Saturday, June 10, 2017

6. Pāzhi- Pāli- Māgadhā - Shāka Dweepa connection known from Tamil texts.

We are in the middle of a discussion on the verses of Pandikkovai that say that Kon Nedumaran captured South Pāzhi. The word Pāzhi has the letter (zha) that is unique to Tamil. Adiyārkku Nallar in his commentary to Silappadhikaram mentioned it as South Pāli (पालि) (பாலி) and not Pāzhi (பாழி). The zhi (ழி) – li (லி) change had happened. The zhi – li change is very much natural as even today the speakers of Tamil who cannot pronounce zhi ((ழி), pronounce it as ḷi (ளி) with retroflex l or just as ‘li’, with non- retroflex l.  The transformation is from zhi (ழி) to ‘ḷi’(ளி) (retroflex l) and to ‘li’ (லி). This transformation is  Pāzhi > Pāḷi > Pāli.

The phonetic similarity and transformation of Pāzhi to Pāli is significant as it is everybody’s knowledge that there existed Pāli as the oldest language of common people in India. There is no standard spelling for the word Pāli. There is textual evidence to say that the word Pāli was written as Pāḷi with retroflex l (1).  The use of retroflex l in Pāḷi is an important element linking it with Pāzhi (பாழி). This raises the question whether Pāli language was connected to Pāzhi.

Let us first take a look at the background of Pāli language. The most commonly held opinion is that Pāḷi was the language of the Buddhist canon. There is unanimous opinion that Buddha taught in the language of the common people in his place. It was Magadha and the language of the locals was Māgadhī. Buddhist scholars concur with the view that Māgadhī was the language of Buddha’s teachings. This has led to the acceptance of Pāli as referring to Māgadhī. This is further reinforced by the fact that Jaina canons were written in Ardha- Māgadhī , in a way to differ from the language of Buddhist canons. (2)

Now the question arises if Māgadhī was spoken by the common people of Magadha, in what way they can be connected with Pāzhi of Tamil lands or in what way their language (Pāli / Māgadhī) can be linked with Pāzhi of Tamil lands, except that Pāli is phonetically similar to Pāzhi?
There are two possible scenarios linked with South Pāzhi.

(1) The Pandyan’s land including South Pazhi got submerged sometime in a distant past. Where did the survivors go? From Sangam texts we come to know that there were survivors and along with the king they had entered present day South India. Did all of them settle down in Tamil lands or was there any scope to believe that some of them went to other places in India? Did the survivors after submergence of Pāzhi enter the Indian mainland and continue with the dialect they were speaking earlier and that came to be known as Pāli?

(2) The other possibility centres on what happened to the people who were subdued by the Pandyan king when he took control of South Pāzhi. What happened to the people who inhabited that place until then? Did they continue to live there by accepting the authority of Kon Nedumaran? But the kind of title, ‘Panjavan’ that Kon Nedumaran got, conveys that he caused extreme suffering to them. The best way out for them was to have escaped from that place and ultimately from the Pandyan regions. Did they enter Indian mainland and spread far and wide? Did they bring along with them their dialect which was recognised by the name of the place from which they came?

These two background scenarios give scope to believe that people of olden times had shifted from sunken Pāzhi to Indian mainland. Their language was identified by the place of their origin.

This gives rise to the next question on how they came to be known as Māgadhās and not by the name of the language Pāli that they were supposed to have spoken.
For these questions, Tamil texts contain some clues and also some explanations. 

Māgadhās in Tamil literature

Māgadhās were a people. They find mention in ancient Tamil texts. They along with Sūta and Vaidhālika formed a group and made a living by singing in praise of the kings and narrating the stories of valiant kshatriya soldiers.

When the Cheran King Seguttuvan started off an expedition to the Himalayas, Māgadhās, Sūtas and Vaidhālikas came to him and wished him success in the expedition.

மாகதப் புலவரும் வைதாளிகரும் சூதரும் 
நல் வலந்தோன்ற வாழ்த்த(3)

Meaning:- மாகதப் புலவரும்- Māgadha poets, வைதாளிகரும் – Vaidhalikas, சூதரும் – Sūtas, நல்வலந்- good victory , தோன்ற – to get, வாழ்த்த- eulogised.

These three people were always mentioned as a group in the Tamil texts. They were not immigrants or foreign to Tamil lands. They were there in all kingdoms, mostly in the capital cities, closer to the King’s location. In the above lines, their location was in Vanji, the capital of Chera king Senguttuvan.
In an earlier chapter in Silappadhikaram, they were mentioned as having residence in Pukār (Pumpukār), the capital city of the Cholas. That context also explains the kind of people they move with or live with. They were all permanent residents of Pukār.

That chapter describes the plan of the city of Pukār. Pukār had two separate residential areas, one for immigrants or floating population and another for local population. Māgadhās, Sūtas and Vaidhālikas had residence in the area of local population.
சூதர், மாகதர், வேதாளிகரோடு....” (4)  

They lived as a community along with Nazhigai- kaNakkar (those keep track of time), Shanthi kootthar (dancers), courtesans, unmarried women dedicated to dancing (they mostly danced in temples), prostitutes, helpers and servants engaged in household works, players of musical instruments and jesters.

All these people had residence in Pattina-p-pākkam of Pukār city with identifiable variation in their houses. That is, by looking at a house one could say who among them were residing there.

All these people living as one unit shared something in common. They were entertainers and had access to the king’s court and entertained the king and others in upper echelons. They made a living out of their acquaintance with the palace people. Of them Māgadhās, Sūtas and Vaidhālikas were engaged in singing and praising the king whenever a situation arose. The time keeper was consulted for knowing the auspicious time to express their talents in the presence of the king which made their appearance and words something of an auspicious omen for the king.

The mention about these three people appears in the text on Pandyan region too. The Sangam Text Madurai-k-kānchi describes the entertainment given by them in the city of Madurai as an everyday occurrence.

சூதர் வாழ்த்த, மாகதர் நுவல
வேதாளிகரோடு நாழிகை இசைப்ப (5)

 This verse gives the important information about their job.

According to the commentary to these verses by Nacchinārkkiniyar
The Sūtas were those who used to sing praises by standing.

The Māgadhās were those who used to be seated while singing praises of the victories and greatness of the king. (இருந்தேத்துவார்)

The Vaidhālikas used play instruments of their expertise. (வைதாளிகர் தத்தம் துறைக்குரியனவற்றையிசைப்ப)

All these three people always performed as a group. Madurai-k-kanchi says that one could find them in the streets of Madurai giving their co-ordinated performance in the pre-dawn time every day. The people and those in the palace including the king used to wake up hearing their songs which were in the nature of praises of the glory and valour of the king.

This kind of scenario in the capital cities of Tamil kings also existed in the capital city of north India particularly Ayodhya of Rama!

Māgadhās and Sūtas in Valmiki Ramayana

We come across the same kind of reference to these people (minus Vedhalikas) in Valmiki Ramayana.
King Dasharatha had decided to transfer the crown to Rama. Sita was eagerly waiting to receive Rama after knowing this news. But Rama came to her chamber with his face slightly turned down. A perplexed Sita started enquiring Rama as she noticed a change in the mood in him and in the surroundings. One of the things she told Rama was about the absence of the songs of Māgadhās and Sūtas.

She says,
वाग्मिनो बन्दिनः अपि प्रहृष्टाः त्वम् नर ऋषभ |
स्तुवन्तः अद्य दृश्यन्ते मन्गलैः सूत मागधाः || (6)

nararR^ishhTaaH = oh the best of men! prahR^ishhTaaH = The overjoyed ; vaagminaH = eloquent; vandinashchaapi = bards; suutamaagadhaaH = Sutas and Magadhas who sing portions of epic poems and ancient ballads ; na dR^ishyante = are not being seen ; atra = here; stuvantaH = praising; tvaam = you ; maNgalaiH = with auspicious words.

“Nor the overjoyed and eloquent bards Sutas and Maagadhas (who sing portions of epic poems and ancient ballads ) are seen here , praising you with auspicious words”.

The occasion of the crowning of Rama was a momentous one that professional singers would not miss it. They could be expected to crowd around the mansions of the king and the queen to give their best performance and receive gifts in return. The absence of their sounds was something conspicuous that Sita did not fail to notice. Only if such performances had been the norms of the times, Sita could have made this observation.

The professional performers were Māgadhās and Sūtas, the same people who appear in Tamil texts and had permanent residence in Tamil cities 2000 years ago. The verse in Valmiki Ramayana shows that they were there in places far away from Tamil lands in a time period that can be truly termed as ‘times of yore’.

The sound factor created by them is something that is made out from Sita’s observation. These performers were giving their performance in the streets and outside the mansions of royal people. So the decibel level of their performance aided by the musical instruments must have been higher than normal to reach the people inside the mansions and houses. One will be surprised to know that noisiness of Māgadhās finds mention in Yajur Vedas!

Māgadhās in Yajur Vedas

Verse 5 of Book 30 of Sukla Yajur Veda gives a list of the attributes that bind with specific people. For example it says that priesthood is for a Brahmin. Royalty is for a king. Darkness is for a robber because that is what helps him in his efforts. In that list it says that excessive noise is for a Māgadhā!

“For Brahman Priesthood he binds a Brahman to the stake; for Kshatra Royalty  a Rajanya; for the Maruts a Vaisya; for Penance a Sudra; for Darkness a robber; for Hell a homicide or a man who has lost his consecrated fire; for Misfortune a eunuch; for Venality an Ayogu; for Kama a harlot; for Excessive Noise a Magadha;” (7)

The same chapter connects ‘noise’ to a snarler, but excessive noise is always associated with a Māgadhā!

This description of Māgadhās in Yajur Veda read along with the verses in Tamil and Valmiki Ramayana establish beyond doubt that Māgadhās as a people engaged in a particular profession of singing loudly with all paraphernalia were in existence for a very long time in the entire Indian sub continent.

Origin of Māgadhās and Sūtas from Vishnu Purana.

The story of the origin of Māgadhās is found in Vishnu Purana in the story of the birth of Prithu. There is mythological content in the description of Prithu’s birth. But sages have always liked to say things with hidden meanings and therefore we have to sift out the inner meanings.

Vishnu Purana traces the origins of Māgadhās and Sūtas to the times of Prithu from whom the earth received the name Prithvi. Prithu’s time marks the period when cultivation of the land started. Until then people were subsisting on hunted products and the naturally available vegetable products of the earth.

Prithu was said to have been born from the corpse of his father Vena. Vena led a life of vanity and therefore was killed by the sages. This is something absurd. There must be some hidden meaning behind this idea.

There is no proper etymology for Vena in Sanskrit, but this word has a definite meaning in Tamil.

Vena sounds like ‘veeN’ வீண் in Tamil having the meaning wasteful or vain. The same attribute that sages had given to Vena is there as the meaning of a similar sounding word in Tamil!

Birth from Vena’s corpse could imply that from something wasteful or wasted ones or of things that are no longer available, people had to develop new ways and things for continuing their life.
The first to be born from the corpse of Vena was a dwarf hunter. It was the symbol of evil Vena. 
Therefore it was discarded. This implies that until then people were dependant on hunting and hunted products for living. By discarding the dwarf hunter (the first product from Vena’s corpse), it is made known that people decided to stop depending on hunting for food.

Prithu who was born after the hunter went after the land and extracted milk from it, meaning to say that he extracted benefits from land. This implies starting of agricultural operations. Prithu was known for having started cultivation of the land. Like this many things were developed from Prithu’s times and this is mentioned by Vishnu Purana as birth of different people for different works.

In this context Vishnu Purana says that the Māgadhās and Sūtas were born from the sacrifice at the birth of Prithu. They were asked by the sages to praise the king. They refused to do so, saying that the king had not yet started doing any heroic action. For this the sages asked them to sing the future acts that were likely to be done by the king so that the king would know what he was expected to do. This looked agreeable for Māgadhās and Sūtas and they started singing and praising the expected valorous acts of king Prithu. 

Vishnu Purana says,

“The virtues thus celebrated by the Suta and the Magadha were cherished in the remembrance of the Raja, and practised by him when occasion arose(8)

This narration from Vishnu Purana establishes the legendary existence or a long time existence of a group of people by name Māgadhās and Sūtas. They were known for nothing other than singing the glory of kings which could be real or imagined but which itself acted as an impetuous for the kings to do things in such a way that entered the ballads of these bards.

Though Vishnu Purana says that Māgadhās and Sūtas were born along with king Prithu from the sacrifice of Vena, the description about their capability to sing the acts of the king before they were done shows that that such people existed beforehand and they did not come into existence for the first time in Prithu’s times. They must have existed even before Prithu’s times or else their legendary profession could not have found mention in the story of Vishnu Purana.

They as a people had spread all over the land, been to many kingdoms, seen or heard about the victories of kings and composed them as songs and sung before the kings to please them and to inspire them as well. Narration in Vishnu Purana only reiterates the fact that such singers existed as inevitable parts of the groups found in the surroundings of the king. This clarifies the mystery of how the same type of people by name Māgadhās and Sūtas could exist in Deep South in a place like Pukār and also in a northern city like Ayodhya at a remote past.

The common feature that made them all the same, wherever they were, was the ability to compose and sing and the knowledge of wars and war-front valour.

The interest in war related events must have come as a genetic feature - something we know from Manu’s  classification of people based on varna-mix.

Māgadhās and Sūtas in Manu Smriti.

According to Manu Smriti, Māgadhā is he who is born to a Kshatriya female by a Vaisya male.
Sūta is he who is born to a Brahmana female by a Kshatriya male. (9)

The Kshatriya connection to both Māgadhā and Sūta was there. This made them take interest in warfare and war-front events of the kings.

Manu thinks that a Sūta would be capable of managing horses and chariots and Māgadhā would be interested in trade. But the Sūta - Māgadhā combination that we have seen so far were experts in composing and singing the war-front valour and also past histories of kings and kingdoms. This trait seems to be something different from what Manu contemplated.

One may think that none of what we have explained so far answers the riddle of Pāzhi- Pali connection or the connection to Tamil land Pāzhi.

But they do point out to Tamil connection, for no text exists in India other than Tamil Tholkappiyam that tells us who these people were.

They were “Porunar” (பொருநர்), the 7th varna in the 7-part classification of people!

Porunar – the people who sang ballads on kings and war-front valour.

The people of ancient Tamil lands were classified into 7 categories. The ancient Grammar work called “Thol Kappiyam” (means ‘ancient Kāvya’), gives this classification along with the kind of activities they did. This is not like the 7-part classification found in the Megasthenes work on India. The 7- part classification that Megasthenes found in India about 2000 years ago was based on the jobs that people did. But the classification found in Tholkappiyam is based on attributes and attitudes. It is a kind of Varna based classification.

The 7 types of people were

(1) Brahmins (known as Pārppanar, meaning those who ‘see’ the end of Vedas)

(2) Kshatriyas

(3) Vaisyas

(4) Farmers

(5) ARivan (Meaning those who ‘know’. Their knowledge is “Tri-kāla Jnana” of everything from climate to human lives through observation of sky, clouds, planets, stars etc. They were astrologers and more than astrologers too.)

(6) Thāpathar (ascetics, Tapaswis)

(7) Porunar. (Bards who sing genuinely the valour of the kings and kshatriyas in wars. Why genuinely, because they did not say anything that was not there. This trait made their compositions true and reliable.)

The verse from Thol Kappiyam is as follows:
அறு வகைப் பட்ட பார்ப்பனப் பக்கமும்
வகை மரபின் அரசர் பக்கமும்
இரு மூன்று மரபின் ஏனோர் பக்கமும்
மறு இல் செய்தி மூ வகைக் காலமும்
நெறியின் ஆற்றிய அறிவன் தேயமும்
நால் இரு வழக்கின் தாபதப் பக்கமும்
பால் அறி மரபின் பொருநர் கண்ணும்
அனை நிலை வகையொடு ஆங்கு எழு வகையான்
தொகை நிலை பெற்றது என்மனார் புலவர்(10)

The 7th type of this classification refers to “Porunar” – the singers. There also existed another kind of singers in Tamil lands called “PāNar” (பாணர்). They were also experts in composing and putting them into music. Both PāNar and Porunar carried “Yāzh” ( யாழ்), Veena-like musical instrument. But they differed in the topic they chose for their songs. While PāNar sang on social life and personal life (agam), Porunar sang only on war-front adventures of Kshatriyas including kings. This puts them on par with or same as Māgadhās and Sūtas.

Ancient Tamil commentators have given a good deal of description about them.

Porunars did not sing just for the sake of praising a king. If they praised a king, it meant there was truth in it. They knew the intricacies of things and of the kind of victories and bravery shown in a war. They had a sense of discrimination on what is great and unique from what is not. As such if a Porunar composed a ballad on a king, it meant that it was genuine and true to the core. Kings looked forward to getting to hear such praises by Porunar. This is why a separate class of people, who exhibited a talent to identify bravery and greatness of a king or a kshatriya and put it into a musical composition was considered as a Varna with a specific inborn talent.

This description from Tamil works justifies why Māgadhās and Sūtas got a special mention in Vishnu Puranam as someone persuaded by the sages to sing in praise of the king Prithu even before he started his kingly duties. Their words carried so much truth.

From Thol Kappiyam and PuRapporuL VeNba Maalai - புறப்பொருள் வெண்பா மாலை - (another grammar work later to Thol kappiyam) we come to know the exact things they sang about.
Porunars sang on the acts of bravery exhibited by sword and by shoulder (wrestling). This is the commentary given by the olden Commentator ILampooraNar (இளம்பூரணர் ), for the above mentioned Thol-kappiyam verse on Porunar. In this context, he quotes Thiru-k-kural.

Kural 648 says that the world (people) would accept the words of those who are capable of systematically arranging ideas and delivering them in sweet and great manner.(11)

Porunars fitted into the category of such speakers.

The same commentator also says that Porunars conveyed their views through words, songs, dance and games. This description reminds us of the kind of people with whom Māgadhās and Sūtas dwelled in Pukār (mentioned in the beginning of this article). The dancers, jesters and gamers helped them in developing their ballads. This description conveys that Porunars and Māgadhās - Sūtas were interchangeable words.

The Grammar work called “PuRap poruL veNbA MAlai” makes an explicit mention that they sang only what they meant. The description about them comes under a separate heading called “Poruna Vāgai”  (பொருந வாகை). It says that they did not praise someone by damning someone else. They concentrated on the positive aspects of the one whom they praised.  (12)

It also says that they did not consider the size of the army as the deciding the factor for victory. Instead they were able to grasp the inner fire of kshatriya-hood in a person and highlighted it. This is compared to sensing the presence of embers under the layer of ashes (13)

Māgadhās and Sūtas as Porunar.

One cannot see any difference between Porunar of ancient Tamil lands and Māgadhās and Sūtas. By the nature of works and the name of the language Pāli, Māgadhās and Sūtas fit well with the displaced or migrant Porunars into Indian Mainland. By the time of Silappadhikaram, the name Porunar was almost gone or forgotten, and was replaced by Māgadhās and Sūtas.

One reason could be that the word Porunan also refers king of hills, soldier or the chief of army. In texts on Cheran kings, we often find this name to address the Cheran king, the ruler of hilly regions. Perhaps due to this reason, the name Porunar for such singers got replaced by Māgadhā which had a presence all over Bharata.

How did this name Māgadhā come to stick to the people who were Porunars?

The answer lies in “Shāka- Dweepa”, a land form described by Sanjaya in Mahabharata and also attested in Puranas like Vishnu Purana.

Māgadhās of Shāka dweepa.

Saka-Dweepa had the 4 varna system of which the Kshatriyas were known as “Māgadhā”!

Vishnu Puranam Book 2, Chapter 4 says,

“The caste of Mriga is that of the Brahman; the Magadha, of the Kshetriya; the Manasa, of the Vaisya; and the Mandaga of the sudra”

The same verse appears in Mahabharata  but with a variation in the name for Kshatriyas. It says,

“As heard by all men there, in that island of Saka, are four sacred provinces. They are the Mrigas, the Masakas, the Manasas, and the MandagasThe Mrigas for the most part are Brahmanas devoted to the occupations of their orderAmongst the Masakas are virtuous Kshatriyas granting unto Brahmanas every wish entertained by themThe Manasas, O king, live by following the duties of the Vaisya order. Having every wish of theirs gratified, they are also brave and firmly devoted to virtue and profit.The Mandagas are all brave Sudras of virtuous behaviour.”

The same idea but with slight variation in the name of only Kshatriyas appears in the narration of Sanjaya in Mahabharata. The kshatriyas of Saka dweepa were known as Magadha as per Vishnu Purana, but were mentioned as Masakas by Mahabharata. With other names and description of the Dweepa being same, we infer that Sanjaya refers to Magadha only.

Sunken Tamil lands in Shāka Dweepa.

This Shāka Dweepa was not part of Jambhu Dweepa where India is situated. Its location was in waters (as per the description). There is an opinion that Shāka Dweepa was in Central Asia. This view is erroneous mainly for two reasons.

One is that the very name Shāka in Shāka Dweepa was derived from the tree Shāka that was abundantly found there. It was like how Jambhu Dweepa was called by the name of Jambhu tree found in abundance there.

Shāka tree is native to South Asia and South East Asia and not to central Asia or Europe. Its botanical name is Acacia sirissa or Albizia lebbeck. This was known as Uzhinjil (உழிஞ்சில்) or Unna (உன்ன மரம்) or Pālai (பாலை மரம்) in Tamil. Its flower was held in high esteem and worn as a mark of victory in war. In Sanskrit it is known as Shirisha and in Tamil it is known as Vāgai (வாகை).

The Tamil equivalent of Shāka is Vāgai!

Vāgai / Shāka flower that was worn as a symbol of victory.

The description of Porunar comes in the chapter called Vāgai (Shāka) in the Grammar works quoted above. The land form (among 5 land forms of Tamil lands) is Pālai – a word close to Pāli! The other name for Shāka tree also was Pālai, giving a link to the word Pāli!

The sunken lands of olden Pandyans had 7 lands with each of them having 7 divisions within. Shāka Dweepa also had 7 divisions. Two of the 7 divisions of sunken lands of Pandyans had names having “Pālai” in them.

They were
Mun Pālai (முன் பாலை நாடு) implying front location,
Pin Pālai (பின் பாலை நாடு) implying back location.

With 7 divisions within themselves, these Pālai habitats were 14 in number. These 14 habitats were lost into the seas in the 2nd deluge that ended up with Pandyan kingdom getting shifted to Kapātapuram. Who were the survivors of these 14 habitats and where did they go?
The similarity in name with Pāli is something difficult to ignore.

The second reason why Shāka Dweepa could not be located in Central Asia was that the description from both Mahabharata and Vishnu Purana says that every day Indra gulped the waters of the seas in Shāka Dweepa and gave back as rains in time to the same place. This perfectly fits with the monsoon activity in the Indian Ocean regions, thereby indicating the location of Shāka Dweepa in that region. That region also housed the now sunken lands of early Pandyans. We will see more details on Shāka Dweepa as sunken Pandyan lands in another article.

It is important to say here that Shāka Dweepa was dotted with river Kumari as per the description from the scriptures mentioned above.

Pāli- Tamil connection to Proto Tamil!

Porunars are mentioned only in the land form Pālai which had Vāgai /Shāka tree in abundance. Their language was of course Tamil but Tamil had many Sanskrit words as its own. Thol Kappiyar gives meanings for Sanskrit words such as Pindam, Mantra etc as Tamil words in his grammar work Thol Kappiyam. There are many Sanskrit words as part and parcel of Tamil.

One can find similar kind of presence of Sanskrit in Pāli language but with stunted or corrupt pronunciation. The words of Pāli can be understood by a Tamil speaker for this reason. For example the word for analogy in Pāli is ‘opamana’, an adaptation from Sanskrit Upamana. For a Tamil speaker, Opamana sounds like stunted Tamil (கொச்சை) as it is Uvamana in Tamil – derived  from the same word in Sanskrit. The Sanskrit Sāmarthya has become ‘sāmatthiya’ in Pāli. It is ‘sāmartthiyam’ in Tamil. For a Tamil speaker, sāmatthiya sounds like broken Tamil.  One can quote many such words in Pāli that sound like broken or corrupt Tamil but having Sanskrit basis.

Some Sanskrit words are pronounced in the same way in both Pāli and Tamil. For example Bhikshu becomes Bhikku in Pāli and Tamil. Certain Sanskrit words undergo minor change in the same way in both Pāli and Tamil. For example Arya becomes Ariya both in Pāli and Tamil. Similarly Surya becomes Suriya,  virya becomes viriya in both Pāli and Tamil.

And there are words that are purely of Tamil origin like “ambila” of Pāli which is amilam (acid) in Tamil.  “Neekipathi” in Pāli is from “neekkuthal” (abdication) in Tamil. The name of the important Buddhist book on Pāli, “Theravada” has Tamil connection. ‘Thera’ in Pāli refers to the learned person. The root of this word is in Tamil as “Theruthal” (தேறுதல்) or “Thercchi” (தேர்ச்சி ) with the same meaning.
It is possible to create a Pāli – Tamil dictionary highlighting similar words and also the extent of presence of Sanskrit in both the languages. This is being said here to highlight the possibility of the presence of a Proto Tamil that originally contained stunted words of Sanskrit. That continued with the people and came to be identified as Pāli. Then came a time when the Sanskrit words were taken out from Proto Tamil and developed separately as a refined language called Sanskrit.

This idea may look farfetched, but this is in sync with the information found in Tamil texts that grammar for Tamil and Sanskrit was given by Lord Shiva to sage Agasthya and PaNini respectively.  (14)

{PaNini here must be a generic name for Grammarians and does not refer to the one who authored Ashtadhyayi. The name PaNini is more closer to Tamil PāNan, (பாணன்) who originally promoted refined (grammatical) Tamil through the 3 parts of Tamil, namely Iyal (literary or lyrical ), Isai (musical) and Natakam (dance forms). Compositions of the 1st Sangam were all set to music and dance forms only. We cannot ignore the fact that this feature matches with the works of Māgadhās too.}

Bringing in Lord Shiva in this context might give it mythological colour, but the idea was to declare that both the languages, Tamil and Sanskrit were divine and therefore great. The bottom line is that there existed a time when Tamil and Sanskrit were developed almost simultaneously by developing grammar for them.

Assuming that a common language of the masses that we call Proto-Tamil did exist with naturally evolved Tamil and Sanskrit sounds, this means that there came a time when Sanskrit and Tamil parts were segregated and refined independently. That was indicated by the repeated references in Tamil works that Lord Shiva taught Tamil grammar to Agasthya and Sanskrit grammar to PaNini.

Even before that segregation was done, speakers of proto Tamil went far and wide with their language, Pāli. The extent of Sanskrit words in corrupt forms found in Pāli could not have come through the so-called Indo- Aryan influence or fresh connect with Sanskrit scholars. These Māgadhās were very ordinary people that they could not have mingled with educated people. Their residence as a community with select people in Pukār described in Silappadhikaram in the beginning of this article testifies this. 

Similarly the kind of presence of refined forms of Sanskrit as found in Tamil language could not have come through contact with Sanskrit. The Sanskrit component had existed originally in Proto Tamil and was carried over to refined Tamil.

It may not be out of place to mention here that Porunars had a Goddesses whose name is very much Sanskrit.

In the Sangam period composition by name “Pounar ARRu-p-padi” a PaNan guides a Porunar on how to reach the palace of the great king KarikAl Cholan so that he could give his performance and get paid by the king.

In that composition it is said that the deity “Matangi” resides in the Yazh (veena like instrument) of the Porunar! (15)

Matangi  is a Sanskrit name and the presence of this Goddess in Tamil lands is almost unknown. But a Porunar of ancient Tamil lands held her as his deity, residing in his musical instrument. So much for the presence of Sanskrit and also of the Hindu deities in Tamil lands!

From another angle, this deity stands as a proof for Shāka Dweepa connection to Tamil Porunars. According to Devi Bhagavata Purana, Shakambhari is another name for Matangi! Though there is a story connected with that, the words and Shāka and ambhara could mean the sweet smell of Shāka or the garment made from the shāka tree.

Thus there are too many links to olden Tamil for Pāli and Māgadhās.

To recap the salient features discussed so far:

1. Porunar belonged to Pālai lands of olden Tamil lands.

2. Porunar and Māgadhās share the same traits, works and life style.

3. Māgadhās were kshatriyas of Shāka Dweepa.

4. Shāka Dweepa is where the olden Pandyan lands existed.

5. Māgadhās moved over to Indian main land from Pālai or it could be from Pāzhi.

6. Their connection to Pālai or Pāzhi gave them an identity as or with Pāli.

7. With their spread throughout India (as they made a living in capital cities of kingdoms), their dialect spread throughout India and got into the dialects of the localities where they settled. That is how the language Pāli could have become an olden dialect of common people almost all over India.

Here another question arises:

Did Pāli speakers retain retroflex phonemes if it is true that they originated from Shāka Dweepa or Tamil Pālai or Pāzhi lands?

It is true that not everyone can pronounce the retroflex sounds.  Persons having thick tongue would find it difficult to pronounce this phoneme. This gives a genetic pre-requisite for a person to be able to pronounce retroflex words.

Tamil has many words having this phoneme, but most of them have come into disuse today. This must have happened over a period of time, due to the inability of the speakers to use them in speech. This implies that the genetic track of original Tamils had gone astray. Today not many people who claim Tamil as their mother tongue can pronounce ‘zha’.

Globally, retroflex phonemes are found only in certain regions / languages. They are present in the languages of South Asia (India in particular) in Australian aborigines and in China but conspicuously absent in Europe. Studies on retroflex phoneme show that the supposedly Dravidian language Brahui has very low incidence of this phoneme. The spread of people from the region of Brahui or Elam to South India is ruled out based on the absence of this phoneme in their speech.

But did Māgadhās possess the ability to pronounce retroflex phonemes?

To find an answer let us take a look at a study published in 2016 on the presence of retroflex sounds across India.

A bird’s eye view of the results can be seen in the map below. The higher value shows increase in frequency of retroflex phonemes. It is marked in red and it tapers to lighter shades for less frequency.

The frequency is high in South Indian states of Kerala and Tamilnadu, in the central region of Vindhyas, in East Rajasthan and in regions covering river Yamuna.

The above study can be interpreted by AIT supporters as a proof of movement of people from Indus region to south India – a migration caused by invading or incoming Aryans. But from the point of view of the inputs discussed above, the movement seems to have happened from South west seas (Arabian Sea) to Indian main lands with higher concentration in South India and spread through Vindhyan valley and Gujarat to Yamuna and middle Ganges regions. Matsya Desa of the Ithihasas continues to have high level of retroflex sounds even now. The eastern banks of Saraswathi River also show presence of this sound, though it is not as high as in Matsya desa or Tamil lands.

This phoneme present in more than three fourth area of India, with higher concentration in south and south west India follows a track of expansion of Ancient South Indian (ASI) ancestry  across India.

Surprisingly its incidence is low in the region of Magadha – today’s Bihar. The only interpretation could be that those locals, the speakers of Pāli, the Māgadhās had moved out of Magadha with the rise of urban culture and change of kingdoms after Buddha’s times. Or they had aligned themselves with the new and emerging culture and the language of the region leaving out Pāli to the pages of history and Buddhist canons!

Location of North Pāzhi identified.

There is something serendipitous in this map!
Eastern region of Rajasthan is having high frequency of retroflex sounds!

This region has place named Pālī ” and a district also named Pālī !

The currently held meanings of this Pālī  as Palli, Pallika, wadi etc are very much in sync with Tamil meanings for Pāzhi as resting place for animals, place to sleep (Palli with retroflex l), city etc.

The serendipitous discovery comes from the geological revelation of this place as being a pre-historic site having emerged from the vast western sea spread over a large part of the present day Rajasthan”  (16)

This also implies that Pālī region was very large and extended till sea shore.
Pazhi means dock yard or a port in Tamil.

Let us recall the name South Pāzhi of Pandyan lands. If there was a “south” Pāzhi, it automatically pre-supposes that a “North” Pāzhi also existed!

This trend of naming by directional location is there in Tamil lands. There was South Madurai from where the Pandyans of 1st Sangam age ruled. The specific prefix as South shows that there were two Madurais at that time itself. The other Madurai was Madurai of the North. The North Madurai was Mathura of Krishna! All Tamil works including those of Azhwars recognised Mathura as North Madurai (Vada Madurai - வட மதுரை )

Pālī of Rajasthan very much fits in the picture as North Pāzhi which also must have been a sea port by the name of it. Archaeological search in the region between Pālī district and the current sea shore could yield rich dividends.

The high incidence of retroflex phonemes in this part of Rajasthan and Yamuna’s banks show the presence of ASI from a past that shared similar ancestry with people of Shāka Dweepa and Tamil lands of 1st Sangam age when 49 habitats existed in the Indian Ocean.

Tail piece on Yamuna:

Generally proper nouns are pronounced in the same way in all languages. For example Ganga is called as Ganga and Saraswathi is called as Saraswathi in all languages including Tamil. But Yamuna is an exception as far as Tamil language is concerned. It is called as “Thozhunai” (தொழுநை) with the retroflex ‘zha’ in it. Thozhunai means cow shed!

Cow shed translates as Gotra in Sanskrit! The early Rig Vedic sages settled along Yamuna only. The retroflex phonemes in Rig Vedas are something which further strengthens the idea of movement of people from South Seas. We will discuss it in another context and for the time being continue with the discussion on the other features of Kon Nedumaran’s expedition to the Himalayas.  


(1) ‘Pāli Literature’, by Kenneth Ṛoy Norman, professor of Sanskrit & Pāli, Cambridge University, UK

(2) “The Home of Pāli”

(3) Silappadhikaram – Ch 26, lines 74 & 75.

(4) Silappadhikaram – Ch 5, line 48

(5) Madurai-k-kanchi – lines 670-671

(6) Valmiki Ramayana – 2-26-12

(7) Sukla Yajur Veda – Book 30, verse 5

(8) Vishnu Purana:- ch – 1- 13

(9) Manu Smriti – Ch 10- 11

(10) Thol Kappiyam :- Porul adhikaram - 74 (Pura-th- thiNai Iyal)

(11) ThirukkuraL – 648

"விரைந்து தொழில்கேட்கும் ஞாலம் நிரந்தினிது
சொல்லுதல் வல்லார்ப் பெறின்."

(12) PuRapporuL VeNba Maalai – 166.

புகழொடு பெருமை நோக்கி யாரையும்
இகழ்தல் ஓம்பன்மின் எனஉரைத்தன்று 

(13) PuRapporuL VeNba Maalai – 166.

வெள்ளம் போல் தானை வியந்து விரிவாரை
எள்ளி உணர்தல் இயல்பன்று - தெள்ளியார்
ஆறுமேல் ஆறியபின் அன்றித் தம் கைக்கொள்ளார்
நீறுமேல் பூத்த நெருப்பு 

(14) Thiruvilaiyaadal Puranam – Thiru Nattuch Chirappu:- verse 56

விடையு கைத்தவன் பாணினிக் கிலக்கண மேனாள்
வடமொ ழிக்குரை தாங்கியல் மலயமா முனிக்குத்
திடமு றுத்தியம் மொழக்கெதி ராக்கிய தென்சொல்
மடம கட்கரங் கென்பது வழுதிநா டன்றோ

(15) Porunar ARRUp padai – 20
 அணங்கு மெய் நின்ற அமை வரு காட்சி = யாழிற்குரிய தெய்வம் தன்னிடத்தேநின்ற இலக்கணம் அமைதல்வரும் அழகு.
 யாழிற்குரிய தெய்வம் மாதங்கி; சீவக. 411, 550, ந.

(To be continued)



Good Research..Jayasree

One quick check ...Does the 7 Varnas in Tholkappium come under Chapter 3 - Poruladhigaram - 2. Purathinayiyal 16 rather than 74 as quoted here?


jayasree said...

It comes in Porul adhikaram 74. It is in Purath thinai iyal. Check out this link. Click Ilakkanam in the list and click Tholkappiyam. Then click porul adhikaram. It gives it combined as porul adhikaram, purath thinai iyal verse no 74.

suresh said...

I think you are research oriented person because its seen in your post.Thanks for it. keep posting.

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