This question is motivated after watching the story portrayed in the opening scene of the Tamil movie Dasavatharam starring Kamal Hassan where the scene is claimed to be based on historical events of 12th century. In the scene a vaishnavite Rangaraja Nambi played by Kamal Hassan is drowned in the ocean along with the idol of Vishnu for not converting to Shaivism and for not revealing the location of Ramanuja - the great exponent of Sri Vaishnavism. My question is, is there any evidence that the Cholan king persecuted vaishnavites?

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    Yes, Sri Vaishnava accounts describe in great detail the persecution of Ramanujacharya and his disciples at the hands of a certain Chola king, known as Krimikantha Chola. It's because of this persecution that Ramanujacharya left Sri Rangam and went to Melkote. He only returned to Sri Rangam after the Chola king had died. There's some dispute over whether Krimikantha Chola is the same as Kulothunga Chola, but yes, there is some historical basis to opening scene in Dasavatharam. There was a Govindaraja statue in Chidambaram thrown into the ocean by Krimikantha Chola. May 5, 2016 at 1:58
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    This book identifies the Krimikantha Chola with Kulothunga Chola I: books.google.com/…. By the way, Ramanujacharya's guru Periya Nambi, aka Mahapurna, and his disciple Kurathalwan, the father of Parashara Bhattar, both had their eyes plucked out by Krimikantha Chola for refusing to divulge Ramanujacharya's location. (At the time Ramanujacharya was escaping to Melkote.) May 5, 2016 at 2:03
  • @TheDestroyer I haven't heard that story, but I think Periya Nambi and Kursthalwan both died after their eyes were plucked out, so it can't be them. May 5, 2016 at 3:24
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    @Keshav Was Lord Govindaraja retrieved from the ocean by any chance?
    – Surya
    May 5, 2016 at 5:24
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    @Surya Yes, 500 years later he was reinstalled, although he had to be reinstalled within the Chidambaram Nataraja temple, since the original Govindaraja temple in Chidambaram had been destroyed by Krimikantha Chola. So to this day, Govindaraja remains one of the few Swayambhu Vishnu statues to be located within a Shiva temple. I give an example of another such temple in my question here: hinduism.stackexchange.com/q/5203/36 May 5, 2016 at 13:04

1 Answer 1


None whatsoever.


There was a power struggle between the established Vaishnava priesthood and Ramanuja and for stability the King sided with the established priests. The absurd stories that people like Dushyant Sridhar trot out - about sanskrit word play about "Siva paratvam" and putting out of eyes never happened. casting the idol into the sea might have been due to the idol having been worn out.

Calling a historical king 'krimikantha chola' is merely Vaishnava hate-speech.


"Thus we see that liberal endowments and gifts were made to Vishnu temples and allied institutions by the king, the members of the royal family, his officers and feudatories, and the public at large throughout his long reign and large empire. In the face of such overwhelming evidence, it is difficult to sustain the theory that he was a persecutor of Vaishnavism in general and of Ramanuja in particular. With very few exceptions, all the Cholas followed a policy not merely of negative tolerance but of positive interest in other faiths, devout Saivites as they were. (Also refer to The Colas by K.A. Nilakanta Sastri, p.295 and Note 43 on p.300.){GL_NOTE: 83506 :}"

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    The writer is a Shaivite. It is like quoting from your own blog Jul 10, 2020 at 20:54
  • It's important to take historical accounts from both the supposed victim and perpetrator carefully. Feelings and biases can distort historical events. That being said there likely was some religious persecution as Shaiva and Vaishnava relationships were tense. Or at the very least unsteady relationships. Disregard for such is just ignorance, but blind faith in the source is also wrong.
    – Haridasa
    Dec 14, 2023 at 11:03

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