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Imperial Gazetteer of India, v. 2, p. 322.


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322 THE INDIAN EMPIRE [CHAP.
the inhabitants of the Western Deccan and the Konkan. Hin-
dustani remains, like English, a foreign tongue in common
use; it is not, as in Northern India, the language of the people.
Its people. At some very remote period the aborigines of Southern India
were overcome by hordes of Dravidian invaders and driven to
the mountains and desert tracts, where their descendants are
still to be found. At a much later period the Aryans from the
north subdued the Dravidians, and established civilized com-
munities governed by powerful kings. These communities
probably represented the ancient Dravidian divisions. The
earliest known kingdoms of the South were those ruled over
by the Pandyas, Ch6las, and Cheras. They are enumerated
in the edicts of Asoka (250 B. C.) and in the ancient
Purmnas. That these were flourishing nationalities is evident
from old writings. Thus the Ramyvana credits AMadura, the
Pandyan capital, with the possession of gates adorned with gold
and set with jewels. That the Aryans succeeded to distinct
Dravidian kingdoms may be shown by the traditionary history
of the country, which relates that the first Aryan Pdndya king
married a daughter of the Aryan Chola king, thus recognizing
that from the earliest days of the Aryan conquest there were at
least two Tamil kingdoms. The date of this Aryan conquest
is very uncertain; but Dr. R. G. Bhandarkar shows reason for
supposing that it took place between the seventh and the
fourth century B. c.' Probably the earlier period is the more
correct. Dr. Biihler has pointed out in his Indian Palaeo-
graphj, ( 5 and 8) that the date of the introduction into India
of the Semitic alphabet was about 800 B.C., perhaps earlier;
and the date of the elaboration of the Kharosthi alphabet about
the fifth century B.c. If the Aryan conquest of South India
had taken place after the latter date, in all probability the
Dravidian Tamils would have adopted the Kharosthi script.
The meagre character and simple forms of the Tamil alphabet,
almost certainly derived from a Semitic source, perhaps
Aramaic or Himyaritic, point to its having been adopted and
having become fixed before the Kharosthi was known.
Its In the matter of religion the mass of the people of Southern
religion. India may be said to have been always Dravidian, Aryan
Hinduism being a mere veneer. The great temples are of
course dedicated to Aryan gods, but the people seldom visit
them except on festival days. The religion of their daily life has
always been, as it is at the present day, that of their forefathers:
namely, worship of local deities and of patron gods and god-
''Early History of the Dekkan,' Bombay Gazetteer, vol. i, pt. ii, p. I4!.



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