Eḷu
Helu
RegionSri Lanka
EraEvolved into Sinhalese and Dhivehi
Ashokan Brahmi[1] (Dhammalipi)
Language codes
ISO 639-3
GlottologNone

Eḷa, also Elu, Hela or Helu Prakrit, was a Middle Indo-Aryan language or Prakrit of the 3rd century BCE, that was used in Sri Lanka. It was ancestral to the Sinhalese and Dhivehi languages.

R. C. Childers, in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, states:

[Elu] is the name by which is known an ancient form of the Sinhala language from which the modern vernacular of Ceylon is immediately received, and to which the latter bears is of the same relation that the English of today bears to Anglo-Saxon...The name Elu is no other than Sinhala much succeeded, standing for an older form, Hĕla or Hĕlu, which occurs in some ancient works, and this again for a still older, Sĕla, which brings us back to the Pali Sîhala.[2]

The Pali scholar Thomas William Rhys Davids refers to Eḷu as "the Prakrit of Ceylon".[3]

The Hela Havula are a modern Sri Lankan literary organization that advocate the use of Eḷu terms over Sanskritisms. Eḷu is often referred to by modern Sinhalese as amisra, Sanskrit and Sinhalese term for "unmixed".

A feature of Eḷu is its preference for short vowels, loss of aspiration and the reduction of compound consonants found frequently in other Prakrits such as Pali.

Eḷu in comparison with Pali and Sanskrit

Being a Prakrit, Eḷu is closely related to other Prakrits such as Pali. Indeed, a very large proportion of Eḷu word-stems are identical in form to Pali. The connections were sufficiently well known that technical terms from Pali and Sanskrit were easily converted into Eḷu by a set of conventional phonological transformations. Because of the prevalence of these transformations, it is not always possible to tell whether a given Eḷu word is a part of the old Prakrit lexicon, or a transformed borrowing from Sanskrit.

Vowels and diphthongs

Examples: maitrīmet, auṣadhaosada
Example: sthavirathera

Sound changes

Examples: candasanda, handa
Examples: rūparuva, dīpadiva
Examples: śaraṇasaraṇa, doṣadosa
Examples: bhaktibätiya, shaktisaviya

Compound consonants

At the beginning of a word only a single consonant can remain

Examples: dharmadahama
Examples: prānapana

In the middle of a word no group may exceed one consonant

Examples: arthaaruta
Examples: dantadata

Samples

Tōṇigala Rock Inscription of Śrīmeghavarṇṇa(4th century A.D)

Si! Puviya Mahasena-maharajaha puta Sarimekavaṇa-Aba-maha-rajaha cata legi-taka tiṇavanaka-vasahi.

[Lines 1–2] Hail! In the time of the third year after the raising of the umbrella by the great king Sirimekavaṇa Aba son of the great king Mahasena.

Nakarahi utarapasahi Kaḷahumanaka-niya-matanahi siya aviya⸗kiṇiyeni nikata Kaḍubalagamakehi vasanaka - Ameti-paheja-Sivaya-ha puta-Devayaha Yahisapavaya-nava-vaherakehi dina ariyavasa vaṭavi de hakaḍa dasa amaṇaka vi ica sa amaṇaka udi ica bayali dasa amaṇa ica.

[Lines 2–6] Two hakaḍas (cartloads) and ten amaṇas of paddy, six amaṇas of udi and ten amaṇas of beans were deposited [with the stipulation that the capital should] neither be spent nor decreased, by Devaya the son of Sivaya, a member of the Council of Ministers, residing at the village of Kaḍubala, with the assembly of the merchants’ guild at Kaḷahumana [situated] in the northern quarter of the city; and were granted for the purpose of conducting the holy vassa in the new monastery of Yahisapavaya.

Me de hakaḍa dasa a-maṇaka vi piṭadaḍa-hasahi veḍa akala-hasahi veḍha ma-de-hasahi veḍha pacavisiya amaṇaka vi ica me sa amaṇaka udihi veḍha eka amaṇa de pekaḍaka udi ica dasa amaṇaka bayalihi veḍha de a-maṇa de pekaḍaka bayali ica.

[Lines 6–10] Of the aforesaid two hakaḍas and ten amaṇas of paddy, the interest at the principal harvest (piṭadaḍa hasa), the interest at the secondary harvest and the interest at the intermediate harvest [amount to] twenty-five amaṇas of paddy. Of the aforesaid six amaṇas of udi, the interest is one amaṇas and two pekaḍas of udi. Of the aforesaid ten amaṇas of beans, the interest is two amaṇas and two pekaḍas of beans.

Me vataka-vaṇahi gahe kiṇiya ciṭa-vaya veḍha geṇa tiṇaḍa hakaṭa dana-vaṭa ica atarakajaka-vaṭa ica atarakaja-(pari)kara-yapeni ica di miya-vaṭa peṇi tila ica bunatela ica loṇa ica palaha-vaṭa ica veṭayala ica vahera . . ga sara pa . . pacanahi miliya padiya ica

[Lines 10–14] Of the above-mentioned deposit, the capital should be left unspent and from the interest received, the expenses for two and a half hakaḍas of boiled rice, atarakaja, dishes taken with atarakaja, curd, honey, sweets, sesame, butter (?), salt, green herbs, and turmeric should be given at the refectory of the monastery, . . .

Meva [taka] veḍhavataka geṇa vanaya va[na]ya atovasahi Nikamaniya-cada puṇamasa doḷasa-paka-divasa [a]riyavasa karana maha-bikusagah⸗aṭa niyata koṭu Yahisapava[ta-na]-va-vaherakahi dini.

[Lines 14–17] [The above] were granted to the new monastery at Yahisapavata so that the interest may be taken and appropriated for the use of the great community of monks who perform the holy vassa on the twelfth day of the bright half of the month of Nikamaniya in every succeeding rainy season.[4]

Thonigala Rock Inscriptions, Anamaduwa under reign of Gamani Abhaya(1st century A.D)

List of Elu words with their Sanskrit and Pali equivalents

Elu Sanskrit Pali English
äsa akṣi akkhi eye
adara ādara ādara respect
aga agra agga end, chief, principal
ahasa ākāśa ākāsa sky
akosa ākrōśa akkosa insult, abuse
akmana ākramana akkamana attack
aksuma akṣama akkhama intolerance, impatience
akura akṣara akkhara letter of the alphabet
anada ānanda ānanda bliss
aruta artha attha meaning
asuna āsana āsana seat
ata hasta hattha hand
atuna antra anta intestine
bambu brahma brahma Brahma
bamburā barbara babbhara barbarian
bamunā brāhmaṇa brāhmaṇa Brahman
basa bhāṣā bhāsā language
bima bhūmi bhūmi land
bubula budbuda bubbula bubble
boduna bhōjana bhojana food
bodu bauddha bodha Buddhist
bōsat bōdhisattva bodhisatta Bodhisattva
dahama, dam dharma dhamma Dharma
data danta danta tooth
däla jāla jāla Net (device)
devola devālaya devālaya temple
diga, digu dīrgha dīgha long
diva jihvā jivhā tongue
diviya jīvita jīvita life
dudana, dujana durjana dujjana wicked, malicious
dujanā durjanayā wicked person
dukata duṣkṛta dukkaṭa wicked deed
dulaba durlabha dullabha rare
duma dhūma dhūma smoke
dupa dhūpa dhūpa incense
gama grāma gāma village
gata gātra gatta body
gatakura gātrākṣara consonant
kana karṇa kanna ear
karuvā kāra person
keta kṣetra khetta field
kiḍa krīḍā sport
kila kīlā kīlā sport
kinu kṛṣṇa dark
kilu kliṣṭa kiliṭṭha dirty
kiluTu kliṣṭa kiliṭṭha dirty
kiri kṣīra khīra milk
kumarā kumāraka kumāra son, prince
kumari kumāri kumāri girl, princess
kuriru krūra kurūra cruel
laka laṅkā laṅkā Sri Lanka
lassana lakṣaṇa lakkhana beautiful
lova loka loka world
maga mārga magga way
magula maṅgala maṅgala marriage
matura mantra manta incantation
mäda madhyama, madhya majjha middle
miturā mitra mitta friend
mugalan maudgalyāyana moggallana mogallana
mudu mṛdu mudu soft
muwa mukha mukha mouth
mädura mandira mandira palace
mula mūla mūla origin
näba nābhi nābhi navel
näva naukā nāvā ship
nētra netta eye
nidana nidhāna nidhāna treasure
nimala nirmala nimmala pure
nipana niṣpanna production
nivana nirvāṇa nibbāna Nirvana
nuvara nagara nagara city
pabala prabala pabala mighty
pamana pramāna pamāna amount
parapura paramparā generation
pänaya praśna pañha problem, question
pava pāpa pāpa sin
pavasa pipāsa pipāsam thirst
parana purāṇa purāṇa old
parusa paruṣa pharusa harsh
pasana prasanna pasanna pleasant
pāsala pāṭhaśālā pāṭasālā school
pavaruna prakaraṇa treatise
pätuma prārthanā wish, hope
pedesa pradēśa country
pema prēma pema love
piduma pūjā pūjā offering
pina punya punya merit
pokuna puṣkariṇī pokkhariṇī pond
poson pūrva-śravaṇa pubba-savana (name of a month)
pota pustaka pottaka book
pun pūra, pūrṇa punna full
pupa puṣpa puppha flower
putā putra putta son
puva pūrva pubba former, prior
puvata pravṛtti pavatti news
rada rājan rājā king
rakusā rākṣasa rakkhasa demon
ratu, rat raktaka ratta red
räsa raśmi rasmi ray
räya rātri ratti night
ruka vṛkṣa rukkha tree
ruva rūpa rūpa shape, form
sangamit sanghamitra sangamitta
sanda candra canda moon
sämuni śākyamuni sakyamuni
sena sena army
sidura chidr chidda hole, gap, space
sirura śarīra sarīra body
soyurā, sohowurā sahōdara sodariya brother
sonduru sundara sundara beautiful
supina svapna supina dream
supun sampūrṇa sampunna complete
teda teja magnificence
tavasā tāpasa hermit
tisula triśūla Trishula (trident)
utura uttara uttarā north
väkiya vākya Sentence
vesak vaiṣākha Visakha Vesak
veses viśeṣa visesa special
viyarana vyākarana grammar
yakā yakṣa yakkha yaksha
yatura yantra yanta machine
yiva jīva jīva life

References

  1. ^ Ancient Inscriptions Of Ceylon Edward Muller.
  2. ^ Henry Yule; A. C. Burnell; William Crooke (2006), A glossary of colloquial Anglo-Indian words and phrases, Asian Educational Services, p. 344, ISBN 0-7007-0321-7
  3. ^ Rhys Davids, Thomas William (2007). Buddhist India. T. W. Press. ISBN 978-1406756326.
  4. ^ https://siddham.network/inscription/in03124/?section=translation

See also