Why did a Tamil King Kill 1000 Goldsmiths? (Post No.3821)

Written by London swaminathan


Date: 15 APRIL 2017


Time uploaded in London:- 15-59


Post No. 3821


Pictures are taken from various sources; thanks.


contact; swami_48@yahoo.com 


Silappadikaram, the Tamil epic, is the story about Kannaki and Kovalan (The details of the story are given at the end of this post).

Matalan, the Brahmin, is a link in the story. He plays a key role and fills the gaps in the story. He advised the mighty king Cheran Senguttuvan about the good things in life (Dharma).


In the Nirpataik (Chapter) Kaathai of the epic he gives some important details:-

While King Senguttuvan was sitting on the throne, the Brahmana Matalan appeared before him and said:

“Long live the King! After going around the Potiyil Hills, sacred to the great sage (Agastya) and bathing in the famous ghat of Kumari, I was returning, when, as if impelled by fate, I went into Madura belonging to far-famed Tennavan (Pandya King) of the sharp sword.


There when Matari heard that beautiful (Kannaki) had defeated the Pandyan king of the mighty army with her anklet, she proclaimed in the Taateru manram (common meeting place of the cowherds and cowherdesses, and was generally under a tree):-

“O people of the cowherd community! Kovalan had done no wrong; it is the king who has erred; I have lost her to whom I gave refuge. Have the king’s umbrella and the sceptre fallen from the righteous path?”  With these words, she (Matari) threw herself into the burning flames in the dead of night.

Kavunti, distinguished for her penance, took a vow to die of starvation and thus gave up her life.

I heard in full detail all this and also of the devastation that over took the great city of Madurai ruled by the Pandyan of the golden car. Overcome by this I went back to my native place (KaveriPumpattinam, Port city of Chozas) and leant that Kovalan’s father distributed all his wealth in charity and entered Indra Viharas/Buddhist temple and practised penance. Kovalan’s mother died of pity. Kannaki’s father also gave away his wealth in religious gifts and adopted Dharma in the presence of Ajhivakas. His wife gave up her good life within a few days ( of Kovalan’s execution , followed by the death of Pandya King and Queen and Kannaki burning Madurai city).


The lady Matavi (courtesan), shorn of her hair with the flower wreaths therein, entered the Buddha Vihara and received the holy instruction. She told her mother that her daughter should not become a courtesan.


Brahmin Matalan continued………….

“These people died because, they heard this news from me, therefore I come to bathe in the holy waters of the Ganges (In order to purify myself). Long live you, O King of Kings!


When Matalan gave the king the tragic news about Kannaki’s parents, Kovalan’s parents, Cowherd woman Matari, Jain woman saint Kavunti and courtesan Matavi, the mighty lord of the Cheras, asked Matalan:


“May I hear what happened in the highly flourishing Pandya Kingdom after the king’s death?”

Matalan said,

“May you long live, King of the great world! You destroyed in a single day nine umbrellas of nine kings, who joined together in an alliance against your brother in law Killi valavan.

Human Sacrifice of 1000 people!


“The victorious (Pandya king) Ver Chezian residing at Korkai (Port City of the Pandyas), offered a human sacrifice of one thousand goldsmiths in a day to divine Pattini (chaste woman) who had twisted off one of her breasts (with which Kannaki burnt Madurai city).

“And when ancient Maduria lost her glory and was chafing in untold trouble owing to royal injustice, this Pandyan prince of the lunar line (Chandra vamsa) which was celebrated for the exemplary way in which it gave protection to the people of the southern regions, mounted in succession the royal throne of Madura, like the (sun) mounting in the morning, with his rays crimson, the divine chariot with the single wheel, yoked to seven horses with tiny bells attached to its necks. May the king of our land live for all time protecting the world from aeon to aeon; live he in fame.”


Thus, from the Brahmin Matalan we come to know the fate of cowherdess Matari, Jain woman saint Kavunti, Courtesan Matavi, Parents of Kannaki and Kovlan and the human sacrifice of 1000 goldsmiths.


Silappadikaram Story:–


Silappathikaram is the earliest among the available Tamil epics. It was written by a poet cum prince Ilango. The story of the epic is as follows:-

Kannaki and Kovalan were the daughter and son of wealthy merchants of the port city Kaveri Pumpattinam of Choza kingdom . Both of them were married  and before long Kovalan fell into the spell of courtesan Matavi. But Kannaki was a faithful wife and received Kovalan wholeheartedly when he came back to her. They wanted to start a new life away from their home town and so they travelled to the renowned city of the Pandyas, Madurai.


Kannaki came to Madurai along with her husband Kovalan to sell her anklet and start a new life. But, her husband was unjustly accused of stealing the anklet of the Queen by a GOLDSMITH and was killed under the orders of the Pandya King. To prove the innocence of her husband, and expose the heinous crime of the Great Pandya King, Kannaki went to his court with one of her anklets. She accused the Pandya King of having ordered the death of her husband without conducting proper trial. The Pandya Queen’s anklet had pearls whereas the anklet of Kannaki had gems inside. She broke her anklet in the presence of the king and proved that her husband Kovalan was not guilty. Immediately Pandya King and Queen died, probably of massive heart attack.

Image of Kannaki and Kovalan

Afterwards Kannaki burnt the city by twisting one off her breasts and throwing it in the streets of Madurai City , Capital of the Pandya Kingdom, sparing the elderly, invalids, children, Brahmins and women. In other words, all the bad people were burnt alive. Later she went to Chera Nadu (present Kerala in South India) and ascended to Heaven in the Pushpaka Vimana/ pilotless airplane, that came from the Heaven. When the Chera King Senguttuvan heard about it from the forest tribes who witnessed her ascension, he decided to go to Holy Himalayas to take a stone and bathe it in the holy Ganges and then carve a statue out of it for Kannaki. King Senguttuvan’s brother Ilango composed the Silappadikaram giving all the details about the chaste woman/Patni Kannaki. Though the incidents happened in the second century CE, the epic in its current form is from the fourth or fifth century CE (Post Sangam Period).



Lord Shiva’s Sandals on the Head of a Tamil King! (Post No.3663)

Written by London swaminathan


Date: 23 FEBRUARY 2017


Time uploaded in London:- 9-59 am


Post No. 3663


Pictures are taken from various sources; thanks.


contact; swami_48@yahoo.com



Silappathikaram is the earliest among the available Tamil epics. It was written by a poet cum prince Ilango. The story of the epic is as follows:-


Kannaki came to Madurai along with her husband Kovalan to sell her anklet and start a new life. But, her husband was unjustly accused of stealing the anklet of the Queen and was killed under the orders of the King. To prove the innocence of her husband, and expose the heinous crime of the Great Pandya King, Kannaki went to his court with one of her anklets. She accused the Pandya King of having ordered the death of her husband without conducting proper trial. The Pandya Queen’s anklet had pearls whereas the anklet of Kannaki had gems inside. She broke her anklet in the presence of the king and proved that her husband Kovalan was not guilty. Immediately Pandya King and Queen died, probably of massive heart attack.


Afterwards Kannaki burnt the city by twisting one off her breasts and throwing it in the streets of  Madurai City , Capital of the Pandya Kingdom, sparing the elderly, invalids, children, Brahmins and women. In other words, all the bad people were burnt alive. Later she went to Chera Nadu (present Kerala in South India) and ascended to Heaven in the Pushpaka Vimana that came from the Heaven. When the Chera King Senguttuvan heard about it from the forest tribes who witnessed her ascension, he decided to go to Holy Himalayas to take a stone and bathe it in the holy Ganges and then carve a statue out of it for Kannaki. King Senguttuvan’s brother Ilango composed the Silappadikaram. Though the incidents happened in the second century CE, the epic in its current form is from the fourth or fifth century CE (Post Sangam Period).

Kannaki is worshipped in Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka as the Goddess of Chastity. Of the five Tamil epics, Silappadikaram (Cilappadikaram) is the most popular one. Chera King Senguttuvan was very powerful and he defeated the sea pirates and the Romans in the West coast of India. He was a great devotee of Lord Shiva. Just before leaving for the Himalayan Mountains, he went around the Shiva Temple with the sandals of Lord Shiva on his head. Later when the priests from the nearby Vishnu temple brought ‘prasadam’, he placed them on his shoulders. When he completed the Himalayan journey successfully and erected a statue for Kannaki, all the powerful North Indian Kings and Gajabahu of Sri Lanka were invited to see the consecration of the statue. A Brahmin by name Madalan figured in the epic from the very beginning. At the end, he blessed the king to live for eons, i.e. his name and fame will live for thousands of years. Madalan also praised him as a great devotee of Lord Shiva.


Let us look at the description of his devotion to Lord Shiva in the words of great poet Ilango:–


“The sovereign lord of the sharp sword, decorated his crown of gems with Vanci blossoms form the unflowering Vanci when the morning drum sounded at the gate, announcing the time for other kings of the earth, to pay their tributes. With the vicorious Vanci wreath were worn THE SANDALS OF THE GREAT GOD IN WHOSE FORM THE WHOLE UNIVERSE MANIFESTS ITSELF (SIVA), AND WHO WEARS THE CESCET MOON IN HIS LONG, DARK MATTED HAIR; AND HAVING LAID THE HEAD THAT BOWED TO NONE ELSE AT HIS HOLY SHRINE, HE CIRCUMAMBUATED IT. The sweet fumes from the sacrificial fires offered by the Vedic Brahmins deprived his garlands of its luxurious colour. He then mounted the nape of his proud war elephant.

There appeared before him some persons bearing the pracaatam pf the Lord Vishnu who slumbers in a yogic trance at Aatakamaatam and addressed him with benedictory words: May success attend on Kuttuvan, the Lord of the West! Since the king already placed on his crown of gems the beautiful sandals of the Lord whose matted hair bears the Ganga, he received this pracaatam and carried on his fair, bejewelled shoulders.”

–from Kalkot Katai, Cilappatikaram, Translated by Prof.V R Ramachandra Dikshitar, 1939

This shows that Senguttuvan was a follower of orthodox religion which consisted in the worship of Siva and Vishnu.

Aatakamaatam is identified with the Padmanabhaswamy temple of Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum). Some scholars thing it was another temple at Karur, which was known as Vanchi in the olden days.


There are numerous references to Lord Shiva in the epic. Siva’s dances and Siva’s temples are referred to in other sections.


Here is what the great Brahmin Madalan said in his blessings:

“It is not strange that people who do good things attain heaven and people who have worldly minds are reborn, and that good and bad deeds have their own reward and those dead should be reborn. Those are ancient truths. You who were born through the grace of HIM WHO RIDES ON THE SACRED BULL and have won distinction as king in the wide world, saw clear as an object held in the palm of your hand, the fruits of righteous deeds and the forms of holy people. Live long from aeon to aeon protecting the earth! Live long, gracious monarch.”


“Please with what the Brahmin Matalan said, the king endowed grants to the temple of the very youthful Pattini (Chaste woman) who twisted off her breast and there by raised flames which enveloped the noisy Kuutal (Madurai’s other name) of the great Pantiyan Kingdom, much celebrated in poetical themes.”


Silapadikaram has innumerable references to Hindu customs. Commentator Adiayrkkunallar has added encyclopaedic information about ancient Tamil Nadu.






India in Silappadikaram

Written by London swaminathan

Article No.1844 Date: 4 May 2015

Uploaded at London time: 8-36 am

(This article was sent for publication in the Bharatiya Vidhya Bhavan, Delhi souvenir last year)

(S Swaminathan was a Senior Sub Editor of Dinamani, a Tamil language daily, in Madurai before taking over as the Producer of the BBC Tamil Service in London. Later he started teaching Tamil as a part time tutor at SOAS, University of London)

Tamil epic Silappadikaram (also written as Cilappatikaram) is an encyclopaedia of art and music of the ancient Tamils. Ilango Adikal, author of Silappadikaram, has dealt with almost all the topics under arts and culture of the land. But not many people know that Ilango was equally proficient in the geography and history of India as well. I would like to point out the amazing knowledge of Ilango about the Indian subcontinent. But for his reference to King Gajabahu of Sri Lanka, we wouldn’t have fixed the date of Kovalan and Kannaki. Though the story of Kannaki and Kovalan happened around second century CE, the epic must have been written a few centuries later. The language and style of the poetry in the epic serve as strong pointers in this direction.

The epic runs to 5270 lines and it contains 13,870 words. This is the biggest work closer to the Sangam period. It is worthwhile to compare it with the oldest Tamil work Tolkappiam. Tolkappiam, the Tamil grammar book, runs to nearly 4000 lines with 13,708 words. But again there is some controversy about the dating of Tolkappiam and particularly the third chapter of the grammar book, namely Porul Adhikaram that is considered a later addition by many scholars.

The epic is divided into three Kandams (cantos) on the basis of geographical and political divisions of Tamil country Choza, Pandya and Chera corresponding to Pukar, Madurai and Vanji. These are the capital or major cities of ancient Tamil Nadu. The use of the words Kandam for divisions is copied from Valmiki Ramayana which has seven Kandams(6+1).

We see a very clear shift from the four fold natural divisions of Sangam literature (Kurinji, Mullai, Neithal and Marutham) to a fully fledged city culture in the epic. The graphic description of Pukar(5-6/40) and Madurai streets (Ur Kan Katai) is remarkable. There is no denying the fact cities did exist even during Sangam period. But that was not the main basis of those poems. We see such descriptions in Madurai Kanchi, a Sangam Tamil work. In short we read more about urban culture in the epic than the rural culture of the Sangam literature. The absence of Kurinji, Mullai, Neithal and Marutham in the epic is noteworthy. Ilango mentioned even Ujjain (6-29) and the forests of Vindhya Mountains (6-29) in Madhya Pradesh.

Ilango did not miss the opportunity to describe in detail the two great rivers Kaveri and Vaigai that run through Choza and Pandyan territories. The beautiful descriptions of these rivers are a treat to nature lovers. The River Kaveri has not changed much in the past two thousand years, but Vaigai has lost its beauty. Even in Paripatal, an anthology of Sangam Literature, we see beautiful descriptions of Vaigai.

Ode to River Kaveri (kanalvari)

Hail, Kaveri!

Robed with flowers, swarmed by singing bees, you roam,

Sinuous and fanciful,

Casting dark glances from your swift

And carp like eyes

Your gait and charming looks are the pride

Of your lord, whose virtuous sceptre’s never gone astray

Hail, Kaveri!

(Another two stanzas are there in the epic)

River Vaigai in the background

Vaigai and the city of Madurai are described in the ‘Puranceri Irutha Katai’:-

The Vaigai River, daughter of the sky, wanders ever on the tongues of the poets, who sings the generous gifts she bestows on the land she has blesses. Most cherished possession of the Pandya Kingdom, she resembles a noble and respected maiden. Her dress is woven of all the flowers that fall from the date tree, the Vakulam, the Kino, the white Kadamba, the gamboges, the Tilak, the jasmine, the Myrobalan, the pear tree, the great Champak and the saffron plant. The broad belt she wears low around her hips is adorned with lovely flowers of Kuruku and golden jasmine, mixed with Musundai’s thick lianas, the wild jasmine, he convolvulus, the bamboo, the volubilis, the Pidavam, the Arabian jasmine. The sand banks, edged by trees in blossom, are her youthful breasts. Her red lips are the trees that spread their red petals along the shore her lovely teeth are wild jasmine buds floating in the stream. Her long eyes are the carp, which playing in the water, appear and vanish like a wink. Her tresses are the flowing waters filled with the petals (13-151/174).

Both Kannaki and Kovalan cried out in wonder, “This is not a river but a stream in blossom”.

This beautiful description of River Vaigai is different from River Kavery. This shows his skill and his love of nature.

River Kaveri (Cauvery)

Holy Mountain and Holy River

Tamils were very familiar with the Himalayas and the River Ganges. We have lot of references to these in the oldest part of Sangam literature such as Purananuru. There is no wonder that Ilango also referred to this mountain and the river in several places in the epic. Sangam poets used Himalayas and Pothiyam Hill in pairs (Puram 2-24), probably an indirect reference to sages of the Himalayas and Sage Agastya who had settled in the Pothiyam Hill from the North. The very concept of taking a stone from the holy Himalayas and bathing it in the holiest of the Indian rivers, Ganges, (Vazthu Katai) show that the ancient Tamils considered the big land mass from the southernmost Kanyakumari to the northernmost Himalayas as one entity that belonged to everyone in the country. Chera King Senguttuvan was praised as the ruler of the land between the Himalayas and Kumari.

Reference to holy shrines such as Venkatam where the most famous Balaji temple is located at present, and Srirangam (11-40/41), is also interesting.

Ilango’s reference to Senguttuvan’s sea expedition to destroy the pirates (23-81) and the foreign intruders are examples of his knowledge about the seas surrounding the peninsular. Marine trade with Rome and the West was flourishing during the first few centuries of our era. Though Silappadikaram is a post Sangam work, the Tamils must have felt very proud of their success in the foreign trade. Yavanas are mentioned in four places in the epic 5-10, 14-67, 28-141 and 29-26. The epic says that Chera king ruled the prosperous land of the Yavanas (28-141 and 29-26), may be the North West region of India. It was under the Indo-Greek kings for few centuries.

Ilango’s knowledge of the seas, rivers, mountains, cities and other spots of natural beauty, is amazing. To make the epic more interesting he had added some interesting details about the caves or underground tunnel routes (Katukan Katai)  to Madurai from Alagarkoil, a Vaishnavite shrine near Madurai. As of now we don’t know any such route linking Madurai with Alagarkoil, but in his days probably mountain pass or caves must have existed. Until very recently Alagarkoil hill was very green with thick forests.

In the Venir Katai, he defined the boundaries of Tamil Nadu between Venkatam and the Southern seas. He refers to the semi mythical land Uttarakuru (2-10). Strangely the earliest reference to the River Jamuna and Krishna comes from Sangam Tamil Literature (Aka 59-4) and Ilango refers to it in Aychiyar Kuravai(17-22).

Gajabahu and King of Malava

At the end of the epic he narrates the consecration ceremony attended by Gajabahu, King of Sri Lanka and Kings from Malava (30-157/160). Earlier in the poem he refers to the Satavahanas, who were his friends.

Author’s e mail: swami_48 @ yahoo.com

Books used

The Cilappatikaram, translated by Prof.V R Ramachandra Dikshitar, 1939. Second edition, The South India Saiva Siddhanta Works Publishing Society Tinnelvelly Limited, 1978

Shilappadikaram (The Ankle Bracelet), translated by Alain Danilelou, A New Directions Book, New York, 1965

Japan, China and Tamil Epic: A Strange coincidence!

waterfall clear
otowa girls

Otowa Warefall in Kiyomizu Dera Temple in Kyoto, Japan

Research Paper written by London Swaminathan
Post No.1315; Dated 28th September 2014.

I was talking to my friend today who visited Kyoto in Japan sometime ago. He was narrating an incident where he drank some holy water to get three benefits at one go. Suddenly I remembered one such thing in the Tamil epic Sillapadikaram.

Kiyomizu Dera Temple near Kyoto in Japan is a UNESCO heritage site. This temple was built 1200 years ago by an ancient Buddhist sect. Kiyomizu Dera Temple means The Temple of Pure Water. The main hall of the temple is considered a national treasure. Fifteen colourfully painted halls, Otowa Waterfall, Forty feet tall wooden columns, a wooden stage assembled with 410 cypress tree boards, Three storied Pagoda, Eleven headed -Thousand handed Bodisattva idol and decorative gates attract thousands of tourists every year.
It is halfway on the Otowa mountain. The temple met with several fire accidents and the latest structures are only 400 years old.

The Otowa Waterfall has some similarity to the Three Magic Ponds mentioned in the Tamil Epic Silappadikaram. The waterfall in Kyoto comes from a mountain stream and it is divided into three streams. It is said that one of the three gives you Longevity and the other two Wisdom and Health. Wisdom is interpreted as success in life or good marks in the examinations etc. So students are also attracted to it. People use metal cups to collect the water and drink. Tradition says that only two streams must be used. If anyone drinks water from all the three streams then the person is called a greedy person!

Tamil epic Silappadikaram has some magical element! Kovalan, with his young wife Kannaki, was travelling from Choza Kingdom to Pandya Kingdom. He met a Brahmin who performed Vedic sacrifices. Kovalan asked the learned Brahmin to show him the way to Madurai. Then the Brahmin explained to him the various routes. Following is the one that has similarity with three streams of Otowa water fall of Kiyomizu Dera in Japan:
“If you do not take the route lying to the right, but choose the route to the left, you will hear winged beetles singing the tune of Sevvali melody. Paasing this you reach Tirumaalkundram (Present Alakar Koil near Madurai) that opens into a cave which removes all delusion, and leads to the miraculous three ponds, greatly praised by the gods, and called the

Sacred Saravanam
Bava Karani and


If you bathe in the sacred Saravanam you will get the knowledge of the book attributed to the King of Gods (commentators identify this book with Aindra Vyakaranam, a grammar book or a system).

If you bathe in the Bavakarani, you will learn the deeds of your past which lead to your present birth.

If you bathe in the Ishtasiddhi pond, you will gain all that you wish for.

If you choose to enter the cave, worship then the great lord on the lofty hill, meditating on his lotus feet and going thrice round the hill; then you will see a nymph by name Varottama near Cilambaru” – Katukan Katai, Silappadikaram

Kiyomizu Dear Temple, Kyoto, Japan

The above passage is almost similar to Japanese belief. I had been to Cilambaru and Nupura Ganaga, a small water fall at Alakar hill. Though I have not gone to Japan, the picture shows something like Nupura Ganga, a small stream falling as water fall. In both the places the holy water is said to have some magical properties. It gives one wisdom, health, longevity and wishes.

Madurai people throng to Alakar Hills to bathe in the medicinal cum holy water of Cilambaru. We too used to drink Cilambaru water for its medicinal qualities. Japanese drink it for its magic effects. Both the shrines are located up the hill.


Fu Lu Shou
Chinese Belief

Chinese also worship Fu, Lu, Shou representing Happiness, Prosperity and Longevity. They are worshipped as stars in the sky. Fu represents Jupiter (Guru), Lu represents (Vasishta Nakashatra in Ursa Major constellation or Saptarishi mandalam and Shou represents Agastya Nakashatra- Canopus in the southern sky. They have been worshipping these stars in the form of three human figures for at least 800 years. There is no doubt that they have learnt all these things from the Hindus. Vasishta and Arndhati are in Sangam Tamil literature which is at least 2000 years old. Agastya Star is visible only for people living in the southern latitudes. Only Hindus could have made him a God or a Star!


Quotations from Tamil Epic Silappadikaram

silambu book1

Compiled by London Swaminathan
Post No.1198; dated 27th July 2014.

One of the great classics of Indian culture is Silappadikaram, a Tamil Epic. Silappadikaram means ‘The Story of Anklet’. It was composed by Ilango. The incidents mentioned in the epic took place around second century CE in Tamil Nadu. This is the most popular story of the five Tamil epics. This book gives us a vivid picture of early Indian life in all its aspects.

(Translations by V R Ramachandra Dishitar, Cilappadikaram, 1939; my comments are given within brackets: swami)

1.So we shall write a poem, with songs, illustrating the three truths that
a) Dharma will become the God of Death to kings who swerve from the path of righteousness
b) That it is natural for great men to adore a chaste lady of great fame
c) And that destiny will manifest itself and be fulfilled — (Patikam)

2.Praised be the Moon! Praised be the Moon, for, like the cool white umbrella of the king who wears the pollen spreading garland, He blesses our beautiful world.
Praised be the Sun! Praised be the Sun, for, like the commands of the Lord of the Kaveri lands, He revolves round the Golden peaked Meru — (Mangala Vazthu)

(This prayer in the very beginning of the book shows that Sangam Age Tamils followed the same Hindu culture that was practised in the North. White Umbrella and Meru circled by the Sun are in very ancient Sanskrit works)

3.That was the day on which the Moon moving in the sky approached the star Rohini, when Kovalan who walked round the holy fire in accordance with the scriptural injunctions as directed by the revered Brahmin priest, approached his bride, divinely fair, resembling the Star Arundhati — (Mangala Vazthu)

(Tamils believed in astrology and they got married on the day when moon approached Rohini (Aldebaran). It is in two more verses in Akananuru. This and marrying with circumambulation of Fire God (Agni) are typical Hindu customs followed until today. The same culture existed in the North and the South of India).
Image of Ilango, author of the Epic.

4. The port city Pumpukar resembled Uttarakuru, the residence of great penance performers — (Mangala Vazthu)
(The reference to Uttarakuru, Arundhati, Mount Meru, Fire Worhip in the very first chapter shows that the Tamils were out and out followers of Vedic culture 2000 years ago).

5. Hero of the epic Kovalan praised his wife Kannaki:
O purest gold! O conch white pearl!
O faultless fragrance! O sugar-cane, honey!
Unattainable beauty, life giving nectar!
O noble child of nobly-born merchants! – (Maniyaram patutta Katai)
(Hero Kovalan and heroine Kannaki belonged to the wealthy merchant community of ancient Tamil Nadu. Kovalan is the Tamilized form of Gopala in Sanskrit and Kannaki is the Tamil translation of Meenakshi in Sanskrit. Author Ilango himself called Kannaki in several places ‘lady with fish like eyes’= Meenakshi)

6.They (Kovalan and Kannaki) resembled Kama and Rati – God and Goddess of Love —, enjoyed close embraces like smoke coloured serpents – (Maniyaram patutta Katai)

7.The great sage (Agastya) of the divine Potiyil hill once cursed Indra’s son (along with Urvaci), and the latter obtained redemption by displaying her skill on the stage — (Aranketru Katai)


8. When Kovalan, the hero of the epic fell for a dancing girl, his wife did not do certain things:
Her anklet was no more on her charming feet (Kannaki did no wear the anklet);
The girdle no longer graced her soft waists cloth;
Her breasts were no more painted with vermillion paste;
No jewel other than her sacred Tali – yellow thread – did she wear
No earrings were visible on her ears;
No perspiration adorned her shining moon like face;
Nor was there collyrium on her long fish like eyes;
No more was there tilak on her beaming fore head;
Her milk white teeth were not revealed to Kovalan in a loving smile;
Nor was her dark hair softened by oil (Anti Malai Sirappusey Katai)

(This is the same in Valmiki Ramayana and Megaduta. Wives won’t decorate themselves when their husbands are away; when they are fasting also, they do the same; which is confirmed by Andal a Tamil poetess of Seventh Century CE)


9.Then the auspicious drum was removed from the temple called Vajra Temple, placed on the nape of the elephant, and conveyed to the temple where the young white (Airavata) elephant stood. After this the auspicious tall flag (bearing the ensign of the white elephant) which stood in the Temple of Kalpaka Tree was hoisted aloft in the sky.

(The epic described Indra Festival in detail in this section. Indra Dwajam that was hoisted for 28 days is referred to in Valmiki Ramayana and other Sanskrit books. Indra Festival is celebrated even today throughout South East Asia as Water Festival. Airavata and Karpaka Tree are used in the flags of South East Asian Countries. Indra statues are found everywhere in South East Asian countries now)

10. Temples in Pumpukar:
Joy prevailed everywhere on account of Indra’s Festival in the
Temple of the Great Lord who was never born (Siva)
In the Temple of Six Faced Red Lord (Subramanya/Muruga)
In the Temple of Valiyon (Baladeva) whose complexion was like white conch shell
In the Temple of Netiyon – Vishnu – of the dark colour
And in the Temple of Indra of the victorious umbrella and the pearl garland.
On one side the Vedic sacrifices as ordained by Brahma, were faultlessly performed, and on another the festivals pertaining to the fur classes of the Devas (Vaus, Adityas,Rudras and Maruts) and the Eighteen Ganas and different gods, were separately and correctly conducted — (Indira Viazvu Etutta Katai)

(Foreign “scholars” divided Indians in to Aryas, Dravidas and Mundas. But Sangam Tamil (Pura Nanuru and Tiru Murukatru Padai) books and Sanskrit literature divided the living beings in to 18 groups. They never knew anything about Aryas, Dravidas and Mundas!!! The Eighteen divisions according to Tamils: Apsaras, Devas/celestials, Nagas, Siddhas, Gandharvas, Vidyadharas, Picasas, Tarakas, Bhogabumiyar, Kimpurusas, Senas, Asuas, Bhutas, Munis, Garudas, Raksasas, Yakshas and Caranas.

Author of the epic, Ilango, gives the list of temples in three more chapters in the epic. He has included the Buddhist Vikaras and Jain Shelters along with Hindu Mutts).
The above quotes are from the first five chapters of the epic. There are thirty chapters (Kaathai) in the epic.
Picture of students enacting Silappadikaram.

Silappadikaram is a Tamil Hindu Encyclopaedia with lot of information about the ancient music and dance. I have written about the “11 types of dances performed by Matavi”, the dancing girl, separately. All the dances performed by her at Pumpukar 2000 years ago were from the Puranas!! One full commentary and one incomplete commentary for the epic are available today. Even with those ancient commentaries, we could not understand the terms fully. No wonder we are not able to understand the Vedas which were composed (heard by the seers) several thousand years before the Tamil epic!

Contact swami_48@yahoo.com

புறநானூற்றில் பகவத் கீதை- பகுதி 2

Please read the First Part and then read it for better understanding.

வினையே ஆடவர்க்கு உயிரே

கீதையில் கண்ணன் கூறுகிறான் (3-5, 3-8):எவனும் ஒரு வினாடி கூட  கருமம் செய்யாமல் இருக்க முடியாது. நீ விதிக்கப்பட்ட கடமையைச் செய். கருமம் செய்யாமையினும் கருமம் செய்தல் சிறந்தது அன்றோ. கருமம் செய்வதற்கே உனக்கு அதிகாரம். அதன் பற்றில் அல்ல(2-47)

பாலை பாடிய பெருங் கடுங்கோ (குறு.135) கூறுகிறார்: தொழில் தான் ஆண் மக்களுக்கு உயிர். இல்லத்தில் வாழும் பெண்களுக்கு கணவனே உயிர்.

வினையே ஆடவர்க்கு உயிரே வாணுதல்

மனையுறை மகளிர்க்கு ஆடவர் உயிரே

அகம் 33: வினை நன்றாதல் வெறுப்பக் காட்டி

மேலும் சில: குறள் 615


செல்வத்தின் பயனே ஈதல்

கீதையில் கண்ணன் கூறுகிறான் (3-13): எவர்கள் தமக்கெனவே சமைக்கிறார்களோ அவர்கள் பாவிகள். அவர்கள் பாவத்தையே உண்கிறார்கள்.

(புறம் 189 நக்கீரனார்):

உண்பது நாழி:உடுப்பவை இரண்டே;

பிறவும் எல்லாம் ஓரொக்கும்மே;

அதனால் செல்வத்துப் பயனே ஈதல்

புறம் 182( இளம்பெருவழுதி)

இந்திரர் அமிழ்தம் இயைவது ஆயினும், இனிது

எனத் தமியர் உண்டலும் இலரே

இதுவுமது: குறு. 143, குறள்-322, 85, 335, 333

கொடுப்போர் ஏத்தி கொடார்ப் பழிப்போர் (தொல்காப்பியம்)


சர்வ பூத ஹிதே ரதா: (எல்லா உயிர்க்கும் இன்பம்)

கீதையில் கண்ணன் கூறுகிறான்(12-4): எல்லா உயிர்க்கும் இன்புற்றிருக்க நினைக்கும் அன்பர்கள் என்னையே வந்தடைவார்கள்.

இதுவுமது:  கீதை 11-55,9-29,5-25,6-40

சாஸ்வத்ஸ்ய சுகஸ்ய (கீதை 14-27): யாண்டும் இடும்பை இல (குறள்)

தொல்காப்பியரும் “எல்லா உயிர்க்கும் இன்பம்” என்று கூறுகிறார்.

ஐங்குறுநூற்றில் ஓரம் போகியார் :(இவர் வேத, உபநிஷத மந்திரங்களை அப்படியே மொழி பெயர்த்துள்ளார். இந்தக் கருத்து கீதையில் பல இடங்களில் வருகிறது)

நெற்பல பொலிக பொன்பெரிது சிறக்க

விளைக வயலே வருக இரவலர்

பால் பல ஊறுக பகடு பல சிறக்க

பகைவர் புல் ஆர்க பார்ப்பார் ஓதுக

பசியில்லாகுக பிணிகேண் நீங்குக

வேந்து பகை தணிக யாண்டு பல நந்துக

அறநனி சிறக்க அல்லது கெடுக

அரசு முறை செய்க களவில்லாகுக

நன்று பெரிது சிறக்க தீதில்லாகுக

மாரி வாய்க்க வள நனி சிறக்க


(பிராமணர்கள் எங்கே பூஜை செய்தாலும் முடிவில்– ஸ்வஸ்தி ப்ரஜாப்ய பரிபாலயந்தாம்– என்ற மந்திரத்தையும், –காலே வர்ஷது பர்ஜன்ய: –என்ற மந்திரத்தையும்– ஸர்வேஷாம் சாந்திர் பவது/ மங்களம் பவது –என்ற மந்திரத்தையும் சொல்லி வாழ்த்துவார்கள். இதை –வாழ்க அந்தணர் வானவர் ஆனினம்– என்ற பாடலாக ஞான சம்பந்தரும் மொழி பெயர்த்துள்ளார். சைவர்கள் இதையே –வான்முகில் வளாது பெய்க—என்ற பாடலில் கூறுவார்கள். ஆனால் ஒரம் போகியார் பல மந்திரங்களைத் தொகுத்து அழகாக சுருங்கச் சொல்லி விளங்கவைத்து விட்டார்.


உள்ளுவதெல்லாம் உயர்வுள்ளல் (குறள் 596)

கீதையில் கண்ணன் கூறுகிறான் (கீதை 6-5):உன்னை நீயே உயர்த்திக் கொள்ளவேண்டும்; உன்னை நீயே தாழ்த்திக் கொள்ளக் கூடாது, உனக்கு நீயே நண்பன், நீயே பகைவன்.

(கீதை 11-33) எழுந்திரு ! புகழடை!! உத்திஷ்ட ! யசோ லப !!

புறம் 214 (கோப்பெருஞ் சோழன்): யானை வேட்டைக்குப் போகிறவன் வெல்வான். குறும்பூழ் வேட்டைக்குப் போவோன் அது இல்லாமலும் திரும்புவான். உயர்ந்த குறிக்கோளுடன் கூடிய உயர்ந்தோனாக விளங்குக. இமயம் போல் புகழ் அடைக.

யானை வேட்டுவன் யானையும் பெறுமே

குறும்பூழ் வேட்டுவன் வறுங்கையும் வருமே

அதனால், உயர்ந்த வேட்டத்து உயர்ந்திசினோர்க்கு


இமயத்துக் கோடுயந்தென்ன தம்மிசை நட்டு

புறம் 190 (நல்லுருத்திரன்): எலி, திருடிச் சேமித்துத் தின்னும். புலி இடப் பக்கம் விழுந்த பன்றியை விட்டு வலப்பக்கத்து விழுந்த யானையையே சாப்பிடும். அப்படிப்பட்ட உயர்ந்த நோக்கம் கொண்டோருடன் சேர்வாயாக.


கடல் நிரம்பாத அதிசயம் (கீதை 2-70)

கீதையில் கண்ணன் கூறுகிறான்: எங்கும் நிரம்பியதும் நிலை குலையாததுமான கடலில் நதிகள் போய் சங்கமிப்பது போல ஆசைகள் எல்லாம் எவனை அடைகின்றனவோ அவன் அமைதியை அடைவான். ஆசையைத் தொடர்பவனுக்கு அமைதி இல்லை.

பரணர் கூறுகிறார்: கடல்களில் எவ்வளவோ நதிகள் கலந்தாலும் அது நிரம்பி வழிவதில்லை. கடலிலிருந்து எவ்வளவு மேகங்கள் நீரை உறிஞ்சினாலும் அது வற்றுவதில்லை.

மழைகொளக் குறையாது புனல் புக நிறையாது

விலங்கு வளி கடவும் துளங்கிருங் கமஞ்சூள் –(பதிற்றுப் பத்து 45)



பிறர்க்கு உவமம் தான் அல்லது

தனக்கு உவமம் பிறர் இல் (உலோச்சனார், 377)

உரவோர் எண்ணினும் மடவோர் எண்ணினும்

பிறர்க்கு நீ வாயின் அல்லது

நினக்குப் பிறர் உவமம் ஆகா (ப. பத்து, அரிசில் கிழார்)

கீதையில் கண்ணன் கூறுகிறான் (கீதை 6-32:) எவன் எங்கும் சுகமாயினும் துக்கமாயினும் தன்னை உபமானமாகக் கொண்டு சமமாகப் பார்க்கிறானோ அந்த யோகிதான் சிறந்தவன் என்பது என் முடிவு

உவமை, உவமேயம் ஆகியன சம்ஸ்கிருத சொற்கள். ஆயினும் சங்கப் புலவர்களோ தொல்காப்பியரோ அவைகளை அப்படியே பயன் படுத்த அஞ்சியதில்லை!

இதுவுமது: புறம் 377,மது 516,பதி73-7, தொல்காப்பியம்-உவமவியல்


சம தர்சனம்-ஓடும் பொன்னும் ஒக்க நோக்குவர்

கீதையில் கண்ணன் கூறுகிறான் (5-18) : பசு, பார்ப்பனன், யானை, நாய், நாயை உண்ணும் புலையன் ஆகிய எல்லாவற்றிலும் ஆத்ம ஞானிகள் சம தர்சனம் உடையவர்கள். இன்ப துன்பத்தில் சமமாக இருப்பவனும் ஓடு,கல்,தங்கம் ஆகியவற்றைச் சமமாகப் பார்ப்பவனும் உயர்ந்தவன்.(14-24). புலன்களை வென்று மண், கல், தங்கத்தை சமமாகப் பார்ப்பவன் யோகி.(6-8)

கனியன் பூங்குன்றன் (புறம் 192) பக்குடுக்கை நன்கணியார் (194)

யாதும் ஊரே; யாவரும் கேளிர்;

தீதும் நன்றும் பிறர் தர வாரா;

நோதலும் தணிதலும் அவற்றோரன்ன;

சாதலும் புதுவது அன்றே; வாழ்தல்

இனிது என மகிழ்ந்தன்றும் இலமே; முனிவின்,

இன்னாது என்றலும் இலமே:

பொருள்: எல்லா ஊர்களும் எம் ஊரே, எல்லாரும் எம் உறவினரே. தீமையும் நன்மையும் யாரும் தருவதில்லை. நம்மால்தான் வருகிறது. இறப்பது புதிய செய்தி அல்ல.வாழ்வதால் மகிழ்ச்சியோ அல்லது அதை வெறுப்பதோ இல்லை பெரியாற்று வெள்ளத்தில் மிதவை அடித்துச் செலவது போல எல்லா உயிர்களும் முறையாகக் கரை சேரும் என்பது துறவியர் கண்ட உண்மை.ஆகையால் பெரியோரை மதிக்கவும் சிறியோரை இகழவும் தேவை இல்லை. அவரவர் ஒழுக்கத்தையே கருத்திற் கொள்வோம் ( ஒன்றாகக் காண்பதே காட்சி என்பதை அழகாகச் சொல்லிவிட்டார்)


நன்கணியார் (194) கூறுகிறார்: என்ன உலகம் இது? ஒரு வீட்டில் சாவுக் கொட்டு. மற்றொரு வீட்டில் திருமண மேளம். ஒரு வீட்டில் மகளிர் அழுகை. இன்னொரு வீட்டில் மகளிர் பூச்சூடல். இவ்வாறு இன்பமும் துன்பமும் சேர படைத்துவிட்டானே கருணையே இல்லாத பிரம்மா! இதை உணர்ந்து அல்லாதவற்றை ஒதுக்கி இனியவற்றை மட்டும் கண்டு மகிழுங்கள் (“ இன்னாது அம்ம இவ் உலகம்; இனிய காண்க, இதன் இயல்புணர்ந்தோரே”)

(190 முதல் 198 வரை எல்லாம் தத்துவப் பாடல்கள்)

போரின் கொடுமைகள்

போரின் கொடுமைகள் பற்றி புறம் 62ல் கழாத்தலையார் பாடுகிறார். இதையே கீதையின் முதல் அத்தியாயத்தில் அர்ஜுனனும் கூறுகிறான்.


ஆணின் ஆறு பண்புகள்

நற்றிணை 160: நீதி, நட்பு, இழிசெயலைக் கண்டு நாணுதல்,பிறர்க்கு பயன்படல், (பரோபகாரம்), நற்குணங்கள், பிறை தன்னை அறிந்து ஒழுகும் பாங்கு ஆகிய 6 பண்புகளை நான் கடைப் பிடிக்கிறேன்.

அகம் 173 பாடலில் முள்ளியூர் பூதியாரும் அறநெறியில் ஒழுகவேண்டும், பிறர் துன்பத்தைத் துடைக்க வேண்டும் என்று கூறுகிறார். கீதையின் 12ம் அத்தியாயத்தில் கண்ணன் பல நற்பண்புகளை விவரிக்கிறார். கீதை முழுதுமே நூற்றுக் கணக்கான இடங்களில் இத்தகைய கருத்துக்கள் வருகின்றன.


இம்மை, மறுமை—அற நிலை வணிகன்

கீதையில் கண்ணன் கூறுகிறான் (2-42/43): வேதத்தின் பெயரால் சொற்சிலம்பம் ஆடுவோர் அழகான வார்த்தைகளால் சுவர்க்கத்தை மனதிற் கொண்டு காரியம் செய்வார்கள்.

மேலும் சில: கீதை 2-49; 17-20,21,22

ஆய் பற்றி முடமோசியார் (புறம் 134)

இம்மைச் செய்தது மறுமைக்கு ஆம் எனும்

அறநிலை வணிகன் ஆய் அல்லன்

கீதையிலும் தமிழ் இலக்கியத்திலும் நூற்றுக் கணக்கான இடங்களில் வருவதால் இனியும் கூறத்தேவை இல்லை

சிலப்பதிகாரத்தில் இளங்கோ கூறிய கீதைக் கருத்துக்கள்:

”தெய்வம் தெளிமின் தெளிந்தோர்ப் பேணுமின்
பொய்யுரை அஞ்சுமின் புறஞ்சொல் போற்றுமின்
ஊனூண் துறமின் உயிர்க்கொலை நீங்குமின்
தானம் செய்ம்மின் தவம்பல தாங்குமின்.
செய்ந்நன்றி கொல்லன்மின் தீநட் பிகழ்மின்
பொய்க்கரி போகன்மின் பொருண்மொழி நீங்கன்மின்
அறவோர் அவைக்களம் அகலாது அணுகுமின்
பிறவோர் அவைக்களம் பிழைத்துப் பெயர்மின்
பிறர்மனை அஞ்சுமின் பிழையுயிர் ஓம்புமின்
அறமனை காமின் அல்லவை கடிமின்
கள்ளும் களவும் காமமும் பொய்யும்
வெள்ளைக் கோட்டியும் விரகினில் ஒழிமின்
இளமையும் செல்வமும் யாக்கையும் நிலையா
உளநாள் வரையாது ஒல்லுவ தொழியாது.

இன்னும் பல தலைப்புகளில் ஒற்றுமை உள்ளது. அவைகளை எல்லாம் GREAT MEN THINK ALIKE என்று விட்டுவிடலாம். ஆனால் ஒன்று மட்டும் உண்மை. இந்திய சிந்தனையில் ஆரிய திராவிட என்ற பிரிவினவாதத்துக்கு இடமே இல்லை. இமயம் முதல் குமரி வரை அற்புதமான ஒரே சிந்தனை!! அதிசயமான ஒரே அணுகுமுறை. படிக்கப் படிக்கத் தெவிட்டாது!!

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Aladdin’s Magic Lamp and Tamil Saints

Aesop’s Fables, The Thousand One Nights, Decameron Tales, The Canterbury Tales and many more folk tales of Europe have adapted Indian stories. Many of the characters themselves were alien to Europe. For example when Aesop used an Asian animal or bird we knew for sure it was not from Europe.


The art of storytelling has developed to the highest standards in India. In the Forest of Naimisaranya , saints used to gather and listen to stories. Sometimes such sessions lasted for twelve years. Though most of the stories are mythological in nature we come across all the fables, anecdotes and supernatural elements. Putting one story within another is story is also typical Indian. We see all these traits in the above European and Middle Eastern books. They have adapted many stories from the stories of Vikramaditya, Pancha Tantra, Katha Sarit Sagara, Dasa Kumara Charitra and Maha Bharata. Many Western and Eastern scholars have already identified such areas. But not many people knew that they have even copied from the miracle stories of Tamil Saints Sambandhar, Appar and Sundarar. Aladdin and the wonderful lamp is part of The Thousand One nights. But it was added by a European author to the Arabic version of 1001 nights just two hundred years ago. He attributed it to a Syrian in the Middle East.Aladdin’s genie performed several miracles for him.


Most of the Hindus know the Yaksha Prasna story of Mahabharata. Yakshas are super natural spirits who occupy the lakes, trees, junctions of the roads and hills. They are supposed to have supernatural powers. In Tamil literature we come across Bhutham, a benevolent natural spirit, in the Pandya inscriptions, Thevaram Hymns, Silappadikaram and other minor Tamil works. The Bhutams or the spirits or the supernatural beings have done marvellous tasks.


Sinnamanur Copper Plates of Pandya King narrated how a Pandya king used the service of Bhutams to repair the tanks and lakes. Irayanar Kalaviyal commentary also gave this story.

Saivite saint Tiru Gnana Sambhandhar was going from one town to another town to worship god in different temples. When he went to Thiruvaduthurai, his father Siva Patha Hruthayar asked him for some financial help to do a yagna (fire ceremony). Then Sambhandhar started singing a hymn.  Immediately a Bhutam appeared before him and left 1000 gold coins in front of the shrine. Sambhandhar sent the treasure to his father.


Another great Tamil great saint Appar was reconverted to Hinduism from Jainism. He prayed for Hindu religious symbols to appear on his body. It is customary to have those symbols marked on the body like tattoos during initiation ceremony. Immediately a Bhutam appeared before him and marked the holy Saiva symbols Tri Sul/Trident and the Bull emblems on his shoulders.

One may wonder who the Bhutams were. Were they some Shiva devotees dressed like short and ugly dwarfs? Or were they some supernatural beings that appeared like bolt from the blue?


The next episode will show that that they were NOT ordinary human beings disguised as Bhutams.

Sundarar, the last of the three Thevaram saints, was receiving paddy and pulses on a regular basis from one of his devotees who was a rich land lord. Because of a big drought the crops failed. So the land lord was very much worried. One day he went to bed skipping his dinner. Lord Shiva appeared in his dream and told him that he had given him paddy for Sundarar. When the landlord woke up, he saw a mountain heap of paddy. When he sent a word to Sundarar about this miracle, Sundarar thought how he was going to carry all the paddy to his home town Tiruvarur which was miles away from the Landlord’s town. Shiva sent his Battalion of Bhutas ( Bhuta Ganam) to shift them to Sundarar’s  place overnight. Since all these things were beyond human comprehension, they wrote everything for future generations.


Sundarar was very good friend of the King of Chera (modern Kerala)  country. When he visited the Chera country, the king gave him enormous gifts. But he lost all those to robbers who were none other than Shiva Bhuta Ganas. When Sundarar prayed to god and sang about it, he got all the robbed goods back.


Silappadikara Sadukka Bhutam

Silappadikaram is a moving Tamil epic. It has a reference to Bhutas in the City Squares. They used to ask questions like the Oracles of Delphi. One of the Bhutas in the city of Pumpuhar ate bad people who were liars, traitors, prostitutes or people who have illicit intimacy. In another place the epic refers to a person beaten to death by the Bhuta because of his lies. The four Bhutas in charge of four castes vacated the city before Kannaki burnt Madurai.

So we can safely conclude that the above episodes lay seeds for all the ghost or spirit stories in the European literature.



ஓதமீள வேலெறிந்து பேராயிரம் கிரது செய்தும்

பூத கணம் பணியாண்டும் புவனதலப் பொதுனீக்கியும்

யானை யாயிர மையமிட்டும் அபரிமித அதிசயங்கள் செய்து

–சின்னமனூர் சிறிய செப்பேடு

வசையில் மாக் கயல் புலிசிலை வடவரை நெற்

றியில் வரைந்தும்

தடம் பூதம் பணிகொண்டு தடாகங்கள் பல திருத்தியும்

அரும்பசி நோய் நாடகற்றி அம்பொற்சித் ரமுயரியும்

—-சின்னமனூர் பெரிய செப்பேடு


தவம் மறைந்து ஒழுகும் தன்மை இலாளர்

அவம் மறைந்து ஒழுகும் அலவற் பெண்டிர்

அறைபோகு அமைச்சர், பிறர்மனை நயப்போர்

பொய்க்கரியாளர், புறங்கூற்றாளர், என்

கைக் கொள் பாசத்துக் கைப்படுவோர்

எனக் காதம் நான்கும் கடுங்குரல் எழுப்பிப்

பூதம் புடைத்து உண்ணும் பூத சதுக்கமும்

–சிலப்பதிகாரம் (இந்திர விழா எடுத்த காதை)



Tulabharam: Indian-Sumerian connection

By S Swaminathan

Sibi in Borobudur (Indonesia)

Tulabharam is a Hindu ritual that has been practised from Dwapara Yuga. Tulabharam means a person weighing himself or herself in a balance and pay in equal weight of gold, fruits or grains to God when one’s prayers are fulfilled. Temples in Tirupati, Guruvayur, Dwaraka, Udupi and several other towns practice such offerings. Recently, Guruvayur temple hit the headlines in newspapers when a businessman from Bangalore gave the temple his weight in gold – 70 kg. Tirupati temple hits the headlines now and then when famous politicians and film stars give something to god measure for measure. This is offered to the gods when their prayers are answered.

The earliest reference to a Tulabharam comes from the Mahabharata, about the great emperor Sibi. He was so famous his name is found in ancient Tamil Sangam literature in four places and later in hundreds of places. He was even praised in Buddhist Jataka stories and Borobudur (Indonesia) sculptures. Emperor Sibi was a just king. Lord Indra and Agni wanted to test him and came in the form of an eagle and a dove. When the dove came to Sibi for protection from the chasing eagle, Sibi was ready to offer anything to save the dove. The eagle asked him to give his flesh measure for measure. Sibi cut himself bit by bit but the pans in the balance were never equal. At last when he himself stood on the pan the Gods appeared in front of him and blessed him. The story is found in other Sanskrit works as well.

The Tamil king who refused to take gold

The worst thing we read in Sangam Tamil literature is the execution of a little girl just because she took a mango fruit from the king’s garden. Tamil poets were so angry that not only they refused to sing about him but also ridiculed him in the Cankam poems. The story is as follows: Nannan was a king who ruled part of Kerala called Poozi Nadu. A mango fell from one of the trees in his garden and it was washed away in the water of a canal. Any little girl or boy who sees a fruit will naturally go for it. So did a little girl in his town. The servants reported this ‘theft’. Immediately Nannan ordered to kill the girl for theft. The whole town rose against him. The girl’s father with the support of the VIP’s of the town met the king and begged to release his daughter. He even came forward to give Nannan 81 elephants as a penalty. Nannan did not budge.

Then her father told him that that he WOULD GIVE GOLD MEASURE FOR MEASURE. But evil Nannan executed the girl refusing to accept the gold. One of the great poets of Tamil Cankam (Tamil Academy) Paranar gave this story in Kurunthokai poem 292. Perunthalai Sathanar who sang a poem long after this incident refused to sing about another king Ilam Vichiko (puram 151) just because he was born in Nannan’s clan. Till this day Nannan was ridiculed as a ‘Murderer of a little girl’. This story shows the practice of Tulabharam in ancient Tamil Nadu. Look at the words – MEASURE FOR MEASURE in gold.

Tulabharam in Silappadikaram

Indian kings used to give sixteen kinds of gifts to Brahmins and poets. The Vijayanagara empire period inscriptions mention Tulabharam as one of them. We have a literary reference to such a practice in the famous Tamil epic Silappadikaram. Cheran Chenguttuvan who went to the holy Himalayas to get a stone for the chaste woman Kannaki washed it in the holy river Ganges and consecrated the statue at a place in modern Kerala. At that time he gifted his body weight of gold to a Brahmin called Matalan. The epic says the king weighed 50 Tulams (not Tola which is only 12 grams).

Periapuranam: Amarneethi Nayanar

Peria Puranam gives the life story of 63 Saivite saints called Nayanmars. Amarneethi Nayanar of Pazaiyarai was one of them. He was running an inn at Thirunalloor. One day a bachelor came to the town and asked Amarneethi to take care of his loin cloth until he comes back from bathing in a nearby river. When he came back the loin cloth was not found at the place he left it. After a frantic search Amarneethi started panicking and offered anything in compensation. The bachelor, who was God himself in disguise, asked him to give some cloth equal in weight to what he was keeping as a spare. When Amarneethi put one loin cloth after loin cloth on the pan, it did not rise even a single inch. Getting ready to sacrifice himself he stood on it. Even then, the scale did not move. When all his family members came and stood on the pan of the balance the pans were equal. God blessed all of them after this Tulabharam.

Krishna Tulabharam

Telegu film of Krishna Tulabharam

The most famous Tulabharam story comes from the life of Lord Krishna. Tamil and Telugu films were made using this story long back. Krishna had several wives including Rukmini, Sathyabhama and Jhambavati.

There was a rivalry between the posh, proud, jealous and fashionable Sathyabhama and simple and innocent Rukmini. The heavenly sage Narada wanted to teach Sathyabhama a lesson. When he met her he mooted a plan to attract Krishna towards her. Sathyabhama fell prey to his clever and cunning plan. The plan was to sell Krishna as a slave to Narada and buy him back with gold. Whoever pays more would win Krishna. Sathyabhama was so confident that she would win hands down because Rukmini was not as rich as her. Innocent Rukmini had to accept this when Krishna himself agreed to be sold. When the scene was set, Sathyabhama brought all her gold and diamond jewellery to buy back Krishna. It could not match Krishna’s weight. Seeing Sathyabhama struggling, the mischievous Narada himself suggested that she borrowed some gold from Rukmini. Pure hearted Rukmini knew that nothing was greater than the Tulsi (Holy Basil) leaves and she put some Tulsi leaves onto the pan after removing all of the jewellery. The problem was thus solved. This story also showed the importance of Tulsi in Hindu worship. Tulsi is one of the most powerful medicinal herbs.

Sumerian Tulabharam

Sumerian culture has a lot of similarities with Indian culture. No one can dismiss them as sheer coincidences. (Please read my article DOUBLE HEADED EAGLE: INDIAN SUMERIAN CONNECTION). Clay tablets from the 13th century BC unearthed at Ugarit give some interesting information about a king. His name is given only in consonants KRT (perhaps Kirta or Kurita rather than Keret). The king lost his brothers and seven wives but had no heir. Praying for a son, he was advised in a dream by their chief god El to sacrifice to Baal then march with his army to Udumu to ask for it’s king’s daughter Hurriya as his wife. On the way he VOWED TO GIVE TWICE HER WEIGHT IN SILVER AND THRICE HER WEIGHT IN GOLD TO THE GODDESS ATHIRAT (AHSERATH) of Tyre, if he were successful. When he got her, he did not fulfil his vow to the god Athirat. The god struck him with an illness. This story of Keret was published in the Dictionary of the Ancient Near East. The story continued with what his wife did later etc. We can even see some similarities in the names with Hindu mythological names Kratu (KRT), Surya (Hurriya), Kreeta and many more. But we could clearly see the practice of Tulabharam to gods and goddesses, offering in silver and gold.