yamunA river

N. Ganesan naga_ganesan at HOTMAIL.COM
Wed Oct 4 04:18:30 UTC 2000

The river yamunaa has been called as "to_lunai" in the
Tamil sangam texts onwards. On the banks of to_lunai (in Mathura
and Brindavan), Krishna danced and played with the cowherd women.

Literary examples where yamunA river is to_lunai:

1) akanA_nURu 59 (sangam text)
   vaTAatu, vaNpu_nal to_lunai vaarmaNal aka_nRuRai
   aNTar makaLir taNTa_lai uTIiyar
   maraJcela mititta mAal pOlap
               maturai maruta_niLa nAka_nAr

2) pa_lamo_li 13

   vi_lumi_lai nallAr veruLpiNaipOl nOkkam
   ke_lumiya nANai maRaikkum - to_lunaiyuL
   mAlaiyuL mAlai mayakkuRut tALaHtAl
   cAlpi_naic cAlpaRukku mARu.

3) cilappatikAram aaycciyar kuravai
  (A famous cowherdess song set to music)

  vaJcaJ ceytA_n to_lunaip pu_naluL
  neJcaG kavarntAL niRaiye_n kOyAm
  neJcaG kavarntAL niRaiyum vaLaiyum
  vaJcaJ ceytA_n vaTive_n kOyAm.

Take a look at the geographical origin of yamunaa,
Yamunotri(Jamnotri) in
Also, a map of the river yamunaa in a wider area
from Dr. Kalyanaraman's website:

The Har-ki-dun glacier supplies water to Yamuna from
the times  Sarasvati river started going dry. Prayag/Allahabad refers
to  a sangam of Sarasvati, Yamuna and Ganges rivers. In the
Har-ki-doon  glacier map, a river "tons" is marked. Does "tons" have
any connection with "to_lunai", the tamil name for yamunaa?

"The Yamuna is also mentioned by Arrian, Indica 4, 3 as Iobares (usually
corrected to Iomanes) and by Pliny as Iomanes.  It is interesting to note
that Iomanes seems to go back (through the contemporary histories of
Alexander) to Sanskrit YamunA, while Ptolemy's Diamounas probably
corresponds to Prakrit JamunA." (Dr. Karttunen in Indology).
Does -b- in Iobares denote a -v- in *yavuna? Will show
shortly how yamuna/yavuna can come from tamil "to_lunai"
with comparative examples.

"Returning to the Rgvedic period, and turning further east from
the SarasvatI-DRSadvatI area, the next larger stream encountered
is the YamunA, the modern JamnA (Gr. Diamounas, Iomanes,
Von Hinuber 1985:1110). The name is clearly iA (EWA II 401,
connected with yama- 'twin'), though with a rare suffix
-una/--unA found only in a few words such as Var-uNa, tar-uNa.
Why should the YamunA be a sister stream in the RV? Its
confluence with the GaGgaa is not yet in view of Rgvedic poets.
The sister stream might be the (great) SarasvatI. A mythological
possibility, however, exists, with the two branches of
the Milky Way (Witzel 1984)."
(M. Witzel, p. 377, Aryan and Non-Aryan in India, 1999).

The -unA/-una suffix is easily explained by considering the tamil
name of the yamunA. Ie., "to_lunai". Let us then consider the
front portion of to_lunai.

Drav. to_lunai > Drav. *co_lunai. Compare with
Tamil "tOkai"="cOkai"=feather, sheath in sugarcane plant etc.,
DED 2348 Ka. sOge the peculiar leaf of palms, sugar cane,
and peacock's feather(s), Kol.(Kin.) cOga namli -male
peacock Cf. 2916 Ta. tOkai. There are many others
like this with t- & c- as initial letters.

DED 2359 Ta. cO.lam, co_n_nal maize great millet,
Sorghum vulgare. Ma. cO.lam id. To. swi-.lm, Ka. jO.la
a generic name for several species of millet [...]
Tel. jonna, jonnalu .../ Similar words
in IA, eg., Skt. yavanAla-. See Turner,
s.v. junelo.

So, just as tam. cO.lam > Skt. yavanaala,
tamil to_lunai/*co_lunai can turn into yamunaa in sanskrit.
The -m- & -v- are interchangeable in loanwords in Sanskrit,
(eg., dramiDa/draviDa = tami_l) and, -m- was obviously
chosen so that yam- is "twin" with Sarasvati river.

Any Comments are appreciated on this relation between
tamil "to_lunai" and sanskrit "yamunaa".

N. Ganesan
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