Puma Punku also called ‘Puma Pumku’ or ‘Puma Punchu’, is part of a large temple complex at Tiwanaku (Tiahuanacu) in Bolivia. Its dimensions are gigantic, and it seems to have been brought to ruins by a massive cataclysm. Conventional dating puts its construction at 2000 years ago but emerging frontiers of science reveal that it is no less than 15000 years old. Its most ancient name is obviously unknown but in the vestiges of that ancient name what has stuck on as its name is ‘Puma Punku’. 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. The Sanskrit word ‘hayana’ occurs as ‘huayana’ in yet another name of an ancient observatory of Peru – ‘Huayana Picchu‘ (located close to the more famous ‘Macchu Picchu). Click here to read about Huayana Picchu and its links to Sanskrit.

What about the Sanskrit connection to ‘Punku’ or ‘Panchu’ then. 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’ (पञ्चाङ्ग) . The ‘panchanga’ measures the movement of the sun and moon and the rest of the planets. The literal translation of ‘pancha is ‘five’ and ‘anga’ (अङ्ग) is part. In a calender, ‘pancha’ refers to the five measures of time – the lunar day of a waxing or waning moon fortnight (tithi), day of the week (vara), lunar mansion (nakshatra), luni-solar day (yoga) and half -lunar day (karana).

In the ancient Vedic calenders of India, which are used commonly in India even today, the name ‘Pancha’ occurs repeatedly. A lunar fortnight (15 days of waxing moon, or 15 days of waning moon) is known as Paksha, but is also referred to as ‘Panchadasa’ (पञ्चदश) [‘Pancha’ = 5, ‘dasa’ = 10] meaning ‘Fifteen’.

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

The other structures in the complex are named ‘Kala-sasaya‘, ‘Akapana‘, ‘Keri-kala‘ etc. discussed elsewhere on this blogsite.

Suggested Links:

  1. Macchu Picchu – The Sanskrit Connection
  2. The Sun Temple of KoriKancha – The Sanskrit Connection
  3. Chankillo and Huayana Piccha, Peru – The Sanskrit Connection
  4. Ollantaytambo, Peru – The Sanskrit Connection
  5. The Paracas Trident, Peru – The Sanskrit Connection
  6. The Temple of Araqhama, Peru -The Sanskrit Connection
  7. Ayamara Language
  8. The Unsolved Mysteries of Puma Punku


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