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graphic motif in another set. This seems to mean that the isolated sign stands for the name of the divinity depicted through the iconographic motif. The ‘fig’ + ‘crab’ ligature is thus equated with a male figure armed with bow and arrows, anthropomorphic apart from having a bull’s horns and tail, and with long eyes.

In the Near Eastern scripts, an inserted sign often functions as a semantic or phonetic determinative. If this is the case here, the ‘crab’ sign could indicate that the ‘fig’ sign is not to read with its usual phonetic value as vata ‘banyan tree’. The meaning ‘fig’ is retained, but the phonetic shape of the word is similar to that expressed by the ‘crab’ sign, i.e., ko$ l. Old Tamil, other South Dravidian languages and Tulu possess such a word: ko$ li ‘banyan, pipal, all kinds of fig trees which bear fruit without outwardly blossoming, epidendron, grasping plant (some figs are of this nature)’. The meaning ‘grasping plant’ suggests its derivation from the Proto-Dravidian root kol ‘to grasp, seize’.

But how can the word ko$ li be connected with the Harappan archer- god depicted on the copper tablets? Its basic meaning is ‘grasping epiphytic fig’, and in early Vedic texts such figs — which strangle their host trees and break buildings — are implored for help in crushing enemies. It is a fitting symbol for the war-god Skanda and his Vedic predecessor Rudra. Rudra has been suspected to descend from a Pre- Aryan deity. He is described as a cruel hunter and raider, who with the bow, his characteristic weapon, shoots arrows at cattle and people.

& Euphemistically, Rudra is called Siva ‘kind, benevolent’ in the Veda.

& Another common name of Siva is Hara ‘seizer, taker, robber’, which is

likewise used of Rudra.44) Sanskrit Hara could reflect the Dravidian word ko$ l ‘seizure, taking, pillage, plunder, robbery’, derived from kol ‘to seize, take, rob’.

The word ko$ li in the sense of ‘a fig tree which bears fruit without outwardly blossoming’ must be compared also with Old Tamil ko$ l ‘the

act of bearing fruit’.45) Both are derived from the root kol ‘to take’, ______________________________ $

  • 44)

    Cf. As& val$ayana-Grhyas$utra 4, 8, 19.

  • 45)

    Cf. Akan$an_ $u_ru 2,1; 162,19; 335,14; 382,10; 399,14.


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