History of Tulu Nadu


History of Tulu Nadu

"Tulunad", for "Tulu"-"Nad" or "Nadu", is the country of the Tulu ethnic people.

These also exists "Tulurvanam" or "Tulurvana" which used to be a part of Tulunadu. It is an area to the east of Kanhangad till Mercara. Karike in Kodagu or Sullia was the main seat of this area.

Ballal Kings of Sullia ruled this area around 1100years back. They belonged to Ashta Ballal parampara. Later on when Ballal king converted himself to Jainism Karike, in Kodagu became the headquarters. Interestingly very few have shown interest in this vast rich treasure of the Origin of Tulunadu.

History of Tulu Nadu

Historically, Tulu Nadu included the two separate lands of Haiva and Tuluva. The Ballal Kings of Sullia had ruled this area around 1100 years back. The Bunt/ Nair, Brahmin migration to Tulunadu might have happened during the lifetime of the Kadamba king Mayuravarma at 345 AD. Madhvacharya in the 13th century built the eight monasteries (Matha) in Udupi.

During the rule of Vijayanagara Tulu nadu was administered in two parts – Mangaluru Rajya and Barakuru Rajya. Tulunad was the original homeland of the dynasty that founded the Vijayanagar Empire based in eastern Karnataka. Tulu Nadu was governed by feudatories of the Vijayanagara Empire until the 17th century. The longest reigning dynasty of Tulu Nadu was the Alupas. They were the feudatories of the prominent dynasties of Karnataka. The Kadamba dynasty of Banavasi was the earliest, under which the Alupas flourished. Later the Rashtrakutas of Manyakheta, Chalukyas of Badami, Chalukyas of Kalyani, Hoysalas of Durasamudra and Rayas of Vijayanagara were the overlords. The Alupas, however, were independent and their subordination was nominal at best. They ruled until the Vijayanagara kings totally dominated the Tulu Nadu from 14th to the 17th centuries. The region became extremely prosperous during Vijayanagara period with Barkur and Mangalore gaining importance. After the decline of the Vijayanagara Empire, the Keladi Nayakas of Ikkeri controlled much of Tulu Nadu.

The community of Bunts (anglicized from Buntas), also referred to as Nadavas, form an important and integral part of the socio economic culture of Tulu nadu, in coastal Karnataka. They share Tulu nadu with other prominent ethnic groups like the Mogaveeras,Billavas, Brahmins, Konkanis, Catholics and Jains. As a community, Bunts are next in number only to the Billavas of Tulu nadu. Bunts also thought to have had close connections with Nairs of Malabar and Nadavas, the name Nadava implies, originating from the word nadu or territory, the Bunts are owners of land. The Nairs and Bunts may have common origin while the Nadavas might descend from the ancient Pandyan kingdom of Tulunadu and the later day Pandyan kingdom the Alupas kingdom. Nadava is synonym of the ancient Pandyan aristocracy, the Mara Nadalvars. The Bunts and Nairs may descend from the Non Dravidian Naga-Scythian people who of the Saka stock which invaded India in the second century BCE. The mixture of Bunts and Nadavas might have happened during the Alupa period or the Rashtrakuta period. Now Nadavas are mixed up with Bunts and indistinguishable from them. The Bunts of southern Tulu nadu speak Tulu language, a form of language that is used in commerce in the region, called Common Tulu.

E. Thurston wrote in his Castes and Tribes of Southern India (1955-56), “This is a caste found only in South Kanara. The Nadavas have retained four sub-divisions* , one of the most important being Masadi…. I have no information regarding the caste but they seem to be closely allied to the Bunt caste of which Nadava is one of the sub-divisions. The name Nadava or Nadavaru means people of the nadu or country…. They still retain their independence or character, their strong well developed physique, and still carry their heads with some haughty toss as their fore-fathers did, in the stirring fighting days, when as an old proverb had it ‘the slain rested in the yard of the slayer’, and when every warrior constantly carried his sword and shield. Both men and women of the Bunt community are among the comeliest of Asiatic races.”

Masadi (masadika) is the most common Tulu speaking sub-division of Bunts in Southern Tulu nadu. Nadavas are Kannada speaking people who live in Northern Tulu nadu from Brahmavar to Baindoor. Parivara Bunts also live in the northern parts and follow some of the Brahmin customs. Jain Bunts are those who converted to Jainism during the reign of various Jain rulers, especially Hoysalas.

Origin and Antiquity

A number of myths and legends persist concerning the origin of Tulunadu. One such myth is the creation of Kerala by Parasuram, a warrior sage. Parasuram was the incarnation of Maha Vishnu. He was the sixth of the ten avatars (incarnation) of Vishnu. The word Parasu means 'axe' in Sanskrit and therefore the name Parasuram means 'Ram with Axe'. The aim of his birth was to deliver the world from the arrogant oppression of the ruling caste, the Kshatriyas. He killed all the male Kshatriyas on earth and filled five lakes with their blood. After destroying the Kshatriya kings, he approached an assembly oflearned men to find a way of penitence for his sins. He was advised that, to save his soul from damnation, he must hand over the lands he had conquered to the Brahmins. He did as they advised and sat in meditation at Gokarnam. There, he was blessed by Varuna - the God of the Oceans and Bhumidevi - Goddess of Earth. From Gokarnam he reached Kanyakumari and threw his axe northward across the ocean. The place where the axe landed was Kerala. It was 160 katam (an old measure) of land lying between Gokarnam and Kanyakumari. Puranas say that it was Parasuram who planted the 64 Brahmin families in Kerala, whom he brought down from the north in order to expiate his slaughter of the Kshatriyas . According to the puranas, Kerala is also known as Parasurama Kshetram,ie., 'The Land of Parasurama',as the land was reclaimed from sea by him.

Tulu ScriptA script called Tulu is used in Tulunadu for centuries. All Tulu classics discovered recently are in Tulu script, and som in other scripts. This Tulu script was being used by Brahmins. Till recently they were using it for writing Mantras, for accounts etc.Like Nayars who went to Kerala from Tulunad, Tulu Brahmins were also going to Kerala Temples for priestly work (called 'Shanti' Services). They took the Tulu writing with them to Kerala thus they carried the Tulu script to Kerala. Malayalam had not developed a script of its own by that time. The upper castes and classes of Keralites started close contacts with the Tulu Brahmins and hence they adopted the Tulu script, and later adopted it to what is now called the Malayalam script. (This has been proved in detail by Vidwan P V Puninchathaya in 'Tulu -Nadu-Nudi').

Several inscriptions mention Buntas in various connections, earliest perhaps in the 9th century in the Udyavara inscription. Here a mention of Shivalli Brahmins and the Bantas of Chokipali (current day Chokkadi, near Udupi) is clearly made. Whether the Nadavas, the Kannada speaking people mostly found in the northern Tulu nadu are the same as the Bunts cannot be established with certainty. However, in the 20th century there was so much of intermingling of blood through marriage between the two groups that now they have become indistinguishable from each other. These two communities could have separate origins but with passage of time the two cultures certainly seemed to have merged. There are no records of the origin of the Bunt or Nadava community of Tulu nadu. It is strongly felt that they first made their appearance very early in the history of Tulu nadu, and they migrated from Northern regions.

It is almost certain that “in the early centuries of the Christian era, there were kings, some independent and some under the suzerain of overlords like Kadambas, Chalukyas and Hoysalas. There were constant skirmishes and fighting, and the ‘Buntaru’ or warriors were important stabilizing segments of the population. In due course the Bunts succeeded in becoming owners of lands that did not fall into the hands of the priestly class, namely Brahmins.” – South Kanara Mannual, Vol I.

Another group of people with similar culture was the Nayars of Tulu nadu. They have disappeared as an entity from Tulu nadu but the inscriptions found in Barkur from the medieval period as well as the Grama Paddathi, which gives the history of Brahmin families in Tulu nadu, have made several references to the Nayars. They seemed to have intimate connections with the Brahmins and acted as their protectors, perhaps brought to Tulu nadu by the Kadamba kings in the 8th century. Kadamba king Mayuravarma, who is credited with bringing Brahmins from Ahichatra (from the North), also settled Nayars in Tulu nadu. Yet, there is no written proof for this occurrence and the only mention of the Nayars in the inscriptions comes after the Alupa period (early part of 14th century.) and like some of the Kings of Malabar some south Kanara princes also have Nair Ancestory.The main dynasty of Alupas are the descendants of Dravidian Pandyan kings and not of Bunt or Nair origin. It is postulated that the Nayars were later absorbed into the social stratum of the Nadava community. Nayara(Nair) and Menavas (Menon) are sub castes of the Bunt community and may have common origin from Indo-Scythian (who mixed with Nagas freely).

It is also postulated that the Nayars of Malabar originally migrated from the Tulu nadu as noted here: Manual of Madras Administration Vol II (printed in 1885) notes that the Nadavas are the same people as the Nayars of Malabar and the Bunts of Southern Tulu nadu.

“They appear to have entered Malabar from the North rather than the South and to have peopled first the Tulu, and then the Malayalam country. They were probably the off-shoot of some colony in the Konkan or the Deccan. In Malabar and south of Kanara as far as Kasargod, they are called Nayars and their language is Malayalam. From Kasargod to Brahmavar, they are termed as Bunts and speak Tulu. To the north of Brahmavar, they are called Nadavars, and they speak Kanarese.”
Prof S. Shivaram Shetty’s research shows that a tribe called Kosars or Kossar wandered into Tulu nadu after the Aryan invasion. Mercenaries by nature, they first settled in Deccan and established the Shatavahana kingdom in Andhra Pradesh. In Tulu nadu they founded the Alupa kingdom.The Alupa Kingdom had the lineage of the Tulu Pandyan dynasty of Dravidian, Villavar and Minavar stock. The kings had the title Sri Pandya Dhanamjaya. The flag had the emblem a Double fish.Pandyan kingdom of Tamil Nadu has fish as emblem too. Kosars are not Pandyans but served Pegan s an ancient Tamil kingdom. But Satavahana Kosar and Bunts could be all central asian Scythian tribes.

During the rule of Vijayanagara Tulu nadu was administered in two parts – Manaluru rajya and Barakuru rajya. The people of the community to the north of River Kalyanapur (closer to Barakuru) called themselves Nadavas and spoke Kannada and people south of the river (closer to Mangaluru) came to be known as Bunts. There seems to have been a close relationship between the Bunts and Jains in Tulu nadu. Not only are their last names similar in many instances (Ajila, Ballala, Hegde, Banga, Chowta etc.) but they also have similar customs. Aliya santana is followed by both Bunts and Jains in Tulu nadu, perhaps the only Jain community in India to follow this matriarchal system of inheritance. Bunts of higher social standing were said to have converted to Jainism, though it is not clear when this conversion predominantly occurred.

After the fall of Vijayanagara Empire, during the rule of the Nayaks, in the 16th century, the Jains of Tulu nadu suffered a cultural recession. The glory of Jain period was abruptly curbed during the confusion of the take over of Tulu nadu by the Nayaks of Ikkeri. It is evidenced also by the lack of building great monuments and the bastis (like in Mudubidri). It is possible that during this period many of the Jains converted to Vedic Hinduism.

Tulu Nadu was governed by feudatories of the Vijayanagara Empire until the 17th century. In the 18th, it was conquered by Haidar Ali, the ruler of Mysore, and Mangalore became Mysore's chief naval entrepôt. After the British defeated Haidar's successor Tipu Sultan in 1799, the region was attached to the Madras Presidency before being reverted to the state of Mysore in the aftermath of independence. Mysore has since been renamed Karnataka.

Tulu Nadu was originally called Alvakheda. Many historians agree that this is the region Emperor Ashoka referred to in his edicts as Satiyaputra, one of the four regions outside of his empire (the other three being Chola, Chera and Pandya kingdoms).

The political history of Tulu Nadu can be classified as follows:1. The Alupa (Aluva) period2. The Rayas of Vijayanagara period3. The Nayakas of Keladi period4. The Sultans of Mysore period5. The British period.6. Post-Independence period.

The longest reigning dynasty of Tulu Nadu was the Alupas (Aluvas). They were the feudatories of the prominent dynasties of Karnataka. The Kadamba dynasty of Banavasi was the earliest, under which the Alupas flourished. Later the Rashtrakutas of Manyakheta, Chalukyas of Badami, Chalukyas of Kalyani, Hoysalas of Durasamudra and Rayas of Vijayanagara were the overlords. The Alupas, however, were independent and their subordination was nominal at best. They ruled until the Vijayanagara kings totally dominated the Tulu Nadu from 14th to the 17th centuries. The region became extremely prosperous during Vijayanagara period with Barkur and Mangalore gaining importance. After the decline of the Vijayanagara Empire, the Keladi Nayakas of Ikkeri controlled much of Tulu Nadu. At the end of 18th century, Haider Ali and Tippu Sultan controlled the region. Mangalore played a prominent role in Tippu’s battles with the British. The British gained full control in 1801, after the defeat of Tippu in 1799. The British ruled the region with Madras (now Chennai) as its headquarters. When the Indian independence was achieved in 1947, Tulu Nadu became part of Madras state. When the states were divided into linguistic states in the 1950s, Tulu Nadu became part of Karnataka.

Modern History

Under Portugal, ruling from the port cities of Mangalore, etc., the region was called the Missao do Sul, or the Mission of the South. Tipu Sultan conquered the region and the British conquered it from him. Under the British, the region was organized as the Districts of North Canara and South Canara.

The name "Canara" was given by the Portuguese who took it from Kannada or Karnataka. The Portuguese mistakenly believed that the entire Deccan was a single entity and referred to all natives in their dominions as Canarese. They even initially referred to Konkani as Canarese Brahman language.

The two districts were made a part of the Madras Presidency, but North Canara was later transferred to the Bombay Presidency. After Independence, the two Canaras were made part of Mysore State and then, of Karnataka State. The name "Canara" has been Indianized as "Kannada", so that the districts are now Uttara Kannada and Dakshina Kannada.

The district of South Canara was recently bifurcated to create the District of Udipi.

There is an on-off movement among the Tulus for a Tulunad state, spearheaded by the now largely defunct Tulu Sena.

Tulunad was the original homeland of the dynasty that founded the Vijayanagar Empire based in eastern Karnataka.

Diverse identities

Over the following many centuries, more ethnic groups migrated to the area. Konkanas and Gouda Sarasvats arrived by sea, as Mangalore was a major port that served not only the Portuguese but also the Arabs for maritime trades. Jains were already a prominent group and even today are uniquely preserved in Tulu Nadu. Though small in number, the Jains left behind indelible reminders of their glory with temples (bastis) in (Moodabidri) and monolithic statues of Bahubali, the gomateshwara, in Karkala, Venoor and Dharmasthala.

Madhvacharya in the 13th century built the eight monasteries (Matha) in Udupi. In the 16th century there was a large influx of Catholics to Tulu Nadu from Goa. They built excellent educational institutes and contributed to the development of education in the region. The Muslim community of Tulu Nadu were basically Arab traders who married local women and settled there. Some of them speak the Beary language, which is a mix of Tulu and Malayalam and others speak Urdu.

References


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