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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...

Saturday, June 26, 2010

245. Shibarur

In the northern part of Mangalore Taluk, to the east of Surathkal and to the south of Kinnigoli, we have this hamlet known as Shibarur. Shibarur (Shibar + ur) is well known for a Kodamanithaya spirit shrine which has been renovated recently in the form of temple. Shibarur is known as Tibaar in Tulu parlance. The Shibarur village is proximal to Delanthabettu hamlet which forms a part of Surinje village. The Kodamanithaya shrine of Shibarur is a popular piligrimage centre and was recently in the news on account of the religious festivities associated with the shrine.

Shibrikere
There is one more hamlet in Mangalore Taluk known as ‘Shibrikere’ (Shibari+kere) referring to a now dried up ‘kere’ (=pond) near Yedapadavu.
Similarly there is a village known as Shibaje in Belthangadi Taluk.
As you can see all these hamlets carry a lesser known prefix of Shiba, Shibara or Shibari. There may be many more such hamlets in other parts of Tulunadu or rest of India and these may be cited by our knowledgeable readers.Similarly,there is a locality with a large rocky outcrop known as 'Shibiri-kallu' in Maadathadka near Vitla Mudnur village, Bantval Taluk.
Let us explore and endeavor to document some of the lost strings of history and evolution connected with the habitation known as Shibarur and other 'Shiba",'Shibara' or 'Shibari' localities.
Shabara
Shibara is also the name of a mountain pass in Afghanistan where from many invaders and immigrants found their way to India in the historical past.The word Shibara also appears like a word related to ‘shibira’(= a field camp).
However, the word ‘Shibara’ could be an ancient variant of the word ‘Shabara’. Shabara signifies a tribe of hunters.Lord Shiva in the legends has been considered in the form of a Shabara or a tribal hunter. There is an estate valley known as ‘Sabarabail’ on the Bantval to Guruvayankere road. The place name Sabarbail documents the historical presence of Sabara hunter tribes in the Karavali.
Among older generation of Tulu people there is a proper name: 'Tabura' or 'Tabara' or 'Tabaranna'. This could not be the Tabur ant found on trees but a variant of the word Shabara or Shibura. Poornachandra Tejasvi wrote a novel known as 'Tabarana kathe', woven around an innocent rustic person called Tabara.
Shabari
Shabari is a well known character of an old woman, an epitome of devotion envisaged by poet Valmiki in the great epic Ramayana. The old woman from the hunter tribe was an ardent devotee of Rama. She collected various fruits from the forest and tasted each of the fruits before offering them to Rama. Mind you, she personally checked the taste and edibility of each of the fruit collected from the wild forest.Her innocent act was not to spoil the sanctity of the offering, but to verify personally if any of the wild fruits are poisonous or taste badly. Note that the poet Valmiki himself was from a tribe of hunters. The overall picture of the Shabari in Ramayana takes us back to the period of wild hunting stage in the human evolution.
Savara, Sora
The Sabara (or Shabara) tribe is also known as Savara (Orissa, Kerala, Karnataka), Severa (Assam), Sapera (Uttar Pradesh, Jamu, Maharstra), Soara or Sora (Andhra Pradesh, Orissa Bihar) tribes in other parts of India. These tribes have been considered as part of the Munda group of Austro-Asiatic tribes in India. One of the possibility is that Shibara (Karavali Karnataka), so far undocumented, was a variant of this large and wide spread tribal group of ancient hunters.
Kirata tribes
Apart from the Shabara-Sabara-Shibara-Savara- Severa-Sapera-Soara-Sora tribal hunters group, there were other hunter groups known as Kirata or Kirataka and Bhils.
Kirata (or Kiranta) tribes were the ancient inhabitants of foothills of Himalaya in northern and northeastern India and considered to be of Indo-Mongoloid or Indo-Tibetan origin. Kiranta tribes ruled ancient Tripura in northeastern India and claim that they were also part of the pre-Vedic Indus Valley civilization.The Kirata and related tribes like Yaksha and Kinnara were part of the ancient legends of India.
Shibarai - Shiva
It appears that Shibara or shibari could have been a word modified from Shibarai. Bengalis use the term Shiba for Lord Shiva.The Shibarai or Shibaroy means Lord Shiva.It is a northeast Indian equivalent of the south Indian usage of Shiva-roy. In Karavali and Kannada areas Lord Shiva was earlier also known as Shivaraya. There is Shevroy hills in Salem district of Tamilnadu.
It is well known that Lord Shiva is an anthropomorphic divinity in the form of a hunter, wearing a tiger/deer skin as loin cloth.Thus the origin of the Shiva cult clearly dates back to hunting stage of human civilization.
Lord Shiva has been variously described as Shabareswara or Kirateshwara etc implying the origin of the cult from hunting tribes.Originally the Shibarai (Shiba or Shiva) could have have been a leader of hunting tribes. Legends associated with him imply that he had ability to withstand poison (Vishakanta), tame serpents (Nagabharana) and wild life, knowledge of astronomy (crescent on head),ability to understand and utilize water resources(Ganga on the head). His exceptional qualities, talents and abilities made him a great leader who was worshipped subsequently by the communities. It is said in Puranas that Lord Shiva mastered the art of 'Yoga' first and then it is passed on to Lord Vishnu.
Kiranti people claim that Shibarai, the Shiva, hailed from their community.
The Indo- Aryan sages who composed Vedas (ca 1700-1000 BC) in northwestern India worshipped Indra Varuna Agni etc Gods who later attained the status of demigods in Indian Hindu culture.Subsequently these Indo-Aryans when migrated and settled in northern Indian Gangetic plains assimilated with pre-existing Indians and adopted their divinities and cults existing in the region. Thus Shiva and Vishnu ruled the religious spheres and Vedic Gods like Indra, Varuna, Agni etc were relegated to the staus of demigods.
Besides, Shibi is one of the male proper names used during the history. We hear legends of King Shibi.
Shibi Chakravarti
Shibi is a King in the line of Ikshwaku of Solar Dynasty (Surya Vamsha). He is the embodiment of kindness and generosity. He is kind and generous not only to his subjects but also to anybody who seeks his help when in need. His name spread far and wide as a man of benevolence and righteousness. Indra, the Lord of Heaven, and Agni, one of his Deputies, decided to test his dedication to duty (Dharma) and compassion by creating a predicament to Shibi. Indra took the form of an eagle, a bird of prey, and Agni as a dove, a prey. Being chased by the eagle, the dove took refuge in the lap of King Shibi while he was giving audience to his subjects. The dove begged for its protection. The request was readily granted. Thereupon, the eagle entered his Court, demanding him to give back its prey and raising the question of propriety of Shibi in sheltering the dove, which is a natural prey. The eagle threatened the King that he would be committing a sin by depriving its food when it was in the verge of dying by starvation. To come out of this intricate situation, i.e. clash of moral duty and promise, he decided to offer his own flesh to the eagle in equal weight of the dove. But the pan of the balance with dove would every time outweigh the pan of with King's flesh. Ultimately, Shibi offered his whole body whereupon the Gods Indra and Agni appeared in their real forms, restored his body and blessed him that his name would remain for ever as a King of Righteousness and unbounded Kindness. This story is told in Epics Ramayana and Mahabharata and also in Jataka stories of Buddhism.

Shibara-Shibari
Overall analysis as above leads us to conclude that Shibara or Shibari in place names such as Shibarur and Shibrikere possibly represent a tribal sect of hunters that pervaded parts of ancient India including the Karavali. Shibarai (or Shivaray) the original form of Lord Shiva could have originally been a leader turned divinity hailing from Shibar or Shibari tribe of hunters. The term Shiba in Shibarur also hints at the cultural connection between the Karavali Karnataka and the Bengal/Assam region in the antiquity.
Besides, the word ‘shibira’ ( =camp) as used in Kannada may have been derived from the forest camps of Shibara tribes.
Readers may send in their inputs and opinions on these and related place names.
-Ravi and Vish.
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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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