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Devotion and Dominion

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Ninth-Century Donations of a Pāṇḍyan King in Temples along the River Kāvēri

image of Indo-Iranian Journal

This article presents and analyses a corpus of thirty Tamil inscriptions located in the region of the Kāvēri river related to a Pāṇḍyan king called Māṟañcaṭaiyaṉ Varaguṇa Mahārāja. This king, identified as Varaguṇa II whose reign may have begun around 862 A.D., appears to have conquered the Kāvēri region and maintained his sovereignty over this highly coveted territory over a period of 13 years, starting in his 4th regnal year. Almost half of the epigraphs gathered in this corpus record donations by the king himself, and, if the places where they were engraved seem to echo a sacred pattern found in the Tamil hymns of Bhakti, bestowing upon Varaguṇa an aura of king-devotee, these gifts, inserted in a network of significantly powerful locations in the socio-political and religious context of the 9th century, become “gifts of power”.

Affiliations: 1: École française d’ Extrême-Orient


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