First Tamil Historian- Paranar

Paranar was a great Tamil poet during Sangam period. He was the first poet to record almost all the historical events that happened during his lifetime. Since he wrote all these things two thousand years ago he can be called First Tamil historian. He was paired with another great poet Kapilar. Kapilar stood first in the number of poems that he composed. He had 205 poems to his credit, the highest for any single poet of Sangam age. Paranar stood first in narrating the maximum number of historical anecdotes.

Paranar gave at least one anecdote in each of his 85 poems. He used similes for this or narrated the actual incidents. We wouldn’t have known much about ancient Tamil rulers without his narrations or similes. He was raised to the level of divine poets. Later day poet Nakkirar equated him with Agastya Rishi. Famous Chera King Senguttuvan even entrusted his son’s education to him. He sent his son Uthiyan Cheral along with Paranar for training in life.

Paranar described four famous battles of Tamilnadu at Venni, Vagai, Kudal and Pazi. He sang about the great Chola Kings Ilamchet Senni, Peruvirar Killi, Karikal Cholan ,  Chera kings Neduncheralathan, Cheran Senkuttuvan, the great philanthropists Ay, Anji, Kari, Ori, Pegan and minor chieftains/ leaders Ay Eyinan, Thazumpan, Mohur Pazaiyan,  Adimanthi, Attanathi, Perunalli,minjili, Akuthai, Aruvai, notorious Nannan, Panan, Thiththan, Veliyan, Katti, Porunan, Kanaiyan, Pasumput Pandian, Maththi, Kazuvul, Azisi,  Senthan, Manthram Poraiyan, Viran, Vichiyar Perumakan, Perumput Poraiyan, Vallan kizavan, Van Paranar, Velli Veethiyar and Maruthi. He had included over forty famous personalities of Ancient Tamilnadu in his list.

In addition to the for battles, he narrated how Senkuttuvan destroyed the sea pirates, how Pegan was rejoined with his separated wife, how Nannan sentenced a young girl to death for plucking a mango from his garden and how even birds came to help for a man who loved birds all his life.

(I have given in five articles about Paranar’s verses  on : Karikalan- fore runner of British Judges Wigs; Tamil Bird Man, where birds made an umbrella shelter for Ay Eyinan; Sea in Kalidasa and Tamil Literature, where Paranar’s geographical knowledge is highlighted; Kannakis burning of Madurai with a single breast; Tulabharam, where Nannan refused gold measure to measure and murdered the Tamil girl; Senkuttuvans destruction of sea pirates in Hindu Gods’ Daring Attacks against Sea Pirates etc.)

Paranar narrated a sad story where in Karikal Chola’s daughter Adi Manthi lost her husband Attanathi in the river Kaveri. She cried and cried and ran along the banks of the river looking for him. At last Attanathi was rescued but the rescuer Maruthu was washed away by the floods.

Paranar gave in full detail the Nannan-mango incident and chastised Nannan for sentencing the girl to death. Paranar looked like an anti war campaigner. He described the bad practises of Tamil community. All the defeated countries were set on fire. Their golden crowns were melted and made as foot stools. The kings made rope with the hair locks of wives of defeated kings. He also said that the blood flowed like a river where wars took place.


Another Sangam poet Mamulanar gave an account of a Mauryan invasion against Tamil kings. He described how they laid roads in the mountains (Akam 251,281). The Sangam age was confirmed because of this reference and other references to Roman trade.

Ilango, author of Tamil epic Silappadikaram, listed the kings who took part in the consecration event of Kannaki temple. One of the kings was Kayavahu of Sri Lanka. Seshagiri Sastri, Professor of Sanskrit, identified Kayavahu with Gajabahu I of Mahavamsa who ruled Sri Lanka between 113 A.D and 135 A.D. All the scholars have agreed with him. These lines served as the anchor for dating the Tamil history.

Though Silappadikaram was the most famous book among the five Tamil epics, there was no cross reference anywhere in Sangam literature except one indirect reference. Maruthan Ilanakan, who belongs to the later period of Tamil Sangam Age refers to a lady who lost her breast in Narrinai verse 216. Tamil scholars think that it was a reference to Kannakis burning of Madurai city by throwing her breast on it in anger.

Appar, Saivaite saint of seventh century referred to the poet Tarumi who won a purse of gold in Tamil Sangam. This reference gave credibility to the story of Tiruvilayadal Puranam and Tamil Sangam and the earlier Tsunamis that devoured first two Tamil Sangams (Tirupputtur Tiruthandakam hymns in Thevaram). Appar’s Thevaram hymns helped us to date Manikkavasakar and Adi Sankara. ( I have given the details in my Tamil article– Dating Adi Sankara through Tamil literature).

Paranar praised Karikal Chola’s victory in the Battle field of Venni in Akam. Verse 246. He defeated famous Tamil Kings along with 11 Velir chiefs and destroyed their war drums. In another poem (akam. 125) Paranar narrated what happened at the battle field of Vagai. Karikalan defeated the famous kings and their nine umbrellas were destroyed.

Let us salute the great Tamil historians!


Karnataka- Indus Valley Connection

Sangam Tamil poets composed over 2000 poems. Purananuru is an encyclopaedia of Tamil culture. It has got less than 400 verses. Purananuru verse 201 was composed by Kapilar two thousand years ago. This is a very important verse in Purananuru. It throws much light on early Indian History. Kapilar talks about 49th generation of Irungovel. Famous Tamil Commentator Nachinarkiniyar , who lived several hundred years ago, gave a very interesting story about this verse.

(49th generation: Please read my article How Old is India?)


Nachinarkiniyar said that Agastya brought 12 tribes from Dwaraka ruled by Lord Krishna. Another city in the name of Dwaraka was founded in Karnataka (Mysore) state in the twelfth century. There is an interesting story about how and who founded this city. Hoychalas were the kings who ruled from this city. Hoychala is translated into Tamil as Pulikadimal which is found in verse 201.

Chala was a king belonging to Yadu dynasty. While he was hunting in the Western Ghats, he saw a hare heroically fighting with a tiger. This made him to think that this place must have some special importance. When he followed the fighting tiger and hare, an ascetic who was doing penance ordered king Chala to kill the tiger. The ascetic’s order in Sanskrit was “Hatham Hoy Chala”. So from that day on wards the king and his descendants were called Hoychalas. If the verse 201 refers to this anecdote then it must have happened 2000 years ago.


The story was found in the inscription belonging to Narasimha Hoychala found in Pelavadi in Belur area of Karnataka. Only the detail about the hare is missing in it. But the name of the city mentioned in the inscription was Sasakapuram. In Sanskrit Sasanka is hare. When the area under Sasakapuram was given to King Chala, the goddess belonging to Sasakapuram “Vasanthika” came in the form of a tiger. When the king killed the tiger he became Hoychala. This was confirmed in the Arisikare inscription of Veera Vallala Deva.

Another interesting co incidence is we see tiger goddess in Indus Valley Seals as well. A seal with Half woman Half tiger was discovered. Some people think it may be Proto Durga. Durga was shown riding tiger or lion in later day iconography. She was shown as a forest deity with plants on her head or in her surroundings. Indus Valley has several  female deities. In one of the seals we see seven women dance hand in hand. Sapta matha (Seven sisters or seven women) is found in Hindu scriptures. Seven women dancing together is known as Kuavai Kuthu in Tamil. Seven is a sacred number in Hinduism. But the tiger goddess comes very close to Vasanthika story in Hoychala inscription.

(Also read my article Karnataka-Cambodia connection in Sahasralingam statues)




(This is the sixth part in my series, which is part of my research thesis, to show that Kalidasa lived before the Sangam Tamil age i.e. around 1st century BC. Tamil poets who lived during the first three centuries of modern era used a lot of his similes and images. If it is just five or ten similarities any one can dismiss them as co incidences or pan Indian approach. But I have 260 titles under which we see more than a thousand Tamil usages. Kalidasa was the most famous poet when it comes to similes. He used more than one thousand similes. It is not the sheer number that gives Kalidasa a great name, it is the way he used these thousand + similes. He used the apt similes in his works. No one has excelled him in the use of similes in any part of the word literature until today)



Indians have noticed natural phenomena and wondered about them for ages. Thousands of rivers pour water in to the sea for thousands of years and yet it has never filled and crossed its limits. The rain clouds take the water from the sea and pour it down around the world and yet the sea has not gone dry. This wonderful balancing struck their mind. Kalidasa used this simile in an apt place. Others followed him.


Kaliadasa praised Lord Rama’s sons Kusa and Lava for all the good work they did for the people and said that they remained within their respective geographical boundaries like the ocean that never crossed its boundaries though the rivers poured water in to it (Raghuvamsam 16-2).


Tamil poet Paranar said the same thing when he sang that the sea neither shrinks because the clouds drink its waters, nor swells because the rivers flow in to it. (Pathitruppathu 45)

When the commentators wrote commentary to the Bhagavad Gita sloka 2-70 (Apuryamanam Achalaprathishtam samudra apa pravisanthi yathvathh——-), they also mentioned this fact of sea never crossing its limits.


Sea is used as a simile to express anything that is vast, big and huge. Kalidasa compared it to the vast powers of a king (Ragu 1-16), vast education (Ragu.3-28,30), big army (Ragu 7-54), powers of Ravana (Ragu 10-34),Knowledge (Ragu 18-4) and sea as a source of gems (Ragu 15-1, 15-55).


Tamil poets also used these similes in several places:

Love or amorous feelings and huge armies are compared to the sea. Ammuvan (Ainkuru.184; Akam 215;Puram 37,42,96,197,351,377) and Tiruvalluvar used this simile. Love as vast as sea says Valluvar (Kural 1137). His friendship is bigger than the sea says another poet (Nar.166, Akam 128), Kalidasa has sung about it in Raguvamsam when he described the great love of Rama towards Sita. (Ragu 12-66)

Tamil poets also used sea of tears, sea of army (Madu.180,Akam.204, Puram 42, Pathi.69).

The heroine feels that her love is so powerful and influential that it overcomes her self-control like the great floods in Ganges that over flows its banks and smashes the dams in its course in Narrinai 369 sung by Nal Vellaiayar.

This is nothing but an echo of Kumarasambhavam slokam 8-16: Just as the bride loved the bridegroom worthy of her, so too did he love her. For the Ganges does not leave the ocean, and the ocean too, finds the greatest delight in tasting her mouth. Unless this Kalidasa’s sloka influenced a Tamil poet he wouldn’t suddenly talked about the Himalayas and Ganges for the amorous feeling of a Tamil woman.



Saku. II-10 (bound by ocean),III-19 (sea clad earth), Ragu.3-9 (sea clothed earth),9-10 (Udhathi nemim medhinim),11-86,12-66,15-1 (Ratnakara mekalam prithvim) 15-83(Samudra rasana vasundhara),18-22

Tamil: Puram.19-1 (Kutapulaviyanar), Kuru.101(Pathumanar),300 (Siraikudi Anthaiyar)

Indians knew very well that the earth was round and their verses about earth in Tamil and Sanskrit literature mentions the round shape of the earth.

Puram. 362 (Siru Venteraiyar) describes the sea clad earth.

Restless sea- ain.172,107,Kuru.163


SAMSARA SAGARAM (Sea of birth and death)

Ragu 12-60 (maruti: sagaram thirna:, samsaramiva nirmama:);Kalidasa said that Anjaneya crossed the ocean as the ascetics crossed the ocean of Samsaram.

Bhagavad Gita about Samsara Sagaram :12-7

Tiru Valluvar who lived around fifth century AD echoed it in his Kural 10: None but those who have meditated constantly on the feet of God can cross the ocean of births.



Hindus believed that there is fire under the ocean. Now it is scientifically proved that there are lot of sub marine volcanoes under the sea. They constantly throw out tons of red hot earth. People who have watched (in TV Channels about Nature) volcanoes in Hawai (USA) and Iceland know very well about it.

Saku.III-3, Ragu 9-82,11-75,13-4,13-7 (sub marine fire)

Siva’s fiery wrath must still burn in you

Like fire smouldering deep in the ocean’s depths (Shaku.iii-3)

When Dasaratha killed the son of an ascetic by mistake during hunting, the ascetic cursed that Dasaratha sould also die due to agony on account of his son. This curse remained in his mind like submarine fire called Vatavagni (Ragu9-82)


Tamil References

Tamil :Kuru.373 (Kollan Pullan), Nar.201,, 289, Pathitru. 62 (Kapilar),72-8 (Arisil kizar), Puram.34-5,,Kali-105 (Naluruthiran).

Kapilar compared the Chera king Selakadunko Vaziyathan to “Vatamukagni”-horse shaped sub marine fire- that destroy the world (Pathiru.62); Arisil Kizar praised Peruncheral Irumporai in the same way (Pathr.72); Also Kali. 105 Nalluruththiran.

There is no need to say that the belief in sub marine fire came to south from the Sanskrit literature. Since the Brahmin poets Kapilar and Paranar used lot of similes or images from Kalidasa, we may conclude this Vatamukagni ( In Tamil Matangal, Vatavai or Uzi thee) also came from Kalidasa.

There are references to earth quakes which are always associated with the Armageddon in Tamil literature (Nar.201, 289; Kuru.373; Puram.34-4).


  1. மழைகொளக் குறையாது புனல் புக நிறையாது

விலங்கு வளி கடவும் துளங்கிருங் கமஞ்சூள் (பதிற்றுப் பத்து 45)

  1. ஐங்குறு.184 (அம்மூவன்): கடலினும் பெரிது அவருடைய (காதல்) நட்பு

ரகுவம்சம் 12-66ல் இதே கருத்து உள்ளது. சீதை மீது கொண்ட காதலால் கடலே அகழி ஆனது என்ற ஸ்லோகத்துக்கு கடலை விட பெரிய காதல் என்று உரைகாரர்கள் எழுதியுள்ளனர்.


இமயமலையிலிருந்து வரும் கங்கை நதி கரைககளை உடைத்துச் செல்வது போல காம வெள்ளம் பாய்வதகவும் நீந்த முடியாமல் தவிப்பதாகவும் மதுரை ஓலைக் கடையத்தார் நல் வெள்ளையார் பாடுகிறார்.(நற். 369)

ஞெமை ஓங்கு உயர்வரை இமயத்து உச்சி

வா அன் இழி தரும் வயங்கு வெள் அருவி

கங்கையம் பேர்யாற்றுக் கரையிறந்திழிதரும்

சிறையடு கடும் புனல் அன்னவென்

நிறையடு காமம் நீந்துமாறே (நற். 369)


இருங்கடல் உடுத்த இப் பெருங் கண் மாநிலம்

உடையிலை நடுவனது இடை பிறர்க்கு இன்றி

தாமே ஆண்ட ஏமங் காவலர்

இடுதிரை மணலினும் பலரே: (புறம் 363,சிறு வெண்டேரையார்)

மருள் தீர்ந்து, மயக்கு ஒரீஇக்

கை பெய்த நீர் கடல் பரப்ப (புறம்.362,

சிறு வெண்டேரையார் )


(அந்தணர்க்கு அவன் ஈத்து வார்த்த நீர் கடல் போல இருக்கும்)


Tirukkural  திருக்குறள்

பிறவிப் பெருங்கடல் நீந்துவார் நீந்தார்

இறைவன் அடி சேராதார் –(குறள் 10)


கடலன்ன காமம் (குறள் 1137)





Hindu Goddess’ march to Denmark !

Picture shows Gundestrup cauldron with Gajalakshmi

(This is the fifth part in my thesis to prove that Kalidasa lived before Sangam Tamil period. Kalidasa’s date was around 1st century BC. Tamil poets have used a lot from his 1000+ similes in various places. For some of these we may find a common source. But a lot of similes and idioms and phrases show beyond any shadow of doubt that they knew Kalidasa’s works and they deliberately used them in Sangam Tamil poems. Art Historian Sri C Sivaramamurti and others used different methods to arrive at the same date of first century BC. Sivaramamurti showed how Junagadh Rudradaman inscription of second century AD had echoed Kalidasa’s poems)

Lakshmi is praised by various Tamil and Sanskrit poets from Vedic days. They used the words THIRU (Tamil) and SRI (in Sanskrit) to mean wealth as well as Goddess Laksmi. Goddess Lakshmi is in charge of wealth. There are innumerable references to the goddess in Tamil and Sanskrit works. But the interesting form of Lakshmi  is GAJA LAKSHMI(Gaja in Sanskrit means elephant). Goddess Lakshmi seated on a lotus flower and two elephants on either side pouring water on her is known as Gaja Lakshmi. This particular aspect of Lakshmi is considered very auspicious. In India, particularly in Chettinadu of Tamil Nadu, palatial houses have Teak doors with the wooden figures of Gajalakshmi till this day.

Gajalakshmi’s figures have travelled from the Himalayas to the southern most part of Sri Lanka. It is in the form of old coins, lamps, wooden figures, idols and stone sculptures. It has travelled from India to Denmark !! We have Gajalakshmi figure carved in to Gundestrup silver Cauldron. Now it is in Copenhagen. When they dug up a marshy area in Jutland , Denmark in 1891 they recovered a big silver vessel which is dated to second century BC. A very interesting fact about this vessel is that there is a god surrounded by animals like we see in the Indus valley seal (For more details please read my article Vishnu in Indus Valley Seal)

The earliest reference to Gajalakshmi is in Sri Suktam of the Vedas:

“Laksmir –divyair-gajendrair-manigana-kasithai: snabitha hemakumbhair nithyam sa pathma hastha”

(Holding a lotus in hand she is bathed by water from the gem studded golden pot by the celestial elephants)

Later Valmiki, Kalidasa and Sangam Tamil poets described the goddess in detail. We get lot of materials with the figure in coins, sculptures, idols etc. from second century BC onwards .The Bharhut sculptures show a beautiful Gajalakshmi which is in Kolkatta museum at present.  Ellora, Mahabalipuram cave temples also have got these sculptures.

Gajalakshmi coins are in plenty belonging to different dynasties of different periods. The oldest coin was issued by an Indo Greek king Azilises of North West India in first century BC. Later kings of Kosambi and Mathura Bijaasata Mitra and Visaka Deva respectively issued coins with Gajlakshmi. In Sri Lanka we find Gajalakshmi on the coins of 1st century AD. The coins were recovered from Anuradhapuram,Kantharodai , Manthottam in Sri Lanka and Karur of Tamil Nadu..

Buddhists and Jains “worshipped”

Not only Hindus but also the Jains and Buddhists respected or probably worshipped Gajalakshmi. The Buddhist kings of Sri Lanka issued such coins. Bharhut sculpture of Gakjalakshmi is another proof for it. Jain Tirthankar Mahavir’s mother Trishala had a dream of 14 auspicious signs before the birth of Mahavir. The fourth dream was of Gajalakshmi.

Michael Michener read a paper at a seminar in British Museum, London where he listed all the old kings who issued coins of Gajalakshmi. The list includes coins of Indo Greek king Azilesas, Mathura King Raju vula , Andhra King Shrive Satakarni(1st century) ,Jayanagar (8th century AD) and Nayak Kings of Tamil Nadu.

In the 2000 year old Sangam literature, we have references in the books:

Nedunal vaatai .88-89 and Kalitokai 44-8.

Madurai Kanchi of Mankudi Maruthan 353

Kapilar being a Brahmin well versed in Sanskrit used lot of Kalidasa’s similes and expressions. In Kalitokai, Kurinji Kali 44-8 he described Gajalakshmi.

Another Brahimn poet Nakkirar, who would have read all Kalidasa in Sanskrit used a lot of Kalidasa’s works on Muruga (Lord Skanda) in his Tirumurukatruppatai and Lakshmi in Nedunalvatai.

“Have massive door posts daubed with ghee and white mustard

And held by a stout lintel named after Uttara star,

Where on are carved the figures of Goddess Lakshmi,

With the elephants holding water lilies on either side

And fitted with double doors, iron clamped….. (Nedu88-89)

(Nachinarkiniyar interpreted these lines as Gajalakshmi. English translation is based on his commentary. Arthasastra also advised kings to install such figures in the fort doors)

In Sivaka Sinthamani (2595), we see the same picture.

In Kalidasa we have references to Gajalakshmi in the books:

Raghuvamsa 12-93: Kalidasa was describing the battle between Rama and Ravana with beautiful similes in every sloka/couplet. The commentators struggled to comment on this sloka because they did not know what he was using as simile. They guessed that a wooden plank with wheels was used when two elephants clashed in the battle field. But anyone who reads it can easily see he used Jayalakshmi (goddess of victory) in between two elephants to mean Galjalakshmi .

In Meghadutam 79, Kalidasa described the lotus and conch (Sangha Nidhi and Padhma Nidhi) pictures drawn on the doors. They are considered two of the nine treasures of Kubera. Saivite saint Appar also mentioned these treasures of Kubera in his Thevaram hymns.

Arthasastram of Kautilya (second century BC) listed several gods and goddesses to be installed in the forts and Gajalakshmi was one of them

Tamil References:

குறிஞ்சிக் கலி

வரிநுதல் எழில் வேழம் பூநீர் மேல் சொரிதரப்,

புரிநெகிழ் தாமரை மலரங்கண் வீறு எய்தித்,

திரு நயந்து இருந்தன்ன தேங்கமழ் விறல் வெற்ப! (கலி.44-8-5/7)

மதுரைக் காஞ்சி

விண் உற ஓங்கிய பல் படைப் புரிசை

தொல் வலி நிலை இய அணங்குடை நெடி நிலை(352-353)


ஐயவி அப்பிய நெய் அணி நெடு நிலை

வென்று எழு கொடியொடு வேழம் சென்று புக

குன்று குயின்றன்ன ஓங்கு நிலை வாயில்

திருநிலை பெற்ற தீது தீர் சிறப்பின் (86-89)

அப்பர் தேவாரம்

சங்க நிதி பதும நிதி இரண்டும் தந்து

தரணியொடு வானாளத் தருவரேனும்

மங்குவார் அவர் செல்வம் மதிப்போம் அல்லோம்

மாதேவர்க்கு ஏகாந்தர் அல்லார் ஆகில் (அப்பர் 6-346)


  1. The Gundestrup Cauldron by Timothy Tailor-Scientific American, March 1992
  2. Ancient coins of India by A. Cunningham (pages 74,86,92 and 100)
  3. Foreign influence on Ancient Sri Lankan Coinage by Jayasinghe-1997
  4. Lakshmi bathed by elephants on ancient Indian coins by Michael Michener-seminar in British Museum-2-12-2000