The Kudimiyamalai Inscription on Music

Kudimiyamalai Inscription on Music

The Kudumiyamalai Inscription on Music, whose Royal patron, if not its creator was the famous PallavaMahendravarman- I, is situated in Pudukkottai  Taluk in Trichirapalli District. The Inscription occupying a space of about 13’X14’ is engraved on the slope of a rock in the Sikhanathaswami Temple in Kudimiyamalaai. Although the Inscription was discovered in 1904, its musical import was brought to the notice of Scholars by Dr. T.N. Ramachandran during the session of the Indian Historical Congress held at Bombay in 1931 and published in the journal of Oriental Research Vol. VII. There is also another inscription on Music in the rock-cut Siva temple at Tirumayam, 14 miles South of Pudukkottai. This Inscription and the one at Kudymiyamalai belongs to the early Seventh Century A.D.

The authorship of these two inscriptions is to be attributed to Mahendravarman –I for more than one reason as noticed below:

(1) The design of King Mahendravarman-I is clearly revealed in the Mamandur Inscription. The king with unquenching zeal wanted to achieve to achieve on the Vina, what could be achieved by the voice, which in turn refers to another imperative statement made by the king and recorded in Tirumayam.

GunasenaPramananjeydaVidyaParivadini” – Karkappaduvadukanmeaning the Vidya established and confirmed by Gunasena should be played on the parivadini” Similar is the design in the Kudumiyamalai,

(2) The title “Gunasena” which means myriad quality means the same as “Gunabhara” and “Gunadhara” – “one who is endowed with all Gunas” and “one who bears all Gunas” respectively titles already known from Trichirapalli as of Mahendravarman – I. Tricirapalli was Pallava Teritory. Kudumiyamalai is near Trichirapalli and so within the Pallava Teritory like Mamandur.

(3) Trichirapalli bears the needed reference for Mahendravarman’s Musical Talents Sankirnajati and change of faith from Jainism to Saivism. Sittannavasal is also near Kudumiyanmalai which is a product of the King whose earlier faith to Jainism is alluded to in Trichirapalli Inscription. The sum total of the evidence would point out Pallava Mahendravarman-I as the author of Kudumiyamalai inscription. The titles that occurs in the upper cave at Trichirapalli emphasise our point namely “Sankirnajati”,“chitrakarapuli”,”Gunabhara”, “Mattavilsa”, and Manacehettakari”. “Gunabhara” bears comparison with Gunasena, mentioned here and Sankirnajati bears reference to his ragas being Sankirnaragas that we find in the text of the kudumiyamalai Inscription. In ancient India Jati was the term by which raga was referred to. In would thus be normal as in the case like this, to attribute this Inscription to Mahendravarman – I, a well know king than to a less known or unknown king or chief. The fact that at Mamandur Cave temple there is a one line inscription in the late Grantha character which reads as

pa-sa-sa-sa-da-sa indicating svaras, shown the continuity in the practice of reference to the Mahendravarman inscription at Mamandur by later date Musicians.

(4) The Musical Instruments which was used for such results as have been incised on the adjoining rock was mentioned as Parivadhini as revealed by a label- Inscription; which is further attested to by the sculptural representation of the Parivadini (yal) at Tirumayam Cave Temple nearby

(5) Palaeographically the character point out 7th century A.D. as the possible date of the inscription. The evidence of Paleography is supported by the architecture of the cave which is in Mahendra style, in which Temple is a cut-in monolithic cave temple with pillars with a central octagonal belt between cubical parts. Thus the external evidence furnished by architecture and palaeography and the internal evidence furnished by the text of the inscription go to prove that Mahendravarma-I was the author of Kudumiyanmalai Inscription.

The Kudimiyanmalai inscription commences with an auspicious term “Siddham” followed by NamahSivaya” meaning Salutation to Siva”. The text is divided into 7 sections; each of the seven sections is arranged in sub-sections with a maximum of & in some and a minimum of 4 in some other places, each having 16 sets of 4 notes under headings differently ascribed as

1) MadhyamagrameChatushpraharasvaragamah– the Svaras of Madhyamagrama arranged in groups of four.


3) Shadava





On the extreme right end of the bottom of the Inscription is a colophon at the right hand Margin reading as “RudracharyasishyenaParamamhesvarenarajnasishyahitarthamkritahsvaragamah”.

Just below this colophon, a note in Tamil character“ EttirukumElirkkumIvaiUriya” is added.

The Kudumiyamalai Inscription is a notation on SankirnaJati or Misra ragas invented by Mahendravarnan-I. Most of the ragas of the Inscription are met with in the Devarappans of the early 7th century A.D. The first section Madhyama Grama approximately corresponds to the HarikambhojiMela; ShadjaGrama is Kharaharpriya. Shadaba(va) corresponds to the Pan Sikamaram which is the same as Nadanamakriya raga; Sadharita of Sadhari pan corresponds to the raga Pantuvarali 51stmela); Panchamais Pan Panchamam same as Ahiri raga;Kaisikamadhyama is based on the svaras of Sankarabharanawhich was known as Pan PazhamPanjuram. The last section is based on the notes Mechakalyani raga.

The Music of the inscription was mainly intended to be played on the Vina and is the result of the experiment that the author of the inscription conducted on yal (Parivadini) and the vina. It is mainly a sruti prastara of the svaras of the grama and jatis mentioned in the inscription made by this from which new ragas have been evolved.
Important contributions made by this inscription are as follows:

(1) The evolution of new ragas by the permutation and combination of srutis, of svaras, of the basic ragas by the permutation and combination of the svaras themselves.

(2) Suggestion of some of the melakartas that have become popular after the advent of the 72 melakartas.

(3) The concept of the 22 srutis and the concepts of the vivadi svaras and the enharmonic changes of names of notes.

(4) How vowels changes were adopted to indicate note varieties.

(5) The development of Gamaka and allied matters related to it such as important landmark in the evolution of the Vina, the development of finger technique, the disappearance of the Yal and the gradual emergence of the modern Vina

By Dr. V.Premalatha, M.A., (Ph.D.)
Professor of Music,  S.R. College, Tiruchy.


  1. S.Vasanthi
    3 years ago Reply

    There is also a book written by same author on KUDIMIYAMALAI inscriptions I have seen on line book store

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