Monday, August 31, 2015

Rajaraja Chola I Inscription in Big Temple Thanjavur: Arithmetic of Banana Fruits Offerings to Vinayaka


Thanjavur Big Temple aka Rajarajesvaram. Ganesa Shrine @  South - West
Banana Fruit Offering to Vinayaka Shrine in Big Temple, Thanjavur


The Chola dynasty, one of the longest-ruling dynasties (850 -1250 AD) in Southern India,  built the temples over a period of nearly 200 years. The Brihadeeswarar Temple or Peruvudaiyar Kovil, also known as Rajarajeswaram, at Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu is not only the greatest glories of Chola architecture with its Dravidian style of temple, tall vimanam, finest sculptures, murals and carvings, but also a repository of the Imperium's records inscribed on the walls of the vimanam, pillars and podium. According to Dr. R. Nagaswamy, former Director, Tamil Nadu Archaeology Department, the Brihadeeswarar Temple 'is the only temple in the whole of India, wherein the builder himself has left behind a very large number of inscriptions on the temple's construction, its various parts, the daily rituals to be performed for the Linga, the details of the offerings such as jewellery, flowers and textiles, the special worship to be performed, the particular days on which they should be performed, the monthly and annual festivals, and so on.' There are inscriptions in this temple focusing on temple staff including drummers, flag and parasol bearers, torch bearers, tailors, surgeons, physicians etc, their qualifications, duties, responsibilities, tenure and terms of service. The temple also employed singers to recite the Tamil and Sanskrit hymns including Devaram (Pathiyam Paduvar) as well as 400 danseuses (Talipnedir) to dance during temple festival processions and daily pooja rituals.

The Imperium under Rajaraja Chola I had a 3-tiered administration system which provided enough decentralization without making for a weak Center. Their superior irrigation system is responsible for that region to be among the granaries of South IndiaThe Exchequer of Rajarajesvaramutaiyar was functioning like the Nationalized Banks in India. The emperor gave extensive grants to this temple. Let me quote the famous inscription of Thanjavur Big Temple:

நாம் கொடுத்தனவும் நம் அக்கன் கொடுத்தனவும் நம் பெண்டுகள் கொடுத்தனவும் கொடுப்பார் கொடுத்தனவும்...இந்தக் கல்லிலே வெட்டியருளுக என்று திருவாய்மொழிஞ்சருளி....."
‘Naam kuduthanavum nam akkaan kuduthanavum nam pendugal koduthanavum koduthar koduthanavum…inthak kallile vettiyaruluka enru thiruvoy mozhintharuli’

Meaning: Inscribe all the grants to the Big Temple on the wall of the Vimana of the prime deity including What I have contributed; What my elder sister has contributed; What my wives have contributed and Whatever person has contributed.

The site for building temple was gifted by the public from the town or village. The Chola king donated the agriculture land for the maintenance of the temple. Provisions such as rice, dal. ghee, salt, pepper, vegetables, betel leaves, areca nut etc, were accepted as gift from public.  The Chola temples served not only as places of worship but also as centers of public administration, judiciary and community welfare institutions and secular and cultural spaces authorized to handle public finance. They were also run as corporations. They were authorized issue land grants and empowered to invest their assets as they considered fit. They also functioned as banks and inscribed (recorded) the contributions and investments from the king and public. Temples also employed huge skilled manpower - artisans, padiyam (Devaram) reciters, musicians, dancers (devadasis) etc.  The sabhas or assemblies also provided free Vedic education, food, shelter and even medication to the upper caste boys within temple premises.

The inscriptions also tell about the two divisions of Thanjavur city: Ullalai (inner city) and Purambadi (city outskirts). Purambadi, built during the reign of Rajaraja I, could have been the outskirts of the proper city. The Tribhuvanamadeviyar big market and the big streets named after the titles of Rajaraja I, i.e, Virasola street, Nitta Vinoda street, Mummudichola street, Viraigamani street etc. A public hospital attached to a Vishnu temple named after Sundara Chola, called Sundarachola Vinnagara Salai, endowed by Kundavai, the sister of Rajaraja Chola, had existed. 

Vinayaka shrine is the subsidiary shrine located in the south west corner of the of the cloistered mandapa (திருச்சுற்று மாளிகை) in the Big temple. This Vinayaka idol belongs to Chola period and was consecrated by Rajaraja Chola I himself. There is another Ganesa shrine built in 1803 and consecrated by Maratha King Serfoji II.  The goddess shrine was added by the Pandyas during 13th century. The shrine of the Subramanya  was also added in the 17th century by Vijayanagara kings. 

 Rajaraja Chola I made many gold jewelry offerings including two bracelets ("பாகுவளையம்") to this Vinayaka. The Chola inscriptions call this Vinayagar shrineas "Parivaara aalayathup pillaiyar."  The inscription (South Indian Inscriptions Vol II, p.150.) of Rajaraja Chola I, inscribed  on the external front wall of the Vinayakar shrine, dictates the offering of 150 banana fruits daily as donation for preparation of banana amuthu (வாழைப்பழ அமுது) for the pooja rituals of  'Sri Rajaraja Thevar Temple Pillaiyar Ganapathiyar' (ஸ்ரீ ராஜராஜ தேவர் ஆலயத்துப் பிள்ளையார் கணபதியார்). For the uninterrupted provision of banana fruits in specified number, Rajaraja Chola I opened a customized recurring deposit ( ‘வைப்புக்கணக்கை’) account  in the names of merchants (‘நகரத்தார்’) belonging to four different streets located in the Thanjavur outskirts (தஞ்சாவூர்ப் புறம்படி) at Thanjavur, (a city) in Thanjavur –kurram (தஞ்சாவூர்க் கூற்றம்), (a subdivision) of Pandyakulasani-Valanadu. According to this scheme, the merchants four streets shall remit 360 kasus (Chola coin currency) as recurring deposit.  1.  60 kasus by merchants of Nitta Vinoda Street ; 2. 120 kasus by merchants of Mummudi Chola Street ; 3. 120 kasus by merchants of Virasigamani Street  and 4. 60 kasus by merchants of Tiribhuvana Maadevi Big Bazaar) total 360 kasus. The Annual Interest of 45 kasus at the rate of 12.5 %, accrued on this recurring deposit, shall be used for purchase and supply 150 banana fruits per day for daily offerings to 'Sri Rajaraja Thevar Temple Pillaiyar Ganapathiyar' (ஸ்ரீ ராஜராஜ தேவர் ஆலயத்துப் பிள்ளையார் கணபதியார்).

How the Chola emperor calculated the number of banana fruits requirement as 150 per day? The arithmetic is tricky. For one coin 1200 banana fruits can be purchased (!). From 45 kaus i.e, the interest accrued for one year 1200 x 45 = 54000 (fifty four thousand only) banana fruits can be purchased. If the dividend of 54000 fruits (annual requirement)  divided by the divisor 150 (daily requirement), the quotient will be 360 with nil remainder. As per Chola calendar system an year comprise only 360 days.
Kasus 45 x 1200 = 54000 banana fruits  

banana fruits 54000 / 150 = 360 Days 

Table 1: Deposits received from Streets; Amount as Deposit; Interest Rate; One Year Interest and No. of Banana fruits required per Day 

No Street Deposit
in Kasu
Interest
Rate (Kasu)
1 Yr
Interest
Bananas / Day
1 Nitta Vinoda Street 60 1/8 7 1/2 25 Nos
2 Mummudi Chola Street 120 1/8 15 50 Nos
3 Virasigamani Street 120 1/8 15 50 Nos
4 Tiribhuvana Maadevi Bazaar 60 1/8 7 1/2 25 Nos


360
45 Kasu 150 Nos

At present inflation is showing no sign of easing. It is not only the seasonal vegetables that are escalating in price but also the basic vegetable like  onion and tomato prices have shot through the roof in the Indian metros. The Indian onion crisis of 2015 describes the dramatic rise in the cost of onions across markets in India. The crisis was caused by errant rainfall in the onion producing regions which led to a shortage of onion production. Similarly winter fruits like apple, pomegranate, guavas, and grapes are selling at higher prices.

During Imperial Chola rule the price of banana fruit remained constant over a period of time i.e, there was inflation or devaluation of money. How it was possible for Rajaraja Chola I to contain the commodities price?

The Big Temple aka Rajarajesvaram also functioned like the 'exchequer' during Chola period. It was known as 'Exchequer of Rajarajesvaramutaiyar' (‘ராஜராஜேஸ்வரமுடையார் பெரும்பண்டாரம்’) and the total revenue of Rajarajesvaram was unified under this head. It also remained as the center of the Chola administration for many years, channeling the state revenue into a number of civic projects. If the gifts in coins (காசுக்கொடை), the interest  amount realized was mentioned as polisai kasu (பொலிசை காசு). The capital investment received to this exchequer was again disbursed to merchants and village sabhas on loan. An interest of 1/8 coin i.e, 12.5 per cent, was levied as interest for every coin. The Chola inscriptions indicate such interest as 'Polisai' (பொலிசை) or Polisai Interest (‘பொலிசை வட்டி’).

Gold gifts expressed in weighing units such as Kalanju. Kundrimani (Abrus precatorius) and  Manjadi (Adenanthera pavonina) are very consistent in weight. Ancient Tamils  was used both the seeds as units of weight to weigh gold using a measure called kunrimani seed (0.133 gm) and manjadi seed (approximately 0.266 gm). Twenty manjadis or  forty kundrimanis made one Kalanju (5.320 gms or approximately 1.5 sovereign). Thirty manjadis or sixty kundrimanis made one sovereign or poun weighing 7.98 gm.  

They issued 3 types of coins over 12 centuries ago. Kalanju was the currency prevalent in the Chola kingdom. One kasu would correspond to the value of 24 kuruni (one kuruni = 8 kg; 24 x 8 = 192 kg) or 2 kalam (one kalam = 91 kg) of paddy.  T.Desikachari in his book 'South Indian Coins' provides details about Chola coins. 'Chola inscriptions constantly refer to the Madurantaka Madai as a coin with reference to which the fitness and weight of other coins in gold had to be tested. The madai was probably equal to a Kalanju while the panam was equal to a Manjadi. The Rajarajan kasu mentioned in the Chola inscriptions of Tanjore seems to be varied from 3/4 to 15/16 of a Kalanju.... 'Pon' and 'Kasu' are likewise used for gold coins in the Chola period.' 

Inscription in Tamil Script

“ஸ்வாதிஸ்தி ஸ்ரீ உடையார் ஸ்ரீ ராஜராஜ தேவர் ஆலயத்துப் பிள்ளையார் கணபதியார்க்கு வாழைப்பழம் அமுது செய்தருள உடையார் பண்டாரத்துப் பொலிசையூட்டுக்கு வைத்தருளின காசும் இக்காசு பொலிசையூட்டுக்கு கொண்ட அங்காடிகளும் கல்லில் வெட்டியது.

Hail! Prosperity! There was engraved on stone  the money, which the lord Sri-Rarajadeva had been pleased to deposit in the treasury of the lord, to be put out to interest (for supplying) plantains, to be offered to (the image of) Pillaiyar Ganapati in the (surrounding) hall (alaya), and the markets, which had received this money on interest.

ஆலயத்துப் பிள்ளையார் கணபதியார்க்கு அமுது செய்தருள நிசதம் வாழைப்பழம் நூற்றைம்பதாக ஒராட்டைக்கு வந்த வாழைப்பழம் ஐம்பத்து நாலாயிரத்துக்கு காசு ஒன்றுக்கு வாழைப்பழம் ஆயிரத்திருநூறாக வந்த காசு நாற்பத்து ஐஞ்சுக்கு காசு ஒன்றுக்கு ஆட்டை வட்டம் அரைகாற் காசு பொலிசையூட்டாக  செல்லவைத்த காசு முன்னூற்று அறுபது

Three hundred and sixty kasu were deposited (under the condition) that, as long as the moon and the sun endure, an interest of one eighth kasu per year should be paid for each kasu, in order to realize forty-five kasu for (purchasing), — at the rate of one thousand and two hundred plantains for each kasu, — fifty-four thousand platains per year, viz., one hundred and fifty plantains per day, to be offered to (the image of) Pillaiyar Ganapati in the (surrounding) hall.

இக்காசில் தஞ்சாவூர்க் கூற்றத்து தஞ்சாவூர்ப் புறம்படி நித்த விநோதகப் பெருந்தெருவில் நகரத்தார் உடையார் ஸ்ரீ ராஜ ராஜ தேவர்க்கு யாண்டு இருபத்தொன்பதாவது பசான் முதல் கொண்ட காசு அறுபதினாற் காசு ஒன்றுக்கு ஆட்டை வட்டம் அரைக்காற் காசு பொலிசையாகக் கடவ பொலிசைக் காசு ஏழரைக்கு  உடையார் பண்டாரத்தே நிசதம் இடக்கடவ வாழைப்பழம் இருபத்தைஞ்சு

The citizens of the high-street (perunderu) (called after) Nittavinoda within the limits of Tanjavur, (a city) in Tanjavur-kurram, have to supply every day, as long as the moon and the sun endure, twenty-five plantains to the treasury of the lord in payment of the interest, — which amounts to seven and a half kasu (per year), — on the sixty kasu, which they have received out of this money after (the harvest of) the pasan in the twenty-ninth year (of the reign) of the lord Sri-Rajarajadeva, — the rate of interest being one eighth kasu per year for each kasu.

தஞ்சாவூர்க் கூற்றத்து தஞ்சாவூர்ப் புறம்படி மும்முடிச் சோழப் பெருந்தெருவில் நகரத்தார் உடையார் ஸ்ரீ ராஜ ராஜ தேவர்க்கு யாண்டு இருபத்தொன்பதாவது பசான் முதல் கொண்ட காசு நூற்றிரு பதினாற் காசு ஒன்றுக்கு ஆட்டை வட்டம் அரைக்காற் காசு பொலிசையாகக் கடவ பொலிசைக் காசு பதினைஞ்சுக்கு  உடையார் பண்டாரத்தே நிசதம் இடக்கடவ வாழைப்பழம் ஐம்பது

The citizens of the high-street (called after) Mummudi-Sora within the limits of Tanjavur, (a city) in Tanjavur-kurram, have to supply every day, as long as the moon and the sun endure, fifty plantains to the treasury of the lord in payment of the interest, which amounts to fifteen kasu (per year), — on the one hundred and twenty kasu, which they have received after (the harvest of) the pasan in the twenty-ninth year (of the reign) of the lord Sri-Rajarajadeva, — the rate of interest being one eighth kasu per year for each kasu.

தஞ்சாவூர்க் கூற்றத்து தஞ்சாவூர்ப் புறம்படி வீரசிகாமனிப் பெருந்தெருவில் நகரத்தார் உடையார் ஸ்ரீ ராஜ ராஜ தேவர்க்கு யாண்டு இருபத்தொன்பதாவது பசான் முதல் கொண்ட காசு நூற்றிரு பதினால் காசு ஒன்றுக்கு ஆட்டை வட்டம் அரைக்காற் காசு பொலிசையூட்டாக ஆட்டை வட்டம் அரைக்காற் காசு பொலிசையாகக் கடவ பொலிசைக் காசு பதினைஞ்சுக்கு  உடையார் பண்டாரத்தே நிசதம் இடக்கடவ வாழைப்பழம் ஐம்பது

The citizens of the high-street (called after) Virasikhamani within the limits of Tanjavur, (a city) in Tanjavur-kurram, have to supply every day, as long as the moon and the sun endure, fifty plantains to the treasury of the lord in payment of the interest, which amounts to fifteen kasu (per year), — on the one hundred and twenty kasu, which they have received after (the harvest of) the pasan in the twenty-ninth year (of the reign) of the lord Sri-Rajarajadeva, — the rate of interest being one eighth kasu per year for each kasu.

தஞ்சாவூர்க் கூற்றத்து தஞ்சாவூர்ப் புறம்படி திரிபுவன மாதவிப் பேரங்காடி நகரத்தார் உடையார் ஸ்ரீ ராஜ ராஜ தேவர்க்கு யாண்டு இருபத்தொன்பதாவது பசான் முதல் கொண்ட காசு அறுபதினாற் காசு ஒன்றுக்கு ஆட்டை வட்டம் அரைக்காற் காசு பொலிசையாகக் கடவ பொலிசைக் காசு ஏழரைக்கு  உடையார் பண்டாரத்தே நிசதம் இடக்கடவ வாழைப்பழம் இருபத்தைஞ்சு”

The citizens of the great market (per-angadi) (called after) Tribhuvanamahadevi within the limits of Tanjavur, (a city) in Tanjavur-kurram, have to supply every day, as long as the moon and the sun endure, twenty-five plantains to the treasury of the lord in payment of the interest, — which amounts to seven and a half kasu (per year), — on the sixty kasu, which they have received after (the harvest of) the pasan in the twenty-ninth year (of the reign) of the lord Sri-Rajarajadeva, — the rate of interest being one eighth kasu per year for each kasu.

Reference

  1. Desikachari, T. South Indian Coins. Asian Educational Services. New Delhi. 1991. 231 pages
  2. Raja Raja Chola I (முதலாம் இராசராச சோழன்) Fact File Know Your Heritage. Blogspot. Wednesday, July 30, 2014
  3. South Indian inscriptions Vol II page 150, Edn 1892 – 1983 ASI Navrang Pub – Prof E. Hultzsch
  4. இராஜராஜன் வழிபட்ட பிள்ளையார். டாக்டர். இரா. நாகசாமி.  
  5. தஞ்சைப் பெரிய கோயில்: ஆயிரம் ஆண்டு அற்புதம். தஞ்சை வெ. கோபாலன். தி இந்து (தமிழ்) செப் 25, 2010
 
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