Sanskrit, once a lingua franca of kings

Published: 23rd March 2013 07:58 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd March 2013 07:58 AM   |  A+A-


The language Sanskrit was once used as a lingua franca all over the nation during the ancient and medieval era. Most of the inscriptions of those days  were in Sanskrit and those inscriptions were found in large numbers in Tamil Nadu, said Dr Chitra Madhavan, a noted historian, here on Thursday.

Delivering the lecture on ‘Sanskrit inscriptions in Tamil Nadu’ at the monthly lecture organised by Tamil Valarchi Kazhagam, she said, “From the Pallava dynasty to the Maratha dynasty, which ruled Tamil Nadu —  Sanskrit inscriptions were used, since it was widely followed and the mother tongue of each dynasty was different from others.”

“Through the inscriptions, one can know about the political geography, culture, administration, economy, etc., of these periods,” she said.

She added that most of the inscriptions were found in temples, which indicated that the donations were made by the kings. One can find inscriptions that are centuries old at Thiruparuthikundram near Kanchipuram.”

“Interestingly some of the inscriptions found in Gangai Konda Cholapuram tell us that kings from the Northern parts of India also made their contributions through these donations,” she added.

She said, “Most of the temples in Tamil Nadu do not have the names of the kings. But one of the temples in Thiruvottiyur, which is in the shape of a gajapirushtam, has an inscription naming the builder of the temple as Veera Chola Ravi.”

Another interesting point she noted was that the Vijayanagara Dynasty kings did not sign in their own names on the inscriptions. Whenever they signed on the metal inscriptions, they used  the name of Sri Virupaksha, since the latter was the traditional deity of those kings.”

“One can get a lot of information from these inscriptions. But people do not have a conscious sense of history and damage such inscriptions by abandoning them or pasting posters on them. This must be prevented,” she concluded.


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