Friday, January 23, 2009

171. Bannanje

Among the Tulu and Kannada words that have an indistinct source is -Banna. The word 'Banna' forms the core of village names like Bannanje, Bannadi, Bannur,Banneraghatta and probably also Banavasi.
Bannanje, Bannadi
The Karavali village name Bannanje has been made famous by celebrated scholar Bannanje Govindacharya. In Bannanje (Banna+anje) as well as in Bannadi (Banna+aDi), the word 'banna' forms the core.
The nearest known analogous words for 'banna' are- 'bana' (=forest), 'baNNa' (=colour) and 'bannana' (=calamity, problem). Banni (Prosopsis cinaria, Linn.(Mimosaceae) is a tree revered by Kings during Dasara festivities.(Note the place 'Banni Mantapa' in Mysore where traditional Dasara celebrations are conducted.)However none of these provide relevant meaning to the cited place names.
Similarly, there is a hamlet known as Bannadka near Padumarnad,  Mudabidri.

Bannerghatta in the outskirts of Bangalore city provides better clue to the origin of the word. Bannera ghatta represents the 'ghatta' (=hilly terrain) inhabited by the people called 'Banner'(plural of Banna).
And who are these Banner or the Banna?

Ethiopian tribe
The search for the roots of Banna takes us back to African-Ethiopian connections. Banna are an Ethiopian tribe. The Banna tribes presently live in South Omo Province in the southwestern region of Ethiopia.The place names like Banna-anje and Bannera-ghatta in southern India suggest that some of these banna tribes migrated and settled in parts of southern India in the historical past.

Banavasi area near Sirsi in Uttara Kannada district formed important centre of socio-political significance during the history. On the basis of analogy of names it can be suggested that originally Banavasi was something like 'Bannavashe' that was transformed to stylish 'Banavasi' with passage of time. There are village names like Kervashe (near Karkala) that are similar to Bannavashe.

A few Banna tribes appear to have migrated to southern India and merged with the regional social environs during or prior to the onset of Common Era. Banna were a dominant tribes of socio-political significance in southern India. The 'Bannaya' title was referred to respected persons in Tulunadu. Banna proper names and surnames were common among early Buddhist and Jain people including rulers. We hear about Banna Perumal in Kerala history. Similarly Bannaya, Kundara-bannaya, Bannintaya, Bannanjethaya etc surnames were common among Brahmins of Tulunadu.
The 'Banni tree' could have been a prickly shrub brought by or popularized by the Banna tribes.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

170. Inna, Innanje, Innoli

Antonios Vasileiadis, a scholar from Athens, Greece shares the opinion that many of our words have been borrowed or imported from Mediterranean, Africa regions along with immigrants.
He conveyed the following comments (under the post 77 in this blog).

“The Kodavas explain that by saying "Poly-poly Deva" ask Gods for " more or many more" and is the exact meaning the Greek word" Poly" has. You use it today when you say Polytechnic or Polyclinic. South Indian languages have given a lot of help to lost Mediterannean word's meanings. We were puzzled what the word Korymbas ( of the people present at God Zeus birth) was meaning. Finally I figured out that Korumbas in South Indian languages means "SHEPHERDS".Well with the tradition were shepherds are present at the birth of every miraculously born and then tortured,killed and resurrected God. For you Sheep is " kuri ' for the ancient Greeks it is "kura ".
As I ended a paper presented at the 2007 Indian and South Indian History Congress -
we are more close related than what we think. “
To the list of imported /immigrant derived Tulu words discussed in earlier posts I would like to add Inna. The word Inna has a distinct place in Tulu language, even though we may have forgotten what it exactly means. I stress the word forgotten because we do not find easy explanation to its meaning. For example, our Tulu Nighantu does not carry an entry or clues to the possible meaning to this word : Inna.
At least three villages in the Tulunadu namely Inna, Innanje and Innoli have preserved this word 'Inna' as fossil toponyms of our forgotten heritage.
The name 'Inna' survives in Central Asia and Europe as a feminine proper name. The word Inna in Russian languages means rough water and thus the word possibly represents a wild river. This meaning seems appropriate because all our Inna-villages (Inna, Innanje, Innoli) are located proximal to rivers.
Migration of human tribes on continental scale along the path of history is a reality considering the distribution pattern of genetic features and characteristics. The word 'Inna' must be one of the ancient words brought by the migrating people from Mediterranean -Mid-Asia region to Karavali region during course of early history. Thus human tribal settlements near the wild rivers were named 'Inna' with or without village-indicator suffixes.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

169. Aroor : A cluster village

The existence of clustered villages in Karavali has been discussed in earlier posts. Aroor, in Udupi taluk is another cluster village located on the northern banks of River Madisal.It can be approached from the Brahmavara-Pethri road.
Six hamlets namely Kurdunje, Tenkabettu, Belmaru, Adpu, Arjelu and Mel-arjelu together constitute the village known as Aroor (Aar + oor =six hamlets/village).These hamlets were known for six 'MaTas' (religious centres).

Monday, January 19, 2009

168. Baindur, Bayandar

Baindur is a coastal town located to the north of Kundapur. The 'Bainda' is an old Kannada variant of the word 'Baidya'. The Baidya were the native doctors or shamans among the ancient Bhil or Billava tribes. The famous Tulu heroes Koti and Chennaya were from the Baidya subcommunity of Billavas. Thus the Baind+oor refers to the village of Baidya or Baidyas.
Bayandar is an equivalent place name in Maharastra. The word 'Bayanda' is an alternate form of Bainda or Baidya. Thus Bayanda+ar refers to the ar (place) of Bainda or Baidya.
ShamBa Joshi has written about the presence of Kannada language and culture in Maharstra region in the historical past. Thus the place name Bayandar is another evidence in favour of the presence of analogous words in Kannada and Maharastra regions.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

167. Padubidri: Relic of an ancient river

The toponyms Bedra, Bidri, Bidar or Bidare stands for bamboo grove ('bedur' in Tulu; 'bidir' in Kannada). It can be presumed that in early days habitation near bamboo groves were designated as Bedra or Bidare. There is a 'Bidar' town in the northern terminus of Karnataka. And there are two 'Bidare's in Tulunadu known as 'Padubidare' (=Western 'Bidare') and 'Mudubidare' (=Eastern 'Bidare') the two being separated laterally by some 20 kms. The Mudubidare and Padubidare came into prominence because of being historical centres of royal administration by the Tulu kings and chieftains.

(Above):The narrow estuary of River Kamini.

Padubidri is a small town on the coastal NH 17 located between the twin cities of Mangalore and Udupi. The Padubidri-Kuduremukh road connects Karavali towns to Sringeri, Horanadu and other places in Chikmagalur district. Padubidri is well known in the region for annual car festival of Mahalingeshwara Maha Ganapathi Temple and the bi-annual 'Dakke Bali' Naga worship ritual at Brahmasthana, held in odd years , the last ritual was held in 2007 and the next Dakke Bali festival is due to begin during January 2009.

The Padubidri can be developed into a marine Port for handling coal required for the thermal power project that is coming up near Nandikur village. To the east of Padubidri, in the limits Nadisal village is a Special Economic Zone where M/s Suzlon Infrastructure Limited is commissioning a Wind Mill manufacturing facility.
There are a number of interesting places near Padubidri: Hejamadi, Palimar, Nandikur, Balukunje, Ulepadi, Mundkur, Inna, Santhur etc. Some of these places can be discussed in further posts.

Salian Padubidri
Hosabettu Viswanath drew my attention to an interesting article written by Salian Padubidri of Bangalore ('Mogaveera' March 2006 issue, Kannada) entitled 'Whether West Coast is a creation of a Tsunami?'. The author has discussed some of the perplexing paleo-geographic data gathered around Padubidri under the broad title of creation of West Coast.

Wooden remains
Salian reports that a two inch thick wooden remains associated with black clays were found, while digging for an open-well, at a depth of about 5m (ca.16 ft) below the ground surface in Paduhitlu-Kotiyar area, in the western part of Padubidri. The wooden relics have been considered as remains of a ship that was struck up in the area. The reported site is about two kilometers east of the present coastline and is located in the bed of a partly lost river called 'Kamini'.

Fluctuation of beach-line
Apart from the wood, buried sea shells have been reported from sand beds near Yermal, where a keel and anchor of a ship also has been reported. These evidences suggest that the sea coast was further landward in the past and/or an estuary might have been existed in the Yermal coastal area.
The west coast has experienced several phases of transgressions and regressions of the coastline in the past. And one of these regression event has been attributed to the legendary power of the axe of mythological character of Parashurama.
However, all these events should not be mixed up or confused with evidences of a partly lost or mutilated rivulet that was a powerful river once upon a time.

Peat formation
Several instances of such occurrence of wooden remains have been reported from the region especially around Hejamadi, Yermal, Palimar, Baikampadi and Ullal. While some natives consider the wooden pieces to be the remains of old ships, geologists have identified such material as peat. The peat is a form of ancient decayed wood or plant remains buried in the earth. Peat is the initial product in the process of formation of lignite and coal. The peat in Karavali is usually associated with black clays which occur along the course of several ancient river valleys.

Kamini- Relict of an ancient river
The available geological data reveal that the Sahyadri ranges (or the Western Ghats) came into being as a result of regional earth movements about 12 to 20 million years ago. At least two generations of rivers can be recognized in the Karavali region: (1)those formed before the rise of Sahyadri ranges and (2) those formed after the rise of Sahyadri ranges.
The earlier pre-Sahyadri generation of rivers were modified or attenuated variably during the rise of Sahyadri ranges. The Kamini river near Padubidri is one example of a pre-Sahyadri river that has shrunken in morphology as a result of earth movements connected with the rise of Sahyadri ranges.
Overall morphology of the relict river appears like a curvy serpent in the topographic map.
Remains of the partly vanished river can still be seen to the north of Padubidri town in the form of broad valley. River Kamini apparently was navigable once upon a time; the streams feeding the river dried up eventually so that now one cannot easily visualize the existence of a bygone full-fledged river. The coastal part of the river still remains appearing more like a inland lake stretching parallel to the beach strip; it joins the Arabian Sea with a curvaceous slender estuary segment near Alive Kodi or the Padubidri 'End point'. The estuary or the river-sea meeting point is so slender,shallow and narrow (about 15 m wide in low tide) that people cross it on foot along the sandy beach to reach adjacent sandy beach strip of Hejmadi. In the lacustrine remains of the former river natives catch sumptuous fishes using throw nets.
Salian Padubidri has referred to this rivulet as 'Kamini' River, reflecting part of the historicity preserved among local people. However many locals are not aware of the name of this rivulet. It is also not known at this juncture whether any reference to this particular Kamini river exists in Tulu historical documents like sthala-purans and paD-danas.

The coast parallel limb of the Kamini river was probably formed some two centuries ago approximately coeval with similar coast-parallel changes in Gurupur River.

Natural changes
We normally assume that man-made factors like reclaiming of shallow river bed and consequential encroachment and diversion of tributary streams /rivulets for irrigation and socio-political purposes may have contributed to the alteration of original geographies. However the modification and mutilation of Kamini river can be attributed to natural earth movements (especially those events connected with the rise of Sahyadris) that induced drastic changes in the river morphology.

Hosabettu Viswanath recollects witnessing a fatal accident that occurred while he was holidaying in the Karavali during November 1977 on vacation from Pune. An ill-fortuned autorickshaw collided with a rushing express bus on the NH-17 near the culvert north of Padubidri and nose-dived into the watery valley that represents remains of the lost river Kamini.
Viswanath who was on the way though studied the area deeply could not decipher at that pathetic moment that it was the area occupied by the mutilated river. He recalls what Winston Churchill funnily spoke of not discovering the truth sometimes:
'Men occasionally stumble over the truth but most of them pick themselves up as if nothing ever happened”

Reconstructing River Kamini
Some outlines of the lost River Kamini can be put together based on the available geologic data. The river was flowing along NNE to SSW direction north of Padubidri town and joining the Arabian Sea approximately north of the present estuary point known as Alive-kodi.

It can be suggested the river took a southward coastal bend possibly during the late 18th century, more or less coinciding with the time-event of the abrupt southward turn of Gurupur River.
Similarly it can be deduced based on circumstantial geological evidences that the peat formations were formed by the decay of plants and woods transported from upland regions along the River Kamini during some 8 to 20 million years ago. This would put the age of River Kamini to that bygone geological period when the Sahyadri ranges were rising slowly upward in response to the tectonic events in the region.

Special thanks to Salian Padubidri for provoking us to look into the antecedents of the River Kamini.

Written with Hosabettu Viswanath.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

166.Tulu Onomastics

Onomastics (Nama Vijnana) means ‘study of names in all aspects – personal, place, pet, nicknames, brand, etc. Onomasticians try to answer following questions about given names:
What they mean – their etymology or origin
How they are used in various cultures
Why some are chosen by parents more often than others

‘What is in a name?’ is a Shakespearean quote in ‘Romeo and Juliet’, which is a tragic tale of “star-cross’d lovers”, named Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet, belonging two warring families. Juliet says,
“What‘s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet”

Here what Juliet emphasizes is that name is an artificial and meaningless convention, and that she loves the person who is called ’Montague’, not the Montague name and not the Montague family. When Romeo drops his family name ‘Montague’, she asks him to deny (his) father and in stead be baptized anew as “Juliet’s lover”. Thus, Shakespeare proves the limitation of the term ‘name’ by suggesting that regardless of what we call it, a rose would smell sweet.

Yet, there is something else to names. It is ‘some quality that makes names the brocade of that apparel.’ It is a kind of language propriety – one of distinction and differentiation. It is chosen, conferred and announced. Names have meanings instead of definitions.

The study of Personal names is called Anthroponomastics. In Tulunadu, until the close of the last Century one has come across odd personal names. Meaning of most of them is funny, contemptuous, and inscrutable. It is a challenging job to decipher the mystery of it, as can be seen in Ancient Proper Names (Post No 127) in this Blog.

Toponymy or Topomastics or the study of Place-names, is one of the principal branches of Onomastics. There are no historical records to understand the meanings of Place-names in Tulunadu. We do not have a glimmer of an idea of their actual history. So we are trying to explore the origin of odd names prevalent in Tulunadu based on fossils of words, spoken by many tribes - known and unknown. Keeping this in mind, Posts No 111 to 152, especially 141.Village Name suffixes and 162.Evolution of Tulu language were written but feed-backs from readers are not forthcoming.

George R. Stewart
The man, who humanized ‘onomastics’ is George R. Stewart. He was an American toponymist, a novelist, and a Professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley. He is a founding Member of American Name Society (ANS), a non-profit Association founded in1951 to promote onomastics both in United States and abroad. It seeks to find out what really is in a name, and to investigate cultural insights, settlement history and linguistic characteristics revealed in names. The Society provides members with several vehicles for the discussion and publication of onomastic theory, view and concepts. There is another Organization, called ‘International Council of Onomastic Sciences (ICOS), represented by scholars. It is a name-research organization on international level and in an inter-disciplinary context.

Tulu Onomastics
Writings on this subject are negligible in Tulu. To enrich Tulu Onomastics, a Society like ANS is desirable, nay required, for collective efforts. It will help our posterity to improve it further. Readers to this Blog are being invited to contribute their knowledge about place names in Tulunadu. But feed-backs are not to the level expected.
Active participation by the readers would greatly invigorate our modest efforts in updating the Tulu Typonyms.

-Hosabettu Viswanath

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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