[Re: Comparative linguistics]

RM.Krishnan poo at GIASMD01.VSNL.NET.IN
Sat Mar 18 11:58:53 UTC 2000

At 3/16/00 7:39:00 PM, you wrote:
>"the current north-south divide [which already existed for a very long time
>prior to the British period]."
>Really? There was a North India and a South India before the British came?  I
>would really like to see some sources on this one. All my reading history in
>pre-British India was that the scene on the sub-continent was geo-political
>negotiation between various ethnic (not linguistic) groups who did not align
>themselves according to North-South. Did the Southern Kingdoms and peoples
>regard themselves as a block, (and same for the north), based on local and
>temporal socio-economics and cultural movements or based on ideas that "they
>are the medevial Madrasi's and the North Indian equivalent?" If there were any
>cultural alliances between areas, I think that it exists in a continuum,
>notwithstanding mutually unitelligible languages. Pigdinization, trade forms
>of communication do exist.
>I don't doubt that differences exist, (or that there is a radical difference
>between North and South Indian architecture) but the centre is where you will
>see the continuity.  There might be severe differences among members of the
>same species but on either side of the normal curve but there is also the
>continuity. The extent of trade in ancient and historical India suggests that
>people were not the culturally isolated parochial people, divided strictly in
>groups that once was assumed (still is).
>I would really like to see some evidence that the Indian ethos was divided
>into North and South well before the British came.
Ethos is a huge concept.  I restrict to a few historical references. I suggest you read 'vanjikkANDam'
in 'CilappathikAram' - a tamil epic from 200 CE.  Similarly read a few verses from puRa naNURu
describing Mauryan attempts at colonising the extreme south; also about references on pre-mauryan
nanDA rule. There have even been mercenery attacks by yaudeya warlords (whose territories were
supposed to be around the modern eastern Rajasthan/Western UP and closer to Delhi). It has not
been smooth relations, after all, between the north and the south..

Dismissive attitude about the 'Madrasis' is not a recent development. In the epic 'CilappathikAram',
When the CErA king Cenkuttuvan hears that the kings, expecially from around pAtaliputra, talks
dismissive about Tamils, he wanted to give a fitting reply. He embarks on a warring expedition with
the help of sAta vAhana king catakarNi; he defeats the northern kings; culls out a stone from the
himalayas to erect a statue for kaNNAgi in the newly built temple (which is existing even today in
the border of tamil nADu and Kerala near tEni.

Many ancient and not so ancient tamil and kalingA kings were more oriented often towards the south
east Asia and Srilanka rather than north India. Still, occasionally they have spectacularly invaded
the north. Even an ancient kalinga (orissa) king kharavela (through his inscription - 200 BCE) talks
about a century old confederacy of Tamil Kings Which prevented nanDa/Maurya expansion in to the

This is not to suggest that there are no commonalities between north and South. But tell me, how
many north Indian Scholars,historians or otherwise, would know these stories.

.Even south Indian history professors conveniently gloss over, while we study  so much about vEdAs,
Upanishads, Asoka, Aurangazeb etc,

With regards,

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