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363. Deciphering Tulu-nadu place names

The readers would observe that many of the Tulu Place names may not convey, on the face of it, any specific meaning or apparent meanings...

Saturday, December 24, 2016

374. Banga and Bangera Bari

The Bangera ‘bari ‘( ‘gotra’) is one of the common lineage systems prevalent in Tulunadu  and found in most of the Tulu communities. We shall make an attempt to decipher the origin etymology and distribution of this particular lineage.
 It has been summarized in the older posts in this blog that most of the prevailing ‘ bari’ groups had origin as tribal groups in the antiquity which in the due course merged into different communities and castes formed based on lines of profession adopted by the people. In other words the “bari” system is older in the historical timeline than the caste and community system in our society as we find specific baris’ distributed among different castes.
We can find Bangera lineage in Mogaveera, Billava Bunt and communities. Even Koraga, Mundala and other communities also have Bangera lineage.

Banga and Bangera
The word “Banga” in the context of Tulunadu refers to one of the Jain dynasties that ruled the land. Places like Bangavadi, Bangra Kulur, Bangra Manjeshwar, Bangera-padavu  have remained testimony for the Banga rulers. While the Jain term “Banga” has remained as such, among the ancient tribes the Banga persons were referred to respectably as “Bangera”. The Banger(+a) in Tulu is a plural and honorific form used for respected persons. Thus it can be inferred that the “Banga” and “Bangera” were originally the same tribes in the antiquity.

Banga:  Benga+al
The term “Banga” in the epics, legends and historical documents refers commonly to the “Bengal” region of India. The Bengal is the modification introduced by the British rulers to the ancient word Banga. The spatial suffix –al commonly found in place names in Tulunadu, as well as in rest of India, represents a habitation (village) located on the bank of a river.
Origin of the term “Banga” is not clear among the Indian historians. Some consider it as indicative of the region whereas others consider it to refer to a specific ancient tribe. It has been said that the Banga tribes were mentioned in several ancient texts. Thus, it can be inferred that the term Banga refers both to the region and a specific tribe from that region. 

Banga places in Thailand
It is interesting to note that the Bang place names can be found extensively in Thailand and surrounding South–east Asian countries. The capital of Thailand is Bangkok. According to linguists “bang” in Thai language is a village located on the bank of a stream or river.  (The “kok” is a olive like tree). Some of the bang place names in Thailand .
Bang (Thai) = Village located near a stream   or river;  [Ala= village on river bank]. 
The origin of the term Banga is = ban (=water)+ ga (=village).
 Dispersion of Banga tribes as evident from the distribution of ancient Bang- place names (TR.374.)
Some of the Bang villages in Thailand : Bangkok, Bangna, Bangbo, Bangsare, Bang Rachan,  Bangsak,  Bangsak, Bangtao, Bang Bao,  BangPat, ,Bang Chan etc.
Thailand has a history influenced by India as reflected by evidences of Buddhist and Hindu religious elements that can be seen in their routine life. Similarly ancient Indian archeo-history has evidences of immigration of Austro-Asiatic (inclusive of South East Asians) into India in the past.
Thus it can be visualized that “bang” people migrated to India as a tribe in archeo-history and settled in regions like Bangal. (ie. the original form of Bengal) . We can apply the Thai meaning for ‘bang’ and ‘banga’ for the immigrant tribes and as well as the region where they settled in larger numbers.
It is quite interesting that the word “Bangal” consists of two words ‘banga’ + ’al ‘ having similar meaning but originated from different sources. It is possible that (a) the regional term Banga came into being because of the Banga tribes or (b) the tribes living in the Banga region would have later been known as Banga tribes.
In other words, the   “Bangal” represents the riverside region inhabited by ‘banga’ tribes.

Banga: earthen pot

Villages named Banga, Banga-an etc can be found in Philippines also. However, in Philippines the term “banga” also means earthen or clay pot. In a sense, the “banga“(=village) and the “banga”(=pot) are connected, since the clay required for  making pots is normally available in river side areas.
In Philippines a native dance form involving a series of earthen pots serially placed on the head is also known as “banga” dance.

Banga -place names in India
The census of India data for 2011 reveals that there are more than 717 villages (excluding hamlets) in India carrying the signature tag of Banga tribes. These are distributed in Uttar Pradesh (100), Assam (95), Bihar (92), Orissa (71), West Bengal (58), Madhya Pradesh (44), Jharkhand (41), Uttara Khand (36), Chattisgarh (31), Andhra Pradesh (30), Meghalaya (23), Maharashtra (19), Punjab (19), Rajasthan (19), Himachal Pradesh (12), Karnataka (11), Arunachal Pradesh (4), Tripura (3), Haryana (3), Tamilnadu (2), Gujarat(2), J&K (1), Andaman (1), Kerala (1), Sikkim(1), Lakshadweep (1) in the decreasing order of abundance given in brackets. (Note that in official village names the names of hamlets and settlements are not included.)

Some of the common banga village names in India are Banga, Bangi, Bangal, Bangla, Bangaon, Bangram, Bangoli, Bangori, Bangte, Banggo, Bangkong, Bangar, Bangera, Bangra, Bangapalli, angarpalle, Bangalbari, Bangawadi, Bangar wadi, Bangari-gada, Bangaru chelka, Bangaruvalasa, Bangaliguda, Bangapal, Banglera, Bangran, Bangranj, Bangergund, Bangre, Bangra, Bangoda, Bangaljhor etc.


 The etymology of 'Bangra' as in place names Bangra Kulur and Bangra Manjeshwar is  Bang+ra , (or Banga+ra), where suffix -ra represents English 'of' and thus bangra means area related to the Banga people.

The conventional explanation attached to the city of Bengaluru is village of boiled beans/pulse or “benda kāluru” to be specific. It is rather odd that a name like ‘benda-kāluru’ should become Bengaluru with passage of time.
How about finding an alternate explanation for this place name naturally as “Bang+al+ur”?
If you accept the explanation of   bang+al+uru for Bengaluru, then   it suggests that (a) the Banga tribes had settled in the place known now as Bengaluru and (b) the original location of Bengaluru was on the bank of a river.
The western side of Bengaluru city represents a linear river valley (presently dried up) trending along more or less N-S direction. Even the existence of numerous lakes in Bengaluru  (now unfortunately encroached upon by the greedy land mafia) also indicate remnants of former stream system. Thus the geographic and geological data suggests that Bengaluru was on the bank of streams in the antiquity.

Banga: Panga
During early historical days many languages lacked differentiation between the consonants p and b. Even today, Tamil uses a common consonant for p and b. Thus “banga” was pronounced as “panga” in several areas during early history. Thus,  for example, we have “Pangala” a riverside village near Udupi instead of  Bangala. Similarly there are a large number of ethnonyms of ancient villages and hamlets having a prefix of ‘panga’ instead of ‘banga’.

Further it is interesting to note that place names like “Pangala” (pan+ga+ala) [similar to the word ‘Bangala’] contain repetition of word units with same meaning, since both “panga “ (or “banga”) and “ala” mean  village/habitation beside water. An ancient case of pleonasm or tautology in the  formation of words.

Further note that similar to pāni (=water), the word “pani” (ie with short a) means a drop of water,  in Tulu, Kannada and other sister languages. Also compare the Kannada word ”ibbani” (= dew drops) derived from ir+pani or two drops.

Panga- Pangal place names
There are some 310 villages having the prefix of “Panga” in India. These are distributed in  Maharastra (107),  Jharkhand (85), Orissa (44), Madhya Pradesh (24), Arunachal Pradesh (17),  Andhra Pradesh (14), Chattisgarh (12), Uttara Khand (11), Manipur (9), Assam (9), Jammu & Kashmir( 8), Tamilnadu (7), Himachal Pradesh (7), Uttar Pradesh (6), Nagaland (5), Mizoram (4), Karnataka (4), Gujarat(2), Kerala (2), Bihar (2), Punjab (2), West Bengal (2), Haryana (1), Rajasthan (1), Meghalaya(1), Sikkim (1) in the decreasing order of abundance.
Some of the Panga village names are: Panga, Pangi, Pangala, Pangola, Pangeri,  Pangarga, Pangna, Pangaon, Pangri, Pangara, Pangam, Pangarbari, Pangalthur, Pangali, Pangudi,  Pangode,  Pangar, Pangur,Pangra, Panglar, Pangdo, Pangna,  etc.

Differences in the levels of abundance of distribution of Banga vs. Panga place names in various regions represented by different states of India, possibly suggests the influence of different languages and chronological episode  in the background.

Banga: Vanga
Refinement of the Prakrit group of languages (Sanskritization ) resulted in changes in place names.  Thus under this scheme Banga became Vanga. For example, our epics describe Bengal as “Vanga” desha.

Vanga -place names
There  are some 58 official Vanga villages in India, distributed in Andhra Pradesh (23), Gujarat  (9),  Maharashtra (8), Tamilnadu (7), Karnataka (4), Uttar Pradesh (4),  Mizoram (2) and Manipur (1).

Tracing the Bangera bari from Banga tribes
In conclusion, the name of Bangera bari (lineage) has been derived from the Banga tribes. In Jains of Tulunadu the name ‘Banga’ has remained as a name of the minor dynasty as such, whereas in the case of other Tulu tribes the Banga were designated respectfully by other fellow tribes as seen by the usage the plural form of Bangera. The term Bangera (literally means the Bangas’) is the plural form of Banga. 

There is a suggestion that the etymology of  Bangera   could be ban + kera >Bangera. This leads to the interpretation of Bangera as one who winnows in water ie. Boatman or fisherman, fishing being one of the basic profession next to hunting of early humans.  However, I prefer the banga+er,  ie  the Bangas as a tribe which is reflected in Banga/Vanga region (Bengal apart from numerous villages of Banga and their modified variants Panga and Vanga) in India as well as the existence of Banga as a dynasty of Jains.

Thus we can trace the historical migration of the Banga (tribes of Bangera bari ) from the immigrants of South East Asia (probably Thailand region)   through Bengal region to Tulunadu. There are also other evidences for migration of tribes from Banga/Bengal to Tulunadu in place names. For example, check the place names in Tulunadu like "Shibaroor" and "Shibrikere", where "Shiba" is used in typical Bengali style instead of "Shiva".

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

373. On the trail of morpheme ‘Nu/ Noo’

“Words are a pretext. It is the inner bond that draws one person to another, not words”. These are words of Sufi mystic Jal-al-Uddin Rumi of Istanbul (erstwhile Anatolia ) [Post-348], the famous philosopher.
Words are merely a symbol or shorthand to understand things – natural and mental.  Some are onomotopic, associated with objects or actions to be named by natural sounds.  Each tribal group develops its own language, assigning meanings to such words.  Hence human languages are many. Hidden meaning of one tongue is notunderstood by another tongue, lest they should live in close proximity for a long time.
It is assumed that whole Earth had one language, according to Genesis. Coded meanings of words and names can be decoded but it cannot be substantiated with original meanings attached to such ancient words (The Theories of Language Origin- Edo Nyland).
It is now firmly thought by linguists that there was one proto language, which was originated from Africa,and to be more specific from Saharan Nile Valley and Ethiopia.
“…. all existing human speech is one in the essential characteristics which we have thus far noted or shall hereafter have to consider, even as humanity is one in its distinction from lower animals – the differences are in non-essentials”. [Encyclopedia Britannica]

It spread toMediterraneanregion and from thence to other Eurasian countries, thanks to migrations on account of many sudden and wide-spread disasters, misfortunes, mishaps or failures. Exodus of mankind is a continuing phenomenon from pre-historic days to the present for various reasons. Boat people of yore (Eg. Manu and Noah’s stories during Great Deluge and also similar stories in Inca, Mayan and other civilizations) and the Boat people of recent history are striking examples of migration (Eg. Hapless refugees of war-torn areas of Mediterranean region or of stateless people elsewhere).

A genetic relationship is observed among diverse family of world languages. As a language branches-out, base meanings of words in the original (proto) language remains under-current in the branched-out language but difference widens eventually along with the evolutionary trend. Thus, each speech-group becomes stranger to one another as the time passes. This stranger-ship is assigned,in scriptures, to esoteric design of the God.  These scriptures are in classic and refined languages (Eg. Sanskrit, Pali, Latin, etc.), developed  from various preexisting contiguous languages.

Morpheme Nu/Noo in Tulu
There are many common heritage words, invariably found in world languages.  We have pointed out some of them in our earlier Posts.  We have explained that ‘Nu/Noo’ denotes a place around, above or near water body in our recent Post-362(29.08.2016) on Morphemes in Tulu Place names. 
Further ‘Na or Ni’ refers to ‘water’ as evidenced in Naravi, Narve, Nārayana, Naga (ship), Nāga (serpent, denizen of water capable of moving in water swiftly), Nanja, etc. In Tulu, ‘Nanja’ means ‘a wet soil, fit for cultivation’.
The Na also has a connection, nay relation, with ancient India vis-à-vis with European countries.
What is then the inner bond that word unit ‘Nu/Noo’ that prevails in Euro-Asian languages?

Danu, an aquatic Goddess
It is said that the Europeans originated from Vedic woman called Danu.   It is also said that she is mother of Vritra, a Danava. Vritra was killed by his brother Indra, a Sudanava.    Vritra is a serpent, who is capable of taking any form. 
Danu means:  Da (to flow, flowing) + Nu (water) = River. ‘Da’ (= Dra)also means ‘water’ in most of the old dialects (as in words: Bandar, Dharavi, Dadar, Dariya, Bhayandar, etc).

In Rigveda, ‘Danu’ is the mother of Danavas, both Su-danavas and Ku-danavas.  She is the daughter of Daksha Brahma and the wife of Sage Kashyapa.  According to legends, Daksha marries off his thirteen daughters (out of 62) to Rishi   Kashyapa. From Aditi, Kashyapa begot Indra, Lord of Heaven and other Devas, who are collectively called ‘Suras’. Daityas, Danavas and Nagas, born to Diti Danu and Kadru, are collectively called as Asuras. Birds Aruna and Garuda are born to Vinata. Mythical species, such as Yakshas, Gandharvas, Kinnars, Kimpurushas, are born from other wives. (Note: According to legends Moon, the Lord of Night, married 27 daughters of Daksha, who are known by 27 star names of a month).
In Balinese scripture, she is a Hindu Goddess.
Irish Goddess ‘Dānu’, a cognate of Danu of Indo-European legends, is an aquatic Goddess.  The Goddess, mother of mystic warriors linked to Danu, is known as Ana, Anu or Annan in Wales.  In Avestian language, it denotes ‘river’.
Acharya David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva Shastri) of American Institute of Vedic Studies, tells: “In fact, the term Danu or Danava (Plural of Danu) appears to form the substratum of Indo-European identity at the base of the Hellenic, Illyro-Venetic, Italo-Celtic, Germanic and Balto-Slavic elements.  The Northern Greeks were also called Danuni.  Therefore, the European Aryans could probably all be called Dānavas”.
Charles Squire says in his book “Celtic Myth & Legend” (page 31): “Danu herself probably represented the Earth and its fruitfulness. Other Gods are her children.  She is comparable to Greek Demeter.  She is source of essentials, like water, milk and corn”.
So, Danu is considered to stand for fertility, a Progenitor – a mother.  

Celtic Origin of Ireland
The cult of Danu reached Ireland with the Celtic people during Iron Age. The Celtic is the first language, having a bearing on Indo-European languages.  The Inhabitants are known as ‘Tuatha De Danann’, which means ‘People of the Goddess Danu’.
In Celtic religion, the Anu or Danu is Earth Mother goddess or the female principle, who was honoured under many names from Eastern Europe to Ireland.  She is also considered as the Goddess of Death.
In Celtic Society, priestly caste is known as ‘Druids’ (Dru+vid = one who is immersed in knowledge).

Matrilineal System
It is not a wonder why matriarchal custom prevailed in Mediterranean region and other Aquatic Mother concept practicing regions. The system thrived in Sindhu civilization and western coasts, especially in Tulu Nadu and other Eastern and Southern States.

Rivers named after Danu
As we know, water is the primeval matter, a flowing one.  From this meaning of ‘flowing one’, we can compare it to other rivers of the world:
Nepal: Danu, Bangla Desh: Dhanu, Wales: Don, Germany, etc: Danube. Russia & Ukraine: Dnieper, which finally debauches into Black Sea.
Eastern Europe: Dniester, passing first through Ukraine, then Moldova and finally heading to Black Sea., The name is based on Proto-Indo-European root ‘dnh’, meaning to run, to flow.
Danube is the longest river originating in Germany and passing through ten countries in Central and Eastern Europe – first through Ukraine, then Moldova and finally, heading to Black Sea. So, water mode of transport is very famous in these countries. It has been a major route for trade and tourismfrom Middle Ages.

Worship as Holy water
Our interpretation is confirmed by this study that ‘Nu/Noo’ has the root meaning of ‘water’ (i.e. a life force, a sustainer). Water is the medium of purification in most of the world cultures, especially in India, irrespective of primitive, tribal or civilized society.  In India, presence of seven major rivers is invokedby Sacred Mantra as under:
“Om Gange cha Jamune, chaiva Godavari, Saraswati, Narmada, Sindhu, Kaveri Jale’asmin sannidihim kuru”
(Let the Deities of Seven Rivers be present in the water inside Kalasha)
Celestial water is called Nnu or Nun (Goddess of water) in Egypt, comparable to Neera, Niharika (= Akashaganga) in Indian context. Also, the Egyptian meaning of ‘Nun’ is ‘flood’.  In adoration of Nile, it is the Deity of Heavenly water that is invoked as mythical source of life and not simply as the ‘flowing of water’.

We have traced an etymological connection. There must be some ethnical similarity owing to migrations out and in since ages.  Racial differences must have occurred on account of distance and ecological conditions.  Consider the vanishing of Nile Valley civilizations, Sumerian civilizations, Sindhu Valley civilizations and the so-called Dravidian and Aryan Divide, standing distinct compared to Western culture. In spite of this, certain ancient terminologies and customs are understood universally. This speaks volume of Universal oneness.

* * * *
Terms and their meanings
Mantra =Sacred Seed Syllables or Words, to be uttered to draw energy by repetition.  (There are different Mantras for different Gods)
Kalasha =Small Pot/vessel to keep water during Pooja, i.e. Worship of Gods.Earlier it was made of mud and later on,preferably Copper, as it can destroy virus and bacteria in water, which are detrimental to health.Immediately on getting up, drinkingof cold water, stored at bed-time in a copper mug/cup, is recommended by Ayurveda.
Wives of Kashyapa: Aditi, Diti, Danu, Arishta, Surasa, Surabhi, Vinata, Tamra, Krodhavsha, Ira, Kadru, Vishwa, and Muni.
Suggested Reading:
·         Vedic  Origins of the Europeans:  The Children of Danu, David Frawley  (Pandit  Vamadeva Shastri)
·         The Sacred Isle – Belief & Religion in Pre-Christian Ireland, Daithi O’ Hogain (1999).
·         Gerald Massy:  (1) The Ark, the Deluge, & the World’s Great Year, (2) Ancient Egypt, Light of the World,  2nd Vol  set

-  Hosabettu   Vishwanath, Pune

Saturday, December 10, 2016

372. The Pickle in Tulu: UppaD

Making pickles has been considered as one of the oldest methods of preservation of essential foods in the world designed especially for seasons of scarcity. Pickles of different types are quite popular all over the world since ancient days.  Archeologists have suggested that the ancient Mesopotamians pickled as early as 2400 BC. It has been considered that around the year 2030 BC, cucumbers were brought from India and were pickled in the Tigris Valley. The event fostered   a tradition and technique of pickling in Mid-East which gradually spread to Europe and eventually to the West.
There are reports that United States of America alone consumes some 5.2 million pounds (about 235 Tonnes) of pickle per year. Pickles of cucumber are quite popular now in Europe and the West. Marinated pickles of gherkin (a variety of dwarf cucumber) are popular in the list of exports from India.
However in India pickles of raw Mango are most popular followed by lemon, chilly and many other varieties of vegetables and greens. Pickled raw mango with chilly-mustard-spice paste is quite popular in India. The pickle is known as “Achar” in Hindi areas. We find similar and related word “Achat” in South East Asian countries. In India currently, spicy pickles made of chilly, spices, mustard and oil are quite popular. In Karnataka the pickle is known as Uppinakāyi and in coastal Tulu areas it is known as Uppad (‘d’ pronounced as in dog). Other varieties like Avakai in Andhra Pradesh, Tokku in Tamilnadu,
Incidentally, the English word “pickle” was derived from the Dutch word ‘pekel ‘ or northern German “pókel,” meaning salt (or brine). The salt or the brine (salt solution) is an important component   in the pickling process. Hence, the pickling or the process of preserving perishable items (vegetables, fish etc) appear to have been invented in coastal areas that are proximity with sea which contains rich repository of  the brine solution. Further popularity of pickles also led to the use of vinegar (Acetic acid) and other sour solutions for the preservation instead of plain brine (Sodium chloride) solution.
Origin   and evolution of  UppaD
It can be visualized that in the ancient days in Tulunadu, the pickles were originally made in a solution of sea water (brine) and as the time progressed the common salt dissolved in water was used as a medium of pickling. It was and is known as UppaD ( D pronounced as in English word dog).
In ancient India, only the pepper was a common ingredient to make dishes ‘hot’ (“khara” as we call in native languages) in taste.  (It is unfortunate that the English language does not have an equivalent word exactly to convey the “khara” taste !) It is an interesting to note that the green and red chillies which are quite ubiquitous in our Indian dishes were introduced and imported into India only after 15th Century CE after the advent of Portuguese. Thus the “khara” version of Uppad which we are familiar now is among us only since last five centuries.
Ancient versions of Uppad
 The Tulu language has preserved specific ancient words for older version of pickles without chilly. The traditional words existing in rural Tulunadu such as “UppaD-(p)acchir” and “NeeruppaD” clearly identifies the ancient varieties of pickles in Tulunadu and other regions in the country.
Uppad-achhir (normally marinated pickle of jack fruit avrils/lobes) and Neer-uppad (watery pickle) of raw mango and a  variety of vegetables were quite popular in rural areas. The Jack fruit   (Artocarpus heterophyllus Lam.) considered to be the worlds’ largest edible compound fruit, was a favorite ancient fruit in India.
The “Uppadacchir” is a pickle of unripe or moderately ripe jack fruits in brine solution (normally without the addition of   chilly and spices). The suffix “acchir” in this usage   is the short form of   “pacchir” which stands for the avrils (individual fruity lobes) inside the of jack fruit.
Etymology of Tulu Uppad
In Tulu language “Uppađ” (đ as in English word ‘dog’) is the equivalent world for the pickle. It would be interesting to explore the possible origin of the word Uppad especially for the sake of linguistic entertainment. The term Uppad can be analysed in two ways: (1) Uppu + ad (2) Uppu + pad.
In the first case ‘ad’ is a known morpheme of Dravidian heritage, which essentially means to cook or a dish. In the second case ‘pad’ is clearly a word of South East Asian origin or usage which again means a kind of dish. Since in Southern India (including coastal Karnataka) there are tangible evidences for imprints of ancient influence of both Dravidian and Austro-Asiatic cultures it is difficult to conclude at the outset whether it was Upp-ad or Upp-pad.
Morphemes ad and pād
The word   upp+ad   signifies a dish (‘ađ’) made of salt (‘uppu’). The Dravidian morpheme “ad” means to cook, as we find   ”adpini” (Tulu) for to cook ; adpil for kitchen; “ad-til” ( atil)  for cooking; adya or adde for cooked dish.  Similarly,  in Kannada “aduge” or “adige” for cookery etc. On the basis of sheer preponderance of words containing ad as a component, we can conclude that the etymology of Uppad is : Upp(u)+ad.
However there is another possible take in this word: Upp+pad. The ‘d’ again means a dish in South East Asian languages.  For example Pad Thai is a popular dish of Thailand which is a sort of stir fried rice with eggs shrimp etc. Similarly, “Nasi padang” is a rice dish of Western Sumatra, wherein the native word   “nasi “means the rice and “padang” a dish.
In Tulu Nighantu (Tulu Lexicon) we can find at least five shades of meaning for the word d. Such as (1)to keep or put (2) to sing or song (3) a state or condition (4) equality or impartiality and (5) the time interval between the arrival of two successive  waves in the beach.
Tulu being an ancient language it has absorbed words from different tribal languages during the course of its evolution. As a result of this absorption process phonetically similar sounding words but with different meanings, originally from different languages have survived and remained in Tulu.
Incidentally, there is a Tulu word known as da which means an oil bearing vessel. This particular usage apparently has some relation to the Thai word pad which means a stir fried dish. The process of stir frying basically needs oil.
 There is special word possibly connected with this discussion. The Padya refers to the first day of the lunar fortnight or the day following   a new moon or a full moon day. However, the etymology or origin of this particular word is not clear.
The day of Padya is normally associated with celebration or festivity as can be seen in the idiom padya parba. (For example: Bali-padya). Thus we can assume that pādya traditionally has been a designated day for preparing special dishes on account of recurring festivities.


Sunday, November 20, 2016

371. The Manser Community

The Manser community is one of the lesser understood, unfortunately   downtrodden set of ancient people. Nevertheless, the studies on the aspects of socio-cultural evolution of the community are significant in understanding the overall pattern of human evolution and heritage in the coastal Karnataka and the Tulunadu. 
The members of the Mansa community are distributed mainly in the coastal Karnataka especially in the districts of Dakshina Kannada, Udupi, and Kasargodu (Kerala). There may be distribution of members in Hassan, Kodagu and Chikamgaluru districts and elsewhere also. Because of the downtrodden stigma attached, now they prefer to be known as members of Adi-dravida , which means Early Dravidians. And some of them have embraced Buddhism.

 The term “Manser” is the plural form (in Tulu language) of the singular noun “Mansa”. It appears that the etymology of the word Mansa in their original language –now lost- of the Mansa language means the human being.  In this regard it is interesting to note that the ancient term Mansa has been adopted as the basic and essential term in most of the Indian languages to represent the human beings, the “Manush” or the “Manusha”.  These terms are conventionally considered to have been introduced after King Manu who, as described in our traditional legends, is considered to have repopulated the Earth/Bharathavarsha after a great deluge. In any case, the adoption of the ethnic word in Indian languages signifies the antiquity and significance of these ancient   tribes in our land.

Bari system in Tulunadu
Most of the tribes and communities in Tulunadu follow a genetic lineage system known as the “bari” system. In fact this recognition of genetic family lineages is characteristic of all ancient Indian communities and known as gotra or bali or bedagu or other terms in different languages and regions of India.  The members   of a particular bari lineage are considered blood relatives. And it was an ancient taboo to select and marry a person from the same “bari” lineage group.  And the custom of prevention marriage within relatives is also endorsed by modern geneticists in view of the fact that cross breeding would reduce the chances of recurrence of genetic defects in the off-springs.  The bari type of lineage systems prevailed in ancient societies before the formation of castes and communities. (For additional details peruse older posts in this blog).  Thus the antiquity of the bari system imparts special significance in the study of our evolution and culture.

Bari system in Manser
 Presently we could collect a list of 17 bari groups existing in the Mansa community of Tulunadu. The information has been provided by   Shri. Mohan R. Bodhi,   a member of the Mansa community through   the consistent efforts of my friend Shri Dinesh Salian Mulki. (Any of the readers having additional information may kindly add here through comment section or email)
1. Kannada-dān
2. Koḍyāḍ-dān
3. Kolambu-dān
4. Heena-dān
5. Māja-dān
6. Parike-dān
7. Bakuda-dān
8. Miyār-dān
9.  Kumer-dān
10. Angāra-dān
11. Bolya-dān
12. Pāle-dān
13. Ballad- dān
14. Vallad- dān
15. Kelinja -dān
16. Kallar- dān
17. Kandannāya

Basically, the list of bari groups in Manser reveals the nature of amalgamation of individual ancient tribes into the community of Manser. In other words, each bari represents an ancient tribes which   probably have lost their individual entities in the subsequent period of time.
(This is a common feature that has happened in the case of all traditional communities in the Tulunadu. Or, this may be a common evolutionary characteristic feature that occurred all over India. With influx of additional details, we can discuss more about the individual tribal units in later blogs.)
Maori tribes
Dr. Kota Shivaram Karanth, the well known multi-talented Kannada writer, has referred to these people as “Māri Mansa” in his writings. It is understandable that he has used an expression that was vogue in the society. In fact the preservation of the tag word “Māri” hints at an forgotten historical link in the origin and evolution of the community of these tribes.
 We have pointed out in older posts in this blog, several lines of evidence to prove that ancient African and Austro-Asiatic tribes immigrated to coastal Karnataka (and naturally other parts of India) and settled here in the antiquity. Essentially, the presence of significant number of   fossil words of African and Austro-Asiatic origin, amalgamated or still surviving as such in our languages and culture proves this theory.
In this light, it may be mentioned   that   the “Māri” in the epithet “Māri Mansa” is a corrupt form of the “Maori Mansa”. The Maori is a Polynesian tribe of New Zealand. There is an island of Manus near New Zealand. Therefore an ancient episode of immigration of Maori Manus tribes that settled in our coasts can be envisaged.   In the Maori language, the word Maori means normal or ordinary; thus the tribe Maori Mansa stands for normal human beings. Besides, one of the Austronesian tribes of Papua New Guinea is known as Mansa tribe.
"Mansa" is also a proper name in African countries like Mali. The term "Mansa" means a king in Mande language of Africa.
There may be several hints in our land and culture to prove this theory of ancient episode of migration and settling of Maori tribes in this land. One of the evidence is existence of “Maori Teertha” in Tulunadu.
Maori Teertha
In the Tulu pāDdana of Mugera Sandhi we find references to an open well/pond water source known as “Maori teertha”, located somewhere in Puttur or adjacent part of Beltangadi Taluk. The term “teertha” refers to an open source of water. (In case any of the reader is aware of the exact location of this open well/lake, it may be informed). The word Maori has no other meaning in the Tulu language, hence it should have been an ethnic fossil word brought by the ancient Maori   tribes. In other words the Maori teertha located in Tulunadu and cited in one of the traditional the pāDdana refers to a water source divined or conventionally used by the Maori people.
* *
The cooperation and help of Shri M.R. Bodhi, Mudabidri and Shri Dinesh Salian, Mulki in compiling the list of bari groups among the Manser community are gratefully acknowledged.
Readers conversant with Manser culture and traditions are welcome to contribute additional information to this post.  
It is earnestly hoped that understanding the evolution of our culture and heritage would dissolve or at least decrease the pain and burden of down trodden and neglected sentiments among  some of our communities. It is aspired that the studies and consequent understanding the facets of social evolution would pave ways for an egalitarian and truly democratic society.


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

370. Tulasi- Venkataramana in Ankola

The different patterns of worshipping divine forces of the nature can be seen in different parts of the world. Traditionally the herb basil or Tulasi, which has excellent medicinal properties as recognised by our ancestors, has been the divine symbol of health, sanitation and prosperity for Hindus and we can see pedestal structures in front of houses wherein the herb of holy basil (tulasi)   is devotedly planted for regular nurture and worship. 
The holy basil is utilised by members of all communities, irrespective of religions, in the coast for the beneficial medicinal properties. 
The conventional pedestal erected for the implant of Tulasi herb in front of the Hindu houses is known as Tulasi katte in Kannada as well as in Tulu. In south Indian devout  houses the Tulasi is being worshipped on regular basis and annually special pooja are offered on the designated day of Tulasi pooje that follows  twelve nights after the joyful festival of lights, the Deepavali.

Tulasi pedestal with image of Venkataramana  in  Hichkad Village, Ankola, Uttara Kannada. 
Tulasi worship in Ankola
In Uttara Kannada district especially around Ankola we can see the modification of the Tualsi pedestal structures in front of the traditional houses into a small shrines  structure comparable  to the Spirit (‘boota’) shrines of Tulunadu. These shrines in front of the traditional joint family houses are commonly known as the “Tulasi”.  Normally one joint family shall have a common Tulasi which shall have adesignated member of the family to look after routine pooja rituals for the Tulasi shrine. 

It is interesting to note that the Tulasi shrines especially in Ankola region have been modifed to accommodate images of  Lord Venkataramana (usually along with other village deities or spirits). Thus we can see the vestiges of ancient spirit worship as well well the worship of Venkataramana fused into the worship and legends of the holy herb Tulasi. Probably this amalgamation occurred in this region about five to six centuries ago when a few Nadava families migrated  from the Kundapura region and settled in Ankola -Gokarna- Kumta region in coastal Uttara Kannada.
A wooden plaque containing sculptures of Venkataramana -and other wooden dolls probably representing village deities - are placed in front of the Tulasi pedestal which is housed inside a small shrine like structure. Routine rituals connected with Tulasi with Venkataramana (with other minor deities)are conventionally conducted by a designated senior member of the joint family.
Such Tulasi-Venkataramana shrines are not newly constructed in newly built houses these days. Only the older composite Tulasi shrine structures belonging to the particular joint families of the yester years are being renovated and maintained.
Tulasi marriage
In Karavali West Coast on the twelfth night (“dwadashi”), traditionally people celebrate a festive night known as “Tulasi parba”. The Tulasi festival conducted with lamps lighted up around the decorated pedestal of Tulasi in front of the house is traditionally considered to be the annual celebration of the ancient  event of marriage of the Lady Tulasi with Lord Vishnu.


Monday, October 31, 2016

369. Paradox of Parkala

The modern interpretation of many of the ancient place names may not always be considered as perfect or final, because of the inherent uncertainties involved.  Basically the toponym interpreter should take cognizance of the, environment, language and culture that prevailed during the time period of adopting a particular toponym. The uncertainties arise basically due to the obscure nature of our understanding the history, language and environment and the timeslot of adoption of such a kind of nomenclature.
Let us consider the example of a place name like Parkala. The village of Parkala, as many are aware, is a small rural place near the famed town of Manipal in Udupi. Since there are no major ancient temples in the village there may not be existence of mythological pattern of history (sthala purāna) associated with the village of Parkala.
Tulu Parkala
If you consider the toponym to be a basic Tulu word then the word analysis would be para+kala,  where para usually means the old and the word kala represents a quadrangle, plot or enclosure,  that may be used for meeting, judgment, entertainment, worship or combat.
But note: the toponym is Parkala and not Parakala! It may be difficult immediately to decide whether Parkala means same as Parakala.

Other possible source of meanings
 In case 'par 'in Parkala does not mean 'old' then, some of the  other possible explanations for the originally intended meaning by our ancestors for the place name “Parkala” could be one of the following:

1. Parkala (parapu = to flow; stream).  Tulu word 'parap(p)u'' means bathing ghat in the riverside (cf.Tulu Nighantu). The River Swarna flows by the side of this village located near Manipal. ( Thus, possibly “Parkala”= A  quadrangle by the side of river.). This choice appears valid as the Kannada translation of the place name matches with the interpretation. The Kannada translated name 'Harekala' incidentally contains 'hari' which also means to flow.

2. Para (=respectable; supernatural) + Kala (=place, quadrangle).  A revered place or shrine.

3. Para (= Outside people; immigrant) + Kala (Assembling Place).  It could have been a colony for immigrants, like ‘Agrahara’ for Brahmins. (Compare with another similar place name, like “Parampalli”.) 

4. Par (ಪರ್) + kala (ಕಲ/ಕಳ):  (par = to drink.)  Thus, Parkala could have been an area earmarked for consuming liquor or intoxicant drinks.  Like, an ancient army camping place, where ‘Chakan’ is an indispensable place for food and drinks (See our Post on Chakan).

5. Parkala  ( Bengali/ Munda)= glass, lens, mirror.

6. Parkala ( Hindi) = (i ) staircase ( सीडि ) ; veranda, square or threshold ( चौकट). (ii) piece of glass; (iii) cinder (अंगार/ चिंगारी).

Many Parkalas’
If you go beyond the limits of ancient Tulunadu you shall find there are quite a many Parkala villages other than the one we started with. The census of India data for 2011 will enlighten you on the presence of villages named as Parkala in Telangana as well as in Jharkhand. In Chattisgarh you can find a Parkal kasba. There may be many more hamlets carrying the same name in other parts of India.
Pa to Ha transition
In coastal Tulunadu, the transition of administrative languages from Tulu to Kannada has been evident in place names probably coinciding with the suzerainty of Vijayanagara empire, which extended up to the West Coast.
Thus, we find transition of place names like Perur to Herur, Perga to Herga and so on especially in the region of Udupi and Kundapur that centered on the Barkur State of Vijayanagara administration.
In the same vein, we find Harekala (in southern part of Mangaluru) which probably was the translation of older name Parkala.
But the interesting thing here is that Harekala is not an exclusive Kannada word as we find the toponym Harkala also in West Bengal.
Thus, it should be noted that the pa- to ha- transition is not exclusive to Kannada. The distribution of the word in a wider region beyond the general limits of Dravidian languages renders that the actual meaning of the term par/para/har/hare in the toponym Parkala  remains to be concluded.
One of the famous religious center (Mutt) in Mysore is known as Parakala Mutta. It is not clear whether the Parkala and Parakala are related and mutually relevant words. Similarly a high grade calico cloth produced at Sonargaon, West Bengal during 17th Century was also known as Parkala.

Meaning of Parkala?

If we think that Parkala has been translated into Harekala, then it may be noted that the meaning assigned to para (=old) in Parkala has not been translated to hale (=old) in Kannada. Again, we are led into confusion of accepting hare as alternate form of hale or a word of unknown or uncertain meaning. (Some may even argue that hare is a version of arey which means rock).
However, choosing from the list of other possible meanings, it seems the term par or hare/hari which means  'to flow', representing a flowing river appears to be more closer to the originally intended meaningThis seems apt as the the place Parkala is located on the bank of River SwarnaThus the original meaning of the place Parkala would be a quadrangle or enclosure by the riverside.

Beyond limits of Tulunadu
 As we have reported in many older posts in this blog, the Tulunadu and parts of Karnataka, share many of the presently odd sounding place names with Eastern coast especially Andhra, Orissa West Bengal, Jharkhand and Chattisgarh. Therefore one cannot argue that the pattern of toponym analogy as mere coincidence.

Deciphering the ancient tracts of migration as evident in the distribution of toponyms which reflect the   exchange of language, words and culture would be useful links in understanding our roots. Besides it may be hoped that the proper and realistic understanding of our roots and the history would go a long way in forging national integration.

Tailpiece: On Pareeka

‘Pareeka’ is a locale near Parkala, notable for a Naturopathy Hospital. Incidentally, the term   Parik or Pareek also refers to an ethno-linguist group of Brahmins from Rajasthan and Gujarath. ‘Parikh’ in Gujarathi means ‘assayer or examiner’ (of diamonds) from Vanik (= Merchant )class. The people of the community usually profess descent from the legendary sage Parashara.


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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