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Rama Varma (fl. late 11th century CE[7]), known as the Kulasekhara Perumal Chakravarthikal, was the last ruler of the Chera Perumal/Kulasekhara dynasty in medieval Kerala.[8][9] Rama Varma was a Perumal, the Chera king in Kodungallur, and was instructed in administration by the advisory council known as "the Four Brahmin Ministers".[10][11][12] He is best known for his highly successful, yet defensive, wars against the powerful Chola empire.[9] Royal orders attributed to Rama Varma can be found at Panthalayani Kollam near Quilandy, Perunna near Changanassery and at Quilon.[13]

Rama Varma
Kulasekhara Perumal
Koyil Adhikarikal
Cheraman Perumal
Cheramanar (Tamil)
Ma Ko
Chakravarthikal
Thiruvadi
Perunna (Changanassery) (1099 AD).jpg
Perunna temple inscription (1099 AD)
King of Chera Perumal/Kulasekhara Kingdom
Reign1090–1102 AD[1] or
1089–1122 AD[2]
PredecessorRavi Rama Varma (c. 1082–1090 CE)[3] or
Adithya Goda "Ranadithya" (c. 1036–1089 CE)[4]
SuccessorVira Kerala[5]
IssueVira Kerala[6]
HouseChera Perumal/Kulasekhara dynasty
ReligionHinduism

Political authority of the Chera Perumals, like Rama Varma, over medieval Kerala is a matter of debate. It has variously been described as a monarchy supported by a Brahmin oligarchy, or as a ritual monarchy under a bold and visible Brahmin oligarchy.[14][15][7]

A record dated to 1102 CE, states that Rama Varma was meeting at Panankavil Palace in the port city of Kollam with the Four Brahmin Ministers (the Nalu Thali), the Leader of the Thousand Nair Warriors, the Leader of the Six Hundred Nair Warriors of Venadu, and Mana Vikrama the Punthurakkon, the Chief of Eranadu. It is considered that the assembly at Kollam followed the recovery of that port-city from the Pandya-Cholas.[16]

It is speculated that Kollam served as the second capital of the Kodungallur Chera kingdom towards the final phase of Rama Varma's rule. It seems that the prosecution of the Pandya-Chola wars necessitated long residence of Rama Varma in Kollam. The strategic advantage of marriage relations with the old ruling clan of Kollam in securing the loyalty of Venad can also be considered in the light of continuous Chola-Pandya pressure on this part of Kerala.[17] There is a tradition that Vira Kerala, a ruler of Kollam in early 12th century, was a son of the last Chera king.[18]

Epigraphic recordsEdit

Note: Material: granite, script: Vattezhuthu with Grantha, and language: Old Malayalam (unless otherwise stated)

Year Location Contents
Nature Royal Name Notes[13]
c. 1089 (no regnal year) Panthalayani Kollam Bhagavathi temple inscription - courtyard of Panthalayani Kollam Bhagavathi temple Royal order "Kulasekhara" - Koyil Adhikarikal Koyil Adhikarikal orders that out of the Annual Dues from Panthalayani Kollam, the Village Assembly was granted five nazhi out of every six nazhi and the melpadi of Thathamangalam
1092 AD (3rd regnal year) Thiruvalur temple inscription (built into the entrance of the temple) Temple committee resolution "Kulasekhara Perumal" Contents: Village Assembly and the Village Assembly Secretary meet in the presence of Kadangothu Narayanan Ravi Koyil at the Aralur temple and unanimously appoint the priests and fix remuneration and terms of service.
1099 AD (10th regnal year) Perunna temple inscription (west side of the central shrine in temple) Royal order "Kulasekhara" King residing and issuing orders from the Great Temple (the Nediya Thali)
  • King sitting in council with the Four Brahmin Ministers and the Thrikkunnappuzha at the Great Temple ordered the cancellation of Annual Dues and War Tax from Perunneyathal, and the institution of Namaskaramand Maparatham with that amount and handed it over to the Perunneyathal Village Assembly and Village Assembly Secretary.
  • Royal orders to this effect were sent to the Kuthippadis through messengers
1099 - 1100 AD (10th and 11th regnal years) Nedumpuram Thali inscriptions (right side of half-wall of the entrance corridor through the vathilmadam of the temple)
  • Temple inscription (10th year)
  • Temple committee resolution (11th year)
  • "Ma Ko Rama" (10th year)
  • King's name or regnal year not mentioned (11th year)
  • 10th year: Period of Manangattu Kumaran Ravi as the chief of Nedumpurayur Nadu.
    • Pulloor Kumaran Kumarathichan, the leader of the Nair warriors of Nedumpurayur Nadu, supervises the temple, making some arrangements in the temple.
  • 11th year: Period of Thalappulathu Kandan Kumaran as the chief of Nedumpurayur Nadu.
    • Kanjirappalli Ravi Kannapiran, the leader of the Nedumpurayur Nadu warriors, sitting in council in the temple decided to cancel the decision taken by Pulloor Kumaran Kumarithichan, the [former] leader of the Nair warriors of Nedumpurayur Nadu. Kannapiran gave orders to this effect to the officials of Nithyaviyareswaram temple. Fine is prescribed for the violation of the rules.
  • Dated in 278 Kollam Era
  • 1102 AD (13th regnal year)
Rameswaram temple inscription (Kollam) (pillar set up in the courtyard of Rameswaram temple) Royal order "Rama Thiruvadi Koyil Adhikarikal Sri Kulasekhara Chakravarthikal"
  • Calls himself "Chakravarthikal" - i.e., independent ruler. Residing and issuing orders from Panankavil Palace, "Kurakkeni" Kollam
  • King sitting in council with the Arya Brahmins, the Four Brahmin Ministers, the Leader of the Thousand Nairs, the Leader of the Six Hundred Nairs of Venadu, and Mana Vikrama (the Punthurakkon, the Chief of Eranadu) and other feudatory chiefs.
  • King made amends for some "offence" against the Arya Brahmins and leasing out a Crown Land for that purpose to Kumara Udaya Varma, the chief of Venadu.
  • The king makes provision for Koothu (the Dance) and offering at Thirukkunavaya Jain (?) temple.
  • Witnesses are mentioned
1122 AD - 4th regnal year of king Vikrama Chola (coronation 1118 AD)

Material: granite blocks, script: Tamil, and language: Tamil.

Thiruvanchuli temple inscription (Tanjore) - south wall of the mandapa in front of the central shrine in Kapardiswara temple Temple inscription "Cheramanar Rama Varma"
  • Identification tentative - mentions king Vikrama Chola.
  • Mentions a gift of 14 kashu for a garland to the deity of the temple for the benefit of the Chera king Rama Varma.

Literary evidencesEdit

  • Medieval Malayalam sloka - names the last "Cheraman" as "Rama Varma".[19]
"Arum nerittu nillar ariya netuvirippoteto vanmelallo
Nireki pantotukkattakhilagunanidhe Ceraman Ramavarma".

Medieval Malayalam sloka, Ulloor S. Parameswara Ayyar, Vijnanadeepika, IV

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ As per E. P. N. K. Pillai (1955 and 63)
  2. ^ As per M. G. S. Narayanan (1972)
  3. ^ As per E. P. N. K. Pillai (1955 and 63)
  4. ^ As per M. G. S. Narayanan (1972)
  5. ^ Narayanan, M. G. S. Perumāḷs of Kerala. Thrissur (Kerala): CosmoBooks, 2013. 86.
  6. ^ Narayanan, M. G. S. Perumāḷs of Kerala. Thrissur (Kerala): CosmoBooks, 2013. 86.
  7. ^ a b Narayanan, M. G. S. 2002. ‘The State in the Era of the Ceraman Perumals of Kerala’, in State and Society in Premodern South India, eds R. Champakalakshmi, Kesavan Veluthat, and T. R. Venugopalan, pp.111–19. Thrissur, CosmoBooks.
  8. ^ Menon, A Sreedhara (1 January 2007). A Survey Of Kerala History. D C Books. ISBN 9788126415786. Retrieved 7 January 2019.
  9. ^ a b Narayanan, M. G. S. Perumāḷs of Kerala: Brahmin Oligarchy and Ritual Monarchy: Political and Social Conditions of Kerala Under the Cēra Perumāḷs of Makōtai (c. AD 800 - AD 1124). Thrissur (Kerala): CosmoBooks, 2013. 20. 125 - 130, 467-470.
  10. ^ Kesavan Veluthat. Kerala’s past Frontline. 24 January 2014 [1]
  11. ^ Veluthat, Kesavan (1 June 2018). "History and historiography in constituting a region: The case of Kerala". Studies in People's History. 5 (1): 13–31. doi:10.1177/2348448918759852. ISSN 2348-4489.
  12. ^ Noburu Karashmia (ed.), A Concise History of South India: Issues and Interpretations. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2014
  13. ^ a b Narayanan, M. G. S. Perumāḷs of Kerala. Thrissur (Kerala): CosmoBooks, 2013. 20. 125 - 130, 467-470.
  14. ^ Noburu Karashmia (ed.), A Concise History of South India: Issues and Interpretations. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2014
  15. ^ Veluthat, Kesavan (1 June 2018). "History and historiography in constituting a region: The case of Kerala". Studies in People's History. 5 (1): 13–31. doi:10.1177/2348448918759852. ISSN 2348-4489.
  16. ^ Narayanan, M. G. S. Perumāḷs of Kerala. Thrissur (Kerala): CosmoBooks, 2013. 127.
  17. ^ Narayanan, M. G. S. Perumāḷs of Kerala. Thrissur (Kerala): CosmoBooks, 2013. 154.
  18. ^ Narayanan, M. G. S. Perumāḷs of Kerala. Thrissur (Kerala): CosmoBooks, 2013. 171.
  19. ^ Ulloor S. Parameswara Ayyar, Vijnanadeepika, IV, P; Elamkulam, P. N. Kunjan Pillai, Kerala Charithrathile Iruladanja Edukal, (Kottayam, 1953. Reprint. 1963.) pp. 147-8.