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.

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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 Dr P Gururaja Bhat (1975).Milagres College,Kallinapur,Udupi.
  • Taulava Sanskriti by Dr.B.A.Viveka Rai, Sahyadri Prakashana,Mysore 1977
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  • 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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