Introduction -Talagunda is a very small village in Shimoga district of Karnataka. This sleepy village came into the lime light on the discovery of a very important Kadamba inscription by B L Rice in 1902. The village has been referred as Sthala-Kundura, Sthana-Kundur and Sthana-kunja-pura.
The antiquity of this village can be dated back to the Satavahanas as the Talagunda pillar inscription mentions that the temple here was worshiped by the Satakarnis. The presence of these Satakarnis can also be established from the nearby village of Malavalli where an inscription of theirs from the Chutu line has been discovered. However, as no proper excavation has been taken up till now therefore there are no archaeological evidence to support this. In a recent conservation-cum-exploration work near the temple, few gold coins have been discovered.
Though there is nothing mentioned about the foundation of Talagunda in the early Kadamba inscriptions, but in the inscriptions of the later Kadambas, there are stray references of the foundation of this village. An inscription dated 1091 CE (Epigraphia Carnatica vol VII, no 186, 177, 178 & 185) mentions that Kadamba Mukanna (Trilochana or Trinetra) brought thirty-two Brahmin families from Ahicchatra and settled them in an agrahara near Sthana Kundur. B L Rice mentions that according to some accounts there were 12,000 Brahmins of thirty-two families and according to other accounts thirty-thousands.
This puts Talagunda among the earliest agraharas. An agrahara refers to a Brahman settlement where Vedic teachings were provided. Agraharas were promoted by the royal houses and attracted various grants and donations.
An another later inscription, the Kargudari record of the Hangal Kadambas (Bombay Gazetteer), mentions that Mayuravarman came from the Himalayan regions and brought with him eighteen Brahmans from Ahichhatra and established them in Kuntala region. Though attributed to different Kadamba personality, but inscriptions talk about some migration from Ahicchatra to Karnataka region. If it is true, then what was the need of such a migration? Were there shortage of learned Brahmins in this region, or it was just an attempt by the later Kadambas to connect themselves with some North Indian dynasties as observed among various other small dynasties of that time.
Monuments – There are few temples in the village, however the most important one is Pranavesvara temple. Virabhadra temple is another temple of importance.
Pranavesvara Temple – As per the inscription found here, it is mentioned that this temples was worshiped by earlier rulers including the Satakarnis. This puts back the antiquity of the temple at least to the Satavahana period. However the present structure is not of the Satavahana period but of the early Kadambas. Explorations around the present structure had revealed brick structure of the Satavahana period.
The temple is a small square building consisting of a garbhagriha and a sukanasi. There is a huge Shivalinga inside the sanctum. The garbha-griha doorway jambs are carved out of Kadamba inscription stones, the workmanship of the doorway is of a later period, perhaps of the eleventh century CE.
Inscriptions – Talagunda has been famous for its pillar inscription which revealed and clarified many mysteries surrounding the Kadambas and their origin. Lewis Rice on the discovery of this inscription in 1902 writes, “No more important or interesting inscription has been discovered in Mysore, whether we regard its contents, its style or its execution; and it has attracted much attention in Europe”. He further writes, “This learned inscription is full of interesting and important matter from beginning to end. It gives what appears to be a realistic and true account of the origin of the Kadamba line of kings, free from numerous legends that are current regarding this. In fact, the various lines of the inquiry it suggests well-nigh inexhaustible”.
- Talagunda pillar inscriptions – Epigraphia Indica vol VIII – datable to fifth century CE on paleographic basis – language Sanskrit, characters box-headed southern alphabet – The record is written by poet Kubja, under the order of the Kadamba king Santivarman. Its immediate object is to record that Santivarman’s father Kakusthavarman constructed a great tank near a Shiva temple at Sthala-kundura where Satakarnis and other kings had formerly worshiped. Then the record mentions about the Kadamba family who belonged to Manavya gotra and descended from Haritiputra. It mentions that the Kadambas were a Brahmin family devoted to the study of Vedas and performer of sacrificial rites. They got their name from the fact that they carefully tended a Kadamba tree which grew near their home. Now once upon a time a member of this family, Mayurasharman, went with his guru, Virasimha, to the city of the Pallavas (Kanchipuram) to study sacred writings. Mayurasharman became exasperated with a Pallava horse-rider (soldier) that he abandoned his priestly vocation and took up sword. Mayursharman defeated the frontier-guards of the Pallavas and occupied the forest stretching to the gates of Sriparvata (Srisailam). He levied tribute from the Great Banas and other kings, thus caused much trouble to the Pallava kings. The Pallavas, recognizing his valor and ability, made a compact with him by which he entered in their service and eventually received a territory of his own, bounded on the west by the sea and on the east by the Prehara. Mayurasharman was anointed as a king of this territory. His son was Kangavarman, and his son was Bhagiratha. Bhagiratha’s son were Raghu and Kakusthavarman. Kakusthavarman’s daughter was married to the Gupta kings.
- Pranaveshvara temple right door jamb inscription – Archaeological Survey Report of Mysore 1911 – The record starts with invocation to Pashupati and mentions a certain Kakustha belonging to Bhatari dynasty. His mother, Lakshmi, is said to be born in the Kadamba family. It registers a grant of money for feeding thirty residents of Sthana-kunja-pura. This Kakustha of Bhatari family might be a feudatory under the Kadambas.
- Pranaveshvara temple left door jamb inscription – Archaeological Survey Report of Mysore 1911 – the record mentions queen Prabhavati, the wife of the Kadamba king Mrgeshavarman, and the mother of Ravivarman. She is said to belong to the Kekaya dynasty.
Some interesting threads from the Talagunda pillar inscription
The Pallava Connection – There is no doubt left about the rebellion of Mayurasharman against the Pallavas. Also, that he carved out a separate territory out of the Pallava country. In this case, it would be worth noticing that the Pallavas would have conquered over the Chutus as there is no mention of the Chutus in this inscription. The inscription clearly states that Mayurasharman got a territory from the Pallavas.
As per the inscription, Mayurasharman was anointed by Shadanana. Shadanana means ‘having six faces’ which Kielhorn took as a reference to Kartikeya however D C Sircar thinks that it is a veiled reference to the Pallava monarch who anointed Mayurasharman.
D C Sircar suggests that the reading of ashvasamstha is taken as a horse-rider by Kielhorn, however the passage might be taken as “ashva-samsthena kalahena” meaning quarrel during ashvamedha sacrifice. In the early Pallava rulers, only Shiva-skanda-varman and Kumarvishnu are attributed to have performed the horse sacrifice. This connects Mayurasharman with the Pallava king Shiva-Skanda-varman as Kumarvishnu is supposedly ruling about the end of the fourth century CE. Therefore, Shadanana in the inscription is a veiled reference to the Pallava ruler Shiva-skanda-varman.
S Sankaranarayanan explains on what might have happened which led to conflict between Mayurasharman and the Pallava soldiers. He tells that a ghatika refers to an educational institution for promoting Vedic studies and is supported by the state. The conflict arose between Mayurasharman and the Pallava cavalry can be surmised from the procedure observed in putting questions to candidates at a ghatika. Sankaranarayanan points to Bhatta Someshvara, commenting on Kumarila Bhatta’s Vartika, elucidated what is meant by the questions asked in the ghatika-marga.
He says, “Different symbols denoting different portions of the Vedas were written on bits of palm-leaves or some such things (lekhyas). They were put into a ghatika, otherwise known as kumbha (pot). When a candidate appeared for their examination in the Vedas, these lekhyas were taken out by lot and questions were asked accordingly. It is obvious that this device can be used for unfair purposes. Whether the Pallava cavalry officer was present, in the campus for supervising the drawl of the questions by lots, has not been stated. It is possible that Mayurasharman wanted to learn horse riding and was ridiculed by the cavalry man.
The Gupta Connection – The Talagunda pillar inscription mentions that Kakusthavarman married his daughters to the royal families of the Guptas and others. For the other royal families, we have evidence that the Kadamba family was associated matrimonially with the Western Gangas and the Vakatakas.
Who could be this Gupta king? Kshemendra’s Auchityavicharacharcha has comment on a verse from Kuntaleshvaradautya. It says that the Gupta ambassador was sent to Kuntala and was insulted by the king there. This Kuntala king cannot be a feudatory under the Guptas otherwise he would not dare to insult their ambassador but he must be a feudatory under some other suzerain.
Bhoja’s Sringaraprakasha and Mankhaka’s Sahitya-mimansa quotes the same verse of Kuntaleshvaradautya, adding that the Gupta ambassador was Kalidasa sent by Vikramaditya. But in that case how to explain the response given by Kalidasa to his sender as Kalidasa tells Vikramaditya that Kuntalesha developed a carefree attitude having transferred the burden of his worries or government to Vikramaditya.
S V Sohoni takes the Kuntala king as of the Kadambas. He tells that the Kadamba king whose court Kalidasa might have visited could be either Bhagiratha, as he held the tile Kuntalesha, or Raghu. The marriage between the Guptas and the Kadambas might have taken place during Chandragupta II’s or in Kumaragupta I’s reign.
Various scholars have taken different opinions on the Gupta king to whom the daughter of Kakusthavarman was married or in whose reign this marriage took place. The varied opinions are:
- Samudragupta – G Buhler
- Chandragupta II – V R Ramachandra Dikshitar
- Kumaragupta I – Tej Ram Sharma, H Heras
- Skandagupta – N Lakshminarayana Rao
Prehara – B Lewis Rice read it as Premara, while Keilhorn as Prehara. Dr. V Raghavan suggests that the correct reading would be Prehara, and points to Avantisundari of Dandin where mention of Prehara is found among the rivers of Aparanta forest. S V Sohoni identifies it with Pravara river in Ahmednagar district. This river joins Murala and later the combined stream joins Godavari.
- Tungabhadra – F Keilhorn
- Krishna – N Lakshminarayana Rao
- Pravara – S V Sohoni
How to Reach – Talagunda is situated about 45 km from Banavasi, 20 km from Soraba and 7 km from Siralkoppa town. As the village is tagged on Google maps hence you can easily find directions to reach there. As this is a very small village hence there is no proper shop/hotel for food. Accommodation can be availed at Banavasi.
- Gopal, B R (1997). Epigraphical Studies. Directorate of Archaeology & Museums. Mysore.
- Hultzsch, E (1981). Epigraphia Indica vol VIII. Archaeological Survey of India. New Delhi.
- Ramachandra Dikshitar, V R (1952). The Gupta Polity. Motilal Banarasidass. New Delhi. ISBN 8120810244.
- Rice, B L (1897). Mysore – A Gazetteer, vol II. Archibald Constable & Company. Westminster.
- Sharma, Tej Ram (1989). A Political History of the Imperial Guptas. Concept Publishing Company. New Delhi. ISBN 8170222516.
- Sircar, D C (1939). The Successors of the Satavahanas. University of Calcutta. Calcutta.
- Sohoni, S V (1979). Guptas, Kadambas, Pallavas and Kalidasa published in The Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute vol 60 no ¼. Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute. Pune.
- The Annual Report of the Mysore Archaeological Department of the year 1932. Government Branch Press. Mysore.