The Dravidian movement of south Bharat, especially Tamil Nadu needs no lengthy introduction. It is based on the false notion that Brahmins and other upper castes are Aryans who migrated from northern parts of the country, enslaved the native Dravidians and exploited them by making the natives follow their religion. The Dravidianist anti-Brahmanism which has in turn manifested itself into anti-Hinduism is dangerous for many attacks on temples, directly or indirectly, have been reported ever since the Dravidian movement gained momentum and hence it must be refuted.
One of the major accusation of the members who started this Dravidian movement was that Brahmins openly exploited the Dalits and people belonging to other lower castes and that ancient Tamils were not followers of Vedic religion and did not worship the Vedic Gods. Since Dravidian movement more or less revolves around Tamils and Tamil is the oldest properly recorded Dravidian language, we concentrate on Tamil here.
The earliest recorded Tamil era is known as the Sangam age, this period lasted from around 500-300 BCE to 300 CE. Early Sangam age Tamil kings were staunch followers of Vedic religion. Pandyan king Palyagasalai Muthukudumi Peuvazhuthi held the title ‘Palyagasalai’ since he built many sacrificial halls and performed Vedic rituals. Another king named Rajasuyam Vetta Perunrakilli held the title for performing the royal Vedic Rajasuya ritual. In old Sangam era Tamil poem Purananuru 6 & in Pathitruppathu 63, it is mentioned that Tamil kings bowed their heads down only in front of their Vedic Brahmin Gurus.
Another old Tamil poem from Ainkurunuru 62 mentions a festival dedicated to Vedic God Indra. Further, Tolkappiyam, the oldest Tamil grammatical work also mentions Vedic God Varuna and the name Tol-kappiyam itself is derived from Sanskrit term kavya. Also, Sangam era poems like Akananuru 70 & Purananuru 378 mention Ramayana themes. This totally contradicts the claim of the leaders of Dravidian movement and establishes the fact that Tamils praised and worshipped the valour of Rama and were also staunch followers of Vedic religion.
Lord Murugan (known as Skanda or Kartikeya in Sanskrit) who was and is popular among Tamils and is regarded as the native God of Tamils also had northern origins. The earliest depictions of Murugan or Skanda is found in northern art. Sangam poem Paripadal mentions that birth of Murugan took place in northern Himalayas. Thus it is clear that Vedic Hindu elements had strong presence in Tamil lands during Sangam age.
This is also further evidence from archaeological finds. Noted archaeologist Dilip K Chakrabarti in his book Battle for Ancient India writes the following in page 109:
“Period I of Alagukalam has red ware, black-and-red ware, mat-design pottery, NBP and grey ware and its dominant pottery is black and red ware. There is no radio carbon date from the level, and the excavators’ chronology puts it between 500 BC and 300 BC. I think that there is enough justification to put it between the bracket 700/800 BCE to 400 BCE. The NBP occurs in the upper level and may be put anywhere between 500 and 400 BCE.”
This NBP or Northern Black Polished Ware culture was the material culture of northern Gangetic Janapadas. The presence of NBPW in Tamilkam during early Sangam age, i.e 500-400 BCE, indicates that Tamils back then adopted same culture as the northern Janapadas. Black and red ware or BRW culture was also found in north during the Iron age. Also the Pandyans had issued punch-marked coins which were associated with the northern Janapadas. Further, many early southern coins have typical Dharmic symbols like Svastika, Sirvatsa, Nandipada etc along with other symbols found in northern coins and art. This indicates that early Tamil statehood and currency system was adopted from north. Also, Tamils in early period used Brahmi writing system, same as in north. Many Tamil Brahmi inscriptions show borrowings from northern Prakrit languages as well.
Sangam age Tamil poems like Purananuru 132 treat the lands from Himalayas to southern Kanyakumari as one entity. Parthitrupathu makes mention of Chera king Chenguttuvan washing the idol of Kannagi in sacred waters of Ganga in north. Also the Kalinga king Kharavela speaks of conquering Tamil kingdoms when he conquered regions of Bharatavarsha in his Hathigumpha inscription contradicting the populars claim of Dravidianists, that ancient Tamils considering only the land of Dravida (From sapthagiri hills of Tirumala to Kanyakumari) as their own, and did not rule any places beyond that while they agree that Cholas had their prominence in the lands of Vietnam, Malaysia etc. When Cholas were successful in capturing distant lands like Malaysia, is it possible that they never conquered other places to the north of Tirumala but only fought some battles and made Kings pay an amount as tribute on their victory instead of ruling those conquered places?
Thus all this evidence shows that the unity of north and south Bharat under same Dharmic culture existed at least for 2500 years. Since the earliest recorded culture of Tamils was already under Dharmic influence, we can say that Tamils were Dharmic Hindus since time imemorial and ancient cultural elements like Jallikattu which has been described in both Srimad Bhagavatham and Naalaayira Divya Prabandam while reciting the story of Krishna’s marriage with Nagnajiti (Nappinnai), was also practiced by Tamil Hindus back then.
(Featured Image Credit: ARULMIGU KOODAL AZHAGAR PERUMAL TEMPLE, MADURAI – This temple hails from the earliest Age of Sangam period. There are references of this temple in Paripadal and Silappadikaram. The first 10 songs of naalaayira divyaprabhandam called thiruppallaandu is dedicated to the lord there. The presiding deity was praised and worshipped by the Sangam tamil Poets as the president and guardian deity of the Sangam and called him by the name “Thuvarikoman” (the King who ruled over from Dwaraka) and Koodal Alagar. http://www.alagarkoil.tnhrce.in/tour.html)
(This article was jointly written by @Dauhshanti & @paanchajanyaa)
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