TAMILS KNEW RIVER GANGA BUT NOT SINDHU!! (Post No.7875)

RESEARCH ARTICLE WRITTEN BY LONDON SWAMINATHAN

Post No.7875

Date uploaded in London – 24 April 2020   

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Holy Kailash

HOLY GANGA AND HIMALAYAS IN TAMIL SANGAM LITERATURE

 Tamil language has 18 old books called Sangam literature. Sangam is a Sanskrit word meaning association, assembly. In Tamil it was used for association of Tamil poets. But it did one additional task of preserving the quality of the language. It was like an academy and gave approval only to standard works . Oldest grammarian Tolkappiar in his book ‘TOLKAPPIAM’ banned Tamils from using words beginning with ‘SA’ and yet Tamils used the Sanskrit word Sangam for their academy. This academy existed from first century BCE for at least 400 years .

Ancient Tamils were very familiar with holy river Ganga  and holy Himalayas. They never said a single word about Sindhu or holy Sarasvati river.

Even the praise about Holy Ganga and Holy Himalayas was copied from Kalidasa. I doubt all the poets who praised them actually went to the Himalayas which is 3000 miles away from Tamil Nadu . They were very much influenced by Kalidasa’s works. Sangam poets used 200 of Kalidasa’s 1500 similes and imageries. That showed that Kalidasa lived in 2nd century BCE which date is supported by Sanskrit and foreign scholars.

TAMILS AND INDUS VALLEY CIVILISATION

The surprising thing about Tamil Sangam works is that they have no knowledge of river Sarasvati or river Sindhu. It proved that Tamils have nothing to do with Indus- Sarasvati River basin civilization. They have mentioned only Yavanas of Rome because of their commercial contacts with them in the first few centuries of common era CE . They have also mentioned  Yavanas of north western India . They may be Greeks or original Yavanas, i.e. one of the four types of Yavanas mentioned in Indian literature.

Tamils mentioned holy Ganges and holy Himalayas at least 15 times . Following are the important references-

Avur Mulankizar who shows his amazing knowledge about 21 types of Hindu Yagas and yajnas in Purananauru (Puram.) verse 166 depicts Himalayas. He describes the great height of the mountains saying that the clouds have to look up and climb over them. He wished a brahmin Srotria, Kaundinya Vishnu Dasan (Vinnan Thayan in Tamil)  to live like the Himalayas. That is with eternal fame like the northern mountains. When he described the mountains he adds the words long mountain chain which shows his thorough knowledge of Kalidasa. The length of the Himalayan range is approximately 1500 miles. Kalidasa described it as the ‘measuring rod of the earth’!

A poet named Rudraksha – in Tamil  Katiyalur Uruttiran Kannanar — depicted the Himalayas and the Ganga descending from it in his work Perumpanatruppadai – lines 429-431

Mamulanar must be one of the oldest poets in the Sangam period. He sings the praise of Nandas and Mauryas of 4th century BCE. In one of his poems in

Akananuru , verse 265, he picturises the sky high Himalayas. He states that it rises high like smoke , approaches the sky  and there looks like flame covered with snow.

I believe that he really went to Himalayas and saw the golden mountain Kailash. The Himalayan range when covered with snow glows like shining gold in the sunlight .

The roar of thunder is generally said to be harsh. It is so fierce that it splits hills and even it shakes the Himalayas according to  Kuruntokai verse 158 by Avvaiyar.

Poet Paranar’s beautiful poem about bird migration is in Natrinai poem 356. He sang about the migratory swans/geese that took fishes in the southern coast and going to Himalayas to feed its young ones. He compared it with hero’s heart that always longed for his sweet heart and always travel towards her.

Purananuru is the book among the 18 works of Sangam corpus , that has the oldest poems. And in particular the first 10 or 15 poems talk about the ancient Tamil kings. Tamil poets bless their patrons and kings to live a long and happy life for as many years as the drops of rain water poured on earth or the grains of sand on the sea shore or the river bed or bank or to live unperturbed and most reputed and unique life like the mountains, the Himalayas and the Potiya mountains .

Puram 166 of Avur mulankizar and Puram verse 2 Muranjiyur Mudinagarayar referred to the Himalayas thus. Muranjiyur Mudinagarayar is Mr. Nagaraja (Sanskrit name)  .

He is unique because he mentioned about the feeding of Panadavas and Kauravas during Mahabharata war by the Chera king Uthiyan Cheralathan. He is the one who used all the descriptions of Kalidasa in four lines such as the brahmins in the Himalayas worshipping three types of fires by the side of deer at the foot hills of the Himalayas.

Though Sangam literature never mentioned Agastya by name this poet praised Potiya mountains in the south with the Himalayas in the north. All the Tamil literature talk about lord Shiva in the Himalaya sending Agastya to south who settled on the Potiya  for ever. Two centuries before him, Kalidasa mentioned the Pandyas and Agastya for the first time in Indian literature (Raghuvamsa). This poem is unique which showed the influence of Kalidasa on Sangam poets.

**

Muthukudumi Peruvazuthi was one of the most ancient Pandya kings who has the epithet, ‘one who had many yaga salas’ . He lived before the great tsunami that devoured lot of Tamil lands. His river

Pahruli is praised by the poets and that river disappeared like the Vedic Sarasvati river after a tsunami. The poems mentioned the Himalayas as big northern rock and snow covered long mountain chain in Puram poems 6 and 17 by poets Karikizar and Krunkoliyur kizar .

**

Mudamosiyar of Uraiyur enicheri , author of puram verse 132, also repeated all that is said about the Himalayas such as deer grazing the Narantham grass taking rest by the side of the holy seers. Scenes described by Kalidasa.

**

Kumattur Kannanar who sang the glory of

Imayavaramban Neduncheralathan in Pathirupathu goes one step further in describing the Himalayas.  He says that the deer are sleeping and dreaming about the Narantham grass which they ate in the morning and the waterfalls. He also described the Himalaya as the place of Aryas and the commentators interpreted Aryaas as the Holy seers. (Pathirupathu verse 11)

Xxxx

River Ganga (Ganges)

Nalvellaiyar , author of Natrinai verse 369 , says

“My love and feelings are uncontrollable like the Ganges  floods  that overflows the banks and smashes the dams  in its course “; powerful description of the feelings of an amorous woman.

**

Mankudi Maruthan was the head of Tamil poets at the time of Pandya King Neduncheziyan. He sang the longest poem with 782 lines named ‘Madurai Kanchi’. He described the Ganges as wide as the sea (Line 696)

**

Poet Maha Chitra –in Tamil Perunchittiranar – used Ganges in a simile in Purananuru 161,

The description of the holy river and the Himalayas is most appropriate and highly realistic. The clouds rise from the sea, gather themselves, appear huge and dark like mountains in the sky , roar with thunder and pour in torrents; when such a rainy season is past and when the summer reigns supreme making the lakes and rivers everywhere dry , the Ganges flows full of water for  the benefit of the whole of mankind, mostly in summer as it is then that the snow in the Himalayas melt and flow into Ganga. The poet describes it in comparison with the bountiful help rendered by the philanthropist and patron Kumanan.

**

The Ganges descending from the Himalayas is always overflowing its banks – Purananuru 161, Perumpanatruppadai 429-31

**

Later Tamil epics Silappadikaram and Manimegalai have more references to the Ganges river and Himalayan mountain ranges. The very fact that King Senguttuvan took a holy stone from the Himalayas and bathe it in the Holy river Ganga shows the sanctity  of the river.

Source book

The Treatment of Nature in Sangam Literature, M Varadarajan, 1969

**

Two of the poems already quoted in the above passage are translated by P T Srinivasa Iyengar as follows:–

Puram 2 by Mudinagarayar/Nagarajah

“May you live without fear,  your full length of years , like the Podiya hill and the gold peaked Himalayas on whose side the small headed stag and the large eyed hind sleep beneath the light of the Triple Fire at which Brahmins offer their evening libations”.

**

Pathitrupathu 11 by Kumattur Kannanar

“You quelled the valour of those who called themselves monarchs of the land between Kumari  on the south and the famous Himalayas on the north , where the aryas / saints abound and the yak sleeps on the hills covered thick with the Oleander and dreams of the broad mountain streams and the Narantham grass.”

There are other references where vague terms such as Northern Big Rock and northern long chain of hills are used.

–subham–

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