The royal preceptors are traced in Indian History. Coḹas, dedicated followers of Śaivism too installed their preceptors and they followed them in their religious acts. Such preceptors are found in their inscriptions. The qualifications of such ācārya or purohita are well explained in Dharma and Artha śāstras. The following list gives the list of preceptors who guided the Coḹa rules.
|Rājarāja I||Īśāna śiva||1000 CE||Tañjavūr|
|Rājendra I||Śarva śiva||1020 CE||Tañjāvūr|
|Kulottuṅga I||Śrī Kaṇṭha śiva||1120 CE||Tirumaṅgalakkuḍi|
|Vikrama||Śrī Kaṇṭha śiva||1121 CE||Tirumaṅgalakkuḍi|
|Kulottuṅga II||Dhyāna śiva||1150 CE||Cidambaram|
|Rājādhirāja II||Umāpati śiva||1170 CE||Ārpākkam|
|Kulottuṅga III||Īśvara śiva||1200 CE||Tribhuvanam|
Thus the Rājagurus are traced in the inscription. The respect that was given to them is really astounding. They saw their preceptors as Lord śiva. The Eśāla plates of Rājendra I, explains this evidently,
उक्तं किं बहुभिः स्फुटस्तुतिपदैः राजेन्द्रचोलस्य यत्
सर्वाम्भोनिधिमेखला वसुमती भर्तुः श्रीभूपतेः।
यः प्रत्यक्षमहेश्वरो गुरुरयं राजावलीमौलिभिः
सद्रत्नाभरणैः विचित्रितपदद्वन्द्वो बुधानां निधिः।।
The lotus feet of ths guru were beautified by countless precious jewels on the crowns of rulers when they bowed to him with their crowned heads. This guru appeared as the very Maheśvara manifested on earth, whose feet were praised by the stotras sung by Rājendra Coḹa who himself was the Emperor of this entire world surrounded by the girdle of oceans.
Aghora śivācārya, a great philosopher and the author of Kriyākrama dyotikā alias Aghora śivācārya paddhati, wrote the work in 1156 CE. Aghora śivācārya was a resident of Kāñcipuram. He enlists his ancestors who decorated the seats of royal preceptors of kings.
ततो ब्रह्मशिवाचार्यः तपस्वी लाटपुङ्गवः।
ततो मूर्तिशिवः तादृक् विजयाख्यपुरे स्थितः।।
मायापुर्यां गृही तज्जः स्थितस्सर्वात्मदेशिकः।
तच्छिष्यो गौडवृषभः श्रीकण्ठशिवदेशिकः।।
श्रीविक्रमादिचोलेशाः स्वगुरूत्वे न्यवेशयन्।
ततो ध्यानशिवश्श्रीमान् अभवत् गौडपुङ्गवः।।
अष्टाविंशतितन्त्राणां व्याख्याननिपुणो गुरुः।
चोलेश्वरोऽपि भूत्वा यः सभेशं समपूजयत्।।
These verses from the introductory part gives the connection with the Coḹa dynasty. Brahmaśiva was from Lāṭa deśa gave birth to Mūrti śiva who lived in Vijayapura. He got married in Ujjain and gave birth to Sarvātma Deśika. His disciple was śrīkaṇṭha Deśika hailing from Gauḍa deśa and went to Cidambaram to have darśana of Dabhrasabhāpati (Naṭarāja). He was installed in the chair of royal preceptor by Vikrama Coḹa and others. Then Dhyāna śiva, from gauḍa deśa was there who wrote commentary for twenty eight āgamas. He became the ruler of Coḹa country and worshipped Naṭarāja.
Though Aghora śiva was not the royal preceptor during the reign of Rājādhirāja II, he enlists the ācāryas in his lineage. We can see that śrīkaṇṭha śiva, who paved way for Advaitic śaivism, became the guru for Vikrama Coḹa which can be traced by his inscriptions. The last line cannot be explained satisfactorily which claims that he became the Coḹa ruler and worshipped Naṭarāja. The answer could be he might have been the virtual ruler of the country.
Thus the list of ācāryas of Coḹas is available in the inscriptions which is also seen in the scriptures too.