Day is night in Dravidian?

Lakshmi Srinivas lsrinivas at YAHOO.COM
Sat May 1 23:32:34 UTC 1999

--- Jean-Luc CHEVILLARD  wrote:
> At 11:12 17/04/99 EDT, Palaniappa at AOL.COM wrote :

> One has to add to that very suggestive (but probably not conclusive)
> discussion the following facts:
> A1. the word nAL is frequent inside the 33000 lines
>  that constitute the Classical Tamil corpus:
>  it occurs almost 400 times; in its most frequent use,
>  it does not refer to day-time  (as opposed to night-time)
>  but refers to a unit of time that is contained inside a longer period
>  (like a month, a life-time, etc.); that unit is somehow
>  a 24 hours period; [see for instance: oru nAL "one day",

It seems there is prima facie evidence  that nAL might have meant 1. A
unit of measure of time (for a 24 hour duration) 2. lunar asterism in the
sense of saying "today is rEvati".

The Tamil Lexicon gives, for nAL," Lunar day - titi". And adds that this
is a western usage.
Gundert's Malayalam lexicon gives for nAL, "a day of 24 hours. The
astrological day and the nakshatram that governs it".

Interestingly, the word kaGkul seems to show similar properties. The Tamil
Lexicon gives the following: "1. Night 2. The second naksatra. See
paraNinAL". And adds that this is a western usage.

The tiruvAymozi has a usage kaGkulvAy:

kAppAr Ar ivviDattu? kaGkiruLin nuNtuLiyAyc
    cETpAla tUziyAyc celkinRa kaGkulvAyt
tUppAla veNcaGku cakkarattan tOnRAnAl
    tIppAla valvinaiyEn teivaGkAL! enceykEnO?
                                                       (TiruvAymozi 5.4.7)

We are told by the commentator to the IDu (36000 paDi) that kaGkulvAy
should be taken to mean not night but a day and night. "tamizarkku
akattiyaraip pOnRu iruppAn tamizAciriyan oruvan, celkinRa kaGkulvAy
enpataRkuc celkinRa nALakattu enRu urai ezuti vaittAn". (ITTin tamizAkkam,
 B R Purushottama Naidu, Vol V, p. 185).

Usually Naidu attempts to identify the nikaNTu and Classical Tamil
references in the IDu but this one presumably is not an extant commentary.

Warm Regards.

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