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Kerala,Keralachat,Malayalam,Malayalam Music,Keralam,India,KeralaVoiceChat,Kerala Map
Kerala,Keralachat,Malayalam,Malayalam Music,Keralam,India,KeralaVoiceChat,Kerala Map
Kerala,Keralachat,Malayalam,Malayalam Music,Keralam,India,KeralaVoiceChat,Kerala Map
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CHERA TIMES OF THE KULASEKHARAS

The Chera power which was destroyed in Tamil Nadu was re-established in Kerala under Kulasekhara Varman about 800 A.D.  The illustrious royal dynasty of the Kulasekharas ruled over Kerala from 800-1102 A.D. with their capital at Thiruvanchikkulam or Mahodayapuram.  The Kulasekhara Empire is known as the Second Chera Empire as opposed to the First Chera Empire of the Sangam Age. It was only under the Kulasekharas in the ninth century that Kerala produced a civilization and became a unified and significant political power.

There were thirteen important Kulasekharas known to us from historical inscriptions which were recently discovered and interpreted.  Kulasekhara Varman (800-820), the founder of the Second Chera Empire, was Kulasekhara Alwar, the famous Hindu Vaishnavite saint and author of the Tamil Perumal Thirumozhi and Mukundamala.  His successor, Rajasekhara Varman (820-844), was a Saivite saint who introduced the Malayalam Era known as Kollam Era in 825 A.D.  His successor Sthanu Ravi Varman (844-885) was the best known king of this dynasty;
the Christians received the Tharisa Pally Copper Plate during his reign from the Venad ruler Ayyan Adigal Thuruvatikal.  it was during Ayyan's reign that the Arab merchant Sulaiman (851 A.D.) came to Kerala and introduced Islam. It was also at this time that the great Christian priest-hero Kadamattathu Kathanar lived.  It is the trio, Ayyan, Kadamattam, and Bavar, the Muslim colleague of Sulaiman, who are honored and worshipped at the ecumenical shrine of Sabarimala.  Sthanu Ravi Varman is sometimes identified with Rajasekhara Varman who in turn is identified with Cheraman Perumal Nayanar.  According to Keralolpathi, Cheraman Perumal was the last emperor; he divided the kingdom among his suzerains, embraced Islam, left Kerala for Mecca, married a Muslim princess, and finally died on the Arabian Coast.

During the reign of Rama Varma Kulasekhara (1090-1102), Kerala was overrun by the mighty Cholas under Kulothunga I.  The Cheras defended themselves valiantly.  The famous warrior class of Kerala, the Nairs, formed suicide squads (Chavers) against the invaders.  The Cholas destroyed Kollam, the captial of Venad, and burned down Mahodayapuram, the capital of the Cheras. In spite of these setbacks, Rama Varma and his Chaver army forced the Cholas to withdraw  from Kerala to Kottar.  Rama Varma then shifted his capital to Kollam (Quilon), the capital of Venad, which later came to be called Ten Vanchi (the Vanchi of the South); from this time on Venad would become the most important Chera kingdom.

With the withdrawal of the Chola forces from Kerala, the Cheras ceased to look at the east as their home; after all, they were rejected by their own kinsmen, the Pandyas and the Cholas.  The notion of the "foreign" Perumals who came from Tamil Nadu has some truth in it:  the Cheras until the eleventh century considered themselves kinsmen and Immigrants from the east, their ancestral home.  When the Pandyas and the Cholas rejected them and made war on them, they decided to break away completely from their eastern kith and kin and to consider themselves Keralites.  It was a declara-tion of independence;  it is somewhat like the American Declaration of Independence from Britain.  A new free nation rose from the ashes of neglect, defiance, and destruction.

The following important points characterize  the Chera Age of the Kulasekharas, otherwise known as the "Golden Age" of Kerala:

1.  The empire though unified, consisted of many smaller kingdoms which were given independence by the last Perumal, Cheraman Perumal.

2.  The Perumals followed the patrllineal (Makkathayam) system of inheritance.

3.  The capital was Mahodayapuram near Cranganore.

4.  The kingdom had extensive trade relations with the Arabs and the Chinese.  The latter gave the following to Kerala culture and the Malayalam language:  China otam { a kind of boat), China vala (a kind of fishing net), China veti (a kind of fire works), and China chatti (a wok).  Many wealthy merchant families of this era were Christians and Muslims.

5.  During the Kulasekhara times, the Malayalam language declared its independence from Tamil and came into its own by divorcing Tamil and by marrying Sanskrit.  It was the Brahmin priests from the North who established this new marriage alliance.

6.  This age also saw the establishment of Hinduism and the decline
of Buddhism and Jainism.  Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, however, flourished; the Christians and Muslims, unlike the non-violent Buddhists and Jainists, contributed much to the defense of the coun-try against foreign invaders.  As usual, the Jews contributed money.  The Kulasekharas encouraged the popular cult of Bhakti, the intensely emotional surrender to personal gods like Shiva and Krishna, among the masses.  As a result. Bhajans (devotional songs) became popular.

7.  Many Vaishnavite and Saivite temples arose all over Kerala as cen-ters of cultural activities.  New art forms like Kuthu and Kutiyattam also developed.  It is said that the systems of devadasis (former Buddhist nuns?) also came into vogue at this time.

8.  Vedic schools attached to temples came into being in different parts of Kerala.  These schools were called Sala i and were richly endowed by the rulers of the land.

9.  During the Chera-Chola War of the eleventh century/the patrilinear system of inheritance (Makkathayam) disintegrated and was replaced by Marumakkathayam (matrilineal system).  The introduction of compulsory military training of males and their prolonged absence from home during the long period of Chola invasion is said to be the main reason for the rise of Marumakkathayam.

 

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