Madhuravijayam of Gangadevi, ‘The Hindu’ reportage – notes & hope


I got to read a ‘story’ written about the brilliant Gangadevi, thanks to a tweet from a fine/balanced scholar who I respect and regularly read – Sri TS Krishnan.

(…otherwise I wound not have, because I treat ‘The Hindu’ with the disdain that it so richly deserves… :-( – but then Sri Krishnan, no offence meant, keep ’em comments / tweets / recommendations coming, don’t get discouraged by nitpickers like yours truly, okay?)

I understand, it is after all, only a Newspaper story, that too from the lowly, despicable ‘The Hindu’ – so it need not be taken seriously and all that; but I must also admit that, by and large, surprisingly for ‘The Hindu,’ this story is still a significant exception & reasonable – though I have to suggest a few corrections and present facts. Please bear with me in the interim…


The problem with Madhuravijayam is that, I had already started seething with rage, a while back, as it has already been grossly distorted and, my dear Gangadevi has been misrepresented in my dear & abysmal ‘modern’ Tamil litter-ature.

…Of course, I understand very well that, without prompt, timely and valorous intervention from Vijayanagar Empire (as detailed out in Madhuravijayam), our Tamil country also would not have had any temple structure worth speaking of, including in our Tiruvarur, Gangaikondachozhapuram and Thanjavur… … Such was the jihadi frenzy of the idol breakers, in those days.

So, this is not about the basic history – but rather about the way the report has been written, the usual ‘The Hindu’ way, as under…

  1. It is MaDHUravijayam, NOT MaTHUravijayam. Please. Will the author write Garunanidhi instead of Karunanidhi? ‘The Gundu’ or ‘The Mandu’ instead of ‘The Hindu?’
  2. Madhuravijayam’s another title was NOT ‘Veerakamparaya Charitram’ – but ‘Veerakamparaya Charitam‘ – It has been written as a Kaavya  – in vaidarbhi style. There is lots of history and biography in there, but it is still Kaavya.
  3. The manuscript (MSS) was not discovered in a private collection. It was in the custody of the chief/head Pandit Sri N Ramaswami Sastri – Office of the Curator for the publication of Sanskrit works, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.
  4. Even before Srirangam Krishnamacharya who published Madhuravijayam, it was published from Tiruvananthapuram, in Sanskrit (Devnagari) with annotations in English.
  5. In 1916, first Tiruvananthapuram edition (in devnagari script + annotation) came out, edited by G Harihara Sastri and V Srinivasa Sastri. A revised edition came out in 1924. Subsequently, there have been may editions from various places.
  6. We do not (yet) have a full MSS of Madhuravijayam. It abruptly starts at palmleaf #109 and ends at #169. A few palmleaf pages are missing in the middle. Only five sargas can be assumed to be completely intact. We do not really know how much of Madhuravijayam is lost, even. (I really wonder how the author has rather confidently written  “Her original nine chapters” and all that!)
  7. Madhuravijayam was of course written in Sanskrit originally, maybe in a Nagari script, but the available version has been written in Grantham lipi.
  8. Beyond ‘reportedly’ reporting that a Telegu edition is there, the details: There was NO Telegu edition; there was only an edition with Sanskrit commentary, from Andhra. It was published by Potukuchi Subrahmanya Sastri of Tenali, with his own commentary ‘Bhaavaprakaashikaa‘ in 1969. (This is a fine, annotated Madhuravijayam; the author claims in his introduction to his work that this is a second version of his original commentary in Telegu – ‘Sahrudayaranjani.’ He also claims that he is indebted to Madhuravijayam’s previous editors (पूर्वमुद्रापका:) while not specifically talking about the Tiruvananthapuram editors as above; so there is a possibility that perhaps, another MSS existed/exists that was available to PS Sastry, may be?)
  9. None of these Madhuravijayam editions are ‘hard to find.’ Many are available off the Internet. From Some available at Connemara and Madras University libraries, even!
  10. In 1920s, Madhuravijayam was apparently a prescribed textbook for BA (Group#4) in Madras University.
  11. Another interesting (to me) observation is that, Madhuravijayam seems to have been very prominent  and acted as a ‘model to be emulated’ as pointed out by G Harihara Sastri.
  12. As opposed to what the ‘retired archaeological officer’ points out…  …there is ample evidence about the campaigns to corroborate what Gangadevi has said, in many inscriptions that have been logged/created during the period (including from a Siva temple in Achcharawakkam, Tiruvannamalai, Eyil and many others) as also in Srirangam temple ‘diary’ Koil-Ozhugu – apart from of course, Ibn Battuta’s chronicles. Epigraphica Indica has also indexed many of the relevant inscriptions – from Vol 3 to 12, I think.

…Okay. ‘nuff said.

The ‘The Hindu’ reportage is otherwise fine, and I also heartily agree that:

The people of Madurai owe a great deal to Kampana for saving the city, and to Gangadevi for documenting its famed temple in pure poetry for posterity. Do we not need to tell these stories to our children?

We should, we MUST.

But not like how an overenthusiastic ‘Cuddalore’ Seenu or even an otherwise talented Jeyamohan – writes on historical matters, sorry.

And, of course,  we Tamils owe a GREAT, GREAT deal to the Vijayanagara Empire, for having literally saved our Culture from a steep fall, if not from a total decimation!


…One of my pet peeves and laments (only for the past 35 years or so!)  is, the fact that, we as typical Tamils and as Bharatiyas, do not know much of our own history at all. Not even the ‘handed down’ histories authored by Western and those of the rather mediocre & substandard Indian Coconut Twistorians such as the ‘celebrated’ Romila Thapar.

We do not understand the well established facts that, actually –  say, the roots of Calculus, De Morgan’s laws, Binomial classification, Vaccination, ‘Plastic’ surgery etc etc and many many others, spanning across many a knowledge realm, were from our land, from our Indic traditions. And to top it all, we somehow ‘understand,’ thanks to our (still!) colonial + missionary brainwashing that, whatever little we know as Science is of western/Greek origin. That, but for our Colonial masters, we would have all, continued to be mere dummy-pieces.

We NEVER get to know (or are even interested in knowing!) anything significant about our historical pasts – except ‘caste’ – that too, at a half-baked level! Not even a single significant Indian scientist of yore, is EVER mentioned anywhere in our textbooks, thanks to our Marxist twistorians. With no stellar person to look up to from our knowledge traditions, and having only the distant Newtons and Galileos to look up to & admire in awe — it is no wonder that we suffer from a massive (and absolutely uncalled for) inferiority complex. Yes, our avararanas of avidya have to be lifted. It is possible.

Yes, sirs and ma’ams – there is no excuse anymore. Internet is there, the Gangaji of Information and Knowledge is there. Also, it is oh so easy to identify and to get in touch with real scholars in any given subject!

We need to merely drink of the nectar, and work on solid EVIDENCE based Analysis and Connections – unlike Romila Thapars and Irfan Habibs. (Um, it is not so easy, sorry – but any endeavor worth pursuing is not easy! It may take a  decade or two, to come to well-reasoned and finely articulated conclusions, but, believe me, when it happens, it would be really liberating and awesome!)

And, of course, the corollary would be that: Bharat shall reawake in glory.

Really. Oh, the hope.




2 Responses to “Madhuravijayam of Gangadevi, ‘The Hindu’ reportage – notes & hope”

  1. Gopinath Varadharajan Says:

    ..And, of course, the corollary would be that: Bharat shall reawake in glory…
    ததாஸ்து :) My sincere wish as well.

    Took me almost 10+ years to come to grips..reading both sides, all the sides (without emotion!!)

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