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Post Info TOPIC: The Relation Between Tamil And Classical Sanskrit Literature" GEORGE HART


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The Relation Between Tamil And Classical Sanskrit Literature" GEORGE HART

Full text of "The Relation Between Tamil And Classical Sanskrit Literature"



VOLUME X Ease. 2 Vol. X: Dravidian Literature Fasc. 1: K. Zvelebil Fasc. 2i G. L. Hart R. E. Asher K. Mahadeva Sastri H. M« Hayak S. Agesthialingom, J. Filliozat, F. Gros, J. R. and others 

Tamil Literature The Relation between Tamil and Classical Sanskrit Literature Malayalam Literature Telugu Literature Kannada Literature Scientific Literatures in Dravid- Marr ian Languages 

CIP-Kurztitelaufnahme der Deutschen Bibliothek 

k history of Indian literature / ed. by Jan Gonda. - Wiesbaden : Harrassowitz. 

HE: Gonda , Jan [Hrsg.] 

Vol. 10. Dravidian literature. 


Any scholar who is familiar with Sanskrit literature knows at once upon  seeing the poems of ancient Tamil “Sangam” literature of the first through the  third centuries A.D. that they are related to Sanskrit literature of classical  times. And if he is at all well acquainted with Tamil, he is certain to feel that  there must be some important meaning to the resemblance between the two  literatures, for the two languages in which they are written are quite unrelated, and the earliest of Tamil literature does not seem to be much influenced by  Sanskrit — the si mil arities are not close enough to be copying by one literature  of another. In the past, most have simply assumed that Tamil must have  borrowed from Sanskrit, but no careful analysis has been made. This relationship is investigated in detail by me in The Poems of Ancient Tamil: Their Milieu and Their Sanskrit Counterparts to be published by the University of California Press. The purpose of this chapter is to point out the general character of the relationship between Sanskrit and Tamil, to discover reasons for it, and to suggest some of the consequences of the relationship. It will not be possible to give here all of the evidence that I have assembled, or to go into each aspect in detail; the book does that. Indeed, I have endeavoured here to cover areas not investigated in my book. I hope that the interested reader will find the references to the book sufficient to fill in the gaps which must necessarily occur in t his short investigation of a very large subject. 

At first glance, the most striking similarity between the two literary traditions is the use of the same or similar conventions. Examples are the messenger poem, the motif of separation of lovers during the monsoon, and the comparison of the sound of the wind blowing in a hole in bamboo to the noise of a flute. The messenger poem does not occur in Sanskrit before Kalidasa, but it is found in Tamil in the Sangam poems. An example is Akananuru 170, in which a woman speaks to a sandcrab of her lover: 

The grove will not tell him, 

the backwater will not tell him, 

the punnai tree, its fragrant flowers humming with bees, will not tell him. 

Except for you, I have no one to tell that man in w T hose bay bees swarm,

drawn by the scent of the redolent petals of waterlilies 

flowering like eyes in the dark backwater, 

and eat the cool pollen, 

and get so drunk they cannot fly. 

You must tell him, sandcrab. 

Say, “Will she cross over the grief she feels 

who many times dispelled your sadness 

on midnights when a little crow sat languishing 

on the low branch of a screwpine bush by the sea 

with his loving mate, 

unable to hunt in waters infested with sharks, 

and dreamed of white shrimps ?” 

The most famous Sanskrit example is, of course, Kalidasa’s Meghaduta, in which a Yaksa exiled by his lord Kubera from the Himalayas to the Vindhya mountains asks a cloud to take a message of consolation to his beloved. This is a good example of poetic construction being shared by the two traditions. 

Another example of this is the dramatis personae of the love poems, which include the hero, the heroine, the heroine’s female friend, the heroine’s mother, and a messenger. 1 

The separation of lovers during the monsoon is an example of a shared motif or theme. It occurs first in Indo-Aryan in the Sattasai. In poem 538 of that anthology, for example, the traveller’s wife says, “As I hear the thunder, it is like the executioner’s drum.” Similarly in Kuruntokai 216, she says, “Not knowing I am so much to be pitied, the black clouds still roar and rain and send lightning, friend, aiming at my life.” This theme appears also in later Sanskrit, as in Subhasitaratnakosa 708 : 

“Here comes the downpour, here the lightning and the cursed hail, 

the roar of thunder and the croaking frogs.” 

Thus speaking with each rapid breath, the slender maid, 

already close to death, enflames 

the fire which love has spread throughout her limbs. 2 

Another important theme that first appears in the Sattasai in the Indo- Aryan tradition but that is found before that in Tamil is the abhisdrika , the woman who goes out to meet her lover at night. In Sattasai 445, the heroine tells her lover,

“0 ingrateful one! I still see the village mud I went through 

to get to you on rainy nights. 55 In 6.43 of Kalidasa’s Kumar asa mbhava , abhisdrikds are said to find their way by the light of herbs on bad days. In Subhasitaratnakosa 829, an anonymous poet writes,

1 Geobge L. Hast, The Poems of Ancient Tamil: Their Milieu and Their Sans- 

krit Counterparts, Berkeley, California, 1975, pp. 214-216. 

2 In : An Anthology of Sanskrit Court Poetry : Vidyakara’s “Subhasitaratnakosa” 

(Cambridge, Mass., 1965), translated and commented on by Daotei H. H. Ingauls. 

These beauties, silencing their anklets by knotting of their skirts 

and binding up the jewelled clasp within the extra fold, 

attempt to render silent their amorous expeditions. 

Alas to no avail, for they are marked upon their way 

by the jingling swarm of bees 

that seek the honey of the flowers in their hair.® 

To these verses may be compared Akananuru 192, where the mountain village 

of the lovers’ rendezvous is enlightened by the jewel dropped by a snake, and 

Akananuru 198, where the heroine comes to the rendezvous “scared, keeping 

her thick anklets from rattling, bent like a ****ed bow and wearing cool 

flowers so bees follow behind her at a time when the city sleeps. 55 

 Perhaps the most striking of all are specific themes which the two literatures 

share, an example of which is the comparison of the wind bloving in a hole in 

bamboo to the sound of a flute. In Akananuru 225, for example, the poet writes 

that the wind blows “in a narrow hole penetrated by a bee in swaying bamboo 

and makes a lovely sound, like the music from the flute of a cowherd leading 

his herd to water. 35 This may be compared to Meghaduta 56, where hollow 

bamboos are said to resound sweetly as they are filled with breezes, or to 

Raghuvamsa 2.12, where songs sung by nymphs are said to be accompanied 

by humming bamboos whose holes are filled by wind and which provide the 

music of flutes. 



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Tamil & Sanskrit: Prof. G. Hart

Ganesan nas_ng at 
Fri Mar 8 12:08:58 EST 1996


April 7, 1995

These are recent postings in soc.culture.tamil by Prof. George Hart, 
University of California, Berkeley. I thought they may of interest to you.

n. ganesan
nas_ng at


             Relations between Dravidian (Tamil) and Sanskrit

Actually, Sanskrit has many Dravidian syntactic features as well as loan 
words from Dravidian.  A few of these are very old -- even as old as the 
Rig Veda.  Clearly, Sanskrit came to be spoken as a second language by 
Dravidian speakers, and, as is common in such situations, these speakers 
transferred syntax from their native languages into the new language.  
Such features include the use of api, of iti, and of evam, and also, I 
believe, of certain compounds.  These ARE Indo-European words, not 
Dravidian, but their usage is equivalent to similar particles in 
Dravidian languages (e.g. Tamil -um, enRu, taan).  Prof. Murray Emeneau 
has written at length on this phenomenon.  The North-Indian Indo-Aryan 
languages are even more akin syntactically to Dravidian languages.  I 
have tried to show that many of the major conventions of Sanskrit 
literature, and especially of poetry, come from a Dravidian poetic 
tradition (e.g. the messenger poem such as Meghaduta, the idea of lovers 
suffering in separation during the monsoon, etc. etc.).  The fact is, it 
is not possible to talk about Sanskrit as a separate "non-Dravidian" 
tradition -- the truth is far more complex.  George Hart.
Presumably, the people who adopted Sanskrit (or something akin to it) in 
North India didn't have a highly developed literature -- there are still 
some Dravidian languages in N. India like that.  On the other hand, 
history is full of cultivated languages that have been replaced by less 
developed newer ones -- e.g. Elamite speakers started speaking Persian 
and Elamite disappeared.  People tend to speak whatever language gives 
them influence, prestige, and the ability to survive -- to some extent, 
English has this function in modern India (at least in some parts, e.g. 
IIT's).  Most areas of the earth have changed their language 3 times in 
HISTORICAL times (at least this is what I learned in a linguistics class 
at Harvard a long time ago).  I wouldn't say Sanskrit is Dravidian -- it 
isn't.  But it has many intriguing "Dravidian" features not found in 
other (non-Indian) Indo-European languages.  (Retroflexes, for example 
-- called murdhanya in Skt).  This stuff is interesting, isn't it?  GH
One of the most intriguing contributions of the Tamil area to Sanskrit 
is the Bhagavatapurana.  It is pretty universally agreed that it was 
written by a Tamilian and that it is filled with motifs and themes from 
the Divyaprabandha and other Tamil literature.  Its author also uses 
"Vedic" forms -- sometimes incorrectly! -- to try to make it sound old 
and hoary.  This work has catalyzed Bhakti movements all over India and 
is, arguably, one of the most important works in the Sanskrit language.  
An example of a Tamilism is the word avamocana, "inn."  This occurs 
nowhere else in Sanskrit -- it is clearly a translation of Tamil viTuti.  
On the other hand, the greatest poet of all Indian literature, Kampan, 
took his story from Sanskrit.  There has been an enormously productive 
interchange between Sanskrit and Tamil.  GH



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தமிழ் & சமஸ்கிருதம்: பேராசிரியர் ஜி. ஹார்ட்

திராவிடத்திற்கும் (தமிழ்) சமஸ்கிருதத்திற்கும் இடையிலான உறவுகள்

உண்மையில், சமஸ்கிருதத்தில் பல திராவிட வாக்கிய அம்சங்களும், திராவிடத்திலிருந்து கடன் சொற்களும் உள்ளன. இவற்றில் சில மிகப் பழமையானவை - ரிக் வேதத்தைப் போலவே பழமையானவை. தெளிவாக, சமஸ்கிருதம் திராவிட பேச்சாளர்களால் இரண்டாவது மொழியாகப் பேசப்பட்டது, இதுபோன்ற சூழ்நிலைகளில் பொதுவானது போல, இந்த பேச்சாளர்கள் தங்கள் சொந்த மொழிகளிலிருந்து தொடரியல் புதிய மொழிக்கு மாற்றப்பட்டனர். இத்தகைய அம்சங்களில் ஏபிஐ, இடி மற்றும் எவாம் பயன்பாடு மற்றும் சில சேர்மங்களின் பயன்பாடு ஆகியவை அடங்கும். இந்த இந்தோ-ஐரோப்பிய சொற்கள் திராவிடமல்ல, ஆனால் அவற்றின் பயன்பாடு திராவிட மொழிகளில் (எ.கா. தமிழ்-மம், என்ரு, டான்) ஒத்த துகள்களுக்கு சமம். பேராசிரியர் முர்ரே எமெனோ இந்த நிகழ்வு குறித்து விரிவாக எழுதியுள்ளார். வட இந்திய இந்தோ-ஆரிய மொழிகள் திராவிட மொழிகளுடன் இன்னும் ஒத்ததாக இருக்கின்றன. சமஸ்கிருத இலக்கியத்தின் பல முக்கிய மரபுகள், குறிப்பாக கவிதைகள் ஒரு திராவிடக் கவிதை மரபில் இருந்து வந்தவை என்பதைக் காட்ட முயற்சித்தேன் (எ.கா. மேகதூதா போன்ற தூதர் கவிதை, மழைக்காலத்தில் பிரிவினையால் கஷ்டப்படும் காதலர்களின் யோசனை போன்றவை. ). உண்மை என்னவென்றால், சமஸ்கிருதத்தைப் பற்றி ஒரு தனி "திராவிடரல்லாத" பாரம்பரியமாகப் பேச முடியாது - உண்மை மிகவும் சிக்கலானது. ஜார்ஜ் ஹார்ட்.


மறைமுகமாக, வட இந்தியாவில் சமஸ்கிருதத்தை (அல்லது அதற்கு ஒத்த ஒன்றை) ஏற்றுக்கொண்ட மக்களிடம் மிகவும் வளர்ந்த இலக்கியங்கள் இல்லை - என். இந்தியாவில் இன்னும் சில திராவிட மொழிகள் உள்ளன. மறுபுறம், வரலாறு குறைவாக வளர்க்கப்பட்ட பயிரிடப்பட்ட மொழிகளால் நிறைந்துள்ளது

வளர்ந்த புதியவை - எ.கா. எலாமைட் பேச்சாளர்கள் பாரசீக மொழி பேசத் தொடங்கினர், எலாமைட் காணாமல் போனார். மக்கள் எந்த மொழியையும் பேசுவதால் அவர்களுக்கு செல்வாக்கு, க ti ரவம் மற்றும் உயிர்வாழும் திறன் - ஓரளவிற்கு,

நவீன இந்தியாவில் ஆங்கிலம் இந்த செயல்பாட்டைக் கொண்டுள்ளது (குறைந்தது சில பகுதிகளில், எ.கா. ஐ.ஐ.டி). பூமியின் பெரும்பாலான பகுதிகள் வரலாற்று மொழிகளில் 3 முறை தங்கள் மொழியை மாற்றிவிட்டன (குறைந்த பட்சம் ஹார்வர்டில் ஒரு மொழியியல் வகுப்பில் நான் கற்றுக்கொண்டது இதுதான்). சமஸ்கிருதம் திராவிடம் என்று நான் கூறமாட்டேன் - அது இல்லை. ஆனால் இது பிற (இந்தியரல்லாத) இந்தோ-ஐரோப்பிய மொழிகளில் காணப்படாத பல சுவாரஸ்யமான "திராவிட" அம்சங்களைக் கொண்டுள்ளது. (ரெட்ரோஃப்ளெக்ஸ், எடுத்துக்காட்டாக - ஸ்க்டில் முர்தன்யா என்று அழைக்கப்படுகிறது). இந்த பொருள் சுவாரஸ்யமானது, இல்லையா? GH

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