Hermeneutics and Metaphysics 46-50

Essays by Dr K. Loganathan

[46. Flux Flow Change and Dance; 47. The Spirit and Orderliness in Nature; 48 The Word Magic of the Sumerians -1; 49. The Word Magic of the Sumerians -2]


Hermeneutics and Metaphysics

46: Flux Flow Change and Dance

By bringing together Sumero Tamil Vedic Tamil and Classical Tamil texts and noting some fundamental trends in thinking , I was quite surprised to note the presence of the notion of flux and change  , the view popularized by Heraclitus in the West, already present in Sulgi's hymn ( 2000 B.C) It appears to me that this philosophical view metaphysical grasp is not only something fundamental but also universal. It appears to me that while the Buddhist notion of Dependent Origination is one line of development of this notion that underlies Sulgi's philosophy and also that off Rig Veda, it is Saivism with it Dancing God and BEING as the source of the Pancakrityas  (five fold activities) that retains best the original insights of Sulgi, perhaps one of
the most important thinkers of the ancient world.

I shall begin with some linguistic considerations revolving around Su. bal-bal-a and Rig Vedic "praprinjyati" that occurs in the Hymn 2.3

vaayo tava praprinjcati dhenaa jigaati daasushe / uruucii somapiitaye

O Lord of cosmic vitality, your inspiring voice resounds all through the thoughts and feelings of your devotees, the preceptors of divine wisdom, who have tasted the sweetness of your  favors.

I have reconstructed this as follows

Vayoo! tava piraparanjaati tina  jigati taasu-se/ uruci-i somapiitaye

Vayu! You are the foundation of the universe and the daily life of your devotees; let them taste the juice that flows out from Soma

The key word here is "paraparanjaati" which links with Ta. parapanjam, vanjcam meaning the universe, the cosmos and so forth. The are alternative terms such as aNdam, peeraNdam and so forth which have  etymologically  a different history. This term contains within it 'para-para" which is also noted in such terms as "paramparai, paarampariyam ' and so forth. This term that duplicates 'para' seems to be a later variant of the Sumerian: bal-bal-a & Su. bal-a

We  can cite the following evidences for this :


6. sa-bal-bal-a egir-u-da inim su a-bal-e-de ( In order to pass down word to the generations of the future)

*Ta. caan parampara etiruda enam collal itee  ( " )

67. za-pa-ag-bi-se gaba-mu ba-ra-ba-ra-gal (  would direct my course towards the roar)

*Ta.  japambicee kavanama parapara kaal  ( I would hasten towards the  roar carefully)

The 'sa-bal-bal-a egir-uda' are  the people of  the future generations. But why this expression where 'bal'
means to cross over as below:

Udug hul

80. kun e-ka bal-da-mu-de ( When I would cross the threshold of the house)

The basic meaning of 'bal' is to cross over and this is retained in Ta. paal-am, the bridge, that which allows one to cross over a river etc.

Thus "bala-bala" would mean crossing over repeatedly and ci-ati (caati) as in paraparinj-cati are the elements of living things that are subject to crossing over repeatedly. Thus this expression compresses within it what was expressed by Sulgi as "sa bal-bal-a", things or people who suffer historicity ,  dying and being  born again. Here we must note that while is in process, it is NOT DISCONTINUOUS , yes things die and are reborn but with a CONTINUITY between successive generations and with which comes the notion of TRADITION, the santaanam, sampradayam and so forth. Something from that which dies is passed over thus constituting a continuity across the the change. It is at this point that we have the genesis of another word "para-ab-ta" (SK prabtam, Ta. praabtam). With this we have the birth of Karma doctrine made central in the metaphysical thinking of the Buddhists. The word 'karma" derived from Su. gal/gar etc. shows another kind of development : what passes over is related to the actions effected, deeds done. The actions effected by a person leave TRACES of a kind and at the point of death while everything is turned ash or earth, there is something that survives death, passes over and constitutes the conditions of its rebirth

The issues raised by this view constitutes the substance of metaphysical thinking not alone in India but all over the world.

There are NEGATIVE reactions to this: the mayavaatam of the popular Vedanta dismisses it as as purely verbal, kaRpitam or simply illusions and delusions and the further metaphysical questions have no substance. The sautrantikas Buddhists allow only change, flux , flow but nothing BEHIND this as the unchanging, a view that Saivites uphold with their notion of flux and change as the DANCE and hence the BEING behind all as the DANCER, the Siva Nadarajah.

The Divine and the Demonic

Another metaphysical view implicit even in Sulgi is that while all us are inescapably caught in this process, the Samsaram,  we can ESCAPE from this imprisonment  and that possibility remains as our own possibility. For these process contain within themselves TWO kinds of movements -- one  towards the Divine and another towards the Demonic. All of us caught between these diverse pulls and that unless we gravitate towards the Divine , we will never be able to escape from this capture of the historical, of traditions.

This notion appears to be also available in Rig Veda itself -- there also metaphysical entities , the dhosa vastu, that tends to pull the individuals into dirt, unclean, the demoniac, the ghostly and forces them into a life of diseases and painful and premature deaths.

The common denominator of all religions is to ensure that people avoid being pulled into the evil and maintain themselves in the metaphysical journey towards genuine spirituality .

This view of life and the functions of religions is captured by Sulgi's "inda-sim" the attainment divine heights  and not the opposite.( sim Ta. simaiyam: peak)

Hermeneutics and Metaphysics

47: The Spirit and Orderliness in Nature

AruNandi's combat and his brilliant disconstructions of the very subtle views of Lokayata shows how in fact Hindus deal with contrary views. As also shown in the Sri Bashyam of Ramanuja, the
the Purva Paksa or the initial view is stated objectively and then it is disconstructed and in that disconstrution, the Siddhanta is allowed to emerge. The word 'sid-anta" is conclusive position
(an-ta : the uppermosr , Su. an-ta ; in the sky,or from sky) as a result thinking or rationally
considering all the relevant aspects ( Su. sid , Ta. cet, cint- : to think)

This is what we see in the following , certainly one of the most brilliant  verse where over and
above the presence of the creative that announces the presence of BEING as the Spirit, the presence of Niyati or Orderliness is also  pointed as another evidence for the eternal  and active
presence of BEING and in the course of which there is also the recovery of the Fundamental
Ontology , that Pati (BEING) pacu ( the countless number of psychic entities) and Pacam ( the
various finitising elements) are already there as entities that have NO POINT OF ORIGIN. All these things are ALREADY THERE and hence the whole of the cosmic drama simply a panorama of these
things taking various transformations, various names and forms.

We do not have the Creator God of the Semitic faiths but rather a GOD as the Supreme Dancer, He who takes an infinite array of forms by transmutations and permutations, He who wears an
iinfite array of disguises or veedams and that also for INSTRUCTING the creatures so that they would LEARN , become ILLUMINATED and thus freed from ignorance producing binders to enjoy the Civattuvam, the spirituality inherent to them as their essence.

Of course, like the Lokayatas , one CAN DENY and opt for a way of life where one can pretend
that there is no BEING , the world is simply an anarchy where everything goes without any control
and regulation including the ethical. But as Arunadi points out here though this is possible for anyone to do, but it will be INAUTHENTIC and contrary to TRUTH should they choose to live that way.

He drives in the point that human actions are NOT simply mechanical responses for they are
essentially INTENTIONAL and this intentionality itself has evolution both ontogenetic and
phylogenetic. The Karmas that intentional actions inscribe on some substratum , being insentient cannot on their own accord chose the physical body they can operate with and generate as a thing
in the world. And same goes for the physical body itself which as physical is insentient. Therefore
we can intuit the presence of BEING along with Niyati , a Principle of Justice in the actions
effected and bodies assumed by anmas in their phenomenal presence.

The creative processes in nature deny the rigid and unchanging mechanical  nature that positivists presume in the name of laws of nature. The creativity in nature denies the mechanical kind of presumptions and points out the presence of the spiritual. But his creativity does not mean anarchy where in the name of FREEDOM anything goes. No this is NOT the case -- there is NIyati in the world processes where the actions effected have an ethical qualities and what pertains as consequences of actions are ordained by BEING and this is how BEING brings about the evolution of man into higher kind of creatures.

There cannot be the evolution of creatures into the higher  kind of species and evidenced by the
higher kinds of intentionality if not for the presence of BEING


anaatiyeel amaivinRenin  mala
    maayai kanmam aNuc civan
anaati; kanmam aNukkaL ceyya
    aRintu kanam udaR ceyaa;
anaati kaariyaam udaRkaL
    aceetanam manaiyaa aRintu
anaati yaati amaikkaveendum
    amaippinoodu anaatiyee


Lokayata! You say that in view of the fact that karma is uncreated and eternally  there, there is no necessity to invoke the presence of BEING as the ONE who regulates the workings of Karma, as the karma on its own accord can function thus. Well listen! It is NOT karma alone  that's uncreated but also the physical substance that becomes concretival and mental stuff, the innumerable finite anmas and BEING. It is the finite psychical entities that effect actions and NOT the physical bodies. The actions effected are different from pure mechanical responses as there is consciousness or understanding or INTENTIONALITY accompanying actions. The bodies being purely physical are simply evolutes of preexistent possibilities and in this they being insentient are incapable of choosing the appropriate karmic-traces that would generate them. The karmic traces that come into being at the point some actions are  committed, being purely traces inscribed in the mental stuff and hence insentient cannot on their own CHOOSE the appropriate physical form consistent with its organization. Hence there must be BEING, as the Intelligent and Spiritual Thing that brings together the karmic traces and bodies that are appropriate to them. This way of functioning of BEING is also anaati, i.e. has no point of origin.


Now begins a certain subtlety that establishes the Fundamental Ontology  that distinguishes Saiva Siddhanta from other schools of not only India but also world thought. This articulation of Fundamental Ontology also emerges by way seeking an explanation for human behavior.

Lokayatas now grant that there is Karma, understood perhaps as mantric complexes that get
inscribed in somesubstratum say the mental-stuff and configure the different bodies that emerge in the world. But it is assumed that Karma functions mechanically -- certain kind of mantric complexes on their own seek out a material substratum and  generate  physical bodies  by giving them  a form and function. So in this way , assumption of the truth of Karma  does not require the positing of BEING, the INTELLIGENT AGENT of the genesis of physical bodies and creatures  attaining one consistent with their Prapta Karma. The karma-traces inscribed can take care of it all.

Now Arunandi notes a serious problem in this by noting that actions effected by the creatures are
INTENTIONAL and hence not purely mechanical reflexes and responses. And furthermore there in
EVOLUTION of INTENTIONS not only within a person as he grows but also among creatures . The higher creatures show intentions that are culturally HIGHER compared to the lower, something also quite obvious among human beings.

The presence of intentionality in actions means of course that they are effected by intelligent
creatures hence psychic entities and which are not to be confused with the physical bodies they
assume. And these creatures must also be anati - i.e. have NO  point of origin in view of the fact there is EVOLUTION of INTENTIONALITY not only ontogenitically but also phylogenetically. The
presence of INTENTIONALITY in such creature also indicate that they are FINITE -- aNu -- circumscribed in intelligence so that along with UNDERSTANDING there is also  IGNORANCE and
because of which they  are intentional. If their understanding is already Absolute and hence free of ignorance, they will NOT generate any intentions at all and effect actions.

This means they are INFECTED with aaNavam, that which breeds DARKNESS and  hence
IGNORANCE. Thus this must also then be  taken as anati, that which has no point of origin.

Now this also means that the maayai -- the stuff of both the physical and mental evolutes is also
already there  as at  the earliest violation of the darkness by BEING there is already a kind of body, perhaps very primitive. And also this  means that there is already karma as well for there cannot be a genesis of a body without the configuring elements.

Granted this much, the objections raised by the Lokayatas remain still unanswered. Do we  need
BEING for the  dynamics of the world process along these evolutionary lines?

AruNandi says yes and he reasons as follows. The Karmic traces are inscribed and as a result of
intentional actions  perhaps on a physical but subtle substratum. But this being insentient , cannot
on its own  choose a preexistent physical body and bring to birth as there in the world. And
similarly a preexistent physical body cannot choose on its own that particularly psychic entity that
has the appropriate karmic formula as part of its bodiless structure. And thus if there is CONSISTENCY in the body assumed and the evolutionary level of INTENTIONALITY of a psychic entity , there must BEING who brings them together.

Hermeneutics and Metaphysics

48.The Word-Magic of the Sumerians-1

At the conclusion of studies of some Sumerian incantations, it becomes a bit clear to me that over and above the use of language for a variety of practical purposes that Tolkappiyar studied as belonging to KuuRRiyal, the Science of Speech Acts that J.L Austin initiated recently in the West, we have also the magical uses of it especially in connection with curing diseases both  physical and mental. It appears that the Sumerians not only discovered the Mantric  Powers of certain words  but also cultivated it to the level of a science and which flourishes in Hinduism to this day. The various of Kavasa literature and the Mantrayana of the Tamil Siddhas ( the poets of Power) is a testimony to this. This is NOT specific to Hinduism -- it is prevalent in all religions, including the primitive where even therapeutic applications are available. The soul-curing effect of certain mantras seems to have been  the strategy of the witch doctors all over world  in the deep past as well in the present. In TamilNad we have the use of Koranic verses as mantras of this sort. In Malaysia the Muslim bomohs -- the magicians -- use ancient Sk slokas to ward off evil. In Sumatra we have the Jaggamma mantras still in use ( I have a collection of these mantras written on bamboo slits)

The question that I want to address is : How is that some words have Mantra qualities about them or at least people belief so? Another related question is : why this is part of the sacred  lore of mankind?

Sid, Vid and Veda

Let me begin with an analysis of an important word 'sid' that connects the Sumerians with the Tamil culture and   Vedic culture and hence Hinduism in general. This word has many occurrences and the following is crucial.

55. (d)gestin-an-na-ka dub-sar-mah arali-ke sir-ku nam-sub ku-ga mu-un-da-an-sid ( Gestin-anna , the great scribe of the Nether world, recited with each of them the liturgy of the holy incantation)

The verbal complex "mu-un-da-an sid" ( Ta. mun-taan cittu) can be taken to mean : he ( taan) brought forward (mun) the incantation. And the incantations are divine songs that would secure well being. ( sir-ku  nam-sub Ta, ciir koo cubanam) . And it is NOT the priest, the sangu ( >Ak. samu, Ta. caami) who recites it but rather Gestin Anna ( Ta. Agastya)  who is the Great Teacher  ( dub-sar- mah) of the concealed metaphysical realms ( arali Ta. aralai: the seas, the fort etc.). Thus we have a practice where the priest, the Caami, becomes only the mouth piece for the action of Agastya who would  take possession ( Ta. aaveesam) of the person and making use of his mouth would recite the mantras that would drive  away the evil spirits that afflict the person and make him suffer physical and mental illness.

The word 'sid' which as a verb means 'to recite", as a noun means the school curriculum as well as the promulgation of a king, the laws of the country as in the following sentences:

17. ji-ji-i ga-ga sid-nig-sid-de / zag im-mi-til-til ( And striving and toiling went through their course in all the science of numbers)

*Ta. jii-jii-i kaal kaal cittu niga cittee / caakai immee tiir-tiir  ( They established working very hard to attain the limits of understanding all knowledge, great knowledge

The context of the school and 'sid-nig-sid' as what was taught and learned as gestu-gizzal-la ( kattu kiiccaalla) i.e. through recitations  should mean " knowledge, great knowledge"

We have another occurrence of the word with a different semantic twist below:

220. gal-zu nam-lugal an-ta-gal-bi-me-en ( Being intelligent, I am (at) the peak of kingship)

221. sid-nig-sid-mu uku sag-si-ga ( To my administration peoples spontaneously acquiesced)

In connection with knowledgeable kingship ( nam-lugal Ta. uLukaLnam) the word 'sid-nig-sid' is better taken as "political promulgation" and in which we see the beginnings of the institutions or the notions of LAWS of a country.

Thus "sid" means as a verb recitations and as  a noun the contents of such recitations and which is  the accumulated understanding that is transferred to the next generation through being taught is a school and which in another vein become the law-like elements of a country.

With these preliminaries we can see that the word Veda is a late variant of this : sid> vid> Vittai, Vidya,Veda etc. where we have the disintegration of the inital s- that is frequently met with.  Thus Veda as verb means 'to recite, to sing loudly etc." and as contents of what is recited, knowledge understanding especially the metaphysical type and which can serve almost as the laws of the country.

Sangu , Ak. Samu and Brahmanah

The word for the priest ( among many others ) is Sangu which appears to have become Ak. samu and in which form it exists in Ta. caami, the divine person especially the Brahmanahs also called aiyer ( Tol .aiyar yaattar karaNam enpa : they say the aiyers created the various rituals)

Thus at least among the Tamils, the brahmanahs as Caamies and Aiyers preserves a tradition of this ancient incantors of mantras , the Sangu of the Sumerians. Such people as the ones who can become possessed by Agastya , become divine in themselves , at least during those moments  the recitation is effected.

Thus Vedas , though immensely sophisticated in their understanding of astrophysical and physical realities , are ultimately  later developments of the Sumerian Udug Hul,  Er-S Semma ( Ta. eer Cembu) and such other incantations that were very popular during the Old Babylonian period. It may be possible that it is the Mantra Quality of these Vedas that led to isolate them and a group of people instituted for its preservation with exclusive rights over them  preci[iatating perhaps with Varnasrama Dharma

Hermeneutics and Metaphysics

49. The Word-Magic of the Sumerians- 2

In these incantations there is an analysis of an interesting sort  that  is  quite useful even today to understand the religious phenomenon and why it is double-edged --  ennobling on the one hand and  dehumanizing  on  the other. While it is true that there has been a lot of atrocities the crippling of human freedom and so forth in the name of religion,  it has been also the most civilizing force that transformed the beastly man  into  the loving and who extends love even to animals and vegetation.

The Incantations disclose that the priest of those ancients days well understood the phenomenon  of "possession' that we see to this day in the religion practices  of the average person  and in all religions. There is a  magical substratum in all religions and which appears to extend even to the higher metaphysical.  The Power of words to cure and hence certain utterances becoming potent healers of both mental and physical ailments and in some cases even mental aberrations  is understood in terms  of the phenomenon of various spirits taking possession of the person,  where the spirits are either benign ( dingir ) or evil ( dingir hul> diwer ol> devil?). The incantations are meant to drive away the evil spirits and install the good ones and hence certain chants nderstood to have this POWER to cure and so forth

The Suruti as  the Words of the Possessed

There is a whole range of sruties in the Indian circles  and which are said to be words of the Gods and hence auprushiya, not the language of the human but rather the deities. The terms such as "Bagavath Gita"  "Siva Gita" "Upanishad" ( Upa-ni-caRRu : utterance from the heavens) the Tantras or Agamas  as discourses  between Siva and Sakti  or Siva and Kumara and so forth betray such an understanding of a certain species of literature. KaNNudaiya VaLLal recognizes this quality in his definition of Sruti ( Ta. sur-uti: that which causes the emergence (uti)  of metaphysical illuminations ( sur) )The following verse captures this notion. In taking about the Suruti character of the verses of Thirunjana Sambantar he says the following:

ozivil odukkam -10\

caayaa purudanaip pool aanantamee taditta
maayaa vayiri manamaaNda -- neeyavurai
aaveesar viirar aracar madlaaLar
caavaanantarkku cari:

Like the mirage-like archetypal forms that emerge from the formless Metaphysical Space,  the possibility of the experience of infinite bliss descends down and taking over the mind  serves as the dispeller of confusions and uncertainties. The words of such gurus are similar to the actions of the possessed individuals ( aaveesar), great warriors ( viirar), great monarchs ( aracar) , the ones who are ready to die to get  their loved ones ( madalaaLar) and for  whom even death is something blissful

Thus the phenomenon of possession is not just  something that is experienced by the Shaman ( Su. sangu Ta. caami) but rather by anyone who is extraordinary and in that also abnormal

The Sangu ( cammi) as the Possessed

In the incantations we have studied we find a clear reference to this phenomenon in the following lines.

41. ga-e lu (d)en-ki-ga me-an ( I am Enki's man)

42. ga-e kin-gi-a-ni me-en ( I am his messenger)

*Ta. Gaayee uLu ENkiizka maan ( I am Enki's man)

*Ta. Gayee kaaNki aani maan ( I am his deputy)

43. nig-tu-ra-a-ni lu til-la-ni-se ( To heal the man in his illness)

44. en-gal (d)en-ki-ke mu-un-si-in-gi-en-am ( the great lord Enki sent me)

*Ta. nika turra aani uLu tillanii se (To cure that man from his severe afflictions)

*Ta. ENkaL ENkiizka municinmiiLen aam ( The great Lord Enki impelled me to return to him)

45. tu ku-ga-a-ni tu-ga gal-la-am ( Since he made his holy incantations into my incantations)

*Ta. too kooka aani tooGaa kaalla aam ( " )

 (Gap of 3 lines restored from other tablets)

45^ ka ku-ga-a-ni ka-mu gal-la ( causing his pure mouth to be my pure mouth)

*Ta.  kaa kooka aanii kaamoo kaalla ( causing his divine mouth to be my mouth )

46^ us ku-ga-a-ni us-mu gal-la-na ( his pure spell to be my pure spell)

*Ta. ussu kooga aani ussumoo kaallana ( His divine breath to be my breath)

47^ su ku-ga-a-ni su-mu gal-la-na ( his pure prayer to be my pure prayer)

*Ta. cuur kooka aanii cuurmoo kaallana ( his divine hands to be my hands)

The meanings are quite obvious. The priest in his capacity as the Shaman , the Caami , is NOT functioning as the ordinary individuals but rather as the DEPUTY , or the Nabi, the messenger, as said elsewhere, and  Kin-gi, the supervisor  as above  -- one who is POSSESSED by a deity , here Enki Enlil and so forth and made to deputize Him and so forth. Though the hands body the mouth and so forth remain as  of the priest  in way but during moments of possession they become that of the deity that takes possession of it. The mouth becomes the divine mouth of the the deity as do the hands feet etc.

But what is the importance of this for curing the sickness?

The words that issue forth during such possessions where the priest remains simply a media become  divine incantations ( Su. tu ku-ga> too  kooka ). It also appears that there  can be pretenses to this and hence such gitas not really divine. However when the possession if total and complete, where the individual self is caused to withdraw completely such pretenses do not  exist, the words that emerge are really the words of the Deity.  The deities'  pure prayer becomes the priests pure prayer and hence efficient in driving away the evil spirits from the mind and body.

The Possessed Nature of the Religious

Such an understanding of the religious  where it borders the magical exists till today not only in Hinduism ( I have witnessed some such sessions  in Malaysia where the practice is quite widespread) but in all religions. The caamis who practice Caamiyaaddam or the VeRiyaaddam of the Cangkam epoch are trusted by the nonphilosophic individuals and some of the priests exploit the credulous by pretending to provide cures for their miseries. And as is the case in all departments of human life, there are the genuine as well the greedy pretenders  and KaNNudaiya VaLLal has described in his book the IlakkaNam, the identifying characteristics of the genuine caamis from the false.

The Deities and their Words.

Another interesting implication of the Sumerian analysis and understanding of the incantations and their efficacy is this. There are words spoken by ordinary individuals  and which are simply discourses  in the stream of ordinary life. Bit these incantations are different - they are not only Mantras, magical but they so only because  they are words of the deities -- divine words which are auprushaya because of that. The deities or archetypes that take possession of the mind and body of  a priest or an individual SPEAK and it is such speech that  are the mantras that have the capacity  to drive away the evil spirits. In other words the meanings of such mantras are NOT the ordinary intentional meanings of the priest-person but rather the Divine-Utterance and hence BEYOND being questioned etc.

We can see now why such utterances produced at historically different times and different contexts are complied and revered as the words of God Himself and kept away from the rational analysis and so forth, and some individuals bunching together creating various religions by a process of fixation and regimentation with the believe that such words cannot be false as they sacred etc.