Dravidian folk religion

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The early Dravidian religion constituted a non-Vedic form of Hinduism in that they were either historically or are at present Āgamic. The Agamas are non-vedic in origin [1] and have been dated either as post-vedic texts [2] or as pre-vedic compositions.[3] The Agamas are a collection of Tamil and Sanskrit scriptures chiefly constituting the methods of temple construction and creation of murti, worship means of deities, philosophical doctrines, meditative practices, attainment of sixfold desires and four kinds of yoga.[4] The worship of tutelary deity, sacred flora and fauna in Hinduism is also recognized as a survival of the pre-Vedic Dravidian religion.[5] Dravidian linguistic influence on early Vedic religion is evident, many of these features are already present in the oldest known Indo-Aryan language, the language of the Rigveda (c. 1500 BCE), which also includes over a dozen words borrowed from Dravidian. The linguistic evidence for Dravidian impact grows increasingly strong as we move from the Samhitas down through the later Vedic works and into the classical post-Vedic literature.[6] This represents an early religious and cultural fusion[7][note 1] or synthesis[9] between ancient Dravidians and Indo-Aryans that went on to influence Indian civilization.[10][8][11][12]

Scholars regard Hinduism as a synthesis[7][9][13] of various Indian cultures and traditions,[9][14][7] with diverse roots[15] and no single founder.[16][note 2]

History

File:WLA lacma 12th century Maharishi Agastya.jpg
Sage Agastya, father of Tamil literature.

Ancient Tamil grammatical works Tolkappiyam, the ten anthologies Pattuppāṭṭu, the eight anthologies Eṭṭuttokai sheds light on early ancient Dravidian religion. Seyyon was glorified as, the red god seated on the blue peacock, who is ever young and resplendent, as the favored god of the Tamils.[21] Sivan was also seen as the supreme God.[21] Early iconography of Seyyon[22] and Sivan[23][24][25] and their association with native flora and fauna goes back to Indus Valley Civilization.[26][27] The Sangam landscape was classified into five categories, thinais, based on the mood, the season and the land. Tolkappiyam, mentions that each of these thinai had an associated deity such Seyyon in Kurinji-the hills, Thirumaal in Mullai-the forests, and Kotravai in Marutham-the plains, and Wanji-ko in the Neithal-the coasts and the seas. Other gods mentioned were Mayyon and Vaali who were all assimilated into Hinduism over time. Dravidian influence on early Vedic religion is evident, many of these features are already present in the oldest known Indo-Aryan language, the language of the Rigveda (c. 1500 BCE), which also includes over a dozen words borrowed from Dravidian.[6] The linguistic evidence for Dravidian impact grows increasingly strong as we move from the Samhitas down through the later Vedic works and into the classical post-Vedic literature.[6] This represents an early religious and cultural fusion[7][note 1] or synthesis[9] between ancient Dravidians and Indo-Aryans, which became more evident over time with sacred iconography, traditions, philosophy, flora and fauna that went on to influence and shape Hinduism, Buddhism, Charvaka, Sramana and Jainism[10][8][11][12]

Typical layout of Dravidian architecture which evolved from koyil as kings residence.

Throughout Tamilakam, a king was considered to be divine by nature and possessed religious significance.[28] The king was 'the representative of God on earth’ and lived in a “koyil”, which means the “residence of a god”. The Modern Tamil word for temple is koil (Tamil: கோயில்). Titual worship was also given to kings.[29][30] Modern words for god like “kō” (Tamil: கோ “king”), “iṟai” (இறை “emperor”) and “āṇḍavar” (ஆண்டவன் “conqueror”) now primarily refer to gods. These elements were incorporated later into Hinduism like the legendary marriage of Shiva to Queen Mīnātchi who ruled Madurai or Wanji-ko, a god who later merged into Indra.[31] Tolkappiyar refers to the Three Crowned Kings as the “Three Glorified by Heaven”, (Tamilவாண்புகழ் மூவர், Vāṉpukaḻ Mūvar ?).[32] In the Dravidian-speaking South, the concept of divine kingship led to the assumption of major roles by state and temple.[33]

The cult of the mother goddess is treated as an indication of a society which venerated femininity. This mother goddess was conceived as a virgin, one who has given birth to all and one and was typically associated with Shaktism.[34] The temples of the Sangam days, mainly of Madurai, seem to have had priestesses to the deity, which also appear predominantly a goddess.[35] In the Sangam literature, there is an elaborate description of the rites performed by the Kurava priestess in the shrine Palamutircholai.[36] Among the early Dravidians the practice of erecting memorial stones “Natukal’'had appeared, and it continued for quite a long time after the Sangam age, down to about 16th century.[37] It was customary for people who sought victory in war to worship these hero stones to bless them with victory.[38] Many Hindu sects such as Bhakti movement and Lingayatism originated in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka respectively. Other than literary sources, folk festivals, village deities, shamanism, ritual theater and traditions which are unique to the region also sheds light on ancient beliefs of early Dravidian people.

File:Ayyanar idols near Gobichettipalayam.jpg
Ayyanar, guardian folk deity of Tamil Nadu.

The most popular deity is Murugan, he is known as the patron god of the Tamils and is also called Tamil Kadavul (Tamil God).[39][40] In Tamil tradition, Murugan is the youngest son and Pillayar the oldest son of Sivan, it different from the North Indian tradition, which represents Murugan as the oldest son. The goddess Parvati is often depicted as a goddess with green skin complexion implying her association with nature in Tamil Hindu tradition. The worship of Amman, also called Mariamman, is thought to have been derived from an ancient mother goddess, is also very common.[41] Kan̲n̲agi, the heroine of the Cilappatikār̲am, is worshipped as Pattin̲i by many Tamils, particularly in Sri Lanka.[42] There are also many followers of Ayyavazhi in Tamil Nadu, mainly in the southern districts.[43] In addition, there are many temples and devotees of Vishnu, Siva, Ganapathi, and the other Hindu deities.


In rural Tamil Nadu, many local deities, called aiyyan̲ārs, are believed to be the spirits of local heroes who protect the village from harm.[44] Their worship often centres around nadukkal, stones erected in memory of heroes who died in battle. This form of worship is mentioned frequently in classical literature and appears to be the surviving remnants of an ancient Tamil tradition.[45] The early Dravidian religion constituted a non-Vedic form of Hinduism in that they were either historically or are at present Āgamic. The Agamas are non-vedic in origin [1] and have been dated either as post-Vedic texts [2] or as pre-Vedic compositions.[3] The Agamas are a collection of Tamil and later Sanskrit scriptures, chiefly constituting the methods of temple construction and creation of murti, idols that can have complex ways of representing deities, philosophical doctrines, meditative practices, attainment of sixfold desires and four kinds of yoga.[4] A large portion of these deities continue to be worshipped as the Village deities of Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka, and their subsequent influence in South-east Asia, examples of which include the Mariamman temples in Singapore and Vietnam. Worship of anthills, snakes and other forms of guardian deities and heroes are still worshiped in the Konkan coast, Maharashtra proper and a few other parts of India including North India which traces its origins to ancient Dravidian religion which has been influencing formation of mainstream Hinduism for thousands of years.


A hero stone, known as “Natukal” by Tamils and “Virgal” by Kannadigas, is a memorial commemorating the honorable death of a hero in battle. Erected between the 3rd century BC and the 18th century AD, hero stones are found all over India, most of them in southern India. They often carry inscriptions displaying a variety of adornments, including bas relief panels, frieze, and figures on carved stone.[46] Usually they are in the form of a stone monument and may have an inscription at the bottom with a narrative of the battle. According to the historian Upinder Singh, the largest concentration of such memorial stones are found in the Indian state of Karnataka. About two thousand six hundred and fifty hero stones, the earliest dated to the 5th century have been discovered in Karnataka.[47] The custom of erecting memorial stones dates back to the Iron Age (1000 BCE–600BCE) though a vast majority were erected between the 5th and 13th centuries AD.

Scholars regard Indian religions as a fusion[7][note 1] or synthesis[9][note 3][13] of various Indian cultures and traditions.[9][14][7][note 7] Among its roots are the historical Vedic religion of Iron Age India,[57][14] itself already the product of "a composite of the indo-Aryan and Harappan cultures and civilizations",[58][note 8] but also the Sramana[60] or renouncer traditions[14] of northeast India,[60] and mesolithic[61] and neolithic[62] cultures of India, such as the religions of the Indus Valley Civilisation,[15][8][18][19] Dravidian traditions,[10][8][11][12] and the local traditions[14] and tribal religions.[10][note 9]

Folk dance rituals

  • Yakshagana literally means the song (gana) of the yaksha, (nature spirits).[63] Yakshagana is the scholastic name (used for the last 200 years) for art forms formerly known as kēḷike, āṭa, bayalāṭa, and daśāvatāra (Kannada: ದಶಾವತಾರ).
  • Koothu (Tamil: கூத்து), and alternatively spelt as kuttu, means dance or performance in Tamil, it is a folk art originated from the early Tamil country.[64][65]

See also

Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Lockard: "The encounters that resulted from Aryan migration brought together several very different peoples and cultures, reconfiguring Indian society. Over many centuries a fusion of Aryan and Dravidian occurred, a complex process that historians have labeled the Indo-Aryan synthesis."[7] Lockard: "Hinduism can be seen historically as a synthesis of Aryan beliefs with Harappan and other Dravidian traditions that developed over many centuries."[8]
  2. Among its roots are the Vedic religion[14] of the late Vedic period and its emphasis on the status of Brahmans,[17] but also the religions of the Indus Valley Civilisation,[15][8][18][19] the Sramana[20] or renouncer traditions[14] of north-east India,[20] and "popular or local traditions".[14]
  3. Hiltebeitel: "A period of consolidation, sometimes identified as one of "Hindu synthesis," Brahmanic synthesis," or "orthodox synthesis," takes place between the time of the late Vedic Upanishads (c. 500 BCE) and the period of Gupta imperial ascendency" (c. 320-467 CE)."
  4. Ghurye: He [Hutton] considers modern Hinduism to be the result of an amalgam between pre-Aryan Indian beliefs of Mediterranean inspiration and the religion of the Rigveda. "The Tribal religions present, as it were, surplus material not yet buit into the temple of Hinduism".[49]
  5. Tyler, in India: An Anthropological Perspective(1973), page 68, as quoted by Sjoberg, calls Hinduism a "synthesis" in which the Dravidian elements prevail: "The Hindu synthesis was less the dialectical reduction of orthodoxy and heterodoxy than the resurgence of the ancient, aboriginal Indus civilization. In this process the rude, barbaric Aryan tribes were gradually civilised and eventually merged with the autochthonous Dravidians. Although elements of their domestic cult and ritualism were jealously preserved by Brahman priests, the body of their culture survived only in fragmentary tales and allegories embedded in vast, syncretistic compendia. On the whole, the Aryan contribution to Indian culture is insignificant. The essential pattern of Indian culture was already established in the third millennium B.C., and ... the form of Indian civilization perdured and eventually reasserted itself.[50]
  6. Hopfe & Woodward: "The religion that the Aryans brought with them mingled with the religion of the native people, and the culture that developed between them became classical Hinduism."[55]
  7. See also:
  8. See:
    • David Gordo White: "[T]he religion of the Vedas was already a composite of the indo-Aryan and Harappan cultures and civilizations."[58]
    • Richard Gombrich: "It is important to bear in mind that the Indo-Aryans did not enter an unhabitated land. For nearly two millennia they and their culture gradually penetrated India, moving east and south from their original seat in the Punjab. They mixed with people who spoke Munda or Dravidian languages, who have left no traces of their culture beyond some archaeological remains; we know as little about them as we would about the Indo-Aryans if they had left no texts. In fact we cannot even be sure whether some of the aerchaeological finds belong to Indo-Aryans, autochthonous populations, or a mixture.
      It is to be assumed - though this is not fashionable in Indian historiography - that the clash of cultures between Indo-Aryans and autochtones was responsible for many of the changes in Indo-Aryan society. We can also assume that many - perhaps most - of the indigenous population came to be assimilated into Indo-Aryan culture.[59]
  9. Tiwari mentions the Austric and Mongoloid people.[10] See also Adivasi people for the variety of Indian people.

References

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  2. 2.0 2.1 Tripath, S.M. (2001). Psycho-Religious Studies Of Man, Mind And Nature. Global Vision Publishing House. ISBN 9788187746041. [1]
  3. 3.0 3.1 Nagalingam, Pathmarajah (2009). The Religion of the Agamas. Siddhanta Publications. [2]
  4. 4.0 4.1 Grimes, John A. (1996). A Concise Dictionary of Indian Philosophy: Sanskrit Terms Defined in English. State University of New York Press. ISBN 9780791430682. LCCN 96012383. [3]
  5. The Modern review: Volume 28; Volume 28. Prabasi Press Private, Ltd. 1920. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Krishnamurti (2003), p. 6.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 7.7 Lockard 2007, p. 50.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 Lockard 2007, p. 52.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 Hiltebeitel 2007, p. 12.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 Tiwari 2002, p. v.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 Zimmer 1951, p. 218-219.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Larson 1995, p. 81.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Samuel 2010, p. 193.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 14.5 14.6 14.7 14.8 Flood 1996, p. 16.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Narayanan 2009, p. 11.
  16. Osborne 2005, p. 9.
  17. Samuel 2010, p. 48-53.
  18. 18.0 18.1 Hiltebeitel 2007, p. 3.
  19. 19.0 19.1 Jones 2006, p. xviii.
  20. 20.0 20.1 Gomez 2013, p. 42.
  21. 21.0 21.1 Kanchan Sinha, Kartikeya in Indian art and literature, Delhi: Sundeep Prakashan (1979).
  22. Mahadevan, Iravatham (2006). A Note on the Muruku Sign of the Indus Script in light of the Mayiladuthurai Stone Axe Discovery. harappa.com. 
  23. Ranbir Vohra (2000). The Making of India: A Historical Survey. M.E. Sharpe. p. 15. 
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  25. Steven Rosen, Graham M. Schweig (2006). Essential Hinduism. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 45. 
  26. Basham 1967
  27. Frederick J. Simoons (1998). Plants of life, plants of death. p. 363. 
  28. Harman, William P. (1992). The sacred marriage of a Hindu goddess. Motilal Banarsidass Publ. p. 6. 
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  30. Chopra, Pran Nath (1979). History of South India. S. Chand. 
  31. Bate, Bernard (2009). Tamil oratory and the Dravidian aesthetic: democratic practice in south India. Columbia University Press. 
  32. A. Kiruṭṭin̲an̲ (2000). Tamil culture: religion, culture, and literature. Bharatiya Kala Prakashan. p. 17. 
  33. Embree, Ainslie Thomas (1988). Encyclopedia of Asian history: Volume 1. Scribner. ISBN 9780684188980. 
  34. Thiruchandran, Selvy (1997). Ideology, caste, class, and gender. Vikas Pub. House. 
  35. Manickam, Valliappa Subramaniam (1968). A glimpse of Tamilology. Academy of Tamil Scholars of Tamil Nadu. p. 75. 
  36. Lal, Mohan (2006). The Encyclopaedia Of Indian Literature (Volume Five (Sasay To Zorgot), Volume 5. Sahitya Akademi. p. 4396. ISBN 8126012218. 
  37. Shashi, S. S. (1996). Encyclopaedia Indica: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh: Volume 100. Anmol Publications. 
  38. Subramanium, N. (1980). Śaṅgam polity: the administration and social life of the Śaṅgam Tamils. Ennes Publications. 
  39. M. Shanmugam Pillai, "Murukan in Cankam Literature: Veriyattu Tribal Worship", First International Conference Seminar on Skanda-Murukan in Chennai, 28–30 December 1998. This article first appeared in the September 1999 issue of The Journal of the Institute of Asian Studies, retrieved 6 December 2006 
  40. Harold G. Coward,John R. Hinnells,Raymond Brady Williams, The South Asian Religious Diaspora in Britain, Canada, and the United States
  41. "Principles and Practice of Hindu Religion", Hindu Heritage Study Program, archived from the original on 14 November 2006, retrieved 5 December 2006 
  42. PK Balachandran, "Tracing the Sri Lanka-Kerala link", Hindustan Times, 23 March 2006, archived from the original on 10 December 2006, retrieved 5 December 2006 
  43. Dr. R.Ponnus, Sri Vaikunda Swamigal and the Struggle for Social Equality in South India, (Madurai Kamaraj University) Ram Publishers, Page 98
  44. Mark Jarzombek, "Horse Shrines in Tamil India: Reflections on Modernity" (PDF), Future Anterior, 4 (1): 18–36, doi:10.1353/fta.0.0031 
  45. "'Hero stone' unearthed", The Hindu, 22 July 2006, Chennai, India, 22 July 2006, retrieved 5 December 2006 
  46. "Hero-stone Memorials of India". Kamat Potpourri. Retrieved 2007-03-15. 
  47. Chapter “Memorializing death in stone”, Singh (2009), p48
  48. Ghurye 1980, p. 3-4.
  49. Ghurye 1980, p. 4.
  50. 50.0 50.1 Sjoberg 1990, p. 43.
  51. Sjoberg 1990.
  52. Nath 2001.
  53. Werner 2005, p. 8-9.
  54. Hiltebeitel 2007.
  55. 55.0 55.1 Hopfe 2008, p. 79.
  56. Samuel 2010.
  57. Samuel 2010, p. 41-42.
  58. 58.0 58.1 White 2006, p. 28.
  59. Gombrich 1996, p. 35-36.
  60. 60.0 60.1 Gomez 2002, p. 42.
  61. Doniger 2010, p. 66.
  62. Jones 2006, p. xvii.
  63. "yaksha". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 2007-09-06. 
  64. Dance forms of Tamilnadu
  65. Tamilnadu.com