Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Tulu Tribes - IV

Chera was a Tamil dynasty that mostly ruled present day Kerala and western Tamil Nadu region. Anthropologists have identified the capital Vanchi/Karur both in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Many mainstream Malayali anthropologists have claimed indegenous Kerala origins to Chera-s.

But I have speculated that Chera-s are Tamil imperialists. Ravi (at Tulu Research) commented that Bali is reverred by Munda tribes too. He pointed me to Zacharias Thundy's article.

Asura Bali:

I have read Zacharias Thundy's articles before. Unfortunately, he is a 'well intentioned' folklorist. Still, I can use the facts about Bali legend among Munda-s. Incidentally, Asur is a Munda tribe.

In my opinion, Chera-s were basically a Munda tribe who became ruling elites with Brahmins as administrators. There is one more parallel with Chera, Munda and Brahmins.


According to Brahmin mythology (Kerala Mahatmya in Kerala Grama Paddhati in Tulu Nadu) of western coastal region, the land of Kerala (also Tulu region) was reclaimed from the sea by a Brahmin warrior called Parashurama. This land was later given to Brahmins.

This Parashurama legend has its origins in another legend. The poet Paranar who wrote 4th decad of Patittupattu credited his king Vel Kelu Kuttavan of Chera dynasty a great feat of driving away sea with his spear.

However, this legend is present in Munda folklores according to Zacharias Thundy.

Are Malayalis the descendants of Munda-s as Zacharias Thundy claims? By population genetics and by linguistics, no. Obviously, Malayalis belong to Dravidian language family whereas Munda-s are Austro-Asiatics. By population genetics Munda-s are overwhelmingly Y-Haplogroup O2a which is almost non-existent in south India.

That does not rule out the possibility that Malayali-s had (Proto)Tamilized Munda ruling families.

I believe Central and Eastern India's tribal regions experienced great political ascendancy around 2500 years ago. Probably, native tribes started ruling the area-s and were later "legitimized" and Sanskritized by Brahmins. Many of these ruling families later might have migrated to south and west India and started ruling.

Curiously, it has been claimed that both Chera and Satavahana though patrilineal sported both patronymics and metronymics in their names. Probably, it was a hark back on to thier matrilineal tribal past(probably Munda-s).

A Survey of Kerala History by A Sreedhara Menon


Ravi Mundkur said...

There is a distinct substratum of Munda culture and elements in Karavali and Malabar. If genetics does not support this we must find explanations.There are lots of words in Tulu (place names,plant names, human body parts,organ names 0also that contain Munda- as prefix.
My own original village 'Mundu-k-ooru' must have been an old settlement of Mundas ie before the arrival of Tulu tribes.Mundattaya spirit must have been a Munda hero.

Manjunat said...

Mundattaya is 'arasu'. A king spirit. That again shows a connection with ruling class.

Tulu tribe like Koraga do not show any Munda (Austro-Asiatic) lineage. However, I am not sure about Tulu mainstream population. Also, Malayali lineages show overwhelmingly non-Munda patrilineages.(Munda matrilineages are India specific ...unlike their patrilineages which are common in SE Asia/South China)

It would be interesting to see if Munda lineages appear in this region then the castes that have this lineage.

Ravi Mundkur said...

A part of the Munda groups apparently merged with Tulu tribes over the historical years. During the arrival of Tulu tribes munda tribes had well established,civilized (by ancient standards) settlements as well as they ruled themselves. Arasu mundittaya must be munda chieftain of that early times.
A group of munda tribes could not survive the cultural onslaught of Tulu tribes and others who later occupied/encroached the coastal settlements. They unfortunately had to retreat to wilderness as 'tribals'by current standards. Now their descendants are called 'mundaladaklu',a backward scheduled tribe.
Manju, I am interested in the 'Mundittaya pad-dana' you referred to. Where could I get acopy of it? Also, the copy of DK history by Ganapathaih Aigal.

Manjunat said...

Do Mundaladaklu speak Tulu? I believe this Mundaladaklu are also known as Mundala. At one place, I saw Mundala language is unclassified. Not sure if both are the same. On the Web I have read that Kordabbu Pad-dana is exclusively done by this tribe. I believe Mundattaya belongs to Billava-s.

I bought the book from 'Atri Bookstall' (Jyothi/Balmatha) in Mangalore.

Ravi Mundkur said...

Mundala people talk in Tulu dialect slightly different from other common people.I do not know whether they also have any other languages of their own.They may have.( I saw them several years ago in my childhood.So I do not have any recent authentic info).Korda dabbu was said to be of a scheduled caste /tribe.
Original 'billawa' were archers, a profession of primitive days,as the name itself suggests.They could be one of original Munda stock that amalgamated with Tulu tribes later.

Prashanth said...

ARASU and MUNDATTAYA are being worshipped as 'Daiva' along the coastal belt.ARASU and MUNDATTAYA daivas are of two diffent origin. ARASU daiva is also known as DAIYONGULU or ULLAKULU whereas MUNDATTAYA is known as VAIDYANATHA or KALA^BHAIRAVA or MOODADAYA or MUDADER. The interesting fact is that in TULUNAADU these daivas are being worshipped together.ARARSU daiva is worshipped as the king whereas the MUDATTAYA daiva is being worshipped as the Chief Minister to ARASU daiva.For more details, the book "PAAD^DANOLU" written by Rev.A.Manor (Published by Bassel Mission,a British Missionary in 1886 AD), can be referred.

Prashanth said...

ARASU and MUNDATTAYA daivas are worshipped in Attavara and Udyavara (near Kasargodu). In Attavara,Udyavara there is ARASU MAADA(place where daivas are worshipped)and SAANA for MUNDATTAYA daiva.

manju said...

Thank you very much for those useful inputs. I just checked Wikipedia article on 'Attavara' and found that these Daivas were connected with Jain rulers.

Is this book by Rev. A. Manor available in book stalls? (I know only Atri Bookstall in Mangalore, by the way)

Prashanth said...

The original print(Publ.Year 1886) is not available.But recently TULU SAHITYA ACADEMY has reprint the edition.The book title is 'PAAD^DANOLU';Publisher:TULU SAHITYA ACADEMY,2009

You can also check it out at Athri Book Centre,Mangalore for more information

manju said...

Thanks, Prashanth.