Tuesday, April 25, 2017

How irresponsible journalism by Dinamalar ruins good intentions

I am really pained to write this post in Aalayam Kanden where I have refrained from writing anything other than information on lesser known temples. The readers and patrons have stood by me in every effort over the years, both in the blog as well as through the Aalayam Kanden Trust.

As many of you may be aware, in July 2014, author Venkatesh Ramakrishnan, invited me to be part of the cultural mapping of the Cooum river. Over the next two years, I was able to do an extensive study of the heritage sites along the river with the able guidance of Mr Vaidyanathan Ramamurthy. I used the Koova Puranam and the Inscriptions of Madras Presidency Volume 8 by Mr T V Mahalingam, both of which I procured with great difficulty over many months as the source of my study. The complete details of the project have been documented here chronologically  https://www.facebook.com/groups/CooumCulturalMapping/ 

At every step, I consulted with senior historians like Mr Sridharan K, Deputy Director Retired, State Archaeology Department, Ms Padmavathy Anaiappan, Senior Epigraphist, Dr Sankaranarayanan G, Asst. Professor of the Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Viswa Maha Vidyalaya of Kanchipuram on the inscriptions, and the findings. Through the study, we did not expect to find anything new, or claim that we did.

One of the significant information we came across in the T V Mahalingam compilation was an inscription at Sitrambakkam on the Cooum trail that speaks about the earliest found inscription of a structural temple. It was also one of the early Pallava Inscriptions in Tamil.

Excerpt from T V Mahalingam Volume 8 Page 543
This was discussed at length with Prof. Sankaranarayanan, who said it had been published in Epigraphia Indica too as an article. The same was also collected.

Mr Vaidyanathan and me, along with Mr Balaji, TTE, Tiruvallur,  visited Sitrambakkam on 1st October 2015 (the date stamp can clearly be seen in the pictures) to verify the existence of this stone.

Further we also took a group of enthusiasts on a heritage trip to this location in October, through a publicly advertised facebook event, the details of which can be found here:

Couple of heritage enthusiasts who accompanied us on the trip also wrote blog posts about this site, after the trip.


I had included this site in my book The Gods of the Holy Koovam published on February 12, 2017 on Page 19 where clearly the source from where the inscription was read is mentioned.

The book was released by Mr K Sridharan of the State Archaeological Department and all proceeds of the same were given to support the Madras Literary Society library. A number of print, digital and visual media covered the event and wrote about it. All the books have since been purchased and those who hold copies can also verify this information there.


Notably among that was Dinamalar which had written about the book launch and also mentioned the Sitrambakkam inscription in their coverage.

The reporter Mr Sivakumar had requested for more information on the Cooum temples so that he can do his bit in conserving them. Therefore, I first sent an article on the Kesavaram temple which was correctly published by Dinamalar. It did bring a lot of attention from the ASI to the temple, which was heartening to see,

Wanting to protect the Selliamman temple inscription too, that lay in the open, I wrote an article on it and sent it to Sivakumar, which I reproduce below.
அன்புள்ள திரு சிவகுமார் அவர்களுக்கு,

தங்களிடம் தொலைபேசியில் குறிப்பிட்டபடி சிற்றம்பக்கத்தில் உள்ள சிறப்பு வாய்ந்த முதல் கட்டப்பட்ட கோவிலின் கல்வெட்டை பற்றிய தகவல்களை கீழே கொடுத்துள்ளேன். உங்கள் முயற்சியின் மூலம் இக்கல்வெட்டு பாதுகாக்கப்பட்டால் மிகவும் சிறப்பாக இருக்கும்.

தென்கரணை என்று அழைக்கப்பட்ட சிற்றம்பாக்கம் கிராமம் திருவள்ளூர் மாவட்டத்தில் அமைந்துள்ளது. இங்கு பல்லவர் காலத்தை சேர்ந்த கும்பேஸ்வரர் ஆலயம் சில ஆண்டுகளுக்கு முன் புதுப்பிக்கப்பட்டு உள்ளது. இதற்கு அருகே அமைந்த ஒரு சிறிய கோவில் தான் செல்லியம்மன் ஆலயம். 

இக்கோவிலின் வாசலின் மலரின் இதழ்கள் வரையப்பட்ட ஒரு கல் கிடக்கிறது. இக்கல் அக்கோவிலின் வாசற்படியாகவும் ஆடுகளும் மனிதர்களும் அமர்ந்து ஓய்வெடுக்கும் சிறு மேடையாகவும் விளங்கும்  இந்த கல்லில் தான் இது வரையில் கண்டறியப்பட்ட முதல் கட்டப்பட்ட கோவிலின் தகவல்கள் உள்ளன.

பல்லவர்கள் காலத்தில் பெரும்பாலும் குடைவரைகளே அமைக்கப்பட்டிருந்த நிலையில் முதல் முதலாக ஒரு கோவில் கட்டப்பட்ட செய்தியை தெரிவிக்கும் கல்வெட்டு இது. மேலும் பெரும்பாலான பல்லவர்கள் கல்வெட்டுகள் பல்லவ கிரந்தத்தில் சமஸ்க்ரிதத்தில் அமைந்திருந்த போது  வெகு சில கல்வெட்டுகள் தமிழில் காணப்படுகின்றன. வல்லம் குகையில் உள்ள முதலாம் மஹேந்திரவர்மன் கல்வெட்டு மற்றும் திருக்கழுக்குன்றத்தில் உள்ள முதலாம் நரசிம்மவர்மன் கல்வெட்டு போல இதுவும் தமிழில் காணப்படும் சிறப்பு பெற்றது. 

முதலாம் பரமேஸ்வரவர்மனின் முதல் ஆட்சி ஆண்டை இக்கல்வெட்டு குறிப்பிடுகிறது. இது கி.பி.670 ஆம் ஆண்டாகும். இக்கல் 29 அங்குல நீளமும் 28.5 அங்குல அகலமும் உடையதாக விளங்குகிறது. மத்தியில் மலரின் இதழ்கள் போன்ற உருவம் செதுக்கப்பட்டுள்ளது. இவ்விதழ்களை சுற்றி இரண்டு வட்டங்கள் ஒன்றின் உள்  ஒன்றாக செதுக்கப்பட்டுள்ளன.
இந்த உருவத்தை சுற்றி எழுத்துக்கள் காணப்படுகின்றன. மொத்தம் ஆறு வரிகள் கொண்ட கல்வெட்டில் முதல் இரண்டு வரிகள் மேற்புறமும் அடுத்த இரண்டு வரிகள் வலப்புறமும் செதுக்கப்பட்டுள்ளன. ஐந்தாவது வரி கீழேயும் ஆறாவது இடப்புறமும் காணப்படுகின்றன.

இக்கல்வெட்டு ஒரு காலத்தில் செல்லியம்மன் கோவில் பெரியதாக இருக்கும் பொழுது அதன் சுவற்றில் இருந்திருக்க வேண்டும். 

இதன் வரிகள் 
1. ஸ்ரீ மஹாராஜ பரமேஸ்வர வர்மர்க்கு யாண்டு தலைத்தா 
2. வது துணங்கிலவருள் ஆலவாயில் சோமாசியா 
3. ரு மருமகன் கும(ரன் )
4, ..டுப்பித்த கோ (வில்)
5,...........அழி (வு)ம் செ 
6. ய்தார் தரும வேற்க 

இதிலிருந்த ஆலவாயில் என்ற ஊரை சேர்ந்த சோமாசியார் (சோமாஜியார் ) மருமகன் குமரன் என்பவன் எடுப்பித்த கோவில் என்ற தகவலை நாம் அறியலாம். ஆலவாயில் என்பது பொதுவாக மதுரையைக்குறிக்கும். இங்கும் அது மதுரை என்று நாம் எடுத்துக்கொள்ளலாம். அல்லது ஒரு வேளை தென்கரணைக்கு ஆலவாயில் என்ற பெயரும் இருந்திருக்கக் கூடும். 

இவ்வாறு இதுவரையில் கிடைத்த முதல் கட்டப்பட்ட கோவிலை குறித்த தகவல் கூறும் கல்வெட்டு இப்படி வெட்டவெளியில் பாதுகாப்பின்றி அசுத்தத்தில் கிட க்கவிடாமல் அரசும் தொல்லியல் துறையும் பாதுகாக்க வேண்டும்.


பிரியா பாஸ்கரன் 

I had also attached the Epigraphia Indica pages for him to get the complete information.

Sadly the reporter had neither referred the references or my document properly and this was the report he produced, completely missing the appeal for conservation and protection of the inscription,and assuming it was a new discovery.

I was shocked to see this and several people including Dr Sankaranarayanan and Mr KRA Narsiah contacted me to find out what had happened, as they had been involved in the process right from the beginning.

I spoke to the reporter and pointed out his mistake and asked him to issue a corrigendum and apology. Not wanting to mess up the newspaper's reputation and probably his job, he further added to the problem by coming up with something like this:

One Mr Vedham Vedhaprakash went one step higher, condemning me of seeking cheap publicity. He also used my personal images and details without permission to write a series of hate posts, in the name of heritage interest, without bothering to verify facts.


After I spoke to him and clarified, he did make some edits to the content of his post, but has chosen to delete my comment on his post and has not taken it off. Obviously he is seeking publicity from a mistake that Dinamalar made because of which my credibilty has been questioned. https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=443861985949195&id=100009761916382&comment_id=443886649280062&notif_t=like&notif_id=1493029909257430

His post may be one I saw. There may be several I did not. This is a post to clarify the facts as they stand and pinpoint Dinamalar and the reporter for their folly. Such irresponsible reporting not just damages the reputation of enthusiasts but also puts them off such volunteer activity in the future.

For three years, I slogged hard to document the heritage sites along the Cooum, brought out the book and gave all the proceeds to start a Tamil section in the MLS library which is one of the heritage landmarks along the Cooum. Despite my sincere efforts, this irresponsible act of Dinamalar has slung mud on all my hard work. I am documenting this for future records and reference of net experts who rely on what they lay their eyes on the internet, and make large comments without bothering to verify facts.


  1. TAke it in the right stride Priya. As long as your conscience and effort knows what you did is right, forget about cheap attention seekers and wrong doers. Had I known about this, I could have talked to the right concerned chief in Dinamalar, could have sought some corrigendum. Now, forget it!

    1. Thanks Chandra. I did not want the reporter to lose his job. However, the fact that he did not even read what I sent him is unforgiveable. I will move on with all your support !

  2. Would like to buy your book. Please provide information

    1. Just one or two copies left. You can obtain it by courier. Please share your address and contact details via aalayamkanden@gmail.com

  3. Very sad to hear such efforts have been pained by irresponsible journalist with not good intention, Sometimes are not favourable for us.. And one must be careful when dealing with newspapers and public as such,when they take photographs without due permission as they can be misused..your contribution to the bringing of awareness of ancient lesser known temples is a very rare and divine mission.. March forward ji... Jai varahi.

  4. Smt Priya Baskaran
    Thank you for your research and here is the truth I would request you to remember from now
    Media press TV all big names are owned by west to distort any news on Hinduism and write sensational news away from truth to divide the people and Hindus
    Sri Gandhiji said Truth is God Truth is religion
    Please do not worry or waste time about convincing every idiot or journalist who intentionally write and plant fake news.It does not Help us.They will move to next news and change the truth to fake news

    You have been chosen by God to persue this journey and everything is happening as per Gods will only if not no one can imagine that Koovam river is holy river
    Or Moksha Shetra meaning if one baths in it his circle of birth and death ends like in Kasi .You have discovered it

    You are accountable to only God and no one else
    And for that you are being blessed daily

    The people who follow the truth will know about you
    Rest we need not care since if we care it will spoil our peace of mind

    Iam based in Usa and would like to buy the book
    Please consider having a color pdf of your book
    For you to send if print copies are over

    Alayam Kandein is such a simple yet noble work of yours at a time when our Hindu politicians like
    Chandrababu naidu recently destroyed over 50
    Temples in Telangana source www.savetemples.org

    Wish we can give numbers for every temple to pass it
    On to future generations to prevent their destruction
    Loka Samantha Sukhino Bhavanthu
    Prana Kishore