Many toponym words in Karavali –Tulunadu, as we have discussed in older posts, happen to be inscrutable in general. There is a suburban road junction in southern part of Mangalore along National Highway 17 near Kotekar , called ‘Beeri’. The place name ‘Beeri’ may evoke some random meanings mnemonically based on similar sounding homonyms, in Tulu language!
However, Beeri is an ancient word originating from Munda group of languages. [We have discussed in many of the earlier posts strings of data relating to the relict signatures of Munda tribes and place names in Tulunadu.]
Beeri : the forest
‘Beeri ‘ or ‘bir’ means forest in Munda languages. Mundas tribes have been considered as ancient tribes of Austo-Asiatic origin, who entered India from the south Asian and eastern routes and settled in India in the prehistoric days probably before Dravidians. However, Munda tribes and Mon Khmer Austro Asiatic tribes and languages after their initial separation in Southeast Asia in the antiquity, have evolved independently, possibly owing to the powerful influence of lingual substrata in the lands they settled in. Mon Khmer languages are characterized by rising accent pattern whereas, the Munda languages distinctly show falling accent patterns, like many other Indian languages.(Donegan & Stampe, 1983,2004).
Though, Munda and Mon Khmer have followed linguistically divergent evolutionary paths, a few Munda words can be traced to their Austro-Asiatic roots. ‘Bir’ is one such antique word whose equivalents can be traced in Mon Khmer as well.
Thus, since the toponym ‘Beeri ‘means forest we can conclude that the place was a forest and there were tribes in the area conversant with Munda languages in the antiquity. That Beeri was a forest is also corroborated by the name of the village in the vicinity, Kotekar. The ‘kār’ in this place name ‘Kotekar ‘also signifies a forest.[ The word ‘kote’ may represent :(1) a tribe or (2) a fort. The first meaning suits here]
Biruva: forest tribe
The 'biru'(=bow) was an devise invented in the forest for hunting the wild life.The derived word 'biruve' thus not only means (1) an archer, but also (2) a person from the wilderness or a forest tribe. It is possible that the word 'biruva' might be older than the other equivalent word 'bhil' or 'billava'.This indirectly also purports that 'biruva' tribes were a part of the early Munda tribal groups in Tulunadu.
The Munda tribes are characteristically known to have O2 type of Y-chromosome haplogroups. Thus,when extensive genome data are available on Tulu people,it would be interesting to compare and study the genetic traits of 'biruva' tribes .
Beeri: wild, fire
However, the word ‘beeri’ has been absorbed and adapted by Tulu and other languages in this land. ‘Beeri ‘, subsequently also meant (1) wilderness,(2) forest fire and (3) wild, unbridled temperament. Later, it also meant (4) to catch fire, or get burnt off (5) wild pig (female species), (6) wrath of Spirits [metaphorical forest fire?] (7) to brag and (8) to harass.
From ‘wild unbridled temperament ‘, evolved more refined ‘valiant nature’ and ‘heroism’. Thus, ‘bir’ > evolved to ‘bira’ (hero). (‘Vir ‘ in Tamil and ‘Veer’ in Hindi and Sanskrit). From ‘brag’ evolved ‘flattery’ of the Spirits. (‘Satyolena bira panpini ‘).
GanDu beeri: tomboy
Apparently, the usage of wild female pig has been adopted later in Kannada as ‘ganDu beeri’ , to designate a wild, unbridled girl who behaves like a tomboy.
Books for Reference
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- Studies in Tuluva History and Culture.by Dr P Gururaja Bhat (1975).Milagres College,Kallinapur,Udupi.
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- 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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