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FOREWORD

By

Dr. M. S. Vairana Pillai, M.A., Ph.D.,

Author of “A Concise world History” “Hindus and Muslims,” “Are we two nations?” etc etc.

Vincent Smith’s contention that the History of India is incomplete without further Investigation of the History of the South is partially fulfilled by this Volume on the History of the Chera Kings. The ancient history of the South is shrouded in darkness. Although attempts have been made to bring to light a clearer picture of South Indian History, a comprehensive and readable history of the South has not yet seen the light of day. Much has been said and written about the Pandia Chola and Chera Kings. Of these, the Chera history has received the least attention.

Scholars have often fought shy of the intricacies of the historical developments in the Chera country owing largely to its confused picture and complicated developments with practically no reliable historical data. Though confined to a corner of India, the geography of the Chera country has defied mastery; the identity of both places and persons has not easily lent itself to easy understanding; the external policies and relations of the Chera Kings and the incursions into the Chera country by Indian and foreign elements times out of number have greatly distorted the life and history of these people; civil wars have added their mite to make historical analysis still more difficult; and added to all these the absence of dependable source-materials has forced most historians out of their patience and vexed them beyond a point of endurance. Much labour and deep study alone would bear fruit under these difficult circumstances.

Prof. Avvai Duraiswamy Pillai’s enduring scholarship and his indefatigable researches have made the dead past live again in the pages of this book. The History of the Chera Kings which these pages portray is related in fascinating detail and in chaste Tamil. The Chera Kings become living personalities in the midst of their numerous subjects. Their enemies and friends, their problems and aspirations, their successes and failures and above all, the forces and factors that made them or unmade them find an indispensable place in this volume. The names of forgotten places and persons sunk in utter oblivion are brought back to memory in vividness and freshness. Obscurity takes flesh and blood and moves in dignity as personality with a touch of humanity and majesty. The ancient Karala History unfolds itself in these pages as if on a cinema screen. Historical research owes a debt of gratitude to the Author for undertaking this difficult piece of research with consummate ability and skilful presentation.

The reconstruction of ancient Chera history has been well nigh impossible. We do not have great many foreign sources. Inscriptions are comparatively few in number. Numismatic evidences have not ben forth-coming. Archeology has but little or no support to enable us to have an insight into the foundations of the ancient Kerala polity as few archeological excavations have been attempted South of Madras. Even the very subject does not seem to arrest the interest of the Central or State Governments let alone the scholars Ancient manuscripts regarding this “no man’s land” are unavailable. In a country where history writing has not been an art until recently and the preservation of historial tradition has been a useless waste of time, Kerala history, in particular had not fascinated the attention of historians.

Viewed in this light, Prof Duraiswamy Pillai’s contribution to the study of Chera kings is singularly unique. This pioneer work justly demands the attention of all thoughtful scholars as the Author has patiently gone through all available source-materials in the above mentioned fields as no scholar had done so far. The Author’s mastery of geography and topography, his penetrating insight into the social, political, economic and religious conditions prevalent in the Chera country, his systematic analysis of all available data, and his ability to portray a well balanced picture which is at once instructive and informative go to make this volume an indispensable addition to the development of historical literature. This pioneer work should find a place on the study-table of all research scholars and all lovers of South Indian history. The Author has made a monumental contribution to the sumtotal of historical knowledge in that he has turned on the lime light on the most obscure and the least popular portion of the History of Ancient Tamil Nadu.

M.S. Vairanapillai