We have witnessed the name Bappa Bhaṭṭāraka in so many Pallava copper plates. Almost all the copper plates starting from Hirahaḍagalli plates of Śivaskandavarman have the term. All the copper plates mention the king as “Bappa Bhaṭṭāraka Pādānudhyāta” i.e one who meditates at the holy feet of Bappa bhaṭṭāraka. The earliest reference from Hirahaḍagalli adds the adjective Mahāraja to Bappasvāmi. The other copperplates references are as follows.
- Uṙuvappaḷḷi plates of Viṣṇugopavarmā – “Bappabhaṭṭāraka mahārāja Pāda bhakta”
- Māṅgalūr plates of Siṃhavarmā II – “Bappabhaṭṭāraka Pādabhakta”
- Bhīkira plates of Siṃhavarmā II – “Bappabhaṭṭāraka Pādabhakta”
- Neḍuṅgarāya plates of Viṣṇugopa – “Bappabhaṭṭāraka Mahārāja Pādabhakta”
- Vesanta Plates of Vijaya siṃhavarmā – “Bappabhaṭṭāraka Pādabhakta”
- Viḹaveṭṭi plates of Siṃhavarmā II – “Bappabhaṭṭāraka Pādabhakta”
- Sentalūr plates of Kumāraviṣṇu II – “Bappabhaṭṭāraka Pādabhakta”
- Oṅgōḍu plates of Siṃhavarmā II – “Bappabhaṭṭāraka Pādabhakta”
- Surā plates of Viṣṇugopa – “Bappabhaṭṭāraka Pādabhakta”
- Udayendra Plates of Nandivarmā I – “Bappabhaṭṭāraka Pādabhakta”
- Vunnakurava Pāḷayam plates of Parameśvara varmā I – “Bappabhaṭṭāraka Pādabhakta”
- Reyūru plates of Narasiṃha II (Rājasiṃha) – “Bappabhaṭṭāraka Pādabhakta”
- Kaśākkuḍi plates of Nandivarmā II – “Bappabhaṭṭāraka Pādānudhyāna vardhamāna mahimnā”
By the above lines we can definitely say that Bappa Bhaṭṭāraka was a man of highest dignity of the kings of Pallava race. Even the unpublished plate of Mahendra varmā I has the same term.
Early scholars opined that Bappa Bhaṭṭāraka was the father of the king who made donation. The word “Bappa” was explained as the Prākṛta form which gives the meaning “Father”. The Tamil word Appan can be related with this.
The same word can be seen in inscriptions from other states. Jaisideval stone inscription from Nepal The inscription belongs to 5th CE and refers the king as “Bappa Bhaṭṭāraka Mahārāja Śrīpādānudhyāta”. Another inscription of Anantaśaktivarmā from Odiśā, mentions the king as “Bappa-bhaṭṭāraka-Pāda-Prasād-āvāpta-śarīra-rājya-vibhava” means who inherited body, kingdom, prosperity and prowess through devotion at the feet of the Bappa bhaṭṭāraka.
In both the instances, the term “Bappa Bhaṭṭāraka” has been taken in the meaning of “father”. But the Velūrpāḷayam plates of Nandivarmā III introduces “Bappa Bhaṭṭāraka” in a different manner.
पृथ्वीपालस्य तस्य प्रथितगुणगणो बप्पभट्टारकाख्यः
शास्त्रे वेदे च साङ्ख्ये प्रकटितमहिमा यज्ञभट्टाभिधानः।
ग्रामे बालेन्दुमौलेर्भ्भवनमकृत यद्भक्तियोगप्रगीतः।। 22
माताभवद्यस्य गुणैस्समग्रे गरीयसी द्रोणमणिर्महीव।। 23
A scholar by name Yajñabhaṭṭa, who was well versed in śāstras, Veda and sāṅkhya, who was well known for his good qualities, whose glory was celebrated and who hold wisdom and humility, was known as Bappa bhaṭṭāraka. He built a temple for śiva, the bearer of crescent moon at Tirukkāṭṭupaḷḷi like the huge kailāsa mountain. Śivadāsa, his father was a pure-minded and was equal to Bṛhaspati. His mother was Droṇamaṇi, who excelled in all qualities like the mother earth.
Thus the adjectives were given to Bappa Bhaṭṭāraka. The adjectives given in Velūrpāḷayam plates, clearly indicate that Bappa Bhaṭṭāraka is a post, where scholars were appointed. Hence I think the term “Bappa Bhaṭṭāraka” in the copper plates of Pallavas, refer to the royal preceptor also.