What happened when Brahmins became native Tamil speakers? (Re: "kaapya-" vs. "kaapeya-" (Re: Actual use of gotra (=vr.ddha) and yuvan

Jean-Luc Chevillard jean-luc.chevillard at UNIV-PARIS-DIDEROT.FR
Sun Apr 12 09:57:23 UTC 2009

Dear SP,

yes I remember of the discussions concerning "kApya" on Indology,
notably in March and April 1997 (twelve years ago).

I am aware of the existence of the poets (Kāppiyaṉ Cēntaṉār, Kāppiyāṟṟuk 
Kāppiyaṉār) and grammarians (Tolkāppiyaṉ, Palkāppiyaṉ) which you 
mentionned, and one could also add to the list the poet Veḷḷūrk 
Kāppiyaṉ, who is mentionned as a member of the Middle Caṅkam in the 
initial section of the commentary to the /Kaḷaviyal eṉṟa Iṟaiyaṉār 

One of the important studies (written in Tamil) where the origin and 
formation of the name Tolkāppiyaṉ is discussed is the 1904 article 
("Iṭaiccaṅkam") by M. Raghava Aiyangar, which is found on pp. 88-101 
inside the 1938 collection of his articles (/Ārāyccit Tokuti/, reprint: 
Tanjore Tamil University, 1984) . The most relevant page for the current 
discussion might be p.97, where he connects Tamil and Sanskrit sources.

What I was trying to do, while starting the present thread, was to 
acquire a more precise idea of what may have happened when Brahmins 
became native Tamil speakers, after migrating to Tamil Nadu. And the 
gotra-related vocabulary seemed to be a very important component on 
which to concentrate.

Transparent flexional/morphological derivations (such as are seen in 
Sanskrit) were becoming "opaque" in the new linguistic context and those 
brahmins had to make choices regarding the way they should be publicly 
addressed or referred to in the Tamil-speaking world (i.e. the /Tamiḻ 
kūṟu nallulakam/).

One of the parameters for which I would like to have a more clear 
understanding is the order of the components, inside names which have 
several components.

For instance, in the Anbil South-Indian Inscription to which you refer 
in your message (SII 8n no.196)
[found "on a pillar lying in front of the Vighnesvara Temple ..."], the 
component "kāppiyan" (spelt with a dental "n" and not an alveolar "ṉ") 
is found 5 times, and each time it is the first component in a long 
name, all the long names ending with the coordinating particle "-um" so 
that we have the sequence:

-- kāppiyan vaṭukaṅ kaṇattān vā[ciri]yum

-- kāppiyan centan m[ā]ṭamuṭaiyānum

-- kāppiyan centan muciṟi...nmaliyum

-- kāppiyan centan c[o]matevanum

-- kāppiyan vaṭukan tāmotiranum

On the other hand, in the literary sources mentionned before, the 
"kāppiyaṉ" component comes last (see Kāppiyāṟṟuk Kāppiyaṉār, Veḷḷūrk 
Kāppiyaṉ), the exception being Kāppiyaṉ Cēntaṉār.

There are rules in the Tolkāppiyam concerning the order of components in 
long names (see for instance TC41c, as per the sūtra numbers inside the 
/Cēṉāvaraiyam/) but I am not sure they are sufficient for 
understanding/explaining all that we meet with in literature and in 

This is certainly a vast field for which a complete answer cannot be 
obtained on a mailing list.

However, pointers to articles (and books) concerning the "syntax" of 
long names in India are welcome.

Best wishes to all

-- Jean-Luc Chevillard (Paris)

Sudalaimuthu Palaniappan a écrit :
> Dear JLC,
> We have had discussions on "kApya" in Indology some years ago.
> As for the name "kapi", it is also found as gotra name for persons 178  and 
> 179 (who hailed respectively from paRAntUr and perumputUr) of taNTantOTTam  
> plates of Pallava Nandivarman II. See SII 2, no. 99. But much more frequent 
> in  inscriptions is the usage in the sense of 'one belonging to x gotra'. 
> Here the  Tamil inscriptions use "kAppiyan2". For example, see SII 8, no.196 
> in Anbil. In  my opinion, caGkam poets kAppiyan2 cEntan2Ar and kAppiyARRuk 
> kApiyan2Ar, the  grammarians tolkAppiyan2. and palkAppiyan2 belonged to this 
> gotra. It is also  possible that "kAppiyat tol kuTi" in CilappatikAram 30.83 
>  to brahmins of this gotra or a settlement of these  brahmins.
> Chitrarekha Gupta considers kapi and kApya as referring to the same gotra.  
> ("The Brahmans of India: A Study Based on Inscriptions," Sundeep Prakashan, 
>  Delhi, 1983, p. 116)
> Regards,
> S. Palaniappan
> In a message dated 4/11/2009 10:10:38 A.M. Central Daylight Time,  
> jean-luc.chevillard at UNIV-PARIS-DIDEROT.FR writes:
> I am  especially interested in the case of Tamil Nadu brahmins, because 
> the  inside /Karandai Tamil Sangam Plates/ (of king Rajendrachola I)  
> [Archaeological survey of India, 1984, K.G. Krishnan (ed.)], 10  
> different brahmins (among the 1083 brahmins who are enumerated) have  
> "kapi" as their gotra, namely the Brahmins numbered 167, 201, 225, 237,  
> 239, 306, 439, 906, 937 & 954.
> I would be grateful for any  comment on actual usage

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