|idols of Raja Raja and his consort stolen 60 years ago returned in March 2018 dtnext.in|
|Brihadeeswara temple, Thanjavur, TN economictimes.indiatimes.com|
|entrance towers, Brihadeeswara temple, Thanjavur. .ancient.eu/Tanjavur/|
|Feb5, 2020 Consecration Big temple, thanjavur. indianexpress.com|
|big temple, Thanjavur. thehindu.com|
The following are some interesting facts about this historical Shiva temple of Thanjavur:
01. Giving due importance to other grants to the temple and deities, he recorded the donations in terms of jewels, properties, etc given by his ministers and close relatives.
02. The 60.40 meter tower/ gopuram above the sancntum, it is recorded, once was covered in gold rakes shimmering in sunlight. A great tribute to the ruler and the affluence of the Chola dynasty; a symbol of socio-cultural supremacy.
03. Emperor Rajaraja also donated a golden Sri Bali Devar icon, golden Sri Bali Thalam and a lotus shaped vessel. In the following year he offered a golden Kshetra Bala Devar icon. nicely decorated Kendi (cup like vessel with a spout), a Vattil (plate to hold sacred offering) and thattam (salver).
04. He gave way golden kalasa (pot) to cover the cupola /dome atop the tower, and Padikkam, Kurumadal (vessel to hold sacred ash), all in gold.
05. On the occasion of his 25th regal year, the ruler had offered 3,083 “balam’’ copper and 2,926 and half “kazhanju’’ gold for making a gold raked copper sheath for the Sri Vimanam of the Big Temple. A kazhanju is equal to 1.77 gm today. The unfortunate thing is no solid evidence or any record is available as to the period of disappearance of the gold raked sheath.
06. It had been a tradition for Emperor Raja Raja to donate to the temple after each victory in the war. Three years after the consecration of this temple, the king offered a big perforated plate for Dhaarabishekam, Thirumudi, Poonin Kodi, Kalasapaanai and other divine insignia, again all in gold.
07. After his decisive victory over the Chera and Pandya, and later the Western Chalukya king Satyashrayan, rulers, Raja Raja Chola granted a lot of golden articles and ornaments, 20 golden flowers and a splendid lotus made of the same metal. The total weight was around 87.593 kg.
08. King Raja Raja donated as many as 30 golden ornaments studded with 277 corals, 173 diamonds and 19,613 pearls; total weight 887 kazhanju. The other items included a golden Veerapattam and Thirupattiagai to the Lord, two ornate jewels with 435 corals, 27 diamonds and 30 crystals, in all weighing 6.802 kg.
09. Inscriptions record a big list. Besides above in the same year Raja Raja Chola offered 53 sacred ornaments in gold weighing 3.901 kg 95.277 kg silver vessels and valuables for the service of the Lord. That was aside of the 23 copper icons and two silver Vasudeva idols that he installed at the temple. The contributions seem endless.
10. The ruler's sagacity comes to the fore when he followed a set of rules to be followed to manage the temple affairs. Those who had properties, etc., had the right to manage by way of forming a committee and any loss of jewels, etc had to be compensated collectively by the governing members roughly 118.
11. The priceless ancient bronze icons of Raja Raja Chola I and his royal consort Lokamadevi stolen from the temple over half a century back and finally came back only in 2018. The Idol Wing police led by Pon Manikkavel IPS achieved a big breakthrough in Feb 2018 with the recovery of the rare early 11th century Panchaloha idols of Periyaperumal (Raja Raja I), Logamadeviyar (the queen of Raja Raja I) worth Rs 150 crore from the Calico Museum, Sarabhai Foundation, Ahmedabad. The idols had been stolen 60 years ago from the Thanjavur Big Temple by professional idol thieves. .
12. The ordinary statue of Emperor Raja Raja is in a poorly kept park just across west end of the old hospital road close to the Big temple. The statue is not a majestic one worth his name and I wish they had made a marble or bronze statue in proper proportion for public display. The ASI never allowed installation of the statue on the temple premises, as it might affect its heritage value. Fifty years ago, the State witnessed a controversy over the installation of the statue of Raja Raja Chola I.
13. It was in late 1940s during the Raj , the temple became a protected monument under the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). But, the Central government was firm that nothing should be done to disturb the original character of the temple. Fourteen years later, in September 1984, in connection with the 1000th anniversary celebration of Raja Raja’s accession to the throne, the AIADMK Chief Minister M.G. Ramachandran revived the demand by appealing to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to grant permission to the State government for the installation of a statue of the Chola builder inside the temple. However, an ordinary statue of King Raja Raja came up in the park later.
14. Many politicians and political leaders, including those with rational outlook, are afraid to visit the temple through the main gates. The reason being, if they do so they may lose their power and the post after their visit to this famed temple. Some politicians did enter the temple not through the main gates, but through the passage on the west side close to the Sivagangai garden. They feel there is a jinx on this temple when it comes to politicians and this scare is dogging them irrespective of their parties.
15. In the early part of 14th century the notorious Malik Kaufer, military commander of Alauddin Khilji, who had already plundered Madurai and the temples there, raided this place and brought it under the newly formed Madurai Sultanate.
16.The shrines on the temple premises were added in the later period. Jadavarma Sundara Pandyain in the 13th century built the Amman shrine (Periyanaki, lord's consort), Sevappa Nayaka in the 16th century added Nataraja and Subramanya shrines and Serfoji II in the 18th and early 19th century built the Ganesha shrine. As for the Nandi Mantap, it was built during the Nayak rule.
17. It was in July 1939, the so called Harijans were allowed to enter the temple here. Madurai advocate Vaidyanatha Aiyar and others, for the first time in Tamil Nadu led a group of Harijans into the Madurai Meenakshi temple with ample support from Sri Pasumpon Muthuramalinga Thevar, a patriot and an associate of Nataji Bose.
|Feb 2020 consecration, Sri Brihadeeswara temple,Thanjavur,TN indianexpress.com|
The recent learned judges of Madras High Court, Madurai branch observed by quoting late President Dr S Radhakrishnan’s ''The Hindu View of Life: “To many, Hinduism seems to be a name without any content. Is it a museum of beliefs, a medley of rites, or a mere map, a geographical expression?’’ (p.11) Rejecting the petitions, it said: “If the petitioners’ request for a restrained order is accepted, it will only result in the Hinduism becoming mere museum of beliefs.”