It is something we have not addressed very often. Today the Dravidian claims are such that it is unique to Tamil Nadu. If we take somebody from Karnataka, Andhra, Telangana or Kerala the chances are that they would not even see themselves as so called Dravidians. This is a problem that is unique to Tamil Nadu. The Dravidians claim that there existed an ancient civilisation in the sunken region called Kumari Kandam. There is a claim that Harappan people were Dravidians, Aryan invasion is supposed to have driven the Dravidians to south, Aryans are oppressors. The claim is that Tamil is the oldest language and it is distinct from Sanskrit. It says that Dravidians are racially distinct than Northern India. Oldest Indian scripts are in Tamil Brahmi. Pure Tamil can be got by removing Sanskrit from works of ancient times. It says that Dravidian people are descended or related from or to Elamites. And Thiruvalluvar who was saint or Rishi in Tamil Nadu was influenced by Thomas the Apostle.
The last two claims are part of the Dravidian Christian claims which is very very prominent. When we look at ancient Tamil history and try to see what can we make out of it, the earliest we have something called the Sangam Period. The Sangam period is recounted in 5 th century work by Nakeerar (Pandayan) who says that first Sangam for 4400 years in Then Madurai (southern Madurai) attended by 540 poets including Agastya.
The second Sangam period was for 3700 years in Kapatapuram, attended by 59 poets and Agastya. It implies that Agastya could have been a title for different people of a particular sampradaya. It says that both the cities were submerged and and all the literary works were lost. And the third Sangam period in Uttarakhand Madurai, present day Northern Madurai lasted for 1850 years. If we look at Times Of India’s particular report it says that “Tamillakan had interface with more than 30 cultural groups and more than 40 port sites across the Indian Ocean, Red Sea and Mediterranean. It was exchange of network, people, goods, cultures and technologies”. So it is fairly obvious a long coastline, this is maritime based civilisation we need to look for evidence of that.
Some more of Sangam period, the 15th century poet Adiyarkunallar, says in a particular work that the land from Pehruli river in the north to the Kumari river in the south was lost. Both are located in the south of Kanyakumari and covered the area of 700 Kavatan. We don’t know the measurement of Kavatan. Some more medicinal writers say about loss of land from South of Madurai (Kanyakumari) 1st BC work also mentions loss of Pandyan area to sea.
6 th century work says that the Pandyan king, because Pandyan land was lost to the sea he took over equal measures of the land from Cheras and the Cholas from both sides to compensate. However not one of these accounts uses the name Kumari Kandan which is very common in today’s narrative.
So we see who brought this word Kumari Kandan to the discourse. Kumari Kandan appears in Kanda Puranam written by Kachiappa Shivacharya in 1350 as a place where Shiva worshipping Brahmins lived and it has nothing to do with land loss.
20 th century Tamil supremacists seized upon the failed theory of Lemuria and they proposed that the lost land was Kumari Kandam. Now we must go back to the 19th century when the geologists of that era were trying to study that why is the shape of the continents just like jigsaw puzzle that fits into each other. We see that Madagascar fits into Africa and so on, and they proposed that there was a lost continent Lemuria. But that theory was discredited very soon once they discovered the plate tectonics and they said there was no such thing as Lemuria.
However it was too late because the Tamil supremacists seized upon that land and they said that Kumari Kandam was the land from Southern India all the way to Australia upto Madagascar. So this was the claim. If we go scientifically looking evidence for this the only time it may have been possible is the last glacial Maximum, the Iceage 26500 years ago to 19000 years ago when the sea level was 125 meters lower than today.
Any area 122 meters and less will be candidate for Kumari Kandam But we are finding that there is absolutely no place in Southern India that is 122 meters and less specifically where it is claimed area of the lost land. Who coined the word Dravidian as a separate family? What is the origin of the word Dravidian? Dravidian is a Sanskrit word used to denote a geographical region in Southern India. Varahmihir in Brihat Samhit places Dravida to Southwest and east, Parashara placed Dravida in East. It appears to refer to specific people. Dravida is used in the work Tantravarttika by Kumarila Bhatta. Adi Shankaracharya in 75 th shloka of Soundarya Lahiri refers to himself as a Dravida Shishu. But it was Missionary Robert Caldwell (1817-91) who coined this English word Dravidian.
Who was Caldwell? He was a missionary, linguist and bishop of Tirunelveli. He wrote a book on grammar and southern languages. His biographer says that his primers concern was to convert the South Indians to Christianity.
He compares role of Latin in Christian works to the role of Sanskrit in Tamil works. He says that you can readily remove the Sanskrit from Tamil works and get a refined state. He asserted that the group of people called Chanars were ‘ indigenous Dravidians’. This created a furious uprising of Chanars. He introduced the idea that ethnically they were distinct from high class oppressors. He coined the pejorative called ‘ Brahmanical Aryans’. He intended to manufacture history that indigenous ‘Dravidians’ were subdued and colonised by Brahmanical Aryans. Furious Chanars opposed the book as they did not want to be divorced from Brahmanical civilisation.
And his legacy is what we are living in today.