Tuesday, 17 July 2012


Puma Punku also called 'Puma Pumku' or 'Puma Punchu', is part of a large temple complex at Tiwanaku in Bolivia. In the Native American Aymara language , 'Puma Punku' means, 'The Door of the Puma (Lion)'.

Here is a look at the name 'Puma Punku' through the Sanskrit lens. If we were to look at the names of other ancient observatories that measure solstices in Peru and Boliva such as Sacsay-huaman' and 'Inti-huatana' we find that the words 'huaman' and 'huatana' are probably distortions of the same word.What might that word be.

In Sanskrit 'ayana' (अयन) is the word for 'solstice'. 'Ayana' also means 'half year' or 'precession (of the equinox)'. 'Hayana' (हायन) means 'that which repeats every year' in the context of astronomy. It is quite possible that the Sanskrit 'hayana' that distorts to 'huaman' in 'Sacsay-huaman' and to 'huatana' in 'Inti-huatana', shows up as 'puman' instead of 'huaman' or hayana' in the name 'Puman Punchu'. For more on the Sanskrit connection to the name 'Sacsay-huaman' click here and for the Sanskrit connection to the name 'Inti-huatana' click here.

What about the Punku or Panchu. A close cognate of Panchu is  'Pancha' (पञ्च). 'Pancha' has many meanings in Sanskrit - the most common is 'five', but 'pancha' also means 'measure'. In fact the Vedic calender is known as 'panchanga'. The 'panchanga' measures the movement of the sun and moon. The literal translation of Pancha is 'five' and 'anga 'is part. In a calender, 'pancha' refers to the five measures - the lunar day (tithi), day of the week, lunar mansion (nakshatra), luni-solar day (yoga) and half -lunar day (karana). 

Puma Punku
Solistice Observation Point

Courtesy: http://subharanjangupta.wordpress.com
If Puma Punku is an observatory which measures the 'solstices', then its name may well be a distortion of words related to the Sanskrit 'hayana' and 'panchanga'. In fact the temple of Kalasasaya in Puma Punku is also a stone-calender that is aligned with the solstices. It is not surprising that here too there is a Sanskrit connection - 'Kala' काल)means 'time'.For more on this click here.

So where might the link to the Ayamara 'Door of the Lion' translation of 'Puma Punku' have evolved from. In Sanskrit Lord Shiva is known as 'Pancha-anana' (पञ्चानन) or 'Five-Faced'- where four of the five faces represent, the four directions, and, one face points towards the sky. However what is interesting is that 'Pancha-anana' also means 'Lion' in Sanskrit, which connects it to the Ayanmara meaning of 'Puma Punku'.
The 'lion' is known by many other names in Sanskrit were the word 'pancha' repeatedly occurs - namely Pancha-Mukha (पञ्चमुख), Pancha-nakha (पञ्चनख), Panchasya (पञ्चास्य), Panchavaktra (पञ्चवक्त्र), and Panchashikha (पञ्चशिख). Other cognates such as Palamkasha (पलंकष) also meaning 'lion'.

The Face on the Gateway of the Sun
at Puma Punku
The face has been interpreted both as the Sun and Lion

Suggested Links:
Ayamara Language
Puma Punku

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