Tamil Hindu Encyclopaedia – 21 (Yaga, Yagnas, Gotras யாக, யக்ஞங்கள், கோத்ரங்கள்) – Post 11,421


Post No. 11,421

Date uploaded in London – 7 November 2022                  

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யாக, யக்ஞங்கள்

The wonder about 2000 year old Tamil Sangam literature is there is lot of information about Rajasuya Yagam (raaja suuya yaagam) Aswamedha Yaagam and many other Yagas. Puranamuru verse 166 gives very interesting information about 21 types of Yagas (FIRE CEREMONY) and 14 Types of Cows and other essentials for a fire ritual. There are other verses about Rajasuyam, Asvamedham, Yupa Pillars, Eagle shaped Altar of Karikal Choza, Deer hide dress of Yaga Performers, Dharma Patnis, Indra’s Amrita etc.

The significance increases because of the Sanskrit words Yupa (yuupa) Pillars, and references to Gotra names Kaundinya , Kausika, Vatula, Kavya, Gautama and Bharadwaja

Nachchinarkiniyar, the most famous commentator of Sangam literature was a Brahmin from Madurai belonging to Bhaaradwaaja Gotra. He was the one who wrote highest number of commentaries like Adi Shankara. He proudly declared that ‘Madurai resident Bhaaradwja Gotra Nachinakiniar wrote this’ at the end of each commentary. Without his commentary, no one would have understood Sangam Tamil poems.

Pura nanuru (naanuuru) verse 166 is about Paarppaan Kaundinya Gotra Vishnu Dasan of Choza Country Puunchaatruur sung by Avur Mulankizar (aavuur muulan kizaar)

It gives very valuable information about Hindu Yagas that were performed 2000 years ago in Tamil country. Dr R Ngaswami, great Historian and Archaeologist gives a lot of details about Gotras. U ve Swaminatha Iyer (U. VE. SA ), the doyen of Tamil literature , gives the list of 21 types of Yagas done by Vishnu Dasan of Purannanuu.

Vishnu Dasan is translated and Tamilized as Vinnan thaayaan. Paarppaan is the word used for Brahmin in this verse.

Dwija இரு பிறப்பாளர் is also used by Tamil Sangam Poets in addition to Anthanar and Paarppaan இரு பிறப்பாளர்பார்ப்பான், அந்தணர்Dwija mean one who has Two Births. Though it meant Brahmana, Kshatriya and Vaisya, mostly it meant Brahmins. One birth happens when the boy comes out of womb of his mother and another birth happens when he is baptised with Puunuul, the sacred thread (Yajnopaveetam).

ANTHANAR can be applied only to Brahmins because they are the one who are attributed with Six Duties. Seers/Sanyasins/Ascetics are not allowed to do fire rituals. Sangam literature clearly says ‘Six Duties Anthanar’ அறுதொழில் அந்தணர்.

Dwija இரு பிறப்பாளர்-  Murugu – line 182; Puram verse 367-12


Puram 166

Purananuru – Part 166

Translated by George L. III Hart

You who are descended from men renowned
for their superb learning, men who
performed to perfection all twenty-one
kinds of sacrifice, who confirmed
the truth, never thinking it false,
who understood lies that resembled truth,
thus defeating those who would contend
with the one ancient work of six sections
and four divisions, focused on Righteousness,
never swerving from the well-chosen words
of the Primal Being with his long, matted hair!
You glow in your black antelope skin
from dry forest land, needed for the ritual,
worn over the thread around your shoulder!
Your beloved wives, worthy of your high
station, flawlessly faithful, free of harshness,
renowned for their virtue, donning the sacred ornaments,
their foreheads small, their hips and thighs large and wide,
of few words and rich abundant hair, request their ritual responsibilities!
Whether in settled land or jungle, omitting
none of the fourteen sites, you pour out
more ghee than there is water, sacrifice
more times than there are numbers, spread
your fame wider than the earth, and at
the great moment when a difficult sacrifice is completed,
may we always see you in your high and perfect state, offering hospitality!
Once I have eaten, devoured the food and mounted
a chariot, I will celebrate my luck and then go off
to our city with its cool bathing places ever renewed
by the fresh waters of the Kaviri River spread
with flowers when above the tall gold-bearing mountain
in the west, the thunder roars! May you be
as firmly established over the earth

as Himalaya where the bamboo grows and rising mountains block the clouds!

நன்று ஆய்ந்த நீள் நிமிர் சடை

முது முதல்வன் வாய் போகாது,

ஒன்று புரிந்த ஈர் இரண்டின்,

ஆறு உணர்ந்த ஒரு முது நூல்

இகல் கண்டோர் மிகல் சாய்மார்,            5

மெய் அன்ன பொய் உணர்ந்து,

பொய் ஓராது மெய் கொளீஇ,

மூ ஏழ் துறையும் முட்டு இன்று போகிய

உரைசால் சிறப்பின் உரவோர் மருக!

வினைக்கு வேண்டி நீ பூண்ட  10

புலப் புல்வாய்க் கலைப் பச்சை

சுவல் பூண் ஞாண்மிசைப் பொலிய;

மறம் கடிந்த அருங் கற்பின்,

அறம் புகழ்ந்த வலை சூடி,

சிறு நுதல்பேர் அகல் அல்குல்,            15

சில சொல்லின்பல கூந்தல்நின்

நிலைக்கு ஒத்த நின் துணைத் துணைவியர்

தமக்கு அமைந்த தொழில் கேட்ப;

காடு என்றா நாடு என்று ஆங்கு

ஈர் ஏழின் இடம் முட்டாது,             20

நீர் நாண நெய் வழங்கியும்,

எண் நாணப் பல வேட்டும்,

மண் நாணப் புகழ் பரப்பியும்,

அருங் கடிப் பெருங் காலை,

விருந்துற்ற நின் திருந்து ஏந்து நிலை,             25

என்றும்காண்கதில் அம்மயாமே! குடாஅது

பொன் படு நெடு வரைப் புயலேறு சிலைப்பின்,

பூ விரி புது நீர்க் காவிரி புரக்கும்

தண் புனல் படப்பை எம் ஊர் ஆங்கண்,

உண்டும் தின்றும் ஊர்ந்தும் ஆடுகம்;                 30

செல்வல் அத்தையானேசெல்லாது,

மழை அண்ணாப்ப நீடிய நெடு வரைக்

கழை வளர் இமயம் போல,

நிலீஇயர் அத்தைநீ நிலம்மிசையானே?

திணை வாகை;

துறை பார்ப்பன வாகை.

சோணாட்டுப் பூஞ்சாற்றூர்ப் பார்ப்பான் கௌணியன் விண்ணந்தாயனை ஆவூர் மூலங்கிழார் பாடியது.

Following are the details we get from this Purananuru poem:

1.Paarppaan Vishnu dasan performed so many Yaagaas and as result of his innumerable Yagnaas that water was shamed (out performed or belittled) because of the Ghee he used in the Yagas, Number was shamed by the count of Yagas he performed, earth was shamed because of his far  spreading fame (if one reads the Bhumi Sukta of Atharvana Veda, one would get the full meaning of this word).

2.Vedas are Fuor in number and they are studied with Six ancillary subjects.

3. Vedas are recited by Shiva for ever. The word used here was MUTHU MAKAN ( I would interpret it as Brahma)

4.Vishnu Dasan knew what is Truth and what is Untruth and he stick to truth. Here the interpretation by few scholars says that untrue things were Buddhism and Jainism. But I would interpret is as Anti Ritual Hindu Sects. One of the six sects (Meemaasakas) said Vedic Rituals are more important than anything else. One other sect said they are not that important. Atheism (Charruvakam—chaaruvaakam—) , part of Hinduism, said that Vedas themselves are no important. Chaaruvaaka means pleasant  words- sweet words.

5.Vishnu Dasan was well versed in all the 21 types of Yagas. Manu smrti mentioned them separately. But U VE SA. Gives us the list of 21 Yagas.







Adhi Agnishtomam






















6.Women in Yagas

The verse also shows us that two women are needed for a man to do fire rituals. The man wore a uniform made of deer hide. Women wore the uniform known as Saalakam

7. Two X Seven Cows

The ghee (clarified butter ) for the Yaga, Yagnas are collected from Seven Wild Cows in the forest and Seven Domestic Cows.

(My comments: Hindus were great wild life lovers. They protected and respected even wild cows and wild bulls)

8.This poem is included in the genre called  ‘Paarppana Vaakai’ which meant Brahmin Victory. It means that a Brahmin is considered Victorious only when he performed all types of Yagas (Havan ceremonies)



Dr R Nagaswami, great historian and archaeologist, was the only Tamil who was well versed in Tamil, Sanskrit and English. World famous universities invited him to deliver lectures on various subjects. As an author of scores of books and thousands of articles, he published one book in Tamil titled YAAVARUM KELIR (year 1973). It has an article describing the Tamil Brahmins as found in Sangam Tamil literature and later inscriptions. No one has listed the Gotras like him.  Later K C Lakshminarayanan has written a voluminous book in Tamil as well detailing the Vedic thoughts in Tamil literature.


Gotras in Sangam Tamil literature:

Kaundinya ,Vaatula , Kausika ,Atreya , Kaavya ,Kaasyapa , Gargya, Gautama, (Agastya)

By Pallava times (400 CE to 800 CE) we come across 32 Gotras in Tamil Nadu and Andhra from their copper plates, according to Dr R Nagaswami.

Sangam poets proudly declared their Gotras and Gotras are prefixed with their names.

In the next part we will look at the Yagas and Yagnas done by Tamil Kings.

To be continued………………………….

Also read my old article

No Brahmins, No Tamil!! – Tamil and Vedas

https://tamilandvedas.com › 2012/01/14 › no-brahmins…

14 Jan 2012 — No BrahminsNo Tamil!! … Tamil is one of the oldest, richest and sweetest languages in the world. A great many people, irrespective of their …

No Brahmins, No Tamil!!

https://www.tamilbrahmins.com › threads › no-brahmin…

15 Nov 2011 — List of Brahmin poets and their contribution in Cankam literature: Agasthyar, who received Tamil language from Shiva himself. Tolkappiyar ( …

25 posts · Dear Sir, Greetings! You are a renowned scholar-but MOST of us ARE not. We are jus

Tags- புறநானூறு 166, Purananuru 166, Types of Yagas, Tamil Brahmins, Women in Yagna, Dwija, Gotras, Sangam Literature

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