Page:Pre-Aryan Tamil Culture.djvu/5

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North India began to influence each other, however faintly, from the beginning of the Vedic Age. An analysis of the information contained in these mantras also discovers the fact that the Āryas and the Dasyus, though violently opposed to each other in the cults they followed, had attained to absolutely the same level of general culture; except in the matter of religion and literature, they lived the same kind of life; they ate the same food, wore the same kind of clothes, had the same amusements, the same customs, manners, etc., and followed the same methods of making love and war.

Is there any way of constructing a picture of the life of any Indian people before the rise of the Ārya cult 5,000 years ago? The Tamils were the most highly cultured of the people of India before the age of the Rishis and it is proposed here to investigate the culture which the ancient Tamils attained to in South India, before the gorgeous three-fire Ārya rites spread, and the associated Vedic literature was promulgated, in the valleys of the Sindhu and the Gaṅgā.

Three Lines of Evidence

There are three lines of evidence which can be utilized for constructing a picture of the life of the ancient Tamils before the rise of the Arya triple-fire cult in India, north of the Vindhyas. The first source of information regarding ancient South Indian life is the catalogue of prehistoric antiquities of South India, of artefacts, discovered by geologists and others, belonging to the Neolithic and early Iron Ages and deposited in the various' museums of India. The study of these artefacts has to be supplemented by a careful examination of the sites whence these relics of ancient Indian man have been derived and which represent the settlements of Neolithic and early Iron Age men. Besides a careful study of ancient settlements the investigator ought also to observe the sites of ancient graveyards and conduct excavations of Neolithic and early Iron Age graves in the Tamil country before he can understand their implications with regard to the lives led by the ancient Tamils. The second line of evidence is furnished by a study of the words which the Tamil language possessed before it came in any kind of contact with Sanskrit, the sacred language of the Āryas. Nouns and verbs constitute the trunk of a language and the objects and actions which nouns and verbs refer to must have been possessed by or known to the speakers of a language before they could use those essential parts of speech in their talk. If we could make up a list of the nouns and verbs which, we are certain, belonged to the earliest stratum of the language of a people, we may infer from it what objects they handled or had observed, what actions they were able to perform, in other words, what was the nature of the life that they lived, what was the general culture they had attained to. This is the main object of this study. Our third line of evidence is the early literature of the Tamil people. The existing specimens of this literature no doubt belong to times later than what we are investigating. But we are certain that the even tenor of the life of the people in that ancient epoch was not disturbed by catastrophic changes; therefore, as the life of the people mirrored in the early literature, which we now possess is,