Last Updated: April 10, 2016

Definition - What does Dravidian mean?

Before the second millennium, the Dravidians comprised the majority of the population of the Indian subcontinent. The name originates from the Sanskrit drava, meaning “water” or “sea,” indicating the people who live close to the sea.

Today, the term refers to people who speak one of the Dravidian languages of southern Asia. Historically, the Sanskrit word, dravida, denoted the region of southern India where Dravidians form most of the population. The early Dravidian religion was a non-Vedic form of Hinduism.

Yogapedia explains Dravidian

A peace-loving and agrarian culture, the Dravidians appeared to be more advanced than the Vedic Aryans who, according to legend, invaded the Indian subcontinent around 1500 B.C.E., forcing the Dravidians to the south of India. As a result of the invasion, the cultures became mixed and the Aryans absorbed many of the Dravidian traditions. The practices and traditions of yoga that are part of the Vedic tradition today likely have Dravidian origins.

The ancient Hindu scripture, the "Rig Veda," describes the destruction of Harappa by the Aryan invaders, although Harappa culture may already have been disintegrating when the Aryans invaded.

The Dravidian family of 70 languages are spoken by more than 215 million people in India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Telugu, Malayalam, Tamil and Kannada - the four major literary languages - are listed in India's constitution as receiving official status.

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