Let me now bring to the notice of the readers Sangam verses on "aadu" signifying Mesha rashi or Mesha maasa. The proofs on Mesha – aadu that I am going to write here pertains to the period of a Pandyan king by name Nedum chezhiyan. Already in Part 9 of this series, I wrote about a Brahmi inscription from Mangulam in Madurai on one Nedum Chezhiyan. That inscription has been dated at 3rd century BC. I will first establish that this king of the Mangulam inscription is the same as the king Nedum Chezhiyan on whom 2 works have been written by Sangam age poets. These works are Madurai-k-Kanchi and Nedu nal Vaadai. There is reference to Aadu or Mesha as the name of the month or rashi in both these works. Therefore it is necessary to establish the period of this king and also that the king Nedum Chezhiyan of the Sangam pomes was the same as the one mentioned in the Mangulam inscriptions.
In Part 9 of this series I wrote about the Mangulam inscriptions and showed that the donor was a Cheran King with the titular name "Aadu KOt pAttu ChEralAdhan" for having brought Varudai, (the Tamil name for Mesha / Ram) from the Vindhyas and housed them in the western ghats of which Munnar has become the place of refuge today for this rare variety of Mesha. This Cheran king was the father of the co-brother of Pandyan King Nedum Chezhiyan, according to the information found in that inscription.
This information can be cross checked in the Sangam text Madurai-k-Kanchi. This PAndyan king, Nedum Chezhiyan was a very powerful and an aggressive person. He had won his first war at a very young age. He had defeated 7 kings later. It was to tame down his war-mongering aggressive nature, that the poet MAngudi MarudhanAr had sung this Kanchi verse (A Kanchi verse is sung to show the impermanence of life, with the aim to divert the focus of the king from mundane desires of expansionism to spiritual thoughts). In the course of this poem, comes an interesting reference to the friendly relationship that this Pandyan King enjoyed with the Cheran King.
In lines 523 to 525, it is said that the cheerful noise / sounds heard in the four streets of Madurai on the occasion of a 7-day festival was similar to the cheerful sounds heard when the Pandyan King went to the Cheran King's court to greet him on his birthday. When this Pandyan king went to the court of Cheran king, the Cheran king received the Pandyan king with an accompaniment of beautiful sounds. (1) This is quoted by the poet as a comparison to the cheerful noises heard in the streets of Madurai at the time of the annual 7-day festival. The Pandyan king's visit to the Cheran court was also an annual affair.
It is an important information that this war mongering Pandyan King was having friendly relationship with the Cheran king! Not only that, he had made it a practice to visit the Cheran King's royal court to greet him on the Cheran king's birthday. In the backdrop of the Pandyan's overwhelming dominance he wielded on others, this can be possible only if he has had familial connections. The familial connection was that the wife of the Pandyan king and the wife of the Cheran prince were sisters! This is also made out in the MAnguLam inscription. That they indeed had a family relationship is established by this Sangam text! The period of this Pandyan king was 3rd century BC is a point to be noted. The Cheran king must have been Aadu kOt pattu Cheraladhan, the father of his co-brother. This king had made donations to GaNi Nandasiri, (a Jain astrologer) who resided in the caves of a hillock in Mangulam, near Madurai.
The 2nd cross reference is from Arittapatti inscriptions of the same period. (Only these two inscriptions – Mangulam and Arittapatti – were the 2 earliest Brahmi inscriptions found in Tamilnadu so far. The style is early and close to Bhattiprolu inscriptions. Brahmi script had entered from Bhattiprolu in Andhra to Tamilnadu). This inscription tells about a "Maa-p-Paravan" – who made the donation to the Jain monks. (2) The Sangam poem reveals that Paravas were indeed a people of this Pandyan king. It says that the Paravas also known as Parathavas were overpowered by this Pandyan King who brought them under his control. (3) Even today the Parathava community continues to live as fishermen community in the south eastern shore of Tamilnadu. In the Sangam age they were engaged in pearl diving which was a rich source of wealth for the Pandyans. This Pandyan King had brought them under his control as per that text. Though they were defeated by him, they were given the freedom to rule their areas as the Pandyans were keen on letting them free and got from them the pearl- wealth in return.
The MAnguLam inscriptions use two adjectives for this Pandyan king – Kadalan and PaNavan. The first reference I have given above on the Pandyan king going to the Cheran court to greet him, identifies the Pandyan king as "kadal nAdan". It means the owner of region of the sea. The word "Kadalan" in the inscription also means the same.
The 2nd adjective used in the inscription is "PaNavan" (written as paNa-an). There is no such word in Tamil and it is interpreted as one who had wealth / PaNam. But going by the Arittapatti inscription and the Sangam text reference to his hold over the Paravas, this word could actually be "Paravan" and not "Panavan" – just a difference of one letter. Brahmi letters 'ra' and 'Na' look close to each other, and there is scope to say that the stone cutter originally meant to carve 'ra' only. (Paravan)
The above details are given to show that the Pandyan King Nedum Chezhiyan on whom the two Sangam poems were composed was the same King who had been mentioned in the inscriptions. Based on the time period of these inscriptions, it is known that he lived in the 3rd Century BC. It was in his time the Jain monks had come to his land and through them were imported the Brahmi scripts which are more close to Bhattiprolu script in style. The Brahmi scripts were not Tamil scripts nor were they the original scripts from which Tamil scripts were derived. They were the scripts used by the migrant Jain monks to write Tamil. The existence of the long and beautiful Madutrai-k-kanchi composed at the same time shows that Tamil script had already existed and was well developed.
With this background information on the Pandyan Nedum Chezhiyan, let me explain the verses on Mesha.
A 7-day festival is described in this text. This very festival was called as "Aadu thuvandra vizhavu" It means
Aadu = goat (mesha) (solar month of Chitthirai)
Thuvandra = joined with
Vizhavu = festival.
This is equivalent to the Chithrai festival that is celebrated nowadays in Madurai. Today, the importance is given to Meenakshi devi, but in the Sangam period the festival was dedicated to Lord Shiva (Sundaresa, the consort of Meenakshi). The festival went on for 7 days and the evening Puja was of foremost importance. It was because of this, the festival was also known as Anthi Vizha or evening festival.
There is an opinion among the present day Tamil scholars that the word "aadu" here refers to "neeraadu" (neer + aadu) or taking bath at the end of the festival. But it does not fit with temple customs where the bathing is done before the worship and not after the worship or at the conclusion of the festival.
An analysis of the verses shows that aadu does not refer to bathing.
கொளக்கொளக் குறையாது தரத்தர மிகாது
கழுநீர் கொண்ட வெழுநா ளந்தி
யாடுதுவன்று விழவி னாடார்த் தன்றே (lines 426 to 428)
கொளக்கொளக் குறையாது = koLak koLak kuRaiyAdhu = by taking out more and more, it won't get diminished.
தரத்தர மிகாது = tharath thara migAdhu = by pouring in / giving more and more, it won't overflow.
கழுநீர் கொண்ட = water that washes (sins)
வெழுநா ளந்தி = ezhu nAL anthi = at the end of 7 days
யாடுதுவன்று விழவி னா = aadu thuvanDra vizhavu = (meaning given by some scholars) = bathing festival
Meaning given by me = Chithrai festival = the festival that comes with Aadu / Mesha.
If we take the meaning as bathing festival, the bathing ceremony at the end of the festival is absurd. There is no mention of a pond or tank or river where the people had taken bath as part of the ritual of the festival. The context was the Shiva temple in Madurai which is popularly known as Meenaskhi temple today. There is famous tank inside the temple complex. If bathing is meant in this poem, the poet could have made a mention of the bathing in this tank. But he didn't. There is famous river Vaigai running in Madurai but which was close to the Vishnu temple (Koodal azhagar). The poet describes this Vishnu temple and the never ending crowds going to that temple. The poet even describes a Brahma temple, which is no longer there in Madurai. But the Aadu thuvandra festival also known as Anthi festival was celebrated in Shiva temple and not in Vishnu or Brahma temples. The Anthi refers to the evening procession of Shiva on all 7 days. On the 7th day evening, water was distributed to all the people who came surging.
The description of water not diminishing by taking out or not increasing by adding points out to a vessel from where water was distributed and more water was added as the level went down. By continuous distribution to devotees, the water level in the vessel did not come down as more and more water was added to the vessel. This did not make the vessel overflow as water was continuously distributed. This water was meant for removing the sins. The verse continues to say that at the end of the 7 day festival of "aadu thuvandra" this water was given to remove the sins. This cannot refer to bathing but offer of holy water as is done today in the Vishnu temples. Perhaps this practice at this Sangam age festival was the precursor to the habit of offering holy water in the temples. The purpose was to get rid of the sins.
This festival at the Sangam age Madurai was an olden festival connected with the story of Pururavas who worshiped Shiva to get rid of the sin of his mother IlA in Umavana. It was celebrated as 7 day Bhaunam festival in Shiva sthals. Lord Shiva went on evening procession on all 7 days. There is reference to this in a later day Tamil work (of 16th century "Chokkar Ula"). But today that was shrunk to one day Car festival of Shiva and Meenakshi in Madurai. This is being told here to point out to the much olden tradition of temple festival and higher probability of the so-called myths of Puraravas et al being true.
There are later day Puranas in Tamil that speak about 27 day Saura festival, 17 day Chandra festival, 15 day Savitri festival, 13 day Kaumara festival, 9 day Devi festival, 7 day Bhaunam festival, 5 day Bhaudhikam festival and 3 day Gana (Ganesha?) festival (4) . The 7 day Bhaunam festival was what is described as "Aadu thuvandra vizhavu" in Madurai Kanchi.
This transformed into Chitthrai festival of the present times in Madurai. Chitthrai here refers to the Solar month of Chitthrai which is in vogue in Tamil lands. Even in the 1st century AD Silappadhikaram there is a line "Chitthrai, Chitthirai thingaL" – meaning "Chithra, Chitthra Moon". This means Chithra paurnami in the month of Chithra - the mention of 2 Chithrais shows that the first chitthirai here refers to the solar month of Chiththirai. This name pertaining to the solar month is still in vogue in Tamil lands. The Nedum Chezhiyan period Chitthirai festival was known as "Aadu Thuvandra Vizhavu " – 'Festival of Aadu' (reference to month's name) for 7 days.
The use of the word Aadu to refer to the solar month of Chitthirai had continued in epigraphy in the post Sangam period. The year starting with Mesha was known as "AattaaNdu" (aadu+ aaNdu (year) = year of the aadu / mesha). There is another word found in inscriptions, "Aattai vattam", meaning aadu + vattam (round) = the round or circle of aadu / mesha. Other words found in inscriptions are "aattai-k-kOL" for annual payment and "AaatteeRRu" for charity / donation given annually.
Proof No :2
In another Sangam text on the same Pandyan King, the word "aadu" comes to denote rashi itself. This comes in the text called "Nedunal vaadai" which describes the pangs of separation that the Pandyan queen was experiencing when the king went on war.
The queen was lying on her bed. On the roof above her bed, there was a painting of the zodiac that starts with the head of 'aadu'. This is explained as follows"
திண் நிலை மருப்பின் ஆடு தலையாக
விண் ஊர்பு திரி தரும் வீங்கி செலல் மண்டிலத்து
ThiN nilai maruppin Aadu thalaiyaaga
viN oorbu thiri tharum vIngki selal maNdilatthu (Nedu nal vaadai – 160 - 161)
ThiN nilai = strong
Maruppin = horn
Aadu = goat
Thalaiyaaga = as the head
viN oorbu = moving in the sky
thiri tharum = changing
vIngki = progressively
selal = going
maNdalaththu = circular / one after the other in a circle.
Meaning:- With the strong horned goat as the head, progressively going one after another in a circle in the sky.
The design of the zodiac painted above the bed of the queen is something strange. It may make people think that the zodiac was used as an art. No it was not so. The poem continues to say that by looking at the star Rohini in the zodiac that starts with Goat as the head, the queen contratsed the closeness of Rohini with Moon with how she was separated from her husband. (The king had gone on a military expedition).
The time period of this poem, as I explained in the beginning belonged to the 3rd century BC. There is no way this idea was borrowed from – of all the people the Yavans – whose name appears in this text in connection with lamps made by them. Yavana lamps with the figure of a female holding the lamp in her hand was used in the Queen's chambers! (5) The description of the Queen's chamber gives another proof of aadu or solar months being in vogue at that time and before that time.
Proof No 3
In Nedunal vaadai, the queen's palace is described elaborately. It is mind boggling to read the minute details of so many things. The poet describes how the queens' palace was built and what kind of workmanship had gone into making every item found there. This text gives details of when the land was measured and how it was measured, how the building was raised, on what day the ceiling beam was raised, how the door and its ornamentations were done, how the furniture with a specific reference to the queen's cot made of ivory was carved and so on. The ceiling beam is known as Uttharam in Tamil. The text says that it was fixed on the day of the star of the same name, Uttaram. (6) It is Uttara phalguni. Uttara phalguni is Urdhwa mukha star. The upward things are done on the day of this star. The ceiling beam perhaps got this name, "uttharam" in Tamil due to this star connection.
It is explained how the land was measured and outlined for the foundation by "noolaRi Pulavar", meaning, the experts who studied the texts (of architecture) that means Vastu! On the measurement of land, it is written that two sticks were fixed before sunset to observe the shadow. The shadow was observed and on the day when the shadow did not fall on either side but on themselves, the experts in texts held the rope straight and measured the directions after worshiping God in the middle of the day. They divided the land into different parts in such a way that the queen's palace was of equal grandeur with the King's palace. (7) This shows that the equinoctial day was found out and on that day the measurement of directions and land was done. (More on Vastu / Mayan related inputs from Tamil literature will be written in the next article)
Writing his commentary on this text, the 9th century writer Nacchinaarkkiniyar has written that this day was the 10th day in the month of Chitthirai at 15 nadika at the day time. (8) He must have got this information on this equinoctial day from olden commentaries – as the practice was to follow the pre-existing commentaries. The reference is to the solar month because only then it is possible to specify a day in the month in a remote past. Moreover Tamils had always used solar months only –something I pointed from Silappadhikaram "Chitthirai, Chitthirai Thingal"
This puts the equinox at 10 degree Aries. That puts the date in 5th century BC. That was when the palace was built with the inner decoration of the zodiac with aadu as its head in the queen's bedroom!
Proof no 4
This poem is found in the Sangam text called "Pura nanuru" – verse 229 written by Koodalur Kizhaar on the death of the Cheran King, Yaanaik kat chEy Maandaranj chEral IrumpoRai. This poem is full of astrological information. This poem also shows how the astrologers of that period kept watching the sky all through the night. The period of composition must have been 2000 years ago, as the king was the contemporary of PernaRkiLLI, the friend of the last Patron Pandyan king of the 3rd sangam.
ஆடு இயல் அழல் குட்டத்து
ஆரிருள் அரை இரவில்
Aadu iyal azhal kuttaththu
AriruL aria iravil (PuRa nanuRu – 229)
Aadu = goat, Mesha rashi, (given in the commentary)
Iyal = in the nature of
Azhal kuttam = star Kritthika ( azhal = fire, kuttam = group / since agni is the lord of Kritthika, it is known as fire-group star or azhal kuttam in Tamil)
AriruL = deep darkness
Aria = half
Iravil – in the night.
Meaning:- Kritthika star in the nature of Mesha / goat, in the mid night with deep darkness,
This verse is significant as Kritthika is split in between two rashis. Though moon was transiting Kritthika, it is still in the first pada of Kritthika located in Mesha rashi. This is being told by the poet as Kritthika in the "nature' of goat.
Recall Part 13 for the Paripadal verse where it is written that Venus reached the location of the bull-natured – in an obvious reference to Rishabha, the bull rashi. Wherever the star is split, the need arises to mention the rashi of the star. Nine among the 27 stars are split in between two different rashis. In the case of those stars, the reference to the rashi has to be made. We can notice this in practice even today in sankalpa mantras – so and so nakshatre, so and so raashau Jaathasya so and so sarmanah. Suppose the nakshtra of the person / yajaman is not a split star, the rashi is not mentioned, because the rashi is understood. And also because the nakshatra – rashi connection exists in full stars.
Though each star is endowed with specific attributes, such attributes are the basis for or in tune with the attitude endowed by the rashi. In the case of stars that get split in between rashis, there is a spilt in the attribute – attitude significance of the star based on the rashi.
One may ask, why then this is not told in the Vedanga Jyothishas.
My reply is that Vedanga Jyothisha is a log book or the rule book for computation of
Nadika (through Nadika instrument – refer Y-VJ 24)
and not for attitudes which are needed for prediction.
The above are still being used to find out the 4 angas of panchanga today, namely nakshatra, thithi, yoga and karana. That karana knowledge was there in Mahabharata times was established in the last article in the words of Karna on Gara karana.
The above factors and the computation of them are given as rule book from which diverse calculations can be made. Where Parvas had to be calculated for a given day in the yuga, Parva rashi was mentioned (R-VJ 4 and Y-VJ 13) . When method of calculation involves known and unknown quantities, the rule of three by using 'jnata rashi" and "Jneya rashi" was explained (R-VJ 24 and Y-VJ 42). Where is the need to express the zodiacal rashi which are to do with Name- Form-Works of a person (Part 15)?
If we analyse the above Tamil verse in this light of this, we will understand why the poet felt the need to mention Mesha for Kritthika of that day. The poem goes on to tell some portents noticed around midnight that foretold death and danger to the king of the land. So some function or works in terms of the way a rashi behaved had to be brought out. Kriithika lorded by Agni and located in Mesha is fiery but is rishabha is toilsome. The portent noticed when Kritthika was in a fiery sign indicated danger.
We can locate similar rationale in the rules told by Varahamihira (who repeated the rules in existence then and told in times before him). For example the rule on Jupiter's position at the end of Aries (which means 1st pada of Kritthika, the fiery star in fiery rashi – In the rest of the padas, Kritthika loses the fiery nature) and Saturn's position at the end of Scorpio indicated famine conditions (Brihad Samhita chapter 47- 28)
This is because these two points at the end of these two rashis indicate fire in Krithika coupled with fiery rashi lorded by fiery Mars drying out the water at the fag end of the watery sign, Scorpio. That end of Scorpio signified by Mercury is earthy and Saturn occupying it is airy. Jupiter in Kritthika signified sky. Thus a combination of Pancha bhuthas signified by the planets and rashis predominantly involved with fire scorching up the water of the earth, indicated famine. The same rationale does not exist for other 2 fiery signs and the signs opposite to them.
The same verse in Brishad Samhita also says that such famine conditions would prevail when Jupiter is in the middle of Rishabha (earthy sign + Rohini lorded by Brahma) and Saturn is in the middle of Leo (fiery sign + Purva phalguni lorded by Bhaga. Bhaga is a Blind sun, meaning, he would scorch anyone and everyone without discrimination. There is a Sangam verse on Bhaga comparing him with Dritharashtra, the blind king). From that position in Bhaga ruled Purva phalguni, Saturn aspects Rohini in the middle of Rishabha. Note that this was similar to the Vyasa's reference at the start of Mahabharata war that I explained in the last article.
The blind and fiery sun rashi + airy and inimical Saturn posited there in Bhaga aspecting Rohini in the toilsome earthy sign Rishabha, transited by ethereal Jupiter in an inimical sign scorches the land with no drop of water found anywhere in the sky (as clouds) or in the land. Thus the relevance of rashi comes into focus when the nature, the resultant attitudes and the outcome have to be assessed. This is phalitha part of Jyothisha which is not what Vedanga Jyothiusha is about. Vedanga Jyothisha is a log book or rule book. The one reading these texts without a grasp of such relevance is fit enough not to read them. I would suggest that such a person could be given a cow and asked to come back to read the Vedanga Jyothisha after the cow multiplies into a thousand!.
(to be continued)
(1) கொடு பறை கோடியர் கடும்பு உடன் வாழ்த்தும்
தண் கடல் நாடன், ஒள் பூ கோதை
பெரு நாள் இருக்கை-
Madurai-k-kanchi – lines 523-5
Meaning:- கண்கள்வளைந்த பறையினையுடைய கூத்தருடைய சுற்றம் சேரவாழ்த்தும் குளிர்ந்த கடல் சேர்ந்த நாட்டையுடையவனாகிய பாண்டியன், ஒள்ளிய பனந்தாரையுடைய சேரனுடைய பெரியநாளோலக்க இருப்பிலே,
(2) "ilanjiy vel mapparavan makan emayavan nalmuzhaukai kotupithavan.
It means, "Emayavan, son of Mapparavan, chief of Ilanji, has caused the carving of this auspicious cave."
(3) செற்ற தெவ்வர் கலங்கத் தலைச்சென்று
அஞ்சு வரத் தட்கும் அணங்குடைத் துப்பின்,
கோழ் ஊஉன் குறைக் கொழு வல்சி
புலவு வில், பொலி கூவை
ஒன்று மொழி, ஒலி இருப்பின்,
தென் பரதவர் போர் ஏறே!
(Madurai-k-kanchi lines 140 to 145)
(4) "சவுரஞ்சாந் திரஞ்சா வித்திரங் கவுமா ரந்தைவீ கந்தழை பவுநம்,
பவுதிகங் கணஞ்சை வம்மென முறையே யிருபத்தேழ் பதினேழு பதினைந்,
துவமையில் பதின்மூன் றொன்பதே ழைந்தா மொரு
மூன்றொன் றியாற்றுநா ளென்னுந்,
தவமுளார் புகழு மாகமஞ் சிறந்த தவுமிய முனிவன்மா ணாக்க"
புரூரவன் திருவிழாச் செய்த படலம், 50.
From "Thiru-p-perum thuraip puraanam" Chapter 50 on 'Pururavas thiruvazha seytha patalam'
(5) யவனர் இயற்றிய வினை மாண் பாவை
கை ஏந்து ஐ அகல் நிறைய நெய் சொரிந்து,
(Nedu nal vaadai – lines 101 and 102)
(6) "நாளொடு பெயரிய கோளமை விழுமரத்து"
(Nedunal vaadai line 82)
(7) "விரிகதிர் பரப்பிய வியல் வாஇ மண்டிலம்,
இருகோல் குறிநிலை வழுக்காது, குடக்கு ஏர்பு,
ஒரு திறம் சாரா அரை நாள் அமயத்து,
நூல் அறி புலவர் நுண்ணிதின்கயிறு இட்டு,
தேஎம் கொண்டு, தெய்வம் நோக்கி,
பெரும் பெயர் மன்னர்க்கு ஒப்ப, மனை வகுத்து.
(Nedunal vaadai lines 73 to 78)
(8) " இரு கோல் குறிநிலை வழுக்காது ஒரு திறம் சாரா அமயத்து அரைநாள் - இரண்டிடத்து நாட்டின்இரண்டு கோலிடத்துஞ். சாயா நிழலால் தாரைபோக ஓடுகின்ற நிலையைக் குறித்துக் கொள்ளுந் தன்மை தப்பாதபடி தான் ஒரு பக்கத்தைச் சாரப்போகாத சித்திரைத் திங்களின் நடுவிற் பத்தினின்ற யாதோர் நாளிற் பதினைந்தாநாழிகையிலே 1அங்கு ரார்ப்பணம் பண்ணி,"