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In the age of Kali


The Kali Party

For those who believe that the Indian concept of time in terms of epochal ages (of krita, treta, dwapara and kali ages) are speculations of wise men of the past, it may be time to take another look at the principle guiding their beliefs. For, a good many of the men and women who form parts of influential community and the ones who don the garb of leaders these days definitely exhibit the characteristics of leaders and nobility of age of kali as discussed in the ancient literature.

In the age of kali, say the puranas which form the traditional Indian history,Any one with enough of essential resources can become the ruler and exert his authority over others and that the human virtues touch the nadir. If the late twelfth and 13th centuries (when there were a lot of barbarian muslim invasions) exemplified this excessive wickedness of age of kali much more than the centuries that preceeded, the present age is as good a representative of the same if not better.

There was a time and there was a place. I have been to the place. The place is sendamangalam, in the present day tirukkoyilur taluk in south arcot district in tamil nadu and in a now non- descript village of tirunamanallur, lies the much ruined temple fort with vestiges of rampart walls, moat, and what may be vaguely described as damaged remains of palace buildings and bathing pools spread all over the place, and this bears silent testimony to the glory of two of the remarkable men who despite facing all odds and a severe shortage of resources in terms of men and gold upheld truth and rule of law with a characteristic display of great valour for the last time in the history of the subcontinent. They were the late pallava chieftains of 13th century A.D (Kopperunjinga deva I and II) who held sway in the region and finally perished without successors while making one last attempt to prevent corrupt, mediocre and oppurtunistic hordes from rising to power. They fought hard for the sake of justice, truth and compassion.

The story of the two chieftains and their principality was the only positive thing in an otherwise dark and gloomy period. Their fiery elegance and never-say-die attitude does not come down to us today.

Of the many political parties today, the BJP(BHARATIYA JANATA PARTY) and its allies that survive on populism, parochialism and opportunism seem to be the contemporary legatees of the dark dynasties of medieval times that foxily exploited the political confusion, corruption, ambiguity, succession crises, turmoil, weaknesses and anarchy and had often clashed catastrophically with the superpowers of the day like the Cholas and Pallavas. The wounds and humiliations suffered by those dynasties of past are seemingly being carried during modern times by BJP and allies who are looking for an oppurtunity to wipe out the same. Only a layman’s knowledge of medieval and late medieval history is needed to understand BJP’s cunning psychopolitics.

The BJP and allies give an impression that in matters of religion their say should be given the highest priority and that all matters concerning history and religion will be settled by them. nothing can cause as much harm to a faith and for that matter to democracy as creedalization and disregard for individuality.

A lot of factors have contributed to BJP’s successes though marginal it may be in the south. A little understanding of political changes and demographic and cultural shifts in the region of south from late medieval ages on give a clue to the same. After the complete decline and fading out of the great ancient clans of pallavas and cholas during the late 13th century A.D, There were a lot of political disturbances in south. A number of petty chiefs with obscure origin and questionable credibility surfaced and exited the scene. The impact on life and society was profound and most observedly the great ancient temples of Chidambaram and Srirangam and a lot many other temples in the region went without worship for a period of at least sixty years during the 14th century. This itself points to a great change in demographic settings.

With the advent of new chieftains and those patronized by them, the transactional relationship between the ruler and subjects that had existed for a long period underwent a change and the new patronage patterns were distinctly different and in many cases were diametrically opposed to the patronage patterns of the pallava and chola dynasties. This trend intensified with the advent of vijayanagar dynasty from the 15th century onwards. The change in administrative set up and style from 15th century onwards is verifiable from the available inscriptions of that period.

A vast majority of present day brahmins of Tamil nadu or ‘ tam brams ’ as their diaspora is known, and also a big majority of present populace of Tamil nadu, have descended from the ones who came during and after the vijayanagar period and mostly from the deccan region where this dynasty was housed. A good number of ‘tambrams’ are great supporters of BJP and the party draws a lot of assistance from them.

The party’s habit of manipulating evidences, puttingforth false claims, rewriting history etc is also not without prior examples and parallels. During the late 18th century the maratha serfoji, who was appointed by British as titular governor of tanjore under their supervision undertook a circumambulation of the chola country visiting temples sung by great nayanmar saints of the yore. Following this he commissioned a marathi/kannada work on his tour. Two events during this tour are worth mentioning for they point to sinister intentions of this political appointee. At the great ancient shrine at tirukkadaiyur, we hear of his encounter with a certain Abirama bhattar who we are told that while being ‘immersed’ in worshipping at the temple gave serfoji a wrong interpretation on the state of moon’s waxing and waning (he is supposed to have said it was a full moon day when it actually was a new moon day). Serfoji is supposed to have decided to test the same and pronounced a punishment if the person under question was proven false. Then during the evening as the perturbed brahmin started singing praises of the goddess enshrined in order to seek divine intervention and escape punishment, serfoji fell asleep and dreamt of a sky with full moon. Upon awakening realized his mistake of doubting the brahmin’s sincerity and revoked the punishment. The credibility and ingenuity of this incident is very much doubtful and appears to be a modification of the story of encounter between the pallava monarch mahendravarman and the illustrious saiva saint appar that took place fourteen hundred years ago and that had eventually led to the reconversion to saivite faith of the great mahendra pallava.

The second one is serfoji’s questionable intentions on repeated references to medieval chola monarchs (particularly Raja Raja) and plagiarizing of their styles and ways of life. This points to a possible intention of his to either compare himself to them (which is certainly not possible) or to expound a view that he should be regarded as their legitimate, legal successor. Given the well known antiquity of the Chola clan, their divine connection from times immemorial with tamil south, and nevertheless the kind of savage enmity that existed between the cholas and the dynasties of deccan the proposal for acceptance of this view would only point to the astonishing levels to which one can stoop to realize selfish objectives. It was during this period of 18th and 19th centuries that the sankaracharya mutt at kumbakonam that would go on to become infamous kanchi mutt came into existence.

I have to say that in these days of increasing selfishness and dumbing down, of being forced to put up with at all spheres characters whose moral codes are at the level of that of a snake’s teeth, the gut instinct of the gentlemen for knowing what is right and what is wrong is being subjected to great pressure continually. The survival of virtuosity and truth is greatly dependent on the exercise of this dormant gut instinct.


1. Periyapuranam, a chronicle on life of tamil saiva saints, by sekkizhaar, English translation by G.Vanmikanathan, published by Ramakrishna math
2. The later pallava inscriptions (tamil and sanskrit) of 13th century A.D.
3. Inscriptions of the vijayanagar dynasty
Published: 2007-12-10
Author: K Sethu Madhavan

About the author or the publisher
A management professional with eight years experience in telecommunications industry, I have written a lot of articles in subjects related to management and strategic information analysis.

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