IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis

Efforts on to bring back Chola royal charter

19th October, 2020 History

Context: The 21 copper plates are held together by a bronze ring bearing the seal of Rajendra Chola.

  • A royal charter or a sasana of the Chola kings, lost 300 years ago from Tamil Nadu, is now being preserved in the Leiden University in the Netherlands.
  • Commonly referred to as the “Leiden plates”, it was issued by the kings to a Buddhist vihara.
  • With the Netherlands relooking at its colonial collections, and planning to return over 10,000 artefacts to the source nations or former colonies, art enthusiasts say it is time for India to make efforts to get the crowning glory of the Cholas back.

Chola royal charter

  • The charter has two sections — one in Sanskrit and another in Tamil — and the 21 copper plates are held together by a massive bronze ring bearing the regal seal of Rajendra Chola.
  • They also deal with the geneology of the Chola dynasty and the reign of king Rajaraja I (985-1012 AD), the father of Rajendra Chola (1012-1042 AD).
  • It proclaims that 26 villages bordering Anaimangalam were donated for a Buddhist shrine (vihara), known as Chulamanivarmavihara, built by the Malay king of Sriwijaya in Nagapattinam, a port town on the Coromandel coast, said S. Vijay Kumar, art enthusiast and co-founder of the India Pride Project.
  • The provenance states that the copper plates were donated in 1862, by successors, to the estate of professor Hendrik Arent Hamaker.
  • This charter and another one were brought from India by Florentius Camper, minister of faith in Batavia, in 1703-1712.
  • The charters are seen as testimony to how the Buddhist centre of learning and spirituality flourished, benefiting from the benevolence of king Rajaraja, who built a Brihadeeswara temple in Thanjavur.
  • “The copper plates are an important evidence on the history of the Chola period. They also talk about the conquests, accomplishments and expeditions to the far east.
  • The charters s the also called a‘Anaimangalam’ copper plates.”
  • “Anbil plates are also very important. They give a lot of information about Chola history. No one knows its present location.