Travel Diary

To: "Min Nuul" From: "Kannan" Date: Tue, 12 Feb 2002 04:06:34 +0100 Subject: [e-suvadi] Travel diary 09.02.02 Reply-to: [email protected]
Dear suvadians: I was invited to participate in a book release function. The book in translation was the famous 'A brief history of Time' by Stephen W. Hawking. Prof.M.Anandakrishnan released the book. Before the function, that afternoon I had an informal chat with him in his new office at Rani Seethai Ammal complex. We were discussing science and tamil and the science of tamil. I do not know what prompted him to ask me that question, he asked me 'what was the perception of early tamils about planet earth? Flat or globe?' Infact, we had discussed over such topics in, agathiyar and other forums. So I answered him that Tamils perceived it as globe and not as a flat surface, as it was perceived in the west. He asked me to give evidences for my argument. The first thing came to my mind was the poem of Nammalvar discovered by Prof.Mu.Raghavaiyengar begining with the word 'aNda kooLaththu aaraNuvaaki' which speaks about 'kooLam' the globe! That was the view in the 8th Century. Somehow, he was not satisfied. That turned my attention to search for 'scientific thoughts' in tamil manuscripts. I searched and discussed with scholars. Dr.Rama Ilanko told me that 'njaalam' the word in Tamil that refers to planet earth means 'globe'. However, Dr.Soundarapandian the curator of OML, Chennai insisted that early Tamil's perception of our planet was 'flat'. So my search started at OML in Chennai, itself. The bulk of the manuscripts that I found in the catalogues were of religious philosophy and literature. Then there were MS in siddha medicine and alchemy. I could count MS on Geography and earth sciences. Interestingly, I got books on Ship building and an unpublished olai on Bhuvanakosam. The later needs careful reading for any further research. Mr.Srirangam Mohana Rangan who accompanied me to OML called me this Sunday and asked me whether I would be interested in seeing a detailed chart drawn by Tamils on the planetary movements, the eclipses, and on our home the earth! I was more than delighted. He brought home an old book of 1883 and opened a chart that came along with the book (like the present day National Geographic). A very rare drawing of that sort in Tamil. The chart and the book explained in unequivocal terms that planet Earth was 'globe' and how solar and lunar eclipses are formed and the planetary paths in Solar system. When Mohana Rangan who is well versed in Sanskrit and Tamil read out loud the passages of the book several exciting things came to the surface! 1) The book explained in detail that planet earth was a globe and 2) this can best be seen from planet Moon (believe me my friends !) 3) the various continents on planet earth (matching perfectly with our recent photographs of 'space shuttle') 4) the possibility of life in extra-terrestrial lands, 5) the countless number of galaxies in the universe 6) the rotation of planet earth, sun and the galaxies The best surprise of the day was that this chart was commissioned not by a scientific body but by the Jeer of Srirangam!! The chart was created to show the world the Vaishnavite's understanding of the universe. The chart was printed in Madras in the Vaishnava year ie.Parangusan year 4984. The original text and the chart will be released by THF in the next Tamil Iniyam conference in the USA. anbudan n.kannan