Monday, January 6, 2014

Is Vedic astrology derived from Greek astrology? (Part 25) (On wine and Etruscans - the link between Tamil lands and Greece)

Previous articles can be read here

There is reference to Yavanas in Tamil Sangam texts in the context of wine prepared by Yavanas and served by them. Here again the king in the scene is a Pandyan king by name Nanmaaran. 

யவனர் நன் கலம் தந்த தண் கமழ் தேறல்
பொன் செய் புனை கலத்து ஏந்தி, நாளும்
ஒண் தொடி மகளிர் மடுப்ப, மகிழ் சிறந்து,
(Purananuru 56)

This verse says that the king drank “ThEral” a kind of wine prepared by Yavanas. There are 48 synonyms for liquor in Tamil, (1) each varying from each other in the way of preparation and the contents. The term “ThEral” used in the above verse refers to wine extracted from fruits. It actually means fermented fruit juice. Though this type of wine is mentioned in quite a few places in Sangam literature with a description of their extraction from fruits, the specific reference to Yavana wine in the verse on Pandyan king confirms that the early Tamils (Tirayans) who left for Greece had found new ways of making this ThEral (fruit juice) in the new environs. They had brought it back to the parent society here. Though the original migrant community had perished in course of time, the trade contact between Pandyans and the people in Greece had continued in the later period too. 

The Greek name for the study of making wine bears resemblance to a Tamil word for liquor. The science and study of wines and wine making is known as Oenology. It is pronounced as Enology. The root word is Greek ‘oinos’. How this root word was formed is not known. But Ikku , the  Tamil word for liquor extracted from sugarcane sounds closer to ‘Eno’

Liquor extracted from sugarcane was the common and the oldest variety in the Tamil lands. The Paripaadal verse on Irunthaiyur Vishnu  (Koodal azhagar in Madurai) comes with a description of sugarcane crushing mills and some people found in inebriated condition near the mill. Sugarcane is known as ‘Ikku’ in Tamil – a Tamilised form of Ikshu of Sanskrit for sugarcane. Sugarcane was available in south East Asia where the early Tamil habitats were located. The early Tamil community that migrated to Greece carried this idea of ikku which could have become the root word for oinos and oenology. 

The yavana wine cup is another item of interest. I already drew the attention of readers in an earlier article to the wine cup showing the image of Kali, known as Gorgon in Greek. 

Found in Burgundy, France, this wine cup was dated at 500 BC.

Such cups are called KRATER meaning in Greek: κρατήρ, kratēr, from the verb κεράννυμι, keránnymi, "to mix".

This root word keránnymi sounds like Tamil word “karaitthal (கரைத்தல்) which also means mixing and has the root word ‘karaivu’ (கரைவு). How did this kind of phonetic similarity with Tamil word happen? Why only those words connected with Pandyans are found in pre-historic Greek?  

Coming to the figure of Gorgon in the wine cup, the earliest record of GORGON comes in Homer’s work in 1195 to 1184 BC.  The Gorgon looks like Kali. The Kali figure in this wine cup goes with Tamil Sangam description of drunken dance by certain people who subsisted on corpses and danced where there was death. Kali as the death giver was the goddess of such people. Similar symbolism was given to Gorgon (of this cup). The Greek word for this cup itself bears resemblance to Tamil word with the same meaning.

There is another Tamil word from the same context found in Greek. In the Tamil Sangam age, only women sold liquor. They were known as Pazhaiyar magaLir. (பழையர் மகளிர்).  Anything old is “pazhamai” in Tamil.(Those who cannot pronounce the special Tamil letter “zha” in this word “Pazhamai” would  call it “Palamai”). “MagaLir” mean women. The women selling liquor were therefore called as Pazhaiyar women (because liquor was old stuff – fermented). 

 In Greek language, anything ancient or old was known as “palaios” (παλαιός) or “Palai(o)” (παλαι(ο)) from which the term ‘paleo’ had come. This sounds like Tamil Pazhaiya > Palaya> Palai> Palaios. 

On the topic of wine mixing cup Krater, I want to draw the attention to a cup from Etruria. Dated at 360 BC, this cup carries a painting that reminds us of the Eyittriyas (எயிற்றியர்) of Pandyan lands in the 1st century AD text Silappadhikaram. The image of the krater is shown below.

Side A from a Faliscan red-figure volute-krater.

The two people in this painting are said to be Athena and Poseidon. Athena is seen with a spear in her hand and Poseidon with Trishula, the trident of Shiva in his hand!  The image of Lord Shiva with the trident is shown below.

The Krater is from Faliscan, the people who lived in Etruria. They were outsiders as far as Romans and Greeks were concerned. They belonged to the pre- Roman / Greek period. The Faliscans and Etruscans lived together with mutual understanding. For scholars they may seem to be different people, but with background knowledge of Eyittriyas of Tamil lands, we don’t find difference between them. They seem to have come from the same stock having striking similarities with ancient Tamils. 

In Part 21 of this series, the Eyittriya similarity with Etruria was shown. The Eyittriyas lived in the fringes of the kingdom. They were hunters and made a living by stealing or plundering the cattle wealth of neighbouring countries. Stealing was an accepted practice for them and they were not faulted for that. In such fringe regions these people took up charge of protecting the border and feeding the people by stealing wealth (mostly cattle) of neighbouring regions of other countries. The first similarity with Etruscans is that their settlement is a little away from Tiryns of the Mycenaean regions. It seems they settled down in the border regions of Mycenaeans as a matter of habit. 

The Eyittiyas were fond of liquor and pleasure-life with their women. Their patron deity was Goddess Mahishasura mardhini, a form of Durga. Durga was also the mother of Skanda. The spear held by Skanda that we see in his image, was gifted to him by Durga. The spear in the hand of the female in the wine cup, whom the Greeks called as Athena resembles the idea of Durga. Her spouse is Shiva whose weapon is the Trident. This concept of Shiva’s trident was prevalent in Vedic society for ages that even the peaks of the Himalayas that resemble the trident were called as peaks of Trishul.

The wine cup images perfectly fit with Shiva and his consort Durga which is how the Etruscans or Faliscans had recognised. The trident is very much present in the Etruscan society as we can see it in an Etruscan  sacrophagus. See the image below with trident in hand.

The Etruscans who had migrated to Greece along with Tirayan Pandyans had set up their dwellings in the border regions of the Tirayans / Mukkaani / Mycenaeans as they used to have in their early habitat in the Indian Ocean. The patron deity for Pandyans and his subjects was Lord Shiva and his consort Durga. The Eyittriyas followed the same. For the Eyittriyas, Goddess Durga in particular was important as she was supposed to guard them in their plundering expeditions. Her emblem was Lion. The Eyittiyas used to carry flags with lion emblem during those expeditions. Owls and other birds were watched on those occasions to see omens. The scene on the wine cup has all these features.

The central stem with the image of a human figure with wings resembles Goddess Lajja Gauri who was another version of Vedic Goddess Aditi.  

Shown below is the image of Lajja Gauri.

This concept is present in the Indian and Pacific Ocean region where the early Tamil / Vedic culture was present. Similar looking image of Mother Goddess with similar allusions is seen in the Incas in the Andes as Pachamama

 See her image below.

This name Pachamama sounds Tamil – Pachayamma (பச்சையம்மா) which means Green mother. In the language of Incas Mama in Pachamama means mother. Pachamama means Mother Earth. Pacha in that name is a Tamil word “pachai” corrupted as “Pacha”.

Similar looking image is seen in the Faliscan wine cup. Similar looking image is there in Etruscan also. See below.

Here the Mother Goddess is fighting with lions and overpowering them to protect her children.
The earliest available form is in the Indus sites.

 My article on this can be read here. From the Vedic society this concept had travelled from ancient Tamil lands to Incas on the one side and Etruscans on the other side through the scattered population from the Indian Ocean. This image has travelled as far as Norway later. It is shown below.

The Etruscan wine cup showing Durga with the spear and Shiva with the trident and Lajja Gauri along with attendant snakes, birds like owl and Yoginis make a perfect picture of an Eyittriyan scene before starting their plundering expedition.

The more interesting information comes from Greek scholars themselves quoting Pliny the Elder that the Faliscan priests used to do ‘fire walking’. This is the most common form of worship found in Tamil lands from an undated past. The fire walking is done for the Goddess Durga’s various forms, generically called as “Amman”. Even today fire walking is popular in numerous Amman temples throughout Tamilnadu. This is done in the solar month of Cancer – a month which we will talk later in connection with the calendar of the Pre-Greeks of Tirayans of the 15th century BCE. The Faliscans too had done fire walking in a particular month of the year but scholars are not sure of the month when it was done.
A sample picture of fire walking in Tamilnadu is shown below.

Now let me show similar practice in the Pacific island of Vanuatu near Fiji and Solomon Islands. The people of this place are also known for doing fire walk. They call it as fire dance. This could not have come up without the existence of a previous tradition of fire walk – obviously for religious purposes.  

In Part 22 of this series I showed the connection between people in the Indian and Pacific Ocean that extended to Greece in the past in terms of presence of building technique.  The same illustration holds good here also in the presence of Lajja Gauri variations and fire-walks.
(Similarity in Stone architecture in the illustration below)

Instead of Tiryns, it is Etruscans where this fire walk culture had gone. The fire-walk cultures are shown below. 

The Faliscan people who did the fire walk were known as Hirpi Sorani. It means “The wolves of Soranus”. Originally they were not depicted as wolves but were known as wolves due to their plundering habit resembling that of wolves. In later-day depictions they were shown with wolf faces. Plundering is what the Eyittriyas were known for and they were supposed to do it as a rightful job. The Etruscans also (or a group among them) must have done that and therefore those who did that were known as Plunderers or wolves of Soranus. It was they who did the fire walking too. This fits with the Tamil culture wherein the worshipers of the spear wielding Durga sought blessings from Her for success in their plundering expeditions by difficult and gruesome offerings such as fire walks. 

The name Soranus also rings familiar to Tamil culture. According to scholars, “Shuri” was the name of the God of the fire-walking ‘wolves’ or ‘plunderers’. That name corrupted into Sorani in due course. Read the article here for details of these people and their practices.

Shuri was a common word in Sangam Age in ancient Tamil lands.  Sangam texts refer to Shur deities in hills and tribal regions. In as many as dozen places in the Sangam texts the “Shur” deities have been mentioned. A Shur deity stands for valour. Shur also means fear. A person, who is afraid of something can get rid of that fear by worshiping Shur deities. There were “Shur- ara –magaLir” (சூர் அரமகளிர்)  – a reference to female deities of Shur or valour. In the narrations in Sangam texts there are references to Shur deities in the hamlets where the traveller is advised to make worship.

Mahishasura mardhini – whom the Eyittriyas worshiped, was a Shur deity who was basically worshiped for success in jobs like stealing, plundering and killing. One of the land forms mentioned by the Tamil Sangam age Grammar book (Tholkappaiyam) is Paalai where these Shur deities called as “KoRRavai” was worshiped. The occupation of the people of this land was stealing and murdering. It was an accepted practice for Eyittriyas. The same is found in Etruscans.

These practices and worship were well within Vedic system as the deity was basically Vedic deity but transformed as to suit the local needs. The Etruscan culture is noticed from 15th century BC onwards. They too had taken the Vedic ideas and Gods to Etruria. They carried the concept of Mahishadsura Mardhini, the foremost Shur deity. Its depiction already discussed in Part 21 is reproduced below. 

They also carried Vedic Swastika. Look at the image below from Etruscans showing Swastika and swans. Swans are known as Hamsa and read here and here for its relevance in Vedic culture.  

They used  the “uri” (உரி)  the hanging pot in which curd or butter is stored. The following image of the Etruscans shows the hanging pot which looks typical of the hanging pots in the houses of Tamil people, called as "uri" (உரி) in Tamil.

Even their very name by which they identified themselves is unmistakably from South Asia or Indian Ocean. The Etruscans called themselves as “Rasna”. This is not a Greek word nor there does exist any etymology for this word. But this word exists in India. Rasna is the Sanskrit name for the Guggul tree that produces a kind of resin. Its botanical name is Commiphora wightii and is indigenous to India. The resin produced by this tree is used for making perfumes and incense.

Guggul resin.

This tree is presently found in Gujarat and Rajasthan. It is probable that this tree was found in abundance in the Western Ghats that extended upto Madagascar in olden times when parts of Ghats were above the sea level in the Indian Ocean. In the last deluge that occurred around 15th century BC, that section of the Ghats in the Indian Ocean was subducted into the ocean thereby throwing the inhabitants living on the peaks of the Ghats (islands such as Maldives that are the peaks of this mountain range) to seek newer homes. The picture below shows the extension of the Western Ghats from the Indian mainland into the sea extending upto Madagascar.

The Eyittiryas lived on the side of the Western Ghats in South India. It is highly probable that their previous habitat was in the now sunken ranges in the Indian Ocean. There even exists a genetic study that establishes that Zebu cattle found only in India had migrated to Africa 5000 years ago (2) This could have become possible if the extended Western Ghats was above the sea level for the cattle to have been present throughout the Ghats. When the submergence happened, the cattle on the African side were cut off from the Indian side.

This stretch housed Eyittiyas before the last submergence in 15th century BC. They must have grown Guggul / Rasna tree and even made a living out of it. When these people were disturbed due to the submergence some of them had migrated to Italy, along with Tirayans and established a place for themselves in Etruria. It must be told here that Tamil Sangam text Kaliththogai does speak about this submergence and the migration of Pandyan king along with cattle herders (Ayar) to south India. Likewise another group had left for Greece. The Tirayans being seafarers must have known the sea routes and better habitats in their routes and shifted to Tiryns along with Etruscans or with anyone who clung to their vessels who lost their habitat in sea floods in the Indian Ocean.

The important info on this name Rasna, the resin producing Indian tree is that the Latin word for resin is resina! The Greek word is rhētinē . By the name Rasna (that produces resin) that Etruscans called themselves, it is highly likely that the word resin had its roots in Rasna > adapted into Greek as rhetine > resin in English. 

The Greek -Tamil connections do not end here. There are many other connections that show that these Tamil Tirayans / Etruscans had taken ideas and concepts of Vedic life including Gods and astrology to Greece even before a Greek society was established there. Whatever these people had taken over there were absorbed as Roman and Greek mythologies with modifications. When so many words and ideas from Tamil – Vedic society had been absorbed by the Greeks, it makes little sense to claim that Krios, the Greek word was adapted by Vedic astrology as Mesha rashi. On the other hand there is scope to establish that “Krios” was an adaptation from Tamil word for wild goat, “Kidaa” (கிடா). We will see that in the next post. 



1..Choodamani Nigandu – chapter 6- verses 29 & 30
There are 48 synonyms for liquor in Tamil. 

(1)   அரியல் –ariyal
(2)   பாடலி- paatali
(3)   தேன் – thEn
(4)   மட்டு- mattu
(5)   அரிட்டம் – arittam
(6)   சுண்டை – suNdai
(7)   தொண்டி – thoNdi
(8)   முருகு- murugu
(9)   சாயனம் – saayanam
(10)                       கௌவை – kauvai
(11)                       முண்டகம் – muNdakam
(12)                       சாதி – saadhi
(13)                       சாலி – saali
(14)                       பிரசம் – pirasam
(15)                       மாதவம்- maadhavam
(16)                       மேதை – mEdhai
(17)                       பிழி – pizhi
(18)                       சேறு – sERu
(19)                       தணியல் – thaNiyal
(20)                       மாரி- maari
(21)                       சுரை – surai
(22)                       மது – madhu
(23)                       சுமாலி – sumaali
(24)                       மாலி – maali
(25)                       சுலோகி – sulOgi
(26)                       சொல்விளம்பி- solviLambi
(27)                       நறவு – naRavu
(28)                       ஆசவம் – aasavam
(29)                       தொப்பி – thoppi
(30)                       நனை – nanai
(31)                       இக்கு – ikku
(32)                       ஞாளி – jyaaLi
(33)                       குந்தி – kundhi
(34)                       வெறி- very
(35)                       வெடி- vedi
(36)                       சாறு- saaRu
(37)                       பானம்- paanam
(38)                       விகுணி- viguNi
(39)                       சோபம் – sOpam
(40)                       வேரி – vEri
(41)                       மறவி – maRavi
(42)                       தேம் – them
(43)                       சுவிகை – suvigai
(44)                       தேறல் – thERal
(45)                       மகரந்தம்- magarantham
(46)                       மதிரை – madhirai
(47)                       ஆம்பல்- aambal
(48)                       படு - padu

2. "Recent studies in Indian Archeo- Linguistics and Archeo-Genetics having bearing on Indian Prehistory" by Dr. P.Priyadarshi. Also read


eshan said...

Dear Madam,

The kulam devivam on my motherś side of the family is a goddess called pachayi amma. A small temple is in a village called Kaveripattanam in Krishnagiri districṭ.


Jayasree Saranathan said...

Dear Ms Sheela,

Maragathambal, the name of the Goddess in many temples, when translated means Green Mother or Pchaiyamman. The Goddess in Hosur Chandra Chudeswara temple is Maragathambal. The temple tank is known as "Pacchai kuLam" - Green tank. This Pachai identity with Mother Goddess is common in Tamil lands. The symbolism is Earth and Aditi.