First a disclaimer, I know nothing about epigraphy and I can write in one post card what I know about language (Old Tamil) and history including Indus Valley. I attended the talk today out of curiosity and to listen in person to Mr.Iravatham Mahadevan. I took limited notes of the talk, so I may have misunderstood some, so please refer to the actual paper for correct following.
Padma Shri award winning Indian epigraphist Mr.Iravatham Mahadevan (IM) delivered today evening in Roja Muthiah Research Library (RMRL), what the scholars hosting the talk proudly claimed as a historic talk. This was the first public presentation by Mr.Mahadevan titled “Dravidian Proof of the Indus Script via The Rig Veda: A Case Study”. The man at 84 years was frail, his voice feeble but his energy on the subject, his urge to unravel the mysteries of Indus Valley Script was super clear and infectious. The small hall at RMRL was filled with nearly hundred experts (excluding myself) and there was pin drop silence (a rarity in India) to listen carefully to Mr.Mahadevan.
The presentation began by listing 4 signs (or symbols) named for convenience as ABCD, reading right to left. The four ideograms are the following:
A – looks like a “Back of wolf”, a four legged animal with no face meaning the real identification of the animal not important, its more of an object/asset
B – looks like a Hook, receive
C – looks like crossroads, village
D – looks like a Jar, a most frequent occurrence in Indus script, almost 10%. Frequently appears in the end
From this, Mr.Mahadevan arrives using various techniques to deduce Old Tamil (Dravidian) root words with the nearest literal meanings and use a technique called “rebus” which uses images to indicate the (pronunciation of) a letter (for example he said letter I in English can be shown with an image of Eye).
In the first process, he deduces the Old Tamil root words for these 4 signs. By this,
A – is மாறு as in மகாகவி பாரதியார் பாடல் வரிகள்:
கங்கை நதிப்புறத்துக் கோதுமைப் பண்டம்
காவிரி வெற்றிலைக்கு மாறுகொள்ளுவோம்
where மாறு indicates “Barter”, extending to “Merchant”
B – is கொள் as in மாறுகொள்
C – is Village, (Proper Noun) a Resident of a village, பாடி as in ஆயர்பாடி/காட்பாடி. Another meaning is வாழ் as in வாழ்கிறான், வாழ் in old Tamil is to differentiate between living and to live prosperous
D – is like ‘அன்’ as in மஹாதேவன் to indicate masculine gender
Reading all the 4 signs together we can arrive at மாறு கொள் பாடி அன், from this he arrives at proper forms to “One who receives barter and lives in the city”. In other words, “Merchant of the city“
In the second process, he deduces the 4 signs to be the root words of names of later day Pandian Kings, who were probably descendant of Indus Valley who retained the names without knowing the meaning.
A – மாறு, மாறன் – meaning Barterer – now a Pandia King
B – செழி, செழியன் – meaning he of lightning – now a Pandia King
C – பாடி, பாண்டி, பாண்டியன் – meaning the prosperous – now a Pandia King
C – வாழி, வழுதி – meaning he of the city – now a Pandia King
In the third process, he deduces the 4 signs to arrive at Rig Veda days Sanskrit names including the god name “Pusan”. I didn’t follow the Sanskrit names properly so couldn’t take notes on that. He mentioned instances of how some of the names (words) in Rig Veda could have been wrongly understood (myths created), and understanding their root words from Indus Script can explain the intended meaning of those words.
I remember in one place he using the word “அம்பல்” to indicate “அம்பலம்” which means Assembly as in அம்பலப்படுத்துதல் (bring it out in open village assembly).
By the above 3 process, Mr.Mahadevan concludes the following 3 points:
- The Language of Indus civilization was an early form of Dravidian
- Due to migration of a section of the Indus population southwards, they formed some settlements in South India
- (Rig) Vedic age succeeded the Indus civilization. The Rig Veda is a product of cross composite
- The full paper in PDF is published by RMRL website for free. Any questions can be sent to RMRL at DATAONE.IN email ID.
- The Hindu has published a brief article here with the findings
- Badri Seshadri has posted his notes in Tamil here