Telugu history

Srinivasan Pichumani srini at ENGIN.UMICH.EDU
Fri May 1 18:55:56 UTC 1998

           A "honey and coconut" story from Tamil side.
          From A. K. Ramanujan, Hymns for the Drowning, Poems for
          ViSNu by Nammaazvaar, Princeton university press, 1981

        "From the 13th century on, the commentators debate endlessly the
        relative virtues of Sanskrit and Tamil as religious languages.
        For a list of pros and cons, see K. K. A. Venkatachari,
        The maNipravAla literature of the zrIvaiSNava aacaaryas, 12th
        to 15th centuries, AD. p. 25-27. One story about the tension
        in this dual heritage is poignant: VaGkIpurattu
        Nampi, a disciple of Ramanuja, was found praying to Vishnu
        standing among cowherd women.
        A disciple accosted him:
        'Why do you stand among these illiterate women instead of
        among Vaishnava bhaktas?'.
        Nampi answered:
        'Lord's grace flows over these illiterate cowherds as
        water flows from a higher to a lower level'.
        The disciple asked:
        'How did they pray? How did your grace pray?'
        Nampi said:
        'They prayed to the Lord in pure Tamil. They said
        - Please drink this milk, eat thais fruit. Live a hundred years.
        Wear this silk uppercloth -. I prayed in Sanskrit:
        Be victorious, be victorious'.
        The other man finally said:
        'You couldn't forget your rough-sounding Sanskrit even
        among the cowherds. It looks as if we, the brahmins,
        will be the same wherever we are".

         N. Ganesan

Ganesan, I have no problem with your quoting this footnote
from A.K.Ramanujan's book, which I know all too well from
multiple readings of the book, as evidence of a certain
historical tension between Tamil and Sanskrit over the
centuries... Zvelebil has some additional remarks on this
issue in the last or penultimate chapter of his "Companion
Studies to history of Tamil literature".

But let us try to be accurate when quoting and not add words
of our own, even if it were for clarification !

There is no "we, the brahmins," in the footnote... the line
simply reads "It looks as if we will be the same wherever we
are".  Unless it is an extreme case of printer's devil, that
is what my personal copy of the book says too - I just confirmed


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