kapidhwaja, thanks for the materials. i didnt see the whole discovery film, it was too big to download. also thanks for the pointer to bharat rakshak and the great military heroes
the wikipedia article on cholas was very good. i liked it except for the stray reference to the 'aryans'
i have great respect for ancient tamils. the sangam era, karikala chola, rajaraja chola, the bhakti saints, the great thanjavur delta manufacturing center.
just look at the following:
0. sangam literature: some of the most beautiful indian poetry comes from this period. read ak ramanujan's translations; i remember in particular "red earth and pouring rain" -- absolute masterpieces
1. chola bronzes: the epitome of indian art, superlative pieces that have no equal
2. rajaraja/rajendra chola: the epitome of indian imperialism, with their naval armada that was the biggest ever assembled before the era of the steamship
3. karikala chola: his grand anicut across the kaveri is the *oldest* waterworks in the world, and it is *still* working after 2000 years
4. bhakti saints of tamil country: they (and sankara) revived hinduism. what we all know of as hinduism today was created by the nayanmars and azhvars such as manikyavachakar and avvaiyyar
however, modern tamils do not deserve any particular respect. they are loud (they dont believe in speaking, they only shout) and sort of imperialistic. ev ramaswamy naicker was trying to create 'dravidianism' as a new religion whereby tamils would dominate southern india. his goal probably was to have everyone in south india (which of course would secede from the north) bow 5 times daily and pray in the direction of chennai, which would be the imperial capital of 'dravidian' india which would be everything south of the vindhyas.
christism = expression of white imperialism
mohammedanism = expression of arab imperialism
marxism = formerly expression of russian imperialism, now expression of chinese imperialism
naicker was hoping to add
'dravidianism' = expression of tamil imperialism
alas, other south indians found this business hilarious. in fact, they have made a conscious decision to tolerate hindi (bihari ? :-) imperialism rather than go with the evr plan of tamil imperialism.
i also think a classical language needs a classical civilization. for the tamils, there was the sangam civilization and also the chola era. for telugu, there was the vijayanagar empire. kannada, i am not sure. but malayalam did not have a classical civilization other than the sangam civilization: in fact, two of the greatest tamil works were written in kerala -- silappadikaram and manimekhala. this is why i believe tamil is clearly a classical language, perhaps telugu is; i am willing to be educated about kannada, but i dont think malayalam is.
however, interestingly enough, as *modern* languages, kannada and malayalam are streets ahead of telugu and tamil. both have produced many world-class works, more so than tamil and telugu. in modern tamil, in my opinion it's only the epic works that are remarkable, such as ponniyin selvan and sivakamiyin shapatham. kannada has its karanth, ananthamurthy et al. malayalam has its thakazhi, vijayan, pottekkat, bashir et al. someone knowledgeable about telugu is welcome to correct me.
here are my tongue in cheek opinions on various southern languages:
1. telugu, sweet language, lots of sanskrit, but it also has a predilection for 'g' and 'nta', both harsh sounds. look at place names: gudur, guntur, gooty, guntakal, guntur, gummidipoodi.
2. kannada, also a sweet language, very sanskritized, it is mellifluous and easy on the ear
3. tamil, i would be able to tell if it is sweet or harsh if only they stopped shouting! i once had the misfortune to travel by bus from bangalore to trivandrum through tamil nadu in a bus which had a blaring tamil movie video. i almost died.
4. malayalam, a nasal and rapid-fire language, the most sanskritized of the lot, about 80% of malayalam is pure sanskrit. it was explicitly created from tamil to be able to express sanskrit characters and sounds
ok, i said semi-serious, so don't get your knickers in a twist, all right?
indian history needs to be rewritten to give the south its due. after all, the south is pretty much where the action is: a per capita income map of india shows a distinct southern/western advantage except for punjab.