The missing king between Aditya Karikala and Madhurantaka - VII
by Jayasree Saranathan on 23 Apr 2023 0 Comment

The Chola kings called themselves alternately as Parakesarivarman and Rajakesarivarman. It is also stated in the Larger Leyden plates of Rajaraja I that the names, or rather the titles, Rajakesari and Parakesari were borne alternately by kings born in the Chola family. [i]


Many inscriptions contain just the name Rajakesari or Parakesari only, and not always the king’s name. The identity of the king is made known from the title or deeds mentioned in the inscriptions. For example, Aditya II is found mentioned as Parakesarivarman who took away the head of Vira Pandya. This war deed getting mentioned in other inscriptions such as Tiruvalangadu and Leyden plates, we deduce with certainty that this Parakesari was Aditya II. One of the factors that helped in connecting his identity with Parthivendravarman was the title Parakesari for Parthivendravarman who was recognised for the same war deed.[ii]   


There are occasions when a king appears with both the titles in different years. For example, Vikrama Chola and Kulottu?ga Chola II were known by both titles in different inscriptions.


Having worked on the Chola history for ‘Ramanuja Itihasa’ where my discovery of “Rajakesari” Rajamahendra who died as a co-regent and never got elevated as the supreme ruler, taught me that two Rajakesari-s and two Parakesari-s appear one after the other when a co-regent in between them had died without reaching the Cakravarti state. When I listed down the lineage, I found that only if I fix Rajamahendra in his place, the titles of the subsequent one was proper.


In the above quoted sample case of Vikrama Chola and Kulottu?ga II, Vikrama Chola was an imported one from Ve?gi. He was the son of Kulottu?ga I born to the daughter of Chola royal family. He was not at all in the reckoning for the Chola throne, but on the death of Adhirajendra, he was brought from Ve?gi to be the 2nd generation heir while his father Kulottu?ga I ascended the main throne. Whatever be his title until then, since Kulottu?ga I was Parakesari, Vikrama came to be recognised as Rajakesari. Since Kulottu?ga II was Vikrama’s son, his title also got adjusted when Vikrama’s title changed to Rajakesari. (It is also possible that there are scribal errors messing up with the titles).


This discussion is necessary for our topic because Parakesari Aditya II was followed by Madhurantaka to the throne who also had the title Parakesari. His records state clearly that he was Parakesari Uttama Chola. How can that be possible? Does it mean that there was a king in between them with the title Rajakesari who didn’t live long and was forgotten soon?


In the period under analysis, we find another missing person in Aditya’s previous generation. That also needs to be fixed to get the chronology of kings of this period. Vijayalaya, who made Tanjore the capital of the Chola-s called himself as Parakesari. His son Aditya I was Rajakesari.  Para?taka-I who came after him was known as “Madiraiyum Elamum konda Kop-Parakesarivarman”. After this confusion starts mainly because of lack of awareness about overlapping years and accession of sons of Para?taka I one after another.


The line-up is given below to find out the missing king in between.

Vijayalaya – Parakesari

Aditya I – Rajakesari

Para?taka I – Parakesari

Rajaditya – Must be Rajakesari (no records)

Gandraraditya – Must be Parakesari (no records)

Ari?jaya – Must be Rajakesari (no records)

Sundara Chola – Rajakesari

(Sundara Chola must have been a Parakesari as per the line-up of kings prior to him, but his name recorded as Rajakesari goes to prove there was a missing king between him and Para?taka I)


After Sundara Chola,

Aditya II - Parakesari

Uttama Chola (Madhurantaka) – Parakesari

(These two appearing one after another with Parakesari title is not possible unless there was a Rajakesari in between them.)


Rajaraja I -Rajakesari

Rajendra I - Parakesari

Rajadhiraja -Rajakesari

Rajendra II – Parakesari

Virarajendra – Rajakesari

Adhirajendra -Parakesari

Rajamahendra – Rajakesari (died before becoming the supreme ruler)

Kulottunga I - Parakesari

Vikrama – Rajakesari


Thus, we find 2 kings missing or not found in any records discovered so far. The missing king between Aditya II and Madhurantaka appears strange, going by the Tiruvalangadu records, that register a straight succession of Madhurantaka who already gained his kingship in CE 972 before the death of Aditya in CE 977. The Parakesari title must have come to him at the time of getting kingship. It implies that there was another king before him with Rajakesari title who was to have succeeded Aditya II. That king died, causing Aditya II to choose the next heir and it happened to be Madhurantaka. To find out who he was and how long he enjoyed kingship, let me start from Para?taka I in whose reign or after whose reign another king also went missing in the list.


Date of Para?taka I


The date features of a solar eclipse that took place on the 33rd regnal year of Para?taka I are found in a rock edict found in the Narasinga Peruma? temple at Anaimalai. The solar eclipse took place in the star Aslesha on a Friday in the solar month, Karka?aka.[iii]


These features match well on 24th July, CE 939 (both Surya Siddhanta and Drik Siddhanta ayanamsa) The year name was Vikari. 33rd year of Para?taka I = CE 939.


In Part 5, we already established that his son Rajaditya died in Takkolam war in Saumya year in CE 949-50. That was 43rd year of Para?taka I. (Para?taka I ruled for 48 years according Nilakanta Sastri[iv]) On the 24th and 26th year of Para?taka I, the name Uttamasili appears in the records. According to Nilakanta Sastri he was the son of Para?taka I. Para?taka had not less than eleven wives. He must have had many sons with high level of warring ability. Uttamasili was one among them. A Caturvedi Mangalam in his name and his name appearing in earlier records of Para?taka, raises scope to believe that he was the missing king in that list.


The name Kodandarama as the eldest son of Para?taka I appears in the 15th and the 30th year of Para?taka I. In the 15th year record found at Kudumiyamalai, the servant of prince Kodanda made the donation. The same inscription also mentioned about a man who supplied sandal paste to prince Kodandanar. Writing on this, a historian wrote that it was Kodandarama Rajaditya. The inscription in no way relates Rajaditya’s name with Kodandarama.[v]


A record found at Adipuriswara temple at Tiruvorriyur assigned to the 30th year of Para?taka-I once again refers to Kodandarama, and recognises him as the eldest son of Para?taka I. Kodandarama himself made the donation of gold to the temple. A part of it was used in the 35th regnal year of Para?taka I.[vi]


Kodandarama is found without any title in this inscription, though he happened to be the eldest son of the king and the king was already in his 30th year of reign. It was only in the 43rd year of Para?taka I, Rajaditya died which happened to be Rajaditya’s 2nd regnal year. Since Leyden plates state that Rajaditya ascended the throne after Para?taka I, it was assumed that his accession was after Para?taka death, but the dates show that Para?taka I was very much alive. It also shows that Kodandarama was elder to him and could have been known as Uttamasili in whose name a Caturvedi Mangalam existed.


Now arranging the dates,

The 33rd year of Para?taka I (from eclipse data) = CE 939

1st year of Para?taka I derived from this = CE 907

15th year of Para?taka I with Kodandarama name = CE 921

30th year of Para?taka I with Kodandarama name = CE 936

Death of Rajaditya = CE 949- 950

1st year of Rajaditya = CE 948-949

Rajaditya’s kingship started only at the 42nd year of Para?taka I


Therefore, there is scope to say that before that time another junior king could have been installed and Kodandarama fits the slot.


Uttamasili might be Kodandarama’s official name and it appears in the 24th and 26th years of Para?taka I. After his death, Rajaditya could have been given kingship.


The titles are proper once we accommodate Kodandarama. The line-up after accommodating Kodandarama (Uttamasili) is as follows:

Para?taka I – Parakesari

Kodandarama – Rajakesari

Rajaditya – Parakesari

Gandraraditya – Rajakesari

Arindama – Parakesari

Sundara Chola – Rajakesari

Aditya II – Parakesari 


The missing king after Aditya II


After Aditya II, another king had existed before Madhurantaka was given kingship. By simple guess, we can say that he could have been the younger brother of Sundara Chola, who was given kingship when Sundara Chola died. To remind ourselves of the practice of that time, a successor was appointed and given kingship when the predecessor king died. Predecessor was Sundara Chola.


*Aditya II was the next king in line.*


When Sundara Chola died, Aditya had to appoint a co-regent, the next king. It is natural to expect him to choose his son, but given the fact that he himself was young (his younger brother Arulmozhi was too young then), his father’s brother could have been his next choice. The numerous war expeditions of Sundara Chola’s period might have brought out the best warriors from his immediate kith and kin. The bottom-line is, at that time, they did not consider Madhurantaka as the successor to Aditya II.


Sundara Chola ruled for 17 years, if we go by the inscriptions with his title “Madurai Konda Rajakesari” (Rajakesari who obtained Madurai). His death year was the first year of the missing king. On the death of that missing king, Aditya II had appointed Madhurantaka as the next heir which was in CE 972. So, we can expect Sundara Chola’s death year slightly before that date. To check that we are going in the right track, let me pin-point the years of previous kings based on the available inputs.


1st year of Para?taka I = CE 907

Death of Rajaditya = 1st year of Gandraraditya = CE 949-50

(This is because Para?taka was still living and therefore the next heir was given kingship to replace the lost king)

48th (death) year of Para?taka I = CE 954

Death of Gandraraditya = 7th year of Vira Pandya getting the title “Solan Thalai Konda” which he held for 13 years.

This year can be deduced from the death year of Vira Pandya (20th Year, which was CE 967)

The 7th year was CE 954

This was also the death year of Para?taka.

This shows both the father and the son died within a year.


From the Leyden plates of Rajaraja I, we learn that Arindama had taken over after Gandraraditya had gone to heaven which means Para?taka I died sometime after Gandraraditya left the world. 


The year CE 954 must have been tumultuous in the Chola history at the loss of two kings, one of them in the most unfortunate way. The Chola pride was terribly dented. At that date Arindama ascended the throne and immediately he must have made his son Sundara Chola as his co-regent to face the gloomy days ahead.


Accession of Arindama = CE 954

Accession of Sundara Chola = CE 954


A 3rd year inscription of a Parakesarivarman when the queen of Arindama, known as Arikulakesari making a donation of gold, which is now added in the list of Para?taka I, must have been about Parakesari Arindama.[vii] The 3rd year of Para?taka I was CE 909 which was too early to consider. So, this inscription found at Tiruchendurai must be referring to Arindama, the Parakesari. This title is the same as what we deduced earlier. A minimum of 3 years must be assigned to Parakesari Arindama.


Since the accession of Aditya II was CE 966, it can be assumed that Arindama died on CE 966. However, there are no records available yet on Arindama to indicate long years (12 years) for Arindama. As of now we have to assume that Sundara Chola was alone in the battlefront assisted by his cousins like Madhurantaka and his own son Aditya II.


There is an opinion among historians that Sundara Chola drove out the Pandyan-s from Madurai forcing them to seek refuge in the Western Ghats. The title “Pandyanaic Cu?am I?akkina” started appearing from his 7th year onwards. This was CE 960.


In CE 967 Vira Pandyan was killed.

In CE 966, Aditya’s regnal period started.

With Sundara Chola’s latest regnal year being his 17th year, we learn that his death year was CE 970.

Death of Sundara Chola = CE 970.

That was the accession year of the missing king – most probably a brother of Sundara Chola.

This king must have died within two years, i.e., in CE 972, because that was the accession year of Madhurantaka.


At that time not many seemed to be available to take up rulership. So, from the extended family, Madhurantaka was chosen by Aditya. Before going further, let me give the fresh line-up of kings.


1st year of Para?taka I = CE 907

Death of Rajaditya = CE 949-50

Death of Para?taka I = CE 954

Death of Gandraraditya = CE 954

Accession of Sundara Chola = CE 954

Death of Arindama = CE 966 or before

Accession of Aditya II = CE 966

Death of Sundara Chola = CE 970

Accession of the missing king (Rajakesari) = CE 970

Death of the missing king = CE 972

Accession of Madhurantaka = CE 972

Death of Aditya II = CE 977

Accession of Arulmozhivarman = CE 977


How Madhurantaka turned to be an outsider


In this line-up, having the direct descendants from Para?taka I, his son Arindama, his son Sundara Chola and his son Aditya, the break comes with the presence of Madhurantaka. He seemed to block the direct line going to Arulmozhivarman.


His presence - which was not of his own making - must have been resented by common man or others. This seemed to have entered the records of Tiruvalangadu copper plates that he 'coveted' the throne. It was by twist of Time that he got it and it is sad that his inevitable presence was recorded disparagingly by Rajendra I in the copper plates. This particular feature about Madhurantaka, being the odd-man when the people desired Arulmozhi, triggered the novelist Kalki to conceive the story, Ponniyin Selvan!


Madhurantaka finding himself in a piquant situation, lost no time in announcing kingship for Arulmozhivarman. Arulmozhivarman had not yet proved his mettle but was the most loved prince, maybe because he looked handsome and adorable like his father. His war deeds started only after he was given rulership.


Any guesses about his first ever war deed? It was to take revenge on who plotted his brother’s death.



[i] Verse 8, Larger Leyden Plates.

[ii] SII, Vol III, No. 180.

[iii] SII, Vol 3, No. 106.

[iv] KA Nilakanta Sastri, “Colas”, p. 134.

[v] SII Vol 3, No.101.

[vi] SII Vol 3, No. 105.

[vii] SII, Vol 3, No 96.


(To be concluded…)



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