Etymology of 'tanU'

Palaniappa at Palaniappa at
Sun Jul 13 16:14:01 UTC 1997

In a message dated 97-07-11 23:28:57 EDT, jgardner at (JR
Gardner) writes:

<< One finds throughout the literature of the Vedas frequent linguistic
 territoriality and hegemony hwerein Yaaj~navalkya or others speak
 derisively of the "so-and-so's" who say or do something wrongly--often the
 Kuru-pa~ncala brahmins are favorite targets of this.  It would seem that,
 at least to the perspective of the redactors of the Vedas, there was
 indeed a conscious effort to accept or reject ways of speaking.  My own
 research shows that the advent in the later RV of aatman and puruSa marked
 also the beginning of the end for the use of tanuu in this capacity in the
 Middle Vedic period of Mantra Language and SaMhitaa prose.   >>

let us consider the following.

Stage 1. Dravidian 'pAvai' > IA translation IA 'tanU'   - my suggestion
Stage 2. Dravidian 'tAn2/tan2 > addition of meaning 'self' to IA 'tanU' -
Southworth's                     suggestion

According to Gardner,

Stage 3. IA 'tanU'  losing out to 'IA 'Atman' and 'puruSa'

The questions I have are,  did 'tanU' prevail in other semantic contexts such
as 'body' in Vedic circles? How well did it succeed relatively in Tantric
Circles? Was 'tanU' in the sense of 'self' disliked because of perceived
contamination from non-IA 'tAn2/tan2' ? Even if they do not expressly state
the reasons for their dislike, based on other similar contexts, can one infer
that the reason was the doubtful semantic pedigree of tanU (in their eyes)
w.r.t 'self'? If so, that itself isa very useful information.

S. Palaniappan

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