Tuesday, September 4, 2007

33. Brahma-Vishnu-Mahesh

The historical evolution of theological concepts and pantheon in the Indian subcontinent is very interesting for the sociological studies. Primitive Indian societies believed in the special powers of the generative organs to procreate. Thus male and female sexual organs were ritually worshipped. The phallus (Linga) worship later was absorbed into Shaiva cult and the Linga became a representation of Shiva. On similar lines the primitive cult of vulva (Yoni) worship and Mother Godess worship amalgamated with Shakti/ Devi worship.
Brahma is probably the earlier major God in this subcontinent. Until then Vedic Aryans worshipped various elements of the nature in the form of Indra, Agni, Marut, Mitra, Varuna etc.
The legend of Abraham, the mass leader of Jews, who is also credited to have built the Kaaba at Mecca in association with his father, was so powerful in the region that any communities resorted to the worship of his spirit after his death. The Tulu settlers absorbed the Brahma legend in original form northwestern India, carried the concepts when they subsequently migrated south, still retain the vestiges of early forms of Brahma worship in the coastal Karavali Karnataka. The other migrant people also carried the concepts but these concepts changed with time and changes in the concept of Brahma. Apparently the ancient Jainism also adopted the concept of Brahma.
With ascendance of concept Brahma, the natures Gods were reduced to minor or lesser Gods. Brahma originally a horse mounted, bearded hero slowly evolved into a four headed creator, the four heads representing the four Vedas. Ramayana also showcased the ten headed Brahma. Myths and fantasy were added with detailed poetic imaginations and fantasies to elevate the status and power of the divine elements at popular level.
At the same time Shiva and Vishnu came into prominence among different cultural groups that made the Indian society at that period. Similar to Brahma, the original legends and characters of Shiva and Vishnu might have been based on the lives of exceptional mass heroes of that time. Incidentally both of these Gods were dark or black skinned like their natives of that time but were poetically called ‘blue skinned’ (Shyamala Varna).The dark skin indicates that these were Gods of dark skinned Dravida/ Munda tribes.
The Vedic Aryans when they moved out of their settlements into domains of various provincial kings they had serve under the Dravida/Munda kings for livelihood. Dravida/ Munda Kings who believed in their dark skinned Heroes turned to Gods rather than Vedic Gods (like Mitra, Varuna, Indra, Agni) or the white- skinned bearded Brahma (derived from Abraham). The Vedic Aryans then subsequently converted into Brahmins because of their knowledge of Vedas, had to switch over from Vedic Gods to native dark skinned Gods like Vishnu and Shiva (Mahesh).
At a point in the history, especially after witnessing development of three lines of divine concepts an effort was made to integrate the trilinear faiths into an unified concept of trinities: Brahma (the creator), Vishnu (the keeper) and Maheswara (the destroyer) were amalgamated into trinity. The famous Trimurthy sculptures of Elephanta caves, Mumbai is an example of this acceptance of merging of three faiths.

It is interesting that Tulu and the Malayali people were not influenced by these Gods in the beginning, especially the later-evolved four headed Brahma, the Vishnu and the Shiva.Shiva was being worshipped by Tamils,settled in Madurai, at least since the beginning of the Christian era (Sangam literatuire period).
Shiva temples were introduced in Tulunad during 5th Century AD, coinciding with Kadamba dynasty at Banavasi.And Vishnu and Krishna concepts came to Tulunad still later.
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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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