Rajashekhara (Chera king)
|Raja Rajadhiraja |
|Ruler of Kulasekhara/Kodungallur Chera Kingdom|
|Successor||Sthanuravi (c. 844–883 CE or 844–c. 885 CE)|
Rajashekhara (fl. 9th century CE), proposed full name Rama Rajashekhara, was a Chera (previously Kulasekhara) ruler at Kodungallur in medieval Kerala, south India. Rajasekhara is usually identified by historians with Cheraman Perumal Nayanar, the venerated Shaiva (Nayanar) poet-musician.
Rajashekhara is reputed to have presided over the Vazhapally copper plate (c. 830 CE) — the earliest epigraphical record mentioning a Chera king to be discovered from Kerala. Political authority of the Chera Perumals, like Rajasekhara, over medieval Kerala is a matter of debate. It has variously been described as a monarchy supported by a Brahmin oligarchy, or as a ritual monarchy under a "bold and visible" Brahmin oligarchy. The next Chera king of Kodungallur known to epigraphy is Sthanu Ravi "Kulasekhara" (coronation in 844 CE).
Shivanandalahari, attributed to Hindu philosopher Shankara, indirectly mentions the Chera ruler as Rajashekhara. Sanskrit poet Vasubhatta also refers to his first royal patron as "Rama" (Saurikathodaya) and "Rajasekhara" (Tripuradahana).
It was probably during Rajashekhara's reign - in 825 CE - the calendar known as the Kollam Era commenced in the port of Kollam. The calendar is also known as "Malayalam Era". The exact events that lead to the foundation of the era is still matter of scholarly debate. According to some recent scholarship, it commemorated the foundation of Kollam harbour city after the liberation of Venatu from the Pandya rule (and hence beginning of the Chera influence).
It is possible that the king "Rahappa", an unidentified monarch, whom Rashtrakuta ruler Krishna I Akalavarsha is stated to have defeated was Rama Rajasekhara. Krishna I is stated to have obtained the title "Rajadhiraja Parameswara" after defeating Rahappa.
Cheraman Perumal Nayanar
Rajasekhara is usually identified by scholars with Cheraman Perumal Nayanar, one of the sixty-three Shaiva saints (the Nayanmar) of south India. The Perumal is the author of three Tamil devotional hymns - Ponvannattandadi, Tiruvarur Mummanikkovai, and Adiyula or Tirukkailayajnana Ula.
- Ponvannattandadi - praise of the Lord of Chidambaram
- Tiruvarur Mummanikkovai - in honor of the deity of Thiruvarur
- Adiyula or Tirukkailayajnana Ula - in praise of Shiva (first of the Ulas, a form of poetic composition in Tamil)
The legend of Cheraman Perumal Nayanar is narrated in Periyapuranam, composed by the famous poet Chekkizhar, a courtier of Chola Kulottunga II, in mid-12th century CE. The collection is based on an earlier work by Nambi Andar Nambi (10th-11th centuries CE) Periyapuranam also gives a full account of Kodungallur/Makotai as the capital city of Cheraman Perumal Nayanar. The Thiruvanchikulam Siva Temple in Makotai, "where the mountainous waves of the ocean beat against the shore", figures in the lyrics of Chundara Murti Nayanar, the friend of Cheraman Perumal Nayanar.
Cheraman Perumal, according to Chekkizhar, was the son of a king who lived in Kodungallur or Tiru Makotai. The legend tells that the young prince, a passionate devotee of Shiva at the Tiruvanchikkulam Temple, was initially unwilling to ascend the throne at Makotai. The prince was worried of the impact such a responsibility would have for his routine of daily worship. The prince later reluctantly agreed to become the king of Kerala. Cheraman Perumal then learns about lyricist Chundara Murti, another Shiva devotee (Nayanar), and plans to meet him in the neighboring Chola kingdom. At Thiruvarur, the king meets Chundra and prostrates before him. The two become close friends over time and start on a long pilgrimage across south India, through the Chola, Pandya and Chera lands. Years later, Chundara pays a visit to his friend in Makotai. One day messengers from Shiva arrive to inform him that it was now time for him to return to Mount Kailasa. The Chera king follows him to Kailasa, and to Shiva himself.
The Vazhappally copper plate from Thiruvatruvay in Vazhappally village is the earliest available Kodungallur-Chera inscription (only copper plate of king Rajasekhara). The plate is engraved in an old form of Malayalam in Vattezhuthu and Grantha scripts (the content is incomplete, five lines on both sides). The inscription begins with "Namah Shivaya" in place of the usual "Swasti Sri" and mentions a coin called "dinara".
It records a temple committee resolution in the 12th regnal year of "Rajadhiraja Parameswara Bhattaraka" Rajashekhara Deva. The resolution describes Thiruvatruvay Pathinettu Nattar, Vazhappally Urar and king Rajashekhara deciding on land grant for muttappali (daily offering in temple). The plate is owned by Muvidathu Madham, Thiruvalla. The plate is said to belonged to and discovered from Talamana Illam or madham, near the eastern tower of Vazhappally Temple, Changanassery.
The [regnal] year twelve of Sri Raja Rajadhiraja Parameswara Bhattaraka Rajashekhara Deva [was current]
[The following was] the arrangement made by Thiruvattuvay Pathinettu Nattar and the Urar of Vazhappalli who met under the presidency of Rajashekhara Deva:—
1. Those who stop the perpetually endowed muttappali [the daily worship] in the Thiruvattuvay should pay to the Peruman Atikal [the king]:—
(a) A fine of one hundred dinaras; and
2. Among the servants [panimakkal], those who stop [the muttappali owning to their own negligence] should such pay:—
(a) A fine paddy as measured by and made up to 4 nazhis for occasion [muttappali is so stopped];
(b) [And] this fine should be remitted before the midday muttappali of the Pushya star in the month of Thai; and
The following are the lands given to the Lord of Kailasa:—
(a) The plot [kari, belonging to] of Kirankadambanar, which yields one year 20 and another year 25 kalams [of paddy, equal to 10 para];
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