Thursday, 10 January 2013

Tamilakam


Pictures from Google


A short Tamil-Brahmi inscription has been discovered in the Edakal cave in Kerala's Wayanad district.
Tamil is an ancient language. It has a literary tradition of over 2,000 years. It is one of the few classical languages which has survived into the 21st century. Those who speak Tamil are known as Tamils. We call ourselves Tamilar in our language.

In 2004, Tamil became the first language to be declared as a classical language in India. Followed by Sanskrit in 2005. When the bar for classical languages was brought down from 2,000 years to 1,500 years, Telugu and Kannada were included in 2008.

Tamil belongs to a larger group of language family known to linguist as the Dravidian language family. The Ethnoloque claims that there are 84 languages in the Dravidian group. Tamil is the oldest among the 84. Perhaps even the mother language of this group.

There are almost 70 million people who has Tamil as their mother tongue. The total population of Dravidian speakers is about 220 million worldwide. Although the oldest Dravidian language, Tamil is not the largest. It is actualy the 2nd largest as there are more Telugu speakers than Tamil.


An early historic inscription in Tamil language and in Tamil Brahmi script, dateable to c.200 BCE, has been found in the archaeological excavations by a German team at Tissamaharama in the down south of the island of Sri Lanka
The origin of Tamil is shrouded in mystery. According to ancient Tamil literatures, there used to be a landmass south of the Indian subcontinent. It is called Kumari Kandam. The Westerners call it Lemuria although Lemuria is nothing more than the imagination of a few notable people. Kumari Kandam was perhaps a chain of islands which existed thousands of years ago. It went under the sea after a series of tsunami.

The Realm of The Tamil People is known as Tamilakam. The ancient sources has mentioned its boundaries. This was the remainder after a large part went under the sea.

The northern boundary is set at Venkata Hills. This is where the famous Tirupathi Balaji (Vishnu) temple is located. He is worshipped as Venkateswara, Lord of Venkata. It is currentlly in Chittoor District. Chittor District is part of the state of Andhra Pradesh. The eastern boundary is the Bay of Bengal while the western boundary is the Arabian Sea. Indian Ocean is its southern boundary.


Tamil inscription, from the Brihadisvara temple in Thanjavur, 11th century AD

If you look at modern map of South India, you can conclude that parts of south Karnataka, parts of south Andhra Pradesh, the whole of Kerala, Puducherry (Pondicherry) and the whole of Tamil Nadu was once Tamilakam.

The people who lived here spoke Tamil. Malayalam, the language of the present day Kerala did not exist 2,000 years ago. The western dialect of the Tamils fused with Sanskrit became a separate language called Malayalam few centuries later.


Tamil region in India during ancient times. Image taken from
Indian History (26th Edition 2010) Chief Editor V.K Agnihotri
This was the Tamilakam in the Indian subcontinent. The Tamils also have their homeland in parts of Sri Lanka.

The island of Sri Lanka has a rich history. Presently, the most dominant ethnic are the Sinhalese. They speak Sinhala. The origin of this ethnic is written in the chronicles of Dipavamsa and Mahavamsa. It is said that Prince Vijaya from the kingdom of Kalinga (Orissa) arrived here on a ship with few hundred followers.


The Galle Trilingual Inscription is a stone tablet inscription in three languages, Chinese, Tamil and Persian, that was erected in 1411 in Galle, Sri Lanka to commemorate the second visit to the island by the Chinese admiral Zheng He

He, Prince Vijaya was the first Sinhalese king of Sri Lanka. The date of reign is around 543 BC to 504 BC. The Tamils were already in the south even before his arrival. In fact, Tamil language is even older than the root language of Sinhala, which is Pali. If you have the time, do check Google earth. Take a look at the distance between Tamil Nadu-Sri Lanka and Orissa-Sri Lanka. You will realise that Tamil Nadu is much, much, much nearer.

A mere raft is enough for anyone to cross the sea to Sri Lanka from Tamil Nadu. Tamils known for their seafaring activities during ancient times would have definitely known the island before the Kalingans. Even the Tamil fishermen would have been more familiar with the island as they go out to the sea each morning. It is only wise to admit that Tamil settlements and kingdoms would have existed in the island before the arrival of any Sinhalese prince from Kalinga.



Sri Lanka districts
During the last 2,000 years, kingdoms expanded and shrunk. Wars were fought. Changes in climate would have happened. There were also many migrations of tribes.

There were invasions from the Muslim Mughals, Dutch, Portugese, French and the British. All these affected the demographics of the entire Tamilakam including that in Sri Lanka. The Northern Province of Sri Lanka is a Tamil majority province.


All these regions when put together becomes the modern Tamilakam.




Language : Tamil
Nationality : Tamilar
Population: approx 75 million
Size:  139,464 km2


Districts/States:

1. Ariyalur
2. Chennai
3. Coimbatore
4. Cuddalore
5. Dharmapuri
6. Dindigul
7. Erode
8. Jaffna
9. Kanchipuram
10. Kanyakumari
11. Karaikal
12. Karur
13. Kilinochchi
14. Krishnagiri
15. Madurai
16. Mannar
17. Mullaithivu
18. Nagapattinam
19. Namakkal
20. Nilgiris
21. Perambalur
22. Puducherry
23. Pudukottai
24. Ramanathapuram
25. Salem
26. Sivagangai
27. Thanjavur
28. Theni
29. Thirunelveli
30. Thirupur
31. Thiruvallur
32. Thiruvannamalai
33. Thiruvarur
34. Thoothukudi
35. Trichy
36. Vavuniya
37. Vellore
38. Villupuram
39. Virudhunagar


- Comments

3 comments:

  1. Thx. all this while I thought Pali was older than Tamil

    ReplyDelete
  2. Dear Sir,
    If Malayalam did not exist 2000 years ago, what language was being spoken in Kerala.
    If people in Kerala spoke Tamil 2000 years ago, then why is Onam not celebrated in Tamil Nadu and did not spread to all Tamil speaking areas of South ??

    Onam which is celebrated, only by the Malayalam speaking people is related to King Mahabali and Vishnu's Vamana avatar. Means this festival was celebrated much before Rama's birth. lets say ~5000 years before.

    So what was the language in Kerala at the time when this Onam festival was started ?? Definetely not Tamil becuase if it was Tamil, then also the current Tamil speaking population would be celebrating it,

    So, it means Malayalam did not come out of Tamil.
    Malayalam is 80% Sanskrit and its grammar.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The celebration of Onam is not because of language but because of past nationality. It is only celebrated in Kerala because it is a national celebration of the Cheras who lived under the rule of King Mahabali. The other Tamils lived under the rule of other kings of the Chola and Pandya dynasty. Therefore, this is only celebrated in those areas ruled by Mahabali. Similarly, there are many other celebrations in Tamil Nadu which is only celebrated by certain Tamils and not all Tamils.

      Delete