The learned people of ancient South India strove to master the 64 arts of life, what we might refer to as branches of knowledge or fields of study.

[A string inserted through the holes binds the leaves into a stack. Each bundle is a book]

Translating the list to English was tough, and some words were beyond my limited understanding. But here is a crude attempt at listing the 64 aaya-kalaigal:

  1. Grammar (required for verse and prose)
  2. Style or Metre (required for verse)
  3. Calligraphy
  4. Mathematics
  5. Vedas
  6. History
  7. Law (local and foreign)
  8. Astrology
  9. Tenets of Righteousness
  10. Yoga
  11. Religious Invocations (mantras)
  12. Interpretation of Omens
  13. Sculpture
  14. Medicine
  15. Anatomy
  16. Ancient Epics
  17. Etiquette
  18. Presentation and Bearing
  19. Gentle Speech
  20. Drama
  21. Percussion Instruments (vernacular: nadam)
  22. Percussion Instruments (vernacular: mrudhangam)
  23. String Instruments
  24. Wind Instruments
  25. Ability to discern various sounds (human and non-human)
  26. Music Modes
  27. Music Critique
  28. Archery
  29. Kanaga Paritchai (No idea what this refers to)
  30. Chariot driver
  31. Elephant rider (mahout)
  32. Equestrianism
  33. Gemmology
  34. Geomorphology (study of landforms)
  35. Warfare (strategy, tactics, and code of war)
  36. Wrestling
  37. Trapper (of men and beasts using wiles and lures)
  38. Seeking positives in negatives
  39. Technology
  40. Appreciation of Paganist Arts
  41. Ability to tame Temptations
  42. Secrets of Charming
  43. Alchemy
  44. Perceptiveness
  45. Kavuthiga Vaadham (No idea what this means)
  46. Palmistry
  47. Kaluzham (No idea what this means)
  48. Stoicism (etiquette for expressing/sharing loss)
  49. Knowledge of Clairvoyance*
  50. Knowledge of Levitation*
  51. Knowledge of Interstellar Travel*
  52. Knowledge of Astral Travel*
  53. Thannurukarathal (No idea what this means)
  54. Knowledge of Celestial Magic*
  55. Sleight of Hand (aka magic)
  56. Fire tantras (invocations)*
  57. Water tantras (invocations)*
  58. Prana (Air) tantras (invocations)*
  59. Third Eye (Sight) tantras (invocations)*
  60. Sound tantras (invocations)*
  61. Flow tantras (invocations) – as in ethereal and corporeal flows*
  62. Lifting the Veil tantras (invocations)*
  63. Katka thambanam (no idea what this means)
  64. Black magic*

*One can debate or accept that mankind lost much knowledge to history. But many modern discoveries draw from ancient knowledge. For example, there are stone carvings that show space travellers. Another example and not one in the realms of conspiracy theorists: scientists are working on (or have already perfected) a machine that can “see” the human aura—an ability that many (including this writer) believe ancient man possessed via use of the Third Eye.

But let’s leave speculation and stick to history as we know it.

Next week: Village Administration

Copyright @ Eric Alagan, 2019


    1. You’re very, welcome. Yes, I’m very sure in a previous life you and probably many other people, too, possessed such knowledge, skills, and gifts. Cheers, Eric

  1. After all these learned comments, my Dear Eric, I am afraid to write. 🙂 🙁 …As for ‘Kanagam,’ wonder if it means ‘Gold.’ Regards. 🙂

    1. Good day, Bro Yesudas,

      Fear not to share your thoughts for my readers and I treat our guests with respect, and look forward to learning from and entertaining one another.

      You’re right, ‘kanagam’ means ‘gold’. You’ve said much and, like a true teacher, tossed a pebble in the pond to see what flutters out. So, let me ‘flutter’ a little. LOL.

      Kanagam taken in a literal sense is gold. With fake gold (fool’s gold as they said in the wild western days of America), it took training and skills to identify real gold. Unlike now, back in those days I suppose there was no central assay office to authenticate gold presented by merchants coming from various parts of the country and the world. In this sense the people learned metallurgy, I suppose.

      Kanagam taken in the figurative sense, could mean the ability to differentiate the valuable from the base.

      That’s what I take away from your comment.

      All good wishes,

  2. Oh my, if only I have the power and skills of number 42 and those numbers with asterisks, I will use them secretly to infiltrate and teach a lesson to the scums of decision maker that are destroying earth and our future generations.

    Perhaps it is also God’s will that such knowledge do not fall into the wrong hands. History could be wiped out for good reasons.

    1. Hello Windy,

      Man possessed many exotic abilities such as clairvoyance, telepathy and astral travel but lost it all because of abuse.

      You’re right and it’s a scary thought – the current scum who call themselves leaders in government, industry and even the priesthood – having such powers.

      Trust your weekend is turning out well,

  3. Yes we moderns sometimes feel we have the sum total of knowledge. On a visit to Delhi there is an iron pole that they tell me was constructed in a way that has been lost to our modern generation. Don’t know if this is true, some tour guides have been known to exaggerate for effect, but I tend to believe that story. Who knows what else has been lost in history.

    1. Hello Ian,

      You too? LOL. The guide told me that the “iron pole” was made of elements not recognised by man and the term “iron” was a convenient term to get around the problem.
      Interestingly, a well known author – Lobsang Rampa – said the same thing in one of his books.

      Certainly history deprived us of much knowledge. A well-known incident – the burning down of the library in ancient Alexandria. In later centuries invaders – especially from the Asian Steppes – did the same wherever they went. Even now morons in places like Afghanistan blow up relics.


    2. I spend a lot of time plumbing the internet looking into the movement of tribes from Eurasia and am fascinated how they would just take their herds back and forth between West Europe and the Eurasian grasslands. No passports in pre-history they just moved on a whim or perhaps a prod from militants who wanted their grazing land. China was difficult to get to but the Mongols included them in their wanderings too didn’t they.
      I discovered in my readings that there was an isolated Sanskrit speaking people in NE China for a while who obviously were absorbed. Another fascination for me is the Harappan culture. Some identify them as Dravidians who were driven down to South India by the invading Arians.
      You’ve dealt with some of those wanderings in your blogs so we have common interests in history.
      Your book Song of the Ankle Rings was brilliant. Very authentic to the times and culture and had the familiar tragic ending of most works of that time from the Sub-Continent. 🙂

      1. Hello Ian,

        Yes, I’m a history buff too. Yes, there is plenty of information regarding Dravidian types popping up among faraway cultures in faraway times. Much of it could be speculative but once in a while, we come across irrefutable information. Fascinating is the word. We certainly share common interests 🙂

        Glad that you found Song of the Ankle Rings “brilliant”, Ian. Emailed you regarding a review 🙂


  4. For several years I believed that my mother had a third eye in the back of her head. It was because one day she was berating me for some infraction while she stood in the kitchen cooking. As she had her back to me I stuck my tongue out at her. Quick as a flash she added ” and don’t stick your tongue out at me!” I stood flabbergasted about to ask her how she knew when she said “yes, I have eyes in the back of my head.’ I believed her! Now I wonder, third eye, detection of human aura, or perhaps a shiny surface over the stove.
    Back to your translation – is the ancient tamil as difficult to understand as Chaucer English? What an impressive list – it coves about everything! Except it doesn’t mention raising children, teaching, love or erotica – perhaps these are the words you didn’t translate?

    1. Hello Jane,

      Yes, some incidents stick in our mind don’t they. LOL. A shiny surface or if the window was shut the reflection from the mirror, but as she was cooking – probably the former.

      Ancient Tamil differs quite a bit from the current. For example, if you look at the header to this post – there are some letters inscribed in the stonework that I don’t recognise and are out of use now.

      Re raising children, teaching, love or erotica – your observation could be right.

      Thank you, Jane, for sharing your experience (mothers have third eyes, I suspect) and your thoughts.


    2. Haha, We had a similar experience where the kids were misbehaving in the back seat and Georgine said “Stop that immediately!” The response from the back seat was “How did you know what we were doing?” To which the reply was given “I have eyes in the back of the head.” There was a muffled conversation then little fingers began searching through her hair while Georgine tried hard to control her laughter. Then a puzzled voice. “We can’t see the eyes in the back of your head?” And the response. “I closed them so you wouldn’t poke me in the eyes.” The back seat was relatively quiet for a while after that. LOL

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