Sunday, December 18, 2011

291. Garodi and Kalari

Ancient Garodi and Kalari schools trained youths in physical development, body building and various combat techniques in the antiquity. Well known Tulu researcher and academician Dr. Vamana Nandavara in his blog ‘Nandavara’ has compiled an informative post on the contribution of Garodi ancient martial art training schools of Karavali Tulunadu on Kalaripayattu martial art system prevalent in Kerala-Tamilnadu.
 The ancient school of martial arts and gymnasia, the ‘Garodi’ (pron: ‘garoDi’) or ‘Garudi’ (garuDi) is also known as ‘Garadi ‘(‘garaDi’) especially in Kannada regions including Karnataka. It seems the Garodi/Garudi/Garadi schools were popular since antiquity, not only in Karavali Karnataka but all over southern India. The Dravida Etymological Dictionary (DED) cites ‘Karati’ as Tamil equivalent of Garadi. In Telugu areas these were also known as Giridi. The Garadi and Karati are the same word considering that ‘ka’ and ‘Ti’ also represents ‘ga’ and ‘Di’ respectively, because of paucity of consonants in Tamil alphabet. It is believed that Buddhist missionary monks from southern India carried ancient techniques of self- defense to China and Japan that eventually developed into ‘Karate’. Thus it is possible that the word ‘Karate’ originated from the Dravidian word ‘Karati’.
It appears that the word ‘GaroDi’ (garuDi or garaDi) originated from roots ‘garu’ and Di. The Pali (also Paisachi?) word ‘garu’ means guru or the teacher; (In Telugu suffix –gāru is appended to personal names to signify respect). Di (or Da) is a spatial attribute suffix found in ancient place names [like Kaladi, Shiridi, Niddodi, Posodi ; Baroda, Muruda etc.]. Overall, the word ‘Garodi’ means teaching area or school. In Gujarathi language Garodia means a teacher. Similarly in Tulu language, 'Garandal' (garand+aal) means a stalwart or an important person, suggesting that the word 'garand' [older variant of 'garad'] reflects a respectable [aal] person. Similarly, the flag-post in front of Temples is known as Garuda-kamba. The word 'garuda' in this usage may not be the bird vehicle of Lord Vishnu.Because the same temple flag ('dhwaja' or symbolic mast) is known as 'Garna' in Kundapur area. The word Garna, again signifies symbolic honour in front of the abode of God. Similarly, the gun powder explosive  blasted to announce auspicious ceremonies in the temple is known as 'garnaal'. 
[Note: The teacher in TuLu Garodis is usually known as 'Nanaya".This could be a subsequent or parallel development in the course of evolution of Garodis].

To begin with, the spatial halls in the front of traditional houses (ChāvaDi) or open fields were used as Garodi training grounds. This is evident from the usages like garodi (for chāvadi) and Garodi kanda (see Tulu Nighantu, Vol.3, p. 1057-1058). Subsequently, these were shifted to dedicated schools dictated by specified Vāstu norms (blog post in Nandavara).
The meaning of the term ‘Kalari’ is generally explained as battle-field: however, origin of the word seems similar to garodi. The ancient word ‘kaLa’ means a plot or field [For example neji da kaLa means the paddy field  in Tulu language; the plot dedicated for spirit worship among early Tulu tribes is also referred to as kaLa]. Therefore, the word ‘kalari’ originally referred to the open field where the art or techniques of combat were taught and practiced. Subsequently, Kalari also meant the battle field, since battles were also held in open fields.[The  word’ kalaha‘ for combat has similar origin].
Antiquity of Garodis and Kalaris
Thus ‘garodi’ and ‘kalari’ seems to have evolved as two parallel schools of martial arts with similar origins in the antiquity. And these schools evolved by borrowing technical know-how from their friendly neighbours wherever possible. The Kalari (or Kalaripayattu) also imbibed principles of graceful movements from the ambient dance styles originated in this land during the course of its evolution.
Fig 291.1.Idol of horse mounted Bermer flanked by idols of Koti and Chennaya in a Garadi [ photo source: Dr Vamana Nandavara (2001)]

Even though the garodi and kalari schools flourished well between the period 10 th 16th Century CE, it appears their   origin dates back to early years of the Common Era or before.
One important clue for the antiquity of garodis comes from the nature of God traditionally worshipped in garodis. The master deity of Garodi is Bermer or the concept of Brahma in original form.
Fig 291.2.Idol of horse mounted Bermer  God worshipped in a  Garadi (above picture partly highlighted).
 The cult of Bermer   mounted on horse originated before the introduction of revised cult of four-headed Brahma in Indian Puranas.The introduction of the horse mounted Bermer cult in Tulunadu possibly dates back to the period ca.400 BC to ca.400 CE.
Garadi and Karate
 Garadi ( the other verbal form of the term Garodi) was also earlier pronunced as Karati. The Tamil equivalent of Garadi was Karati as  there are paucity of consonants in Tamil alphabets wherein ka-ga and ti-di etc pairs are pronunced similarly. In the early history of  India, Buddhist teachers from southern India proficient in Garadi (Karati) and Yoga arts travelled  to China and Japan to preach or propagate Buddhism. It appears that these monks also propagated a mixture of Garadi (Karati) and Yoga as Karati or Karate in those countries.

 [If you have missed previous posts, check in for more on Bermer God.. and discussions ]
Read the Nandavara post on Contribution of Garadis to Kalaris at:

Vamana Nandavara, Dr.(2001) Kooti Cennaya: Folkloristic Study (Kannada).Hemanshu Prakashana, Mangalore,p.420.

1 comment:

  1. It is nice to our own culture in the web site..Thanks for whomever posted it..Try to post more of them..


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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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