The evolution of Telugu, Tamil, and Kannada languages

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The evolution of Telugu, Tamil, and Kannada languages

Post by Rashmun on Fri May 25, 2018 2:01 pm

Around the time of Vishnukundinas, a development of great significance in the history of Telugu language took place in the modern day raayalaseema. All the royal inscriptions till that day used either Prakrit or Sanskrit. This was in spite of the fact that there was a well developed local language in the Telugu land. Beginning with the ikshvaaku dynasty, the Royal courts started to increasingly replace Prakrit for its predecessor, the Sanskrit. By the time of vishNukunDina dynasty, Sanskrit had gained a pre-eminent status. This powerful trend towards increasing Sanskritization was reversed by the cOLa kings who ruled from rEnaaDu. This corresponds roughly to the modern day Cuddapah, Eastern Chittoor, Southern Nellore and surrounding areas). They were vassals under the southern Pallava kings. They broke with the prevailing fashion and introduced the tradition of writing Royal proclamations in the local (Telugu) language. The earliest available inscription containing Telugu sentences comes from these cOLa kings and is dated to 573-576 CE. These Telugu cOLa kings had eventually gained prominence and filled the vacuum left by the end of Pallava dynasty. During the next fifty years, Telugu inscriptions appeared in the neighboring Anantapuram and all the surrounding regions. Their act of patronizing Telugu over Sanskrit had caught on and other kings in the Telugu land had begun to follow their lead. The first available Telugu inscription in the coastal Andhra Pradesh comes from about 633 CE. Around the same time, the Chalukya kings of Telangana also started using Telugu for inscriptions.

In the meantime, Pallavas were gaining prominence in the Tamil country. The origin of Pallavas is still a subject of speculation. They were perhaps the descendents of the Saka Pahlava warriors from ancient Iran. Over the centuries, they wandered over western India and sporadically waged wars with many dynasties. Satavahana kings subdued them around the time of Christ. They might then have settled in the northern Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh. This area is still referred to as Palnadu or Pallava Nadu and is the scene of one the central events in Telugu history (war of Palnadu, 12th Cent.). These Telugu Pallavas eventually gained prominence and set up small kingdoms. As they grew more powerful, a branch of these Pallavas had migrated to the Tamil country. There they had established one of the most cherished kingdoms in Tamil history. Their capitol was Kanchi, close the border between Tamil and Telugu lands. Although they were responsible for the destruction of much of the composite Hindu-Buddhist-Jain legacy of Ikshvakus in terms of education, fine arts and architecture, they also took on the Ikshvaku zeal for building and sculpture and evolved their own styles. The earliest available inscriptions with Tamil content were from the time of the rise of Pallava influence. By the time Pallavas moved to the Tamil country from Telugu lands, Sanskrit gained its prominence in South India and displaced Prakrit. The Pallavas took this newfound interest to Tamil Nadu and patronized some of the most illustrious Sanskrit poets like Bharavi and Dandin. At that time, Tamil (and Sanskrit in the Tamil land) used to be written in the "pallava grantham" script. Row 8 of Fig. T1 lists this script. Modern Tamil script eventually descended from it. A great number of south-east Asian languages including Thai and Malay had adapted variants of this grantham script and Telugu script over the centuries. A detailed example is given below. The language used is Sanskrit.

Although Kannada evolved from the southern sub-family of old Dravidian and hence has a greater affinity with Tamil than Telugu, the scripts of the two languages were tied together for over two thousand years. This was mainly possible because telugu nADu and its neighbor karri nADu (mostly consisting of the present day states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh) were ruled by several kings for over two thousand years who owed their origins and/or allegiance jointly to both regions. The Satavahanas influenced the northern Karnataka region for a long time before and after Christ. In fact, the earliest references to Satavahanas occur at the border between the modern day Andhra and Karnataka States. Bellari, Anantapur and Kurnool districts seem to be the first home of these kings. This region was the first to be referred to as Andhraapatha. Between the 5th and 9th Centuries, Rashtrakutas who ruled from Maharashtra and parts of northern Karnataka dominated the Telugu land for brief periods of time. In the sixth century, Chalukyas began their ascent over Kannada country and eventually over Telugu lands. From many indications, it appears that the present day Rayalaseema in Andhra Pradesh was the first home of Chalukyas. As early as 1st Century CE, they were mentioned as being the vassals and chieftains under the Satavahana rule. Their place of residence at that time was the Cuddapah area. They apparently migrated to the northern Karnataka area after suffering loses at the hands of Pallava kings. They eventually established one of the most brilliant and powerful empires of South Indian history. At their peak, they controlled the better part of western and southern India. They reentered the Telugu land via the present day Telangana. This region was their strong hold for over six centuries. Although they tended to favor Kannada in the beginning, it is in Telangana that they re-learned Telugu. When the dynasty had branched off into Western and Eastern kingdoms, the eastern branch(es) had completely become Telugu speaking. Both branches continued to patronize Telugu and Kannada. The 'trinity' (ratna traya) of early Kannada literature Pampa, Ponna and Ranna all lived in Telugu lands far from the border (because of their origin or patronage). More than any single ruling clan, it is the Chalukyas who influenced the modern form of Telugu script and its affinity with modern Kannada script.


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