Interesting Story about an unknown Tamil King!


Mucukundan in Tiruvarur Temple, Tamil Nadu

Research paper written by London Swaminathan
Post No.1194; Dated 25th July 2014.

Very interesting stories are woven around a Choza king who was not recorded or documented in history. The Choza king Mucukunda is in the Puranas and Tamil literature. But history does not know him. From Kandhapurana and Silappadikaram commentaries we know the following details about him:

1.He helped Indra in defeating a demon.
2.Indra gave him a goblin (Bhuta) to protect his city. Later Chera took it to Vanji.
3.Mucukunda ruled from Pumpukar, Choza port city or Tiruvarur.
4.Mucukunda was an ardent devotee of Shiva.
5.He received several statues from Indra and installed them in and around Tiruvarur.
6.His face looked like a monkey (Musu = Monkey).
7.Mucukunda celebrated Indra Festival. He was very much into it.
8. A lot of Sthalapuranas have recorded Mucukunda’s role in local temples. He is connected with Tiruvarur, Tirumaraikkadu, Nagappatinam, Tirunallaru, Tirukkarayal, Tiruvaymur and Tirukkuvalai.

Following are the references from the Puranas and Tamil Epic Silappadikaram.
Pumpukar was a port city in the Chola kingdom. The importance of Pukar was not long lived. Now part of it is under the sea– Bay of Bengal. Anticipating the forthcoming devastation of the city, ‘buta’ (goblin) at Butachahukkam, which was brought from Indra’s abode by Mucukunta, was removed to Vanji by the Chera king. Source : –Canto 28 commentary of Silappadikaram

mural tiruvarur

Tiruvarur Temple Murals

Tamil epic Silappadikaram while describing the Indra festival says that the dancers performed Tunankai dance to ward off the evil which might befall the victorious king Mucukuntan. Whole Canto Five of Silappadikaram is devoted to a detailed description of Indra festival. It was an annual festival lasting for 28 days. Lot of men and kings came from the northern parts of India came to watch the festival. It commenced on the full moon day in the month of Chitra and with the preliminary worship of the guardian deity who was sent by Indra to help an ancient king of the Pukar line, Mucukunta. Sanskrit literature has many references to Indra dwajam festival. (For details read my earlier post on Indra Festival)

In Canto Six of Silappadikaram, the story of Mucukundan is narrated through the mouth of a Vidyadara (celestial being). He says to his wife that was the flag hoisting day of Indra Festival in Caampapati (Pumpukar). He said to his wife, “We shall go and witness the place where the great Bhutam (goblin) eats the sacrifice offered to it having carried out Indra’s orders to ward off the evil effects of the arrows aimed by hosts of swift going Asuras against the terror stricken but best of men, the victorious king Mucukunda, while he was keeping watch, tiger like over Indra’s city.

To cut the story short, once Mucukunda helped Indra and he in turn sent his Bhuta to protect the city. He gave him another boon that whoever wakes him from his sleep will be burnt to ashes.

Tiruvarur Temple and Tank

Lord Krishna was chased by a Kala yavana and Krishna entered the cave where Mucukunda was sleeping. When Mucukunda became tired he got a boon from God to sleep undisturbed for a long time in a cave. Kalayavana also entered the cave and slapped on Mucukundan thinking that it was Krishna pretending to sleep. When Mucukunda opened his eyes, Kalayavana was burnt to ashes. Tricky Krishna came out of his hiding and blessed Mucukunda. He advised him to go to Badrinath.

Bhagavatha and Skanda Puranas give a different account about Mucukunta . He is one of the three sons of Mandhata and Bindumati. His brothers are Purukutsa and Ambarisa. Hearing that Kala Yavana was destroying Devas , Mucukunta entered the cave, the residence of the Yavana, and slew him, to the wonder of the Devas. Indra offered him a place of honour in heaven. But Mucukunta wanted to go on sleeping in that cave undisturbed for an unlimited period.

Choza history has not recorded him in the historical line of known Choza kings. So we don’t know when it all happened.

Origin of Cholzas is shrouded in mystery. Pura Nanuru of Sangam literature and Silappadikaram of Post Sangam period praised Sibi Chakravarthy in many places as the forefather of the Chozas. Sibi ruled North West of India, far away from the Choza territory of Tamil Nadu.

Story of Mucukundan is also shrouded in mystery. While story of Sibi happened in North West India, Mucukundan was linked with Tiruvarur and its surrounding temples in Tamil Nadu.

Tirukkuvalai Temple.

Tamil Encyclopeadia Abidana Chintamani adds more interesting stories: Mucu means monkey and when he was born as a monkey in the Himalyas, he did offer Bilva leaves to Shiva. As a result of this Puja he was born as a son of Dilipa and Mangalvathy in the solar race found in Hindu Puranas. Then he married Vichitravathy and helped Indra in his fight against Vala. When Indra told him that he would give him a gift, Mucukundan wanted a particular Shiva idol from Indra. That was given to Indra by Vishnu. But Indra gave him a different idol. This happened six times and at last he got the idol he wanted. He installed all the idols in different temples in Thanjavur district. The main idol was installed in Tiruvarur.
Please read my earlier post

Sibi Story in Old Tamil Literature (Did Tamil Chozas come from the North?) posted on 15 July 2013.

Tirumaraikkadu (Vedaranyam) Temple


Pictures are taken from various sites;thanks.

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