Bharat Ek Khoj


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The Chola Empire Part-II
(Episode 23)

In order to employ the best architect the royal messenger reaches a remote village where the designated architect is preoccupied with a village temple. He is almost forced to abandon his project and come to the Chola king along with his sculptor assistant. Fortunately, later, he is allowed to revert to his village for one year to complete the work there as preparation here would take that much time. Meanwhile, the encounter between Raja Raja and 'Rajmata' hurtles to a showdown as the king reveals his plan to build the grandest of all temples in his own name. Raja is even prepared to fight against the fledgling Chalukya king Satyashreya if a demand for a large Shiva Linga (phallus) from the Narmada riverbed is not met.

The architectural plan models the universe with sanctum santorum as the mount Maru and icons of the gods are facing appropriate direction. The temple would be surrounded by walls with in which there would be priestly abodes and out side the walls would rise a brand new city of traders and common man. Soon arrives the mammoth shivalinga, the like of which has seldom been seen. On hearing the enchanting Bhajan on shiva on Chidambaram temple being son in a procession, the king ordains those talent musicians to be brought here .

Any religious procession out side would used a bronze icon of Shiva with Nadaswaram accompaniment while the stone icon would reside inside the Temple. A minor affair of heart between the young sculptor and the royal princes is settled short of capital punishment for the farmer, with the due regard to his talent. So-brihadisvara temple comes up as one of the loftiest in India. The son raja Rajinder Chola builds a similar temple near by Gangaikunda Chola Puram. He dies in 1044AD. And the empire stutters to fall.

Nehru pauses here to note that in the 1000 years since the first century AD, waved after wave of Indian colonists spreed east and south east to reach shrilanka, Birma (mianmar) Malaya, Java,Sumatra, Borneo, Siam (Thailand) Combodia and Indo-China. Some of them manage to reach formosa (Thaiwan), Philippines and selebes. What led to these extraordinary expeditions across the perlousseas. One cardinal feature of these adventure must have been trade and commerce as a supreme passion in India followed by spread by Indian civilization and culture overseas.