Varudai (Nilgiri Tahr) is another word for the goat. It was already explained in Part 9 of this series, on how a Cheran king got this variety of goat from the Vindhyas and housed them in the western ghats. This act got him a titular name as the 'one who procured the goat' (Aadu kOt pAttu ChEralAdhan). Similar reference to him as Jatila (a fine variety of goat) appears in MAnguLam Brahmi inscriptions which are dated at 3rd century BC thereby putting the date of bringing these goats from Vindhyas to 3rd century BC.
This name "Varudai" is found in nearly a dozen places in Sangam texts. Majority of these contexts make a mention of this animal as being sighted in the heights of cliffs or sleeping under the trees. But at one place the description of this animal sounds strange. In a Sangam text named "Malai padu kadaam" describing the scenes found in the mountains (of Kerala / then Chera naadu) there comes a mention of "Thagar" which is a synonym for Mesha / goat. This verse gives a description of what a Thagar is. It says it is a type of Varudai. Here further description is given for Varudai as one having legs on the back also. (lines 502-3). The old commentators (unnamed and unknown) have written here that Varudai is "eN kAl varudai" –meaning the 8 legged Varudai / Mesha. The poem says that a variety of this Varudai having strong head is called as Thagar and this Thagar was sighted in the mountains. The verse is as follows:
502 - 3. மீமிசை கொண்ட கவர் பரி கொடு தாள் வரை வாழ்வருடைவல் தலை மாதகர் –
மீமிசை கொண்ட –meemisai koNda = having in the back
கவர் – kavar = in different sides or branched out
பரி – pari = horse
கொடு தாள் – kodu thaaL = bent or curved legs
வரை வாழ் – varai vaazh = living in mountain peaks
வருடை – varudai
வல் தலை - val thalai = strong headed
மாதகர் – maathagar = big / strong thagar.
Meaning: The strong headed big Thagar living in the mountain peaks is of Varudai that has curved legs of the horse on different sides on the back.
From this it is deduced that there existed an earlier concept of Varudai or Mesha that had 8 legs - with additional four legs appearing on the back of the Mesha. The use of word Pari in this verse in connection with the back, refers to horse like legs on its back. This shows that the Varudai was goat- like but had horse -like legs on its back. Such an animal can not exist and did not exist in Nature. Such an animal is only conceptual or symbolic of both goat and horse. This concept can only appear in Vedic idea of Mesha where the Mesha rashi is a goat and its starting point is a horse.
In Tamil lexicon, Pari also refers to Aswini star. This Pari could refer to
(2) the horse that Surya mounted to go after / in search of Sanjana (symbolic of the shifting of solar heat / position from south to north in the period of reference - this is the ayana chalanam that texts have meant) or
(3) the horse of the Aswinis that won the race by which Aswini became eligible to marry Surya's daughter. As per Rig Veda sukta 117, rik 17, Surya once decided to marry his daughter to one of the devas. He conducted a horse race and decreed that the winning horse's owner would get his daughter. The Aswinis' horse won the race and they were married to Surya's daughter.
On the celestial path, the horse starts moving from Aswini. Below that in the zodiac, the corresponding entity is the goat from which the zodiac begins (we will see such verses in Tamil Sangam texts in the subsequent articles). Thus the entity for this section of the zodiac is an animal that is a mix of both horse and goat. This mixed animal was depicted as Varudai / mesha having 8 legs, four below (of goat) and 4 (of horse) on the back. A merger of goat and Aswini horse from which the Sun starts its annual sojourn has been given a shape as an 8 legged animal that roams in the high points of the earth (peaks of mountains). This depiction also fits with the 8 directions of the zodiac (the common signs assigned with the 4 ordinal directions.)
This was the original and old concept of Mesha which we come to know from the above verse in Tamil Sangam text. This conceptualization must have existed in some Sanskrit texts too, because the Tamil conceptualization has never been different from Vedic ideas in general. I request the scholars in this group to look for a similar conceptualization of Mesha in Sanskrit texts or in Vedas.
The existence of this concept (goat + horse for Mesha / Varudai) makes it purely a native concept based on Vedic views of Sun's sojourn. This concept could not have emerged in Greek or any other place outside the Vedic culture.
In contrast, the Greek Krios was not an animal in the first place but a mythical God. When it was introduced as a Ram, there was no conceptualization to support it.
Moreover there is a definitive verse from Paripadal (a sangam text) on 'Varudai' as a rashi and planetary position in different rashis at a time when equinox was in Kritthika. Let us see that verse in the next mail.
(to be continued)
Previous posts in this series can be read here: