The present book on Saivism under the Imperial Colas as revealed through their Monuments is the revised version of the doctoral thesis of Dr. Sita Narasimhan. For this purpose, the author undertook extensive fieldwork in the entire stretch of the Kaviri delta with her guide and Dr. R. K.K. Rajarajan.
The book consists of the text, line drawings, a rich photographic album and bibliography. The book is in seven chapters, dealing with the following aspects:
1-Historical Setting of the Colas, beginning with Vijayalaya to Rajaraja III.
2-A Bird’s eye view of the Cola Temples based on the survey made by S.R. Balasubrahmaninan.
3-Iconographic Programme in Cola Temples under the Early, Middle and Later Colas, pointing out the stages of evolution.
4-The Saivite pantheon as reflected in the Cola monuments, reflecting on the status of Saivism under the Colas. It presents a statistical account of the status of the various iconographical forms of the Hindu gods and goddesses. The statistical analysis is the most vital part of the book.
5-Ritual orientation of the Siva temples.
6-An examination of Saivism in retrospect.
7-Saivism and its factions such as the Kalamukhas and Kapalikas.
The book is important exposition of the subject valuable not only for academicians, art-historians, archaeologists, orientalists, researchers and libraries, but also to the lay readers.
Dr. Sita Narasimhan hails from a distinguished family of noblemen and lawyers. After completing her regular schooling, she did all higher studies up to M. Phil. by private study through correspondence. However, for Ph.D. she was a regular candidate under the guidance of Prof. Raju Kalidos. The Tamil University conferred the degree of Doctor of Philosophy on her in 2001.
Dr. Sita is seventy-five years old. Her love for study and research is intense. Even at a ripe old age, she is active in educational field and social service. She has delivered several talks from the All India Radio, Tiruchirapplli on a wide variety of historical themes. A life member of the South Indian History Congress and Tamilnadu History Congress she has attended several of the sessions and presented papers. Her papers have been published in the proceedings.
The high tide of her academic contribution is in the East and West, Rome in which she has an article. Another big article is on the pipeline in South Asian Studies.
Her husband, Shri Narasimhan, is an octogenarian, whose age does not deter him from his pursuit of Sanskrit studies. He is the pillar of support behind all the academic and public services of Dr. Sita. He proves to be his wife’s Palladium.
Dr. Sita Narasimhan hails from a great family. Her grandfather, the late-lamented Sri K.R. Venkatrama lyer was the doyen of the Madurai Bar. He was a scholar of great eminence. His private library was the envy of Professors. Very valuable books on Literature, Religion, Astronomy, Philosophy and the like were preserved and made use of by him. These books were, in the main, in English, Sanskrit, and Tamil. He kindled in his only grand daughter Sita, an insatiable thirst for knowledge. As an alumna, she stood first in her class. She emerged successful in the Senior Cambridge Examination, the papers of which were valued in London. She cultivated in depth Sanskrit and Hindi. She took to music as ducks to water. Veena is her favourite instrument.
She secured distinction in her M. Phil. Her thesis is on “Navagrahas in Tamil Nadu-A Historical Survey” Her untiring field work secured for her the much-coveted distinction. Then she got herself enrolled as a regular research student in Tamil University, Thanjavur, when she was 66 years old. Age could not wither her interest in research. The thesis, she submitted to secure her Ph. D. degree, which she got at the age of 70, is entitled “Saivism under the Imperial Colas”. She literally worked round the clock. It was given to me to watch her progress, in Joy. She visited almost all the important libraries in Tamil Nadu. She was received well by the scholars whom she consulted frequently. Her performance during the Viva-Voce examination was commendable. This opus in your hand her Ph.D. thesis.
It is her good fortune that she was married to Sri Narasimhan, whose love of Sanskrit knows no bounds. He is her Palladium.
This work is in Seven Chapters. The bibliography appended to this work (pages 177 to 187) attests to the authenticity of her book. The glossary included in this work is very valuable. Well-chosen diagrams and photographs enhance the value of this work. Equally valuable are her foot-notes.
The author underwent lugubrious lucubrations, for days without number, to indite this work which is free from pet theories and prejudices. The entire work is informed by studious scholarship and well executed compilation.
This work sees the light of the day, thanks to the grace of Grace. A perusal of this work will reward the reader.
The present book, “Saivism under the Imperial Colas” is the outcome of my research in the department of Foreign Studies and Sculpture of the Tamil University, Thanjavur (1997-2000). To begin with I registered the subject under the guidance of Professor Dr. S. Nagarajan of the Department of Foreign Studies. On his retirement I switched over to Professor Dr. Raju Kalidos of the Department of Sculpture & Art History. My original plan was a study of Saivism under the Imperial Colas with reference to epigraphical and literary sources. But I was advised by my second guide to look at the growth of Saivism with reference to the monuments of the Cola period which are mostly temples dedicated to Siva. In this new track I had the occasion to read a book by Anila Verghese who has studied the religious development of the Vijayanagara Period with particular reference to their monuments. I had to undertake extensive field work and photograph the monuments. So the title of the book is “Saivism under the Imperial Colas as revealed through their Monuments”.
Blessed are those two receive enquiries about the subject of their pursuit from the Mahacarya of the Kamakoti Matha. My heart lights up with joy when I remember the day when the Mahacarya enquired me about my research in Saivism and its impact on the society. I was motivated since then to work more vigorously on this subject.
In my research endeavour I was helped and blessed by many. To my husband, Thiru P.S. Narasimhan , I own more than I can express. What can I thank him for treating me a good friend, helping me when I needed most, should I thank him for accompanying me everyday to the place of my study; or above all should I thank him for treating me a good friend, helping me when I needed most, should I thank him for accompanying me every day to the places of my study; or above all should I thank him for identifying himself with my work with all its joys and sorrows? I do not know. I only know that this work would not have seen the light of the day without him.
Dr S. Nagarajan and Dr. Raju kalidos have not been merely my guides but mentors. I felt the guru-sisya-bhava of the bygone times with them. It was Prof. Raju Kalidos with the touch of art, instilled in me a desire to combine sculptural and architectural art with an otherwise prosaic religious subject like Saivisam.
The subject for investigation was originally suggested by Dr. R. Venkataraman (Retd.), Head of the Department of Art History of the Madurai Kamaraj University. His frequent comments helped me to better visualise the subject. Thiru T.N. Ramachandram, ‘Cekkilar-Ati Poti,’ an ardent admirer of Tamil, threw open the gates of literature. Research is never possible with merely a library science. I was fortunate enough to secure the help at help at a moving library, Muttumunaivar T. Padmanabhan of the Tamil University. Thiru Kutavayil Balasubramanyan of the Sarasvati Mahal Library was also of great help to me. Thiru N. Sethuraman, a doyen among epigraphists, with his rare insight and encyclopaedic knowledge of saivism offered me offered me food for thought.
I acknowledge with all humility the following individuals and institutions for their assistance in course of my research:
1. His Holiness Jagatguru Sri Jayendra Sarasvati Svamikal of the Kanci Kamakotipitham, work,
2. Library Staff of the University of Madras,
3. Thiru A. Anabalakan, Department photographic Assistant, who printed all black and white photographs,
4. Departmental collections of Sculpture and Art History, mostly brought from Berlin by Prof. Raju Kalidos, virtually I am indebted to the DAAD, Bonn,
5. Officers and Personnel of the temples where I conducted field work, and
6. Dr. T.S. Thangamuthu who typed the script with precision.
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