Badugé and Vadugé are two ancestral family names used todate by Karava families of Sri Lanka. In their many extended variations, they form two groups of considerable size. Nevertheless the significance of these two names is now lost and the bearers of the great name Vadugé are quite content to assume that their ancestors were humble Vaduvás ( carpenters in the Sinhalese language).

However, historical evidence from India and Sri Lanka shows that these groups had formerly made up another important clan of the Karavas rather than a large body of carpenters. The Karáva family name Vedagé too is similarly misinterpreted now as ‘house of the physician’ whereas in the past it had denoted a person versed in the sacred Hindu Vedas and pronounced as Védagé.

The word Vaduga had been used both in India and Sri Lanka to distinguish persons and groups which had migrated to the south from the north. Accordingly Kauravas who migrated to South India from the north, had been called Kaura Vadugar ( ) in Tamil (Kurukula Charithaya I 48). Such nomenclature also justifies the observation of Hugh Neville that the Karáva of Ceylon and South India are undoubtedly a remnant of a northern race (Oriental Studies II 9).

In Southern Sri Lanka, the Vadiga Patuna is a traditional dance performed by dancers wearing Rajput dress, turbans and beards. The word Vadiga in Vadiga Patuna is reputed to denote the North Indian origin of the dance. Similarly the Nayque kings of Kandy too were reputedly known as Vadugas on account of their migration to Sri Lanka from India, which is north of Sri Lanka. However the Vaduga appellation of these kings had a much deeper clan identity.

The 1917 Madras District Gazetteer of the Tinnevelli District states that the Vadugans, bear the title Nayakan or Nayudu (The Madras Gazetteer I 3 88). This observation read together with the 17th century Portuguese historian Queyroz’s observation that Chem Nayque, the naval commander of the Nayque of Tanjore, was a Karáva (Queyroz 638), confirms the interrelationship of Karava, Vaduga and Nayque (also spelt as Naik, Nayaks and Nayakan ).

Similarly the Surya vamsa Nayque kings of Kandy were known as Vadugas / Nayakkars and appear to be from the same clan. Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe (AD 1798 - 1815) the last king of this Vaduga dynasty is referred to in a South Indian source as a Pattankatti (Taylor II 26), a title borne only by Karáva chiefs and also used todate only by the Karávas as the family name Patabendige. And Nárenappa, the Father of the second Vaduga Náyakkar King of Sri Lanka, Kirthi Sri Rajasinghe (AD 1747 - 1782), is said to have ruled the kingdom with assistance from Dom Andrado, a Karava Catholic Mudaliar from Jaffna. As the king was only 13 years old when he ascended the throne.

A letter dated 28th October 1542 written by Fr. Francis Xaviar says that the Badugas (sic Vadugas) attacked Tuticorin and that the Badugas were the Nayque Sub Kings and Commanders of the Vijayanagar empire (Dharmabandu 324).

Therefore it appears that as much as the Kurunégala, Gampola, Kotte and early Kandyan kings were connected to the Karávas by virtue of their Kshatriya Surya Wansa origins and marriages with the Karava Kirawella family, the last dynasty of kings of Sri Lanka too had been Karávas.

According to Karáva tradition and The Gazetteer of the Tinneveli District quoted above, Nayque, Naik and Nayakan all of which signified military leaders, were synonymous with Naidu (also spelt as Nayudu which was the Telegu equivalent used in Andra region). As many Sri Lankan Karávas of that period were known as Naides (Simoä Corea Pattangatim known as Naide Appu, Varnakulasuriya Ila Naide Muhandiram of Kalutara AD 1639 and Varnakulasuriya Ila Naide Muhandiram of Hulangamuwa, Matale ) it further corroborates the Karávas’ connection with the Nayque royalty of India and Sri Lanka. A prince named Varnakulatungen and a Kurukula Naik had occupied the throne of Madura in the 12th century (Taylor I 201). The Nayques of India had ruled Trichi, Madura, Tinneveli, Coimbatore, Travancore and Tanjore and the names of some of these rulers such as Kumara Krishnappa, Muttu Virappa, Mangammal etc. closely resemble the names of Sri Lankan Nayakkar royalty.

The secret minutes of the Dutch Political Council of 22nd September 1762 refers to Bandaranáike Súriya, a Karáva Patabenda of Devinuvara as a Basnáyaka. According to Paul Wirz ‘Bas’ in the compound Basnayaka (Bas+Nayque) is a Dutch word meaning ‘chief’ (Wirz 21) and therefore Basnáyake would mean ‘Chief of the Nayques’ . Since this early bearer of the title in Sri Lanka was a Karáva, it further confirms the Karáva-Nayque connection.

The Kurukula Charithaya also traces the Sinhalisation of some of these royal names as: Sambanthar Vadugar to Sampathá Vadugé , Pálappan Vadugar to Bálappu Vadugé, Mannái Vadugar to Mána Vadugé and Periya Vadugé to Maha Vadugé.

The name Sambanthár Vadugé is particularly interesting as Sambanthárs of the past were important royal officials akin to co-ordinators. They ensured fair trading at ports and are referred to in Portuguese Tombos as Xambadar (Shabandar). The A. D. 1650 memoir of Dutch Governor Jan Maatzuyker to his successor, describes Ian de Costa, the Sabandaer of Galle as “the most important chief whose help the Dutch government must seek in the Galle Korale” (page 8 fn.). Some of the Sambanthárs are thought to have been known locally as Bandár or Bandára (Kurukula Charithaya II 271). Bandára was the name used by the Portuguese to describe local royalty and the name appears to have originated from the Portuguese word for flag Bandeira. The name was initially confined only to Kshatriyas as they were the only community entitled to use flags in the Sri lankan feudal set up. Other Sri Lankan castes started using this name only in the 20th century. Many Karáva villages known as Bandarawattas still exist in towns such as Ambalangoda, Chilaw, Weligama and other towns and Bandáragé is a respected Karáva family in Matara.

A similar etymological process appears to have applied to Badugé as well. Although it is now sometimes assumed that the Badugés were the tax collectors of the past there is no evidence to suggest that tax collectors or their families were called Badugés. The tax collectors were called Vidánes and there are many Karáva families bearing the gé names Vidána and Vithána. The Badugés and Vaduges were a group apart and its probable that both names are derived from the proper noun Vaduga(n).

Therefore it appears that the family names Badugé and Vadugé are derived from Vaduga/Vadugan meaning northerners. Further, the Karáva family names Badugé and Vadugé appear to represent a distinct clan of the Karavas (the Kaura Vaduga), similar to the Suriya clans of the Karávas’, such as the Kurukulasuriya, Warnakulasuriya, Konda and Kón clans

The variations of the Badugé name presently in use by Karáva families of Sri Lanka are:

Ahangama Badugé, Appu Badugé, Alut Badugé, Amattia Badugé, Aruma Badugé, Ándra Badugé, Bodiyá Badugé, Boossa Badugé, Dadayakkára Badugé, Kande Badugé, Korin Badugé, Jayasuriya Kudá Badugé, Lädda Sinha Badugé, Lamä Badugé, Madana Káma Badugé, Kristómbu Badugé, Nánayakkara Vira Varunakulasuriya Boossa Badugé, Manamála Badugé, Manikku Badugé, Naina Badugé, Paliyagala Badugé, Peruma Badugé, Pinchá Badugé, Ponnin Badugé, Téna Badugé, Vira Konda Badugé, Varunakulasuriya Boossa Badugé and Wanige Badugé.

Karáva family names with Vadugé are:

Aranawatta Vadugé, Aruma Vadugé, Ambalangoda Vadugé, Alagiya Vadugé, Bálappu Vadugé, Dodanduwa Vadugé, Gampala Vadugé, Gustigna Vadugé, Juan Vadugé, Kalamulla Vadugé, Loku Vadugé, Lukku Vadugé, Maha Vadugé, Malluwa Vadugé, Mánika Vadugé, Manimel Vadugé, Malliya Vadugé, Kulappuwa Vadugé, Lasada Vadugé, MánaVadugé, Miti Vadugé, Péduru Vadugé, Píniya Vadugé, Ratna Vadugé, Sampathá Vadugé, Udiriappu Vadugé, Uttamá Vadugé, Vijesuriya Mahá Vadugé, Wannakuwatta Vadugé, Yanthrá Vadugé, and Yáthrá Vadugé.There are also a few other Karáva names with ‘Vadu’, such as Vadu Maistrigé and Vadu Tantrigé.

The two names Yáthrá Vadugé and Vadu Maistrigé may respectively indicate ‘a ship builder’ and ‘a master carpenter’ to a casual observer. However a Yáthrá Vadugé could also have been a Vaduga who arrived in a Yáthrá (a very large sailing vessel) or one who owned such a vessel. Such a derivation appears to be more probable as it also corresponds with the general pattern of the above listed other Vadugé names, where none of the prefixes denote wooden products such as ships or furniture. As Karávas do not have names denoting ‘cart builders’ , ‘roof builders’ or ‘cabinet makers’ it is illogical to assume that Yáthrá Vadugé indicates a ship builder.

The name Vadu Maistrigé which can be misconceived to mean a master carpenter, appears in Portuguese Tombos together with other Karáva names such as Patabendiges. The Portuguese Tombo of A. D. 1613, refers to a Master carpenter not as a Vadu Maistri but as a Mitudu guruny which does not even remotely resemble Vadu Maistri. The same source refers to a respected teacher of the Sinhalese school as Vatear Mestre (Vadu Maistri ? ) of the Escola of the Chingallas (The Ceylon Littoral 49, 75 ). Other Portuguese period records such as Prince Vijayapala’s letter of 1st May 1643 to The Viceroy uses the word Mestre to mean a respected teacher.

Therefore it clear that Vadu Maistris and Vadugés were not the Vaduvas (carpenters) but another clan of the Karavas of Sri Lanka.


*Kurukula Charithaya part I, Kurukula Véndar S. F. Weerasuriya, 1960 , page 48
*Oriental Studies, Hugh Neville
* The Madras Gazetteer, Tinneveili District, Caldwell, 1917,
* Queyroz Fr. The Temporal and Spiritual Conquest of Ceylaö
* Taylor W. Indian Historical Manuscripts, Vol II, Madras 1835
* Dharmabandhu T. S., 1962 Kaurava Vansa Katháva ,
* Indian Historical Manuscripts, Taylor, vol. I,
* Kataragama, Paul Wirz,
* Tinnevelli Gazetteer, chapter II
* The Ceylon Littoral, 1593

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