Showing posts with label pulli. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pulli. Show all posts

Myth of Antiquity of Tholkappiam

Let us continue seeing how tamil languages date is taken to antiquity
Date of Tholkappiam
The dating of the earliest tamil grammatical work Tholkappiam has been debated much and it is still imprecise and uncertain and has seen wide disagreements amongst scholars in the field. It has been dated variously between 8000 BCE and 10th CE.
While most of the antediluvian datings which stem mostly from a descriptive commentary in an 12th century work called Iraiyanar AgapporuL, about the existence of three Tamil Academies, which have been rejected as being devoid of any evidence, the genuine disagreements now center around widely divergent dates lying between the 3rd BC and 10th AD. As the Tolkappiyam is often claimed as the earliest extant work of Tamil literature, the dating of Tolkappiyam is inherently tied to the dates ascribed to the birth and development of Tamil literature as a whole.

Viyapuri Pillai, the author of the Tamil lexicon and towering figure in the field dated Tolkappiyam to not earlier than the 5-6th CE.

Kamil V. Zvelebil, a Czech indologist specialised in the Dravidian languages, dates the core of Tolkappiyam to pre-Christian era.

Robert Cladwell, a 19th century linguist who, for the first time, categorised all Dravidian languages as one language family, maintains that all extant Tamil literature can only be dated to what he calls the Jaina cycle which he dates to the 8th-9th CE to 12-13th CE.

Dr.B.G.L Swamy, a renowned botanist by profession and an acknowledged historian in his own right, contends that the Tolkappiyam cannot to be dated to anything earlier than the 10th CE.

Takahashi Takanobu, a Japanese Indologist, argues that the Tolkappiyam has several layers with the oldest dating to 1st-2nd CE, and the newest and the final redaction dating to 5th-6th centuries CE.
T.R. Sesha Iyengar, an eminent scholar and expert on Dravidian literature and history, estimates the date of Tolkappiyam to have been composed 'before the Christian era'.

Dr. Gift Siromoney, an expert on ancient languages and epigraphy, estimates the date of Tolkappiyam to be around the period of Ashoka(c 300 BCE)

V. S. Rajam, a linguist specialised in Old Tamil, in her book A reference grammar of classical Tamil poetry: 150 B.C.-pre-fifth/sixth century A.D. dates it to "pre-fifth century AD".

Herman Tieken, a Dutch author, who endeavours to trace the influence of the Sanskrit Kavya tradition on the entire Sangam corpus, argues that the Tolkappiyam dates from the 9th century CE in his book, "Kāvya in South India : old Tamil Caṅkam poetry". He arrives at this result by reassigning new dates to the traditionally accepted dates for a vast section of divergent literature.

A C Burnell, a renowned indologist of the nineteenth century who has contributed seminally to the study of Dravidian languages dates the Tolk., to the 8th CE in his book.

Iravatham Mahadevan an Indian epigraphist, in his work on epigraphy published in 2003, advances a theory where he claims that Tolkappiyam could not have been written before 2nd CE.

Tholkoppiam quotes poruladhikaramsutra , a horary astrologer of 400AD.

You may say Holy God. Why such a variation. But this is the nature of dating tamil literature. People come with dates usually the oldest based on flimsy assumptions.

Pulli theory
One of the dating methods used is the use of alphabets to determine the date. As tholkappiam talks about alphabets. Pulli theory is one of the such. The pulli is being talked about in tholkappiam ,it is a point on top of the alphabet as against the brahmi pulli which is on side. Since there is no evidence of such pulli in any inscriptions before 7th century AD, The tholkappiam is said to belong to later than 7th century AD.

Influence of Sanskrit
Influence of Sanskrit grammarians See also: Aindra school of grammar Tolkāppiyam is claimed to have been modelled on the Sanskrit grammar of the Aindra school. The preface of Ilampuranar's twelfth century commentary of the Tolkappiyam, describes it as aindiram nirainda ('comprising aindra'). This annotation was interpreted by Arthur Coke Burnell as alluding to the pre-Paninian Aindra school of Sanskrit grammar mentioned in the Ashtadhyayi. To investigate his hunch, Burnell compared the Tolkappiyam with the non Paninian Katyantra grammar and concluded that the Tolkappiyam indeed exhibited a strong influence of the non Paninian school of grammar. However, this claim has also been met with skepticism from recent researchers. The issue of the Aindra school notwithstanding, the grammar expounded by the Tolkappiyam owes a great deal to Sanskrit. The influence of various Sanskrit works like Manavadharmashastra, Arthashastra, Natyashastra and grammarians like Panini and Patanjali is evident in the Tolkappiyam. Parts of the Collathikaram are, for instance, almost a direct translation of the Sanskrit texts. The eight feelings mentioned in the Porulathikaram seem to be heavily inspired by the eight rasas or the rasa theory of the Natyashastra.

If you see the various arguments you will find that date cannot be before 8th century AD forget about before christian era.

Myth of Tamil Brahmi

Myth of Tamil Brahmi and script.
There is Ashokan Brahmi standardised by Ashoka found all over India. And there is tamil Brahmi. Let us see the genesis of Tamil Brahmi.
Tamil Brahmi Genesis
The early Brahmi inscriptions posed a greater challenge on account of their archaic characters and orthographic conventions, which were different from the original Brahmi used for Prakrit. The challenge seemed insuperable even to the most competent among the pioneering epigraphists. The major breakthrough in the decipherment of the cave inscriptions of Tamil Nadu came with K.V. Subrahmanya Aiyer (1924). He was the first to recognise that these are inscribed in Brahmi, but with certain peculiarities and new forms of letters, due to its adaptation for the Tamil language which has sounds (phonetic values) not known to the Prakrit (Indo-Aryan) language and northern Brahmi script. Yet, this lead was not seriously followed and was soon forgotten. Even Subrahmanya Aiyer did not pursue his line of enquiry to its logical conclusion. Other scholars like V. Venkayya and H. Krishna Sastri were constrained by the assumption that all Brahmi inscriptions were invariably in Prakrit or Pali, as Brahmi was used predominantly for Prakrit in all other regions of India from the Mauryan (Asokan) period. Their readings failed to convey any meaning.

Irvatham Mahadevan
Now enter the picture Irvatham Mahadevan an administrator-turned scholar, we have tamil Brahmi. By reviving Subrahmanya Aiyer's early decipherment and reading and at the same time more systematically studying these inscriptions in all their aspects, including palaeography, orthography and grammar, and seeking corroboration from the Sangam Literature and Tolkappiyam, the basic work on Tamil grammar. Mahadevan has virtually re-deciphered these inscriptions and shown them to be inscribed in Tamil. Hence the name "Tamil-Brahmi," one variety of the Brahmi script.

Characteristics of Tamil Brahmi
1.Brahmi script was adapted and modified to suit the Tamil phonetic system.
2.Palaeographic changes were made to suit the Tamil language, with the omission of letters for sounds not present in the Tamil language and by additions to represent sounds in Tamil that are not available in Brahmi.
3.All but four of the 26 letters are derived from Brahmi and have the same phonemic values.
4.Even these four - i.e., l,l, r, n - are adapted from the letters with the nearest phonetic values in (Asokan-) Brahmi, i.e., d, l, r, n.
5.Letters were also modified with a special diacritic mark, viz., the pulli (dot). These are reflected in the development of the Tamil-Brahmi in three stages (TB I, II and III):
Stage I
1. Inherent a (short-medial vowel) was absent in the consonants
2. strokes (vowel notations) were used for both the short and long medial a, and hence the need for the reading of consonants with reference to context and position;
Stage II
when the stroke for medial a marked only the long a;
Stage III
1. when the use of diacritics like the pulli was introduced for basic consonants and for avoiding ligatures for consonant clusters (as in Simhala-Brahmi).
2.The pulli was used also for distinguishing the short e and o from the long vowels, for the shortened - i and -u (kurriyalikaram and kurriyalukaram)
3.The pulli used for the unique sound in Tamil called aytam, all of which are unknown to the Indo-Aryan ( Prakrit and Sanskrit).

It is the recognition of the absence of the inherent vowel a (short) in the early phases, e.g. ma, ka, na with strokes or medial vowel notations, which are actually to be read as ma, ka, n (the inverted J symbol for the nominal suffix `an' characteristic of Tamil), and the addition of the pulli as a diacritic, that provided the key to the whole re-decipherment. Herein lies the basic contribution of Mahadevan to the study of the script and alphabet. That these findings are corroborated by the phonetic rules of the Tolkappiyam.

Above passages gives the Genesis and Characteristics of Tamil Brahmi
Where are these Incriptions

1.Pottery inscription in Tamil-Brahmi giving the name Catan. 1st century A.D. Found at Quseir-al-Qadim on the Red Sea coast of Egypt.

2.Rock-cavern inscription in Jambai 2nd Century AD.

Let us see what spoils such a great discovery
  1. Pulli TheoryScholars have observed two notational systems of Brahmi for writing Tamil. The first system is older than the second and the latter is very close to the Asokan Brahmi system. In the first system the short medial, a, is marked by a short horizontal stroke. In the second system the same mark indicates a long medial a. For example, scholars once used to read a certain word as maakaana following the second system. It did not make much sense. When the first system was used to read the inscription, the meaning became clear. The same word was read as makan, a common Tamil word for son. These two systems of Brahmi are different from the Tamil Pulli system described in Tholkappiam. The earliest stone inscription in the Tamil script is found at Vallam near Chinglepet and it belongs to the early seventh century A.D.There the dot over the pure consonants can be clearly seen. In the numerous inscriptions found on rock-shelters on hillocks near Madurai, scholars have failed to observe the Pulli in any of the inscriptions. The occurrence of the Pulli is closely linked with the date of Tholkappiam believed to be the oldest Tamil work. The late occurrence of the Pulli in Tamil inscriptions will indicate either the late date for the tholkappiam or prove Tamil Brahmi theory as false.
  2. Lack InscriptionsFor all the theories about inscriptions , we find only two or three inscriptions in the period mentioned 300BC to 500AD. Almost all the inscriptions are some grafitti. If the sangam literature and Tholkappiam if assumed are from this period then there should be flurry of inscriptions the absence show that written culture was not widespread.
  3. Inconsistencies of two Tamil brahmi and Tamil Pulli systems.The second system is closer to Ashoka Brahmi then the first one. And pulli does not show up until 7th century AD. Some scholars have even argued that Ashoka brahmi came from Tamil Brahmi, but that is not a creditable argument. Only few inscription sometimes only one inscription have been cited to show they are different. Anyone can see there will be some changes even if same person writes and the script surviving great distances with only few variations is itself miracle. So these differences are just few errors crept into the writing not a seprate script.
  4. Citing evidences where tamil was not present
    Mahadevan has been citing the southern Brahmi script found in Karnataka and Andhra to prove his theory especially Bottiporulu inscription. Which cannot be considered in the context of tamil. Many of the inscriptions dates not verified by competing authority. many references have been heresay and preliminary data on the first sighting. Many of the inscriptions are handcopied which again can introduce errors.
  5. Regional variations not surprising
    There are number of regional variations in Brahmi itself. Northern brahmi, southern brahmi , sinhala brahmi and others. In southern brahmi itself in bottiporulu inscription simultaneouly different variations have been found.
  6. Sinhala Brahmi
    Tamil brahmi is very similar to Sinhala brahmi. Here Mahadevan will claim sinhala brahni came from tamil brahmi, but evidence shows otherwise. Until 3nd century AD the tamil brahmi and srilankan brahmi are carbon copy of each other. only with advent of pallavas the script went in different ways.
  7. Scientific evolution of Brahmi
    Brahmi's limitation in phonetics in each region of India was overcome by adding megalithic symbols over the brahmi script that is why we have so many scripts in India. These are called vowel markers. This nothing new.
  8. Literary works at later period
    The written literture comes from later period of 8th century AD , it reaches a peak in 12-13th century AD. Writting seems to have started around 6th century AD during Pallava region.
So a normal evolution of scripts are taken in the arguement and has been cited reason for uniqueness of the script. Same type of evoluation has taken in other parts of India is downplayed and the arguement is made that only tamil has them is false. In short the Tamil Brahmi is an attempt to stretch the antiquity of tamil and also

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