Here’s Who was Raja Raja Chola? How was controversy sparked around his religious identity?

When the thin line between history and fiction becomes blurred and the past rises, it often creates a controversy. This time, it revolves around the religious identity of Raja Raja Chola, the revered king who held power and reigned supreme throughout South India.

Raja Chola fights the war with an expansionist mindset and the Pandyas and Cheras occupy vast expanses of the country. He invaded the northern parts of Sri Lanka, Lakshadweep, Thiladhunmadulu Atoll and some areas of Maldives. He also won at Kandalur Salai (Kerala), thanks to his strong navy and army fleet. Raja Raja annihilates everyone who comes in his way. He also occupied the areas of Gangapadi, Nolambapady and Tadigaipadi (Karnataka).

The great emperor began a project of a land survey, reorganizing his kingdom into units known as valanadas. Local self-government is revamped as it puts in place a foolproof audit system. Gram Sabhas and other public bodies are given autonomy.

The huge Brihadisvara Temple at Thanjavur dedicated to Lord Shiva, a splendid example of Dravidian architecture, comes under his direction. It became a center of religious activities (it got the UNESCO heritage site tag sometime back).

Ponniyin Selvan I, by ace filmmaker Mani Ratnam, is a film based on a novel by Kalki Krishnamurthy that depicts the era during the Chola dynasty. Noted film director Vetrimaaran sparked controversy by saying that efforts were being made to project Raja Raja as “a Hindu king” and give him a Hindu religious identity. “Our identity is constantly being taken away from us,” he said.

Telangana Governor Tamilisai Sundararajan jumped into the debate. She says that efforts are being made to hide the Hindu cultural identity of prominent personalities in Tamil Nadu. “There is a need to raise voice against such efforts.”

Sundararajan goes a step further and claims that she was brought up around the Brihadeeswara temple in Thanjavur.

The split is further aggravated when Vetrimaaran is supported by popular actor Kamal Haasan. He said that there was no Hinduism during the reign of Raja Raja Chola. “There were Vainavam, Shivam and Samanam, and it was the British who coined the term Hindu because they did not know how to refer to it collectively.”

BJP’s H Raja also gets into a heated argument. “I am not as well versed in history as Vetrimaaran, but he should point to the two churches and mosques built by Raja Raja Chola. He called himself Sivapada Sekaran. Wasn’t he a Hindu then?”

What did Kamal Haasan and other politicians say on the controversy?

‘No Hinduism during the Chola period’

Vikram actor Kamal Haasan backed director Vetrimaaran’s comment that there was no ‘Hinduism’ during the period of Raja Raja Chola.

“There was no name ‘Hinduism’ during the reign of Raja Raja Chola. There were Venavam, Shaivam and Samanam, and it was the British who coined the term Hindu because they did not know how to refer to it collectively. It was the same Kind of like they changed Thoothukudi to Tuticorin,”.

Rejecting Vetrimaaran’s claim, BJP leader H Raja claimed that Raja Raja Chola was in fact a Hindu king.

“I am not well versed in history like Vetrimaaran, but he should point out two churches and mosques built by Raja Raja Chola. He called himself Shivapada Sekaran. Wasn’t he a Hindu then?” He asked.

Targeting the director, Telangana governor and former Tamil Nadu BJP president Tamilisai Sundararajan, he said there was an attempt to hide the “identity of Hindu cultural symbols”.

Furthermore, he said that the idea of ​​worship “is rooted in Tamils ​​and both Shaivam and Vainavam are the hallmarks of Hindus”.

“Hindu is a cultural identity and you cannot interpret it the way you want. Tamils ​​are religious in nature. Shaivam and Vainavam are the hallmarks of Hindu religions and there is no second opinion on that,” the Telangana governor was quoted as saying by the Deccan Herald.

“Whether we like it or not, Rajaraja Chola was a Hindu,” explained S Jayakumar, a Chennai-based cultural history researcher who worked on Ponniyin Selvan:1.

Rajaraja Chola may not have used the word. It cannot be used in the context as we use it today, but by practice, by faith, the temples he patronized There is no denying that he was a Hindu, ”said the researcher.

Who was Raja Raja Chola?

The ‘King of Kings’, Raja Raja Chola ruled southern India from 985 CE-1014 CE.

Born as Rajakesari Arulmozhi Varman to Paramataka II (also known as Sundar Cholan) and Vanavan Madevi, Raja Raja Chola ascended the throne in 985 CE.

The Chola Empire extended from present-day Tamil Nadu, Kerala and the regions of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

With a strong army, the ‘competent’ administrator expanded his empire by conquering Kerala (Chera Desh).

His naval strength was seen when the army occupied the Maldives and northern Sri Lanka.

Raja Raja Chola also fought with the Chalukyas in the north and the Pandyas in the south.

The huge Brihadeeswara Temple (Peruvadaiyar Kovil) in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu dedicated to Lord Shiva was built by Raja Raja Chola.

The architectural masterpiece is also known as Rajarajeshwara Temple and Peruvudaiyar Temple.

Historian Aniruddha Kanisetty reports that the grand temples were built “in an unprecedented manner” by the Cholas.

“The king was also more cosmopolitan and secular in the Raja Cholan outlook. He built temples for Lord Shiva, Ganesha and Vishnu during his reign and generously funded those seeking the construction of Jain or Buddhist temples,” P. Venkatesan, former Director of Epigraphy, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

During his reign, Raja Raja initiated a land survey project, where he reorganized his empire into units known as Valanadas.

Read in hindi: यहाँ कौन थे राजा राजा चोल? उनकी धार्मिक पहचान को लेकर विवाद कैसे छिड़ गया?