Friday, January 29, 2010

226. Tēr, the idol car

The annual car festivals popularly known as ‘Rathotsva’ in the temples of Tulunadu are celebrated with pomp and gaiety. Taking the 'Utsava Moorthy' (=procession idol) of the temple, decked in a chariot, in a procession around temple and bye-lanes of the village provides devotees a better glimpse of the idol of deity, which is otherwise kept inside the sanctum sanctorum of the temple. This has psychological benefits to the devotees as it fills them up with certain positive energy and wards off any untoward fear and ill-omens. Besides, pulling the chariot on the festive occasion gives a psychological relief and satisfaction to devotees.
In Tulu, the temple idol car is known as ‘tēr’. Similar words exist in other sister southern Indian Dravidian languages ( ‘ter’ Tamil and Malayalam, ‘teru’ Kannada and Telugu). It would be interesting to explore the origin of this custom along with the origin of the word.
Structure of Tēr
The temple cars or the idol chariots of Tulunadu typically consist of four large and heavy wooden wheels that carry a superstructure of consisting of a large and massive, wooden circular pedestal that is wider at top and narrows down toward the wheel base. A decorated wooden enclosure (room like built structure) is mounted on the massive pedestal to accommodate the idol and the priests. Above the idol room, a large globular superstructure is built and systematically decorated with uniform sized colored flags. The whole decorated chariot structure readied to roll on the four wooden wheels makes an impressive sight that invokes pious emotions among the devotees, year after year.

The decoration of the ‘superstructure’ with flags etc., seems specific to regions. The famous sculpted rock chariot of Vijayanagar period (14 century CE) at Hampi, Bellary district, for example, does not sport this kind of superstructure. The famous chariots of Lord Jagannath temples of Puri , Orissa have a pyramidal superstructure rather than globular as in the Karavali.
The ‘tēr ‘ festivity associated with Hindu temples, probably evolved during 6th Century CE onwards.
Bhadriraju Krishnamurthy (2003) in his famous work “The Dravidian languages”( p.19)reports that “there was no word for cart and a wheel until much later time. In literary languages there was ancient word *tēr ‘chariot’ used on the battle field or as temple car… The word occurs in South Dravidian I and Telugu. The origin of this word is not clear.”
The unclear origin of the word is probably due to clubbing of the words ‘tēr’ and ‘dēr’ together in the Dravidian Etymological Dictionary (DEDR) entry No 3459. The other two related words cited in DEDR [3459] are:
1. Kota word: ‘dēr’= god, possession of a diviner by god. ‘Tēr kārn‘ =‘diviner’.
2. Toda’ tor od ‘(shaman) is dancing and divining.
The confusion apparently is because of unintentional clubbing together of analogous but semantically different words.

However, on analysis it appears that the Dravidian word ‘tēr’ could one of the ancient original words for the basic circular structure or the wheels! It could be directly related to one of the Proto-Dravidian (PD) root words, ‘tir’ constructed by Bhadriraju Krishnamurthy (2003).
The word ‘tir’ means to turn, move or change (direction etc).The word ‘tēr’ is a derivative or variant of ‘tir’. Or, the proto word ‘tēr’ may be considered as another PD, related to the PD ‘tir’. There are other derived words in Tulu that attest to the existence of independent word tēr, such as ‘teriya’, ‘teran țe’ etc. Therefore, PD. ‘tēr’=wheel, coil, circular form, revolve, speed off etc.
teriya’= a head pad of cloth; a long strip of cloth fashioned into circular ring (equal or smaller than the diameter size of head) to be used as a protective pad for carrying head loads in the past.
teranțe= a millipede, a worm that commonly coils into a circular form on fear.
Besides, the word ‘teraisu’ (=to run away) used in medieval Kannada texts may be cited here.
Divine dēr
The word ‘dēr ‘ as a slang of ‘dever’(= the God), was probably introduced, along with the proliferation of the temple cult. Earlier to introduction of temple cult in Tulunadu, Spirits (known as ‘Satyolu’ or ‘deyyolu’) were the major form of worship. The word ‘deyya’ (Holy Spirit) later got corrupted and acquired the derisive meaning of devil as in Kannada.
The word form ‘dēr ‘cited in DEDR as a Kota word, also exists in Tulu. There are several place names in Tulunadu such as Derlakatte, Derebail etc. 'Dever Kattegu baripini', is the phrase associated with designated 'katte' (a platform of stone around a peepal tree), from where the temple deity idol or a new wooden statue of Maariamma for the annual festival is carried in procession.

In Spirit worship it was customary since ancient days for impersonator of the Spirit to invoke the Spirits on his body. During the transition of religious faiths from Spirit worship to temple cults, the priests had to imitate the shamans act especially during the ceremony of entering the idol car. The temple priest carrying the idol on his head, mildly shivering as if in a state of trance, saunters in dancing steps forward and backward several times in front of chariot and finally climbs the steps and places the idol inside the chariot. Even today this is one of the impressive rather mesmerizing scenarios associated with the festival of temple idol cars.
However, the word 'dēr' is not free from overall confusion,since 'dēr'(2, =drive off) can also mean drive away it may represent driving off 'Maari'(contagious disease, notionally) or driving cattle for grazing in a grass field.It seems the dēr2(=drive off) is derived from tēr(=revolve or speed away).

There are two more words related to wheels and carts: banďi and gāďi :

The word ‘Bandi ‘(=cart; Tulu, Kannada, Telugu) or ‘vanti’ (‘Tamil, Malayalam) is said to have been derived from the Sanskrit word ‘bhanda’(=goods) and Prakrit word ’ bhandi’. However, while word ‘banda ‘(= goods) is also available in Tulu (as in ‘banďasāle’), it appears that these could have been derived from or related to an older word ‘pāndi’ (=a large merchant boat, carrying goods). It seems pāndi> bandi. Similar p>b transitions are there, for example, pangala >bangala.
Gāli, gāna
Another old native word for wheel/ cart is ‘gāďi ‘,gāņa’, ‘gāli’,(Tulu Kannada), ‘gāņu’, ‘gālu’(Telugu) or kāl (Tamil). Bhadriraju Krishnamurthy [2003]suggest that the word is related to kāl (leg).
It is here the concept of PD words require reassessment.
We have been suggesting in our earlier posts that many Dravidian words formed or evolved over an older substratum of pre-Dravidian words. We have designated this pre-Dravidian as older Munda substrata. We find several relicts of this older Munda words in many of the Tulunadu place names.
In these many proto-words characteristically had short words with simple CV notation. Some of such preserved short words are na, mi, mu, ku etc. Let us designate them as proto-Munda words.
In this case, the original proto word was ‘ga’(‘ka’ in Tamil) which represented motion , rotation or movement. From the ‘gā’ root, gāli, gāLi, gāna, gādi etc words evolved later on. The same ‘ga’ was also root for Sanskrit ‘gamana’(=attention, movement etc).

-with Hosabettu Vishwanath.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

225. Mura, the laterite

Languages, like those of Dravidian Group, are like large botanical farms spread over millions of hectares of land, with lateral variations in morphology.Like farms, the languages also grow and evolve in situ in the region. But the words are like seeds or seedlings.They can be brought from other regions or can be carried to other regions along with the migrants. When we decipher that so and so word may have been brought from an African or other source people jump to negate instantly comparing that the two languages (donor and receipent) are starkly different in terms of linguistic structure and composition.
Like the farms, languages are not static. They evolve over a period of time. History is a prolonged period of time.The past may have been tumultuous periods when one set of well grown languages, due to socio-cultural clashes, were eventually overpowered and modified over a period of time into another set of languages.
East African word
To the list of words derived from African sources, we may add one more word now familiar in Tulu language. In the coastal region laterite is a common occurrence.Most of the area is covered by a hard cap of reddish or brownish rock known as ‘laterite’ and we call it ‘mura’ or murakallu. Murakallu is a familiar soft rock rock that hardens upon exposure to daylight.Murum is used in civil engineering also. While levelling and paving or ashpalting, rubbles are spread and murrum is put over these stone pieces.
It is difficult to estimate the period when the laterite were cut into bricks and used for construction of houses.However, if you see the traditional large axe that is employed to cut the bricks, you may be reminded of the legends of Parasurama.

The laterite in East Africa is known as ‘murrum’ in their language. It is possible that early human migrants carried this word from East Africa to the Tulunadu.

Friday, January 22, 2010

224. Mittabāgilu

A panorama of Kudremukh ranges from Mittabagilu area (Photo: Padmashree.)

One of the most enchanting panoramic splendors in the Dakshina Kannada district can be witnessed if you travel from Ujire on the Suria- Mittabāgilu- Didupe road, in the northeastern part of Belthangadi Taluk, bordering Chikmagalur district. You can witness the charming beauty and glory of the southern part of Kudremukh iron ore ranges from Mittabāgilu village.

The simple sounding place name ‘mitta-bāgilu’ is a bit perplexing. Literally, ‘mitta’ (=upper) and ‘bagilu’ (=door) can simply mean upper door. But can a village name be something like ‘upper door’? Did the beauty of the panorama prompted people to describe the village-name as upper door or door to heaven? However, this is not the actual or originally intended meaning of this village!
The village was originally ‘Mitta bāgelu ‘named after ‘Bage+ilu’ or the habitation of ‘Bage’ sect of Munda tribes.
Bage: Munda tribes
The clue to the place name lies in the name of tribes called ‘Bage’. The Bage is a surname among Munda tribes now distributed in parts of central and eastern India. However, the occurrence and distribution of numerous place names after them suggest that these tribes lived in peninsular India including the Karavali during early history.The Puranic names of Bagiratha and River Bagirathi could have direct affinity to the ancient Bage tribes.
 There are several villages and hamlets named after these tribal groups in the Karavali and in the mainland of Karnataka. Bagvādi (Kundapaur Taluk), Bagabila, Kotebagilu (Mangalore taluk), Bagalodi (Bantval Taluk),Bagepalli (Kolar district), Bagalur and Bagalagunte(Bangalore), Bagilakote and Bagevādi (Bijapur distrct) are some examples.
There is a hamlet known as ‘Bagambila’ near Someshwara –Kotekar villages of Mangalore Taluk. This introduces the word ‘bila’(=cavern) used as a spatial attribute in the early history. Similarly there is one ‘Todambila’ ( hamlet of Toda tribes) near Bantval Muda village.
The place name ‘Bagalkote’possibly has special historical significance. Incidentally, the word ‘Bagal-kote’ mentions location of a fort (‘kote’) of ‘Bage’ tribes! It could also be fusion of two subtribes of Bagelu and Kote. Similar sounding Kote-bagilu is a habitation in Mudabidri town, Mangalore Taluk.This leads us to speculate whether during early historic days, probably pre-Dravidian era, the Bage tribes were ruling in the Bagalkote region.
Bagilthaya, Bhagyantaya
The’ bari’ lineage evidences suggest that with passage of time the ‘Bage’ tribes of Karavali have been assimilated seamlessly into the mainstream of Tulu people. Bagalthaya surname has been preserved in Tulu Brahmin communities. Similarly ‘Bagyantaya’ is a lineage name (‘bari’) among the Bunt- Nadavas of Dakshina Kannada.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

223. Okku in Tulu

The formation of words from a root word is an interesting subject in any language. The simple word 'Okk’ or Okku' in Tulu language (of Pancha Dravida group) is such a root word from which many derivatives and compound words were formed. It is a verb but gives extended meanings in its derivatives. Tulu language has many such words, some of which are losing their usage in present generation, mostly exposed to urban culture.

'Okku’ or specifically ‘Okkunu', simply means to search, pick up, gather or look up for a thing from a heap or mass. As a corollary, it means digging or scratching soil and shuffling the earth all around aimlessly. For example, fowls, birds and pigs scatter earth with their fork like toes in search of food particles or worms. Picking up nit or lice from the hairs (‘Tare Okkuni’) applies to primates or human being.

Okku/Okkunu' in Tulu also means turning the sides (as in Baru okkuni). Paddy is soaked in water for a day and then boiled. It is then spread over in a court-yard to dry. It was customary to stir up these drying paddy grains every now and then to make it dry completely and fit for pounding in 'Barakalas' (=household pounding places for paddy in the olden days).

There are many sayings and idiomatic usages in Tulu related to 'okku’ or ‘okkuni:

1)'Korila Okkuni tan(na) kaaradite!': Hen too scrabbles earth under it legs only. This means, one strives for one's benefits only, i.e. The selfish nature of beings.

2)'Okkunaatu nakru tikkunda, panjilaa pakka pOvandu' (Means a pig goes on scrambling in one place if it finds more and more earthworms). It can be inferred that howsoever a work is difficult or dangerous, one is not tired of sticking to it if it is profitable.

Okka in general means one or one class. Eg. Okkai (=single handed), Okkannu or Okkanna (=one eye/eyed), Okkatteru (=persons belonging to one community, as is customary to address agriculturists of Tulunadu), Okkoota (=association of people with identical interests or professions), Okkuduve (=only one son), Okkaaru (=one leg), Okkoralu(=with one voice)etc.

Okka 2
Okka 2 means hip, waist or loin. This is a well known Tulu word identified by Michel Witzel in Rigveda to have been borrowed by Sanskrit of early Vedic period . More or less, similar meanings are found in other Dravidian languages.
Some of the derived words in Tulu are noteworthy:
1. Okkanul, Okkaderi: Okkanul means a string or a thin girdle, worn around a waist. With civilization and the development of sense of modesty human beings began to hide their private parts behind bunch of leaves in aboriginal state or later a piece of cloth tied with the help of this thin string. Affluent people started using silver or golden girdles known as ‘okkada nevala’. It was customary for elderly people to give such precious girdles to newly born wards. The traditional loin-cloths, which were common in yester years , naturally minimised the hernia type of problems. These are slowly becoming a thing of the past, with nowadays ’ jungas, briefs and panties taking their place.
Oracle of a Bhuta (Divine spirit) in Spirit worship wears an ornamental girdle, called 'okkaderi' around his waist.

2. Okkada-kuntu: It is a short cloth piece (‘tundu-kuntu’) worn around the waist in earlier years by elderly people in a village. The cloth worn by males was square in size and checquered. At times, they were using it as towel, while bathing in household ponds (These household ponds, dug mainly for watering coconut groves, etc, have disappeared, yielding place to borewells).
3.Tundu-kuntu, forerunner of present day gagras or petticoat, (oblong in shape/size with checks and mostly in red colour) were worn by females, wrapped around waists and downwards upto knee). These were preserver of their chastity and dignity.
There is a funny proverb related to ‘okkada kuntu’ : “ Okkada-kuntu gatti ittunduda, pakkodaye daane malpuve?” (If cloth piece is securely fastened, what can a neighbour do to outrage her modesty?)

At the southern end of Hosabettu village, there was a weaver family, engaged in weaving tundu-kuntu and okkada-kuntu and also cotton blankets. Senior weaver of that family used to vend his wares in the village and in other villages as well. Naughty boys of the village used to tease him by asking: Ireda iruver podepuna kamboli unde? (=Have you a blanket, which can wrap two persons)? He used to retort: “Yes, there is one, which can cover your mother and me (Hna, yanula ninnna appela ottugu podepuna kamboli undu).

4.Okkada panavu
(Money tied near waist). There was a system of father giving pocket money to a bride especially in affluent Bunts families, while she was going to her in-laws' house. She used to tie it in a corner of her saree on the waist. This money comes handy for her to give tips to servants of her in-laws house.
5.Okkada cheela
It is a cotton purse, traditionally stuck near waist by women.

As said earlier, Okku means 'to scatter earth to find out something'. Plough is used to till a field to grow paddy. Words related to Okku are: okkeltana (agriculture), Okkalige/Okkelme (People engaged traditionally in farming).
There is an 'Okkattur' village near Vitla, Bantval Taluk.

Okkelu, Okkele means a tenant of a farming land. According to the land tenancy system of yester years, a tenant occupies farm house (‘okkeladi’), given by a landlord, tills land and gives an agreed portion of yield to his landlord. Mark the sayings:

(1)Okkelu dani ave; Dani okkelu ave (Tenant may become landlord and landlord may become a tenant by quirk of fate). The acquired and general meaning of the term 'Okkelu' is 'occupier of a tenement', whether owned or rented. 'Il okkelu' = conducting house-warming ceremony before occupying

(2)Unandi brananula, undi okkelayanula kenakodchi: Means 'Do not irritate a starving brahmin and a well-fed farmer'. Brahmins, being Learned in scriptures, are known for cursing and farmers are used as soldiers in off crop-seasons by feudal lords if need arises. Hence these farmers are called as 'Bunts, meaning valiant fighters'.
There is one more variant of Okka:
Okku = Orgu > Oggu means 'capable of, compatible, palatable or agreeable.

In a laissez-faire society, group or class of people were following traditional occupations. It was a principle of complete non-interference. This brought forth specialised groups, bound by their own moral rules and rituals. Economy was based on barter system. This can still be observed in Tulunadu by the word 'keka' and 'kekadil', 'kekadangadi'.
'Keka' means an agreement between two (professional) classes to exchange their produce, thus becoming a seller and buyer at the same time. With money unit becoming a means of exchange, supplier of goods becomes seller and one who buys these goods for a fixed price is a buyer. 'Kekadil' means an orally chartered arrangement on faith with the blessings of village divine spirit, to have permanent dealings with assigned houses in a village. This tacit arrangement cannot be transgressed (unless there is a specific permission from a vendor). This system is still current among fisher-women to sell fish bartering it to paddy with assigned houses away from coast.
What we want to stress here how from a root verb 'okku', 'okkelu', and Okkelme have come to stay for the traditional tilling groups, which later on came to be considered as a community, now popularly known as 'Bunts'. Designating communities by professions is a custom, evolved through course of time.

Okku- a slang
There is a naughty slang 'Okku' in a list of Srilankan Tamil slangs. It is swear word, meaning “to have intercourse”. 'Okku' in Tulu means ' to stir up or dig up and
scatter mud. The Srilankan Tamil word has got the acquired meaning of groping or fumbling as in a love-making act.

Dravidian Etymological Dictionary
Dravidian Etymological Dictionary (DED), compiled by T. Burrow & M.B. Emenean, has the following meanings (entries:564,926 and 927)
Tamil: Ukkam (waist), Ukkal (side), Ukklai (the hips), Okkal/Okkalai (hip, side of body).
Malayalam: Ukkam/Ukkal (Middle, hip, side), Okku (hip, loins), Okkil (waist, hip?).
Kodava: Uk (Part of waist-cloth on each hip).
Tulu: Okka (hip, waist)
Sanskrit: Ukha (a particular part of upper leg).
Malayalam: Okkuka (to indent or make furrows)
Prakrit: Okkendi, Okia (a dwelling, residence)
Kannada (Bark.): Okki (to scratch as fowls)
Tulu: Okkuni ((to scratch)
Kor.(T): Ogi (to cut)
Gond (M): Uhcana (To scratch)
Tamil: Ukir (to scratch).
Malayalam: Okkuka (verb) ( Cattle to trample upon sheaves of corn. Noun: Okkal.
Kodava: Ok/Oki (To drive - cattle – round in threshing. Okl (act of threshing one lot of grain completely.
Toda: Wik, Wiky (Bullocks go round in threshng)
*Kannada: Okku (To tread out corn, remove corn from the ears by treading of oxen or thresh with sticks.
*Telugu: Nokku (Verb) (to press, squeeze, pinch. Noun: dent, pressure, squeeze.
(*Note: This usage is in Tulu also).

- Hosabettu Vishwanath.

* *
In summary, we can decipher three root words possibly derived from three different ambient lingual sources:
1. Oku= one. Old form of ‘ek’ (=one).source Prakrit?
2. Okka=waist. Dravidian/Tulu. Early Vedic period. (>1500 BC)
3. Okku =(a) pick up, gather tubers (>3000 BC) . Munda word, later adopted by Dravidian.
Okku= (b) pick up, gather food grains (<.2500 BC).Munda word, later adopted by Dravidian.

Two ‘okku’ usages
Evolution of the two meanings of the ancient Munda word ‘Okku’ are interesting to visualize. Early human tribes, after the hunting stage, resorted to picking and gathering edible tubers from the soils. They applied the word ‘okku’ (as in Tulu) for this process of gathering tubers.In the next stage, especially in the south central peninsular India, they grew pulses like kudu(=horsegram),padengi (=green gram),togori(=redgram) etc.These grains had to be separated from their pods by thrashing on the floor. They re-applied the same word ‘okku’ (as used in Kannada, Telugu etc) for this process of gathering the grains.
Interestingly, the ‘okku’(b) usage is not there in Tulu language. Reason is simple to grasp. While pulses were grown in the Bellary-Andhra region of peninsular India, the same could not be adapted to coastal environs dominated by high rainfall! Rice suitable for high rainfall conditions was not introduced in southern India until ca. 800 BC! Therefore, the coastal tribes had to pursue their ‘okku' (a), tuber gathering habits, till the introduction of rice by the immigrant Tulu Dravidians!
And after the introduction of rice, probably a wooden device known as ‘paDi-manchav’ was also introduced that looked after the process of thrashing the grains.Therefore, the Okku(b) usage was not adopted by the coastal/Tulu tribes.
The word Okkel (=farm house)and its equivalents were developed in the due course from the root 'Okku'.
In Tulu : Okkel=Okku+il. (Kannada: ‘Okkalu’)
In Prakrit : Okkiya=Okku+iya ; or Okkendi=Okku+andi.
Therefore, il=iya. . The suffix -iya is Prakrit equivalent of Dravida –il, the house or habitation. Or 'iya' is a variant of 'il'.There are numerous village names in Tulunadu that carry the suffix –iya. (Sullia, Murulia,Sampya etc. cf: Older posts). While Tulu has not taken in ‘Okkiya’ in place of ‘Okkel’, it is astonishing that many places in Tulunadu have spatial suffix of –iya, indicating the dominant influence of Prakrit speakers on Tulunadu during a specific period of time.
Thus we can infer that Prakrit speakers in Tulunadu were not farmers since ‘okkel’ has not changed to ‘Okkiya’! On the other hand, place names ending with –iya suffix connote the domination of Buddhism (who spoke Prakrit or Pali) in Tulunadu possibly during the period 3rd century BC to 4the century CE.


Saturday, January 16, 2010

222. Bunt and Nadava Evolution: An outline

In view of the revival of interest in Tulu people relating to their history and heritage as evident from the several recent comments that have been posted to this blog and from the several publications that have come out, a summary conspectus on the evolution of the Bunts and the Nadavas appears apt. A few of the recent comments posted on the topic of ‘Bunts & Nairs’ run like this:

1. “I am a bunt originally from udupi and the paddanas I have heard mention us the bunts as nagavansham kshatriya the original nagaradhakas (serpent worshippers) who came from the serpent kingdom of akshikshetra in the north (Badakaye in tulu). Akshikshetra is somewhere in Uttarakhand near Nepal-Tibet border. There Newars or Newari people are known to be serpent worshippers. Do we have a connection to them? Also many of us bunts at least I have slight mongoloid features not very prevalent, but you can observe many of us bunts not all have slightly smaller eyes like B.R.Shetty or Ajit Shetty of Jannsen Pharmaceuticals or even Aishwarya Rai who eyes are slightly smaller and curved .This again points to Scythian Naga origins what say? Bunts are also the comeliest people in south India. Some of us bunts are tanned but never dark.”

2).”The Nadavaru of Ankola, Kumta are not related to the Bunts. They do not practice matrilineality and serpent worship which is integral to bunts, nairs culture. I have seen these nadavaru trying to show relation to us bunts but they are not related expect that Naadava and nadavaru sound similar. But Bunt Nadava and Nadavaru are completely different”

3). “The Bunts and Nairs definitely do not have north Indian connection , the reason being in north India Hinduism was very strong , the nairs and bunts embraced Hinduism very late basically after the brahmins came down to south. This is the reason why inspite the bunts and nairs being warriors by profession were never considered as Kshatriyas by the brahmins but shudras.”

Related genetically
Tulu pāDdana songs, especially, Koraga ‘Urals’ known to pronounce philosophically that the Nadava, Billava and Mogaveera people are the children of the sisters. Since the pāDdanas are composed by some of the aboriginal tribes of the land who have hereditarily witnessed a large span of the bygone history, there may be certain elements of truth in the said dictum. At the same time, as a consequence of periodical immigrations various assimilations have possibly been introduced in most of these communities during the complex course of evolution. Essentially, time and space, with attendant natural factors, have introduced numerous variations, apart from several lines of synthesis, among the various Tulu communities.

Nadava, Bunt and Nair
The tripartite caption basically suggests that it is a composition of at least three groups naturally during the course of historical progression. However, in reality, there could be more than these three individual community units that assimilated or merged with these in the historical past. While this is appears rather explicit in the case of Nadava-Bunts-Nairs, this could be the case with every other Tulu community or even every other group in the world.
Many apparent and obvious facts have been camouflaged during the progressive course of evolution of various communities. The sequential order of Nadava- Bunt- Nair appears to be the actual chronological order of formation of the community, which is one of the major Tulu Diaspora.

NāDava: Origin & antiquity
Nadava, as the word analysis explains, basically represents the cultivator or the farmer. The word ‘naDu’ is to plant seedlings. And the word ‘nāDu’ derived from the root ‘naDu’ originally meant cultivated area. In the course of time, the scope of the meaning of the word ‘nāDu’ was expanded to signify country, a cultivated and evolved area as compared to kāDu the forest. This meaning is obvious when we compare the word ‘nāDu‘(na+aDu) with ‘kāDu’ (ka+aDu). In these words the suffix ‘aDu’ represents area with trees or plants. Compare ‘aDu’ with plain ‘Da’. The latter suffix means area or locality in Munda languages. It is well known that the ‘kāDu’(=forest) areas were converted to ‘nāDu’( cultivated area) with introduction of systematic agriculture during the course of evolution.
Many of the Tulu researchers are searching for Nadava-Bunt roots in various royal families like Shatavahana, Rastrakuta, Chalukya, Jat etc, who lived and reigned during the period 2nd Century CE to10th Century CE or so. The origin of Nadava clan is much more older dating back to not less than ca. 3000 BC in the peninsular India.
It has been deciphered that the agriculture was introduced in the Nile River Valley during 6000 BC. Similar archeo-botanical AMS carbon datings on fossil seed grains recovered from the ash-mounds of Ballary region,Karnataka reveal that during the period 2500-1800 BC pulses like horse-gram(‘kudu’), black-gram('urdu’) and red-gram(‘togori’) were grown in the peninsula(Fuller & Harvey,2006). Note that ‘kuDu’ (=ku+Du =’good crop’; horse gram) was one of the earliest and widely grown pulse in southern India.
One of the interesting facts revealed by archeo-botanical research in southern India is that rice was unknown or not grown in the peninsula up to ca 800-600 BC! It has been suggested that Dravidian immigrant tribes brought the rice cultivation to southern India. Linguists are confused regarding the identity of the agricultural tribes that lived in the peninsula during the period 3000-1000 BC. Fuller & Harvey (2006) and Southworth, for example, have based their analysis and inferences considering that the tribes liveearly natives as Dravidians. However, extensive place names in Tulunadu (and also Karnataka) suggest that widespread clans of Munda tribes were living in these regions in the past.
It has been deduced (especially, in this blog, based on place name analysis) that Munda –Gond Group of tribes lived in different parts of the peninsula, till the immigration of Dravidian tribes. The Dravidian tribes invading from the north introduced the rice cultivation here. Thus ancient the words Da, aDu, kāDu, nāDu, kudu etc must have been originally from the language of early Munda tribes.
Therefore, the earliest NāDava farmers in this terrain were from the Munda, Gond and other ancient tribes. Numerous village names bearing signature of ancient tribes of Aria, Bage, Banna, Bella (Vellar>Ballal), Baira, Bhil, Bonda, Gadaba, Gonda, Idiya, Irava, Kalavar, Kakke, Kannar, Kol, Kosa, Koti, Koya, Kotru, Kukke, Marava, Mande, Munda, Moolya, Pani, Panaba, Yedava and other tribes suggest that these lived once upon a time in the region now known as Tulunadu.
With immigration of Dravidians into the peninsula, and with passage of time, there has been cultural, lingual and genetic assimilation of preexisting and immigrant tribes. Original Munda words, customs and culture have been assimilated into Dravidian languages. In other words Dravidian languages including Tulu grew and evolved on a platform of Munda words and language. Words cited earlier like aDu, Da, kaDu, naDu, kudu, paDi, paDa, vaDa, VaDi, baDa baDi etc were originally from Munda Gond languages but absorbed seamlessly later into the Dravidian.
The surnames and lineage names of Nadavas suggest selective assimilation of several ancient tribes into their folds. Some of the ancient customs prevalent among Nadavas, based on ancient Munda-Gond traditional practices and beliefs also suggest the theme of socio-cultural assimilation during the prolonged course of evolution.
Keshav Shetty Adur (2007) for example cites the custom of ‘moori deepini’ as suggestive of moolya derivation of some nadava clans. The ’moori’ is a small earthen pot.It is being worshipped in some Ballal families as a form of divinity. It is possible that the ‘moori’ (=earthen pot) represents the original and primitive form of ‘kalasha’ pooja, which evolved subsequently to replace the ancient earthen vessel with a metal (usually copper or brass) pitcher.
And other streams of Nādava farmers were spread all over the peninsula. Kaviraja Marga describes Nādava from Kannada region. With time the word ‘nāDu’ (cultivated land) attained meaning of country or state and the word ‘nāDava’ (farmer) acquired the additional meaning of a citizen.

An alternate term for the Tulu Nadava is ‘Okkelme’. Rural folks still use the word to denote Nādava farmers. The word ‘Okkel’ originally meant a farm house, since ‘okku’ =to dig the earth. And the ‘Okkelme’ was the farmer who resided in the farm house near his agricultural fields. With passage of time the word ‘okkel’ has evolved to mean occupied residence or occupant of a house.
In Siri paDdana, Birmu Malava expains that he belongs to Ariya-bannar lineage and Okketti caste. The form Okketti may the older version of the usage Okkelme.

Nadava youth were also drawn as soldiers during wars. Some of the soldiers from Karavali were taken to northern Karnataka and Andhra for combating with enemies. And similarly there have been periodic influx of soldiers from the Malnad and upland areas during events of major wars in the Karavali. The soldiers settled in the Karavali and mostly mixed with the local population.
With the background of farmer-soldier profession Nadavas became close to rulers of the land and slowly evolved to become landlords, the owners of Guthu, Barike and Boodu. With time they also became merchants as evident from the widespread surname ‘Shetty’ (derived from the word ‘Sheshti’, the merchant). Assimilation of affluent Jain merchants immigrants from upghat regions into Nadava communities possibly introduced surnames like Shetty and Shresti.
Nadava communities like others have undergone a sequence of theological modifications that have affected the land. To begin with, Nadavas from Munda communities were Spirit and Naga worshippers. Subsequently, they were swayed by the tenets of Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism. Thus they have inherited essence and footprints of several religions in the land. And the interplay of religions possibly kept them outside the shackles of chaturvarna, sensu stricto. Since they were farmers, landlords, warriors and merchants, at different levels in time and space there is no justification in pondering if they were exclusively of ‘kshatriya’ (warrior class) anytime.

The Kings and overlords of Tulunadu employed martially trained, well built young men as trusted personal assistants who acted as professional body guards and warriors, apart from carrying out miscellaneous jobs entrusted to them.
"Bunt" or ‘banta’, (pronounced ‘banT’ or ‘banTa’) as the word explains, stands for a trusted assistant. Apparently bunt was a occupational term in the past rather than a caste indicator. Koti – Chennayya, the twin Tulu heroes, hailing from the Baidya -Billava community, were described as ‘bantas’ in the folklore. They served Tulu Chieftains as personal assistants or henchmen. Many of the native gymnasia (known as ‘Garodi’s) that trained soldiers were run by Billava people.
The word Bantu apparently is derived originally from African sources. The word ‘Bantu’ in African languages means people. African Bantus migrated to different areas from homeland in tune with periods of adversity. It appears that the word ‘bunt’ or ‘buntu’ could have travelled to the Indian peninsula along with Dravidian migrants from the African continent in the past. Analogy of the meanings the original African word ‘bantu’ (=people, persons) and the Tulu word ‘bant’ (=aide, assistant) may be noted.
Genetic studies have confirmed that early man originated in African continent and migrated to various parts of the world. There have been several cycles of emigration of people from African continent. Of these the migration of Dravidians fro Mediterranean region to NW Indian (ca 2000-1700 BC) and further to southern India (ca 800-400 BC) appears to be prominent markers that have left several significant socio-cultural imprints.
Immigration of people from Africa and Mediterranean region possibly took place in several stages, with each stage having several intermediate halts on the way. The well built Scythian and Mediterranean physical features attributed to Bunts and other Tulu people were possibly derived from the immigrants.
That the word ‘bunt’ was a occupational term is also evident by the fact that soldiers brought from upland peninsular areas after 16th century CE ( for fighting war with local chieftains) were called ‘Parivar Bunts’. They have also settled in Tulunadu as ‘Parivar Bunts’ but have not assimilated with native Bunts. The ‘Parivar’ tag is a modification of the original word ‘paravar’ which represents marine fisher-folks.
The word ‘bunt’ as a community indicator is more prevalent in southern part of Tulunadu. The professional ‘bunts’ in the past could have adapted to agriculture and farming in the war- free peace periods, leading to matrimonial alliance with Nadava families.

Bant villages in India
There are three official Bant villages in Tulunadu: Bantawal, Bantra (Puttur Taluk) and Bantakal (Udupi Taluk).  There are also a number of hamlets in the coastal districts having the name of Bant, of which the statistics is not readily available. 
But if you think “Bant” villages bearing the name of “Bant” or “Banta” are exclusive to Tulunadu, you are wrong.
In fact, there are some 155+   Bant villages in different parts of India (The number excludes the names of hamlets and settlements beginning with prefix of  Bant. ) as per Census data for 2011. The list includes village names such as Bant, Banta, Bantara, Bantera, Bantoli, Bantpura, Bantikhera, Bantari,  Bantor, Bantwa, Bantwara, Bantwada, Bantwadi, Bantavaram, Banthu, Banthla, bantupalle, Bantkhani, Bantikula, Bantow, Bantail, bantahalli, Bantarahalli, Bantenahalli, Bantiganahalli, Bantihal, Bantugram, Bantugaon, Bantakunta, eetc. These villages are distributed in Orissa (34), Uttar Pradesh (34), Assam (14), Rajsthan (13), Andhra Pradesh (11), Gujarat (10), Karnataka (10) Jharkhand(7), Uttarakhand (7), West Bengal (6), Bihar(5), Himachal Pradesh (3), Madhya Pradesh (2) and Maharashtra (1).
One aspect that we can understand from the distribution of ancient Bant village names is that Bant(u) was an ancient tribe  that was fairly well distributed in various parts of India. Another inference is that some of the original ancient Bantu tribes might have immigrated to India from their African homelands in the remote antiquity in search of better pastures.
the names of hamlets and settlements beginning with prefix of  Bant. ) as per Census data for 2011. The list includes village names such as Bant, Banta, Bantara, Bantera, Bantoli, Bantpura, Bantikhera, Bantari,  Bantor, Bantwa, Bantwara, Bantwada, Bantwadi, Bantavaram, Banthu, Banthla, bantupalle, Bantkhani, Bantikula, Bantow, Bantail, bantahalli, Bantarahalli, Bantenahalli, Bantiganahalli, Bantihal, Bantugram, Bantugaon, Bantakunta, eetc. These villages are distributed in Orissa (34), Uttar Pradesh (34), Assam (14), Rajsthan (13), Andhra Pradesh (11), Gujarat (10), Karnataka (10) Jharkhand(7), Uttarakhand (7), West Bengal (6), Bihar(5), Himachal Pradesh (3), Madhya Pradesh (2) and Maharashtra (1).

One aspect that we can understand from the distribution of ancient Bant village names is that Bant(u) was an ancient tribe  that was fairly well distributed in various parts of India. Another inference is that some of the original ancient Bantu tribes might have immigrated to India from their African homelands in the remote antiquity in search of better pastures.

Several researchers have proposed that the Neyer community from sub-Himalayan or Tibetan region migrated to southern India and settled in Kerala as Nairs. Apart from analogy of the words ‘Neyer’ and ‘Nair’, the Nairs probably brought with them art (dance-drama forms of Yakshagana, Kathakali and Bayalata) and architecture (pyramidal roof structure) from north to south. The costumes of Yakshagana and Kathakali have retained northern dress code elements in spite of being popular in the south. Similarly the pyramidal house roof designs of the Karavali and Kerala reflect and mimic the Nepali or Tibetan pyramidal temple roof designs. Some of these cultural and archetectural features could have been brought to by Buddhists also.It is said Nairs migrated to south along with Brahmins, probably during the reign of Kadamba King Mayura Varma. The assimilation of Nairs with Tulu Nadava-Bunt community in Karavali in the past has been dealt in the earlier post by Kawdoor Narayana Shetty.
It is speculated that the matrilarcheal system and the ‘aliya-kattu’ (property inheritance to sister’s son or nephew inheritence) came into practice after the advent of Nairs into Karavali and Kerala. Specific polyandrous and joint family conditions as prevalent with Nambudaries, wherein identification of children was dubious, might have paved way for introduction of the Nephew inheritance or aliya-kattu system among Malayalis which was later adopted by the adjacent Tulu communities as a consequence of propagation of the legend of mythical Bhootala Pandya.
Thus the mongoloid facial features, referred in the comment, were possibly genetically derived from northern Neyer or Buddhist sources. Even the Natha Jogis (of Kadri and other areas) had cultural connections with Nepal since ca. 8th Century CE.The Brahmins and Nairs possibly came together from the North during Kadamba period. Their arrival into Tulunadu and Kerala gave special impetus to the growth of Hinduism in these areas which gradually replaced the foundations of Buddhism in the region.

Uttara Kannada Nadavas
Five Nadava families from Kundapur area migrated to Kumta -Ankola region some 500 years ago according to the legends prevalent among Nadava families of Uttara Kannada. Apart from the ancestral memories of the people emigrated, similarities in language and customs of the two regions support this legend. Nadava Nayaks probably emigrated from upghat areas along with royal armies.
Apparent absence of matrilineality or deeper Naga worship among them may not be enough factors to separate Uttara Kannada Nadavas from the Dakshina Kannada Nadavas. The migrated Nadavas naturally have adjusted to the Vedic customs of the region where they settled. They worship Tirupati Venkataramana as family God like most people of Uttara Kannada, while southerners predominantly worship variants of Goddess Durga or God Shiva.
The Kannada Nadavas have lineage (balli) names generally distinct and different from Tulu Nadavas.
There are several relic features that imply the interplay of the rudiments of matrilineal system among the Uttara Kannada Nadavas also in their cultural backdrop, such as:
1. Nadavas of Kundapaur and Ankola region, apart from the language, share certain similar matrilineal septa (‘balli’) systems (like Ajji bali, Kujji bali, Chandi bali, Dāri bali, Dāni bali, Kyandagi bali, Rāni bali, Hole bali, Ane bali, Segi bali, Settibali,Tolera bali and Siri bali etc) to prove their common origin.
2. Bride is brought to the marriage hall by her maternal uncle.
3. Traditionally, the dowry (‘tira’) is paid to the bride. The custom of offering ‘tara ’(=bride price) also existed formerly among most of the Tulu communities. The custom was inherited from the ancient ancestors of Munda -Gond tribes.
4. The Nadava parents give a share of their property to their daughters also.
The family bonds and social interactions among the migrated Nadavas are rather well knit and intimate. This could be because they were a small group to begin with. Further, since the Nadava parents lived together probably there was no necessity of perpetuating the matrilineal or aliya-kattu customs.

Absence of Chaturvarna
The absence of well defined Chaturvarna among Tulu tribes has been a matter of debate. The early spread of Buddhism in the region (ca.300 BC to 700 CE) super-imposed on a older Spirit-Naga worshipping tribal environment encouraged perpetuation of a classless society in Tulunadu and Kerala. Even with the advent of Brahmins and Nairs into the Tulunadu it was not possible to enforce a society divided into Chaturvarna as in the North because the local population was not willing to accept it.
People switched over to the tenets of Hinduism but the native Alupa rulers did not believe in the efficiency of four layered caste system. Besides, neither the Alupa rulers nor the Nadava-Bunt alliance were full time warriors. Nadavas were farmers or landlords during the peace times. During war time they recruited ‘bunts’ trained in native martial arts and the wars were fought with the help of warrior ‘bants’ who also hailed from diverse communities. For example, in the ancient Tulu society, Billava youths (Bhil tribes, traditional archers; bhil=bow) were strong in the field of war-craft. Most of the ‘Garodi’ institutions (native gymnasia of Tulunadu) were run and maintained by Billavas. Some of the Billava were the ‘baidya’s who practised indigenous system of medicine that evolved into Ayurveda subsequently. Another section of Billava used to resort to the occupation of toddy tapping. Thus Tulu communities followed diverse trades that eluded them the exclusive classification of Chaturvarna.
The Alupa power and wealth was based on sea-faring merchant boats (called ‘Pandi’-s) and prided themselves as ‘Pandya’ Kings, the term ‘Pandya’ or ‘Pandia’ being a Pandi owner. The Alupa (‘Aluper’ in Tulu, originally hailed from ‘Alupe’ village near Mangalore) were essentially rich merchants. Thus the Alupa were probably from the sea-faring fisher-folks and not typical war loving ‘kshatriya’s as defined by the Chaturvarna system adopted and followed by north Indian Kings.

Bunt-Jain conversions
 Conversions from Bunts to Jains and vice versa in the Karavali during the mideval period has been noted by several researchers.Basically the presence of some of the common surnames shared among Jains and Bunts, serve evidence for the conversions that occurred in the past.It seems that in general  the subjects opted to convert into the religion/community of the ruler to appease him. Or the rulers preferred that his subjects should adopt to the religion of the ruler. Monks and religious leaders powerful during the regal period also played  amajor role in converting the kings as well as his subjects.

Evidence from lineages
Modern genome studies provide scientific evidences to decipher aspects of evolution, migration and dispersal of communities. Detailed genetic studies on various Tulu and Karavali communities have not been attempted so far. However, in the absence of detailed genome studies, the available information from the lineages (known as bari [Tulu] , bali [Kundapura] or baLLi [Ankola]) provide us preliminary evidences on the genetic evolution of Tulu communities such as Nadavas.

Nadava 104 surnames
According to Sacchidananda Hegde (2009) there are 32 Bari and 104 surnames among Tulu Nadavas. It is possible that many septa/lineage names and surnames among Tulu Nadavas have been lost during the course of evolution or have not been accounted so far.
Adyanthaya,Adapa,Alva,Ajila,,Ajiri,Attar,Arasa,Athikari,Adasu,Ariga,Athri,Banga,Banta,Ballala,Baari,Binnaje,Baaga,Bhandari,Bunnala,Budale,Branna,Baitani,Bhoja,Binnani,Chavuta,Dore,Gaambir,Gavuda,Hegde,Horuva,Kadaba,Kambli,Kakva,Kayya,Kaariyala,Kaava,KundahegdeKaajava,Kantiva,Kille,Kella,Kalle,,Kotari(Kotriyal),Konde,KurlaHegde,Kudre,KundaaDe,Maddala,Marte,Mallala,MaaNa,MāNayi,Malli,Malyal,Mārla,MāDa,MārDi,Moola,Marala,Munda,Munder,Mudva,Muraayya,Mukkala,MeNava,MelanTa,MenDa,Nādava,NayiriHegde,Nanaya,Naik,NoanDa,Pakkala,PaDyar,PaTla(shetty),PayyaDe,Palayi,Pāla(PaDyala),PānDi,Pegde,PergaDe,Poonja,PoovaNi,Raja,Rai,Shetty(Shettyal),Shettavala,Sheba,Sheka,Shenava,Sanakaya,Shresta, Santha,Samani, Samantha, Sorafa, Sulaya, SooDa, Servegara, Semitha, Tunga, Tolar, Vāla and Varma.

Banta/ Nadava baris'
Sacchidananda Hegde (2009) reports 32 bari /lineages among Tulu Nadavas and 14 balli/lineages among Kannada Nadavas. According to him the prevalent Tulu Nadava (Bant) bari lineages are:


The list above may not be comprehensive. Keshava Shetty Adur (2007) for example, cites additional lineages like Koyarannaya, Odarannaya etc. Shekar (2009) has documented Aysaranna, Bavunt, Binnara, Dangalanna, Gundlanna, Gulavelananna, Kabaranna, Kādanna, Kamberanna, Kelakachadara, Kodanaganna, Koraganna, Narayanna, Puttabari, Shettar, Taranna, Taralanna, Tolar, etc., lineages. (The interchangeable suffix –anna (=brother) or –annaya have been traditionally added to the lineage names for showing respect.)

Banta baris /Nadava Balis
(compiled after Dr. Indira Hegde, 2004):

1. Abbe/Apya
2  Ammannya/Ammanna
3. Ariya/Ariya bannaya  [ : > Ariga?  ]*
4. Ajiranna/Ajirannaya   > Ajiri
5. Uppinakule/Uppannaya  [> Uttar bali> Huttinabali ?]
6. Ullittaya
7.  Airanna/Airannaya
8.  Odeyar/Odarannaya/Oddannaya
9.  Kadira/Kadirabannaya
10. Kadamba> Gadaba/Kadaba
11. Kabara/Kabarabannaya  [> Salanna bali ]
12. Karmaram,/Karmara bannaya
13. Kayya/Kayara/kayyarannaya   [ < Koira?]
14. Karmaram/Karmarannaya
15. Kavudichi
16. Kadyannaya/Kadarannaya
17. Kinjhanna
18. Kundar/Kundarannaya
19. Kumarannaya/kumaran/ Kochati bali
20. Kella/Kellarannaya
21. Kodange/Kodangannaya
22. Kommi/Komati/Kombisetti >   [< Kom ? ]
23. Kongaru/Kongarannaya
24. Koriannaya
25. Kochusetti/ Kochati bannaya
26. Gujar/Gorjara/Gujarannaya/   < Gurjar
27. Guvellannaya/ Kovela blai        [> Coelho ? ]
28. Gundar/Gundarannaya
29. Chanda/Chandra/Chandra bannaya
30. Charpadi/Charpadi bannaya
31. Chittan
33. Jaji bali/ Chojarannaya
34. Talaranna/Talrannaya
35. Tolar/Tolaha
36. Nandar/Nandarannaya
37. Nattanna/Nattannaya
38. Narayana bali
39. Nayanar
40. Nallim bali/Nalannaya
41. Naga bali/Tolar bali
42. Nadavar bali/Nadrannaya/Nadarnnaya
43. Navaram bali
44. Navatam/ Mantu bali
45. Nelapadi bali/Nelapadi bannaya
46. Pangola/Pangolabannaya   [< Pangala?]
47. Putra/Putra bannaya
48. Pular/Pulisetti/Pulatabamnnaya/Pullyottu
49. Pergade
50. Peyr
51. Bangara/angarabannaya
52. Bandaranna
53. Bagi setti Bagattanaya
54. Baale
55. Bunnala /Binnani /Bunnarannaya
56. Bermar./ Bermarannaya/Bermati bannaya
57. Belana
58. Mayila/Mayiala bannaya
59. Raanoji
60. Salava/Salannaya/Talyannaya
61. Siri bali/Siriya bannaya
62. Setti bali/
63.  Pongarannaya/Pongara/Hangaru bali
64. Haavina bali
65.  Hasina bali

* [Notes  within the brackets above  are the possible derivations suggested by the  blogger]

Nadavas of Uttara Kannada have the concept of ancestral house known as "mane" similar to "taravad" or "bari" or "bali" . One of the "mane" (=house) is "Hanumana mane".

Genetic composition
It is evident from the available data that Nadava community has undergone complex evolutionary history. A simple single source model of genetic derivation cannot logically answer the complex evolution the community has undergone during the last 5000 years.
The available lineage and surname data can be tentatively classified into possible composite derivations from (1) Ancient tribes (2) Immigrant Tulu and other tribes (3) Religious associations and (4) Designations and Occupations.

1. Lineages suggestive of derivation from ancient tribes:
Bhagyatannaya, Gondarannya, Kādanna, Kallarannaya, Karmarannaya, Kochatbannaya, Kongannaya, Koraganna, Kotirannaya, Koyarannaya, Nandarannaya, Saliyannaya .
1a. Surnames suggestive of derivation from ancient tribes: Ajila, Baga, Kayya (Koya), Kella, Kalle, Kadamba, Konde, Marla, Moola, Munda, Muria, Tolar.

2. Common bari lineages shared by various Tulu tribes such as Nadava, Mogaveera and/or Billavas:
Ammannaya, Anchannaya, Bangarannaya, Kanchannaya, Kunderannya, Putrannaya, Tingalannaya.

2a. Lineages suggestive of other immigrants from North:
Bannaya, Gujjarannaya.

2b. Surnames suggestive of immigrants from Northern India:
Adhikari, Attari, Banga, Baari, Budale, Gambhir, Kakva, Kothari, Pal, Sooda, Sheka, Nair, Nair Hegde, Poonja, Soraf. etc.

3. Surnames indicative of former religions: Baitani, Samani.

4. Surnames indicative of designations: Alva, Arasa, Athikari, Ballala, Bhandari, Bhoja, Dore, Hegde, Kothari, Nayaka, Pergade, Rai, Raja, Samantha, Varma.

4a. Surnames indicative of occupations: Banta, Gauda, Malli, Pandi, Shetty, Shresti.
In the early period (3000-200 BC), where documented historical data is extremely meager and largely hazy, it seems many tribal clans were ruling the terrain.

For exaample, Bage clan of Munda tribes apparently ruled in some parts of the peninsula. The place name ‘Bagal kote’ suggests that it was a fort of 'Bage' people. Koraga tribes during the antiquity were said to be rulers in certain areas. Kosars who have been mentioned in the Tamil Sangam literature might have been the Koosa tribes.

The Bunts, Nadava as well as other Karavali communities offer scopes for detailed genetic studies that may unravel signatures of successive interleaved strings of migration, assimilation and evolution during the past history.


Fuller, Dorian & Emma L. Harvey (2006)
The archaeobotany of Indian pulses: identification, processing and evidence for cultivation. Environmental Archaeology 2006 Vol. 11 No 2 pp-219-246.(Avaialble in the net).

Indira Hegde, Dr.(2004) " Ondu Samajo-Samskrutika Adhyayana " (Kannada).( A treatise on Bunts Socio-culture). Second Edition,2009; Kannada Pustaka Pradhikara, Bangalore,xviii+480 p.

Keshava Shetty. K. Adur (2007). “Puratana Tulunadina Janangagala hinnele mattu Sambandhagalu”. [Kannada.] (=The background and relations of ancient tribes of Tulunadu). A Kairali Publication. 83 p.

Nayak, N.R., Dr. (2001) “Uttara Kannada Jilleya Nadavara Sanskriti” (Kannada).[=The culture of Nadavas of Uttara Kannada].Janapada Prakashana. Honnavara. 134 p.

Sacchidananda Hegde, B. (2009). “Tulu Nadavaru”. (Kannada). A Yugapurusha Publication. Kinnigoli. 284 +xxiv p.

Sacchidananda Hegde, B. (2010). “Tulu Bhase-TuluNadu:.Purana Janapadagalalli Tulunadavaru". (Kannada). New Wave Books. Bangalore. 208 +iv p.

Shekar, Dr. (2009) Bantaru: Baduku mattu Badalavane. Shrusti Publication, Bangalore, 404 p.

® partly updated: 09-01-2017.

Monday, January 11, 2010

221. Talakāđu

Talakadu: Concentric Bends in River Kaveri.

It is but natural that during the prolonged course of linguistic and socio-cultural evolution of a region a number of words may simply have been expelled from the memory of the surviving people. However, several antique place names have preserved such vestiges of heritage faithfully for the benefit of posterity.
Some of the words have several meanings. This feature may be the result of accumulation of similar sounding cognate words derived from diverse cultural and lingual sources. And on account of the clashes among the cultural components in a region, some of the words having a specific meaning and originated from defeated people eventually may simply fall into oblivion.
We shall review one such word: tala.
The Dravidian word ‘tala’ has the following set of surviving meanings: 1. Head. 2. Bottom level or planar level. Of these, the first word tala/tale/tare (=head, hair) is Dravidian in origin; the second word, talā(=level, ground) is of Pāli and Prakrit origin.Apparently,the word 'tala' later also became root for the Sanskrit word: 'stala'(=the place).
Regarding the word 'tala'(=level),it is interesting that the Hindu mythology describes seven notional nether worlds below Earth: Atala, Kutala, Vitala, Mahatala, Rasatala, Bhutala and Patala .
There are numerous village names in southern India that have a prefix of ‘Tala’ such as Talapadi, Talamoger, Talachiri, Talakaveri, Talakadu, Talaimannar, Tālipadi, Tāliparmba, Tālguppa, Tālgunda, Tālikote, etc. In these words the application of the above cited meanings (head, bottom, level etc) may be just meaningless! Or you may presume that words with ‘tāli’ as prefix refer to ‘tāle’ or the toddy (palmyra) palm. But in some of these villages ‘palmyra’ toddy trees may not be of common occurrence.
So, what is the original intended meaning in these ‘tala’ or ‘tāla’ villages?
The place name Nainitāl offers us important clue to the analysis of ‘tala’ village names. Nainital, located in Uttaranchal state of northern India, means ‘nayani’ (=eye) +’tāl’ (=lake) or eye shaped lake. There are several such –tals in the Uttaranchal region like Kedartāl . Similarly, Tāal is a town in Ratlam district of Madhya Pradesh. It is located on the bank of a pond, now dried up.Further examples are: Agartala town in northeastern India.Taloja near Panvel in Raigad District, Maharashtra.
In several languages of the north such as Nepali, Punjabi, Bihari, Gujrathi, Marathi, Kumauni, Malvi, ‘talā or ‘tal’ means a small pond. In archaic Tamil, ‘talla’ means swamp. The tal> talla conversion is probably influenced by the analogous word ‘palla’. Similarly, in Sinhali language, ‘talā ‘apparently means sea shore.
The origin of the word probably is:
ta + ala= bank of water-body. Or land beside stream or pond; bank of a riverulet or a pond. In northern India, ‘tāl’ refers to a pond, whereas in southern India, mostly it represents a small stream. This change is possibly due to analogy with another related Tulu word, ‘tār’, which exclusively means a stream or streamlet. [tāl > tār]. The Tulu words tār (=rivulet) and tāri(=toddy palm) were possibly derived from older Munda sources.

TalakāDu is a famous historical place near Mysore, in Karnataka. River Kaveri attains an odd serpentine loop near Talakādu. The area has massive deposits of sands on the windward side of river.
Kannada Kings of Western Ganga dynasty ruled this place during the period from ca 350 to 999 CE. Subsequently it was ruled successively by Hoysala, Vijayanagar and Mysore Odeyar Kings. In the year ca.1610 CE, during the reign of Odeyars, River Kaveri was flooded and the Talakādu town was buried under massive cover of sand deposits and the adjacent village of Mālangi was submerged. People believed that this resulted from the curse of one pious lady called Alamelamma on Odeyars and the royal town of Talakadu.
According to local legends the name ‘Talakadu’ is derived from the name of two ancient hunters ‘Tala’ and ‘Kada’. However, it appears the place name originally referred to the forest growth on the river bank. [‘tala’=river bank +’kāDu’ =forest].
The point of origin of River Kaveri, in Kodagu district is called Tala-kaveri. Tal here means a streamlet. River Kaveri begins its course as a minor streamlet. A small pond is also built around the spring at Bhāgamandala, where the river is believed to take origin.
Talaghattapura (tala+ ghatta+ pura) is a location near the southern boundary of Bangalore city, on the way to Kanakapura.The elevated area (‘ghatta’) is presently located on the bank of a pond. It was formerly part of a river which dried up later.
There are at least two Talapadi village /hamlets in Mangalore taluk. 1. The small stream on the Kerala border. 2. A small stream joining River Nethravati, near the BC road. In these place names ‘pādi’ represent hamlet on the bank of streams. Besides, there are some TālipāDi village/ hamlets in the Karavali. In most of these place names, the word ‘tāli/tāLi’ is used as synonymous with another Tulu equivalent word ‘tār’, a streamlet. The palmyra toddy palm known as ‘tāri’ in Tulu and ‘tāLe’ in Kannada, usually occurs in riverside locations. It is possible that the word originated from tār or tāL.
Another hamlet on the southern bank of Netravathi, Talamogaru (tala=river bank+ mogaru=plains) is a part of Sajipa-padu village, in southern Bantval tauk.
Kadtala, the place name refers to the ferry point (‘kaDa’) across the tala (stream).
Nadsāl is hamlet that possibly derived its name from a stream that flows in the middle of the expansive field in Padubidri. The word ‘naDu means middle, and sāl, appears to be a variant of tāl, [tāl.>sāl].
Remnants of Buddhism
The word ‘tala’(= bank, lake edge) apparently was brought by the immigrants from the North. It might have been brought by Buddhist monks. During the early centuries of the Common Era, the influence of Buddhism was in full swing all over southern India and in Srilanka. Thus, early Tamil as well as Sinhali accepted and adopted the word. However, in regions where the Buddhism was driven off eventually like Tulunadu, Karnataka and Tamilnadu the original meaning of the word was lost, even though the word survives in older place names!
Talakadu: Ancient Temple of Ganga period uncovered from the massive Sand heaps.

-with Hosabettu Vishwanath.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

220.Vasudeva Laila

The other day, our family friend Mr. Shetty brought us Tirupathi Prasada (Laddu). It was wrapped in a sheet of a Kannada daily Udayavani.
A write-up in the newspaper by Lakshmi Machhina, giving profile of an unknown and unsung writer of popular Tulu Plays engaged my attention. It attracted me mainly on two counts: 1) According to the general perception of some Tuluvas and an UN report the Tulu language is in the process of dying. (2) Some writers berate popular Tulu Comedies accusing that they do not contribute to the enrichment of Tulu language.
An obscure playwright
A cobbler by profession the playwright Vasudeva Laila wrote 20 Tulu Plays. The gist of the article is as follows:
His cobblers shop is located by the side of Regional Educational Officer, near Maari Gudi temple, in Belthangadi town. He has written more or less 20 Plays in Tulu. Some of them have been staged successfully for 10-25 shows. Still he is engaged in shoe-mending occupation.
53-year old Vasudeva Laila is married with four children - son graduate, an artist; one daughter married off and two are unmarried. His present residence is: Hemanta Nilaya, Putrabailu, Gandhi Nagara, Belthangadi. He was born at Belur to a cobbler Sheenappa. Sheenappa had a shoe mart at Halebeedu, Vasudeva grew up at Halebeedu and studied up to 7th Standard at Talippadi. He gave up shoe mart,due to losses and he switched to tailoring. Further he switched over to an employment in a hotel. He hawked at weekly village markets, at Jaatra festivals and Yakshagana venues. He was deeply interested in dramas and Yakshganas since his school days, which inspired him to write However, ups and downs of life forced him to stick to the shoe-mending job for livelihood.
His first Tulu Play was 'Hallida Ponnagu Pyanteda Kandani' (City boy to a village girl). Next was Kannada drama 'Suryodaya' , not yet staged. Other dramas are: Trishula Tirgund', 'Nyayada Netter', 'Kalanka Kantina Kannir', 'Yepa tikkuvar;, 'Samaja telipunu', 'Porlunu Toodu Marlu', 'Madhurana Bhagya', Amrita Mallige, 'Satyogu Edura?' 'Gangadharana Gangasara', 'Sai darshan' (Kannada) and 'Bhakta Markandeya'(Kannada).
Of these 'Yepa tikkuvar’( =When we shall meet?) has been staged by Shri Ganesh Kala Vrinda for the last five years. 'Satyogu Edura’ (=Can it defy the Truth?) has been played for 30 shows,
Most of his Plays are tragedies. Recent plays are comedies. Any these Plays have not been printed for obvious economic reasons and for lack of encouragement.
Here is a man, propagating Tulu on his own right, without hankering for fame.
N. Narasimhaiah
He reminds me of N. Narasimhaiah, popular writer of Kannada detective novels during the yester years Famed Kannada writer Ta.Ra.Su. had praised Narasimhaiah for inculcating Kannada book reading habits among the common people, working in hotels, shops and railway stations in Bangalore and young and old alike all over Karnataka. The ordinary people, addicted to the Kannada detective novels of Narasimhaiah, eagerly looked forward for his next novel.
Tulu love
Encouraging your family members to speak Tulu at home and in society, whether in native place or abroad, is in itself amounts to propagation of Tulu language. Quality of expression or style of writing is immaterial but it should serve the purpose of propagating. Hidden obscure writers, like Vasudeva Laila, deserve our encouragement.
-Hosabettu Vishwanath

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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