While browsing through the old village maps of Mangalore, I happened to notice that the revenue village map encompassing present day Kulashekar, Shaktinagar,Kadri Padavu, Bikarnakatte etc area, was titled in Kannada as ‘PaDavu’. (‘D’ pronounced as in ‘dog’). The exact word ‘PaDavu’ could be recognized as ‘D’ is distinguished distinctly from ‘d’ in Kannada script. The village maps originally drafted / printed in the year 1893 contain old and original village names used during that period.
The word ‘PaDavu’ is not in current usage as a place name as it has been replaced by similar and generalized word ‘Padavu’('d' pronounced as 'the'). Even the mighty 'Tulu Nighantu', has not cited the word as a geographical indicator or place name.
Let us discuss the two geographical terms ‘padavu’ and ‘paDavu’ that are contrastingly different in meaning.
The Tulu Nighantu (=Tulu Lexicon) (vol 5, p.1896) describes the word paDavu’ under two heads: (1) large merchant boat or ship; also known as ‘pānDi’ and (2) oil storing utensil/ vessel. It can be seen both the above meanings are mutually related and based on the bowl like shape of the structure or the ‘container’ aspect.
However the Lexicon has inadvertently omitted the original word ‘paDavu’ which carries a geographical description. The word can be analyzed as follows:
‘paDa’ (=sunken, fallen, or depressed land)+’vu’ or ‘va’ (a spatial suffix)
Hence, ‘paDavu’= sunken land or depression; a bowl like structure or valley zone.
The word ‘paDa’ or ‘paDu’ or ‘paDDāyi’ (= western direction) is employed in Tulu (and other related Dravidian languages) as equivalent word to signify Western direction. The word ‘paDu’ appears to have been coined in west coast of India, where the western side (Coastal Karavali) is lower in elevation compared to the east (Sahyadri ranges or Western Ghats).
The geographical indicator ‘paDavu’ is almost lost in current usage, because of confusion and replacement by another word ‘padavu’.
In current Tulu usage ‘padavu’ is used in the sense of plateau or elevated planar area.
In Christian Konkani the equivalent word is ‘pāduva’. (For example, Pāduva high school).It would be interesting to explore whether the Konkani word ‘pāduva’ was adapted form of ‘padavu’ or directly borrowed from a similar sounding Prakrit word.
Thus it appears that the word was originally ‘pāda +vu. It is possible that ‘pada’ is derived from or related to the word ‘pāda’, wherein, pāda= rocky hill. (Tulu word ‘paāde’ represents rock.).
However, the word ‘pada’ also represents higher level, elevation or grade. And thus, ‘padavu’ means an area of higher elevation or plateau. It is interesting here to note that Sanskrit word ‘padavi’ also means higher grade or honours.
It may not be surprising if the Sanskrit word ‘padavi’ was derived from or related to the ancient word ‘padavu’.However, H.Vishwanath opines that the word 'padavi' is derived from root 'pat' or 'pada' (i.e. foot) Padavi means stepped up position, rank. So Sanskrit 'Padavi' is not dervied from the word Padavu or Padavu.
Pada and Sira
While reviewing the words above, it may be pointed out that the words ‘pāde’ (=rock bed) and pāda (=foot; later, an unit) / ‘pada’(=a step, an unit, a word etc) apparently are related in derivation. Similarly the words ‘Sira’ (=peak, of rock; Sun, Light, supreme power, heaven, wealth etc) and ‘shira’ (=head) are related. The allusion of natural objects and forces , probably later, to parts of human body, like foot and head makes an interesting study.®