Page:Pre-Aryan Tamil Culture.djvu/3

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Pre-Aryan Tamil Culture


P. T. Srinivasa Iyengar, M.A.

(Reader in Indian History, Madras University.)

A little more than a year ago, on the invitation of the Syndicate of the Madras University I delivered the Sir S. Subrahmania Iyer lecture. I chose for the subject of that lecture the 'Stone Age in India' and gave an account of the life of the Indian people so far as it could be inferred from the relics of the Stone Age collected so far. Then I described that lecture as the first chapter of Indian History. My book on Life in Ancient India in the Age of the Mantras, published more than fifteen years ago, is the third chapter of the History of India. The lectures I am going to deliver now,[1] will constitute the second chapter of this entrancing story of the continuous evolution of Indian life from its start when man first appeared on this globe. The proper history of India is not the story of the rise and fall of royal dynasties, nor that of frequent invasions and constant wars, but that of the steady growth of the people in social, moral, and religious ideals, and their ceaseless attempts to realize them in actual life. Hence the work of the historian of India, as I understand it, is chiefly concerned with the construction of pictures of how the people, age by age, ate and drank, how they dressed and decorated themselves, how they lived and loved, how they sang and danced, and how they worshipped their gods and solved the mysteries of human existence.

The Subject

To the good old Vedic word 'Ārya', European scholars have attached varying connotations. A hundred years ago comparative philology was in its childhood and anthropology in an embryonic condition, and German Sanskritists invaded the realms of anthropology and imposed on it the theory that a highly civilized Aryan race, evolved in the central Asian Highlands, flowed down in various streams to India, Persia, Armenia, and the different countries of Europe, fertilized those countries and sowed the seeds of civilization far and wide. Soon this theory was modified by transferring the original centre of the Aryan race to Europe. The patriotism of French and of German scholars impelled them to rival with each other and to conclude that the motherland of each of them alone could support the honour of being the first centre of Aryan culture. Others assigned this honour to Scandinavia, to Finland, to Russia. As seven cities claimed Homer dead, so several countries claimed to be the original land of the Āryans. Then the Italian Anthropologists came into the scene and proved that the Āryans who invaded Greece, Rome and other European countries were savages who remained in the Stone Age when their neighbours had reached the Bronze Age and that wherever they settled

  1. A course of lectures delivered at the University.