Thursday, November 30, 2017

394. Reflections on Tulu word ‘Totte’

Recently, a catalogue of a big online selling company, attracted my attention to an item ‘Tote bags’ (Ladies hand-bags) while checking my Inbox.   It surprised me and enkindled my memory of ‘Totte’ in Tulu and Kannada languages.  It provoked me to explore these words and their origin.  Here it goes!

In English (both British & American), ‘tote’ (pronounced as ‘toht or taut’) means :(1) to carry as on one’s back or in one’s arms (e.g.: to tote a bundle), (2) to carry on one’s person (e.g: to tote a gun) and (3) to transport or convey as on a vehicle or boat.  As a Noun, it also means: ‘an act of toting and something toted. So, ’tote’ denotes carrying, bearing and carting.
‘Tote’ is also a shortened form of ‘a totalizator’.  It is recorded since 1890-95 (Source:, based on ‘Random House Dictionary’).

Word Origin
Online Etymology Dictionary (© 210 Douglas Harper) gives the original history for ‘tote’ as below:
“  …. ‘to carry’, 1670s, of unknown origin, originally attested in Virginia, but OED discounts the popular theory of its origin in a W. African language (cf. Kikongo tota ‘pick up’, Kimbundu tuta  ‘carry,  load’, related to Swahili ‘tuta’ pile up, carry’).  Related: Toted – toting.  Tote bag is first recorded in 1900.”

The word ‘toTTe’ ( t  pronounced as ‘third’ and   T as in English word 'tata ' and 'e' as in 'eddy') is vogue in  both  Tulu and Kannada.   We find its variations in other Dravidian languages and also African languages, as explained in starting paras.  Originally, it is a basket or bag made of coconut leaves, mundevu (Pandanus utilis) and other broad   ribbon- like leaves of some trees and shrubs
  I reflectively remember the days holding a ‘totte’ of coconut leaves, when I followed my father or eldest brother to Kandevu, holding a ‘totte’, during community fishing in the tributary of River Nandini (Pavanje River) – in May months (Read our Post-292: Fishing Ritual at Kandevu).
Let us study the word and its variants in Tulu & Kannada and other Dravidian languages.

Tulu & Kannada:
Basket made of coconut leaves or bag of paper. On evolution, it is made of plastic as small containers for liquids, such as milk, curd, butter-milk, country liquor (ಸಾರಾಯಿ Saraayi) or any small solid things.
 ‘Nesara Totte’ (ನೇಸರ ತೊಟ್ಟೆ) means a ‘Solar cell’.
Tulu ‘totte’ = tatti, i.e. beehive, honeycomb or bee’s empty cell, Kannada: Jenu totte (= beehive),
Tottu = Nipple of a breast (both in Tulu and Kannada) or joint of flowers and fruits in tree branches.
Tulu totte’ also means: ‘empty’.  It is empty before filling. 
 ‘ನಿನನು ನಂಬುನ್ಡ ಬಂಜಿಗ್ ತೊಟ್ಟೆನೆ’  (Ninanu nambunda banjig tottene). Meaning: “If we believe in you, our stomach will be empty.” Derived meaning is: “We will be losers.”  It is a statement of lack of faith or confidence on the ability of a companion.

Kannada ‘Totti” = Water tank.
Tamil:  Totaiyal  = honeycomb.
Telugu:  Tettiya = honeycomb.
Kolambi: Tatta

(Refer ‘Tulu Lexicon’ and ‘Dravidian Etymological Dictionary, page 307, Entry: 3489 & 3490)’
Totte   to Tote?
The origin of ‘tote’ is uncertain as we gather from the information given above.  What is the origin then? We firmly believe that it is a Dravidian word. We can trace it to the ancient maritime (traditional) trade with South Indian coasts by the Arab World and European countries.  So, the word ‘totte’ has travelled to West Asia and other Continental countries through trade route and is shaped to ‘tote’ with the meanings in present-day English language.
Plastic Tottes
Totte-making from traditional and unharmful items (say, leaves, rattan, cloth or paper) has evolved and now almost all the carry-bags are made of plastics and aluminum foils.  Though it looks innoxious or innocuous, it has deleterious effects on environment   and human health.  We can add diapers also to ‘Totte’ category.  Burning of plastic carry bags and diapers emits obnoxious gases and irritating smell, thus polluting the air and the earth and harming human health.  Measures are taken by almost all countries to get rid of the menace of plastic ‘tottes’ or carry bags but they are not effective.
We lay emphasis on influence of Dravidian languages, especially Tulu and Kannada, on the origin of word ‘Tote’ in English.  Linguists may make a note of it.
Garbage of plastic bags are spread on roads, rivers, trees, mountains and pilgrimage places.   Let us resolve not to use plastic carry bags indiscriminately.

- Hosabettu Vishwanath, Pune

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

393. Pages from the forgotten history: Kolalagiri

Kolalagiri (Kolalgiri) is a rural hamlet, located to the north of Udupi city. Presently it is generally known for quality laterite stone bricks, though the resources are fast dwindling, due to pronounced quarrying operations during the last century.
 The Kolalagiri hamlet is currently is a part of Uppoor village in Udupi Taluk. However, only few people may be aware of the fact that once upon a time it was an important commercial town in the bygone history of coastal Karnataka. 
During the period between 8th century CE and early part of 12th Century the Kolalagiri was a active commercial town ruled by Alupa kings.

Geography & Geology
Kolalagiri is located on the northern bank of River Suvarna (Swarna). The region forms an elevated plateau consisting of well formed red laterite stones. The belt of laterite stones runs from Manipal to Kolalagiri in an NW-SE direction. Like most rivers of coastal Karnataka the Suvarna River appears to have migrated laterally and changed its position during the last three millennia.
Similarly geological data supplemented by historical facts as well as legends (of Parashurama) suggest that   a stretch of the present West Coast was under sea before two millennia which receded gradually. Thus it can be visualized that once upon a time (about 2000 years ago), the Kolalagiri was a port town located on the northern bank of River Suvarna.

“Kolalu” means a flute in Kannada. Thus Kolala-giri  literally   stands for the metaphor of  hill of flute. The Kolalagiri  settlement forms the northern geographic extension of the  Udupi   town. The Udupi became a major center of Krishna worship after installation of idol of Krishna by sage Madhvacharya who is also well known for propagation of the dualism (“ Dwaita”) concept of metaphysical    relationship between the soul and the God.  

Local legends suggest that there was a shrine dedicated to Lord Krishna in Kolalagiri in the olden days. However, remains of such a ancient Krishna temple or the township around the temple have not be traced so far.

It appears that the Sanskrit styled nomenclature "Kolala - giri"  was  created during the hay period of Krishna cult  in the Udupi region, as the flute (“kolalu”) forms the signature musical instrument of playful Krishna in the legends.

However, on retrospection,  it appears that the deducible original word "kol-ala" in the toponym  was derived from the ethnic kol tribes, as ala is a common suffix in ancient India denoting  human settlements located beside a river.  In support of this argument, there are villages named "Kolala"  in other parts of Karnataka also.
A map of  coastal region around Kolalgiri (click to enlarge).

Kolala nakara
The inscriptions dating back to some 8th century CE suggest that earlier in the history the place was known as “Kolala-nakara”.  A “nakara” was a merchants guild during ancient historical times. The merchants were influential and economically powerful during regal periods and the rulers had close relations with the merchants who would not only pay taxes but also loans to the rulers during exigencies.  The association of merchants (“nakara”) periodically assembled in temple premises and discussed their strategies and affairs.  Because of the involvement of economics, places with ‘nakara’ associations grew up as “nagara” or cities.
Merchants of such 'nakhara' trade guilds were usually dealing with export of natural products, like rice, spices, cashew, coconuts, cotton, silk, fibers, precious stones, pearls, shanks and cowries, fish and other manufactured artefacts.   Guilds  especially for cotton and silk textiles were flourishing in many of the South Indian Coasts – both East and West.  Such guilds thrived with the patronage of kings, chieftains and powerful professional groups.
Gururaja Bhat (2010) explains the content of the inscription as follows:
“One of the inscriptions from Udyavara perhaps, of 8th C refers to the Alupa ruler- Maramma Alvarasa. He seemed to have according to the inscriptions, summoned the Nayga(Nayaka) of Odevura (Udayapura) to the Kolala-nakara and entrusted him with the administration of Udayapura. It becomes almost clear from the epigraphs that Maramma alvarasa had his capital at Kolala-nakara. It may be surmised that this Kolala-nakara could be identified with the place Kolalgiri, just 10 km to the north-east of Udupi (there are no traces of city at Kolalgiri). Tradition has it that there was a Krishna temple at Kolalgiri and because of this shrine that place name came into vogue.”
Similar opinions have been expressed in their works by renowned   historians such as K.V. Ramesh and Saletore.

The place name Kolala-nakara   reveals that the original name of the  historical village was Kolala. There are several ancient villages in different parts of Karnataka bearing the name of “Kolala” or “Kolalu” .  Incidentally, the place name Kolala is an ethnonym   as the word analysis  Kol+ala shows.

‘Ala’ (as a suffix in the toponym “Kol-ala”) is an ancient Indian word denoting a habitation located on the bank of a river; incidentally the suffix ~ala means water or water body, as also suggested by the word” jala” (=water) derived from ~ala.

Kols were an ancient tribe of India. They are considered to be a part of Austro-Asiatic Munda tribes, once found all over India, but now restricted mainly to parts of Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgadh, Orissa and Bengal. There are about 1420 villages in different parts of India carrying the prefix of Kol tribes. Even in coastal Tulunadu we can find Kolnad, Kollur Kollamuger etc villages still carrying their ancient signatures.

Historical significance
Alupa rulers ruled from Alupe port in the eastern part of present Mangaluru, which formed the coast of ancient Mangaluru until   about 100 CE.  The region west of Alupe (in Mangaluru) which was under Sea earlier, was exposed due to regression of the Arabian sea after 100 CE. (The natural event of regression of the sea has been described in the legends as creation of land by Lord Parashurama .

Further natural disasters like southern drifting of Netravati River around Mangaluru, appear to have forced the Alupa rulers to shift their capital from Alupe, Mangaluru to Udyavara.
The inscription involving Kolala-nakara implies that Alupa rulers were not content at their new base at Udyavara.  Alupa ruler Maramma Aluvarasa planned to shift his base north to Kolala nakara which appears to have been a thriving “nakara” (commercial town) at that time.  Kolal nakara was located in the northern part of Shivalli (Odipu/Udupi). The decision of Maramma Aluvarasa to shift from Udyavara to Kolala nakara suggests that Kolala nakara then was a potential commercial town, superior in importance to Odipu and Udyavara. Thus it seems Kolala nakara was a commercially important coastal town from later part of 8th century and up to the  first part of 12th century.

However, another town was gaining importance during the period. It was Barkur. Alupa ruler Kavi   Alupendra shifted the base from Udyavara/Kolalgiri to Barkur   around 1139 CE ( date identified by Vasantha Shetty, 2016) .


  Thanks to reader  Shri Melwin Kolalgiri for suggesting the topic and providing essential data.

Gururaja Bhat, P (2010) History and culture of south India (Discoveries in Coastal Karnataka: Vol 1 Edited by A. Sundara. Dr Padur Gururaja Bhat Memorial trust,  Udupi. p. xviii+ 364+40.

Vasantha Shetty ,B (2016) Barakuru. A Metropolitan city of antiquity its history and culture. Karnataka Tulu Sahitya Academy.Mangaluru, p.xvi+296.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

392. Masked early history of Padangadi

The Padanagdi (alias Padavinangadi) is a vibrant locality on the Airport road leading from Yeyyadi to Bondel- Kavur in Northeastern part of Mangaluru city.
The “Padangadi” ( padangaDi : first d pronounced as in English word: the; second D as in English Dog) is an ancient Tulu locality name  that is also known by its Kannada   version “PadavinangaDi”.
There is also a serene village known as “Padangadi” (pronounced paDangaDi: both D as in Dog) in Beltangadi Taluk of Dakshina Kannada district, Karnataka.
Location map of Padangadi, Mangaluru.

Ancient words
The words in ancient place names are like preserved old coins that are useful in understanding stages of generally masked or obscure pages of early history of this land which has not been documented otherwise. In other words, the surviving ancient words can be compared to fossils in the science of paleontology that throw significant light on the reconstruction of bygone days of past life history,  paleo-ecology and  environment.

Padangadi vs. Padavinangadi
Now, of the two (Tulu- Padangadi /Kannada- Padavinangadi) names for the Mangaluru locality under study, which one is the older? 

Going by the regional   linguistic evolutionary analysis carried out in the older posts in this blog, it can be summarized that during the early three to four centuries of the Common Era, Prakrit was the dominant/administrative language in Karnataka including coastal Tulunadu. During fourth century CE onwards old Kannada (“Halegannada”) was introduced by Kadambas as administrative language as we find in Halmidi inscription. At that time, Old Tulu was in usage in coastal Tulunadu. Old Tulu and Old Kannada were closely related languages by then, more like regional variants of a single language, as we find many Tulu equivalent words ( that are now obsolete or modified in modern Kannada) in the Halmidi inscription.

Subsequently, Kannada was imposed as administrative language in coastal Karnataka (Tulunadu) by the Vijayanagar Kings during and after 12th century CE.  Under this program parts of Tulu regions around Barkur were brought under the intensive influence of Kannada.   During the Kannada period, most of the local names were translated   to  Kannada  prevalent in the period.
Therefore, the Kannada version of the locality name Padavinangadi can be dated to 12th Century CE or later, attributable to the influence of ambient Kannada kings.

What could be the original meaning of the composite word Padangadi ?
For a simplistic analysis, if you split the word into pad(a) + angadi: we can find 9 possible meanings for the words ‘pad’ and ‘pada’ in Tulu Nighantu, Vol. 5 .

Pad = (a) ten (b)shrink;
Pada =(c) level, status (d) word (e) song (f) maturity (g) square pattern (h) tranquility and (i) sole or foot step.

It can seen that those who translated the original Tulu word ‘Padangadi ‘  into ‘Padavinangadi’ under the  regional “Kannadaization” program,  utilized the meaning  #(c) ie., the level ground. The Tulu geographic term “padavu” represents a lateritic plateau or a planar open field.

As a contrast, the term “angadi” (pronounced: angaDi) is a common word for a shop or a marketing stall in most of the Dravidian languages, including Tulu and Kannada.
If you analyze this particular word as ang+Di,   you get the meaning of an open area or open field. The ang means open; as in angai (ang+kai=open hand; palm of hand). Or as in Tulu phrase: bāyi angāvu open (your) mouth.

~Di , as in angadi,  is a spatial suffix in ancient Indian languages.  (Examples: Garodi, Gardadi, Tadadi, etc).  From the   suffix ~Di,   further suffixes  ~Adi and ~Odi have evolved.

The original meaning of the word angadi, as courtyard or open field is still preserved in Parji language.
 Since early days of civilization open fields or yards were used for selling goods on a designated day of the week. The open market was known as “santhe”.  From the ancient markets in open yards, the usage of the word angadi was later applied to shops.

There is another interesting twist to the story offered by the “Padangadi”, name of the village in Beltangadi Taluk, located on the Guruvāyana-kere - Venur stretch of road. This particular village name is pronounced locally as   “paDangaDi” (D as in Dog) adding a tinge of   dilemma  to our derivation of the meaning of the place name.
Which of the two toponymic   pronunciations: padangaDi and paDangaDi - is original one and which one was modified with passage of time?
Cenang beach, Kedah, Langkawi, Malaysia

Padang : Southeast Asia connection
Since ~Di, is an ancient spatial indicator suffix, we can also think of analyzing the word Padangadi  as Padang+Di or Padang+aDi. Thus, we confront with a   new word Padang.

A recent   visit on tour to Malaysia and Singapore, enlightened me regarding the word Padang.  The Padang is a usual toponymic word in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Mynamar and other Southeast Asian countries. Besides, the place name “Padang” also means an open field in Malayan language.
Incidentally, there are many place names in these Southeast Asian countries that contain the suffix ~ang, such as Padang, Penang, Kallang, Cenang etc.
By the bye, the words containing Padang are not limited to coastal Tulunadu alone. Similar  place names are also found in   parts of Orissa and Rajasthan suggesting the wide distribution of early phases of Austro-Asiatic cultures in different parts of India.
 Thus after an overall analysis, we can conclude that the ancient place name Padangadi evolved from the words of Austro-Asiatic- Munda origin, namely:  padang+adi .

Austro-Asiatic languages
Early forms of Munda languages had their sway in southern India during and before the early centuries of the Common Era, as evident from the existence of umpteen fossil Munda words and related cultural vestiges preserved in Tulu and other Dravidian languages. ( Older posts in this blog.). The Munda languages of India (now surviving mainly in central and eastern parts of India) are considered to be a part of the ancient Austro-Asiatic language family.


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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