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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Reference to Tsunami found in Pandya Kingdom copper plates


Many have held a theory that the black Sunday when temblor triggered tidal waves, made famous the term ‘tsunami’ which was hitherto unknown in these parts of the World…. Perhaps not.. I am told that there is mention of ‘aazhi peralai’ in Kalki’s Alai Oasai.

It was colossal loss of live on that black Sunday 26th Dec 2004, when an undersea megathrust earthquake with epicentre off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia was followed by a huge tidal wave called ‘tsunami’.  It devastated many places – in India hundreds lost their lives nearer Cuddalore, Nagapattinam areas. Very sad indeed. Immediately after in doing some rehabilitation assistance,  we had visited some of the tsunami devastated places and were moved with grief on seeing that tsunami had wiped out some families and destroyed most of their livelihood.

The Kamalhasan film Dasavatharam, a tamil film of 2008, was based on this plot.. it revolved around bringing together the lives of several individuals beginning with the 12th century and ending with the 21st century; the main person being a research scientist who develops a bio-weapon and makes sure that it is not acquired by a group of terrorists.   In the cine plot, the hero Govind is chased by Fletcher and is at the coast.  The sun dawns on December 26, 2004. Shinghen Narahasi, the Japanese,  arrives and fights physically with Fletcher, who opens and swallows the virus in humiliation.  Suddenly, there is a huge tidal wave ~ Narahasi, shouts ‘tsunami’…………………..  those who like Kamal acclaimed that scene stating that Japanese know tsunami better…….

Now read this report titled ‘Pandya copper plates speak of tsunami’ that  appeared in ‘the Hindu’ which provides an interesting read :

“Parutha meenkal vaanathil ulla vinmeenkalodu por thotupathu pola.” (the ocean waves rose so high that it seemed that huge fishes were at war with the stars in the sky), exaggeration, perhaps. But this is how the Thalavaipuram copper plate, belonging to the period between 1018 and 1054 brought out by the Pandya kings, describes giant waves, most possibly a tsunami. And there is more hyperbole: the valiant Pandya kings “stopped” the tsunami!

An earlier copper plate, the Seevaramangalam plate of 784 AD, also talks about a tsunami. Ancient Tamils had witnessed catastrophic destruction due to giant waves centuries ago, much like the Asian tsunami of December 2004, and the Pandyas had to shift their capital to Madurai after the city of Kapaadapuram was destroyed in one such calamity. At least three copper plates made during different periods of their rule make a reference to a tsunami, graphically describing the phenomenon to bring home its enormity.

“Ilayanputhur copper plate (676 AD), probably the earliest plate of Pandya period, says the sea will turn black when the tsunami hits,” M. Rajendran, author of ‘Pandiyar Kala Cheppedugal’ (Copper Plates of the Pandya Era) said on Saturday at the 36th Book Fair here.
Mr. Rajendran, an IAS officer of the 2000 batch, has rendered into simple Tamil the contents of 25 copper plates of the Pandya rulers. Despite the unmistakable tone of hyperbole and eulogy when it comes to describing the exploits of the kings, the plates do give rare insights into the society of the 8th -17th century.

“I have translated into simple Tamil the English rendering of all the 25 copper plates by eminent archaeologists including Dr. Fleet, Dr. Hultzch and P.A. Gopala Rao. My objective is to inform the ordinary man about historical details, since epigraphy is considered only an intellectual pursuit,” said Mr. Rajendran, who published last year the copper plates of Chola Kings and is planning one on the copper plates of the Pallava period too.

The Parthivasekarapuram plate (865 AD) talked elaborately about the guidelines evolved for the warden and students of a Vedic school. “Students were not allowed to keep women assistants or lovers in the hostel. They will be fined if they violated the rule and they would not be served food till the fine was paid,” Mr. Rajendran said. The Thalavaipuram plate also prescribed six qualifications for a Brahmin to get land as a gift from the king, while Thiruvalla plate claimed that 8.15 am was the right time for performing the puja in temples. “They believed that at that time, the shadow of a man was 12 feet longer than him and it was the perfect time,” said Mr. Rajendran.

To read the article of The Hindu : Click Pandya kingdom and Tsunami
with regards – S. Sampathkumar.
15th Jan 2013.

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