My final post on this

George Hart glhart at BERKELEY.EDU
Mon Jul 6 11:21:54 EDT 2009

Let me quickly add that in the heat of arguing, I expressed myself a  
bit too strongly.  Certainly Rajam's article is worth reading, as she  
is an eminent scholar.  Her book on the grammar of Old Tamil is  
indispensable and she has often given me valuable insights, which I  
have acknowledged.  If anyone is interested, they should certainly  
read what she has written and form their own opinion.  I also agree  
with Jean-Luc that my comment on Rajam's article was not sufficient --  
one needs to look at the word in all its contexts.  Still, from all my  
reading and experience with old Tamil, I do not believe Rajam is  
correct in making the meaning of the word so broad.  I would revisit  
this (and perhaps I will), but I find myself no longer having such an  
interest in historical anthropology -- I am nowadays much more  
interested in the old literature and its poetry.

I would like to end my comments on this subject (I promise) by  
thanking everyone involved.  I find disagreement is extremely helpful  
in considering difficult issues.  Prof. Tieken, with whom I largely  
disagree, has made me much more open to issues of dating in old Tamil,  
Palaniappan has raised many excellent points, as did Rajam.

Finally, I'd like to suggest that this forum has been moribund too  
long.  There has been almost no debate on important issues regarding  
Sanskrit, which is the expertise of 99% of the people on the forum.   
The interesting topics have been the IV culture and old Tamil --  
perhaps it takes the Tamil penchant for argument and disagreement to  
bring life to this forum?  As I remember it, ZDMG has some wonderfully  
heated discussions of the RV and other issues -- could we not emulate  
that old journal and have a bit more of scholarly (not political)  
debate here?  And for everyone who works primarily with Sanskrit, I  
hope this discussion sheds a bit of light on just how rich and  
important old Tamil are.  George Hart

By the way, my article on caste in ancient South India is available at 

On Jul 6, 2009, at 4:07 AM, Jean-Luc Chevillard wrote:

> I do not think that this is a fair summary of
> (or a sufficient comment on)
> V.S. Rajam's article
> (which appeared in the Journal of the American Oriental Society,  
> Vol. 106, No. 2 (Apr. - Jun., 1986), pp. 257-272
> and which is available on JSTOR at
> <>
> I shall simply say that
> all my colleagues who can read original Tamil sources
> and with whom I have spoken about V.S. Rajam's article
> think that it is an excellent article
> and that many of the points of view expressed by G.Hart
> are superseded by the points of view expressed in this article.
> Quoting the Madras Tamil Lexicon (MTL)
> as a comment on VSR's article
> is simply insufficient
> because the MTL is a compilation based on various sources
> and does not have an authority which would be independant
> from the authority that those sources possess.
> And the DED is itself a preliminary compilation of various  
> dictionaries.
> Therefore, the ongoing collective thought process, as far as  
> aṇaṅku (அணங்கு) is concerned, is:
> -- Step 1: compilation of MTL
> -- Step 2: compilation of DED
> -- Step 3: George Hart presents his views on aṇaṅku  
> (அணங்கு)
> -- Step 4: VSR argues that George Hart's view do not fairly  
> represent the available philological data
> -- Step 5: ...
> However, since I have the impression that everybody on the Indology  
> list
> has had enough of that thread,
> I shall simply recommend
> as Step 5
> to anyone interested
> in the topic of aṇaṅku (அணங்கு) to read V.S. Rajam's  
> article
> and to form their own opinion.
> I believe the best way a debate on a mailing list can end
> is when one receives an incentive for further reading.
> Best wishes
> -- Jean-Luc Chevillard (Paris)
> George Hart a écrit :
>> [...] As for aNanku, the DED gives cognates in several languages,  
>> and the Lexicon says, "1 pain, affliction, suffering 2 disease 3  
>> fear 4 lust 5 killing 6 deity 7 celestial damsel 8 demoness that  
>> takes away one's life by awakening lust or by other means 9  
>> beautiful woman, as resembling a celestial damsed 10 devil 11  
>> dancing under religious excitement, especially possession by skanda  
>> 12 low-caste person 13 beauty 14 form 15 young offspring" (Note the  
>> last meaning is given a different entry in DED). As a verb, the  
>> word means "to suffer," "to afflict," and is connected with Kannada  
>> aNunku, "depress, humble, ruin, destroy." Rajam is a fine scholar,  
>> but I do not think she has established that the word means anything  
>> other than "afflict" or something similar in any of her examples.  
>> And then, of course, we have the notion of aNanku in musical  
>> instruments played by performers (who, yes, are low caste) and in  
>> the breasts of beautiful women (because they bewitch men). And  
>> certainly, there is no commentator who sees the word as meaning  
>> anything other than "afflict" in some sense.

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list