New issue of EJVS: Mahadevan on Southern Mbh, Vedic Brahmins & paleography

Michael Witzel witzel at FAS.HARVARD.EDU
Sun Jul 20 12:07:28 UTC 2008

We are happy to announce a new issue of the Electronic Journal of  
Vedic Studies, Vol. 15, issue 2 (July):
The Southern Recension of the Mahabaharata,
Brahman Migrations,
and Brahmi Paleography


    Tennilapuram P. Mahadevan


The paper  is important  in several respects. It provides evidence  
for the
early (Sangam period)  movement of Northern  (Madhyadesha) Vedic
Brahmins into the peninsula and of that of their later successors in  
and Cola time. The first group includes among others, the rare  
schools of
the Vadhula Taittiriyas, the Kaushitaki Rgvedins and the Jaiminiya

The first  group wears the traditional tuft—shikha in Sanskrit and   
kutumi in
Tamil—toward the front of the head and is known thus as the Purvashikha
Brahmans; the second group wears it to the back of the head, and thus  
called  Aparashikha Brahmans.

The  Purvashikha group brought the archetype of the Mahabharata or its
proto-Sharada version to the peninsula, where it  evolved into the  
Recension (SR), written in Southern  Brahmi script by the beginning  
of the
Common Era. It was taken, in Kalabhra times, to Malabar by the  

The SR text initially  also remained behind in the Tamil country with  
historical Sholiya Purvashikhas. The Aparashikha Brahmans arriving  
the Pallava period brought along a Northern Recension (NR) text giving
rise to the much  inflated Grantha-Telugu versions of the SR text.

This scenario explains the anomalous situation that the Malayalam  
of the  SR is the shortest of the SR texts and that  it is closely  
aligned to the
Sharada text of Kashmir.  It  also explains the influence of another  
NR text
on the  Grantha-Telugu versions of the SR text.

Electronic Journal of Vedic Studies (EJVS)
2008, Vol.15, Issue 2, p. 43 sqq
(c) ISSN 1084-7561


Michael Witzel
witzel at

Dept. of Sanskrit & Indian Studies, Harvard University
1 Bow Street
Cambridge MA 02138, USA

phone: 1- 617 - 495 3295 (voice & messages), 496 8570, fax 617 - 496  
my direct line (also for messages) :  617- 496 2990

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