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Tamilnadu A Journey In Time Part - 1

Educational & Professional | 77 Chapters

Author: George Abraham Pottamkulam

1.16 K Views

“This is the Land of One of the oldest living culture of the world, the Dravidians! They defined culture through their living! A culture which attracted innumerable people to this magical land, who live here, enmeshed through great teachings and scripted Epics that evolved a way of life.” The History of the World has seen Men and Women born to change the course of our lives through their personalities. We call them role models. Time will hono....

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Introduction

“This is the Land of one of the oldest living cultures of the world, the Dravidians! They defined culture through their living! A culture which attracted innumerable people to this magical land and live here enmeshed through great teachings and scripted epics that evolved a way of life.”

The history of the world has seen men and women born to change the course of our lives through their personalities. We call them role models. Time will honour them as Greats and Legends.

Do men and women of indomitable spirit rise to drive the change and create something new? I believe they rise not just because they want to, but because they feel they have to rise. They belong to a country, caste, creed and community only by birth, but their messages remain universal! Whatever we think of colonialaism now, such men and women transformed the world.

…If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.

– John Quincy Adams

In my humble compilation, you will find a galaxy of explorers who were destined to visit our land, become a part of our culture and deeply influence our way of life. They had an impact on our fortunes and misfortunes. Some were born here as proud children of India, as they were, in a way, gentleman adventurers in their own right. They were born in a time when their words were right and their work left a mark, but, perhaps, in a wrong time, a century ago. They all still need mentions as special people - early traders and voyagers, missionaries, great surveyors, planters, conservators and naturalists, great engineers, administrators, law makers, military officers and shikaries - not forgetting the tribals and workers who worked with them in the shadows. Now, slowly they emerge, into the stream of a brighter today. Their works remain a motivation for the future, as are we, the products of a past but not prisoners to it. This book seeks to draw any worthwhile inspiration from the works of the past and correct any mistakes of the future.

Today, we stand at the fork of a trail, as a fingerpost that connects the past to the present and into future. We can join hands to revive these lost tracks of our biodiversity, culture and traditions which have led us to this day, and not be the last generation to tread these gentlemen trails.

In the following pages, we embark on a journey of about three thousand years’ history of the evolution of dynasties, trade, missionary work; sprinkles of stories from personal diaries interwoven with anecdotal tales and punctuated with biographies, mostly as book excerpts which will take us back to a long-buried era when West met the Far East. We bring you the modern world as we see it today, as the east reaches out to the West.

By the end of the journey with us, you will be able to arrive at a decision on whether the personalities depicted here were true contributors or consumers. Some will fade into oblivion, some many remain as temporary as tombstones in your mind and a few greats will remain in your hearts forever as ‘Living Memorials,’ relevant every minute as they stood for freedom, service, enterprise, upliftment and peace. Sadly, today, many of them are misrepresented by those who do not know them in their true motives which kept the fire kindled in them.

“From the Ancient to the 19th Century, the gentlemen who augmented enterprise, battled Religious Bigotry, Social Injustice and Colonial Oppression, Preserved Nature, Freedom Curbs and crafted the magnificent mosaic that is our Nation”

In our county, India, all of us absorb and follow a lot of values from religious epics like Ramayyan and Mahabaratha. In the Ramayyan, when Prabhu Ram became victorius over Ravan and he was returning back for home, he was told by Vibheeshan, “Lord Ram, since you are victorious, you can stake a claim over the Golden city of Lanka.”

Lord Ram then turned around and said,

Janani Janmabhoomshichyaswargadhaabegareyase!

My mother land, my mother is so beautiful, and she is greater than all the heavens human beings seek to achieve!”

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Symbolic Division

Stretching across nearly the entire width of peninsular India, The Vindhya Range symbolically divides the North and South. South of the Vindhya range lies a triangular-shaped mass of ancient rock, the Deccan Plateau, which slopes gently eastward towards the Bay of Bengal. Godavari, Krishna and the Cauvery, are Southern rivers that originate in the rain-soaked peaks of the Western Ghats.

The Western Ghats Mountain Range or the Sahyadri Range begins South of the Tapti River, close to the boundary of Maharashtra and Gujarat. The Western Ghats begin to rise north of Mumbai, running parallel to the coast, until they reach the tip of the peninsula India. Here, they merge with the southernmost portion of the Eastern Ghats, a chain of low interrupted ranges that sweeps northeast in the direction of Chennai.

With an average elevation of 915m, the Western Ghats are covered with tropical, temperate, evergreen and mixed deciduous forests. Waterways and lagoons that characterise Kerala, etch the sedimentary plain of the Malabar Coast.

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“If there is one place on the face of earth where all the dreams of living men have found home from the very earliest days when man began the dream of existence, it is India.”

– Nobel Laureate Romain Rolland

India has 31 states, 1618 languages, 6400 castes, six religions, 6 ethnic groups, 29 major festivals and one country. Proud to be an Indian!

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Destination – South India

Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Goa, Andhra Pradesh, Pudhucherry the Lakshadweep Islands and Andaman and Nicobar Islands comprise South India. Mountain ranges of the Western Ghats, a meandering coastline and a spur into the Eastern Ghats caressed by coral islands, wrap South India in its warm embrace.

With its own language, cuisines, states and distinct customs of the people that vary even within the state, South India is as unique as it is different. The cuisine varies significantly even with every sub-region. Naturally endowed with fertile lowlands, long coastal stretches, dense forests, high mountains and vast plateaus, its architectural grandeur is reflected in the magnificent domes and minars, sprawling temple complexes with beautiful carvings and hand-carved giant statues. The culture of the region is as ancient as civilisation, with temples built by the kings of different dynasties to tell their stories of valour and bravery, a mix of religions and festivals associated with it.

Short History

Many interesting facts reveal themselves in the ancient history of Tamil Nadu. The Dravidian land was ruled by three dynasties, Chola, Pandya and Chera from the 4th Century BC.

The present Thanjavur and Tiruchirapalli districts were ruled upon by the Cholas. Threatening the local people with military strength, Elara, a Chola Prince decided to expand his kingdom, conquering Ceylon in the 2nd century BC.

Devoting much of their time towards learning and establishing trade relations with traders throughout their kingdom, the Pandyas controlled the districts of Madurai, Tirunevely and parts of South Kerala. Ambassador sent by a Pandiyan king in the 1st century BC, was warmly received by Augustus, the Roman Emperor.

The Kanchi Pallavas were in power for 400 years, establishing their supremacy and regal splendour in the South between the 5th and 8th centuries A.D. Having subjugated the Chola domination, they took their armies to Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in the 6th century.

The famous Alvars and Nayanars (sage poets) flourished during the Pallava era and were responsible for the spiritual awakening in the minds of the local populace. The Cholas became a great power in the South in the 9th century A.D. when they defeated the last of the Pallavas.

The Pandyas became dominant in the 13th century. Channels of international trade were established during their rule. The prosperity of Vijayanagar Empire brought about the downfall of the Pandyas.

Soon, Vijayanagar absorbed almostall the territories of the Pandyas. After the disintegration of the Vijayanagar Empire, several petty kings apportioned Tamil Nadu among themselves.

Madras State was renamed as Tamil Nadu in August 1968. As the name suggests, people of Tamil Nadu consider Tamil as a language enriched with all the qualities of an ancient culture and traditions. Among the Dravidian languages, Sanskrit least influences Tamil. The earliest extant literature of the Tamils is called Sangam literature, and it is dated between 500 BC and 200 A.D. Tiruvalluvar’s Tirukkural is acclaimed to be the greatest Tamil Classic. Tamil has produced two epics Silappadhikaram and Manimekhalai in the 3rd century and three others, Sivaga Sinthamani, Kundalakesi and Valayapathi, in due time. In the period between 13 and 18 century A.D., the works of Muslim and Christian writers influenced Tamil literature. The Christian influence began with the Portuguese and continued with the Dutch, the French and the British. The Italian priest, Beschi, composed the magnificent poetical work, Tembavani on the life of St. Joseph.

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Devanagari-script Bhagavatapurana-Sanskrit British Library-1900

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Ganges-River

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Pilgrims Ghat Phalgu-River-Bihar India-Gaya - Naga Girl Arunachal-Pradesh-India

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A Look Back into the History of Madras

The origin of Madras dates back to a few centuries. Prior to that, small villages existed for well over 1000 years in a cluster of civilisation. Villages around temples were in existence for several centuries, long before the Europeans arrived in India.

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Cholas and Pallavas

During the earlier period, the Kalabhras suppressed Tamil chieftains for several decades. Soon, South India was split into numerous warring kingdoms. The Cholas virtually disappeared, the Cheras prospered through trading and the Kalabhras were overthrown in the late 6th century A.D.

For the next 300 years, the history of South India is resplendent with the fortune of the Chalukyas of Badami, the Pallavas of Kanchi and the Pandyas of Madurai. From their base at Thanjavur, the Cholas spread North and absorbed what was left of the territory of the Pallavas, and made inroads into the South. Music, dance and literature also flourished, and as a result, Tamil culture acquired a more distinct character, enduring in South India long after the Cholas had disappeared from the horizon. Trade wasn’t the only thing the Cholas brought to the shores of South-East Asia, but they also introduced their culture as well. Their legacy lives on in Myanmar (Burma), Bali and Cambodia through the dance forms, religion and mythology of the regions.

Muslim Rulers

By 1323 A.D., Muslim rulers had reached Madurai in Tamil Nadu, pushing aside a series of local rulers, including the Hoysalas and Pandyas. Muhammad Tughluq rebuilt the fortifications in Daulatabad in Maharashtra to keep control of Southern India, recalled his army by 1334 in order to wage campaigns elsewhere.

The Vijayanagar Empire has always been thought to have been founded by two chieftain brothers who were captured and taken to Delhi, converted to Islam and then, sent back to the South to serve as governors for the Sultanate. Around 1336 A.D., the brothers reconverted to Hinduism and established a kingdom that eventually covered all the areas of Southern Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and parts of Kerala.

During the reign of one of the greatest kings, Krishnadevaraya, Portuguese chronicler, Domingo Paez arrived in Vijayanagar. After Vasco da Gama arrived in Calicut in 1498, doors were opened to facilitate trade between the Portuguese and Indians. Afonse de Albuquerque reached the shores of India after Vasco da Gama and he established his little kindgom that included Goa. Roman Catholicism was introduced to India by the Portuguese in 1588 A.D. The defeat of the Spanish Armada lay open the sea route to the east for the English and the Dutch.

Francis Day was the first European to reach the shores of Madras. A member of the Masulipatnam council, he undertook a journey down the east coast of South India, looking for a promising place to set court. He founded Madraspatnam and built the Fort of St. George, as the building was finished during The Feast of St. George. A settlement soon began to form around the Fort, and the new town called itself Chennaipatnam. The town adjacent to the the Fort came to be known as Madraspatnarn.

The origin of the name ‘Madras’ is mired in folklore. Some attribute the name to the small church built by the Portuguese dedicated to the Mother of God - Mae do Deus, whereas others ascribe the name to a local village chieftain Maddarasu. Be that as it may, Madras rose in stature and power with the rise of the British Empire. Many colleges, hospitals and prominent landmarks were established in tune with its rising importance. Towards the end of 19th century, Madras was clearly established as an important hub in South India. Today, Madras is known as Chennai and is the capital of Tamil Nadu, one of South India’s largest states.

Society exists only as a mental concept. In the real world, there are only individuals.

– Oscar Wilde

The Dravidians are the oldest living culture of the world. They defined culture through their living – a culture that attracted innumerable people to this magical land, who lived here surrounded by great teachings, scripting epics that signified a way of life.

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The term Dravidian is usually used to refer to the Dravidian speaking populations of South Asia who speak various Dravidian languages such as Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam and Tulu. As far as physical features of contemporary Dravidian speakers are concerned, they are usually considered to be Caucasoids or a mixed population of Caucasoids and Veddoids by most of the anthropologists rather than Australoids or Negritos. Modern-day Dravidian speakers can be classified / divided into 6 groups according to their phenotypes.

1.Indo Iranids - Brahuis

2.Indo Melanids – Most of the Tamils

3.Gondids – Gonds and other similar Tribal groups of Central India

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Educational & Professional | 77 Chapters

Author: George Abraham Pottamkulam

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Tamilnadu A Journey in Time Part - 1

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