A question on brahmins as messengers

Sudalaimuthu Palaniappan Palaniappa at AOL.COM
Tue Jun 2 15:50:25 UTC 1998

Thanks to all those who responded privately and publicly to this query.

In a message dated 98-06-01 17:28:58 EDT, mahadevasiva at HOTMAIL.COM writes:

<<  I'm not sure of what you have in mind when you say "Indo-Aryan" texts,
 but if you are refering to Samskrt texts in general, then there
 is a story in the "vEtalapamchavimzatikA" where a Brahmin lad( from what
 I remember of the story) helps his friend( a prince) court and marry a
 princess by name padmAvatI. He is one of the messengers sent by the
 prince, besides an old nurse who had looked after the princess.
 AFAIK, the messages in this story are relayed by mouth. >>

I am referring to Sanskrit, Pali, and Prakrit texts. I am trying to compare
the messenger traditions in north India and South, especially Tamil. In the CT
texts we find messengers who are called "pArppAn2". In one instance
(akanAn2URu 334) , he carries some message written on a palm leaf. The highway
robbers mistake the bright palm leaf he carried to be gold and kill him. After
they examine what he really carried, they leave, and a fox eats the body.
There are no descriptive terms in the poem such as "well-versed in the Vedas"
or "wearing the sacred thread", etc. referring to the messenger. To me this
suggests that the messenger was not a brahmin.

Earlier Chris Beetle has written
<<BhAgavata PurANa 10.52.26 relates how rukmiNI, princess of vidarbha, once
sent a brAhmaNa messenger to Lord kRSNa. The translation I read indicated
the message was in writing. That incident would have occurred in the same
century as the mahAbhArata war.>>

Regarding the bhAgavata purANa, I am not sure if this text can be used to
compare north Indian and Tamil traditions as outlined here because even though
this is a Sanskrit text, it was composed in the Tamil region and other
scholars have noted typical Tamil themes being used in this text.
Incidentally, in cilappatikAram which was written earlier than bhAgavata, a
brahmin does carry a message written on a palm leaf by mAtavi to kOvalan2 .

What would really help are any references from earlier texts such as

S. Palaniappan

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