Udayar the life of great king Raja Raja

Raja Raja you are a great king
Raja Raja you are a great king

I see a lot of praise on Kalki often on the blogosphere (even i did it once i guess ) but balakumaran gets very scant attention for the Magnum Opus Udayar , a epic book on the Brihadeeswara temple (பெருவுடையார் கோவில்) at tanjore . Raja Raja Cholan the greatest king of the Chola dynasty has a vision to build a temple for Lord Shiva , with the Gopuram alone around 216 feet made entirely of granite . The temple kalasam is a monolithic granite (a single stone ) of weight around 81 ton . So the story starts with the great King envisioning to build this great temple for Lord Shiva. He is shown as astute follower of Hinduism or Santhana Dharma . Raja Raja’s vision is seen by skeptics like his son Rajendra Chola as impractical and virtually impossible . But Raja Raja is absolutely committed to the temple .

The story was absolutely gripping , i can go on with the highlights of the book , but i am too lazy to that . So I just want to share those splendid things which i liked the most in the book :

Raja Raja’s Characterization I dont’ know how much of it is Story and how much is real history . But I love this king , i had dreams of seeing him when i was reading the book . At times i could relate with certain characters in the book , at times i was even thinking “May be I was this guy then in my previous incarnations ” (I still remain a strict rationalist just a too much of the book ). He is a absolute definition of a leader , the way he inspires people to contribute to the temple , or the way he handles complicated matters like the Caste differences in the Chola dynasty . On a personal note he is a very good romantic lover , especially with his wife panchavanmadevi .

Rajendra is shown as a Angry at times even rude and foolish heir apparent, the way RajaRaja matures him and breaks his foolish and egoistic thoughts is astounding . Especially Rajendra abhors the special privileges offered to Bhramins . He is interested only in waging wars , and believes that the Wariors should be given supreme importance in a society . RajaRaja as a king during non-war times is very loving and caring , this makes Rajendra think of his father as weak , and Rajendra’s battalion to be more powerful when compared to his father . In this context RajaRaja will remind him that even the battalion of Rajendra comes under his order as he is the King of this nation .

Karuvoora Thevar : He is the Guru/Saint of RajaRaja , shown as a Sidha Purush who guides RajaRaja in matters of strategy and Spirutal thought . Every human being at some point requires logical (call it spiritual i am bit skeptical about the word ) thinking that does not make him too arrogant for his own good . So RajaRaja is attributing all his success to the Lord himself .

The Story covers very different areas of Chola history , the caste system that was present in the Chola history . The Sirpa Art which was in all its glory during the period of RajaRaja is described in great deal . The Story also discusses how such huge granite blocks were carried to the top . The temple construction required wars to be fought , it involved lot of slaves captured during wars . The temple was built using the properties looted during the wars with the Chalukyas , Pandyas etc .

Let me quote the famous inscription that is still there , which was inscribed while the temple was inaugurated by Raja Raja :

‘Naam kuduthanavum nam akkaan kuduthanavum nam pendugal koduthanavum koduthar koduthanavum…’ (I could not get the tamil one , maybe if i get the one i will update ) . This is basically a reference to all the people who contributed to the temple . When the book was over , i felt a void in myself . I am planning to go to the temple very soon , just a historic mission .

A great King and a great book to cherish for generations to come !

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samratashok

An Insane just adding irregularity to the universe

3 thoughts on “Udayar the life of great king Raja Raja”

  1. Hi,

    Sorry for this very late comment. But, there are certain books that really can make you temporarily lose your rationalism and sometime common sense as well and I guess this was one of them(I have not read the book yet, just felt). And again, if we really think in a real rational way, it was those slaves whom we should be appreciating. Imagine launching that great stone to such a great height, in those days. I agree we had our own primitive, but effective way of doing things. But, it is still an achievement to the credit of those workers. Rajaraja chola was a great chola king, I agree. But, it is those builders(Though they are obscure now(, whose expertise in “sirpa kalai” is remarkable, who need some appreciation.

  2. True every single one who worked on the temple , not only slaves but the patriotic artisans of Chola empire were actually their names added in the temple walls .

  3. its true that you feel like you could be someone like the chola kings in some births, because I too feel like rajendra chola. all the more, its just a sense that unites a community, i guess. just like there’s nothing wrong in thinking that I am the son of the Almighty [whichever God you worship, doesn’t matter here]

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