Building a Theory of the Indic Brahmi Writing System: Problems and Prospects
Contents: Preface. 1. Introduction. 2. The Brahmi writing system: background. 3. Framework for a theory of the Indic Brahmi writing system. 4. Some notes for a theory of the Brahmi writing system. 5. Final thoughts. Bibliography. Index. This book develops a consilience of research and thinking in epigraphy, archaeology and linguistics on the Indic Brahmi writing system. Its objective is to identify the problems that need to be tackled by anybody who tries to develop a theory of the Brahmi writing system. As for the currently scientifically supported hypothesis that Brahmi originated in Tamil Nadu during the sixth century BCE or earlier, Patel opts for the need to keep this as an idea for the working basket awaiting new archaeological research in the sixth-century Magadha region. The book deliberates upon how ancient Tamil Nadu was receptive to literacy. The Brahmanical fascination for orality blocked literacy in Vedic India. The brahmanas from north India entered Tamil Nadu only during the third century BCE and lived away from residential areas. Tamil Nadu at the time had no caste system. This is reflected in the Sangam literature, which followed historically the grammarian Tolkappiyar. The conditions in Sri Lanka before and after the arrival of Buddhism are noted in relation to the rise of literacy. The relationship between Brahmi in Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu is highlighted for the purpose of further research. Also noted is the need for research on the differences between Dravidian and northern scripts in the way the aksharas are formed in graphic representation.