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the dravidian problem

the dravidian problem

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Published by: India Forum on Oct 25, 2008
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The Dravidian Problem
K. V. Ramakrishna Rao

The paper \u201cDravidians \u2013 A Literary & Anthropological Study\u201d was presented at 52nd
session of Indian History Congress, held at New Delhi from February 21-23, 1992.
Modified version under the title \u201cDravidian Problem\u201d was presented at BISS National
Conference, Warangal from December 26-27, 1992.
Published in the proceedings of the BISS, pp.38-45.

1.Introduction: the ethnic interpretation and connotation of Caldwell\u2019s linguistic \u2018Dravidian\u2019 has led to the racial hypotheses and theories of \u2018Dravidians\u2019. Though the concepts of race and language are two separate entities, the \u201cDravidians\u2019 are still held only in the racial esteem against the so called \u201cAryans\u201d, in all religious, social and political interactions and processes, even today. Indeed, Bishop Robert Caldwell

(1814 \u2013 1891) himself has shown the way for such a transition to take place from linguism

to racism1. in case of \u2018Aryans\u2019, it was the study of Sanskrit literature, particularly, the Vedas that played a crucial role in their invention, whereas, comparative linguistuic study, but not the study of ancient Tamil literature, popularly known as \u2018Sangam literature\u2019, which has resulted in the production of \u201cDravidians\u2019. When \u2018Aryans\u2019 could be found only in the Sanskrit literature, but also in the ancient Tamil literature, \u2018Dravidians\u2019 are not at all found in the ancient Tamil literature, but in the Sanskrit literature mostly n the geographical context.

2. \u2018Dravidians\u2019 and Tamil literature: For the purpose of this paper, the forms of Dravid, viz., Dravida, Dravidi, Dravidam, Damila, Dramila, Dravida, dravida and their derivatives are considered. But, surprisingly, none of these words is found in the \u2018sangam literature\u2019, generally represented by Pattuppattu, ettuttogai and Padinkizhkanakku. Even in Tevaram2, only \u2018Tamizhan\u2019 was used in the expression, \u201cSeen Aryan, seen Tamizhan\u201d. Only Tayumanavar of 18th century uses the word \u201cDravidam\u201d, that too, to denote the Tamil language3. Therefore, it is evident that the forms of \u2018dravid\u2019 and their usage by Tamils and Tamil poets were not in vogue upto 18th century.

\u201cNama thipa nikhandu\u201d4, a Tamil lexicon assigned to 7, 8 or 11th century mentions \u2018Dravidam\u2019 as one of the words used for Tamil. \u201cSenthan Divakaram\u201d, another Tamil lexicon of 9th century mentions that \u2018Dravidam\u2019 as one of the eighteen languages spoken. A later work \u201cKanthanthu Upadesa Kandam\u201d mentions that Lord Shiva revealed to Agastya the grammar of proud language \u2018Dravidam\u2019. The authors of \u201cPrayoga Vivegam\u201d explain that the Sanskrit word \u201cTramilam\u201d had been changed to \u201cTamil\u201d, but the modern (Dravidian) scholars refute this strongly and assert that only the word \u2018Tamil\u2019 had been pronounced and used as \u2018Dravida\u2019 by the Sanskrit scholars. Sivagnana Yogi also mentions that Sanskrit scholars used the word \u201cDravidam\u201d symbolically to denote \u201cTen mozhi\u201d (the language of south), that is Tamil5. Therefore, it is very clear that Tamils were not only unfamiliar with the usage of the word \u2018Dravida\u2019, but also started to denote it for their language only in the modern period, particularly about the advent of the European scholars in south India.

3. \u2018Tamil\u2019 in Tamil literature: there is a well known interpretation that \u2018Dravida\u2019 is derived from \u2018Tamil\u2019. The word \u2018Tamil\u2019 is of course found in the \u201cSangam\u2019 literature at many places. Therem, it is used to denote \u2013 1. Tamil language, 2. Tamil army and 3. Tamil country6. The usage of the word \u2018Tamil\u2019 is on the increase with the passage of time in the Tamil literature, as is observed from the frequency of its occurrence as follows (see TABLE-A). In Tolkappiyam, it appears five times and in \u2018Sangam\u2019 literature 21 times. In the literature of the period 200-500 CE, it is used 45 times, 500-900 CE - 475 times, 900- 1200 CE - 381 times and 1200-1900 CE - 341 times7. Therefore, when the Tamils know very well about the name of their language and its usage, they need not have derived it from Sanskrit \u2018Dravida\u2019 and used such a non-Tamil word to name their ancient language. Moreover, they have been using the word \u2018Tamil\u2019 from \u2018Sangam\u2019 period to modern times, to denote their ancient language as proper and abstract nouns, but in any case, it has never been used in their racial connotation.

4. \u2018Ariyar\u201d in the Tamil literature: \u2018Ariyar\u2019 have been mentioned several times in the
Tamil literature and dexrfibed sufficiently to know them8. Therefore, an important

question arises, \u201cWhen there were Aruyar, why not Dravidar available at that time?\u201d. The answer is that the Tamils never considered \u2018Ariyar\u2019 as outsiders and \u2018Dravidar\u2019 themselves. Originally, \u2018Ariyar\u2019 or \u2018Aryans\u2019 were created by Maxmueller from the Vedic literature, but \u2018Dravidians\u2019 from the comparative grammar of the \u201cDravidian languages\u201d. The anthropologists succeeded in comparing the descriptive physical features of Dasas, Dasyus and Panis, like Varna, Anas, Mridhavachah etc., with their anthropometry. But, \u2018Aryans\u2019 were not compared with the description given in the Tamil literature to verify the anthropometric parameters like Cranial index, Nasal index, Stature etc.

5. Anthropometry of \u2018Dravidians\u2019: Huxley (1871), Haeckal, Turner (1900), G. Oppoert, Risely (1908), E. Thruston (1909), Seligman, Sclater and others have given different and varying anthropometric data and descriptions about \u2018Dravidian race\u2019 (Table-B). They have tried to compare them with the Mediterranean, Negrito and Australoid races with the above racial parameters. Their stature / height varies from short to medium, skin / complexion from yellow brown / brown to black; head from mesocephalic to dolicocephalic; nore from broad to narrow and flat to narrow; eye colour from brown to black; hair from straight or wavy to curly but not woolly or frizzy; lips from thick to protruding and so on. If this is the racial picture of \u2018Dravidians\u2019, the picture given by the Tamil poets about the ancient Tamils is entirely different.

6. \u201cAnthropometry\u201d of the ancient Tamils: the Tamil poets have too meticulously described about head, eyes, hair, lips, ears, eyelids, hands, legs and body structure of the ancient Tamils at many places, but they never painted them with \u2018black\u2019 as has been done by the above \u2018racist\u2019 scholars. Indeed they have used different terminology for each characteristic e.g, uchi, talai, siram for head; kudimi, mayir, kundal, mudi, ori, alagam, ulai for hair; adi, siradi, sivanta adi, kal for feet; meni, uruvam, udal, agam, sariram, uru for body; euiru, muruval, pal for teeth; nodal, netri for forehead; kavul, tadai, movai for jaw; kannidazh, imai for eyelids; idazh, adaram, udadu for lips, these words are used with suitable adjectives to specify the physical characteristics of men and women. Each word is used appropriately to describe a morphological trait. Indeed, many poets, scholars and other personalities were named after a specific characteristic possessed by them, e.g,

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