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The term “Banga” in the epics, legends and historical documents refers commonly to the “Bengal” region of India.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".

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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 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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