By Dhani Irwanto, 8 April 2016
Kumari Kandam refers to a hypothetical lost continent with an ancient Tamil civilization, located south of present-day India, in the Indian Ocean. Alternative names and spellings include Kumarikkantam and Kumari Nadu. Most Tamil revivalists connect it with the Pandyan kingdom mentioned in the works of literary Tamil and Sanskrit.
The words “Kumari Kandam” first appear in Kanda Puranam, a 15th-century Tamil version of the Skanda Purana, written by Kachiappa Sivacharyara (1350 – 1420). Although the Tamil revivalists insist that it is a pure Tamil name, it is actually a derivative of the Sanskrit words “Kumarika Khanda”. The Andakosappadalam section of Kanda Puranam describes the following cosmological model of the universe.
“There are many worlds, each having several continents, which in turn, have several kingdoms. Paratan, the ruler of one such kingdom, had eight sons and one daughter. He further divided his kingdom into nine parts, and the part ruled by his daughter Kumari came to be known as Kumari Kandam after her. Kumari Kandam is described as the kingdom of the Earth.”
Although the Kumari Kandam theory became popular among anti-Brahmin anti-Sanskrit Tamil nationalists, the Kanda Puranam actually describes Kumari Kandam as the land where the Brahmins also reside, where Shiva is worshipped and where the Vedas are recited. The rest of the kingdoms are described as the territory of the Mlecchas.
Multiple ancient and medieval Tamil and Sanskrit works contain legendary accounts of lands in South India being lost to the ocean. The earliest explicit discussion of a katalkol (“seizure by ocean”, possibly the sea water rise) of Pandyan land is found in a commentary on Iraiyanar Akapporul. This commentary, attributed to Nakkeerar, is dated to the later centuries of the 1st millennium CE. It mentions that the Pandyan kings, an early Tamil dynasty, established three literary academies (sangams). The first two sangams were not located in South India now but in an ancient Tamil country in the south which then sank. The first sangam flourished for 4,400 years in a city called Tenmaturai, attended by 549 poets (including Agastya) and presided over by gods like Shiva, Kubera and Murugan. The second sangam lasted for 3,700 years in a city called Kapatapuram, attended by 59 poets (including Agastya, again). The commentary states that both the cities were “seized by the ocean”, resulting in loss of all the works created during the first two sangams. The third sangam was established in Uttara (North) Madurai, where it is said to have lasted for 1,850 years. The Pandyan capital of Kapatapuram finds mention in the Ramayana and Chanakya’s Arthasastra (ca 4th century BCE).
Nakkeerar’s commentary does not mention the size of the territory lost to the sea. The size is first mentioned in a 15th-century commentary on Silappatikaram. The commentator Adiyarkunallar mentions that the lost land extended from Pahruli river in the north to the Kumari river in the South. It was located to the south of Kanyakumari, and covered an area of 700 kavatam (a unit of unknown measurement). It was divided into 49 territories (natu), classified in seven categories: elu teñku natu (“seven coconut lands”), elu maturai natu (“seven mango lands”), elu munpalai natu (“seven front sandy lands”), elu pinpalai natu (“seven back sandy lands”), elu kunra natu (“seven hilly lands”), elu kunakarai natu (“seven coastal lands”) and elu kurumpanai natu (“seven dwarf-palm lands”).
A mountain range had forty-eight high peaks. Four rivers were originated from Meru Malai: Kumari Aaru, Peru Aaru, Pahruli Aaru and Kanni Aaru. The Pahruli river was excavated to irrigate the mountain valley by the Pandyan King Nediyon. Ruby was mined from the mountain Mani Malai and gold from Meru Malai. It is said that Chinese laborers were employed by the Pandyan King and when they went down the mines they appeared like a huge army of small ants, therefore, they were called “the gold mining ants”.
Kumari Kandam is a Tamil legend about ancient civilization geographically located in the Indian Ocean and then sank into the ocean. Though many Tamil writers do not assign any date to the submergence of Kumari Kandam, resorting to phrases like “once upon a time” or “several thousands of years ago”, but the stories are consistent with the theory of post-glacial been widely acceptable by scientists. This ancient Tamil civilization was located south to Tamil now, or to go to their new land they reached from the south. Vast land which sank in the geological past is not other than Sundaland. Previous theories hypothesized that the vast mainland of Kumari Kandam was located in the south of the Indian subcontinent, but the theory of tectonic plate movement does not support the existence of such land within some thousands years back. It can be presumed that Kumari Kandam is having a relationship with Atlantis or other civilizations thereafter.
Copyright © 2016, Dhani Irwanto