Horse, elephant and Dravidian

Dominique.Thillaud thillaud at
Sun Jul 6 22:57:49 UTC 1997

At 8:35 +0200 6/07/97, Palaniappa at wrote:
>In Classical Tamil, there is a word, 'mAn2', which seems to denote wild
>animals and especially antelope/deer. This word is contrasted with 'An2'
>which refers to the domesticated cattle. The term used to refer to wild
>cattle is 'AmAn2'. This pair of 'mAn2' and 'An2' seems to be comparable to
>the contrasting pair 'mRga' and 'pazu' in Sanskrit. But there is a
>significant difference which seems to give some important information
>regarding the domestication of the horse and elephant, if it can be called
>In Sanskrit, horse is included in the category of 'pazu' as a domesticated
>animal. But in Classical Tamil literature which comes several centuries
>later, the horse is still called 'mAn2'. This is in spite of it being very
>widely used by itself for riding as well as for drawing chariots. This seems
>to suggest two things to me. For one, Dravidians did not domesticate the
>horse (which everybody knows anyway) and secondly, and more importantly, the
>language has preserved the original 'alienness' of the horse even after so
>many centuries if not millennia. This is one more evidence for the
>extraordinary preservation of ancient cultural elements in Classical Tamil.
>Another interesting fact is that apart from the horse, the elephant is also
>called 'mAn2'. When coupled with the fact that CT often talks about the Aryan
>language spoken by the elephant trainers/drivers, it leads one to wonder if
>the training of wild elephants was an Aryan contribution? or Did the
>semantics of 'mAn2' change?
>In Sanskrit, which category does the elephant belong to?

	A good idea, but difficult to apply. Eurindian *peku- is for
cattle, farm animals, subjects to razzia, later to commercial purposes. I
don't believe *ekwo- is a *peku-: azva is in the scope of ksatriyas and
pazu of vaisias.

	But a study of animal's classification (both arian and dravidian)
from different points of view (domestication, danger, sacrifice, God's
mount) would surely be interesting. I can't understand sanskrit nAga, I
find all usual explications too poor: when BhIma falls into the river, the
same nAgAs are masters of poison and strength!


Dominique THILLAUD
Universite' de Nice Sophia-Antipolis, France

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