Rev. G U Pope Blasts Bishop Caldwell’s Theories (Post No.5320)


Picture of G U Pope

Compiled  by London swaminathan

Date: 14 August 2018


Time uploaded in London –18-08 (British Summer Time)


Post No. 5320


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“During Bishop Caldwell’s time, Sanskrit enthusiasts argued that Sanskrit was the mother of Tamil language. They showed extraordinary proportion of words of Sanskritic origin in Dravidian vocabulary as a proof. But they did not take into account the dissimilarity of the Dravidian grammatical forms to the Sanskritic forms. Bishop Caldwell had no difficulty in demolishing that theory  but he installed in its stead the equally untenable Scythic theory which it took many years of discussion to dislodge from its position. Subsequent workers in the field discovered serious errors in his work. Dr G U Pope is one of the critics.


Dr G U Pope was a distinguished missionary, well versed in Tamil language and literature and he did not accept Caldwell’s theories; and in a series of articles in in the Indian Antiquary he suggested enquiry as to whether in these theories “certain things have not been taken for granted rather too suddenly in regard to the Dravidian dialects. He was the first to point out that the law of harmonic sequence of vowels did not obtain in most of these dialects. He was further of opinion,


1.”that between the languages of Southern India and those of the Aryan family there are many deeply seated affinities;

2.that the differences between the Dravidian tongues and the Aryan are not so great as between the Celtic (for instance) and the Sanskrit; and

3.that, by consequence, the doctrine that the place of Dravidian dialects is rather with the Aryan than with the Turanian family of languages is still capable of defence. He illustrated these positions by means of copious illustrations and pointed out that the resemblances (appeared) most frequently in the more cultivated Dravidian dialects and that the identity was most striking in the names of instruments, places and acts connected with a simple life.


He also promised to consider derivative words in a future paper and to show that the prefixes and affixes were Aryan; but no such papers have been published.

Scythian and Dravidian

The Scythian affinities referred to are the affinities asserted to exist in the Dravidian languages by Bishop Caldwell, who following the Danish philologist Rask, use the term Scythian in the sense of what we have been generally called Turanian – non Aryan and Non Semitic languages. But the editors of Linguistic Survey of India and most of the scholars have rejected this affinity.


Professor J Kennedy wrote that rice, peacock etc. were known to Greeks in the fifth century BCE by their Dravidian (Tamil) names. This was due to Caldwell’s writing who said that these are Tamil words.


Bishop Caldwell was indeed a great magician! He pronounced a spell and there sprung up a vision of Phoenician sea men voyaging with Solomon’s servants down the West coast of India to Ophir once in three years to bring gold, silver, algum, peacocks and apes. This vision still fascinates some Dravidian scholars, though it had been pointed out that Hebrew ‘algum’ was not wanted for its scent, but to be used as props and pillars for which sandalwood was wholly unfitted, that peacocks could be had in plenty in Gujarat, and that there was no gold or silver for export from India. The whole vision rests on Bishop Caldwell’s opinion that ‘oryza’ (rice) algum and tawas (Tuki=Tokai= tawas=peacock) are derived from Tamil words. It is time that the spell is broken”.


–R Swaminatha Aiyar, Dravidian Theory, Motilal Banarsidass, 1975

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