Custom of Garlanding and Flower Giving in Tamil and Sanskrit Literature (Post No.3550)

Giving Flowers to a woman began in India.


Written by London swaminathan


Date: 16 January 2017


Time uploaded in London:- 21-06


Post No.3550



Pictures are taken from different sources; thanks.






Garlanding statues of Gods and leaders, garlanding visiting dignitaries are common sights in India. Exchanging garlands is a marriage ritual as well. Giving flowers to women, offering flowers to Gods are also an everyday sight in India. All these started with the Hindus thousands of years ago according to Sanskrit and Tamil literature.


Jayamala ceremony is part of a marriage in North and South, showing Indian culture is one.

In my article FLOWERS IN TAMIL CULTURE posted on 25th August 2012, I have dealt with the Flower vendors in Sangam Tamil Literature, Kapilar’s listing of 99 flowers, Tamil classification of flowers, Tamil’s obsession with flowers even in the wars, 27 leaves to God Vinayaka, Famous Andal garland of Srivilliputtur, Onam Pukkolam and Pushpanchali.


Garlands are used from the Swayamvara (A princess choosing a King as her husband by garlanding) days.


Giving flowers to women was also started by the Hindus at least 2000 years ago. Let me give some examples from Kalidasa’s works:-


In the most famous drama of Sakuntala (Act 7-1), we read about garlands:

“Glancing up with a smile at Jayanta, his son

who stood beside him longing inwardly for the same,

Hari placed around my neck the Mandara garland

tinged with golden sandal rubbed off his chest”




In the Kumara Sambhava (3-22), the Master’s command is imagined to be a garland offered as a gift of favour.

In the Raghu vamsa (18-29)the king was, as it were, the crest garland of his race suggesting thereby the marks of a good rule.

The Love god whose energy had diminished with the departure of spring seems to be regaining his vim and vigour through the head hair of pretty women, for they are letting it loose after a bath aesthetically, per-fumigating it tastefully, and slicing evening jasmine flowers pleasingly. [16-50]


(Kiraataarjuniiyam also has a reference).



In the Raghuvamsa (6-80), Indumati’s glance itself was like the Swayamvara garland to Aja. The flowers in the garland were fresh and white and her steady glances were also white.

Keeping flowers in the ear or just above the ear is also mentioned in Kalidasa:-

Meghaduta. – 28, 67


“Where women toy with a lotus held in hand

twine fresh jasmines in the hair

the beauty of their faces glows pale gold

dusted with the pollen of lodhra flowers

fresh amaranth blooms encircle the hair-knot

a delicate Sirisa mestles at the ear

and on the hair parting lie Kadamba blossoms

born at your coming (verse 67, Megaduta)


Sakuntala : 1-4; 1-30; 6-18; in the prologue as well.


Raghu.7-26; 9-28, 9-43, 16-62

In the Tamil literature

Flower or tender plant in the ear:

Kurinjip paattu (Kapilar) 119-120

Tiru murukku-(Nakkirar)-30-31; 207

Paripaatal – 11-95; 12-88



Kuruntokai belongs to Sangam period. The very first verse is about a man giving flowers to a woman he loves. It is sung by Tiputolar.


Natrinai, part of 2000 year old Tamil Sangam Literature, describes the garland worn by a man who came to see his lady love. He came wearing a garland made up of wild jasmine flowers and Bilva (Vilvam) leaves. Kalidasa also mentioned jasmine flowers in the hair of women. It showed that there was only one culture from the southern most part to the Northern Himalayas.


one of the verses in Marutham genre describes that when the farmers go to the fields, heroines (women) get flowers and garlands.

Natrinai verse 173 says that the women gathered flowers and made into a garland for Lord Skanda. She did it to so that her lover would marry her soon.

Purananuru verse 106 by Kapilar mentions that god wont reject even leaves and grass offered, reflecting the Bhagavad Gita verse 9-26 (Patram pushpam phalam toyam……)
This flower giving and garlanding is another proof to show that Indian culture is one from south to north and the Aryan-Dravidian Race theory is a fake one. No ancient culture has this flower culture.



Causes of Destruction: Woman and Brahmin (Post No.3541)

Written by London swaminathan


Date: 13 January 2017


Time uploaded in London:- 21-44


Post No.3541



Pictures are taken from different sources; thanks.






What causes one’s destruction? Sanskrit scholars (Pundits) have a list; they have compiled the list out of past experience. I am pretty sure we can find lot of examples for each category.


Vinaasahetavah (causes of destruction):

Strii – ruupam = woman is destroyed by her beauty.

Chittoor Rani Padmini is a good example; her beauty made Aaludin Khilji to invade the Rajput Kingdom and she had t jump into fire along with her friends to save her honour.

Brahmana-rajaseva = Brahmins by service to the king

Nanda vamsa kings are typical xamples; they ridiculed all the Brahmins including Chanakya; first the Brahmins suffered at the hands of the Nava Nandas and then Chanakya destroyed them. Parasurama’s clash with kshatriyas is also famous


Gavah duurapracaarana= Cows by grazing distant field

Many of the village disputes are due to the cows grazing someone else’s field, usualy away fom one’s own field.


Hiranya lobhalipsaa – Gold by greed; here gold stands for all sorts of wealth. Most of the non violent prisoners are jailed because of their greediness.

Strii vinasyati ruupena braahmano raajasevayaa

Gaavo duuraprachaarena hiranyam lobhalipsayaa

–Subhasita ratna bhadaagaaram 153/19


Garuda Purana also has a similar couplet (sloka):-

ruupena strii = woman by beauty

krodhena tapah = penance by anger

duuraprachaarena gaavah = cows by distance gracing

ksudraannena dvijaah = Brahmins by eating unhygienic food.


Striyo nasyanti ruupena tapah krodhena nasyati

Gaavo duuraprachaarena kshudraannena dwijottamaah

Garuda Purana 115-7


xx x

Causes for the Fall of Brahminhood: Manu

Viprasya naasahetu

Veda- anabhyaasa = not learning the Vedas

Acaaravarjana = abandoning the codes of conduct

Aalasya = lethargy

Annadosa = disrespect for food


anabhyaasena vedaanaamaachaarasya sa varjanaat

aalasyaadannadoosaaccha mrtyurvipraandhaamsati

–Manu Smrti 5-4


Source Book: Encyclopaedia of Numerals (Volume 1)

The Kuppuswami Sastri Research Institute, Chennai 600 004, Year 2011


Pearl is available from Twenty Sources! (Post No.3538)


Written by London swaminathan


Date: 12 January 2017


Time uploaded in London:- 20-20


Post No.3538



Pictures are taken from different sources; thanks.




Tamil literature lists 20 places as the sources of pearls . Biologists know only one place where pearl is born. Sanskrit literature lists only eight places but these are not scientifically proved.

Twenty places according to Tamil verse from Uvamana Sangraham and Rathina Surukkam:
Horn of elephant/tusk
Horn of boar


Areca nut Tree

Special Type of Banana Tree

Chalanchalam (Rare Type of right whorld Chank

Hear of Fish

Head of Crane


Neck of women

Sugar cane


Snake (cobra)





Head of a crocodile
Teeth of cows

Varahamihira lists the following eight places in his Brhat Samhita:-


Following is from 2015 post: “Eight Types of Pearls: Varahamihira’s 1500 year old Price list”


Pearls are produced by:

Elephants, Oysters, Snakes, Clouds, Chanks, Bamboos, Whales, Boar (Brhat Samhita, Chapter 81)

Pearls come from eight areas


Simhalaka (Sri Lanka), Paraloka (Travancore coast), Surashtra (Gujarat), Tampraparani River (in South Tamil Nadu), Parasava (Iran), a Nothern country, Pandya vataka and the Himalayas.

Kautilya’s Artha Shastra (Third Century BCE) mentioned Pandya Kavata pearl. Fahien (399-414 CE) mentioned Simhala/Sri Lankan pearls.

Paraloka is a confusing term. There is one river called Parali in Kerala and there is an island Parali in the Lakshadweep. But the interesting thing is that itself sounds pearl in Tamil (Paral in Tamil is pearl in English and this town name is Paral+i).

Elephant Pearls:


Pearls are also obtained from the head and tusks of Bhadra class of elephants, says Varahamihira. But Varahamihira makes it clear that he repeats what the ancients believed about the elephant pearls. (This means they are not found even in Varahamihira days who lived around 510 CE)

He speaks about the pearls found in Boar tusk, Whales etc. Then he gives details about the pearls that are found in the seventh layer of winds. But the heaven dwellers will catch them before it falls on to earth!

Then he categorises Nagaratna as pearls. If the kings wear Nagaratna pearls enemies will be destroyed and his reputation will increase.
Kalidasa speaks of pearls from the head of elephants


From my 2012 post “Gem Stones in Kalidasa and Sangam Literature”

Pearl in the Oyster


If the rain falls on Swati star day the oysters open their mouth to drink the rain drops and the rain drops become pearls-This was the belief of ancient Indians including Tamils.
Bhartruhari and Sangam Tamil literature say that the pearls are created by the oysters on a particular day,I.e. The oysters open their mouths when there is rain falling down on a day under the star Swati(one of the 27 stars ). Biologists say that the sand particles that enter the living oysters secrete a liquid which covers the irritant to become a pearl.
Malavi.1-6: Kalidasa says , ‘the skill of a teacher imparted to a worthy pupil attains greater excellence, as the water of a cloud is turned in to a pearl in a sea shell.In Puram 380 ,Karuvur Kathapillay says the same about the origin of pearls. Bhartruhari makes it more specific by saying the rain on Swati Nakshatra days become pearls. Biologits also confirm on full moon days lot of sea animals like corals release their eggs or spores. So far as India is concerned it might have happened in that particular (Swati star with Moon) season.

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 Mega.-49)

Other references from Kalidasa: sweat drops as pearl:Rtu.6-7; tears as pearls: Mega 46, Ragu VI 28,,Vikra V 15; smile-KumarI-44, water drops on lotus leaf:Kumara VII 89


Pearls obtained from the head of elephants:Kumarasambhava 1-6, Raghu.9-65; In Tamil literature: Murugu 304, Malaipadu 517, Puram 170Natri.202, Kurinchi.36, Akam.282 etc.


In Tamil the teeth are compared to the pearls: Ainkur. 185, Akam 27

Since Gulf of Mannar is the main source of pearls in India ,thre are innumerable references to pearls in Tamil literature. Even Kautilya refers to the pearls from Pandya country. Korkai was the harbour city where the pearl fishing was flourishing. Aink 185,188, Akam 27,130 and Natri 23mention pearls from Korkai.

(for more information, go to  the two articles mentioned  by me



Bull Fighting in the 1890s (Post No.3523)

Compiled by London swaminathan


Date: 7 January 2017


Time uploaded in London:-  20-41


Post No.3523



Pictures are taken from different sources; thanks.






“There are several other kinds of amusement, some of them of a vulgar character, Bull fighting is one of them.

The bull fighting must not be regarded as like the familiar bull-fighting in Spain, or any other western country. This fight is called ‘sallikattoo’, and takes place during the day.


A large plain is chosen for the purpose and the villagers collect money among themselves with which to meet the necessary expenditure. They send out invitations to the people of other villages and inform them of the fixed day for bull-fight. This news spreads abroad among all classes of the people who come in numbers in bands and parties, both men and women to the spot appointed. The people of the village who have arranged the bull fight erect temporary sheds at their own cost in order to accommodate their visitors. As it is a public meeting place, the sellers of various articles flock to it with their different kinds of goods.

At about eight O clock in the morning all assemble in the plain. Sometimes there are thousands of people met on such occasions. Several fighting bulls will be brought by the villagers from different districts. The owner of each bull ties a new cloth around its neck. In  some cases the owner puts money in a corner of the cloth. He takes the bull to the headman of the assembly and bows his head to him. Then the headman inquiries concerning the parentage and name if he does not happen to know him. Then be asks the herald or the crier to beat his drum three times. This is a sign for the people to understand that a fighting bull will be let loose in the midst of the assembly. This is a signal also to the men who have come to fight the bull, and take the cloth and the money its neck that they must hold themselves in readiness. The owner of the bull takes him to the centre of the assembly, and there be lets him loose by warning the bult to take cate of and to make his way through the crowd to his shed.


As soon as ever the bull is set free, ten or fifteen men come to the front of the assembly without either stick or knife, and they face the bull manfully. Some of the clever bulls defend themselves hours together, hurting many of those men, and sometimes killing one or two; at last they escape from their hands and go home, leaping and frisking for joy. There are many bulls who are known to be great fighters and who allow anyone to take the cloths from their necks. Whoever takes the cloth considered to be a is hero. The bullocks are brought in to fight, one after another, the whole day through, and sometimes this terrible struggle between man and beast will be continued for two or three days. Some of the owners of the bulls offer a large sum of money to anyone who can arrest their bulls before the assembly.


These beasts are very knowing and clever in their fighting; they stand quietly before the assembly, and do not run or jump but if anyone approaches them, they hit him with their horns or legs as quickly as a flash of lightning. The people who come to witness the fight occupy the ground for half a mile in a crescent form. Some will sit and some will stand, just as they may please, and most of them will be exposed to the wind and the sun; but this they consider as nothing compared with the pleasure they derive from watching the bull-fight. The public do not pay a penny on occasions of this kind.



Stone cutters of Tamil Nadu and the Story behind Madurai Temple (Post No.3520)

Incomplete Raya Gopuram of Madurai in Tamil Nadu

Compiled by London swaminathan


Date: 6 January 2017


Time uploaded in London:-  17-14


Post No.3520



Pictures are taken from different sources; thanks.







The village stone cutter belongs to the five artisans of the village. He generally lives where there is solid rock which will suit his purposes. He opens his workshop under the burning sun on the open rock. He has a few chisels of different kinds and some iron hammers. With these simple tools he turns out some really good and useful work. He makes the stone for grinding curry materials; the mortar in which to pound rice and the mills– which are primitive in style– for grinding the flour. He can also make stone steps, pillars, beams, doorposts, jars, stands, troughs for watering the cattle and other useful articles that are required for domestic use.


He is not a monthly or annually paid artizan, but he receives suitable payment from the people for all the articles with which he supplies them. He does not go about to collect grain and vegetables from the villagers. If any villager chooses to give him a gift in the form of grain or fruit, of course, he is only too happy to accept it.


The skill of the famous Indian stonemasons has been displayed in the erection of the temples of India. The remarkable way in which groups of animals and human figures are carved out of the solid rock in some of the most famous ancient Hindu temples, speaks volumes for the skilfulness of the Indian stonemason. There is a temple (consecrated to the Hindu god Subramanian, the second son of the god Siva) at Kalugumalai, in the Tinnevelly district of Southern India, which is noted for its singular situation under a solid rock. The cave itself is well worth a visit and the carvings in solid rock are simply marvellous.


In the temple of Srirangam, in the Trichinopoly district, there are several indications of the skill of the stonemason. There are many beautiful pagodas, which shoot up into the sky to a lofty height, in the midst of hundreds of palm-trees and mango-trees, between the two great rivers, the Kavery and the Kollidam. The beautiful and attractive stone pillars, which stand in some of the temple mandapam(cloisters) were first conceived in the mind of the stonemason and then fashioned into shape by his skilful hands. At the bottom of the pillar is the figure of a bear ten feet in height; in the middle of the pillar is a horse about eight feet in height; on the back of the horse there is a hero holding a long spear in his hand, which is passing through the bear that holds up the pillar. On the top of the pedestal there hangs different kinds of Indian fruits. There are several pillars of this kind, and they differ only in the form given to the animals.


The stonecutters also make innumerable gods and goddesses for the people. They make gods with human bodies and animal heads, or with animal bodies and human heads. Their fingers have formed images of all the living creatures of India and placed them in the sacred buildings of the Hindu community.


It is a general complaint that the ancient Indians did not leave any proper record of the history of their land. The stonecutters have to some extent made up for this deficiency. They have told the histories and mysteries in the works of their bands. The inscriptions carved by them in various temples some two to three thousand years ago are still read with interest, and they are often used in deciding the disputes as to the rights of the peasants, the priests, and the princes of the land.

Story behind the Madurai Temple Tower

There are many stories connected with the scientific knowledge of the stonemasons. There is a beautiful and even magnificent temple in the historical and ancient city of Madurai. This temple was built by the founders of the Pandyan dynasty, and afterwards much improved by Terumal Naick (Thirumalai Nayakar), the latest Hindu ruler of Madura. In this temple there is a royer gopuram (the great pagoda) which was built by Terumal Naick. There are two large stone pillars in this royer (Rayar) gopuram. A certain stonemason, by order of the king, brought the stones from the mountain, and placed them in the pagoda, and then died. His son came, and attempted to follow in the footsteps of his father in erecting the royal monument to the goddessMeenatchi, and then he died. By-and-by his son came to the temple to pay his vows. As he entered the royer gopuram saw the great stone pillars. As he looked at them he thought that his grandfather had made a mistake in bringing of the stones and placing it in the sacred place, and he gave expression to his feelings while he was standing in the temple, saying that the temple was polluted according to building science, inasmuch as in one of the two huge pillars a frog was still alive at a certain spot towards the top of the pillar. This statement was brought to the notice of the king, and the man was summoned at once into his presence. The king asked the stonemason, “Have you said that my temple is polluted on account of one of the pillars being placed in the main entrance of the temple?”

“Yes, Your hHghness,’”politely said the man.

“If you cannot prove your statement to be true, remember your head will be severed from your body,” said the king in a very severe tone of voice.


Having placed his life as the pledge for the truth of his the stonemason boldly asked the king to follow him to the temple. The king and his courtiers went. The stonemason requested one of the servants of the king to place a ladder beside the pillar and to go up to the top, and break off a certain portion of the pillar with a hammer. When several small pieces had been broken off a stone frog actually fell down to the great surprise of the king and the advisers. The king immediately ordered his servants to bring gifts from the palace, and these be presented to the stonemason, and he even bestowed upon him royal honours.


Source: Indian Village Folk, T B Pandian, London Year 1897

Bhagavad Gita Simile used by Ancient Tamil Poets! (Post No.3514)

Research Article written by London swaminathan


Date: 4 January 2017


Time uploaded in London:-  20-56


Post No.3514



Pictures are taken from different sources; thanks.





If one studies the similes used by ancient Sanskrit poets and Tamil poets one will find out that Indians had a unique culture spreading over a vast landmass, that was the largest country in the world 2000 years ago. The simile used by Lord Krishna in Bhagavad Gita is found in the oldest Tamil book Tolkappiam and Sangam Tamil literature. Kalidasa and other Sanskrit poets also used the simile in umpteen places. This explodes the divisive Aryan- Dravidian Race Theory. Hundreds of similes are unique to Tamil and Sanskrit literature which are not found in any other literature or culture in the world.


Lord Krishna says (Sutra Manigana Iva) :

There is nothing whatsoever higher than Me, O Dhanjanjaya. All this strung in Me, as clusters of gems on a string 7-7


Commenting on this couplet Swami Chinmayananda says: “To show that the Self is one and the same in all forms, it has been said that the Lord is the common factor in all forms in the universe. He holds them all intact as the string holds all the pearls in a necklace. These words have deep significance. Not only is it beautiful in its poetic suggestion, but it has also a very exhaustive philosophical implication. The pearls in the necklace are necessarily uniform and homogenous, and its thread, which is generally unseen, passes through the central core of every pearl, and holds them all, the big and the small, into a harmonious ornament of beauty. Here is an instance wherein we see Shri Veda Vyasa typically expressing himself as the poet-philosopher of the world.


Tolkappaiam written by Tolkappiar, is considered the oldest book available in Tamil. It is dated around First Century BCE. Definitely later than Bhagavad Gita. We find the simile in Tolkappiam as well. Like Sanskrit, Sutra means a book and a thread in Tamil also; in Tamil the word used is Nuul= Thread or Book.


Tolkappiar used the word Sutra following Panini. He never hesitated to use a Sanskrit word. In the Sutra 1426:

Like orderly arranging the gems in a string, arranging the same types is called Othu.


Tamil Veda Tirukkural written by Tiruvalluvar also used the Bhagavad Gita simile:-

There is something that is implied in the beauty of this woman, like the thread that is visible in a garland of gems.


Thus Krishna’s “Sutra Manigana Iva” simile has become popular 2000 years ago. Avadhutopanishad also has this.

Kalidasa used this imagery in His Raghuvamsam and Vikrama Urvaseeyam:-

Though a dunce, I have a way in through the epic already rendered by Valmiki like the thread that easily goes through the diamonds already bored- (Raghuvamsa 1-4)


This King of Anga made the wives of his enemies to throw off their ornaments and weep for their husbands shedding tears larger than pearls on to their breasts which appeared like pearl necklaces. The king took the real necklace and gave them tear necklace- Raghu.6-28


A lady was halfway through her stringing of gems for her girdle. The thread was tied to her thumb. When she came to know about Aja’s visit she rushed to the window to see him. All the gems fell and scattered leaving only the thread still knotted to her thumb 7-10


These women engrossed at splashing water on each other are unable to give a thought to the severance and slithering of their pearl necklaces from their bosom, for the water drops as large as pearls are hopping on their bosoms which they think necklace of pearls – 16-62

These similes of Raghuvamsa were used by Tamil poets in Sangam literature.

Sangam Tamil poets used the similes in the following places:


Kudavayil Keerathanar has used this imagery twice in his poems in Akananuru (289 and 315)


Eyinanthai Ilankeeranar (Akam.225) used the broken pearl necklace image in his verse.


Kurunthokai Poets Kundriyanar and Kavan Mullai Poothanar and  Marudan Ilanagan of Marudakkali also followed his predecessors.   All of them used the unstringed or broken necklace images.


Thus, we see One Thought- One Culture from Kanyakumari to Kashmir. Before the foreigners came they didn’t know any divisions in the community such as Aryan or Dravidian races.




Book Review: Brindavan Express by Mr V.Desikan (Post No. 3481)


Written by S NAGARAJAN


Date: 25 December 2016


Time uploaded in London:- 6-17 am


Post No.3481



Pictures are taken from different sources; thanks.







This article first published in under expert author : santhanam Nagarajan



Brindavan Express by Mr V.Desikan


Santhanam Nagarajan


The book under review Brindavan Express written by Mr V Desikan is a fantastic book.


Mr Desikan belongs to Tamilnadu.


He has obtained his  degree in electronics from the Madras Institure of Technology and joined in Defence Research and Development organization at Bangalore. He is the recipient of ‘Scientist of the Year (1983) DRDO  award from the late Prime Minister of India Mrs Indira Gandhi


He has jotted down his thoughts systematically from time to time and like a sculptor creates his dream statue, has written down articles weaving his beautiful thoughts with a  humorous touch.


The book has 73 articles under twelve captions namely My roots, Emotions, Life is a game, My living town – Bangalore, Food, Music and Novels, Future Tense, Language, Growing old, Science and Engineering, What is in a name and Mixture.


One of his friends Mr RV Rajan induced him to publish these article in a book form.


The articles were published in a leading English daily Deccan Herald. His style is lucid.


Each and every article kindles readers thought process. His conclusions are compelling and convincing.


As a scientist he dreams towards a better future where every thing is perfect. He points out that the future lies in Nano technology.


There are  many quotations through out the book from great men like Rabindranath Tagore, Harry Emerson Fosdick, Shakespeare, G.K.Chesterton etc.


The book makes an interesting reading. He has


The book is neatly printed and can be obtained from leading book shops.


Some excerpts from the book:


About his Boss:


My boss Burman, a confirmed bachelor was in charge of system integration. He was a chain smoker.If he liked someone,he would call him an ‘idiot’ or ‘a fool’ –  I was one of his favorite idiots!


On seeing his dream vehicle,  the 40 feet long SANGAM:

I went towards my favorite SANGAM  and stood there for a long time. I looked at her and gently whispered (what Brutus told Cassius):

‘Forever and forever farewell, my dear

If we do meet again, why, we shall smile.

If not, why then this parting was well made.’


About Sundal :

If there be Chat Centres, fast food outlets all over our cities, why can’t someone open a ‘Sundal Center’?


About KDK (Kumbakonam Degree (Coffee) Kaapi :

Thank you KDK

You bring me joy in the morning

You bring me joy in the morning;


About the requirement of a positive newspaper :

I have a real problem on hand. All my life I have enjoyed sipping my morning coffee, reading the morning newspaper. I have recently discontinued my habit as it is no more a pleasant experience. Now I need a ‘Positive Newspaper’ badly.


I have a dream:

My idea of Next-gen city is that it should be

Totally green and with Zero pollution

With efficient and complete public transportation

With minimum private vehicles

Total Connectivity – Airports, roads, sea (where applicable)

Full Safety


I congratulate Mr Desikan for releasing this wonderful book. I strongly recommend this book for the book lovers.



Origin of Sri= Sir = Thiru (Sanskrit/English and Tamil) – Post No. 3479

Research Article Written by London swaminathan


Date: 24 December 2016


Time uploaded in London:-  15-22


Post No.3479



Pictures are taken from different sources; thanks.





Believe it or not, the Sanskrit word ‘Sri’, English honorific title ‘Sir’ and Tamil word ‘Thiru’ all mean the same. Sir and Thiru came from the Sanskrit word Sri.

Sri is written as ‘Siri’ (as in Sirimao Bhandaranayake) in Sri Lanka and ‘Sere’ in South East Asia.


In India, Sri is also written as Shree, Sree, Shri and Sree. Sri means wealth and Goddess Lakshmi. Sri also means light, resplendent etc.


In the name of a country Sri Lanka , the meaning of Sri is ‘replendednt’.


Nowadays Hindus use it before a male’s name to give him respect. It is used as Mr and in Tamil Tiru. If it is a woman, then Srimati (in Tamil Tirumati) is used. It may mean respectful or enlightened.


Sri= Lakshmi, Wealth, Fortune, Prosperity, Light, Resplendent (nowadays Mr)


Tamil word Thiru or Tiru is also derived from Sanskrit Sri. In Tamil also the meaning is similar to Sanskrit.

According to linguistic rules ‘S’ and ‘T’ are interchangeable. That is why all the English words with ‘TION’ ending is pronounced ‘SION’ ((E.g) Education, Fruition, Cognition. Even in Tamil literature Tamil saints changed Vithyai as Viccai (Vidhya=Vithyai- vicchai) in Tevraram and Tirvasagam and Divya prabandham. The oldest portion of these Tamil devotional literature is at least 1500 year old.

Sir—Honorific Title

English people who are knighted are given the title ‘Sir’. In India scientists like Sir C V Raman, Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose, Literaturs like Ravindranatha Tagore and judges like Sir C Ramaswami Iyer, sportsmen like Sachin Tendulkar were awarded this ‘SIR’ title by the British Queen.


The etymology of the word according to Oxford dictionary is as follows:-

The word Sir derived from the Middle English ‘Sire’ according to the dictionary. It was first used in 1297. All these are forced etymology, because it doesn’t explain where the Old French or Latin got it. As everyone knows that Germanic languages and Romance languages are derived from Sanskrit , the root of Sir can be easily traced.


Sri is found in the Vedas. There is a Suktam (Poem/verse/hymn) named after Sri. Names such as Srimati, Sri, Sridharan, Srinidhi, Srinivas are common even today. Oldest Shasranama Vishnu sahasranama has several names beginning with Sri. Several town names (Srisailam, Sriperumpudur) and book names (Sri Bhagavata, Srimad Bhagavd Gita) also have the Sri as prefix.

Following the Hindus, the world used sir(i) in other European langauges. We have proofs for such usage even today in Sri Lanka (Siri) and South East Asia (sere). Change in the position of the letter ‘I’ or change in the position of sound cause such spellings. For instance Dharma is written as Dharam in Hindi. The famous city of Tamil Nadu Madurai is pronounced as Marudai and Kuthirai (horse) is pronounced as Kuruthai. No wonder Sri ischanged to Sir or Siri or Sere in other languages!





Pilgrim’s Lodge – The Inns of Old Tamil Nadu (Post No.3458)

Written by London swaminathan


Date: 17 December 2016


Time uploaded in London:- 13-59


Post No.3458



Pictures are taken from different sources; thanks.





Choultry or Chatthiram or The Inn were wonderful institutions of ancient India. It served as the boarding and lodging place for the pilgrims as well as travellers.

I myself had arranged Bangur Dharmasala in Madurai for all the visitors from North India on their way to Kanyakumai when the Vivekananda Rock Memorial was opened. It was free. Once upon a time all the choultries gave free food and rooms. Even today we can see such places in North India. But in the south most of them were turned into hotels or converted into offices.


Chettiyars of Tamil Nadu established such choultries in various pilgrimage centres including Benares/Varanasi.


Several towns in Tamil Nadu still retain the name Chaththiram even after the Chaththirams had gone! The younger generation may not even understand this concept of giving everything free for the pilgrims and travellers. All the kings thought it was a great meritorious act (Punya Dharma). We can see references to choultries in all the ancient books of India – swami


Here is a piece written by T B Pandian in his book “Indian Village Folk” in 1897.


“The people who live in the Indian villages take delight in giving alms to the helpless and the needy, and also to the religious mendicants who go from place to place on pilgrimage, begging as they go. They have also provided suitable and convenient places in which travellers and strangers may rest, without any charge being made for their accommodation. These inns are called chatiram, oottoopuray and maddum (Mutt).

M T Chathram in Karnataka

The chatiram is a place built by a Hindoo king or by one of the Hindoo governors of former times, or by some Hindoo man or woman, or by a certain class of the Hindoo community, and it is usually sufficiently endowed for its maintenance. These buildings are generally large and spacious having separate apartments for cooking and sleeping, etc They are placed outside the village, and usually near a stream.To provide bathing and cooking, the travellers, a well is dug by the side of the Chatttiram, and the grounds are planted with fruit-bearing trees and flowering plants.


In some of these chatirams the authorities engage Brahmin cooks who supply with food a certain number of Brahmin travellers only, each day free of charge. In some  chatirams the travellers are both fed and housed without charge, but in others the travellers get their lodging free, but have to provide their own food. When wealthy men or women find that there are no children to inherit their property, they lay out the whole, or at least the greater portion, in building and endowing chatirams for the public good. These charitable institutions may be numbered by the hundred in the country districts of India.


In the villages of Travancore, ‘the land of charity’, there are sixty four ways, i.e., feeding-houses,” established by the ancient Hindoo kings of Travancore, and still maintained by the Maharaja of Travancore in quite a grand style. In these feeding houses’ the Brahmins are fed by the hundred every day with sumptuous meals, and they are with comforts at the expense of the State Travancore. Many homeless and helpless Brahmins subsist by travelling from one feeding-house to another, and in this way they spend the whole year in quite an enjoyable manner, without any care as to what they shall eat, or what they shall drink, or wherewithal they shall be clothed.


The simplest and plainest kind of charitable public stances called the maddum (Mutt or Madam), and this is built in many instances at the expense of the villagers themselves. In these maddums a poor man, who has some reputation for piety,is engaged as manager by the villagers. This man gradually becomes an ascetic. He clothes himself in an orange-coloured tokai, and is called sannyasin by every villager. The duty of this sanniasin is to see that the village inn is kept clean, and lighted regularly every evening. He has also to beg meals from the villagers, both morning and evening. A certain portion of the meals thus collected by the innkeeper is taken for his own use, and with the remains the poor travellers are fed.

Chathram in Old Madurai


If any respectable travellers come in to rest, either for the day or for the night, the innkeeper gives them all necessary attention, and he will even at times induce some rich villager to feed the strangers who may have come in late at night. The lighting of the inn is left to the well-to-do villagers, and they supply the lamp oil by turns. The clothing of the innkeeper, which is, however, but a little matter, is provided from the village general fund.” The organization of the village inn is quite simple and inexpensive, and the benefit derived by the travellers is very great. During the hot summer months the innkeeper supplies butter milk or cold water to the thirsty travellers who are proceeding on their way.


There are a few famous and well-established maddums, with their madathipathies, i e., governors of inns,’ which were originally established on the simple principle of the village inn. Now these remarkable maddums have grown enormously, and are large establishments with numerous supporters and followers. The most prominent of these inns are called Dharmapura maddum, and Tiruvadoothuray. The governors of these celebrated Hindoo inns established a brotherhood of Hindoo monks, and these monks became the head of the respective inns; they are, as a rule, sound vernacular scholars, and well versed in Hinduism in all its phases. They maintain celibacy. These inns have four or five hundred men who feed in their respective places, where disciples and visitors flock together in large numbers. The heads of these are not Brahmins, and so they are not exclusively kept for that caste. The non-Brahmin community, indeed, form the bulk of their supporters. The insolvent and broken-down merchants, and those who have become disgusted with life through various disasters, forsake their homes and relations and enter this brotherhood of Hindoo monks; they are then cared for all the days of their life. Some of those who join this society are sent out by the head of the establishment to represent their cause at their branches. All who become governors of these inns are vegetarians by birth and Sivites by religion, and their successors are trained and kept in readiness by the governors. Although the governors themselves are bachelors who have not much earthly enjoyment, as they try to show, yet their relatives are greatly benefited by their honoured and exalted positions. They spend the money out of the treasury of the inn just as they please, and sometimes in very profligate ways. They live in princely comfort, and their intelligence and culture give them a high position and influence in the Hindoo community. Some of them are enlightened men, and these come to the front and sympathize with the public movements, more especially those of a religious and educational character.


There is no doubt that these inns and other charitable institutions of India will work wonders, if only the organizers of these institutions and their governors will recognise the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man.”

—-written in the year 1897.



Interesting Information about Indian WASHERMAN (DHOBY) (Post No.3454)

Compiled by London swaminathan


Date: 16 December 2016


Time uploaded in London:- 12-59


Post No.3454



Pictures are taken from different sources; thanks.




A Washerman is called Dhoby in North India and Vannan in Tamil Nadu. In Malabar the females this class wash the clothes and the men have taken to the trade of tailoring, or to the profession of devil dancing.


The Vannan is called, in consideration of his innumerable and unscrupulous services, ‘the son of the village’. He washes all the clothes of both the men and women, his wife assisting him in some parts of his work. When she goes to fetch the clothes from the women’s apartments, the women of the house receive the daughter of the village’ warmly, and entertain her with interesting conversation for a few minutes; then they give her a little oil with which to anoint her head, and feed her with a cold meal. Sometimes they also give her some home-made cakes to take back with her to her children. The washerwoman leaves the house highly pleased. She carries the soiled clothes of the women hooked on a stick, lest she should be contaminated by the touch of them. She takes the things to the fuller’s ground, at a pool, or river, or tank, and submits them to a regular process of cleansing. First she throws each article into the water and sets it aside. Then she herself plunges into the water, in order to remove any defilement which she may have contracted in graces. She then places all she has collected in the heap of other soiled clothes from the village which her husband had brought. The dhoby as a rule does not consider himself to be polluted in ordinay cases  when he carries the soiled clothes.


The dhoby has his house in some corner of the village, and it is built on a piece of ground belonging to the village. The walls of his house  are raised at the expense of the  village people, and they themselves pay for the thatched roof. They also contribute to the purchase of a spirited donkey or two.


Of useful household articles the dhoby has hardly any; only a few earthen vessels in which to cook his food, and to serve for washing purposes.


His business apparatus consists of only a few large earthen pots, and these are filled with water and placed on an oven, which is built of mud, and in a triangular shape. This oven is heated whenever he wants the soiled clothes to be steamed. Before they are steamed he dips them over and over again in the alkaline water, which is obtained by him at very little cost. This alkaline water is nothing more than a mixture of pure water with fuller’s earth, or washing soda. When the process of steaming is done, the dhoby and his children start off at about four o’clock in the morning to the fuller’s ground.


Donkey Work!


The poor, uncared-for donkeys move about in the dull streets and waste lands of the village all the other days and nights except the night in which the dhoby intends to start for his work. The unfed beasts are then made to carry the heavy loads of wet clothes. The moment they are loaded they start off in advance from the house of their unkind master as they know well the place of destination, and the way to it is quite familiar to them. The dhoby with his children follow them, each carrying a heavy load on his back, and even on his head. As the dhoby passes through the streets he cheers his beasts by whistling, and uttering encouraging words such as these Podaa saami ie, Go, master Maanam kappattudaa,’ i e., Save my reputation Karuttua  Dorai Ayya ie… black gentleman! Nadadaa  singam, ie,  Walk as a lion.’ When he reaches the water-side — this is often a good distance away — first he throws off his own load, removes the loads off the backs of his beasts and pasture.


In cases where there are fields in cultivation, one of the grown-up children of the dhoby minds the brutes while they are grazing. Then the dhoby unties the bundle of clothes. and keeps them within his reach near water, where the rough stones are kept, for bleaching. He takes up a cloth in his hand and dips it in the water, and beats it against the stone, with an invocation to his God, the common Father. Then he places the cloth on the stone raises his right hand to his forehead, as he stands in a bending attitude, in order to indicate that he seeks the benediction of the Heaven to rest upon the labours of the day.


The work of a dhoby in an Indian village is tedious and difficult. He has to cleanse from two to three hundred cloths of various lengths and breadths, many of them in an exceedingly dirty state. He beats in cloth after cloth with his full strength on the coarse stones. His children also share the work of their father, taking for their part the tiny clothes of children like themselves.

Composing and Singing Songs!

While he is beating the cloths he sings songs of his own making, or that were made by his forefathers. These are very peculiar in their composition, and they are quite uninteresting to anyone beside himself. There is in them no melody, and there is not even any beating of time. He sings in praise of his ass, or of his wife, or he narrates his love, patience, earnestness, in relation to his sweetheart before his marriage. Sometimes he sings in praise of father-in-law. Sometimes it is a mournful song about an old and faithful ass which he has recently lost.


While the dhoby is busily engaged with the  clothes, his wife will turn up carrying a potful of cold food, which she has been obtaining from the village folk during the previous night. Every house in the village is bound to give  twice daily a handful of cooked food, either made of rice, millet, maize or some other Indian grain. She also carries a second small vessel, which is filled with Indian vegetables and greens. These have also been given to her by the villagers.

Dhoby Wages!

A dhoby receives as wages from every village house an average of six pence per annum. If in the house there is a large family the wages are increased to a shilling per annum (written in the year 1897).


Besides this allowance, he gets a small gift of grains, probably  a few measures, at the time of harvest. If he goes to the fields when they gather the crops, he also will get a small bundle of ears. At wedding festivities and at funerals he is entitled to a fee of four pence. When the villagers offer a blood-sacrifice to the gods, they generally kill a fat ram by severing the head from the body, and this head goes to the waiting dhoby as a part of his wages. In some villages the dhoby is used as a messenger to communicate ominous intelligence to the parties concerned. For this he gets, in the form of gold and silver bangles, or a pair of new cloths, or a pagoda, about the value of four shillings. This is all that the dhoby receives in the form of wages.


Faithful Wife used as a Pillow!

Now let us turn back to the place where we left the dhoby washing the clothes. He has been beating them against the stone one after another, from early morning until 10 a.m., and he is now quite exhausted, and quite ready for his morning meal. The wife, who has brought his meal, joins her husband, and the children also partake of it. They all sit on the grassy slope of the riverside or pool. The dhoby and his children sit facing the woman, who holds the earthen pot in her hand. They fold their hands together, so as to serve them instead of a cup, and the watery meal is poured into their hands. The woman first stirs up the contents of the earthen pot with her right hand, and adds some butter milk and salt. This luxurious food satisfies the tired and hungry dhoby and his children, and refreshes them so that they cheerfully resume their work. The woman after serving the meal to her husband and children supplies her husband with betel-nut, chunnam, and tobacco to chew having received these, sits beside his wife, and gossips with her, while she helps herself to the remaining food. When she has done the dhoby lays his head on her lap and rests awhile.


She relates to him some incidents of the village life which have recently come to her knowledge. In half an hour the dhoby and his wife, with their children, get up to resume their work. They hurry on the bleaching of the clothes till 2 pm, then they begin to wash the beaten clothes in a large earthen pot, which is filled with pure water. In this small portion of indigo is dissolved, or a little piece of lime. In this mixture all the clothes are dipped and rinsed well. Then they undergo another process of dipping in a similar pot filled with water, in which a small quantity of starch, prepared from rice or other Indian grain, has been put. This process makes the clothes somewhat stiff. All these processes cleanse the clothes very thoroughly. If the clothes are new they have to go twice through all these processes, and in addition to this they are also dipped in water mixed with cow-dung or goat-dung. This process gives the clothes a smart appearance.


Most of the villagers wear white clothes, consisting of a pair of cloths of three or three and a half yards each. Some of them have also turbans or headpieces.


As the day is getting on the dhoby his wife and children now hurry off to dry the clothes either on grassy meads or sandy banks. At about three o’clock the dhoby and his family go up together to some shady banyan or margosa tree or tamarind tree; one or other of these is sure to be found near an Indian village. Here they partake remainder of the meal, seated in the manner which has been described. At about five o’clock they gather together the clothes and fold them up.


Now the children go to find the donkeys, who are to carry the loads of bleached clothes back again to their home. The dhoby and his wife bundles themselves carry bundles of clothes on their heads and on their backs; they go slowly back to their village.


The following morning the dhoby and his wife unloose the bundles of the  washed clothes, and arrange them for delivery; both of them are very busy making up the piles according to the marks on the clothes. As a rule, the dhobys are very skilful in sorting the clothes according to the marks given them. There is no such thing as the marking of the clothes by their owners with coloured threads or the initials of their names. All marks on clothes are made by the dhobys themselves, and they cannot usually write their own names. lf any one of the villagers is in a hurry for his bleached clothes he has to go to the door of the dhoby and fetch them for himself. Generally, the dhoby delivers at each house.


The Indian villagers never use linen or any form of dress that is made by tailors, and therefore there is no need for Ironing.


(This book was published in 1897)



Dhoby – the Torch Bearers!

The dhoby not only washes the clothes of the villagers, but he also provides them with torches, made out of the rags which he gathers and stores up from the worn-out clothes given to him. These torches are generally used in festival and marriage processions and he also renders service by holding the torches on such occasions. The poor people of the village, by courting his friendship, get from him Maathu, the loan of cloths for little or nothing. At the time of funeral processions he spreads cloths on the way leading to the cremation ground. His services are also sought to decorate with cloths the roof of the Marriage pandal or booth.


on all these occasions he uses the cloths of the villagers. When the village dramas are held in the open-air at night he spreads on the ground a few bleached cloths for the more respectable men of the village.


The “son of the village, who is fed by the villagers , has also the privilege of clothing himself, as well as his family, with the clothes of the villagers. To-day he turns up in a new attire which he has got from Mr. A ……for washing; similarly his wife shines in the borrowed feathers of Mrs. C……; To morrow he walks in the street with the clothes of Mr. C and likewise his wife appears smart and tidily dressed with a beautiful sari or draping belonging to Mrs. R.


On the following day the husband and wife will carry all the clothes in which they dressed themselves on the previous day to the fuller’s ground, and will cover themselves with their worn-out ordinary clothes in a state next to rags. If any of the owners see these common children of the village wearing their clothes they take no notice of it. The village dhoby, who has this privilege of wearing other people’s clothes, has also the free use of the village clothes as his bedding. It is evident, therefore, that it costs little or nothing to maintain himself and his family.


The fuller’s ground becomes the centre for several villagers, and to it the young unmarried men and the young maids go to wash the clothes of their respective villages. These young people have thus opportunities of knowing one another better, and of forming close friendships. They cannot, however, have private conversations about their matrimonial affairs. Supposing the young man A has a tender regard for the young maid C, he sings some love songs while beating the clothes, and in these he describes to the best of his abilities the position, parentage, and beauty of the girl who probably stands close beside him, also beating clothes.  These love songs of the young dhoby, who is quite taken up with the girl whom he has in his mind have a charming effect upon thegirl, and she in return raises her sweet voice with songs of allurement. She assures him in an indirect way of her appreciation, alluding to his personal beauty.


When the parents of these young folk see their attachment to each other, they arrange to have them settled in marriage, and to follow the profession of a Village dhoby.

The washer men are a distinct class or caste. The son of a washer man is a washer man by compulsion. He cannot follow any other trade but the trade of his forefathers. (in the year 1897, not any more).


Source book: Indian Village Folk by T B Pandian, Year of publication 1897.