A dramiDa prashasti concerning shAstA

One topic of some interest in the evolution of the mantra-shAstra is the emergence of the shAstA tantra-s the most voluminous of which is the kulAla-tantra. We had earlier shown how shAstA has emerged from an earlier equestrian deity revanta who was a part of the saura sect. A memory of this is preserved in the Tantric compendium of chenas-nArAyanan nambutiripad as also the North Indian mantra manuals such as the mantra-mahodadhi. But Arya was established as a distinct deity as early as the 200s of CE and certainly by the 600s of CE in the drAviDa country. Given the large sthapanA-tantra like material in the kulAla tantraM of which I have seen a bunch of manuscripts in the drAviDa country I was curious as to investigate their provenance.

For this purpose I started looking at Tamil prashasti-s from the choLa country. There was one from the north wall of the viShNu temple of vaikuNTha-perumAl in Uttaramallur concerning a large temple of shAstA. It is dated to the 50th day of the reign of pArthivendrAdhipati-varman who defeated the pANDya-s of madhurai. Its officiants are the members of the assembly of the brAhminical village of the uttarameru-chaturvedi-ma~NgalaM. The temple was built in a large piece of land in the south of the village of uttarameru. The inscription was written by a certain brAhmaNa shivadAsan brahmapriyan and the rite of consecrating the temple land was performed by a certain shAttAn brahmakuTTan (probably a Prakrit form of shAstA brahmagupta) from the puLiya~NguDi village. The personal name of this ritualist itself contains the name of the deity and he is described as performing the pUrvAcharaM. The inscription also mentions that the assembly intends the performance of shrI-bali and archanAbhoga, both of which are mentioned with vidhi-s for performance in the kulAla-tantra. In the inscription the deity is termed both mahAshAstA and Arya.

Who was this pArthivendrAdhipati-varman? We notice on the eastern wall of the vaikuNTha-perumAl kovil an inscription which says: pArthivendra Aditya-varman who took the head of vIra-pANdya. This concordance establishes the two to be same king. He comes after gaNDarAditya and rAjAditya, which suggests that he might be aditya varman-II karikAla. But we have no evidence whether Aditya karikAla really occupied the throne. Further, there are inscriptions which talk of the 9th year of his reign. From what we know aditya karikala was murdered before he was yuvarAja for any such prolonged period. So we can only place the inscription as being between 950 and 985 of CE, during which a great temple of shAstA was built, but at least I am unsure of this choLa ruler. Of course today nothing more than ruins of the temple appear to exist.

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