‘Indus script early form of Dravidian’

Iravatham Mahadevan proves the point with the help of ideograms

November 15, 2014 02:11 am | Updated 02:11 am IST - CHENNAI

Iravatham Mahadevan

Iravatham Mahadevan

Iravatham Mahadevan, a well-known expert in Indian epigraphy, especially the Indus and Tamil Brahmi scripts, on Friday unveiled what he termed as his long years of studies on the Indus Valley script, demonstrably showing that the language of that once great civilisation “was an early form of the Dravidian.”

Making a presentation of his latest paper, “Dravidian Proof of the Indus Script via The Rig Veda: A Case Study” at the Roja Muthiah Research Library here, he explained with the help of ‘ideograms- a picture or a symbol that represents an idea or a concept-,’ that the “Indus language has been correctly identified” as an early form of the Dravidian script.

He said the methodology followed “is to identify the ideograms, find the Dravidian roots with the nearest literal meanings and interpret them through the rebus technique to get at the intended meanings.” (A ‘rebus’ is an allusional device that uses pictures to represent words or parts of words.)

This technique has helped in arriving at this conclusion, he said.

Explaining the frequent phrase of four signs (ABCD), as in the above picture, Mr. Mahadevan, who was earlier this year awarded the prestigious ‘Campbell Medal -2014’ by the Mumbai Asiatic Society, formerly Royal Asiatic Society, said that in short, the signs stood for ‘Merchant of the City’.

Referring to two divergent streams arising from the Indus Valley civilisation, he said, ‘’the Earliest Old Tamil, which has retained the Dravidian roots of the Indus phrase still, is firmly interlinked, but with modified meanings.”

String of names The results reveal “a string of names and titles associated with the Pantian dynasty’’ whose remote ancestors were probably traders in the Indus civilisation, he said.

After the collapse of the Indus civilisation, he said in his paper that a section of the Indus Valley population had migrated to south India and the “the Indus Dravidian influenced the South Dravidian languages”. The earliest traces of such migratory influence are found in the ‘Old Tamil’.

The other stream that the epigraphist spoke of is the “Earliest Indo-Aryan (Rig Veda), which has inherited the Indus phrase through loan translations”. ‘Pusan,’ an early Vedic God, for instance, is identified as a deity of the trading community (Vaisya). The origin of the myths associated with ‘Pusan’ becomes clear “when their source is traced to the Indus phrase,” Mr. Mahadevan contended.

The results also show that “the descendants of the Indus civilisation adopted the Indo-Aryan speech and that there was a long gap of time between the Indus civilisation and the early Vedic culture,” said Mr. Mahadevan. The ‘Vedic Age’ succeeded the Indus civilisation and the Rig Veda “itself is a product of the composite culture”, said the scholar, who began studying the Indus script way back in 1968.

Mr. Mahadevan further explained that the results of the discovery, using the above technique, “are summarised in a Grid of correspondences’, adding, “the Grid constitutes the proof of the discovery”.

“I have not claimed to have deciphered the Indus script. But the present paper appears to me the most productive I have so far written”, he claimed in his written paper, adding that from the “level of mere evidence”, it has now “attained the level of proof.”

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