Sulgi on Music

Dr K.Loganathan, April 2003



Dear Friends,

Hinduism remains to this day Agamic Hinduism, a temple-centered metaphysical culture in which Vedism remains only a small part . As I have already pointed out in my series on Sulgi: The Priest-king, Vedism was most probably the religious practices that were confined to the Royal courts which in the deep past was a culture of the Priest-King. The Yajnas Rajasuuyas asvametha yakams and so forth were essentially rituals for the kings so that they could gain the favors of the Sun and Moon principles or Tatvas that would give them the physical and mental strength to gain political leadership of the country. Unfortunately in recent times and possibly because of the Aryanization of Hindu culture, this aspect has become blown out of proportions and projected as the essence of Hinduism. Fortunately we have the Sumerian texts which show the truth and we see that Agamic Hinduism is the essence of Hinduism and continues to be so to this day. Each time a temple is erected, what comes alive is the Agamic Hinduism along with its rituals, puranas and hymnology.

We find that music and dance plays an important part of this Temple-centered Agamic Culture and for which reasons both were cultivated as hermeneutic sciences right from the ancient days. It is said that Barata Nadya Sastras was written in the South. Also it is mentioned that there were many great treatises on music during the times of Second and Third Academies itself - Periapammam, Icai nuNukkam, MativaaNar Nadakat Tamil etc. It is very unfortunate that we have lost most these texts. However we have a good account of music and dance in Sillapatikaaram (c. 5th cent AD) and the Jaina classics such Ciivaka CintamaNi PeruGkatai etc perhaps also belonging to the same period.

Sulgis Mutariibiyam(c. 2000 B.C), among the many texts in Sumerian contains valuable information on music. These are contained in the lines 155 to 185 and I hope to provide an analysis of these lines (now in English) so that we have a better picture of the genesis of Hinduism as such. We must recall here that the Bakti revolt that recaptured Agamic Hinduism in the Tamil soil was essentially one based upon hymnology and to this day it remains so. Interestingly enough Sulgi himself, certainly the most famous philosopher-king of the ancient world, gives enough of the philosophical understanding of the relevance of music in the metaphysical life.

I shall give the Tamil reconstructions along with comments to these lines so that this ancient wisdom also becomes part of our current thinking. I also take this opportunity to bring out the Tamil character of Sumerian and why I say it is Archaic Tamil


Sulgis Hymn B ( Mutaribiyam)


155. Sul-gi lugal-Uri-ma-me-en (I, Sulgi, the king of Ur )

      ٸ â

Ta. Sulgi uLukaL uurimma maan

156. u nam-nar-ra gu-mu haba-sum (Dedicated myself also to music)


Ta. oo naara-nam kuuvmuu ava cummu

157. nig-na-me-bi la-ba-da-an-gil-en (Nothing related to it was too complex for me )


Ta. nikanameebi ila paddaan miiLLen


155. the use of -a as genitive case marker as in urimma ( to Ur) is also available in CaGkam classics. me-en> moon ( son), maan (person). Lugal -> uLugaL : the gaL here means big, great large etc and exists to this day as kaN ( > kaNam, KaNavaan ) etc. In such use as maan.kaNam it means a herd. The plural marker kaL that is widely in use today is certainly a derivative of this.

156: u> oo ( uyar) means something great, lofty as in u-mun : the great Academy probably the highest institution of learning ( a university?) in Sumerian times. Nam-nar-ra is certainly Ta.naaranam where the root naar means fibre as well as the strings of the musical instruments. The term naaratar a figure in the Puranas who always sings with a harp(?) is certainly a derivative of this. Here it means instrumental music which is distinguished from vocal music i.e. gu-mu which has become Ta.kuuvu, to call out, to sing loudly etc. In CaGklam classics this exists as akaval a name for the most prevalent meter and akavu to sing, call out etc as in akavan makaLee etc.

haba> ava: they ; a pronoun that exists even now as avai : they. The Su. sum( sum-mu) is possibly related to Ta. cum: to carry or Ta. um: to conjoin. ( sum> um: to conjoin) we have also another word Ta. kum-mu : to crowd together, concentrate etc ( sum> kum). The word samaati may be a derivative of this . sum-aati: to unite with the primordial source( aati). The Tamil word for religion samayam may also be related to this : sum-ay-am : uniting with (sum) BEING( ay: Godhead)

157: nikaname > Ta. nikaramee : all together. In Tamil we still have the word nikara as in nikara ilaabam the total or final profit. We also have the technical term in Logic nika-manam meaning final conclusion. It is possible that nika> mika: excessive, exceedingly etc.

na> la> Ta. ila, ala, il, al etc the particle of negation; still in use to this day. The word Su. ba-da-an is possibly related to Ta. padu : to experience, suffer etc but here an aux. verb. Su. gil ba-da-an> miiL paddaan. The sign read as g is possibly ng as it is also rendered as n in many places. ngil> niiL, miiL etc.

The en as in gil-en may be a reflexive pronoun Ta. en and used here in sense enakku: to me.

These lines indicate that music was clearly distinguished into instrumental and vocal and that, part of the make-up of a cultured person was to be proficient in these arts. Sulgi, as the King sees himself as one who should also be very proficient in these arts to establish himself as a true King. We shall see the reasons below,

We have seen that even at the time of Sulgi there was already a distinction made between instrumental ( naaranam) and vocal music (gu-mu> kuuvu> akavu). In the lines below more details about the instrumental music are given along with the need for prolonged training for acquiring the necessary expertise to use the instruments. There is also a psychological analysis of the impact of music of the human mind showing that even in the Sumerian times there was a sophisticated analysis of music as a field of Hermeneutic Science, something we see also during the historical period.


158. tigi a-da-ab nam-nar su-du-a buru dagal-bi mu-zu (I penetrated the depth and width of the consummate musical training of the tigi and adab compositions )


Ta. tiki adaappu naaranam suuduva puru takallabi muu cuu.

159. sa-NE dab-be hun-ga [x] (The su-kar instrument to appease the heart in anger )

͸째 -NE ?

Ta. kiisu sukarkkee saay-NE tabbee ungkaa[x]

160. si-ag-NE-da nu-mu-si-ib-gaz-e

    And, in their preparation I did not bungle anything

    ¢ Ƣ

Ta. ciiaak-NE-ida naa moo cey ippu kaziyee

161. zi-zi-i su-su-ba gis mu-e-hur-hur (By pondering and striving I succeeded in fixing their rules )


Ta. ji-ji-I suu-suu-ba kiis moo ee uRu uRu ( I strived and pondered hard to understand the sounds of these instruments)



tigi> Ta. tiki: a beat in music, probably tigi here is hand percussion instrument like the cymbals; a-da-ab> Ta. adaivu, adavu : a technical term in dance where it means the rhythmic and rule governed movement of the legs; perhaps here the instrument that gives the beat of the PaN or raaga, the rhythm. S. nam-nar> naaranam: instrumental music. Su. buru> Ta. puri> pulan: understanding, knowledge. Su. su-du> Ta. cuudu: to crown oneself with, to accomplish; the -a in su-du-a is a verbal noun formative hence sudu-a> cudal , the act of accomplishing or acquiring. Su. dagal> Ta. taval : broad and deep; tava: great; the -bi in dagal-bi is pronominal suffix which exists in CaGkam Tamil as -bu as in kaaN-buu vanticinee etc. Ta. zu> Ta. cuu: to understand as cuu-t-tiram : the sutra but as the linguistic expression that contains within it an understanding. Also Ta. cuuz: to reflect deeply, Ta. col: to tell, the word or speech.


gis> Ta. kicci >kucci : a stick but in Su. a general term for tools including weapons. Note giz-zal> kiiccal : to sing loudly. Su. su-kar> Ta. cuu karu > koo karu: that which generates ( gar> Ta. karu) the good or divine ( su). the case marker -ke as su-kar-ke exist in Ta. as ku or kee, a genitive case marker but in CaGkam times confined only human objects. Allso a locative case marker as maturaikku cenReen) Su. sa> Ta. saay: the depression but here the inside of the body and hence the heart. Su. dab-be> Ta. tabu: to control, to bind; Su. hun-ga> Ta. uGka> uNaGku : to dry up in heat. Su. nu> na > la > Ta. ila, ala, al , il etc. The form na is retained in Sk. The si in si-ib is possibly an auxiliary verb Ta. cey : to do while -ib is the causative infix -pi well attested in CaGkam inscriptions as in koddu-pi-t-taan ( he caused it to be cut) etc.



si-ag> Ta. cii aakku: to perfect; ag> Ta. aakku : to make; Su. si < Ta. cii, ( Sk . sri) : complete and full. The word aagamam is perhaps derived from this with the meaning: that which makes a person the most excellent or develop to the full.( si, Ta. cii , Sk sri); da as si-ag-NE-da is the commutative/ locative case marker Ta. odu, udan, ida etc. Su. gaz-e > Ta. kazi-ee : to let go, to bungle etc. The -e here is Ta. -ee where it is the TeeRRa eekaaram, the particle of emphasis.


Su. zi-zi-i : Ta. jii-jii-i , cii-cii-i : this term is better retained in Sk as uj-jii-vi; zi means to be awake and alert with alliteration meaning to try hard; strive etc. The suffix -i is a frequent occurrence in CaGkam Tamil especially as a verbal suffix perhaps a past tense marker as in kaiyil koL-ii-i ( having attained) . Su. su-su-ba> Ta. cuu-cuu-ba, Ta. cuuz-cuuz-ba: the alliteration here stands for continuation or action repetition as in oodi oddi, naadi naadi etc. Su. gis> Ta. giit, giitam : the sound; e-hur-hur> Ta. ee uRu uRu : the (sounds) that are there (ee)


These lines indicate that the science of instrumental music was very advanced in Sulgis time (c. 2000 BC) where there were a variety in musical instruments, each producing its peculiarly own pattern of musical sounds that required prolonged training to master. To accomplish perfection si-ag was the goal of people like Sulgi and which required hard toil as well as deep understanding. Thus there must have been a well established tradition of instrumental music where some must have devoted their whole life for the craft and hence lived as musical specialist of a sort (We shall provide evidences for this later). Each instrument was understood to have its own musical tones and only with immense practice one can succeed in bringing out sounds, inherent to each instrument.

Interestingly enough these sounds were also seen as su-kar i.e. that which generates the DIVINE within a person. Thus we can see that even in those ancient days, instrumental music was seen as an important sadhana for bringing out the DIVINE in each person, something that applies also to hymns and songs, a feature so well established in the Bakti literature in Tamil where they are not simply verses but also songs with a define paN or raga with which they must be sung.

In the above lines Sulgi records a profound understanding of music and musical instruments. The musical instruments contain within themselves as their Deep Structure perhaps, the su-kar, Ta. su-karu or si-karu and perhaps the cikaaram, the divinizing tones or rhythms that have to be wrested through prolonged training with sharpened ears. One must be very skillful and acquire the necessary mastery through prolonged training to bring them out. The su-kar or ciikaaram, it should be noted is that mantra that divinizes the ugly and dirty soul through activating the su/si/cii or Ak siri, Sk sri and Ta. tiru, the spiritual beauty. Thus we see here that Sulgi understands that that there are certain sounds that are in essence mantraic and that listening to them has the capacity to bring out what later came to be called the civattuvam, a certain metaphysical illumination that beatifies the soul by purifying it.

More details are available in the following lines where other musical instruments are mentioned.


162. sag-ga mi-ni-zu (I learnt the sweetness of the thirty(?) stringed instrument and of the zami

    Ţ ¸ ɢ

Ta. kiskuuvuc.u kis.saamiyakamma saangka suumini ( I understood very well the instruments for vocal music (gu-us) and those used for divinely praise(za-mi)

163. u sa nam-nar-ra-ka/ sa-sa gu-la mi-ni-zu (The 3(0)-stringed instrument, and the essence  (heart) of the musical craft, the great sa-sa )

    ¢ ÿ/ ɢ

Ta. kis.saayisu um saay naaranamaka saal saal koola suumini ( I understood magnificently well also the depth of the instruments as well as their essence in musical craft)

164. in-di lugal-la/  MIR su si mi-ni-zu (The algar, the sabtum (which) are of the king's rite, I taught the herald their fingering )

    ¡ ٸ/ MIR ɢ

Ta. kis.yaazkaar kis. Sabitum inti uLukaLLa/MIR suu sii suumini


162: : Ta. kuuvisai : vocal music; . Su. -us< -es > Ta. isai: music. Perhaps also the -us is a pronominal suffix : as> us>atu, utu; kuuvu> akavu: to sing loudly. gu-us> kuuvatu : for singing loudly. Su. za-mi > Ta. saami: god; a term of address for godly persons( later restricted to brahmanahs); initially a term of praise. Za-mi-a-kam-ma: that inside (akam) the songs of praise. Note here we have akam in full and with the meaning of inside but in a metaphorical sense. It has been wrongly stated that it is a loan from Sk to Tamil where as a matter of fact it is a term common to Tamil and Sk. The instruments here must be those used in singing of such praises. Su. sag-ga> Ta. saangka> semma: very well, to a high degree of refinement. ( -ng- > mm- : see dingir> dimmer> diwer> Ta. teyvam) Su.mi-ni-zu < Ta. suumini: the mini that corresponds with Ta. min, minee etc of CaGkam Tamil means here I here though later it became the third person invocative. It is also possible that the in/ni here is an aspectual marker in the perfective sense.


163: sa> Ta. saay, saal : the essence; es> Ta.isai: music. sa-es can also be col-isai verbal music as opposed to instrumental. The u here may the Ta. um, the particle of conjunction. sa nam-nar-ra-ka> saal naaranamaka: the essence or excellence (saal) within instrumental music , naaranam-aka. Su. sa-sa> Ta. saal-saal : the excellence; Su. gu-la> Ta. koola: great; sa-sa gu-la> Ta. saal saal koola: great excellence.


164. al.kar> yaazkaal: a harp with a stand(kaal: leg)? Also al.kar> vaaL. karai: a sword-like instrument ( vaaL: sword) that emits musical sounds ( Ta. karai: to make noise) gis. sa-bi-tum ; sabitum> Ta. sabtitum? Ta. sabtam: sound Also note Su. seppi Ta. seppu: to say, relate, to ell etc. Perhaps here an instrument like a drum that produces loud noise. in-di lugal-la> Ta. inti ulukaLLa . Perhaps Ta. intira is derived from this and here we have an indication of the intira vizaa of CaGkam times. Also note Ta. intu: moon. It is also possible that this word was retained among the semitic people and used as a term for the religious rituals isolated as special for the kings and later generalized to the religion as whole and from which we have the current word hinduism. The term inti-ra means the one entitled to the special rituals of inti perhaps linked with worship of moon and a ritual related to gaining of KuNdalini, the Soma-juice and hence something like the soomayaakam. The word soma can be derived from Su. su-en, the Moon God.

Of outstanding importance in these lines is the notion of special rituals for the kings which shows that even around 2000 BC, there were already the kings isolated and conferred special privileges in ritual matters. The instruments of harp(?) and loud drums were also isolated for this purpose. Perhaps it was understood that the sounds emanating from these musical instruments had special power to activate the kuNdalini and hence appropriated by the politically powerful as for themselves. Such rituals may also be beginnings of the famous Intira Viza of CaGkam times and which were celebrated for the welfare of the kings and through that of the nation.


On further reflections we can get some additional insights about the connection of Music and Mantrayana, perhaps the most distinctive contribution of Agamic Hinduism for which it serves as the theoretical foundation. The important word su-kar, the sound deep within the musical instruments which on being wrested out and listened to would divinize the soul, could have become u-kar, ukaar allowing for the disintegration of the initial s- that is frequently met with. This immediately suggests that u-kaar is the u-karam or u-kaaram , the mystic sound that is an expression of Naatam, a Siva Tatva. The word naatam exist in Sumero-Tamil as nitah (niitah?) as in nitah dumu the male child. Thus we have niitah (male)--> naatah (lord) -->naatam: that which establishes lordship. This implies that the special rituals for the King (in-di lugalla) above and sounds made by the instruments are perhaps concerned another mantric syllable a-karam or a-kaaram, that which is the expression of Bindu and which emerges as the KuNdaliNi Sakti. The meaning of in-di (Ta. intu: moon. In-di-ra: moon god?) seems to favor this interpretation. This also means that we have the beginnings of the discovery of AUM, the primordial Logos that becomes the tripartite a-u-m the five-member na-ma-si-va-ya and the fifty aksaras that go into the fabrication of all languages.

With this insight let us look at the next few lines.

165. gis.mi-ri-tum nig-SID-bi-se / su mu-un-bu-bu-i (I (taught/knew) how to pluck of the strings of the mirItum

    â ¢

Ta. kisu miritum nika-SID-bisee sur mun buuy-buuyi

166. gis. UR-za-ba-bi-tum gis.har-har (The Urzababa isntrument, the harhar, the zanaru )


Ta. kis UR-saababitum kis ara ara kis sanaru

167. gis.ur-gu-la gis.dim lu ma-gur-ra-/NE-gin KA mi-ni-e (The " Big Dog" , the gis.dim, that give sounds like (the  cries of ) boatman )

    ą̂ ܨçɹ KA  ɢ

Ta. kis oorikurai kistim.u uLu maa kuurai/ NE-ngin KA miniyee




mi-ri-tum: miri> Ta. mili, meli: soft and gentle; tum, tuum > Ta. tuum.bu ; hollow pipe: hence gis.mi-ri-tum: a pipe emitting soft and pleasant sounds; flute of a kind? Su. mu-un-bu-bu-i > Ta. munpuypuyi Ta. puy: to pluck, smatch; the mun is auxilaiary verb that has become obsolte but retained is some frozen forms such mun-eeRu, mun-nookku etc. It may stand for indicating intentional actions (Ta. mun: to intend) or the ctual effecting ( Ta. mun: in front, bringing out to the front etc). The -I is a frequent occurrence in CaGkam Tamil , e.g kedAa nalisai nilai.i : having established undiminishing fame ( Patirrup pattu 14:21)



za-ba-bi-tum> Ta. japabi tuum.u? instruments accomponaiying mantra recital ie. Japam , cepam? See SirbiyaM 20. nin-mu za-pa-ag-zu-se kur i-gurum-gurum-e ( Oh my lady ! at the sound of you the lands bow down), za-pa, za-ba> sepam : mantra recital; also > sabtam: sound?

Gis.har-har: har-har Ta. ari ari, ara ara :Ta. ari-kural : soft and gentle voice. Also kar-kar> har-har; kar Ta. karai: to cry; perhaps a reed instrument that emits a sound like kar-kar etc. za-na-ru . Ta. saNalu: fiber; hence a kind of instrument made of reed fiber ?



gis. ur-gu-la : ur-gu-la> ta./ oori kurai: the howls of the jackals or dogs; Ta. oori: hackals; kurai: to bark. Karai: to cery, call out . Also note gula> kura, kuru: huge, lofty; kuru, kuravar: sage. Thus gis.ur-gula must be an intrument that prodiced sounds like the howling of dogs /ackals; perhaps a kind of horn, trumpet.

Gis.dim: dim > Ta. timi : a formulaic sound in music to indicate the general rhythm

Lu ma-gur-ra lu, ulu Ta. aaLu: person; ma-gur-ra> Ta. maakuurai-a. Ta. maa, maram :tree but here boat; gur-ra Ta. kuurai: roof; ma-gur-ra: perhaps ocean-going ships with decks and sails


One thing we notice here is the keen observation of sounds in nature such as those emitted by the animals birds, people and sop forth. Perhaps the Sumerian musicians devised many musical instruments in IMITATION of the different sounds in the natural world. This also shows that the SumeroTamils were NOT lost in the dream world or mystical but rather along their orientation towards the metaphysical, towards the depths, they took good cognizance of the natural world. For them the natural world was not illusory or just a mental fabrication but rather something TRUE and objectively there. The surface structural features of which point towards the deep structures.


The VP in the line mun-bu-bu-i is very significant in terms of the structural and semantic similaries with Classical Tamil for we can easily render it as Ta. munpuypuy-i where puy has the meaning of to pluck, snatch etc ( Also Ta. puy> piiy: to pluck). This clearly indicates that the musical instrument mi-ri-tum must be a kind of stringed instrument , the famous yaaz ( harp of a kind)perhaps. Now assuming mi-ritum> vi-ri-tum, it may also an instrument where the strings were spread out ( miri> viri: to spread out)

More details of such instruments below.

168. tur nar-ra su-dadag ma-dim (A son of musician, with a pure hand, made (them) for me )

    ݾ (em)

Ta. turu naara suur tangtangka (em) ma tiimma (A son of a muscian, with steady hands, made it for me)

169. gis-gu-di gis la-ba-ra-ab-du-a ki-mu-se lu[xx] DU x (The gu-di instrument that had never been played (before by me), ))when it was .. brought to me

    ̾ ..

Ta. kis kuti kis ila bara av iduva kiizmoosee uLu ...

170. u-ne-en sa-bi ba-zu-zu (Of that very instrument I divined its secret)


Ta. uunneen saaybi baa suu.suu

171 nig u-bi-se su-gal-gal-la-gin ba-e-ne-ga-gal-de-en (I was able to set in order as something that had never ever been in my hand)

    Ĺ ¢ Ģ

Ta. nika uubisee sii kaallangin baa yinee kaalkaal-ideen

172. ad pad-da bu-i tu-lu-gi-na/ su-mu la-ba-ra-e (Whether to loosen or to fix the strings on it did not escape (the ability of ) my hand

    ¢ ݧ

Ta. atu paada puuy.i taLarkina suurmoo ila paara ee



168: tur nar-ra su-dadag ma-dim (A son of musician, with a pure hand, made (them) for me )

tur nar-ra> Ta. turu naara> Ta. turu naaratar: the son of a musician. Tur. Ta. turu; small , young. See. Sulgi Hymn B 13> tur-ra mu-de e-dub-a a-a-am ( Since my (very) youth I belonged to the edubba) Later the small sense has given rise to something unsavoury as in Ta. tur. NaaRRam ( bad smell) tun. Maarkkam ( the wrong way). Ta. naar: fibre, strings in musical instruments. Su. nar-ra> Ta. naaratar: Su. su.da(g)dag> Ta. suur.tang.tangku: steady hands, Ta. tangku: to stay firm. Suur>kuur> karam: something that radiates out and hence the limbs and here the hands. > Ta. (em)ma ; better retained in Sk as ma/ maa. See. maa. makaa : my sons( B.G 1:1) Su. dim> Ta.tumu, tumi: to cut

169. gis-gu-di gis la-ba-ra-ab-du-a ki-mu-se lu[xx] DU x (The gu-di instrument that had never been played (before by me), ))when it was .. brought to me

gis gu-di: gudi> ta. kuti: to jump, dance; kuuttu: dance, kuuttan: dancer . perhaps musical instruments that accompany dance. gis la-ba-ra-ab-du-a ki-mu-se : ba-ra> Ta. pala> many? Su. ab > Ta. av: they; bara-ab: pala av: many-they; Su. du-a > Ta. iduva : to place;> Ta. kiizmooceey: at my place.

170 . u-ne-en sa-bi ba-zu-zu (Of that very instrument I divined its secret)

Su. u-ne-en: Ta. u. uu: those yonder; inen. Ta. inan : the collectivity, here a plural marker. Su. sa-bi: Ta. saay-bi : the inside, the secrets. ba-zu-zu> Ta. ma suu.suu: I understood.

171 nig u-bi-se su-gal-gal-la-gin ba-e-ne-ga-ga-de-en (I was able to set in order as something that had never ever been in my hand)

Su. su-gal-gal-la-gin> Ta. sii kaalkaalla-ngin: as if the most elegant (sound) stood there ; kaal-kaal: to stand; ngin> Ta. angin, angan> in,an : a particle of comparison. ba-e-ne> avvinee: there among them ; en> Ta. in: locative suffix as in maratt-in, viidd-in etc. -e the Ta. ee: the isolating particle. Su. ga-ga= gar-gar: Ta. karkaru: to do or Ta. kaal.kaal: to stand up, be there; de-en> Ta. iduyen: here idu is an auxilliary verb to do and en the pronominal suffix that exists even now as -een, an, aan etc.

172. ad pad-da bu-i tu-lu-gi-na/ su-mu la-ba-ra-e (Whether to loosen or to fix the strings on it did not escape (the ability of ) my hand> Ta. atu: that; pad-da> Ta. paadu: to sing or Ta. padu: to experience; pad-da bu.i> padu puy.i: get plucked, get tuned suitably? Su. tu-lu> Ta. taLar: to loosen; la-ba-ra-e> Ta. ila paara ee: paara: place

As we suspected , in Sumerian times music was cultivated to a high degree where there were professional musicians ( nar-ra, Ta. naaratar) and where the profession was also a traditional occupation with sons (tur-ra)continuing their fathers etc. The line 168 is very clear on this. These lines also show that the musicians also possessed expertise to MAKE the musical instruments. There was also the demanding art of fixing or tuning the instruments so that the right tones ( su-gal-gal-la) were produced by them. Thus they must have distinguished between suvaram ( Su. su-bar-ra) and ansuvaram> ( < na-su-bar-ra ). The line 171 also indicates that there were also NEW instruments either invented or introduced from elsewhere.


In the above lines we saw the immense sophistication of musicological studies in Sumeria around the close of the second millennium BC. Music was divided into vocal (gu-es) and instrumental (nar-ra-nam) both requiring lengthy periods of training. On top of that it looks as though there were NEW instruments either introduced from foreign countries or developed from within. There were specialists nar-ra who also possessed expertise in making instruments and tuning them so that the right kind of tones an rhythms emerged. We also saw that perhaps they were already thinking in terms of Mantrayana and that the musical instruments when correctly tuned would yiled gis-su-kar, the divinizing sounds, the ukaaram type etc. We also saw that there were some special instruments used for some rituals of the Kings the in-di lugal-la showing that music was seen a potent sadhana for activating the KuNdalini etc.

The following lines can be said to be a psychological analysis of the impact of music on the soul and how it can serve to create moods of joy and happiness and thereby contribute to making life enjoyable.


173. gi-di gi-sipa-gin nu-um-me (On the reed pipe, unlike the shepherd's pipe )


Ta. kiiti kii sipaGin naa ummee ( the instrument Kiiti that does not resemble that of the shepherd)


174. bad-du ur-sa-e i-si-is ga-ga (The nomad in loud tones gives vent to his grief )

    ú ¢

Ta. paaddu urasayee isaiyisu kaal kaal ( The song (paaddu) in loud tones( urasyee) is put to( kaal kaal) agreeable music( isaiyisu)

175. sa-ge sag-us-bi-gin i-du ( By keeping the heart in a constant mood)


Ta. saangka idu ( The heart (sangka) was kept (idu) as if (ngin) in high spirits (

176. hul-hul-le-me-en dug-du-ge-me-en ( I am of a cheerful disposition and good (natured)

Ta. uvaluvalee maan tungka tungka maan



173. gi-di gi-sipa-gin nu-um-me (On the reed pipe, unlike the shepherd's pipe )

Note: ( The song (paaddu) in loud tones( urasayee) is put to( kaal kaal) agreeable music( isaiyisu)

gi-di> Ta. kiiti, kiitam : musical sound; gi> Ta. kii-t-tu : reed, perhaps a reed pipe; sipa> Ta. sivan: the saviour; only the metaphorical sense survives in the name of Siva, the BEING. Ngin> Ta. in, the case marker of comparison, also a-ngan, i-ngan > anna, inna etc. um-me> Ta. uvamai; analogous to, similar to etc nu-um-me> naa ummee> ila ummee : not similar to etc.

174. bad-du ur-sa-e i-si-is ga-ga (The nomad in loud tones gives vent to his grief )

bad-du > Ta. paaddu: song; ur-sa> Ta urasa, urakka : loudly; i-si-is = isi-isi> Ta. isai.isai: to song continuosly; ga-ga> Ta. kaal kaal : to establish, put etc.

175. sa-ge sag-us-bi-gin i-du ( By keeping the heart in a constant mood)

sa-ge= sag.e Ta.> taan-ee: the self with the implied meaning of the mind, heart. Sag-us-bi: us> Ta. uc.i: greta heights and hence in high spirits. I-du> Ta. edu: to place.

176. hul-hul-le-me-en dug-du-ge-me-en ( I am of a cheerful disposition and good (natured)

hul-hul-le > Ta. uval uvalee; Ta. uval: to be happy, uvakai: smile; me-en> moon , maan : person; dug-du-ge> Ta. tungkatungka: Ta. tungkam : something very specially good.


These lines indicate that Sumerians knew that music has the power to affect the sprit and thereby create MOODS of various sorts, the melancholy, cheerful, contemplative etc. They penetrate the mind and reach the very heart and excite various kinds of FEELINGS and peculiar in that sense. As opposed to the intellectual and discursive that logical thinking cultivates, the music bypasses such functions of the brain and touches some other parts that are concerned with FEELINGS. Perhaps this is why they are taken as very important in religious life.


Before we pass over to over to some philosophical understanding of Sulgi and how music contributes towards culturing of the mind and thereby make one good natured, we should pause a bit on the word 'um-me' that has immense significance for the history of Hermeneutic Logic of Tol.( that became distorted as Nyaya ) . This word occurs in the line 

173: gi-di di-si-pa-gin nu-um-me (On the reed pipe unlike the shepherd's pipe)

The um-me which means here 'similar to or analogous with" is certainly the Ta.ummu : to unite with, to be the same etc. From this we can derive, allowing for m --> v, um-me> uv-me > uvamai: the technical term that occurs in Indian logic and to which two chapters are devoted in Tolkaappiyam (c. 3rd cent, BC) The Uvamayiyal in Tol. is not only the beginning of Hermeneutical Logic but also Indian Poetics , the aNiyiyal or the Alangkaara Sastra / where even alangkaara is old Tamil ( Su. alan: statues, elements used for decoration, kaar: to set up)

With these let us move on to some interesting observation of Sulgi on the impact of music on peoples mind and how people are different culture-wise

177. gir-zalnam-nun-na u-zal-zal-le-me-en (I pass my days in high class enjoyment)

     ɿ  Ģ 

Ta. Kiir saal nunnanam uu celcelli maan

178. lu-ulu ni-te-a-ni-se gestu he-ga-ga (People(only) care for their own self)

    - ɢ 

Ta. uLu-uLu niiteeyanisee gestu ee kaalkaal  ( people in general care or study only  understanding related to self) 

179. nig-bi    nig-igi-rin-na-ka (Their possessions are the matters to which they turn their eyes) 


Ta. Nikambi nika ingi irinnaka

180. zagnam-ti-la     sag im-gi-a (The vigour of life is (thereby) blocked up)


Ta. Saaku tillanam saan immiya (he jest for living is reduced)


77. gir-zalnam-nun-na u-zal-zal-le-me-en (I pass my days in high class enjoyment)

gir-zal; gir > Ta. kiir> Ta. kirantam : written texts. Also see :ki-gir-gin-na-ka> Ta. kiizkiirkaNNaka: library: the place of texts of important understanding. his word has come to mean 'language' in genral as sans-krit, pra-krit etc. zal > a. saal: cultured, of high taste. Note a. saalbu : cultured qualities; saalac ciRanta: extremely fine etc. 

'nam-nun-na' to be read as nun-na-nam> Ta.nunnanaam or nuNNanam: something very fine or lofty. See Ta. nun, nuni: very lofty, at the top etc 

u-zal-zal: Ta. uu, uvaa: a measure of time. Also note uL: that which is i.e. in time. zal-zal> celcel: to pass by; cel: to pass by, tto flow. Note jalam, salam : flowing water; Malay: jalan: to walk, the path 

178. lu-uluni-te-a-ni-segestu he-ga-ga (People(only) care for their own self) 

lu-ulu> Ta. uLuuLu: this way indicating the plural i.e. through duplicating the noun is very ancient and still retained in Malay( to which Sumerian is also related) Perhaps a primitive feature in many languages. 

ni-te-a-ni-se: a complex phrase where '-se' is a case marker that later became 'ku, kee' etc. Tol. counts this as the Third case, the 'ku en veeRRumai' .Su. ni : self but in Ta. nii: second person singular pronoun. ni-te-a-ni: for his own self : a-ni>aanin: his; -i > Ta. -in: genitive case marker. 

gestu > Ta. kattu as in akattiyam: deep metaphysical understanding; akastiyan: one who possess such as understanding

he-ga-ga> Ta. ivkaalkaal? :  establishes now , produces now etc. he> iv, in:  here, now ?

79. nig-bi    nig-igi-rin-na-ka (Their possessions are the matters to which they turn their eyes)

nig Ta. nika-mam: a collection of merchandise?; igi-irin-na-ka : imai iruinnaka: that which are available for the eyes or the senses i.e. the physical objects

80. zag nam-ti-la     sag im-gi-a (The vigour of life is (thereby) blocked up) 

zag> Ta. aak.u,aakkam: the productive energy; nam-ti-la, ti-la-nam > Ta. tillanam: the living, tillai: the fundamental place of the origin of everything. sag. Ta. caan ,sanna: slowly or in small degrees; in-gi-a> Ta. immiya: that which is very small 

Thus we see here Sulgi classifying culture into higher and lower and certainly also people in terms of these dispositions(and nothing to do with genetics) People in general are different in their tastes and general dispositions and hence personal maturity. The ordinary people care only for self and physical objects, objects that are placed irin in front of their eyes, which is used in the general sense of ' perceptual sense', the pratyaksa (Ta. porutu .aksa: meet the eyes or senses, Su. igi-tag-a) Thus we see Sulgi operating quite clearly with the notions of ordinary and selfish individuals who are in fact Lokayatas and those who graduate from this to a higher and more spiritual culture and who are inclined to spend their time in  the appreciation of Music ( naaranam , kuuvisai) etc as well as refined literature. 

The range and depth of analysis of both instrumental ( naaranam) and vocal music (kuuvisai) clearly show that SumeroTamil culture even in the distant 3rd millennium period was already very advanced, well past the Neolithic. Tamil Culture and along with it the Temple centered Agamic Culture where right from the beginning the fine arts were cultivated with an UNDERSTANDING of their spiritualizing capacities, was already the most advanced culture in the world even in the distant past, the 3rd millennium period. Though archeological evidences may be lacking so far but there are many TEXTUAL evidences in support of this. For one thing the bewildering scholastic qualities of Tolkappiyam (c. 3rd.cent BC) and the highly refined and chaste poetry of CaGkam epoch could NOT have arisen within a matter of a few centuries - they must have taken millenniums of original and bold and continues analytical thinking and academic criticism.

There is a line thinking in Sulgi here, which also shows the beginnings of the typical Indian philosophical thinking viz. an early understanding of the commoners as Lokayatas i.e. people who care only for the immediately perceptual physical objects. The term nig-igi-rin-na-ka with similar terms that Sulgi also uses in the same text igi-tag-ga. The first term is Ta. Nika imai irinna-aka: with things (Ta. nil-a) which are placed (irin) in front of the eyes i.e. things that are in front of the eyes or the senses. Thus we have the beginnings of the birth of object distinctions of physical and metaphysical and therewith the launching of the essence of the Indian philosophical dynamics. The ordinary people are not only people who are selfish and who care only for their material possessions but they are also, philosophically speaking here, Lokayatas, people for whom the real is only the immediately perceptual to the senses. Thus we already see that the ordinary people are limited in their VISION, they can see only the physical objects that are placed as available to the senses and hence not the metaphysical objects which require transductive perceptions to acknowledge their reality.

It is of utmost importance to note here that Sulgi links up the higher culture, the taste for fine arts and so forth, with capacities for transductive perceptions. The fine arts then are the Sadhana for OPENING up the VISAGE so that a person comes to SEE the presence of metaphysical objects and which is the central cultural dynamics of Agamic Hinduism where the whole temple is organized as for that - opening up the eyes so that even the metaphysical objects are seen as there.

With these hidden notions wrested out, let us now consider the next few lines where some additional insights related to the fine arts in general are available.

181. ze kur nam-gu-ga-ke lu la-ba-an-tag-tag-e  (And even in the misery of the country under oppression, the ordinary people do not try to escape )

      째  ̾째 

Ta. See kunRu kuuvnam kaalakkee uLu ila avaN taaktaakkee

182. kala-ga NE-ni-ta nir-gal-la-me-en  ((But) I am a stalwart, who through his daring (achieves) nobleness )

     Ǹ NE-ɢ

Ta. KaaLakan NE-nitta NeerkaLLa maan

183. mu-mah-a-ni-ta nir-gal-e  (So that) through his fame is a hero 


184. nig he-im-gu-ul-gu-ul-e/ a-na-as ba-ni-ib-lal-e (I did everything greatly. Why should I take away from it?

    ħħ, š  

Ta. Nika iim koolakoolavee , ennavaasu paNNi iv allallee ( I did everything greatly, why should I suffer miseries at all? )


 181. ze kur nam-gu-ga-ke lu la-ba-an-tag-tag-e 
(And even in the misery of the country under oppression, the ordinary people do not try to escape )

Ze> Ta. see, cee : a particle of time as in vanta-c-cee, poonac-cee ( still in use especially in Tamil Brahmin dialect); kur> ta. KunRu: hill, Ta. KuuRu: a country, nam-gu-ga-ke > Ta. kuuvnam kaalakee: at the time when lamenting gets established; gu. Ta. kuuv: to cry, lament etc. ba-an. Ta. avaN : an adverb of place and time meaning then, there etc? tag-tag-e > ta. taakku taakkee: to attack. Su. na, la> Ta. ila, ala etc: a particle of negation ( Note the na is still retained in Sk)

182. kala-ga NE-ni-ta nir-gal-la-me-en  ((But) I am a stalwart, who through his daring (achieves) nobleness )

kala-ga> Ta. kaaLa-njaan: Ta. kaaLai: the strong bull, a youth of such physical powers. Ga> ngaan, njaan > Ta. kaa, naan.

Nir-gal-la me-en > Ta. neerkaLLa maan : one who follows the RIGHT way and hence great; Ta. neer: straight, Ta. neeriyar: he who goes the right way, the way of true justice. gal-la> ta. kaLLa: the one (-a) who is great ( kaL) . The term kaLLar, because of similitude with Su. gal-la , the thieves and rogues has suffered a misinterpretation. But perhaps > kaLLar> kaNNar as in mutukaNNan Saattan retains this original meaning Also note Ta. kaNavaan : the great ones ( gal-la-me-en> kaNavaan?)

183. mu-mah-a-ni-ta nir-gal-e  (So that) through his fame is a hero )

mu: Ta. moo : here fame; ( Note Ta. peer mans both name and fame) mu-mah: Ta. muu maa, moo mahaa : great name

184. nig he-im-gu-ul-gu-ul-e/ a-na-as ba-ni-ib-lal-e (I did everything greatly. Why should I take away from it?

Su. gu-ul-gu-ul> Ta. kool kool; Ta. kool: great Also see Su. gu-lu > Ta. kuru: great; Su. a-na> Ta. enna: what, een why; -as> Ta. aasa> aaka: a particle of purpose as in ethaRku-aaka etc; lal-le> allallee : sufferings.


In these lines and above we see Sulgi linking music with invigorating the spirits and hence makingone not only energetic but also brave and courageous with the will to fight back injustice, foreign subjugation and general decay. Thus music is also linked with KuNdalini Yoga, the science of activating the Coiled Power within and perhaps for which reason certain musical rituals (Indi, were isolated) and appropriated as only for the kings. When the King is endowed with immense KuNdalini, it was believed that not only the King will be vigorous but also the brave Nir-gal, the one who would NOT deviate from the path of justice.

Concluding Remarks:

We bring to conclusion this study with the hope that it provides historical insights of an extremely useful kind to study further the essence of Agamic Hinduism and why the fine arts were given a pre-eminent place in this culture, a tendency that we still see today.