Know the Etymology: 324
Place Name of the Day: Monday, 10 February 2014

Padaviya/ Pathi-vaavi

பத3விய, பதிவாவி
Padaviya, Pativāvi


The tank of the town

Pathi Name of the town as mentioned in a Tamil inscription, dated to c. 1150 CE, found at Padaviya (Veluppillai.A., Ceylon Tamil Inscriptions, Vol I and II, pp 54-55, pp 19-20; Subbarayalu. Y., “Padaviya inscriptions: Inscription of Virakodi Warriors,” 2004, pp 66-72; South India under the Cholas, Oxford, 2012, pp 205-206); Sree-pathee-graama: The name mentioned in a Grantha-Sanskrit inscription found at Padaviya (Indrapala. K., 1972, The Evolution of an Ethnic Identity, 2006, p.228); Aipo'lil-veera-padda'nam: Another name for Pathi given in the Tamil inscription, meaning that it was a township of the Aiyaavo'le trade guild and was protected by the Veerakkodi guards (Tamil, c. 1150 CE inscription, ibid); Vikkarama-kadigaith-thaava'lam: A protected market that was part of the Pathi township (Tamil, c. 1150 CE inscription, ibid); Pathi: (noun) Abode, town, city, village; (verb) To be imprinted, occupy, settle, inset, inlay, pave etc. (Tamil, DED 3911); Padingchiya: Residence (Sinhala); Padingchi-wenawaa: To inhabit, reside, settle (Sinhala); Padiyama: Transplantation, residence, place of being (Sinhala).
Viya A changed form of Vaapi/ Vaavi/ Wæwa, meaning a tank or reservoir (Sinhala); Vevu, Veyo: Tank (Dhivehi/ Maldivian); Vaapee: Pond, tank (Sanskrit, CDIAL 11529); Vaavee: Pond (Prakrit, CDIAL 11529); Vaavi: Pond, tank (Tamil, usage since Changkam diction, Paddinappaalai, 244; inscription, 1012 CE, SII, vii, 863); Vapi, Vavi: Pond, reservoir (Brahmi inscriptions of the island up to 6th century CE); Wæwa: Pond, reservoir (Sinhala, the word appears in inscriptions from 10 century CE onwards, CDIAL 11529).

Today's Padaviya settlement has gained its name from a large reservoir found at that place, but originally the reservoir seemed to have received that name from an early township that exited at that place, which was known as Pathi in the inscriptions.

Padaviya possibly has come from the two components Pathi (Padi in Sinhala) and Viya (Wæva > Wæya > Viya), meaning the tank of the town.

Vaavi in Tamil, used since the times of Changkam literature and Wæwa in Sinhala, both meaning a tank or reservoir, are cognates of Vaapee in Sanskrit/ Indo-Aryan. Veyo is the cognate found in Dhivehi/ Maldivian, which is close to the form Viya noticed in the phrase Padaviya.

An inscription in Tamil, dated to c. 1150 CE and found in the archaeological site at Padaviya, mentions the name of the place as Pathi alias Aipo'lil-veera-padda'nam.

The alternative name has come because at that time the town (Padda'nam) became a protected place of the guards (Veerar/ Veerakkodiyaar) of the Aipo'lil (Aiyai-pozhil/ Aiyaavo'le) trade corporate. See column on Veerakodiyaana.

Hence, Pathi must be the earlier name of the township.

Pathi in Tamil/ Dravidian means an abode, town, city or village (Dravidian Etymological Dictionary 3911). The word is listed as Dravidian, probably on the strength of its verb form, meaning, to imprint, implant, inlay, pave, settle, occupy etc. In this context, note the Sinhala cognate Padiyama meaning residence as well as transplantation. Padignchiya (residence) and Padingchi-wenawaa (verb, to inhabit) are the other derivatives in Sinhala.

Professor K. Indrapala notes that a seal inscription in Sanskrit, written in Grantha characters and found at Padaviya in 1970, gives the name of the place as Sree-pathee-graama (Indrapala.K., 1972 and 2006, p.228, 390). This name may literally mean, 'the village of the one in whom Sri (the goddess of wealth) resides', i.e., the village of Vishnu. But archaeological evidences show that Padaviya was a major Saiva centre.

* * *

The township of Padaviya might have originated as a Brahmin settlement well before the 10th century CE, writes Indrapala (ibid, 2006, pp 228-236). In the Tamil version of his book, he assigns a date between 600 and 900 CE.

Noting that the establishment of the Brahmin settlements in this part of the island has also led to the construction of irrigation facilities, Indrapala says, that “the Padaviya and Vahalkada tanks as well as other reservoirs in the northeastern part of the island, where Pallava influence is seen to be strongest, were probably constructed by local chiefs with the assistance of mercantile communities” (ibid, p. 235).

The Padaviya tank, which is around 10, 000 acres in extent, is the largest in that region.

“The northeastern littoral, between Kokkilai lagoon and the Trincomalee harbour, seems to be the area where the activities of the South Indian mercantile communities were concentrated from about the seventh century. It is in this area that we find two of the largest reservoirs constructed about this time but not identifiable in the chronicles as tanks built by Anuradhapura rulers. These are the Padaviya and Vakalkada tanks,” Indrapala further observes, citing Paranavithana (ibid 235).

With the arrival of the Cholas in the late 10th century CE, a Siva temple at Padaviya was named as Iravikula-Maa'nikka-Eesvaram, after one of the names of Raja Raja I.

“The ruins of more Saiva temples have also been found, clearly establishing the importance of this place as a centre of Saivism,” Indrapala notes.

An interesting feature noticed in one of the Siva temples at Padaviya is an early relief sculpture of Cha'ndeasvarar (one of the first saints who became the guardian of Siva temples), found placed on the wall at a location, where in the later styles of Saiva temple architecture a separate shrine was allotted for him.

In mid 12th century CE, Padaviya was a town as well as a market place of the Aiyapo'lil/ 18-land/ The 500, which was an umbrella trade corporate operating in southern South Asia and in Southeast Asia.

The town had a protected market place (perhaps having a permanent protective construction) that was called Vikkarama-kadigaith-thaava'lam.

[Thaava'lam: seasonal market, market place or settlement of travelling traders, Tamil, inscriptions, probably from the root Thaavu for hopping, DED 3177; Kadikai: protected place, from the root Kadi, meaning protection, Subbarayalu 2012, p. 196; Kadi: protection, safeguard, defence; Kadikai: shield, Tamil, DED 1127; Vikkarama here may be Vikramabahu I, who was not recognized as king by the Buddhist Sangha, but was ruling de facto in parts of the island at this time.]

The c. 1150 CE inscription found at Padaviya was issued by “18-bhumi-veerakkodi of Pati alias Southern Aipo'lil-veera-padda'nam, including Vikkarama-kadigaith-thaava'lam,” to note that they have decided to donate certain remunerations and entitlements of them in the town to the god Vidangkar (Siva) of that place, who was also named after the martial community, as “Valangkai Vea'laikkaa'ran.”

* * *

Padaviya today is a town and headquarters of a division by its name in the Anuradhapura district. It is located close to the link between the Northern and Eastern provinces. The reservoir there was renovated and the place, found ruined and forested, was resettled since 1940s. The agrarian colonisation scheme, originally meant for both Sinhalese and Tamils, was Sinhalicised after the 1958 pogrom.

First published: Monday, 10 February 2014, 00:34

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