Friday, April 14, 2006

Vishu, Bisu, Bihu and Haplogroup R2 clan

Today (April 14th) is Vishu. This festival marks the beginning of Malayalee new year. Tuluvas call it Bisu. For Assamese, this festival is known as Bihu. And for Punjabis, Baisakhi. Even Tamils, Orissans, Bengalis also celebrate it but the names do not sound similar to Malayalee, Assami and Punjabi names. This festival is also known Souramana Yugadi(Solar New Year). Other parts of India celebrate Chandramana Yugadi(Lunar New Year) ten days or two weeks before this festival.

Vishu, etymology:
Absolutely no idea. I speculate that it is derived from some Austro-Asiatic or Munda word. Even the Sanskrit word Vaishakha might have been derived from the same Austro-Asiatic word. To make the matters worse, I propose, the Proto-Dravidian word vis*(or according to me, bis*) meaning hot (bisi=hot, bEsige(see, note)=summer, Kannada) has Munda root. The Austro-Asiatic root, bis* might mean hot, summer, from which this summer festival derives its name. The later IE Assamese extended it to thrice a year harvest festival.

The rice cultivation and R2 clan:
The rice farming, supposed to have originated in South-East Asia, East Asia regions, was brought to India (or North East or East India) by people carrying Haplogroup O. There they met Burushaski speaking Haplogroup R2 people. There was cultural exchange between these two groups. You can note in Sengupta et al(2006) study that Haplogroup R2 is one of the main, >5%, lineages of Austro-Asiatic and Sino-Tibetan tribes.

Very soon, rice cultivation along with Munda languages spread throughout India by the R2 clan Also, the Munda harvest festival Bisu(The Ahoms might have turned it into Bihu, sound change s->h). However, Indo-European languages in the North and Dravidian languages in the South supplanted Munda languages in the later period. Therefore, in most of the regions the name of the festival changed except Assam, Kerala and Tulunadu. Punjab also retained the original name in a way that the word, baisakhi, most plausibly dervied from 'bisu'.

Nevertheless, the celebration of this festival, Assam in the East, Kerala, Tulu Nadu in the South-West coastal India and Punjab in the North-West(back migration), around this time, plausibly indicate the movement of R2 clan from East India. Around 20% of East Indians carry this lineage. May be around 8-10% of the Punjabis do. I am expecting 10-20% of Tuluva, Malayalees carrying this lineage.

R2 clan might also be responsible for the spread of Parboiled rice in Bengal in East and Kerala, Tulu Nadu in South-West coastal India.

Note : bEsige is tatbhava(derived form) of the Sanskrit word vaishakha. However, I do not agree with it as that won't fit well with my arguments. In my opinion both vaishakha and besige are derived from some Munda word.
Curiously, the word hot in Kannada is 'bisi', Tulu 'bechha'. But in Tamil it is sUdu. There are Kannada equivalents of the Tamil word but no Tamil equivalent of Kannada/Tulu word. Probably, Munda speakers might have influenced these languages. Anyway, Haplogroup R2 is less than 5% of Tamil population. However, Kannadigas and Telugites might have been under other dominant cultural influences as both celebrate Chandramana Yugadi(Lunar new year) and not Bisu.

Update: 15-Apr-2006
At StarLing database of word roots, I couldn't find Malayalam and Tamil equivalent of Tulu/Kannada word bisi. One of the derivative of this word is bisilu meaning sunshine. In Malayalam/Tamil there is an equivalent word beyil(in my Malayalam) or veyil meaning the same. s->y sound changes are very common in Tamil/Malayalam. eg. basiru(kannada) - vayiru(tamil) from Proto-South Dravidian *vasir(Ref: StarLing database). Of course, I strongly believe the original sound is 'b' and not 'v' in Proto-South Dravidian.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Origins of Indians : Version 3.0

The diffusion of Indo-Aryan languages:
The present model is that a small croud of Indo-Aryan elites forced their language on native Dravidian, Munda speakers. I shall remain sceptic of this "elite dominance" model until I'm clear about,

1. If Vaidiks found any linguistic difference between the native poulations and themselves as they entered North-West of India.
2. The relation between Sanskrit and Prakrit
3. Antiquity of Prakrits vis-a-vis Vedic Sanskrit

Until then, I am proposing the following expansions inside India:
Linguistic groups Major Haplogroups Region
1. Mundas R2, L, O North and East India
2. Burushos R2, R1a1, H1 North-West India
3. Dravidians R2, L, R1a1, J2b2, F, H*, H1 South-West India
4. Semites (extinct) J2b2, J2a Near East
5. Prakrits(IA) H1,R1a1, L West-Southern Central Asia
6. Vaidiks(IA) R1a1 Kurgan or Central Asia

Marathis, Who are they?:
The first kings(Shatavahana) that ruled the region of Maharashtra supported Prakrit. However, the later kingdoms of Chalukya, Rashtrakuta were identified with Kannada language and culture. And the Sevunas(Yadavas) were equally supportive of both Kannada and Marathi.
What was the major language in the region of present day Maharashtra?

Some people believe the language closest to Kannada was later supplanted by Indo-Aryan Marathi. I'm not so sure when the dominant Marathas are predominantly Haplogroup H. In fact, I have read that Marathi came into prominance as Maratha tribes became dominant. I suppose unlike Gonda tribes, these Maratha tribes were in fact the later Prakrit migrants to Central India.

Multiple migrations in a slight different way:
I would say, there was a single migration of the people carrying Vaidik culture and they were predominantly Haplogroup R1a1 from Kurgan areas. Multiple migration of this people would have clearly left some kind folklores, at least, from the later migrations especially consdering they had kept their religious traditions in tact by oral traditions for almost a millennium after entering India. Therefore, it shows the dominance of the native North-West Indians among these Vaidiks and minority position of the original Vaidiks.

In my opinion, before the arrival of Vaidik people there were multiple migrations from Haplogroup H1 tribes from Iranian or Kurdish area to North-West of India or deep into India. The people who moved South lost their language due to emerging Dravidian cultural life. However, in North, East and Central India these H1 Prakrit tribes survived because of emergence of Vaidik culture as both Sanskrit and Prakrit were hardly diverged much around 3500 years ago. However, it's impossible to believe that Sanskrit could have spanned so many Indo-Aryan languages in North India considering the fact that it was always made unavailable to the common people. However, non-Vaidik Prakrits did not have any such purity ideas.

Skin Colour:
I suppose skin colour lightened even among Indo-Aryan , Prakrit, speakers of Iran, Afghanistan much later.

None of the major Haplogroups in India, H1, R1a1, R2 and J2 show a uniform cultural, linguistic patterns. Therefore, not only racial models of cultural/linguistic patterns fail miserably, even the linguistic models of invasion and elite dominance harldy explain the complex scenarios(like that of Marathis) of Indian past history.

Saturday, April 08, 2006


After India won the one day series against England, an Indian news channel broke the news under the caption "Brownwashed". I donot think I agree with that even if it was pun intended. I would consider it lack of imagination than mark of wittiness.

Who set those identity rules anyway? Do we really want to play by such unscientific, prejudiced and stereotyping rules? Giving legitimacy to those compromizing or middle way identities is hardly the sign of confidence. The derived identities like these help to gloss over the original identity's short comings and in fact makes it a master identity.

The identity we choose for ourselves must be strong enough to be a master identity. However, considering our weak position it should be at least exclusive, unburdened by any qualitative relation with other identities.

Of course, I support identity-free world. I think it will be a reality but not in my life span. Also, I donot think India will be the strongest country in my lifetime. Therefore, for the time being we should have an exclusive(but not indifferent) identity.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

South Dravidian languages -IV

In all my previous posts on this subject I doubted about antiquity of Tamil and wondered how it could be the closest to Proto-Dravidian. After reading an old article on it written by E. Annamalai, former Director, Central Institute of Indian Languages, Mysore, I think I was probably over reacting to some propaganda by chauvinistic Tamils all over the web. In the official circles Tamil==Proto-Dravidian views were being scrutinized for some time now.

As I have mentioned earlier, the earliest literary traditions in Tamil might have fossilized the language. In my opinion, it could be the closest to the Proto-South Dravidian that reached the region of Tamil Nadu. Indeed, the author mentions that,

This conservative nature of high Tamil(modern Tamil) aids the political construction of the popular belief that Tamil is the mother of all Dravidian languages, making Tamil and Proto-Dravidian coalesce.

Probably, we can safely assume that Proto-Tulu and Proto-Kannada are in fact older than Proto-Tamil if you consider migration routes. But as I have mentioned earlier, Malayalees were in fact, Proto-Tuluvas, who lost their language because of Tamil dominance. The Tamil they adopted went on to grow into an independent language. Ergo, Malayalam is the youngest of the major South Dravidian languages. Therefore, the language tree of South Dravidian languages would hardly change.

A rather unfortunate fallout of this Tamil==Proto-Dravidian popular belief is the linguistic studies dealing with developing higher level language families.

Among the living languages, genetic relationship has been suggested with far-flung languages like Basque in Europe, Japanese in Asia and Wolof in Africa. Their comparison with Tamil, not with Proto-Dravidian (indicating the mistaken coalescence mentioned above in the scholarly world also), is methodologically faulty given the time scale of any possible relationship.

I wonder how much progress has been made after that article was written(2003). I also wonder if the sound changes v-> b were in fact b -> v. I mean Kannada, Tulu and Brahui(may be North Dravidian languages too) commonly show words starting with 'b'. Even my mother-tongue(the so-called dialect of Malayalam spoken in Kasaragod) show the words starting with 'b' and never 'v'.