Why Madhurantaka was preferred over Arulmozhivarman? - IV
by Jayasree Saranathan on 15 Apr 2023 0 Comment

There was a gap of 17 years between the death of Aditya II and the action on the confiscated properties of the killers. There must be some reason for this huge gap. A parallel can be seen in Kulottu?ga’s period when a fire and loot of property at Rajamahendra Caturvedi Ma?galam that occurred in the 2nd year of Kulottu?ga I was redeemed by him only in his 11th year.[i] Chola-s are not known for delay in justice and in offering succour. When analysed further, the until-now unknown causes for the delay come to be known. In the same way the 17-year gap has exposed the first clue towards bringing out the unknown and unrecognised truth that Rajaraja I didn’t ascend the throne in CE 985.


The date features, namely Mesha (Chi??irai) month, Sunday and Purva Bhadrapada on the 2nd year of Rajaraja I, mentioned in the Udayarkudi record did not occur on CE 986 or CE 987, the probable years as per the current thought. Then where to search for that combination?


From Tiruvalangadu inscriptions, it is very well known that Rajaraja (Arulmozhivarman) was given regency by Madhurantaka immediately after the death of Aditya II. It says,

As soon as “Aditya disappeared (from this world) with a desire to see heaven”… “Madhurantaka installed him (Arulmozhivarman alias Rajaraja I) in the office of heir-apparent, and (himself) bore the burden of (ruling) the earth” – so state the Tiruvalangadu plates.[ii]


This shows that the year of death of Aditya II was the same as the year of accession of Rajaraja I (which was the practice among the Chola-s of that time). If we can identify the 2nd year date features of Rajaraja’s Udayarkudi inscriptions, it means we will be getting the death year of Aditya II. Since the accession of Rajaraja happened when Madhurantaka was already enjoying kingship (as has been the practice), which is also reiterated indirectly by the above quoted verse from the Tiruvalangadu plates that it was Madhurantaka who installed Arulmozhi as the heir apparent, it is clear Madhurantaka was authorised to choose his successor and he chose Arulmozhi.


This goes without saying that the 2nd year date feature of Rajaraja can be found only within the 16-year period of Uttama Chola. Based on Tiruvidaimarudur and Kumbakonam records, we already deduced the probable accession date of Uttama Chola.

1st year of Uttama Chola = 972-73.

13th year of Uttama Chola = 987-88.

Rajaraja’s accession had happened sometime in between these years. 


Rajaraja’s accession deduced from Udayarkudi inscriptions


If the two revelations (one being the overlap of regnal years of a senior and a junior king) written in Part 2 are true, the date features of the 2nd year of Rajaraja should fall during the 16-year period of Uttama Chola. When checked, it was seen that the combination occurred only once in the entire 16-year period of Uttama Chola. The year was CE 978.


When I checked every year of the 16-year period of Uttama Chola, the date features tallied only for 978 as shown above.


CE 978 was the 2nd year of Rajaraja I which means he was given kingship in CE 977 (not 985 as presently believed).


CE 977 was therefore the death year of Aditya II because the Tiruvalangadu inscriptions state that Rajaraja’s accession as heir-apparent to Madhurantaka was immediately after the death of Aditya II. The counting of his regnal years started from that date onwards.


Immediately on accession Rajaraja had hunted down the culprits and punished them. The 2nd year decree at Udayarkudi inscription was passed on the 2nd year of Aditya’s death. This solves the problem of 17-year gap and also absolves Madhurantaka of a blame of not taking any action on the confiscated properties.


Five years before the death of Aditya II, that is, in CE 972-73, Madhurantaka was made his successor (given kingship). That year must have been the death year of Sundara Chola!


Since kingship was already given to Madhurantaka, five years before the death of Aditya II, it was not possible to remove kingship from him when Aditya died. That is being told in Tiruvalangadu inscriptions, that Madhurantaka ‘coveted his dominions.’[iii] It was not out of greed or conspiracy that Madhurantaka held on to kingship, it was because he was in kingship as the next legal heir.


Both the Leyden plates of Rajaraja I and the Tiruvalangadu plates of Rajendra I express smooth succession of Madhurantaka because the decision was already made and was in force that none could disturb it. If Arulmozhivarman wanted to deny that right to Madhurantaka, that would have made him unpopular.


Let me produce the version of Leyden inscriptions:

“That king of kings having departed to heaven, king Madhurantaka, the long- armed, equal in fame to Mahendra, the mighty son of Gandraraditya, ruled the sea-girt earth.”[iv]


Why was Madhurantaka given preference over Arulmozhivarman?


Almost every historian has attempted to find the answer to this question. Until now there is a belief that only sons inherited the Chola kingdom. As such Madhurantaka had a larger stake as the son of Gandraraditya. Since he was a child when his father passed away, the mantle went to the shoulders of Arindama, his father’s younger brother. After his short reign, the kingdom was bequeathed to the son of Arindama, who was Sundara Chola. From him, his son, Aditya II got it.


But can the rights of Madhurantaka be denied? That is why Arulmozhivarman (Rajaraja I), though himself much adored by the general public, chose to keep away and made Madhurantaka the king. This is the crux of Kalki’s storyline of Ponniyin Selvan too. This was the opinion of many historians of Kalki’s time.


But, with more records coming to the fore and the revelation about the time of kingship of Madhurantaka starting well ahead of Aditya’s death, we have to look at the probable factors that were weighed in choosing the heirs of that time. As explained in Part 2, war deeds were taken into account in choosing the eligible one for the throne.


Madhurantaka must have exhibited such prowess better than other contenders of his time. Arulmozhivarman was too young then and not known to have engaged in any war activity. His actions were reported only after he was chosen as the heir by Madhurantaka, something we know from the Tiruvalangadu grants.


On the other hand, Madhurantaka was around for some time and had even taken part in the war against the Pandya-s. In his 16th year record from the Madras Museum Plates, he is stated as “the destroyer of Madhura”![v]


16th year being his latest year found so far, indicating it to be his last year, doesn’t mean that he engaged in a war with the Pandyan-s so late in life. If fact he entrusted the military activities to Arulmozhi upon granting him kingship, while he restrained himself to welfare and pious activities of the kingdom. The following is what Tiruvalangadu inscription says about him:[vi]


“Applying (his) mind to (the devotion of) Sarva (Siva), utilizing (his) wealth in the act of performing His worship, (employing) all (his) retinue in the construction of houses (i.e., temples) for Him, and directing (his) subjects to (regularly) perform His festive processions, (showing his) wrath (only) in the killing of enemies and (distributing his) riches among virtuous Brahmanas, that king (Madhurantaka) bore on (his) board shoulder, the (weight of the) earth.”


He did seem to have taken part in military expeditions, but in a limited way after Arulmozhi was appointed as the next king. His title as one who destroyed Madurai must have come from the earlier time when Vira Pandya was pursued and killed by Aditya II. 


We must know that the Chola country was in deep trouble when Sundara Chola took up the reign. Sundara Chola was known as Para?taka II. Between Para?taka I and Para?taka II, three kings reigned – all of them brothers – each reigning for very short terms. Gandraraditya, the father of Madhurantaka, was one among those kings of that obscure period.


On taking up the reign, Sundara Chola’s main focus was annihilating the Pandya-s. Madhurantaka also must have taken part in that task and earned the name “the Destroyer of Madurai”. In that war, Aditya II took away the head of Vira Pandya by which he got the title, ‘Vira Pandyan thalai konda’! Conversely, Vira Pandyan also held a title that he beheaded a Chola king!


Who was he?


Was that act of Vira Pandya in beheading a former Chola king avenged by Aditya II who cut off his head and displayed it on a victory pillar in his capital?



[i] SII xxiv. No.53. Page 53.

[ii] Verses 68 and 70. ‘Tiruvalangadu copper plates’.

[iii] Verse 69, Tiruvalangadu inscriptions.

[iv] Verse 57, Leyden plates.


[v] SII, Vol 3, No.128.


[vi] Verse 71, “Tiruvalangadu Copper plates”.


(To be continued…)




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