Purusharttas- Sumerian Origin

The Hindu Purusharttas and their Sumerian Origins

Dr K. Loganathan,

Dear Friends

I have been pointing out the various kinds of cultural continuities that exist between the Sumerians and the Indians particularly the Dravidians. In this now I want to describe the possible Sumerian origins of the notions of Purusharttas, that in CaGkam literature was known as ARam (dharma) PoruL ( artha: economic wealth) and Inbam ( kaama : happiness). To these three, from about the Bakti period the notion of Viidu or Moksa was added. Perhaps it was already there as well though not discussed explicitly.

Some maintain that this is Vedic in origins and has been incorporated even in TirukkuRal indicating Vedic influence and so forth.

The following lines from Suruppak’s Neri ( c. 3000 BC, which is also mentioned, I think, in Rig Veda) are very significant in connection with this. If this view is acceptable then it would follow that what we call Hinduism today is in fact the continuation of the Sumerian and hence essentially Dravidian. The notion of Purusharthas including Moksa has been there in Sumerian times itself as the following lines would indicate.

The most important line in connection with this is the following where the very significant phrase “ me nam nun-na = Ta. mey nunnanam” occurs.

The meanings of “nirgaL” and ‘nig tuk-tuk ‘ are quite clear as the root words still survive in Tamil. The ‘nir’ exists in Tamil as ‘neer’ (straight) and ‘niir’ (the proper). Thus the meaning of this is ‘the great (kaL) righteousness, justice’ and hence what is known now as aRam (the Way) in Tamil and Dharma in Sk. To this day we talk of Neer-mai in the sense of Justice, the right and so forth, a central notion in aRam, the Right Way.

The phrase ‘nig tuk-tuk’ i.e. Ta. niga tuukku tuukku’, literally carrying or accumulating things or merchandise, makes the meaning quite clear - it is the accumulation of wealth. The word ‘nig’ occurs in the CaGkam word of ‘nikamam’, the shopping center or storehouse. Thus clearly it stands for the later PoruL or Sk artta, properties.

Now against this we have to see the meaning of ‘gaba.gal” which can be taken as Ta. kaba. kaL i.e. great heart. KavuL kaL. This can be either ‘inner strength’ or ‘joyous heart’. If the latter meaning is applicable then, we can see here the beginnings of the concept of Inbam, the Sk kaama amd which is Sumerian Ki-aga.(> kaaGka> kaama)


nir.gal nig tuk-tuk gaba.gal me nam.nun-na  ( Authority and possession, strength and aristocracy)

Ta. niirkaL nika tuukutuukku kaavalkaL mey nunnanam ( Standing in righteousness, accumulating wealth and inner strength (happiness) are the fine and lofty powers( to acquire).

Now some lines in this collection seems to give support for the interpretation of ‘gab.gal’ as ‘happiness’ especially ‘domestic happiness ‘ and hence kaama.

Domestic happiness was valued very highly as the following lines would indicate:

sa.ki.aga nig e du-du-u-dam ( Love maintains a family)

Ta. saa.kaaGka nika il toduutam  (“)


sa.hul.gig nig e gul-gul-lu-dam ( Hatred destroys a family)

Ta. saa.ol.kaikka nika il kolkolutam ( “)

Love (sa.ki.aga> saa.kaama) builds and maintains a family while hatred (sa.hul.gig < saa.ol.kaikku) destroys it. These observations make it abundantly clear that domestic happiness was vary much  valued by Suruppak and hence the heart that rejoices in domestic happiness, the kaama may in fact be the gaba.gal, Ta. kaba.kaL, the great heart.

Now of utmost importance is that these three are called ‘me nam-nun-na” i.e. Ta. mey nunnanam where all the root words are still in use in Tamil.  The ‘nun-na’ is the Ta. Nuniya: the ones at the very top or Ta. nuNNa: the very fine and subtle. The ‘me’ is the Ta. mey, meey, moy etc and which means ‘power, truth’ etc. Thus ‘mey nunnanam’ are the truths or powers but which are rare and at the very peak and hence desirable as the IDEALS

Thus living according to the RIGHT principles in moral judgments, acquiring wealth and enjoying domestic happiness with LOVE maintaining it.  were recognized as the BASIC DESRIES of man, the basic impulses that found human existence as such



an.edin-na (kus) ummu he-en-da-dar ( Let the water skin split on the plain)

Ta. aN.eetinna (kushu)ummu iiNdu teri ( In the wide expanse of the plain let the water skin split open)

an.edin-na : Ta. eetil : the outskirts, place outside the local area. See Ta. eetil aaLan : the man from the outskirts. Thre ‘-a’ here is the genitive case marker, Ta. a. We have see the meaning of ‘an’ consistent with this. There are many possibilities: Ta. aan, vaan ( sky), aN : place as in av-aN ( there) iv.aN ) here etc. So it appears that Su.an here is the Ta. aN. Thus aN.eetinna: in the place in the outskirt or the plain as here.

ummu=summu : Ta. ummu, cummu : to collect together ?

kus: Ta. koosam, Sk koosha : loud noise. Perhaps meaning secondary to the primary meaning of a skin drum.

he-en-da: Ta. iiNdu : then, an adverb of condition? See. iiNdu vantaal : if he then comes

dar Ta. teri “ to split open, break to pieces.


sa.ki.aga nig e du-du-u-dam ( Love maintains a family)

Ta. saa.kaaGka nika il toduutam  (“)

sa.ki.aga : Ta. kaaGkai : heat, kaaGkam> kaamam : love. The ‘sa’ which is retained in Sk may have the meaning of ‘feelings’ or ‘emotions’.  Sa.ki.aga: the feelimng of love. It may be related Ta. saal : good qualities.

du-du-u-dam : Ta. todu.uu.tam :  Ta. todu: to raise, build , create etc. The ‘tam” is a noun formative retained better in Sk. The ‘-uu-’ is a sound filler.


sa.hul.gig nig e gul-gul-lu-dam ( Hatred destroys a family)

Ta. saa.ol.kaikka nika il kolkolutam ( “)

sa.hul.gig : Ta. ol : evil; See Ta. ollaar ; the enemies.

Ta. kai: bitter in taste, something revolting, undesirable etc.

gul-gul-lu-dam : Ta. kolkolutam. Ta. kol: to kill, destroy; Ta. kulai, kaLai: to disperse


nir.gal nig tuk-tuk gaba.gal me nam.nun-na  ( Authority and possession, strength and aristocracy)

Ta. niirkaL nika tuukutuukku kaavalkaL mey nunnanam ( Standing in righteousness, accumulating wealth and inner strength are the fine and lofty powers( to acquire)

nir.gal : Ta. niirkaL: Ta. niir, neer : straight, right, nondevious

tuk.tuk : Ta. tuukuuku ; Ta. tuukku: to carry. Nig tuk.tuk: to carry things, merchandise and hence derivatively accumulate wealth.

gaba.gal : Ta. kabam.kal : strong and stone-like heart. The word ‘kabam’ exists only in derivative sense of the fluid in the chest. Perhaps the original meaning is ‘chest” that fits here. Also see Ta. kavuL : the armpits

me nam-nun-na Ta. mey nunnanam: lofty powers, ideals, truths?

nun-na :Ta. nunna(m) : that which fine and lofty; See Ta. nuni : at the very top


nir.gal-ra gu he-en-ne-ni-gal ( You should submit to the authority)

 Ta. niirgaLanRa  kuuv inneeni kaal  (“)

gu : Ta. kuuv: to cry, call out, sing etc. From this we have the meaning of throat or neck as here.

he-en-na-ni, he-en-na : Ta. innee, inneeni : immediately; an adverb of time


a.tuku ni-zu he-en-na-si-la  ( You should humiliate yourself to the mighty man)

Ta. aa.toku nii-ju eeNNa sii alai ( You should be stand away from  the powerful people)

a.toku : Ta. aaltoku:  those who have gathered aal or power

si-la : Ta. cey alai : should waver i.e. shold be frightened


dumu-mu lu.hul.gal-ra he-en-ne-si-gal-le ( My son, you should be (on guard) against the evil men(?)

Ta. tamu.moo uLuol.kaLanRa iiNNe sii kaallee

Si-gal-le “ Ta. cey kaavalla? : establish security measures?



The Nadies and the Purusharthas

Dr K. Loganathan 19-6-10

Though superficially the Nadies of the Siddhas and Purusharthas of Hindu philosophers,  including that of KuRaL here,  may appear quite different and unrelated, but are in fact the same though while one is clearly psychological the other is metaphysical. I want to point out  the fundamental similarities between the two so that deeper perspectives on such notions emerge.


The Naadi, as related to the Naaddam is instinctual pressures that are already there is the soul and which provides the various impulses for actions. The Prusharthas too are basic desires that constitutes what human beings want in fact in life. Thus they Fundamental intentionalities and almost the same as the various instinctual pressures that makes a man act in the world. What the Nadi Theory of Siddhas does is to EXPLAIN this adequately so that we have a better understanding of our own basic desires.


Now we can see that each act of man is a self-actualization, to borrow a term from Abraham Maslow but where we do not accept Maslow’s notion that self-actualization is the highest need in the hierarchical organization of NEEDS. All creatures act and in that they self-actualize,  bring  forth into open an essence of the self that remains hitherto unrealized, hidden and concealed.  In some cases a person acts in order to be happy, in other   cases  he acts in order to  acquire some possessions and so forth. In the contexts of these self actualizations, he  notes  that over and above his will there are aspects of aRam or justice and fairness in his actions. There cones to  prevail Moral Conscience , the Iruvainai , the Right and Wrong in all his actions whereby he begins to avoid some actions as Wrong or evil while pursuing others as right the proper and so forth. The aRam is not his invention but rather an input from within that puzzles him and which he finds difficult to overlook.

The Purushartha Theory stops at this level and does not illuminate us any further.


The Siddhas note that these basic desires arise because of Nadies that configure the general behavior of all creatures and the Nadies are Idakalai PinglaLao Cuzimunai and Guru Nadi.  The MaraNa Nadi runs trying to Kill all these basic impulses so that the person becomes essentially dead. The Idakalai is dominated by the Siva Tatva Natam and when dominant creates pressures for becoming socially  powerful and where we can include the desire to acquire enormous wealth, the PoruL as part of it. It also includes the aspirations for social ascendance and hence political leadership and so forth. In contrast to this we have the Pingkalai, dominated by Vindu, and which installs desires for enjoyment including the sexual type. We can locate the sexual libido here.

Now these nadies are regulated not only by the Natam and Bindu the Siva Tatvas but also the deites- the masculine deities for Natam and female  deities for Bindu. When in the course of these pursuits, these deities are felt to be there regulating the actions, then we have the MoraL Sense emerging and regulating the actions. Thus here we have the three purusharthas but in a wider context and with a better understanding.


Now when the soul becomes deeply concerned with Ethics , the aRam or Dharma in the proper sense of it, we have the soul beginning to sojourn in the Cuzimunai Nadi and which makes also a person essentially metaphysical and hence religious. Both Natam and Bindu coexist here and hence the reigning deity is the androgynous SivaSakti  who also provide deep metaphysical insights and illuminations. These illuminations dispel the Ignorance that prompts the soul in the first place to act in various ways. As the Mummalam infecting the soul becomes dislodged by these metaphysical illuminations, the soul loses the earthly desires and hence the worldly purusharthas of  PoruL Inbam and even aRam. At the end of this journey in CuziMunai Nadi, we have the purification of the soul where to be absolutely Pure and full of LOVE unto all becomes the essential Purushartha. The seeking for Aram or Dharma leads the soul to be pure of the malams and  in that full of LOVE for all.


It is here that we have the soul beginning the journey in Guru Nadi where the only desire is that for Moksa the Vidu PeeRu, the final liberation from endless phenomenal circulation, of endless embodiments – biological births and deaths. Thus we have the Purushartha Moksa emerging as part of the existential movement in the Guru Nadi - that Nadi that brings about the final liberation by transporting the self into the Celestial World or the heaven of the world religions.

This Guru Nadi is also that which overcomes the MaraNa Nadi, the desire for death that is installed by ANava Malam, the Sahajs Malam, the root Malam that is in fact the most powerful Killer Power, the Poison that only Siva can control.

Thus we have here a hierarchy   in the prurusharthas themselves, something already there but not highlighted in the traditional accounts.


Now we must note that these Nadies and hence Purusharthas are quite universal and are present in the bosom of all human beings.  However it appears that it was the SumeroTamils who first analyzed  it and verbalized it as conscious understanding of the fundament impulses of man and which they called Mey NuNNanam( me  nam-nunna ) . This analysis and articulation of the ancient Sumerians even during the Third Millennium BC itself, has come to stay as a permanent feature of the Hindu culture.  It also appears that it was the Siddhas who adumbrated it further and made the whole matter quite intelligible. The  Vedantic tradition lacking the Fundamental Ontology of Pati Pasu Paasam with the Mummalam as part of the Pasam, has remained at the level of Purisharthas and failed to see them as Nadies as did the Siddhas.


For the Sumerian origins please see:



Dr K. Loganathan 19-6-10