We have discussed some rudimentary data on the Nanda Kings of ancient Tulunadu in Post.268. Tamil Sangam literatures allude to Nannan, Konga and Punnata Kings who were conspicuous by their presence during the Sangam period.
One interesting analytical work in Kannada on the status and features of Kannada Nādu during Tamil Sangam period based on the analysis of Tamil Sangam literature by Professor Sh. Shettar throws some light on these obscure ancient Kings of western Karnataka and Tulunadu.
Tamils of Sangam period referred to ‘neDumoLi’(=people with imperfect Tamil) and ‘tiruvmoLi’(= people with impure Tamil) etc in their works to designate neighbours with imperfect command in Tamil language.
Tolkappiyam (ca. 1 century CE) has been considered as one of the earliest Tamil Sangam literature dealing essentially with aspects of Tamil grammar. The title of the work, Tolkappiyam has been explained as ancient composition, wherein, Tol=ancient; kāppiyam=composition. One of the possibility is that the word ‘kāppiyam’ is influenced from the Sanskrit word ‘kāvya’ for poetry or vice versa. Similarly, one wonders if the word ‘tol’ was Tamil analogous of the word ‘Tulu’.
During the Sangam period it is said that derivation of Tamil words from Sanskrit did take place. One example given is the transformation of the word ‘Rājan’ (=king, Sanksrit).
Rājan.(Sanskrit) >a+rajan.>arasan (Tamil).
According to Tolkappiyam the Tamil kingdoms of the Sangam period extended from ‘Kumari’ (Kanyakumari) in the south to ‘Vengadam’ (Venkatadri or Tirupati) in the north. The western or northwestern borders of the ancint Tamilgam have not been mentioned. However, Tolkappiyam mentions ‘Vadugar’(=northern people),’Vadamol’ or ‘Vadasol ‘ (=northern language; Sanskrit ? ) etc.
These ‘Vadugar’ are distinguished from people of ‘Erumai-nādu’ (ancient Mysore area).The word ‘Erumai’ (=buffalo) is notable as it indicates that, like in Tulu and Tamil, the original word in old Kannada for buffalo was ‘erumai’ which transformed into ‘emme’ in later Kannada. In the later period, the ancient ‘Erumai-nadu’ or ‘Erumai-nalnadu’ under the influence of Sanskrit was renamed as ‘Mahisha-mandala’. Mahisha-mandala later became ‘Mahishur’ and ‘Mysore’ with passage of time.
Ashoka and Satiyaputo
It is opined that the Prakrit and Pali languages were apparently known in southern India because of spread of Buddhism and Jainism in the south, since ca. 3rd century BC. Pali written in Brahmi script was prevalent in ancient Srilanka (Tāmraparni) also.
Ashoka in his rock edicts, written in Pali language with Brahmi script, cites the three kings (muvendra) of south namely (Chola, Chera and Pandya) besides ‘Satiyoputo’. He does not mention any of the Erumai, Punnata, Konga, Tulu, Katumba (Kadamba), Mohur and Kosar rulers of the south. Prof Shettar suggests that these rulers were left out in the edicts because they did not comply with Ashokas religious principles or political directives.
The King Nannan (Nandan?) cited by more than twenty Sangam poets including Mamulnar, appears to be one of the Nanda Kings of the southern Karavali and Kodagu. Nannan has been depicted as king of Konga tribes in Sangam literature. He has been described as king of Konkan hill area (Eliyal hill) in Purananur. There is also reference to an area reknown for gold deposits. It could be that one of the Nannan (Nanda) King extended his kigdom upto Kolar known for substantial gold deposits. Incidentally there is a place near Kolar is called Nandagudi.
When a Chola King confronted Nannan Udayan (Nandaraya Udaya) near Karur in a war ,the latter made combined alliance with Arai, Ganga (Kangan), Punnata Kings and beheaded the Chola Commander so that Chola King had to rush to the warfield personally to take guide the army.
Agananur cites that Nannan subjugated Pindan in the Eliyal hill and that he drove off Kosars from Tulunadu.It appears that Nannan was ruling over Tulu Konkan regions located to the northwest of Tamilgam.He was said to have had a five layered fortress in Eliyal hill. He had another fort with high walls separated by deep trenches in Agappa hill to the north of Umablkad (= forest of elephants).
There are references to ‘Eliyal hill’, the abode of Nanda Kings, in Sangam literature. There are several possible Eliyal hills in Tulunadu or in northern Kerala.The word Eli has created confusion as it also means a rat. Elu means number seven. Otherwise ‘Eliya’ were an ancient tribe that inhabited these coastal regions.In Kerala Elimalai or Ezhimalai is a coastal hill where at present a naval academy is being built. Keralites believe that Elimali is the Eliyal hill referred to in Sangam literature.
One Eliyar padavu is located south of Mangalore near Amblamogaru village.Sangam poets refer to ‘Umblakadu’. Was this a place close to Amblamogaru? Besides, there is an Elimale in Sullia taluk. There is also one Elinje near Kinnigoli. Anyway possibly there is an interesting link between the Nanda Kings and the abode of Eliyar tribes.
There were skirmishes between Nannan and Chera Kings. In one of the wars, Noormadi Cheral surrendered his crown and necklace to Nannan. In one of the wars, Chera and Pasum Pandya (along with his subordinate Neduman Anji)combined themselves and fought against the valiant Nannan; In that skirmish Atiyaras lost his head to the pleasure of jubilant Kongas carrying shining swords.
The King Nannan cited in Tamil Sangam ultimately died in the warfield near Wagai, Tamilanadu, when fighting against a Chera King.
Shilappadigaram has described Konga tribes hailing from Kodagu area. Accordging to Sangam ‘Paditrupattu’, at one period Kongas ruled Karur in Tamilnadu and Chola Kings struggled to defeat them. The word ‘Konga’ in Tamil means honey apart from the name of the tribe.Possibly Konga tribes could have been a honey collecting tribes in the beginning. Some believe that Konga were the rulers later known as ‘Ganga’ dynasty in Talakad, in Mysore region.
Where there Kongas in Tulunadu?
Yes, we have described in the older posts several signature villages of ancient Kom tribes in Tulunadu such as Kompadavu, Komdodi, Konchadi etc. It appears that the Kom were subsequently known as ‘Konga’. (Like Kor were subsequently known as Koraga.) The suffix –ga in these names indicates person or the group.
At places ‘Kom’ were also known as ‘Komcha’ (as in place name ‘Konchadi’, northern Mangalore) wherein the suffix ‘–cha’ refers to tribes or people.
The word Konkan that refers to part of West Coast also might have had origin from Kong tribes. Such as Kong+an=Konkan.
It appears that subsequently the Kom or Kong tribes pervaded many areas of southern India. Kongas lived in areas endowed with ‘kadiru-mani’ (ruby corundum) according to Purananur. Regions to the east of Sullia, Subrahmanya, Kodagu ,Arakalagud in Hassan, Kabini and southern Mysore are the areas known to have good deposits of ruby corundum. Konga tribes were fond of decorating themselves with rubies and yellow flowers known as ‘Kongilavam’.
There is a Komara beedu in Mysore city. Kannada people of Mysore region usually use the word ‘Kongaru’ for the Tamil people.Parts of Coimbatore and Salem districts of Tamilnadu were known as Kongu-desha in history.
Kong tribes were valiant fighters. According to Paditrupattu they employed lever based machinery (probably wooden) to throw large stones at the opponents. There were also Konga rajas during the history in Kerala. Probably a group of Kongas were later known to have formed the Ganga dynasty.One of the founders of the Ganga dynasty was known as Konguni Varma.
The ancient Nanda (Nandara, Nandarannaya lineages), Kom (Kommatti lineage) and Konga (Kongaru or Kongarannaya lineages) tribes have at least partly been assimilated with the Bunt-Nadava diaspora community during the progress of the Tulu history. The corresponding lineage names have survived as genetic testimonies to this observation.
Older post Links: 268. Nanda Rulers of Tulunadu.
Sh. Shettar (2010). ‘Shangam Tamilagam mattu Kannada Naadu-Nudi’. (In Kannada). Abhinava, Bangalore, p.261.
Murkot Ramunny (1993) Ezhimala: the abode of the Naval Academy, p 104.Google books.