Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Birds of Bengre

Birds in search of fish remains on the bank of Bengre spit, Mangalore. (View from the estuary)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

301. Naravi & Sun worship – an overview

Life of settlers of an area is a history - whether recorded or not. What is not recorded buries into quick-sand of time. Toponym assumes the role of an identity marker, thereby enriching occupational vocabulary of language of that area. This can be analysed by studying the socio-political situation, conditioned by geography.  Changes are the handiwork of events and geography. Languages, political forces, borders, and social order resulting from faith and assimilation, are agents of change. Occupations change with human movements and/or climatic conditions.  Religion of one region may thrive in another area, conditioning it to the geography and environment of that area.
Naravi (pronounced as nArAvi, ನಾರಾವಿ) is a village in Belthangadi Taluk of District Dakshina Kannada on the foothills of Western Ghats.  It is 20 km from Karkala on Karkala-Dharmasthala Road.  There is a well-known Suryanarayana Temple, dedicated to Surya, the Sun God.
Naravi was also known by its old name ‘Narol’ (ನಾರೋಳ್). The word ‘Narol’ is comparable to ‘Narod’ in Gujarat. 'Nara' means 'water crane' .  It should be read as 'water fowl (mundeyi kori = pelican). Other Tulu equivalent of 'nara' is 'nore'.  These birds live in bushes near water-bodies.  So we can deduce that the locality possibly got the name because of their presence in abundance.

Haunting Name
Word Naravi is both interesting and intriguing by virtue of its indistinct meaning.  It rhymes and compares with Dharavi of Mumbai*, Sharavu (Mangalore), Madaavu (meaning a place by the side of a canal, stream or river in Tulu) and Dharwad (North Karnataka).  All these places are indicative of ‘presence of water’.  But the local legend of Naravi belies this phenomenon. 
(Dharavi, in Mumbai, is a swamp area with mangrove vegetation sandwiched between Bandra-Mahim creek and Sion-Koliwada on West and East sides and erstwhile colony of Koli Fishermen before reclamation. Mithi River on its North debauches to Mahim Creek).
The Legend
There is a legend around the Sun Temple, built in 14th Century.  Sadvi (Pious woman) Ramadevi, belonging to noble gentry of ‘Ramera Guttu’ is instrumental in constructing this Temple.  She was an ardent devotee of Lord Surya Narayana, the Sun God.  She did not partake food without seeing the rising Sun.  Seasonal changes could make it impossible for her to get a glimpse of the Sun, thus making her to starve for days until she had a view of the Sun.  Noticing her unwavering devotion, Lord Surya Narayana instructed her in a dream to install the deity with celestial energy, lying near a River in South Western Part of Naravi, by constructing a temple.
Sun Temple of Naravi through ages.Photos from SuryanarayanaTemple

  The newly found idol of the deity was enshrined in a Temple as per Vedic rites by Brahmin priests.  All devotees experienced the presence of a young priest, exuding tremendous energy, among the priests. It was a miracle.  The young priest uttered ‘Na Ravi, Na Ravi’, i.e. ‘I am the Sun, I am the Sun’. Thereafter the place was known by the name ‘Naravi’.  The legend does not tell what the earlier name for Naravi was.
Sun Temple at Konark (Orissa) is well-known to all Indians and foreigners. Surprisingly, the temple at Naravi is less known
Splitting the word, we get Nara + vi where Nara means water or knowledge (as in Narayana, the one whose abode is water or one who is embodiment of knowledge). The suffix ‘vi ‘  (also ‘va’ or ‘ve’ means a place (197.Dravidian spatial suffix ‘Va’).
Sun worship from antiquity
The Nature’s Laws are equal to all.  So the objects or many phenomena in the Nature are held in great awe by all human beings in the world from pre-historic times.  Thinking human mind creates symbols and numbers to forces of intelligence. Concentrating solely on anyone of these forces, individual soul identifies itself with the Divine soul, the primordial energy, power or force (Readers would do well if they read the life story of Ramana Maharshi, who simplified this technique by his own example).  Sun worship is one of the practices found in all civilizations of the globe. The Sun God is known by different names. Some of the Sun symbols are comparable to Indian symbol, especially in Mayan civilization.
India:  Surya or Suryanarayana is the one common name for twelve Suns, called as ‘Adityas’ in Puranas.  In Astrology he takes the central place. Varahamihira (505-587 AD - a mathematician, astronomer and astrologer in the Court of Vikramaditya, Ujjain) tells that only Maga Brahmins are entitled to do rites concerning the Sun.  Puranas say that Maga or Saka Dwipi Brahmins are invited by Lord Krishna of Dwaraka to cure his son Samba from leprosy.  We know from Puranas and Mahabharata that Yadavas dispersed to various places on destruction of ‘Dwaraka Nagari’ by ingression of Arabian Sea. This phenomenon is now proved by archaeological surveys.  We can presume that Maga Brahmins also migrated to coastal South from Gujarat coast, along with Yadavas.
Egypt: Egyptian Sun God is called ‘Ra’.  The winged Sun was an ancient symbol (300 BC) of Horus, identified with Ra, who moves in a Solar Boat.
Celtic Sun has semblance of Nakedness.  He holds a spear in standing posture.
Sumerian: Sumerian Sun holds many weapons, standing in one leg raised.
Akkadian Sun is seen in sitting posture.
Roman Sun stands with legs spread wide and upper portion of the body bent backwards and holds a weapon.
Incas, is a civilization of Mayans (?).  Their Sun God is holding an object, resembling a flower in both hands as is seen in Indian Sun idol with lotus flowers.
The Sun as progenitor
In the Mythology of India and other Asian countries, the Sun is considered as Progenitor of important royal families and/or powerful Tribes. We know about Suryavamshi Kings from the Epic of Ramayana. In Buddhism, the Bodhisattva of the Sun is known as ‘RI Gong RI Guang Pu SA (the Bright Solar Bodhisattva of the Solar Palace).

The oldest temple, dedicated to the Sun, is at Multan, which is now in Pakistan. There are many Sun Temples in India, which are important pilgrimage centres now.
Naravi: The temple is considered to have been established originally in the year 1486 by Ramaadevi during the regime of ruler Somanatha. The Sun Temple at Naravi was renovated in 2011.  
Maroli, Mangalore: There is an ancient Surya (Sun) Temple dating back to Alupa period of administration in Mangalore. Maroli is a village adjoining Alupe village and in older posts herein we suggested that Alupa Kings hailed originally from the village of Alupe. The Alupe (or Alupa) village was an estuary and a port town at the former mouth of River Netravati before the regression of Arabian Sea (attributed to legendary Lord Parashurama in folklores) and emergence of Pandeshwara Port.

Konark :   Built in 13th C. by King Narasimhadeva (1238-1250 CE) of Eastern Ganga Dynasty, the Temple is known as ‘Black Pagoda’.  The legend is that it was first built by Samba, the son of Lord Krishna by Jambavati. History says that it was built and rebuilt when vandalised by foreign invaders.  Entire complex is designed in the form of a Chariot, drawn by spirited horses. Powerful magnets, inserted in between rock layers, used to disturb merchant ships, by attracting them to shore and grounding them.  It is said that the Portuguese partially destroyed the temple to uphold their trade hegemony.
Modhera: Sun Temple built in 1026 CE by King Bhimdeva of Solanki Dynasty (supposed to be from Suryavamshi clan) lies on the Bank of Pushpavati in Modhera near Mehsana in Gujarat. It is so designed that the first rays of the Sun fall on the idol at the time of equinoxes.  Though it was ruined by foreign forces, it was almost destroyed by Allauddin Khilji.  We can still gauge its grandeur from the remnants of the Temple.
Katarmal:  The Temple, called as ‘Burhaditya or Vraddhaditya’ (the old Sun God) is built by Katarmalla, a Katyuri King in 9th C. When presiding Deity’s idol (of 10th C) was stolen, intricately carved doors and panels are shifted to Delhi National Museum.  It is situated 7 km from Almore (Uttarkand), 70 km away from Nainital.
Dakshinaarka:  The Temple, facing east, is at Gaya, Bihar, with a Surya Kunda (Tank).  Maga Brahmins, seeking a safer place from Lord Brahma, followed the disc thrown by him and settled down in Naimisharanya in Bihar where the disc plunged into the ground. Magadha, the present day Patna, took the name from Maga Brahmins.  The old temple was rebuilt or renovated by King Prataparudra of Warangal in 13th C. Rock pillars of this temple bear images of Shiva, Brahma, Vishnu, Surya and Durga.
There are two more Sun temples (1) Uttararka near Uttaramanas and (2) Gayaditya on the bank of River Phalgu, at Gaya.
(Note:   The Sun idols at Modhera and Gaya adorn Iranian type of belt and boots.)
Bhramaranya Dev:  The temple is at Unao near Jhansi, Madhya Pradesh.  Royal families, such as Peshwas and Datia rulers, were patrons of this temple.
Surya Pahar: Sun Temple at Surya Pahar/Pahad in Assam has images of twelve Adityas, sons of Kashyap Rishi and Aditi.  They are sculpted in a circular tablet.
Kumbhakonam: In Suryanaar temple at Kumbhakonam (Tamil Nadu) main deities are Surya, Vishwanatha, Vishalakshi and remaining eight Navagrahas (Celetial Bodies).
Arasavilli:  The main deity of Arasavilli Suryanarayana temple is known as ‘Padmapani’ – a 5 ft. granite statue. Arasavilli is near Srikakulam in Andhra Pradesh. He has Usha and Chhaya on his sides.  Padma (Lotus) means wisdom and Usha and Chhaya indicate iternity. 
Martand:  Sun Temple at Martand, meaning the (Dead) Sun, in Jammu & Kashmir is of 8th C.  It is in Gandhara style of architecture, which is mixture of Buddhist and Greek styles. There are two more temples on this stretch of Srinagar-Pehelgam Road at Avantipur.  They are dedicated to Avantishwara and are built in 9th C.  All these temples are in ruins, clad with snow but remind us the glory of the Past.
Temples in Tulu Nadu
In hymns to the Sun, He is described as ‘Aadi Deva’ (Primordial Divine entity).  He is Life of Life.  Assimilation of Trinity (Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara) is almost clear when we see temples named ‘Mahalingeshwara’ in Tulu Nadu. ‘Linga’ symbol is the manifestation of Shivashakti when the other energies lay hidden in it. Surya is the integral part of Narayana and Shiva.  We find such assimilation in Martanda-Mallari in Jejuri of Maharashtra. Celestial Bodies (Navagrahas) and Nagabrahma (Snake God) are inseparable part of Temples in Tulu Nadu.

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 Culture.by 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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