Wednesday, July 29, 2015

348. ‘Rūmi’ in Tulu – A Foreign Word!

 Words possess acquired meanings in the beginning. They may get derived meanings during their evolutionary period.  New words are coined continuously from experiences in physical or mental planes, relating to objects, physical features, ideas and happenings around or elsewhere.  Certain words, used for describing persons or things, are mostly from historical events around a person or places. We know words, like chupi-Rustom (fighting his son Sohrab, whom he never met, without disclosing his identity, Koose (a male proper name in Tulu Nadu, styled after the brave warrior class Koshars of Tulu Nadu, who were eulogized in Tamil Sangam literature and their name is kept alive in place names like Kosraal.  We have, among many, some jocular and teasing phrases, like –
·        Govodu farengi-pelakayi (ananas) ijji panninalka (To say, there is no pine-apple in Goa.  Note: It is introduced by Portuguese in India).
·        Japanda bombu burudun (A bomb is dropped by Japan): It is a school-days teaser on seeing a hole in a boy’s pant or shirt.
Note some collective nouns, now not heard but documented in Tulu Dictionaries, for emigrants from other regions:
·        Panyamdarlu: Konkani or Marathi speaking Goans, probably migrating from Panaji area.
·        Kudumba & Kudumbetti: Christian male and female, probably known as such for their agricultural background.
·        Porbulu:  Christianized “Prabhu” community that hailed from Goa. Still known in Tulu Nadu as such, covering all Catholic Christian migrants.
Rumi or Rūmi
Here is a word ‘Rūmi/Roomi (also pronounced Rumi with short vowel), which is still extant.  Do you ever heard during your up-bringing days in Tulu Nadu, the following phrases:
·        Aaye/Imbe (He is) malla/nelya (great) Rūmi (pronounced as ‘roomy’). In conversations, elders apply this description to naughty and clever boys in derogatory sense.
·        Akulu (They are) oriyardu ori (one against the other or mutually) rūmi (trying to excel in cunning like the spirit of a rūmi). Note the comparison of competitive spirit to gain upper-hand at any cost.
In nutshell, it means: a great shrewd, brave, daring, clever, sharp or cunning person.  Though the word ‘rūmi’ is still extant, it is rarely heard. It finds its due place in Tulu Lexicon (TL page-2741) because of its relevance. TL gives its meaning as “a capable person, known for heroism, daring nature, cunning, etc.”  There is also a drilling/boring tool called ‘rumi’ used by carpenters, electricians, etc.
What is the story behind ‘rūmi’? Is it purely a Tulu word or imported? Our inquisitiveness leads us to Mediterranean region. Let us explore.
Historicity of Rum and Rūmi
It is a geographical term and description of people from that region.  ‘Rum’ stands for Romanand it is a place in Mediterranean region.It had been a part of Roman Empire with predominant Greek population then. It fell into the hands of Turks.  Still it continued to be called a part of Roman Empire by virtue of its once being a part of Roman Empire.
Rumi means a person born or associated with Anatolia, geographical area known as Rum.  Anatolian Peninsula belonged to Byzantine or Eastern Roman Empire, which was later on conquered first by Seljukian Kingdom and afterwards by Muslims, namely Turkish Muslim rulers.  Rumi is an Arabic term, literally meaning ‘Roman’.Therefore, Turks of Asia were also known as ‘Rūmi’ in India but according to Garcia de Orta and Jarric, the  expression ‘Rūmi’ applies to Turks of Ottoman Empire only and not to other Turkish Race in Asia. Therefore it refers to subjects of the Byzantine Empire or simply to people living in or things associated with Anatolia. ( Hobson-Jobson Dictionary, pp. 767 to 769).
Mark some of the meanings of 'rum (ruhm)' in English Dictionaries (Source:

  1. Arabic name of Rome, once used to designate the Byzantine Empire.  'Online Etymology Dictionary' says: It is "a very common 16th c. cant word; by c.1774, it also had come to mean 'odd, strange, bad, spurious, perhaps because it had been so often used approvingly by rogues in reference  to one another.  This was the main sense after c. 1800."
  2. Intoxicating liquor distilled from molasses or some other fermented sugar products.
  3. Peculiar, odd, strange or queer.
  4. Problematic or difficult.
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman or Turkish Empire, was founded in 1299 AD by Orghuz Turks under Osman I in Northern Anatolia. ‘Ottoman’ is Anglicised name after the Emperor Osman I. Osman I came with 400 horsemen to help the Seljuks of Rum against the Byzantines.  After the demise of Seljuk Sultanate of Rum in 14th C, Anatolia was divided into independent Turkish states, as Ghazi Emirates.  One of the emirates was led by Osman I (1258-1326) from whom the ‘Ottoman’ was derived.
With further conquests of Murad I in Balkans between 1362 & 1389, the Ottoman Sultanate transformed into a trans-continental empire and claimed to ‘caliphate’.  The Ottomans overthrew Byzantine Empire with the conquest of Constantinople (present day Istanbul) by Mehmed, the Conqueror.  During the 16th & 17th C, Ottoman Empire was powerful multinational and multilingual Empire under reign of Suleiman, the Magnificent, controlling much of Southeast Europe, Western Asia, the Caucasus, North Africa and Horn of Africa.
In 15th and 16th Centuries, the Ottoman Empire entered into a period of expansion.  It prospered due to its control of major trade routes between Europe and Asia. 
It created naval presence on the Red Sea.  After expansion, a competition started between Portuguese Empire and Ottoman Empire.  This expansion resulted in Ottoman rule in Somalia and Horn of Africa, thereby increasing its influence in Indian Ocean to compete with Portuguese.
By the end of Suleiman reign (1566C), the Empire’s population increased to 15,000,000, extending over three Continents.  It became a dominant naval force, controlling much of Mediterranean Sea.  The success of its political and military establishment has been compared to the Roman by Italian scholar (Francesco Sansovino) and a French philosopher (Jean Bodin).
With the Constantinople as its capital and the control of lands around Mediterranean basin, the Ottoman Empire was at the centre of interactions between Western and Eastern worlds for six centuries.  Following the long periods of setbacks against European powers, the Ottoman Empire gradually declined during 19th C and allied with Germany in early 20thC, with imperial ambition of recovering lost territories but it collapsed after World War I and was dissolved by Allied Powers as State of Turkey (OttomanAnatolian heartland) and modern Balkan & Middle Eastern States.
Maritime Trade
Trade relation with Tulu Nadu Ports, a part of Western India coastal stretch, is an established fact, right from pre-Christian era with Romans and Arabs from Mediterranean region. ‘Overland route’ signifies the Mediterranean route to India, which in former days included the land journey from Antioch or thereabouts and thereafter to Ormuz, a famous maritime city in the Persian Gulf.   
Sufi Mystic of Rūmi
It would not be out of place to make a passing remark about Jalal al-Din Muhammad Rumi, who is popularly known world-over as ‘Rumi’.  He was born on September 30, 1207 AD at Vakhsh/Bakhsh (a part of Greater Persia – now Afghanistan and present day Tajikistan) and died on December 17, 1273 AD at Konya in Sultanate of Rum, Anatolia now Turkey. He is a famous 13th Century Persian Poet, jurist, Islamic scholar, theologian and Sufi mystic.  Rumi’s influence transcends national borders and ethnic divisions, viz. Iranians, Tajiks, Greeks, Pashtuns, Indians, other Central Asian Muslims and Muslims of South Asia.  He mostly wrote in Persian but also in Turkish, Arabic and Greek.  He is a well-read Sufi poet in USA by virtue of his secular love of mankind.
Mystery around Rūm
‘Rūm’ is also mentioned in religious books.  Which Nation does Rūm in Ahadith of the Last Days refer to?  The questioner Musa Cerantonio says that the identity of Rūmis important to know as there are different opinions.  He himself replies that it is Istanbul.
Istanbul (Constantinople of Rūm) was a prized territory for sea trade and hence was a strife-borne area right from pre-medieval period.  In our history too, we have instances of continuous battles for capturing sea and river ports by interior kingdoms, viz. Vijayanagara, Bahamani, Ikkeri Nayaks, Mysore Sultans, etc.
Tough competitions from European traders, especially of Portuguese, Arab influence on marine trade dwindled during colonial era.  But their grittiness and skill linger in our memory by lingual influence by words, like ‘rūmi’.
In overall analysis, it seems that the word Rūmi was introduced by the Arab traders in Tulunadu during medieval time.

-Hosabettu Vishwanath, Pune

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 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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