ancient indian history

Nilambur Copper-plates

Inscription number 56.

Nilambur Copper-plates of Ravi-varman (497-537 A.D.)

Regnal year 5.

The Inscriptions of Ravi-varman, present well documented records of  donative, religious, and agrarian practices of the kadambas. The inscriptions especially Guḍnapur Pillar Inscription of Ravivarman, highlights details of religious and political performance of the Kadamba empire and it’s policy of donation of lands to promote irrigation activities.  Nilambur copper plates, is a proof for Kadambas ruling over Kerala. Perhaps these Nagas had settled in Kerala  & mixed with the natives. 

Nagapada thali was the most important jewelry worn by  Nair women during ancient times. As the name indicates it is associated with Nagas identity of Nair women. Along with Sarpa Kavu, it would hint at Naga heritage of many Nair clans.

Provenance: Banks of chaliyar stream at the spot called Gramani Kadavu, near Nilambur, Eranadu taluka,

Malabar district. Kerala.

Script: Brahmi

Language: Sanskrit.

Metre: v.1 श्लोक अनुष्टुब 

Footnote 1.


1. similar to that the Kudgere plates of Vijaya-Siva-Mandhatrivarman, Ep.Ind, VI, pp.12), of the plates of

Vijaya-Siva-Mrigesavarman (Ind.Ant, VII, pp.37) and the Halsi plates of the reigns of Ravivarman and Harivarman

(Ind.Ant, VI, pp.25-32.)

References: T. A Gopinatha Rao and G. Venkoba Rao, Ep.Ind.,

VIII, p.146-49.

Footnote 2.

1. From the facsimile in Ep.Ind, VIII, Plate between pp148 and pp.149.

2. Dravidian r: Kirupasani is unknown. Mogalura is perhaps identical with either Mugur or Mullur both

near Talakad.

3. Dravidian, Multagi is mentioned in the Kongani plates

of Kongani-Mahadhiraja (Rice, Mysore Inscriptions pp.233)

as forming the eastern boundary of the village Badaneguppe, granted to Sri-Vijaya-Jinalaya of Talavananagara, which latter is identical with the modern Talkad on the Kaveri, and Badaneguppe is about 9 km. south of Talkad on the

other side of the river.

4. Between 11.7 and 8, starting from the middle of the line,

is a later inscription  पश्चिम न (न्द) र ( स )

i.e. to the west is Nandarasa village).

Footnote 3.

1. This epithet, in one form or the other is invariably adopted in their grants by all the Kadamba kings, cf, Santivarman’s grant (Supra IV, 54 and Ep.Ind. VIII, pp.32, 1.8, v.22) षडानन: यमभिषिकतवाननुध्यात सेनापति मातृ भिस्सह 

The number of divine mothers is variously given as six

seven, eight or even sixteen. They attend upon Karttikeya (or some times even siva). That is why Karttikeya is

also called shanmaturah.They are listed as: ब्राहमी माहेश्वरी चैव वाराही चामुण्डा सप्त मातर: !

 ब्राहमी माहेश्वरी चण्डी वाराही वैष्णवी तथा !!

कौमारी  चैव चामुण्डा चर्चिकेत्यष्ट मातर:

See Apte’s Sanskrit- English, Dictionary under मालृ.

Footnote 4.

This phrase is variously translated, e.g. Kielhorn (Ep.Ind, VI, pp.15): studying the requital (of good or evil) as their sacred text’ and T. A Gopinatha Rao

and Venkoba Rao (ib, VIII. pp.146), who were well-versed in repeating the sacred writings one by one.

Scholars have failed to note the intended emphasis on the fact that each member of the dynasty was well-educated.

The construction of the phrase, however, is odd and confusing.


English Translation of the inscription.

Hail The pious king Sri Ravivarman of the family of the kadambas, who were anointed after meditating on the

Lord Mahasena and the group of the mothers, who belonged to the lineage of the Manavyas, who were the sons of Hariti, everyone of whom had attained mastery of studies and discussion, who were sinless on account of being purified by the bath at the conclusion of horse-sacrifices, and who

were like mothers to their dependent people, at the prosperous and victorious city of Vaijayanti, on the full

moon tithi of  the month of Karttika in his increasingly victorious fifth year, gave to Govindasvamin, belonging to the lineage of Kasyapa, and well-versed in the Yajurveda, the hamlet named Multagi along with Malkavu, situated on the eastern side of the village named Kirupasani in the Mogalur

district, with all exemptions, the libation (lit. by pouring) of water, and with a present of gold, towards the increase

of his own merit Considering this, he who, whether belonging

to the Kadamba family, or an alien, influenced by passion,

hatred, greed etc., takes away (this grant) may be soiled with the five great sins. He who protects it, shares the reward of this merit. And it has baen stated,The earth has been

enjoyed by many kings commencing with sagara to whomsoever, at any time, the earth belongs, to him for the time being belongs the reward, May blessings be fall on the cows and

the Brahmanas and well-being come to the subjects!


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