A grammar of the Telugu language/Preface
The English Government of Madras extends over various Hindu nations, each of which has its peculiar language. At the date of the Musulman invasion, eight centuries ago, while Canute ruled Britain, the Telugu, Karnataca (Carnatic), and Tamil countries were ruled by "Karnataca Razulu," Kings of the Carnatic, who took the title Tribhuvana Chacravarti (or Trailokya Malla), as "Lords of the Three Realms," in which these three languages were spoken. The last of these princes, named Betteda Raya, quitted the Jaina sect, and becoming a worshipper of Vishnu (in A.D. MCXI., about the time of Henry the First of England), took the title Betteda Vishnu Vardhana. He patronized the Bramhans, and in his days the first part of the Mahabharat (their sacred book) was translated from Sanscrit into Kannadi, Telugu, and Tamil metre. That work is to this day read in every village throughout the country. The earliest poems and philological treatises (now somewhat antiquated) are believed to have been written in the days of this raja. Actuated by a zeal for their hierarchy, the Bramhans of former ages translated this "Iliad of India," and also the Ramayan and Bhagavat, into every language.
About the time when, in England, Queen Elizabeth's reign began, the Telugus were ruled by Krishna Rayalu, who patronized literature; and the most eminent of the poets have sung his praises. But the Musulman power had gradually increased until about A.D. 1580, when the Telugus were finally conquered. From that time the languages of the three countries became more and more infested with foreign words; the literature was, as far as possible, crushed; and yet to this day every work of merit survives: these may be seen in a library which I collected, and presented to the Literary Society of Madras. It will, I hope, long remain in the College Library, although, while I write, the College has been dissolved.
C P. Brown's Telugu Grammar; Second Edition.
The Musultnan rulers strove to make their subjects learn PerSian and Hindustani, but with little success: and the few Hindus who managed to learn Hindustani (which they never could pronounce aright) altered its syntax, and hence arose the language called Dakhini, which gives the words a peculiar arrangement.
Each language of Southern India has (like English) a poetical dialect, which uses the entire vocabulary; and a colloquial style, which requires only about one-fourth of the phrases. Some have fanoied that the poets use a separate vocabulary; but this is not the case. To exemplify this in English: the words "Horse, courser, steed, nag, palfrey, hunter, pony, barb, jade, hack, bay, roan, grey"—"To think, reflect, consider, ponder, muse, weigh" —are all one; but the Hindu, understanding the first word alone, may fancy the rest obsolete, merely because they are not used in ordinary life.
While the language used in the poets is uniform, local dialects of Telugu vary; and we may be able to speak that of Kadapa, while unable to understand that of Raja-mahendra-varam, or Condapilli, or Visakha-patnam. But, for the purposes of mere tuition, now that the "Reader" is printed, a native of any part of the Telugu country will suffice for a tutor: indeed at Chittoor, and even at Tanjaur and Trichinapali, in the heart of the Tamil country, I met with Telugu bramhans who were excellent assistants. But, while young in the study, we should, as soon as possible, get rid of a tutor who can speak English: such a munshi is apt to neglect teaching, while he eagerly learns English from his pupil. In hiring servants, also, though such as talk English abound, we should early obtain such as will speak to us in Telugu. After we speak the language correctly, it is an indulgence to those around us to converse with them in English, for this benefits them.
Hindu grammarians, like those of China, neglect the colloquial dialect, which they suppose is already known to the student, and teach only the poetical peculiarities. They are willing to aid our studies, either in Telugu poetry or in Sanscrit; they are reluctant to teach us the language of common business: but unless we first surmount this, the lowest step (which natives attain untaught) how can we climb to the highest? A shrewd critic has observed, that "those who explain the poets have in all ages fallen into one common error: they have illustrated and magnified themselves first, and have given less thought to the work in hand."* The same want of judgment is evident in the course which native tutors recommend. Instead of ordinary dialogues, tales, trials, letters, and histories, Telugu assistants counsel us to read the venerated Srj Bhagavat(as a pious act), and the prose Telugu Ramayan, one or two books of the Mahabharat, the Sanscrit vocabulary by Arnara, the versified set of Telugu synonymes called Andhra-Bhasha-Bhushanam, or the treatises on grammar written by Nannaiia Bhalta and Appa Cavi.f Happily for me I never read one of these books until I had already (about the age of twenty-seven) acquired a command of the spoken Telugu.
I will mention some of the poems which seem profitable to the proficient. He may begin with a perusal of the verses of Vemana. These are useful as teaching a variety of common expressions. Such a series of verses is called a Satacam, or Anthology. A few of these little volumes are the works of accurate poets: others are merely juvenile essays. Next he should read the Lila, written in (dwipada,) couplets, and the Chenna Basava Puranam, which is written in "padya-cavyam," or stanzas. These two are disagreeable to Bramhans, as being heretical. He may then proceed to the four different poems on Harischandra's adventures, quoted in the dictionary as HK, HN, UH, and HD, He may then read the Abhimanya Dwipada and the adventures of Kalapurna, finishing with the Dasavatara Charitra and the Pancha Tantram. These poems have all been carefully edited, and fitted with elaborate commentaries framed in Telugu under my directions. Silly prose abridgements of the Pancha Tantram, and of the Vicramarca Tales have long been read by students, but are unprofitable.
Some who have not studied Hindu books speak of them as licentious; but there is more vice in Ovid's Metamorphoses, in Congreve's plays, and in Lesage's romances, than will easily be found in all Hindu literature.
- Hact, prefrace to his Delphin edition of Vigil.
! These unprofitable books are still, in 1836, taught t5o native people in the Madras University. Our learned assistants will disapprove the course of reading I have marked out: they zealously recommend books (especially the Bhagavat) which would soon discourage the student. A perusal of the volumes they venerate is considered an act of homage to the gods, conferring merit on the teacher and on the learner. But the Bramhans are excellent instructors, patient, humble, and admirably skilful. Until I had studied the poems with them for seven years, I did not perceive how perfect they are in learning.
Students were formerly examined, at the Madras College, in a manner not quite fair. The papers laid before them were new, never before seen. This was done, I believe, by the native examiners, who are fond of tormenting the aspirant. In the Telugu Dialogues, Reader, Wars of the Rajas, Tales, and Village Disputations, I have endeavoured to furnish a series of exercises and examination papers for every grade. The student ought, I think to be examined in these books alone, until he has completely mastered them; and afterwards he should read Vemana.
Native tutors urge us first to learn the very subjects which I have placed at the end of the work. The native method is followed by Mr. A. D. Campbell, in his "Teloogoo Grammar," an accurate, though very imperfect work, too intricate to aid the beginner. Mr. Campbell died in London, on the 23rd April, 1857.
Some absurdities, very dear to native tutors, call for notice, because they obstruct the progress of the learner. The alphabet, if counted in one way, contains so many letters, and if counted in another way, so many; certain letters are Sanscrit, and others are Telugu; some being common. These idle refinements furnish themes for wrangling. The verbs, also, are put through useless forms, thus; 'pamputa' To send, and 'cheyuta', To do, make the passives pampabaduta, and cheya-baduta; the causals being 'pampinpi', 'cheyingu' and the middle 'pampu-co' 'chesu-co.' Thus far is useful, but the tutors next propose fanciful forms which never occur, such as 'pampinpu-co-baduta. When we object that such phrases are never heard, the absurd answer is that they are possible. In the alphabet, too, every native tutor is apt to teach combinations of letters, such as lkha, sba, vpha, yra, khpa; and when we have acquired them, we find we have taken fruitless trouble, for these never occur. But the art of tormenting is carried to its highest pitch in teaching prosody; for they would gladly keep us at work for two years in learning as much as an English tutor would teach in a fortnight. We ask for grain: they give it us on the condition that we will, with it, submit to eat the straw. Their memory is well exercised, their judgment is fettered; and they counsel us to learn, as they do, long vocabularies by rote, whereas by reading the poets we can easily acquire an ample stock of all the words that are in use. Such unwise counsels have disheartened many a student; while others, more submissive, have stored their memories with all the tutor prescribed, and yet remained unable to use the language.
Telugu has been called the Italian of India. In the poems, and as spoken in retired villages, it may merit this name; but, like Italian, it has some rough and rude dialects, more or less mixed with foreign languages. In another point there is a resemblance. Learned men of Rome or Naples, who know English, prefer writing in English, because, according to the refined Della Crusca rules, they cannot write Indian faultlessly. In like manner the learned Telugus of our days find a difficulty in writing correct ordinary prose, because, however well it may be composed, critics cavil at many expressions or modes of spelling. After some study, I found it best to neglect their refinements, but to imitate their example closely in speaking and writing. The models 1 have given in the Reader of a simple natural style will enable the learner to judge for himself.
Many years have passed since the first edition of this Grammar was printed. In that period I have re-composed nearly every page; particularly attending to the remarks made by students
Let not the beginner be alarmed at the size of this Grammar. There is very little to be learnt by heart. The grammar terminates with the tenth book,* page 291. He should read it so as to be able to find such rules as are required whenever they are wanted, and few of these seem hard to remember.
Some have urged me to simplify the grammar, by rectifying
- The first book has been already reprinted in large octavo, with iprovements,and prefixed to the Dictionary. irregularities. But innovations can only be made by poets; and even such as they make do not always become current. My province was merely to observe, record, arrange, and explain facts, and to produce quotations in proof of my statements. A few years ago I was shown a manuscript Grammar, which was professedly an improvement of that I first published; but in reading it I found that the author had merely inserted all that I had rejected, and excluded such rules as were new, restoring the arrangement which I disapproved. ,
Failing health having obliged me to return to England while this work was in the press, the latter pages contain some errors; but there are none which will impede the progress of the student.*
If, in-the arrangement of the rules, I have taken a new course, it is because my great object has been to facilitate self-instruction, making the learner independent of oral aid. "Every man (says Parkhurst, in the Preface to his Greek Dictionary), who has thought much upon so curious and extensive a subject as grammar, may justly claim some indulgence to his own notions, and be allowed his own peculiar method of communicating them to others." This discretion may be profitably exercised when we have to examine principles which are well understood by the commonalty, but are obscured by refinements invented by the learned.
Our earliest English Grammars were arranged on the Latin system; and the oldest grammatical treatises on Telugu were constructed on the Sanscrit plan, though the two languages are radically different. The native grammarians of the present day are fond of the expression that " Sanscrit is the mother ;" but this does not allude to its origin; it merely denotes dependance, because we cannot speak Telugu without using Sanscrit words.
Some learned or half-learned natives find fault with the arrangement I introduced. Hitherto every path was overgrown with gay weeds of pedantry, which I have cleared away. While preparing a second edition, I have been exhorted to replace some of the riddles which they venerate, and which, in their eyes, render the science mysterious. But it is to be observed that the learned
- In london I prepared the preface and sent it printed to Madras; but the packet was not received,l and I therefore re-printed it, with some improvements. have passed over in silence many points which called for clear elucidation.
Some have wished me to exclude all notices of errors and blemishes in style; but how is the sailor to shun shoals and sands unless they are pointed out in the chart? The poet (in 2 Henry IV., act 4, scene 4) observes that —
"The prince but studies his companions Like a strange tongue; wherein to gain the language, "Tis needful that the most immodest word Be look'd upon, and learn'd: which once attain'd, Your highness knows, comes to no further use But to be known and hated."
Unless we read their books, and have daily communications with the Hindus, what insight can we obtain into the minds of the people? We have no intercourse with them in society: we live among them, as oil upon water, without mingling.* Many an Englishman has been acquainted with the natives for years, while remaining entirely ignorant of the peculiarities of the Hindu character. Missionaries seek and enjoy greater facilities; and such as have studied the poems acknowledge that books are the best guides to an acquaintance with the mind of the people. Some have severely judged the Hindus from the stories contained in Sanscrit poems; but these are obsolete, and widely different from modern traits of character. In like manner the prejudices of Hindus regarding ourselves, can only be removed by a course of English reading.
We are well aware that an Englishman residing in France, Spain or Germany, must become acquainted with the favourite volumes of Rousseau, Calderon, or Goethe, before he can converse idiomatically, or enter into the feelings of those around him. And experience proves that the true key to those modes of thought, and peculiarities of expression, which in India occur daily, can be found only in the classics of India.
- This was written before th broke oue Sepoy metiyt in 1857