Irunkōvēl also Irungkōvēl, Irukkuvēl, Ilangōvēlar was a title of the Irunkōvēl line of Tamil Velir kings. The Irunkovel line of kings ruled over Kō nādu identified with the Kodumbalur and surrounding areas in ancient Tamilakkam. They trace their lineage to the clan of Lord Krishna; one of the inscriptions at Kodumbalur belonging to one of the Kings in the Irunkovel line, namely Tennavan Irunkōvēl, declares that he belonged to the race of Krishna.
The contemporary of Karikala
The most famous among them was a contemporary of Karikala Chola as well as poet Kapilar and lived during the Sangam era. In addition, this particular Irunkōvēl also bore the title Pulikadimal, literally meaning the hero who destroyed the tiger or tiger slayer in reference to a hunting expedition when he breaks away from the party while being pursued by a tiger but in the end kills it. He proudly traces his lineage back by 49 preceding generations without a break to one of the kings of ancient Dvārakā. He is later defeated by Karikala and becomes a subordinate to the Chola sovereign.
It has been recorded that one Irunkōvēl was present at the coronation of a Karikala Chola after giving him some earth for the ceremony.
Encounter with Kapilar
After death of Vēl Pāri, another Velir King, Kapilar, a Sangam Tamil poet and the former's friend would approach Irunkovel and plead with him requesting him to marry the two daughters of his friend and patron (excerpt from Purananuru; Tinai:paadantinai, Turai:paricil turai);
|“||..As for me I am a friend of their father. These girls are mine. And I am a Brahmin and a poet and I have brought them with me! Among the generous caste of Velirs, you are the most generous, most a velir of the forty nine generations of Velirs who gave gifts without limit, who ruled distant Tuvarai with its long walls that seemed to be formed of bronze, the city that appeared from the sacrificial pit of a northern sage! You who reign over victories in battle! Great King with your garlanded elephants! Pulikatimal with your chaplet of blossoming flowers! You know what a man should do and so you can do, for bards, what you should do! I offer you these girls! Accept them!.||”|
But Irunkovel does not pay heed to the poet's words and instead sides with the 3 crowned kings and rather throws an insult back at him alluding to the sorry state of his friend's family. The enraged poet flares up and fires back a curse that his kingdom would fall just like his ancestor's;
|“||..Now listen to how Araiyam was destroyed, the long-established city which had been of help to your ancestors through it's gold treasured in tens of millions of pieces!..Pulikatimal, with your chaplet in flower! You who received your wealth wholly inherited from your father! There was a man among your ancestors, who was wise, like you, and showed contempt for Kazhaa Talaiyaar, who had composed celebrated poems and the destruction of his city resulted from it!.||”|
Here is an inscription belonging to one of the kings of the Irunkōvēl line from the Adhipuriswara temple in Tiruvorriyur district:
|“||Records in the reign of the Ganga-pallava king Kovijiya Kampavarman, gift of 27 kalanju of gold for offerings by Pudi Arindigai, wife of Videlvidigu-Ilangovelar of Kodumbalur in Ko-nadu. The money was placed in the hands of the residents of Vaikattur, a suburb of Tiruvorriuyur, on interest at 3 manjadi per kalanju per annum.||”|
- Epigraphia Indica, Volume 12, page 122"
- Historical heritage of the Tamils, page 287
- Journal of Indian history, Volume 42, page 883
- Pivot politics: changing cultural identities in early state formation processes, page 165
- Studies in Indian epigraphy, Volume 32, page 58
- Pivot politics: changing cultural identities in early state formation processes, page 66
- The four hundred songs of war and wisdom: an anthology of poems from classical Tamil : the purananuru Translations from the Asian classics, page 127
- The four hundred songs of war and wisdom: an anthology of poems from classical Tamil : the purananuru Translations from the Asian classics, page 128
- South Indian shrines: illustrated By P. V. Jagadisa Ayyar, page 57
- Historical heritage of the Tamils By Ca. Vē Cuppiramaṇiyan̲, Ka. Ta Tirunāvukkaracu, International Institute of Tamil Studies
- Journal of Indian history, Volume 42 By University of Allahabad. Dept. of Modern Indian History, University of Kerala. Dept. of History, University of Travancore, University of Kerala
- Epigraphia Indica, Volume 12 By Devadatta Ramkrishna Bhandarkar
- Pivot politics: changing cultural identities in early state formation processes By M. van Bakel, Renée Hagesteijn, Piet van de Velde
- Studies in Indian epigraphy, Volume 32 By Epigraphical Society of India
- The four hundred songs of war and wisdom: an anthology of poems from classical Tamil : the purananuru, Translations from the Asian classics By George L. Hart, Hank Heifetz