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

The first prominent and probably the most dominant Kundavai in the entire chola reign was certainly Rajaraja’s sister, who was immortalized in tamil literature by Amarar Kalk[1].

The name Kundavai originated from Andhra [2].But she was not the first Kundavai. It was Arinjaya chola’s wife who was the first Kundavai. Out of his respect for her, Parantaka Sundara Chola named his daughter as Kundavai and this was followed by Rajaraja, who named his daughter, in turn, as Kundavai out of his extreme regards for his sister.

So, the Kundavai list is :

  • Mudhal Kundavai Arinjaya’s wife
  • Irandam Kundavai Rajaraja’s sister and the most prominent
  • Moondram Kundavai One who married Chalukyan prince Vimaladitya
Thanjavur temple inscriptions says wrote:Vallavaraiyar Vandhiyathevar Pirattiyar Aazhvar Parantakan Kundavai Pirattiyar

This is how one of the most powerful ladies of the ancient chola kingdom gets her introduction in the famous Thanjavur temple inscriptions[3]. Pirattiyar, Most of the royal ladies are referred to as the wives of so and so.

common usage wrote:Udaiyar Raajaraja devarin nampiraatiyar Dandhi Sakthi Vitankiyar

Aazhvar, this term only used to signify vaishnavaite saints who lived 2 to 3 centuries before cholas.

Why this lady was given such a title ? No other royal lady or male, either before or after kundavai was ever awarded such a title. So what does this title really mean? Is it a title given with a religious sense ? May not be, because she was a truely royal lady with no specific attachment to a given religion. She built only 4 temples : One saivaite, One vaishnavite (Sundarach chozha vinnagarm) one buddhist and one jain (Sundarach chozhap perumpalli), probably all the 4 in the name of her father.

There was one more kundavai in the chola clan before this current kundavai, she was called veeman kundavai. She was from east chalukiyas[2].

In order to distinguish herself from her senior, our kundavai called herself “Paraantakan Kundavai”, tagging her most beloved father’s name with her name. The love between daughter and king as portrayed in Ponniyin selvan is no fiction, she builds sundarach chozha vinnagaram, sundarach chozha vinnagara aadhura saalai (hospital) and even donates idols of her parents to periya koil temple.

There is one very significant point about Kundavai Piratti and Rajaraja relationship, Rajaraja had great respect for his sister and that their love was not one sided. There are numerous inscriptions to prove this. Kundavai specifically donated many things to Dakshina Meru Vitankar of Raajarajeswaram(Periya Koil)? and her contributions are only next to that of Rajaraja, none of his queens come next but kundavai.

Even in the famous “Naam kuduthanavum” inscription of Tanjore big temple, it is his sister’ who comes first, not his queens or anyboday else.
[quote=Naam kuduthanavum inscription of Tanjore big temple”]Naam kuduthanavum nam akkaan kuduthanavum nam pendugal koduthanavum koduthar koduthanavum[/quote]

So there can be no doubt that the sister – brother relationship was very special and what has been portrayed in Ponniyin Selvan,in this respect is all but truth. That tells the power this lady enjoyed in the kingdom, she gives enormous offerings in gold to periyakoil, establishing her financial strength.

The major contributions of periyakoil were carefully monitored. Not all could give anything even though the could afford. When it was rajaraja who presents the main utsava idol Dakshinameeru vitankarana aadavallar it is kundavai who is permitted to present a Umadevito this vigraha.

Just by analyzing who has made which contribution, one is able to realize the order of power in Rajaraja’s time.

inscription in thirukovillur temple wrote:…raajarajan ennum puliyai payandha pon maan..
surandha mulaip paal magavodu piriyath thaiyal….

based on the assumption that the child is Arumozhi, probably Kundavai could have raised Rajaraja and that could be one of the reasons for their love and affections.

With respect to Vanthiyathevan, except the big temple inscription, there is no reference to both of them together in any other inscriptions.