Writing

I have completed the Ramayana, and no where does Valmiki, mention writing. Everyone ‘gives his or word’ and then sticks to it. Sri Rama upholds even his father’s words and not just his own. Kaikeyi calls on the 5 elements to bear witness to Dasaratha’s promises. Sugreeva and Sri Rama go around the fire to cement their friendship – they don’t sign a treaty. Sri Rama sends his ring through Hanuman to Sita and a verbal message, not a letter. Sita Devi sends back her hair ornament (chooda mani) to Sri Rama through Hanuman. Even to Bharata, Sri Rama sends a verbal message through Hanuman.

In those days a person who ‘went back on his word’ was cheap and not worthy of respect. Nothing was given in writing.

In Sri  Krishna’s time, Rukmini Devi sent him a letter, that she wrote, asking him to rescue her from marrying a king she disliked and praying that Sri Krishna himself would marry her. Valmiki taught Lava Kusa to sing the beautiful Ramayana, but Vyasa had Ganapathi write down the Mahabharata. Of course by the time of Janamejaya there were Dana Sasana Patras, letters of gift, written in the Sanskrit language, but possibly in Brahmi Script. Devanagari seems to be a later script.

The rock edicts of Devanam Priya Darshi (identified by mainstream historians as Asoka) were in the Prakrit language and in Brahmi and Other scripts. The Iron Pillar inscriptions are again in Brahmi script.

  1. Did ‘writing’ become prevalent between Sri Rama’s time and Sri Krishna’s time?
  2. So far I have come across Western histories of their scripts or western influenced theories of Indian scripts. I am still looking for a proper history of Indian Scripts.
  3. It is interesting that the Kannada word for writing ‘Baraha’ is the same as the word for Brahma in Vedas – the ‘Baraha’manaspati

Sakuntala‘s love letter to Dusyanta as described in Kalidasa’s Abhijnana Sakuntalam was on a lotus leaf, written with a finger nail. Though Sakuntala is earlier to Sri Rama, Kalidasa was later to Valmiki. The Vedas contain Dana Stutis (Verses of gifts) not Dana Patrams (letters of gift). They are often represented as books in pictures of the last millenium, but the Puranas and the Mahabharata were all in the speech form. Suta Uvacha (Suta said) or someone else Uvacha. Suta told the Puranas to Saunaka and other sages in the Naimisaranya.

We know that languages come before scripts. There is a theory that scripts evolved around the time when people moved from hunting-gathering to farming for a living.

  • The references to farming are very clear in the Ramayana. Sita Devi was found as a small baby in the furrow, when Raja Janaka was tilling the land as part of a Yajna, and that is how she got the name Sita. Gautama‘s wife was called Ahalya, the unploughed. (It is also a matter of interest that Balarama (Sri Krishna’s brother) went around with a plough on his shoulder and that he diverted the flow of the Yamuna River). Bharadwaja gave Rama and later Bharata barley and rice cooked with sesame to eat. Gautama grew ‘rice, barley and other grains’ in his hermitage.

There is evidence from carbon dating of pottery shards in Thailand (look here) of agriculture in Asia being at least as old as 4000 BC and may be even 10,000 BC. The Harappans ate rice. Since agriculture has been linked to scripting or writing, this is significant.

Harappan Writing

Harappan Writing

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This link here talks of The history of western scripts. but is not aware at all of Indian scripts. It has pictures and a time line.

  1. This article says that 9000 years ago (7000 BC) tokens for counting came into existence.
  2. And it says that about (4000 BC) 6000 years ago the counting tokens became symbols that could be inscribed in clay. (Sumerian culture. The word ‘Sumeru’ is very important to us. So let us remember it).
  3. The pictures initially looked like the things that they were so supposed to represent (pictographs) and slowly evolved into ideographs and became more stylized and easier to inscribe.
  4. Around 3100 BC, the Egyptians had developed the hieroglyphics, where picture-symbols represented sounds. It was more ‘consonantal’.

Please do take a look at the pictures in the link given above. It helps in understanding.

I want us to remember that Astronomical Dating gives the Mahabharata War around 3100 BC. And that Rukmini had written her love letter to Sri Krishna before that, most probably in Sanskrit, because she was from Vidarbha and he was of Mathura. The letter was carried to Sri Krishna by a Brahman. Okay, we will box that information for now and not draw any conclusions from it. We will just keep it in mind.

Please look here for more pictures of ancient western scripts. Here is a link that might prove useful: http://www.cs.colostate.edu/~malaiya/scripts.html

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I will keep expanding this article as I get more data…

Authorship and Copyright notice : All Rights Are Reserved : Satya Sarada Kandula

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