Friday, February 29, 2008

98. Changes in Gurupur River mouth, 1887

A reconstruction of Mangalore, without barrier spit, before the year 1887

Do you know that the barrier spit west of Mangalore city, known as Bengare, was formed by the shifting of Gurupur river mouth, only 120 years ago?
The shape of a river is formed by its usual flow channel. Do you have an impression that the present shape (morphology) or the location of flow path of rivers is a permanent feature of landmark?
Changing river morphology
The rivers and their shapes are guided by the nature of surrounding landforms and these are bound to change in response to any earth movements. The coastal rivers of India have changed their shapes several times in their life history!
The rivers of Tulunadu or coastal Karnataka are not an exception to this rule! Especially the Gurupur River that surrounds Mangalore has changed several times during the last three millennia.

Sultan battery

Interestingly, one such change occurred in 1887 during the British rule of Mangalore. Tippu Sultan conquered Mangalore during the late eighteenth century and built a battery at Mangalore, known as Sultan’s Battery to store ammunitions to be used against invaders from the Sea. The battery was built facing the mouth of or entrance to Gurupur River from the Arabian Sea at that time. (The Mangalore port was near Bokkapatna during the Vijayanagara period).

Shifting of River mouth
One fine rainy day in the year 1887, the Gurupur River decided to change the way it was flowing into the Sea till then. Instead of flowing into the Sea directly near Tannirbavi, opposite Sultans battery, it changed its fluvial course, flowed straight south towards the mouth of River Nethravathy some five kilometers south and joined the Sea along with Nethravathy. The whole change occurred instantaneously, without advance notice, in response to an earth movement! Thus, consequently a sand spit was newly formed between Mangalore city and the Arabian Sea.

And this event occurred in the year 1887.The historical change of river mouth produced a new barrier spit parallel to the coastline, bordering the Sea, now known as Bengare.

Reference: Mangalore City Municipality Centenary Souvenir 1866-1966.
An anonymous compiler in the Centenary souvenir of Mangalore city Municipality (1966) has enlisted this notable event, possibly based on an older (British) version of the District gazetteer
Acknowledgement: Thanks to Shri Sheena Moolya for providing the reference material.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

97. Siri paDdana : A Tulu Sangham Epic

Antiquity of the Siri paDdana dates back to the period of Tamil Sangham literature. There are several Pali proper nouns in the Siri paDdana that show the backdrop of Buddhism during the composition of the oral epic. Buddhist elements have also been recognized in the environs of Tamil Sangham. The word Sangham (=association) itself is a word associated with Buddhism.
Tulu Sangham
Analogy between the Siri paDdana and the story of Kanaki in Sangham literature suggests that both epics were two different regional versions been built on the same story element. As noted by Peter Claus “there are some tantalizing similarities between the Siri cult and that of Pattini, and also between the Siri legend and that of Kanagi (Pattini)”.The similarity of story element in the Sangham Kanaki and Tulu Siri, leads us to conclude that the composition of Siri paDdana was contemporary of Tamil Sangham literature.
This leads us to visualize a period of an oral tradition of literary association that flourished for some time before Christ in Tulunadu that can be designated as Tulu Sangham. The Tulu Sangham tradition apparently added subsequent sequels in the due course like (a) Abbaga-Daraga and (b) Mayaga-Maipage to the original Siri paDdana by different bards. Minor contradictions in the different sequels possibly point to compositions by different bards at different times.

Sonne and others
Sonne is the name of daughter of Siri, the tragedy heroine. The meaning of Sonne is not zero! Sonna means gold in Pali language. The Hindi Sona and Sanskrit Suvarna are related to this word. Similarly, the proper names like Mayage (<=Mayakka), Maipage (Mayi-page) suggest Buddhist influence during the composition, the Maya(devi) being the name mother of Gautama Buddha. Even,the place names Lokanadu or Lankanadu evince Buddhist flavours. Other proper nouns Gindi (=bronze kettle type of vessel), Abbaga (=constellation of Krittika), Daraga (=constellation of Mrigashira) are not found in common Pali names and may be the usual Tulu female names in usage at that time. The usage of (male) period surnames in the paDdana like Alva, Ballaveru, Marla and Thola needs further analysis.

Chenne, the game
The word chenne is derived from the Pali word that means to relish, but the game and the cult evidently has been imported by the Tulu immigrants. Folklorist Peter Claus concludes that many of the elements found in Tulunad were imported along with the game as sort of historical baggage. The earliest representation of the game in Egypt would suggest that the game originated in the Middle East and traveled along trade routes even before Christ. The game symbolizes intelligence and cunningness and is played among peers. In India and Africa the game is represents rites connected with puberty and marriage.

Though Pali words connected with Buddhism make interesting backdrop in the Siri paDdana, the ruling deity is Bermer, the ancient spirit God of Tulu people. The Shiva and Parvathi appear as characters in a sequel of the PaDdana, but there is no indication of their worship. Possibly the Siri PaDdana predates the period of initiation of Shiva worship.
The chief character of the paDdana, the landlord of Satyanapura is also called ‘Berma’ Alva .or ‘Berma’ Ballaveru in a sequel. Initially, he is issueless and the suggestion he gets is that his problem would be resolved if he arranges for the renovation of Bermer shrine.

Time and Tides
This leads us to interpret that Bermer worship was grossly neglected during the ascent of Buddhism in Tulunadu. The initial Buddhism being a religion without Gods, the people neglected the cult of Bermer and spirit worship that was prevalent among them. The bards of Tulu Sangham contemplated to revive the neglected Bermer worship on the wake of ascent and spread of Buddhism in the region. The story of Siri paDdana revolves around adultery and prostitution that was the major concern of thinkers of that period. Apparently, to discourage women pursuing paths of adultery, like their errant husbands, the bards poetically conceived special dignity and powers (to curse or bless) to women following paths of disciplined life.


Sunday, February 24, 2008

96. Samana-samani-savana

Some more discussion on the words: Samana, Samani and Savani. Hosabettu Viswanath has pointed out the analogy between the words Samani and Savani. He also cited related surnames like Somani among Gujarathis and frequency of proper names like Soman in Kerala. The Wiki on Shramana provides some additional leads on the word.

Shramana> SamaNa (Pali, Prakrit) means wandering ascetic. The Shramana ascetic wandering movement was founded by Mahavira and Gautama Buddha. The word was apparently used by Buddhists as well as Jains owing to similarity (asceticism) of their faiths. It is opined that the word Samaņas (wandering monks) were more common during the early phase of Buddhism. The word was less used after the Vihara (Buddhist monasteries) were established and the wondering monks preferred to settle down. Related words like Samanera, Samaneri (=novice Buddhists), Sikhamānā (= Buddhist novice nun) were also used.
The Tulu/Kannada word ShikhamaNi may have been influenced by the Buddhist word Shikamānā.
The word Samanaeans was used by Greek philosopher Porphyry (233-305CE).The word Samanis was related to or influenced by the usage Samanaeans or vice versa. Possibly the word Samani was used for nuns.On the other hand, Jain ascetics earlier were usually known as Nighanta.Tamil Jains call themselves Samanar.

The medieval Jains used the word Sravana>Savana more commonly than Samana or Samani. Sravana-belagola is a good example. Savaņur as well as Sāŋur (near Karkala) are derived from the same source.

However, there were no airtight demarcations between the two religions -Buddhism and Jainism-as far as usage of words are concerned as some of the Jain nuns even now have titles like Samani.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

95. Chenne or Mangala games

Chenne (or Chenne mane) game was popular in the rural Tulunadu since the time of Siri or even before. It is played on a wooden board with two parallel rows pf pits. The game is played using large seeds of local trees like that of ponge/pongar or coral tree.
However this ancient game is not unique or original to Tulunadu. It is played widely in many parts of the world and there are some two hundred or more versions with as many names for the game! Now, they are generally known as Manqala (also spelt as ‘Mancala’) group of games.
Manqala games have been considered to have originated somewhere in central Africa ca. 5000 BC, according to the evidence gathered by National Geographic sponsored archaeological diggings. The word Manqala is derived from the Arabian root ‘naqala’ that means to move. Some of the names for different variants of the game include Adji-Boto, Adjito, Awale, Awari, Aware, Awele, Bantumi, Bao,Congklak, Dakar, Dao, Dara, Darra, Endovoi, Geshe, Halusa, Jodu, Kalaha, Kalah, Kale, Kalle, Lamlameta Mangala, Mandoli, Omweso,Oware, Ot-Tsjin, Solo, Songo Duala, Vai Lung Thlan, Wari, Warri,Wouri etc.
A variant of the game played in Turkey is known as ‘Mangala’! Also note, for the sake of curiosity, that it is also called Kalah in parts of Africa. The word ‘kalah’ has shades of resemblance to the Tulu word ‘kala’ (=field).
A wealth of data is available on the internet on Manqala group of traditional games. Also a number of modified and modernized versions of the games ahave been evolved to suit the modern tastes.
The game variant ‘Lamlameta’ played in Ethiopia is quite similar to Tulu game of Chenne (Cenne) according to Peter Claus.
The antiquity and distribution of the Manqala group of games and their similarity to the ancient Tulu game of Chenne, clearly suggest that the game concept originally evolved in Africa-Mediterranean region was brought to Tulunadu by early Tulu immigrants, possibly corresponding with the broad period of immigration ca. 750-500BC as discussed in the early posts in this blog.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

94. Antiquity of Siri

The living oral ballads in Tulu language known popularly as paDdanas are unwritten ancient documents that evolved along with the Tulu people, culture and language over a prolonged period of time. They not only reflect the poetic emotive talents of our ancestors, but are also mirrors of the changing culture, values and ethos of our people.

Evolved paDdanas
But the paDdanas that survived amidst us at present are the intensely evolved versions. Since paDdana are orally transmitted folk ballads generation to generation, it is logical to expect modifications over the years reflective of the environmental perspectives of the person reciting it. In the current digital parlance, they can be compared to the Microsoft Windows Vista or the Adobe Photoshop CS3. I take the liberty of this odd comparison just to convince you the difficulty of visualizing and reconstructing the earliest version of paD-danas using the current versions. And given the prolonged evolutionary history Tulu people incurred the oldest, original form of any paDdana is nebulous to decipher. Still there are some glowing indices in the current versions of paDdanas that through light on their antiquity and overall Tulu cultural evolution.

Ancient Siri paDdana
The evidences discussed below permit me to propose that the original version of the Tulu paDdana on Siri may have been orally composed during ca. 300 BC or earlier.

The first proof: King Ashoka’s Girnar rock edict in Pali language (ca.300 BC) describes a southern State of ‘Satiyaputto’ that can be translated as Satyapura. The name of the palace in the Siri paDdana, Satyanapura is akin to Satyapura or Sati(y)aputto.
Now there are no towns having the name of Satyanapura in Tulunadu. However, it can be presumed that ‘Satyanapura’(.>Satiaputo) was a prominent Tulu City-State during the period of King Ashoka.

2.Siri -A Pali word
Second proof of the antiquity of Siri is the word itself. Siri is the heroine of the Siri paDdana. The name Siri is not commonly used name for present day Tulu females.
The word ‘Siri’ exists in Tulu language and it means tender leafy shoot of a plant like coconut palm. In Pali language the word Siri represented the Godess of luck.There is some parallelism between the two meanings: (1) tender shoot (Tulu) and (2).luck (Pali). The growth of tender shoot (Siri) is perceived as lucky.
Normally, we are taught in schools that the word ‘Siri’ is the derivative (‘tatbhava’) of the Sanskrit word ‘Shri’. But this is questionable and the truth may be the other way round, since the mythology of Lord Vishnu and his wife Shri (Lakshmi) evolved as late as 500BC or still later. The Pali and related Prakrit language existed before Vedas and it can be considered logically that Sanskrit (= refined) was a refined, evolved language after the older Prakrit (=natural) language. Since, it can be established that religious cults have borrowed from each other, it can be proposed that ‘Siri’, the Godess of luck of early Buddhist period, eventually evolved into ‘Shri’, the Godess of wealth.
To summarize: Siri.> Shri.
Thus the Pali word ‘Siri’ in the said PaDdana displays unmistakable shadows of early Buddhism in the early Tulu history dating back to ca.300 BC.

3. Ancient cult of Possession.
Third proof for the antiquity of the original Siri paDdana is the persistence of the ancient cult of possession attached to the Siri festivals.
The annual celebration of Siri festival is quite unique and unlike other kola, nema etc celebrations associated with other Tulu spirits. It is a celebration of the ancient art of trances or possessions. This cult was prevalent during the early history of the southern India and is well documented in Tamil Sangham literature that is estimated to have been compiled between the periods ca.200BC to 200AD.George Hart discusses some aspects of the cult of possessions described in Sangham literature.

4. Chenne mane: An ancient game
Peter Claus reports that Chenne Mane, a rural game associated with the Siri cult (or Mancala game as known in other parts of India and Srilanka) is known to have been played by rural folks since ca.200 BC. The game is prevalent in parts of Africa and Middle East, a fact suggestive of origin of the game in Africa-Mediterranean region. The game may have been brought to Tulunadu by the Early Tulu immigrants.

Evidently, the Siri paDdana has evolved extensively since its inception during early years of Buddhism in Tulunadu. The implicit indications of Jainism attached to it in the current versions of Tulu Siri paDdana are only reflective of the theological evolutions in the Tulunadu with the passage of times.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

93. Pedestrian journeys

In the olden days walking was an essential part of life. Now it has been reduced to a dignified exercise designed to burn the extra calories we tend to accumulate.
It can be hardly believed now that most of the human migrations in the history were covered on foot. Here is an example of Natha ‘Zhundi’ to remind us how our ancestors covered long distances by walk systematically over a prolonged period.
Natha Zhundi
The Kumbha Mela at Triambakesvar (now, Maharastra) recurs once in every twelve years. Twelve regional heads of Natha (Barapanth) monks assemble at Triambakesvar during the Mela and customarily elect the Natha monk to head Kadire Jogi Mutt for the next duration of twelve years. Following the selection, a ritual holy vessel (the ‘patra devata’) is handed over to the newly elected chief of Kadire Matt and a troupe of some 600 to 700 Natha monks used to commence their long pedestrian journey from Triambakesvar to Kadire in Mangalore, a distance of about 1150 kilometers.
The pedestrian troupe covers the distance in about six month time. They halt and rest in some 78 places before reaching the destination,Kadire. Jogi Ananda Nath (2003) describes the 'Zhundi' and lists the rest points between Triambakesvar and Kadire as follows: 1.Nasik 2.Saikheda 3.Sinnar 4.Drodibudrak 5.Nadursigot 6. Sangamner 7.Haibargaon 8.Chandanapuri 9.Dolsa 10.Dhargaon 11.Peepalbandi.12.Gunjalvadi. 13.Arti. 14.Savargaon. 15.Paunda. 16. Chincholi. 17.Khilarwadi. 18.Mahalunge. 19.Badagaon..20.Manchar. 21.Khedagaon 22.Chakan 23.Mosi 24.Bhosari 25.Pune 26.Aranyesvar 27.Bairavanala 28.Hadapsara 29.Sasvad 30.Bhivandi 31.Kikvi 32.Sivale 33.Buij 34.Udthara 35.Satara 36.Koregaon 37.Kumata 38.Rahimathpur 39. Ogalewadi. 40.Karad. 41.Vadagaon..42.Macchendragad..43.Islampur. 44.Retaredharan..45.Battis Sirala 46.Mangalegaon. 47.Mohuregaon. 48.Kollapur .49.Gandhinagar. 50.Kagal. 51.Nippani. 52.Sankeswar. 53.Belgaum depot. 54.Belgaum city.55.Khanapur. 56.Donagregaon.57.Kharola.58.Balevadi.59.Londa. 60.Handibadanga..61. Nagargali. 62.Godagiri. 63.Mangalvad. 64.Haliyal. 65.Keralkatte. 66.Sambarani. 67.Yellapura. 68.Manchagiri. 69.Sirsi. 70.Chandragutti.71.Sagara. 72.Hosanagara. 73.Nagara. 74.Halavari. 75.Barkur. 76.Udupi. 77.Mulki. 78. Panambur.

Consistent long pedestrian journeys were a common feature in the historical past.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

92. Avalokitesvara @ Kadire

The charming bronze idol in the Kadire Manjunatha temple represents the Avalokitesvara (or Lokeswara), a former Bodhisatva, who was considered as embodiment of compassion and an incarnation of Buddha during the Tenth century CE.
In Nepal, Macchendra Nath is being worshipped as an incarnation of Avalokitesvara, a form of Buddha modeled after Shiva. It appears that Alupe King Kundavarma installed the bronze idol during ca.968-1068 CE posthumously in honour of Macchendra Nath whose cult was absorbed into Vajrayana Buddhism and was worshipped as Avalokitesvara in Nepal and other areas. The date of installation of the idol written in the inscription at the bottom of the idol has been interpreted as 968 CE by Dr. Gururaja Bhat, whereas Manjeswara Govinda Pai reinterpreted the date as 1068 CE.
The idol reflects the art of bronze casting that was perfected in Tamilnadu during the Chola period of ca.850-1150 CE. The bronze might have been cast in situ at Kadire or brought from the Chola kingdom.
Macchendra Natha
A chronological recapitulation: Macchendra Natha, a disciple of Adinatha, who founded the Shaiva Natha cult, a school of Hatha Yoga, came from Chandragiri in Bengal to Kadire by walk around the early tenth century CE, with his disciple Gorakh Natha and settled near the Buddhist monastery known as Kadarika Vihar, near Kadire, in Mangalapura. Natha historians claim that Macchendra and Gorakh along with some of their contemporaries discovered the Kundalini system of Yoga which was advancement over the older Patanjali Yoga. The Jogis of Natha cult are known for traveling widely all over the country. Natha cult was practiced by ‘split-ear mendicants’ who wore large circular rings in their ears.(Victor M Fic, 2003) Macchendra also founded the Kaula cult at Triambakeswar, in present Maharastra. During the Tenth century Karnataka, according to Kavi-raja-marga, is said to have spread from River Kavery to River Godavary, encompassing the present Maharastra.
After his death, the Natha cult of Macchendra was absorbed into Vajrayana Buddhism, which was also known for experiments in Tantra. The Natha cult also influenced the Baula cult (Sufism). Jnaneswar or Jnanadeva (b.1275 – d.1296 CE) was a disciple of Natha cult, but later his disciples founded the Warakari cult

Manju Natha
Macchendra while at Kadire installed a memorial stone in memory of his departed son Manju Natha in the tradition of spirit worship that was vogue in the region. The selection of the name ‘Manju’ shows combined influence of native Tulu word ‘manji’ (=dew, snow, fog) and Buddhist Pali word ‘manju’(=beautiful, charming).Following Macchendra’s incarnation as Avalokitesvara, the Manju Natha was regarded as incarnation of Manjusri, the Buddha of Wisdom, or Buddhist equivalent of Lord Brahma of Hindu pantheon. A bronze idol of Manjusri was installed. The township around the temple was designated Manjarur. The name Manjarur has been recorded by Arabian travelers like Ibn Battuta during 1342 CE.
With passage of time the native spirit worship was absorbed into the mainstream Hinduism and Manjunatha was regarded as a form of Lord Shiva. The Manjunatha temple is estimated to have been built around 14th century CE by Dr. Gururaja Bhat.

Thus Kadire Manjunatha temple is a window to the theological heritage of Mangalore, a convergence of cascading transitions of overlapping religious cults of Buddhist, Natha, Spirit and Shaiva traditions.

91. Govinda Pai on Alupe

In an earlier post, I proposed that Alupa kings, were referred to as ‘Alupa’ because were actually from Alupe village in the eastern part of Mangalore.
A cross-reference to a published research note by Manjeswara Govinda Pai, in his reprinted paper in Tulu Sahitya Charitre, hints to me that Govinda Pai also did propose a similar suggestion earlier.

I am in search of his paper….

Sunday, February 17, 2008

90. Mangala

The sheer range of meanings the word Mangala carries provides us some insight into the nature of evolution it has undergone through the ages.
1. The word Mangala evidently began its career as a male name. Early Buddhists used it extensively. One of the incarnations of Buddha was known as Mangala. Later, several monks, Bhikkus, were also called Mangala as recorded in the Pali literature. In Srilanka, Mangala is a very frequently used name.
2. However the word Mangala is not exclusive property of Indians. Some of the African males carry the word ‘Mangala’ as part of their name or surname. The word may be of quite ancient origin having a remote African or Mediterranean heritage.
3. One of the Bantu languages is called Mangala. The Bantu word ‘Ngala’ possibly refers to language as there are related Bantu words signifying allied languages such as ‘Bangala’ and ‘Lingala’.
4.According to the folklore of Tanzania, Mangala is the first man created on Earth
5. Some towns in Africa are called either Mangala or Mangalane (Mozambique).
6. The original meaning of the word Mangala appears to be reddish coloured. The reddish planet Mars was called Mangala.
7. Cats having a reddish or mixed, variegated colour are called ‘mangu pucche’ or ‘mangle’ in Tulu.
8. The word Mangala was associated with war. The God of war Mars was named Mangala.
9. The military camping grounds during the regal wars were called Mangala. The war was waged with an aspiration of the success in the expedition. The name of Mangalur for the city of Mangalore came from the Mangala, the camping ground used by the armies of Pandyas and Chalukyas during early eighth century CE.
10. The Mangala was used for the forts built for security around King and his palace. Thus several fort towns in ancient India and Srilanka were called Mangala.
11. The aspiration of success in war possibly led to attachment of feeling of auspiciousness to the word Mangala. The Mangala came to be associated with the meaning of auspiciousness.
12. Auspicious marriage ceremonies were called Mangala in several of the Indian languages, like Malayalam, Kodava and Tulu. In Tulu Mangala was later distorted to Mangila, evidently to accommodate other meanings implied by the word.
13. Several religious or quasi religious ceremonies were known as Mangala. Buddhists ear piercing ceremony was called Mangala.
14. Tulu people use Mangala(m) to refer to safe and successful completion of missions, assignments or ceremonies. The concluding part of a traditional devotional singing (Bhajana) session or a folk drama (Yakshagana) play are called Mangala, meaning the end.The conclusive chant" Mangalam, Jaya Mangalam" in Tulu ceremonies appears to be derived from the Buddhist heritage in the past.
15. The followers of Natha cult extended the conclusive part of the ceremony to refer to the ceremonial obituary customs associated with Natha monks and nuns.
16. The word Mangala now generally represents a female name.
17. Mangaladevi became a form of Godess Shakti, possibly after the crusading missions of Shankaracharya, evidently evolved from the older Buddhist cult of Tara Bhagavathi and allied deified female spirit forms. Besides the well known Mangaladevi at Mangalore, there is another similar Mangaladevi in Idukki district of Kerala. This Mangaladevi of Kumili(Idukki) is a form of Shakti deified from the spirit of Kannaki, a heroine of Sangham age of Tamil literature.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

89. Keđđasa

Festivals are celebrations to mark meaningful events in our life or society. Nowadays we celebrate events of personal importance (anniversaries, birthdays, wedding etc) or of socio-political importance. In the earlier farming days people worshipped Mother Earth and respectfully.
Tulu festival of Keddasa (pronounced KeDDasa or keDDaso) is a unique ancient celebration in honour of the annual initiation of the fertility season (agriculture) of the Mother Earth. Our ancestors firmly believed that Earth is a woman, a mother. They conceived that Mother Earth would have an annual transitional period comparable to the menstrual period in women, after which she shall be ready to bear fruits and crops for the benefit of people. The three day period falls on the last three days of the Tulu month known as ‘Puyintel’ or ‘Ponni ‘(equivalent of ‘Makara’ month), from 27th of Puyintel upto Kumbha Sankramana. A mixture of nine grains (navadhanya, which invariably include horse gram and rice) are spiced and fried and distributed as ‘kuDu-ari’( horsegram+rice) among well wishers.
The three day festival celebrates the transition of seasons and initiation of cropping season. During the three days no harms, destructions can be done to Earth: digging, trenching, cutting trees etc are banned.
Marker festival
Origin and meaning of the word keDDasa is not readily available. The word ‘keDu’ means a raised hard boil or hard growth on the skin; ‘keDi’ means jewel or precious stone. Following these words we can infer that ‘keDD+asa’ stands for the marker festival.
Do you have any better explanation for the word? Please chip in!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

88. Baale

Puns are fun. There are many words having dual sense of meanings in Tulu like in other languages. One such proverb in Tulu is like this:
Bele danthina Aachari baaleda pinkan kettiye!
Freely translated it would mean: A jobless carpenter chiseled at the bums of baale.
The word baale is cited as such, since it is a pun. Baale in Tulu means (1) a kid (2) tail or end portion of a wooden boat. The word ‘baale’2 referring to the end part of the boat is akin to ‘baala’ or the tail as in Kannada.
The interpolation of the word ‘bums’ (‘pinkan’) in the proverb, is merely reflective of the rustic sense of humour of our people. And similarly, the reference to the professional, the Aachari is only incidental to the act and not of any disrespect for any community.
A jobless carpenter who could not sit idle simply, chipped the lower tail portion of the wooden boat absent-mindedly. The unwarranted work damaged the sensitive part of the boat and made it prone for sinking in the water.
It essentially means a person, indulging in unwanted, unproductive work without purpose. We can find similar shade of meaning in "Ee enchina kolambeda bela malpuniya?" .The Dictionary meaning of 'kolambe = a marshy land/field".

After years, the original meaning of the proverb cited at the beginning has been forgotten. Now it generally implies that the jobless carpenter chiseled at the bums of a kid.
*Content: Hosabettu Viswanath*

Sunday, February 10, 2008

87. Mangaruth ! -the ancient Mangalore

An odd sounding word, Mangaruth is what a foreign traveler described this city of Mangalore during Sixth century CE. At the first instance we get skeptical of the word, under the blanket impression that the foreigner might have erroneously pronounced/spelt the name of the town, normally known as the Mangalur.
545. CE. Mangaruth
The traveler who called himself was ‘Cosmas indiko pleustes’ (= the voyager of India) visited India during the year ca.545 CE. Earlier, during the year ca.150 CE, Ptolemy reported the name of the city as Magganour! Ptolemy’s accounts are said to be based on third party reports, hence his accuracy can be questioned, but we expect this traveler to India, Cosmas, to be more authentic and nearer to the real name of the town at the time of his visit.
There is one old name of the town orally preserved by those who used to cross the River Nethravathy, usually by boat. In the remote, undocumented, historical days, the ferry on the Mangalore side of River Nethravathy was called Mangar kariya. The word ‘Kariya’ refers to the ferry point. (For example, Kadapu-kariya, Sankala-kariya etc).This word ‘Mangara –kariya’ has found entry in the Tulu Nighantu. Since there is some correspondence between the words Mangar and Mangaruth we can infer that Cosmas was almost accurate in describing the said place name.
It appears that the Mangalore town was called Mangar or Mangarur, during the sixth century. Since, this word specifically refers to Mangar, we can omit incidental allusion to the ‘manga’ (= the monkey) part in the name.
.Mangar is an ancient word from Munda group of languages. It has been found specifically in Santali language. The word mangar means crocodile. [Mangar. (Santali/Munda). > Maggar (Prakrit/ Hindi).> Makara (Sanskrit)].
The word Mangar, apparently, is not used in the Tulu or any other languages presently prevalent in the area. The general word for crocodile in Tulu is ‘mudale’. Thus it appears to be an ancient word used by pre-Tulu tribal civilization (older than 600-800BC) that prevailed in the region.
Thus the name Mangar or Mangarur may be one of the oldest names of the town. The word Mangar is also used in certain Tulu pad-dana in the form of ‘Mangarda gatta’ (=hill of Mangar) as cited in the Tulu Nighantu.

An incidental byproduct of this word verification is the information that the River Nethravathy that flows by Mangalore was infested with crocodiles once upon a time.

Friday, February 8, 2008

86. Samani

Glancing through the descriptions of foreign travelers to west Coast of India during the historical period, in Hobson Jobson dictionary, I chanced to stumble upon the word ‘Samani’ used by Rashidudeen during the end of thirteenth century CE.

The entry on Rashiduddeen’s report on the West Coast of India during ca.1300CE is cited below:
c. 1300. -- "Beyond Guzerat are Konkan and Tána; beyond them the country of Malibár. . . The people are all Samanís (Buddhists), and worship idols. Of the cities on the shore the first is Sindabūr, then Faknūr, then the country of Manjarūr.

In the above passage, replace and read Gujarat (for Guzerat), Thana (for Tana), Malabar (for Malibar), Goa ( for Sindbur), Barakur (for Fakanur) and of course Mangalore (for Manjarur).The explanation for the word ‘Samanis’(=Buddhists) is presumably given by the editor of the dictionary.
The origin of the word ‘Samani’ is rather obscure with a random opinion that it is possibly of Polynesian origin. However, the Pali dictionary of proper names describes Samani as a princess. In Cambodia, neophytes to Buddhism were called Samanis or nens where as senior monks were designated as ‘bhikkus’. In Srilanka, the word Samani was applied to Buddhist nuns, specifically wandering female monks. Now the word Samani is also used by Jain nuns.
It appears that Rashiduddeen employed the word Samani to Buddhist monks in general.

A Surname: Samani
The significance of the word Samani lies in the fact that it is one of the surnames of a Tulu community, specifically the present day Bunts. Some surnames help us to trace episodes of historical evolution. It has been opined that during the course of time, the Buddhists of Karavali were not driven out but eventually assimilated with the local population.
The historical Jain-Bunt and vice-versa conversions in Tulunadu are rather well known so far. The present string of data adds to our knowledge that Tulu people also have vestiges of Buddhism in their historical heritage.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

85. Kadire Manjunatha

In an earlier post I suggested that the original name of the locality, the environs of the temple of Manjunatha in Mangalore was Kadire. The present corrupted form of ‘Kadri’ may be a modification consequent of Portuguese or British period of rule in the region.
The word ‘kadire’ in Tulu (and local Kannada) means spike of paddy corns. The locality was designated Kadire because the tradition of distribution of auspicious paddy spikes during annual Puddar festival. The name Kadire can be found in the inscriptions available in the area. Dr. P. Gururaja Bhat (1974) has provided the transliteration of inscriptions available at Kadire Manjunatha temple. Italian traveler Della Valle had also visited Kadire during 1624CE.

968 CE. The famed Lokeswara (Avalokiteswara) bronze idol of Kadire dated 968 CE contains an inscription at the base. It describes that it was installed by King Kundavarma Alupendra in the Kadarika Vihar. The word ‘Kadarika’ is a Sanskritized version of the Kadire. Secondly, at the time of installation of this idol, the place was a ‘Vihara’, a Buddhist monastery.

1386.CE. The stone inscription in the courtyard of the Kadire temple dated ca.1386 CE, belongs to the period of chieftain Banki Alupendra. and King Harihararaya (at Vijayanagar). The line 6 mentions… ‘bhogikkadaliya’, line 8 and 17 mentions Mangalur (coins).
Line 23 cites: ’.Kadiru nekkilu.’.as one of the boundary of the Manjunatha temple. The ‘bhogikkadali’ has been interpreted as Jogi Kadali by Dr.Gururaja Bhat.

1475.CE Inscription dated ca.1475 was made by Vitarsa Odeyar, a governor Mangalore and Barakur provinces, under the King Veera Pratapa Prouda Virupaksha of Vijayanagara. Jogi Mangala Natha was the chief of Jogi Mutt. The place name Kadire is mentioned twice in the inscription. The Jogi Mangala Natha was declared as Ruler (Arasa) of the Kadire. Kadire is described as the central area (headquaters) of Mangalore province.

1624 CE - P.Della Valle, an Italian traveler who visited Mangalore and Ullal during (1624) Portuguese period (Abbakka was ruling at Ullal) reports that he met Batinata, the King of Jogis at a place called ‘Cadira’(Kadira).

It is said that the Manjunatha is not in the traditional list of Lord Shiva’s names. Therefore it appears that the name Manjunatha was coined specifically at Kadire, Mangalore for the first time in the history. Earlier writers have visualized that the name Manju-natha was derived from Macchendra Natha, in the order of Macchendra>Mancho>Manju.
But, the ‘Kadali Manjunatha Kshetra Mahatme’ describes that Macchendra had twelve wives from whom he had twelve sons. The son of the last wife was called Manjunatha. Another account describes that Macchendra’s youngest son was known as Manju-Natha, who was installed as the ruler of Kadire by Macchendra Natha. Thus, it follows that the name of the deity Manjunatha was derived from the name of son of Macchendra Natha.
The Natha chief traditionally calls the installed 'God'Manjunatha as 'beta'!One story recounted by Jogi Ananda Nath cites an event when one of the (later period) Natha chief was sidelined by the Brahmin Tantri in charge of temple during a car festival. The temple car(chariot) did not move forward. Finally the the Natha chief(Arasu) was brought in and he said Aao Beta! And the car rolled forth!
The 'beta' legend suggests that the installed 'God' was originally the son of the founder Natha, the Macchendra.

One of the interesting facts somehow ignored so far by scholars is that Mangalore was known as Manjarur for some time, possibly till the arrival of Vijayanagar rulers. It may have been ignored under the impression that foreign Arab travelers may have failed to note down the name of this properly. But at least two Arab travelers Rashiduddeen (1300 CE) and Ibn Battuta (1342 CE) have unmistakably recorded the name of the city as Manjarur. Rashiduddeen uses the phrase: the country of Manjarur. Ibn Battuta has used both the ‘Manjarur’ and ‘Budufattan’ (<.Bokkapatna), the port at the beautiful estuary or simply ‘Pattan’ (Bokkapatna).
If we analyze the word Manjara +Ooru =Manjarur, it follows that the Manjarur was named after the Manju Natha, the youngest son of Macchendra Natha who ruled Kadire, after his father. Manja-ra stands for the respectable form of Manja.
It is possible that Manju Natha was deified after his life and worshipped in the tradition of Spirit worship. It may be recalled that the recluse queen Pingala (who became ‘Mangala’ after death) was worshipped in the similar style and the area around her temple was named after her (Mangalapura). In honour of Manju Natha the area was called Manjarur.

There is one more Manju-oor in Mangalore. A minor suburb in the outskirt on the way to Mudabidri is known as Vamanjur. This place probably was originally known as Om- Manjur. It is customary to add the word ‘Om’ to sacred names, as in the case of Om Namah Shivaya.

Gururaja Bhat, P. (1974) “Kadri Shri Manjunatha Devalaya: Kshetra Mahatme mattu Itihasa” Published by: trustees of the Kadri Manjunatha temple.73p.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Naturescapes...6 Parpikal.

A charming waterfall within the river at Parpikal near Kokkada, Belthangadi taluk.

Pot holes in the rocky river bed of Parpikal near Kokkada.

A set of images of river-cut rocks,pot-holes and waterfalls from Parpikal area near Kokkada on Dhamasthala to Gundya road, Belthangadi taluk,Dakshina Kannada.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

84.The Mogaveera Community

The Mogaveeras (also spelt, 'Mogavira') represent the native fishing community of the Karavali Karnataka. In the Udupi area they are also known as Marakalas.To the south of Ullal they are known as Bovis. In the southern Karavali from Brahmavara southward they speak Tulu and in the north they speak Kannada or Konkani towards Karawar.
Edgar Thurston describes them as Mogers, the Tulu speaking fishermen of South Canara (Thurston & Rangachari, 2001, p.65). Buchanan(1807) reported that ‘these fishermen are called Mogeyar and are a caste of Tuluva origin.. The Mogeyar are boatmen, fishermen, porters and palanquin bearers … Some Mogers are… taken to agriculture, oil pressing and playing on musical instruments.’ “The ordinary caste title for Mogers is 'Marakaleru'.. in Kundapura taluk, the title ‘Naicker’ is preferred.”(Buchanan, cited in Thurston & Rangachary, 2001).
In Uttara Kannada mostly Kannada or Konkani speaking fisher-folk are known as Harikantra, Kharvi and Bovi. In the interior Karnataka, they are Kannada speaking fisher-folks known variously as Ganga-mathastha, Besta, Ambiga or Koli. In Kerala fishing community is known as ‘Mukkuvan’. In Andhra fishing communities are known as Agnikula-kshatriya, Vadabalija, Suryavamsi, and Pallekaru etc. Fishing communities living in different areas may not be related owing to geographic and ethnologic separations.

I. A historical –evolutionary outline
Fish in Indus seals: It appears that a cult of Fish God worship existed during the Indus valley civilization. Seals recovered from the excavation of Indus valley (3000-1900 BC) contain pictograms of fish that have been variously explained. Asko Purpola proposed that these pictograms possibly represent the cult of Fish God. Later in the history (ca.500 BC) the Fish-God (Matsya) was adopted as the first incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
Apart from the theological implications, the fish pictograms point to the familiarity of the fish in the Indus society. Fish catching as well as consumption of fish as a food appears to have been in vogue during the Indus period.
Migration of Tulu tribes: Presence of Tulu words in Rigveda point to the existence of Tulu tribes in Pirak region of Northwestern Indian subcontinent during ca.1900-1500 BC. Following adverse environmental conditions, ca. 800 BC, Tulu tribes along with many others migrated into Indian mainland. The Moolasthana concept originated or prevailed in the NW Indian subcontinent, as evidenced by existence of places like Multan (mool-taan >.Moolasthana).
Daasha Raja: During the composition of Mahabharata, ca.500BC, fisher-folks were conspicuous by their presence. The writer-composer of Mahabharata, Veda-Vyasa was the grandson of Daasha Raja, a fisherman who ferried people across the River Yamuna. (The surname ‘Dasa’ still exists among some of the Tulu Mogaveera.).

1. Early historical period
Moolasthanas: The Tulu tribes immigrated into Karavali ca.700-600 BC and settled along beaches and river banks. The initial places of settlements became their new Moolasthanas in Karavali. Thus many of the surnames of Tulu communities including Mogaveeras refer to location of their initial settlements (Moolasthanas) like Bangera (<. Bengare), Suvarna(<.River Swarna),etc.
Lineage surnames: There is common a saying that the major Tulu communities of Karavali-Bunts, Billawas and Mogaveeras- are the children of sisters of a single family. This notion is verified based on the fact that many of these communities originally shared common Moolasthanas and common lineage surnames like Bangera, Suvarna etc. Members of the same Moolasthana, with passage of time pursued divergent professions that led to formation of different communities in the course of time.
Mogaveeras follow the Moolasthana system of Tulu lineages (Bari system). The origin of Moolasthana notion dates back to some ca.800 BC or earlier corresponding with the migration of Tulu tribes in the Pirak region of NW Indian subcontinent. Mogaveera families have acquired lineage surnames based on Moolasthana or the place of their original settlement. The following lineages based surnames are commonly found among the Mogaveera group of communities (in alphabetical order):
Amin, Bangera, Chandan, Gujaran, Kanchan, Karkera, Kotian, Kunder, Maindan, Mendon, Naika, Pangal, Puthran, Rao, Salian, Sapaliga, Shriyan, Suvarna,Thingalaya, and Tholar
Some of Mogaveera of earlier generation had the word ‘Tulu’ in the name/surnames, suggestive of their ancient Tulu heritage that migrated from North.
Prior Natives: While projecting the immigrant nature of Tulu tribes (ca. 750-500 BC), it should be clarified that a component of the present Mogaveera community is made up original inhabitants of the Karavali. Some of the ancient surnames may have vanished with time, yet surviving Mogaveera surnames like Tholar, suggest derivation from one of the Early Munda tribes, who were natives to the Karavali since ca.3000BC. Assimilation of native and immigrant fishing tribes occurred in the historical past.

2.Early Alupa period
Barakur: Barakur region appears to be one of the early settlements of immigrant Tulu tribes and Mogaveeras in particular. Many of the Moolasthanas are located on the sea coast of Barkur, around Hoogde and Bengare. The island of Benne-Kuduru, near Barakur, formed one of the centres of Mogaveeras. The temple of chief deity of Mogaveera community Kula Mastree Amma is located at Benne-Kuduru.
Barakur was a center of royal administration since remote historical dates. Some of the Kings/chieftains that ruled from Barakur could have been from Mogaveera community. Rich Mogaveera merchants owned merchant boats/ships in the earlier days. The ‘pandi’ was the usual word that referred to large boats used for carrying goods in the sea. The owner of a pandi is likely to have been called a ‘Pandia’ or ‘Pandya’. Several ‘Pandya’ chieftains ruled Barakur and Mangalore during the period 2nd to 14th century CE.
Alupe Kings: One of the questions frequently posed is whether the Alupe (Alupa) Kings were fishermen in origin. What is known about these kings is scanty. Earlier the word Alupa was analysed in a number possibilities. Now, it is deduced that they belonged to and ruled from Alupe, a cosy suburb near Kankanady in the Eastern Mangalore. Community background of these chieftains is not known. However, it has been deduced that the surname Alva (now a part of Bunt-Nadava community) has been derived from the word Alupa.
Mogera: It appears that the fisher-folks of the Karavali Tulunadu were originally known as ’Mogera’. Manjeswara Govinda Pai had suggested that the word ‘mogera’ was derived from the word ‘mudgara’. Conversely, it also may be true that mudgara is a subsequently Sanskritized version of the original word ‘moger’ or ‘mogera’, (since the Sanskrit was introduced into the region during Kadamba period after 4th century CE.)
Francis Buchanan (1807) has used the term ‘Mogeyar’ in his description of castes of south India.. The word was used in the literature of British period to represent the fisher-folks of Canara (Karavali) and Malabar (Kerala). Buchanan reported that Mogeyar people worship Shiva, Vishnu or Mastriamma (<.Maha Stree Amma).
The Tulu word ‘moger’ represents the low lying flood plains by the side of rivers. Possibly, the term was applied to people who initially inhabited in riverbanks and side plain lands and pursued professions of fishing and boating. Most of the original settlements or the ‘Moolasthanas’ of ‘Mogaveera and other related Tulu people, are located on the river banks, estuaries or beaches. Alternately, the word may be related to the verb ‘mogepu’ that means to swish or paddle in water.
‘Mogeyar’ is essentially a Kannada word possibly coined during the Vijayanagar reign of Barkur a region of Tulunadu. There is a view that the northern part of Karavali were originally Tulu speaking areas that became Kannada areas partly during the regime of Kadamba kings(Uttara Kannada) and later during Vijayanagar kings(Udupi to Kundapur area). The word ‘Mogeyar’ represents those who swish or paddle in the water. Incidentally, the Malayalam equivalent word for the community, ‘Murukkan’ also has the similar meaning.
Now, consequent upon socio-political changes over the years, the Mogaveera of Dakshina Kannada speak Tulu, whereas those in areas North of Kalyanpur and Brahmavar speak Kannada.

3.Kadamba period

Sapaliga: During 4th century CE, a new Kannada dynasty was established based on Banavasi (now part of Uttara Kannada) by Kadamba King Mayura Varma. He established new temples in Tulunadu dedicated to Shiva, Ganesha etc within his territory that included Tulunadu. At that time the culture of temples was new to Tulunadu and only different forms of spirit worship and the cult of Buddhism prevailed until then. The Alupe Kings who ruled Tulunadu, were chieftains under the Kadamba king.
The newly established temples were manned by Brahmins brought from Ahicchatra. The location of Ahicchatra has been disputed; it may be either on the banks of Godavari or near Bareily, in Uttar Pradesh. The temple proceedings demanded musical artists to orchestrate the pooja and other ceremonies. A set of Mogaveera youth were trained, in parts of ancient temple towns of ancient Tamilnadu like Kanchi and Madhurai, to play instruments like Nadaswara, drums and other musical instruments, now vogue in the temples. These musical artists were later designated ‘Sapaliga’ or ‘Sapalya’. The word ‘sappala’ means sound. The families of these musical artists were settled around agrahars around the temples and these with time became a sub-community known as Sapaliga-s.

Early Brahmins: Kadamba King imported male Brahmin Priests from Ahicchatra to conduct Pooja rituals in the newly built temples of Karavali Tulunadu. Some of the immigrants were uncomfortable in the new environs and wanted to return. Therefore, the King allowed them to marry with the Tulu tribes and settle in the agraharas around temples. Oral anecdotes among the Mogaveera people, suggest that the young Brahmin priests were married to girls of fisher-folk community.(Shriyan,2005; Ramachandra Baikampadi,2006). Sturrock (1894) has reported this event in his manual of Madras District. Dr Gururaja Bhat, (reprinted in Tulu Sahitya Charitre, 2007), while reviewing castes cited in the manual of Sturrock, opined that girls for marriage were drawn from the Bunt community. Consequent on the event, the descendants of earlier generation of Tulu Brahmins acquired lineage surnames characteristic of native Tulu communities. The event may be of relevance to human genetic haplotype studies and interpretations.

Ganiga: (pronounced gaaNiga). The Karavali being a region replete with coconut palms, the extraction of coconut oil was a special profession, some of the Mogaveeras ventured into since early history. The oil extraction unit was known as gaaNa; hence those worked with gaaNa became Ganiga-s. These have become an independent sub-community but maintain equivalent relations with Sapalya sub-community.

Bovi: During the regime of ancient Kings and chieftains, one of the menial professions was carrying palanquins of royal persons. Fishermen adapted to this job were known as Bovis. Now the members of Bovi sub-community are concentrated in the Ullal to Manjeswar region in the southern part of Karavali.
Similarly, in Uttara Kannada, there are Konkani speaking members of Bovi sub-community under Harikantra and Kharvi fisher folks.

4.Vijayanagar Period
Marakala: A sub-community of Mogaveera, especially around Udupi area is known as Marakala. Origin of the word ‘Marakala’, the caste name used for a subgroup of Mogaveera people in the Udupi area has an interesting history.
During the time of ancient regal wars, the Mogaveera youth were employed as soldiers in the advance force in the Vijayanagar army. These were specialized in the art of breaking fortified wooden main doors of the enemy forts. They were called marakala The origin of the word is ‘mara’ (=wood, ~wooden fort door) and ‘kalapuni’ (=removing; Tulu usage special to Udupi sector). Thus, the experts in the art of ‘mara-kalapuni’ were designated as ‘Marakala’. The word mara-keela (‘keeL’, means to remove, in Kannada) was also in some usage in earlier days. (Narayana A Bangera, Mitrapatna, 2007). The special professional word was said to have prevailed during the period of Vijayanagar reign over Tulunadu (14 Century AD). It is also possible that the profession existed before the Vijayanagar rule, during the reign of Alupa chieftains.
Matti Brahmins: During the fourteenth Century CE, it is said that Vadiraja Acharya of Udupi Mutt converted Mogaveera families of Mattu village into Brahmins (Buchanan, 1807). The descendants of the community continued to follow some of the marriage practices native to Mogaveera heritage. Buchanan reports that these Matti Brahmins have a Bobbariya gunda in their village like other Mogaveeras.

5.Abbakka to British Period
Abbakka’s army: During the 14th Century CE, Queen Abbakka was ruling at Ullal. Once she was at Surathkal beach to worship at Sadashiva temple. After pooja at the temple she visited the nearby beach. The sea was ferocious and she was almost about to be drowned in the sea. Local Mogaveera youths saved her in time. She applauded their bravery and took some of the youths with their families to Ullal, where she employed them in her navy and army. Mogaveera youth were known for their bravery. Queen Abbakka could confront Portuguese army because of her faithful navy and army.

The word Mogaveera: Hoige-bazar Mohanappa Tingalaya, a freedom fighter, is credited with. Coining the new word ‘Mogaveera’, in the early years of twentieth century, to replace the old fashioned ‘Mogera’ or ‘Mogeyar’.(Ramachandra Baikampadi, 2006). Accordingly, the Mumbai Sangha was named as Mogaveera Vyavasthapaka Mandali (MVM), registered in the year 1929. The first Kannada monthly published from Mumbai, from the house of MVM was named ‘Mogaveera’. Now the name Mogaveera has almost completely replaced the old words Mogera and Mogeyar.

II. The community institutions
Oral traditions describe that the early Tuluvas could be found as navigators on all the seven seas (‘Sapta Sagaras’) or literally all over the world. The traditional marine fishing is a valiant profession that demands energy, skill, perseverance and above all boldness. In the earlier days when shipping technology were in nascent stage, marine fishing on country boats entailed exceptional bravery. The adversities of the profession made Mogaveera community a well knit and organized society that respected brotherhood and community feelings.
Pattana: Mogaveera fishing communities traditionally lived in coastal habitations called ‘Pattana’ (=town). The self governed fishery townships or Pattana may be an ancient feature of common to Dravida culture, since even the coasts of Tamilnadu have similar historically old habitations called Pattanas.
Ibn Battuta, a traveler from Morocco (ca. 1343 CE) mentions, alighting at a port called Pattana, for some time, while returning from Honavar, along the west coast of India. Ibn Battuta possibly was referring to Bokkapatna, the fishing village and port in Mangalore during the Vijayanagar regime of 14th Century.
Grama-sabha: The fishing communities at Pattana level are well organized into ‘Grama-sabha’ (village council) with a group leader called ‘Gurikara’. The Gurikara was a hereditary leader and traditionally wore a steel or gold bangle around his wrist and a single ring on his ear, as insignia of the leadership. The role and authority of Gurikaras is diminishing with rise of democratically elected bodies. The group leader of a fishing team is called ‘Tandela’. Under the masthead of Dakshina Kannada Mogaveera Mahasabha (established in 1923), there are 146 Gramasabhas that have been federated into ten Samyukta sabha-s. Earlier the three traditional centers of Karavali Mogaveeras were Bagwadi, Barkur and Mangalore. Subsequently, Gramasabhas of Mangalore and Udupi from Uppal to Kota joined to form the Dakshina Kannada Mogaveera Mahasabha. The Kannada speaking Mogveeras of Bagwadi formed a separate federation (Mogaveera Mahajana Sabha).
Kulaguru: Mogaveera had a Kulaguru or Mangala Poojari drawn from the Mogaveera community since antiquity. He was traditional chief priest of Benne-Kudur Kula Mastree Amma temple. In recent years, several leaders are advocating for the revival of Kula Guru Tradition.
Other Trivia: Buchanan reports that ordinary barber (Kelasi) does not shave Mogaveeras and they have their own community barber called ‘Melantavam,’ who is entitled to have a share in the catch of fish.

III. Religious faiths
The nature of the religious faiths has changed among the Mogaveeras during the evolutionary period of past 2700 years in the Karavali Tulunadu. In the beginning Mogaveeras worshipped exclusively spirit deities like Bermer, Panjurli etc. Subsequently, several spirits were added to the list like Bobbariya, Korathi, and Haiguli etc.
Spirit worship: Mogaveera worship a number of spirits like Bermer, Panjurli, Bobbariya, Korathi and Haiguli. Some of the places of worship, interestingly also contain idols of Vedavyasa and Atharva Muni.
Bobbariya: Bobbariya spirit was a benevolent Muslim merchant who was amicable with fishermen. Folk-lores suggest that Bobber was an influential trader married to a Tulu Shetty lady. He commissioned merchant boats and conducted sea-trade in the ports of West Coast. He was popular in the Mogaveera Pattana of Kapu. Folklores suggest that died fighting with pirates at the Sea.
Most of the Mogaveera Pattanas have Bobbariya gunda in them. Mogaveera traditionally believe that the benevolent Bobbariya spirit brings them good luck and ensures safety in a wild Sea.
Vedavyasa and Atharvamuni : Some of the Mogaveera worship centres, contain idols of Vedavyasa and Atharva Muni. It is an historically interesting feature since Vedavyasa, born to Matsyagandhi or Satyavathi, was a product of the fishing community.
The exact character of Atharva Muni is not clear, since it is believed that the Atharva Veda was compiled by sage Bhrughu and his clan, with inputs from sages of the Angirasa clan.
The fact that Mogavirs hold these ancient sages (ca.700-.500BC) in esteem suggests that they were connected in some way in the remote historical past. This may also be suggestive of the migration of Mogaveeras from northwestern India.

Vishnu and Shiva:.With advent of mainstream Hindu Gods into Tulunadu during (4th century CE) and after Kadamba period, Mogaveeras adapted to the worship of Shiva, Vishnu.

Mangala Poojari
Mogaveeras have a caste priest known as Mangala Poojari.(Uchila,2004) The Mogaveera families pay prescribed amount to Mangala Poojari to maintain the temple of Ammanor or Mastiamma.(Buchanan,1807). The designation of Mogaveera Kulaguru, or the caste priest ‘Mangala Poojari’ helps us to understand the evolution through the ages. The designation ‘Poojari’(=priest) was imported along with the Tulu immigrants. Earlier Poojaris were the priests for Spirit worship. Later on, Poojaris separated and formed a component of Billawa Group, while Mogaveeras retained a few Poojaris exclusively for Pooja purposes within the community.
Mangala is a word commonly used in Buddhist Pali literature and the adoption of the designation ‘Mangala Poojari’ for the community priest of the temple, implies the broad temporal relationship to the Buddhist period ca. 2nd to 8th Century CE.

Kula Maha Stree Amma
During the early centuries of CE, when Buddhism prevailed in Tulunadu, worship of Tara Bhagavathi was in vogue. Several locally prominent ladies were deified and worshipped during the period. Mogaveeras built a temple for a deified lady known as Kula Maha Stree Amma at Benne Kuduru near Barkur and worshipped her. The temple, recently renovated, is an important centre of worship for the Mogaveeras. Buchanan states that according to some Mastiamma is the Maari, the Godess of small pox and others say that she is Mohini, a spirit (Buchanan has used the word ‘female devil’ for spirit).

Mahisha-mardini & Mahalaxmi
Shankara Acharya revived Hinduism along the Karavali and most of the former Tara-Bhagavthi temples were converted to temples of Shakti worship. Under the influence of regional Shakti worship in the Karavali , Mahisha-mardini (Kundapura) and Mahalaxmi temples (Ucchila) were constructed and consecreted.
Association with Kadri
Kadri temple at Mangalore represents fusion of Buddhism into Shaiva Natha cult, founded by Macchendra Natha. Macchendra Natha has been considered to be from a fisher community of Bengal.
Mogaveera community has associated with the Kadri temple festivities during the past thousand years. They actively participate in the flag hoisting ceremony (dwaja-arohana) of the temple. On the initial day of marine fishing season, every year, Mogaveeras invite the Natha chief of Kadri Mutt to conduct the Samudra pooja and pray for their welfare.
The post is written in collaboration with Hosabettu Viswanath, Pune.

Buchanan, Francis (1807) A Journey from Madras through the Countries of Mysore, Canara and Malabar . T. Cadell and W. Davies, London.
Gururaja Bhat.P. Reprinted in ‘Tulu Sahitya Charitre’, Kannada University, Vidyaranya, Hampe.2007.
Gururaja Budhya and SolomonBenjamin(2000 )The politics of sustainable cities: The case of Bengare, Mangalore,in coastal India. Environment and Urbanization, vol.12,
Narayana A Bangera, Mitrapatna, 2007 ‘Mogaveera’ Mumbai ,2007,
Ramachandra Baikampadi. (2006).’Tulunadina Adi Brahmanaru moolata Mogaveerare?’ ‘Mogaveera’,(monthly) Mumbai, November 2006, Mumbai.pp.23-25
Shriyan,T.C. ( 2005) The Mogaveeras. ‘Mogaveera’, Mumbai, March 2005. pp 19-23
Sturrock,J:(1894) South Canara District Manual, vol. I. Madras .
Thurston, Edgar and K. Rangachari (2001) Castes and Tribes of Southern India. Asian Educational Services. p.3366. Original Edition published in 1909.
Venkataraja Punimchattaya.(1993)“Mogaveerara Sanskriti”. Karnataka Sahitya Academy, Bangalore, 157p
Uchila, S.K (2004) ‘Mogaveera Kulaguru’. Mogaveera. Mumbai, November, 2004. pp.17-43.
Uchila, S.K (2005) ‘Mogaveera Institutions’. Mogaveera. Mumbai, December, 2004.pp.37.

Friday, February 1, 2008

83.Buddhism vs. mainstream Hinduism

The parallel theological evolutions in Buddhism and mainstream Hinduism coupled with historical rivalries and interferences led to eventual assimilation of Buddhism especially in southern India.
The immigrant Indo Aryans who settled in northwestern Indian subcontinent are credited with the composition of earlier Vedas. Rigveda is known to have been composed by a set of about twelve sages of Indo-Aryan lineage. If we accept that the population of the Vedic poets is about a dozen or two, there is no meaning in the hypothesis of Indo-Aryan invasion. The small group of Indo-Aryans soon must have been absorbed into the Indian mainstream. Most of the remaining Vedas must have been composed by descendants of the Indo-Aryans and natives. This is evident by successive generations of sages of native origin.
Veda Vyasa
The sage Veda-Vyasa, the highly talented and creative writer of Mahabharata and the compiler/arranger of Vedas is a shining example. Veda-Vyasa, ca.500 BC, was clearly an educated native, born to sage Parashara and Satyavathi (Matysagandhi), the daughter of Dasharaja, a boatman who used to ferry people across River Yamauna.
Veda-Vyasa is also credited with the concept and compilation of ten incarnations of Vishnu. He obviously wanted to establish the greatness of Lord Vishnu, who was a minor God during the time of Rigveda. He assembled various ten legends that existed prior in different regions of the subcontinent and welded them into a continuous collage of incarnations of the Mahavishnu.
Gautama Buddha
Gautama Buddha entered the scene around the same time, with his revolutionary agnostic philosophy. Soon he was very popular and many people embraced the philosophies propagated by him. The popularity of Buddha was detrimental to the propagation of Vishnu cult. Therefore disciples of Veda-Vyasa, modified their original scheme of ten incarnations and adapted the legend of Buddha as ninth incarnation of Vishnu. This was in a way psychological rivalry of theologies and battle for supremacy. The conversion of Buddha into an incarnation was an effort to denigrate his status and supremacy.
Buddhas disciples retaliated by promoting incarnations of Buddha. Initially 24 to 28 incarnations of Buddhas were visualized. In the next stage, a number of Bodhisattas who would attain Buddha-hood in the future in future were visualized. In a way, it was an open invitation that any person can achieve Buddha-hood by following specific path laid by the Mahayana school.
One channel of mainstream Hinduism was glorifying Vishnu and other was promoting Shiva and Devi or Kali, yet another school propounded the virtues of Brahma. Buddhism tried to absorb the basic concepts of these deities into Buddhism. The Avalokiteswara, the Bodhisatta (Bodhisatva) of compassion was remoulded to embrace the virtues of Shiva. Manjusri, the Bodisatta of wisdom, was modified to represent attributes of Brahma. Padmapani was a variation of Vishnu. Similarly, parallel Dhyani Buddhas were created to represent other divine elements of the Vedic mainstream. Even the concept of a future Buddha, Maitreya, who would be born after 4000 years (shade of Kalki) was conceived.
Ajanta and Ellora (6-8 c CE) in Maharastra, Krishna valley in Andhra Pradesh, Kaveripatam and Nagapattanam in Tamilandu, Banavasi, Aihole, Mangalore in Karnataka, Ratnagiri in Orissa and Srimulavasam near Ambalapuzha in Kerala were major centres of Buddhism in southern India
Vajrayana cult of Buddhism delved into Tantric rituals like various groups of tantric Shaivite Kapalika, Siddha and Shakta cults during 7th and 8th centuries. The parallelism and collaborations amongst these groups led to dissolution of thin boundaries that separated them. Natha cult is clearly a fusion of Buddhist and mainstream Hinduism.

The Buddhism was not blatantly driven out of southern India as made out by some analysts, but was eventually absorbed into the mainstream Hinduism. Only those sects that were denied entry to Hindu temples at that time, like Thiya (Malayalee Billawas), continued to practice a weakened form of Buddhism.

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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
  • 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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