Athiyamān Nedumān Añci

Athiyamān Nedumān Añci was one of the most powerful Tamil Vēlir kings of the Sangam era.[1] A famous royal of the Athiyamān family dynasty, he was the contemporary and the patron of poet Auvaiyar of the Sangam period.[2] Athiyamān was a dynastic title of the Vēlir line who ruled over the Dharmapuri, Salem and surrounding areas with their capital at Tagadur (now known as Dharmapuri).[3] The most famous of their line were the father-son duo: Nedumān Añci and Elini (the son).[4][5] They were one of the Kadai ezhu vallal (7 great patrons) of arts and literature in ancient Tamilakam.[6]

Patron of Auvaiyar

When poet Auvaiyar visited the court of Athiyamān Nedumān Añci, he liked her so much that he deliberately delayed in giving her gifts to prolong her stay. The poet at first not realizing the game, got angry and condemned him and then later when she realized the true motive, became so fond him that she decided to stay and became his close friend. On another occasion, he gave her the gooseberry (nelli) fruit to the poet with the hope of improving her life expectancy.[2]

A warrior

Auvaiyar described her patron as a hardened warrior, Purananuru, song 87:

Enemies! take care,
when you enter the field of battle,
Among us is a warrior, who is like a chariot wheel,
made painstakingly by a carpenter,
who tosses off eight chariots in a day![7]

In 118 CE, another Velir king Malaiyamān Thirumudi Kāri of the Kadai ezhu vallal waged war on Thagadoor against Athiyamān Nedumān Añci. It was an attempt fuelled by his longtime desire to become an emperor equivalent in power to the Cholas. After a fierce battle, Kāri lost Kovalur to Athiyamān and only regained it much later after Peruncheral Irumporai sacked Tagadur.[8]

Friendship with the Cholas

Athiyamān Nedumān Añci lived in one of the most turbulent periods and was looking at an imminent invasion by the Cheras and the Cholas. He sent Auvaiyar as an envoy to the court of Ilantiraiyan of Kanchi who was a viceroy of the Chola sovereign and later allied himself with the latter to deter the Chera king.[9] Auvaiyar was given a grand welcome by Tondaimān who then went on to proudly show her his archery. Though impressed, Auvaiyar refused to give up her patron by subtly hinting that the king's weapons sparkled as they were probably never used whereas the arsenal of her patron were all worn out as they had seen numerous wars.[2][9]

Valiant opponent of Peruñcēral Irumporai

But this congregation of Nedumān Añci with the Chola and Pandya did not deter the Chera emperor, Peruñcēral Irumporai who finally arrived and sacked Tagadur. In spite of his small army, Nedumān Añci,led from the front and valiantly went down fighting in the battle field. AricilKilār, the war bard of Peruñcēral Irumporai, paid due homage to the opponent of his patron as he eulogised his king in Tagadur-Yāttarai.[10]

Upon his death, a distressed Auvaiyar sang a number of elegies:

If he had a little liquor, he would give it to us
Where is he now?
..if he had even a little rice, he shared it in many plates
Where is he now?
..He gave us all the flesh on the bones
Where is he now?
Wherever spear and arrows flew, he was there
Where is he now?
..father, mainstay, king
Where is he now?.[11]
..The fame of our sun-like king
his white umbrellas
cool as the moon
will not blacken
will not die![12]


A good number of inscriptions in Jambai in Tirukkoyilur taluk have been discovered which help us identify the Satyaputras of the Ashoka's edicts:

Satyaputō Athiyan Nedumān Añji itta Pali[13]
The abode given by Athiyan Nedumān Añji, the Satyaputō[14]

These put to rest any speculation regarding the identity of Satyaputras as being non-Tamil and goes on to show the greatness of this line as they are mentioned on par with the other three Tamil kingdoms.[14]


  1. Śrī puṣpāñjali, page 125
  2. 1 2 3 The Encyclopaedia Of Indian Literature (Volume One (A To Devo), Volume 1, page 295
  3. The culture and history of the Tamils, page 17
  4. Tamil Literature, page 92
  5. Madras district gazetteers, page 201
  6. Historical heritage of the Tamils, page 256
  7. Poems of Love and War, page 137
  8. History of Tamilnad:to A.D. 1565, page 66
  9. 1 2 StudiesBut in Tamil Literature and History, page 66
  10. Epigraphia Indica, Volume 36, Part 4, page 134
  11. Poems of Love and War, page 170
  12. Poems of Love and War, page 167
  13. Kongu Nadu, a history up to A.D. 1400, page 152
  14. 1 2 Saptar̥ṣīśvara temple in the lower Kaveri Delta, page 13


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