Waruno Mahdi mahdi at
Sun Mar 26 15:16:11 UTC 2000

> 1) This gloss implies that some Tagalogs were Hinduists when the Spaniards
> conquered Manila in  1571.
> Does anybody know of any concurring piece of evidence concerning the
> Tagalogs? All we have at the moment is a handful of crude statuettes and

there is of course the Laguna copper plate of 900 A.D. which abounds in
Sanskritisms (including the Saka-calendar dating), but is unfortunately
not in Tagalog, but in Old Malay. It is available online thanks to Hector
Santos at

> 2) The Tagalog-Spanish part holds no equivalent of _bracman_, *balacman, or
> _brahman_, *balaman.
> So how can these priests might have been called by the Tagalogs?

I always thought that Tagalag _datoq_ 'highpriest' referred to an official
of the traditional indigenous religion, but that was just a subjective
speculation of mine, I don't really know, maybe it referred to a brahmin?

But that would surprise me, because in Indonesia there are many examples
of words for officials of a former religion being retained in the language,
but their meanings undergo a certain change, i.e. they often no longer mean
'priest, monk, etc', but e.g. 'wizard, collector of herbs, shaman'.

Old Javanese _walyan_ 'wonder healer, herb collector' is the cognate
      of _balian_, as the shaman is called in some indigenous religions
      of Kalimantan (cf. _druid_ in English).

Makassarese _bissu_ is even more interesting, it means 'man with effeminate
     demeanor or women who fulfills a function as shaman in pre-Islamic
     ritual, particularly in ceremonies of the princely courts of
     South Sulawesi, and can still occasionally be met with'. It is not only
     interesting because it has been retained by the Makassarese and Buginese
     (who are Muslim), but because the female shaman is a feature of
     pre-hinduistic indigenous religion (the balian in Kalimantan are
     typically women), whereas the word itself, _bissu_ is of Sanskrit
     origin, borrowed through mediation of Malay _biksu_ 'monk (Hindu or

In Indonesian Malay itself, this is different though, and such words not
only can retain their original meaning, e.g. biksu (see above) and balian
'shaman, priestess of local indigenous religion', but some of them undergo
a certain semantic generalisation, e.g. pendéta 'priest', originally 'Hindu
priest' (the word is from Sanskrit)', is in the modern language standard
reference to any priest (Christian, Sintoist, etc). Similarly, the term
_alim-ulama_, originally referring to Muslim clergy (both components are
from Arabic), can also be used in reference to the clergy of any religion.
Also _biara_, originally a Hindu monastry, can now refer to any monastry,
and the modern derivations _biarawan_ 'monk' and _biarawati_ 'nun'
are not religiously specific, i.e. the former could be a Fransiscan
brother just as much as a monk from the Shaolin temple.

Regards,   Waruno

More information about the An-lang mailing list