In grammar, we know that ‘the smallest linguistic unit within a word that carry a meaning is known as a morpheme”. We have discussed some morphemes in general and specifically some others in our earlier Posts.
Water (Neeru =ನೀರು) is held sacred in all religions. We have discussed it in our latest Post-373: On the trail of morpheme ‘Nu/ Noo’. It has also touched upon related words Ne/ Danu/ Da/ Dar, etc. We are now seized of the opportunity to say more about morphemes which relate to water. They are Mi or Mee, Mu, Mo, Mar, Mer and so on. These heritage words are found in world languages, reminding one that they are originated from the same primary source, that is a proto language.
‘Ma’ means water as we get from Sage ‘Manu’, the writer of famous Manu smriti (Laws of Manu). What Manu is to Indians, Noah is to Westerners. They are the Boatmen who rescued humanity from extinction from the Great Deluge (Maha Jala Pralaya).
We have collected some word-units, which has come to our notice in languages, including Tulu. This would bring home the point, we are discussing.
Ma+yim (Hebrew) = Water.
Med+ini (Sanskrit) = The Earth (which came out of water).
Medini in legends
According to the legends, there was water everywhere after the Great Diluvial period. Lord Vishnu was resting on a (big) Lotus Leaf in Yoga Nidra (= Yogik sleep, a state of consciousness between waking and sleeping) in the Ocean. Madu and Kaitabha originated from the ears of Vishnu during his sleep. They frightened Lord Brahma, the creator, who was sitting on a lotus sprouted from the navel of Vishnu and was thinking about the creation of Cosmos. The frightened Brahma invoked the primordial Goddess Devi. Vishnu, who woke up from the disturbances created by the Danavas, killed both the Danavas, lifting them up above the water and placing them on his thighs in sitting posture. He sliced the two bodies six times and hence twelve pieces (two heads, two torsos, four arms, and four legs). Thus, the Earth was considered to be created from their dead bodies and these twelve pieces represent the twelve seismic plates of earth. The earth is called as ‘Medini’.
In another version, Kaitabha was slained by Devi. Vishnu is called as Madusudana (Killer of Madu) and Devi as Kaitabhi (Killer of Kaitabh). This scene is enacted in Tulu Nadu’s folk-art of singing, dancing and drama, known as Yakshagana Bayalata (= Field Drama) in Devi Mahatme.
Mu+dar (Tulu) = Alluvial soil, deposited during floods in the fields. This soft soil is very fertile. Mudar mannu is very much in need by potters.
Mu+dar Muttu (Tulu and ‘t’ is pronounced as in butt) = First menstrual flow.
Mudale (Tulu) and Makara (Sans.) = Crocodile, which habitats in fresh water, such as rivers, lakes, wetlands and in brackish water and salt water. ‘Mosale Kanniru’ (meaning crocodile tears) is a famous allegory for hypocritical tears. (Scientifically, these are salt water, shed by crocodile to get rid of the excess salt in its body.)
Mir = A lake (as in Kashmir ; Lake of Kashyapa Rishi).
Mosaru = Curd (a watery substance derived from milk)
Meenu = Fish (a vertebrate living in water).
Mār (Tulu) = A cultivable land (as in Bākimār (= farming field in front of a house), Palimār (= a large rice field).
Eeme (Tulu)/Aame (Kannada)/Koorma (Sans.) = Tortoise (a four-legged reptile enclosed in a horny shell).
A family-friend of Vishwanath forwarded a song in English, sung by Mohamed Rafi, the music maestro of Hindi/Urdu Songs in Bollywood. This is the only English song sung by him at the United Nations Organization in 1970. Readers may hear this in YouTube. The thematic line (= Pallavi*) of this song runs as follows:
“Although we hail from different lands
we share one earth, sky and sun.
Remember friends, world is one”
We feel, it is not out of place if we repeat what is said in Encyclopedia Britannica:
“……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”.
Hosabettu Vishwanath, Pune
[Note: * Pallavi is a thematic line or musical tune of a song. It is a cycle and repeated after each stanza of a poem.]
1. Post-362/29.08.2016 – Morphemes in Tulu Place Names,
2. Post-373/21.12.2016: On the Trail of morpheme ‘Nu/Noo’ and all other Posts on Tulu Place Names.
3. Noah & Human Etymology - by Bengst Saga