The Cholas by Professor K. A. Nilakanta Sastri is a landmark work in the realm of the social, political and cultural history of Tamil Nadu during the period of Cola dynasty from 850 to 1279 A.D. right from Vijalaya Aditya I down to Rajendra Ill, up to the end of the dynasty. Celebrated all over the world as a pioneering work in South Indian History, the first edition was published in two volumes, first in 1935 and the second in 1937 followed by a revised edition in 1955 which has been reprinted a few more times by the University of Madras.
The earliest datable references to the Cola dynasty are in inscriptions from the 3rd century B.C. left by Emperor Asoka, of the Maurya Empire. The Cola dynasty was one of the longest ruling dynasties in the history of Southern India spreading over a period of four centuries. The dynasty continued to govern over varying territories, though its heartland remained to be the fertile valley of the river Kaveri. It ruled a significantly larger area at the height of their power from the later half of the 9th century till the beginning of the 13th century. Almost the whole of south up to the Tungabhadra was united and held as one state for a period of two centuries.
Under Rajaraja Cola I and his son Rajendra Cola I, it became a military, economic and cultural power in South as well as South-East Asia. The power of the new empire was proclaimed to the eastern world by their expedition up to the Ganges which Rajendra Cola I undertook and by the occupation of cities of the maritime empire of Srivijaya, as well as by the repeated embassies to China. Rajaraja Cola conquered peninsular South India, annexed parts of which is now Sri Lanka and occupied the islands of the Maldives. Rajendra Cola sent a victorious expedition to North India that touched the river Ganges and defeated the Pala ruler of Pataliputra, Mahipala.
I appreciate the work done by the Former Director, Dr. M. Sakthivel and the present set up at the Publication Division, University of Madras for having nicely brought out this book. I am glad to commend this work for the wider attention of scholars and students interested in South Indian History and Culture.
PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION
This book has been out of print for many years now and I am grateful to the Vice-Chancellor and Syndicate of the University of Madras for the invitation they extended to me to revise it for a second edition. The first edition appeared in two volumes in 1935 and'1937, each volume accompanied by an appendix of select inscriptions containing abstracts of unpublished inscriptions. This appendix has been omitted in the present edition' partly to save space" and partly because thee evidence is now fairly familiar to the reader. There is also another valid reason. The Central Advisory Board of Archaeology has adopted a resolution advising' the Union Department of Archaeology to bring out at an early date an up-to-date Topographical List of South Indian Inscriptions similar to the well-known list of The Inscriptions of the Madras Presidency by Prof. V. Rangachari, and I understand work on these lists is being undertaken, besides steps for speeding up the publication of the texts of these inscriptions.
The promise of a separate study of Cola: Art held forth in the Preface to the first edition has not materialised; difficulties in the way of a comprehensive treatment are unfortunately still too many. These will disappear only if the Archaeological Department or a South Indian University undertakes a systematic survey and description of the monuments with photographs, plans, and elevations on the model of, what has been done for Kambuja, Annam and Java by the French and Dutch archaeologists working in those countries. This work, beyond the resource at the command of the present writer who has, therefore; with, the permission of the authorities of the University of Madras, added, a, fresh-chapter to the book, giving a summary account of the main features in the history of Cola Art with adequate illustrations. In the preparation of this chapter he, has' received considerable aid from Mr. K. R. Srinivasan, Superintendent for Archaeology, Southern Circle, and Dr. S. Paramasivan, Archaeological Chemist in the South-both from their writings and from personal discussions with them.
The whole text has been carefully revised, and in part rewritten in the light of recent discoveries and interpretations. Some ancillary matter on feudatory dynasties which seemed unduly to hamper the narrative has been omitted, and the foot-notes collected at the end of each chapter instead of being distributed at the foot of the pages.
My obligations to previous writers will be evident from the notes. For the new chapter on Art I have availed myself of the writings of the late Jouveau-Dubreuil and of Mr. Percy Brown in particular. The sources of the illustrations are indicated in the description of plates and it will be noticed that I owe most of the illustrations to the courtesy of the Director- General of Archaeology. Mr. K. R. Srinivasan has allowed me to reproduce some photographs in his private collection. Mr. N. Lakshminarayana Rao, Government Epigraphist for India, not only extended ample facilities for consulting texts of inscriptions, but furnished some valuable references, placed his transcript of the Karandai Plates at my disposal, and also permitted me to reproduce the excellent. seal of these plates, the better preserved of the two seals on them; this now takes the place of the seal of the Tiruvalangadu plates included in the first volume of the first edition.
Dr. A. Aiyappan, Superintendent of the Madras Museum, and Mr. P. R. Srinivasan, his archaeological assistant, as well as the numismatic assistant of the Madras Museum, very readily enabled me to consult the Coins of the Dhavalesvaram hoard, though it entailed a considerable inroad on their precious working hours on more than one occasion; Mr. P. R. Srinivasan also kindly undertook the detailed description of the illustrations which is appearing under his name. Lastly Mr. H. 8. Ramanna, Lecturer in Indology in the Mysore University kindly undertook the task of indexing the book.
To all these friends I tender my most grateful thanks. The Vice-Chancellor of the University, Dr. A. Lakshmana- swami Mudaliyar, has been evincing a personal interest in the proper and speedy production of this book, and I do not know bow adequately to thank him for this. The Registrar, Mr. R. Ravi Varma, has also earned my gratitude by his prompt help on several occasions in speeding up administrative decisions and otherwise. Mr. G. Srinivasachari, Proprietor of the G. S. Press, has spared no effort to print the book very quickly and in excellent form quite worthy of the high reputation he has established for himself as Printer. My thanks are also due to him.
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