen from  temple in Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu have been traced to museums/ auction houses in the USA.  The bronze idols of Kalinganarthana Krishna, Vishnu and Sridevi were stolen from Arulmigu Soundararaja Perumal temple, Sundara Perumalkovil village in Kumbakonam, it said. 

It is no showpiece or art – it is Lord meant for worship in a Temple, not meant to be kept in Art galleries for viewing – such religious ones going missing, people not even knowing that they went missing is heart-breaking.  Worser still,  the idols of Kalinganarthana Krishna,  MahaVishnu and Sridevi also Thirumangai Azhwar had been  replaced with fake images at the temple about 60 years ago and this had gone unnoticed all these years, the police said.  

Blissfully unaware of all such occurrences with nil reaction, meantime, we continue to go to Temples once a while and complain about we having to wait sometime for darshan and not getting Prasad and more !   

"நம்மை உய்விக்கும் - நலம் தரும் சொல் - நாராயணா என்னும் நாமமே''

என அறுதியிட்டு உரைத்த திருமங்கை மன்னன் தாள்கள் பணிவோம்.

வாட்கலியன்  பரகாலன் மங்கையர்கோன் வாழியே .. .. ..

adiyen Srinivasa dhasan
Mamandur Veeravalli Srinivasan Sampathkumar
Dedicated to Sri Vijayakumar, Pon Manickavel and the few individual who have done so much in protecting our heritage 

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