The global spread of some of the antique words we presently use in our languages have more prolonged history than we normally imagine, possibly that dates back to early human evolution and civilization. In this context of generally unfathomable antiquity of words it would be meaningless to contend that particular word is derived from Indo Aryan or Dravidian or some other current language group .
‘Aya’ (=the space, dimension or direction; secondary meanings include - flow, number five and divinity (mother, fish,nature, Sun). (Ayita=Sun) etc.) is one such antique word that transcends cultural barriers. Though some may argue that it is a word of Indo- Aryan origin, its presence in Dravidian and other languages may baffle those who attempt to trace its antiquity.
We may conclusively resort to a broader outlook that all languages generated from an initial mother language of an early human civilization and culture.
‘Ayana’ is a word derived from ‘aya’, the space. We have pondered over this word in an earlier post. The word ‘ayana’ in Dravidian languages like Tulu means an annual festival. The word might have been originated from the initial meaning of new crop celebration in a space or domain.
Variants ‘ai’ and ‘ia’
The word ‘aya’ that has spatial attributes and two of its early variants ’ia’ and ‘ai’ are commonly preserved in Dravidian and other (especially African and European) place names. Mumbai and Chennai are two familiar major cities having the suffix –ai. There are many international places and regions that end in suffixes -ia and –ai. Examples include: Arabia, Kenya, Syria, Russia, Asia, Indonesia, Malaya, Australia, Sinai, etc.
The two ancient spatial indicator suffixes -ai (or -ayi) and –ia ( or -iya) are explicitly preserved in many of the Tulu place names.
1.Spatial attribute ‘ai’
Bijai (bija+ai) = Space or area of ‘Bija’ (cashew) cultivation. The present location of KSRTC Bus station in Mangalore.
Kulai (Kula+ai) = Area by the side of Kula (lake). Kulai is a village to the north of New Mangalore Port.
CHENNAI. Chennai is the present forms the capital of Tamilnadu State. Even though the word Chennai is generally considered to be an abbreviated form of “Chennapatnam”, it is suggested here that it could a compound of two original words ‘chenna’ and’ ai’. Chenna +ai . = A beautiful place.
MUMBAI = Mumba+ayi. A place named after Mumba, the mother Goddess.The word 'ayi' has dual meanings(a) a sacred place as well as (b) a mother. (See end note of this post)
VASAI= A creek near Thane Mumbai. Va+s+ai. A habitation area. (Vasa=living area).[Discussed in earlier post on suffix -va]
The suffix –ai has been compounded with another ancient spatial suffix va and has formed compound suffix -vayi.
Peruvayi =( Peru+va+ai). A large habitation or area. Peruvayi is a border village in Bantval Taluk.
Beluvayi = (Belu+va+ai). A habitation of ‘Bellu’ (=white) people.T he ‘Bellu’ or the white skinned tribes were possibly immigrants into southern India during a specific time duration in the past.
Direction indicator -ai
The NEWS direction indicators in Tulu also end with suffix –ai.
MooDai (mooDa+ai . Direction of Sun Rise. Eastern direction)
Tenkai (tenk+ai. Southern direction)
PaDDayi (paD+ai . Direction of Sun set?. Eastern direction) Paddayil = Western house.
Badakai .(baDag+ai ) Northern direction. Village name Badakabail.
Equivalents: ai=aNa (aNu, aNe)=ana
There is another Tulu and Dravidian spatial suffix –aNu or –ana discussed in earlier posts. Note that the direction indicator words in Kannada employ –aNa suffix instead of –ai suffix as in Tulu region. Kannada examples are : mooDaNa (=Eastern), paDuvaNa (=Western), baDagaNa (=northern) and tenkaNa (=Southern). Thus the usage of -ai in Tulu areas and -aNa in Kannada areas for the same directional words suggest that these suffixes (-ai and -aNa or -aNu) essential ly have the same meaning.
Directional Suffix -ana
Interestingly, in Puttur region of Tulunadu the directional suffix –ana is used instead of -aNa or- ai . The –ana suffix appears to be a variant of –aNa suffix. Note the following village names of Puttur region:
PaDnur . (paD +ana + ur).=Western village.
MuDnur(=Eastern village). Nettanige Mudnur. Etc.
Thus, we can conclude that suffixes Ai=an or aN r aNu. However,these are general spatial indicators and should not be considered as mere suffixes. In many place names they constitute the prefixes. For example: Ayikala (also written as Aikala or Ikala), Andhra, Ankola, etc.
It appears that –ai suffix was also used extensively to indicate fish names in Tulunadu . Note the name of species of common marine fishes like : Būtāi, Maruvayi, Kaduvayi, Koddeyi, Yerabai, etc.
Aayere, Eeyere : river banks
Aya and iya are also employed to indicate the nearer and distant banks of the rivers in Tulu words ‘aayere ‘ (aa+ere=that or distant river bank) and ‘eeyere’ (ee+ere =this or nearer bank of river).
2.Spatial attribute ‘ia’
There are several villages in the Karavali region having a spatial suffix of-ia or -iya in their names.
Iddya. (Ida+ia). A place of Ida or Idava (=Yedia, Yedava, Yadava) tribes. Iddya is a urban area south of Surathkal, Mangalore
Kinnya. (Kinn+ia). A small place? Kinnya is avilage in southern part of Mangalore Taluk. There is one more ‘Kenya’village in Sullia Taluk.[ These names have similarity to Kenya, the African place/region name. These place-names might have been borrowed from the ancient African immigrants into Tulunadu.]
Murulya .(Murul+ia). Murul is a wild berry /fruit, also known as Punarpuli or birinda. Murulya in Puttur Taluk might have been named after ‘Murul’(=Punarpuli) fruit bearing trees.
Kalya. (kal=rock + iya=area). A rocky village, near Belman and Sooda, Karkal taluk.
Neria .(Ner+ia.) Neria is a village on the edge of Western Ghats in Belthangadi Taluk. Ner=edge? Or water? Some consider suffix- -ner to be a form of –nagar.
PEENYA .(pee+an+ia). Pee=?. Peenya is the name of burgeoning industrial outskirt of Bangalore city.
Sampya. (Samp+ia). Sampu=cool. A cool place! Sampya is village in Puttur Taluk on the way to Sullia.
Sullia. (Sul+ia.) Sul= a meandering river or whirlpool. Sullia = an area besides a meandering river.
Suria. (sur+ia). Suru=initial ? Suria is a village near Ujire in Belthangadi Taluk.
In the toponym Yana the spatial attribute 'ia' occurs as a prefix.
Yana. (iya+Na). A place with picturesque cliffs of limestone rock outcrops, located between Kumta and Sirsi, Uttar Kannada district. Compare the word Yana with Yanekal,or Yenagudde,the pillar like vertical standing column of rock outcrop.
Aya and -ia are extensively used in African and Asian place names. Note some of the place names from Turkey: Antalya Alanya Konya Malatya Kutahya Aksaray Amasya Aantakya Wardiya Sulova etc.
Aya = directional movement or inflow as in aya, the income.Prakrit,Hindi word aya (verb) means that a person came.
Aya=immigration or place of origin indicator, In Tulu for example,Orapadithaya means one hailing from Orapadi.
Ai ,since Sumerian days meant number five.Derived words Ain and Aidu for five ,exist in Tulu and Kannada.
Ay= an ancient cattle-herder tribe similar to Yeda,Yedava, Yadava or Ida.
It can be concluded that the word ‘aya’ and its variants ‘a(y)i ‘and ‘(y)ia’ represented significant spatial or geographic features with divine connotations. The word was also applied to names of fishes, because of divine implications. It can be recalled that early civilizations venerated fish as a divine representation. Indus Valley culture provides ample proof for this. Further, along the historical timeline the fish (Matsya avatar) was adopted as the first of the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu.
The word ‘Ayi' also means ’mother’ in Prakrit and derived languages like Marathi. The application probably originated from the matriarchal families and practice of the cult of Mother Goddess worship (Kali , Durga and Shakti etc).
Similarly, Aita( as in Tulu names Ayitappa; 'Aditya' in Sanskrit) represented the Sun God.
Ayi also means beauty, as in Tulu phrase 'aita aapini'= to adorn or to decorate or the process of beautification.
-with inputs from Hosabettu Viswanath.