Page:Pre-Aryan Tamil Culture.djvu/33

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from Sanskrit roots have not been found by scholars notwithstanding three thousand years of unexampled ingenuity. Hence there is no linguistic reason to claim that these names originally belonged to the Sanskrit language. (9) The possibility of North India borrowing names of objects and even of Gods from South India has not been investigated at all. There was plenty of intercourse between the people North and South of the Vindhyas in the remote ages. Therefore there is nothing to disprove the notion that the same Gods were worshipped throughout India even before the fire-cult rose to great popularity five thousand years ago. Hence the most probable conclusion is that when the Rishis moulded the Vedic cult they utilized the pre-existing gods and adapted them to their philosophical concepts. Such is what has taken place all over the world in the evolution of religion. Moreover it is only in recent times that the idea rose that Sanskrit, being a perfect language, could not have borrowed names from any other language. The ancient thinkers had no such illusion. Mīmāmsa Sutras I. iii. 9, says, chodītam tu pratiyeta avirodhāt pramāṇena. This implies that words borrowed from the mlechchha languages and used in the Veda ought to be understood in the sense they have in those mlechchha languages and not to be ascribed new meanings based on the nirukta or etymological speculations. Śabara gives as illustrations of such borrowing tāmara, lotus, pika, cuckoo, both Tamil words. I offer the suggestion that many more words were borrowed by Sanskrit from Tamil. Not as a proved conclusion, but merely to challenge enquiry I suggest that the word, so essential to later Sanskrit philosophy, Māyā, was coined from a Tamil root-word.

Māyā is a word which occurs in the Vedic mantras; there it does not possess the meaning of Mūlaprakṛiti, chaotic matter, that which is not sat, nor asat. In the mantras it merely means the wonder-working power exhibited by Indra and other gods. Gradually Māyā came to be specially associated with Viṣhṇu; in the Bhagavad Gītā, Kṛishṇa, the incarnate Vişhṇu, speaks of mama māyā duratyayā, 'my Māyā difficult to transcend.' So Māyā came to mean the power, the magic might wielded by the Supreme Vişhṇu in creating, and sustaining the universe and this is still the meaning of Māyā in Vaishṇava tradition. In the Śaiva schools Māyā became the wife of Śiva, the mighty mother of the universe, being Īśvara's power embodied in manifested matter. In the Advaita schools, she became identified with Prakṛiti, matter, which is a reality to embodied beings and vanishes without leaving a trace behind before the vision of him who has seen the light of Ātmā. Hence Advaitīs explain it by the jingle yā mā sā māyāā, who is not, she is māyā; this ingenious and impossible derivation could have been invented only, after that incomparable philosopher, Śaṅkarāchārya, definitely and finally connected the word with that which exists as a phenomenon but does not exist as a noumenon. The older meaning of the word, from which this meaning has arisen, was wonder, astonishment, power of magic, cannot be derived from any Sanskrit root; but Tamil possesses a root that exactly suits the word and that is māy,[1] to be astonished, to vanish from sight. I am sure

  1. மாய்.