Rajendra Chola Promoted Saivism, Buddhism in Lanka, Says Scholar

It was during the reign of Rajendra Chola (1014 to 1044 AD) that Chola power in Sri Lanka was “at its height”, says S Pathmanathan, noted Lankan historian.

Speaking to Express in the context of the celebration of the millennial year of Rajendra Chola’s coronation, Pathmanathan said that the Tamil monarch ruled over Lanka’s Northern, Eastern and North Central provinces and raided the southeast and southwest. In 1017 AD, Mahinda V, the king of the South Eastern region of Ruhuna, was taken prisoner and lodged in Tamil Nadu for 12 years.

Chola hegemony over Lanka, established by Rajaraja Chola (Rajendra’s father) in 993 AD, lasted till 1077 AD, a good eight decades. “But it was during Rajendra’s reign that Chola power in Lanka got consolidated and reached its height,” he said.

“In Chola records, Lanka figures as Mummudicholamandalam. It was administered by officials from India. Rajendra began the practice of appointing Chola governors for Lanka and the title they bore was Chozha Ilankeeswara Theevar. Polonnaruwa, in the North Central Province, which the Chola’s called Jananathamangalam, was the seat of power. Other Cholan centres of power were Mantai (North West); Padaviya and Trincomalee (East) and Medirigiriya (North Central),” he added.

The administration was in the hands of Tamils. Tamil merchant groups like the ‘Thisai Ayiratthi Ainooravar’ (also known as Nanadesi) and ‘Nagaraththaar’ were powerful. The Thisai Ayiraththi Ainooravar also supplied troops which were divided into two units — Perumpadai and Angakkaarar.

The Cholas gave a boost to Saivism. Siva temples were built at  Mantai (Rajaraja Iswaram), Padaviya (Ravikula Manikeswaram), Atakada (Uttama Chozha Iswaram), and at Medirigirya (Panditha Chozha Iswaram). The oldest is a Siva temple at Polonnaruwa. Buddhism was not neglected. “Buddhist officials and soldiers in the service of the Cholas contributed to Buddhist institutions,” Pathmanathan said.
(The New Indian Express)

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