DRAVIDIAN, a term applied to the people who inhabited the southern part of what is now India previous to the advent of the Aryans, and also to the language spoken by these same peo ple. The Dravidian languages are generally considered to belong to the Turanian class — a family of languages said by some authorities to include all the Asiatic languages in general, out side the European and Semitic families. The Dravidian languages include the Tamil, Telugu, Canarese, Maylayalam, Tulu, Tuda, Gond, Raj and Oraon. There are other minor sub divisions made by some authorities. Only the first our mentioned have a literature. The Dravidians now occupy the greater part of the Peninsula of India. The Tudas, or Todas, in the region of the Nilgiri Hills, belong to the lowest of civilized people or races, while amass the Tamils are found many who have attained a lush place in literature.
The Dravidians proper are quite distinct from the Aryans, but they have been assimilat ing with those around them, so that now among win may be found traces of the Caucasians, and their literature partakes much of the Aryan culture; but they have kept their speech com paratively pure for centuries. In the southeast ern part of the peninsula and in Ceylon live those who speak the Tamil; estimated to be about 18,130,000 people. North of the Tamils, and on the east, are the Telugus, 23,540,000 in number. The Canarese is spoken by about 10,530,000 people who live in the western part of the peninsula; and tile Malayalam by about 6,790,000 people who live in the southwestern part of the peninsula. The Dravidian popula tion totals 62,720,000.
In the Tamil and Telugu languages there are a number of excellent literary productions; not all original, some are modeled on or adapted from the Sanskrit. Two of the poems which may be traced to at least the 10th century — but which the Tamils claim are much older — are the 'Kintamani' and the (Naladiyar.) The lat ter has been translated by Pope. The Tamils
claim also that Agastya lived before Christ and that he was the first teacher of science and lit erature. In about the 12th century, the poet Kambar made, in Tamil, an adaptation of the Sanskrit poem one of the two great epics of India; and in the 16th century the poet Ati-vira-Rama Pandya, a native king, wrote works of merit. The Tamil poet Tayu manavar wrote in the beginning of the 18th cen tury• and at about the same time an Italian missionary, a Jesuit named Beschi, wrote in the Tamil both prose and poetry. The work of this literary priest has done much toward directing the attention of Eastern scholars to the Tamil language and literature.
The oldest poem extant in Telugu language is a version of the Sanskrit poem, the (Mahati harata,> the other of the two great epic poems of India. This poem was written in the Telugu by Nannaya Bhatta, in the 12th century. A poet named Cesava of the 12th century wrote in the Canarese. In the Malayalam there is one poem based upon the Sanskrit, an account of Rama, a heroic prince who belonged to a royal house of India. There are also versions of both the
and the (Ramayana.) Con sult Arden, 'Grammar of the Telugu Lan guage' (Madras 1873) • Brown, 'Dictionary' of Telugu) (Madras 1852-54) ; Caldwell,