The Big Picture: The debate between Tamil and Sanskrit puts the Thanjavur Big Temple in the spotlight again

Segway-like vehicles were also used by the police to keep an eye on the large crowd on Marina Beach.

The Brihadeeswara Temple in Thanjavur, an outstanding symbol of the greatness of the ancient Tamil civilization, is no stranger.

No matter whether it is the "curse" attached to the temple or the resistance of the center against the handover of the management to the state government in the 60s and 70s or the installation of the statue of Rajaraja Chola I within the temple area or that Fire and the resulting rush in June 1997, the temple was in the spotlight throughout.

This time the kumbabishekam (Weihe), which took place on February 5 after 23 years, offered historians, scholars and political activists from various camps another opportunity to deal intensively with the double German – Tamil versus Sanskrit.

"I don't remember coming across one in the last debate kumbabishekam took place in June 1997, ”recalls T.N. Ramanathan, who was the district collector of Thanjavur at the time. "The recent controversy sounds new to me," he adds.

R. Nagaswamy, a longtime archaeologist who has been studying the temple for decades, emphasizes this as paal abishekam (Pour milk) was done on Lingam 1997 a verse from Thirugnanasambandar [in Tamil] was recited. "It's in a video cassette that's sold in the temple," he says.

In line with the state's popular political narrative, the language series is seen as another dimension of the larger debate – Aryan versus Dravidian. This happened even though Rajaraja Chola I itself worked for both Tamil and Sanskrit, which could be proven by inscriptions on the temple grounds.

P. Maniyarasan, an advocate of the concept of Tamil nationalism, believes, however, that Sanskrit, like English dominates all areas of public life today, played a similar role, even from the Pallavas period before the Cholas lived. "We see it as a sign of imposition by external forces," he says.

The essence of the controversy was whether the ordination should take place in Tamil or Sanskrit. Or, in other words, it should stick to it Agama Principles or the Tirumurai, a 12-volume compendium of Tamil hymns in praise of Lord Shiva. While Tamil advocates claim that Tamil works are superior to what was written in Sanskrit, archaeologists like Dr. is superior.

The Big Picture: The debate between Tamil and Sanskrit puts the Thanjavur Big Temple in the spotlight again

The size of the Tamil work was never questioned. But as for the temples in Tamil Nadu, they follow that Agama Principles that are nothing more than a series of regulations on all aspects of temples – from design to construction to sculpture and rituals. And they are in Sanskrit.

"The Agamas Say that a ritual in a temple is not complete without playing Tamil hymns. To render ThevaramRajaraja had appointed 50 people, known as Oduvar"Says Dr. Nagaswamy. Developed around the 5th century AD Agamas an improvement over previous and heretical systems called Pasupatha and KalamukhaThey were written in Sanskrit, explains Dr. Satyamurthy.

At the door of the court

Not surprisingly, the language question reached Madurai High Court doorsteps. Fears were expressed that the event would take place, with Tamil being ignored completely. The court described the petitioners as "unfounded" because they claimed that the Tamil language was excluded. The Agama Principles are the recitation of Tirumurai by OduvareAs mentioned earlier, and the Tamil language was particularly highlighted in the rituals, the court found.

The court also said that the petitioners' allegation that the dedication ceremony and other functions of the Great Temple allies "have so far been carried out" only "in Tamil" is "without evidence or an acceptable basis".

A senior official from the Hindu Department of Religious and Charitable Foundations (HR & CE) says that not only yagasala and Mahabhishekam Tamil verses were reproduced in various sanctuaries for the first time, even at the time of Kalasa Abhishekam (Pouring holy water on the crown structure of the temple tower).

Hours learned

Despite all the shouting that came in the run-up to the D-Day (February 5) inauguration, the event went smoothly and without harshness thanks to a combination of factors, including government efforts.

"Great. Fantastic." So L. Ganesan, senior chairman of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and a son of the floor, replied to a question about the quality and status of preparations. "The authorities apparently had every detail regarding those who came to the festival, discussed. For example, the arrangement for parking a car was new. As soon as my vehicle was parked in a certain place, a sticker with my car number was stuck to the windshield. The sticker clearly indicated that the car belonged to a VVIP “Says Ganesan.

Apparently, the state administration was guided by lessons from two events – the ordination in 1997 and the Athi Varadar Festival 2019 in Kancheepuram. 23 years ago, on the eve of the originally planned date of kumbabhishekam, a fire on yagasala and the resulting rush resulted in the deaths of 46 people. The number of casualties was 107. The bursting of fireworks that caused the fire was prohibited this time. In addition, unlike in the previous event, when an unremarkable committee was formed, a high-ranking team of officers led by the general secretary [K. Shanmugam]was established.

The Athi Varadar Festival, in which more than one crore had participated in 45 days, had given the administration lessons in crowd management. Just when Mr. Shamugam checked the arrangements last Saturday, the Director General of Police J.K. Tripathy, who oversaw the 2016 arrangements Mahamaham [Tamil Nadu’s equivalent to the Kumbh Mela in northern parts of the country] in Kumbakonam and the Athi Varadar Festival, was there a day later. The current district collector, M. Govinda Rao, also had experience with religious events as he worked as a sub-collector in Kumbakonam during his time Mahamaham.

There were complaints that the administration only looked after VIP and VVIP supporters and "let the common supporters down". But Mr. Rao disputes the indictment and says that "proper zoning" has been carried out to ensure a "smooth transition" to different groups of people. The public had entry and exit points that were separate from those of the VIPs and VVIPs, which were 7,000. People were given the opportunity to observe or have the ordinationDarshan the presiding deity at the central shrine, or both.

In the spotlight

The controversy surrounding the ordination also had a positive side.

This only allowed the event to be more visible to the media, as it would otherwise function like any other event, says P. Kangeyan, a doctor from San Jose, California, who took a break to visit Thanjavur.

The turnout itself seems overwhelming if you stick to the collector's claim. An estimated 6.5 lakh people saw the event. The collector's estimate is based on the number of people who have gathered at 30 viewpoints in the temple city, apart from those who were on the temple grounds. "According to our calculations, about 10.5 lakh visited the temple in the five days from February 1," says Rao.

More interesting than the arrangements is the discussion about how often the temple was occupied kumbabishekam,

Officially, and even according to a group of scholars, the last was the sixth, with the previous cases being 1010, 1729, 1843, 1980, and 1997. In deviation from this view, Dr. There were four such events in the 17th and 19th centuries.

The focus on the Great Temple should not end with the consecration, as the monument must be viewed from different angles. Dr. Sathyamurthy, who has examined the structural stability of the temple in his own way, says that the Indian meteorological department and geological survey have recorded at least 10 magnitude 5 and 6 earthquakes more on the Richter scale and on the southern scale in the past 200 years or so Peninsula as an epicenter.

Several Chola monuments, including the Brihadeeswara Temple, had resisted them.

He pointed out how technical features had protected the temple from external gravitational forces for over 1000 years, and claimed that various precautionary measures taken by modern architects and seismological experts to protect the roof and supporting structure the superstructure of the temple had also been followed with regard to this aspect. "Modern architects have to study the temple in more detail and learn various scientific formulas that have been applied," says the experienced archaeologist. Such research would make more sense for society than a public discourse based on predictable principles.

And that would the Chola monument, like the historian K.A. Nilakanta Sastri, "a masterpiece that represents the flood mark of South Indian architecture".