• On The Unintended Influence Of Jainism On The Development Of Caste In Post-Classical Tamil Society

    Author(s):
    Sudalaimuthu Palaniappan (see profile)
    Date:
    2008
    Subject(s):
    Classical Tamil, Tamil linguistics, Tamil literature, Jain studies, Cultural history
    Item Type:
    Article
    Tag(s):
    Caste, Dalit, untouchability
    Permanent URL:
    http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/ps6w-q247
    Abstract:
    Tamil nationalist scholars have held that the early Tamil society was casteless. But, they have not been able to explain away the occurrence of words such as pulaiyaṉ, iḻipiṟappiṉōṉ, iḻipiṟappāḷaṉ, and iḻiciṉaṉ, which are traditionally interpreted as low-born persons in classical Tamil literature. On the other hand, these words have led scholars like K. K. Pillay and George Hart to state that the concept of untouchability - and hence the notion of caste - has been present from the time of Classical Tamil literature. All these scholars have failed to consider the influence of Jaina worldview reflected in the classical Tamil literature. When the classical Tamil texts are analyzed using information from the field of Jainism along with philology, Dravidian linguistics, and South Indian epigraphy, one could see that neither untouchability nor caste was indigenous to Tamil society. In fact, the word pulaiyaṉ, which later came to mean ‘a polluted man’, originally meant ‘a man who causes auspiciousness/prosperity’. Ironically, the non-violence principle of Jainism was an inadvertent catalyst in the development of violence-ridden untouchability among the speakers of Dravidian languages in post-classical Tamil times.
    Notes:
    https://www.soas.ac.uk/ijjs/file46109.pdf
    Metadata:
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    5 months ago
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