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Su. Dilmun   Harappa Ta. Tillai and the Dance of Siva



 Dear Friends

The issue of the identification of Dilmun/Tilmun/Telmun is crucial in understanding not only the place of origins of the Dravidians, the notion of Paradise but also Early Saivism  and perhaps also early Jainism. It appears to me that Tilmun has TWO meanings, not unrelated to each other and this emerges when we take Tilmun as Tamil as is the case with the whole of Sumerian language.

The First Meaning

Tilmun: The Country of Origins

This word is a compound of two different words - ‘til ‘and ‘mun’ both of which are attested in Tamil to this day. “til” occurs as such in CaGkam classics but in the fused expression ‘vazka til’ where the meaning ‘vaaz’ (to live well) may also be meaning of ‘til’. This word occurs now as ‘tin’ (to eat), ‘tiini’ (food or what is eaten). Thus ‘vaazka til/tin’ can be taken to mean “live healthily (with good intake of food). The ‘mun’ is an adverb of place meaning ‘in front’ and which is also an adverb of time meaning ‘earlier’. Thus ‘til-mun’ collectively can be taken as the ‘earlier place of sustenance or living’. Thus in meaning it may be roughly the same as present day ‘taai naadu’, the mother country, and the place of origins. Now if the Sumerians are taken to have come from the Indus Valley, then it can be, as claimed by Kramer and Winters, that the Sumerians called Harappa as Tilmun in memory of their place of origins.

But I must also mention that it could also be Kumari (called Kumeru or Kuar by the Sumerians) where both from the Classical Tamil and Sumerian literature it is Kumari that is claimed as the place of origins of the Tamils. However just as the Sumerian named the valley of Tigris-Euphrates as Kumeru, they could also have called Harappa as Tilmun in the sense that it is from the Indus that they slowly moved into Sumeria

The Second Meaning

Tilmun as the Saivite Tillai ManRu: The Place where Siva dances with Sakti

The evidences for the metaphysical notion of Tilmun, the Tillai ManRu is provided by the following text  taken from C.J Gadd’s “ A Sumerian Reading Book” (1924). The meaning of Paradise where Siva executes His Dance of Bliss with Sakti is available in these lines. I have given the Tamil renderings as well along with a re-interpretation of meaning where necessary


1. e-ne( They(to whom)) ba-am (is given) e-ne (they (to whom)) ba-am (it is given) me-en-ze-en ( are ye!)

2. kur-dil-mun-(KI) (the land of Dilmun)  ku-ga-am (is pure)

3. ki-ku-ga( a pure place) e-ne (they (to whom) ba-am (it is given)  me-en-ze-en

4. kur-dil-mun-(KI) ku-ga-am (The Land of Dilmun is pure)

5. kur-dilmun-(KI)  (The land of Dilmun) ku-ga-am (is pure)  kur-dilmun (the land of Dilum) sikil-am (is clean)

6. kur-dilmun sikil-am ( The land of Dilmun is clean)  kur-dilmun za(lag)-zalag-ga-am (The land of Dilmun is bright)


1. iinee baa aam; eenee baa aam maan seeyen (Those who are given, yes those who are given are indeed people who are safe)

2. kunRu Tilmun kooga aam ( The country Tilmun is indeed divine)

3. kiiz kooka iinee baa aam maan seeyen ( Those given this divine place are indeed blessed)

4. kunRu Tilmun kooka aam ( The place Tilmun is indeed divine);

5. kunRu Tilmun kooka aam ( The place Tilmun is indeed divine); kunRu Tilmun sukkil aam ( The land of Tilmun is indeed pure)

6. kunRu Tilmun sukkil aam ( The land Tilmun is pure); kunRu Tilmun salaG salaGka aam (The land Tilmun is full of dance music)

Note: Ta. salaGkai : a chain of small bells worn on the feet during dance; Su kur> Ta. KunRu, kuuRu: means both a hill as well a country


7. as-ni-ne (alone)  dilmun (KI)-a  (in Dilmun) u-ne-in-nad (they lay)

8. ki (The place)  *en-ki  (where Enki) dam-an-ni-da  (with his wife) ba-an-da-nad-a-ba (laid himself down)

9. ki-bi (that place)  sikil-am (is clean)  ki-bi  (that place) za(lag)-zalag-ga-am (is bright)

10. ki  (the place) *en-ki  (where  Enki) nin-sikil-la (with Ninsikilla)  ba-an-da-nad-a-ba (laid himself down)


7. aasninee Tilmun-a uunee nadiyin ( Alone in Tilmun they danced)


8. kiiz Enkii tamanitaodu paNNidu nadi abba ( There Enki with His wife executed the Dance (of Bliss) )


9. kiizbi sukkil aam kiizbi salaGsalagkaam ( the place is pure and full of musical sounds)


10. kiiz Enkii Nin sukkilla paNNidu nadam abba ( The place (is so) when Enki with His consort the Pure Woman executes the Dance)


Su a-ba> Ta. avva: there


11. dilmun-(KI) ((In) Dilmun)  uga (the crow)  du(g)-dug (a cry)  nu-mu-ni-bi ( uttered not)

12. dar-e (tha speckled bird)  dug-dar-ri  (the cry of the 'speckled bird' ) nu-muni-ib-bi (uttered not)

13. ur-gu-la (The lion)  sag-gis-nu-ub-ra-ra (slew not)

14. ur-bar-ra-ge ( the leopard?)  sil  (the lamb)  nu-ub-kar-ri (carried not away)

15. ur-ku (the dog)  mas-ga(m)-gam ( the crouching kids)   nu-ub-zu (knew not)

16. dun (the ox?)  se-ku-ku-e (to eat the corn)  nu-ub-zu.....(know not)

17. tu  ( the dove)   sag-nu-mu-un-da-sub-e (did not settle there)


11. Tilmun uuka tuuktuukku naa munibbee ( In Tilmun the monkeys did not make noise)

12. taaree tuukku taarai  naa muniyibbee ( The (kau)taari birds did not utter their loud noise )

13. uur kolla saaGki naa aRu aRuyibbu ( The killing beasts did not cut off heads (of other animals)

14. uur bariakkee sil naa karaiyibbu ( The stripped beast (tiger?) did not carry away the young animals)

15. oori kuuv maan kamkam naa juuyibbu( The wailing foxes did not know deer clustered into herds)

16. tur sii kuukuuyee naa juuyibbe ( The horse did not to graze upon the wheat?)

17. tuu saan naa munyidu kuuvee ( the dove did not call out ( and make noise)

Names of animals:  Su. uga> Ta. uukam: a species of monkeys; dar-e> Ta. taarai: kau-taari? Note Ta. taarai: brilliant strips, taarakai: stars.  Su. Ur-gu-la> Ta. uur kol-a? The killing animal? Also uur-kula: a large beast? Su. Ur-bar-ra-ge: uur parakkee:  uur varikkee: a stripped animal, uur: that which moves, a stripped animal and thus tiger ? Su ur-ku> Ta. uur kuuv: the animals which howls : dog or jackals;  mas ga(m)-gam: animals ( Ta. maa) that hide themselves( Ta. kam-kammu) Su. dun, dur > Ta. tur> turakam: horse; Su tu, tu(g) > Ta. tookai: peacock


18 igi-gig-e ( Eye-disease ) igi-gig-me-en ( ' I am eye- disease')  nu-mu-ni-bi (did not say)

19. sag-gig-gi (headache)  sag-gig-me-en  " I am headache')  nu-(mu-ni-bi) ((did not (say)

20. um-ma-bi (an old woman there)   um-ma-me-en nu ((said)( not " I am an old woman') ab-ba-bi ( an old man there ) ab-ba-me-en nu ( (said)not 'Iam an old man"

21. ki-sikil ( a maiden)  a-nu-tu-a-ni  ( whose water was not poured out?) uru-a  ( in the city) nu-mu-ni-ib-si-gi (was not given in marriage)

22. lu ( no man) id-da bal-e-mi-de  (to change (the course of) the canal)  nu-mu-ni-bi (commanded)

23. ligir-e (no prince)   zag-ga-na (his side)  nu-um-nigin (turned away)

24. lul-e e-lu-lum ( 'The liar lies' )  nu-mu-ni-bi (no man said)

25. zag -uru-ka (beside the city)   i-lu-nu-mu-ni-bi (none uttered lamentation)


18. imai kaikkee  imai kaikku maan naa muniyibbee ( With respect to eye-disease no one said “ I am suffering with eye-disease)

19. san kaikkee ‘saan kaikku maan’ naa muniyibee ( With respect headache, no one said “I am suffering with headache)

20. ummaabi ‘ummaa maan’ naa  ( The old woman did not say “ I am an old woman); appaabi “appaa maan” naa  (The old man did not say “ I am old” )

21, kii sukkil aa  naa tuuvani uuruva naa munyibbu sangki ( The young maidens in the city, those who have not reached puberty , were not given over in marriage

22. uLu iidai valimittee naa munibbee ( The man who would redirect the river did not speak out?)

23. ilikiirree saakainna naa niingkiyin ( The writers did not transgress their assorted duties)

24. uuzalla eeloolam  naa muniyibbe ( The place is filled with falsities, no one said)

25. saak.u uuruakam izu naa munyibee ( In the parts of the city no one uttered lamentation)

Some interesting terms: Su um-ma> Ta. ummaa, ammaa: mother, old lady; Su. ab-ba> Ta. appaa: father; Su. si-gi ( marriage)> Ta. saGki: to unite , join together. Note Ta. saGkam, saGkamam: to unite, to join together. Su a-nu-tu-a: Ta. aan naa tuuva: do not sprinkle waters, perhaps letting go menstruation blood.  Su. zag > Ta. saakai: branch

Su. ligir-ra > Ta. li(bi) kiira: the scratching of letters and writers. Perhaps CaGkam words such as ‘kiiran’ is derived from this with the meaning “writer, inscriber” etc

This concludes the text and we shall now analyse some aspects of it.

Dilmun as Harappa

 Tilmun in having the meaning of ‘the Land of Origins” or the Earlier (mun) Country of Sustenance (til), rules out it being Bahrein in the Arabian Gulf  and agree with Kamer and Winters  that it is very probably Harappa of the Indus Valley, as there was active trade during the Sumerian times and hence NOT a country that has disappeared under the sea.

The description of Dilmun as above may actually be descriptions of the conditions that prevailed in Harappa and which may have given the initial understanding towards the conceptualisation of Tillai, the metaphysical notion of Paradise where Siva dances with Sakti the Dance of Bliss

The following points are to be noted and which may actually be a description of the actual sate of affairs in Tilmun/Harappa


There is a claim the people lived a life FREE of ordinary diseases such headaches and eye aches and so forth. It is also claimed that even people did not suffer from senility, for even at old age they were youthful. These are in agreement with what we know of  Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro from the archaeological excavations. The presence of sophisticated drainage system along with town planning indicates that the people as a whole were aware the immense importance of keeping their city PURE and CLEAN (sukkilla & kooka)


This also indicates that there must have had sophisticated knowledge of medical science such as the Siddha or Ayur Vedic medical system along with a sophisticated understanding of Human Physiology. It is interesting that a young girls were NOT married off before they reached  puberty which is indicated by the term a-tu-a( Ta. aal tuuva) which may be a ritualistic practice of purifying a girl on reaching her puberty. This practice is still available among Tamils. That girls were NOT married off before reaching puberty speaks well for their understanding of human physiology and the species generating processes.


The city was well planned with different areas allotted to different occupations. There was also overall good co-ordination among the different trade groups as it is claimed that there were NO quarrels among them. There was NO  uuzal or falsities and corruption and hence perhaps the people had a good social conscience with strict adherence to Dharma, the ethical principles.

 24. uuzalla eeloolam  naa muniyibbe ( The place is filled with falsities, no one said)

Here  Su. e-lu-lum (> Ta. eloolam) may mean anarchy, social disorder , absence of justice etc.



It is interesting that a trade group ‘ligir’, the writers (libi-kiir: those who scratch writings; ri>li. ireekai: lines, libi: writings) are mentioned. Thus not only was the art of writing a well established occupation but also the case that they did not transgress their allotted occupational rights. Thus it may be possible there was KaraNasrama Dharma, a division of society into different occupational groups which later perhaps degenerated into VarNasrama Dharma (KarNam> VarNam)


It is also claimed that there was NO VIOLENCE at all even among the beasts such as lions and  tigers. Thus it may be possible the AHIMSA was the prevailing dharma and hence the rudiments of latter day Jainism. The TiirtaGkaras may actually be the kings who were also the controllers of the temple tanks that are noted as present in these cities. They may also be people who controlled the pure drinking waters (tiirttam: drinking water)

The Dance of Bliss of Siva Sakti

These and similar notions learned from the actual conditions that prevailed in Tilmun/ Harappa must have given rise to the notion of Tillai ManRu of Saivism where Siva is noted to dance of the Dance of Bliss with His consort Sakti. I give below both the original as well as the re-interpreted versions

7. as-ni-ne (alone)  dilmun (KI)-a  (in Dilmun) u-ne-in-nad (they lay)

8. ki (The place)  *en-ki  (where Enki) dam-an-ni-da  (with his wife) ba-an-da-nad-a-ba (laid himself down)

9. ki-bi (that place)  sikil-am (is clean)  ki-bi  (that place) za(lag)-zalag-ga-am (is bright)

10. ki  (the place) *en-ki  (where  Enki) nin-sikil-la (with Ninsikilla)  ba-an-da-nad-a-ba (laid himself down)


7. aasninee Tilmun-a uunee nadiyin ( Alone in Tilmun they danced)


8. kiiz Enkii tamanitaodu paNyidu nadi abba ( When Enki with His wife executed the Dance (of Bliss) )


9. kiizbi sukkil aam kiilbi salaGsalagkaam ( the lpalce is pure and full of musical sounds)


19 kiiz Enkii Nin sukkilla paNNidu nadam abba ( The place (is so) when Enki with His consort the Pure Woman executes the Dance)

Here Gadd wrongly interprets the crucial phrase “ba-an-da-nad” where as a matter fact it should it Ta. paNNidu nadam, where ‘nadam’ means ‘dance’ and PaNNidu, an  auxiliary verb ‘to do” . The word “ nad, nadi” occurs quite widely in Su. as in ‘ki-e-nedi: Ta. kiiz ee nadi: the place for dancing)

It is stated here that it is only because of the DANCE of Lord of the world EnKi with His consort the Goddess of Purity that Tilmun enjoys all the good aspects of life as described above. There is music of the salaGkaii, the Silamboli, the sounds of the dancing feet wearing ankle bells and which expresses itself as all the above paradise-like conditions on earth. This understanding along with the meaning of the Land of Origins implicit in the meaning of Tilmun, should have given rise to the metaphysical notion of Tillai, now the Land of Origin of the whole universe and where the universe has all the features it has only because Siva dances the Dance Of Bliss with His Consort Uma. The Enki becomes Siva and Ninsikilla, the Woman of Purity becomes Uma, the Sakti

The combined presence of Ahimsa and the Dance metaphor, seem to show that the religion that prevailed here ( whatever or wherever Dilmun was) is Prot Saivism and Jainism which throughout their long history have interacted and influenced each other with Jainism upholding Ahimsa as its central principle. This also shows that perhaps there was the practice of Vegetarianism which has become a pan Indian practice of all people of higher culture but initially promoted by Jainism.




The identification of Dilmun with the Arabian gulf does not fit the archaeological data. the Indus Valley culture given its control of luzuritemakes it the more probable origin of this item of Dilmunite trade. If you read the literature you cited in your posting you will remember that the researchers working  on this theory still can't explain where the so-called Dilmunites of the Arabian Gulf got their trade goods.

    The Indus valley which was occupied by Dravidians fit all the requirements for this land. So, I must still agree with Kramer that Dilmun, was more than likely the Indus Valley.

    Classical literature maintains that an Egyptian ruler left a colony of Nubians in India near the Ganges. This would explain the reference to meluhhites in India. Just because there were Nubians in India dose not mean that the Indus Valley was called Meluhha. The references to a people with this identification comes from Indo-Aryan literature. By the time they had moved into the Indus Valley, the Harappan civilization had disappeared.

You imply that because there were a people identified by the Vedic cultural bearers as "mleccha', the Harappan civilization was probably called Meluhha, instead of Dilmun as suggested by Kramer. This theory on the surface would be a good one but, the archaeological, historical and linguistic evidence fails to confirm this position.

     I have argued elsewhere that the area below Egypt, called Kush (and Punt) was Meluhha, based on the findings and analysis of S.N. Kramer. Wwe are sure that much of Mesopotamian history Meluhha=Kasi (Kush in Africa). In Esarhaddon and Assurbanipal's day Meluhha was recognized as ancient Kush, and the Meluhhaites were called "salmuti" (the blacks). This led
Albright to believe that Meluhha was indeed Kush. (1)

     The Vedic word "mleccha" was used to denote people considered barbarians by the Vedic folk. But we can not say that this made the Harappans Meluhhaites.

     In Vedic literature "mleccha" was used to refer to two different people, at different times in history. It was used to refer to different categories of people in northern India during the first millenium B.C., and another group of people in the mid-first millenium A.D.

     The earliest Vedic literature/vocabulary comes from the <Rg Veda>, which has no mention of the term "mlecchas", although it makes mention of other non-Vedic people living in the North. This is important evidence against the Harappans being Melluhaites because this is the earliest Vedic book that discusses ancient people in Nrothern India.  The earliest
mention of "mleccha" is found in the <Satapatha Brahmana>, a corpus of late Vedic literature.(2)

     An important centre of Harappan civilization was located in Gujarat.(3)

The major Harappan area here was Saurashtra and Kutch before they became arid.

     Saurashtra plays an important role in our identification of the Indus Valley as Dilmun. Just around the time we see settlements expanding in Saurashtra there was increased trade between Mesopotamia and Dilmun. This is significant because part of Saurashtra was called Dilmun.

    In conclusion, the use of the term "mleccha" in India, does not make the Indus Valley civilization Meluhha, in Mesopotamian discourse. thefact that Meluhha=Kasi (Kush) makes it clear that Harappan India was called soemthing else besides Meluhha. Moreover, the identification of the Dilmun toponym in Saurashtra, a centre of Harappan civilization supports the view of Kramer, that Dilmun was the name for the Harappan civilization, not "meluccha".



     1. W.F. Albright, "Magan, Meluhha and the synchronism between Mennes
Naram-Sin", <Journal of Egyptian Archaeology>, 7, pp.80-87.
     2. Romila Thapar, "Miscellanea: The Dravidian hypothesis for the
identification of Meluhha, Dilmun and Makan", <Journal of the Economic
and Social History of the Orient>, 26 (part II), pp.178-190.
     3. C.A.Winters, "Review on Dr. Asko Parpola's, 'The coming of the
Aryans",<International Journal of Dravidian Linguistics>, 18(2), (1989)
     4. Thapar, p.185; F.R. Allchin, "Dilmun and the Gulf of Cambay",
<Antiquity>, 43 (172), (1969) p.315ff.

C.A. Winters

There is some historical evidence which may support my claim for Dilmun
being the Indus Valley.

     Rawlinson was convinced that there was a relationship between the
Sumerians and Africans. As a result he used two African languages: one
Semitic and the other Cushitic to decipher the cuneiform writing.
Rawlinson was sure that the ancient Nubians and Puntites founded
Mesopotamian civilization.(1)

     The Sumerians may have come from the Sahara before it became a
desert. Affinities exist between Nubia ware and pottery from Ennedi and

     These Saharan people were round-headed ancient Mediterranean
type. They were often referred to as Cafsa or Capsians; a group of people
not devoid of negroid characteristics according to J Desanges.(11) Wyatt
MacGaffey, claims that the term "Mediterranean" is an anthropological
euphemism for "Negro".

     The boats of the Saharan people are similar to those found on
ancient engravings of boats in Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley. Many of
the boats found in the eastern desert of Egypt and among the Red Sea
Hills show affinities to Mesopotamian models.

     S.N. Kramer in <The Sumerians>, claimed that Makan was Egypt,
was Nubia-Punt, and the Indus Valley was Dilmun. Today Dilmun is believed
be found near Arabia. But the archaeological evidence suggest that the
Indus Valley which was settled by Dravidian speakers was the source of
the lapis lazuli , which made Dilmun famous .(2)

    Archaeological research has confirmed that cultural interaction
between the contemporary civilizations of the 4th and 3rd millenia B.C.
Extensive trade routes connected the Proto-Dravidians of the Indus
Valley,  with  African people in Egypto-Nubia, and the Elamites and
Sumerians. P. Kohl discovered that vessels from IVBI worshop at Tepe
Yahya, have a uniform shape and design. Vessels sharing this style are
distributed from Soviet Uzbekistan to the Indus Valley, and Sumerian,
Elamite and Egyptian sites. (2) In addition, we find common arrowheads at
Harappan sites, and sites in Iran, Egypt, Minoan Crete and Heladic Greece.

    It appears that the locus for this distribution of cultural
traditions and technology was the Saharan-Nubian zone or Kush. This would
explain why the Sumerians and Elamites often referred to themselves as
"ksh". For example the ancient Sumerians called their dynasty "Kish". The
words "kish", "kesh"  and "kush" were also names for ancient Nubia-Sudan.

     The Elamites also came from Kush. According to the classical writer
Strabo, Susa the centre of the Elamite civilization was founded by
Tithonus, king of Kush.

    B.B. Lal has shown conclusively that the Dravidians came from Nubia
and were related to the C-Group people who founded the Kerma dynasty.(3)
They both used a common black-and-red ware (BRW) which Lal found was
analogous to ceramics used by the megalithic people in India who also
used analogous pottery signs identical to those found in the corpus of
Indus Valley writing. (4)

     Singh believes that this pottery spread from Nubia, through
and Iran southward into India.(5) The earliest examples of this BRW date
to the Amratian period (c4000-3500 B.C.). T

     This same BRW was found at the lowest levels of Harappan sites at
and Rangpur. After 1700 B.C. This ceramic tradition spread southward into
megalithic India.(6)

     Dilmun was an important source of lapis lazuli. If the Indus Valley
civilization was Dilmun as hypothesized by Kramer, it would explain the
control of the Harappans/ or Dilmunites of this important metal.

     The Indus Valley people spoke a Dravidian language.(7) The Harappans
controlled the lazurite region of Badakhshan, and the routes to the tin
and copper fields of central Asia.(8)

     The major city of the Harappans/Dilmunites in the lapis lazuli
region was Shortughai. Francefort believes that many lapis lazuli works
were transported to Iran and Mesopotamia from Shortughai.(9) The BRW at
Shortughai is typically Harappan.

     When we put all of this evidence together we must agree that there
is some historical evidence for a connection between the Sumerian,
Dravidian and Manding people.
     (1)C.B. Rawlinson, "Notes on the early history of Babylon", <Jour.
Royal Asiatic Society > (First Series) 15, p.230.
     (2). Philip L. Kohl, "The balance of trade in the mid-Third
millenium BC", <Current Anthropology>, 19 (1978), pp.463-492.
     (3)B.B. Lal, "From megalithic to the Harappan: Tracing back the
graffiti on pottery", <Ancient India>, 16 (1960).
     (4)B.B. Lal, "The only Asian mission in threatened Nubia", <The
Illustrated London Times>, 20 April 1963.
     (5) H.N. Singh, <History and Archaeology of Black-and-Red Ware>,
Delhi, 1982.
     (6) C.A. Winters, "The Dravido-Harappan Colonization of Central
Asia", <Central Asiatic Journal>, 34 (1-2), pp.120-144.
     (7) C.A. Winters, "The Dravidian language of the Harappan script",
<Archiv Orientalni>, (1990).
     (8) B. Brenjes, "On Proto-Elamite Iran", <Current anthropology>, 24
(2) (1984), pp. 240-.
     (9) Henri-Paul Franceport, "La civilisation de l'Indus aux rives de
l'Oxus", <Archeologie>, (Decembre) p.50.
     (10) Ibid., p.49.
     (11) J. Desnages, "The Proto-Berbers". In <General History of
Africa> vol.2, (Ed.) by G. Mokhtar (Heinemann Educational Books, London)