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Siva is  Sumero Dravidian.

1. On the Etymology of Siva

This essay is in response to Vivek’s provocative statement that Saivism is not Dravidian which is intended actually, as I see it, to bring some clarity into this claim that has been put forward for many decades now by many Tamil Saivites. Since such claims lack rigor and clarity I want to attend to this issue with my studies of Sumerian  which I take it as Archaic Tamil and  hence Dravidian.

Now I must qualify the matter in some ways. First of all I do not want to claim that BEING ( also named Sivam in Tamil) is peculiar to any language race culture or individuals. BEING is present in the bosom of all and they may name it differently when they come to apprehend it, if at all . This is common knowledge also in Tamil Saivism and taken as an axiomatic Truth. ( see;  OnRavan taanee – Thirumular) . The same goes for Sivalingam with the worship of which Saivism is intimately linked. It is present in Sumerian times but however I see that also as UNIVERSAL, something that lurks in the depths of every person and hence something that can  erupt into consciousness  subsequent to which it may become an object of worship. In my Baum Test, a species of Access Test that I use for depth psychological investigations in connection with Agamic  Psychology,  I have come across  Chinese who are  Christians and Buddhists and Malays who are Muslims to draw what are unmistakably Sivalingam , something they never have  even heard of.  Also we hear now there was Sivalingam worship in ancient China several millenniums ago and also a striking similarity between the Yin Yang concepts of Taoism and Natam-Bindu or Siva-Sakthi concept of Saivism. I am inclined to consider these as INDEPENDENT developments, eruptions into consciousness elements already there in the depths.

However despite these qualifications we can make a case for the claim that Saivism has a Dravidian History  (without precluding other possibilities)  that dates back to Sumerian times and something that belongs to the cultural complex of the Dravidian speakers. The religious component of Sumerian culture can be called Agamism , in the sense of being Temple centered (among others) and the study of Sumerian texts disclose that there was worship of Mother Goddess ( Inanna Nin-a, Nin-anna  etc) Thirumaal  (se-ir- ma-al, En-lil, Mu-ul-lil) , Murukan ( Enmerukar, ) and Siva ( sipa, sib and also An) and so forth.  Sometimes the same names are retained in the historical period  and sometimes displaced with some new names but nevertheless on the basis of the attributes the IDENTITY of the deities and hence cultic practices  remain the same  and are similar to those worshipped by the Tamils ( and also others  all over India) so much so that Hinduism to-day can be
considered   essentially as  Agamism, a continuation  of something that prevailed in Sumerian times itself ( 4000 B.C. to 1500 B.C). The evidences for this comes from a study of NAMES and Siva worship is Dravidian in the sense that BEING was apprehended and named with the  the lexical resources availble in Tamil. Thus BEING is NOT peculiar to the Tamils, the NAMES are and this is what I am concerned here.

In this essay I shall bring together several pieces of my SumeroTamil studies to provide the necessary evidences to show that from the Su. Si , Si-in  the  Ta. Siva is derived

In my study of the  development of  Tamil verb morphology  from the Sumerian  I provided many samples of the occurrence of “si” and “si-in” and showed how they slowly evolved into –in , -ii –kin  and so forth of Tamil verbs.   In Su. Si means ‘presence’ ‘si-in” ‘present now” where Su. in corresponds to Ta. ini: now, now onwards i.e a term that brings in temporality and hence something that transforms a stative verb  (kuRippu vinai)  into active  verb  ( Vinai muRRu , ceyvinai). The following
part may be relevant here.

Some samples:


Utu a-igi-na su ba-si-in-ti

(Utu received his tears)

Ta. utu aal-akkinna cey  vaticin

(a>Ta. aal, aam: water;  ba-si-in-ti> ba-ti-si-in >vaticin;Ta. til, ti, va-ti: to exist:  utu> Ta. uti: to arise, that which arises. su>sey> key> kai: hand, or su> suur> karam: hands)

18. SH (B) 83

gis-kak u-tag-ga la-ba-si-gid-en

(I did not reach (wound) it with a javelin)

 kucci kakam U  tAkkal  kidciyenba ila

(kak> Ta.. kakam: arrow, tag-ga> Ta, tAkku: to attack, gid> Ta. kiddu: to reach)

The distinction in meaning between complexes with "si" and "sin" as suffixes is then clearly what Tolkappiyar has termed 'vinaikuRippu" and "vinaimuRRu".  Of crucial importance here is the concept of "muRRu" which has the meaning of 'attaining', 'reaching', 'effecting' and so forth. We can render these concepts into English as follows:

    Both "si" and "sin" are Being formants with"si" as a Stative-Being formant and "sin" Effector-Being formant. "X-si" will have the meaning of  "one who does X" and "X-sin" will have the meaning "one who has effected X" "X" being a named action or process. The Stative-Being  formant, being stative cannot conjugate with tense (without shift of meaning); it can conjugate only with terms that introduce agents such aspronouns and so forth. Such a restriction does not hold with Effector-Being formant as the effecting of an action, in addition to being a  temporal event requires also an agent.

    The effector-being sense of "sin" contrasts with the "be-the -effector-of-an-action" sense of "su" , the
imperative marker. What is asserted by  such complexes as "X-sin" can be said to be true or false while  such a truth functional evaluation is not possible with"X-su" . It should be  noted that the evaluation of "x-sin" as true or false, presupposes the alleged effecting of an action by someone at some time in the past. From  this , clearly, it is possible for complexes of the sort "X-sin" to have become gradually viewed as verbs in the past tense. Since complexes of  the sort "X-su" contrasts with this (in the imperative sense initially), it is possible for such morphological structures to have become  contrasted with the past tense, a state of affairs that seem to have prevailed during tha O.Ta. period as the examples from Sangam classics  above would show.

In connection with this it should also be noted that  ‘si’  occurs  in the mantra si-vaa-ya-na-ma” or ‘na-ma-si-va-ah”  and the si-kaaram here is normally taken as light. This notion could have arisen from the Su. si that acts as the stative-being indicating grammatical infix which also has the meaning “pure presence, being-there-as-such” in contrast to  si-in “ presence as there now etc”  When this notion is firmly entrenched and its metaphysical understanding sought then it is possible to come up with “si-a” “si-ba”   (> siva)– that which does the presencing  etc viz.   BEING as such, the primordial causal ground for presence of beings and Being, the existences of the creatures.

Su. sipa, sib and Ta. Siva

 We can provide many evidences to show that this naming of BEING as siva was already accomplished  in Sumerian times itself and hence alresdy a fabric of the metaphysical thinking of SumeroTamils in the deep past.

A phrase that occurs frequently in Sumerian texts is “sipa sag gig-ga” which is translated as “the shepherd of the black heads”  but a more appropriate translation of which will be “ the savior of the black people’  or "the saviour who is Black". The word ‘sipa’ which also occurs as ‘sib” might the root word from which the English terms such as ‘spheperd’ ‘saviour’ ‘save, safe” etc , terms that are important in Christian theology might have originated. As the provider or as the GROUND for continuous presence in the world, Siva is seen as the saviour. This notion is reinforced in the following occureence of the term in Sulgi;s MutarIbiyam ( Hymn B)

73.  sipa ildum-ma-bi su-bi hu-mu-dug
    (and) for the shepherds and pack dogs it was a pleasant (time)

sipa ez.tummabi suubi tukkummu

74. u-me-da u-ul-li-a-se
    (though) always and always

 uLmai-odu uu uuziya see

Here clearly the translation of the first line is not only inappropriate but also inconsistent with the second. The second line means  “ being there really until the   time of  (uu),  uuzi the total destruction of the world.  And since total destruction  is being talked  about, the ildum-ma , has to be those which thus destroyed and thus things that remain as there in the world and hence ezu-tumma, that which have arisen, brought into being-there . Hence we can see sipa  (si-ba)is seen that Power – bi – that does this i.e ezu-tumma.

Now it is possible that the  POWER that is the agent  of the genesis  of all and their  continuous presence there , should also be considered  also that which destroys all. With this we have the notion of Siva as ‘sangaara-karaNanakiya mutal’ , an insight that is explicated in great details and subtlety in the Civanjanabotham of Meykandar.


As I have already  pointed out while BEING is common to all human beings but  historically different people have come to recognize it in different ways. The Dravidian speakers  have their own history about this in  the naming of BEING as Siva as well as  UNDERSTANDING that BEING in certain archetypal forms .  In this historical study  we are concerned only with the UNDERSTANDING and naming that accompanies it. The Sumerian literature especially the Kes Temple hymns (~2200 B.C.)  provide enough evidences to substantiate this claim. Let me add here that if there are  similarities in names and archetypal recognitions and symbolic representations between the Dravidian folks and those in the North of India right from the ancient times  it only shows that there were Dravidians there in the past perhaps now constituting an important substratum . If such notions are available in the Vedic lore , the same observations goes -- from the Dravidian sources they must have entered the Vedic scriptures  and thereby Dravidianizing them culture wise.

Su. Kes and Tamil Keeci (> kaaci?)

The  word 'kes' is certainly the archaic form of Ta. kees- as in keecam ( hair) , keeci ( long haired) and so forth and 'kaasi' as in Kaaci Vicuvanaatar may be a variant of this. Another possibility for 'kaaci" is Ta. kaas- , kaay- : to glow with intense heat and which has many derivative  words , aa-kaayam/aakaasam , kaasam ( a disease , fever?) , pirakaacam ( illumination, clarity, brightness < para-kaacam " great illumination" etc.)

The word occurs in this Hymn in many places . Some are given below  also along with my own translations

7. kes sag-il mu-na-ni-in -gal ( Kes lifted its head for him)

Ta. keeci  caangki ezu munnin kaal ( Keeci raised His head and established  (Himself) as in front.

In the translation  by Gragg,  "mu" is taken as the pronoun " moo" while it can also be taken as "mun" , in front  and mu-na-ni-in as Ta. munnanin : in front , as there  and so forth.

Hence Kes here is not a place but rather BEING himself as the long haired, the "viricadai pemmaan "  of Cangkam days,  an archetypal understanding  that  is retained till today.

Prof Sundaramurthy  in his book  Cangka IlakkiyangaLil Camaya Nookku ( 1991) has collected the following occurrences of this descriptive feature from the Cangkam classics ( p. 352) I have added my own English translations to them

eeRRuvan uyariya erimaruL avircaadai  (PuRam -56) ( The opened hair of BEING mounted on the Bull that's bright like Fire)

nanRaaynta niiL nimir cadai ( puRam - 166) (The well cared  very long and restless tuft)

iiranjcadai antaNan  ( kuRincik kali -2) ( The AntaNa of wet and moist  tuft)

The Siva with wet and opened and restless tuft is Siva as Nadarajah, BEING as the dancer and this moving gyration and
restlessness is representative of His DYNAMIC  presence, BEING as Piraviruttan, the mover of all  but who in Himself remains unmoved..

This notion is available, I think , in the phrase  "Kes sag-il" Keeci lifting His head up , a metaphorical phrase  that expresses the idea that  instead remaining WITHDRAWN  ( and  hence BEING as Cattan, as they say, the absolute closed within itself) , BEING in becoming the Keeci,  SHOWS Himself as there so that people would acknowledge His presence. This meaning is available in the phrase " munnanin kaal" where 'kaal" means to establish firmly.

This understanding that Kes in not a place or temple but rather Keeci, the Cadaiyan, is further confirmed by the following lines:

8. kes kur-kur-ra sag-ga il-bi  ( When Kes lifted its head among all the the lands)

9 (d) en-lil-le kes zami am-ma-ab-be (Enlil spoke the praises of Kes)

Ta. keeci kunRakunRa saangkia ezubi( When keeci lifted His head among the lands )
    ENliil-le keeci caamiyamma abaiyee ( Enlil sang in praise of Keeci)

ENlil , it must noted,  is the archaic VishNu or Thirumal who in Sumerian literature is also known as se-ir maal, mu-ul-lil and so forth . Vishnu is BEING as the manifest world and who depends of BEING for His phenomenal functioning. Thus it is fitting that he sings in praise of Kesi when He DISCLOSES Himself from the depths.

This theme of Vishnu as the Ordaining Power of the manifest world, the Purusha,  assuming a subordinate position to Siva is noted without fail in the Tevaram Corpus

The Bull of Siva

Another symbolic representation of BEING as Siva is that he is noted as one who mounts the bull , which in Sumerian is called 'gu' ( Ta. koo : cow cattle) and 'nam-ti' ( Ta. nanti : the bull of Siva). In the above citations it is noted  as eeRRuvan, the One with the eeRu:  a generic term for the  male of  animals  ( meaning that which mounts) but here specifically the bull that Siva mounts. We find a mention of this in the following line:

14. e kes mus-kalam-ma gu-hus-aratta ( Kes temple, foundation of the country , fierce ox of Aratta)

Ta. il keeci mutal kaLamma koo ushNa Aratta ( ")

While I am not clear as to reason for  the mention of Aratta, probably a place name ( may be a wilderness where grows arattam, a kind of flowers, may be linked with the genesis  of Maaratta ( <maa aratta, now maharastra)) it is clear that 'gu-hus' is Ta. koo ushNa, the angry bull. ( ushNa> ugra, ukkira?). While it is  said metaphorically ( uLLuRai uvamam)  that  HE is in fact the Angry Bull, in later day developments, it has become an archetypal understanding and an element of symbolic representation.


The worship of  Siva,  VishNu, Ambal, Muruka and so forth though certainly very Dravidian but also Hindu in general as it is found all over India including Nepal . The Hindu cultural ethos is constituted by the worship of these divinities and which are also Temple centered. This just goes to show that Agamism is the essence of Hinduism and hence that of Indian Civilization. The unity that is India becomes visible as we study more and more the fabric of Indian culture against the Sumerian ; it turns out that the essence was already there and historical developments are mere continuations of trends already available in those ancient days itself showing that the various intruders contributed almost nothing significant for the further development of it.  Almost everything that is distinctive and constitute a high degree of development of culture is essentially the contributions of SumeroDravidians. We cannot also rule out that it is the Sumerianization of Middle Eastern and European cultures that probably took place along the spread of literacy  and cuneiform script that  accounts for some similarities that we see among the Semitic and Europeans that led early Indologists to come up with  *PIE and so forth.

The  Symbolic Presentations  of Siva

The deity Siva is certainly Dravidian, in terms of the NAME attributes and so forth. He was called Kes in Sumerian times  meaning Keeci, the ONE with flowing hair   which in historical times was rendered also  as Cadaiyan and which is associated with BEING as the Dancer, the Siva Nadarajah , the aadavallaan, the moving and elegant  iconographic representation of which  has become rightfully world famous

In the Kes temple Hymn of Enhudu Anna  (~2200 B.C) we have the following lines which appear to describe in a nutshell other symbolic elements in terms of which BEING was recognized as Siva - the Original Ground  of Everything that is ( si--) and hence simply BEING, the ground of beings in general.

47. e an-se alim ki-se lu-lim ( Temple , at its top a bison, at its bottom a stag)

* Ta. il vaansee aa-lembu kiizsee uLu-lembu ( Temple , at its top a bull, at its bottom a cow)

48. e an-se seg-bar ki-se dara-mas ( Temple , at its top a wild ram, at its bottom a deer)

* Ta. il vaansee cemmaRi kiizsee taaraimaan (   "  )

49.  e an-se seg-bar-dar-a ki-se dara-mas-sa-ga ( Temple, at its top a many-coloured wild ram, at its bottom a beautiful deer)

* Ta. il vaansee cemmaRi taarai kiizsee taaraimaan cokka(  "  )

50. e an-se utu-gin e-a ki-se iti-gin-bara-ga ( Temple , at its top rising like the sun, at its bottom setting like the moon)

* Ta. il vaansee utu-ngin eeya kiizsee inti-ngin valangu ( Temple , at its top moving forward like the sun, at its bottom round like the moon)

51.  e an-se utug-sul ki-se (gis)tun-am  ( Temple, at its top a heroic mace?, at bottom an axe )

* Ta. il vaansee utukku cuul kiizsee tuuNaam ( Temple , at its top the spear with hand drum, at its bottom  the Pillar ( or axe)

52. e an-se kur-ra-am ki-se idim-ma-am ( Temple , at its top a mountain, at its bottom a spring)

What these lines describe as the adornment of Temple for Siva, the Keeci, are now available as the SYMBOLIC elements available in the iconography of  Siva and which have been interpreted as to their meanings. We shall consider some of these.

The a-lim and lu-lim.

The word lim has become long obsolete in Tamil unless  we can link it up with 'elumbu' meaning bones dating back to a primitive period where cows were slaughtered and eaten and the bones were essentially the bones of the cattle slaughtered. We have evidence for this in this hymn itself. However the  term is retained in Malay ( and perhaps in the other Austranesian  languages)  as 'lembu'  meaning "cattle". We have also a number of other words : lembab ( valley) , lumpur ( mud), lembut ( soft) which invite comparisons with 'lembuni", said to be the birth place of Buddha. The Malay 'lembu' may be a  creature of the valleys and because of which it was named thus.

The 'a" in 'a-lim" is retained in Tamil as "aa" as in "aadu" , the male person. Similarly the "lu" in lu-lim is the archaic form of "aaLu" , still in use as the suffix indicative of the feminine. Perhaps the semantics dates back to a time of matriarchal organization of Dravidian society where aaL( to rule)   was associated with females and only later we have aaLu ( the person , the male on its own) however the original sense of the female retained in the verbal forms.

The presence of the BULL and COW certainly reminds us  of Nanti , the Symbol of Siva to this day and which stands for IMMENSE VIRILITY of BEING without which the tireless productivity of the world is impossible.

Seg-bar and Dara-mas

These terms do not present any difficulties in identifying them . The 'seg-bar' exists now as 'cem-maRi" , the sheep and 'dara-mas' as taaraimaan, the dear with streaks all over . And both are symbolic elements of Siva, and if I am not mistaken  these are the hand symbols Siva wears as Somaskantan, one of the 64 archetypal presentations of Siva

Utu and Iti

Here too, there is no problem in identifying the words. The term 'utu" exists as in 'utayam" sunrise probably to be derived from 'utu-aa-am" , the emergence of the sun. The word 'iti'  is retained as Ta. intu, the moon but more frequent in Sk than in Tamil.

Here we are reminded of Siva as the Candrasekaran, One wearing the  Crescent Moon. The word  "bara-ga" links with  the Austronesian " bilugan" ( to encircle, Filipino) and many other words that Paul Kekai Mansala and Dr Kalyan have already listed  out. The temple appears to be radiating at the top and hence probably with tall and tapering towers while the bottom or the base rather circular like the moon. These terms of description of what are obviously temple structure might have become  SYMBOLIC in later times. On the other hand  such shapes for the base and top may itself presuppose the Sun and Moon as something significant in  the understanding of Siva Himself, He being being the Naatam ( iravi: the sun) and Bindu (  mati: the moon). In  Tamil Siddha literature we have Siva as Ravimati, both the sun and moon together and hence immensely brilliant.

Utug-sul and Tun ( or tuuN)

The utug-sul , i.e. utukku cuul, the Spear carrying the utukku , the hand drum is unmistakably and undeniably a symbol of Siva, the most popular to this day. The beating drum has been understood as that from which  all languages emerge, the primordial sound , the LOGOS that generates all the languages from mantras to audible speech.

The "tun" could the Ta. tuN meaning to cut, severe and so forth and hence an axe, the Mazu of Siva. It could also be Ta. tuuN, meaning pillar hence the Civalingam that has been called in Tamil as Siva-taaNu, the Pillar of Siva. Meykandar calls it koo-taNdam, the Divine Rod and Tolkaappiyar Kantu, an obelisk. The term tuuN also means 'obelisk", a meaning that fits better the context. For the Cuul ( now Tricuul) stands for Parasakthi, the Female Power and against this we should have the Symbol of Male Power and hence the tuuN. We should note here that 'ilingam" may originate from 'ilangku" , to  shine forth and may be  linked to Malay 'langit', the bright sky, the heavens.

Kur-ra and Idim-ma.

Here have references to the Himalayas and Ganges though the terms are quite different. The word 'kur" is obviously Ta. kunRu that parallels Malay "Gunong", mountain.  We should note here that the  word Himalaya may ultimately be Sumerian for in Su. we have the word "im" meaning the rain clouds and Himalayas may be derived from "im-aala-ya" meaning the wide spread or extensive place ( aalaya) of rain clouds ( im) . Corresponding to the Su. im we have Ta. imam: snow, something very cold etc and hence imam-aalayam : an extensive place of anow.

The word idim-ma, derived from Su id: meaning a stream is perhaps linked to  Ta. oodai. However there is another word Su. senge, meaning heavy rain that exists now  as Ta kangkai and Malay 'sungai" (river). Thus it appears that the original Sumerian  'kur" and idim-ma became the Himalayas and Ganges. This must have taken place when the Sumerians settled in the Gangetic Valey  before they began to drift towards the South. This may account for the frequent mention of  the Himalayas and the  desire to re-conquer that area on the part of many Cangkam kings. This may also account for the fact that Ceran Cengkuuttuvan sought to bring the stone from the Himalayas to erect a temple for Kannagi. There must have been  lingering memories of the past when Himalayas were the Sacred Hill for  Cangkam Tamils.