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' 1914 
J[All rights reserved"} 




Tbe VConourable 

SIR HAROLD STUART,, C.s.i., i.c.s, 

/Aerober of Qouncil, /AadraS 

Tb'S 9olun)e 

3s by Hind pern))SSion roost reSpectfutty 


By ^bs ^utbor 

(Cs a bu")bte tribute of gratitude 



A popular hand-book to the history, from 
original sources, of the Tamil people has been a 
want. In these essays an attempt has been made 
for the first time to put together the results of 
past researches, so as to present before the 
reader a complete bird's-eye view of the early 
history of Tamil culture and civilisation. The 
several topics have been treated from the stand- 
point of modern criticism, traditions and legends 
being discarded or utilized with great caution. 
They are based chiefly upon materials, which 
have been gathered in the course of my study 
of Tamil literature, ethnology and epigraphy 
begun while working under Sir Harold Stuart 
and Mr. W. Francis, both of the Indian Civil 
Service, in connection with the Madras Censuses 
of 1891 and 1901 and the revision of District 
Gazetteers. Some of the theories explained 
here might be open to corrections and altera- 
tions in the light of further discoveries and 


investigations. Any criticism calculated to 
enhance the accuracy and usefulness of the 
book will be thankfully received. 

My obligations to published works especially 
to the contributions in the Indian Antiquary 
and Epigraphia Indica are extensive. A list of the 
English books consulted in the preparation of 
this work is given separately to avoid numerous 
foot-notes and references. My sincere thanks 
are due to Rao Bahadur M. Rangacharyar, M.A.^ 
Professor of Sanskrit and Comparative Philology, 
Presidency College, Madras, for the introduction 
to this volume, and to Mr. P. Subba Rao, 
B. A., of the Madras Record Office, for valuable 
suggestions while revising the manuscript and 
correcting the proofs for the press. 


Bray, Denys. — 
Buhler, Dr. — 
Burnel], Dr. A. C.- 

Caldwell, Bishop. — 

Chitty, Simon Casie. 
Colbrooke, H. T. 
District Gazetteers 
Epigraphia Indica. 
Farrar, Canon F.W. 
Forbes, Capt. — 
Francis, W. — 
Gesenius, Dr. — 
Grierson, Dr. — 

The Brahui Language. 
Indian Palasography. 
Elements of South Indian 

On the Aindra School of 

Sanskrit Grammarians. 
A Comparative Grammar of 
the Dravidian Languages. 
The Tamil Plutarch. 
Miscellaneous Essays. 
(New Edition.^ 

Gundert, Dr. H. — 

Language and Languages. 

The Languages of Further India. 

Madras Census Report, 1901. 

Hebrew Lexicon. 

The Languages of India. 

The Linguistic Survey of India. 

The I\Ialayalam Grammar. 

Malayalam Dictionary. 
Hasting's Encyclopcedia of Religion and Ethics. 
Hovelacque, M. — The Science of Language, 
Hultzsch, Dr. E. — South Indian Inscriptions. 
Hunter, Sir W. W. Non-Aryan Languages of India, 

Imperial Gazetteer. 


of India (New Edition). 

Haberlandt, Dr. M. 
Imperial Gazetteer 
Indian Antiquary. 
Journal of the Royal 
Liddei and Scott. — 
Kanakasabhai, V. — 
Keane, A. H. — 
Letourneau, C — 

Asiatic Society, London. 

Greek Lexicon. 

The Tamils 1800 years ago. 




Macleane, Dr. — 
Madras Christian 
Max Muller, F. — 
M'Crindie, J. W.— 
Nagamiah, V. — 
Nelson, J. H. — 
Nesfield, J. C— 
Oppert, Dr. G. — 

Pope, Dr. G. U.— 

Quatrefages, A. — 
Rangacharya, M. — 

Rhys Davids, Dr. — 
Rice, L. — 

Risley, Sir H. H.— 
Sayce, A. H. — 

Seignohos, Ch. — 
Seshagiri Sastri, M. 

Smith, Vincent A. — 
Stuart, Sir H. A.— 
Taylor, Meadows. — 
Thurston, E. — 

Tylor, E. B.— 
Vaidya, C. V.— 
Wallace, A. R.— 
Whitney, W. D.— 

Wijesinha, L. C. — 
Williams, Monier, 
Wilson, Prof. H. H. 

Manual of Administration. 

College Magazine, The 

The Science of Language. 

Ancient India &c. 

The Travancore State Manual. 

The Madura District Manual. 

Theory of Indian Castes. 

The Aboriginal Inhabitants of 

The Kural of Tiruvalluvar. 
The Tiruvachakam. 
The Human Species. 
A descriptive Catalogue of 

Tamil Manuscripts, Vol. I. 
The Buddhist India. 
The Mysore Gazetteer. 
Epigraphia Carnatica. 
The Peoples of India. 
Principles of Comparative 

History of Ancient Civilisation. 
Report on Sanskrit and Tamil 

Manuscripts, Nos. 1 and 2. 
Early History of India ; Asoka. 
Madras Census Report, 1891. 
History of India. 
The Tribes and Castes of 

Southern India. 
Primitive Culture. 
The Riddle of the Ramayana. 
The Malay Archipelago. 
The Life and Growth of 

The Mahawanso. 
Sanskrit Dictionary. 
Glossary of Indian Terras. 


It is with very great pleasure that I have, in 
compliance with the wish of the author, written this 
short introduction to this volume of really interesting 
essays on subjects relating to the history of the Tamil 
people and their culture and civilisation. The history 
of the famous inhabitants of the ancient Pandya, Chola 
and Chera kingdoms is in no way less edifymg or 
Jess valuable as a source of inspiration than the history 
of the inhabitants of any other part of India, which 
is throughout highly historic. The progress of Tamil 
civilisation from its primitive rude restlessness and 
wild aggressive valour to its ordered sense of huma- 
nity and exalted moral and religious aims of a later day 
is undoubtedly the result of the operation of various 
momentous influences, the chief ones among which 
have naturally been religious in origin and character. 
It is a fact well known to the students of the history 
of civilisation that, in some of its earlier stages of deve- 
lopment,nothing acts so powerfully as an advancingly 
ethical religion in stimulating and sustaining progress 
in human communities. Accordingly the virile 
vitality and undecaying vigour of the Tamil people, 
subjected to the mellowing influences of Buddhism, 
Jainism and earlier as well as later Brahmanisra 
gave rise in due time to their sweet, practical and 
in more than one respect heart-enthralling culture, of 
which the great Tamil classics, together with their 
noble Saiva and Vaishnava hymnology — not to 


mention their mighty and majestic God-aspiring 
temples — constitute even today the enduring monu- 
ments of beauty and glorious divine enthusiasm. To 
construct and to explain the history of such a people, 
characterised by such a noteworthy progress in civili- 
sation and possessed of such an enduringly valuable 
and edifying culture, must indeed be always fascinat- 
ing; and innumerable avenues of enquiry and research 
are certain to open out before the watchful eyes of the 
trained and sincerely earnest student trying to help on 
this work of historic up-buildingand exposition. Here 
in this field of research, criticism and construction, 
there is ample scope for ethnological, anthropological, 
and sociological investigations of more than one kind; 
there is abundant room for the work of antiquarian 
discovery and illumination in which all the various 
types of archaeologists may take part to their heart's 
content • and written records of various kmds are 
also available in quantities large enough to satisfy 
the hunger of many voracious enquirers after historic 
truth, or literary beauty or linguistic development. 
The field for cultivation is both wide and well 
endowed; but earnest and capable labourers are 
unhappily as yet too few. 

I have no doubt that these essays will act as an eye- 
opener to many inhabitants of the Tamil land who 
take a true and cultured pride in the history of their 
own country. I am far from saying that all the 
various opinions, which Mr. Srinivasa Aiyangar has 
expressed on so many topics in this volume, will be 


found to be absolutely faultless and acceptable to all. 
It is invariably the fate of opinions, relating to the 
elements of what may be called constructive history, 
to undergo more or less rapid modifications as more 
and more materials become available for examina- 
tion and subsequent structural utilisation and employ- 
ment. Moreover, in dealing with problems of cons- 
tructive history, there arise very often peculiar tempta- 
tions to base conclusions on insufficieni or inaccurate 
data as well as to adjust the scantily available evidence 
to preconceived conclusions. My reading of the 
essays, comprised in this volume of Tamil Studies, 
has led me to feel that their author has earnestly end- 
eavoured to avoid, as far as possible, all such pitfalls, 
and has calmly and courageously exercised his 
judgment in the free and clear light of unbiassed 
reason. That he has had adequate equipment for 
dealing with the various problems, which he has 
handled in his essays, comes out well enough from 
the essays themselves, seeing that they are so well 
calculated to stimulate thought and bring into exist- 
ence that curiosity which is the necessary precursor 
of all true love of scholarly investigation, enquiry and 
research. The way, in which he has sought and 
gathered his varied materials and endeavoured to 
put them together in the spirit of the architect and 
the interpreter, is assuredly worthy of imitation by 
many more students of the history of the Tamil 
people and their culture and civilisation. 




Preface ... ... ... ... vii 

Introduction ... ... ... xi 

Essay I. — The Tamil People. — Introduction — the 
name ' Dravida ' explained — its ethnological 
meaning — its social significance — Dravida and 
Cauda contrasted — Dr. Caldwell's use of the 
term Dravidian — linguistic sense — etymology 
ot the word ' Dravida' — the word Tamil ex- 
plained — the Tamil country — its ancient limits 
— the Tamils a mixture ot three races according 
to Tamil literature — Risley's theory examined — 
data lor determining racial varieties — (1) 
language — (2) anthropometry — (3) archaeology 
— and (4) literary traditions 1 

Essay II. — The Tamil People (continued). — The 
place of the Dravidians in the human family — 
different views of ethnologists — Kisley, Hasc- 
kel, Topinard and Keane — Caldwell's abori- 
gines- — theories concerning the Dravidian mi- 
gration— (1) the early Aryans — (2) the Lemu- 
rian theory — (a) evidence from ethnology — (b) 
from philology — (c) from geography — Dr. Hun- 
ter's theory — (4) the Mongolian or North- 
Eastern theory — Kanakasabhai's arguments 
examined — the Nagas — (3) conclusion... ... 17 

Essay III. — The Tamil People (continued). — (5)The 
North-Western origin — (a) evidence from 
philology — Mr. Bray's views about the Brah- 
uis — the Brahuis, the Todas and the 
Vellalas — (b) archaeological evidence — the 
Dravidians and Assyrians — the word Vellala 
explained — (c) literary evidence — probable 
date of migration — sea route improbable — 
commercial relation with the West — no early 
Tamil words lor the ship — the Aryan conquest 



of the South according to the Sanskrit epics — 
the theories of the neo-Timil School — the Rak- 
shasas and the Vanaras' — their social and 
religious customs — Summary ... ... ... 33 

Essay IV. — The Tamil Castes. — Tne Tamil speak- 
ing castes — the Brahmans and the non- 
Brahmans — the three types of pre-Aryans — 
the caste system introduced by the Aryans — 
but it was regional — the Vellalas not included — 
their occupations — the occupational castes — 
Tamil and Malayalam castes compared — how 
the modern castes sprung from the territorial 
tribes — the hill tribes — the Naga tribes — the 
Maravas and Eyinas — the Parayasand Idaiyas — 
the Pallas and Shanars — the fishing castes — the 
dissolving factors — the Kammalas — the caste 
svstem created disputes — the tribal quarters in 
ancient towns — origin of the Paraiyas — their 
former greatness — origin of the Kaikolas — the 
Tamils not good weavers— the Panans and 
other castes — origin of the Kammalas — the food 
of the Eyinas — origin of caste pollution ... 58 

Essay V. — The Tamil Castes. — 'continued). — The 
caste system bred discontent and quarrels — the 
right and left hand disputes — castes enumerat- 
ed — the caste privileges — Kammalas and Kaiko- 
las — traditional origin of the division — the social 
position ot the Kammalas and Kaikolas — 
and Pallis or Vanniyas — suggested origins — 
Prof. M. Rangacharya's theory examined — 
the distinction not found in Malabar — (1) poli- 
tical origin — (2) supported t5y social disputes — 
and (3) confirmed by religion — Summary ... 92 

Essay VI. — The Tamil Alphabet. — Its impor- 
tance — the ten heads under which Tamil 
letters are treated — the Vatteluttu and the 
Grantha- Tamil characters — the age of Vatte- 
luttu — date of the Tolkapyam — by whom the 
alphabet was introduced — the two opposite 



theories — views of Caldwell and Buhler exa- 
mined — arguments m support of £. Thomas's 
theory — not derived from Brahmi — Vatteluttu 
and Brahmi were in use simultaneously — why 
supplanted by Grantha-Tamil- — which was 
developed from the Pallava characters — how 
much of modern Tamil characters adapted 
from Vatteluttu — the shape of vowel-con- 
sonants described — why the modern Tamil 
characters are an^^ular in form — the number 
and order of letters — pronunciation — letters 
peculiar toTamil — accent and emphasis — origin 
of letters — interchange of letters of similar 
sounds — how to determine pure Tamil words — 
initial letters — final letters — and middle letters... 113 

Essay VII. — The Place of Tamil in Philology. 

Where spoken^ — the Tamil's knowledge of 
geography — principles of philology — changes 
in the growth of a language — Tamil an aggluti- 
native tongue — can never become inflectioKal — 
traditional origin — it is one of the Dravidian 
ianjiuages — Sanskrit and Tamil compared as 
regards their vocabulary — Tamil words in 
Sanskrit — orthography — Dr. Caldwell's views 
examined — word structure — word formation — 
coalescence in words or Sandlii — compound 
words or phrases — etymology — differences 
between Tamil and Sanskrit — prosody in the 
two languages — other peculiarities of Tamil — 
the Indo-Germanic affinity — the Dravidian 
influence on the Sanskrit dialects — affiliation of 
Tamil — the Dravidian and the Uralo-AItaic 
languages— causes for the difference — position 
in the linguistic system — early Tamil (voca- 
bulary, grammar, style and matter) — mediaeval 
Tamil — modern Tamil — needtor prose literature. 141 

Essay VIII. — Periods of Tamil Literature 

Tamil literature characteristic of race^ — insepa- 


rable from religion — the three classes of Tamil 
literature — music and the drama — the extent 
of polite literature — mostly translations — the 
ethical literature — no Tamil literature without 
the Aryan influence — history of literature wan- 
ting — absence of critical spirit among the 
Tamils — examination of Damodaram Pillai's 
classification — of Suryanarayana's — of Cald- 
well's cycles — of other western scholars — of 
M. Julien Vinson — proposed classification — (1) 
the pre-academic period — (2) the academic 
period — (3)the hymnal period — (4) translations 
trom Sanskrit — (5) the exegetical period — and 
(6) the modern period — the anti-Brahmanical 
School — prose literature ... ... ... 185 

Essay IX. — The Tamil Academies. — Introduction 
— references to Tamil academies — explanation 
of the terms Sangam and aval — the scope of 
the essay — the upper limit of the Sangam 
period — the first academy — described — Agasl- 
yar and his students — their works — the date of 
the academy discussed — the location of Dak- 
shana Madura — the second academy described 
— a continuation of the first — its date — the 
importance of the third academy — described 
— when established — and where — its members 
— (Thiruvalluvamalai, a forgery) — how and 
wtien broken up — religion of its members — 
the value of Nakkirar's account — later aca- 
demies — literature encouraged by Tamil 
kings — summary account of the acade- 
mies — refinement of the Tamil language — how 
poetical works passed — liberal presents to poets 
— the French academy and the sangams 
compared -.. ... ... ... ... 231 

Essay X. — TheTenTens. — Description of the work 
— the dates of the several books — of the Chera 
kings — difficult to get their dates — description 
of certain ancient [Tamil customs — the political 



condition ot the country — the style and lan- 
guage of the work. ... ... 264 

Essay XI The Vaishnava Saints Introduction 

— religion of the early Tamils — Brahmanization 
of the Tamils — growth of Brahmanism among 
the Tamils — the beginning of the Vaishnava 
sect — the Vaishnava saints — the Guruparampa- 
rai — the first Alvars or Saints — iheir dates — 
Tirumalisai Alvar — his age — Tiruppan Alvai 
and Tondaradippodi Alvar — Kulasekhara Al- 
var and bis date — Tirumangai Alvar — his date — 
Periyalvar and his date — Andal — Nammalvar, 
the last of the Vaishnava saints — the age of 
Nammalvar — conclusion ... ... ... 281 

Essay XII. — The Origin of Malayalam. — Introduc- 
tion — etymology of the terms Malayalam and 
M^dabar — people of Kerala were Tamils— the 
early Tamil poets of Kerala — which was a 
Tamil country — (1) geographical evidence— (2) 
from religious literature — the Nambis Or Nam- 
budris — and the Bhatta Brahmans — (3) ethno- 
logical evidence — (4) archaeological evidence 

— (5) literaryevidence — Kannassa Ramayanam 

Krishnappattu — Eluttacchan — Unnayi Variyar 
— (tt) linguistic evidence — (a) grammar — (b) 
vocabulary — formative causes — conclusion ... 340 

•Conclusion. — The Tamil people — the Tamil Brah- 
mans — the Tamil alphabet and language 

religion ot the Tamils — Tamil literature — Ex- 
hortation 377 

The Early Pandya kings ... 387 

Note on Agastya's Grammar ... 397 

Tlie Age ot Manikka Vachakar ... 401 

Note on the word Tiyan ... 411 

Index 419 


dix. I. 








Agap. — Agapporul of Iraiyanar. 
Agat. — Agattiyam. 
Akam. — Akananuru. 
Cher. — Cheraman Peruinal. 
Chin — Cintamani. 
D. A. — Dandi's Alankaram. 
Ep. Ind. — Epigraphia Indica. 
Ind. Ant. — Indian Antiquary. 
Ind. Rev. — Indian *' eview. 
J. R. A. S.— Journal of the Royal 
Asiatic Society, London. 
Kal. — Kalittogai or Kalladam. 
Kam. — Kamban's Ramayanam. 
Kap. — Kapilar. 
Kur. — Kural. 
Mani. — Manimekalai. 
Mut. — Muttanayanar Antadi. 
Nak. — Nakkirar. 
Nan. — Nannul. 
Ned. — Xedunalvadai. 
Nig. — Chudamani Nigandu. 
Pat. — Pattuppattu or Pattinappalai. 

P. T. — Periya Tirumozhi. 

Pey. — Peyalvar. 

Ping, — Pingalandai . 

Poi. — Poigai Alvar. 

P. A. — Porunararruppadai. 

Pur. — Purananuru. 

P. V. M. — Purapporul Venba- 

Sik. — Sikandiyar. 
Sil. — Silappaciikaram. 
S. F. P. or Sir. — Sirupanarrup- 

Siv. — Sivavakkiyar. 
S. I. I. — South Indian Inscrip- 
Tat. Sek.— Tatva Sekharam. 
T. T. — Tirugnana Sambaiidar's 
Tevaram, or Tiruttondar 
T. v.— Tiruvachakam. 
Tol. — Tolkappiyam. 
Vil.— Villiputtur Alvar. 



Who are Dravidians ? Whence and how did they 
come to South India? These are some of the outstanding 
problems in Indian ethnology. During the past fifty 
years various theories have been put forward from 
the point of view either of philology or anthro- 
pology or literature, and it cannot be said that the 
last word has been pronounced on the subject. It 
is not intended in these short papers to put forth 
any new hypothesis, but to bring together all the 
existing theories bearing on the subject, and to ex- 
amine them in the light of the evidence furnished by 
ancient Tamil literature and the labours of reputed 
scholars and savants. 

The word Dravida is widely used as a synonym 
for Tamil and at the outset it is desirable to explain 
its origin and meaning. According to Sanskrit pandits 
'Dravida' was the name of a particular tract of coun- 
try in Southern India ; and it is so defined in the 
Sabdakalpadruma on the authority of the Mahabha- 
rata. The country called 'Dravida' extended along 


the east coast of India from Tirupati (near Madras) 
to Cape Coraorin and for about sixty miles to the 
interior. The name is also loosely applied to the 
south of the Peninsula. 

Prof. Wilson and Sir Monier-Williams give 
three senses in which the word is used — (1) the 
country in which the Tamil language is spoken; (2) 
an inhabitant of the country; and (3) a class of Brah- 
manical tribe calledthe ' five Dravidas '. In accepting 
the first meaning western scholars and Indian pandits 
seem to agree. As regards the second, differences of 
opinion exist. Whether the name Dravida was 
applied to all the peoples living in that country 
or only to a particular caste or tribe remains to 
be settled. The Tamil-speaking non-Brahmans have 
always called themselves Tamilar but never Dravidas. 
And the Tamil Brahmans who called themselves 
the mahajanaiii or the * great men ' were, and even 
now are, known to the other Brahmans of India 
as Dravidas. Sankaracharya (A. D. 820), who was 
a great Sanskrit scholar and religious reformer, refers 
to Trignanasambanda, a Brahman Saivite Saint and 
Tamil poet, as Dravida Sisii (Dravida child). This 
use of the word obtains even to-day. A Tamil- 
speaking Brahman who has settled down in the 
Bombay Presidency is spoken of as a 'Dravid' and 
the word is affixed to the name of the person, e. g., 
Chintaman Dravidy Natesa Dravid. But the Tamil- 
speaking non-Brahmans are known by their caste 
titles — Mudaliyar, Pillai, and so on. Similarly, the 


Teliigus of the north call the Tamil Brahmans 
VDravidlu' Or 'Dravidas' while the Tamil non-Brah- 
mans are called Sudralu or Dakshanadi-Sudralu. These 
clearly show that in practice the ethnological: appli- 
cation of the name Dravida was restricted and limited 
to a particular class, namely, the Tamil-speakin« 

The significance of the word Dravida in the 
expression, Pancha Dravida has now to be explained. 
At a very early period in the history of the Indo- 
Aryan people, the Tamil-speaking Brahmans had 
developed a system of social and religious customs 
and practices which became a marked feature of 
that community.^ They had 3 separate ritualistic 
system ; their social code was different from that of 
the northern Brahmans ; ^ and their laws also were 

1. Baudhayana, Dramidachar and other early commentators 
on the Brahmasutras, some Aryan reformers and law-givers he. 
longed to the Dravida Brahman community. 

2. The religious ceremonies of the five Dravida Brahmans are 
more numerous and elaborate. Omission to perform any of them 
entails degradation or even excommunication. A Dravida Brahman 
cannot eat fish or meat, and cannot accept food or water from 
the hands of a non-Brahman without losing his caste. A married 
woman cannot wear white cloth, and when tying it she must pass 
it between her legs. A widow should remove not only her 
ornaments but also her hair, a custom prevalent in the Tamil 
country at least from the second or third century A. D. as will be 
seen from the following lines of Kalladanar : — 

OjuSinrsi s®d(giJ)u:)Qm(oBr 

[Trans : — Observed the cutting of the fair, soft, black-sand-like 
hair of the bright-faced women to enforce their widowhood.) 


different. These were generally known as Dravi- 
dasampradaya. So far as these habits of life, customs,, 
practices and rituals tended to higher spirituality, they 
were adopted by the other Brahman communities 
of the peninsula— the Andhras, the Karnatakas, the 
Maharashtras and the Gurjaras. This accounts for 
peoples speaking Sanskritic dialects like Marathi and' 
Gujarathi and people speaking non-Sanskritic dialect 
like Tamil, Telugu and Kanarese being grouped to- 
gether as Pancha Dravidas or the five Dravidas. 

The Dravidas proper were the Tamil-speaking 
Brahmans. The use of the name for other Brahman 
communities is an instance of extension of its mean- 
ing and application. The term was extended to all 
Brahmans observing the Dvaviddchdrains, or Dravi- 

In North India the Brahmans, who did not 

On the contrary in these matters the Gauda or northern 
Brahmans are more lax. The Dravida Brahmans n,re generally 
very conservative and the strictness in the observance of the above 
customs is attributed to tfieir natural desire to maintain the purity 
of their Aryan blood. 

Among the Dravida Brahmans, the Nambudris ot Malabar 
form an exception. They seem to have retained some of the 
original trans- Vindhyan or Gauda customs and resisted the healthy 
reforms of Sankara, Ramanuja and Ananda Tirtha. Their en- 
forced polygamy, their free intercourse with the non-Aryans » 
and a few of their nnacharas or unaryan customs raise some 
doubl as to the pur-ty of their Aryan descent, a doubt which 
occurred to our minds in spite of the somewhat rigorous social 
customs obtaining among them to-day and their fair complexion, 
which are no doubt due to climatic conditions and their ways 
of living. 



accept these more rigid social rules and practices 
developed by the Dravida Brahmans of South India, 
came to be distinguished as Pancha Gaiidas. From 
the fact that the Malayalam-speaking Brahmans, 
the Nambudris, are not mentioned in this classifica- 
tion, it may be inferred that the division of Brahmans 
into Pancha Dravidas and Pancha Gaudas had taken 
place long before the evolution of the Malayalam 
language in the thirteenth century. 

From what has been said above it would be clear 
that the term Dravida had no ethnological signifi- 
cance at first, but this it acquired later on. The 
definition of the word * Dravida ' quoted by Dr. Cal- 
dwell from Sanskrit lexicons * as a man of out-cast 
tribe descended from a degraded Kshatriya ' is open 
to question. The genesis of the Dravida castes 
and tribes given here and that given by Manu cannot 
be accepted as literally true. It is one of those 
fictions, familar to Indian sociologists dealing with 
the question of the origin of caste by which the 
Brahmans got over the troubles and conflicts between 
themselves and the numerically stronger and socially 
more influential sections of the non-Brahmanical tribes 
on whom they imposed their culture and civilization 

To Dr. Caldwell is due a further extension of the 
meaning of the term Dravida. When the comparative 
study of the South Indian languages was first started by 
him, the glossarial and grammatical affinities between 
them were so marked as to lead him to the conclusion 
.that they were allied languages of the non-Aryan 


group. He called these languages of South India 
Dravidian and the people speaking them Dravidians. 
His extension of the word as a generic term for the 
South Indian group of languages is convenient and 
has been accepted. Linguistic evidence alone, however^ 
cannot be sufficient, and by itself is unreliable to 
establish any theory about the origins of castes or the 
ethnic affinity of peoples. Thus the application of the 
name Dravidian or Dravida to all tribes, Brahman as 
well as non-Brahman, inhabiting the extreme south 
of the Peninsula is unwarranted, inaccurate and mis- 

Tlie derivation of the word Dravida is doubtful. 
It is purely of Sanskrit origin and may be a com- 
pound of two roots dra, to run, and vid, a piece (of 
land). It might mean a place to which one runs as 
a place of retreat, the extreme south of the peninsula 
being the last place to which any race could betake 
itself when driven by a stronger race from the north 
of India. This is only a plausible suggestion. Sanskrit 
pandits, however, think Dravida is a corruption or 
Sanskritised form of Tamil. But whether this bold 
derivation could be supported by any linguistic pro- 
cesses known to philology seems doubtful. 

The origin of the word Tamil is not very clear,, 
and native grammarians are silent on this points 
Agreeing with certain Tamil and Sanskrit pandits. Dr. 
Caldwell derives it from Sanskrit Dravida. Mr. Da- 
modaram Pillai> however, questions the correctness 
of this etymology and asks — Is it possible for a 


language to have no native name until one was given 
to it by Aryans, especially when it was the mother 
tongue of a tolerably civilised race which had a fairly 
cultivated literature and which had commercial rela- 
tionship with the ancient nations of the West ? He 
derives Tamil from the root Tami i^i^) lonely, and 
believes that Tamil means the ' peerless ' language. 
In the Pingalandni it is explained thus : — 

(Tamil means sweetness and mercy). 

We find tantil used only once in the sense of 
'sweetness' in Tamil literature, and that was by the 
author of Chintamani (about A. D. 950) ; but we do 
not see it used in this sense in the earlier Tamil works. 
Ot course the expressions ^i^tdltp (the sweet-), QsrrQ^ii 
^L^i^ (the fat-), Q^^mp^i^^ (the honeyed-) and ^esm 
i_uJ75f. (the cool-Tamil) very often occur; but the 
word Tamil is not by itself used in this sense except 
in the solitary instance above noted. However, fol- 
lowing the Pingalaudai, the author of the Dravida 
Prakasika and a few other Indian scholars explain 
Tamil as meaning the sweet language. This conno- 
tation ot sweetness seems to have long lingered among 
Tamil writers, for the royal author of Naishadam 
speaks of his heroine as one the sweetness of whose 
speech was sweeter than Tamil, ^uSl^^ uSeafliu^(^ 
QisFnpoapiueon&r. Mr. Kanakasabhai thinks it to be an 
abbreviated form of Tamra-litti, but this etymology 
seems to be rather fanciful. It may not perhaps be 
rash to suggest here what appears to be a reasonable 


derivation. The word Tamil may be taken as a com- 
pound of ta)n + izh ; tain is a reflexive pronoun which 
has given rise to a very interesting class of words 
like tain-appan (father), tay or tam-ay (mother), iam- 
aiyaii (elder brother), tani.kai (younger sister), tani- 
akkai (elder sister), iajn-pi (//), iam-piran &c. ; izJi 
(which is the root of Izhm or Izhum, Izhudu-&c.) 
means sweetness. Hence Tamizh or Tamil is " that 
which is sweet " or the sweet language. 

It may be observed that this word is used in early 
Tamil w'orks to denote the language, the people and 
their country. 

That part of the Indian peninsula which the 
Indo-Aryans called the Dravida was known to ancient 
Tamils as the Tamil-akain or the ' abode of the 
Tamils'. The extent of this Tamil-akam was not, 
however, alwa3's the same. Tolkapyar, a Tamil gram- 
marian, probably of the fourth century B. C, Ilango- 
adigal, the royal ascetic and reputed author of Silap- 
padikaram, and Sikandiyar, a pupil of Agastyar and 
the author of a treatise on music, roughly fix the 
boundaries of the Tamil country, as may be seen 
from the following quotations : — 

(1) suL— Qeuihai—k Q^skc^LXufl ujnuSss>i—^ 
^iA)i^ <9S-^ tBsO^ eosij). — Tol. 

(The good world of the Tamils which lies 
between the northern Venkatam and the southern 

(2) QiBis^QtuiT(oisr (^m pQfi Q^nt^Qojn&r QueireuQfiii 


(The cool country ot the Tamils bounded by 
Vishnu's hill and the bangled lady's sea— Kumari). 

(3) (cQjias!—iii (^LDtf! ^LDL^esr jb QusfreuQinesT 

i^ismGS)^ Qseo'ieo ^lSIl^^ qji^sCcS. — Stk. 

(Tamil prevails within the four limits ot Ven- 
katam, Kumari and the seas.) 

The Tamil-akam or the land of the Tamils thus 
seems to have extended east and west from sea to sea, 
^nd north and south from the Tirupati hills to Cape 
Comorin, and to have also included the modern 
states of Travancore and Cochin and the British 
district of Malabar. 

The Tamils in the west coast who were cut off 
from the main body and who were much under the 
control of the Brahman hierarchy, developed a dialect 
of their own, a patois of Kodum-Tamil and Prakritic 
Sanskrit, which has been known as Malayalam since 
the beginning of the thirteenth century. And this 
isolation accounts also for some of the ancient 
customs and manners of the Tamils bemg better pre- 
served to this day m the west coast than in the 
eastern districts. 

The loss of this western strip from the Tamil- 
akam was, however, soon made up ; for, new districts 
were added to it by the colonisation by the Tamils of 
the northern portion of Ceylon, beginning from the 
time of Parantaka Chola lA. D. 907-946) or even 
•from an earlier date. They may be found also in 
Burma, Sumatra, Java and wherever they could lind 
food and labour. 


All the Tamil speaking inhabitants of the 
southern districts do not belong to one and the same 
race. Any layman can easily distinguish the Dravi- 
dian Tamils from the Aryan Brahmans. The physical 
characteristics of the hill and forest tribes, such as the 
Kadars, the Soiigas and the Kurumbas differ from 
those of the Vellalas and the Todas. Dr. A. H. Keane 
and other ethnologists recognise at least three distinct 
races in the population of Southern India. This 
hypothesis seems to receive some countenance and 
support from ancient Tamil literature and tradi- 
tions. The well-known classification of rational 
beings {^ujit^^ssst) by the Tamil grammarians into 
inakkal (^mss^), devar (Q^qjit) and narakar {(bctsit) or 
7 1 a' gar (iB IT sit) points to the existence of three types of 
people in the Tamil land, namely, the Dravidian 
Tamils (Makkal), the Aryan-Brahmans (Devar) and 
the aboriginal tribes (Na'gar). 'Na'ga' is a word loosely 
applied to all the aborigines who used to inhabit the 
forests, the low regions and other unknown realms 
(Narakam). Even so late as the eleventh century when 
the process of the capture and absorption of the 
aboriginal peoples by the superior Dravidians was 
going on, the more powerful of the Na'ga tribes seem 
to have struggled hard to maintain their sturdy inde- 
pendence and to preserve their racial integrity." For 
1. With this compare the remarks of the Madras Government 
Epigraphist ; '' The mythical account of the Epic hero Arjuna 
marryinj; a Nag:t queen and similar stories current about the early 
Chola kings in Tamil liteiature, combined with what is stated of 
the Naga connections with the first Pallava kingt; . . . contirrti 


we find in the early Tamil works that the Nagas are 
described as a race of dark people with curly matted 
hair. The ancient Tamils were acquainted also with 
a tribe of naked nomads (jBsas^irn&mn)^ probably a sec- 
tion of the Nagas living in an eastern Island. They 
were cannibals and spoke an unknown language. 

(1) eua(Siu&iLiLpi^ SmssBQ^LDQuQarTsa^Q&oa®. — P. A. 
(With your starving, dark and large relations) 

(2) eij&S(ifi<5srL3<osr<s>J60 Q&)mpiu!TS<ss)SLj u^eSQiBirsQ p 

jfjppuo urriT^^ev (^fEJs(SiEj ssmLDp(Si}iT. — Kal. 
(The cruel-eyed, curly-haired and able-bodied 
Maravas (robbers) with tiger-look and banded bows 
waiting on the roads to harass the travellers). 
i^i) QonmrSQeup Sleir&fld(g iBiTsiBiri—ireir Qsutrdsr 
pair LDSofT iSs^eu^efi^iresrunjih^ 
L\ejsB pfSlefriB(^LfieSL — Maili. 
(The tender infant which Pilivalai, the daughter of 
the ruler of Naganadu, bore for Killi (Chola) who 
wields the victorious lance). 

From the first quotation we learn that the Panans 
— the ancestors, or rather, a sub-caste of the modern 
Paraiyas — were an aboriginal tribe of dark men ; from 
the second that the Maravas — not the present caste 
of that name — w'ere a tribe of hunters and robbers 
with tiger-look and curly matted hair ; while the third 

the accepted belief that the Nagas were the original indigenous 
rulers of Southern India and that they were subdued in course of 
time by the powerful kings from the north, eventually losing their 
individuality by intermarriages with the foreigners''. Report dated 
28-7-1911. 1 


points to the fusion of the Tamils with the aboriginal 
tribe of Nagas even so early as the first or second 
•century of the Christian era. It might also be learnt 
from Pattuppattu or the Ten Tamil Idylls and the 
Mahabalipuram inscriptions of Rajendra Chola (A. D. 
1012-1044) that there were among the Nagas at least 
four sub-divisions, viz., Oli-Nagan, Mugali-Nagan, 
:Sanka-Nagan and Nila-Nagan. The Paraiyas, who 
•constitute nearly a seventh of the Tamil population 
and who will be shewn hereafter to be the descendants 
of the ancient Eyina tribe dislike to call themselves 
Tamils, thus suggesting that they belong to a different 
race altogether. Further, the various modes of dispo- 
sing of the dead prevalent among the Tamils of anci- 
ent times, namely, cremation, interment and exposure, 
could not have been practised at the same time 
by one and the same race. These facts clearly go to 
prove that there were in the Tamil country at least 
three distinct races namely, the aborigines (whatever 
may be their names), the Dravidian Tamils and the 
Aryan immigrants. Though there was a free inter- 
mixture of the aborigines and the Dravidian Tamils 
and though some isolated instances of the fusion of 
the second and third are noticeable, the existence of 
three different types is clear. 

Sir Herbert Risley, however, considers that 
all the South Indians are Dravidians — a dark-com- 
plexioned, short-statured people with long head, 
broad and thick-set nose and long fore-arm. Doubtless 
this description applies to some of the hill and 


forest tribes and some low caste Hindus, but it 
cannot apply to the population of Southern India as 
a whole. It will be admitted that three types of 
physical character are observable in the Tamil 
districts corresponding to the three different races 
already noticed. First, there are the Aryans with a 
somewhat fair complexion, tall stature, aquiline nose,. 
small lips, smooth and flowing hair. Secondly, the 
pure Dravidian like the Todas of the Nilgiris, tall, 
brown complexioned, with thick prominent nose,^ 
hairy body, well-proportioned limbs, receding fore- 
head and of Jewish appearance. And thirdly, we have 
the aborigines like the Kadars, with African face, 
flatfish and broad nose, thick lips and dark com- 
plexioned; and the pot-bellied Kurumbas with wild 
matted hair, large mouth, prominent outstanding 
teeth, thick lips and prognathous. Although there 
must have been intercrossing and shuffling of races 
from a time long anterior to the Christian era, it is 
extremely doubtful whether any tribe of the pure 
Mongolian race had at any time found its way into 
the Tamil country, as Mr. Kanakasabhai seems 
to think. 

The only data available for determining the 
racial varieties are, (a) Language, (b) Anthropometry, 
(c) Prehistoric arch;^eology and (d) Traditions and 
customs. None of these, however, can independently 
prove the racial type oneway or the other. 

(a) No comparative philologist will now admit 
that language is a safe test of race. Languages have 


their rise, growth and decay, and languages once well 
known are entirely forgotten, foreign languages 
taking their place as though they were native. Thus 
Keltic IS extinct in Cornwall ; Sclavonic has disap- 
peared in Prussia ; Accadian, the home speech of 
a highly civilised Turanian race in Asia Minor, was 
completely rooted out by the conquering Semites. 
Coming to our own country, we find the Brahman 
settlers in the Tamil land speak only a Dravidian 
language forgetting their Sanskrit dialects. The entire 
native population of the Tamil-akam — aborigmes, 
Dravidians as well as Aryans — speak either Tamil or 
an allied language of the Dravidian family. No suc- 
cessful attempt has yet been made to analyse the 
Tamil language and to write its history in a purely 
philological spirit. Dr. Caldwell was the first to trace 
some distant affinity of Tamil with the Uralo- Altaic 
languages. Some philologists, however, seem to think 
that he was not quite successful in the attempt. We 
shall discuss this question more fully in its proper place. 
(b) Anthropologists place rather too much confi- 
dence m the absolute certainty of the nasal and 
cephalic indices, of hair and colour as permanent 
tests of racial distinction. Sir Herbert Risley, Sir 
William Turner and Dr. Topinard rely on the 
constancy of cranial measurements, assuming the 
form of the head as a persistent character that is 
not liable to be modified by the action of artificial 
selection. These scientists, however, do not agree 
among themselves in certain important respects. 


Professors Flower, Lydekker and Huxley classify 
mankind according to the smoothness or roughness 
of the hair, while others like Quatrefages add to 
these colour, odour &c. Nevertheless, the value of 
all these data is being seriously doubted by equally 
eminent scientists. Professor Cox has brought to- 
gether all their objections forcibly in a very interesting 
articlethat appeared in the Modern Revieiv {Calcuita) 
for 1911. He says 'the cephalic index separates races 
closely allied and is almost identical for races widely 
apart/ ' In almost every nation we find almost every 
cephalic index.' As for the nasal index, M. Colignon 
after elaborate researches thinks it of minor impor- 
tance. Professor Sergi of Rome says 'the method of 
indices is a method only in appearance and it inevita- 
bly leads to errors and can produce no satisfactory 
results.' Professor Ridgeway thinks ' these osteologi- 
cal differences are but foundations of sand.' And 
above all a writer in the Miienschener Medizinische 
(quoted by Mr. G. A. Gait, I.C.S.,) asserts that the 
numerous head measurements collected with endless 
assiduity by anthropologists have been shown to be 
worthless. Thus we see that neither the cephalic 
nor the nasal index is of much value in determining 
race. The same may be said of hair and colour, as 
these can be changed in course of time by climate, 
food and other artificial means and methods. It 
would therefore be unwise on the part of anthropolo- 
gists to think they could correctly interpret these 
physical differences as indications of inferioritv or 


otherwise of a race, especially in a country like 
India, where there has been for ages past an inter- 
mingling of diverse races — autochthonous, Turanian, 
Semitic or Aryan. 

(c) The evidence of pre-historic arch^eology con- 
sists of weapons, implements, and human bones 
which are found buried in the earth, and the megali- 
thic monuments like the dolmen, cromlech {and the 
kistvaens. Such remains abovuid in Tamil districts. 
But in India the science of archaeology has not yet 
advanced, and no excavations on a large scale have 
till now been undertaken. The finds hitherto brought 
to light are therefore very limited and do not afford 
data for any reliable inference concerning ethnic 

(d) The fourth source from which we may 
derive some help for determining racial varieties 
consists of traditions and ancient customs described 
in early Tamil works. Some of them may have been 
distorted, exaggerated or even wrongly stated. The 
Ramayana and the Mahabharata in Sanskrit, the 
Tolkapyam, the Purananuru, the Pattuppattu, the 
Kalittogai and other works in Tamil furnish plenty of 
evidence. But all these will have to be sifted and 
considered in the light of other evidences. And this 
will be attempted in the next chapter. 


THE TAMIL PEOPLE— (continued). 

The original home of the Dravidians and their 
place in the human family are still subjects of discus- 
sion. The various views that have been held by 
anthropologists in this connection will be passed 
in review. 

' The Dravidian race,' says Dr. Grierson, ' is 
commonly considered to be the aborigines of India 
or at least of Southern India, and we have no 
information to show that they are not the aboriginal 
inhabitants of the South.' Sir Herbert Risley says, 
* Taking them as we find them now it may safely be 
said that their present geographical distribution^ 
the marked uniformity of physical characters among 
the more primitive members of the group, their 
animistic religion, their distinctive languages, their 
stone monuments and retention of a primitive 
system of totemism justify us in regarding them as the 
earliest inhabitants of India of whom we have any 

It will be seen from the above extracts that Dr. 


Grierson and Sir H. Risley do not take the ques- 
tion deeper than saying that the Dravidians are the 
aboriginal inhabitants of Southern India. The former 
as a linguist says that the question of the origin and 
migration of the Dravidian race cannot be solved by 
the philologist ; and the latter as a leading Indian 
ethnologist tries to 6nd out some connection between 
the Dravidians and tlie Australians; but he is opposed 
in his conclusion by Sir W. Turner, who has found 
no cranial connection between the two races. After 
criticising the other theories concerning the origin 
and dispersion of the Dravidians, Sir H. Risley comes 
back to the same ground on which his colleague stood. 
According to H deckel, the Dravidians, the Cauca- 
sians, the Basques and the Indo-Germanic races re- 
semble one another in several characteristics, especially 
in the strong development of the head, which sug- 
gests a close relationship between them. Professor 
Huxley includes ihem in the smooth-haired division 
with the North Africans and South Europeans, as- 
suming Australia as the land of their origin. While 
agreeing with them generally Professors Flower and 
Lydekker put the Dravidians in the white division of 
man and observe that in Southern India they are 
largely mixed with a Negrito element. 

This last point is supported by Dr. Topinard who 
says that the remnants of the black people are at the 
present day shut up in the mountains and that the 
ancient inhabitants of the Deccan were identical with 
the Australians, who probably come from a cross 


between a ieiotrichi race from outside and a Negrito 
autocthonous race. 

Lastly, Dr. Keane thinks that he is able to prove 
that the Dravidians preceded the Aryan-speaking 
Hindus and that they are not the true aborigines of 
the Deccan, they being themselves preceded by dark 
peoples probably of an aberrant Negrito type. 

The question now is ' who are the aborigines ? ' 
The tirst Scholar who discussed this problem from the 
stand point of philology was Dr Caldwell; and he 
arrived at the conclusion that even the lowest castes 
including the Paraiy;is are Dravidians and that they 
were reduced by conquest to tlie condition of serfs 
and jungle tribes. He held also that the Dravidians 
entered India from the North-West. These two hy- 
potheses of Dr.Caldweli's seem to conflict each other, 
as it is extremely improbable that a very large body 
of the so called Dravidians consisting of the dark 
complexioned Paraiyas, Pallis, Kallas and the several 
hill and forest tribes could have come from north- 
western Asia, which has been peopled by the fair 
complexioned Semitic tribes. There is no philological 
evidence to show who the aborigines v.'ere. Dr. Cald- 
well does not tell us that there were no people m 
Southern India before the advent of the Dravidians. 
If there were no people, the Dravidians should be 
regarded as the aborigines ; otherwise they are not. 
He leaves all this an open question. It was, however 
taken up by ethnologists.amongst whom Drs. Haddon 
and Keane are decidedly of opinion that the 


Dravidians are not the aborigines, but that they were 
preceded by a Negrito race akin to the people of the- 
Malay Peninsula and the Australians, the remnants 
of whom may be found among the jungle and 
mountain tribes of Southern India. And this is the 
view accepted by scholars intimately acquainted with 
the South Indian people, notably by Mr.R. Sewell, who 
says that ' at some very remote period the aborigines 
of Southern India were overcome by hordes of 
Dravidian invaders and driven to the mountains and 
desert tracts where their descendants are to be found.' 
If the Dravidians are not the aborigines, then 
what was their original home and by what route did 
they come into Southern India ? According to 
one theory, they were the earliest or the first Aryan 
settlers. Another theory places their home some- 
where in the ** submerged Continent" in the Indian 
Ocean whence they are supposed to have migrated 
northward to India. According to some, their 
original home was somewhere in Central Asia and 
they entered India (a) by the north-east through 
Assam and Burma, or (b) by both the north-eastern 
and north-western gales. Yet another makes them 
immigrants from Western-Asia either by (a) the north- 
western mountain passes, or direct by (b) the sea 
route. Each of these may be considered at some 

The Eaply Aryan Theory : Like the Celts 
and Cymri in Ireland, the Tamils were supposed by 
some to be the representatives of the earliest band of 


the Aryan immigrants in India. So far as we are 
aware this theory was never seriously advanced or 
advocated by any ethnologist. Dr. Caldwell traces 
some affinity between Tamil and the Indo-European 
languages, even though their grammar and vocabulary 
are radically different. Further it was believed for a 
long time that the megalithic tombs found in some 
parts of India and England belonged to the ancient 
Gauls or Celts, which had led to a mistaken idea that 
the original inhabitants of India, to whom these 
monuments (dolmens) were attributed, were Aryans 
akin to the Celts of Europe, But the fact remains that 
the Tamils themselves called the Aryans Mtechchas or 
foreigners ((i?(?6\)i^^j/r//?aj/f. Ping, 797) in spite of any 
social, linguistic and other influences each might have 
received from the other. 

The Lemurian op Selater's Theory : 
Accordmg to this theoiy.the original home of the 
Dravidians was the now submerged continent of 
Lemuria, which was somewhere in the Indian Ocean 
before the formation of the Himalaya Mountains. 
This continent is supposed to have extended from 
Madagascar in the west to the Malay Archipelago in 
the east, connecting Southern India with Africa on 
the one side and Australia on the other. If so, the 
Dravidians must have entered India from the south 
long before the submergence of this continent. In 
support of this theory the following arguments have 
been adduced: — 

Ethnology : The system of totems prevailing 


among the half-civilized castes and tribes of India, 
and the use of the bomerang bv the Kalians of 
South India are found nowhere except among 
certain Australian tribes; Dr. R. Wallace's description 
of tree climbing by the Dyaks of Borneo applies 
equally \ve!l to the Kadars of the Anamalai hills ; 
and the chipping of all or some of the incisor teeth 
by the Kadars and Mala-Vedans may be found 
among the Jakuns of the Malay Peninsula. 

Philology : Linguistic afSnities, especially some 
doubtful resemblance between the numerals in Mun- 
dari and in certain Australian dialects have been 
noticed by Bishop Caldwell and Sir H. Risley. But 
it may be pointed out that the Munda language is 
quite independent of the Dravidian tongue and it 
mav be doubted whether the poor similarity in respect 
of the numerals alone will be enough tC) establish the 
theory under discussion. 

Geography : The argument under this head has 
already been stated and more will be said about it 
further on. However, it may not be out of place 
to mention here in support of it a tradition which had 
currency among the early Tamils and has been pre- 
served in their literature. That is, — 

(^ riflsQsrrQfsi 0srT(SrEJ^L^6\) Qaam&r. — Sil. 

(The cruel sea swallowed up the P.ihruli river 
and the Kumari peak with the chain of mountains). 

And the commentary of Adiyarkunallar on the 
above lines runs thus : {^) ^ssneoi^ ^eufr miL®^ 


Qpisbr Ui7'2e\) iBir^iMSji^ iSleir ut^so isrT®iM S7tp (^sisrp istrQiii (5ji^ 
(g,vsarsfT<5S)J iBfT®!}) <s]i^ (^^iiMu'^esT [btQu) sKok^iLD @/5^ isrrpu^ 
Q^ni,bru^ ihfi(Slih (^LDtFloia,iTs\)s\).Jj (tppsSlm ussr LD'2e\) iBrrQiii strQih 
'B^iLjih u^iLjti) <suSiT<s(^uD!fl (oUL-Q LJ(ir)rEjQ an LLisf.€sr srrpiLo slSo 
QanmsrQi—rriSl^oOfrp (^LDrfliutrQuj QuofrojQLDvSTQr/'Qfri^a — S//, 
198. Cape Comorin is spoken of in early Tamil 
literature as a river, a mountain and even as a sea. 
And the ancient Tamils, who weie acquainted with 
the Island of Java and generally with tiie Eastern 
Archipelago, appear to have had some vague notions 
about the existence in the remoter past of a vast 
country in continuation of Cape Comorin. But, the 
geography of this submerged continent as given in 
the above excerpt looks very suspicious. And their 
tradition about the change of capital of the Pandya 
country from South Madura to North Madura (the mo- 
dern Madura) seems to indicate the Tamilian's theory 
of an early migration of some race from the South. 

Hunter's Theory : In his account of the 
non-Aryan races Dr. W.W. Hunter thinks ' there are 
two branches of the Dravidians — the Kolarians and 
the Dravidians proper. The former entered India by 
the north-east and occupied the northern portion of 
the Vindhya table land. There they were conquered 
and split into fragments by the main body of Dravi- 
dians who found their way into the Punjab through 
the north-western passes and pressed forward towards 


the south of India'. Yet in another place the same 
scholar writes as follows : * It would appear that 
long before the Aryan invasions, a people speaking 
a very primitive Central Asian language, had entered 
by the Sind passes. These were the Dravidas or the 
Dravidians of later times. Other non-Aryan races 
from the north pushed them onwards to the present 
Dravidian country in the south of the peninsula... 
The extrusion of the Dravidians from northern 
India had taken place before the arrival of the 
Aryan-speaking races. The Dravidians are to be 
distinguished from the later non-Aryan immigrants, 
whom the Vedic tribes found in possession of the 
valleys of the Indus and Ganges. These later non- 
Aryans were in their turn subjugated or pushed 
out by the Aryan new comers; and they accor- 
dingly appear in the Vedic hymns as the 'enemies' 
(Dasyus) and 'serfs' (Sudras) of the Indo-Aryan 
settlers. The Dravidian non-Aryans of the south, on 
the other hand, appear from the first in the Sanskrit 
as friendly forest folk, the monkey armies who helped 
the Aryan hero Kama on his march through 
Southern India against the demon king of Cevlon.' 

As Sir H. Risley has remarked, the basis of this 
theory is obscure ; and neither philology nor ethnology 
supports it. It will be shown in the sequel that the 
Dravidians were not driven from Northern India bv 
later non-Aryan immigrants and that they were not 
the monkey armies who helped the Aryan hero Rama. 

The Mongolian Theory : According to 


this theory the Dravidians had hved somewhere on the 
plateau of Central Asia along with the Mongolians 
before they entered India by the North-eastern passes 
from Tibet or Nepal, or by the way of Assam and the 
Tennaserim provinces. This theory has been very 
strongly supported by Mr. Kanakasabhai in his Tamils 
Eighteen Hundred years ago. According lo him the 
aboriginal inhabitants of Southern India were the 
Villavas and Minavas. They were conquered by a 
highly civilised race called the Nagas who hailed 
from Central Asia. They were very good weavers 
and from them the Aryans learnt their alphabet which 
thencefortli was known as Deva-Nagari. He is of 
opinion that the Maravas, Eyinas, Oliyas, Oviyas, 
Aruvalas and the Paratavas mentioned in the Tamil 
works of the academic period belonged to the above 
Naga race, and that they had always been hostile to 
the Dravidian Tamils. Subsequently, these Nagas 
were in their turn conquered by a Mongolian race 
called the Tamralitti.s or the Tamils who had 
migrated from the Tibetan plateau. They came to 
the south of India along the east coast in four bands 
the earliest of whom he considers to be the Marar 
who founded the Pandya kitigdom. The second 
were the Thirayar tribe of the Cholas and the third 
the Vanavar, a mountainous tribe from Bengal, who 
were the ancestors of the Chera kings ; and the 
fourth and last, the Kosar tribe of the Kongu country, 
In this way he accounts for the origin of the four 
ancient Tamil kingdoms. 


Further on, the same writer observes as follows: — 
'As the Tamil immigrants came into Southern India 
at distant intervals of time and in separate tribes and 
were fewer in number than the aboriginal Nagas and 
DravidianS; they had to adopt the ancient Dravidian 
language and in course of time they modified and 
refined it into the language now known as Tamil. 
The peculiar letter zli (i-g) which does not exist in 
the other Dravidian languages was doubtless brought 
in by the Tamil immigrants. This letter occurs in the 
Tibetan languages. It indicates most clearly that the 
primitive home of the Tamil immigrants must have 
been in the Tibetan plateau'. And in support of his 
theory that all the Tamils are of Mongolian origin he 
goes on to say that the existence of very many words 
in gn (a), jn (gj) atjd n (soar) in Tamil, Burmese 
and Chinese, and tlie siinilarity between Malayalam 
and the Mongolian languages, clearly confirm the 
North-eastern or the Mongolian origin of the Tamil 

In attributing a Mongolian origin to the Tamils 
Mr. Kanakasabhai relies partly on literary evidence 
and partly on the similarity of sound in certain words. 
He seems to misinterpret some passages in Tamil 
works and distorts current traditions so as to support 
his preconceived theories ; and it would be fallacious 
and unwarrantable to draw any inference from words 
like Tamra-litti and Tamil, Mranmar and Maran, 
Koshan or Kushan and Kosar &c., which are similar 
only in sound. He has entirely ignored the testimony 


of archaeology, philology and anthropology. It is 
necessary to examine his statements more fully. 

He says the Villavas and the Minavas were the 
aborigines of Southern India, citing the Bhils and the 
Minas of Central India in support of his assertion. 
Villav^an is a bowman and Minavan is a fisher-man 
and these are some of the titles applied honorifically 
to the Chera and Pandya kings. There is no caste or 
tribe bearing either name in the Tamil districts. 
Further, the Bhils and the Minas do not speik a 
Dravidian language. How they were ethnically 
related to the Tamils and to what race they had 
belonged he quie'ily passes over. 

Again, he says that the Nag'is were a highly 
civilised aboriginal race from whom the Aryans 
learnt their Sanskrit alphabet. Before entering upon 
any criticism of these statements we shall enquire 
who these Nagas were. There were Nagas in 
Northern India as well as in Southern India, About 
the former Capt. Forbes writes as follows in his 
Languages of Further India: — 'It is now acknow- 
ledged that prior to the irruption of the Aryans 
into India from the west across the Indus, the 
valley of the Ganges was occupied by various races 
of Turanian origin. The Arvans came in contact 
with two races : one of fierce black degraded savage 
tribes whom they called Asuras, Rakshasas, &c. ; the 
other a people who lived in cities and possessed 
wealth, and whose women were fair, whom they 
termed the Nagas or serpent worshippers, and who 


doubtless belonged to the great Takshak or ' Serpent 
race ' of Scythia. Under the continued pressure of 
the advancing Aryan invaders, these Turanian tribes 
were driven back carrying before them in their turn 
the feeble and scattered remnants of the black 
aboriginal race, who were either exterminated or 
found a last refuge in the most inaccessible forests 
and mountams.' Nothing definite is known about 
the South Indian Nagas except what is mentioned in 
the Aianimekalai and the occasional references in the 
Pattuppattu and in the inscriptions. In the early 
Buddhistic 'Jamil literature the name of this tribe 
occurs very often. 

(The four hundred yojanas of the good country of 
the Nagas will be destroyed by sinking into the broad 


(The mountain inhabited by the naked nomads and 
the Nagas.) 

The Naga Nadu or tlie country of the Nagas is 
described as a vast island situated in the east or rather 
south-east of the Tamil country ; and the Nagas were 
a half civilised tribe, some of whom were naked 
nomads while others were cannibals. They spoke a 
language not understood by the Tamil people. From 
this description it might be easily surmised that the 
country referred to was Ceylon and that the people 
were the Veddas or Vedas. Nilan and Nagan were 


names quite familiar among the Kalian and the 
Vedan or Vettuvar tribes of the Tamil districts. Nilan 
was the name of the Vaishnava saint Tirumangai 
Alvar, a Kalla by caste, and of the donor of the fine 
cloth to Ay a hill king ; 

rieo iSfTssar ibsoSlu ssSlihsii. — S.P.P. 
(The fine cloth presented by Nilan of the Naga tribe.) 
Nagan was the name of a Veda chieftain and 
the father of the famous Saiva saint Kannappa 
Nayanar. From these it will be seen that the Nagas 
were not so highly civilised as is represented by Mr. 
Kanakasabhai ; but doubtless they were a martial tribe 
of hunters from whom, as we have shown else- 
where, the Pandyas, the Cholas and the Pallavas 
recruited their armies. It seems, therefore, that 
'Naga' was the name given by the Aryans to any 
aboriginal tribe in Southern India and Ceylon, and 
it might be remarked that the Nagas of the south 
were distinct from the Nagas of Northern India who 
are described by Capt. Forbes in the above extract. 
The South Indian Nagas were probably the abori- 
gines, while their North Indian namesake were 
Turanian or Scythian immigrants from Central Asia 
belonging probably to the Mongolian race. 

As regards the origin of the Nagari alphabet the 
conclusions of Dr. G. Buhler and other eminent 
authorities on Indian Paleography are certamly 
opposed to the bold assertion of Mr. Kanakasabhai 
that the Aryans learnt it from the Nagas. The v/ord 
Nagari' is derived from nagar, a city, but not from 


^ Naga ' the name of a tribe, as he seems to think 
and the Nj^gari or the Deva Nagari was the alphabet 
formerly used by the Aryan city folk. 

Again, Mr. Kanakasabhai says the Tamil immi- 
grants were a Mongolian tribe quite independent 
of the ' aboriginal. Nagas and Dravidians ' ; and in 
suppoit of his theory he cites the existence of the 
peculiar letter tp (zh) in Tamil and in some of the 
Tibetan languages, but which ' does not occur in 
the other Dravidian or Sanskrit languages.' Elimi- 
nating the Nagas and the Mongolian tribe of Tamils 
from the population of the Tamil districts, one 
would be anxious to know who these Dravidians 
were. Were they his Villavar and Minavar abori- 
gines or some other tribe which had its existence only 
in his imagination? Then, adverting to the peculiar 
letter tp we must say that it did exist in the ancient 
Kanarese and Telugu languages though it had 
disappeared owing to the continuous Sanskrit influ- 
ence for centuries. In modern Kanarese and Telugu 
it has been dropped or its place taken by m (1) and 
i_ (d). As Dr. Caldwell has rightly said this letter has 
sometimes the sound of err (1) or tu (y) or is even 
omitted as in modern colloquial Tamil. And it 
might further be remarked that ^e which has the 
sound approaching the English zh (as in pleasure) or 
the French J (as in J'ai) may be found in some of 
the languages of the Uralo- Altaic group. The mere 
fact therefore that it is found to prevail equally in 
Tamil and throughout the aboriginal Indo-Chinese 


tongues of the Himalayas and Tibet is by itself 
insufficient to establish an ethnic relationship be- 
tween the two races, especially when there are so 
many and so strong arguments to the contrary. 
Further, there is not the slightest affinitv between 
Tamil and the Tibetan tongues, nor the least resem- 
blance in the physical characters of the Tamil people 
and the Mongolian tribes. 

We have already stated that ' Tamra-litti ' had no 
connection with 'Tamil'. Kosar seems to have been a 
hill tribe more or less akin to the Koyas and the 
Eyinas (Paraiya) of the Tamil districts, which name 
is still preserved in the word Koyan-puttur (Coimba- 
tore) meaning the new village of the Koya or Kosar 
sribe. It is not connected with that powerful and 
civilized race, the Cushites of antiquity, as Mr. Kanaka- 
sabhai seems to think, but rather allied to the Telugu 
speaking hill tribe of that name. Maran is he who 
barters ; it is a title assumed by the Pandya kings on 
account of their earliest commercial relationship with 
the Egyptians, Chaldeans, ancient Arabs and other 
Western nations. The traditional origin of this word 
from Mani (to beat with a tamarind swdtch) given 
in the Madura Tiruvilayadal-Purana, in order to 
connect it with one of the Siva's 'sacred sports' 

betrays the imaginative flights of the Brahman Purana 
writers. And we may say that this word Maran has 
greater connection with the Hebrew Mara to sell or 
barter, than with the Burmese Mran-mar. 


The weightiest of all objections to Mr, Kanaka- 
sabhai's theory seems to come from the pen of Sir 
H. Risley. He says 'It is extremely improbable that 
a large body of a very black and conspicuously long_ 
headed type should have come from the one region 
of the earth which is peopled exclusively by races with 
broad heads and yellow complexion. With this 
we may dismiss the theory which assigns a trans- 
Himalayan origin to the Dravidians,' This objection 
seems sound, although it is too much to admit that 
all the inhabitants of Southern India belonged to a 
* very black and conspicuously long headed-type' of 
the human species. 

Of the several theories set forth above, those of 
the Early-Aryan and Mongolian origins may be dis- 
missed as altogether untenable, as they are supported 
neither by tradition nor by science. The feeble 
support which Sir William Hunter's theory has 
received at the hands of scholars in spite of his magic 
name shows what little substratum of probability 
there is under it. The Lemurian theory can cover, if 
at all, only a very small part of the problem and 
apply only to the primitive aboriginal sections of the 
people. The bold conclusions of Mr. Kanakasabhai 
seem to be based on fanciful philological musings 
and a feverish desire to show originality. In the 
following chapter an attempt will be made to collect 
together a few facts and ideas that may constitute 
what appears to be a more probable solution of this 
interesting question. 


THE TAMIL PEOPLE.— (continued ). 

The one other theory that remains to be con- 
sidered is that a large number of emigrants from 
Western Asia came into the country either by a 
direct sea-route or by land through the Western 
mountain passes, and became superimposed on the 
aboriginal stock, probably of the Lemurian origin, 
before there was any Aryan influence in South India. 
The original home of these people should have been 
Assyria and Asia Minor and they should have lived 
with the ancient Accadians and other Turanian races 
before they migrated to India through the North- 
western passes. This theory seems to have much 
to be said in its favour, although apparent objections 
have been raised against it by Mr. D. Bray, Sir H. 
Risley and other scholars. We shall as in the case 
of the other theories collect together all the argu- 
ments regarding it under the three main heads of 
philology, archaeology and literary tradition. 

Lingttistic evidence : Dr. Caldwell thinks that 


the Dravidian languages may be affiliated morpho- 
logically to the Uralo-Altaic or the Finno-Tartaric 
family of tongues which comprise the Samoyedic, 
the Finnic, the Turkic, the Mongolian and the Tungu- 
sian groups. To the same family belonged Accadian 
— a fully developed language spoken by a highly 
civilised Turanian race that had lived in Assyria, 
Chaldea, Susiana and Media. The learned bishop 
after indicating the pomts of resemblance in grammar 
and vocabulary between Accadian and the Dravidian 
languages, comes to the conclusion 'that the Dravidi- 
an race though resident in India from a period long 
prior to the commencement of the Christian era, 
originated in the Central tracts of Asia — the seed plot 
of nations — and that from thence after parting com- 
pany with the Aryans and the Ugro-Turanians, and 
leaving a colony in Baluchistan, they entered India by 
way of the Indus.' 

In the language of the Behistun tablets 
(Accadian) we find largely used the consonants 
of the cerebral class, /, d, n\ the genetive termination 
a j>i as in na^ nina, or inna, and dative ikka or 
ikki (Tarn, o, kn) ; ordinals ending in im (Tam. =^ii) 
mw); and the second person pronoun ni, nin (Tam. 
i,Sasi), There are other points of linguistic affinity 
between Tamil and the Altaic languages and the 
reader is referred to Dr. Caldwell's invaluable Com- 
parative Grammar which ought to be in the hands of 
every student of the Dravidian languages. The con- 
nection of the Tamils with Asia Minor is further 


confirmed by the identity in form and meaning of 
•several important words in the Semitic, Altaic and 
Tamil languages. For example,— Tam. akkan, Ugr. 
iggcn = t\dQv sister ; Tam. aiinai, Fin. anya = moihtT\ 
Tam. appan, Fin. appl, Hung. //)«= father ; Tarn. 
amma, Samoy. /7;;i)«a= mother ; Tam. attaly Fin. 
^^/^z = mother ; Tam. am, Vogoul. am=yes ; Tam. 
4itivai, Mordvin. ava=moihQx ; Tam. kattn, Hung. 
*o/=to bind, to tie ; Tam. kel, F"in. kitl-en=to hear ; 
Tam. ko, Behistun tablets, ko=3. king ; Tam. kozhi^ 
Vogoul. kore=3. cock; Tam. ti, Samoy. /i=Hre ; Tam. 
tol, V';goul. towl=skin ; Tam. jnayiru (the sun) 
Hung. ;i_yar=summer; Tam. pidi,F\n. pidan=to catch; 
TBm.pira, Fin. pera=iiiter; Tam. uianai, Sam. maii= 
a house; Tam. may-am, Lap. i«o/'=a tree ; Tam. velich- 
am, Hung. velega=\\gh\. &c. We may trace similar 
affinities with Turkic languages also, both in gram- 
mar and vocabulary. 

Of course, we must bear in mind the axiom 
that no account should be taken of mere resemblan- 
ces in sound and meaning of words for linguistic 
considerations ; but in the above case such coinci- 
dences do not seem to be so purely accidental as to 
vitiate our conclusions, as there are other collateral 
evidences to strengthen them, notwithstanding the 
opinion of M. Hovelacque that * Dr. Caldwell has 
not been more successful with his assumed Dravidi- 
an affinity.' 

It was for a long time supposed that the cradle of 
the Aryans was somewhere in Central Asia,which was 


likewise considered the original home of the Dravi- 
dians. Dr. Caldwell must have held this view when 
he said that the Dravidians ' after parting company 
with the Aryans in the Central tracts of Asia entered 
India by the way of the Indus'. He has also proved 
some Dravidian influence in Sanskrit and vice versa in 
order to support his theory that the Dravidians and 
Aryans lived together before their dispersal from 
Central Asia. But scholars are now agreed that the 
original home of the Aryans was somewhere in the 
Scandinavian Peninsula and that no traces of any 
Aryan influence can be found in the Accadian 

And this must afford us a clue to determine 
the approximate date of the Dravidian migration to 
Southern India. As pomted out by Dr. Caldwell*- 
the Dravidian languages have had some influence 
from the Aryan languages. It should have taken 
place only after the Dravidians had left Central Asia 
and settled in the Punjab, before the arrival of the 
Aryans. The migration of the Tamils to Southern 
India should have taken place long after their 
sojourn in Upper India with the Sanskrit-speaking 
Aryans ; and it will be shown in the sequel that the 
Dravidians had separated from the Aryans in the 
trans-Vindhyan Aryavarta sometime after the Maha- 
bharata war about the eleventh century B. C. 

The North-Western origin and migration of 
the Dravidians receive an additional support and 
confirmation from the Brahui language which has 


been the home speech of a Dravidian tribe in Balu- 
chistan. The latest verdict on that language is that 
of Mr. Denys Bray, I. C. S. In his monograph on 
that tongue he says that 'it is sprung from the same 
source as the Dravidian language group; it has freely 
absorbed the alien vocabulary of Persian, Baluchi, 
Sindhi and other neighbouring languages ; but in 
spite of their inroads its grammatical system has 
preserved a sturdy existence,' Mr. Bray goes on to 
give us a word of advice so that we may not identify 
the Brahuis with the Dravidians. He says ' We can 
no longer argue with the child-like faith of our fore- 
fathers from philology to ethnology, and assume 
without further ado that this race of Baluchistan 
whose speech is akin to the languages of the Dravi- 
dian peoples of Southern India is itself Dravidian ; 
that it is in fact the rear guard or the van-guard 
according to the particular theory we may affect 
of a Dravidian migration from North to South or 
from South to North.' 

The term * Dravidian ' means one thing for an 
ethnologist and another for a philologist. Sometimes 
both are confounded. The peoples whose home- 
speech at the present day is a Dravidian language, are 
not necessarily Dravidians by race ; and there are 
non-Aryan tribes who speak an Aryan language. 
To avoid further confusion and misapprehension 
which have unnecessarily led to conflicting theories, 
it must be said once for all here that the term *Dra- 
A^idian ' does not include the very black hill and forest 


tribes, the low castes of Southern India who had 
migrated thither from the submerged continent and 
the Tamil speaking Aryan Brahmans, but only the 
hi^h class Tamils— the Veilalas and the Chetti castes 
— who were more or less brown complexioned, fairly 
civilized, of good physique and of martial habits like 
the Semitic or Iranian tribes of North-Western Asia. 
These people, we presume, are now represented by 
the Todas of the Nilgiris, though there had been on 
the plains a complete fusion with the aboriginal races 
and the later Aryan immigrants, as the proverb says,. 

Quxsnetr OiCOTsrr G)eusir(ofrfT&r<our, 

(A Kalian became a Maravan, the Maravan be- 
came an Agambadiyan, and the Agambadiyan be- 
came a Vellalan.) 

F'urther.the mental and physical characteristics of 
the Brahuis as described by Mr.D. Bray agree so well 
with those found in the literature of the early Dravi-^ 
dian Tamils, that one will be justified in regarding 
both as ethnically related to each other. Thus, we see 
that this theory is supported by philological as well 
as ethnological evidences, and we cannot observe any 
contradiction between them. The Brahuis must, 
therefore, be regarded as the rear guard in the Dravi- 
dian migration and the Todas its van-guard. We may- 
say that the connection between Brahui and Tamil is 
so great that no other inference than that of the ethnic 
relationship between the two peoples seems possible, 
in spite of Dr. Grierson's assertion that the Brahuis 


do not belong to the Dravidian race but are anthro- 
pologically Iranians. And the existence of such 

words as ba, eumii, vay, (mouth) ; pii, Lj(Lp, puzhu, 
(worm) ; bei, emoj, vai (straw); khal, sdo, kal, (stone) ; 
bil, <a5<rj, vil (bow); kh'in, ssm, kan, (eye) ; inits, Qp^(St 
mukku (nose): ielli, (?^srr, tel (scorpion) ; palh^ urreo, 
pal, (milk); ingh, M^^iS, tungu, (sleep); gcil, ■^eir, kal- 
(plural termilnation) ; irat, i^iT'sm'Si, irandu, (two) ; 
&c., and the sentences like, / nnrnto bareva, fsrrasr ^ih 
QmrrQ sii(i^Q<siim, irresistably lead us to the same con- 

Arachceologlcal Evidence : 'The Indian oblong sar 
cophagi,' says Mr. V. A. Smith, 'discovered at various 
places m the Madras districts of Chingleput, Neliore, 
North and South Arcot. are practically identical in 
form with sunilar objects found at Gehrareh near 
Bagdad. This fact is one of many indications con- 
necting archaic Indian civilization with that of Baby- 
lonia and Assyria,which suggest tempting ethnologi- 
cal speculations.' The author of Manimckalai enume- 
rates five methods of disposing of the dead as preval- 
ent in his days among the Tamils, that is about the 
third century A. D. They were (1) cremation, (2) ex- 
posure in an open place to be eaten by jackals and vul- 
tures, (3) burial, (4) stuffing the corpse in natural pits, 
and (5) covering it up with big earthen jars, {^"i^). 
■m-®Qisu!T ffKSQeuira Q^it(S(^l^u uQuQuair 

^ITipQJuS (SST'SSiL-LJ^Uljir ^ITL^uS/b SisS uQ UlT IT . 

So far as we know, the only early nation who ex- 
posed the dead in this fashion was the ancient 


Persians. The Tamil Dravidian, in his march towards 
India, must have lived in Persia, and moved with 
Persians sufficiently long to adopt the above custom. 
Again some of the Tamil districts abound with 
peculiar tomb stones called * Virakkals.' They 
were usually set up on the graves of warriors that 
were slain in battle, chiefly in skirmishes following 
cattle raids.l The names of the deceased soldiers and 
their exploits are found inscribed on the stones, 
which were decorated with garlands of peacock 
feathers or some kind of red flowers. Usually small 
canopies were put up over them. 

(1) &-^ld(?u... 

uS i-.ldl9 nriiT QsiT&refrrT^ QgU'SuL^u 

(2) ulLQl^itit Quaj0 LDtTjD/D^ Qldqp^ 

We give below a specimen of such an epitaph 
dated 936 A. D. 'Prosperity! In the twenty-ninth year 
of King Parakesari Varman who conquered Madura 
when cattle were lifted at Muttukur by the Peru- 
manadigal, Vadunavaran Varacian Tandan having 
recovered them fell.' 

A careful study of the Purapporul Venbamalai 

will doubtless convince the reader that the ancient 

1. In ancient India the lifting of the enemy's cattle usually 

a nnounced the commenceuient of hostilities between neighbouring 

tribes or provinces. 


Tamils were, like the Assyrians and Babylonians, a 
ferocious race of hunters and soldiers armed with 
bows and lances making war for the mere pleasure of 
slaying, ravaging and pillaging. Like them the Tamils 
believed in evil spirits, astrology, omens and sorcery. 
They cared little for death. The following quotations 
from the above work will bear testimony to the 
characteristics of that virile race: — 

(2) Qmaa^uij euenisfTLLemL-s 

(3) 3k.i—fTiT Qp'^emQairen'^Fv s'lrp^ 

(4) Qpisf.^ 3,'^iu QuiSlp \3i—h^Si%sci^^ni^^ 
Q^rru^^ QsifTLL® (SuiSn) ^esiLp^iu &imQs=iT^ 
LD/DuQuiL euiT^suesi euuSisaifjSih ^lLl — — Sil. 

(l) Garlanded with the entrails of enemies they 
danced with lances held in their hands topside down. 

(2) They set fire to the fertile villages of their enemies; 

(3) and plundered their country and demolished their 
houses. (4) The devil's cook distributed the food 
boiled with the flesh of the slain, on the hearth of 
the crowned heads of fallen kings and stirred with 
the ladle of the bangled arm. 

With these compare some passages from the 
Assyrian stories of compaigns. ' I had some of them 
flayed in my presence and had the wall hung with 
their skins. I arranged their heads like crowns and 
their transfixed bodies in the form of garlands ... I 


raised mountains of bodies before his gates. All his 
villages I destroyed, desolated, burnt ; I made the 
country desert. I changed it into hills and mounds of 

And yet the early Dravidians are considered by 
Dr. Caldwell as the framers of the best moral codes, 
and by the new school of non-Aryan Tamil scholars 
as the inventors, independent of the sliahtest Aryan 
or other influence, of grammar, philosophy, theology 
and in fact of every science and art. It is enough for 
the present to remind them that the earliest gram- 
marians of Tamil were Brahmans, their first spiritual 
instructors were Brahmans, and iheir first teachers of 
philosophy were also Brahmans. 

The first Tamil grammarian, an Aryan sage, 
found the customs, polity and even thought of the 
ancient Tamils so completely at variance with those 
of the Aryans that he thought it prudent to leave 
a description of them for the information of their 
posterity ; and with a view, no doubt, to satisfy the 
incorrigible and refractory early Tamils and to give 
them a permanency at least in books, he codified and 
varnished them with a thin veneer of Aryan religious 
sanction. These now form the subject matter of the 
third book of the Tolkapyam. 

We have said that the Vellalas were pure Dravi- 
dians and that they were a military and dominant 
tribe. If so, one would naturally ask * How could 
the ancestors of peaceful cultivators be a warlike 
race ?' The term ' Vellalan ' is ordinarily derived by 


some from vellam, flood, and alaii, a ruler, hence a 
cultivator ; while others derive it from vdlanmai, 
cultivation. Neither seems to be quite correct, for the 
right form of this word is Vellan and it occurs in 
early Tamil inscriptions. In Tamil the words allied 
to it are vcl, the god of war ; vel-ir, the ruling class 
among the ancient Tamils ; vel-akkaraii,2i foot-soldier 
(now obsolete, but found in the inscriptions of 
Raja-raja Chola) ; vcly help ; vel-anmai, truth ; and 
Vell-alan, a cultivator. The last two are rarely to be 
met with in early Tamil literature, while m the others 
we hear the sound of the war-drum. Compare the 
word padai [usmiJ) which meant an army, a weapon of 
war and a plough ; and to distinguish 'a plough' from 
the other implements it is now called a-(z^us3)i_ or a 
ploughing weapon. Audit may be pointed out that 
all the modern cultivating castes — the Bants, the 
Nayars, the Pallis and the Telagas or Velamas — were 
formerly martial tribes like the ancient Vellalas. 

Literary evidence: {(i) The artificial irrigation of 
the soil by constructing large reservoirs and canals 
on an extensive scale was encouraged by the early 

^ilSoi—T [Tilt LBsSi'SuLLL-LLQi^nQ rr , — Piir. 

(Verily, he who has turned the bent (low) land into a 
reservoir to arrest the flow of the running water is one 
who has established a name ip this world.) 
This system, says Meadows Taylor, 'existed probably 
in no other country except Babylon.' 


(b) The kings of all the three Tamil dynasties 
traced their ancestry to one or the other of the 
North-Indian kings. The Pandyas claimed to be an 
offshoot of the Pandavas and styled themselves the 
* Panchavans'; and the Chobs called themselves 
'Sembyan' or the descendants of Sibi,a North-Indian 
Emperor. These kings are said to have assisted the 
Pandavas in the Great War, 

L^wLj€isrjb ULpsGiu LjSfTiTiBsiT Qisuis,m. — Sil. 

(The king of Pukar — Cauveripatnain — the city of 
lovely gardens and sweet water, who from on his throne 
of audience distributed the ' great food ') 

QuQ^(^QfiTpgn tAl(^u^u)6uesi!rLurr^QsiT(S)^Q ^mu. — Pur. 

(Thou art the king that gave the 'great food' 
hberally at the battle field till the ' one hundred ' fell.) 

This they could have done (jnly when they were 
reigning over small districts somewhere in Upper 
India ; because, it would be improbable and impos- 
sible that the Cheras, Cholas and Pandyas, had they 
actually been in the south at the time of the war, 
could have sent their large contingents all the way to 
Kuruksheha in the Punjab through impenetrable 
forests, rivers and mountains. And in support of the 
above statement we may quote an extract from Mr. J. 
W. M'Crindle's Ancient India. ' The kingdom of 
Pandion, which was situated on the southern extremi- 
ty of the Indian peninsula,was founded by an Aryan 


race whose ancestors had occupied the regions 
watered by the Jamna. This may be inferred both 
from the name of the king and that of his capital 
which was called Madura after the celebrated city 
which adorned of old, as it does still the banks of 
that great tributary of the Ganges.' The kingdom is 
mentioned by Pliny (A. D. 77), by the author of the 
Peripins of the Eryihnvan Sea and by Ptolemy. 

'In his commentary on the prefatory sutra to the 
Tolkapyam, Nacchinarkiniyar describes a tradition 
relating to the migration of the Dravidian race, which 
is as follows: — The sage Agastya repaired to Dwarka 
(Tatn. Tuvarapati) and, taking vvith him eighteen 
kings of the line of Sri Krishna, eighteen families of 
Vels or Velirs and others, moved to the South with 
the Aruvalari tribes. There, he had all the forests 
cleared and built up kingdoms settling therein all the 
people he had brought with him. One of the princi- 
oalities thus founded bv him was Dwarasamudram in 
the Mysore State. Kapilar, a Brahman poet probably 
of the second century A. D,, addresses the reigning 

1. The Aruvalars seem- to have been the ancestors of the 
Kummbas. They were not Hked by the Vehrs or Vellalas as will be 
evident from the bad meanings which these Tamil words acquired 
in later times and from the following quotation. 

f^gu^fT irrSs^ esii—tuirfr. 

(The wise will not approach the Vadugas, Arnvalas, Karnatas 
the burning ground, the devil and the buffalo.) 


chief of this place as the forty-ninth in descent from 
the original founder of that dynasty. 

S-Qjuit eSstsis^ ^eussnT luiremQ 

iBfT pu^ Q^iTiSsru^ suip](Lpssip eurs^ 

Qeue(fl(rf,<3(r QeuQetr. — Pur. 

(O ! The Velir of Velirs that governed Tuvarai — 
Dwarasamudram — for forty-nine generations.) 
Allowing the usual twenty-five years for each genera- 
tion, the above kingdom must have been established 
about B.'J. 1075 ; and this may be assumed as the 
probable date of the migration of the Tamils to 
Southern India. 

Within the hst fifteen years a new school of 
Tamil scholars has come into being, consisting mainly 
of admirers and castemen of the late lamented pro- 
fessor and antiquary, Mr. Sundaram Pillai of Tri- 
vandram. Their object has been to disown and to 
disprove any trace of indebtedness to the Aryans, to 
exalt the civilisation of the ancient Tamils, to distort 
in the name of historic research the current traditions 
and literature, and to pooh-pooh the views of former 
scholars, which support the Brahmanizalion of the 
Tamil race. They would not even admit that the 
early Tamils had ever lived in Upper-India by the 
side of the Aryans. One of them writes thus : ' It is 
my view that Tamilians were not derived directly 
from the settlers in the north during the Indian Vedic 
days, and that the Tamilians did not immigrate from 
the north of India to the south by choice or by force ; 
that they are not to be identified with the people whom 


the Vedic settlers encountered and called Dasyus ; that 
if they did settle in the south from outside, they did 
so by the sea and not by land and through mountain 
ranges, and that they came from Assyria and Asia- 
Minor, the oldest seat of ancient civilisation. I further 
think, that once they entered India by the Western 
sea-gate they spread themselves rapidly over the whole 
of South India up to the Dandakaranya and the 
Vindhya, which at that time must have been impas- 
sable, and that they developed their letters, and arts, 
and sciences, and law, and government which at the 
time they came in contact with the Northern settlers 
must have been in a sense perfect'. 

If the above theory be correct, the migration 
must have taken place earlier than the twelfth century 
B. C; and to accomplish such a huge undertakmg 
the Dravidian Tamils must have had an immense 
naVy. But we know of no ancient nation who had 
it at this remote penod.i The Egyptians were an 
agricultural race ; the Assyrians were mountaineers; 
the Hebrews were shepherds and the Phoenicians 
alone, but of later date, were a maritime race of 
merchants. As a matter of fact we know that these 
last, the lonians and the Romans and very lately 
1. Prof. Sayce believes he has proved the existence of com- 
merce by sea between India and Babylon bo early as 3000 B.C. by 
the finding of Indian teak in the ruins of Ur. But this conclusion 
is not accepted by all si-holars. Mr. J. Kennedy has deci- 
sively shown in a very learned paper that he can find no archaeo- 
logical or literary evidence for a maritime trade between India and 
Babylon prior to the seventh century B. C. 


the Arabs had commercial intercourse with the early- 
Tamils. Their ships came to South India with gold, 
wine and lamps and bartered them with the Tamils 
for pepper, pearl, peacock-feathers and agil as the 
following quotations will show: — 

cueuissriT ^i^ <sS^esr LDrremasr sgOld 

(The stately vessel of the Yavanas (lonians) will 
come with gold and go with pepper.) 

LUQjssr SajpfSiu eSl^esr LofTsm unssisu 
easQiLii^ sssfleoi/Diu Q:?ajQs^iTifli^. — Ned. 

(Poured oil in the lamp held by the statue made by 
the Yavanas.) 

(BasTseotJD ^k^ ^eaarsLDj^ Q^jsso, — Pur. 

(The cool sweet-scented wine brought by the fine 
ship of the Yavanas.) 

When their acquaintance with the ^Tamils had be- 
come closer the Romans began to settle in some of 
the principal Tamil cities. A Pandya king in return 
sent an embassy to Augustus Caesar in B. C. 20. He 
might have been Mudu-Kudumi-Peruvaludi whose 
name occurs both in Tamil hterature and inscriptions. 
The Roman settlement in Madura probably continued 
till about 4.50 A. D. There was also a Greek colony 
at Kaveripatam in the second century A. D. 

The words used in ancient Tamil literature to 
denote the ' ship ' are navay {iBrranTih), Gr. Naus, Lat. 
Navis, Skt. Nav, and kalam or kalan {ssoim). Ion.. 


Kalon (a wooden hou^e). These are not Tamil words, - 
and tliey might have been borrowed from the lonians 
or Greeks who had, as already stated, commercial 
relationship with the ancient Tamils. We know that 
foreign nations carried on trade with the Tamils and 
settled in The Tamil countries ; but we do not find it 
said anywhere that the Tamils ever visited any foreign 
countries for the purpctse of commerce, though in 
later times they had ships and were experts in navi- 
gation. Their voyages, however, seem to have been 
confined mostly to the East as the following extract 
will show : — 

ia£_LO?s« ulSIjdibs insmfiiLjil) QuiTisar^iEi 

@i_LD?lsy UlS/DIS^ (SUlTITQp ldQ^ib 

QaeisrsL-eo Qp^^w (^ssarsL^p ^Qq^isi 
sfSjioiDS tsufrfftiLjisi aaeSfflu ulu^ 
iBi^^^emei^isi aiTLpt^ ^a&s(LpLD, Pat. 

(The gold and gems of the Himalayas, the sandal 
and agil of the Western ghats, the pearls of the 
Southern ocean, the coral of the Eastern sea, the pro- 
ductions of the Ganges and the Cauvery, the eatables, 
from Ceylon and the spices from Burmah). 

As Mr. Vincent Smith has rightly observed, 
* Ancient Tamil literature and the Greek and Roman 
authors prove that in the first two centuries of the 
Christian era the ports on the Coromandal or Chola 
\. The Tamils had words to signify a boat, but not a ship- 
Patai, padakti (Gael. bata)*2mnai, a catamaran, iollai (that which 
is made hollow), &c. The Tamil lexicographers made no distinc- 
tion between a raft, a boat and a merchantman. 


coast enjoyed the benefits of active commerce with 
both the West atid East. The Chola fleets did not 
confine taemseives to coasting voyages, but boldly 
crossed the Bay of Bengal to the mouths of the 
Ganges and the h-rawaddy, and the Indian Ocean 
to the islands of the xMalay Archipelago'. Dr. Caldwell 
thinks that the ancient Tamils ' had no foreign com- 
merce, no acquaintance with any people beyond the 
sea except Ceylon, and no word expressive of 
geographical idea of island or continent'. We might 
say that Dr. Caldwell was not altogether just in his 
estimate of the ancient Tamil civilisation. But he 
might be correct with regard to the Tamils before 
they had come in contact with the Aryans either in 
Upper India or in the extreme South. 

In this connection it may be observed that most 
of the capitals of the a-icient Tamil kingdoms were 
inland towns, a fact which militates against the 
theory of their having been of a daring sea-faring 

Again if we believe in the theory that the Tamils 
migrated to Southern India by the sea and not by the 
land, how are we to account for the location of the 
Brahuis — a tribe allied to the Dravidian Tamils — in 
Baluchistan? And how are we to explain the Aryan 
elements in the early Tamil language? History and 
traditions are against it, philology is against it, and 
in fact everything is against it. 

Some glimpses of the Aryan conquest and 


colonization of Southern India will be obtained from 
the two great Sanskrit epics the Mahabharata and the 
Ramayana. The evidence furnished by thetn on 
minute details is, however, extremely questionable. 
Neither of them has come down to us in its original 
form. Additions, interpolations and alterations seem 
to have been made from time to time to the Maha- 
bharata till the tenth or eleventh century A.D., and 
to the Ramayana at least up to the second or third 
century, which have given rise to many contradictory 
statements and anachronisms. It would, therefore, 
be hazardous to start any theories from incoherent 
statements, or to cite them in support of one's pre- 
conceived theories concerning the civilisation of the 
aboriginal tribes and the geography of the tracts they 
inhabited, as has been done recently by the mem- 
bers of the New School of Tamil Research whose 
love of their language is more than their regard for 
historic truth. 

The present writer cannot preten d to have the 
boldness or the requisite scholarship in Sanskrit to 
derive the name * Rama ' from Tam. Inil, darkness 
to say that the Rakshasas and Vanaras were more 
civilized than the Aryans, to call the ancient Tamilians 
Asuras, to assert that Svayamvaram was the form, 
of marriage prevalent among the aborigines, and to 
proclaim from the house-tops that ' the Rakshasas 
were monotheists' and worshipped Siva and Siva only 
with incense and flowers ; while ' the Aryan worship 
of natural phenomena and their unmeaningsacrifices 


appeared to the philosophical Tamils — Rakshasas of 
the Ramayana — to be sacreligious.' 

Leaving these theories severely alone, it is our 
duty in the interest of scientific truth to set forth 
what we have gleaned from the two great epics and the 
writings of the ancient Tamils. 

Of the two grand epics, the Mahabharata alone 
seems to have been widely known and regarded, in 
the Tamil country, as a sacred work. Som.e of the 
Mahabharata stories and the divine personages men- 
tioned therein like Sri Krishna and Bala Rama occur 
very often in the early Tamil works of the academic 
period prior to the hfth or sixth century A. D. On 
the other hand, the Ramayana was almost unknown 
to them, except probably to certain Tamil poets of 
that period as a quasi-historical composition. The 
author of Silappadikaram (A.D, 220) while describing 
Kaveripatam, after it was left by Kovalan and 
Kannaki, compares it to Ayodhya after its desertion 
by Rama and Sita as in the following lines : — 

And Ravana is mentioned by the author of Madurai 
Kanji (A. D. 150). He says that owing to the diplo- 
matic skill of Agastya, the royal priest of the Pandya, 
their Tamil country was saved from being conquered 
by Ravana. 

Q(yrj>m (i/>^ si—ei\L- LS(5sr6miT Qldlu 


Again both the names Rama and Havana occur 
•in an example for the logical method of immediate 
inference cited by Sattanar. 

(To infer that 'Ravana suffered defeat' from the pro- 
position ' Rama won ' is what is called mitchi) 

Thus we see that Ravana was not a TaraiHan 
and that he and Rama had been regarded by the 
early Tamils as pure historical personages, till we 
come to the Puranic period, when the Vaishnava 
Saints {^u^suirn) following the impetus given to 
Brahmanism in Upper India, began to deify Rama 
as an Avatar of Vishnu. And the Ramayana of 
Valmiki, in which Rama is described as a great 
national hero — a typical Aryan of noble, pure and 
sublime life worthy of divine respect — appears to 
have been recast with vast additions in imitation of 
the Mahabharata, probably, during the third or fourth 
century A.D. Even so late as the seventh century, 
the Ramayana did not secure such a hold on the 
Tamil mind as the Mahabharata. The following 
extract from the Kuram grant of the Pallava king 
Paramesvara Varma I. (AD. 660) will be to the point : 

(One share to the reader of the Mahabharata at this 

And it was one century later that the first Tamil 
^translation of the Mahabharatha was made by 


Perum-Devanar, the celebrated compiler of the Eight 
Tamil anthologies. The Ramayana was translated 
for the first time in A. D. 1185 by the immortal 

Now the Ramayana is a quasi-historical epic 
poem which describes the migration of the Aryans 
to Southern India prior to the fifteenth century B.C. 
It gives an account of the tribes that were living in 
the various regions of the Indian Peninsula. The 
description of the Pandya and other countries given 
in the modern recensions of that epic are only later 
interpolations. The Tamil kingdoms did not come 
into existence during Rama's time. These provinces 
were then dense forests inhabited by wild and savage 
tribes, whom Valmiki called Rakshasas, Yakshas and 
Vanaras (monkeys) on account of their strange, un- 
familiar non-Aryan physical features and customs. 
In later Sanskrit works the Asuras are sometimes con- 
founded with the Rakshasas ; but it is not correct, as 
the Asuras were a section of the fair-skinned Aryans, 
now represented by the Parsis, while the Rakshasas 
were a dark-complexioned cannibal race of hun- 
ters and fisherman like the modern Andamaners and 
the Australian aborigines. The Yakshas of Ceylon 
and the Rakshasas ot Southern India belonged to the 
same race of people called Yatudanas in the Vedas 
and Nagas in the later Buddhistic and other lite- 
ratures. They might have been the ancestors of the 
modern Paraiyas, Pallas, Idaiyas, Maravas and 
Kallas. It will be interesting to note that one of the 


Marava chieflains under a Pandya king was called 
lyakkan or Yakshan. 

They were demonalators and hated Siva, an 
Aryan deity, and their king Havana who treated Siva 
with contempt had his ten heads cut off by that deity, 

Q^rrOieiriT® ud^eumLjih QsiT^e\}^^i— esiQcihsisi^'oai/iS 
tLirrememixLqLiD £u&9LL!i ^iruumrsLiT £ii6\)ixii-i!reiiieu)Qir. 
The custom of carrying off women for wives was 
prevalent among them ; hence this kind of marriage 
lias come to be known as Rakshasam. This form of 
j^CAual alliance which is very common among some of 
the modern hill tribes and largely practised by 
the ancient Tamils has left its trace in tl e social rules 
called the 'be.eging for a girl ' ira^l L.ff^<5/7(g^ and 
* refusal to give a girl' Lcsemws)'^^ Qu n l£^ ^&}.Thty c^ve 
explained in the Venbamalai thus: — 
sjiB^asLQ ujitlLi—0 Qsesi^LD 

(To see an enemy in the king who begged the gift 
of a jewelled maiden.) 

QeutMQpo' (emani-D'SBSfr Qeuemi— 

(They in the fort refusing the hand of a damsel to 
a bitter foe.) 

This kind of marriage by capture seems to have 
led to frequent bloody quarrels between neighbour- 
ing villages. As to their cannibalism and excess of, 
flesh-eating and drinking of liqucr more will be said 


in the following pages. So much for the Rakshasa 
ancestors of our non-Aryan friends. 

We shall now enquire who the Vanara or mon- 
key allies of Rama were. Even the early Tamils of 
the second or third century believed that they were 
actually monkeys. A poet of that period has said, — 

Qs=LbQpsLj QuQ^iEiSi'^. — Piir. 
In reality they were not monkeys,but only an aborigi- 
nal race, darkcomplexioned, short statured, but strong 
and of monkey-like appearance like the Negritos. 
They lived upon roots and fruits; and they used only 
stones and clubs in their fights with the Rakshasas 
whom they ahviys disliked. This description of 
the Vanaras leads us to infer that they should have 
been the ancestors of the modern hill and forest 
tribes like the Malasars, Soligas, Paliyas, Kadars 
and the Irulas. We have said before that these hill 
and forest tribes had their own kings like Vali and 
Sugriva, the monkey chieftains of the Ramayana. 

All that we have discussed in the preceding pages 
may be summarized thus. The present population of 
the Tamil districts is composed of four distinct races, 
namely (1) the Negritos, (2) a mixed leiotrichi race 
allied to the Veddahs of Ceylon and the aborigines of 
Australasia, whom, for the sake of brevity, we may 
€all the Nagas, (3) the Dravidian race, and (4) the 
Aryans. The first two — the Vanaras and the Kakshasas 


of the Ramayana — had had their original home in 
the submerged continent before they entered India 
from the south. Of these the Negritos must have 
been the earlier immigrants, and they must have been 
driven to the hills and forests by the mixed race of 
Nagas who came after them and occupied mostly the 
maritime districts. Tiie date of their migration cannot 
be given as we have no data for it. Thirdly, came the 
Dravidians from Upper India about eleven hundred 
B.C., who carved out three or four small kingdoms by 
subduing the petty chieftain? of the Naga tribes. Their 
original home Seems to have been Asia-Minor, 
and Ihey entered India by the North-Western gate 
long before the arrival of the Aryans; and before they 
marched southward both the races should have lived 
together in Northern India at least for some cen- 
turies. And lastly, came the Aryans not as con- 
querors but as teachers of religion and philosophy 
to the semi-civilized Dravidians, mostly on the 
invitation of their kings. 



(In Thousands). 
Tamil popiiIalion~16, 647. 
































s 1 tS 






I. Aryan. 

1. Brahmans* 
JI. Dravidiaii. 




135 44 


24 34 






2. Vellalas 













III. Naga (mixed) 

3. Valaiyan t 













4. Pailan | c 












5. Slianan j 1 













6. Idaiyan 













7. Maravan. ! « 


• •• 






8. Again- 1- S 

badiyan S 










9. Paraiyati \ 













10. Kaikolan re 













11. Kamma- h: 













12. Palli or 



758 257] 









o «■ 

13. Kalian 

re C 


• •• 








14. Amba- 

r > 5 

re r* 




• •• 








ran §1'^'^ 

IV. Nagii (Pure). 

15. Kuravan ** 






18 ... 







* Includes 36 Tamil Brahmans in Malabar, 
t Includes Sembadavan. 
§ Includes Multiriyan and Urali. 
* * Includes Vedan, Vettii\an, Iiulrn rr.d clhcr hill and forest tribes. 



An examination of the South Indian inscriptions 
shows that, from time to time, small bands of 
Brahmans from Northern India were invited by the 
Tamil kings and made to settle in their countries. 
Even at that remote period the Dravidians were 
snfliciently civilized and the Brahmans felt no neces- 
sity to bring with them either the Kshatriyas or the 
Vaisyas. We have neither heard nor read of any 
extensive immigrations, within historic times, of 
other races from outside the Tamil country. Of 
course, we leave out of consideration the handful of 
'Skilled artisans from Magadha, mechanics from Ma- 
ratam, smiths from Avanti and carpen'ers from Ya- 
vana (Ionia or Europe)'i who were found in the city 

1 "The name 'Yavana' was derived from the lonians or descend- 
ants of Javaii, the first Greeks with whom the Hindus became ac- 
quainted, and ill the ancient Tamil and Sanskrit period denoted the 
Greeks in general. In subsequent times, when the Greeks were 
succeeded by the Arabs, it was the Arabs that were denoted by 
this name; so that in the later Sanskrit of the Vishnu Purana We 
ai e to understand by the Yavaiias not the Greeks but the Arabs of 
more widely the inhabitants of both sliores of the Pei'sian Gulf, as 
that work speaks of the national custom of the Yavaiias shaving 
their heads entirely without leaving a lock. The name Sonagan 
by wliich these Muhammadans of Arab descent are sometimes 
called in Tamil, is merely a corruption of the Skt. Yavana or 
Yavanaka "— See Ind. Ant, for 1876, p. 110. 


of Kaveripatam before its destruction which occur- 
red in the early part of the second century A. D. 

We do not nickide in this all later immigrants of 
comparatively recent times such as the Telugu 
castes and Sourashtra weavers who followed the Vija- 
yanagar Governors, the stray Kshatriyas and Vais- 
yas v.'ho hailed from the North during the Mogul 
rule, and the Mahratta Sudras who came in the 
train of the Mahratta leaders. We are concerned 
here only with the Tamil speaking castes and tribes 
of an earlier period. It is therefore certain that even 
those Tamil castes who trace their ancestry straight 
to the Vedic and Pauranic gods, calling themselves 
' Viswa-Brahmans,' ' Dravida Kshatriyas' and ' Arya 
Vaisyas,' must have grown out of the Tamil tribes 
and castes which are described in ancient Tamil 
literature and inscriptions. 

Broadly speaking, the Brahmans and the Sudras 
■of the Tamil country belong each to a distinct race. 
In a way each had its own system of thought, religion, 
and ethical and social rules, so that an attempt to 
engraft the one on the other must look strange and 
preposterous. This fact has rightly been grasped by 
the English educated portion of the non-Brahman 
castes, who, as already pointed out, have been endea- 
vouring to assert an indigenous Dravidian civili- 
^sation. This is only natural ; and they merit the 


sympath}' and suppoit of scholars if they confine 
themselves to a rational scientific enquiry. 

It has been said in the last essay that there were 
at least three distinct types of pre-Aryans in the Tamil 
country, namely, (1) <lie Hill and Forest tribes, (2) 
the Nagas and (3) the Vtlir or the Vellala tribes. For 
want of a better name these are called collectively 
Dravidians, though, strictly speaking, ' Dravidian ' 
should be applied only to the Vellalas, who were 
the latest of the pre-Aryan mimigrants in Southern 
India. Sometimes the moie significant compound 
* Naga Dravidians' has also been used. 

Before the arrival of the Aryans there was 
no caste system in the Tamil country. The 
earliest Brahman settlers tried, however, to intro- 
duce their four-fold division of people, and before 
they could succeed in it they met with much oppos- 
ition. No Dravidian was considered worthy of being 
classed as Brahmans. The Tamil kings alone were 
elevated to the rank of Kshatriyas in spite of their 
marriage connections with the ancient Velir or Vellala 
tribes. These Velirs were on that account called 
Ilangokkal or the 'minor kings'. The Brahmans got 
up for them very decent geneologies which traced their 
ancestry to the sun, the moon or the tire. This rendered 
the position of the Vellalas who had to oscillate bet- 
ween the Vaisya and the Sudra castes dubious and 
unsettled. Their greatest difficulty, however, was with 
the hill and forest tribes and the Nagas, who constitu- 


ted the bulk of the South Indian population. They could 
not put these earlier Naga inhabitants in the Sudra 
division along with the Diavidian Vellalas for fear of 
injuring the feelings of the Tamil kings and the Velir 
nobility. To get over this difficulty they had to devise 
a new scheme of classification on an altogether 
different principle, which depended on the nature of the 
soil or region i in which the tribes happened to live. 


1. Neijtal or maritime, j Paravas, Nulayas 

t and Valaiyas. 

2. Marutam or fertile. Mallar (Pallar) & Kadaignar. 

3. Mnllai or pasture. Idaiyar and Toduvar. 

4. Palai or desert. Maravar and Eyinar. 

5. Knriujl or hilly. f Kuravar, Irular, Savarai , 

1 Vedar and Villiyar. 

This regional classification of the non-Aryan 
Tamil tribes is conspicuous by the absence of the 
Velir or the Vellala caste. It must, therefore, refer 
only to the pre-Dravidian tribes mentioned in Groups 
I and II given above. Palai is sometimes omitted or 
amalgamated with Kurinji ; and the tribes of these two 
regions consequently interchange. 

The earliest Tamil works inform us that there 
were two sections among the Velirs or pure Dravidi- 
ans, namely the cultivating and the non-cultivatmg. 
As a rule the latter section furnished statesmen and 

1. Tlie i amil grammarians and lexicographers have classified the 
Soil as five ^/w/v.—Neytal, Marutam, Mullai, Palai and Kurinji, or 
as four iiilaiiis making Palai common to the other four. 


generals to the Tamil kings. Its members were 
generally recipients of high titles like Kizhan, 
Udaiyan, Rayan or Arayan, Vel or Velan and Kaviti ; 
and such Tamil names as Kudal-udai. Arisil 
kizhan and Kalinga-rayan appear now as the go trie 
names ot the Karkatta Vellalas. They have ninety- 
six gotras or exogamous septs, thirteen ot which end 
in Thirai, or Thiraiyan, fourteen in Rayan and sixty- 
nine in Udai or Udaiyan. The first designates the 
clan or tribe to which that section of the Vellalas 
originally belonged ; the second is the title conferred 
on them by the Chola or Pandya kings ; while the 
third appears to have been the names of villages of 
which they were the chieftains. Kaviti was a 
special distinction bestowed upon the ministers 
of state. Most of these gotric names may be found 
in the ancient Tamil inscriptions. No traces of the 
Tamil kings are to be found at present in this country, 
and it is highlv probable that they should have merged 
in the pure Vellala caste. We say pure because the 
Vellala caste as a whole appears to have been receiving 
additions from time to time from other tribes as the 
following extract will show : QwiL^surflio Qsustrrrssr 
srHi!jtT(eu)€sr L0(3^-E/«G'QjswyT53r.i Most of the Konga Vellalas 
were formerly Vettuvans. The preceding statement 
will show that the Coimbatore District contains an 
unusually large number ot Vellalas — a fact which 
casts a serious doubt on their pure Dravidian or 
Vellala origin. 

1. .^outli Indian Iiircriptions, Vol. Ill, p. i5. 


The occupations of the cultivating section were 
as given below, — 

S-Qp^ LJiumQsrrem Qi^rr&9iSss3!r QiurrmLSu 
u(ips)e\}iTU u^mi—LD usri^ — QpQp^essnT 

(SS)^ su'SsiSsfT.i srrs?, — P. V. M, 

(1) tilling, (2i cow-breeding, (3) trade, (4) 
studying the Vedas, (5) worship of sacrificial' 
fire, and (G) giving aims. Here the Vellalas are 
spoken of as Bhu-Vaisyas. These occupations were, 
however, never confined to particular castes. Tilling 
was and has been done by the Mallars (Pallars)^ 
Maravas and others; cow-breeding by the Idaiyas and 
Kurumbas ; trade in grains was formerly followed 
by a class of Vellalas called Kuia-Vanikar or Vellan- 
Chettis and now by any caste ; and giving alms by 
all the non-polluting castes. Vedic study and 
worship of sacrificial fire do not appear to have at 
any time been practised by the non-Brahman Tamils, 
except probably by an extinct section of the Vella- 
las known as the ' Vaidyas.' This name which 
occurs in a Vatteluttu inscription dated 7 70 A.D. 
should not be confounded with the Boidya caste of 
Bengal or with the class of native physicians called 
' Vaidyan ' as is sometimes done. ' Pre-eminently 
charming in manners, a resident of Karavandapura, 
theson of Maran, and a learned and illustrious mem- 
ber of the Vaidya family, Madhurakavi made this- 
stone temple of Vishnu'. The Vaidyas were minis- 

( Vatteluttu ) 

"^ o 3 l7 r) -tb t( d:p + ^ V 

U« -^ *»T L»fr <»W M^ »^ ^J 9> GO ^* \ 

0'p!>_'^C) ly J5 7 3 3*^ 

S3- :r7. 


ters under the Chola and Pandya kings and were 
good Sanskrit scholars well versed in the Vedas. 
Their royal title as ministers was ' Per-Arayan,' while 
that of a Brahman minister was ' Brahma- Arayan.' 
It will be interesting to observe that the great Vaish- 
nava Saint Nammalvar and probably the Saiva ascetic 
Tayumanswami also belonged to this section of the 
Vellala caste. 

In the Sendan-Divakaram, a work probably of 
the eleventh or twelfth century, the occupations of 
the Vellalasi are given, as (1) tilling, (2) cow-breedings 
(3) trade, (4) playing on drums and musical instru- 
ments, (5) weaving, &c., and (6) service to Brahmans. 
Obviously, many inferior castes like the Kaikolas and 
Pallis are mcluded here in tiie great Vellala tribe. 
And agreeably to it the word 'Kaikolan' makes its first 
appearance m this work as a caste name, and 'Pallava' 
is expunged therefrom, taking in the word 'Kavandan' 
to denote a man of the servile class. The Brahmans 
depended upon the Idaiyans for the supply of milk, 
ghee and butter, which were necessary for their sub- 
sistance and sacrificial oblations, and they were conse- 
quently elevated to the rank of V^^isyas, though they 
were never granted the privilege of wearing the sacred 
thread, to perform the Vedic rituals and to live within 
their villages. They had to live in a Clieri far remov- 
ed from the village like the Paraiyas, Izhavas and 

1. About the end of the eleventh century the occupations of the 
Vellalas were, — giving ahns, tilling, cow-breeding, trade, music and 
sei'vice to Brahmans. — Virasoliyam, 85. 


Kammalas. What a strange fitting of these non- 
Aryan tribes to the procrustean bed of the Brahmani- 
cal caste system ! 

Turning once more to the early Tamil literature 
and inscriptions, we find the following names of 
occupational castes mentioned: — Ambattan, Izhavan, 
Kammalan or the five artizans, Kani or Kaniyan, 
Kaviti, Kusavan, Marayan, Navisan, Panan, Panikkan, 
Pidaran, Sekkan, Sakkai {Mai. Chakkian), Uvaichan, 
Vannan, Vannattan, Valluvan, Variyan and Velan. 
All these castes now exist in Makibar though their 
occupations have since undergone slight change ; 
while in the Tamil districts Kani, Kaviti, Marayan, 
Sakkai, Vannattan, Variyan and Velan have altogether 
disappeared. Most of these occur in the Tanjore 
inscriptions of Rajaraja Chola (A. D. 985—1013). 
Kani or Kaniyan was an astrologer ; Kaviti, an 
accountant (but formerly a minister) ; Marayan, a 
title conferred on the royal musician of a temple ; 
Pidaran is the reciter of the Devara-hymns, audit 
corresponds to the present day O'duvan ; Sakkai is a 
temple actor ; Vannattan is a high class washerman ; 
Variyan an overseer in temples ; and Velan a 
•dancer in honour of Subrahmanya the hill deity ; 
Ambaltan was a medicine man and now a barber ; 
Panan was a low caste minstrel and now a tailor ; 
Panikkan was a teacher or instructor in gymnastics 
and now the name of a mure advanced section of 
the Izhava or Shanan caste to which also belonged 
Enadi Nayanar the famous Saiva saint and athletic 


teacher of a Chola king. Shanan has taken the place 
of Izhavan in the Tamil districts, for reasons which 
have not yet been ascertained. 

Many of our readers must no doubt be faraihar 
with the tribes enumerated in the regional classifica- 
tion given above. For a better understanding of the 
process of formation and growth of the numerically 
strongest Tamil castes which account for more than 
80 per cent, of the Tamil population, we shall exhibit 
them in the subjoined table. 

Original trihes. Modem castes. 

(1) Paravan and [ ParaVan, Valaiyan, 

Valaiyan. \ Sembadavan, P'atlanavan, 

( Karaiyan &c. 

(2) Mallar (Pallar). Pallan, Shanan, Panikkan. 

(3) Idaiyan. Idaiyan. 

Maravan, Agambadiyan, 

il\ Maravan and ' P^i'-^'Y''^"' Kaikolan, Kam- 

■^^ Fvimn < ™^''^"' Kurumban, Palli 

^y^"^"- j or Vanniyan, Kalian, Mutti- 

J riyan and Ambalakaran. 

(5) Kuravan, Irulan, \^TT'' J'h^''"' J","^^"' 

^ Vedan^ndVilliyan.^^^l'^y'^"' Kadai, Malasar 
•^ ^and mmor hill tribes. 

The other important castes like Ambattan, Vaniyan 
and Vannan were originally occupational guilds 
consisting of peoples from various tribes, which have 
in course of time hardened into distinct castes* 
Even now in Malabar the Brahmans have their own 
barbers and washermen, while the Nayarsand Tiyars 


have each their own. * Vaniyan ' is another form of 
' Vanijyan ' which means a * merchant.' 

All the hill and forest tribes of the present day, do 
not belong to the Negrito race alluded to in Group I, 
Some of them like the Kurumbas, the Malaiyalans 
and the Malayamans are emigrants from the plains. 
During the dynastic convulsions and terrible civil 
wars of the early Tamil period, several bands of the 
Naga tribes who were driven from the low lands took 
shelter on high mountains and in inaccessible forests, 
which had from the earliest times been under the rule 
of petty refractory chieftains called Kuru-nila-Mannar. 
Early Tamil literature tells us that there were feuda- 
tory chiefs on the Vengadam (Tirupati) hill, Kolli- 
malais, Malainad, Tomimalai, Kudirai-malai and 
Mudiram. Some of them are eulogized by ancient 
Tamil poets as the most benevolent of rulers ; while 
of the seven third-ratei Vallals {<sumsfr&)) or grantors 
of docenr some were hill chiefs. They had always 
been the allies of one or another of the three Tamil 
kings, like their remote monkey ancestors who had 
helped Sri Rama in his war with Havana. 

A study of the various sub- castes returned during 
the Census of 1891 supplemented by the latest ethno- 
logical researches should lead one to the irresistible- 

1. Three grades of donors are mentioned in Tamil literature. 
Those who give any present unasked belong to the first class;, 
those who offer what is asked belong to the second class ; and 
those who give grudgingly after much importunity belong to the: 
bird class. 


inference that Ambalakkaran, Muttiriyan, Kalian, 
Kurumban and Vanniyan belonged to the race of 
Nagas who inhabited the Northern Tamil districts, 
which constituted the ancient Pailava country or 
Tondaimandalam, When the power of the Pallavas 
was in its zenith, that is. about the sixth and seventh 
-centuries A. D., their conquests extended to the 
south as far as Trichinopoly , and it must have been 
then that the Kalian and the Muttiriyan sections of 
the great Pallava, Palii or Malla tribe migrated to the 
Chola country — Tanjore and Trichinopoly. As a 
caste name neither Palii nor Kallani occurs in 
early Tamil literature or inscriptions, but this exten- 
sive tribe was known as Pallava, and Mallava (uajevjaj/f 
Qmm, P. T.). The Pallava army was recruited from 
this martial tribe of Pallis or Kurumbas, and some of 
them were also feudal governors under the Pallava 
kings. Like the Paraiyas some of them claim their 
descent from Sambu or Siva, while all Pallis style 
themselves Vahni Kshatriyas, One section of the 
Palii or Pallava tribe, called the Muttarasar (Tel. 
Mutracha) ruled in the Chola country, first as feudato- 
ries of the Pallava and then of the Pandya kings 
during the eighth century A.D. It was during this 
period that Naladiyar was composed under the aus- 
pices of the Muttarasa governors. The Pallavas 
were the hereditary enemies of the three Tamil 
kings — Chera, Chola and Pandya — and their subjects 

1. There is a doubtful reference to the kalvars or kallar in the 
Agananuni, and it corresponds to the 'Dasyus' of the Indo-Aryans, 


were regarded as intruders in the southern districts^ 
Hence, the term Pallava has come to mean a * rogue' 
in the Tamil language, while a section of the Pallava. 
subjects who settled in the Chola and Pandya coun- 
tries received the undesirable appellation of Kallaj. 
or thieves. All these doubtless belonged to the Naga 
race, as one subdivision oi the Palli caste called the 
agavadam, Nagapasam or Nagavamsam and the oc- 
currence of such names as Mugali-Nagan, Oli-Nagan 
and Sanka-Nagan in the Mamallapuram (the Seven 
Pagodas) inscriptions will show; and they must have 
migrated from the Telugu and Canarese districts as 
soldiers of the early Pallava kings during the second 
or third century A. D. For this reason the Pallavas 
were always considered as strangers to Tamil districts 
and were never mentioned favourably m ancient 
Tamil works. As regards their connection with the 
Kurumbas and Pallars enough has been said by Mr. 
(now Sir) H. A. Stuart in the iMadras Census Report 
of 1891. 

Maravan and Eyinan occur very often in ancient 
Tamil works, and they are said to have been skilful 
bowmen and soldiers^ The Maravas were and even 
now are very numerous in the Pandya country, and 
the habitat of the Eyinas appears from time imme- 
morial to have been the Pallava and Chola countries. 
Prior lo the tenth century, the Kaikolas and 
Agambadiyas did not come into existence as dis- 
tinct castes, and the origin of the former will be- 
given presently. 


Mdaiyan' literally means a 'Middleman,' because 
in the regional grouping he came to occupy 
the middle or the pasture land. He had to live 
next to the Eyinas on whom he depended for the 
supply of cows and buffaloes.i As late as the tenth 
century A. D. a man ot any other tribe might become 
an Idaiyan or cowherd by following that profession. 
The Kallaand Samban sub-divisions of this caste con- 
nect them with the Kalians and Paraiyans. The 
latter sub-division which is by far the most numerous 
not only bears out their origin from Sambu or Siva, 
but also justifies the proximity of their residence to 
the Cheri of the Eyinas or Paraiyas in ancient Dravi- 
dian villages. The following description of atypical 
Idaiyan of old is very suggestive: — 

LDiT'Sf^U^dsms LD u^ <su ij uS SO) I— Lu ear. — Pui'. 
(The shepherd with his thick (turned down) lips, dirty 
cloth and garland of green leaves.) 

There was no such caste as Pallan, but in its stead 
we tind in early Tamil literaluie IV'allan and Kadai, 
gnan, the latter appearing as a sub-division of the 
Pallan caste. They are found chiefly in the Pandya 
country and correspond in their traditional occupaticn 
to the Palli or Vanniya caste of the Tondainadu. These 
people were agricultural labourers and soldiers. 

The origin of the lei m Shananismuch disputed and 
it is found nowhere in Tamil literature in that form» 

1. In this CLrnection lines 130-180 of the Penimlavarnip^ 
fadai might be read with advantage. 


As late as the 13th century the Shanans were known 
as Izhavans, and a tax called tlie Izha-piitchi was 
levied by Tamil kings on all toddy-drawers. They 
were surely a polluting caste in those days as now, 
and it would therefore be absurd to derive it from 
Sanron, the sun, as the educated section of the 
Shanar caste is attempting to do. According to a 
tradition current in Malabar, the toddy-drawers are 
considered immigrants from Izham or Ceylon. If this 
theory be correct, they may be regarded as a more 
civilised section of the Veddahs. And if Izham is 
taken to mean * toddy,' the Shanars must be a class 
of Pallars, allied t > the Vedar c-v Vettuvar, leading 
the settled life of palm cultivators, wuiie the other 
continues a nomadic huntmg tribe. In either case, 
it is to be observed that the Pallar and the Shanar 
castes are most numerous in the Tamil districts which 
are adjacent to Ceylon— the abode of the Veddah, 
Yaksha or Naga tribes. 

The caste names Valaiyan (net-man), Sembadavan, 
Pattanavan and Karaiyan do not occur in early 
Tamil books. Sembadavan is a boatman, Patta- 
navan is an inhabitant of a sta-coast vilhige, and 
Karaiyan is a man o^. the beach. The absence of any 
of these fishing castes from the maritime district of 
Tinnevelly is noteworthy. Probably they must have 
returned their caste name as ' Native Christian ' 
in the census of 1911. All these hshing castes form 
part of the great Naga race who lived on the South 
Indian sea-board. 


About the middle of the fourteenth century there 
were, it seems, only eighteen principal castes or 
tribes among the non-Aryan Tamils as might be 
inferred from the saying usfr(^uusiap u^QesriL® ^it^u^ld 
(the 18 castes inclusive of the Pallas and Paraiyas). 
Within the last five hundred years they have increased 
tenfold, on account of various causes which will be 
explained below. 

The elements which contributed to the break up 
of the few Dravidian tribes into iiinumetable castes 
were, (1) food, (2) occupation, (3) religion, and (4) 
locality. The Dravidians of antiquity like the Vedic 
Aryans used to eat beef, pork, venisjn, mutton and 
fish, and as late as 250 A. D. even Brahmans of 
South India appear to have been meat-eaters. But 
under the humane influence of Jainism, the Brahmans 
had ceased long before the Pauranic period to eat 
any animal ford, and some of their Dravidian neigh- 
bours followed suit. This, by the way, may be ob. 
served as a remarkable case, quite unique in the socio- 
logy of a whole people — the Brahmans— changing its 
habit from meat eating to vegetarianism. Killing of 
animals was condemned as a sin, the gravity of which 
increased according to their usefulness to the Brah- 
man's personal comforts and religious offerings. 
Thus, the cow became the most sacred animal, because 
of her five products, panchagacyain, which were 
necessary for their food and sacrifice, and the killing 
of such an animal was and is still being considered 
one of the greatest of sins. It has given rise to an 


imprecatory saying usually appended to all grants, 
VIZ, SEJGmsdssmn'uSleo smrfTihusfisaieiis Qi£n(S5T pu!TQi^^i&) Qufreu 
jrrrs&^m (may he incur the sin of having slaughtered a 
black cow on the banks of the Ganges). The Dravi- 
dians, chiefly the fighting classes, indulged very freely 
in intoxicating drinks and the manufacture and sale of 
liquor was not considered a mean occupation by the 
ancient Tamils. The simple fact that the word 
* toddy ' has at least eighty equivalent words in the 
Tamil language proves the extensive use of that 
beverage throughout the Tamil land. It was only 
after the advent of the Jains and Brahmans that 
drinking was condemned, and its sellers and produ- 
cers came to be shunned as polluting castes. 

The five artizans, potters and weavers were 
much requisitioned by all castes high and low, and 
these industries consequently tended to bring them 
in closer contact with the Brahmans. And with the 
rise of temples and other religious institutions, the 
social status of these classes began to improve. 
The Brahmans conferred on the;n flattering distinc- 
tions, high titles, and fabricated for tiiem divine 
origins, which, besides elevating their social status, 
humoured them and made them willing workers in 
the new social organisation. Thus, the seeds of all 
subsequent quarrels and dissensions were sown. All 
these Dravidian castes were granted the privilege of 
wearing the sacred thread. 

The power of a religion to rend asunder large 
tribes and races is too well known. The want of easy 


and quick communication of any kind in the Tamil 
country at the time, and the geographical conditions 
of the country accelerated this splitting up of larger 
castes and favoured the crystallisation of the smaller 

The introduction of the Indo-Aryan caste 
system in the Dravidian country produced severe 
social troubles for many centuries. If the Brah- 
mans of olden time were responsible for the super- 
imposition of their own social organization, the 
measure was one of doubtful expediency. As already 
pointed out it had been the cause of serious and 
unceasing disputes, particularly among the artizan 
classes, which those Br ah mans had to decide with 
reference to their Dharmasastras. An inscription' 
of Kulottunga Chola, dated 1118 A. D,, records the 
decision of a curious question w^hether the Kam- 
malas are entitled to wear the sacred thread. In 
support of their decision allowing the Rathakaras 
(Kammalas) to perform ' only the Upauayana (thread 
wealing ceremony) without quoting the mantras", 
the Brahmans had first to grant that they were 
the sons of Mahishyas by Karani women. A 
Mahishya is the offspring of a Kshatriya male 
and a Vaisya female, and Karani of a Vaisya 
male and a Sudra female. In the Dravidian country 
whence did the Brahmans get so many Kshatriyas 
and Vaisyas as to bring forth by illicit unions about 
650.000 Kammalas ? 

1. The Madias (jovernment'Epigraphist's Report, dated the 
28th July 1909, p. 95. 


It will be a huge task to attempt to trace the origin 
and development of every Tamil caste. We shall 
therefore take only the Eyinas or Paraiyas, which is 
perhaps the third largest of Tamil castes, and examine 
■what other castes have evolved from them and how 
they managed to secure their present social-position. 
But, by way of introduction, it is highly desirable to 
present before the reader a description of the consti- 
tution of an ancient town or village, in which the 
regional classification of tribes explained above is 
clearly discernible. 

We shall first take the city of Kanchipuram as des- 
cribed in the Perum-panarruppadai^ a Tamil work of 
the third or fourth century A. D. In the heart of the 
town were the Brahman' quarters where neither the 
dog nor the fowl could be seen'; they were flanked 
on the one side by the fishermen's {sn'^js^^ff) streets and 
on the other by those of traders (susssflaiT), and these 
were surrounded by the cheris of the Mallas or Pallas 
(&,L^e>jiT) and toddy-drawers {amea^Suoiefflir). Then, far 
removed from them were situated at one extremity 
of the city the pallis of the Idaiyans; and beyond 
these lay the isolated piini-clietis of the Eyinas and 
their chiefs. Next to th.e Malla {^.l^suit) streets were 
the temple of Tiruvehka and the royal palace of king 

By the end of the tenth century the social position 
of certain tribes was somewhat changed. The Idai- 
yans had come to occupy a higher rank on account. 


of the diffusion of the Krishna cult, while the toddy- 
drawers and the live artizan castes were still regarded 
as polluting castes and assigned separate sites 
by the side of the Paraiyas. And these may be 
illustrated by a few extracts from the Tanjore inscrip- 
tions of the great Rajaraja Chola (1004 A.D.):— 

* The village site, the pond, the sacred temples, the 
burning ground, the Vannaracheri, the pool of the 
Paraiyas (S,/./., II. i-L). The village site, the ponds, 
the sacred temples, the burning ground, the Kammala- 
cheri, the Izhacheri, Paraicheri (lb. 50). The temple 
of Pidari and its Court, the village pond and its banks, 
the temple of Aiyanar and its court, the village 
granary, the burning ground of the Vellalas, the 
burning ground of the Paraiyas, the Paraicheri, 

the Izhacheri ' (lb. 55). What relative social 

rank each of these castes held we carinni now 
definitely say. But it is tolerably certain that 
the Paraiyas, Kammalas, Izhavas and Vannans were 
all considered polluting castes as these are at present 
in Malabar and Travancore. Thus, the above 
arrangement in the constitution of a Dravidian village 
is specially noteworthy, as it combined with the 
circumstances described below to degrade the social 
position of the Paraiya descendants of the Eyina tribe. 
Of the six servile tribes — Paraiya, Pulaiya or 
Cheruma, Mala, Holaya, Palla and Madiga — which 
constitute nearly one-sixth of the population of the 
Madras Presidency, the Paraiya is by far the most 
important and interesting. They are found chiefiy 


in the districts of Arcot, Chingleput and Tanjore 
where the Eyina tribe had formerly hved and where 
numberless cromlechs and kistvaens abound to this 
very day. The term Paraiyan as a caste, or more 
correctly an occupational, name first occurs in a 
poem of Mangudi Kilar, second century A. D. 

^L^iLKSsr urremeisr ussipiussr si—ihuQsmek 

fBiBiBiT&sr s&)&.)^ (^u^u^uSe\)'2e\}. — Pltr. 
Here * Tudiyan ' means one who plays on the 
Tudi or a kind of drum peculiar to the hill or jungle 
tribe; 'Panan' is a minstrel ; 'Paraiyan' is a drum" 
mer ; and 'Kadamban' is a hill man. All these are 
occupational names and seem to refer to four sections 
of the Kurinji (hill) or Palai (jungle) tribes. Besides 
this casual reference, we do not find the name 
Paraiyan mentioned either in early Tamil literature 
or in the inscripti(3ns, until we come down to the 
time of the great Rajaraja Chola (A. D. 10.13), from 
which! period it evidently obtained currency as a 
caste denomination. It is commonly derived from 
parai, a drum by Dr, Caldwell and native writers. 
This etymology though plausible and tempting seems 
unsatisfactory, as it is inconceivable that the beat- 
ing of drums could be the occupation of nearly two 
and a half millions of labourers, while the Murasu or 
the drum-beating section of that comprehensive 
caste forms only j}^ih part of it. The more accu- 
rate derivation seems to be that of Col. Cunningham, 
M. Letourneau and Dr. Oppert from the Sanskrit 
pahariyn, a hill man, or from Tamil Poraian, which 


is more in keeping with the regional division assign- 
ed to the Eyinas by the ancient Tamil grammarians. 
According to the inscription already referred to, 
the Paraiyas were divided in ancient times into at 
least two sub-divisions the Ulavu (ploughing) and 
Ncsavu (weaving) ; and there probably existed many 
more occupational groups among them, like Panan 
&c. Some of the most significant of the sub-divisions 
returned by them in the Census of 1891 were, — Valluva, 
Kottai, Kottakara, Jambu, Virabahu, Panikka, Koliya, 
Saliya, Kurava and Ambu. The Valhivas are the 
priests to the Paraiyas, and were formerly superinten- 
dents of religious ceremonies (more probably con- 
ductors of funeral obsequies) in a kmg's household : 

This may not look strange if we only remem- 
ber that the Marayans, (a barber caste) officiate as 
pnroliits at the funeral rites of the Nambudri or ' Vedic' 
Brahmans of IMalabar. The Valluvas were also 
heralds under the Tamil kings. 

!Bmusap ujsmnoiB^eariT. — Kci^ll. 
(The Valluvan proclaimed the news beat of 
drum from the back of an elephant.) 

KottiU is a fort ; Kottakarmn is a granary, for in 
ancient days the land-tax was levied in kind as well 
as in money ; Saiiibn is Siva and Virabahu is one of 
the mythical commanders of Siva ; Panikkan is a 
teacher ; Koliyan and Saliyiin are weavers ; Kunivan 


is a hill man ; and Ambit is an arrow. The Eyinas- 
were considered good archers. 

All these point to their former greatness, the 
vestiges thereof still survive in the form of rights 
and privileges which cling to them in the village 
organization. The settlement of a land dispute by 
one Vesali Paraiyan and his councillors regarding 
the ownership of a field belonging to a temple at the 
village of Mudepakavar is mentioned in an inscription 
of the eleventh century; and the Paraiyar's decision 
was deemed final and absolute.i 

The Eyinas or hunters of the above districts 
were the earliest of the Naga-Dravidian tribes 
to clear the forests of Dandakaranya and Shada- 
ranya for purposes of cultivation and to build 
small forts therein for their safety. Such of them 
as had been employed in the clearing of jungles 
came to be called the Vettiyan (hewers), while others 
engaged in the sinking of wells and the digging of 
tanks for irrigation grew up into the tdii {tondit, to 
dig) or digger caste. As early as the third or fourth 
century A. D. they had their chieftains reigning at 
Ambur, Vellore and other places. The Eyinas had 
well supplied granaries {kotlakaram) and strong forts 
{eyil) with deep ditches and lofty walls ; they had 
musicians and dancers (Panans) to amuse them when 
out of work; they had priests (Valluvans), carpenters, 
masons, weavers (Koliyans), gymnastic instructors 

1. The Madras Government Epigraphist's Report, dated the 
25th July 1910, p. 94. 


(Panikkans), shoe-makers (Semman), barbers, washer- 
men and what not. The Paraiyas, or the modern 
representatives of the ancient Eyinas, as Dr. Caldwell 
rightly observes, thus constituted 'a well defined, dis- 
tinct ancient caste independent of every other'. The 
high honour of founding villages in the south during 
the remote period belonged to the sylvan ancestors 
of the despised Paraiyas. They were the mayors and 
aldermen of the villages they had established, and 
this is even now recognized by all other castes in the 
old custom of referring any boundary dispute to a 
Paraiya, Toti or a Holeya Kulavadi, And in almost 
all tlie ancient village ceremonies of a communal 
nature, the Paraiyas play an important part. For 
example, on the occasion of any festival of Siva at 
Tiruvalur in the Tanjore district, a Paraiyan has an 
hereditary right to precede the god's procession 
holding a white umbrella. A detailed account of 
the existing customs observed in various places 
cannot, however, conveniently be given here. 

So much for their forgotten greatness. But with 
the advent of the Indo-Aryans about the second 
century A.D. there came a change in the constitution 
of the Paraiya tribe, their food and occupation 
contributing largely to their self-degradation. It lias 
been said above that there were amongst them people 
following all sorts of pursuits. The social standing 
of those men w^ho had been following occupaaons 
indispensible to the well-being of the Brahmans rose 
high in the long run and they now pass for high 


caste Hindus. Of course, learned Brahmans dis- 
covered decent Hindu pedigrees for the low but 
highly serviceable tribes and stamped them with the 
seal of sanctity in the name of pnmnas. 

The Kaikolas, who trace their descent from 
Virabahu, one of the nine commanders of god 
Subrahraanya, seem to have been originally (before 
the tenth century A.D.) Eyina weavers like the Koliya 
Paraiyas, though some of them have very recent- 
ly caught the infection of wearing the sacred thread 
to claim an equal position with the high caste Hindus. 
Five reasons may be adduced in favour of this origin: 

(1) They are chiefly found in the districts where 
the Paraiyas and Brahmans are most numerous — S. 
Arcot, Tanjore, and Trichinopoly. 

(2) The word Kaikolan is simply the Tamil 
equivalent of the Sanskrit ' Virabahu', a mythological 
hero from whom both the Kaikolas and a section of 
the Paraiyas claim descent. 

('.')) It is said that they were formerly soldiers 
like the Eyinas and Paraiyas, under a monkey-faced 
king named Muchukundan; and that the art of weav- 
ing was taught to them by Tiru-Valluvar at the com- 
mand of Subrahmanya, the patron deity of the Kaiko- 
las and other Xaga trioes. Two of the Tillaistanam 
(Neyltanam) inscriptions of Gandaraditya (A. D. 960) 
record the gifts made by ' Samara Kesari-terinja Kaiko- 
lar, Vikrama-Singa-terinja Kaikolar and Virachola 
terinja-Kaikolar'.i They were natives of Tanjore and 
1. The Madias Government Epi^jraphisl's Report dated the 
■29th July 1912. 


served as soldiers under the Chola king Parantaka I. 
(A. D. 90G-949). Other inscriptions of a later date 
speak of the Rajaraja-termja-Kaikular and the Kaikola- 
Perumpadai. All these clearly prove that the word 
•* Kaikolar,' like ' Velakkarar ' and ' Viliiyar ' (archers), 
which occur in the inscriptions of Rajaraja Chola I, 
was the name of the regiment enlisted or selected 
(terinja) by Parantaka, whose titles were Samara Kesari 
(the war-lion), Vikrama-Singa and Vira Chola and by 
Rajaraja I. One of the soldiers of the above regiment 
was a Kadikavan Kalian. They were known also as 
Sengundar or the ' Red Lancers.' 

(4) In the inscriptions of Rajaraja Chola, (A. D- 
1013) the loom {iarJ) of the Kaikolas does not occur 
though the Parai-tari, Tusa-tari (washerman) and 
Saliya-tari are given. 

(5) In ancient Tamil literature the weavers w^ere 
called Kammiyan, a term which also included the 
present Kammaias. 

simjSujit luQJssr QjirsSujIr eS^^siT 

SLDUiiTefriT ^u^iuiT QufT^uQuLuiT ^LLQstaiT. — pi/i<^. 788. 

It Will be interesting to learn that the earjy 
Tamils were never good weavers. They had to 
depend upon their Telugu neighbours for cloths of 
finer texture. Thus superior cloths have come to be 
called in Tamil kaUngam, In the Tamil country 
coarse weaving was done by a section of the Paraiyas 
or Eyinas. Dissatisfied with the quality of the work 
.turned out by the Tamils, probably Rajaraja Chola 


brought the Saliya-weavers from Kalingam, the moderm 
Telugu districts of Vizagapatam, Godavariand Kistna. 
From them probably the Eyina weavers or Kammi- 
yans learnt during the eleventh century A. D. how 
to weave finer cloths. Since the earliest mention of 
Kaikolan as a caste name is found in a Conjeevaram 
inscription of the fourteenth century, it is highly 
probable that this class of weavers began to be 
recognised as a distinct Hindu caste of some stand- 
ing, between the eleventh and fourteenth centuries, 
when the greatest Kaikola poet, Ottaikuttan, com- 
manded a great influence at the court of Kulottunga 
Chola (1150 A. D.)- And it happened probably a few 
years after the Kamnialas were granted the privilege 
of wearing the sacred thread- 

Again, to take another instance, the Panans- 
were minstrels under the ancient Tamil kings, 
and with the extinction of the latter in South India their 
profession as bards ceased to exist, most of them find- 
ing their way into Kerala.theLand of Charity, for a live- 
lihood. The descendants of these emigrants are now 
found in Malabar and Canara as devil-dancers and 
basket-makers. On the other hand, the Panans of the 
Tamil country, especially those living in Madura and 
Tinnevelly style themselves Pandya Vellalas and earn 
their bread as tailors. They are also called Mestris,. 
which is a Portuguese word introduced by the early 
Roman Catholic Missionaries, under whom the Paraiya 
Panans served as workmen. The low origin of th& 


Panans is, however, betrayed by about 5 per cent, of 
that caste who Hve in out-of-the-way villages of the 
Madura district returning Paraiya as the name of 
their main caste. 

The Semman is anotbef important sub-division of 
theParaiyas, whose existence is almost unknown out- 
side the districts of Madura and Tuineveily. It was 
once a numerous caste of Tamil leather-workers, 
{Ljs<sfrnoQ^fr/r)_^^esriT Q^s^imld.jit. — Nig.). Since the immig- 
ration of the Telugu and Canarese Madigas or Chak- 
kiliyans, sometime after the fifteenth or sixteenth cen- 
tury, the Semmans have almost entirely given up 
their traditional occupation, and adopted, like the 
Panans, menial services in villages and tailoring and 
lime selling in towns. 

We shall content ourselves with one more instance 
furnished to us by the artizan castes, whose social 
status has undergone within the past nine centuries a 
thorough change which never could have been 
dreamt of by their humble ancestors. 

The Kammalas assert that they are the descend- 
ants of Visvakarma the architect of the gods, and in 
many parts of the country they wear the sacred 
thread calling themselves Visva-, Deva-, or Devagna- 
Brahmans and deliberately refuse to give precedence 
to the Brahmans. Without going into the details of 
their origin we shall simply indicate a few reasons to 
prove that they are one of the undoubted Naga 


tribes, i forming an advanced section of, or closely 
allied to, the Eyinas of the Tamil country. 

(1) The Dharma Sastras, a social code common 
to all Hindus, assign no place to the Kammalas in the 
Hindu caste system, purely because they stood out of 
the Aryan pale ; and this fact has been clearly brought 
out by the author of the Ramayana. Further, it is 
said that the artisans were supplied by the mixed 
classes — a theory strongly confirmed by the ancient 
decision already quoted. 

(2) It is generally supposed, even in Upper 
India, that all the artisan castes and weavers were 
begotten of a Sudia woman by the celestial 
architect Visvakarma, from whom also the Kolis 
of the United-Provinces, a weaver caste allied to 
the Koliya Paraiyans of Madras, trace their descent. 
^ They worship Sakti and village deities and are, as a 

rule, considered undesirable neighbours in a village.' 

(3) Tamil inscriptions prove that as late as A. D.. 
1013 the Kammalas were regarded as a polluting 
caste like the Izhuvans and Paraiyans and were not 
allowed to live within the villages, or to blow con- 
ches and beat drums on the marriage and funeraJ 
occasions, or to plaster their houses with mud or 
chunam, or even to wear shoes. And it appears that 

1. With this compare what Mr. Charles Johnston, I. C. S, 
sajs on the subject: 'It is probable that among them [black Dravi- 
dians] first grew up the system of trade guilds which gradually 
developed into hereditary caste of artisans and craftsmen, the chief 
of which are the workers in gold, brass, iron, stone and wood'. The 
black Dravidians' are our Nagas. 


they were regarded as slaves and given from time to 
time certain privileges since the twelfth century A. D.i 
(4) In Kerala (Malabar and Travancore), a country 
first colonized largely by the Tamils, a country where 
caste rules and observances have been scrupulously 
maintained for several centuries, the Kammalas 
occupy a low position in the social scale and are 
regarded by the other people of that district (probably 
on the authority of the Vaikhanasa Dharmasura) as 
a polluting caste like the Tamil Kammalas of the ele- 
venth century. They are allowed neither to wear the 
sacred thread as in the other parts of the Presi- 
dency, nor to enter the houses of castemen, except 
during construction, which when completed undergo 
purification, a custom still followed in the Tamil 
districts. As late as the fourteenth century the 
Kammalas and the Vaniyans (oil-pressers) were con- 
sidered as slaves in Malabar. This we learn from the 
Kottayam plates of Viraraghava Chakravarti wherein 
it is stated thus : — 

(We have given the Vaniyas and the five Kam- 
malas as slaves.) 

The Kammalas of Malabar and of the Tamil dis- 
tricts must h^ive descended from the same stock of 
the Naga-Dravidian artisans mentioned in the early 
Tamil literature and inscriptions already referred to, 
though, on account o-f difference in circumstances 
which will be explained hereafter, the former have 
1 South Indian Inscriptions, Vol. Ill, p. 47. 


retained their original ' distance pollution/ while 
the latter have risen so far in social scale as to claim 
equality with the Brahmans. 

(5) The custom of burying their dead, partiality 
to the worship of Kali anrl other village deities, and 
the entire absence of Vishnu worship seem to 
connect them with the pre-Dravidian or aboriginal 
Naga tribes. 

Thus it will be seen that the claims of the Kam- 
malas for Brahmanhood are not based upon any re- 
cognised Veda, Sastra, Itihasa or Purana, and that 
their arguments in its favour are opposed toto ccelo 
to customs and usages prevalent at any period of 
Indian history. 

Now with regard to the fo-)d of the Eyina tribe of 
hunters, the 'Ten Tamil Idylls' and the Purananuru 
say that they ate pork and the flesh of the wild cow 
and freely indulged in spirituous liquors. 

sruSismiT ^i^ QiSuiLLcrTQssrjjS^sms^u 

(oS3U(^(^sa!srujQu(VTj^^ ua^-Qeum sttlo^. — Pill'. 

^The new white rice boiled with the flesh of the 
swine just killed by the Eyinas.) 

^maesr (^lLl^sst <ss)LDSu(ruQu^i^(sSliT^ — Sir. 

(Thou shall get the hot rice cooked by the 
Eyina women with sweet tamarind and roasted beef.) 
Even after a lapse of nearly fifteen centuries we see no 
change in the food of their Paraiya descendants. Some 
of them are said to eat frogs, a strange habit which 
connects the.ii with the V'anadis of Nellore. 


To the Hindus the cow is a sacred animal as 
well as the bull, the Vahana of Siva, the killing and 
eating of which are abominable. Not less hateful is 
the use of intoxicating drinks. It was therefore 
natural that the people who ate beef and drank liquors 
should be treated by Brahmans as a filthy polluting 
Caste. From the Brahmanical standpoint the best 
recommendation for a non-Aryan tribe to rise higher 
in the social scale was the giving up of the above 
practice. The Kaikolans, Panans, Semmans and 
Kammalas did so, and we can see the good relation 
between ihem and the Brahmans. 

But above all, the primary cause of the revolution 
in the organisation of the Paraiya tribes seems to 
have been the Brahman exclusiveness. They did not 
allow the Paraiyas and the polluting castes generally 
even to enter their agmharams and villages. A 
careful perusal of * Nandan's Life' will give our 
readers some idea as to how these Paraiya labourers 
were treated by the Tamil Brahmans. The influence 
of the Brahmans is now gone ; and their power is 
crippled by the stronger Anglo-Saxon race, who 
have assumed, as Leyden naively remarked, the 
character of Kshatriyas in the estimation of the 
subdued Brahmans, while the beef-eating Paraiyas 
are still looked down as being outside the Hindu 
social system thougii admitted to be Hindus in 

Among the Paraiyas the sub-division that first suf- 
fered from the Brahman domination was the Ulavu 


Paraiyans, who now form about 50 per cent, of that 
labouring class. They had to work in the fields 
all day long without having any access to the 
Brahman lord. They, toiling and moiling on the 
fields, which were once their own but were wrested 
from them by the Tamil kings to encourage and 
support the Brahman advisers and their religious 
institutions, became as it were, a part and parcel of 
their rice fields. Their masters changed with the 
change of ownership of land. Thus arose the predial 
slavery which, however, was put down when the 
country passed luckily into the hands of the British. 

With the exception of the dog-eating Navadis- 
of Malabar, the Paraiyas are supposed to carry 
with them a high degree of pollution, so that 
even the Pulaiyas and Holayas of the West Coast 
and the Khonds of Vizagapatam think they will 
be defiled by the mere touch of a Paraiya. 
What is pollution then according to the Hindu 
notion ? It is something imaginary, flowing out of 
the social gravitation which exists between an Aryan 
and a non-Aryan Hindu. The degree of the pollu- 
tion varies mversely with the degree of adoption of 
the Brahmanical customs and manners. The Parai- 
yas were stubborn and the least inclined to adopt 
them, and consequently their approach within a 
radius of thirty yards has been considered polluting 
to a high caste Hindu. The hatred which existed 
between the early Dravidians and Aryans is best 


preserved in the Kuricchan's (a hill tribe in Malabar, 
corresponding to the Kuravas of the Tamil country) 
custom of plastering their huts with cow-dung to 
remove the pollution caused by the entrance of a 
Brahman. During the past three centuries the Jesuit 
and other Missionaries on the one hand, and the 
Siddhar School of Tamil philosophers on the other, 
we are glad to observe, have been working to elevate 
these classes and alleviate the evils arising out of 
their social degradation, which has rendered their 
position anything but happy. 

THE TAMIL CASTES— (continued). 

In the last chapter it has been shown that among the 
ancient Tamils there was no caste system similar to 
that of the Aryans ; that most of the Tamil castes of 
modern times, probably with the exception ot the 
Vellalas, could be traced to the ancient Nagas and 
to some of the hill and forest tribes ; that it took 
at least five centuries for these castes to attain their 
present position in the social economy of the 
•country ; that the present diversity of castes was 
caused by the differences in food, occupation, religious 
beliefs and the physical condition of the countries 
inhabited by them ; and that the Brahmans were in- 
strumental in bringing about this result, though the 
precise extent to which their influence prevailed is a 
matter not easily determmable. This applies to all 
the non-Aryan castes and tribes of Southern India. 

The introduction and expansion of the caste system 
;among the Dravidian Tamils had in course of time 
bred discontent, jealousy and mutual hatred in their 
social life, which in the end culminated in the dis- 
putes of the ' right and left hand factions,' into which 
the whole Dravidian society was divided. A.nd this 
division has been the cause of endless feuds and 
mischief from the time of its inception. 

About the middle of the fifteenth century 
i(1449 A. D.) the inhabitants of the kingdom of 
Padaividu in the North Arcot District appear to 


have been divided into three factions irrespective 
of their nationality, creed or occupation — isjeoiisias 
LLju) ^L^iKiss)3iLjii) LDsrr^sisr(ip}i — (the right-hand, the 
left-hand and the mahajanam, t. <?., the Brahmans). 
Again, on the 5th November 1G52, that is within fif- 
teen years after the foundation of Fort St, George,, 
the inhabitants of Madras were fighting for certain 
privileges and disturbing the public peace and 
safety to such an extent that the authorities of the 
East India Company were obliged to call on the 
heads of the respective factions to draw up an agree- 
ment settling all the diflferences between the right- 
hand and left-hand castes. Some sixty years after 
this, the same tragedy was enacted once more at 
Chintadripetta, a suburban colony of artizans and 
merchants, the dispute arising out of the right claim- 
ed by certain Chetties or traders to recite Sanskrit 
Mantras before the idol of Vignesvara. Now coming 
to the last century, the contest was fought with 
renewed vigour among the impoverished inhabitants 
of Seringapatam. This town, shortly after it had 
fallen into the hands of the English, was found 
divided into two portions, one occupied mainly by 
the adherents of the right-hand faction and the other 
by the upholders of the left. And it is also said that 
the faction feuds were so rampant there, that the 
British Government was driven to the necessity of 
prohibiting for a time marriage and other proces- 
sions within the Fort in order to preserve public 
peace and tranquillity. About thirty years ago another 


quarrel ensued at Dummagudam in the Godavari 
district, which, however was immediately put down. 
It was on the occasion of a marriage in the Kamsali 
caste, the ring-leader being a Madras Paraiyan. 
Moreover, this jealousy in guarding the rights under- 
lying the factious feud has very often led to painful 
litigation and prosecutions in the Civil and Criminal 
Courtsof Chittur, Salem and Chingleput. Unlike other 
segregating forces it extended its evil influences 
even among members of the same families while the 
caste system has only divided the people into 
ethnic, territorial, professional or sectarian classes. It 
is no wonder then that it has attracted the attention 
of ethnologists ; but none has yet been able to throw 
sufficient light on its origin or subsequent history. 

An enquiry regarding the probable date of the 
genesis ot the faction and its subsequent growth will 
not, it is hoped, be uninteresting to the reader ; and 
it is not without some confidence that the following 
explanation based on a rather prolonged and careful 
study of the subject is offered, in the belief that it 
carries with it at least the merit of historic probabili- 
ty. And in order to get a correct idea of the minute 
details of this curious distinction, an accurate his- 
torical account of each and every caste comprised 
within the division is highly desirable.i But the lists 

1. Brief historical notices of some of the most important castes 
which are given in the statement will oe found in Chapter X of the 
Madras Census Report for 1891, and in the Caste Glossary appended 
to the Report on the Census of 1901. 



we have examined <*ive conflicting accounts of the 
several castes, which will be noticed later on. 
Nevertheless, we subjoin a tolerably correct state- 
ment which exhibits the names of important caste 
^nd the traditional occupations followed by the 
members thereof prior to their division into these 
social factions : — 


Occupation : Right-hand. 




Vellan Chetti. 



f Beri Chetti, 
I Vaniyans 

(who yoke two 









r Madiga or 

J Chakkilian. (Males.) 

[ (females) 

f Malaiman, 

I Nattaman, 

J Falh (females), f Bedar, 

] Vedan or Vettuvan^ Palli (Males) 

[ Paraiyan, Mala [ Pall an, 

(_and Holeya. 

Of these the Mala, Holeya and Paraiyan were raost- 
iy held labjar^rs ; and the Kaikolans were soldiers. 
As a rule, m )st of tue lab jurin4 classes and hunters 
were enlisted as sepoys by the Tamil kmgs. All the 


other South Indian castes not mentioned in the 
above table belong either to the right-hand faction 
or to the left, or hold with the Brahmans a neutral 
attitude in the dispute. It will be curious to note 
that later immigrants in South India such as the 
Musalmans, Guzaratis, Marwaris and Patnulkars are 
classed with right-hand castes. This strange dissen- 
sion, which is confined only to South India, exists 
in no other part of the country. Similar distinctions 
may still be found among the Sakti worshippers of 
Bengal ; but this religious sect does not seem to 
have any connection whatever with the social division 
of the non-Brahmanical castes of the Madras Presi- 
dency. The members of the two divisions struggle 
for certain honorary distinctions, such as the use of 
twelve pillars in the marriage pandal. the beating of 
five big drums on certain ceremonial occasions, the 
ride on horse-back or the carrying of a monkey flag. 
These privileges are claimed by the right-hand castes 
on all public and festive occasions, and whenever 
any of these privileges are exercised by a member of 
the left-hand faction, fights usually occur. 

The Pancham Banajigas of the Canarese pro- 
vince, the Paraiyas of the Tamil districts and the 
Malas of the Andhra country are the strenuous sup- 
porters of the right-hand division. They are assisted 
by the Holeyas in Mysore and Canara, and by the 
weavers in the Tamil and Telugu districts. The left- 
hand division is commanded throughout the presi- 
dency by the Kammalas^ Kamsalis or Panchalas with 


the indefatigable assistance of the Madigas or Chakki- 
lians. But for the zealous support of these degraded 
classes, this enemy of public peace would have dis- 
appeared from the land several centuries ago. J 

Yet SLich a distinction, notwithstanding Dr. Mac- 
leane's statement to the contrary, is not maintained 
with so much zeal and pertinacity in the Tamil dis- 
tricts as in the Canarese and the Telugu parts of 
Southern India. The Pallis or Vanniyas have, in 
their fond hope of becoming Kshatriyas, forgotten all 
about the feuds ; many Kaikolas have, in order 
to wipe off the so-called tribal or rather the social 
indignity still clinging to the left-hand faction, be. 
come within the last six centuries dancers and singers 
in Hindu temples as the following Kanchipuram 
inscription will show : — 

Qsii'SirsfTS SL^euiT ^ssiju). — (S. /. /. I. 122.) 

[May sell or mortgage the head-ship, the right of 
lease, service to god (dancing, &c.), and weaving.] 

Again the Kammalas in asserting that they are 
the Deva-or Visva-Brahmans not only try to conceal 
their Naga origin but also take shelter in a tradition 
that all the above privileges were granted to them 
by Kali, and that 'they are of the highest rank hav- 
ing been placed by that goddess on her left-hand 
side which in India is the place of honour.' Further, 
before the introduction of this distinction in iVIalabar 
by the later settlers from the surrounding Tamil and 


Canarese districts, this inter-caste dispute was a thing 
quite unknown to the Malaiyahs, and even now it 
exists only among the weavers and Canarese immi- 
grants. Thus as a matter of fact the dispute is practi- 
cally confined only to the lowest castes — Paraiyas, 
Holeyas and Madigas — occasionally encouraged by 
the Kammalas. 

The origin of this distinction is involved in obscur- 
ity; but it is clear that it is purely a Dravidian schism, 
though countenanced, and even sometimes fomented 
covertly, by the later Aryan immigrants in the south. 
Many traditions, however, have been manufactured 
either by the Brahmans to elevate the status of the 
low but serviceable tribes of the Dravidian race, or 
by the busy and ingenious artizans, who scarcely let 
slip an opportunity to elevate their low position. 
And in proof of it we give below a story current 
among the Kammalans. The tradition, perverted and 
mutilated though it be, so as to support their chimeri- 
cal claims for a higher social status, is not alto- 
gether devoid of an historical interest, as it seems 
to suggest the probable age and origin of this 
endless dispute. ' The Panchalas (artizans) say they 
were the hereditary priests for the royal family 
of the Cholas. During the reign of Parimalan, 
Vedavyasan waxed jealous of their influence in the 
kingdom and devised a scheme to oust them from 
their spiritual office. Accordingly he murdered the 
king while out hunting and raised his illegitimate son 
to the throne. This event was followed by unpleas- 


ant results. The people refused to cultivate, and 
tumult and disorder ruled everywhere. The king 
therefore declared that ;iU people who supported him 
should be called the right-hand people. A neigh- 
bouring Rajah hearing of this, invaded Kalingam and 
carried off its king as captive, for dismissing the 
Panchalas and appointing Vyasan, and for dividing 
the people into the right-hand and left-hand castes.' 
Another old tradition of equally historical value says 
that the division into the right-hand and left-hand 
castes took its origin from the command of the god- 
dess Kali at Kanchipuram (the seat of so many religi- 
ous and political changes) where, it is said, exists 
to this day special halls for the two parties call- 
ed the eueosaasLDsmi—ULD and ^L-iW'SSiSLDsmL^ULh. It 
is further stated that the pagoda at Conjeevaram 
has a copper-plate bearing inscriptions which give 
the origin of this queer distinction of castes. 
Though both parties referred to it, neither of them, 
it appears, could produce this important document 
before the Zillah Court of Salem or Chittur in the 
course of litigation between the two irreconcilable 
factions. It appears, however, that the Kammalas 
have forged a series of copper plates (dated 1098 SS.) 
in favour of the left-hand faction to justify its prefer- 
ence over the right-hand in matters social, l 

All that we can infer at present from the above 
stories is, that some Dravidian castes such as the 
Valluvas, were priests or pnrohits to tha Tamil kings 
1. The Madras Govt. Epigraphist's Report dated July 1910. 


before the arrival of Brahmans, and that the arrange- 
ment of the Dravidian castes into two grand divisions 
(the right and left hands) took place at Kanchipuram 
under the royal command of a Chola king. In this 
connection it would be well to remember the origin 
and former social position of the Valluvas which have 
already been explained. 

Various suggestions have been made concerning 
the probable origin of the dispute between the right- 
hand and left-hand factions. One writer in the Indian 
Antiquary (Vol. V) says * it does appear to have been 
caused by some person or persons who were strang- 
ers to South India '. But who that person or persons 
could have been he does not say. Another writer 
tells us that it is a dispute between the principal 
artificers and the agricultural, mercantile and other 
classes ; while a third observes that tlie ' distinc- 
tion arises primarily from the land-owners and their 
serfs being the heads of one class, and the Brahmans, 
the artisans and other interlopers, form the other '. 
The last view is maintained by the Superintendent of 
Census in Mysore (1891) who goes on to say 
that the origin of this irreconcilable faction is due 
to the professional jealousy that existed between the 
indigenous mercantile community and the larger and 
more powerful traders. This is, no doubt, borne out 
by the alternative names of the factions, Desa 
(foreign) and Peta or Nadu (native) which are cur- 
rent only in the Mysore State. But the quarrel 
is fqund throughout the presidency and is not 


confined to the circumscribed limits of that pro- 
vince ; and there are no grounds to assign to it 
a western origin. Since co-operation and combined 
effort are necessary to the wellbeing of a nation why 
should the cultivating classes be always at enmity 
with the Kammalas ? We leain from the inscrip- 
tions already referred to that the Brahmans adhered 
to neither side, though some lists erroneously mention 
them as partizans. The serfs of the cultivating castes, 
namely, the Pallis, Pallars &c., were included in the 
left while their masters, the Vellalas, espoused the 
right-hand division. The very fact of the inclusion 
of the Telugu and Canarese Madigas and Bedarsand 
the Tamil Pallars and Pallis in the left-hand faction 
goes to confirm the origin of this dispute from out- 
side the Kalinga, Karnataka, Pallava and Pandya 
countries ; and the exclusion from it of the corres- 
ponding Tamil castes — Malaiman, Vedan and Paraiya 
— seems to point out the Chola kingdom as the land 
of its origin. 

To call into existence such a powerful and 
wide-spread social division, a single cause of smal^ 
magnitude would never suffice. It has, therefore, been 
suggested by Rao Bahadur M. Ranga Charyar that 
this division originated from the Dravidian family 
organization during its passage 'from the matriarchal 
to the patriarchal state'. He says that 'in their families 
...the mother seems to have been the head thereof 
and property seems to have descended from the 
mother to the daughter '. And in proof of the 


universal existence of this matriarchal system among 
the early Dravidians he adduces two facts : (1) In 
the Dravidian languages ' the name for the father- 
in-law and the maternal uncle is the same ; for 
the mother-in-law and the paternal aunt is the same '. 
(2) 'The division is unknown in Malabar, because its 
people never passed from the matriarchal to the 
patriarchal condition'. ' The eighteen communities 
of the right-hand side seem to have approved of the 
change, while the nine communities of the left-hand 
side seem to have opposed it'. Mr. Rice also observes 
that there is a 'doubtful passage in the Mahawanso 
which may be supposed to refer to it, and if so, the 
institution would seem to be of great antiquity '; and 
in support of it he quotes a tradition that ' when the 
Pand5'a princess was sent from Madura to Ceylon, in 
response to an embassy from Vijaya soliciting her 
hand in marriage, she is said (according to one version) 
to have been accompanied by a thousand members 
of the eighteen castes and five different clans of 
workmen '. 

With due deference to the two high authorities 
quoted above, I doubt very much the tenability of 
their arguments in support of the origin and antiquity 
of the dispute for the following reasons : — 

It has been shown in the last essay that 
there was no caste system among the ancient Dravi- 
dians like that which we find amongst them in 
modern times. Then how did the 18 panas or castes 
of the right-hand and the 9 panas of the left come 


into existence so early as the sixth century B. C. ? 
The above tradition, therefore, seems to us a post facto 
concoction of the Canarese people; and in the 
whole range of Tamil literature, especially of the 
early period, there is no reference to this 'ancient' 
social division, though it was of such vital importance. 
Further, there is not the slightest vestige of the 
matriarchal system in South India except in Kerala 
and in the Pendiikkii Meykki sub-caste of the Idaiyans 
of the Madura District. 

In the Dravida country, as everywhere else, 
the lowest castes and the hill and forest tribes are the 
least affected by, or are very slow to adopt, the Aryan 
civilisation, and even amongst them the matriarchal 
system was unknown. Malabar and Travancore are 
no exceptions to this principle. Here the transition 
from the patriarclial to the matriarchal state is 
in various stages. Most of the polluting castes and 
all the aboriginal tribes follow the Makkatayam 
system as in the other parts of India, while the 
Ambalavasis, Saliyans, Tiyans and others, who may 
be said to be in a state of transition, follow both the 
Makkatayam and the Marumakkatayam system of 
inheritance. This is doubtless due to the influence 
of the Nayars and to a desire to imitate the custom 
of higher castes. Among the non-polluting (by 
distance) castes it is only the so-called Kshatriyas 
and the Nayars, whose females had and still have 
Sanibandani or marital relationship with the Nam- 
budri Brahmans, that have adopted completely the 


Marumakkatayam system. It is thus clear that the 
matriarchal system of Malabar should have come 
into existence only after the arrival of the Brahmans 
into the Kerala country, and that the patriarchal 
system alone has been in vogue for ages everywhere 
in South India since the earhest historic times. 
Whether the matriarchal system was entirely due to 
the influence of the Nambudri Brahmans or 
whether there had been other causes at work in that 
direction, it is beyond the scope of this essiy to 

As for the absence of this division from Kerala, 
it may be said that this disaffection did not find its 
way amongst the non-Brahman castes of that country 
on account of the iron-hand of the Nambudris, 
which kept them down under its strong grip. Fur- 
ther, the people of Kerala led a comparatively simple 
life, as at present ; there was no building of large 
temples; and there was no such demand for skilful 
labour of the artizans and weavers as in the Tamil 
districts. The Kammalas, therefore, never aspired for 
Brahmanhood, nor did the Nambudris invest them 
with the sacred thread as the Brahmans in the other 
parts of India did. 

The forms of marriage prevalent among the 
ancient Dravidians weie gandharvaut (Tarn, sotraii) 
and rakshascim or marriage by capture as we have 
shown in a previous essay. And the marriage tie 
was so loose that it could be broken at tlie will of 
either party as we now see among the lowest castes. 


In this state of connubial relationship there was no 
need for terms to express the idea of a 'father-in-law' 
or a 'mother-in-law.' The early Dravidians had no 
words for father's sister, mother's brother, &c., 
their relationship being confined only to father, 
mother, brother and sister. Thus the term niaina 
(Tam. miTLDrr) was borrowed from Sanskrit, and the 
meaning of aitai (Tamil, ^^ew^), which is also not a 
Dravidian word, is so vague and indefinite that it 
meant in Tamil mother, elder sister, mother-in-law, 
father's sister and the teacher's wife. Similarly akka 
and aminai are both mother and elder sister ; aiyan, 
father-in-law, mother's brother, etc. Then, these 
words do not help us in the least to infer one way or 
the other regarding the matriarchal or the patriarchal 
theory, except that the Dravidians were in a very 
primitive state destitute of terms to express any rela" 
tionship other than father, mother and children. 

Turning now to the origin of the dispute, we find 
from a careful study of the Tamil inscriptions and the 
history of the South Indian castes that there are three 
obvious causes. The first and the most important is 
the political dissension which led to the final over- 
throw of the powerful kingdoms of the Pallavas(wliich 
besides other provinces then embraced the modern 
state of Mysore) and the Pandyas. They were the 
hereditary enemies of the Cholas ; the very name 
Pallava was hateful to them ; and the Pallava gods 
of Kanchipuram shared the miserable fate of the 
Pallava kings and their subjects. As the Kanchi- 


puram inscriptions of Kampana Udaiyar will show, 
the Pallava temples were closed for a long period of 
nearly three centuries, and their lands alienated by a 
Choliyan edict. About the ninth century A. D. the 
Pallavas were defeated by the Chola and Chalukyan 
kings in a series of battles, after which the vast em- 
pire was broken up into small principalities such 

as Gangaipadi, Nulambapadi, Tadigaipadai, &c. 

Agam, in the first quarter of the eleventh century 

Rajaraja Chola, the richest and one of the mightiest 
of the Chola sovereigns, invaded and conquered Vengi 
Nadu, Rettaipadi, Gangaipadi, Kollam, Kalingam, 
11am (Ceylon), Madura and other countries. To- 
wards the close of his prosperous reign he seemed to 
have marshalled his extensive armies, which he had 
posted at different quarters to defend his newly con- 
quered dominions, into two grand divisions — the one 
consisting of those men who had won for him vic- 
tories in all his foreign campaigns, and the other 
composed of new soldiers from the Pandya, the 
Telugu and Canarese countries, who had formerly 
fought against him from his enemies' camps. The 
former, recruited chiefly from the Vedan, Nattaman, 
Malayaman and Paraiya castes, he called the right-hand 
d-rrny (sijeviaeins Qt^'SefrdamriT — the right-hand infantry), 
while the latter made up of the Pallans, Pallis, Madi- 
gas and Bedars was called the left-hand army. This 
alone, we think, could account for the anamolous 
grouping of the Bedars (Canarese hunters) in the left, 
while their Tamil brethren, the Vedans, were placed in 


the right-hand division. The Pallans, correctly 
Mallar, formed the Pandiyan army, the PalHs consti- 
tuted the Pallava army, while the troops of Kalingam 
and other countries were recruited chiefly from the 
Bedars and Madigas or Chakkiliyans. The male mem- 
bers of these military classes were put in the left- 
hand, but their females who could not have naturally 
taken up arms against Rajaraja were treated as belong- 
ing to the right-hand faction. The inscriptions of Ra- 
jendra Chola prove that this distinction was observed 
by his army though not so strictly as in his father's 
time. The expression £us\)iiiss)suuifiLbusioL-si&r which oc- 
curs therein means the 'old troops of the right-hand' as 
opposed to the new soldiers of the conquered domi- 
nions. And by the time of Adhirajendra Chola (A. D. 
1065) a poll-tax i was levied on all the male members 
of both factions who were in a position to use the 
implements of war. All these clearly prove that the 
origin of the division was purely of a military or 
political nature. 

Again, the tradition already referred to informs us 
that the distinction originated in the reign of a 
Chola king of the Kalinga country, and we know of 
no earlier Chola kings than Rajaraja and Rajendra 
Chola, v^rho invaded and temporarily subjugated 
Kalingam. For these reasons the present writer is 
strongly mclined to assign to this social distinction 
a date not earlier than A. D. 1010. 

The second agent, also in the order of time, which 

1. South Indian Inscriptions, Vol. Ill, p. 115. 


tended to swell the ranks of the two factions, was 
the aspiration of certain castes to rise higher in the 
social scale. One of the six principal duties of the 
ancient Hindu kings being the preservation of 
caste rules and observances as dictated by the Sastras, 
it is very likely that any violation of the established 
custom by any member of a caste or tribe would have 
met with tl:e severest punishment. The Kammalas 
were, as stated above, a guild of Dravidian or Naga 
origin, holdmg a place outside the pale of the Aryan 
caste system. They were, however, skilful artificers 
and as such their services were in constant demand by 
the Brahmans and other classes. During the great 
temple-building epoch — the tenth and eleventh 
centuries — the Hindu kings not only patronized 
these people, but also appointed them permanently 
for the extension and repair of the temples they had 
built. In this way their connection with the religious 
institutions and consequently their closer contact 
with the Brahmans contributed largely to elevate 
their social position. And as Sir W. W. Hunter 
observes, ' the Brahmanical element here finds itself 
so weak, and so accustomed to compromise with the 
original population, that the priests have invented a 
legend, to give a semi-Aryan descent to five castes, 
which everywhere else rank as Sudras'. But with- 
out being content with the concessions and privileges 
granted to them, they began to clamour for a still 
higher status, nay, even claimed an equal rank with 
the Brahmans. This offended the Chola king, pro- 


bably Rajendra, the reputed conqueror of Kalingam 
and other northern countries ; many were persecuted, 
many were ordered to be destroyed, and the rest were 
classed along with other hostile tribes in the left-hand 

The other castes which strive for a higher social 
position are the Kaikolas and the Devangas, the 
former of whom claim direct descent from Vira- 
bahu, one of the nine commanders of god Subrah- 
manya, and the latter, wearing the sacred thread, fight 
for Brahmanhood. This kind of struggle for Brah- 
manical rank is strongest in Mysore and South 
Canara, but it is almost unknown in the neigh- 
bouring district of Malabar. For example^ the potters 
of South Canara returned their caste name at the 
Census of 1891 as Gnnda (pot) Brahmana ; the 
artisans as Visva-, Deva-, Surya-, and Snhrahnicinya 
Brahmana ; the Kshatriya and Vaisya Brahmana ;. 
and the Madigas (leather-workers) as Mafanga Brah- 
mana. Encouraged by the novel and anti-Brah- 
manical doctrines of Basava, which did away with all 
the caste distinctions, the servile classes styled 
themselves Brahmans ; and in so doing have adopted 
uncouth nomenclature from the Sanskrit and Canarese 
vocabularies. The names of the Lingayat septs are 
legion, but some may be given here : — Chikkamane 
Sampradaya Brahmana, Dhuli Pavada Brahmana, 
Gaudalike Jangama Brahmana, Hirihasube Banajiga 
Brahmana, Sthavara Jangama Brahmana, &c. It 
is this, we believe, that has misled Sir W. W. 


Hunter when he speaks of the non-Brahmanical ryot 
class of Mysore as "the peasant Brahmans." Thus, the 
high aspirations of certain low castes had provoked 
the Aryan Brahmans, who out of jealousy and 
anger managed with the assistance of their kings, to 
class such men in the left-hand division, so that there 
might crop up unceasing quarrels, in almost all of 
which they were requested by the heads of respective 
factions to sit as judges for settling disputes. It is 
significant that this feud is very strong in the 
districts where there is a large number of Lin- 

In addition to the two sources already explained. 
Dr. Oppert suggests a third one. He says ' the 
imminent decay of the Jaina power opened a fair 
prospect to the Brahmans of which they were not 
slow to take advantage. They gathered round them 
their followers, while their opponents, who represent- 
ed in certain respects the national party did the same 
, . . The influence of Jains was perhaps strongest in 
towns, where the artizan classes form an important 
portion of the population, while the Brahmana 
appealed to the land owning and agricultural classes'. 
This is a cause, but not the cause of the dispute. 
Because firstly, the struggle for Brahman supremacy 
had almost been over in the south before the tenth 
century A.D. ; and had this been the only cause for 
the division into rival hands, it would have taken 
place prior to that period. But it is not mentioned 
in any work or inscription of that date. Secondly, 


granting that the struggle between Brahmanism and 
Jainism was the essential cause of this curious 
division, the logical inference would be that most of 
the artizans would have adopted the Jaina faith, and 
the Brahmans and Jains would have respectively 
espoused the right and left hand factions. But the 
census statistics of 1891 clearly showed that only 
40 artizans were Jains, and even these belonged to the 
right-hand faction, while the Brahmans occupied, as 
already stated, a neutral position. Jainism was on the 
decline in the south during the eighth and ninth cen- 
turies, but it had not lost its strong-hold in the Pallava 
andKadamba kingdoms. The Periyapuranim and the 
Tiruvilayadalpuranam give graphic descriptions of 
constant struggles between the Brahmans and 
Jains, and of the zeal and enthusiasm evinced by 
the Chola and Pandya sovereigns in putting down 
Jainism in their countries. And we know how long 
Sri Ramanuja had to struggle with the Jains before he 
succeeded in converting Bitti Deva (Vishnu Vardhana), 
the Jain king of Mysore (A. D. 1138). It is therefore 
possible that Jainism, an anti-Brahmanical religion 
professed by the enemies of the Chola kings, might 
have acted as a third cause for the division into 
the right-hand and left-hand factions. The supposition, 
therefore, of Mr. Nelson that religious difference has 
little or no connection with this remarkable feud 
cannot be accepted, though he is very near the mark 
in suggesting that the obstinacy of the Panchalas in 
disputing the supremacy of the Brahmans and their 


adoption of the Brahmanical customs must have laid 
the foundation for this social distinction. 

We have said above that the Jains belong to the 
right-hand division, although one would, on the 
contrary, expect to find them in the left-hand. 
The reason for the change is, says a Mysore inscrip- 
tion of A. D. 1368, that the Brahmans and Jains 
were fighting for the use of the five big drums 
and the Kalasa, a privilege usually exercised by the 
right-hand castes, when in the same year the then 
king of Mysore, Vira Bukka Raya, effected a com- 
promise between the Jains and the Brahmans, and 
ever since that time the Jains have been admitted as 
belonging to the right-hand party. 

To summarise: the distinction into right-hand and 
left-hand castes, now mamtained by the agricultural 
classes on the one side and by the artizans on the other, 
originated in the Chola country about 1010 A. D., the 
cause which led to it being,(l) the enmity that had exis- 
ted between the Cholas and the neighbouring kings,(2) 
the aspirations of certain low castes to attain a higher 
social status, stimulated by the newly inculcated anti- 
Brahmanical doctrines of Basava, and (3) the struggle 
between the Jaina and the Hindu religions for exis- 
tence in the Pallava and the Kadamba countries. Or, 
to put it more briefly, this faction dispute is the out- 
come of the political, social and religious jealousies 
amongst the Hindus of South India during the 
eleventh and twelfth centuries of the Christian 



In that classic of Tamil literature — the Kiiral — Tiru- 
valluvar describes " Numbers" and " writing" as the 
two eyes of humanity. 

SoemQemr&sru euiTQ^ QpiiSlir<i(^, — Klir. 

So high was the importance attached to these two 
" Rs." hi Tamil ' ezhuttu' includes letters as well as 
picture, and as a mark of distinction writing or 
alphabetic letters have been called semQssmQp^^ or 
signs for the eye. It is also called Qii®iis6ms(^ or the 
* long account' in contra-distinction to numbers, ctsot 
or ssms(^. Kanakhi is a vague term meaning account, 
letters or knowledge, as in ' Samaya-kanakkan', a 

Pavanandi, the popular grammarian of the thirteenth 
century treats the subject of Tamil letters or ortho- 
graphy under twelve-heads, namely, — number, 
name, order, origin, form, quantity, initial, middle 
and final letters (in words), similarity in sound, 


wordbuilding and combination, i Including his 
famous Nannul there are about half.a-dozen authori- 
tative treatises on grammar which were written at dif- 
ferent times ; but in every one of these the history of 
the Tamil alphabet has been studiedly avoided. The 
fact seems to be that the native grammarians knew 
little of it, and their ignorance has led some of their 
commentators to bungle as regards certain points of 
historical import. It is therefore proposed to deal at 
the outset with the historical side of the Tamil alphabet 
at some length, touching very briefly on the other 
points connected therewith in the concluding part of 
the present essay. 

The Tamil alphabet now in use is not what it 
was a thousand years ago. Its form appears to have 
undergone changes from century to century until 
•about the fourteenth, when it reached the present 
stereotyped condition. There were, however, two 
different kinds of writing in use in the Tamil country 
— the one introduced by the Brahmans and the other 
indigenous to the Tamil race. The former is known 
as the Grantha-Tamil alphabet, and it was the parent 
stock from which some of the modern Tamil charac- 
ters have sprung, while the latter is called by pal?e- 
ographists as the Vatteluttu or the Chera-Pandya 
alphabet. The Tamil districts including; Malabar and 
Travancore abound in inscriptions of both varieties, 

1. The classification of letters by some early Tamil Scholars 
into (1) graphic (c-tifoj), (2) Nominal (Quiuf), (3) phonetic (9«^) and 
i\) conceptual (tyi^ei) seems to rne unpsychological. 


Very recently writings in the Asoka or Brahmi cha- 
racters also have been discovered in the districts of 
Madura and Tinnevelly. 

But the introduction of all these did not take place 
at one and the same period. The Vatteluttu or the 
original Tamil alphabet was supplanted by the Gran- 
tha-Tamil or the modern Tamil characters in the 
Tamil kingdoms at different periods, which were per- 
haps conterminous with the migration and settlement 
of the Brahmans in these countries. In the Pallava 
province (Tondaimandalam), where they settled first 
before proceeding to the southern districts, the 
Pallava characters — an off-shoot of the Brahmi or 
the North Indian script — were in use prior to A. D. 
650. We have no documentary evidence to prove at 
what period the Vatteluttu was in use there. The 
earliest Chola inscriptions belong only to the tenth 
century, and all of them are in the Grantha- Tamil 
characters, which appear to be a later development 
of the Pallava-Tamil used in the Kuram and Kasakudi 
copper-plates of the seventh and eighth centuries. 
Occasionally, Vatteluttu inscriptions may alSo be met 
with in the Chola country, but most of these belong 
to the Pandya kings. It is not therefore possible in 
the absence of the earlier Chola records to state when 
the Vatteluttu was ousted by the Grantha-Tamil 
characters in the Tanjore District. In the Pandya 
country, on the other hand, we have inscriptions 
in both scripts going up to the eighth century A.,D., 
and from these it will appear that Vatteluttu came 


nto desuetude sometime after the conquest of 
that country by the Choia king Parantaka I during 
the first quarter of the tenth century. In Travancore 
and Malabar the Vatteluttu survived some centuries 

The two main questions u'e have now to consider 
in connection with the earlier Tamil alphabet or 
Vatteluttu are, — (1) the date of its introduction into 
the Tamil country; and (2) whether it was borrowed 
by the Tamils direct from the north-western Semi- 
tics, or was only an earlier modification of the Asoka 
or Brahmi characters as some scholars seem to think. 

The earliest Vatteluttu inscriptions known to us be- 
long to the eighth century A. D. and do not go fur- 
ther back ; and the earliest description of that alpha- 
bet is what we find in the grammar of Tolkapyar. 
It is said that Agastya was the first Tamil gramma- 
rian ; but we know nothing about his date or the 
existence of his grammar, except that Tolkapyar was 
his student, even which seems extremely questiona- 
ble. The date of the introduction of the Vetteluttu 
alphabet cannot for the present be carried earlier 
than the age of Tolkapyar. In his monograph ' On 
the Aindra School of Sanskrit Grammarians ', Dr, 
Burnell assigns the eighth century A.D. as the proba. 
ble date of Tolkapyar, assuming that there was no 
Tamil literature before that period and that Tolka- 
pyar professed Jainism or Buddhism, the predomi- 
nant religions at the time, according to this writer^ 
in Southern India. Both these premises have since 


been proved to be false. Tolkapyar was a Brahman 
Rishi and belonged to the Jamadagni tribe ; and the 
contemporary scholar, Athangottasan who passed 
his work at the royal court of the Pandya king was 
also a Brahman deeply versed in the four Vedas. 

In the Colophon to the Tolkapyam the author says 
that he has mastered the Sanskrit grammar of Indra. 

When the epoch-making work of Panini had long 
been considered the highest authority on the sub- 
ject in Sanskrit, why Tolkapyar should study and 
follow Indra's work in his grammar of the Tamil 
language is inexplicable, unless it be that Panini was 
not known to the Southern Hindus of Tolkapyar's 
time. One of the sixty-four predecessors quoted by 
Panini in the field of grammatical science was Indra, 
and he should therefore have flourished before him. 
Thus, Tolkapyar must have lived anterior to .B.C. 350 
which is the date assigned to Panini by the best 

Again, it will be seen from the following sutras 
that, at the time of Tolkapyar, there were in use 
some Tamil words in the middle of which letter 
combinations like {eouu) lya, {&tiij) lya, (@«ij) jnya, (iBtn) 
nya, {ldiu) mya, {<suuu) vya and [imsu) mva, could occur, 

&)sn oosn(cir Qpssresiir ujoysj/i Q ^n&srgviJo. J, 24. 

iLSooSireafl p pm QunLQupmQp. I, 27. 
LDoosiresr Lj&reffl Qp&saieue^is Q^tnssrjinu), I, 28. 


Commenting on these sidras Nacchinarkiniyar writes 
thus, — ^ikiEiesTLD ^SiflujiT (^p^rrisi Qs^iL^sSm j^ssireo^^ 

Not a single word of the kind referred to in 
the sutras is to be found in the whole range of 
the existing Tamil literature. The earliest work 
of any magnitude — that is the Kural of TiruvaL 
luvar — goes back to the first century A.D., and the 
period when such words w^ere current should have 
been at least three or four centuries before the age of 
that work. For these reasons, it would not be too 
much to suppose that Tolkapyar flourished before 
B.C. 350, that is five centuries earlier than Apollonius, 
the Stoic philosopher and the first grammarian of 
the Latin language. A fortiori Tolkapyar's teacher 
and first Tamil grammarian and divine rishi, Agastya 
must have lived before the fourth century B. C. 
When these two In do- Aryan scholars began to write 
their grammars, Tamil had already become a written 

It is said by Prof. Macdonell of Oxford that the 
Katantra of Sarvavarman, the famous minister of the 
Andhra king Satavahana, served as a model for the 
native grammar of the Dravidians. As this is a work 
of the second century A.D., Tolkapyar could not have 

1. This view las, however, been questioned by the authors of 
Q^fejsiuiSiui: (s^^!r(^(54^ and ^jt reSi—uiSirsfrSerisloWowing the Com- 
mentaries of^sTiAyir sozr/f and G*®a(SB>/riu/r. But we are inclined te 

follow B^Sif^rsQafiinir, 


followed it, and if he had done so he would have 
plainly said sn^i^iriBesipiB^ instead of ^i^aSisapih^^ 
It is, however, believed by Tamil scholars that 
Sarvavarman's work was imitated by Buddha-Mitra 
(A.D 1075) in his Virasoliyam. And the difference 
in the treatment of the subject adopted by the authors 
of Tolkapyam and Virasoliyam, appears to favour 
the view that Katantra was not imitated in the former 

Thus then the introduction of the Vatteluttu 
alphabet must have taken place long before the fourth 
or fiftlj century B. C, and this approximates the 
earliest date assigned by European scholars to the 
introduction of writing in India, which was the 
seventh or eighth century before the Christian era. 

As to who first brought the alphabet from the 
western Semitics — whether the Southern Dravidians 
or the Northern Aryans — it is not quite easy to settle* 
On this point western scholars hold contrary 
opinions, Dr. Rhys Davids, the learned Bhuddhist 
scholar, thinks * that all the present available evidence 
tends to show that ihe Indian alphabet is not Aryan at 
all ; that it was introduced into India by Dravidian 
(Tamil) merchants in the eighth or seventh century'. 
And the same writer goes on to say that 'after the 
merchants brought the script to India, it gradually 
became e<ilarged and adapted to the special require- 
ments of the Indian learned and colloquial dialects.' 
This is also the view taken by that pioneer orientalist 
and antiquary, Mr. E. Thomas. Dr. Burnell seems 


to think that Vattehittu had an independent source 
and had nothing to do with the Brahmi alphabet of 
Northern India. This alphabet, he says, 'was formed 
and settled' before the Indo-Aryan grammarians of 
the Tamil language came to Southern India. 

In opposition to this view Drs. Caldwell, Buhler 
and Grierson maintain (and on insutficent ground 
as will be shown later on) that the Vatteluttu 
alphabet was borrowed or rather adapted from 
the Brahmi or Asoka alphabet of Upper India. 
'The older Mauryan alphabet', says Dr, Buhler, 
'was used over the whole of India.' He says 
further 'from a palaeographical point of view, 
the Vatteluttu may be described as a cursive 
script which bears the same relation to the Tamil 
as the modern alphabets of the clerks and merchants 
to their originals ... Perhaps it may be assumed that 
the " round hand '' arose already before the seventh 
century, but was modified in the course of time by 
the further development of the Tamil and the 
Grantha scripts. Owing to the small number of the 
accessible inscriptions, this conjecture is, however, 
by no means certain.' Dr. Caldwell asserts ' that 
the Tamil characters were borrowed from the earliest 
Sanskrit, and the language of the Tamilians was 
committed to writing on or soon after the arrival of 
the first colony of Brahmans.' He even goes to the 
length of confirming this hypothesis by saying 
that the ' oldest known Dravidian alphabet (he means 
the Vatteluttu) makes no difference between long 


and short e, srand o, 9 which is one of the arguments 
that may be adduced in favour of the theory of the 
derivation of that alphabet from the Sanskritic 
alphabet of Asoka.' All these are mere theories. So 
far as we are aware, neither Dr. Caldwell, nor Dr. 
Buhler, nor even Dr. Grierson has disproved the 
other hypothesis by any crucial instances. 

In support of the theory advocated by Mr. E. 
Thomas, Drs. Rhys Davids and Burnell — on whose 
side the balance of authority seems to rest — that the 
Tamilians had introduced the Vatteluttu and deve- 
loped it independently of the Asoka or the Brahmi 
alphabet, the following arguments may be adduced : — 

It has been shown in a previous essay that the 
Tamil people or rather the early Dravidians were a 
civiized race allied to the ^ancient Accadians, with 
whom they lived in Babylonia and Assyria before 
their migration to Hindustan. They were acquaint- 
ed with the Phoenicians and Egyptians as early as 
the 14th jr 15th century B. C. It would, therefore, 
be highly probable that these early Dravidians might 
have brought with them the alphabet when they 
migrated to India. And it is also probable that the 
Indo-Aryans borrowed it from their Dra vidian 

Long before the settlement of the Aryans in 
South India, the Tamils had commercial inter- 
course with the Egyptians and oiher Western nations, 
as will be inferred from the existence of Tamil 
words like ^o^m (peacock) and agil (a fragrant wood) 


in the Hebrew Bible, and arisi (rice) in Greek. Like 
the Banyas or the Aryan merchant caste of Upper 
India, the Tamils had no caste scruples prohibiting 
them from sea-voyage. In fact, among the Dravi- 
dians of the remote past there was no caste system^ 
and they were expert seamen. 

Although the Tamilians owed their grammar to 
Agastya and to Tolkapyar, it should not be inferred 
that they were indebted to them for the art of writing 
also. The existence of pure Tamil words like ezliuttii 
(letters), siwadi (book) &c, before they came to the 
south disproves the theory that Agastya brought the 
alphabet with him from Upper India. The gratuitous 
assertion of Dr. Caldwell that ' the language of the 
Tamilians was committed to writing on or soon after 
the arrival of the first colony of Brahmans', therefore,, 

falls to the ground. 

Again, his statement that the Dravidian alphabet 
makes no difference between the long and short c, sr 
and 0, ^ is a mere specious argument, if by Dravidian 
he meant Tamil,because the Vatteluttu alphabet of the 
early Tamils did make the distinction, as the author of 
the Tolkapyam has distinctly ruled that, — sranQmiTsir 
QmiLuL^eneffl Qu^ua ; and this sutram will have no 
meaning if no such distinction was observed in his 

While writing about the formation of the letter 
m, w the grammarian.Tolkapyar clearly defines that,. 
s^ilQu£ut^miSfftLLi(T^eiiii^LDQu>. What he meant by this 
rule was that the form of />, u (Vatteluttu ^ ) should be 



carefully distinguished from that of ni, ld (Vatteluttu ^ ) 
which received an inner dot. Here the right hand 
tail of u was joined in later times with the inner dot, 
which was quite natural in cursive writing on palm 
leaves with an iron stylus, as Nacchinarkiniyar has 
rightly observed — lls!TiJd ■s^ilQugn i^en-efflssuju laSsrr^^ '^Q^^ 
(ev)iT. In the Brahmi, Asoka or Mauryan alphabet u 
and LD were written as b and )6. There was a letter in the 
Asoka script which in form approached the Vatteluttu 
LD, but that was ph. and not in. It will thus be seen 
that there is not the least resemblance between the 
Vatteluttu and the Asoka p and ;;;, nor can we 
perceive any appreciable similarity in the other letters 
of both alphabets except in the case of k, p, r, I, t, 
and cli, which may after all be only accidental, both 
being borrowed from the same Semitic source, as 
will be seen from the comparative table of the 
ancient alphabets given below : — 




r 1 1 

































. - 




f . 














If Tamil borrowed and developed its alpha- 
bet from Brahmi of North India like the other 
cultivated languages of the Dravidian family, it 
should have taken place before its grammar was 
written. And in that case, the tendency should 
have shown itself in an efficient and complete 
alphabetic system as in the sister languages, 
Telugu and Kanarese- On the other hand, the 
simplicity of the alphabetic and the deficiency of 
its phonetic systems, and their stationary charac- 
ter for nearly 2,000 years point to a different 
source for its origin. We are glad to observe 
that this is also the view taken by Mr. R. Sewell, I.C.S. 
He writes thus : ' The meagre character and 
simple forms of the Tamil alphabets almost certainly 
derived from a Semitic source, perhaps, Araroic or 
Himayaritic, point to its having been adopted and 
having become fixed before the Kharoshti was known'. 

Among the Dravidian races of South India the 
Tamils alone made use of the Vatteluttu alphabet from 
time immemorial, whilst their Telugu and Kanarese 
neighbours have, so far as epigraphical researches re- 
veal, been using some alphabet or other which had 
its origin from the Brahmi of Upper India. The prin- 
ciple of adding a dot for consonants is peculiar only 
to Tamil, and is found in no other alphabetic systems 
adopted from Brahmi. It is possible that the Tamils 
might have borrowed it from the Semitics of Western 
Asia and used it for consonants instead of for vowel 
signs, as in the Hebrew and other Semitic alphabets. 


The vast difference that exists between Tamil and 
the Aryan languages in their vocabulary, between the 
Tamils and the Indo-Aryans, the contempt which the 
one had for the other, and the great antiquity and the 
divine origin which the Tamils claim for their * sweet' 
language and its grammar — all these seem to favour the 
indigenous origin of the Tamil Vatteluttu alphabet. 

The latest epigraphical researches have brought to 
light the existence in the Pandya country of tht 
Brahmi or Asoka inscriotions, Rai Bahadur V. Ven- 
kayya, Epigraphist to the Government of India, be- 
lieves that this discovery ' in the Madura and Tinne- 
veliy districts proves beyond doubt that the Mauryan 
alphabet was in use all over India', and that this 
seems to him ' to militate against the theory of the 
indigenous origin ' of the Vatteluttu alphabet. We 
do not for a moment question Dr. Buhler's state- 
ment ' that the older Mauryan alphabet was used over 
the whole of India'; but it is extremely doubtful 
whether this alphabet was used in the Tamil country 
by the literates of all castes and creeds — Buddhists, 
Jains, Hindus and Animists alike. As a matter of 
fact we know that the English alphabet is at present 
in use from the Himalayas to Cape Comorin among 
the educated classes, and even English inscriptions 
are found almost everywhere in India. And yet, 
do we not see side by side with it scores of Indian 
alphabets? The ubiquity of an alien alphabet in a 
particular country cannot, therefore, be a proof for 
the non-existence of other alphabetic systems and of 


its necessity for the aboriginal inhabitants of that 

History informs us that Emperor Asoka sent Bud- 
dhist Missionaries to the three Tamil countries about 
B.C. 250, and there is very little evidence to show 
that there were Buddhists in these lands prior to 
that date. The Brahmi inscriptions alluded to above 
are believed to belong to the Asoka or post- Asoka 
•period. It has been shown above that Tolkapyar 
flourished anterior to B. C. 350, that is, at least a 
century before Asoka. As it has been proved that 
the description of the alphabet given by Tolkapyar 
in his grammar is applicable only to the Vatteluttu 
characters, but not to the Brahmi or Asoka 
alphabet, it is evident beyond any shadow of doubt 
that Vatteluttu alone was in use among the Tamils 
before the introduction ot Buddhism in their country. 
The Brahmi was evidently used only by the Buddhist 
monks and missionaries, and perhaps by Brahmans 
also. This theory should hold its own against any 
others, until it could be established from inscriptional 
sources, that the Brahmi alphabet was universally used 
by all classes in the Tamil country before the days of 
Tolkapyar (B.C. 350). 

The mere fact that the Brahmi alphabet was in use 
all over India proves nothing concerning the origin of 
Vatteluttu, any more than the use of the English alpha- 
bet regarding the source of the Indian alphabets. 
The Moplahs of the West Coast use the Vatteluttu 
;(Koleluttu) characters to this very day, while the 


Hindus there gave it up three or four centuries ago. 
That is to say, the VatteUittu and the Grantha-Malaya- 
1am alphabets have been in existence side by side for 
at least the last three or four centuries in a particular 
part of the ancient Tamil land, the former being used 
by the pure Tamilians (Malayalis) and the latter by 
the Aryanized Dravidians. Again, we observe in the 
Vatteluttu copper plate grants of Jatila Varman, Ravi 
Varman, Sri Valiuvan Kodai and others, that Grantha 
characters were used freely to express pure Sanskrit 
words and Vatteluttu for the Tamil ones. All the South 
Indian alphabets, not excepting the modern Grantha- 
Tamil, may be traced to the B rah mi script of 
Upper hidia. Had Vatteluttu been borrowed and 
developed from the Brahmi, like the Grantha and 
other alphabets of India from the earliest times, it 
would be difficult to account for the Tamils alone 
using both the characters simultaneously in their 
inscriptions. This anamoly is nowliere to be found 
outside the Tamil country. And this one fact, com. 
bined with the other considerations set forth in the 
previous paragraphs, must lead one to conclude that 
Vatteluttu had an indigenous origin, and that the 
Brahmi characters might have been understood and 
even largely used by the Brahmans, Buddhists and 
Jains, while the rest of the people in rhe Chera and 
Pandya countries marie use of the Vatteluttu alphabet 
And, notwithstanding the divergence of opinion 
among high authorities, the above arguments compel 
us to accept the theory that the Tamil alphabet 


(Vatteluttu) was not borrowed from the Brahmi or any 
other Upper Indian alphabet, but had been introduced 
directly from Western Asia by Tamil merchants, 
during the eighth or seventh century B.C., who deve- 
loped it independently of the northern alphabets until 
it was partially supplanted by the Grantha charac- 
ters in or about the tenth century. 

But for the mighty influence of the Aryan Brah- 
mans, such an ancient and original alphabet might 
have survived among the Tamils as amongst the 
Musalman Moplahs of Malabar. Before the introduc- 
tion of the Grantha-Tamil characters, the influx of 
Sanskrit words in the Tamil language was extremely 
limited ; and even those words appeared in the Tamil 
garb or in the form of tadbhavas. Thus, we find in 
the Tirtivoymoli of Nammalvar tamilized Sanskrit 
words like ujbursiruesTy ^/j^^treir, ^q^is^^s^Sw , sSiSIq^^lo^ 
^ffrTss^&nr, isSi^LDiMj s^eeWy ld^s^it, &LLL-&STy ^.(i^^^iiT&sr, &c.- 
But with the large influx of Sanskrit words and 
phrases — tadbhavas and tatsamas — in consequence 
of the importation of the Aryan religion and philoso- 
phy among the Tamils, the introduction of the 
Grantha-Tamil characters in the Pandya and Kerala 
countries became a matter of necessity. And new 
rules for tlie adoption and nataralisation of Sanskrit 
words in Tamil, not given by Tolkapyar, v;ere added 
in the grammars of Buddha Mitra and Pavanandi,. 
the former of whom flourished in the eleventh and 
the latter at the beginning of the thirteenth century. 

Of the thirty-one Tamil letters of the Grantha- 


Tamil alphabet, the consonants em, ^,15 and lu only ap- 
pear to have been adopted or borrowed from the 
Pallava characters, the rest being moditied survivals 
of the defunct Vatteluttu. In the Yanaimalai ins- 
criptions of the Pandya king Jatavarman (A. D. 770), 
we find some of the Pallava-Grantha characters 
mixed up with the Vatteluttu. For example, in the 
Tamil word Loirpm the Vatteluttu imit, m, is used, and 
in the Sanskrit word wk^iB the Pallava or the Brahmi 
^ ; and the y, uj of the earlier Vatteluttu appears 
like the Telugu «>, while in the Museum plates of 
Jatavarman like the modern tripartite letter uj, r^. 
Minor differences in the forms of the Vatteluttu 
themselves may be noticeable in inscriptions from 
different quarters. 

The tacking of vowel signs to the consonants 
was regular in Vatteluttu, but not so in the Grantha- 
Tamil which is doubtless due to the mixture of the 
two alphabets. The vowel-consonants of Grantha- 
Tamil are exactly after the formation of the Nagari 
characters, excepting that most of the vowel signs, 
as for ^, <ST, <5j, S, 9, 55 and f^en- stand detached from 
the Tamil consonants. This may be made intelligi- 
ble by commenting on the following note of 
Nacchinarkiniyar ; — 

QupgUih QanCSl QupguiJo i^msffl Qup^ih Lji^brftu^iEi Qs!t®iJd 

Quppmr. (5, <si_ (ip^s^aj<oBT Q !^!sSle^iEj(^ QuppesT. Qs, Qs 
Qp^&Sujesr QsrrQ Quppesr. sit, isiti (Lp^(S^ujicST L\&r<siB Quppesr. 


LDSIILD &.LLQugil L^SasiBsGitJU Qj'^eTT^^ STQ^0^:T. QaiTjQarr^ QlSllTy 

Qiwrr Qp^s\9tassr Ljsirsfffi^ii'S^-^i^mQuppsm. — 'Tol- I., 17. 
Here, <oSlsow(^ means a curve, Qm® is a loop or curl, 
L/sffafl is a dot, and saec is a vertical stroke. Thus in @ 
the consonant i has received the upper curve and 
in o a nether one. The letter Qs is formed by pre- 
fixing a loop or coil to it. In the early stage the loop 
which was only the first half of the vowel ot was at- 
tached to the consonant, though now separated from it. 
The case of Qsa and «»« is peculiar, and it clearly proves 
that the Grantha-Tamil system of forming vowel-con- 
sonant has been adopted instead of the old Vatteluttu 
system. The letter Qsa is formed by the addition of a 
]oop and a vertical stroke (originally the sign of long 
.^), the one preceding and the other succeeding the 
consonant. But the doiov i-\^€ffl was never used for 
this purpose, either in the Grantha-Tamil or in the 
Vatteluttu characters. The statement of Nacchinar- 
kiniyar that j^iq^Qs Qlupp L/»ffsr/?a»aj ^dsireo^^rrir siredirs 
eiQ^0(es)iT seems, therefore, purely unauthorized. In 
the Vatteluttu the stroke was horizontal, and it always 
stood for a long vowel ; but in the Grantha-Tamil it 
is vertical and does not always indicate a long vowel, 
except in the case of =g. The long vowel ^ and the 
vowel-consonants (sw), (y, ''^nd @ have received a 
nether curve, while a perpendicular stroke is put after 
the other consonants. This is surely un^yrametrical, 
though not more anomalous than the joining of such 
parts of a_ to consonants (as in o, #, and ^) as fit in 


with their form. All these afford unimistakable evi- 
dence for the mixed character of the modern Grantha- 
Tamil alphabet. Long aai and ^m were originally 
written with a vertical stroke added to a. and 
9 thus &-], s?] which in the course of a few 
centuries assumed the shape of a «rr. The short or 
the long s? was formerly distinguished by means of 
a dot over it. As late as A. D. 1740, no distmction 
was made between the short and long vowel -co nso. 
nantal signs of ct and »?, Q, Q-fr. Beschi seems to have 
been the first to make this reform by rounding the 
upper end of the loop for the long sound. The sign 
for S in sa)s is a double loop or curl as in the Gran, 
tha but joined together in later Tamil ; and the two 
loops were originally placed sometimes one above 
the other and sometimes side by side. The letter 
r^iJu^iM is written with three dots like the English 
symbol for 'therefore ' and it is neither a vowel nor 
a consonant. 

The Vatteluttu or the Tamil archaic alphabet is so 
called on account of its round or circular form like 
the modern Telugu alphabet, while its modern 
development has assumed the angular or, as some 
would say, square shape. This angularity was due to 
the facility in writing on palm leaves with an iron 
stylus, or in cutting on stones or copper plates 
with a chisel. Further, the left-hand vertical line or 
stroke which goes to form an angle with the top 
horizontal stroke in letters like a, <?, ^, m and j is a 
later meaningless addition not found in the Tamil 


inscription prior to A. D. 1050. The letters /_, u, m^ 
iu, a; and tp had no angles on either side, because each 
of them had only a curve at the bottom like c, ^,'^ , 
(j;, ID and £P. In the Vatteluttu the vowel s., z^ was 

half a en, and ld was a u with an inner dot ; u is 
simply another form of sij. Hence &., u, eu, and id are 
almost alike both in form and sound. 

So much for the form of Tamil letters. Let us 
now take their number, order, and pronunciation. 
There are thirty-one letters ; twelve vowels and eigh- 
teen consonants and one semi-vowel. Tolkapyar 
adds to these the shortened @ and s_ making them 
thirty-three. As there are no separate signs to ex- 
press these two sounds, the number of Tamil letters 
should be taken as onjy thirty-one. Of the twelve 
vowels, =gy, g), a., ot, 9, are short (@/zJ^) and ^, it-, sss, 
67 ge, S and e^eir are long (O/sif a') ; strictly speaking S 
and epsfT are not long vowels but only diphthongs or 
s^i^ajsarrio ; and they maybe represented by =gy+@ or 
^ + Lu and =gw + 2- or +=gyia/. The letters <=gy, ^ and ©. 
are called primary vowels, hence they are placed first 
with their cognate long sounds, ct, sj and S, 9, ^ and 
e^efT are considered in Sanskrit secondary or com- 
pound vowels formed by the union of ^ and ^ and 
^ and a- respectively. With this compare the exam- 
ple, [BIT + ^iB^!iiok = fBQMii^!reisr ; i5[r + s^^^LDasr=i5Qa!T^ 
^inm. It Will thus be seen that there are no short 
CT and 9 in Sanskrit. The arrangement of Vowels in 
Tamil is, therefore, exactly after the Sanskrit model. 
There are eighteen consonants in Tamil. Of these 


s, ■9=, I—, ^, u and p are surds ; ra, (Sj, em, (?, ld and esr 
are nasals ; and (u, a, so, en, tg and an- are liquids. 
The order followed in their arrangement is also that 
of Sanskrit. To shew that l^, sir, p and m are letters 
peculiar to Taiuil they are placed last. 

Quantity or LDiTaSl<ssyiT is different from pronuncia- 
tion ; the one relates to music in poetry, and the 
other to the enunciation of letters and words in 
speech. We are not, therefore, concerned here with 
j)jsfrQuss)u., prolation or the increase in quantity, 
which is applicable only to poetry. However, 
among Tamil vowels ^ and e. have sometimes a 
lesser quantity even in ordinary speech. Sivagnana 
Swami, the uncompromising critic of ^^MssemeSlmssiM 
says, the shortened ^ and a. are indicated by a dot ; 
but the truth of his statement is questionable. The 
dot was never used either in the Tamil inscriptions 
or in the ordinary writing. Now-a-days a dot is used 
in Malayalam to denote a final short q_ which in 
this language approacfies a sound mid-way between 
=gy and &- as in 6)QJcaicw S and epsir being diphthongs, 
their quantity is shortened at times, the first in all 
the three places and the second only at the begin- 
ning of words. But this does not satisfactorily 
account for their existence. The semi-vowel ^iL^ld 
gets decreased in quantity when words beginning 
with ^ combine with words ending in sd and ek. 
All these are called s^aaQuQg^^ or dependant letters 
as the changes in quantity occur only in words, 
but never in isolated letters themselves 


Coming to consonants, we find the Tamil alphabet 
very defective, and in some cases redundant also. 
Surds coming after nasals lose their hard sounds as- 
in 0^157(5, ^®^» (Sjeaw®^ sih^sih and Q.rLDL9iusar ; and in 
Malayalam they are changed' into nasals as in mainarr 
for LDrrihsiTtL^ (3;^(^ for ©igj^, ^(^i^ for ^Q^i^ and so 
on. Sometimes <« and <? even when not preceded by 
nasals get the soft sound similar to the Arabic 
gliayii and the Sanskrit (y^ as in Qs'(^^3, and u^^^ 
respectivel3^ Thu* for the thirty-one letters w^e have 
fifteen vowel and twenty-five consonant sounds, or 
forty in ali. This is certainly a defect. But some 
might say that when the alphabet was first introduced, 
the Tamil language had only thirty-one sounds, and 
that the remaining nine explained above crept in 
during later times owing to the influence of the Indo- 
Aryans- This may be accepted as partly correct, as 
we find to this day, if one is careful enough to ob- 
serve, slight variations in the pronunciation of the 
Jaffna Tamils and the Tamil Brahmans. 

The letters peculiar to Tamil are oo, ip, p and ear. 
The sound of oo is midway between the Arabic ghayn 
and the Sanskrit pm. It is found in no other 
Indian or European languages, and it seems to 
suggest some connection of the Tamil race with 
the Semitic or Western Asiatic nations. The letter tp 
is equally a private property of Tamil and a terri- 
ble bugbear for Europeans to pronounce. It has 
been variously transliterated in some of the European 
languages by Ij, zj, zh, rl, 1, zy, &c. ; Dr. Pope's rule 


for its pronunciation is to * apply the tip of the 
tongue as far back as you can to the palate and pro- 
nounce a rou<^h r in which a sound of 2 will mingle.' 
This is only an English rendering of the Nannul 
siUra^ — 

Even the Tamils cannot pronounce this letter 
correctly, and in some districts they substitute srr, lu, 
and enj for it or omit it altogether. In Madras uj and 
ew are used by the lower classes, while in Madura 
and Tinnevelly en- is preferred. I presume that it 
was this letter which frightened Mr. J. C Molony 
and led to his remark on the Tamil language, which 
any Tamilian would resent, notwithstanding his in- 
direct compliment to the people that speak it. ' Few 
would call Tamil beautiful ; yet its great harsh words, 
that one can almost bite as they pass the teeth, the 
stubborn inelasticities of its construction, suggest a 
certain doggedness in the people who have subdued 
such an untractable organ to tlieir daily use.' (C.R.p.7) 
The letter p has the sound of a rough r and jb p that of 
tr. The sounds of m and sot are almost identical and it 
may be supposed that the second m is redundant. But 
their origin shows a slight variation and justifies the 
necessity for the existence of both, because /5 is a 
dental while iot is a palatal letter. 

In Tamil no distinction is made between an accent, 
and an emphasis or intonation. There is only one 
word in the Tamil language which changes its mean- 
ing by the accent or intonation, that is ^q, iapii^ 


When the accent falls on the first it means to 'die' 
and if it falls on the second it means to 'kill'. In- 
tonation is of three kinds, — rising tone or CT®^^si), 
falling tone or u(Si^^&) and level tone or is-sSl^eo, Of 
these, only the first two are in use. In fsu. when the 
accent falls on i-, that is when it is uttered in a 
rising tone, it denotes a command, and when the 
accent falls on « or pronounced in a falling tone it 
becomes a simple root. In phrases and sentences, 
emphasis on particular words alters their meanings. 
Thus, the phrase ^/iS^BevT^sijek may mean either *a 
stupid man' or *aman as intelligent as the sun'. 

Concerning the origin of Tamil letters enough has 
been said in the Tolkapyam and Nannul. The 
Panniru-pattiyal — u^suflQ^ufTLLis^uj6\) — a grammatical 
compilation, assigns a divine origin to all the letters 
except o°o. It says the twelve vowels were created by 
Brahma and the eighteen consonants by Siva, Vishnu, 
Muruga, Indra, the Sun, the Moon, Kubera, Yama 
and Varuna at the rate of two each. This is a 
curious piece of information to a modern philologist. 
It shows that these were the only important deities 
known and worshipped by the Tamil Hindus of 
Poigaiyar's time i. e. about A. D. 500. 

In Tamil the interchange of letters which have 
almost similar sounds is allowed. This is, perhaps, due 
to wrong pronunciation and defective hearing. It 
occurs mostly at the end of words, sometimes at 
the beginning and middle also. These letters are, — 
cgy for S as in ^amsk for j)jsa) [t ojisst ; ^ for is as 


in Q(^5SBr® for ^smd^ ^jsk for ,^jdr ; ^ for ^ as in 
lSIs^st for l3^^ ; m for <5^ as in Qsojld for QiB.3=ua ; ssr, 
6\J for LD, /f and err as in .4<5\)^-a6AJ:ii, ^pio-^ piJo, uo^e^- 

Ln^m &c. The Malayalam languaj^e wliich may be 
taken as a highly differentiated dialect of Tamil 
affords plenty of instances of this sort of interchange 
in letters, technically called QufrsSI. But the reader 
must be warned against confounding it with the 
iingrammatical or vulgar usages pointed out by 
Buddha-Mitra as prevalent in different parts of the 
Tamil country even in his days : — /f/tsi/? QsneiB 
^^6s(t &-efrd(^ eun^Setr ewsif^ GT.5srei\i£i, eSii^ii^ ul^]ej(^ ^L^sms 
^L^ss)LD ei€meijLD...S(^£leo^<9^/b/iSear Q^^^^ff^ S&)it eui^iEi(^£U!T. 
Q'Sjs^iFi'2ei> Qp^&i£t <s#'5ij)# sresrisijLD^ i^prSiUiJoQuir^ srssrei^uD^ 
Lcjh/iSujuD iS paap^aiBjSicSl p(irj>^ iiTsme^ih. ..s^reSifluadjiBii S&)^ 
^<f &&)IT QJL^'5J(^^IT. Qf5S\)e^<isiT SiSST p^ (cSiL^isa S^p^ 
eresT^ uueorr^ U'TiLi^ £le\)^^,f Se\}iT qji^ieii^ouit. mp^ih 
^Qi'2eaTLJUiTSs ^iisrrss jfjisisirasi sresreijtx)^ ^uutsf.sQsn pp 
^ uUis^sQsrT p p <si &5r iSi^LD y Q-f^^Seaui ^^^ssfr&i (sresrei^iitf 

eulTSSiUUUlUUO QsfT'dSQfii-LsSiU. STSSTeijlMy ^QlT LdSiT OTSSrai/LO, iSp 

Vir. p. 64. 

Rules are given in Tamil grammar books to 
determine what 'words are of pure Tamil origin 
and what are borrowed. They are highly 
important to a Dravidian philologist. There are 247 
letters, both single and compound ; but all are 
not used in the building up of Tamil words. Some 
letters may come at the beginning, while some 


others at the end of words. The grammarian l 
Tolkapyar took only the Tamil words and framed 
his rules accordingly, while other grammarians have 
included in them such of the Sanskrit words as have 
been adopted in the Tamil vocabulary. The differen- 
ces between the Tamil and Sanskrit words will be 
pointed out as we go on. 

INITIAL LETTERS : In the Tamil language there 
are forty-two one-letter words, and they are 
either long vowels or long vowel-consonants. 
Short vowels cannot form single letter words 
except with consonants. Among words of two 
or more letters, any word may begin with any 
one of the twelve vowels or the twelve vowel- 
consonants tf, «, /5, u and LD. The letters <?=, s3j<?= and 
O^sp- will not come at the beginning except in words 
of Sanskrit origin. According to Tolkapyar (ejt, (J^ 
and 0@/r may commence a word ; but to this 
Bhavanandi adds (gj. The letters etj, g^, Qisui and Qeutr 
are not allowed at the beginning, ujit is the only let- 
ter in the lu series that can come at the commence- 
ment of pure Tamil words. The first three short 

1. Mr. A. H. Keane writes about Tolkapyar as follows: — 
'The first in Tamil, known as the Tolkapyam, dates from about the 
eighth century of our era, and is, perhaps, thft very oldest Tamil 
work extant, ..The Tolkapyam, itself, however, is rather a treatise 
on grammar composed in Tamil, than a Tamil grammar in the 
strict sense ; and though not written in Sanskrit must still be cov.- 
sidered as an Aindra work, that is the work of a disciple of the 
Aindra School of Sanskrit grammarians'. This is clearly derived 
from a wrong source. 


vowels jij, @ and ?>- are called */-lQi_(^^^ or demon- 
strative prefixes ; and g/ is the only letter in the 
series which may begin a word with them as jiii'rsmih 
^itsEimti) and ^isiiEii^ LD ; but these words have no inde- 
pendent existence without this combination. Thus, 
there are in all 94 letters wilh any one of which 
a pure Tamil word may begin. 

FINAL LETTERS I Any vowel except ct, 9 and gssrr 
either by itself or combined with consonants will 
come at the end of a Tamil word ; usually a- and ^jm 
will not unite with « and ©j, <S7 and ep widi (sj ; and sjar 
will join only with « and qj. There are, however, ex- 
ceptions to these rules. According to Virasoliyam, 
Tamil words may end with the following letters, em, 
ii), uj, IT, So, /^, <iff, and ek^ and all vowels except ct and 5?. 
To these may be added (ct, i and eu. There is only one 
word in (Cj (s_//?(^), two words in i (Qun^i and QeurFlii) 
and four words in eu (^<aj, ^<su, ^eu and Gis&j). These 
words are all now obsolete. Among the words which 
end in esr there are only nine in the neuter gender, 
but are not moc'ifications or QufTe\9 of th. They are 

CT©SD7, Q^SioSr, sSLfiSSTj (^uSlsSl ^ IMuS'Sk , ^tgOT^ ULpi^ , <«/_/r(Ssr, 

and eumnm. In the @ series all except Q(^^Q(^, G(^a, 
Qi^rr, and 0@srr may be at the end of words. Generally, 
^, sn', <a/ and e/, may not be final letters. There are 
only two words ending in ^, namely, s_5f (©.(srj) and 
(2/3* ((g5-/B@), and only one word ending in l/ which is 
^4 (to kill or to die) ; the &- in the other words ending 
in Lj is the shortened a_ or (^n)r5!uje^siTu>. Thus ac- 
cording to Tolkapyar there are IGl letters that may 


come at the end of Tamil words. But as Nacchinar- 
kiniyar has observed the examples for eighteen of 
these (namely, Qt~, Qi—ir, Qssm, Q(^, Q^, Qld, ui/, u?, nj, Qtu, 
QjTj Q&), Qip, GigT, Q&r, "Seir, Q/d, and Q^rt;) are not to be 
found in any Tamil dictionary. 

MIDDLE letters: In the middle of Tamil words the 
letters «. -sf, ^, u, ra, (Gj, is and ld coming after the con- 
sonants uJ, IT and ifi mast double. Of these it and tg will 
not come after short vowels or consonants, nor can 
they double in any position. In poetry isor and ld may 
join together as in Qufrmuo. The letters «, <? and u 
will follow lL, p, «k) and <ar ; and lu and <a; may come 
after &> and srr. After nasal consonants will come 
their corresponding surds. The seven letters «, ■?=, (Gj, 
u>, lu and £11 may join with em and sot. Combinations 
of letters like @aj, iiu, ldiu, &)iu, enm, diuj and Loau were 
tolerated in Tamil words, but are now obsolete. And 

the consonants lu, it and tp may precede «, ra, <?, (Cj, dj, 
/5, u, Lo, uj and su. 

The remaining two subjects, namely, the word- 
building and word-combination {QeneiSujiTdsLh and 
i^6miTs9i\ will be dealt with in the next essay. 



Tamil is the language of a section of the Dravidian^ 
race inhabiting the extreme south of the Indian 
Peninsula. The area within which it is now spokei> 
has been given in a previous essay. Owing to its 
antiquity and its high culture at a very early date, this 
language long ago assumed two forms, the one called 
the kodum or colloquial, and the other the scm or 
good literary Tamil. 

The locality in which the Sen-Tamil was spoken is 
not described by Tolkapyar ; and his commentators 
are not unanimous on this point. Senavaraiyar and 
Nacchinarkiniyar give its boundaries thus, — Qs=i^iSl^^ 
SeOLDireu^, <ssi<Sii<oSiuuujiT p^^ fijyi_<5@u3 wQ^^iua jbfS'SsrQ pjb(^iJD 
S(7^siirflsir QLps(^LD iBQ^siiiBrnQisi p(^ld(tui. ( The "pure 
Tamil" was spoken in the tract bounded by the 
Maruta-yar on the north, the Vaiga on the south, 
Maruvur on the east and Karuvur on the west). 

According to Tamil saints and poets the Sen-Tamil 
land seems to have been the modern district of 
Madura ; this seems to me to be more accurate in as. 


much as the Punal Nadu or the Tanjore district and 
Ten-Fandi Nadu or the Tintievelly district have been 
included in the twelve Kodum-Tamil nadus or dis- 
tricts which are enumerated in the following stanza : — 

Qit^lSIso ueis! 51^01? ml. Qi—esor. 

An earlier list gives Podunga-Nadu and Oli-Nadu 
instead of Venadu and Punal-Nadu. It must be 
remembered that the ancient districts of Kuttam, 
Kudam, Karka, Ven and Puzhi were in the Travan- 
core State and in the modern district of Malabar ; 
Aruva and Aruva-vadatalai were in the Chingleput 
and North .^rcot districts ; Sitam was the Nilgiris ; 
Maladu or Malai-Nadu was in South Arcot ; Panri 
was on the north-west of Madura ; and Podunga 
and Oli were probably somewhere in the ancient 
Ramnad country. It cannot therefore be said that 
either the Cheta country, or the Tondaimandalam, 
or even the Chola Desam was the land of pure or Sem- 
Tamil, in spite of the claims put forward by some 
patriotic scholars for that honour. 

The media3val Tamils were entirely ignorant of 
the Indian Geography, and their ignorance is betrayed 
in the description of the countries which surrounded 
the Tamil Nadu. Nacchinarkiniyar mentions twelve, 
namely, Singalam, Pazham-divu (the Laccadives), Kol- 
lam,Kupam, Konkanam, Tulu, Kudagam, Karunatam, 
Kudam, Vaduku, Telugu and Kalingam. According to 


Keralolpatti, Kapaiii was the M.ilayalam speaking 
country lying between Kunnatii and Cape Coinorin. 
KoUam (Ouilon) and FCupam, which formerly consti- 
tuted the modern State of Travancore, must have se- 
parated from the Kodam-Tamil Nadus, before the 
time of our commentator ; and yet, without knowing 
the geography of the West Coast, he has given 
Kuttam, Kudam, Ven and other Nadus which formed 
part of that province in the list of Kodum-Tamil 
Nadus, following the division of nadus or districts 
that existed in Tolkapyar's days. But his ignorance 
of geography is not so great as that of later Tamil 
scholars who have included in the list, countries like 
Arabia, Bengal, Burma, China, Java, Orissa, etc. as 
described in the following stanza : — 

QsiT'EisffmEi sseoTiosn^rsi Qsfrsoeoi Q^^^isisfki SaStiasiJa euiEisisi 

Philology is mainly an historical science, because lan- 
guage which is its subject matter is the work of man, 
and it implies change and progress. It is the property 
of a society and not of an mdividual ; and its object 
is to trace the development of human thought as ex- 
pressed in the speech of that society. It cannot 
therefore be the creation of any individual. It has life, 
growth and death, co-extensive with the state of 
the society or race that uses it. A living language 
like Tamil is in a condition of constant change, 
which cannot be arrested by a scholar, poet or gram- 


marian by means of his writings. The condition of 
Tamil (or any other Hving language) one thousand 
years ago was not what it had been a thousand years 
still earlier. And its grammar, which is essentially an 
empirical or inductive science, necessarily varies with 
the conditions of that language. In any language^ 
literature always precedes grammar ; and this funda- 
mental principle was not unknown to the early Tamil 
grammarians, who have explained it in unmistakable 
terms thus : — 

^eodSujisi ssaaii^^jr) Ssvssesm lAliviMueo. — N ail. 

(Literature yields the grammar ; grammar follows 
the literature.) 

They have also recognised the principle of change 
in a living language, and provided for popular accepta- 
tion of innovations. — 

(Usage sanctifies any new word.) 

euQpeueo saeo eustssaS (^Q<ssr. — Ncin. 

(The order of things is for the old to give place to 
the new.) 

Thus the statement of Sivagnanaswami that, Q^rreoeoir 
StflmtT euLpsQs <suLps(g. LSpaaeo^£j Qeij^ uL^euLpiiauu^Lorr 
uSek ^(SusuLpa(^ ^eodsesar ^Q ^rr® QurT(r^iB^n(^^e5r eSl&)i^Sy is 
not only unscientific, but also an obstinate clinging 
to that old superstition which believed the ancients 
to have discovered all wnsdom. 


According to Prof. Whitney changes in the growth 
of a language may take the following forms : — 

I. Alteration of the old materials of language, which 
may be either change in form, or change in meaning. 
A word may change its form to any extent without 
change of meaning ; in Tamil sjbi-i and sdoeSI mean 
learning; ^eaaiQ and ^i&kiL^Lo, a piece; rstr and i^rrs^, the 
tongue, &c. It may take on an entirely new meanmg 
without the change of form, as in ju^Sulj which form- 
erly meant ' withering ' as well as the ' hearth ', but 
now only the latter ; ^® was ' sheep ' and * victory » 
in old Tamil, but now only the ' sheep '; Q^trssiu. was 
the body and now the * thigh'; QL^d(g was a * pit ' and 
now the * east ', &c. 

II. Loss of the old materials of language. It may 
be a loss of complete words or a loss of grammatical 
forms and distinctions. There are many Tamil 
words which are not used by modern authors, so 
freely as the ancients did, though they have co : 
down to us in poetical dictionaries. These words 
may therefore be said to be practically dead to the 
present Tamilians. But yet, there are other kinds 
of words such as the revenue terms like SeoeurB^ ^sr&jfft, 
QesrearuD, Qfimstru^, srrir ^^sasuuS^ssiS' , &c., words signify- 
ing certain social customs, such as Qfi^mssilj^iTL^, 
^LDiDiTLULb, s/]S^iJ1^^6\},&Cc the cxact mcauings o f which 
are now lost. Thus with the change of customs and 
political institutions, those words went out of the peo- 
ple's memory and were for a practical purposes lost. 
As for the loss of grammatical forms, we may find 



some occurring in early Tamil, but which have now 
become obsolete ; for example, past tense in q as in 
/F«(5L/, future in (5 as in ^ji®, instrumental case in 
^isk as in iSskssBjbjDii^, &c. 

III. Production of new materials — new words and 
new forms. Civilization brings with it new thoughts 
and new ideas which require new words to express 
them. Such words are either borrowed or coined 
for the nonce out of the existing words in the lang- 
uage, or by metaphorically extending the meanings 
of old words. Most words relating to religion and 
philosophy are borrowed from Sanskrit ; revenue 
terms are adopted from Persian and Arabic; 
administrative terms are borrowed from English' 
besides some colloquial words like 'gate', * compounds 
'coat', 'tiffin', 'clean', etc., used in daily life. There 
are not very many grammatical forms newly intro- 
duced as we find in English (if we compare modern 
English with that of Bede or Chaucer), because the 
grammar of the Tamil language was written so early 
as the third or fourth century B. C, and the conser- 
vative instinct of the Tamils has been so strong, that 
new grammatical forms either by coinage or by loan 
have been jealously guarded against. It is a settled 
principle that when a language borrows, it borrows 
mostly nouns and adjectives ; verbs are rarely taken 
from other languages ; and particles never. 

All the above changes were due to the operations 
of the principles of phonetic decay and emphasis, and 
analogy, aided, doubtless, by climate, food and edu- 


cation of the society but not of the individual. These 
will be explained fully with reference to Tamil in the 
following pages. 

According to VI. Hovelacque, Tamil is one of the 
five hundred principal languages spoken on the face of 
the globe at the present day. Morphologically, the 
existing languages are divided into four groups, viz. 
isolating, agglutinative, polysynthetic and inflectional. 
The morphological classification is based entirely on 
the form or manner in which the roots or the final 
elements of a language are put together to form words 
and sentences. In the isolating languages, like Chinese, 
the roots are used as words, each root preserving its 
full independence, unrestricted by any idea of person, 
gender, number, time or mood ; and, in fact, lan- 
guages of this kind do not require any grammar. 
This is called the radical stage. In Chinese, nan^ 
male ; niu, female ; whence nan tse — son, niu tse = 
daughter, niu jin = \vovna.n. In the agglutinative lan- 
guages when two roots join together to form a word, 
one of them loses its independence subjecting itself to 
phonetic corruption. This is called the terminational 
stage. In Tamil maga, isiiue, becomes by the 
addition of n and / (corruptions of avan and 
aval) magan = son and magal = da.ugh.ieT, When 
words blend together in a sentence by syncope 
and ellipsis, it is called polysynthesis. This is a 
feature peculiar to American languages. Thus in the 
Algonquin, the sentence Nadliolineen=bnng us the 
canoe, is made up of naten=brmg, amochol = 


canoe, / = euphonic, and neen={o us. Languages in 
which relations between words are expressed not only 
by suffixes and prefixes, but also by a modification of 
the form of roots, are called inflectional languages. 
For example, in Sanskrit Vinsati, twenty, is composed 
of two roots dvi, two, and dasati, ten ; and the Sans- 
krit eti, he goes, is composed of two roots, i, to go 
and ta, the demonstrative pronoun. 

Some philologists do not make much distinction bet- 
ween agglutination and polysynthesis, thus counting 
only three forms of speech in preference to four, 
which is the view accepted by recent writers on 
the subject. The theory that languages must pass 
through the monosyllabic and the agglutinating 
phases successively before reaching the inflectional 
stage — a theory current when Dr. Caldwell wrote his 
Comparative Grammar of the Dravidian Languages — 
has now been given up. An isolating dialect does 
not become agglutinative, or an agglutinative one 
inflectional. The radical feature of a language 
explained in this fourfold classification, besides being 
innate to that tongue, is expressive of the racial char- 
acter of the people that speak it ; it cannot change 
from one class to another though it can be modified 
or altered by external circumstances. 

To the agglutinative group belongs Tamil, while 
Sanskrit is the most ancient cultivated member of the 
inflectional family. Morphologically, the one has no 
connection whatever with the other. Some Tamil 
scholars seem to expect that their language will, in the 


ordinary course, one day or other, reach the inflectional 
stage and claim sisterhood with Sanskrit. Their 
expectation will, indeed, prove a baseless dream ; and 
similarly, the attempt of some Malayalam scholars to 
elevate their Dravidian home-speech to the dignity of 
the classic inflectional Sanskrit, by purging it of its 
native element in order to import therein en bloc the 
grammar and vocabulary of that sacred language, may 
remind one of the ' Jackal miracle ' of saint Manikka 

Relying on the traditions narrated in the Tamil 
pnranas, the non-Brahman Saiva pandits of the 
orthodox school hold that Sanskrit and Tamil were 
created by god Siva as his twin children, and in proof 
of their divine origin they cite the Vedas and the 
Devara hymns. The * Kanchipurana ' and the ' Tiru- 
vilayadalpurana ' assert that Siva taught the Tami 
grammar to Agastya, as he had in former days taught 
the Sanskrit grammar to Panini. 
euu-QiDP L^eaiuu UfressBeaflsi^ iSij(^^^(T^sffl m ^ p@'2essr uu!r ^ 

According to a third tradition Subrahmanya was 
the teacher of Tamil to that sage. Sivagnanasvami, a 
conceited Saiva monk and scholar of the eighteenth 
century, writes in his ' Tolkapya-sutra-vritti ' that 
the Tamil grammar of Agastya was the only 
Tamil work that had come into existence on the day 
of the creation of the Tamil language. — Q^ih^sL^u^ 


^s^^tuQmnmQ p imrssonm. On the other hand, the 
Jains beheve that Agastya learnt his Tamil from 
Avalokita. Following the traditions current in their 
days, the poets Kamban and Villiputturar have said 
that the language itself was created by Agastya : 

^s^^iumtJLuis, Qg:^^Qs=iT6i)rr!resaria(^. — Vil, 
All these would only amuse the school children of 
modern days. 

But Sanskrit and Tamil, though they may have 
been the oldest, were not the only two languages 
prevalent m the Bharata Varsha. In the extreme 
south we have now Telugu, Kanarese and Malayalam 
besides minor dialects, each being considered by 
its speakers as valuable as, and even more than^ 
Tamil. The Telugus call Tamil aravam or 'soundless', 
and the Kanarese speak oi it as the 'stammerer's lan- 
guage' (iigalu). These vernaculars which are, however^ 
closely allied to one another are collectively known 
as the 'Dravidian family'. 

No definite laws for the permutation of vowels 
and consonants in the allied words of these lan- 
guages, like those of Grimm or Vernor, could 
be framed as they had been influenced to a very 
considerable extent by Sanskrit before their gram- 
mars were written. Tamil is the only solitary excep- 
tion. Though Malayalam has been the most un- 
fortunate of the family, having been affected most by 
Sanskrit, the consonantal interchanges in Dravidian 
words between it and Tamil are almost trifling, 


15 L 

except such as we find between the refined Tamil and 
its vulgar form. This proves the lateness of its 
separation from Tamil, We give below a table to 
show some of the striking changes which the words 
undergo in Tamil, Malayalam, Kanarese, and Telugu. 





(1) k.kai. 

k. kai. 

§. ^(^i. 

ch. chey. 

(2) ch. sevi. 

ch. chevi. 

k. kevi. 

ch. chevi. 

(1)) p. pattn, 

p patta, 

h, V. hattii, 

m. padi. 



havn . 


(4) V, zh. 

V, zh. vazha. 

b, 1. bale. 

• • • 


(5) r. pertya, 

1. valiya . 

. . • 

d, 1. pedda, 

valiya, teri. 


(6) zh. ezhu. 

zh. ezhu. 

1. elu. 

d. edit. 

The degree of relationship between Tamil and 
Sanskrit, which are the only two important language 
known to the Tamils, has been variously estima- 
ted. During the early centuries of the Christian 
era, the Tamils, who were not much acquainted 
with Sanskrit, seem to have always held that 
Tamil was an independent language and that it 
had nothing to do with Sanskrit. They did not attri- 
bute its origin to Siva, Subramanya or Agastya, as the 
imaginative and sectarian scholars of a later date have 
done. But when they came under the influence of 
Sanskrit culture, that was subsequent to the seventh 


or eighth century A. D., and when Sanskrit puraiuis 
and other Sanskrit religious literature were in- 
troduced, the views of Tamil scholars began to 
change. Most of them were acquainted with both 
Tamil and Sanskrit ; ye.t they had greater love and 
reverence for the latter, as their Vedas and Puranas 
and Agamas were written in that language ; and this 
partiality or rather a sentiment verging on odiiiui 
theologicum induced them to trace Tamil f^rom Sans- 
krit just as the early European divines tried 
to trace the Western languages from the Hebrew. 
The authors of ' Neminadam ' and * Virasoliam' and 
the commentators of the Tolkapyam and the 
Kural countenanced the above view. Again, in the 
eighteenth century the authors of 'Ilakkanakkottu' 
and 'Prayoga Vivekam', both of whom were good 
Sanskritists, boldly asserted that Tamil was a dia- 
lect of Sanskrit with a grammar common to both. 
Swaminatha Desika writes. — 

jH&srnSiLjfB ^iAlt^^jb setreiS^ei) LUQjpgti 

QmiT&srQ p LunaS^iB ^enB^fiL^ (i^eearQi—tT 

pztsipLuQeu sn espi eu !TfS<Si\ssii~. QuuirQwy 

euL-QmiTL^ ^uSi^Qld/tl^ Quj^lSIq^ Quhtl^uSi^ 

'j^&)ss6sar QuDiTsisiQp QtueisrQp Qiuem^iis. 

He thinks that savants will be ashamed to say that 

a language can exist, whose distinguishing feature 

is the possession of only five letters, namely, ob, tg, sw, 

p and <ow^ or ct, 9, £^, p and ew, and wants us therefore 


to accept that the grammar is one and the same both 
for Tamil and Sanskrit. This is the logic and the 
philological acumen of a divine andthe head of a non- 
Brahman Saiva monastery. While another scholar 
and a Brahmnan contemporary of the above has 
almost upet the Tamil grammar by his indiscreet 
substitution of Sanskrit terminology. His book, after 
all, is a logomachy and is no improvement on its pre- 
decessors. He says, — a;L_QtD/rL^/i@,5 ^Ldii^QLDiTL^s(^ih 

Qeup^oSiLD'jjiT&iiuD ^sifiii^ QqjQ p&sruasmrr QiBnsSi Qtueisrs. 

In determining the affinity of any two languages 
the points that must be considered are, — (a) the simi- 
larity of general structure, grammar (both in form 
and meaning) and signification; and {b) regular and 
uniform interchange of phonetic sounds between 
the languages compared. Of these, the first two 
relate to grammar, and the rest to the vocabulary of 
a language. We shall at the outset deal with the 
vocabulary which is less important. 

The vocabulary of modern Tamil is composed 
essentially of two elements only, the Tamilic or south- 
ern and the Sanskritic or northern. There are, indeed, 
a few dozens of foreign words chiefly relating to 
commerce and adminstration, introduced into the 
Tamil language during the past two or three centuries. 
Eliminating all the Sanskrit words from the Tamil 
dictionary, there will be a large residue of native 
words, which must have been the vocabulary of the 
original Tamils. They had been a tolerably civilized 


race before they came in contact with the Aryans. 
They had and still have their own terms pertaining 
to agriculture, anatomy, architecture, astronomy, 
commerce, , domestic economy, family relations, 
fauna and flora, language and literature, medi- 
cine, minerals, politics, religion, war, weights and 
measures, &;c., all of course in their primitive 
stage. «'T^ and Qs^dj, (^ituSsu and ^ihsm, «b<5 
and siiOj magii and Qanm, QfBe\) and urreo, Qpjbpui 
and U3.F*, ^iroj and ^uum, - Q^ib(^ and 3,!T<ss)Lp , 
/-/6>j? and y,s35.9^, siq^^^ and Q<frr&), uit and ^Ssjrjt, Qieit 
and <aus)S, Qsueneifl and Qurrm, ^'^p, ^^iT and Qstr, ^eS 
and si^eij&r, j>jLDLi and eSI<s\), u)it and s!^(^s? are all pure 
Tamil words, and they are not to be found in the 
Sanskrit language. In fact, every word of daily 
usage is Tamil. To establish any linguistic affinity, 
at least words denoting the simplest and the most 
ordinary family relationship must be identical. 
For example, the words ' father ' and * mother ' in 
English are represented by pitri and niairi in 
Sanskiit, pater and meter in Greek, pater and 
mater '\w Latin, vater and mutter in German, 
pitar 3.nd jnater m Zend, and so on. On the other 
hand, the corresponding relations are expressed in 
Tamil by appan and tay. This in itself is sufficient 
to prove that Tamil has no philological affinity 
with either Sanskrit or any Indo-European tongue. 

There are, however, certain words apparently of 
Tamil origin which may be found in Sanskrit. Dr. 
Caldwell gives a list of some thirty words which, he 


thinks, Sanskrit has borrowed from Tamil. They are, — 

^isiT^ Sl^'^^, Jtji—^, ^miMT, r^eesfly a®(^, a&drr , (^uf-t 
QsmLisai—j i§iT, ulLl^ssotiMj urrstj), ueom, iSm, ojeirsffl &C. 

Some are common to both languages and a more 
rational view is to believe them to have come from a 
common source. They are, — ^i^, 'j^rr, «/_, @l^, (s/^, 
(short), OcS®, ^, '51—, Qedj^ USD, u/r®, uneo, Qua^, Qu3f> 
L^, eueo, &c. The following canons will be of some 
help to detect such words. 

(1) When a word is an isolated one in Sanskrit 
without a root and without derivatives, but is sur- 
rounded in Tamil with collateral derivative words, 
that word is of Tamil origin. 

(2) When a word is not to be found in any of the 
Indo-European languages allied to Sanskrit, but is 
found only in Tamil, that word does not belong to 

Words of this kind are very few and form too slen- 
der a basis to prove the linguistic affinity or othrwise 
between Sanskrit and Tamil. 

Let us now pass on to grammar. 

Orthography : Sanskrit has 46 letters ov Variias — 
lo vowels or Svaras and 33 consonants or Vyanjanas, 
or 47 mcluding ^ which occurs in the Vedas. Besides 
these there are annswara and annnasika, represented 
by a dot, and a crescent and a dot respectively. Thus 
there are in ail 49 letters. Whereas we have in Tamil 
only 12 vowels, 18 consonants and a semi-vowel. Of 
these, two vowels and four consonants (including oo) 
are peculiar to Tamil and are not to be found in the 


Sanskrit language; deducting these six we have 25 
letters which are common to both; and Sanskrit has 
24 letters the sounds of which are not represented by 
any letter in Tamil. The possession of peculiar sounds 
like if, /D, iSOT and o°o exhibits the physiological charac- 
teristics of the Tamil people, differentiating their 
language from the Aryan tongues : and the very fact 
that Tamil possesses and largely employs the short 
sounds ST and 9 points to an origin, quite independent 
of Sanskrit. The short ct and 9 are not peculiar to 
Tamil, which every language except Sanskrit posesses 
although Swaminatha Desikar and other native 
scholars, blindly following Sanskrit grammarians, 
seem to think otherwise. In Tamil sel is to go, and 
s&l is a kind of fish; niel is to chew and niel is above; 
kol is to kill and kol is a stick, tol is old and tgl i^ the 
skin, noy is softness and ndy is sickness; and so on. 

Dr. Caldwell states that the diphthongs S and sgarr 
had no place in the Dravidian languages and that they 
were placed in their alphabets solely in imitation of 
Sanskrit. He further asserts that S in Tamil is a com- 
pound of CT and @ but not of ^ and ^ as in Sanskrit, 
and that it is an equivalent of si in Malayalam and of 
<5T in Kanarese. As for e^arr he believes that it has no 
place in the Tamil alphabet except for pronouncing 
Sanskrit derivatives only. As against these observe 
what Tolkapyar says. — 

^sir ^sir (oSiLDSiTaLDrr(^ua. — I. 54. 

r^&a a_<55ir QLDeirsiTinDiT(^i}i. — I. 55. 

U6sre!^0uS(Tr Qlditl^ qp^soit(^ld. — I. 59. 


It is thus unsafe to accept Dr. Caldwell's view in 
violation of the above rules, as there are pure Tami 
word in S and ^<sir^ as ^euesno, e^/sinsSuuiM, esijsiuso, 
Q^msaoj, es)u^&), QufsirsuLJo, &c. The Tamil S becomes 
=gy but not sj in Malayalam; compare ^'2e>j and ^&), 
3<osyrr and <«j, S'Sev and /^su, &c. 

Word Formation: — The peculiarities of structure 
of Tamil words may be briefly noticed here. In 
the last essay something has been said of the 
initial, middle and final letters in words. That will 
doubtless help the reader to settle for himself which 
words are native, and which foreign. The following 
additional rules are worth his careful consideration. 

(1). Double consonants at the beginning, and triple 
consonants of different Vargas or classes in any 
position are not allowed in a Tamil word. Compare 
Sanskrit trayi, vaktram and vastraui. 

(2) In the middle of a word double consonants 
of different classes are not, as a rule, allowed ; words 
with eiiLi, Qjuj, emtu, essreij, itu, lduj, woj, &C., do not OCCur. 

(3). The doubling of the same consonant is very 
common in Tamil, but not so in Sanskrit. In Tamil 
we have akka, attai, annan, attaii, appaii, ainmai, &c. 

(4) No [Tamil word can begin with s=, <ss)s=, and 
0<?^sff; but Sanskrit allows these initial letters as in -fLDLj, 
(S5)9^ajih and Q^erriTujui. The Tamil words s^lLl^ and 
s^uDifi^GO are a later introduction. 

(5) Only the long tun can come at the beginning 
of a Tamil word, while others do not. In Sanskrit 
we have uj&jewrr, a^s^, ^'-"^■, (^(J-ifrsm and OajswOTru). 


(6) No Tamil words will end in i, s=, lL, ^, and 
u. But in Sanskrit there are words like p/itakf 
vach, rat, pat, and yup. 

As in Sanskrit, Tamil words are either simple 
or compound. Simple words are formed from 
roots, which are either nominal or verbal, by the 
addition of formative particles, like o, *, ®, ^, i-i 

and J2/, J)l, Jljih, ^17, Jfjio, jffasr, ^, ^eo, ^6sr, @, ^su, a_, 
sm, e_LD, S, fflo«, 0, 0, u, mLD, eSI, emsu and /^, and srr®, 
urrQ, jtjfTSij and ^'^esr. Nouns, verbs, adjectives and 
adverbs, might be formed in this way. To prevent 
hiatus SI, ii> ox: &5T is sometimes added. From the 
verbal root Seo, to stand, the following words are form- 
ed, — iB'^, iS&)m, fSeoeij &c ; from V ^il, to kill, we have 
=sy®, <=gj®, sji—eS, ^(SuLj, j)jlL®, ,jyi-ii), j^i—eo, ^i^ii(^, &c; 
from '^ jij/b, to cut, we get =^j2/, ^eap^ ^s)"ssi&i^ sjpu^, 
ji/^uLj, ^jbjSLD, j)f3)i0, ^/Dso, &c ; and from V fBil, to 
walk or dance, are derived isi-, tBi-^^&n, rsi—ui-i, issai—, 
isi—ims, (elLl^ld, &c. The nominal root ssim (the eye) 
becomes mem, to see, by lengthening the vowel. 

in Tamil, roots are always monosyllabic, ending in 
long vowels, or in a short vowel and a consonant. 
There are 42 single-letter words, which must essen- 
tially be monosyllabic, and these are either verbs or 
nouns. There are other monosyllabic nouns like 
Q^treo, s&), mGrn, unasr, &c. Compound words are 
made up of simple words; tor example, u/fl-oj/r (horse) 
is a compound of Lj^=to run, and LDrT=a. beast, <«®- 
fiu/r(Zj (tiger) from <s®=rough or cruel, and Q;/r(u=raouth. 
Mostly such compounds are epithets or metaphors. 


It will be seen from the examples given above 
that the formative elements or terminations are all 
post-positions, and that the roots rarely change their 
forms, barring the shortening or lenthening of verbs 
as in «sOT-«/7-60OT, eSQ-s^Q, and the slight consonantal 
changes peculiar to Tamil euphony. 

On the other hand, the terminations used to form 
derivative bases in Sanskrit are of two classes : — 

(1) Krt or primary affixes which are added to 
verbs to form nouns, adjectives, &c. For example* 
karah (the hand) is the noun form of kri, to do ; cluir 
(to steal) becomes chorayat, stealing ; tikia is the ad- 
jectival form of vach, to speak; and ishta from yaj, 
to sacrifice, &c.. Prepositions are prefixed to roots to 
form nouns, &c., as in a-kash, nis-chitya, vij-kri, &c. 
(2) The taddhita or secondary affixes are add- 
ed to substantives to form secondary nominal bases. 
One studying vyakarana is a vaiyakarani ; that 
which IS made by a kulala is kaiilalakani ; 
father of pita is pitamaha ; son of Dakshi is DaksJia- 
yanah ; son of Agni is Agneyah ; a herd of hasttit is 
hastikam; belonging to Panini is Panineya ; one 
possessing vakis vachalah, &c, 

A comparison of the terminations or affixes used to 
form words, and of the methods of forming them, in 
Tamil and Sanskrit will convince the reader that they 
differ in both languages. The taddhita class, espe- 
cially, is characteristic of Sanskrit, and it was only 
the lack of the historic sense, so common among the 
Tamil grammarians, that led the author of Prayoka 


vivekam to say ' €S^iEms(^(3ui^uQuajQrreoeonih ^^^^mj* 
In consequence of the differences in the structure 
and formation of words their coalescence or sandhi 
(T. i-jsmiTf^.) must also differ in the two lan- 
guages. This difference is observable chiefly in 
vowel changes. The Tamil rule of sandhi is, 

^. ff: S <3JL^ LueueijLD sj^^sTLLjuSiTQj i^ Qjojeifui. — Nan, 
The short &. has the nature of a consonant. Ac- 
cording to this rule, LD6S3fj+ J)jL^^z=LD€SsftuJLp<^ ; ^ITIT + 
^^g)! = ^!nTistjeer g)} • ue\}fT + ^?sw =ue\)frisSl'2e\>' imi -f &-!T&>=s 

LDIT£ijJT60 j f5rT(^ + J>jrfl^ = IB/TSffl^ ; & gU + Jt/SST = & gVOlSSr . 

Whereas according to svara-sandhi they should 

become LDSsaiLui^^^ ^aams)!^ usO/rSsw and ldQ!TIT!T&). 
There are many other peculiarities in the combina- 
tion of Tamil words not found in Sanskrit, which it 
is in possible to explain in this essay. 

Simple words join together to form compounds. 
In Sanskrit there are six classes, namely, (1) Dvandva 
or ^-LD(ss)LD^Qs!T(ssiSj{2) Tatpurusha or QaipgiKsiaLD^Q^nissis 
(3) Karmadharaya or usotl/^Q^/tsw*, (4) Dvigu or 
(srssm^u^Q^TesiSy (5) Bahuvrihi or ^ssrQLOfTL^^Q^rr^s 
and (6) Avyayibhava or the adverbial compounds. 
Corresponding to these we have in Tamil a set- of six 
compounds known as, 

^mQuiiTL^ Qmesreij^ Q^!TSS)S njiT(7rf'(^ih. — Nan. 
^.^esiLD^Q^rresis is included in the Karmadharaya ; 
and erem^u^Q^irssiri or Dvigu of Sanskrit (Ex : 
^jrnarr&ij umssfi(t^UL^s\)uD) is contained in ^ujeanL^Q^iTema, 
uemLj^QsTsois and jtimQuorrL^^Q^rretss of Tamil. Thus 


eS^ear ^Q ^trsBs alone remains to be accounted for and 
that is peculiar only to Tamil. 

The peculiarities of structure and formation of 
words in Sanskrit have compelled the Tamils to 
modify them,! when borrowed, so as to suit the mor- 
phological features of the Tamil tongue. The 
words thus borrowed are of two classes — the iatsajiias 
and the tatbUavas. It is only the second class that 
undergoes change in Tamil. At the time of Tolkap- 
yar the Sanskrit words in Tamil were very few, and 
he felt no necessity to frame rules for their adoption. 
He was content^by saying, — &€a)^ih^€m eirfl^ uSeauji^ssr 
Qjes)!TiLiiTiT. The later Tamil grammarians, however, 
observing the large influx of Sanskrit words and their 
use in a variety of forms, were constrained to give 
fixity to them; by providing authoritative rules ; and 
they are to be found explained in the ^^^I^uul^&)u> 
of Virasoliyam and in the ufisSiujeo of Nannul. 
Their main object was to evade or soften difficul- 
ties in pronouncing two consecutive consonants 
in a word, or a'l'^word beginning with a consonant 
not allowed^ by the Tamil usage, by introducing 
vowels. ThuslSanskrit ratna is changed mXo o.raian- 
am or irattitiam, sakshi into sakki or satchi ; yaksha 
into iyakkaii, laksJiana into ilakkaua, &c. This is 
evidently'a stage-more advanced than the monosvl- 
labic Chinese which converts 'Christ' into 'Ki-jisu-tu' 
and 'Maharashtra' into 'Mo-la-cha,' but far below the 
inflectional Sanskrit, which evinces 'the strength and 
directness^of character and scorn of difihcullies' in 
the Indo-Aryan race. 


Etymology : There are four parts of speech or 
Qsjio in Tamil, namely Qutuir (noun), sS^esr (verb), 
^sroi_ (particles) and a.^ (attributives). It is an ac- 
cepted principle with Tamil grammarians that all 
parts of speech are ultimately reducible to only two — 
substantives and verbs ; and this is also the view of 
modern philologists. Says Tolkapyar, 

Qs^aeoQleo&STU u®u QuinQiT eSl'2esiQtjum 
Qj/'.aSlireaar Qu-mu eutBii,QQ QiGsy^a. — II, 160. 

Of these the noun and the verb require no explana- 
tion. ^5S)L^s=Qs=fr&) means the middle word — that is a 
part of speech common to both nouns and verbs. 
It consists of all particles, terminations or post- 
positions which go to change or modify the meaning 
of nouns and verbs with reference to time, place, 
subject, action, &c. Thus it embraces the particles 
of tense, personal terminations, case endings, demon- 
strative letters, conjunctions, interjections, euphonic 
expletive particles, and in fact every particle that has 
no meaning by itself, independent of the noun or 
verb to which it is attached. ^iBs^Qs^itso treats of the 
various qualities of nouns and verbs, and it therefore 
includes adjectives and adverbs. The metaphysical 
explanation of s^>f^3='^€=ai^ given by .Sivagnanamuni is, 
— ^^'osnnjueanrLji) Q ^ f7 i^ p u esm'^LDfr Si aj Qu^Q^LLuom^tauJLfsaarn ^ 
^(J5Q#7«jo o_n9iO<rffsu. Elsewhere, he goes on to say 
that «i_, <su/r, QpsisSuj Qfi3,S2isoSi^i Q^ffi^ pu^emssu 
u^63w/r^^@ QfirpaeaassSm o^ifls^Qs^rrSo QeOiuiio. This 
explanation seems to me very obscure, and it is the 


merit of his commentary to make it more abstruse 
and unintelligible than the text itself. It will thus be 
seen that the classification of words, other than Qutu,T 
and &9'2em, into ^^i^fQ^rreo and p^fl^Qraso was 
neither definite nor phik)Sophic^I. These words have 
been variously classified and often in a conflicting 
manner by later grammarians. For instance, the 
author of Prayoga-Vivekam has said that Q&neoQ&iio 

<si)'TLD &^ifls^ Qs^fre\)QsOujfr Qldsst g ^ssafls. 

The differences between the Tamil and Sanskrit 
parts of speech may be briefly stated as follows : — 

(1) Like all other classical languages Sanskrit has 
three numbers, while Tamil has only two. The dual 
number or ^Q^smu) must have existed in early TamiL 
It evidently became mixed up with ussr^^o or the 
plural number and so vanished out of Tamil 
giaiUinar. g)f or it which means 'two' was the dual 
termination, and «srr for the plural. Now 'T is reser'/ed 
as an honorific termination for pluralising ' high 
caste ' nouns and verbs, and ■sik for all. 

(2) All nouns denoting inanimate objects and 
irrational animals are of the neuter gender {^oo pS'^essr), 
and those denoting r itional beings (like man, God, 
and Nagas) are of the high-caste or superior gender 
s_uj/f^3sOTr. Whereas in Sanskrit no such philosophic 
and sexnal distinctions are niade ; here the grammati- 
cal gender is only ' a secondary accident of speech 
ornamental, perhaps from an aesthetic point of view, 
but practically highly detrimental.' No definite rules 
could, therefore, be laid down for the determination 


of gender in Sanskrit; soma, the 'moon' is masculine,. 
ruchi, ' taste ' is feminine, and j^uiran, ' son' is neuter.. 
It will thus be seen that gender in Sanskrit depends on 
the peculiar structure of words, but not on the sex or 
the intelligence of the objects expressed by them. 

(3) Tamil n^uns are inflected not by means of 
case terminations, but b^? means of suffixed post- 
positions and sepaiaie particles. The inflectional 
base m ilie oblique cases is the root in Sanskrit, while 
in Tamil it is the nominative, except the first and 
second personal pionouns /s/rear^ S, Sit and i§<sSit which 
alone ch nge their forms. For example, in Sanskrit 
the roots vach (speech) and raj (king) become vak 
and rat in the first or nominative case, while in 
Tamil the roots Gspnei' (word) and ado (stone) remain, 
the sanie. In declining nouns the same case termina- 
tions are added to the root for the singular and to the 
plural terminations for the plural (e. g., aeu^, A/bs'Setr), 
But in Sanskrit and otiier IndoGermanic languages, 
the case endings of the plural differ from those of 
tht singul-:ir. As Dr. Caldwell rightly observes, — 'the 
imitation of Sanskrit was certainly an error, for whilst 
in Sanskrit there ?re eight cases only, the number 
of cases in Tamil, Telugu, &c., is almost indefinite,' 
being limited only by the number of post- 
positions that may be attached to the noun. 
And it is this indefiniteness that has given an endless 
trouble to the Tamil grammarian Tolkapyar, whohas 
devoted three complete chapters for cases only ; 
and these have been supplemented by another by the 
au thor of Ilakkanakkottu. 


(4) Tamil has no relative pronouns. The exis- 
tence of two pronouns of the 1st person plural, one 
of which includes and the other exxludes the person 
addressed, is a peculiarity ot Tamil, affiliating it to 
Turkic and other agglutinating tongues and differenti- 
ating it from Sanskrit. 

(5) There are six tenses and four moods in Sanskrit, 
while Tamil has only three tenses and three raoods^ 
The existence of a negative and a passive voice 
in the verbal system is peculiar to Tamil, the latter 
being expressed- by auxiliary verbs signifying to 
' suffer'. The subjunctive and the optative moods 
are expressed by means of suffixed particles, and the 
other three tenses by means of auxiliary verbs. There 
is no benedictive mood in Tamil. The structure of 
the verb is strictly agglutinative, the second person 
singular of the imperative being an exception. The 
view of Senavaraiyar and Sivagnana-muni that — 
^ QiusisT^t}) ~i'(m^(^'sbr(3 iBs—eai &-sanr ^ot ctott" Sm pesr 
&je\)Si>^ Qp^ssfl'hso'iQetr QiuiT'Sms^Qwgi uirLLc^fTisaretjeiJfT^ 
fSssr/DesT Qojmu^ ui—rr^ — does not seem to be accep- 

(6) In Sanskrit, adjectives are declined like 
nouns, which they qualify in gender, number, and 
case. In Tamil, adjectives which are only nouns of 
quality (p^iBs^Q^ireo ), have none. In Sanskrit the 
adjectives have degrees of comparison, while those 
of Tamil have none at all. The Sanskrit adjective 
priya is positive, and its comparative and superlative 
are priyas and preshta. 


(7) There are no prepositions or conjunctions in 
Tamil except p-w which is only a continiiative particle. 
It is the peculiarity of Tamil derivatives that none of 
them are formed by prefixed particles. But some 
might say that in ^auesr, ^eudr, &c,, the letters j)j, @ 
are prefixes. But they are pronominal words or 
roots, but not particles. 

Rhetoric : The Tamil rules of prosody relating 
to the structure and division of syllable, foot, stanza, 
rhyme, &c., are diff(^rent from those of Sanskrit. 
Venba, Asiriyappa, Kalippa and Vanjippa are ail 
peculiar only to Tamil. The treatment of Porul 
matter) into again (subjective or amatory) and piirani 
(objective,chiefiy warlike), and the division of conduct 
into five ^'bssw <<ic., are not to be found in Sanskrit. 

The foregoing arguments, to show the indepen- 
dence of Tamil fiom Sanskrit, may be summed 
up in the words of Sivagnanamuni as follows: ^tSu^ 

^LD Qun(rp,LLunQ,un®S(mU', (s^rSi(^^QisuLLS Qp^sSliu ^2sssru 
U!T(^un(Si.i(smLDj Qeuemurr ^su pfSeisr U(^^s^ld Qp^eSliu 
Qi3=djii^eifl&)s3GSBrQfiiJD ^(smQ^iTissjsin iS/osijLh eui—QLDiTLpj'jSIp 
Qu/DuuL-fT. Even the author of Prayoga Vivekam who 
has attempted in the early chapters of that work to 
prove the identity of Tamil and Sanskrit grammars 
is obliged to admit with candour the essential differ- 
ences between the two languages thus: p'Bsmiq&soriT^^giju) 
<a53E37 ia?@,®J'(4U), ^esmuneo Quemune^ pssojit^^ld <sSl'^esj(oS 


With such authoritative admissions before us, the 
complete independence of Tamil from Sanskrit must 
be accepted, in spite of the futile attempts of later 
Tamil grammarians to trace one from the other. All 
that we can say at present is that Tamil occupies the 
^ame postition in ihe Dravidian family that Sanskrit 
does in the Aiyan — that is, Tamil is the oldest and 
the most cultivated of the Dravidian or South 
Indian family ot languages. 

But it cannot altogether be denied that Tamil or at 
any rate its Dravidian parent and the Aryan languages, 
though they do not possess the least morphological 
ieatuies in common, did not influence one another 
before their separation. Dr Caldwell gives the follow- 
ing Indo-Europeanisms as discoverable in the 
Dravidian languages : — 

(1) The use of n, ek, as in Sanskric and Greek to 
prevent hiatus. Ex : Skt. a + adi = anadi ; Tam. 
in + a = ninci. 

(2) I'he existence of gender in the pronouns of the 
third person and in verbs, and in particular the exist- 
ence of neuter gender. Ex : jiteiissr, ^eueh and ^^. 

(B) The existence of a neuter plural, as in Latin, in 
short ^. Ex: T. euiB^sm, Lat. templa (temples). 

(4) The use of d or i (^) as the sign of the neuter 
singular of demonstrative pronouns, or pronouns of 
the third person. Ex : Skt. iai ; Tam. ^^. &c. 


(5) The formation of a remote demonstrative from 
a base in jy, the proximate from a base in ^. Ex : 
Skt. adah, idmn ; Tarn. =gy#7, @jp. 

(b) The formation of preterites by d. Ex : Skt. 
/'■/, jita, Tam. 'sun^ o;®^, &c. 

(7) The formation of some preterites by redupHca- 
tion. Ex : Skt. pash^ papacha ; Tam u^^, q^(5, &c. 

(8) The formation of verbal nouns by lengthening 
the vowel of the verbal root. Ex: Skt. nat-natya^ guh- 
gildam, &c ; Tam. uSissr-i^^m , /Hi^-s^i^, &c. 

It is said that the Drnvidian languages m thei*" turn 
exerted an equal, if nnt greater, influence on Sanskrit 
and her North Indian dialects. This is what every- 
body might nauirally expect, considering that the 
Prakrit dialects came into existence during historic 
times and that the peoples whose mother tongue 
they are, have, from remote antiquity, been living in 
the midst of the Dravidian races. Moreover, all those 
who speak them are not Aryans. 

The Dravidian influence on the grammar of the 
Indo-Aryan languages has been detailed by Dr Cal- 
dwell as follows : — The inflection of nouns by means 
of separate post-fixed particles added to the oblique 
form of the noun ; the inflection of the plural by 
annexing the same sign as for the singular; the use of 
two pronouns for the first person plural — the one in- 
cluding and the other excluding the party addressed; 
the use of post-positions instead of prepositions ; the 
formation of verbal tenses by means of particles ; 


the situation or the relative sentence before the indi- 
cative ; the situation of the governing word after the 
governed ; the use of I, err ; and the preference of 
cerebrals to dentals. 

Affiliation of Tamil : It is superfine us to 
mention here that Tamil is the oldest member of the 
Dravidian group of languages. No scholar has yet 
attempted to construct the primitive Dravidian lan- 
guage from which the modern Tamil, Telugu, Kana- 
rese and other dialects have sprung. A comparison 
of this hypothetical languai^e with the other groups 
of the agglutinative family might yield satisfactory 
facts for establishing its affiliation- But in the 
absence of such data we must take the aid of ethno- 
logy and such linguistic resources as may at present 
be available. 

In the chapter on the origin ol the Tamil people 
we have said that the original Dravidians came to 
India from Western Asia through the North-Western 
passes on the Himalayas, and that they mingled 
with the aboriginal races of Nagas and the Negrito 
people after they had settled in the extreme south 
of the Indian Peninsula. Hence the language of the 
Dravidians must have undergone changes as a result 
of the influence of the crude Australian dialects 
spoken by the Naga and Negrito autochthones. As 
however, the modern Dravidian languages have 
not yet been completely analysed, it is not possible at 
present to separate the Dravidian from the aborigi- 
nal linguistic elements. But this much seems to 


be certain, that the primitive Dravidian language was 
influenced by Semitic and the Aryan languages 
on the one side, and by the Finno-Hungarian idioms 
on the other. And, but for some broad morpholo- 
gical pecuharities, there is no trace of the Aus- 
tralian influence to be found in the Dravidian lan- 
guages. From what has been said in the first essay 
and from what follows, it will be plain that the 
Dravidian languages must he allied to the Uralo-Altaic 
group, though they cannot be geneologically classed 
with It. No other theory can satisfactorily account 
for the presence of Greek, Keltic, Hebrew and Finno- 
Hungarian words in Tamil. 

The following grammatical features are common 
to the languages of the Dravidian family and the 
Uralo-Altaic group : — 

(1) Words are never formed by prefixes but 
always by suffixes so that the principal root may in- 
variably stand first. Ex : /Fi_, isi—is^, isi—i^^, &c. 

(2) Declension is effected by agglutinating secon- 
dary or relational particles to the principal root. 
Suffixes are added to the root or to the plural element, 
that is the plural sign is always mtercalated betw'een 
the noun and the post-position. Ex: ssd, «eD?sw; sjbs&r^ 

(3) Consonantal system is simple, and letters 
approaching in e^ound the Tamil ^^ will be f(jund in 
some languages of the Uralo-Altaic group. 

(4) The adjective which is ameie qualifymg noun 
comes always before the word it qualifies, except in 


Basque, and the degrees of comparison are expressed 
by words meanino 'more', 'less', &c. 

(5) Tenses and moods are formed by the in- 
sertion of certain elements between the root and the 
personal ending. Ex : Qs=&)-\- p-{-^ek=Qfm(7rj'm. 

(6) There are no relative pronouns in Basque as 
in Tamil. 

(7) The existence of two pronouns of the first per- 
son plural, one of which includes and the other 
excludes the person addressed, is a peculiarity of the 
Dravidian languages. 

(8) Use of continuative particles in the place of 
conjunctions. Ex: Qs^ir^ih Qs^aifi^th. 

(9) The crude root verb is capable of being used 
in the imperative of the second person singular. 
Ex: iBi—, Qj/7, etc. 

(10) There are only two numbers in Turkish. 

In all these languages the so-called cases are formed 
by agglutination, their number being limited only by 
the number of post-positions that may be attached to 
the noun. 

Till very recently it was usual with comparative 
philologists to classify all languages which are neither 
Aryan, Semitic nor Hamitic under the Turanian or 
Scythian or Allophyiian family. But it has now 
been proved that there cannot be such a family as 
the Turanian or Scythian, as no two languages which 
are brought under it bear the same geneological 
relationship to each other as Sanskrit bears to Latin 
or Greek in the Aryan family, except that they are 


morphologically connected. The roots of each 
are different; so are their grammatical elements. The 
explanation for this difference lies in the fact 
that the Aryan languages — Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, 
Keltic, &c — separated at an epoch when their structure 
was already perfect. On the other hand, the so call- 
ed Turanian or Scythian languages seem to have 
parted when their structure was in an imperfect 
condition ; and so each of them was obliged to depend 
on its own resources or on borrowed elements 
available at hand to complete its inner structure. It 
has also been observed that in the course of formation 
and growth some of the languages of the Uralo- 
Aitaic group made use • of incorporation — a feature 
peculiar to the American languages. In the case of 
the Dravidian languages, their development and ap- 
proach towards the incorporating stage must have 
been arrested at a very early period by their literary 
culture, which was no doubt due to the Aryan 
influence. The position assigned to the Dravidian 
•languages by M. Hovelacque in tiie linjJuistic systems 
seems to us quite appropriate. He says, — ' they must 
be comprised among the first in the ascending order, 
that is among those i'mmediately following the 
isolating system, and anterior to Turkish, Magyar, 
Basque and the American languages.' 

So much for the origin of Tamil and its place in 
the linguistic systems of the world. Coming now to 
the history of the Tamil language, it may conveni- 
ently be divided into three periods, namely, (1) the 


early Tamil comprising the period between the 
sixth century before and after Christ ; (2) the 
mediaeval Tamil, occupying the interval between 
the sixth century and the twelfth century ; and (3) 
the modern Tamil, extending from the twelfth down 
to the present day. It is not proposed here to 
deal with it as completely as the importance of the 
subject demands. We shall, iiowever, briefly indicate 
the characteristics of each period to justify the 
rationale of the above cla^^sification. 

Early Tamil: During the first half of this period 
the prevailing religion was animism or the worship 
of the spirit of departed heroes and ancestors. It 
was afterwards supplemented by Buddhism ;md lastly 
by Jainism. Brahmanism, though it had already 
been transplanted into the Tamil c( untry, was very 
weak. The conflict of these religions for supremacy 
had not yet commenced. All the four religions exist- 
ed side by side and were tolerated. 

Early Tamil was the language used by the writers 
of the academic and the classic periods. And the 
peculiarities of this Tamil may be observed in the 
literature of those times, the important of which being 
the Agananuru, the Purananuru, the Pattuppattu, the 
Padirruppattu, the Silappadikaram and the Manime- 
kalai. The standard gram.mars of the epoch were the 
Tolkapyam, Pannirupadalam, Usimuri, &c. In our 
review of Padirrupattu, the special characteristics of 
the early TamU will be described at some length. 
We shall, however, say a few words here concerning 


them under the four-heads of vocabulary, gram na r 
style and matter. 

According to the late Mr. P. Sundaram Pillai's 
calculation the percentage of Sanskrit words in three 
of the Ten Poems (Pattuppattu) is between one and 
two. In the Nedunalva;lai there are altogether but 
twenty Sanskrit words, and in the Madnrai- Kanchi, 
a poem of 782 Hnes, the number does not exceed fifty - 
five. And in fact the introduction of Sanskrit words is 
strongly condemned by the be^t writers of the 
academic period. It was considered by them as the 
mark of an imperfect education. Two of the earliest 
Kanarese poets have characterized it as ' an unnatural' 
union...' or as the ' stringing of pearls along with 

Words of foreign origin were never introduced, 
notwithstanding the commercial intercourse of the 
Tamils with the Greeks, Romans, and Arabs, whom 
they indiscriminately called the Yavanas. Sanskrit 
words were very sparingly used and even these were 
mutilated in their form as will be seen in the following 
examples: (lpq^^^im, uns^ih, ^^sm , ^ss^sn, ^s^3=si>r, fSjiuu), 
^uSifi^j, p^<3!rQ, (j.T^, (&c. Some Tamil roots were used 
in sentences without formative particles as snio for 
arrpjpj, Qsu^ for QeuprS^ ^'Su, i§)QJ, a-ia/ and cufr for 
^miw, ^5a}(si]^ s^smsn and ujn'ss)^. Some words were 
used in senses which have now beom-s obsolete 
For example, Qs^suso meant a * horse', sosmi^ meant a 
'he-buffalo,' sefflgv meant ' a pig ' and Quirsbi was 'iron' 
&c. Relational words like CT-iyo-o)a/ = our younger sister, 


■^dr'2esT=my lord, s7«a»,5 = our lord or father, ^/5«ro^= 
your father, and ^mr, is^dit, ^J'-^it, have all become 
obsolete. Some classical words like §>:-^iu, to ' die', 
(ipsQ, to 'eat', ^ibslL®, 'there', grojdj, ' slowly', &c. have 
now become slang. 

Sometimes post-positions were added directly to 
the roots without the euphonic particles or s^inflesnw 
Por example, nufBiimii for t^erfl'uisisiruj, =§53537 for 

^eS^r, •^s\)eOfr(^s for ^sU'Sewojrr^S;, C^aretfti) for QslL 
i—fSQiufTixi, ^uaQiDesr for s^iTQ^Qmssr, ^lLu for ^(Suu, Qlduj&) 
for Quiujs^s^eo, una® for LBfrLLQ^Soc. The plural termination 
IT is very sparingly used and «^rr never, the abstract 
terms Qsuik^, ^lar^, &c., being perferred to concrete 
terms to avoid number. The use of distinctive termi- 
nations for the seven cases is not strictly adhered to, 
one or two post-positional particles like @«3t or ^^^ 
being used for all the seven cases. In fact, no 
finality concerning the uses ot case terminations was 
attained in practice. This ^^^ or g)sv) is a peculiar 
particle and it was used to express comparison also ; 
the expression usm'smu.uSljh Quiti^ meant, 'greater than 
it vsras before.' The present tense did not come into 
existence. The indehnite past and the indefinite 
future were the only tenses in use as in Hebrew and 
other languages. Andst>me of the tense particles like 
ff, 22ai^ (5^ L/, -iLD, tSlm which u'ere then in use have 
become obsolete, together witli a-sij? for a_LD (as in 
£f(^^ for ^(250). The post-position S was added 
to nouns to form verbs in tiie second person singular. 
The phrase snmsiBfTLJk>si lueant ' you who are the lord 


of the forest country.' The formation of some 
causative verbs like 9(z^@-s?(i^i(a5, Q^etfl-Q^erRji^ (to 
cause to become clear). Some verbal nouns were 
formed by adding to roots the suffixes which are 
used in modern Tamil to produce different senses, — 
©ifi@ (pit), QfimLj (strength), ump (flying), ^sv)m 
(poverty), t-jseo (abode), GwriLut^ Cyuig)* '^'^H (noun),, 
s^iTuu (brightness), and so on. 

Some of the adverbial and other particles which 
were freely in use during this period have become 
obsolete. They are ^so, Q/iiT<m'2esT, (si p^,\L£,ibgv, mmp, 
^(^a=LD^ (gswff, (dld:t^ ld^, @@"'j @^^, a-'5<^, etc. 

The literature of this period is all poetry — simple 
blank verse in chaste classic style devoid of rhetorical 
flourishes, figures of speech, hyperbolic descriptions, 
and intricacies of later prosody which mar the ex- 
cellence of modern Tamil poems; Asiriyappa, Kalippa,. 
Venba, and Kuratpa are the metres mostly used. The 
descriptions of events and scenery are all faithful and 
true to nature. 

The subject matter of most of these works is 
the panegyric of reigning kings, descriptive of their 
military prowess, their liberality, and their adminis- 
tration. Some of them depict poverty, chiefly of 
bards, in a very pathetic manner. Some are on 
morality, while only a few relate to religion. We 
subjoin a few specimen of early Tamil. 
(1) ^eo&^isas)^ ^p^^&S euBeisuMpk^smp^LD 

3k.Q^(^ QfflT^lEl aiS3)i_^ ^L^ 


^sirefflev su£iiiEi3e\}i ^pi^Lps ssaai® 

LD/DUi-i&S u^eenT^^ uj^iLna 3itlLi^uj 

QiSTis^ssr (SfrirQ ^isiD^eiaaj itjeirefflu 

QuiTi^i^iSosr QfsusS sitlLQu-Ost, — Puf. 160. 
(No food in the house ; the soft-haired babies suck- 
ed in vain the dried-up breast of their mother. Dis- 
appointed, they turned up the empty pots, and cried. - 
The mother hushed them with tales of the cruel tiger, 
and pointed to them the moon. Wearied and troubl- 
ed she told the starving ones to let their father see 
their misery.) 

(2) ■SniTLDS6)Lp QfimtSp SOiSUffli Q^(lp^0UD 

eurrasrwoeips (^Q^@ Q&5r®<Siiifl Quit pui 
QiiT&jBSffl Ju iSlssiL^iBfl Uoo^QT^p QiQr^Q^sl'oliun® 
Q(S''SiQsiiT ^L.iEi(^ Qsrts^ijjsSfr ev a uQ ut sSI i ^ 
Qfsvsif'^u'R fisaB^iSp siTsmi QLDmriQs. — Pad. 83. 
(Like the white paddy birds flyi "g beneath the 
canopy of dark winter clouds was the march of your 
army — the white banners streaming from above the 
herd of deadly elephants, thick shielded-men and 
chariots. So pleasing was the sight.) 

Medieval Tamil : It embraces the Brahmanic 
and the sectarian periods of Tamil literature. 
The early part of it was one of struggle for pre- 
dominence between Brahmanism on the one hand 
and Buddhism and Jainism on the other, in which 
the former came out triumphant, Buddhism being 
deprived of following in this land and Jainism crippl- 
ed. From this time forward the Brahman's influence 
became supreme; temples were erected for their 



gods ; and they themselves secured fertile villages 
for subsistence. Sanskrit puranas, local as well as 
general, were written and translated for the benefit of 
the Tamils. Then came into prominen ce a split 
among the Brahmans, which led to the formation of 
the Vishnu and Siva cults. The latter with all its 
attendant horrors of death and destruction became 
popular among the warlike Tamils. The literature 
of this epoch consists of hymns to Siva and Vishnu 
and of the accounts of the life and adventures of 
Siva and Subrahmanya, Rama and Krishna, and Jina. 
The standard works on Tamil grammar during this 
period were Tolkapyam, Virasoliyam, Nambi's Agap- 
pcrul, Neminadam, &c. 

Sanskrit words, chiefly relating to religion, were 
largely introduced, and some of the Tamil words 
and rorms current in the preceding epoch gave 
way to new ones. Plurals in .^sir, double plurals 
in ijs&r and mseir, present tense particles Qmgv and 
@^ and the use of distinctive case terminations 
came into existence. Some adverbial particles like 
Qmm'^!tssT, ^(S^^ld^ ^eo, Q^tuuj, &c., Completely went 
out of use. 

For poetry or metrical composition, which was 
still the only form of literary production, Asiriyam 
and Venba metres were not so much in favour 
as ihe Vrittam, Tandakam and others of Sanskrit 
.prosody. These were introduced with their alan- 
■Maras or embellishments. Rhyme and antadi form 
were introduced to render the recital of sacred songs 


easier. As for their style, the pure simpHcity and 
the natural beauty of the academic period were gone. 
Affectation and artificiahty even in excess were consi- 
dered a Hterary excellence. As it was a period of 
struggle for religious supremacy everyone of the four 
sects attempted to excel the rest by extoUing and ex- 
aggerating its own doctrines, and by fabricating 
miracles to support them. Truth was thrown in 
the back ground and its place was taken up by 
mythological accounts of pieter-natural events, 
such as one mij:;ht find in the puranas and 
itiliasas. Thus Chintamani, the Ramayana, the 
Skandapurana, the Tiruvilayadalpurana, the Periya- 
purana and the Mahabharata came to be replete with 
stories of this kind. However, a true spirit of devo- 
tion and piety, though blind or fanatical it might 
appear to us, pervaded the writings of this very 
troublous period. We give below some extracts : — 

(1) ^s^iBT tef^eaariT £UL^d^:BfT (enuSiT Q JirrfisiT (Sffli/JT ufTsm<—QLDjb 
aiTisumiT i,ifl<omsu Qujsisi /06\)iTjb SQ^Q^ok Qsirir ljsjt p sir^ifiu 

(2) etjfr(^S)(Xissar(^m)Q sueffliurrQ Q<!i]iT<s(fliLi{TQ. 
peir(es)Sl tLjuSlimS iLjssarsii>LO.LiLDiTiLi uSesreiaLDiijLciTLLj 

eijiT(eB)8 S^arfssiiu <in^'siQfiT6\)oS ^iri^^^suQsw . — T,V. 

(3) Qisuear/Sl luiris&i] Qios^i euirds^ia 

L£iebjfSlu-\iS) -a^'oiS QujiTL-Lfi arrdseinih 

Gunm g)i(^ s^ira^^ i^djQ uir qTj&t QfJjtLjQLD. 


(4) GurrmesB (SSj^ti QuTQ^usmi— ujuusmu. 
^sksirfl i^(^(B s/Tessfl ^/reBsfiaSp 

^sisi ssx,(k srr'^s £iisi5T^^esr ^&)'^(ciu. — Chili. 

lb) ^€3OTi_?Sy LLoSi^-iSiTfTL-Si filTLD(3S)!T 'sS SITSSIB^ITIEIsd [.^^' 

L^sOLDus fSsoiSrfldSSfT L9sisiQ(n/'L^j euih^fT&r. — Kain. 

Modern Tamil : To the Tamils the modern 
period which begms from the thirteenth century \s- 
important in every respect. The ancient kingdoms 
of the Cholas and the Patidyas were subverted. A 
powerful Telugu empire was coming into existence 
on the banks of the Tungabhadra, which before 
the close of the fifteenth century absorbed all the 
Tamil kingdoms. Then came the Mahratta and the 
Musalman hordes from the north, and lastly the Euro- 
peans from beyond the sea. Though the Telugus and 
the Mahrattas had come into the Tamil countries as 
fortune seekers, they settled there permanently being 
members of the same creed and nationality. The- 
Musahnans were not so ; they plundered the country, 
forcibly converted some of its people, and returned 
with booty leaving behind their deputies at certain 
centres of strategic importance like Arcot and' 
Trichinopoly. They farmed out the desolate country 


to renters,\vho oppressed and tortured the ryots. Many 
had to sell their Jands for nominal prices to escape 
persecution. In this way the people had suffered till 
the country passed into the hands of the British, 
whose advent was a god-send to the poverty-stricken 
and down-trodden Tamils. 1 cannot better express 
the happiness and prosperity of the Tamils which 
resulted from this change of sovereignty than in the 
words of Pugazhendi, 

strnQupp Q^rToSisQinrr assBtQupp euiTsmQpsQLDiT 
lirrQup ^'jjiTfB^ Sismpn&iQLDn — utrrrQupgu 

(The king regaining his dominions enters the city 
with his consort. With what shall I compare the 
universal joy of the people? Is il like the joy of the 
peacock at the sight of the gathering clouds, or of 
the face that has got back its eyes, or of the withering 
crop that quickens mto life when the rain falls ?) 

Till about the end of the seventeenth century the 
Tamil countries were ruled by Hindu governors. 
Brahmanical influence was in the ascendent. The 
learning of Sanskrit, Tamil and Telugu was encour- 
aged. Several original works in all these languages 
were written, besides innumerable commentaries 
■in Tamil as well as in Sanskrit on ancient works, 
-especially on the Nalayira Prabhandam, — all tending 
to harden and aggravate the sectarian and the tribal 
animosities, until a reaction set in during the succeed- 
ing period of Musalman despotism. Then for 


about half-a-century there was a lull, which 
was followed by the production of anli-Brah- 
manical, Christian and Islamic literatures. And it was 
only during the first half of the last century that the 
vernacular literature began to revive under the 
fostering care of the British administration. 

With the change in government, religion and 
social customs many Tamil words had gone out 
of use giving way to new ones — -s/r®, s^ppn^ and 
Qs.tlLi—ld as the administrative divisions of a 
country, Qi?6\}eoiTUJth, sair s^^sssuuffssi^^^ Qmearu)^ ^/SuSlsmp, 
Qs=s8<sm/o, LDsmsmu), &c., as names of public taxes, 

^LCiT^^LULO, SlJfTfflujih^ smsS^smm, S'LCLSlfH^, &C., aS official 
terms, (^gliessS, u^d(^, _^isssfl^ Qpii^rfl, SfreasBj «i^(^*, 
and other w^ords of native weights and measures are 
fast dying out except in out of the way villages, along 
with «/T<*, ueaarih, ^lL®, enniraim^ and Other deno- 
minations of old coinage. Most of the revenue and 
judicial terms, names relating to office furniture and 
stationery, and generally most words relating to the 
administrative machinary are Arabic, Persian or Eng- 
lish. The religious terms, of course, are all Sanskrit. 

There is nothing new in the gammar of this period, 
perhaps with the exception of a leaning towards a 
greater use of Sanskrit and foreign words by the 
educated classes, and the unconscious creeping in 
of several English words in the home-speech of 
the English educated Tamilians. 

Poetry was the only medium of literary expres- 
sion of thought in Tamil till about the begin- 


rJng of the last century, excepting of course, 
the extensive commentaries and copious notes on 
ancient poems. However, the natural ease and 
beauty of the writings of the academic and the 
liymnal periods were gone The ss\}}iljsjo, uj/tBso, 
^i^fT^, lSsit'^^3lSIu^, udsssB and «_'5ur were the 
different kinds of poesv adopted for shorter litt^rary 
compositions, and the Kavya(«T j-9ij:i))f()rm for longer 
and more descriptive A'orks hke tiie puranas. For 
these quasi-rehgious compositions all kinds of metres 
enumerated in the grammar books on prosody were 
freely made use of. Learning was then confined to a 
class of indolent men or relijous fanatics, who iiad 
no other work than this sort of ex-rcise in prosodial 
gymnastics and who depended for their precarious 
subsistence on the b junties of kings and noblemen. 
Their object was to display their skill in versifying 
and to scare the ordinary readers by making their 
stanzas obscure by the use of obsolete and am- 
biguous words as the following examples will 
show: — 

(1) iSljiDL^n^^os^pQuLOLon QsmtMLDaesr 
l3 a LD'^ J ^ ^ss) p QuLCLorr Q^ssruDLOTsisr 

l3!rLCjL^7^^SB)pQusiL£>ir QsStLD 01^. — T. T. 

^T^ — D. A. 


. A word before closing this chapter. The evils of 
competition are overtaking even the Indian people. 
Modern industrialism and city life are taking away the 
taste for healthy reading, while forcing him to work 
all day for the day's meal for hunself and his family. 
Let it not be said that the scholars of this country 
were responsible in any way for creating a literature 
which, by being unsuited to the needs and taste 
of the people,has weakened the people's appreciation 
of good literature and the capacity to live a healthy 
life, and to find a joy in it. The Tamilian of to-day 
-can hardly find any time to rack his brains in wading 
through the moth-eaten pages of the rigmarole pura- 
nas of a Kachiyappa or a Minakshisundram. We have 
already had enough and more poetry — sonnets, idylls, 
dramas, ballads and epics; nay, even works on philo- 
sophy, religion, ethics, hisfory, grammar, dictionary, 
medicine and on every imaginable subject are all 
poetry. Poetry and versification had their value 
in the past, and they may still be of use in some 
cat-es. For our literary models let us go to the writings 
of Sattanar or Ilango-adigal whose beauty, simplicity, 
smoothness and grace it is a pride and glory to 
approach in our efforts. But communication of 
knowledge in these days is best di)ne in prose 
not poetry. We want therefore plenty of prose, but 
not Asiaiic prose, and little of poetical literature. 
The prose should be simple and idiomatic, free alike 
from pedantry and baldness. 



Among the Dravidian tribes of South India, the 
Tamils were ihe first to cultivate a literature. Their 
earliest poems, which are now extant, the Aga-n.inuru, 
the Pura-nanuru and the anthologies of that kind 
show that they were, like the ancient Assyrians and 
the early Germanic tribes, a warlike race. Here is a 
type of the ancient Dravidian woman who in response 
to an enquiry about her son answered thus: — 'I know 
not where my son is ; but he will anv-h )w suddenly 
appear on the battle-field, for (pointing to her 
belly) this is the cave that gave birth to that ti-^er. ' 


ujirsaurQsfr iev)6l^ LD/SKetu Q^0ih 

Lj&9Q'3=iTts^ QuitSIlu S&}60'<isn(oUITeO 

sSeST CD <S>JUlSI(o(ir/' iS^Qoj 

(o^(T(Ssr^Qjm iorrQ^a QuT'TS'setr ^^nQsar. — Pur. 86. 
The dignity they attached to military pursuits, 
the chivalrous attitude towards their women, their 
scorn for an uneventful life and natural death, and 


their spirit of independence and adventure are patent 
in every song of the above collections. All these, 
however, grew weaker under the influence of the 
Buddhist and ]aina teachings, and were eventually 
stamped out by the peace-loving Brahmans, who in 
those days wielded such a mighty influence on the 
Tamil nation as to leave an indelible mark of Aryanism 
on everything non-Aryan. 

Yet in every department of Tamil literature we 
can stiil perceive a slender vein of Dravidian thought 
running through. Its ground-work is purely non- 
Aryan and its super-structure necessarily Aryan; be- 
cause, it was not as conquerors that the Aryan Brah- 
mans entered the Tamil country, but as teachers of 
Vedic religion and philosophy. Unlike Islamism 
which carried fire and sword with it, wherever it 
went, the Indo-Aryans established their spiritual su- 
premacy by gentleness, refinement and persuasive 
manners. Musalmans were dreaded by the con- 
quered, whereas the Aryans were honoured and 
respected as the ' andaiiar ' or the possessors of ten- 
der qualities, and * parpar' or the seers of the Vedas. 
The early Musalman could not find a place for 
anything foreign to his less cultivated taste and intole- 
rant militant religion, while the Aryan assimilated 
and absorbed whatever was good outside his racial 
culture and exalted it by associating it with his higher 
civilization. It is the characteristic of a conquering and 
victorious army which is not held in check by elevated-, 
national traditional culture and refined sense of 


honour to disregard, and even to destroy the Hterary 
and artistic treasures of the conquered people. Such 
was the attiiude of the Muhammadan invaders when 
they first came to South India. So we find in the 
early part of the fourteenth century, when the Musal- 
man hordes poured down into South India, the 
Tamils had to lament the loss of almost all their 
literature. All the libraries were ransacked in the 
country, and all that the Tamil genius had reared for 
age* were committed to flames. On the contrary the 
Brahmans, the Jains and the Buddhists actively work- 
ed to found universities, literary academies and libra- 
ries, and added refinement and stability to the Tamil 
language and literature. And it was through the deep 
interest and tender care of those people that Tamilians 
were inspired with new thoughts and ideas, and their 
literature enriched with new forms of expressions. 
Again, during modern times, the Musalmans who had 
learnt to live on friendly terms with the Hindus, and 
the Christian Missionaries who had come into South 
India as harbingers of western civilization have also in 
a way affected, though in an impt^rceptible degree, 
the Dravidian life and thought. Thus, the influence 
of the Aryans — both Indian and European — was es- 
sentially religious and philosophical. All these will 
be explained later on in their proper places. 

Indian grammarians have divided Tamil 
literature into three classes, namely — lyal (belles 
letters), Isai (Music) and Nataka (Drama). As this 
essay is concerned mainly with the literature of the 


lyal Tamil, it will not be inopportune to first briefly 
say something about the Isai and the Natakam or 
kutln, before we proceed to our subject. 

Tradition says that Agastya was the only gramma- 
rian who wrote complete treatises on the grammar 
of all the three classes of Tamil, but none of them 
are now extant. During the early centuries of the 
Christian era attention seems to have been paid by the 
Tamils to all the three. They had their own dances 
and music — vocal and instriimental. They, of course, 
with the help of Brahmans, developed the art of 
dancing to a high degree of perfection and many 
treatises were written on this fine art ; even their 
gods had their characteristic favourite dances . Music 
too, was in a state of perfection, and their pans or 
tunes were sui generis to the Tamil race. The only 
ancient Tamil work of ihe nature of the drama that 
has come down to us is the Silappadikaram (third 
century). It gives a vivid description of the stage, 
the actor, the singer, the drummer, the flute-player, 
the yazh-player and others of the troupe; and contain 
beautiful specimens of vari {euift), pattn (uitlLSi), 
kuravai (@j«a62j), ammaiiai (jfjuoiMn'^est) , usal (siss^su), 
kandukain (si^suo), vallai {eustrHsfr), and other classes 
■of musical songs. 

A brief description of the ydzh — a stringed musical 
instrument, similar to the guitar, peculiar only to the 
ancient Tamils may not be uninteresting. It was of 
four kinds, viz — (ouifliuiTLp, manuurTiJ^, s^Qsm—iuni^ and 
Qs=isiQaiTLLL^ajiTifi. The Per-yazh had 21 strings; aMakra- 


yazh, 17 ; Chakota-yazh, 16 ; and Sengottu-yazh, 7^ 
Perhaps these were the instruments in use during the 
days of llango-adigal. And the Per or big 'yazh' which 
is supposed to have been in use in the days of 
Agastya had become extinct even before the third 
century A. D, It is said to have had one thou- 
sand strings, 

G^LoSsard/^L/L/ QiDiTLJuear QanetrQe^. 
But with ihe growing influence of the Jains and 
Brahmans, spiriluaHty received more attention, much 
to the detriment of the physical side of his 
development, which was neglected and even 
condemned. Self-mortification and abstinence 
from pleasure were advocated and recommended 
as the high road to saWation. And the works on 
music, dancing and the drama written by ancient 
Tamils, such as QuQ^rsTss^ir, 0013/5/(5(5(5, u^^s^umr^iuuci, 
^iT&reusts)s,Quurr^^^ U(^s=LD!ri-i^ ^B^tTSfrarFiujthf (^em^ 
^^u/isLD,8iC., (on music) and uir^iJo, Qpsneuio, s^-ui^ii) 

£iia6mrnsrTL.s^suSip^6\), &c. (on dramaturgy) were neg- 
lected and left to shift for themselves; and by the time- 
ol Adiyarkunallar about (1200 A.D.) most of them. 
were lost. With them the Dravidian music and 
dances became extinct. No one can now say what 
those /)(377s and dances were like. Their places were 
gradually taken up by the Indo-Aryan raganis and; 

However, these aesthetic arts were given a religi- 


ous tone and allowed in that condition to prolong 
their feeble existence for upwards of ten centuries 
from about the seventh. Their sphere of exercise was 
transferred from the house to the temple.' The 
Saiva md Vaishnava hymns forming the Devaram 
and the Nalayira Prabandam, were collected and set 
to Diavidian music and sung in Hindu tem- 
ples. During festivals and processions of gods, 
dancing was encouraged and plays were acted to 
draw large crowds of devotees. Hundreds of dancing 
girls cr gandharvis were attached to every important 
temple. This was the origin of the institution of 
singing by Odnvans and Aralyans, and the public 
representation of natakas, pallns and kuravanjis in 
Hindu temples. Of these the first alone now sur- 
vives. The same institution was carried to the West 
Coast, and it now survives in the Chakkiyar kuttu. 
The persons concerned in this institution were, as 
given in the inscriptions of Raja-raja Chola, ibitisldiIj 
Lu oTs> y s'fTS:saiS, sfTssTunis^y lSIi—ititssj, siTLDiruQucsairajssr, ernr^^ 
ujiDfTif n Luesr y ^ifliLnstun^sunfr, sai^ffsSl^ &C. It was Only 
during the eighteenth century that dram.a and 
music began to revive ; and Arunachala Kavi (A.D. 
1712-1779) the famous author ot Rama Natakam may 
be justly called the father of modern dramatic 
literature, and under the Mahratta Rajahs of Tanjore 

1. It is said that the Hindu drama, like that of the Greeks, was 
derived from, and formed part of, their religious ceremonies. 
Lassen considers the Indian drama to be of native growth, while 
Weber thinks it was influenced by the Greek dramas performed at 
he court of Greek (Bactrian) kings. 


a fresh impetus was given to music. We might say 
that both these arts flourished in highly developed 
forms about the time of Surfoji Raja of Tanjore (1780- 
1830). Subsequently, plays in imitation of Shakes- 
peare's dramas, Kirtans and Harikatas were written 
for public performances and music came to be ap- 
preciated and patronized by the middle and lower 
classes, who under the British rule were rising in im- 
portance, and the arts themselves were being affec ted 
by democratic influences. This is a subject which the 
writer does not feel competent to treat adequately. 
The reader is referred to the interesting book of 
Mr. Day and the illuminating contributions of Dr. 

From the existing Tamil literature it is not possible 
to determine its exact range, as it was subje ct to vicis- 
situdes, one of w'lich we have already mentioned. 
Several works by Jains and Buddhists, who were 
among the earliest to encourage the growth of Tamil 
literature, are not n ,nv forthcoming ; and it is believed 
that most of them were destroyed when Buddhists 
and Jains were persecuted during the seventh and 
eighth centuries. As we have said elsewhere * a 
good portion ot its e<tensive literature preserved for 
ages on palm leaves had long ago been consum- 
ed by fire and white ants... And such as had 
escaped these destructive agencies remained locked up 
in the dingy cellars of the lascivious Mathadhipatis 
and in the thatched hjuses of penniless pandits.' 
Even if all the writings of the early and mediaeval 


Tamil authors had come down to us in full preserva- 
tion it is extremely doubtful whether Tamil literature 
would be as extensive as its Sanskrit compeer. And 
this has been confirmed by Dr. Caldwell who very 
truly observes that 'Tamil literature as a whole will 
not bear a comparison with Sanskrit literature as a 
wh oie.' 

Of the different branches of knowledge the early- 
Tamils appear to have cultivated only the polite 
literature. They knew only so much of elementary 
arithmetic as was absolutely required for trading 
purposes, and higher mathematics, science, philoso- 
phy and theology in which the Indo. Aryans excel- 
led all other civilized nations of antiquity were 
unknown to the Dravidians. Some Tamil scholars 
might say that astronomy was not unknown to their 
ancients and quote, — 

0<F@ (^rraSp^'S' Qs=6\)eii(i^ t^fTuSpgfiu 
urftuLjuo urfluL-jS=(^t^id^ LCGoan^&JQ^LD 

eunS^ tS'^ ^lummuQp QLDmoSsiDQj 

iAl'SesT^Q^oir QufTQi) QpefiQa. — Pur. 30. 
One or two of them went even to the length of 
asserting that 'Saiva philosophy and religion in its 
original elements was purely Tamilian'. Mr. 
Kanakasabhai believes that ' in the ancient Tamil 
classical works, the terms relating to music, gram- 
mar, astronomy and even abstract philosophy are of 
pure Tamil origin', and that 'they indicate most 


clearly that those sciences were cultivated by the 
Tamils long before the arrival of the Brahmans or 
other Aryan immigrants'. This is not good logic, as 
these terms might be later Tamil translations or ad- 
aptations from Sanskrit. It would be more reasonable 
to ask, — Did the Tamils possess any literature on these 
subjects before the arrival of the Brahmans ? So far 
as we know they had none. We need not attempt to 
refute these statements seriatim, but shall content 
ourselves for the present with quoting the views of 
Dr. Caldwell on the pre-Aryan civilization of the 
Tamils. 'They were without hereditary priests and 
idols and appear to have had no idea of ' heaven ' or 
*heir or the 'soul' or 'sin'. ..They had numerals 
up to 100 ; ...but no acquaintance with sculpture, 
architecture, astronomy, astrology, grammar or 

The existing Tamil works, most of them, are either 
translations or adaptations of Sanskrit originals. There 
are, however, certain compositions which are not so. 
The five major and the five minor epics, the eight 
anthologies, the ten major and the eighteen minor 
poems belong to this class. Dr. Caldwell thinks that 
'in one department at least, that of ethical apothegms 
it is generally maintained that Sanskrit has been out- 
done by Tamil.' But, on the other hand, we are 
inclined to think that the existence of so many works 
on the ethics of daily life is an indication of the low 
state of morality among the early Tamils. Because 


it was the Dravidian whose teeth were blunted by the 
eating of flesh, 

Qaje\)'?0i}ij^ uSrr<sij QpmfiSm^^ LD(ipiiQ. — Pat, II. ,117, 
that required the advice, 

QurrQ^etreOso ^eusiioaijSesrdo, — KuK 

And the following extracts will show that most of 
the Tamil kings were tyrannizing over their subjects: — 

1. isQsSsii Q^fTiP^'siusi!fle06\}iTe!!r eSl^esreijinEisd 

2. Q'fS^'-jSs QesrCc'Sijifim Qsuk^gii^^ i-js\)uiQuiTe\). — Kal. 
The early Tamilians considered it an honour and 
virtue in a military man to carry off other men's 
wives, to devastate the enemy's fields, to destroy their 
houses and to lift the cattle of neighbouring tribes. 
A people with such principles of conduct really needed 
books on practical morality.i 

The ethical code of the Tamils is contained chiefly 

in the eighteen minor poems already referred to. 

None of the works on morals which our learned 

bishop makes so much of, appear to have been 

written by the Tamils before they had come under 

tiie civilizing influence of the Indo-Aryans, be they 

Brahmans, Buddhists or Jains. It is even supposed 

that the Kural of Tiruvalluvar and the Acharakkovai 

of Peruvayil-Mulliyar are adaptations from Sanskrit 

1. The fact that Brahmans were called Qio^iuir or 'truth speakers' 
proves that lying was common among the early Tamil speakin g 


Mahabharata, Dharmasastras, &c., as will be seen 
from the following extract : — 

^0sueh(ei^eiJica)iT^th Qu^^^iso Qji^^&dirrT iM^LoupfS 
^tSlLpiT Q^^Q'asiQrj' aiTuS^LD ^uSi^^6\)fs(D<striT(SLh Qurr0ii^ 

QuiT(r^LL uj(^uitlLu).'SioST ^pmQuiTQTf'SffissruQisKosr eui—^sdnlr 
euLpi(^Ljup!]S (cUJfr^'^eOfT!Ssr. ..-giip^^uufTeo eSlsL^iiJias'Serr ld^ 

Qi pQ (ri?(Slisi (c)urr(TKii^ss)Sij^^ isui!^(Sf^suieo)iT 3^/01 ^ssrCol ireisr u^ , 

Thus it is evident that the whole of Tamil litera- 
ture is permeated with Aryan influence and that 
practically there was no literature worth the 
name among the Tamils before the migration of 
Brahmans to South India, and it has been boldly 
asserted by M. Hovelacque that 'all the works of 
which it is composed, down to the smallest fragment 
are long posterior to their first contact with the 

The science of history is foreign to the Hindus; and 
a history of literature is much more. They made no 
distinction between mythology, tradition and history. 
Periods of time were of no consequence ; to them 
past and present in the growth of a language or liter- 
ature were an eternal now and meaningless. The 
Tamil scholars, ancient as well as modern, have had 
no idea of the exact range of their literature. The 
average Tamil scholars were mostly poets or versi- 
fiers, and their acquaintance with literature was limi- 
ted to some standard works on grammar, vocabulary 


and ot one or two epic poems Karoban's Rama- 
yanam, Ativiraramapandya's Naishadam, Tolkapyam,. 
Pavanandi's Nannul, Amritasagarar's Karigai, Dandi 
Alankaram, Uivakaram and Chudamani Nigandu 
together with one or two aniadis and kalanihakams 
met all the requirements of these versifiers. This 
easily earned scholarship and consequent self-com- 
placency, blinded them to the merits of many impor- 
tant Tamil works written by Buddhists and Jains,, 
which were disliked on account of their authorship. 
These were left in the sun and rain to decay or to be 
eaten up in course of time by white-ants; while many 
more were consigned to the floods of the 18th of 
Adi (August) 

But such a charge cannot be laid at the feet of 
Nacchinarkiniyar, or Adiyarkunallar and generally of 
all the erudite commentators of the middle ages. 
Their study was extensive and their exposition 
thoroughly logical ; and yet the critical methods of 
research and investigation which characterize the 
inquisitive scholar of modern times were absolutely 
unknown to them ; for, as Dr. Caldwell, pertinently 
reroarkSjthe critical spirit even in the west is of modern 
growth. The ancient Hindus did not cultivate it, 
because they had the greatest, perhaps blind, regard 
and veneration for their ancestors and their works ; 
and implicitly believed as sacred truths whatever their 
elders said, absurd though they might be. Further, 
the Science of Philology or the historical and scienti- 
fic study of languages did not come into existence 


then. Literary forgeries passed for genuine produc- 
tions ; and the native scholars who have been duped 
by them owing to their creduhty are miserably 
incapable of detecting them. Even the so-called Tamil 
scholars of the present day who profess to follow 
the critical and historical methods in their researches 
cannot discriminate the famous Brahman author of 
Kurinjippattu from the saintly composer of the Siva- 
Peruman Tiruvantadi, or even from that recent 
Dravidian writer of an anti-Brahmanical song; or 
the author of Gnana Vettiyan from the immortal 
writer of the Kural. We give below specimens 
from three different poems wrongly attributed to one 
and the same Kapiiar by Tamil scholars of the old 
orthodox school : — 

(1) j)jpiBis<oSi[rib£i} euujiwQuj srrsSl pi^ piiQuj 
eamir^iTeo QeusirsSl Qpisf.^^, Qs<^isSl 
uuib^vSBT STQ^ikiseo QiMjhu SitulL 

Ljp^^&siap (SuuSlifiuup sfressflssr <sijeo(c&) 
QiLioo(^ueaiL- iu^^^ QsirdjSrQjp L^HisS 

<ouiT(ev)d QsiTiarisioseo)iu. — Pad. VII. 64. 

(2) Qurrsui^^ ^is^uS^riS SpiSir i^^est ^ ^n f[Qfiiif.Q m tss^s 
uk^^ ^ih^fBiretrui Saa paSesi piu!T<ssruiuls ^ uotrsLDi?^^ 
^ih^Lorr LceiDipQuiTasT p ld^^^ss^uQuit Qns^k^^ 


(3) Q^asrfSeaffu L/Ssvujsar Q/i_^sjD^<s Qs@ p 
uoDsp Q&HT^u uiriTUUfT ^Qjireisr 
oji—^emsFU utTrfuuiKom QpmrBssiS^s QsiQasr 
issai—oj^ Qsiremflu l/'Ssouj ^eurrm. — Agaval. 

No doubt this must partly be attributed to pre- 
judice, racial feelings, and mistaken faith. With the 
spread of Western culture and the study of scientific 
methods they seem to be gradually disappearing.. 

Mr. Damodaram Pillai's Classification : — Among 
the pandits of the old type we must undoubtedly 
include Mr. Damodaram Pillai, the learned editor 
of Tolkapyam, Virasoliyara, Kalittogai and other 
works. Though a lawyer and judge by profession, 
his zeal and admiration for his native literature and 
his Tamil race have not only blurred his judgment but 
also carried him away from the sacred precincts of 
historic truth. In a lengthy introduction to his edition 
of Virasoliyam he has attempted to give a brief 
history of Tamil literature, besides making some 
uncalled for remarks on the non-Saivites in his 
violent Jaffnese style. His reputation as a good 
Tamil scholar and the valuable service he has rendered 
to the Tamil nation by his publications make it neces- 
sarv to notice his views along with those of Dr. 
Caldwell and others. According to him there were 
eight periods m the history of Tamil literature 
namely : — 

I, jijQuiT^antsoih Before Agastya. There was> 

(Pre-historic). then no alphabet. 



II. ^si^trsneoiJD From Ihe date of theinven- 
(Alphabetic). tion of the alphabet by Agas- 

tya to the period of comple- 
tion of his grammar. 

III. ^&)ss6et!rsn&)u[i The period of composition 
(Grammatic), of Tamil grammar by his 

twelve disciples. 

IV. ffQp^rrujsn&LD Period of the three Tamil 

(Academic). academies(B.C. 10,150 to 150). 

V. ^iBrr^mraneoih 200 years. After the des- 

('Lethargic), truction of the third Sangam 

when the Tamil literature^ 

was not patronised (B. C. 

150— A. D. 50). 

VI. s=weaBrsrT&}LD 300 years. When Chinta- 

(Jain). mani, Nannul, Virasoliyam 

and other Jain works were 
written (A. D. 50— 350). 

VI L ^^ms^meoiM 800 years. In this period 

(Puranic). Puranas, Naishada, Rama- 

yana and other works of that 

kind were written (A. D. 350 


VIII. ^^earsneoLD 700 years. When the Saiva 

(Monastic), monks of Tiruvaduturai 

and other places encouraged. 

the study of Tamil literature 

(A. D. 11§0— 1850). 

The above classification appears to us on the 
face of it unscientific and historically monstrous. It 
is marked by a total want of a sense of proportion 
and historical acumen. Coming as it does from the 
pen of a lawyer of English training it is really pitiable. 
In his opinion the age of Tamil literature must be at 


least 12,000 years which is 4 or 5 millenniums older 
than the earliest known civilisation. The history of 
Egypt commences from not more than 3,000 years 
before Christ ; that of the Greeks ascends scarcely 
to 2,700 years from to-day. It serves no good to 
enter into the details of his classification; its impioba- 
bilites and fanciful dates assigned to different works 
will be brought out in the sequel. 

Mr. Stir yanaray ana's classification : — To pass on 

from the dubious field of blind faith and tradition to 

the domain of reason and history, we find in Mr. 

Suryanarayana Sastri saner views. His little book 

on the history of Tamil language is a useful attempt 

worth imitating on a larger scale by Tamil scholars 

trained in the occidental methods. He devotes a 

■chapter to an outline history of Tamil literature 

which he divides into the following periods : — 

I. Early. B. C. 8000 to A. D. 100. 

This includes the age of the 
three academies or Sangams. 

II. Mediaeval. {a) First half: 100—600 

A. D. The five major and 
the live minor epics, Tiru- 
vachakam, Divakaram,Muttol- 
layirara and other works 
were written during this 

(6) Second half : 600—1400 
A.D. Tevaram, Kalladam, 
Tiruvoymozhi, Agapporul, 
Purapporul, Ramayanam, 

Nala Venba and other works 
were written. 


III. Modern. From A.D. 1400. Ativira- 

raraa Pandiyan, Villiputturar, 
Arunagiri, Paranjoti, Sivapra- 
kasar, Tatvarayar, Tayumana- 
var, Viramamuni and other 
poets jBourished. 

The above classification, though not open to serious 
objections Hke the preceding one, seems to us some- 
what unsatisfactory in that it is wanting in historical 
perspective ; nor is each period sufficiently explana- 
tory of tiie spirit and influence of the time which it 
professes to deal with. It is a strange mixture of 
conflicting traditions with historical facts. His early 
period, which covers a long interval of 8100 years, no 
historian of any existing literature would make up 
his mind to believe. He seems to accept unreservedly 
the traditional account of the Tamil academies 
which no scholar acquainted with the modern 
critical method would do. His mediaeval period 
extends over a pretty long period of 1300 years, 
while his third occupies only 500. It is not under- 
stood on what established data he has based his 
•classification, no distinguishing land-marks being 
assigned to it. 

Dr. CaldivU's Classification '■ — In his introduction 
to 'A Comparative Grammar of the DravicHan 
Languages', Dr. Caldwell aims at giving a brief 
history of Tamil literature. He divides it into seven 
cycles or periods citing some authors or works as 
representative of each cycle. They are, 

I. The Jaina cycle or the cycle of the Madura 



Sangam or College, from the eighth or ninth century 
A. D. to the twelfth or thirteenth century. The 
important works of this period were Kural, 
Naladiyar, Chintamani, Divakaram and Nannul. 

II. The Tamil Ramayana cycle — the thirteenth cen- 
tury. Kamban, Pugazhendi, Ottaikkuttar and Auvai- 
yar were the poets of this age. 

III. The Saiva Revival cycle — the thirteenth and 
fourteenth centuries. The Tevaram and the Tiru- 
vachakam were composed during this period. 

IV. The Vaishnava cycle — about the same period.. 
To this period he assigns the composition of the 

V. The cycle of the Literary Revival — the fifteenth 
and sixteenth centuries. The works and authors 
were Vasishtam, the Saiva Siddhantam, Ativirarama- 
Pandyan and Villiputturar. 

VI. The anti-Brahmanical cycle in which the com- 
positions of the Siddhar School came into existence — 
seventeenth century. Agastya, Siva Vakkiyar, Tiru- 
mular, Bhadragiriyar, and all the eighteen Siddhas 
flourished at this period. 

VII. The modern school — the eighteenth and nine- 
teenth centuries in which Pattanattar, Tayumanavar 
and the authors oi Prabhuhngalilai and Tembavani 

It will be seen from the above classification that 
there was no literature in Tamil before the eighth 
century A. D. Elsewhere, the same writer goes on to 
say that 'the Tamil literature now extant enables us to 


ascend, in studying the history of the language only 
to the ninth or tenth century A. D.' And in a third 
place he assigns the eighth century A. D. as the age 
of Tolkapyam with the following remark: — 'Whatever 
antiquity may be attributed to the Tolkapyam it must 
have been preceded by many centuries of literary 
culture, it lays down rules for different kinds 
of poetical compositions, which must have been 
deduced from examples furnished by the best 
authors whose works were then in existence. A 
rule is simply an observed custom'. Don't we 
observe in these statements apparent contradictions ? 
Whatever may be the date of the Tolkapyam, 
did he endeavour to learn the names ot the best 
authors who had furnished examples for that gram- 
mar? The truth seems to be that, when his great work 
was published nearly half-a-century ago, some of the 
earliest Tamil classics like the Silappadikaram, 
Manimekalai, Pattuppattu, Purananuru and several 
others were unknown even to many Tamil pandits of 
those days. Moreover, his division of Tamil literature 
into cycles and his determination of the dates of 
certain important Tamil works were based upon some 
doubttul inscriptions of a Rajendra Chola or a 
Sundara Pandya Deva and upon a misconception that 
the Alvars were the disciples of the great Vaishnava 
reformer, Sri Ramanuja Charya. But within the last 
thirty years epigraphy has progressed so far and has 
brought to light so many important facts, literary,, 
social, and historical, as to necessitate a complete 


modification of almost every one of his statements 
concerning the dates of Tamil authors. The learned 
Bishop has devoted several pages of his invaluable 
grammar to a vain discussion of the age of >undara or 
Kun Pandya of Trignanasambandar's time, wrongly 
identifying him with the Sunder Bendi of the Muham- 
madan historians, in order to bring the authors of 
the Devara hymns down to the 13th century A. D. 
His statement that 'the poetical compositions of 
seven of the twelve Alvars or Vaishnava devotees, 
followers of Ramanuja, which are included in the 
Nalayiraprabandam are still more numerous than 
those of Manikkavachakar, Trignanasambandar and 
other Saiva devotees,' might be a clear proof of his 
total ignorance of the magnitude of any of these 
sacred hymns. And it might be said with greater 
confidence that he had not seen or even heard of 
several works in the Tamil language. I do not 
propose to enter into any detailed examination of 
his views, as they have already been sufficiently 
criticised by the late Mr. Sundaram Pillai of 

Classification of Sir W. Hunter and others \ — The 
most prominent among the later writers on Tamil 
literature is Sir W. W. Hunter. He writes thus: 
•'The Saivite and Vaishnavite revival of the Brahman 
apostles in Southern India from the 8th century 
• onwards stirred up a counter movement on the 
part of the Jains. The Dravidian Buddhists and 
Jains created a cycle of Tamil literature anti-Brah- 


manical in tone, stretching from the 9th to the 13th 
century. Its first great composition, the Kural of 
Tiruvalluvar, not later than the 10th century A. D. is 
said to have been the work of a poet sprung from 
the Pariah or lowest caste. The Jain period of Tamil 
literature inchides works on ethics and language ; 
among them the Uivakaram literally the ' Day- 
making Dictionary'. The period culminated in the 
Chintamani, a romantic epic of 15,000 Imes by an 
unknown Jain author ...Contemporaneous with the 
Jain cycle of Tamil literature the great adaptation of 
the Ramayana was composed by Kambar for the 
Dravidian races ... Between that period and the 
16th century two encyclopaedic collections of Tamil 
hymns in praise of Siva were gradually formed... 
During the same centuries the Vaishnavite apostles 
were equally prolific in Tamil religious songs... 
After a period of literary inactivity the Tamil genius 
again blossomed forth in the 16th and 17th centuries 
with a poet-king as the leader of the literary revival. 
In the ]7th century arose an anti-Brahmanical Tamil 
literature known as the Sittar school ... The Tamil 
writers of the 18th and 19th centuries are classified as 
modern. The hc^nours of this period are divided bet- 
ween a pious Sivaite and the Italian Jesuit, Beschi.' 
The above extracts from Dr. W. W. Hunter's Gazet- 
teer will clearly show that he has simply followed Dr. 
Cadwell's classification, paraphrasing it in his usual 
racy style. It might be said here once for all that all 
other English writers on Tamil literature, including 


Dr. Grierson, Dr. Rost and Professor Frazer^, have 
wittingly or unwittingly followed the learned Bishop's 
statements and propagated the obvious errors he 
had committed, and did not take the least trouble 
to correct them, on account of his high auth(>rity and 
of their total ignorance of the extent and importance 
of Tamil language and literature. To these may be 
added their instinctive slight for a non-Aryan race 
and culture. 

Notwithstanding^ the able and trenchant criti- 
cism of some of Dr. Caldwell's theories by the late Mr. 
Sundaram Pillai in his ' Some Mile-stones in the His 
tory of Tamil Literature', some European scholars, still 
draw their statements largely from the works of Drs. 
Burnell and Caldwell. No doubt, European sch'>lars 
have done excellent service in the cause of Compara- 
tive Philology and the Indians are deeply indebted 
to them for the study of their languages on critical 
and historical methods. But so far as a thorough 
and intimate knowledge of the Vernaculars and their 
idioms are concerned, we cannot expect them all to 
be Beschis or Popes. In the days of Drs. Caldwell 
and Burnell the science of epigraphy was in its in- 
fancy and they were not justified in being dogmatic 
in their assertions relating to historical questions. 

1. I am glad to find tliac Mr, F'razer has corrected most of his 
views (in 1912) agreeably to the latest researches in South Indian 
Epigraphy and early Tamil literature; and I believe he is the only 
European scholar who is up to date in his Tamil studies. See his 
-article on ' Dravida' in the Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics. 


Within the past quarter of a centurv epigraphy has 
progressed by leaps and bounds, and the facts and 
theories of these writers require considerable revision. 
To quote from these writers would, therefore, be 
exceedingly unsafe. One example from the Imperial 
Gazetteer (New Edition) will suffice. In Volume II 
of this monumental work, Mr. R. Sewell, while 
speaking of the literature of the Tamils, writes thus: — 
* Several Tamil poets of this age, i e., about A. D 
600 — 50 are greatly renmvned, among whom may be 
mentioned the Saiva devotees of Tirunavukkaraiyar, 
Tirgnanasambandar and Sundaram irthi Nayanar ; 
Manikka Vasagar also belongs to this period ' (p. 
330). And Dr. Grierson who has devoted three preci- 
ous paragraphs in the same volume tor this ancient 
literature, says — 'The worship of Siviinthe Tamil 
country found its earliest literary expression in the 
Tiruvasagam or 'Holy word' of Manikka-vas^gar who 
lived in the eleventh century (p. 425)... A later and 
larger collection of hymns addressed to Siva is the 
Tevaram of Sambanda, Sundara and Appa (p. 426)... 
After the Jain period we have the great Saiva move- 
ment of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries to 
which we owe the hymnologies already described 
(p. 435).' It is not our object to decry the labours 
of these European scholars; but it is to be regretted 
that such paragraphs have found their way into the 
pages of the Imperial Gazetteer published under the 
authority of the Government of India. 

Mr, Vinson's Classification .- — The only other Wes- 


tern student of Tamil literature whom we should not 
pass over unnoticed is M. Julien Vinson of Paris. * I 
can hardly admit ', he writes, 'that Tamil literary age 
began before the seventh century A. D'. He further 
thinks that there were five periods in it, which for the 
sake of brevity and distinctness we subjoin in a tabular 
form: — 

I. 6th and 7th Period of essays, pam- 

centuries. phlets and short poems. 

II. 8th century. Period in which the 

Jains predominated. 

III. 9th century. Period which saw at 

the same time the strug- 
gle between Saivas and 
Jains, and in which 
Buddhists came from 

IV. 10th century. Period in which the 

Saivas were the undis- 
puted masters. 

V. 15th and 16th Period in which ap- 

centuries. pear the Vaishnavas. 

This classification, though it is a marked improve-' 
ment on the previous one, is still open to the follow, 
ing objections : — 

(1) For the first period of essays and pamphlets 
M. Vinson should have had in view Aingurunuru,. 
PadirrupattUjPurananuru and other anthologies which 
were collected and arranged by the third academy. 
He must have either overlooked Tolkapyam, (fourth 
or third century B. C), Kural (first century A. D.), 
Silappadikaram and Manimekalai (third century), or 


discredited the dates assigned to them by Indian scho- 
lars. But I now see no sufficient reason to doubt 
the chronology of these ancient classical works on 
grammar and ethics, some of which in scientific 
accuracy, in originality of design, in beauty of ex- 
pression and thought^ and in faithfulness to nature 
would stand comparison with the best works of 
similar kind in other languages. 

(2) The second and third periods,namely, the eighth 
and ninth centuries, are characterised by a bitter 
struggle between Jainism and Brahmanism. As will 
be seen from the lives and works of Tirumalisai and 
Tiruraangai Alvars, the Vaishnava Saints had an equal 
share with the Saivas in the suppression of Jainism. 
It is not, therefore, correct to call it a struggle between 
Jamism and Sivaism. It may be that very few 
Buddhists came from Ceylon to Chidambaram, 
and had religious disputations with Manikkavachagar 
about the middle of the ninth century. But this was 
only a minor incident which left no permanent im- 
press on either the literature or the religion of the 
Tamil people. Moreover, it was Brahmanism — not 
Sivaism — that had attamed its supremacy so early as 
the ninth century, though Jainism had still a linger- 
ing existence. And it was during these two centu- 
ries that a great number of the Saiva N ayanmars and 
Vaishnava Alvars flourished and did their proselyti- 
zing work. 

(3) During the fourth period (tenth century) not only 
the Saivas but also the Vaishnavas were left undisput- 



ed masters in the religious field. It also witnessed 
the collection and arrangement of the sacred hymns 
of Appar, Sambandar, Sundarar, Manikkavachakar 
and other Saiva saints into eleven Tirumurais by 
Nainbiyandar Nambi, and of the twelve Vaishanava 
Alvars into Nalayira Prabandam (Book of 4,000 
Psalms) by Sri Nathamuni. 

(4) M. Vinson assigns to the fifth period — fifteenth 
and sixteenth centuries — the appearance of the 
Vaishnavas. It is here, we tiiink, that his ignorance 
of the history of Tamil literature, especially 
of the Vaishnava religion, is most marked. He 
has not studied or rightly understood the origin 
and growth of the Vaishnava sect m South 
India. Perhaps he was misled by the incorrect state- 
ment of Dr. Caldwell, that the twelve Vaishnava 
saints were the disciples of Sri Ramanuja Charya, the 
great reformer of the twelfth century. We may men- 
tion that the fifth period of M. Vinson is distin- 
guished for the best controversial literature on the 
Vaishnava religion and for the scholarly commen- 
taries thereon, in the Manipravala or composite style 
peculiar only to the Jains and the Vaishnava Brah- 
man s. 

Proposed Classification : None of the Tamil works 
bear a certain date ; yet they are not wanting in 
criteria to enable the reader to assign to ihem a 
definite period in the literary development. For 
first there exists a difference in language demarcating 
the most important periods ; and secondly the deve- 



lopment of the literature has been upon such lines 
(mainly religious) that it is easy to say from content 
and method of treatment to which of its epochs a 
particular work might belong. 

We shall now come to our classification. 
The following table gives a tolerably accu- 
rate outline of the important stages in the progress 
of Tamil literature. As has already been explained 
religion pervades almost the whole of every litera- 
ture in India, and the table therefore exhibits the 
several periods of the religious history also. 





B. C. 600-200. 
B. C. 200-A. D 

A. D. 150-500. 

A D. 500-950. 

A. D. 950-1200. 

A.D. 1200-1450 

A.D. 1450-1850. 

I. Animistic. ] 

II. Buddhist. J 

III. Jaina. 

IV. Bratimanic 

V. Sectarian. 



VII. Modem. 

L Academic (Tol- 
kappvam, K u r a 

II. Classic (Silap 
padikaram, M a n i - 
mekalai, Pattupattu 

III. Hymnal 
(Tevaram, Tiruva 
chakam, Tiruvoy 
moli, &c.) 

IV. Translations- 
(Kam ban's Rama 
yana, Kachiyappa's 
Skantham, &c.) 

V. Exegetical 

(Commentaries by 
Adiyarkunallar, &c 

VI. Miscelianeous 

I. Early 


Grammar : 
I Kalladam, 



j III. Modern 

Grammar : 
and Nannul. 


I do not claim any logicalexactitude for the above 
division. But it is the best I could think of, and it re- 
presents the different stages in the growth of Tamil 
literature clearly and succinctly. No doubt one 
period overlaps the other, and it would be impossi- 
ble to draw a hard-and-fast line between any two 

Tamil literature of course did not begin only with 
the founding of Academies as indicated in the table. 
This was preceded by what may be called the 
pre-academic period. But to attempt any account 
of it will be a groping in the dark, as all 
literary evidence we now possess relates either 
to the academic or to the post-academic period. 
Some Tamil scholars still believe that Agastya 
invented the Tamil alphabet. This is certamly 
erroneous. The use of pure Tamil words like 
<sT(^^^f and •sf-euujL by Agastya proves unmistakably the 
existence of the Tamil alphabet and the use of books 
among the Tamils long before his days. And even 
the compilation of the first grammar for this langu- 
age by this Aryan sage, after the Sanskrit model, is an 
argument in favour of the pre-existence of literature 
among the Tamils of antiquity. That literature al- 
ways precedes grammar is a stern philological fact 
recognized bv Agastya and later grammarians. 

eretreffieaftsar Q jr)6SBr2essr Quu^LJU^QuiTeo 
^lecsSiu^^eaBm QnoQuQ LSIeodsssariii. — Agat. 
^eoa,Qiu!Si s<3ss\i—^p 86\}dsesaruSiLiihu&). — Nan, 


It is therefore almost certain that some sort 
of literature and also good poets must have existed 
before the academic era ; but nothing can at present 
be asserted about it in the absence of any literary or 
other records. 

The Academic Period : The real history of 
Tamil literature begins with the Tamil academies 
which lasted from B. C. 500 to A. D. 500. This 
millennium might perhaps appear to be a very long 
period ; but during the first half of it none of the 
extant Tamil works, probably with the exception of 
Tolkapyam and one or two others, were written. 
Further, when we consider the abnormally long 
period of 12,000 years allotted by native traditions to 
the three academies, the above is almost a trifle. Of 
the three academies the second was more or less 
continuous with the first, and both probably existed 
sometime between the fifth century B. C. and 
second century A. D. ; while the third, and the most 
important of them all seems to have lasted till A. D. 
500. Whether the three academies really existed 
whether they did any useful work in the cause of 
Tamil literature, how long they lasted, and what 
poets flourished during this period — all these are 
questions which we have reserved for consideration 
in a subsequent essay. 

To understand aright the general spirit of the 
literary productions of this period it is desirable that 
there should be some previous acquaintance with the 


political, social, and religious condition of the early 
Tamil people. Till about the second or third 
century A. D. there were only three principal Tamil 
kingdoms, namely, Chera, Chola and Pandya each of 
which had, of course, three or four protectorates 
under it governed by feudal chieftains. They were 
constantly at war with one another losing or annex- 
ing villages and districts on every occasion, till at 
last there came on the scene a foreign race, called 
the Pallavas, from the north-west, and usurped the 
northern Tamil districts then belonging to an illegiti- 
mate branch of the Cholas. Being intruders and 
people of foreign extraction, the Pallavas were never 
recognized as Dravidians by the Tamil nation, and 
consequently they are not even mentioned in the 
Tamil literature of those times. Nay, the word ' Pal- 
lava ' had even acquired a bad sense, 

u&}6\f<sviT sajeviT u^siT iS-fiT.—Ping. 

Caste system was unknown to them. The Tamils 
were, however, divided into tribes according to the 
nature of the soil in which they happened to live. A 
shepherd of the pasture land might become a tiller 
of the rice field or a fisherman of the beach. Of the 
eight kinds of marriages mentioned by Manu, marri- 
age by capture (Gandharvan), Asuram and Rakshasam, 
seem to have been adopted by them ; and yet their 
women-kind had much freedom. They ate beef and 
all sorts of animal food and drank fermented liquor. 
Thev used to burv or burn the dead ; and 


while burying them the weapons of the deceased 
were put into big jars along with the corpse. 

(1) Qp^LDiTU Qun ^^ p s^Qmeoj (E^luldljiei 

<Si_Sa)<5 (oSITL^ ILIIT^^ 

^aL^iLi QuQ^msn Ql^ili^uj (^am(S jd. — Pur. 364. 

(2) sfiKSs (^sSiQ luem 3" Qs'SiQ ^anu uaS(T^iEj 
s&r&ffiJjih upih^^so. — Ihid. 240. 

The early Tamils, like the ancient Egyptians and 
Romans, worshipped the manes of their ancestors, 
who were also propitiated with offerings of meat 
and liquor. After the advent of the Aryans from 
Upper India this animism had to contend against 
Brahraanism, then against Buddhism and lastly 
against Jainism. Until Brahmanism came out trium- 
phant all these four religions — animism, Brahmanism 
Buddhism, and Jainism — had been struggling for exis- 
tence in the Tamil country ; and in the course of 
this long struggle the first was merged in the 
second, which from that time forward began to ex- 
pand absorbing every thing that was good and un- 
objectionable in the other two. An effective check 
was .ilso given to the indiscriminate eating ot meat 
and habitual drinking of liquor. We may find all 
these described in the literature of this epoch. 

We know nothing about the works of the first and 
second academies except what is contained in the brief 
accounts given in Iraiyanar's Agapporul. The names 
of works which passed through the third academy 
will be found given in the following oft-quoted 
verses : — 


(1) ispfS'iisem rB&ieo (^^mQ^neas etauuia^gti^ 
Qqt^^^ u^ P^uu^ ^^niEi(^u rflum—6\) 

(2) Qp(Trj(^^U!j(7^ fBT^ uaesafiiresar'S Qp6\)'^ 

(3) IB!T<3dlS). /BITeSruieSsfi IBfTi^pU esi^i^i'bsssTQfU 

LJiTe\)s®siB Qsneaieu uj^Qllhl^ lluqp&ld 

Besides the eight anthologies or collected works, the 
ten major and the eighteen minor poems mentioned in 
the above stanzas, at least two of the five major epics — 
Silappadikaram and Manimekalai — were written during 
this period. These two most important works were 
left out of account, as they were the productions of 
Buddhist and Jaina authors. The famous poets of 
this age together with their principal works are 
given below : — 

(1) Tiruvalluvar (Kural) ; (2) Sittalai Sattanar 
(Manimekalai) ; (3) Ilango-Adigal (Silappadikaram) ; 
(4) Kapilar (Kurinjippattu, Inna Narpatu, &c.); (5) 
Paranar (5th Ten in Padirruppattu) ; (6) Nallandu- 
vanar (Kahttogai) ; (7) Nakkirar (Tirumurukarrup- 
padai, Nedunalvadai) ; (8) Mangudi Marudanar 
(Maduraikkanji) ; (9) Kalladanar; (10) Nallur Nattat- 
tanar (Siru Panarruppada i) ; (11) Kadiyalur Rudran 


Kannanar (Perumpanarruppadai) ; (12) Napputanar 
(Mullaippattu) ; (13) Perurakausikanar (Malaipadu- 
kadam); (14) Gotamanar (3rd Ten in Paddirruppattu); 
(15) Mudattamakanniyar (Porunararruppadai) ; (16) 
Peyanar (MuUai Tinai in Ainkurunuru) &c. 

To these should be added Pannirupadalaiiij Mar- 
kandeyanar Kanchi, Purapporul Venbamalai, Usimuri 
of Idaikkadar, Muttollayiram, Nakkiiar's Naladi-nul, 
Desikamalai, and the works on prosody by Mahes- 
wara, Avinayanar, Kaiyanar, Palkayanar, Kakkai- 
patiniyar and Narrattanar. Most of these works were 
lost except a few quotations from them. 

The Hymnal Period : During this period 
Brahmanism came into conflict with Buddhism and 
Jainism. The Brahmans were reinforced by bands 
of Sanskrit theologians from Upper India, and the 
battle spread like wild-fire all over the peninsula and 
raged very hot. The Brahmans and Dravidians 
made common cause against them, and religious 
disputations took place at all the important Brahman 
centres, especially Conjeeveram, Chidambaram and 
Madura. Tirunavukkarasu, Tirugnanasambandar and 
Manikkavachakar fought for Sivaisra, while Tiru- 
Malisai Piran, Tirumangai Mannan and Vishnu 
Chittan defended Vishnuism. The combined attack 
of the sectarian leaders did not go in vain. Buddhism 
and Jainism were routed; and Brahmanism was left 
in entire mastery of the field. And to ensure its 
stability in the Tamil country and elsewhere, the 
Brahmans caused hundreds of temples to Siva and 


Vishnu to be erected all over the land. Small bands 
of Brahmans from Upper India were induced by 
Tamil kings to settle here. Endowments of tax-free 
lands were made for their mamtenance and worship 
in temples. 

Durmg this period which lasted for nearly four 
centuries and a half (from A. D. 500 to A. D. 950) the 
sixty-three Nayanmars of the Siva sect and the twelve 
Alvars of the Vaishnavas flourished. Some of these 
devotees who were also fine Tamil poets visited 
many of these temples, composed and sang extempore 
hymns before the deities. Each hymn consists of ten 
or eleven verses and is supposed to instil piety in the 
mind of its reader. The prominent poet-saints of the 
two sects, who have left behind them such hymns, 
are lirunavukkarasu, Trignanasambandar and Sun- 
darar, Tirumangaimannan and Nammalvar. Other 
p'oetical compositions of a secular and sectarian nature 
were not wanting. The best of its kind was written 
by Manikka Vachakar; the other writers were Ka- 
raikal Ammai, Kapila Deva, Parana Deva, Nakkira 
Deva, Cheraman F'erumal, Kalladanar, and Nambi- 
yandar Nambi. It may be remarked here that the 
sacred literature of the Saivas in Tamil poetry was 
nearly thrice that of the Vaishnavas, the hymns of 
Sambandar alon e being nearly as voluminous as all 
the works of the twelve Alvars put together. AH these 
prove the greater popularity of Sivaism among the 
Tamil people of South India. 


In the above struggle the Buddhists and Jains 
were not quiet; they tried in their own way to popu- 
larize their rehgion by appeaHng to the hearts of the 
old as well as of the young. The most useful works 
on theology, ethics, grammar and language were 
written by them. Three of the major (Kundalakesi, 
Valaiyapati and Chintamani) and five of the minor 
(Yesodarakavyam, Udayanakavyam, Nagakumara- 
kavyam, Nilakesi and Chulamanii) epics, Naladiyar, 
Pazhamoli, Neminadam, Karigai (Prosody) and Chu- 
damani Nigandu belong to this period. The Saivas 
compiled the Divakaram and Pingalandai lexicons. 

Translations from Sanskrit : Now that the Jains 
and Buddhists were cleared off the field, the 
Brahmans began to attend to their own religion. 
Poinding more leisure and greater support from the 
Tamil kings, they set about separating the various 
sects w'hich lay embedded in Brahmanism in a crude 
form. The Sanskrit puranas and itihasas furnished 
them with mighty weapons to develop and streng- 
then the different sects. And in order to popularize 
each -ect among the Dravidians, the Tamil scholars 
and theologians found it necessary to translate some 
of the most important works, as the Jains and Bud- 
dhists had done before them to popularize their own. 
The Mahabharata had already been translated by 
Perundevanar; Kamban and Ottaikuttan took up the 

1 This Jain work was composed by Tolamoli Devar probably 
in the reign cf the Pandya king Jayantan (A. D. 650) and named 
after his father Maravarman Avani Chulamani. 


translation of Ramayana ; Kacchiyappa translated the 
Skandapurana ; and Puliyui Nambi and Paranjoti 
Muni turned into beautiful Tamil verse the Haiasya 
Mahatmya. Besides rhe translations of quasi-secta- 
rian works Tamil versions or adaptations of other 
Sanskrit poems were also undertaken. Pugazhendi 
rendered Naishadam into excellent Tamil Venba 
metre ; Dandi wrote for Tamil the Alankara Sastra, 
while Buddha-Mitra composed his Virasoliyam on 
Sanskrit model and Pavanandi wrote the celebrated 
iSlannui as an epitome of Tolkapyam. 

Again it was during this period which lasted from 
A. D. . 50 to A. D. 1200 that the sacred hymns and 
poems of Saivas and Vaishnavas, which had till then 
remained scattered, were collected and arranged. The 
Saivas assisted by Nambiyandar Nambi (A. D. 1025) 
compiled the Devaram hymns, the Tiruvachakam 
and other poems into eleven tirutnurais, while the 
Vaishnavas assisted by Sri Nathamuni (A.D, 1025) 
gathered their hymns into a single volume and call- 
ed it the 'Nalayira Prabandam' or the great 'Book of 
4000 Psalms'. Sekkilar (A.D. 1135) wrote the lives of 
the Saiva saints and called it Tiruttondar Puranam ; 
while ttie Vaishnavas wrote their Divyasuri Charitai 
and Guru paramparai about that time. All temples 
dedicated to Siva or Vishnu were being regularly 
visited by the respective sectarians, and festivals 
were instituted and celebrated with scrupulous regu- 
larity. Theapotheosis of pious votaries was made com- 
plete and their images were set up in temples ; and to 


enhance their rehgious importance Stala-puranas in 
Sanskrit were written by learned Brahmans, some of 
which were deftly interpolated in one or the other of 
the Eighteen Puranas. 

It was also the period of the Chola ascendancy. 
From about the seventh to the begmning of the 
tenth century the Pandyas and the Pallavas were 
powerful in Southern India. With the decline of 
these dynasties the Chola kings from Aditya I (A. D. 
895) downwards not only regained their strength, 
but also became aggressive and carried on wars with 
the neighbouring sovereigns. These formed the sub- 
ject matter of a class of war-chants called parani and 
lUa, 'Farani' is a poem descriptive of a campaign the 
hero whereof being supposed to have killed at least 
one thousand elephants on the battle-field. 'Ula' is a 
poem depicting the procession of a royal personage, 
his country, flag, war-drum, &c. The finest poem of 
the former class is the Kalingattupparani. It was 
written by Jayamkondan in honour of one Karunakara 
Tondaiman, who was probably the general of Kulot- 
tunga Chola I (1069-1118) that waged war successfully 
with the Kalingas towards the close of his long reign. 
The rhythm of the poem is rapid and stirring and 
best suited to the subject. We subjoin a stanza from 
that work as a specimen : — 

iS7®0a)® Oo)® Qua&sT Qeu® ^^Q ^IT 
iflsQ&)iT&S si—QeOfT&S iiSsdsQeu, 

eS®(aSl<S 6j5® Ulft Slfld(^LQITth 


And the best *ulas' are those composed by the 
famous poet Ottaikkuttan on Vikrama Chola (1118- 
1143) and Kulottunga Chola II (1143-1146). These 
together with the one on Rajaraja Chola (1146-1163) 
are known as the Muvar-UJa. The following oft- 
quoted stanza confirms what we have said above : — 

QeueaaruireiSjh Ljs(Sifii^ uiressfidd^fr 

QiMa6mu(Ts>9 ^ijjiTSihusk QsiT<ota^iLj&)fT 

euii^fT^s QsitlLi—S sk-^^^isr 
seamuiTuj seo^Dus^^jb @ !T LLsmt^njiT s<sir 

(oiJ<SS)<fUITL^S <SntSfr\DLD3Ui 

ueamufTsu usir^ii^m uuf.ssrrs' 

THE EXEGETICAL PERIOD : From the table it 
will be seen that this period of Tamil literature was 
co-extensive with the era of sectarian reformation and 
that it lasted from A. D. 1200 to A. D. 1450. The 
cleavage between the Saivas and Vaishnavas had 
become permanent and each of them crystallised 
into a distinct sect. Sri Ramanuja Charya rose and 
laboured hard to strengthen the foundation of 
Vishnuism. Sri Vedanta Desika and Sri Manavala 
Mahamuni constructed two enduring edifices of 
different designs on the foundation laid by Sri 
Ramanuja. For Sivaism similar work was under- 
taken by Meykanda Deva, Arunandi Siva Charya, 
Maraignana Sambanda and Umapati Siva Charya. 
The Vaishnava Acharyas wrote mostly in Sanskrit 


and their works are now being studied only by 
Brahmans ; while the Saiva Guravas mentioned 
above wrote only in Tamil as their writings were 
chiefly intended (or non-Brahmans. 

Further the same table will show that we have 
already crossed the mediaeval and entered the 
threshold of modern Tamil. From the close of the 
academic to the beginning of the exegetical period 
there was an interval of nearly seven hundred vears. 
In the course of such a long period, it is almost 
impossible for a living language, cultivated though 
it be, to remain unchanged either in its grammar or 
vocabulary. Moreover, there had occurred immense 
changes in the customs and manners of the Tamils 
on account of Brahmanical influence. The classical 
works of the academic period, especially the collected 
writings, couM not be easily understood even by 
scholars without the help of commentaries. And 
this want was supplied by Perasiriyar, Ilampuranar, 
Senavaraiyar, Parimelazhagar, Nacchinarkiniyar, 
Adiyarku Nallar and other annotators. Similar 
difliculties were experienced by the Brahman 
Vaishnavas in understanding the Tamil of the 
Nalayira Prabandam. The Vaishnava Acharyas 
from Nam Jiyar down to Periya Jiyar wrote 
elaborate commentaries on them, which to a lay 
student of Tamil would be more difficult than the 
original itself. These commentaries were not intend- 
ed for ordinary Tamil people, but only for the 
orthodox Vaishnavas thoroughly conversant with the 


Sanskrit Upanishads. Itihasas and Puranas. Any 
one can at a glance perceive the immense diffeience 
between the easy flowing chaste Tamil of Nachchinar- 
kiniyar or Parimelazhagar and the mixed style of 
Periyavachan Pillai. 

The Modekn Period : The latest stage in 
the history of Tamil literature has been called 
' modern', and it covers the interval between A.D., 
1450 and A.D. 1850. During this period the works 
produced were not contined to any one subject or 
department of literature. They embraced Hindu 
theology, philosophy, ethics, traditions and grammar. 
Islamism and Christianity also added their contribu- 
tions to the Tamil literature, of this period. 

Politically this was an important epoch, because 
it witnessed the downfall and total extinction of the 
ancient dynasties of Tamil kings and the occupation 
ol the Tamil nads successively by the Telugu speak- 
ing Nayaks, the Mahratta chiefs, and the Musalman 
generals. Naturally these people had no sympathy 
for Tamil literature. 

Though Tamil had thus lost state patronage, it 
did not want supporters. The Saiva monasteries 
richly endowed and managed by Tarabirans and 
Pandarams, learned in the Saiva Agamas and Siddhan- 
tas, were coming into existence ; and they served as 
seats of Tamil learning and centres for the propoga- 
tion of the Saiva cult among the Tamil Dravidians. 
Ilakkana-kottu, Ilakkana Vilakkam and Suravali 
Tolkapya-sutra-Vritti, Nanneri, Nitmeri-Vilakkam, 


Prabhulingalilai and Dravida Mahabhashyam were all 
written during this period. And the famous ascetic 
Tayumanaswami composed his sweet religious 
and philosophical songs ; Ativira Rama Pandyan 
published his Naishadam and Vetriverkai and trans- 
lated the Linga and Kurma Puranas, while his brother 
wrote Kasikandam and other works. Among the 
Vaishnavas, Villiputturar translated theM ahabharata 
and Pillaiperumal Aiyangar wrote his eight Prabhan- 
das. Among the Muhamadans, Umaru Pulavar wrote 
the Sira Puranam, and Javvadu Pulavar composed 
Muhiud-din Andavar Pillai-Tamil; while the celebrat- 
ed Italian Missionary Constantius Beschi (Tam. Vira- 
mantuuni) rendered the biography of Jesus Christ into 
a Tamil epic (Tembavani), after the fashion of 
Kamban's Ramayanam, and published it in A. D. 
1769, together with a work on Tamil grammar en- 
titled Tonnul Vilakkam. In 1895 Mr. H. Krishna 
Pillai, a native Christian poet of Palamcotta, translated 
Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress in fine Tamil verse. 

This period is marked by the cultivation of Sans- 
krit learning by the Vaishnavas as well as the Smartas. 
Settling on the fertile banks of the sacred rivers and 
streams, and congregating in agraharas around a 
Vishnu or Siva shrine hidden beneath shady groves 
and surrounded by extensive rice fields, the Brah- 
mans formed themselves into exclusive communities, 
sometimes venerated, sometimes disliked, but always 
administered to by their Dravidian neighbours. 
Tutored and encouraged by the Tambirans, Pan- 



darams an a such Tamil castes as the Kammalas and 
Lingayats, who claimed equality with the priestly 
class, some of the non-Brahmans began openly to 
question the superiority of the Brahmans and their 
authority in all social and religious matters. And 
the advent of Musalmans and the appearance of 
European Missionaries in the Tamil land during the 
16th and 17th centuries, whose habits and social 
opinions were opposed to the social ideal and organi- 
sation of the Brahmans, only tended to aggravate 
this animosity. Such was the spirit and tendency 
of the people in South India during the early years 
of the latter half of this eventful epoch. 

The Anti-Brakmanical School : The Brahman 
supremacy and vigorous exercise of the powers, 
which their aggressive culture had won for them in 
earlier years had their reaction ; and the circum- 
stances described above led to the rise of an anti- 
Brahmanical or the Siddhar school of pnilosophical 
rhyraists. They were Yogis as well as medical men. 
The number of Siddhas or men who attained siddhi or 
the 'conquest of nature' is ordinarily reckoned as 
eighteen. Most of them were plagiarists and impost- 
ors, while some assumed the names of the great men 
of antiquity like Agastyar, Kapilar, and Tiruvalluvar. 
Being eaters of opmm and dwellers in the land of 
dreams, their conceit knew no bounds. On the 
supernatural powers of the Siddhas one of them 
writes thus : — 


. . . LD&sari-.&)Qpp^iii eiasiLiiTek meiop^^QQ&jfTth, eurresr^sm^ 
iLjuD eSleoeoirdj eu"^ ^^(BQeuiTLD, ... Qp6eBrQi—ifliijLDdSevfid(^<sir 

^ireeBrt^eu(^Lh QenLDLje^etam^ ^(T dQe^QQeuirth , QsulkBili np<sst 
^s\)(5(^ Q,fL£)QuiTiosriea)d(^(oeiirrLDy Q^ims^eisiT^ ^ssrs^aas^ 
Qfdj^eS(Sl(oisuiTUD, ^uQuifiuj eijeos^iosi^ aSdoeomopQ^iuCo'SiirTih, 

OT2/L_«3r s^LDLDiTS !B(7<Gt^LD Qj IT i^(^(o sij IT ih , ismssiar QfiLemsiiS^ 
Qouek(7i^L-iruj uitldQu. 

The Siddhas did not like the Brahmans ; and they 
ridiculed in their writings the Brahmans' social insti- 
tutions, religious observances and Sanskrit Vedas. 

(1) (BLLL^a&)'?i30 Q aUUQjQlLD&ST ^ IB!T^L^lLU(^ <f!r^^Qaj 

3i-piS<3iik^ Gldh ^uQmirQeaarek £i) Q^ireo^LDm^trQiD^i—iT 1 
^Q^SQiBiT ^ Qeu^Qp QLDQg^ssi^ujp QeuiT^^ih 

QuQ^SSli^ L^Se^ti) iSl^jbjS^LD iSlTlTSafllTITaSI. 

eijiTaSQe\}(^i^^;gii§<ois)!T Qujs'&Q&)eisr£i/Qs=rr&)^/]§'iT 
euffoSQeo (^^UL^Qeufi Qij)<ssnjLJu.s si^euQ^rr? 
^LLu^ioa)p^& ^issr p^eo'^jsn ilhsh giiLSlmrgtiixi Qeu^uuir 
^il.i^(oSips^& Lu&i&iQQjir LurrsSiaseir uem^n/jS'iT? — Siv, 

(2) ^lLu^iuit LSlQe\)s^^^(oi5ariT Qisisefrir 

^lLi^SS)L^S^ Qff-fT&STS,IT ILKSiJioSnT^ear ^^ITIT 

upu&oir ibitlLi^^ld ufriruuiTifl'^iujiTiso. — Kap. 
Their religion was theism; sometimes the stress they 
laid on the siddhis or the powers a man can acquire 
over nature gave it a secularistic colour which occa- 
sionlly comes very near atheism and may be mistaken 
for it. The summiim bonum, the highest bliss or 
the paramananda of their existence was to apprehend 


and approach that eternal light which they termed 
' paranjoti', ' peroli', * pazh-veli' or ' vetta-veli.' It will 
be seen trom the above extracts that their language is 
quite modern and their style simple and at times slang . 
Prose Literature: If we omit the commentaries 
on abstruse early poems, the whole Tamil literature 
including theology, philosophy, grammar and diction- 
ary, is all poetry. In the whole range of Tamil litera- 
ture prose had no distinct place. For a long time the 
Tamils made no distinction between prose and poetry, 
the former being regarded as a form of poetry. It might 
be said that the early Tamils did not recognize 
prose. The earliest form of prose composition is 
what we find in the Silappadikaram, an heroic drama 
of the third century A. D, The same style was adop- 
ted later in the Tamil version of the Mahabharata by 
Perundevanar and in the Tagadur Yattirai. Both of 
them are known as ©.s33jitfi«»L_ ^lIl-lj-tlL® or poems 
interspersed with explanatory prose. To these may 
be added the commentary on Iraiyanar's Agapporul 
written by some unknown author (not by Nakkirar 
as hitherto believed) during the early part of 
the eighth century. And from the excerpts subjoined 
below it will be seen that they are a sort of poetic 
prose in pure Tamil, sweet and rhythmic like the 
English of Hooker's 'Ecclesiastical Polity' or Ruskins' 
'Modern Painters' : — 

aesaress^iT Qs^nft ^^ QprBoSusd QsuemQasBriLKT^siTeaLciLi UDpSQpi—isiS 
ujiri—iianLDLLj LDirsonoeaafi ^ed3,^pgft &j i^^gjiiih eu^QiQ^ira 


^<S!r uQpeaarQi^esr Los'Befr QiSfTsQ u)&jnDajiEjarr(c^ in&kressfieir 
LDfT^friasasHuuirQuj ssasiemQtifk^nmsrrissBr QjrrLUiTUin^uSQ&)(T^Loe!ir 
p^^ LDirajQJ^isar jD6ar(yj<es)L^tu urreO'fifl&a^ ismsiEi^eitleo 

(27'srr speiaQJSssr^ ^tun i§isi(^9Qajesr(oSu. — Stl. 

(2) ^sueiiiT &.LJL4^ffl(^i^ SlLprriT LDS{es)SuiT'sisr 'Sl.q^^^'T sesrin 
Q^STmuiTiobi y smu!Sissatsrfvat(ssr t^'sisnrittS it issr &ujiTLL<stDL^ULSlTiT!iJ^ 

QuaQ^^ssiiT ^^rr jh ■semsasFiT ajrriTii^ QloiuldlduSit '^&Sits(^lo 
QmdjujiTuSesr S-faatrdQsLLu-sBi^^^. — A^Clp. 

Till we come to the exegetic period we can scarce- 
ly hear of any prose work. The Jains and the Brahman 
Vaishnavas had some of their Puranas and religious 
works translated or written in prose ; but they were 
purely sectarian and in a composite or Sanskrit- 
Tamil style. And in strange contrast to it the 
commentaries of Gunasagara, Nachchinarkiniyar or 
Adiyarkunallar were written in chaste Tamil. We 
give below two extracts from these works : — 

(1) smtusrrQ LuiT iuu(^Quj uit^^t ewsuDsrvj s^i^^tssr uoj 
esr^so)^ lueai—^e^LC suiUseSsrr,f(y)ua QsaQeo QsiTe\)fr^sns\}QpL£) 

QstTLiirseuiTu.eSsi^anQp lditSIlu ^^fajiks(Gi^'S(r<ci}!T(^QiD&5r^ 
^Q^&^^€isr!T. — Chi n p. "27. 

(2) L^tjistvurr ^ sQeo^ etutJauneuiG^mrs^eS^iTiJitTiL uir^uu ^!T^ 
uffLDtresar eS&}3i,^6i5BrLDrTiiS(T^i^<srr<s!r f8Se\) Qeu^ ^iT^^^d(^LD 
Q&iQ^nu LUTLDLDGSBiihseniTsar ewiM(7^^,QsifoiTewui!TrrsimisiS(ef^S(^ih 

^6sBul9ssids. — Tat. Sekh. 


Coming to modern times works written wholly and 
deliberately in prose, not reckoning commentaries as 
such, commence with Beschi's Vediyar Ozhukkam. 
And we may even say that a new impetus was given 
to prose composition only during the early part of 
the last century by the Tamil pandits of the early 
Madras University, of whom Tandavaraya Mudaliyar, 
Viraswami Chettiyar, and Saravanapperumal Aiyar 
deserve special mention. In the latter part of the 
nineteenth century a number of Tamil prose works, 
translations as well as original productions, were 
published by learned Tamil scholars. The labours 
of the late T. E. Srinivasa Raghava Chariyar and 
Arumuga Navalar may still be in the memory of 
every lover of Tamil literature. And the foremost 
among the living writers of Tamil prose and scholarly 
commentaries is undoubtedly Mahamahopadhyaya 
V. Swaminatha Aiyar Avargal of the Madras Pre- 
sidency College, who may be styled the Nachchinar- 
kiniyar of the present day. 

A prose literature worth the name is only a recent 
growth, which is sufficient to account for the absence 
of prose classics in Tamil. The influence of English 
literature, the great increase in the Tamil reading 
public, and the conditions of life in this age with its 
forms of popular government, its commercialism 
and industrial activities favour the rapid expansion of 
prose literature ; and a prose style also has begun to 



One of the chief features of progressive civilisation 
is the institution of literary and scientific societies. 
In Western countries they began to be established 
only after the Renaisance. Even so late as A. D. 
1599 'modern science had not yet been born, mathe- 
matics were in their infancy, the literatures of the 
greai modern languages were only beginning to be 
made '. The eastern nations, on the contrary, were 
in their own way so far advanced in civilisation as to 
found literary academies and to hold commercial in- 
tercourse with the highly civilized Greeks, Phoeni- 
cians and Romans. And the epigraphical discoveries 
in Southern India and the critical study of early 
Tamil works have disclosed many facts tending to 
confirm the very high antiquity of Tamil literature, 
and the tolerably advanced state of Tamil civilisation 
so early as the first or second century before 
the Christian era. 

The ancient classics of the Tamil people frequently 
refer to sangams or societies of learned men. 


Tirumangai Alvar, a Vaishnava saint who lived about 
the latter half of the eighth century, speaks of 'Sanga- 
muka-Tamir and ' Sanga.mali-Tamir in his Feriya 
Tirumoli (III. v. 10). Manikka Vachakar, one of the 
four great Saiva Saints of the ninth century, refers 
indirectly in his Tirukkovai to a Tamil sangam at 
Madura. Allusions to the Tamil sangams may be 
quoted from the works of other poets. One of the 
most trustworthy references to .the founding of a 
Tamil academy prior to the eighth century will 
be found in the copper plates discovered at Chin- 
namanur in the Madura district. And lastly there 
are references to the Madura College in the Tiru- 
vilayadal or Madura Stalapurana. 

The Tamil sangam is known to some English 
scholars as the * Madura College' and to others as the 
' Madura University.' In Sanskrit the word sangam 
means an association (of learned men), and it seems 
to have been introduced into the Tamil language by 
early Buddhists from Northern India, no Tamil 
word having existed before to express that idea. 
Some Tamil scholars are, however, of opinion that 
avai which was in use in the days of Tolkapyar to 
denote such an association or assembly is a pure 
Tamil word. But avw, savai or sahhai is also a 
Sanskrit word. A college ordinarily means a teach- 
ing institution, and a university is also a body of 
examiners. The Madura sangam was an examining 
association, but it was never a teaching institute. To 
designate this sort of society another word now 


widely current is ' academy'. And as the chief func- 
tion of the sangam, like that of the French Academy, 
was the promotion of Tamil literature, the name 
'academy ' seems to be appropriate to this institution 
and is therefore used in the following pages. 

According to Tamil writers there were three 
sangams in the Pandya country at different periods- 
After the dissolution of the last of them spasmodic 
attempts were made at various times to establish n(?w 
Colleges ; but none of them were very successful. 
These later academies did not attain the high rank, 
distinction and influence of their predecessors, nor 
were they recognised by learned Tamil scholars as 
of such importance as to deserve mention. 

A full account of the three academies, their dates, 
the plaices where they were founded, the Pandya 
kings who patronised them, the works that were 
approved and sanctioned by their senatus academicus, 
the number and names of the members and lastly the 
influence they exerted in moulding the Tamil lan- 
guage and literature will be given below ; and of the 
rest only a passing notice. 

Before entering upon the discussion of the ages 
of the academies severally, it would be convenient 
at the outset to determine approximately the 
earlier and the later limits of the period during which 
the three academies existed. It is admitted both by 
Indian and European scholars that the civilisation of 
the Tamil nation was, in the main, due to the Aryan 
colonists in the south, and that the first academy owed 


its origin to Agastya, the reputed leader of the first 
band of Brahman immigrants in South India. The 
date of Agastya is lost in myth, and the traditions, 
which are in themselves conflicting, represent him 
as still living on the Pothiya mountains in the 
Tinnevelly district. 

Let us therefore turn our attention to other 
sources to discover his date. The introduction 
of the Tamil alphabet seems to afford us the best 
clue to get at this date, because prior to it no 
society of learned men or any seminary could have 
come into existence, and because it would almost be 
impossible for a race without a system of writing to 
possess a literature. Undoubtedly, the Sanskrit Vedas 
had been in existence long before they were commit- 
ted to writing ; but the case of the Vedas is altogether 
different from that of the Tamil poems, which in the 
opinion of J Vinson, were * essays, pamphlets and 
short poems.' The Vedas were the sacred scriptures 
of the Aryans and were, therefore, handed down 
orally from generation to generation as a sacred 
trust and were preserved in their memory. Even 
after the introduction of writing in North India the 
conservative attitude of the Brahmans resisted all in- 
ducements to write down their Vedas for a longtime 
which have been, for that reason, known as the 'un- 
written word', or the eTQp^iraQefrsiS. Whereas among 
the Dravidian Tamils there was no such priestly 
class, and none of their earlier poems belonging to 
the earliest or the pre-academic period was held in 


such veneration as to deserve handing down by rote 
hke the Vedas. Amongst the ancient TamiHans there 
was, no doubt, a class of minstrels called 
the panans {ufissarsar) more or less resembling the 
troubadours of mediaeval France, whose duty it was 
to recite songs or lays of fightmg and adventure 
before kings and nobles on festive and other occasions. 
But most of these men were illiterate mendicants and 
their poems and songs were in no sense religious. 
They had no interest in preserving in the memory of 
the people the heroic tales of temporal power and in 
transmitting them orally to their posterity. It is thus 
pretty clear ' that the earliest literary activity of the 
Tamilians could have shown itself only after the 
introduction of writing in South India, which must 
have taken place long before the fourth century B. C. 
We shall not therefore be wrong if we look for the 
foundation of the first Tamil academy or Sangam 
somewhere between the sixth and fourth centuries 
before the Christian era. 

Having tixed approximately the upper limit of the 
age of the Tamil academies, we may now proceed 
to give a detailed history of each of them separately. 
In order to follow the arguments the reader is 
expected to possess some knowledge of the history of 
the early Pandya kings, a brief outline of which will 
be found in Appendix I. 

Regarding the hrst academy the following particu- 
lars are mentioned in Nakkirar's commentary on 
Iraiyanar's Agapporul, which, though meagre, is we 


believe the only earliest source of information 
on the subject. According to this account the 
members of the first academy were Agastya (Presi- 
dent), gods Siva and Subrahmanya, Mudinagaraya of 
Murinjiyur, Nitiyin Kizhavan and 544 other poets. 
The number of authors who obtained the imprimatur 
of the College for their works was 4449. Dakshina 
or Southern Madura was the seat of the University, 
and it is also stated that this city of Madura submerged 
in the Indian ocean. Its patrons were eighty-nine 
Pandya kings from Kaysina-valudi or Ugra Pandya to 
Kadum-Kon, seven of whom were also poets Some 
of the works which were approved by the academy 
were Paripadal, Mudunarai, Mudu-kuruku and 
Kalariyavirai. Their grammar was Agastyam. It lasted 
for 4,440 years. 

If the above facts be submitted to strict historical 
criticism, most of them will have to be rejected as pure 
myths, there being nothing to corroborate them 
(either in Tamil literature or in the contemporary 
annals of other countries. The number of members 
of the academy and of the kings who patronized it 
and the long period during which it is stated to have 
lasted, are all incredible and cannot be verified. The 
list of eighty-nine Pandya kings is not to be found 
either in the Puranas or in any other extant works 
Nor have any of the writings attributed to this 
academy come down to us in their entirety, excepting 
probably a few doubtful quotations from Agastyam 
and one or two others. Apparently all these had 


been lost long before the tenth or eleventh 

The only authors of this period about whom any 
account, however scanty it might be, can be extracted 
from Tamil literature are Agastya and Murinjiyur 
Mudinagarayar. The rest of the members seem to be 
half mythical persons. The life of Agastya is clothed 
in myth ; but this much is certain that he was a 
Brahman of North India and that he led the first 
colony of Brahmans which settled in the Tamij 
districts. According to another tradition he was a 
member of the Sanskrit academy at Benares, which 
was presided over by Vyasa, the compiler of the Vedas, 
and, after quarrelling with his colleagues there, he 
wended his way down to the Tamil country and 
established the first Tamil Academy at Madura. It is 
said that the Tamil language is indebted to him for 
its grammar. He was the first to introduce the worship 
of Siva and the science of medicme among the South 
Indian Dravidians. Though most of the Tamil works 
now existing on chemistry, physiology and medicine 
which are commonly attributed to him are pure 
forgeries, he might have been acquainted with the 
art of medicine and the first Rishi to teach it to the 
Tamil nation. 

He is said to have had twelve students, namely, 
Tolkapyan, Athangottasan, Duralingan, Semputchay, 
Vaiyapikan, Vayppiyan, Panambaran, Kalaramban, 
Avinayan, Kakkapatiniyan, Natrattan and Vamanan. 
It is believed that they specialized their studies and 


wrote works on music, dramaturgy and prosody, and 
that the lost work of Agastya embraced all the three. 
The twelve desciples wrote each a chapter on Purap- 
porul which collectively was known as ussisffR(r^ui-.&)ih 
or the 'Twelve Chapters'. Its existence is doubted, but 
in its place we have now the ' Venba-Malai' of 
Aiyanaridanar which is said to have been based on 
the above work. According to Adiyarkunallar Sik- 
handiyar was a student of Agastya ; and he is said to 
have written Isainunukkam, a treatise on music, 
which is now lost. Quotations from the grammatical 
works of his students Kakkapatiniyan, Natrattanar and 
Avinayanar may be found in the ancient commenta- 
ries on Agapporul, Tolkapyam, Yapparunkalam and 
other standard books. Chief of them, Tolkapyar was 
also a member of the second academy like his 
renowned master. About tne precise date of Agas- 
tyar's migration to the South nothing definite oan 
be said, but as has been pointed out above, it cannot 
be earlier than the fifth or sixth century B. C. 

It is believed that in the first Sangam there was a 
poet by name Vanmikiyar. His work, the name of 
which is not known, was considered by Nacchinar- 
kiniyar as the best of its kind. From this 
dubious statement and similarity in names a vi^riter 
of the Neo. Tamil school jumps to the conclusion 
that Valmiki, Gautama, Kapila and other famous 
sages and Sanskritists of Upper India were by birth 
Tamilians, and that after they had become famous 
they were admitted as members of the Tamil acade- 


mies. It is not worth entering into any controversy 
with him as he claims to himself a ' sense of truth 
and critical acumen ' which he may not be so 
charitable as to concede to his opponents. 

In Purananuru, which is an anthology or a collec- 
tion of 400 lyrics compiled by some poet of the 
third academy, there is a sang ascribed to Mudina- 
garayar who was a member of the first sangam. 
This poem is a sort of epistle addressed to a Chera 
monarch named Udiyan Cheraladan. The poet 
here extols the king as the commissary agent or 
supplier of provisions to the contending armies on 
the battle field of Kurukshetra : — 

(iQujIT Qu0LOf 

iSsDiB^'^d QairesoTL^ Quitsowlj^ib ^ihsmu 

This informs us that the Chera king Udiyan Chera- 
ladan, lived at the time of the Mahabharata war, i.e. 
about the 10th or 11th century B. C. Among the na- 
tions and tribes who ^ught in the great war of the 
Pandavas against the Kauravas, the Cherasand the 
Cholas did not actually fight ; but as allies helped them 
with armies or supervised other details of the company. 
Pandiya king Sarangadwaja, a friend of Sri Krishna 
and a devoted admirer of the Pandavas, drew only 
one contingent of troops from each of the other Tamil 
tribes. Another tradition says that Arjuna came 
to Madura and married the daughter of a Pandya 


king. Some Tamil scholars endeavour to prove the 
very hi^h antiquity of the Tamil civilization in 
the Pandya country by quoting such references from 
Valmiki's Ramayana and Vyasa's Mahabharata. In 
his Maduraikkanji (40, 41) Marudanar of Mangudi 
says that the Pandya country was in existence at the 
time of Ravana, king of Lanka, and that the Pandyas 
checked his invasion with the help of their family 
priest, the divine Rishi Agastya. 

But it must be remembered that neither epic was 
wholly composed by any one person and at any one 
epoch. Both contain interpolations and accretions, 
judging from which the dates of their present edition 
have been fixed as the first century B.C. and 350 A.D. 
respectively. Moreover, the Ramayana refers only to 
the Greeks (Yavanas) while the Mahabharata mentions 
them as well as the Sakhas (Scythians). All that 
can be inferred is, that the three Tamil kingdoms in 
the South were in existence from very ancient times. 
No one doubts this fact, as these countries are men- 
tioned in the edicts of Asoka (B. C. 250) and in the 
commentaries of Katyayana (fourth century B. C). 

The identilication of Dakshina Madura, the seat of 
the first Academy has been a controversial point. Re. 
garding the destruction of this place there are certain 
allusions both in the Madura Stalapurana and in the 
Silappadikaram. The learned commentator of the 


latter work writes as follows : — ' Between the rivers 
Knmari and Pahruli there existed an extensive con- 
tinent occupying an area of 700 kavadams (a Kavadam 
being equal to ten miles). This land consisting of 
forty-nine Jiads (inclusive of KoUam and Kumari), i n 
numerable forests, mountains and rivers had been 
submerged in the Indian ocean as far as the peaks of 
Kumari,' by a terrific convulsion which resulted in 
the upheaval of the Himalayan range. Geological, 
ethnological and linguistic researches also seem to 
confirm the above theory. But who can say with any 
authority whether the submerged country had a town 
called Madura or Kudal, whether it was governed by 
precisely eighty-nine Pandya kings, or whether the 
Dravidian inhabitants of this terra incognita were so 
far civilized as to establish literary academies? What 
seems to be reasonable is that the Madura of Agast- 
yar's days must have been destroyed by an unusual 
inundation of the Vaiga and the Kritamal rivers, 
before the modern town was built at the present 
locality. The old Madura must have situated five 
or six miles south or south-east of the later one, and 
about the same distance east of Tirupparamkunram 
hill which has been described to have situated exactly 
west of it-, 

LDfTL^LoeSI iDgtiQjb <9s_/_ ff)@(_QyuJ?63r. — Nak. 
This hill is now four miles south-west of Madura. 
And it is for the above reason that the old city was 
called the south or Dakshina Madura. 

About the second academy the same authority 



furnishes the following information : — The members 
of the college were Agastya, Tolkapyar, Mosiyar, 
Sirupandarangan, Vellur Kappiyan, Tuvaraikkoman, 
Kirandaiyar and fifty-two other scholars ; and the 
works of about 3,700 poets were passed by this aca- 
demy. The seat of it was another submerged town, 
called Kapatapuram. It was patronized by fifty-nine 
Pandya kings from Venderseliyan to Mudatirumaran, 
five of whom were also learned scholars. The 
standard works ot this period were Kali, Kuruku, 
Vendali, Mapuranam, Vyalamalai, Bhutapuranam, 
Isainunukkam, &c. It lasted for 3,700 years. 

It will be seen that the mterval between the aboli- 
tion of the first and the founding of the second 
academy could not have been long, as Agastya and 
some of his students were represented at the latter 
College-board also. Consequently the second must 
be considered a continuation of the first, but held at 
a different place after the destruction of the original 
Madura by the flood. This supposition is strength- 
ened by the statement of Adiyarkunallar in his valu- 
able commentary on the Silappadikaram, that one of 
the seven Pandya poet kings of the first academy by 
name * Makirti' was also at Kapatapuram, as a patron 
or royal visitor of the second academy. Kapatapuram 
which in Sanskrit meant the 'gate city' , must have 
been a village situated three or four miles east of 
Madura, occupied temporarily as the king's resi- 
dence before the modern city of Madura was built. 
Out of the questionable mention of this Sanskrit 


■name as well as of Manalur (which Sanskrit scholars 
think to be later interpolations) in the Rama- 
yana and the Mahabharata, some Tamil pandits 
are endeavouring to make much capital about the 
great antiquity of Tamil culture and civilization. 
As for the other particulars, we may dismiss them at 
present as more fictions than facts. 

To arrive at the date of the second academy the 
commentator of Silappadikaram gives us an indirect 
hint in his preface to that work. While speaking of 
the story of Udayana he says that it was composed 
in imitation of the classical works of the second 
academy, and refers to it elsewhere as Perum-Kathai 
(Skt. Brihat-Katha)- Evidently it is a Tamil rendering 
of Gunadhya's Brihat-Katha. It is therefore obvious 
that the poets of the second Sangam must have 
flourished sometime before, or contemporarily with, 
Gunadhya. In the opinion of Dr. Buhler the age of 
Gunadhya goes back to the first or second century 
A. D. He served as minister under king Satavahana 
(A. D. 113) of the Andhrabhritya dynasty at Paithan 
on the banks of the Godavari. * He received,' it 
is said, 'seven stories in the language of the Paisa- 
chas (probably ancient Telugu) from Kanabhuti 
and wrote them down in 100,000 slokas each with 
his own blood.' 

One of the poets of this academy, Mosiyar, has 
contributed about fourteen lyrics to Purananuru. 
Neither the kings alluded to by him, nor the incidents 
described therein afford any clue to work out his 


date. He was a native of Uraiyur and lived in the 
reign of the Chola king Perunarkillil- If Dittan the 
father of PerunarkilH was identical with Dathiya 
the Tamil usurper of the Singhalese annals (B.C. 90), 
it may be said that he flourished about B.C. 75. Again 
the present 'edition of the Ramayana which was recas^ 
about 100 B.C. mentions in its geography the Pandya 
country and its capital Kapatapuram. Nothing further 
is known about Tolkapyar, whose Tamil grammar is 
with us, than that he was a Brahman student of 
Agastya and that he lived m a village near Madura 
during the reign of the Pandya king Makirti. All the 
works of this academy have also been irretrievably 
lost, except the grammar of Tolkapyar and a few 
poems which luckily found their way into the 
anthologies compiled at the third academy. 

From the foregoing it will be seen that the 
first and the second academies were more or less 
continuous, and that they existed occasionally 
sometime between the fifth century B. C. and the 
second century A. D. This conclusion seems to me 
irresistable as we find ino references to the Yavanas 
or Romans in any of the works composed by the 
poets of these academies, especially when we know 
that in the heyday of the early Pandyas there was a 
colony of Roman merchants two or three miles east 
of Madura from the second to fifth century A.D. 

So much for the first two academies. We shall 

1. The Killi line of Cholas appear to have reigned in Uraiyur 
during the first century before and after Christ. 


now pass on to the third, which was by far the most 
important, and about which we are particularly 
concerned. Almost all the best Tamil classics 
we now possess are the productions of this last 
Sangam. The history of this academy should 
therefore be fully gone into, as there are ample mate- 
rials in the shape of innumerable literary traditions, 
puranas, and casual references. But the difftculties 
also proportionately increase, because unfortunately 
no two of them agree. An academy being an asso- 
ciation of men of letters, its history cannot be sepa- 
rated from their biographies; and it would be our work 
in the following pages to collate such of the literary 
traditions as have any bearing on their lives and to 
construct a tolerably trustworthy account of this third 

We shall first give the traditional account mainly 
as preserved for us in the scholarly commentary 
on Iraiyanar's Agapporul, and then discuss in detail 
every point with reference to the latest researches 
in epigraphy. 

The members of this academy were Nakkirar 
(President), Sittalai-Sattanar, Kalladar, Kapilar, Para- 
nar, Ugra Pandya, Mangudi Maruthanar and forty- 
two other scholars. Including them 449 poets obtain- 
ed the sanction of the senate for their writings. The 
seat of this Sangam was Uttara (northern) Madura. 
It was patronized by forty-nine kings from 
Mudattiru-maran to Ugra Pandya, three of whom 
were also poets- The classical works of this period 


were Nedumtokai, Kurumtokai, Natrinai, Ainkuru- 
nuru, Paditruppattu, Kurumkali, Paripadal, Kuttu, 
Vari, Perisai, Sitrisai, Muttollayiram, Akananuru 
and Purananuru, besides many minor poems. It 
lasted for 1850 years. 

Concernin<4 the foundation of the third Sangam 
nothmg definite can be said. Tradition says that 
it took place in the reign of one Mudattirumaran^ 
and this seems to have been tacitly accepted by the 
commentator of Iraiyanar's Agapporul and Adiyar- 
kunallar. The name Mudattirumaran appears to be 
a synonym for Kun or Kubja Pandyan. If this 
identification be correct, the third academy must 
have been established in the reign of Sundara Pandya; 
that is about 670 A.D. But this is against ail tradition 
and facts. The Tiruvilayadal Purana tells us that it 
was established in the reign of one Vamsa Sekhara 
Pandya, who is also credited with the founding of 
the Madura city after the 'deluge'. Neither of these 
Pandyas is mentioned in the literature or in the 
inscriptions which have been examined, and it is 
therefore impossible to ascertain the precise date of 
the establishment of the third academy. 

It has been said that Kalladar l and Mangudi 
Marudanar were members of this academy. These 
two poets have sung the military exploits of Nedum 
Seliyan of Talaiyalankanam fame. If these poets were 
contemporaries of this king, they should have been 

1. He was not that Kalladanar who wrote 'Kalladam' and 'Kannap- 
par Tirumaram' (See Appendix). 


living in the latter half of the second century A.D. 
Again, Sittalai Sattanar another meinber of this acade- 
my and the author of Manimekalai also lived at about 
the same time. Had all these poets been really mem- 
bers of the third academy, it must have been founded 
during the first century A. D., or even long before that 
time. This tradition thus militates against our conclu- 
sion that the second academy existed till the second 
century, and it must, therefore, be rejected as a pure 

Again according to the Tiruvalluvamalai one of the 
fortynme professors of the third Sangarn was Perun- 
devanar, the famous translator of the Mahabharata; 
as a member of this academv the compilation of 
the eight anthologies (CTilO^Q^/rea:*) is also attributed 
to him. If it was really so, a learned scholar and poet 
of this reputation must have been mentioned by Nak- 
kirar (oi whoever he might be) in the account of San- 
gams given in iraiyanar's Agapporul. As his name is 
not in the list, it is evident that he was not a member 
of the third academy, and this inference is clinched 
by an allusion in his Bharatam to the Pallava king 
Nandivarman who won the battle at Tellar. The poet 
Perundevanar must have thus lived at the latter part 
of the eighth century. With it the general belief that 
the compiler of tiie eight anthologies was the self- 
same Perundevanar falls to the ground, unless it be 
that the third academy actually jCxisted about* that 
period and that its forty-nine professors together with 
Tiruvalluvar were his contemporaries — all which 


are absolutely incredible and contrary to the testimo- 
nies of epigraphy and literary history. 

The list of the forty-nine Pandya kings under 
whose auspices the third academy thrived is not 
given anywhere ; but the name of the last (Ugra 
Pandya or Ugra Peruvaludi) alone occurs both in the 
stala'purana and in Tamil literature. It was in the 
reign of this king, according to one tradition, that the 
third Sangam or the famous seminary of learning at 
Madura came to an end, when its members were 
completely vanquished in a poetical contest with the 
low caste Tiruvalluvar. But Tiruvaliuvar (A. D. 80) 
lived at the time of the second academy, and had 
therefore nothing to do with the third Sangam or its 
destruction. That he was instrumental in bringing 
about the downfall of the third Sangam, that all the 
forty-nine members of it eulogized the Kural before 
they were drowned in the " golden lily " tank, that 
the famous Kapilar of this academy was his brother, 
and that he was a Paraiya by caste — all these are fig- 
ments of the Dravidian imagination. In the early years 
of the Christian era there was no Paraiya caste ; 
Kapilar was a Brhaman poet of Tirnvadavur in the 
Madura district, and was the author of Kurinchipattu, 
Innanarpatu and several other poems ; none of the 
forty-nine commendatory verses belong to the same 
period, nor were they composed by poets of the same 
nadu; and lastly it is not possible to believe that all 
these poets conferred with one another and agreed to 
extol the Kural in poems of the Venba metre and that in 


the first century A. D. The subjoined eulogistic verse 
usually attributed to Auvai, the renowned sister of 
Tiruvalluvar, is enough to discredit the truth and 
antiquity of the Tiruvalluvamalai: — 

Qpoi/T ^uSqp QpssBQiDir L^iqisi — QsiretsiQi 

QiDiT0eijrT ssQiDsk ^emir. 
In the above quotation we find references to Appar, 
Sambandar, Sundarar, Manikkavachakar and Tiru- 
mular, the latest of whom lived in the second 
half of the ninth century. There are several 
other verses of this sort in praise of the Kural. 
This stanza makes Tiruvalluvar a contemporary of 
Manikkavachakar ! What we are inclined to think 
is that the Tiruvalhivaraalai or the 'garland of Tiruval- 
luvar', like every other account relating to this famous- 
moralist, is a strange mixture of doubtful traditions 
and absurd fictions, written by some later Dravidian 
author of the ninth century to popularize the 
celebrated work of Tiruvalluvar. Thus, it will be 
seen that the tradition which attributes the destruc- 
tion of the third academy to poet Tiruvalluvar and 
in the reign of the Pandya king Ugra Peruvaiudi, 
is not only absolutely unfounded, but also contrary 
to the statement in the Madura Stalapurana which 
ascribes to the same king the foundation of the first 
Sangam or academy. 

For the extinction of the third academy we must 
look elsewhere. If the compilation of Purananuru 


was made by this Sangam, the date of its aboh- 
tion could be easily determined. In the above work 
we find a poem addressed to the Chola king Kocchen- 
gannan by poet Poigaiyar i. The exact age of this 
poet is not known ; but the Chola king has been 
referred to by the saints Trignanasambanda and 
Tirumangai Alvar (A. D. 650-750) as the builder of 
several temples to Siva and Vishnu. For this pious 
act he has been canonized as a saint and included in 
the hagiolugy of the Saivas. Granting that a period 
of about a century had elapsed between this Chola 
king and Sambandar, the probable date of Kocchen- 
ganan would be about A. D. 580. As there is no 
reference in Sambandar's work to the Tamil academy 
at Madura, where the Saiva saint must have stayed 
for some time before the Jains were impaled, and las 
a poem addressed to this king is found in Purananuru, 
there is every reason to believe that the third acad- 
emy came to an end during the second half of the 
sixth century. 

This was the time when the struggle between 
Jainism and Brahmanism was very vehement. 
The kings and scholars of this transition period in 
the south were completely absorbed in religious con- 
troversies, and they hardly had any time to de- 
vote to literary pursuits. And it was probably at this 
period that the Pandya country was conquered and 
temporarily held by the Kalabhras or Kalambras, till 

1. This poet must not be confounded with the Vaishnava saint 
Poigai Alvar who lived about A. D. 650, 


they were expelled by Kadunkon about the beginning 
of the seventh century. All these religious and 
political disturbances contributed to the extinction 
of the third academy. 

The religion of the members of the three academies 
it is not easv to determine, as all the accounts we now 
have are from the Saiva source, and none from Bud- 
dhists and Jains. However, so late, as the third or 
fourth century A.D. there was no Sivaism or Vishnu- 
ism as understood now. But there was Brahmanism 
or the religion of the Vedas ; and side by side 
with it there were also jainism and Buddhism. 
The members of the first and second Sangams, 
which continued up to the second century, must 
have belonged to different persuasions. Agastyar 
and Tolkapyar were Hindus, and presumably 
professed Brahamanism. The writings of Tiruval- 
luvar, Kapilar and Paranar do not show that they 
were Saivas, while those of Nallanduvanar and 
Nakkirar show that they were ; yet ail these, except 
Tiruvalluvar are given in the Saivite accounts as 
Saivas, which is evidently unwarranted. One at least 
of the forty-nine professors, that is Sattanar, was a 

At about the fourth or fifth century the religious 
struggle made its first appearance. Buddhist and Jaina 
scholars must have seceded from the Hindus and 
started Sangas or colleges of their own at Madura and 
other places for the advancement of Tamil literature. 
One was started by Vajra Nandi in A.D. 470 in oppo- 


sition to a Hindu college, probably the third Sangam, 
which was then conducted mainly by the Saivas. The 
five minor and the five major Kavyas and some of 
the eighteen minor ethical poems must have been 
passed by these Buddhist and Jaina Sangams or in- 
stitutions, which, with the downfall of these religions, 
must have come to an end. It might be noticed here 
that the word sangam (Sangha) was probably of 
Buddhistic origin. 

It will be well at this stage of our enquiry to 
examine the importance and value of the earliest 
traditional account, which is attributed to Nakkirar 
and upon which all the others are based, so far as 
the facts revealed by epigraphy and early Tamil litera- 
ture enlighten us on the subject. The entire period 
of existence of the three Sangams or academies is 
said to be 9990 years. This seems to us fabulous. 
They were patronised by. 

First Sangam — 89 kings from Kaysinavaludi 

(A.D. 100) to Kadunkon (A.D. 600); 

Second do — 59 kings from Vendercheliyan 

(A.D. 740) to Mudattirumaran 

(A.D. 650); 

Third do — 49 kings from Mudattirumaran to 

Ugra Peruvaludi (A. D. 100). 
Of these Kaysinavaludi and Ugra Peruvaludi might 
be identified with Ugra Pandya of early Tamil lite- 
rature. Mudattirumaran might be the same as Kun 
or Kubja Pandya, and identified with Nedumaran of 
Nelveli (A. D. 650), Kadunkon lived about A. D. 


600 and Ter cheliyan was a title of Arikesari Paranku- 
san (A. D. 735). Thus it will be seen that the tradi- 
tional account, which must have originated some- 
time after the second half of the eighth century, not 
only gives conflicting details about the three acade- 
mies, but also throws serious doubts as to their relative 
ages and their very existence. 

Again, the illustrative kovai or garland of verses, 
quoted m the so-called Nakkirar's commentary on 
Iraiyanar's Agapporul, frequently refers to the same 
Pandya king Arikesari Parankusan (Ter-cheliyan) 
and his military achievements. The commentator, 
or at any rate the author who committed it to writing, 
unconsciously betrays himself as Nilakantanar, the 
tenth in succession from Nakkirar the supposititious 
writer of the commentary. Allowing twenty years 
for each generation of studentship, we arrive at A. D. 
750 — 160 or 590 as the age of Nakkirar or of the 
composition of Agapporul by Iraiyanar. But even this 
period seems to be too modern for Nakkirar, because 
the language and subject matter of Tirumurugarruppa- 
dai show that he could not have lived later than the 
fourth century A. D. In this connection it must be 
observed that none of the members of any of these 
academies, (excepting a certain writer by the name of 
Nakkirar) refers to his academy or Sangam. Thus 
we see that the above account of the academies is a 
clear fabrication, like all other pauranic tales, out 
of the names of some Pandya kings,- poets and 


institutions vaguely known to the Tamilians of those 
times and foisted upon Nakkirar. 

Several attempts in later times were made to estab- 
hsh Tamil Sangams. The one referred to in the 
Chinnamanur grant seems to have been the first and 
the earliest endeavour after the dissolution of the fam- 
ous third academy. It was probably the fourth, and 
lasted for one century and a half from about A. D. 
600 to A. D. 750. Though it was not so famous as 
the third, it appears to have done some useful work 
at least by way of collecting and preserving rare 
Tamil works which would otherwise have perished. 
Perundevanar, the author of Bfiarata Venba must 
have belonged to this academyi, as his name, famous 
though it was, does not appear in Nakkirar's list 
of the members of the third academy. Naladiyar 
(A. D. 750) and some other poems included in the 
eighteen minor works (u^Q'SST^Stfisa,6ms(^) should, I 
think, be attributed to this Sangam. From the ex- 
pressions -fiEis^^iAii^ and ■fiasQps^^uSi^ which occur in 
the works of Tirumangai Alvar, I am inclined to 
believe that the great Vaishnava apostle knew this 
fourth Sangam, though he was not probably its 

1. According to the astronomical calculation made by Divan 
Bahadur Swamikkannu Pillai Avi, from a reference in the Silappa* 
dikaram, the poets Ilango-adigal and Sattanar must have flourished 
in the eighth century. If so, the latter author must have been a 
member of the above academy. We cannot now go deepei into 
this question or accept Mr. Swamikkannu Pillat's theory, until 
stronger and more convincing evidences be forth-coming. 


Anotlier attempt in later times seems to have been 
made by Poyyamoli Pulavar the author, of an erotic 
poem known as the Tanjaivanan Kovai. He lived, it is 
said, in the reign of oneVanangamudi Pandyan whose 
date cannot be determined at present. From the brief 
account of this poet given in the Tamil Plutarch, it 
might be inferred that the poet's petition to the Pan- 
dya kinglto establish an academy did not meet with 
the royal approbation. But at the time of Tiruttakka 
Deva (about 900 A. D.) there was, it is said, a Sangam 
at Madura, and one Poyyamoli was an admirer of 
the reputed author of Chintamani. If this Poyyamoli 
was the poet alluded to above, we shall have every 
reason to think that he did partially succeed in 
founding an academy which was probably the fifth. 

The Pandya and Chola kings, some of whom were 
lovers of Tamil literature, might have assembled 
societies of learned men at different times; but no 
history of them has come down to us, probably because 
none of them attained the high rank of the first three 
academies. Yet, most of the Tamil kings from Paran- 
taka Chola (A. D. 906) downwards appear to have 
encouraged the growth of Tamil learning by 
patronising eminent poets who adorned their courts 
and by showering on them munificent presents. A 
few of them like Gandaraditya (tenth century) 
and Ati Vira Rama Pandya (seventeenth century) 
were themselves poets, and gave an impetus in later 
times to the advancement of learning in the Tamil 


Before proceeding to consider the work done by 
the Tamil academies which existed at various times, it 
is desirable to give a brief summary of their history. 
The early Pandya kings were the foremost to en- 
co.irage Tamil learning by establishing academies at 
Madura. Vague and exaggerated accounts of some 
of them appear to have been handed down in tradi- 
tions, until they were committed to writing, first 
by the commentator of Iraiyanar's Agapporul, and 
then by the writer of the Madura Stalapurana, 
some time after A. D. 750. Some of their members 
seem to be fictitious persons, while others, probably 
excepting a few, do not appear to be contemporaries. 
Their constitution, function and age, as described in 
these works are extremely unreliable. All what we 
can now say is that the Pandya kings maintained a 
Tamil academy or University at their metropolis 
from about B. C. 450 to about A. D. 550, and 
that it was subject to varying fortunes. When 
the Pandya country was invaded and tempor- 
arily occupied by the Kalabhras during the sixth cen- 
tury and when the religious struggle had already 
commenced, the last Sangam or college ceased to 
exist as a corporate body. From this time, the Jains 
had their own Sangams, which were more or less 
like the Jesuit seminaries of the middle ages ; and the 
Hindus had their own academy which might have been 
in existence during the early part of the eighth century. 
It was at this last Sangam that Perundevanar translated 
the Mahabharata and wrote his invocatory stanzas to 


the eight anthologies, and it was also at this college 
that the eighteen minor poems were collected. In the 
face of the above references to the Tamil Sangaros or 
academies throughout the ancient Tamil literature, it 
would be impossible to deny their existence in some 
form or other before the eighth century A. D. 

Having said so much for the history of the various 
Tamil academies, we shall now proceed to consider 
the amount of influence they exerted in giving shape- 
to the Tamil language and literature. 

The object with which the three academies were 
founded was threefold, namely, (1) the purification of 
the Tamil language by the writing of a grammar for it 
and by enforcing strict adherence to its rules, (2) the 
gradual introduction of Aryan civilisation in the 
Tamil country, and (3) the regulation of literary 
patronage so as to promote these ends. This task 
was first taken up by the Brahman sage Agastya, 
of course, under the guidance and patronage of the 
Pandya kings. With a view to carry out these plans 
the preliminary measures adopted were, first the 
assembling of a large body of literary men from 
different parts of the Tamil land ; secondly, the forma« 
tion of a literary academy with Agastya, the tradition- 
al priest of the Pandya family, as its president ; and 
thirdly, the promulgation of a royal mandate prohibi- 
ting the circulation of any literary production before it 
was approved by the academy. 

Language has life and growth, and when left to 
itself sprouts out into divers dialects like the branches- 



of a living tree. ' The bit and bridle of literature ' 
says Max Muller, ' will arrest a natural flow of 
language in the countless rivulets of its dialects, and 
give a permanency to certain formations of speech 
which, without these external influences, could have 
enjoyed but an ephemeral existence.' This linguistic 
principle was clearly understood and fully recognised 
by the founders of the Tamil academies. To secure, 
"therefore, permanency to the Tamil language the 
boundaries of the country where it was current were 
roughly described and the particular locality in which 
pure Tamil (Q5=/5^(^Lp)was spoken was sharply defined; 
then the form and pronunciation of letters were 
settled ; rules were laid down to distinguish pure 
Tamil words from those of foreign origin, and to 
determine the structure and combination of words in 
sentences. These and many other restrictions on the 
free grovvth of the language were dealt with in the first 
Tamil grammar. Treatises were written on prosody, 
rhetoric and pond (details of conduct in matters of 
Jove and warfare). Poetical dictionaries or nikhandus 
were compiled in order to give fixity to the form and 
-meaning of words in the language, and to check the 
indiscriminate and unlicensed introduction of alien 
words m the Tamil vocabulary. 

The canons of literary criticism were severe 
and were applied nnpartially. In this connection 
there is a tradition pertaining to Sittalai-Sattanar, 
"a noted member of the so-called third academy and 
author of the unrivalled epic Maniraekalai. When a 


new poem was recited by its author before the learned 
assembly, he used to strikeihis head with the butt-end 
of his iron stylus whenever he found a flaw in it. 
The wound thus caused by his constanf blows grew 
into a purulent sore. (He was on this account called 
Sittalai or ' pus-head' Sattanar). This wound, it is 
said, defied all curative treatment, but healed of it- 
self on hearing the Kural of Tiruvalluvar. 

p'^s,^^^^ ^rro^a^n^ ^p(^. 

In this way the Tamil language, which passed 
through the crucible of the three academies, was 
refined and given to the Tamil land as a perfect ins- 
trument for the expression of the best thoughts and 
sentiments of its people. The influence of these aca- 
demies is markedly seen in the Tamil writings which 
received their approval, their style and language arid 
choice of words differing much from that of the Tamil 
works of the post-academic period. The reader may 
compare with advantage the Purananuru or Pattu- 
pattu with the Tevaram or the Tiruvoymoli. 

For the advancement of literature and acade- 
mies the Tamil kings did much. Liberal pre- 
sents in the shape of money, elephants, palanquins, 
chariots with horses, lands and flowers of gold 
were bestowed upon deserving poets. Titles of dis- 
tmction like ^^ffltuir (doctor), Ljeosuir (pandit), «a9<?- 


ff-gi@s®)h^^ (emperor of poets), etc., were also con- 
ferred on them. Poets were honoured and respected 
to such a degree that even kings did not think it 
dishonourable to act as their palanquin bearers. To 
appease the wrath of a poet, a Pandya queen is said 
to have borne his palanquin one whole night in the 
disguise of a male carrier. Instances of the Tamil 
kings hontjuring poets, and of their indirectly encou- 
raging learning are only too many. One point, how- 
ever, might be noticed in this connection. The Tamil 
kings of Chera, Chola and Pandya were liberal 
patrons of Tamil literature. In the Tamil work 
entitled Padirruppattu, the poet Kannanar of Kun- 
nattur is said to have received, for having composed 
ten poems, a grant of five hundred villages and the 
revenues of the southern districts for thirty-eight 
years; the poet Kappiyanar obtained from the Chera 
king a gift of forty lakhs of pon (a gold coin 
valued at Rs. 2-8-0 each) for his ten poems ; and 
the poetess Nacchellai was given by another Chera 
monarch nine iulams (Tulam=600 Rs. weight) 
of gold for making jewels and one lakh of gold 
coins, besides the honour of a seat by his side. Such 
was the munificient patronage of poets by the Tamil 

A comparison of these ancient institutions of the 
Tamil people with the modern Royal Academy of the 
French will be interesting, since both of them were 
alike in their constitution, work and influence. The 
French Academy was established in A. D. 1635, that 


is nearly two thousand years after the first Tamil 
academy, and its members were fixed at forty. Its 
object was to cleanse the language of the 
impurities, which had crept into it through the 
common people who spoke it and * to render it 
pure, eloquent and capable of treating the 
arts and sciences.... It has done much by its 
example for style and has raised the general standard 
of writing, ..though it has tended to hr.mper and 
crush originality.' It has been remarked by a Danish 
scholar that academies of the kind described above 
operate as a check to the liberty of speech and gene- 
rally to national independence, and quotes as an 
example the absence of similar institutions among 
the liberty-loving British race. The same author 
continues as follows : — ' In England every writer 
is and has been free to take his words where he 
chooses, whether from the ordinary stock of every 
day words, from native dialects, from old authors, 
or from other languages, dead or living. The 
consequence has been that English dictionaries 
comprise a larger number of words than those of any 
other nation.' 

The above remarks of Dr. Jespersen apply with equal 
force to the Tamil people. In the Tamil language there 
are 34 synonyms for the word ' wind,' 50 for 'water,' 
35 for 'cloud', 62 for ' earth,' 60 for ' mountains ' 
&c, The ancient Tamils were a war-like race ; they 
h ad their war songs and lyrics. Though the blazing 
fire of independence and patriotism was put out by 


the magic influence of the peace-loving Brahmans of 
South India, the native bellicose spirit of the ancient 
Tamils makes its appearance at times among the pre- 
sent day Maravar, Kallar and Shanar tribes of the 
southern districts, though they have lost the grace 
and dignity of the; real warrior. The war-like Nayars 
of the west coast are also the descendants of ancient. 
Tamil clans. 

The Tamil dictionary is very copious and the num- 
ber of pure Tamil words in it exceeds that of any other 
Indian vernaculars. Synonyms are plentiful. Even 
slang terms acquired classical merit and were made 
use of in literature. We may illustrate this usage by 
a concrete example. Kamban, the prince of Tamil 
poets, coined the word tumi {^lAl) in his Ramayana 
to rhyme with timi (^uS). While reciting his work at- 
the royal court, Ottaikuttar, another poet of almost 
equal ability and younger contemporary, took objec- 
tion to its use and demanded his authority for its 
currency. Kamban replied that it was a cow-herd's 
slang; and Ottaikuthar required him to prove it.- 
Thereupon, Kamban invoked Sarasvati, the goddess 
of learning, who in the disguise of an Idaiya woman 
uttered the word Uwti in the sense of a 'drop' or 
'spray' from an apartment in a shepherd's house, so 
loudly as to be heard by the two poets when passing 
along the street. This story clearly shows that the 
coining of new words was never tolerated, though the. 
use of slang and obsolete terms was freely allowed. 

So far as the Tamil language was concerned, the; 


influence of the academies was mainly conservative ; 
but it never arrested the growth of the imagination 
or fancy of the Tamil race. On the contrary, it 
afiorded them unlicensed freedom to indulge even in 
what would appear to a moderner as hyperboles and 



* Padirruppattu ' or the ' Ten tens' is the fourth of 
the eight poetical anthologies, the collection and 
arrangement of which are attributed to the third 
academy. As implied by the name it had originally 
ten books, of which the first and the last are now 
lost. The remaining eight books were composed by 
eight different authors in commemoration of the 
military exploits, the liberality and other noble quali- 
ties of eight Chera kings of ancient times. It is said 
that the authors of these books were given enormous 
presents by these kings. Parts of this work might 
have been written, so early as the end of the second 
or the beginning of the third century ; and Chera 
was one of the Kodun-Tamil countries according 
to the early Tamil grammarians. The work under 
review is, therefore, a museum of obsolete words and 
expressions, archaic grammatical forms and termi- 
nations, and obscure customs and manners of the 
early western Tamil people who were the ancestors 
of the modern Malayalis. 


The second book which was written by Kannanar 
of Kunnattur is addressed to the Chera king Imaya 
Varman Nedum Seraladan. In the epilogue to this 
book we are informed that this king was the nephew 
of Udiyan by Venmal Nallini and Veliyan, that 
he engraved the 'bow' on the Himalayas and that he 
conquered and subdued the far-famed Aryans and the 
hard-tongued Yavanas (lohians). He was the uncle of 
Senguttuvan, a contemporary of Gajabahu I (169-191) 
of Ceylon. Regarding the Andhra king Viliyakura II 
(113-138 A. D.) Mr. V. A. Smith writes that ' he 
prided himself on his prowess in expelling the Sakas, 
Yavanas and Pahlavas from his dominions on the 
West-coast.' Further, it is said that ' the Scythians 
from the north raided southwards and there was 
war. In an inscription at Nasik the Andhra Gotami- 
putra is stated to have defeated the Sakas, Yavanas 
and Pahlavas, the Saka chief being the Kshatrapa 
Nahapana. This was about A. D. 125.' As Imaya 
Varman — a Chera king of the west coast and the 
uncle of Senguttuvan — also boasts of having fought 
with the Yavanas, there is every reason to 
believe that this king might have had a share in 
the expulsion of this Greek or Ionian people from 
Western India. These two kings were probably 
contemporaries, as Imaya Varman Nedum Serala- 
dan is stated to have reigned for fifty-eight years. 
Thus it will be seen that this Chera king and the 
Brahman poet Kannanar must have flourished during 
the first half of the second century A. D. 


The third book was composed by Palai Gautama- 
nar (the ^emi—i^u^ uxsBpQiua&sr of Ilango-adigal) 
in honour of the Chera king Palyanai Chelkezhu 
Kuttuvan,a younger brother of Imaya Varman. He 
was a pious king and renounced the world after a 
reign of 25 years. He is stated to have performed 
ten Yagas or sacrifices for the sake of Gautamanar, 
directed his purohit Nedura.Bharatayanar to become 
an ascetic, and to have given away his king, 
dom to his relatives. He is further said lo have 
decorated the temple of the family deity on the 
Ayirai l Hill. Gautamanar was a Brahman poet 
who is believed to have ascended the heaven with his 
consort after completing the tenth sacrifice. All these 
facts are also alluded to in the last book of Silappadi- 
karam. The Chera king Palyanaichelkezhu-Kuttu- 
van and the poet Gautamanar must, therefore, have 
lived during the latter half of the second century. 

Kappiyarru-Kappiyanar was the author of the fourth 
book, which is addressed to the Chera king Kalang- 
kaykkanni Narmudi Cheral. He was born to Serala- 
dan by the wife of Velavikkoman Padman. He 
conquered Puzhi- Nadu and defeated Nannan. He 
succeeded Cheral Adan and reigned for 25 years. 
The real name of the king is not known, and the one 
by which he is known is a nom-de-plume meaning 

1. This hill, now known as Aivar-malai, is near Aiyampalayam 
in the Palani taluk of the Madura district. On the summit of 
this hill there are many Jaina images and a temple containing ins- 
criptions of Varaguna Pandiya (A. D. 862). 


'one who wears a garland of aefnasmb and a crown of 
plantain fibre'. Nothing further is known at present 
about this king and the poet. 

The fifth book is a production of the famous poet 
Paranar ; and the hero of the poem is Senguttuvan» 
nephew of Nedum-Cheraladan by the Chola prince 
Manakkilli. This Chera king was a contemporary of 
Gajabahu I of Ceylon, of the Chola kings Uruva- 
Pahrer Ilamset Senni and Vel-Pahradakkai-Perunar- 
killi, and of the Pandya kings Nedu-Maran 
and Verri Vel-Seliyan. He was an ally of the 
Satakarnis of the Andhra dynasty, and with 
his assistance he defeated a confederacy of the 
Aryan chiefs — Kanaka, Vijaya and others — on the 
northern bank of the Ganges, and the nine rival 
princes of the Chola family at Nerivayil near 
Uraiyur and fought another at Viyalur with some 
unknown chief, and subdued Palayan of Mokur. He 
was the elder brother of Ilangko the reputed author 
of Silappadikaram and the hero of the third book of 
that famous work. 

Paranar has contributed some 72 stanzas to the 
other collected works of this period. In Tamil 
literature his name is found invariably connected with 
Kapilar, another renowned poet and contemporary. 
The question of the age of these poets will be 
considered later on, and it is enough for the 
present to say that Senguttuvan, the Chera king 
flourished between 150 and 225 A.D. His reign 
extended to fifty-five years. 


The sixth book consisting of over 210 lines was 
written by a woman named Kakkai-Patiniyar 
Nacchellaiyar in honour of the Chera king Adukot. 
pattu Cheral Adan. He was the nephew of Nedum 
Cheral Adan, by the wife of Velavikoman.and a liberal 
king who gave away cows and lands to Brahmans, 
and ruled his country justly from his capital at 
Tondi, the modern Kadalundi in the Malabar 
district. If he was a cousin brother of Senguttuvan 
noticed above he must have flourished during the 
first quarter of the third century A. D. He reigned 
for thirty-eight years. 

The seventh book, addressed to Selvakkadungo- 
Azhi-Adan, was composed by Kapilar. This Chera king 
was the nephew of Anduvan Cheran by Porayan and 
his wife Perundevi, daughter of Orutandai. He was 
a valiant king and pious devotee of Vishnu,for whose 
worship he granted the village of Okandur as devada- 
yam- He fought several battles and performed many 
sacrifices. He is believed to have reigned 25 years. 
Nothing further is known about this king except that 
he was a predecessor of Senguttuvan, and that he 
rrlust have flourished before A. D. 150. 

Kapilar was a Brahman of Tiruvadavur in the 
Pandya country. It is not known why he has not 
composed even a stanza in praise of any Pandya 
sovereign in whose dominion he was born. Perhaps 
he had migrated while young to the hill country and 
settled there, as all his extant poems are descriptive of 
upland scenery {(s/^(^^) and of hill kings and 


chiefs. Other poems attributed to this author are, 
— one book in Ainguru-nuru, Kurinjippattu, Inna 
Narpatu, besides some poems in Narrinai, Kurungkah, 
Agananuru and Purananuru. He did not errbrace 
any particular sect, as he worshipped all the puranic 
deities — Baladeva, Vishnu, Siva, Vinayaka, &c. It is 
not therefore safe to ascribe the authorship of certain 
sectarian poems on Siva or Mutta Nayanar to 
Kapilar. Further, there is much difference in the style 
and language of these two sets of poems (vide, p. 197). 
He has been extolled by his contemporaries and 
successors as one who never uttered a lie {Quadjiurrmrr 
eSpsSeom) and as one most upright in his conduct. 

The eighth was sung by one Arisilkizhar in praise of 
the Chera king Perum-Cheral-Irum-Porai. This king 
was a nephew of Selva-Kadumko the hero of Kapilar's 
book by the wife of Velavikkoman. He boasts of 
having overthrown Adigaman of Takadur, and defeat- 
ed the Pandya and Chola kings of his period near the 
KoUimalais. It is said that he was a contemporary 
of Ugra Pandya and that he reigned for seventeen 

The ninth and last book is a production of 
Perungunrur Kizhar, and it eulogizes the military 
achievements of the Chera king Ilam-Cheral-Irum 
Porai. He was the nephew of Irum-Porai noticed 
above, by Maiyur Kizhan and his wife Venmal 
Anduvan Sellai. He boasts of having defeated the 
Chola king Uruvap Pahrer Ilamchet Senni (father 
of Karikala) and Palayan Maran, a Pandya chief, 


and destroyed the five hill fortresses of Vicchi. It is 
said that he was a descendant of Mandaram Cheral 
Irumporai (ix. 8, 10) and of the kings who had thrown 
lances to cross the ocean and decorated the patron 
deity at Ayirai. The author Perumgunrur Kizhar was 
a contemporary of Kapilar and praises him in the fifth 
agaval of this book as follows : — 

a.ffl;'3sw«i,/r/r<5 seu'SeauSQesr (^& 

esTioweSjbum^uj iBs\)eSlsai^s atSeom'. 

We shall now consider en semble the dates of the 

Chera kings and of the famous poets Kapilar, Paranar, 

Palai Gautaraanar, Perumgunrur Kizhar and Arisil 

Kizhar. As may be gathered from the epilogues to this 

work the genealogies of the early Chera kings fall into 

two branches thus : — 

I. II. 

Udiyan Serai Adan Anduvan Serai Irumporai 

I I (A) vSelva-Kadunko-Ali 

(1) Imaya Varman (2) Palyanai Chelkelu Adan (r. 25 yrs.) 

alias. Kuttuvan [ 

Nedum Serai Adan (r. 58 yrs.) (B) Perum Serai Irum- 
I porai (r. 17 yrs.) 

1 \ \ i i 

(3) Kalankay- (5) Adukot- (i) Sengu- Ilango. (C) Ham Serai Irum- 
Kanni Nar~ pattu Serai tuvan porai (r. 16 yrs.) 

mudi Serai Adan (r. 55 yrs.) 

(r. 25 yrs) (r. 35 yrs.) 

by Padman Devi. ' by Manakkilli Devi. 
Of these the only king whose date has been definite- 
ly fixed is Senguttuvani (No. 4 in Table I, A. D. 

1. It is not our purpose to enter into the controversy whether the 
Gajabahu alluded to in the Silappadikaram was the first or the 
second king of that name, as this question has been already settled 
by other scholars. 


175-225) ; and the composition of Silappadikaram 
by his brother Ilango may, therefore, be placed 
between 200 and 225 A. D. In this work the exploits 
of the Chera kings Nos. 1, 2 and 3 in Table I, and of 
C in Table II are narratad (Book, xxviii, 11. 
135-148). Consequently all the kings referred to in 
the two genealogies must have been the predeces- 
sors of Senguttuvan. The poet Paranar has sung 
Senguttuvan (No. 4) and his maternal uncle 
Nedum Cheral Adan (No. 1) besides Uruva Paher, 
Ilamchet Senni of Pukar, father of Karikala Chola of 
Kaveripatam and Vel-Pahradakkai Perunar-Killi of 
Uraiyur. Summing up the duration of the various 
reigns from No. 1 to No. 4, as given in Table I, 
the period comes to more than a century, and this 
could not surely be the age of Paranar. It is 
therefore clear that the length of the reign of each 
king includes the period of their viceroyalty in some 
part of the Chera country before their accession to the 
Chera throne, and ihat almost all kings given in the 
two tables must have reigned between A. D. 125 and 

This, I believe, is the period of Kapilar, Paranar and 
other poets mentioned ■ above. It was the custom 
in these provinces as in the north, to appoint the sons 
of the reigning kings, especially the heirs apparent, as 
Viceroys of different provinces or Nadus under 
their sovereignty. As each of them styled himself a 
Chera, a Chola or a Pandya king, we have a number 
of such kings ruling at the same period ; and there 


were as many as nine Chola princes at Uraiyur durii 
the time of Senguttuvan ; and this is one of th 
stumbling blocks in fixing the genealogy of the Tamil 
kings. Further, this difficulty is enhanced in the 
case of the Chera kings on account of the Marumak- 
katayam law of inheritance, which had been then as 
now in vogue in the Malabar coast ; and it has 
become a hopeless task to determine their relation- 
ship on account of the temporary unions of the 
patriarchal and matriarchal royal families of the Pand- 
yas, Cholas and Cheras. It was one of the causes for 
constant wars between them, and for the eventual 
separation of the Cheras from the other Tamil 

The genealogy of the Chera kings of this period 
given by Mr. Kanakasabhai in his Tamils 1800 years 
ago is as follows : — 

Athan I (40—55). 

Athan II, m. Sonai, daughter 

of Kankala Chola (55-90) 

I I 

Senguttuvan (90 — 125) Ilango. 

Yanaikkatchey (125—135)- 

Perumcheral Irumporai (135 — 150). 

It will be seen that this table does not tally with our 
own, and it is not possible to say on what authority 
he has based it. But at any rate it is evident that he 
has forgotten the fact that succession in the Kerala. 


jntry was according to Marumakkatayam law. 
;'iis Senguttuvan was not the son of Athan II and the 
^hola princess Sonai as he has given; but he was the 
nephew of Athan as the following lines will show: — 

Q^fiTmesr LDosarsSeirbyfl uS&sr p Losear 

» * * * 

«L_6k) lS paQsaiLisf-uj Qs=ia(^LL'il(oiJGsr 

On the other hand, the Silappadikaram informs us 
that Senguttavan was the son of Seraladan by a Chola 
princess — Q^uedtt ^p^a^ Qs^aLp^ m^s^i^ peauDii^ ear Qa^ia 
(gtl®euair. And elsewhere in the same work the Chola 
king Valavankilli is spoken of as the brother-in-law 
of Senguttuvan — rSsisrstOLD^^earmajen-eu^Seirerft. I am 

inclined to believe that the word los&r in the first 
quotation from Silappadikaram should be oiasoT-, as 
otherwise the parentage given to some of the Chera 
kings in the Padirruppattu must all be false, which is 

In the Tamil country the Aryan Brahmans had 
already settled in small numbers. They were 
patronized by kings with grants of land. Some of 
them were engaged as purohits or priests,while others 
occupied themselves in teaching the Aryan religion 
and philosophy to the Tamils. The Tamil poets Kapi- 
lar and Palai-Gautamanar were Brahmans. There 
were also poetesses like Nacchellaiyar ; and educa- 
tion of women was not neglected in those days. 
Besides poets of both sexes among Brahmans and 
Vellalas, there was a low class of minstrels called 



Panans (female Patini), who lived by begging, and 
whose duty it was to recite songs before kings and 
chiefs. They were rewarded with elephants, chariots 
and garlands of golden flowers. And they used to 
accompany kings to battles and visit camps in the 
hope of sharing with the victorious soldiers the 
booties taken in wars. 

Rice, sugar and ginger, varagu, kollu and tinai, 
cocoanut and palmyra were largely cultivated. Meat 
was eaten by all classes, not excepting even Brah- 
mans, and the drinking of liquor was very common. 
Soldiers used to wear garlands of ginger and flowers in 
order to eat that pungent root at intervals while 
quaffing liquor (v. 2). Rice cooked with flesh was 
the favourite viand of soldiers. They observed 
feasts when they returned after success in wars, or on 
the birthday of kings, and fasts on full-moon days 
(vi. 1). The Brahmans performed Yagas or sacrifices 
for the benefit of kings. The God Vishnu at Tri. 
vandrum was worshipped by all people of higher 
castes (iv. i\ Females, especially the class called 
eSlp&SiuiT, were in the habit of tying their locks of hair 
divided into five knots like the Toda women of 
modern time (ii. 8). Compare with this the following 
extracts from Kalittcgai which gives a graphic des- 
cription of the coiffure in vogue among the Dravi. 
dian Tamil woman of antiquity. 

(1) 6Too©<srot_ Q^itlLl^ smrdsaSesr Qu p pssiOJLOUrr&d, 

(2) ^^iTS QiBfiS^^<s5r(oQr ei]p&)eSa i'Ssfrihuir 
eiesafi iBeas uSss)u.uSlLi-. e^eastviEJsemesdl. 


Kalangu or the seeds of (guilandina bonduce) were 
Tjsed for counting (iv. 2). They believed in omens 
and auguries, the withering of leaves in the silk- 
cotton tree being considered an evil foreboding 
(iv.lO). They believed in astrology and in the appea- 
rance of eleven suns to dry up the universal deluge 
(vii.2). Chastity was considered the highest virtue 
and sign of 'learning' in women and they believed in 
the story of QTihiSm or arundhati. Among the 
Tamils the ordinary custom was the burial of dead 
bodies (v. 4). They used to be kept in big pots and 
buried under Vahni (Prosopis spicigera) trees. 

Feudalism was prevalent. The Tamil kings and 
their governors of provinces were constantly at 
war. Each was bent upon subduing the other 
and becoming the overlord. Thus, at the battle 
of Nerivayil near Uraiyur as many as nine 
Chola princes were defeated by Senguttuvan, 
the Chera king. A part of the Chera country, called 
the Puzhi Nadu was conquered and lost alternately 
by the Cheras and Pandyas. These chiefs had 
small forts with deep ditches surrounded with forests, 
one tree among which — like the sluJoli (Eugenia race- 
mosa) of Nannan and the Qqjldlj (Azadirachta indica) 
of Palayan — was considered sacred to the ruler. This 
was one of the vestiges of the Australian totemism. 
In war the first business of an enemy was to cut 
down such sacred trees and to make war drums 
out of the wood, to burn the villages, to plunder 


their cattle and to destroy their moats and ditches 
with elephants. When a fort was besieged by an 
enemy, the men in the fort used to fight even 
without taking food and write the number of days 
thus passed on the fort-walls (vii.8). The battlements 
were filled with bows and arrows, swords, anklets 
and wreaths of green leaves (vi. 3) ; the two last 
(worn by women) for distribution among the coward 
soldiers as marks of shame. It was also the 
custom to pour oil on the head of the van- 
quished leader and to drag him by both hands from 
behind. The victorious kings and soldiers used to 
dance with raised swords on the field of battle (vi. 6) 
and then give grand feasts to their men when the 
severed heads and bodies of the departed heroes lay 
strewn around them. This was seirQ^umeS (camp 
feast) and ^smiimsss;^^^ (war dance). They 
knew something of surgery and used to stitch 
the wounds received in battles with needles 
called Nettai or Q«® Qeu&r^Q (v. 2). Thev had their 
ov^n military rules of discipline, and always prefer- 
red winter for military operations (ix. 2). Plunder 
was not their sole object, but a desire tor power and 
authority actuated the Tamil kings to carry on wars 
with the neighbouring chiefs. Naval fights too were 
not unknown to them. 

The standard authority on grammar for this 
period was Tolkapyam. The following peculiarities 
may be found in the work under consideration. The 
plural of high caste nouns had, /f, while the neuter 


nouns had no plural at all. The termination, s^, 
was not in use then though Tolkapyar mentions 
it in his grammar. In the matter of gender, neuters 
like ^iasu, (?q;/5jp, ^st, ■srjbpuDj &c., were mostly 
in use, though masculine and feminine nouns like 
QtBi^Qiurresr and ^tftiueir are met with occasionally. The 
post-position for all the six cases was ^sin- or '§!&), but (5 
for the dative and jy for the genitive were also used. 
In QuirmssB^esTmeWy S^esBpp^fi, iii(T^ui3ssiuj!T'2esT and 
©6\)ti)Ly/r)jj;@«-a) we find @oir stands for 2nd, 3rd, 6th and 
7th cases; and in the phrase L3u^(U(^mgiJ the termination 
=gy is a genitive particle.The formation of verbal-nouns 
as in Q^n-soiu. from Q^rr® to attach, in ^Tsu&i from ^/r to 
suffer, in usssfli^ from uesS to bow, in ld&}iti-j from ld&iit 
to blossom,in jy'PuL/from =gy® to kill, in Quinuuui from 
Qu7iu to utter a lie, in jugVLj (separation) from j>i^ to 
cut, in 67^ from sti£I to beat or throw, in ueap from 
up to fly, in ^sap from ^^ to tarrv, and in uT/foysu 
from ufTiT to see ; of personal nouns in /5/f from 
verbs ^t {^(J^^it), usit (u^/f/B/f), jij .a and jy/fl {^rftsir}; con- 
crete nouns from verbs ^■^ — ^Pf^, Qsjot — Q^tremis. 
(booty), jij3)i<ss)eu (piece of cloth), // sSp (powder) 
.■f j2/, ^jj/) ; and of abstract nouns from verbs as supiM 
{dryness*, otpso, Qeueusufr^ &c., are all now obsolete. 
Present tense was not in use at this period, the only 
tenses which were frequently used are the past and 
future. The particles or signs of past tense much in 
use were c/ and ^ ; and those of the future were 

€i\iM, <S(5, u and l/ Q.f0st}> (we will go) ^iri(^, ^0U, 

urrQuj might be taken as examples. Causative verbs 


like e^Qpd^ (to cause to behave); infinitives in fFiuir as 
in ^iP^LuiT (to give), imperatives in Qmir as in Q^mQinfr 
and uSm as in 'S-<^L£lm have all gone out of use along 
with 0)607, Qsiresr, Qu sr and lomp which were the 
adverbs of quality greatly used by the early Tamil 

As in most works of this period the metre used 
here is agaval. 

Tolkapyar and Pavanandi have provided rules for 
the going out of the old and the coming in of new 
forms and words, so long as the language continues 
to have life and growth. Ignoring this important 
principle Tamil poets of all ages have slavishly adopt- 
ed obsolete terms and expressions in their composi- 
tions. This is the chief cause for the great differ- 
ence between the language of poetry and the 
colloquial dialect. We are not concerned here with 
the obsolete words and forms as they have been 
fully explained by the old commentators and in the 
glossaries appended to those classical works. We 
give below only such words as are current now but 
have undergone change in meaning by the influence 
of the psychological principles of contiguity,, 
resemblance and contrast. ^® meant ' victory ' 
from ^® to kill, now it means a ' sheep 'or 'an 
animal that frisks' ; (josarq meant 'strength' and now 
it means 'front'; a»u@(G^aja) meant the 'people', now it 
means the 'green or fertile land;' ^ar^^&) meant 
'thinking', now restricted only to 'measuring' ; ^®ul^ 
meant 'withering or dying,' now it means 'that in 


which anything is cooked', hence an 'oven' ; euirt^ieias 
meant 'property', now it means 'living' \QiuiTmi meant 
'iron', hence any useful metal, but now restricted to 
'gold '; seif^sii meant also a 'pig', now only an 'elephant' ; 
L/sa) meant 'justice' rsQsiirS'ietxsio.D, now only 'mid-day'; 
8Lfi3(^ meant a ' pit ' or a low groui id from Si^ ' below' 
and (^ the particle of direction, now it means the 'east/ 
which was believed by the early Tarailians as the 
low-lying land in reference to the Western Ghats ; 
Qsn® meant 'cruelty' or 'that which was bent' and now, 
it means a 'branch' of a tree; s/bi-i meant ' learning ' 
{s&)^i) and it is now restricted to ' chastity '; ^i-ij> in 
ussSli—LD meant time, as no distinction was made by 
the early Tamils between time (Skt. sireouo) and space 
(@t_ii)) or they had no term to express the notion of 
time; e^i^ meant to 'spoil or injure' generally, now it 
means 'to break or cut in twain' like a stick ; cSsmL^ULf 
meant 'death', now 'living' the opposite of it; Qetirnsoas 
meant ' wealth,' or that which is 'liked', and now 
it means 'hatred '; jifioseo meant 'staying or tarrying' 
now 'leaving'; ^gui^ and ^^esioj (from ^ ^/b- to cut) 
meant 'separation' and 'a piece of cloth', both of 
which are now obsolete, the latter word being ousted 
by another ^essR of similar origin; ^rreueo meant 
'begging', and it is no longer used in that meaning; 
Qs=Lju is a very old word common to Tamil and 
Telugu, but it has become classical in Tamil and 
colloquial in Telugu. 

1. In Kanarese the name for 'iron' is 'Kabbonnu' or ' Karum- 
ponnu', which means the 'black gold.' 


The authors of this collection have used Sanskrit 
derivatives (tadbhavas) very sparingly, and even these 
relate either to religion or mythology. They are 
^Q/,^ (sacrifice), usS (offering), mi^jih (spell), sireoar 
(god of death), utTsuD or us^n^ih (devil), ^/tlc (garland), 
^(T-®^ (purification), jyai/6?Rjr/f (Rakshas or demons), and 
^iftiuiT (Aryas). Thus in a work of about 1,800 lines only 
a dozen words of Sanskrit origin are to be found, and 
it speaks of the purity of the Tamil language. It can 
exist without the least help from foreign languages, 
as it had and even now has sufficient elementary 
words of native origin, out of which compounds can, 
with a little attention to phonetic principles, be 
formed to express modern thoughts and ideas. 



The study of the azhvars or Vishnuvite saints is 
beset with several difficulties. On the one hand, 
religious fanatics have gathered together a mass of 
legendary and superstitious accounts, often of a con- 
flicting and sometimes of an incredible nature ; on 
the other, the European critics, perhaps aided 
by the sectarian opponents from the fold of the Sai- 
vas who form the major portion of the Tamils, have 
done much to belittle the extent of their influence 
and the results of their work among the Tamil popu- 
lation. Foremost amongst them was Bishop Caldwell, 
whose opinion always carries that weight ana autho- 
rity which a life-long and sincere devotion to the 
study of South Indian problems has secured for him. 
But whatever claim to infallibility his conclusions 
on matters of language may carry with it, il is but 
natural that his inferences regarding social and 
religious movements should be biassed by his mis- 
sionary leanings. In the following chapter an 


attempt will be made to study the religious activities 
of the Vishnuvite Alvars from a purely historical 
stand-point, and special care will be taken to sub- 
stantiate statements from the literary, epigraphical 
and other evidences. 

All over the contment of India Vishnu has been 
worshipped in some form or other; but mostly in his 
two latest incarnations as Rama and Krishna. He is 
an Aryan deity transplanted into the Dravidian soil by 
successive bands of Aryan settlers, and it would there- 
fore be highly interesting to give at the beginning a 
brief outline of the origin and development of this cult 
in the land of its origin. The mam reasons for pre- 
facing this essay with such a resume are, (1) to com- 
pare its growth both in the Aryavarta and in the land 
of the Tamils, and (2) to guard ourselves in the course 
of the ensuing discussion against certain misapprehen- 
sions that might be raised by the orthodox traditions 
of the Tamil Vaishnavas. 

History of religions in India tells us that 
the worship of Vishnu is as old as the Vedas, 
and that the doctrines of this sect had already 
passed through at least two stages — ^the Vedic 
and the Puranic — before they attained the present 
form. During the Vedic period the religion of the 
Indo-Aryans consisted in the adoration of the elemen- 
tal gods like Indra, Varuna, Agni and Marut, and in 
the offering of sacrifices to Agni or the lire-god. 
Vishnu was then a solar deity *and held an inferior 
position as a fiiend or comrade of Lndra. This epoch 


was immediately followed by the rise of Buddhism 
and Jainism, which greatly influenced or modified the 
succeeding period of Puranic Hinduism, when the 
elemental gods of the Vedic period had come to 
occupy an inferior position, the foremost rank having 
been taken up by Brahma, Vishnu and Siva, which 
were believed to be the triple forms of the Supreme 
Being. And to popularize this triad three classes of 
Puranas araountmg to eighteen m all were written by 
the Brahman sages. They narrate all sorts of 
legends connected with each of the above 
three deities. Each Purana is devoted to the praise 
of One or another of these gods who is spoken of in 
that work as supreme, whilst other deities described in 
other Puranas are slighted and their worship even 
forbidden. They also prescribe rules for the worship of 
gods by means of prayers, offerings, festivals, and 
pilgrimages. The date of the oldest of these Puranas, 
probably Vayu- Purana, is believed to be from about 
320 A. D. and the latest to be of the eleventh century. 
It was during this period that idol-worship and the 
building of temples for images were substituted for 
the Vedic sacrifices, which latter, however continue 
to this day in a feeble form among the Brahmanical: 
rites. This change is ordmarily attributed to the 
overwhelming influence of Buddhism and Jainism, 
which at this period were in a state of decline and 
their humane but heretical doctrines had ultimately 
degenerated into mere idol-worship. 

In ancient times the Dravidian Tamils were a 


fighting race. From Purananuru,Kalittogai, Padirrup- 
pattu and other collected works of the early 
Sangams (academies) we further learn that great 
honour was done to brave men as is shown by a 
number of memorial stones or Virakkals still to be 
seen in some Tamil villages erected to commemorate 
their heroic deaths. The expressions like ^^sjS ^ir&srp 
QjiuajiT, sir(ir,9 s^am pQs^Q^, etc. bear testimony to the 
martial spirit of the early Tamils. When a king died 
of sickness without losing his life in battle his body 
used to be laid on a bed of kusa grass and split up 
with a sword believing that men who died as 
warriors could go to heaven. Heroes who died in 
battle were buried on the road-side and tomb stones 
were set up with suitable inscriptions describing the 
names and the military achievements of these persons. 
Offerings of flower, cooked rice and liquor were 
also made by iheir relations and friends. Perhaps 
small temples were also erected over the sepulchres 
and worshipped, h'ulan, Katteri, Nondi, Karuppan 
and other deities which now form the objects of 
worship by low caste Sudras and Paraiyas belong 
probably to this category. Thus, the religion of the 
ancient Tamils consisted mainly in spirit worship 
and in the drinking and offering of liquor. They ate 
all kinds of meat, including even beef, and mdulged 
in alcoholic drinks. 

According to Tolkapyar, the earliest Tamil gram- 
marian, even gods were classified according to the 
mature of the soil. Thus, Indra was the god of fertile 


and, LDj^jsti) ; Murugan of the hills, (^13(^9 ; Durga of 
the desert, u/t-^sw ; Vasudeva of pasture land, (josu^so ; 
and Varuna of the sea-coast, QiiL^io. It must be 
remembered that all these deities belong to the Aryan 
pantheon, nay. the first and the last were purely 
Vedic ^ods. The only god who might be called 
Dravidian was Muruga, as he was almost unknown 
under ihat appellation to the people of North India. 
Traces of this traditional classification migt?t still 
be found in some caste names like Devendra Pallan, 
Varunakulam (fishermen) and Vasudevakulam 
(shepherds). Such was in brief the condition of 
religion among the Dravidians when the early bands 
of Aryan immigrants settled in the Tamil country. 

Having ^aid something about the state of religion 
among the Tamilians in the remote period, we shall 
now proceed to notice the changes that were brought 
about by their contact with the Aryans. The mate- 
rials for this section will be drawn chiefly from the 
Tamil works of the Sangam period, (A. D. 150 — 550) 
and from the inscriptions published up to date. 

The earliest Tamil author whose date could be 
ascertained approximately was Tiruvalluvar. He 
flourished probably about the end of the first century 
A. D. and in his Kural we find no traces of his predi- 
lection to any particular sect or religion. He 
was no doubt a monotheist and he is now 
claimed both by the Jains and the Saivas as their 
savant. He is even worshipped by the Saivas of to- 
day as one of their saints or Nayanars. We shall 


next take Kapilar. He was a Brahman of Tiruvadavur 
in the Madura district and Hved probably during the 
early part of the second century. Among his writ- 
ings we find poems in praise of Tirumal (Vishnu), 
Baladeva, Murugan (Subrahmanya) and Siva. With 
due difference to the profound scholarship of 
Mahamahopadhyaya Swaminatha Aiyar and of the 
older commentators we are of opinion that none of 
the Saiva poems included in the eleventh Tirumurai, 
with the single exception of Tirumurugarruppadi, 
were written by Kapilar, Paranar and Nakkirar of the 
academic period. Though a Vedic deity Indra was 
also worshipped at this time. From Silappadikaram 
and Manimekalai we learn that annual festivals were 
also celebrated in honour of this god. 

(1) (sSlesaressT^iT ^'^su'BeaT e^Qpii ittlLu^u , 
i3psiirr ujrTS(oS)iU QurftCoajfreisr QaofTuS&s 

LDgfiQpS'f QfQjQev aressfi^si^ QstTuS^m 
eurreoaj'Serr Qldsi^ aa/zxaflG'aj/raar QsnuSl^ 
Se\) (oLOSsft Q'Si^QiLifTesr QsmiS^m. — Sil. 

(2) eu-f&iT^ ^i—i(ssis Qmi^QujiT&si (d%ituS^lL 
Qunnungui QpufikisptBis. — Pur. • 

Another celebrity of the later Sangam period, Nak- 
kirar, informs us that during his time four gods of 
the Aryan pantheon were considered as holding the 
foremost rank among the South Indian deities. 
(Sj pg^Qjeo ^ujrfliu QeufiSiDQ^ eireiSiTfeiBL- 
LDirjbp0iEl sessB^f^ LDessfluSt—jb Q^'^iii 
Q^ireon (ssoeSlsaf iBireOSu (r^eir(ei^ih. — -Pur. 56, 


They were Siva, Vishnu, Balarama ind Muruga. 
In his later life, however, this writer became a Saiva 
and composed a poem in praise of Murugan, for 
which he was canonized as one of the Saints of the 
Saiva sect. 

This was probably a period of eclecticism, since 
the Vedic and the Puranic gods had not yet been 
subjected to the process of separation, but were in a 
nebulous form. Besides the four gods mentioned 
above the Vedic deities India, Yama, Varuna, Soma, 
Aditya, Rudra, Vasu and Marut had been adored or 
respected even at that time by the Aryan immigrants. 
iMakkirar tells us that the first four were 'great gods' 
{mjbQuQ^iB Q^Lueuua), while the rest were divided into 
thirty-three deities as follows — Aditya, 12; Rudra, 11; 
Vasu, 8 ; and Marut, 2. These were subsequently 
increased to thirty-three crores during the Puranic 

iBfTeoQeiJSii (0^0)0 (Beo^^i^ &pui3n) 
urreoQojsu Q^eu(j^ lduu^ ui—itis^. — Mani. 

Greater attention was also paid to sacrifices both 
by the Brahmans and kings, the latter chiefly provid- 
ing funds for their performance, as they had believed 
that the prosperity of the country depended mainly 
on such sacrifices. The following quotations will 
bear testimony to the prevalence of this belief: — 

(1) rSjiB^ uuis^sm iTQ^tsiSL^ eirft^S'^ 
Qp^^ eiS<sfrd(^, — Pur. 


(2) Qeu&reiS QpptB'jj &jrrujajfreir Qeuik^. — Pur. 

(3) SiTisnesgr Qisujeiii^iE}@LLi jQicemi^ssarLj usvCsulISu). — Ib^ 

(4) S-i5aiff<^iT60 Q&ieireS Qpuf.^^ Qa&rsS. — Pad. 
v(5) uji^eoBriT Qsi^eSKSstLQu LJi^eu QiMrru^iuiT^ 

QeuareS QeuLLiJ2esT lb. 

The above is a brief account of Brahmanism in 
the Tamil country as it existed and was known to 
the authors of the Purananuru and other classics of the 
pre-Puranic period. And an outline of the Puranic 
Hinduism which follows will clearly show that none 
of the Saiva Nayanars or Vaishnava Alvars ever held 
the religious v'iews explained in the above works. 
This one fact will in itself suffice to prove that both 
the Saiva and Vaishnava Saints, probably with the 
exception of one or two, flourished only during the 
Puranic period, viz., after A. D. 500. 

The essential features of the early Puranic period 
were the setting up of idols and the construction of 
temples for them. The Tamil kings of this period — 
chiefly the Pallavas, the Cholas and the Pandyas — 
whose purohits or|spiritual advisers were Brahmans, 
were imbued with devotion to Vishnu or Siva. It 
appears that Brahma had no votaries, as his name 
scarcely occurs in the academic works. Later on, 
however, he was united with Siva and Vishnu to make 
up the triad; and Indra and Baladeva were ousted 
from the Hindu pantheon. Still Brahma has been 
occasionally referred to in both the Saiva and Vaish- 
nava hymns, though he had no temples to reside in like 
his friends Siva and Vishnu; and even now he has only 


one temple in all India, and this is at Pushkaram in 
Ajmei". Vishnu and Siva alone were honoured with 
shrines, were regularly worshipped, and were given 
offerings three or four times a day. To propitiate 
them people observed fasts and held festivals. Be- 
fore the sixth century A. D. there were, however* 
only very few templesi dedicated to these deities and 
Muruga, as the following extracts from Pattuppattu, 
Padirrupattu, Purananuru, and Silappadikaram will 
show : — 

(1) Lj&refressH iimQant^^ Q^eveu^LD Qsu&rQeir^ 
QpQswtS&sr QpQ^iQuu (ip!T6eETL^^ Qfeoeu^ 
^ p^uu^ ^Q.iSuj /5(T/_li_^jij ^^ueO 

(2) seatsiQuiTQT) ^Slffls SLDy?(^{rjb giitpir^ 
ine\)Ei3jh Qs^e^JSuasT Qs=SiJL^ utrsS. — Pad, 

(3) QpdscL Qs^evsuiT tssirojeOt^ Qs=ujjb(^. — Puf. 

(4) eSrfl^ssiad sfreSifJ eSlujiohQuQTfi ^(tfjSi^ 

^Q^QJLDIT LDrJlfu<5Sr @L^k^ Q}0SS! 6SSI (LplJb 

^0LDrr6\} (^m psi^ff- 0<f6i)(g eSlirnQeo 

G)LiiTp0'LDes)n'Si ^fT(^<sn<sfTti> Qurr0is^ iSlm. — Sil. 
1. Srirangam, Tiruppati and Tirumal-kunram (Kalla Alagar^ 
appear to have been the oldest and most famous of the Vaishnava 
temples in the Tamil country. The famous temple of Varadaraja at 
Conjeevaram is not sung by any Vishnuvite Saint, as it is one 
of modern origin like those at Mannargudi and Melkota. 


Temple building on a large scale was begun during 
the second half of the sixth and early part of the 
seventh centuries by Kocchengat Chola, Sundara 
Pandya Deva and Mahendra Varraa Pallava. They 
tolerated all sects and religions — Saiva and Vaishnava, 
Jainn and Buddha — the last of which, however, was 
then on the decline at least in the extreme south. 
Though nominally worshippmg any one of these 
gods, the kings were in the habit of invoking the 
triad in their grants. In the same family the father 
might be a Saiva whilst his son professed Vishnuism 
or very rarely even Jainism. Thus the Cheia king 
Senguttuvan (about A. D. 250) was a worshipper of 
Siva and Vishnu, while his younger brother was a 
Jaina ascetic ; the Saiva saint Tirunavukkarasu- 
Nayanar was a Jain in his early days while his sister 
Tilakavati was a Saiva devotee ; and the Pallava king 
Simha Vishnu (A. D. 590) was a staunch worshipper 
of Vishnu, whilst his son Mahendra Varman was first 
a Jama and then an orthodox Saiva. It is no 
wonder, therefore, that when Hwen Tsang visited 
Conjeevaram in A. D. 640 there were in that city 100 
Buddhist monasteries, with about 10,000 Brethren 
and about 80 temples the majority of which belonged 
to the Digambara Jains. And he goes on to say 
that in Molokuta (probably the Pandya territory) 
the people were ot mixed religions. There were many 
remains of old monasteries, very few being in preser- 
vation. ' There were hundreds of Deva temples 
and the professed adherents of various sects, especi- 


ally the Digambaias, were numerous'-i Wr see 
then, at the early half of the seventh century that 
Buddhism was in its decline, and the sects of Siva 
Vishnu and Jain were fighting with one another for 
ascendancy. The later history of the Saiva and the 
Jaina cults will be dealt with in the second volume. 
As the subject matter for our immediate considera- 
tion is the development of Vishnuism we shall for the 
present part company with our Saiva and Jaina 

For the separation of the Vaishnava cult and its 
development into a distinct sect in tlie Tamil country 
the Alvars were mainly instrumental. They were the 
Hrst to hymn the praises of Vishnu and to propagate 
His worship. It might be gathered from their hymns 
that allusions and reierencesto the miraculous deeds 
of Rama, Krishna and other incarnations of 
Vishnu were drawn largely from the two great epics — 
the Ramayana and the Mahabharata — and from the 
Bhagavata and Vishnu Puranas. Their hymns were 
collected, arranged and compiled by Sri Nathamuni, 
probably under the editorship of Nammalvar into a 
single volume called the * Nalayira-Prabandam', or 
the ' Book of 4000 hymns ', about the middle of the 
tenth century A.D. Among the Tamil Vaishnavas 
(especially the Tengalais) this collection of Tamil 
poems is being regarded as sacred as the Sanskrit 
Vedas. Why this work has come to be esteemed 
so we cannot conceive. It is neither a translation of 

1. Walters' Hvven Tsang, Vol. II, p. 228. 


the holy Vedas of the Indo-Aryans, nor is it an 
exposition of their contents, rather than of the two 
great epics and the Puranas ; and what is more 
surprising is that the four kinds of poetical com- 
positions or prahmidas of Nammalvar and the six 
varieties of Tirumangai-alvar's work are spoken 
of by the Vaishnava Acharyas as the counterparts- 
of the four Sanskrit Vedas and their six Vedangas. 
This theory might appear false when it could 
be proved that Nammalvar hved two centuries 
after Kaliyan. The Devara hymns which constitute 
a more voluminous collection of the non-Brahman 
Saivas are not so much valued by the Smartha Brah- 
mans of the Tamil districts. i This disparity m the 
estimation of the two Tamil works of exactly similar 
nature was probably due to the anxiety of the early 
Acharyas to I make the religion of Vishnu more popu- 
lar among the Dravidians, most of whom were 
followers of Siva. 

The collection of^ hymns and religious poems by 
Appar, Sambandar, Sundarar, Manikka Vachakar and 
other Saiva devoteesand their compilation into eleven 
tirumiirais or series are usually ascribed to Nambi- 
yandar Nambi. In|the ninth book entitled the Tiru- 
visaippa we find a hymn composed by Gandaraditya 

1. Concerning this the Government Epigraphist writes as 
follows: — " Ihe Saiva creed. ..does not appear to have paid much 
attention to Sastric karma, but taking unsullied devotion to Siva as 
its basis, it received into its fold all classes of people without any 
distinction of caste. This catholicity of the Saiva faith rendered 
it not very popular^ with the orthodox Brat'mans". 


Chola (A. D. 948-960) and another on the god ot 
Raja Chola's shrine at Tanjore which was built to- 
wards the close of the tenth century, while a 
third by Karuvur Devar refers to a temple built by 
Gangaikonda Chola in or about 1015 A. D. If the 
above tradition be trusted Nambiyandar Nambi 
should have lived about 1025. As it is said that 
the Periyapurana of Sekkilar is based upon one of 
the poems ot Nambiyandar Nambi (^(5^3^/7 63ar/_'f 
^Q^euissiT^), Sekkilar should have been either his con- 
temporary or his successor. He was a minister under 
a Chola king and had the title of Uttama Chola 
Pallavarayan conferred on him as a personal mark of 
otttcial distinction. Inscriptions inform us that the 
term Uttama was the name of Rajaraja's predecessor 
(A. D. 970-985) and one of the hirndus of his succes- 
sor Kajendra I. (A. D. 1012). Several shrines are 
said to have been built by the first Uttama Chola and 
by his mother Sembiyan Mahadevi (queen of Ganda- 
raditya). But it is said that the Periyapurana was 
written under the patronage of a Chola king named 
Anapaya, which, it is understood from an inscription 
in the Tiruvalur temple, was the title of Kulottunga 
Chola (A. D. 1070— 11 18). Taking then the reign of 
Kulottunga Chola as the latest limit, it might be said 
with tolerable certainty that the Saiva poets Nambi- 
yandar Nambi and Sekkilari flourished between 
1. It will not be out of place to mention here that Chintamani, a 
Jaina work widely studied during the time of Sekkilar may have 
been written by Tuuittakka Deva about the middle of the tenth 
century A. D. 


A. D. 1000 and A. D. 1150, a period which bad 
immediately followed one of great Saiva activity 
(A.D. 950—990). Sri Natha Muni of the rival Vaishnava 
sect was also a contemporary of the Saiva poet and 
compiler, Nambiyandar Nambi, as will be showm in 
the sequel, and he should have been inspired by the 
Saiva revival of his time to render a similar service 
to his sect. And the above conclusions seem to receive 
support from the following statement of the Govern- 
ment epigraphist : — ' We do not know of any epi- 
graphic evidence earlier than the records of Rajaraja I 
where the recital of the sacred Saiva hymns of the 
Devaram are {sic) referred to for the first time as being 
instituted by him. Rajendra Chola I appears to have 
supported the cause of Saivaism by going a step fur- 
ther than his father and setting up the images of the 
famous Saiva vSaints in the temple of Rajarajesvaram 
at Tanjore.'i It is therefore pretty clear that the 
practice of setting up images of the Vaishnava Saints 
in Vishnu temples might have come into existence 
some time after A. D. 1025. 

The Alvars, who were elevated by the Vaishnava 
Acharyas to the rank of canonized Saints, are twelve in 
number; and they are being worshipped by them with 
greater devotion than they would adore their god 
Vishnu himself. Strictly speaking, the Alvars were 
only ten, Andal and Madhiirakavi being left out of 

1. Report dated 28th July 1900, page 103. Even before the 29th 
year of Rajarajachola images of Sundara, Sambandar, Rajarajachola 
and his queen Lokamahadevi were set up in the Tanjore temple. 


account. From an inscription in the Vishnu temple 
at Kumaralingam (Madura district), it will be seen 
that all the ten were canonized and wor- 
shipped as early as A D. 1230. And for making 
offerings to the images of these saints set up in 
the temple of Kalla Alagar at Tirumalirum Solai in 
Kil-lraniya Mutta Nadu lands w-ere granted by a 
certain devotee in the reign of Virarajendra Deva 
(S. S. 1153). 1 The word alvar medns 'one deep in 
wisdom/ and any Alvai is, therefore, respected as a 
mediator to secure Moksha or salvation for the wor- 
shippers of Vishnu. The following table gives the 
names of the Alvars. the extent of their contributions 
to the Nalayira Prabandam, their birth place and 
the number of Vishnu shrines celebrated by them : — 


'1 Poigaiyar 100 Conjeeveram 7 

2 Pudaltar 100 Mahabalipuram 14 

3 Peyar 100 Mylapoie 13 

4 Tiiumalisaivar 216 Tirumalisai 20 

r" 5 Tiruppanalvar 10 Uraiyur 2 

Chola < 6 Tondaradippodi 55 Tirumandangudi 1 

(.7 Tirumangaivar 1361 Tirukkurayahir 88 

Chera 8 Kulasekhara 105 Qui'.on 8 

r 9 Peiiyalvar 473 ) ^ • ir ff 16 

p , MO Andal 1/3 ) * o 

t^andya ^ ^^ Nammalvar 1296 Tirunagari 30 

l^-I Madhurakavi 11 Tirukkolur 

The arrangement of the names of Alvars adopted in 
the above table is not in accordance with the traditional 
chronology, which assigns to the earliest saint 4203 

1. Epigraphist's Report, No. 665 dated 28tti July 1910, p. 17. 


and to the latest 2706 B. C, but with special 
reference to the four Tamil kingdoms in which they 
were born. 

The orthodox Vaishnavas believe that the Alvars 
were the incarnations of the sacred weapons, the 
sacred ornaments and the sacred vehicles of Vishnu. 
Of these saints Tiruppan and Madhurakavi will not 
detain us long ; because, from a literary stand-point 
their contributions are almost trifling. The respective 
merits and the ages of the remaining Alvars vi'ill 
therefore be discussed in the following pages, leaving 
the miraculous incidents connected with their birth 
and life for the pious edification of the superstitiously 
orthodox Vaishna\'^as. 

No necessity for an essay ot this kind should have 
occurred, had there been at least one reliable and 
faithful biography of the Vishnava Saints ; neither in 
Sanskrit nor in Tamil was there a single biographer 
of the type of a Boswell or a Lockhart. Legends of 
some kind or other are, however, not wanting among 
the Vaishnavas. One of these named the Guntpa- 
ramparai or the 'Genealogy of the Gurus' pro- 
fesses to give the lives of the Vaishnava Saints 
and Acharyas ; and the accounts of the Alvars 
described in it appear to have been written after 
the fashion of the Periyapurana of the Saivas, the 
accuracy of the contents of both being highly 
questionable, as they are replete with miraculous 
incidents and anachronisms. We cannot expect more 
than these from the religious zealots of the combative 


sects,\vho seem to have compiled them from distorted 
traditions and hyperbolic accounts which had come 
down to them several centuries after the death of these 
saints. Some of these were based on the casual 
utterances which are to be found in the writings of 
the Alvars themselves. The admissions of the saints 
which were made out of modesty and humility were, 
m certain cases, taken for real facts, and afterwards 
woven into long stories with embellishments drawn 
chiefly from their imaginative brains. Wherever 
traditions or autobiographical statements were wanting 
the biographers also were silent. Thus the lives of 
Poigayar, Peyar and Pudattar are almost blank, as 
there are no personal references in their antadis, 
while those of Tirumalisaiyar, Tirumangai-Mannan, 
Tondaradippodi, Periyalvar and Andal are com- 
paratively full. 

And yet to impose upon the credulous disciples the 
Vaishnava Acliaryas have cooked up even the 
horoscopes of their saints The asterisms in which 
PudattaU'ar and Poigaiyalvar were born, as given in 
the Guruparamparai, do not agree with those assigned 
to them by the following inscription of Vikrama Chola 
(A, D. 1118) at Kanchipuram : — 

Q^IM ^ QufTiUSmS LUTl^oUfT(V^LD L3/oi^^Q^d QsLLaaU-lStTsk S\([h 

QuQ^i^Q^euQfi^^ Qs=uj^0sir &c. But it is said in 
later works that Poigaiyar was born at Kacchi in 
Tiruvonam and Pudattar at Mamalla in Avittam. 


The following lines which we here quote from the 
writings of the above saints seem to have furnished 
the data for their respective biographies : — 

(1) Tirumalisai Alvar, — (^eomis&rnuj ^iH rrsmts^Qeomsk 

p ^iih l3 roiB^lQeO'sk • mirsQsiTem® mrreaBu-LD uiT'Ju.<osr. 

(2) Tinimangai Alvar. — Qs^LDQinQ^smisf-s, ^e^2EsiQu(r^d 

Q ^ Q^iflsiosijLDfT(rF(TKiai](cLD LDQFoiS ' sm£i]Q<osr iev)(S<oar<ssr 

(3) Toiidaradippodi Alvar. — (^^^liissisrrsii^Q^ ^n^^ 

ULLu.(Lpi^(o<stj'2ioBT , QufT^QfT QUbmgu Qs^rreosSlu q/F^ 

(4) Periyalvar — (dsu^uulu^ Qsntsken- <si}eOoi)sSLL(ii& ^ ^s^ ; 

j)jsaisfl(c sinLis^uufr (csirewLSLDiresr^isia^, 

(5) Andal. — QumaQuj uapst^p u^erBsOsiri^surr^emu 

(?6U637 ssmi^rriL LDmnDsQesr ^ ajirH'SsarixiniiSln'iii &C. 

Quotations of this nature might be multiplied 
indefinitely. In our opinion some of the historical 
accounts given in the Periya-purana are comparatively 
more trustworthy, as the Saivas do not assign 
fabulous ages to their Nayanars. Most of the 
stories relating to the life of Tirumangai-Aivar, 


especially the offer of treasure by Varadaraja and 
the making of arrangements by this Alvar for the 
recital of Nammalvar's Tiruvoymoli, are clear in- 
stances 05 gross anachronism. 

The first Alvars. 

It is a common belief among Tamil scholars that 
'north' is the direction of prosperity {ldieis&) ^<ss>s'). 
We shall accordingly begin with the Pallava coun- 
try, the northern-most kingdom of the Tamil people 
Another reason for this procedure is that it was 
from Tondai Nadu that social and religious reforms 
extended gradually to the other Tamil kingdoms. 

In this country of the Pallavas were born the first 
three Alvars — Poigai, Pudam and Pey. Each of them 
was the author of an aniadi or a centum of verses in 
the Venba metre in praise of Vishnu, the three 
poems forming a portion of that book of the 
Divya Prabandam entitled the lyarpa. Their princi- 
pal tenet was, 

(LpssoneiiiriT QpsufTuo ^suQfjisfri^Lo 

Hence the miraculous 'sports' and performances 
of Vishnu wrought during his incarnations as 
Vamana, Narasunha, Rama and Krishna form the 
main theme of iheir hymns. 

The age of these Alvars is involved in hopeless 
obscurity. Traditions assert all the three were 
contemporaries and that once upon a time they 


all met together at Tirukkovalur in the South 
Arcot district. But for this one incident the 
Guruparamparai gives no particulars regarding them. 
It is believed by some scholars that Poigai Alvar was 
no other than the author of Kalavazhi. If there was 
any truth in this supposition, the first three Saints 
must have lived during the reign of the Chola king 
Kocchengannan that is prior to the sixth century 
A.D. But the above hypothesis is not countenanc- 
ed by other internal evidences. Of the two Poigaiyars 
one was a saint and the other a famous bard. The 
saint was no respecter of men as he has repeatedly 
said that, 

(1) eiiiTujeu'2esr in&is\)^ suiti^^^it^ ; 

(2) uiTi3i.^mfSmi-js(cLp ut(E)qjisji ; 

(3) LDiTujsh'2esr ujevsOiT6\)f ^}sa/D Quu^ QiD^^aQ^ssTtsa. 

On the contrary the other Poigaiyar appears to have 
been a court poet under the Chera king Kodai Marpan 
and earned his livelihood by eulogizing the Tamil 
kings of the southern districts, in proof of which the 
reader may be referred to stanzas 48 and 49 in the 
Purananuru. Again the language of these two 
writers differs; and we have no faith in the vague 
statements of the old commentators regarding their 
identity. For these and the following reasons we 
are inclined to believe that the name Poigaiyar was 
borne by two different authors, who flourished at 
different periods. 

The saints Poigai and Pey have celebrated the 
god of a place called Vinnagaram: 


(1) Qeu/W'^L^Qpuo) eSlssBtoemsQhLD Qsuoosnei^LCiooSiT s 
LiiEjQi—iEjSleO limQsfTsu&i QunmssraQFfiJo — sBrrm 

<STlir(fl^S0Qs®LD(TLlilL^!T. Poi. 11 . 

(2) eSsmesoT'KTLD QsuooSfrsSifl^'SisitT iB'T Qsuibsi—ld 

inem sum s IT ldit LrnTL-Qeut&KSSisf. — Pcy. 62. 

The word Vinnagaiam is a corruption of Skt. 
Vishnu Nagar and it may mean any house of Vishnu. 
But from the manner in which it is used along with 
Vengadam, Vehka, Koval, Agaram and Velukkai in 
he above quotations, it must refer to a particular 
shrine in the Pallava country or Tondai Nadu, There 
is only one Vinnagaram in the whole of that 
country and that is in Conjeeveram. Further, 
Poigaiyar and Peyalvar were more or less local 
saints and their peregrinations were confined to 
Tondai-Nadu and to some of the most renowned 
shrines in the further south, namely, Srirangam and 
Kumbakonam in the Choladesam and Tirumalirum- 
solai and Tirukkottiyur in the Pandyamandalam. For 
these reasons we are disposed to identify the Vinnagar 
referred to by these Alvars with the Paramesvara Vin- 
nagar of Tirumangaiyar's hymns. As it is explicitly sta- 
etd that thegodof this place is in the sitting posture, it 
cannot refer to Tiru- Vinnagar (Uppiliyappan) another 
important shrine of the same name in the Tanjore 
district. According to Dr. Hultzsch the Parames- 
vara Vinnagarami was built by the Pallava king Para- 

1. Mr, S. Krishnasamy Aiyangar finds fault with Dr. Hultzsch for 


mesvara Varma II (A. D. 690). These three Alvars 
should, therefore, have flourished in the latter half of 
the seventh century A. D. It would be interesting to 
note here that the god on the Tirupati Hills (Tiru- 
vengadam) had the appearance of both Siva and 
Vishnu in the days of Peyalvar. 

Tipumalisai Alvar. 

One of saints who is stated in the Guruparamparai 
to have lived in the Dvapara Yuga and to have had 
some acquaintance with the first three Alvars was 
Tirumalisaiyar. He was a native of the Pallava 
country ; and his Tiru-chanda-viruttam and Nan- 
mugan Tiruvandadi are admired for. their harmonious 
versification. He was a poet, philosopher and ascetic 
(yogi). His real name is said to have been Bhaktisara 

the above statement. He says that "this is not a necessary inference, 
as any other Fallava paramount sovereign might have had the title 
Pallava Paramesvara and the foundation when contracted might 
tiave become Paramesvara Vinnagai am, t;. g., Vidya Vinita Pallava 
Paramesvara m." Ind. Ant. for 1906, p. 229. We cannot quite 
understand what he means, as it is not explanatory of the point 
at issue. As a title the term Paramesvara like Maharaja is so 
vague that none of the Indian kings seem to have had it except as a 
proper name. There were Brahman settlements known by special 
titles of kings like Manabharana-chaturvedi-mangnlam, Gangai- 
kondan, Gunabharesvaram and Madhurantakam. In these cases we 
could say with certainty what kings had these titles, while it would 
be next to impossibility to hit upon a particular sovereign who had 
the title of 'Paramesvara' or 'Maharaja.' Compare the names of the 
following villages: Varaguna-manjjai, Gandaradityam, Nandipuram 
Kulottunga Cholai.allur, &c. In all these instances the villages 
were called after the names, not titles, of kings. 


which we think was only a title and he is beheved 
to have been the son of a Rishi named Bhargava, but 
brought up by a man of the hunting tribe. This latter 
statement IS borne out by his own admission which 
occurs in the Tiru-chanda-viruttam : — 

His writings, however, show that he should have 
acquired equal proficiency both in Sanskrit and Tamil 
and a competent knowledge of the sacred books of 
the other sects and reHgions. His mastery of the 
Ramayana, the Mahabharata and the Vishnupnranais 
displayed in both his poems. He was throughout his 
life a rancorous opponent to the baivas, Jains and 
Buddhists, and a devout worshipper of Vishnu : — 

(1) ^^(uiTiT ■fu.emiTijjiT^^niT ueij^^ir 


^esmQLL(Ssr pssii—ibsp eiiii(Lp Lnir^rrsirea. 

Tirumalisai Alvar was a monotheist as he himself 
admits that Q^Q^iasaed Q^tsijQ^Q^sijQsmi^^usmiruuaiT^ and 
preached that that one god was Vishnu while the 
other two of the triad — Brahma and Siva — were 
created by him : — 

(sirmQps^esT fBarriTLUossrisiT usai—^^iTssr lEinssrQps^uD 

Further he was a pantheist and held that Vishnu 
is omnipresent and pervades the whole universe, 


as taught by the etymological signification of His 
name. He invokes Vishnu thus : — 

(1) semesBimQLDiLKSUiTeSS n-psaQLnfT^emirs^&ii 

lurr ^ui[§ tu ^esr nS QiuuolS irir ^uai^ nSn'mcQissr, 

(2) i§QujUL^eoQse^&irrui i§ssieor(Tf)Qefr iS jbuetsreuLX) 

And yet this all powerful omnipresent Vishnu is 
neither visible to, nor cognisable by, man. 

(2) STiEi^&r Q-nkiseannoT^dso iuir<S}iTsn<5aar eusoeo'^iT ? 

Then to whom is this God knowable and how 
are we to perceive Him ? Our Alvar says in reply : — 

rBski-ieoeuL^ ^/Vih^ (^Tayrrsp <9?i-.pQsiTe^ ^ 

^esnSleOesr/SijjfTL^ujfT'Sesi luiTGJiTsiTtmr isu&iei)Q [t, 

(Vishnu who wields the sacred disc will be cognis- 
able only by those who, after having closed the 
narrow paths of the five senses and sealed their 
doors, opened the broad way of intelligence litting 
the lamp of wisdom and mellowing their bones with 
a heart melted by the intense heat of piety.) 

As regards the date of this Alvar, there is no inter- 
nal evidence in his writings to proceed upon with 


any degree of certainty. But from their general tenor 
it might be inferred that he should have lived at a 
period when the Jains, Buddhists and Saivas were 
fighting with one another for religious supremacy. 
This age, so far as it could be ascertained was the 
seventh century A. D., when the great champions of 
the Saiva faith, Tirunavukkarasu and Sarabandar, 
were busily engaged in the work of religious disput- 
ations. Moreover, there is a tradition, which as 
we have pointed above, connects him with the 
first three Alvars. It is said that during his pilgri- 
mage to Kumbakonam he stayed for some time at 
Chidambaram or Perumpuliyur. As he has not 
celebrated the Vishnu god of that famous stronghold 
of Sivaism, it is almost certain that in his days the 
shrine of Govinda Raja did not come into existence. 
Tirumangai Alvar informs us that this god was set up 
and worshipped by a Pallava king who may have, in 
all probabihty, been Nandivarma I or Peramesvara 
Varma II, A. D. 690. Tirumalisai Alvar should, there- 
fore, have lived at least half a century before Tiru- 
mangai Alvar, that is in the latter half of the seventh 
century. Again in the 93rd stanza of |his antadi our 
Alvar addresses Vishnu, thus. 

The expression ^(^emuuam'^ reminds us of the 
Pallava king Mahendra Varma I whose binulit or 
title was * Gunabhara ', and whose inscriptions are 
still to be seen an the rock at Trichinopoly. He 



was also the builder of the Siva temple called 
Gunabharesvaram. His date is said to be the early 
part of the seventh century A. D.i Being a stanch 
Vishnuvite, our Alvar it appears was also perse- 
cuted by a Pallava king, very likely the above 
Mahendra Varma 1 or Narasimha Varma II (A. D. 
675) both of whom were devout followers of Siva 
and builders of several temples to that deity. Taking 
all these circumstances into our careful consideration 
we shall not be unreasonable if we assign the middle 
of the seventh century A. D. to our Alwar's active 
work. He should, therefore, have been a contempo- 
rary of the Saiva saints Tirunavukkarasu Nayanar 
and Sambandamurti Nayanar. 

It is said in the Guruparamparai that he had enter 
ed into all the religions of his times before he be- 
came a Vishnuvite, and that when he was a Saivite 
he assumed the name of Sivavakkiyar. There is such 
a close resemblance in the metre and the harmonic 
flow of the poems of Sivavakkiyar and the Tiruch- 
chanda Viruttam of our Alvar, as to make one be- 
lieve that both the poems were composed by one 
and the same author. Further, some of the stanzas 
occurring in both are almost identical, and had the 
present Copyright Act been in force then, either 
of them should have been prosecuted under it. 

1. This was the date of the Saiva saint Tirunavukkarasu Naya- 
nar, It was during the reign of this Pallava that he, formerly a 
Jain, was converted to Sivaism by his beloved sister Tilakavati 
who was a Saiva devotee. 


(Compare verses 1, 2, 3, 4, 17, 79 &c. in Tiruch- 
chanda Viruttain with 308, 237, 266, 265, 264, 268 &c. 
in the poem of Sivavakkiyar). But Sivavakkiyar was 
a theist belonging to the Siddhar School and lived 
at least eight or nine centuries posterior to our saint. 
The style of Tirumalisaiyar is sublime and philoso- 
phic, while that of Sivavakkiyar is insipid and at 
times vulgar. The story given in the Guruparamparai 
connecting the saintly Tirumalisai Piran with the 
iconoclastic Sivavakkiyar must, therefore, be a later 


We shall now take Tiruppanalvar and Tondaradip- 
podi Alvar for consideration. First of them was born 
of a Panan family at Uraiyur, while the second was a 
Soliya Brahman of Tirumandangudi in the Tanjore 
district. The Panans were an inferior caste of min- 
strels frequently alluded to in the Fuiananuru, Padir- 
ruppattu and other works of the academic period. In 
the Census of 1891 Panan was returned as a sub-caste 
of Paraiya and was always considered very low in social 
scale. Like Nandan of the Saivites, Tiruppan Alvar 
was a devout worshipper of Vishnu. Yet he was not 
permitted to enter the Vishnu temple at Srirangam, as 
he belonged to the lowest out-caste. There is a 
tradition 1o the effect that Ranganatha commanded 
one Lokasaranga, a sage, to bring him to his shrine 
on his shoulders. In consequence of this story our 
Alvar is known also as ' Muni Vahana.' 


The above tradition proves the superiority of 
Bhakti, and emphasizes the fact that a Vishnu bhakta 
to whatever caste he might belong was worthy of 
greater honour and veneration than a Brahman well- 
versed in the four Vedas. The sanVe ider is conveyed 
in the following lines of the Brahman saint Ton- 
daradippodi Alvar :• — 

uaD^e\)fi Q<snn(Lgs&)iT p^u u&)SF^u Qu^LDiriraeir 
®jlSI(^0O^ ^SurfsQefT&s QmLDLLisf. tu rr its err n Sled 
QsifinsiL^lGi^iT QsiT®(jSim QsiremuSear. 

His faith in the god Vishnu had taken so deep a 
root on his mind that he became intolerent of other 
sects. He expresses his hatred against other religions 
especially Buddhism and Jainism, thus : — 

(1) L-i'?ffciijp LDfT@£€mro i-f^Qsn® s^LD6amQLD6\)eoiTL£i 
s'?e\iujpd s ppiDnkfih s,n<osmuQ an '^slLuQ hit ^trek 
^'^cLigxu LissinQ,;^s=iTQeu(5m s^^^Luiki sn'6miAl'2ioSiLurr 

(2) QsugiiuQun(Sl g:LD(am^(ip6ami—iT'6£i^uSe\) ^irdSiuiTsessflesruiTex) 
QuiT^uuifiLLi ewssaQuQeO QufnsuQ^ QisrTiSj^rrQ 

^gjiuuQ^ SQFfLDikisessn^fT lusfiBiSLOT iBS(i^<sfrnQ(oBT. 

There is no data in the songs of these Alvars to 
determine their age. But we shall not be far from 
the mark if we put them towards the close of the 
eighth or the beginning of the ninth century A. D. 
It is, however, said that there are references to these 
Alvars in the Mukunda Mala of Kulasekhara Perumal. 


The real name of Tondaiadippodi was Vipra Nara- 
yana and he does not seem to have worshipped or 
ever uttered the name of any Vishnu deity other than 
Ranganatha of Srirangara. His Tirumalai and 
Tiruppalli Ezhucchi form part of the Nalayitapra- 
bandam to which Tiruppan has contributed the 
decad named Amalan Adippiran. 

Kulasekhara Alvap. 

The next Alvar in our Hst is Kulasekhara Perumal. 
He calls himself king of Kolli. Kudal (Madura), 
Kozhi (Uraiyur) and Kongu (Qsrrs'js\^ sa£u&)m ,3k,L-&) 
.■Brrtussin, (oSfTj^sCosiTssi). It is not known at what period 
the four Tamil kingdoms Chera, Chola, Fandya and 
Kongu were under the sway of a smgle sovereign. 
But this much is certain : according to the Kongu 
chronicle and inscriptions the Cholas became 
powerful once more in A. D. 890, when Vijayalaya 
and Aditya I not only regained their lost kingdom 
but also annexed to it the Kongu country (Salem and 
Coimbatore districts). Kulasekhara has celebrated 
the Vishnu god of Chidambaram and refers to the 
shrine at Tiruvali {^sSltssirss^iu^CoLu, viii. 7). We 
have stated before that the Vishnu shrine at Chidam- 
baram should have come into existence in the latter 
half of the seventh century; and the temple at Tiru- 
vali was probably one of those built by Tirumangai 
Alvar in his own Nadu. From Keralolpatti, a work 
of extremely doubtful authority, we learn that 


Kulasekhara was one of the successors of Cheraman 
Perumal who died about A. D. 825. 

Again the same traditional history of the Kerala 
country says that Kulasekhara Perumal organized 
the kingdom into small chieftainships to protect it 
against the Mappillas and that after a reign of 
eighteen years he went to heaven with his bodv^ 
Kulasekhara Alvar niust, therefore, have lived between 
A. D. 780 and 890. But in accepting this date there 
arises one difficulty, that is, our Alvar calls himself 
Kudal Nayakan or the Lord ot Madura. At this period 
the Pandyas were powerful as will be seen from the 
Chinnamanur grants. The only reconciliation for 
this discrepancy would be that Kulasekhara was a 
scion of the Pandya family who inherited the Kerala 
throne under the mantinahkaiayam system. He was 
known in the Chera country as Pandya Kulasekhara 

Kulasekhara had equal proficiency in Tamil and 
Sanskrit. He was the author of Mukunda Malai in 
Sanskrit and 105 stanzas in Tamil which form part 
of tlie Nalayiraprabandam. His Tamil hymns on 
Tirupati and Srirangam are exceedingly pathetic like 
the Tiruvachakam of Tvianikkavachagar and can melt 
even sceptic minds ; while his Alukunda Malai is 
equally so. The similes employed by huTi in 
the Vittuvakkodu hymn are quite appropriate and 
convincing. Like the previous saints he was also an 
uncompromising opponent to other sects. We give 


below three stanzas from his poems as specimen : — 

(1) QisidjuSsx) sufTi^is5)%5anu (olLOiiiQajesi s Q{ET(3fr(&^'^su 

emmuj&)QsiT6ssr Qu.ijl^ieQ^ Qsarm pek mrrg^sCcS . 

(2) tSismpQuj^ ^smi—iufT^LD iSlfrLD^ lAhi^jT^LD 
( QuQ^QsuisfTsSSs (gaa popisf-uun ■sbr LDSsipivrT 

Q(B/6llUITLUS Su.S(^LD S'?l30'JL^fSa)l—QinioS)QQjQoSr. 

LDfTefTfT^ stTg^ QisiriuHTefr&siQuiTso mmv^d/S'JeO 

Tipumang-ai Alvar. 

The third Alvar of the Chola country was Kaliyan 
or Tirumangai Mannan. He was the foremost of 
all the Vaishnava saints and has left behind the 
greatest number of hymns on Vishnu shrines. 
Further, there are sufficient materials in his writings 
to work out his date with greater certainty, and to 
arrive at the conclusion that he was one of the most 
learned of all Alvars. His life and work should, 
therefore, be given here with fuller details. 

Tirumangai Alvar was born of a Kalla family at 
Tirukkurayaiur in the Tanjore district. His parents 
named him Kaliyan or Kalikanri. It appears that he 
held the office of generalissimo under the Chola kings 
and that he was the feudal chieftain of a small district 


or a group of villages called Ali Nadu in the north- 
eastern part of the Chola country. His head- 
quarters appear to have been Tirumangai, and from 
the way in which he speaks of this place (^^sjwr^/f 
LDirL^ias&r (^ifi^Q^LD^ssos) it must have been an important 
town in his days, though it could not be identified 
with any of the existing villages in the Shiyali taluk. 
He married the daughter of a certain Vishnu bJiakta 
who belonged to the Vaidya class, a caste much 
superior to his own. By her initiation and preaching 
Kaliyan became a stanch worshipper of Vishnu. 

Excepting Tirumalisaiyar and Satagopan he was 
undoubtedly the most learned of all the Vaishnava 
saints. His contributions to the Nalayirapraban. 
dam amount to 1361 stanzas and consist of six 
separate poems, namely, (1) QuiBiu^QTpLDnL^, (2) ^q^ 
d(^^.ijSiT63arL^sth^ (3) ^(n^QisQi ^rresmL^su:),[4:) &fSluu^(iT)U:>i~io^ 
(5) Quifliu ^(T^LDL^et) and (6) ^Q^QsijQ^af^^/iS^'iems. Even 
in his own life time he should have been admitted as 
a famous poet, successful controversialist and great 
donor of charities, as will be seen from the following 
quotation : — 

^06mLDITfFluj!rLLl—(lpdQuJSS)U.Uj!TIT '^UJua 

Q3Tis!(^LDe\)iTd(^L0ioSiujiT QeumtDiEisssQ suik ^im 

At a poetical contest he was given the title of iBfrp 
a(sSuQu(i^LDrren or the ' Master of the four kinds of 


poetry'; and as to the excellence of his works Kurat- 
talvar speaks thus : ^l6Iu^ mm^ineo ^sispser ^(^<9?<5 

In his later days he resigned his office, perhaps on 
account of some misunderstanding between him and 
the Chola king, and set out on a tour of pilgnmage 
from the Himalayas to Cape Comorin. P'or the 
diffusion of Vishnuism he toiled much and he is 
even said to hav'e had religious disputations at Shiyali 
with Trignansambandar, the greatest of the Saiva 
Nayanars. Some sort of similarity which we observe 
in the style and composition of Tirumangai Alvar 
and his Saiva rival seems to countenance the above 
supposition. Being a man of considerable wealth 
and influence, Kaliyan visited all the Vishnu temples 
of his time and sang hymns in praise of the Vishnu 
gods. Thus out of the 108 Vishnu temples approved 
as holy by Acharyas he left only twenty unvisited ; 
and these twenty shrines — including SriviUiputtur and 
Alvar Tirunagari (Kurugur) — were visited, a century 
or two afterwards, by one or the other of the two 
later Alvars Vishnu Chittan and Satagopan. We 
shall revert to this question when we come to speak 
of these saints. 

The above fact proves beyond dispute that 
these twenty temples, with the exception of Padma 
nabha at Trivandram, did not come into existence at 
the time of Tirumangai Alvar. Nevertheless, Mr. S. 
Krishnaswamy Aiyangar considers the celebration by 
Kaliyan of most of the Vaishnava temples, as a proof 


of the comparative lateness of this saint's existence. 
In spite of our regard to his sagacity, we must say 
with greater assurance that he is far from being 
correct in this view. The paucity ot temples cele- 
brated by these Alvars does not prove the antiquity 
of ihe one or the modernity of the other. Accord- 
ing to his theory Tondaradippodi Alvar should 
have been the earliest, because he visited only one 
temple ; and the order of precedence would be Hke 
this: Tondaradippodi, Tiruppan, Poigai, Kulasekhara, 
Andal, Putam, Pey, Periyalvar, Tirumalisai, Nam- 
malvar and Tirumangai Alvar ; surely it is neither 
the traditional nor chronological order. 

In those days of difficult communication, of 
constant wars between the Tamil kings and their 
feudatories, and of the fear of robbers and dacoits 
on the forest-clad highways and foot-paths, the 
circumstances which could have afforded facilities to 
a pilgrim in visiting a larger number of temples, 
were wealth, retinue and chiefly one's religious 
proclivities. Tirumangai Alvar had all these, as he 
was the ruler of a small but fertile province 
or nadn besides being a robber chieftain ; he 
had plenty of money and a good many followers to 
cater for him in his peregrinations. The other Alvars, 
probably with the exception of Kulasekhara, had 
none of these accessories, and they were more or 
less local saints. Tirumalisai and Nammalvar were 
yogis and did not care to visit all the Vishnu temples 
of their days. The former did not mention at all 


Tirumalirumsolai, when his contemporaries and 
predecessors have praised it ; Tirumangai Alvar did 
not visit Trivandram the god of which place is alluded 
to in Padirruppattu ; and Nammalvar has not sung 
Tirrukkottiyur, Tirukkovalur, and Tiruvehka which 
were celebrated by the earliest Alvars. Are we then 
to infer from this that the above shrines were 
not in existence at the time of these saints ? 
Certainly not. The theory of Mr. S. Krishnaswamy 
Aiyangar that *he (Tirumangai Alvar) was the 
latest of the saints is amply borne out by the 
fact that he celebrates most, if not all, of the well- 
known temples to Vishnu in India while others cele- 
brate only a few,'i is therefore evidently absurd as it 
is not supported by actual facts. 

Tirumangai Alvar expended large sums in building 
the ihird prakara or wall at Srirangam, which has been 
known to this day as Tirumangai Mannan Tirumadil 
or 'the sacred wall of Tirumangai Alvar ', while the 
inner two are those erected by Dharmavarma and 
Mahendra Varma, the latter of whom was a Pallava 
king who is believed to have ruled over the Chola 
country also. To secure funds for this sacred work 
our Alvar is said to have demolished a golden image 
of Buddha at Negapatam which was in his days a 
deserted seat of Buddhism. Like his predecessor 
Tirumalisai Piran our Alvar was a bitter opponent 
to the Saivas, Jains and Buddhists as the following 
quotations will show : — 
1. Ind. Ant. for 1906, p. 229. 


(1) LSemu^iLnrir LDsmstoL-Qtai^ l3 /dit uo'Bsai ^ifl^k^ssm^uui 
S-6mi^ujfT<sk siTuih^iT^^ QeurTQ^su^jnfi', (2) Qetiensfflajfjir tSeisar 
i^iuaiT Qurr^mnQ iTsisi fSenQira^Sl&sr p J sehetr^eo', (3^ Ljii^ 
iiSls\) s^iMSsariT lj^^it; 

He taught that Vishnu alone was God, that He 
created Brahma, Siva and all other gods, that He 
is self-existent, that He assumed three different forms 
of Brahma, Vishnu and Siva, and that He pervades 
the whole Universe : — 

(2) ^<sm(GO)(oeo ^(ohr^Q^suLO uojih^ ^ai^iL^ 

And to realize this God one should be righteous* 
should subdue his five senses and fix his mind 
on Him with love and devotion. Bhakti is the only in- 
dispensable passport to attain salvation ; and one 
need not waste his energy in austere penances and 
self-mortification. Thus, as a commentator has 
rightly observed, Tirumangai Alvar was one of those 
devotees who suffered their souls to endure the 
heat of the sun and their bodies to enjoy the coolness 
of shade. 

To understand aright the spirit and teaching of his 
poems, a thorough knowledge of the adventures of 
KrisHna and Rama and of the stories concerning the 
earlier incarnations of Vishnu as narrated in the 


Puranas and the two great epics, is expected of every 

Now coming to the age of this Alvar^ we have 
ample references to the Pallava and the Chola kings 
and to the political events of their times. In his hymn 
on the god of Paramesvara Vinnagaram our Alvar 
mentions that one Pallava king, Pallava Mallan, defeat- 
ed the Pandyas, Q^asi^eii'2esT^ fought a battle at Man- 
nai and another at Nenmeli, QiBmQuasSI. We have 
said above that the Vishnu shrine called Paramesvara 
Vinnagaram was built by Parameswara Varma II 
(A. D. 690). Further we gather from the Udayend- 
ram and Kasakudi copper plates published in the 
Soutli Indian Inscriptions, Vol. II, part 3, that the 
battles at Nenmeli and Mannaikudi were fought by the 
Pallava king Nandivarman (A. D. 720 — 760). One 
of them informs us that he was a devout worshipper 
of Vishnu. ' Nandivarman who worships the feet of 
Hari, who split (the head of) the opposing Sahara 
king, called Udayana in the terrible battle of Nelveli, 
who destroyed Kalidurga which was protected by 
the goddess Kali, and defeated the Pandya army at 
the village of Mannaikudi.' Again in another hymn 
on the god of Ashtabujam at Conjeevaram our 
Alvar refers to a king named Vajra Meghan to 
whom the Pallava king did homage — Q^frememL-iufr 
(eSiTissr eusasTEii^ SemQfu^LDrr'SisoeutiSn- QtDseisr. This was one 
of the titles (birudu) of Dantidurga or Dantivarma 
IJ, a Rashtrakuta king of Malkhed A.D. 7551 ; and 

1. Ind. Ant. xii, p. 17. 


he is said to have * completed the acquisition of 
sovereignty by subjugating the Lord ot Kanchi.'i 

Again our Alvar has a hymn on the god of Nandi- 
pura Vinnagaram. This temple must have been built 
by the same Nandi Varma, as among the South 
Indian kings hitherto brought to light there appears 
to have been before the time of Kaliyan only one 
sovereign of that name. Other references to Pallava 
and Chola kings are : — 

(1) smULnQuiTsin ^LD Qp^^ua LastssflnfiEiQafreasririk^ 

(2) ^e<TiEi(^ rismQfiu^tLnrff^iT ^isi(^iB^eo 

Q^nsssT'oSii— LDsmeareusar ^ooaru^p QeOiTQ^ev jb(^ 

£^IElQ sir's ISITL^IoS)S <o](LgL-ssfj(r^uu 

(3) ^0dQeO(S](g ^Q^QiDiTL^euTQuwom Q i—tr e^ S" /b(^ 

Q<fiEJSi^ss)osr QarTS=Q-9=fTL^iom Qs='Tt5^QsrraSls\]. 

It has been said in a previous section that at the 
time of Tirumalisai Alvar there was no shrine to 
Vishnu at Chidambaram. The Pallava king referred 
to in (1) should, therefore, have been either Mahen- 
dra Varma II or Paramesvara Varma II both of whom 
were worshippers of Vishnu and donors of great 
charities; the first of them, Mahendra Varma II, is 
said to have done meritorious acts for the benefit of 

1 Bombay. Gas. Vol. I, part 2, p. 389. 


temples and Brahma ns, and the second was the 
builder of Vinnagaram at Conjeevaram. And the king 
alluded to in^^) should have been Mahendra Varma U 
(A. D. 650) as he is stated to have built the second 
prakara or wall at Srirangam. Lastly, the Chola king 
referred to in (3) was Ko-Chengannan who has been 
canonized as a Saint by the Saivites, and described 
as Kocchengatchola Nayanar in the Periyapuranam. 
The Saiva saint Tirugnanasambanda also refers to 
this king. Like his distant successor Parantaka I 
(Vira Narayana Chola of the Kongu chronicle) he 
may have been an ardent worshipper of Vishnu in 
his early days and afterwards changed his faith to 
Sivaism, as the apostles of both sects praise him 
in their works. \u a previous chapter {Vide, p. 250) 
the date of this Kocchengannan has been tentatively 
fixed as 580 A. D. 

l-n his Siriya Tirumadal our Alvar speaks of one 
Vasavadatta. This suggests that he may have been 
acquainted with the Sanskrit play of that name 
written by Subandhu about the beginning of the 
seventh century, which must be taken as the earliest 
limit of his date. Again, he has a hymn on the god of 
Tirumokur in the Madura district. Two miles near 
it and at the foot of the Yanaimalai there is 
another Vishnu temple, which as the following 
inscription will show, was built by a Pandya 
minister in A. D. 770 and endowed with a rich 
agrahara for its maintenance. 'Pre-eminently charm- 
ing in manners a resident of Karavandapuram the 


son of Maran and a learned and illustrious member 
of the Vaidya family, Madhurakavi made this stone 
temple of Vishnu. The same Madhurakavi the wise 
minister of the Pandya named Parantaka also gave 
away to the first born (Brahmans) this immensely 
rich agraharam. When 3 871 years of Kali had passed 
on the day of the sun in the month of Kartigai 
this image of the god was duly set up there'. 
Had this temple been in existence in our Alvar's 
time he must surel}' have visited it. As there are no 
hymns on this god when he has sung the deity 
at Tirumokur, it is almost certain that our Alvar 
must have visited this part of the Pandya country 
sometime before A. D. 770. 

Taking all these facts into our careful considera- 
tion we cannot help concluding that Tirumangai 
Alvar must have flourished between A. D. 680 and 


Let us now pass on to the Vaishnava Saints of the 
Pandya country. Periyalvar or Vishnu Chittan was 
a Brahman of Srivilliputtur. He calls himself lj^sissij 
mssi and Lj^^iTsQsfTi^; here turn and Qsrrm mean simply 
an influential man ; and in our Alvar's time Srivilli- 
puttur was a newly created Brahman settlement. At 
the instance of Selva Nambi of Tirukkottiyur (a Puro- 
hit of the Pandya king), a conference of theologians 
was held at Madura. And in the religious controversy 
which took place there, Periyalvar is said to have 


ccMTie out succebsful and establislied Vishnuism in 
his part of the Tamil country. His contributions, 
mostly descriptive of the life of Sri Krishna, number- 
ing about 416 stanzas form part of the Nalayira- 
prabandam. His style is modern and contains a large 
admixture of colloquial and provincial words and 
many Sanskrit tadbavas. He has not said one word 
against the Jains or Buddhists, probably because by 
that time these two religions had almost died out in 
the Pandya country. Nor did he use any unpleasant 
words against the Saivas, a fact which proves that it 
had already established itself firmly in the Tamil 
country and that the two rival sectarians had been 
reconciled. The only harsh sentiments he gives 
vent to against the Saivas and which also explain his 
religious views are : — 

^Qa^ ffl;/7#(5^ Q,? uJtiJ i^mjD ,S(T^LCJ6\}', (2) ST0^^sQsfTlS 
ILj'olSU.LUIT^Lh tSlTLD^iAli^ir^ LD/bgHlif sS(5^d!0 L^Ln3fDsS 

To determine the age of this Saint there are no 
clear references in his works. But the following 
extracts combined with the tradition that he lived at 
the time of the Pandya king Sri Vallabhadeva must 
throw some light on his date : — 

(1) Oa/r/E@/Ei ^i—issa^(LjL£ — II, vi, 2. 

(2) QtB^LDfT/ossr 3^.1— jbQsrr (SOT. — IV, ii, 7. 

('d) QsrrLLL^iuirdsiTiosr ^LS'icirear^/BaaJr, — IV, iv 8. 

(4) uQ^uu^s^^d suu&iQuiifSji^ utTesaL^uuiT,-—W , iv 7, 


The Vaishnava commentator Periyavacchan Pillai 
explains Oa'^®(5S(g(_isa)^ as Kudandai (Kumbakonam) 
which belonged to or was in the Kongu country. In 
a former section we have said that Aditva I conquered 
and annexed Kongu in or about 890 A. D. We learn 
further from other sources that Kumbakonam was a 
temporary capital of that newly conquered country 
from which the Chola prmce or the Yuva Raja ruled 
the new province. The second quotation informs us 
that the Pandya king was Nedu Maran, while the 
third tells us that his purohit or spiritual teacher was 
a pious Vaishnava Brahman who bore the title of 
Abhimana Tungan. (It was one of the customs of 
those days to give the titles of a king to his favourite 
ministers and purohits. Manikka Vachagar had the 
title of Qjgt^ssreijm i3!TLDLD!i!Ttu(ssrj Sekkilar was called 
a-^^m Q3'frL^uus\)s\)s)jfriTnjesr.) The word Maravarman is 
no doubt a title borne by all kings of the Pandya 
dynasty; but this when combined with the name Sri 
Vallabhadeva and the eponym Abhimana Meru, does 
certainly refer to a particular Pandya king. From the 
Chinnamanur plates referred to above we are given to 
understand that Raja Simha II had the title of Abhima- 
na Mera Mara Varman, that he was a grandson of 
Maravarman Sri Vallabha Deva, and that he was killed 
by Parantaka Chola in A. D. 910. Among the well- 
known temples of the Pandya country Srivilliputtur is 
one that was not visited by Tirumangai Alvar ; and 
when the god of Tiruttangal, a village some eight or 
nine miles distant from our Alvar's birth-place, has 


been celebrated by Kaliyan, he has omitted this impor- 
tant shrine. Taking into account all these facts we 
are inclined to believe that Srivilliputlur or the 'new 
village of Villi ' should have come into existence 
only after A. D. 750, and that our Vishnu C'hittan or 
Periyalvar should have flourished between A. D. 840 
and 915 ; that is, he might have been a younger con- 
temporary of Kulasekhara Perumal. It is worthy 
of note that this Alvar who is said to have carried 
the prize {Sl^]) in a religious contest held at Madura, 
has not celebrated Kudal Alagar of that city, though 
it has been referred to in one of the hymns of 
Tirumangai Alvar. We know that Madura has always 
been a stronghold of Sivaism, and it is quite possible 
that this Vaishnava temple was closed temporarily 
by the bigotted Saivites of that city. 

On the authority of certain expressions like un-m- 
<siDoU(a!^s3B7ffl;OT(y>?>@© &c. which occur in the Madras 
Museum plates of Jatila Varman, the Editor of ' Sen 
Tamil' is inclined to put the date of Vishnu Chittan 
before A.D. 770, making him a contemporary of Jatila 
Varman or Parantaka I of the Yanamalai inbcriptions. 
If this was so our Alvar should have been as well a 
contemporary of Tirumangai Mannan and a predeces- 
sor of Kulasekara and Nammalvar. But this was not 
the case for the reasons that are given in the sections 
dealing with the above saints. 

One of the Vaishnava saints was a lady named 
Kodai. She is also called Andal, and believed to 
have been the daughter of Periyalvar, QuiBuunu^euniT 


QupQ/oV^s QuemtSI<ar'2err, while others think that she 
was a toundliag, but brouglit up by the saint Vishnu 
Chittan. Her contributions to the Nalayirapraban- 
dam consist of 173 stanzas ; of these the Tiruppavai 
has been considered to be her finest poem. She was 
no doubt an ardent worshipper of Vishnu and all her 
poems are an exposition of Sri Krishna's stories. It 
appears that she remained a virgin throughout her 
short life and spent her days in ministering to the 
deities at Srirangam and Tirumalirumsolai. 

In her Varanamayiram she describes the dreams of 
her marriage with Vishnu, and this song is now bemg 
recited at all Vaishnava Brahman marriages. It must 
be remembered that her poems, which may have been 
largely influenced by the work of a contemporary — the 
Tirukkovaiyar oi Manikka Vachakar — have an esoteric 
significance. The marriage described by her was the 
union of the atuian with Faraniatman or God and 
final absorption in the God-head. The devotion and 
attachment of the modern Vaishnavas to Andal is so 
great that the worship of the local deity adored by 
her at Srivilliputtur has been eclipsed. All the impor- 
tant festivals at this place are celebrated chiefly in 
honour of this lady Saint. 


Conspicuous among the Vaishnava Saints was 
Nammalvar or Satagopan. He has been regarded as 
an incarnation of Senai Mudaliyar, the mythological 
commander and foremost devotee of Vishnu. His 


life and writings deserve, therefore, to be considered 
at some length. 

He was born of a Vellala family at Tirukkurukur 
or 'Alvar-Tirunagari in the district of Tinnevelly, 
to one Kari of that place and Udaiya Nangai of 
Tiruvanparisaram in the Chera country. His parents 
gave him the name of Maran ; and Satagopan was 
the Sanskrit title probably given to him by his 
spiritual Giini. iMoreovcr, it was customary, as now, 
to have two names — one Tamil and tlie other Sanskrit. 
His Tiruvoymoli, Tiruvasiriam, Tiruviruttam and 
Tiruvandadi, all of which written with a definite 
purpose on a pre- conceived plan in the antadi 
form and amounting to 1296 stanzas, are included 
in the Naiayiraprabandam. His songs or hymns 
relate to the deities of some thirty places, ot 
which twenty-four are in the Pandya and the Chera 
kingdoms. He was an ascetic or yogi and would 
seem to have retired from the world in his 35th year 
to; perform Yoga or meditation under a tamarind tree, 
which exists to this day in Alvar-Tirunagari. Ulti- 
mately he is said to have attained eternal bliss or 
beatitude, about which he himself says : — 

He had two disciples — Sri Nathamuni and Ma- 
dhurakavi — to whom he taught his Tiruvoymoli and 
other prabandams. The first heads the list of the 
Vaishnava Acharyas while the second has been ele- 
vated to the rank of a Saint. 


Like all other alvars Satagopan was a Vishnuvite of 
the Visishtadvaitic School of Vedanta. He believed 
that Vishnu alone could offer Moksha to His worship- 
pers, that He is uncreated, that He is omnipresent and 
that Brahma and Siva are only His other forms 
or manilestations assumed for the sake of conducting 
different offices. He proves the existence of God by 
means of arguments, teleological and metaphysical, in 
the fashion of Descartes and Spinoza, and gives us a 
clear description of His relationship with the world in 
his first two padigams, and of the means of approach- 
ing Him in the third. About the nature and attributes 
of God he says 

(1) ^eam€ve\>esr QlLJSsai&sans^&iesreijeotT eueSlit!LD6\)e\)isin 

(2) SuniL Ssoss)iLi^ 0iurijji si7e\)rTLU QtsQeu^r bW)Lu 

His idea (»f fruition or communion with God is 
explained in the following stanza : — 

^SB\Q p ojuQuaQ^ 4£S'i_js7(?au a?® sSt-^frQu). 


He did not recognise caste distinctions and 
held that di\ me knowledge alone could make a man 
high or low in the social scale : — 

(^eviBsifrisiQ) SFa^ssir isneSl^ixi Si^L^m^ sr^^'Sesi 
iseOii^T insf)e\)fr^ .SFssaTL^iTeir feeari—iKsnrr s<3(riT@^uD 

SSoi^'TIT Jfll^lLifriT ^UDISLp-LUfT G STLLLDl^S^efT. 

The question of the age of this Saint is very 
much disputed. Diverse opinions are current. The 
Vaishnava Acharyas take him to the begmning of 
the Kaliyug or B. C. 3102 and attempt to bridge 
over the wide gulf of time between him and his dis- 
ciple Nathamuni (tenth century A. D.) by asserting 
that the Alvar was his teacher in his archavatar or 
'the idolic incarnation' ; while some of the English, 
educated Vaishnavas would ascribe to him the open- 
ing years of the Christian era as his probable age. 
As we have in the writings of Tirumangai Alvar 
there are no allusions to any king or political events 
m the works of Nammalvar to determine his date. 
There are, however, several other indications to prove 
that he flourished about the beginning of the 
tenth century A, D., and that he was the last of the 
Vaishnava Saints. We shall briefly give them below 
and leave the reader to judge for himself whether 
the above conclusicjns are logical or otherwise 

(1) The Tamil language of Nammalvar differs 
from the Tamil of the poets of the Sangam or aca- 
demic period. Our i4/2;(;ir makes a free use of Sans- 
krit words and phrases like Sl^uS, euirs^sih^ sesnuLD^ &.u 


Qe\)irf6sresr ^ mn^fj lS^<sii, LD^rrQuirsihy ^i^ir^jeoij}, ldits 

(ssiisu(^^k^ua ; while none of these will be discovered 
in the early Tamil writings. The use of plurais in seir 
and double plurals in ears&r as in •ssinmiSm-jD&nssfr and 
of the present tense in Sl^ as in (S^LL9(nj"^ is compa- 
ratively modern. With regard to the use of S)^ as a 
particle of present tense, the learned commentator 
Nacchinarkiniyar observes thus : &,eam8(}/DQemsurd&^ 
eiesru^ Ssu^iusi) (Lpssafr^^i\) '^i-%nso enLpii^. {Tol. II, 204). 
These were never used by the early Tamil authors 
anterior to the seventh century A. D. 

Philological variations of the above nature in a 
living language like Tamil afford us the crucial test to 
determine the respective ages of literary works of 
different periods ; and yet, this test has often been 
completely ignored not only by Tamil pandits, but 
also by the early commentators of I'amil classics. 

(2) At the time of our Alvar most of the Puranas had 
alre.idy come into existence and when he speaks of 
the Saivas, he refers to Lin^a-Purana by name 
(IV. X. 5). It is only the Puranas that contain rules 
for the worship of gods by means of prayers, offer- 
ings, and festivals. Nammalvar refers to some of these 
observances in the following lines: — 

The above quotation distinctly proves that the obser- 
vance of piiranic rites had been in its full swing, and 


that a large number of temples to Vishnu and other 
deities had already come into existence before the 
days of Nammalvar. 

(3) The chewing of betel-leaf ^ was almost 
unknown to the Hindu populace prior to A. D. 500 ; 
because, as one writer, observes its use is not mentioned 
by any author before the sixth century A. D. Our 
Alvar speaks of Qeu/b^^ a more modern form of Qsneir 
sy/??isu ' which we find in the inscriptions of the ninth 
and tenth centuries A. D, The author of Silap- 
padikaram (second century A.D ) does, however, refer 
to its use thus, — 

But we doubt whether the custom had been so 
universal in the days of Ilango-adikal, as it was in our 
Alvar's time. 

(4) It seems that at the time of our Alvar the 
struggle between the Vaishnava and Saiva sects 
on the one hand, and Jainism and Buddhism 
on the other had come to an end, that Brahmanism 
— Siva and Vishnu cults — had come out triumphant 
at least in the extreme south, and that a sort of recon- 
ciliation had been effected among the Saivas and 
Vaishnavas. While Tirumalisai, Tirumangai and 
Tondaradippodi Alvars speak very vehemently and 
pour forth their invectives a<:;ainst the non-Vaishnava 

1. F. R. A. S. for 1908, p. 910. 

^j^upcrT/OssSlil®. — Epig. 'nci. Vol, IX, p. 90. 


sects and religions, Nammalvar only casually men- 
tions in one place the Jains and Buddhists, besides 
Brahma and Siva as only other manifestations of 
Vishnu. A comparison of the following quotations 
from Nammalvar's works with those cited in the 
previous sections will clearly prove that Jainisin and 
Buddhism had already died out in the Tamil country 
and that Saivas and Vaishnavas had come to regard 
each other as brethern : — 

(2) <SLS-SLDL^ Qsrrm&aps^ s=<oSiu.'^QoSiQiLi<ij^iJD idrresrQp^s su. 

Qjsms^(T^ eurrtwsCceurQiueur^ix) ; (3) jfjiEi(^iuii QpaiLLL3.!TiT<ssT 
LSlirL£iQu(T^i£fTesrei]em li j (4) LDira^sslefTLD^tLK^ (c^0(^ s^stai-^ 

(5) It has been said before that Tirumangai Alvar 
visited all the V'aishnava temples of his time. Those 
shrines that are not sung by him are celebrated by 
Nammalvar, the most important of which being 
(a) Tirukkuriigur, (6) Varaguna Mangai and (c) Sri 
varamangalam. If the traditional story of the ortho- 
dox Vaishnavas that Tirumangai Alvar made arrange- 
ments for the lecital of Tiruvoymoli at Srirangam be 
true, he must surely have visited the birth-place 
of a great Saint honoured and worshipped by him, 
and sung hymns in praise of the god of that village. 
But we see nothing of this in his work. Again, 
Varaguna Mangai or Varaguna Mangalam is a village 
named after the Fandya king Varaguna. So far as 


the epigraphical researches have disclosed, there were 
only two kings of that name, and the earher of whom 
reigned about A,D. 820. Further, Srivaramangalam or 
Vanamamalai, wherein there have been from tune 
immemoiial an impt^rlant Vishnu temple and a 
Vaishnava Mutt, came inio existence in the reign of 
the Fandya king Ko-Maran-Sadaiyan (A.D. ^HO) 
under the circumstances set forth in the following 
extract from a copper plate grant of that king. 
* While the seventeenth year of the reign, of Nedum 
Sadaiyan,...ihe most devoted follower of Vishnu, was 
current... he gave with libations of water the village 
of Velangudi in Tenkalavalinadu, having cancelled 
its former name from old tunes and having bestowed 
on it the new name of Srivaramangalam to Sujjata 
Bhatta',.. From the description of the boundaries 
given in the plates it is clear that the shrine and the 
famous Mutt should have been built towards the 
end of the ninth century A. D. This village is only 
a short distance from Tirukkui ungudi another well- 
known shrine where Tirumangai Alvar spent the 
remaining years of his life. Yet, he has not said one 
word about this important temple anywhere in his 

{(j) Sri Villiputtur which is one of the famous 
shrines of modern times in the Tinnevelly district was 
not visited either bv Tirumangai Alvar, because it 
was not in existence in his days, '>r by Nammalvar, 
as it did not come into prominence or was not 
known to the Vaishnavas outside the village. Peri- 


valvar should therefore have • been an elder contem- 
porary of Satagopan though unknown to each other. 

(7) The Dravidian tune or pan {usm) is invariably 
prefixed to all the padigams (decads) of Nammalvar 
while m the case of the works of other Saints, especi- 
ally of Tirumangai Alvar, it has been found wanting. 
Probably the names of tunes assigned to theae padi- 
gams must have been lost during the course of the 
long period that had elapsed before their collection 
and compilation by Sri Nathamuni. Had Tirumangai 
Alvar flourished three or four centuries later than 
Satagopan, as the Vaishnava biographeis allege the 
pans of Tiiumangai Alvar's hymns should have been 
preserved «/or//on with greater easiness. But the 
fact was otherwise. We cannot understand why 
\hese pans of Tirmangai Alvar were lost while those 
of his Saiva contemporaries and predecessors, Appar 
and Sambandar, were handed down to posterity. 
Perhaps the Aryan Vaishnavas had not cared so 
much for the preservation of the sacred writings ot 
the Dravidian Saints before the days of Nammalvar 
and perhaps in imitation of the Saivas, the Vaishnava 
Acharyas may have got into their head the idea of 
collecting the works of Alvars and compiling them 
intcj one sacred volume, probably subsequent to the 
laborious undertaking of Nambiyandar Nambi of 
the Saiva sect. 

[O) From the Elephant Rock inscriptions quoted 
above we see that the builder of the Vishnu temple 
was one Kari or Madhurakavi, a son of Maran and 


a minister of the Pandya king. We learn further 
from the Guruparamparai that the name of 
Nammalvar was Maran, that he was a saint 
from his childhood, that he was the son of one Kari 
a Vellala by caste and that one of his disciples was 
Madhurakavi, a Brahman of Tirukkoiur in the Tinne- 
velly district. Obviously, confounding the names 
Kari, Maran and Madhurakavi, which occur in the 
inscriptions as well as in the Vaishnava biography, a 
recent writer in the Indian Antiquary jumps, like Flu- 
ellen, to the conclusion that Kari or Madhurakavi 
was the son of Nammalvar or Maran and that both 
of them were contemporaries of Tirumangai Alvar. 
According to this perverted view Nammalvar should 
have lived prior to A.D. 770. We cannot understand 
how the Koil-olugu, on which the reviewer relies so 
much for his data, is more trustworthy than the 
Guruparamparai. The latter work unmistakably asserts 
that Madhurakavi Alvar was a Brahman and that Nam- 
malvar was a celibate saint. Evidently this writer 
does not seem to have read either the Guruparam- 
parai, or the works of Nammalvar, or even Mr. V. 
Venkayya's notes on the Triplicane Inscriptions of 
Dantivarman in the Ep. Ind. Vol. VIII. p. 290. 

Nammalvar has one hymn on the god of Tirumokur 
and four or five on the famous shrine at Tirumali- 
rum-Solai ; but he has left none on the Vishnu deity 
at the foot of the Yanai Malai or the Elephant Rock 
which lies between these two places. Our Alwar 
must therefore have lived either before or long 


after A. D. 770 ; but the impossibility of the first 
has been proved in the previous pages. 

The rich Agrahara referred to in the inscription 
should have been deserted and the shrine itself 
almost neglected at the time of Nammalvar, as it 
now is, owing to the ominous death of the builder 
of the temple before its completion and the 
unproductive rocky soil of the surrounding country. 
It is evident that a sufficiently long period, say at 
least one century and a half, should have elapsed 
between its creation and total abandonment; that is 
this shrine and Agrahara should have fallen into 
ruins only some time before A. D. 900. And this 
must have been the period of our Alvar's existence. 

(9) The most important argument in favour of our 
theory that Satagopan was the last of all the Vaishnava 
Saints is furnished by the age of Nathamuni, one of 
his two esteemed disciples. Traditions relating to his 
life are conflicting and even scholars do not agree 
on this point. Mr. S. Krishnaswamy Aiyangar seems to 
believe the statement of the orthodox Vaishnavas that 
Nathamuni was born in A.D. 582 and died in A.D. 
922. He goes on to say that ' it would certainly be in 
keeping with the most cherished tradition of the 
Vaishnavas that arrangement made by the Alvar 
(Tirumangai Alvar, A. D. 750) for the recital of 
Tiruvoymoli of Nammalvar had fallen into desuetude 
in the days of Nathamuni and he had to revive it at 
Srirangam after much ado' i. And, Mr. T. Rajagopa- 

1. Inci. Ant. 1906, p. 232. 


lachariar says 'that the sage was born somewhere in 
the first quarter of the ninth century and lived just 
over a hundred years' ^. 

We shall now examine these statements. Guru- 
paramparai or the lives of the Vaishnava Aciiaryas 
informs us (a) that Sri Nathamuni Was born in the 
agrahara of Vira Narayanapuram in the district 
of South Arcot, and (bj died at Gangaikoi\da Chola- 
puram in Trichinopoly, and (c) that he was the 
grandfather of Alavandar, who died at Srirangam 
when Sri Ramanujacharya was about 25 or 30 years 
of age. Now, here are three points to be carefully 
sifted in arriving at the age of Nathamuni. There 
are also other traditions making him a contempo- 
rary of Kamban, but these are not trustworthy and 
may therefore be set aside for the present. 

(a) As regards Viranarayanapurm the Kongu chro- 
nicle says that ' Viranarayana iParantaka 1,906-946 
A.D.) was a great devotee of Vishnu in the early part 
of his life and he created many tax-free Brahman 
settlements one of which was called after his own 
name Viranaiayanapuram ' 2. In other words this 
agrahara must have come into existence some time 
after 906 A. D. 

(b) Sri Nathamuni is believed to have died at Gan- 
gaikonda Cholapuram which was made the capital 
of the Chola king Rajendra (A. D. 1011-1044) about 

1. The hid. Rev, 1908, p. 280. 

2. Salem Dt. Manual. Vol. II. p. 375 and Madras journal of 
Sc. & Lit., Vol. xiv. 


the year 1022. Admitting that our sage died about 
1025 A. D., he should have been born about 915 
A. D., and this gives him an age of 110 years. This 
is sufficiently a long age, and there is every reason to 
believe that he, being a Yogi, could have lived for 
such a long period. 

(c) According to the inscriptions of Bitti Deva or 
Vishnuvardhana of Mysore, the great Vaishnava re- 
former Sri Ramanujacharya was living in 1134 A. D. 
Even if we allow him an unusually long age of 115 
years, it is certain that he was about thirty years old 
in A. D. 1049, which must be assumed as the year of 
Alavandar's death ; that is, he may have survived his 
grand-father Natharauni some 24 or 25 years. Gran- 
ting that Alavandar lived to an advanced age of 
eighty, he should have been born about A.D. 969 when 
Nathamuni was about 54 or 55 ; and it is not impro- 
bable for a man of this age to beget a grandson. We 
are therefore inclined to believe that Nathau7uni was 
a direct disciple of Nammalvar and studied Tiruvoy- 
moli and Yoga philosophy when he was about 20 or 
25 years of age under our most revered Saint. In 
other words Nammalvar must have been alive in 
A.D. 935. Moreover, it is said that about the writings 
of Nammalvar, Sri Nathamuni enquired one Paran- 
kusadasa, a disciple of Madhurakavi Alvar (afterwards 
his fellow student) who is believed to have been born 
in the Dvapura Yuga ! 

Further he should have also been the last of the 
Alvars, as one of our early Acharyas distinctly says 


in his QirTL^p^(ff)!h(TuiiJD that Nammalvar taught the 4000 
hymns to Nathamuni — ibt^^s(^ [btreofniSuLoeiB^^irm 
(Suitl^Cdoj. It escapes our understanding how in the 
face of this clear statement Tirumangai Alvar could 
have lived after Nammalvar. 

(10). In one of the inscriptions of Rajaraja Chola 
dated about 1004 A. D. Kurugur appears as the 
name of a dancing girl. From it we are to infer that 
this village had by that time become famous as the 
birth place of Nammalvar. This we suppose was due 
to the propogandist work of Nathamuni who used to 
visit the royal courts of Chola kings. Further it was 
the custom of those times to give the names of 
famous villages, of renowned Saints and of reigning 
sovereigns to men and women, out of reverence or 
gratitude as the following proper names will show: 
^@(75<ss_/f, ^(T^rsrTisijssiTSr^ ■^■/'■gff'T^^ eSlQpuusajirujesr, <3f-i^fr 
urresan^iu ^■s^rriflujeisr ; and this sort of naming first took 
place during the life time of these remarkable 
personages or when those noteworthy occurrences 
were quite fresh in their memories. An inscription of 
the same Chola king calls the name of thedeily of the 
temple at Ukkal asTiruvoymolidevar. From this Dr. 
Hultzsch seems to think that Nammalvar 'must have 
lived centuries before A. D. 1000.' But for the 
above reasons this was not really the case. 

Some scholars might think that a considerably 
long time should have passed after the death of these 
pious reformers before their deification could have 
taken place. But this was not at all necessary, when 



we consider the spirit and the rehgious movements of 
this period of sectarian reforms (A.D. 950-1150), and 
the halo of divine glory which had shone even in 
their own life time. We are told in the biographies 
of the Vaishnava Acharyas that copper images of Sri 
Ramanuja were set up, in obedience to his orders, 
immediately after the termination of his earthly exis- 
tence, and that Manavalamamuni gave away his 
copper water pot for the making of his image just on 
the eve of his departure to the other world. And it 
has been said above that the custom of setting up 
images for these canonized saints came into vogue 
only after 1000 A.D. 

The above arguments must irresistably lead any 
unbiassed reader to conclude that our Nammalvar 
should have flourished in the first half of the tenth 
century A.D. which is full two hundred years poster- 
ior to Tirumangai Alvar. It is, therefore, clear that 
the traditional stories relating to these two Saints in 
which Mr. S. Krishnaswamy Aiyangar places so much 
faith and the fabulous difference of 3500 years 
between Nammalvar and his direct disciple Natha- 
muni, on which the archavatar theory of the Vaish- 
nava Acharayas rests, must be rejected as pure con- 
coctions of Manavalamamuni and his predecessors, 
devised in support of their absurdly cherished 

To summarise the results of our discussions 
regarding the Vaishnava Saints: (1) the reformation 
of the Vaishnava sect began in the Pallava country 


and slowly but steadily travelled as far as the Pandya. 
desa in the South; (2) the 'First Alvars' and 
Tirumalisaiyar, all of Tondai Nadu, were the earliest, 
and Nammalvar of the Pandya country was the 
latest; (3) Tirumalisaiyar, Tirumangai Mannan and 
Tondaradippodi Alvar who were the bitterest 
opponents to the Saivas, Jains and Buddhists 
flourished when the two latter religions were 
struggling for existence in the Tamil country; (4) 
Nammalvar, the last of the Vaishnava Saints and 
the first of the Acharyas lived when the two 
atheistic religions — Jainismand Buddhism — had very 
nearly died out in the Tamil country and when the 
Saivas and Vaishnavas had been reconciled; (5) 
Tirumalisaiyar, Kaliyan and Nammalvar were the 
greatest of the Vaishnava Saints; (6) and lastly, 
all the Alvars flourished during the pannmic period, 
that is between A. D. 550 and 950, when temples in 
honour of the Brahmanic deities, Vishnu and Siva, 
were being built in all the Tamil districts. 



The home-speech of about seven millions of people 
in Southern India is Malayalam. It is at present an 
important language of the Dravidian family ; and yet, 
the exact relationship which it bears to the other 
members of that family is a subject of some hot dis- 
cussion among ihe Dravidian scholars. The solu- 
tion of this problem is not an easy matter. Unless 
one has made, an historical study of the Tamil and 
Malayalam languages his conclusion must remain for 
ever vague and indecisive. Some scholars believe it 
to be a sister of Tamil like Telugu or Kanarese, others 
regard it as a highly developed dialect of old Tamil, 
while a few Indian scholars of Malabar are prone to 
think that it is a dialect of Sanskrit and that it had 
nothing to do with Tamil from its very origin. The 
last^seems an extreme view prompted by a false sense 
of patriotism ;*and the subject is interesting and im- 
portant enough to deserve an examination at some 


The etymology of the term 'Malayalam' which pro- 
perly applies to the territory and not language, seems 
obscure. It does not occur either in early or mediae- 
val Tamil literature. The people of the West Coast 
call their home-speech as Malayazhma or Malayayma. 
These are compounds of two Malayalam or rather 
Tamil words mala, a ' mountain ' and dlam or dlma, 
' government'. The latter are verbal nouns formed by 
postlixing the noun terminations am (jyti) and ma or 
mai (s»ld) to the verb dl {^^) to rule. ' Azhma ' may 
be a mistake for * alma '. It is not right to accept the 
meaning that Malayalam is a *deep (=^teti)mountainous 

The Chera or Kerala country, called also the Malai- 
nadu and Malai-mandalam in Tamil and Malayalam 
works, was known to the early Greeks as Dimurike or 
Tamilakam and ' Kerobothros' or the Chera country, 
and to the mediaeval nationsjas * Malabar ' (Skt. Mala- 
var, Ar. Mala-barr) or the 'region of mountains.' From 
about the beginning of the sixteenth up to the early 
years of the last century, Tamil was known to 
Europeans as the ' Malabar ' language. But it has 
been considered by Western scholars as an instance of 
misapplication of the term 'Malabar' to Tamil. How- 
ever, I am inclined to think otherwise, though with 
reference to the present condition of the Malayalam 
language it might be an undue extension of its signifi- 
cation. When the term ' Malabar ' was first applied 
to Tamil by the early European travellers or 
missionaries there was not, as will be shown hereafter, 


much difference in the colloquial or rather the vulgar 
forms of the two languages, and they were justified in 
calling both as the ' Malabar ' language. 

The people of Kerala or Chera Desa in the third 
century called themselves Tamilar and even thought 
it proud to be known by that * sweet ' name as the 
following quotation will show : — 

siTiuQeup pi^s<ss)&& sesrs^th eSeas^iu^iM 
Qs^isi^lL® Qj<S!rpear &ssieij^LJ uSsi^ih. — Sil. 
The work which we have reviewed in the tenth 
essay is probably the earliest literary record relating to 
the Chera kings and their subjects whose home-speech 
was Tamil. And it might conveniently be taken as 
containing the origins of the Malayalam language. 
Another Tamil work of about the same period is the 
Ainkurunuru or the * Five short Hundreds'. It was 
written by live different poets of the Kerala country 
and compiled under the orders of the Chera king 
Yanaikkat-chey-Mandaram-Seral-Irum-porai. A third 
work of greater importance, but belonging almost to 
the same period is Silappadikaram. It was composed 
by Ilango-Adikal. a younger brother of the Chera 
king Senguttuvan, and forms one of the five 
Tamil major epics. All these teem with ' Malabaricms ' 
or usages peculiar to Malayalam, but which are consi- 
dered as slang or provincialisms in pure Tamil. Words 
like 6p&)eorr (must not), Quir^^ (he-buffalo), <5s>siQ@iih 
or 6a)«/^?sw (camp), euilisf. (basket), &c., which occur in 
these Tamil works of the Kerala country, are still 


current in the spoken language of Malabar and Tra- 
vancore when they had become obsolete in Tamil. 
The later Tamil authors of Kerala were Aiyanarita- 

nar, Cheraman Perumal and Kulasekara Perumal- 
Aiyanaritanar flourished about the seventh or 
eighth century A. D, He was a prince of the 
Chera dynasty and wrote a treatise on grammar 
entitled the 'Venba-Malai,' The other two were 
kings of Malabar and flourished during the eighth 
or ninth century. For their literary remains we 
must refer the reader to the eleventh 'Tirumurai, ' 
of the Saivas, to Mr, Govinda Pillai's ' History of 
Malayalara Literature' and to our chapter on the Alvars. 
It must, however, be pointed out here that the propor- 
tion of Sanskrit words in the early Tamil works of 
the Chera country, namely, Ainkurunuru, Paditrup- 
pattu, Silappadikaram and Venbamalai is compara- 
tively very small, while in the later writings of the 
Kerala saints— Cheraman and Kulasekara — it is percep- 
tibly higher, mainly owing to Brahmanical influence. 
Kulasekara was also a Sanskrit poet. The latest 
Tamil poet who, according to a current tradi- 
tion, visited Kerala and lectured on the Rama- 
yana before large audiances was the famous 
Kamban (A. D. 1145-1205). Lectures in Tamil on 
the Ramayana were evidently popular and much 
appreciated in Kerala during this period, and 
it is interesting to note that even today Kambaramaya- 
nam is recited and commented upon by special mins- 
trels or a class of wandenng preachers, The first works 


in the early Malayalam language are accordingly the 
' Ramacharitram ' and the ' Ramayanam ' which are 
more after the model of Kamban's great work. 

In ancient Tamil literature Chera or Kerala is in- 
variably spoken of as a Tamil country; and from the 
Tolkapyain it might be inferred that this kingdom had 
at least seven Nadus or provinces, namely — Venadu, 
Puzhinadu, Karka Nadu, Sitanadu, Kuttanadu, Kuda 
Nadu and Malayama Nadu, in all of which Kodum or 
vulgar Tamil was spoken. In later Tamil literature 
Malabar, Travancore and Cochin are called Malainadu 
or Malai-mandalam. Hence the Chera kings were also 
called Puzhiyan, Kuttuvan, Kuda-Nadan, Malayaraan 
and Kolli-chilamban (Lord of the Kollimalais). For 
sometime the Kongu country (Salem and Coimbatore 
districts) was under them, and hence the people of 
the country were known also as Kongans. Two Tamil 
inscriptions in a Jain temple on the Tirumalai hill 
inform us that Adigaman Ezhini of Tagadur (Salem 
district) belonged to the Chera or Vanji family. Sita- 
Nadu is the Nilgiris and it is needless to say that it 
was within the Chera dominion. 

The names of villages in Malabar and Travan- 
core which have sufhxes like, seri, iir, angadi (a 
bazar), hodu or kod (summit of a hill), kadii or 
kad (a forest), tod or tottam (a garden or canal), padi, 
karai, hirai, knlam, knricchi, kalam, vayal, erl, pattii, 
ktmdu, tali, irnppUy &c., are all pure Tamil words and 
indicate that they were originally built and occupied 
by the Tamils. The names of Malabar villages like 


Mel (west or upper)-muri, A/e/-attur, Ja^m^V-kadu, and 
Kazhaui-'^d.vd.mb'a. support the theory that the ancient 
inhabitants of Kerala were Tamil Dravidians. Again, 
from the existence of Tamil words kizhakku (east) and 
merku (west) in the Malayalam language, Dr. Cald- 
well argues that ' the Malayalam is an off.shoot from 
Tamil, and that the people by whom it is spoken 
were originally a colony of Tamilians'. This argu- 
ment confirms beyond a shadow of doubt the Tamil 
origin of the Malayalam people, though it seems to 
Mr. Logan fanciful and ingenious. Prior to the fifth 
or sixth century A. D. the Tamil words (^eaari^, 
(5L_i@j (aji_<5(5 and Q^/b(^ expressed the four direc- 
tions, while Sli^d(^ and Qmp(^ then meant 'down- 
ward ' and ' upward.' In all these the particle © is a 
dative case termination meaning ' direction.' Later 
on @ssari@ and @£_i(5 became classical or used 
only in literature, and their place was taken by 
Qipsi^ and Qiop^ which acquired that significance 
with reference to the position of the Tamil country 
lying east of the Western Ghauts. Notwithstanding 
the strikingly reverse configuration of the modern 
Malayalam and Tamil countries, the Tamil word 
@Lps(^ has come to denote the 'east ' on both sides of 
the Ghauts and in both languages. This is no doubt 
an anomaly and can be explained only by accepting 
that the early inhabitants of the Malayalam country 
were Tamil immigrants from the East coast districts. 
The word QiDp(^ has, however, retained in Mala- 
yalam its ancient Tamil meaning ' upward ', and its 


modern significance is expressed by a Tamil com- 
pound Liu^-i^rTuSI^ or the ' setting sun.' Doubting the 
correctness of Dr. Caldwell's argument Mr. Logan 
suggests that the terms Qtpi(g and Qio/bcg were coined 
with reference to the rise and setting of the sun. 
This seems to be very ingenious, because, if that had 
been the case, the words for 'east' and 'west' should be 
cognates and found in all the Dravidian languages; 
and the necessity to coin a compound Tamil word 
padi-jnayiru in Ithe place of a simple one, merkii,. 
should never have been felt by the early inhabitants of 

Among the towns of the West coast Tondi (modern 
Kadalundi), Mandai, Musiri and Vanji occur 
frequently in early Tamil literature. Tondi was 
a famous sea-port and capital of a division of the 
Chera country ruled by Poraiyan, while Vanji 
or Karur was the metropolis of the other division ; 
Musiri (Gr. Mouziris) was a famous emporium of the 
West and centre of the pepper trade in India. The 
following quotations from ancient Tamil literature 
will be found interesting -. — 

(1) Qs^iiiQsrr/b, (^LLQeuanQ^'emL^. — Ain, 178. 

(2) s<s\)ih^i^ QufT puiBs^iiy SL^^Q^rrsBsfl luit pS'SSi(TQsrri(^lB^ 
in'^eo^^rTJQpik} su.pQTfnQp(s^ ^^suiJOuuJ^ (SUQ^iBjb^uLjib 
Hi5Si6\)iS)seir eSesiQuir&diB^nir (^LL®<sijeor ^ (TpLp'a(gSL—esr 
QPlfisS&sr Qpsr^. — Pur. 343. 

(3) ^uj i)(S pas (^iLQisum- euQ^L^ssreO eunuiSeoein^Q. — Pat. 3. 

The above are cities of commercial and political 


importance. Tamil religious literature is replete with 
descriptions of Hindu shrines visited by the Saints, 
who composed on the spot hymns about them. 
Among the towns of religious celebrity come first 
Gokarnara and Tirucchengunrur (near Quilon). 
These are seats of famous Siva shrines which were 
visited by the Tamil saints Appar and Sambandar in 
the seventh century. Tiruvanjaikulara seems to be a 
later one, because only one saint, Sundarar, a con- 
temporary of the Chera king Cheraman Perumal 
sang of it. Among the Vaishnava shrines of the 
Tamil-Malayaiam country Tirumuzhikalam, Tiru- 
navoy, and Tiruvallavazh, were visited by Tirumangai 
Alvar about A.D. 750 ; Nammalvar (A.D. 920) men- 
tions in addition to these Trivandram, Tiruvan- 
parisaram, Tirukatkarai, Tirupuliyur, Tiruchengunrur, 
Tiruvanvandur, Tiruvattaru, Tirukkadittanam and 
Tiruvaranvilai. Kulasekhara Perumal has sung only 
Vittuvakkod. The Vishnu shrine at Tiruchengunrur 
could have come into existence only after the time 
of Tirumangai Alvar, that is after A. D. 750. 

This last town which was built on the Chittar 
river was an important Brahman settlement in the 
days of Nammalvar (A- D- 920) wherein, as described 
by him, 3,000 Brahmans lived. — ^miri^ 9iT QfisunaSiTeuiT 
Q&j^lLutTiseiT ;Sihu^ (VIII, iv. 10.) We have therefore 
every reason to believe that the Nambudri i (or Na- 
mbi-sri, Nambi-tiru or Nambi, Tamil ulclSI meaning 'a 

1. Compare ^LJoi^rrireisr which has become in Malayalam 
^thi^iriTeiir and ^tJounmLi^. 


noble man') Brahmans settled in Malabar and Tra- 
vancore between the sixth and eighth centuries of the 
Christian era. According to Keralolpatti, a mythologi- 
cal account of the Malayalam country composed pro- 
bably by a Nambudri Brahman during the eighteenth 
century, Brahmans were brought down by Parasu- 
rama from the Punjab and made to settle first at 
Gokarnam in South Kanara, where they were made 
to shave their hind lock and to grow it on the front, 
perhaps as it is said, to prevent their going back to 
their origmal home. But we learn from other sources 
that this king was Mayurasarma — the founder of the 
Kadamba family and not Parasurama. 

The date of Mayuravarma is about the early part 
of the sixth century. The Namburi Brahmans must, 
therefore, have settled in and around Gokarnam, 
during this period and their migration to the south 
from this centre must have taken place during the 
sixth and seventh centuries. The example of Mayu- 
ravarma was followed by the Chola and Pandya kings 
of the time, who invited small colonies of Brahmans 
now known as the Soliya Brahmans. 

But this does not mean that there were abso- 
lutely no Brahmans in the Tamil country before the 
sixth century. 

The country was deeply plunged in Buddhism 
and Jainism. The non-Brahman Saivas and Vaish- 
navas, of course instigated by the few Brahmans,^ 
were contending against these religionists. There 
were not many Brahman religious institutions ; 


nor were there many powerful inducements for 
Brahmans to migrate to the south. Politically the 
Tamil countries were in a state of turmoil. The 
Kalabhras, the Kadambas, the Pallavas, the Chalu- 
kyas, the Cholas, the Pandyas and the Cheras were 
fighting with one another. Religion suffered from 
the ills of political unrest. There was no definite 
state religion ; each king professed the religion which 
suited liis whims and caprices. Better days dawned 
during the seventh century when Brahmanism, i^e., 
the cult of Siva and Vishnu, came out triumphant in 
the religious struggle. The Tamil countries became 
more or less quiet. And the very Brahmans who 
had served as messengers and domestic servants 
under the wealthy Dravidians, as now, became priests 
and 'purohits to the Tamil kings, thus securing for 
themselves a wider influence in the countrj'. All 
these led to the construction of a large number of 
temples to Siva and Vishnu, and to the invitation of 
more Brahmans from the Aryavarta during the 
seventh and the early part of the eighth century A. D. 
for purposes of worship in temples and to serve as 
purohits to Dravidians. 

These Brahmans have since been known honori- 
fically as ' Nambis ' in all the three Tamil coun- 
tries — Chera, Chola and Pandya — in contradistinc- 
tion to later Brahman immigrants usually styled as 
'Bhatta.' The former wear the tuft of hair in front, 
while the latter keep it at the back of their head. 
They are called the Purva-sikhai or Puraschudakula 


Brahmans. All the Brahman saints — Vaishnava and 

Saiva — and some of the Brahman ministers under 

the ancient Tamil kings belonged to this Purva- 

sikhai or the ' front-locked' Brahmans. The early 

Tamils were indebted to them for their civiHsation, 

which developed steadily under the influence of 

the later Brahman immigrants from the north. 

These later immigrants who were specially invited 

by Tamil kings from the middle of the eighth 

century downwards, kept themselves distinct as a 

class and formed no social alliance with the Dravi- 

dians. They, therefore, came to be considered superior 

to the Nambis, Narabudris i or the Soliya Brahmans. 

Most of the land grants to the Bhatta or the later 

colony of Brahmans belong to this period. The early 

or Narabi Brahmans seem to have entered the 

Tamil-Malayalam districts from the north-west, 

while the Bhatta or later Brahmans appear to have 

taken the southern route through the Telugu country 

When the Nambudri Brahmans settled in Kerala 

the country was not unmhabited. All the lands were 

not wholly theirs, nor were they the solejeiimis ; and 

we see no special reason why it should be so only in 

Kerala when such has not been the case in the Tamil 

or Telugu country. From the Paditruppattu. we 

learn that the Chera kings lavished presents upon 

Tamil poets and Brahmans of Malabar and Travan- 

1. It is said that the Cherumars called the Narabudris as 
♦ Chovvar' which may be a corruption of Sabhaiyar or Savaiyar a 
name usually applied to the ordinary or plebeian Brahmans of the 
Tamil districts. 


core. Imayavarman is said to have given 500 
villages in the district of Umbarkadu to the Brahman 
poet Kannanar ; Senguttuvan the revenues of Umbar- 
kadu to Paranar ; Selvakkadunko all the country 
within his view from the top of the hill Nanra to poet 
Kapilar ; vi^hile another king gave a portion of his 
country to Kappiyanar. How could then such 
enormous land grants be made, had the country been 
the exclusive property of the Nambudri Brahmans ? 
Moreover, all these had occurred before the Nambis 
or Nambudris settled in Malabar and Travancore. 
The fact seems to be that the whole Kerala country 
belonged to its kings, and they had a right to dispose 
of it as they pleased. And out of reverence to 
learned Brahmans, whom^ they brought from Upper 
India from time to time, lands were granted free ot 
tax as Brahmadayam for their maintenance. 

But the total neglect of the native Tamil litera- 
ture by the Dravidian inhabitants of Kerala, their 
general ignorance and their respect for Nambudri 
Brahmans gave the latter an undue advantage which 
in course of time showed itself in the Nambudri's 
exclusive ownership to all the Kerala country. 
And to support ihe theory of their ownership, the 
Nambudris even fabricated false traditions. 

The Chera, like the Chola and Pandya countries, 
was inhabited by all the early Tamil tribes and 
castes. The identity of some of these minor 
Malabar castes with those that occur in the 
inscriptions of Rajaraja Chola (A. D. 985 — 1013) 


has been noticed before, Of the remaining castes 
of Kerala, the numerically most important are 
the Nayars, the Tiyans, the Iluvans and the Cheru- 
mans, none of which are now to be found in the east, 
though the names of villages like Vellancheri, Ida- 
cheri, Ayancheri, Valayanad, Parayancheri and Palli- 
puram in the Kunimbranad, Vailuvanad, Ponnani 
and other taluks of the Malabar district clearly prove 
that Kerala was once inhabited solely by the Tamils. 
Then, how did these castes come into existence and 
how are they ethnically related to the corresponding 
castes of the Tamil districts ? 

About a thousand or more years ago ail the modern 
Tamil castes were not in existence; the Tamil people 
were divided into tribes according to the nature of the 
soil in which they lived and the conventional tribal 
names like the Vellalas, Maravas, Idaiyans, Mallars, 
Pallars, and Kuravas survive to this day in the Tamil 

The word Nayar, like Vellala which includes a 
large number of cultivating castes, is a vague name, 
The present Nayar caste has grown by the gradual 
accretion to it of Chakkan (oil-presser), Vaniyan 
(trader or oil-monger), Eruman or Kol-ayan (Tamil 
shepherd), Kanisan and Panikkan (sub-division of the 
Tamil Iluvans), of Pallichan and Urali (Tamil 
Pallis), and lastly of the Vellala castes. Among 
the important sub-divisions of Nayars, 'Sudran' has no 
meaning ; Agattucharna and Purattucharna are only 
later innovations introduced after Hyder's invasion. 


Attikkuricchi i and Vattakadan are only territorial 
names, Kiriyattils alone seem to be the descendants 
of the pure Velirs or Vellaias 2 of the West Coast. 
As late as A. D. 1320 we find the Vellaias as the 
cultivating caste of Malabar. Thus, none of the an- 
cient Nayars are of Telugu extraction as believed by 
some scholars. 

The armies of the Chera kings were recruited from 
the people of the Kongu country who were a race of 
fine stalwart warriors: — (1) ir-irmusaL^^QsmEisfTQ^rrQeu ; 
(2) Q&i^n^p(^ ^a'^LpiTisffl (^nuSjb^'<f QfirL^mtoae^&sT p 
ea)LD,i^si!r Qsitesit Qs^isJS'SfnhQaiiLL(Sd siaaasuQuir uufrn^s 
seem QuitSlu Qs'iEi(^LL®isuesr. — Si I. xxix. 1-3. 

And this is confirmed by the fact that some of the 
feudal chieftains of Malabar and Travancore, like the 
Zamorin of Calicut, belonged to the Pogondan sub- 
division 01 the Coimbatore Idaiyans. 'Kunnala-kon', 
one of the titles of the Zamorin, is a pure Tamil ex- 
pression {kuriinila-kon) meaning ' chief cr king of a 
small country,' and * Konatiri ' or Konan-tiru, or 
konan is a title of the Idaiyans of Coimbatore, Madura 
and Tinnevelly districts. In Malabar, Idaiyans are 
called Kol-Ayan3 and Eruman (bu£falo-men) ; and 
these are among the sub-castes of Nayars. The name 

1. We are not convinced of the correctness of the etymology of 
' Attikurichi' from Sanskrit Asti bone, and Tamil kura to cut. 

2. The Cherumars or the natives of the soil address the Nayars 
as Ilankoil, which is precisely the same title as ' Ilankokkal ' given 
to the ancient Vellaias of the Tamil districts. 

3. Kol is a contraction uf 'GoUa' which is the name of the 
Telugu shepherd caste, while 'ayan' is that of Tamil Idaiyans. 



£niwm;i appears in the Tanj ore inscriptions of the e 
venth century. It is not surprising that the Tan 
Idaiyars are treated as a sub-caste of Nayars, when w 
find some of them elevated even to the rank of Ksha- 
triya Samantas. The Siviyar (palankeen bearers) and 
the Agattu-Charna sub-divisions of the Tamil Idaiyani 
caste are note- worthy, as affording a connecting Hnk 
between Ihem and the Samantas and Nayars of Mala- 
bar. The words (^^-^f and ©i—To/ and Sli—rriis&r, which in 
the Tamil districts signify the 'young ones of cattle', 
denote in Malabar 'children.' This shows that the 
Idaiyars held a dominant place in the constitution of 
the Nayar and the Samanta castes, Idaiyans, especi- 
ally of the Kongu country, had their own chieftams 
and they were good cavalry men. They contributed 
soldiers and commanders to the Chera army after the 
conquest of the Kongu country by the Chera kings 
about the first or second century. 

an&i)<su&> L\iT(sS ojeemi—QirnLLis^. — Pad' 88. 
(Defeated the Idaiya chieftains who opposed him 
and routed the Idaiyans of the swift-footed cavalry.) 
The word Cheruman or Chituvan means a small 
man, and the Cherumans were really so in compari- 
son with the robust Kongu Idaiyans and Vellalas 
who constituted the Nayar or the Nayakar caste. In 
a Malayalam deed of 1523 A.D. the name of this caste 
appears as Valli-Alar or Valli-Sattanmar, but not as 

1. It will be curious to observe that in one sub-caste of Idaiyans 
in the Madura district, called the Pendukku -mekki, the Marumak- 
kattayara law of inheritance is followed. 


nerumars. ' Valli ' seems to be a mistake iui 'Villi', 
■'^ome interesting sub-divisions of this agrestic tribe, 
ike Eralan (ploughmen), Idangai (left-hand), 
Kaladi (irrigators), Pallan, Paraiyan, Rolan (Irulan or 
Villi), VaJluvan and Vettuvan are found among the 
Tamil Pallans also. Moreover, the customs and 
manners of these tribes both in Malabar and the Tamil 
districts, including their laws of inheritance, agree 
so completely that one might conclude that the 
Cherumas and Pallans belonged to one and the same 
tribe of Naga-Dravidian field labourers and soldiers. 
As for the Tiyans and lluvans of Kerala, the latter 
of whom are found in the Tamil districts as well, 
we feel some difficulty. Whether they are strangers 
or autochthones to Southern India it is not possible 
to discuss here. That the great numerical strength 
of the Tiyans of Malabar as well as their homogene- 
ous nature seem strictly to point to the latter. 
Further, the oxogamous groups of the North Malabar 
Tiyans and the Izhavans of Madura and Tinnevelly 
are called illams, and one of the former goes by the 
name of Pazhayar which is a Tamil word meaning 
* toddy drawers '. A note on Tiyan has, however, 
been appended to this volume and it will give some 
interesting facts concerning this question. We need 
not go further into this problem of ethnical affinity 
between the peoples of Kerala and the two other an- 
cient Tamil provinces. None of the early Malabar 
castes had any connection whatever with the 
Telugus, as is believed in some quarters. 


H cii all (here is any Indian province in which \itt\e 
or no real archaeological work is done, it is Kerala^ 
Besides the publication of a few copper-plate grants 
and some stone inscriptions at irregular and long 
intervals of time by Burnell, Gundert, P. Sundram 
pillai and others, no systematic explorations have yet 
been made and no regular epigraphicali researches 
undertaken. With the very few materials at our 
disposal we shall attempt to trace the growth of the 
Malayalam language. 

Some scholars seem to think that the copper plate 
grants from Malabar should not be utilised for 
tracing the growth of the Malayalam language, 
as the grants are in Tamil and the donors 
were Perumals or kings of foreign extraction, 
invited by the .-iumbudri Brahmans to rule the 
Kerala country They are also of opinion that the 
colloquial Malayalam was quite distinct from the 
language of inscriptions and that * the early poets of 
(Malabar) were no doubt much affected by influence 
of the early Tamil poets, who formed a literary 
school and developed a court language'. The 
difference between the literary Tamil and the 
colloquial Tamil— a difference due certainly to the 
antiquity of its literature and the settled form of the 
language— cannot be a reason for the disparity between 
the colloquial language and the language of public 
documents. For, while literature, chiefly classical 

1. In Travancore the archreological Department seems to be. 
doing useful work under the direction of Mr. Gopinatha Rau, M. A. 


literature, is intended only for the educated few, 
copper-plate grants, stone inscriptions and similar 
public records are meant for all classes. A com- 
parison of the inscriptions of Rajah Raja Chola 
(A. D. 985-1013) with the literature of that period 
would illustrate the above principle. The Kerala 
inscriptions cannot be an exception to this plain 
philological truth. Moreover, how are we authorized, 
in the absence of any work written in the colinquial 
Malayalam of that period, to say that the colloquial 
Malayalam was quite distinct from the language 
of inscriptions ? Do the Malayalis really possess 
any literature anterior to the tenth century 
A. D. written in the so-called Malayalam language ? 
If at all there be any record written in colloquial 
Malayalam it must be the inscriptions. 

As for the Perumals being foreigners to Kerala, we 
might say that, till about the ninth century A. D., 
some at least of the Kerala kings were foreigners, 
because they inherited the Kerala throne by right of 
succession in accordance with the Marumakkatayam 
law, but they were never mvited by the Nambudri 
Brahmans as these would have us believe, in order to 
enhance their importance and establish their authority 
in the Kerala country. On the contrary, many Chola 
and Pandya kings married Kerala princesses and their 
sons became lawful heirs to the Kerala kingdom : — 

(1) QisQ^emQ'SareSlajii^QjpQsTnF^ihetS)^ 

to eisT pLD3>iir Qunseipojasr Qu^iQ^uS'esr/DiDsesr 
Qfs\)Qjas(SiiB(DaiTiduiTL^!ijrT^ek. — Pad. 70, 


(2) (^L^QjirQaTLDT Qis5r(S(ir) Qs^sr&ta^ p(^^ 

(3) The Chola king Parantaka I (A. D. 907-946) 
married a Kerala princess. 

(4) Kulasekhara Pandya took with him ... all the 
forces of the two Kongu countries that belonged to 
his mother's two brothers. — Mahawanso, 239. 

Matrimonial alliances among the three Tamil 
dynasties seem to have continued until about the 
down-fall and extinction of the ancient Pandya and 
Chola houses between the 11th and 13th centuries, 
when the influence of the Nambudri Brahmans 
began to extend even into the Kerala royal house- 
holds. The latest alliance of this kind was between 
Ravivarma alias Kulasekhara and a Pandya princess 
in A.D. 1299. This Kerala king defeated Vira Pandya 
and was crowned on the banks of the Vaiga. He 
ruled over Kerala, Pandya and Chola countries till 
about 1316. Probably this was the period when 
the communication between Kerala and the other two 
Tamil countries began to decline ; and this was the 
period when the Nambudri Brahmans laid the foun- 
dation stone for the ill-planned tottering edifice of 
the Malayalam tongue, by their closer touch with the 
Nayar and other high caste Dravidian families. 

The statement that the early Malayalam poets were 
affected by the early Tamil poets seems rather surpri- 
sing, the term 'early' not referring to the same age, as 
both are of unequal antiquity. Malayalam had scarce- 


ly any literature worth the name before the middle 
of the thirteenth century, whereas Tamil literature 
dates from the opening years of the Christian era. 
Tamil has a grammar written three centuries before 
Christ, whereas Malayalam had none till so late as 
A. D. 1860. Tamil, at least the literary phase of it, 
had been well defined and formed two millenniems 
ago, while Malayalam is even to-day in a state of for- 
mation. It is inconceivable, therefore, how the early 
Malayalam literature could have been influenced by 
the early Tamil poets, particularly when we remem- 
ber that all social intercourse between Kerala and the 
Tamil country had ceased at least one century before 
the birth of the Malayalam literature, unless it be 
that early Tamil literature was the literature of the 
early people of Kerala also'. 

The statements of Dr. Caldwell that the separation 
of Malayalam * from Tamil evidently took place at a 
very early period, before the Tamil was cultivated 
and refined', and that Tamil 'bids fare to supersede the 
Malayalam' are thus opinions which need stronger 
evidence before they could be accepted. 

Returning now from our digression to the copper- 
plate grants of Malabar, we find in the Mamballi in- 
scriptions of Sri Vallavan Kodai (A. D. 973) the lan- 
guage used is pure colloquial Tamil interspersed with 
a few Malabaricms like esarsrr for ^&r<sfr, s^fsitsiirek for 
s'lsisiTssr, sji-LD for ^i—ld &c. Verbs are inflected as in 
^iLL^sQsiTiS^^iTesr 1 ; and the datives of =gy(3o^ and 
1. The word jfjLLi^ in the expressions ^LLi^dQsfT(S^^e\) and 


jt/sum as =gy(i^^OT2;i@ and ^sums(^ but not as ^Qp^im^ 
and j)j<sijm^ as now. And in the Kottayam plates of 
Vira Raghava Chakravarti (A. D. 1320) the language 
is also Tamil freely intermixed with Malabar idioms 
like eurr^eo for eijrruS6\)^ uisL(^(^rT^ for ut^(^rruS gii , spsirsfr 
and e^smL^iTuiSleo for p-en-'Sir and ^owl-ZtSsu, ^(i^iiidn^sfr for 

^(75«^0(3»r, <srQ^iBis&!Bifl for sjQp.i^Q^&fl &c. ; and verbs 
were still inflected. We find also caste names like 
Qsv<sir'SfnTsfnT, ff-Lpsuir, gis^a^rt and '^'uh. All these will be 
made more clear in the following section which 
deals with the linguistic evidence of the growth 
of the Malayalam language. 

To illustrate the development of the Malayalam 
language and the peculiarities of each period of its 
growth, typical selections are given below from Panik- 
kar's Ramayanam, Krishna-gatha, Adhyatma Ramaya- 
nam and Nala Charitam, each of which may be taken 
as representing a particular period in the growth of 
the Malayalam language together with short expla- 
natory and philological comments: — 

(1) G)siT6aaru.&Si(cidrfl(7Fi6m(S ^fQ^em® luefsoiQi^rrefft'SuniTii^ 
^likiiBjLD, (^i^etruiTrrQiDn® QpS)6\>(^s\)^,s)i— iAliBiss\)(currQs\)^ Ljsm 

^iLi^uQugti 's "ot correctly understood in Malabar. The Mala- 
bar Gazetteer explains jijLLts^uQugii (attiperu) as ' a parcel of 
rights'. Prof. Wilson thinks that atti is the less accurate reading 
of otti (s?^^) a mortgage. I think both are incorrect. Atti is a 
pure Tamil word meaning ' poured' and it corresponds to the Skt. 
Udagapurvam. Attiknduttal is to give by pouring water and atti 
pent is the acceptance of a gift made as above. During the 17th 
century its exact meaning was, however, forgotten and the redun- 
dant expressions like iQ a iT(B3f^is/. ^iLu^uQugjiuD ii(iT)ih Qsir®^ 
^ftasT came into use. 


■fiTiT^^ SibQi5it0 Qisj^^-f Q<fii&ieSliBfrm 
lieossiTiT QeusasftLDiT QrreoeotrCSirrrQui. 
euiTUJLJurriTih^ Sk^siiiar siriruuirewth QsiTeasi®m str 
a^n uuiretvih QiniSiiS&) Q^it^Q^uQuitq^ld. 
(3) ^(nj>uSlauD sl3 s^rriLDtrir QurrssmiD 
e^Qnit^&UL^ fsiTiLisiB LDrrQiriTQu). 

airQsi^ QfiQ'SuS^ sesarQ sSero ldujiJdlissb' l^h sir . 

(g)^!i iTiT^QfBuQurTQe\} u ^ p<omea a ^Q ^a L- ^ 

QufT^^QuDiri iS&isSi £iSQu.<sa6saiLDrT(Sfr 

^IT^^ iBi—S(^tJD euesaru^is s^nir ^^ld (^uSeo (geOenLn 

^QaiistTe^ii) asi^uurrSS ^UfTiwQTjQLDrt (cS(em(ct3ir. 
The first quotation is from the Rjimayana of Kan- 
nassa Panikkar (A. D. 1350). It does not appear 
that there was any real literature in Malayalam before 
this period. The language of this work is wholly 
Tamil, with of course Malayali pecuHarities. In this 
extract (^i^sfrumriM and qsmi—i^Qs'Si^emeisr are the onlv 
two Sanskrit compounds, and the rest are all Tamil 
words. The grammatical terminations ^ebr^ s?®, ^^^, 
^eiT and the tense particles are all Tamil. And the 
only Malayalam usages are euiriri^ for eunirih^, @i_ for 
@6a5i_, QuaQeo for Qune\) and ^ifiQs for j)j((f,Qs ; and 


^lEits^uD (dense, thick) is only a vulgar form of Tarn. ^^}t 
ii^. Most of the Tamil words used in this extract, 
which are still current in Tamil, have become obsolete 
in Malayalam giving way to words of Sanskrit origin. 
Here the verbs are always inflected and the practice 
of dropping the personal endings has not yet come 
into existence. It is a translation of a Sanskrit work 
and Sanskrit words and expressions are freely used to 
the extent of about 50 per cent, though the grammar 
is throughout Tamil. On account of these peculiar- 
ities which bring it closer to Tamil, the author has 
been styled by Malayalam scholars rightly, perhaps 
wrongly, the Chaucer of Malayalam literature. 

The second extract is from the Krishnappattu of 
Cherusseri Namburi (A. D. 1550). The author uses 
only one Sanskrit word [Qeues!^) in the first quotation, 
which is written in pure colloquial Tamil. The only 
Malayalam peculiarities are ^mQm- for ^sarSisw, ^iiisj 
for jijiki(^ and Qs^nios^i^'sir for Qs=!t^(SS)&t. A Tamilian 
may not use <=gyt£^ and Qs^uaQto in poetry, because 
they are colloquial and considered slang in Tamil. 
In the second passage, the writer uses two Sanskrit 
words s!TiTuurTerui}){cotton) and s^iruuirewi (coat), which 
no Tamil writer will ordinarily use. The rest are 
Tamil words, some being slightly modified. sruQuiTQffih 
is sTuQuTQfi^ixi, ^iri^ is ^iri^. Though the 
author w^as a Brahman Sanskrit scholar he has not 
used so many Sanskrit words as Kannassa Panikkar, 
because the work was primarily intended for females 
and ordinary readers. The Krishnagatha is written 


in the colloquial Tamil or a Tamil dialect of the 
Kerala country known as Malayalam. In this work 
verbs are mostly inflected, while neuter verbs have 
invariably dropped their inflexional terminations. 
The clipping of personal endings in verbs must have 
already commenced during the early part of the 16th 
century. And the forms of T amil words used here 
are mostly those that we find in the vulgar conversa- 
tion of the uneducated Tamilians. Q.fuS.fSf- for 
Qs'iLsSl^^, us^Qs^iTi—Lb for u-femfuut—LDy Qeii^ii&n<5w for 
Qsu^jiGiLDsirp &c. He has largely used colloquial 
Tamil words like =sv@<9r«, lds^s!', LnnLg., Q^&snsmeo, 
Qssua;L, ^^oblh, &c. which have become obsolete in 
modern Malayalam. The dative case in sototj; or is^ 
has also come into usage along with other Tamil 
grammatical forms. The author is now gratefully 
remembered by all the non-Brahman classes of 
Kerala as the pioneer of liberal education ; he was 
the first Brahman who wrote for the benefit of the 
Sudra castes in their own tongue, the Malayalam, 
in spite of the fact that the Nambudris despised 
their dialect ; and he is justly called the ' Morning 
Star' of modern Malayalam literature. 

The next author we have to consider is Tunjat 
Ezhuttachchan who flourished about A. D. 1650. All 
"his works are translations from Sanskrit, and he has 
freely used Sanskrit words and expressions, more 
abundantly than any other writer who preceded him» 
He was the first to use the Sanskrit case endings as 
in orodisi, sthalopante, and adverbs like ittham, Hi, 


pii7-a &c.; relative pronouns like tat, mat, tava, &c. He 
has even added Sanskrit case terminations to Tamil 
nouns as in ■^Qir, <^&i£Ql^ ; and locatives in ii^eo (cor- 
rectly, (H(5 + ^eo = in the place) make their 
first appearance. Awkward combinations of Sans- 
krit and Tamil words like &^^siiiJdl^^ amTQeusmeisslil, 
Qj<T^Q6ij6wQs'iLi±ii^ &c., and the arbitrary construction 
of Tamil words so as to obscure their derivations as 
in ^(giasjsjr, sTQ^iQiBsirsffl , s_^ujt®«, erQpi^jbgti, &c., were 
introduced by this writer. He followed no rules of 
grammar or vocabulary, because there was no 
grammar neither before nor after him in the Mala- 
yalam language. It is in his works that we find 
uninflected verbs largely used, though occa- 
sionally appear verbs with personal endings. It 
would be difBcult for any one to read his works with- 
out a good knowledge of Sanskrit. To him the study 
of Malayalam meant the study of Sanskrit. We might 
boldly say that Ezhuttachchan was the first Malayalam 
writer who gave a death blow to Tamil his mother, 
tongue. For this act of vandalism he is admired 
by the people of Malabar as the ' Father ol the 
Malayalam classical literature.' 

The latest writer we have to deal with is Unnayj 
Variyar who lived about A.D. 1750. His Nalacharitam 
is an admirable production. Though he was a good 
Sanskrit scholar like Ezhuttachchan, he has not spoilt 
his work by introducing into it too much Sanskrit. His 
setting of Sanskrit slokas is choice and his use of the 
Manipravala style is graceful. In the two passages 


given above there are only about half a dozen 
Sanskrit words, while the rest are pure Tamil. 
The negative particle ^, the case post-positions 
]^eo, ^m, ST or S, Qp (a.<sroi_aj) and verbal endings 
LDiTsk, unm, ^su (cgjsfr in G'«(63a;(2'sff) are all Tamil, In 
QLD(Si^isires)<es^Qsfr the particle «wsar is only a contraction 
of Qsinir), Sm^ or ^ssreoT- which is a sign of the 
present tense; similarly sototj/ is an abbreviation of ©sir 
ff)^. rhus if the Sanskrit passages are not taken intO' 
account, his vocabulary and the structure of his com- 
position are mainly Tamil. 

It may be assumed that grammar and dictionary 
tend to contribute to the fixity and permanence of a 
language. The early Tamil inhabitants of Kerala 
were mostly merchants, cultivators and soldiers , and 
they did not care for literary excellence or even to 
improve their mother-tongue. Nor did the later 
Malayalis care to write one, because the Dravidians 
were most of them uneducated and the Brahmans 
cared little for a Dravidian tongue. That work was 
reserved for a foreigner— Dr. Gundert, who was at once 
their Agastya and Divakara. Owing to the curious 
mixture of the agglutinative Tamil with the inflec- 
tional Sanskrit, the work of bringing out a satisfactory 
Malayalam grammar has become a super-human 
task. The language has not yet reached its classic 
stage; and it is still in a state of formation. Neither 
its grammar nor its vocabulary is settled; and the very 
fact that it still retains the peculiar Tamil letters ifi and 
P proves its very late separation from Tamil. 


Grammar : — To determine what words are of pure 
Tamil origin and what not, we have definite 
grammatical rules giving the letters which should 
come at the beginning, middle and end of words. 
This is not possible in the case of Malayalam which 
has freely borrowed words from Sanskrit and foreign 
languages and incorporated them in its vocabulary^ 

The coalescence of letters or sandhi in Malayalam, 
owing to the influence of Sanskrit, follows wholly 
neither the rules of Sanskrit nor of Tamil. Some- 
times the one, sometimes the other is followed, and 
in some cases neither. Sanskrit rules are sometimes 
applied to Tamil words. The expression sS&iQpiB(^- 
Q^frs=s=, if the Tamil rules are applied, must be 
eSlssi(ipfS<ir,(^(o)<suns'3' and Q3'fT^&>+ '^eoeo will become 
Qs'iTeoeiaSeoso and not Qs^rriosSeoeo, iior are they ac- 
cording to the Sanskrit rules. Lja)4- ^i_Lb will be in 
Tamil ueoeSt—m and not uQe\)i—Lh as in Malayalam. 
In the last example the Sanskrit rules are appli- 
ed to pure Tamil words. Many of the Tamil 
sandhis which existed in early Malayalam or Tamil 
have now become obsolete, as in sSssmt—eoiJD, sresati^ms', 

Qioppais) (now QiO^^Jih), Qurrpgui^ {Qurre\)^^)i^), &c. 

In Malayalam aar + # becomes @#=, is + s becomes 
tws, &r + ^ becomes sjr^^ or ^^, but these are not 
allowed by the Tamil rules of sandhi. The Malaya- 
lis cared more for ease and always tried to avoid 
difficulties instead ot facing them boldly. Hence, 
they have abbreviated several compounds : thus, 

Qfuj^ + Qsireirefr + ^ud has become Q'fuuQ^aefnTuD^ 


QsiJuuj + Qeiiem(BlLc = QfubQtju6m(Sy c^/E3@ + Seor^ + j)jisiiE/i^, 
Quas -j-Qeu6m®m = (oUiTssmLD and SO on. 

Most of the differences between Tamil and modern 
Alalayalam as regards grammatical endings and 
formation of words are attributable to this principle 
of laziness or phonetic decay ; and the dropping 
of personal suffixes in finite verbs is partly due 
to this cause and partly to their redundancy. In 
the Tamil sentence isnm ^i<i^(c^6w, either isfrem or sjosr 
in ^tsf-^Q^m may be safely omitted without impair- 
ing the idea expressed by that sentence. Thus, 
Malayalam may be said to be passing through, like 
English, the analytical stage. In Malayalam jtjisf.3=s? 
will be vague without the nominative which should 
be made explicit. 

From the early Malayalam literature, which 
extended down to the sixteenth century, we find that 
verbs were inflected, and that the pronominal termi- 
nations disappear in the succeeding two hundred 
years. In a Malayalam sale deed of 1756 A. D. 
expressions like STQp^sQssrrSl^^n-eisr and erQ^^s^^Qsireear 
i—!T<ssr were freely used. In the Tamil of the infant 
and the illiterate the idea of *I beat' is expressed even 
to this day by masr ^t^s^Qs^ (Cor. jijis^.^Q^'m)^ ' you 
beat ' i jtji^s^Qs^ (Cor. ^u^^^irdS), and ' he beat ' ^euear 
^^li<F/T (Cor. ^tsf.^^!T<ssr)_ Thus, the subjects ibtisst^ f§ and 
^QjsOT are clearly given out and the personal endings 
^6sr,^uj and ^dr are, as a rule, contracted or dropped. 
In the East coast, however, this Tamil of the popu- 
lace has been constantly subjected to corrections 


and modifications with reference to the approved 
literary Tamil of the learned section. The same 
process was certainly in operation among the 
early Tamils of the Kerala country who were 
mostly illiterates ; but since these grammatical and 
lexicographical forms were left unrestrained by 
any fixed rules, and since this process of phonetic 
decay was aided by the indifferent attitude of the 
Nambudri Brahmans who were quite ignorant of 
literary or classical Tamil, they had come to be even- 
tually accepted as correct usages in their later corrupt 
Sanskritized Tamil or Malayalani literature. 

This was how the personal terminations of Tamil 
verbs were dropped in Malayalam. There are yet 
some traces of verbal inflexions in the second person 
plural as in Q^.TaroS/sar and in the first person plural as 
in ^anui — we will give, &c. It is not, therefore, cor- 
rect to SHV, as some Malayalam scholars seem to assert, 
that there are no traces of inflexions in the colloquial 
Malayalam or that Malayalam verbs were never in- 

We may explain the vagaries of Malayalam language, 
which IS technically called the "levelling" of inflec- 
tions, and its grammar by taking one or two specific 
instances : — 

(1) riij^'S'S^ j^^isjseO ^(r^ik^..,^$l 

(2) ^d6^i(5«/5^ jSGfBiuiT^tftLDuiT, — Kcr, 

In the first quotation the termination *i^' serves 
different purposes ; i^ in ^(5/5^ is a modified form of 


Tamil .i^ (particle of past tense) ; i^ in ^^is^ is a 
contraction of 6k(g (dative case suffix) ; m^ in Qujis^ is an 
abbreviation of <sTesTjoi;2Hid i^ in Qs^treo^ni^ is a modi- 
fication of Qimpg), (^mear^ or a_«arg» (present tense). 
In the second example (^isfs^ is the same as Qsbtjd^, 
but here the neuter inflexional ending is retained. 
We have reasons to believe that the high-caste per- 
sonal endings in verbs were gradually dropped in 
Malayalam, the neuter endings taking their place 
regardless of gender; and these also in course of time 
disappeared. There are many such grammatical 
irregularities and fluctuations, but only a few are 
quoted here as illustrations. 

Vocabulary : — The same uncertainty exists in the 
matter of vocabulary also. It has no dictionary like 
the Divakaram and the Pmgalandai of Tamil or like 
the Amarakosh of Sanskrit. The following are some 
of the irregularities which might be noticed in the 
Malayalam vocabulary. 

(1) The same word is used in various forms. For 
example, the Tamil word «go(5 (areca-nut) appears in 
Malayalam as <4(jp« and seuwEi ; <s(t^@ (vulture) as sq^ 
ffly/5, sQps^ sQ^iBisj ; muSSgn (rope) as suu^ and sl^ss ; 
uQj)^^ (cotton) as uiFl^^ and uir^^l &c. 

(2) Words of different origin appear in the same 
form. Tamil s-qjit becomes ^j which is apt to 
be confounded with s^itld (margin) ; Tamil ^ivs/s 
as sjia, while szi-sii means sighing ; Qqjs&oss (heat) 
as Qojs^ and saeuds (to put) also as Qeuds ; ^&ft 
is a ' temple' as well as to ' sprinkle' (Q^afi) &c., 



(3) Sometimes ^, p and ir are indiscriminately used 
as in j)\s^^s and sj^pM"^, ^pe^ and a_irei/ &c. This 
is very common in the vulgar Tamil of to-day- 

(4) Compounds are so contracted and joined to- 
gether that none of its component words can be iden- 
tified. Tamil Q^uj + iSsiap becomes in Malayalam 
Q^Qjp ; ji/dQ ^^iB is 'agnihotri', 'patteri' is 'Bhattasri' 

(5) Vowels which necessitate the use of the lips are 
usually changed or omitted; ^0 becomes ^(fl\ ^eear^ 

S-ffl (as in ?>-(flujn(Sl) ; ^Ss«, ^eo • ^.uSituli, e^irULj ; i-jpeii 
( pigeon) uiTfieii ; &c. 

(6) Probably for the same reason when two vowels 
of the same class come together either of them is 
altered. Thus sisn- becomes ©(SO)®/ ; si— it, Qc^ireij ; ueoir, 
lSsu/tq/, &c. In all these examples the final is short or 

(7) Sanskrit words when adopted are so far distort- 
ed by the Dravidian Malayalis that it would be diffi- 
cult to discover their correct forms: — chite is ' jata '; 
chattam, ' srarddham '; kotamba, ' godhuma '; chetu, 
' Sakatam'; chirta, ' Sridevi'; vakkanam, 'vyakyanam'; 
z;^/i, ' bali ' ; so forth. It cannot be ascertained on 
what principle mesham becomes niedam and vesham 
as vezham^ which in Tamil means an 'elephant'. The 
unnatural partiality of the Kerala people to Sanskrit 
has induced them to derive some pure Dravidian words 
from Sanskrit ; us^^eo or ua^&ouo ^'few (green leaf) ^is 
derived from Sanskrit patram; u>(S) or u)lL(B (honey) 
from Sanskrit madhu ; aom from Sanskrit mashi &c. 


(8) Surds in most cases are changed into nasals. 

(5(55© becomes @@g^ ; <^ssigii, (^m^ ; ibitwlj, (s^itldli ; 

U(G5(G^ ;'&C. 

This change is noticeable in the early Tamil works 
of the Chera poets. Malayalam has a softer and 
more nasalized sound than Tamil- And this may be 
due to the climatic conditions in the Kerala country, 
which has an unusual rain-fall of 116 inches in a 
year. The peculiarities of the Malayalam language 
may be stated curtly thus : • it is the home-speech of 
a Brahman-oppressed Dravidian race, whose vocal 
organs were affected by an incessant cold'. Highly 
cultivated languages like Sanskrit or Tamil are always 
free from such confusions which characterize the 
lower stages of a human speech. 

We shall conclude this short essay with a state- 
ment of the circumstances which led to the origin 
of the Malayalam language. It must not be difficult 
to determine them as the change has taken place 
within the past six or seven hundred years. 

(1) Tne natural facilities for communication bet- 
ween the East and the West coasts of the Indian 
Peninsula were very little. The lofty ranges of the 
Western Ghats, with only a few passes between, and 
the impenetrable and extensive forests down the 
sides cut off the two regions. 

(2) The marriage connections between the 
Chera and the two other Tamil dynasties had 
ceased partly on account of the extinction of the 


ancient line of the Pandyas in the twelfth and of the 
powerful Cholas in the thirteenth century, and partly 
owing to the wars of succession which resulted from 
a conflict of the ordinary and the nepotic laws of 
inheritance. The latest alliances on record are the 
marriages of the father of Kulasekhara Pandya. 
(A. D. 1190) with a Kongu or Chera princess 
and of ihe Chera king Ravi Varma or Kulasekhara 
(A. D, 1300) with a Pandya princess. To this 
should be added the union of the aggressive 
Nambudris with the Chera princesses to prevent 
foreign intervention in their social and political 

(3) The study of Tamil literature was neglected in^ 
the Chera country owing to the dominating influence 
of the Nambudri Brahmans, which kept the non- 
Brahman Dravidians of the country perfectly ignorant 
of their rich literature, and owing t(3 the extinction of 
the ancient Chera line of kings who patronized it. 

(4) The introduction of Judaism, Christianity and 
Muhamadanism direct from Western Asia at a very 
early period, the frequent internal troubles among the 
feudal chiefs of Kerala, and the constant wars be- 
tween them and the Pandyas and Cholas for nearly 
four centuries from the eighth gradually tended to 
diminish their intercourse. The Chola king Ko-Chen- 
gannan is said to have defeated the Chera Kanaikkal 
Irumporai and taken him prisoner. This forms the 
subject of ' Kalavali Forty ' of the poet Poigaiyar. 
During the middle of the eighth century the Pandya 


"king Parankusan or Ko-Maran Jatavarman defeated 
the Chera kings in a series of battles at Vilijnam, Pul- 
andai, Kottar, Chevur and other places. Ail these 
are mentioned by the commentator of Iraiyanar's 
Agapporal. We need not enumerate here the other 
wars in which the Cheras suffered defeat, as they are 
given in the South Indian Inscriptions. 

(5) The customs and manners of the Nambudri 
Brahmans and their sexual connection with the Su- 
dras, which in course of time spoiled both Sanskrit 
and Tamil, were looked upon with disfavour by the 
East Coast Brahmans or BJiattas, who always regard- 
ed the former as an mferior class on that account, 
though to a lesser degree than they did the Nambi 
or the 'front locked' brethren of their own country. 

(6) For this reason none of the later religious re- 
formers — Ramanuja, Madhva and others — did not 
care to introduce their reforms in Kerala. In a vast 
country of 14,250 square miles there were in the days 
of the Tamil Samts (650-950 A.D.) only one Siva 
shrine and thirteen Vishnu temples, whereas during 
the same period there were at least 300 temples dedi- 
cated both to Siva and Vishnu in a small area of 3,259 
square miles — we mean in the Tanjore district. 
Hinduism, as it was understood and practised in 
the North and East, was evidently at a great discount 
in Kerala during that period. Even now pilgrims 
from the Tamil land rarely visit these shrines in 
Malabar and Travancore, exceptmg one or two, as 
they are praciically unknown to Hindu devotees. 


(7) Last of all comes the climate of Kerala with its 
incessant rain throughout the year and its dampness 
and heat on account of the proximity of mountains, 
which make the country uninhabitable for the East 

Coast people. 

To summarize: Tamil, Vadugu(Telugu)and Karuna- 
tam (Canarese) are the only Dravidian languages which 
are mentioned in the early Tamil works. Malayalam as 
a distinct language does not'appear in any Tamil work 
anterior to the fifteenth century. From the fact that 
Tamil has not been influenced to such an extent 
like the other two, and that it alone has a grammar 
and literature from the earliest times, we have very 
strong reasons to believe that it is the oldest of the 
South Indian vernaculars. We are not prepared to 
accept the opinion of Mr. Rice that ' Kannada was 
the earliest to be cultivated of all the South Indian 
languages', as he himself says in another place that 
none of the extant works in Canarese go earlier than 
the ninth century. It is quite natural to scholars, 
who liavemade a special study of some particular ver- 
nacular, like Dr. Gundert, Mr. Logan or Mr. Rice to 
speak highly of it to the disparagement of the other 
languages of the same group. But to get a compa- 
rative estimate of them it would always be safer to 
follow the views of Dr. Caldwell, who has made a 
critical study of all the Dra vidian languages without 
any bias towards any one of that group. The 
map will explain graphically the order of migra- 
tion of the several Dravidian races and the decree 


of relationship among their languages. The gram- 
mar and vocabulary of Tamil and Telugu are quite 
different, and the age when they had parted from each 
other goes back to pre-historic times. These conside- 
rations would favour our regarding them as sister lan- 
guages. And the greater affinities of grammar and 
vocabulary which exist between the early Canarese 
and the early Tamil seem to point out that the for- 
mer was the first born daughter or rather the youn- 
gest sister of Tamil ; and this seems to receive an 
additional support from the fact that the northern 
limit of Tamil (Tirupati) whicli is bounded by Telugu 
has for the last two thousand years remained unal- 
tered, while its north-western boundary had even 
before the fifth century A. D> been encroached by 
Canarese from Dvarasamudram and Coorg down to 
the Coimbatore district. 

As regards MaUyalam which was scarcely in her 
womb prior to the thirteenth century, we might say 
without any fear of contradiction for the reasons set 
forth above, that it is the latest dialect of Tamil which 
has come largely under the influence of Sanskrit, It 
is to be observed that at no period in historic times 
Sanskrit was a spoken language, and it is most unlikely 
that it could have been so among a non-Aryan 
people as the inhabitants of Malabar and Travancore 
Many Sanskrit words and idioms they might have 
borrowed ; but both in genius and in structure Mala- 
yaiam remains, in spite of its Sanskritic saturation, a 
Dravidian tongue in close alliance with other chief 


non- Aryan languages of South India. And in the 
words of a Travancore statesman 'one could hardly 
help concluding that Malayalam is nothing more than 
old Tamil with a good admixture of Sanskrit words'; 
or, as Dr. Caldwell has said in one place, ' it might 
perhaps be regarded rather as a very ancient dialect 
of the Tamil than as a distinct language'. This must 
be the opinion of all impartial scholars, and it must 
no longer be a matter of dispute whether Malayalam 
s an " old and much altered off-shoot" of Tamil 
or its sister language, because it is evidently neither. 


A line drawn from Mercara on the west to Tirup- 
ati on the east marked the northern hmit of the 
ancient Tamil country; that portion of the Indian 
Peninsula to the south of this line, with the sea on 
the three sides was called per excellence the Tamil- 
akam or Dravida-desa. It was inhabited by three 
distinct races — the Nagas, the Dravidians and the 
Aryans. The non-Aryan Tamils belong to this great 
Naga-Dravidiati race. 

Evidence points to Nagas as the aboriginal inha- 
bitants of this country. They were divided into 
two sections — the earlier or the savage section, and 
the later or the semi-civilized section. The former 
belonged to the Negrito race and the latter to a 
mixed one. Apparently both migrated to India from 
the south when it was connected by land with 
Australia, the earlier tribes being driven to the 
interior hills and forests and the later immigrants 
occupying the east coast from Cape Comorin to 
Vizagapatam and extending as far as Nagpur in the 
Central Provinces. These were the vanaras and the 


rakshasas of the Ramayana. It is by no means 
easy to say when these races entered India. 

Then came the Dravidian Tamils, the word 
'Dravidian' being used in this work chiefly in 
a restricted sense to denote only the Velir or the 
Vellala tribe of the ancient Tamils, who were 
regarded as Kshatriyas, Vaisyas or Sudras accor- 
ding to their occupations, and this seems to be coun- 
tenanced by Manu's definition of 'Draivda' as a man 
of an out-cast tribe descended from a degraded Kshat- 
riya. The Dravidians were like the Brahuis and 
the Todas a fine stalwart race probably of the 
Aryo-Mongolian extraction. They were not dark 
complexioned, but their colour has been described 
in early Tamil works as that of the tender 
mango leaf. Their original home was somewhere 
in Asia Minor where the ancient Accadians lived. 
They had entered India by the North-western passes 
long before the Aryan migration. During the time 
of the Mahabharata War, say about the fifteenth 
century before Christ, they lived in Upper India, 
occupying small detached areas. Immediately after 
the'Great War' the Dravidians trekked south wards by 
the way of western India halting for a time at Dwara- 
samudram in the Mysore (buffalo) Province. From 
thence ihey proceeded in three separate bands to the 
east, south and west, and established three small 
kingdoms known as the Chola, Pandya and Chera. 
The Cholas and Pandyas had very often to contend 
with the half-civilized Nagas, while the Cheras seem 


to have quietly taken possession of a country along the 
West coast almost uninhabited by any semi-civilized 
section of the Naga tribe. In the east the close con- 
tact of the Nagas and Dravidians led to a fusion of 
races. In the west that could not have happened at 
so early a period. And I am inclined to think that the 
Nayars of Malabar and Travancore are not the 
modern representatives of the ancient Nagas, but 
hybrid descendants of the early Naga-Dravidians 
and Aryans. The original Dravidians were a war- 
like race of hunters and cattle-breeders, and their 
partiality to the buffaJo may be observed in the 
Todas of the Nilgiris, a pure Dravidian tribe, who 
must have found their way on these mountains simul- 
taneously with the other tribes at the time of their 
dispersion from Dwarasamudram, probably about the 
ninth or tenth century before Chrisi. 

Lastly came the Aryans, who were mostly Brah- 
mans. The earliest band of them might have 
migrated to the Tamil country about the fifth or 
sixth century before Christ; and from this period 
down to the fourth or fifth century A. D. a thin 
stream of Aryan emigrants seems to have flowed 
southward. Sometimes it assumed larger proportions, 
which it did when a large number of them came 
from the north-west and spread evenly in all the 
Tamil-Malayalam districts. These Brahmans are 
known as Nambis in the Tamil districts and as 
Nambudris in the Malayalam or Chera country. All 
these Brahmans keep the lock ot hair on the top of 


their head. Their migration took place between the 
sixth and seventh centuries A. D., when Buddhism 
and Jainism were receiving mortal blows from the 
federal army of the Aryo-Dravidian theologians, and 
when innumerable temples began to be erected for 
the Brahmanical gods in the Tamil districts. The 
latest band of the Brahman settlers were known as 
the Bhattas, and their migration from the north- 
eastern Telugu country must have taken place bet- 
ween the eighth and tenth centuries, that is sometime 
after the downfall of the great empire of Harsha- 
vardhana. Before the arrival of the Bhatta Brahmans 
the Nambis or Namburis of the west coast had 
developed themselves into an exclusive and influen- 
tial community m the midst of the uncultured Kerala 
Dravidians with peculiar social and religious customs. 
The Bhatta Brahmans who had formerly lived on 
the banks of the sacred Ganges, Godavari, Kistna 
and Cauvery did not care to cross the Western Ghats. 
Few families did, however, go. They are still known 
there as Bhattatiris, while the latest Bhatta immi- 
grants from the Tamil country are called simply 
Pattar. The Brahmans of the . East coast, though 
they consider themselves purer in blood, are 
generally darker in complexion (like the Brahmans of 
Bengalj than the easy going wealthy and mfragam- 
ous^ Namburis, which is no doubt due to the 

J. I have called them 'infragamous' as there has been a kind of 
social sanction to the loose marital connection of the younger 
male members of the Aryan Brahmans with the women of the 
Dravidian castes in the Kerala country. 


climatic conditions and the hardships they had been 
subjected to during the previous ten centuries of resi- 
dence on the scorching plains of the unprotected 

There was no caste system among the Nagas and 
the Dravidians. It is an institution introduced by the 
*COw-loving' Aryan settlers. The Tamils or the Naga- 
Dravidians were first divided into tribes, not castes, 
according to the territory wherein they happened to 
live when, the earliest Aryans colonized the Tamil 
country. The numerous Tamil castes of modern 
times, with the exception of a handful of Vellalas, 
must have grown out of a few territorial tribes of 
Nagas. The Velirs or Vellalas alone were Dravidians. 
The Viswa-Brahmans and the Dravida Kshatriyas had 
no place in this system. 

The home-speech of all these people, including the 
Brahmans, is Tamil. It is ignorance of the elemen- 
tary principles of philology on the part iof Tamil 
pandits that has led them to attribute divine origin 
to their mother tongue. Tamil is an ancient member 
of the Dravidian family. What language the Nagas 
spoke we have no means to find out. Tamil belongs 
to the agglutinative group of languages and it has no 
relation whatever with the inflectional Sanskrit. We 
may however find some remote affinities between it 
and the Indo-European languages — both in their 
grammar and vocabulary — a fact which indicates that 
the Tamils lived with the Aryans in Upper India 
before their downward march to the Dekhan. Tamil 


is a living tongue ; and so the early Tamil differs 
slightly from the mediaival and the modern forms of 
it. Owing to its great antiquity and its classic 
perfection with a settled grammar and vocabul- 
ary, so early as the second or third century 
B. C, literary Tamil differs very much from 
the colloquial ; and colloquial Tamil differs from 
the vulgar Tamil which gave birth to the Malayalam 
language about the eleventh or twelfth century A. D. 

The phonetic system of Tamil is very defective ; 
and though defective, it has three sounds .*., p and 
ifi which are peculiarly its own and which are not 
to be found in any other language. It had an alpha- 
betic writing called the Vatteluttu, which the people 
borrowed direct from the Phoenician or Himayaritic 
merchants six or seven hundred years before Christ ; 
and it was supplanted by the Grantha- Tamil charac- 
ters during the ninth or tenth century A. D. when 
Brahman influence was at its zenith in the Tamil 
country. The first extant grammar of the Tamil 
language was written by a Brahman about B. C. 350. 

We have no data to settle what the religion of the 
Nagas and Dravidians was before the arrival of the 
Brahmans in Southern India. As early as the tenth 
century there were in each village a Pidari or a 
Sasta (Tam. fir^^&sr) temple besides one or more for 
some of the puranic gods, then known as Sri Koil. All 
the Siva and Vishnu shrines whose glories were sung 
by the Nayanars and Alvars, belong to the latter class. 
The ancient Naga-Dravidians appear to have been 


animists or demonolators when they first came in 
contact with the Aryans. Till about the third or 
fourth century A. D, Brahmanism of the Vedic type, 
Vat-Jh'sm and Jainism were professed in the Tamil 
districts. Or, as Dr. Pope has 'said the prevailing 
religion of this period was a most remarkable mixture 
of Saivism, Jainism, Buddhism and the ancient 
demonolatry'. I must add to these Indraism and 
Vishnuism. During the puranic period when Brah- 
manism came out triumphant, that is between the 
fifth and eighth centuries, the cults of Siva and 
Vishnu alone survived. Siva is said to have 
nipped the head of Brahma, given a kick to 
Yama, knocked out the teeth of the Sun, and so on I 
Such was the fate of the Vedic deities. 

All the extant Tamil works on religion and ethics 
bear clear marks of Aryan influence, and it would be 
obviously untenable to hold with Dr, Pope that the 
Tamils have developed a religion of their own in- 
dependent of Brahmanism from the earliest period 
and that 'Saivism is the old pre-historic religion of 
South India essentially existing from pre- Aryan times.' 
It is urged by the same scholar that evil spirits and 
blood-thirsty gods were worshipped by the early war. 
like Naga-Dravidians with rude and cruel ceremonies; 
and before the time of Sankaracharya even human 
sacrifices seem to have been offered to them. But this 
shamanism or demonolatry was surely no Saivism, any 
more than hydrogen is water. Though it had some of 
its essential elements similar to those of the Vedic 


Rudraism. Moreover, the words Siva and Siddhanta 
are not of Dravidian origin. The Saivism or the 
Saiva Siddhanta of the modern non-Aryan Tamilians 
may therefore be defined as an eclectic rehgion cV,u^- 
posed of the hydrogenous demonolatry of ancient 
Naga-Dravidians and the oxygenous Rudraism of the 
Vedic Aryans colligated together by later philosophic 
Brahmanisra of the Pauranic period. 

The sixty-three Nayanars or Saiva Saints including 
Appar and Trignana Sambandar seem to have flouri- 
shed between the sixth and ninth centuries; and the 
Saint Manikka Vachakar, who is out-side that bead- 
roll flourished about A. D. 875. It was after the 
twelfth century A. D. that the Saiva Siddhantam of 
the Dravidian Tamils was given a philosophic basis 
in imitation of the great systems of Sankaracharya 
and Ramanujacharya ; and its authors were again 
Saiva Brahmans. 

The cult of Vishnu was equally powerful and not 
less ancient than Sivaism. It has been in existence 
since the Vedic times. But this humanitarian religi- 
on did not attempt to take converts from among the 
demonolatrous Naga-Dravidian tribes of hunters and 
warriors, nor was it in their nature to embrace such a 
catholic religion despite the teachings of the Vaishna- 
va alvars or saints, who with the Saiva Nayanars 
actively worked for the expulsion of Buddhism and 
Jainism from the Tamil country. Nammalvar was 
tlie last of the Vaishnava Saints, A. D. 925; then came 
a line of Vaishnava acharyas or religious teachers 


commencing from Sri Nathamuni (A. D. 905 — 1025) 
and ending with Manavala-Mamuni (15th century}. 
It is to Ramanuja and Vedanta Desika (14th century) 
that Vaishnavism owes its stability and greatness, 
while the other acharyas only popularized it 
by their lectures and comments. Thus, Dr. Pope's 
statement that the ' Vaishnava system has been a 
formidable rival of Saivism since the twelfth century,' 
and Dr. Caldwell's assertion that the alvo.rz were 
the disciples of Ramanuja are either perversions of 
the true history of Vaishnavism, probably put into 
their heads by interested Tamil Saivas, or hasty and 
one-sided views formed without regard to historical 

In Tamil there is no literature unconnected 
with ethics or religion and there is no ethics or 
religion in India without the Aryan influence. The 
earliest literary work in Tamil to which any definite 
date could be assigned is the Kural of Tiruvalluvar^ 
which goes up to the opening years of the Christian 
era. There must have surely existed some works 
anterior to that period, since the age of *he 
first Tamil grammar is believed to be the 
third or fourth century B. C, and the Tamilians 
have been acquainted with the art of writing at least 
from the sixth or seventh. Bat none of the pre- 
Tolkapyam works are now extant, probably with the 
exception of a few short poems included in the 
Agananuru and the Purananuru. 

The history of Tamil literature may be divided 



into six periods, namely, — the academic (B. C. 500 — 
A. D. 150) ; the classic (A. D. 150—500) ; the hymnal 
(A. D. 500—950) ; the translations (A.D. 950—1200) ; 
the exegetic (A. D. 1200 — 1450) and the modern or 
miscellaneous (A. D. 1450 — 1850), Original works in 
Tamil are not very many and they can be counted on 
one's finger's ends. The bulk of its literature comp- 
rises metrical translations from Sanskrit itihasas and 
puranas. Short ethical poems, like Eladi and Tiri- 
kadukam, intended for school children, and the huge 
mass of religious hymns and songs of the Saiva and 
Vaishnava devotees are honourable exceptions. 
There was no prose literature before the last century, 
if the prose commentaries on ancient authors be 

Alone among the Dravidian languages Tamil 
possesses a literature, ancient as well as interesting. 
Every Tamilian must esteem it a grand and noble 
heritage, which he can call his own onlv by approach- 
ing the study of it in a scientific spirit. Let us all join 
hands lovingly in the sacred task of reconstructing 
the best history of this people and their language, and 
tracing the continuity of their development. And in 
this let us follow the examples of Dr. Latham, Pro . 
Skeat and others, whose work for their English 
language and literature stands unrivalled. 



The materials for writing a history of the Pandyas will 
be found in (1) current traditions and legends, (2) some 
of which are distorted and interlarded with miracles in 
the local puranas, (3) in early Tamil literature, and (4) 
inscriptions. Of these the first and second are unreliable, 
chieliy owing to their antiquity and the variety of 
narrow channels through which they had passed before 
they attained the present form. The local puranas, 
most of them being obviously mythical, put us on the 
wrong scent, and in some cases operate as counter-acting 
agents in our researches. The third is entitled to some 
credence ; but on account of the repetition of some 
names and the absence of dates, they have to be corro- 
borated by other independent testimony. Inscriptions 
alone, when they are not forgeries, yield accurate and 
reliable data, as they cannot easily be tampered with 
like the puranic or other records. 

It is intended in this note to compare and contrast 
Tamil traditions, legends and local puranas with early 
literature and inscriptions and show their worthlessness 
ior historical purposes. As the annals of Tamil literature 


prior to the eleventh century is shrouded in obscurity^ 
it will be useful to take for consideration the history of 
the Pandya kings from the earliest times up to A.D. 950. 
The earliest available information about the Pandya 
kings is that which is contained in the Pattuppattu, the 
Agananuru and the Purananuru. From the various 
names of Pandyas which occur in these poems Mr, 
Kanakasabhai has constructed the following genealogical 
table : — Nedum Seliyan I (50-75) — Verri Vel Seliyan 
(75-90)— Nedum Seliyan II (90-128)— Ugra Peruvaludi 
(128-140) — Nanmaran (140-150). The exact relation- 
ship of these kings and the data on which this table is 
based are not clearly understood. At any rate Ugra 
Peruvaludi in whose reign Tiruvalluvar and Auvai 
flourished could not have succeeded Nedum Seliyan II 
who won the battle of Talai-Alankanan. Further, the 
dates assigned to these kings seem to be half-a-century 
too early. His table has, therefore, been slightly modified 
and improved as given below. It is only tentative and 
must remain so until epigraphy discloses new facts some 
day or other : — (1) Vadimbalamba Ninra Pandya, B. C 
450— (2) Nilandaru Tiruvir Pandya, B. C. 350— (3) 
Palsalai Mudukudumi Peruvaludi, B. C. 25 — (4) Ugra 
Peru Valudi A. D. 125— (5) Nedum Seliyan I, A. D. 150 

(6) Verrivel or Ham Seliyan, A. D. 175— (7) Nedum 

Seliyan II, A. D. 200— (8) Nanmaran I, A. D. 225— (9) 
Maran Valudi, A. D. 250— (10) Nanmaran II, A. D, 275 
—(11) Peruvaludi, A. D. 300. The name of the first king 
means ' he who survived the deluge'. According to the 
Mahawanso a tidal wave from the Indian ocean washed 
off the southern shores about B.C. 450. The above may 
be a reference to this. In the reign of the second Pandya 


the Tamil grammarian Tolkapyar lived. The third and 
the most famous among the early Pandyas was Palsalai 
Mudukudumi i Peruvaludi. He was a great patron of 
learning and Brahmans and performed many yagas or 
sacrifices. He might have been the king who sent an 
embassy to Augustus Caesar in B. C. 25 ; and this fact 
has been alluded to in the Velvikudi grant as ' going as 
ambassador to the gods'. Ugra Peruvaludi is said to 
have engraved the fish on the Himalayas. Nedum Seli- 
yan I constructed many tanks for irrigation, which fact 
has been commemorated in a poem by Kuda Pulaviyanar, 
He committed suicide for having, without a proper 
enquiry, ordered the decapitation of Kovalan an innocent 
merchant of Kaveripatam at the instigation of a crafty 
goldsmith. The merchant's wife Kannaki committed 
sati and was deified as a Goddess of Chastity. To 
appease her wrath tlie king's son Verri Vel Seliyan 
sacrificed one thousand goldsmiths. Nedum Seliyan II 
while yet a boy defeated the two Tamil kings and five 
chieftains at Talaiyalamkanam. Sattanar the famous 
author of Manimekalai and a stanch Buddhist lived in 
the reign of Nanmaran I and the poet Nakkirar 
flourished probably in the days of Nanmaran II. 

With ttie discovery of the Chinnamanur copper plates 
in 1906 and of the Velvikudi grant in 1908, the mist that 
enveloped the early history of the Pandyas may be said 

1. The custom of keeping a tuft of hair on the head was pure- 
ly Indo-Aryan. In Southern India no non-Aryan tribe or caste had 
it. Hence the early Brahman settlers were called ©OuShj® Offsr^ajt 
(Kal. 71). This Pandya king was perhaps the first Dravidian who 
adopted this Aryan custom on account of his having performed 
many yagas or sacrifices like the Brahmans. 


to be disappearing. They have brought to light several 
facts hitherto unknown, and furnished valuable data to 
fix the different stages in the progress of Tamil Hterature. 
The genealogical table which has been constructed from 
the materials supplied by them goes up to the beginning 
of the seventh century, causing a lacuna of nearly three 
hundred years between it and the one given above. 
Perhaps this was the period of the Jaina ascendancy;, 
and the Jains might have been instrumental to the occu- 
pation of the Pandya country by the Kalabhras or the 
Jaina rulers from the Carnataka country. 

Before giving the actual pedigree of Pandya kings, the 
plates proceed to mention the achievements of the real or 
mythic kings in the past without mentioning their names.. 
Among these may be stated, — the churning of the ocean 
for nectar, appearing on the throne of Indra, mastering, 
the Tamil language, bringing back the sea, obtaining the 
titles of Puzhiyan and Panchavan, founding the city of 
Madura, excelling pandits in learning, leading elephants 
into the Bharata country after the death of the great 
charioteer, absolving Vijaya from the curse of Vasu,. 
engraving the fish, the tiger and the bow on Mount 
Meru, constructing many tanks, defeating two kings at 
Talayalankanam, translating the Mahabharata and 
establishing the College of poets at Madura. To these 
the Sanskrit portions of the bigger Chinnamanur plates 
and the Velvikudi grant add that Agastya was their 
family priest, that one of the Pandyas induced Ravana 
to sue for peace, that one of them went as ambassador 
to the gods and that the god Brahma requested the 
Pandya who had survived the 'deluge' to take up the 
protection of the three worlds. 


Then comes the following genealogy :— 

Mudukudumi Peruvaludi. 

Kalabhra occupation. 


1. Kadungon A. D. 600. 

. I 

2. Maravarman Avani Chulamani, A. D. 620. 


3. Jayantan or Sendan, A. D. 650. 


4. Maravarman Arikesari, fought at Nelveli, A. D. 680. 


5. Jatavarman Ranadhiran A. D. 710. 


6. Arikesari Parankusan Rajasimha I, Ter Seli\an or 

I Termaran, A. D. 735. 

7. Jitila Varman Parantakan Srivara, A. D. 770. 


8. Rajasimha II, A. D. 785. 


9. Varaguna I, A. D. 810. 


10. Srimaran Sri Vallabha Deva, A. D. 835. 

II. Varaguna Varman 12. Parantakan Viranarayana 

A. D, 862 — 3. A.D. 885 m a Kerala princess. 

13. Rajasimha III, Abhiman- 

a Meru; defeated by Paran- 

taka Chola in A. D. 910. 

Among these kings Palsalai Mudukudumi Peruvaludi 
was a remote ancestor of Kadungon. The name of 
Kadungon occurs in the commentary on Iraiyanar's 
Agapporul as the last king in whose reign the first 
Sangam was abolished. In the reign of Jayantan {Tarn, 


Sendan) Chulamani a Jaina Tamil classic was composed 
by Tolamoli Devar in memory of the king's father 
Maravarman Avani Chulamani. Maravarman Arikesari 
(No. 4) who boasts of having won the battle of Nelveli 
(QrBeoCDeueSla3&} Qeum piDir pm) must be identified with 
Sundara or Kun Pandya. Had the impaling of 
8000 Jains by Trignana Sambanda — art event so 
much exaggerated and described with pride 
in the Saivapuranas — been an accomplished fact it 
must have been referred to in the plates. Arikesari 
Parankusan had the title of Ter Seliyan — a name which 
occurs in the above commentary as Ven-Ter Seliyan and 
as the founder of the second Sangam. Jatila Varman 
Parantakan, known to the Tamils as Komaran Sadaiyan, 
was a famous king and the donor of the Velvikudi 
grant. He had the title of Srivara and granted the 
village of Srivara-Mangalam in the Nanguneri taluk, 
Tinnevelly district, to a Magada Brahman named Suj- 
jata Bhatta. He was a devout worshipper of Vishnu. 
His minister Marankari built a temple and an agra- 
hara in A. D. 770 to God Narasimha at the foot of the 
Elephant hill or Yanaimalai near Madura. Varaguna I 
might have been the builder of the Vishnu temple at 
Varaguna-Mangalam. His grandson was a staunch 
Saivite, converted probably to that faith by his minister 
and Saiva saint Manikka Vachakar, while his great- 
grandson Rajasimha III or Siivallabha Deva was a Vaish- 
nava owing to the influence of the Vishnuvite Selva 
Nambi, his purohit and religious preceptor. In the 
reign of this last Pandya lived the Vishnuvite saints 
Pe riyalvar and Andal. 

Some of these facts will be found stated in early 


Tamil literature and in the Madura stalapurana. The 
copper plates refer also to the founding of a college of 
poets at Madura and the translating of the Mahabharata. 
The first has been considered in our essay on the Tamil 
academies. As regards the Mahabharata which in the 
opinion of Prof. Macdonell attained its complete form 
in Sanskrit about A. D. 350. there appears to have been 
more than one Tamil translation. All the Tamil versions 
must have therefore been made subsequent to A. D. 
400. The first of these versions is probably the one 
referred to in the grants. The translator's name is at 
present unknown and the very existence of the work is 
doubtful. Whether it was identical with the Bharata- 
Venba of Perundevanar (A.D. 750) or altogether differ- 
ent cannot be ascertained owing to the paucity of 
information. Provisionally, however, it maybe assumed 
that the Bharata-Venba of Perundevanar was a second 
translation. The third was by the Saivite Aranilai Visakan 
Trailokyamallan Vatsarajan of Arumbakkam (1) in the 
reign of KulottungaChola III (11781215). This translation 
of the epic, though it does not survive to this day, might 
have been undertaken when Kamban was engaged in 
translating the Ramayana. The fourth rendering of the 
epic into Tamil was by Villiputtur Alvar, a Vaishnava 
poet of the fifteenth century. It is only a fragment or 
an epitome, but completed by Nalla Pillai in A.D. 1732- 

So far the history of the early Pandyas from Tamil 
literature and inscriptions. From both the sources the 

(1) Madras Government Epigraphist's report, dated 2nd July 
1906, p. 74. 


number of Pandya kings does not exceed twenty. Oil- 
the other hand, the Madura Stalapurana gives a long 
list of some seventy-three Pandyas beginning with Kula- 
sekara and ending with Madhuresvara, besides another 
list of some forty- one ^legitimate Pandyas. The pur ana 
narrates miraculous events connected with the local 
deity. Most of the names in the lists seem to be fanciful 
or mythical, corroborated neither by literature nor by 
inscriptions. Before proceeding to compare and ex- 
amine them it will be necessary to give an outline 
of the salient points from the Halasya Mahatmya 
so far as they relate to the Tamil academies and the 
early poets, first according to the order of the ' sacred 
sports' or the deeds of Siva and secondly according to 
the succession of the Pandya kings. 

I. The 51st * sport' was the establishment of the 
Madura College during the reign of Vamsasekara 
Pandya ; (52), in the reign of Champaka Maran the 
pride of Nakkirar was subdued by Siva ; (53 and 54) 
Siva directs Agastya to teach Tamil grammar to Nak- 
kirar ; (55) Nakkirar's commentary on Iraiyanar's 
Agapporul recited before the dumb Brahman child, 
Rudra-Sarman ; (56) refers probably to Tiruvalluvar's 
contest with the members of the academy ; (57-61) 
miracles concerning Manikkavachakar which occurred in 
the reign of Arimardhana Pandya ; and (62, 63), the 
Jains were persecuted by the Saivite apostle Trignana 
Sambanda during the reign of Kubja, Kun or Sundara 

II. The fourth king was Ugra Pandya. He is 
said to have performed ninety-six Asvamedha or horse 
sacrifices, and he was the founder of a Sangam or 


academy. The seventh was Vikrama Pandya. In his 
reign the elephant that came to destroy Madura at the 
machination of the fains was metamorphosed into a hill 
by Siva with the help of Narasimha. In commemora- 
tion of this event the Pandya king built a temple for the 
Vishnu God Narasimha in the Yanamalai hill. ' Qlosuq^ 
miT&fBs^(ssi^ aSa^^^i^issr (S&}LfiS(^mi3so'. The tenth in 
succession was Anantaguna Pandya. In this reign Sri 
Rama visited Madura while searching for his wife Sita. 
The nineteenth was Varaguna. He went to Tiruvidai- 
marudur in the Tanjcre district to expiate his sin of 
hrahma-halti. The forty-sixth was Vamsasekhara in 
whose reign the third academy was established, Nakki- 
rar, Paranar, Kapilar &c, being its members. Nakkirar 
composed the <sias'^utT^ siretr^^uir^ujipiT^, Rudra- 
sarma listened to Nakkirar's commentary on Iraiyanar's 
Agapporul. The sixty-first was Arimardhana. The 
saint Manikkavachakar flourished in this reign. The 
last but one and the seventy-second king in the list was 
Kubja or Kun Pandya. In his reign 8000 Jains were 
impaled by Trignana Sambandha. 

Stripping the above miraculous events of their mytho- 
logical garb and considering them together it will be 
seen that they are most of them stern historical facts ; 
only the order of time has not been observed. The 
'sacred sports' of Siva at Madura are narrated in three 
or four Sanskrit puranas namely, Uttara Maha Purana, 
Kadamba Vana Purana, Sundara Pandyam and Halasya 
Mahatmyam — all which were composed sometime after 
the tenth century A. D. out of the current traditions and 
legends. And their Tamil translations must have been 
made long after that period. These accounts differ as 


regards the order and description of 'sports'. Some of 
the accounts are conflicting in other respects. The 
Tamil names of kings are sanskritized and are not 
arranged in chronological order as will be seen 
later on. Thus, the Tiruvilayadal Purana, like 
all other puranas, is a compilation of traditions, 
miracles and other stories, all jumbled together regard- 
less of any time sequence and without any order. It 
would, therefore, be extremely injudicious to use them 

for historical purposes without caution. 

The only king who is mentioned in Tamil literature 
as having performed many Yagas or sacrifices is Palyaga 
(salai) Mudukudimi Peruvaludi, He was an ancestor of 
Nedum Seliyam of the Talai Alanganam fame. He 
must therefore have flourished about the beginning of 
the Christian era. Nowhere is it laid down that Qgra 
Pandya conducted any sacrifices ; but one Ugra Pandya 
or Ugra Peruvaludi is said to have attended a Rajasuya 
sacrifice performed by the Chola king Perunarkilli who 
lived about the first century A. D. The fourth king in 
the list is Vikrama Pandya in whose reign the Narasimha 
temple at the foot of the Anaimalai hill was built. From 
the inscriptions discovered in that temple, we learn 
that it was constructed by Maran Kari, a minister of the 
Pandya king Parantaka or Nedum Sadaiyan in A. D, 
770 (No. 7). The age of Manikka Vachakar, who is 
said to have lived in the reign of the 61st king Arimar- 
dhana, but actually in the reign of Varaguna the 19th 
Pandya king, was the second half of the ninth century ; 
and the date of Trignana Sambanda has been determined 
to be the latter half of the seventh. As he is believed 
to have been a contemporary of Kun or Sundara Pan- 


dya, who is known in Tamil religious literature as 
Nedumara Nayanar of Nelveli, he might be identified 
with No. 4, Maravarman Arikesari (A. D. 680) given in our 
genealogical table. Thus, we find the paur ante accounts 
of these historic facts are grossly anachronous and at 
variance with those which one might glean from 
early Tamil literature and the epigraphical reports. 



Quite recently there has appeared a small book, entitled 
Per-Agattiya-Tirattu, which profesesto be a collection of 
aphorisms from 'the great grammar of Agastya.' It con- 
tains, besides, a set of rules which Pandits believe were 
composed by Kazharamban at the bidding of his revered 
teacher Agastya. Both these collections of excerpts 
seem to be for the following reasons forgeries foisted, 
like so many other works, upon that great mythical sage. 

1. The style is simple and very modern ; it contains 
too many Sanskrit words; and the difference between the 
language of this work and that of Tolkapyar, his direct 
disciple, is patent in every one of its Sutras. 

2. In the days of Agastya the number of Sanskrit words 
in Tamil must have been very small, and the necessity 
for framing rules for the loan of Aryan words could not 
have been felt, as it was in the days of Buddhamitra and 
Pavanandi. It was on this account that Tolkapyar 
did not give any definite rule under that head, except 
in a vague manner thus : — 


On the other hand, this Per-Agattiya-Tirattu devotes 
one whole chapter of some 24 Sutras to Sandhis and 
word formation, which have been explained in the 
seventh essay as the pecuHar characteristics of Sanskrit. 
Evidently it includes in the Tamil vocabulary of Agastya's 
age pure Sanskrit words and foreign or desiya words 
borrowed by modern Tamil as the following aphorisms 
will show: — 

(1) (^Srru) ^ ^ toT 6?Q7 QmrTL^ITUD. 

(2) ujsinh j)j ^ &. s«E ep e^eir siji—^th. 

With this compare the corresponding sutras in (a) 
Tolkapyam and (b) Nannul. 

(a) (1) <:^ <ST 6? S7OT2/ QpuSiT (^sird^^rftuj. 
(2) ^QeufTL^eOeO^ uusaQp^eorr^. 

(j) (1) ^ ^ CT ^(SjQsiJfr U.IT(^(^LD(ip^ei). 

(2) j)j SL ^- 2J^ ^ ^ST iuisiQp^eo, 
3. The author of this grammar seems to think that 
the Tamil letter Aydam, o°o, is borrowed from Sanskrit 
as will be inferred from the following sutras. 

[a) QpjS^iiSliT QLodjiuirdj^ (ifiuuiTQi€S)oSTQjr). (7) 

(b) 'oT e^susiiLD Lppssreijih^iS QL^(W^Q^esra. (54) 

It is usual to say that tp, «w, /d, and sbt, which are pur- 
posely placed last in the Tamil alphabetic system to 
indicate their speciality to that tongue, and the letter 
oo, which has neither the sound of visar^a nor that of 
jihvamulya but; a sound peculiarly its own, are the 
distinguishing marks of Tamil. To call Aydam a Sans- 
krit letter is absurd. Moreover, the author of this work 
seems to derive Tamil from Sanskrit. 

4. The Quifie<a^g=(^^^!!u> attributed to Agastya's 


disciple Kazharamban purports to give us an outline 
history of the Tamil language. It is divided according 
to this writer into eight periods, namely, (1 ) Pre-alpha- 
betic, (2) Alphabetic, (3) Grammatic, (4) Academic, (5) 
Monastic, (6) Jaina, (7) Pauranic, and (8) Modern. 
This classification, which on the face of it is unhistorical 
and anachronous, has been adopted with but slight 
modification by Mr. Damodaram Pillai in his introduc- 
tion to Virasoliyam ; and it has been criticized at some 
length in the eighth essay. The last or modern period 
may be taken to commence in the fifteenth or sixteenth 
century A. D. A classification, which refers to phases 
of literary activity of the sixteenth century, to have been 
made by a disciple of Agastya in the second or third 
century B. C. is a hard pill to swallow, even should it 
come from the best of scholars. But Tamil Pandits 
will readily believe it to be the work of a disciple of 
Agastya. And the reader can easily understand that 
this work is a clear instance of forgery. What seems 
probable and believable is that Per-Agattiyam is a com- 
position of a learned member of one of the Saiva mutts 
or monasteries in the Tanjore or Tinnevelly district 
written for the use of the Saiva students of Tamil, who 
may have had in the beginning a prejudice against the 
use of Nannul (being the work of a Jain) though it was 
decidedly the best grammar, and that it may have come 
into existence long after A. D. 12.50. 

5. In the prefatory sutra to Tolkapyam it is said of 
its author Tolkapyar as follows : — 
^iSiy^sk.^ iBeo^&)s^^ 


(ifii5^^s\}S6sin(B Qpsapuui— Qiajessressflu 


For the purpose of dealing with the Tamil letters, words 
and rhetoric as used in the ordinary speech and in poetry^ 
the author clearly says that he observed the usages 
of the Sen-Tamil men {Qs^i^uSL^iu/beiasJ: QewssSuuSs^LD) 
and carefully studied the early literature {Qpi^^&isem®) 
before collecting, collating and arranging facts for me- 
thodical treatment in his grammar {Qpsapuui—QajesaressFlu 
L^&)iQ^!T(^^Q^!T&sT) after the model of the Sanskrit 
Aindram. He has not said anywhere in his grammar 
one word about Agastya, his reputed teacher. It has 
been at least the Tamil custom for an author to begin 
his work with a salutation for his teacher or Acharya. 
In this case the teacher was a divine Rishi and the sup- 
posititious writer of the first Tamil grammar. Both of 
them flourished at the same period. It is not under- 
stood why Tolkapyar should have taken so much trouble 
to observe the usages, to study the Tamil authors, and 
to deduce therefrom the grammatical rules, or why he 
should have recited his work for the approval and edi- 
fication of the academy before a fellow student — Athan- 
gottasan — while Agastya was its president. Was it to pick 
up flaws in his master's great work, and was he such an 
ungrateful pupil ? Tamil pandits would easily believe 
that the two divine rishis were always at loggerheads- 
But, all these throw serious doubts as to whether 
Agastya had really written a Tamil grammar and whe- 


ther Tolkapyar was ever his disciple. The com- 
ment on the prefatory sutra by Sivagnana Swami 
in confirmation of the facts that Agastya had 
learnt his Tamil from Siva, that he had been the author 
of the first grammar of the Tamil language and that it 
had served, betore it was lost, as the model for all the 
later works on grammar, seems to me very unsatisfactory 
and even fanciful. No man has ever seen the 
Agastya's grammar ; and the statement of Mr. Damoda- 
ram Pillai that it was a jumble of rules relating to the 
three kinds of Tamil is purely a creation of his power- 
ful imagination. What I am inclined to believe is 
that every myth and tradition connecting Agastya with 
the Tamil language should have come into existence 
subsequent only to the seventh or eighth century A. D. 


The only Tamil poet whose date has called forth a 
good deal of controversy from pandits and scholars is 
Manikka Vachakar. It is, in my humble opinion, mainly 
due to their sectarian bias, their superstitious belief 
in the pauranic stories, their want of confidence in 
epigraphy and their incorrect understanding of the 
historical trend of the Tamil language, literature and 
religion. One writer thinks that Manikka Vachakar 
belonged to a period subsequent to the third academy, 
another puts his date long anterior to it, while a third 
brings it down to the thirteenth century. Dr. Pope, the 
Editor and translator of Manikka Vachakar's works, 
believes that he lived ' somewhere about the seventh o; 


eighth century of our era,' while yet in another place he 
writes that his date ' may reasonably be assigned to the 
tenth century.' Thus the age of Manikka Vachakar 
remains still unsettled. It is not intended to waste some 
more ink and paper by launching into any elaborate 
discussion [or by seriously attempting to refute their 
arguments, but to briefly indicate certain grounds for a 
correct determination of his date. 

(1) The traditional order of enumerating the four 
famous Saiva saints — Appar, Sambandar, Sundarar and 
Manild^a Vachakar and the position assigned to Tiruva- 
chakam and Tirukkovai in the Saiva tirumurais seem to 
support the view that the last mentioned poet-saint 
lived later than Appar. And this theory is confirmed by 
the fact that Manikka Vachakar and Kalladar have 
described in their works a considerably larger number 
of Siva's sports than that referred to by Appar or 
Sambandar, who must have visited Madura — the 
far famed capital of the Paniyas and a stronghold of 
Saivism in the South. 

(2) As a rule the best annotator would quote illus- 
trative passages from the contemporary writers or 
from those who preceded the author whose work he 
annotates. The commentator of Manikka Vachakar's 
Tirukkovai — Perasiriyar, Nacchinarkiniyar or whoever 
he might be — cites authorities from Iraiyanar's 
Agapporul, Tolkapyam, Kural, Kalittogai, Appar's 
Tevaram and Naladiyar. Since the authors of all 
these works had lived long before Manikka Vacha- 
kar, he must have understood that Appar was his 

(3) In his Koil-padigam Manikka Vachakar speaks of 


Ponnambalam or the 'Golden Hall' at Chidambaram. 
According to traditions this hall was first built by 
Hiranya Varman, probably a Pallava king, during the 
sixth century ; and we have no reason to believe that 
this shrine was in existence before the days of the Chola 
king Kocchengannan who is said to have built several 
temples to Siva and Vishnu, and also gilded the hall at 

Q^fLoQu/resresressBi^ & p puoueo ;S^s> ^. — T. T. 82. 
This Chola king lived probably in the latter half of the 
sixth century. 

(4) ManiUka Vachakar refers to Pey Ammaiyar, 
the Saiva lady saint and poetess of Karaikal, who could 
not have flourished earlier than the sixth century for 
the simple reason that the andadi form of Tamil poem, in 
which her ^(n^^ iTLL<sisL^u)5sefft£ifT'?e\) and j>jpi-^^^^(f^eui5^rT^ 
were written, did not come into use before that period, 
as explained by Nacchin irkiniyar in his commentary on 
the Tolkapyar's siitra ^iQ^iQ^^n^ui, 

(5) A careful and candid study of the present 
work will convince the reader that the religious 
doctrines expounded by Manikka Vachakar in his 
Tiruvachakam, the general tenor of his writings and his 
contempt for other religions and sects may not enable 
him to take the poet's age beyond the hymnal period, 
i. e, A. D. 500—950. 

(6) One of the 'sacred sports' of Siva at Madura was 
the send-off of the Pandya king Varaguna to His loka 
or heaven; and this act of divine grace has been alluded 
to by Manikka Vachakar: — 


Again in his Tirukkovaiyar he refers to that king 
thus : — 

... 6uj^e!rar(65)/5 

Q^mesrOiQesr p^(^'^pp\s>ue<i^^tT&sr. (306) 

.., QppuaU6\}L£LIS(lp 

LDUjQeOfnEjQ0iEiaefflajrr2issTena3)<3SSfQir. (327) 

It is thus evident that our saint lived in or after the 
reign of Varaguna Pandya. Epigraphical researches 
have up to now brought to light only two Pandya kings 
of that name, the earlier of whom lived in the first 
quarter of the ninth century. And the Varaguna alluded 
to by Manikka Vachakar must have been the Varaguna 
Varman mentioned in the Ambasamudram inscriptions 
{Ep. bid. Vol. IX., Pt. ii). He was a devout worshipper 
of Siva and granted donations of money and land for his 
worship in many Siva temples. 

But the Halasya Mahatmya informs us that Manikka 
Vachakar lived in the reign of one Arimardhana Pandya 
who was forty-second in succession from the only Vara- 
guna given in the Mahatmya list. This is one of the 
many shocking anachronisms which one may find in the 
above slala-purana. 

(7) In the sacred sports of Siva at Madura as narra- 
ted in this purana, the 'jackal miracle' which is 
erroneously connected with Manikka Vachakar and 
which is stated to have occurred in the reign of Arimar- 
dhana Pandya, the sixty- first in the list, comes after 
the sport of turning into rock the Elephant -that came 
to destroy Madura in the reign of the seventh Pandya, 
and the hearing of Nakkirar's commentary on Irai- 
yanar's Agapporul by the dumb child, Rudra Sarman, in 
the reign of the forty-sixth king. The slender data on 


which the first of the above sports rests did actually 
take place in the reign of Jatila Varman Parantakan» 
A.D. 770. Nakkirar's commentary contains an illustra- 
tive kovai addressed to the Pandya king Arikesari Paran- 
kusan who reigned about A, D. 740. 

It is admitted by Tamil pandits that the Tiruk- 
kpvai of Manikka Vachakar was composed in accor- 
dance with.the rules given in Iraiyanar's Agapporul, 
and that our saint must have read Nakkirar's comment- 
ary. The date of Iraiyanar's Agapporid could not be 
earlier than A. D. 650. and that of the commentary by 
Nakkirar about A. D. 740. Manikka Vachakar must have 
therefore lived after A.D. 740. If, now, we admit that the 
sports or miracles are narrated chronologically in the 
stalapurana, the ' Jackal miracle ', coming after the 
metamorphosis of the Elephant, must have happened 
after A. D. 770. Thus even according to the writers of 
the Madura Stalapiirana, Manikka Vachakar must have 
lived after A. D. 770. 

(8) The religious propagandism of Manikka Vacha- 
kar, his visit to Ceylon and his conversion there of many 
Buddhists and their king which are narrated in the 
Vadavur Slalapurana, are confirmed by Rajaratnakari of 
Ceylon. This occurred in A. D. 819 or more correctly 
about A. D. 869. 

(9) The language of Manikka Vachakar and the 
various metres employed by him do not take us so far 
back as the sixth or seventh century. Sanskrit words and 
phrases like ^'jumiresrmj ^^QhhldiI), Qs=iTiriosrj Q^itujld, siSld 

and LLiT^rreij^irLD were not used by the poets of the acade- 
mic period. The resemblance between the works of 


Periyalvar, Andal, Nammalvar and Manikka Vachakar 
in thought, language, style and form is so close as tO' 
suggest their being contemporaries more or less. The 
above Vaishnava saints lived between A. D. 850 and 925. 
(10) In the Tiru-tonda-togai [^(j^^Q^fremi—^Qstrecos) 
of Sundarar, the last of the sixty-three Saiva saints, who 
lived about the first quarter of the ninth century 
no mention is made of Manikka Vachakar, Yet like 
the Vaishnava acharyas who twisted and miscon- 
strued texts to fix the beginning of the Kaliyug as the 
age of Nammalvar — the last of their saints — some of the 
more recent pandits and scholars have attempted to put 
the date of our Saiva saint long anterior to that of Appar 
and Trignana Sambandar, interpreting the expression 

QU!TUJUJI^<SS)1£> tlS6\)e\)IT^ L/6UQJ/f 111 thC ^(TJ^O^ffSJOTi—^O^ffSOS 

as a reference to the saint, and supporting it by two vague 
allusions found in the following lines from Appar's 
Tevaram : — 

(1) isifiesiujs (^^<oS)ir Q<Fuue)jiT^i}). 

(2) @L_(jotg(5/5^.ySsaT QjiT<s=S'^&QsiTeaaii—rTiT. 

Here the first quotation proves nothing, as the 
miraculous transformation of Jackals into 'horses' though 
traditionally connected with Manikka Vachakar, is an 
old 'floating myth', like many others of that kind. It 
was one of the many miracles performed by Siva, and to 
which our saint himself refers thus, 

There is a reference to this miracle in the Kalladam 
also. Had Kalladanar, its author, lived posterior to Ma- 
nikka Vachakar, which seems to me to be more probable, 
5he Jackal miracle should be taken as one of the many 


floating myths current during the hymnal period of 
Tamil literature (A. D. 600_.950), as he has not mention- 
ed Manikka Vachakar in that connection. 

In the second quotation the word 6u(rs=sm has been 
misinterpreted as Manikka Vachakar, and in support of 
this fanciful meaning the pandits quote two Sanskrit 
puranas whose authority might be as questionable as 
that of Halasya Mahatmya and other puranas. Here 
Qjrrs^aetr (Skt. vachakaYmeans a ' servant ' or 'messenger' 
and nothing more. 

Now coming to the Tiru-tonda-togai, it might be asked 
— Why should Manikka Vachakar alone be referred to 
in this indirect and vague fashion while the other sixty- 
one saints, some of whom were comparatively less 
notable, have been mentioned by their names or titles ? 
There is no answer to this question. Both Sundarar and 
Manikka Vachakar were Brahmans of the same sect; and 
the latter was the minister of a Pandya king and a great 
religious disputant who did much for the propagation of 
Saivism. If Sundarar had to refer to him, he would have 
with pride mentioned the name of this saint instead 
of using this round-abont expression, which may be 
applied to any sincerely pious poet. He must have also 
read Appar's Tevaram and noticed in it the incident of 
the 'Jackal miracle' as well as the word eun-^sesr. If 
Manikka Vachakar had really lived before Sundarar 
and if the latter saint had interpreted eurrs^ssor to mean 
Manikka Vachakar, could he not have referred to our 
saint at least by that holy name in his Tiruttondattogai? 
This clearly shows that Sundarar had never heard of the 
name of Manikka Vachakar — the fourth great saint of 


the Saivas, because he had not yet been born in this 

Nambiyandar Nambi, the Vyasa of the Dravidian 
Vedas, has correctly understood the expression Qurrdjujt^ 
<ss}LDaS6\)sorr^ ueosij IT to mean collectively the forty -nine 
professors of the third academy at Madura. 

uiTsaariT rssSiTiTQfi^ (^pu^Q^iT(Ssru^ usOLfsoQeaair. 

Do the modern Tamil scholars 'claim to be more 
learned and better informed in this matter than Nambi- 
yandar Nambi who lived within one hundred and 
fifty years after Sundarar or Manikka Vachakar ? 

It has been urged by a recent writer that Nambiyandar 
Nambi has misunderstood the above expression, and that 
he has wrongly calculated the total, forgetting that the 
'traditional sixty-three' was the number of the individual 
saints sung by Sundara Murti. A grand discovery indeed ! 
But was our poet so ignorant of the rudiments of arith- 
metic as to merit the critic's condemnation ? Has 
Sundara Murti or any writer anterior to Nambiyandar 
Nambi stated that the number of individual saints was 
sixty-three ? And, if not, how could he call it ' tradi- 
tional' ? Perhaps, he forgot that most of the names of 
the Saiva saints were almost unknown before the time of 
Nambiyandar Nambi, who for the first time collected 
and arranged the Devara and other Saivite hymns, and 
that their apotheosis was mainly due to his works. If 
we add Sundara Murti, as our poet has rightly done, to 
the 62 individual saints enumerated in the ^Q^iQ^rresmL^ 
^Q^aesis we get the now traditional 63. But, if we take 
the above expression to mean Manikka Vachakar, we get 
in all 64 which is not the traditional number of Saiva 


saints, as we cannot by any means omit Sundara Murti 
from the list. 

It is therefore plain beyond any shadow of doubt 
that the saint Manikka Vachakar must have been an 
elder contemporary of Periyalvar and Andal of the 
Vaishnava sect and lived in the reign of the Pandya 
king Varaguna II (A. D. 870), that is two centuries 
later than Appar and Trignana Sambandar, half a 
century later than Sundarar and about one generation 
earlier than Nammalvar. And this is the view accepted 
by every student of epigraphy. 


The Kalladam is an erotic poem of some one hundred 
agavals, describing mostly the ' sacred sports' of Siva at 
Madura. Its author Kallada Deva Nayanar was a Saiva 
poet of the pauranic or hymnal period. Tamil pandits 
very often confound him with Kalladanar, an earlier 
poet of the academic age. The former was a Saiva 
devotee and author of ^Q^sseamemuu Q^stiH^lQ^iMpLJa and 
a commentary on the Tolkapyam besides the Kalladam, 
while the latter was a bard and wrote only a few 
eulogistic verses on the Pandiya king Nedum Seliyan, 
second century A. D. Thus Kallada Deva Nayanar and 
Kalladanar were two distinct poets like Poigai Alvar 
and Poigaiyar. 

Both must have been natives of Kalladam, once a 
flourishing sea-port near Ouilon on the West Coast. In 
the days of Manikka Vachakar, it was probably the seat 
of a Saiva shrine, seiie\}iTu.^^-i seok^ssfl^(rF,etfl — T.V. II. 
11, which must have come into existence during the 
ninth century A. D., as no mention is made of it in the 


Tevaram oi Appar or Sundara Murti. It would only be 
a vain subterfuge of pandits if it was said that their 
hymns on that place had been, lost along with several 
others at Chidambaram. 

In the Kalladam one may find references to Tiru- 
valluvar, Nakkirar, Kannappar, Chakkiyar and Murti 
Nayanar, Concerning the last it says, — 

(oSTQ^sffs^firirk^ f§<^sir(T^LLueasBijj0S)L-UU. (57) 
This event happened, as we have said in Appendix I^ 
about the beginning of the seventh century, which must 
be taken as the earliest limit of the age of Kalladam. 

Again the same work refers to the commentary of 
Nakkirar on Iraiyanar's Agapporul and to the commend- 
atory verses of the forty-nine professors of the third 
academy on the Kural of Tiruvalluvai. — 

(1) LOIT p^UOL^'oiliilQ^ LDUJISI(^ gH SU'hsO 

su.&)QpQ^Q^^s sssiiraSeOomsu^^^CcUaeo. (3) 

(2) ^0rB^u9i^sS !T<om Qu(Ti^i^uSi^uu^eiJ6\) 
eurrsSluSpdsLLisiT (sSitnaaetr^^ssr&sr. (52) 

(3) ^k^'^essmuQ^enn ^ suQufT^'siTQp^'Sems 
(^gHQpesflQ ^ pei^iJo QuQ^Qf^ pi-^eOQiirs 

QiiHr(cL^(LpMlUUJ0lil QsiT ^ pUUQ^SS^LD. (65) 

(4) SFLcajssemssff LO^QjL^3h.(frj' 
^&)@uje03k.(BLJ Qu!T(f^effl^Qaj<oi!rp 
eijisiT(&T)Sii<s5r pema>(^ sijefriTsaSLii-jsOQjirQfi'oST 
Qp^pssSuiTL^Lu QpsiLLQuQ^LDrr&sr. (15) 

The above quotations show clearly that the Kalladam' 


is a repertory of old traditions, ghoulish [legends and 
mixed miracles relating to the Saiva religion and litera- 
ture, narrated in such a torm as to allure the Dravidian 
mind. It is one of those religious books which are 
highly valued by the Tamil Saivas ; and it has given 
rise to the proverb — si50&)itl-ld s^jnenQies)® m&i&nji—nQii. 
(Venture not to argue with one that has studied the 

They prove further that the author of Kalladam was 
not unacquainted with Nakkirar's commentary on Irai- 
yanar's Agapporul and that he must have lived several 
years after Perundevanar, one of the forty-nine pro- 
fessors of the Madura College. In our essay on the 
Tamil academies it has been sliown that this commen- 
tary on Agapporul was written sometime after A. D. 750 
and that Perundevanar, the reputed author of the Tamil 
Mahabharatam, lived somewhere about A. D. 785. 
Further, the number of sports played by Siva at Madura 
came to be definitely fixed as 64 during the time of 
Kalladar, while it was not so in the days of the last four 
great saints It is thus pretty evident that Kallada 
Deva Nayanar lived between A. D. 850 and 950, and that 
he may have been a younger contemporary of Manikka 
Vachakar whose Tirukkovayar served, according to a 
traditon, as the model for his Kalladam. 



The word Tiyan designates a class of toddy drawers 
in Malabar, Travancore and Cochin, and it is com- 
monly supposed to be a synonym for Izhuvan, which is- 


the name of another caste of palm-cultivators found in 
the Tamil and Malayalam countries. The tradi- 
tions current in Malabar represent them as immigrants 
from Ceylon, and in accordance thereto the words Tiyan 
and Izhuvan are derived by the old-school philologists 
of Malabar and their European supporters, like Drs. 
Caldwell and Gundert and Mr. Logan, from 'dvipam' 
(an island) and Simhalam (Ceylon), This etymology, 
though advocated by such high authorites and confirm- 
ed also by Malabar traditions, seems to be rather 
fanciful and devoid of any historical or ethnological 
foundation. It is needless to mention here the utter 
worthlessness of Keralolpatti and Keralamahatmya as 
historical records. For the purposes of ethnological 
investigations no reliance can be placed on either of 
these, because they are only later compositions of the 
Nambudri Brahmans of Malabar, who de facto had in 
their hands the destiny of the Chera kingdom. It is 
not the only instance in which the Malabar people have 
shown their primitive knowledge of the modern sciences 
of language and ethnology. 'Embran' is derived from he- 
brahman ; 'Nambi' from nainbu, to believe; 'Kuric'chan' 
from kun, to mark, 'Variyar' irom varuka to sweep and 
so on. Of course, these etymologies were supported by 
strange traditions, short or long, which the Nambudri 
Brahmans were ever ready to invent. For these vaga- 
ries of etymology the language is responsible, not the 
people. The mother-tongue of the non-Aryan tribes, 
of Malabar was purely a Tamil dialect, and about fifty 
per cei?t. of the words found in the Malayalam voca- 
bulary are of Tamil origin. As, however, Sanskrit had 
and even now/ have an undoubted preference in matters 


social and religious, the natural tendency has been to 
derive the Tamil words from SaRskrit. 

The arguments advanced by the upholders of the 
'Simhala' or 'Dwipa' theory are, — 

(1) 'The Keralolpatti says that at one-time five arti- 
ficers having provoked the Perumal's wrath emigrated, 
and found refuge in Ceylon, from whence they were 
brought back by the intercession of foreigners, and in 
their train came the caste of cocoanut tree cultivators'. 
(2) The cocoanut tree is not indigenous to India 
but was introduced by the southern islanders of Ceylon. 
It is suggested by some that the connecting link bet- 
ween the words Tiyan and Dvipan survives in 'Divar' 
of Canara. One writer goes even to the length of 
tracing the Kadamba chiefs of Humcha to the children 
of the islanders, 'Divara Makkalu'. (3) Mr. Logan points 
out that since cocoanut is not mentioned in the list of 
exports from Malabar given in the Periplus in the first 
century A.D., it is probable that the palm was intro- 
duced by theTiyans (Dvipans) and Izhuvans (Simhalese) 
from Ceylon before the sixth century A.D. 

As to the first argument it may be remarked tffat 
the South Indian Inscriptions inform us that the toddy- 
drawing classes of the country from Cape Comorin to 
Tirupati were called Izhuvans. In none of the ancient 
works Sanror or Shanan is used to denote the modern 
caste of Tamil toddy-drawers. Granting then, that all 
the Shanans of the Tamil country and the Tiyans and 
Izhuvans of Malabar and Travancore are the deecendants 
of the original immigrants from Ceylon, we have at pre- 
sent nearly two millions of this guild following the same 
trade and occupation in both the countries. The popula- 


tion of Ceylon according to the Census of 1891 was near- 
ly three millions. Although there had been several in- 
vasions and occupations of the northern part of Ceylon 
alternately by the Cholas and Pandiyas, the annals of that 
island from the first century to the ninth do not speak a 
word about any irruption or civil war that could have 
led to the evacuation of the island by nearly two-thirds of 
its useful inhabitants. We read in the Mahawanso that a 
branch of the Pandiyans was ruling for a short period 
in Ceylon. Moreover, the relationship between the 
Singalese and Keralas wa^', in fact, so little that it is 
scarcely possible that such a large immigration directly 
from Ceylon to Malabar could have taken place during 
that remote period. In the copper plate grants of the 
Syrian Christians the names Izhuvan and Tiya-alvan, 
occur ; and it is evident that the Tiyans (not Dwipans or 
Tivans) were then (A. D. 132o) an organisedguild with 
headmen or alvans^a.nd that the Izhuvans were iateri m- 
migrants from the Tamil country. The difference in the 
customs observed by the two toddy-drawing castes con- 
firms the truth of the statement. The Izhuvans follow the 
Makkatayam rule of inheritance while the Tiyans of 
North Malabar follow the nepotic law of Bhutal Pandiya. 
Being later immigrants, the Izhuvans of Malabar are 
regarded by the Tiyans as of very interior status, just as 
their Cherumas and Pulayas hold the Paraiyas of the 
Tamil country in low estimation. The name Izhuvan is 
derived by Dr. Caldwell from Simhalam, Sihalam, on the 
analogy of the Greek wordlndoi from Sindhu. There can 
be no necessity for thus dragging a SansJirit word through 
many stages, when there is already in the Tamil langu- 
age the simple word Singalam. 


With regard to the second argument, it may be said 
that the word in 'Divara Makkalu' is not ' Divara' or 
Divar, but it is 'Deva or Devara' an ordinary title assum- 
ed by the South Indian kings ; The Kadamba kings 
had it; the Kalian and Marava castes of Madura still 
have it; and a section of the Todas called the Palais 
style themselves *Der-mokh' or the sons of God. The 
Kadambas are said to have been toddy-drawers, because 
toddy-drawing was, and even now is, the special occupa- 
tion of several primitive tribes who are found in various 
parts of India bearing different local names. As sub- 
jects of the Kadimba kings, the palm cultivators of 
Canara assume with pride the name 'Devara makkalu;' 
the Kalians and Maravasare called Tevans or Devans, 
because their ancestors are believed to have been kings, 
and in the last Census several of them have returned their 
caste name as 'Tevan' simply ; the Palais are called 
' Dermokh * because they are the high priests of the 
Todas. According to the 'Dwipa' theory all these 
castes and tribes may be said to be the descendants of 
the ' islanders '! The important caste of toddy-drawers 
who bear the name of Tiyan or Dvipan in Malabar 
is considered in their land of nativity, Ceylon, as stran- 
gers or 'Duravar', How then can we say that the 
palm cultivators and toddy drawers of South India are 
immigrants from Ceylon ? It is probable that a few 
families of toddy-drawers may have returned from Ceylon 
with the aitificers, but not in such large numbers as to 
give a territorial name to an immense caste consisting of 
two millions or moie members and living in various 
parts of Southern India. 

Now coming to the third argument, it may be urgad 


that either the cocoanut might have been omitted to- 
be mentioned by an oversight, or might not have been an 
article .of export. In Southern India it was certainly 
valued and much used by the Tamils for drink and food 
during the first century A. D. 

At any rate this argument is not strong enough to sup- 
port the theory of the migration of such a numerous 
caste from the tiny island of Ceylon. It is also contrary 
to the general law of migration from the north to south 
India during the historic times. 

The argument from the Tamil name of the cocoanut 
palm is more imaginary than real. The word letigu 
found in the Dravidian languages, as tenkaya in Telugu 
and tengina in Canarese, is derived from the root tern or 
ten which means ' honey' or ,' sweetness.' Tengu is the 
sweet or honey tree and not the southern tree as some 
philologists would have us beheve. And ten-disai is the 
sweet direction where Tamil or the 'sweet' tongue is 
spoken. This direction is called in Tamil ten with 
reference to the habitat of the Tamihans, just as mel 
(merku) and kil (kilakku) denote 'west and east' with re- 
ference to the lofty mountains of their country. Since 
ten (/•) ku and tengu are derivatives of the same root ten^ 
it is not fight to say that tengu (cocoanut) is derived 
from terku and call it par excellence the 'southern tree',, 
as if there had been no cocoanut trees in India before 
the introduction of that useful palm from Ceylon by the 

What then is the etymology of the terms Izham, Izha- 
van andTiyan. 'Izham' means the land of Kubera or the 
Indian god of gold (Izham) for which the island of 


Ceylon or Lanka was renowned in the Puranas. This 
word is quite distinct from'Izham' which means 'toddy.' 
The latter is derived from'Izhu,' to draw, and it may be 
found in Telugu as 'Idiga'. It is highly probable that 
'Izham' has come to denote toddy also, as a number ot 
synonyms for toddy indicates the high importance of 
this beverage which was esteemed in early times as 
valuable as gold. On these grounds we are far from 
agreeing with Dr. Caldwell and other scholars in 
tracing the word 'Izham' or 'Izhavan' from 'Simhalam' 
which had already found its way into the Tamil langu- 
age in the form of Singalam. 

Similarly we would derive Tiyan from ti-an, which 
means a 'sweet man,' or one whose occupation is the 
manufacture of the //or 'sweet' drink. It is an occupa- 
tional but not a territorial name applied to this 
class of toddy drawers. When most of the Drvidian 
castes, like Nayadi, Pulayan, Cheruman, Kammalan and 
Panikkan, who are supposed to carry pollution with 
them, possess Dravidian names, why should Tiyant and 
Izhavads alone be called by Sanskrit appellations ? 



(Names of Tamil authors and luorks are printed in Italics. 

Aborigines, 19, 377. 

Academies, the traditional 
account <if the, 252; later, 
254; work of the, 257. 

Accadian, its affinity with Tamil, 
34, 121. 

Accent in Tamil, 135. 

Adiyarknnallar, annotator, 189. 

Adjectives, not declined, 165. 

Agappornl, Nakkirar's commen- 
tary on Iraiyanar's, 253, 405. 

Agastya, 45, 150, 390 ; age of, 
118; grammar, 188, 397; priest 
of the Pandyas. 52 ; students 
of, 237. 

Agglutinative languages, 147. 

Ainknruiniru an early Chera- 
Tamil anthology, 342. 

Alapedai or prolation, 133. 

Alphabet, the Tamil, 113 et seq. 

Alvars, or Vishnuvite saints, 
218 ; names of, 295 ; the 
'first,' 299. 

Ambalakkaran, a caste, 69. 

Ambalavasis, a caste, 103. 

American languages, 172. 

Anaimalai inscriptions, 319. 

Andal, a lady saint, 323. 

Anthologies, Tamil, when com- 
piled, 254, 257. 

Anthropometry, doubted, 14. 

Anti-brahman leal literature, 22 5. 

Appar, a Saiva Saint, 2l7, 305. 

Archaeology, 16. 

Arisil ktzhar, a lamil poet, 209. 

Ariuiachala kavi, 190. 
Aruniindi Sivacharya, a Tamil 

poet and philosopher, 222. 
Artizans, social position of, 74. 
AryanSj-original home ol the, 35; 

conquest of South India, 51. 
Aryan theory of the Tamils, 20 
Asoka, 126. 
Assyrians, 41 • 

Ativira Rama Pandya, a poet 

king, 225, 255. 
Atti-peru, meaning of, 359 f.n. 
Augustus Caesar, an embassy to, 

Ayirai hill, 266, 

Bedar_ a caste, 101. 

Beschi, Father, 225 ; on vowel 

signs, 131. 
Retel-leaf, use of, 329. 
Bharatam^ when tr.^nslated, 247 
Bhatta or later colony of Brah- 

mans, 349, 380. 
Biographies of saints, 296. 
Bitti Deva, of Mysore, 111, 
Brahma-Aryan, a title, 65. 

Brahmans. civilizing the Tamils, 
42 ; invited by Tamil kings, 
59 ; their cxclusiveness, 89 ; 
their influence in Tamil liter- 
ature, 186 ; in Malabar, 348 ; 
when migrated, 379. 

Brahmanism, early, 285-288; in 
Kerala, 373. 

Brahmi characters, 115 ; used 
by Brahmans and Buddhists, 
126 ; and Vatteluttu compar- 
ed, 123 ; all South Indian 
•alphabets traceable to, 127 ; 
except Vatteluttu, 128, 

Brahuis, a Dravidian tribe, 50, 
378 ; and the Dravidians, Dr. 
Grierson on, 37, 38. 

Bray, Mr. Denys, 33 ; on the 
Dravidians, 37 

Brihat Katha, 243, 

Buddhamitra, a Tamil gramma- 
rian, 119,128 ; on mispronun- 
ciation, 137. 

Buhler. Dr. G., on Vatteluttu, 
120, 243. 

Burnell, Dr. A. C, 116 ; on 
Vatteluttu, 120. 



Caldwell. Dr. 33, 412; on the 
word ' Dravida ', 5; on the 
aborigines, 19;onTamil civili- 
sation, 50; on the Paraiyas,81; 
on the Tamil alphabet, 120; 
on Tamil diphthongs, 156; on 
Tamil literature, 201—204; on 
the Alvars, 281; on Malavalam 
345, 359. 

Case terminations, 164. 
Castes, Tamil, 58; regional clas- 
sification of, 62; in Kaja Raja 
Chola's time, 66; origin" of, 67; 
increase of, 7.S; disputes, 74; 
the right and left-hands. 95. 
Caste system, 61 ; Veilalar's 
position in, 61; introduction of, 
75; among the Naga-Dravi- 
dians, 381. 
Cattle-lifting, before a war, 40. 
Ceylon and Tiyans, 415. 
Chakkiyar Kuttu, 190. 
Chera custom?, early, 275. 
Chera kings, dates of certain, 

265; genealogy of, 270. 
Cherumars and Pallans, names 

of castes, 354. 
Chidambaram, temple at, 318. 
Chinese, 161. 
Chintadripetta, 93. 
Chijita,nani, a Jaina work, 219 

293; age of, 255. 
Chtidamani Nigandu. Tamil 

dictionary, 219. 
Chulaviatu, a poem, 219, 392. 
Coimbatore, derivation of, 31. 
Combination of letters, 140. 
Commentators, Tamil, 196 • 
names of, 223;Vaishnava, 223.' 
Commentaries, need for, 223. 
Communication between the 

East and West Coasts, 371. 
Compound words in Tamil 
158; and in Sanskrit, 161. 

Conjeeveram, religions at, 290. 

Consonants, Tamil, 134; soften- 
ing of Sanskrit, 161. 

Copper plate grants, 115 ,• early 
Malabar, 356. 

Cow, its importance, 73. 

Cox, Prof. H., quoted, 15. 
Critical spirit, 196. 

Damodaram Pillai's division of 
Tamil literature, 198-200, 399, 
Dancing women, 190. 
Dandi, a grammarian, 220. 
Dead, disposal of the, 39, 214. 
Dependant letters in Tamil, 133. 
Der-mokh, 415. 
Deva Nagari alphabet, 29. 
Devar (Aryans), 10. 
Devara-makkalu, a title, 415. 
Devar a hymns, 190; and Divya 

prabandam, compared, 292. 
Divakaram of Sendan, a Tamil 

dictionarv, 65,219. 
Dots, use of, in Tamil letters, 122. 
Drama, 187; works on the, 189, 
Dravida, explained, 1; Manu's 
definition, 5; Dr. Caldwell's 
use of , 5; etymology of, 6; and 
Cauda contrasted, 3 
Dravidas, the five, 2; the custom 
of, 3; proper, 4; Nambudries 
not included, 4/. ». 
Dravidins, 61; in Upper India, 
36; not a dark race, 378; 
civilisation of, 60 ; religion of 
early, 283 ; various theories 
concerning, 17 el seq; connec- 
tion with Australians, 18. 
Dravidian, linguistic and ethno- 
logical applications, 37; family 
and IJralo-AltaJc languages, 
170, 171 ; languages, degree 
of relationship among the, 
374 ; their influence in Sans- 
krit, 168, 169 ; interchange of 
letters in, 151 ; migration, not 
by sea, 47 ; thought, 186. 
Drinking, 74. 
Dual termination, 163. 
Dvarasamudram, 378. 

Early Tamil, 173-177. 
Enadi Nayanar, a Saint, 66. 
Ethical literature, 193-195. 
Etymology, Tamil, 162. 
Exegetical period, 222-224. 



Eyinas, an ancient tribe, 12, 76. 
Ezhuttaccliaii, a poet, 361. 

Faction disputes, not in Mala- 
bar, 98. 

Final letters in words, 139. 

First academy, described, 235 ; 
age of, 239. 

Food and the caste system, 73. 

Forbes, Capt., on the North 
Indian Nagas, 27. 

Frazer, Mr. J. G., 20(;. 

French academy, compared 
with Sati^aiu, 260. 

Gait. Mr. G. A., quoted, 15. 

Gandaraditya, a king, 255, 292. 

Gandharvam, a form of mar- 
riage, 101 ,• gandharvis, dan- 
cmg women, 190. 

Gatitnniaiiar, a poet, 217. 20(5. 

Gender, rational, 103. 

Geosraphy, the Tamil's igno- 
rance of, 142 

Guana Vcitiyaii, a Tamil work, 

Grammars, the Tamil, 114. 

Grantha-Tamil characters, 114 ; 
why introduced, 128 ; rules lor 
naturalisation of, 128, 

Grierson, Dr., 17, 39 ; on Tamil 
literature, 207. 

Gunabhara, a Pallava king, 305. 

Gunadhya, age of, 243. 

Giiniparamparai, or the lives of 
Vaishnava reformers, 220. 

Haddon, Dr., 19. 
Haeckel, Dr.. 18. 
Hill tribes, 68. 

Hinduism, history of, 282, 285. 
Hiranya Varma, a king, 402. 
History, foreign to Hindus, 195. 
Hovelacque, Dr., 35, 172, 195. 
Hunter, Sir W. W., on Dravi- 

dian migration, 23, 108 ; on 

Tamil literature, 204. 
Huxley, Prof. T., 18. 
Hymnal period, 217. 

Idaiyan, history of, 71, 76, 103 ; 
in Malabar, 353, 

llakkaiia Vilakkam, 224. 

llakkana Kottn, 224. 

Ilango-Adigal, a Jaina poet, 216. 

Images of Saints, 338. 

Indo-Europeanisms in Tamil, 
167, 168. 

Inflection of verbs in Malaya- 
lam, 368. 

Initial letters in words, 138. 

Inscriptions, on social position 
of certain castes, 75, 77 ; 
giving a Paraiya's decision, 
80; on the Kaikolas, S2 et. 
seq ; use of Vatteluttu and 
Grantha-Tamil in, 127. 

Interchange of letters in, 136. 

Ir or r, as plural suffix, 163. 

Irrigation tanks, 43 ; the system 
borrowed from the Baby- 
lonians, 43. 

Islamism and Brahmanism, 186. 

Isolating languages, 147. 

lyakkan or Yaksha, a Marava 
chieftain, 55. 

lyal Tamil, 187. 

Izham, meaning of, 416. 

Izhavas, a caste, 66, 72, 77, 413. 

Izha-putchi, a tax, 72. 

Jains, position of, in the caste 
dispute, 110 ; a right-hand 
caste, 112. 

Jaina, Sangam, foundation of, 
251 ; Tamil works, 219. 

Jespersen, Dr., quoted, 261. 

Johnston, Mr. C. J., 86 /. n. 

Kacchiyappa, a Tamil poet, 220. 

Kadars, a forest tribe, 13,22.56. 

Kadunkon, a Pandya king, 25?. 

Kaikolan, 65, 95 ; as temple 
servants, 97 ; were Eyinas, 
82; origin of, 82, 83 ; not good 
weavers, 83. 

Kalabhras, foreign invaders, 250. 

Kalingam, meaning of, 83. 

Kaliiigaltnpayani, a poem, 221. 

Kalittogai, an anthology, 216. 

Kalladanar, 3, 216; age of, 409. 



Kalian, a caste, 29, 69. 
Kamban, 219, 262 ; date of, 54 ; 

lectured in Malabar, 343. 
Kammalas, thread wearing bj, 
75, 77, 108 ; in Malabar, 104 ; 
origin of the, 85,-88 ; their 
version of caste disputes, 97. 

Kanakasabhai, Mr. V.,his etymo- 
logy of the word Tamil, 7 ; his 
theory of Mongolian origin, 
13, 25, 192 ; on Early Chera 
kings, 272; on the Pandiya 
kings, 388. 

Kanchipuram, description of, 76; 
origin of caste disputes at, 99. 

Kannappa Nayanar, a saint, 29. 

Kaimassa Ramayanam, 360. 

Kapilar, 4 5, 216, z68, 270, 
271; as name of three different 
poets, 197; not a Paraiya, 248. 

Kappiyanar, a poet, 266. 

Karaikk alaniinai , a saint, 403. 

Karaiyan, a fishing caste, 72. 

Karanam, a caste, 75. 

Katantra, a grammar, 118. 

Kaveripatam, destruction of, 60. 

Kayslna Valudi, age of, 252. 

Kazluirambliaii, a student of 
Agastya, 397. 

Keane, Dr., A.H., 19; on Tolka- 
pyam, 138. 

Kerala, a Kodum-Tamil country, 
264, 341 ; Nambudris owner- 
ship oi, 350- 

Khonds, a hill tribe, 90. 

Kings, duties of Hmdu, 108. 

Kocchengannan,age of, 250,319. 

Kodum-Tamil, where used, 142. 

Kol-Ayan, a shepherd caste, 353. 

Koliyaiis, weavers, 80. 

Konatiri, meaning of, 353. 

K'jftayam plates, 360. 

Krishiiagata, a poem, 360. 

Kshatri\as, 59, 103. 

Kudumi'or tuft of hair. 389. 

Kulabckliaralvdr, a Chera-Tamil 
saint. 309,'343. 

Kuji(ialakesi,n Jaina work, 219. 

Kunnalakon, meaning of, 353. 

Rural, 113; Sanskrit miluence in 
the, 194. 

Kurichan, a hill tribe, 91. 
Kurumbas, a tribe, 13, 69. 

Language, no safe test of race, 
13; changes in its growth, 
145; morphol jgical classifi- 
cation of, 147. 

Left-hand castes, 95. 

Lemurian theory, the, 2i, 33. 

Letters, number and order in 
Tamil, 132, 137; peculiar to 
Tamil, 134; combination; 117; 
'levelling' in Malayalam, 368. 

Linguistic affinity, 153. 

Literary forgeries, very common 
in Tamil, 197. 

Loan words, how to delect, 155. 

Locality and communities, 73. 

Logan, Mr., on the derivation 
of ' Kizhakku,' 345, 412. 

Long CT and 9, 51, 61. 

LydeUker, Prof., 18. 

Macdonell, Prof. A. A., 118. 

M'Crindle, Mr. J. VV., 44 

Madigas, leather workers, 101. 

Madura, the Soulliern, 240; 
seat of Tamil learning, 256 ; 
Sangams, 232; purana, 394-6. 

Mahabharata, 1 ; interpolations 
in the, 51; its popularity, 52; 
translated, 256, 393 ; date of 
the war, 239. 

Mahawanso, on the caste dis- 
putes, 102. 

Mahishya'^, a mi.xed caste, 75. 

Makkalpravidians), 10. 

Malabar, a Kodum-Tamil coun- 
try, 344; castes and the 
Tamils, 351; temples in, a47. 

Malaiman, a caste, 101. 

Malaspir, a hill trmc, 56. 

Mala>alain, a dialect of Tamil, 
9, 375; not an iiiflectiQnal 
language, 149; meaning of, 
341; early literature in, 357 ; 
and vulgar Tamil, 367; gram- 
mar, 365, 366-369 ; levelling 
process in, 368 ; vocabulary, 
369-371 ; why separated 
from Tamil, 371-6. 



Mamballi, copper plates, langu- 
age of, 359. 

Manavalamainiini, a Vaishnava 
reformer, 22J, 385. 

Mangudi-kisliar, a poet, 78 ; 
Marudanar, 21(5. 

Maiiikka Vachakar, 392; et seq. 

Maniiiickalai, :i Chera-Tamil 
epic, 39. 

Manipravala, 229. 

Maran, etymology of, 31. 

Maravas, a caste, 11, 70. 

Maratgruinasiiinhauda, a Saivite 
philo^opner, 222. 

Marayan, a caste, 00. 

Marriage, ti:e Rakshasa form 
of, 55 ; among the early 
Tamils, 214 ; connection 
amoiiiit the Tamil kings, 372. 

Marumakkatayam hw, 103. 

Mathematics, Tamil, 192, 

Mauryan alphabet, ]25. 

Max Muller, quoted, 258. 

Mayura Varma, a king, 348. 

Medi.-eval Tamil, 177-180. 

Meykaiuia Deva, a Saivite 
philosopher, 22-2. 

Middle letters in words, 140. 

Modern Tamil, 180-; 83; charac- 
ters, 129, why ;mgular, 131. 

Mo.iern, Tamil prose, 230. 

Molony, Mr.J.C, on Tamil, 135. 

Monastic learning, 224. 

Mongolian theory, 24. 

Moods, 165. 

Mostyar, a Tamil poet, 243. 

Mutattama Kaiitiiyar, 217. 

Mudukudumi Heravaludi, a 
Pandiya king, 388, 391. 

Mudattirumarnn. a king, 252, 

Mukundamalai, a poem, 310. 

Mussalmans, attitude towards 
foreign literature, 186, 187, 

Music, 187; works on, 189; his- 
tory of, 189, 191. 

Musiri, an ancient town, 346. 
Muttatasa, feudal chiefs, 69. 

Muttiriyans, a caste, 69. 

Muttollayiram, a poem, 217. 

Nacchiiiarkiniyar, a Tamil 

commentator, 45, 118, 123, 

328 ; on Vowel-consonants, 

Nagas, 10 ; their connection 

with the Pallis, 10 f.n.] with 

the Cholas, 11; described, 27; 

in S. India, 28, G9; tribes, 61. 
Naga-Dravidians, 377. 
'Nagakiimara kavyam, a Jaina 

work, 219. 
Naidatam, a Tamil classic, 225. 
Nakkirar, 216, 395; his account 

of Academies, 252. 
Naladiyar, date of, 69, 219, 254. 
Nalayiiaprabandam, 291. 
Nallandni'aiiar, author of 

Kalittogai, 216. 
Nambis or Nambudris, early 

Hrahmans of Tamil country, 

349, 379. 
Nambudris, 103; meaning of 

347; not the sole Jenmis, 350; 

influence of, 358 ; and Bhatta 

Brahir.ans, 373. 
Nanihiyandar Nanibi, a .roet, 

220, 407; age of, 293. 
Name giving, 337. 
Naiiimalvar, a Vishnuvite Saint 

65 ; Sanskrit words in his 

works, 128; life and writings 

of, 324; age of, 327-338; on 

the Chera temples, 347. 
Naiiiml,i\ Tamil grammar, 161. 
Napputanai', a poet, 217. 
Nasalisation in .Malayalam, 3'!. 
Nathamuni, 220, 291; 327, 334. 
Nattaltanar, a poet, 216. 
Nayadis, a low caste, 90. 
Nayanars or Saiva saints, 218. 
Nayars, 103; composition of the 

caste, 352. 
Negritos, 56. 

Neniinadam, a grammar, 219. 
Nelson, J. H., Ill, 
Nilakcsi, a Jaina or Buddhist 

work, 269. 
Nouns, 162; of quality, 162. 

'^acch'Jlaiyar, a poetess, 268. Occupation and castes, 73 



Orthography, Tamil, 113; Sans- 
krit and Tamil compared, 155. 
Otiaikkutlau, a poet, 84, 220. 

PadirruppatUi, a Chera-Tamil 
work, 342. 

Pall an, a low caste, 70, 71. 

Pallava, meaning of, 65, 69, 70, 
214; not liked by Tamil kings, 
105; downfall of their king- 
dom, 106. 

Palli, a caste, 70. 

Pansor Tamil tunes, 188, 332, 

Panans, 11, 54, 102, 235. 

Panchalas, the {see Kammalas) 

Pandya kings, 48 ; early, 387 ; 
genealogy of, 391. 

Panini, a grammarian, 117. 

PannJriipadalani, a work, 217. 

Panntrupattiyal, 136. 

Paranar, a poet, 216, 267, 271. 

Paraiyas, etymology of, 78 ; 
origin of the people, 77; 
their former greatness, 79-81; 
Dr. Caldwell on the, 81, 101. 

Parani, a war song, 221. 

Parts of speech, 162; difference 
in Tamil and Sanskrit, 163. 

Particles (Idai-chol), 162. 

Pattanavan, a fishing caste, 72. 

Pavanandi, on letters, 113, 128. 

Pazhamoli, a poem, 219. 

Per-arayan, a title, 65. 

Periyalvat , 320; age of, 321. 

Periyavacchan Ptllai, a Vaish- 
nava commentator, 322. 

Pcrnnipaiiarnippadai, 76. 

Perinuievatiar, a Tamil poet, 
219; age of, 247, 254. 

Periingimrur Kizhar, 269. 

Perunkaiisikanar , a poet, 217. 

Philology, principles of, 143. 

Phonetics, Tamil deficient, 134. 

Pidaran, caste, ()i>. 

Pillai Pcrnmal Aiyangar, 225. 

Pingala Nigandii, a Tamil Dic- 
tionary, 219. 

Poigaiyar, a poet, 250. 

Poli or change in letters, 136. 

Poll-tax, 107. 

Polluting castes, 65. 

Polysynthetic languages, 147. 
Pope, Dr., on Saivism, 383, 401. 
Poyyamozhi Piilavar, a poet, 255. 
Prabhtdmga lila, a poem, 225. 
Prayoga Viveliam, 153. 
Pre-academic period of Tamil 

literature, 212. 
Pie-Aryans, the three types of, 61 
Presents to Tamil poets, 260. 
Pronouns, relative, 165. 
Pronunciation, of a-, 133; of to 

(Zh), 134, 
Prose literature, 228-230; need 

for, 184. 
Pugazheiidi, a poet, 220. 
Puranic Hinduism, 288. 
Purapporul Vcnbamalai^ a poem, 

55, 217, 343. 

Quantity in Tamil letters, 133. 

Racial varieties, data for de- 
termination of, 13. 

Kajaraja Chola's inscriptions, 77, 
83; castes of his time, 66. 

Rakshasas, the, 9, 378; ancestors 
of Paraiyas, Pallas etc., 54; 
Rakshasam, a form of marri- 
age, 55, 104. 

Rama, a tvpical Aryan, 53. 

Ramanuja Chary a, 111, 222. 

Ramayana, the, 51. 

Rangacharya, Prof. M., on caste 
disputes, 101. 

Ravanii, 52 ; not a Dravidian 
Tamil, 53. 

Relations, Tamil words to 
denote, 105. 

Religion, broke up castes, 73, 
74 ; in the academic period, 
251 ; of the Tamils, 382. 

Rhetoric, 166. 

Rhys Davids, Dr., on the Tamil 
alphabet, 119. 

Rice, JMr. L., 102. 

Right-hand faction, 92 ct- scq ; 
castes, 95; army mentioned in 
inscription, 106, 107. 
Risley,Sir H.H., 12,13, 17, 24,32. 
Roman colony at Madura, 48, 244. 
Rudran Kannaiiar, a poet, 217. 



Sacred hymns, collection of 

Tamil, 292. 
Saints, the Tamil, 218. 
Saiva activity, early, 292-294. 
Saiva mutts, learning in 224. 
Saiva philosophy, not Dravi- 

dian. 192. 
Saiva Siddhantam defined, 384. 
Saivisro, 383. 
Sakkai, a caste, 66. 
Sakti workship, 96. 
Sambandam or marriage, 103. 
Sandhi or coalescence, 160. 
Sangam, references to, 231, 392; 
meaning of, 23; origin of, 234; 
age of the second, 241, 243 ; 
Buddhistic origin, 2.52. 
Sankaracharya, 2. 
Sanskrit compounds, 159; poets 
and Tamil Sangams, 238 ; 
and Tolkapyam, 128. 
Saitanar, 2l6, 389 ; a Buddhist 

poet, 251, 258. 
Sekkilar, age of, 220, 293. 
Selva Kamhi, a Brahman, 320. 
Sembadavan, caste, 72. 
Semman, leather-workers, 8.5. 
Sen-Tamil, where spoken, 141. 
Sewell, Mr. R., on South Indian 
people, 20 ; on the Tamil 
alphabet, 124. 
Shanan, a caste, 71. 
Ship, Tamil words for the, 48. 
Siddhar school 226. 
Sil appadikaram , an early Che- 

ra Tamil work, 342. 
Siva giianatpu 111, on letters, 133; 
on usage, 144 ; on the origin 
of Tamil. 149. 
Sivavakkfyar and Tirumalisai 

Alvar, 306. 
Smith, Mr. Vincent, 39, 49, 265. 
Social life in Kerala, 274. 
Soligas, a forest tribe, 56. 
Sourashtras, a weaver caste, 60. 
Srivaramangalam, 331. 
Sutidaraiiiiirti Nayanar, 407, 
Suryanarayana Sastri, 200. 
Swaminatha Desika, on Tamil 
and Sanskrit, 152; on Tamil 
letters, 156. 

Tamil, the word explained, G; 
Mr.Kanakasabhai's derivation, 
7; affinity with Uralo-Altaic 
languages, 14, 34 ; an agglu- 
tinative language, 148, 381 ; 
changes in, 145 ; the Divine 
origin of, 149; not the only 
Dravidian language, 150 ; its 
relationship with Sanskrit, 
152, 153; and Sanskrit com- 
pared, 163, 166; affiliation of, 
169, 172; history of early, 173; 
mediaeval, 17 7; modern, 180; 
peculiarities of early, 267-280; 
Nambudris" attitude to, 368. 

Tamils, the three racial types 
among the, 10, 56; a warlike 
race, 41, 185, 261 ; their cul- 
ture, 42; their foreign trade, 
47-50; in Sanskrit epics, 51; 
probable date of their migra- 
tion, 47; their acquaintance 
with the Romans, 48; and the 
Assyrians, 121 ; their com- 
merce with the Egyptians, 
121; rehgion of the, 215, 382. 

Tamil-akam, boundaries of, 8. 

Tamil alphabet, history of, 114; 
when introduced, 115; before 
Agastva, 122; Mr. R.Sewell on 
the, 124; defective, 124, 134; 
origin of, 136. 

Tamil castes, 67. 

Tamil civilisation, 240; Mr. 
Kanakasabhai on, 192; Dr. 
R. Caldwell on early, 19.3; 
due to Agastya, 237. 

Tamil Dictionary, copiousness 
of. 261. 

Tamil kings, and the Mahabha- 
rata war, 44; are Kshatri\-as, 
61 ; of Malabar, 357; none 
in Rama's time, 54. 

Tamil learning,how encouraged, 
255, 253. 

Tamil ]etters,origin of, 136, 382. 

Tamil literature, extent of, 191; 
division of. 187; posterior to 
Aryan contact, 195 ; Mr. 
Damodaram Pillai's division 
of, 198-200; Mr. Suryanara- 



yaiia's,200,201;Dr. Caldwell's 
201— 20i; Dr. Hunter's, 204 
M. Juhen Vinson's, 207-210 
proposed division, 211-213 
periods of, 386, 399 ; pre- 
academic period, 212 ; 
academic period, 213; hymnal 
period, 217; exegetical period, 
222-224 ; modern period, 224, 
226; and by Namhudri's, 372. 

Tamil research, the new School 
of, 46, 51. 

Tamil Scholars, self-sufficiency 
of, 195. 

Tamil words inSanskrit, 154, 161. 

Tamil works, approved by the 
Sangam, 216. 

Tayamanaswami, 65. 

Tembavatii, a poem, 225. 

Temple building begun, 290. 

Tengu or cocoanut, 415. 

Ten Tamil Idvlls, The, 88. 

Ten Tens, the, 264. 

Ter-Chelian, age of, king, 253. 

Tevan, a title, 415. 

Third Sangam, described, 245 ; 
dissolution of, 248, 251. 

Thomas, Mr. E., on the Indian 
alphabets, ll9. 

Tiruchengunrur, a Brahman 
centre in Kcala, 347. 

Tirumalisal Alvar, 302-307. 

Tirumangai Alvar, 29, 311 ; 
age of, 317. 

Tiriimurais, a collection of Saiva 
religious hymns, 220. 

Tirunakkurasar, same as Appar. 

Tiriippaii alvar, 307. 

Tinittakka Deva, 255. 

Tiriittonda-Togai, a list of Saiva 
Saints, 406. 

Tiruialluvar, an ethical poet, 
216, 285; malai, 247-249. 

Tiyans, a Malabar caste, 103, 
411. and Izhavans, oo5, 417. 

Todas, 13, 38, 379. 

Tolkapyar, age of, 116, 400; des- 
cribes only Vatteluttu, 122, 
126; Mr. A. H. Keane on, 138; 
on final letters, 139. 

Tomb stones, 40. 

Tondaradifpodi Alvar, 307. 
Topinard, Dr.. 18. 
Toti, meaning of, SO. 
Trade with Babylon, iT f.ii, 43. 
Traditions, 16; value ot, 3S7. 
Translations, Tamil, 219. 
Travancore, a Kodum-Tamil 
country, 344. 

Turkic and Tamil, 165. 

Trignana Sambanda fJayanar 
a Saiva samt, 396, 207. 

Udayanakavyam, a poem, 219. 

Ugra Peruvaludi, a king, 249; 
age of, 252. 

Ula, a kind of poem, 221, 222. 

Umapati Sivacharya, a Saivite 
divine, 222. 

Umaru Pulavar, a poet, 225. 

Unnayi Variyar, a Malayalam 
poet, 361. 

Uralo-Altaic languages and 
Tamil, 14; group and the 
Dravidian family, 170. 

Usimuri, a work on Tamil pro- 
sody, 217. 

Vaidya, an extinct caste, 64. 

Vaikhanasa Dharmasutra, 87. 

Vajra Nandi, a Jain teacher, 251. 

Valaiyapaii, a Jaina work, 219. 

Vali and Sugriva, 56. 

Valluvas, Paraya priests, 99. 

Vanamamalai Mutt, 331. 

Vanniyan, a caste, 69. 

Vanaras, the, 51, 56, 377. 

Vannans, a caste, 77. 

Varagunamangai, 330. 

Variyan, a Malabar caste, 66. 

Vatteluttu, 114 ; history of, 116 ; 
introduced, 119; Dr. Burnell 
on, 120; Drs. Buhler and 
Caldwell on, 120 ; and other 
alphabets compared, 123 ; 
independant origin of, 121; 
borrowed from Semites, 124; 
Tolkapyar's description of, 
126 ; not borrowed from 
Brahmi, 128, 131. 

Vedan, a hunting caste, 29, 101. 

Vedas, unwritten, 234. 



Vedanta Desika, 222, 385. 

Velaikkarar (infanfrj'), 106. 

Vellallas, the, 38, 61; etymology 
of tiie name, 42; their posi- 
tion in the caste system, 61 ; 
account of, 63-65; in Mala- 
bar, 353. 

Velirs (Vellalas), 61, 62. 

Veiibainahn, a Chera-Tamil 
work. (See Piirapporul.) 

Venkayva, Mr. V., on the Tamil 
alphabet, 125. 

VillifiUtiirar, a poet, 225. 

Vira Fukka Raya, 112. 

Virakkals or tombstones, 40. 

Vinson. M. Julien, 207-210. 

Virasoiiyavi, 65 f. n.; 161, 220. 

Vishnuism, earlv history of, 288; 
Dr. Pope on, 385, 

Vishnu temples, ancient, 289. 

Vishnuvardhana, 4 king, 336, 

Vocabulary, Tamil, 153; Malaya- 
lam, 369-371. 

Vowel-consonantal signs, 129- 

Vulgar Tamil and Malavalam, 


Wars with the Cheras, 372. 
West-coast towns in Tamil 

literature, 3-16. 
Whitney, Prof. W. D., on the 

growth of lanjjuage, 145-147. 
Word-formation in Tamil and 

Sanskrit, 157. 
Words, rules for Tamil, 137-140 ; 

coining not allowed, 262. 

Yakshas or Rakshasas, 54. 
Yanadis, a forest tribe, 88. 
Yavanas, 59/. ;/., 244, 265. 
Yazh, described, IciS. 
Yesodarakavyani , a poem, 219 

Zh (iP), 30, 134. 

The End. 

The Guardian Press, Madras. 



Los Angeles 
This book is DUE on the last date stamped below. 


WAR 2 3 1978 


NOV 24 1986 

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