Tamil Nadu is one of the 29 states of India. Its capital and largest city is Chennai. Tamil Nadu lies in the southernmost part of the Indian subcontinent and is bordered by the union territory of Puducherry and the South Indian states of Kerala and Andhra Pradesh, it is bounded by the Eastern Ghats on the north, by the Nilgiri Mountains, the Meghamalai Hills, Kerala on the west, by the Bay of Bengal in the east, by the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait on the southeast, by the Indian Ocean on the south. The state shares a maritime border with the nation of Sri Lanka. Tamil Nadu is the sixth largest by population, it has a high HDI ranking among Indian states as of 2017. The economy of Tamil Nadu is the second-largest state economy in India with ₹17.25 lakh crore in gross domestic product after Maharashtra and a per capita GDP of ₹167,000. It was ranked as one of the top seven developed states in India based on a "Multidimensional Development Index" in a 2013 report published by the Reserve Bank of India.
Its official language is Tamil, one of the longest-surviving classical languages in the world. The region was ruled by several empires, including the three great empires – Chola and Pandyan empires, which shape the region's cuisine and architecture; the British Colonial rule during the modern period led to the emergence of Chennai known as Madras, as a world-class city. Modern-day Tamil Nadu was formed in 1956 after the reorganization of states on linguistic lines; the state is home to a number of historic buildings, multi-religious pilgrimage sites, hill stations and three World Heritage sites. Archaeological evidence points to this area being one of the longest continuous habitations in the Indian peninsula. In Attirampakkam, archaeologists from the Sharma Centre for Heritage Education excavated ancient stone tools which suggests that a humanlike population existed in the Tamil Nadu region somewhere around 300,000 years before homo sapiens arrived from Africa. In Adichanallur, 24 km from Tirunelveli, archaeologists from the Archaeological Survey of India unearthed 169 clay urns containing human skulls, bones, grains of rice, charred rice and celts of the Neolithic period, 3,800 years ago.
The ASI archaeologists have proposed that the script used at that site is "very rudimentary" Tamil Brahmi. Adichanallur has been announced as an archaeological site for further excavation and studies. About 60 per cent of the total epigraphical inscriptions found by the ASI in India are from Tamil Nadu, most of these are in the Tamil language. A Neolithic stone celt with the Indus script on it was discovered at Sembian-Kandiyur near Mayiladuthurai in Tamil Nadu. According to epigraphist Iravatham Mahadevan, this was the first datable artefact bearing the Indus script to be found in Tamil Nadu. According to Mahadevan, the find was evidence of the use of the Harappan language, therefore that the "Neolithic people of the Tamil country spoke a Harappan language"; the date of the celt was estimated at between 1500 BCE and 2000 BCE. Though this finding remains contested,like the claim of historian Michel Danino who rubbishes the theory of the latter’s southward migration in a paper he presented at the International Symposium on Indus Civilisation and Tamil Language in 2007.
He wrote: ‘There is no archaeological evidence of a southward migration through the Deccan after the end of the urban phase of the Indus- Sarasvati civilization… The only actual evidence of movements at that period is of Late Harappans migrating towards the Ganges plains and towards Gujarat... Migration apart, there is a complete absence of Harappan artefacts and features south of the Vindhyas: no Harappan designs on pottery, no Harappan seals and ornaments, no trace of Harappan urbanism… Cultural continuity from Harappan to historical times has been documented in North India, but not in the South… This means, in effect, that the south-bound Late Harappans would have reverted from an advanced urban bronze-age culture to a Neolithic one! Their migration to South would thus constitute a double “archaeological miracle”: apart from being undetectable on the ground, it implies that the migrants experienced a total break with all their traditions; such a phenomenon is unheard of.’ The early history of the people and rulers of Tamil Nadu is a topic in Tamil literary sources known as Sangam literature.
Numismatic and literary sources corroborate that the Sangam period lasted for about eight centuries, from 500 BC to AD 300. The recent excavations in Alagankulam archaeological site suggests that Alagankulam is one of the important trade centre or port city in Sangam Era; the Bhakti movement originated in Tamil speaking region of South India and spread northwards through India. The Bhakti Movement was a rapid growth of bhakti beginning in this region with the Saiva Nayanars and the Vaisnava Alvars who spread bhakti poetry and devotion; the Alwars and Nayanmars were instrumental in propagating the Bhakti tradition. During the 4th to 8th centuries, Tamil Nadu saw the rise of the Pallava dynasty under Mahendravarman I and his son Mamalla Narasimhavarman I; the Pallavas ruled parts of South India with Kanchipuram as their capital. Tamil architecture reached its peak during Pallava rule. Narasimhavarman II built the Shore Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Much the Pallavas were replaced by the Chola dynasty as the dominant kingdom in the 9th century and they in turn were replaced by the Pandyan Dynasty in the 13th century.
The Pandyan capital Madurai was in the deep s
Kandaswami Temple, Georgetown
Kandaswami Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Murugan, located in the Parry's corner neighbourhood of Chennai city, in Tamil Nadu, India. It is called'Mutthu Kumāra Swāmi deva sthānam' and popularly known as Kandha kottam, it is managed by the Tamil Nadu Hindu religious and charitable endowments department of the government of Tamil Nadu. The Kandha kottam temple has associated educational institutions for dance classes; the Kandha kottam temple performs social welfare initiatives like free medical clinics and free pharmacies. The original temple was constructed by the Maari Chettiar in the 1670s; the existing temple was built with stone in the early 1800s. It has seen many renovations, is considered to be one of the finest in the neighbourhood; the area covered by the temple is about eight acres. The temple tank is'Saravana Poigai' and the Sthala Viruksham is Magizham tree. According to the stone inscriptions in the temple, the moolavar vigraham of Murugan in this temple was discovered and brought from a tank bund near Thiru porur Shri Kandha Swāmi Temple.
It is a famous Murugan temple situated on the Chennai to Mahabalipuram route and that vigraham was installed in this temple during the 1670s. The moolavar vigraham'Shri Kandha swāmi', brought from'Thiru porur', is about two feet in height. Shri Deivānai and Shri Valli are on either side of this presiding deity; the uthsava moorthi is known as'Shri Mutthu kumāra swāmi', has consorts Deivānai and Valli. They are in a separate shrine in a big uthsava mandapam. Next to the temple tank Saravana poigai, there is a shrine for Shri Kulakkarai Vināyagar with Siddhi and Buddhi as his consorts. There is a shrine nearby for Shri Kāshi Vishālākshi. At the entrance of this temple, there is a hall called'Parivedan mandapam'. Sculptured images of Vezha mugatthu Vināyagar in sitting and standing positions are kept on either side of the mandapam. To the front of the Artha mandapam, there is a'dwaja sthambam'; the Mukha mandapam is where the idols of Sarva Siddhi Vināyagar, Meenākshi Sundareswarar, Idumban, Rāmalinga Swāmigal, Pāmban Swāmigal are found.
The Kandha kottam temple is associated with the life of the saint Rāmalinga Swāmigal, who composed'Deiva mani malai' here. Saint Rāmalingam was a small child when he relocated with his mother to Chennai in 1826, he and his mother lived with his eldest brother Sabhapati and his wife Pāppāthi at 31/14 Veerasamy Pillai Street, Chennai-600001, in the area near Kandha kottam temple. During visits to the temple, when the priest offered the Deepa aradhana, this was perceived by Rāmalingam as a deep spiritual experience. In years he said of the experience: "No sooner the Light was perceived, happiness prevailed on me", and"The sweet nectar was tasted by me as soon as the Arut perun jothi became visible". After Rāmalingam reached five years of age, Sabhapati initiated his formal education, but the young child was not interested in that, instead he preferred trips to the nearby Kandha swāmi temple. Sabhapati thought that the child needed punishment as a form of discipline, he told his wife not to give Rāmalingam his daily meal.
His kind sister-in-law, secretly gave him food and persuaded him to study at home. In return, Rāmalingam asked for lighted lamp and mirror, he placed the light in front of the mirror. He thus began the young boy's spiritual life, he miraculously saw a vision of the Lord Muruga. Rāmalingam said: "The beauty endowed divine faces six, the illustrious shoulders twelve."At one time, Rāmalingam had to replace his elder brother Sabhapati at an upanyāsam session. His great discourse on verses from the `Periya purānam', an epic poem by Sekkizhar about the saintly'63 Nāyanārs', was appreciated by the devotees as being given by a learned scholar. Rāmalingam's mental and spiritual growth progressed rapidly. Rāmalingam says thanks to the Divine by: "Effulgent flame of grace, that lit in me intelligence, to know untaught."Saint Rāmalingam evolved in his spiritual journey from being a devout devotee of Lord Siva to worshipping the formless. The Kandha kottam temple has its famous yearly festivals of ādi's Kirutthigai with silver car, Aippasi's Kandha Shashti & Deivānai Thiru kalyānam, Karthigai's Deepam, Thai's Brahmotsavam, Thai Poosam, Panguni's Utthiram and the monthly festivals of Kirutthigai and Kandha Shashti.
The temple has weekly'Arut perun jothi Agaval' song on its daily āru jāma poojai. Muthiah, S.. Madras Rediscovered. East West Books Pvt Ltd. p. 329. ISBN 81-88661-24-4
Ganesha known as Ganapati, Vinayaka or by numerous other names, is one of the best-known and most worshipped deities in the Hindu pantheon. His image is found throughout India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bali and Nepal. Hindu denominations worship him regardless of affiliations. Devotion to Ganesha is diffused and extends to Jains and Buddhists. Although he is known by many attributes, Ganesha's elephant head makes him easy to identify. Ganesha is revered as the remover of obstacles, the patron of arts and sciences and the deva of intellect and wisdom; as the god of beginnings, he is honoured at the start of ceremonies. Ganesha is invoked as patron of letters and learning during writing sessions. Several texts relate mythological anecdotes associated with his birth and exploits. Ganesha emerged as a deity as early as the 2nd century CE, but most by the 4th and 5th centuries CE, during the Gupta period, although He inherited traits from Vedic and pre-Vedic precursors. Hindu mythology identifies him as the restored son of Parvati and Shiva of the Shaivism tradition, but he is a pan-Hindu god found in its various traditions.
In the Ganapatya tradition of Hinduism, Ganesha is the supreme deity. The principal texts on Ganesha include the Ganesha Purana, the Mudgala Purana, the Ganapati Atharvashirsa. Brahma Purana and Brahmanda Purana are other two Puranic genre encyclopedic texts that deal with Ganesha. Ganesha has been ascribed many other epithets, including Ganapati and Vighneshvara; the Hindu title of respect Shri is added before his name. The name Ganesha is a Sanskrit compound, joining the words gana, meaning a group, multitude, or categorical system and isha, meaning lord or master; the word gaṇa when associated with Ganesha is taken to refer to the gaṇas, a troop of semi-divine beings that form part of the retinue of Shiva, Ganesha's father. The term more means a category, community, association, or corporation; some commentators interpret the name "Lord of the Gaṇas" to mean "Lord of Hosts" or "Lord of created categories", such as the elements. Ganapati, a synonym for Ganesha, is a compound composed of gaṇa, meaning "group", pati, meaning "ruler" or "lord".
Though the earliest mention of the word Ganapati is found in hymn 2.23.1 of the 2nd-millennium BCE Rigveda, it is however uncertain that the Vedic term referred to Ganesha. The Amarakosha, an early Sanskrit lexicon, lists eight synonyms of Ganesha: Vinayaka, Vighnarāja, Dvaimātura, Gaṇādhipa, Heramba and Gajanana. Vinayaka is a common name for Ganesha that appears in Buddhist Tantras; this name is reflected in the naming of the eight famous Ganesha temples in Maharashtra known as the Ashtavinayak. The names Vighnesha and Vighneshvara refers to his primary function in Hinduism as the master and remover of obstacles. A prominent name for Ganesha in the Tamil language is Pillaiyar. A. K. Narain differentiates these terms by saying that pillai means a "child" while pillaiyar means a "noble child", he adds that the words pallu and pell in the Dravidian family of languages signify "tooth or tusk" "elephant tooth or tusk". Anita Raina Thapan notes that the root word pille in the name Pillaiyar might have meant "the young of the elephant", because the Pali word pillaka means "a young elephant".
In the Burmese language, Ganesha is known as Maha Peinne, derived from Pali Mahā Wināyaka. The widespread name of Ganesha in Thailand is Phra Phikanet; the earliest images and mention of Ganesha names as a major deity in present-day Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam date from the 7th- and 8th-centuries, these mirror Indian examples of the 5th century or earlier. In Sri Lankan Singhala Buddhist areas, he is known as Gana deviyo, revered along with Buddha, Vishnu and others. Ganesha is a popular figure in Indian art. Unlike those of some deities, representations of Ganesha show wide variations and distinct patterns changing over time, he may be portrayed standing, heroically taking action against demons, playing with his family as a boy, or sitting down on an elevated seat, or engaging in a range of contemporary situations. Ganesha images were prevalent in many parts of India by the 6th century; the 13th-century statue pictured is typical of Ganesha statuary from 900–1200, after Ganesha had been well-established as an independent deity with his own sect.
This example features some of Ganesha's common iconographic elements. A identical statue has been dated between 973–1200 by Paul Martin-Dubost, another similar statue is dated c. 12th century by Pratapaditya Pal. Ganesha has the head of a big belly; this statue has four arms, common in depictions of Ganesha. He holds his own broken tusk in his lower-right hand and holds a delicacy, which he samples with his trunk, in his lower-left hand; the motif of Ganesha turning his trunk to his left to taste a sweet in his lower-left hand is a archaic feature. A more primitive statue in one of the Ellora Caves with this general form has been dated to the 7th century. Details of the other hands are difficult to make out on the statue shown. In the standa
Mandapa in Indian architecture is a pillared outdoor hall or pavilion for public rituals. In the Hindu temple the mandapa is a porch-like structure through leading to the temple, it is part of the basic temple compound. The prayer hall was built in front of the temple's sanctum sanctorum. A large temple would have many mandapas. If a temple has more than one mandapa, each one is allocated for a different function and given a name to reflect its use. For example, a mandapa dedicated to divine marriage is referred to as a kalyana mandapa; the hall was pillared and the pillars adorned with intricate carvings. In contemporary terms, it represents a structure within which a Hindu wedding is performed; the bride and groom encircle. When a temple has more than one mandapa, they are given different names. Artha Mandapam or Ardh Mandapam – intermediary space between the temple exterior and the garba griha or the other mandapas of the temple Asthana Mandapam – assembly hall Kalyana Mandapam – dedicated to ritual marriage celebration of the Lord with Goddess Maha Mandapam – When there are several mandapas in the temple, it is the biggest and the tallest.
It is used for conducting religious discourses. Sometimes, the maha mandapa is built along a transversal axis with a transept. At the exterior, the transept ends by a large window which brings light and freshness into the temple. Nandi Mandapam – In the Shiva temples, pavilion with a statue of the sacred bull Nandi, looking at the statue or the lingam of Shiva. Ranga Mandapa Meghanath Mandapa Namaskara Mandapa Open Mandapa In Indonesia, the mandap is known as a pendopo. Unusually, Indonesian pendopos are built for Muslim communities. Many mosques follow the pendopo design, with a layered roof to resemble Mount Meru. In Tamil, this platform is the Aayiram Kaal Mandapam – a distinctly thousand pillared hall close to the vimana of the Koil which forms a distinct part of the site plan of classical Dravidian architecture; the Burmese term mandat, which has etymological origins in Pali maṇḍapa, is an open platform or pavilion from which people spray water to passers-by during the Buddhist festival Thingyan.
A mandapa in Thai is a mondop. It features in Thai temple art and architecture, either in the form of a Hor Trai or as an altar shrine such as the one in Wat Chiang Man in Chiang Mai. Pendopo Wedding mandap Zayat Photo of four-pillared Kakatiya mandapa Photo of relief in a mandapa Floor plan of North Indian temple with mandapa
Meenakshi Temple, is a historic Hindu temple located on the southern bank of the Vaigai River in the temple city of Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India. It is dedicated to Meenakshi, a form of Parvati, her consort, Sundareshwar, a form of Shiva; the temple is at the center of the ancient temple city of Madurai mentioned in the Tamil Sangam literature, with the goddess temple mentioned in 6th century CE texts. Though the temple has historic roots, most of the present campus structure was rebuilt after the 14th century CE, further repaired and expanded in the 17th century by Thirumalai Nayak. In the early 14th century, the armies of Delhi Sultanate led by Muslim Commander Malik Kafur plundered the temple, looted it of its valuables and destroyed the Madurai temple town along with many other temple towns of South India; the contemporary temple is the result of rebuilding efforts started by the Vijayanagara Empire rulers who rebuilt the core and reopened the temple. In the 16th century, the temple complex was further expanded and fortified by the Nayak ruler Vishwanatha Nayakar and others.
The restored complex now houses 14 gopurams, ranging from 45–50m in height, with the southern gopura tallest at 51.9 metres. The complex has numerous sculpted pillared halls such as Ayirakkal, Kilikoondu-mandapam, Golu-mandapam and Pudu-mandapam, its shrines are dedicated to Hindu deities and Shaivism scholars, with the vimanas above the garbhagrihas of Meenakshi and Sundaresvara gilded with gold. The temple is a major pilgrimage destination within the Shaivism tradition, dedicated to Meenakshi Devi and Shiva. However, the temple includes Vishnu in many narratives and rituals as he is considered to be Meenakshi's brother; this has made this temple and Madurai as the "southern Mathura", one included in Vaishnava texts. The Meenakshi temple includes Lakshmi, flute playing Krishna, Brahma, other Vedic and Puranic deities, as well as artwork showing narratives from major Hindu texts; the large temple complex is the most prominent landmark in Madurai and attracts tens of thousands visitors a day. The temple attracts over a million pilgrims and visitors during the annual 10-day Meenakshi Tirukalyanam festival, celebrated with much festivities and a ratha procession during the Tamil month of Chittirai.
The Temple has been adjudged best ‘Swachh Iconic Place’ in India as on October 1, 2017 under Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi's Flagship Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. The Meenakshi temple is located in the heart of historic Madurai city, about a kilometer south of the Vaigai River, it is about 460 kilometres southwest from the state capital. The temple complex is well connected with road network, near a major railway junction and an airport with daily services; the city roads radiate from the temple complex and major ring roads form a concentric pattern for the city, a structure that follows the Silpa Sastra guidelines for a city design. Madurai is one of the many temple towns in the state, named after the grooves, clusters or forests dominated by a particular variety of a tree or shrub and the same variety of tree or shrub sheltering the presiding deity; the region hence called Kadambavanam. Meenakshi is a Sanskrit term derived from the words mina and akshi, she was earlier known by the Tamil name Tadadakai, mentioned in early historical account as a fierce and meat-eating goddess, sanskritised as Meenakshi.
According to another theory, the name of the goddess means "rule of the fish", derived from the Tamil words meen and aatchi. The goddess Meenakshi is the principal deity of the temple, unlike most Shiva temples in South India where Shiva is the principal deity. According to a legend found in the Tamil text Tiruvilaiyatarpuranam, king Malayadwaja Pandya and his wife Kanchanamalai performed a Yajna seeking a son for succession. Instead a daughter is born, 3 year old and has three breasts. Shiva intervenes and says that the parents should treat her like a son, when she meets her husband, she will lose the third breast, they follow the advice. The girl grows up, the king crowns her as the successor and when she meets Shiva, his words come true, she takes her true form of Meenakshi. According to Harman, this may reflect the matrilineal traditions in South India and the regional belief that "penultimate powers rest with the women", gods listen to their spouse, that the fate of kingdoms rest with the women.
According to Susan Bayly, the reverence for Meenakshi is a part of the Hindu goddess tradition that integrates with the Dravidian Hindu society where the "woman is the lynchpin of the system" of social relationships. The marriage of Meenakshi and Shiva was the biggest event, with all gods and living beings gathered. Vishnu is believed to be the brother of Meenakshi. Vishnu gives her away to Shiva at the wedding; the town of Madurai is one mentioned in Sangam era texts. These are dated to be from the 1st to 4th century CE; some early Tamil texts call Madurai as Koodal, these portray it as a capital and a temple town where every street radiated from the temple. Goddess Meenakshi is described as the divine ruler, who along with Shiva were the primary deities that the southern Tamil kingdoms such as the Pandya dynasty revered; the early texts imply. In med
Caste is a form of social stratification characterized by endogamy, hereditary transmission of a lifestyle which includes an occupation, status in a hierarchy, customary social interaction, exclusion. It is an extreme evolution of a system of legally-entrenched social classes endogamous and hereditary, such as that of feudal Europe. Although caste systems exist in various regions, its paradigmatic ethnographic example is the division of Indian society into rigid social groups, with roots in India's ancient history and persisting until today. In biology, the term is applied to role stratification in eusocial animals like ants and termites, though the analogy is imperfect as these involve stratified reproduction; the origins of the term'caste' are attributed to the Spanish and Portuguese casta, according to the John Minsheu's Spanish dictionary, means "race, lineage, or breed". When the Spanish colonized the New World, they used the word to mean a "clan or lineage", it was, the Portuguese who first employed casta in the primary modern sense of the English word ‘caste’ when they applied it to the thousands of endogamous, hereditary Indian social groups they encountered upon their arrival in India in 1498, as a direct extension of the concept of ‘casta’ in contemporary Portugal.
The use of the spelling "caste", with this latter meaning, is first attested in English in 1613. Modern India's caste system is based on the artificial superimposition of a four-fold theoretical classification called the Varna on the natural social groupings called the Jāti. From 1901 onwards, for the purposes of the Decennial Census, the British classified all Jātis into one or the other of the Varna categories as described in ancient texts. Herbert Hope Risley, the Census Commissioner, noted that "The principle suggested as a basis was that of classification by social precedence as recognized by native public opinion at the present day, manifesting itself in the facts that particular castes are supposed to be the modern representatives of one or other of the castes of the theoretical Indian system." The system of Varnas propounded in ancient Hindu texts envisages the society divided into four classes: Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Shudras. The texts do not mention any untouchable category in Varna classification.
Scholars believe that the Varnas system was never operational in society and there is no evidence of it being a reality in Indian history. The practical division of the society had always been in terms of Jātis, which are not based on any specific principle, but could vary from ethnic origins to occupations to geographic areas; the Jātis have been endogamous groups without any fixed hierarchy but subject to vague notions of rank articulated over time based on lifestyle and social, political or economic status. Many of India's major empires and dynasties like the Mauryas, Shalivahanas,Chalukyas,Kakatiyas among many others, were founded by people who would have been classified as Shudras, under the Varnas system, it is well established that by the 9th century, kings from all the four castes, including Brahmins and Vaishyas, had occupied the highest seat in the monarchical system in Hindu India, contrary to the Varna theory. In many instances, as in Bengal the kings and rulers had been called upon, when required, to mediate on the ranks of Jātis, which might number in thousands all over the subcontinent and vary by region.
In practice, the jātis may or may not fit into the Varna classes and many prominent Jatis, for example the Jats and Yadavs, straddled two Varnas i.e. Kshatriyas and Vaishyas, the Varna status of Jātis itself was subject to articulation over time. Starting with the British colonial Census of 1901 led by Herbert Hope Risley, all the jātis were grouped under the theoretical varnas categories. According to political scientist Lloyd Rudolph, Risley believed that varna, however ancient, could be applied to all the modern castes found in India, " meant to identify and place several hundred million Indians within it." In an effort to arrange various castes in order of precedence functional grouping was based less on the occupation that prevailed in each case in the present day than on that, traditional with it, or which gave rise to its differentiation from the rest of the community. "This action removed Indians from the progress of history and condemned them to an unchanging position and place in time.
In one sense, it is rather ironic that the British, who continually accused the Indian people of having a static society, should impose a construct that denied progress" The terms varna and jāti are two distinct concepts: while varna is the idealised four-part division envisaged by the Twice-Borns, jāti refers to the thousands of actual endogamous groups prevalent across the subcontinent. The classical authors scarcely speak of anything other than the varnas, as it provided a convenient shorthand. Thus, starting with the 1901 Census, Caste became India's essential institution, with an imprimatur from the British administrators, augmenting a discourse that had dominated Indology. “Despite India's acquisition of formal political independence, it has still not regained the power to know its own past and present apart from that discourse”. Upon independence from Britain, the Indian Constitution listed 1,108 castes across the country as Scheduled Castes in 1950, for positive
The soul, in many religious and mythological traditions, is the incorporeal essence of a living being. Soul or psyche are the mental abilities of a living being: reason, feeling, memory, thinking, etc. Depending on the philosophical system, a soul can either be immortal. In Judeo-Christianity, only human beings have immortal souls. For example, the Catholic theologian Thomas Aquinas attributed "soul" to all organisms but argued that only human souls are immortal. Other religions hold that all living things from the smallest bacterium to the largest of mammals are the souls themselves and have their physical representative in the world; the actual self is the soul, while the body is only a mechanism to experience the karma of that life. Thus if we see a tiger there is a self-conscious identity residing in it, a physical representative in the world; some teach that non-biological entities possess souls. This belief is called animism. Greek philosophers, such as Socrates and Aristotle, understood that the soul must have a logical faculty, the exercise of, the most divine of human actions.
At his defense trial, Socrates summarized his teaching as nothing other than an exhortation for his fellow Athenians to excel in matters of the psyche since all bodily goods are dependent on such excellence. The current consensus of modern science is that there is no evidence to support the existence of the soul when traditionally defined as the spiritual breath of the body. In metaphysics, the concept of "Soul" may be equated with that of "Mind" in order to refer to the consciousness and intellect of the individual; the Modern English word "soul", derived from Old English sáwol, sáwel, was first attested in the 8th century poem Beowulf v. 2820 and in the Vespasian Psalter 77.50. It is cognate with other German and Baltic terms for the same idea, including Gothic saiwala, Old High German sêula, sêla, Old Saxon sêola, Old Low Franconian sêla, sîla, Old Norse sála and Lithuanian siela. Deeper etymology of the Germanic word is unclear; the original concept behind the Germanic root is thought to mean “coming from or belonging to the sea ”, because of the Germanic and pre-Celtic belief in souls emerging from and returning to sacred lakes, Old Saxon sêola compared to Old Saxon sêo.
The Koine Greek Septuagint uses ψυχή to translate Hebrew נפש, meaning "life, vital breath", refers to a mortal, physical life, but in English it is variously translated as "soul, life, person, mind, living being, emotion, passion". Vulgate – Creavitque Deus cete grandia, et omnem animam viventem atque motabilem. Authorized King James Version – "And God created great whales, every living creature that moveth."The Koine Greek word ψυχή, "life, consciousness", is derived from a verb meaning "to cool, to blow", hence refers to the breath, as opposed to σῶμα, meaning "body". Psychē occurs juxtaposed to σῶμα, as seen in Matthew 10:28: Greek – καὶ μὴ φοβεῖσθε ἀπὸ τῶν ἀποκτεννόντων τὸ σῶμα, τὴν δὲ ψυχὴν μὴ δυναμένων ἀποκτεῖναι· φοβεῖσθε δὲ μᾶλλον τὸν δυνάμενον καὶ ψυχὴν καὶ σῶμα ἀπολέσαι ἐν γεέννῃ. Vulgate – et nolite timere eos qui occidunt corpus animam autem non possunt occidere sed potius eum timete qui potest et animam et corpus perdere in gehennam. Authorized King James Version – "And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him, able to destroy both soul and body in hell."Paul the Apostle used ψυχή and πνεῦμα to distinguish between the Jewish notions of נפש and רוח ruah.
In the ancient Egyptian religion, an individual was believed to be made up of various elements, some physical and some spiritual. Similar ideas are found in ancient Babylonian religion. Kuttamuwa, an 8th-century BCE royal official from Sam'al, ordered an inscribed stele erected upon his death; the inscription requested that his mourners commemorate his life and his afterlife with feasts "for my soul, in this stele". It is one of the earliest references to a soul as a separate entity from the body; the 800-pound basalt stele is 2 ft wide. It was uncovered in the third season of excavations by the Neubauer Expedition of the Oriental Institute in Chicago, Illinois; the Bahá'í Faith affirms that "the soul is a sign of God, a heavenly gem whose reality the most learned of men hath failed to grasp, whose mystery no mind, however acute, can hope to unravel". Bahá'u'lláh stated that the soul not only continues to live after the physical death of the human body, but is, in fact, immortal. Heaven can be seen as the soul's state of nearness to God.
Each state follows as a natural consequence of individual efforts, or the lack thereof, to develop spiritually. Bahá'u'lláh taught that individuals have no existence prior to their life here on earth and the soul's evolution is always towards God and away from the material world. Buddhism teaches that all things are in a constant