Thursday, April 19, 2018

Early floods at Southern Madurai (தென் மதுரை) coincide with the first sea-level rises at the end of Last Glacial Maximum. (Spoken language of ancient India – Part 7)


Disclaimer: I hereby declare that there is no chauvinistic intention of promoting Tamil, which happens to be my mother tongue, in this series. The intention is to bring to the notice of readers, the presence of Tamil alongside Sanskrit in the Indian Subcontinent for many thousands of years. A deeper analysis might give us leads on why a fused Tamil and Sanskrit presence can be seen from India to Ireland to Ice land and from Polynesia to the Incas. 


Previous articles:-



The key to ancient history of India is in unravelling the flood-legends of Tamil lands that hosted the first two Sangams. Entire habitations were lost to the seas as per the revelations of Nakkeeranār, in his commentary to Iṟaiyanār Agapporuḷ” that was analysed in an assembly, probably the last session of the 3rd Sangam, as the patron of that assembly was the last Pandyan king of the 3rd Sangam, namely Ugra Peruvaɻuthi. Nakkeeranār belonged to the 3rd Sangam - a fact mentioned by Nakkeeranār himself in that commentary (1). This lends credibility to the information he has given on the duration of each Sangam and their location.

The first loss was that of the former capital city “Southern Madurai” that served as a venue for the 1st Sangam assembly. The 1st Sangam started around 9990 BCE and ended around 5550 BCE (refer Part 1). The survivors headed by the Pandyan king managed to set up a new capital city at “Kavātam” (which was also lost to the seas 3500 years ago). This place, “Kavātam” finds a mention in Valmiki Ramayana (refer Part 6). The emergence of this place as the Pandyan capital had happened sometime between the 11th and 13th year of Rama’s exile thereby indicating that the deluge at Southern Madurai had happened within those three years.


Past deluges in the Indian Ocean.

The Indian Ocean habitat was the most viable location for support of mankind even during the Last Glacial Maximum. The sea level was lower by more than 120 meters at that time. The regions of Indonesian archipelago, Mascarene Plateau and Kerguelen plateau were raised land structures. South India had an extended coastline, more on the west, south and southeast connected with Sri Lanka. Most of these regions were in tropics and were warmer enough to support human habitation.

Research shows that sudden rise in the sea level started after deglaciation of the West Antarctic ice sheet that followed the melting of Arctic ice. This has happened between 14,000 to 15,000 years ago and continued until 7000 years ago when the current sea level was reached. The above mentioned habitats at the Indian Ocean had also faced and continue to face sudden and large scale inundations due to the seismically sensitive Sunda and Java Trenches. The first ever research on tsunami imprint – the only one of its kind – done in a sea cave off Banda Aceh showed a surprising discovery of 11 successive tsunami-hits between 7900 and 2900 years ago. (Refer ScienceDaily). This is almost the same period within which the first two Sangam capitals faced submergences (the 3rd and the last Sangam capital was Madurai of the present times).

           
Sea floods reported in Southern Madurai (தென் மதுரை).

From Nakkeeranār’s commentary we deduce that the 1st Sangam assembly started around the year 9990 BCE (approximately 12000 years ago). It means that the habitation had come into being much before that time. Southern Madurai, the capital city that hosted the 1st Sangam had faced repeated sea floods, in the beginning (12,000 BP) in tune with the first floods of that period. They are listed as follows based on the narrative of Tiruvilaiyādal Puranam.

(1) The first ever reference to a kind of surging waters is seen after Meenakshi’s marriage. Seven seas converged in her location, says the description (2). From the description it is deduced that there was no sea near Southern Madurai. Meenakshi’s mother ‘Kanchana Mala’ wanted to have sacred bath in a sea. To fulfil her wish, the Pandyan king, Lord Shiva caused not just one but 7 seas to congregate on the eastern side of Southern Madurai. (3)

The seven seas were identified by 7 different coloured waters that converged near Southern Madurai. The date is around 12,000 years ago and corresponds to a sea level rise from 120 to 60 meters than it is now. The appearance of sea near Southern Madurai with the water appearing in 7 colours could mean that the sea had advanced towards Southern Madurai within a short time by carrying waters from different regions that converged at a location in the Indian Ocean.

The converged waters reaching east of Southern Madurai could refer to the sudden melt-downs in the eastern part of the globe – from regions of China and Indonesian archipelago coming through different path ways and reaching south Indian Ocean. The surges from Pacific Ocean also could not be ruled out.  The earliest reference to eastern sector of the globe needs to be researched as currently the focus is on sea- rises in Atlantic Ocean.

(2) The 2nd reference comes in the time of Ugra Kumara Pandya, the son of Meenakshi. This Pandya is recognised as ‘Kumara’ (4) or Muruga. The sea water surged upto knee-level in one version (5) and stopped at his feet in other versions (6). The limited impact of the sudden surge of the sea waves was attributed to the javelin thrown by Kumara at the sea. In reality this must have been the first sea flood caused by deglaciation in the region of Southern Madurai. It was not deadly but did cause a substantial rise in the sea level.

(3) This event is shortly followed by a sudden appearance of rain clouds, attributed to Indra. Its impact also was minimised by Kumara by means of his Chakrayudha, according to Tiruvilaiyādal puranam (7).

(4) This was followed by another incident of sea-flood making an appearance. This looked deadly and seemed capable of wiping out Southern Madurai. But it receded in no time. This coincided with the appearance of dark clouds which gave rise to the legend that Lord Shiva saved Southern Madurai by sucking the flood waters in the guise of clouds (8). Tiruvilaiyādal Puranam makes a significant statement that this event made the people realise that Shiva was indeed the God (9).  

The by-products of these events are the revelations about how Indra and Varuna, the supposed-to-be Vedic Gods were indigenously present concepts of the Tamil speaking people of those times. The unitary culture indicated by this will be discussed in another context.

(5) In the next four millennia, Southern Madurai did not experience any threat from the sea. It was only around the time of 5550 BCE, a sea-flood struck the city causing it to disappear under water.

Inference from the above are

(1) Southern Madurai had experienced sudden sea-level rises due to deglaciation of the poles, particularly the southern pole about 12,000 years ago. The water level rose up but not to dangerous levels as to inundate the land.

(2) The first ever rainfall season had started around the same time. Initially cloud formations were there but regular rainfall pattern started a little later.

(3) Absence of report of sea floods for the next 4 millennia shows that the initial ones experienced during Kumara’s times 12,000 years ago were caused by deglaciation.

(4) The complete submergence happening 7500 years ago could be due to tsunami caused by reasons such as seismicity or volcanic eruptions. This period coincides with the start of the tsunami season in the Indonesian archipelago that left imprints in Banda Aceh. Southern Madurai must have been lying in the direct line of tsunami waves.

(5) The absence of a deadly threat from the sea until then – for 4 millennia – could not be attributed to the absence of tsunami-causing features – in the absence of any research for that period.  There might have happened tsunamis in that period, but in the directions that could hardly have any impact on Southern Madurai. If Southern Madurai was located on a safe region – say, a kind of tsunami-shadow region or a promontory, it could have escaped a major calamity.

A comparative location is Tiruchendur, the famous abode of Lord Muruga which was not affected by the Tsunami of 2004. This place experienced receding waters but no subsequent rise of waves.



The scientific explanation for this phenomenon at Tiruchendur is that it is located on a promontory. A promontory is a cape-like structure jutting out into the sea. The places on the promontory lying away from the direction of the tsunami waves experience an agitation in the sea coast but no phenomenal rise in the waves. The stretch of the coastal line from Tirunelveli to Pudukkottai covering Tuticorin and Ramanathapuram is studded with a series of promontories. This has helped in minimising the impact of Tsunami 2004 in these regions. The location of Sri Lanka on the path of tsunami waves also served as a barrier.


Promontories pointed out by arrow marks.



By 5550 BCE (the approximate time of end of 1st Sangam) Southern Madurai had sunk into the sea. That was the time (7000 yrs BP) global sea level reached the current level. Tsunami imprints found in Banda Aceh correspond to the period of complete loss of Southern Madurai into the sea.


Kavātam finding mention in Valmiki Ramayana and Agastya moving to Kaveri kunda for his penance – both happening towards the end of Rama’s exile increase the probability of one or more tsunamis being witnessed in the Indian Ocean even before Rama completed his exile and returned home.

A corresponding proof for this comes from the maps of Graham Hancock. Between 10,600 BP and 8,900 BP the shallow region of the Gulf of Mannar has slowly seen a rise in the sea level. This is ascertained from the thinning of the land-connection between India and Sri Lanka. The global sea-level increase could have caused this rise.


Within a millennium that followed, the sea level has greatly increased drowning the naturally formed land bridge between India and Sri Lanka. The beginning of tsunami season in the Indian Ocean could have contributed to this increase in a comparatively short time.

The upper time limit was 7700 BP which was close to the beginning of the tsunami season that impacted Banda Aceh. The first breach had happened then as per this map. In the next 800 years that followed, the sea level has increased submerging the land connection between the two countries. Ramayana had happened sometime within this period.


It is also possible to theorise that Rama’s bridge was built soon after the complete breach of this land connection had happened, presumably caused by a tsunami. This observation is based on the enigma of how Surpanakha, Mareecha and others from Lanka were easily commuting between India and Lanka while Rama found it difficult to cross the sea. Only Ravana had Pushpaka vimana taking him wherever he wanted, but others didn’t seem to have such luxuries. Assuming that the naturally formed land connection was there in parts before Rama reached the shore to cross over to Lanka, it is possible to say that others crossed with less difficulty.


But when Rama came to the sea shore, it was water all around. Rama could have opted to use catamarans instead of labouring to make a bridge. For the amount of trees pulled down and stacked into forming the bridge, the Vanaras could have as well built simple catamarans and crossed the sea with less effort. That they didn’t find it viable could only mean that the sea was rough and at the same time not deep enough. The sea-floor topography must have been rough and shallow and not supportive of travel by boats or catamarans. If only the breach at the land bridge had happened close to the time of their crossing over, Rama could have opted for raising the land bridge.

The description in Valmiki Ramayana supports the idea that a tsunami hit again when Rama was standing at the sea shore angry at the Ocean God for not giving place to cross the ocean. This tsunami was seen to have been caused by a volcanic explosion somewhere in Indonesia or by a magma blow-out in central Indian Ocean.

The relevant verses of Valmiki Ramayana will be discussed in the next article.   

References:

(1) The author Nakkeeranār gives the background of his commentary in his explanation to the first verse of Iṟaiyanār Agapporuḷ as this:

The Pandyan king invites the learned to write commentary for Iṟaiyanār Agapporuḷ. Nakkeeranār wanted the king to identify a learned person to judge the commentaries to choose the best. In his reply the king, Ugra Peruvazhuthi recalls Nakkeeranār’s contribution to the corpus of Sangam literature as one among the 49 poets of the entire the 3rd Sangam period. This shows that Nakkeeranār, who authored the commentary for Iṟaiyanār Agapporuḷ was the Sangam poet who dared to question Lord Shiva appearing to defend his poem given to Dharumi. That poem is found in a Sangam compilation called Kurum thogai.

(2) Tiruvilaiyādal Puranam: Yezhu kadal azhiattha patalam. ஏழு கடல் அழைத்த படலம்.

(3) Tiruvilaiyādal Puranam: Yezhu kadal azhiattha patalam. ஏழு கடல் அழைத்த படலம். Verse 887:

தேவி திரு மொழி கேட்டுத் தென்னவராய் நிலம்
                                                       
புரக்கும்
காவி திகழ் மணி கண்டர் கடல் ஒன்றோ எழு கடலும்
கூவி வர அழைத்தும் என உன்னினார் குணபால் ஓர்
வாவி இடை எழுவேறு வண்ணமொடும் வருவன ஆல்.

(4) குமரவேள் உக்கிரனெனப் பேர் கொண்டதும் Maduraik kalambagam - verse 92

(5) Tiruvilaiyādal Puranam by Paranjothi Munivar  verse 1046:

கடல் சுவற வேல் விட்ட படலம்.

"கணைக் காலின் மட்டது ஆனதே"

(6) Tiruvilaiyādal Puranam  by Tiruvālavāyudaiyār : 21-6,
Silappadhkrama 17-20, Nalavenba, Villiputthur Bharatham.

(7) Tiruvilaiyādal Puranam , Indran mudi mel valai erintha patalam. இந்திரன் முடி மேல் வளை எறிந்த படலம்

(8) Tiruvilaiyādal Puranam  வருணன் விட்ட கடலை வற்றச் செய்த படலம்.

(9) Tiruvilaiyādal Puranam  by Paranjothiyar: Verse 1305

நிவப்புற வெழுந்த நான்கு மேகமு நிமிர்ந்து வாய்விட்
டுவர்ப்புறு கடலை வாரி யுறிஞ்சின வுறிஞ்ச லோடுஞ்
சிவப்பெருங் கடவுள் யார்க்குந் தேவெனத் தெளிந்தோ ரேழு
பவப்பெரும் பௌவம் போலப் பசையற வறந்த தன்றே.



3 comments:

Saranathan TG said...

Dear Madam, As usual, your writings about Ramayana time are very interesting. But a doubt lingers in my mind: why Valmiki did not mention about any unusual sea activities like the disappearance of Kavatapuram? Also, you have mentioned, "Only Ravana had Pushpaka vimana taking him wherever he wanted, but others didn’t seem to have such luxuries". This is also doubtful as Vibheeshana surrenders to Sri Rama by crossing over the ocean, by flying. Also, later in Yudh Kandam, two spies also visit Sri Rama's camp. So, even Surpanaka and others might have had that superhuman skill to fly and reach places, just as they could change their Rakshasa forms! But I am awed by your exemplary research into various fields and bringing us the truth of our great past. I thank you immensely for culling out so many treasures from the past and linking them.

jayasree said...

Dear Saranathan ji,

Valmiki Ramayana just meanders through Rama's time line and has recorded whatever comes through on the way. Kavatam gets mention like this at a time vanaras were preparing to search southern regions. This implies that kavatam had come into existence prior to the search. In the time line of Ramayana a Tsunami did occur and I have written as another article in this series. Please read that.

On commutation from Lanka, Yes, the ideas you have mentioned are there in Valmiki Ramayana and I agree that others also had some aerial mode of transport. But that was limited to vibheeshana and royal spies. The regular frequenters didn't seem to employ that mode as there is no way to know otherwise. Pushpaka vimana was special as it could accommodate many people at a time. There seemed to be no equal to that at that time.

Demons like Surpanaka, mareecha, khara- Dhooshana made hay in dandaka forest and seemed to have frequented that place often. In the absence of their mode of travel and presence of references to their frequent travels I wondered how it was possible for them to cross the ocean. The sea maps could offer an answer for that.

Saranathan TG said...

Thank you, Madam, for the prompt clarifications.