[INDOLOGY] N. Ganesan's Dravidian etymologies for 'makara', etc.

palaniappa at aol.com palaniappa at aol.com
Fri Jan 9 06:46:41 UTC 2015

Dear Indologists,        
I am sending this from a Windows machine. Hopefully, the diacritics will come through this time. Please disregard the earlier posts with a slightly different title.

I apologize for the length of this post. I summarize its contents first. Those who are interested in the details can read further.          
In multiple Internet posts N. Ganesan has mentioned an article of his entitled, "A Dravidian Etymology for Makara - Crocodile," published by the International School of Dravidian Linguistics in 2011.  (See Attachment 1 for the article.) In this article, Ganesan offers new etymologies for words meaning crocodile such as Sanskrit makara, Sanskrit nakra/nākra, Tamil mutalai, and Tamil viṭaṅkar/iṭaṅkar. As far as I can see, the article seems to have serious flaws from the viewpoints of linguistics and philology. While usually an article of such a nature might not receive any serious attention from scholars, the fact that it is said to be published by International School of Dravidian Linguistics suggests that it undergo scrutiny by scholars.           
In the discussion below, I point out some of the problems I see in the article and I would appreciate any comments from the members of this list.           
Etymology for Sanskrit makara                     
Dravidian Etymological Dictionary (Revised edition, abbreviated as DEDR) entry 4952 gives the following words for crocodile.          
4952 Ta. mutalai, mutaḷai, mucali crocodile. Ma. mutala. Ko. mocaḷ. Ka. mosaḷe, masaḷe. Koḍ. mosale. Tu. mosaḷè, mudalè, mudaḷè, mūdalè. Te. mosali. Kol. (Kin.) moseli. Pa. mōca. Konḍa (BB) mōdi, mūdi. Kur. (BB) bōca. Malt. boce. / Cf. Skt. (lex.) mācala- crocodile; (lex.) musali- house-lizard; alligator; Pkt. muduga- = grāhaviśesa-.          
Based on the above entry, Bh. Krishnamurti has given  * mōc- / *moc-Vḷ as the Proto-Dravidian form for the word for crocodile.  (Dravidian Languages, 2003, p. 13).           
However, on p.7 of his article, Ganesan states, "The Proto-Dravidian root for makara is *mokaray- a verbal noun from the verb, *mok-/*moṅku- 'to eat greedily in large mouthfuls, eat voraciously, devour, gobble, swallow' (DEDR 5127+4897)."           
DEDR entries 4897 and 5127 are given below.          
4897 Ta. mukku (mukki-) to eat in large mouthfuls; mokku (mokki-), mokki-ttiṉ- to eat greedily in large mouthfuls. Ka. mukku to eat in a certain manner, put any dry grain, etc., into the mouth with the hollowed hand and gobble; mukkuḷ, mukkuḷe mouthful of water for rinsing the mouth, rinsing the mouth, cleaning the teeth; mukkuḷisu to rinse the mouth, spit out, abandon, reject. Tu. mukkuni to gobble, swallow, devour; mukkāvuni to over-feed (tr.); mukkele voracious man; mukkuli, mukkuḷi mouthful of any liquid; mukkuliyuni, mukkuḷiyuni to gargle or rinse the mouth. Te. bokku to eat greedily, stuff the mouth and eat voraciously, gobble. Kui muka (muki-) to cast food into the mouth with the hand; mukal mouthful; mukal giva to rinse out the mouth, take a mouthful, gargle. Kuwi (Isr.) buk- (-it-) to gobble, swallow. Cf. 5127 Ma. mōkuka.           
5127 Ma. mōkuka, mōntuka to drink, sip; mōyikka to give to sip; mōval a gulp. Kur. mōxnā to eat (anything except cooked rice); pass. or refl. mōxrnā; mōxta'ānā to cause or allow someone to eat. Malt. móqe to eat (as meat or fruit). ? Ta. moci (-pp-, -tt-) to eat; māntu (mānti-) to eat, drink, experience, enjoy Cf. 4897 Ta. mukku.          
I do not understand how Ganesan could get the Proto-Dravidian 'root' *moṇku- from these entries.          
Having postulated *mok-/*moṅku- from DEDR 5127 and 4897, Ganesan states:          
"The Dravidian verb, mok-/moṅk- transforms to moc-/moñc- in south Dravidian languages."           
As far as I know, there has been no basis for such a context-free transformation mentioned in any work on comparative Dravidian phonology. (Moreover, as one can see above in DEDR 4592, the words for 'crocodile' in north Dravidian languages, Kurukh and Malto, also have -c- and not -k- in DEDR 4952.)             
Then Ganesan goes on to say:          
"Hence Kannada and Telugu have mosale or mosali (< *mokaray), and Tamil and Malayalam derives its mosale> motalai > mutalai from the same verbal root, mok- with -r- > -l- alternation in the South."           
Ganesan has not presented any evidence of -oka- transforming to -oca- or -osa- in south Dravidian languages. So, in my opinion, Ganesan has not provided an acceptable Dravidian etymology that supposedly explains Sanskrit 'makara' as well as Tamil mutalai.           
Etymology for nakra/nākra                     
Ganesan also has given an etymology for Indo-Aryan words for gharial, the long-snouted crocodile.           
On p. 4 of his paper, Ganesan says, " The god Śiva in Tamil bhakti texts of the first millennium, is extolled as either nakkar or viṭaṅkar indicating Śiva’s nudity and his virile lingam in particular. These epithets for Śiva and his lingam have origin in the names for gharial crocodile (Section 3.0). When viṭaṅku is used, it indicates the naked bhikṣāṭana youth going rounds in the streets and attracting women: maṉaikaḷ tōṟum talai kai ēnti viṭaṅkarākit tirivatu eṉṉē? (Tevaram 7.6.1)."           
The interpretation of Tamil viṭaṅkar as indicating a naked Śiva is simply not valid according to Tamil philology.  Indeed the text quoted by Ganesan is translated by V. M. Subramanya Iyer in the Digital Tēvāram edition (from EFEO, Pondicherry) as "what is the reason for wandering from house to house, assuming a beauteous form and asking alms, " where he translates viṭaṅkar as 'beauteous form” (http://tinyurl.com/p7vg2wl). ; That viṭaṅkar is not naked is shown by Tēvāram 7.36.3, another verse by Cuntarar, the same person who authored the verse quoted by Ganesan too. In this verse translated by V. M. Subramanya Iyer, Viṭaṅkar is explicitly described as wearing a loin-cloth as given below (http://tinyurl.com/nbns4gt).          
You are pure in your eyes, mouth and body, you wear a sewn loin-cloth, give up dancing along with pēy in the cremation-ground, are you a mad person? Our master! Civaṉ, who is known by the name of Āraṇiya viṭaṅkar in Paiññīli surrounded by a verdant garden which has mast wood trees, cool and green delight of the woods, and lotus flowers growing in the moats into which water flows.          
So there is no connection between nudity and viṭaṅkar as claimed by Ganesan.           
On pp. 7-8 of his paper, Ganesan says, "In East India (Nepali, Bihari, Bengali) (3) nakar is the name of gharial [13], directly derivable from the Tamil verb, nakar- ‘to creep, to crawl slowly’. Compared to muggers (< makara), gharials have much smaller, weak legs and cannot do ‘high walk’ as muggers can (Figures 7, 8). When gharials come to the shore for sun bathing or for laying eggs, they creep on the banks awkwardly pushing their huge bodies forward. From this Dravidian nakar, Sanskrit gets nakra-/nākra- and Middle Indo-Aryan nakka-. In Tamil Tevaram texts, Śiva is called nakkar/nakkaṉ due to his nudity traceable to the phallus shape of the gharial snout and its ancient name."          
While Ganesan easily moves from Tamil nakar to Dravidian nakar, DEDR does not include an entry that includes Tamil nakar 'to creep, to crawl slowly'. There seem to be no cognates of nakar in any other Dravidian language including Telugu and Kannada. (nakar is not included in Emeneau and Burrow's  "Dravidian Borrowings from Indo-Aryan" either.) So Tamil nakar 'to creep slowly, crawl slowly' being the source of Indo-Aryan nakra/nākra is not very convincing to me.  As a result, tracing nakkar/nakkaṉ (referring to Śiva) "to the phallus shape of the gharial snout and its ancient name" also seems to be impossible.          
However, there is another possibility, as Burrow and Emeneau seem to think.          
DEDR 3732 entry is given below.          
3732 Ka. negar̤, negar̤e alligator. Tu. negaḷů id.; negarů a sea-animal, the vehicle of Varuṇa. Te. (B.) negaḍu a polypus or marine animal supposed to entangle swimmers. / Cf. Skt. nakra- crocodile; nākra- a kind of aquatic animal; Turner, CDIAL, no. 7038.           
Based on DEDR 3732 Krishnamurti has given a reconstructed form *nek-Vḷ¸· (Dravidian Languages, 2003, p. 13). This word at least could be transmitted to Indo-Aryan since Kannada is adjacent to Indo-Aryan linguistic areas.           
Etymology of Tamil            iṭaṅkar                     
As best as I could figure out Ganesan's chain of reasoning, this is how Ganesan seems to arrive at how Tamil words viṭaṅkar/iṭaṅkar are interpreted as referring to gharial.          
 Śiva is naked as Bhikṣāṭana.           
 Gharial's snout has the shape of a phallus.          
 Gharial is called nakka in Middle Indo-Aryan          
 So Śiva is called nakkar because he is naked.          
 Tamil viṭaṅku means 'to be erect (as lingam)' (Ganesan's own interpretation)          
 Śiva is called viṭaṅkar.          
 So viṭaṅkar stands for the male organ.           
 Gharial's snout has the shape of a phallus.           
 So viṭaṅkar in Tamil means gharial.           
According to Ganesan, viṭaṅkar lost the initial v- and became iṭaṅkar.           
The word viṭaṅkar referring to a crocodile occurs for the first time in the Varatarāca Aiyaṅkār Pākavatam, a 16th century text. Earlier literary texts or lexicons do not mention that word. But earlier texts going back to 2nd century CE mention iṭaṅkar in the sense of 'crocodile'.  In several instances in the Kamparāmāyaṇam (ca. 9th or 12th century), iṭaṅkar is the word used to describe the crocodile that attacked the elephant in the Gajendra Mokṣa episode. (For example, see Kamparāṃāyaṇam          
(In fact, contrary to Ganesan’s suggestion of viṭaṅkar being the original form, which lost v- to result in iṭaṅkar, I would argue that the original form was indeed iṭaṅkar and the form viṭaṅkar probably resulted from a reanalysis of a manuscript line such as tuyiṉṟaṉaviṭaṅkarmāttaṭaṅkaṭōṟumē in Kamparāmāyaṇam Kitkintā Kāṇṭam Kārkālappaṭalam published in 1862 as shown in Attachment 2, where –v- is a glide resulting from the morphophonemics of joining tuyiṉṟaṉa ending in -a and iṭaṅkar beginning in i-. When the words in the quoted line are separated, the word in question is taken as iṭankar as can be seen in http://tinyurl.com/kd756qp .)           
Even if one accepts the form viṭaṅkar to be earlier, in the 16th century text, the word 'viṭaṅkar' is used in connection with crocodile-elephant encounter. Since gharials are not known to attack even human beings, it is doubtful if they are biologically equipped to attack big elephants. Even in the Maṇimēkalai (6th century CE), the moat around Kāñci was described as having crocodiles indicated by the term iṭaṅkar, which means that iṭaṅkar cannot be identified as gharial.  (As gharials do not attack human beings, they would not have been used in moats, which were designed to ward off attacks by hostile warriors.) So the case of viṭaṅkar/iṭaṅkar representing gharial is not defensible.          
In my opinion, Ganesan's etymologies for Sanskrit makara and nakra/nākra are not supported by comparative Dravidian linguistic evidence or Tamil philology. Also, his etymological interpretation of Tamil viṭaṅkar/iṭaṅkar is not supported by Tamil philology.           
In January 2012 Ganesan stated that the article had been published in "Prof. V. I. Subramonium commemoration volume, ISDL, Tiruvananthapuram, Kerala, 2011". Later, in February 2013 he stated that the article had been published in "Prof. V. I. Subramonian Memorial Volume, International School of Dravidian Linguistics, 2011, (Tiruvananthapuram, Kerala)". International Journal of Dravidian Linguistics, Volume 39, Issue 2 published in June 2010 was called "PROFESSOR V. I. SUBRAMONIAM MEMORIAL VOLUME" as can be seen in Attachment 3. Ganesan's article was not included in that volume. Nor was it published in the IJDL issues of 2011. There was no commemoration volume published by ISDL in 2011.           
However, there is going to be a separate Professor V. I. Subramoniam Commemoration Volume that will be published in June 2015 during the 43rd annual conference of Dravidian Linguistics Association to be held in Annamalai University in Tamil Nadu. Ganesan’s article may be included in Professor V. I. Subramoniam Commemoration Volume.          
I would appreciate any comments from the list members.          
Thank you in advance.          
S. Palaniappan   

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