use of "dravida" in Sanskrit?

Sudalaimuthu Palaniappan Palaniappa at AOL.COM
Thu Aug 19 23:18:26 UTC 1999

Since nobody responded to M. M. Deshpande's question, consider the following.

There is positive evidence that there were some who thought of the speakers
of Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, and Kannada are dramiDas. This is found in the
lIlAtilakam, a fourteen century Sanskrit text on the maNipravALam  (See
"Sanskrit Influence on Malayalam" by K. Kunjunni Raja, IJDL, v.21, no.2,
p.50-105). Raja adds, "It was Robert Caldwell who used the term Dravidian to
this family of languages, and established that these South Indian languages
belong to a family totally different from Sanskrit." But K. N. Ezhuthachan
discusses the lIlAtilakam's use of the word Tamil to refer to Malayalam in
the following words. ( The History of the Grammatical Theories in Malayalam,
p. 66)
"The writer makes it clear that the word "Tamil" used above is kEraLabhASa
and not pANDyabhASa, i.e., the Tamil proper. He explains: "The people of
Kerala can be called dramiDas and hence their language is called Tamil which
is an apabhRamza (corrupted form) of that word.[footnote 6] It is well known
that the cOLas, kEraLas and pANDyas are dramiDas".
      The author of lIlAtilakam adds that some people say that the Kannadigas
and Andhras also are dramiDas, but it is not so.  His reasons are:-
(1) Their languages are different from the language of tiruvAymozi which is
called dramiDa vEda.
(2) They have an alphabet different from that of the Tamilians. He quotes a
Sanskrit verse showing the greatness of saThakOpa or nammALvAr. .."

Footnote 6:
"The modern view is that Tamil, initially changed into dramiDa, became
drAviDa later. The Sanskrit and PrakRt works give only the from <sic>
dramiDa. The author's above-noted statement clearly proves that the old
Malayalam scholars had a clear idea of the origin of their language, which
they considered as a variety of Tamil; but which as our author emphasizes
later, had an individuality of its own. The writer always uses the word
kEraLa for cEra."

Even though the author of lIlAtilakam did not include Kannadigas and Andhras
in his definition of dramiDas, clearly there were others who considered
Tamils, Malayalis, Kannadigas and Andhras to be dramiDas. This was at least
five centuries before Caldwell.

Thus, Rev. Caldwell did not discover a totally new Dravidian identity as some
seem to think (or , in some cases, deplore :-)).

S. Palaniappan

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