Video on replacing of Tamil inscriptions is fake
CHENNAI: A video claiming that Tamil inscriptions in the Thanjavur Brihadeeswara temple are being replaced with Hindi inscriptions, has gone viral in social media. However, experts say the claims are baseless and totally false. The Devanagari script inscriptions shown in the video are not Hindi, but Marathi. They were recorded in the temple stones around 400 years ago when the region was ruled by a Maratha dynasty.
“It is sad that some unknown person rewrites history according to his own tunes without knowing what actually happened. The present generation will be the victims of the fake news and the consequences which come with it,” said Dr S Rajavelu, Head of Marine Archeology Department, Tamil University of Thanjavur, and an epigraphist.
The video shows some of the inscriptions on the temple written in Devanagari script (which is used to write different languages, including Hindi). The voice-over claims that these were “shocking scenes” and that these “Hindi” words are newly inscribed on the stones along with the original Tamil Brahmi scripts. The video then shows an iron gated locked room and the voice-over claims that in that room, the “work to remove Tamil inscriptions and replace them with Hindi stone slabs, is underway.” A message accompanying the video declares that, “The government is erasing the Tamils’ history.”
Fake vs Real
Experts say all the content and claims in the video are totally fabricated and elaborated on the history of the delta region to put the correct facts on record. As history goes, Thanjavur was not just ruled only by Tamil-speaking kings. The region was ruled by various dynasties from Cholas to Pandyas, Nayakas and Marathas. The wall shown in this video is one of the lengthiest inscriptions in the country, speaking about the history of the Maratha Bhonsle dynasty. “The Marathas started the Bhonsle dynasty at Thanjavur in 1676 with Ekoji I as its first ruler. They had contributed a lot to the development of the city from agriculture to building shrines inside the temple. Sarfoji II who ruled from 1798 to 1832, was considered the greatest ruler of the dynasty,” said Rajavelu.
“These inscriptions on the Southern and Western wall of the ‘prajara’ area, were built by the commander-in-chief of the Cholas, Krishnan Raman, with the help of Sri Lankan soldiers. During the continuous occupation on Thanjavur soil, the succeeding dynasties added some parts of the temple and the Marathas renovated it to the present look,” said Rajavelu. Rajavelu also said that Saraboji, the ruler of Thanjavur Marathas, had renovated the temple ‘kalasam’ over 216 feet and had inscribed the Devanagari inscriptions on the top of it. The descendants of the Marathas are still in Thanjavur.
Speaking about the iron-gated room shown in the video, Rajavelu said the Archeological Survey of India, recently renovated the northern corridor of the temple when, both Tamil and Marathi inscriptions were found. There were stone slabs dating before the Chola period, and some Nagiri inscriptions were found. Those are preserved inside the temple, he added.
“One of the major findings preserved in that storeroom is, when the Sri Lankan soldiers worked for the temple, they had encrypted their titles, Peruntharam (lieutenant) and Sirutharam (second lieutenant) along with their names,” said Rajavelu.
The forgotten history
The temple was built by Raja Raja Chola within four years. The work started by 1006 CE and consecrated by 1010 CE . His son Rajendra Chola expanded the temple and it fell into the hands of Pandyas, followed by Nayakas of the Vijayanagara empire and finally to the Marathas. In mid 1675, Madurai ruler Chokkanatha conquered Thanjavur from the Vijayanagara dynasty. A prince from the Vijayanagara dynasty sought the help of the Bijapur Sultan to conquer back Thanjavur. The Bijapur Sultan had dispatched an army headed by a Maratha general who successfully defeated Chokkanatha. However, the Maratha general, instead of handing over rule to the Vijayanagara prince, declared himself to be the ruler of the region and ruled until the arrival of the British. While different kinds of inscriptions can be found inside the temple premises, the main sanctorum only has Tamil scripts.