Sep 29, 2010

Your life-long diary had been written 4000 years ago by someone else!


Many of my friends have asked me to write more about Naadi astrology and my own experience with it. Right at the outset, I have to acknowledge that I’ve been an outright skeptic of all forms of astrology prevailing in the world. Almost all forms of astrology practised in the world (like Hindu astrology, Western astrology and Chinese astrology) are based on the relative positions of celestial bodies. But interestingly, Naadi astrology differs from this. It is more of an ‘occult prediction’ recorded on palm leaves supposedly 4000 years ago, for the future human generations on earth. But did Naadi change my perceptions on astrology? What did it do to me? Did it succeed, or fail to prove itself? We’ll see all that in my next post! Before that, let me unravel the mystic and the most interesting Naadi astrology..













Naadi astrology (Naadi jyothidam) has been practised in the state of Tamil Nadu, India, for thousands of years. These were written by ancient Tamil sages called ‘Siththars’. The most famous Siththar of all was Agathiyar. He had written Naadi predictions for almost all human beings in the world- for all generations, including our future generations! These had been taken copies of by several generations, and what we have today are palm leaf manuscripts in Tamil vatteluththu script (though a significant proportion has been lost in time). Anyone who seeks Naadi astrology is taken an impression of their thumb (left for females, right for males). Each unique thumbprint forms an index with which the corresponding set of palm leaves can be identified. These palm leaves can be read out by anyone who knows to read Tamil vatteluthu script (as opposed to only astrologers rendering predictions with the other forms). Nothing other than a thumbprint is required. 


The palm leaf manuscript starts with a hymn that praises Lord Shiva, and goes on to say what your name is, what your father’s and mother's names are, when you were born, how many siblings you have, what is your current profession, and goes until it reveals your future life up until death. (Ashtonishing, isn’t it? But how valid is this? We'll see this in my next post!) Well, this is just the basic chapter, which tells an overview of one’s life. There are 11 more chapters which go into detailed predictions about one’s mother, father, siblings, marriage, future spouse (s) and children, relationships, health, diseases, wealth, accidents, rituals that can dilute past bad deeds, business, longevity, etc. Phew.. And not just that- there are also two chapters that talk about your previous birth and where you will be born in your next birth on earth! Creepy enough.


Well, Agathiyar did not write only Naadi astrology, and he is not the only siththar. There were 18 siththars who are considered to be the primary ones. Some of them are Agathiyar, Thirumoolar, Korakkar and Bogar. Each siththar had 8 great powers (siththis) such as Anima (to become as tiny as an atom), Mahima (to become big in unshakeable proportions), Laghima (to become as light as vapour in levitation, Prapti (to enter into other bodies in transmigration). Agathiyar is also said to have lived for 1000 years (Can't take it? Well, the biblical Noah lived for 950 years according to the Old Testament of Bible. Very ancient history is beyond proofs. We’d rather not waste time in pondering if it’s pseudoscience or not). Besides naadi astrology, the other contributions of these ancient Tamil siththars were writings on: Alchemy, Siddha medicine (using herbs), Tamil grammar and Tantra which were in humongous volumes each (here, it’s superfluous to mention about the ancient Tamil literature’s vastness).




Agathiyar Siththar





And finally, why is it called Naadi?! Naadi means ‘to seek’ in Tamil. It essentially means that you will seek Naadi astrology only when you are destined to do so- on the destined date - which would be mentioned in the first few lines of one's Naadi palm leaf!




I mentioned in one of my previous posts encouraging everyone to write and record their life in their diary. Well, perhaps I should take my word back. Why write one if a Siththar had written yours already 4000 years ago?!

Sep 19, 2010

Are you proud of what you are?



During my visit to the Dutch National Archives, I got to read a Dutch East India Company travel journal.


 The book was fully in Dutch, and when I was flipping through the musty old pages of the huge book, I saw an introduction to the Tamil language, with the alphabet and basic grammar, running for 10 long pages! My head started spinning instantaneously. I couldn’t digest the fact that the Dutch had meticulously recorded the Tamil alphabet and grammar with substantial detail, in their book in 1672! There is also an illustration showing Tamil people practising to write, on sand. I was totally awestruck, and had to rest for a few moments before I could get back to normal. I assume, had the Dutch people’s language been Tamil, they would have even made all their children learn Tamil Vatteluththu script and Tamil Brahmi script along with the contemporary Tamil, at school!! Well, now, what is the current situation in metropolitan cities in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu? -Most school students are learning English as first language and French as second language. Fantastic.



Ancient Tamilians learning to write on sand
This is the world’s last classical language that is still in usage today. We don’t have the other classical languages such as Latin, Attic Greek, Sanskrit, and Classical Chinese in day-to-day usage. All we have today is the ancient language that originated as early as 1500 BCE - endured the tests of time - grew in all wealth of literature, art and science, without any boundaries to prosperity-  Tamil. Excavations(ab) in Southern Tamil Nadu unleashed the world's largest three-tier pre-historic cemetery dating back to 1500 BCE- 500 BCE, with rudimentary Tamil Brahmi engravings on burial urns (the spoken-language's origin should be of a much earlier period). Moreover, artifacts dating circa 100 BCE with Tamil Brahmi engravings have been found in large amounts in Egypt(c), Srilanka, Thailand, etc. This is indeed the language of the Cholas who ruled the Indian peninsula, up to the Kalinga (Orissa) and rising high up to Bengal, and also comprising what are today’s Srilanka, Bangladesh, Burma, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore and Maldives together!


The Chola Empire during 900-1300 CE
Vatteleththu Tamil script on a Tanjavur temple's walls

























The unfounded passion towards the English language could have originated since the colonial period when there was a high demand for English-speaking Indians for jobs. The Germans, Japanese and French are never lured by foreign languages, and this speaks volumes as to why these countries flourish and also why some foreign countries study their languages! Well, not just with Tamil, it's high time all other Indian languages also saw an elevation in people’s own attitudes towards their languages. One who speaks low of his own land, culture and language can only be someone  who feels low of himself (lacking self-esteem). Such a person would certainly feel everything external to him and distant to him to be much worthier. But why would we choose to be such a person, we can rather be dignified of ourselves to be the descendents of a long and rich cultural heritage- by all means!

Bringing huge hopes, this decade sees the youth deeply comprehending the worth of Tamil, showing rays of prosperity after long! History is a cycle; the prosperity in all its grandeur is to be repeated again! The next Golden age of Tamil literature and culture is in the near horizon. It is soon to rise up again, with all its magnificence and power!



Sep 9, 2010

Can you face your great grandson’s grandson?


Since its beginning circa 3300 BCE, the Indus valley civilization flourished with sophisticated urban planning, sanitation systems and writing system until its doom in 1300 BCE. What happened after that? What made people leave their celebrated cities and migrate towards the east, to the Indo-gangetic plain? There is a big gap in history between the Indus valley civilization and the migration into the gangetic plain. There are no historical records on this. Likewise, the golden age of the Tamil civilization, the Sangam age lasted thousands of years until 300 AD when legendary Tamil literatures like Thirukkural were produced and the mighty Chola, Pandya and Cheras ruled the peninsula. But what happened just after that? 300 to 600 AD is said to be the dark ages of the 'Kalabrahs' rule, of which there are no historical documents. Who were they? Why did no one write about them? These are forgotten history, lost in time, and non-revivable.

This has been the fate of the Indians, for thousands and thousands of years. 
A glance through the long timeline of Indian history, shows that no one has been evidently interested in history, and in recording history. This attitude runs until today- with today’s Indians. Though we have had the best of the literature, philosophy, architecture in their colossal amounts, we find no 'historical records' as such. There is no mention of the word ‘history’ in our epics. All we have are inscriptions and foreigners’ accounts of India that lead to some historical knowledge.    

Palm-leaf manuscripts
Most of the ancient literatures were palm-leaf manuscripts. Throwing them into the Kaveri river during the Tamil festival of 'Adi Perukku' had been a tradition! Some of the valuable works have been passed down over the years by word of mouth, within a close line of heirs and finally lost in time.  We are indebted for the ancient Indian history that we know of today, to the European colonialists and many other foreign archaeologists. The culture hasn’t changed yet. Historians and archaeologists aren’t of great professions; engineers and doctors seem to be the only respectable professions of today’s India. Neither are we interested in knowing about and preserving our own family history! Only a handful of people like the Maratha ruler Serfoji II of Thanjavur had been intrigued by history and made great attempts to preserve history. The memory of mankind is at stake. We are obligated to record the heritage of humanity for posterity, before its forgotten forever. 

I’ve been writing diary since my 5th standard. I would vouch that the most interesting book of all, in one’s lifetime can only be his own diary. Simply because it’s a trip to his own past. By writing your journal you create your own time machine! Because you can relive your magical past, ever as you wish!

Well, I’m writing my diaries and I’m also trying to record and preserve some of my ancestors’ history. I would leave a legacy of privilege to the successors to revisit an enchanting past. In 2170 AD, my great grandson’s grandson would question me about what history I have preserved for him. I will have an answer and I will be spared. Will you be?

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