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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, March 24, 2007

9.The Moolasthana concept

Do we have moolasthana concept in other parts of India?

Many of the TuLu communities have the concept of a moolasthana, moola (original) +sthana (place), where the ancestors of their lineage originally settled and lived. The lineage is called bari (pronounced as short ba as in bun) in Tulu. It is equivalent of bali (pronounced as short ba as in bun, li as heavy Li common in south Indian languages) or baLLi in Uttara Kannada and gotra in Brahmin communities. The term baLLi means plant creeper, which is symbolic of the family lineage. The term bari must be Tulu equivalent of the word old Kannada word baLLi. This explanation is required because in TuLu, word bari has another meaning ‘the side’.

The moolasthanas in Tulunad have a small temple dedicated to the divine spirit (Daiva or Bootha), Naaga or the Bermer′. As a consequence of socio-cultural evolution, many of these moolasthanas have replaced the original deities with subsequent deities like Durga or other Gods and are located near the beaches or in the proximal areas in the coast. Tulu families have a ritual of visiting their respective moolasthanas at least annually. At the small temple there they conduct ceremonial worships.

I visited one such moolasthana near Hoode, about ten kilometers north of Udupi town. Hoode hamlet is located near the estuary of Sita and Swarna rivers. The word Hoode is a place indicator. ‘Ade, ide, ode’ etc place indicators mean ‘there,here,where’ respectively in Tulu.(Similar words exist in Malayalam).

The moolasthana is located at Bengare near Hoode. The word bengare or bangere has equivalent meaning of a sand spit. Ben+kare stands for ‘a place opposite coastline or beach ’. The lineage indicator bangera is apparently derived from bangare. This is the moolasthana of TuLu people of bangera lineage. Interestingly, all TuLu communities belonging to the lineage of bangera have designated this site as their moolasthana. The present day castes like poojari, sapalya, moolya, marakala etc have been formed on the basis of their trades or professions. But all these TuLu communities carry common lineages tags (surnames) like bangera, putran, anchan etc. Lineage of a person is affixed based on the lineage of his mother (as in matriarchic society).

The common lineage for diverse communities indicates that the lineage system predates the classification of people into diverse communities based on trade or profession. It seems the trade based classification, the varna system, came into being in the post Vedic times after elucidation of chaturvarna. By Chandragupta (ca. 340-293 BC) and Chanakya period (ca. 350-283 BC), it was firmly entrenched in Indian society as reported by Greek historians. Therefore, it can be inferred that the maternal lineage system of Tuluva people is probably of late Vedic age.

The moolasthanas appear to the earliest settlements of Tulu people in the west coast. (Possibly, there were other inhabitants in the land before the arrival of Tulu tribes. Like, the early Munda tribes that gave plethora of village names with Munda prefix. (cf. 8.Mundkur, Munder) It is interesting to note there is a similar sounding place Mool-thaan (Multan) near Salt Ranges. The word thaan in Prakrit is analogous to sthan in Sanskrit. The inhabitants of Pirak and Mehrgarh area had settled near a place they called Multan or original place.

However, due to various reasons, several families migrated southward through Rajasthan Gujarat, Maharastra and settled in sites in the West Coast. It appears that when their offsprings/progenies migrated again within Tulunad, these coastal settlements were again called moolasthanas.

Do we have moolasthana concept in other parts of India?

I request other researchers to comment or contribute with any relevant information that they may have.

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Blog Archive

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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