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The Lost Continent of Kumari Kandam

The Lost Continent of Kumari Kandam

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Most people are familiar with the story of Atlantis, the legendary sunken city as described by the ancient Greek philosopher Plato. Till this day, opinion is still divided as to whether this story should be understood literally or taken merely as a morality tale. Further east in the subcontinent of India is a similar tale, though it probably is less well known compared to that of Atlantis. This is the ‘lost continent’ of Lemuria, frequently connected to the legend of Kumari Kandam by speakers of the Tamil language.

The term Lemuria has its origins in the latter part of the 19th century. The English geologist Philip Sclater was puzzled by the presence of lemur fossils in Madagascar and India but not in mainland Africa and the Middle East. Thus, in his 1864 article entitled ‘The Mammals of Madagascar’, Sclater proposed that Madagascar and India were once part of a larger continent, and named this missing landmass ‘Lemuria’. Sclater’s theory was accepted by the scientific community of that period as the explanation of the way lemurs could have migrated from Madagascar to India or vice versa in ancient times. With the emergence of the modern concepts of continental drift and plate tectonics, however, Sclater’s proposition of a submerged continent was no longer tenable. Yet, the idea of a lost continent refused to die, and some still believe that Lemuria was an actual continent that existed in the past.

One such group is the Tamil nationalists. The term Kumari Kandam first appeared in the 15th century Kanda Puranam, the Tamil version of the Skanda Puranam. Yet, stories about an ancient land submerged by the Indian Ocean have been recorded in many earlier Tamil literary works. According to the stories, there was a portion of land that was once ruled by the Pandiyan kings and was swallowed by the sea. When narratives about Lemuria arrived in colonial India, the country was going through a period when folklore was beginning to permeate historic knowledge as facts. As a result, Lemuria was quickly equated with Kumari Kandam.

Bhagavata-Purana, 10th Skanda

Bhagavata-Purana, 10th Skanda. Image source.

The story of Kumari Kandam is not regarded as just a story, but seems to be laden with nationalistic sentiments. It has been claimed that the Pandiyan kings of Kumari Kandam were the rulers of the whole Indian continent, and that Tamil civilisation is the oldest civilisation in the world. When Kumari Kandam was submerged, its people spread across the world and founded various civilisations, hence the claim that the lost continent was also the cradle of human civilisation.

So, how much truth is there in the story of Kumari Kandam? According to researchers at India’s National Institute of Oceanography, the sea level was lower by 100 m about 14,500 years ago and by 60 m about 10,000 years ago. Hence, it is entirely possible that there was once a land bridge connecting the island of Sri Lanka to mainland India. As the rate of global warming increased between 12,000 and 10,000 years ago, the rising sea levels resulted in periodic flooding. This would have submerged prehistoric settlements that were located around the low-lying coastal areas of India and Sri Lanka. Stories of these catastrophic events may have been transmitted orally from one generation to another and finally written down as the story of Kumari Kandam.

One piece of evidence used to support the existence of Kumari Kandam is Adam’s Bridge (also called Rama’s Bridge), a chain of limestone shoals made up of sand, silt and small pebbles located in the Palk Strait extending 18 miles from mainland India to Sri Lanka.  This strip of land was once believed to be a natural formation, however, others argue that images taken by a NASA satellite depict this land formation to be a long broken bridge under the ocean's surface. 

The location of Adam's Bridge between India and Sri Lanka

The existence of a bridge in this location is also supported by another ancient legend.  The Ramayana tells the tale of Sita, Rama’s wife, being held captive on the island of Lanka. Rama commissions a massive building project to construct a bridge to transport his army of Vanara (ape men) across the ocean to Lanka. 

As with most so-called myths, it seems likely that there is at least some truth to the ancient Tamil legends of Kumari Kandam, but just how much, is yet to be determined.

By Ḏḥwty

References

Jayakaran, S. C., 2011`. The Lemuria Myth. [Online]
Available at: http://www.frontline.in/navigation/?type=static&page=archiveSearch&aid=20110422280809000&ais=08&avol=28

Mahalingam, N., 2010. Lemuria and Kumari Kandam. [Online]
Available at: http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/lemuria-and-kumari-kandam/article482101.ece

Parameswaran, N., 2005. Tamil civilisation - is it the oldest?. [Online]
Available at: http://www.tamilguardian.com/article.asp?articleid=256

Wikipedia, 2014. Kumari Kandam. [Online]
Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kumari_Kandam

Wikipedia, 2014. Lemuria (continent). [Online]
Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemuria_(continent)

Comments

The argument is that Mankinds polluting ways are accelerating the rate of change to the point where we can't act fast enough to adapt to it. We have increased the maximum global temperature threshold that a natural cycle would have, pushing the limits of tolerance for most of mother nature.

We have also poisoned the planet with the burning of fossil fuels and left a toxic legacy of plastics which are destroying marine life by the millions and seeping petrochemicals into the Earth in landfills.

We never needed to use oil to the extent we do but now its in everything from your shampoo to the soles of your shoes and the ramifications of not only consumer waste but industrial waste on such a large scale needs to be considered.

Whilst Climate change is naturally occuring in many respects, we are not helping in anyway.

Tsurugi's picture

The problem is that the climate has always been in flux on this planet. It is always changing, and eventually those changes become catastrophic, for reasons that are not well understood by science.
But without that understanding, it is impossible to tell if modern climate change is being appreciably affected by the actions of mankind, and if so, how much and in what way.

Also, since we don't know what changes are natural, we can't be certain which ones are artificial(caused by man). This makes it difficult to accurately work to counteract climate changes induced by mankind.

Plus, what's the point? We know that the climate changes by itself, and has been doing so since long before mankind was even around. We know those natural changes eventually become catastrophic. So even if we all completely stopped using modern technology and went back to living in the trees, the climate would continue to change. And that change will eventually become catastrophic.

Curbing the activities of mankind will accomplish nothing.

Additionally, there is this basic fact: The primary driver of climate is the Sun. This can be simply illustrated through logic. Remove the sun, and there ceases to be any climate at all. The earth would be a frozen ball, including all of its atmospheric gases. It wouldn't matter how much "greenhouse gas" was in the atmosphere, it would still be frozen solid.

Atmospheric gases are, at most, secondary elements in earth's climate. The Sun is the primary element. And the sun has cycles of its own. It goes through hot and cool periods. But the effect of total insolation on overall climate is, again, not well understood, making it difficult to tell how much of climate change is caused by the sun and what is caused by various greenhouse gases.

Stop climate change? I don't think so. Whatever we might do to mitigate changes caused by the actions of mankind are not going to affect the natural changes. Burning less oil will have no effect on the Sun.

Daily article in front page of newspaper should be at the earliest cover about steps to tackle global warming. Its more informative and life saving than current scenario. Large share of mass including me are unaware of existence of steps to bring Mother earth back , with a high rate of deceleration in G.W. process. Action echoes louder than speech. I think more videos on activities like planting tree that is more common, and other means which are not known by public should be transmitted through internet. The lesson we should learn from is the after effect of large scale melting of polar ice. We may become the continent who may be washed in near future. Its not about fear of death, but history if possible can be proved lessons for mankind, Nature has fury and also calm, when we co operate may be Nature least struggle to regain balance.

Could this be the fabled Atlantis...India has the legends of Mount Meru , the epics of Ramayana are set in this area with extentions to south east Asian countries like Cambodia and Indonesia....the area is fairly active with volcanoes and earthquakes....the settings perfect for the sinking of the Atlantis.

Those Ape Men were the species much closer to the Homo-Erectus, species just before the evolution of a modern human being. Lord Rama can be considered as an alien but only in "Scientology."

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