Post archive

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...

Snakes and Planets

2011 December 12

Every time there's an eclipse, as my neighbour very religiously bathes four times, chants his mantras and performs the various rituals associated with this, most inauspicious of occult events, I, equally religiously, am usually to be found on my terrace, with camera mounted on tripod, trying to catch the event on SD card. This time, rather than just put up a series of images, I thought I'd write a few words on the perception of eclipses and the hows and whys of them.