'Story or History of writing'/Part:24'

How did writing begin? The favoured explanation, until the Enlightenment in the 18th century, was divine origin. All ancient societies whether they are in east or west, generally believe that The Divine Gift Writing to them. So, the gods were responsible for teaching humans how to write. Without their divine involvement, it would have been impossible to develop such a valuable and powerful skill. This, and other similar explanations, was the way that most ancient societies accounted
for the existence of writing. sumerian myths indicate that Nisaba  Invented writing and also they pray Inanna/ Ishtar as Goddess of Words .Similarly,Itzamná, the Mayan god and ruler of heaven, was the inventor of writing in Mesoamerica, just like Odin in Norse mythology was the god who invented the runes.Thoth, the Egyptian god of wisdom and scribe of the gods, was responsible for the invention of Egyptian hieroglyphs.The Greek god Hermes (the Roman Mercury), related to the Egyptian Thoth by some Greeks, was the creator of the Greek alphabet. The Devanagari
script used in India has some traces of the divine in its name. In Sanskrit, deva means ‘heavenly’ and nagari means ‘script of the city’. Ganesha, the Indian elephant-headed god, was the protector of writers. It is said that the Mahabharata, the famous Indian epic, was written by Ganesha, while the poet-sage Vyasa dictated to him the long poem. Ganesha’s feather pen broke whilst trying to maintain the pace as Vyasa dictated the words to him. So important was this task, and so driven was Ganesha to complete it, that he broke off a piece of his
tusks to use as a stylus to keep writing. Also hindu believes that  Brahma  - supreme god of the East Indian trinity; brought knowledge of letters to human race. as well as some extent goddess Saraswati. The Chinese also connected the creation of writing or alphabet with the divine Liu Xie or  Fu-Xi .The origin and development of the different early writing systems were never recorded by the ancients. Therefore, there was a gap in their knowledge. So Priests made use of that gap and created all sorts of mythical and supernatural explanations and stories to attract the ordinary people. He told that forces superior to humankind or god is behind the birth of writing and even made a related myths, legends and folktales.So ,ordinary people believe that writing was of heavenly origin and that they received it from a higher power. It was totally wrong!

Ordinary people were made to believe by priests that the gods controlled the past and the future,that the gods had revealed to them the skills that they possessed,including writing, and that the gods had provided them with all they needed to know. They had no vision of their civilisation having developed by their own efforts. They had no vision of technological or social progress. priests always altered the stories that they told earlier, creating a new twist to old tales – without acknowledging this as a human induced change or wondering why they had failed to get it right the first time. New ideas were simply revelations from the gods.people were made to  believe their gods had absolute authority over their private life  and the gods were also thought to be responsible for all the good things in human life. So credit for the invention of writing and alphabet went to the God instead of these unknown ancient people!

Today, many— probably most— scholars accept that the earliest writing evolved from accountancy, though it is puzzling that such accounts are little in evidence in the surviving writing of ancient Egypt, India, China, and Central America ( commercial record-keeping may be on perishable materials such as bamboo in these early civilizations). In other words, some time in the late 4th millennium BC, in the cities of Sumer in Mesopotamia, the ‘cradle of civilization’, the complexity of trade and administration reached a point where it outstripped the power of memory among the governing elite. To record transactions in an indisputable, permanent form became essential and due to this clay tablets may be used there.

[Kandiah Thillaivinayagalingam]

Part:25 will follow


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