Naga Rani Soma – Kaundinya Marriage Story in Vietnam (Post No.7103)

Research Article written London Swaminathan
swami_48@yahoo.com

Date: 16 OCTOBER 2019
British Summer Time uploaded in London – 20-48
Post No. 7103

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There are two interesting stories about the fonder of the Hindu Rule in Vietnam. Two thousand years ago the country was called Annam and Champa. When the French ruled the region, it was called Indo-China and Cochin- China. The Hindu rule was started by a Brahmin named Kaundinya. The inscriptions talk about two Kaundinyas. But there is nothing unusual in it because Kaundinya is a Gotra name. Whoever is born in the Gotra/clan call himself Kaundinya. They were well known in Tamil Nadu. We know three famous Kaundinyas. One was the saint who crossed the ocean and established Hindu rule in South East Asia (S E A) which lasted for over 1500 years. Another famous Kaundinya was the great Saivaite saint Thiru Jnana Sambandar who revived Saivism in Tamil Nadu 1400 years ago. The third Kaundinya was Vishnu Dasan in Purananuru of Sanagam Tamil Literature. He was a great Brahmin who performed Yagas and Yajnas and the ghee was flowing like river according to Tamil poet Avur Mulan Kizar (Verse 166 of Pura nanuru)

Now back to Kaundinya of Vietnam. Once a follower of Hindu faith, directed by god in his dream, came to Champa in a trading vessel. The female ruler of the kingdom came to plunder the vessel, but was taken aback by the military power of the Brahmana Kaundinya and his followers. She submitted to the new comer and married him. Her name was Soma and she was the head of Nagas, the snake (race) people. The story was recorded in the middle of third century by the Chinese. It is echoed in an epigraphic record dated 657 CE in Cambodia.

In that epigraph we hear that Brahmana Kaundinya married daughter of the Naga King, and from this union sprang the royal family.

The Chinese records distort Sanskrit names beyond recognition. But from the history of both the countries and the period of rulers we are able to identify the Chinese names.

Kaundinya was called Hen Tien in Chinese history.

Another story about the foundation of Kambuja (Cambodia) says that the son of Indraprastha was banished by his father for some misdeeds. He came to the kingdom and defeated the Naga ruler and then married his daughter.

We see similar stories in Tamil epic Manmegalai, Pallava history and Mahavamsa of Sri Lanka.

The story line is similar- one banished prince travels to a far-off place, marries the local princess and start a new royal line.

The Chinese distortion of names must be understood to follow the history of Vietnam. Since we have only inscriptions in Vietnam and no written history we have to look at the written records in Chinese. Following Sanskrit names are identified in Chinse records.

First King Sri Maran (192 CE) = Kiu -lien or Fan-che-man

Indra varman or Shresta varman = Chelli ta pa mo

Kaundinya = Huen – tien

Jaya varman = Cho – ye- pa-mo

FUNAN = Phnom, biu nam  (meaning  mountain – Sailendra )

Yava dwipa = Ye- tiao

Deva varman =Tiao pien

R C Majumdhar, an authority on S E A History argues that we see the influence of both South and North Indian cultures in S E An countries.

So far, scholars agree that the script came through the Pallava region and the architecture also is similar to the Pallava period. Place names and Kings’ names and religious ideas and artefacts are from both North and South India

But my research shows more similarities and the scholars have missed those points until now.

Following are my discoveries:

1.The first King’s name SRI MARAN is a typical Tamil Pandya king’s name. We don’t find such name anywhere in India except Pandya Dynasty. Sri Maran’s name is documented in Tamil inscriptions and Tamil literature

2.Vietnam’s Kate festival is similar to Pitru Paksha and Mahalaya Amavasai of Hindus of India. Both pay homage to the departed souls at the same period in similar ways.

3. Ram Navami and other Hindu festivals are celebrated by Vietnam Hindus (Chams) with the names like Ram naung

4.We have two famous Kaundinyas in Tamil literature- Purananuu (verse 166) and Thevaram of Sambandar.

5. There was a Tamil king with the title ‘the Pandya who lost life in sea’ (Kadalul Maaintha Ilam Peruvazuthi). My opinion is that he was one of the kings on sea expedition, may be travelling towards S E A.

6.Most famous Pallava King Mahendra Varman ruled from Kancheepuram in Tamil Nadu. At the same time there was one Mahendra Varman in SEA.

7. Pasupata Cult , Kabalika cult are referred to in Tamil Saivaite saints’ stories (Periya  Puranam etc).  it existed in S E A at the same time. We must find out who spread this to SEA.

8.Sanskrit Inscriptions, numbering over 800 are found spread over a vast area from Vietnam to remote Borneo. We see Sanskrit writing in Vietnam from second century CE and we see Mulavaraman Yupa Inscription deep inside Borneo’s thick forest. How was is possible to spread Sanskrit from one end of SEA to another end 1600 years ago?

There is much scope for research in the above areas and the universities in both countries must come together and organise joint research. One must know Sanskrit, Chinese and Tamil to study the ancient history of S E An countries.

–subham —

Brahma on Stamps

Following are my discoveries:

1.The first King’s name SRI MARAN is a typical Tamil Pandya king’s name. We don’t find such name anywhere in India except Pandya Dynasty. Sri Maran’s name is documented in Tamil inscriptions and Tamil literature.

2.Vietnam’s Kate festival is similar to Pitru Paksha and Mahalaya Amavasai of Hindus of India. Both pay homage to the departed souls at the same period in similar ways.

3. Ram Navami and other Hindu festivals are celebrated by Vietnam Hindus (Chams) with the names like Ram naung.

4.We have two famous Kaundinyas in Tamil literature- Purananuu (verse 166) and Thevaram of Sambandar.

5. There was a Tamil king with the title ‘the Pandya who lost life in sea’ (Kadalul Maaintha Ilam Peruvazuthi). My opinion is that he was one of the kings on sea expedition, may be travelling towards S E A.

6.Most famous Pallava King Mahendra Varman ruled from Kancheepuram in Tamil Nadu. At the same time there was one Mahendra Varman in SEA.

7. Pasupata Cult , Kabalika cult are referred to in Tamil Saivaite saints’ stories (Periya  Puranam etc).  it existed in S E A at the same time. We must find out who spread this to SEA.

8.Sanskrit Inscriptions, numbering over 800 are found spread over a vast area from Vietnam to remote Borneo. We see Sanskrit writing in Vietnam from second century CE and we see Mulavaraman Yupa Inscription deep inside Borneo’s thick forest. How was is possible to spread Sanskrit from one end of SEA to another end 1600 years ago?

There is much scope for research in the above areas and the universities in both countries must come together and organise joint research. One must know Sanskrit, Chinese and Tamil to study the ancient history of S E An countries.

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1 Comment

  1. Some reflections on this subject.
    1. China is very active in this region. There is a fairly large presence of ethnic Chinese and Chinese derived people in these areas. China is intensely fostering Mandarin and other aspects of Chinese culture and connection in these areas. This not only poses political but civilizational issues for India in the long run. Unlike China or the US or the West generally, India or Indian Hindus do not care for or respond to the issues facing ethnic Indians (Hindus) present in other countries. Of course, India cannot interfere politically or militarily, unless it is strong like the US, but nothing prevents it from taking up the cultural issues in an academic manner, and seeking world attention. [ Right now, various Christian groups are taking up many social /religious issues in India in the guise of ‘human rights or animal rights or environment’ through the front of NGOs.] Unless India and Hindus do something in respect of the remaining symbols and monuments of ancient Indian /Hindu culture in these areas, there is danger of complete obliteration of Indian presence. If that happens, it will be an enormous cultural loss for India. We have already lost many such connections in the North West- in Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.
    2. Since Independence, Indian government has not evinced any interest in fostering or promoting Indian culture in other parts of the world. It does not take up vital issues or come to the rescue of Indians or Hindus. Its political/military misadventure in Sri Lanka was disastrous. Though there is large presence of Hindus in the US and Europe, Hinduism does not command the respect or consideration due to it as an ancient religion or living civilization. Indian studies are grouped in the US universities as part of South East Asian studies. While other religions are taught in comparative religion courses in a deferential and sympathetic manner, by practitioners of those religions, Hinduism is alone taught by persons who are not the authentic practitioners or insiders; hence a distorted picture of Hindu religion is deliberately spread.
    A person cannot get Ph.D in Mandarin in any US university, unless the thesis is scrutinised and vetted by a native Chinese Scholar. But anyone can advance any thesis in respect of Sanskrit language or literature and get Ph.D without reference to any authentic Indian scolar with practical knowledge and living contact with and experience in the subject.
    This trend has to be checked and countered by people’s effort. We should not allow such a situation to develop in South East Asia.
    3. Something needs to be said about Manu Smriti. It is true Manu Smriti prohibits Brahmins from going abroad. But there is evidence of Hindu colonies in other areas, such as even ancient Greece and other places. How could Hindus lived there, unless there had also been Brahmins to cater to their religious needs?
    The exclusive and intense focus on Manu Smriti seems to a phenomenon of the Colonial era. The British colonists were seeking to justify their occupation of India on some old authority. They invented the Aryan invasion theory. Another was to elevate the Manu Smiriti to an absolutely authoritative status , as if it was the day to day manual. In reality, we find that each region of India followed its own local norms and customs ( Desha Acharam) and it was the local custom and usage that prevailed over absolute Smriti dictates. Secondly, even what was spread in the name of Manu Smriti was not the original, authentic version, but a version which was meddled with by local pundits in Bengal. And English orientalists added their own twists. For instance, when a question arose about awarding death sentence to a Brahmin, it was found that this was not permitted in the Smriti. The smriti’s rule was that the Brahmin had to undergo some physical sign of dishonour such as removal of tuft, some mark on his face and banishment from the area. This matter was referred to William Jones who was considered an authority on Manu Smiriti! He said that the Brahmin had to be branded with some mark on his forehead, with a hot iron, and such a mark was actually made! We do not know how and where Jones found this rule! It is by such devices that the British promoted Manu Smriti and created divisions within Hindu society on that basis.
    4. In spite of Communism, China has not forgotten that it is an ancient civilization, and both its government and its citizens are imbued with that spirit. Alas, such spirit is lacking in India, though historians like Toynbee and Samuel Huntington have treated India as a Civilization. In fact Toynbee’s “A Study of History” is a study of over 20 civilizations, not mere political history of nation states. It is a pity that Indian authorities are not conscious of their heritage as descendants or defenders of an ancient, living civilization, but people can rise above this rut.

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