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VIII

UNDERSTANDING KALABHRA INTERREGNUM
”THE DARK AGES” O
F SOUTH INDIA 

AD 72 – 600

There is something strange about the History of South India, especially of Kerala.  Whereas we have unbroken history of the reigns of Kings elsewhere in India, the history of South India is blank from the coming of St. Thomas until around fifth century for most South Indian states (Chera, Chola and Pandya States) until around eighth century in Kerala.

 

Pandiya mean old country.
Chera means hill country
and
Chola means new country,
in Sangam Tamil lexicon.

 

Kalabhra Interregnum

The people who controlled South India during this period is referred to as Kalabhras.  According  to most historians Kalabhras were the South Indian dynasty who between the third and the 6th century A.D. ruled over the entire Tamil country, displacing the ancient Chola, Pandya and Chera dynasties. But nothing of their origin, character, religion or social structure is known.

After the tail end of the Sangam period (AD 200 0r 300), it is believed that Kalabrar over ran the kingdoms of Chera .Chola and Pandyas.


It is repeatedly asserted that they did not leave any artifacts or monuments. How come that we cannot trace any artifacts or monuments? The only source of information on them is the scattered mentions in Buddhist and Jain literature and a few scattered insciptions

 

One copper inscription says that a Kalabrar king defeated 3 Kings and their kingdoms. (Velvikudi Paddayam). But the names of the 3 kings who were defeated by the Kalabrar are not known.  

 

The author of Yaaparankalam (a Tamil grammar book) talks about a Kalabrar King by the name Achchuthan.

 

Moorthy Nayanar Puranam describes that in Pandiya Nadu when a Kalabrar King died without a successor, they used an elephant as was the practice of those periods to choose the next king. The elephant chose the saffron-clad Moorthy Nayanar.   

Periya Puranam says that Kootruva Naayanar - One of the  63 Naayanmars  belonged to the Kalabrar clan. 

Idankali Nayanar who ruled Kodumpaloor belonged to the Kalabhra clan. 

Some say the Muththarayar (who ruled all 3 areas) are Kalabrar and they were Tamils.

Several inscriptions tells us who defeated the Kalbhras.
One Inscriptions says that King Kadungone defeated the Kalabrao and restored the Kingdom in the 6th century.
Pallava King Simha Vishnu of Thondamandalam defeated the Kalabrar king who was ruling Chola Nadu.
But we have no record of the defeat of Kalabhrar of  Chera.   

The chieftains of this tribe mentioned in Sangam literature are Tiraiyan of Pavattiri and Pulli of Vengadam or Tirupati.

Thus we have the Wikipedia statement: ”Historians speculate that these people followed Buddhist or Jain faiths and were antagonistic towards the Hindu and Brahminical religions adhered by the majority of inhabitants of the Tamil region during the early centuries C.E. As a result Hindu scholars and authors who followed their decline in the 7th and 8th century C.E. may have expunged any mention of them in their texts and generally tended to paint their rule in a negative light. It is perhaps due to this reason, the period of their rule is known as a ‘Dark Age’ – an “interregnum”.   Wikipedia
(
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Tamil_Nadu. as it appeared on Sep 9, 2010 14:47:10GMT)

These  were intentionally destroyed.   Blotting out names and history was an age-old method practiced in ancient cultures.    Historians affirm that  this is exactly what happened in the case of South India as a whole until the sixth century. In Kerala this period extended probably until the eighth century.

This period is referred to as Kalabhra interregnum is often called the Dark Ages.  It is called a dark age, not because it was anything evil or dark,  but because of the lack of information about the people  of the period.  It is as though somebody took a marker and covered these pages with black ink. It is an age that has been blacked out by some body because they did not like the Kalabhras and their ways. 

As such
the identification of who this Kalabhra remain a problem.  There had been a number of attempts to identify the Kalabhras based on the etymology of the word.

Some attempts in Identification Kalabhras

  • T.A. Gopinath Rao identifies Kalabhras with Muttaraiyars of Kondubalur (of eighth to eleventh century C.E.).  taking their Tamil common name  Kalvan to have been translated as Kalabhra is Sanskrit
  • M Raghava Iyengar identifies Kalabrahs with Vellala Kalappalar which are referred to in Tamil literature and inscriptions
  • Most historians think that there was a group of Buddhist or Jain marauders who were anti-Brahminic anti-ritualistic who forcefully occupied the land during this period and whose identity is not known.
  • Others regard them as Karnatas on the strength of a reference in Tamil literature to the rule of a Karnata king over Madurai.
  • Some others identifies the Kalabhras with the Kalavar, and the chieftains of this tribe mentioned in Sangam literature as from Tiraiyan of Pavattiri and Pulli of Vengadam or Tirupati. The latter is described as the cattle lifting robber chief of the frontier.

None of these will however explain the fact that the Kalabhras covered the whole of South India and ruled for practically six centuries and yet left no trace of them in terms of art, artifacts, culture, documents and religion. This is obviously not a possibility. The only explanation is that we are missing something significant and obvious. We are looking for the Kalabhras in the wrong places. We may be actually having the answer right in front of us.

While there is no doubt that Buddhism and Jainism (coexisting with Vedism and local religions) existed in Kerala since second century BC (at the least); why should there be a sudden change in their attitude in the first century AD that they are considered heretical during that period?  “heretica”  to what? Were they not heretical before?  The very basis of Buddhism and Jainism are extreme non-violence and respect for life.  (This is the principle of Ahimsa – they are not allowed even to kill an insect) and no where in India they have ever attacked another religion or kingdom.  To think of them as marauders and terrorists is simply absurd and only the audacious fraud alone can represent them in that mode. In fact Asoka became a Buddhist on seeing the bloodshed he has caused in war.  So Jain or Buddhist groups could not really be the Kalabhras.


Ahimsa
Ahimsa in Jainism

Ahimsa is a fundamental principle forming the cornerstone of its ethics and doctrine. The term "ahimsa" means “non-violence”, “non-injury” or absence of desire to harm any life forms. Vegetarianism and other non-violent practices and rituals of Jains flow from the principle of Ahimsa. According to Adian Rankin, the concept of Ahimsa is so much intertwined with Jainism that it conjures up images of ascetics who cover their mouths and sweep the ground before them with small brushes to avoid injuring the most minuscule forms of life and Jain-owned animal sanctuaries where even the sickest, most deformed birds and beasts are protected and cherished.


Ahimsa in Buddhism
All beings fear violence; all fear death. If you take yourself as the measure, do not kill and do not let others kill. All beings fear violence; all love life. If you take yourself as the measure, do not kill and do not let others kill. (Dhammapada7, Chapter 10)

Do not kill living beings. Do not let others kill. Do not allow others to kill. One needs to control violence toward all living beings whether they are strong and powerful in society or they are fearful and weak. (Sutta-Nipata8, Chapter 2, #14)

Ahimsa in Hinduism
The principle of Ahimsa was unknown to Vedic Hinduism. It was the extreme acts of killings at every turn as sacrifice that led to the development of Jainism and Buddhism as reaction. In the latter Hinduism killing became the duty of one class of people “Kshatriyas”. This is the teaching of Gita.

However we know that Buddhism - which was a powerful religion of the intelligent rationalistic Keralites practically came to a close during the Kalabhra period. Jainism was never a strong religion of South India.

So we have to look elsewhere for the real “Kalabhras”.  It may be legitimately assumed that it came out of the epithets  "Cerobothras' of the Periplus. Pliny the Roman historian of the first century calls them as Caelobothras. These may be the foreigner’s effort to pronounce what Asoka named as  "Keralaputra" referring to the Sons of Kerala. All other given explanations are clearly forced. 


India as known from Asoka
A history of India
By Hermann Kulke, Dietmar Rothermund

In early Tamil literature the great Chera rulers are referred to as Cheral, Kuttuvan, Irumporai, Kollipurai and Athan. Chera rulers were also called Kothai or Makothai. The nobility among the Cheras were called Cheraman in general. The word Kerala, of possible Prakrit origins, does not appear in Sangam Literature. Ashoka's edicts mention an independent dynasty known by the name "Kedalaputho", who were outside Ashoka's empire. The unknown author of "Periplus of the Erythraean Sea" mentions Chera as "Cerobothra" ("Keralaputhra") whose capital is Karur, while Pliny, the Roman historian of the first century, calls it "Caelobothras". [ P. 104 "Indian Anthropologist: Journal of the Indian Anthropological Association" By Indian Anthropological Association ] Some kings of the dynasty referred to themselves as Vanavaramban, Imayavaramban etc. [ P. 15 "The Ācārya, Śakara of Kāladī: A Story" By Savita R. Bhave, M. G. Gyaltsan, Muṣṭafá Amīn, 1933- Madugula, I S Madugula ]

54. Tyndis is of the Kingdom of Cerobothra; it is a village in plain sight by the sea. Muziris, of the same kingdom, abounds in ships sent there with cargoes from Arabia, and by the Greeks; it is located on a river, distant from Tyndis by river and sea five hundred stadia, and up the river from the shore twenty stadia. Nelcynda is distant from Muziris by river and sea about five hundred stadia, and is of another Kingdom, the Pandian. This place also is situated on a river, about one hundred and twenty stadia from the sea.

Page Number: 50-59. Author: Periplus.  . Ancient History Sourcebook  Travel and Trade in the Indian Ocean by a Merchant of the First Century http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/periplus.html

The king of Muziris, at the date of publication of Pliny’s work was Caelobothras. In one of the manuscript it is given as “Celobotras who belonged to the Keralaputra dynasty”. In Ptolemy’s Geog (vii, I, 86) the name appears as Kerobothros and in the Periplus as Kiprobotras (Ancient India as Described in Classical Literature, By John Watson M'Crindle)


Mudiraja tradition

Perhaps there is something in the Mudiraja tradition
The Muthuraja of Tamilnadu, the Mudiraja of Karnataka and Mudiraj of Andhra Pradesh are one and the same people having the same blood and professional background. Mudiraj people are believed to be the descendants of kalabhra kings of South India who invaded South Indian Peninsula and uprooted the kingdoms ruled by Adhirajas (Great Kings) of Chola, Chera and Pandya dynasties. The kalabhra kings who played a great havoc in South Indian Penensula by snacthing away the kingdoms of the then ADHIRAJAS declared them as the real GREAT KINGS (MUDIRAJAS).  We have strong records to indicate the presence of powerful Christian groups in Pandya areas and there was constant communication with Kerala Christians during the Kalabhra era. Christians in Kerala themselves are still known as MAHAPILLAI (Sons of the Kings)

The Thomas songs mentions the conversion of large number of Vellalas to Chrisitianity.

 

Evidently speculation of the Indian historians always left out the impact of St.Thomas and his ministry intentionally to the extent modern historians take their existence as feeble.    A similar willful neglect on basic historical realities is also seen in every modern Hindu History. 

All Hindu historians agree that for some reason  Vedic gods got extinct and new gods of Hinduism came in during the first century.  But there is no reason given!. A sudden change for no reason?  A Personal God, Brahman, the idea of Om, the idea of incarnation etc were never even heard of in India before the coming of St.Thomas. They also agree that St.Thomas and other Thomases came to India and had established churches from North India to South India from Taxila to Cape Comorin, just before this change.  But they refuse to see the connection.  There is an intentional blocking out or ignoring of the Christian presence and influence anywhere in India.  This is really the basic
Kalabhra Interregnum.  What I am suggesting is that the period referred here as “Black Age” is the epithet given to the Christendom in South India by the later Brahminic historians probably with some help from the Aryan Persian Gnostics who followed the Christian world.  It was simply a period which they did not want to remember. There is no dearth of evidences, art or artifacts for this period– only all these are ignored willfully in an ongoing attempt to rewrite history. A search in the literature and internet will simply show the same willful attempt to black out  any mention of St.Thomas’ ministry to the extent of trying to establish that Jesus is a myth and Christianity came to India only with the Portugese colonization.  You can actually identify who caused this twisting by identifying the modern twisters of Indian history.

Christianity was indeed the religion that supplanted Vedism. Vedism and Vedic Priests who were weakened under the rationalistic movements of Buddhism and Jainism disappeared from Kerala till the seventh century. What happenned to the Vedic Priests who remained rare?  The Archealogical Survey of India  and the Official Nambodiri Website assures that none of the Brahminic families of today could trace their presence beyond the seventh or eighth century. Were there no Vedism of Brahmins in Kerala before this period?  Kerala was raised out of the sea by Parasu Rama and was given to Brahmins according to the incarnation story.  What happenned to these Brahmins of Kerala from the first century to eighth century? The only explanation is that they must have simply adopted the new religion and became “Nazareneees” or “Isanuvadikal” exactly as the tradition says.  The absence of Brahmins in Kerala from the first century to the eighth century itself is the evidence of the accuracy of the Thomas traditions.

The symbol of the Nasranis is the Syrian cross, also called the Nasrani Menorah  Mar Thoma sleeba in Malayalam. It is based on the Jewish menorah, the ancient symbol of the Hebrews, which consists of a branched candle stand for seven candlesticks. (Exodus 25).  In the Nasrani Menorah the six branches, (three on either side of the cross) represents God as the burning bush, while the central branch holds the cross, the dove at the tip of the cross represents the Holy Spirit. (Exodus 25:31).  In Jewish tradition the central branch is the main branch, from which the other branches or other six candles are lit. Netzer is the Hebrew word for "branch" and is the root word of Nazareth and Nazarene. (Isaiah 11:1).

Varying degree of Indian Symbolism can be find in St. Thomas Cross. The cross rises from a lotus blossom which forms its base. Lotus is the national flower of India and it represents the ancient civilization symbolizing purity and spontaneous generation. It also symbolize divine birth. At the bottom of the cross there are three steps representing God the Father. The cross itself represents God the Son, and a dove, representing the Holy Spirit, is at the top of the cross. The lotus represents a natural inculturation with Indian civilization symbolizing divine birth. Some critiques has pointed out a Buddhist influence, as lotus is a widely used symbol of divinity in Buddhism. Some of the St.Thomas crosses in Kerala, has leaves which are downward pointing. This is indigenous. This symbolism and tradition are not find in Persian or Middle East or even in Byzantine art.

These typical Marthoma crosses are still found the following locations,

Taxila, Pakistan. Taxila cross is  dated ( ca 2-6 century)

Agasaim,
Goa. This Cross is dated of 6th Century.

St. Thomas Mount, Tamil Nadu- This Cross is considered as the oldest cross in India.

 In Kerala it us found in several places showing the presence Christians all over  the Kerala
Kadamattam The Cross is dated between 6-8th Century.
Muttuchira. The Cross is dated between 6-8th Century.
Kottayam, Kerala.. One cross is considered of late origin ( C10th century) and the other dated between 6-8th century.
Kothanalloor, This Cross is dated between 6-8th century.
Alangad 

Anuradhapura
, Sri Lanka. Anuradhapura  Anuradhapura, was one-time capital of Sri Lanka. There is also a baptismal fonts dating 5th century discovered from Anuradhapura. This Cross is considered as another   oldest Cross.

By the 6th century  at least we are certain that Christianity was a popular religion of India in these regions which also are the areas where St.Thomas is said to have evangelized.  Cross as a symbol of Christian faith developed only after the second century because of political reasons.  Until that time fish was the most popular symbol.

 

Kottayam Cross                   Kottakkavu ( Parur) Cross                   Niranam Cross

Unbroken presence of Christianity in South India

Manimekalai, written between second and third century C.E., mentions the Nasrani people by the name Essanis.

The important churches which were erected during this period based on tradition are as follows:

YEAR                          Church locations & Events

 

c. 40 AD                       Saint Thomas the Apostle at King Gondaphares in North India

c. 52 AD                       Saint Thomas the Apostle lands at Cranganore

c. 52-72 AD                  Saint Thomas the Apostle builds churches or communities

( Palayoor,  Kodungaloor, Parur, Kokamangalam, Niranam, Nilackal, Kollam)

These must have started as house churches,

July 3rd. 72                     AD Martyrdom of  Saint Thomas the Apostle at Mylapore, India

c. 105 AD                     Kuravilangadu  Church founded

c. 290 AD                     Pallipuram Church founded

c. 300 AD                     Ambazhakad Church founded

c. 301 AD                     Aruvithara Church founded

c. 400 AD                     North Pudukad Church founded

c. 400 AD                     Puthenchira Church founded

c. 427 AD                     Chambakulam Church founded

450 AD                         Akaparambu Church founded

450 AD                         Angamali Church founded

c. 480 AD                     Mattam Church founded

c. 510 AD                     Muttuchira Church founded

c. 510 AD                     Kaduthuruthy Church founded

c. 510 AD                     Enammavu Church founded

c. 510 AD                     Udayamperoor Church founded

c. 593 AD                     Edapally Church founded

c. 600 AD                     Chalakudy Church founded

c. 600 AD                     Mylakombu Church founded

c. 650 AD                     Kolenchery Church founded

c. 650 AD                     Moozhikulam Church founded

c. 824 AD                     Kayamkulam Church founded

c.826  AD                     Kothanalloor Church founded

c.835 AD                      Athirampuzha Church founded

890 AD                         Kottayam Church founded

900 AD                         Nagapuzha Church founded

943 AD                         Manjapra Church founded

943 AD                         Mavelikara Church founded

950 AD                         Kadamattom Church founded

960 AD                         Pazhuvil Church founded

999 AD                         Arakuzha Church founded

999 AD                         Nediasala Church founded

999 AD                         Kottekad Church founded
999 AD                         Kunnamkulam Church founded

From  Ancient Churches with traditional dates of foundation & Stone Crosses of Kerala- Saint Thomas Cross, Nazraney Sthambams and other Persian Crosses  Authored by NSC- Admin on Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Nasrani Sthambams

 

                                                     

2nd Century  Open Air Rock Cross  called Nazraney Sthambams
  at Kuravilangadu, Kerala

Cross are made out of one granite stone.  The plinth of these crosses represents lotus petals and lotus flowers and has a square base. It also has a variety of iconographic motifs, including elephants, peacocks and various other animals, depictions of the Holy Family and of the Crucifixion. 

These crosses are found in Kottekkad, Enammavu Mapranam, Puthenchira, Parappukkara, Veliyanad, Kalpparambu, Angamaly, Kanjoor, Malayattoor, Udayamperur, Kuravilangad, Uzhavoor, Chungam, Kaduthuruthy [2 Nos.], Muthalakodam, Muttuchira, Kudamaloor, Niranam, Kothamangalam, Chengannur, Thumpamon, Chathannur and many other places

We can see an unbroken growth and presence of churches throughout Kerala for the first millennium through the Kalabhra Period.

Pre Kalabhra Political Structure

When Thomas enetered India, it was essentially a village based culture with local rulers who ruled more like family patriarchs rather than Kings.  Some times the villages formed together for self protection to form a confederacy.   So when we are talking about Kings and rulers the extent of their power weakened with distance.  When Kings went out to war to conquer, they left the land with local ruler or a regent.  The regents or local ruler often rebelled and made themselves free. Most of our history is read in from the literature.

 
The only source available for us regarding the early Chera Kings is the anthologies of the Sangam literature. Scholars now generally agree that this literature belongs to the first few centuries CE. [The age of Sangam is established through the correlation between the evidence on foreign trade found in the poems and the writings by ancient Greek and Romans such as Periplus of the Erythrian Sea. See Nilakanta Sastri, K.A., History of South India, pp 106] The internal chronology of this literature is still far from settled.

The Sangam literature is full of names of the kings and the princes, and of the poets who extolled them. Despite a rich literature that depicts the life and work of these people, these are not worked into connected history so far. Their capital is stated to be modern Karur in Tamilnadu. 

THE CHERA GENEALOGY.

(According to “The Chronology of  the early Tamils – K.N.Sivaraja Pillai, University of Madras 1934 based on Sangam Literature and other researchers.)

25 B.C. -1 A. D. 
(1)       Karuvur-Eriya-Ol-Val-Kopperumcheral-Irumporai, the Conqueror of Karuvur. 
 
1 A.D. -25 A.D. 

(2) Udiyan Cheral probably son of (1). It is said that he fed the rival armies during the war of Mahabharata which would make the Mahabharata war in the first century AD.

3) Antuvan Cheral probably son of (1). 
 
25 A.D. -50 A.D. 

(4) Kudakko Neduncheralatan, son of   "Imayavaramban"  another Sangam age king claimed to have conquered up to the Himalayas and to have inscribed his emblem in the face of the mountains.

(5) Palyanai- vel-Kezhu Kuttuvan, son of (2)  
(6) Celva-Kadum-Ko alias Chikkarpalli-tunciya Celva Kadumko son of (3)
50 A.D. -75 A.D.
(7) Chenkuttuvan Cheran (Kadal Pirakottiya Vel Kezhu Kuttuvan) son of (4). 

(8) Kalaihkay- kanni-Narmudi- Chheral son of (4)

(9) Kuttavan Trumporai, the conqueror of Takadur, son of (6)
 
75 A.D. -100 A.D. 

(10) Adukotpattu- Cherlatan   son of (4) .

(11) Kudakko-Ilam Cheral Irumporai son of (9). 
 
100 A.D. -125 A.D. 

(12) Cheraman-Kuttuvan-Kodai. 
 
125 A.D. -150 A.D. 

(13) yanaikan-Ocy-Mantaran-Cheral-Irumporai. 
 
150 A.D. -175 A.D. 

(14) Cheraman Mari-Vanko. 
(15) Cheraman-Kokkodai-Marpan. 
 
175 A.D..200 A.D. 

(16) Cheraman-Kanaikkal-Irumporai. 

In early Tamil literature the great Chera rulers are referred to as Cheral, Kuttuvan, Irumporai, Kollipurai and Athan. Chera rulers were also called Kothai or Makothai.

Archaeology has also found epigraphic evidence regarding these early Cheras. [See report in "Frontline", June/July 2003 ] The most important of these is the Pugalur (Aranattarmalai) inscription. This inscription refers to three generations of Chera rulers: Athan Cheral Irrumporai, his son Perumkadungo, and his son Ilamkadungo.  Athan refers only to a crowned King of Chera dynasty who accepted this title at the time of coronation. Athan Cheral Irumporai was probably the last crowned king of the first dynasty.  

At the time of  Thomas part of Chera was ruled by Athan 1     (AD 40-55) who became a Christian.  His son Athan II  Vana-Varman / Chelvak-dadduvan  (father of Chenkkuddavan/Imaya varanan)   AD 55-90  was also a Christian. Ilango the Tamil epic writer was asked by Thomas to succeed King Athan II as his first son Chenkuddavan was war thirsty.

 

In the Chola Kingdom Karikal   AD 50-95  and the Pandya King  Pandya Nedun Cheliyan    AD 50-75 were Christians. Christianity was at its peak under Pandya Nan-Maran (Good Pandya) son of Ugra peru valuthi in whose court Tiru Kural was published. Nan maran organized Holy Communion every day for his subjects for which he imported wine from Greece and Rome. According to Purananuru he used a gold grail.

 

As is evident, the whole of Dravida  was Christian by the second century.  The other  religions of the period in this region were the rationalistic religions of Buddhism and Jainism along side of the local tribal and native cults.  If there were Vedics they merged with the local cults or were totally converted to Christianity.  Thus we see no Vedic presence at all till the sixth century AD.

The Chera dynasty came to an end by the end of second century.

Kalabhra Era Started soon after from the third till the eighth century when Christianity had powerful presence in South India.

 “The Kalabhras seem to have put an end to the old Tamil Chera and Pandyan dynasties of the Sangam Age.  The great ruler Acuta Vikranta Kalabhra ruled from Kaverypumpattinam in Tanjore district at the mouth of Kaveri river probably in the fourth century AD.  The second capital of Kalbhras was at Madura.  Kasakundi plates refers to Simhavisnu' conquest of the Kalabhra late in the 6th century AD.  The Velvikudi plates plates of Nedunjadayan show the defeat of the Kalabhras at the hands of Kadungon (c. A.D. 600).” Geography from ancient Indian coins & seals  By Parmanand Gupta

“ The Kalabhras, who ruled in the far South including Kerala and the South Mysore minted and circulated a large quantity of copper coins from about 250 AD to the Middle of sixth century AD” (Ramayya, S.  Anote in Kalabhra kootan's coins, JNSI, XLII pp 18, JNSI XXXV, 142)

Society under the Kalabhras

At the same time, efforts were made to remove the evils from the society. The Tamil Siddhars like Thirumoolar had preached their philosophical ideas. Morals and ethics had been preached through education and literature.  We will have more to say about this society under King Mahabali.

Education and Literature

The Kalabhra rule in the Tamil country had witnessed the growth of education and literature. Sanskrit and Prakrit languages had been introduced in the Tamil region. This had resulted in the development of a new script called Vattezhththu. The Tamil literature had also taken new forms, and the Tamil grammar had also undergone a few changes during this period. Many works under Pathineen Keezhkanakku were composed during this period. Epics like Seevaka Chinthamani and Kundalakesi were written. Nigandus were also composed during the Kalabhra period.The Buddhist and Jain monks had contributed much to the growth of education. The Buddhist educational institutions were called Ghatikas. Scholars like Buddhadatta, Buddhaghosha and Bodhidharma lived during this period. The Jain Palli had remained important educational centers during the Kalabhra rule. The Jain Palli (School) at Thirupathirippuliyur remained an important educational centre during this period. Sarva Nandhi and Vajra Nandhi were the two great Jain scholars, who lived in this period.

 Tiruvalluvar, The disciple of Thomas

As per Tamil tradition, Tiruvalluvar  is believed to have lived some time during the 1st millennium AD. While most scholars place him between 100 and 300 AD, there are a few who consider him to have lived around 600 A.D. and therefore certainly within the Kalabhra era. Maraimalai AdigaL did extensive research on the date of thiruvaLLuvar. While presiding over the Thiruvalluvar Day conference of Thiruvalluvar Kazhagam held on 18 Jan 1935, he declared that thiruvalluvar was born 30 years before the birth of Jesus. His suggestion was that the Tamil Thiruvalluvar year can be obtained by adding 31 years to the Christian Calender. (http://tamilelibrary.org/teli/tvazthu.html)  So when Thomas landed in Kerala he was probably in his 80s, a respected old man, full of wisdom.  Even if the dates are little off the mark, it is almost certain that he was a in the right place and time to be a disciple of St.Thomas and within the margin or errors of the relevant datings of the periods.  In 1975 Dr. M. Deivanayakam  and Dr. R. Arulappa. co-authored the book Perinba Villakku in which Tiruvalluvar is represented as one of the first disciples of St.Thomas in the Mylapore area. 

Like all other Indian scriptures, the trend of the orthodox hindu is to predate everyone and every document way back into antiquity. New tactics is to post date Valluvar to avoid his presence during the time of Apostle Thomas.   Thus the Hindutvas consider Tirukkural as composed during Sangam period (500-200 BC). However C. Rajagopalachari,( Indian independence activist with Gandhi,   leader of the Indian National Congress who was the last Governor-General of India who after independence served as the Premier of the Madras Presidency, Governor of West Bengal, Minister for Home Affairs of the Indian Union and Chief Minister of Madras state, the founder of the Swatantra Party and the first recipient of Bharat Ratna)  says that Kural belongs to a period anterior to 2nd century CE. Some scholars put it in the 1st century BC.  Some put the date between 200 BC to 800 CE.  Some even to 1000 CE.

 

In the year 1969, Dr. M. Deivanayagam the founder of the Dravidian Spiritual Movement published a book titled 'Is Thiruvalluvar a Christian?' establishing in it Thirukkural as a book of Christian ethics and Thiruvalluvar was a Christian. Later on, in an assembly of 36 Thirukkural Scholars, convened by the Christian Arts and Communication Centre, Chennai. Dr. Deivanayagam convinced the assembly about his research findings. Subsequently a scholar named  T.S. Sathyam, was propped up by non-Christians to undertake a Ph.D. dissertation to disprove the findings of Dr. Deivanayagam. But, after 3 years of research, the Ph.D. thesis of Dr. Sathyam approved by the university of Madras also concluded and affirmed the findings of Dr. Deivanayagam. Also the University of Madras conferred a Ph.D. degree on Dr. Deivanayagam for a thesis which established that Saivism and Vaishnavism are the offshoots of St. Thomas Dravidian Christianity. This new finding was debated in a Saiva mutt in the assembly of spiritual leaders and scholars like the Head of the Saiva Siddhanta Dept. of Madurai Kamaraj University, heads of Saiva Mutts like  Kunrakkudi Adigalar etc., where they all conceded to the research findings, but pleaded for time to accept the same as they are altogether new to them.  In 1975  Dr. M. Deivanayakam and Dr. R. Arulappa co-authored the book Perinba Villakku in which Tiruvalluvar is represented as being Christian. The book of Dr.Deivanayagam - based on his Ph, D. thesis – “Bible, Tirukural and Saiva Siddantha, a comparison” (Vivliyam, Thirukkural, Saiva Siddantham – Oppu Ayvu) was published in 1985-86 by Tamil Nadu Government, International Institute of Tamil Studies, Adayar, Madras  (His Ph. D moderator was highly regarded Scholar-S.V.Subramanian.).  Dr.Deivanayagam conclude his book with a finding that Thiruvalluvar was a Christian and a disciple of  St.Thomas and most of the Shaiva Sidhantha and the vivid knowledge found in Thirukkural were essentialy expressions of Christian experience and principles.  This study was followed by a series of Ph. D. level studies by Dr. Devakala  (The Origin and Development of Tamil Bhakthi Movement – in the Light of the Bible ), Dr. J.D. Baskara  Das (Six Darsanas and Religions of the Tamils), Dr. Moses Michael Farradey (The Songs of Tamil Sidhars and the Bible), Dr. Johnson Thankiah (Trinity in Tamil Literature),  Every Scholar who studied could not but express how parallel the Tirukural teachings are to the teachings of Christianity.  G.U.Pope who translated the Tirukural into English observes that much of its teaching is an echo of the Sermon on the Mount.

It is therefore certain that Kalabhras were the Christians who practically took over the entire Dravida.  The Christians were not known as Christians.  That was the name given to the followers of Jesus cult in Antioch.  The religion was known as “The way”.  In India they were known as “Margam koodyor”, which means “one who follow the Way” and Isanuvadi (followers of Isa) and Nasranis (followers of the Nazarene)

 

Post Kalabhra Period

During the seventh century AD, Pallavas under Mahendravarman I and his son Mamalla Narasimhavarman I drove out Kalabhra Kingdom. The Pallavas were originally executive officers under the Satavahana Empire  After the fall of the Satavahanas, around 550 AD under King Simhavishnu they emerged into prominence. They subjugated the Cholas and reigned as far south as the Kaveri River. Pallavas ruled a large portion of South India with Kanchipuram as their capital.  The Pallavas were replaced by the Pandyas in the 8th century C.E..

A good look at the time line of  South Indian history will give lots of insight. The Time line goes like this:


 In Chola and Pandya regions of South India

When it came out of the Kalabhra Interregnum period it was the Pallavas who were ruling the Pandya and the Chola Kingdoms.  We should be able to assume legitimately that the decimers of Kalabhras were indeed Pallavas. 

Who were the Pallavas?

The word Pallava means branch in Sanskrit

 The Early Pallavas claimed to be Brahmins of Bharadwaja gotra.  They styled themselves as Brahma Kshatriyas (Brahmins in Pursuit of arms). Later by the fifth century CE, the Pallavas were regarded as Kshatriyas. They were followers of the Brahmanical religion in the sense that the Aryan dominance was trying a come back.  They pushed themselves down from the North.

The Early Pallavas
   claimed to be
     Brahmins of Bharadwaja gotra.
         They styled themselves as
          Brahma Ksnatriyas
.
They were Brahmins who took arms.


Pallava coin 500 – 675 AD
The earliest known coinage in lead issued by the Pallavs  dated between 3rd and 4th century AD.

Pallavas c.645 CE during Narasimhavarman I

Persian Origins of Pallava Kingdom

Recent historical, anthropological, and linguistic evidence indicates that the Pallavas  who ruled Dravidian Chera area were of Parthian origin and the name Pallava is just a variant of a well known Sanskrit Pahlava.  The Pahluvas were the peoples who spoke Pehlvi, a language of Persia. Pallavas are originaly connected to the Pahlavas of Iran.  The Pallavas came to  India sometime during second  century BC and settled in south-western and southern India. The Markendeya Purana and Brhat Samhita  mentions Pahlava and Kamboja settlements. The earliest known coinage in lead issued by the then Pallavs could be dated between 3rd and 4th century AD. The must have come as merchants just as the later colonisers.  They became powerful and became Kings only by the third century AD.  This  Pahlava tribe of Indo-Iranian descent migrated Southward and first settled in Krishna River valley. This region is called Pallavanadu even today. Pallavas later extended their territory and established their capital in Kancheepuram.  They had their capital near Kanchipuram. During the 5th century, the Pallavas expanded very fast.   At the end of 500 AD, the territory came into the possession of Simha Vishnu, and he became the founder of the Pallava dynasty.  This gave impetus to the syncretism of Persian and Indian religions absorbing Christianity along with it.

Savism and Vaishnavism were the major religious denominations of the Pallavas. The Early Pallavas claimed to be Brahmins of Bharadwaja gotra and were evidently Vaishnavites. Later they became Saivites.   They in fact built large number of temples during their period – among them are the Shore Temples and Chariots of Mahabalipuram shores. These are probably some of the oldest Hindu temples of India   Vaishnavism was more popular in the North while Saivism became popular in the South.  Kanchipuram became the center of Persian trade, Gnosticism and of “Hinduism”.  Their Dynasty lasted till the Ninth century AD. 

In actual fact Hinduism as we know today started with the Pallavas.

It is easy to see that the Kalabhras were actually defeated and displaced by the Pallavas of Syrian origin.  Though they were Brahmins they became a terrorist group to take over the Kalabhra Empire.    It was this dynasty who gave refuge to the Gnostics from Syria and were the architects of modern Vaishnavism.  Pallavas are famed for their temples which are spread all over Tamil Nadu.

“Bhakti and temple-building movements went hand in hand after the Kalabhra interregnum ended. There was a definite paradigm shift from Vedic yajnas to archa worship in temples and the Velvikkudi copperplates are eloquent witness to the rejuvenation of the Vedic-Brahmanic religion in South India.” (The Hindu, Sunday, Dec 23, 2001 )

However  Kerala survived the assault of gnosticism for another three centuries.  At the end of the  'long historical night' which continued in Cheranad till early 8th century A.D  there arose an illustruous line of Kings known as the Kulashekharas who ruled Kerala until 1102 A.D. The empire they built is commonly called the 'Second Chera Empire' to signify the renewal of the Chera rule in Kerala after a break of three centuries. The kings of Second Chera empire united Kerala into a homogeneous political unit from 800- 1102 A.D. They are referred to as Cheraman Perumal. “The Chera kings took the title of "Perumal" during this period and patronised the Vaishnavite sect.” (http://en.academic.ru/dic.nsf/enwiki/1316247)

Following is the list of Cheraman Perumals who ruled Kerala during the Second Chera empire-

  1. Kulashekhara Varman (800- 820 A.D)- also called Kulashekhara Alwar.
  2. Rajashekhara Varman (820- 844 A.D)- also called Cheraman Perumal (Nayanar)
  3. Sthanu ravi Varman (844- 885 A.D)- contemporary of Aditya Chola
  4. Rama Varma Kulashekhara (885- 917 A.D)
  5. Goda Ravi Varma (917- 944 A.D)
  6. Indu Kotha Varma (944- 962 A.D)
  7. Bhaskara Ravi Varman I (962- 1019 A.D)
  8. Bhaskara Ravi Varman II (1019- 1021 A.D)
  9. Vira Kerala (1021- 1028 A.D)
  10. Rajasimha (1028- 1043 A.D)
  11. Bhaskara Ravi Varman III (1043-1082 A.D)
  12. Rama Varma Kulashekhara (1090- 1102 A.D)

As a result the Kalabhra Interregnum extended till the eighth century in Kerala.  It ended with the coming of Brahmins from outside India with Parasurama.  At the end of eighth century we see temples and idols appear all of a sudden in Kerala.

Thus soon after the Kalabhra interregnum we see an upsurge of Hinduism specifically of Vaishnavite tradition both in Tamil region and in Kerala.  Thus it is certain that the rewriting of history was done by these people to blot out the memory of the vast and powerful history of the Indian Christendom.  Apparently they succeeded.

 “At the end of the eighth century A.D, South Indian kingdoms such as the Pallavas, the Chalukyas, the Rashtrakutas and the Pandyas succeeded in overthrowing the Kalabhras.”
(http://www.indiasite.com/kerala/history.html)


Is it surprising that the same people are pursuing the same decimation of Christian presence and the mission of Thomas today relentlessly?  You only have to look at the vaishnava sites and the twisting of facts in the attempt to remove St.Thomas and Christianity from South India. 
Wikipedia states: