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The Maritime Capabilities of the Ancient Tamils

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K. V. Ramakrishna Rao View Drop Down
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  Quote K. V. Ramakrishna Rao Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: The Maritime Capabilities of the Ancient Tamils
    Posted: 12-Jan-2007 at 10:33

The Maritime Capabilities of the Ancient Tamils:

 
To correlate the archaeological evidences of the ancient Tamils with that of the people of IVC, the literary evidences are considered, as the existing archaeological evidences do not go beyond c.2,000 BCE and historic period c.500 BCE. First, the shipbuilding techiques are analyzed.

நளிகடல்இருங் குட்டத்து வளிபுடைத்த கலம்போல (அகநானூறு.26:1-2) = The ship was set to sail in the ocean. It was sailing at a depth with the winds forcing it through the bulging sails. Thus, it speeds through waters piercing.

 

..கூம்பொடு

மீப்பாய் களையாது மிசைப்பரந் தோண்டாது

புகாஅர்ப் புகுந்த பெருங்கலந் தகாஅர்

இடைப்புல பெருவழிச் சொரியும்

கடல்பல் தாரத்த நாடு (புறநானூறு.30:10-15) = The sail fitted to the mast was not stroked (this implies that it was anchored temporarily for doing business and ready to sail off). Balancing loads were not reduced (thus, the ship had been achored at a convenient position, so that the goods and men from the ship could go to the shores in small boats or the local merchants could come there on the board). The Big Ship entered the city of Puhar (and was anchored at a convenient distance). The local merchants came there to sell their goods and by goods coming from different countries by sea. The description fits to a well-maintained Port.

 

சினமிகு தானை வானவன் குடகடல்

பொலந்தரு நாவாய் ஓட்டிய அவ்வழிப்

பிறகலம் செல்கலாது அனையேம் (புறநானூறு.126:13-16) = The Chera King (implying கடல்பிறக் கோட்டிய சொங்குட்டுவன்) with anger made his ships sailed without any hindrance bring gold (to his exchequer). He also regulated that the ships of others did not tread waters in his area. The practice of restricting the vessel movement, specifying territorial waters and collection of money i.e, probably entry tax for the vessels to enter into his area for doing business prove the well-established Port, Port Administration and taxation of the material period. As the two-ship movement has been mentioned, both imports and exports must have taken place from the port.

 

After describing the goods, including mounts of sacks of pepper, dumped at the Port of Musiri for export, the expecting import of gold is described as follows:

 
கலிசும்மைய கரைக்கலக்குறுந்து

கலம்தந்த பொற்பரிசம்

கழித்தோணியான் கரைச்சேர் குந்து

மலைத்தாரமும் கடல்தாரமும் (புறநானூறு.126:13-16) = The ship laden with cargo came to Musiri. (The Indian goods were transferred to the board by small boats by rows). The gold given in turn was brought to the shore in rowing boats. Thus, the goods produced at the mountains (mountainous regions) and seas (coastal areas, particularly in foreign countries) met there.

 

விண்பொர நிவந்த வேயர மாடத்

திரவின் மாட்டிய விலங்குசுடர் ஞெகிழி

உரவுநீ ரழுவத் தோடுகலங் கரை (பெரும்பாணாற்றுப்டை.348-351) = The sky high building had enclosures at the top, where lights were lit during the night. The glowing light was controlled by a stick, so that the beamed light would invite the ships roaming on the waters to the shores. This is a typical description of light house and the adjustment light-beam points to a fact that it was also used as a signaling apparatus for the ships.

 

சுள்ளியம் பேரியாற்று வெண்ணுரை கலங்க

யவனர் தந்த வினைமா ணன்கலம்

பொன்னொடு வந்து கறியொடு பெயரும் (அகநானூறு.30:10-15) = The well-built ship of the Yavanas entered into the waters of the Chulliyam Periyaru (from the sea), where the Port Musir was situated. As such a huge ship turned from the sea and entered into the mouth of the river, the upsurge waters produced foam on the surface due to turbine / whirling effect. The Yavanas bought the different varieties of spices (and other goods) giving equivalent gold.

 

தெண்திரைக்

கடல் ஆழ் கலத்தில் தோன்றி

மாலைமரையும் அவர் மணிநெடும் குன்றம் (குறுந்தொகை.240:5-7) = The ship appeared in the oceanic wavy waters (when it started sailing in the morning). The high mountains disappeared in the evening. Morning, both the ship and the mountain could be seen, but in the evening both disappeared, as the ship sailed away at a distance slowly from bottom to top (in the east), as if it was drowning and the mountain from bottom to top, as the Sun sets in the west. The rotation of the earth, the spherical shape of the earth, the telescopic view depicted by the poet all these details could be understood in this poem for appreciation in the oceanographic angle.

 

சிதைவின்றிச் சென்றுழிச் சிறப்பெய்தி வினைவாய்த்துத்

துறைகலம் வாய்சூழும் துணிகடல் தண்சேர்ப்ப (கலித்தொகை.132:6-7) = the naval fleet returned without any damage or harm after achieving the purpose of journey from the places gone and reached safely. The ships had been anchored at the port (in a row just like the tied elephants in the garrison). So the damage or harm to the ships during seafaring activities is implied here. Thus, it could be due to voluntary expedition against the lands situated away separated by seas or oceans or even during a normal course of voyage, the ships could be damaged or harmed by the pirates. It is significant to note such an implied prevalence of such an exigency during the material.

 

After depicting the turbulent condition of the ocean due to natural phenomenon, a shipwreck is succinctly portrayed by the Sangam poet as follows:

 
கரைகாணப் பௌவத்துக் கலம் சிதைந்து ஆழ்பவன்

திரைதரப் புணைபெற்றுத் தீதின்றி உய்ந்தாங்கு  (கலித்தொகை.132:6-7) = There was no sight of land without any direction amidst of the ocean (after the shipwreck). A survivor was struggling swimming with heavy breadth. At that time, he could catch a wooden plank and breathed with relief. Then he reached the land alive safely. So that the shipwrecks had been also a common feature of the material period proves the large number of ships engaged in sailing both as cargo-ships and passenger-ships.

 

இதையுங் கயிறும் பிணையு முரியச்

சிதையுங் கலத்தைப் பயினாற் றிருத்தும்

திசையறி நீகானும் போன்ம் (பரிபாடல்.10:53-55) = The ropes (tied to the sail, mast, anchor and other parts) had been twisted and entangled. The joints parted away due to heavy shaking. The keel planks and other wooden parts had been completely collapsed and came away from their places. Some parts had been damaged due to direct hitting or collision. This type of ships was brought to Nigan, a trained ship repairing expert. He was not only an expert of ship-repair but also an experienced sailor knowing the directions (routes to different countries). Thus, the recording of ship-repair, maintenance and other activities has been more significant bringing pout the existence of established Shipyards and workshops with facilities.

 

பனைமீன் வழங்கும் வளைமேய் பரப்பின்

வீங்குபிணி நோன்கயி றரீஇ யிதைபுடையூக்

கூம்புமுதன் முருங்கவெற்றிக் காய்ந்துடன்

கடுங்காற் றெடுப்பக் கல்பொரு துரைஇ

நெடுஞ்சுழிப் பட்ட நாவாய்(மதுரைக்காஞ்சி.375-379).

 

The day was with Anusha Nakshatra (the 17th Lunar asterism) exalted. The Chanks roamed over the surface of the waters (perhaps due to the heavy winds). The swelling cyclonic winds were so strong that the ropes tied to the sail were about to snap. Even the mast was at the mercy of the furious winds. The ship was anchored under the circumstances and it was in the midst of encircling waters of huge radii at the port. Thus, the anchored ship with ropes tied to anchors also started to circle around with restricted movement.

 

மாக்கடற் பெருங்கலங் காலின் மாறுபட்

டாக்கிய கயிறரிந் தோடி யங்கணும்

போக்கன பொருவன போன்று.......(சீவகசிந்தாமணி.2231).

 

The direction of a big ship from the great ocean was changed due to heavy winds and thus it was anchored. But, as the rope tied to the anchor was snapped, it started moving without any directions.

 

கடலுட் கலங்கவிழ்த்தேன் (1805) = I made the ship wrecked (comparing an event of death). A ship-wreck is compared with the death of a dearer one.

 

கோடிக் கோடுங் கூம்புயர் நாவாய் (2331) = the ship was navigated according the location of the planets observed and thus, the sail was directed accordingly. In other words, the sail to the mast was regulated with reference to the planets and thus the ship followed the required directions.

 

வடகடற் படுநுகத் துளையுட் டிரைசெய் தென்கட லிட்டதோர் நோன் (2749) = If we drop a rod / stick through hole drilled at the south pole, it cannot be obtained at the north pole. Thus, the knowledge of South pole and North pole and that too drilling hole straight so that we can reach the opposite etc., clearly prove that the existence of geographical knowledge with the ideas of longitude.

 

மாக் கடலுடைகலத் தவருற்ற துறவே (2759) = the agony was compared with the people who got in a shipwreck and the ship was about to drown.

 

Naval fleet is mentioned in 1776, 1801, 2597, etc. and there have been abundant references about asterism, planetary motion etc. Thus, from the above the shipbuilding techniques of the ancient Tamils cannot be doubted.

 

Coming to the archaeological evidences, NIO and Tamil University researching scholars have reported certain stone anchors findings in the coastal areas of South India. However, cautiously, they report about the dating from the literary and archaeological evidences it can be safely presumed that the usage of stone anchors would have prevailed from the 3rd century BCE. Therefore, unless material evidences are produced, the above literary evidences cannot be correlated and substantiated.



Edited by K. V. Ramakrishna Rao - 12-Jan-2007 at 10:41
History is not what was written or is written, but it is actually what had happened in the past.
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Jan-2007 at 04:26

If you try to equate the people of IVC with that of the people of Sangam literature, why the Sangam literature is not popular in current Pakistan, or at least at the area, where Braruhi language is reportedly spoken.

IVC was flourishing up to c.1950 BCE, at that time, for the existence of Tamils, what is the historical evidence existing?

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  Quote K. V. Ramakrishna Rao Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-Jan-2007 at 06:08

The popular view is that the IVC civilization belonged to "Dravidians" and the in vading "Aryans" displaced them, so that they moved down to the South of India.

I have already pointed out in my papers,"Ariyar in the Ancient Tamil Literature" and "'Dravidians" in Ancient Tamil literature" about this issue that in the Sangam literature, there is no reference about the river Sindhu and the mentioned geographical description does not suit the area of IVC.
 
In fact, the racial "Aryans" and "Dravidians" never existed as per the ancient Tamil literature.
 
The Kharavela inscription mentions about a "tramiradesha sangatana" threatening his territories, A Velir King is mentioned as that he was 49th generation from the King who ruled Dwaraka (Tuvarai Konman). Thus, there have been some evidences for the existence of the Tamils before c.500 BCE.
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31-Jan-2007 at 03:35
In your papers, you try to show that the Sangam literature (Pattuppattu and Ettuttogai) do not differentiaste between Aryans and Dravidians. Then, do they belong to a difference race, say for mongoloid, as has been suggested by K. K. Pillai?
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  Quote M. Nachiappan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-Jul-2007 at 06:09
In ancient Tamil literature, there is no differentiation between "Aryans" and "Dravidians" - that means, they never differentiated people living within the boundaries of "Bharat" - Himalayas in the north, Kumari in the south, Eastern ocean in the east and the Western ocean in the west.
 
These boundaries are repeatedly mentioned in the Sangam literature and also in the inscriptions. D. C. Sircar has pointed out such concept is known as "Chakravarthi kshetra".
 
K. K. Pillai propounded such a theory that the "Dravidians" of mongoloid stock could have entered India through north-east!
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  Quote K. V. Ramakrishna Rao Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15-Jul-2007 at 07:17
Since I have posted my paper on "The Maritime Activities of the Ancient Tamils and the Indus Valley Civilization" separately, the discussion on Tamils may be restricted here and on all India basis may be discussed there.
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  Quote ishwa Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Jul-2007 at 08:43
Dear Ramakrishna,
 
Just like Gurjara being originally a geographical designation, the same counts for Arya(desha = Aryavarta) and I believe that it must be applied for DraviDa(desha) too.
DraviDa(desha) BrahmaNas are so called after their original habitation, which was once declared for a certain region. And regions may change, due to conquests etc.
 
Does the Sangam literature point to this same conclusion?
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  Quote K. V. Ramakrishna Rao Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Jul-2007 at 02:03
Sangam literature mentions neither the word or expression"Dravida" or "Brahmin".
 
This is the important and main point.
 
I have been pointing out this only for "Aryan-Dravidian" protagonists.
 
History is not what was written or is written, but it is actually what had happened in the past.
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  Quote M. Nachiappan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Aug-2007 at 09:16
The following is the Tamil inscription found in Egypt:
 
zoom
 
Pottery with Tamil-Brahmini inscriptions, Berenike, Egypt, First Century CE.
 
Potsherd with Brahmi letters from Quseir al-Qadim on the Red Sea coast. Reads "Catan".
 
Would the middle-east and Egyptian friends explain the significance of Tamnil inscriptions occuring during first century itself there?
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  Quote dubai Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-Aug-2007 at 16:58
Hi i know there has been a lot of trade with gulf region and india for thousands of years, it is possible they traded stuff egyptians too.
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