Ancient Educational Centre in Bahur

Inscriptions at the Mulanatha Svami Temple show donations towards a college dedicated to the fourteen branches of learning

Bahur, a small town about twenty kilometres from Puducherry, is home to an old Siva temple wherein the deity is worshipped as Mulanatha Svami. The place, originally called Vahur, is of historical importance and epigraphs discovered in this temple state that the main deity, now known as Mulanatha Svami, was originally worshipped as Mulasthanam Udaiya Perumanadigal and also as Parameshvara. The Bahur temple, which is not very large, possibly belongs to the time of the early Chola rulers of Tamil Nadu. In the niches of the outer walls of the main sanctum are images of Nritta (dancing) Ganesha, Dakshinamurti, Vishnu, Brahma and Durga of the 10th century.

Below these are carvings of dancers in various poses and musicians playing different instruments. Many inscriptions are seen etched on the stone walls of the Mulanatha Svami temple in Bahur even today. A few belong to the reign of the Rashtrakuta king, Krishna III of the 10th century CE. Chola epigraphs here record many gifts to this temple. Vahur was called Azhagiya Chola Chaturvedimangalam in the Chola times of the 11th century CE.

An important and historical copper-plate inscription discovered close to this Siva temple in Bahur in 1879 belongs to the 8th year of the reign of the Pallava king Nripatungavarman. This bilingual record, dated c.877 AD, consists of two portions, the first in Sanskrit and the second in Tamil, and mentions an educational endowment (vidya bhoga) made to a college of learning called Vidyasthana in Vahur. The donation, made by the king’s minister called Marthandan or Nilaithangi, consisted of three villages, the income from which was to be enjoyed by the residents of the seat of learning at Vahur. The copper-plates record that the fourteen branches of learning (chaturdashavidya) which included the four Vedas, six Vedangas, Mimamsa, Nyaya, Dharma Sastras and Puranas, were taught in this educational institution.Read more

Source web page: New Indian Express

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