The lost continent of Kumari Kandam

I’m sure the science-fiction geeks amongst y’all know about the lost continents of Atlantis, Lemuria and Mu. These are the “missing continents” that were submerged in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans respectively.

[The story of Atlantis has its origin in the Platonic dialogues, while Lemuria was hypothesized in the late 1800s as an explanation for why there were Lemurs in both Madagascar and India but not in Africa or the Middle East. Both are now beloved of mystics and kooks. Nobody really cares about Mu, although it is sometimes confused with Lemuria.]

However, I’ll bet you’ve never heard of the Tamil analogue, the lost continent of Kumari Kandam! Proponents say Kumari Kandam is Lemuria, different names for the same continent that once covered most of the Indian ocean:

Sri Lanka together with India, Indonesia and Malaysia were a part of this continent. Many islands in the Pacific and Indian oceans are remnants of this continent that in ancient time covered the whole area of today’s ocean. [Link]

The lost continent of Kumari Kandam

It turns out that everything does not actually come from India, it comes from Kumari Kandam. And by everything, I do mean everything.

“Homo Dravida” first evolved in Kumari Kandam; it is the cradle of civilization; the birthplace of all languages in general and of the Tamil language in particular. This is where the first and second great ages (Sangams?) of the Tamils happened, not in India, but in the true Dravidian homeland, further south.

R. Mathivanan, then Chief Editor of the Tamil Etymological Dictionary Project of the Government of Tamilnadu, in 1991 … [produced] the following timeline …:

ca. 200,000 to 50,000 BC: evolution of “the Tamilian or Homo Dravida”,
ca. 200,000 to 100,000 BC: beginnings of the Tamil language
50,000 BC: Kumari Kandam civilisation
20,000 BC: A lost Tamil culture of the Easter Island which had an advanced civilisation
16,000 BC: Lemuria submerged
6087 BC: Second Tamil Sangam established by a Pandya king
3031 BC: A Chera prince in his wanderings in the Solomon Island saw wild sugarcane and started cultivation in Tamilnadu.
1780 BC: The Third Tamil Sangam established by a Pandya king
7th century BC: Tolkappiyam (the earliest extant Tamil grammar)… [Link]

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p>The continent was destroyed by three large floods which wiped out most of the golden civilization with it:

It is believed by some Tamil scholars that the first academy existed at southern Maturai and was terminated by sea devouring the city. The Pandya king established a second academy at Kapadapuram. Again, the sea devoured the city. The Pandya king established the third academy in present Maturai (far away from sea coast). [Link]

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p>What was left was later wiped out by the Aryan invasion that corrupted the remnants of the once great Tamil civilizations:

“After imbibing the mania of the Aryan culture of destroying the enemy and their habitats, the Dravidians developed a new avenging and destructive war approach. This induced them to ruin the forts and cities of their own brethren out of enmity”. [Link]

I’m looking forward to seeing a version of the comic book Lemuria entirely settled by Tamils. When Aquaman or Namor come to visit, they can serve them Dosa/Idli .

134 thoughts on “The lost continent of Kumari Kandam

  1. Condom = continent

    C’mon, it’s not that large

    condom = chapters in a book

    Hey, it’s a 10-volume set not some flypaper chapter!

  2. Wogay, Gaadit. Just a thought I’ve had – the smaller number of letters in Tamil and their very simple shapes (basically the primitiveness, no offence to anyone) suggest to me the language is very old. Nothing scientific, just a feeling. I find the script very beautiful…

    None of the Indian scripts, Devanagari or Tamil included, are indigenous in origin. They are adaptations of Near Eastern Semitic scripts. The current form of Tamil script was brought to S. India by Jain/Buddhist monks around 400 B.C. There are some legitimate scholars that interpret older graffiti marks on poetry to be writing, possibly descended from IVC script but that too is a bit of a reach. Prof. Kenoyer is of the belief that IVC “script” may not be writing at all.

  3. More sangam era poetry, remarkable in their imagery, even in translation:

    What the Concubine Said

    You know he comes from where the fresh-water sharks in the pools catch with their mouths the mangoes as they fall, ripe from the trees on the edge of the field.

    At our place he talked big.

    Now back in his own,
    

    when others raise their hands and feet, he will raise his too:

    like a doll in a mirror he will shadow every last wish of his son’s dear mother.

    What Her Girl-Friend Said

    In the seaside grove where he drove back in his chariot the neytal flowers are on the ground, some of their thick petals plowed in and their stalks broken

    by the knife-edge of his wheels’ golden rims furrowing the earth.

  4. Vatteluttu is the precursor to the present Tamil, Malayalam scripts and most South-East Asian scripts. It is also known as the Pallava script. The Pallava script descended from the Tamil Brhami script. Here is a page on the Brahmi descended scripts. Another elaboration on the Brahmi derived scripts. The theory that the Brahmi script derives from Semitic scripts is not proven. It is the remnant of old theories that evrything derive the origin to Adam and Eve in the middle-east and the tower of babel for all languages. Script and language origins need not be related. Look here for an example on roman script for Indian languages.

  5. More on Brahmi here, here and here. Goyal claims that there is no relationship between Indus valley scripts and the Ashokan Brahmi. Question is what happened in the interrgnum between the Indus valley script and through to say the Buddha’s times and until the Mauryas? Not much is known except for speculation.

  6. 48 sounds right. But quillpad tries to be phonetic but doesn’t necessarily follow usage. btw, isn’t quillpad great? they seem to have a large database of words and so map a lot of words correctly even when there isn’t a precise way to represent it in the Roman font.

    Sam, #46, that device (of using the dot on top) is done by placing the ‘ip’ at the end of the previous word. Or by preceding with a vowel such as in Hema’s writing (but unfortunately, adding a sound that was never there). Iramachandran, Aranganathan….

  7. Dude! Lesbian proto-Tamilians. That’s a movie, right there!!

    Dravidian lesbian cave girls in fur bikinis… and dinosaurs! Got to have those dinosaurs! So who fills the Racquel Welch role in the Tamil remake of One Million Years B.C.? Is Kiran available?

  8. More here on a recent excavation with Tamil Brahmi writing.

    Samaskritam means polished and is a more recent language codified by Panini‘s grammar. The older languages are the Prakrits in Northern India, including Pali, Ardha Magadhi and their predecessors. Tamil and the Dravidian family of languages have been interacting with the Prakrits long before Samaskritam was codified and sureley there was a two way exchange of vocabulary. The Vedic langauge was called Chandasa and differs from classic Samaskritam, which had borrowed words from many extant languages in addition to Chandasa. So to say that some words are of Samaskritam origin in Tamil, one would have to show that they crept into Tamil after the Gupta times when Samaskritam was at it’s apogee. It would be pretty hard to disentangle word origins neatly into Prakrit or Tamil, since their interactions go back further, way further than the Buddhas’s times in the 6th century BC. Anyone who makes claims on these one way or the other is typically driven by some political or cultural agendas mostly.

  9. Kurma, #57:

    But quillpad tries to be phonetic but doesn’t necessarily follow usage

    I cheated, by the way. I fudged the spellings of “blade” and “plate” to get the Tamil words to look the way I wanted.

    “Blade” actually comes out as பிலதே and “plate” as பிலாதே

  10. MoorNam’s theory of Antiquity: The extent of antiquity claimed by culture/populace is inversely proportional to the extent of happiness and satisfaction with the present and the hope for the future.

    Well that makes sense. Hindutva is about as emo as it gets. Takes one to know one, I guess…

  11. Er, #60 should read: “Blade” actually comes out as பிலதே and “plate” as பிலாதே

  12. hema, you are right – the millennia-old literature probably have minimum sanskrit influence, though even tolkappiyam is said to owe a great deal to the shastras

    ak,

    “Tolkappiyam” is a treatise on Tamil grammar. I don’t know what shastra you are talking about. can you explain?.

  13. Well that makes sense. Hindutva is about as emo as it gets.

    Sorry – that’s a different case. People who try to date Mahabharata/Ramayana correctly are not trying to prove/claim cultural superiority over others by claiming antiquity. They are merely setting the record straight on issues that were twisted by Colonialists on purpose. It’s a question of truth – nothing more.

    M. Nam

  14. People who try to date Mahabharata/Ramayana correctly are not trying to prove/claim cultural superiority over others by claiming antiquity. They are merely setting the record straight on issues that were twisted by Colonialists on purpose. It’s a question of truth – nothing more.

    Remember, kids… Bad Habit Bear says, “Paint chips are for eating, not for smoking!”

  15. Uh, whoa. Are people taking this seriously? This goes right up there with the Tejo Mahalaya…

    I think this point needs to be stressed a bit more on. The whole issue of the Aryan migration and their subjugation of the Dravids, and the glorification of Dravid culture as a separate identity, is being used as propaganda mostly by Tamil nationalists and Christian missionaries. I have come across n+1 forums (too lazy, and really not that important, to post here) where you have India-haters pulling out the Aryan-Dravid card. Also, Christian evangelicals like to play the caste card as their propaganda for conversion – the main idea being to show the Southies they are “proud” Dravidians discriminated against by the Vedic Hindu fold.

    Is their any solid evidence of this continent? If there really exited this land mass, doesn’t it challenge the established plate tectonics theory of India being attached to Africa? And I think Australis too was attached to India at some point. If this is true, which I am sure it is, this whole theory doesn’t make sense, does it? Whereas Tamil culture may not strictly be a offshoot of Vedic culture, it is nevertheless culturally a part of the greater Indian culture.

    I just felt this point wasn’t brought up in its entirety throughout this discussion.

  16. And the whole theory about dravidians and aryan races is a huge crock… the people who invented these terminologies are probably “upper class” brahmin north indians.

    Actually, they were invented in the 19th century by German and British Indologists. Upon reading the Vedas, they interpreted them according to an Indo-European race idea they were already throwing around. But yes, it is a huge crock.

    Love how this thread has been going so far. :)

  17. The first westerner (and maybe person, I dunno) to use the term Dravidian was linguist Robert Caldwell, and he used it as a LINGUISTIC term. This was in 1856. It was his contention that the four Dravidian languages – Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam, and Tamil – were all derived from the same long-dead language. This language had stood on its own, distinct from the Indo-Aryan language group.

    This set the stage for the Tamil Revivalist movement (glorification of Saiva Siddanta as more egalitarian than the vedas, revival of Sangam literature, etc.), which then led – because of the alienation which many privileged Tamil non-Brahmins felt from the [North Indian Brahmin-dominated] Indian National Congress after 1885 – to the full-blown Dravidian Nationalist movement, whose pathetic death throes we’re witnessing in Tamil politics today.

    I don’t know much about Robert Caldwell, but some Tamil chauvinist outfits (see this entry at tamilnation.org, for example), refer to Caldwell as “the father of the Dravidian movement.” I think this is probably inaccurate, and I would imagine that the infusion of race into the term “Dravidian” to spark the Dravidian political movement was done entirely by the early Tamil Revivalists.

  18. OMG, I for one am sick and tired of this Tamil bullcrap (excuse my French) trotted out to justify Tamil chauvinism and racism. If it’s not hating on the “Hindians” and North Indians in general, it’s bashing Brahmins, attacking Karnataka, or hating the Sinhalese and Sri Lanka. Seriously, these Tamil fanatics need to take a break with their fantasies.

  19. 63 – I meant the Shastras, such as Natya Shastra, Artha Shastra, and Manava Dharma Shastra. There seems to be substantial evidence that the language and concepts of these texts influenced Tolkappiyam and other earlier Tamil texts.

    Vivek, you are right – this went from a linguistic distinction to a political distinction mostly in the early twentieth century. Ideologists like EVR, who started the Dravidar Kazhagam [predecessor to today's AIADMK, DMK etc].

  20. How bout we move beyond the sangam era to the periyapuranam? A scholar I know very well translated these lines from that book:

    nITRu alarpEr oLinerungGum appadiyin niRai karumbin cATRu alaivan kulai vayalil tagaTTUvarAl ezappakaTTU Er

    ATRualavan kozukkizitta cAlvaziyOi acaindu ERic cETRu avalan karu uyirkka muruku uyirkkum cezum kamalam

    In the shimmering light of the ashen waters, In that region of sugar-canes, full, Within the banks of the juice-filled field Constrained by ramps is the plowing bull.

    To bear its tiny progeny A crab from the mud moves and climbs Over a furrow by plowshares torn. A lovely lotus exudes honey For the little ones that are born.

  21. Tolkappiyam and the perceived lack of distinction between ‘tha’/'dha’, ‘ka’/'ga’ … by non-tamil and some tamil speakers:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tolkappiyam#Ezhuththathikaaram

    describes the rules of engagement i.e. when a “ka” is pronounced as “ga” etc (given the lack of distinct characters). Also, one theory/opinion I heard on Doordarshan froma tamil scholar on the lack of asperated sounds like “ha”, “gha” is that tamil was designed to be a flat language with conservation of breath which is very evident when you hear the modern “Madras Bashai” (wiki has a questionably good article on this)

    As for all the devanagiri based languages, whats with writing the english “tha” (as in pa”th”etic) as “ta” and reserving the “tha” for the asperated (not known to non-devanagiri speakers) phoneme in transliterations, how oes this standard practise expect english speakers to pronounce a name/word right?

  22. Sarat #74:

    OMG, I for one am sick and tired of this Tamil bullcrap (excuse my French) trotted out to justify Tamil chauvinism and racism. If it’s not hating on the “Hindians” and North Indians in general, it’s bashing Brahmins, attacking Karnataka, or hating the Sinhalese and Sri Lanka. Seriously, these Tamil fanatics need to take a break with their fantasies.

    Stop generalizing and take a chill pill dude. Relax your moola bandha. Everybody is sensitive about their language. The perceived Tamil chauvinism is a direct offshoot of the imposition of Hindi as the “only” official language of government communication after independence. The flawed idea behind the imposition was that of national unity. While the other South Indian states did not put up that much of a fight against the imposition Hindi, my linguisitic cousins, Tamils were mad as hell and could not take it anymore. (My mother tongue is Telugu, but I grew up in Madras. So I speak and write Tamil better than Telugu). While the conventional argument is that by not learning Hindi, the Tamilians are disadvantaged in communicating and conducting business within India, sixty years have shown that it is simply not true. The economy of Tamil nadu is the second largest, after that of Maharashtra, and has been so for decades. While it is probably true that some Tamils are extreme and chauvinistic about their language, I do not blame them. They have a fantastic and beautiful language with an extraordinary history to be proud of.

    About the “purity” of Tamil: It is true that Tamil has a significant amount of its vocabulary filled with sanskritized roots. Any living language has to adapt and evolve to survive. If Tamil had not borrowed from sanskrit and other languages, it would be dead now, just like Sanskrit. But it is interesting that for every word in Tamil that is etymologycally derived from sanskrit, there is always another equivalent word which is etymologically purer, with Tamil roots.

    However, the rigidity of the Tamil alphabet can be vexing at times. It primarily has to do with the lack of consonants (only 18). However, there are some additional consonants, called vada mozhi (sha, sa, ha, etc..) which are used, but not considered a strict part of the alphabet. Hema is a good example, which would be kema otherwise.

    Also, I have noticed that Tamils are the only people who use “Tamil” in their names. Tamilarasan, Tamilmozhi, etc. Brilliant. Is there any other linguistic group which does the same (No, Johnny English does not count, to preempt you jokers out there)

    I had a Tamil teacher in middle school who was a proponent of the Lemuria kandam theory, but I think that it is sheer non-sense. While it is entirely possible that such a continent existed millions of years ago, the pandiyas and cholas were not fighting over it. A simple lack of appreciation of Geological (millions), human migratory (tens of thousands) and linguistic development (hundreds – thousands) time scales is the reason for such ignorance.

    And why is it written Tamil and not Thamizh ?

  23. And why is it written Tamil and not Thamizh ?

    I assume that’s because people who can’t say ‘zh’ (à®´) usually say ‘l’ (ல) instead. In fact, except for people who speak Tamil or Malayalam, the ‘zh’ sound is pretty unusual and unfamiliar. Most of my friends who are native Hindi speakers pronounce it as “Thamil”.

  24. mana vadu manchi maatalu cheppaedu I agree with every word of #78. Thanks Sourav [taking a bow :) ]

  25. While the other South Indian states did not put up that much of a fight against the imposition Hindi, my linguisitic cousins, Tamils were mad as hell and could not take it anymore.

    This whole concept of language in South Asia is something I just have a hard time comprehending. If there is no common tongue, it is difficult to communicate. I think people seem to make it an “or” condition – either this language OR that language. Why not have a common tongue to communicate for commerce, official business, etc, and then keep your local tongue for informal usage, etc. Personally I could care less what the official language is – pick one, for better or worse and go from there. This morphing of something beneficial to form a regional rallying point seems to have caused nothing but grief.

  26. Why not have a common tongue to communicate for commerce, official business, etc, and then keep your local tongue for informal usage, etc. Personally I could care less what the official language is – pick one, for better or worse and go from there.

    Because the choice of that official language is not neutral. Which language it is advantages some people and disadvantages others when it comes to official jobs, or even access to official services that require paperwork.

    Italy and Germany were both states that were formed out of linguistic nationalism, it’s a powerful force.

  27. Why not have a common tongue to communicate for commerce, official business, etc, and then keep your local tongue for informal usage, etc

    There already was one…English.

    I should add that most South Indians don’t seem to have trouble communicating with each other, in spite of not necessarily being fluent in Hindi.

  28. hema (#83):

    I should add that most South Indians don’t seem to have trouble communicating with each other, in spite of not necessarily being fluent in Hindi.

    Innate Dravidianness.

  29. I should add that most South Indians don’t seem to have trouble communicating with each other, in spite of not necessarily being fluent in Hindi.

    How is that possible, at least for people who don’t know English? In the North, Hindi has become a fairly widespread lingua franca, with decent penetrance. If you take a Punjabi villager, Gujarati villager, Maharashtrian villager, and Bengali villager (correct me if I’m wrong here, Bengalis) and put them together, they will be able to communicate to some extent in Hindi (horrible Hindi, but Hindi). How would a Tamil villager, Kannada villager, and Telugu villager communicate? What’s the lingua franca?

  30. How is that possible, at least for people who don’t know English? In the North, Hindi has become a fairly widespread lingua franca, with decent penetrance. If you take a Punjabi villager, Gujarati villager, Maharashtrian villager, and Bengali villager (correct me if I’m wrong here, Bengalis) and put them together, they will be able to communicate to some extent in Hindi (horrible Hindi, but Hindi). How would a Tamil villager, Kannada villager, and Telugu villager communicate? What’s the lingua franca?

    The lingua franca is a super secret common dravidian language.

    On a serious note, I do not think they will be able to communicate efficiently. But the hypothetical scenario you propose is not a common one. How did Hindi penetrate so efficiently in other parts of India (Punjab, Bengal, Maharashtra etc.) where Hindi was not the lingua franca? I am curious. Taught at school? Doordarshan and bollywood?

    Although Hindi is not taught in Tamil Nadu in public schools, several private schools do teach them as the third language. Also, the Dakshin Bharath Hindi Prachar Sabha does a decent job of promoting Hindi in the south.

  31. How would a Tamil villager, Kannada villager, and Telugu villager communicate? What’s the lingua franca?

    Sign language? :)

    Seriously, though…it’s rare that villagers from TN, Karnataka and Andhra would be meeting, isn’t it? And if they were, it would probably be in some border area, where there tend to be a lot of bilingual individuals, or where the languages share enough commonality that people are able to understand each other. My parents, for example, are from a part of TN that borders Andhra and they speak Telugu fluently, even though they’re native Tamil speakers.

    Also, I tend to think that people from the different southern language groups can understand each other to some extent…at least enough to communicate in a rudimentary way. For example, I don’t speak a lick of Malayalam myself, but I can sort of follow the general gist of a conversation in Malayalam, while not picking up on any of the nuance.

  32. Seriously, though…it’s rare that villagers from TN, Karnataka and Andhra would be meeting, isn’t it?

    Well Hema, you said “I should add that most South Indians don’t seem to have trouble communicating with each other, in spite of not necessarily being fluent in Hindi”. So what exactly does that mean? I took it to imply a lingua franca (of which I am well aware there isn’t one in the South, except for English to some extent).

    How did Hindi penetrate so efficiently in other parts of India (Punjab, Bengal, Maharashtra etc.) where Hindi was not the lingua franca? I am curious. Taught at school? Doordarshan and bollywood?

    Several reasons I think…first of all the other languages are related to Hindi, much like Italian, French, Spanish, and Portugese are related to each other (and as Telugu, Tamil, Kannada are also related to each other for that matter). I think Bollywood and other Hindi-based entertainment has a lot to do with it. And it is taught in schools too, although I can’t vouch for the quality of that. It’s just sort of become the lingua franca. I think the spread of Hindustani in the North during the Mughal era may have laid the groundwork. But I don’t want to overstate the case…people from more remote or poorer villages will still not know Hindi even today, and people from older generations will still not know Hindi. For that matter, people in “Hindi-speaking states” who live in remote villages or are from the older generation, will not know standard urban Hindi either, and will often speak only their local Hindi dialect (like Bhojpuri for example)…which is not always mutually intelligible with standard Hindi.

  33. So what exactly does that mean?

    I think what I meant was that people in the South often have at least a rudimentary understanding of the other southern languages, particularly in those parts of the south where they’re more likely to come into contact with a person who doesn’t speak the local “native language.” Many South Indians speak more than one southern language, particularly in border areas. I’ve also seen statistics suggesting that native Tamil speakers outnumber native Kannada speakers in places like Bangalore, although both language groups in Bangalore tend to be somewhat bilingual. Similarly, it’s very common to find people bilingual in Telugu and Tamil in Madras (er, Chennai)…or for that matter, people who speak Malayalam and Tamil in a place like Coimbatore.

    The ability to understand each other, at least on a very basic level, eliminates (IMO) the need for a common language, as Hindi has become in the North, I guess.

  34. Hey Razib, are you making a claim for Tamilians as a speciation event? I had to read your comments like 4 times to make sure you weren’t joking.

    Pre- and post-zygotic mating barriers aside, there is no such thing as Homo dravida (and also, you don’t capitalize the “dravida” part of it, anyway). Homo sapiens is a species in the family Hominidae. But those “mating barriers” are geographic in nature, not because of any kind of inability to interbreed. Tamilians aren’t on their way out of the species just yet.

    Easter Island’s culture had pretty much nothing to do with Tamil culture. I mean…really…nothing.

    The whole “lost continent” of Lemuria thing is a total pile of steaming B.S. Yeah, Gondwanaland existed, but it was a supercontinent, it was HUGE, and it was a roughly contiguous set of landmasses around 200 million years ago. There just was no Lemuria. Sorry, folks. Sure, it’d be fun, but uh…yeah. We have a hard enough time getting people to agree the world is round around here, without bringing lost continents, linguae franca, and ethnic pride into it, let alone dinosaurs and continents that abruptly sink for no good reason (tsunamis don’t wash away continents…just an FYI for those of you who were reading this and wondering).

  35. It looks like my N. Indian friends are getting all testy about this. First off, if you want to think of India as being like Germany instead of the E.U., you will always be getting your chuddis in a bunch. Secondly, Tamils don’t need your approval to maintain their culture. We don’t have pride in our local culture just to spite N. Indians. It’s always been there, even amongst those of us who are well outside of the evangelical’s & “Dalitstani’s” target demographic. It does not get in the way of us being able to claim a pan-Indian identity and appreciate the beauty of Sanskrit. If you want to imagine it as a degenerate branch of Sanskrit go right ahead, you cam claim a seat right next to the Dravidian nationalists. I understand your concern for our economic well being, but I have relatives who are thriving with nothing else besides English & Tamil. This might raised your hackles, but nothing is going to change. TN’s economy is going to outpace the BIMARU states (not a source of pride for people like me who want to see all of India thrive)without the Central Government or Hindi being of much relevance. This argument reminds me of the hubub over Martin Bernal’s “Black Athena”, granted it was much more credible than the Kumari Kandam “scholarship”, so many of the attacks were ad hominem because at some level academics had a visceral reaction against the idea that Black African ideas may have found their way into Europe via Egypt. No one seems to complain when N. Indians claim, against all evidence to the contrary, that modern Hinduism and its heterodoxies sprang fully formed from Vedic tradition as opposed to being the result of syncretism between multiple Indic cultures & traditions. I believe at some level, the prejudice against Tamils causes this over-reaction to any pride shown in our local traditions and high culture

  36. louiecypher (92):

    Oh man. At what point did this turn into a North Indian / South Indian thing? I mean…these days it seems like at some point or another, commenters on this site are being called anti-Muslim, anti-Tamilian, anti-Pakistani, anti-Christian, anti-pasta, anti-matter…for the love of brown, man. No one’s saying anything negative about Tamils. Just that this guy’s theory is kind of, well…insane. It’d be just as dumb if some Punjabi “scientist” claimed the Himalayas were the remnants of a continent that had suddenly shot up into the sky about 20,000 years ago and became the moon, and coincidentally, the inhabitants of that lost (well, kind of lost…we know where the moon is, I guess) realm were the originators of written language, the Frisbee, laddoos, Fair & Lovely, oxygen, and aspirin.

    Which, as far as I know, is true.

    Hey Abhi, which Apollo mission brought back samples of moon that were spectrographically determined to contain baisan?

    If people will say anything to knock down someone else’s pride in their ethnicity, well…people will also say anything to bolster their pride in their ethnicity.

  37. c’mon fellow tamils. we can always take pride in the courage of co-ethnics who immolated themselves in protest at the proposed imposition of Hindi as a required language in TN schools.

    They were baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad, man! (stupid, self-destructive, melodramatic and bad examples also).

    Rajaji had the last laugh though. He granted an award to my uncle who bravely kicked a dacoit off the train who had been eyeing his daughter’s jugular. Just a lusty kick for some, but a mighty boot for us SL tamils.

  38. How different is SL Tamil from Indian Tamil (given that Indian Tamil itself varies from region to region and apparently caste to caste)? Is it like the difference between American and British English, or something more than that?

    Also, as I understand it, there are two types of Tamils in SL…those that have been there for a VERY long time, and those who have been there only for a few centuries. Is there any intermarriage between these groups? Are the dialects different? Does the former group have castes within it?

    Also, question for Tamils from India…when you read about SL Tamils in Canada, do you identify with them as co-ethnics, or do they seem like a separate people who maybe share some linguistic and cultural traits with you (for example the way some (not all) Indian Bengali Hindus view Bangladeshi Bengali Muslims or the way some Indian Punjabis view Pakistani Punjabis?) I’d be particularly interested in knowing Indian Tamil Brahmins’ feelings on that.

    Thanks in advance to anyone who answers.

  39. In my experience, SL Tamil is a bit more polite. Instead of telling some to go or come as if they are a child, the same level of respect is used with any command.

    As to caste, it does exist. Not as complex as it seems to be in TN, but there are definite social strata and very real barriers between different sections of society.

    The two different groups of Tamils you refer to are generally separated into one group that has allegedly lived there for what may be a thousand or so years and another group that includes most of the Indian tamils brought over to work the tea estates.

  40. Indian Tamil Brahmins are famously against Eelam, which is why they’re despised in the LTTE sympathetic press (though there is not much support for it at all in India anymore). Historically however, Tamil Brahmins were not the dominant caste in Sri Lanka, that honor goes to upper caste Vellalas. Sri Lanka is generally cleaner than India, even with the Civil War, so SL Tamils naturally have some disdain for their Indian counterparts.

  41. #63 – I meant the Shastras, such as Natya Shastra, Artha Shastra, and Manava Dharma Shastra. There seems to be substantial evidence that the language and concepts of these texts influenced Tolkappiyam and other earlier Tamil texts.

    Again, “Tolkaapiyam” is a book that talks about “grammar rules” and that too for the specific language “Tamil”. If you are computer literate, it is similar to Kernighan and Ritchie’s “C programming language”.

    I could think of “natya shastra” defining rules for dance and “artha shastra” defining rules for politics. I think the commonality ends with all these books talking about “rules” for “something”. But saying that “Tolkaapiyam” owes a great deal to such “shastras” makes no sense.

  42. How different is SL Tamil from Indian Tamil

    Pretty different, at least as far as I can tell. I think that because many of the Tamil speakers settled in SL (esp. Jaffna) a very long time ago, their Tamil retains certain usages and vocabulary that is not prevalent in Indian Tamil anymore. For example, I’ve noticed that SL Tamil seems very polite, where even small children are addressed with the formal “you” (equivalent to “aap” in Hindi) whereas in TN, it’s uncommon to use the formal “you” except with certain elders, and with strangers.

    Also, question for Tamils from India…when you read about SL Tamils in Canada, do you identify with them as co-ethnics

    I can’t speak for everyone else, but as a native Tamil speaker from TN, I don’t personally identify with Tamil speakers from Sri Lanka. We may share some common linguistic (and dietary…heh) traditions, but that’s the extent of commonality. Tamil speakers from TN are Indian, after all, and IMO, this comes with a totally different sense of history and belonging than being a Tamil speaker from Sri Lanka.

    Finally, I understand that SL Tamils (particularly from Jaffna) tend to look down on Hill Country Tamils, who came to SL as indentured laborers working for the British. I can’t speak to whether there is significant intermarriage among these two groups now.

  43. I’d be particularly interested in knowing Indian Tamil Brahmins’ feelings on that.

    And as for this question, I fail to understand its relevance to the SL vs. TN question.