A team of archaeologists recently discovered two stone inscriptions of ‘Grantham’ and Tamil dating 11th and 16th centuries respectively at Pazhnchervazhi village near Kangayam.
- Grantha is an important historical script that was once used to write Sanskrit throughout South East Asia and greater Tamil Nadu.
- The word Grantha denotes in Sanskrit ‘a literary work’. Evidently, the script used for writing the Sanskrit works obtained the same name.
- At one time, it was prevalent throughout South India.
- When the Malayalam language began to freely borrow words as well as the rules of grammar from Sanskrit, this script was adopted for writing that language and was known as Arya Ezhuthu.
- Both Grantha and Tamil scripts appear alike in modern forms.
- The evolution of both scripts from Brahmi was also more or less similar.
- The development of the Grantha script in Tamil Nadu may be divided into four periods.
- The archaic and ornamental, the transitional, the mediaeval, and the modern.
- Archaic and ornamental variety is commonly known as Pallava Grantha. Mahendravarman’s Tiruchirapalli rock cut cave and other cave temple inscriptions, Narasimhan’s Mamallapuram, Kanchi Kailashnath, and Saluvankuppam temple inscriptions, Mutharaiyar’s Senthalai inscriptions are examples of this variety.
- The transitional variety of Grantha inscriptions roughly belong to three centuries between 650 CE and 950 CE.
- Later Pallavas (Nandivarman’s Kasakudi, Udayendram plates, etc.) and Pandyan Nedunjadaiyan’s Anaimalai inscriptions are examples of this.
- The mediaeval variety dates from about 950 CE to 1250 CE.
- Inscriptions of the imperial Cholas of Thanjavur are examples of this.
- The modern variety belongs to the later Pandyas and Vijayanagar periods.
- It was popular in Tamil Nadu until the early 20th century.
- After the introduction of printing machines, many Sanskrit books transcribed from palm leaves were printed in Grantha script.
- After Independence, the popularity of Hindi in Deva Nagari script influenced all printing works, and Grantha script went out of vogue.