The Velir: Were they the Velalas?

S.D.Nellai Nedumaran & S.Ramachandran



Page 1      Page 2      Page 3      Page 4      Page 5      Page 6      Page 7


Page 8      Page 9      Page 10     Page 11     Page 12     Page 13     Page 14






Sangam literature speaks about Velir, a clan of royalty, who seem to have ruled parts of Tamil Nadu from very early times. In fact, they were the original kings of Tamil Nadu before it was subjugated by the vendars (emperors) i.e. Chera, Chola and Pandyas. The vendar who established themselves as the masters of the soil married girls belonging to the Velir clan and accorded many privileges and status to the Velir. Some of the Velir seem to have married the daughters of vendar though it was not a common occurrence. In due course, the Velir clan lost its individual identity and was recognised as a constituent of Tamil nobility i.e., Kshatriyas of Tamil Nadu.


Dissimilarities between Velirs and Velalars


Most of the scholars who have dealt with the above subject have either identified Velir, with Velalar or traced the origin of the Tamil Velalar to the Velir clan. They have no doubt studied the subject matter exhaustively but failed to observe the glaring dissimilarities between the Velir and Velalar: First of all, it can be pointed out that the term velanvayil occurs in Perumbanarrupadai. Generally vayil denotes those who serve as intermediaries. (Tol.Purat..28) There is no mention of Velalar in sangam literature but there are lots of references about Velir, connecting them with the rulership over the soil4. But, Tolkappiyam, the eariiest Tamil grammar which is silent about Velir equates Velalar with the Sudra Varna and points out that the only avocation of the Velalar was agriculture. (This clearly shows that the Porulatikaram of Tolkappiyam or Marabiyal must have been written after the Sangam period). The trend of connecting Velalar with agriculture is reflected even today in the term of Velanmai or Vellamai used in the sense of cultivation. The term Velanmai occurs in this sense in Kalittokai (verse 101:45). In a Paripadal verse (no.20, line 63) the term Velalar occurs, in the sense of a ploughman.


Heroic age of Tamils


The Sangam literary works (3rd century B.C.-4th century A.D.) represent an earlier epoch, in which heroism in battle and gallantry in public life, were lauded. It was the heroic age in which the Tamil state was in a formative stage. The process of transformation was recorded in the verses sung by bards, minstrels and poets.


In the archaeological parlance, the Sangam period can be termed as the period of Megalithic civilization in which the torchbearers of the civilization were well versed in iron smelting. They seem to have migrated from other parts of India to Tamil Nadu, probably through Karnataka. The technological advancements of the Megalithic folk naturally lead to their supremacy over other earlier inhabitants of Tamil Nadu including the Velir. The upper strata of the Megalithic folk might have been the vendar. This process was not sudden but which continued for several centuries before and after the Christian era. The earliest limit may be fixed as 8th century B.C. and the later limit as 4th century A.D.


The Institution of Velam


Local chiefs, both tribal as well as republic, who opposed the establishment of the Megalithic people were subjugated and their women folk were taken captive of. This is revealed in some references about Kondi-magalir Pattinappalai and alil pendir in Narrinai. Such institutions of captive women were probably called Velam.  Though there is no mention of the word Velam in sangam literature, references about the institution of Velam and Velatti (mistress as well as servant maid) abound in the inscriptions belonging to 8th to l3th centuries A.D. It will not be anachronistic, if we perceive that this insitution had its origin in the heroic age itself. Children born to such Velattis might have been called Velalar. This interpretation seems to be logical, as, accarding to Tolkappiyam, Velalars were equated with the Dasyus (children of servant maids) mentioned in the Vedas and accorded Sudra status, as per the Varnasrama order, based on the Vedic socio-political system.


Formation of the Velala Caste


The course of socio-political history of Tamils, which faced many vicissitudes, is reflected in successive, literary works. The formation of state, expansion of agriculture through clearing the forests, bringing vast tracts under the plough and starting massive irrigation projects needed manpower.  For tapping this manpower, prisoners of war and men folk born in the Velams were utilised. This naturally led to the entrenchment of Velalar as an indispensable caste in the socio-political hierarchy. This trend which started in the heroic age itself grown fully in the Kalabhra period and is reflected in the post-Sangam works i.e. the didactic literary works like Tirukkural etc.13 which belong to the 4th to 7th centuries A.D.


The Velalar who were born out of wed-lock and who followed the matriarchal system of inheritance gained some sort of recognition, due to their numerical strength and in due course became indispensable, as they gained experience in land revenue administration, after the heroic age (4th-7th century A.D). The Kalabhra interregnum, which had the backing of Jaina and Buddhist clergy probably created a conducive atmosphere for the elevation of the status of Velalar. But this was only one phase of the metamorphosis. In the all India context also, a major transformation was taking place, and that was due to the rapid strides achieved in trade and agriculture under Gupta patronage. Vaisyas, who were previously engaged in agriculture, became full fledged traders and sudras (slaves) became agriculturists. Kula vanikan Chittalaich-Chattanar, the author of Manimekalai (6th century A.D.) is a typical example for the process of the above transformation. His forefathers were probably Vaisyas engaged in agricultural pursuits. Chittalaich-Chattanar, might have become a trader in cereals, and by travelling extensively, might have attained the knowledge about various countries and far off lands, which is reflected in his literary work.


The Velir before Kalabhra Interregnum


The ruling class which consisted of the Velir before the advent of Megalithic civilization (i.e. lOth-8th centuries B.C.) was not totally extinguished after their conquest by the vendar. Those who were prepared to move with the changing times and who proved their mettle in specific instances were recognised as a class of nobility, and some of the Velir were probably appointed as Achan and Enadi (preceptors of martial arts and chiefs of the defense forces) by the emperors. For example, we can cite the name of a Sangam poet Maturai Vel Achan, a Malaiyaman chieftain, Cholika Enadi Tirukkannan, and a Chera general Choliya Enadi Tirukkuttuvan.


An insight on the origin of the Velir


Efforts to trace the origin of the Velir have been made already by reputed scholars. It has been pointed out that the ancestors of Irunkovel, ruled over Dwaraka 49 generations before him. This Puranunuru verse (written around lst century A.D.), which mentions this quasi-historical fact is reliable, as it tallies with the findings of S.R.Rao who has conducted offshore excavations at Dwaraka in Gujarat. The Yadu Kula ancestors (of Velirs) ruled over Dwaraka around 1200 B.C. as per the findings of Rao. Another striking fact mentioned in the above Purananuru verse which has also been proved is that the rampart of Dwaraka was built with capper or stones containing copper ores22. That the soil of Dwaraka area contains copper ore depostis is a fact established by geologists also. It can be conjectured that the Yadu Kula state of Dwaraka represented the Chalcolithic stage of civilization and it was brought to an end by who people knew iron-smelting technology.  The Musala Parva story in Mahabharata can be cited in support of our argument.  The arrogance of the Yadu Kula folk which earned the curse of a Rishi led to the down fall and dispersal of their clan and the accidental death of their legendary hero Krishna by iron implements and weapons (probably by people representing the Megalithic civilization.)

It was after this catastrophe, that the Velirs migrated to Velpulam (Karnataka) and Tamil Nadu.


The origin of Velirs from Tadavu


The origin of Velirs is said to have been from the Tadavu of a northern sage. This sentence, which is found in the Purananuru verse has been interpreted as a reference to the Homakunda or sacrificial pot of a northern sage. But the word tadavu has got another meaning. The words tadam, tadavu or tadakam means a 'water source'. These words are still used in the sense of a spring or a pond in a hill'. If we take this reference in Purananuru to mean a water source in a hill, it tallies with the descriptions found in the historical folk ballad namely the Valangai Malai (1600 A.D.). In this ballad the past glory of the Chanror-(Nadar)-kulam is brought out vividly. The ancestors of Chanror-kulam, according to this ballad, were called Valangai Vel and Velir and they were said to have been born in a spring called Elanchunai through the conjugal union of the Sage Vidyadhara-muni with the seven daughters of Naga Raja.  This description is repeated in many panegyric poems and copper plate documents belonging to the Chanor-kulam.  It is not known whether any social document belonging to other communities contain this reference. This was not a mere folk belief, but a historical fact.  A sect of Chanror or Nadar community called Velan Chanrar has been recorded in the Ceylon Gazetteer published in the year 1824 A.D. 


Velir and Velvi


Even if we take the etymological origin of the world Velir from Velvi [sacrifice], it can be argued that the tribal sacrificial rites as well as modes of worship were conducted with the offerings of water (abhisheka) and not with fire.  Such tribal modes of worship as well as sacrifice were practiced by the Neolithic folk who had not mastered the technology of creating fire.  Even the stories which deal with the origin of deities indirectly point out to this fact.  Muruga Vel, the tribal deity of Kuravars was believed to have been born in a water source.  But later myths describe Murugan as Agni Putra.  This was probably due to the Vedic belief of the purificatory quality of fire.


The theory that the Velir originated from the Homakunda or sacrificial pot, has to be viewed in the context of Madukkol Velvi mentioned in Silappatikaram.  The fermentation of toddy was considered as an auspicious symptom heralding the presence of a divine force.  It will be interesting to note here that Balarama or Valiyon who was related to the Yadukula and who was the Nagaraja was fond of intoxicating brew.  He had the Taladvaja (panaikkodi) as his banner.  The velirs might have discovered the technology of toddy tapping from the palm-tree and his toddy (pennaippili) was equivalent to the Somapana of the Vedic period.  And this Madukkol Velvi might have been the tribal counterpart of the Vedic Soma-yaga, which had its origin in the Neolithic or Chalcolithic period.


It is a point of interest to be that the famous Pari Vel, liberally distributed toddy and beef to poets and brahmins like Kapilar, is mentioned in a Purananuru verse.


The symbol of pot can be taken as the tadavu form which the Velirs were born.  The Melichchanar or Mulikkalattu Olukkavic-Chanror were considered to have hailed from Mushika kula, the clan of Vel Nannan.


The relationship of Velir with Vendar


The word Vel is used in connection with warfare in the Sangam literature.  Even the deities Murugan and Manmatan who were mentioned as Muruga Vel and Kama vel in the Sangam literature, attained the suffix Vel due to their proficiency in warfare.  Murugan was the Deva Senapati and Kama Vel was adept in piercing the hearts of lovers through his five weapons (ainkanai).  Manmatan is referred to as Peruvel (the great hero) in Perunkatai (6th century A.D.).


According to the Puranas, Puru and Yadu were brothers.  The prasasti portions of the copper plate inscriptions of the Pandya kings (9th - 10th centuries A.D.) trace the origin of the Pandyas from Chandra-kula and the King Pururavas.


One verse from Kalittogai, a Sangam literary work, describes that Kudam Chuttum Nallinattu Ayar (probably Ayvelu) who originated from a pot, were cousins of the Pandya kings.  These Nallinattu Ayars were distinct from Pullinnattu Ayar, who were the Ahirs (or Ahiras) the clan which was later accommodated in the Yadava clan as per the hypothesis propounded by Suvira Jayaswal.  Some ruling houses belonging to the Velir clan retained their status and privileges after the conquest of southern India by the kings and other colonisers and gradually claimed the lunar racial origin.  For example, the Velkula Chalukyas who boasted of having Mahasena or Muruga as their progenitor and who claimed to have been brought up by the seven celestial mothers were later identified as the kings of the lunar race.  The Velir who did not forget to mention their Yadukula origin were nevertheless proud of their lunar racial connections.


Connecting link between Velirs and Velalars


One major aspect which was the connecting link, though in a remote manner, between the Velirs and Velalars was the attention shown towards agriculture and land revenue administration by the Velirs in the pre-Sangam period.  Proper irrigation through storing of water and cultivating the soil with plough or Nancil (Skt: ('Langala') were introduced by the Velir clan.  In a sense, Velirs were the organizers as well as managers of the productive forces.  Even the word Velvi attained meaning of production, as it was used in the term Erkkalavelvi later.


The administrative or politico-geographical units of Nadu were organized and administrated by Velirs.  This process was probably initiated around 1000 B.C. in Tamil Nadu, and was in an embryonic stage, up to the advent of the Megalithic civilization.


The term Nadan has been used as an epithet of Velirs in the Sangam literature.  This shows that administration of the tract was based on agriculture and land revenue administration.  But we have to remember that the state was not a well established one with the regular bureaucracy, at that time.  As it was the prehistoric period, the system of governance was kept in the hands of the gana or republics like Vrishnis of Yadu-kula.  The Lichchhavi clan in which Buddha (5th century B.C.) was born can be compared with Velirs.  Even Suddhodana, father of Siddhartha, was said to have been a skilled tiller of soil, according to D.D.Kosambi.


Co-existence of Vel Kulam and Velalar Kulam


Tamil society went through many major changes during the Kalabhra period.  In a bid to reform the institutions of marriage and family, Velalar who were born out of wed-lock, were also accorded some status in the society, and the institution of marriage was introduced among them, by the ruling house of that time.  Kalabhas "of the Kali age" might have been Vaisyas well versed in agriculture.  They might have opted for Velalar status later


Tolkappiyam says that in olden days marital rituals were conducted for the three higher varnas (i.e. Antanar, Arasar and Vanigar) only, but gradually those rituals were introduce among the Velalar also.  As Jainism and Buddhism preferred peaceful avocations, Vaisyas and sudras were patronised by these religions.  Epics like Silappatikaram, Manimekalai and Perunkatai were the products of this period and these epics give vivid details of the changed scenario.


When Pallavas in the northern parts and Pandyas in the southern parts of Tamil Nadu were ascending on the political horizon (6th-7th centures A.D.), they had to take into account the prevailing socio-political environment, and in many cases, they took care to get their orders ratified by the Nattars or local agriculturists.  In some cases, the Pandya kings had to intervene and restore the rights of the earlier title-holders like Brahmins, when their endowments had been encroached by sudras.


In the 9th century, when the Chola empire started its long innings, Velkula Chalukyas were ruling in Karnataka and Ay Velir were ruling the southern extremity of Tamil Nadu.  These Velkula kings were considered as kshatriyas.  The Chinese pilgrim Huen Tsang has testified to this fact.  An inscription belonging to the period of Aditya Chola (9th century A.D.) mentions the title Chembiyan Tamilavel conferred on Vikkiyannan as a caste suffix (kulappeyar).  Similarly the name Ilachchanran nunnurruva perumanagiya chola vel enadi (Tirukkannapuram, inscription can be cited here.)


It gives us a glimpse on the practice of kings conferring the title vel on the monility or people of the royal clan, who assisted them.  In later times (13th century A.D.), when the Chola king Rajaraja III accepted defeat at the hands of Maravarman Sundara Pandya and preferred to be his subordinate, the Pandya king conferred the title Mavel on Rajaraja III.  Such instances show that using the title Vel as a suffix was the prerogative of the kshatriyas.  But the caste name Velalan was not used as a suffix by people belonging to that caste.


Chekkilar, who served as a minister under the Chola reign, and who was a Velalar, mentions the Velir-kulam, as a constituent of royalty and distinguishes it from the Velalar caste, which is denoted by the terms such as Velan-kudi, Sudranar-kulam and nalankulam (the fourth varna).



Vel and Velan were these terms synonyms?


In the inscriptions belonging to the later Chola and Pandya period (10th century A.D. to 14th century A.D.) we come across many officials having the suffix Muvendavelan added to their names.  Some scholars, who have studied this feature, opine that the post of muvendavelan was held by Velalars.  It is true that this post seems to have been connected with land revenue administration.  It seems that some Tondaimandala Velalar like Cirukunra nattuk - karikaikkulattu kandan Madhavan were appointed as velan by Kulottunga Chola.


That the titles muvendavelan and Velan were conferred on officials who were engaged in land revenue administration and that might have been the reason why people belonging to different strata of life and hailing from various castes obtained this title from the successive kings as the Chola reign (10th-13th centuries A.D.) became broad based, encompassing all the subjects through a perfect revenue network.  Local talents and the native genius were taken into account and traditional expertise was incorporated in the Chola revenue set up.  Later Pandya kings also followed the system introduced by the imperial Cholas.  The following evidences can be cited in support of our argument.

  antanar velan (Brahmin)

  tillai muvayiram velan (dikshitar)

  nanmarai velan (one who was wellversed in the Vedas)

  vedi velan (brahmin)

  Srimulasthana velan


These names belonged to the Brahmin caste.  The following names denote men from other castes.


  karaiya vettuvaril velan (fisherman)

  tattan velan (goldsmith)

  vetkovan velan (potter)

  akampati velan (servants in the harem)

  kodukulavan velan (royal clan)

  ukirai vellalar velan (a division of Vellala caste)

  pallavaraiyar velan (Nanadesi merchants or Desikar)

  anukka velan (body guards)

  pillai velar (vellalar)

  tevaradiyaril velan (courtesan caste)

  ettivelan (trader)

  viyapariyan elan (trader)

  chittirameli velan (chittirameli guild)

  araiyaril velan (local chief)

  tondaiman velan

  puvaniya vettuvaril velan

  vanatirayan velan

  akampati mudaligalil velan

  tennilakngai valanchiyaril velan

  panankadi kudiyudaiyar velan

  konga velan

  chera velan

  kudimakkalil velan (velan among the commoners)

  samaya narayana velan

  orriarasrgalil velan (ruler of Tiruvorriyur)

  velarmagam nadalvan


"Vettakkudaiyan . . . . muvendavelan" hunter tirbe "Adittan Suryan ana Tennavan muvendavelan"

  Nadalvaril velan

  ariyapurochan velan

  manikkirama velan

  senatipatigalil velan

  chediraya panmaril velan

  vellaril velan


Nadalvar velans


Senatipati Parakesari Muvendavelan was the brother of Viramadevi, wife of Rajendra Chola I.  He was the chief of the military force and belonged to the Chola royal clan.  But he had the title Muvendavelan.


Another Sena called Solai Manikkam had the title Uttama Chola Muvendavelan.  He served under Rajendra Chola I.


Some officials occupying the higher echelon in the Chola hierarchy had the title Nadalvan.  One such Adaiyur Nadalvan was called Rajarajan Paraniruparakatar alias Viachola Ilangovelar.  He was the lord (kilan) of Nadar in Tiraimur-nadu and lived in the 12th century A.D.  The great scholar T.A.Gopinatha Rao concluded that this Adaiyur Nadalvan must have belonged to the Chola royal clan.  The title Ilangovelar seem to have been borne by the royalty.


Another Nadalvan by name Kulottunga Chola Nadalvan was called Velan Kalaiyavinan.  This Velan alias Nadalvan lived in the 12th century.


One Virudarajabhayankara Murasu Nadalvan is mentioned in an inscription from Bangalore.  He was the son of the Chola Velar who was occupying the post of Nattukkamundar in the 12th-13th century A.D.


Velar Kani and Vellankani: holdings of Government officials


It seems that the title deeds given in favour of these Nadalvars were generally called Velar Kani.  In an inscription belonging to the period of Maravarman Kulasekara Pandya, Nadalvars of the Adanur area (Tirumayam taluk, Pudukkottai District) proclaim that Velar Kudikadu was their traditional holding.  Such instances show that the dominant group among the Velars or Muvenda Valars consisted of the nobility or the royalty.


Some of the Velalars who had the title Velan or Muvendavelan are mentioned in the inscriptions.  The caste name Velalar and the suffix Velan are mentioned separately.  Equating Velan with Velalar caste is certainly wrong.  The terms Vellan Kani, Vellanvagai nilam and Vellan-sudukadu can't be taken to mean the possession of Velalars.  Talaivaychcheri which consisted of Talaivaych-Chanror (nobility who looked after the sluices) had Vellanvagai lands under their possession and Vellan-sudukadu for their use. In another instance, the title holding of a noble man Orri arasan or Orri mannan had been classified as Vellankani.  There is not even a single instance to show that such holdings were the possession of Velalars, where as there are many inscriptional evidences to prove that Velalars were serving as cultivating tenants for the lands of brahmins and Perunkudigal.  So this term Vellan might have been used as an adjective in the sense of direct governmental control and nothing more.


The Chittirameli Periyanattar who originated from the four varnas (chaturvarnasya-kulodbhavam) and who gradually got accommodated in the Velala caste did not claim the title Velan as their prerogative.


Documents belonging to the Kongu Velala gavundars speak of their status as Kumaravargam of Pandya kings.  This statement can be compared with the above

mentioned inscriptional versions of the Chittirameli Periyanattar guild.  Kongu Velala gavundars probably originated from the nobility of the Pandyakulam through the institution Velam.  They were not inclined to claim Kshatriyahood but were content with the status of Velalar.




To sum up, from the statement of Karpiyal of Tolkappiyam Poruladikaram (142) which deals with the marriage systems of the ancient Tamils and the restrictions listed by the commentators like Ilampuranar (11th century A.D.) and Nachchinarkkiniyar (13th century A.D.), it is certain that the Velir who had marital connections with the kings would never have become Velalars.  Ladies of the Velir clan, who were married to kings, were called "velvikkilatti", a high sounding honorific.  Even "Vettal" meant the marital ritual.  The inscriptions, copper plate grants and other documents belonging to later ages also support this view.  Further, one may understand from ancient history that the Velir had rights to possess holdings like royal drum, sceptre, chariots, crown, elephants, etc., in par with the kings.  It has to be remembered here that not even a single copper plate document belonging to the Velala caste claim their origin from the Vel;ir or try to claim the titles Velan or Vellan as theirs.  There is valid ground for the claim of Kshatriyas or the nobility like Chanror-kulam to these titles than for the claim of Velalars.


Notes and References


1. Purananuru 345:7


2. Paditruppattu:

     "Udiyancheralukku Veliyan Venmal Nallini inra makan Imayavarampan Neduncheralatan" - Patikam in II decade)

     "Kudakko Neduncheralatarku Velavikkomandevinra magan Adukotpattuch-Cheralatan" (Patikam in VI decade).

     "Chelvakkadunkovukku Velvikkoman Patumandevi inra magan Peruncheral Irumporai" (Patikam in VIII decade).

     "Kuttuvan Irumporaikku maiyur kilan Venmal Antuvan Chellai inra magan Ilancheral Irumporai" (Patikam in IX decade).

     The term Velvikkilatti which occurs in Silappatikaram is also significant.


3. See "A forgotten chapter in South Indian History" in Prof. V.R.Ramachandra Dikshitar Centenary Volume: "Studies in South Indian History and Culture" edited by Dr.R. Nagasamy.


4. "tonmutir velir" (Purananuru, 24:21, Narrinai 280:8).

    "ventarum velirum pivanau paniya" (Patirrupattu 30:30, 88:13; Ahananuru 331:13.

    "narpattonbadu valimurai vanda velirulvele virapor annal". - Purananuru 201.



"velpor vendarum velirum"

"malaikelunatan Mavelan"

"neduvel atan"

"vattaru vel elinyatan"

"vel velatanelini"

"Vel Pari"



"Velevvi" - Purananuru 24, 233-(F.N), 133, 105, 8, 396, 338, etc.


5. Tolkappiyam., Akattinnaiyiyaal - 31; Marabiyal: 78-81.  The term Sudra does not find mention in Tolkappiyam.  But the caste next to Vaisya (i.e. velalar) can undoubtedly be equated with the Sudra Varna.


6. See S.Ramachandran, "Sangakala Urpattikkaruvigal", Ayvuvattak Katturaigal, Vol.3, 1997, Chennai.


7. Pattinappalai 246.


8. Narinai 394.


9. "Velattup pendatti Kallichchi uttamatani."  See Pudukkottai Inscriptions.  Similar to Velam, Velalar, the Velakkarapadais of Later Cholas originated.


10. Parttipasekarapuram copper plate of Ay King Kokarunantadakkan.  Many scholars have discussed this matter.


11. Tolkappiyam: Marabiyal., 81.


12. Forced labour (vishti or vetti), and two types of prisoners of war i.e., dasa and britya, are mentioned in the inscriptions of Asoka (See: "Past and Prejudice" by Romila Thapar).  According to Tamil tradition, Karikala Chola took many soldiers from Dam as captives and engaged them in the construction of the grand anaicut across the river the Kaveri.  There were many such instances in history.


13. Patinenkilkanakku or the eighteen minor works.


14. Tolkappiyam.


15. Suvira Jayaswal, Changes in the Status and concept of the Sudra varna in early middle ages, I.C.H.R., 41st session proceedings.


16. Purananuru 305.


17. Ibid.


18. Ibid, 394.


19. See: Prof. V.R.Ramachandra Dikshitar Centenary Volume.


20. Purananuru 201. The title "Settirungo" mentioned in this poem means "Jyesta Irungo" and in some 8th century inscriptions, Irungovels are mentioned as Irunko muttaraisaru (ancient Irungo kings)


21. S.R.Rao (un published report).


22. Ibid.


23. Purananuru 201.


24. Tamil Lezicon.


25. A.Dasarathan, ed. Valangai Malai (in print).  Chennai; Nellai Nedumaran(ed).  "Chanrorkula Samutaya Avanangal" - Tiruvidaimarudur copper-plate, etc.  See also: "Decline and Fall of Vellai Nadar" by S.D. Nellai Nedumaran and S.Ramachandran, 1997.


26. Ceylon Gazetteer, 1824.


27. In a seal belonging to the Sangam period discovered at Karuvur (Karur district, Tamil Nadu) by Alakkudi Arumuga Sitaraman is engraved an inscription written in the Brahmi script.  It reads as 'Velich Champan'.  The word Veli can be derived from the verb vel (to do sacrifice).


28. Tirumurugatruppadai., lines 253-54, Perunkatai 42:229.31.


29. Silappatikaram. 3:28:149, The term homakunda seems to have been derived from Somakunda.  It seems that Irungovel, who was also called "Settirungo" (Jyeshta Irungo), performed Somayaga.  In the Kasakkudi plates of Pallava, one recipient of the grant was called Settirungo Somayaji.


30. Pattinappalai, 89.


31. Purananuru, 113.


32. Ibid. 20 etc.


33. Perunkatai, 42:55-56.


34. Pandiyar Cheppedugal, 10.


35. Kalittogai. 113.


36. Ibid.


37. Suvira Jayaswal, Vainavattin torramum valarchiyum.


38. Pingalanigandu, 416.


39. Travancore Archaeological Series, I, pp.187-93.


40. S.Ramachandran, op.cit.


41. Ibid.


42. Purananuru, 24: 18-22, 117:3.


43. Ibid. 135:13.


44. Ibid.


45. D.D.Kosambi (Tr. Indiyavin Nagarikamum, Panpatum Atan Makkalum).


46. Tolkappiyam: Porul, Karpiyal, Nachchinarkkiniyar commentary.


47. Pallankoyil copper plate grant of Simhavarman (6th century A.D.), Sasanamalai, published by S.Rajam, Chennai, 1960.


48. Pandiyar Cheppedugal Pattu (Tamil) pp.38 and 135. Ep.Ind., Vol.XVIII., pp.291-309.  One Settirungo Somayaji is mentioned as a donee in the Kasakkudi copper plates of Nandivarman Pallavamalla II, (Pallavar Cheppedugal Muppadu, p.146).  His name suggests that his ancestors were patronised by the Settirungovel kings, for having performed the Somayaga.


49. The meykirtti of Rajadiraja L. in: Muppadu Kalvettugal, 1992: Also see: Senthan Divakaram (Nikandu).


50. Huen Tsang, (Asian Educational Services).


51. S.I.I., Vol.III, Part III, No.89.


52. The Meykirtti of Maravarman Sundara Pandiya.


53. Even the Pandya kings, when their power was waning, used to be called as Vel.  Sivala Maran, the Tenkasi Pandya king (16th century A.D.) was called Sivala Vel.  See: Sivalamaran katai, U.V.Swaminathaiyar Library, 1982, Chennai.  In the inscriptions belonging to 1552 and 1564 A.D., the names of the then Pandya kings have been mentioned with the suffix Vel. S.I.I., Vol. XXVI, Nos.538-39.


54. Periyapuranam: Idankali Nayanapuranam - verse 3: 'annakarattinilirukkum velirkula arasalittu'.  Cheruttunai Nayanar Puranam - verse 2: 'tiruntu velankudi mudalvar .... Cheruttunaiyar; Ilaiyankudi Maranayanar Puranam - verse 1: 'Suttira narkulam .... Ilaiyankutippati Maranar'; Eyarkon Kalikkama Naynar puranam - verse 207; Nalankulattil Perukunalam udaiyar .... velanmai mikka tirunayiru kilavar'.

Please refer to the term, "Kodumbalurk Kuricugal" S.I.I., Vol. VIII, No.624.


55. Tiruvillimilalai; S.No.567-568/1977, Nannilam volume, Tamil Nadu Archaeological Dept.


56. S.I.I., Vol.7, No.43.


57. Tiruvilimilalai, S.No.575/1977, Nannilam Volume, Tamil Nadu Archaeological Dept.


58. S.I.I., Vol.7, No.499.


59. S.I.I., Vol.22, Part I, No.198.


60. Avana Idal 3, Pulavar S.Rasu, p.22.


61. S.Krishnamurthy, Vikkiramasingapura Ula, p.93.


62. S.I.I., Vol.XIV, No.233.


63. S.I.I., Vol.XXII, No.239.


64. Tiruvisaiyalur, Varalaru, Vol.5, 1995, p.9, Nannilam, Vol.55/1977.


65. Pudukkottai Inscriptions.


66. Nannilam Inscriptions No.471.


67. Pudukkottai Inscriptions 471.


68. Varalaru Idal 3; Alundur Inscription, Pudukkottai Inscriptions.


69. Pudukkottai Inscriptions, 312.


70. Ibid., 97.


71. Sasanamalai, p.33; Tiruvahindirapuram, Kadalur.


72. Nannilam Inscriptions, Vol.I.S.No.17/1977.


73. S.I.I., Vol.XVII, No.695; Vol.XXVI, No.320.


74. Pudukkottai Inscriptions: Tirugokarnam, Alankudi vattam; S.Ramachandran, "Murampan Inscriptions."  Varalaru Idal 5, 1995, S.I.I., Vol.V.No.466. Nan. Kal 26/1977.


75. S.I.I., Vol.IV, No.862.


76. South Indian Temple Inscriptions, Vol.III, p.666.


77. Pudukkottai Inscriptions, No.715.


78. Ibid. No.338.


79. Ibid. No.995.


80. S.I.I., Vol.XIV, No.157.


81. S.I.I., Vol.V, No.281.


82. Pudukkottai Inscriptions, No.541.


83. S.I.I., Vol.VII, No.788.


84. S.I.I., Vol.XXVI, No.276.


85. S.I.I., Vol.XVII, Nos.701, 708, 722, 725.


86. Epigraphia Carnatika, Vol.IX, Kolar 186; Bangalore 85.


87. S.I.I., Vol.XXIII, No.401.


88. S.I.I., Vol.VII, No.797.


89. Tirikkodikka Inscriptions, AREp., 1931, No.46.


90. A.R.E.p., 1918, No.75; 1915, No.XXIII, p.118. S.I.I., Vol.23, No.1.


91. Pudukkottai Inscriptions, No.372.


92. A.R.Ep., 1918, No.434; 1913, No.56; Pudukkottai Inscriptions, No.36. S.I.I., Vol.III, Part 2, No.68; S.I.I., Vol.XXIII, No.485.


93. A.R.Ep., 1915-16, p.118.


94. S.I.I., Vol.XXIII, No.1, Tiruvisaiyalur.


95. T.A.Gopinatha Rao, Sentamil, Pilavanga Varusham, Karttigai Madam, p.49.


96. S.I.I., Vol.XXIII, No.401. Perukaranai, Mudukulattur.


97. Epigraphia Carnatika, Vol.IX, Bangalore 85.


98. Pudukkottai Inscriptions, No.395.


99. Peruvudaiyar Temple Inscriptions, (Dr.R.Nagasamy, p.150): "Vellan chudukadum, Kottarangalum, Talaivaychcheriyum, Ilacheriyum, Kammanachcheriyum..."


100. S.I.I., Vol.VIII, Nos.570,689.


101. "Piramanar peyaral peyarkkadamai chutti Vellalar agangalil pukku kodukkadu diyavum" - Inscriptions from Mannarkudi, (12-13th century A.D.), S.I.I., Vol.VI, No.58.

Perunkudigal peyaral kadamaikku Vellalarai chiraippidittalivargal agangalil odukkudal cheyyakkadavadalladakgavum-S.I.I., Vol.VI, No.48.  Another inscription from Tiruppatirippuliyur (S.I.I., Vol.VII, No. 759) says that in the reign of Perumal Vikkirama Pandya (14th century A.D.) Vellalar, Alavar, Palligal and Parampar served as cultivating tenants to Brahmins.  Similar instances are recorded in other places also.  (For detailed study of Perunkudigal......)


102.  "Largest Provincial Organizations in Ancient India."  - by K.V.Subramaniya Aiyar.  QJMS., Vol.55 (1954-55).


103. Palaiyappattu Vamsavali Tokutigal: Palaiyakottai Pattakkarar Avanangal.


104. Kongu Mandala Samudaya Avanangal, ed. by S.Rasu, Tamil University, Tanjavur, Kannakula Pattayam, p.91.




Many scholars and friends have discussed this matter with us and assisted in preparing this paper.  The help of the following scholars is acknowledged here.  T.Sathyamurthy, Dr.M.D.Sampath, S.Rajavelu, K.Karuppiah of the Archaeological Survey of India, R.Poongunran, S.Krishnamurthy of the Tamil Nadu State Department of Archaeology, K.Padmanaban of the Saraswati Mahal Library, Thanjavur, G.Tillai Govindarajan of Alakkudi, A.Ganesan, Er.T.Thangavel and Dr.A.Thasarathan of Chennai.