D06131 - LESSON - 1
Tamil in Cave Inscriptions
Cave inscriptions are found in various places in Tamil Nadu. The reasons for such inscriptions are many. Several efforts are made to undertake research in these aspects. The language of these inscriptions is shown to be Tamil only. The shape of these letters is the Brahmi script that was in vogue throughout India. Phonetic structure, word making and word order in larger units of Tamil language are found in cave inscriptions. All these form the contents of this lesson.
Introducing cave inscriptions in the first central unit, the language and letters used in them, phonology, morphology and syntax of that language are discussed in the next four units.
Dated in the third century B.C., cave inscriptions are found in places like Keezhavalavu, Aaanaimalai, Azhakarmalai, Thiruparankuntam, Puhazhur and Maamandoor from Madurai to Chinglepet districts of the present Tamil Nadu.
Buddhist and Jain saints lived in these caves, that were made comfortable to live. Kings, merchants and people of the above places contributed to this. Inscriptions are found in the frontal rocks, on the headside and the lateral parts of the rocky beds used by the saints. These inscriptions were discovered as late as 1903 only in Keezhavalavu.
A few inscriptions record the donations offered by the kings for the benefit of saints. Jain who made these inscriptions had Prakrit as their mother-tongue. Hence words of this language could be found in the language whose grammatical structure was almost that of Tamil. Brahmi script of the fourth to the first century B,C. was used to inscribe in the languages spoken in these regions.
Modern linguists divided language studies into phonology, morphology and syntax. Tamil grammarians classified Tamil phonemes into vowels and consonants. The surprising uniformity in this analysis can be understood.
Similarly, the morphological aspects of nouns, verbs and hybrid words of Prakrit and Sanskrit languages are described in this unit. The subject verb, concord, and word order as described by Tholkappiar and substantive sentences identified by linguists are illustrated in the central unit.
On learning this lesson you will be able to understand the ancientness of Tamil letters and grammar as used in cave inscriptions.