Tuesday, October 28, 2008
160 . The Pāndi culture
The Alupa/Pandya emblem of twin fishes (copper ) and (2) conch figure on an Alupa gold coin.
The word Pāndi (pronounced pānDi) designating an ancient wooden large boat employed to transport cargo deserves some more probe. Sediyapu Krishna Bhat's suggestion that Pāndya were the owners of the Pāndi cargo boats appears to be reasonable in the historical context. The Tamil Pandya Kings had also adopted the emblem of twin fishes. According to historians Alupa Kings adopted the emblem of twin fishes probably after 7 th Century CE, specifically after a war between Chalukyas and Pandyas at Mangalapura (Mangalore).
The Alupa clan appear to have originated and founded at Alupe village, near Mangalore to begin with. In other words Alupa dynasty derived its clan name from the Alupe village, located on the banks of River Netravathi with direct access to the Arabian Sea. The word 'Alupe' (Al + upe) represents a village on the bank of a river. The attributed Alupa.> Aluva word derivation was circumstantial and relatively later in origin. There has been several drastic geographic/geological changes in the drainage courses of Rivers Netravathi and Phalguni (Gurupur) especially during the time span of historical past.
It may be that Alupa Kings adopted the title Pandya after they came into contact with Tamil Pandyas, possibly who tried to befriend with Alupas on account of common 'Pandia' origin while fighting a war with Chalukyas. History tells us that Alupas were chieftains under Badami Chalukyas and therefore they sided with Chalukyas. Apparently the Tamil Pandya lost the Mangalapura war as result of hegemony between Alupas and Chalukyas.
Besides the emblem of twin fishes Alupa many of their coins also carried a symbol of conch (Shanka, a gastropod) another marine being which was held sacred. Lord Krishna in the epics was invariably depicted with a conch. These symbols corroborate that the Pandia/Pandya merchants were ardent navigators who worshiped marine symbols like fishes and conch.
The Alupa coins carry the title of 'Shri Pandya Dhananjaya'. The name 'Dhanajaya' generally refers to the middle Pandava brother of the Mahabharata epic, the Arjuna. However the word 'Dhananjaya' literally can also mean one who amassed (won) wealth or simply an affluent merchant! Therefore it appears that the title 'Shri Pandya Dhanajaya' was adapted by the Alupa Pandya Kings to represent Pandia the affluent merchants who became the rulers of the land. The gold coins minted by the Alupas imply and corroborate the 'Dhanajaya' status. The gold obviously had to be imported from upland Karnataka since gold deposits were not available in the Karavali.
Pāndi : word structure
The word pāndi can be analysed as pa+anDi
The prefix pa- or pa(n)- appears to be a short word representing water or to float in water (as in pani (=drop of water), pāni (=water) , pāmb (=to float in water) etc).There are several such ancient 'short words' used as prefixes in Tulu. Read also post 141 Village name prefixes.
The word 'anDi' has several meanings such as: (1a) egg (1b) seed (1c) oval structure(1d) head or brain (1e) buttocks and (2) wild wood.[The meaning (2) is obvious in usages such as anDe-Koraga, anD-bedir and anD-punar etc.]
There is one more clue to suggest that the 'anDi' means a wooden structure. Ancient boats have a pair of balancing wooden poles on a side known as 'Ayilandi' and 'Oyilandi'.(Inputs from: Hosabettu Viswanath) .Since the prefixes 'ayil' and 'oyil' refer to the opposing wave/current flows in the water, the suffix 'anDi' stands for the wooden structure.
Thus the word 'pāndi' is a combination of (1c) and (2) meanings cited above representing an oval wooden structure that floats on water.
Low lying watery fields on the river banks used especially to store pānDi boats during the off-season were also designated as PānDi or Pāndimār. Ancient ports were known as 'Pandela'.The Tulu original equivalent of the place-name Pandeswara was 'Pāndetha' again suggestive of connection with PānDi, the boats and Pandela, the ports.
There is one more interesting twist in the story of Pandyas, the affluent boat-owners/ merchants who resorted to ruling people of the land.
The Tamil Pandya were traditionally considered to have been derived from the Pandava clan of north India.(Also read Manjunat.) Besides the the name of their ancient capital, Madhurai is a phonetic replication of Mathura, the celebrated north Indian city cited in Mahabharata. Therefore the influence of the epic on Tamil Pandya Kings cannot be ruled out.
One of the aspects of regal history of India is that the Kings demanded glorified eulogies to constantly cheer up themselves or as psychological morale boosters. They depended on dedicated servants and poets who spun larger than life praises in favour of the King. Such eulogizers, found since the days of Sangam literature, proclaimed that the King descended from great and noble lineages and attributed superhuman attributes to the King.
At the outset, the Pandava link of the Pandya kings appears to the product of such eulogies. If you explore a little further there are some interesting backdrop to this Pandava link. The Mahabharata has been considered by recent analysts to be a blown up version of the battle of ten kings cited in Vedas. However this does not belittles the merits of the epic Mahabharata which is an unparalleled classic in the world literature. The original author of Mahabharata epic Vyasa was born of a sage (Parashara) and a fisher-woman (Matsyaganadha).Therefore, it was natural that the celebrated poet Vyasa had intimate knowledge about boats.
It can be deduced that the name 'PānDav' in the epic was chosen by the poet Vyasa based on his childhood influences of boat culture. The word PanDav appears to be a regional variant of the word pānDi. PānDav also means large size even in Tulu. The word 'paDavu' is a Tulu variant of the word panDavu, the large boat or ship, like pānDi.
The Tulu/Dravida word panDavu/ paDavu has undergone further evolution as follows: panDavu.> paDavu.> haDavu.> haDagu. The word 'haDagu' in modern Kannada represents a ship.
Footnote on the role ofAyilandi in fishing( by Hosabettu Viswanath):
The Ayilandi (two thick paralleled poles fastened to Padavu and fixed to boat-shaped wooden plump ) is on right-hand side. While jettisoning out large net in the sea - from one point of shore to other point of it - padavu takes a curved course, encircling targeted shoal of fish, when ayilandi is on inner side, thus balancing padavu. 'Maand' (Tulu Noghantu, p.2552) is a piece of thick rope (made of coir) with a light-weight wooden float tied to centre-most portion of the assemblage of nets (made of several nets of members, joined by special thread of specific thickness). Width of nets on 'maandu' section is large, considering depth of sea to be ventured so as to cover entire shoals of fish sighted by 'kontalas' (small boats) manned by experts with keen eyes. Eyes of the net are also small in maand section. Considering depth and length of sea to be covered, additional pieces of 'aalad' (TN.p.269) (Thread of coir ropes entwined to gain thickness and strength) are enjoined on both ends of assembled-nets.)
Padavau returns to centre, lifts the maand and ties it to Padavu (on its higher side).The cast net is towed up to shore by a number of pairs of members on both ends.
Govindraya Prabhu, S & Nithyananda Pai, M (2006) The Alupas: Coinage and History.200p.
Sediyapu Krishna Bhat (2008) 'Shabdartha Shodha.' Edited by Dr.Padekallu Vishnu Bhat. Rastrakavi Govinda Pai Research Centre, Udupi. 361p.
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