Tamil Hindu Encyclopaedia -44 நீர்த்துறைக்‌ கடவுள்‌ Nereids of Greeks (Post No.11,607)


Post No. 11,607

Date uploaded in London – 31 December 2022                  

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பேய் பிசாசு பூதம் Ghosts/ Ghouls/ Spirits  continued

This is part 3

நீர்த்துறைக் கடவுள் WATER NYMPHS

Water gods were called நீர்த்துறைக் கடவுள் in Sangam Tamil literature and the Greeks called them Nereids. So Tamil word found in the Rig Veda Neer for water is not a Tamil word. It is in Greek as well. It is a word common for Tamil and Sanskrit. All ancient languages are derived from Sanskrit and Tamil.

We have references in Ainkurunuru(nuuru) for the water nymphs troubling womenfolk:-

. ‘உண்துறை அணங்கு இவள்‌: (ஐங்‌.28:1),

துறை எவன்‌ அணங்கும்‌‘ (ஐங்‌.88:1),

அருந்திறற்‌ கடவுள்‌ அல்லன்‌! – பெருந்துறைக்‌ கண்டு இவள்‌

அணங்கியோனே: (ஐங்‌.188:3-4)

கடவுட்‌ கற்சுனை: (நற்‌.34:1), ‘சூர்ச்சுனை”  (Even in Ponds the nymphs live)


(௮௧.91:4) . ‘நல்யாற்று நடுவும்‌! (பரி.4:67),

கவின்பெறு துருத்‌தியும்‌‘ (முருகு,888) Even in river islands according to Paripatal and Murugu.


Tamils believed that the gods of nature live where the river meets the sea

கொடுஞ்சுழிப்‌ புகாஅர்த்‌ தெய்வம்‌ நோக்கி,

கடுஞ்சூழ்‌ தருகுவன்‌நினக்கே‘ (அக.110:4-5)  according to Akam110.

A woman swears on God residing there.


Sea Goddess

Of all the Water Gods or Nymphs, Sea God was the great one. Women used to swear on sea gods , according to Kali.131

பெருங்கடற்‌ தெய்வம்‌ நீர்நோக்கித்‌ தெளித்துஎன்‌.

திருந்திழை மென்றோள்‌ மணந்தவன்‌! (கலி.131:1-2)


Following are the references to Sea Gods found in Sangam Tamil corpus:

. ‘அணங்குடை முந்நீர்‌:.   (Nymph residing Sea) Akam(௮௧.820:1), ‘பெருந்துறைப்‌ பரப்பின்‌ அமர்ந்து உறை.

அணங்கோ?Natr.( நற்‌.185:2-6),

 ‘கடல்கெழு. செல்வி: Akam(௮௧.370:18)


The Taml Hindus not only described the Sea Nymphs like the Greek’s Oceanids , but Sangam Tamils also described they wear garlands of Gnazal flowers and Neithal flowers:


வண்டுபடத்‌ ததைந்த கண்ணிநெய்தல்‌.

தண்நறும்‌ பைந்தார்‌ துயல்வர. அந்தி,

கடல்கெழு செல்வி கரை நின்றாங்கு ‘ Akam 270 (௮௧.270:9-12)


Tamil Hindus worshipped Sea Goddess with folded hands (Namaste) according to Akam 240

அணங்குடைப்‌ பனித்துறை கைதொழுது ஏத்தி,

யாயும்‌ ஆயமோடு அயரும்‌: (அ௧.240:8-9)


They also offered Pearls, Special Conches to the Goddess

வினைநவில்‌ யானை விறற்போர்ப்‌ பாண்டியன்‌

புகழ்மலி சிறப்பின்‌ கொற்கை முன்துறை

அவிர்‌ கதிர்‌ முத்தமொடு வலம்புரி சொரிந்து,

தழை அணிப்‌ பொலிந்த கோடு ஏந்து அல்குல்‌

பழையர்‌ மகளிர்‌ பனித்துறை பரவ‘ (௮க.201.3-7)


Valmiki and Kamban

In Valmiki and Kamba Ramayana, we see Lord Rama worshipping the Sea before building a bridge across the sea to Sri Lanka. When Varuna, the Sea God, delayed his presence, Rama became angry and then Varuna apologised.

We see such scenes in Sangam literature and later Tiru Vilaiyadal Purana. When Pandya Kings became angry they fight with the sea and make it go backward.

We see such stories in Parasurama reclaiming Land in Kerala (old Chera country). Even today Malayalees boast that they live in God’s Own Land.

In Sangam period Tamils celebrated INDRA VIZA to pacify Sea God. When they stopped doing it, Sea Gods became angry and caused havoc according to Tamil epics Silappadikaram and Manimegalai.

One of the oldest Pandyas who did innumerable Yagas and Yajnas was Mudukudumi Peruvazuthi (In Sanskrit Jata varman). His celebration of such Sea festival is in Puram 9-10

‘ முந்நீர் விழவின்‌ நெடியோன்‌! (புற.9:10)


We saw in one of the passages that Tamil women gave expensive pearls and rare Valampuri Changu (Dextrous Conch) to Sea Goddess. Ordinary Tamils offered sea Gods just Bali in the form of garlands, toddy, goat (sacrificial offering) like they offered for Land Gods according to Akam verse 156

கள்ளும்‌ கண்ணியும்‌ கையுறையாக:

நிலைக்கோட்டு வெள்ளை நால்செலிக்‌ கிடாஅய்‌.

நிலைத்துறைக்‌ கடவுட்கு உளப்பட ஓச்சி‘ (௮௧.166:13-18)



In the Mahabharata Vana Parva chapter we come across the Tree Yaksha and we have123  beautiful questions and answers. Tamils also believed that Gods or Spirits live on Trees.

In Valmiki Ramayana we see Sita Devi worshipping the Banyan Tree. Tamils strongly believed that Gods reside there.

In Vishnu Sahasranama we see Three Trees belonging to the same family and same genus are portrayed as Lord Vishnu.

Ficus Bengalensis (Nyagrodha), Ficus Glomerata (Udumbara) and Ficus Religiosa (Asvaththa)

Throughout South East Asia, we see Vata Tree/ banyan tree as abodes of all Gods (Anghor Vat/ banyan tree temple is the largest temple in the world)
vat= Vata Tree= Banyan Tree= Angor VAT

Sangam Tamils worshipped these trees as well

It is interesting to find such belief existed from Vedic Age.

காடும்‌. காவும்‌ கவின்‌ பெறு துருத்தியும்‌‘ (முருகு.223)

Forests, parks and gardens, river islands are the places where Gods are- Murugu 223

Tamils believed that Gods reside at the bottom part of the trees

கடவுள்‌ மரத்த முள்‌ மிடை குடம்பை(௮௧.270:18),

*நல்‌௮ரை மராஅத்த கடவுள்‌: (மலைபடு.395),

தொன்றுஉறை. கடவுள்‌ சேர்த்த பராரைமன்றப்‌ பெண்ணை: (நற்‌.300:3-4),

தெய்வம்‌ சேர்ந்த. பராரை வேம்பில்‌:. (௮௧.309:4) .


More references to Banyan Tree ஆலமரம்‌

குறுந் 15-1; நாற்ற.343-3/6;  புற.199:1; கலி.101:18-14, 106:38-29),

மரா மரம் குறுந்.87-1; : மலைபடு.395; கலி.101:13),


Following  trees were also considered sacred:-

Kadampa கடம்பு -(பதிற்‌.88:6 கலி.10:38);

Vengai வேங்கை (நற்‌.216:6-7),

Omai ஓமை (௮௧.297:11),

Vempu/ Neem/ Margosa வேம்பு (அ௧.309:4-6),

Maruthu மருது (பெரும்‌.232);

Palmyra/ Panai பனை (நற்‌.303:3-4),

Kalli கள்ளி (புற.260:5)

Because of this Hindu belief Nature was preserved in its pristine form.

Today in all Tamil temples we have sacred trees called  ‘sthala vrksha’.


Victorious Goddess in Vaakai Tree

Like the Greeks olive tree, Tamils considered Vaakai Tree as the symbol of Victory. They wore Vaakai flowers when they won the war. And the goddess of victory in Hinduism is Kotravai/ Durga.

So Tamils believed that Goddess live in Vaakai Tree

.கடவுள்‌ வாகைத்‌ துய்வீ” (பதிற்‌:66-15),

Ancient commentators gave us this information.


Worshipping Trees with Goat Blood

Tamils worshiped trees in the traditional way. They offered goat and rice to the gods or spirits living in tree. They saw them as troublesome spirits

மன்ற மராஅத்த பேஎம்‌ முதிர்கடவுள்‌‘ (குறுந்‌.87:1) troublesome god

Some interesting similes show that Tamil Hindus garlanded the trees to satisfy the gods residing there. When the Tamil Yadavas went to fight with the bulls, some of them were gored and butchered by them and their intestines were picked up by the vultures. A few of them fell on the tree branches and were hanging. A poet compared these hanging human intestines to hanging garlands of devotees (Kali 106-2/29)

Another scene show that the goats slaughtered for Tree Gods and the rice mixed with blood offered to such gods and the food was shared by crows as well

நெடுவீழ்‌ இட்ட கடவுள்‌ ஆலத்து,

உருபலி அருந்திய தொகுவிரற்‌ காக்கை * (Banyan Tree God was offered Bali and crows sharing)

புன்கண்‌ அந்தி கிளைவயின்‌ செறிய’ (நற்‌.343:4-6),

தெய்வம்‌ சேர்ந்த பராரை வேம்பில்‌

கொழுப்புஆ எறிந்து, குருதி தூஉய்‌, 

புலவுப்‌ புழுக்கு உண்ட வான்கண்‌ அகல்‌ அறை’ (௮௧.309:4-6)

To be continued…………………………………………………………

tags- Tamil Sangam literature, Tree nymphs, Water goddess, Spirits

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