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374. Banga and Bangera Bari

The Bangera ‘bari ‘( ‘gotra’) is one of the common lineage systems prevalent in Tulunadu  and found in most of the Tulu communities. We sh...

Saturday, November 29, 2008

162. Evolution of Tulu language

Languages prevalent in India have been broadly classified into groups like Indo-Aryan, Dravidian and Austro-Asiatic. The classifications somehow make us feel that language groups are water tight compartments.
However, like human beings,their gene structures, behaviour, skin colour and attitudes, languages have also evolved with passage of time. Tulu is one of the ancient world languages that has evolved in several stages in different parts of the globe in tune with the human evolution and migration patterns.

Formation of words
1.In Dravidian languages like Tulu, words appear to have been formed by the agglutination of smaller short words. Some examples have been enlisted here below to
show the features of agglutination. Earlier we have discussed some of these features especially in post No.141. Village Name Suffixes.

2.Some of the smaller words or their basic components have also been absorbed or adopted by Dravida and Sanskrit languages alike during the course of evolution. New independent words were formed from the basic word components. It appears that some of these short- basic-words borrowed by Dravida and Sanskrit languages may be older in origin than both.

3.Some of these small words evolved into prefixes and suffixes in some languages while some languages like Tulu have unknowingly discontinued the usage of prefixes, possibly because of absence of systematic or classified grammar during the course of its evolutionary history.
In other words, Tulu had prefix like short words in the earlier stages. This could be a feature absorbed from one of its precursor languages. However, some of these prefix structures were abandoned during the course of later evolution of Tulu language.

4. Analysis of ancient prefixes that prevailed (now buried in ancient words) in Tulu language is important and these prefixes can be resurrected to create new words to suit the demands of current usages.

Tulu/Dravida prefixes
Consider an ancient word like 'mudara'.
Mudara was a commonly used proper name of Tulu people in ancient days. There is a place called Mudarangadi near Padubidri. The word Mudara means fertile land or soil according to Tulu Nighantu.
Thus the word 'Mudara' can be analysed as mu+dara =fertile land. [mu =fertile, wet; dara=land].
Note that 'mu' has been used as an ancient short word or prefix in the construction of several other similar Tulu/ Dravida words, but its independent identity as short word or prefix has been lost with passage of time. That is to say that now we do not use (or are not aware of ) the usage of 'mu' as a prefix in present Tulu.

Word components
The other component word in Mudara, the 'dara' or 'tara', means land or earth.(Compare the Tulu words like: kanDada dara kaDpuni, dare laaguini, etc). The ancient word 'dara' has been absorbed by several Dravidian as well as Sanskrit during the course of evolution. Dara / tara (land) > 'da-re' (Tulu) earthen wall; 'dhare' (Sanskrit, =Earth). Uttara (Sanskrit, =north) is based on (ut + tara) the elevated land. Ettara ( Dravida word, =elevation) (et + tara ) originally meant elevated land/ place > (later simplified to) 'the elevation'.Note that the words 'ettara' and 'uttara' mean the same origin-wise but now they have different meanings. In the Gangetic plains of north India, the northern region (consisting of Himalaya and Siwalik ranges) were distinctly elevated compared to southern regions. Therefore in those areas where Sanskrit was the preferred language, the word 'uttara' meant north!

Note also some of the words derived from the base of 'tara' or 'dara' like 'taru'(= those grown on land; trees) 'tarakāri' (=grown on land,or plant products), 'darakās' (=own land, private land), 'darkār'(=right or authority over land), 'terige'(=tax on land), 'tiruve'(=tax/cess on land) etc.

Prefix mu
Consider some of the other Tulu words having a prefix of mu: mugal, mudel, etc.
Mugal. mu+gal/kal fertile sky > modified to rainy dark clouds. Kal was a variant of kār or gār. Mungar is a variant of mugal r>l transition and obliteration of m sound (anuswāra). kal/gal became kāl, the time. Ancient people used to study/watch sky ( and position of sun in the sky and resultant shadow) to ascertain time.
Kar and kār /kāl further also meant dark blue or black. Kariya, kargi, karmoda etc Dravida words were evolved. Note that Krishna, the Sanskrit word (k.r+sh+Na=dark skinned person ) was also evolved from 'kar'>k.r, the dark.

Mudel, Mudal mu + tal/dal.: 'mudal' or 'mudel' refers to bottom or initial part of a plant.[mu=good; tal /dal=bottom (tal >tala, bottom,lower part)]
The related word 'mudal' refers to the first or initial aspect . The mudal (=first) is derived from 'mudel' (= initial growing part of a plant).
Mudale(=crocodile).(mu+tale=pronounced head characteristic of crocodile).

Above illustrations suggest that mu was a short word or prefix in Tulu and Dravida languages in earlier days. Apparently the usage of prefix/short word 'mu' has been abandoned in present state of Tulu language.

Other Tulu prefixes
Mu is not the only prefix word in ancient Tulu We can find that there are many such lost prefixes. The expression 'lost' is used solely to suggest our present difficulty to trace the exact original meaning of some of these prefixes. Some of the 'lost' prefixes recognizable in Tulu include: Ku, Ko,Ti, Na, Pa , Ma, Mi etc.

Na
Naravi (na=our? ravi/rayi=stoney area)
Navur (na=our? oor=village)
Nakre (Na=?

Ku
Kuvettu,[ku=fertile? ku+bettu]
Note an ancient Queens of Sri Lanka was named: 'Kuveni'.
Kumara, [ku=young youthful?, Māra=god ; related to 'Marava' cult].
The prefix Ku as in Sanskrit later became suggestive of negative or bad character.

Ko
Koila< Kovil? [ko=divine? illu=house, kovila, koila=shrine]

Ma
Ma=elevated area? As in manja, manji

Mi
Mi= enclosed, inner part?
Examples: Miyar,( mi+ār= enclosed/inner field?); Mijar( mi+jār=interior sloping land?); Midal(<.mi+tal=inner part/organs of head); Miraj etc.

Ti
Ti =wet land?
Examples:Timār(= a wet paddy field, ti+mār), Timare(=an aromatic herb growing in wet fields,'Brāhmi'; herb grown in timār).etc.


Pā=water? Primitive form of ' paani'?
Examples: Pāngala, Pāndi etc.


I have jotted down some of the above thoughts I derived while analysing the Tulu words. Later, these may be refined further. In the meanwhile readers may offer their opinions on these and other primitive Tulu/ Dravida word forms.
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Sunday, November 9, 2008

161. Antiquity of Shira

Tracing roots of some of the common words and place names surprisingly leads us to locations beyond the shores our country from where our ancestors apparently set out on journeys several hundreds or thousands of years ago. Digging at the roots also reveal the evolutionary nature of many of the ancient words that might with passage of time have been modified to acquire newer shades of meaning in the true sense of growth and evolution.

Shirva
The fascinating place-name is as mysterious as inscrutable it is. Shirva and Manchakal are twin urban villages to the south of the temple town of Udupi. The simple analysis Shir+va does not leads us anywhere as to it origin or meaning at the first attempt.
However,comparison with some similar place names throws some light on this word. Some of the village names that can be compared with Shirwa are: Shirthadi, Shiriyara, Shirur,Shiradi and Shira. The common thread in these names is Shira or Sira.
Infact, the name 'Shiriyara' (or Siriyara) prompts us to link these villages with the famous name of Siri, a legend in the Karavali.

Siri
Antiquity of the legendary name of Siri has been discussed in older posts. The roots of word Siri can be traced to some of the African heritages. Ethiopia has several places that contain the word Siri. Even the roots of the game Chenne ( Manquala games) popular since Siri days can be traced to African lands. Siri has been a popular word for Goddess of luck in Buddhism and Jainism and later it was adopted into Sanskrit as Shri who is equivalent of Goddess Lakshmi. The common title 'Shri' bestowed on our men to denote respectability originally came from the name of symbolic Goddess of luck, prosperity and wealth.
Some of the place names like Siriyara, Siribeedu, Siribagilu, Shirlalu etc appear to have been directly related to the legend of Siri in Tulunadu. (In these names s- or sh- sounds have been used interchangeably by different users).

Sira
However, the word Shira or Sira in our place names is not modification of Siri, but is an original word, though the words Siri and Sira appear to be interrelated in origin and evolution.
There are several distinct places known as Shira. The popular well known town Shira in Tumkur district, Karnataka is not the only example. There is a 'Shira' in Uttar Kashi district of Uttaranchal State in the northern India.. Besides there are several Shirur ( spelt variously as Shiroor, Sirur or Siroor etc) all over India.
However the word Sira, Siri and Siria can be traced in Africa and Europe. Syria is the name of a State in Africa. There are many hills and villages known as 'Siri' or 'Sire' in and around Ethiopia (Africa), Norway and Sweden (Europe). Sira is also the name of river in Norway. Old west Norse priest had a title called Sira. And in Nigeria a Siri (and dialect Sirawa) language is spoken.
These roots leads us to the conclusion that Tulu ancestors who immigrated to India from African Ethiopian roots in antiquity brought with them basic outlines of the legends connected with the 'Siri' of Tulu Siri paDdana.
These data suggest that the word Sira or Siri is not a word restricted to our region alone but rather transcontinental in nature that can be attributed to dispersal of the ancient word in tune with the human migration patterns.

Roots of the term Sira
In Indian languages the term Sira (or Shira) refers to head or peak (summit) in general. And possibly the Indian word Shila (rock) is derived from the original word Shira (r >l conversion). In Phoenician languages the word 'tsur' means rock and the term 'Syria' is considered to have been derived from or related to the cited word 'tsur'. The rocks especially meteorites that fall into the earth were reverently worshipped in the ancient days as we see the importance attached to the rock at Kaaba.
In Persian languages the word 'Siria' means sunny bright glowing light etc, apparently refers indirectly to Sun or the 'Surya ' of Indian languages. Thus Siri, Sari, Sara, Siria, Siraj etc male/female personal names popular in different parts of Africa Europe and India have been derived from the word Siri or Sira. Siri is a name popular in Norway and Sweden as is in India. The Indian title for respectable males, 'Shri' is derived from the word 'Siri'.
We can trace the origin of the word to ancient Sumerian language (6000-4000 BCE) where we encounter the phrase such as “E-gish-shir-gal “(=house of the great light). The Sumerian word 'Shir' or 'sher ' means to shine brightly.

The book of Ecclesiasticus of Old Testament is also known as the “Book of Sirach”. or “Ben Sira”. The book in Greek manuscripts is known as Sophia Iesou uiou Seirach, which means "the Wisdom of Jesus, the son of Sirach". It is also known as Sophia Seirach (=the Wisdom of Sirach). The Hebrew fragments of Ecclesiasticus describes: "Wisdom of Simeon, the son of Yeshua, the son of Eleazar, the son of Sira".
Thus since the days of Sumerian civilization (6000-4000 BCE) and even during the beginning of Common Era the word 'Sira' meant divine light or God which suggests a connotation to the major source of light, the Sun. Further,the word Sira appears recurrently in Islamic tradition (600 CE onwards) too. Biographies of Prophet Muhammad are known as 'Sirah Rasul Allah'.The male Arabic name 'Siraj' means guiding light.
An overall analysis of the word suggests that Sira originally meant bright day light derived from the Sun. The light was considered heavenly and divine since it spread from the vast sky: auspicious and lucky because of its contrast with dark night. Similarly the meteorites that fell on the Earth from the sky were also called Sira, possibly because ancient people thought that it came from heaven. Because of this feelings, the meteorite fragment that survived while falling through the Earth's atmospheric shield were considered divine tokens, as perceived by the historical reverence attached to a specific basaltic rock at Kaaba. Thus Sira represented sky or that is above our head. This meaning was extended to represent top or summit portion of human body or peak of any hill.
Indian context
Migration of people from the African-Mediterranean region to India during several periods in the early human history obviously carried with them their cultural strains as well as their words. Their language was modified as a consequence of admixing with the places they settled but the basic words were absorbed into the new languages they adapted to. Thus five basic meanings were attributed or retained to the word Sira/Siri in the Indian context as follows:
Sira =the peak, the head, the top portion or summit. Sira> Shira
Sira =the rock, Sira>Sila
Sira =column, length or vein . Sire> Sele (=water bearing joint in the rock). Compare 'sele' (rock joint or water spring) with 'shile', the rock.
Sira =the divine light (Sun). Siria>Surya.
Siri =luck. 1.Heroine of an ancient Tulu paDdana (Siri), possibly Tulu equivalent of tamil Sangham literature. 2.Goddess of luck, prosperity and wealth in Buddhist and Jain traditions. 3.Also absorbed into Hindu pantheon of Gods as Shree or Lakshmi. 4.Siri.> Shri (=respectful Indian title of a prosperous man)

Our relevant village names
The usually accepted Indian meaning of Shira(=head or peak )is not applicable in the case of many our village names that contain the word Shira or Sira.
The village name Shirā possibly means divine and/ or rocky. Similarly Siriyara (= Siria+ara) and Shirthadi (Shiratta +aDi) might have been designated after the Siri, the Goddess of luck or the rocks. Note the word 'Siria' is similar to the Siria or Syria place/State name of the African continent. Shirlal is Shirila+ āl or the river-side village of the Siris', the plural term Siris being applied to a group of legendary ladies associated with the paDdana story of the Siri. The Shirahatti may be a divine village. However, in some of the villages known as 'Shiroor's along the coast, there are no trace of rocky outcrops or peaks worth describing. Hence, these Shiroors might have been named after Siri or the divine Sira.
Shirva (Shir+va) possibly means a village with rocky outcrops. Incidentally, an African dialect in Nigeria is also known as Sirawa. The suffix '-va' as village indicator is less common in Tulunadu, the only other example that comes to mind is 'Urva' (Uru+va) in Mangalore. The '-va' suffix may be a variant of '-ya' suffix as in Suria, Neri(y)a, Uliya etc.
It is no longer a mystery that vestiges of human evolution and migration have been preserved even in the evolution of words that have been handed out to us through generations.
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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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