Kundavai Pirāttiyār

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Born in Tirukoilur, Ālvār Sri Parāntakan Sri Kundavai Pirāttiyār(குந்தவை பிராட்டியார்Tamil) also Parāntakan Kundavai Ālvār or more popularly referred to as Kundavai Pirāttiyār was one of the most powerful queens of the Chola empire.[1] She was the daughter of Madhurantakan Sundara Chola also called as Parantaka Chola II (the king who died at the golden palace), the elder sister of Rajaraja Chola I and the aunt of Rajendra Chola I.[2][3] Kundavai was very pious and was the second most generous donor after Rajaraja Chola I at the Brihadeeswarar temple.[4] She also built various temples for Siva(Iravikulamanikka-Iswara), Vishnu (Kundavai-Vinnagar-Alvar) and Jaina (Kundavai Jinalaya).[5]

Vallavaraiyar Vandiyadeva-tam-Pirattiyar Ālvār Sri Parāntakan Sri Kundavai Pirāttiyār – This is how one of the most powerful ladies of the ancient chola kingdom gets her introduction in the famous Thanjavur temple inscriptions.[6]

Prominent role in Chola architecture[edit]

She is well known for her philanthropic activities and was one of the generous contributors of art and architecture. She regularly features in many of the important Chola inscriptions.[7] She commissioned many temples and her contributions show that she was very secular:[8]

Kundavai Jinnalaya

She built at least two Jain temples, one at Rajarajeswaram later known as Dadapuram and the other at Tirumalai. The former has disappeared into the sands of time while the latter still stands at the foot of the hill. Extensive renovations and repairs over time have masked the original architectural style of the temple. However the interior mandapa and the idol of Neminatha still bear the fine workmanship of Chola architecture.[8]

Kundavai-Vinnagar-Alvar

This was one among the many temples built by princess Kundavai. One of the related inscriptions at the temple is as follows:

Deities set up by Kundavai

When Parantaka Chola II died after a distinguished reign, his queen Vanavan Mahadevi took her own life by the rite of sati. Kundavai, had such great regard and love for her parents that when Rajaraja Chola I built the Brihadeeswarar temple at Tanjore, she set up images of her parents and made ample endowments for worship.[10] Some of the images or idols set up by princess Kundavai include:[11]

  • Ponmaligai Tunjiya Devar also known as Sundara Chola
  • Vanavan Mahadevi (Tam-ammai)
  • Uma Parameswari, consort of Dakshina Meru Vitankar
  • Uma Parameswari, consort of Tanjai Vitankar

Sundara Chola Vinnagar – Hospital

She also built a free hospital after her father; Sundara Chola Vinnagar atula salai at Thanjavur and donated extensive lands for its maintenance.[12][13]

Endowments[edit]

She made some of the most lavish donations to the Brihadeeswarar temple at Thanjavur during the reign of her younger brother, Rajaraja Chola I and her nephew Rajendra Chola I.

Here is an excerpt from the 29th year of Rajaraja that lists some of her gifts to Brihadeeswarar temple:

She was very pious and continued to make endowments well into the reign of her nephew Rajendra Chola I. Here is an excerpt, once again from the Brihadeeswarar temple at Thanjavur:

Last days[edit]

Kundavai spent the last days of her life with her nephew Rajendra Chola I at the palace in Palaiyārai.[13][15]

Honored and revered[edit]

She was one of the most revered women of the Chola empire. The day of avittam in every month is very special for the family as it is the natal star of Alvar Kundavai, the beloved elder sister of Rajaraja Chola I. An honorary festival and food offerings has been regularly arranged.[16]

  • excerpt of related inscription:

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Lalit kalā, Issue 15, page 34
  2. ^ Early Chola art, page 183
  3. ^ A Topographical List of Inscriptions in the Tamil Nadu and Kerala States: Thanjavur District, page 180
  4. ^ Worshiping Śiva in medieval India: ritual in an oscillating universe, page 5
  5. ^ Women in Indian life and society, page 49
  6. ^ South Indian Inscriptions – Vol II-Part 1 (Tanjore temple Inscriptions)
  7. ^ Śrīnidhiḥ: perspectives in Indian archaeology, art, and culture, page 364
  8. ^ a b Encyclopaedia of Jainism, page 1000
  9. ^ a b A topographical list of inscriptions in the Tamil Nadu and Kerala states, Volume 2, page 206
  10. ^ Portrait sculpture in south India, page 34
  11. ^ Middle Chola temples:Rajaraja I to Kulottunga I (A.D. 985–1070), page 42
  12. ^ Ancient system of oriental medicine, page 96
  13. ^ a b Great women of India, page 306
  14. ^ a b South Indian inscriptions: Volume 2, Parts 1–2
  15. ^ Encyclopaedia of Status and Empowerment of Women in India: Status and position of women in ancient, medieval and modern India, page 176
  16. ^ Middle Chola temples: Rajaraja I to Kulottunga I (A.D. 985–1070), page 381
  17. ^ Śāṅkaram: recent researches on Indian culture, page 97

References[edit]

  • Great women of India By Madhavananda (Swami.), Ramesh Chandra Majumdar
  • Lalit kalā, Issue 15, Lalit Kalā Akademi., 1972
  • Early Chola Art Volume 1 of Early Chola Art: By S. R. Balasubrahmanyam
  • Middle Chola temples: Rajaraja I to Kulottunga I (A.D. 985–1070) By S. R. Balasubrahmanyam, Oriental Press, 1977
  • Śrīnidhiḥ: perspectives in Indian archaeology, art, and culture By K. R. Srinivasan, K. V. Raman
  • Encyclopaedia of Jainism, Volume 1 By Indo-European Jain Research Foundation
  • Portrait sculpture in south India By T. G. Aravamuthan
  • Ancient system of oriental medicine By S.P. Verma
  • Worshiping Śiva in medieval India: ritual in an oscillating universe By Richard H. Davis
  • Women in Indian life and society By Amitābha Mukhopādhyāẏa
  • A Topographical List of Inscriptions in the Tamil Nadu and Kerala States, Volume 7, T. V. Mahalingam, Indian Council of Historical Research, 1985
  • A topographical list of inscriptions in the Tamil Nadu and Kerala states, Volume 2, T. V. Mahalingam, Indian Council of Historical Research, 1985
  • Śāṅkaram: recent researches on Indian culture By S. Sankaranarayanan, S. S. Ramachandra Murthy, B. Rajendra Prasad, D. Kiran Kranth Choudary
  • South Indian inscriptions: Volume 2, Parts 1–2 By Eugen Hultzsch, India. Archaeological Survey, India. Dept. of Archaeology
  • Encyclopaedia of Status and Empowerment of Women in India: Status and position of women in ancient, medieval and modern India By Raj Pruthi, Rameshwari Devi, Romila

Pruthi