Page:Pre-Aryan Tamil Culture.djvu/86

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84

There are several minor subjects about which the evidence of pure Tamil words and of early literature can be profitably user, but which I have now no time to deal with. Those subjects are: Diseases and medicines, knowledge of human and animal anatomy, notions of jurisprudence, recognized terms of relationship, death-rites, division of time, astronomical notions, knowledge of colours, of meteorological phenomena, reading and writing, notions of psychology and ethics. Without the inclusion of these subjects, our reconstruction of the life of the ancient Tamils will not be complete.

This life of the Tamil people slowly evolved from the beginning of the Old Stone Age, that of the Āryas of North India began to influence. This was not a catastrophic inroad into the south from the north but a very slow process of infiltration. This infiltration began in the middle of the third millennum b.c. Then Paraśurāma settled with a number of followers, south of the Vindhyas. Many of Viśvamitra's sons, soon after, migrated to South India, as the Aitareya Brāhmaṇa informs us. But yet at the beginning of the second millennium b.c., when Rāma crossed the Godāvarī, the non-Aryan Rākshasas were predominant in Southern India and the southernmost Ārya colony was that of the Āgastyas on the banks of that river. In the age of the Mahābhārata, in which Tamil soldiers took part, Ārya influence in Southern India increased. But still in about the sixth century b.c. Āpastambha, the last of the Sūtrakāras, called a Rishi by courtesy, flourished near the banks of the Godāvarī and made laws for the Āryas there. Tamil India produced no Rishi, neither a Rishi of the mantradrashṭā type, nor even of the later type of the promulgator of the Śrauta, Gṛihya, and Dharma Sūtras. Into the Tamil land, Brāhmaṇas, Bauddhas, and Jainas spread in the centuries preceding and succeeding the beginning of the Christian era. The early Pallavas of Kāñchī were chiefly responsible for this migration of the Āryas. Notwithstanding the widespread of Brāhmaṇas, literature was chiefly in the hands of the Tamil Pāṇar and hence neither the Sanskrit language nor Sanskrit literature exercised much influence till about the fifth century after Christ. Early in that age, Tṛiṇadhumagni, author of Tolkāppiyam, tried to adapt the social system of the northerners to the Tamil people, but without any success. Meanwhile the religious ideas of the Itihāsas spread among the common people. The teachings and practices of the Bauddhas and the Jainas were also promulgated from the monasteries of those monks. The complicated rites of Siva-worship and Vishṇu-worship as propounded in the Āgamas were adopted by the people and temple rites became the monopoly of a special sect of Brāhmaṇas; as a result of this, these two cults became wedded to the Ārya system of four varṇas, ill-adjusted to the old scheme of Tamil classes. One of the results of this was the extension of the idea of endogamous caste and the rise of innumerable castes marked by endogamy—an idea unknown to the Tamils of the early ages. Another result was that Tamil lost its linguistic and literary independence. A copious flow of Sanskrit words into the Tamil tongue took place. In the region of literature, the old ode, agaval[1] gave place to kāviyam.[2] Not only literary forms but also literary images, literary conventions, and poetic images, belonging to

  1. அகவல்
  2. காவியம்