Monday, August 27, 2007

31. Tulu tribes - Migration from Pirak : 1000-600 BC

The Tulu identity and civilization as it exists now in Tulunad is a composite culture developed chronologically over not less than the last four thousand years. Like numerous rivers and streams flowing into the sea, several individual cultural streams have merged with the Tulu culture at different periods during the long historical past. One of the recognizable major events in the evolution of Tulu language and culture is the contribution of Tulu tribes that migrated to this Tulunad in the remote historical past dating back to the period 1000 to 600 years BC. [I quote the broad period of 400 years – i.e. 1000 to 600 BC- because I am not able to sharpen it more at present. With availability of more historical data, hopefully, we can narrow down this period.]
Iravattam Mahadevan suggested that the Indus valley civilization was an early form of Dravidian culture. Further after the decline of Indus valley civilization, possibly due to migration of rivers and abrupt floods, ca.1900 BC, Dravidians apparently moved out of the Indus valley region and lived in the north and northwest parts of the Indian subcontinent, before the advent of the Aryans. Brahui, a Dravidian language still spoken in Baluchistan, parts of Iran and adjoining areas is evidence in favour of the existence of Dravidians in those parts.
Among those who lived in the northwestern part of Indian subcontinent around Pirak, Mehrgarh, Multan and surrounding areas (now a part of Pakistan) ca.1900 to 1500 BC are Tulu and other Dravidian tribes. Aryans, migrated from Indo-European homelands also settled in these areas and composed the famous Vedas, initially in the oral tradition prevalent at that time.
That Tulu tribes were one of the groups of settlers in this area during the period cited above can be deduced by Atleast four lines of evidences recapitulated here below:
1. Presence of distinct Tulu words in Rigveda like : okha, aaNi, pala/ pela etc. These cited words have been considered by Michael Witzel as words borrowed into the early Sanskrit, since they do not conform to the linguistic word structure of Indo-European language in which the Vedas were composed. Rigveda, in original oral form, has been dated ca.1700-1500 BC. There may be more such words, for example like the suffix -aaN in braahmaN. [cf: previous posts 20,25,28 ]
2. The absorption of the legend of Abraham, into Tulu tradition as Bermer (Brahma) in the original form as a horse mounted hero.
Abraham, a popular leader of masses (legendary prophet for Jews, Christians and Muslims,) lived approximately 2000 BC in the NW Indian subcontinent-Asia Minor-Central Asia region. After his death in the tradition of spirit worship he became the “Bermer(u)” for Tulu tribes. Vedic Aryans converted the Abraham legend into the Brahman, the supreme cosmic creative power. Gradually with time Brahman evolved into the God Brahma with ten or four heads in different Purana epics, by the time of composition of the Ramayana ca. 800-500 BC. The dominance of Lord Brahma in Ramayana has been analysed in detail by SSN Murthy.
Since Tulu tribes carried their original horse mounted “Bermer” image with them to Tulunad before the evolution of the Brahma concept into ten or four headed God of creation, in northern India, the time of Tulu tribe migration can be fixed as pre 500 BC. [cf: previous posts 4, 5, 26,28 ]
3. The presence of ample Prakrit words in Tulu language, speaks of the heritage from their erstwhile homeland in Northwest Indian subcontinent. Especially the word Pirak is interesting. “Pirak” in Tulu language means ‘anything related to remote past’. Incidentally Pirak was the area of early civilization ca. 1700-800 BC. [cf: previous posts 3,6].
4. The basic “moolasthana”( literally means ‘primary inhabitation’ or ‘original homeland’) concept of Tulu tribes settled in Karavali Tulunad homeland is derived from the original concept of the tribes in their former homeland of northwest Indian subcontinent. Even today, Multan is a town in the Punjab province of Pakistan. [cf: previous posts: 9.18.19 30].There is a temple devoted to Prahlada at Multan.The legend of Prahlada,Hiranyakashipu and Narahari might have originated around this place.Incidentally,as pointed out by Manjunath,Prahlada is the grandfather of King Bali(also known as Baliyendra) who is reverred by Tulu and Malayali people since remote historical times.


Sunday, August 26, 2007

30.Multan and moolasthana

The multi-talented great scholar (“Mahapandit”) Indologist, multilinguist (he knew thirteen languages), and widely traveled Kedarnath Pande (1893-1963) was born at Pandah village in Azamgarh district of Uttara Pradesh as a bhumihar Brahmin on 9April1893. He mastered Sanskrit, Hindi and its various dialects of Hindi like Bhojpuri, Malavi, Avadhi, Maithilli, Braj, Rajasthani and Nepali. He studied Pali and Sinhalese languages and read Buddhistic texts in the original form. He converted to Buddhism and changed his name to “Rahul Sankrityayan”. Rahul was the name of Buddha’s son and ‘sankrityayan’ means the assimilator.
“Volga se Ganga” (Original in Hindi, also translated to Kannada “Volga Ganga”) is one of his best works that traces the migration and evolution of Indian people from 6000 BC to present.
Multan is one of the places cited in his work Volga se Ganga.Multan at present is a city and district headquarters in Punjab province of Pakistan. Multan is the simplified version of the Sanskrit name “moolasthan” meaning the original inhabitation.
The original settlers of the ancestral Indian subcontinent in this area called this place as their moolasthan (also written variously as “mūlsthan” or “mūlstan”).The word tan or than was their in Prakrit. It has been traveled along with migrating ancestral Indians absorbed into Marathi and Kannada languages as “thana” or “thane”.
Migrant Tulu tribes retained the moolasthan concept from the original homeland of northwestern Indian subcontinent (now part of Pakistan) and carried it to their subsequent homeland, Tulunad in the Karavali of Karnataka. The early settlements of Tulu tribes in Karavali(coastal Karantaka) are called moolasthanas.(cf:Post).


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

29.The Rice: Vrihi and Arih

The relics of rice grains recovered from the archeological sites of Pirak area, Baluchistan suggest that the area was known for rice cultivation around 1700 BC. The mixed civilization at that time period composed of Vedic scholars and proto-Tulu, proto- Tamil and Dravidian communites at Pirak, as has been dealt in earlier posts here before.
Origin of the Sanskrit word ‘Vrihi’ that means rice (Oriza sativa) and sometimes other cereals like wheat and barley, has been discussed by Indological experts like Asko Purpola. The word is generally said to be not directly influenced by or related to the Dravidian words ‘arih’ (Tulu) and ‘arisi’ (Tamil) that represent the rice. On the other hand it has been fairly accepted that the Tamil word ‘arisi’ was adopted by Greek, Latin and also English as ‘rice’.
Sankaran Nair (2003) suggested that ‘Vrihi’ is a modified form of the word ‘varahi’. He cited that there are several varieties of rice designated as Graishmic, Hemanti, Varshic, Sharada, Salini etc described in ancient Sanskrit texts. Varahi is the female form of mythological Varaha, the boar incarnation of Lord Vishnu. (Varahi, is also the name of a river in Western Karnataka).
The word ‘Varahi’ has further ramifications. First connotation is that the Varaha was worshipped at that time by communities and cultures prevalent then at Pirak area. Spirits worshipped by the Tulu communities, even to date, include ‘Panjurli’ which is the Tulu form of Varaha. Appaently, the Panjurli or the Varaha was worshipped more widely at that time. The Varaha concept, later in the history, was absorbed as one of the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu.
Thus the word ‘vrihi’ might have brought into Sanskrit usage as rice was predominantly grown and consumed by those who worshipped the Varaha or Panjurli. Besides, there is certain degree of similarity in pronunciation of the words ‘vrihi’ and ‘arih’.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

28.Significance of the Brahma

One well-wisher who read my post on Brahma commented that I erred in equating the Brahma with Brāhman (pronounced ‘BraahmaN’).
It is not that I equated the two but expressed that the word Brahma gave rise to the word BraahmaN. The latter word came into represent ‘the one who knew about Brahma’. Here the ‘Brahma’ or the ‘Brahman’ (pronounced ‘brahman’) meant the refined theological / metaphysical and esoteric concept of Brahma, the cosmic power that created the universe as well as the supreme power that pervades the universe. Subsequently, the word ‘brahma’ also meant large and gigantic (‘bruhat’). Words like Brahmanda ( literally means ‘the gigantic egg’ =universe), brahma-rakshsha, brahma-ratha, naga-brahma etc came into usage.
My objective of reconstructing the original legend and further the concept of Brahma is to understand the evolution of our religious beliefs from the historical and sociological viewpoint. I am not elaborating the theological aspects that are reasonably well known since it has been dealt extensively by others so far.
A historic heroic person, a leader of masses, Abraham, who claimed to be the creator of tribes, became a legend during his life time and also after his death. He is cited in the Bible and is revered as a leader by the Jews and as a prophet (Ibrahim) by Muslims. The Vedic scholars accepted him as the creator and the ultimate cosmic power. The legend of Abraham/Brahma was spread throughout the connected geographic region of West Asia-Asia Minor-and Central Asia.
The Vedic people and contemporaneous Jews had deep-seated rivalry, in spite of both communities sharing many common concepts and beliefs. Whatever words starting with A the Jews used, Vedics used it without initial A. (It may be the other way round also.) So Ahura or Asura of Jews became Sura for Vedics. (Recall the Sura-Asura wars described in Puranic legends.) Avesta became Veda. Abraham became Brahma and so on.
Some more discussion on the word ‘braahmaN’: The word is composed of ‘brahma + aN’. The word ‘aaN’ is a Tulu word meaning a male person. AaN+ jovu (literally ‘male being’ refers to man) in Tulu. Interestingly, the word ‘jovu’, currently used in Brahmin Tulu to refer to the girl child, is also related to the Sanskrit word ‘jeeva’.
It appears to me that the word ‘aaN’ was borrowed into early Sanskrit from Tulu like some of other words discussed in earlier postings. So the word braahmaN originally meant young male who studied scriptures relating to the knowledge of Brahma, the cosmic power. Perhaps, Prof Michael Witzel may throw better light on the status of the suffix /word ‘aaN’ in Brahman and also ‘jovu’ to ‘jeeva’ conversion or vice versa.
On the whole, these discussions further affirm my theory that atleast some Tulu ancestors dwelled in the Pirak civilized habitation in Sind, Baluchistan during the early historical period when Vedas were composed. The Tulu ancestors that migrated carried the worship of Brahma in the form of ‘Bermer(u)’ to Tulunad their subsequent homeland.
The image of Tulu Bermer (Brahma) was akin to the original form of Abraham, the horse riding hero. In a way these Tulu ancestors were following the ancient cult of hero worship that became the spirit worship after the death of the Abraham. The cult of hero worship (example: Koti- Chennaya, Kanthabare- Boodabare etc) and spirit worship (example Panjurli, Kalurti, Kodamanthaya etc) have continued to persist in Tulu culture even to date.
On second thinking, it appears that cult of Brahma worship was more widespread in India in the past till the ascent and domination of Shaivism. Along with the Tulu people, migrating other Dravidian like Kannada and Tamil ancestors carried the Brahma cult to different parts of southern India as evidenced by the relics of Brahma temples and Brahma name tags like Brahmaiah, Bommaya, Brahmasandra etc. The Jainism absorbed many features of the Brahma cult.

Therefore, the legend of Brahma stands testimony to trace the evolution and transition of our theological faiths from the primitive hero/spirit worship to the concept abstract cosmic powers at higher philosophic metaphysical levels on one hand and that of Hindu Gods in human forms at the other popular level.


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 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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