Deluge of Atlantis

Deluge of Atlantis
Deluge of Atlantis

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Guest Blogger Jayasree -Supplemental information on Vedic Astrology

Jayasree Saranathan
12:27 PM (18 hours ago)

File:Nilgiri Tahr Adult.jpg
In this article, let me bring to the notice of the scholars an animal which was regarded as Mesha, the goat. The information of this animal is derived from Tamil Sangam sources.

Mesha, the goat that signifies the Mesha rashi of the zodiac is known as Aadu, Varudai, Thagar or Thagadu in Tamil. Of these Varudai, as an animal of the goat variety appears in many places in sangam literature. That Varudai also refers to the Mesha Rashi is known from the paripadal verse 11 that I quoted in the context of 3 Veethis (part -5 ) and the olden Tamil Thesaurus, ‘Choodamani NigaNdu’

(1) From ParipAdal – 11 -5)
வருடையைப்படிமகன் வாய்ப்ப
varudaiyai padimagan vaayppa”

Varudaiyai = to Mesha (goat)
Padimagan = son of earth = Bhauman = Mars.
Vaayppa = got into
varudaiyai padimagan vaayppa”= Mars got into Mesha rashi.

(2) From ChoodamaNi nigaNdu – verse 1-64
மைவருடை ஆடுகொறி மறி மேடம் என்ப
“mai varudai aadu koRi maRi mEdam enpa”

‘mai, Varudai, aadu, koRi, maRi’ etc are synonyms for goat or ram
mEdam = Mesha
enpa = it is said
“mai varudai aadu koRi maRi mEdam enpa” = It is said that mai, varudai, aadu, koRi and maRi are (synonyms of) Mesha.
In the NAdi manuscripts in Tamil, the solar months and rashis are mentioned in the name of the above synonyms of Mesha, the animal. The only other name found in Nadi manuscripts was “Mudhal Maatham” (First month) for Mesha maasa.
In the temple inscriptions that appeared around 1000 years ago, the names of solar months are mentioned by the rashi names.

To quote a few,
Makara naayiRu” (literal meaning = Makara sun) for the solar month of Capricorn (Azhaga-p Permual temple, SEvUr, Avinashi, Coimbatore)
Meena naayiRu” (literal meaning = Meena sun) for the solar month of Pisces (Patteeshwara temple, PErUr, Coimbatore)

These show the practice of mentioning solar month by rashi names or by the name of the animal, Mesha. If we notice, further back in time, say 2000 years BP, the practice was to mention the name of the animal whenever Mesha rashi or solar month of Aries had to be mentioned. For other months they had used (in sangam literature) the Tamil solar month names such as Maasi and Panguni – which is what we continue to use even today. The exception is Mesha which was mentioned as Varudai or Aadu - which goes to show the special importance given to Mesha – as it signified the year-beginning. Such traditions could not have come from a far-off Mleccha land of Greece, but could have been an extension of the culture of rest of India.

As we go further back in time, we find mention of ‘Aadu’ and ‘Varudai’ for Mesha. For example the year is known as “Varudam”in Tamil. This is derived from Varudai, in which the Tamil New Year begins. Similarly the Rajaraja Cholan inscriptions mention “AattaaNdu” meaning “the year that begins with Aadu /goat”

Varudam as the generic name of Year in Tamil has a story behind it which has been repeatedly quoted by Karunanidhi, the self-proclaimed protector of Dravidians (!). The 12thcentury Tamil Thesaurus of Abhidhana ChinthamaNI, written by a Jain monk, Hemachandra Suri says that the Year (Varudam) was formed by the pair of male Varudan and a male Varudi! (This Thesaurus only states the pre-existing idea or tradition in the Tamil society). This became a pet topic for Karunanidhi who loses no occasion to abuse Vedic system by saying that this system projects the New Year as the child born to a gay couple – male Varuda and a male Varudi, and therefore is fit to be rejected by the Tamils!

The inner meaning of this is that the Varuda (year) that comes with Varudai (the mesha) is also coming along with a pair. Who makes that pair? The Aswin brothers make the pair! The actual import is that the Tamil New Year begins with Mesha (Varudai) and a pair (of Aswins). Please recall the Messha–Aswin verse of Varahamihira (BJ 1-4). The same idea has been there in Tamil culture. These are being told here to justify that whatever is there in Tamil sources is therefore acceptable as Pan Indian or Vedic idea. The loss of literature and temples in North India due to invasions must be compensated by the evidences found in Tamil sources.

Now coming to the core theme of this article, the word Varudai for an animal is found in as many as 8 places in Tamil Sangam literature and in Silappadhikaram of the 2nd century AD. (Silappadhikaram was written in post- Sangam period). There is a sutra in the Sangam Grammar book of Tholkappiyam that mentions the name of the young one of Varudai. This goes to show the familiarity with this animal in the pre-common Era. These texts also say that Varudai is Varai–aadu meaning “Cliff-goat” – the goat that is found in mountain cliffs. The Sangam texts also say that these goats can effortlessly scale the steep slopes of the mountains.

These goats were not native to Tamil lands. A Cheran King brought them from DandakaraNya cliff! This act got him a title “Aadu kOtpaattu ChEralAdhan” – meaning “the king who brought the goat”!! Doesn’t this name sound weird? A king may be glorified with a title if he overpowers a lion or tiger or an elephant or some such feat that is normally not possible. But here is a Cheran King who was glorified for having brought the goat! Unless the goat is a special one and difficult to be obtained and groomed, this title could not have been conferred on him.

The important information is that this king brought “varudai”,the Mesha that I have written above. In the compilation of poems on Cheran kings called as “PathiRRu-p-patthu”(meaning, 10 compilations of 10 poems on 10 kings), the 6th group of poems is on the Cheran King whose original name is not known. But his titular names have been given in the introductory verse as “Aadu- kotpaattu Cheraladhan” and “VAna varamban” VAna varamban means “the one for whom sky is the limit”. The verse says,

தண்டாரணியத்துக் கோள்பட்ட வருடையைத்
தொண்டியுள் தந்து கொடுப்பித்துப் பார்ப்பார்க்குக்
கபிலையொடு குடநாட்(டு)ஓரூர் ஈத்து
வான வரம்பன்எனப் பேர்இனிது விளக்கி …………
*ஆடுகோட் பாட்டுச் சேரலாதனை*
யாத்த செய்யுள் அடங்கிய
DandakAraNyatthuk kOLpatta Varudaiyaith
thONdiyuL thanthu koduppiththup paarppaarkkuk
kapilaiyOdu kuda nAttu OrUr eenthu
vAna varamban enap pEr inithu viLangki...
Aadu kOt pAttuch chEralAdhnai
yAttha seyyuL adangkiya”

DandakAraNyatthu = danda kAraNya
kOLpatta = brought from
Varudaiyai = varudai / goat
thONdiyuL thanthu = brought to ThoNdi, the capital city of ChEra kings
koduppiththu = gave
paarppaarkku = to Brahmins
kapilaiyOdu = along with cows
kuda nAttu OrUr = a place (Ur) in Kuda nAdu
eenthu = gifted
vAna varamban = ‘one with sky as the limit’
enap pEr = such a name
inithu viLangki...= becoming suitable (for him)
Aadu kOt pAttuch chEralAdhnai = The Cheran king who brought the goat
yAttha seyyuL adangkiya = upon him these verses are made.

“The Cheran king went to DandakaraNya and brought Varudai goats to ThoNdi, his capital city and donated them to Brahmins, along with cows and gifted them a place in Kuda Nadu. This gave him an apt name as ‘one for whom sky is the limit”. Such a king ‘who brought goat’ – upon him these verses are made.”

By the title of VAna varmban (sky as the limit), it is known that he has scaled the peaks of Vindhyas in Dandakaranya. By the title of Aadu kOtpattu ChEralaadhan, it is known that he had brought a rare variety of goats from DandakaraNya region. By the mention of Varudai, as the goat that he had brought, it is known that the Mesha goats were procured by him from the cliffs of Vindhyas – a feat which was considered as rare in his times. It is rare because these goats do not survive in plains. They are adapted to cliffs and cold and dense forested areas of the mountains. That is why he had settled them in Kuda Nadu – a mountainous region of the western ghats. These goats are still surviving today, though they are an endangered species.

The popular name of them is Nigiri Tahr though they continue to be called as Varudai and Varai aadu (cliff goats) as found mentioned in sangam texts. Browse this link for more information on this species.
Nilgiri tahr( Nilgiritragus hylocrius,Ogilby, 1838)
Formerly Hemitragus hylocrius. Generic name was changed to Nilgiritragus to be in tune with the latest phylogenic research by Ropiquet and Hassanin.(Ropiquet and Hassanin, 2005) Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution,Volume 36,Number 1, Pages 154-168
The Nilgiri tahr was first named Kemas hylocrius by Ogilby (1838). In 1845 Gray re-christened the Nilgiri tahr as Capra warryato. This was subsequently changed to Kemas warryato in 1852 (Lydekker, 1913). Warryato is an English rendition of the Tamil term for the Nilgiri tahr. In 1859 Blyth included the Nilgiri tahr in the genus Hemitragus, naming it H. hylocrius (Lydekker, 1913).The current view is that there are three species of tahr, the Himalayan tahr (Hemitragus jemlahicus), the Nilgiri tahr (Nilgiritragus hylocrius), and the Arabian tahr- (Arabitragus jayakari). There is some variation in the spelling of the English name for this genus; it appears both as "tahr" and "thar". Both are an Anglicized form of the Nepali term for serow (Capricornis sumatraensis; Green, 1978). "tahr" is now the accepted spelling for the Himalayan species, Nilgiri species and the Arabian species. However, English speaking South Indians also use the term "ibex" or "Nilgiri ibex". The Tamil name for Nilgiri tahr is "varai ad" or "varai adoo" which translates to "cliff goat". The comparable Malayalam term is "mala adu" (Prater, 1965). Interestingly, Ogilby (1838) based the original name for Nilgiri tahr, (Kemas hylocrius) on the understanding that it's local name was "jungle sheep" (jungle or wood corresponding to the root "hyla" and the Greek "krios" which means ram). However, in the English speaking community in the High Range, "jungle sheep" refers to the barking deer (Muntiacus muntjak), whereas "ibex" is the longstanding name for Nilgiri tahr (Jerdon, 1874; Fletcher, 1911). Gray's (1842) "warryato" is a much more appropriate name, but Ogilby's (1838) remains as the standard one by rules of precedence( Rice 1984).
Nilgiri tahris an endangered mountain ungulate listed in schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 and considered as endangered by the IUCN. The species was assessed as endangered using the 1994 Red List Categories and Criteria as EN B1+2acd, C2a on 6/30/2000 (Assessors:CAMP Workshop, India). In the 2008 Redlist also the species was assessed as endangered.( Assessors:Alembath, M. & Rice, C.G, Evaluators Harris, R. & Festa-Bianchet, M. (Caprinae Red List Authority) ). It is the congener of the Himalayan tahr Hemitragus jemlahicus, found from Kashmir to Bhutan (Schaller, 1971) and the Arabian tahr Arabitragus jayakari, which is confined to the mountain districtof Oman and adjoining rocky slopes of Hajar mountains in UnitedArab Emirates

Kemas hylocrius (Ogilby, 1837)
Capra warrayato (Gray, 1842)
Kemas warrayato (Gray,1852)
Hemitragus hylocrius (Ogilby, 1838)

Common Names
Nilgiri Tahr
Varayadu (Malayalam)
Varaiaadu (Tamil)
Tahr des monts Nilgiri ( French) Rice, 1990
Nilgiritahr(German) Rice, 1990
Range size:
Area of occupancy- (pre-colonial) 4000-5000km2
Extent of occurrence-(present) 400-500km2
Upper limit - 2695mt (Anaimudi)
Lower limit (present)- 600mt.
(past) - 300mt.

Population Estimations

1000 (Schaller,1970)
2200 (Davidar,1978)
2234 (Rice,1984)
2500 (Shackleton.1997)
1950 (Daniels et al., 2006).
2600- Min (Easa et al., 2010).

The Nilgiri tahr has short grey-brown or dark coat. There are facial markings, particularly distinct in mature males, consisting of a dark brown muzzle separated from a dark cheek by a white stripe running down from the base of horns. Females and immature males are an overall yellowish-brown to grey, with the underparts being paler (Lydekker, 1913; Prater, 1971; Rice, 1988; Nowak, 1991). Adult males weigh atound 100Kg and stands at 110 Cm at shoulder height. Adult females weigh at 50 Kg and stands at 80 Cms at shoulder height (Rice, 1990). Females have two nipples, unlike the two other species of tahr which have four (Nowak, 1991). Both sexes of N. hylocrius bear relatively short curving horns. An estimated 2000 of the species exist in the wild. Older males a are called Saddlebacks as they have a distinctive silvery saddle-patch marks on the rump. The horns of females are shorter and slenderer.The main breeding season (rut) of wild Nilgiri tahr is from June to August during the monsoons (Rice, 1990; Robinson, 2005). Conception is for a period of 6 months. Peak in births occutr in January and February. New born tahr is called a Kid. By two months of age the kid follows its mother (Wilson, 1980) but they are not weaned until four to six months (Wilson, 1980; Rice, 1990). Sexual maturity occurs around 16 months (Wilson, 1980; Rice, 1990).Average life expectancy for Nilgiri tahr in the wild is estimated to be only three or 3.5 years, although the potential life span is at least 9 years (Rice, 1988; Rice, 1990). Annual mortality at Eravikulam NP was estimated to be 44–52% for young, 31–37% for yearlings, and 17–24% for adults. Life expectancy at birth was estimated at 3–3·5 years. There was evidence for mortality incurred by predation, disease, accidents, and injury during intraspecific combat, and thermal stress.((Rice, 1988)

The Nilgiri Tahr (Nilgiritragus hylocrius) is the only species of Caprine ungulate that is found south of the Himalayas in India. The eleven other species of Indian Caprine ungulates are confined to the Himalayan biogeographical zones. The Nilgiri Tahr presently occurs patchily over a short 400km stretch of the southern Western Ghats that spans the high altitude plateau of the Nilgiris and the hills of the Kanyakumari district; the total area of which is a mere 5% of the entire Western Ghats region.
The reason for the rather local distribution of the Tahr is its preference for a habitat that is predominantly of grasslands adequately sheltered by steep rocky cliffs; a unique habitat type that has rightly given the species the local name Varai Aadu (= Cliff Goat). These grasslands receive not less than 1500mm of rainfall annually and enjoy a short dry season and as such are restricted to just 7 high altitude landscapes (1200-2600m ASL) in the southern Western Ghats.
Having been exterminated from the northernmost Tahr landscape, the high altitude grasslands of southwestern Karnataka during the past 50 years, the Tahr is at present found only within 6 high altitude landscapes. And within these 6 landscapes, 18 localities have sustained small to large populations that vary in size between 20 and 550 animals. Estimates made at various times during the past 30 years placed the population size of the Nilgiri Tahr between 2000 and 2500 over its entire range.
It is evident that the Nilgiri Tahr had reached the brink of extinction sometime during the latter half of the 19th century. Early interventions by the erstwhile Nilgiri Game Association and High Range Game Association and modern conservation initiatives guided by the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972 have aided a rather dramatic comeback of the species in less than 150 years.

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