In a previous post on the legend of Rama, inference was that Ramayana was composed and built around a folk-lore on a tribal hero, specifically a Bhil archer. The hero of the epic, the Rama as well as the compiler of the epic, Valmiki both hailed from the ancient Bhil archer community.
It is generally believed that the name ‘Rama’ is a Sanskrit word. However, the available clues show that the name ‘Rama’or ‘Ram’ also may have been borrowed from the ancient/pre-Sanskrit folklores.
A research paper by Malini Srivastava (2007) on Munda culture and customs describes some interesting Munda customs and festivals. Munda tribes celebrate an annual festival called ‘Karam’. The origin of the ‘Karam’ festival is explained as a simple story that is quite interesting.
There were two brothers known as ‘Karam’ and ‘Dharam’. Dharam did not work whereas Karam worked hard in the agricultural fields, got good crops and became rich. Munda tribes celebrate the victory of Karam over Dharam in the form of a festival called ‘Karam’!
Karam and Dharam
The origin of the ancient ‘Karam’ festival shows some new insight into the nature of Early Munda words. As it is obvious from the story, ‘Karam’ means action or work, whereas ‘Dharam’ stands for philosophy. The ancient Munda anecdote reinstates the evergreen wisdom that work is worship.
These same words Karam and Dharam have subsequently been taken into Sanskrit and, may be, all present Indian languages. Now, both the words have detailed shades of meaning far more complex than the original simple connotations.
Karam in Munda language also represented a tree called ‘Karam’ or ‘Kaim’. Later this tree was known as Kadamba tree. The Kadamaba tree must have been quite auspicious since early historical days. The royal clan founded by Mayura Sharma at Banavasi (5th century AD) designated themselves as Kadamba dynasty.
Karam is the festival of victory of the farmer (agriculturist), celebrated on the eleventh moon day of the month ‘bhado’(September). A twig of ‘Karam’ (Kadamba) tree is brought and worshipped in the courtyard of the house. Later on the day, young shoots (‘ears’) of grain are distributed among friends and relatives.
This festive custom has been adopted by Tulu people in ‘Posatt’ (‘new crop’ festivity) or the ‘Koral parba’. The impact of the ‘koral parba’ on the regional populace is so deep that it is also celebrated by local Christians, converted from Hinduism. ‘Onam’ (Kerala) and ‘Huttari ‘(Kodagu) are regional variants of this festival.
The byproduct of the story is that if ‘Karam’ and ‘Dharam’ are antique words from Munda/Bhil languages, then the word Ram also was derived from the same source.
The existence of ancient Munda personal names like Karam and Dharam suggests that there may have been personal name like Ram or Rama.
Books for Reference
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- Tuluvala Baliyendre. Compiled by N.A.Sheenappa Hegde,Polali,Sri Devi Prakashana,Parkala,1929/1999
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