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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, September 3, 2011

286. Bari system predates Castes


The recognition and practice of human genetic lineages or the Lineage system (alternately known as Bari, Bali or Gotra system) among civilized ancient communities in India is distinctly older in origin and date than the caste system.

A reader has asked about the caste of Tulu people that migrated into southern Tamil country during early history corresponding with Sangam age.In my opinion, there were no modern castes (like Bunt, Billawa, Mogaveera) in Tulunadu at that time. In the early period the Tulu People were recognized by their bari lineages (matrilineal and patrilineal) and persons of the same bari could be seen practicing different professions like those of Bunt (warrior and defense assistant), Billawa (archer), Salian(weaver), Baidya (tribal doctor), Nadava (cultivator; one who plants crops), Okkeleme(farm worker; farm settler), Poojari(tribal preist), Maddela (washerman), Mogera (fish catcher), Kottari (Store-keeper), Kulala (potter) Sapalya(musician) etc without people being assigned to or divided into distinct caste/community  groups as known now.And those who did not subscribed this bari system of genetic lineage recognition, especially older generation of tribals, were recognized by various tribal group names.

Alupas of four lineages

The aspect of antiquity of existence of Baris over castes shall be more evident when we study the lineages of Alupa Kings who ruled early Tulunadu.  Data from early inscriptions reveal that Alupas belonged to four lineages which suggest that in the progress of time Alupas had offsprings from persons hailing from four different lineages; however the specific castes have not been attributed to Alupas in the inscriptions, because castes in Tulunadu did not exist at that point of time. Alupas also had matrimonial relationships with Kannada Kings like Kadamba, Chalukya and Rastrakutas.

Ancient Bari lineages in Tulunadu
In other words, to begin with there were no castes but only lineages in early India. And the distict division of people into dufferent castes developed later in the history.This is especially evident in Tulunadu which provides distinct evidences in favour of antiquity of the lineage system over the caste system.
The Gotra system prevailed among the Vedic sages-cowherds of ancient Indo-Aryan communities of Indian subcontinent appears to be as old as 1900 BC or older.It seems ‘bari’ or ‘bali’ linege types of genetic identification or recognition system similar to Gotra lineage system coupled with recognition of original place of domicile /settlement (‘Moolastana’) prevailed among Dravidian communities contemporaneous to early Vedic sages. Multan in Prakrit language means the Moolastana. Multan in present day Pakistan still carries the name of one of the earliest Dravidian settlements in Northwest Indian subcontinent and is useful in tracking the route of early Dravidian (including Tulu) immigrants into southern India.
Tulu Baris
Indira Hegde (2001) compiled a list of 61 Baris currently prevailing among Bunts and Nadavas. She has also enlisted some 55 Baris recorded in inscriptions and generally considered to extinct at present. Similarly there are some 20 known baris enlisted among Mogaveers. Mogaveeras have Amin, Bangera, Chandan, Gujaran, Kanchan, Karkera, Kotian, Kunder, Maindan, Mendon, Naika, Pangal, Puthran, Rao, Salian, Sapaliga, Shriyan, Suvarna, Thingalaya, and Tholar lineages. And Billawas and other Tulu communities also have numerous baris.Even Tulu Brahmins adopted a system of bari lineages.New Baris have evolved and were added throughout the history with passage of time.Similarly, many baris must have been lost during the long history of our communities due to various natural factors.

Baris before Caste system
However, on analysis we find that atleast five baris are common to most of the Tulu communities.This leads us to propose that such common baris have been in existence before the arrival of distict caste system in Tulunadu. We find that Bari lineages known as Banger (or Banga), Salia (or Salian), Putra (or Putran), Kundra (or Kundaran) and Gujar (or Gujaran) are common to many of the Tulu Castes at present. The presence of common bari lineages among diverse castes suggest prevalence of these baris before the consolidation of caste system in Tulunadu.It appears that there were  more such baris common to different castes but became partially or fully extinct. Among the common bari examples that became partially extinct in some Tulu communities, we may include Suvarna and Tingalaya baris. The Suvarna bari has been preserved among Mogaveers and Billawas. Tingalaya bari/surname is found retained among Mogaveers and Brahmins.Similarly, Menda/Mendon and Tolar bari lineages are shared among the present day Bunts and Mogaveers.
We shall discuss the five bari lineages generally found distributed in most of the communities/castes of Tulunadu.
Banga, Banger.
In an early post in this blog we considered that Bangera were the settlers in Bengare (Sand Spits) areas in the coast.This earlier interpretation of Bengare settlers may not be appropriate as we find ‘Bangera’ or ‘Banger’ (Banga+yer) in Tulu language is a respectful version of the Banga lineage, who ruled parts of Tulunadu as Jain Kings.


Banga tribes: Banga or Bangera appears to be one of the oldest lineages in Tulunadu. Ancient tribes known as ‘Banga’ still survive in parts of Nigeria in Africa. In India, the delta region of River Ganga is traditionally known as Banga or Vanga desha. (It is alternately known as Gowda or Gaur desh also). The regional place names Bangal (or Bengal) [Banga+al] means river-side settlements of the Banga tribes. Banga dance form is still popular in Kalingga region of Phillipines.Banga means earthen pot in Phillipines. It is possible that early Banga tribes were potters by profession. The association of terms ‘Banga’ and ‘Kalingga’ in Phillipines is interesting to note. In India, Banga (Bangal) region exists by the side of Kalinga (Orissa)!

According to some the term Banga is derived from Bong which was Sun God (Sing Bonga) worshipped by Munda tribes of Austro-Asiatic origin. Thus, the Banga tribes relate to either early African immigrants or subsequent Austro Asiatic immigrants into Gangetic delta. The tribes from Gangetic delta migrated to West coast probably before the advent of Dravidians forming the Banga or Bangera lineage.
There is also a Banga town in Punjab. Surnames Bangar (Bangad/Bangur) exists among Marwari/Marathi communities and proper names such as Bangari among Telugu (Bangarusamy, Bangaramma) people.
Bangalore: The origin of the place name of capital of Karnataka, Bengaluru is generally attributed to the phrase ‘benda kalu ooru’ (Village of boiled pulses). However, it could have been originally Bang+al+oor also, where the term 'Bangal' originally  referred to a settlement of ancient Banga tribes. (All the ancient Banga tribes need not necessarily be considered as Bengalis, as  erroneously interpreted by certain historians.) In support of the Banga+al theory cited here ('al'= water source like river, or a settlement besides a water course), geological data suggests that a tributary of Kaveri flowed in the western side of Bangalore during early history that dried up later.

Salia, Salian
Salia or Talia represents spider in Tulu language.One of the oldest known bari lineage, apparently derived from the ancient weavers of cloths or tribes having a totem of Spider. The Sāl tree [the silk cotton tree] also represents weaving of cloths and it was a holy tree traditionally worshipped by several early Munda tribes.Some historians opine that the ‘Saluva’ dynasty that ruled Vijayanagar Empire is related to Salia or Salian lineage. 

Putra, Putran
Exact origin of the surname Putra or Putran is not available at present.However two possibilities can be discussed.1. The word Puto or Putra in Prakrit generally represents a town For example the cpital of Magadha Empire was Pataliputra. Similarly King Ashoka mentioned ‘Satiaputo’ which is considered to represent (possibly a part of) Tulunadu. Therefore we can consider that Putran means a person from the ‘Putra’ possibly ancient city of Pataliputra.2. Putra in Sanskrit and many of the Indian languages mean son. Since relevance to this meaning of the word can only guessed we can wait for additional data on the origin of this surname.The lineage is also known as Putrannaya. There are Putra surnames in Indonesia and also in Saudi Arabia.

Kundra, Kundaran
Budhi Kundaran an Indian international cricketer of yester years hailing from Mogaveera community of Udupi, was one of the first among coastal Tuluvas in the recent years to popularize the surname of Kundars. Similarly, recent Hindi Film industry in Mumbai (Bollywood) has a celebrity known as Shirish Kundar. Shirish Kunder, who is an Electronic Engineer from SDM College of Engineering & Technology, Dharwad,   became a celebrity in Bollyhood as an Editor and Director of Hindi Films.  He has married Farah Khan, a famous Choreographer and Director of Hindi Films. In the recent years popular Bollywood heroine Shilpa Shetty, originally from Mangalore has popularized the Kundar surname in Tulunadu after her marriage with Raj Kundra of north Indian origin.


While the exact origin of the name Kundar is not available at present, it can be traced to ancient Kunda tribes of African heritage. However we find that early Jains and Buddhist literatures carry the term Kunda. Originally the Kundars in ancient India could have been a tribe specialized in the skill of gold smelting since the term ‘kunda’ generally refers to (1) gold and (2) melt. A popular sweet dish in Belgaum produced from the desiccated milk and sugar is known as ‘kunda’. In common Tulu parlance ‘kunda’ means a pillar.

Kundar: A lineage (‘bari’) based surname among Bunts and Mogaveers, originally derived from an ancient immigrant Kundra or Kundar ancestor from northern India. Kundarannaya   means a person born in the Kundaran lineage.

There are numerous place names having a prefix or suffix of Kunda all over India.For example, Kundapur, Kundagola, Navalgunda, Nargunda etc. It is possible that the kunda in such ancient place names refer to ancient victory pillars (totem poles) erected in those villages.


Gujar, Gujaran
Gujar or Gujaran is a surviving surname that provides solid support to the theory of amalgamation of immigrant tribes among Tulu and other communities in the antiquity. It is said that Gujars originated in Georgia, in southern Russia ( Georgia is  also known as Gurjiya in Persian) and migrated to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India during the early centuries of Common Era.Descendants of ancient Gujar migrants are found in the States of Kashmir, Punjab, Rajastan  and Gujarat. Incidentally, the State of ‘Gujarat’ derives its name from Gujar tribes.
A famous hero of Tulunadu, Agoli Manjanna was from the Gujaran lineage of Bunts.
Gujaran: A lineage (‘bari’) based surname among Bunts and Mogaveers, originally derived from an ancient immigrant Gujar ancestor. Gujarannaya means a person from the Gujaran lineage.
Gujje: A species of Jack fruit apparently introduced originally by Gujar tribes. Presently the term is applied to any variety of unripe or raw jack fruit.
Gujjadi: A place named after Gujj or Gujar tribes in Udupi district.
Gujjarabettu:  An elevated dryland (plateau) named after Gujar tribes near Kemmannu village in coastal Udupi Taluk.
Gujjarkere An ancient pond, presently dried up named after Gujar tribes in Jappina mogaru locality, southern part of Mangalore.



Suvarna
The Suvarna bari has been preserved among the present day Billawa and Mogaveer communities.The origin of Suvarna bari name can be interpreted based on data existing on the words like Suvarna and Suvarnbhumi. The term ‘Suvarna’ means (1) good colour and (2) gold. Sanskrit and Buddhist texts referred to Burma, Indonesia, Java, Sumatra countries as Suvarnabhumi. It appears that the term ‘Suvarna bhumi’ referred to people of golden (yellowish) skin colour rather than golden land. This leads us to infer that originally the ancient ‘Suvarna’ people of Austro-Asiatic heritage came to Tulunadu from Suvarnabhumi countries.It can also be recalled that a coastal river flowing in Udupi district is also called ‘Suvarna’ or ‘Swarna’ River.


***
End piece Trivia:


It is obvious that Words sounding similar can have divergent meanings. Bangar as well as Suvarna in Tulu and Kannada  means gold.
Prajwal pointed out that 'Bangar' in Marathi/Mumbai Hindi as well as 'Gujari' in Tulu/Kannada refers to scraps! 

-With inputs from H. Vishwanath.
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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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