Tuesday, March 25, 2014

333. Origin of the word: Kailas

The mythical abode of Lord Shiva, the Mount Kailas(h), in the mountains of Himalaya ranges has been a sacred peak for Hindus, Jains and, Buddhists since time immemorial.  Probably the special dome shaped peak of the mountain peak, made people to recognize as a holy abode.
Lord Shiva has been considered the original master of Yoga and the dance forms. The dark coloured ancient God, clad in a deer skin loin cloth appears to have been modeled in the form of a tribal hero.  The garland of serpent around his neck merely signifies his power to subdue dangerous and poisonous creatures. The moon and the river Ganges tied up in his knotted hairs   symbolize his ability to control heavenly objects as well as to regulate elusive flows of water. The appearance of Lord Shiva evinces the antiquity of the cult that dates back to tribal days.

However, the origin, meaning and antiquity of the word Kailas (or Kailash) is not clear even though some (for example in Wikipedia) presume that it could have been derived from the Hindi word ‘kelas’ which means a crystal. In this post, We shall attempt to decipher, analyse and understand this word Kailas in order to propose a possible source or origin of the word.

The place name Kailas is   neither unique nor uncommon in India. We can find numerous places named after Kailas such as Kailaspur(a) in different parts of India. Besides, there are places known as Kail, Kaila and Kaili which formed the root of the word Kailas.  Besides, there are also places like Kailai, Kailakh, Kailoori, Kail gaon, Kailawad, etc.  In these, since   -as, (or -asi   or –ase); -ai;-oori; gaon, wad; etc,  are spatial suffixes (denoting habitation) [eg. Banavasi, Varanasi, Gandasi, Amase(bail), Teggarse, Vaddarse, etc] by analogy, we can infer the origin of  the place name Kailas as Kail+as.
Thus the overall meaning of the word Kailas appears to be an abode or homely habitation.
Kail is an interesting word, possibly of ancient Munda lingual origin.  For example in Tulu language where the word Kail has survived as a less familiar fossil word, it is used for representing (large) dwelling houses or probably also habitations occupied by Munda(la) tribal people.(Tulu Nighantu/Lexicon). However, the term kail is not restricted to Mundala of Tulunadu. The word also exists among people of Munda origin in other parts of India, suggesting that the word was prevalent all over India once upon a time.

Other kails
However, the term kail do have other meanings also, derived probably from other languages of the region.
1. The term kail2 in Tulu means a shoot consisting of a bunch of fruits (for example of bananas). Perhaps it is connected to the Munda word Kail which means the dwelling place for a group of (related) individuals.
2. Among Kodagu people, a traditional  warrior tribe,  Kail3 podu (or Kail  muhurta ) means weapon festival of worshipping  weapons also known as ayudha pooja in other areas.

Kail / Kaila villages in India
The term kail as a place name is quite widespread in India. There are some 194 Kail villages having the prefix of   ‘kail’ in India.

Andhra Pradesh :  Kailapur, Kailas patham,
Assam:  Kailaspur, Kailel kepjan, Kaila disha.
Bihar:  Kail, Kaila, Kaili, Kailaratti, Kailakh, Kailani, Kailashmath,
Chattisgarh: Kailashpur, Kailasgadh
Haryana:  Kail, Kailram, Kailash, Kailana, Kail Gaon,
Himachal Pradesh:  Kail, Kiala, Kailvin, Kailaspur, Kailar, Kaila,
J &K : Kailtri, Kail,
Jharkhand: Kailan, Kail Kanhar, Kailpur, Kailudih, Kailkha, Kaile,
Karnataka: Kailaspur.
Madhya Pradesh: Kailaras, Kailaspuri, Kaili Ry,  Kailware kalan, Kailwas, Kail
Maharastra: Kailasnagar, Kailaspur, Kailaswad, Kailenjang,
Orissa: Kailash, Kailani, Kailasnagar, Kailamba, Kailaspur,
Punjab: Kailan, Kailpur, Kaila, Kailash,  Kailowal
Rajastan: Kailoori, Kailaspura, Kailadevi, Kailai, Kaila ke bas, Kailaspur
Tamilnadu: Kailasgiri
Uttar Pradesh: Kailanpur, Kailawada,  Kailmundi, Kaili, Kailbakri, Kailsa,Kailora etc.

Kailas  -  a Munda/ Gond word
In case the origin of the word Kailas is considered to be of ancient Munda lingual origin, it would further throw light on the antiquity and origin of theosophy and legends of Lord Shiva.
The Gond tribes  of Madhya Pradesh can be considered a transitional tribe between Austro-Asiatic Munda and Dravidian tribes., since there are  (a) Munda and (b) Dravidian variants in the Gond language.

The Gonds have dormitories called Gotuls to discipline and train unmarried youngsters in the ways of life. The deity of Gotul is known as Ling Pen. The term ‘ling’ represented the ancient cult of phallus worship and the term ‘pen’ represents Spirit God or deity. It is well known that the ancient cult of phallus worship Ling Pen was assimilated into Shiva worship and even today Shiva is worshipped in the form Linga.

Lingayats are a major community in Karnataka and they worship Lord Shiva in the form symbolic Linga. Interestingly, a devout Lingayat is referred to as Sharana. The term ‘Sharana’ appears to have derived from the ‘Sarna’ cult of Munda tribes. The Munda tribes traditionally have the cult of worshiping   groves of trees which are known “Sarna”.
The tradition of preserving a part of forest as a sacred grove (bana or kāvu) and the cult of worshiping trees prevailed all over India. The vestiges of the tree worshiping cult can be seen even now in Tulunadu and in other parts of Karnataka.

Readers may kindly share their opinions without prejudice.

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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 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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