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Hail, Prosperity! On the sixteenth day of the fourteenth year of King Parakesarivarman, who conquered Madurai, Whereas a royal letter of His Majesty, our lord, the glorious Viranarayana, the illustrious Parantakadeva, the prosperous Parakesarivarman, was received and was shown to us, We, the members of the assembly of Uttarameru-caturvedimangalam in its own sub-division in Kaliyurkottam, (with) Karanjai Kondaya-Kramavitta bhattan alias Somasiperuman of Srivanga-nagar in Purangarambai-nadu, a district of the Chola country, sitting with us and convening the committee in accordance with the royal command, Made a settlement as follows according to the terms of the royal letter for choosing once every year from this year forward, members for the "Annual Committee", "Garden Committee", and "Tank Committee"...

The story of a failed theory

A few days/weeks ago after work, a group of us colleagues gathered around a computer, and were generally browsing the web and chatting. I have no idea how, but topic turned to the “lost continent of Lemuria”, aka “Kumari Kandam”, the ancient home of the advanced Tamil civilization, destroyed cruelly by the sea with all its glories.

I remember a passage we had to read in Tamil (I'm not sure which class though) that the original Tamil homeland was lost, and its name was Kumari Kandam, or in English, Lemuria. When it's in your textbook, it's not something you question. So, the idea of a Lemuria is accepted as received fact in Tamil country.

My colleagues were slightly surprised to learn that it never actually existed.

What follows is my attempt to explain what the science behind this theory and its abandonment are, where it came from, and what replaced it. And of course, how it was suborned by two groups – the Western occultists and the Tamil zealots, with very little by way of anything like scientific justification.

Along with the sounds of Vedic and Bhakti hymns, the trance-like state that your neighbor gets into when the priest conducts the aarthi, the tasty prasadam given out for free, and the astrological details involved in an archana, an important part of a traditional temple visit is to hear the sthala puranam – literally the legend of the place – from somebody. This could be the priest himself, in temples that aren't very crowded, a friend or relative either during, before or after the visit itself, a book sold outside for ten or so rupees, or increasingly, on the internet, that repository of all trivia however small...

Number Games

2011 July 01

Consider a bronze-age shepherd or herder; tending to his animals, sometimes a few animals get lost, a few get eaten by predators, and a few are stolen by others. A few are also legitimately subtracted from his flock, by being bartered away with other tribespeople, and by being slaughtered for food. At the end of the week, the flock looks thin, compared to what he started out with, and he needs to take stock of his stock. Keeping the count of animals in his head is getting more and more difficult as the number of animals in his care grows.