Saint Manikkavacaka  and Kalamukhas

(Identification of Kogali)


A place named Kogali is found  as the Capital of the territorial division also named Kogali 500, in Bellari District of Mysore.[1] There existed a Saiva matha, headed by learned scholars belonging to the branch known as Simha-parishad of the Kalamukha sect. A military clan led by a commander Tikkanna set up Lingas named Nulambesvara and Lenkesvara and gifted lands for worship of the two gods. The grant was approved by the Kalyani Chalukya king Somesvara in the year 1045 AD. An inscription recording this grant is engraved in Uddibasavanna temple at Morigeri a village near Kogali. The record mentions that the gift was made while washing the feet of Somesvara Pandita of the Simha-parishad. Another inscription[2] from the same temple of Udda-basavanna records that some more lands were gifted in the same year to the god Nulambesvara by the same donor while washing the feet of the same teacher Somesvara pandita. Both the  records identify the teacher Somesvara as the desciple of Jnanesvara pandita, and desciple's desciple of Maleyala Pandita deva. This Maleyala Pandita deva was in charge of the temple of Ramesvara at Kogali and was very influential in the region. Several inscriptions in the region refer to him with great veneration and many succeeding priests of this school are mentioned as recipients of veneration and honours from the kings[3]. Obviously Kogali played an important role at the beginning of the 9th cent and it was the centre of the Kalamukha asectics upto the 12th cent.AD.


Almost at the beginning of the 9th cent, the Kalamukhas are also seen at Nandi hills near Mysore.[4]


A Siva temple named Samasta-Bhuvanasraya-devalaya built around 800 AD by Vijayaditya II, the Eastern Chalukya ruler, at Vijayawada (ancient Vijayavati), is also of interest to students of Saivism. The temple was headed by one Kalamukha priest Pasupati-deva also called Lakasipu. He is one of the earliest  Kalamukha priest known.[5] 150 years later another ruler of the Eastern Chalukya dynasty, Amma-raja II gifted four villages to the god of the same temple, Samasta-bhuvanasraya-devalaya. The grant was made in 950AD. The inscriptions says that the temple was established (about 825AD)by Vijayaditya Narendra mrgaraja (799-847). Ammaraja made the gift for the increase of his country, lineage, life, health, and supremacy, in order to provide for temple repairs, bali, naivedya music and for a free feeding house. The teacher Pasupati is said to belong to Simha-parishad of the Kalamukha school of Saivism in the record. The successors of this parishad were very active and influential in the region receiving royal patronage.


The Vijyavata inscritpion records the greatness of the Kalamukha teachers both in the mastery of Vedas and agamas and severe  observance of asceticism.  According to the inscription numerous munisvaras beginning with Lakulisvara appeared in  various ages of the world, and they resembled Rudra. They became self incarnate on earth as teachers of the path of dharma. In that succession came the Kalamukhas who were proficient in the Veda (sruti mukhyas) and worthy of homage by the kings. The record adds,  those munisvaras are the beneficent lords of this sthana of simha-parishad.  In the lineage of the those Kalamukhas,  who were residents of many ancient temples, such as that of Amaravatisvara,  there arose a munipa named Lakasipu, who was the lord of Sri and who understood completely the agamas. He fed his holy body only on water, vegetables, milk, fruits, and roots.


Against this background may be viewed the reference to Kogali by the famous Tamil Saiva saint Manikka-vacaka.[6] Manikkavacaka refers to Lord Siva as the  Guru ruling Kogali.

 Kogali anda gurumani tan tal valga.

There are several references in Mankkavacaka's verses to Kogali

The king of Kogali = Kogalikku arase[7]

The ruler of Kogali = Kogali meviya kove[8]

The Lord of Kogali = Kogali yen Koman[9]

Tamil scholars, commenting on Manikkavacaka's Thiru-vacakam verses, have given different interpretation to the term Kogali. Venkatasami nattar identifies Kogali with  Thiruvavduturai a village in Tamilnad, that now houses one of the leading Saiva mathas in Tamilnad. He states this village was also known as Kogali and Gomukti. The Siva temple here is called Gomuktisvaram. He also refutes the views of earlier scholars who identified Kogali with another village Thirupperunturai. He cites the Poem Kuyir pattu which lists Kogali in one verse, Uttarakosamangai in another and Thirupperunturai in another and holds these are three different places.[10] S,Dandapani desikar, another renowned scholar also holds Kogali identical with Thruvavaduturai.  He also refutes the view that Kogali is identical with Thirupperunturai.[11] The evidences adduced for identifying the village with Thiruvaduturai are not convincing. According to traditional accounts of  Manikka vacaka  the saint received initiation in the hands of Lord Siva himself  at the village Thirupperunturai under the Kurunta tree.[12] The Saint calls Siva as Guru-mani, the Lord of  Kogali. It may be mentioned that the Teacher who initiates a disciple is identified with Lord Siva himself in the Saiva system. Obviously the human teacher who initiated Manikkavachaka is identified with Lord Siva himself. Prior to his initiation Manikkavacaka served as a minister to the Pandya ruler Varaguna who is identified with Varguna II who ruled towards the end of 9th cent.[13] This leads us to some interesting chronological events.

The Pandya ruler, Varaguna ruled from Madurai his capital. The famous temple at Kodumbalur built by the Bhuti, also known as Vikramakesari was inspired by a Kalamukha teacher named Mallikarjuna.[14] The inscription recording the building of the temple states that Bhuti after having built the temple in his name and in the names of two wives,  presented a big matha - brahad matha, to Mallikarjuna, who was the disciple of two teachers Vdya-rasi and Tapo-rasi. Mallikarjuna was the chief ascetic of the Kalamukha sect to whom eleven villages were presented for feeding fifty ascetics of the Kalamukha sect called in the inscription as Asita-vaktras. This teacher Mallikarjuna belonged to Madurai where obviously there existed an influential Kalamukha matha. The Kodumbalur record belongs to the end of the 9th cent. almost the same period as that of Saint Manikka-vacaka. There is also a Kannada inscription of the same period[15] at Kodumbalur pointing to the connection between Kodumbalur and the Kannada country. The editors of the Tandikonda inscription of Ammaraja  giving details of the lineage of the Kalamukha ascetics identify the two teachers Vidya-rasi and Tapo-rasi the teachers of Mallikarjuna of Kodumbalur as contemporaries of King Amma II of Andhra[16]. Mention has already been made to the earliest reference to the Kalamukhas coming from Mysore datable 810 AD. As the famous Kogali has been mentioned in a number of records of Andhra -Bellary regions as an influential centre of the Kalamukhas it has been surmised by scholars that the Kalamukhas spread to the Chola and Pandya country in the 9th cent and established mathas there. Madurai was one such important centre[17]. Manikkavacaka served at Madurai during this period  as a minsiter to the Pandya. It is not unlikely that he was influenced by this school and the teacher who initiated him at Thirupperundurai was a Kalamukha saint. It explains the repeated occurrence of the place name Kogali in Manikkavacaka's poems. The way in which the saint mentions Kogali with reverence, further strengthens the view that he belonged to the Kalamukha school of Vedic Saivas of Andhra-Mysore region. There could be no doubt that  Kogali mentioned  in Manikka vacaka's poems is identical with Kogali the important place of Kalamukhas in Bellary District.


[1]David N.Lorenzen, The Kapalikas and Kalamukhas, Thomson Press , New Delhi; 1972. P.143

[2] Ibid p.144

[3] Ibid pp.144-46

[4] Bhavaraja and Krishna Rao. V, Tandikonda grant of Amma Raja II , Epigraphia Indica Vol.XXIII, Pp 164-165

[5] Ibid

[6] Several editions of Saint Manikkavacaka's Thiru vacakam are availablein print. Thiruvacakam. Saiva Siddhanta samajam, Chennai, 1938,Sivapuranam.Line 3

[7] Hymn. Pandaya nanmarai, verse 5

[8] Hymn Porri thiru akaval, line 157

[9] Hymn Pandaya nanmarai, verse 1

[10] Venkatasami nattar commnetary on Thiruvacakam

[11] Dandapani Desikar.s, Thiruvacakam with commentary, Thieuvavduturai

[12] Ibid

[13] Nagaswamy.R. Thirupperunturai a Yoga pitha sthala, in Art and Culture of Tamil nad, Sandeep Prakashan, Delhi, 1980, p66

[14] Nilakanta Sastri.K.A., The colas, reprint , The University of Madras, Madras, 1984, P.648: Nagaswamy.R., Thiruttani and Velanjeri Copper plates, Pub by Tamilnad State Department. Of Archaeology, Madras, 1979.pp.14-15

[15] Epigraphia Indica, Vol.V,P.221

[16] Epigraphia Indica, VolXX III, p.165

[17] Nilakanta Sastri, Ibid. p.648 Prof. Sastri also discusses other centres of Kalamukhas in Tamilnad in this page.