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Gandaraditha Chola I
கண்டராதித்ய சோழன்
Reign 950–956 CE
Predecessor Parantaka I
Successor Arinjaya
Queen Sembiyan Madeviyar
Issue Madhurantaka
Father Parantaka I
Born Unknown
Died 956 CE

Gandaraditha Chola (Tamil: கண்டராதித்ய சோழன்) succeeded his father Parantaka I and became the Chola king c. 955 CE.[1]


  • Turbulent period 1
  • Reluctant ruler 2
  • Co-regent 3
  • Queen and heir 4
  • Contributions to Tamil literature 5
  • Notes 6
  • References 7

Turbulent period

From the death of Parantaka I, to the accession of Rajaraja I in 985 CE, Chola history is obscure. During this period of 30 years there were five princes who must have occupied the throne. There are several theories surrounding the rapid ascension to the Chola throne.

One was that there were internal feuds among the different members of the royal family. The other is that the effects of the Rashtrakuta invasion and the defeat of the Chola army at Takkolam resulting in the death of heir-apparent Rajaditya Chola (the first in line to the throne - "aanai mael thunjiya devar") must have brought large-scale disorder in the kingdom.

The second theory has more merit since the sons of Parantaka I (specifically Gandaraditya and Arinjaya) must have also fought along with their brother, Rajaditya in that epic battle and must have been variously injured and died rapidly. Thus, Parantaka I was forced to get his grandson Sundara Chola (the son of Arinjaya and probably the oldest surviving prince) to be the heir-apparent.

Reluctant ruler

As noted earlier, the eldest son of Parantaka I, prince Rajaditya lost his life in the battle of Takkolam (c. 949 CE). Takkalom is identified with the area around present day Arakonam in the North Arcot district.[2] Parantaka I must have made his second son Gandaraditya as heir apparent.

Gandaraditya was a reluctant monarch and focussed more on religious work and not on empire building. The Tondaimandalam continued to be occupied by the Rashtrakutas and Gandaratitya did not seem to have made any attempt to retrieve it. It is not clear if this is because he was uninterested in war or that he was assimilating his position south of the Paalar River and cutting his losses to keep Eelam (which was fast slipping out of Chola control) and to keep a resurgent Pandya Kingdom at bay.

For the time being, the martial Chola power seemed to have been toned down but trade (especially maritime) continued to flourish. There are only very few inscriptions to be found that could be directly attributed to him and this may be because earlier inscriptions were consciously deleted by later Uttama Chola who undertook the task of converting South Indian temples into granite from brick-and-mortar under the "Kalpani" scheme. The conscious decision by Uttama Chola is mentioned in his inscriptions at Kanchipuram.

He spent more time in religious discourse. He is credited with writing a Tamil hymn on Siva of the Chidambaram Temple.


Very early in his reign Gandaraditya must have made his younger brother Arinjaya co-regent and heir-apparent. It is possible that Gandaraditya was without issue for a long time and in attempt to secure the continuation of the Vijayalaya dynasty, Gandaraditya made his brother heir apparent.

Queen and heir

Gandaraditya's queen was Madevadigalar alias Sembiyan Madeviyar who bore him a son called Madhurantaka Uttama Chola. This must have been very late in his life. At the time of Gandaraditya’s death (c. 956 CE), Uttama Chola must have been a young boy, as he was set aside in the order of succession and Arinjaya took over the Chola crown. Sembiyan Madeviyar survived her husband for a long time. She seems to have been a pious lady as she figures in several inscriptions, making donations to various temples. She died c. 1001 CE during Rajaraja’s reign. She seems to have come from the Chera country.

Gandaraditya was also known as "Merkey elundarulina devar" - the king who was pleased to go west. The meaning of this phrase is not clearly understood but could possibly mean the king who went west to Kerala. There are claims that Gandaraditya in his later life adapted the Jain faith and went to the Kannada land in the west of the Chola country with a Jain ascetic named Loka-pala acharya. This claim does not have many supporters amongst historians especially because of his Saivaite background and his wife's and son's continued persuasion of this faith.

Contributions to Tamil literature

It has been widely accepted by researchers of Tamil literature and Saiva religious scholars that Gandaraditya was the author of a Thiruvisaippa on Siva at the Temple of Chidambaram.[3] In this there is a distinct statement that Parantaka I conquered the Pandya country and Eelam (Sri Lanka) and covered the temple of Nataraja with gold. The author calls himself the king of Kozhiyur (Uraiyur) and the lord of the people of Thanjavur. It is not clear when he composed this poetry and whether it was he who covered the Chidambaram shrine in lieu of his father, or if it was done at Parantaka I's term.

The following is the Thiruvisaippa:

கண்டராதித்தர் அருளிய திருவிசைப்பா

கோயில் - மின்னார் உருவம்

மின்னார் உருவம் மேல்விளங்க வெண்கொடி மாளி கைசூழப்

பொன்னார் குன்றம் ஒன்று வந்து நின்றது போலும் என்னாத்

தென்னா என்று வண்டு பாடும் தென்தில்லை அம்ப லத்துள்

என்னார் அமுதை எங்கள் கோவை என்றுகொல் எய்துவதே? 1

ஓவா முத்தீ அஞ்சு வேள்வி ஆறங்க நான்மறையோர்

ஆவே படுப்பார் அந்த ணாளர் ஆகுதி வேட்டுயர் வார்

மூவா யிரவர் தங்க ளோடு முன் அரங்(கு) ஏறிநின்ற

கோவே உன்றன் கூத்துக் காணக் கூடுவ தென்று கொலோ. 2

முத்தீ யாளர் நான் மறையர் மூவா யிர வர்நின்னோ(டு)

ஒத்தே வாழும் தன்மை யாளர் ஓதிய நான்மறையைத்

தெத்தே யென்று வண்டு பாடும் தென்தில்லை அம்பலத்துள்

அத்தா உன்றன் ஆடல் காண அணைவதும் என்றுகொலோ? 3

மானைப் புரையும் மடமென் நோக்கி மாமலை யாளோடும்

ஆனைஞ் சாடும் சென்னி மேலோர் அம்புலி சூடும்அரன்

தேனைப் பாலைத் தில்லை மல்கு செம்பொனின் அம்பலத்துக்

கோனை ஞானக் கொழுந்து தன்னைக் கூடுவது என்றுகொலோ? 4

களிவான் உலகில் கங்கை நங்கை காதலனே ! அருளென்(று)

ஒளிமால் முன்னே வரங்கி டக்க உன்னடியார்க்(கு) அருளும்

தெளிவார் அமுதே ! தில்லை மல்கு செம்பொனின் அம்பலத்துள்

ஒளிவான் சுடரே ! உன்னை நாயேன் உறுவதும் என்றுகொலோ? 5

பாரோர் முழுதும் வந்தி றைஞ்சப் பதஞ்சலிக்(கு) ஆட்டுகந்தான்

வாரார் முலையாள் மங்கை பங்கன் மாமறையோர் வணங்கச்

சீரான் மல்கு தில்லைச் செம்பொன் அம்பலத்(து) ஆடுகின்ற

காரார் மிடற்றெங் கண்டனாரைக் காண்பதும் என்றுகொலோ? 6

இலையார் கதிர்வேல் இலங்கைவேந்தன் இருபது தோளும்இற

மலைதான் எடுத்த மற்ற வற்கு வாளொடு நாள்கொடுத்தான்

சிலையால் புரமூன்(று) எய்த வில்வி செம்பொனின் அம்பலத்துக்

கலையார் மறிபொன் கையி னானைக் காண்பதும் என்றுகொலோ? 7

வெங்கோல் வேந்தன் தென்னன் நாடும் ஈழமும் கொண்டதிறல்

செங்கோற் சோழன் கோழி வேந்தன் செம்பியன் பொன்னணிந்த

அங்கோல் வளையார் பாடி யாடும் அணிதில்லை அம்பலத்துள்

எங்கோன் ஈசன் எம்மி றையை என்றுகொல் எய்துவதே. 8

நெடுயா னோடு நான் முகனும் வானவரும் நெருங்கி

முடியான் முடிகள் மோதி உக்க முழுமணி யின்திரளை

அடியார் அலகி னால்தி ரட்டும் அணிதில்லை அம்பலத்துக்

கடியார் கொன்றை மாலை யானைக் காண்பதும் என்றுகொலோ? 9

சீரான் மல்கு தில்லைச் செம்பொன் அம்பலத் தாழிதன்னைக்

காரார் சோலைக் கோழி வேந்தன் தஞ்சையர் கோன்கலந்த

ஆரா இன்சொற் கண்டரா தித்தன் அருந்தமிழ் மாலை வல்லார்

பேரா வுலகிற் பெருமை யோடும் பேரின்பம் எய்துவரே. 10



  1. ^ Epigraphy, by Archaeological Survey of India. Southern Circle, page 11
  2. ^ Historical Perspectives of Warfare in India: Some Morale and Matériel Determinants
  3. ^ The History and Culture of the Indian People, Volume 4, page 157


  • Venkata Ramanappa, M. N. (1987). Outlines of South Indian History. (Rev. edn.) New Delhi: Vikram.
  • Nilakanta Sastri, K. A. (1935). The CōĻas, University of Madras, Madras (Reprinted 1984).
  • Nilakanta Sastri, K. A. (1955). A History of South India, OUP, New Delhi (Reprinted 2002).
  • Epigraphy, by Archaeological Survey of India. Southern Circle
  • Historical Perspectives of Warfare in India: Some Morale and Matériel Determinants, by Sri Nandan Prasad, Centre for Studies in Civilizations (Delhi, India)
  • The History and Culture of the Indian People, Volume 4 by Ramesh Chandra Majumdar, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Bhāratīya Itihāsa Samiti
  • The Twelve Thirumurai -
Preceded by
Parantaka Chola I
950–957 CE
Succeeded by
Arinjaya Chola
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