Monday, April 16, 2007

How about a return of historical artefact?

Though the Tamilnadu government had announced year-long celebration of the 2550th maha parinirvanam of Lord Buddha in February this year, it would be more apt and befitting if the government could bring back the copper plate inscribed with details of Chudamani Viharai (Buddha temple) built in Nagapattinam in 1008 AD by the then Chola king Rajendra -I but are now in Leiden city in Holland, where it is kept in a museum.
In this regard, News Today spoke to V Nagasundaram, secretary of Anna Nagar Tamil Peravai and Anna Nagar Tamil Sangam, who has an indepth knowledge about the issue.
He says, 'If steps were taken in the right direction to bring back the inscription record (copper plates) and place it back after renovating Chudamani Viharai, importance of Nagapattinam would increase, and in other words, it would bring a good number of tourists there'.
According to South Asian history between 985 AD and 1014 AD, when the great emperor Raja Raja Chola was ruling Chola kingdom, emperor Mara Vijayotunga Varman of Srivijayam Empire has requested permission to construct a viharai (Buddhist temple) in Nagapattinam in memory of his father-emperor Chudamani Varman as he has named the viharai which he has constructed as Chudamani Viharai.
It was also called Raja Raja Viharai. He also constructed another viharai and named it as 'Rajendra Chola Perum Palli'. The king (Raja Raja Chola) not only gave permission for the construction of viharai, though, not only himself but all other Chola kings were 'saivaites'; but also donated a few nearby villages for the proper upkeep of the viharai. King Rajendra Chola-I, who succeeded him, inscribed all the details of the viharai in copper plates and placed them on its premises.
Nagasundaram says, 'According to details available today, that copper plates are now at the Leiden Museum, and they are called as 'Leiden Grants'.
He further says, 'Even now, we can see the remains of old viharais and Lord Buddha's statues in Nagapattinam district. Some of the bronze Buddha statues excavated in this area by the Archaeological Department are now at Chennai Museum. Among them, a few has inscribed words on their pedestal confirming the location of the Chudamani Viharai and Rajendra Chola Perum Palli'.
Advocating strongly for the 'return' of those copper plates, Nagasundaram says, 'If possible, through our External Affairs Ministry, the Tamilnadu government should try to obtain 'Leiden Grants'. If our attempt fails, a replica of the same should be made in copper plates and placed in the renovated viharai as a tribute to our great kings'.
He further says a great memorial can be constructed at Nagapattinam on any one of the models at Sanchi, Gaya, Saranath etc., and declared as a research centre on Buddhism in South-East Asia.
Will the Tamil scholars look into this and make this sweet and great dream reality? Only time has the answer.
- G Saravanan