Talismans in Atharva Veda & Ancient Tamil Literature

AV1

Written by London Swaminathan
Post No.1113; Dated 17th June 2014.

(Also read my earlier post “Sex Mantras and Talismans in Egypt and Atharva Veda” – posted on 26th September 2012)

What is a Talisman?
A Talisman is an inscribed ring or stone, supposed to be endowed with magic powers, especially averting evil from or bringing good luck to its holder. It is also a charm or amulet which is capable of working wonders (The Concise Oxford Dictionary).

Impadai_thaali
Picture of Aimpatai Thali of Tails with Five of Vishnu’s weapons.

Talismans are found in the Vedas and in the Indus Valley Civilisation. Though SWASTIKA is found all over the world, India is the only country which has some explanation for it. So the Sanskrit word is used all over the world including the Oxford Dictionary. Swastika seals were found in the Indus Valley excavations.
Talismans conveyed joy and confidence to their owners and gave them warning of coming events, inspiring courage and faith in the fearful; they have played a part in the lives of individuals.

swastika-stamps
Swastika Stamps of Hitler,Germany.

Swastika
Hitler, who believed in the Aryan Racist Theory, misused the symbol and so it earned a bird name after World War II in Western countries. But Hindus use it even today in their wedding invitations and shops for good luck. There is a mantra in the Vishnu Sahasra Nama with the word Swasti.
In Sanskrit its name means happiness, pleasure and good luck.
Su = good and Asti = being; full meaning = well being.

Tamil Talismans
Ancient Tamils used talismans from young age. Tamil children were given talismans made up of tiger nails or tiger tooth. That gave them courage to fight the evil. Tamils called it Aimpatai Thali or simply Thayathu. Tamil Women wore talismans in yellow thread (Purananuru 127and Tamil epic Silappadikaram 1-47 & 4-50) when they got married.

chettiar tali
Picture of Chettiyar Thali.

Tamil children had Aimpataith thali made up of five symbols: Vishnus’s conch,Chakra/wheel, Bow, Sword and Mace.
Ref.Akam.54, Puram.77

(Ref.S Ramakrishnan’s Tamil Book Inthaiya Panpatum Thamizarum, Meenatchi Puthaka Nilayam, Madurai 1971)

Even married women wore Pulippal Tali ( Tiger Teeth) in the hill areas. It was worn hanging from the neck. For children they tied it around their waist. They believed in the magical powers of the teeth and nails of the tigers. When we look at the Talis of today, we can still see the shape of tigers’ claw or teeth. P.T Srinivasa Iyengar thinks that it was the origin of later Golden Talis.
(Ref. History of The Tamils, 1930)

There are more references in Silappadikaram, Manimekalai (Fifth Century CE) and Peria Puranam (Tenth Century CE).
Thirumangalyam from mr srinivasan

Tirumangalyam designs provided by MR Srinivasan

Among the tribes living in the hills of Tamil Nadu, we find various types of talismans.
I guess the English word Talisman and Tamil word Tali came from the Sanskrit word Tala for Palmyra leaf. In the ancient India, Hindus wore ornaments made up of Palmyra leaf in which they wrote mantras. Adi Shankara and his followers installed Thadanga in Kanchi Kamakshi Temple and Trichy Akilandeswari Temple. But that is worn on the ear as ear studs.

During lunar and solar eclipse times the Brahmin priests visited my house and asked us to wear the Palmyra leaf with written mantra on our foreheads. This is to ward off the evil effects of the planets, if the eclipse occurred on the day of your birth star etc. This custom shows that wearing the palm leaf with written mantra has been there for ages.
TALI WITH SHIVE & PARVATI
Tali with Shiva, Durga.

Following Atharva Veda passages also confirm the usage of plant materials as talismans. Tamils give importance to Ganesh made up of Vellerukku plant.

Talismans in the Atharva Veda
Following list is taken from the book “Common Life in The Rig Veda and Atharva Veda” by Chhanda Chakraborty, Calcutta, 1977.

“ A study of the A.V. and the Kausika Sutra reveals the faith of the people in a number of amulets used for various purposes, both defensive and offensive. Certain herbs and plants as well as conch shells, lead etc. appear to have been used as amulets the chief of which are mentioned below.
1.Ajasrngi (AV 4-37):- Destroys the influence of Picasas, Asuras, Gandharvas etc.
2.Apaamarrga (AV 4-17;8-65; K 39-7-12): Removes all sorts of evil and is used against witch craft.
3.Astra (AV 19-46) : Kills one who curses
4.Asvatta (AV 3-6; KK 48-3-6): Destroys enemies
5.Badhaka (AV 8-8-3) :Used in Witchcraft
AV2

6.Darbamani (AV 19-28,29,30,32,33): Destroys enemies.Brings prosperity to warriors
7.Dasavrksa (AV 2-9;K 27-5,7) : Used against Brahmagraha
8.Jangida (AV 2-4; 19-34,35) Removes dangers arising from hostile demons and sorcerers
9.Khadira Nairbadhya : Used in Witchcraft
10.Havis Nairhasta (AV 6-75) : Used in Witchcraft

11.Havis Parnamani (K 19-22): Used for subduing enemies (Amulet of Palasa)
12.Phaalamani (AV10-6): Made up of Khadira wood and wrapped in gold, can destroy Dasyus.
13.Pratisara (AV 4-40;8-5-5, 20) :Repels hostile witchcraft which harms its performer himself; protects the wearer even against the Apsaras, Gandharvas and prosperity to him;Made from Sraktya Tree)
14.Prsniparni (AV 2-25) : Repels demons called Kanva.
15.Sraktyaa (AV 8-5, 8, 9) : Repels Abhicaara

AV3
16. Sadampuspaa ( AV 4-20; 5-1-1; K 28-7, 39-6): Used in Witchcraft; The wearer can see everything in front, at back, far and near, on earth and in the sky etc., kills sorcerers
17.Sahadevi Samkhamani : Same as Apaamaarga : Destroys the influence of Rakshasas, Amiiva, Sadanvaa etc.
18.Satavaara (AV 19-36) : Cures diseases like Yaksma, kills Rakshasas. Used against hostile Apsarases and Gandharvas.

tiger claw
Picture of Tiger Claw Talisman

19.Sisa (AV 1-16-1-2) : Used in Witchcraft.
20.Sunodivyasya (AV-6-80): Used in Witchcraft.
21.Havis Taarchya (K 48-24) : Made up of bone, according to some, of Palasa wood, according to others. Believed to ward off Pisacas, Viskhandas etc.
22.Trisandhyaa ( Made from the navel of a Snataka, hairs of a lion, a tiger, a goat or a ram, a bull or a king and pasted with lac, covered with gold. It is worn by a king so that he is endowed with lustre. For the same purpose another amulet made from pieces of a holy wood on which AV 3-6; 6-38, 39, 69; 11—1 are recited, is also prescribed. The seven vital parts of a lion and a tiger was mixed with.

aveda chart

Pictures are used from various sites;thanks.
Contact swami_48@yahoo.com

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