Post No.7884

Date uploaded in London – 26 April 2020   

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TOLKPPAIAR, author of the oldest grammar book in Tamil called TOLKPPAIAM was a disciple of AGASTYA , one of the greatest of the Hindu seers.

A .Kalyanaraman says in his book ‘Aryatarangini’ ,

“In Tamil literature Agastya is given the pride of place and credited with the most ancient work in the language, named after him as ‘Agastyam’ which work has, however, been lost.  The earliest extant Tamil work written by Tolkaappiyanaar, author of Tolkaappiam , is a follower of Agastya. He uses sutra style of grammatical compositions, perfected by Panini . The original name of Tolkappianar is Trinabindhu  and he appears frequently in Javanese inscriptions as a disciple of Agastya.”



I was looking for the statue of Trinabindhu with Agastya and found both in a book. Please see the pictures –

Philipp Rawson says in his book ‘The Art of South East Asia’ :-

“The classical Indianized art of Java is possibly the greatest art produced by any of the peoples of South East Asia surpassing even that of the Khmers.

Chandi Mendut dates from about 800 AD (CE)  and is thus generally speaking contemporary with Borobudur.

Picture line-

Chandi Mendut bas relief-


Kuvera on the north wall of ante chamber. Kuvera is the God of Wealth, the merchant’s deity , and has sacks of gold under his feet and wish granting trees beside him.

Agastya and Vishnu (TOP PICTURE)

From another ruined Shiva temple not far from Borobudur itself, has come a group of extremely fine life size iconic sculptures, virtually full round. The Vishnu statue, 175 cm, is from Chandi Banon in Central Java . The divine teacher Agastya , 174 cm, from Chandi Banon, both ninth century AD (CE).

The divine teacher, sometimes called Agastya , represents god Shiva taking the form of a bearded Brahmin sage .

Statue of Trna Bindhu


There are a number of other fine images from Singasari, but they do not all belong to the same period. Durga slaying the buffalo demon, Ganesa seated on a throne of skulls, Shiva in his terrible form garlanded with skulls, corpulent sage Agastya with more of the high relief lotus flowers by his side are some of them.

The seer Trnavindu, probably mid fourteenth century, height 153 cm. the well fed brahmin sage who was one of the most renowned devotes of Shiva.


And the most famous Tamil commentator Nacchinarkiniyar of 14th century gives an interesting story about Tolkappianar.


In his commentary on the prefatory ode to Tolkappiam , called Paayiram that Agattiyanar/ Agastya asked his disciple Trnadhumagni/Tolkappian to escort the master’s wife , Lopaamudraa, from Vidharba to Podiya hill. He at the same time warned his disciple not to approach his wife nearer than the length of four rods. When Lopaamudraa and Trnaduumaagni had to cross the  Vaigai, the river was in flood, and fearing that she would be washed away by the river, he extended his walking stick to her and asked her to cling to it.  He thus disobeyed his master’s solemn injunctions , for in crossing the river, he was but one rod’s length from her.

The irate master when he heard of this exclaimed,

‘May you two not reach Svarga’.

The pupil in turn said, as you have cursed us for no fault of ours,

‘May you not reach svarga’.


Tamil fanatics could not digest the fact that their oldest author was a Brahmin with a Sanskrit name. Others pointed out that he was from the famous and ancient Kavya Gotra and so he was called Tolkaappian (Tol= ancient, Kaappiya= Kaavya). Even Lord Krishna in Bhagavad Gita called himself as Uchanas Kavi among the poets. (the word Kavi/poem, Kavyam/classical book etc are derived from the most ancient Rig Vedic poet Uchanas Kavi). And there are few Kavya Gotra poets in Sangam Tamil literature.

For Sanskritists the names Trna Dhumagni and Trna Bindhu were rare and unheard names. One Truna Bindhu is associated with the stories of a Rama temple in Mysore

But to my surprise both Agastya and Trna Bindhu are pictured in the book. We know that Agastya statues are found in different parts of Asia and they are same throughout South East Asia, India and Nepal. And his disciple also looks similar. So it must be true that Agastya has a disciple by name Trna Bindhu. The question that remains is “ Are Trnabindhu and Trna Dhumagni same?”

If it is proved same, then Nacchinarkiniyar has some truth in the story. Even if we find out that it cannot be same Agastya and  Lopamudra of Rig Veda, still the connection between Agastya and Trna Bindhu is confirmed by Javanese (Indonesian Island) inscriptions and statues.

The earliest literary mention of Agastya and the Pandya comes from Kalidasa of First /Second century BCE. So Agastya’s connection with the south is also confirmed. And his arrival from the Himalayas to the southern Pothiya Malai (Podiya Hill) is also indirectly referred to in Purananuru verse 2 by Mr Nagarajan  (Muranjiyur Mudinagarayar).

Here is the Kalidasa’s Raghuvamsam reference:-

“This king whose long pendant of pearls is dangling from his shoulders, and whose body is shining forth with the tinge of red sandalwood as that paste is smeared on his body, and who appears like a lordly mountain letting streams of rapids on its mountainsides, and with its peaks flooded with the morning sunlight, is the prince of pANDya kingdom… [6-60]


विन्ध्यस्य संस्तम्भयिता महाद्रेर्निःशेषपीतोज्झितसिन्धुराजः|
प्रीत्याश्वमेधावभृथार्द्रमूर्तेः सौस्नातिको यस्य भवत्यगस्त्यः॥ ६-६१

vindhyasya saṁstambhayitā mahādrerniḥśeṣapītojjhitasindhurājaḥ |

prītyāśvamedhāvabhṛthārdramūrteḥ sausnātiko yasya bhavatyagastyaḥ || 6-61

vindhyasya sa.nstambhayitA mahAdrerniHsheShapItojjhitasindhurAjaH |
prItyAshvamedhAvabhR^ithArdramUrteH sausnAtiko yasya bhavatyagastyaH || 6-61

vindhyasya sa.mstambhayitA mahA adreH niHsheSha pIta ujjhita sindhu rAjaH prItyA ashva medha avabhR^itha Ardra mUrteH sausnAtikaH yasya bhavati agastyaH

“Sage who stopped the upward growth of the great vindhya mountain, who quaffed off and spouted out entire ocean, that sage agastya will be the catechiser of this king when this pANDyan king’s body is still wet after the concluding sacred bath of ashvamedha ritual enquiring, ‘…have you performed the ceremony of ablution after Vedic-ritual ashvamedha properly….’ [6-61]


अस्त्रम् हरादाप्तवता दुरापम् येनेन्द्रलोकावजयाय दृप्तः|
पुरा जनस्थानविमर्दशङ्की संधाय लङ्काधिपतिः प्रतस्थे॥ ६-६२

astram harādāptavatā durāpam yenendralokāvajayāya dṛptaḥ|
purā janasthānavimardaśaṅkī saṁdhāya laṅkādhipatiḥ pratasthe || 6-62

astram harAdAptavatA durApam yenendralokAvajayAya dR^iptaH |
purA janasthAnavimardasha~NkI sa.ndhAya la~NkAdhipatiH pratasthe || 6-62

astra.m harAt AptavatA durApa.m yena indra loka apajayAya dR^iptaH purA janasthAna vimarda sha~Nkii sa.mdhAya la~Nka adhipatiH pratasthe

“No less than the haughty king of lanka, namely rAvaNa, had to make truce with these pANDyan kings as he feared the devastation of his stronghold called janasthAna at the hand of pANDya kings, because the pANDyan-s wielded a deadly missile called brahma-shiro-astra, obtained through the grace of god shiva… so, rAvaNa firstly made pact with them and then went to conquer indra’s heaven, because conquering heaven is nothing before conquering pANDyan empire…  [6-62]

From Sanskrit


These slokas throw amazing light on the Pandyas of the South:

1.Pandya’s connection with Agastya

2.Pandyan king Palyaga Salai Mudukudumi Peruvaluthi’s Asvamedha Yajna. (His coin with his name and Asva/horse is discovered)

3.Pandya Kingdom’s world-famous pearls (mentioned also by Valmiki and Kautilya and Roman sources)

4.Sandalwood Trees

5.Ravana’s Peace Agreement with the Pandyas (probably this is why Rama skipped Pandyas and sought the help of Vanarasena, i.e. the semi civilized tribes wearing monkey totems)


The Art of South East Asia, Philip Rawson, 1967

Arya Tarangini in two volumes, A Kalyanaraman, Asia Publishing House, London, 1970

History of the Tamils, P T Srinivasa Iyengar, Asian Educational Services, Delhi reprint 1989.


tags – Tolkappiar statue,Trunabindhu, Agastya, statues,Indonesia, Java

******subham *********

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