Lexicography and Onomastics are two closely related disciplines. Each complements the other. Linguistic connections are noticed between territories from an unknown historical past. The word ‘Kuda’, found in various languages, is an example to drive home the point. ‘Kuda’, as a suffix or prefix, is seen in place names all over India in general and in coastal belt in particular. Place names in other Asian countries too bear testimony to this observation.
Whereas Ravi gives (in Posts-253 and 254) more stress on Ethnonym or Eponym function of popular place name ‘Kudla’ for Mangalore in Tulunadu (i.e. coastal Karnataka), I still hold the view that this Toponym bears testimony to geographical features. Multiple meanings of word elements make it difficult to decipher overall meaning of a place name, which is invariably a compound word. It is subject to many influences – geographical, cultural, political, natural catastrophes, migrations and lingual. So, modern onomastics consider that ‘a name is not simply equivalent to the sum total of its parts, but mutates at the moment of coinage’.
Kuda – what it imports?
Several meanings are found in Dictionaries of Tulu, Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil, Sri Lankan, and Maldives-Dhivehi, and in Dravidian Etymological Dictionary) for ‘kuda’, a Prakrit/Pali/Dravidian/Austro-Asian word:
Kuda/Kulhi/Kula/Ko(a)du: Used mostly describing coastal landscape, receiving sea water. It means a curve, bay, cove, gulf or sand-bank of sea or river.
‘Kuduma’ means ‘a ferry’ as per A. Manner’s Tulu-English Dictionary.
Kudaru/Kudiru/Kuduru (DED 1700) = Low ground, a hollow, bed of stream, stream. Kudura in Gond means ‘sand’. In Kurukh, it is ‘low situated rice-fields’.
‘Kuda’ in Tamil means West .(Eg. Kuda Kadal) and ‘Kuna’, East (Eg: Kuna Kadal).
It is also found in interior place names. In such instances, it means a hill ravine, river valley, and a nook, corner or remote and isolated place.
In Kannada, ‘Kuda’ means ‘a state of being crooked, bent, curved, a curve’. In Tulu ‘Gudke’ means crooked man. Tulu has more affinity to Kannada, especially old Kannada.
Kuda changes to Koota/Kooda when it means ‘meeting’.
In Prakrit, it means ‘a snare’ whereas in Kuwi, it is ‘cage, hen coop’.
Kuda and Kuru have the same meaning of ‘short or small’ in Tamil and Sri Lankan. Whereas in Kannada, kuru means ‘raised land or small mound or hill’.
Buddhist cave connection
Kuda means a retiring place, i.e. Buddhist Monasteries with stuptas, viharas and Buddhist cave arts. In Tulu Kude/gude (Kannada - Guhe, Sanskrit – Kuhara/Gahvara) means hole, secret place or hiding place.
Ku – a Root Word:
Reader may revisit the Post-193. It is made clear that ‘Kuda’ is a geographical term. Kuda > Kudtale refers to landed property. Place being close to water body, farming becomes important occupation of that area, besides fishing, toddy tapping and trade & commerce. So Kuda/Kudar/Kudaal/Kudla has acquired the meaning of agricultural land and people traditionally engaged in farming are called Kudva/Kuduma (Goa/Maharashtra cognate is ‘kunbi) in coastal area. Woodlanders in hilly tracks are called Kudiya > (Male) kudiyaru. Kodagu name is based on ‘Kuda > Kodu’.
Kudla: Old name of Mangalore, still surviving in local tongue. It is coined for identifying the region, nestled in river basin/valley or at the confluence of two rivers, Netravati and Phalguni; hence has a ‘topographical signature’ of river basin. Its cognate is found in ‘Kudal’ in Sindhudurg District, Maharashtra and in ‘Kudār’, which is the old name of Malpe, a fishing town in Udupi District. The scarp, i.e. steep slope, of rocky islands, stands as true witness to ‘Kudār’. There may be a remote chance of these rocky crops having Buddhist caves before submerging. Evidences of Naga and Spirit worship are reported at these islands (See Post-182-183 – Uliyaragoli to Malpe 1&2 and Post-184 – The Magic of Malpe). It may, therefore, offer an interesting material for future research.
Kuda is a small village in Kolad at Janjira Hills Valley (Maharashtra). These rock-cut caves are classic examples of Buddhist cave art. In many of the caves in Kuda Hill, there are evidences to testify that monks used them as dwelling places. The inscriptions, letters and paintings in the Kuda Hill show that these caves are built between 1st and sixth Century BC (600-100 BCE). The Kuda caves give a magnificent view of the valley below. Hills terrain is a secluded place, hence an appropriate name ‘Kuda’ (Prakrit/Pali/Dravidian).
Kadri Hill caves in Mangalore, frequented by Buddhist monks for meditation and later on by Nath Panthi mendicants, make me to deduce Kuda>Kudla was a natural nomenclature for the area.
Hirakuda Dam is the longest earthen dam across Mahanadi River near Sambalpur in Orissa, started in 1946 and completed in, 1957. It has a touch of Sir M. Visveswaraya. Before the devastating floods of 1937, he proposed a detailed investigation for storage reservoirs in the Mahanadi basin to address to the problem of floods in Mahanadi Delta. It may be interesting to note that name of Orissa is derived from original name of Odra Vishaya/Odra Desa. (Significance of Od/Odi is discussed in earlier Posts).
It is in Tirunelveli District, Tamil Nadu. A Nuclear Power Plant is located here.
Naachichikhudai, etc.Tamil.Net explains that these Sri Lankan place names fit into geographical description, being having a cove and curved coastline.
This is a Sri Lankan place name for an isolated and remote place.Kuda Bandos, Kuda Hurra etc
These are atolls in Maldives. In Maldivian language Dhivehi, ‘kuda’ means marsh-land.
It is located near Kottayam Town (Kerala) on the banks of Konakiri Canal. Konakiri Canal is a tributary of River Kudamaloor, which flows westward, forming a border line of Aarpookara and Kudamaloor. The land, being fertile, has many kinds of tropical trees. The greenery makes the place picturesque.
Dilation of ‘Kuda’ may be beyond the ordinary understanding and hence, may not be readily accepted. Classification of some of the place names may not be interesting but it may prove material to a serious Tulu researcher of future.
I have come across a Native American proverb of unknown tribe, which goes thus: “Tell me I will forget, Show me and I may not remember. Involve me, I’ll understand.” We have been urging our readers to involve themselves by making comments but in vain. This reminds me another quote, read in ‘Jumbled Words’ game in Indian Express (28.06.2010):
“I honestly believe it is better to know nothing than to know what is not so” – Josh Billings.
As “All knowledge has its origins in our perceptions” according to Leonardo Da Vinci, isn’t the Billings’ statement a bit paradoxical? Search for meaning. It is an inspiration for a meaningful life. One can imagine the struggles of Siddhartha before attaining enlightenment and becoming a Buddha?
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- 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.
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- Tuluvala Baliyendre. Compiled by N.A.Sheenappa Hegde,Polali,Sri Devi Prakashana,Parkala,1929/1999
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