[The following is the full text of the article, the edited version of which was published in ‘The Times of India’ on 9th March 2017 under Talk Back which was response to the article, ‘Dravidian Identity, Now a Losing Game’ published earlier.]
The term ‘Dravidian’ refers not only to the languages group comprising Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam and Tulu, but to the race of the Dravidians, the cultural identities which are entirely different from the Aryans. The social identities of the Dravidian and the Aryan are not based on any genetic differences but duly on the cultural values and societal living between them. Language is not a mere vital cultural identity available to any people; it is very vital to maintain its identity from the dominance and influence of other cultures through the language. As the adage goes, “If you want to kill a nation, kill its language first!”
Tamil language, spoken by the people of the South was influenced by Sanskrit language and the intrusion took place as Sanskritization, which is still considered as a pride by the Aryans. The Aryan invasion was achieved cunningly with the aid of religion and god which undermined Tamil as ‘Neecha pasha’(language of menials) and projecting Sanskrit as ‘Deva pasha’(language of god). Because of the Sanskritization of Tamil Language, the Tamil spoken by the people in different parts of the Dravidian territory gave birth to many a language, like Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam and Tulu with inclusion of Sanskrit into them. It resulted in the continuance of such languages with dependence of Sanskrit. The Tamil spoken in the major part of the Dravidian land, despite being Sanskritized, was able to maintain its independent identity devoid of Sanskrit. Because of this independence, Tamil population opposed the imposition of Sanskrit under the mask of Hindi; the other languages in the Dravidian family did not oppose in the same way since Sanskrit continues to be the integral composition of their languages along with Tamil. If the words of Tamil and Sanskrit in them are removed, the languages would lose their very basics. Even if Sanskrit words in Tamil are removed, Tamil language can still keep its distinct identity and originality.
“…is it possible to show brahmins who have named their sons after Murugan? They do name them only as Subramanya out of their cultural bond with Sanskrit. Tamil brahmins may not know Sanskrit, but they exhibit loyalty only to Sanskrit.”
Even though the dominance on Tamil language and its usage is restricted from the influence of Sanskrit, the remnants of such dominance still exist in temples with the chanting of mantras only in Sanskrit. The display of board depicting, “Chanting mantras will be performed in Tamil too” is common in the temples of Tamil Nadu. What does it mean? Even now Sanskrit dominates in the sanctum sanctorum of the temples situated in Tamil Nadu. The Dravidian movement raised the question: ‘Can’t the God Almighty understand, if mantras are chanted in Tamil?” and pointed out the disgrace to the self respect of the Tamils. Periyar propagated in rationalistic term, “Let the God, ignorant of Tamil go out of Tamil territory!” Self-Respect and Rationalism became the core philosophy of Dravidar Kazhagam, the parental organisation of Dravidian Movement to liberate the Tamil language and other cultural values, entangled by Sanskritization
It is argued that there is some confusion on the identity of Tamil speaking brahmins and the Dravidians which fairly indicate that brahmins are Aryans. This is not out of any prejudice. Earlier Aryans created mythology that Lord Shiva’s younger son’s names both Subramanya (Sanskrit) and Murugan (Tamil) are one and the same. Till date, is it possible to show brahmins who have named their sons after Murugan? They do name them only as Subramanya out of their cultural bond with Sanskrit. Tamil brahmins may not know Sanskrit, but they exhibit loyalty only to Sanskrit. Still the identity crisis based on the language has due significance in Tamil Nadu. Among the non brahmins in Tamil Nadu, whose mother tongue is not Tamil, but still their loyalty to Tamil is well known. They identify themselves not with the intra family language they speak but with the Tamil language spoken in the society. Their mother tongue, for instance Malayalam, Telugu, Kannada, Tulu etc possesse more of Sanskrit words in their composition but their loyalty to Tamil language is well known owing to the attachment they possess and practice Tamil cultural values.
The Dravidian identity has no relevance to the cause of interstate river water disputes of Tamil Nadu with the neighboring states which are purely political. What reason could be attributed to the Sindhu river dispute between India and Pakistan and Ganges water dispute with Bangladesh?
A lot of constructive tasks are ahead to preserve Tamil language identity to immune Tamils from the imposition of Hindi, the mask of Sanskrit. It is not a losing game but gains with further momentum, when the ruling saffron power at the Centre is committed to impose Sanskrit directly on the citizens. To oppose such an authoritarian move, the Tamil community, racially as Dravidians has got every right comparatively to oppose it and it is not a losing game but a winning proposition and reasonable too by all means.
Politics of Dravidian ideals which has been functioning for the past 50 years in Tamil Nadu directly and even during the earlier reigns as the follow up of the initiatives of Justice Party since 1916 have succeeded in weakening the severe menace of social discrimination on caste lines. It has resulted in the provision of education and employment to the oppressed sections in the society which were denied to them till then. The social transformation took place in Tamil Nadu by strengthening the Dravidian identity. Dravidian identity will never vanish. The dispensation of social justice has to reach further heights for which Dravidian identity is a must. When Aryanisation has taken new birth in the name of saffronisation, the need of Dravidian identity has to last long. It can never be a losing game. Dravidian identity has gained more relevance for the future than in the past, by facing newer challenges.