KARI for Elephant is Not a Tamil Word? Part 2 (Post No.11,285)


Post No. 11,285

Date uploaded in London – 21 SEPTEMBER 2022         

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 Elephant is one of the animals mentioned a lot in Tamil literature. There is a special genre called Barani, which is sung only on a hero who killed 1000 elephants. It is an exaggeration, and the real meaning is one who has encountered many elephants in aa battle. Kalingathu Barani in Tamil describe it in detail.

We have also read about the Huna king Mihirakula whose hobby is to drive elephants to the edge of mountain cliff and happily watching their rolling down the hills and broken into pieces.

Another thing mentioned in our literature is kings watching pre -arranged elephant fighting in the vast play ground; he used to sit on a high and safe stage with his paraphernalia and watch it.

Natural fights between elephant and tiger or lion in the dense and thick forest are described in Tamil literature.

Magesthenes’ account of catching the elephants agrees with the present practice. ‘Catching an elephant with an elephant’ is a phrase used by Chanakya and Tiruvalluvar in their books. They use a female elephant to lure a male elephant.

Appolonius of Tyana in the close of the first half of our modern era, has give detailed description of Indian elephants. He found wild elephants from marsh as stupid and idle while those from plains were useful animals, tractable and imitative. The later were taught to dance, to jump to the sound of pipe. He speaks very high about their docile nature, love for their keeper and how they would eat from their master’s hand like a dog and coax him with their trunks. He tells that at night these animals would moan piteously (quite different from their usual roar) to bewail their slavery.

According to Q.Curtius Rufus (41-54 CE) the elephants of India are more tamed than those tamed in Africa and their size corresponds to their strength. Pliny agrees with Curtius and notes that India produced the largest elephants. Arrian describes the modes in which they are hunted. Polybius says that the African elephants would neither endure the smell nor the trumpeting of their Indian congeners….


Elephant in Amarakosa

The oldest thesaurus in the world is Amarakosa in Sanskrit. It is at least 2000 year old. It has the following information on elephant:-

२.७.१०००)  दन्ती दन्तावलो हस्ती द्विरदोऽनेकपो द्विपः

(२.७.१००१)  मतङ्गजो गजो नागः कुञ्जरो वारणः करी

(२.७.१००२)  इभः स्तम्बेरभः पद्मी यूथनाथस्तु यूथपः

(२.७.१००३)  मदोत्कटो मदकलः कलभः करिशावकः

(२.७.१००४)  प्रभिन्नो गर्जितो मत्तः समावुद्वान्तनिर्मदौ

(२.७.१००५)  हास्तिकं गजता वृन्दे करिणी धेनुका वशा

(२.७.१००६)  गण्डः कटो मदो दानं वमथुः करशीकरः

(२.७.१००७)  कुम्भौ तु पिण्डौ शिरसस्तयोर्मध्ये विदुः पुमान्

(२.७.१००८)  अवग्रहो ललाटं स्यादीषिका त्वक्षिकूटकम्

(२.७.१००९)  अपाङ्गदेशो निर्याणं कर्णमूलं तु चूलिका

(२.७.१०१०)  अधः कुम्भस्य वाहित्थं प्रतिमानमधोऽस्य यत्

(२.७.१०११)  आसनं स्कन्धदेशः स्यात्पद्मकं बिन्दुजालकम्

(२.७.१०१२)  पार्श्वभागः पक्षभागो दन्तभागस्तु योऽग्रतः

(२.७.१०१३)  द्वौ पूर्वपश्चाज्जङ्घादिदेशौ गात्रावरे क्रमात्

(२.७.१०१४)  तोत्रं वेणुकमालानं बन्धस्तम्भेऽथ श‍ृङ्खले

(२.७.१०१५)  अन्दुको निगडोऽस्त्री स्यादङ्कुशोऽस्त्री सृणिः स्त्रियाम्

(२.७.१०१६)  दूष्या (चूषा) कक्ष्या वरत्रा स्यात्कल्पना सज्जना समे

(२.७.१०१७)  प्रवेण्यास्तरणं वर्णः परिस्तोमः कुथो द्वयोः

(२.७.१०१८)  वीतं त्वसारं हस्त्यश्वं वारी तु गजबन्धनी

Amarasimha, the author of the lexicon, lists the names of elephant, its rut, furiousness, female elephant, and then its temporal juice, water emitted from its trunk. Then he describes its frontal globes, forehead, eye ball root of  ear, corner of its eye, part below the frontal globes, tusks, marks on its face, shoulder, and thigh.

He even goes into the details of pike to drive him, hook to guide him, post to which he is secured, chain for his feet, leather girt, dressing an elephant, its stable etc.

No language has such a unique thesaurus/ lexicon. Tamils followed Amarasimha and composed their so called Tamil Nikandus, but with lot of Sanskrit words.

There are over 100 proverbs on elephants in Tamil.

To be continued………………………

 Tags- Amarakosa, Amarasimha, Elephant, catching, Greek view, Karin, Tamil word

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