Karunanidhi is back with a bang. These days noone listens to him on any issue on which he airs his opinion. He has almost become a museum item. Perhaps to attract attention to himself or to divert attention from the troubles in his party and family, he reverted back to his once pet theme of Dravida naadu . His Brahmin baiting continues as usual and would never get weaned as long as Jayalalithaa continues to be a force to reckon with in his political game.
The best judgment of Karunanidhi's forays into Dravidian talks has come from none other the one who occupied the apex position in Tamil Research studies. It was Prof Noboru Karashima who said that the Dravidian movement has an anti-intellectual tendency. (1). The world has seen a lot of development since the days of Caldwell and Max Muller. With the development of multi disciplinary and cross disciplinary approach, it has been shown that Dravida and Arya are not races. The huge corpus of Tamil literature also does not identify the Tamils as Dravidas. But Karunanidhi does not seem to know these developments and continues to live in his own world without realizing that such talks would never receive respect among the intellectuals and scholars. What he wants is that the people must nod like cattle at whatever he says and that they must glorify him.
The irony of it is that, with all his hatred for Sanskrit he keeps sticking to a Sanskrit word for the identity of Tamils. While Thamizh (தமிழ்) is a pure Tamil word, Dravida is a Sanskrit word. Tamil means nectar (madhu) or sweetness where as Dravida means 'running away'. From the root words 'dra' or 'drau' which means running, the word Dravida is derived. This word indeed refers to the people who have run away – from fighting in the battlefield. Can Karunanidhi say that any Tamil king ran away from the battle field? Is there any mention in any Tamil texts of a king or any Tamil of having run away from the battle field or abandoned the war? Could anyone have told the ancient Tamil kings on their face that they had run away from the battle and therefore got a name "Dravida"? If a person had said so to a Tamil King, would he not be beheaded the next moment? Such was the strong sentiment of the Tamils and Tamil kings on valour (வீரம்) exhibited in the war front.
Without realizing what he is talking and what Dravida means, Karunanidhi has made a laughable talk that the "Dravidians have the tradition of defeating the suppressers and it will be repeated too," (2) Dravidians were called so because they had run away. By calling Tamils as Dravidians he is doing an injustice to the valour of Tamils as exposed in Sangam texts.
To know about the meaning and origin of the word Dravida, one must go to Manu Smruthi which defines the names of many people. Of them Dravida is one. Dravida is the name given to persons born in the 7th generation and thereafter of a Kshatriya(3)
Manu smruthi says that Dravida is the 7th generation person of the Kshatriya lineage that has given up fighting and has become mute. To understand this we must know who a Kshatriya is. A Kshatriya (one having warrior tendency) is one who has the urge to fight or harm others in the course of which he does not bother to harm himself and bear physical injuries. The person having this tendency by nature is a Kshatriya and will be fit to join army or in the protection of people or land. Karunanidhi must recall that sangam texts talk about kings who had a natural death and not died of battle wounds, would have their body cut by the sword before cremation. Their anxiety was such that they wanted to live as a kshatriya and die as a kshatriya. But a Dravida was not such a person. He might have come in the lineage of Kashtriyas but he would have failed to live and die like a kshatriya.
If for some reason a person is not showing these tendencies either by nature or due to renouncing the job which he is expected to do, it is said his off-spring also will not show up such a tendency to the fullest extent. If he too gives up warrior-hood, his off-spring would show much less interest and capability in warring instincts. Like this, the tendency gets depleted in 7 generations. People of the 7th generation of that lineage was called Dravida and he would not possess any valour and vigour to fight.
The names of 7 generations are,
From the 7th generation onwards these people would be totally different from the 1 st generation warrior and hence completely become scared to fight.
India has seen warriors having become Dravidas in the past. The Mahabharata mentions the word "Dravida" for 13 times. In one place it confirms Manu smruthi definition of Dravida. It says some people became the Dravidas because they gave up Kshatriya-hood for fear of Parasurama.(4).
Kartaviryarjuna of Haihaya dynasty ruling from Mahishmathi on the banks of Narmada river had killed Jamadagni, the father of Parasurama. Parasurama killed Kartaviryarjuna and attacked other Kshatriyas for 21 times, as a revenge for the death of his father. Unable to bear the attack of Parasurama, most kings and warriors living in the north of Vindhyas (North India of today) fled and lived as ordinary persons by not taking up arms. In course of time they forgot their valour and came to be known as Dravidas.
The point is that none of the Dravidas came to Tamilnadu. They spread in North India and even went as far as Central Europe. The research on Dravida takes us to unravel many unknown facts of history, but this man (Karunanidhi) is diverting the attention of people from real and serious research. For instance Mahabharata also talks about Dravidas as mlechhas (Non vedic people) who lived outside Bharat in the North west. There is evidence to say that those who fled Parasurama's fury went to a place called as Georgia today. This country is neighbored by Turkey, Russia and Black sea. The ethnic stories of Georgia tell about their first people as "Kartvelebi" originating from "Kartlos" and speaking a language called "Kartuli". All these sound similar to Kartavirya who was killed by Parasurama. The survivors of his clan must have fled and gone as far as Georgia. This is supported by many other names appearing in Georgia.
Georgia was originally called as Gujaristhan or Gorjesthan (5). This is related to the names Gurjars or Gujjars who were many and wide spread in north India and in whose name we have a state called Gujarat. The Haihayas at the time of Parasurama were also many in number as different groups and one among them seemed to have gone to central Europe and founded Gorjesthan which became Georgia in course of time.
This is supported by the prevalence of names of places in Georgia as Gurjarni, Gujari Pil, Gujreti etc. The spillover of people with this name is seen in adjoining areas of Iran where there are places called Jurja, Jurjar, Gurjar and Jesur which is an Arabic name for Gurj. Samarqand has Chapak Gujar, and Chusak Gujar. Places called Gujar-i-Pam, Gujar-i-Dam, Gurjistan and Gujar-i-Hisar are found in Afghanistan whereas a stream by the name Gujari flows in Balauchistan. In Pakistan also Gujarat, Gujar Khan, Gujaranwala etc have been named after Gujjars only. (6)
Thus we find a spread of people in North west India going upto Georgia. The Dravidas mentioned as mlechas by Mahabharata lived in places as far as Caspian sea near river Amudarya.
They must have been the people who had fled the battlefield from Bharat. We have to think about the situation in those days. The kings of the countries of Bharat were on war with each other on many times in the past, just for the sake of establishing their kshatriya supremacy. Even the three kings of Tamilnadu were not at peace with each other. Their idea of Kshatriya hood was never to rest until all the surrounding lands are brought under their control. This idea was prevalent throughout Bharat. This throws up a situation when many kings and warriors had to take shelter in places outside Bharat and continue their life. Pahlavas, Madras,Yavanas, Pundras, Daradas etc were some people who formed their own kingdoms outside Bhar
There were people who fled from the war scene and lived as non khstriyas within Bharat itself. Mahabharata gives us the list of the people who escaped from Parasurama and lived secret lives – with some of them becoming Dravida after 7 generations and some coming back to rule their countries after the fear of Parasurama died down (7)
From the narration in Mahabharata it is seen that none of them had any connection with Tamil nadu or Tamil people. Moreover the threat from Parasurama was confined to North India and there is no record of a Tamil king having faced the wrath of Parasurama. This also means that there was no case of any Tamil or Tamil king facing a situation of giving up kshatriyahood and become a Dravida. None from the then Tamil lands were challenged by Parasurama.
In Mahabharat war, Dravidas have fought on both the sides. But their names as Dravidas appear as separate entities from Tamil kings, that is, they are mentioned along with other kings including Cheras, Cholas and Pandyas and not as a substitute for these Tamil Kings. (8)
There is absolutely no mention of a Dravida having run away and taken a living in Tamil lands.
There were Dravidas who settled outside Bharat but were in interaction with kings of Bharat. Though they were degraded kshatriyas, they have developed fighting prowess in course of time. There even existed a Dravida king in 2nd century BC – not in Tamil lands but in Ujjain. He wrote a Sanskrit drama named "Mricchakatika" which was very popular for many centuries. This king's original name was Indrani Gupta but he took up a pen name "Shudraka"!! That is, he has called himself as a Shudra and had no qualms about it. No one despised him for that. We come to know from the foreword to the commentary to this drama written by Prithvidhara that this author of Mricchakatika was an Abhira and a chandala who was the "Dravida Raja"!!
Abhiras were also degraded kshatriyas who changed their life style due to fear of Parasurama. Further degradation made them be called as Shudras! There was a place called Shudra in North India according to Mahabharata. Places called Abhiras and Shudra were there where the river Sarasvati once flowed. These Shudras had no connection with Tamilnadu. But the Shudras had their own kingdom and there were Shudra kings ruling them. This confirms the view that there was no separate varna called shudra. Satapada Brahmana and Taittriyam tell about only 3 varnas. All the people were categorized within these three. But when they slipped from the varna characteristics, those who slipped from Kshatriyahood came to be called as Shudras later. The author of Mricchakatika came in the lineage of a degraded Abhira – Shudra. However this king had a kingdom for himself and ruled it thereby getting a name Dravida Raja! This shows that status and opportunities were available to everyone and it was possible for one to even rule a kingdom though his lineage had lost the fighting spirit sometime in the past.
Apart from these, we come across some individuals connected to Dravidian identify. Interestingly they were all Brahmins.
Adhi Shankara called himself as "Dravida sisu". (9)
Raja Tarangini, the 11th century book on Kashmiri Kings, tells about 10 types of Brahmins, the 5 Gauda Brahmins who lived North of Vindhyas and 5 Dravida Brahmins who lived South of Vindhyas.