Asoka: a new link

Mon May 11 13:10:41 UTC 1998

Prof. Peter Schalk, Uppsala university asked me:
*I saw your list of publications. You mention: "I. Mahadevan and R.
*Nagaswamy has written on this inscription of Tagaduur Atiyamaan, a friend
*of Avvai." I know what Nagaswamy has written, but not Mahadevan. Can you
*give an exact bibliographical note?

Please see:
I. Mahadevan, 1994, Recent discoveries of Jaina cave inscriptions
in Tamilnadu, Rishabh Saurabh, Delhi, p. 116-134

R. Nagaswamy, 1981, Asoka and Tamil country: a new link,
The Indian Express Sunday magazine, 6 Dec. 1981

> From I. Mahadevan, Recent trends in early Tamil epigraphy: An overview,
J. of the Inst. Asian studies, Madras, XIII, 1, p. 1-31

p. 13
" Jambai (South Arcot): This is without doubt one of the most important
Tamil-Brahmi cave inscriptions discovered so far and ranks with the
earlier discoveries of the Pandyan inscriptions at MaankuLam and the
Chera inscriptions at Pugaluur. The inscription has been published by
Nagaswamy (1981) and recently re-edited by me (Mahadevan 1994: p. 123-127)
It may be assigned to about the first century A.D. on paleographical
grounds and is written in TB-II style. It records the endowment of
a cave shelter by Atiyan NeTumaan AJci who sports the title
SatyaputO in Prakrit. The donor can be identified with the Chieftain
Atiyamaan NeTumaan AJci, one of the most celebrated heroes of the sangam
age, with a large number of poems on him especially by the Poetess
Avvaiyaar (pu.ram 87-104 etc.,) The occurence of the title
satiyaputO in the inscription has settled once for all the question
of identification of this expression occuring in the Second Rock edict
of Asoka. The suggestion made by T. Burrow (1968: p. 158-9) on
linguistic grounds equating satiya with atiya and putO with
makan2 > maan2  stands vindicated " ...

p. 1
"In recent years, there has been a veritable explosion of knowledge
in the feild of Early Tamil Epigraphy. Not only have many interesting
and important inscriptions been discovered like, for example, the Chera,
Pandya and Atiyaman inscriptions bringing the Tamil Sangam Age into the
limelight of history; but also wholly new types of evidence have become
available like, for example, megalithic symbols in sequential writing
especially on materials other than pottery; megalithic graffti and
Tamil-Brahmi characters juxtaposed in some sort of 'mixed writing';
coins inscribed with Pandya and Chera names known earlier only from
Sangam works; gold silver and terracotta seals and rings inscribed with
Tamil-Brahmi legends; widespread occurrence of inscribed shreds
in both urban and rural areas revealing an unexpectedly high level
of early Tamil literacy; and new light on early Tamil contacts
abroad. The flood of new evidence is already forcing Tamil
epigraphists to grapple with their implications and to take a fresh
look at problems like the significance of the megalithic graffiti,
origin and evoloution of the Tamil scripts, the vital role played by
Tamil-Brahmi in promoting early Tamil literacy, contrasting developments
of Vatteluttu as the native script and the Tamil script as elitist
in origin etc.

  This paper attempts in brief an overview of recent discoveries and current
trends in early Tamil Epigraphy from the earliest times upto the end
of the sixth century A.D. A general survey like the present one cannot
perhaps avoids reading like a catalogue of new finds. Perhaps also it
is too early to analyse in full the implications of the newly
emerging trends." ....

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