Rig Veda, ta'ntra, nUl, and sUtra

Palaniappa at aol.com Palaniappa at aol.com
Wed Apr 16 06:25:24 UTC 1997

In a message dated 97-04-13 19:53:42 EDT, thompson at jlc.net (George Thompson)

<< For example, I would consider demonstrable *quotation* of a Dravidian
 source in Vedic compelling evidence indeed [no question!].  But beyond
 that, what other evidence would be considered *compelling* by others on
 this list? >>

I do not know if we can find exactly the kind of evidence required by
Thompson. But, N. Ganesan pointed out the following from Michael Witzel's
posting on 2/9/96. Here it goes.

"As I do not have an older pre-colonial or pre-Muslim (?!) description of 
Holi at my hands (anyone? we should check the early Nibandhas or the  
Kaavyas) I offer something I have been working on recently:  a much 
older, c. 2500 years old description ---- by Brahmins for Brahmins but 
``graphic`` enough --- of another year-end festival/ritual,  the winter 
solstice rite of Mahaavrata (at the end of the year  long Gavaam Ayana 
ritual). This description, taken from the Aapastamba Shrautasutra of the 
Black Yajurveda is ``smrti`` in the technical, traditional Hindu sense, 
but some shorter  versions of this Sattra ritual are found in the Sruti 
as well: in the Samhitas and Brahmanas --- again composed by Brahmins for 
Brahmins and therefore definitely above all ``colonial`` (but certainly 
not anti-Shudra!) suspicion.
Enjoy the musical chaos, the social upheavel and the (almost!) sexual 
liberty -- this is a sanctified srauta rite, after all... -- all of which 
we are used  to in ``carnivals`` from ancient and present Europe to 
Brazil, from  the Dayaks in Indonesia to medieval Japan... I have 
witnessed these things myself in the Rhineland (Germany), during Holi and 
similar festivals in Nepal < with the worst obscenities shouted in the 
streets, of course only during the festival>,  and a colleague has told 
me the story of his Holi in Benares where he, after having had the common 
dosis of bhang the night before with his Hindu hosts, awoke up next 
morning on the roof terrace of his hosts, with no memory of last night 
and, equally, sans culottes, -- the women of teh household smiling at 
him; he summarized his experience: ``after that, I was accepted by 
A quick translation runs like this. Remember, all of this is part of a 
Soma ritual!)
Aapastamba Zrauta Suutra 21.9.1 sqq.
When the stotra belonging to the Mahendra drink < thus at noon> has been 
"driven" near, 'all voices sound'.  
2. The offerers (participants of the Sattra, all Yajamaanas) raise a loud 
shouting din. 
3. The wives play the ApaaghaaTalikas, Tamil lutes, and the Piccholaas."

Now, I do not have access to the Sanskrit text. My guess is Tamil Lutes are
probably referred to by something along the lines of "drAviDa vINA". (I also
remember a citation of aiteraya AraNyaka or brAhmaNa as having the usage
'panca drAviDa'). That the wives play Tamil lutes is, to me, a very strong
indication that the wives of these yajamAnas were of Dravidian origin, if not
from the specific community of bards. In the Classical Tamil texts which are
dated by Zvelebil to be at least 800-1000 years after these 'sUtra' texts,
the 'yAz" or Tamil lute is mainly, if not exclusively, still played by the
bardic community alone.

If, as Parpola has indicated that the zrauta sUtra rituals indicate a
pre-Vedic Vratyan basis, then the zrauta sUtra text above provides evidence
for the presence of representatives of the bardic community among the elites
of the Aryan community or at least the presence of musical training of the
elite Aryans by the Dravidian bardic community. The word 'panuval' is used
many times in the context of singing/lute-playing of the bards in Classical
Tamil. See examples below.

"vaLaikikai viRaliyen pinnaLAkap
ponvArntanna puriyaTaGku narampin 
vari navil panuval pulam peyarntu icaippap
paTumalai ninRa payaGkezu cIRiyAz"               (puRanAnURu 135.4-7)

A translation of this would be "with the woman of the bardic community
following me and my efficacious small lute with braided strings seemingly
made of gold and playing the song ("panuval") in the musical scale of
paTumalai (carnatic rAga-'naTa bhairavi') which reverberates all over the

"kaTumparipuravi neTuntEr anci 
nallicai niRutta nayavaru panuval
tollicai niRIiya uraicAl pANmakan"                (akanAnURu 352.12-14)

It can be translated as, "the bard of fame, who set to ancient music the
well-liked song ("panuval") establishing the good fame of anci who had the
tall chariot with fast horses".

Is this sufficient evidence?


S. Palaniappan

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