An analysis of history of Tamil religion/Part:12

The creation of the world has been one of the fundamental questions that the humans have been seeking an answer for,since time immemorial.Various spiritual,theological, philosophical,and scientific explanations have been put forth till date,in attempts to unravel the mystery of the world's creation.The first written tales of creation or myths were recorded by the Sumerians and It tells who & how created the world?the purpose of myth was to provide accounts of the origins of the universe and of mankind In the ancient world,and also the Myths defined the relationships between the gods and humanity and provided the basis of social order.The Sumerians settled in southern Mesopotamia around 3500 B.C.They established over 20 city-states and had thriving agriculture.Sumerian mythology is found in the world’s oldest surviving written works and influenced the mythologies of later civilisation.

The Mesopotamian civilisations of Sumer,Babylon,and others,all had a common concept of the cosmos.First,it was based on water as the fundamental primordial substance. All philosophers,down to the present,have had difficulty with the idea of the world arising from nothing.So,the ancients seemed content to start with a formless pervasive substance.But why water? Water was a reasoned choice.First,water was essential to life.Second,water was the only substance known to the ancients that existed in all three phases;liquid,solid,and vapour.Of course they did not really know of the existence of water vapour as a gas,but they must have observed that boiling water produced rising steam,that water evaporated,and also that water condensed on cool surfaces as dew.It probably never snowed or froze in Sumeria,but from the mountains of northern and eastern Mesopotamia people would have known of snow and ice and how it changed into water.Third,water came both up from under the ground and down as rain.So it was natural to conceive of water as surrounding the Earth (i.e. that part of the world where men dwelt).But the Earth was not flooded,even though it was surrounded by water.So the basic feature of Mesopotamian cosmology was the firmament,or vault of heaven,that created a dry space above the Earth.The Earth was a disk,and the firmament rested on the Earth around its edge as was obvious to any Mesopotamian scanning the horizon.Beneath the Earth were the waters of the abyss.The Earth had some thickness as was obvious from digging and from caves.Within the thickness of the Earth-disk was the underworld.Although they agreed on this basic cosmology,the various Mesopotamian cultures differed as to
details and accounts of how it came to be. A Sumerian myth known today as “Gilgamesh and the Netherworld”,Sumerian poem,“The Song of the Hoe.” , the Babylonian myth “Enuma Elish” and The short Babylonian narrative [tale] “Marduk,Creator of the World” are prominent creation stories from mesopotamia.Out of these the oldest written myth is the Sumerian creation story.For example,“Gilgamesh and the Netherworld” opens with a mythological prologue.It assumes that the gods and the universe already exist and that once a long time ago the heavens and earth were united,only later to be split apart.Similarly,Sumerian poem,“The Song of the Hoe”,as in many other Sumerian stories,the god Enlil is described as the deity who separates heavens and earth. 

The Sumerian cosmogony begins with the primordial sea called,Nammu,the mother
of all things and describes the order in which celestial bodies in the universe came into being.She[Nammu] created the heavens and earth from her own body/giving birth to "An",the Sky God,and "Ki",the Earth Goddess.No husband or male god is attested in connection with Namma/Nammu,thus leading to the belief that "the first cosmic production is asexual".In later tradition,namely in "Enuma Elish","Tiamat" takes over the role of "Namma" as primeval ocean.The reading and spelling of Namma's name has been subject to some research."An",the sky,is a hard metallic shell lies on the earth,"ki". According to the ancient Sumerian texts,the Sumerian god,"An/Anu",the “supreme Lord of the Sky”,the currently reigning titular head of the Sumerian Family Tree,had two sons.They were "Enki/Ea",Lord of the Earth and Waters (whose mother was Antu/ Antum/Nammu],and "Enlil/Ilu",Lord of the Air and Lord of the Command (whose mother was Ki).Further,According to legends,heaven and earth were once inseparable until Enlil was born;Enlil lifts "An" away from "ki",filling the space in which humans live.The space is filled with lil (atmosphere).The brighter parts of the lil form the sun,moon,and stars.For example,The moon was created when Enlil raped the goddess Ninlil and was banished to the underworld. As this would have meant the moon god,Nanna,would have been born in darkness instead of lighting the
sky,Enlil impersonated three underworld figures and impregnated Ninlil each time.This way,Ninlil gave birth to three substitutes in the underworld for Nanna,leaving the moon free to ascend to heaven.Nanna eventually married Ningal,a moon goddess,who gave birth to the sun god Utu,presumably to make the light brighter.By this time the world had come into being,for the sky (An) by expansion of air (Enlil) had reached a great height,and the earth (Ki) had made a solid floor below,with sun and moon to bring light.Enki was born,along with his sister Ereshkigal,when Anu's tears—shed for for his separated sister-lover Ki (earth)—met the salt waters of the primeval sea goddess Nammu.Hence Enki was the son of the god An & of the goddess Nammu (Kramer 1979: 28-29, 43)[ Antu/Antum/ Nammu],a concubine or another consort of Anu's was his mother?]Enki was the keeper of the holy powers called Me,the gifts of civilised living.Also Samuel Noah Kramer identifies "Ki" with the Sumerian mother goddess Ninhursag and claims that they were originally the same figure.Enlil also creates all living things.He also invents all the tools used by man and teaches him to use them.But it is not Enlil that creates man; it is Enki !

[By:Kandiah Thillaivinayagalingam]

Part/ 13 Will follow.......