Post No. 11,059

Date uploaded in London – –    28 JUNE 2022         

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Pearl and coral are found in ancient Sanskrit and Tamil literature with similar sounding words. They may have common origin. Both are taken from sea creatures.

Pearl is taken from oyster shells and corals are collected from coral reefs, which are living animals.

Sanskrit word for pearl is Mukta or Mauktika; similar to Tamil word Muthu.

Paral is also used in Tamil which may be derived from Sanskrit Pravaala. Strangely several European languages have similar words to Paral or Pravaala for pearl.

But Tamil Pavalam/coral can also be derived from Pravala.

In short, there is a confusion in using Paral/Pearl/Pravala/Pavala. It may mean pearl or coral.

But both are the products of sea creatures.


Mukta means released, spit out. Mukti for liberation is a popular word in Hinduism

Since it is released (liberated) from the oyster shells, people might have called it Mukta. Both Tamil and Sanskrit use it for the water drops that come out of the body or any other source. Drops of sweat, drops of eye tears are also described as Mukta, Muthu.

These words are available from at least 2000 year old Hindu literatures.

From Vedic days Hindus believed that water drops fallen into the mouths of oyster shells during a particular period becomes pearls. It is in Tamil and Sanskrit literature (See my earlier articles for further details)


Pearl in Shakespeare

In Latin a pearl is UNIO. Pliny says it was a unique gem. The reason is pearls are only found singly. In zoology, they belong to Unionidae.

In Middle English, union means, ‘ a pearl of large size, good quality and great value’. Romans bought them for a high prize, because they believed in the magical properties of the pearls. The best Union pearls were called ‘Orient’, because they came from Indian ocean islands. The Arabs traded  in them. They borrowed the Swahili word for pearl LULU .

Lulu now means money. It is in woman’s name as well. Swahili salutation is ‘Hujambo kama lulu?’ which means ‘Are you as well as a pearl?’

Another word for pearl in Europe is Maragarita; woman’s name derived from it is -Margaret.

Hindus also use the name of pearl for men and women ; Muthu lakshmi, Muthu swami, Kalimuthu etc.

Pliny said that Maragarita is a barbarian word; neither Latin nor Greek; may be a Babylonian word?

The Romans believed that pearls dissolved in vinegar was good for health. Pliny says that both Egyptian queen Cleopatra and Roman king Claudius drank that potion.

In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, another Claudius drops an union into a cup of poisoned wine and gives it to Hamlet, who later forces the wine upon the dying Claudius with the pun, ‘is thy union here?’


The school boys’ pun on Union and Onion is also interesting. Both have layers. Like the pearl , onion also has layers or coats

Another similarity is between the doors and oyster pearls. Oyster shells open and shut like doors. Folding doors in English were once called Bivalves (sea shells). In the open form, two oyster shells look like Number Eight 8. The French word for oyster is huitre, derived from Latin Octo which is from Sanskrit Ashta (8).

From Number 8 shaped, double door shaped, open oyster shells, we get Margarete alias Muthu!

Source : The Book of Babel , Nigel Lewis (with my inputs)

My old articles on Gems

pearls in vedas | Tamil and Vedas › tag › pearls-in-vedas

17 May 2014 — The qualities of pearl are eight:- 1)Sthula – big 2)Vrtta – round 3) Talarahita – without a flat surface 4) Diptiyukta – Lustrous 5)Sveta – …

pearls | Tamil and Vedas › tag › pearls

30 Mar 2016 — Posts about pearls written by Tamil and Vedas. … wearing the Peel pearls, was approached by a lady of lineage who said maliciously,

Nagaratna/ Cobra Jewel, Rubies and Emeralds in Brhat Samhita › 2015/02/11 › nagaratna-co…

11 Feb 2015 — Varahamihira devoted sixty six verses for gem stones in his Sanskrit encyclopaedia Brhat Samhita. He was more interested in pearls than any …

hindus and gems | Tamil and Vedas › tag › hindus-and-gems

15 Nov 2016 — There are said to be nine places in which pearls are found. … about the good gems mentioned by Kalidasa and Varahamihira (Brhat Samhita).

Amazing Encyclopaedia Brhat Samhita! – Tamil and Vedas › 2015/02/07 › amazing-enc…

7 Feb 2015 — Varahamihira (505 –587 CE) was a great astronomer, mathematician, scientist, poet, astrologer and … 81, 82, 83 Pearls, Rubies and Emeralds.

GEM STONES IN KALIDASA & TAMIL LITERATURE › 2012/02/13 › gem-stones-i…

13 Feb 2012 — Kalidasa gives more similes about pearls. He describes the river that is running circling a mountain as a garland of pearls( Ragu.13-48 and …

You’ve visited this page 3 times. Last visit: 11/05/22

Pearl is available from Twenty Sources! (Post No.3538) › 2017/01/12 › pearl-is-avail…

12 Jan 2017 — Biologists know only one place where pearl is born. Sanskrit literature lists only … Kalidasa speaks of pearls from the head of elephants.

Sources of pearls – Tamil and Vedas › tag › sources-of-pearls

9 Feb 2015 — Today I will give you some interesting information on pearls and compare it with Kalidasa and Sangam Tamil literature.


 tags – Hamlet, Cleopatra, Claudius, Peral, Paral, Pravala, Coral, Tamil, Sanskrit, Muthu, Mukta

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