Madras 375 Year old – Is that not against Dravidian Culture?

Three seemingly unrelated events.

First, the outrage against a City Club enforcing a No Dhoti – Only Trouser code.

Second, the outrage against Sanskrit Week. It was no body’s case that Sanskrit was imposed. The very presence of Sanskrit seemed to be nauseating to those outraged. 

Third, August 17th – 24th will be celebrated as is usual in the last few years as *Madras Week* because Madras was founded 375 years back on August 22nd, 1639.

But then what is the connection between the three – In the first case, we are told Tamizh (read dravidian) pride will be hurt if Dhoti clad people are not allowed inside a club. In the second case, the very fact that Sanskrit is promoted (not imposed) makes Politicians and other froth at the mouth. The Tamizh culture must either be too fragile to not bear a week of Sanskrit promotion or too fascist to even tolerate a week of Sanskrit.

But when I see the same set of people who outraged against the English & the “Aryans” celebrate founding of Madras in 1639 by the same English,  

I will try and extract from the book *The Early History of Madras Region* by Shri K V Raman, published in 1957 based on his Thesis of same name for which he was awarded the *Masters of Letters* by the Madras University. 

From *The Introduction*

In India, the importance of the study of the history of certain regions for the reconstruction of the full history of the country can hardly he exaggerated. For instance, the early history of the vicinity of Madras city is a fertile field. The history of the city of Madras as such, has only a life of three centuries; Scholars like Talboys Wheeler, W Foster, H.D. Love and C. S. Srinivasachari have written on the history of Madras and its surroundings from the advent of the English to recent times. But the hoary past of the area and the historic significance of ancient places like Mylapore, Triplicane, Egmore which form part of the city as well as those like Pallavaram, Velachcheri, Tiruvanmiyur, Kunnattur, Mangadu, Poonamalle, Tiruvorriyur, Padi, Tirumullaivayil, Ambattur, Korattur, Pujal (Red Hills), Puliyur, that are at the outskirts of the Madras City (within 20 miles) are striking. All these places and many more like Nungambakkam, Chetpet (Serruppedu), Tambaram (Tampuram) and others formed a good part of the ancient Tondamandalam. The early history of this region has not been undertaken in a full measure so far. The present thesis seeks to provide such a study and bring out the importance of the region in her political, administrative, economic, social, literary, religious and architectural history from the earliest times up to 1650 A. D.

In the matter of administration, the epigraphs of the region also reveal the prevalence of the essential features of a sound administrative system, both central and local. They also tell us about the active functioning of the village assemblies (sabhas) in Manali and Adambakkam. These were working well even in the 9th century A. D., during the Pallava rule. In later times, under the Chola and Vijayanagar rulers, the – village assemblies functioned in many other places of the region. The economic and social history of the region may be gleaned from the epigraphs and other sources, as also many interesting details of information relating to taxation, agriculture, irrigation, land tenure,  trade and commerce wages, weights and coins, land-value, land-measures, interest-rates, community life, customs and manners of the people etc. The vital part that the prominent temples like those of Tiruvorriyur  and Triplicane, played in the economic, social and religions life of the villages is also striking.

In the field of literature and learning the history of the region has its contribution. On the Tamil side, tradition associates Tiruvalluvar, the author of the immortal, Tirukkural, with Mylapore. Sekkilar, the renowned minister of Kulottunga II and the author of the famous Periapuranam hailed from Kunnattur and Mayilainathar and Jnanaprakasr, noted commentators, were from Mylapore and Tiruvorriyur respectively. Similarly, Sanskrit learning flourished in this region, as is borne out :by the fact that in the Tiruvorriyur temple there was a special hall in which a regular school was conducted for the teaching of Sanskrit grammar and the exposition of the doctrines of several schools of philosophy.

The religious history of the area is indeed very eventful. Vaishnavism, Saivism. Buddhism and Jainism has each played its part here. Some of the heralders of the Vaishnava wing of the Bhakti movement, were either born in this region or were closely associated with it. Pey Alvar, one of the earliest Alvars, came from Mylapore. Tirumalisai Alvar was born in Tirumalisai near Poonamalle. Bhudattalvar and Tirumangai Alvar visited Tirunirmalai and Triplicane. They, it may be remembered, were renowned composers of· exquisite devotional poetry, enshrined in their pasurams. Tirukkachchi Nambi, the elder contemporary and a close .associate of Sri Ramanuja, the famous philosopher of the Visishtadvaita school, came from Poonamalle, and later, the great Ettur Kumara Tatacharya, one of the leaders of Vaishnavite sect, made Tirunirmalai one of the centres of his activities. Saivism contributed alike, its own share to the religious importance of the region. The Tevaram hymners, associated with the Saiva wing of the Bhakti movement have visited temples in the region and found inspiration for their padigams. Pattinathar, the poet ascetic, lived and died in Tiruvorriyur. Niranjanaguru, Vagisvara Pandita and Chaturanana Pandita, the exponents of the Somasiddhanta or the Pasupata cult of Saivism were active in this region. Epigraphical, archaeological and literary sources reveal that Buddhism and Jainism once had a hold on this region. Mylapore had a Jain pagoda for Tirthankara Neminatha to whom was dedicated later, Neminatham, the Tamil grammar work of the 12th century.




From Chapter – 1 : Antiquity of the Madras Region

Coming to historical times, we find that this region, along with the modern districts of chlngleput, South Arcot and North Arcot, came under two ancient divisions – Aruvanadu and Aruvavadatalainadu, Aruva south and Aruva. north.  Even Ptolemy, has noted this territory roughly extending between South Pennar and North Pennar, as Aruvarnoi or Arvarnoi. These two divisions. Aruvanadu and Aruvavadatalainadu together came to be called as Tondaimandalam or Tondainadu perhaps after the conquest of this place by Tondaiman Ilam Tiraiyan, a contemporary of Karikala Chola, who has been ascribed to the second century A.D.· Even though the Perumbanarrupadai, a work of the Sangam Age, informs us that Ilam Tiraiyan was ruling at Kanchi when Karikala was adorning the Chola throne, we do not get much information about the conquest of the territory round Kanchi by  Ilam Tiraiyan and also about the people whom he conquered. But a very late tradition preserved in the famous Mckenzie collections seems to throw some light on the early inhabitants of Tondaimandalam whom Ilam Tiraiyan conquered.

The Manuscript has it that the ancient territory known as   Tondaimandalam, was first inhabited by wild tribesmen, Kurumbas by name who began to evolve gradually a certain form of civilization and also political organisation. Fierce people as they were, they built a number of forts, and at one time practically dominated the Tondaimandalam region which was then known as Kurumba Bhumi. The ancient Tamil work Purananuru describes the Kurumbas as warlike people of whom even kings were afraid.  The learned editor of the Purananuru Dr. V. Swaminatha Iyer,  translated the term Kurumba, to mean a fort. Perhaps because of this close association with a vast network of forts, they got that name – Kurumba.

The Mackenzie Manuscripts point to Madavaram or Puzal near Madras as the headquarters of the Kurumbas. The Kurumbas are said to have divided the Tondaimandalam into 24 districts or Kottams in each of which was built a fort. The twenty four districts are…… From Inscriptions of the 10th, 11th and 12th centuries A.D., we know that the place where the present Madras city is situated and its immediate surroundings, were included partly in PuJal Kottam and partly in Puliyur Kottam. Thus while Tiruvorriyur, Pujal, Ayyanapuram (the modern Ayyanavaram which is a part of the Madras city) were in Pujal Kottam places like Ejumur (the Modern Egmore), Mayilarpil, (the Modern Mylapore), Pundamalli, Pallavaram! and Tampuram (the Modern Tambaram) were all in Puliyur Kottam. Puliyur l{ottam seems to have derived its name from a small village called Puliyur near the modern Kodambakkam, Madras and the Pujal Kottam derived its name from Pujal a village near the modern Red Hills. These villages, now insignificant, were probably important centres of the Kurumbas who built their forts there. The Mackenzie Manuscript says that Pujal had a fort. Without Some such thing as the existence of forts in these places, the naming of the whole district after the small villages is inexplicable.





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