Porpanaikottai (Inde): Stone commemorating heroic act with Tamil-Brahmi inscription found
Students of Department of Epigraphy and Archaeology of Tamil University read the Tamil-Brahmi (Tamizhi) inscription on Friday on the slab found near Pudukottai. M. Thirumalai, Vice Chancellor, looks on. Photo: B. Velankanni Raj
The stone found near a pond was being used by people for washing clothes
Students of Department of Epigraphy and Archaeology of Tamil University here have discovered an important hero stone, a stone commemorating a heroic act, with Tamil-Brahmi (Tamizhi) inscription near Pudukottai. The discovery is considered to be significant in the history of early Tamil epigraphical research.
T. Thangadurai, S. Pandyan and A. Moses, research students of the Department of Epigraphy and Archaeology, found the stone slab at Porpanaikottai near Pudukottai during fieldwork last week.
The stone, lying near a pond close to the village, was being used by people for washing clothes. The triangular stone, measuring about 60 cm x 60 cm in area, is 10-cm thick. The stone has a five-line inscription written in Tamil using Tamil-Brahmi characters of circa 2 century Christian Era.
The university’s Professors S. Rajavelu, Y. Subbarayalu, N. Athiyaman, V. Vedachalam, V. Selvakumar and M. Bhavani deciphered the inscription and epigraphists are scrutinising it further.
According to S. Rajavelu, Professor of Underwater Archaeology, the inscription refers to the death of Kanang Kumaran, an officer in charge of the personal bodyguard wing (tanaiyan of the angkappadai) of the army of Atavanaru (Atavanur) which rescued cattle during the reign of Pon Kongar Vinnakon, successor of Ko Venkatti, a chief mentioned in the Sangam texts. The memorial was erected to mark the death of Kanang Kumaran.
M. Thirumalai, Vice-Chancellor of Tamil University, told presspersons on Friday that this was an interesting and important discovery. “Our students had discovered four hero stone inscriptions in Tamil-Brahmi script. The four earlier hero stone inscriptions are datable to the pre-Christian era.”
He said the inscription constituted important epigraphical evidence to correlate with the Tamil society of the Sangam period. Sangam literature had references to the capture of cattle in the enemy region and rescuing those driven away. Those killed in cattle raids gained commendation from the king, and in some cases, were stones engraved with their name were erected (Ezuthudai Nadukal).
The Chief Pon kongkar Vinnakkon probably ruled after Ko Venkatti. The wordetirana appearing in the inscription suggest this. One could compare the legend on the Antipatti sliver coins that mentions Atina Etirana Sendan. (The Sendan who ruled after Atinan or Atinan, who ruled after Sendan).
The words angkappadai, tanaiyan and kanam are also interesting. The wordangkappadai means the personal body guard of the chief, taniya denotes that he was in charge officer of the fort. The find spot —Porpanaikottai — still has the remnants of a mud fort and the fort covers 40 acres of land. It could have served as a garrison in those days.