Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Buddhism and Jainism in South India - 3

In my previous posts, I have argued that Buddhists were mainly Tantriks in South India who later merged with Brahmins. In this post I try to understand why Buddhism became successful in Sri Lanka but failed in South India.

Buddhism that spread in the societies before they became agrarian(rice farming) lost out but remained strong in the socities that already adopted rice farming.

If you observe South East Asia and Southern China were already agrarian by the time Buddhism spread there and remained main religion until the advent of Islam(a situation similar to North-West of the subcontinent) and Christianity.

In India, the rice farming was first adopted by North-East region. Sinhalese were mostly descendants of the communities from that region. They have very high Haplogroup R2(~35%) and R1a1 (~15%) comparable to non-Brahmin population in that region(Bengal).

Theravada and Mahayana
It increasingly looks obvious that Buddhist monks were there in South India before the arrival Brahmin agriculturists. I think they belonged to both Theravada and Tantrik(Vajrayana) sects. I wonder how Theravada Buddhism might have spread in the population. If the following statement is correct, it would have remained religion of few considering the society was mainly tribal.

"Theravada Buddhism focused primarily on meditation and concentration, the eighth of the Eightfold Noble Path; as a result, it centered on a monastic life a an extreme expenditure of time in meditating. This left little room for the bulk of humanity to join in, so a new schism erupted within the ranks of Buddhism in the first century AD, one that would attempt to reformulate the teachings of Buddha to accommodate a greater number of people. They called their new Buddhism, the "Greater Vehicle" (literally, "The Greater Ox-Cart") or Mahayana, since it could accommodate more people and more believers from all walks of life. They distinguished themselves from mainstream Theravada Buddhism by contemptuously referring to Theravada as Hinayana, or 'The Lesser Vehicle.' "
Lifted from this article.

However, it looks like more people friendly Mahayana was spread mainly in North-East region or East Asia.

Eventhough, it was Theravada Buddhism that went to Sri Lanka, an agrarian civilization was more prepared than the tribal civilization of South India.

South Indian languages and Buddhism
In our primary (first 7 years) and high school(later 3 years) we study words forms under the headings tatsama(Sanskrit form) and tatbhava(equivalent Kannada or any other Dravidian language form). In my opinion all those tatbhava words in Kannada in fact were borrowed from Pali and not derived from Sanskrit. The earliest Indo-Aryan influences were Prakrit languages like Pali and not Sanskrit. The Sanskrit words that became part of the Kannada vocabulary have either retained the original form or are apabhramsha(corrupted form). So asking the pupils to write the tatbhava or tatsama of some words during the language exams does not really make much sense.(See update)

Buddhism and god names of Tulu tribes
Under the influence of Buddhism goddesses got the name Bhagavathi in Kerala temples. As the Buddhists were mainly Tantriks, Kali was Pali-ised with that name since Buddha was known as "Bhagavath".

In Mangalore, there is a temple dedicated to Shiva at Kadri. Here the deity Shiva's name is Manjunatha. Probably, this temple is the living proof of Tantriks becoming part of Vaidiks. The Shaiva Natha Pantha was supposed to be direct offshoot of Vajrayana Buddhism according to Wikipedia article.

The name Manjunatha is itself derived from one of the Bodhisattvas, Manjushri. However, the logic behind the name again shows the origin of Shivaism. Manjunatha means the lord or guardian of ice moutains, as Mount Kailasa was supposed to be the abode of Shiva. A related article here.

Udpate :
1. No idea whether Pali is a Prakrit language or not.
2. No idea if tatbhavas are considered Dravidian form of Sanskrit words or original Prakrit forms in Dravidian languages. It looks like in present day Indo-Aryan languages tatsama means original Sanskrit form and tatbhava means Prakrit form.
3. Absolutely no idea about the relationship between Sanskrit, Prakrits and Pali.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Agriculture in South India-1

The present genetic studies attribute agriculture in South India to Haplogroup J2 and Haplogroup L1 people. I take the definition of agriculture as rice farming with respect to South India. However, many parts of Karnataka and North-West of Andhra Pradesh are not really rice eating regions. But first, let's try to fix J2 and L1 clan members.

After fishermen
I am not really sure about Y-Hg-J2b2 people. Their frequency does not give much clue. I would put them with original South Indian tribal population(that is till we sample fishermen).Before the emergence of agrarian South India, the tribal society saw new members from North-West of India in the form of shepherds and cowherds. Before their entry the original inhabitants of South India were Haplogroup R2, H(not H1) R1a1 and J2b2 clans. These shepherds and cowherds mainly belonged to Y-Hg-L1. Many of these people also diversified into toddy tapping in the later period.

The lactose tolerance reaches only 30% in South India*. So milk made entry relatively recent or milkmen came after tribals and fishermen to this land. However, I have also read that Indians have very high incidence of alcohol intolerance. It looks like binge drinking is not really our mug of alcohol. I believe the research must have been conducted on North Indians. South Indians, I would say, certainly are not that delicate(with Telugus and Malayalees leading the way). Anyway, Soma drinking Indo-Aryan genes must be really a thing of the past. That shows toddy tapping could be one of the oldest professions along with fishing in South India. Most likely, tribal South Indians lived close to water bodies in the regions abundant with Palm trees and ate fish and tapioca and drank Kallu.

After cowherds and shepherds migrated to South India, the eating habits changed(The origin and spread of Indian water Buffalo is not clear; I would speculate they were domesticated for milk and farming in North and North-East India then along with cowherds and farmers these also migrated to South India) .It should be Indo-Aryans(also Vaidiks of old era) who were the beef eaters but with migration of these people beef made its entry into South Indian plate. The present beef eating Malayalees(probably, the only Hindu community at present to keep eating beef) were in fact the last ones to eat beef. Hence, along with fish, tapioca(cassava root) and kallu, Malayalees ate beef (and are still nostalgic about it. Sometimes, they take it as staple diet instead of rice centred food).

And Parashurama gave the land to Brahmins
I discount J2 and L1 as mainly responsible for agriculture in South India because rice farming obviously look like being spread from North-East of India and L1 absolutely do not have any presence in North-East of South India too.

Interestingly, English word "rice" is supposed to have Indo-Iranian origin. The root is represented in South Dravidian-1(*ari) and South Dravidian-II(ari-se in Telugu)(Find the reference at Starling database). So it looks like the word is a borrow from Indo-Aryan. However, none of the Indo-Aryan languages show the derivative of that word for rice. A strange situation. Probably, something to do with the late adoptation of rice farming in North-West of India. However, if rice farming was not part of Indo-Aryan speaking population in those parts then how come the word for rice is part of North-East Indo-Aryan speakers who moved South India and also Europeans. I do not know. I think to escape from incoherency people just don't connect many things together. Anyway, our population Geneticists lead the way.

As I said before, rice farming started in North East India and moved to Gangetic planes. The Brahmins who migrated to South India from those areas also brought the knowledge of farming with them. In fact, in South India only Brahmins, except for coastal Andhra (as the region is close to North East of India hence tribals could have diversified into farming on their own) most of the other parts of South India had only Brahmin land lords. In small regions like coastal Karnataka(Tulu Nadu) and Kerala almost all the agriculture lands were once belonged to Brahmins. Many tribals started working in these lands as supervisors or as labourers. Many supervisors then independently became landlords or acquired the land from Brahmins in regions like Kerala. The emergence of tribal farmers also paved the way for rapid expansion of Haplogroup H1 in South and Central India. Most likely Haplogroup H1 is originated in North-East of India(Bengal, Orissa areas).

Saturday, August 12, 2006

The Tulu tribes

Tulu is a Dravidian language which became an independent language from Proto South-Dravidian-I before any other languages belonging to that tree(Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil etc.). In one of my previous posts I have argued that many ancestors of present day Malayalees were basically Tulu tribals who lost their language because of Tamil imperialism.

Cultural similarities between Tuluva(s) and Malayalee(s)
Couple of cultural similarities that I discussed previously were;
1. Matrilineal or matrifocal system
2. Spirit worship

My grandmother once told me that our lineage system is the same as that of Tuluva(s). The lineage system is very common to South Asian and Central Asian tribes. Hindus call this lineage system "Gotra". However, there are many variations in this Gotra system. The Vaidik gotra system is different from caste specific Gotra systems. Some authors call the lineage system observed in Tulu and North Malabar regions as "Dravidian Gotra or lineage system"[2]. Well, the term Dravidian could be used only in linguistic sense, the cultural usage of this term is increasingly becoming meaningless as we understand more about Indian male and female lineages thro' genetics. So I would refrain from giving it Dravidian identity but I would just call it lineage system of Tulu tribes. This is known as 'bari' in Malayalam and 'bali' in Tulu. Another Malayalam word 'illam' is the term used by Malayalee Brahmins for their lineages instead of 'Gotra'. So I will drop that word. Probably, in literary Malayalam the term should be 'Vazhi(as in Tavazhi -> tAy + vazhi = matrilineal line)' but of course the original form the word could be found in my Malayalam which is 'Bari'(b->v change ; according to me 'b' is the original Dravidian sound and not 'v' but nobody agrees with me).

baLi system
All the baLis are common across the non-Brahmin communities in this region[4]. Eventhough, Malayalee bari names differ from that of Tulu(sometimes Kannada, as you can find both Tulu and Kannada speakers belonging to a single caste in geographically adjacent areas) names, people identify the corrsponding lineages between these two linguistic groups[1].

The rulers of Tulu regions established 14 Kattu(system)s and 16 Kattale(commandment)s. Curiously, all these rules which included caste rules lacked Brahmin touch as it was said to be imposed by a ruler called Bhutala Pandya under the instructions of a spirit called 'Kundodara'.

Spirit worship:
In my previous posts I maintained that Korati was the original spirit goddess because she was worshipped in Tharavadu(joint family house)s. I am not very sure now. It looks like Korati is the main spirit of a tribe called 'Koraga' along with her male counterpart which is called Koraga[3]. But this spirit is worshipped as a protector of domestic and crops by other communities too.

Also, previously I mentioned that we don't find any IVC worship traces in South India because all the spirits were worshipped in symbol format. However, it looks like couple spirits, Jumaadi and Maari(the so called mother goddess) were worshipped in idol format (mostly crude wooden figurines)[3]. I wonder if the IVC goddess figurines were also crude.

Interestingly, many female spirits have male counterparts. eg.
Korati -> Koraga
Ullalti -> Ullaya
Kallurti -> Kalkunda
and they are generally brother and sisters.

Another important spirit Jumaadi is in fact half male and half female[3]. So this must be the origin of the later Ardhanarishwara.

I wonder what happened to male consort of our Mari. I did not find Maju.

The later Vaidikization saw all these spirits being part of Shaiva legends. However, later Vaishnava movement saw couple of spirits with Vishnu's touch. eg. Bermeru and Panjurli. Among these Bermeru is a very interesting spirit. He is not supposed to be identified with Vaidik Brahma but has the Sanskritized name Brahma. Also, Vishnu himself has taken spirit form in 'Vishnumurthy'.

The story of Vishnumurthy spirit is rather complicated. Malayalees believe this spirit was created in memory of a Hoysala king Bittideva who converted to Vaishnavism and became Vishuvardhana(He was originally a Jain). So basically, this is an import to Malayala region from Tulu region.

But according to Tuluvas, this is in fact a very popular spirit of Malayalees which gradually made its appearance in Tulu regions. I read this account first and it sounded reasonable to me as Vishnumurthy is the Kula daiva(family, lineage spirit) of my 'bari'. I mean an import from Tulu region can't be a main spirit of a Malayalee community. But when I read the Malayalee version that sounded more logical so I am confused.

1. My grandmother
2. The Bunts of Tulunadu, an article by Dr. Neria Harish Hebbar
3. Spirits, an article at Bunts' community page
4. Bunts' history, an article by Aerya Lakshminarayana Alva

Monday, August 07, 2006

Rise of patriarchal society -iii

The formation of family and community in the development human civilization is really confusing for me. I think communities were formed before families. I think the variables in a family are more complex than in a community in the initial stages of civilization. Therefore, simple community structure might have formed before family structure.

Men-> community; woman -> family
Well, that's what I think. The men formed community and a woman formed a family. During our hunter-gatherer past men bonded but women missed(Are all women individualistic?). However, the families grew with women at the helm as one night stands might have been vogue in those days.

The religion export
I wonder if it were a community or a family to start mass worship. Probably, both in their own way. With mostly men officiating(could be women too if the hunters included them) the community and women the family worships. However, as families expand and become mini communities of their own the connecting bonding is always male.

Otherday, my grandmother commented that the women have been relegated to become mere cooks in the resurrected Tharavadu temples of my community. In the old days, the female head of the family had the exclusive rights to offer prayers. However, the present Tharavadu temple structure might have escaped from her notice.

The Tharavadu(s) were the joint family houses. Each Tharavadu was identified with the lineages known as illam in Malayalam or bali in Tulu. Nowadays, the joint family system is dead and there are no Tharavadu(s). However, there is an attempt to resurrect these Tharavadu temples. There are many families belonging to single illam, however, instead of each family having a particular Tharavadu temple all these families are identifying a place as the origin of their 'illam' and establishing temple for the family goddess, spirits. And all the people forefront in this endeavour are invariably men. In fact, there are community temples(for castes in general) with primarily goddesses but all the priests and oracles are males. And this was the case when females had the exclusive rights in their Tharavadu(s). So any connection between goddess, matriliny and patriarchy is just random events of community and family. At least, religion has nothing to do in the development of patriarchy though it might have supported male supremacy in the later period.