This book develops a consilience of research and thinking in epigraphy, archaeology, and linguistics on the Indic Brahmi writing system. Its objective is to identify the problems that need to be tackled by anybody who tries to develop a theory of the Brahmi writing system. As for the currently scientifically supported hypothesis that Brahmi originated in Tamil Nadu during the sixth century BCE or earlier, Patel opts for the need to keep this as an idea for the working basket awaiting new archaeological research in the sixth-century Magadha region.
The book deliberates upon how ancient Tamil Nadu was receptive to literacy. The Brahmanical fascination for orality blocked literacy in Vedic India. The brahmartas from north India entered Tamil Nadu only during the third century BCE and lived away from residential areas. Tamil Nadu at the time had no caste system. This is reflected in the Sangam literature, which followed historically the grammarian Tolkappiyar. The conditions in Sri Lanka before and after the arrival of Buddhism are noted in relation to the rise of literacy. The relationship between Brahmi in Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu is highlighted for the purpose of further research. Also noted is the need for research on the differences between Dravidian and northern scripts in the way the aksaras are formed in graphic representation.
P.G. Patel's background consists of four and a half years of Lectureship in English at the M.S. University of Baroda, a year with Prof. R.W. Zandvoort at Groningen University, twenty-eight years of research and teaching at the University of Ottawa, and two years in the Neuropsychology Programme with Professor Paul Satz at UCLA, as Visiting Scientist, and The Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute Research Fellowship five times. He was a co-author with D.G. Doehring of Reading Disabilities (Academic Press, 1981). His other books are Reading Acquisition in India: Models of Learning and Dyslexia (Sage India, 2004), Indic Scripts: Palaeographic and Linguistic Perspectives (edited with P.K.S. Pandey and Dilip Rajgor, D.K. Printworld, 2007), and The Brahmi Writing System: Cross-fertilizing Epigraphy, Archaeology and Linguistics (Black and White, 2010). His research articles and book reviews have appeared in standard journals.
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