Sanskrit words in Sumerian culture :Sumukan Mystery

Borobudur in Indonesia in Mount Meru Design

Written by London Swaminathan
Post No. 1038; Dated 12th May 2014.

This article is a sequence to my article posted yesterday under the title “ A Hindu Story in Sumerian Civilization. This explains two Sanskrit words found in Sumeria: Sumeru and Sumukhan.

Sumeru : new information

The etymology of the word Sumeru is not known. But I guess it is a Sanskrit word: Su+ Meru. Vayu Purana says, “The earth had been stripped of vegetation. Brahma made an arrangement to refertilize the earth. He created Sumeru the calf and re-invigorated all types of seeds from the ground, yielding all types of vegetation, and they bore fruit. In the beginning of the Treta Yuga all the 14 types of cultivated cereals and pulses were created for the first time (Vayu Purana 141-149).

Meru is a mythical mountain in Hindu literature with various interpretations. Some identify it with the North Pole (Su Meru) and the South Pole (Ku Meru). Apart from the two, we have Pamir plateau (Pa+ Meru). We have another Meru peak in Kenya. It shows that any high place was also called Meru (In Tamil : Medu). So we should not confuse it with the original Meru. It is a word of Hindu (Sanskrit) origin. That is all I wanted to say. Sumerians say that they migrated to that area. They might have come from India. Sumukan and other unexplained Sanskrit words show their connection to India.

Angkor Wat in Cambodia in Mount Meru Design

Who is Sumukan?
In Sanskrit hymns we have Sumuka as one of the names of Vishnu (SeeVishnu Sahasra Nama) and one of the names of Lord Ganesh. Of the 16 names of Lord Ganesh, Sumukha is the first name. It simply means good faced, Auspicious faced etc. It is also the name of Garuda (eagle).

SUMUKHA In the Mahabarata :

The following story from Mahabharata explains clearly a clash between two groups called Nagas ( snake people) and Eagle people.

“Sumukha was a Naga. He was chosen by Matali to be the husband of his daughter Gunakeshi. His grandfather Aryaka was very pleased when informed about it by Narada .But the eagle who had previously devoured Sumukha’s father Chikura, had vowed to soon devour Sumukha also. In spite of being told of the expected short life span of Sumukha, Matali nevertheless wanted to go ahead with the marriage. He then went to Indra and requested him to give long life to Sumukha. When Indra granted this, the eagle accused Indra of giving shelter to his rightful prey and then tried to scare Indra by showing off his strength. To put the eagle in his place, Indra put his arm on the eagle’s shoulder and then asked him to lift it. The eagle found himself crushed by the weight of Indra’s arm and acknowledged his defeat. (MB:5-103/4)

This episode of early times was related to Duryodhana by Kanva Rishi in an effort to convince him that like the eagle he too would be crushed if he went ahead in his determination to fight against the Pandavas. But even these efforts made no impact on Duryodhana”.
(p.281 of who is who in the Mahabharata).

carchemish birdment 9C BCE
Birdmen in Carchemish, Ninth century BCE

Kumaratantram, Chapter 5, Verse 13, an Agama says that is the name of a Dwarapalaka( Gatekeeper in the sanctum sanctorum):

Left: Sutehar
Right: Sumukhan

To sum it up, we have the name Sumukha for a Naga, an eagle (Garuda), and two gods (Lord Ganesh and Lord Vishnu). It is now clear that it is a Sanskrit word.

In Sumerian
In the Sumerian literature, we come across a name Sumukan. He has accompanied Etana, the first king of Kish in Sumer. But no one knows more than that. Etana story is connected with Eagle and Snake conflict (Please read my post “A Hindu Story in Sumerian civilization”, Post No. 1036, posted on 11th May).

Encyclopedia of Mythology also has very brief descriptions:
Sumukan: Anointed priest of the Great Gods
Sumugan: God of the river plains. Mesopotamian/Sumerian. In creation mythology he is given charge by the god Enki over the flat alluvial lands of southern Mesopotamia.


Sumerian King Naram Sin looking at cosmic mountain (Meru)

Atharva Veda names in Sumerian

Following excerpt is from my earlier post, “Serpent Queen: Indus Valley to Sabarimalai”, posted on 17 June 2012 in this blog:-

Rig Veda, the oldest religious book in the world, refers to a Sarpa Ranji (serpent queen). Atharva Veda also mentioned two snakes called Aligi and Viligi. Modern research by scholars showed that these were actually the names of two Assyrian Kings who lived in 3000 BC. If it is correct the Atharva Veda predates Indus Valley civilization. The fact that the Vedic civilization is older than the Indus valley is confirmed by the BARC (Bhaba Atomic Research Centre) research on Saraswati River that had frequent references in the Vedas. Saraswati River dried even before Indus culture reached its peak. May be the Indus culture was the continuation of Vedic culture. Now we have two proofs, one from the Assyrian sources and the other from the Vedas to prove its antiquity.