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363. Deciphering Tulu-nadu place names

The readers would observe that many of the Tulu Place names may not convey, on the face of it, any specific meaning or apparent meanings...

Friday, October 26, 2007

51.Stage III: Migration from Pirak . 800-500BC

The Pirak civialization phase was reported to have culminated around 800 BC. Tulu language even today has the retained word “pirak” that means ‘ancient’ or ‘aspects connected to remote past’.This can be considered as the fossil memory of Tulu people of their residence at Pirak. In other languages like Kannada the word survived as ‘prak’(=ancient) and Prakrit can be considered as the language of the pirak (prak) area. Prakrit is also considered to be the unrefined form of Sanskrit. Tulu and other south Indian languages have ample Prakrit words in them. Mostly, these were borrowed and assimilated during their residence in Pirak area. At the same time, early Tulu and other early Dravidian language groups lent some words that were absorbed into prakrit and Sanskrit.
During the 800-500 BC period most of the resident groups left Pirak region and entered India proper (as is now) and settled in comfortable areas nearer to water sources like rivers and perennial springs. Possibly, the groups left in different batches, maybe each of some 5 to 10 individual families of able bodied members and found their ways through the new territory before settling in relatively comfortable zones. It is possible that early South Dravidian groups consisting of early Tulu, Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam tribes migrated in different batches during the period.At this stage these early Dravidian languages were similar to each other and were more like regional variations of a single language. Predictably they settled intermittently at several places on the way before reaching their ultimate destinations in select parts of Southern India. The identity of early Kannada and early Malayalam ancestors probably carried different name tags then, since the present identity names ‘Kannada’ and ‘Malayalam’ were coined chronologically later and in situ in the present habitat.

Theological evolution
During the period Upanishads and Puranas were being compiled. The Rigvedic Gods Mitra, Indra,Varuna, Agni and others took back seat in favour of ascendacy of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesha independantly among three different tribal groups. Brahma atained the status of Almighty Creator. The concept was further extended to include the all-pervasive cosmic force of Brahman. Valmiki, a hunter turned into bard and sage compiled the epic of Ramayana, based on primitive legend of Rama, that originally dated back to the post-LGM period when the sea-levels receded and Srilanka was accesible from Indian mainland on foot.The epic that highlighted the supremacy of the Lord Brahma, was subsequently edited and interpolated by several later authors, with liberal addition of fantasies and exaggerations.During the period, the Mahabharata was also being compiled, as an expanded and blown up version of battle of ten kings described in the Rigveda.
Another group, possibly led by the cattle-herders (Yadavas), upgraded and expanded the ancient legend of Vishnu. Vishnu, worshipped by early pre-Vedic, dark-colored tribes, was a minor god of lesser grade than the lord of Sea, Varuna for the Vedic sages during the compilation of Rigveda. Ten different theologic legends of the region were compiled together under the ten incarnations of Vishnu.(More on Vishnu and ten incarnations, cf. post 34 ).
Similarly, another group advocated the supremacy of Lord Shiva, who was tribal superman who possibly advocated the cult of phallus worship. Thus the phallic worship gradually merged with the Shaiva cult.Several tantric and mystic cults evolved during the period.
Yet there were many who did not subscribed to any of these theological cults.These dissatisfactions led to the development of Jainism and Buddhism. In response these diversions the followers of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesha joined hands together and formed the concept of Trimurthy.
Similarly the primitive cult of Yoni worship assimilated with parallel Mother Godess worship that eventually evolved into the cult of Shakti or the Durga later in the history.
The Panjurli (Boar or Varaha) cult apparently originated in N Africa and Central Asia. The boar (or swine or Sus scrofa) is native of central Europe, Mediterranean, Atlas mountains, N.Africa and Asia. In Celtic mythology boar was sacred to Godess Arduinna. In Persian (Iran) Sassnid Empire, the boar was respected as a brave and fierce animal; the title of ‘boraz ‘or ‘Goraz’ (=boar) was added to the personal names of the braves. In Belgium, boar is the mascot of one of the infantry divisions of the Belgian army. In Chinese horoscope, boar is one of the twelve months of the zodiac

Early Tulu migration
Tulu tribes carried the Panjurli and Bermer cults of spirit worship from Pirak to Tulunadu as described in earlier posts. The early Tulu tribes were not inspired or influenced by theological evolution of Brahma, Vishnu or Mahesha. They adhered to their cults of spirit and serpent (Naga) worships. Tulu tribes picked up words from the languages existing in the regions they travelled through. Throughout the route from Rajasthan border to Tulunadu, we find numerous settlements named after Naga: Nagur, Nagor, Nagori etc. Similarly along the same route we find relics of ‘Bermer’ (horse mounted deity )worship that were later converted to ‘Brahma’(the creator God) worship especially in north India(example: Pushkar, Rajasthan).

Early Tamil migration
The early Tamils carried the Shiva cult, along with the assimilated primitive phallus worship cult, with them when they migrated and eventually settled in the present Tamilnadu. The early Tamils were inspired by the style of compilation of Vedas and Upanishads were by group of Vedic sages. They adopted the concept and composed the Tamil Sangam literature in early Madhurai kingdom, established near Kanyakumari during ca.300BC .

Monday, October 22, 2007

50.The legend of Rama

The character of Rama is one of the most influential ever portrayed in the history of India. The basic Indian ethics of righteousness is modeled on the legend of Rama. He has influenced the lifestyle and temperaments of many Indians, including the Mahatma Gandhi. In the words of Swami Vivekananda: “Rama, the ancient idol of the heroic ages, the embodiment of truth, of morality, the ideal son, the ideal husband, and above all, the ideal king.”
The original legend of Rama appears to be an ancient folk-lore, dating back to some thousands of years and was passed on orally from generations. The original story may also have evolved with spicy additions, of fantasy, when passing down the ages.
The Ramayana, built on the mass legend of Rama, is the first epic of India.. Based on the analysis of linguistic style of the text, Ramayana is considered to have been compiled between 500 BC and 200 AD. A portion of Ramayana was added even during 4th 12th century AD. But the core story could be as old as 700 BC considering reference to the kingdom of Kosala. The epic of has undergone numerous modifications and interpolations during the course time. A large number of fantasies have been added to increase the mass appeal of the product. So Ramayana as it is available now was not written by Valmiki alone. Sages of Bhrgu clan who composed AtharvaVeda also contributed to the text of Ramayana. The chief composer Valmiki is considered a descendant of Bhrgu. Apart from the Valmiki Ramayana there are also other versions.
As S.S.N.Murthy (2003) has summarized Ramayana was compiled and written when the cult the Brahma was held in high esteem in the pious society. The numbers four, seven and ten symbolic of the Brahma cult have been profusely used in the Ramayana compiled during that period. Besides, a lot of symbolism has been included. Sita (the word means furrow) is an symbol of agriculture. Similarly astrology and geographic details have been profusely added. However, archeological excavations so far have not confirmed any of the historical aspects cited in Ramayana. According to various scholars the places mentioned in the epic are from northwestern Indian subcontinent and the surrounding areas. Many scholars including Murthy have suggested that Lanka mentioned in Ramayana literally means an island and need not be the Srilanka of today.
In southern India many locations are describes as part of Rama legend. The Srilanka is described as the Lanka of Ramayana with the land connection between India and Srilanka as the ‘Rama Sethu’ built by Vanaras.
Pushkar Bhatnagar has dated Ramayana based on the digital analysis of position of stars and planets described by Valmiki and the date of birth of Rama arrived at is 10th January 5011BC.The date of birth looks accurate but does not tallies with the dates inferred by linguistic analysis. Simply it put Rama in an age older than Indus Valley Civilization.
Ancient folklore of Rama.
Rama was a simple ideal son who willingly took trouble of living in a forest for years just to ensure his fathers oral agreement. The Rama, however, is not of an infallible superman: he made mistakes like ordinary mortals. He ordered for his wifes ritual testing (agnipariksha) to appease his subjects. He killed Vali (or Bali) in an unrighteous manner. Had the legend been a creative masterpiece without factual basis, Rama would have been totally infallible in righteous judgments.
There are several interesting backdrops in the legend of Rama that indicate a primitive environmental setting.
1.Rama (the word means 'pleasant') has been described as blue-skinned. Either this is pure eulogy for the dark skinned charming young man. Or maybe at some point in the early history, almost gray-blue appearing men existed during the course of post-glacial evolution. The dark skinned Rama can be visualized as a primitive Indian young man.
2.He used primitive bow and arrows like those used by hunters and nomadic tribes.
3.The legend curiously describes Vanara tribes, the primitive homonids that were existing before the evolution of homo sapiens(‘Nara’)! It is possible that in the early history species of homonids (‘Vanara’) co-existed with homo sapiens.
4.The cart was a rare vehicle in those primitive days. The chariot used by the kidnapper Ravana, spelled wonders to the beholders.

5.The land bridge between India and Srilanka has been described. The land bridge in fact is a natural structure formed on the earth when the super Gondwana continent broke into several smaller continents some 90 million years ago. Since then India and Srilanka are attached through this natural continental link. The land area between India and Srilanka was evidently exposed during major recession of sea levels during major global droughts like those between 135,000-75,000 years and during the last glacial maxima some 10.000 years ago facilitating to and fro migration of human beings.
The continental connection is a natural structure of the earth. The rocks found at the top of the ‘Ram’s bridge’ zone, at present under the shallow sea (about 1 to 30m deep), consists of coral reefs. Some people have suggested that the light weighted coral reefs were carried to the sea and dumped to form the bridge by the homonid army. Coral reefs are built by living corals, a kind of primitive life forms, and do not grow on land; they grow naturally under favorable shallow marine conditions. The sandy formations reported by some geological studies in the ‘Rama Sethu’ link area indicate that it was an exposed land bridge in the historical past.
One possibility is that where only a small part of the continental connection was under water, it could have been filled by sundry material as a temporary measure.

6.Recent excavations and archeo-botanical studies have proved existence of early primitive men some 75,000 years ago in southern India. And in the Post Glacial Neolithic age,due to decrease in sea levels, the natural land bridge exposed and was accessible for journey to and fro between India and Srilanka by foot.Archeo-botanical studies have confirmed the existence of extensive agricultural habitations in various river valleys of India.

In the light of these it appears to me that the legend of Rama is a very ancient folk lore (paD-dana) built on the original story of a dark, righteous,primitive, unassuming young man whose wife was abducted to Srilanka through the natural land bridge during the Early Neolithic age. And with the help of Vanara hominid friends he fought with the kidnapper and brought back his devoted wife.
Valmiki, a hunter himself, representing the lineage of ancient Neolithic aborigines of India, made employed this folklore as a back ground story to compose the famed Valmiki Ramayana.Valmiki and numerous other later anonymous writers and editors have added and contributed their bits to blow up the simple, original legend into a fantasy filled Ramayana as we find today.

Friday, October 19, 2007

49.Early Human settlements in South India



Recent archaeological excavations at Jwalapuram, in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh, by Dr. Michael Petraglia (University of Cambridge, U.K) in association with Prof.Kori Settar (Karnataka University) and Dr.Venkatasubbaiah (Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh) showed evidences for settlement of anatomically modern humans in southern India before 74,000 years ago. The eruption of the Toba volcano in Sumatra some 74,000 years ago was a major volcanic event in the human history. The ash thrown up high into the atmosphere by the volcanic explosion reached India and deposited as layers of volcanic tephra found at Jwalapuram excavations. Apparently, the early inhabitants of south India survived the volcanic eruption without pronounced devastation as assumed by earlier studies. (see also, Post. 38).
Excavations at Jwalapuram have unearthed fine stone flakes used tools for various purposes by the primitive human settlers. The stone tool assemblages used by early men at Jwalapuram were similar to those produced in Africa at the same time. Similar stone implements have been unearthed in Malaprabha river valley, Hunsigi and Baichbal valleys.
Neolithic Bronze Age South India
Archeological studies by Dorian Fuller (England) in association with Ravi Korisettar and. Venkatasubbaiah and revealed existence of numerous sites of the Neolithic cultures (2800 BC-1200 BC) spread in the Krishna and Tungabhadra river valleys of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. These ancient villages and settlements on the southern peninsula are roughly contemporaneous with the Bronze Age settlements of the Indus valley in Northwest India and Pakistan. Two important categories of Neolithic sites have been recognized: habitation villages and cattle-herd settlements.
Agriculture was the mainstay in the permanent habitation sites. Villages were located margins of granite hills, possibly in the vicinity of springs or river. The studies showed evidences for the cultivation of small millet-grasses (like brown-top millet, Brachiaria ramosa, and bristley foxtail grass, Setaria verticillata) and pulses [like urd (black gram,Vigna mungo), green gram (mung bean, Vigna radiate), and horsegram, Macrotyloma uniflorum]. These crop species are native to Southern India and were probably domesticated in the region. In addition there is evidence for the use of tuber foods. During the later Neolithic (from ca. 1800 BC) a number of other crops including Wheat (Triticum sp..) and Barley (Hordeum vulgare) were introduced from the northwest (Indus-Pirak region) and Hyacinth Bean (Lablab purpureus) and Pearl Millet (Pennisetum glaucum) of African Origin. Rice (Orizha sp.)is supposed to have been introduced at a later stage.
The 'ash mound' sites consist of large, heaped accumulations of burnt cattle dung, the largest about 8 meters in height and 40 meters in diameter. Archaeological evidence from a couple of the ash mounds indicates sites of ancient cattle penning where dung was allowed to accumulate and periodically burnt, perhaps in seasonal rituals. The ash mound sites were camps of groups linked to the agricultural production sites.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

48. Early Tulu: Stage II 2000-800 BC


The major evidence for existence and residence of Tulu tribes in the northwestern Indian subcontinent is the existence of a fossil or relict word namely ‘Pirak’ in the present Tulu language. Incidentally, Pirak is name of the area in Baluchistan where the phase of post-Indus civilization was developed between 1800 and 800 BC. Beside there are a number of other evidences like exchange of words with Vedic Indo Aryans, adoption of the Bermer worship
One of the artifacts obtained in Indus civilization resembles boar (see photograph above). In Indus valley civilization, whether this ‘boar’ like artifact could be taken as evidence for the existence of boar worship (Panjurli/Varaha) which was a hallmark of the Tulu tribes needs further verifications. If it is confirmed it may indicate the presence of Tulu tribes in the late phase of Indus Valley civilization.
The civilization in the north western Indian subcontinent is divided into three phases namely:
(a) Mehrgarh (7000-2600 BC),
(b) Indus Valley (2600-1800 BC) and
(c) Pirak(1800-800 BC)

Mehrgarh Civilization phase 7000-2600 BC
Mehrgarh township, located at the foot of the Baluchistan hills (now in Pakistan), is the earliest known farming settlement in South Asia, established circa 7000 B.C. Several villages developed in the hills of Baluchistan and further (ca.3500BC onwards) along the western edge of the Indus plain. The people cultivated wheat and barley and raised sheep, goats and cattle, all traditions that paved the way to civilization. Stone sickles are found that provide evidence of cultivation. Besides, painted pottery, ornaments and terracotta figurines representing both humans and animals have been found.
Settlements on the Indus plain laid the foundation for the Indus Civilization. Cattle yokes and sophisticated copper/bronze implements recovered during the archeological excavations suggest growth of agricultural society in the area and the seals indicate trade with neighbors in the region. Graphic motifs on the pottery such as men with headdresses of buffalo horns may be the beginning of religious beliefs that continued into the later Indus Civilization.

Indus Valley Civilization phase 2600-1800 BC
More than 1,500 archeological sites have been discovered along the Indus (Sindhu) and Sarasvati (Ghaggar –Hakra) River valley/ catchment area by ca. 2600 BC, of which about ten known to be are well planned cities or towns. Among these, Harapa and Mohenjodaro (in Pakistan and Dholavira (Gujarat, India) are the famous sites. The towns, consisting of well planned streets and buildings, were divided into public/administrative and residential section. The use of baked bricks in architecture evolved before and during the Indus Civilization. The towns were linked with each others through rivers, which possibly served as water supply and transportation networks. The town had developed trade relationships with Persian Gulf and Mesopotamia.
Art works recovered during the archeological excavations such as human and animal terracotta figurines, gold ornaments, toys, decorative motifs painted on pottery and other objects made from copper/bronze, shell and semi-precious stones, carnelian beads with bleached white designs (etched with alkaline solution) indicate the affluent urban style of life enjoyed by the citizens of the Valley.
Buffalo horns and pipal trees were regarded as sacred. Depictions on some seals and tablets of men wearing horned headdresses decorated with pipal leaves may have represented religious as well as secular leaders. One of the published artifacts looks like the boar Varaha or the Panjurli, popular spirit in Tulu culture. Fish symbols abound in these areas that have been variously interpreted by scholars like Iravattam Mahadevan and Asko Purpola. Mahadevan suggested Indus to be a proto-Dravidian culture. Asko Purpola suggested that fish pictograms represented religious beliefs. Purpola’s suggestion appears meaningful since in later aprt of the history around 300 BC legend of fish worship was adopted as Matsyavatar, the first incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
Traditions involving the worship of nature and possibly even the "Mother Goddess" were integrated into the traditions of the Indo-Aryan speakers in the form of a reverence for cows, pipal trees, rivers and water.
Most of the cities of the Indus Civilization were abandoned by circa 1800 B.C possibly due to shifting of rivers or famine. Possibly most of these settlements were relocated to the Pirak region.
Pirak civilization phase 1800 to 800 BC
The Pirak Culture evolved consequent upon the decline of the Indus Civilization. It was near the older Mehrgarh sites on the Kachi plain and characterized by geometric polychrome pottery. Here horses and camels were domesticated for the first time in South Asia, and the riding of horses is clearly attested. Sorghum and rice were added as summer crops to the existing winter crop assemblage of wheat and barley. This saw-toothed stone sickle was probably used to harvest cereals. Early Tulu and Early Dravidian tribes picked up the cultivation and consumption of rice in this region. Possibly, the custom of making boiled rice was also initiated in this region, as mentioned in some Greek accounts of the time ca 300 BC. Several other points regarding the Pirak phase of Tulu tribes has been described in previous posts.
Evidences such as urns containing cremated bones and ashes have been recovered, suggestive of development of new tradition burning of dead bodies evolved in the Cemetery H. Horses and camels were utilized for common domestic chores.
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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

47.Mundevu (Pandanus)



Mundevu bush is also known as ‘Common screw pine’ or botanically as Pandanus utilis. it is a common hedge or spiny bush consisting of long, ribbony leaves with serial spines on the margin of the leaves. These hedges naturally grow in Karavali Karnataka along river sides and beaches. It was also common along Tamilnadu coast since early Christian era. It has been mentioned in Sangam literature.
In Tulunadu, the ribbony leaves of Mundev shrub are cut and cleared of their spines and cut into ribbons. The leaves are tendered on low fire and knitted into tubular vessels called ‘moode’(=literally means ‘knitted’ vessel) that are used traditionally to steam cook ground paste of rice and urd .
Alternately, the leaves of jack tree are also used in quadruplets to knit and fashion out leafy vessels (‘gunda’ or ‘kotte’) for steam cooking the ground rice-urd paste.
Note that both Mundev (Pandanus) and Jack tree(Pela) are very ancient plants.Also note that the Tulu name for the shrub Mundevu includes reference to 'Munda' people.
These steam cooked dishes can be considered as precursors of later developed iddlis.(see, Post 23).

Sunday, October 14, 2007

46.Proto-Tulu Migration: Stage I

1. The proposal of the earliest stage of migration of proto- Tulu tribes is based on (a) the presence of Tulu words in African and Sumerian derived languages. The basic word ‘Tulu’ itself can be found in several place names and persons names. Similarly the Tulu words bant, oor (<.ur1=village), uri2 (<.ur2=to burn), ain (<.ai=five), sike(<.sige=sultriness), sima (samba=lion), puttu (putt=to birth) etc. are derived from ancient African/Mediterranean proto languages.
2. The timing suggested ca.2000 BC is approximate and is based on the mass migration of tribes out of Africa due to adverse environments like drought and desertification. There are actually many phases of African migrations beginning with the origin of evolved man around 165,000 years ago. Since the words Tulu, bant, oor, ain etc were well formed in African –Mediterranean region during the 4000-2000 BC period, the ca.2000 BC migration episode has been considered. The dates can be further refined with availability of new data.
3. The place of origin or initial dispersal was chosen as Ethiopia based on the presence of maximum number of place-name associations with the word Tulu. Even in those early days Tulu might have been a small ethnic group. Apparently even now there are ethnic groups called Tulu in Ethiopia.
4. For comparison of genome characteristics of Ethiopian and Tulu people extensive data may be required on either side, since both sides have undergone extensive human assimilations in the post-migration period. Right now, there may not be sufficient compilation of genetic data on this front, especially on the Tulunadu side. Besides, the present day Ethiopian have also changed considerably because several generations of migrations to and from Africa throughout the history. Apart from the declared complexities of genetic substructure of Ethiopian chromosomes, at least three major phases of back migrations from Asia into Ethiopia have been explained based on Y -chromosome genetic studies (Ornella Semino and others, 2002).Beside the present, Ethiopian (and Yemeni) maternal lineages are said to be composites of sub-Saharan and West Eurasian mtDNA haplogroups suggestive of extensive bidirectional gene flow on either sides of the Red Sea (Toomas Kivisild et al, 2004).
As pointed out by Kivisild et al (2003) in the Indian context, “It will take larger sample sizes, more populations, and increased molecular resolution to determine the likely modest impact of historic gene flows to India on its pre-existing large populations”
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Friday, October 12, 2007

45. Origin of the word ' Bant '

Like ‘Tulu’, the word 'Bant', is also derived from the African roots. The word ‘bant’ is also found in other southern Indian Dravidian languages like Kannada and Telugu. Presently, the word bunt refers to a particular community in Tulunadu. However, earlier in the history the word 'bant', (also written as bunt) meant and was a profession. It was a profession of trusted soldiers or body guards to the kings and chieftains. The ancient Tulu heroes Koti and Chennaya from baidyer/ billava caste were professional bants (=body guards) for Ballala chieftains according to Pad-danas. Similarly Hanumantha (or Hanuman) was called Rama’s banta in the sense of (a) trusted and (b) powerful personal assistant. The usage of the word in Ramayana also denotes the antiquity of the meaning of the word.
My earlier postings on Bantu>Bunt word derivation, apparently conveyed an erroneous impression that our 'Bunts' are directly derived from the African group of 'Bantu's. My earlier discussions were focused on the origin of the word and not the Tulu community of the same name. To avoid confusions let me use the spelling ‘bant’ to refer to the basic word and ‘bunt’ when referring to the community.
The origin of the word 'bant' is quite ancient (4000-2000 BC), having primary roots in several African and Mediterranean languages (like Sumerian and Akkadian etc), that have influenced in the evolution of Dravidian languages including Tulu. The Pad-dana style of our characteristic Tulu folk oral- literature itself has deeper roots in the analogous ‘oratures’ (=oral+ literature) popular in the African heritage.
The name “Bantu” in Africa refers to an ethnic group of 400 tribes and their languages. Swahili is one of the popular Bantu languages. Dr. Wilhem H. I. Bleek (1827-1875) is credited with naming these tribes as Bantu group in the year 1862. Thus the naming of the Bantu group may be relatively recent, but the original root word of ‘bant’ is quite ancient. The present African word ‘Bantu’ (ba+ ntu) now means 'people' in Bantu languages. And the same word ‘bant’ (= persons) acquired by proto-Tulu and related proto-Dravidian tribes that migrated ultimately to the southern India, has been evolved to represent ‘reliable, strong person’.

Tulu Bants in Kannada-Telugu armies
Tulu people used the word 'bant' or 'bante' initially for a professional body guard, usually trained in the ‘garodi’(=ancient gymnasium of Tulunadu) of martial arts. The word has similar meaning in Kannada and Telugu also.
The Tulu chieftains, Alupas had socio-political and matrimonial alliance with Kannada kings since the period of Kadambas. And the Tulu ‘bants’ served in the army of Kadamba and Chalukya Kannada kings as soldiers and bodyguards, between the period of 5th and 10th centuries.
In Telugu Mudiraju / Tamil Mutharaya communities, of Andhra and Tamilnadu, bants form a subcaste. Mudiraju people were fishermen, cultivators, special soldiers, warriors and ruling class at different times in the history. It is reported that Vellala (<.Ballala) bants migrated from Tulunad Karavali to Andhra in the historical period. This was because a part of Andhra was governed by Kannada Chalukya kings during the 7th to 8th centuries AD. During their reign, Chalukya kings introduced script for Telugu language based on the then existing medieval Kannada script. (As a consequence, the Telugu script bears resemblance to Kannada script even today)
Bunt as community name
Since a large number of Tulu farmers, (Okkaliga/ Nadava/Nair) were professional bants during the Tulu and Dravidian history, the word was subsequently adopted as a community name. The Tulu bunts has become a composite community group now, apparently evolved from several streams of people, during the history of Tulunad like Okkaligas (farmers), Alupas (> Alva), Nairs, Nadavas, and converts from Jainism.
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Thursday, October 11, 2007

44. The scale of human migration

Normally, our perceptions are based on the present environments and therefore we have difficulty in visualizing the scenarios from the past. Many people cannot digest the concept of migrations because they imagine whole massive population, in the scale they see now around, moving out from one place or region to the other.
One small event in the relatively recent history shall be useful to envisage the scale of migrations that occurred in the past history.
Nadava migration
About 500 years ago, five families of Nadavas from Kundapur taluk, left their original homeland due to differences with local people, travelled some 100 km distance northward crossing a number of coastal rivers to Ankola- Gokarna area of Uttara Kannada district and resettled there. Now, after passage of five centuries, the population of Nadava community in the Ankola- Gokarna region exceeds 10,000.
Five centuries have contributed significant changes to the language, culture and beliefs of the migrated Nadavas of present Uttara Kannada. Their language ‘Nadava Kannada’ now is slightly different from that of the present ‘Kundapur Kannada’. Their beliefs also have undergone minor changes: the cult of spirit worship has taken back seat and local influence of Lord Tirupati Venkataramana has taken over. The ‘moolasthana’ concept has almost vanished,but the ‘bari’ concept has become ‘balli’ concept.. The Bermer cult has been modified into an annual festival of Bommayya devaru.

43. Evolution of Tulu Language



I propose a three stage evolution of Tulu language. Other Dravidian languages also share this global heritage.
Stage I: ca.4000-2000 BC - Proto Tulu
Proto Tulu originated in Ethiopia. It contained lot of words derived from Sumerian languages and African languages. Some of these words still survive in our language. Other Proto-Dravidian languages also were originated in the region.
Around 2000 BC severe desertification of northern Africa occurred with formation of Sahara desert. The adverse environmental conditions forced many human tribes to leave Africa and migrate to greener areas with basic amenities. Tulu and other Proto Dravidian tribes left Africa and migrated.
Stage II: ca.2000-500 BC - Early Tulu
Migrating Tulu tribes and proto-Dravidians settled in the Pirak region in Central Asia, now part of Pakistan. Pirak region had a native language: Early Prakrit. They interacted with Indo-Aryans that came from Eastern Iran. A group of Indo-Aryan sages were engaged in the oral composition of Vedas. Early Tulu and Dravidians tribes learnt rice cultivation in this area. Again unfavorable environmental conditions enticed these Tulu/Dravidian tribes to migrate into greener pastures of India.
Stage III: ca.500-300 BC - Tulu
Early Tulu and Dravidian tribes migrated into India. They traveled and settled for some time in different regions of northwestern India, interacted with local language groups and further migrated to West coast of India. Interaction of Dravidian tribes with Marathi tribes contributed exchange of words between Dravidian and Marathi. Marathi language is an evolved form of Early Prakrit.
Tulu tribes settled in Karavali region that is popularly known as Tulunadu. Early Kannada tribes settled in plains of Karnataka. (The names Kannada and Karnataka may have evolved later.) Early Malayalees traveled further south and settled in Malabar. Tamils moved further and settled in Early-Madhurai, somewhere in the southern coast of India. The Early-Madhurai was destroyed by the transgression of the Sea and Tamils resettled in inland townships designated again as Madhurai.
At that time Munda group of languages and culture prevailed all over southern India. Munda tribes were adept in agriculture.They were growing a variety of crops like wheat, barley, jowar, ragi, cow pea (kadale), black gram (urd), green gram (padengi), horse gram (kudu), togari etc. The incoming tribes interacted with Munda tribes leading to assimilation of Munda language and culture in Tulu and other Dravidian languages and culture. Dravidian groups introduced rice cultivation methods acquired from their earlier settlements.
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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

42. Origin of the word Tulu -II

The word ‘Tulu’ itself is of remote antiquity. Online search shall convince you that the word Tulu is more global in dimension than we can imagine.It appears that the word 'Tulu' originally meant 'water and water related aspects' in the language of its origin, but might have acquired additional meanings subsequently due to changes in environmental situations.
In the ancient Sumerian language“tu” morpheme represented ‘water spring or well’ or ‘water connected activities like bathing or washing’ and the morpheme “lu” was indicative of quantity or abundance, people etc. There was another Sumerian word “tulu” or “tule” that meant ‘soft or placid’. (Compare similarity of the latter meaning with our ‘tuluve’ jack fruit.).Tulu is found in the list of African personal names and the word means ‘spread out in different directions’, possibly implying migratory character of the Tulu tribes. Another vocally analogous African word ‘Zulu’ also means water.
I believe that the word ‘Tulu’ existed since Sumerian period of early civilization (ca. 6000-4000 BC) in north African-Mediterranean region, where from these original ancient Tulu tribes migrated. The ancient Sumerian and related languages form the basis for the evolution of many of the Afro-Asiatic languages of present day. The word 'Tulu' originally meant (1) water or activities connected with water (2) placid and soft.These ancient meanings still survive today in spite of the passage of several millenia in the time scale. These Sumerian meanings are analogous to those interpreted by Sediyapu Krishna Bhat and Manjeswar Govinda Pai in the context of present Tulu in Tulunad.
The Ethiopia can be described as cradle of human race, since the earliest human fossils (Homo sapiens) Omo I and Omo II dated back to 165,000 years were found in Ethiopia. As reconstructed by the genome studies complemented with archeology and paleontology, human migrations started out of Ethiopia and Africa in several phases.
Tulu place names
Tulu is the name of several Ethiopian towns and settlements. ‘Tulu’ is also a surname or part of the name among the Ethiopian people. For example, Derartu Tulu is an Ethiopian female athlete. There are at least four places (towns, settlements) called ‘Tulu’ in Ethiopia, at least one each in the other neighboring African countries like Kenya, Sudan, Nigeria and Zaire. In Ethiopia there are more than 12 places in the online maps with ‘Tulu’ as prefix, such as Tulu Bolo, Tulu Bora, Tulu Ferda, Tulu Guracha etc.
Tulu Migrations
On the basis of these data I suggest that the original Tulu tribes originated in Ethiopia in northern Africa and migrated out of Africa under adverse environmental conditions.Based on environmental geological data scientists have interpreted that around 2000 BC, wide spread desertification of northern Africa prompted many tribes to migrate out of Africa. Tulu place names in other African countries are suggestive of migration of early Tulu tribes in different directions. The present African meaning of ‘spread in different direction’ for the word ‘Tulu’ could have been the result of migrations.
The exact nature of the language of the primary Tulu tribes hailing from Ethiopia is difficult to conjecture now but we can presume some of the original words are still preserved as fossils in present Tulu language.
The Tulu language has grown or evolved independently of African languages during the last 6000 years in such a way that they have entirely separate identities and characteristics. A lot of things change as a result of divergent evolutionary trends. But some fossil root words may exist still!
Outside the African continent, Tulu place names can also be found in Pakistan (‘Thulu’), Afghanistan, Mynamar, China, Bolivia, Brazil, Papua New Guinea and Phillipines.
The Afghan Television channel, at present, is called ‘Tulu TV’, the word ‘Tulu’ in the present Afghan language means something like ‘the rising’ or ‘the dawn’. Note that Afghan meaning of ‘Tulu” is different from the African roots. Afghanistan is close to Pirak where many of the tribes settled during the period ca.2000 to 500 BC. The Pirak episode of Tulu tribes has been discussed in several earlier posts in this blog.
The Tulu tribes settled and lived in the Pirak area for some 1500 years, then again migrated (ca 500-300 BC) to their present homeland in Tulunad.

The original ‘Tulu’ may have been the name of the mother who migrated from Africa to Pirak along with her family. The original ‘Tulu’ family carried several root words along with them during the migration from their early homeland. A few such Tulu families or clans were active in the last millennium also around Kundapur, Honavar and Banavasi region.
And Krishnadevaraya who ruled Vijayanagar was product of one such family that called itself Tulu clan.

41. Origin of the word Tulu -I

Origin and meaning of the word Tulu has been disputed in literary circles since pre-Independance days. Dr. Palthadi Ramakrishna Achar(1999) has compiled the available historical information on the word ‘Tulu’ in his book ‘TuLu naaDu- nuDi’. Most of the appraisals, as remarked by Dr Achar, have been made considering Tulu as a character of the territory or the people rather than the language.

1.In ‘Rajatha Peethapura Mahatme’(1913) it is described that a chieftain of Udupi called Ramabhoja offered Tulābhāra to the deity, to amend for the sin of killing a serpent. Tulābhāra is the offering of gold or other material (according to the status of the worshipper) equivalent to ones body weight. Thus the word Tulu has been suggested to have been derived from the Tulābhāra. The theory has not been accepted by experts since Rama bhoja appears to be an imaginary ruler unsubstantiated in the actual history of the land.
2.Another similar legend in ‘Keralotpatti’, an ancient work that originated from Kerala, describes the rule of one ‘Tuluban Perumal’ from Koteswara, Kundapaura area, who gave the name Tulunad for the area.This is again a figment of fertile imagination since there is documented evidence of any Tuluban Perumal ruling Tulunad.
3. Dr B. A. Salettur derived the word ‘Tulu’ from the Kannada root ‘tooL’ which means to attack. Dr. Gururaja Bhat had discounted this suggestion since Tulu people were never attacked anyone nor had any expansionist ideals.
4. Manjeswara Govinda Pai proposed that the word Tulu has been considered to have derived from the Tamil word ‘Tulai’ which means to row or play with water.
5. Kudkadi Viswanatha Rai (cited in Dr Achar,1999) suggested that the Tulu has been derived from the phrase ‘Tullal naadu’, wherein ‘tullal’ means to wriggle or to dance. Native Mera or Muger tribes describe their marriage ceremony as 'tullal'.
6. Dr. Gururaja Bhat proposed that the word Tulu is modified form of the term ‘turu’ that refers to cattle. Cattle herding and grazing is considered to be one of the earliest known professions in India. Cow-herders of Gujarat, also known as Yadavas are considered to be one of the early settlers in Tulunad. Haritha of Yadava clan was said to have ruled in Tulunad according to Harivamsha. However there are no solid evidences in favour of turu>tulu word conversion .
7. ‘Tolahars’ were a royal clan that ruled a part of Tulunad. Tola>Tulu conversion has been thought of by some workers.
8. J.Sturrock in his South Canara Manual ( Vol.I ) inferred that word Tulu possibly refers to the ‘soft’ nature of the local people, since the adjective “tuluve” is applied to the soft pulpy variety of jack fruit. However, this argument has not been accepted by experts like Dr. Gururaja Bhat.

9. Sediyapu Krishna Bhat has pointed out that the word ‘Tulu’ is connected with water. ‘Tuluve’(jack fruit) also means ‘watery’ and that should be considered instead of the ‘soft’ implication. The other water related words in Tulu are talipu, teli, teLi, teLpu, tuLipu, tulavu, tamel and additionally in Kannada are tuLuku and toLe. In Tamil tuli means water drop and tulli means the same in Malayalam.

Interestingly, earlier Manjeswar Govinda Pai also had suggested that the term Tulu is derived from the Tamil word tulai which means to row, dive or play in water.
Thus it can be concluded that the word Tulu implies ‘related to water’.

10. The term ‘Tulu’ was also used as a clan name, as recorded in the Honnali inscription of Shimoga district, dated 1203AD. Dr. Gururaja Bhat has cited several personal names with Tulu as affixes like Tuluveswara, Tuluva Chandiga, Tulu Senabova, Tuluvi Setti, Tuluvakka Heggadati,Tulu Alva, Tulai Amma etc. as have been recorded in the inscriptions. In the Basrur (in Kundapur taluk) inscription dated 1401 AD, mentions a Tuluvi Setti donating land to maintain the routine expenditures of the Tuluveswara temple of Basrur. Besides, Krishnadevaraya, the famous emperor of Vijayanagar was said to be hailing from the ‘Tuluva’ dynasty.
Thus we can conclude that the word ‘Tulu’ means ‘that connected with water’ and it is also name of a clan or group.
However the word Tulu is more global than we ordinarily imagine!

(..to be continued)

Monday, October 8, 2007

A Tulu stage play : 'Kariyajjerna katekulu'

Rangavathar stage group presented a memorable Tulu stage play on Sunday 7th October,2007 at Town-hall auditorium, Mangalore. “Kariajjerna katekulu” is based on the short stories written by award winning Tulu writer D.K.Chouta. The play was directed by Krishnamurthy Kavattar who sharpened his theatrical shills under the famed Ninasam group of Heggodu.
The drama based on collage of four short stories selected from the D.K.Chouta’s book of the same name reflects the Tulu culture and attitude effectively employing neo-style audio-visual theatrical techniques. The rural “guthu” culture, spirit worship of Lord Malaraya, the Kola and Nema, the recitation of stanzas from of Yakshagana folk theatre, the attendance of aborigines-all these elements woven deftly into the drama. The guthus (guthu= a large household of a landlord) were the traditional centres of power at rural level in Tulunad since historical times. The backdrop and props of ornate wooden pillar, buta mancha and the scarecrow (representing the paddy field) characteristic of rural Tulu homes makes the theme meaningful. The entire Rangavathar team and the writer Chouta deserve congratulations for the experimental stage play.
One particular usage in the drama that stuck me was the term “mooladakulu” to refer to the scheduled servants attending the “guthu”. (“Mooladakulu” literally means “those from the origin” or aborigines.) More about aborigines in some other posts.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

40.Early evolution of words and languages



The concept of the African origin and migration of mankind worldwide suggests that languages also might have originated and migrated in the similar way. Prehistoric According to the mother tongue theory of origin of languages, the human migrations appear to have led to the present diverse distribution of worlds languages.
The languages appear to have originated as primitive sounds in the beginning that eventually evolved into morphemes and words. Words were combined to form sentences to supplement the gestures and to facilitate accuracy of expression. Migration of people to different locations around the globe introduced umpteen variations in the words, adoption of the new words, pattern and style of combing words into sentences, usages and grammars depending on the environment of the settlement and the association of pre-existing, resident people. Thus evolution and migrations and diverse environments have produced different and complex languages.
The primitive oral /spoken languages evolved some 130,000 years ago with development of the gene FOXP2 associated with speech. Most of the communications, including the literature and education in the early days were in oral format. Subsequently the necessity of keeping business accounts and preservation and documentation of literature led to the evolution of writing about 5000 years ago.
Linguists like Meritt Ruhlen (1994) consider that all extant languages share a common origin and similar words in different languages are usually the result of divergent evolution from a single earlier language.
Most of the basic morphemes (parts of the word) and words originated among the early civilizations and spread around the globe along with trends and patterns of human migration and habitation.
Sumerian civilization in the Mediterranean valleys of Euphrates and Tigris (now parts of Iraq and Iran) is considered to be one of the early civilizations that developed and flourished during the period 6000 to 2000 BC. There could have been contemporaneous or older civilizations in other parts of the world like India, but these have not been sufficiently documented.
In the light of basic theory of evolution of words and the languages outlined above, we can expect to find some of the basic Tulu morphemes and words in the earliest civilizations, like those developed in the vicinity of the place of origin of the mankind, the northern Africa.

Monday, October 1, 2007

39. One human family with many variations



The declaration of the ancient Indian Sanskrit adage “Vasudaiva kutumbakam” (=the whole world is one family) is in concurrence with the findings of the science that infer human beings originated in Africa, who with time upon proliferation, migrated and populated diverse parts of the globe.
The present day global human population presents so many variations in skin, eye and hair colors. Many natural geological processes that affected the Earth have contributed to the mutations in human genes that in turn created new variants in the physical characteristics leading to diversity of human races.
Major volcanic episodes after the origin of human beings like that of Mt. Toba, Sumatra (ca.74, 000 years ago) probably had drastic effect on extant human races. The heavy clouds of dust storms and the nuclear winter that followed the devastating volcanic eruption may have produced serious mutational effects on the physiology and genetic characters of human beings that eventually survived the catastrophe.
Similarly other natural calamities like earthquakes,desertification and migration/diversion/drying up of rivers have influenced human migrations and in turn interactions with differing human groups.
Post LGM evolution of skin colors
The Last Glaciation Maximum (or the Pleistocene ice age) around 10,000 years ago caused drastic lowering of ultraviolet rays in the atmosphere especially in the northern hemisphere. This led to the reduction of melanin pigment in the skin and modification of genetic characters with development of fair skinned people in the cold areas and intermediate colors (ranges of fair to brown shades) in the temperate zones. The melanin content in the skin dictates the color of skin in human beings.
The brown skinned people were developed due to mutation in genes. Polymorphisms in three genes, SLC24A5, TYR and SLC45A2 that are related to the melanin content in the skin collectively account for most of the natural variations of skin pigmentation in the south Asian people. Human skin and hair color is also said to be controlled in part by MCIR gene.
Human skin color is geographically stratified and correlate with environmental level of ultraviolet radiation. Genetic studies suggest that the Europeans and East Asians acquired fair skin colors through different genetic means. The evolution of the light skin post-dates the Ice Age with SLC24A5 and the blue-eye variant of OCA2 both genes showing to significant rise in frequency within the last 10,000 years.
Most of the significant stages in the global human evolution in terms of culture and civilization post date the ice age and by then different colored human beings in different parts of the globe had evolved.
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Blog Archive

Books for Reference

  • A Comparative Study of Tulu Dialects By Dr. Padmanabha Kekunnaya. Govinda Pai Reserach Centre, UDupi. 1994
  • Koti Chennaya: Janapadiya Adhyayana. By Dr. Vamana Nandavar. Hemanshu Prakashana ,Mangalore.2001.
  • Male kudiyaru. Dr B. A.Viveka Rai and D.Yadupathi Gowda, Mangalore University,1996.
  • Mogaveera Samskriti By Venkataraja Punimchattaya. Karnataka Sahitya Academy.1993.
  • Mugeraru:Jananga Janapada Adhyayana. By Dr Abhaya Kumar Kaukradi.Kannada & Culture Directorate,Bangalore & Karnataka Tulu Academy, Mangalore,1997.
  • Puttubalakeya Pad-danagalu. Ed: Dr B.A.Viveka Rai,Yadupati Gowda and Rajashri, Sri Dharmasthala Manjunatheswara Tulu Peeta. Mangalore University.2004
  • Se'erige. Ed:Dr K.Chinnapa Gowda.Madipu Prakashana,Mangalagangotri,2000.
  • Studies in Tuluva History and Culture.by Dr P Gururaja Bhat (1975).Milagres College,Kallinapur,Udupi.
  • Taulava Sanskriti by Dr.B.A.Viveka Rai, Sahyadri Prakashana,Mysore 1977
  • TuLu naaDu-nuDi By Dr.PalthaDi Ramakrishna Achar, Puttur.
  • TuLu NighanTu. (Editor in Chief: Dr U.P.Upadhyaya, Govinda Pai Research Centre,Udupi. Six volumes. 1988 to 1997
  • Tulu Patero-A Philology & Grammar of Tulu Language by Budhananda Shivalli.2004.Mandira Prakashana Mangalore. p.317. (The book is in Tulu Language using Kannada script)
  • TuLunadina ShasanagaLa Sanskritika Adhyayana. By Shaila T. Verma (2002) Jnanodaya Prakashana,Bangalore, p.304.(Kannada)
  • Tuluvala Baliyendre. Compiled by N.A.Sheenappa Hegde,Polali,Sri Devi Prakashana,Parkala,1929/1999

A Coastal estuary

A Coastal estuary
Holegadde near Honavar,Uttara Kannada dist, Karnataka

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