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Tamil word Kadavul

October 27, 2010

We will see some of the Tamil words for God used commonly.

Kadavul : Its one of the interesting word formed in Tamil, “Kadavul” the word  refers to God, and this word sounds similar to the english word “God”.

Now we will split up the word KadavUL into its basic sounds to get the meaning.

Ka+da+vu+l literally means, Gains + moves + inside

The “Ka+da” here means “Gains  +  Moves”,  so Kadavul literally is one who “Moves everything”

Other explanation is Ka+da =”Gain + Move”  means to “Cross or  Overcome” and “Vul” is whatever existing.. so KadaVul = One who is above everything, one who had overcome the self or existence.

Lets see the other words for the different names of God.

Iraivan: Irai+van an interesting word, இ+றை(e+rai) (the sound “Rai”  means “take to + within possession”

இறை என்றால் “விட்டுவிடாமல் பிடித்து வைத்திருப்பவன்” அல்லது “விட்டுவிடாமல் கொண்டு சேர்ப்பவன்”  Or One who is invisible, unknown to grasp.

தெய்வம் : தெளிவு  படுத்துபவை (Those which Explains/Announce/Guides to the goodness) Is another great word in Tamil and has a very deep meaning. It doesn’t mean a God or a person but it represents the nature’s actions and reactions that guides anyone. These are natural objects and events that favors anyone with some help, The Sanskrit word Deva is again means the same Tamil word Deivam, as the original concept of Deivam’s got forgotten in history and the various Deivam’s became personalities with unique traits shape and form.

MuruKan: is called  Tamil Kadavul, this word “Murukan” often refered as Murugu,

Mu+Ru+Ku mean

Mu=Occupying a place inside +

Ru + That which is taken inside +

Ku/Ka=Gaining inside,

here Muru means “That which is trying to get inside or detract our minds”, I think Murugu means to get into a difficult situation, locked up and not able to come out of it. So Murugan worship is performed by going to pilgrimage by walk and this one of relaxation and enlightenment technique, an age old method to relieve from stress in life.

The Suras that Murugan said to destroy could be those distractions that prevent one to think rationally or know the hidden things, The Word “Soora” in Tamil means that which is surrounded/Covered.(சூர்),

Its interesting to see many of simple concepts got changed and complicated and lost its original meaning with many stories.

Murugan depicted as one having  third eye , six facets and twelve hands  representing  one with multiple abilities. Murugan is also called as “Kanthan” means one who enlighten us. Murugan and other Tamil kadavuls(Gods) are often called as “Ayyan, Ayyanar, Ayyappan” meaning again one who is capable of teaching or worth following.

Murugan also called as Arumugam(six faced) or SanMugam(multiple faced), the multiple faces is referring to the six realms he is present.

PerumAl: The  almighty.

Sivan: is widely Worshipped God in India and Tamil Nadu,  Sivan (Si+Van) in Tamil means “Destroyer of Evil/Bad” , “Si” means to “make disappear”  or “to Make Small” and “Va” means the  object, or refers to the one who transforms. The word is of Sanskrit origin.

Easan: Siva in Tamil.

Ayyanar: One who answers our problems or one who can guide us.

Aandavan: “Aand+Avan” means the first one who controlled/ruled everything (the 5 senses).

Ganesan: Kana+Easan in Tamil could mean one who  “Watches and Gives”  “Kanithu Koduppavan(கணித்து ஈபவன்)”

Kana in Kanavan(Husband/Savior/Guardian/One who watches), Kanakku(Calculating), Kanal etc all came from the Tamil word  Kan(Eye), the source of Gnan,Know etc…

God in Thirukural:

We will see what is Thirukural’s God, the first few verses that praises God, speaks about following the one,

  • The en-lightener, (பகவன்)
  • One who came with that great knowledge about the unknown,(வாலறிவன்)
  • The one who went on to reach the flower (மலர்மிசை ஏகினான்) (Indirectly it means Spiritual enlightenment)
  • The one who wants us to follow the middle path,
  • One who has no requirements,
  • One who cant be compared with anything,
  • The One who conquered the five senses,
  • One who follows Aram, “Aram” the Tamil word means Doing Good the equivalent of the word Dharma,

The paths that Thiruvalluvar refers in his Kurals are about an earlier form of Buddhism or Jainism or  even Ajivikam or a similar one and should predates the time when  these religions personified their own Gods with stories and myths and corrupted their religion,  Kural respects knowledge and accepts that anyone can become a Guidance giver(God) when he follows the good path, it says in its first Kural that everything starts from the first one(Aathi Bagavan). Here I should not have used the word “God” as Kural do not talk about a creator, protector or anything of that sort but  refers to  “Iraivan” as one  who is worth following or one who teaches us.


Lastly I need to bring in this  verse  from “Choodamani Nigandu” about who is the God(Iraivan)

“கடையிலா ஞானத்தோடு காட்சி வீரியமே இன்ப.
மிடையுறு நாமமின்மை விதித்த கோத்திரங்களின்மை.
அடைவிலா ஆயுஇன்மை அந்தராயங்கள் இன்மை
உடையவன் யாவன் மற்று இவ்வுலகினுக்கு இறைவனாமே”

“One who has Infinite wisdom, Infinite presence with power and bliss(happiness).

One who has no specific name or identification to describe Him.

One who has no restricted lifespan and  no end or change to Him.

He is the one who is the God to this world.”


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13 Comments
  1. vasanth permalink

    The en-lightener, (பகவன்)

    please change this to vaan it should not be van i am refering to thonai kal

    • The word used in Thirukural and in many places is பகவன் and not பகவான், so i will keep it the same,

      ப – மிகுதியை குறிக்கும். (More)
      க/கல் – அறிவதை குறிக்கும். (Gain)

      அதிகம் அறியப்படுவது “பகலில்”,
      “பகலவன்” என்பது ஞாயிறை குறிப்பது,
      அதிகம் அறியப்படுவது “பக்கத்தில்”

      “பக” என்பது (“To shed light” or “To bring into focus”) என்னும் வினையை குறிப்பதாக கொண்டால், தமிழில் “வன்” என்று முடிவதே சரி.

      Thanks for your comment.

      • zeegod permalink

        Pagavaan only means the one who can Differenciate. Paguthu aribavan. It is an equivalant to the tamil term – Kadavul which is equal to the greek term Know Thyself

      • zeegod permalink

        Pagavan is Sun but why pagavan? Cuz it also means that Sun DIVIDES (PAGU) the day from night. So pagu means DIVIDE ALSO You Idiots

      • As per my understanding of sounds, the root Paga=More with/adding up with + gain = so more (people) gains, so the concept of sharing(pagu) comes here, i believe here its showing off, the Tamil word. பகை/pagai(enmity) will give us further understanding, possession of sharing/showing, i.e not showing oneself and limit facing the other. So I think Pagavan/Bagvaan is one who shows/shares what we he has. From which i came up with the En-lightener meaning.

        By the way Can you explain the meaning of Sanskrit Bhagvaan? do you think both are related?

        Thanks for your comments on pagavan and Ganesan. :)

    • zeegod permalink

      Gana+eesan only means HEAVY EESAN BECAUSE OF ELEPHANT SHAPE. The proof is the name ganesan came only after cutting down a north slept elephant’s head became the head of ganesha. Vinayaka means kalnayak – villan:-) in sanskrit. Gana + eesan came from the bodily desires of paarvathy alias sakthi before mastrubating while bathing, hence ganesa was created out of paarvathi’s bodily dirt. Don’t defame tamils with your perverted and limited knowledge:-)

      • It can be .
        Reading various sources, this is my idea of Ganesha, The form/existence can take any shape, created primarily out of the energy(shakthi) based on our awareness of our surrounding, This transformation process is caused by Shiva. By shunning our ego(our head) brings in vast knowledge (Ganesha) that is guidance from the source(Vishnu).
        By the way I am not a born Hindu. Its just my understanding i am writing here.

  2. Sathyanandan permalink

    Hi Aruniyan,
    I am so lucky to have been lead to this blog. First and foremost, no amount of thanks to you will suffice to show my respects to your work on Tamizh in this blog. Keep up this noble work for enthusiasts like me. I amazed at how lively a language can get. As far as Tamil is concerned … i guess our ancestors crafted Tamizh such that “Life=Language”. They lived a language and their legacy is a practical, simple and subtle language.

    How unfortunate that the speakers of Tamizh are today unaware of its symbollism of a relishing life.

    I have heard elders saying that … Avaiyaar remarked about Thirukkural such-”Valluvar pierced an atom, injected seven seas into it and compressed it to kural”. Such was its enormity in brevity.
    Now i know it was not only because of Valluvar’s ability but also because of Tamizh’s inherent nature.

    I request you to eloborate on வாலறிவன். How does it mean “One who came with that great knowledge about the unknown”. It would be interesting to know more.
    Thanks a lot.

    • Dear Sathyanandan,
      Thanks for your valuable comments, I am not an expert in Tamil, It all started when I started reading Kural and trying to unravel some its mysterious short words. One more thing i want share is, our ancestors form verbs first, means nouns are nothing but the mix up of some basic primitive verbs, so same words were used to represent different objects but has the same properties. Regarding வாலறிவன், I will give you some clues, Vaal(வ் + ஆ + ல்) has these properties, Comes Out to be seen/வருவது + Unknown/Hidden/தெரியாமல் + in a place/இடத்தில், It refers to something that comes out, unknown, for me it means whats behind us, literally வருவதுதெரியாது, so vaalarivan is one who knows whats behind us.
      Vaal(tail), Vaal(sword) because of the thinness), vaaz(life) will give us a better understanding.

  3. Dharmamunisvaran permalink

    Nalla irukku

  4. zeegod@rediffmail.com permalink

    @aruniyan Please don’t insult the power of TAMIZH because of your ignorance of english alphabets because the way you said vaal vaal and vaaz are TOTALLY WRONG. The actual representations of these three types of “LA” should have been, VAAL (mellinam)(tail), VALL(vallinam)(sword) NOT BECAUSE OF THINNESS) and VAAZH(the special LA which is there only in TAMIZH) so Aruniyan, Tamizh unakkum enakkum indha article ezhudhina moodevikkum adhum kadavul appadinnu title vachu porambokku maadhiri kadavul appadeenguradhukku sambandhamae illaama article ezhudhuna oru andhanan porambokku……………………..(REMOVED FURTHER).

    • Please do not spam the blog with your comments, If you cant accept something Ive written, correct me with valid points, I can approve and publish it here. By the way I am NOT a born Hindu or I do not want myself to be associated with any religion. If you are worried about Veda go to those forums where they discuss those things. I am here just analyzing Tamil sounds and words, I know some of the words above are not pure Tamil but yet we can get their meanings from Tamil. Something is hiding your eyes, open up without prejudices, we can learn a lot.
      Thanks,
      Aruniyan.

  5. Appreciate the efforts of all….
    Just an info that i studied in the schooling…

    All that 3 forms of “La” are Idaiyinam only.. they don’t belong to Mellinam or Vallinam.

    Below are the classification of the letters based on how the sounds are pronounced and from which parts of the body they originate…

    Vallinam:::: Ka Sa Da Tha Pa Ra
    Idaiyinam:: Ya Ra La Va Zha La
    Mellinam:;: NYa Na Na Ma Na

    Just an info.. nothing to hurt anyone.

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