Sudalaimuthu Palaniappan Palaniappa at AOL.COM
Thu Feb 26 06:34:37 UTC 1998

In a message dated 98-02-25 11:24:07 EST, pclaus at HAYWIRE.CSUHAYWARD.EDU

<< Another meaning of pu/pU/po has to do with praise, spreading the fame of
 someone. Thus in Tulu certain of the words spoken in ritual context are
 described as pugaranu, eulogizing the Spirit/God. The genre of oral
 literature, pADdana, "epic, ballad, song" is also often described as
 pugarunu, spreading the fame of the particular God. It is THE central act
 of much south Indian local (non- Brahman) [I dare say pre-Aryan?] ritual.
 The equivalent word for this genre in coastal Kannada is hogalikke, a noun
 form of the verb and having the same meaning and root.

 I have often thought this might be connected to the original term for
 worship in general, pUja.  We have discussed the origin of this word on
 the LIST earlier, and I do not want to revisit that, but just to remind us
 in this context ... >>

Peter Claus has anticipated me. I was going to discuss the etymology of  Ta.
pukaz. However, I should thank him for reminding us of the discussion on
"pUjA". In fact, the etymology for "pukaz" can also help to deal with the
etymology for "pUjA" if IA specialists take up further analysis. Consider the
following poem from a Tamil text called paripATal tiraTTu.

taN tamiz vEli tamiznATTu akam ellAm
nin2Ru nilaI pukaz pUttal allatu
kun2Rutal uNTu O maturai koTi tErAn2
kun2Ram uNTAkum aLavu                         (pari. tir. 8)

Here the action of "pukaz" (fame) is described as "pUttal" (spreading). From
this, it is clear that this is also from the same root as pukai (smoke, vapor,
incense) is, i.e., *puk- discussed in an earlier posting. Here "-az" is a
suffix. (*pok- that has been accepted earlier by Comparative Dravidianists
will have to be revised.) Compare Ta. kam-az from the root Ta. kam emitting

There are many instances in Classical/post-Classical Tamil texts where "pukai"
referring to incense and "pU" referring to flowers are mentioned together as
part of worship.

pU um pukai um cAvakar pazicca           (matu. 476)

pU um pukai um pogkal um corintu        (cil.5.69)

pukai pU avi ArAtan2ai azal pala Enti   (pari. 6.1)

The worship itself is often described as praising the fame of the divinity.
Often, the word used for praising is "paravu" which also has a basic meaning
of spread/expand. See below.

tEyA vizu pukaz teyvam paravutum                               (kalittokai

Translation: We praise the deity with non-diminishing excellent fame.

Note the use of pukaz as verb and noun in the following poem.

niRai avan2 pun2aloTu matiyum vaitta
poRaiyavan2 pukaz avan2 pukaza nin2Ra
maRai avan2 maRikaTal najncai uNTa
iRaiyavan2 vaLa nakar iTaimarutE.                               (tevAram

Thus, one can see that the worship act was conceived of as one of praising the
fame of the divinity both of which (praising and fame) have an underlying
aspect of spreading/expanding. So, it is not a coincidence that they used pU
and pukai in worship rituals. If they smeared anything such as blood or
turmeric, one should note that the word for smearing "pUcu" can be a cognate
of "puku" and "pukai" because smearing involves spreading something over
another body. Thus all these different elements of the ritual act involving
"pukaz" are linked by the root *puk- to spread. I have checked the earlier
postings in Indology on the etymology of "pUjA". The etymological connections
between "pU, pukai, pukaz, pUcu" revealed by Classical Tamil as shown here are
not found in those postings.

To go from *puk-u- to pUjA may need the joint effort of Dravidian and Indo-
Aryan experts. **If** IA experts accept the equivalence of
praising/worshipping found in Dravidian and honoring in IA, **and if** they
look for possible Dravidian etymological possibilities, let me offer a
tentative suggestion. The hypothetical form (similar in concept to Kannada
"hogalikke" Peter Claus mentions) *puku-kai  (where kai is a verbal noun
suffix ) could mean "spreading" leading to a possible semantic development as
"praising/worshipping". V. S. Rajam has discussed this suffix "kai"for
Classical Tamil in "A Reference Grammar of Classical Tamil Poetry", p. 697.
(This can also be thought of as "k + ay" following G. Sambasiva Rao�s
approach, since "ai" is not considered a PDr. phoneme.)

The contraction of the base *puku- will result in *pU-. It is possible for
intervocalic *-k- to become *-y- in some Dravidian languages such as Gondi,
Kuwi, and Parji (Dravidian Comparative Phonology, p. 303).  (Even in modern
colloquial Tamil, pukaiyilai (tobacco) often becomes povayilai or pOyilai.) If
the dialect from which this word was borrowed had such a reflex, it will give
us *pUyai. Final Dravidian "ai" can become Sanskrit "A"  as in Dr. kalai,
mAlai > Sanskrit kalA, mAlA  respectively. Intervocalic -y->-j- is found in
some languages. **If all these changes occur**, we will have *pukukai > *pUkai
> *pUyai > *pUyA> *pUjA. Only an IA specialist such as Michael Witzel who has
studied the dialectal situations in Vedic will be able to decide, if these are


S. Palaniappan

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