|Lemuria/ Kumari Kandam|
|Type||Hypothetical lost continent, equated with the lost land of Kumari Kandam named in the Karuda Puranam and alluded to in Sangam literature|
Kumari Kandam  (Tamil:குமரிக்கண்டம், Kumarikkaṇṭam; 30,000 BC – 16,000 BC) is the name of a supposed sunken landmass referred to in the ancient Tamil and Sanskrit Matsya Purana. It is said to have been located in the Indian Ocean, south of present-day Kanyakumari district at the southern tip of India.
References in Tamil literature
According to the Matsya Purana, Manu was the king of Dravidadesa land in Kumari Kandam. There are scattered references in Sangam literature, such as Kalittokai 104, to how the sea took the land of the Pandiyan kings, after which they conquered new lands to replace those they had lost. There are also references to the rivers Pahruli and Kumari, that are said to have flowed in a now-submerged land. The Silappadhikaram, one of the Five Great Epics of Tamil Literature written in first few centuries CE, states that the "cruel sea" took the Pandiyan land that lay between the rivers Pahruli and the mountainous banks of the Kumari, to replace which the Pandiyan king conquered lands belonging to the Chola and Chera kings (Maturaikkandam, verses 17-22). Adiyarkkunallar, a 12th-century commentator on the epic, explains this reference by saying that there was once a land to the south of the present-day Kanyakumari, which stretched for 700 kavatam from the Pahruli river in the north to the Kumari river in the south. As the modern equivalent of a kavatam is unknown, estimates of the size of the lost land vary from 1,400 miles (2,300 km) to 7,000 miles (11,000 km) in length, to others suggesting a total area of 6-7,000 square miles, or smaller still an area of just a few villages.
This land was divided into 49 nadu, or territories, which he names as seven coconut territories (elutenga natu), seven Madurai territories (elumaturai natu), seven old sandy territories (elumunpalai natu), seven new sandy territories (elupinpalai natu), seven mountain territories (elukunra natu), seven eastern coastal territories (elukunakarai natu) and seven dwarf-palm territories (elukurumpanai natu). All these lands, he says, together with the many-mountained land that began with KumariKollam, with forests and habitations, were submerged by the sea. Two of these Nadus or territories were supposedly parts of present-day Kollam and Kanyakumari districts.
None of these texts name the land "Kumari Kandam" or "Kumarinadu", as is common today. The only similar pre-modern reference is to a "Kumari Kandam" (written குமரிகண்டம், rather than குமரிக்கண்டம் as the land is called in modern Tamil), which is named in the medieval Tamil text Kantapuranam either as being one of the nine continents, or one of the nine divisions of India and the only region not to be inhabited by barbarians. 19th and 20th century Tamil revivalist movements, however, came to apply the name to the territories described in Adiyarkkunallar's commentary to the Silappadhikaram. They also associated this territory with the references in the Tamil Sangams, and said that the fabled cities of southern Madurai (Ten Madurai) and Kapatapuram where the first two Sangams were said to be held were located on Kumari Kandam. These sangams may have overlapped in parallel to the third historic sangam; the second century BCE Tissamaharama Tamil Brahmi inscription detailing the thiraLi muRi (written agreement of the assembly) was excavated a few miles from the coast of the historic Tenavaram temple, Matara, Sri Lanka.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Tamil nationalists came to identify Kumari Kandam with Lemuria, a "lost continent" posited in the 19th century to account for discontinuities in biogeography. In these accounts, Kumari Kandam became the "cradle of civilization", the origin of human languages in general and the Tamil language in particular. These ideas gained notability in Tamil academic literature over the first decades of the 20th century, and were popularized by the Tanittamil Iyakkam, notably by self-taught Dravidologist Devaneya Pavanar, who held that all languages on earth were merely corrupted Tamil dialects.
R. Mathivanan, then Chief Editor of the Tamil Etymological Dictionary Project of the Government of Tamil Nadu, in 1991 claimed to have deciphered the still undeciphered Indus script as Tamil, following the methodology recommended by his teacher Devaneya Pavanar, presenting the following timeline (cited after Mahadevan 2002):
- ca. 200,000 to 50,000 BC: evolution of "the Tamilian or Homo Dravida",
- ca. 200,000 to 100,000 BC: beginnings of the Tamil language
- 50,000 BC: Kumari Kandam civilisation
- 20,000 BC: A lost Tamil culture of the Easter Island which had an advanced civilisation
- 16,000 BC: Lemuria submerged
- 6087 BC: Second Tamil Sangam established by a Pandya king
- 3031 BC: A Chera prince in his wanderings in the Solomon Islands saw wild sugarcane and started cultivation in Present Tamil nadu.
- 1780 BC: The Third Tamil Sangam established by a Pandya king
- 7th century BC: Tolkappiyam (the earliest known extant Tamil grammar)
- Kumari Kandam appeared in the The Secret Saturdays episodes "The King of Kumari Kandam" and "The Atlas Pin." This version is a city on the back of a giant sea serpent with its inhabitants all fish people.
Loss and imagination
Sumathi Ramaswamy's book, The Lost Land of Lemuria: Fabulous Geographies, Catastrophic Histories (2004) is a theoretically sophisticated study of the Lemuria legends that widens the discussion beyond previous treatments, looking at Lemuria narratives from nineteenth-century Victorian-era science to Euro-American occultism, colonial, and post colonial India. Ramaswamy discusses particularly how cultures process the experience of loss.
- "Lemuria and Kumari Kandam". The Hindu.
- Ramaswamy 2004, p. 143
- Ramaswamy 2000, p. 584
- Ramaswamy, Sumathi (2005), The lost land of Lemuria: fabulous geographies, catastrophic histories, University of California Press, ISBN 978-0-520-24440-5, retrieved 28 September 2010
- Madras Tamil lexicon, குமரிகண்டம்
- Ramaswamy 2000, p. 582
- Ramaswamy & 1999 p97
- "The Lemuria Myth". Frontline (India). 9 April 2011.
- S.C.Jayakaran (2004). "Lost land and the myth of Kumari kandam". Indian Folklore Research Journal. Retrieved 24 January 2012.
- Google Books - The King of Kumari Kandam
- Iravatham Mahadevan, Aryan or Dravidian or Neither? A Study of Recent Attempts to Decipher the Indus Script (1995-2000) EJVS (ISSN 1084-7561) vol. 8 (2002) issue 1 (March 8).
- Ramaswamy, Sumathi (1999), "Catastrophic Cartographies: Mapping the Lost Continent of Lemuria", Representations 67 (67): 92–129, doi:10.1525/rep.1999.67.1.01p0048w
- Ramaswamy, Sumathi (2000), "History at Land's End: Lemuria in Tamil Spatial Fables", The Journal of Asian Studies (The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 59, No. 3) 59 (3): 575–602, doi:10.2307/2658944, JSTOR 2658944
- Ramaswamy, Sumathi (2004), The Lost Land of Lemuria: Fabulous Geographies, Catastrophic Histories, Berkeley: University of California Press, ISBN 0-520-24440-0
- Map of Kumari Kandam as per folklore
- An Atlantis in the Indian Ocean
- Tamil Sangams* A short account on Tamil and (Tamil literary) history by C. V. Narasimhan