Showing posts with label Vetteluthu. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Vetteluthu. Show all posts

Myths of Pallava Granta Script

Pallava Granta script is touted as script from 300AD to 10 century AD to write Sanskrit , It is also spread overseas and used by locals to derive their own script. Let us analyze the facts.

Pallava Dynasty
Though Pallava history is analysed by scholars for a long time, there are still gaps in knowledge. This is especially the case with the first period of Pallava history, the period ranging from the middle of the 3rd to the end of the 6th century A.D. The sources for the history of this period being limited, very little is known about its rulers beyond their names. The genealogy of these Pallava sovereigns and the actual duration of their reigns are still unsettled. Whether all the members mentioned in the charters actually ruled as kings is itself doubtful. We, however, get a clearer view of the dynasty during the second period, extending from the 7th to the 9th century A.D., as the epigraphs are distributed over a wide region with the advantage of some sidelights being thrown from the records of other dynasties. The Granta and Vetteluthu variations are evident from 8th century onwards until then, we find only Kadamba script. Moreover Granta and Vetteluthu are variations of Kadamba script and they evolved from kadamba script.

Pallava plates
The Earliest Pallava inscription is Mayidavolu, Hirahadagalli copper plate grants(4th century AD) uses Kadamba script, But after that we have a gap of inscriptions from 4th to 6th century AD. Even during vunnuguruvayapalem of paramesvaravarman I(669-700AD) and Reyuru plates of Narasimhavarman I (630-668AD) Kadamba script is used. The kurram plates of Narasimhavarman II (Raja Simha ) (700-28), Kasakudi and tandantottam plates of Nandivarman II pallavamalla (730 -96AD) and Bahur plates of Nirpatungavarman 9th century AD show variations from kadamba script , we can see first apperance of variations which latter evolved into Granta script around 11th century AD.

Pallava Granta Overseas
  • There is a tendency among scholars to describe early inscriptions in Indonesia and Indo-china as pallava granta and speak of expansion of pallava culture and influence. These views are wrong because of following reasons
  • The Script used in pallava inscriptions from 4th to 7th century AD and early epigraphs belong to Kadamba script which was widely used in south and western India.
  • Early writing in Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Sulawesi were written in Verse like records of kadamba kannada speaking areas unlike Pallava script.
  • Boxheaded alphabet used in epigraphs of King Bhadravarman of campa(south Annam) is not characteristic of pallava inscriptions, but is generally found in central and upper Deccan as well as Kannada speaking areas of western India.
  • Saka era introduced around 6th century AD in Indo-china and Indonesia is never used by Pallavas but chalukyas of Badami popular now in Kannada and marathi speaking areas.
  • Number inscriptions early ruling families such as Arakan(Burma), Sailendras of srivijya(palembang , sumatra) are written in kadamba and siddhamaka script of Eastern India.
  • The names of cities generally localised names of Vedic cities. Seventh Records indicate all India contact The city of Prom was also known as Vanadesi, similar to capital of the Kadambas Banawasi also the script is similar to kadamba script.
  • The Name ending varman found in East Asian dyansities is not exclusive to pallavas ,but also used by Kadambas,Alikuars, Salankayanas,Gangas, Maukharis, Matharas ,Pitrbaktas also have varman ending.
  • Many of Chronicles of South east asia are chronicles of Kalinga( orissa) and Sinhala.
  • Pallavas except a brief period in 7th century were feudataries of Satavahana , Kadambas, Chalukyas Rastrakuta and Cholas, they never took titles such as Maharaja and Rajadiraja which denote the rulers of Empires
So we can see the Truth in relation to myths floated around about Pallava Granta scripts.
  1. The Pallavas also used kadamba script and variations developed due to application of the script for writing local vernaculars tamil and malayalam
  2. Scripts used overseas are based on Kadamba script not pallava granta script, though Pallava script influenced them in the later period.
  3. Pallava Granta script developed after 8th century AD and previous inscriptions are in kadamba script only

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Pallava Granta Script

Myth of Independent Tamil Culture

We have theory of North-South contrast and an unknown Dravidian substratum over which the layer of Aryan culture was deposited. This view is only milder than that of the proponents of a separate and secular Tamil Culture, who insist on a physical and cultural Aryan-Dravidian clash as a result of which the pure Dravidian culture got swamped.Let us analyze the History,

Politics of language translation and Identity
Rajagopalachari, a political activist and Tamil scholar coins a word ‘Yakkai Rasayanam’ to denote ‘organicchemistry’. The ‘Yakkai’ has ‘pure’ Tamil root while Rasayanam is culled from Sanskrit but of common use among Tamil people.Yakkai connotes ‘organized’ and alludes to ‘vitalism’ and ‘chief organiser’, that is God. So people find this not secular.
The current technical term in usage ‘Karima Vediyal’(Carbon Chemistry) was suggested by Chennai Magahana Tamil Sangam in 1938 is exorcised of any reference to ‘tradition’ and as matter of fact is very secular. The term Karima means ‘Carbon’ and Vediyal means ‘Chemistry’. However, the term Vediyal is a modern word coined from a root word ‘Vedi’ meaning ‘transmute’. The verb ‘Vethithal’ implies transmutation of baser elements in Siddha tradition of ‘alchemy’. The word Vedi also came to denote drug used by Siddha school of medicine, derived not from plant sources but from chemical source’. How did this secularization of coining of terms
come about? Let us see

Social historians posit that during 1930s there were One group represented the traditional elite - largely dominated by Brahmins and consisting of elite from upper caste Hindu section were characterized by their sympathy towards ‘tradition’- meaning Sanskrit traditions, and in politics advocating ‘Pan Indian Nationalism’. Another group was the Tamil Vellala and non-Brahmin upper caste elite, who articulated ‘Tamil identity politics’ drawing inspiration from the Tamil past. Thirdly, there were the Left/self-respect movements, which not only questioned the ‘past’ but also ‘invalidated’ it.

As the balance of power of the third group swelled in the public sphere during the 1940s; in the ensuing social upheaval, impact of the self-respect movement’s rationalism and the left ideology geared the ‘rediscovery programme’ in a direction of taking it to secular plane away from the‘past tradition’ or ‘indigenous religion’. Rationalism was privileged in the rediscovery programme. E.V. Ramaswamy Naicker (Periyar) have very rigid ideas about the ancient history of Tamil Nadu. First, despite all evidence to the contrary,they still insist on the Aryan invasion theory in its most violent version, turning most North Indians and upper-caste Indians into descendants of the invading Aryans who overran the indigenous Dravidian s, and Sanskrit into a deadly rival of Tamil. Consequently, they assert that Tamil is more ancient than Sanskrit, and civilization in the South older than in the North. Once Tamil Nadu's Education minister said The Dravidian civilization is older than the Aryan. It is not uncommon to hear even good Tamil scholars utter such claims. Let us Analyse the evidences

Culturally, the megalithic people of the South shared many beliefs and practices with megalithic builders elsewhere in the subcontinent and beyond.

The earlier Tamil inscriptions were written in Kadamba script, Pallava grantha and Vetteluthu Inscriptions after the eighth century A.D. Contain characteristrics similar to the one now in vogue The Tamil script(see also Tamil Brahmi) infact flipflopped between Pallava Granta and Vetteluthu.

Vedic Gods and Vedic culture in Tamil Literature
Tolkappiyam (date) is modelled on the Sanskrit grammar of the Aindra school. Tolkappiyam adopts the entire Rasa theory as worked out in the Natya Sastra of Bharata. It also refers to rituals and customs coming from the Aryans,a word which in Sangam literature simply means North Indians of Vedic culture. Tolkappiyam states that marriage as a sacrament attended with ritual was established in the Tamil country by the Aryas and it uses the same eight forms of marriage found in the Dharmashastras. It mentions the caste system or fourfold jathis in the form of Brahmins, Kings, Vaishyas and Vellalas, and calls Vedic mantras the exalted expression of great sages. Tolkappiyam formulates division of the Tamil land into five regions (tinai), each associated with one particular aspect of love, one poetical expression, and also one deity: thus the hills (kurinji) with union and with Cheyon (Karthikeya); the desert (palai) with separation and Korravai (Durga); the forests (mullai) with awaiting and Mayon (Vishnu-Krishna); the seashore (neytal) with wailing and Varuna; and the cultivated lands (marutam) with quarrel and Ventan (Indra). Vedic gods are considered one with the tamil land. The emperor of Tamil poetry, Kambar, describes Sanskrit as the "devabhasa"

Ettuttokai abound in references to many gods Shiva, Uma, Murugan, Vishnu, Lakshmi and several other Saktis. The Paripadal consists almost entirely of devotional poetry to Vishnu. One poem begins with a homage to him and Lakshmi, and goes on to praise Garuda, Shiva on his majestic bull, the four-faced Brahma, the twelve Adityas, the Ashwins, the Rudras, the Saptarishis, Indra with his dreaded thunderbolt,the devas and asuras, etc., and makes glowing references to the Vedasand Vedic scholars. The Purananuru in addition sees Lord Shiva as the source of the four Vedas and describes Lord Vishnu as blue-hued and Garuda-bannered. A poem in Akananuru, declares that Shiva and Vishnu are the greatest of gods. Not only deities or scriptures, landmarks sacred in the North, such as the Himalayas or Ganga, also become objects of great veneration in Tamil poetry. North Indian cities are referred to such as Ujjain or Mathura after which Madurai was named. Court poets proudly claim that the Chera kings conquered North Indian kingdoms and carved their emblem onto the Himalayas. They clearly saw thesubcontinent as one entity.

Kural is often described as an Atheistic text a misconception. Valluvar's 1,330 mostly deal with ethics (aram), polity (porul) and love (inbam), following the traditional Sanskritic pattern of the four objects of human life: dharma, artha, kama, and moksha, the last implied rather than explicit. Still, the very first decade is an invocation to Bhagavan. The ocean of births can be crossed by those who clasp God's feet, and none else. The same idea recurs later, for instance in this profound thought, Cling to the One who clings to nothing and so clinging, cease to cling. The Kural also refers to Indra, to Vishnu's avatar of Vamana , and to Lakshmi, asserting that she will shower her grace only on those who follow the path of dharma. There is nothing very atheistic in all this, and in reality the values of the Kural are perfectly in tune with those found in several shastras or in the Gita

Shilappadikaram(Date) which relates story of Kannagi and Kovalan, it opens with invocations to Chandra, Surya, and Indra, all of them Vedic Gods, and frequently praises Agni, Varuna, Shiva, Subrahmanya, Vishnu-Krishna, Uma, Kali, Yama and so forth. There are mentions of the four Vedas and of Vedic sacrifices being faultlessly performed.In more than one place, writes V. Ramachandra Dikshitar, the first translator of the epic into English, there are references to Vedic Brahmans, their fire rites, and their chanting of the Vedic hymns. The Brahman received much respect from the king and was often given gifts of wealth and cattle. When Kovalan and Kannagi are married, they walk around the holy fire, a typically Vedic rite still at the centre of the Hindu wedding. Welcomed by a tribe of fierce hunters on their way to Madurai, they witness a striking apparition of Durga, who is addressed equally as Lakshmi and Sarasvati, the three Shaktis of the Hindu trinity. There are numerous references to legends from the Mahabharata, the Ramayana, and the Puranas.

After worshipping at two temples, one of Vishnu and the other of Shiva, the Chera king Shenguttuvan goes to the Himalayas in search of a stone for Kannagi's idol, and bathes it in the Ganges. Manimekhalai even though is a Buddhist work, it also mentions many Vedic and Puranic gods, and attributes the submergence of Puhar tothe neglect of a festival to Indra. Silapathikaram and Manimekhalai, which amply testify that what we call today Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism coexistedharmoniously. (See Also Divine Tamil)
As the archaeologist and epigraphist R. Nagaswamy remarks, The fact that the literature of the Sangam age refers more to Vedic sacrifices than to temples is a pointer to the popularity of the Vedic cults among the Sangam Tamils.

Agastya, the great Vedic Rishi, as the originator of the Tamil language. He is saidto have written a Tamil grammar, Agattiyam, to have presided over the first two Tamil Sangams, and is even now honoured in many temples of Tamil Nadu and worshipped inmany homes. One of his traditional names is Tamil muni. The Shilappadikaram refers to him asthe great sage of the Podiyil hill,and a hill is today named after him at the southernmost tip of the Western Ghats.

P. S. Subrahmanya Sastri says a knowledge of Sanskrit literature from the Vedic period to the Classical period is essential to understand and appreciate a large number of passages scattered among the poems of Tamil literature.In other words, Vedic and Puranic themes are inextricably woven into Sangam literature.
Ramachandra Dikshitar writes Either the people did not look upon religious distinctions seriously, or there were no fundamental differences between one sect and another

Historical Period
But here let us just take a look at the rulers. An inscription records that a Pandya king led the elephant force in the Mahabharata War on behalf of the Pandavas, and that early Pandyas translated the epic into Tamil. The first named Chera king, Udiyanjeral, is said to have sumptuously fed the armies on both sides during the War at Kurukshetra Chola and Pandya kings also voiced such claims of course they may be devoid of historical basis, but they show how those kings sought to enhance their glory by connecting their lineage to heroes of the Mahabharata. So too, Chola and Chera kings proudly claimed descent from Lord Rama or from kings of the Lunar dynasty, in other words vedic roots. Karikala, was a patron Vedic religion and while the Pandya king Nedunjelyan performed many Vedic sacrifices, and the dynasty of the Pallavas made their capital Kanchi into a great centre of Sanskrit learning and culture.

K.V. Raman summarizes says
The Pandyan kings were great champions of the Vedic religion from very early times According to the Sinnamanur plates, one of the early Pandyan kings performed a thousand velvi or yagas Vedic sacrifices. Though the majority of the Pandyan kings were Saivites, they extended equal patronage to the other faiths, and included invocatory verses to the Hindu Trinity uniformly in all their copper-plate grants. The Pandyas patronised all the six systems or schools of Hinduism. Their religion was not one of narrow sectarian nature but broad-based with Vedic roots. They were free from linguistic or regional bias and took pride in saying that they considered Tamil and Sanskritic studies as complementary and equally valuable.
Nilakanta Sastri goes a step further and opines, There does not exist a single line of Tamil literature written before the Tamils came into contact with, and let us add accepted with genuine appreciation, the culture of North Indian origin.

The Myth of Dravidian Culture
And yet, such statements do not go deep enough, as they still imply a North-South contrast and an unknown Dravidian substratum over which the layer of Aryan culture was deposited. This view is only milder than that of the proponents of a separate and secular Tamil Culture, who insist on a physical and cultural Aryan-Dravidian clash as a result of which the pure Dravidian culture got swamped. As we have seen, archaeology, literature and Tamil tradition all fail to come up with the slightest hint of such a conflict. Rather, as far as the eye can see into the past there is every sign of a deep cultural interaction between North and South, which blossomed not through any imposition but in a natural and peaceful manner, as everywhere else in the subcontinent and beyond.
M.G.S. Narayanan says
The Aryan-Dravidian or Aryan-Tamil dichotomy envisaged by some scholars may have to be given up since we are unable to come across anything which could be designated as purely Aryan or purely Dravidian in the character of South India of the Sangam Age. In view of this, the Sangam culture has to be looked upon as expressing in a local idiom all the essential features of classical Hindu culture. Swami Vivekananda says, The South had been the repository of Vedic learning.

It should now be crystal clear that anyone claiming a separate,pre-Aryan or secular Dravidian or Tamil culture has no evidence to show for it, except his own ignorance of archaeology, numismatics and ancient Tamil literature. There is no meaning in the word Dravidian except either in the old geographical sense or in the modern linguistic sense, racial and cultural meanings are as unscientific as they are irrational, although some scholars in India remain obstinately rooted in a colonial mindset.

The simple reality is that every region of India has developed according to its own genius, creating in its own bent, but while remaining faithful to the central Indian spirit,So is Tamil culture.