Kumari Kandam

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kumari Kandam
Kumari Kandam map.png
Possible extent of the suggested Kumari Nadu subcontinent
Type Legendary lost continent, named in the Karuda Puranam and alluded to in Sangam literature
Notable characters Tamils

Kumari Kandam[1] (Tamil:குமரிக்கண்டம், Kumari Continent), also called as Kumari Nadu (Tamil:குமரிநாடு, Kumari Country) is the name for a hypothetical sunken continent in the Indian Ocean.

The word "Kumari Kandam" first appears in Kanda Puranam, a 15th century Tamil version of the Skanda Purana, written by Kachiappa Sivacharyara (1350–1420).[2] There, it is used to describe the part of the world, where the humans live i.e. the earth. The ancient Tamil literature mentions some instances of land in South India being lost to the oceanic floods. In the late 19th century, Tamil nationalists started using the word "Kumari Kandam" to describe this submerged land, and connected these descriptions to the now-obsolete theory about Lemuria, a vast hypothetical submerged land connection between India, Australia and Madagascar. The Tamil nationalists insisted that this continent was once a Tamil kingdom and the cradle of civilization.[3]


References from literary sources[edit]

Many of the earliest extant Tamil literary works and their commentaries, mentions that a portion of the land ruled by Pandiyan Kings was submerged in the Indian Ocean. The following are the literary references which give information about this submerged land:

References of Kumari Kandam from some of the Tamil literary sources
  • According to Silappadhikaram, one of the Five Great Epics of Tamil Literature written in 2nd century CE, states that the "cruel sea" took the Pandiyan's land, part of which was present between the rivers Pahruli and the mountainous banks of the Kumari. These rivers are said to have flowed in a now-submerged land.[4] Adiyarkkunallar, a 12th-century CE 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 kāvatam from the Pahruli river in the north to the Kumari river in the south.[3]
This land was divided into 49 nadu(countries), 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.[4] Two of these Nadus or territories were supposedly parts of present-day Kollam and Kanyakumari districts.
  • In Tamil literary works Aintiram, Silappadhikaram, Manimekhalai and SaivamPaayanam and in Sanskrit literary work Bhagavatha Purana, there are information about Tamil sage Mayan,[5][6][7][8][9][10] who wrote one of the Tamil Sangam literary works Aintiram, and was part of Tamil Sangams and lived in Kumari Kandam.[5][11] This sage also wrote other Tamil literature Pranava Vedham(which is called by Vyasa as the predecessor of four Vedas in Bhagavatha Purana[9]), MayaMatham(Book about Architecture, Sculptures and Vasthu) and SuriyaNool(Book about Astronomy and Astrology), one Tamil grammatical work, etc. According to his work Aintiram, Kumari Kandam was a land which has huge area and the PalThuli river(PalThuli - Divided grammatical form of Pahruli according to Tamil grammar which means many drops), one of the Kumari Kandam rivers, originated from PeruMalai(means big mountain - represents MeruMalai - Meru Mountain). It also tells that there were 49 lands((7 divisions) x (7 lands per division)) which were called as 49 countries((7 divisions) x (7 countries per division)) in Kumari Kandam.[12] Tamil literary work SaivamPaayanam gives information about Kumari Kandam and its territories. It also mentions the existence of PeruMalai(MeruMalai - Meru Mountain) in Kumari Kandam.[13]
  • The Tamil Grammar work Nannool talks about the sunken country Kumari Kandam.[19]
  • The Tamil literature SiruKakkaip Paadiniyaar talks about the Kumari Kandam.[20]
  • There are references for Kumari Kandam present in Kantapuranam, which mentions it as one of the nine continents of old times,[21] or one of the nine divisions of India and the only region not to be inhabited by barbarians.[22]
  • According to the Matsya Purana, Manu was the king of Dravidadesa(Tamil country) in Kumari Kandam. There are references for Kumari Kandam present in Karuda Puranam. Also, 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.[23]
  • The book The Lost Land of Lemuria: Fabulous Geographies, Catastrophic Histories by Sumathi Ramaswamy states that: "Adiyarkkunallar, a 12th-century CE commentator on the epic Silappadhikaram, explains this reference by saying that there was once a land to the south of the present-day Kanyakumari, which stretched for 700 kāvatam from the Pahruli river in the north to the Kumari river in the south. The hypothesis of Kumari Kandam is considered to be pseudoscience since it is not compatible with main stream geological theory."[3]

The 19th and 20th century Tamil revivalist movements, however, came to apply the name to the territories described in Adiyarkkunallar's commentary to the Silappadhikaram.[24] They also associated this territory with the references in the Tamil Sangams, and said that the cities of southern Madurai(ThenMadurai) and Kapatapuram where the first two Sangams were said to be held were located on Kumari Kandam.[25] 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.

Modern revival and association with Lemuria[edit]

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.[26] 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 autodidactic Dravidologist Devaneya Pavanar, who held that all languages on earth were merely corrupted Tamil dialects. Most of these modern interpretations are considered pseudoscience, or pseudoarchaeology, since they lack the standards and/or criteria.

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,[27] 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)

However scientifically, understanding of Continental drift does not allow for the disappearance of a continental mass between what is now Africa, India and Australia although it is possible in lost land theories and catastrophic theories.[28][29][30][31][32]

For example there were three major phases in the break-up of Pangaea. The first phase began in the Early-Middle Jurassic (about 175 Ma), when Pangaea began to rift from the Tethys Ocean in the east to the Pacific in the west, ultimately giving rise to the supercontinents Laurasia and Gondwana. The rifting that took place between North America and Africa produced multiple failed rifts. One rift resulted in a new ocean, the North Atlantic Ocean.[33]

Popular culture[edit]

Continental Drift

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.[34]


  1. ^ "Lemuria and Kumari Kandam". The Hindu. 
  2. ^ Richard S. Weiss (22 January 2009). Recipes for Immortality : Healing, Religion, and Community in South India: Healing, Religion, and Community in South India. Oxford University Press. pp. 89–97. ISBN 978-0-19-971500-8. 
  3. ^ a b c 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 
  4. ^ a b Ramaswamy 2000, p. 584
  5. ^ a b Aintiram
  6. ^ Silappadhikaram, Song Numbers : 2-12, 5-105
  7. ^ Manimekhalai, Song Numbers : 3-79, 6-201, 21-132
  8. ^ SaivamPaayanam Song Numbers : 318,386,899,978,1084,1166,1177
  9. ^ a b Bhagavatha Purana, Song Number : 9.14.48
    ஏக ஏவ புற வேதாஹ்
    பிரணவ சர்வ வன்-மயஹ
    :::: Bhagavatha Purana, Song Number : 9.14.48
  10. ^ International Society For The Investigation Of Ancient Civilizations, Editor N. Mahalingam
  11. ^ PandaiThadaiyam(பண்டைத்தடயம்), SirpaSiddhan Mayan Varalaaru(சிற்பச்சித்தன் மயன் வரலாறு), Manikkavaasagar Press, Nadana Kaasinaathan, Maa.ChandiraMoorthi, Dec 2005.
  12. ^ Aintiram - Song Number : 812
  13. ^ SaivamPaayanam - Song Number : 864
  14. ^ Gaur A. S. and Sundaresh, Underwater Exploration off Poompuhar and possible causes of its Submergence, 1998, Puratattva, 28: 84-90. Available online at [1]
  15. ^ Marine archaeological explorations of Tranquebar-Poompuhar region on Tamil Nadu coast, Rao, S.R.. Journal of Marine Archaeology, Vol. II, July 1991, pp. 5–20. Available online at [2]
  16. ^ Indian and Foreign Review, Volume 17, Publications Division of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, 1979
  17. ^ Tamil vidu thoothu, Madurai Sokkanaathar
  18. ^ Kaliththokai, Song Number:104
  19. ^ Nannool, Song Number:0
  20. ^ SiruKakkaip Paadiniyaar
  21. ^ Madras Tamil lexicon, குமரிகண்டம்
  22. ^ Ramaswamy 2000, p. 582
  23. ^ Ramaswamy 2004, p. 143
  24. ^ Ramaswamy & 1999 p97
  25. ^ "The Lemuria Myth". Frontline (India). 9 April 2011. 
  26. ^ S.C.Jayakaran (2004). "Lost land and the myth of Kumari kandam". Indian Folklore Research Journal. Retrieved 24 January 2012. 
  27. ^ (Possehl, 1996)
  28. ^ Lovett, Richard A. (September 5, 2008). "Supercontinent Pangaea Pushed, Not Sucked, Into Place". National Geographic News. 
  29. ^ Barbara W. Murck, Brian J. Skinner, Geology Today: Understanding Our Planet, Study Guide, Wiley, ISBN 978-0-471-32323-5
  30. ^ Philip Kearey, Keith A. Klepeis, Frederick J. Vine (2009). Global Tectonics (3rd. ed), p.66–67. Chichester:Wiley. ISBN 978-1-4051-0777-8
  31. ^ Zeeya Merali, Brian J. Skinner, Visualizing Earth Science, Wiley, ISBN 978-0-470-41847-5
  32. ^ Nature 421, pp245–249 (16 January 2003) http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v421/n6920/abs/nature01290.html
  33. ^ Zeeya Merali, Brian J. Skinner, Visualizing Earth Science, Wiley, ISBN 978-0-470-41847-5
  34. ^ Google Books - The King of Kumari Kandam