Ravidasan Panchavan Brahmadhirajan

This article is based on Gokul ‘s Facts and Fiction series.

Ravidasan is a real historical character in the novel Ponniyin Selvan. He and his associates are portrayed as Pandiyan Abathudavigal who conspired to kill Sundara Chola’s heirs (Adithya Karikalan & Arumozhi) to revenge Veerapandiyan’s Murder.

Adithya Karikalan’s Murder is mentioned in the Thiruvalangadu copper plates. These copper plates are quite sentimental in expressing this untimely death of Adithya Karikala[1],

It had an effect on Kalki who very specifically recalls the sentences in the copper plates wrote:Due to his wish to see heavens early, the sun set early and the entire world was surrounded by the darkness called kali

The word sun, in this phrase, represents Adithya. The extreme melancholy that comes out of this poetic phrase fittingly portrays the mood of chola regime at that time.

In the chola temple of Udaiyarkudi (covered in Mudhal Yaathirai), there is a inscription that talks about the punishments given to those involved in crown prince Adithya’s Murder. But, unfortunately, till date there is no other inscription related to this murder.

The inscription talks about wrote:Throgigalana Ravidasanagia Pachavan Brahmadhirajan, his brothers Soman Sambavan etc etc

Though the inscription is very vague in many respects, it still gives room to deduce many things.

  • Panchavan Brahmadhirajan title, attributed to Ravidasan, almost certainly indicates that he was holding a very high post in chola regime at the time of this punishment. Hence Kalki’s theory that he was a pandiya abhathudhavi is questionable.
  • Brahmadhirajan is a title generally given to Brahmins in chola government posts. So he must have been a Brahmin.
  • The term Throgigalana also adds that they are definitely people of chola regime and not outsiders. The term throgigal(Betrayers) may mean much more, they might have even been close associates of Adithya or somebody else very close to chola government.
  • This group of conspirators seem to be brothers, as implied in the inscription; this fact has not been brought out by Kalki, for some reason.
  • A point of bigger debate is the punishment given to this group (as indicated in the inscription): They are banished to go on exile outside the chola territory. Such a petty punishment to those who have committed capital crime!
  • Some have given the explanation that they were Brahmins and hence cannot be hanged. This is not such a bad explanation but invites questions. Is there any other evidence to show with certainity that in chola times, Brahmins were not given capital punishments?
  • In fact the punishments of chola times are confusing at times. Even for heinous crimes such as rape and murder people just punished with a Nandha vilakku (Lamp that never goes down) or some Saava Moova Peeradu(Sheep donations). Thus, it is difficult to understand the Justice Book of chola times.
  • May be Ravidasan and co were just instruments at the hands of a main conspirator, who was much more powerful than them. That is why Rajaraja might have reserves the capital punishment for him and orders exile to these people who were just instruments.
  • Exile implies another thing: They have to leave all their lands etc and could carry only jewelery. Nobody would have bought lands from them, after knowing that they were conspirators. Thus they were made beggars in one stroke.
  • Outside chola valanadu, where did they really go? Must be to Pandiya or chera territory – or somewhere else?
  • Not just Ravidasan and his brothers, but the entire family set up, their wives, children, those families of wifes – the whole gang is banished. This calls for certain analysis. Why their wives and children and those families of wives should be punished? It would have been much easier to jail just Ravidasan & Co and spare the rest. What does this mean? This could only mean either the participation of the whole group in this crime or in order to increase the magnitude of his punishment, Rajaraja ordered thus.
  • There is no evidence behind the assumption that Adithya Karikalan was murdered in Kadambur palace. May be in Thiruvalangadu copper plates? Probably the Ravidasan and co belonged to this village. If it were so, what is the relation between them and Kadambur Sambuvaraiyars?