All about the Badagas of the Blue Mountains!




A website by Wing Commander Bellie Jayaprakash

Badaga Origin

Many mistakenly claim that Badaga Origin is nothing but Badaga migration from Mysore  [now in Karnataka state] about 300 years ago, during Tipu’s time only because of  the name Badaga (meaning northerner). It is very debatable. Unfortunately many Badagas have believed it in the absence of any convincing and conclusive evidence to the contrary. But the latest revelations and links about the language, especially from the epics and writings during the Tamil Sangam period tell a totally different story (see below).


I am firmly of the view that our history is much older- may be a thousand years or more older – and my initial ‘research’ confirms that.

Tipu Sultan

There is a lot written about the migration from Mysore theory by many anthropologists, researchers  and others. For obvious reasons, most of them are/were 'outsiders' - like the early European missionaries and British. The one person who has done a lot to highlight about Badagas, in 1960s, Prof.Paul Hockings has chosen to go along with his predecessors in concluding that since Badaga means north[ner], they have migrated from southern  Mysore  during Tipu Sultan's rule over Mysore to avoid being forcibly converted to Islam. Also sited in support of migration is the resemblance/similarity of Badaga (language) to Haleya [old] Kannada.

But, B.Balasubramaniam, a highly educated Badaga, who has done extensive research, before writing his book “ Paamé ” – The history and culture of the Badagas of the Nilgiris  feels that Badagas migrated from Southern Karnataka [then Mysore State] about 700 years back, much before Tipu’s time, around 1311 AD during the plundering raid of Malik Kafir.


Though I am in agreement with Bala that Badaga migration, if at all, took place much earlier then Tipu’s time in late 1700s, I am firmly of the view that “It is possible that Badagas have lived in the Nilgiris for thousand of years like the Thodas [Thodhamaru ] or Kothas [Kotharu] and migration theory is an attempt by historians and anthropologists to explain away a ‘historical puzzle’. Only based on the name ‘Badaga’ or on the so called 'legends' that are open to many interpretations or on the basis of similarity of Badaga [language] with haliya /mid Kannada, can we conclude that Badagas migrated from Southern Mysore?


When there is no definite evidence about the origin of Todhas or Kothas, how can we presume that they predated Badagas as natives of the Nilgiris?


I am sure the mystery of migration is far from over. If you look at the issue as of ‘definitive migration’ then you try to guess about the dates but what happens if we believe that Badagas have always been there in the Nilgiris much before or along with Todhas or Kothas? Uncomfortable questions that are very interesting and worth digging deeper into.


But given the diversity but the highly commendable unity and uniformity with minor changes in their customs, Badaga Migration, in all probability, has taken place even within the Nilgiris Hills reverently called ‘Naakku Betta’ by the Badagas.


What we DO NOT know about Badagas is more than what we know about them. Such is the mystery of Badaga Origin.

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indu-main.jpgThe Badagas are a unique community living mainly in the Nilgiris District in Tamil nadu in South India. They are also the single largest community of the Nilgiris. Though classified backward, a significant factor is the high status of their women……….says Indu K Malla, a Badaga writer of distinction, in her article " The myth of Badaga origin & migration "

The Badagas are one of the important indigenous peoples, and the largest single community in the Nilgiri Hills which nestle at a point where the rugged beauty of the Eastern Ghats merge with the wooded verdancy of the Western Ghats, in Tamilnadu. Since the Badagas have no script, their history has been documented in other languages (mostly English) by non-Badaga historians and anthropologists (mostly westerners). Since the Nilgiris formed part of the Mysore state domains till 1799, the question of the migrations of the Badagas to the Nilgiris, does not arise.


It is said that during the reign of Tipu Sultan, seven brothers and their sister were living in a village called Badagahalli on the Talaimalai Hills near Mysore. One evening as the sister, who was a ravishing beauty, was busy making preparations for the milking of the cows as usual, one of the calves broke loose from the tree to which she had tied it . Not finding anything handy with which to tie it again, she uncoiled her long, luxuriant hair and held the calf back with it, while her brother milked the cow.

Indu K MallahLegend has it that Tipu Sultan was riding in the vicinity and was witness to this sight. He was captivated by the sister and wanted to marry her. The brothers, who were staunch Hindus, disguised themselves and their sister, and fled by night to the Nilgiris. Legend has it too, that when they reached River Moyar, which is the northernmost limit of the Nilgiri District, their pursuers started to close in on them. The family is said to have placed a ‘Shivalingam’ on the ground, and prayed before it. The river Moyar is then said to have parted, and the refugees to have crossed over, while their pursuers were drowned by the closing waters.

The distinctive dress of the Badaga women is said to be the disguise adopted by them in flight, and the tattooing on their fore-heads and fore-arms, a measure taken to make them unattractive.

     

badaga-ladies.jpgg-h-tattoo-asilu.jpgLegend also has it that in their hurry, they forget to pickup a baby asleep in a cradle, and even today, as a reminder of that lapse, the more orthodox Badagas will not use a cradle for a baby. The brothers are said to have settled down near the present village of Bethelhada. After a short stay there, they separated and dispersed in different directions. The oldest brother told one of his younger brothers to follow a deer and build a village where it stopped. The younger brother followed his instructions and settled down in Kinnakorai, where the deer stopped. Another brother settled down in Koderi, yet another in Hubbathalai. These brothers where the founders of the Porangad [seemay] division of the Badagas.

Read all about SEEME/SEMAY divisions and hattis here ->>>badaga hattis


The establishing of three other ‘semais’ or divisions have interesting histories behind them. It is said that as one group of Badagas or Gowdas reached the Nilgiris, they took shelter in a forest and in their hurry to leave, left a baby behind, which crawled into a cave. A Toda who happened to pass by glimpsed the baby, and enticed it to came out, but it would not. He then went and brought his own child and sprinkled some roasted amaranth grains in front of it. As the Toda child started picking the grains, the Gowda baby joined him, and the Toda father brought him up and it is said that he is the founder of the ‘Thothanad’ division of the Badagas.

According to another account, two Gowda brothers arrived from Mysore and reached Nunthala. They were very hungry. The younger brother is said to have shot a pigeon, and to have roasted and eaten it, while the elder brother abstained. It is said that the vegetarian brother is the ‘Hethappa’, or ancestor of the Kundah Division of the Badagas, while the non-vegetarian brother, the founder of the Mekunad Division of the Badagas.


Badaga Henno, Sathiyada Manno


The Badagas are a unique community living mainly in the Nilgiris District in Tamil nadu in South India. They are also the single largest community of the Nilgiris. Though classified backward, a significant factor is the high status of their women.

The title is only a rough translation of Badaga woman-hood, for there is no exact English translation for Sathiya – the nearest words are blessed or divine. (‘Mannu’ means soil). The Badaga woman is the epitome of ‘Shakthi’, and many of their festivals, legends, ballads and folk – tales are centred around women. In fact, the chief festival of the Badagas, Hethai Habba, is centred around ‘Hethai’, a woman imbued with divine powers, and who was subsequently deified. It is significant that though the Badagas are a patriarchal society, their women are held in high esteem. The high status of Badaga women perhaps derives from three main factors – the absence of a dowry – system, divorce by mutual consent, and widow-re-marriage. There is no stigma attached to widows; in fact they are part of the mainstream community, and in the fore – front of auspicious functions like engagement and wedding coremonies. Also, there is the practice of ‘hengava nadathodu” - a tradition of giving a daughter / sister material, emotional and moral support throughout her life.

Traditional Badaga women are very hardworking, and are the mainstay of the family and the community. They till the soil, harvest the produce, collect fire – wood and water, and tend the cows, in addition to looking after their families. Since the Badagas have been mainly agriculturists, the Badaga women’s ethos is closely connected to the soil. In fact, even the proverbs of the Badagas evoke this ethos – for e.g : “Hennogiri, mannogiri” (A daughter’s / sister’s curse will turn the soil barren).

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Some of the poems by INDU K MALLAH based on Badaga Culture

SCAPE-GOAT

calf

photo from the net
(During the olden days a calf was let off into the woods after transference of sins of a dead person (’Karu Harachodu’ - Funeral Rites. This beautiful poem is based on that - JP)

Yesterday, you were a care-free calf

Tugging teasingly at your mother’s teats.

And gamboling gaily

In an abandon of joy.Today, you are weighted with garlands, mantras, and the

collective sins of the community.

The pujari extols the benefits of ‘karu puja’.

He compares your eyes to Surya and Chandra.

Your ears to Usha and Pratyusha,

Your body to the abode of Mahalakshmi, Saraswati and Raudri,

Your horns to Sri Devi and Bhu Devi,’

Your nose to Vaishnavi,

Your forehead to Maheswari,

Your feet to the four Vedas

And your teats to Dharman, Jnanam, Aishwaryam and Vairagyam

(Righteousness, Knowledge, Auspiciousness and Detachment)


But…………..no one notices the tears in your eyes.


They feed you with rice and sambar, deceit and betrayal,

And wonder that you turn your head away distastefully.

They smear you with kum-kum and manjal,

Chandan and ceremony,

They pay obeisance and lip-service,

They offer incense and incantations,

Oblations and silver coins;

They tie an angavastram, a length of silk

Or noose?

Around your innocent neck;

They deify you and prostrate themselves

In front of your bewildered body.

No one notices your head heavily touching the ground,

Under all these trappings.

What can I do to ease your burden?

I reach out, and try to wipe out that hunted look in your eyes,

And you tremble at my touch.

The puja over,

They rush to restaurants;

Serving their favourite dishes.

The atmosphere rife with irony

And orders for chilled beer and brandy

Mutton biriyani and chilli chicken,

Interspersed with sounds of

“Punya puja and prayaschittam.”

They gorge themselves with food, drink, and self-delusion,

Until they are bloated with complacency and self-righteousness

Before they return to their old ways of

Slothfulness, and sinfulness,

Superstition and self-indulgence, Until the time comes around

To find another scape-goat.



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A WOMAN’S TEARS
(Hengada Kannaneeru)


A daughter’s tears will water the fields,

And wither all the crops,

And cause a famine in the land,

Or so the legend goes. A sister’s sobs will swell the stream

And turn it into a river of blood,

Which will wipe the entire village out,

Or so the folk-tale says.A mother’s heart-break will pace the road

That leads to the ancestral home,

With splinters of her broken heart,

And the men who tread on them

Will be turned to stone,

Or so the elders say.A woman’s curse will turn cows to snakes

And blight the prosperity of the place,

For when the ‘Lakshmi’ of a place is destroyed,

What else can survive?

`

Daughter, sister, mother, woman,

Hurt her he who dares.

“Hennogiri mannogiri” *

The spirit of Hethai still reigns supreme in this land,

And the wheel of Sathyam will turn

Full circle.* - A Badaga woman’s curse will cause the soil to become barren (Since the Badagas have mainly been an agricultural people, this is the worst curse that can befall them).Hethai is the most important deity of the Badagas.


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SONG OF THE HILL-PEOPLE

What myth informs you

That your god is greater than ours?

Which fairy tale tells you

That your god is the only one?

Which god gave you the right to brain-wash our vulnerable, guileless people

With a brush dipped in guilt?

And who gave you the right to maul our culture?

You justify your self and say

That religion is different from culture,

But one is the warp, and the other, the weft of the fabric of our credo,

Which has the texture of the trees,

The flow of the mountain – stream

The scent of the earth,

The melody of bird-song,

And is in tune with the music of the cosmos.It is the age-old story of exploitation,

And it will take ages for us to recover from the wounds

You have inflicted on our souls

In the name of saving them.

But you have reckoned without

Our God of Satyam

We will wait——

Tomorrow is time enough for your exploitation.

 

[In the 'Song Of The Hill People', Ms.Indu K Mallah has beautifully brought out the mindless and meaningless (religious) conversion of hill people especially, Badagas. What used to be an unforgivable act a couple of decades ago, has become a routine affair now. I am yet to meet a 'converted' Badaga who could give me atleast one convincing reason for the change. I know of many Badagas who say 'I am a proud HINDU and have no problems in praying/ keeping pictures of other religious deities also in my puja room'. Hats off to them!! Badagas have been a very closely knit community. Let not"religion" divide them.]



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Badaga Origin

LINKS  which suggest Badaga Language existed with old Kannada and equates it with Sangam or Purana Tamil period

.

“ …..Some of the Kanarese too seem to have been called Vadugar. In consequence of the Andhras and the Kanarese having been called by the common name of Vadugar in the days of the Sangam, it has been surmised that they were then one race and that their language too must have been known as Vadagu and that it is only later that Kanarese must have been branched off into a separate language. But Illam-Ko- Adigal, the great epic-poet of the sangam age, mentions distinctly those who speak the Kanarese language as Karunadar and other classical writers make mention separately of the lands where Kanarese and Telugu  were respectively spoken. The northern portion of Mysore State and parts of the districts of Bellary and Anantpur seem to be known even now as Badaga-Varu and Badaga-Natti-Varu. A poem of Sangam mentions an Erumai  as a 'Vadugar Chief' in whose land flowed the river Ayiri. This is evidently the Agiri which falls into the Thungabhadra. It is this country which was probably the extreme southern limit of the Asokan Empire as is evidenced from inscriptions found in the vicinity. 


If these be so, it follows that the Telugus who were to the north, and the Badaga Kannadas who were to the west, of the Tamils were known generically as the Vadugar. The poet, Ma-mulanar, says that it is beyond the lands of a chief of the name of Katti that the language changed into that of the Vadugar. Perhaps the chiefs well-known as Katti-Mudaliyars in the days of the Vijayanagar empire and later belonged to the lineage of this Katti. It is worthy of note that these Katti-Mudaliyars occupied those portions of the Tamil country which Ma-mulanar assigned to Katti. There are reasons to hold that the land called Vadugar-munai and placed beyond the lands of this Katti is identical with the Badaga-nadu we have already mentioned. It is these Badagas that seem to be referred to by St. Sundara in one of his psalms on a shrine in the Kongu country…..”

The Tamils and the Andhras by PANDIT M. RAGHAVA AIYANGAR

Read the full article in Badaga Language page


Badaga Origin

Arunan's  link http://yabaluri.org/TRIVENI/CDWEB/TheTamilsandtheAndhras.htm

” Some of the Kanarese too seem to have been called Vadugar. In consequence of the Andhras and the Kanarese having been called by the common name of Vadugar in the days of the Sangam, it has been surmised that they were then one race and that their language too must have been known as Vadugu and that it is only later that Kanarese must have branched off into a separate language. But llam-Ko-Adigal, the great epic-poet of the Sangam age, mentions distinctly those who speak the Kanarese language as Karunadar, and other classical writers make mention separately of the lands where Kanarese and Telugu were respectively spoken. The northern portion of the Mysore state and parts of the districts of Bellary and Anantapur seem to be known even now as Badaga-nadu and the Kanarese of those areas are known as Badaga-varu and Badaga-natti-varu. A poem of the Sangam mentions an Erumai as a ‘Vadugar chief’ in whose land flowed the river Ayiri. This is evidently the Agiri which falls into the Tungabhadra. It is this country which was probably the extreme southern limit of the Asokan empire as is evidenced from inscriptions found in the vicinity.

If these be so, it follows that the Telugus who were to the north, and the Badaga Kannadas who were to the west, of the Tamils were known generically as the Vadugar. The poet, Ma-mulanar, says that it is beyond the lands of a chief of the name of Katti that the language changed into that of the Vadugar. Perhaps the chiefs well-known as Katti-Mudaliyars in the days of the Vijayanagar empire and later belonged to the lineage of this Katti. It is worthy of note that these Katti-Mudaliyars occupied those portions of the Tamil country which Ma-mulanar assigned to Katti. There are reasons to hold that the land called Vadugar-munai and placed beyond the lands of this Katti is identical with the Badaga-nadu we have already mentioned. It is these Badagas that seem to be referred to by St. Sundara in one of his psalms on a shrine in the Kongu country.

Badaga Language – Did it predate Kannada?


OF the countries which make up the southern portion of India it is well-known that those in which Tamil, Telugu and Kanarese are spoken are the countries which may boast of an ancient culture and a memorable past. The cultural and historical inter-relations between these countries are naturally of great interest. Though the Kanarese language and literature are old and rich, still the intimacy of the contact of the Tamils with the Andhras, the fruitfulness of the contact and the importance of the enquiry may well justify our going first into the relations between them.


Philologists are agreed that in the Dravidian group of languages Tamil, Telugu and Kanarese fall into a class by themselves. Of them the first two are the languages entitled to be considered the more ancient. Though Kanarese has no mean literature, still the belief of the ancient Tamil scholars was that the Kanarese language is a product of the intermingling of Tamil and Telugu. Jayam-kondan, the prince of poets of the early years of the twelfth century A. D., speaks of Kanarese being a jumble of ’some Telugu and much Tamil’.1 The truth of this  observation will not be lost on those who have studied old Kanarese. Malayalam is, indeed, another language pertaining to this group, but it is fittingly treated as a daughter of Tamil. That the mountainous regions skirting the western sea were formerly a part of the Tamil country and that the language spoken there was not different is obvious enough from the old Malayalam literature and the inscriptions found in that area. This is why Kamban, as great a scholar as be was a poet, speaks of Malayalam as if it was not in his days a language very  different from Tamil.2


If Tamil, Telugu and Kanarese belong to one class, which language is the parent? One may confess to an inability to offer a solution acceptable to scholars in general. There are some amongst us who hold that Tamil occupies that relationship. It is accepted on all hands that Tolkappiyar’s Tolkappiyam is the earliest and most  authoritative. This work divides the country where Tamil is current into twelve divisions and classifies the words that come from lands like Vadugu beyond those twelve divisions as words of foreign origin. Panam-paranar too, a contemporary of Tolkappiyar, describes the Tamil land as limited on the north by the Venkata Hills and does not claim that its domain extended further beyond. Kakkai-padiniyar, also an ancient Tamil poet, mentions distinctly that Vadugu, the land where the Telugu language is current, formed the northern limit of Tamil.3 It will thus be patent that long before Tolkappiyar’s times Tamil and Telugu had been current side by side as two independent languages. To judge by the Tamil literature now available, Telugu would seem to be entitled to an antiquity equal to that of Tamil.


During the Sangam period the Tamils knew the Andhras under the name Vadugar4 and their language as Vadugu. Similarly, the Telugus called the Tamils by the name Aravar and their language Aravam. The word Vadagar is only a variant of Vadugar, a northerner. Just as the country to the west (Kudakku) became Kudaku so the country to the north (Vadakku) became Vadagu and, later, changed to Vadugu.5 This derivation is also indicated by the lines of Kakkai-padiniyar already quoted and by the phrase ‘Vadugar of the North’ in another work of the Sangam age. It seems that even in the times of the Last Sangam the country north of the Venkata Hills was considered the country of the Vadugar. 6


Some of the Kanarese too seem to have been called Vadugar.7 In consequence of the Andhras and the Kanarese having been called by the common name of Vadugar in the days of the Sangam, it has been surmised that they were then one race and that their language too must have been known as Vadugu and that it is only later that Kanarese must have branched off into a separate language.8 But llam-Ko-Adigal, the great epic-poet of the Sangam age, mentions distinctly those who speak the Kanarese language as Karunadar,9 and other classical writers make mention separately of the lands where Kanarese and Telugu were respectively spoken.10 The northern portion of the Mysore state and parts of the districts of Bellary and Anantapur seem to be known even now as Badaga-nadu and the Kanarese of those areas are known as Badaga-varu and Badaga-natti-varu. A poem of the Sangam mentions an Erumai as a ‘Vadugar chief’ in whose land flowed the river Ayiri.11 This is evidently the Agiri which falls into the Tungabhadra. It is this country which was probably the extreme southern limit of the Asokan empire as is evidenced from inscriptions found in the vicinity.


If these be so, it follows that the Telugus who were to the north, and the Badaga Kannadas who were to the west, of the Tamils were known generically as the Vadugar. The poet, Ma-mulanar, says that it is beyond the lands of a chief of the name of Katti that the language changed into that of the Vadugar.12 Perhaps the chiefs well-known as Katti-Mudaliyars in the days of the Vijayanagar empire and later belonged to the lineage of this Katti.13 It is worthy of note that these Katti-Mudaliyars occupied those portions of the Tamil country which Ma-mulanar assigned to Katti. There are reasons to hold that the land called Vadugar-munai and placed beyond the lands of this Katti is identical with the Badaga-nadu we have already mentioned.14 It is these Badagas that seem to be referred to by St. Sundara in one of his psalms on a shrine in the Kongu country.15

In Vembatturar’s Tiru-viliaiyadal Puranam the Jain king who captured Madura is called in one place ‘the Karnataka king’ and at another place as ‘the Vadugu king’.16 These references show that the term Vadugar was also used to devote the Kanarese, some of whom seem latterly to have settled in the Tamil country.17


The famous commentator Nachchinarku-Iniyar and the author of the old commentatory on the Nannul state that of the lands surrounding the Tamil country those in which Kanarese, Vadugu and Telugu were current were distinct entities.18 The Telugu country being treated as distinct from the Vadugu country, we have justification for holding , that they had the Badaga country in mind in drawing the distinction. Otherwise we should have to suppose that they treated the northern part of Andhra as the Telugu land and the southern part as the Vadugu land, and seek support for this view in the fact that the Tamil country itself was divided into the Sen-Tamil and the Kodum-Tamil lands. However this may be, the later Tamils ignored what distinction there might have been and applied the terms Vadugar and Vadugu to the Andhras and theAndhra language.

No evidence is forthcoming to show that the Andhras styled themselves Vadugar. So too, the Tamils never called themselves Aravar, though a lexicographer who lived so late as three centuries back chronicled that word indicated the Tamils. To the ancient Andhras the Tamils were known not as Aravar but as Aruvar. When “]ayam-Kondan describes the terror which the Tamilian army of Kulottunga-Chola struck into the hosts of the Kalinga king, he says that they applied the name Aruvar to the Tamils.19 That it is only the term Aruvar which was current in early times is clear also from an old stanza on the same war quoted in the Dandi-Alangaram.20 These instances establish that the Andhras called the Tamils in early days by the name of Aruvar. Those regions of the Tamil land which adjoin the Telugu country are Aruva and Aruva-vada-talai and the people of these regions were known as Aruvalar. We may therefore take it that the Vadugar applied the name Aruva first to the people of these regions and then applied it generally to all Tamils.


II

Let us now look at the relationships between the Tamils and the Vadugar. In the first period, the earliest, the Tamils and the Andhras lived in amity; in the second the Tamils attained supremacy over the Andhras and in the third the position was reversed. The first period is the age of the Sangam: the early Tamil works known as the Sangam poems do not show that, even though there might have been small differences on the frontiers of the Tamil country, there was any marked antagonism or that any serious conflicts arose in consequence. In two of these poems we have mention of the Vadugar helping Nannan and the Mauryas but they seem to be Kanarese of the Badaga country and not Andhras.21 The three great kings of the Tamil country, the Cholas, the Pandyas and the Cheras, do not seem to have been guilty of the ambition to bring under their control lands beyond the Tamil country. It would even seem that they were so attached to ‘the good land where Tamil was spoken’ that they had no love for mixing it up with lands where strange tongues were current:22 the evidences in support of this view are many and convincing. When kings of the north made incursions into the south the three great kings of the Tamil country drew together and repulsed all their attempts at gaining even a foot-hold.23 The Tamil country was therefore soil which even the Napoleons of the north had to let alone. The strength of the Tamils in even the days when practically the whole of India had come under the suzerainty of Asoka is obvious from the circumstances that his over-lordship stopped short of Mysore and that he sent ambassadors to the three great Tamil kings. Nor did the famous empire of the Guptas cast its shadow over the Tamil land. In those early days, the Tamil were neither ambitious of ruling over others nor supine enough to be ruled over. Evidences of the Vadugar attempting to lay their hands upon the Tamil country being wanting absolutely, they must have lived in peace and concord with the Tamils. But after the days of the Sangam the relations changed. The change was due not to their own differences but to the invasions of kings from north. When the northern kings of the Pallava and Chalukya dynasties conquered Andhra and Karnataka their eager eyes were cast on Dravida as well. It is thenceforward that we mostly hear of conflicts between the Tamils and the northerners in the Tamil country and beyond. Light on these masters is thrown by the poems from Pandik-Kovai quoted in the commentary on Iraiyanar’s Kalavuiyal, the hymns of the Vaishnava saints and others and some copper plates. Wars were fought between the Tamils and the Vadugar when the Palla vas took root in the Tamil land. An old Tamil poem speaks of how the herds of cows taken from the Vadugar in war by the army of the Pallava who ruled over the Tondai country were capable of giving milk for the whole world.24 Like the Pallavas, the Chalukyas too established themselves in Vengi, a part of Andhra, and in course of time came to be called Andhras. The Cholas had to advance against them and wage furious wars in the Telugu country. The northern wars of Chola-kings like- Rajaraja I and Raja Rajendra I are well-known. History records how Vira-Rajendra conquered Vengi and made a gift of it to a Chalukya of the name of Vajayaditya. In the commentary on the Vira-soliyam, a Tamil grammar composed in honour of this Vira-Rajendra, occurs a stanza which chronicles this event.25


The Cholas and the Chalukyas of Vengi were not merely ranged as opponents in war: they entered into marital relations with each other and three generations of Chola princesses entered the Vengi family: as brides it is known that Vimaladitya I the Eastern Chalukya (1015-1022) married Kundavai, daughter of the great Chola king Rajaraja I; Rajaraja-Narendra (1022-1061) the son of the Chalukya Vimaladitya I married Ammanga-devi, daughter of Rajendra I, himself son of Rajaraja I, and Vikramaditya I of the Western Chalukya line married the daughter of Vira-Rajendra Chola. These alliances tended bring peace to these dynasties, and in the process of the Eastern Chalukya alliances of the Cholas brought the Andhra country under the dominion of the Tamils. When the Eastern Chalukya king who was the husband of Ammanga-devi, daughter of Rajendra I died about 1062, the son of that couple, prince Rajendra, ascended the throne of the Andhra country. The direct Chola line, having become almost extinct at this time, and the Chola kingdom having no king at its helm, this Rajendra came down from the Andhra country, put forward the claim that the Chola throne was his in his right as the daughter’s son of Rajendra Chola I, laid hands on the kingdom and mounted the Chola throne in 1070. Thus he became the lord of the Andhra country and the Chola empire. It is this Rajendra that is well known under the name Kulottunga I and under the epithets ‘Abhaya’ and ‘Vijayadhara ‘. He deserved the title ‘the Lord of both lineages’, inasmuch as he was entitled to two crowns,—that of his father, the Chalukya king, who belonged to the lineage of the Moon, and that of his maternal grand-father, the Chola king, who belonged to the lineage of the Sun.26 His prowess was felt by his enemies all round and he emerged victorious in every contest. Anantavarman Choda-Ganga, king of the Kalinga country, having once failed to pay tribute in time, Kulottunga sent an army under his commander-in-chief, Karunakara- Tondaiman and brought that country under his control. This war it is that furnished the theme for Jayam-kondan’s Kalingattup-parani, a war-song the like of which no other literature in the world can boast  of. He ruled the Chola empire from Gangai-konda cholapuram, in the heart of the Tamil country, nominating his sons Vira Chola and Vikrama Chola as Viceroys of Vengi. On his death in 1120 A. D., his son Vikrama Chola ascended the throne. It is in his days and in those of his son Kulottunga II and his grand son Rajaraja II that great Tamil poets like Ottakkutta and Kamban and Pugalendi flourished. These kings too were rulers over both the Tamil and the Andhra countries and some of the viceroys whom they sent from the Chola country settled in Andhra and in a generation or two turned Andhras. ‘Velanandu’ and ‘Pottappi’ Cholas are examples of this process.


The Tamil scholars of those days were also well versed in the literary works of the Andhras. The Yapparungala-virutti, a renowned commentary which must be attributed to the tenth or the eleventh century A. D., cites an old prosodical work in the Andhra language said to have been written by one Vanchi. Though the reading in the printed books is ‘Vanji,’ some manuscripts may be taken to yield the reading ‘Avaranji’ (Aparanji ?). Competent Telugu scholars are not able to trace an author of this name. The existence of so early a prosodical treatise shows that the Andhra literature must have been very rich. Here we have proof positive that the absence in the present day of Telugu works earlier than those of Nannayya-Bhatta (11th century) cannot support the view that there was no Telugu literature prior to his days.


Rendered from TAMIL by R. SESHADRI-AIYANGAR, B.A., B.L.


The Tamils and the Andhras – PANDIT M. RAGHAVA AIYANGAR

This link was sent by Arunan from Canada

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D.Rajesh writes on 25-05-2010

Dear Sir,

I visited Nilgiris recently and was starting to wonder about Badagas and Thodas. Having seen your website about Badagas, here are my thoughts on their origin.

To start with and to be frank I did not know much about Badaga culture except for the fact that they are unlike general “hill people” that one could see. That is, I was aware that Badagas were much more advanced in culture and civilization (should not misunderstand that hill people are of less culture; I am just trying to contrast two different things and hence nothing is inferior here) than normal tribal population. Now that I am trying to understand the origins of Badagas, my theory will be as below.

Of course I am just guessing and have no scientific or scholarly basis for my statement. You can call it a conjecture but based on what I see about Badagas.

My take is that Badagas were both the people of plains and of the hill and have always been like that. I am not so convinced with the theory of “migration” into the hills by Badagas. No advanced culture (as that of Badaga) migrates to forest and into difficult lands when threatened. They either modify their culture when there is an invasion or a drought or they migrate to other lands which can yield good produce.  No civilization goes into forest land. The best they do is they will return back when the threat subsides.

In Badaga case, I am not taking this theory of Badagas moving into Nilgiris from plains to “start” a culture for a simple reason that a culture like that of Badagas who have developed their unique lifestyle, religious identity (inside the fold of Hinduism), commerce and other advanced social aspects would not “move” or “migrate” into a difficult terrain when there is a problem.

Hence the crux of my theory (or should I call it a guess) is that Badagas, when faced with a tumultuous Muslim invasion (maybe more than once) just moved from the plains to their relatives in the hills. Since Badagas were a chain of people from the plains to the hills, once they joined with their relatives in Nilgiris, they did not have a reason for coming back again to the plains. Maybe ancient Badagas felt comfortable and safe to carry on their culture and religion without problems in the misty hills.

Here when I say multiple invasions, my guess is that, Badagas of the plains (when I say plains, it does not mean a pure plains near rivers but the land just below the hills) started moving upwards first from the eastern side (Tamilnadu side) around 14th century on account of Malikafur’s romp into Tamilnadu and in 18th centure, from Western side due to Deccan and Mysore Sultanates.

Here I am also taking the liberty of guessing that all along Badagas of the plains and that of the hills had marriage and other alliance’s going on continuously!

As I am writing this, I should confess I know nothing about any caste system or any division inside the Badaga community. I am not even aware about the social structure of the Badagas.

Being the case, I am guessing that there might be a division of hierarchy based on maternal side. The reason is that Badagas if indeed were the people of both Hills and plains as I am guessing, then the hill Badagas will take their women from the Badagas of the plains as a matter of inheriting and sustaining the culture which naturally any people of hill will feel as a pocession of the people of plains that are nearer to other centers of civilization and particularly nearer to renowned Hindu centers.

Hence my guess is that Maternal side of Badagas will have a higher status than the paternal. Again, I may not be correct at all and could be seen as someone who is throwing out wild statements. I do not deny that and I agree I could be 100% wrong. But based on what I see about Badagas as a continuance of a flourishing Hindu civilization which is the only strong connecting point I have now (since I have not read anything scholarly on Badagas yet), I think I may be a bit correct in my assertion that Badagas are indeed original inhabitants of Nilgiris along with Todas.

My guess again is that, when I say the hill Badagas, they probably were the caretakers of the estates of the plain Badagas, giving royalties and produces and having a constant relationship. As I said earlier, the plain Badagas may have strengthened their bond with their relations in the hills by giving their daughters in marriage to them. This may have helped in two ways. One as said earlier, the hill Badagas have one in their family a representative of their kinsmen from plains who have been tutored on main aspects of Hindu-Badaga culture and the plains men in return will have sustained their bond with their brothers uphill.

That is why, I feel Badaga community and folks never really look like “tribal” ones (again, I do not mean anything bad when I say tribal. I am using that just to indicate a community’s distance from prevailing mainstream civilization aspects. No other intention please) rather they seem to be as good a torch bearer of Hindu civilization as any other Indian community.

Hence in short, Badagas I feel were indeed a original inhabitants of the hills and also the plains. My take is 20% Hills and balance plains about six hundred years ago. This changed slowly and by 18th and 19th century it almost became 100%. The remaining ones in the plains might have relinquished their Badaga status and might have “converted” themselves into other castes or communities (this is because Indian castes are not constant as it is made to believe. Historically caste and communities of India have continuously dispersed, regrouped, changed and consolidated based on the prevailing political situation) and might have also “merged” into other castes and communities. That’s why I feel one might not find a full fledged Badaga in the plains (I might be wrong on this).

Again I wish to reiterate that I might be completely wrong. I confess again that my assertions are based only on conjectures and my personal opinion only.

If my so called “theory” looks like nonsense, please ignore. I do not intend in anyway to impart legitimacy to my unsupported “conjunctures”!! It is just that I some thoughts came to me while I drove back from Ooty and I also happened to see your website and hence decided to throw my few thoughts.

Rajash,thank you very much for spending a lot of time to think and write about Badaga Origin. There is plenty of truth and it makes a lot of sense when you say that ‘Badagas … indeed were the people of both Hills and plains’. I am convinced that the ‘migration from Mysore’ theory, if accepted, took place over a period of long time running into centuries. But, I am also convinced that Badagas were and are one of the original inhabitants of the Nilgiris like the Todas. Rajesh’s view is the same.

This lengthy letter [commets] of Rajesh needs a much serious study and indepth analysis and I will attempt to do so soon.

Thank you once again, Rajesh ! – Wg Cdr JP

(((((((((O)))))))))


Badaga Origin

[From wikipedia.org, the free encyclopedia]


The badagas have been considered to be of dravidian origin due to the fact that the language spoken is Dravidian but it is also disputed that their customs, cultural aspects are distinct and not closely related to other Ethnic Groups hence their origins are in debate.

Natives of the Nilgiris

Of late the theory put forth by leading scholars have strongly criticised the migration theory and have said that the badagas are natives of the Nilgiris. Philology states that in the beginning languages existed without scripts and only later scripts were developed. Hence this seems to be a justification that the badagas were completely an indegenous people due to the absence in their script, but an ancient indegenous group would have a higher population or would have been completely extinct which questions the validity of this theory.With regard to religion, prior to converting to Hinduism the badagas were nature worshippers, even today worship stones with nature being a central theme can be found in the Nilgiris, Nature worship suggests that the badagas like the ancient Greeks and the Egyptians were an ancient ethnic group. 

The European Connection

Others state that the badagas have migrated from Central/East Europe. It is justified that the Badaga ethnic group from Central/East for survival had to accept the local language after migration to southern India and then to the Nilgiri Hills (the Nilgiris then belonged to the Vijayanagara Empire), hence the dialect of Kannada. The badagas hence adopted the language for verbal communication and did not accept the Script as it was foreign to them. The date of the second migration from present Karnataka is probably said to be around 1500 AD - 1600 AD. The population vs time graph indicates that the original badagas were just a handful of about 15 - 30 persons. However the European migration theory has no credible evidence but still under debate.

Genomic Studies i.e a Y-chromosome DNA marker test on the badagas have resulted in the badagas belonging to the broader R1a and specifically R1a1 Haplogroup. A good percentage of people in Central Europe, East Europe, Scandinavia and the people of Punjab also belong to this R1a1 Haplogroup. Hence this has been suggestive of the fact that the badagas are of an Eurasian origin.

The other Ethnic group from southern India which belongs to the R1a1 haplogroup are the Kodava whose customs and cultural aspects for centuries have been said to be related to the Badagas.

Nevertheless, the origin of the Badagas is still under question. But, their economic growth has been well documented.

[ Note: EBHARI writes in badaga.org “that one can post verifiable(?) information which may or may not be absolute(ly correct) in wikipedia.org (..related to Badaga community). One can create his/her own article and post in this encyclopaedia which is free for all” ]


Bellie Jayaprakash adds  that wikipedia has brought in some restrictions to restrict spamming or adding wrong info 


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No articles, images and other material in this website can be reproduced without the permission of
Wing Commander Bellie Jayaprakash B.E.(GCT,Madras Univ).,M.B.A (FMS, Delhi Univ)
© bellie jayaprakash 2006-2013

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