A Proverb (ಗಾದೆ: Gāde in Tulu) is a simple, straight and concrete wise saying, popularly known and repeated in conversations. “ಗಾದೆಟು ಗಂಟು ಇಜ್ಜಿ, ನೀರುಡು ಅಂಟು ಇಜ್ಜಿ” (Gaadetu gantu ijji, neerudu antu ijji) means that there is no knot in proverbs as is water without stickiness. That is to say, flow of meaning is easy to understand as is the flow of water, which is pure. It is a plain expression of truth, based on commonsense or experience of humanity. Wolfgang Mieder, an American proverb scholar, puts it as “a short, generally known sentences of the folk, which contain wisdom, truth, morals, and traditional views in a metaphorical, fixed and memorable form and which is handed down from generation to generation.” They are also called Maxims (Subhashtia = ಸುಭಾಷಿತ) wherein they teach the basic rules of conduct. They are universal in nature, appealing to human mind. All proverbs may not have the universal appeal at all times to come. Characteristics, toned by place and period, and culture, influenced by beliefs and customs, of people of a region are well defined in its regional language. Ethnography and language are linked together when a proverb is based on ’Context of speech event.’ So a proverb gives an insight into a Society’s outlook as regards to values and beliefs.
Folk knowledge, permeating down the ages, has crystallized to a specific meaning over a period of time. Paremiology, i.e. Study of Proverbs, has not developed in Tulu to the standards as in other languages. Collection of Proverbs (Paremiography) of Tulu is available in book form here and there, giving basic meanings. There is no such book, which gives a critical analysis. There is no dearth of proverbs in Tulu language. Many of the Proverbs are encapsulated in the Tulu Lexicon (TL) while highlighting usage of certain words.
ಮರ ಬೂರುಂಡು, ಪಕ್ಕಿ ಪಾರುಂಡು
The above Tulu proverb (TL page 2520: transliterated herein: ‘Mara Burundu, pakki parundu’) has been engaging my mind for a long time. On word to word translation, it means: “Tree fell; birds flew”.
This is a natural phenomenon.
From Cause to Effect (A-priori)
It is a general knowledge that birds fly when a tree falls. We are not concerned about how a tree has fallen but from the cause of a tree-fall, we can come to instance of birds flying. It is a valid statement, independently of observation.
From Effect to Cause (A-posteriori)
Birds flew. It is a particular instance to a general principle of law. It is based on actual observation. When and why birds fly? From the evidence, a theory or a general principle is drawn. They fly either in search of food or when they are chased or deprived of their shelter. How they are deprived of their nest? It could be that the tree has fallen naturally or is felled by human intervention – rightly or wrongly.
Falling and flying are two propositions. Falling of tree, for various reasons, is true. Flying is also true, subject to circumstances. On the event of a falling tree, we can envisage harmful repercussions from environmental and economic angles.
This Proverb evinces allusion or comparison. In a village setting of Tulu Nadu, guided by matrilineal system, this natural event is alluded to death of a husband when his wife leaves her in-laws house and returns to her maternal home with her children, to be taken care of. Matrilineal system is prevalent in Tulu Nadu. In the extant system, she has no rights of properties of her husband’s ancestral properties (barring husband’s self-acquired properties and the present legal laws of the country).
Bhutala Pandya’s Kattu-Kattalegalu (Injunctions)
The Tulu proverb, under study, has universal appeal, even though it applies to Tuluva Culture. The custom is one of the injunctions of Bhutala Pandya (as codified in Bhutala Pandya’s Kattu Kattalegalu, i.e. Codes of Conduct). It safeguards the economic security of women in Tulu Nadu. In patriarchal society, family-line continuity is ensured by male child. Women’s economic security is suffering here under male dominance.
During British regime, Courts of erstwhile Madras State refer to Bhutala Pandya’s Law of Aliya Santana to answer disputes of right of property and succession in extended South Kanara of those days. Female members are heirs and are bound to be maintained irrespective of the fact that eldest male looks after the administration of ancestral properties for all practical purposes (even though there have been breaches of trust). A girl is taken to family fold even in cases when she is going astray.
Many books are available on Bhutala Pandya in Kannada for the story of heir-ship ordained to be given to Deva Pandya’s sister’s son instead of his own sons. Translation (by B. Ramaswamy Naidu, 1872, of original books), is available in Google e-Book (though there are omissions/garbling at places).
Social Codes of Conduct
In pre-societies, woman was both a bread-winner and a householder and caretaker. Her position is a predominant one and she takes part in all activities of a household. This system has landed down from the early hunting stage to the present day in various societies. Woman takes part in farming and other ancestral trades or professions, besides rearing her children. It is very much prevalent in Tulu Nadu even today. Rahul Sanskritayana tells a story of such a system in his Story Book: ‘Volga to Ganga’ (Note: There is a Kannada translation of this Book). Elsewhere, a woman is considered as a ‘housewife’ and man as a ‘bread-winner/earner’, even in industrially developed countries some years ago.
The present-day woman is doubly burdened in spite of economical independence. Besides having primary responsibility of house-stead chores, she works outside in schools, hospitals, offices, factories, scientific and social organizations, etc. Generally, she is exploited, while competing with male dominated socio-economic spheres and has to content with low-paid jobs (barring certain exceptions).
This is valid even in industrially developed countries. She has to be a ‘housewife first’ and then a ‘wage-earner’. These days Internet based matrimonies, seek ‘homely brides’ but in the end hunt for working girls with transferable jobs, preferably with heavy purse.
When the Last Tree is cut…!
Environmental Disaster: When I was thinking of writing on the subject, I came across a letter to ‘Quote Investigator’ in the Net seeking whether the originator of the following Proverb is Alanis Obomsawin, Prophecy of the Cree Indians, Osage saying, Sakokwenonkwas, Greenpeace, Anonymous, Apocryphal or not:
“When the last tree has been cut down, the last fish caught, the last river poisoned, only then will we realize that one cannot eat money”
The disaster is conceivable.
ELF: There was film ‘If a tree falls’. It is story of Earth Liberation Cell (USA) - its rise and fall.
Falling Tree & Human Stress Syndrome Effect
“Even though plants do not show any change to the naked (or lensed) eyes, when a human is in their presence, systematic biological changes have been discovered that have grave effects on plant life when a person is within 300 metres. This effect is Human Stress Syndrome.” (q.v. www: getodd.com)
When a tree is about to fall and if a human is around, cell walls of the tree get brittle because of Human Stress Syndrome and it falls with a familiar sound. If a tree falls in a forest without the proximity of human, it does not make a sound. The sound is due to Ultraviolet gas emitted by human stressed trees. Lumber without human stress effect is spongy and hence not very strong, thereby rendering it unfit for building.
In India, there are many laws now on women’s liberty, empowerment, domestic violence, dowry deaths, molestation, etc. A girl is not safe irrespective of these laws. The economic freedom of women is prevailing even today in Tulu Nadu in spite of demerits of the decree of Bhutala Pandya. A woman is taken care of by her husband after marriage and is helped by her maternal family when in need.
-Hosabettu Vishwanath (Pune)