Translations of Tamil names into Sanskrit

Palaniappa at Palaniappa at
Mon Apr 28 05:40:58 UTC 1997

Many place names and names of deities in Tamilnadu were translated into
Sanskrit as is clear from inscriptions and literary texts.

For instance, in the famous 10 th century CE Anbil plates of Sundara Chola
(father of the famous Rajaraja Chola), the name of the village in the Tamil
portion of the inscription is 'anpil' meaning 'place of love' and derived
from 'anpu' meaning 'love'. But in the Sanskrit portion, it is called
'prema'. (See Epigraphica Indica Vol.XV) Similarly, in the 11th century CE
Tiruvalangadu plates of Rajendra Chola, the village of 'pazaiyanUr' found in
the Tamil portion is called 'purANagrAma' in the Sanskrit portion. (See South
Indian Inscriptions, Volume III) The Tamil name meant 'the village of
pazaiyan' where the name 'pazaiyan' is derived from Tamil 'pazaiya' meaning

A place called 'mutukunRam' meaning 'old hill' has been sung by the Saivite
Saints of the 7th century CE. Today it is known as 'vriddAchalam'. A
comparison of names of places sung by the Saivite saints and their later
names reveals many such translations into Sanskrit. 

Similar translations have occurred in the names of the temple deities also.
The deity in the temple at 'tiruvaiyAru' meaning 'five rivers' is called
'pancanatIswarar'. The deity in 'tirumeyyam' derived from Tamil 'mey' meaning
'truth' is called 'satyamUrti'. 

I am curious if such a tendency is seen in other language areas?


S. Palaniappan

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