This section is from the book "Some Contributions Of South India To Indian Culture", by S. Krishnaswami Aiyangar. Also available from Amazon: Some Contributions of South India to Indian Culture.
1 This is also interpreted as the 21 methods of logic, or the 21 ways of interpretation.
A great Chera - the younger brother of the "Chera of the Himalayan boundary " and uncle of the Red-Chera celebrated ten sacrifices and gave heaven itself to the Brahman Palai Gautama 1 and his wife.
1 Purananuru, Poem 16, pp. 17-21. 2 Epi. Rep., 1908, Sec. 20 (Madras). 3 Ibid, poem 367 by Avvaiyar.
Thus we see that Tamil kings had adopted the practice of getting sacrifices celebrated -the peculiar function of the Brahmana according to the accepted canon of law of the Tamil land.
This is not altogether the only detail of pre-Buddhistic Brahmanism which we find in these Tamil classics. There are clear indications of the kind of theism which could be generally described as Bhakti where people could devote themselves to the service of the god of their heart with the assurance of salvation. Four such sections find prominent mention according to the peculiar form of god to which people composing these sections devoted themselves. Four such gods get mention in a poem by Narkirar,2 an early and a very prominent poet of the Sangam. Celebrating his contemporary Pandyan, he points to the special qualities in which he resembled each one of the four "world-protecting gods." These are according to him respectively Siva of the "dark-throat," Baladeva of "white colour" with the plough for his weapon, Krishna of the deep-blue colour with flag of the bird (Garuda) and Subrahmanya (the Red-One) of the "Pea-cock carrier." Of these the Pandya addressed resembled in anger Death himself, in strength Baladeva, in fame Krishna or Vishnu, in determination in carrv-ing out his wishes Subrahmanya. It must be noted that Siva described circumstantially in the first part is equated with Death in the second, as Rudra is specifically associated in the 'Trinity with destruction. Almost the same four are found mentioned as the guardians of the different kinds of land in the Tolkappiyam. The forest country is under the special protection of Krishna or Vishnu, the hill country under Subrahmanya, the cultivated country under the protection of Indra and the coast country under the protection of Varuna. Here the two Indra and Varuna come in in place of the two Siva and Baladeva. It is hardly necessary to describe the possible significance of these discrepancies, hut it seems to imply the recognition of the six as distinct entities rather than postulating the non-existence of any two. Describing the temples that were in existence in Kaverippattanam, the author of the Silappadhikaram,1 refers to a temple of Siva, to one of Subrahmanya, to one of Baladeva and to one of Vishnu or Krishna in the order stated, followed by the temple of Indra the festival to whom the canto actually describes.2
1 Paddirruppattu- "Ten-tens," section 2.
2 Puram., 56.
1 Canto V, 11. 169-175.
2 Compare the deities invoked in the Nanaghat Inscription of the Satavahana Queen Naganiks; No. 1112. Luder's list of Brahmi Inscriptions, Ep. Ind., X.
This is summarised in the companion work Manimekhalai by the statement that temples beginning with that of Siva with an eye in the centre of his face, and ending with that of the guardian-deity of the public square (Bhuta of the Chatushka) "should all be tidied for the coming festival."1 Much the same idea is found expressed in 11. 453-9 of the poem Madurak-Kanji by the poet Mangudi Marudan.
We therefore seem warranted in inferring that the Brahmanism that prevailed in the Tamil country was in character pre-Buddhistic, and had for one of its specific objects an exhibition of the heretical character of the sister religions, Buddhism and Jainism. This gives a certain controversial character to it which is not altogether strange having regard to the character of both Buddhism and Jainism. This body of literature exhibits the existence of these religions side by side with Brahmanism, having attained to a certain amount of organisation for effective controversy.