Dravidians and Africans-4
The Dravidian and SudanoSahelian Civilisations
CHEIKH TIDIANE N DIAVE
In the year 1933, Et Tuttle published in the “Journal of the American Oriental Society” an artical entitled “Dravidian and Nubin”.1 This Article, is a brief census of facts rather than a detailed study. Nevertheless, it is worthy of mention, because it is really the first attempt to connect Dravidian with an African language. Since 1945, L. Homburger recognised a number of morphemes which are to be met within Several African (Saharan) idioms. Since then, the idea of kinship between the Dravidian Languages and certain Negro - African languages had become dear to her heart. That is why she began to study in succession the Senegalese-Guinean (or Sudano..Sahelian) languages, Mande (another Sudano - Sahelian family of languages), Bantu (an East African family of languages) comparing them with the Dravidian languages. This is what led her to publish, in 1950, and 1951, in the “Journal de la societe des Africanistes”, Paris, the following two articles in turn: “Dravidian elements in Peul” and “Telegu and the Mande dialects”. The point worth noting is that Miss L. Homburger was sure that “the Dravidian languages make it possible to explain the morphology of the Senegalese group-particularly Serer and Peul” (two Sudano ‘Sahelian languages) had aire. ady tried to show relationships between Dravidian and some African languages two great German ethnologists, H. Baumann and
D. Westermann, pointedout “ethnological” relations between South India (the country of most of the Dravidian people) and Black Africa. Therefore, the comparison between the Dravidian and SudanoSahelian civilisations is not arbitray. Better still, the application of the
(1.Nubion is an East African Language. Most of the people who speak it are very similar to the Dravidian type.)
general principles of the comparative method in historical linguistics and ethnology proves that Dravidians and some Sudano-Sahalian ethnic groups speak languages which are genetically related and belong to the same “Knlturkreis” or” “culture circle”.
The lexical resemblance, between Dravidian languages and Wolof is not at all a matter of chance, because of three fundamental arguments which are the following
1. Firstly, it is unlikely that chance is the explanation for these remarkable phonemic semantic resemblances concerning the various and basic lexical categories such as kinship terms, the vocabulary concerning the civil status, the personal pronouns, parts of the body, the biologioal needs, dressing and’habitation, vocabulary denoting rest, names of instruments(for household, agriculture-fishing, hunting and music), the vocabulary concerning alimentation, the kitchen and the commercial exchanges, the vocabulary concerning the activities of the hands, the legs, the head, the nose, the mouth, the sexual organs and the whole body, the vocabulary concerning the moral, politico-social and intellectual activities, the vocabulary denoting states of beings and things, the mythico-magic vocabulary, the vocabulary denoting time, the vocabulary concerning animals, (domesticated and undomesticated) sounds and noises colours, metals, liquid, the earth, the sky and death.
2. Secondly, from the “two principles of the arbitrariness of the sound-meaning cOnnection and the independence of meaningful forms” (of J. H. Grrenberg, “Essays in Linguistcs”), it follows that chance can not explain, for example, ~The fact thati three lexemes for ‘male organ’ and two lexemes for ‘belly’ in Dravidjan are almost the same as their correspondents in Wolof.
3. Thirdly, there are regular rules of’ correspondence between Dravidian and Wolof phonemes which clearly prove that the resemblance between Dravidian and Wolof lexemes is not accidental.
The grammatical resemblance between Drayidjan and Wolof cannot be accidental and is the least subject to borrowing. The reaSons can be summarised as follows:
1. Concerning nominals, Dravidians and Wolof have six same suffixes denoting names of states or qualities, actions and instruments, two similar suffixes for the expression of plurality and the collective motion, two same personal pronouns referring to the first persons singular and plural, two similar personal pronouns referring to the second persons singular and plural, four similar numerals denoting the numbers ‘one’, ‘two’, ‘four’ and ‘ten~, two same locative clitics, four same ‘epideictic’ or demonstrative vowels denoting proximity. remoteness and the intermediate position.
2. As regards verbals, they have the same morphemes denoting the three main moods, i,e. the infinitive, the imperative and the subjuntive-conditional, almost the same morphemes denoting the three main tenses, ie. the past, the present and the future, almost the same morphemes denoting the negative (verbal and adjectival), the ‘expectative’ and the potential modalities.
For ethnology, H. Baumann and Westermann said that ‘the NeoSudaneseculture circle spreads from Senegal to Abissinia(or Ethiopia) over the paleonigritic culture circle. The people who belong to it are the Wolof, the northern Mandeng, the Mossi, the Haussa, the preislamic Bagirmi, the Ashanti, the Yoruba and the Peul. The main cultural elements would be: the working of gold mines, the metalurgy of brass and bronze—, the making of glass, the cotton weaving---, long dresses, the organisation of the state having officers, the deification of the supreme ruler, etc. The origins of this culture circle are part ticularly complex. The prominent feature is its links with the great states which are found on the same latitude throughout Sudan; beside that, there are visible relationships between this group of elements and the ancient eastern civilisations of Arabia, Syria, Mesopotamia and mainly Inda (of ~les Peuples et las Civilisatjons de I’ Afrique’, Paris, 1948).
In conclusion, as J. H. Greenburg says, ‘the presence of fundamental vocabulary resemblances and resemblances in items with grammatical function, particularly if recurrent through a number of languages, is a sure indication of genetic relationship.’ In addition to that, if the speakers of genetically related languages belong to the same culture circle, we have a good example where ethnology comes in support to historical linguistics. There are the facts that lead us to say that Dravidians and some Sudano-Sahelian peeple were originally related. To explain this relationship, three hypotheses can be given:
Proto-Indo-African (?spoken inEast Africa or
Proto Dravidian South Africa)
I I I I I
NDr CDr SDr some Sudana Sahelian
(North (Central (South Wolóf, Pular, Serer, etc.,
Dravidian) Dravidian) Dravidian)
Proto-Libyan (spoken in West Africa)
Proto Tekrurian Proto Dravidian
I I I
Senegalese languages NDr CDr SDr
(Wolof, Pular. Serer, etc.,)
Proto-Dravidian (spoken in India)
NDr CDr SDr
Sudano-Sahelian Sudano-Sahelian Sudano-Sahelian
I I I
x y z
(Pre-Serer-Pular) (Pre — Wolof) A
II At~ A
I I I
For the first hypothesis, there is neither linguistic nor historical evidences in support to it.
Regarding the second hypothesis, one may also be tempted to hold it because. J,T. Cornelius published, in 1955, an article entitled ‘Linguistic evidence for the Lybian origin of the Dravidians’ (Cf,Proceedings and Transactions of the All India Oriental Conference, XVIII Session, Annamalainagar). This article, inspite of its title, does not give any linguistic evidence.
The archaeological evidence and some linguistic arguments show that the third hypothesis is the best, that is to say, SudanoSahelian languages such as Wolof, Pular, Serer, etc., are brought in West Africa by black people and brownish people like the two Dravidian types. In other words, Wolof, Pular, Serer etc., should be classified as ‘Dravidoid’ languages, that is to say ‘languages derived from dravidian’ just like the Romance languages are derived from Latin. Their differences with Dravidian can be explained by the influence of some African languages with which they have been in contact from East to West. There is a historical evidence that the inhabitants of Maurilania in the first Century B.C. came from India (Of. Strabo, L. XVII). There are also some traditions, among Wolof people, which consider Mauritania as one of the ancient homes of the ancestors. Better still, the last Thierno Amath Mbengue, said that the Lebu family Mbengue (/mbeng/) came from Bengal (North East of India) and that their name is derived from this word.
The Languages of Africans and Dravidians
A BIRD’S EYE VIEW*
S. R SANTHARAM,
A language can adopt and create as many words as it pleases without changing
its character, but it cannot alter its grammar, its syntax, without becoming
another, for grammar represents the innate made of thought over which the
Individual person or nation has no real control
By Gustove Appert.
- This assumption applies to each and every language in the world. No doubt, the African and Dravidian languages are also governed by this assumption. Before going to know about these languages, we must have some ideas about Africans and Dravidians.
Who are the Dravidians? Who are the Africans? Whether they belong to the same family? or they are closely related to each other ? etc. Solutions are yet to be found out.
Who are the Dravidians? Even today research Works are going on to get the
solution for this problem. Till we get the correct Solution, we may probably
define, that the Dravidians are those who speak Dravidian languages.
[Notes: I am indebted to 1Dr. S. Agasthiyalizngom based on whose Writing this article has been produced.]
Dravidian languages: A family of languages spoken by more than 1,10,000,000 people, primarily in Southern India. There are seven major Dravidian languages spoken in India: Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Gondi, Kurukh, and Tulu; minor Dravidian languages are Kota, Toda, Budaga, Irula, Kolamj, Naiki, Puriji, Konda, Gadho, Pemzo, Manda, Kui, Kuvi, Matta and Kodaga, all spoken in India.
Among these languages Tamil is the oldest of the Dravidjan language. Basham
states-Tamil has undergone change as follows.
African peoples vary in racial origin and stand at many different cultural levels. From the ethnic point of view there is both a white and a black Africa, but the first important human occupation appears to have been by Negroes or Negroid people, several types of whom, probably entered the Continent from Arabia and spread over the land south of the Sahara Desert. They probably inhabited the Sahara also, for in the glacial period it was well watered and fertile. Northern Africa, however was penetrated by the invasion from Europe or Western Asia of Caucasian (white) people at a later date. These Caucasian peoples are broadly classed as Bamitic and include an important type referred to as Berber, as well as the Tuareg. Semitic people at a later date penetrated Africa. They are the Arabs, who established themselves in Northern and East Africa. The Phoenicians who founded Carthage were Semites. Madagascar shows a remarkable intrusion of Malayo Polynesian people, Who crossed the Indian Ocean, perhaps by way of island stepping-stones; probably more than two thousand years ago and settled on the island, which may or may not have had an earlier Negro population. It may be noted that neither Greek nor Roman left any permanent ethnic mark upon Africa.
The modern period has seen the settlement of large numbers of Europeans.
Languages indigenous to the African continent that belong to the Hamito-Semitic, Niger-Congo, (or Niger-Kordopfanian) Chari-nil (or Nilo-Saharan) and Khoisan language families. The number of African languages has been estimated at between 800 and 1000. In Northern Africa, languages of the Hamitic Semitic family are spoken. Arabic is most widespread of these. Important sub-Saharan languages included are Swahili, Fulani, Yoruba and Zulu of the Niger-Congo group. Nulian of the Chari-Nile group, and Bushman and Hottentot of the Khoisan family.
Besides language similarities, physical and cultural similarities appear between these two continents. Frobenjusa German ethnologist identified some cultural similarities between Africa and Ancient India. Baumann, Westermaun and CheikAnta Diop have also stated the same opinion.
In Tamilnadu, the suppressed people are called “aati Draavidaa” (Old Dravidians). The size of head, forehead, nose, ear and the colour of body, hair and eyes are common between these “aati-Dravidida~i” and African. The main two differences are Africans have curling black hair and slightly thick lips, but “aati-Dravidaas” do not have them.
Cultural similarities appear between these countries. The legend of Lord Kannan, killing Kamsaa is reflected in African legend. “Soni Ali Ber”. in which “Burgo” appears as the hero in the place of Krishnaa. [. Dr K P. A. clearly compares these legends in his book~ Senthamtil, Sene~al, Senghor P. 18.]We can expand the above similarities and other similarities further more. But confining to our topic on languages, we can deal with particular reference to languages.
Niger Congo Languages:
Niger-Congo group is the largest among the African language families.
“Bantu” which were once treated as a separate group are also now included in
this group. Though there ate about thirty divisions Geenberg classifies them
nto 6 major divisions. They are as follows :
I. Western Atlantic languages,
2. Mamde languages.
3. Gur languages.
4. Kwa languages.
5. Adamawa-Eastern languages.
West Atlantic Languages:
These are classified as Northern and Southern languages. The most important among these is ~Fulani, Wolof and Temme come next to it. More than,56,00000 people speak Fulani. In Fulani there is no distinction of gender in nouns. To indicate sex the suffix male or female is added to the nouns. For example in Tamil the sex of a horse is indicated by suffixing male or female before the nouns.
In Fulani the sex of human beings are indicated as follows.
biddo debbo (girl)
biddo gorko (boy)
In Tamil the verb endings do not recognise gender of the non-human category.
To denote the female or male horse the pronoun “That” is used. But the
classification human and neuter category is also found in Fulani. The changes
which a noun may undergo to show the plural primarily depend on to which of the
two comprehensive classes the noun belongs, to the personal, or human class, or
to the non-personal, or non-human and thing, class. This division is extremely
important for it is the fundamental principle at the genious of the language.
Neuter gender has got three different persons. They occur only in plural form.
In Tamil Tholkappiar has also included first person within the scope of human
category. Indicative pronouns that indicate human category and neuter gender
are always of different kinds. In this language by suffixing endings to a verb
we can obtain so many verbs
In this language by suffixing endings to a verb we can obtain so many verbs
o Janaki - he read 0 Janahithi - be read very well
o fiyi - he beat 0 fifini - he beat badly.
This characteristic phenomena, seen in Tamil language is also found in the
“Bantu” languages. As in Tarnil, active voice becomes passive voice, by the
mere modification of the verb.
Wolof: Wolof language is notable language, among the languages that are existing in Senagal Democratic Nation. Just like in Tamil we can see the doubling of the consonants.
i, ii; k, kk; m, mm; n, nn;
Since there are no verbs to indicate gender in this language, a separate word is used to indicate gender. As far as the numerals are concerned, there are only two i.e. singular and plural. The units that indicate the numbers also occur by the side articles and indicate numerals.
fas w-i - the horse
fas y-i - the horses
a-w fas - a horse
a-y fas - some horse
In interrogative forms too we can find the difference between singular and plural.
w-an fas which horse.
y-an fas which horses.
In several aspects this language resembles Tamil language. It also has its
own specialities. The articles which are not seen in Tamil are found in this
language. This is a major difference between these languages.
Ki, Ka, Gi, Ga - are the units that stand for the artic1e~
In the same way as, ag, a, aw, ab and so on serve as Common indications.
Mande Languages: These languages are spoken by more than 70 lakhs of people. This group is often called “Mali” or “Mantonga” group. Though in these groups there are about 22 languages, Malinda-Bambara, Soninde, Mande, Susu-Dyal onke, Vai, Loma, Kpela are considered as important.
North West - Languages: Mande: In this language there is no discrimination of genders. But a difference is seen between human category nouns and neuter gender nouns.
Nouns of Mande have got the two numerals both singular and plural. Common
nouns by addition of suffix “nga” and proper nouns by the addition of suffix
“sia” indicate plural numerals.
Apart from this there is third numeral. This plural form is made up of the indefinite plural + i + - - + - - Sia. This form is much rarer than the other two and is normally found only with a few words referring to human beings and domestic animals.
Just like in Tamil, in Mande language there are indications to point out nearer and farther. But it does not have separate words for adjectives.
The verbs of Mande languages, show tense, negative and so on. Past tense,
present tense, future tenses are shown by the verbs. When tenses change the
noun also undergoes a change. (When it occurs in three persons.)
Interrogative verbs occur in second person both in plural and in singular which is similar to Tamil
In Tamil we can say to a person or to many persons “Let us go”. But in this language we cannot say like this. If we address one person means, we have to say “Muli”, if many persons means we have to say “amuli”. (Let us go)
Kwa Languages :- Yoruba: This language is familiar in Nigeria. The nouns of this languages have got two genders and two numerals. Separate words show separate genders as in
cya - mother
Sometimes by the addition of suffixes they show different gender.
aburo - ikonrin brother
aburo - ilnrin sister
Nouns have no cases in Yoruba. The cases are supplied by the use of prepositions. This is the main difference between this language and Tamil language.
III case si, ba (Preposition)
IV case : - si, fun
Si odo to river
fun mi to me
V case :- (ti)
ti ile from the house
VII case :- (ni)
ni ile in the house
Bantu Languages :- This group contains more than five hundred languages. These languages have simple voice system. A, E, U, these three vowels are the basic. Though there are plenty of prefixes and suffixes no prepositions are to be seen. The cases as found in Tamil are not found in these languages. There is no distinction of masculine and feminine, it is not merely that nouns have no femine terminations, but there are not even separate pronouns corresponding to ‘be’ and ‘she’. There is however a set of distinctions quite strange to us, nouns being devided into a number of classes. (Usually eight or nine) distinguished by their prefixes.
A unique concord is seen, which is not to be found in any other language. All the words in a sentence are affixed with the noun having the function of subject which replaces the prefix. This reappearance of the prefix before every word in agreement with the noun is called the Alliterative concord, which is not found in Tamil.
a-na, a~nga, a-ngona, a-ia, a-tayika.
Those, my little children were missing
This “Nyanja” sentence shows this Alliterative concord,
The repetitive morpheme (irattaikilavikal) which are less frequent in Tamil
are found in Bantu in abundance,
A lot of verbal variations are found in Bantu. The ideas expressed by Tamil in many words are brought out by less number of suffixes.
Bantu Tamil English
Mona Kalaku Shake
Monesa Palamaaka Kalaku Shake violently
Luganda or Ganda :- The main difference between Tamil and Luganda is the absence of differentiation of gender in the latter.
Comparatively simpler verbs show the past, future and present tenses. Within
the past tense there are three divisions viz., without any time limit and just
within last 12 hours and past continuous.
nn - a - lake - saw
nn - a - labye - saw (just within 12 hours)
n - o - dabye - had seen
In future tense there are separate words for denoting happenings, which are to happen within 24 hours and after 24 hours, which are novel to Tamil.
nnaa - laba - will see (within 24 hours)
n-di-raba - will see
In imperative verbs take three forms.
I. To be done at once,
2. To be done continuously
3. To be done in the prescribed hour.
Soma - Read at once
o soma - Read quickly
Somanga - Read continuously
Muba musoma - Read in the evenings
These are not found in Tamil
Swahili :- It is an important language in North-Eastern region. In Tamil
diminutives are denoted by small adjectives. The same pattern is well followed
in Swahili. In this language the nouns that occur in all the three persons as
they occur in Tamil. Third person singular and plural show neither category nor
gender. This also happens in Malayaalam
we we you
ye ye He/She/it
si si We
ninyi You (Plural)
Adjectives come after the nouns, as in other ‘Bantu’ languages. There is a concord between adjectives and noun -the prefixes of the adjectives undergo change, with reference to the prefixes to the nouns.
There are articles to point out nearness and distance. The root -‘le’ points out nearness. But with reference to the noun that occurs, this root takes various prefixes and becomes an indicative:
ki - suki - le sword (near by)
wa - tura - le Those people
vy - amba - vile Those trees.
In second person interrogative verbs indicate singular, plural -and negative, which is also the case with Tamil.
big-a beat (Singular)
big-eni beat (Plural)
Nyanja :- As in ancient Tamil, in Nyanja there are three classes or
demonstratives which point out different degrees of distance or reference like
adjectives. Similar to Tamil the nouns of all the three persons will occur. In
first person plural, there is no inclusive numbers. In the third person
singular, there are not divisionsuch feminine gender, masculine gender; human
category, non human category and so on.
ine - I
iwe - You
lye - He/She/It
ife - We
ma - You (PluraJ)
iwo - They/those
In the commanding verbs of Tamil, they do not point out whether the command should be obeyed immediately or to be done later. But the commanding verbs in the language point out urgency and so on,
tatenga - take immediately
Zulu :- Gender is not a grammatical feature in Zulu. That is to say, the fact that any particular noun may indicate the masculine, feminine, common or neuter idea does not in any way influence a Zulu sentences grammatically, the form of the prefix of the noun ruling the concordial structure.
In Zulu there are three positional types of demonstrative pronoun. The first demonstrative signifies “this” “these” indicating proximity to the speaker. The second demonstrative signifies ‘that’ ‘those’ indicating relative distance from the speaker. The third demonstrative signifies ‘Yonder’, that ‘yonder’ indicating distance from the speaker and the one spoken to, but also indicating that the object is within sight and may be pointed to.
Apart from these features, there are some specialities too. The grammatical feature that are revealed, by the use of three or more words in English and in Tamil, is revealed by the use of verb in this language.
Doubling of the verb is commonly seen in Tamil, when a particular action is to be emphasised.
“ati ati yena atittaan” (beaten violently)
The intensive form in Zulu indicating intensity or quickness of action, is expressed by suffixing - isisa in the place of final vowel of the stem. The dimunitive form of the verb, formed by a reduplication of the stem, indicates a dimunition of the action to do a little.
The reciprocal form of the verb denotes that the action is reciprocated, and is similar to the form expressed in English adjectively by one another. In Zulu the derivative is formed by suffixing -ana in place of the final vowel of the verb form.
Khoisan Languages :- The word Khoisan can be written as Khoy-sa-n and its meaning is as follows.
Sa in search of food
is an affix to indicate plural.
Hence Khoisan means “food searching people”. Further the sound of “click” is often heard where these languages are used, people called these languages as “click languages”.
Though so many people have conducted researches, C.R. Lepsius, classified these languages in his “Standard Alphabet” as two main divisions. He not only classified these languages as
but also called them Hemittic languages.
Hottentot: The adjectives precede nouns, likewise in Tamil also it happens to. The adjectives do not undergo any change regarding the noun. But the possessive nouns differ from Tamil to certain extent. One speciality which is not to be seen in Tamil is the indicative of gender, both in the first person and second person. The possessive nouns that occur in all the three persons, they accept divisions of gender and numerals as in Tamil, Verbs are so simple. To indicate tense there are different prefixes. Unlike in English and in Tamil, the tense shown in this language are not limited to completed actions, continuing actions, alone, but even in completed actions, the exact time of the completion of the action is revealed by the use of various prefixes.
A structural feature of this (Korana) language is the use of double verb or a series of more than two verbs. The function of one of the verbs-the subsidiary one is to modify the action of the other verb-the principal one with reference to circumstances of time, place, manner, or any other circumstances which may effect the verbal action. In other words, the subsidiary verb is in an adverbial function of the principal verb, In Tamil also this type of feature can be seen.
Bushman Languages: These languages are classified into three groups. Called Northern, Central, and Southern languages, there are the divisions of singular and plural.
In certain languages plurality is revealed by the use of different verbs and in some languages, by the doubling of the singular verbs, which is in tune with Tamil.
mum - stone.
mum-si - stones.
The possessive pronouns, occur, before nouns in northern and southern
languages in accordance with Tamil, but in the central languages they occur
after the noun. In certain languages separate syllables are used to indicate possessiveness.
mha - my father
mtail - my mother
Certain languages know, no distinction of tense, mood or voice.
Saharan Languages - Kanuri: In many of the languages existing now, even though the nouns occur by the side of adjectives only nouns accept ‘case’ prepositions. In Tamil also this is the case. But in Kanuri language the nouns do not accept case prepositions but adjectives accept case prepositions.
In this language the commanding verbs, occur both in second person plural and singular which is in concordance with Tamil
But a speciality is that this language shows commanding nature even in first person plural.
Eastern Sudanic Languages: These languages are spoken by more than nine lakhs of people who live in the southern part of Sudan.
In alignment with Tamil, ‘Dinka’ also has the division of singular and plural. By the modification of the vowels, by the modification of ending and by the tuse of various words plural is shown,
yic - ear
Lwo Languages: Shilluk: The distinction between singular and plural is noted
like in Tamil. This distinction is produced by:
affixes, and by the modification of verbs. There is no distinction of genders in this language. Adjective often follows nouns. Though most of adjectives show the distinction between singular and plural without undergoing any change some undergo change with reference to the noun which show the distinction of singular and plural.
Won duong Big house
Woti dono Big houses.
Verbs of Shilluk languages are so simple. They show tense and voice. As in Tamil, past tense, present tense and future tense are seen, though there are some minor differences.
Eastern Nilotic Languages: Masai: The nouns of all the three persons can be divided as a first person singular and plural, second person singular and plural and third person singular and plural, which is similar to Tamil. Among them, the third person nouns do not show any distinction between masculine gender and feminine gender.
Central Sudanic Languages Cendu :-~ The adjectives occur preceeding the noun
and they are unaffected. We can see the same
phenomena in Tarnil also. During formative years of Tamil language there are three demonstratives. These demonstratives do not serve as nouns, but they serve as adjectives. Verbs show subject and passive voice. Verbs of Sudanic language do not show tense as Tamil or English.
We met with various stages in African languages, viz- which possess
singular, plural; singular, dual, plural; singular, plural and great quantity
and singular, plural and small quantity.
For Example:- Singular, plural and great quantity are denoted n the “Chwana” language or “Bantu” as follows
Cbwana Tamil English
n kn aatu lamb
ii - nku aatukaL lambs
ma - nku pala aatukal many lamps
The classification of singular and plural are not to be seen in some of the
African languages. But the material is considered as a compound entity and a
single unit is deemed a constituent part of it. In certain language the
suffixes indicating plurality have a meaning of their own.
Ewe Tamil English
wo avarkaL They
ati maram Tree
ati wo marang~kaL Trees
Gender: In Hottentot languages besides the masculine and feminine genders
common gender is also seen. Some of the languages indicate gender in plural
condition also while others abandon it.
In some languages, the suffixes denoting the gender have the meaning of male, female, mother, father, men and women etc.
Kanda Tamil English
Se - gwanga ceval cock
na - gwanga petal hen
Verbs: In some languages verbs do not undergo any transformation, while others like Tamil, exhibit grammatical structureslike tense and numerals. Thematic variations effected by various words in Tamil are effected by a single suffix in Wolof.
Wolof Tamil Engilsh
Jeka un eat
lakati ciritu un eat a little
In Tamil there are words which have no meaning of their own which accentuate the characteristics of verbs. Similar phenomena are seen in African languages.
Zo ka ka walk up right
Zo dze dze An assayed and energetic gait.
In Zande language such words are found. But in “Bongo” language a triplet occurs.
Lan mokonya wakka wakka wakka. (The cloth is very black)
Conclusion: So far we have seen the similarities between the languages of
the two groups of people. Further cultural, anthropological and linguistic
studies will throw light on the affinities during the early times.
1, Dr. Agasthiyalingam Aafrica Mozhikal (Tamil)
Paari Nilayam, Madrasi.
2, Dr. Agasthiyalingam Dravida Mozhikal (Tamil)
Paari Ni!ayam, Madras-i.
3.Dr. Aravaanan Senthamul SeneGal Senghor,
Parri Nilayam, Madras-i.
4.Rt. Robert Caidwell A Comparative Grammar of
the Dravidian Languages.
University of Madras, 1956.
5.Suggate L. S. Africa,
George G. Harrap & Company
Dravidians and Africans 6
The Riddle of Lost Lemuria
Modern anthropologists have shown that there is Oceanic race as such, that all the inhabitants of Oceanic belong either to the Mongoloid race or to the Negroid (Equatorial) race. Negroids live for the most part in Africa. There are also Negroids in southern India. The Australians and other “Oceanic Negroids” are separated from the Africans and dark-skinned Indians by the Indian Ocean. And the Indian Ocean will perhaps some day explain why members of the Negroid race have come to be so many thousands of kilometres apart,
Riddles of the Equatorial Race
Although the Solomon Islands in Melanesia and the African continent are thousands of miles apart, inhabitants of these two places look so much alike that even expert anthropologists have difficulty telling them apart.
The whole of tropical Africa is inhabited by the Negroid, or Equatorial race. We also find members of this race far away at the other end of the Indian Ocean - on the Australian continent, in New Guinea, and in the jungles of the Malay Peninsula. How did they become so widely separated? Why is the earliest population of Madagascar Island closer to the Melanesians than to the inhabitants of the nearby east coast of Africa? And why does Malagasy, the language of the present-day inhabitants Madagascar, have more kinship with the language of the inhabitants of Easter Island than with the languages of the African continent?
Why do the fauna and flora of Madagascar show Indian rather than African affinities? Why does every large subdivision of theEquatorial race include a dwarf branch? There are the pygmy tribes of Africa, the dark-skinned pygmy peoples of the Malay Peninsula and the Philippine Islands, the pygmy tribes in the mountainous regions of New Guinea and1 finally, the tiny inhabitants of the Andaman Islands in the Indian Ocean, who are still in the Stone Age. Could these be the remnants of a once enormous dwarf branch that inhabited Africa, Southern Asia and Oceania?
The Negroids of Africa and Oceania are separated by the expanses of the Indian Ocean. The Asian continent, the vast land area between Africa and Oceania, is inhabited by members of two other big races, the European and the Mongoloid. True, there are some Equatorial pockets here. in central India there are the Munda, Negroid tribes that are among the country’s earliest inhabitants, and in Southern India there are the dark-skinned Dravidians, whose origin is a mystery to science.
The greatest controversy, however, centres round the Tamils, a Dravidian people with a distinctive culture. Scholars have named various countries, and even continents, as the original home of the Tamils. The Tamils themselves, or their historians, to be more exact, believed that in the remote past the Tamil homeland was situated in the southern part of Nawalarn, a large island that was one of the first land masses to arise near the equator, and that Lemuria, a lost continent considered to be the cradle of civilisation, was part of the same region.
Tamil scholars believed Lemuria to be the northern projection of Gondwana, a vast continent now lying at the bottom of the Indian Ocean.
Other Indian legends speak of Ruta and Daitia, countries that also sank into the ocean.
Geologists have advanced a hypothesis that a great land bridge once connected India and Africa. The long, steep projection Eastern and Western Ghats, the mountain ranges that separate India from the ocean, suggests that land subsidence on a vast scale once took place here, Volcanic lava reaches down into the ocean to ~ depth of nearly one kilometre. It is possible that the sea floor was once land, and the Ghats arose when this land sank to the bottom of the Indian Ocean to the west of the mountains. Many ecologistare of the Opinion that the whole o f the Indian subcontinent is a vast, flat chunk of land left over from a land mass whose western part sank into the ocean, while the Island of Ceylon, in its turn, is part of the subcontinent.
In the Bombay area there is a submerged forest. Furthermore, the very appearance of the coast is weighty evidence, geologists say, in favour of the theory that land there sank below the waves not long ago. Traces of land subsidence are also found along both the eastern and western coasts of Southern India.
Many geographers of antiquity, the famous Ptolemy among them, believed the Indian Ocean to be a huge lake surrounded by land on all sides. Do the land areas depicted on ancient maps now lie at the bottom of the Indian Ocean?
The dispersion of peoples throughout the world went on for thousands of years, perhaps even hundreds of thousands of years. Naturally, big geological changes, such as land subsidence or, on the contrary, (and elevatiori, could have taken place in this time.
Perhaps the riddles of the dispersion of the Equatorial race can be logically explained if we assume that there was once a land bridge between India and Africa, and even between Africa and Australia. After all, modern geological data show that the entire coastline of South-East Asia is slowly sinking into the ocean. Perhaps this process of subsidence once proceeded much faster and on a much broader scale.
A large number of geologists believe that a great continent called Gondwanaland, comprising South America, Africa, India, Australia and Antarctica, existed in the Southern Hemisphere hundreds of millions of years ago.
When you compare the fossil fauna and flora of the various parts of Gondwanaland you find remarkable similarities. And not only in the fossils, for that matter. Warmth-loving earthworms of exactly the same species are found in the southwestern part of Australia, in India, and on Ceylon. Since the earthworms could not have crossed the Indian Ocean under their own power, either India and Australia were once connected by a land bridge, or else then two were once contiguous and then became separated by thousands of kilometres of ocean. There are members of lower mammalian orders, such as marsupials, or pouched mammals, which are found only in Australia and South America. This indicates that either the two continents were once parts of a single continent, or they were connected by a land bridge.
There is a great number of similar instances, and it is clear to geologists, zoologists and paleontologists that South America, Australia, India, Africa and also Antarctica were once parts of Gondwanaland. What is more1 data furnished by these sciences shows that Gondwanaland began to break up between 150 and 180 million years ago, after having existed as a single continent for all of 3,000 million years. Still, many points in the history of this ancient continent or, rather, proto-continent, remain unclear. It is absolutely unknown, for one thing, whether the Indian Ocean-or at least some area of it—was part of Gondwanaland, or whether it was always a separate entity.
This brings us again to the old question of which type of crust, oceanic or continental, came first. The origin of Gondwanaland and the Indian Ocean has aroused even more heated debate among geologists and oceanographers than the origin of the Pacific Ocean. The two schools of thought they have arisen centre around the hypothesis of continental drift.
It is customary to regard the distinguished German scientist Alfred Wegener, a geophysicist, astronomer, arctic explorer and meteorologist, as the originator of the hypothesis of continental drift. Similar ideas were put forward nearly half a century earlier by the Russian scholar Y. Bykhanov, but Wegener, a man of greater erudition with more up—to--date information, was able to present a much better argumented and detailed exposition of the hypothesis.
Wegener’s book The Origin of Continents and Ocean Basini aroused stormy debate, and the continental drift controversy still goes on today. According to Wegener, the entire land area of the World once formed a single continent4 Later, lunar and solar gravi’ tational pull and violent processes taking place deep inside the earth split this original continent into two proto-continents Laur asia Including Europe, North America and the greater part of Asia~ in the Northern Hemisphere, and Gondwanaland in the Southern Hemisphere If you look at a map of the world you will see that the coastlines of the continents fit together amazingly, although the continents are separated by great expanses of water. The geological structures of the coastlines also have features in common.
For example, the Cape Mountains on the west coast of Africa have a twin on the east coast of South America with the same kind of rocks, the same minerals and the same sequence of strata. There are a great many such coincidences.
Many of Wegener’s views were mistaken, for in his time geophysicists did not have the precise instruments they posses today. Besides, the structure of the ocean floor was practically unknown in those days (Wegener evolved his hyphothesis before the First World War). Nevertheless, many scientists today share Wegener’s main idea, namely, that not only do the continents move up and down the mantle which surrounds the earth’s core but they also move laterally, or drift on it. Today, too, just as in Wegener’s own time, far from all scientists agree with the hypothesis.
First, some categorically reject the possibility of a continental drift over great distances.
- The similarity in continental contours that Wegener pointed out could be purely accidental, they say. Particularly since the contours were quite different in a not so very remote period, as is testified by the shallow continental shelf, which was above sea level during the last Ice Age and was flooded only after the ice melted. Similarities in the fauna, flora and geological structures of Australia, Antarctica, South America, Africa and India can, in their opinion, be explained by the simple fact that those continents were once connected by dry land that has since been submerged.
Supporters of Wegener’s hypothesis picture Gondwanaland as combining the continents of the Southern Hemisphere. The continents drifted apart, and that was the end of Gondwanaland. Opponents of the continental drift theory, however, believe that the southern precontinent was much larger, that besides South America, Africa, India, Australia, Antarctica, Madagascar and Ceylon~ it included part of the South Atlantic, nearly the Whole of the Indian ocean, and even portions of the South Pacific~
Gondwanaland broke up over the course of millions of years. Land areas subsided, were covered with water, and became the floor of the ocean. Coral colonies appeared in the shallow waters and unobtrusively set about their titanic labours, with the result that in the Indian Ocean, as in the Pacific, there arose coral atolls and reefs, and the Maldive, Laccadive, Cocos and Chagos islands.
Nevertheless, the existence of these islands cannot explain the resemblances between the fauna and flora of India and of Ceylon, Madagascar and Indian Ocean islands of the “continental” type, like the Seychelles and the Comoro, which are granite, not coral islands. This is what led the English zoologist Philip Sciater to advance the supposition, in the middle of the last century, that a large land mass, called Lemuria, continued to exist in the northwestern part of the Indian Ocean many millions of years after the break-up of Gondwanaland. Lemuria served as a bridge for the geographic dispersal of primeval fauna and flora. Sciater’s hypothesis met with support from geologists, zoologists, botanists, oceanographers and paleontologists. Specialists in the brand-new science of the origin of man, paleonthropology, gave Lemuria a key place in the emergence of man, believing that this was where the ape evolved into Homo sapiens.
The Cradle of Homo Sapiens
“Many hundreds of thousands of years ago, during an epoch, not yet definitely determinable, of that period of the earth’s history known to geologists as the Tertiary period, most likely towards the end of it, a particularly highly developed race of anthropoid apes lived somewhere in the tropical zone - probably on a great continent that has now sunk to the bottom of the Indian Ocean,” Frederick Engels wrote in his book The Role Played by Labour in the Transition from Ape into Man.
Engels based himself on the writings of Darwin, Huxley and other outstanding scientists of the 19th century who laid the foundations of modern natural history and the sciences dealing with man. Thomas Huxley, an associate of Darwin’s who investigated the origin of man (Huxley is mentioned earlier in this book in connection with the origin of the Tasmanians) assumed that Homo sapiens, that is, man regarded as an organic species, arose on the now sunken continent of’ Lemuria. As we see from the lines quoted above, Huxley’s view was shared by Frederick Engels, who closely followed the latest findings in all the sciences, from mathematics to paleoanthropology.
Huxley’s hypothesis was developed by another great 19th century biologist, Ernst Haeckel. After a thorough study of the data which the science of the origin of man had accumulated by that time, Haeckel came to the conclusion that there was a missing link in the chain of evolution between the anthropoid ape and Homo sapiens. Haeckel named this hypothetical genus of primates pithecanthropus, or ape-man, who, he believed, had lived in Lemuria and migrated from there north-east to India and South-East Asia, and westwards to Africa.
Before long, Haeckel’s theory received brilliant confirmation when Eugene Dubois, a Dutch anatomist, discovered the bones of a pithecanthropus on the Island of Java. Later, the bones of apemen were found in Africa and India.
All the above scientists enjoy prestige of the highest order, but their conclusions were arrived at on the basis of the facts available in the 19th century. Since then, geology, paleoanthropology, oceanography and zoology have accumulated hundreds of new facts; what is more, they possess instruments and devices about which scientists could never have dreamed in the last century. And so, how does modern science regard the problem of Lemuria and the origin of man?
In a recent monograph, The Nature of the Earth and the Origin of Man, the Soviet author Y. Reshetov convincingly shows, on the basis of the latest findings in geology, paleontology and paleoanthropology, that Lemuria. the eastern part of Gondwanaland, played a very important part in the development of early man. Reshetov believes that about 100 million years ago Lemuria apparently occupied the region of what is now the Mid-lndian Rise of the Indian Ocean~ including all the island archipelagoes and also Madagascar, Ceylon the Indian subcontinent and the shelf region of the Arabian Sea. Front time to time Lemuria Was joined to South~ East Asia by an isthmus.
The continent of Lemuria was a lowland overgrown with dense tropical forests and bordered by volcanic mountain chains on the
south-east south and north. It provided favorable conditions for the rise and successful development of a new order of mammals, small animals that lived in trees and fed on insects. Gradually these animals became larger and, through the development of keener eyesight and more tenacious claws, which changed into an organ that could seize things, into a hand, they acquired skill in climbing trees. Thus it was that the first primates, the lemurs, or half-monkeys, appeared on the scene between approximately 100 million and 70 million years ago.
Later, about 34 million years ago, big changes took place1 large sections of southern and south-eastern Lemuria began to subside; earlier, Madagascar had separated from the continent. Big changes also occurred in the order of half-monkeys. Some of the lemurs grew to a tremendous size and descended from the trees to the ground in search of food. The skeleton of a gigantic lemur, Megaladapis, one of the most amazing creatures that ever existed on our planet, has been discovered on Madagascar. Imagine a lemur as tall as a man, walking about on its two hind limbs, yet with a long tail and huge round eyes.
This line of evolution did not lead anywhere. It was not the “two-legged lemurs” that became masters of the planet but descendants of the half-monkeys who turned into “full” monkeys, who in turn gave rise to the branch of anthropoid apes. Dryopithecus is the name given to the fossil apes that evolved into the gorillas and chimpanzees of the tropical forests of Africa, on the one hand, and were the forerunners of modern man, on the other. Apes of the genus Sivapithecus are regarded as the most primitive of the dryopithecus apes because they combine features of all the anthropoid apes, whether gorillas, chimpanzees or orangutans.
Reshetov presents, in his monograph, facts indicating that the earliest primitive monkeys and, possibly, their more highly developed descendants as well, who lived in Lemuria, were forced to migrate by the break-up of this continent, the final stage of which took place about 25 million years ago. The waves of migration moved westwards to Africa and northwards to India. Here, says Reshetov, “their late descendants, who lived in the north of India from four to four and a half million years ago, Went over completely to life on the ground and to making systematic use of natural objects as tools’. These were the “earliest ancestors of man,”
Does the history of Lemuria end on that? Or could the last remnants of the continent have continued to exist in the Indian Ocean for a long time afterwards, not only in the Ternary period, in which the lemurs and anthropoid apes arose, but also in the Quarternary period, in which man appeared? Could Lemuria have been the cradle of mankind instead of simply a bridgehead from which lemurs and primitive monkeys invaded all the continents (except Australia and Antarctica, those completely isolated parts of submerged Gondwanaland)? Only detailed exploration of the bed of the Indian Ocean, in the region where Lemuria existed, will answer these questions.
The most surprising part of it is that a study of the world’s earliest civilisations reveals a whole series of riddles that can be solved only by using the hypothesis of Lemuria, a large land mass in the Indian Ocean that was inhabited not just by lemurs and not even by pithecanthropi, but by human beings who had reached a high level of civilisation!
Tamilaham, Nawalam and South Madura
Ancient Tamil historians believed that the original home of their people, Tamalaham, was situated on the island of Nawalam, “one of the earliest lands to arise near the equator”. Medieval treatises spoke of sanghas, associations made up of the leading poets and scholars. The earliest sanghas arose on the “Southern Continent” or Lemuria, about 10,000 years ago, in the earliest period of Tamil history. The sanghas ceased to exist after Lemuria and its capital, South Madura, sank into the Indian Ocean.
The Tamils, who have an ancient culture, speak a language allied to the languages of India that form the Dravidian family, spoken today by more than 100 million people. The Dravidians belong to one of the oldest ethnic groups in India. They lived there long before the belligerent nomad, tribes of Aryans mentioned in the Rig~Veda, the sacred book of the Hindus, came to the “land of marvels”. Today the Dravidian languages are spoken in Southern India, up to 18 deg-20 deg’s, but they once covered Central and Northern India as well. Moreover, facts show that several thousand years ago the Dravidian languages were also spoken in Baluchistan and Sourthem Iran. The Dravidians may have been the first to settle in the Tigris and Euphrates area, preceding the Sumerians, whose civilisation is regarded as the oldest in the world.
Tamil legends claim that the original homeland of the Tamils (and, consequently, of all Dravidians) was once situated in the Indian Ocean but was swallowed up by the waves. The same legends regard the sunken land, Lemuria, to be the cradle of human civilisations. The surprising thing is that at least two out of three of the world’s earliest civilisations turn out to be connected with people who spoke Dravidian languages.
The discovery, in the twenties and thirties, of a proto-Indian civilisation in the valley of the Indus is considered by scientists to be the most important archeological find of the 20th century. Later excavations showed that India’s oldest civilisation covered vast regions to the east and the south including, besides the valley of the Indus, the Kathiawar Peninsula, the environs of the present capital, Delhi, and even the valley of the Ganges. Although not so old, perhaps, as the two earliest civilisations, the Egyptian and Mesopotamian, it covered an area several times larger than Egypt did in her archaic period or the civilisation of Mesopotamia in antiquity.
What people produced the proto-Indian civilisation? The hieroglyphic inscriptions on the large number of seals and amulets found in India’s oldest cities have helped to answer this question. Although no one has yet succeeded in deciphering the writing, a team of Soviet researchers has used electronic computers to establish the family to which the language of the hieroglyphic inscriptions belongs. Their first publication, entitled A Preliminary Report on a. Study of Proto-Irdian Texts appeared in 1965. The team included M. Probst, a programmer, G. Alexeyev, a paleographer and well-known specialist on ancient scripts, B. Voichok, Indologist; philologist I. Fyodorova, Y. Knozorov, who is an expert on deciphering ancient scripts and the present writer. The report was prepared under the auspices of the All-Union Institute of Scientific and Technical Information and the Institute of Ethnography of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR.
To begin with, the team used computers to make a statistical analysis of the texts in order to get a picture of the abstract grammar of “language X”, as they called the language of the proto-Indian texts. This means they ascertained whether the language used suffixes, prefixes and infixes (elements inserted in the body of word
as in some languages of the Caucasus), what its main grammatical structures were, and so on.
Next they compared “language X” with other languages. Following the discovery of the hieroglyphic texts scholars had advanced a multitude of bypotheses claimed that the proto-Indian language was related to the most diverse languages of the world, including many languages of India, Asia Minor, the Caucasus, the Himalayas and even the language of the Kets, a people who live along the upper reaches of the river Yenisei in Siberia, and the language of the inhabitants of Eastern Island in the Pacific (many of the proto - Indian hieroglyphs are similar in shape to the pictographs of the kohau rongo-rongo script). One by one, Sanskrit, Hittite, Hurrian, Rapanui and many other languages were weeded out of the list of candidates for the honour of being the language spoken by the people who had created India’s oldest civilisation. Finally, only one claimant was left, the Dravidian languages, whose structure turned out to be the closest to that of “language X”. This furnished proof of the hypothesis, advanced by many scholars, that the proto-Indian civilisation was built up by people speaking Dravidian languages (or a Dravidian language). Indeed, a Dravidian “island”, the Brahui language, has been preserved to this day among the sea of Indo-European languages spoken in Northwestern India. It is quite possible that in hoary antiquity the whole of this region was inhabited by peoples who spoke Dravidian languages.
The Sumerians and the Ubaids
It appears, in the light of recent findings, that the languages spoken by the earliest inhabitants of the country lying between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, who preceded the Sumerians, may also have belonged to the Dravidian family. Linguists inferred the existence of this language when, studying the oldest Sumerian texts, they found that many words could not be explained by the rules of Sumerian but were cognate with some other language. Since these words signify vitally important objects and the main occupations (for example, the Sumerian words for “palm tree”, “date”, “plough”, “weaver”, “stonemason”, “fisherman”, “blacksmith”, “coppersmith”, “tinsmith”, “farmer”, “carpenter”, “herder” and “merchant” are all borrowed, it became clear that the people who spoke “language x” gave the Sumerians the foundations of their civilisatjon.
An analysis of place names likewise bears out the supposition that this people lived in the country between the Tigris and the Euphrates long before the arrival of the Sumerians. Idiglat and Buranun (as the Tigris and Euphrates are called in the cuneiform texts), and also the names of the oldest cities (Ur, Uruk, Nippur, Lagash, Kish and Eridu) are not Sumerian. The same is true of the supreme god of the Sumerians, En-Ki, “Lord of the Earth”, who was adopted from the pantheon of earlier civilised inhabitants of the valley of the Tigris and the Euphrates. (Later the Sumerian priests remodelled the name and the god came to be called Ea.)
Thus the Sumerians were not the indigenous inhabitants of Mesopotamia. Where did they come from? From the western regions of Indo-China, according to a recent hypothesis. Or from the Caucasus Mountains, according to another. Finally, written records have been dsscovered on the territory of Rumania that are amazingly similar to the oldest Sumerian writing but go back to a still earlier period and make us wonder if perhaps the Sumerians did not come from the Balkans.
But wherever they did come from, whether South-East Asia or South-East Europe, it is clear that they were an unmaritime people who learned navigation later, after they had settled their new home in the valley of the Tigris and Euphrates. Their original home must have been in the mountains. This is indicated by the Sumerian custom of placing images of gods on an elevation. The Sumerians moved from the north of Mesopotamia to the South, and not the other way round. And it was in Southern Mesopotamia that a sudden cultural upsurge took place in the second half of the fourth millennium B.C., leading to the rise of a civijisatjon there. Scholars explain that this was because a new, energetic population at an advanced stage of development reached Southern Mesopotamia. This population could not, obviously, have been the Sumerians. The culture, one of the world’s earliest, was first revealed during excavations on a hill which the local inhabitants called al-Ubeid. Hence, these unknown people with their own language are known as the Ubaids.
Al-Ubaid is not far from the town of Eridu, the most southern of the ancient cities of Mesopotamia. Some 6,000 years ago it was a seaport at the head of the Persian Gulf. Later Eridu was cut off from the sea by the alluvia of the large rivers. From civil
SAtion spread in a direction opposite to the flow of the Tigris and Euphrates, to Uruk, Ur, Lagash and other cities.
Archeological excavation thus confirms the ancient Mesopotamian legends which say that civilisation was brought to Mesopotamia by a race of beings who were half-fish, half-men, headed by someone called Oannes, who sailed across the Persian Gulf to the city of Eridu. There Oannes furnished mankind instruction in writing, the arts and the various sciences. He taught men how to build cities and places of worship, how to till the soil and how to fashion the implements and tools they needed.
Scholars learned of the Oannes legend from the history written by Berossus, a priest at Babylonia. Knowing Sumerian mythology, they established that Oannes of Babylonia was Ea, the older Sume~nan god of the waters, the “lord of wisdom”, who taught people arts, crafts, building and writing. But Ea is only the remodelled god of the lUbaids, En-Ki. Thus, the Eridu legend in which Ea made mankind the gift of civilisation is not of Babylonian or even Sumerian origin but comes from the Ubaids. This is confirmed by archeology, which says that Eridu was where Mesopotamian civilisation was born. It was there that man made the leap from the Stone Age to the age of metals, irrigation and monumental buildings, among other attributes of civilisation.
Who were the Ubaids? “Linguistic excavation” (the isolation of Ubaid words in Sumerian texts and the discovery of Ubaid place-names) has given us about twenty Ubaid words and approximately the same number of place-names. We find that quite a number of Ubaid words are similar to Dravidian words or the roots of Dravidian words! Hundreds of communities in Southern India have names that end in “ur”. In the Dravidian languages the word “ur” means “settlement”. “town” or “community”. The olbest cities in Mesopotamia also have words with “ur” in the root, such as Uruk and Nippur, and a city that is actually called Ur.
Idiglat was what the Ubaids called the river Tigris. (“id” means “river” or “water”.) The name of the river Indus is perhaps cognate with it, for in the Dravidian languages the n/nd interchange occurs fairly often; originally it meant “river” or “water”. (
[ The word Indus came from the word Cindus. Initial dropping is common in Dravidian. Ref: Caanroor> aanroor etc. In Tamil, the word Cindu(s) meant drop. It is related with water. -Editor]
There is another river in Hindustan, the Ganges, that also means “water” this time in the language of the Munda.) Ubaid words for different occupations have the suffix “gar” (for example, “engar” means peasant, “nangar” carpenter, “damgar” merchant, and so on). In the Dravidian languages the word “gar” means “hand”; thus, the suffix “gar” could signify “maker”, a peasant being a “maker of land”, a carpenter a “maker of wood”, and a merchant a “maker of trade”.
We do not have enough facts, of course, to draw any final conclusions. Still, the similarity between Dravidian and Ubaid words is significant when we consider that there is an undoubted similarity between the proto-Indian culture and the civilisation of Mesopotamia.
Among the many hundreds of cylindrical seals belonging to the inhabitants of Mesopotamia archeologists have found several square seals fashioned by the proto-Indians. This shows that contacts existed between the two ancient civilisations. The “trans-shipment point” on the route from Mesopotamia to the Indian subcontinent was discovered in the sixties of the present century. It was the Bahrein Islands in the Persian Gulf. The civilisation that flourished there several thousand years ago combined features of the Sumerian and proto-Indian cultures. In the cultural and commercial exchange that had taken place on those islands from early time the Sumerian civilisation influenced the proto-Indian and the proto-indian influenced the Sumerian.
The houses of baked brick brought to light in the Sumerian city of Ur, says the eminent British archeologist John Marshall, are a marked exception to the general rule. But they so closely resemble the small, rather carelessly built houses of late Mohenjo-Daro that it is easy to see under whose influence they were built. The same influence was also felt in religion. In a tomb in Ur, archeologists found a statuette of a monkey seated on its haunches that is similar to the figures of monkeys found in Mohenjo-Dauro. (These monkeys were probably the original model for Hanuman, a monkey god that assists Rama, the hero of the ancient Indian epic Ramayana.) The Indian archeologist S. K. Dikshit says that since the monkey was known to the civilised world in antiquity as a typically Indian animal, and since the monkey would hardly have been depicted in sculpture if it were not held to be sacred, it may be assumed that in the Bronze Age the countries of Western Asia adopted some of India’s religious notions.
However, the statuette could have belonged to a proto-Indian merchant living in Mesopotamia for, says Dikshit, merchants in western countries probably did not hesitate to recognise as legal a deal concluded under the protection of the sacred gods represented both by the proto-Hanuman and the other animals depicted on seals found in Mesopotamian cities.
Although the style of a painted vase that was found in the ruin of a Sumerian city is strictly Sumerian the subject of the painting is of Indian origin. It portrays a zebu, an Asiatic ox with a large humb, standing before a ritual manage - one of the favourite subjects on proto-Indian seals. In the opinion of Gordon Childe, a leading expert in the archeology of the ancient world, the Sumerian artist must have witnessed the performance of Indian religious rites in Mesopotamia. There is nothing surprising in this, since entire caravans or flotillas of Indian merchants must have engaged in trade in Mesopotamia. They may have been detained in Sumeria for months, particularly at the time of fairs, to sell their goods and lay in cargo for the return voyage. In the light of what we know about commerce in the East in the second millennium B.C., it would be quite logical to assume the existence of a permanent colony of Indian merchants living in some convenient Sumerian city.
All the finds mentioned above are the result of cultural exchanges between two established and distinctive civilisations. Yet - and this is the most interesting point - many features similar to both the proto-Indian culture and the ancient civilisation of Mesopotamia cannot be explained by borrowing or cultural exchange. These features speak, rather, of an ancient and deep kinship between the two cultures and between the men who created them. As we have already noted, the Dravidian language of the proto-Indians is probably congnate with the language of the Ubaids who preceded the Sumerians.
A number of ornaments and symbols found on proto-Indian seals and amulets have a kinship with the ornaments and symbols of the earliest dwellers in Mesopotamia and Elam
The square seals found in Mesopotomia were undoubtedly brought there by proto-Indian merchants. And on square seals found on the Indian subcontinent we see subjects and deities which reflect the mythology and religion of Mesopotamia. (Both the shape of the seals and the legends on them tell us that they were made in India and not brought there from Sumer.) Three amulet seals found at Mohenjo-Daro depict a man engaged in battle with two tigers. The figure is strikingly like Engidu, comrade of the hero of the Gilgamesh Epic, who helped Gilgamesh in his struggle against wild beasts. Another Mohenjo-Daro amulet-seal shows a horned man with the legs and tail of a bull, struggling with a horned tiger. The horned tiger is probably an evil spirit that wages a constant war on its enemies, says Ernest Mackay in his book Early Indus civilisalion. This half-man, half-ox is astonishingly like one of the Sumerian half-gods or heroes which evidently indicates a remote connection between some of the popular beliefs of the two cultures, according to Mackay. It is possible, he says, that some third country with whom the people of Sumer and the people of the Indus Valley maintained close ties in the remote past played the role of intermediary.
Anthropological findings as well as the data of linguistics, archeology and the history of religions speak of kinship between the early Mesopotamians and the proto-Indians. Most of the skulls of proto-Indians are identical with the skulls of Ubaids. A remarkable statue found in the ruins of Mohenjo~Daro -archeologists have named it “portrait of a priest” -has a face that is very like those of men in early Mesopotamian sculpture.
Several scholars, among them Samuel Kramer, whose field is the Sumerian language, think that the proto-Indian culture was created by the Ubaids, who were pushed out of their original home in Mesopotamia by the Sumerians and settled in the Indus Valley. It is possible, however, that the ancient kinship between inhabitants of Mesopotamia and the Indian subcontinent stems from the fact that the Ubaid and the proto-Indian civilisations arose from one and the same source, a source to be found neither in Mesopotamia nor in India but somewhere else.
India’s earliest civilisation was called the Indus Valley culture since jt was thought that this culture occurred in that valley. But
archeologists have found proto-Indian cities and settlements between the Ganges and Jumna rivers, in the Siwalik Hills in the Punjab, and in the Bombay area south of the mouth of the Indus. It is noteworthy that the “southern cities” are as old as MohenjoDaro and other settlements in the Indus Valley, evidence in support of the hypothesis that the Indus Valley was not the cradle of protoIndian civilisation. We do not know where it was situated. At any rate, no traces have yet been found on the Indian subcontinent of the culture from which the proto-Indian civilisation directly sprang. Although archeologists in India and Pakistan have discovered several older cultures they cannot be considered predecessors of Mohenjo-Daro, Harappa and other proto-Indian cities; they are not connected with them genetically. The roots of the proto-Indian civilisation, say archeologists, are still a mystery.
The Land Known as Elam
The features which the proto -Indian culture and the Mesopotamian culture have in common may quite possibly be explained by the fact that the people who created the oldest Indian civilisation and the first men to develop the valley of the Tigris and Euphrates were cognate peoples speaking Dravidian languages. Or perhaps they were simply one and the same people. It is also possible that the Dravidian languages may have been common to other peoples besides the Ubaids and the proto-Indians,
The region east of the Tigris, in Iran, called Khuzistan, was once known as Elam. A civilisation flourished there 5,000 years ago with city-states, a distinctive culture and a written language. Scholars find that the culture of the Elamites had many features in common with that of Mesopotamia, and even more so with the proto-Indian culture.
The Elamites spoke and wrote a language with which it has been impossible so far to find affinities. Linguists have attempted, unsuccessfully, to demonstrate that Elamite is related to the Turanian (Ural-Altaic, Turkic and Mongolic languages), to the numerous Caucasian languages, or to the dead languages of Asia Minor (Hurrian, Kassite, etc.). “The only hypothesis supported by a few indicative facts is that of an Elamo-Dravidian relationship,” says the eminent Soviet historian and linguist I. Dyakonov in his monograph Languages of Ancient Asia Minor. Dyakonov cites examples showing affinities between Elamite and the languages used by the Dravidians. In the Dravidian languages the root “ketu” means “perish” or “be destroyed”. In the Elam language it means “destroy”. The word for “day” in Elamite is “nan” whereas in the Dravidian languages this root “nan” means “morning”, “dawn” and ~”day”*. The root “pan” in Elamite means “reach” while in the Dravidian languages it means “flec” or “evade”.
Languages borrow words from one another, of course, Besides, sounds and meanings may accidentally coincide (for example, both in English and Kabardinian, a language of the Caucasus Mountains, the numeral 2 sounds the same, although there is no relationship between the two languages). But the important thing is that Elamite and the Dravidian languages have many common grammatical structures, and grammatical structures are never borrowed. This speaks either of ancient affinities or of contacts over a long period of time. Both phonetically and morphologically Elamite is similar to the Dravidian languages. And the pronouns are so similar that, says Dyakonov, they sometimes fully coincide”.
The affinities between Elamite and the Dravidian languages have led Dyakonov to assume that “tribes related by language to the Elamites and the Dravidians were scattered throughout Iran, or at any rate, throughout southern Iran, in the fourth and third millennia B. C. and perhaps later as well. Besides, traces of Dravidian toponymy (true, they do not date back to any definite period) have evidently been found on the Arabian Peninsula, while traces of an admixture of the Dravidoid (South Indian) race have been noted, say some researchers, in several regions of southern Iran.” Later the dark-~skinned Dravidians, or peoples related to them linguistically and racially1 were forced out of Iran or were completely assimilated by the newcomers. True, Herodotus, who lived in the fifth century B.C., still called the inhabitants of Baluchistan, a country situated between India and Elam, “Asiatic Ethiopians” (that is, “Asiatic Negroes”), which might mean that dark-skinned people inhabited the area between Iran and India as late as about 2,500 years ago.
It is fully possible that Elamite and the Ubaid languages branched off from the common Dravidian stock at an early date, and this explains the similarities and the differences between them.
There might be another explanation. The Dravidian languages, the language of the Ubaids who preceded the Sumerians, and Elamite might all go back to a more remote common language. They might be three branches of that language.
Most of the Elamite texts are written in the cuneiform script that the Elamites borrowed from their Western neighbours, the Akkadian and the Sumerians, in the middle of the third millennium B. C. Before that the Elamites used hieroglyphics. And still earlier they had a pictorial graphic system called proto-Elamjte
Proto-Elamite writing has not yet been deciphered. In appearance the texts and the pictorial characters are very like protoSumerian, the earliest Mesopotamian writing. The inhabitants of Mesopotamian also wrote on clay tablets using a pictorial-linear form of writing and, like the proto-Sumerian texts, they were evidently also household accounts and business documents.
A third proto-writing, characters of which have been found at Harappa, Mohenjo-Daro and other prehistoric sites on the Indian subcontinent, has affinities with the characters in proto-Sumerjan and proto-Elamite scripts. The earliest Mesopotamian texts are written in Sumerian, as recent studies by A. Vaiman of the Soviet Union have shown, although the first inhabitants of the valley of the Tigris and Euphrates were not Sumerians but Ubaids, who spoke a language cognate with the Dravidian languages.
The language of the proto-Elamite texts, probably the earliest form of the Elamite language, differs from the language of the proto-Sumerian inscriptions. Proto-Indian texts conceal the Dravidian language rather than the Sumerian or Elamite; therefore, proto-Sumerian writing cannot provide a key with which to decipher the mysterious scripts of the Indian subcontinent and Elam, especially since proto-Sumerian writing has been only partially deciphered. Scholars can read only 250 of the 800 characters in proto-Sumerjan writing. Still, the similarity among the characters of the three proto writings leads one to think that they were derived from a single common ancestor. After all, the cuneiform script later invented by the Sumerians was used to record the Akkadian, Elamite, Urartearn, Hittite and other languages that bear no resemblance to Sumerian. One can find a common basic stock of similar characters among
the characters used in proto-Surnerian, proto-Elamite and protoIndian writing.
Philologists and toponymises use the term “substratum when speaking of languages place-names that precede the languages and names they are studying. When it comes to the characters in early writings we may also speak of a “substratum”, an initial pictorial graphic system that came before the proto-Surnerian, proto-Elamite and proto-Indian writings. Since the proto-Sumerian texts are the oldest, and the first inhabitants of Mesopotamia, before the Sumerians, were the ‘~Ubaid” to designate the oldest system of writing. (This was not writing in the full sense of the word but sooner a language of drawings, the pictography that preceded archaic forms of writing) The system existed in Mesopotamia before the Sumerians came there. The Sumerians adopted the system and used it to develop their own writing, the proto-Sumerian, in the same way that they adopted and developed other Ubaid material and intellectual achievements.
The same thing may have happened on both the Indian subcontinent and Elam. The similarity of the proto-Indian, protoElamite and proto-Sumerian scripts is again explained by their Dravidian basis. The Ubaid language is perhaps a cognate language, like the language of the Elamites and the proto-Indians. Dravidian “basic writing”, like a Dravidian “basic language”, may have existed in remote antiquity. The Ubaid, proto-Indian and Elamite pictorial characters may be offshoots of that “basic script”, in the same way that the Ubaid, Elamite proto-Indian languages are offshoots of the “parent Dravidian language”.
The “Dravidian Problem”
When and where did the Dravidian patent language arise? When did it begin to disintegrate and send offshoots from the common trunk that later developed into independent languages which could in their turn produce new languages? By employing mathematical methods modern linguistics has been able to establish the period when individual languages began to branch off from the single Dravidian or, more correctly, proto-Dravidian ancestor as separate entities. The, first was Brahui, the only Dravidian language spoken in Northern India. That happened about 6,000 years ago. It has not yet been established, however, whether ‘proto-Dravidian was formed in India or was brought in from outside.
The more than 500 languages and dialects spoken today on the territory of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh belong to one of three large families: the Indo-European, Munda and Dravidian. Scholars say that the speakers of the Indo-European languages, the legendary Aryans, came to Hindustan (Northern India) in the second millennium B. C. (Where they came from is still debated; the three most probable places are Central Asia, the Black Sea area and Asia Minor.) It was believed far a long time that the dark-skinned tribes speaking the Munda languages were the oldest inhabitants of India. However, the latest linguistic findings show that they appeared in India only 6,000 years ago. They came from the east, from Indo-China, where languages cognate with the Munda languages and dialects are still spoken today.
The most surprising thing is that the Dravidian languages are also alien languages, although they appeared in the Indian subcontinent before the Indo-European languages and possibly before the Munda languages.
We have mentioned the kinship between the Ubaid and Sumerian languages and the Dravidian languages. Place-names in Mesopotamia as well as in Iran, Afghanistan and even the Caucasus can be interpreted if one proceeds from the Dravidian languages, says the Indian scholar T. B. Nayar. Another eminent scholar, N. Lahovary, points out in his book Dravidian Origins and the West that the Caucasian and Dravidian languages have many features in common. Nayar and Lahovary believe that Dravidian tribes reached India in approximately the fourth millennium B. C.
With reference to such a remote period it is better, however, to use the term “proto-~Dravidians”, in the same way that “proto-Dravidian languages” is a more precise term than “Dravidian languages”. Many anthropologists believe that the proto Dravidians differed substantially in appearance from modern Dravidians, that they were people of a lighter complexion and taller stature, for example. There is evidence that the Toda one of the most mysterious tribes of the Indian subcontinent, who live in the Nilgiri Hills in the middle of Southern India, have preserved features of the ancient proto-Dravidians best of all because they have been in
almost total isolation for so many centuries. The language of the Toda is a Dravidian language. The Toda priests employ a special ritual language, the “kworjam” or “kworsham”, in which the names of many deities coincide with those of the ancient gods of Mesopotamia.
The original home of the Dravidians may have been Sumer, Elam, Iran or the Caucasus Mountains, experts say. These hypotheses can be combined into single, broader hypothesis: that in remote antiquity Mesopotamia, Iran, the Caucasus Mountains and possibly part of Central Asia were inhabited by tribes speaking the Dravidian languages. But was this extensive area the home of the Dravidians?
According to some scholars, the proto-Dravidians, nomads, who roamed from the borders of Sumer and Elam to the Amu Darya Syr Darya and the Caucasus, reached the Indian subcontinent about 6,000 years ago via convenient mountain passes in Northwestern India. Although the Dravidians are an ancient people of India it is an indisputable fact that they came from somewhere else. The evidence that the Dravidian languages are related to some of the earliest languages of Mesopotarnia, Elam and the Caucasus is convincing. This does not necessarily mean, though, that the proto-Dravidians came to India from those places. On the contrary, linguistic data indicate that the Dravidian languages spread from south to north rather than from north to south.
In a survey of the languages of’ India, Pakistan, Ceylon and Nepal, Soviet Indologist G. Zograf notes that the theory that the Dravidian peoples moved from south to north and not in the opposite direction has gained more and more recognition of late. (For example, tribes speaking Kurukh, a Dravidian language, and living in the north eastern part of Central India, have a legend which says that their ancestors once lived in Southern India.)
This is indeed odd, for south of the Indian subcontinent lies the Indian Ocean, in which the proto-~Dravjdians could not possibly have developed and then moved northwards into India, Mesopotamia and Elam. But it will not seem so odd if we recall that Lemuria, a land which sank in the Indian Ocean, was situated, say many geologists and oceanographers, in the part of the ocean that divides India from Africa. Early Dravidian legends say the same thing—that their original homeland lay south of the Indian subcontinent and that it sank into the o;ean several thousand years ago.
Ships from the Land of Melukha
India has been inhabited since Paleolithic times. The Dravidians the Munda and the Aryans, that is the speakers of the three big families of languages of modern India, were all aliens. The first to arrive were the Dravidians (was it from the south ?). They were followed by the Munda from the east end, 2,000 to 3,000 years later, by nomad Aryan tribes from the northwest. The Aryan tribes brought with them the Indo-European language or, rather, a number of closely related dialects. There is no doubt that the Aryans came by land, for they drove before them their cattle, their chief property, wealth and pride, to which many beautiful lines of poetry are devoted in the hymns of the Rig-Veda, an epos composed during the period when the Aryans first arrived on the Indian subcontinent. Tribes speaking the Munda languages entered India from South-East Asia by land. They had no navigational skills whatsoever. The same cannot be said of the Dravidians, however.
The people of the Toda tribe, which many scholars consider the purest representatives •o~ the proto-Dravidians, raise cattle. But they have preserved an old song about ships, a song that could be a folk memory of the sea route by which their ancestors reached India. Archeologists have found a large amount of Dravjdian merchandise in excavated Mesopotamian cities. This merchandise is included in the list of rare objects brought to King Solomon. Among the items is sandalwood, which grows on the Malabar coast of Southern India and nowhere else in the world. At first it was believed that goods from Southern India were brought west by Sumerian merchants, that Mesopotamia ruled the waves of the Indian Ocean and its inhabitants plied the Persian Gulf Arabian Sea Indian Ocean route. Recent investigations, though, indicate that this is not so. The inhabitants of Dravidian India were most likely the first to Voyage across the Indian Ocean.
The first excavations of proto-Indian cities in Mohenjo-Daro revealed pictures of ship with masts. The British archeologist Ernest Mackay, who was among the first to discover India’s earliest civilisation, believed that the inhabitants of the cities of the IndusValley widely used the sea route to Sumer.
The question of whether these voyage were made by the Mesopotamian, the prot-Tndians or perhaps the Arabs, was left open by Mackay. It can be answered thanks to the latest archeological discoveries. In the eastern Section of Lothal, the world’s oldest seaport, discovered by Indian researchers on Kathiawar, a peninsula not far from the big modern port of Bombay, a rectangular brick paved shipyard that measures an impressive 218 metres by 37 metres has been excavated. A canal seven metres wide had been dug to connect this large shipyard with a river flowing into the Arabian Sea. It is noteworthy that Lothal, which lies far to the south of the Indus Valley, is just as old as MOhenjo-Daro, Harappa and other proto-Indian towns. It was founded about 4,000 years ago.
Scientists studying Mesopotamia, the Country at the other end of the ancient trade route, have discovered interesting things. Babylonian cuneiforrn texts speak of places called Magan and Melukha, linking up those countries~ and the goods brought from them (ebony and other valuable woods) with East Africa.
Sumerian inscriptions dating back 4,000 to. 4,500 years often mention Magan and Melukha. Magan exported valuable woods, and Melukha,; situated still farther out in the Indian Ocean, exported gold dust, pearls and lapis lazuli. It was called the “dark country”, evidently because of the colour of its inhabitants. The important thing is that it was not the Sumerians who voyaged to Melukha but the inhabitants of Melukha who came to Mesopotamia to carry on trade Texts speak of “men of the ships of Melukha” and archeologists have found a Sumerian seal belonging to an interpreter from the Melukha tongue.~
Sumerian sources mention the large size of the magulim, the ships of Melukha. Some scholars are inclined to see the Dravjdian manci in the word. A manci was a big cargo ship of from 10 to 40 tons, and the word is still used by the Kanares; Malayalam, Tu1~ and Tamils, Dravidian peoples living along the western and southern coasts of South India. From this we may assume that when the Sumerians spoke of Melukha they meant Dravidian India.
It is quite possible that ships from Melukha voyaged not only to the shores of the Persian Gulf but also to Arabia and even Egypt. Among the numerous rock drawings found in Upper Egypt, in the area bordering on the Red Sea, there are pictures of ships unlike those on which the ancient Egyptians sailed the Nile. At Djebel el Araq on the Red Sea, at the spot where boats set out for the Nile Valley down the Wadi- Hammamat, now dried up, the handle of a knife has been found with a picture on it of a sea battle between Nile boats made of papyrus and boats with high prows and sterns.
At first many scholars believed that the foreign ships depicted on those rock drawings in Upper Egypt were Sumerian. After analysing the latest discoveries, however, the well-known Indian archeologist S. R. Rao suggests that the vessels belonged to people from Dravidian India, the land of the proto-Indian culture. Perhaps, though, the boats that sailed across the Persian Gulf, touching at Sumerian ports on the coasts of the Arabian Sea and the Red Sea, came from somewhere else. Perhaps from Magan, a land of protoIndians, or from Melukha, situated still farther south, a land that now lies on the bottom of the Indian Ocean. Sumerian texts also mention a third country, Dilmun, perhaps the most enigmatic of them all.
Search for the “Sumerian Paradise”
Before dwelling on the search for Dilmuun it would perhaps be well to summarise what has gone before.
A study of the Dravidian languages, their comparison with the languages spoken by the early inhabitants of the Indian subcontinent, Mesopotamia and Elam (possibly not only Elam but also the regions of Iran, even up to and including Central Asia, and also the Caucasus), and a comparison with the place-names and languages of Arabia lead many scholars to assume that the speakers of the Dravidian languages once inhabited a vast territory that stretched from the Caucasus Mountains and Central Asia to Arabia and India. The Indian subcontinent cannot be considered the birthplace of these Languages, it is believed that they spread from the south, and not from the north or the north-west, since the greater share of those who speak the Dravidian languages live in south India.
The men who built the proto-Indian civilisation and the predecessors of the Sumerians, the Ubaids, may have spoken Dravidian languages or cognate languages. Kramer and other scholars believe the proto-Indian culture was brought to India by the Ubaids, who were driven out of Southern Mesopotamia by the Sumerian newcomers. The myths of the earliest inhabitants of Mesopotamia say that civilisation was brought to that area by Enki, the “Lord of the Earth” who founded Eridu, the southernmost city in Mesopotamia. Could all this mean that civilisation came to India and Mesopotamia, and perhaps to Elam and even Egypt, from some unknown place? The men who created that civilisation were dark-skinned and spoke Dravidian languages. And according to ancient legends of the Dravidians, their original home was Lemuria, now at the bottom of the Indian Ocean.
Could mention of this legendary country perhaps be found in other sources besides Indian and Sumerian legends? It does not necessarily have to be called Lemuria, Nawalam, Tamilaham or the Southern Continent. The name could have been changed by the Sumerians. After all, they did turn the Ubaid god En-ki into the god Ea. Besides, the Dravidian names for the sunken continent date back to the Middle Ages, and they could have changed substantially by then.
The god Ea, who was En-ki, the Mesopotamian Poseidon, God of the Sea, brought civilization to Eridu, the southernmost city in Mesopotamia. En-Ki himself lived in Dilmun, a land from which disease and death had been banished, where fresh water gushed from springs, where human life was happy and carefree.
This, it is easy to guess, was the Sumerian paradise, the Sumerian promised land, the proto-type of the Biblical paradise. It might seem obvious that Dilmun was a mythical land that never actually existed. Yet this is not so, for we find mention of “ships from Dilmun” in very early business documents of Mesopotamia. Later Assyrian sources say that King Uperi of Dilmun paid tribute to ~ King Sargon II of Assyria. Another Assyrian ruler carried rich plunder out of Dilmun, including copper, bronze and precious timber. Dilmun soldiers helped the Assyrian despot Sennacherib to level Babylon, “mother of cities”, to the ground, To sumup:
Although mythology gives the domain of Ea the typical features of paradise; Dilmun was a country that actually did exist.
Where? Dilmun was called “the land from which the sun rises”. Hence it must have been situated east of the valley of the Tigris and Euphrates. When archeologists discovered, on the Bahrein Islands in the Persian Gulf, a civilisation that was an “intermediate link” between the cultures of Mesopotamia and India, they decided they had found the mysterious Dilmun. Not long ago, however, Kramer put forward weighty arguments against considering that the Bahrein Islands could have been Dilmun. One argument is that there are no elephants on the islands, although ivory was the most important Dilmun export. Another is that no sanctuaries of the god of water have been found there. Kramer himself thinks that when the Mesopotamians spoke of Dilmun they had in mind India and the proto-Indian civilisation, with its cult of water, its navigation and its tamed elephants.
Further investigations, however, may well lead us to re-examine the question of where Dilmun was situated. The location may have to be shifted southwards as well as eastwards of the delta of the Tigris and Euphrates, out into the Indian Ocean. This question cannot be answered until the floor of the Indian Ocean is thoroughly explored and the hieroglyphic texts written by those who created the proto-Indian civilization are deciphered. (The word Dilmun, in Kramer’s opinion, is an Ubaid rather than Sumerian word, and if the proto-Indians called their country Dilmun there are chances of finding that name in inscriptions on seals or amulets.) Here, too, in their study of the origin of the earliest civilisations of Mesopotamia and India scholars will be assisted not only by archeology, anthropology, linguistics and the deciphering of early writings, but also by a science as far removed from all that as oceanology.
Egypt: Riddles That Outdate the Sphinx
Oceanology may also help to clarify the origin of one of the world’s oldest civilisations, the Egyptian. Ever since the Egyptian hieroglyphics were deciphered fifty years ago many Egyptian secrets have been unravelled, including the riddle of the sphinx, a monster with the face of a pharaoh of the Old Kingdom. But the roots of Egypt’s culture, the origin of her hieroglyphics and the factors behind her “leap forward” from a primitive culture to a high level of civilisation some 6,000 years ago are still a mystery. While the riddle of the sphinx has been solved, what Egypt was like before she had either sphinxes or pyramids remains unknown.
Finds in the Sahara Desert offer conclusive evidence that in the eighth, seventh, sixth and fifth millennia Egypt was not a centre of civilisation but merely a province of a Stone Age culture that was dispersed over a large area in North Africa. A comparison of rock drawings in the Nile Valley earlier than 4,000 BC. with the paintings of Tassili Fezzan and other areas in the Sahara show that Egyptian art in that period was “provincial” both from the point of view of technique and aesthetic merit. Later, the fertile Sahara turned into a desert, the “centre” perished, and the Nile Valley, suddenly emerged from the age of stone into the age of metal, from a primitive culture to a civilisation with writing, a state machinery, priests and officials, a system of irrigation cities and the rest.
What enabled the Nile Valley dwellers to make this great advance? And was that civilisation created by the indigenous population or by newcomers? An enormous number of facts collected by scientists, from archeologists to botanists, show that the Egyptian civilisation is autochthonous, that it grew out of the local Stone Age cultures. Nevertheless, there are blank spots. There are fields in which one cannot trace a direct line of continuity between Egypt’s Neolithic era and the high civilisation that followed it.
Take Egyptian hieroglyphics. A written language is one of the major attributes of civilisation. Stone Age tribes and peoples did not need scripts; pictographs sufficed. But as states arose, writing was needed to record chronicles, myths and traditions and, most important, to keep business accounts and records. In Mesopotamia and ancient China we can trace the slow and laborious process by which a pictorial graphic system was developed into a system of writing, in other words, the conversion of pictures into symbols. But we cannot do this in Egypt. From the numerous rock drawings discovered by archeologists in the Nile Valley we know that the ancient Egyptians were familiar with the “language of drawings’’. But although the number of Egyptian written records is immense no one has been lucky enough so far to find the “missing link” that would show how picture characters developed into the characters of writing.
Sheets of slate found in Egypt’s oldest cities are covered with picture characters and drawings of genre scenes. This is still pictography. But we find that later texts are in a fully developed script. As a matter of fact, this writing was so well developed that the inhabitants of the Nile Valley used jt without any substantial changes for more than 3,000 years.
Egypt’s earliest literary monuments are texts drawn on the inner walls of the pyramids of pharaohs of the fifth and sixth dynasties. They are about 5,000 years old. These texts, in the words of Academician Turayev, an eminent Russian Egyptologist, “are probably man’s earliest religious literature” and “among the most important monuments of the human race”. While the texts are written in a very ancient language the writing itself cannot be called archaic. It corresponds to the “classical” canon, to the graphic system which the ancient Egyptians used throughout their history. We find no traces of searching, testing or imperfection in the pyramid writing itself, although the language and content of the texts take us for back into remote antiquity. The writing is beautifully adapted to the language which it records, and it is so advanced that complex religious and philosophical ideas can be expressed by it. By comparison, in Mesopotamia the earliest written records are primitive household accounts. Only many centuries later, after long quests, did Sumerian writing become a medium for expressing religious and philosophical ideas.
History abounds in examples of a country borrowing the system of writing used by another civilisation and people, with changes to make it suitable for its own language, of course. Many peoples in the Near East, for instance, used Mesopotamia cuneiform; the Greek alphabet is the basis of the Coptic, Slavic and Etruscan alphabets; the Japanese originally used Chinese writing. Is it possible, then that the Egyptians borrowed their writing from another people?
Many Egyptian hieroglyphics look like the pictorial characters of scripts used on the Island of Crete. But the Cretan civilisation came later than the Egyptian. Egyptian writing might have had an influence on Cretan writing, but hardly the other way round. Although writing appeared in the valley of the Tigris and Euphrates before it appeared in the Nile Valley, the characters of the earliest
Mesopotamian writings are quite unlike Egyptian hieroglyphics, which depict strictly local flora and fauna, local deities and typical features of the ancient culture of the Egyptians.
It is easy to trace an inseparable connection between Egyptian hieroglyphics and Egyptian fine arts; they are based on a common style, a common attitude, a common “model of the world”. Hieroglyphic writing is part and parcel of Egyptian civilisation. Why is it, asks Academician Turayev, that by the time of the pyramids Egyptian writing was fully developed, and there were poetry, belles lettres and scientific and legal literature, but there is no trace of how they all reached that level? There is no single answer to this question.
Many other aspects of Egyptian culture are, like the origin of the writing, debatable, hypothetical or unknown. Egypt’s civilisation arose on soil created by the Neolithic era, and many things about that period are still unknown. In her monograph Egypt Before the Pharaohs, Soviet scholar H. Kink points out that we cannot say anything definite about the origin of the Neolithic era in Egypt, and recent finds indicate there may be unexpected revelations.
The connection between Egypt’s Neolithic period and the ancient cultures of the Sahara is obvious. It is equally obvious that there was some reason why the “leap” from the Stone Age to the Bronze Age, from a primitive society to a civilisation, took place in the Nile Valley. Could it be that the reason lies not so much in the physical features of the region as in some external stimulating factor? Is it possible that all four of the earliest civilizations- the Egyptian, Ubaid-Sumerian, Elamite and Dravidian-proto-Indian - originated in one place, in Lemuria? If oceanography confirms the existence, in the Indian Ocean, of land that subsided several thousand years ago many pages of man’s earliest history will have to be rewritten. After all, the history of ancient Greece had to be re-examined after the discoveries of Schliemann and Evans, and the history of ancient India after the excavations of proto indian cities.
Soviet archeology may well be on the verge of the discovery, on the territory of Southern Turkmenia, of a civilisation that is as old as the proto-Indian Elamite cultures. This civilisation may also have originated in Lemuria. Excavations carried out in recent years in Southern Turkmenia show that cities, temples, fortress walls and high towers were built there some 5,000 years ago. Terra-cotta statuettes found in occupational levels laid down in the third arid second millennia B.C amazingly resemble statuettes found in Mesopotamia during excavations of the Ubaid culture.
South Turkmenian statuettes of the second millennium and even the third millennium B.C. are inscribed with characters similar to the proto-writing of the Sumerians, Elamites and inhabitants of the Indian subcontinent. So far only slightly more than 20 South Turkmenian heiroglyphics have been brought to light. Since their shape is conventionalised and sketchy, it is not surprising that some are similar to characters in other scripts. But take, for example, the fact that a star with eight points is found on South Turkmenian statuettes and also in proto-Sumerian writing, where it means “deity” or “sky”. This could hardly be just a coincidence since a star is usually depicted as having five or six points. There is no doubt about the similarity between other Southern Turknienian hieroglyphics and characters in the proto-Sumerian, protoIndian and particularly, proto-Elamite scripts. Evidently there are common features and common roots.
It would be premature to assert that a proto-Turkmenian script existed more than 4,000 years ago, at the time of the proto-Sumerian, proto-Elamite and proto-lndic writings. Not a single connected text in ‘~South Turkmenian hieroglyhics has as yet been found, all we have are separate character~ ~ groups of symbols.
The assumption that writing was developing in Southern Turkmenia on the same pictorial basis as in Mestopotamia, Elam and India offers the best explanation of the similarity. If writing in Turkmenia had been borrowed ready-made from Mesopotamia or Elam we would find finished texts and not the “attempts at writing” that are to be seen on the statuettes.
A thin terra-cottu. slab with three different characters, one of which is repeated four times, was discovered recently in one of the earliest cities In Southern Turkmenia. The whole thing, says historian V. Masson, reminds one of ~n exercise written by a child who
is trying hard to learn letters of the alphabet. A local archaic system of writing may have been developing there.
Future excavations may show how far this process went. Did the inhabitants of ancient Turkmenistan create a writing of their own? (Discovery of “clay books” on the territory of the Soviet Union would be a major archeological event of the century.) Or did they remain in the initial stages of the development of writing? In the middle of the second millennium B. C. the ancient cities in Southern Turkmenian declined and were abandoned by the inhabitants. The South Turkrmenian civilisation perished at about the same time as the proto-Indian, arid the reasons are still unknown.
Among the items in a hoard discovered in the wall of a house when archeologists from Ashkhabad excavated the ancient South Turkmenian town of Altyn-Depe in 1960 were three elongated pieces of ivory with circles carved on them. Identical pieces were found during excavations of proto-Indian cities. We know from ancient Indian texts of a later period that the ivory pieces were used in fortune-telling (the fortune-teller studied the combination of circles on the ivory pieces after they had been tossed into the air and had fallen to the ground). Were there trade contacts with India? Did the peoples of the South Turkmenian and proto-Indian cultures have similar religious beliefs? Or did these peoples perhaps originate from the same stock?
An analysis of the skulls and skeletons of ancient dwellers of Southern Turkmenia shows that anthropologically they were closest of all to the proto-Indians who, in their turn, were close to the Ubaids. It is doubtful whether, in those remote times, there was a mass migration of proto-Indians into Turkmenia or of Ubaids into India. It is more likely that in the fourth and third millennia B. C. people with cognate languages and cultures and with a physical resemblance migrated northwards into the valley of the Indus, into the valley of the Tigris and Euphrates, into Elam and then on to the shores of the Persian Gulf, along the Zagros Mountains into the depths of Iran, and farther into Southern Turkmenja. In all these places the newcomers mingled with the local population and as a result there arose the Sumerian, proto-Indian, Elamite and South Turkrnenian civilsations. (This would also explain the local distinctions of those ancient cultures.) Perhaps
a branch of those “newcomers from the south” reached the Red Sea and the Nile Valley where, mixing with the native population, it gave rise to the ancient Egyptian civilisation. Since the role of the African population here was very great, EgyDtian culture differed substantially from the cognate proto-Indian, Sumerian, Elamite and South Turkmenian cultures.
Was Lemuria the cradle of our oldest civilisations? Was it wiped out suddenly? Can information about it be found in ancient sources?
Islands in the Indian Ocean-1
Daring proto-indian seafarers voyaged in the Indian Ocean 5,000 yerrs ago. The beginnings of Arab navigation evidently also go back as far as that. The Egyptians of antiquity likewise sailed in the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. Later, Greek sailors ventured out onto trade routes in the Indian Ocean. In all ancient records - Arab, Egyptian, Greek and Roman - we find mention of rich and fabulous lands and islands in the Indian Ocean.
Papyrus No. 1115 in the collection of the Hermitage Museum in Leningrad contains one of the most remarkable literary monuments of ancient Egypt. This is a tale told by a ship-wrecked sailor, and it was brought to the attention of the world by the Russian Egyptologist V. Golenishchev, who translated it in 1881, adding a commentary in which he compared the story with Homer’s Odyssey, the Arabian Nights tales about the voyages of Sindbad the Sailor, and stories from the Bible. Since then the tale of the shipwrecked sailor has been translated into many languages and has been subjected to thorough linguistic, historical and literary analysis. It is used as study material in almost all courses in ancient Egyptian history. Nevertheless, the tale contains many unclear and debatable points.
It is the story of a voyage in the Red sea and the Indian Ocean made by a crew of Egypt’s finest sailors in a ship 120 cubits long and 40 cubits wide. The vessel was overtaken by a storm in the open sea and sank. The only survivor was the narrator, who was thrown ashore on an island.
The catsaway’s first three days were spent in solitude. Exploring the island, he found figs, grapes, onions and other fruit and vegetables, as well as a variety of fish and birds. Soon he encountered the ruler of that bounteous land, an enormous serpent with a beard, a body clad in gold, and eyebrows of lazulite. When the sailor told the serpent the story of his misadventures the latter made him welcome on the island. He showered the sailor with rich gifts- giraffes, ivory, cinnamon and perfumes - and sent him home to Egypt in a ship, saying in farewell: “After you depart from this place you will never see it again, for it will turn into waves.”
Although it resembles a fairy-tale the story of the shipwrecked sailor is undoubtedly based on a certain amount of fact. What island in the Red Sea or the Indian Ocean can be identified as the domain of the bearded serpent? Golenishchev thinks it is the Island of Socotra in the Indian Ocean, near the entrance to the Gulf of Aden. Other scholars identify it with the Island of’ St. John, in the Red Sea, in antiquity believed to have once been inhabited by snakes, or with a small island near Aden which the Arabs call Abu-Haban, meaning “Father of Snakes”. The Soviet Egyptologist Y. Max imov, who made the latest translation of the tale into Russian, feels that it is impossible to identify the- island precisely or even approximately, since it “has been endowed with the typical features of a promised land, the paradise of the blessed, to which man has striven in his thoughts since ancient times and has sometimes actually tried to reach”.
The inhabitants of Mesopotamia endowed the land of Dilmun with the characteristics of a “promised land”. The elements of fantasy do not mean that the island itself was invented. The mention of the island “turning into waves” prompts us to take a somewhat different approach than the one of the Egyptologist or the folklorist. Could the story of the shipwrecked sailor be an echo of the drowning of some actual island or large land mass in the Indian Ocean?
Fabulously rich islands with social systems differing from those prevailing in the ancient world are mentioned in several written records. First of all, Sun Island and the Panhala Islands in the Indian Ocean. The second book of Diodorus’ Historial Library describes a man named Jambul whom Ethiopians brought to Sun Island after four months of sailing through stormy seas4 The island was about 5,000 stadia (1,000 kilo metres) in circumference. It was situated on the equator, for “the day there was always as long as the night, and
not a single object cast a shadow at noon because the sun was in its zenith” The land supplied the inhabitants with everything they needed. They lived to a ripe old age - some of them as long as 150 years and were never ill. “There was no rivalry among them; they did not experience social discord, for they highly prized internal law and order.” The people of Sun island had a fine knowledge of the “science of the stars”. Their writing ran vertically, in columns, from top to bottom.
This last piece of information has led to the hypothesis that Sun Island was Madagascar, since the writing on Madagascar was unique in that the lines went from top to bottom, like in Japanese and Chinese. The German scholar Christian Lassen, however, thought it was the Island of Bali in Indonesia. George Thomson, the English historian, believed the story of the happy island to be simply another utopia, a rather naive tale reflecting some of the rumours about Ceylon that had reached ancient Greece.
The description of Sun Island undoubtedly sounds something like a fairy-tale about a Golden Age and a kingdom of equality and justice. A number of points, though, prompt the thought that this was not merely another mythical island. It is unlikely that such a realistic detail as vertical writing could have been thought up; such a method of writing was unknown to the ancient world. Then, in setting forth Jambul’s story, Diodorus was dismayed that Sun Island had a mild climate although it was situated on the equator; ancient theories about the climate claimed the torrid zone to be uninhabited because of the frightful heat. The mention of a mild climate on a tropical island corresponds to reality. An author wishing to give his tale verisimilitude would hardly have invented a detail so improbable from the viewpoint of the man of antiquity.
Islands in the Indian Ocean-2
Diodorus also describes the three Panhaia Islands discovered in the Indian Ocean by a seafarer named Euhemerus. The islands had many towns, remarkably fertile soil and abounded in game. Diodorus wrote: “The people are warlike and employ war chariots in the old style. Politically they arc divided into three groups; priests and artisans, tillers of the soil, and warriors and shepherds. The priests rule in all matters; they settle disputes and guide public affairs~. No one owns any property except his house and garden. Everything that is earned goes to the priests, who divide it all justly, giving eac
his share. The priests, however, receive twice as much as the others.”
While noting that the sober tone in which the islands and their inhabitants are described might appear to be convincing, Professor Thomson thinks it is an invention. He claims that Euhemerus took the picturesque details from all kinds of places he had heard about, including Ceylon.
Most historians of geographical discoveries believe Ceylon to be the place that was known to the Greeks and Romans as Taprobane. But there are many features in the description of Taprobane that do not correspond to what we know about Ceylon. Taprobane is mentioned in very old sources. Hipparchus noted that no one had as yet circumnavigated Taprobane, so that it might very well have not been an island but “the beginning of another world”, the northern edge of the lands of “those living opposite”.
Although Ceylon is situated close to India the Greek geographer Strabo said it took seven days to sail from the southern tip of India to Taprobane. Another author of antiquity spoke of twenty days, pointing out that there was a large number of other islands between India and Taprobane, Taprobane being the southernmost landmass The famous Pliny gave the number of days as four (likewise far too much for the actual distance between India and Ceylon), pointing out that Sun Island stood half way between Inda and Taprobane.
According to geographers or antiquity, there were 500 towns on Taprobane (ancient Ceylon did not have so many); the area of Taprobane, as described in their writings, -is several times that of Ceylon. Pliny said that on Taprobane the shadows felt to the south instead of the north, and the sun rose 0:1 the left and set on the right. This means the island was in the Southern Hemisphere. Yet Ceylon is situated roughly between 50 and 9 deg.N!
Pliny cited the accounts related by a freedman named Anithis Plokam, who lived in the first century AD. Not long ago archeologists working on the shore of the Red Sea found inscrlptions in Greek and Latin made by freedman Annius Plo karn and dating back to the first century A. D. This might mean that the Taprobane which Plokam visited was not Ceylon but an island in the Indian Ocea
several days’ sailing from the coast of India, arid now lying at the bottom of the ocean.
The descriptions of fabulously rich islands that are found in the writings of medieval Arab geographers echo the ideas of antiquity. They also include information obtained from daring Arab traders and navigators who sailed the Indian Ocean, as well as details reported by the earliest seafarers of Yemen and South Arabia, who mastered the art of navigation 6,000 years ago.
According to Arab geographers, there were 1,370 islands in the Indian Ocean, and Serendib, as they called Taprobane, was ringed by 59 inhabited islands. They said that Serendib, situated “at the very edge of the Indian Ocean”, was almost 5,000 kilometres in circumference, with high mountains and numerous rivers. Rubies and sapphires were mined there.
Does the information furnished by the Arab scholars relate to several thousand years ago or is it merely a reworking of the writings of ancient geographers? Perhaps, despite their fairy-tale, utopian features, the descriptions of the Sumerian Dilmun, of the Egyptian Father of Serpents Island, of Sun Island, the Panhaia Islands and Taprobane by Greek and Roman scholars, and of Serendib by Arab geographers all have a rational kernel. Perhaps they are the people’s memory of the rich, inhabited land with which the Tamils, who spoke Dravidian, the language of the proto Indians, and the Ubaids, and maybe also the Elamites and the Badarians who produced the Egyptian civilisation, linked up their origin. Is the mysterious land mass in the Indian Ocean simply fruit of the imagination, a “promised land”? Or did this land, so frequently mentioned in so many different sources and among so many different peoples, actually exist? The answer can only be provided by further exploration of the Indian Ocean, until now the least studied of the oceans.
The Least Studied Ocean-1
The Indian Ocean and its seas have an area of 75,OOO,000 square kilometres, or about one-fifth of the area of the World Ocean. The first study of the waters and bed relief of the Indian Ocean was made about a century ago by an oceanographic expedition aboard the ship Challenger. In 1886 an expedition on board German ship Base! worked in the southern part of the ocean, while another, on board the Russian ship Vityaz under Admiral Makarov, conducted extensive surveys in the northern part. Russian, British, German and American expeditions explored the Indian Ocean in the years that followed. However, a multipurpose study began only in 1960, when American, French and Soviet research vessels mapped the main features of the ocean bottom.
The first thing that strikes you on the undersea map is an enormous mountain range, the Mid-Indian Ridge, averaging two and a half kilometres in height. A continuation of two other mid-oceanic ridges, the Atlantic and the South Pacific, the Mid-Indian Ridge stretches from the Arabian Peninsula to Amsterdam Island.
While the Mid-Atlantic Ridge was discovered in the middle of the last century, the contours of the Mid-Indian Ridge were established not more than a decade or so ago, after the International Geophysical Year programme and detailed studies by an international Indian Ocean expedition that completed its work in 1964.
This is not the only mountainous region on the bottom of the Indian Ocean. The first ridge to be discovered there was the Maldive, whose peaks rising above the surface, are the Laccadive, Maldive and Chagos islands. A few dozen years ago it was believed to be the only ridge in the Indian Ocean. After the contours of the Mid-Indian Ridge were established, the Maldive Ridge was “joined” to it as one of its parts, along with the Kerguelen Plateau, whose above water peaks are Kerguelen Island and Heard Island, topped by an active volcano three kilometers high. But more recent oceanographic research has shown that the Maldive Ridge ends at the Tropic of Capricorn and bears no relation to the Mid-Indian Ridge. Neither does the Kerguelen Plateau. Both are independent under-water mountainous regions.
Another submarine range, starting in the Bay of Bengal was discovered only recently and has been named the East Indian Ridge. A spur at its southern end, running towards Australia is known as the West Australian Ridge. Still another newly-discovered under water range is the Lanka Ridge, situated a thousand kilometers from Ceylon. Soviet scientists aboard the research ship Vityaz found a big underwater mountain which they named Mt Afanasy Nikitin in honour of the 16th century traveller who was the first Russian to visit India. Perhaps the most interesting discovery, though, from the viewpoint of the present book, is that of a micro-continent in the Indian Ocean.
Oceanographers have given the name “micro-continent” to an elevation isolated from a continent but whose structure is nevertheless similar to the structure of the continent. New Zealand and the floor of an extensive area east of it in the Pacific are known as a micro-continent. The underwater Kerguelen Plateau and Kerguelen Island in the antartic section of the Indian Ocean may also be called a micro-continent. In the north western section of the Indian Ocean there is another micro-continent, the Seychelles, which includes the Seychelles Islands and the northern part of the underwater Mascarene Ridge (shaped like an arc bulging to the east); in the north the above water top of the ridge forms the Seychelles Islands and in the south the Mascarene Islands.
Most of the Seychelles Islands arc of granite believed to be 650 million years old. The really remarkable thing, though, is that the continental crust both on the islands themselves and in the adjoining underwater regions is not connected with the submarine fringe of the African continent. In other words, the Seychelles micro-continent is not a fragment of Africa but is an independent geological formation. Could it be the remains of Gondwanaland? Or are the Seychelles Islands the last remnants of Lernuria? But if so, why have no traces of an early civilisation been found there?
Oceonographers may be right when they say that this portion of the Indian Ocean is an ancient area in transition and has not yet completed its development. That is, the Seychelles micro-continent is not a region which has subsided but, on the contrary, a portion of the ocean floor which has not yet risen to the surface. Neither a positive nor negative answer can yet be given to this question. We sha1l have to wait and see what is revealed by further geophysical and oceanographic studies of the Indian Ocean, now only in their initial stage.
The Least Studied Ocean-2
Oceanographers, geologists and geophysicists are devoting their closest attention to the north-western section of the Indian Ocean, which has the most complex relief and where the earth’s crust is still
in motion, as evidenced by volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. Many of them believe that this part of the ocean has developed differently from all the other sections. The granite massifs of East Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and the Indian subcontinent continue out into the Indian Ocean.
Zoologists have long since noted the remarkable similarity between the animal worlds of Madagascar and the Indian subcontinent. Wegener and other supporters of the theory of continental drift think that Madagascar and India were once situated side by side as parts of a single parent continent, Gondwanaland. Others believe that India and Madagascar were once connected by a land bridge, Lemuria.
Lemuria, they say, began to subside long before Homo sapiens appeared on the scene. It must have been a slow process as one section of land disappeared after another beneath the waves. First the continuous solid arc between Madagascar and the Indian subcontinent was broken, and then individual islands and islets, the remnants of Lemuria, started to sink. The subsidence may still have been going on until recent times, geologically speaking, possibly within the memory of man.
Is the origin of two of our earliest civilisations, the proto-Indian and the Mesopotamian, connected with “geological Lemuria”? If so, in what way? What is the relation between the Lemuria spoken of by medieval Tamil writers and the hypothetical country that once connected Madagascar with India? Why do authors of antiquity claim that India and Africa were once connected by a land bridge? We ourselves learned of this fairly recently, through advances in geology and oceanography, sciences about which the Greeks and the Romans knew nothing. Numerous islands in the Indian Ocean are repeatedly mentioned by geographers of antiquity and Arab geographers but have not been identified with any of the known islands in the Indian Ocean. Are they the last remnants of Lemuria, now at the bottom of the ocean?
Is there any facutal basis for the legends about an underwater castle “in the depths of the Green Waters” that have been recorded among the Malagasy who live in the environs of Diego Suarez, a harbour and town near the northern end of Madagacar?
How can the affinities which several linguists have found between the Dravidian languages and a number of languages spoken in East Africa be explained ?
Did the original home of the Dravidians sink to the bottom of the Indian Ocean, as Tamil authors maintain? Did the proto-Dravidians migrate to the shores of Africa, as well as north-wards, to the shores of India and the Persian Gulf? All that is possible, for the origin of many ancient East African civilisatinos, with their towns and ports, is still a mystery to archeologists and historians.
The Fall of Mohenjo-Daro
Those are questions which only underwater archeology can answer. Near the city of Trincomalee, in the warm waters that wash Ceylon, scuba divers have found sunken monuments of various civilisations. It is quite possible that underwater archeologists may discover the capital of the proto-Indian civilisation. About 100 towns and settlements relating to India’s earliest culture are now known to science. The two largest, Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa, on the banks of the Indus, are about equal in size and in other features. Does this mean that the real capital has not yet been found? Does it mean the capital should be sought not on land but under water?
Near the delta of the Indus there is a broad coastal shelf lying at a depth of roughly one hundred metres. It is almost as wide as the vast delta of the Indus, and a submarine canyon runs through it, showing that the Indus must have been much longer than it is today. This area may have sunk to the ocean floor ‘within a very brief period, as a result of an earthquake’. Such things have happened several times in that area.
Authors of antiquity speak of natural calamities in the Indus Valley. Strabo, the Greek geographer, cites, in his Geography, the evidence of Aristobulus, who says that he found, while on a mission a country of more than 1,000 towns and localities which had been abandoned by its inhabitants because the Indus had swerved away from its channel and turned left into a much deeper channel, through which it rushed like cataract. Many centuries later scientists confirmed this.
The chief confirmation has come not from archeologists but from a team of hydrologists and geologists under the American researcher D. Rakes. They have established that a site 140 kilometres south of Mohenjo Daro was once the epicentre of a gigantic earthquake which transformed that part of the Indus Valley beyond recognition. The tremors threw up piles of rock that blocked the mighty Indus and forced it to retreat. Torrents of mud turned the river into a shallow, swampy lake which inundated the valley. The numerous communities near Mohenjo-Daro were buried beneath a layer of sand and silt many metres deep.
Mohenjo-Daro was flooded more than five times, yet it rose from its ruins again and again. Each onslaught by the sea of mud must have lasted about 100 years, scientists say. A recently discovered stone dam more than ten metres high and twenty metres wide gives an idea of how the proto-Indians countered the forces of nature. Elemental disasters were the reason why the proto Indian civilisation perished, say Pakistani archeologists and scientists from the University of Pennsylvania in the United States. Since proto-Indians had to devote all their energies to battling with the elements they were unable to stand up to pressure from the nomads. Their civilisation declined and disintegrated.
The structure of the ruins of Lothal, the oldest port in the world, found by Indian archeologists on the Kathiawar Peninsula, not far from present day Bombay, is remarkably similar to the structure of Mohenjo-Daro, although Lothal is much smaller, once being known as “Mohenjo-Daro in miniature’. Underwater exploration may bring to light “greater Monenjo-Daro”, capital of the proto-Indian civilisation, which once stood on the coast of the Indian Ocean. It will probably be the same type of city as Mohenjo-Daro - well laid out, with broad streets, a sewage system and the like but larger.
When and where the proto-Indian civilisation originated is not yet clear, as we have said. Nor do we know with what still earlier civilisation it was connected. The destruction of the mysterious civilisation on the Indian subcontinent also calls forth many hypotheses and controversies. When did the collapse occur, and why? The American scientist Rakes and those who share his view
believe that a colossal disaster must have swept the civilisation away. Others think the cause was a breakdown in the irrigation system and exhaustion of the soil. Still others presume that the proto-Indian civilisation was wiped off the face of the earth by an invasion of warlike nomad Aryans. Some seek an internal cause, maintaining that the fall of Mohenjo-Daro and other cities was rooted in the slave-holding system and its incurable evils.
Future investigations, including underwater archeological research, will show which of these assumptions is correct. Researchers in diving suits will test the truth of the Indian legends about drowned cities and temples.
According to these legends, Dwarka, one of the seven sacred Cities of ancient India, was situated in what is now the Bombay area, and -was swallowed up by~ the ocean seven days after the death of Krishna, the incarnation of the great god Vishnu~. On the Bay of Bengal, 80 kilometres south of Madras, stands the ancient Dravidian seaport of Mababalipuram, famous two thousand years ago for its size; ships from all over the world anchored there. Monoliths, caves and temples of granite, and magnificent statues carved on granite hillsides have made Mahabalipuram famous in the history of world art. For centuries waves have beaten against the beautiful Mahabalipuram temple that stands on the edge of the Bay of Bengal, destroying the buildings around the temple and covering them with sand. Legends say that another six temples stood beside this temple, but they have all been swallowed up by the waves.
Will the legends be confirmed? Will underwater exploration bring new monuments of India’s ancient culture to light? Perhaps archeologists will have the good fortune to find traces of an earlier civilisation, the proto-Indian. Or perhaps the floor of the Indian Ocean contains traces of a still earlier culture, proceeding the proto-Indian.
Deities of the Proto-Indians
Regardless of what caused the decline of the proto-Indian culture, it is clear to modern historians that many of its achievements were adopted by its successors, the warlike Aryan nomad tribes which appeared on the scene in the middle of the second millennium B.C. These included the cultivation of wheat, barley, peas, flax and cotton; cultivation of the date palm; pottery; sewage systems and town planning; domestication of the zebu, an Asiatic breed of humped cattle, and the elephant; the principles of agriculture and shipbuilding.
It was natural that the Aryans also borrowed a great many intellectual values from the proto-Indians. Decimal numeration was invented in India-not by the Aryans but by the proto-Indians, whose merchants and mathematicians were using it several dozen centuries before the Aryan invasion. There is no doubt that the religion and mythology of the proto-Indians influenced the religion of the Aryan conquerors.
True, this was a complicated process. The first period in the history of Aryan India was marked by the undivided rule of Brahman priests who called themselves living gods and stood above the rulers, including the most powerful kings. The conquered peoples continued to adhere to their religious beliefs in secret. But a far-reaching spiritual crisis in the sixth century B.C. brought these beliefs out into the open, and they lay at the foundation of three new religions, Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism, which replaced Brahmanism.
The earliest Aryan literary monument, the .Rig-Veda, lists a large number of gods, personifications of the wind, water, fire, storm clouds, drought and other elements. Later, Brahman scholars proclaimed Brahma, the ultimate creator of all being, to be the supreme deity. In Hinduism, Brahma is only an amorphous creator, while Vishnu and Siva are in the forefront. Siva, especially revered among the Dravidians of South India, was called “the god that has engulfed the universe”, a “luminary beyond the cognition of Brahma and Vishnu’, the “god of gods”, the “First”, the “creator of the Vedas” (a collection of Hindu sacred writings), the “chief god of the immortals”, and so on and so forth. Siva was set apart from the rest of the gods in the vast pantheon of the sacred Vedas, and was called “he who stands alone”.
Indologists believe that the Siva cult absorbed a large number of the ancient cults which existed among the population of the
Indian subcontinent before the arrival of the tribes of nomad Aryans who created the Vedic hymns and gods. Excavations of protoIndian towns have shown that the worshippers of Siva were right in considering their god ‘,older than the Vedas”, for the proto-Indians worshipped a deity that was undoubtedly Siva’s prototype.
Probably the most interesting portrait found on proto-Indian seals is that of a multifaced deity surrounded by animals. The god is seated on a throne with his legs crossed in a yoga posture, which means that yoga was practised in India long before Patanjali, known as the Father of Yoga, and that the epithet “Yogeswara” or Lord of the Yogi, which the followers of Siva bestowed on their god, was justified. The arms of the deity are hung with bracelets, and he wears a fantastic, fan-shaped headdress crowned with buffalo horns. He is surrounded by an elephant, a tigress, two antelopes, a rhinoceros and a buffalo.
John Marshall, the British archeologist who led the team excavating Mohenjo-Daro, established that the figure of the deity was a representation of Siva in the aspect of Pasupati, “Ruler of the Beasts”. It has long been assumed that the Siva cult is one of the oldest in India, going back to prehistoric times, and the above interpretation of the figure on the amulet-seal confirms this. It should not be thought, however, that the deity worshipped by people of the Harappa culture (that is, the proto-Indians) was also called Siva. Siva is merely one of the names by which this deity is known in our day. Siva has more than a thousand names, they say, the majority of which reflect his different functions.
Siva’s wife, considered the female embodiment of this ubiquitous god, has just as many names. She is worshipped in all kinds of places in India and in the most diverse aspects, from the gracious beauty Uma to the savage destroyer Kali, who wears a garland and wreath of human skulls. The cult of this Mahadeva (Great Goddess) can be traced back to the matriarchate, in the deepest antiquity. It was widespread among the proto-Indians, as we can see from drawings on seals from Mohenjo-Daro and other cities. An analysis of hieroglyphic inscriptions left by the proto-Indians indicates that the husband and wife, the “proto-Siva” and the “Great Goddess”, were the supreme deities in the proto-Indian pantheon.
In a small pamphlet published in 1965 in which he analyses the hieroglyphics and other historical records; the Indian scholar Radj Mohan Nath draws the conclusion that the sign of the trident (with five prongs instead of three) combined with the sign of the fish conveys the title of the chief god Siva, called the “Maha Machli” or “Great Fish”. Soviet scholars reached the same conclusion, independently of Radj Mohan Nath, in the same year, using statistical methods. According to the theory of probability, a combination of these signs should occur by chance only two or three times in the proto-Tndian texts. Actually, they have been found 58 times, which means the combination is a set expression, evidently some sort of title or appellation.
The five-pronged trident is found together with a sign representing a female figure. This also seems to be a set combination, for it has been met with several dozen times, although according to the theory of probability it should occur only once or twice. “Mahadeva”, meaning “Great Goddess”, the wife of Siva, is a common appellation. Most probably, the five-pronged trident conveys the meaning of “great”, and combined with the picture of a fish or a woman signifies the title “Great Fish” and “Great Woman” (or “Great Goddess”), the titles of the supreme deities of the proto-Jndians.
Proto-Indian texts have been deciphered by computer by a team of Finnish researchers, who in 1969 reported on their work in a paper that shares the conclusions reached by Soviet researchers. The Finnish scientists did not know about Radj Nath’s pamphlet, nor had they seen publications about the Soviet studies. Yet all three teams of scientists have arrived at the conclusion that the proto-Indian texts contain the names “Great Fish” and “Great Goddess”. The names, o course, were not Maha Machli and Mahadeva, which names are Sanskrit loan translations from the proto-Indian.
The Secrets of Tantra
Very few pro to-Indian texts have come down to us, it is unlikely that we would learn much of value about the origin of the
proto-Indian civilisation from them, even if’ we should succeed in deciphering them. However, many proto-Indian riddles can be solved by studying other written records, the Tantric scriptures.
The word “tantra” means, literally’ “fabric”, ‘interlacement” or ‘warp”. The Tantric symbols and drawings discovered in India date back to the Paleolithc period. The Tantric scriptures may have been developed and systematised by proto-Indian priests, for a large number of proto-Indian signs and symbols are identical with the Tantric. Siva and his wife, the “Great Goddess”, are the supreme deities of the Tantrists, as they probably were of the proto-Indians. Tantric scriptures are held to be “older than the Vedas”. They emerged, says the Tantric teaching, from the “main” lips of the great Siva and hence are the ‘Fifth Veda”. The Brahmans, the Aryan priests, idolised the four Veda collections. The “Fifth Veda” is not Aryan but probably proto-Indian in origin.
Unfortunately, far from all the Tantric scriptures in India have come down to us. Many have been lost, and only fragments of others have survived. The Moslem conquest of Northern and Central India likewise substantially depleted the “Tantric library”. Paradoxically, the key to Indian Tantrism (and possibly to the proto-Indian mystery itself) has to be sought outside India, in the Himalayas, Tibet and Central Asia. There, a great number of compositions by Indian Tantrists have been preserved in “Buddhist garb”, in translations into the Tibetan language. While only several score Tantric scriptures written in Sanskrjt have come down to us, the Buddhist canon Kangur, written in Sanskrit, which exists only in Tibetan translations, contains about a thousand Tantric scriptures attributed to Buddha. The number in the Tangur, a collection of commentaries on the teaching of Buddha, exceeds three thousand. The overwhelming majority of the authors of the Tangur are Indian Tantrists.
Buddhists and other scholars in many countries have not yet reached a unanimous opinion on what the original teaching of the deified Gautama Buddha, the Shakya Muni, represented. Was it purely religious or was it moral and ethical? Was Buddha himself an historical person-age like Mohammed, the Moslem prophet, or was he a mythical figure, like Osiris, the Egyptian god?
Several centuries after Buddha’s death his teaching split into three doctrines, three “vehicles”, three paths which have to be followed if man is to transcend suffering and attain nirvana, the final beatitude. The Hinayana, or Little Vehicle, spread through South-East Asia, and millions of people in Burma, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Ceylon and South Vietnam profess this earlier form of Buddhism. The Mahayana, or Great Vehicle, first spread into Central Asia (Soviet archeologists have found the ruins of Buddhist temples there) and then into China, Japan, Korea, Nepal, Tibet, Mongolia and the Buryat and Kalmyk areas. From the Mahayana there later branched off the Tantra Vehicle, whose exponents, the Siddhi, or those who have attained perfection, showed their followers the shortest and quickest way to attain nirvana,
Although Buddhist Tantrism was born in India, all three “vehicles of Buddha” abandoned their homeland after the Moslems conquered a large portion of the Indian subcontinent. Today, Buddhist monuments in India are studied through archeological excavations. But scholars can still study the traditions and teaching of Tantra under “natural conditions”, in the small principalities of Sikkim and Bhutan on the slopes of the Himalayas, for the Indian sage Padma-Sambhava brought Tantrism to the Himalayas in eighth century.
Until the mid-sixties of the present century splendid works of art and philosophical thought connected with Tantrism were unknown to the world. Just recently a book on Himalayan art by the Indian art scholar M. Singh appeared under UNESCO sponsorship. Assistance from the governments of Nepal and India, and the co-operation of the Dalai Lama, Buddhist leaders preaching Mahayana, and the local authorities of Sikkim and Bhutan enabled Singh to visit the most outlying monasteries and introduce the world to masterpieces whose reproduction had been strictly forbidden. Now it is the turn of’ philologists, historians and philosophers. The Tantra scriptures represent a rich field for study. Perhaps they will help to solve the mystery of Lemuria, where the Tantric teaching may have arisen, been developed by the proto-Tndians~ and then carried up above the clouds into the Himalayas.
Soviet scholars do not, however, have to take up mountain climbing and scale Himalayan peaks in order to study Tantric
scriptures. Tantrism was still being taught at monasteries - also a type of medieval university - in the Buryat country, on the territory of the Soviet Union, at the beginning of this century. There are many Tantric scriptures in libraries in Leningrad and Ulan Ude, and their analysis is producing astounding results.
In 1968 the Buryat Branch of the Siberian Department of the USSR Academy of Sciences published its third collection of articles on the history and philology of Central Asia. An article on Buddhist cosmology, contributed by R. Pubayev, noted that besides the traditional doctrine of the world (which does not differ much from the doctrine of a world resting “on three elephants”) Buddhism, particularly Tantric Buddhism, had another view maintaining, for one thing, that our planet was a sphere rotating around its axis. One cannot but agree with the author of the article that this is of undoubted scientific interest.
It is to be hoped that, in addition to exploration of the floor of the Indian Ocean, a field of research so far removed from oceanography as the translation and study of Tantric scriptures will help to throw light on the riddle of Lernuria. (Incidentally, Buddhism believes that man is descended from the apes and that he developed into Homo sapiens on the territory of India, that is, in the region where the earliest remains of man’s ancestors have been found.)
From the Buryat Area to Australia
Lemuria, as we see, is conneected with sciences that range from marine geology to the deciphering of ancient scripts, and, geographically, from the Indian Ocean to the Himalayan Mountains and the Buryat steppes. It may be that Australia and Australian studies are also linked up with Lemurja.
The first student of Australia were struck by the similarity between the Australian aborigines and the dark-skinned Dravidians. How could the likeness be explained? The forefathers of the aborigines could not have migrated from India to Australia across the Indian Ocean in fragile boats or on rafts. A hypothesis claimed that since the Australians are not listed among the peoples descended from the Sons of Noah they, like the American Indians, were created by God separately- the Australians in Australia, the Red Indians in the New World - and were settled for good on those lands. Such an explanation did not, naturally, satisfy the scientists. “The theory that man existed before Adam was invented with the aim of refuting the idea of the fraternity of all races and to justify the crimes of the colonialists,” says V. Kabo, a Soviet expert on Australia.
Anthropologists and ethnographers are still carrying on a heated debate about the Dravidian and Australian similarities. Some find them merely superficial, others believe the Australians are the original stock, and still others think that the Indian subcontinent was the birthplace of the Australians. The relation between the Dravidian and Australian languages is also still open to debate. As far back as in 1847 the Australian scholar J. C. Prichard argued that there is a kinship between the Australian languages and the Tamil languages. About a century ago another Australian scholar, William Bleek, showed that the Australian and Dravidian languages have a similar structure. Since then, much has been written about this. A monograph published in 1963, On the History and Structure of the Australian Languages, by N. M. Holmer of Lund, Sweden, shows how the grammar and phonetics of the Dravidian and Australian languages coincide.
But this does not provide sufficient grounds for asserting that the languages are related. The coincidences may be purely superficial. Linguistic and anthropological data are not enough to assert, or deny, that the Australians and Dravidians are related. What do the archeologists say? Excavations carried out in recent years in Australia, India, Pakistan and Ceylon have enabled scientists to study many Stone Age cultures, and have revealed an indisputable resemblance between Australian and Hindustani stone implements. Once again the same question arises; does this resemblance mean there is a relationship or is it purely coincidental? Here ethnograpby, sister of archeology, comes to our aid. Every schoolboy knows that the boomerang is one of the most typical attributes of Australian culture. Yet few people besides the ethnographers know that at the end of the last century the boomerang was found among the tribes of Southern India, and that these tribes spoke languages belonging to the Dravidian family!
Where, then, was the original home of the Dravidians and the Australians? Although not a single discipline has enough facts as yet to declare with certainty that these peoples are related, all the sciences dealing with man - ethnography, archeology, linguistics, and anthropology - possess facts that indicate they had a common land of origin. Information gleaned from different sciences combines to provide fairly convincing evidence that these peoples now separated by the Indian Ocean were once related. Consequently, it is only natural to ask where the common cradle of the inhabitants of Southern India, Ceylon and Australia was situated.
Few scholars nowadays believe that Australia was the birthplace of the Dravidians, to say nothing of man in general, as some anthropologists maintained at the beginning of this century. Most now think that the Australians originated in the Old World, or rather, in Asia; to be more precise, in the countries that lie south of the Himalayas.
But could this “South Asian centre” have been preceded by a still more ancient centre that now lies on the floor of the Indian Ocean?
In 1931 the eminent Soviet ethnographer A. Zolotaryov used oceanographic and geological data in an attempt to solve the “Australian riddle”. There is a resemblance between the inhabitants of Southern India and Australia, he said, because the Indian subcontinent and Australia were at one time much closer to each other but later the continents drifted apart, until the Indian Ocean lay between the Australians and the Dravidians. Zolotaryov based his deductions on Wegener’s theory, which was then popular.
But the opposite hypothesis, also oceanographic and ethnical, may prove to be the correct one. According to this hypothesis, until the end of the Ice Age there were land bridges between India and Australia that enabled tribes of primitive man to communicate. Such bridges could explain why the Dravidian and Australian languages are cognate. They would also explain other relationships that anthropology, ethnography and archeology have discovered. Help in solving the problems which these sciences face may come from oceanography and marine geology, which are now concentrating on a study of the Indian Ocean
Pages from “Chronicles on Rock”
Researchers are employing anthropology, ethnography, linguistics and archeology in their efforts to solve the Australian riddle. But they still lack the most reliable type of information to help them reconstruct the ancient; they do not have the written sources with which historians who study antiquity are used to dealing. Yet although writing appeared in Australia only after the arrival of Europeans, there is a large number of sources left by the Australians that help to shed light on their ancient history. We refer to the thousands of pictures nn rocks found all over Australia. To decipher them is one of the hardest and most fascinating jobs a student of Australia can undertake. Here, too as in everything else concerning the ancient history of Australia, much is hazy, hypothetical and debatable.
First, the age of the drawings. Some scholars believe them to be no more than 150 to 200 years old. Others are inclined to think they date back tens of thousands of years, since there are drawings of extinct animals like giant reptiles and giant marsupials such as the Diprotodon, a rabbit that was the size of a rhinoceros.
Secondly, it is not clear what most of the drawings mean. We do not know the traditions and myths that would help to explain who and what are represented by the enigmatic half-men, half-beasts, roughly outlined figures and geometrical symbols that were the favourite subjects of Australian aboriginal artists.
Thirdly, there is an amazing similarity between the styles of some Australian drawings and those of the pictorial art of other peoples. One Australian style is similar to that of the bushmen of South Africa; another resembles the style of the rock drawings done in Egypt before the time of the Pharaohs, and still another style is similar to that of the Spanish cave paintings of the Stone Age. Is this just a superficial resemblance, or- is it something more? There is no unanimous opinion.
The most heated debates have centred round the Wotidjina pictures, the best-known rock drawings in Australia. They were discovered by George Grey, an early explorer of Australia, in 1838 in the depths of the Kintberley caves in Northwestern Australia. The drawings depict fantastic creatures with nimbuses about their
heads, white faces, no mouths, and bodies covered with long vertical stripes. More pictures of those strange creatures, whom the aborigines call Wondjinas, were found in Australia later.
Grey believed the drawings to be the work of an alien people, probably Malays. Other scholars thought the Wondjina drawings represent ancient Sumerians or Babylonians, Egyptians, Africans, or Greeks. In the present century the Australian ethnographer Elkin produced weighty evidence that the drawings are the work of Australian aborigines, for they still worship the figures in the drawings, touch them up in periods of drought, and believe that the Wondjina heroes rule over water and rain.
Another hypothesis which has appeared in this century maintains that the nimbuses around the heads are stylised depictions of the helmets of astronauts. According to this hypothesis, creatures from outer space are also portrayed in the Tassili frescoes in the Sahara Desert.
This seems farfetched, while Professor Elkin’s hypothesis sounds convincing. Still, it is a hypothesis, not a proven fact. In the mythology of primitive peoples there are dozens of examples of newcomers, standing at a higher cultural level, who became the objects of a cult and were worshipped. (The Europeans who came to Australia were taken to be either the spirits of the deceased or gods.) The connection between the Wondjina drawings and water brings to mind the expanses of the Indian Ocean and Lemuria, which may have drowned in its depths.
Australian legends and myths speak of “ancestors” to whom the aborigines owed their cultural achievements. The mythical “ancestors” or fantastic beings who gave the aborigines weapons and implements came from the north or the north-west, that is, from the direction of the Indian Ocean.
Legends about other people who once inhabited the country are widespread among Australian tribes. Usually they are represented as dwarfs to whom, in some parts of Australia, the cave drawings are attributed. Soviet scholar Kabo thinks the legends are an attempt by contemporary Australians (as well as Palynesians and other peoples) to explain the origin of monumental works of art, structures and so on whose creators are unknown to them.
Pages from “Chronicles on Rock”-2
Who produced the mysterious works that scholars have been trying to decipher for the past century and a half? Were they Australians? Or were they new corners? Although the first specimens of the remarkable art of Australia were discovered many years ago, their study is just beginning. Not even the most famous of the “picture galleries” have been studied in depth. Here is a typical example. Unique drawings of life-size human figures totally different in appearance from the Australians were found on the Arnhem Land Peninsula at the end of last century. They are reminiscent of paintings in the temple of ancient Egypt, says George Bradshaw, who discovered the drawings.
It was really a unique find, yet the drawings have not been visited since! Australia’s cave art is just as unknown to art scholars as the Indian Ocean, whose floor may provide the key to the mysterious drawings, is unknown to oceanographers.
Australian mythology says that the Wondjinas came from the west or the north-west. What is more, they “emerged from the sea”. It is significant that the aborigines attribute the prehistoric megalithic monuments to the Wondjinas. John G. Withnell, an ethnographer who~ wrote a description of the tribes of Northwestern Australia at the beginning of the present century, learned from the local inhabitants that those megalithic monuments1 like the rock drawings of Wondjina heroes, were intended to help to increase the number of children, birds, animals, insects, reptiles, fish and plants. It is possible that the Wondjinas were idolised men who came from the north or the north-west and who built the stone monuments. Later, as has happened repeatedly in other cases, they were worshipped by the Australians and became personages in myths connected with reproduction and fertility rituals (here water is the source of life and vegetation). Prehistoric megalithic structures are found not only in the Kimberley district but also in other parts of Australia. As a rule, they are near the coast of a sea or the ocean. They are similar to megalithic structures on the Mçlanesian islands whose origin is likewise unknown.
According to Thor }leyerdahl1s widely known hypothesis, the large stone structures and stone statues in the eastern part of Oceania (Eastern Island, the Marquesas Islands. etc.) and the technique of building them spread from east to west, from the coast of South America to Easter Island, and then farther west, to the other Polynesian islands. (The Easter Island statues are younger than the monuments of ancient Peru and Bolivia but are older than the stone statues on other East Polynesian islands.)
At the other end of the Pacific the situation was different. Here a people about whom nothing is known moved from west to east. This people must have built the megalithic structures on the Australian coast, the mysterious statues and stone objects which archeologists have found on New Guinea and about which the local inhabitants know nothing, and the stone monuments on the Melanesian islands. Were these men the ancestors of the modern Polynesians, as some scholars think? Or did they come from India, from Mesopotamia, or from the Egypt of the Pharaohs? Did they vanish without a trace? We do not, as yet, have answers to these questions. Therefore the hypothesis that those men lived in Lemuria, a land that drowned in the Indian Ocean, has as much right to exist as the other hypotheses, although there are many objections to it, as there are to the other assumptions concerning the origin of the stone monuments of Oceania.
The megalithic structures are perhaps one of the most complex and fascinating riddles in the prehistory of man. Megalithic structures are found everywhere: in England, Southern India, Spain, the New Hebrides, Australia and the Caucasus. And everywhere they stand in coastal areas, the largest and most impressive being closest to the shore. Does that mean the monuments were erected by a seafaring people ? Should all the monuments be regarded as being the work of one and the same people? Perhaps, though, the undoubted similarity of the megalithic structures reflects a similarity of general architectural principles.
Some scholars believe the idea of megalithic structures spread from West to east, from the Atlantic to the Caucasus, Southern India, Australia and Oceania. Others (true, a minority) hold that they were first built on islands in Oceania and then spread westward. Still others think that there is no single chain of megalithic structures, that Europe, India, Australia and Oceania each had its own local centres, unrelated to the others.
Who is right? We do not know. Some hypotheses are more convincing than others. With the present level of archeology, ethnography, anthropology and other sciences, none of them can be proven. Only after the floor of the Indian Ocean has been thoroughly explored we will be able to say anything definite about the Lemuria hypothesis and then go on to answer the questions of who settled in Australia, where the proto-India civilisation originated, where the birthplace of man was, and so on.
Dravidians and Africans 7
The Dravidians in Africa
[ French original appeared in the journal “La monde non chretian” Oct~ Nov4 1952, Paris]
The people from South India are known as Dravidians. Their Languages are spoken by more than 65 millions. They do not belong to the Indo-European family to which belong Hindi, Marathi and most of the dialects of the Aryans who were living in the Indus and the Ganges valleys i.e. north to the peninsula.
The Dravidian languages are mainly divided into two i.e. literary and non-literary. Literary languages include four great languages. Each language is having its own indigenous written script. Tamil is spoken in the south-east of South India; Malayalam, the closest language to Tamil, is spoken from the west coast; Kannada, is spoken from the North West Coast; Telugu is spoken from the North of Tamil Nadu and to the East of Kannada. Though they have different characteristics, the vocabularies and morphological systems are common. The differences between these Dravidian languages are lesser than the differences between the Indo-European languages.
The non-literary Dravidian languages are spoken in the mountain areas of the North. The script of these languages was introduced by the European missionaries in the 19th century A. D. They are Kui, Kuvi (two dialects of the people known as Konds). Gondi, Malto and Kurukh or Crayon. Finally, Brahui, a language spoken from Baluchistan (of Pakistan) is also identified as a Dravidian language. Its morphological system clearly shows its resemblance with the Dravidian languages.
The Dravidians were navigators and merchants. Their oldest inscriptions date back to the beginning of Christian era. As they
borrowed more aspects from the Aryans, particularly words, philosophical and religious thoughts etc., it was thought during XIX-th century that their entire civilisation came to them from the Indo-Aryans.
Through the excavation made in the Indus valley prior to 1925, archaeologists discovered Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa, the ruined important towns. They found there the dwelling places, palaces and temples. (See: E, Macay, The Indus Civilisation, London, 1935, French translation, Payot publishing house.). Archaeologists regard that the ruin dates back to 2800 B.C and it was even anterior to the Sumerian Civilisation.
Braye studied the language and traditions of Brahui of Baluchistan. He explains that these Brahui speaking people represent a northern section of the citizen of the ancient Dravidian empire of the Indus. In the later days, the Dravidians of the Indus, would have been driven off to South India by the invaders coming from the North. They could have preceded the Aryans.
However one could not easily accept today that the Dravidians might have been savages before the arrival of the people who spoke Indo-European languages.
It is recognized that the Tamils penetrated into the island of Ceylon and the Singhalese have borrowed much from this Dravidian language. Even now some traces confirming this aspect are found in Malay.
Since 1946 onwards, we affirm that certain languages of Africa have some similarities with Dravidian languages. (See: Our comparative study of the Peul language of the scattered shepherd from Bagiorni to Senegal and hereby mentioned Brahui). But our papers have accepted with scepticism in spite of the affirmation of Professor Baumann, a German ethnologist and an expert in African studies ‘who has declared in his work published in 1940 (French translation, Payot, 1940) that all the Neo-Sudanese Civilization had come from the South of Asia especially from India.
Happily, we presented at the 7th International Congress of linguists, conducted in London from 1st to 6th September of 1952, lot of common morphological facts which’ convinced the quasi
totality of the spectators. Only two or three famous Africans have declared that the sceptics would, hereafter, justifly their incredility.
It is not necessary to show the technical demonstration conducted in London, but it will be useful to bring the conclusions which flow from it.
It does not concern with the massive invasion of Africa by the people of Dravidian languages. It is possible to believe that all the black Africans had come from India. Many anthropologists think in this line. But it is yet, a problem to be solved.
The Linguistic facts show that the various groups of foreigners who came through the ports of the West Coast at different dates organised states and imposed their manner of speaking and a part of their vocabularies.
Due to lack of time, all the details could not be brought out for all the languages. Here, we present a few points which are clear.
The unity of the Bantu language group inspite of its dispersion, has made us to admit the existence of a big state which was between the Late Victoria Nyanza and the ports of Mombasa and of Melude from the beginning of the Christian era. The linguistic facts show that this state was organised by the Kannadas. The demonstrative prefixes a, i (e,o,u) followed by different elements used as pronouns are common in Kannada and in Bantu languages.
1. ndu = ondu=are they are (Singular neuter)
2. aba = abbaru = they (plural human person)
3. abi,avii, .
4. eka = eka = alone*
5. is = is = causative suffix
6. 1k = ik = stative suffix
* Not only in Kannada, all other Dravidian words also are common.
· The word ecka is may be from the Sanskrit origin. -Editor
Nubian is known to us by some Christian texts dating from 8th and 9th century onwards through the multiple works done on the different dialects. Now some morphological traits, rather particular of Nubian have been found in Kui language of the Northern Dravidian family.
in ni - genetive
ki, gi dative, accusative
toti ton, doton
man amen = is, are
Since we know that the Diocletien one of the savage tribes which was then threatening Egypt, who settle in Nubia at the end of the 3rd century. It is probable that the above said invaders were Dravidians and the settled tribe in Nubia was speaking a dialect which was closely related to the modern Kui, a Dravidian tongue.
Nubian had evolved since 8th century A. D. Between the modern dialects of Nile and the modern dialects of India numerous common words are found.
The kingdom of Mali, or Mandingues was certainly organised by the Telugus. Because, in Mande, the Dravidian unique suffix of the plural lu is still in use. It is a Telugu suffix which does not distinguish the plural between persons and non-persons.
The masculine suffix n and feminine ‘l” are the Dravidian suffixes. These two are available in Housa language, an African tongue. Due to want of time we are unable to examine all the Housa morphemes. Besides, the Housa has much circulation and they have borrowed more from Berbers and Arabs.
We finish here this short insight with the above stated facts. We hope that our readers will understand that henceforth our African linguists will have no more to formulate hypothesis and divergences of the common facts/similarities of the Negro African language groups. The African linguists will be able to bring out the
earlier history of the Christian era; they will also trace out the invaders who brought the Neo-Sudanese civilisation which was found from the ruins of Zimbabwe and the exploiters of the tin mines of Nigeria. Considering all these facts, Professor Hutton of Cambridge since several years back itself affirms, that the invaders and exploiters mentioned above must be Indians.
Before finishing we shall recall certain facts which were very often ignored and left in the dark.
I. The maritime waves going up from the south to north along the west coast of India pass on to south of Arabia and go down towards Zanzibar.
2. Next to Africans, Dravidians (Indians) were more dark in colour. The Dravidians went to Africa through the Red sea. They were black men but not Brahmins.
3. The Periplus of the Erythraean sea of First century A.D. mentions that the Indian colonies appeared on the coast of East Africa.
The numerous words of Negro-African are closely related to the old Egyptian and Copte.
chillouk - choli ket or get
ee baati - Egyptian kd, Copte ket
Now, certain words are found in the Dravidian and Egyptian languages which are common to the Negro-African languages. Negro-African and Dravidian languages are not recognized as part of the Egypto-semitic group.
Above all we have been led to formulate the following hypothesis. The Egyptians of the first dynasty came from indus and settled in Egypt nearly 3000 B.C. Their spoken language was very close to modern Dravidian. They might have influenced the people of Semitic language. Even today they adopt some rare traces of the Dravidian morphology,
Example: i - Dravidian feminine
un/oui/oue - Copte
Common feminine suffix to Semitic and Dravidian.
A deep research would give certainly some other facts but for the time being we come to know some common vocabularies as follows:
bw = Elephant - Egyptian
iblia = Elephant - Kannada (Dravidian)
shrr = small - Egyptian
chiru = small - Kannada
Dravidians and Africans 8
The Cultural and Commercial Contacts between Africa and Dravidian India
(With special reference to f he Krishna Legend)
K. P. ARAVAANAN
The Cultural and Commercial contacts between Dravidian India and Africa existed even long before the arrival of Vasco-DaGama (15th Century A. D.) in India. Before Vasco-da-Gama, the sea route between East Africa and South India was familiar to the navigators and merchants of both the continents. Scytax Caryanda, a Greek pilot was the first known mariner to have crossed the Indian Ocean. He sailed on the Indian ocean after crossing the Red sea in 510 B. C. He touched the mouth of the Indus and returned. Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, the earliest extensive work on navigation in the world was written probably by a Greek of Alexandria in 60 A. D. It mentions the trading centers on the African coast and those of the South India coast as well. In about 7500 words length, it explains that the imports into and exports between Damirica (The Tamil Country) Rome, Africa and other countries. Roman gold coins were discovered (A. D. 54-68) in Arikamedu. A hoard of 46 gold coins belonging to Roman kings dating back to B. C. 29 was found in Dharwar district of Karnataka. Both confirm the above Periplus statement. The name of the first sajlor Scytax Caryanda, is mentioned in the Periplus, though the same was written 200 years after him. In 327-26 B.C. Nearchus, famous pilot of Alexander sailed to the Indus and returned.
Indian merchants were very fond of African ivory, iron and gold. Elmas’ udi wrote in 10th century that Sofala was the land of gold.
He mentions ivory as principal item of export from the land of zanj the negros of East Africa [1.Basil Davidson - Black Mother. P. 166.] This ivory was taken to India and China by way of Yemen in Southern Arabia and were this not the case, there would be an abundance of ivory in the Muslim Countries”. For Edrisi, two centuries later, iron was the most valued export of the East African coast.2 [2. Al - Indrisi, T(itah Nuzhat at Mustag fikhtirq at Afaq. trans S.. Maqbul Ahmed quoted by B. Davidson Can we write African History?P 13.]
The iron of Sefala, he thought was much superior to that of India both in quantity and quality; and the Indians were accustomed to make from it the best swords in the world. Along the east coast at the same time city states like, Kilwa have become important in the expanding network of the Indian Ocean trade. Writing in the mid-twelfth century, Edrisi hears that Javanese sailors regularly visit the south Eastern coast of Africa and carry its iron to India. The west coast of India was invariably or mainly in contact with the East Coast of Africa. What was the reason? The world’s valuable metal- gold -, was available only from the South East Coast of Africa. Other areas of Africa were not having enough gold for export to other countries. According to ancient travel-writers, gold was the main item of export from Africa to India. Large quantities of gold must have gone to India from the ports of South East Africa during a period of five to six centuries.
Even today, the African continent accounts for the major quantity in the production of gold. In ancient times, people of Europe and the Islamic world thought that Africa was the richest gold bearing area in the globe. A number of stories also relating to African gold. were current among them. One was that gold grew on trees. Because of that, a number of European and Islamic merchants travelled all the way to Africa in search of gold. Antonio Malfante a commercial traveller was sent by Europ~an to Africa for finding out the sources of gold. He mentions that Indian Traders travelled with interpreters in these regions. According to him these Indians were Christians who adored the cross.3 [3 Madhu Panikkar, K. The serpent and the crescent P. 121]
Basil Davidson, an expert in African study observes:
“A probably Bantu speaking polity in Katanga is producing copper on no mean scale and trading in it as well within another hundred years the chiefs of another metal using polity in present Zambia are being buried with gold ornaments-imported from South of the Zambezi. And then, with the middle of the tenth century, we have mas’udi’ celebrated description of the kingdom of the warlini somewhere around the lower Zambezi basin, while the gold trade with the Indian ocean traders has undoubtedly begun.4 [4. Basil Davidson, Can we write African History? P. 12]
Archeological, anthropological and linguistic studies also confirm the contacts, and views mentioned above. Gervase, a British pioneer of east coast archaeology discovered a South Indian settlement in the islet of sanje ye-kati, near the some what larger islet of Kilwa-in 1950. He found the undergrowth of the ruins of a settlement of “Small oblong house of carefully dressed masonry, grouped round a citadel whose walls still rise to sixteen feet.’ It is the earliest of the coastal trading settlements so far traced: and its iron using culture may well have been pre-Islamic by several Centuries Southern Arabian, that, or perhaps Southern Indian.
In the same year 1950, Mathew, excavated the another Coral islet called Songo Mhara of Southern Tanganyika (Now called as Thanzania). In this place, he discovered among the beads there one pierced cornelians from India. In Southern from Rhodesia, archaeologists found that there are abundant Stone ruins, objects in gold and other metals, pottery from the East-coast, porcelain from China and beads from India. Indian beads become valuable in this respect, as early as by the 8th century AD.
Indian textiles also were imported from India to Africa. It has been identified in the North Cemestry at Meroe. A kind of water reservoir found in Meroe too must have come from India for it is unknown in Egypt. Both Dravidians and Africans have similar physical appearance and cultural identities. Even blood group indicates one map of blood group distribution, found for Indonesia and just that portion of west Africa were the cultural parallels arefound.5 [6. Ndiaye Cheik Tidians, Centre for Advanced study of bravidian Languages, Annamalai University, South India.] The cowries are used in West Africa as Prashna. These cowries came from the west coast of Southern India. i.e. Kerala. West African jewelry is influenced by South Indian jewelry. According to Flora sliaw, the African Language Fulanie came from India. At present an African scholar is working on the Subject of comparative study on Wolof and Tamil. An Indian Professor identified a number of Linguistic similarities between Dravidian Languages and Senegal Languages.7 [7. Upadhyaya U P. IFAN, University of Dakar, Senegal. I4is article appeared in this book.]
The introduction above, confirms the contacts among Dravidians and Africans. This paper presents a hitherto unnoticed but important one on Indo-African studies.
The Kushites were the most important people in the ancient history of Africa. They were native Africans who settled along the banks of the Nile to the South Egypt. Egyptians called them as Nubians. The relationships between Kushites and Egyptians were not friendly. But Kushites were equally good combatants like the Egyptians. In the ninth century B. C. they themselves founded a state of their own. Napata was their capital city. In 751 B.C., Kushites invaded Egypt and brought it under their control. A Hundred years after, the Assyrian army invaded and defeated both i.e, Egyptians and Kushites. After that, Kushites moved their capital southwards from Napata to MEROE. In Meroe, they founded an iron age civilization.
Up to the middle of the 20th century, the notable civilization of Meroe was unknown. Thirty years back. Reiner, Griffith~ Garstang and one or two others carried on excavations at Meroe. In 1958 Dr. Jean Vercoutter, a distinguished French Egyptologist, continued the excavations of Meroe. The ancient iron civilization of Africans is establised. British archaeologists called Meroe, “The Birmingham of Ancient Africa”. Basil Davidson, a well known author named it “An Athens in Africa.” From an Indian
point of view Meroe was ‘A Vrindavan of Krishna’. What is the reason to call it so?
In Meroe, archaeologists have found two engravings. These represented their lion-gods, it seems to be of Indian origin. It resembles the Indian God Nara_Simha Murti. (See the photos:Dravidians and Africans). The age of these lion god’s engravings is attributed to the first century B. C. to the end of the first century A.D.
In india, the story of the ten births of Vishnu (Dasavtar) might be of a later period. But, the concept of lion-head man god must have been older. It is merged with Hiranyakasipu’s story. This story is even available in the oldest Indian literary tradition. The story is as follows
Hiranyakaiipu was a very powerful demon king. Thanks to the power be had received from Brahma himself he succeeded in dethroning Indra and exiling the gods from heaven. He proclaimed himself king of the Universe, and forbade worship of anyone but himself.
However his son Prahlada dedicated himself to the worship-of Vishnu, who initiated him into the secrets of his heart. Hirany akasipu, irritated by the sight of his son devoting himself to the cult of a mortal enemy, inflicted on the child a series of cruel tortures in order to wear him away from his worship of Vishnu. But his fervor simply increased, and he began to preach the religion of Vishnu to men and demons.
Hiranyakasipu ordered the death of this unmanageabie missionary. But the sword, poison, fire, wild elephants, and magic incantations failed to harm him, for Prahlada was protected by his god.
Hiranyakasipu once more called his son to him. prahlada with immense gentleness tried again to convince his father of Visnu’s greatness and omnipresence, but the demon angrily exclaimed
“If Vishnu is everywhere, how does it happen that my eyes don’t see him ?“ He pointed one of the pillars in his audience chamber, saying: “Is he here fore instance ?“
‘Even when invisible he is present in all things, replied Prahlada softly. Whereupon Hiranykasipu uttered a blasphemy and kicked the pillar, which fell on the floor. Immediately Vishnu emerged from the pillar in the shape of a lion-headed man (in his incarnation as Narasimba) fell upon the demon, and tore him to shreds.8
The worship of Narasimhamorthi was prevalent even before the Christian era. The legend of Hiranyakasipu, is also an old one.
In Sanskrit, Vyaasar’s Mahaabhaaratam, (4th century B.C.) mentions this legend in its 38th chapter. Bhisinaa narrates the above story to Yuthistraa when he conducted a ‘raja suuya’ sacrifice. Vyaasar’s Bharataa gives a thousand names of Vjsh~ti Among those, ‘Narasimha’ is the 21st name. (Ref. Anusaacana parvam). An Upanishth called after Narasimha is attached with Atharva Veda, Bhagavatham explains this legend in detail. Vj~hnu puranam also follows it. seventh Century poet Maakavj refers this legend in his work namely ‘Sisubaalavathaa’
In Tamil, a Cankam anthology called Paripaatal of 2nd century A. D. mentions about this ‘lion-headedman’ God.
Ceyirtiir ceGkaN celva! NiRpukazp
Pukainta nenjcin, pulainta saantin
PiiruGka laatan palapala piNipada - alantuzi
Malarnta nooykuur kuumbiya nadukkattu
Alarnta pulazoon, taatai aakalain - ikazvoon
Ikazaa nenjcinan aaka, nii ikazaa
NanRaa nadda avan nalmaarbu muyaGki
OnRaa naddavan uRuvarai maarvin
Padimatam caamba otuGki
Innal innarodu idimurasu iyamba
Vedipadaa odituuN tadiyodu
Taditadi palapada vakivaaynta ukirinal
(paripaada: the 4th song. Original in Tamil, here transliterated into English by Loga)
The above song in Paripaatal gives this legend as follows:
Eranyan, enraged on hearing his own son Praising With devotion the Lord Thirumaal (Vishnu), treated him cruelly and
terrified him. Prahalaadan tolerated all, these evil treatments, for, the one who gave these hardships was his own father. But He, (Vishnu) being the savior of the devotees appeared (incarnated as Narasimha with lion headed human god), before Eranyan from within a pillar, by breaking it open and tore open the flesh of Eranyan with sharp nails and killed him.
Cilappathikaaram a Tamil epic (2nd century A.D.) notes this incident as ‘Matankalaay maaratlaay’ (chapt. 17) (you-lion headed rnan-god-killed your enemy).
Ciivaka Cintaamani, a ninth century epic, mentions the name of Hiranyakasipu (1813). Devotional songs of Vaishnavism (from 5th century onwards) mentions this Narasimha’s legend in numerous places. Kallaatam of 11th century, a Saivaite literature, also refers this story. Then a famous poet Kampan (9th century A. D.) narrates this legend in his epic Ramayana in about 175 songs as ‘Eranya Vatai patalam’, (A chapter on Eranya’s death). After Kampan, a separate small epic called ‘Eranya vatai parani’ was written in 12th century A.D. In Telugu also Ranganaatha Ramayanaa mentions of this legend. According to it, Eranya was born in the world again as Raavanaa and Narasimha as Rama.
In Badarni (Karnataka) the capital of Chalukyas3 a fine relief of Narasimha is still seen in the verandah of the Vishnu Cave. It is dated exactly 578 A. D [9.Nilakanta Sastri, K. A. A History of South India P. 450 ]
At about the same time, the name Narasimha was common in Tamilnadu. A Pallava king bore the name Narasimha (630-668 A.D.). The death of Hiranyakasipu is featured in a fine sculpture at Ellora.
Even before the christian era, the worship of lion-headed man was in vogue and prevalent all over India. Merchants came to India from Africa, or Indian merchants who were settled in Africa brought the lion god worship which appeared in Meroe. The founders of Meroe, were also in the fore front in the maritime trade of the Indian oceans. In the sixth century B. C. Kushites shifted their capital from Napata to Meroe. Meroe is nearer than Napata to the Indian ocean and India. This is also one of the reasons for their shifting. [10. Basil Davidson - The lost cities of Africa P. 45]
That the Kushites had commercial
contact with India which is not in doubt. The commercial
contacts lead to the cultural contacts also. The worship of the lion god is one among the productions of their contacts with India.
Yet another African tradition also strengthens this above view. In India both in the north and south, the legend of Krishna is common. The birth story of Krishna is in this way according to Indian tradition which is as follows:
Krishna was born at Mathura. His mother was Devaki, a sister of king Kamsa, who killed all her children as soon as they were born, as it had been predicted that he would be assassinated by one of them, particularly the eighth son. Krishna awed his life to a ruse of his parents, who exchanged him for the daughter of a poor cowherd, in order to hide him from his uncle’s anger. Krishna therefore spent his youth among keepers of herds, in the company of his brother Balarama.
Soon after his birth Krishna was already full of vigour, and some times of extraordinary strengh were in any, and his series of mighty deeds. He overthrew a cart, pulled down two trees together by the roots.
Kamsa tried his level best to kill his sister’s son through various ways. But he failed. Some years later, Krishna became a warrior and killed his uncle, Kamsa. Then he ruled the country.
The same Krishna legend is echoed in toto in the African Continent. The legend’s name is Soni-Ali-Ber. It was narrated by all the story tellers of Africa. African oral tradition keeps this legend in this way:
Soni Au Ber, was the emperor of Songai (Gao). Wandou, a close associate of the emperor came to see His Majesty when Soni Ali Ber informed him, that on the previous night he had the vision of death. The emperor asked Wandou to give the significance of the dream. The royal mascot then talked to the juju and the matter was sent to the big sooth sayer. According to the soothsayer the emperor would be killed and the son of Kassei, (Please compare With Devaki), the sister he loved so much, would succeed him.
The Cabinet then held a meeting as a sequel to which it was made clear that all the young boys of Kassei should be killed. Balama, Justice minister, was in charge of the execution of the decision. The orders of Soni was to be executed during the next ten years.
All of a sudden, the servant of Kessei brought forth a girl and Kassei on the other hand at the same time had a boy. The maid servant of Kassei thought of saving the life of the son of Kassei. As such she proposed to her mistress that they exchanged their children. When the son of Bargou grew up, he wanted to be enlightened of his real mother and father.
A spirit assured him that he would protect him accordingly. The behaviour of the “Son of Bargou” raised suspicion in Soni Ali Ber.
Balama received an order that he should no longer be with the young man but the plan failed.
Soni AliBer was killed by the son Bargou when feast was on and Askia Mohamed assumed the power. He succeeded his uncle and founded the order of Islam.
The Legend of Krishna, and that of Soni Ali Ber resemble each other as under:
1 Both Kamsa and Soni were rulers.
2 Both had dreams.
3 Both called the sooth sayers.
4 Soothsayers’ interpretations of the dreams were alike.
5 Both put their sisters in prison
6 Both killed their sister’s children
7 The children of both were born in prison
8 The children were male in both the case
9 Male children were replaced by female cbildren
10 The sisters concerned helped by their servant maids
11 Both Kamsa and Soni tried to kill their sister’s children in different ways.
12 Both the kings failed in their attempts.
13 The children in both the cases became warriors.
14 The children killed their uncles.
15 The children suceeded their uncles after assassinating them
16 The children in both the cases later on became the leaders of the religions.
Krishna as an incarnation of Vishnu, and the other who espoused the cause of Islam.
If scholars compare the origin of the two legends, they must conclude that the Krisna legend is the older. The earliest reference to Krishna is in Chandogya upanishad (6th century B.C.). In this context, he is mentioned as Krishna Devakiputra,’ disciple of Ghora Rishj of Angirasa tribe. Keith says that there was a tradition about Krishna as a rishi from the time of the Rigvedic hymns. The other reference to Krisna is in the Mahabharata (4th century B.C.) Krishna is a pivotal character in the epic of Mahabharata and the great war which took place at Kurukshetra about 1000 B.C. Krishna was undoubtedly a Kshatriya warrior of the Yadava clan. The Tamjl epic Silappathikarani (2nd century A.D.) mentions Krishna as Mayavan (The dark one) who plays his flute and sports with milkmaids. His elder brother is Paladeva-(Balarama). Krishna’s sweetheart is Pinnai. It further mentions the Kuravai dance, Mayavan playing on the flute, dancing Pinnai and Mayavan on the banks of the river Jamuna. The Greek ambassador at the court of Chandragupta Maurya mentions Krishna as Herakles. Herakles was worshipped by the surasenas, who formed the great Yadava tribe, and who inhabited the banks of the Jamuuna and had Mathura as their capital.
The reference of the Greek traveler will enable the scholar easily to assess, the origin and spread of Krishna legend. Greece, Egypt and other the South European and North African countries are all mediterranean. All these were involved in Indian ocean trade. Therefore1 Kushites the adjacent race of the Mediterranean
region had also a hand. The Krishna and Narasimha legend were imported by Kushites’ merchants from India. Or, the merchants of India. who travelled and latter settled in Africa, were the originators of the Indian legends and worship in Africa. Both are possible and acceptable.
There are many parallels in the birth legend of Krishna and Jesus Christ. The legend of the birth of a saviour and an incarnation of God, which before the nativity of Christ, seems ultimately to have reached the mediterranean area. The fight of Joseph and Mary with the exodus of Nanda and family with Krishna and Balarama from Gokulam to Vrindavan. Herod is the semilic counterpart of Kamsa. Kamsa ordered the slaughter of the children of Yadavas Similarly, Herod did the massacre of the innocent children of Bethelhem in the hope of destroying the child Jesus.
Spelling his name Chrishna or Cristna, (Christ) the skeptics listed at length the events of his life. What made these events so disturbing is shown in Maurice’s grateful acceptance of the apologist theory promulgated by Sir William Jone’s “On the Gods of Greece, Italy and India”. To return to the more particular consideration of those parts of the life of Creeshna which are above alluded to by Sir William Jones, which have been paralleled with some of the leading events in the life of Christ, and are in fact, considered by Prim as interpolations from the spurious Crospets; mean more particularly his miraculous birth at midnight; the Chorus of Davatas that saluted him with hymns, the divine infant, as soon as born; his being cradled among shepherds, to whom were first made known those stupendous feats that stamped his character with divinity; his being carried away by night and concealed in a region remote from the scene of his birth, from Sear of the tyrant Camsa, whose destroyer it was predicted he would prove, and who, therefore, ordered all the male children born at that period to be slain; his battle, in his infancy with the dire envenomed serpent Calinga and crushing his head with his foot; his miracles in succeeding life; his raising the dead; his descending to Hades, and his return to Vaiconta the proper paradise of Visnu; all these cjrcumstances of similarity would certainly make one to surprise; and upon any other hypothesis than that offered by sir. William Jones, would, at first sights seem very difficult to be solved.
Other difficulties include the name of Crishna, and the general outline of his story, confessedly anterior to the birth of the Christ and probably as old as Homer. [ Brvce Franklin - The wake of the gods - 1963 P. 174, 175]
Another important point must be noted here. Chrisna was Kamsa’s own sister’s son. Soothsayer told Kamsa that his sister’s son would kill him and succeed him. After the death of Kamsa, Krishna succeeded to rule the country. This shows the adaptation of matriarchal system .The matriarchal tradition is the special feature of Dravidians or non-Aryans. This system is still in vogue in the Southern part of Tamilnad, Kerala and South Karnataka of Dravidian India. Many ethnic groups of Africa still follow this mother oriented system.
“In the fairly recent past and in some places still to-day, a person belongs to the family of his mother. The family regime was matriache. Today still among the Serer of sine (Senegal), a child’s first name is followed by the name of his mother. To the people of the village where I was born, I am still Se’dar Nyilane i.e. son of Nyilane. This fashion of naming must once have been general and the use of the patronymic brought in later. However this may be among most African people one belongs to one mother’s clan.[ Senghor L. S. Senghor proseand Poetry P. 45 ]
The same kind of name is still available in Kerala and Southern part of Tamilnad with a slight variation. Here, the female children only adopted their mother’s names as their initials. The matriarchal system is still alive in the name of ‘marumakkal vazhi’ (sisters son oriented family system). Krishna also belonged to this Dravidian system. He was always described in Indian literature especially in Tamil literature as a ‘black God’ (Karmeka Vannan). In his book Dravidian Elements in Indian Culture’, Gilbert Slater established that God Krisna was originated from Dravidian region. A story was Given by Magasthenes, a Greek traveller to India. supporting this view. According to him, Pandaia ruled (the) the Pandya country, the southern part of India. She was the daughter of Krisna (Herakies) The kingdom was organised into 365 villages; one village had to bring the royal tribute to the treasury every day and if necessary assist the queen in collecting it from defaulters. This view of Magasthenes is confirmed by the epic Silappathikaram also. According to that, in a particular day a certain cowherd family in a suburb of Madura took its turn to supply ghee to the royal Pandya’s palace.
Therefore, the origin of Krishna legend is started from Dravidian region and spread in the whole of India. Like the other merger (Karthikeya cult merged with Muruga cult) the Dravidian Mayavan (Black God) was also merged with Vishnu cult. The sailors took the Krishna legend too to the Mediterranean and to the interior African countries as well. The Kushites of Meroe were also influenced by this Krishna cult.
Basil Davidson, Guide to African History—George Allen and Uswin Ltd. London, 1966.
The Lost Cities of Africa. Little frown and Company, Boston!
Can we write African History, African studies centre,
University of California, Losangeis 90024, 1965.
Black Mother - Victor Goilanex Ltd. 1961
Madhu Panikkar, K. The Serpent and the Grescent - Asia Publishing House, Bombay-i, 1963
Nilakanta Sastri, K. A. A History of South India, Oxford University House, Madras 1966.
Randhawa, M. S. Kangra paintings or Bhagavada Purana, National Museum of India, New Delhi 1960
Senghor, L. S. Senghor Prose and Poetry - Ed. and tr. By John Reed and Clive wake, Oxford University Press, London