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Archive for February, 2013

Peruvudaiyarkoil (The Big Temple at Thanjavur)

I along with my two friends visited the PERIYA KOIL (BIG TEMPLE) at Thanjavur, last Saturday. I was amazed at the magnificence of the temple and even more amazed that Raja Raja Sozhan the Great (henceforth I declare him ‘GREAT’) did complete the temple in a span of 6-7 years; did pay for the labour employed towards building the temple; had engraved in old Thamizh, his land administration, revenue collection and the like.

The entrance of the temple is smaller compared to the temple spire and edifice. On top of the temple spire sits the granite dome of 80 tonnes of carved granite. The temple is stated to have been completed in 1010- a full thousand years back. The millennium celebrations have been completed and it was told that a thousand bharatanatyam dancers participated in the inner court meant for such dance performances.

The nandi- overlooking the temple entrance with his tongue licking the space between his nostrils gives the self assured bull the presence of his omnipotent master. The deity is a Lingum (Tamizh and not a singular for Linga!) called ‘PERUDAYAR’ and is said to be the LARGEST LINGUM in any Shivite temple in the world and the overlooking NANDI is the second largest, next only to the Nandi at the LEPAKSHI TEMPLE in Anantapur Dist of Andhra Pradesh. This Nandi is cut from a monolithic block of granite and polished to perfection.

The granite dome (not hollow) is supposed to weigh 80 tonnes, and was whispered into my ears by my guide K.T.Raja, saying that such a heavy stone was place because that weight is the ONLY binding force, which holds the various terraces of the spire of the temple in place. Quite understandable – at 216 feet, to have withstood the wind, storms and other natural events!

The lay-out of the temple is amazing, with the entrance, the nandi and the temple door all in alignment. The running corridor of deities, abutting the compound wall of the temple stay as sentinels to the supreme deity. Somehow, I could not digest the fact that two smaller shrine like temples have been built by the Nayak Dynasty and the Marathas to the left and right of the imposing temple structure. Even the Temple’s name PERUVUDAYAR KOIL, had been Sanskritized by the Marathas, who were probably not finding it mentally easy to accept that a Thamizh Sozha king had built such an imposing structure in the beginning of the eleventh century, more particularly as the structure had survived even inimical dynasties! Their contribution besides building those puny shrines next to the PERIYA KOIL,  is renaming the temple as BRAHADEESWARAR TEMPLE! This sounds more like naming CURZON ROAD (Lord Curzon was responsible for shifting the capital from Calcutta to Delhi) to KASTURBA GANDHI MARG from the India Gate round-about in New Delhi!

I believe, if one wants to adulate an idea or a God or a Goddess, one should foremost of all, be original and not attempt to bask in such associated glory. The small mindedness of the Nayaks and the Marathas is fully evident in those additions. Further, those puny structures have spoilt the Architectural GRANDEUR of the PERIYA KOIL. Nevertheless, these acts of outsiders have not deducted the grandeur in scale or the hoary history of the Sozha King RAJA RAJA SOZHA.

The greatness of Raja Raja Sozha is that the administrative procedures and the land revenue collection methods have all been engraved on the base of the temple walls- which serve as the historical remains of his administration.

No FORCED LABOUR had been employed and the temple had been built by paying fair wages -as was prevalent then- to workers, artisans and sculptors, unlike the PYRAMIDS of Egypt! That showed RAJA RAJA SOZHA’S GREATNESS and the tax collected as land revenue was 10% of the produce- which is the most rational tax structure ever imposed on one’s subjects .

RAJA RAJA THE GREAT, shall remain and many generations later be discovered as the GREATEST KING INDIA had ever produced- as unlike Ashoka, Raja Raja Sozha never had to kill his brothers to get the kingdom; unlike Chandra Gupta Maurya RAJA RAJA SOZHA did not have to beg a foreigner like Selucus Nikator’s armed help;and unlike Harsha Vardhana, did not have to savour a battle defeat at the hands of the Chalukyan Pulikesin II and finally, unlike Akbar, RAJA RAJA SOZHA did not have the foreign blood of Uzbegi Babur- but all THAMIZH , therefore TRULY INDIAN!

Mostly, he had consolidated his kingdom within the first 20 years and within the last 6-7 years had completed the PERIYA KOIL, and in the last 2 years had made his son RAJENDRA SOZHA his successor, who went on to capture kingdoms beyond the Indian sub-continent and made Khmer, Thailand, Burma, Vietnam, Indonesia, Java and Sumatra vassal states to the Sozhas! I cannot accept that there was a king greater than RAJA RAJA SOZHA! EVER!







The idea is that the purpose of all education is not merely to REASON CORRECTLY, but also to decide on issues JUSTLY. But what kind of meaning do we posit for JUST? JUST is being not only fair in the circumstances, but also scope for change in the future decision making when circumstances have changed. For example, a JUST DECISION in a given set of circumstances might have been followed for a long time, therefore should we freeze it and make it the NORM or leave enough SCOPE to review the changed circumstances and then find a new JUST solution?


I am reminded of the question asked by my friend: What are the THREE criteria, while choosing a place for setting up one’s home? And while I was still struggling to prioritize my preferences, my friend said first is LOCATION, so tell me the next 2. I was cogitating to match his expectations, as i had not read anything on that topic, he said: LOCATION and LOCATION.

So likewise, the answer as to whether one ahould leave scope for future generations to review a JUST SOLUTION which has become rancid- the answer is YES, YES and YES!

If one reads the British Legislative principles, there is one principle which though does not egregiously stand out still lies as a bedrock for all future Legislation. That is NO PRESENT LEGISLATION SHALL BIND OR CURB THE POWER OF THE FUTURE PARLIAMENT TO CHANGE THE LAWS MADE IN THE PRESENT. In effect it is that principle which says that LAWS are not to be treated as the LAWS OF THE MEDES AND PARSEES, they have to be DYNAMIC.

At the same time, if the laws could be changed at will by every succeeding parliament or assembly, the laws would lose all CERTAINTY and we would be left with STRANDS of LAWS instead of a well woven FABRIC of LAWS! That is where the Indian Constitution comes with the FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS- because all Legislation is made for MAN by MEN. The first is an individual and the second is MEN who have been empowered through the process of election to represent them in debating issues and legislating on behalf of each MAN.

So with this system in place the laws have been made with certainty so that men could be at peace with themselves and others without anxiously, running around everyday trying to discover how the laws have changed the next morning.

So in this conflict of identifying the laws which work injustice and the remedy sought through the courts (High courts and the Supreme court of India), many arguments are forwarded to destabilize the existing laws. An individual may seek a relief against the implementation of a particular law and then a whole  host of people follow suit to make that the passage for pushing through their AGENDA.

It is in this context that Montaigne’s statement gains relevance- EDUCATION SHOULD BE USED TO REASON CORRECTLY, JUSTLY and DYNAMISM should not be lost. Otherwise, law will become like C. Rajagopalachari’s KULA VAZHI KALVI, which would have reinforced the caste based traditional vocational training  with no recourse to personal enterprise and outlets for individual proclivity!

Laws should be CERTAIN, but at the same time JUST & DYNAMIC. For a person to judge the JUST part EDUCATION forms the backbone. Economic development does not guarantee EDUCATIONAL DEVELOPMENT- if one were to go by the UNDP report on HDI of India one could see this with reference of the State of Andhra Pradesh- a state which is economically above national average, but Literacy wise below the national average! Likewise Kerala which tops the Human Development Index, still lags behind in WORK INITIATIVE, LETTING GO OF THE LAND FOR HIGHER PRODUCTIVITY etc.

EDUCATION is the backbone of any country- not merely the working knowledge, but an understanding of the LIBERAL ARTS and SCIENCES coupled with untrammeled human initiative with opportunities !


Pope Benedict XVI, has abdicated his position as the Pope of Catholic Christian head. He being the temporal head of the Vatican, it can be said that he has ‘abdicated’ papacy. But structurally, in English it doesn’t sound good, as this is the first time after 1412 AD that a Pope has resigned! It is not a very normal occurrence. I consider myself lucky to have been alive when an event like this is taking place. 

Whenever an ‘abdication’ takes place, one gets a feeling that it is a political event to do with something other than democracy, as in a democracy there is no such thing called as “abdication”. In a Monarchy, the word “abdication” is commonly used and consequently the next question asked is “IN FAVOUR OF WHOM?”

But the next Pope is to be elected, which is a democratic process among the College of Cardinals, who had not attained the age of 80. So, the Pope is essentially not ‘ABDICATING” as, the successor in office is not predetermined through a pre-existing hierarchy. So in essence, i should be calling it as LAYING DOWN OF THE OFFICE OF THE BISHOPRIC OF ROME!

If that were to be the case, what about the INFALLIBILITY of the Pope? Would Pope Benedict XVI be not eligible for such privilege if he lays down his office?

Further, if both the Ex-Pope and the then future Pope were to be accorded the “infallibility”, there would be two human beings who would be infallible during my life time. It is not merely an episode, it would be a historical EVENT.

I as an outsider to the Catholic faith, would be interested in seeing a solution being offered by their Eminences in clarification of  the INFALLIBILITY concept of a POPE.

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