--> Skip to main content

Ennayiram Village in Tamil Nadu – Ancient Center of Vaishnavism and Vedic Institutions

Ennayiram is a village in Vikravandi Taluk in Villuppuram District of Tamil Nadu and it figures in the Chola records of the 11th century AD. A strong center of Vaishnavism, the place was also known as Rajaraja Chaturvedimangalam. It was a flourishing center of Vedic scholars and had an important Vedic institution of the era. The place is around 18 km from Villuppuram.

The name ‘Ennayiram"’has an interesting etymology. In Tamil, it means ‘eight thousand’. According to local belief, 8,000 Jainas embraced Brahmanism here. The Tamil poet, Kalamegam, famous for his puns, belonged to Ennayiram.

A long inscription in Tamil, running to 28 lines and about 1,000 years old, was  discovered in 2002 AD at the Alagiya Narasingaperumal temple here. The temple, originally called Raja Raja Vinnagar Alwar, has a surfeit of inscriptions in Tamil. They belong to the Chola and Vijayanagar dynasties. The earliest of these inscriptions belong to the reign of Chola Rajendra I (1012 -1044 A.D.)

Ancient Center of Vaishnavism and Vedic Institutions in South India

A record of Rajendra Chola I, engraved in the Vishnu Temple here, gives graphic details of the Vedic institution maintained by the village (sabha).

The record mentions the strength of the institution, the different courses offered, the remuneration for the teachers, the different grades of students and the expenditure incurred for maintaining them.
There were fourteen teachers to teach different subjects – three each for Rig Veda and Yajur Veda, one each for Chandogya, Talavakara Samas Vajasaneya, Baudhyaniya, Grihya, Kalpa, Kathaka, Vyakarana, Prabhakara, Vedanta and Rupavatara.

There were 340 students overall, out of whom 270 were junior students (Brahmacharin) and 70 were senior students (chatras).

Among the juniors, 40 studied grammar according to Rupavatara, and the rest were learning Vedas.

The breakup of the classes is given as
70 students for Rig Veda
75 students for Yajur Veda
20 for Vajasaneya
20 for Chandogya
20 for Talavakara sama
Ten for Atharva
Ten for Baudhayaan Grihya
Ten for Kalpa
Ten for Gana.

The seventy senior students studied advanced subjects – 25 studied Vyakarana, 35 studied Prabhakara Mimasa and ten studied Vedanta.

The record gives interesting details regarding the pay and allowances given to the teachers and students.

Besides these, four persons were appointed to recite sacred Tamil hymns, Tiruvaymoli, in the temple and to attend to the feeding of Sri Vaishnavas in the matha attached to the temple, as well as for conducting festivals and worship there.

Similar Vedic institutions flourished during the chola period at other place such as Tribhuvanai near Puducherry and Tirumukkudal. 

Notes Taken from - Encyclopedia of Hinduism Volume IV – India Heritage Research Foundation – Page no 38.