SV: Classical languages of India

Sudalaimuthu Palaniappan Palaniappa at AOL.COM
Sun Oct 1 22:04:41 UTC 2000

Thus the roots of emotional bhakti of India are traceable to Tamil songs of
nAyanmAr and AzvAr. As Kamil Zvelebil points out, these use "the akam
conventions and traditional pre-bhakti literary genres and forms like the
ARRuppaTai 'guide-poem'." So, there is no doubt that Tamil did play a part in
the religious culture of people outside Tamilnadu. But, was it" used" by
educated people outside Tamilnadu? On this question, some data from Thailand
were posted earlier on the list.

Evidence for the use of Tamil by non-Tamil Indian elite could potentially
come  from Tamil, and Sanskrit sources. Indeed, Tamil literary tradition has
important evidence for that. One of the 18 works of Classical Tamil is
"kuRiJcippATTU". Its colophon states that it was composed with the express
purpose of teaching an Aryan king the conceprt of Tamil love poetry. The
veracity of the colophon is corroborated by the nature of the text itself.
Moreover, there is a CT poem attributed to an Aryan king (probably the same
one mentioned earlier).

But such a direct acknowledgement by  ancient non-Tamil Sanskritists  may be
hard to come by from Sanskrit sources because of the linguistic attitudes
prevailing among the orthodox Sanskritists. (These attitudes have been
discussed by Madhav Deshpande in "Sociolinguistic Attitudes in India' and
"Sanskrit and Prakrit". ) Discussing the silence of the Gadyas of rAmAnuja
regarding the AzvArs, Vasudha Narayanan says, "ramAnuja intended his
philosophical works to be convincing to an audience of Brahmin scholars
outside the community, who might have been shocked by ascribing authority to
Tamil poems composed by poets of various castes. The Gadyas, however, have
always been used within the zrIvaiSNava community and are little known
outside it. It appears, therefore, that rAmAnuja was such a conservative
Brahmin that when he was writing in Sanskrit he did not make any explicit
reference to anything not written in Sanskrit."

(to continue)

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