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REMARKS ON THE LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE OF THE TAMILS.
BY SIMON CASIE Chitty, Esq.
The Tamil language has been justly considered one of the most copious and elegant in the Eastern hemisphere, and is classified in the Nigan.lu under the head of eighteen original tongues" of the terra cognita of the Hindoos.
Soroe writers, amongst them Fre Bartolemio, suppose it to be à dialect of the Sanskrit, but this is obviously an error; for “ its peculiar structu.f, wholly dissimilur froin Sanskrit, its deficiency in aspirated consonants, its possession cf letters and souris not found in Sanskrit, its division into dialects, one of which contains but few words of Sanskrit derivation; and lastiy, its locality at the southern extremity of India would seem to indicato an independent origin, and one of at least equal antiquity with the San 3krit itsell."- Transactions of the Royal Asiatic Society, Vol. II. p. 264.
The Tamil langnage is divided into two dialects, viz. Shen Tamil, or high dialect and Kudur Tamil, or low dialect. The former oprises three further divisions, of which the first is termid Eyet Tamil, prose Tamil; the second Issei Tamil, poetical Tamil; and the third Nudaga Tamil, dramatic Tamil.
The Alphabet consists of twelve vowels and eighteen consonants, and, like the Greeks, the Tamils ascribe the invention of the whole of them to the gods.
No language in India, if we except the Sanskrit, can rival the Tamil in grammatical accuracy. To Agastya it is chiefly indebted for its high state of refinement, and as that philosopher happened to dwell on the mountain called Podiyamalei, in the south of the Peninsula, and was on that addressed hy the title of Dekshana Moorti, or the sage of the south, it has hence obtained the name of Ten Mozlie, or the southern dialect. Agastya was the first who framed rules concerning thie Tamil grammer, but in the lapse of time they have been lost. After his time several persons wrote on the subject, but their works have likewise perished, excepting the one by Tolkappiyen, who was one of the disciples of Agastya. This, however, from its studiec brevity, has been rendered scarcely intelligible, which led Pavanandi Villwan, at the request and during the reign of the King Sivagangen of Madura to write a commerítary upon it innder the title of Nunnool, i. e. Literae humaniores. Beschi, speaking of this production observes that “ althongh every one is familiar with the title, few have trod even on the threshold of the treatise itself." Though Pawanandi Viduan had in his introduction to the Nunnool proposed to treat of all the five parts of the grammar, namely, Letters, Words, Matter, Versification, and Embellishment, he wrote only on the two first, and the defect was“ supplied by Narkavirája Nambi, Amirdaságaren and Inndi, who each composed a treatise on a part. Different commentaries have been written on the Nunnool in modern times ; but that thich emanated from Beschi and called Tonnool Vilakkam, has thrown them all into the shade.
With regard to dictionaries, the Tamil language boasts of many, amous which the one entitled Nigandı, the production of a Jaina King Mandala, Purusha is the best and most esteemed; like the Amera Cosha, it is composed in verse to be committed to memory, and is divided into twelve chapters, the contents of which are: Ist the titles of Deities, and the names of Men, 3rd the names of Beasts, Fowls and Fishes, 4th the names of Plants, 5th the names of Places, 6th the names of Metals and Minerals, 7th the names of different objects, 8th and 9th names of Physical ob. jects and actions, 10th the Verbs, Ilth the Synonymous words, 12th Homo. Dymous words.
The Sadur Agarádi by Besdie was chiefly compiled from this work and as he has arranged the words in Alphabetical order on the principle of European diction. aries, it has proved very useful to Tamil students.
It is a fact, attested by the numerous works still in existence on the liberal and mechanical arts, that the Tamils had made considerable progress in literature in the earliest period of their history. From the fourth century be. fore, to the eleventh century after Christ, establishments for learning were in high repute ainongst them, and there was a college at Madura, in which erery literary production was received and approved. The Kings of the Chola and Pandiya dynasties who thien reigned over the Peninsula, were themselves men of great learning, and made it a point to cherish and distinguish every genius by particular acts
present generation, howerer, scarcely feel any desire to add to the stock, or improve it; and I doubt whether the Aindoo Literary Society of Madras by the mere printing and publishing of some M.S.S. especially on Mythology, will ever be able to revive the national literature,
ORIGIN OF BUDDHISM.
IN THREE LETTERS FROM THE REV. N. GILBERT TO SIR WILLIAM COLEBROOKE, COM MUNICATED BY THE DON'BLE GEORGE TURNOUR, ESQ.
(Continued.) LETTER 2ND.
SIR WILLIAM COLEBROOKE,
Gilbert's, Antigua, May 4th, 1839.
MY DEAR SIR-I cannot permit myself to receive your very interesting Communications of the 24 and 3d of May, and not return you my best thanks for the same.
I take the opportunity also of sending you a few remarks on the origin of languäge. This subject has been suggested by your and Mr. Read's observatioos on the derivation of the words 'Buddhist' and 'Magi' - It is a subject which has frequently occupied my attention, but respecting which I hare not been ahle to come to any decisive conclusion. At the same time facis—and they are very numerous-seem to point out the truth of tho theory.
I do not, however, state it as my own, for many learned men have adopted it, although from deficiency of proof, or rather of demonstration, it does not appear to have met with very general acceptance.
I believe language to have been given to Adam by divine inspiration, and that that language was the Hebrew. We might imagine this a priori, as it is the language in which the ALMIGHTY has thought fit to reveal himself to his creatures, and which he made use of while on earth. The Greek of the New Testament, is, humanly speaking, rather that of the Apostles than of CHRIST; although doubtless, like the Hebrew, dictated by immediate inspi. ration. That Adam mus: have been taught to speak by insipiration (or as some may prefer to call it, instinct) 'there can be no doubt, or he would not have been able to converse with his CREATOR as he appears to have done, on the first day of his existence; and that a language so inspired should be the most suitable to convey from the infinite intelligence of the CREATOR to the finite comprehension of the creature, all that it was requisite for bim to know and practice, is a conclusion in itself so natural and reasonable that few will probably be inclined to dispute it,
That this language was the Hebrew may not howcver bo so readily con. f.ded; but we have tolerably good evidence on this point also. The oldest writings in the world-far, very far the oldest-Moses having concluded his þistory just where Herodotus begins-are the Hebrew Scriptures; and this is, not only an argument in favor of this opinion, but ought in all fairness, until some mode of accounting for it be devised, to be admitted as a proof,
But the language itself contains alınost indubitable evidence of the fact. We are informed in the 2nd of Genesis that the LORD God brought every liring creature to Adam, to see what he would call them; and that whatso. ever Adam called each, that was the name thereof. Now it is very remark. able that in the Hebrew all of these names are significant, and in fact, liko all our modern attempts at nomenclature, descriptive of the thing named. The leopard is named from his spots, and the bear from his murmuring or groaning. Buffon calls it, 'un gros murmure,' and Curier says 'their voice resembles groaning.' The cannel is named from a very peculiar quality in his disposition, and one which we must suppose to have lain dormant in Paradise; and consequently that Adam could only have given it by inspi. ration-the same word in Hebrew meaning camel and revenge ; and this name of Cainel appears to have - passed into almost all the languages both of tho east and of the west,
Another reason for supposing the Hebrew to have been the original lan. guage is to be found in the immense number of words, which in all other languages, are derived from it; and a third reason in the original significa. tion of such words, I will illustrate both of these arguments by a simplo example.
The word wine in Hebrew-jin or yin, is derived from & verh which means to squeeze or press, and I believe that there is no other language in the world which thus expresses its mode of manufacture; consequently this language exhibits a claim of originality-seeing it not merely names but DESCRIBES things—which no other possesses,
But the argument deducible from this one word does not end here. There is scarcely an ancient or a modern language that does not derive the name of wine from the same Hebrew root, viz. Greek oinos, Latin vinum, Italian and Spanish vino, French vin, Welcb givin, Cimbric uin, Danish vien, Dutch wün, Saxon vin, and English wine.
will only add one oiber reason, and that in the words of the Foreiga Quarterly. The faet that no language but the IIebrew preserves a trace of the confusion of lpgues, is an argument of their formation subsequent ta that event, and that the Hebrew is the sole original.
You will now perceive-adınitting the truth of the foregoing observations, how my derivation of the word Budd is not at all inconsistent with that which you have suggested. It follows also that when we have once traced up a word to the Hebrew, we have arrived at the fountain head; all other derivations being, so to speak, only resting places that we ineet with in our journey. Indeed the account which is given in Genesis of the origin of other languages at Babel, does not imply a new creation of tongues, but only the confusing of them, Bel, from which word Babel is derived, merely signifying to 'mix' or ! mingle;' and perhaps a more striking instance of this coufusion cannot be found than occurs in the two cognate languages, the Hebrew, and the Chaldee, with respect to this very word; for Bel in Chaldee, instead of meaning confusion, means heart, and this apprars to have arisen from a mere inversion of the letters, the Hebrew name for heart being Leb.
Hence supposing the Buddhists to have derived their name originally from their being set apart, like the Nazarites, as more boly than the rest of mankind, and admitting that they were as there seems every reason to believe a branch of the Magi, we can at once perceive how their name came to be admitted into the language of the east as synonymous with wisdom. The doctrine they taught was styled gnósis, (and hence in fact arose the Gnostic heresy,) as containing the only true wisdom, the knowledge of GOD. Indeed the very same process took place with respect to the word Magoi, nur owu translators having actually styled them wise men,'
I cannot find anything at all satisfactory respecting the origin of this latter word in Greek lexicons (of which I hare here only two) or in Calmet or Parkburst. They ail seem to think that it was a Persian word; but Ainsworth does
hesitate derive it from the Hebrew. Mégé, which is itself substantive, forined from a word which signifies to meditate or study. Ainsworth gives it meditans, MUSSITANS. This last word, of explanation-mussitans, muttering or grumbling-has proved very interest. ing to me, as I had some months since written an Essay on the prophecy of the four beasts of Daniel, and hud there explained the second beastmiho bear to be the representative of the Magian religion, and descriptive of its progress through the world, and its connection with the Christian Church, The bear, I have observed in a preceding part of this letter, is named from its grumbling or murmuring voice-its groaning as Curier calls it. And, às the Magian religion consisted in a perpetual struggle between good and evil, and in mortifying the body-as it was not monstrous, like the other symbolic beasts of the prophetic vision, but perfectly natural-teaching as far
as it went, the true knowledge of GOD, but always lamenting and mourning over the impos:ibility of attaining that degree of holiness, which was the ultimate object of all the efforts of its followers—the emblem appears to have been most appropriately selected. The fact, therefore, of the very name of Magi, according to the derivation of Ainsworth, thus incluling these two ideas of ineditation and groaning, I cannot but look upon it às a singular confirmation of an idea adopted at first on very ditferent grounds; and I would add, that this mourping or groaning does not imply any thing at all incongjstent in itself with the grue religion. Isaiah uses the very allusion in reference to the Church: “We roar all like bears, and mourn sore like doves," and St. Paul says, “ ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the Ifdemption of the body,"
To what length these speculations-perhaps I should rather say researches may ultimately conduct us, it is impossible to anticipate. But when I con. zect the prediction of Daniel, that at the time of the end many sball run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased, with the discoveries of Prinsep, Cbampellion, Wilkinson, and Captain Lockett's Babylonian cylinders, not la mention a great variety of others, I cannot but think that I perceive the shadows of forthcoming events, of a magnitude and importance, to the moral, social and religious world, not only unexampled but astounding.
If the magificence and energy of accomplishment is to be at all proportionate to that of preparation, I see not how the world can contain, or humanity achieve the purposes which are now in agitation, and the work that pust shortly be done. The very elements of human society are melting with fervent heåt; and there is not a single earthly principle left that can bind communities together. Fear, love, interest, are all alike impotent: justice, truth, and patriotism are despised. When a member of the British Parlament can boldly assert that he wouid rate black to be white in order to support his party; and when a minister of France can declare that treaties offensive to the people are not to be kept, because rulers and subjects aro Daturally at variance with each other; I do not see how intercourse, either social or national, is to be maintained. We are driven by necessity to seek some higher principle, which shall in fact overtop and overpower every other, and this principle is only to be found in religion. But wien we see churches as well as states tottering to their fall, and when we reflect on such passages of scripture, as the following, yet once more I shake not only earth, but hearen'- and hear a Bishop of our own Church, so learned, suber, and judi. cious as Horsley, declare from the words of prophecy, that "all establish ments will be laid aside. From the toleration of the most pestilent heresies, they will proceed to the toleration of Mahomedanism and Athiesm; and at Jast to a positive persecution of the truth of Christianity."—What refuge here