The place name Kundapura is quite interesting. The ‘Kunda’ is a Pali and Prakrit word signifying the gold. The word 'Kunda' also means 'lake' or 'pond'.There are also other meanings attached to the word such as melt,pillar,flower etc in different contexts.
The historical significance is that it is the name of the village (known as Kundagrama or Kundapura) near Vaisali in Videha (part of present Bihar) where Mahavira was born. Thus evidently the place name Kundapura signifies the role of Jainism in the Karavali.
Jainism & Buddhism
Since Mahavira (ca.599-527 BC) and Buddha (ca.563- 483 BC) are contemporaries it can be considered that the Jainism and Buddhism flourished simultaneously. Jains, however, believe that Jainism was founded by Vrishabha the first of the twenty-four Tirthankars. Yet critics opine that during early period upto 5th century CE was not emphatically present. The usage of the word Jainism, like the word Hinduism, itself is said to be rather recent.
The antiquity of the place name Kundapura is historically significant as it may throw light on the ascent/spread of Jainism in the Karavali/Tulunadu.
Because of the presence of the word ‘Kunda’ in Pali (Buddhist) and Prakrit (Jain) literature it is difficult to distinguish the exact religious connotation in the said word. The word ‘Kunda’ also exists in Tulu: it means either (a) pillar or (b) melt.
The Alupa King Kundavarma, who installed the idol of Avalokitesvara at Kadire, Mangalore, has been interpreted to be a Shaivaite by Dr. Gururaja Bhat. But his very name suggests that he was either a Buddhist or a Jain. It may also mean that religious affiliations were not emphatic in those days among the ruling class.
An interesting surname among Mogaveeras is Kundaran. In view of the significance of the word Kunda, the surname Kundaran possibly carries implications of the Jain/Buddhist heritage of a sect of Tulu Mogaveera people.
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