Last time we
met, NSRP asked us about the origin of Telugu people. While I don’t have an infallible response to
this query, following points should enlighten your thinking.
to the people (or tribe) while Telugu refers to the language and region.
of Andhra tribe is seen in Mahabharata in which Andhras fought on behalf
Kuaravas. Historians peg the time of Mahabharata around 800-1000 BC.
Apparently Aitareya Brahmana Upanishad (~800 BC) references to Andhras.
Around 300 BC
Megasthanese, the Greek ethnographer who traveled India (and wrote
to Chandragupta Maurya that Andhras populated villages and towns around
area. Andhras were part of Emperor Ashoka’s kingdom.
- But we had many
other tribes/groups of people moved into various parts of today’s Andhra
Pradesh. After the fall of Mauryan empire (after Ashoka’s death) Satavahana
kings ruled Andhra with Dharanikonda near Amaravathi as capital (~200BC-200AD).
Their kingdom included many central Indian states of today. Then Cholas ruled
Andhra (with Vengi near Eluru as capital) that included parts of coastal Andhra
and Telengana. They were subjugated by Rastrakutas around 8th century
AD. Later Chola kings took over parts of Andhra. Raja Raja Narendra chola was
the King behind getting the first Telugu literature – Mahabharata translation
by Nannaya, considered the first Telugu poet.
- Earliest epigraphical
evidence of Telugu was found in Bhattiprolu, Guntur district. The inscriptions
were estimated to be written around 100-400 BC.
- Origin of the
word Telugu (alternatively Tenugu) is unclear. In our childhood text books used
to say the name derived from Tri Linga (Sri Sailam, Daksharamam, and Kalahasti
sivalingams) and the word Tenugu derived from Tri Naga (three mountain ranges).
But it’s disputed now. Some say it refers to people of fairer complexion (telu
= white), and some even say (ten = south) it refers to the language spoken in
southern parts of a region.
to the family of languages which are predominantly spoken in South
today. One exception
is Brahui which is spoken
in Baluchistan (Pakistan/Afghanistan). There is some speculation that
of proto-Dravidian language lived in Godavari area of Andhra Pradesh. The concept of Dravidian family of languages was proposed by
Robert Caldwell, a Scottish Bishop and linguist, in 1856.
Telugu sounds a lot closer to Tamil than Sanskrit although during its formative
years (300 BC-1000AD) the language was heavily influenced by Sanskrit vocabulary and according to some linguistic
scholars retained closer resemblance of some sounds as in Sanskrit vs.
Sanskrit-derived languages like Hindi.
the biological background of Telugu folks, we seem to share the same M
mitochondrial DNA (that is transmitted from mother to a child) or it’s
variations, as do most of other Indians. The origin of this particular
dates back to 60,000 years. As for the y-chromosome which gets
a father to a son, many of the Telugu people seem to share a close link
Asians, East Europeans and many other Indians. Relatively speaking the
of various y-chromosomes we inherited seemed to be less than 18,000
years old. The
degree of our DNA resemblance to the DNA of Central Asians, Eastern
and other Indians varies between 40%-80% depending on the caste. The DNA
map of Indians shows widest variation and mutations indicating waves of
populations coming and settling in various parts of India. As we know
now, the caste system seemed to be
hazy and was less iron-clad until the Gupta period (~4-6 century AD).
historians believe that caste system became regimental after Hindu
subsequent to the decline of Buddhism. As we know there was a lot of
even from the Hindu texts that suggest mixing of castes. There is even
that the caste system didn’t exist in the south.Regardless, my
conclusion is that there is
no purity of race, caste or other divisions that permeated the Indian
the last 2000 years. We are all mutts in the end! :)