Sunday, November 21, 2010

259. Bekanata and Paisachi

A mysterious and rather unscrutable, word cited in Rigveda, the Bekanata, has spurred imaginations of several researchers even though satisfactory meaning and explanation for the word has remained elusive. According to some investigators ‘Bekanata’ was an ancient name of Karnataka! Yet , some authors have tried to identify Bekanata with Bikaner.
 A stanza in Rigveda (6.4-31-5) cited by Varadaraja Umarji runs as follows-
“Indro vishvān bekanāTan ahadrushya
Utakritvā paNirabhi
The cited stanza describes that Indra, the king of Gods, won over Bekanata and Phani merchants.
Phani (or Pani, Panab or Panamb) were known to be a merchant class of tribes that evidently lived during the period of Rigveda (ca.1700-1500 BC). Pani tribes lived all over India including many parts of West Coast. The place names like Panvel (Maharastra), Panaji (Goa), Paniyur, Paniyadi, Panambur, Panapila, Panaje, Panakaje, Pāner (Karavali Karnataka) have survived as fossil indicators of the lost merchant tribes of Panis.The word pāne in place name ‘Pāne Mangalur’ (‘PāNer’ in Tulu) is also apparently related to the Pani tribes.
The word ‘paNi’ gave rise to ‘paNa’ and later ‘haNa’ (=money, the medium of trade transaction) and also ‘vani’ and ‘Vanija’ (=merchant). A merchant community is known as ‘Vani Shetty’ in Uttar Kannada.
However the other word ‘Bekanata’ has been disputed.
Varadaraja Umarji (1909-86) in his work on the history of Prakrit poets of Karnataka*, states that ‘Bekanata’ means two ‘kanata’s. According to him be=two and Kanata = large country. He suggests that two large countries were ancient Karnataka and Chola country of ancient Tamilnadu. Umarji also cites opinion of Muliya Thimmappayya who has suggested in his work on ‘Nadoja Pampa’ that Bekanata was the land of Pishachis, the ancient Karnataka. According to Thimmappayya beka means Pishachi. However R K Khadbadi in an article in Sambodhi has contested these views.
The name Beka-nata and its alleged connection with the term ‘Pishachi’ (literally means, ghost) with ancient Karnataka appears rather mysterious.Note that the word ‘betāl’ (as in Vikram and Betal stories) also means the ghost.
Bekal to Bikaner
When we look for possible word fossils of ancient Bekanata we find many place names with prefix ‘Beka‘  in various parts of southern India.For example, Bekal and Bekur in Kasargod district of Kerala; Baikampadi in Mangalore;Baikandi near Bantval; Bekkur (near Sakaleshpaur), Begur (near Hassan) in Karnataka; Byculla in Mumbai, Maharastra; Bekapalli in Andhra Pradesh; and also Bikaner in Rajastan and so on.Some names obviously have evolved due to local reasons; for example, 'Byculla' appears very much different from Bekala.
In all these place names,’beka’ is the common prefix which has been modified to ‘beg ‘or ‘bik’ or ‘baikam’ in some cases. We find that ‘bai’ were an ancient tribe probably of Austro-Asiatic origin that settled in India during obscure ancient period.Thus the word ‘beka’ is derived from bai+ka, wherein ‘ka’ represents a village or a hamlet in Austro-Asiatic language possibly of ancient Singapur origin. Interestingly, the derived word ‘baikam’ (as in the place name Baikampadi) also as cited in the ancient Kannada text ‘Vaddāradhane’, represented Buddhist or Jain monk as well as beggar, showing the social status of these tribes with evolving times.There are also villages or hamlets known as Bayar, Bayadi, Bayandar etc
Thus the widespread presence of beka place names in southern India, justifies that the region was formerly known as bekanata, where ‘nāta’ (  nādu) means a civilised region.The word ‘nāta’ was equivalent of the word ‘nādu’ in ancient Sangam literature in Tamil. Then regional States were known as Karnata, Punnata etc.
Bai and Pai tribes
There are strong evidences to suggest that ‘Bai’ tribes were also known as ‘Pai’ tribes, because of b: > p:  transition common in Indian languages. Paithan in Maharastra was an ancient capital of ancient Karnataka-Maharastra. Ancient Karnataka, also known as Maharastra (great country) was spread from the River Kaveri to River Godavari as documented in Kavirajamarga.Thus Paithan ( area of Pai tribes) has been documented as ‘Baithan’ (area of Bai tribes)in ancient Greek travel literatures.
Besides ‘Paithan’ town in Maharsstra, there are numerous place names that have immortalized Pai tribes in Karavali/ Tulunadu, such as Paichar (Sullia), Paivalike (Bantval), Pailur, River Payaswani (Sullia) etc.River 'Payaswani' (payas=milk, vani= flow, river) is a subsequently Sanskritized version (name) of a river-name whose original name is untraceable at present: however, it is closer to a place called Paichar.
Similarly, the place name 'Peshavar' (Afghanistan) and the group name 'Pathan' are also possibly connected to the word 'Pai' tribes.
Paisachi language
The Pai tribes had there own language known as ‘Paisachi’. The word Paisachi, Pai+sa+chi , possibly originally meant the language of the Pai tribes. An ancient word of African origin ‘chi’ (also found now in Somali ) means a language. The Paisachi language became extinct probably during the beginning of the Common Era. However, the word Paisachi was made fun of by other later tribes, because of similarity to the word Pishachi which meant ghost!
It is said that modern languge Konkani is derived from the ancient extinct Paisachi language. The ‘Pai’ surname has remained among some of the Konkani people even today,
It is reported in ancient Prakrit and Kannada texts that poet Gunadya (ca 1st Century CE) wrote in Paisachi language.However, it is said the text of his works have not survived today.

-Ravi and Vishwanath
Varadarja R Umarji (1909-1986) Karnataka Prakrita Kavi Charite (reprinted 2008).Kannada
Muliya Thimmappayya .'Nadoja Pampa':(Kannada).
RK Khadbadi . A paper in  Sambodhi Vol 6.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

258. Mangalore: Antiquity & Evolution -4

Old Light house structure on Bavutagudda hill, Mangalore. ( after a Basel Mission collection)
The study of evolution of a city like Mangalore can be a significant template for inspiring the detailed studies on evolution of similar place smaller towns and villages in India.The evolution of Mangalore upto 10th century CE has ben disussed in tidbits in the previous posts in this serial on Mangalore. Needless to say, that documentation is scanty to nil on many of the early historical aspects and consequently we are forced to depend on circumstantial evidences and multi-disciplinary inferences. And it is hoped that with passage of time and synthesis of more data we may be able to synthesize a better perspective on the evolutionary trends in our heritage.
Alupa Queen Balla Mahadevi(1277-88) was a staunch devotee of Lord Manjunatha and during the period her regime Kadire was the capital of Mangalore. Apparently, during the period, the town of Mangalore was fondly known as Manjarur, named after the divinity ‘Manja’ ( ie Manjunath).
Travellers Rashiduddin (ca.1300 CE) and Ibn Batuta (ca. 1343 CE) have recorded the name of the town as ‘Manjarur’ in their travel accounts. The place name ‘Manjarur’ embodies several elements of mystery in the course of evolution of Mangalore. The Kadri ‘Manjunatha’ temple was installed by Alupa King during the end of 10th century (ca. 968 CE), under the guidance of sage Macchendra Natha. Thus it can be inferred that the name ‘Manjarur’ (or Manja-ra + oor, the village of respected Manja) was derived from the name of the diety Manjunatha.
It is not clear right now whether there was definite place within Mangalore known as Manjarur. Probably the port town was known as ‘Manjarur’ during the period 10- 13th century CE. However, as on now, we are yet to trace out the identifiable remains of the exact place designated in the history as Manjarur.
Manjunatha as a name of Lord Shiva was conceived in Kadire, Mangalore. In other words, now popular divinity name ‘Manjunatha’ is a contribution of Mangalore.The name Manjunatha has been replicated at Dharmastala. According to the legends Annappa Swamy carried a Linga stone from the temple ponds of Kadire, Mangalore to Dharmastala at the time of consecretion of Manjunatha temple there.
Manja (Manjanna, Manjappa) was a common popular proper name among Tulu people. Even there are older place names like Manjanadi, Manjarapalke,Manjalapadpu, Manjarābād etc. It appears that Macchendra Nath named his son as Manju or Manju Natha, the tag ‘Natha’ being the surname being among followers of Natha cult. And the diety installed at Kadire, originally named after Macchendras expired son, became known as Manjunatha. Legends connected with Kadire temple suggest that during a car festival the temple car (chariot) carrying Lord Manjunatha got struck up. It is said that people asked Macchendra for help in mobilizing the struck up temple car. Then, Macchendra stood in front of the car and said ‘Aao, beta! ’ (=Come on, Son!) and the struck up temple car rolled on. Aspects of Spirit worship cults and their transition to diety worship in Tulunadu are evident in these historical events.
The large estuary of Manjarun reported by Ibn Battuta in 1342 corresponds to the former Bokkapatna estuary (now extint due to migration of Gurpur River) and not to the present estuary at Bengre which was created by a natural disaster during the year 1887.
With the renaissance of Hinduism during 14th century CE, the Vijayanagara Kings of Hampi (Bellary district) became dominant in southern India. They expanded their territory to West Coast and Mangalore and Barkur became their favourite port towns.
The local Governers of Vijayanagar Kings renovated the Kadire Manjunatha temple. Probably at that time both Kadire and Mangaladevi temples were equally popular. Vijaynagar administartors preferred the older name ‘Mangalapura’ which they simplified to ‘Mangalur’. Traveller Abdur Razzak (1442 CE) who visited this region during Vijayanagar Reign, recorded the place as Mangalor.Simialrly,Barbosa (1516 CE) has recorded the place name as Mangalor. Hamilton (1727 CE ) has described the place as Mangulore.
The place name ‘Bokkapatna’, now a quiet suburb of Mangalore, has forgotten strings of history and mystery attached to it. The mysterious aspect is that Bokkapatna was the fisheries town bordering the erstwhile port of Mangalore during the Vijayanagar period. Bokka (of ‘Hakka - Bokka’ brothers) was a popular King of Vijaynagar and the port town was named after him.
Geological data also reveal that the former estuary of Phalguni River was near Bokkapatna during Vijayanagar period. And this was the location of Mangalore port during Vijaynagar period.
Jain Architecture
Jainism was flourishing in Tulunadu during the 15th Century CE.In the year 1430 the famous ‘Thousand pillars’ Basadi was built at Mudabidri. The idol of Gomateshwara, carved and cut in monolithic granite stone at Karkala was installed in the year 1432.
After the fall of Vijayanagar Kingdom in Hampi,( 1564 CE, Battle of Talikote) Nayak Kings of Keladi (Shimoga district) acquired coastal regions formerly administered by Vijayanagar Kings. The Nayak Kings (1499-1763) were followers of Veerashaiva (Lingayath) faith and they established several Lingayath MaTas (religious institutions) in Tulunadu at places like Gurupura and Ganjimata. Both the place names Gurupura ( a part of Mulur village) and Ganjimata ( a part of Badaga Ulipadi village) came into existence during their period in 17th Century CE.The name ‘Ganji-maTa’ became popular since, they used to serve ‘ganji’ (rice porridge) to common folks as a measure of public service.
Vasco Da Gama, a Portuguese marine explorer visited the West Coast and renamed the ancient volcanic islands in the offs-shore of Malpe as St Marys Islands in the year 1498. Further Portuguese frequented the West Coast and gradually made every effort to replace the dominance of Arabs traders in the Mangalore port area. In 1526 Portuguese Viceroy Lopo Vaz de Sampio defeated Banga Kings of Mangalore and acquired parts of Mangalore and dominated the marine trade from Mangalore Port. Portuguese preferred the stylish word Mangalor for Mangalur.
Portuguese occupied Mangalore in the year 1568 and built St Sebastian Fort (within the premise of present Deputy Commissioners Office). Portuguese also built three churches namely, (1) Holy Rosary Church at Bolar (2) Our Lady of Mercy at Ullal and (3)St Francis Assissi at Ferangipet. Holy Rosary or the Factory Church (now popularly known as Rosario Church) was subsequently repaired by Fr Joseph Vas in 1681. In 1695 the Arabs burnt parts of Mangalore Port town in retaliation against the dominance of the Portuguese.
The original structure of Milagres Church, Mangalore (also known as the church of Our Lady of Miracles) was built in the year 1680 by Bishop Thomas De Castro,of Salsette,Goa.
Ullala Kotepura
Ullala, the tiny coastal town south of Mangalore, was being ruled by Jain chieftains during 16th Century. Of these chieftains Queen Abbakka is reknowned for rebelling against the domination of Portuguese traders in this coastal zone. She built an army of valiant Mogaveer youths and mounted attack on Portuguese ships.
Netarvati  River migration
The northern most tip of Ullala is known as Kotepura. As the name evidently suggests Kotepura, possibly constituted the area of where the fort of Queen Abbakka (1540-1625 CE) was located. (Kote= fort). At present the Kotepura is at the northernmost sandy tip of Ullala. This in turn suggests that the part of the Kote (fort) region of Ullala has been eroded off since 16-17th Century during southward migration of River Netravati.
A geographic event of southward migration of River Netravati has been described in post 256. The present location of the Kotepura ta the tip of sand spit of Ullal suggest that river has migrated laterally southward sometime after the period of Abbakka or say 1630, engulfing a part of former Kotepura in the process.
Forts of Nayaka Kings
Shivappa Nayaka of Keladi (reign 1645-1660) acquired parts of Coastal Karnataka and Kerala. Forts of Mangalore (now destroyed), Bekal and Chandragiri (Kasargod district, Kerala) were rebuilt or renovated by Nayaka Kings during the regime of Shivappa Nayaka.
Kodial Bunder
The strategic importance of Mangalore as a Port town was being appreciated by rulers of the Mysore region. Hyder Ali (1722-82) ruling from Srirangapatna, conquered Mangalore in the year 1763 from Nayakas of Keladi and ruled till 1768.
Sultans of Srirangapatna/ Mysore preferred the name ‘Kodial Bunder’ for the Mangalore Port of the period located near Bokkapatna.
British merchants of East India Company acquirred and dominated Mangalore after a war broke between Hyder Ali and the British at Mangalore in the year 1766. In 1768 (March 1), the British captured the Mangalore fort from the Portuguese. However, Tipu Sultan, son of Hyder Ali recaptured Mangalore during the year 1769.
Sultan Batteri
Tipu Sultan built a battery to store on the bank of estuary of River Phalguni to confront and fight against invaders from the Sea route in the year 1769.
The structure still found on the bank of River Phalguni (Gurupura) at Boloor is known as Sultans Battery. The structure of Sultans Battery remains symbolic of the struggle against the British.
It is interesting to recount here that the estuary and the river mouth to the Sea and Port were near Bokkapatna, closer to Sultan Battery during the end of 17th century. There was no sand bar or spit (now known as ‘Bengare’) separating the Arabian Sea and the Gurpur River (tidal estuary) during this period.
However the British subjugated Tipu Sultan’s Army and gained control over Mangalore during the period 1791-1793. Tipu Sultan again captured Mangalore in the year 1793. The British surrendered Mangalore to Tipu Sultan in 1794 and captured again in 1799 after the death of Tipu Sultan in Mysore war.

The British took up the administration of Mangalore town in the year 1800. During the period the British adopted the name of the town as Mangalore.
The new Milagres Church was built in the year 1811 and Roasrio Church (old Rosary or Factory Church, Bolar) was rebuilt in their old places with financial assistance by the British in the year 1813.
Basel Mission was opened its Mangalore branch in the year 1834. The advent of Basel Mission of German origin and Roman Catholic Jesuit Mangalore Mission of Italian origin in 1878 stimulated and fostered new avenues in education and industries in the region, apart from bringing about religious conversions. In 1863 the Kanara district was bifurcated in North and South Kanara districts of which, the north Kanara was attached to Bombay Presidency and the South Kanara was attached to Madras Presidency of the British. In the year 1866 (May 23) municipal council of Mangalore was established, bringing in modern civic amenities to the ancient town.
Bengre Sand Spit
An interesting aspect of paleo-geography and natural history is that Gurupur River was joing the Sea near Bokkapatna Bolur area. In the year 1887, The River Gurpur took an abrupt southward turn creating a new Sand spit, now known as ‘Bengre’, in the western coastal stretch of Mangalore city.
St Aloysius Church was built in the year 1899-1900.Paintings in the St.Aloysius Church were created by an Italian artist known as Antony Moshiani.
The dome of the Rosario Church was constructed in the year 1910 and the church was elevated to the status of a cathedral. Similarly, the Milagres Church has been renovated in the year 1911.
Poyye: relics of Mangarta estauary
Rosario Church was also formerly known as ‘Poyyeda ingrezi’ of the Church of the Sand bed. The old name of the area was ‘Poyye’ or ‘Hoige’ (=sandy area). Thus, the old market known as ‘Hoige Bazar’ (= Sandy bazaar) came into existence in the area. The ‘Sand’ in this place names is an ancient relic feature of sandy beds of ancient Pandeshwara estuary and port formerly also known as ‘Mangaruth’ in the ancient history (Post 254).
The Mangalore town was linked to the network of Southern Railway of British Period in the year 1907.
After the independence (1947) the major landmarks in Mangalore are Mangalore Air Port at Bajpe (1951), New Mangalore Port (1974) at Panambur, Mangalore Chemicals & Fertilizers Ltd or MCF (1976) at Panamburand Mangalore Refinery and petrochemicals Ltd or MRPL (1988).
The place now popularly known as ‘Mangalore’ is not alone or unique in this world. There is another place that shares the name Mangalore, with an airport, in Victoria, Australia and similarly one more Mangalore in Tasmania.
Similarly, in Gulbarga district, there is one Mangalur.
With accent on Indianization of place names, many Mangaloreans prefer the old name of ‘Mangalur’ again.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

257.Bekal Fort

The coastal town Bekal, well known for a picturesque Fort, is about 15km south of Kasargod, in Kerala. The Fort more or less hexagonal in shape, covering an area of about 40 acres,with 12m high walls, has been built on a granite-laterite promonotary projecting into the coastline of Arabian Sea on three sides of the hexagon. It is well known practice during the past period of kings to build forts on promonotories in the interest of security.
The Fort has been constructed using laterite bricks.The fort area has been developed as a popular spot for tourism. According to historical data compiled by Salattore the fort was built by Shivappa Nayaka of Keladi around 1650 CE, during his occupation of coastal stretch of Tulunadu and Malabar. There is also an opinion that an ancient fort existed in the area originally built by Kolathiri kings of Kerala ca. 12th Century. The fort might have been renovated by the Portuguese and later rebuilt by Hiriya Venkatappa Nayaka and later completed by his son King Shivappa Nayaka. After Portuguese and Nayaka Kings of Keladi/ Ikkeri, Tippu Sultan ruled over this region in 18th Century also modified the Fort to carry out gun attacks on the enemies.
According to some local legends, the name ‘Bekal’ is derived from the words Benda kalla referring to the burnt bricks used in the ancient fort. The place is also sometin\mes referred to as ‘Dekkal’ (‘Dekallu’) meaning projecting rocks (promonotory) in Tulu language. (Compare the Tulu word ‘Dekallu’ with ‘Dekkuli’, projecting tooth).Alternately, the name Dekall also could have been ‘Dekki kall’ (=washed stones, in Tulu) alluding to the wave washed granite-granulite rock exposures on the beach-line of  the Bekal Fort.
It is said that during the past royal history the place was also known as ‘Baliakulam’. In Kerala history the place was also known for some time as ‘Vekkolath’ (or Bekkolath).

Place-name Bekal
The original meaning of the place name ‘Bekal’ is still obscure.It could not be abbreviation of Benda kal (=burnt stones) as asserted by some, because laterite bricks are not burnt stones. Laterites are simply soft rocks cut into large bricks, using suitably designed flat iron axes, so that the bricks harden after exposure to atmosphere. Besides, the Laterites are commonly known as Murakal (Tulu) or Cherikal (Malayalam) and not Bekal!
The place name Bekal can be analysed as (1) Be+kal (2) Be+kaLa or (3) Bek+al. (Of these suffixes, ‘kal’=rock;  ’kaLa’=plot or yard; and ‘al’ or ‘ala’= a place beside a river or waterbody).
The place-name ‘Bekal’ appears to be an ancient ethnonym. The tribal group known as ‘Be’ (or ‘Bay’ or ‘Bai’) were an ancient Austo-Asiatic immigrant tribes settled in parts of southern India probably around 2000 BC. We find reference to area ‘Bekanata’ in Rigveda, dated ca. 1700 BC.
There are several places in southern India that share the prefix of ‘Bay’ or ‘Beka’.The place name ‘Bayculla’ in Mumbai, appears a related variant of the ‘Bekal’. The ‘kula’ in Bayculla apparently refers to an lake.
Similarly there are place name ‘Baikampadi’ (in Mangalore), ‘Baikandi ‘, ‘Baindur’ etc the in Karavali region.
The place names Bekal and Bekanata share the common prefix ‘Beka’. One possibility is that ‘ka’ in Beka is a preposition (equivalent of English  ‘of’) derived from an ancient languge that was in use during early Vedic period. The Bekanata cited in Rigveda has been discussed by several researchers. We shall look into this place name in another post.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Festival of Lights

Let there be light everywhere: in every heart, every mind !
Light is symbolic of positive aspects of our life,.like awareness, knowledge, happiness, progress and prosperity.

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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