Chola Temple – Brhadisvara Endowments
Endowments to the Temple
The numerous inscriptions on the walls of the temple reflect the status of religion, art, administration, etc., of the contemporary era. The inscription also mentions that the temple was provided with a golden finial by the Emperor Rajaraja during his 275th day of his 25th year of his reign (1010 A.D.). The temple is dedicated to Siva and Rajaraja named it as Rajarajesvaram-udaiyar after himself.
Rajaraja caused several endowments to the temple for the maintenance. He was joined by his family members and other high officials from his government in donating various endowments to the temple. The inscriptions list several bronze and gold images, ornaments for decorating these images, etc. Most of the exquisite representations of the Chola art have been lost, but a handful of them are still to be seen in the form of Nataraja, Tripurantaka, Devi and Ganesa. The endowments of Rajaraja and his kith and kin are detailed in respect of even the smallest weights and measures, the methodology of receiving, the payment details, interest rates, conduct of worship of special items, provision of perpetual burning of lamps, etc are mentioned in the inscriptions. The endowments were so skilfully planned that even provisions for the cooks, gardeners, flower-gatherers, garland makers, musicians, drummers, dancers, dance masters, wood carvers, sculptors, painters, choir-groups for singing hymns in Sanskrit and Tamil, accountants, watchmen, host of other officials and servants for the temple were made and find mention in the inscriptions. Rajaraja even caused two long streets for housing nearly four hundred women dancers attached to the temple.
These are the best sources to know about the contemporary history, customs and practise, organisation of society, etc. The temples were the centres of great political and social activity during those times and are the centres of art, culture, religion, dance, music, and even administrative cases were decided in the temple premises.
No wonder that Rajaraja after his assuming charge of the entire southern India should have decided to establish an even more perpetual icon of his superiority in the form this great temple.