Study of Dravidian Linguistics and Civilization
According to the Russian linguist M.S. Andronov, Proto-Dravidian gave
rise to 21 Dravidian Languages. They can be broadly classified into
three groups: Northern group, Central group, and Southern group of
The Northern group consists of three languages. The central group
consists ten langauages. Out of these ten, only telugu became a
literary language and the rest of the nine languages remained tribal
languages. The southern group consists of languages which includes
Kannada, Tamil, Malayalam, Tulu and others.
Telugu split from Proto-Dravidian between 1500-1000 BC. So, Telugu
became a distinct language by the time any literary activity began to
appear in the Tamil land.
Kannada split from Proto-Dravidian around 0 BC. Note that the current
similarity in scripts between Kannada and Telugu has a lot more with
Chalukyas rule of Andhra than the similarity between the languages.
Admittedly, Kannada is Telugu's closest cousin. In India the history
of scripts has been almost independent of the history of languages.
Proto-Dravidian gave rise to totally 21 Dravidian languages. They are
The other languages in the Central group provide invaluble information
in deducing the prehistory of Telugu.
Gonds and Koyas(speaking Konda language) are closely related tribes.
Gonds have an interesting story about the origin of their tribe. It
also matches the story Koyas have to say about their origin. Once upon
a time there were 1600 crores of Koyas at Dhavalagiri. They were very
dirty and never used to take bath. Mahadeva got disgusted at their
dirtiness and jailed them in a cave. However Parvati was very fond of
them. She did penance and got a son called Lingo. Linga prayed
Mahadeva that Koyas should be released. Shiva would release them on
the condition that Lingo performs all the adventures that Shiva asks.
Once Lingo performed all of them successfully, Shiva had to release
Lingo went away on a journey with all 1600 crores of them. On the way
they crossed a river. Lingo gave them rice and "Jonna Pindi". There
Koyas stole ghee of Aryan deities. By then there were already four
groups among them called Taekam, Maarkam, Poosam, and telingam. Lingo
built a town for them and divided them into castes.
There is a possibility that the words 'telingam' and telugu come from
the same source.
Posted in soc.culture.indian.telugu by Tadepalli Hari Krishna
My brother and I were often interested in tracing the origins of
Telugu culture - not to prove its supremacy over other cultures, but
simply to understand what made the Andhras a large cultural group
different from the other major Indian cultures. So the first question
is : When did the Telugu people become a separate linguistic cultural
group & when could they be seen distinct from the other cultural
groups ? History as observed from stone inscriptions dates this to
around 500 BC. So it must be the case that Telugu usage without being
grossly incomprehensible to a Telugu speaking person of today must
have existed atleast by 1000 BC. Who were all the people speaking
Telugu around 1000 BC ? Can we say that all the region marked as
'Andhra Pradesh' today was speaking Telugu ? The answer is not so easy
to be stated. We were more than fascinated when we set out to
understand the origins of the Telugu culture.
An eminent 20 th century linguist called Ganti Somayaji Jogi had
written a voluminous treatise tracing the origins of several telugu
words in Tamil. My brother, however, notes that there is a larger body
of Telugu usage that does not intersect with any of the other major
languages of India. The infusion of large volume of Sanskrit into
Telugu is relatively a more modern event in the history of the Telugu
language. Also, telugu has distinct linguistic patterns that
definitely do not belong to Tamil, in addition to a large body of
diction which is specific to Telugu. He observed that somewhat more
primary 'document' of the usage of ancient Telugu are in the family
names of Telugu people and in the names of the villages and towns of
Andhra. These are mostly specific to telugu people and also a large
source for making convincing etymological constructions for telugu
More reflection on the origins of Telugu led us to believe that Telugu
is not the language of any one specific dominant people of the Eastern
India, but the confluence of the individual languages of a
dozen-to-twenty big tribal groups living in Eastern India. It is
difficult of date this process (which must have continued for a period
of 1-2 millennia) - safe it put it somewhere before 3000BC. Thus a
major language group such as the Telugu could not begun from a single
monolithic group. I can compare it only with the formation of a river.
A large river as we see it in the plains has a very cognizable course,
identity and shape. But its origin is too complex to be traced. Drops
of rain water that precipitate in higher up rocks and mountains flow
through the crevices of rocks and mountains and join together to form
minor streams. These streams slowly merge at the foothills to form
smaller rivers, which merge into the larger river in the plateaus and
finally become the immense river in the plains. The river has no
simple identity or nomenclature at the point(??) of its formation. So
can not one localize in time and space the development of a major
culture such as of the Telugu people.
I invite comments and criticism from the knowledgeable on the history
of Telugu culture.
EVOLUTION OF ANDHRA LANGUAGE
By Etukoori Balaraama Moorti in Andhra Samkshipta Charitra
English translation : PALANA
Andhra was originally the name of a tribe. This tribe was a nomadic
one and the hills and rivers adjacent to the habitat of this tribe
were named after the tribe - Andhra. Gradually the area where this
tribe settled was called "Andhra". There is a valley near Bombay
called the "Andhra Valley". There is a small river in Maharashtra
called "Andri" (anDri). A subriver of Tungabhadra is also called
"Handri" (handri). During 220 AD the word "Andhrapathamu" was used in
the inscriptions in Ballari district. This is the evolutionary
sequence of the word "Andhra". The language spoken by Andhras was
given the name "Andhra Bhasha" finally.
Different tribes used to speak different languages (dialects). The
tribes of Andhra such as Dravida, Yaksha, and Naga spoke "Telugu" or
"Tenugu". Andhras from North India used to speak another language
Telugu belongs to the family of Dravidian languages. Telugu has
resemblances (close) with Tamil, Kannada, and Tulu. Basic vocabulary,
verbs, sentence synthesis, and grammar dictate the architecture of the
language (any language). Even till today, the basic vocabulary in
Telugu language is intact. "amma", "akka", "ceTTu", "puTTa", "niiru",
"pa'mu", "tElu", "ga'li" - these were the words the ancient Telugu man
used while started saying for the first time. "tinu", "koTTu",
"tiTTu", "naDu", "koorcO", "veLLu", "ra'" - these are the most ancient
verbs. These ancient words share resemblances with some words in Tamil
TELUGU TAMIL KANNADA
tala talai tale
nela nila nila'
puli puli puli, huli
Uru Ur Ur
magava'Du magas magan
uppu uppu uppu
pappu parupu papu
paTTi paRRu paDe
ekku ERu ERu
The nominative case (karta), object of a verb (karma) and the verb are
some what in a sequence in Telugu sentence construction. The same
trend (pattern) is seen in other Dravidian languages. Sanskrit does
not follow this rule. "Vibhakti" (case of a noun) and "pratyayamulu"
(an affix to roots and words forming derivs. and inflections) depict
the ancient nature and progression of the language. The "Vibhaktis" of
Telugu language "Du, mu, vu, lu" etc are different from those in
Sanskrit and have been in the usage for a long time. Based on these
above features, linguists unanimously classify Telugu language as a
member of the Dravidian languages.
Satavahana kings' official language was "Prakrut". Prakrut was also
the language used by kings those days - Royal Language. For the first
time Telugu words can be observed in the Ikshavakula inscriptions
after Satavahana's rule. The Nagarjuna Hill inscriptions of 250 AD
contain Telugu words like "na'gamna", "viiramna", and "maha'talavara".
"talavara" is a Telugu word in "maha'talavara". "tala'ri" or
"talavara" means "gra'ma'dhika'ri" (head of the village or town). In
Tamil, "talaiva'r" means "pedda adhipati" (big boss). This Telugu word
was combined with a Sanskrit word "maha'". Telugu language spoken by
people contains some original words and some sanskritized words (as in
inscriptions). People those days used to speak Telugu and rulers spoke
Prakrut. The following is from the inscriptions of Pallava King,
"ka'nciipuratO yuvamaha ra'jO Ba'rada'yasa gotto palava'nam
navaKandavammO dharmaKDe va'ptam a'napayati. andhapatiiyaga'mO.....
viriparam amhEhi Udaka'dim sampadato Etasa ga'mana virivarasa nava
bamhadEya pariha'lO vitarama."
The meaning of the above inscription: The Viripara (Epparru) village
of Andhra is being donated by Sivaskandavarma.
The inscription of Chalkya Jayasimha Vallabha (in Telugu) is the following:
"jayasimhavallaBa maha'ra'ju la'kun pravardhama'na vijayara'jya
samvatsarambuLa - eNumbOdi anmENNa ammin pooNNamana'NNum mla'vinDi
ra'jula muTlu kalimuDira'jul mla'vinDi samudrarakai na'ku baNisEsina
kalci viiRuruRla maddi kadu mooTiki vitaRti Uttarambuna pulOmbuna
CeRuvu paDuma'Ri kOTan eRRumBOdi puTlu aRla paTTu sEnuta'Rii tOmTa
la'yu paDuva'rambu icciri."
The above two inscriptions depict the differences between Telugu and
The ancient inscriptions contain the names of villages ending in a
word "Uru" e.g. "kooDoorE", "ELoorE". The word "Uru" is close to the
word "Ur" in the Southern languages. "Elooru" is the other name for
"ELoorE". "kODooru" in Krishna District is the other name for
"kooDoorE". These village names confirm the relationship of the Telugu
with the Dravidian languages.
Telugu language spoken by the Dravidians, Yakshas, and the Nagas was
influenced by Desi, Sanskrit, and Prakrut. Sanskrit and Prakrut belong
to the same group. Literary language is Sanskrit and spoken one is
Prakrut. There is no difference in basic vocabulary or style of
sentence construction among Sanskrit and Prakrut. The preachers of
Buddhism wrote their books in Prakrut for easy understanding. The
language of Andhra was not Prakrut. While writing Bruhatkadha, Gunadya
said the following:
"samskruta, pra'kruta, dESi Ba'sha lanu parityajimci nEnu paiSaci
Ba'shalO bruhatkadhanu vra'stunna'nu."
Till today, languages called "bra'huyi" in Beloochisthan and "ka'nDu"
"ma'rTu", "Oreya'n" in Vindhya exist. These languages belong to family
of Dravidian languages. Dravidians inhabited North India prior to
Aryan aggression. On the banks of river Sindhu, Aryans created the
Harappa and Mahenjadaro cultures. Eventhough Dravidians came and
settled in South India, their relatives (some tribes) still remained
in the North India. Their languages belong to the family of Dravidian
languages. "Papai" in Afganisthan, "shiina" in Kashmir, and "bra'huyi"
in Beloocisthan share similarities (resemblances) with Dravidian
languages. All these languages are classified in "Dardik Class" of
languages by linguistics experts.
"dESi" of Andhras belongs to this class of languages (Dardik). Before
settlement in South India, Andhras lived in the Vindhya for some time.
Hill tribes of Vindhyas still speak Dravidian languages like "ka'nDu",
"ma'rTu", and "oriya'n". Before arriving at the banks of Ganges and
Jamuna, Andhras might have visited Beloochisthan, Afganisthan, and
Kashmir. This is what historians propose.
Paisachi is an offshoot of Desi. What was the nationality of Gunadya?
Was he a Kashmiri or Nepali or an Andhra? This is a debate among
historians and linguistics experts. Desi was the ancient language of
Kashmiris and Nepalis.
Andhras' Desi Tenugu and Telugu of Nagas and Yakshas combined together
into one language. Both belong to the Dardik class of Dravidian
languages. That is the reason why this alliance between these two
languages was possible.
Linguistics experts showed that languages belonging to the same class
can combine into one and languages belonging to different classes
eventhough can survive in hormony, the strongest language survives and
the weaker one dies. Languages belonging to two different classes can
The history of Telugu language offers a nice example for the above
statement. For about 500-600 years during the Satavahana's rule,
Prakrut was used as the royal language in Andhra. Tadbhavas from
Prakrut infiltrated the Telugu language. But Telugu did not die.
Telugu incorporated the required words from Prakrut and discarded the
rest. Guptas of North India and Pallavas of South India fought battles
in 400-500 AD. These battles killed the royal language, Prakrut.
Finally, Prakrut rested in the Buddhism books in Tibet. Following,
Sanskrit influenced Telugu of Andhras for about 500 years. During
1000-1100 AD, Nannaya's Telugu in Bharatam, Telugu in several
inscriptions, Telugu in poetry reestablished its roots and dominated
over the royal language, Sanskrit. Telugu absorbed the Tatsamas from
Sanskrit only. The marriage between "Desi" and "Telugu" was possible.
Words like "Telugu", "Tenugu", and "Andhramu" were used in several
instances in the "Tenugu Bharatam" written in 1050 AD. The name for a
tribe is "Andhra" which is also used to call the language that had
evolved over 1000 years. "Andhrulu", "Andhradesam", "Teluguvaru",
"Telugudesam", "Tenugudesam", and "Tenugu Bhasha" are used as
ANCIENT HISTORY OF ANDHRAS
By Etukoori Balaraama Moorti in Andhra Samkshipta Charitra
English translation : PALANA (email@example.com)
It is impossible to confirm the origin of a culture and the date of
its origin. Different tribes, classes, and societies gradually
combined over a period of time and a transformed society had evolved.
This is the evolution of a society.
Andhra society is one of the ancient societies of India. One can
encounter several tales about Andhras in epics like Mahabharatam and
Ramayanam, in great puranas, and Budhdhist Jataka Tales. This confirms
the ancient nature of Andhra society.
Andhras and Kalingas (ka'Limgulu) supported the Kauravas during the
battle between Kauravas and Pandavas (the Bharata yudhdham). Sahadeva
defeated the kingdoms of Pandya, Dravida, Odhra, Kerala, Andhra, and
Kalinga while performing the Rajasooya yajna. This is depicted in the
Mahabharatam. Chanoora (ca'NooruDu) was killed by Srikrishna in
Madhura. Harivamsapuranam corroborates the fact that Chanoora was the
king of Karoosa Desa (karooSa dESam) (on the North side of Vindhya and
on the North banks of Yamuna river) and was an Anhdra (Andhrudu) too.
Ramayanam depicts an interesting tale. Viswamitra condemned the
"Naramedha Yagam", freed Sunassepu (SunaSSEpu, the yajna paSuvu), and
adopted him as his son. Viswamitra's children diliked this act by
thier father and were cursed. Then Viswamitra's children migrated
towards east and south. It is understood from this tale that these
children of Viswamitra were Andhras (a'mdhrulu).
A tribe called "Andhras" arrived at the banks of Yamuna river during
the Mahabharata war (1500 BC). This is clearly described in the epic.
Mahabharata war has a prominent place in the ancient history. Several
kings of different tribes fought in this battle. Several thousands of
soldiers lost their lives. Kauravas were destroyed. Innumerable number
of tiny kingdoms mushroomed. Locust infestation destroyed crops on the
banks of Ganges and Yamuna rivers. People inhabiting those regions
migrated 300 miles away to south. Chandogyopanishat
(Ca'mdOgyOpanishad) confirms this. Iatreya (aitarEya bra'hmaNam)
Brahmanam tells us that Andhras lived on the south side of Vindhya
along with Pundrapulinda Sabara Mootibas (punDrapulimda Sabara
mootibulu). Chandogyopanishad and Itareya Brahmanam were written in
Andhras were nomads for several centuries. Some tribes (classes)
migrated and others did not want to do so and remained in their older
settlements. During 700 BC some Andhra tribes inhabited the Salvadesa
(sa'lvadESamu) on the banks of Yamuna River. The tale of
Apastambarushi (a'pastambaRushi) explains this. Apastamba rules
(a'pastamba gruhya sootra'lu) have been widely in practice among
Andhra Brahmin families today. A single Rushi was the teacher
(a'ca'rya) of each tribe. Apastamba was one such teacher. Apastamba
wrote these rules in Salvadesam on the banks of Yamuna river. After
Apastamba's death the Andhra tribes crossed the Vindhya mountains,
reached the South, and merged with the other Andhra tribes.
Some of those Andhras who came to the south settled on the west side
of Vindhya mountains (present Northern regions of Hyderabad). Another
tribe crossed the Eastern Ghats over Orissa and reached the Kalinga
Desam. "Serivanijo" Jataka tale explains that Andhras built the
"ANDHAKAPURAM" on the banks of "Tel" (tEl) river.
Jataka tales were written during 200-250 BC. Tel river is a subriver
of Mahanadi in Orissa. This confirms that one of the Andhra tribes
migrated this way. The people in this tribe are Kalingas (ka'Limgulu).
The books cited above describe the Andhras and Kalingas as two
different branches of a single tribe. Sometimes these two words
(Andhras and Kalingas) are used as synonyms interchangeably.
Andhra tribes established relationships with Naga, Yaksha, and Dravida
tribes of Vindhya mountains who already were living there then.
Telugu, Tamil, and Kannada are Dravidian languages. Rayalaseema was
the first settlement of Tenugu (identify here! TENUGU is used here)
people. Later Telangana was occupied. The name "Tenugu" transformed
into "Telugu". From "Telugu" words like "Telagalu", "Telangana",
"Telanganyulu" (a subsect of Andhra Brahmins), and "Teligiri"
originated. A tribe called "Tailang" (taila'ng) in Burma is proposed
to be related to Telugu people.
Tenugu (tenugu) is the meaning for those who travel towards south. In
Tamil and Kannada "ten" means south side (dakshina dikku).
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