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Thread: A brief study on the Tamil Vanniyar of Tamil Nadu

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    Author - Virarajendra

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    A brief study on the Tamil Vanniyar of Thondaimandalam in Tamil Nadu

    "Vanniyar" literarily means 'Vanmai Mihunthavarkal' and were the traditional "warrior tribe" of "Native Tamilians" (Kshythiriyar in Sanskrit) of Tamil Nadu.

    The Tamil "Vanniyar Puraanam" and "Silai Elupathu" by Tamil Poet Kambar euologising the "Vanniyar tribe" comes out with a "mythological origin" of the first Vanniyar coming out from the Fire, and to a story connecting them with "Sambu Mamunivar". This "mythological story" 'should be left as it is' and no "historical value" whatsoever should be attached to it. However based on this same 'Puraanam' and the 'Silai Elupathu' the Vanniyar Tribe referred to themselves to be of "Agni Kula", and being a 'warrior tribe' had their emblem as "Bow" (Vill in Tamil).

    "Vanniyar" is not the name of a "caste" but the name of the "decendents of 'Native Tamilians' of Tamil Nadu from the period of third Tamil Sangam of first century A.D." who choose the "profession" of being "warriors at war" and served under 'Perarasers' (kings of great dynasties) of Tamil Nadu namely the Thondaimans, Athikaimans and Malayamans during the early days, and subsequently under Kongu dynasty (western Gangas), Pallavas, Cholas, and Paandiyas during the medieval period, and under the Vijayanagara kings during their period of sway over certain regions of Tamil Nadu.

    Also the 'Vanniyar tribe' very often under their own "Vanniya Chieftains" - the "Sittrarasers" (lesser Kings) ruled regions of Tamil Nadu 'either' independently, or allied themselves with the "Perarasers" and served them - bearing the royal titles given to them by the 'Perarasers''.


    "Vanniyar" existed in the former Thondai Nadu, Chola Nadu, Paandiya Nadu, Chera Nadu and Kongu Nadu regions of early Tamil Nadu.. The Vanniyar tribe (not caste) of each Nadu were referred to by the name of their respective regions as 'Thondaimandala (Thondai) Vanniyar', 'Cholamandala Vanniyar', 'Paandimandala Vanniyar' etc etc.

    The decendents of the "Native Tamil Vanniyar" of then Thondaimandalam region (Thondai Nadu) of North Tamil Nadu were referred to as "Thondai Vanniyar". These "warrior tribe" under their "Vanniyar Chieftains" served the "Tamil Thondaimaan Kings" of North Tamil Nadu who ruled, Thondaimandalam with their capital at "Kanchipuram" from the period of first century A.D. upto fifth century A.D. They also served the "Tamil Athiyamaan Kings", "Tamil Malayamaan kings" and "Western Ganga kings" who too ruled regions of Thondaimandalam around Thirukkoyilur, Milaadu Nadu and Pangala Nadu of the pre-Pallava period of north Tamil Nadu.

    With the fall of "Thondaimaan dynasty", "Athiyaman dynasty" and "Malayamaan dynasty" of Thondaimandalam, and with the subsequent supremacy of the "Pallava dynasty" in this region also with Kanchipuram as their capital, the Vanniyar Tribe under their Vanniyar Chieftains continued to serve Pallavas as warriors. With their alliance with the "Pallavar" kings, the "Tamil Vanniya Chieftains" were able to rule regions of Thondaimandalam as "Sittrarasers" under the Pallavar with the title "Pallavaraiyer". "Araiyar" means 'Sittarasers' (kings of small regions). During the period of Pallava kings the Vanniyars also formed a large part of the Pallava army.

    The Tamil Vanniyar Chieftains served initially under the "first line" of Pallava dynasty from the time of Mahendravarman - 1 the decendent of Simhavishnu (A.D.550-580), who referred themselves as the "Pallavar". However the "second line" of the Pallava dynasty being the decendents of Bhimavarman (the younger brother of Simhavishnu) referred to themselves as the Kaadavar dynasty with the titles as "Kaadavar and as 'Kaadavar-Koan'".

    From the time of Hiraniyavarman (whose son was Pallava king Nanthivarman - 2) the Kaadavar dynasty being a branch of the Pallava dynasty were referred to both as "Pallavar" and more often as "Kaadavar". With the Tamil mix of Nanthivarman - 2 in matrimony, the Nanthivarman - 3 referred to himself as the "Thamil Nanthi", "Thamilakaran Nanthi" and as "Thamilai nanku aaykintra Nanthi". During this period the "Tamil Vanniyar Chieftains" aligned with the Kaaadavar kings, and continued to serve them with the title as "Kaadavaraiyar".

    One such Vanniyar Chieftain from the line of "Kaadavaraiyar" became a Tamil Saive Saint and was counted as one among the 63 - Tamil Saiva Saints of Tamil Nadu. This is confirmed by the references in the "Thevaaram" of the Tamil Saiva Saint Suntharamoorthy Naayanaar, Seikeelaar's Tamil "Periyapuranam", and Nambiyaandar Nambi's Tamil "Thiruththondar Thiruvanthaathi".[/color]

    Important Note

    It is totally incorrect by some Historians to refer to the present day "Vanniyars" as the decendents of the kings of the earlier Thondaiman dynasty or the Pallava dynasty or the subsequent medieval Chola dynasty, while in reality they were only the decendents of the "Tamil Warrior Tribe - the Vanniyar" whose Chieftains were the Kings who ruled over regions of Tamil Nadu as "Sittrarasers" from time to time - under the the "Perarasers" the Thondaimans, the Pallavar (as subordinates with titles as "Pallavarayers" and "Kadavarayers"), and the subsequent Cholar dynasties
    .

    Evidences

    ".......kudaiyudaiyaar Malaya-mannar (Malaiyamaan), Kuntravar (Athiyamaan), Pallavar mum mup-padai yudayaar (commanded their three forces) Vaniyar (the Vanniyar)......"

    Silai Elupathu - by Poet Kambar, verse 8

    ".....Vaiyanikal Pallavar thang kulamarabin valithoantri(ya)......kanni mathil sool Kanchi Kaadavarai Adikalaar.......paavanintha Ayyadikal kaadavanaar....."

    Aiyyadikal Kaadavar-koan Naayanaar, Thiruththondar Puraanam

    ".....bakthi kadal Aiyyadikal aakintra nam Pallavane....."

    Aiyyadikal Kaadavar-koan Naayanaar, Nambiyaandar Nambi's Thiruththondar Thiruvanthaathi, 11th Tamil Thirumurai


    During the 'Pre-medieval and Medieval Chola period' too the Tamil Vanniyar Chieftains ruled different parts of Thondaimandalam as "Sittarasers" (Chieftains) with their respective titles Ganga-araiyar, Kadava-araiyar, Sethi-araiyar, Sambuva-araiyar, Yathav-araiyar and Malaiyakula-araiyar. These names over a period changed in to Gangaraiyar, Kadavaraiyar, Sethiraiyar, Sambuvaraiyar, Yathavaraiyar, Malaikularaiyar.

    With the subsequent Chola Empire expanding over Karnatakas during medieval period the Vanniyars also settled in the southern regions of Karnaataka, and 'over a period of time gradually adopted Telugu and Kannada languages of the region - and these 'Tamil Vanniyars' were later known as Telugu & Kannada Vanniyars

    The mid ninth century Tamil poetic work "Kalladam" of the Tamil Poet Kallaadanaar refers to the "Vanniyar" Tribe as "naal padai Vanniyar" (Naal Padai = Yaanaip Padai, Kuthiraip Padai, Ther Padai, and Kaalat Padai) indicating their association with war being a Warrior Tribe.

    One of the prominent Vanniyar Chieftain during the period of Kulothunga Chola - 1 (A.D.1070-1120) was his Senathipathi (Army General) namely the "Karunaakara Thondaimaan". He was referred to as 'Karunaakara Thondai Vanniyan' in the Tamil Poetic work of Poet Kambar of this same period, namely in the "Silai Elupathu' composed praising the Tamil Vanniyar community. He is the hero of the other Tamil Poetic work of Poet Jeyamkondar namely the Kalingaththu Parani sung in praise of the war expedition lead by him against the Kalinga country (present Orissa) on behalf of Kulothunga Chola - 1 which ended up in great victory.

    The great Tamil Poet "Kambar" who lived during the period of Kulothunga Chola - 2 (A.D.10....-11....) mentions in his complete Tamil Poetic work "Silai Elepathu" sung eulogising the Vanniyar tribe says .........

























    This Thread will be developed into a full Research Article very soon
    Last edited by virarajendra; 11th August 2015 at 12:04 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by virarajendra View Post
    This Thread will be developed into a full Research Article within next one month
    2 varushamaachu....

    Never argue with a fool or he will drag you down to his level and beat you at it through sheer experience!

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    ! ! ! ! - NOV - continuing now

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    Excellent.... I'm waiting
    Never argue with a fool or he will drag you down to his level and beat you at it through sheer experience!

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