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Posts Tagged ‘Raja Raja Chola’

In our continuing pursuit to bring to light the extent of the rot - today we move away from Hindu dieties and metal - to stone and Buddha - not any Buddha but a Buddha from Nagapattinam 11th Century. This was a dynamic period in the Chola rule when the mighty Emperor Sri Raja Raja ruled much of South India. His extensive donations to the Soodamani Vihara in Nagapattinam is studied to this day and to spot one such piece in the September 2010 Catalogue of now arrested Subash Kapoor’s Art of Past is the subject of our post today.

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What is interesting is there is this particular article in the Hindu with the image dated Nov 11th 2012, which seem to bear a remarkable likeness to the catalog sculpture.

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The foot note makes it even more interesting: ” The Buddhist statue marked for theft by alleged Kapoor associate, Sanjivi Asokan, but not stolen owing to police action.”

and the report goes ” One Buddhist idol was said to have been marked for theft by Kapoor’s alleged head of operations in Tamil Nadu, the now-imprisoned Sanjivi Asokan. However, that idol was ultimately not stolen, quite likely due to timely action by authorities. “

The image in the publication is not very clear but there is a very important clue in the Buddha’s hand - his right thumb is broken.

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A careful study of the catalog reveals the same breakage in it as well.

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Now obviously something is amiss. The Catalog listing also boasts that the said sculpture was exhibited in the Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore ” On the Nalanda Trial “ from 1st Nov 2007 to 23rd March 2008. It was a prestigious exhibition which was seen even by the Prime Minister of India Dr Manmohan Singh.

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The Press release of the ACM for the event has this said sculpture with a detailed foot note as well

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“…viewed stunning Buddhist art, including this 11th Century stone sculpture from South India, weighing over 700 kg.”

Now, what timely action are we talking off. The photo in the Hindu seems to be of the Buddha in situ in a site in India ( large temple wall abutting it??) -

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Fellow enthusiast Shankar had been pushing me to see a faint outline of a Ganesha for sometime now, but for some unexplainable reason, I never spent time to study it, despite him sending me some real high resolution images. Little did I realise then what it held in it and that it would choose its own time to reveal itself to us.

When Numismatist Sri Raman said that he had some photos that had come into a waste paper mart, which seemed to cover areas of my interest and if i would like to procure them, i hadn’t the faintest idea of what they would contain. Yet, he persisted and sent me a few scanned images. He had picked them wisely, one was an immaculate bronze and another the famed Tanjore big temple painting - but the images were atleast half a century old !!! I took the bait and asked him to get the entire lot.

When Arvind and me looked at the eclectic mix of fading monographs, one set struck our eyes. They were marked on reverse Thirunandikkarai and dated 1942.

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My thoughts raced to Shankar and he obliged by sending his entire collection as the cave stood today ” Thiru Nandikkarai - a cave temple protected by ASI in Kanyakumari district, 10Kms from Thiruvattaru ( 40 Kms from nagerkoil)”

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The insides of the cave ( as he had sent me earlier - you wouldn’t fault me for not going over it properly !)

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The cave itself is attributed stylistically to 8th C CE ( you can see the provision of a channel for the daily ablution water to flow out of the sanctum which is considered a later feature)

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But what i had missed earlier was the faint red outlines which Shankar had been pushing me to study.

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It was when i say the half a century old photographs from the waste paper mart that i realised the folly.

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A classy Ganapathy complete with his own dwarf attendant on the top ( reminded me of similar ones from the Kanchi Kailsantha temple !) - notice the bold strokes of the hands. Sadly much has been lost since the time the photos were taken.

This was not all, there were more in the collection. Let me draw your attention to the wall we saw earlier, slightly to the top center right.

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Now to reference the photographs

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Simply stunning yet sad at the continuing loss of our treasures.

There are two more sets in the collection, which we have not been able to spot in current day.

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What are these depictions ?

Btw, the cave holds another very important historical information in its entrance.

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There is some speculation on the Birthstar of the Great Raja Raja Chola - if he is born in Aippasi Sadayam or Chittirai Sadayam.

Dr. Kudavayil Balasubramaniam in his book on Tiruvarur Thyagaraja temple, quotes an inscription of Rajendra Chola that gives clarity on subject::

” Naam Pirantha Aadi thiruvathiriyum
Nam Ayyan Pirandharuliya AIPPASI SADHAYAMUM .. ”

The article by sir and the text of inscription

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- says Rajendra I and gives a grant on the Natal Star of Rajendra I and his father Rajaraja I.

However, in this very cave in Thiru Nandikkarai there is an inscription of Sri Raja Raja himself,

TRAVANCORE STATE

Tirunandikkarai.

185. On the east wall of the rock-cut iva shrine. Belongs to
the eighteenth year of Rajaraja I and records grant to the temple
for the celebration of a festival in Aippasi, Satabhisha, the birth-
day of the king. See Trav. Arch. Ser. t Vol. I, pp. 291-2.”

Btw, we do not know which great soul these collection of old photographs are and how they ended up in a waste paper mart. There are no names on them and hence if someone could identify any, please let us know.

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