What happened when Brahmins became native Tamil speakers? (Re: "kaapya-" ...

Jean-Luc Chevillard jean-luc.chevillard at UNIV-PARIS-DIDEROT.FR
Sun Apr 12 21:15:30 UTC 2009

Dear SP,

I agree that the fact that inscriptions use "n" or "ṉ" is not a 
significant issue. I just mentionned it for the sake of completion;

Regarding your two earlier posts (the first one dated 14 Aug 1999 and 
the second one dated 10 Aug 2006),
they contain indeed a lot of interesting data, some of which seems to be 
interpretable using the "vṛddha vs. yuvan" distinction which was evoked 
at the beginning of the thread and commented upon by Professor Cardona:

You write (in your 1999 post [converted to Unicode, hopefully without 

<BEGIN QUOTE: SP: Aug 1999>
There are three Classical Tamil poets from Madurai with the following 
names: pālāciriyar nappālaṉār, pālāciriyar naṟṟāmaṉār, pālāciriyaṉ 
cēntaṉ koṟṟaṉār

Regarding each of these U. V. Saminataiyar  suggests they were probably 
teachers of children, based on Ta. pāla < Skt. bāla (caṅkakālap 
pulavarkaḷ, p.342-3). The Tamil Lexicon also interprets it in the same 

However, a study of Tamil inscriptions reveals that pālāciriyaṉ is a 
variant of Tamilized pārāśarya, ie., one who belonged to the lineage of 

An inscription, SII vol. 17, no. 598, of the period of Kulottunga Chola 
II (12 th century) gives three variants of the same name as:
pārāciriaṉ, pārāśrīaṉ, pālāśrīaṉ

When considered along with other names in the inscription, it is obvious 
that it is a gotra name. There are other inscriptions which give the 
variant pālāciriaṉ. Another inscription gives the variant pārācarian.

This will help us correctly interpret the name of another CT poet 
"maturai iḷampālāciriyaṉ cēntaṉ kūttaṉār". UVS intreprets the name as 
teacher cēntaṉ kūttaṉ who was originally from the place called iḷampāl 
and later
settled in Madurai. The correct interpretation should be, "cēntaṉ 
kūttaṉ, the young  one of the lineage of parāśara/śrī".

We have other poets with part of the names derived from gotra names such as:

maturai iḷaṅkaucikaṉār (kauśika) ,

ko/ōṭimaṅkalam vātuḷi naṟcēntaṉār (vādhūla) ,

kācipaṉ kīraṉār (kāśyapa) ,

kaṭampaṉūrc cāṇṭiliyaṉār (śāṇḍilya),

taṅkāl āttirēyaṉ ceṅkaṇṇaṉār (ātreya)

Similarly, CT poet kōṉāṭṭu eṟiccilūr māṭalaṉ maturaikkkumaraṉār and 
māṭala maṟaiyōṉ of Cilappatikāram were brahmins of the māḍala gotra 
which is one of the gotras listed by Chitralekha Gupta in "The Brahmanas 
of India., 1983, p.117. Similarly, tolkāppiyaṉ probably belonged to 
kāpi/kāpya gotra. Both māṭalaṉ and kāppiyaṉ occur in inscriptions.

<END QUOTE: SP: Aug 1999>

Do I understand you correctly if I say that you think that the "vṛddha 
vs. yuvan" distinction (i.e. "gārgya" vs. "gārgyāyaṇa"), could be 
expressed in Tamil, AT LEAST in the cases WHEN it was felt NECESSARY, by 
making use of /tol/ ("ancient, senior") and /iḷam/ ("young, junior") 
components of the long names.

In that case, the forms you quote, /iḷampālāciriyaṉ/ and 
/iḷaṅkaucikaṉār/ are the Tamil equivalent of /yuvan/ forms.

Similarly, /tolkāppiyaṉ/ could be the Tamil equivalent of a /vṛddha/ form.

Is this what you mean?

Best wishes

-- Jean-Luc Chevillard

Sudalaimuthu Palaniappan a écrit :
> Dear JLC,
> In my opinion, the use of dental n vs. alveolar n2 as in SII v8, no.196 is  
> not a significant issue. As you know, there are many case where in the  
> same inscription, the same name occurs with both variants. For kAppiyan2 with  
> alveolar n2, see SII 19, nos. 62, 63, and 335.
> Two of my earlier posts that may be related to this issue are.
> _http://listserv.liv.ac.uk/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind9908&L=INDOLOGY&P=R2624&I=-3_ 
> (http://listserv.liv.ac.uk/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind9908&L=INDOLOGY&P=R2624&I=-3) 
> _http://listserv.liv.ac.uk/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind0608&L=INDOLOGY&P=R479&I=-3_ 
> (http://listserv.liv.ac.uk/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind0608&L=INDOLOGY&P=R479&I=-3) 
> In the names of Classical Tamil (CT) poets and the persons they sung about, 
>  some seem to have only gotra component while others have gotra as well as 
> given  names while others have some or all of the following: names of the 
> name of  original region, name of original town/village, (qualified) name of 
> gotra,  current town/village, father and given name. 
> So we have AmUrk koutaman2 cAtEvan2Ar and kOtaman2Ar as well as cellUrk  
> kOcikan2 kaNNan2Ar and maturai iLaGkoucikan2Ar. The need for the use of given  
> name might have been based on how well-known the person was in the literary 
>  circles. Consider the case of the title kAviti discussed by pErAciriyar. 
> We have  CT poets, iLampullUrk kAviti, kiTaGkil kAvitik kIran2 kaNNan2Ar, and 
> AvUrk  kAvitikaL cAtEvan2Ar. Thus what tolkAppiyar says is a general rule. 
> But  depending on the 'branding' of the individual person, the minimal  
> number of referential terms/names/titles one needs to specifically identify a  
> person could have varied and the gotra-derivative name can be in the middle 
> or  at the end in literary usage. The case of the inscriptional usage might 
> be  slightly different since the inscriptions were legal documents and one  
> needs to have more formal identification.
> This could have been probably similar to the current popular  usage of 
> 'kalaiJar' which while in general could mean any artist (honorific), it  
> specifically refers to the present Chief Minister Karunanidhi. I guess in the  
> northern context it is similar to 'Panditji' which referred to Jawaharlal  
> Nehru. 
> Regards,
> Palaniappan
> In a message dated 4/12/2009 4:57:56 A.M. Central Daylight Time,  
> jean-luc.chevillard at UNIV-PARIS-DIDEROT.FR writes:
> 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, Kāppiyāṟṟ
> uk  
> 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  
> Akapporuḷ/.
> 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 
> inscriptions.
> 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)

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