“Secret Mantra is like a treasury of ancient Indian culture. Normally, when we say Secret Mantra, we think about it as a religious thing done out of faith and devotion, yet we don’t think about in terms of its value relating to Indian sub-continental culture, history and knowledge. This is also a quality of Secret Mantra Vajrayana.”
—17th Karmapa in Origins of Secret Mantra (Day 2)
Here is the second day write-up and review of the 17th Karmapa’s teachings on the ‘Origins of Secret Mantra’ (for video of teaching, see here). The Karmapa continued with an overview of the origins of the first two main periods of ancient Indian civilization and knowledge, as a means to begin to understand the origins of Secret Mantra Vajrayana.
In Part I of the teaching, the Karmapa continued to explain the origin, significance and development of the Indus Valley civilization and how the geographical location of mountains and oceans, made it difficult for invaders and foreigners to enter the vast Indus Valley area unless they came via the Kyber Pass, on the western side of India. He then considered research as to why the Indus Valley civilization disappeared, which rather than due to the Aryan invasion was more likely due to a natural disaster caused by weather.
In Part II of the teaching, the Karmapa gave an overview of the arrival of the Aryan[i] people from the West and Northern regions and their huge influence on language, culture and religious and literary texts. In addition, he spoke about the native (or indigenous people) at that time, the Dravidians who were shorter and darker-skinned than then invading Aryans. The Aryans appropriated and mixed parts of their culture with their own. The origins of secret mantra can be seen in some of the deities worshipped by the Dravidians that are not found in Aryan culture. He concluded by stressing how important was for practitioners of Secret Mantra to know its origins and be able to discuss it with contemporary scholars. There have been accusations that Tibetan Buddhist Vajrayana is not pure, and we need to be able to debate with and challenge their assertions.
Interesting to note that the Tibetan source river of the whole Indus Valley gives life and sustenance to a huge area of India and other countries. In a strange twist of fate, India is now one of the main sources of life and refuge to Tibetans in exile. May we never take for granted the source of our lives and livelihoods and the great Himalayan rivers of Asia.
May this post and the teachings in it be of benefit and may we all understand the root sources of Vajrayana and its indigenous culture!
Musical theme? Mohejno Daro: A Song of Mystery:
Or Whispers of the Heart from movie, Mohenjo Daro.
Written, transcribed and edited by Adele Tomlin, 28th August 2021
PART I: THE INDUS VALLEY CIVILISATION AND ITS DISAPPEARANCE
Entering the Indus Valley
“So as I mentioned yesterday, Indian is in the South of the Indian sub-continent. On one side there is the Indian Ocean and then the Arabian Sea on the other side. The East, South and West sides of India are surrounded by oceans. In the North, you have the Himalayan mountains and the Hindu Kush mountain range, so the surrounding mountains are like a natural fence closing off the national border. If you think about it in terms of geography, it has all the geographical features needed to be an independent country. As you all know, the Himalayan Mountains are among some of the highest in the world. The high altitude means they are always covered with ice. Crossing the Himalayan range to make contact with the outside world is difficult. In the North-Eastern areas of India there is the state of Assam, then below that Burma, so between the two of these there are several deep gorges, there are ways to go out through them but it is difficult. The best path or way is in the North-West section of that area. There are some mountain passes and valleys you can pass through, particularly in the area of Pakistan such as the Kyber pass, which is a well-known pass. In the past, most invaders came through the Kyber pass and from that direction. It was an important path of travel in ancient Indian history.”
The Indus River and its five main tributaries
“The next thing is about the Indus river. As I mentioned yesterday, the reason we called India, Hindustan is because of this river. This is called the Sindu river in Sanskrit, or called Sengge Khabab (Descent of the Lion) in Tibetan. It flows down from Mount Kailash in Tibet. Tibet is in the North so it comes down from there in a western direction into India. In the upper regions of Indus Valley there are five tributaries that join it. The reason the area below that is called Punjab is because that is where the five great rivers join. They join the Indus river and flow down to the Arabian Sea. The important thing about that is that is a great valley for agriculture. This is also a region that is an important source for Indian culture and connection with the outside world, since most foreigners came from the West via the Kyber pass and came through that region. It was difficult for them to come from another direction. “
The Ganges and Yamana rivers and the strategic importance of Delhi between the two
“When foreigners invaded India they would first take the area of Punjab and then continue eastwards to the Ganges river valley, which was also an important area. The reason is that the Ganges river is longest of all the rivers in India. It’s over 3000 km and its source is in the Himalayan region. There are many tributaries of the Ganges but the most important is the Yamana river.
The largest tributary is the Yamana, so the places where the Ganges and Yamana come together is the most fertile area of India. The Yamana and their confluence and place where they join, was the centre of ancient Indian culture and politics and trade and so forth, and these days is the capital of Delhi. To the west of Delhi there are some highlands, and these highlands to the West are like the border of that divide between the two watersheds is in Delhi. In military terms, Delhi is an important travel way between these two sites. That is is why in ancient India, when there were wars between different Kingdoms, they would see if they could take Delhi and its surrounding regions. In the 13th Century, Delhi became the capital of India; it is a hub from which people could take control over the Indus and Ganges river valley.
In any case, in India it’s either surrounded by oceans, or mountains or glaciers. Even within India it can be difficult to move around it. When we look at the texts we can it was difficult to go from one region to another.
If we think about that this in a good way, these rivers and mountains created natural boundaries and thus allowed different regions, cultures and politics to remain. If we look at it from a different, more negative perspective, there are so many different regions living independently that there are many different peoples, languages, which created a lot of difficulties for uniting India. This is primarily because of the geographical features. That is important to understand.”
Human civilisations in India from the Stone Age up to the Indus Valley civilisation
“Within this region of India, when did humans first arrive? The earliest traces of the oldest humans are in the Paleolithic era, the Stone Age. It is difficult to say when that was exactly. They did not use Bronze or Iron but made stone tools. When they used Stones, it is called the Paleolithic Age. In the Indus River Valley area, there are stone age regions. This was probably about 400 000 to 100 000 BC; a very long time ago.
As for the Middle Stone Age, sites of those can be found all over India in a much larger area than the earlier Stone Age. These are from around 40 000 to 5000 BC.
Then there is the Neolithic Era, which is from around 5000 BC in India. We know this from the unearthed different artifacts. These are larger regions than the era before that. The most well-known areas are in South India. I won’t mention all the names as it is too complex.
At the end of that era, they began practicing agriculture. Before they didn’t know how to do that, so they learnt how to plant crops and so on. However, at that time, they only had stone tools to use; they did not have the technology to use bronze or iron. Thus, only later they did that and learnt how to spin and weave and create clothing. Then after unearthing artifacts, they found many gems such as turquoise from east Asia, and thus they engaged in trade. That culture appeared at that time. What this tells us that they developed into using stone and bronze as tools and so the culture of human knowledge increased at that time. That age when they used stone and bronze together is called the early Harabha or Indus Valley civilization.”
Indus Valley Civilisation pre- and post- 1800 BC
The Karmapa continued to speak about the Indus Valley Civilisation and it
“Yesterday, I spoke about four main periods of Indian history. We can divide that first period, the Indus Valley civilisation into two eras:
1) period from 3000 to 1800 BC
2) post Indus Valley civilization, 1800 to 1600 BC
If we look at the first period, it originated around 3300 BC, we know this due to recent research on the Indus Valley civilization, that they used both bronze and stone together. This became the first civilization in Indian history and that is why we call it Indus Valley civilization. Another name is Harappa civilization. It is one of the oldest and most impressive.
At first, no one knew about this civilisation. We only learnt about it recently, as from 1921 -22, they excavated sites at Muharba and Mohenjo Dharo, and then people realised there was this civilization. That was when India was under British control. Later, when India and Pakistan attained independence, they continued research into the Indus Valley and searched for other sites, discovering that the civilization area was very large and extended beyond and covered a very large area.
On this map, it shows clearly, the extent of the Indus Valley civilization. It represents the size of the civilization. there are many different names on the map, I won’t’ mention them all.”
“In any case, the Indus Valley Civilization covered a very large area and among all the civilizations in the world, it is larger than the areas covered by the ancient Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt. These are also well-known civilizations, and the area covered by the Indus Valley is larger than areas covered by both of these. For that reason, there have been several hundred archeological sites that have been discovered. For example, there are 5 or 6 different areas where there are remains of ancient cities.
One of these is Mohenjo Dharo. This is an area that had about 30 000 inhabitants. The Indus Valley had a high level of development and an urban civilization. These are the sites (see image above) of the ruins. When they first found the ruins of these cities, they started to estimate the dates of the city, and there have been many different dates they have proposed for them, they recently used carbon dating techniques, the clear results that came back is that the Indus Valley civilization existed from 2300 to 1750 BC.”
[Author’s note: in 2016, Bollywood released a movie called Mohenjo Daro, about and based in the ancient city, see title song here.]
Origins of the Indus Valley civilization – indigenous or foreigners?
” There are differing opinions on this origin of this civilization. Formerly, a few decades ago, scholars thought that this civilization must have been transported from outside India. As they did more research, they thought that the people who founded it were the local residents of that area and not foreigners to the region. There was no source to support that.
There were people in this region before the Indus Valley civilization flourished. There were several ethnic groups that came to India. The Dravidian people, the Kolarian peoples and the Mundas, who came to India several thousand years before and settled there. They had been there a long time and become the indigenous people of India, who had lived the longest there. Among them, it is said the Dravidian people first developed the civilization.”
Urban civilization – housing, crafts, writing
“The most important feature is that is has the signs of an urban civilization. In this image I am showing (see above), scholars made this drawing based on the ruins that had been found. They lived in an urban setting and lived through handcrafts and trade. In particular, the unearthed artifacts included pottery painted in colour and finely crafted works and of high quality. Likewise, the stone jewels were also very high quality. Their craftsmanship was very precise and fine. They also found a lot of textiles and weaving artifacts.
Here are some stone statures that have been excavated:
They also had seals/stamps that were unearthed:
“At that time, the city was not like a chaotic jungle. It was ascertained to be well-planned. If you look at the shapes of the house, their level of technology was high. They knew how to build walls, rooms for washing and living etc. They had many different things which they had worked with bronze and found several thousand seals. On them they have letters and drawings. there is a picture of an ox and above it some sort of writing. So they had writing and letters and they also found metal and pottery that had writing on it. It is such an ancient form of writing that many researchers have not been able to decipher the script. So there are different questions about the civilization, but as we are unable to read the writing, we cannot know. We can only guess or estimate what it was like, we cannot definitely say.
At the time that it flourished, we can infer there was a lot of religious worship of gods and so on, as they have unearthed many such religious artifacts. Such as these seals and stone statues related to that. It seems they worshipped many different gods. Some of them have human form, some animal forms. For example, in India, Indra was considered important; there are drawings similar to the god Indra in the Indus Valley civilization. There are also many female figures among the religious artifacts. They also had faith in goddesses. This is an important point for us to remember in terms of the origin and development of secret mantra.
As I mentioned before, there is a scholar from Japan called Yukei Matsanaga, who is a very important scholar on the secret mantra, makes this point that this civilization had a great influence on later Indian culture. It is not an Aryan civilization, because it was after the Indus Valley had disappeared that the Aryans came to India. The Aryan people had a great influence on Indian culture but the Indus Valley did too. In the Secret Mantra there are many forms that exhibit traces of the non-Aryan culture that have been incorporated into secret mantra Vajrayana, as this Japanese scholar has said.”
Disappearance of the Indus Valley civilization – natural disaster not Aryan invasion
“There were probably social classes, such as a King, military, nobility etc. in the society. In order to have a state, you have to have a city and there were five or six ruins of cities, probably the first time a state had developed in India. However, the details of these cannot be described accurately. That is because they have not found any manuscripts or information other than artifacts. In the end, the Indus Valley civilization disappeared very quickly it was said due to the Aryan arrival. Currently, other scholars are examining the different sites, and they say the arrival of the Aryans in India was several hundred years after the civilization disappeared. For that reason, they are saying it was not due to the Aryans because if that happened then, there would have been armed conflict between the two. Yet, there are no signs of that happening. Thus they say there is no evidence for this earlier idea that the Aryans’ arrival destroyed it.
In any case, the fully developed civilization probably lasted about 600 years. After that it declined and that was probably around 1750 BC. Now if we wonder what was the cause of that decline, they are unable to say. People have different opinion. Some say the cities were destroyed and the trade also then ceased. They also say the many different crafts also declined. That the people who inhabited the cities spread to many different areas and eventually disappeared. Other than in the Lotar area, don’t what it is in English, that is the Chinese word. It was able to remain there, but in other areas it declined quickly.
A reason it declined quickly is due to changes in the climate, according to scholars, who say there is evidence that there had been floods and other destruction. So perhaps there was a huge environmental disaster and maybe they had to flee. Alternatively, maybe there was a great famine and people could not eat etc.; or some other event where they had to flee to other locations, such as a huge drought and the crops failed. However, they say mainly it was changes in climate and weather that caused its decline. Some scholars say it is possible it was a natural disaster or that there were invaders from abroad, but they cannot say who.
At that time, this culture occurred around 1500 BC. That culture and Indus Valley there was a connection with people from North-Western India who came and revived or Aryan peoples who arrived and they began this new culture. The main thing here is Northern India. However, India is huge, so what culture developed in South and East India? They say it was probably in the Neolithic Age, that they developed their own independent civilizations that had no connections with those in North India.
At that time, in all the areas of India, many different cultures developed and all these were founded by different ethnic groups and origins. All these cultures reached many different levels of development, it’s not like they are a single culture with the same level of development and technology. The Indus Valley civilization probably had a great influence on the cultures that developed later. However, the biggest difference was that the Indus Valley became an urban civilization but the other areas were less developed and village cultures.”
PART II: ARRIVAL OF THE ARYANS AND THE CULTURAL ORIGINS OF SECRET MANTRA
The Vedic Period and the arrival of the Aryans
“The second period is very important, it is the Vedic Period (see image above). Within the Vedic era, there are two different periods. First, the earlier period or the Punjab period. the dates are 1400 to 1100 BC. The second is the Late Vedic Period; this is from 1000 to 500 BC.
Now after the Indus Valley disappeared, a new culture appeared. The Aryan people developed this civilization. Before talking about the Aryan people we first need to look at a map. The Aryans migrated to India and when they arrived it was after the disappearance of the Indus Valley. Their arrival in India was through the Kyber Pass path in the North-West of India. They arrived gradually not all at once. Then they settled there.”
Meaning of the word Aryan
Aryan is translated as ‘phagpa’ in Tibetan, which means superior and noble. It comes from the Aryan language, and the texts of the Vedas[ii]. Aryans would say ‘I am Aryan’, as Tibetans say ‘I am Tibetan’. They would say it proudly, like ‘I am superior and from a good clan’. Some scholars say that actually the meaning of the word Arya is to obey and have faith and to worship. The reason they say that is because the Aryan people consider themselves very faithful and religious people who have faith in the Gods. When they arrived in India they saw that people did not have that faith and devotion and so called themselves by that name.
Previously, some European scholars said that Aryan is the name of an ethnic group, like Tibetan or Chinese and so on. However, later scholars said there is no Aryan race; there are many different ethnic groups within the Aryan people. The main point why they are called Aryans is they have the same language. Even if they don’t have same ethnic group, they have the same language. It is an Indo-European language and the reason we know this is because Aryan people came from Central Asian regions first.
They were primarily nomadic people. Probably around 3 or 4000 years ago, they divided into two groups, one group went to Europe and many present day Europeans are Aryans. Another group went to the East, and they came to the Hindu Kush mountain range and passed through that region, they followed the areas of the river in Afghanistan and came to the area of one of the rivers in Punjab and settled there. In that region, they divided into two groups. One of these groups went from the west to the south towards Arab countries and arrived in Persia, Iran. They developed the Persian civilization. The remaining people continued down to the South East and the region of Punjab. For this reason, those who arrived in Punjab are called Indo-Aryan peoples.”
For a short video on the Aryans in India, see here.
Aryan Language: mother of Indo-European languages
“The Aryan peoples initial origin is in Central Asia. First, they all lived together and had the same language which then became the source language of other different languages. The mother of all their languages is the same. Latin, western European languages come from the same mother, Aryan. Over the passage of time their languages diverged and became different[iii]. We are speaking about Indo-Aryans.
They arrived in the area of Punjab. The reason is it called Punjab is that for the Indus river there are five major ones that flow into it. Punjab is a Persian word, Pun means five and jab means river: the five rivers. In Sanskrit, it is called the Pachnada, the five rivers. Sometimes they talk about seven rivers, but actually it is five rivers.
Before the Aryans arrived in that area, there were indigenous people who lived in that area, mainly Dravidians people[iv]. The Aryans looked down on them, and feel superior to them and see them as lower class and uneducated. When the Aryan people arrived there initially they seized the area of Punjab and then they had a battle or conflict with the indigenous people and in that battle, the Aryan called them ‘dasa’ which means enemies or opponents. The Aryan people’s opponents had darker skin and when they spoke it was in a way that was coarse and their noses were flat and they didn’t conduct sacrifices and so on. For that reason, many scholars when they research this, they say the people were probably Dravidian people.”
Cultural Appropriation and Assimilation of the indigenous, Dravidian culture and people
“If we compare the Aryans with Dravidians, they were tall, knew how to ride horses, they also had carts and chariots in battle and had superior weaponry and strategies. They were able to easily subdue the Dravidian people and the Aryans made them into slaves and peasants. Then their population grew, and they moved to different regions from 12th to 9th Centuries. They went to the Ganges river area and invaded and fought the original inhabitants who lost. Not only that, the Aryan people formed states or became like the source or hub of the civilization.
When they first arrived and fought the natives, they also borrowed and appropriated the best parts of their culture and combined them with their own culture and civilization. That Japanese scholar I mentioned before, Yukei Matsanaga, was a Japanese monk who conducted a lot of research into Secret Mantra. He says that the Aryan people arrived in the Ganges river valley and they incorporated elements of the original culture there. Then, later a new culture developed that had elements of both cultures.”
[Authors note: some scholars have asserted that the Aryan vs Dravidian narratives were manufactured and propagated as a tool of divide and rule, see here.]
The Influence of the Dravidians on Secret Mantra and a combination of cultures
“Not only do we see this combination of different cultures in Indian history, we also see it in Secret Mantra Vajrayana. For example, we have the wrathful deities, which are not Aryan culture. these came from the Dravidian people. Later, in the Gupta culture was talk about the five great wrathful deities only in the 5th Century.
Then there is Vajrayakshani, in the Indus Valley there was a lot of goddess worship. The goddesses they worshipped was very similar to the Vajrayayashani. Likewise, there is Parna Shavari. There was no discussion of that in Aryan culture. Similarly, we talk about the great Mayura. This comes from the Munda people’s language. it is not related to Aryan.
We talk about Nāgas and Yakshas in Secret Mantra and also in Mahayana and Hinayana. There is no mention of Nāgas in Aryan culture. In India then, there were cobra snakes and they became Nāgas and made offerings to them. So in the past, there was a culture that worshipped snakes; Nāgas, the name for cobras.
In Secret Mantra, there are wrathful deities that eat human flesh, wear necklaces of snakes of human heads and so on, this comes from the Dravidian peoples. The goddesses of the Dravidians also wore those sort of adornments. These all come from the Dravidian culture and were incorporated into Secret Mantra. Later when we talk about female goddesses, we can see the influence of the Dravidian people. Later, the Aryan people also began to worship goddesses and so on, even though they did not do so initially. So there has been a lot of influence of non-Aryan cultures on the Secret Mantra. The Secret Mantra combines elements from many different cultures.
Therefore, it is not just in religious terms we have an interest in Secret Mantra, but culturally and so on, and the combination of different histories and philosophies contained within it. Secret Mantra is like a treasury of ancient Indian culture. Normally, when we say Secret Mantra, we think about it as a religious thing out of faith and devotion, yet we don’t think about in terms of its value relating to Indian sub-continental culture. This is a quality of Secret Mantra Vajrayana. If we talk about the early Vedic period, there is a lot to speak about and their myths and so on. We must also recognize and understand a few of the deities in the Vedic culture, as they are so important in the secret mantra Vajrayana.”
Conclusion – the importance of knowing the origins of Secret Mantra
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[i] An early Aryan civilization—dominated by peoples with linguistic affinities to peoples in Iran and Europe—came to occupy northwestern and then north-central India over the period from roughly 2000 to 1500 BCE and subsequently spread southwestward and eastward at the expense of other indigenous groups. Despite the emergence of caste restrictions, that process was attended by intermarriage between groups that probably has continued to the present day, despite considerable opposition from peoples whose own distinctive civilizations had also evolved in early historical times.
[ii] “The Sanskrit word ā́rya (आर्य) was originally a cultural term designating those who spoke Vedic Sanskrit and adhered to Vedic cultural norms (including religious rituals and poetry), in contrast to an outsider, or an-ā́rya (‘non-Arya’). By the time of the Buddha (5th–4th century BCE), it took the meaning of ‘noble’. In Old Iranian languages, the Avestan term airya (Old Persian ariya) was likewise used as an ethnocultural self-designation by ancient Iranian peoples, in contrast to an an-airya (‘non-Arya’). It designated those who belonged to the ‘Aryan’ (Iranian) ethnic stock, spoke the language and followed the religion of the ‘Aryas’.
The term Arya was first rendered into a modern European language in 1771 as Aryens by French Indologist Abraham-Hyacinthe Anquetil-Duperron, who rightly compared the Greek arioi with the Avestan airya and the country name Iran. A German translation of Anquetil-Duperron’s work led to the introduction of the term Arier in 1776. The Sanskrit word ā́rya is rendered as ‘noble’ in William Jones’ 1794 translation of the Indian Laws of Manu, and the English Aryan (originally spelt Arian) appeared a few decades later, first as an adjective in 1839, then as a noun in 1851.”
[iii] “There are probably hundreds of major and minor languages and many hundreds of recognized dialects in India, whose languages belong to four different language families: Indo-Iranian (a subfamily of the Indo-European language family), Dravidian, Austroasiatic, and Tibeto-Burman (a subfamily of Sino-Tibetan). There are also several isolate languages, such as Nahali, which is spoken in a small area of Madhya Pradesh state. The overwhelming majority of Indians speak Indo-Iranian or Dravidian languages. The Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European family is the largest language group in the subcontinent, with nearly three-fourths of the population speaking a language of that family as a mother tongue. It can be further split into three subfamilies: Indo-Aryan, Dardic, and Iranian. The numerous languages of the family all derive from Sanskrit, the language of the ancient Aryans. Sanskrit, the classic language of India, underwent a process of systematization and grammatical refinement at an early date, rendering it unique among Indo-Aryan languages in its degree of linguistic cultivation. Subsequently, the Prakrit languages developed from local vernaculars but later were refined into literary tongues. The modern Indian languages were derived from the Prakrit languages.” Britannica.com
[iv] “Dravidian peoples refer to the peoples that natively speak languages belonging to the Dravidian language family. The language group appears unrelated to Indo-European language families, most significantly the Indo-Aryan language. Populations of Dravidian speakers live mainly in southern India, most notably Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, Telugu, and Tulu. Dravidian has been identified as one of the major language groups in the world, with Dravidian peoples dwelling in parts of central India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Southwestern Iran, Southern Afghanistan, and Nepal. The origins of the Dravidian people and language has been difficult to ascertain. Anthropologists are largely at odds. A number of earlier anthropologists held the view that the Dravidian peoples constituted a distinct race. Some argue the origin of Dravidian before the Indo-Aryan invasion, making the Indus Valley civilization Dravidian. Still, others argue that Dravidian held sway in a much larger region, replacing Indo-Aryan languages. Genetic studies have concluded that the Dravidian people are not a distinct race but, rather, a common genetic pool between the Dravidian and non-Dravidian people in South India. Some suggest that the British Raj attempted to create a distinction between the races as a way of dividing and controlling the people of India.
The term Dravidian derives from the Sanskrit term Dravida. Francis Whyte Ellis of the East India Company was the first scholar to recognize the Dravidian languages as a separate language family, proposing in 1816 his “Dravidian proof” that the languages of South India are related to one another but are not derived from Sanskrit. Following the 1856 publication of Robert Caldwell’s Comparative Grammar of the Dravidian Or South-Indian Family of Languages, the Dravidian language grouping was established as one of the major language groups of the world. Caldwell coined the term “Dravidian” for this family of languages, based on the usage he observed of the Sanskrit word Dravida:
The word I have chosen is ‘Dravidian,’ from Drāviḍa, the adjectival form of Draviḍa. This term, it is true, has sometimes been used, and is still sometimes used, in almost as restricted a sense as that of Tamil itself, so that though on the whole, it is the best term I can find, I admit it is not perfectly free from ambiguity. It is a term that has already been used more or less distinctively by Sanskrit philologists as a generic appellation for the South Indian people and their languages, and it is the only single term they ever seem to have used in this manner. I have, therefore, no doubt of the propriety of adopting it.
Eighty-six languages have been classified as Dravidian. Further, the languages spread out and cover parts of India, South-Western Iran, southern Afghanistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka.