Before Ashoka period Paisachi languages were in vogue in southern peninsular India, known as ‘Bekinata’ during Vedic period (ca.1700-1500BC). Paisachi language apparently became obsolete in southern India, during the period ca 200-100BC as a result of replacement by Prakrit language as well as introduction of Dravidian languages. Influx of white immigrants (ca 500-400BC) was apparently one of the reasons for downfall of pre-existing language (Paisachi) and culture (Munda) in southern India.By Ashoka period (ca.250) the Bellar/Boller/Vellala white tribes not only admixed and assimilated with dark skinned aborigines consisting of early immigrants (60,000-10,000 BC) from Africa as well as early Munda tribes of Austro-Asiatic origin, but also superseded the aborigines in terms of socio-political advantages.
The Bellar immigrants introduced proto- Dravidian languages that evolved on a basement of Paisachi language, in southern India. The Dravidian languages Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, Tulu and Malayalam gradually evolved in different regions of the southern India. The languages developed individual identities depending on regional features and the nature of basement language.
King Ashoka (ca.304BC -232 BC) of Mauryan dynasty employed Brahmi script for engraving rock edicts (inscriptions) in Prakrit, the main administrative language of that period in India.Prakrit flourished along with Buddhism in parts of southern India probably till 400CE. Prakrit was influenced by evolving Sanskrit and vice-versa.
After 400 CE, Sanskrit and later Early Kannada replaced Prakrit as administrative language, especially in northern Karnataka.
Immigrant Bellar tribes (Vellala, Boller)
All over southern India, immigration of white (fair) skinned tribes into the peninsula has been distinctly marked out in place names.Karavali Tulu aborigines called them ‘Boller’ (=white people), Kannada aborigines designated them as ‘Bellar’(=white people), Tamils and Telugus noted them as Vellals(white persons).It is possible that in northern India these white immigrants were known as ‘deva’s (or Gods). Sanskrit Vedic texts and Puranas described wars between Deva and Asurs. Asur is the name of the subtribe of Munda aboriginal tribes of India. Who are these ‘Gods’ referred to by texts?
King Ashoka has described himself as ‘devanam priya’ or ‘devanām priyadarshi.’ ie One who is beloved (favourite) of Gods. By the term ‘deva’ (or Gods), Ashoka meant fair skinned people who were abundant in his kingdom that spanned all over the north India and extended upto present Afghanistan.Following Alexander’s Indian expedition, Greek and other Mediterranean people were frequenting northern India before and during the time of Ashoka.
Considering the explanation given by King Ashoka, the major period of immigration of these white skinned people into southern India probably corresponded with ca. 500-400 BC. However faired skinned tribes were evidently present in north-western Indian subcontinent as early as 1700 BC, the period of compilation of Rigveda.
|Evolution of Indian Languages with passage of time.|
Assimilation with Bellar ‘Gods’
In the Koppala Gavimata inscription (Koppal district, Karnataka) and in Brahmagiri inscriptions King Ashoka describes that people of the ‘Jambudwipa’ (ie south Indian peninsula), who were not mixing earlier with Devas (=Gods’), are now mixing with them (‘Gods’).
In the edicts Ashoka points out that earlier (before ca.250 BC) the southern Indians were not mixing with each other, but at the time of erecting the edicts Ashoka found that then devas and south Indians were widely mixing.
Thus epigraphs of Ashoka document a major period of genetic assimilation of white immigrants with dark skinned aborigines in southern India.