Navaratna Mystery in Sanskrit Literature!

nine

Written by London swaminathan

Research Article No. 1684; Dated 1st March 2015.

Navaratna means nine gems. This word is used in gemmology and in Sanskrit literature. In gemmology it means the nine gems Diamond (Vajra), Ruby (Manikya or Padmaraga), Emerald (Marakatha), Sapphire (Neelam), Topaz (Pushparaka), Pearl (Mukta), Coral (Pravala), Cat’s Eye (Vaidurya) and Gomedaka (garnet). But I am dealing with the Navaratna in Sanskrit literature. The mystery about nine gems or nine jewels in Sanskrit literature is not solved till this day. The reason being

Navaratna-setting-system

Yellow sapphire=Pushparaka; Hessonite=Gomedaka

1.The sloka about nine literary gems is a very late composition.

2.The Sanskrit verse mentioned nine people in the Royal court of Emperor Vikramaditya. The most famous Vikramaditya of Indian history lived in the first century BCE. We have one era known as Vikrama Samvat (56 BCE) in our calendar system. Because of his fame, for at least 1000 years, several other kings also called themselves Vikramaditya! But the nine literary gems lived in different ages. So they would not fit into his court!

3.Of the nine scholars, we did not know about four scholars except their names.

4.Kalidasa was the most famous scholar in the list. He could have lived in the first century BCE, renowned Sanskrit scholars believe so. (Please read my earlier articles on Kalidasa’s age through Sangam Tamil literature).

number_nine

The Sanskrit verse runs like this:

Danvantri Kshapanaka Amarasimha Shanku Vetalabhatta Ghatakarpar Kalidasa

Kyato Varahamihiro nrupate sabhayam ratnani vai Vararucir nava Vikramasya

This verse is found in “Jyotirvidbharana” of the sixteenth century. The nine jewels according to the verse are

Dhanvantri

Kshapanaka

Amarasimha

Sankhu

Vetalabhatta

Ghatakarpara

Kalidasa

Varahamihira

Vararuci

Navratna-ring-2

We knew for sure that Varahamihira of Brhat Samhita lived in the sixth century CE. Amarasimha, the author of 10,000 word dictionary Amarakosa lived around fourth century CE. Kshapanaka was a lexicographer but we don’t have his work. We don’t know anything about Kshapanaka , Ghatakarpara and Sankhu. Vetala Bhatta was the author of Vetala (Ghost) stories. Danvanatri was the author of several medical works.

Several great authors with the name Vararuci lived from fourth century BCE to 13th century CE. Most famous Vararuci was the author of Vartika who explained Panini’s Grammar. So we did not know which Vararuci is mentioned in the ‘navaratna’ verse.

Sankhu is represented by a few odd verses in later anthologies and Ghata karpara by collections of gnomic stanzas.

Everyone knew about the greatest of the Indian poets, Kalidasa, who was the author of at least seven works. Unless we can prove that all these people lived around first century BCE, we can’t place them in the court of Emperor Vikramaditya.

Problem with Indian literature is that there was constant updating. All the Puranas and important Sanskrit works were updated with latest information. Westerners interpreted it as interpolations or stamped it as a work of a later date. It happened with Adi Shankara as well. Several works of later Shankaracharyas were also attributed to Adi Shankara. Because of this Adi Shankara was dated to 732 CE which is wrong (Please read my article Shankar’s age through Tamil literature).

ratnaring

Whether the nine gems/jewels lived at the time of Vikramaditya or not, the great works of Danvantri, Kalidasa, Amarasimha, Vetalabhatta and Vararuci are real literary gems!

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Goddess Kali Outsmarted!

Genius-is-1-inspiration-99-perspirationsuccessis

Post No 731 dated 4th December 2013

By London swaminathan

Inspiration & Perspiration: Bhatti & Vikramaditya

The greatest of the historical Indian kings is Vikramaditya. He lived in the first century before Christ. We have an era in his name. Hundreds of Indian kings who followed him had his title ‘Vikramaditya’. Nine great scholars including Kalidasa, known as Nava Ratna (Nine Gems) lived during his reign. There are lots of stories about Vikramditya, his wise minister Bhatti and royal poet Kalidasa. Stories of Vikram and Vetal are famous throughout India. One of the stories tells us about how they out smarted Goddess Kali!

When Goddess Kali appeared before Vikramaditya, she blessed him to ‘rule the country for one thousand years’! He boasted to his minister Vetala Bhatti about his boon. Wise Bhatti told him that he would make it 2000 years rule. Vikramaditya was surprised to hear it and asked for clarification. Bhatti told him to ‘rule the country’ for six months in a year and spend another six months in the forest. It would double the time of his rule. Vikram was very happy and was ready to follow his advice. But he wanted his minister to stay with him throughout his rule. Bhatti promised that he would also get a boon for 2000 year life span.

(This episode gave birth to the saying in Tamil “Kaadu Aru Matham, Naadu Aru Matham” meaning ‘forest six months, country six months’. This is a phrase even common man uses very often to refer any 50-50 situation! I am pretty sure this phrase exists in other Indian languages as well.)

Bhatti prayed to Goddess and she appeared before him. When he asked for 2000 year life span, Goddess Kali put a condition, just to avoid Bhatti. She asked Bhatti to cut off the head of Vikram and bring it to her. Bhatti went to Vikram and cut off his head while he was asleep. Vikram knew what happened but did not prevent Bhatti cutting his head off. Vikram had so much trust in his minister that whatever he did was for his good.

Seeing the head of Vikram, Kali kept her promise and blessed Bhatti to live for 2000 years. Immediately Bhatti sniggered at her. Kali was surprised and asked the reason for his laughter. Bhatti said to her, “Oh, I thought you are going to cheat me like you cheated my king Vikram. You gave him a boon to live for 1000 years and look here, I have got his head for you. Kali suddenly realised her ‘mistake’ and brought Vikram to life.

vikram

Vikram praised his wise minister Bhatti and both of them ruled for 2000 years. When Vikram was away in the forest for first six months, Bhatti ruled the kingdom. When Bhatti was in the forest, Vikram ruled.
This gave birth to a saying Mantra one quarter, Mathi/brain three quarters ( in Tamil ‘Manthiram oru kaal, Mathi mukkaal)’. We can say that ‘Perspiration one percent and Inspiration 99 percent’, contrary to the popular quotation “Genius is one percent inspiration and 99 % perspiration!

This type of stories existed from the days of epics and Puranas! The famous Satyavan & Savitri story was also based on word play. When Yama gave Savtri the boon of remaining a Deerga Sumangali ( married life with husband for a full life span), Savitri reminded Yama, the God of Death, that her husband must be revived immediately who died a short while ago.

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vikramaditya_acl31

Can Humans communicate with Animals?

Picture of Monk walking with a tiger in Thailand.

 Can Humans communicate with Animals?

Men who spoke to animals: Asvapati, Seraman Perumal Nayanar,Vikramaditya, Sufi saints; Men who tamed animals : Daniel, Pulipani, Appar, Swami Vivekanada, Tamil Siddhas, Ramana Maharishi, St Francis of Assisi, Romulus and Remus  (Founders of Rome).

Modern scientific research has shown that animals do communicate with one another in their own way. Even plants communicate with other plants and warn them of impending dangers. They release certain chemicals to warn others. Animals use various sounds to warn or to express love. But they don’t use human languages. Whales, elephants, rhinos, hippos, giraffes and okapis use infra sound (low frequency sounds) for communication. They can use it for long distance communication. Humans can’t hear those sounds. Even domestic dogs and cats understand what we tell them. They obey our commands. Circus animals also obey commands. But this is definitely different from human communication. They may react to sounds, sometimes, out of fear of punishment (in circuses) or hunger.

Tamil Siddha Pulipani on tiger

Very often we come across some birds like myna and parrots imitating words of human beings. Once again they are not using languages like we use. Sanskrit and Tamil literature speak about the parrots that recite Vedas. Ancient Sanskrit and Tamil literature paint a different picture on animal communication. They say humans spoke to animals or understood their language. We have such stories in the books such as Mahabharata, Vikramaditya and Betal/Vedala, Panchatantra, Periyapuranam and the Bible. Later day Christian saints like St.Francis of Assisi were credited with this knowledge. Tamil Siddhas tamed animals and rode on them.

Ramayana gives a story about Asvapati who knows animal language. Asvapati was the father of Kaikeyi. Asvapati banished his wife to forest because she insisted that Asvapati should reveal what two birds spoke about. Asvapati said to her that he should not reveal what he overheard. He told her that his head would blow into hundreds of pieces if he reveals to her the bird’s talk. This happened while they were strolling the palace gardens. After Asvapati listened to two swans, he laughed loudly. Kaikeyi’s mother (queen) insisted that he should reveal what he heard, but he refused and banished her to forest.

Tamil Saint Kumarakurupara on Lion

Periapuranam

Periapuranam gives the life history of 63 Tamil Saivite saints. One of the 63 poets is Seraman Perumal Nayanar also known as Kazarirrarivar. He also knew animal language like Asvapati.

Periyapuranam verse 3760 says: “He was enabled to reign as king at the same time follow the path of loving worship. He was given the power of understanding the communication of all living creatures”

We must notice one thing here: Scriptures don’t attribute this rare talent to everyone. Only few of the ancient people had this knowledge. Christian saint St Francis of Assisi was an embodiment of love. Even fishes kissed his fingers. King Solomon also understood animal language.

Najmuddin Kubra was a Sufi Muslim saint who founded the Greater Brother order. His pictures show that he was always surrounded by birds. Sufi saints were said to have spoken to birds and animals. Ancient Hindu saints spoke to animals in the natural language. Probably Asvapati, Kazarrarivar and Vikramaditya used thought power to communicate with them. Stories of Vikramaditya have several incidents of listening to birds’ talk.

 

Daniel in the Lion’s Den

Hebrew Bible has a story of Daniel in the Lion’s den. King Darius ordered that Daniel should be thrown in to a lion’s den for disobeying his orders. Daniel prayed to different god violating king’s order. When he was thrown into the lion’s den, they did not attack him. The king came to know about this miracle and ordered that Daniel’s enemies should be thrown in to the den. Hindu scriptures have hundreds of stories similar to Daniel in Lion’s den. Appar alias Tirunavukkarasu was not attacked by the mad elephant set upon him. Swami Vivekananda tamed a bull that was rushing towards him in a narrow street. Kalidasa’s Raghu Vamsam and Kamba Ramayanam say that deer and tiger drank water from the same source. The idea is that if the king ruled according to law, even animals won’t attack one another unnecessarily (out of natural enmity). Ramana Maharishi lived in a cave where there was a tiger. Pulippani Siddhar rode on a tiger.

64 Arts

Another interesting fact is that women should learn 64 arts and one of them is to train parrots to speak. ‘Saarikaa Pralaapanam’ is the 45th art in the list of 64. Knowledge of how to train parrots to speak and answer questions of human beings comes under this topic.

(I have already posted several articles of music taming the animals, Tamil Birdman, Parrots reciting Vedas, Crows communicating for sharing the food, Animal Einsteins etc. Please go through my blogs)

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St Francis de Assisi

GEM STONES IN KALIDASA & TAMIL LITERATURE

 

 

(This is the third part of my thesis to prove that the age of Kalidasa is around 1st century B.C. Please read other two parts as well-S .Swaminathan)

A country’s wealth is reflected in its literature. If the poets always sing about poverty and begging bowl we know that the general public suffered and starved. If the poets sing about gold and gems and enormous wealth and donation it means that the country was wealthy. Kalidasa,the greatest of the Indian secular poets, sings about gold and gems though out his seven books. As a matter of fact he himself was considered one of the Nine Gems (Nava Ratnas) in the court of Vikramaditya who started his own era in 56 BC.

 

Kalidasa’s praise of Himalayan gems is sung by Sangam poets as well. Sangam poets who lived hundred or two hundred years after Kalidasa might have got the information from his works. If this is the only similarity then we can ignore it as coincidence. But I have identified 225 similes between Kalidasa and Tamil Sangam literature which proves that Kalidasa lived around 1st century BC or before the Sangam period.

 

Tamil kings were very rich. Tamil literature refers to thrones and cots made up of ivory and gold. The chariots were decorated with gold. Even the elephants had big gold plated coverings to its face. Roman ships poured gold in to Tamil Nadu (South India) and took spices in exchange. This was corroborated by Roman writers of first few centuries and discovery of thousands of Roman gold coins though out South India.

 

Kalidasa uses 16 names for the Himalayas including Kailash and Kubera saila. He is all praise for the Himalayas. He is so excited whenever he describes the mountains.

“There is in the northern quarter, the deity souled Lord of Mountains, by name Himalaya,who stands, like the measuring rod of the earth, spanning the Eatern and Western oceans”. 1-1:Kumarasambhava

 

“Snow could not be a destroyer of beauty in the case of him who is the source of countless jewels.” 1-3

 

“Who bears on his peaks, a richness of metals, appearing like an untimely twilight, with its colours reflected upon patches of clouds, and the cause of amorous decking of the heavenly nymphs.” 1-4

 

In Kumara I-3 and Ragu. II 29, IV 79 he describes the gems available in the Himalayas.

 

Tamil poets echo it in Puram 218 (Kannakanar) 377 (Ulochanar )Pattina. 190-198 sung by a Brahmin poet Kadiyalur Rudran Kannanar:

“Brought by the cart, gems and gold from the Northern Mountain

Sandal and eagle wood from the hills of Coorg

Pearls from the southern sea, coral from the east

Ganga’s wealth and Kaveri’s produce

Eza’s provisions and Kazhaga’s plenty “(Pattinapalai 193-197)

In addition to these there are hundreds of mention of all types of gem stones and precious metals.

 

Nagaratna/Cobra Jewel

(Please read my article :How did Shakespeare know Cobra Jewel-the Indian Nagaratna, where in I have explained what is Nagaratna)

 

We find the following references about the cobra jewel in Tamil and Sanskrit.

Kakaipatini Nachellaiyar ,a poetess of Sangam period says that the the snakes with cobra jewels are dancing in the holy Himalayas like the women possessed by divine spirits in Pathitru Pathu (6-lines 10 to 1)

Hindus believed that the snakes carried luminescent gem stones on their heads. They used them to find their prey. The general theme is that snakes use the light of Nagaratnam (cobra jewel) and if they lose it, snakes become very upset.

 

Kalidasa in Kumara Sambhavam : 2:38, 5:43, Raghuvamsam 6:49, 10:7, 11:59, 11:68,13:12, 17:63;Rtu Samharam 1:20

Sangam Tamil poets in  Aka Nanuru 72, 92, 138, 192, 372; Pura Nanuru 172, 294, 398; Kurunthokai 239; Natrinai 255; Kurinchipattu Lines 221,239

This is not an exhaustive list. We find such references in innumerable places.

 

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.

 

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

 

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.

 

Ivory

The pearl recovered from elephant ivory is referred by Kalidasa and other poets:Kumar I-6,Ragu 9-65.This is referred to by several Sangam Tamil poets:Murugu 304, Malaipadu 517, Kali 40-4, Puram 170 (V M Damodaran),Pathitru.32 (K Kappiyanar), Natri. 202 (P P Katunko), Kurinji 36 (Kapilar), Akam 282 (Thol Kapilar).

Pearl from bamboo trees is also sung by a Tamil poet in Akam 173 (Mulliyur Puthiyar).

Ivory throne : Ragu 17-21

Akam 369 gem shield ;Kali 40- ivory pestle; Puram 35 –diamond needle