kEkaya, zAkya (Buddha's clan), Ehu Saantamula, and tamil cEku/eHku

N. Ganesan naga_ganesan at HOTMAIL.COM
Tue Oct 10 16:31:46 UTC 2000

Buddha's native regions were inhabited by the peoples when they moved
out of the Indus region once the Sarasvati river became dry. In the
east India, the language shift to IA was being effected thru' the
means of religion and, folks were becoming acculturated Aryans. Even
now, we can get a glimpse of Dravidian in their place/river names,
clan titles, kinship from ancient MBh. and Buddhist sources  etc.

The ancient megalopolis, pATaliputra has a neat drav. etymology:
pATali is the pAtiri flowers plant and putra and tamil "putar/putal"
(=bush/thicket/low jungle) are cognates. Next consider the
sONe river near Patna. MW dictionary gives zONa =
"the river S3ona or Sone (also %{A} , f. ; it rises in Gondwana in the
district of Nagpore , on the table-land of Amara-kan2t2aka , four or
five miles east of the source of the Narmada1 [Nerbudda] , and running
first northerly and then easterly for 500 miles falls into the Ganges
above Pa1t2ali-putra or Patna." zaNIra = a bank or alluvial island in
the middle of the river S3on2a1 L. ; Gonds are dravidians and, in
Tamil, "kONi, kaNam, caNal" etc., refer to the vedic zaNa. The river,
zONa is called cONai in old Tamil texts. The river name zONa and the
related zaNIra seem to derive from zaNa(tamil kaNam)= 'hemp'. The
river Narmada originates near zoNa. Narmada's old name is Nerbudda
and, this seems to be cognate with tam. "nel-putai"(Paddy
fields,marshes). Narmada is called sOmasutaa = daughter of the moon.
Paddy which has an yellow color could have been compared with the
moon, and it had reached Sindh in the Indus culture in a very early
age. Probably from the East where the source of Narmada is located.

Prof. Witzel has written about the Northwestern peculiarity of
strange interchange between k and z which is limited to
non-IA words such as karkoTa/zarkoTa. I earlier wrote:

<<<K. Gopalachari, Early history of the Andhra country,
1941 refers to an inscription edited by H. Luders.
The inscription mentions a temple dedicated to
nODagirIzvarasvAmin by the Satavahana king,
Ehu Santamula. Gopalachari says the "ehu" is
the dravidian word for steel which is "eHku"
in sangam texts, where H is the special tamil
letter called aaytam.>>>

"zaikya" mentioned in the MBh. commentaries can be explained
through Dravidian. Consider the tamil word, "cEku" meaning
solidity or hardness. (See Cologne Online Tamil Lexicon).
Word-initial k-/c- are common. tamil kai = telugu cey = hand;
kEraLa & CEra kings etc., Drav. *kEku (related to cEku, attested in
tamil)  could change to "zeku" in Sanskrit.
This Drav. *kEku/cEku > Skt. *zeku, and then "zaikya" refering
to steel is connected with "eHku" of the sangam texts and "ehu"
mentioned in the Satavahana inscription of the 2nd century.

Kekayas are ethnically non-Aryan. "Rama's stepmother Kaikeyi
is the Kekaya princess. The Kekayas have been listed even by
the Jainas among non-Aryan peoples." (p.118, M. Deshpande,
Sociolinguistic attitudes in India: An historical reconstruction).
Among the six Aryan clans listed in the PaNNavaNAsutta,
Buddha's zAkya clan is listed as IkkhAga (p.50).
It is common for losing initial k, and thus kEkaya and IkkAga
(>ikSvAku) appear related.

zAkya seems to be an early sanskritization from kEkaya.
With k- > z-, and ke- > za-/zA-. (Cf. nerbudda > narmadaa
in the same area). Just as in the epic marriages,
the zAkya tribe also practiced the cross-cousin marriages
and, this reinforces my hypothesis that zAkya had
an ethnic Dravidian stock, but spoke an IA dialect
in Buddha's times. To sum up, the North Indian clans
like Kekaya and ZAkya seem to be cognate with
Dravidian words cEku/eHku etc., meaning strong, robust,
steel-like etc., Note that the southern SatakarNi kings
had a title "Ehu", and Buddhist sources connect
zAkya with Ikkhaaga which was sanskritized as ikSvAku.

Comments are welcome.

N. Ganesan

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