An analysis of history of Tamil religion/Part:10

The Sumerians practiced polytheism,the worship of many gods.These gods were by no means uniform in name,power,provenance or status in the hierarchy.Mesopotamian culture varied from region to region,from city-state to city-state.So,Generally,Mesopotamian people worshipped many different gods,Among the gods they worshipped were Enlil, the lord of the air; Enki,god of wisdom;and Inanna,goddess of love and war.In addition,The sun and moon were represented by the gods Utu and Nanna.For example,one of the the main Sumerian deities,the sun god Utu or Shamash,as the solar deity,exercised the power of light over darkness and evil.In this capacity he became known as the god of justice and equity and was the judge of both gods and men.According to legend,the
Babylonian king Hammurabi received his code of laws from Shamash.Also at night, Shamash became judge of the underworld.The sun has been given an extraordinary position in early human culture, possibly as it gives us light & heat and without it,no living things would exist in this world.So Sun may be the first god people worshipped and the concept of sun worship is one nearly as old as mankind itself.In societies,like sumerians,that were primarily agricultural,and depended on the sun for life and sustenance,it is no surprise that the sun became deified. Sun worship has also been found among Dravidians or Tamils and they celebrate Thai Pongal,mainly to convey their appreciation to the Sun God for providing the energy for agriculture. They worshipped moon too.The god of moon called Nanna or Sin.He is commonly designated as En-zu, which means "lord of wisdom"The two chief seats of Nanna's/Sin's worship were Ur in the south of Mesopotamia and Harran in the north.The religious importance of these Sumerian gods changed with the political power of the associated city.For example,When Babylon became the political center in southern Mesopotamia in the time of Hammurabi (18th century BC),Marduk slowly rose from an obscure deity in
the third millennium BC to become one of the most important gods and the head of the Mesopotamian pantheon in the first millennium BC and was elevated to the level of supreme god.However,When Nabonidus became king of Babylon in 555 BC,He neglected the festivities in honour of the god Marduk and Instead,he had a temple build for the cult of the moon god Sin,and his mother and daughter were its priestesses.This worship of the moon god in favour of the traditional Babylonian deity made Nabonidus' rule disputed. 

Sumerians believed that When the gods were displeased,humans suffered.For
example,If the Tigris River flooded,and a whole village was destroyed,that meant humans had not been successful at keeping the gods happy.So,Sumerians believed it was essential for the survival of the city-state to have people who knew what the gods liked and disliked.A priestly class arose out of this need.Priests specialized in practicing rituals.They could divine (predict/understand) the will of the gods,what to do if the gods were displeased, and how to gain the gods’ favour.this made priests extremely important to the Sumerians,and they became some of the most powerful and important people in society.Because of this status,priests occupied a high level in Sumer’s social hierarchy,the division of society by rank or class.In fact,priests were just below kings.The kings of Sumer claimed that they had been chosen by the gods to rule.Below the priests were Sumer’s skilled craftspeople, merchants ,and traders. Trade had a great impact on Sumerian society. Traders traveled to faraway places and exchanged grain for gold,silver,copper,lumber,and precious stones.Below traders,farmers and laborers made up the large working class. Slaves were at the
bottom of the social order.As common people could not generally approach god directly.This was done through this sumerian Priests,They also told and advice  people how to behave to keep the gods happy.Sometimes gods were kind,but sometimes gods were cruel.Either way,the sumerians believed that they had no control over what the gods did.In fact,the sumerians believed that they were slaves of the gods & that they were put on earth to serve and take care of the gods and they served their gods with sacrificial offerings and supplications.Even seventh century AD,Appar,Thirunavukkarasu Nayanar too said:"It is God Siva duty is to support and  protect me and My duty is just to keep serving. ".That is  "en kadan pani cheydhu kidappadhe".The moment one says thirunavukkarasar automatically the image comes to the mind is that of a saint with
the uzavaram[handplow]  on his shoulder,to clean the abode of the Lord removing the
plants that grow in disturbing fashion.In brief,the Sumerians believed that if the gods were happy,everything would be great.Food would be plentiful,the flooding of the rivers would be regular and predictable,there would be no earthquakes,bad sand storms or other disasters,and life would be just great.We all know that there are periods when life is great.It always eventually takes a turn,however,and in Sumer,when life took a turn,the people blamed themselves for doing something to upset the gods.They believed that If the gods weren’t happy, they became cranky and took it out on the people."The sumerians story of the creation of people"  tells why.So,Religion was very important in Sumerian society.In fact,it played a role in nearly every aspect of public and private life. In many ways,religion was the basis for all of Sumerian society,and it Shapes sumerian Society too. 

[By:Kandiah Thillaivinayagalingam]

Part/11 Will follow......  


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