Wednesday, January 30, 2008

82.Vestiges of Buddhism in Karnataka

King Ashoka’s edict (ca.250 BC) of Girnar mentions his people-friendly services in several regions of southern India.Buddhism, in southern India apparently was introduced during Ashoka's regime. The word 'Sangham' in the early literature of Tamils was influenced by or borrowed from Buddhism. During the beginning ten centuries of the CE Buddhism thrived well in southern India coexisting side by side with mainstream Hinduism and Jainism.
The Bhagavthi cult of Kerala and Karavali is a direct descendant of Buddhist Tara Bhagavathi cult that was widespread in southern India. Statues of Tara have been found at Kolivada, Banvasi, Balligave and Dambala (Dhammavolal). Buddhist idols have been found at Kadri (Mangalore) and Kapu area (Udupi district). The architecture of Aihole Durga temple,of early Chalukyan art(6 to 8th Century CE) in Bagalkot district, has been considered to be of Buddhist style.There are also an ancient temple in Aihole dedicated to Bhagavathi.

Prof. Rahamath Tarikere (2006) lists numerous geographic locations and lakes/ tanks in Karnataka that have names connected to icons of Buddhism. He cites several ancient places that have names connected to typical Buddhist words like Dharma, Hema, Vajra, Manju, Avalokita, Lokeswara, Tara,Bhagavathi, Chandra, Kadali and Joga.Some of the places with Buddhist names are enlisted below:

1. Tara. (Tara,Taare,Tavare) Places reminiscent of Tara Bhagavthi:
Tavarekere or Tarikere at Kadri (Mangalore),Tavarekere (Tarikere, Bangalore, Mandya, Nagamangala, Magadi, Mangalore, Chennagiri, Shira, Turuvekere, Nelamangala, Tumkur, Arasikere); Taarikere (Hoasadurga, Holalkere), Tarikere (Tarikere, Kunigal, Maddur).
Taarihalli (Hospet), Taarehalli (Jagalur), Tavargera (Kushtagi), Tavarekoppa (Shimoga, Hanagal), Taariahaal(Hubli), Tavaragi (Hirekerur), Tarapura (T.Narasipura).

Bhagavathi kaaDu (Hosanagar, Belthangadi), Bhagavathi kaTTe (Tarikere), Bhagavathi kere (Bhadravathi, Hiriyur), etc.

Dharmastala (Belthangadi), Dharmapura (Hiriyur, Devanahalli), Dharmaapura (Sandur, Arakalgud), Dharamsagar (Hospet), Dhammavolal (>.Dambala).
Dharma-Shastavu temples of Tulunad are considered to have originally been Buddha Chaitalayas that have been later converted to Aiyappa shrines. Dharma-Shastavu was one of the names of the Buddha.

4.Loka,Lakya,Lakka: (places dedicated to Avalokiteswara/ Lokeswara)
Lokapur (Mudhol), Lakya dam, Lakkavalli (Tarikere), Lokavalli (Mudigere), Lakka/ Lokki(Chikmagalur), Lakkolli (Mundagodu), Lakkanahalu, Lokadoallu (Holalakere), Lakkundi (Gadag),Lokkigundi(?), Lokikere (Davanagere, Kudligi, Tarikere), Lakkeguli(Ankola), Lokanatha temple(Rona).

5.Vajra: .( places reminiscent of Vajrayana Buddhism)
Vajra (Hosadurga),Vajralli(Yellapura), Vajrahlli(Nelamangala),Vajradahalli(Madhugiri), Vajramatti (Mudhola), Vajrahoshalli (Dodballapur), Vajjanakurke (Koratgere) etc.

6.Manju . (places named after Manjunath or Manjusri)
Manjeswar (Kasargodu), Kirimanjeswara (Kundapura), Manjenahalli (Kadur), Manjuguni (Ankola) etc.

7.Mangala: There are three Mangalurs in Karnataka (Dakshina Kannad, Badami, Yelaburga).The Mangala is a word frequently used in Buddhist literature and is also name of one of the 24 Buddhas.

Besides,there are several villages with Mangala as prefix or suffix in their names. Mangalapade, Nagamangala, Nelamangala, Binnamangala, etc may be places where centers of Buddhism existed in the past.
Similarly,the Bhaagamandala (Kodagu), place-name of origin of the River Cauvery, may be of Buddhist origin.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

81. Barakur II

Some more explanation on the origin of the word Baraka+Oor!
Viswanath pointed out an interesting and related Tulu word ‘barakane’ that helps us to understand the meaning and significance of the word ‘baraka’ or ‘barka’ in Barakur/ Barkur. The word ‘barakaNe’ finds entry under the variant ‘barankaNe’ in the Tulu nighanTu (p.2236; Vol. 5).
The word barakane is used commonly along the beaches of Kapu, Kaipunjal, Polipu where the devastating effect of severe sea erosion is a commonplace event during monsoons. The severe sea erosions along beaches of Karavali initiate during the peak monsoon, with development of beach-parallel linear faults (fractures) in the near-shore seabed (triggered by storms, as a consequence of increase of pore water pressure in the beach-estuary environs).On the linear fault, the seaward sandy layer usually slumps vertically downwards leaving a depression or ‘gundi’. The opposite, beach-ward face raises vertically upward like a wall, one to two meters in height. The process is called ‘barakaNe’.
Hence, the word ‘baraka’ refers to the raised or elevated part of land by the side of river. There are several related words in Tulu that provide shades of similar meanings: bare (=linear ridge), barike (=large house/manor on an elevated ground), barak (=raised, filled), barata (=high tide), barakel (=filled, flooded), etc.
Earth movements
The Karavali region has undergone several periods of earth movements even during the recent history (of last four to five thousand years).The Barkur- Hoode -Bengre area has also experienced such changes in the morphology of the earth.
Our observant ancestors have employed meaningful place names that document the significant past events.

80. Macchendra, Goraka and Pingala

The Natha cult represents the fusion of Buddhist Avalokiteswara and Shaivaite tantric (Kapalika, Kaula) cults. Macchendra Nath and his disciple Gorakh Nath were the prominent exponents of the Natha cult. The Natha cult eventually spread to different parts of India and Srilanka during eighth to tenth centuries. Subsequently, twelve subdivisions (bara-pantha) evolved in the cult. The Natha Jogis used to travel for long distances on foot. Influence of Nath cult can be seen in major Shaiva centres like Srishaila. The Natha is short for ‘Lokeswara Natha’, according to in the Buddhist literatures of Srilanka.
Macchendra Natha was able to acquire the goodwill of the ruling kings who awarded him the administration of lands around Kadri temple and the title of ‘Kadri Arasaru’.

Natha tantric philosophy
The practice of Yoga and Tantra was common to the Vajrayana Buddhism and (the Kapalika, Kaula and other) Shaiva cults. Natha cult was the result of the fusion of the two streams of rival cults, based on the common factor of Tantric yoga. Occult sexual practices and experiments were integral part of the Vajrayana and Kapalika Tantra philosophies.
The Natha cult advocated the physical and mental development of the individual (Yogi or Jogi). It consisted of a set of yogic techniques called Tantra for developing mental abilities through sustained control of physical activities and respiration (pranayama). The techniques were intended to activate the dormant power of Kundalini, hidden in the bottom of the spinal column of the individual; and redirecting that power upwards to the brain to attain a ‘samaadhi’ state of bliss. Experiments in retention and redirection of semen upward were conducted in achieving these goals. Exponents like Gorakh Nath apparently emphasized on the virtues of celibacy. Concentration of the mind on light leads to a state of’ ‘mindlessness’ (‘amanaskate’) or zero mental activity that is described as ‘brahmanubhava’. Attainment of this state is considered as elevation of the person to the state of God. The cult believes that God lies within the person, or that divine state can be reached by the individual. Philosophically, there is no concept of separate external God like in Advaita or Dwaita philosophies. Natha Jogis utter ‘aadesh’ while they greet each other, showing mutual respect.
Natha and other contemporary philosophies (like Vajrayana, Kapalika and Kaula) possibly influenced the growth of later philosophies like Varakari, Veerashaiva, Mahanubhava, Soofi, Kabir, Datta and Nanak cults.

Macchendra Natha
Macchendra (Matsyendra) Natha hailed from a fisher community of probably Bengal area. (However, the sculptures show him riding on fish and the legends metaphorically describe his birth from the semen of Shiva swallowed by a fish). The ‘maccha’ is a Pali word for ‘matsya’ or the fish. The Alupe kings of Mangalore probably adapted the emblem of fishes after Macchendra Nath. Macchendra Nath is the fertility God in Nepal and a national festival is celebrated in his honour.
Macchendra also had another disciple named Chourangi Nath.

Gorakha Natha
The Nath cult is alternately known as ‘Gorakh panthi’ or ‘Gorakh cult’. Gorakha (Goraksha) Natha, probably was native of Nepal. He was a discarded child and was collected from a gobar pit by Macchendra, according to the legends. Gorakh was renowned proponent of Natha cult all over India.
Nepal, also known as Gorakh-Desh or ‘the land of Gorakhs’ (>.Gorkhas, the tribe), adopted the Natha cult as official religion. Several towns in Northern India and Nepal have been named ‘Gorakhpur’ after him. Coins of Nepal carry emblem of Shiva Gorakh Nath.

Pingala, a queen of all-women’s domain (Stri-rajya), desired to have male offspring and prayed to Lord Anjaneya. At this juncture, Macchendra travels to her place and meets her. They develop mutual attraction and in the due course they beget two male children. Macchendra forgets himself in her company settles there for several years. In the meanwhile Gorakha, Macchendra’s prime disciple, goes in search of his Guru and finds that he is lodged in a female-domain, where men were not permitted. So he dresses himself like a woman and beats a ‘maddale’ (a kind of drum), in a tune that sounds “Chal Macchendra, Gorak Aya”. Macchendra awakens from the marital pleasures and returns with Gorakha to pursue yogic practices.
On another occasion Pingala travels with Gorakh towards Triambakeswar, but expires on the way at Mangalore. The burial related 'concluding' obituary ceremony (‘mangala-acharane’) was conducted at Mangalore in the due Yogic tradition of Natha cult. Later, she was honoured as an incarnation of Tara Bhagavathi and the shrine erected in her memory became the Mangaladevi temple in the course of time.

From the point of reconstruction of history, the question that remains is whether the town was named Mangalore after her or the place name existed even before.

Rahamath Tarikere (2006) “Karnatakada Nathapantha”(in Kannada). Prasaranga, Kannada University, Vidyaranya, Hampi.p.xii+348+xii
John Holt (1991) Buddha in the crown: Avalokitesvara in the Buddhist traditions of Srilanka. Oxford University Press. 304 p.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

79. The place: Kadiri

Kadri is one of most significant places in Mangalore in terms of historical evolution.Even though,now the place is commonly called Kadri, earlier local people used to refer to it by the name "Kadire". Manjeswara Govinda Pai has popularised the word 'Kadire' in his research works.
Many of our experts have endeavored to explain the meaning and or origin of the word. The most favored explanation is that it is a word derived from ‘kadali’ (=banana). The ‘kadali’ is also a small and sweeter variety of local species of banana that is popular in the district. But there is an alternate explanation with proof in the form of inscription under the bronze idol of Avalokiteswara installed by Alupa King Kundavarma which describes the place as ‘Kadarika vihar’. The word ‘Kadarika’ is Sanskritised version of Kadari or Kadire. (A ‘Vihar’ is a Buddhist monastery or hostel).
In support of the aforesaid word Kadali, the place is ostensibly described as ‘Suvarna Kadali vana’(=golden banana grove). Infact, there is an suitable anecdote to match this epithet. However, on analysis of available historical data, it appears that the notion of Kadali vana came from Srishaila, another renowned Shaiva- Sidda- Natha holy place in Andhra Pradesh. At Srishaila there is a kadali vana. Historically, there was good theological relations between Kadri and Srishaila. It appears that the notion of Kadali vana may have been borrowed from that site at Srishaila.
Tulu farming people traditionally celebrate the annual opening of harvesting season with a festival known as ‘Puddar’ or ‘Puddvar’. The origin of the word has been explained as 'pudda' (=new)+ 'baar' (=paddy).The word ‘Puddar’ has become ‘Huttari’ among Kodava people. Puddar >.puttar >.huttar >.huttari.
The festival is alternatively called ‘pasatt’(=new!) or ‘kural parba’(=spike of paddy+ festival), the latter word being more common among those converted into Christianity.
The festival is of quite ancient in origin derived from our early/proto-Munda heritage. The present Munda people of Chotanagapur area call it ‘Karam’ festival. It seems that the ‘puddar’ or ‘huttar’(Kodava) was the original word used by early Munda people who inhabited the Karavali/ Kodagu region during the early historical period.
The key factor in the ‘puddar’ festival is a newly harvested spike of paddy called ‘kadir’ or ‘kural’ is brought from the designated place of community worship and tied to places in the entrance of the house and/or nearby trees, cattle-shed etc. It is a community festival of farmers since ages.
I suggest that the word kadiri came from ‘kadir’, the new spike of paddy. Kadiri was the ancient designated locality where they used to distribute the ceremonial ‘kadirs since ages.
There is a Puddar katte near Kadri temple, where the kadir was being distributed ceremonially since ages. The Kadri Jogis, the administrators of the temple have continued the popular ceremony of distributing kadir-s during the annual puddar festival, as cited by writer Rahamath Tarikere(2006).

Saturday, January 19, 2008

78. A special word: ‘MuTTukaDi’

Few years ago, elderly people used to scold the younger lazy ones in TuLu, something like: “Nikk dada muTTu-kaDi aatini?” (Roughly translated, it means what bad thing has affected to you?)What is the meaning and origin of this word-‘muTTukaDi’ ?
Tulu nighantu
The ‘TuLu nighanTu’ describes (page 2617) the noun ‘muTTukaDi’ as-(a) a critical condition (b) urgency or critical state or (c) a narrow path.
Even though the explanation holds good to understand the usage cited above, it does not clearly explains the usage of the words ‘muTTu’ and ‘kaDi’ in the idiom.
The word muTTu has several shades of meanings in Tulu as given in the ‘TuLu nighanTu’: (1) reach (2) touch (3 ) commence (4) pile up (5 )kick (6) fight (7) bite (8) terminate (9) stool (10) menses (11) prohibition (12) sandals (13) stairs (14) footprint (15) unfavorable conditions.

The word ‘kaDi’ generally means the narrow entrance. These words generally do not explain the origin or meaning of the cited word.
An Old Kannada word
However, the word muTTukaDi is found in ‘VaDDaaradhane’, the first known text in old Kannada language composed by Shivakotyachar ca.930CE.Dr. D. L. Narasimhachar, an eminent Kannada scholar has explained the meaning of the word in Notes to the published text. The old Kannada word ‘muTTukaDi’ is equal to ‘muTTugolu’(=to confiscate) in modern Kannada usage. In the earlier regal days of monarchy, it was a practice to confiscate all the entire property of the person who has disobeyed the laws of the State. The word ‘muTTu’ means all movable properties. The representatives of the King used to carry a pole or stick (‘gaDe’ or ‘kaDe’ or ‘gaDi’) that is used to officially declare that all properties belonging to the convicted person are confiscated by the State. Therefore a person who has been ordered to be ‘muTTukaDe’ is rendered utterly penniless and poor.

The old Kannada word ‘muTTukaDe’ has been in use in Tulu language and culture probably since ancient days (Vaddaradhane, 10th Century CE), as a consequence of transactions between the Tulu and the Kannada people.

Friday, January 18, 2008

77. Natha cult at Mangalore

The Kadri Manjunatha temple at Mangalore in the present form was founded by Jogi Matsendranath of the Natha pantha (=cult) during the rule of King Kundavarma Alupa (ca. 968 CE). The Natha cult sprang from the Mahayana school of Buddhism but revived the Shaiva tradition. It marks the waning stages of Buddhism in southern India and transition of faiths from Buddhism back to mainstream Hinduism. The Jogis and the Jogi Mutt of Kadri are involved with the administration of Kadri temple since historical days. The place was known as ‘Kadarika Vihar’ during the hay days of Buddhism in Mangalore. The word ‘Natha’ means lord, owner or God.
The name Manjunatha generally means the Lord of the Snow (Himalaya or Kailasa). But, in the evolutionary terms, originally it may be the Natha representation of Manju Ghosh (Manjushri) Bodhisattva, a key disciple of Gautama Buddha. In the later case it follows that the Kadarika Vihara initiated as centre of spirit worship that eventually graduated into the worship of Lord Shiva, the Manjunatha.

Mangala of Pingala
Most of the published materials suggest that the name ‘MangaLoor’ or ‘MangaLur’ came after Malabar queen ‘Mangale’ came to this town and died here. We may have to make small corrections in this anecdote, after perusing the version provided by Jogi Anandanath (2003) of Kadri Jogi Mutt.

The queen who relinquished her regalities and followed Jogi Gorakshanath to Kudala was ‘Pingaladevi’ ( not Mangale or Mangaladevi ) according to Jogi Anandanath. Her original place was described as ‘Strirajya’(literally means ‘Womens kingdom’, possibly an allegory for the matriarchial, women dominated state in Kerala).She was disciple of Jogi Matsendranath and was the first Yogini (=female Jogi). She was actively involved in the propagation and activities of the Natha-pantha and introduced several female disciples to the Natha cult.
On the occasion of Kumbha mela at Triambakeswar, near Nasik, Maharastra, she was traveling from Kerala on foot with Jogi Goraksha Natha along the coastal path to attend the festival that recurs every twelve years. (The number twelve has auspicious significance in the Natha cult). Goraksha Nath was the eminent disciple of Matsendra Nath. Goraksha Natha halted in the southern part of (present Mangalore) town near Jeppu by installing his ‘danda’(ceremonial stick), at a place that became known as ‘Goraksha danD’.
Queen Pingaladevi attained ‘mangala’ in a nearby location. (Attaining ‘mangala’ apparently is an idiom used by Natha Jogis for death. Like Veerashaivas use the word ‘lingaikya’ or ‘shivaikya’ for death.).The specific timeline has not been given in the report for any of these events.
The word ‘mangala’ has several meanings, like (a) auspicious-[ceremony,marriage etc]- (b) fort (c) end (end part of events like bhajana session or yakshagana) and (d) end of life (death).
Thus, the location where ex-queen Yogini Pingaladevi attained ‘mangala’ (=end of life) was later named as ‘Mangalapura’ and a shrine was built there.
It follows that the worship of Mangala was initially a spirit cult in honour of the expired Yogini. Subsequently in the history, the Mangaladevi was accepted as a form of Durga or Shakti. Thus this is a clear case of eventual conversion of spirit cult into deity cult of mainstream Hinduism.

Jogi Anandanath (2003) “Nathapantha kStetra Jogi maTa, Kadali, MangaLoor”.(in Kannada). Natha pantha prachara samiti, Mangalore. p.10+99.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


The Southern part of Kudremukh hills,in Sahyadri ranges. Two views from Mittabagilu village, Beltangadi taluk,Dakshina Kannada.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

76. The Bhagavathi cult

The worship of Bhagavathi is popular and widespread in Kerala and the southern part of Karavali areas traditionally dominated by matri-archial system of families. The cult of Bhagavathi often transcends the spirit worship and overlaps into the field worship of Mother Godess or the Shakti. Thus a fusion of the cults of the Spirits and Godesses can be seen. In Kerala, the Bhagavathi worship is a part of Teyyam (spirit) worship.

The word Bhagavathi has interesting connotations and history. It is said to be the product of Buddhist heritage of southern India. The word Bhagavathi appears as female equivalent (Godess) of the word Bhagavantha, the God. However, the word ‘Bhaga’ basically has dual meanings such as: (1) prosperity and (2) female genitalia. Thus, shades of primitive genital worship notions can be found in the word. Thus the ‘Bhagavathi’ essentially stands for honorable woman, the creator and a symbol of prosperity.

Tantric origin
The second meaning of the word, the allusion to genitalia, is remnant of the Tantric origin of the Bhagavathi concept. During the course of evolution, Mahayana Buddhism developed a branch known as Vajrayana. The Vajrayana philosophy revolved around the sexually oriented tantric yoga that emphasized the occult worship of generative (reproductive) organs. In this cult, codes were used to refer to the genitalia. The word ‘vajra’(=diamond scepter) was a code for phallus and ‘padma’(=lotus) for the vulva. The germinal Buddhist mantra ‘Om mani padme hum’ is explained as code for sexual union, where the term, ‘mani’(=jewel) represents the male organ.

Tara Bhagavathi
The Bhagavathi cult was in vogue during 9th century, since a specific reference to the cult appears in the writings of the Kannada poet Pampa (born.902 AD)
The Kodangallur in Kerala is considered to be one of the oldest Bhagavathi shrines. The area appears to be originally was a Buddhist shrine devoted to the worship of Tara Bhagavathi, a Buddhist Godess. Tara is Buddhist form of Kali .The Bhagavathi cult possibly, initiated as a part of the Tantric Vajrayana practice within the Buddhism. With the downfall of Buddhism in south India and under the dominant matriarchial setting, it was gradually sanctified and absorbed into the mainstream Hindu cult of Shakti and Spirit worship.

In Jainism the mother Godess is worshipped in the form of Padmavathi. With the Padma (=lotus) being a code for feminine sexuality as in texts of Vajrayana Buddhism, it appears that Tantric sexual cults with passage of time evolved in to honorable Mother Godess worship in Hindu as well as Jain philosophies..

Parallel schools
The worship of Durga, Bhagavathi and Padmavathi in Hindu, Buddhist and Jain philosophies respectively shows that similar theologic concepts developed in these religions during the historical period of 7th to 10th centuries.

Template for Divinity
The post-Buddhist Bhagavathi is a divine concept. It is not a single identity, with a sequence of martyred women occupying the status of Bhagavathi-hood. Dr.Amrita Someswara has pointed out that it is a multiple identity consisting of many Bhagavathi-s consecrated during different time periods and backgrounds. Thus, the concept of Bhagavathi has perpetuated as a template for attribution of divinity or the spirit-hood to notable women after their death.

Multiple Bhagavathis
The Bhagavathi at present is not a single identity. Several forms of Shakti and numerous martyred women are being worshipped under the form of Bhagavathi in different parts of the south India. Some of the renowned Bhagavathis are Anka Kulangara Bhagavathi, Kodangallur Bhagavathi, Pullurali Bhagavathi, Agrasahala Bhagavathi, Karingali Bhagavathi, Ambala Kadavil Bhagavathi, Cheerumba Bhagavathi, Dayaramangala Bhagavathi, Kaapad Bhagavathi, Ponnakal Bhagavathi, Kannamangala Bhagavathi, Kalarathri Bhagavathi, Mucchalotu Bhagavathi, etc.

Forms of Shakti/Durga
Similarly there are numerous Bhagavathis inspired from or bearing relation to the Shakti or Durga cult like Agni Chamundi Bhagavathi, Rakta Chamundi Bhagavathi, Rudra Chamundi Bhagavathi, Veera Kaali Bhagavathi etc. Godesses like Chamundi, Kaali etc have been considered to be various form of the Godess Durga or the Shakti.

Convergence of Spirit & Deity worships
The Spirit worship in Karavali-Malabar region was introduced about 800-600 BC. Subsequently, during the reign of major Kings like Kadamba, Chalukya and other Kings the institutionalized (well-organized Temples) worship of several forms of Deities (Shiva-Ganesha-Vishnu-Durga) was introduced with effect from 4th century AD. Since then Deity and Spirit worships continued to survive at different social levels among the folks of West Coast.
Bhagavathi cult bridged the narrow gap between the two parallel schools of worship during post 10 century period, leading to distinct convergence of Deity and Spirit worships.


1.The early Tulu tribes originated in northern Africa, under adverse environmental conditions migrated (c.2000 BC) and settled at Pirak in central Asia (upto c.800 BC) and further migrated to the present Tulunad where they eventually assimilated with the pre-existing early Munda tribes.
The outlined coeval history is also shared by the other early South Dravidian sister tribes like Tamils,Kannadas and Malayalees.

2.The Karavali (and major part of southern India) displays vestiges of an older substratum of early Munda lingual and cultural heritage that eventually merged with the immigrant early Tulu (and early Dravidian) lingual-cultural phase around ca. 400-700BC.

3.The Karavali (and major part of southern India) displays vestiges of an older substratum of early Munda lingual and cultural heritage that eventually merged with the immigrant early Tulu (and early Dravidian) lingual-cultural phase around ca. 400-700BC.

4.Vestiges of Buddhism (ca. 300BC-1100 CE) that eventually fused into Shaiva cults, can be recognised in Karavali/Tulunadu and mainland areas of Karnataka.
The Natha cult, expressive in Kadire, Mangalore, (ca.9 to 10 century CE) possibly initiated the process of fusion of Mahayana - Vajrayana Buddhism with Shaiva philosophies in this part of India.

5. The period of Kadamba rule centered on Banavasi (Uttara Kannada) introduced the Temple culture in Tulunadu with accent on the worship of present mainstream Hindu deities like Subramanya,Shiva, Ganapati, Shakti/Durga Devi and Vishnu/Krishna etc.

6.Many of the older words in Tulu constitute verbal fossils of past history and culture. Analysis of some of the village names throw light on some of the extinct or assimilated tribes that inhabited this region in the past.

7.Alupa kings possibly hailed from the village called Alupe, near Mangalore. They were Pandi cargo boat-owners (Pandia) who amassed wealth and consequently acquired the title 'Shri Pandya Dhananjaya'.

8.Tulu language has preserved numerous ancient words in the place-names that have analogous old words in other parts of India. Detailed study and analyses of these words would help understand the early evolution of languages in India in a better perspective.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

75. Nitria

Greek reports dating back to the beginning centuries of the Christian era describe a port in the west coast of India named ‘Nitrias’ (in Pliny, ca.23-29 CE), or 'Nitra' (Ptolemy, ca.110 CE). Our historians like Manjeswara Govinda Pai have identified the port of ‘Nitrias’ or 'Nitra' as the port of ancient Mangalore.
The port name ‘Nitria’ has been related with the similar sounding name of River Nethravathy. The name ‘Nitria’ apparently related to the word ‘Nethra’, may have been originated due to eye (‘nethra’) shaped landform near the port of ancient Mangalore.
Possibilty 1
There was a historical town known as Nitria on the bank of River Nile in Egypt. There is a possibility that our historians may have misinterpreted location of Nitria described in the Greek report

Possibility 2
If we consider that the word Nitria was referring to the ancient Mangalore, the ‘Nitria’ does not appear to be a natural Tulu word. Accepting that the Greeks might have distorted the actual word, we may presume that the original native word may be something like ‘Nettara’ or ‘Nettaru’. Since Sanskrit had not taken roots in Karavali during the First or Second century CE, we can rule out the name ‘Nethra’. There are places known as Nettarakere near the River. There are also places pronounced ‘NeTTar’. The place names ‘Nettar’ in Nettara-kere may possibly be the original ancient word from Early Munda languages that gave rise to Nethra in later Sanskrit.
Similarly, the name of the River Nethravathy might not have been exactly like that during the said period. The River might have been renamed/ modified in the Sanskrit style after Fifth Century CE. The former name of the River might have been ‘Nettaral’ or something similar.
Before analyzing further on the word Nitria, it is necessary to verify the original Greek records for the nature of actual reference to the town Nitria

Monday, January 14, 2008

74. Alupa kings

Map showing the locations of ancient 'Alupe' and 'Kulashekara' in the eastern part of present Mangalore city. Blue shade represents interpreted river water (fluvial courses) of Nethravathy during the cited historical period.
One of the questions ignored by historians so far relates to the actual location of the capital or headquarters of the Alupa Kings. It is generally presumed that they were ruling from Mangalore town. But the fact is that there was no town called Mangalur in the beginning of the Christian Era. The name ‘Mangalapura’ or ‘Mangaloor’ came into being only after the Malabar Queen Mangale, who was traveling through the town, during late Ninth/early Tenth century CE, died here by ill-health.
Then, what was the name of the town before Tenth century CE?
The Tulunad was ruled by Alupa Kings, possibly since the beginning of Christian era till the region was occupied by the rule of Vijayanagara Kings. Nature of the word ‘Alupa’ has been discussed by many of the earlier historians. One of the interpretations suggested that Alupa was indicative chieftain status of the rulers that were generally subservient to the Kannada Kings. (‘aaLu’ (=rule) + ‘upa’ (=subordinate) or subordinate ruler).Some have suggested that Alupa name came from the ‘aluve’(estuary) of Mangalore city.
One of the important facts regarding the history of Mangalore town is that it has changed its geographic form several times during the last two thousand years! The two rivers Gurupur and Nethravathy joined together near the Sea, giving the name ‘Kudala’ to the town. The word Tulu word ‘Kudala’ means joined (= kooD ) rivers (=aala ).And these two rivers joined together near Kudroli in the past and not near Bengre and Ullal as it is at present!
Alupe Kings!
But the analysis of the available historical and spatial data shows that the Alupa Kings were not ruling from Kudala, but from Alupe! Yes, they were ruling from Alupe, so they were called Kings of Alupe. However, Kannada inscriptions and writers stylized the word ‘Alupe’ into ‘Alupa’. Consequently, the original Alupe town was totally ignored by the historians!
The ancient Alupe habitation still survives in eastern part of present Mangalore city, located between Kankanadi and Padil. The word Alupe, apparently, derived from Early Munda languages, means the town by the side of River.( Aal=river,+ upe=town, habitation. There are several similar sounding place names in the District: Alupe, Bajape, Didupe etc.).
Two of the Alupa Kings were called Kulashekara I and Kulashekara II (early 14th century CE). The place Kulashekara, north of Alupe in the present Mangalore city, is named after the said Kings.
It is suggested that archeologists and historians should investigate these Alupe-Kulashekara and surrounding areas for any possible clues and evidences for reconstruction of the past history.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

73. Satiyaputto-Satyapura

A rock epigraph of King Ashoka found at Girnar, written in Prakrit language describes several states of southern India under the control of Ashoka the Great. There is mention of Satiyaputto along with Ketalaputto. The Satiyaputto has widely been considered as the ancient Tulunad or Karavali since it is found associated with Ketalaputto (Kerala).

Timeline: ca.250 BC.Ashoka
Original of second rock inscription of Priyadarshi Ashoka in Prakrit is as follows:

“Sarvatra vijitammi devanam priyasa priyadasino raajno evamapi prachantesu yatha choDa paaDa satiyaputto ketalaputto aatamba paraNi antiyako yonaraajaye vaapi tasa antiya kasa saameepam raajano sarvatra devanam priyasa priyadasino dvechikeechakataa manusachikeechaa chapasu chiki chaacha osaDaani chayani manusopagaanicha pasopagaani chayata naasti saravatra haarapitani cha ropapiatni cha moolaani cha falaani cha yata yata naasti sarvatra haarapitani cha ropapiatni cha pandesu koopa khaanapita”

Translation of above(from an online source):

Everywhere within Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi's domain, and among the people beyond the borders, the Cholas, the Pandyas, the Satiyaputras, the Keralaputras, as far as Tamraparni and where the Greek king Antiochos rules, and among the kings who are neighbors of Antiochos, everywhere has Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, made provision for two types of medical treatment: medical treatment for humans and medical treatment for animals. Wherever medical herbs suitable for humans or animals are not available, I have had them imported and grown. Wherever medical roots or fruits are not available I have had them imported and grown. Along roads I have had wells dug and trees planted for the benefit of humans and animals.”

In the original it has been written as Satiyaputto. Putto in Prakrit is same as putra (as in Patali putra) or ‘pura’ in Sanskrit.
Hence, the word Satiyaputto can be considered as Satiyaputra or Satyapura.It follows that the Karavali/Tulunad was known as ‘Satyapura’ during Ashoka’s period ca.250 BC. The nature and origin of this epithet Satiyaputto has been discussed by many investigators.
The Tulu Spirit-Gods are generally referred to as ‘Satyolu’ (in the sense of ‘real, supreme powers’ or ‘supreme faiths’). From this line of usage, the place/State name ‘Satiyaputto’ may have been derived. Similar line of opinion has been expressed by Dr. Vamana Nandavar in his thesis on twin heroes ‘Koti –Chennaya’.
The word ‘Satyo’(=supreme power) might have originally been derived from the Early Munda languages, as was the words ‘Karam’ and ‘Dharam’.
The nearest reference to Satyapura occurs in Tulunada Siri PaDdana. The folklore (paDdana) of Siri revolves around the palace of Satyanapura. The exact historical time of Siri is not known, but reference to Satyanapura which corresponds with King Ashoka’s Satiyaputto is notable.
It seems the Satyanapura was a major landmark in the history of Karavali since the time of Ashoka (ca.250 BC), even though it is difficult at this juncture to decipher the original location of the Satyapura or the Satyanapura. The theme, apparently, was further repeated through the history for several centuries in the oral tradition of paDdanas.
Satyadevata - Satya-narayana
Theme of Satyolu was revived further along the timeline in the mainstream worship of Gods. Evolution of special Satya deities such as Satya- devata and Satyanarayana may be the byproducts of this saga of ancient ‘Satylou’.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

72. Tiruvail

Tulu people in the past history have paid devoted attention to their natural geographic environs and the changes in it. Changes in the natural river morphology have been recorded and preserved for posterity in the respective place names, in the sheer absence of written historical records or popular epigraphs. The village name ‘Tiruvail’ represents one such documentation of the natural phenomenon of historical drift in the drainage course of the River Gurupur (or Phalguni).
The name Tiru-vail appears like a name of Tamil origin for casual glance, something like Tiru Vale. (‘Tiru’ in Tamil represents the title ‘Shri’ and the Tamil word ‘Vale’ stands for ‘lance’ as in Velayuda. However, this may not be Shri lance as it appears.)
Geological evidences collated (by this author) reveal that River Gurpur was flowing in the Tiruvail -Vamanjoor - Kudupu valley during the Alupa period. Sometime in the early centuries of the Christian Era due to earth movements, the River Gurupur abruptly changed the orientation of its flow-path and began flowing along westerly course. The people living at that time in the area recognized this event and renamed the area as Tirugina voil or Tir-voil. The Tulu compound word Tiruvoil can be split as follows: Drifted/Turned(= Tirgina/Tirchina) + Flow (=Voi) of + the River (=Al).The Tulu word ‘voi-il’ (<. voi+al ) is normally used to describe the river flow.
Old river valley
The old fluvial course of the River Gurupur(shown in light blue shade in the above map)has totally dried up now and the only evidence remaining is that of a beautiful old river valley abandoned by the former course, but the name 'Tir(g)-Voil' still remains for the posterity to be reminded of the past historical event.

Friday, January 11, 2008

71. Barakur

Barakur is one the well known ancient States of Tulunad/Karavali. Under the reign of Vijayanagar kings the Karavali was divided into Mangalur and Barakur administrative units or States. Barakur is located near the confluence of Seetha and Swarna Rivers in Udupi district.
Baraha Kanyapura
What is the original meaning of the word and the place Barakur?
The Puranic style vogue in the region, explains the name as an abbreviation of the epithet ‘Baraha Kanyapura’ that translates glamorously into ‘the town of twelve virgins’. Naturally, there may be a matching anecdote in the Puranas to explain the exotic saga of the twelve virgins.
However, besides the Puranic lores, there is a more mundane explanation for the origin of this place name. It is simply Baraka + Ooru or the village of Baraka.
The word ‘Baraka’ initially appears as an unusual or less used Tulu word. However, it is definitely an ancient word. The African word ‘Baraka’ means ‘blessing’. The word exists in Egyptian, Swahili, Hebrew and Arabic languages. Several African places in Oman, Libya, Sudan, Sierra Leone and Eritrea are called Baraka. Even a river between Eritrea and Ethiopia is named Baraka. The word ‘baraka’ has been used in the Bible in the sense of ‘lightning.’ In French language ‘baraka’ represents lucky.
In northern India, in Sanskrit/Hindi the ‘barka’ means ‘rains’, possibly related to the Prakrit/Tulu word ‘barsa’(=rains). A river in Manipur, northeastern India, is known as the Baraka River.
Baraka, the estuary
There is also a lesser known word ‘baraka’ in northwestern India, possibly of Prakrit origin that means the gulf or marine creek of a river or simply the estuary. Tulu immigrants, may have borrowed this word, while migrating southward through the northern India. This particular meaning has geographic/geomorphic connotations that Tulu ancestors were fond of. Some of the Tulu moolasthans like those of Bangera(<.bengare), Suvarna(<.swarna) are located on the banks of the rivers Seetha-Swarna and the proximal Bengare-Hoode beach.
The town of Barakur is located on the eastern side of the confluence and estuary of the Rivers Seetha and Swarna. The imposing majesty and charm of the natural environment may have prompted the immigrants to name this place as ‘a village on the banks of Estuary’ or Barak+Oor.
For the above explanation in terms of geomorphology, a further proof would be in order. We have places named ‘Barke’. (This Barke is not same as the barke’ (=solid, sturdy) variety of jack fruits).
The Barke is an adaptation of the word baraka, discussed above. One such ‘Barke’ is located between Bokkapatna and Kudroli in Mangalore. The confluence and the estuary of Gurupur and Netravathy rivers was actually near Kudroli region in Mangalore during the past period of Vijayanagara reigns in the Karavali and then Bokkapatna was the location of the Port.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

70. Mayi-Kala in ancient Mangalore II

Where was the Buddhist ‘Mayi Kala’ located in the ancient town of Kudala/Mangalore? In the earlier days people had to enter Mangalore through boats that landed at the southwestern corner of Mangalore (or through the Railway, subsequently, in the British period). Therefore it is presumed that ‘Mayi Kala’ and the ancient township of Kudala (Mangalore) existed somewhere near the old port area.
Maya-Kala at Old Port
Vishwanath Hosabettu adds some authentic information on the Mayi Kala theme:
A piece of information about 'Mayi-kala', which I learnt during my earlier school days at native place:
Mayi-kala is a place where Bearys burnt wood in lots for preparing 'iddalu' for local consumption as well as for export by sailing ships near the old port areas of Kudala. Kala is a place for specific purpose/activity, as in 'bara-kala', meaning a place for pounding paddy to get rice.
It is true that Bearys perpetuated the word 'Mayi(Mai)-kala', as it is heard (‘Maikaltu poyi/ povu’) very often from Bearys, engaged in fish trade.

69.Kaipunjal and Kapu

Friend Vish recently visited his relatives at Kaipunjal near Kapu. His poser on the word ‘Kaipunjal’, prompted me to analyse the meaning of the word.
Tulu people evidently loved the geography of their land since ancient times. This is amply illustrated by the fact that most of the habitations have been named after the salient geographical/ geomorphological features of the area.
An explanation of the basic geomorphology of the Kaipunjal area, may help better appreciation of the word. The Kaipunjal habitation is north of Kapu village, located about 10 kilometers southwest of Udupi town. Udyavara river flows westerly towards the coast and further takes a long northward turn parallel to the coastline upto Malpe town, where it joins the Arabian Sea. There is a small southward blind tributary to River Udyavara that flows (or rather fills up) mainly during the rainy season. The name ‘Kaipunjal’ evidently refers to the seasonal inflated stream-limb.
The word Kai+punja+al therefore means tributary/branch (=‘kai’) of swollen/surged (=‘punja’) river (=‘Aal’). The word ‘punj/panj’, apparently derived from our ancient Munda heritage, is the root of Tulu words ‘panji’ (=swollen animal) as well as ‘panja’ and ‘punja’ (=raised/ inflated land).The word 'panja' still exists in Kui (Gondwana)langauage.
The word ‘Kapu’ means a reserved or protected area, possibly derived from the protected status of area during the period of regal armies. Possibly, an army of soldiers was kept at Kapu area during historical period when Udyavara was under the rule of Kings/Chieftains.

A ‘kapi-kad’ represented reserved forest of earlier days. A community of ancient guards is called ‘Kapu’ in Andhra Pradesh. The verb ‘kapu’(<.kapuni) in Tulu also means to wait.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Nature-scape ..4

Sahyadri range of hills at Charmadi,Belthangadi Taluk.

68. Pandavara kallu: Neolithic tombs

On the Bantwal –Belthangadi road, take a deviation at Madyanthar township off Uppinangadi cross road for about three kilometers, you shall reach Pandavara kallu, a site of archeological importance that forms a part of Badaga Kajekar village (Belthangadi taluk, Dakshina Kannada district.).
Archeological site
The name ‘Pandavara kallu’ (Stones of Pandava) has come from an odd group of stone structures consisting of erect slabs of granite, covered by flat slabs of granite. Eye witnesses inform that the structure was intact several years ago but now dilapidated with stone slabs scattered helter-skelter thanks to the intervention of land developers as well as irresponsible urchins. However, a local institution has put up a sign post declaring the area as historical monument.
The structure was called 'Stones of Pandavas' because of their large size. Local people believed that Pandava brothers on exile came and lived in this village for some time, hiding inside these stone structure specially created by them.
But this assumption of local people may not be true. The structure is a megalithic burial structure called ‘dolmen’ or ‘Sasandiri’.(Sasan=burial ground or ‘Smashan’; diri=erected stone slabs) among Munda tribes.Similar Neolithic 'dolmen' burial structures have been reported from different parts of the world. Malini Srivastava (2007) in a research paper, available online, describes the ‘Sasandiri’ burial structures prevalent among Munda tribes of Chotanagapur.
The stone burial structure (Sasindiri) at Pandavara kallu is a vestige of Early Munda culture that predated the present Tulu culture and civilization. It was a general practice among the early tribes to bury the dead, before the arrival of Tulu immigrants, ca. 800-600BC, who introduced the custom of cremating the dead bodies. The notion of cremation of dead bodies was initiated during the cemetery H culture of Indus valley.
There could many more such vestiges, unreported and lying in various stages of preservation in other remote corners of the District. Those who can recognize such structures should make it a point to report them promptly to the archeologists/historians for further studies.

Monday, January 7, 2008

67. Bunts and Nairs

Contributed by Narayana T.Shetty

The tulu proverb says ”mara puttinalpane, naramani poyinalpane” (tree remains where it grown, man remains anywhere he goes). But a curiosity to know our past, origin still remains in major parts of human beings, including Bunts.
According to paDdanas (oral tradition of tuluva legends) we came from aichatra maDastana. This ahichchatra according to “purananaama choodamani” is a city in uttara paamchaala country of Drupada, the father of Draupadi. This is in “Uttaranchala” state today which is surrounded by Tibet in north and Nepal on east. The city is now called “Ram Nagar”.
According to another legend ahikshetra was a place on the banks of Saraswati river. “ahi” means snake (chiefly serpent). It is believed that we Bunts were “naga or serpent worshipers prior to being buta/boota or spirit worshipers. Of course, we worship our ancestors in spirits (kule) too and thus have various ways/rituals to pray and remember them (agel to kulekulu, new dress to kulekulu, marriage of kule etc.). So there is reason to believe that bunts were mainly serpent worshipers and many groups of us might have come from north.
Nairs or Nayars and bunts belong to same cast. Like Bunts and Nadavas (and other tuluva people) Nairs too follow their own form of inheritance called Marumakkathayam, which is “ali katt”. Bunts have “Nayaranna bali” (bali = matriarchal lineage). Last ruler/king of Kanajar (a village in Karkala Taluk) was Nayar Hegde. In this village it was prohibited to take name of the king. So Kanajar folks always called the plough equipment commonly known as nayer/naver in tulu as guddal (from kannada ‘guddali’). The royal house (oMjane ill) of my village Kowdoor (adjacent to Kanajar) is “Naayara bettu”. Nayara is one of the 93 Bunts surname. Varma is a common surname of Nairs and Bunts.
According to K. M. Parinikar "The Nayars [Nairs] were not a caste, they were a race”. Some think nair is the honorific plural of nayan which is derived from the Sanskrit nayaka (leader).
Again “Nayak” is a Bunts surname, mainly from Nakre village in Karkala Taluk. Majority of Nadavas of North Canara have got surname Nayaka. Father of famous queen Chennamma was Siddappa Shetty and her husband was (Siva) Nayaka.
Others derive nair from the naga (snakes) which they worship. The Brahmin-inspired Keralolpathi regards them as the descendants of the Sudras who accompanied the Brahmin immigrants from outside Kerala. There is a theory that they came from the Nepal Valley, adjacent to Tibet. Some consider them to be early descendants of the Newars of Nepal. Serpent worship is one of common custom between the Newars and Nairs. Dr. Zacharias Thundy’s theory is that groups of Newars who were partially Aryanized and would be later Dravidianized joined the Munda exodus and finally settled down in Kerala after a long period of sojourn in the eastern plains of Tamil Nadu. The Nairs were in Kerala before the Brahmins arrived in the seventh century A.D. The Chera kings were Nairs, and the Nairs were also Dravidians and not Kshatriya Aryans; the Brahmins, in fact, considered them as Sudras.
If I am not wrong “Mundal” of Tulunadu and the “Munda” have same synonym.
There is also a belief that the Nairs are Nagas and were already present in Kerala when Namboodiris came to Kerala. Nairs were martial Dravidian Nagas who had migrated like them, from the North. Like Bunts, affinity of the Nair community to Serpents and Serpent worship is indisputable. The mythical version says that Nairs being Kshatriyas belonging to the Nagavansham who removed their “Janivara” (sacred thread) and escaped to south to evade Parasurama. In the old Tamil texts, the Nairs were mentioned as Naka (Naga) Lords who ruled as feudal lords in the Chera kingdom.

-Contributed by N.T.Shetty

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Topic Index : posts 1-66

Tulu language
1. Tulu Language: Origin and Evolution/Feb.07
13.The Tulu script: Origin and Revival/Apr 07
14. Evolution of the Kannada script. ./Apr 07
43.Evolution of Tulu language. ../Oct 07

Tulu words
2. Traces of Tulu-Kannada-Dravida words in ..Sumerian .. /Feb.07
5. Mundkur, Munder /Feb.07
7 .Banta, Bantu /March 07
8. Banta, Bantu II. /March 07
15. A charming Tulu word: naDeer. ./Apr 07
25.Pala and antiquity of Tulu words /June 07
36.Planets as Tulu proper names. /Sep 07
41.Origin of the word: Tulu I. ../Oct 07
42.Origin of the word: Tulu II. ../Oct 07
45.Origin of the word: Bant’ ../Oct 07
57.A word that traveled: Ayana./Dec 07
63.Baikampadi./Dec 07
64.Puraal and Polali./Dec 07
65.Mayi-kala at Mangalore/ Jan 08

Evolution- Migration-Pirak
3. Pirak,Prak and Prakrit /Feb.07
31.Tulu migration from Pirak1000-600BC. ./Aug 07
37.Early human migrations. /Sep 07
44.The scale of human migration.. ../Oct 07
46.Proto-Tulu migration Stage I ../Oct 07
48.Early Tulu Stage II: 2000-800BC../Oct 07
51.Stage III: Migration from Pirak. 800-500BC. ../Oct 07

Religious concepts/cults: Origin
4. Brahma worship. Brahma and Bermer./ Feb.07
6. Bermer II. /Feb.07
26.Origin of the concept of Brahma. /June 07
28.Significance of Brahma./Aug 07
32.Animal and Spirit worship /Sep 07
33.Brahma-Vishnu-Mahesha. /Sep 07
34.Ten incarnations of Vishnu. /Sep 07
35.Ancient Spirit worship: Horse-mounted Heroes. /Sep 07
50.The legend of Rama. ../Oct 07
54.The legend of Bali./Nov 07
60.The original Rama./Dec 07
62.Characterization of Spirits..1../Dec 07

9. The Moolasthana Concept. /April 07
18. Location of Moolasthanas ./Apr 07
19. Moolasthana. ./Apr 07
30.Multan and Moolasthana. ./Aug 07
66.Taravada concept

Fruits,Tubers and Food
10. Evolution of culinary habits./Mar 07
11. Boiled grains to steam cooked Idlis/Mar 07
12. Rotis: Early oil free roasted vegetarian food./Apr 07
20. Earliest popular fruit.:(Jack). ./Apr 07
21.Taste of Tulunadu. ./Apr 07
22. Taste of Tulunadu.2 ./Apr 07
23. Boiled grains to Idlis: An update. /May 07
24.Chakku palam>Jack fruit. /May 07
25.Pala and antiquity of Tulu words /June 07
27.The Sweet Potato. /June 07
29.The Rice: Vrihi and Arih. ./Aug 07
47.Mundevu (Pandanus). ../Oct 07
61.Native tubers/Dec 07

Mangalore geography -history
16. Mangalore: Kudla and Nitria. ./Apr 07
17. Historic Mangalore:Port of Bukkapatna. ./Apr 07

Evolution-Early Munda civilization
37.Early Human migrations/Sep 07
38.Earliest Indian tribes. /Sep 07
39.One human family../Oct 07
40.Early evolution of words and languages. ../Oct 07
49.Early human settlements in Southern India. ../Oct 07
52.Munda aborigines of Karavali./Nov 07
53.More on Munda influence on Tulu./Nov 07
55.Identity of Neolithic south Indians. /Nov 07
56.Assimilation of Indo-Aryans. /Dec07
58.Evolution of Early Communities./Dec 07
59.The less evolved ancient tribes/ Dec 07

Language and Culture /Feb.07
Random Ruminations /March 07
A Tulu stage play: Kariyajjerna Kathekulu. ../Oct 07

66.Taravada concept

The Nairs of Malabar have traditionally adapted to the custom of Taravada, which is a custom of reverence to the original joint-family house. The Nairs, are considered to have been immigrants from Nepal who settled in the West coast (Karavali and Malabar) during the early centuries of the Christian era. In Nepal they were known as Neyers, according to Zacharias Thundy. The immigrant Nair fraction settled in Tulunad adapted to farming and subsequently merged with local farmers, the ‘Okkelakulu’(Gururaja Bhat,1970). Thus as a consequence of assimilation of Nair fractions that followed Theravada customs, the Tulu farming community, now known as ‘Bunts or Nadavas’ have also adapted to the Taravada custom. This indirectly suggests that Buddhism was prevalent in Tulunadu, along with the cult of spirit worship, in the early centuries of the Christian Era.
Moolasthana and Taravada
The concept is chronologically later extension and evolution of the ‘Moolasthana’ concept. The ‘Moolasthana’ concept (origin and development: ca. 2000-800 BC) emphasized on the original place (hamlet or part of village) of settlement which was held sacred for the progeny of the particular group or clan (which may include several later formed communities).Whereas the Taravada or Theravada concept evolved during early Buddhist period, derived from the Theravada school (ca. 250 BC), concentrated on the reverence to the Family house of origin. The chronological evolution of notion of original habitation to original family house is notable.
Buddhist school
The concept and school of Theravada Buddhism, coincides with the life and times of King Ashoka. Theravada in Pali language means the ‘path of the elders’. [Theravada (Pali)> Sthavira-vada (Sanskrit)]. It is said that the Nairs were brought along with Brahmins by Kadamba King Mayura Sharma (ca.450 AD) to maintain newly built temples of Tulunadu. However, available evidences point to the existence of Buddhism in Tulunadu (Mayi kala and Kadarika Vihar, at Mangalore).Thus it is not clear at this moment whether the Buddhist concept of ‘Taravada’ was introduced to Tulunadu/Malabar by the Nairs or by other Buddhist monks that arrived here before the Nairs.
Gujarat connection
The word Taravada has several connections with Gujarat. Taravada, incidentally, is also the name of a village in the Amreli district of Gujarat. There is another Haripar Taravada village in Lodhika Tehsil of Rajkot district of Gujarat. In Gujarat, presently some Vaishnav Gurukuls like Swami Narayan are also called Taravada.

Friday, January 4, 2008

65. Mayi-kala at Mangalore

Left:An image of Queen Mayadevi in Nepali-Tibetan Art form

Who is the first patron Godess of Mangalore city? If you ask this question to any of the bright kids of this city, you are likely to get the answer: Mangaladevi. Yes, it is true that Mangalore city is named after a Queen of Malabar called ‘Mangale’ who visited this place in the early 10th century and expired here on account of her ill-health.
But, analysis of the available stray strings of historical data on Mangalore suggests that there was another Queen, who lent her name to the city before Mangale came here! That was, incidentally, the Queen Mayadevi of Lumbini, Nepal. Mayadevi was the mother of prince Siddartha who became famous as Gautama Buddha and founded the religion of Buddhism. During the initial phase of Buddhism, the Theravada school, there was no worship of idols or Gods. Further, during Mahayana period, Mayadevi and Buddha were worshipped. Mahayana school of Buddhism itself is said to have been originated in Southern India, as a result of movement to reach Buddhism to the masses ca.100 CE and became influential and active during 2nd to 5th century CE.
Mayi kala
A historical temple devoted to Mayadevi, mother of Gautama Buddha / Siddartha, is found in Lumbini, Nepal. During the early centuries of Christian Era the ancient Mangalore was evidently under the influence of Buddhism. A similar temple devoted to Mayadevi existed in the ancient Mangalore city, somewhat built in the local style of ‘saana’ or ‘kaLa’ devoted to spirits. Possibly, here she was worshipped as a spirit Godess. The Tulu word ‘kala’ is derived from the Early Munda language, meaning ‘a holy field’ (temple or ‘saana’) devoted to spirits. The ‘Mayi-kala’, the ‘kaLa’ devoted to Mayadevi (‘Mayi’) existed in heart of ancient town of Mangalore.
It is customary to designate localities using names of nearest landmarks. For example, the locality name ‘Hampana-katta’ in Mangalore was derived from a small ‘katte’( a rectangular structure for sitting under the shade of a tree) used by one philanthropic Appanna, some hundred year ago, to dispense drinking water to the passers by. Similarly the ‘Lalbagh’ locality in Mangalore is named after a house in the locality called ‘Lalbagh’!
In this way, the town area around Mayi kala was called Mayi kala. The name Mayi kala was applied to the old town of Mangalore. The said Mayi kala (place of Buddhist worship) may have been destroyed later due to change of faiths by the rulers or due to dominance of other schools of religious thoughts.
Nepal connection
The existence of a temple devoted to Mayadevi at Mangalore, suggests transfer of people, ideas and relations between Nepal and Mangalore on the West Coast during the early centuries of the Christian Era.
Beary community
The members of the Beary merchant community of Karavali and Malabar, who frequented the ancient township around Mayi kala, used this word to refer to the city of Mangalore since historical days and continue to use the word ‘Maikala’ even today, while other communities have totally forgotten about the origin or significance of the word Maikala.
In this way, the Bearys have preserved a significant string in the historical and cultural vestige of ancient Mangalore, and an evidence for prevalence of Buddhism in Tulunadu during ethe Early centuries of the Christian Era.

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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