Our inadequacy in understanding the original historical and pre-historical environs and the socio-cultural settings, often introduces certain degree of ambiguity in the interpretation of place-names and the actual meanings originally intended by our forefathers. This aspect has been adequately emphasized in several of our previous posts.
Kudupu is one such village name that deserves attention of aficionados of evolution of our language and culture. Kudupu is a minor temple town located in the outskirt of present Mangalore city, known as abode of combined Subramanya and Naga worship. Many devout people consider this place on par with ‘Kukke Subramanya’ known for the atonement of what is described as ‘Naga-dosha’ in religious circles.
Three layers of history
At least three superposd layers of theologic history -with estimated periods of origin -can be delineated in the Kudupu area,which was a part of the Alupa domain of ancient Mangalore. The Kudupu is geographically located to the North of Kulashekar and Alape area of historical significance:
1.Early Kudupa/Koda (Naga) worship ca.400BC -400 CE
2.Kanda/Kumara (Subramanya) worship ca 400CE -800 CE
3.Ananta Padmanabha worship ca.800CE-1200CE
The three layers of history overalapped one after the other sequentially, wherein the chronologically earlier cults were absorbed and fused into the subsequent cults.
Let me draw your attention to the available evidences relating to the definite antiquity of this place before going to the analysis of the place name. The Naga worship is apparently quite ancient in Tulunadu possibly not younger than ca 600-400 BC. There are several villages in Tulunadu that carry place-names suggestive of Naga worship. Naguri, Nagur, Nagarbavi, Nagarkall, Uchila, Ujjodi, etc.
I prefer to add Kudupu and Kodavur to this list of Naga villages.
Kudupu is now famous for the temple built around ancient anthills representative of Naga worship cult and the worship of the popular Deity Anantha Padmanabha.
River that dried up
There are ’sthala - purana’ (site/village history) that describe the religious sanctity of the temple-town. In the cited theological ‘village history ‘ there is an interesting reference to a river “ Bhadra Saraswati Tirtha” flowing nearby the temple of Kudupu. The person who put together the village history was aware of the geographic fact that a river and later a lake (partial remains of a dried up river) existed in the area. It is interesting because presently there is no river near Kudupu. Since the village history is built around the devotion of Subramanya and Anantha Padmanabha ,possibly in that sequence, it can be predicted that it was originally compiled between the period of 4th to 7th Century CE. Thus it can be predicted that the river dried up somewhere during this period. The original Naga worship predates the phases of Subramanya and Anantha Padmanabha worships, and hence the initiation of Naga worship at Kudupu can be dated back to a period older than 4th Century CE.
However, the distinct valleys near Kudupu suggest that a river was flowing in the area once upon a time!
Etymology of Kudupu
Kudupu= to shrug off, to shiver (b) a variant of ‘kodapu’ (=to sting ) (c) ‘kudumpa’= a large stinging ant. (d) Kudupa/Kudpa= a male name (of tribal origin); possibly a stinging serpent or Serpent God, the usage derived from the one who stings. Therefore, the term ‘Kudupa’ originally represented a tribe who worshipped serpent God, a Naga worshipping tribe and Kudupu was their hamlet.
‘Kedu’= a boil or growth on the skin or infection. Earlier generation of Tulu people believed that skin boils, carbuncles etc were developed due to curse of Naga God and they prayed and offerings to Naga God for cure and relief from such scourges.
Later the food grain (horse gram) grown by the natives was also called Kudu. Kudu (=horse gram) one of the earliest food crops grown in south India, looks similar to ‘kedu’ outgrowths on the skin or vice versa.
‘Kudubi’= a tribal farmer, originally one who grows ‘kuDu’.
Kudubi, kudupa, kuduba, kuruba, kuduma, kodama, korama, kor, and koraga etc early tribal names might have been the variants applied to related or unrelated tribes spread in spatially different regions.
‘Kudpa’ or ‘Kudupa’ was a popular male name among the earlier generation of Tulu people. It is also true that many of the popular names were borrowed from actual tribal names, for example Koraga, Mudda, etc. Kuduma or Kodama was also a variant name of a former tribe, apart from being a personal name. There are villages in Tulunadu that bear the name ‘Kuduma’ or Kodamānu. Incidentally , renowned temple town Dharmasthala was formerly known as Kuduma.
The other variant ‘Kodama’ is also preserved in the village name ‘Kodaman’. There are several other ‘KoDa-‘ villages such as Kodavur,Kodanjikal,Kodange,Kodakal,Kodapadavu, Kodimbadi, etc.
There is one more proof for the above suggested derivation of ‘KoDa’=Naga. It is the name of a Tulu Spirit, namely the ‘Kodamanittaya’. The puzzling unexplained word ‘KoDa-mani’ should be the equivalent of the ‘naga-mani’ or the mythical gem on the hood of the Naga God.
Therefore, based on the foregoing analysis it may be tentatively concluded that the village ‘Kudupu’ was an early habitation of serpent worshipping tribes called ‘Kudupas’. And in their language, the word Kudupa, Kodapa or Koda represented the Naga, their God.
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 Culture.by 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
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