The Kasaragodu district, encircling a city of the same name, formerly a part of the historical Tulunadu, is located to the south of city Mangaluru and is part of Kerala state in the current political scenario.
The place name Kasaragodu (pronunciation: Kāsaragöḍu) [even though appears like kasara and godu], in essence consists of two words : Kāsaraka and öḍu. The Kāsaraka (Tulu: Kāyer mara, Kāveri mara) refers to a wild tree, common in coastal rural settings and familiar to botanists as: Strynchnos nuxvomica. The tree has historical significance as some of the ancient royal families of Tulunadu held it as a power symbol of regality, as it was a common practice in the antiquity. The tree is known in other languages as: Kuchila (Hindi), Kanjaram or Yetti (Tamil), or Snakewood or Poison nut tree ( English).
The suffix göḍu in Kannada is an alternate variant of köḍu, which generally means in Kannada, (a) horn (of a animal) or (b) horn –like peak of a hill. However, in Kasaragodu or any of the other kodu/ godu villages you do not find any steep hill peaks.
Thus, there is strong possibility that in this case the apparent word the köḍu ( or the göḍu) is a homonym having a several meanings. Besides, the analogous village names ending with similar kod’/ god’ (or even ghod) spatial suffixes and their related variants in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh,Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and other States of India also.
Gujarat and Maharashtra share many village names analogous to those found in coastal Karnataka. That is to imply that people of coastal Karnataka have shared certain strings of common linguistic affinities in the antiquity, besides socio-cultural ties with ancestral Gujarat and other adjacent regions in northern India.
The genetic connections are also apparent as Gujjaran (Gujjarannaya) bari lineage found in Tulu communities, is considered to have been derived from the immigrated Gujjar people. The Gujjar ancestors are considered as a sub-tribe of Huns. Incidentally, historical imprints of Puns (Pun< Hun) can also be recognized in the place names of ancient Tulunadu, as we have discussed in some of our older Posts herein.
köḍu- göḍu relationship
Similar to Kāsaragöḍu, there is a place known as Kāsaraköḍu near Honnavar, Uttara Kannada district. There are two possible ways of understanding köḍu - göḍu relationships:
1. In Kannada grammar, while two words join together (for example, as in Kāsara + köḍu), the consonant ka at the beginning of the second word, is replaced by ga, (as transition of ka>ga). Thus, Kāsara + köḍu becomes Kāsaragöḍu on unification of the two words. Hence, the two place names Kasaraköḍu and Kāsaragöḍu can be considered as mutually alternate forms of the same word, or in other words: köḍu=göḍu.
2. In ancient Dravidian languages endowed with script, like Tamil, there is no distinction between consonant pairs, like ka and ga. A single alphabet/consonant for ka would represent ga also, since there is no separate alphabet for ga. This kind of situation has come into existence probably because among the consonant pairs ka evolved chronologically earlier than ga.
Other goḍu places
Besides, Kāsaragöḍu, there are several other villages having the suffix tag of göḍu in their names, such as:
Balugodu, Sullia Taluk, Dakshina Kannada district,Karnataka
Basgod(u), Uttara Kannada district, Karnataka
Bisgod(u), Uttara Kannada district, Karnataka
Magodu, Uttara Kannada district, Karnataka
The place names ending with -köḍu or göḍu forms are almost exclusive to Kannada language areas hence the öḍu suffix format possibly could have evolved in Kannada speaking areas. However, the related –köḍ’ and –göḍ’ suffixes along with their variants -köḍ, -köḍa, -köḍe, -köḍi or göḍ, göḍa, göḍe and göḍi etc are distributed widely in India, suggesting that it could have been derived from an older language that once upon a time pervaded all over the country.
Other variants of goḍu: köḍi, köḍe and göḍi
There are some more apparent word variants of köḍu / göḍu toponym suffixes distributed in and outside Karnataka. The presence of such place names outside Karnataka also suggests that this basic toponym köḍu/ göḍu may not an exclusive word of Kannada origin.
Suffixes: -köḍ’, -göḍ’, -köḍi, -göḍi, -köḍe, -göḍe
(a) In Karnataka (sample list):
Adugoḍi, Bengaluru district, Karnataka
Koikoḍe, Mangaluru Taluk, Dakshina kannada, Karnataka
Tākoḍe, near Mudabidri, Dakshina kannada, Karnataka
Tākoḍe, near Mudabidri, Dakshina kannada, Karnataka
Raikoḍ, …., Karnataka
Jamgod, (a hamlet near Ankola) Uttar Kannada district, Karnataka
(b) Outside Karnataka (sample list):
Bagoḍ(a): Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan.
Digoḍ(a): Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan.
Gagoḍe : Maharashtra
Jamgoḍ/ Jamghod, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh
Jamguḍa, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa
Mangoḍ(u), Madhya Pradesh, Tamilnadu
Nagoḍ(a), Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh
Ogoḍe, Andhra Pradesh
Raikoḍe, Andhra Pradesh
Sagoḍ, Madhya Pradesh
Sagoḍa, Madhya Pradesh
Sagoḍee, Uttar Pradesh
Sagoḍi, Madhya Pradesh
Velgoḍe, Andhra Pradesh
There are also stand alone toponyms like Koḍ, Koḍa,Koḍe, Goḍe etc distributed in various States of India:
Koḍ: Bihar, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan.
Koḍa: Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan.
Additional variants: -kuḍe and -guḍemAnother variant of the suffix -koḍe is kuḍe. The kuḍe and its transformed equivalent guḍe have a meaning of cavity in Tulu language. A large number of places ending with suffix –guḍem exist in Andhra Pradesh.
Tulu, Kannada and other resources
The word köḍu in Tulu and Kannada generally means (a) a pod, a plant part or (b) horn of animals like cow, bull, deer etc. This connotation does not appear suitable for application in place names. However, by extension, the word köḍu can be extended to geographic units with peaks of hills or vertically projecting rock outcrops. However, this application also appears untenable as most of these places (especially the Kasarkodu/Kasaragodu places we began with) do not have such peaks of hills or rocky inselbergs.
One of the apparent variants of koḍi usually means corner or end point in Tulu and Kannada. Usually such koḍi place names are associated with estuary/ river mouth endpoints. Such koḍi toponyms can be considered separately and not as part of kodu-godu group of place names.
Therefore, to understand the original meaning of the place names of koḍu-goḍu group, we may have to look into other languages and types of words that prevailed in this land in the antiquity.
The wide distribution of these toponymic words suggest that the roots of these kod(u) - goḍ (u), toponym suffixes and their alternate variants could originally be from older languages like Prakrit and Austro-Asiatic/Munda that once pervaded through various regions of India.
Short morpheme like prefixes
Note that some of these ancient place names have, rather strange sounding, morpheme- like, short prefix words such as: Aa- in Akoda, Ba- in Bakoda, Da- in Dakode, Ga- in Gagode, Ir- in Irkode, Le- in Lekoda, Ma- in Magodu , Na- in Nagod(a), O- in Ogode, or Sa- in Sagod or Ta- in Tākode.
Available data on such ancient short words appears to be limited. The ancient Austro-Asiatic languages are reported to have such short words. (Tunga, ). Since, there were quite extensive inter tribal communication and exchange of words among Austro-Asiatic Munda, Tibeto-Burman, Prakrit and Dravidian speaking tribes in the antiquity, we can presume that short primitive words prevailed in all these ancient languages.
Sudhamsu Sekhara Tunga (1995 ), for example, provides some insight into the short words that exist in the place names of North-Eastern India. The short word ḍi in Bodo place names (as in Dimapur) relates to river, whereas the equivalent word for river in Austro-Asiatic Ahom language is ti. We find toponymic suffixes like: -ḍa, -ḍu and -ṭa represent habitation indicators, possibly located by the side of water bodies, in numerous place names. (It is similar to suffix -ala)
Similar, short words also prevailed in Dravidian languages. For example, Tamil word kovil is made up of kov+ il (= a shrine; an abode dedicated to God) where ko(v) represents supernatural or God and ill’ means abode or house.
(1).Thus, köḍu or kö+ḍu would possibly mean a place dedicated to a supernatural force. As ka>ga transitions suggest, we can consider göḍu as modified form of köḍu.
Probably the original ancient word form was: koḍ’ or koḍe (or its transformed equivalent goḍ’ or goḍe), which we find extensively in ancient place names such as Bagod, Irkode, Jamgod, Kakode, Legod, Magod, Sagod, Takode etc.
(2). The koḍa also represents a earthen pot, (equivalent of mūri or kalasha,) which was used in auspicious and obituary related ceremonies. It was an ancient practice to preserve the dead remains of people in the koḍa earthen pots. Even after adopting the custom burning of dead bodies, the Hindus have retained usage of a ceremonial water filled earthen pot (koḍa), with a hole, during the cremation of dead bodies.
Besides, the koḍa or koḍapāna (especially in Tulu and Kannada) was also used to carry water from the river to the house. The short root word cu, cua or co preserved in Tibeto-Burman languages means water.(Tunga,1995 ).
(3). That the word koḍe or koḍa was connected with burial ceremonies is also attested by existence of the term Kodekal in place names. The Kodekal refers to megalithic stone burial structures.
Evolution of word koda
Evolution of word koda
Thus, in conclusion, on overall analysis of the available data, it appears that habitations and villages located near ancient burial structures were used to be named as koda/kode/kodu or gode/godu villages.
Words are essential heritage elements that have been passed on along the human evolutionary chronology, among different cultures, and adopted by different languages somewhat like valuable coins. Existence of similar sounding words among diverse regions, located geographically far apart now, say like in India, Japan and Europe, owe their existence among primitive cultures that have been dissipated and have planted the heritage words in places they settled in the due course of history in diverse regions.
The koḍa family group of words, that encompasses kuḍe,koḍe,koḍa,kḍd, kḍdu and their k>g transformed g - equivalents (guḍe, goḍe,goḍa, goḍ, goḍu etc) appears to have been survived and evolved over along a prolonged period of time, considering their existence in several languages, cultures, time and space zones.
In the cited word family, the word ‘kuḍe’ (> guḍe), which refers to cave or cavity, may one of the earliest one. Further, ‘koḍa’ was attributed to earthen pot with a cavity inside to hold water or any other material. There are numerous words, apart from koḍa, to represent the earthen pot like muri, kaḍya, kalasha etc which probably came from tribal diverse cultures. The water bearing pot was auspicious at that time and it was used for ceremonies to symbolically represent the divinity or the supernatural force.
The ancient tribes also held that dead people continue to exist in the form of supernatural forces, in the form of spirits divine or malignant depending on the service rendered by the living ones. During the course of such beliefs the practice of preserving the remains of the dead evolved and some cultures the dead remains were preserved in earthen pots or the koḍa or koḍe. The word kode appears to one of the early words in this word family, as it is associated with short ancient words which we discussed above in brief. The megalithic burial structures, dolmens, made of stone slabs, and known as koḍe-kal (For example, Panḍavara kallu) also conform to this viewpoint. The place names Koḍekal (and its evolved or deformed variants) represent places of megalithic burial structures.
Sudhamsu Sekhara Tunga (1995 ) Bengali and other related dialects of South Assam. Mittal Publications. Also in Google books