1. The Woman , the Sakthi
Priestess and Women Mystics and Philosophers
One of the Sumerian texts that I have been studying with immense interest is that of EnHudu Anna, the eldest daughter of Sargon the Great ( 2200 B.C.) and also the head of a Temple, transliterated and translated by Hallo and Van Dijk , that they baptized as The Exaltation of Inanna but which I have called "Sirbiyam" a word taken from Sulgi's Hymn B. Certainly this Sirbiyam is philosophically the most magnificent text to come down in good shape from the Third Millennium showing that it was very widely known and appreciated as so many copies of it were found in many ancient collections and libraries.
The worship of Mother Goddess is very ancient not only among the Dravidians but also many people in the world and continues to this day despite many attempts by some of later religions to wipe it out and along with that the place of leadership of women in religious culture. However in Dravidian culture , in the Fourth millennium itself we find in Sumeria women contributing significantly to temple building showing that they had independent financial means as well as political rights to participate in social activities of the community. Their names include the suffix 'ama' ( Ta. amma: woman) . One of the words coming down from this earlier period and as part of the proper name is ' anna" as in the name of Enhudu Anna that literally means the Divine ( eeN> veeN= veeL) star ( Ta. udu: star) of the heavens ( anna ; Ta. vaanam). However it may be possible that the Su. anna as it occurs in proper names is the archaic form of Ta. aNNaa ( or Ta. annai: mother) a name still retained but more among the Tamil Brahmins of Tamilnadu where to this day the ladies refer to their husband as 'aNNaa" meaning someone lofty and great i.e. Ta. aNNal. Interestingly enough this suffix 'ana/anna' is also mentioned in BrihadaaaNyaka Upanishad when in the sixth brahmaNa, the line of teachers and pupils are listed. We have names such as Gaupavana, PaaraasaaryaayaNa, AsurayaNa , Baijavaapaayana and so forth. Even the name Sayanna/Sayana, the famous commentator on the Vedas, contains this suffix. I also understand that it is still retained in proper names of people in Karnadaka to this day. We can also find many names like this in the Sumerian documents. It all just go to prove that there were some connections between authors of the Upanishads and the Sumerians ( perhaps also the brahmans of the South)
What is however relevant to the present study is that in the line of teachers some names that are feminine are also included: Kausikaayani, TraivaNi , Aupajandhani and so forth where the suffix -ani, -aNi still remains indicator of the feminine gender in Tamil ( perhaps also all over India). Thus it appears that this Sumerian tradition of Women Mystics or Philosophers was alive and active in the Indian soil even during the Upanisadic period ( ~ 8th- 6th cent. B.C.) and which may account for the presence of women mystics in TamilNadu such as Kaaraikkaal Peyar Sri Andal and so forth and Mira Bai in Maratta.
The Sakti as Light
The exordium begins with these arresting lines the substance of which is still retained as part of Saiva metaphysical thinking.
1. nin-me-sar-ra ( Lady of al the me's) u-dalle-ea (resplendent light)
*Ta. N*in mey carva uL theLLiya ( " )
2. mi-zi (righteous woman) me-lam gu-ru Clothed in radiance) ki-aga-an-uras-a ( beloved of Heaven and Earth)
*Ta. mai cii meeLam kuuRu kaangkai vaan uurattiya ( " )
3. nu-gig-an-na ( Hierodule of An) suh-kesda-gal-gal-la ( (you) of all the great ornaments)
* Ta. nangkai ANNa cikai kaddu kaLkaLa ( The beloved of An with magnificent head gear)
The "nin" here which also means 'sister" is to be derived from Ta. nim, niv(ar) nil etc. and simply means something tall and high and hence lofty. The Su. me corresponds to both Ta. mey ( truth) as well as Ta. mey, moy meaning power or strength as in mey-kirrti and so forth. The sar-ra is better retained in Sk as sarva ( but note the adjectival formant, -a) and perhaps linked with Ta. aayiram.
But what is unmistakable is u dalla-e-a which is certainly Ta. uL teLLiya, radiant Light . Thus we have in the first line itself the Woman who is the Holder of all powers ( mey, moy) also discloses Herself as Pure Light , a notion that is still retained to this day where the WOMAN is described as paraaparai : Transcendent Light.
The description "clothed in radiance" ( me-lam gu-ru: meeLam kuuRu) is also significant for it has been noted by mystics all over the world ( including Prophet Mohamed Nabi (sal) ) that BEING hides Himself in the form of Light, that it is HIGHEST possible witnessing of BEING. However while they may NOT describe it as WOMAN the the Saivites do as they do not any contempt for the Feminine. They see that BEING Himself the Female ( peN taan aana Pemmaan :Samabantar)
This WOMAN is not only described as mai-cii ( mi-zi) , the most beautiful ( zi= cii) woman ( mi, Ta. mai) but also THE woman ( nu-gig , Ta, nangkai) of An, the Ta. aaN from which we have the current word aaNdavan but still retained as aaN in Cangkam classics as PatiRRup Pattu. In the term aNNamalai, the Hill of aNNa we may have another retention of this ancient term.
The ki-aga i.e. kaangkai meaning "hot" exists now as kaamam, sexual desires or simply an alluring quality ( Ta. kaamar: beautiful). The "an-ur" is what is renderednow as maNNum viNNum, the earth and the sky. The grammatical "-as-a" is better retained in SK as 'asya" but only as "attu-a" in Tamil where 'attu' is said to be caariyai.
However the metaphysical meaning is clear: BEING possesses qualities
that are desired by all and that this quality, because of its
endearing and aesthetically appealing nature, is seen as FEMININE.
And also , it appears , the manifest world as the WOMAN ( nangkai)
of BEING where the whole world , the heaven and earth , the manifest world
is captured in the metaphor of a Woman with Brilliant headgear.
Ambal as Puneswari:
There appears to be fundamental difference from the SumeroDravidian
days itself in the way the Tamil philosophers comprehended the world.
While Vaisnavism saw the world as Enlil, Mu-ul-lil, Purusha, PerumaaL
or Pemman who hides , as said in the Prusha Suktam, three quarters
of Himself and shows only one quarter as the WORLD as whole, Saivism saw
the phenomenal world as the WOMAN, the equal half of Siva and which is
reatined in the notion of Siva as ArdhanaRi, BEING as MAN-WOMEN , the Androgynous
reality. Thus Sakti was seen as Puvaaneswari , the World Mother which
is also implicit in the notion of In-anna, ie. Ta. iin annai : the Woman
who gives birth to everything manifest ( Ta. iin: to give birth to) . Thus
implicit in this notion is also the biological activity of giving birth
to by a process where the MAN conjugates with the WOMAN and hence
BEING as the SOURCE of both the death and rebirth of all.
4. aga-zi-de ki-aga ( Enamoured of the appropriate tiara) nam-en-na tum-ma ( suitable for the high priest-hood)
*Ta. angka cittee kaama eeNNanam takumma ( Wearing the ornaments that are very beautiful , you appear the most suitable Divine Being)
5. me-imin-be su sa-du-ga (Whose hand has attained all the "seven " me's)
* Ta. mey iminbee cuur cuuduga ( You wear (as bangles) on your hands all the Powers of the world)
6. nin-mu me-gal-gal-la sag-kesda-bi za-e-me-en ( Oh my lady , you are the guardian of all the great me's)
*Ta. Ninmoo my kaLkaLLa caan kaddubi caayee man ( On My Mother! You are the one who can synthesise all these great Powers)
7. me mu-il ( You have picked up the me's) me su-zu-se mu-e-la ( you have hung the me's on your hand)
*Ta. mey moo iyal ( You move all the Powers) ( You have hung hte Powers in your hands (as bangles?))
8. me mu-ur (You gathered up the me's) me gaba-zu bi-tab ( you have clasped the me's to your breast)
* Ta. mey moo oor ( You collect together all the Powers) mey paakamcu taippi ( You have clasped all the Powers ( as ornaments) on your breast)
I shall contend here pointing only some eessentials.
First of all we can link "nin-mu" with the manta 'namoo' as in "Namoo NaaraayNaaya" where originally 'namoo' as Nin-mu just meant " my Great Mother" or simply " my Great One" but which in course of time became simply a word of praise of God. Similarly we can derive " namste" from this too as a truncated form of " nin-mu as-ti" meaning "let there be the blessings of Mother". Since these phrases are weel entrenched in Sk as well as all the Indian languages we can suspect that the Sumerian way of worship of Mother was well enytrenched in the whole of India sometime in the deep past.
However pjhilosophicaaly the most intersting phrases are those which oocur in the lines 6 , 7 and 8 . 'The description sag-kesda-bi ( Ta. caan kaddubi) means ' the One who binds together, synthesizees the meys or the tatvas" . Thuis can mean that it is the BEING-as- WOMAN who binds together the tavas and thereby generates the things of the world as well as the world itself. This meaning is very consistent with her being the iin-annai, the Mother who gives birth to all, the Puvanaambigai.
The phrase " me mo il" when taken in the sense of Ta. mey moo iyal , where Ta. iyal means to move, means that this WOMAN is the ones who MOVES all the Powers and hence the Dynamic Force, the Sakti behind everything phenomenal.
The phrase 'me mo or" taken as Ta. mey moo oor would mean that it is Inanna who colects together, cements together or integrates all. Thus it would appear that it Inanna who collects together all the tatvas , synthesizes them and moves them , attributes that are available to this as part of the meataphysics of Saktaism.
The Sakti in Saivism.
The parallels to these notions are available in abundance in Tamil Sk and other Indian languages and from ancient days itself. What is interesting to note is also the fact even though the Semitic faiths had thse Sumerian metaphysics , the references to the WOMAN is not available to the degree they are in the Indian whih parallels and constitutes a CONTINUATION of the Sumerian and hence Agamism.
The Fourth Tantra of Tirumular's Tirumantiram constitutes a record of all subsequent devlopments of such ideas and which are part of the fabric of metaphysical thinking of Tamils to this day. Howvevr I shall content here just quoting a verse from Arunandi's Civanjaana Cittiyaar ( 13th cent A.D) just to indicate how vibrant these ideas are to this day.
3 . Prapakkam
iican aruL iccai aRivu iyaRRal inbam
ilayamodu pookam atikaaramaakit
teecu aruvam aruvuruvam uruvamaakit
teeviyumaayt teecodu celvamaakit
peecariya uyiraiyellaam peRRu nookkip
perumpookam avaiyaLittup piRappinaiyum ozittiddu
aacakalum adiyar uLLattu appanudan irukkum
annaiyarut paatamalar cenni vaippaam
The Primordial Energy, the POWER of BEING emerges as Grace , the WOMAN who takes the forms of libidinalcognitional and the kinematic energies. Also the various kinds of experiential states of worldly indulgences , standingdetached from them and rising ABOVE them. In addition to these there are forms of transformations whereby things that are totally abstract, concrete-abstract and totally concrete are also obtained. This same Power also becomes the feminine archetypes and through which bliss are provided for the creatures thorugh worldly riches as well as metaphysical illuminations. The Power that takes all these forms and thus emerges as the MOTHER of all and who also destroys the given exixtence only to provide another one , is present as the ever nonabsenting half of BEING who makes His presence felt in the hearts of the Pure. We forever remember the Lotus Feet of this WOMAN by keeping them in our head.
iican aruL iccai aRivu iyaRRal inbam : The Sakthi of BEING emerges as
the libidinal cognitional and kinetic forms of
energy that produce happiness;
ilayamodu pookam atikaaramaakit : provides the experiential states of indulgence abstentions and rising above
teecu aruvam aruvuruvam uruvamakit : becomes the somehow intuitable abstract abtract-concrete and concrete forms;
teeviyumaayt teecodu celvamaakit : it also becomes the Feminine archetypal forms that provide riches along withproviding metaphysical illuminations;
peecariya uyiraiyellaam peRRu nookkip : also provide existence for the countless number of creatures with due concern;
perumpookam avaiyaLittup piRappinaiyum ozittiddu: having provided an immense range of pleasures , she also dissolves existence (just to provide another);
aacakalum adiyar uLLattu appanudan irukkum : SHE is with the MAN who discloses Himself in the heart of the Pure
annai yarut paatamalar cenni vaippaam : we shall keep forever in our head the Lotus Feet of Grace of this Mother
The WOMAN and hence the feminine aspects of Reality are
never neglected is Saivism which goes out of the way toemphasize
the Androgynous Form of BEING. The WOMAN in itself is the Primordial Energy
that cannot be destroyedbut only transformed into the various forms as
outlined comprehensively as above which includes the depth
psychological, cognitive psychological as well as physical.
One of the most peculiar concepts in religion is that of DESTRUCTION and many are appalled at the idea of BEING being destructive for it appears to be inconsistent with the real divine essence. Saivism interestingly enough right from its Sumerian times seems to have been preoccupied with this notion and along with it that of REGENERATION. These two concepts appear to go together -- destruction - regeneration and because of which Meykandar describes BEING itself as antam-aati , HE who puts to an end and at the same time regenerates all.
In the Hymn to In-anna of Enhudu Anna there is also descriptions of In-anna who in addition to being the eldest daughter of Su'en, the Moon God and hence the source of regeneration ( dumu-gal su'en-na) is also the devastatrix of the nation antipating the Saivite metaphysics here in its essence.
I shall consider in this essay the different ways in which BEING-as- WOMAN effects the destruction.
Destruction by Poison
This notion is the earliest to be mentioned in the hymn and comes with its counter notion.
9. usumgal-gim kur-ra us ba-e-si ( Like a dragon you have deposited venom on the land)
*Ta. ucumkaLngim kunRa ucu paayici ( Like a large snake you deposit venom on the land)
10. iskur-gim ki-sig ezinu la-ba-si-gal ( When you roar at the earth like Thunder, no vegetation can stand up to you)
* Ta. icaikoorangim kiizsiikki ezinu ila ba ciikaal (Your destroy the like thunder, no vegetation can grow on such lands )
11. a-ma-ru kur-bi-ta e-de ( A flood descending from its mountain)
*Ta. amaru kunRabitta izintee ( but you are also the regenerating) Waters descending from the hills)
12. sag-kal an-ki-a (d) inanna-bi-me-en ( Oh foremost, you are the Inanna of heaven and earth)
* Ta. caangkaL vaankiiza (d) iiannaabi man ( Oh the Great One, you are really the creatrix of heaven and earth)
Here the references are clearly that of the growth of vegetation and the poison she deposits on the land is a quality of the land where vegetation cannot grow. It may just be the absence of waters and hence the dry spells the draught it causes. Striking the land with thunder and lightning is another way of destroying -- destroying whatever ALREADY in the land . Thus Inanna when in the mood to destroy not only she annihilates the existing but also PREVENTS to possibility of regeneration, or the growth of vegetation.
But she is also the Flood , the amaru ( Ta. amuri etc) , the waters that descend form the mountains and hence the Power that allows the regeneration, the refreshing. As the flood she is clearly the Ganga who happily flows from the tuft of Civa, a symbolism of BEING where He is seen as the Antam-aati, the destroyer-regenerator and hence the Supreme, the " cangkaara kaaraNaakiya mutal" as meykandar would put it.
Destruction by Natural elements.
Below I give the lines where destruction by the forces of Nature are also seen as the workings of Inanna.
13. izi-ne-ne-ra kalam-e seg-ga ( Raining the fanned fire down upon the nation)
*Ta. ejen-ne nirai kalamma ceengkuva ( pour down upon the nation large (uncontrollable) fires)
17. kur-gul-gul u-de a ba-e-si ( Devastatrix of the lands, you are lent wings by the storm)
* Ta. kuRukolkol uuttee aal ba isi ( The devastatrix of the lands, you are given strength by the winds, the Vaayu)
20. nin-mu ja-pa-ag-ju-se kur i-gurum-gurum-e ( Oh my lady, at the sound of you the lands bow down)
*Ta. ninmoo japam aaku jucee kunRu iikuRuum-kuRuummee ( ")
These lines are historically very important. For we have here the phrase 'kur-kul-kul' which with the line of development : 'kur-kul-kul-amma " > kul-amma> kol avvaa> Ta. koRRavai, we end up with the Tamil name for maa-kaaLi whose worship is still widely present as part of Hindu practices all over the world. We have here also the word 'japam' a crucial term in MantrayaNa, that of reciting mantras and pointing out that this practice is Sumero-Dravidian and hence very ancient in its origins.
The word 'eji, ejen" means both 'fire' and 'festival' in Sumerian. Perhaps Tamil "vizaa" is to be derived from the same root : bi-eji-a-a> vi-zi-a-a> vizaa. In Sk this is rendered as 'yajna' but in such terms as 'ejamaan' still retained in their original morphology. This term also has given rise to Ta. yaakam : fire ritual and so forth.
However what is fascinating here is that En Hudu Anna notes something peculiar in connection with the WIND the u-de , derived from the Tamil root 'uu' to blow, in one its basic meanings and from which we have 'uutu' to blow , 'uutai' the wind etc.
The Wind is that which gives 'a ' or Ta. aal, the aaRRal, power even to Inanna. Thus what is being talked about is NOT the physical winds that shape up as destructive storms and so forth but the Metaphyical Wind, the Vaayu , that which MOVES ( vaayu < Ta. paayu, Su. ba-e-si) and hence the metaphysical Power or ENRGIA itself. Inanna is ACTIVE only because she is given the POWER by the Vaayu, the metaphysical winds.
We should note here that it is this notion that is rendered by the word Ta. piraaNan and Sk. praaNa perhaps to be derived from Su. bi-ir-aN-a, the divine Force that causes things to come forth into the world. This may also explain why KundaliNi yoga , the Yoga practices designed to enhance the Coiled Power incorporates piraaNa Yoga or Vasi Yoga as an important component of it. Through regulating and channeling the breathing processes it is believed that the ENERGIA in the body can be augmented and good health with longevity assured