Tamil Information from Valmiki Ramayana (Post No.7931)

WRITTEN BY LONDON SWAMINATHAN

Post No.7931

Date uploaded in London – 6 May 2020   

Contact – swami_48@yahoo.com

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Valmiki Ramayana gives us the following information regarding the Tamil customs :–

  1. A poet named Valmiki is in the 2000 year old Sangam Tamil literature and serious scholars believe it is ‘original’ Valmiki!
  2. Like Tamil poets faced Holy North and starved to death as atonement, we have an incident in Valmiki Ramayana.
  3. The great Tamil chozas came to Tamil Nadu from North Western India — Usinara desa — five Sangam poets sang about the glorious northern king Sibi Chakravarty who is portrayed as the forefather of the Chola kings. Support for this theory that both Rama and chola belong to the same tribe, the Chola flag and Bharata flag are shown one and the same in the Ramayana. All belong to Solar race- Surya Vamsa.
  4. South Indian men and women decorate their heads or ears with flowers. Valmiki describe this and attributed it to the southerners.
  5. Kapatapuram, which was the seat of Second Tamil Academy known as Tamil Sangam was located,  is mentioned by Valmiki. Supporting information comes from Kautilya of Arthasastra who also spoke about the ‘Pandya Kavata’, a variety of pearl.
  6. Last but not the least, the burial of Vratha, a demon, is described by some people as a Tamil custom. But it is rejected as baseless and absurd.

***

Before going into details, let me briefly describe the Pandya’s connection with the North.

Pandyas who belonged to Lunar race, Chandra Vamsa, are described as relatives of the Pandavas of Mahabharata. Both of them are called as Kauriar, descendants of Kuru. Great Tamil Brahmin commentator Nachchinarkiniar narrated the stories of the music competition between Agastya and Ravana, and the peace treaty between Ravana and the Pandyas. So this supports the theory that Tamils lived as a civilised group at the time of Ramayana.

But these are all considered un historical.

A historical account comes from the oldest section of Mahavamsa regarding what happened to Vijaya of sixth century BCE.

***

Mahavamsa

Sri Lankan Buddhist history book Mahavamsa narrated what happened in the sixth century BCE. On the day Buddha died, Vijaya, son of Simhabahu, landed in Sri Lanka. He was banished by his father for evil activities. At that time Sri Lanka was occupied by cannibals called Yakshinis. Ramayana also described Lanka the same way. This Vijaya married local Yakshini Queen called Kuveni. But Brahmin ministers advised him to marry an actual Kshatriya by birth. Then what happened is described in Mahavamsa as follows,

“Vijaya, son of Sihabhau (the lion armed) together with seven hundred followers landed in Ceylon from the country of Lala, Eastern Bengal, having been banished from that country by his father for evil conduct. He had been set adrift on a ship, he landed at Supparaka. Then he continued his journey in another ship and landed in Tambapanni, i.e. Ceylon. He became king of the country after defeating and slaying the Yakkas who lived there. And requiring wives for himself and his followers he sent people to the city of Madurai in the Dakshina (south) with gifts to woo the daughter of Pandu king and also secure wives for others.

A number of Tamil girls bedecked with ornaments accompanied by horses and elephants and wagons went to Ceylon”

So the Sinhalese are actually descendants of Tamils and Bengalis. Pali language of Buddha and Mahavamsa is closely related to Sanskrit.

Pandya king didn’t send his daughter and the daughters of his ministers just like that. He knew the history of Pandya’s peace treaty with Ravana.

And before this Arjuna married another Tamil girl Alli Rani also known as Chitrangada.

Vijaya’s marriage with the Tamil girl took place 2500 years ago and it is considered historical.

Patanjali of second century BCE derived the word Pandya from the word Pandu. Mahavamsa also describes Madurai king as a Pandava.

Xxx

Ravana abducting Sita in Cambodia Stamps.

Ramayana References

Ravana frequented Janasthana and other places in South India.

How was it possible?

Asoka’s son and daughter also reached Sri Lanka very easily from Patna in Bihar by using the monsoon. They knew if you leave on a particular day during the monsoon season ,without spending a single penny, you can reach Sri Lanka. In the same way return journey also planned using the monsoon. It is very clearly explained in Mahavamsa. The Sri Lanka partly waited in Patna known as Pataliputra 2600 years ago, for nearly six months for the returning monsoon to set in. South West monsoon returns after hitting the Himalayas. Ravana used Godavari banks as his play ground because he knew the monsoon winds. Some Indian scholars without studying Mahavamsa bluffed that Sri Lanka was a Godavari River island

This shows the connection between the south and north.

Now to the actual references

Kishkinda Kanda and Ayodhya Kanda of Valmiki Ramayana give few references to Tamil Nadu.

When the search parties were sent by the monkey tribe chief Sugriva, each party is given directions. The monkey party that went towards south were instructed to go past Andhra, Pundra ,Chola, Pandya countries.

But this passage of Kishkinda Kanda (sarga 42) is not found in Griffith’s edition. We may not know whether Griffith rejected it as wrong or it was inserted into southern version at a later date.

The second reference is about the golden gate decorated with pearls in the southern coast. The Sanskrit word Kavada stood for Gate. It was the Gate Way of India for anyone comes from the Southern Hemisphere. This Kapata pura was the seat of Second Tamil Academy called Tamil Sangam. Since this Kapata is confirmed in other Tamil sources and Kautilya’s Artha sastra, scholars consider it as historical.

The Dakshiina Madurai which was the seat of first Tamil

Academy may be the one mentioned in Mahavamsa.

This Kapatapuram and the Dakshina Madura were destroyed in two big Tsunamis according to two Tamil books. Geologists also confirm tsunamis that happened in second century BCE and earlier. Taking all these into accounts we may safely say that these incidents confirmed the existence of Tamils from sixth century BCE.

***

Now to the other references,

Tamils , both men and women, were famous for wearing flowers . Tamil literature described the flowers for each occasion.  Even the warriors wore different flowers when they went to the battle field. Like Greeks gave olive branches for the winners Tamils gave Vakai flowers and wore it on the head. As for women,  they always decorate their hair with flowers. When Valmiki describes the army of Bharata he mentioned this custom. It is in Ayodhya kanda, sarga 96.  Bharata says that our soldiers carry shields that look like clouds and they have flowers on their heads like southerners.

***

Fast unto Death

Tamils starve to death if they are insulted or something goes wrong. Two great kings Peruncheralathan and Kopperum cholan went on fast unto death and great poets joined them. This is called Prayopavesam.

Similar to this there is an anecdote in the Ramayana. When Angathan’s search party failed to locate Sita Devi he decided to starve to death. He prepared a seat with the holy ‘darbha ‘grass and stood facing east. (Kishkinda Kanda Sarga 56.

Ayodhya Kanda Sarga 48 also has a reference: When Rama was banished for 14 years, people were thinking of taking Mahaprasthana Vrata. That means one will walk towards North until the body falls on the ground.

Pancha Pandavas, five Pandavas , walked towards Holy North and fell to death one by one. A dog also accompanied them.

***

Kovidhara Tree Flag

Bharata’s flag was the Kovidhara tree. And this was the same tree used by the Chola kings for their garlands. The three great Tamil kings Chera, Chola and Pandya wore different flower garlands. But when a Chola king wore two different garlands that meant he won that king as well. A reference to Palmyra flower garland brings out lot of interesting information.

When Guha saw the army of Bharata coming towards him, he saw the flag according to Ayodhya Kanda Sarga 84.

Three branched palmyra tree, ten branched palmyra trees are mentioned in the Ramayana as land marks or Marking trees in the east and west.. A Tamil scholar says that these were land marks used by  victorious kings.

Another interesting fact comes from the last chapter of Ramayana. When Vibhishana , the newly crowned king of Sri Lanka, said Good Bye to Rama and party, he gave Rama a golden memento of seven palmyra trees. This may be due to Rama’s arrow piercing of seven trees at one go with one arrow. Or it may be something thing to do with the three or ten headed/ branched palmyra trees .

***

Tamil poet Valmiki

Author of Purananuru verse 358 is Valmiki. Tamil spelling with the honorific ending ‘aar’ is Vanmikanaar. The reason for identifying him with the author of Ramayana is that he glorified penance. He said in his Tamil verse that penance is great and family life is an iota. In spite of his philosophical view we cannot place him nearer to original Valmiki. His language betrays him.

***

Burial or Cremation

The shapeless fleshy bodied demon Vratha requested Rama to bury him. Some people pointed out this was a Tamil custom which is wrong. Like Rig Veda we have references to both burial and cremation in Tamil literature. In fact, we even have a few references to Sati custom in the ancient Tamil book Purananuru. Sati, which means wife throwing herself into the funeral fire of her husband, is neither in the Rig Veda nor in the Manu Smrti.

Valmiki left us lot of minute details which needed more attention and research.

To put it in a nut shell, the above references give clear evidence for Valmikis knowledge about South India and Tamil customs.

tags — Tamil information, Valmiki Ramayana, Bharata flag, Kapatapuram, use of flowers, Prayopavesa, Mahaprasthana

–subham–

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