Twice last few months; we had visited Uttaramerur (as spelt by Kalaimamani Dr.Nagaswamy, retired-Director of Tamil Nadu state Archeaology Dept. Most write up is diligently reproduced from his book, Uttaramerur which gives a full detailed information on the temples, history, the stone inscriptions, the people, etc.) And were fascinated by the Grandeur and splendor of the town (village?) This place, a historically important site, has beautiful pieces of history with it, intact, some lost and some trying to regain glory.
Called as Uttarameru Chaturvedimangalam , Rajendra Chola Chaturvedimangalam, Vijayagandagopala Chaturvedimangalam, Vadameru Mangai, Uttaramelur, Pandavavanam, Panchavaradha Kshetra ( sorry for the spellings, I slightly modified against what is seen in the book, to encourage correct pronunciation) .
Established by Nandivarma II Pallava in 750 AD, two temples
1) Sundaravaradha temple (a model for our Ashtalakshmi temple in Besant Nagar) whose statues are made of lime mortar and stands against time till today, walls adorning great natural colored paintings, as well as
2) The Kailasanathar Temple (which is in ruins and our REACH team has started the renovation work!!!) – with the help of the Sundaravaradha Temple trustee, Mr.Seshadri and his team's efforts) were almost built immediately.
3) Also a stand out is the Vishnu temple, near the current bus stand. This temple is now under the ASI maintenance.
This temple holds the stone inscriptions almost covering the whole periphery of walls as well as platforms raised to preserve the stone inscriptions which talks about ADMINISTRATION AND DEMOCRACTIC RULES laid out by the then Chola rulers!! (920AD Paranthaka Chola).
The highlights of the rules are briefed here:
The election process!
The nominees' names written on a pre-designed palm leaf and drop in the common pot (Kodavolai in Tamil). On the election day, amidst all seniors, officials and common public, the oldest priest of the temple selects few from the pot randomly and transfers the content into another pot. From this, one name is picked by a small boy amidst the crowd, who does know what the contents of the pot are! This is read out by the chief election officer and thus agreed upon. So goes the full lelection for various heads, committees etc.
The nominee should fulfill the following criteria:
-He must own more than a quarter veli of tax paying land
-He must live in ahouse built in his own site
-His age must be below 70 and above 35
-He must know the rules and the intricacies of the law (Mantra-prahmaana) and be capable of explaining it to his people
-If the nominee has just 1/8 th of the stipulated land, then also he is eligible if, he has learnt the veda, and one of the four bhashyas (commentaries) and be able to explain to others.
Among those who possess the foregoing qualifications:
-Only those who are well conversant with the business and running affairs will be taken and
-One who possess honest earnings, whose mind is pure and who has not been on any of the committeesfor the last three years shall also be chosen.
The disqualifications are:
-One who has been in any of the committees but has not submitted the accounts, or one who has accepted bribe in any form and all his relations, specified below, shall not have their names written on the pot-tickets (contestants).
-The sons of the younger and elder sisters of his mother
-The sons of his paternal brother of his mother
-The Uterine brother of his father
-His Uterine brother
-His father in law
-The husband of his uterine sister
-the sons of his uterine sister
-the son-in-law who had married his daugther
-One against whom incest (agamyagamana) or the first four of the five great sins are recorded;
All his relations above specified shall not contest after one stands for election in the same given year.
And further disqualifications are:
-One who is foolhardy
-One who has stolen the property of another
-One who has taken forbidden dishes of any kind and who has become pure by performing expiation
-One who has committed sins and has becoming pure by performing expiatory ceremonies
-One who is guilty of incest and has becoming pure by performing expiatory ceremonies
All these thus specified shall not dare to commit suicide after elections, those who have their names written on the pot-ticket for any of the committees.
Further there had been committees for all activites like tank and water management, accounts authority, CBI, and what not those found guilty at the time of being in ower are removed immediately, if there bad deed comes to light!
And so goes this fullbook, authored by Dr.Nagaswamy in his bilingual book (Tamil & English) UTTARAMERUR. Also mentioned in the book arethe various other temples in the nearby vicinity, there importance, the street names having gods and goddess names, the various educational trusts, the social activity, festivals and so on. The book is available at all leading book stores as well as in front of the Sundara Varadhar Temple at Uttaramerur.
One who reads this can only sigh a deep breadth as the nostalgia is infectious! We really yearn to go back in the time machine to really live in such a great city UTTARAMERUR. Uttaramerur is just an hgours drive from Chennai by car, near Chengulput and the temple renovation work of the Kailasanathar temple will soon start with the guidance of REACH founding members.