The Dravidian people, commonly referred to as Dravidians, are a cultural and ethnolinguistic group residing in South Asia. They predominantly communicate in one of the Dravidian languages, and approximately 250 million people worldwide speak these languages as their mother tongue.
Dravidian speakers make up the majority of the population in South India and are native to various regions including India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, the Maldives, Nepal, Bhutan, and Sri Lanka.
Recent migration has also resulted in Dravidian populations in places like Singapore, Malaysia, South Africa, Myanmar, East Africa, the Caribbean, and the United Arab Emirates.
The Tamil language is the origin of the Sanskrit word “drāviḍa.” In Prakrit, terms such as “Damela,” “Dameda,” “Dhamila,” and “Damila,” which later developed from “Tamila,” may have been utilized to describe an ethnic identity. In the Sanskrit tradition, the term “drāviḍa” was also used to refer to the Southern region of India.
Origin of Dravidian People
Sir Herbert Hope Risley posited that the Dravidian people were the original inhabitants of India, but their present-day characteristics have been altered due to the influence of the Aryans, Scythians, and Mongoloids.
Carole Davies has noted that many academic researchers have attempted to connect the Dravidians with the remnants of the Indus Valley Civilization, particularly Asko Parpola, who extensively researched the IVC scripts. The Brahui population of Balochistan in Pakistan has been considered by some as the linguistic equivalent of a relict population, suggesting that Dravidian languages were once more widespread and eventually supplanted by Indo-Aryan languages.
Geneticist Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza, in his book “The History and Geography of Human Genes,” suggests that Austro-Asiatic people preceded the Dravidians in the Indian subcontinent, and Indo-European-speaking migrants followed them at a later time.
Thomason and Kaufman argue that there is strong evidence that Dravidian influenced Indic through a “shift,” where native Dravidian speakers learned and adopted Indic languages.
Erdosy believes that the most plausible explanation for the presence of Dravidian structural features in Old Indo-Aryan is that the majority of early Old Indo-Aryan speakers had a Dravidian mother tongue, which they gradually abandoned.
In conclusion, the Dravidian people are a significant cultural and ethnolinguistic group residing in South Asia. Their language family includes approximately 250 million people worldwide, who primarily communicate in one of the Dravidian languages. Dravidian speakers are native to various regions across South Asia, and recent migration has resulted in their populations in other parts of the world.
The origin of the Dravidian people is a subject of study by various scholars from different disciplines, and their findings provide diverse perspectives on the subject. Some scholars suggest that the Dravidian people were the original inhabitants of India, while others propose that they migrated to the region.
However, many academic researchers have attempted to connect the Dravidians with the remnants of the Indus Valley Civilization. The Dravidian influence on the Indic languages is also a subject of debate among scholars.