Saturday, August 25, 2018

Etymology of Kerala

Etymology


The name Kerala has an uncertain etymology. One popular theory derives Kerala from Kera  ("coconut tree" in Malayalam) and alam  ("land"); thus "land of coconuts",which is a nickname for the state, used by locals, due to abundance of coconut trees.The word Kerala is first recorded as Keralaputra in a 3rd-century BCE rock inscription left by the Maurya emperor Ashoka (274–237 BCE), one of his edicts pertaining to welfare. The inscription refers to the local ruler as Keralaputra (Sanskrit for "son of Kerala"); or "son of Chera[s]". This contradicts the theory that Kera is from "coconut tree".At that time, one of three states in the region was called Cheralam in Classical Tamil: Chera and Kera are variants of the same word. The word Cheral refers to the oldest known dynasty of Kerala kings and is derived from the Proto-Tamil-Malayalam word for "lake".

The earliest Sanskrit text to mention Kerala is the Aitareya Aranyaka of the Rigveda. Kerala is also mentioned in the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, the two Hindu epics. The Skanda Purana mentions the ecclesiastical office of the Thachudaya Kaimal who is referred to as Manikkam Keralar, synonymous with the deity of the Koodalmanikyam  temple. Keralam may stem from the Classical Tamil cherive-alam ("declivity of a hill or a mountain slope")or chera alam ("Land of the Cheras"). The Greco-Roman trade map Periplus Maris Erythraei refers to Keralaputra as Celobotra.

No comments:

Post a Comment