Social Scientist. v 22, no. 254-55 (July-Aug 1994) p. 101.


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NOTES ON THE TRANSFORMATION OF 'DRAVIDIAN' IDEOLOGY 101

dais was purified with water and cowdung. And of course, the dais was purified to facilitate his singing.

With the onset of Indian nationalism, the Brahmins could not shut out Tamil fully and they needed it for mass mobilisation. Here, as part of the pan-Indian imagination, their opposition was not so much to Sanskrit but to English. In fact, even Subramania Bharati, a moderniser of Tamil writing style with great passion for the language, recommended Sanskrit as the source for coining new words in Tamil (Nuhuman, 1985:158).

9. This fact of the Brahmins' refusal to identify themselves with the Tamil cultural universe (even before the arrival of the Dravidian Movement) is important for any critique of the current daim that their dispersal all over India and elsewhere is due to 'persecution' by the Dravidian Movement. As a recent account puts it,

The anti-Brahmin movement has made its consequence felt largely in the ... spheres of education and employment, where massive reservation of places for 'backward' classes and tribes by the Dravidian parties in power has kept Brahmins out of state-run educational institutions, bureaucratic jobs and political appointments. A significant diaspora of Brahmins has occurred with the migration of the community to other states in the country as well as to countries in the west.... Since education and administration have been the traditional, and virtually monopolistic preserves of the Brahmin community, there is now a severe diminution in its social role and functioning. At the same time Brahmin priesthood is no longer attended with divine sanction or political influence; Brahmin priests are now only poorly paid performers of temple rituals and private worship in a few households. There is a significant decrease in the number of Brahmin men who opt for the priesthood, and consequently in the numbers of traditional Sanskrit institutions for the teaching of the 'Vedas', or religious texts' (Sunder Rajan, 1993: 79-80).

At one level, in denying the Dravidian movement's self-definition as non-Brahmin movement and in characterising it as anti-Brahmin, the above account anchors itself firmly within a discursive formation privileged by the Brahmins. At another level, it reduces Sanskrit merely as the Brahmins' means to leam Vedas and thus silences its function as a sign of their pan-Indian/anti-Tamil desire.(see also, footnote 7).

On how the metropolitan elites have appropriated words like 'exile' and 'diaspora' inscribed with 'centuries of pain and dispossession', as part of their self-definition, see (Ahmad, 1993: 85).

10. See also, (Irschick, 1969:277-280; Kailasapathy, 1979:24-26; and Sivathamby, 1979:25-29)

11. This strand of Orientalist scholarship was ignored by the Brahmins, while they celebrated other strands with great enthusiasm. The selective appropriation of Orientalist studies by the Brahmins is generally not dealt with in the existing scholarship and awaits fuller exploration.

12. We shall refer to him in this paper as Maraimalai Adigal, as he is popularly known. Kailasapathy (1979), given his completely negative reading of the Tanitamil lyakkam, contemptuously refers to him all through as Vedachalam. It is as if to deny Maraimalai Adigal his selfhood. Despite Adigal's elitist approach to language, his project as mediated by different phases of the Dravidian Movement, led to the coining and popularisation of a large number of pure Tamil words which are today part of the Tamil vocabulary (Thirumaran, 1992: Chapter 5).

13. His knowledge of English was good enough to translate Gray's 'Ode on Eaton College' into Tamil. See (Venkatachalapathy, 1988:17).



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