The name Pandion, the eponymous hero of ancient Greece sounds similar to the Pandyan dynasty of ancient Tamils. There was a statue for this Pandion in Tiryns according to Greek traveller Pausanias. Of all the sites of archaeological antiquity of pre- Greek civilisation, Tiryns is the oldest one dating back to 1500 to 1200 BC. The walls of the hill-fort in Tiryns were made of massive stone blocks supposedly built by Cyclopes who had an “eye on the forehead”. In the previous articles, we saw information on them linking them to the Tamil – Vedic culture of Shiva worship. The thrust of these articles and the current one is that Greek Thought owed its existence to the culture and Thought brought to Greece by the people of this period (1500 BC and later). The people of this period bear similarity to the ancient Tamils who occupied the now-submerged regions of Indian Ocean.
One of the proofs is the massive walls of huge boulders. The techniques and capability of lifting massive boulders to build walls were not exclusive Cyclopean traits but are seen in Australia, Easter Islands and in Peru in South America. It has been found out that New South Wales in Australia is dotted with many pre-historic sites of such walls made of boulders. Take a look at the stone walls in NSW Australia which have come to notice recently.
Compare with this with Cyclopean walls shown below.
From New South Wales to Easter Island, not much difficulty is there for this boulder culture to have travelled. The Easter Island may not have had walls made of boulders, but it does have huge monolithic stone carvings which cannot be moved by ordinary muscle power. Take a look.
The next stop from Easter Island is Peru where exists walls of huge boulders, similar to Cyclopean walls. Take a look at Saksaywaman walls in Peru.
These locations showing massive boulder architecture passes through South Indian Ocean. Take a look at the illustration below.
The Tamil / Pandyan / Tirayan (Tirayan is another name for Pandyans. It means ‘sea-farer’) had their existence for more than 10,000 years in the scattered islands of Indian Ocean. Those habitats were completely submerged in the last sea- flood that occurred around 1500 BC. The Pandyan king and some of his subjects managed to survive and shifted to South Indian mainland, though parts of the south Indian mainland were already under the rule of Pandyan Kings. During that catastrophe many people of the Pandyan regions got dispersed. NSW Australia, Easter Island and Peru sector show this stone culture later to this submergence. The Cyclopean walls of Tiryns also are post dated to this submergence, but show signs of immediate migration of some powerful Tirayan lords of the Pandyan clan.
Another important proof of this migration is the presence of Conch shells – an important item of the Vedic culture and which is important to Pandyans too – in the artwork. Take a look at this Mycenaean stemmed cup dated at 1350 to 1300 BC
Look at the decoration on the shells. This kind of decorated shells (called as Shanku / Conch) is common in Vedic society. These shells have a special place in worship of deities. Until a century ago, people in Vedic culture were using shells to bath the deities with water or milk in their daily worship. The water or milk was kept in stemmed cups like the one above. Take a look at this painting made in the 19th century of Hindu life life "From Mrs. S. C. Belnos's celebrated work "Sundhya," published in London, 1851." (web link here)
Look at the corbelled wall structure behind him. This corbelled structure found in Cyclopean masonry in Tiryns is already found in Mohenjo-Daro 5000 years ago (see here )
Coming to the Mycenaean stemmed cup, the cup with a liquid (water or milk in the Vedic culture) and the conch shell as a vessel to fetch the liquid from that cup for the purpose of bathing the deity is an ancient concept of the Vedic society. These two – stemmed cup and the conch shell – go together. This kind of bathing the deity is known as “Shankabhishekam” – bathing by shell. This concept must have first started in a sea-side habitat of the Vedic society. The abundant availability of these shells is a pre-requisite for this tradition to come in place. How was this combination known to the artisans of Greece of 13th century BC?
Let me show some of the similar looking decorated shells used in temples in Vedic society.
The following is the shell covered with silver that is used to bath Lord Skanda in Thiruchendur temple in Tamilnadu. Look at the sharp tips on both the ends. The Mycenaean shell is decorated in a similar way.
This idea was so ingrained in the Vedci society that babies fed using these shells only. Until a generation ago, the new born babies were fed with this kind of shells in the Hindu society. Even today shell shaped cups called as “Paalaadai” made of metals like silver are used as part of tradition to feed to the new-born babies. This continues in Tamil society even today. Take a look at the “Paalaadai”.
The image appearing in the stemmed cup goes well with the idea of milk cups from which milk is taken in shells to feed the kids. But there is a larger relevance to this cup having shell designs. Before knowing that let us see whether this kind of shells are native to seas near Greece.
The shape of this shell painted in that stemmed cup shows that it is Indian Ocean variety (Turbinella_pyrum). This variety is in use in India. In contrast, the Atlantic Ocean variety (Busycon contrarium) is blunt on top and not like the above looking shell. Take a look at the Atlantic variety.
The Mediterranean Sea is not known to have produced the kind of shells as painted in that cup. The Tamil Pandyans as sea-bound settlers in early Sangam periods, were known for shell-diving. Lord Shiva, their presiding deity was supposed to be adorned with ear ornament made of Shell. Thus these shells were in widespread use among commoners and for religious purposes in South Asia, in the Vedic culture. Only a sea-bound community which uses this kind of decorated shells could have made the above shown cup with shell- painting.
Coming to the shape of the stemmed cup, it is generally thought that these cups are widely in use in Europe and in Greece. But this is the most common cup of the Vedic society used in temples and for religious and Vedic purposes. These stemmed cups come in three different sizes, namely small earthen cups known as “Paalika”, medium shaped cups known as Kalanji-kamba and huge vessels for filling waters or cooked food in temples. The Mycenaean stemmed cup comes in the medium variety.
That this cup (whatever size it may have) is purely Vedic related, cannot be disputed. The small ones, known as Paalika are used in many Vedic functions, both temple festivals and family functions like marriage or upanayanan (getting initiated into Brahmacharya / wearing sacred thread). They are used for "AnkurArppaNam" which means “growing the sprouts” or sowing the seeds. These stemmed cups can be made of any precious metals or simply mud. Sage Atri has given the details of the shape, size and details of this cup and how seeds must be grown in that.
In all Vedic marriages, seeds are grown in 5 Paalikas. A married woman filling the grains in 5 Paalikas in a marriage is shown below. The cups have a stem and are smaller in size.
There are Veda mantras used to install the 4 directional deities like Indra, Yama etc in four cups and Brahma in the middle Cup (Paalika). The grains grown in the Paalikas would be ceremoniously added into running water after marriage. The Paalika cups cannot be destroyed but kept in safe custody to be used in another occasion. In temple festivals this is a grand part of the Vedic rituals.
The second variety of cups are medium shaped and are used for keeping perfumed or medicated items used for temple puja / worship. They are called as Kalanji-kambha in Kerala temples.
They are used to store Kumkum for archana in Tamilnadu temples. They are also used to store aromatic water as an offering to deities which was also distributed to the devotees. This stemmed cup was there in every house as a Puja vessel. (for worship). Take a look at this 1851 painting showing Hindu way of worship.
Take a look at this stemmed cup used for Goddess Ranganayaki in Srirangam temple, Tamilnadu.
The following photo shows a collection of temple vessels from Central India. The medium shaped stemmed cup can be seen.
This cup is a very common one in most of the South Indian temples. The following pic shows the deities of the famous Thiruvannamalai temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Look at the stemmed cups in front of the deity.
The name of these cups sounds similar to Greek names for these stemmed cups. The Greek name for these cups is Kylix. Kylix were popular in the Mycenaean period of 1400 to 1200 BCE. It is believed that these cups were used for drinking wine, an intoxicating item.
The Malayalam word for these types of cups “Kalanjkambha” is derived from Tamil word “KaLanji + Kambam”.
KaLanjam means “Intoxicants” and “KaLanjiyam” means “place for things” (mostly edible ones). Kambam means “pillar”.
It is used to refer to the stem of the cup. Perfumed things used for Puja and things such as Tulsi (holy leaves) and holy powders such as Kumkum, sandal, turmeric, cardamom powder etc are kept in these cups. Aromatic water (eg- mixed with cardamom power) was kept in this cup and used while offering food to the deity. This water was also distributed to the devotees.
This idea of the Vedic society had gone to Tiryns / Mycenae as early as 13th century BC. The use of this cup in successive periods in Europe had centred on drinking intoxicants. But its religious purpose was remembered as seen from its use as Chalice .
One can see a similar looking stemmed cups to offer perfumed smoke or incense to God in Karnak sun temple of Egypt.
The similar KaLanji cup is used obviously for showing the perfumed / incense smoke to God in Vedic society. This is common sight in South Indian temples too. The usage is in Vedic ritual. The name has been there in Tamil that has a deep antiquity. The Greek name resembling the Tamil name and the usage of these cups in Tiryns period gives another proof of our contention that people had migrated to Greece from Tamil regions in the Indian Ocean.
The 3rd type of stemmed cup is large and is very much in use in all olden temples in Tamilnadu. Even today one can see it in old temples kept near the deity. The main purpose was to store water. Look at the huge stemmed vessel made of silver belonging to the famous Srirangam temple in the picture below. The conch shaped vessel also is shown with an arrow mark..
During the bathing ceremony of the deity, water would be filled in the huge stemmed vessel. The Conch shaped vessel would be immersed in that water to fill it and then poured on the deity through the nozzle. This tradition is antiquated and cannot be said that Greek vessels were replicated in Indian temples. May be our opponents would have said so had they known the similarity. Everything or every practice in the Vedic culture comes with a rationale. Bathing the deity with shanku or conch – known as Shankabhisheka- is a special ritual. The water is collected from holy rivers and tanks for bathing the deity. The huge stemmed vessels are used for storing that water. The stem or Kambam (in Tamil) helps in keeping the vessel elevated so that the priest could easily take the water with the conch vessel and pour it on the deity in quick succession. In olden days they did not use any bench or table inside the sanctum sanctorum to keep the vessels elevated. (Today they do so). The stemmed cup helps in storing water or ritual items within hand’s reach.
The Mycenaean cup with conch design, looking similar to these vessels and their use with conches in temples, shows the connection to the Vedic society and Tamils in particular - in having its name Kylix, closer to Tamil word KaLanjam! The use of Kylix degenerated in course of time to serve wine and liquor.
KaLanjiyam refers to edible things. The same vessels are in use in temples for storing food items also. The following photograph shows temple cook carrying this vessel. He and others are seen going around the temple with cooked food in their vessels to be offered to all the deities installed in the temple. This is from the famous Srivilliputthur temple in Tamilnadu.
Thus we can see specific uses for the stemmed cups in Vedic culture. The usage had been remembered with the associated shells by the Pre-Greek society but got degenerated in course of time into the idea of serving intoxicating beverages in the Greek society. Later it had a rebirth in Christian faith. Which came first, Vedic or Mycenaean? Who got it from whom?
An item of temple use and Vedic use from small Palikas to huge stemmed vessels, the logical deduction is that many Vedic rituals, Vedic ideas and Vedic deities had gone to Greece along with migrant Tirayans.
As if to show this is true, there stands a testimony in Tiryns in the form of a great hall called in Greek as Megaron. We will analyse that in the next post.