Ancient link between Kashi and Tamil Land

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    • The month-long Kashi Tamil Sangamam is going to begin in Varanasi.

    Kashi Tamil Sangamam

    • Organized by: the Ministry of Education, Government of India
    • Some 2,400 people from Tamil Nadu will be taken to Varanasi in groups for visits and trips to Ayodhya and Prayagraj.
    • Objective: 
      • To bring the two knowledge and cultural traditions (of the North and South) closer, create an understanding of our shared heritage and deepen the people-to-people bond between the regions.
      • This is in sync with the National Education Policy, 2020 which emphasises “on nurturing a generation that is modern and in sync with the 21st-century mindset, while being rooted in the Indian culture and ethos”.

    Linkages between Kashi and Kanchi

    • The connection between the two centers of knowledge (Kashi and Kanchi) is evident in the similar themes in literature, and the presence of the name Kashi in every village in Tamil Nadu.
    • Since ancient times, higher education in Southern India was not considered complete without a visit by the scholar to Kashi.
    • Kashinath is a popular name in Tamil Nadu.
    • Besides the Kasi Viswanathar temple in Tenkasi, there are hundreds of Shiva temples in Tamil Nadu that bear the name of Kashi — there are some 18 of them in the area around Chennai alone.
    • People from Rameswaram would take a dip in the Koti teertha (in the temple) before visiting Kashi for darshan; and they would bring back (Ganga) water from Kashi for abhiseka at the temple in Rameswaram.

    History of ties between Kashi and Tamil Nadu

    • King Parakrama Pandya:
      • He ruled over the region around Madurai in the 15th century
      • Legend has it that he wanted to build a temple to Lord Shiva, and traveled to Kashi to bring back a lingam. 
      • While returning, the king stopped to rest under a tree — but when he tried to continue his journey, the cow carrying the lingam refused to move.
      • Then he installed the lingam there, a place that came to be known as Sivakasi
      • For devotees who could not visit Kashi, the Pandyas had built the Kasi Viswanathar Temple in what is today Tenkasi in southwestern Tamil Nadu.
    • Adhivir Ram Pandyan:
      • Much later, another king, Adhivir Ram Pandyan, after returning from a pilgrimage to Kashi, constructed another Shiva temple in Tenkasi in the 19th century
    • Sant Kumara Gurupara:
      • He was from Thoothukudi district and had negotiated with the princely state of Kashi to get a place for the consecration of Kedarghat and Vishvesvaralingam in Varanasi. 
      • He also composed Kashi Kalambagam, a collection of grammar poems on Kashi.

    Source: IE