In Search of a Tamil Lion – Tamil Word list 18


I was looking through Dravidian etymological dictionary to find some Dravidian root words and to my surprise there was no true root word for Lion (except for Yali,ali which I would discuss later in this post).

Ok first what is root word?

The root word is the primary lexical unit of a word, and of a word family (root is then called base word), which carries the most significant aspects of semantic content and cannot be reduced into smaller constituents.

This post is in search of the Tamil lion. The question here is do we have true Tamil root word for Lion???

First let us go through a list of words used in Tamil Literature for Lion

அரி ari

அறுகு aṟuku

ஆளி āḷi

கடுமான் kaṭu-māṉ

கொடும்புலி koṭu-m-puli

கோண்மா kōṇ-mā

கோவிலங்கு kō-vilaṅku

கோளரி kōḷ-ari

சிங்கம் ciṅkam

சிம்மம் cimmam

தெரிமா terimā

பூட்கை  pūṭkai

மடங்கல் maṭaṅkal

மறப்புலி maṟa-p-puli

மாபுலி mā-puli

முன்னம்³ muṉṉam

யாளி yāḷi

வட்புலி vaṭ-puli

வயப்புலி vaya-p-puli

வயமா vaya-mā

வன்மான் vaṉ-māṉ

வாளரி vāḷ-ari

விலங்கரசு vilaṅkaracu

Now we can separate this into groups,

First would be most commonly used words-  Tamilized version of Simha

Simha>சிங்கம் ciṅkam

Simha>சிம்மம் cimmam

Second most commonly word group would be derivative of Pakrit word Hari

Hari>Ari – golden yellow, Hari in saksrit means lion

Ma- Animal

Ari+ma –  Animal in golden yellow . (Root word Ari in Tamil means cut,itching – Ari in Arima is derivative of Indo Aryan root word Hari)

வாளரி vāḷ-ari -> Strong/powerful lion

கோளரி kōḷ-ari-> Strong/powerful lion

 

Other group of words used for lion is reference to Lion being king of forest, ko-. king

கோண்மா kōṇ-mā -> king animal

கோவிலங்கு kō-vilaṅku -> king animal

முன்னம் muṉṉam –> Chief animal

விலங்கரசு vilaṅkaracu

Most of the words are used to showcase its ferociousness and power/strength

கடுமான் kaṭu-māṉ – strong/powerful/ferocious animal

கொடும்புலி koṭu-m-puli- strong/powerful/ferocious animal

வட்புலி vaṭ-puli – strong/powerful tiger

வயப்புலி vaya-p-puli – strong/powerful tiger

வயமா vaya-mā – strong/poweful animal

வன்மான் vaṉ-māṉ – strong/powerful animal

மறப்புலி maṟa-p-puli – strong/powerful/ferocious tiger

மாபுலி mā-puli – great/strong tiger

ஆளி āḷi – lion – āḷi also means one who rules

Now lets go to other words used to denote lion,

தெரிமா terimā – could be either animal which investigates or animal which has powerful vision

மடங்கல் maṭaṅkal –

Matanku means – to be in control or subdue > Matankal – one who controls–> yama –> animal which has control/or destructive animal

Now lets come to the last category:

யாளி yāḷi is a mythical animal with lion face with tusks. This term is also used to denote lions

பூட்கை  pūṭkai  – is used to denote yāḷi, elephants and lions.

From the analysis except for yāḷi no other Dravidian root word is specifically used for lion. Yali is also primarly used as mythical animal with lion face.  This show that Dravidian language chain does not have root word for lion but has 3 root words for tiger which could mean ancient Dravidians might have not encountered lion.

 

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7 thoughts on “In Search of a Tamil Lion – Tamil Word list 18

  1. Yali is not a tamil word. Vyaala (வ்யால) is a sanskrit word that means any wild animal – sometimes specifically elephant, tiger, leopard also. Hari in Sanskrit also mean ape, monkey, horse, snake, peacock, cuckoo, frog, parrot – all much lesser used than the common meaning lion.

  2. The word Singam is a pure Tamil word. This is derived from the Tamil word Seku.
    ச
    ¹-
    த
    seku-, 1. To destroy, kill;
    கத
    . (
    ப
    .) 2. To conquer;
    வத
    .
    பபல

    வனக

    சம
    (
    சவக
    . 1903).
    ச
    Seku-> (
    சக
    Sekam)->(
    சக
    sikam)->
    சக
    si

    gam, n 1. Lion;
    மகவமள

    ஒ

    வல
    .
    ம

    சக

    மறர
    (
    ப
    .
    உச
    .47, 111). 2. Leo, the fifth sign of the zodiac;
    சகரச
    . (
    ப
    .) 3. A title, chieflyamong


    ā

    as, as in
    பலசக
    ;
    வளள

    ஒ

    படபய
    . (J.)
    சக
    si

    gam -> Telugu
    సింగము
    si

    gamu, kannada
    ಂಗ
    singa, Malayalam
    ചിങ്ങം
    chi
    ṅṅ
    am
    சக
    si

    gam -> Hindi
    सघ
    • (s
    ĩ
    ngh) m., Urdu spelling
    سنگھ
    , lion
    ச
    Seku-> (
    சக
    Sekam)->(
    சக
    sikam)-> (
    சவ
    sivam)-> (
    சம
    simam)-
    ச
    Seku-> (
    சக
    Sekam)->(
    சக
    sikam)-> (simka) -> Skt.
    सहः
    si

    ha

    1 Alion;. -2 The sign Leo of the Zodiac.. -3 (At the end of comp.) Best, pre-eminent of a class; -4 A particular place prepared for the building of a house. -5 (In music) Akind of tone. –
    ச
    Seku-> (
    சக
    Sekam)->(
    சக
    sikam)->
    சய
    ¹ sīyam , n. 1. Lion;
    சக
    .
    சய

    ம

    பப

    ரவ
    (
    ப
    .
    உச
    . 42, 85). 2. Leo, a sign of thezodiac;
    சகரச
    . (
    தவ
    .)
    சய
    ¹
    sīyam

    > Pali. Sīha, chinese

    shī, Burmese. Thiha
    Sanskrit pundits tried to connect with the word
    हस्
    hims and thereby claim that theword
    सहः
    si

    ha

    is alleged derived form
    हस्
    hims by merely saying “hinasti itisimhah” – hinasti smaraNa mAtreNa samasta pApAn iti simhah. According to thisinterpretation, the word himsa changes to simha by transposition of letters. Thereis no proof or logic for that claim.
    हस्
    hi

    s
    हस्
    1, 7 P., 1 U. (
    हसित
    ,
    िहनित
    ,
    हसयित

    ते
    ,
    हिसत
    ) 1 To strike, hit. -2 Tohurt, injure, harm;
    दीघ

    बुिमतो

    बा

    तायां

    हित

    हिसतः
    Pt.1.37. -3 To afflict, tor-ment;
    िहनित

    यगं

    वर

    इव

    गरीयािनप

    इतो
    Māl.2.1.
    -4 To kill, slay, destroycompletely;
    कत

    सू ते

    दुकृतं

    या

    िहनित
    U.5.31; R.8.45;

    िहनयामनामानं

    ततो

    याित

    परां

    गितम्
    Bg.13.28; Bk.6.38;14.57;15.78.If the alleged word
    सहः
    si

    ha

    is having the meaning of “to kill, slay, destroy” asmistakenly connected with the word
    हस्
    hi

    s
    हस्
    , the Tamil word
    ச
    ¹-
    த
    seku-, 1. To destroy, kill;
    கத
    . (
    ப
    .) is having the same meanings toevolve
    सहः
    si

    ha

    and is the direct root for
    सहः
    si

    ha

    सहः
    si

    ha

    is derived from the Tamil word “
    ச
    seku” on

  3. Tiger, like the elephant, is native to India; Lion is not. Lion, like the horse, was brought into India. Hence, it is logical that the reference to tiger (and elephant) is in original Tamil. Similarly, reference to the lion is in words borrowed from Sanskrit, the language associated with the invaders for whom lion was both real and symbolic.

  4. Interesting piece of information. I had earlier taken up a project on elephant names in Sanskrit and Tamil. Now I am on the Aryan lion and Dravidian tiger and this piece of information will come handy to my interpretations.

  5. Peria has made an important point. Let us not forget that lion was once widely distributed in most of NW India and now found only in Gujarat. I am working on a small topic on “Cultural, religious and mythological drivers influencing the depiction of the lion and tiger in Aryan and Dravidian literature”. Getting some interesting results. Very interesting indeed.

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