1 Padirrupaattu, Poem 24, 11. 6 to 8. 2 Porul, Sutra,75.

1 Canto XXIII, 11. 62 to 80.

2 See Arthasastra.

3 Canto XIII.

The Pre-Buddhistic Character of Brahmanism in the Tamil Country.

We have already referred to the Brahmanical tradition concerning the coming into the south of Agastya. Buddhist tradition has altogether a different version of the coming of Agastya into the Tamil country. According to the Akitta Jataka which relates to a Brahman magnate's son and daughter who renounced their vast wealth and settled down near the banks of the Ganges some leagues farther down from Benares, Agastya the brother remained in the new settlement for some time. Finding that even in the forest people came to him in large numbers he left the place unknown to his sister and travelled through the Tamil country (kingdom of Damila), and took up his abode in a park in Kaveripattana (the capital of the Cholas at the mouth of the Kaveri). Even there he was not left in the isolation he desired; he therefore flew across to an island called Kara set over against the island of the Nagas. This Karadipa was also called Ahi-dipa or the isle of snakes. In the island and in the rock-cell hermitage which he took up for his residence he could find nothing to eat except the leaves of the kara tree (Canithium Parvi-florum) that grew there which he used to wet in the water and boil and eat without salt or spices. When in that condition, Indra came in the guise of a Brahman to beg for alms. Akitta gave the prepared food each time Indra appeared, himself not taking any. It is to exhibit the merit of this gift that Buddha is said to have related the story on a particular occasion Akitta is generally taken to stand for Agastya, but there is so little common between the Brahmanical tradition concerning Agastya and this story that the identification itself would seem not to have very much to support it excepting the name. But the Buddhistic work Manimekhalai has certain references to Agastya. He carried the water that flowed afterwards as the Kaveri, in his water vessel (kamandala), and 7 at the request of a Chola king Kandama, he let the water flow as the river Kaveri This king at one time was afraid of the coming of Para-surama, and sought asylum of Agastya having entrusted the kingdom to his illegitimate son Kakanda. Agastya gave him the asylum on that occasion. Another Chola king whose name is not specifically given was advised by Agastya to celebrate the annual festival to Indra which lasted for 28 days, during which period all the Devas even left their abodes and were resident in Kaveripattanam. The Chola capital Kaveripattanam had the name Champa because Champa-Pati, the goddess of Jambudvipa,made it her place of residence. When the Kaveri began to flow through that town the name was altered.1 In either of these two cases the connection of Agastya is with the Chola country and the river Kaveri. But the Manimekhalai refers to Agastya as "the ascetic of rare austerity of the Malaya (mountain),"2 making it clear that he is referring to Agastya of the Brahmanical tradition associated with Malaya or Podiyil hill in the southern part of the Western Ghats. The tradition connecting Agastya with the south therefore seems to be an accredited tradition of long standing; and his coming into this part of the country is symbolical of the breaking in of Aryan civilisation into the Tamil land. It would therefore seem inferable that the Brahmanism such as was prevalent in the Tamil country must be Brahmanism of pre-Buddhistic character. That it was so is in evidence in the importance that is invariably attached to the position of the Brahman as the conductor of the sacrifices intended for the good of the community as a whole.

1 Canto XIII, 11. 29-38,

1 Manimekhalai, Padikam (prologue). 2 Canto I, 1. 3.

That this was the character of Brahmanism in the Tamil country is clear from a poem included in the collection Purananuru. It is a poem by Mulam-Kilar of Avur in celebration of the learning and character of the Brahman Kauniyan Vinnam-Tayan of Pum-Sa rur in Sonadu (Chola country). The first part of the passage refers to his being a descendant of a family of learned men who made it their life occupation to study by means of the six auxiliary sciences {angas), the four Vedas whose one object was truth, and which was perpetually in the tongue of Siva himself. This great learning was attained by them in order that they may be enabled thereby to beat down all those outer religions which base themselves on works which set themselves against the Veda. Having acquired this learning they understood the false teachings of those religions which appeared like truths, and exhibiting their false character established the truth of the Vedic religion by celebrating sacrifices in the twenty-one1 orthodox ways. "Coming of such a family you wear a bit of deer skin in the thread lying across the body adorning your shoulders. Your wives constant in their chastity, wearing the jewel specifically assigned to wives of those that celebrate sacrifices, and possessed of personal charms conduct themselves in full accordance with your station. They carry out your commands by making ghee flow like water by tending the several kinds of cows whether you lived in forest or in country. With their assistance, having celebrated innumerable sacrifices and spread your fame over the whole earth, you shine by feeding largely at the end of the sacrifices those that attended. May we have the good fortune to see this exalted position of yours for ever. Let me go back to the place full of the gardens on either side of the Kaveri which brings in freshes as soon as it thunders on the Western Ghats, and thus fosters the earth. I shall enjoy your vast gifts by eating that which ought to be eaten, and riding that which ought to be ridden, and thus celebrate your liberality. You remain on earth where you are, firm as the Himalayas with high sloping sides, making like the Himalayas themselves unfailing rain." This poem is intended to celebrate the excellence in Brahmanical accomplishments and is therefore specifically intended to give an idea as to what exactly a Brahman's learning and conduct were expected to be in those times. The poet who celebrates the Brahman in this wise is, as the title indicates, not a Brahman himself, and the character that he gives to the orthodox Brahman here is supported in full by the corresponding sutras of the Tolkappiyam. The commentators of the Sutras quote this poem as the illustration par excellence. It is not the Brahman alone that comes in for praise for his faithful performance of sacrifices. One of the earliest known Pandyan kings is known to fame as one that celebrated many sacrifices. The poet Nettimai-yar asks the question whether the sacrificial posts he planted after celebrating various sacrifices are in larger numbers, or those enemies that live in disgrace, having been defeated and turned back by his valour.1 A later Pandya grant known as the Velvik-kudi grant refers to a gift by this Pandyan of the village, the title to which was established by satisfactory proof.2 A Chola contemporary of the poetess Avvaiyar is known by the name "The Great Chola who celebrated the Rajasuya."3