Discovery of Ancient Ring and Overview of Pandyan Dynasty

Discovery of Ancient Ring and Overview of Pandyan Dynasty

Question: An ancient silver ring belonging to the Pandya dynasty has recently been found in Karur, TN. Provide details of this discovery and present an overview of the Pandyan empire.

The Discovery

• A silver ring with inscription in ancient Tamil Brahmi script has been located in the Amravati river bed in Karur, TN

• The extremely stylised script depicts a punctuated Pandya fish emblem

• It has been suggested that the ring’s script reads “peruvazhuthi.”

• Peruvazhuti refers to a Pandya king who, according to the Tamil sangam tradition, has performed several vedic yagas and rituals

• The engraving of the letters are in bold, legible characters

• The complete name of the king who is mentioned in early Tamil Sangam songs is Palyagasalai Mutukutumi Peruvazhuthi

• Letters on the ring can be attributed to an early evolution stage of Tamil Brahmi characters on account of palaeographical features of the script

• It has been observed that characters showing the Dravidian sound Zha displays the earliest form of letter found in cave labels of Arittappatti- Mangulam group of inscriptions of the 3rd or 2nd century BCE

• The ring is an important discovery in the historical and epigraphical studies of ancient Tamilakam

Pandyan Dynasty

• Pandya dynasty ruled regions in southern India now lying in state of TN

• They coexisted alongside other dynasties such as the Cheras, Cholas and Pallavas

• Early Pandyas experienced a revival in 6th century AD to be subdued by the Cholas in the 9th century and rise once again in the 12th century

• Pandyas enjoyed diplomatic ties with the Ptolemy Egyptians, Roman republic, Greek and Chinese among others
• The Pandyan kingdom was independent of the Mauryan rule of northern India and established friendly ties with the latter

• Marco Polo has mentioned the Pandyan kingdom as has Megasthenes in the world Indika and Chinese voyager Yu Huan

• Following an invasion by the Delhi Sultanate in the 14th century, the kingdom met its end

• The Pandyas then became part of the Vijaynagar empire

• Word Pandya is derived from Pandi which means bull

• Pandyas are believed to have taken part in the Kurukshetra war on the side of the Pandavas

• Following the end of the Sangam age, the first Pandyan empire was established when Kadungon defeated Kalabhras in 6th century

• The lineage of the Pandyan kings is as follows:

- Kadungon: From 560 to 590 AD
- Maravarman Avani Culamani: 590 to 620 AD
- Cezhiyan Cendan: 620 to 640 AD
- Arikesari Maravarman Nindraseer Nedumaaran: 640 to 674 AD
- Kochadaiyan Ranadhiran: 675 to 730 AD
- Arikesari Parankusa Maravarman Rajasinga: 730 to 765 AD
- Parantaka Nedunjadaiyan: 765 to 790 AD
- Rasasingan II: 790 to 800 AD
- Varagunan I: 800 to 830 AD
- Sirmara Srivallabha: 830 to 862 AD
- Varaguna II: 862 to 880 AD
- Parantaka Viranarayana: 862 to 905 AD
- Rajasimha III: 905 to 920 AD

Facts and Stats

• Earliest Pandyan epigraph was found in Nedunjeliyan, who figures in the Minakshipuram record assigned from the second to the first centuries B.C.E.

• This documents the gift of rock cut beds to a Jain ascetic

• Pandyas also find mention in the Pillars of Ashoka (inscribed from 273 to 232 B.C.E.)

• The Pandya kings were called either Jatavarman or Maravarman.

• They changed to Shaivites from Jain and are celebrated in early Tamil poetry

• Five Pandyas grew from 12 to 14 century and assumed control of the extreme south as far as Nellore (1257)

• Muslim invasions and infighting spelled the end of this empire in the 16th century AD.
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