Indus culture, Durga and Cilappatikaaram

Thu Jun 26 16:26:42 UTC 1997


   Re: Indus Culture, Durga, and CilappatikAram

In the Western ghats, in between Palghat and Coimbatore,
there is a deer called as "kELai aaDu". It is small - may be 3 feet high.
I always wondered why it is called a "goat"!. Is it the same as 
markhor goat, referred to in Parpola's book??!

Could the contemporary Tamil word "kELai" be a corruption of
"kalai" of ancient Tamil?!

What Does P. L. Samy, IAS say in his books on "kalai"?
He looked at Tamil literature with a biologist's eye
and wrote many new, interesting stuff.

N. Ganesan

Just now, spent a month in that region, Western Kongu.


Dr. S. Palaniappan's original posting:

Since then, I have discovered some very interesting findings. Stag appears
accompanying a goddess in the coins of the KuniNDa tribe (2nd century CE?).
While earlier scholars have identified the goddess with Zri, because of the
presence of lotus and the representation of Zri/Lakshmi as a golden antelope,
I think it is more probable that the goddess in question is DurgA. For one
thing, lotus is not exclusively associated with Lakshmi alone. Moreover,
there are two Indus seals shown in the Deciphering the Indus Script by Asko
Parpola, Fig.14.35, and especially Fig. 7.13 seem to be stags. The twisting
horns on the seals seem to echo the description, 'tiritaru kOTTuk kalai'
(stag (?) with twisting/turning horns). Now in Old Tamil the word 'kalai' is
used to refer to the stag and male monkey. I do not know what other species
of animals 'kalai' refered to earlier if the animal in the seal is not a
stag.  According to Asko Parpola, the animal is a markhor goat (Sanskrit
 'zarabha') mentioned in kAlikApurANa as a sacrificial animal. But in
CilappatikAram, 'kalai' is a vehicle and not a sacrificial animal. 

In the Goddess worship ritual described in  CilappatikAram, the priestess is
made to sit on the 'kalai' and brought in front of the Goddess who rides
'kalai'. After that, the priestess worships the Goddess. There is no mention
of the priestess sacrificing the 'kalai'.  So, apparently it stood beside the
priestess which is in agreement with the Indus seals.

It looks like 'kalai', stag or markhor goat was the original vehicle for
DurgA. The lion probably is a later innovation. If this is confirmed, then
CilappatikAram seems to be the only text describing the sacrificial ritual
related to koRRavai/DurgA accurately in the manner implied by the Indus
seals. I would appreciate any comments from archaelogists, art historians,
numismatists, tantrists, etc.


S. Palaniappan  


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