2 Wonderful Languages
One often wonders about the 2 most ancient languages of the Indian Civilization – Tamil / Tamizh and Samskrt.
Whether these two have a common source?
Whether these two have a connect?
Which of these came first?
We find that these 2 ancient languages of India – Tamil and Samskrt, have similar antiquity for, they both show that their origins have the same roots – in the senses and in life.
They are twin languages and this idea is intrinsic as documented in their respective primary texts. The way of documentation is also almost identical too.
Tamil and Samskrt are thus sibling languages of India and are not one before or after another.
The clue to this comes from an analysis of how the early grammarians of these 2 languages have documented the origins of these 2 languages in their independent works.
- Tolkappiyam by Tamil Grammarian Tolkappiyar
- Ashtadhyayi by Samskrt Grammarian Panini.
An Interesting Observation
The works of both Panini and Tolkappiyar contain direct and inferred pointers to the human senses and to life, in the evolution of their respective languages.
While Panini brings this out explicitly by calling it the Shiva Sutra, Tolkappiyam has an implicit connect.
A Sound Based Connect, A Sound Connect
Tracing The Origins
Both these works list the basic units of sounds in the language and discusses ways to use them by ordering them in certain specific patterns. Interestingly there is a similarity in this arrangement of sounds into vowels and consonants and how they are to be joined.
One can see a tracing
- of these basic units of sounds, to their perception by the human senses (Indriyam) and
- of the possibility of such a perception, only when the human is conscious and alive (Shivam). A dead corpse (Shavam) cannot perceive.
Thus, the overall trace of sounds goes back
- from the spoken language,
- to the perception of sounds through our senses, Indriyam
- to the living, conscious intellect which then discerns them and makes sense out of them, a Shivam.
A Deep Understanding Of Sound
We see a commonality in the understanding of the science of speaking sounds, listening to them and making sense out of them as a language. We also see a beautiful commonality in the combination of the sounds to form words that are adapted to local contexts and local factors such as topography, climate, hydrology, physical features, needs and such other natural aspects.
Such a commonality in understanding the origin of language is expressed by both these works through the similarity in the arrangement of the spoken sounds in these 2 languages. Both of them order the syllables as sets of vowels and consonants. Their ordering shows their deep understanding of the physics of sound and the physiology of humans. For, speech is emitted by the human body in accordance with the scientific principles of resonance and modulation in the air column, regulated by the throat and moderated by the tongue and buccal cavity.
The 3rd chapter of Tolkappiyam, Pirappu Iyal, actually describes how the air moves along the human body and produces various sounds. This is very similar to the explanation of the science of producing human sounds in Samskrt too.
Common Expression of a Common Phenomenon
Only a sound understanding of human sounds can produce such a scientific organization of the basic syllables of a language. And such a scientific expression of a common phenomenon, can have only one natural way of ordering and expression. This is what we find common in both these languages.
Aindiram Nirainda – Fully Developed Senses
The implicit connect of these sounds with the senses and the aspect of human life and consciousness is seen in both the works as follows:
- Panini explicitly calls it as Shiva Sutra, revealed by Shiva
- Tolkappiyam on the other hand, has a Prologue by a poet called Panapaaranaar who refers to Tolkappiyar as “Aindiram Nirainda”, meaning one full of Aindiram.
Aindiram means that which is derived from Indra or as one whose 5 senses, Indriyam are fully developed.
Aindiram is also the name of a literary work of Maya / Mayan and is considered as one of the early Tamil grammar works that preceded even Tolkappiyam.
Even though Aindiram of Mayan is spoken of as a Grammar text, Tamil scholars especially from the field of Shilpa Shastra and Astronomy, which were the forte of Mayan give us a wider perspective of Aindiram. Aindiram of Mayan is a work that describes the grammar by which the subtle elements and consciousness interact and get transformed into physical manifestations of spaces, beings, forms and their interactions.
Mayan lists out interplay of 5 such aspects and hence, Aindiram. Aindu is 5 in Tamil.
The reference to Tolkappiyar as “Aindiram niraindha” therefore portrays him as
- one who is well versed with the Aindiram work of Mayan and hence
- one where all the 5 senses are also exalted.
What is Grammar actually?
Grammar in reality, is a set of rules by which sounds of syllables as well as forms of letters, can combine and interact to form words and sentences to listen to as well as see in written form.
The English Translation of Maya’s Aindiram has a beautiful Foreword by the renowned Shilpi and Vaastu expert Shri. Ganapathy Sthapathy, which highlights the above aspect of Grammar.
It is about the process through which, what is perceived by the mind in the form of light or sound, can be brought out as concrete forms – be they scripts, designs, shapes, forms, structures and entities.
And such a manifestation cannot be possible without the ability / potential of the Cosmos to be able to manifest itself, which is what is auspiciousness i.e Shiva or Mangalam.
Expanding Our Scope of Understanding
When we are dealing with such antique and insightful works, we cannot limit our thinking to Lord Shiva or a Lord Indra as historic people who can pen works. Nor are they mythology. They are symbolisms of Natural and factual, Cosmic principles which are insights gained by our ancient Rishis / Seers.
Such Divinities are Tattva, cosmic principles and the human interface with them needs a careful, wholesome handling.
In Tolkappiyam, rather than a direct reference to Lord Shiva as a God by name, we rightfully find reference to the context of auspiciousness in the usage of the word “Shivaniya” in the preface.
Tolkappiyar is being credited with having searched out and discerned the naturally occurring letters, sounds and meanings from antique Prose and Poetry works in Ancient Tamil, which have been auspiciously produced by this Nature blessed land and having arranged these letters and sounds in an order, skillfully.
This is what Panini is also credited with, similarly.
North and South – An Intertwining
Same Author – Mayan/Maya
There are about 60 works of Mayan, authored in Tamil, which are available today. At the same time there are numerous works by Mayan in Samskrt too. Mayan is a historical personage and is credited with the Maya Sabha of the historic Mahabharatha events, which took place in Indraprasta in present day Delhi, i.e in North India.
So, where can one draw the line between Samskrt and Tamil?
While, some of the words may be different in phonology, the thoughts, meanings and premise seem not.
OM seems to be at the base of the knowledge of both the grammarians.
Aindiram is based on the light and sound of OM and Tolkappiyar is eulogized as one who knows the Aindiram. OM, is also the root syllable associated with Muruga or Kartikeya, the Divinity for the Tamil Language itself.
A telling expression of such similarity, more in thought is seen by other words too.
Common Respect To Veda In Sangam Times
The preface to Tolkappiyam also describes a scene of King Nilam Tharu Thiruvin Pandiyan’s court. Here, Tolkappiyar is described as having expounded his Tolkappiyam in this king’s court, amidst those who spoke virtuous words and were rooted in wisdom of the 4 Veda / Marai in Tamil.
King Nilam Tharu Thiruvin Pandiyan is the one who leads the people from Kumari Kandam onto mainland India when the original Pandya kingdom is submerged in the 2nd Sangam deluge. This is the King who led and gave his people a new land i.e Nilam at present day Madurai.
The mention of Veda during Tolkappiyar’s times itself shows its prevalence in South India and a deep respect for Veda by this old Sangam Tamil king.
This reference also helps to fix the Tolkappiyam work around this ecological time period, dateable to the Tsunami that engulfed Dwaraka in the year 3031 BCE. Information with regard to this dating can be found in our books Triple Eclipse and Historical Krishna – Volumes 1 and 2.
Same Set of 5 – The Panchabhuta
The Veda speak of how the Universe gets manifested from the subtle, through a process called Panchikaranam, which is an interplay of 5 primordial elements. Aindiram, which is a precursor to Tolkappiyam, also touches upon a similar interplay of 5.
Mayan and Vishwakarma
If Veda contain Vishwakarma Sukta to describe this process of Creation, Aindiram is by Mayan who is also a Vishwakarma.
If during Rama’s times, Ravana took the help of Mayan to build his Lanka, during Krishna’s times, Krishna took the help of Vishwakarma to build His Dwaraka and the Pandava got Mayan to build their Mayasabha.
So, how does one differentiate one language from the other, except for the spoken sounds, when the meaning, theme, ethos are all similar?
For that matter, how can anyone ever indicate which came first or which influenced which?
The Visible Connection
What one can instead see is that, while they have independent phonology in some respects, which might show the 2 languages to be seemingly different, they have common ideology as far as Cosmology is concerned. Also, their basis for source of language goes back to the origins of the Universe from the subtle and the 5 elements as well as the rhythm, order and science in it.
Shiva and Indra, implied in both Ashtadhyayi and Tolkappiyam are to be understood in the light of Shiva being the Consciousness and Divinity for Panchabhuta which creates matter / manifestation, which in turn brings about Indriyam, the 5 senses, with Indra as their Divinity, which help us perceive the world and communicate with each other and Nature. The word Shiva for this Tattva, which is the potential to manifest, therefore means Mangalam or Auspiciousness.
That is the beauty of our age-old civilizational culture.
The beauty is in how across Samskrt and Tamil languages, the great grammarians have had a common view of how language comes to humans.
From all of this, we can see that Tamil and Samskrt are thus,
- similar in antiquity.
- similar in understanding the source of the language.
- similar in way of expressing their origin.
This convergence in thought and the elevated understanding of the subtle aspects of existence shows a far greater connect beyond words and etymology of the words in the languages themselves.
It far outweighs the fact that
- at times one can see a variance in the words used by the 2 languages for the same aspect and
- many a times, one can also see a commonality in many of the words used by the 2 languages for the same aspect.
This is Ek Bharat Sreshta Bharat – Ore Bharatham Unnatha Bharatham.
And it is a timeless connect.