Tamil Hindu Encyclopaedia (அவுணர்/அசுரர்) -5 (Post No.11,342)


Post No. 11,342

Date uploaded in London – 10 OCTOBER 2022                  

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Tamil word for Asura is Avunarஅவுணர். It is a very interesting word. It shows Hinduism was deep rooted in Tamil Nadu even before Sangam period. This word is purely a Tamil word. Sanskrit word for Avunar is Asura which is used only in Post Sangam books Silappadikaram and Manimegalai. They are twin epics of Tamil language.


Asura means demon; evil being; malevolent, ferocious.

In the early part of Rig Veda, it is used as an epithet for Vedic Gods like Varuna, Agni etc. There it meant forceful, powerful, supreme spirit.

Tamils coined their own word AVUNAR for Asura. That means Hinduism was deep rooted and they had their own dictionary for all Vedic ceremonies. Kanchi Paramacharya (1894- 1994) has rightly pointed out that Tamils even coined the word  Velvi in Sangam period for ‘Yagna’ and that means Tamils religion is Hinduism.

2000 year old Sangam poems glorify Lord Shiva, Lord Muruga/Skanda, Lord Vishnu and Lord Krishna  as destroying Avunar/demons. They were so well versed in the Hindu Puranas they use them as similes in various circumstances. Tamil poems in this field are full of Hindu mythology.


Coming back to the word AVUNAR for Asura we find it in the following places in Sangam Tamil literature. When I write this,  I think Hinduism probably originated in Tamil Nadu and spread to the Sarasvati river. It is not a long shot. The Purananuru usage of Avunar episode made me to think that way.

Puram 174-1; Kuru-1-1; Mathurai- line 590; Muruku line 59;Pathitru-11-4 and Pari.1-26, 3-31, 3-54, 5-7, 8-8,  Kali – 1-3

Later we find them in Silappadikaram along with Asura.

The etymology of Avunar is strange and mysterious; I cant find any Sanskrit root for it.

Pura naanuuru 174 by poetess Miss Suma Latha or Haritha (in Tamil Nap pasalai of Marokkam) sang about a solar eclipse and Lord Vishnu or Krishna saving the world. The early Part of Rig Veda also had this episode. Miss Nappasalai said that  Sun was stolen by the AVUNAR (asura) and the world was engulfed in darkness and suffering. And came the collyrium coloured Black God  and brought back the sun.

(My interpretation of this poem is Mahabharata episode of Arjuna killing Jayadartha; Krishna knowing solar eclipse occurring on that day , made Jayadratha to lay down arms; he thought that the sun has set and so the days battle was over; when he did so, in a few minutes the sun came out, before which Arjuna killed Jayadratha.)

The poetess used this to compare with an act of an army commander by name Mr Krishna ( in Tamil Tiruk Kannan) . He went to the mountain where the defeated Choza king was hiding from enemies and brought him back to the Choza country and crowned him again as king.

The Asuras (Rahu, Ketu) devouring Sun and Moon during eclipse period is found throughout ancient Tamil and Sanskrit literature. Though Hindus knew very well that only it is dark shadow that caused the eclipses, for the sake of  laymen, they concocted the story of Rahu /Ketu  demons.

The real meaning is Darkness or Darker forces are Avunar.

In other poems two more Hindu episodes are referred to. One is the famous Vamana/Trivikrama Avatara of Lord Vishnu. When Bali Chakravarthy ( Emperor Maa Vali) , grand son of Prahalda, was ruling, his name and fame spread all over the earth as a great philanthropist. Since he belonged to Asura/Avuna race jealous Indra sent Vishnu as a pigmy Brahmin boy (Vamana, the shortest, pigmy) who asked Bali to donate him just three feet land. When Bali said ‘Granted’, the Brahmin boy (lord Vishnu) took gigantic steps and measured the Earth and Sky with two steps and for the third step, magnanimous Bali bowed his head. Lord Vishnu pushed him down and he went to Paataala Loka (South America, where he became part of Mayan/Olmec civilization). But since people were so fond of him, Lord Vishnu allowed him to visit India every Onam Star Day. Kerala people still celebrate it on a grand scale, glorifying Maha Bali. Onam is mentioned in Mathuraik Kaanchi line 590. In Mullaippaattu also we come across the Vamana avatara. Also Pari paatal 3-54

Paripaatal 3-54 mentioned that the Avunar/demons jumped into the sea to escape.


Palaikkali author Perum Katunko sang about Lord Shiva burning down the three Sky Castles of Avunar/demon.

(See Kali 1-3/5)


The other story mentioned by the Tamil poems (Pari 3-31) is another demon who came as a horse. Actually he was called horse demon because his hair looked like the hair of horse (mane). Kaduvan Ilaveyinanaar composed it. Kesi is the Sanskrit name for the horse haired demon.


Kurunthokai first verse is composed by a poet by name Tipputh Tholaar. He sang about Lord Skanda killing Avunar/demon (Kuru 1-1/2)

Nakkirar also mentioned Lord Skanda /Muruga killing Avunar/demon (Muruku line 59); Kumattur Kannan (Mr Krishna of Kumattur)  also mentioned Lord Skanda/ Murugaa killing demon.

Muruku= Tiru Murukaatrup Patai

Paripaataal narrates all the mythological stories of Lord Krishna and Lord Muruga/Skanda.

To be continued………………………….

Tags- அவுணர்/அசுரர், Onam, Maha Bali, Skanda, Vishnu, Krishna, demon, Vamana, Trivikrama

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