A megalithic tomb of a person believed to have attained "mukti" or liberation has been discovered in a village in southern India.
Discovered by archaeologists in Dindigul district of Tamil Nadu, the dolmen or tomb has a 10-metre wide capstone and sports in the centre a small 8-cm circle with a central dot, drawn in red.
According to T L Subash Chandira Bose, an archeo-symbolist, the sign signifies that the person buried under it had attained the "mukti" state according to Hinduism.
"This larger circle with a centre dot signifies what we call, 'parathuvam' that is attaining eternity without rebirth and to my knowledge this is the first time that this sign has been found in this part of Tamil Nadu. Usually, there would be two or more circles, under the capstones,'' he told the Times of India.
A total of five dolmenoid cists were discovered of which two alone were intact.
Dolmens are megalithic tombs, usually consisting of two or more upright stones supporting a large flat horizontal capstone.
What is 'mukti'?
The Hindu belief in reincarnation talks of a cyclical pattern of birth, death and rebirth which can be broken when individual consciousness merges with cosmic consciousness in a state of "mukti".
Such liberation is in fact the goal of individuals and the universe, according to Hinduism.
The Indian megalithic age – also known as the Indian Iron Age is marked by the dolmenoid cist burials found in numerous parts of India, very similar in appearance to the dolmens of Western Europe, writes Ancient Origins.
Some are often located on elevated rocky regions and thought to be memorials while others found on flat, lower levels functioned as burials.
These monuments often contain human remains along with a variety of personal items such as black and red pottery, iron weapons and tools, and jewellery such as beads and other ornaments.
There are around 2,000 dolmenoid cists throughout Peninsular India, particularly in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. They usually face north or east and sometimes are aligned to the rising sun at particular times of the year.