Post No. 8378

Date uploaded in London – 21 July 2020   

Contact –

Pictures are taken from various sources for spreading knowledge; this is a non- commercial blog. Thanks for your great pictures.,

Sangam Tamil literature is 2000 years old. It has got about 2500 verses composed by over 450 poets . it spreads over a period of 400 years from first century BCE upto third century CE. All the 2500 plus poems are collected in 18 books. They are called Pathup pattu (ten long poems) and Ettuth thokai (8 anthologies).

References to strange water nymphs are found in at least two books. They are in Akananuru and Kalittokai. This leads us to another interesting word in the Rig Veda. Tamil word ‘Neer’ for water is in the Rig Veda according to scholars of yester years. This water nymph references blasts their theory and shows the true colours of the word WATER/NEER.

‘Neer’ may NOT be a Tamil word because it is in ancient Greek language which is 800 years older than Tamil language according to available literatures.

First let us look at the interesting bits about TAMIL WATER NYMPHS.

In Akananuru,  verse 370 was composed by poet Ammuvanaar. The poem is about lovers.

“Friend of the heroine says,

Hello my friend! you say if you go home , you will be under your father’s strict watch and you also say that you will die if you don’t see your lover. Let me give you some idea. You go and stand like a sea nymph on the sea shore. I will stand by your side as a dancer”.

The background of the poem is as follows-

The lover meets her very often but never proposes to her. One day he came during day time and was hiding, waiting for private meeting with the heroine/ lady love. Knowing that , but pretending not to see the lover, she (heroine’s friend) said the above thing. The meaning is that you wont see your heart throb any more during day time because all our farm work is finished and here afterwards we wont be able to come outside. During night time, there will be stricter security from her father; so propose now, get married  soon and run away. That is the hidden meaning. All Tamil love poems have hidden meanings according to ancient commentators.

But our interest is in sea nymph and a dancer. Why should a dancer stand near a sea nymph? And who is a sea nymph? What is the word for sea nymph in Tamil and how come it is in Greek language?

Sea nymph or water nymphs are found in all cultures around the world. Tamils also believed in nymphs and angels residing in all water sources, hills and trees. We find them a lot in Sanskrit literature as well. An entire Tamil epic MANI MEKALAI is based on the sea farers’ goddess Manmekala. It is a Sanskrit word found in Sanskrit literature as well.

So they might have referred to one of such Manimekalas. But why should a dancer stand near by? Probably that type of paintings decorated the ancient Tamil world.

But I am more interested in the word for water nymph. The exact word used by the poet Ammuvanar is ‘Kadal Kezu Selvi’ – a sea woman/ sea goddess. But the ancient commentators used the word ‘Neer Ara Makalir’. ‘Neer’ means water and ‘Ara makalir’ means nymphs or heavenly ladies, angels etc.

The same word Nereids is used in Greek mythology for water nymphs. And Nereus is an old man of the sea. So NEER is water in Greek mythology. Since Greek is an Indo European language it is full of Sanskrit words and not Tamil words.

How are we going to explain the word ‘Neer’ in Greek?

‘Nar’ayana is also interpreted as one whose abode is NEER/water in Sanskrit. The puzzle can be easily solved if you accept my theory that Tamil and Sanskrit came from the same source. That is what Hindu literature also says. So linguists are wrong in saying that Neer was borrowed by Rig Vedic poets from Tamil. Neer/water belongs both to Sanskrit and Tamil. And the Tamils used it more because Sanskrit has 120 words for water.

Old Ananda Vikatan Dictionary also confirms Neer Ara Makalir is water nymphs .

Another Water Nymph!

In another Tamil book called ‘Kali Tokai’, poet Nallanthuvanaar says in Kali 131 verse,

“Look my darling, once your lover promised you by swearing on SEA GODDESS that he would never ever part (separate) from you. Now he is absent for a little while. And it is my duty to console you and convince you that he would be back soon”.

Words used by poet Nallanthuvanaar are ‘Kadal Theyvam’ (Sea Goddess; though Deivam is a Sanskrit word, Sangam poets freely use it)

From this verse we come to know about the  swearing on and serious belief in a Sea Goddess. And in the Rig Veda we come across Sea God Varuna and the mysterious magical twins called Asvins doing umpteen miracles. In short Hindus from Sarasvati- Sindhu River to Vaigai in the South had similar beliefs.


Tamils believed in water nymphs and sea goddesses.

Word Neer is in Greek, Tamil and Sanskrit. Sanskrit is much more older than Tamil and Greek and both Greek and Tamil kept the word alive until recent times. Since Sanskrit has scores of words for water, they didn’t bother much about this single word NEER/water.

Sea nymphs and mermaids are in postage stamps around the world.