• Manusmriti 2:22-23

But (the tract) between those two mountains (just mentioned), which (extends) as far as the eastern and the western oceans, the wise call Aryavarta (the country of the Aryans).That land where the black antelope naturally roams, one must know to be fit for the performance of sacrifices; (the tract) different from that (is) the country of the Mlekkhas (barbarians).

As far as I know, whole India is considered as Aryavartaas many great sages like Agastya were sages of south India. There are many temples in south India of Lord Shiva and Vishnu.But this verse is now creating confusion in my mind.

  • not just Mlecchas - when Rama headed to Lanka he must have traversed Southern India - and he HARDLY ENCOUNTERED HUMANS - only monkeys, bears and so forth. And when he reached lanka - only rakshasas.
    – S K
    Feb 26, 2020 at 1:57
  • @SK, looks like you missed the entire sub-plot of Ramayana in the Introduction - where Devas take birth as vanaras, Brahma as jambavan etc. which is why Ramayana focuses on their actions instead of humans. And that at the time of any avatara, the extremes bad (asuras) both roam the earth, hence the term 'bhu-bhara:' (burden for earth), to relieve which, the other extremes of good (devas) descend.
    – mar
    Feb 26, 2020 at 6:37
  • 1
    The black antelope roams naturally in south India, so it's not mleccha territory.
    – Ikshvaku
    Feb 26, 2020 at 12:03
  • Southern India is not part of so-called "Aryavarta". it is around 2000 plus kilometers from Ayodhya to Rameshwaram - but ALMOST NOTHING is mentioned in the Ramayana of humans and their cities, villages, culture etc. along the way. Even today, attitudes about "Southindians" are stupid and racist (as this question and this 2013 movie suggest . blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/18707/…
    – S K
    Feb 26, 2020 at 12:49
  • @SK "Not part of Aryavarta" and "land of mlechhas" are not same.
    – user17987
    Feb 26, 2020 at 13:25

3 Answers 3


No, South India is not the land of mlechhas. Why? Because people possessing vedic knowledge reside in South India also. What is the pramANa for all this? It is Shankara's commentary on brihadaranyaka upanishad 1.3.10.



Verse 1.3.10:

सा वा एषा देवतैतासां देवतानाम् पाप्मानम् मृत्युमपहत्य यत्रासां दिशामन्तस्तद्गमयांचकार, तदासां पामनो विन्यदधात्; तस्मान्न जनमियात्, नान्तमियात्, नेत्पाप्मानम् मृत्युमन्ववायानीति ॥ १० ॥

sā vā eṣā devataitāsāṃ devatānām pāpmānam mṛtyumapahatya yatrāsāṃ diśāmantastadgamayāṃcakāra, tadāsāṃ pāmano vinyadadhāt; tasmānna janamiyāt, nāntamiyāt, netpāpmānam mṛtyumanvavāyānīti || 10 ||

  1. This deity took away death, the evil of these gods, and carried it to where these quarters end. There it left their evils. Therefore one should not approach a person (of that region), nor go to that region beyond the border, lest one imbibe that evil, death.

Shankara's commentary

....What did the vital force do after taking away death, the evil of the gods? It carried it to where these quarters, east and so forth, end. One may question how this was done, since the quarters have no end. The answer is that it is all right, for the quarters are here conceived as being that stretch of territory which is inhabited by people possessing Vedic knowledge; hence ‘the end of the quarters’ means the country inhabited by people who hold opposite views, as a forest is spoken of as the end of the country.[15] Carrying them, there it, the deity, vital force, left their evils, the evils of these gods....



Blackbucks are native to the Indian subcontinent

Blackbuck is the state animal of Andhra Pradesh.


Therefore, Manusmriti is not saying that South India is land of mlechchas.

  • So why manusmriti is calling it land of malchhas. Feb 26, 2020 at 10:53
  • @SanatanDarshan See comment by Ikshvaku under your question. Manusmriti is not saying that South India is land of mlechchas. The black antelope is the state animal of Andhra Pradesh.
    – user17987
    Feb 26, 2020 at 12:09

The cause for your confusion is the literal interpretation of Manusmṛti.

See how Medhātithi interprets the same verse (2.23) in his manubhāṣya:

kṛṣṇasārastu carati mṛgo yatra svabhāvataḥ |
sa jñeyo yajñiyo deśo mlecchadeśastvataḥ paraḥ || 23 ||

But the region where the spotted deer roams by nature is to be known as the ‘land fit for sacrificial acts’; beyond that is the ‘land of the Mlecchas.’ (23)

Medhātithi’s commentary (manubhāṣya):


It is not meant that the sacrifices are to be performed on the very spot where the deer roams...

In the present instance there is no direct injunction, such as ‘one should perform sacrifices here (in this country)’; as the injunctive affix is found added to the root ‘to know’ (in the word ‘jñeyaḥ’), and not to the root ‘to sacrifice.’ All that is meant is that the country spoken of is ‘fit for sacrifices’; the meaning being that ‘this country is fit for sacrificial performances’; and this ‘fitness for sacrifices’ is possible even without a direct injunction (of the actual performance). The fact of the matter is that it is only in the countries mentioned that the several sacrificial accessories, in the shape of the kuśa-grass, the Palāśa, the Khadira and other trees, are mostly found; and sacrificial performers also, in the shape of persons belonging to the three higher castes and learned in the three Vedas, are found only in these countries; and it is on the basis of these facts that the countries have been described as ‘fit for sacrifices.’


And this for the simple reason that no land is by itself defective; it is only by association that it becomes defective, just as it is when soiled by impure things. Hence, even apart from the countries designated here as ‘fit for sacrifices,’ if, in a certain place, all the necessary conditions are available, one should perform his sacrifices, even though it be a place where the spotted deer does not roam.

So any part of the Indian subcontinent (and by extension, the whole world?) even places where the spotted deer doesn't roam but has a good supply of sacrificial accessories like kuśa-grass and people who can perform sacrifices (yajñas) is considered Āryāvarta.


some senses of म्लेच्छ

Monier Williams dictionary:

म्लेच्छ m. a foreigner, barbarian, non-Aryan, man of an outcast race, any person who does not speak Sanskṛt and does not conform to the usual Hindū institutions, ŚBr. &c. &c. (f(ई). )
a person who lives by agriculture or by making weapons, L. [ID=168911]
a wicked or bad man, sinner, L. [ID=168912]
ignorance of Sanskṛt, barbarism, Nyāyam. Sch. [ID=168913]

can be applied to Tamils (non-Aryan, does not speak Sanskrit).

But the sense of "Barbarian" cannot since they knew of writing centuries before the Aryans


“We cannot yet say for certain which came first—the Gangetic towns or sites in the south, like Keezhadi. We need to take another look at some of the early sites from the Gangetic plains—perhaps that would yield fresh dates from north India too,” he says.

“Since most of the inscribed pottery we find at Keezhadi and other sites in Tamil Nadu is the post-firing kind, indicating that the buyer of the pots could read and write, we can safely say that this ancient civilisation, which we have now dated back to 600 BCE, was a literate one,”

Hard to reconcile these facts with Rama's expedition to Lanka finding only monkeys and bears worth mentioning as they traversed Tamil country.

  • there are southern kingdoms mentioned in Mahabharata. Vamana, who came before Rama was Kerala. The king was a huge devottee of Vishnu.
    – hindu
    Feb 29, 2020 at 15:58
  • Are you Amit Shah posting with the 'hindu" handle? Keralans celebrate Bali as a Keralan king and not this Vamana stuff. Amit Shah annoyed the hell out of them by suggesting they celebrate "vamana jayanti". what is there to celebrate for Keralans about Vishnu deceiving one of their own?
    – S K
    Feb 29, 2020 at 16:02
  • 4
    are you Abdul larping as Hindu? where did I mention they dont do that. Go read the whole story. Nothing I said in my first comment was wrong.
    – hindu
    Mar 1, 2020 at 5:24

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