Friday, July 6, 2018

406. Ancient lake names: ‘Sandra'/‘Samudra’ (Kannada) and 'See' (German)

 What is common between the English word ‘sea’ and Indian word ‘samudra’ or 'sandra' (Kannada), apart from both represent a large body of saline or marine water? In case you are not aware, both of these words have another shade of meaning: a  fresh water body, a lake or pond especially in land locked regions. Similarly, the German word ‘see’ (related to English word 'sea' in origin) also means a  lake or pond, a land locked fresh water body. We shall discuss implications of these ancient analogous words in spatially remote langauges for lakes located in diverse land locked regions of the world.

The ancient declaration “Vasudaiva kutumbakam” (= the world is one family) clearly connotes that our ancestors were in socio-cultural contact with diverse people from different regions of the world. In other words, people of different region were involved in journeys from their native lands to other regions, apparently for the sheer thrill of exploration or various other reasons including search for better havens, besides basic amenities of food, water, environment, shelter and security. The tribal journeys are described as ‘migrations’ in scientific literature.

Our previous post on the words: Bāhn, bāhana and banḍi (Post No. 405) – [bāhn- German; bāhana-Bengali and banḍi-Dravida] - only documents one of the ways the words have travelled to diverse regions along with ancient people in olden days, acquiring in the process, slight modifications subject to ambient socio-cultural and linguistic environments.

 There is another pattern of dispersion of word based analogous concepts among the ancient people living in diverse regions of the world. We can illustrate this concept, using the meaning and scope of a common word like Sea/Samudra in European and Dravidian languages.
Landlocked fresh water bodies connected to Zurichsee, Switzerland

Scope of meaning of the words: Sea and Samudra
The English word ‘sea’ in general represents a considerably large body of saline water. Similarly the Indian word ‘samudra’ also means the same. In coastal Karnataka, Tulu/Kannada areas, samudra exclusively means the sea like the nearby Arabian sea.
Arabian Sea near St Marys island, off Malpe Udupi coast, Karnataka, India.

However, the English word ‘sea’ also has a meaning of a large body of water like lake or pond. Even though this usage is not prevalent in coastal regions, in mainland Karnataka we can find numerous lakes and ponds designated as ‘samudra’ (or simplified to sandra). Examples like Singa Sandra, Vitta Sandra, Channasandra, Banasandra, Bommasandra, Dwarasamudra etc illustrate this point. (One exceptional usage in coastal region can be found in the name of Rāma-samudra lake at Karkala town, probably named by migrants from Karnataka mainland during the past history.
Strangely enough, the application of the equivalent word representing sea or samudra to lakes is also existing quite commonly in regions of Central Europe. The German equivalent word for sea is ‘see’. In Switzerland we can find numerous lakes called 'see' in German language, like  Zurichsee, Lake Lucerne (Vierwaldstättersee in German language),  Bodensee, Untersee, Zugersee, Rotsee  etc.

Migration of the lingual/word concepts
Unlike in the case of words Bāhn, bāhana and banḍi (discussed in previous post here), in this case, we can find the original scope and meaning of the word representing the sea or samudra has been transferred over distant lands in the past history. Since the meaning of lake for the word sea is also found in old English, it probably means that in olden days these  equivalent synonymous words in different languages (such as: sea, see, samudra etc) were used in different parts of the world, for describing smaller stretches of  fresh water bodies like lakes or ponds, especially in land locked regions, in the past. The similar lingual word connotations, for the land locked fresh water bodies, as in this case, were appear to have been carried to different regions by the ancient people migrating from one region to another.

There could be equivalent words, synonymous with sea, see or samudra in other languages for representing lakes. If you are aware of such words you may kindly share with us in this blog.

**   **
 Another related word 'Sagara' is equivalent of the English word ocean. In the modern times, however, the term is also being applied to reservoirs connected with major dams and irrigation projects. For example the Kannambadi reservoir ( KRS near Mysore), is named as Krishnaraja-Sagara. Similarly, we have Nagarjuna-Sagara and Hussain Sagar (Hyderabad) in Telangana/Andhra Pradesh. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

405. Bahn, bāhana and banḍi

 Haupt Bahnhof (Main Railway Station), entrance,Zurich, Switzerland

Linguists have recognized a number of common words in the apparently diverse language members of the Indo-European language families. These are considered to have been derived from common proto Indo-European root words. The Indo-European language family consists hundreds of languages of which about 445 languages are existing at present.
A few examples for the common root words recognized in the Indo-European languages:
1. Father (English): pitar (Sanskrit)/ pater (Ancient Greek), pater (Latin), fader(Gothic), pitar (Iranian). etc
2. Mother (English): mater (Sanskrit), mater (Latin), meter (Ancient Greek), matar (Iranian), mati/ matir (Slavic).etc
The concept of common derived words in different languages that can be grouped as a family is apparently attributed to Sir William Jones. In an address to the Asiatic Society in the year 1786, Sir William Jones, expressed that:
"The Sanscrit language, whatever be its antiquity, is of a wonderful structure, more perfect than the Greek, more copious than the Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either, yet bearing to both of them a stronger affinity, both in the roots of verbs and the forms of grammar, than could possibly have been produced by accident; so strong indeed, that no philologer could examine them all three, without believing them to have sprung from some common source, which, perhaps, no longer exists. There is a similar reason, though not quite so forcible, for supposing that both the Gothick and the Celtick, though blended with a very different idiom, had the same origin with the Sanscrit, and the old Persian might be added to this family, if this were the place for discussing any question concerning the antiquities of Persia."
(Sir William Jones, "The Third Anniversary Discourse, on the Hindus," Feb. 2, 1786)

Bāhn, bāhana and vāhan
In this post, we shall pursue a common German word bahn and trace its  direct or indirect relatives recognizable in the Indian languages.
Bahnhof  is a commonly used German word, referring to the contemporary railway stations in central Europe. In Germany, Austria  and Switzerland you shall find bahnhofs that facilitate people to travel around comfortably to appointed destinations. The word “bāhn” in the term bahnhof represents a train ( or simply, a vehicle).The German-austrian subway system introduced in 1938 is known as U-bahn (Untergrund bahn) or underground railway.

The nearest relative of the word bāhn in Indian languages appears to the bāhana in Bengali. The bāhana in Bengali means a vehicle. In our Puranic mythology, Indian Gods employ designated animal vehicles: Thus, bull (Nandi) is the vehicle of Lord Shiva. Similarly, lion or tiger is associated with mother goddess Durga,  swan with Saraswathi, eagle (Garuda) with Vishnu, peacock with Shanmukha, rat with Ganesha , crow with Shani and so on. There is a view that most of these  mythology were introduced after 1000 BC. In that case, we can estimate that the term bāhana is not less than about 1000 BC old.
In the study of the tribal cultures, we find tribes divided into various groups, were identified by a specific type of totems. Most of these totems were animal motifs, adapted by the tribes from the surrounding setting of the wilderness.
However, the term was refined to vāhana in Sanskrit, with b>v phonetic transition. The word vāhana has also been adapted  as such in languages like Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam etc. The closer phonetic affinity of the word bāhana with bāhn probably suggests that bāhana  was  the earlier Indian word variant in the relative time-space setting of the evolution of words.  Thus, the word vāhana, appears to be a further refined version of the word, bāhana.

Bāhini- vāhini
The German word bahn though now represents mostly the railway, train or tram, it has other allied shades of meanings such as route, trail, lane or orbit.(Wiktionary). Similar shades of meaning can also be found in the Indian cognates of the word.

The feminine version of the bāhana is bāhini or its equivalent vāhini, represents  something that moves or represents  flow,  stream ,  channel or river, army, procession or in modern times even a television channel.

Surprisingly, the root word bahn has a cousin in Dravidian languages, in the form of word banḍi (wherein, thepronounced as in English word dog). The original derivation of the word banḍi could have been phonetically: bahn+ḍi.  The word banḍi means a cart, a carriage or a vehicle and it does not represents any biological or animal vehicle. Note that suffix ḍi represents spatial or an inanimate entity in Dravidian and allied words, as discussed in our older posts.
However, in the Dravidian languages there are two different words phonetically sounding similar as banḍi:
1. banḍi= stomach, belly
2. banḍi2= vehicle, cart.

Apparently these two diverse meaning Dravidian words have been drawn or adapted  from two different lingual sources, considering the sharp distinction in their implications.

The Dravidian word,  banḍi1  has been modified into  variants in member languages: In Tulu, it is banji. In Tamil and Malayalam, it is panti or  pantam; in Pengo and Manḍa it is panj; in Kui it is panja or panji; in Kuwi it is banḍi and so on ( Dravida Etymological Dictionary).

Tulu, Kannada, Telugu, Kolami etc languages have retained the word banḍi2  for cart or vehicle, as such. Tamil (pandi, vandi) Malayalam (vanti) and other languages have slightly modified equivalents according to their native lingual characters.
From banḍi (the cart), banḍa (the material carted, the goods) has been derived. In Tulu and Kannada, the word banḍasāle, represented   the traditional store or the   storage for the merchandise.

The banḍi2 appears to be known in India since bronze age, as carts have been found associated with buried dead bodies in several ancient burial sites in India. In Tulu culture, during their annual festivities, there is the tradition of the Spirit deities  being carried in procession in  decorated carts (known as banḍi2 utsava or cart festival). The banḍi2 utsavas  later, appears to have been evolved into annual ratha utsavas’  (car or chariot festival) of Hindu Gods Goddesses.
The word banḍa  in turn has a distant cousin in Indo-European languages namely the bundle.


Sunday, May 27, 2018

404.‘Dara’ in Kundara, Kandara, Dadara, etc – A review

A word can have many meanings as seen in almost all languages of the world. Does our style of understanding is just on the word meanings?
  Yes, it is true as our thoughts are translated into words with specific and mystic meanings.  Expressive words also give description of things clearly.     As seen in comparative etymological dictionaries, some words have the same phonetic sound and meaning, barring some corruption in spellings or pronunciation.  We have given examples of such words in some of our earlier Posts.    Here is a term ‘dara’ (where ‘a’ is a short vowel, as in word ‘Kannada’ = ಕನ್ನಡ), which has been attracting my attention for long. This term ‘dara’ is used as a prefix or suffix in describing a land or place near water bodies.

Mattu Kundara
Mattu Kundara (ಮಟ್ಟು ಕುಂದರ) is a hamlet in Katapadi.  It is on South-West part of Katapadi-Mattu feeder road to sea coast from Highway before traversing the bridge on Pangala Rivulet (which joins the Udyavara River at Mattu.  On the other side of the road is Kote-Katapadi, skirted by ingress of the Udyavara River.  Kundara is akin to ‘Kandara’ (ಕಂದರ), Kandaka (ಕಂದಕ). We firmly believe that it has no connection to Kunda Kunda, a famous Jain Muni, who was meditating at Kundaraadri, a mountain of Sahyadri range around Shimoga. He was famous as a writer on and preacher of Jainism in (erstwhile) Dakshina Kannada.
What is surprising is the ramification of place-name Kundara in coastal belt.  There is a town ‘Kundara’, located on the shores of Kanjiracode Lake, a branch of Astamandi Lake in Kerala.  This is a part of Kollam Metropolitan Area.
‘Kundara’ is a surname in most of the castes and sub-castes of Tulu Nadu.   Does the origin of this surname have any bearing on Kundara, a word describing landscape of an area?  We think so. In the first instance, Kundara/Kundaran must have been used as a surname among fish-mongers to mean ‘a man from Kundara geographical features’. 

Meaning of dara
Action word (verb) is dari (ದರಿ) in Tulu. It means ‘burst, break or spring open’.   Derivatives of ‘dari’ are ‘dara’ and ‘dare’ (ದರೆ = an earthen parapet or compound wall, embankment or earth/land). It was dealt with in our Post-162 of 29th November 2008 in a passing manner.
 Dara has many shades of meaning; some of them are listed below:
1.       A breach or mouth when a river joins sea, as in Bandara (port, harbour), Dadara, Bhayandara, etc.
2.       A hole in the ground, creating ponds and lakes, as in kandara (ಕಂದರ) or kandaka (ಕಂದಕ), meaning a moat, valley, neck, and cave. Mark the word ‘dariya’, in many languages, meaning sea or river (Eg. Dariya Daulat, a palace of Tippu Sultan on the bank of River Kaveri at Shrirangapattana, Dariya Gad in one of the islands in sea at Malpe (Udupi).  
3.       A furrow, trench in the earth made by a spade or picks axe, esp. for growing vegetables.
4.       A dragging sound ‘dara dara’.
5.       Price or rate.
Prakrit was a vibrant language widely spoken and it has influenced many languages.  We think ‘Dara’ has its origin in Prakrit.
{Ref: Tulu Lexicon, p. 1563-64 (TL) and Dravidian Etymological Dictionary (DED)}
Kundara:  It is clear that the place name is made of two words: Kun + dara.  ‘’Kun’ means a bow, stoop, to bend, curve, bent or curved ground, curvature (N), semi-circle, crook-backed, hunchback (goonu), hump, a hollow place where water accumulates.  The meaning of ‘dara’ is explained above. So we deduce that it could be a curvaceous bank of a river with rippling sound during web and wane.
Note the topography of Kaipunjal-Pangala.  The entire stretch right from Kaipunjal (Hamlet of Uliyaragoli) to Mattu is full of ponds or lake-like water bodies.  Some of the water-bodies are being filled up as a sign of development on west-side of Pangala River Bridge on the National Highway No.66.  Would the (gradual) unplanned development augur well to natural environment?  It is a matter of conjecture and clash of interests (Read our Posts on Uliyaragoli to Malpe).

Kandara/Kandaka: It means a precipitous slope, valley, neck, cave, etc. ‘Kan’ or ‘Kani/kuni’ has the meaning of hole, valley, etc.  (Note: As an afterthought, we can apply one of the meanings of ‘Kana’ to ‘Kana’ in Kanakode in our last Post-403/19.03.2018).  When an area is dug, naturally there is presence of water. So ‘dara (= dra)’ here means ‘water’ (as in Dravida). 
Kandarapada is one of the ten hamlets of Dahisar and hence the nomenclature ‘Dahisar’.  In Dahisar (Northen limit of Greater Mumbai Municipal Corporation), there is a rivulet/river Dahisar - now a relict of a river, which is hidden from view because of a bridge.  Thanks for the development!  It joins the Arabian Sea at Kandarapada {Dahisar (ದಹಿಸರ್) West}. It is a part of Manori Creek.
We have also noticed many Villages by name Kandara. To name a few, Kandaragi (Karnataka), Kundarakottai at Cuddalore district (TN), Kandarasingha at Denkanal (Odisha), and Kandara in Kenya (Africa).      
Kandaka has the meaning of trough, dike, ditch, moat, pitfall, trench and so on. There is a Village Kandaka at Narasimharajapura in Chikamagalur.

Dadar was a part of Dadar-Mahim (Mahimapura), which is one of the seven islands.  These islands were joined during Portuguese-British colonial time.  In Marathi, Dadar stands for ladder as it was an important doorway, opening or connection between main Mumbai Island and surrounding islands before joining of seven islands.
It is where Ulhas River (Main Branch) debauchs into Arabian Sea.  It was a doorway to Kalyan, which was a famous port for marine trade in olden days.  Ulhas River first branched off at Kalwa before storming into Thane Creek.
Darawade (ದರವಡೆ)
It is a village near Rajgurunagar, Khed Taluk of Pune District of Maharashtra.  It might have been named as such because of Bhima River flowing nearby. 
Darbe is a hamlet near Puttur in Dakshina Kannada.
Summing up
Place names have meanings and not definitions, as said in our earlier Posts on Onomasticon. We have made an attempt to unpack the mystery on place names with ‘dara’ element.
-Hosabettu Vishwanath, Pune

Monday, March 19, 2018

403. Kanagod(a) & Mangod, along Udyavara river

Deciphering place names is a daunting job.  Naming of a village takes place on occupying an area.  Such settlement is named after geographical features, original occupiers from distinct group/tribes, occupations, conquerors, natural surroundings, etc.  The queerest part is that such names are coined mostly by outsiders. Barring mythological legends, reliable records are rarely found.  This is the case with Kanagod, Kanagoda, or Kanagode and Mangod – fishing villages on the bank of Udyavara River.  In the past, the Udyavara River used to debauch into Arabian Sea in Udyavara itself and not Malpe, as we see today (Read our old Posts on Kaipunjal, Uliyaragoli to Malpe, Pithrodi and Magic of Malpe).
While at my daughter’s house, the invitation from Shri Pandharinath Bhajana Mandir (Regd), Kanakoda, Udyavara Padukare, Post Mattu (Udupi District) has rekindled our interest on place name decipherment. This is the 80th auspicious yearly (Brahma Kalashotsava) ceremony (from 18th March to 31st March, 2018).     Kanakoda is a coastal hamlet of Udyavara, across Udyavara River.  The village hamlet is one of the constituents of federation of seven fishing villages (Elur Mogaveera Pattana Sangha) along the river. The other six villages are:  Udyavara (with hamlet Pithrodi – see our Post-178 of 14th March 2009), Bolje, Yenade, Kote Mattu (Katapadi), Kuthipadi, and Kadekar (ಕಡೆಕಾರ್).  

Location of Sand-barrier villages
 Our earlier Posts contain maps.  Riverine topography right from coastal Mattu  Koppala village, which is western part of Mattu Kote, which is on eastern bank of Pangal rivulet  (along Kaipunjal and Pangal stream/rivulets, which join Udyavara River – both Mattu Koppala and Kote villages are part of Katapadi) to Malpe Padukare.  The villages along Sand barriers are:  Mattu Koppala >Kanakodi Padukare(on western Bank of Udyavara River from across Pithrodi-Udyavara) > Kuth(i)padi Padukare > Kadekar Padukare > Malpe Padukare (across Kidiyoor and Kalmadi villages).   Mangodu is a hamlet of Kuth(i)padi on East Bank of Udyavara river.  Readers would get a glimpse of this from Google Maps.

Kanakoda or Kanakode can be dissected as:
Kana + Koda  or Kanak + Oda or Ode.  Koda or Kode is comparable to ‘Kodi’.  Kod/Kodi is narrow and pointed stretch of sand barriers between river and sea, which is a common phenomenon near estuaries of rivers.  Note the confluence of rivers of Netravathi & Phalguni at Ullal-Kudroli-Bengre, Shambhavi & Nandini at Hejamadikodi & Kadike-Sasihitlu, Sita & Swarna at Hangarakatte-Kodi Bengare or Kadike (Tottam), etc. These walls {Kuda (ಕುಡ) = gode (ಗೋಡೆ)} are in the shape of kodu, meaning horn.  Remember Malampu/Malampe (Modern Malpe) was known as Kudaar in ancient time.

Alternative 1 – Landscaped:
Meaning of ‘Kana’ or ‘Kanak’ is not easy to decipher.  We may deduce it as ‘particle’, say sand particles of sand barriers.  So Kanakode is derived from sand barriers, the geographically natural shape.

Alt.2 – Sacred Grove/Forest:
If we take ‘kana’ (ಕನ) as ‘Kaana (ಕಾನ = Garden, Grove or Wooded land), it could be presumed that the village has taken its name from ‘preserved and protected grove/forest’.

Alt. 3 – an Ethnonym:
Kanakod-a/i/e can be split as Kanak+Oda/Odi/Ode.  What is ‘Kanak’?  Does it mean ‘Gold’? Oda/Odi/Ode means ‘raised/elevated land/habitation/settlement. 
Coastal belt is beseted with many place names with Kan, Kanak and Kanka. It is not an eponym.  Could it be an ethnonym, derived from ‘Kan’ people? There are many place names, such as Kanangi, Kannarpadi, Kannangar, Kankanadi and likewise. It is said that Kannada is originated from ‘Kan (= eye)’ tribes, known as Kaniars (= Seers or Sooth-sayers). Kannada is one of the Dravidian languages branched off from Proto-Dravidian language.  Tulu, one of the Pancha Dravida Languages, is more near to Old Kannada and Tamil.

Alt.4 – A Ferry Point
It may sound an absurd exposition. Tulu: Kanak = Dead-wood + Oda = Boat.  It means a boat of deadwoods, i.e. a teppa (ತೆಪ್ಪ), English: Raft.   Wooden rafts were used in earlier days for ferrying in rivers. Ferry boats from Udyavara to Kanakoda are now discontinued.

Alt.5 – A Golden Land:
The place name Kankavli in Sindhudurg (one of the Konkan Districts) is dissected as Kanak + avli (= Gold+land, i.e Golden land).  We feel that this explanation is given by Sanskrit-loving people and that it does not reveal the correct meaning of the olden place, inhabited by several migratory people of different tongues from benighted ages.

Bridge for rapid movement:
Malpe-Padukare Villages, in narrow coastal belt, are now connected by a bridge near Kalmadi.  So the coastal motorable road journey from Kaup-Malpe to Udupi is now easy and it has reduced the distance and time. Earlier, residents from Padukare were taking ferry service route on Udyavara River to reach Malpe and from thence to Udupi.  By road residents were reaching Udupi through circuitous coastal feeder road that goes through Mattu and Katapadi.

It is a hamlet in Kuthipadi, famous for Subramanya Temple and Vasuki Nagabana.  Mangodu is made of two elements:  Man + Kodu (on joining of the parts, ‘k’ changes to ‘g’).  ‘Man’ means raised soil, say a mound, ‘Kod’ means ‘a pointed stretch or side like a horn’, as explained above.
Mangodu can also be analysed as Mang+odu.  Mang is supposed to be a tribe migrated from Africa. Odu means settlement or habitation.  So, place name is originated from settlement of Mang people.
Mangodu falls on the eastern bank of River Udyavara in Kuth(i)padi between Pithrodi and Kadekar. Padi, i.e. vast vegetated area or   village full of ‘Kuthi’, meaning dwarf bushes and trees, i.e. trees of short trunk and stunted-trunk.  Kuthipadi may also be explained as ‘a place where cutting action took place, i.e. where a man is slained, as we learn from a para hereunder.
The place Mangodu is locally famous for its two temples - one for Subramanya, son of Lord Shiva, and the other for Vasuki, the Serpent king, adorned by Shiva as His garland (Or else, a bed of Lord Vishnu, as understood by ‘Vasukishayana’ in some devotional songs).  In Kuthipadi, there is one more temple known as Kanangi Mahabrahma Lingeshwar Temple, dedicated to Trinity Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara.
Now it has become a tourist spot owing to the recent find and decipherment of an old Kannada inscription at Subramanya Temple.  It is a 9th Century 8-line inscription (7th line found effaced) on a round stone, types of which are normally found in Kudar, now submerged area of Malpe, known as St. Mary’s Island.  According to history, Tulu Nadu was ruled by Alupa Dynasty, who ruled the kingdom for more than thousand years, changing their capital from Mangalore, Udyavara and Barkur.  Glimpses of this dynasty are touched in some of our articles.
The epigraph on a naturally round stone says:
Pala Achiya, servant of Navre, stabbed Svetavahana, while forcibly entering Udayapura (now Udyavara) and killed him.  Pala then died fighting the soldiers of Svetavahana.
Svetavahana, who ruled Tulu Nadu around 9th Century, is a scion of Alupa Dynasty.  It is understood that there were in-fighting among royal stakeholders.  This incident is one of the episodes of infighting. Navre is a Chieftain of Alupas in Udyavara.  He is cited in Greek-Tulu Farce (Prahashan), which tells how Greek sailors freed a Greek lady, held captive by Navre, by intoxicating his soldiers.  
The decipherment is made by T. Murgeshi in 2015.  He is the Associate Professor of Ancient History and Archaeology at Mulki Sundaram Shetty College, Shirva.
Mangodu, as place name, is found even in Kerala (Palakkad) and Tamil Nadu (Ponneri, Tiruvalluru). At some places, it is mentioned as Mankadu.  It may be ‘kavu’, preserved and protected sacred groves or forests, as we described in our Post-282/29.06.2011 on Kavradi.

Coastal erosion
Kanakoda faces sea erosion problem year after year, as is Ullal, Hejamadikodi, etc.  It is more severe during rainy season or at the time of tidal waves. 
Coastal erosion is one of the significant coastal hazards, turning into loss of precious lives and valuable properties and lands alongside coastal zone.  The inter-faced land and sea is a zone of active and fragile ecosystem. Rock-boulders are put along shore-line as stop-gap measure.  These boulders are washed away by tidal waves. As a permanent solution, construction of break-water walls is contemplated by Central and State Governments for permanent protection of shore-line instead of temporary measure.  Readers would do well if they read ‘Shoreline change atlas of the Indian Coast (Vol.3 – Karnataka to Kerala).
We have tried to make a logical analysis.  We pass on this challenge to readers to say their version and share the factual information on places under study.

Hosabettu Vishwanath, Pune 

Friday, March 9, 2018

402. Word cognates of cow, a wealth symbol

World languages seem related to some extent. It is to be seen or understood by virtue of words in them. Vindication of this statement surfaces suddenly in the course of our knowledge-gathering.  We have had touched this aspect in some of our articles elsewhere in this Blog, say on place name stems  ‘Al or Ala’, ‘kuppe’, etc.   
Here is one more example.

“Word of the Day” in of 5th March has sprung a surprise to me.  The word is ‘peculate’.  It means: (1) to steal or take dishonestly (money, especially public funds or properties entrusted to one’s care), (2) embezzle.  Other synonyms are: misappropriate, forge, loot, defalcate, misuse and so on. 
The word ‘peculate’ is derived from ‘peculatus’, which is, in turn, is derived from ‘peculatium’.  It means ‘wealth in cattle’.  The root noun is ‘pecu’.  It is pronounced as ‘peku’ (‘c’ is pronounced as ‘k’), meaning cattle and large cattle, domestic animals.  The word entered English in 18th Century, sometime in 1740-50. 

Pecu versus Pashu
A thought has crept into my mind that this word has connection to Indian languages.
From this ‘pecu’, we get words, like:
Pecus: Mindless group of people, cattle, sheep, rabble, mob
Pecuarius =  Sheep, Cattle
Pecunia = movable property, riches, wealth, money. 
Pecuniary = relating to money, monetary
Peculiar = particular, strange, abnormal, atypical, private (property)

‘Pecu’ Cognates in world languages
Latin ‘Pecu’ comes all but unchanged from Proto-Indo-European ‘Pek’, ‘peku’, having the meaning of wealth, livestock, and movable property.  It cognates with:
Sanskrit:  Pashu (पशु) (Meaning Dhan = Wealth)
Lithuanian:  Pekus
Proto-Germanic:  Fehu or fehe
Germanic: Vieh (In German  ’V’ has the sound of ‘F’ (Valve is pronounced as Falfe – as understood from German technicians who came for start-up of Plant of the company where I was working some time in 1969-70 and from some initial learning of German in late 1970s but not kept up).
Low German: Veeh
Dutch:  Vee
Old Norse and Danish:  Fae
Swedish: Faa
Armenian:  ‘wunl’ (Asa) = fleece, wool
Old English:  Feoh (meaning cattle, goods, money)
English:  Fee 
[Source:, Collins English Dictionary, Pecu – Wiktinary, quoting from sources, like Charles T. Lewis &  Charles Short   (1879) – A Latin Dictionary, Oxford, Claredon Press & Elementary Latin Dictionary, New York, Harper & Brothers,  pecu from Gaffiot, Felix (1934)]

Prakrit: Pasu  and Basu from Vasu = Treasure of wealth
Kannada:  Pashu, Pasu (Old Kannada), Hasu (new Kannada), Dana (Compare dana (cow) with dhana (cash, wealth)
Tulu:  Pasu (ಪಸು), Petta (ಪೆತ್ತ – ‘Pe’as in ‘Pen’, ‘tta’ in Sanskrit ‘vitta’ (वित्ता = Finance, Money). Cow or Petta is normally used for female cow.  ‘’Pasu’ also means a docile and calm person or a great or respected person.
Tamil: Perram
Telugu:  ?
Malayalam:  ?
Assamese:  Pohu

Cow as symbol of wealth
Cow has been a symbol of wealth and holiness, even before the Vedic age.  Cowherds became kings because of their cow-wealth.  One who fought and won battle for ownership of cows was called a ‘Dhananjaya’. 
There were groups of traders, known as ‘Phanis’.  They were mentioned as enemies of Devas in Sanskrit scriptures (say Rig-Veda) as they were stealing cows of Brahmins. 
Donation of cow with calves is considered as a donation of the highest order.  Kings used to donate cows to hermitages of rishis. 
In the Epic Mahabharata, we have the story of ‘gograhana yuddha’ (गोग्राहण युद्धा).  By the ruse of ‘gograhana’, Kauravas wanted to find out the place of hiding of Pandavas during the last one year of their living in incognito as one of the conditions of punishment for losing the Game of Dice with Kauravas.  On the last day of their secret stay in the Kingdom of Virata, Arjuna, remaining incognito in the guise of Brihannala (a eunuch who taught art of dancing to Uttara Kumari), fought the Kauravas and won the battle for Uttara Kumar, son of Virata.    This highlights significance of a cattle wealth in a kingdom. 
Story of Madhavi in Udyoga Parva of Mahabharata also highlights the significance of domesticated horses as ‘property’. She was the beautiful daughter of Yayati, King of Lunar clan, from Urvashi, an Apsara (Celestial woman).  Madhavi was blessed by a sage that she would always remain virgin and sacred even after giving birth to powerful sons.  How she was traded by Galava, the disciple of Sage Vishwamitra, a King turned ascetic in search of ‘Brahmajnana’, is a strange story (morality of which is to be judged from the customs of those days).  Hence Vishwamitra is called a ‘Mahabrahmana’.  On insistence of Galava, Vishwamitra ordered him to give 800 snow-white horses, each one having one black-coloured ear, as Guru Dakshina (Fee given to Guru at the end of studies). Galava approached (on the advice of Garuda) King Yayati, who did not have horses, fitting the description. So, King offered his daughter with divine power of regaining virginity after bearing sons only, to be pledged for collecting horses from other kings.  Galava got 200 horses from Ayodhya King Haryaswa of Ikshuvaaku Dynasty, who was not having a son.  Madhavi advised Galava to offer her to the King for 200 horses and take her back after she bore a son (Vasuprada or Vasumanas) for the King.  This way, Galava took further 200 horses each from Devodasa, King of Kashi, who got a son named Pratadana) and King Ushinara of Bhojanagari.  Living with him for a year she gave birth to a son, who was named Shibi.  Shibi was a generous King and was famous for his steadfastness in upholding truth and justice.  Unable to procure remaining 200 horses of special kind, he returned to Vishwamitra and begged him to take Madhavi in lieu of the remaining horses.  From Madhavi, Vishwamitra got a powerful son Ashtaka.  When Madhavi was free after fulfilling the wish of her father of helping Galava, she chose to remain an ascetic, living in    woods like a deer.

Is such word-comparison at random a truth or a myth? Or is it a mere coincidence?     We feel that such likeness or image is an essential truth, masked by time and distance.
Harmony between man and Nature with animals is the corner-stone of ecological balance.   Nature is evergreen, as the story of Madhavi symbolises.  Madhavi means Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth and spouse of Lord Vishnu and ever-beautiful like a creeper with fragrant flower having honey. Cattle wealth is replaced by artificial goods now.  Man’s unbridled greed has spoiled the atmosphere and water sources, threatening all types of lives of this world.

Hosabettu Vishwanath, Pune

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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 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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