Krishna's hallIsaka dance

N. Ganesan naga_ganesan at HOTMAIL.COM
Wed Aug 18 20:19:09 UTC 1999

Sanskrit hallIza etc. could represent Proto-Dravidian *allica.

hal(l)-("move, shake") is, according to Turner (CDIAL 14001-14018),
a loanword from Dravidian. This hal(l)a- might be derived
from Tamil alaGku/alacu/alai(cu)  etc. meaning
'to wave, shake, move, roam, wander' etc.

Compare DEDR entry on Tamil alliyam 'Krishna's dance when he broke
the tusk of the elephant that was set upon him by Kamsa'. This
alliyam dance by Krishna to kill kuvalayapita elephant occurs in
CilappatikAram. Tamil alliyan_ 'stray elephant separated from the
fold' and Malayalam alliyan 'female elephant' (DEDR 258).
These words might also be derived from Tamil alanku/alacu/alai(cu)
etc. meaning 'to wave, shake, move, roam, wander' etc. (DEDR 240)
from which could come both 'stray (= roaming, wandering, vagabond)
elephant' and 'dance (with shaking, moving)'.

The last part of hallIza/hallISa/hallIsa has three different
kinds of sibilants (s,z,S) which certainly suggests a
non-Sanskritic origin. While it is difficult to explain through
Sanskrit etymology this later part, -isa in hallIza(ka),
a Dravidian origin for -iza / -iyam is most likely. It might be
DEDR no. 469 Tamil iyaGku etc. 'movement' (also iyal 'dance'),

  From the citations given in Monier-Williams, it is clear that
-ka- at the end of hallIsaka is the deminutive suffix so frequently
added to Sanskrit nouns at a later stage.

So, PDr. *allica as the source for hallIsaka, may have important
implications for the roots of Indian dance. Similarly, are "ranga"
(dance stage) and tamil 'arangu' (dance stage, small island between
rivers) related?

F.B.J. Kuiper, and Viduu.saka,
On the origin of the Sanskrit Drama, Amsterdam, etc. 1979. Cf.,
-- p. 116: "An entirely different thesis has been defended by
Indu Shekar, who argued that the drama was a product of an
non-Aryan culture of India. The present study will show why I
think that the evidence available points to a different conclusion."
-- p. 116, n. 29: "It is true, influence of non-Aryan cultures has
too often been invoked, without the slightest proof , as a _deus
ex machina_ to explain difficult problems. If, however, there are
specific (mostly linguistic) indications pointing to that conclusion,
there is obviously no point in ignoring their existence, our task
then being to try to understand what the role of the influence can
have been in the whole context of Indian culture."

  "hallIsa" may well be one such linguistic indication.

N. Ganesan

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