Sumerian Incantations


Dear  Friends,

I am starting this series because of the request of a number of young scholars  who want to be familiar with the original  Sumerian texts that I use in my studies especially Archaic Tamil and now the Rig Veda. As my studies of Rig progresses I become more and more convinced of the fact that it is Archaic Tamil of a kind, something however we cannot recognize unless we make references to the Sumerian words and phrases grammatical features and so forth. While I recognize the divisions Dravidian Aryan Indo-European and so forth  are dissolving and thus requiring a new classificatory system for Indian languages , I also see that considerable amount of careful studies must precede before such a change can be brought about in Indological studies.

My sincere hope is that such Sumerian texts, not that easily  available especially with commentaries linking to the Dravidian and other Indological themes, will be used by other scholars as well.

The Incantations are taken from the superb publication "Forerunners to Udug-Hul"   by Markham J. Geller , and published by Franz Steiner Verlag Wiebaden GMBH,  Stuttgart, 1985

The tablets used for reconstruction are said to belong to the Old Babylonian Period  but the compositions themselves may actually belong the period of the Third Ur Dynasty  ( 2300 B.C. -- 2000 B.C)

I shall select only a few incantations out of the hundreds available  and even at a casual glance we can see that these constitute the Siddha tradition spread all over India and particularly well developed in the South where that tradition is still alive. We see  here medicine and psychotherapy mixed very visibly with Magic but with a sophisticated understanding of the origins of diseases , how they spread and so forth.


Notes: The numbers given are as in the book above where I have omitted the references to the tablets used.

209 en e-nu-ru ( Enuru incantation)
*Ta. en en -uru

Notes: Ta. en ; utterance as a noun, to tell , narrate etc as a verb. The 'uru' is  Ta. urai: to tell etc. The Ta. uru also means,  to utter  contniously as in Ta. urupoodutal. Thus  here while 'en' can be the utterance or incantation, en-uru may actually be recitation, incantation

210 ga-e lu sanga (d) en-ki-ga me-en ( I am the priest of Enki)

*210. ngaayee aaLu saanga  ENkiizaka maan ( " )

notes: ga-e = ngaayee> njaanee ,  naanee : I myself . The sanga/ sangu seems to have become  obsolete  in Tamil unless we acn  locate in the frozen form Ta. caangkiiyam : rituals ; en-ki > Ta. eenkiiz:  the Lord ( eeN > veeN, veeL: deity) of the Earth (ki, ku, kiiz)

211. ga-e ku-ga (d)dam-gal-nun-na me-en ( I am the purifier of Damgalnunna)

*Ta. ngaayee kooka tamkaLnunna maan (  " )

Notes: ku . Ta. koo ; resplendent and hence derivatively  deity; "tamkaLnunna " means the loftiest (nunna)  and great (kaL) Woman  ( tam) and hence  the Great Mother Goddess.

212. ga-e [.........] (d) asal-lu-hi me-en ( I am the .................... of Asalluhi )

*Ta. 212 ngaayee [...........] (d) asal-lu-hi maan  (  '' )

213. ga-e lu - (d) namma me-en ( I am the man? of Namma )

*Ta. ngaayee  aaLu Namma maan ( " )

Notes: Namma may be  the same as Nanna or Nanna Su'en, the moon god. In Cangkam classics we have a personal name of Nannan. The word Ta. namban is also a term meaning god.

214. ga-e lu (d)nanse me-en ( I am the man of Nanse)

* Ta. ngaayee  aaLu Nanjci  maan ( ")

Notes: nanse > nancil(?).  This mean  the plough and the diety  Vaaliyoon or Balaraaman is supposed to wield this as his weapon. It is also a place name, the Nanjcil Naadu , the country at the borders of modern day KeraLa  and Tamilnadu.

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The Sumerian CaGkam ?

Below  some very  historically interesting lines where both Kumari and CanGkam are mentioned. Here I venture to give some of my own interpretations as well.

215. ga-e gudu sag-gam-mah ju me-en  ( I am the anointing (gudu)-priest , the knowledgeable sangamah)

216. ga-e lu  asilal (ki) me-en ( I am the man of Asilal?)

217. ga-e ka-pirig [A-HA](ki) he-sikil-la he-ga-dadag-ga me-en ( I am the incantation priest of Ku'ar , who indeed cleansed , and also purified)

218. . gudu susbu (d)en-ki-ga me-en ( I am the anointing priest, the purification priest of Enki)

*Ta. Gaayee koodu cangkam maa: cuu maan  (  I am ritual dancer ( koodu) who knows the rules established by the Great caGkam)

*Ta.  Gaayee aacu-ilal maan ( I am the man from Asillal ( the  where there are  no impurities)

*Ta. Gaayee kaapiri Kumari  (Kauri)  ey sukilla, eyka taGtaGku maan ( I am the incantation priest of Kumari (Kauri), attained purity and also attained living long)

*Ta. koodu coobu ENkiizkka maan ( I am the brilliant dancer of ENkiiz)

gudu Ta. koodu, kuudu , kudam? kuuttu

The Su. gudu  which is given the meaning 'priest" may actually be  a ritual dancer, and hence the Ta. koodu , meaning Ta. koodiyar, the dancer. From this might have originated Ta. kuudal, the coming together , assembling as an congregation and which brings us to the Kuudal, an ancient and alternative name for Mathurai, the location of the Third CaGkam or Academy which is also a meaning of Kuudal. This may have evolved from this way : kuudu-il> kuudil> kuudal. There is also a word 'kudil" which is retained in Sk in the name Kaudil-ya, the Gotra of the famous author of Artta Sastra which is said to have been written in Tamil Nadu. This Kaudil-ya has also become KauNdiya, the gotra of ThirunjaanaSambantar and so forth.

The word 'kudam" meaning 'pot' is ruled out as it appears to be a description of a professional person here though elsewhere it does occur in this sense in some Sumerian texts.

sam-gam-mah : maa caGkam : the Great Assembly?

The identity of Su. mah with Ta/Sk maa, maha in both morphology and meaning is quite obvious.  The word "sag-gam" cannot be 'priest" ( sangu?sanga) as 'gudu' that precedes it,  already means that. Hence it should be linked with 'sa-ga =sag-a" , to conjoin, be together , be in love etc. as in the following line:


55. mi-be dam-a-ni-ta sa-ga na- an-da-ab-be  (its woman no longer speaks of love with her husband)

*Ta. mibee tam anitta saG-a naa aanida abaiyee ( " )

The sag-a here can also be (sexually) uniting, the caGkamam. Many words such 'caki' 'cakan' meaning loved ones may be related to this.

Thus it appears to be that 'sag-gam-mah" is the Great CaGkam , here however an Assembly of priests or ritual dancers in which many issues were discussed and perhaps also refined and standardized. The author of the incantation mentions that he KNOWS ( ju, Ta. cuu, cuuz)  which also reinforces the notion that sag-gam was in fact an Academy of a kind. Perhaps the Buddhist ' caGkam" as in "CaGkam caraNam kaccaami"  was an evolute of this kind of  assembly and which in later times  became an academic institution of scholars , the Pulavar.

Ku'ar , Kumari.

This interpretation of 'sag-gam' is further reinforced by the mention of "Kumari" ( Ku'ar)  which  lends support to the historical notion that the First CaGkam  was established in Kumari.

Geller gives evidences to read the sign [A-HA] as " Kumari"  ( Ku'ar) on page  13 of the book mentioned above. I give below the whole of the relevant passage .

" The above hypothesis contradicts a theory by van Dijk, that since Ku'ar was a city known as "non-Sumerian speaking" as well  as the city of Asalluhi, "Grossexorcist von Eridu', it is tempting to identify Ku'ar as the home of the non-canonical incantation in Subarian-Elamite languages. Van Dijk's arguments, however, are partially based upon a miscopied sign in CT 16 6:239-240 ( collated) which reads :

eridu (ki) ku'ar ( A.HA)(ki)-se mu-un-na-ri he-me-e-n

Ak. sa ina eri-du u ku-ma-ri re-hu-u ana-ku

The reading ku-ma-ri ( Kuwari? Ku'ar) is supported by ku-mar ( CT 51 105:21- 22).... "

It is interesting here that in Tamil,  Kumari is also called Kauri, a parallel in meaning and morphology that is quite striking and thus pointing out also a historical continuity despite a shift in the geographical location

Su. ka-piri(g) Ta. kaaviri , kavi

The term 'ka-piri(g' literally means opening ( piri(g), Ta. piri, viri) the mouth ( ka Ta. vaay) and is retained in Ta. as kaaviri but as the name of the famous river in Tamil Nadu . Perhaps it was noticed to have a branching mouth and hence named thus.  This can also related to Sk. kavi as  in  "kavi kratuh " (Rig 1.5, Ta. kavi karaitu)

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