Journal article / Connections between Prakrit and Early Maṇipravāḷam literature in Premodern Kerala

Goren-Arzony, Sivan. ‘Sweet, Sweet Language: Prakrit and Maṇipravāḷam in Premodern Kerala‘. The Indian Economic & Social History Review. Published ahead of print, 17 January 2021.

Abstract: This paper studies the connections between Prakrit and early Maṇipravāḷam literature from premodern Kerala. Maṇipravāḷam (literally, ‘gems and corals’) is the emic term for a dominant part of Kerala’s premodern vernacular literature, binding together Kerala’s local language and Sanskrit.

As a highly Sanskritised register of a Dravidian language, Maṇipravāḷam has generally been viewed as having been inspired and influenced by either Sanskrit or Tamil literature, grammar, and poetics. This paper, however, highlights a rarely discussed aspect: the role of Prakrit in shaping both Maṇipravāḷam literature and theory.

I discuss the relation between Prakrit and Maṇipravāḷam in two connected ways: first, by considering the similarities between the practices themselves, especially in terms of their themes and aesthetics; and second, by examining the implicit ways in which Maṇipravāḷam theory, as it is presented in the Līlātilakam, Kerala’s first grammar and work on poetics, is structured on Prakrit materials or on Sanskrit materials dealing with Prakrit.

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Reposted from Kerala Scholars eGroup


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