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380. Antiquity of iDli

The Idli being a steam cooked dish made of ground and fermented paste of rice and black gram can be considered as one of the healthiest ...

Thursday, April 30, 2015

346. Early Spirit forms: Guliga, Jattiga, Chaundi, Rahu and Ketu


Early human beings, while paddling through multitudes of hardships in the routine course of their primitive life styles, submitted themselves to the Spirit cults evolved out of the necessity of acquiring blessings and moral support of the unseen supernatural elements around them to tide over the difficult phases. Thus, the Spirit worship was one of the earliest forms of worship in the world.
            During the course of human evolution, intellectuals among the ancients felt that the whole universe is governed by divine forces of God. Different groups and sects of human beings, time and again, have invented several cults and faiths, built and created around the concept of omnipotent God(s). Each group during the course of evolutionary history has tried to gather more and more volunteers to follow abide the terms and conditions of their specific faiths or religions. Each group maintains that the cult they adopt and follow is only the right form of realization of God. In some cases the beliefs have unfortunately been taken to extremely intolerant and violent forms.
            However, the essential motive behind every form of worship is the same even though certain people tend to demean rival forms of worship to which they do not subscribe.          In the confused modern world, tragically, the religion has been so compartmentalized that some extreme groups with expansionist theocratic ideas may even prefer to annihilate persons of rival faiths for not subscribing to their religious tenets.
Understanding the evolution of ancient cults may provide some clues to demystify and clarify certain religious confusions prevailing among us.

Early Spirit forms in Karavali /Tulunadu
Tulunadu even in the modern settings continues to host diverse forms of worship patterns ranging from varied forms of Spirit worship to elaborate divine manifestations. This aspect points to the strength and tenacity of of belief system in our people. Tulunadu through the pages of evolutionary history witnessed not only the various pre-Vedic, Vedic and post- Vedic phases of Hinduism, Natha cult, Buddhism and Jainism but also Islam, Judaism and Christianity. The cult of Spirit worship has declined in other areas but it continues to dominate in the Tulunadu region.
Many rationalists have wondered why the cult Spirit Worship exists only in Tulunadu. However, the fact is that in earlier days of history the cult of Spirit Worship existed all over the world may be in different forms. With passage of time, due to advent of other competing cults and beliefs the cult of Spirit worship has either vanished on the way to extinction. In Tulunadu, as is well known that many subsequent forms of religions have coexisted along with primitive cults of Spirit Worship.

Spirit vs. Devil
Many authors have used the term Devil worship for the cult of Bhutāradhane. (Even Dr Gururaja Bhat, a pioneer in systematic Tulu Studies, has employed the term of ‘devil worship’).
The Spirit worship is known as “Bhuta-aradhane” among   the natives.  The Tulu word “Bhuta” has equivalent word in Sanskrit also which means (1) The Past or (2) The metaphysical remains (or memories) of the dead. Aradhane means worship. There fore the appropriate English word for the Bhuta, the metaphysical remains of the dead, would be the Spirit.

However, translating the cult of Bhutāradhane as Devil Worship is unacceptable since the term Devil has negative meanings   especially, that connotes anti-God sentiments.
This is not true of Bhutāradhane. There are no negative intentions or black magic behind the cult of Bhutāradhane or the Spirit worship among the believers.
 It is to be realized and understood clearly that those who worship Bhuta carry the   immense respect,  feelings and sense of divinity toward the Bhuta and it cannot be branded as pro-devil or anti- God. It is not logical to brand a religious system of worship of a specific culture and heritage as anti-God. Because the basic psychology and motifs behind any cult of worship is the same irrespective of the type or form of God one opts for.

Ancient forgotten Spirits
The Karavali has explicitly preserved vestigial evidences on ancient immigrants of African origin and their belief systems in the west Coast.  Vestiges of ancient African Spirits are still preserved in the Karavali. For example in Karavar in Uttara Kannada region of Karavali Karnataka certain tribes continue to worship a Spirit god known as Kepri. The Kepri incidenatally is an insect Spirit God of ancient African origin. In Mangaluru city, there is   an ancient place name Kapri-gudda (=hill of Kapri) preserved near Attavara in the old city area which suggests that vestiges of Kepri (or Kapri) worship was once present, but now forgotten, in Mangaluru also.

Spirits of Guliga family
One interesting legend retold in Bunts page narrates that Guliga, Jattiga, Chaundi and Rahu Guliga were the four siblings that survived among 24 children of a mother.This legend gives us a hint that these four ancient Spirits- Guliga, Jattiga, Chaundi and Rahu were more or less contemporaneous.

Guliga: The Spirit Guliga is worshiped in the form of a small rectangular stone kept under the shade a tree. The simplicity of the symbolic structure representative of the Spirit suggests the antiquity of the Guliga cult. It can be seen that before the advent of symbolic sculptured divine forms and wooden or metal masks, the earliest spirit forms were used to be worshiped in the form of symbolic stones. For example, the Kata, the divine Spirit worshiped by Koraga tribes was also represented in the form of a piece of stone placed under the shade of tree.
During the Guliga Spirit festival (‘Kola’) celebrations   essentially consist of the Guliga character with his face weirdly painted in red, white and black colours and wearing string costume of tender palm leaves, dancing fervently around the burning firewood. A pictorial report in Daijiworld has interesting collection of   a Guliga Kola  celebrations.

Guliga is worshiped as 'Kshetrapala' in the periphery of a Temple of Devi (Primorial Supreme Female Divine Power). He moves with the Goddess during her sojourns.  He is known by different names for his heroics at different places.  Kshetrapala at Marnami Katte is known as 'Hayguliga'. He is worshipped in the form of a stone, specifically consecrated for him. It is believed that being open to sun and rain, he absorbs more energy and becomes more powerful to ward off evil spirits and diseases affecting the 'Gadipadu' (region of authority) under his purview.  He protects his devotees by bearing the brunt of Devi's fury. During 'Kola' ceremonies, he is painted in eerie looking with black and white stripes, depicting a fierce entity. He drinks the blood of sacrificial animal (mostly chicken) and eats it raw.  So he is called as 'Ambara Marle' (Frisking and high-jumping figure around the ceremonial area) and 'Masogou bayasuna sanchari daiva' (the wandering Spirit, wishing for live sacrificial animals). Though he is invoked as a "Kaanada Kadudu, Bhimaraya Thotodu, Kaat Kalludu neleoordina Daiva" (One who has settled down in the forest of Kaana, Garden of Bhimaraya on a rough-hewn stone), there is no reference to his parentage.  Legend says that he being a Shivagana, accompanies Aadi Shakti Parvati to earth.  Overwhelmed by the serene beauty and sacredness of Parashurama Kshetra, she settles down in Tulu Nadu in the form of a 'Linga' and asks him to stay as her guard to protect her devotees.
A fickle minded or half mad person is nicknamed as 'Ambara Marle'; it may be after the frenzied movements of Guliga Bhuta impersonator usually seen in annual Kola rituals.


Jattiga/ Jitiga: Legends suggest that Jattiga was a brother of Guliga. In Kundapura and surrounding areas the ancient Spirit of Jattiga is worshiped in ways similar to Gulthe form of   a symbolic stone like that of Guliga. The Jattiga is known as Jitiga in Ankola and other parts of Uttara Kannada. The Jitiga is represented in the form of crude piece of stone placed permanently in a corner of an agricultural field. The Farmers in Ankola worship this stone on a special day in the year, expecting the blessings of Jitiga in the form of good yield of crops.

Jattiga ( 't' is pronounced jaTTiga or T as  in 'Tea') is a King's name in Shilahara dynasty of Kolhapur region (third division of Shilahara Dynasty) Maharashtra. There were two Jattigas - I and II in this dynasty.  There may be other warriors also by this name who sacrificed their lives in battles for their kings.  Such heroes were immortalised by erection of Hero Stones and later worshiped  as deified divine souls or Spirits

Chaundi: Legends suggest that Chaundi was a sister of Guliga. Chaudi could be an equivalent form of Chaundi. The names such as Chauda, Chaudi, Chavunda, Chaundi, Chavundi, Chamundi etc appears to be old personal name forms among the ancient tribes in Southern India. Researcher Shamba Joshi has tried to trace the term Chaudi to the invention of threads and cloths among early civilization. It can be seen that the terms Chaudi>Chauri refers to hairs of human or other origin. Chavunda Raya was the name of a 10th century Jain minister who arranged for the sculpting and erection of monolithic Gomata in Sravana Belagola.
Ancient personal names like Chauda (>Chawdaiah) still prevail in Mysore area especially among the people of tribal origin. Thus it seems that ancient Spirit cult of Chaundi worship was transformed under the spell of Vedic influence into Chamundi (>Chamundeshwari) cult in Mysore province under Odeyar dynasty.

Rāhu Guliga: Even though Rāhu Guliga has been named as one of the brothers of Guliga, the additional tag of Guliga behind Rahu leads us to conjecture that the cult of Rahu was added to the Guliga group subsequently. Elsewhere in India, the tribal cult of Rāhu had an independent identity that was absorbed into the list of names of celestial bodies in the ancient science of astrology in India. The ancient name Rahu has remained in modern names of Rahul. The Tulu equivalent form of Rāhu was “Rāvu” which has been considered as an evil spell.

Ketu: Ketu was another ancient Spirit which was later absorbed into the list of names of astronomical entities in India. Apparently, Ketu is not a conventional member of Guliga family in Tulunadu. However in other parts of India Rāhu and Ketu are treated together especially in astrology.
The vestiges of ancient Ketu cult are still prevailing in old Mysore area where place names like Keta Mārana halli (>Kyātmarana halli), Keta-samudra (>Kyātasandra) etc have remained in modern days.
Vestiges of ancient spirit cults in astrology
Ketu and Rāhu have been a part of several legends in ancient India.
According to legends, Lord Vishnu severed the head of an Asura named Svarabhānu. After the head of Svarbhānu, an Asura, was cut off by God Vishnu, his head and body were joined together with a snake. Thus 'Ketu', represented a body without a head and ‘Rāhu, represented a head without a body.
According to other legends in Hindu mythology, Ketu belongs to Jaimini Gotra, whereas Rāhu is from Paiteenasa gotra and suggesting that these two are separate entities and not two parts of a common body.
Ketu is generally referred to as a "shadow" planet. It is believed to have a tremendous impact on human lives and also the whole creation. In some special circumstances it helps someone achieve the zenith of fame. Ketu is often depicted with a gem or star on his head signifying a mystery light.
Astronomically, Ketu and Rāhu denote the points of intersection of the paths of the Sun and the Moon as they move on the celestial sphere. Therefore, Rahu and Ketu are respectively called the north and the south lunar nodes. The fact that eclipses occur when the Sun and the Moon are at one of these points gives rise to the understanding of swallowing of the Sun and the Moon by the snake (Rāhu).
In ancient Tamil astrological scripts, Ketu was considered as incarnation of Indra. During a war with Asuras, Indra was defeated and took a passive form and a subtle state as Ketu. Indra spent this time realizing his past mistakes, and failures and that lead to spirituality towards Lord Shiva.
In Hindu astrology Ketu represents karmic collections both good and bad, spirituality and supernatural influences. Ketu is associated with the Meena Avatar (Matsya/Fish Incarnation) of Vishnu. Ketu signifies the spiritual process of the refinement of materialization to spirit and is considered both malefic and benefic, as it causes sorrow and loss, and yet at the same time turns the individual to God. In other words, it causes material loss in order to force a more spiritual outlook in the person. Ketu is a karaka or indicator of intelligence, wisdom, non-attachment, fantasy, penetrating insight, derangement, and psychic abilities. Ketu is believed to bring prosperity to the devotee's family, removes the effects of snakebite and illness arising out of poisons. He grants good health, wealth and cattle to his devotees. Ketu is the lord of three nakshatras or lunar mansions: Ashvini, Magha and Mula.
Ketu is considered responsible for higher metaphysical realization,   the endocrine system and slender physique etc. The people who come under the influence of Ketu are said to achieve great  spiritual heights. According to a legend, Vipracitti begot one hundred and one sons with his wife Siḿhikā, of whom the eldest is Rāhu and the other  one hundred are the Ketus.

Gulika-kāl and Rāhu kāl
The ancient cult of Guliga (Gulika) is not exclusive to Tulunadu as misconceived by some people. In Indian astronomy, the 'Gulika-kaal' (or simply 'Gulik') is a period of approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes duration that repeats every day of the week. This time duration is ruled by 'Shani' (Saturn). This period is considered to be inauspicious to start any important work. However, 'Gulik Kāla' is considered a good period to initiate new projects.  This aspect as well as the black color pattern preferred by Guliga Spirit impersonators lead to us to suggest that the Guliga was later equated to the cult of Shani (Saturn) in parts of India.

- with additional inputs from Vishwanath


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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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