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Brief History of Nadavara, once the valiant cavalrymen of Vijayanagara

March of Patriots

RAJ GAONKAR
SEETA NARAYAN GAONKAR
March of Patriots

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It makes me feel humbled for having worked with my mother


up to the last days of her life to compile the book of her choice.

Raj Gaonkar

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There are three elements essential in the matters of the State, Food, Military equipment, and
Confidence of the people in the ruler. Of these three, Military Equipment is the least
important, Food being the second important, and Confidence of the people being the most
important. Most men rather die of starvation than in war, but nevertheless most men do die
of old age. Lacking in Confidence of the people, a state cannot survive.

Confucius

Rahstrakutas were defunct because their politically correct pluralism was inundated by the
trendy Advaita doctrine. Kalachuris failed since their bias towards Jainism was not accepted
by the popular Virashaiva philosophy. Vijayanagara crumbled as the self-centered Aravidu
regime could not hear the voices of its subjects. It was always the people who determined the
destiny of the kings and kingdoms of the past, just like the mainstream expressions of the
democratic elections.

March of Patriots

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Raj Gaonkar
Seeta Narayan Gaonkar

March of Patriots
Second Edition 2017

NC
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March of Patriots

Published by NC Nadavar.com
2 Ibbani, Asthagrama Layout
Magadi Main Road
Bangalore 560079, India

The edition is published by NC Nadavar.com in arrangement with


Futura Digital Color Press, Chamarajapet, Bangalore 560018

Book Design and Interior Illustrations by Raj Gaonkar

All rights are reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or
by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage
and retrieval system without the prior written permission of the publisher. Please do not participate
or encourage electronic piracy of any written material of this book. Your support of the publisher’s
right is well respected.

Second Edition 2017


First Edition 2010

Printed in Bangalore, India for NC Nadavar.com

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Peace on Earth

“March of Patriots” is dedicated to the “Political Sufferers” of Uttara Kannada for


their unconditional participation in the Non-Violence Movement and the Quit India
Movement to create “Independent India”, the largest democracy in the world.

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Nadavara, once the cavalrymen of Vijayanagara

National Geographic

Ruins of Hampi

The Vijayanagara Empire was ruled by four dynasties for two hundred and thirty years. The
Sangama Dynasty ruled for one hundred and fifty years, and the Salva, Tuluva and Aravidu
dynasties controlled Vijayangara for the next eighty years. The subsequent dynasties ignored
the novel cause, on which Harihara and Bukka founded Vijayanagara to save the vulnerable
Hinduism from the clutches of Islamic invaders. Virtually each successive dynasty with self-
centered ambitions and spiteful schemes distorted the nobility of the empire to climb the
coveted throne. The misled citizens lost hope in the rulers and self-confidence of the empire
slowly began to wane. Vijayanagara, the “City of Victory” lost the “Battle of Talikota” fought
at Rakkas Tangadi to the Bahamani confederates in January 1565. Scores of Nadavara
cavalrymen perished in the battle and their wives self-immolated in the honor of departed
husbands. The surviving Nadavara families fled their homes leaving behind all the
belongings except for the gold they owned. They took refuge in the thick Malenad forest of
Sonda and Gersoppa kingdoms. A series of conspiracies by the deceitful deputies ultimately
led to the demise of glorious Vijayanagara, which was measured up to the celebrated Roman
Empire. Strolling through the ruins of Hampi invokes the metaphors attested to
Vijayanagara by the distinguished ambassadors from overseas. Mr. Jawaharlal Nehru in
“Glimpses of World History” wrote, “Vijayanagra, what a scandalous waste of riches!”

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Acknowledgement

The book, “March of Patriots” is a narrative history of the Nadavara Community, vividly
filled with the events of the past thirteen centuries. It is a splendid illustration of the
Nadavara history, quintessential story of the people who loved their kinship. The
journey through the history of Nadavaras begins with the earliest Rashtrakutas of the
eighth century and ends with the Nadavara participation in Satyagraha, India’s struggle
for independence. March of Patriots isolates the thin slivers of Nadavara past from the
history of India to track down their origin and migratory routs. The compilation of the
book has successfully conveyed the character and idiosyncrasies of the ancient
Nadavaras to draw connections to the present-day Nadavara ethnicity.

The unedited book, in its style and structure, is somewhat different from a typical thesis
on history. The book was deliberately unedited to preserve the authenticity of the
concepts presented by the contributors. According to Raj Gaonkar, more historical
researches may be added to the book as they become available. The historical chronicles
are matched with the oral literature to bring the untold Nadavara history to the surface.
Many facts in “March of Patriots” are English translation of the primary works in
Kannada of a handful of Nadavara authorities on the subject. Rare collections of three
history buffs of three different generations, Seeta Narayan Gaonkar, Gopal Kencha Naik
and Ramakrishna Kawari revealed many untold stories that might help to explore
further the Nadavara heritage. Particularly the works of Ramakrishna Kawari, a Sanskrit
scholar and educator gave authentic perspective to March of Patriots. Also some input
from other subject matter experts on the topic were valuable references for the narratives
in the book.

The Nadavara community is the resultant of two ancient sects, Kalachuri and
Rashtrakuta. The consequential presumptions were made from the explanatory
descriptions of historical writings and anecdotal stories. As mentioned by Raj Gaonkar,
he was able to discover only a small fragment of the Nadavara history and it presents a

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wide scope to further the research work on this topic. March of Patriots beyond the
generalized description of the community focuses on the history of a few Nadavara
villages. Nadavaras are well aware of their extended families up to the last four to five
generations. Tracing family trees is one way of tracking the origin of Nadavaras. Each of
the twenty-four Nadavara villages has a story of their ancestry to tell but requires
dedicated effort. I hope that a collective effort of the community will continue to
document the history of Nadavaras in its entirety.

I am thankful to Raj Gaonkar for the recognition of Late Ramachandra K Naik, Torke, for
his contributions to the education of the Nadavara community and also to the education
in the northern Karnataka. Ramakrishna Mandira in Torke (1934), the institution for
reviving Nadavara Sangha, was made possible by the active involvement of Mr. R.K
Naik. Along with Mr. Sannappa Gaonkar, he was instrumental in building Gandhi Nivas
(1952), a hostel for poor students. He published the magazine, Sudharaka from Dharwar,
for twenty years to educate people of Bombay Karnataka. He was the editor of Prakasha,
the magazine published from Belgaum in late forties. Undoubtedly his life was
dedicated for promoting education and teaching. March of Patriots, the first book of its
kind owes to Raj Gaonkar’s effort in researching and presenting the untold compelling
history of Nadavaras in an inquisitive fashion. It provides lot of information regarding
the Nadavara past. Still, many events or anecdotal delineations may not be included in
this book as there are many Nadavara untold stories to be heard from other experts. I
thank Mr. Raj Gaonkar for including the work of my aunt and mother in law, Mrs. Seeta
Narayan Gaonkar in the book.

Udayaraj Maneshwar Nayak

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Contents

1. Prologue to Nadavara History 15

2. Who are Nadavaras? 19

3. Origin of Nadavara 25

4. Medieval History of Nadavara 37

5. Kalachuri Connection 45

6. Cavalrymen of Vijayanagara 59

7. Migration to Malenadu 69

8. Natives of Konkan 79

9. British Suppression of Kshatriyas 97

11. Independence of India 111

12. Religious Belief 137

13. Living Style of the Past 151

14. Ancient Nadavara Marriages 165

15. What’s Next? 169

16. References 177

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Prologue to Nadavara History

Over three thousand years ago, arguably the Aryan nomads transformed their settlement
in the northern India into an organized society. After establishing dominance in north,
they started their expedition towards southern India. The Aryans, who formed the
Kshatriya faction, dedicated warrior contingent, instituted the laws of war,
Dharamshastra. Sanskrit words Kshetra (territory) and Kshatriya (warrior) originated
from the Zoroastrian (ancient Persian language) word Kshatra, meaning power or
supremacy. Dharmashastra governed the ethics of the Kshatriyas and conventions of
Dharma Yudha (lawful war) that replaced unconventional wars. The bylaws of war were
created to protect the innocent men, women, and children from the rampage of wars.
The kings were selected from the Kshatriya sect because of their martial ability. A
relatively small group of people fought the wars within the constraints of Dharmasutra,
the strategies and regulations of war. The warriors, based on their ability and
compatibility were selectively chosen and, therefore, constituted a smaller group. In the
antiquated agrarian economy, Brahmins studied Vedas; Kshatriyas protected their land
and the rest were involved in production of sorts to feed people of the land. However,
Dharmashastra and Dharmasutra held back the progress in the art of warfare, but
promoted sophisticated philosophies and altruism. Ancient Indians instituted righteous
combat codes, which paradoxically promoted peace.

Ancient civilizations all around the world were aspired to explore and surmount greater
images than their own. The ambitions of well-planned and hard-fought wars of the
Greek and Roman Empires went far beyond the glory of victories to reach romanticized
places of bliss and happiness. Julius Caesar invaded Egypt to marry Cleopatra.
Alexander the Great conquered India to reach the mythical Land’s End. But the peace-
loving Indians were intrigued by the mysticism of cosmos. The Vedic teachings of India
did not trace the stereotype traditional religious path. The objective of the original Vedic
philosophy was to create an adaptable religion that could adjust to the dynamic state of

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ever-changing physical environment. Vedic preaching made Indians to be the


intellectual idealists to admire the mystery of nature and its infinite potential energy.
“What’s afterlife?” haunted them for centuries. They attempted to define the spiritual-
world ignoring the possessive human qualities. In the process, the art of warfare and
usage of weaponry were ignored. The progress in combative skills was lackluster when
compared to many other contemporary civilizations. Except for a few great empires such
as Maurya, Gupta, Vijayanagara and Mughals, ancient India was ruled by a countless
number of small kings. They fought numerous wars for territorial gains or expansion of
their religious beliefs. The Indian dynasties were short lived as the empires and
kingdoms struggled to sustain their realm because of the counteracting forces of the
diverse ethnicities.

The ancient and medieval western civilizations created substantial records of calligraphy
to proudly establish their ownership on the material and intellectual realms. The
testimonial records left behind still exist as legendary monuments of their heroic
existence. Ancient India till the middle of first millennium was believed to be one of the
cradles of civilizations; from India, the strings of culture, language, art, and science had
spread all over the world. Scholars from Arabia, Persia, Balkan, Mesopotamia, Turkey,
Greece and China came to the universities of ancient India (Taxila, Nalanda, Ujjaini and
Puspagiri) to study astronomy, mathematics, pharmacology, and philosophy. However,
India never asserted the pride of ownership on its creativity or inventions, as all along
Vedas preached the grandeur of selflessness. India, historically, somewhat lacked the
habit of preserving its establishments or citations. In addition, the frictional forces caused
by the ethnic differences destroyed scores of the valuable works. The architectural
marvels of Vijayanagara, now in a massive hill of rubble, is the standing example of the
ills caused by the religious hatred that haunted India for centuries. In the absence of
ancient records, it is relatively complicated to fully narrate India’s past, unlike the
extensive descriptions of the history of Europe.

The historical writings of India pertaining to ancient and middle age eras were at times
skewed to appeal to certain religious beliefs and ethnicities. Usually stories accepted by
the masses were the ones that prevailed. The history was written to please the
mainstream instead of stating the lackluster truth. The authenticity of historical reports
or versions was often adulterated by compassionate bias or political contrive. Also, the
lack of relevant information supporting the historical events made it rather difficult to
connect and conclude the facts of the ancient times in a chronological order. The
anecdotal stories, even though at times subjective, played an important role in filling the
voids created by the absence of data. Consequently, the interpretation of historical reality
somewhat differed amongst historians. There were many variations of the same story;
some were even falsified. Frequently, historical event reasoning was established on
prejudiced or fantasized views. There are instances where India’s historical

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corroborations were influenced by various religious epics or mythology that added


mystical tone to the history. Even in certain textbooks, history was narrated like fairy
tales of the Wonderland. Mythology may not be real but certainly can be used to
understand the culture and thinking of the people of the past. However, arguments over
the trustworthiness of historical writings can be looked upon as an ongoing healthy
corrective process, which involves a combined effort of many researchers of many
generations.

“March of Patriots”, is an investigative historical essay that presents the aspirations and
hardships of Nadavaras since the dawn of the Rashtrakutas of Malwa and Kalachuris of
Rajputana. The history of the Nadavara expeditions suggests a typical Kshatriya
migratory mold of the medieval times. Thirteen centuries of history-spanning events
were chosen exclusively to make Nadavara the central theme. In the early historical trace,
Nadavaras were schemers and perpetrators. During and after colonial rule, they became
reactors to situations. Their exodus throughout their history was initiated entirely as a
quest for incursion. Occasionally their passion for dominance and their action to uphold
authority did not concur and they faced grave consequences resulting in retreat to
salvage defeats. Their migratory routes were sidetracked and took unintended
diversions in search of havens to safeguard their lives. At times their missions turned
into fatal catastrophes and still they continued to live as warriors. The risky martial
occupation of many generations tempered the community to face adverse conditions
with unity and dignity. Much of their philosophical stance was hinged on their struggle
for independence and self-gratifying ego.

Gaetano Salvemini, a teacher and historian at Harvard University, once said “The
historian has before him a jigsaw puzzle from which many pieces have
disappeared. These gaps can be filled only by his imagination.” The March of Patriots
tries to view the hazy reflections of the Nadavara history through a vantage point. The
noteworthy and obtrusive manifestations of the past are based on the enlightened
writings of various historians and anecdotal stories. The traditions of the past are
gradually receding to make place for the changes due to modernization. Some of the
ancient Nadavara deeds in the areas such as, war and peace, arrogance and protection,
lineage and community, are reflected in bits and pieces on conduct and customs of the
present generations. Nadavaras still practice some of their ancestral Kshatriya traditions
that were resourceful data points to build a bridge between their past and present. The
book occasionally projected Nadavara present traditions backwards into the past to
assimilate their journey through their adventurous history.

The evolvement of human psyche is partly dependent on the experience of social


surroundings and influence of cultural background. The knowledge of ancestry learnt
during childhood helps the growth of self-awareness and confidence during the

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developmental stages. As the knowledge of the past expands, the sense of one’s existence
becomes noteworthy. That is why the people in the Western World give such an
importance to their family trees. The writings of Indian history were scant before the
Westerners wrote numerous annals on India’s past. In many instances the history of
India written by the English was erroneous including the migration of Aryans from the
central Asia. Generally, a historical writing maintains its continuity only if each
successive endeavor adds to the work of former generations. Many facts in “March of
Patriots” are the translation of the primary works of authors of the past century. The
book in general is a chronicle of descriptive history of Nadavara. In many instances the
chronology was interrupted by the later or earlier events to provide better understanding
of the historical proceedings.

The book tackles many debatable issues with methodological research based on
historical data and viewpoints of experts on the matter. Anecdotal data, which at times
referred in social sciences may be from poor observation or biased thinking. Also, seldom
the writers of the successive generations bent the stories to suit the thinking of their time.
With the help of many authorities on the subject, efforts were made to rationally analyze
and portray the available information close to reality. In addition, the analyses may open
new avenues for the further research of the Nadavara history. However, the assembled
isolated historical events fill only a small fraction of the thirteen centuries of Nadavara
journey from the Malwa region and Rajputana to the southern Konkan. Hopefully, the
data may be helpful to broaden the history of the Nadavaras of Uttara Kannada and also
of the other contemporary ethnic groups.

Raj Gaonkar, New Haven

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Who are Nadavaras?

The social stratification system of Vedic times was based on the profession of people.
And the Kshatriya group of castes might have been a blend of many diversified groups
of people with varying backgrounds who joined armed forces at large. The Indian
ethnicities are assorted mixtures of Dravidian, Aryan, Mongolian, Greek, Kirat, Hun,
Nishad, Scithian, Persian, Gandhara, Kamboja, Pashthun, Turkic, and Mogul
civilizations. In the last three hundred years British and to a much lesser extent
Portuguese left imprints of the western culture which became the binding force that held
diverse ethnicities of India together to form one secular nation. The philosophy of India
is the combination of the Vedas of India, Upanishads of Nepal and Tibet, Ahura Mazda
of Zoroastrianism, Islamic theology of Arabia and the Testaments of Judaism and
Christianity. The people of India have been living with cultural and religious diversities
for over two thousand years. The Kshatriyas of ancient India, because of the mobile
nature of livelihood, were exposed to many traditions and cultures.

The “Nadavara Community” (Nadavara Samaj) is a typical Kshatriya specimen


representing the fusion of multi-religious groups of divorce ethnicities of the
subcontinent. Since the traceable Nadavara historic times, they belonged to the “martial
heritage”. Feudalism in India started in Rajputana after the conclusion of the Gupta
Empire and spread in North India between the sixth and ninth centuries. Feudalism is
an ancient political system in which the ruler of a kingdom distributed land to his noble
men on the condition that they would provide military services in exchange. The noble
men leased the land to peasants for annual payment of a portion of the produce grown
by them. The noble men collectively formed a defense force that protected the kingdom.
It is highly probable that Nadavaras were feudal warriors since the medieval age. The
name Nadavara was derived from Rashtrapati or Rashtrakuta around the ninth century

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during the Rashtrakuta rule of South India. In the long course of struggle for existence
they carried the awareness of their heritage and endeavors of their ancestors. Nadavaras
are acknowledged by most people for their participation in Satyagraha. They strongly
opposed the alien British rule of India that lasted almost for two centuries. Nadavara is
a well-educated, relatively well-to-do, moderately religious, and religion tolerant
community settled in Ankola and Kumta of Uttara Kannada, Karnataka, India.

Salt Satyagraha of 1930s is a good example of Nadavara communal unity. The ages
ranging from 25 to 50, two generations of Nadavaras joined the campaign of Satyagraha.
The Nadavara Samaj behaved almost like a fraternity. Nadavara communal compassion
was an illustration of esotericism. Socially, within the community, they presented
themselves with egalitarian or democratic behavior. Early in the twentieth century,
Nadavara community was an ethnic group similar to Jewish kibbutz which evolved
through guarded, interactive and interpersonal behaviors. Constant suspicion of
unexpected enemy attacks made Nadavaras to live cautiously in isolated locations. After
migrating to Konkan, yet again they replicated their ancestral mode of habitat, which
was to isolate themselves from other communities living in the region. Up till the middle
of the twentieth century, Nadavaras lived in well-defined small hamlets secured by
uneven rustic compound walls built out of laterite on the ridges of Sahyadri, riverside of
Ganagavali and Aghnashini and water's edge of the Arabian Sea. The villages were
congested with tightly built 50 to 200 homes. High density of populace living in close
quarters and speaking adulterated unique dialect of Kannada gave rise to similar values
which in turn strengthened unity within the villages. They were conventionally obedient
to the community.

Nadavara old fashioned moral values were discretely distinguished by right and wrong
without the connecting grey middle area. The pecking order of the family and also
community was dependent on age. Even now the older members of the community are
revered by the younger generations. Nadavara women were keen on raising a
responsible stable family. The mothers taught community values to their kids. The basics
of the Nadavara village culture and way of life were built upon the communal unity and
safety. Even now a Nadavara village known as “Nadavara Koppa” is bunch of
residences owned by the interconnected Nadavara families. The impelling force binding
the community was acquired from the Kshatriya routines of the past. Face-to-face contact
among Nadavaras was quite relaxed, but with an outsider or stranger the discourse was
cautiously reserved. Living in seclusion under the dire environment during the East
India Company’s occupation, the community became economically strangled and
socially stagnated. After taking part in Satyagraha, Nadavaras became more social with
the public sphere. Satyagraha gave Nadavaras an opportunity to meet and relax with

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many multiethnic people. Still the old time villagers have the tendency to segregate
among themselves.

Jainism was born of the Vedic philosophy along with Hinduism and Buddhism almost
three millenniums ago. Its belief in the Vedic morals always matched with the codes of
religious sacredness that Hinduism had to offer. Being part of the same philosophy, the
Vedic religions mingled to live together harmoniously and also sibling rivalry like
contests every so often flared up among them. The Nadavaras in the past followed
Jainism. During the time of Keladi Nayakas and Mysore Sultanates, Nadavaras were split
between two religions, Hinduism and Jainism. The earliest families that converted to
Hinduism around the turn of the eighteenth century identified themselves as Jain
Nadavaras, just to say they once belonged to Jainism. The nineteenth century Colonial
gazetteer referred Nadavaras living in Malenadu as Jains and the ones living in Konkan
were termed Nadagirs, Nadigs and Nadors which might be slangs in Konkani or
Marathi. The village clerks (Shanaboga) who prepared village records for gazetteer prior
to the independence of India in the South Konkan were Konkani Brahmins. Nadavaras
in Hiregutti and Torke even today present themselves as belonging to Jain Nadavara
kinship. Being a minority group of Jains during the early days in Malenadu, Nadavaras
expressed a sense of unusual closeness among themselves. More than two centuries after
the conversion to Hinduism, they still live with the similar minority complex. Even a
remote relationship for them is quite valuable. Although they are meeting for the very
first time, humble expression accompanied by loud informal speech of greeting becomes
their body language to show the close communal intimacy. The Kannada dialect used by
Nadavaras has odd accent which markedly differs from the mainstream Kannada. The
unfamiliar figure of speech even confuses the Kannada speaking people around them.
The rhetoric consists of unusual metaphors and hyperboles. Thick accent and unusual
structure of the Nadavara Kannada is possibly influenced by an unknown distinct
language.

Equality is politically correct concept. Still practicing equality in a world filled with
irregular settings of wisdom, economy and social standings is challenging. There is no
issue more important than social equality and communal unity for Nadavaras. Yet
prying into private lives of community members is a habitual bent in their mannerism.
However, slanderous accusation against a community member is treated like social
crime. The awareness of independence and equality naturally prevails in self-regulated
and self-reliant close communities. In a subtle manner, their mode of life is supportive of
women’s emancipation and gender equality. Both men and women participate in social,
cultural, and political activities with equal interests. In a Nadavara family, a girl is
entitled to education, and allowed to make decisions just like her brother. Familial

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relationships in the Nadavara culture for sons and daughters are somewhat based on
equality, but not so long ago the gender inequality existed in ancestral property
distribution. Even now among some Nadavaras only sons have the entitlement to
parental property. The women shoulder most of the domestic responsibilities including
the education of the children. Admirably, they are almost equally educated and are as
competent as their counterparts.

The unique physical and behavioral traits of both men and women are shaped from their
combative warrior ancestry. Nadavaras even now try to practice endogamy. But of late
the marriages outside the ethnic bounds are becoming more frequent. The purpose of the
old-fashioned endogamy was to preserve the Kshatriya qualities of ancestors. The
soldierly spirit is warrior’s egotism to save the country or to become martyr which is
distinct from the natural self centered ego. The battlefield ego of the past is still imbedded
in Nadavara moral fiber. The British rulers classified Nadavara community under the
martial race and tried to recruit them to the Colonial army. Nadavaras loved their
freedom. They believed that serving the alien British rulers was disgraceful. For the
Nadavaras Vijayanagara, perhaps the future looked somewhat fragile as anything could
happen in the next crusade. The risky livelihood made them extraverted by nature. The
insecurity of life was disguised by the display of coolness in social settings. Occasionally
even now they are swayed by haughtiness and become oddly fixed. A landlord of
Bhavikeri, disputed over a coconut tree with his neighbor for eleven years (1911 to 1922).
The coconut tree died before the feud between families was settled in a court in Bombay.
The landlord had to bear the total responsibility of the expenses, Rs.18000, which
included compensation to the defendant. In settling this saga filled with egotism, he
bankrupted his family and liquidated most of his land to repay the loan. During those
years, it was a big bundle of money. At times the sudden outbursts of Nadavara youths
annoyed the other communities living in the region, but still they were tolerated because
of their supportive nature in general.

Nadavara women were good storytellers. Usually elderly women told mythological
stories and indigenous folklores to young children in evenings. The narrations mostly
portrayed the bravery and heroism of characters from the Hindu epics. The military
occupation was their livelihood for many centuries and they were reluctant to take up
any other line of work up until the Colonial control of Uttara Kannada in 1800AD. It’s
hard to pinpoint when exactly Nadavaras became agriculturists. Perhaps after Haidar
Ali conquered Uttara Kannada in 1762 many Nadavara families started amassing land.
But for certain, they learnt the rudiments of rice farming after the Colonial Uttara
Kannada. They became adapted to cattle breeding and raising. Bullock carts became
standard vehicle of transportation of goods and people. Due to the limitations imposed

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by the British on the martial sects, Nadavaras embarked on land cultivation. Gradually
by the turn of the twentieth century, when the Nadavara landholdings were shrinking
and financial conditions were declining, they started manually laboring in their own
farms. Even under dire circumstances, they refused to labor on someone else’s farm.
According to the unofficial communal statute of the Nadavara community, working as a
laborer for wages was forbidden like begging and prostitution. They tried to be self-
sufficient. Pride and arrogance were obvious in their mannerism.

By the mid nineteenth century Nadavaras lived in twenty-four hamlets situated on the
banks of Gangavali and Aghanashini rivers. The hamlets were isolated to the extent no
other community domiciled anywhere close to their neighborhood. Abstractly it was a
sort of derivative of fortification that was practiced by the warriors. Like the secluded
military bases of present, isolation of Kshatriyas had been always a precautionary step
against adversarial attacks. Such peculiar behavior may perhaps be looked upon as an
innately acquired apprehensive nature of Nadavaras. Their villages have evolved to
accommodate people from other communities with relaxed self-protective protocols.
After settling in Konkan, they donated gold to temples and land to artisans, manual
workers, and Harijans. However, when infuriated or oppressed, they responded
impulsively without fear. The ancestral crusader-like temper is genetically imbedded in
the fiber of the community. That very quality led Nadavaras to actively participate in the
freedom movement of India. Till the first half of the twentieth century, Nadavaras were
mainly landowners and farmers. In the beginning of the twentieth century, the
community produced many primary school teachers that became the springboard for the
subsequent generations to further advance in education. Since 1940s, they have been
diversifying their interests toward education and trade. By the end of the twentieth
century barely 10 to 15% of Nadavaras were solely dependent on farming.

Seafood more or less has become the staple food in Nadavara diet and occasionally
prepare chicken and mutton dishes. Two and a half centuries ago, prior to migrating to
Konkan they were resolute vegetarians. Increasingly they became “fisharians” after
adopting Hinduism and also in Konkan fish was available in abundance. Fishing or
hunting in the evenings became trendy in some villages. The expanded dietary menu
gradually made them more interested in non-vegetarian food. The fish curry became
very popular around the end of the nineteenth century. After moving to Konkan they
concocted a new genre of non-vegetarian dishes. Aromatic coconut was used extensively
and especially in the fish and chicken curry. The non-vegetarian food not so long ago
was cooked outside the living quarters. Nadavara cuisine did not spread beyond their
villages; their cooking was never promoted even in the local restaurants. They are fond

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of hosting friends and relatives for a chicken or fish curry fiesta; the mutton dishes are
not generally served.

Unlike the ancestral conservative school of thinking, the contemporary Nadavara beliefs
are frequently rationalized to facilitate the short term goals. In the mid sixties, to have
better access to job opportunities, Nadavaras relentlessly appealed to the Government of
Karnataka for fifteen years to classify them under the economically depressed category
like the other agricultural communities of Karnataka. Some Nadavaras argued to the
extent that Nadavaras should be given concessions in the government job market
because of the sacrifices made during Satyagraha. In 1967 Ramakrishna Hedge then the
Finance Minister of Karnataka ironically responded, “If the Nadavara community is
economically deprived, then who in Karnataka is not?” However, in late seventies when
Devaraj Urs was the chief minister, Nadavaras got what they bargained for but according
to them the change didn’t reward them as expected. Did they anticipate too much?

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Origin of Nadavara

Raj Gaonkar

In ancient times migration of individuals was very rare, but the group mobility of
Kshatriya crusaders was fairly common. Throughout the Nadavara past, they chose risky
routes with ups and downs, twists and turns, and were stranded many times in many
places. In actuality, their current destination, Uttara Kannada, was also a stranded place
where they went into hiding after losing in Vijayanagara. Flattery and despise certainly
alternated with the rollercoaster history of Nadavaras. They were legendary warriors.
Their history was never portrayed in a coherent fashion. Over the last century many
inconsistent references were made to Nadavaras with little or inaccurate knowledge of
their past. Nonetheless, contradictory opinions can also be supportive of historical
explorations. In Null Hypothesis (Statistics) an assumption is accepted until proven
wrong by the propositioned contradictory hypothesis. "A criminal is innocent until and
unless he is proven guilty” is an illustration of Null hypothesis. Similarly, historical
statements can be evaluated against the conditional evidences to disprove flawed
hypotheses. Nadavara was considered to be an energetic, united, and closely knit small
community. Contemporary historians admire Nadavaras for their recent patriotic
participation in Satyagraha, the independence movement of India. Beyond the recent
status quo recognition, who were Nadavaras? Where did they come from?

Genetic mutation is the change in chromosome structures caused by deletion or addition


of nucleotides which are small sections of chromosomes. The changes due to mutation
alter the genetic codes imbedded in chromosomes and changes are passed on to
offspring. The imbedded inherent genetic information carried by chromosomes defines
the characteristics of species. Normally mutations trigger defects and infrequently
amend the existing shortcomings. According to Darwin’s theory of evolution, mutation
caused by the natural selection favors reproduction of stronger breed of species and the
ones that cannot adapt to genetic changes vanish in time. A man or a woman trying to

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find a healthy sexual partner is an example of natural selection. Since the origin of life
99% of the life forms have disappeared. The human race is among the very small fraction
of species that were approved by the commandments owing to “survival of the fittest”.
The human race (Modern Homo sapiens) originated in East Africa 160,000 years ago and
began its journey out of Africa to the other continents approximately 60,000 years ago.
The creation of different races is a result of the mutation process, which is the nature’s
way of building protective shields against the severe climatic conditions. The people
closer to equator developed dark colored melanin layer to deflect the ultraviolet rays
which could cause skin diseases. The pigmentation decreases in people living closer to
the poles.

Genetic genealogy, the study of changes in molecular structure of DNA, is applied to


identify the history of one’s pedigree. According to the American Journal of Human
Genetics of March 2003, an international group of geneticists studying Y-chromosome
data discovered that 0.5 percent of the present male population of the world or roughly
16 million men carried Y-chromosome of one individual who lived approximately 1,000
years ago in Mongolia. His Y-chromosome was found in the men living in Iran,
Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Kirgizstan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and
Mongolia. It’s believed that the primary 1000-year-old Mongolian forefather was
Genghis Khan’s (1160 – 1227) great grandfather. Genghis Khan as he conquered other
kingdoms, his soldiers most of whom were the clans of Genghis Khan, killed innocent
men in masses and seized their women. Such hideous war exploit was exercised by the
successors of Genghis Khan for the next two hundred years. The Turkic king, Timurlane
who founded the Timurid dynasty of central Asia was a descendent of Genghis Khan.
After his conquests he too like Genghis Khan mass executed men and captured women
for his pleasure almost like a religious rehearsal. He totally obliterated Delhi in 1398 and
executed more than 100,000 men. The Mughals who conquered India in the sixteenth
century were also the descendants of Mongols but were unquestionably more civilized.

The physical and behavioral traits are the vivid displays of codes ingrained in one’s
genetic scripts. The genetic codes of father in Y-chromosome and of mother in mt-
chromosome are transferred to the children or to the successive generation. The Y-
chromosome is passed from father only to his son without any change, like a Xerox copy.
Each male carries special genetic code in Y-chromosome that is identical to that of his
forefather who lived thousands of years ago. Y-chromosome is a record of one’s heredity
found in every male presently living. The modern advances in the genetic genealogy
accurately maps out the ancestral line with a high level of confidence. The genetic
anthropology is successfully used to trace back the origin of the human race and also to
understand the evolution of different races. The modern scientific methods would be

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more precise than any historic hypothesis to trace the Nadavara ancestry and their
migratory routes.

The biological anthropologists in the twentieth century determined one’s race and
ethnicity from the shapes of head, nose, eyes and oral cavity. A long narrow head versus
round broad head, a short wide nose against thin long nose, epicanthic fold small eye
contrasted with double fold wide eye and distinction between wide shallow oral cavity
and narrow deep oral cavity differentiated the origin of races and ethnicities ranging
from equator to the North Pole. In 1951 Dr. Iravati Karve, an anthropologist stayed with
Ramachandra K. Naik in Ankola, while conducting the study in physical and social
anthropology of the rural people of North Kanara. From her visual observations of a few
she commented, “Nadavara features are so distinct that they are easily identifiable
among the other inhabitants.” It was a neutral statement and was not a complement as
though it sounded like one. The cephalic index is the ratio of the width to length of a
human head and the nasal index is the ratio of the greatest breadth of the nose to its
greatest height (length). The head is dolicho cephalic when index lies between 70 and
74.5%. The nose is mesorrhine if nasal index lies between 71 and 84.9%. As per the data
published by Dr. Karve in 1953, Nadavara cephalic index, 73.50% places them in dolicho
cephalic group and nasal index, 74.46% falls into mesorrhine category. In plain English
the data can be interpreted as Nadavaras had long head and fairly wide nose. However,
the sample size and validity of Dr. Karve’s survey data is not known. It’s rather difficult
to draw any conclusion from Dr Karve’s study. According to Prakash P. Gaonkar, the
president of Nadavara Sangha, the Nadavara population in 2010, including the
Nadavaras living outside Uttara Kannada, was around 30,000. Based on the past
population growth sequence of India, the estimated (retrogressed) population was
approximately 2100 in 1750 AD. The scattered population in Uttara Kannada, Dakshina
Kannada, Udupi and Goa in the eighteenth century migrated to a small borough in
Konkan. “Birds of a feather” kind of social behavior suggests that the families of common
descent came together to live in Konkan.

Immigrants who settle in a new place essentially learn the local language, but the new
language is always spoken with an accent slanted toward their former language (mother
tongue). New settlers resorting to local language or choosing a third language known to
both sides (local people and new settlers) as medium of communication is called lingua
franca or common language. English language is the lingua franca in most of the non-
English speaking countries around the world. In lingua franca exchanges, effectiveness
of communication becomes more important than grammatical correctness. The Indian
immigrants in the U.S are ethnically pigeonholed by the federal government in one
category, Indian Americans, even though they hail from diverse Indian ethnic groups.

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English is the lingua franca for incoming immigrants from the non-English speaking
countries including India; Indians speak English with an accent tinted by their native
vernaculars, Hindi, Gujarati, Telagu etcetera. In general, the English speech to certain
extent is influenced by the vocal mutations of their native languages. The resulting
change in accent (syllable) is called inflection of words. The inflections of nouns,
adjectives and verbs produce different effects on vocal sounds. Accordingly, the
inflection of verbs is called conjugation and declension for nouns or adjectives. The
Indian immigrants in the U.S speak English but majority of them have heavy Indian
accent which at times becomes unintelligible to Americans.

Historically, spoken dialect and shared customs of intimate people living together
defined a sect or community and differentiated them from the rest of the populace.
Nadavaras speak Nadavara-Kannada, which is a modified or corrupted form of
Kannada. It has significant phonological variations from other Kannada dialects. Perhaps
Kannada was initially lingua franca for Nadavaras and after many years modified
Kannada became their vernacular. The morphology of Nadavara Kannada is similar to
that of Marathi, which raises a few unanswered questions. Did Nadavaras migrate to the
land of Kannada long time ago from elsewhere? Did their former language have any
influence on Nadavara-Kannada? What language did they speak prior to adopting
Kannada? Prakrit was the sacred language of Jainism and was also used in the
propagation of Jainism. Maharashtri is one of the Jain dialects originated from Prakrit in
the fifth century. It was also the parent language of Gujarathi and Marathi. During
medieval times, Prakrit was the official language and Maharashtri was the spoken dialect
of the Malwa region. Historical facts indicate that Maharashtri spread widely in Gujarat
and Maharashtra during the rule of the Rashtrakutas of Manpur in the sixth and seventh
centuries.

The ancient migration routes of Rashtrakuta and Kalachuri dynasties indicate that they
dwelled in Elichpur (Achalpur, Maharashtra) and Mahismati (Maheshwar, Madhya
Pradesh) for two to three centuries before moving to Latur and Mangalaved in the
southern Maharashtra. The phonology of Nadavara Kannada is distinct from the other
dialects of Kannada. The syllable rhymes of Nadavara Kannada sounded so different
that the local people of Uttara Kannada even ridiculed their speech. The initial verbal
communication of Nadavaras in Karnataka might be a mixture of Maharashtri and
Kannada. The trails of bias to Maharashtri or Prakrit can be detected in the accent of
Nadavara-Kannada. Many of the words used in Nadavara-Kannada seem to be similar
to Prakrit. For instance, the Sanskrit words, Putra, Ishwara, Jihva, Veera, Shringara, and
Dhwaja are pronounced in Prakrit as Putti, Isra, Jeva, Bera, Singara, and Daja
respectively. Similar pronunciations or declension of nouns can be heard in Nadavara

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Kannada. Quite frequently used verbs ending phonetics of Prakrit -da, -la, -ka, -na, -aha,
-ya are commonly used as the sentence ending phonetics in the speech of Nadavaras (-
kada, -dala, -ka, -na, -ha, -yo). Nadavaras speak with loud voice and a different tone than
that of classical Kannada. The vocal inflection of the Nadavara speech sounds to some
extent like Marathi, which is a descendant of Maharashtri. While living in Maharashtra
Nadavaras perhaps spoke Maharashtri. The cited relationship between Nadavara-
Kannada to Prakrit needs a detailed colloquial speech analysis including grammatical
patterns to find their linguistic roots. Between the fourteenth and the sixteenth centuries
living in Vijayanagara, which was the melting pot of Kannada and Telagu languages, the
Nadavara Kannada possibly had influence of Telagu speech sounds. The phonetics of
Nadavara Kannada is partially spread in the colloquial Kannada of many other
communities living with them in Uttara Kannada.

What was the nuance behind the earliest caste identities? Was it the way of the Nadavara
life style that brought the distinction to their tribe? It is not clear when and how the
Nadavaras became warriors by profession. The first mention of Nadavara is traced back
to supposedly the earliest Kannada book, Kavirajmarga by Nripatunga, the Rashtrakuta
Emperor during the ninth century. What was the basis for the derivation of the caste
name, “Nadavara”? It is hard to know without the historical sources and is left for mere
speculation or hypothesizing. The ancient Indian caste system was created to tackle the
division of labor. A caste was recognized by the profession of its people and accordingly
the caste name was originated. Nadavara means husband (Vara) of the country (Nad).
The etymology of the caste name, Nadavara probably originated from the word
Rashtrapathi (Husband of the Country), which was the moniker used to address the
noble Kshatriyas of the ancient Malwa Kingdom.

During the era of the Rashtrakuta Dynasty of Manyakheta, Nadavara was possibly the
branded nickname of the Rashtrakuta clan. Nadavaras were rulers from their ancestral
lineage. “Nadavara” was never mentioned before it appeared in Kavirajamaraga in the
mid ninth century. It was also implied in the end of the nineteenth century Census of
Madras that the caste name Nadavara was based on their recent profession, agriculture.
But when Nripatunga mentioned of Nadavaras, probably there were a dozen extended
Nadavara families that existed to make up for the Rashtrakuta Royalty. In Nripatunga’s
superlative description of Nadavaras, there is no allusion made to Nadavaras being
landlords. Nadavaras did not dwell on farming till they were forced out of the martial
course at the beginning of the nineteenth century. They started working in their farms
only when they lost much of their land to the land reformation acts implemented 125
years ago by the British Raj.

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The languages endlessly evolve with the newer generations, in order to reach higher
communication levels. The rampant boost in the human activities is shifting the socio-
linguistic dynamics to a higher plain, which is ultimately affecting the pronunciation of
words and the structure of sentences in almost all languages, including the largest
spoken language, English. Just within the last few decades, “Nadavara” was pronounced
with distinctive slangs such as: Nadavara, Nadava, Nadavarau, Nadav, Nadgichi,
Nadge, Nadig, and Nadvy. However, Nadavara-Kannada pronunciation, Nadavara
might have been the original vernacular from which all other deviant modulations were
initiated. Every so often slang words expand into the mainstream and become trendy.
The recent Nadavara generations are shying away from the original Nadavara-Kannada
and are tending to adopt conventional Kannada dialect. Consequently, the slang term
Nadavaru was created to go well with their modern dialect. As the name “Nadsavaru”
sounds like plural noun name, the singular noun, Nadavara was further modified to
“Nadava” by a few. In Kaviraja Margha, Nadavaragal is the plural of Nadavara. It is also
quite possible that the Nadavara of North Kanara had no relation to Rashtrakuta of
Manyakheta and the caste didn’t have a standardized name; perhaps Nadavara was
branded differently by the Nadavaras living in different villages.

Possibly the Rashtrakuta dynasty belonged to the Nadavara clan and the Kalachuris
merged with Rashtrakutas much later. There are two hypotheses supporting the origin
of Nadavaras prior to the Rashtrakuta of Karnataka. The earliest Kalachuri Dynasty of
Tripura ruled Rajputana and Malwa. In the sixth century they moved to Mahismati
situated on the Narmada River. The Jainism started to decline around the eighth century
when Shaivism launched aggressive conversion of Jains in the southern and western
parts of India. One school of thinking is that in the seventh century, during the Badami
Chalukya Dynasty, a group of Kalachuris came to Maharashtra from Rajputana as
crusaders to protect Jainism. By the tenth century, they established their own base in
Mangalawed, Maharashtra and in the twelfth century some of them migrated to Kalgod
(region around Adlur) in Uttara Kannada. The relics of ancient Jain shrines of the twelfth
century of northwestern Karnataka strongly suggest the migration of Kalachuris to the
south. Even today the Nadavaras with Kalachuri family names such as Kalnayaka,
Kalaguji, Kalapnamane and Kalmane reside in the region. Many of the Nadavara families
worship ancient Kalachuri shrines and selectively observe the rituals of Jainism.
Supposedly they are the descendents of Kalachuris. Supposedly the Kalachuri King,
Bijala (1130-1167 AD) was an ancestral relative of some Nadavaras currently living in
Bhavikeri, Ankola.

Numerous established historical facts support the present common belief that Nadavaras
were the Rashtrakutas of Manyakheta (Malkhed) and that they initially migrated from

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the Malwa Region (Western-Central India). Almost certainly the Nadavara clan was
kinfolk of the Rashtrakuta dynasty. The anecdotal stories of the Nadavara ancestry
relating to Kalachuris are convincing and consistent with the history of the Kalachuri
monuments of Uttara Kannada. The medieval relics of Adlur region present great
potential to explore the Kalachuri history. Kalachuris and Rashtrakutas migrated to
southern India in two separate small groups, consisting of a small number of families
with self-motivated goals. The Rashtrakuta Dynasty ended after losing to the Western
Chalukyas in 952 AD, but Nadavaras, the Rashtrakuta clan survived even after the fall
of the Rashtrakuta Empire. While hiding in the Malenad region of Uttara Kannada, they
played an important role in establishing the Hoysala Kingdom that became the largest
empire in South India of its time. On the other hand Kalachuris founded the Southern
Kalachuri Kingdom in Kalyan. After losing to Kalyani Chalukyas they moved to Kalgod,
Uttara Kannada.

The world population has grown from 170 million in the beginning of the first century
AD to 6.8 billion in the beginning of the twenty-first century. The population growth was
hyperbolic or the growth pattern resembled the letter J. In the last two hundred years,
the world population has reached the asymptotic stage (vertical part of the letter J), which
is a sign of instability of the world population and probable collapse of the human
population. In India the population grew from 28 million in the first century to 45 million
in the tenth century, 150 million in the beginning of the nineteenth century and 400
million in 1950s. At the turn of the twenty-first century the population of India exceeded
alarming one billion. In the last two thousand years the population of India burgeoned
by the multiplication factor of 36 and in the last thousand years by 23. Based on the
historical population growth of India, the retrogression estimated that approximately 600
Nadavaras (Rashtrakutas) migrated to Manyakheta in the eighth century. Later on
between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries, approximately 400-500 Kalachuris (Salwa)
joined the original group of Nadavaras (Rashtrakuta). Yet after the merger of the two
sects, the Salwa families retained their original Kalachuri identity.

What kind of forces brought the two sects together many centuries after their migration
from the central India to Uttara Kannada? Was it their common religious belief (Jainism)?
Was it their comparable customs or equivalent social status? One or many socio-cultural
factors of that period might have contributed to the union of two sects to form one
communal Jain cluster, the contemporary Nadavara community. The Kalachuris
descended from the Sakas while the descent of Rashtrakutas of Central India is unclear.
Both sects were known as Rajputs of Rajaputana. But “Rashtrakuta” or “Rashtika”
appeared before the term "Rajput" was named for the warriors of the western and central
India. Badami Chalukyas in the seventh century called the people living in western

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Malwa as Rajputs. The Kalachuris were Shwetambaras whereas the Rashtrakutas


belonged to the Digambara denomination. The match making within a few families of
Kalachuris in Maharashtra was difficult and inter-clan marriages with their feudatory
dynasty, Rashtrakutas, were honored. Being Jain immigrants from the same region, they
initially maintained cordial relations.

Endogamy or marrying within one’s caste is a bylaw in Hindu caste system. Nadavara
marriages were strictly endogamous. Among Nadavaras endogamy was practiced for
conserving the Kshatriya pedigree. How far back in the history, did they become
conscientious of their genealogy? Gregor Mendel's principles of inheritance describe the
way by which the traits of parents are passed on to the offspring. Mendel’s discovery of
inheritance was established before genome was discovered. In humans each cell consists
of 23 pairs of chromosomes in the shape of double helix. Each pair is made up of one
helix donated from father and one from mother. The characteristics of offspring are
attained from the genes of both parents. Mendel from the experiment of breading pea
plants concluded that both the external traits (phenotype) and internal nature (genotype)
are acquired from both parents. Certain external traits can be hidden in one generation
and can reemerge in the next generation or after many subsequent generations. Also, two
offspring of the same parents, one may have red hair and blue eyes and the second one
may have brown hair and brown eyes. In one sibling the genetic code displaying blue
eye is dominant and genetic code corresponding to brown eye is recessive and in the
second sibling the dominant and recessive genes defining eye color are in reverse. The
dominant genes always mask the recessive genes. However, both the siblings would be
having the same genetic composition. The external appearance of Nadavaras is so
diverse that it doesn’t conform to consistent traits. In the past probably many centuries
ago during medieval age, the Nadavara clan might have been formed from many ethnic
groups. It was perhaps chastely founded on the ethics of martial profession. The
variation in Nadavara external traits might be the resultant of the mixture of multiple
ethnicities with varied backgrounds. However how and when did they become followers
of Jainism? Or did some different cultural groups belonging to Jain religion joined to
establish a single martial assemblage?

In the early medieval times the status of Kshatriya was acquired either by the profession
or by inheritance. Around the ninth century the Sat-Kshatriya class was created among
Rajputs and Rashtrakutas to differentiate the genealogy of the warriors from birth to the
other soldiers. Even Sat-Kshatriyas at a certain point in time had to form their clan based
on profession and the conservation of genealogy of Kshatriyas by birth was an
afterthought. The kings and princes of the Rashtrakutas of Manyakheta parlayed their
royalty to strike series of matrimonial alliances with the Kalachuri women, who were

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renowned for their good looks. Krishna II (878- 914 AD), his son Indra III (914- 929 AD)
and Krishna III (939- 967 AD) were married to Kalachuri princesses. Both sects
pompously maintained their clan identities. The ruling families of the Kalachuris of
Kalyan lost their hold over the kingdom after the death of Bijala (Vijjana), but they
still managed to rule for another two decades until 1184 AD. The Kalachuri expatriate of
Kalyan joined a handful of families of Salwa chiefs (Kalachuri) already living in the
Adlur Fort in Uttara Kannada. The Kalachuri families were sought after by the
Virashaiva mercenaries. In Uttara Kannada, perhaps they were dependent on the
Rashtrakuta clan, who initially exiled in Malenadu since the Rashtrakutas were pushed
out of Manyakheta. The Kalachuris gradually began to merge with the
Rashtrakutas. The blended new union realized that they did not have the much needed
critical population to survive as Jains, in the midst of the looming trend of Virashaivism
and gradually accepted Hinduism.

The growing anti-Jainism agitation in the Keladi Kingdom was the most likely reason for
Nadavaras to opt conversion to Hinduism. Secondly, the Nadavara vital authority was
lost after the fall of Vijayangara. Changing to the dogma of Hinduism was analogous to
joining majority or ruling political party. The adaptation process to the new religion was
cautiously slow, due to their esteemed love for Jainism. The conservatives among
Nadavaras lingered on to their beloved Jain monks almost like extended family
members. A few decades ago, they still visited the Jain temples in Sonda, Haduvalli and
Moodbidri. The gradual acceptance of Hinduism confirms that their conversion was
voluntary and was not with any kind of mandatory pressure at gunpoint. However,
many of the Jain rituals were sustained even after the transition to Hinduism. There was
no immediate impact on their life style. Amazingly, the tiny community continued to
hold together when it was split between Jainism and Hinduism. Such a communal union
beyond the differences in religious faiths might be because of their conformist
community values that were more important to them than the religious denominations.

During the centuries of adventurous passage, except for a few skeptical flare-ups, the
major incidents mostly indicate amicable relations between Kalachuris and
Rashtrakutas. In the sixth century, Rashtrakutas were feudatories of Kalachuris. In the
ninth century Kalachuris became subordinates of Rashtrakutas. In the fourteenth
century, at the beginning of the Sangama Dynasty, the commanders who belonged to the
Rashtrakuta ancestry helped Salwas to join the military of Vijayanagara. In the mid
fifteenth century when Salwas gained the ruling authority they welcomed the soldiers of
Rashtrakuta origin to the Vijayanagara military. As both Rashtrakuta and Kalachuri
clans hailed from Rajaputana, they naturally grew to be closely intertwined in the
southern India. The recurrent matrimonial dealings between the two Jain Diasporas

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ultimately gave birth to the contemporary Nadavara community of Uttara Kannada.


However, according to the historical writings and other evidences, the original
Nadavaras were the clan of Rashtrakuta dynasty of Manyakheta. The methodical and
organized writings of India’s ancient history are so scanty that it’s difficult to trace the
historical background of Indian ethnicities beyond a few hundred years without
hypothesis and assumptions. Even though the origin of Nadavara hasn’t been fully
understood, from the speculation of many historians, Nadavara clan is of Rashtrakuta
lineage. Nadavara physical attributes mainly soldierly stature and facial bone structures
convincingly vindicate that in the past they belonged to martial ethnic group. The left
over residue of Jain traditions in their culture and the closeness of the Nadavara Kannada
phonetics to that of Maharashtri make believe that Nadavaras migrated from central
India to Karnataka. Much of the history of Nadavara migration from Rajputana is not
easily accessible through discrete data points. The present day Nadavara culture,
traditions, dialect and even more compellingly the traits were resourceful in framing
their remote past. Several hints found in the old records were probed to patch up missing
pieces of the puzzle. Anecdotal stories were resourceful in shaping the blurred images of
the distant past.

A small number of Salva families were thinly scattered all over the present day Uttara
Kannada since the twelfth century. The Salva domicile in Adlur can be traced back to the
time of the southern Kalachuris of Kalyani. Later on during the Vijayanagara Empire
they lived in Bilgi, Sonda, Gerusoppa and Haduvalli. The Salva ruler’s (Jitta Nayaka)
family dwelled in Kagal for more than three hundred years until the British occupation
of Kanara. The Salvas of Uttara Kannada belonged to Shwetambara sect of Jainism. The
ancient Jain relics in Adlur, Sonda, Bilgi, Gerusoppa, Haduvalli, Ankola and Mirjan
stand as the living testimonials of the Salva presence in Uttara Kannada. Many of the
Nadavara Jain traditions followed up until the turn of the twentieth century indicate that
Nadavaras were indisputably the followers of Jainism prior to accepting Hinduism.
Nadavara arrivals from Sonda, Gerusoppa, Kuchinadu, and Bilgi to Konkan are well
substantiated facts. The Nadavara families who lived in Vijayanagara since the
fourteenth century sought refuge in Malenadu in the sixteenth century before moving to
Konkan in the late eighteenth century. The Salvas of Adlur, Gerusoppa, Sonda and
Kuchinad seamlessly merged with the refugees of Vijayanagara. The Nadavara sect,
confluence of Kalachuri and Rashtrakuta clan, during its extensive long journey to Uttara
Kannada might have mixed with other ethnicities and probably absorbed broad-ranging
strata of traditions. Smaller social groups in the past in search of eligible bachelors have
broken the barriers of restricted caste system and married into other castes. In contrast a
number of Nadavara families were converted to Islam and Christianity.

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Who were the medieval Nadavaras? Who were the Nadavaras of Vijayanagara? Were
they related to the Nadavaras of Uttara Kannada? Many historians and elite thinkers
such as Shamba Joshi, Venkanna H. Naik and Dinakar Desai linked the Nadavara past
to Vijayanagara. But how did they conclude that the ancestors of Nadavaras of Uttara
Kannada were the warriors of Vijayanagara? The question, “To what extent the
Nadvaras of ancient times were genetically similar to the present day Nadavaras of
Uttara Kannada” is still searching for a clear-cut scrutiny beyond the hypotheses of
historians. There are some compelling rationales based on historical researches
connecting the events of Vijayanagara to the Nadavara past. History gets compressed
and rewritten very frequently and at times revisions even swing farther away from facts.
The modern scientific methods in archeology and anthropology involving isotope
analysis methods for mapping the ancient routes of expeditions and molecular biology
for tracking the ancestral DNA can be engaged to track the origin of Nadavara and its
travel through history to fill the existing gaps in the historical findings.

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Postulated Nadavara Travel Through History

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Medieval History of Nadavara

The stretch of thousand years from the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the fifth
century to the fall of the Eastern Roman empire in the fifteenth century is referred to as
“medieval period” in the European History timelines. The invaders from the western
and central regions of Asia sporadically attacked the North-Western India from the turn
of the first millennium. During the early part of the medieval period the warlike sects
including the militias of Jats and Rajputs were formed to oppose the invaders. Later in
the mid medieval period Rajputs of Rajputana as the nation builders started travelling to
the southern India. All through the medieval period India was split into many kingdoms
and was ruled by numerous dynasties. Religions controlled the constitutions of
kingdoms and the people’s lives. The Nadavara history during the medieval period was
associated with Rashtrakuta, Hoysala, and Kalachuri dynasties. In the sixth century, the
earliest Rashtrakutas, who belonged to the Rajput clan, ruled the Malwa Region. The
Chalukya King, Pulikesi II, defeated Harshavardhana of the Vardhana Dynasty in 620
AD and made truce, which expanded the Chalukya Empire up to the south of the
Narmada River. Rashtrakutas assumed feudatory responsibilities of the southern Malwa
region. In the seventh century, Rashtrakutas moved southward into Maharashtra and
made Achalpur (Elichpur) their capital. The feudatory kingdom spread from
Narmadapur in the north to Nanded in the south and Bargi in the east to Bharch in the
west. Rashtrakutas were fortunate to control the most fertile region of the Chalukya
Empire, which was irrigated from the Tapi, Godavari and Narmada rivers. Akola and
Akot became the commercial centers. Rashtrakutas financially backed the Chalukyan
wars. Gradually, due to their financial muscle, Rashtrakutas gained prominence. In 753
AD, Dantidurga conquered the Chalukya king, Kirtivarman, and established the
Rashtrakuta Kingdom. He ruled Maharashtra and parts of Karnataka from Achalpur.
His mother, being the Gujarati Chalukya princess, Dantidurga, had access to insider

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information regarding internal conflicts within the command of the Badami Chalukyas.
Moreover, his influence was bolstered by the wealth accumulated from the land rich
province of Vidharba.

The present argument of historians labeling Rashtrakutas on a linguistic basis is


unreasonable as at different times in the history, they were Rajasthanis, Maharashtris
and Kannadigas. Historically, invaders imposed their own values and way of life on the
country they occupied whereas drifters or immigrants embraced the ethnicity of their
new homeland. Like modest immigrants Rashtrakuta invaders seamlessly merged with
the cultural fabric of Karnataka. Due to the conflicting historical data, still it is not very
clear when Rashthikas became Rashtrakutas. Was it in Achalpur or Manyakheta? The
earliest mention of Rashthika, the rulers of Malwa, was found in the extant inscriptions
of the seventh century in Manpur. Another seventh century inscription of Achalpur
mentions Rashtrakutas as the rulers of Kanauj, a city in Uttara Pradesh. Perhaps there
were a few closely related Rajput families that ruled parts of the northern India, ranging
from Gujarat to Uttar Pradesh and interchangeably they were called Rashthika or
Rashrtrakuta. However, in Achalpur and Manyakheta the clan was known as
Rashtrakuta, which meant “union of countries” and also “head of a country.” In the ninth
century the Emperor Nripatunga for the first time coined the term Nadavara for the
Rashtrakuta sect.

During the glory days, the empire was divided into sixteen Rashtras. Rashtra was
autonomously ruled by a Rashtrapathi. Even women were appointed to head Rashtras.
The taxation system was dependent on the production of material goods and affluence
of Rashtras. A progressive welfare system was instituted to support the deprived
regions. Commendably they encouraged cultural pluralism, which was the acceptance
of all religions and ethnic groups. Sulaiman, an Arab merchant who visited Rashtrakuta
King, Nripatunga in 851AD referred to the realm of Rashtrakutas as the empire of
Kanauj. According to him the Balhara (Rashtrakuta king) was the fourth greatest ruler in
the world. Rashtrakuta king appointed Musalman magistrates to implement certain
Islamic laws. Trimurti, the representation of the earliest pluralism was the badge of the
Rashtrakuta clan. The Trimurti Narayana Temple in Bandalike near Shikaripura,
Karnataka built by Rashtrakutas suggests their sectarian pluralism. Their capital was
Manyakheta, present day Malkhed, Karnataka.

The Rashrakuta Dynasty belonged to the "Digambara" branch of Jainism. The Jain
Sadhus who in recent years performed Nadavara religious rituals belonged to
Digambara sect. The Rashtrakuta period marked the boom in the Sanskrit and Kannada
literatures. The legendary Rashtrakuta Emperor, Nripatunga (Amoghavarsha I, 814- 878

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AD) was a great poet. He reorganized Kannada literature into prose, poetry, drama,
rhetoric and critique in his book Kavirajamarga (Poet's Kingly Path). He also wrote
Prashnottara Ratnamalika in Sanskrit. The literary scholars in his court compared him to
the Mouryan Emperor, Asoka. But, in his own writings, Nripatunga associated himself
with Jimuthavahan, the hero of the Naganada epic. In his famous book Kavirajamarga,
Nripatunga portrayed the Nadavara clan in a majestic style, “Nadavaras are brave
soldiers, shrewd kings, handsome people, people of merit, great poets, philosophers,
civilized, formidable and distinctive.” In his descriptions of Nadavaras, Nripatunga
proudly acknowledged himself being the “Shrewd King” and “Great Poet”. The earliest
mention of the Nadavara appeared in Kavirajamarga but who were the Nadavaras
before Kavirajamarga? Were they Rashtrakutas or Rashthikas of Malwa? Nadavara
might have been a linguistic rendition of Rashtrakuta or Rashtrapathi. However, is there
any connection between the ancient Nadavaras of Kavirajamarga and Nadavaras of
Uttara Kannada?

In the army of Rashtrakutas not all soldiers were Kshatriyas; able men of all social orders
were recruited to armed forces. A small group belonging to the Rashtrakuta clan was the
recognized brand of Sat-Kshatriya (noble warrior). The Sat-Kshatriya cult did not belong
to the Hindu social stratification (caste) system. During the Rashtrakuta era, the Gurjars
of Rajputana and a few other Jain Rajput warriors also called themselves Sat-Kshatriyas.
Throughout the Rashtrakuta reign, Sat-Kshatriya marriages outside the faction were
forbidden. The marriage with another Rajput Sat-Kshatriya clan was accepted. However,
with the king’s consent, a Sat-Kshatriya woman could marry a Brahmin, but the children
born to them were not considered to be Sat-Kshatriyas. Rashtrakutas were almost
fanatical on preservation of their genealogy. Capital punishment was common, but Sat-
Kshatriyas were exempt, probably to safeguard the small population. Certain laws and
practices of Rashtrakutas were biased to sustain their own clan. The regal description of
Nadavaras by Nripatunga suggests that they were the Sat-Kshatriyas during the era of
the Rashtrakutas. Sat-Kshatriya men wore white turban and clad white fabric, a few
yards long in a "toga" style. The white turban was obligatory for Sat-Kshatriya men but
no one other than the king wore ornaments on turban. Parading on a palanquin,
accompanied by lit lamps in broad daylight and escorted by Pancha Vadya (Band with
five musical instruments) was one of the privileges often displayed by Sat-Kshatriyas.
The ancient lifestyle in bits and pieces prevailed among Nadavaras, especially in their
customs of marriages and festivals till as recently as a century ago.

During the time of the Rashtrakutas, the Nadavara clan might not be more than a handful
of families. The Rashtrakuta King, Govinda III, successfully clinched the Banavasi Nadu
(region) in 800 AD from Alupas. The Rashtrakuta prelude to Banavasi (Uttara Kannada)

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was in the ninth century when the Banavasi Kingdom came under the rule of
Rashtrakutas. The great Jain poet of the tenth century, Pampa in his famous book, “Adi
Purana” wrote about Banavasi with dramatic descriptions. Jinasena, a poet in the council
of Nripatunga, initially wrote Adi Purana in Sanskrit. Pampa translated the book of
12000 slokas (verse) in Kannada. Adi Purana, which is the life story of the first Jain
Tirthankara, Vrashabhanatha, was the holy book of Rashtrakutas. It was one of the two
ageless books belonging to the Kangal Parameshwari Temple and the other book was
Ramayana. The antique books were stolen by a mischievous young man of Torke and
sneakily sold it in 1932 to a museum. He was caught, and his own cousins tied him down
to a mango tree for a day. Little kids walked by calling him a thief. He had to leave the
family and was never again seen by his family members. The temple’s effort to retrieve
the book was futile.

The South Konkan Shilaharas under Rahtrakutas from Chandor, Goa governed the
Konkan region of Goa and Uttara Kannada for more than two hundred years. Mirjan and
Karwar were the main cities in the southern district of Konkan. Shilaharas were deemed
to be the descendants of the mythical prince, Jimutavahana, the main character in the
Sanskrit epic, Nagananada. Shilaharas had established a virtual linkage to
Jimuthavahana, probably to please the Rashtrakutas who were the diehard fans of
Nagananda epic. The play was written in the seventh century by King Harshavardhana
of the Vardhana Dynasty. The character of Jimuthavahana, was created as a
manifestation of the persona of Mahavira Vardhamana. Nagananda was a favorite play
of Nripatunga and time and again it was rehearsed for him in the royal court. The play
is about the self-sacrifice of Jimutavahana to save the life of a serpent (Naga) from the
vicious attack of a mythical giant eagle (Garuda). The Shilahara kings used the title
Tagarpuravaradhishwara meaning the supreme king of Tagarapura. Torke in Uttara
Kannada, a Nadavara village was supposedly called Tagarapura where some apparent
relics of the Shilaharas can still be sighted.

The Kengala Parameshwari temple in Devarabhavi is the main temple for the villages
around Torke. The statue of Kengala Parameshwari sitting on Garuda presents a
valuable opening to investigate the Nadavara history. Garuda is the vehicle of Goddess
Laxmi, Vishnu’s wife, and Parameshwari, Shiva’s wife journeys sitting on a lion. Who is
Kengala Parameshwari? According to an anecdotal story, the South Konkan Shilaharas
built the temple of Kengala Parameshwari in the tenth century. The original Kengala
Parameshwari temple was situated in Malali which is a village near Torke. The temple
was set two hundred yards across from the vanished Kotekeri fort which was also
constructed by Shilaharas. A large Garuda statue stood on top of a foothill barricading
the fort. Kengala Parameshwari temple was managed by the Kengana family of Malali.

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Seemingly the family was named after its temple of worship. Even now the Kengana
family that lives in Malali is actively involved in the temple affairs. In the north end of
the village an ancient fragmented foundation of Kengala Parameshwari temple can still
be seen. Next to the temple is “Adu Kala” (performance ground) where the “Bandi
Habba” festival of Kengala Parameshwari was celebrated and now it is a mango grove.
In early 1940s, two native stuntmen ventured to find the hidden treasure under the large
Garuda statue erected by Shilaharas on the top of a hill across from the temple ruins.
They pushed it down into the valley of thick jungle. But they were unable to dig under
the big rock on which the sanctified Garuda statue was seated. The search for the
Shilahara’s gold was fruitless.

In the mid nineteenth century, the temple was relocated to Devarbhavi, an accessible
location for more devotees of the temple. The managerial responsibility of the temple
was transferred to the Ramanna Gaonkar family of Torke from Kengana family. The old
statue of Kengala Parameshwari was reinstated with a statue carved in black granite.
Murkundi Gaonkar, a well-known teacher from Hiregutti in 1920s rebuilt much bigger
abode for Kengala Parameshwari. Ornate and spacious temple exposed to larger masses
gained higher divine status. Perhaps for the Hindu converts who were still isolating
themselves as Jain Nadavaras, worshipping in a fresh-faced Hindu temple was novelty
of Hinduism. The disposition of the goddess didn’t matter at all. For many she was
Goddess Parvati and others she was Goddess Laxmi. The word Kenga in Indian
languages means river. Kenga is a name for Hindu baby girl. The literal meaning of
“Kengala Parameshwari” is supreme goddess of rivers. In Monsoon unexpected quick
rises of speedy rivers flowing down the Western Ghats frequently inflicted harms to the
riverside settlements. The people living in Konkan perhaps coined a river goddess of
nature who was hierarchically placed along with Yakshini or Bhoomi Devi and below
Laxmi and Parvati. According to the Hindu orthodoxy, Brahmins only worship celestial
gods and not the nature gods. The canonical rituals of Kengala Parameshwari were
carried out by an artisan, usually a potter.

The Garuda was a sacred sign of Nadavara, for instance the holy Garuda Kamba (eagle
post) erected in their homes. In subservience to Rashtrakutas, Shilaharas kept the
Rashtrakuta royal insignia, Garuda as their emblem. Devotees attending the temple
referred to the uniqueness of goddess Kengala Parameshwari seated on Garuda and
because of Garuda many temple goers tentatively branded her holiness after Goddess
Laxmi. According to the conventional belief, the goddess was Parvati. However neither
of the split opinions could be authenticated. The grandmothers of Torke narrated the
Naganada epic to the children as if the narrative took place in their backyard. They told
the legend of Jimuthvahana who to save the life of a serpent sacrificed his own on a large

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rock situated on the top of a hill across from Torke. The rock is called “Shoolad Kallu”
(spear of rock) which metaphorically means “rock of death”. In the evenings the rock
outlining a spectacular silhouette against the setting sun is a familiar sight from Torke.
Nadavaras prior to residing in Torke lived in Chandavara and worked for the state-
owned exports during the rule the Keladi Nayakas. They nicknamed their new
settlement, Torke after the virtual Shilahra city of Tagarapura. What might be the reason
behind recounting the legends of Shilaharas, Tagarapura, Nagananda, Jimuthvahana
and Kangala Parameshwari etc.? Did they bring the chronicles of Torke from
Chandavara? The questions are many with no concluding answers.

The Rashtrakuta Empire, after the reign of Krishna III (939- 967 AD) slowly began to
decline. His succession was weak and did not last long. The doctrine of Advaitism,
founded by Shankaracharya (788- 821 AD) was very popular in South India. Advaitism
is the monistic philosophy according to which the self and god are one entity. The Shaiva
sect of Hinduism follows Advaita Vedanta. The Western Chalukyas were gaining the
support of the people because of their clever promotion of Shaivism. In 982 AD
Chalukyas overthrew the Rashtrakuta rulers of Manyaketa. Rashtrakutas of Gujrat,
Rashtrakutas of Rajputana, Rathores of Bikaner, Rashtraudhas of Maharashtra,
Shilaharas of Goa, Shilaharas of Thane, Shilaharas of Kolhapur, Rattas of Saundatti, and
Rashtrakutas of Kanauj were feudatories of Rashtrakutas. They after the downfall of
Rashtrakutas became either feudatories of Chalukyas or independent rulers. The
feudatories were closely linked to Rashtrakutas of Manyketa by association and some by
lineage who claimed to be the descendants of Rashtrakutas. But what happened to the
Rashtrakutas of Manyaketa after the Chalukya victory?

Rashtrakutas of Manyakheta along with the Rattas of Latur who were subordinates of
Rashtrakutas escaped to the Sahyadri hills surrounding Balligavi and Banavasi where
they lived in exile for many decades. However, the Ratta dynasty of Saundatti, feudatory
of Rashtrakuta continued to serve as the governors of Belguam region under the Western
Chalukya dynasty till the end of the twelfth century. The relation between the Rattas of
Latur and Rattas Saundatti could not be discovered. Some historians assume that Rattas
are descendants of Rashtrakutas. The assumption might have been based on the
contemporaneous existence of the two sects and the phonetic resemblance of the two
names, Ratta and Rashtrakuta. The exodus of Rashtrakutas from the Deccan Plateau to
the hills of Sahyadri is a vivid portrayal of the commonly used phrase “head for the hills.”
At the end of the tenth century, when the exiled Rashtrakutas tried to establish a territory
in Sorab, Shimoga, the Chalukya ruler, Tailappa II crushed their brief drive. In Bakkal
near Sonda, the relics of the eleventh century Hoysala establishment suggest the initial
foundation of Hoysalas. Possibly the Hoysala Kingdom as a branch of the Western

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Chalukyas was conceived in the vicinity of Sonda and Hulekal, Uttara Kannada. It is
likely that the Hoysala dynasty was instituted by Ratta fugitives of Latur who were
closely linked to Rashtrakutas. Perhaps the Rashtrakuta clan played an important role of
kingmaker. Like Rattas, Hoysalas were also related to Seunas of Devagiri. Seuna, Ratta
and Hoysala clans belonged to the Shwetambara sect of Jainism whereas Rashtrakuta
clan was from Digambara sect.

Queen Shantala was the wife of the Hoysala King, Vishnuvardhana (1108-1152 AD).
Shantala was the daughter of Honnayya Dandanayaka (Chief General) and Machekka.
She was born in Balligavi, Shivmoga. Shantala was a famous dancing queen who
choreographed her dance routines from Bharata Natyam postures and renditions of
Odissi, which was similar to Yakshagana. Yakshangana was introduced in Karnataka
much later in the sixteenth century. The Chalukya King, Vikramaditya IV, was a secret
admirer of Shantala. He requested Shantala to dance for him, but his request was refused.
Allegedly, the incident led to ill feelings between Vishnuvardhana, a feudatory of the
Western Chalukyas, and Vikramaditya IV. Hoysalas and the Chalukyas fought three
childish wars between 1118 and 1123 AD. Perhaps Vikramaditya IV was enticed by the
beauty of Shantala. A few years later, the Jain king, Vishnuvardhana influenced by the
preaching of the Hindu philosopher Ramanujacharya, accepted Vaishnavism. Queen
Shantala, staunchly believed in Jainism, but respected all religions. However, she could
not tolerate her husband’s conversion to Vaishnavism and committed suicide. The
Nadavara women of the older generations worshipped Shantala. The statues of Shantala
housed in little shrines are found in nine Nadavara villages along the Gangavali River.
Some Nadavara kinfolk originally from the highlands of Honavara and Siddapura, now
settled in the villages around Gokarna, Uttara Kannada, believe that Shantala was related
to them. In the beginning of the twentieth century, two Nadavara families of Maskeri
and Agargon owned the ornaments of Shantala.

Bommayya Nayaka of the Banavasi Nadu, chief commander of the Hoysala King, Vira-
Ballal III (1291-1343 AD), died in a war in 1320 AD against the Hoysala feudatory king
of Kampili. His grandson, also called Bommayya Nayaka, was the Hoysala governor of
the Tungabhadra region. After the death of Vira Ballal III in 1343, he peacefully merged
with the newly founded Vijayanagara. Bommayya was instrumental in pursuing the
Salwas of Konkan to join Vijayanagara. The Bommayya temple in Kogre is said to be the
shrine of a brave warrior, Bommayya nayaka and the close by Ammana Temple is
supposed to be the shrine of his wife. Bhumiya, an earthly god is worshipped in many
places in Punjab and Rajasthan. However the Bommayya Temple is commonly seen in
many Nadavara villages. Yet another story, Bhumiya, who performed a saintly or heroic
deed, was at times elevated to the height of super human or even close to god. Along

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with him his wife, Bhumiya Rani (earth queen) was also honored. The shrines of the
couple were built side by side. A similar custom of building Bommayya and Amma
temples next to each other is found in Nadavara villages.

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Kalachuri Connection

The earliest Kalachuris of North India were descendants of the nomadic Scythians of
Central Asia. Over two thousand years ago, the nomadic tribes lived on the plains
around the Caspian Sea. In old Serbian and Slavic “Scythian” means wanderer. One of
the Scythian tribes, Saka, in search of green pastures for raising livestock drifted to
southeast into Afghanistan and Iran before the first millennium. Their initial
introduction to India was in 85 BC when the Scythian King, Maues, conquered parts of
Pakistan and Kashmir ending the reign of the Indo-Greek king, Mitriidatus II. In the first
century AD, the second Scythian tribe, the Kushans invaded Pakistan and Northwestern
India, and pushed the Sakas to Saurashtra, North Konkan and the western Malwa. The
Kushan king, Kanishka (126-151AD) ruled North India, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan,
Tazikistan and Iran from Peshavar. He appointed Sakas as Kshatraps of Malwa,
Saurashtra and the northern Maharashtra; Kshatrap means land protector or governor in
Zoroastrian, the ancient Iranian language. At the end of the second century AD, during
the rule of the Kushan King Vasudeva, the Kshatraps or Satraps (in Persian), became
independent and ruled Malwa and Saurashtra from Junagadha and Ujjain. In the fourth
century the rule of Satraps or Sakas was interrupted by the Gupta Dynasty.

The ancient Scythians employed stag or male red deer to drag their carts. In the Scythian
language stag was called Salwa. The Saka tribe living in Western India was nicknamed
“Salwa”, by the Kushans in the first or second century AD. The Kshatrapas of Khambhat,
the rulers of Kathiawar region (Cambay peninsula) were the original Salwas. The
Kalachuris of Rajputana were the descendants of the Kshatrapas of Khambhat. Along
with the Kalachuris of Rajputana, the Zaat sect in Punjab inherited the nickname, Salwa,
from their Saka ancestors. The gradual adoption of the Indian traditions and religions by
the Salwas gave rise to new Indo-Scythian ethnicity. Similar to their Scythian ancestors,
the Salwas worshipped the sun god and Swastika was the iconic rendering of the sun.

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The naturalization process on the new soil led Salwas to accept Vedic gods. They
considered themselves belonging to the Sun Dynasty which is unrelated to the
mythological Surya Vamsha of Ramayana. There are no evidences or artifacts to support
that the Scythian nomads had any interest in the folklore of Ramayana or Raghuvamsha.
In Mahabharata Salwa kings are mentioned on a few occasions. However, the
mythological reference of undated Mahabharata is not adequate to support the historical
hypothesis of the Salwa origin.

During the first two centuries of the first millennium, the Salwas under the dominance
of Kushan rulers practiced Budhism, but in the third century, they leaned towards
Jainism. Throughout the Saka and Kushan periods religions flourished in Western India.
They built Buddhist monasteries in Peshawar, Mathura, and Ujjain. The concept of cave
sculptures was introduced when Scythian drifters carved living quarters in the steep
rocky edges of Hindu Kush in the second century BC. The engraved cells of Bamia and
Uyghur in Afghanistan and the western China remain as the swaying relics of ancient
Scythian craftsmanship in rock carving. Cave sculpting by the Buddhist and Jain monks
spread into India in the third century. The caves such as, Ajanta, Elora, Girinar, and
Elephanta thrived during the Satrap, Kalachuri, and Rashtrakuta periods between the
fourth and ninth centuries. Similar to Scythians, Kalachuris grew beard and long
mustache but their long robes were shortened to adjust to the Indian climatic conditions.
They worshipped swords and spears and paradoxically worshiped Tirthankaras and
practiced Jainism, the religion of nonviolence. The acceptance of Jainism was part of the
transformation process of the Salwas (Indo-Scythians) in the new environment of
spiritual orthodoxy.

A group of Sakas or Salwas of Western India was nicknamed as Kalachuris around the
third century AD. The initial allusion of Kalachuri was made to the ruling Salwa tribe of
a tiny forest kingdom in Malwa that did not have anything more than the local
importance. The brand name Kalachuri was created from two words; Kalli referred to
curved imperial mustache and Churi signified axe or sword. In the fourth century, the
Kalachuri tribe living in the Vindhya Mountains of the eastern Rajputana invaded the
territories of the Gupta Empire. Samudragupta and also his son, Chandragupta II,
suppressed the relentless Kalachuris who shortly after became feudatory of the Guptas.
At the end of the fifth century when the Gupta Dynasty was on decline, Kalachuri chiefs
mushroomed in Central India. The Kalachuri clan that ruled from Mahishmati (550-609
AD), situated on the southern bank of the Narmada River, migrated to Maharashtra.
Later on, they became the Southern Kalachuri wing that ruled from Kalyan in the twelfth
century and also the Salwa dynasty of Vijayanagara in the fifteenth century.

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Krishnaraja (550-575 AD) established the Kalachuri Kingdom in Mahishmati and


stretched the kingdom to include Malwa, Saurashtra, and Northern Konkan. The
Elephanata or Gharapuri caves near Mumbai were built during his reign. It is also
debated that the Elephanta caves were built by the Rashtrakutas with the help of the
Konkan Shilaharas in the ninth century. However, the archaeological survey dates the
cave construction back to the sixth century. Furthermore, the seventh century Badami
Chalukya inscription found in Aihole, Karnataka mentions Puri (Elephanata caves) as
the holy place for Jains. The sculpture of Trimurti which is a twenty feet high monolithic
granite carving is displayed in the Elephanta caves. The main sculpture, three-faced
statue of Trimurti in Puri, suggests that Krishnaraja was the follower of Jainism. Trimurti,
also known to Hindus as Dattatreya was the representation of all three members of the
Vedic Trinity, Brahma, Vishnu and Ishwara. A rare sculpture of the sun god was also
carved in the honor of Saka ancestry of Kalachuris but was destroyed by the Portuguese
in the sixteenth century. According to the Puranic or Vedic writings of the tenth century,
Dattatreya was the son of sage Atri and Ansuya. The name Dattatreya was derived from
two words; in Sanskrit, Datta means gift and Atreya implies “from Atri” or the name
means, gift from Atri. He was born with the essence of the Vedic trinity. Brahma created
life, Vishnu nurtured, and Shiva liberated the soul from the body” is the religious belief
of Hindus and Jains. The statue of Trimurti symbolized the complete cycle of life.

The Trimurti statue in the Elephanta caves presents Vishnu in the center, Shiva on the
left and Brahma on the right. Jains, who originally created the configuration of the trinity,
gave prominence to Vishnu. The Vedic Trinity was conceptualized in the fourth century
BC during the time of Chandragupta Maurya, a follower of Jainism. The Maurya Dynasty
built the oldest Trimurti Temple in the fourth century BC near Lahore, Pakistan and now
only the foundation of the temple barely exists. The carvings of the temple were sold to
the curators of museums around the world. The ancient Trimurti Temples are found in
the old settlements of Jains, mostly in Rajasthan and Gujarat. Not so long ago, Vaishnavas
and Shaivas disputed for the rights of the Dattatreya temples in Girinar, Gujarat and
Mount Abu, Rajasthan. The two wings of the same religion blindly ignored the very
concept of creation of Dattatreya to honor the plurality of Vedic religions.

Mangalesha, the Badami Chalukya King, conquered the Kalachuris in 599 AD, but failed
to annex the Kalachuri territory. He was attracted by a Kalachuri princess and parted
from Mahismati on cordial terms. Later in 609 AD his nephew, Pulikesi II, defeated
Budharaja and relegated Kalachuris with the feudatory commitments. In the seventh
century, the Kalachuris assisted Pulalkesi II to suppress the Mauryan descendants of the
southern Maharahtra and Konkan. Kalachuris gradually moved to the southern
Maharashtra. After Rashtrakutas usurped Chalukyas, the Kalachuris took the back seat.

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The intimacy between Rashtrakutas and Kalchuris was strained by the bitter expressions
of Kalachuris over the success of Rashtrakutas. Kalachuris frequently struggled with the
Rashtrakutas but also marriages between the two clans were pretty common. Kalachuris
were devoted followers of Jainism whereas the Rashtrakutas were bit relaxed on religion.
The common faith in Jainism brought the two sects together and the aggressive warrior
spirit pulled them apart many times along their southern passage to Karnataka.

In the beginning of the eleventh century, the Kalachuri King, Uchita, ruled Mangalaweda
in Maharashtra as a tributary of the Kalyani Chalukya Dynasty. The Kalachuri King,
Jagadekamaalla Paramadi, was married to the sister of the Chalukya King, Someshwar
III. Paramadi, with his swift Kalchuri cavalry, came to Banavasi Nadu to subdue the
rebellious feudatories. Kalachuri devotion to the Chalukyas provided much needed
support to suppress the upheaval instigated by the feudatories on the West Coast. The
Hoysala King, Vishnuvardhana, and the Kadambas of Goa were trying to move away
from their loyalty to the Kalyani Chalukya throne. In 1127 AD, Paramadi strategically
deterred both Hoysalas and the Kadamba incursions to reinstate the Chalukya
supremacy in Banavasi Nadu. The Hoysala presence was pushed back to south beyond
Hangal. The son of Paramadi, young Bijala II, was appointed as the governor of Banavasi
in 1130 AD. It was the earliest institution of the Kalachuri authority in Banavasi Nadu,
which is the present-day Uttara Kannada. Kalachuris possibly governed Banavasi from
the Adlur region that stretched along the northern bank of Gangavali, for many years.

The concentration of almost nine hundred years old Jain relics around Adlur near
Ankola, Karnataka suggests that Paramadi and Bijala were based in the ancient fort
located in the mountains of Adlur. Bijjala as the feudatory of Chalukya ruled much of
the northern Karnataka region including South Konkan from Annigeri, Belgaum till 1962
AD. According to the Bombay Presidency Gazetteer of 1884, an inscription pertaining to
Bijala’s establishment in Annigeri was found in Ablur. Bommayya Nayaka (Bommarasa),
the son-in-low of Bijala was the appointed governor of Banavasi Nadu in 1161-62 AD. In
1162 AD, Bijala claimed independence from Chalukyas. In 1163 Kasyappa Nayaka who
was a relative of Bijala was the governor of Banavasi Nadu. Hirinayaka and Kirinayaka,
the sons of Bijala’s brother, Mailugi also later became the governors of Banavasi.
Hirinayaka and Kirinayaka might not have been the actual names of Bijjala’s nephews.
Kalideva, the son of Hirenayaka called his uncle Kiriyayya. The actual name of
Kirinayaka or Kiriyayya was Soma. However, the authentic name of Hirinayaka wasn’t
found. Vishnuvardhana was constantly looking for an opportunity to conquer Banavasi
and to protect it from invaders Bijala always appointed his trusted family members to
govern Banavasi Nadu.

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During medieval times, Banavasi Nadu included the contemporary Uttara Kannada, and
parts of Belgaum and Dharwar districts. Banavasi was the capital city during the
Kadamba, Badaimi Chalukya, and Rashtrakuta dynasties. In the beginning of the second
millennium, cavalry became the focus of war strategies and intensified the speed of
attack. The fortification methods and structures of the early medieval times became
obsolete due to the velocity and flexibility of cavalry. The antiquated Banavasi fortress
was replaced by safer and strategic defensive centers. The regional chiefs and governors
sought rugged hideout places to suit their own individual war strategies. After the
eleventh century, for the next six hundred years, Kalyani Chalukya, Kalachuri,
Vijayanagara and Adil Shahi dynasties decentralized the control of the Banavasi Nadu
and built many new forts in strategic locations. The sea-trade with Arabia, and later
during Vijayanagara with Portugal became prevalent. Many forts were built along the
coastal line of the Banavasi Nadu to protect the ports and merchant ships.

The Kalgod region, especially the area surrounding Adlur, was the original settlement of
Kalachuris in Uttara Kannada. One of the earliest Kalachuri settlers of Kalgod came from
Terdavadi, situated in the north of Bijapur. They were notoriously known for destroying
the Shaiva temples in Belgaum and Kolhapur regions, and replacing with Jain Basadis.
Perhaps, the pioneers of building Jain structures in around Adlur could be the Terdwadi
Kalachuris. Old citadels and Basadis found in the thick forests around Adlur are the
evidences of Kalachuri presence in the area around the twelfth century. A ruined fort on
a hilltop in the thick forest of Adlur remains as a noteworthy testimonial of the Kalachuri
stronghold in Kalgod. An ancient underground fortress or large cellar-like structure
chiseled through tough porous rocks is concealed in the jungle of Kodlagadde, five miles
from Adlur. The ancient fortress occupies over 8,000 square feet of burrowed
underground area with many well-planned vertical ventilation shafts. The subterranean
dwelling structures were introduced in India in the fourth century when the Satraps
(Sakas) built Ajanta and Ellora.

The Indo-Scythians linked prostitution to the divinity of temples. Certain fashionable


prostitutes carried special tattoos on their body and were considered to be the sacred
entertainers of gods. Kamasutra was written at the turn of the third century by Vatsayana
during the Indo-Scythian era. There was no reservation of any kind for exhibiting
Kamasutra artwork in social settings. The walls of Jain and Hindu temples became the
convenient medium to push sex exhibits. The exhibition of erotic sculptures was banned
since the fourteenth century when the Muslim rulers seized power in North India. Many
temples were demolished, or the sculptures were mutilated. Still many temples in
Khajuraho, Rajasthan escaped such Islamic censure. A number of surviving temples still
display erotica on the walls. Two Kalachuri Basadis built during the medieval times are

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barely standing in Maru-Gadde, approximately five miles from Adlur. A semi buried old
temple portrays divine paintings on its walls along with pornographic low-relief artwork
resembling the erotic Kamasutra sculptures of Khajuraho. Maru-Gadde is the key to the
exploration of ancient Kalachuri or Salva habitat in the area. The twelfth century relics
left behind by the Kalachuri settlers of Adlur are scattered from Ramanaguli to
Honnebail along the Gangavali River and most of them still remain unexplored. The
British rulers marked the Kalgod region as an old unknown historic place.

Kalachuris were staunch followers of the Shwetambar sect of Jainism. Bijala II (1130-
1167AD) announced his independence from the Western Chalukyas that lasted for a brief
duration. In the twelfth century, the Kalyani Chalukyas supported the promotion of
Virashaivism with which the Kalachuris, being Jains, differed fundamentally. There are
evidences of frequent Kalachuri conflicts with the Virashaivas, who were backed by the
Chalukya King Jagadhekamalla III (1164- 1183 AD). The influential philosophy of
Virashaivism was very popular and it became difficult for the Kalachuris to thwart the
trend. The trouble was emanating from many regions of the kingdom. The chief minister
Basaveshwara, the founder of Virashaivism wanted to replace the Kalachuri constitution
with the Virashaiva philosophy. Kasyappa Nayaka, a high-ranking commander started
the conspiracy to abdicate Bijala. The chief commander of Bijala, Kalachuri Bommayya
Nayaka joined the Western Chalukyas and shortly after he accepted Virashaivism. The
safety of the Kalachuri Kingdom was beleaguered by the persistent internal friction
between Bijala and Basaveshwara.

It was suspected that Bommayya Nayaka, along with the Chalukyas, plotted the murder
of King Bijala. Jagadeva, a trusted member of the king’s staff and the cousin of
Basaveshwara, murdered Bijala in cold blood. The Kalachuri Kingdom was completely
drenched in revolt. The nephews of Bijala, Hiri Nayaka and Kiri Nayaka, the Kalachuri
commanders of Banavasi Nadu went to Kalyan to suppress the uprising, but both the
brothers were murdered on the same gloomy day. Their dead bodies were brought to
Kalgod on horses accompanied by the soldiers of Bijala. They were cremated on the
seashore of the Kalgod region in a village now known as Bhavikeri. Their dead bodies
had deteriorated beyond recognition and both of their wives committed Sati without
sighting the corpses of their husbands on the auspicious day of the Sankranti Festival
(Celebration of the Winter Solstice) in 1168 AD. The old Jain Bera shrines of the Nayakas,
and the Sati shrines of their wives, are still extant as the Kalachuri monuments in
Bhavikeri, Uttara Kannada. The Kalanayakas of Bhavikeri, descendants of the self-
immolated wives, don’t observe Sankranti even now.

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After the Southern Shilaharas in the twelfth century, Salwas (Kalachuri) governed most
of the coastal region of Uttara Kannada as the local chieftains, until they merged with
Vijayanagara. The ports of Haiva (Bhatkal to Gangavali) and Konkan (Gangavali to
Chitakul) were gaining importance due to steadily growing importance of sea trade on
the west coast. In the second quarter of the fourteenth century, invasions of the Delhi
Sultanate, Mohammad Tugalaq was looming in the Southern India. The south Konkan
was one of his targeted territories of expansion. Many Kalachuri families of the south
Konkan joined the Sangama Dynasty in the mid fourteenth century for their own
defense. The Kalachuri presence continued in the settlements of Adlur, Mirjan, Bargi,
Bhatkal and Haduvalli during the Vijayanagara Empire. The historic monuments and
relics of Kalachuris found in Adlur are approximately two hundred years older than the
ones found around Haduvalli. It provides a significant evidence of the Kalachuri
migration from Kalgod to Haduvalli that began in the fourteenth or the fifteenth century.
During the Vijayanagara rule, Haduvalli and Gerusoppa gained importance because of
Bhatkal and Honavar ports. Even after the fall of Vijayanagara, Salwas controlled the
Konkan and Malenad regions of Uttara Kannada during the Sonda, Bilgi and Gersappa
kingdoms. In the eighteenth century, during the Mysore Sultanate Dynasty, Salwas
living in the Honavar region moved to the boroughs around Ankola and Kumta.

The Queen Chennabhairadevi (1552-1606 AD) assumed the responsibility of Gersoppa


Kingdom when Mirjan was its capitol. Three different and conflicting historical
explanations were chronicled on the topic of Virabhadradevi’s rise to the throne of
Gersoppa Kingdom. According to one historian she took over the Kingdom from her
elder sister, Bhairadevi. A Portuguese traveler wrote about her, “dancing girl (Devadasi)
became queen” but Chennabhairadevi was of Salwa origin as mentioned by a few
historians. However, Chennabhairadevi supposedly was an accomplished dancer. The
most reliable historical narrative is that Chennabhairadevi was married
Bhairavabhupati, the son of Salva Krishna Nayaka who was the fraternal uncle of
Arasappa Nayaka II of Sonda. She lost her husband at a young age. She was chosen by
the de facto ruler of Vijayanagara, Ramaraya to take responsibility of the dominion
bracketed under the Mirjan Fort. Chennabhairadevi had amicable relations with
Arasappa Nayaka of Sonda. She built Basadis and temples even in the Sonda territory.
The governing families of principalities in Uttara Kannada were related to the
Vijayanagara dynasties. Chennabhairadevi was also known to the people in her territory
as Sannamma. Her reign began in the Mirjan fort which was allegedly built by her.
During the Adil Shahi’s occupation of Uttara Kannada, she moved to Basti near
Honavara and eventually to Gersappa, Uttara Kannada. Her strategic relocation was to
avoid any kind of danger from the Portuguese rulers of Goa. The Portuguese and Italian
merchants frequently visited her in Gersoppa. They called her Gersoppa Queen or

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Pepper Queen (Raina Da Pimenta). When she ruled from Mirjan, probably her kingdom
wasn’t called the Gersoppa Kingdom. It was a principality of Vijayanagara in the same
way as Sonda, Haduvalli and Bilgi were principalities. Soon after the downfall of
Vijayanagara in 1565, Ali Adil Shah endorsed her to the status of queen. At the same time
the Governor of Sonda, Arasappa Nayaka was promoted to be the King of Sonda.

Chennabhairadevi’s feudatory relationship with Vijayanagara during the regime of


Ramaraya was discreet in nature. After the fall of Vijayanagara, the queen seemed to
bolster her bond with Adilishahi which was unusual after two centuries long hostility
between Vijayanagara and Bahamani sultans. Her diplomatic dealings with Ali Adil
Shah I enabled her to establish an autonomous state. Bilgi, originally a principality of
Vijayanagara was subdued by Chennabhairadevi after a skirmish. Then on, it was
governed by a Jain chieftain under the restraint of Chennabhairadevi. Bilgi was one of
the five Seemis of Nadavaras which was known as Menesi Seeme. Chennabhairadevi’s
tactful negotiations with Adil Shah might have enabled her to give refuge to the Salwas
of Hampi in Mirjan. Even though she moved out of the Mirjan Fort, her deputies resided
in Mirjan and Kagal. She controlled Chittakula, Binaga, Araga, Aversa, Ankola,
Honnebail, Kagal, Mirjan and Honavar ports, which exported spice, coconut, rice and
timber to Europe and Arabia. Even though she didn’t trust Portuguese, she maintained
diplomatic relations with the governor of Goa for the sake of flourishing exports to
Europe. She was a lady of steely resolve and was also a shrewd entrepreneur. An English
historian compared her to Queen Elizabeth 1 (1533-1603).

Around the mid sixteenth century, in Tiswadi, Goa Padre F. de Souza, a Portuguese
priest was actively involved in promoting Catholicism. According to his writings, to
avoid baptism 3092 Hindus moved away from Bardez, Solcete in 1560. In 1567, Diogo
Rodriguese, the commander of the Fort Rochol, vandalized 280 Hindu temples in South
Goa. The brutality of Portuguese soldiers towards Hindu women was inconceivable.
Some soldiers married Hindu women but most of the elegant Hindu women were forced
to become mistresses and concubines. The married women were baptized by the Catholic
priests to make them disloyal to their Hindu husbands. Sexual abuse of the underage
girls was a common passage, and the brutal sexual pestering by the Portuguese soldiers
was totally ignored. The illegitimate unions between Portuguese men and young Goan
women were widespread matter. In 1516 the judge of orphanage reported seventy
illegitimate births. The Goan government took care of the babies born with Portuguese
fathers. By 1560 the Brahmin women of the entire islands of Divar and Chorao were
converted to Christianity and the conversion of men was put off. Rape and adultery in
Goa were so frequent that the situation seemed hopeless. Consequently, sexually
transmitted diseases reached epidemic proportions.

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The grim poverty coupled with harsh Portuguese treatment forced the Goan Hindus to
drift to the neighboring Gersappa Kingdom. Chennabhairadevi recruited skilled Goan
workers trained by the Portuguese, mainly sailors, boat builders, black smiths, and
carpenters. As stories of the compassionate queen spread around in Goa, influxes of
Goan refugees swamped the Gersappa Kingdom to avoid the Portuguese atrocities. The
shoreline of the present-day Uttara Kannada proved to be a happy hunting ground for
the Goan refugees who were seeking a new home to begin a new life free of the
Portuguese cruelty. They perhaps settled around the bustling ports. It is apparent from
the concentration of the Konkani speaking people in the port towns of the south Konkan.
Chennabharadevi paid heavy royalties to Adil Shah to secure her kingdom from the
threat of the annoyed Portuguese. She appointed a Saraswata ambassador to Goa mainly
to deal with the Portuguese trade treaties. Even before Chennabhairadevi’s era,
Saraswatas were advisors to Vijayanagara in horse trading with Arabia.
“Chennabhairadevi appointed the Goan refugees in the ports of Uttara Kannada” was
an anecdotal story told by the local Konkanis.

Various historians wrote about the Sonda and Gersoppa kingdoms, but their
compositions weren’t coherent. The border separating Sonda and Gersappa domains
was inconsistently portrayed. Conceivably Honavara, Mirjan and Bhatkal ports were
controlled by Chennabhairadevi. Ankola, Arga, and Chittakula ports came under the
Sonda territory. As stated in Gazetteer 1883, the Bombay Presidency, the Venetian
merchant, Caesar Fredrick in March 1567 visited Ankola and according to his writings
Ankola port belonged to Chennabhairadevi. Hamilton (vague mention) in 1720 wrote
that the Ankola was under the Sonda rulers. Certainly, he wasn’t Buchanan Hamilton
who visited North Kanara in early 1800s. It is possible that Sonda rulers took over Ankola
after the end of Chennabhairadevi’s rule. However, Chennabhairadevi was the port
authority of all the seaports located on the shoreline of present day Uttara Kannada.
Ankola port had gained importance since the time of the Sangama Dynasty for the export
of raw cotton and textile. Ankola by the end of sixteenth century had many spinning and
weaving mills and a cotton refinement factory. The cotton grown in the semi-arid regions
of the northern Karnataka was exported from Honavara, Ankola and Karwar ports. After
the fall of Vijayanagara in the sixteenth century the Muslim traders of Goa migrated to
Karwar, Ankola, Honavara and Bhatkal to escape the Portuguese conversions. In Ankola
the Muslim refugees settled near the harbor and sought employment in the maritime
shipping industry. Adil Shah sent Persian auditors (Shia Muslims) to Ankola to manage
the tariff on cotton trade. The colony of the Muslim settlement near the port was named
Baburwada (Babur meaning tiger) and the Ankola port was called Bundar (port) by the

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Persians of Bijpur. The Parsian names got tainted by the local language to Babrawada
and Bandra respectively.

Salwa Narayana Nayaka, a commander of Chennabhairadevi built many temples. In the


Gersappa kingdom, temples belonged to the state-owned enterprise. The state took
advantage of religious faiths and orthodoxy of its people. The thriving temples were
revenue centers generating income for the state, which in turn led to the construction of
new temples in every town. Narayana Nayaka built temples of Surya Narayana, the sun
god and Yaksha the spirit of nature near the ports along the shoreline from Bhatkal to
Chittakul. Jains believed in the spirit of Yaksha taking care of their wealth and health. At
times they were afraid of Yaksha taking the form of Rakshasa (mean minded ghost). Jains
out of fear instituted Yaksha statues in many Basadis. Worshiping the sun god and nature
spirit prior to embarking merchant ships was a ritual in the Gersappa Kingdom.
However, only a few temples of Surya Narayana and Yaksha exist in Uttara Kannada.
Possibly, with the changing times temples were dilapidated due to lack of patronage and
were refurbished and rechristened under different identity to go with the
contemporaneous trend. The Gersappa navy to protect merchant ships recruited
Mogaveer and Kharavee soldiers. It was controlled by Timmanna Nayaka.
Chennabhairadevi was a follower of Jainism, but she successfully maintained a secular
state, which was one of the reasons for the longevity of her reign. The realm of Gersappa
ended abruptly after her loss to Venkatappa Nayaka of Keladi. Jain-Nadavara (Salwa)
presence in Gersappa, Kuchinad, Mirjan, Bada and Kagal continued even after the reign
of Chennabhairadevi, under Keladi kings. The shrine of Chennabhairadevi, Sannamma
Temple is still revered by many Nadavara families.

The Southern Kalachuris were rigidly affixed to the Jain faith. Their religious inflexibility
led them through a prolonged hostility with Virashaivas. The last known Kalachuri
confrontation with the Virashaivas took place in the eighteenth century in Agsur, Uttara
Kannada. Perhaps, Virashaivas were still angry with the Terdawadi Kalachuri family
settled in Adlur, for destroying Shiva temples centuries ago. The Virashaiva mercenaries
had brought with them two men of the Dalit caste and wanted to wed them to the Jain-
Nadavara women of Kalgod region (Adlur). However, the planned persuasive marriage
did not take place. Both sides arrogantly declared victory. For centuries the Nadavaras
of Bhavikeri, Uttara Kannada have been telling the heroic stories of their victory over the
Virashaivas in the forest of Agsur to their youngsters. The story may be slightly slanted
to emotionally satisfy their ego. The factual narrative was that the Agsur encounter
culminated centuries of hostility between Nadvaras and Virashaivas and they jointly
settled for peace and, more importantly, both sides decided to respect each other’s beliefs
in a good faith. As a mark of mutual gratitude, Nadavaras built the Shiva Temple and

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erected a large Shiva Linga, which is the iconic representation of god Shiva resembling a
concave-down or inverted paraboloid, in Kalgod and in return a Virashiava Jangama
(Yogi) lived as the devotee of the Venkataramana Temple, Ankola within the temple
premises. The Yogi resided in a small quarter with in the sanctuary as helper to the
Chitpawan Brahmin priest of the temple. He fell in love with a local Maratha woman and
raised a family under the Vaishnava faith.

The Nadavaras of Uttara Kannada are a homogeneous mix of Kalachuri and Rashrakuta
sects. Subtle differences in religious rituals among Nadavara villages may be suggestive
of their backgrounds; certain Nadavara villages worship the shrines linked to Bijala
whereas some others worship the temple of Kengala Parameshwari and revere shrines
of Shantala. The Nadavaras currently living in Hanehalli (Bankikodla) and Agargon
possibly came from Kuchinad region. The villages, Gerusoppa, Hanehalli (near
Gersoppa), Halsanhalli and Mensi came under the Kuchinad region. In the past
Nadavaras from these villages visited temples in the Kuchinad. It is more than likely that
Nadavaras living in Kuchinad during the regime of Chennabhairadevi were her soldiers.
Jain monks are invited to perform concerted religious ceremonies and weddings but
lately, the frequency of the Jain rituals and participation of monks are declining. For the
villages around Torke, Anant Chaturdashi was an important festival and on that day,
they visited Kengala Parameshwari Temple. On the other hand, fasting on Ashad
Ekadeshi and Kartika was important to Nadavaras in Bhavikeri. Krishnashtami was a
big event for the Nadavaras of Bole.

The Kalachuri clan during medieval ages migrated from Rajputana to distant corners of
India with the aspiration of territorial conquest. The Southern Kalachuri clan was related
to the Northern Kalachuris of Malwa. Before moving to Kalyan in Karnataka, the
Southern Kalachuris lived in Mangalweda, Maharashtra. They spoke Maharashtri, a
medieval language similar to Marathi. The historians of Maharashtra believed that both
the Northern and Southern Kalachuris were branches of the same stalk that originated
in Maharashtra. Kalachuris after brief staging in Kalyan lost to Chalukyas and escaped
to South Konkan. In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries Kalachuri chiefs, also known
as Salwas controlled south Konkan. The archeological imprints of Jainism found near
Adlur, Ankola, Haduvalli and Gersappa in Uttara Kannada are testimonial for the
Kalachuri control of South Konkan in medieval ages. Around 1340s the Kalachuri rulers
of South Konkan willingly merged with Vijayanagara. Thus far there is no noteworthy
connection drawn between the Southern Kalachuris and the Salwas of Vijayanagara. The
history of the Jain Nadavara clan may help to discover the link between two South Indian
Jain dynasties, Kalachuri of Kalyan, and Salwa of Vijayanagara.

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Who is the god Babru in Babruvada?

Two hypotheses are put forward to explain the origin of Bobru of Bobruvada:

Bobru statue of Bobruvada was built in the late sixteenth century by the Salvas of Uttara Kannada.
Bobru is a local tribal name for the phantom of the nature, Yaksha. According to Hindu and Jain
religions Yaksha is extra-terrestrial spirit who controls calamities caused by the nature. Salvas of
Gerusoppa kingdom believed that Yaksha took care of their ships in the stormy seas of Mansoon.
Bobru of Haigunda, Honavara (Right) is believed to be the protector of the people living in the
Haigunda island. Prof. N.R Naik mentions about Bobru or Bobriya of Haigunda in his book on
Gamokkalu, a tribe living in Uttara Kannda. Supposedly Chennabharadevi instituted many Babru
statues in all ports from Sadashivgad to Bhatkal. At present only Babru of Haigunda is existing. The
Yaksha (Bobru) of Bobruvada, a priceless historical statue was destroyed recently after 2000 AD and
was replaced by an anonymous statue (Left). The original Babru statue was carved of black granite.
The old Bobru statue of Bobruvada resembled the statue in Haigunda.

The other hypothesis is that the Bobra statue of Bobravada was an ancient historical statue which was
recently replaced by a modern statue (left). In the seventeenth century the Muslim traders of Goa
migrated to Baithkol, Ankola and Honavara in Uttara Kannada to escape the conversion to
Christianity. In Ankola the Muslim refugees settled around the harbor section and sought
employment in the shipping industry. The colony of the Muslim settlement near the port was named
Baburwada and the Ankola port was called Bundar. In the colloquial language the local people
pronounced Babruwada and Bandra respectively. There are villages in Maharashtra near Miraj and
Sindh (Pakistan) near Khairpur called Baburwada (In Persian “Babar” means tiger and “Wada” means
colony). Centuries later the inexplicable large statue was named “Babru” after the village Babruvada.

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Kanabera Shrine was founded by the Kalachuris of Adlur in the


12th century. It was rebuilt at the end of the 18th century after
the Nadavara settlement in Bhanikeri

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Cavalrymen of Vijayanagara

The history of glorious Vijayanagara Empire (1336-1565 AD) is one of the few alarming
stories ever told by the rubbles of architectural wonders of the past. Vijayanagara
embarked on the obvious pledge of protecting Hinduism when the Tughalaq Sultanates
occupied the Yadav Kingdom of Maharashtra. Defenseless Hindus in the south were
desperately looking for someone to rescue them from the clutches of Islam. Harihara of
the Sangama Dynasty founded the Hindu kingdom of Vijayanagara in 1336 AD when
the Hoysala Empire was on its last legs. The commanders of the Hoysala Dynasty,
including Bommayya Nayaka were of critical assistance to Harihara and his brother
Bukka Raya in establishing the much-needed Hindu kingdom on the north banks of the
Tungabadra River in Anegundi. At the request of Bommayya, the Kalachuri chief of the
South Konkan, Mangaldeva peacefully merged with Vijayanagara. Mangaladeva was the
ancestor of Salwa Narasihma Devaraya who was the original ruler of the Salva Dynasty
of Vijayanagara. The Salwas of Vijayanagara were the Kalachuris who hid from Kalyani
Chalukyas in the forests around Araga in south Konkan, at present a village in Uttara
Kannda. They were also known to some historians as the tribal rulers of South Konkan.

Deva Raya II of the Sangama Dynasty constructed the forts of Ankola and Mirjan in the
fifteenth century. The forts were protecting trades with Arabia and China. They were
built with the typical contemporary fortification architecture. The Mirjan fort protected
spice exports. The Ankola fort was a supplementary buttress to the Vijayanagara armada
guarding the ports between Bhatkal and Goa. They were built in oval shapes on leveled
grounds with 20- 25 feet high barricades surrounded by moats, 15 feet deep and 20 feet
wide. Large laterite stones from the local mines were cut and veneered squarely and
neatly. The fort barricades were built with twofold walls and 4-8 feet of space in between
them; the hollow space was filled with earthen debris. The stone cubes were arranged
without any fastening materials. At Mirjan the water filled moats were packed with
hordes of crocodiles and the deep ditches of the fort in Ankola were filled with sticky

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clay. The eclectic fortification methods of Vijayanagara implemented in the coastal


region promised security to the flourishing sea trade.

Anjaneya, the monkey god was the foremost divinity of the Sangama Dynasty. Anjaneya
is a well-respected character in the epic of Ramayana. The Anjanadri Hill, situated across
from Hampi village was Anjaneya’s alleged holy birthplace and Hampi was his mythical
kingdom. The Sangamas believed in the spirit of Anjaneya guarding the Vijayanagara
Empire. They built Anjaneya temples all across the empire, including a temple of
Anjaneya in the Ankola fort. The chieftain of Adil Shah, Sharif ul Mulk of Ponda,
destroyed the Anjaneya and Koteshwara temples, but left the fort intact. Sonda Nayakas
later on claimed the fort and rebuilt the temples. The ruler of Mysore, Hyder Ali,
conquered Uttara Kannada in 1763 AD and took control of the forts in Ankola and
Mirjan. Since the fall of Vijayanagara, the Ankola Fort changed hands a few times and
temples were refurbished at least twice before the Colonial Rule. The Collector of North
Kanara visited the fort in 1880 AD. He wrote in his report about the exotic cluster of
tropical old trees such as mango, tamarind, mangosteen, guava, custard apple, cashew,
and java plum growing wildly inside the fort. As described by the local fairy tale,
Sarpamalika, a person blessed by a snake built the fort in an unspecified era.

On the Portuguese map of Konkan drawn in the early sixteenth century, the Bay of Colla
(Ankola harbor) was shown 13 knots south of Liga (Kali River). The important ports,
Cintakala (Sadashivgad) and Mergeo (Mirjan) were also marked. It suggests that Ankola
was once called Colla by Portuguese. Adjacent to the Colla Bay in the east there was a
place called Pale which might have been the present-day Bole. What was the reason for
showing Bole on the Portuguese map? Perhaps Ankola was named in the beginning of
the sixteenth century when the father of Arasappa Nayaka of Sonda, Salwa Devarasa
(Devaraya Nayaka), was the governor of Banavasi Nadu. His mistress who lived in
Ankola was a famous dancer. People flocked to see her dance recitals in a local temple.
Ankola was named after the dancer but her name was not found; the closest feminine
name one can guess would be Ankila. Naming a temple town after the concubine of a
chieftain seems hilarious but dancing for gods in fashionable costumes perhaps made
her eligible for such an honor. Regardless, Ankola in the past was well known for its
enchanting Devadasis. People from far and wide visited Ankola for its Urvashi like
flirting women. A merchant of Venice, M. Caesar Frederick, in his diary mentioned
visiting Ankola in 1567 AD. According to some, the name for Ankola came from the
plant, Alangium Lamarckii (Botanical name) which in Hindi was called Ankola or Akola
plant. It is hard to believe that Ankola was named after an odd shrub growing wild in
India and East Africa. However, the claims of branding Ankola after a concubine or rare

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plant somehow seem to be fabricated long after the town of Ankola was mentioned in
the sixteenth century by Caesar Frederick.

The Ankola fort is one of the oldest known structures in Ankola. The ancient shrines
instituted by Kalachuris in Bhavikeri, Jain Basadi in Honnebail and Jain Tirtankara
(Mahavira?) Basadi of Ankola is even older than the Ankola fort. Obviously, the safety
promised by the fort gave enough confidence for the growth of the town of Ankola. The
next significant add-ons to the town were the lovely temples built during the reign of the
Salwa and Tuluva dynasties. Three temples, Venkataramana 1495 AD, Aryadurga 1506
AD, and Laxmi Narayana 1510 AD were constructed within a mile radius from the fort.
The urbanization process set the town boundary that was marked by the Ankola harbor
and three temples. Half a mile to the west of the fort was the bustling Hale Peti (old
bazaar). By the end of the sixteenth century, Ankola had many spinning and weaving
mills. The Ankola port exported textile and raw cotton. In the seventeenth century during
Adil Shahi rule the textile industry got bigger and the port was expanded. The blemished
landscape of the old port which was called Bandra or Bandar (port in Persian) existed
even in the beginning of the twentieth century.

The Kalachuri (Salwa) soldiers of Kalgod gained the trust of the reigning Sangama
Dynasty. Salwa Narasihma Devaraya was the chief commander during the rule of
Virupaksha Raya II. The strength of Vijayanagara began to weaken and the empire was
sinking into chaos and lawlessness. The Goa territory was lost to the Bahamani Sultans.
After the death of Virupaksha, his son Prouda Raya, even weaker than his father became
the king. Salwa Narasihma Devaraya (1485-1491 AD) in 1485 AD took over the kingdom
from the negligent emperor Proudha Raya of the Sangama Dynasty. It was the beginning
of the Salwa Dynasty (1485-1505 AD) that belonged to the Nadavaras of Uttara Kannada.
Narasihma Devaraya was the savior of the empire that was about to slip into mutiny. He
diligently benchmarked the war discipline and battle codes to keep his soldiers fit and
alert. After taking over the reign, he immediately chose Nadavaras and Bunts as the
chieftains of the cavalry of Vijayanagara. The Kalachuri chieftain of Haduvalli, an
autonomous principality of Vijayanagara opposed to the coronation of Narasihma
Devaraya. Perhaps it was due to the rivalry between the Salwa families of Adlur and
Haduvalli. The Salwas of Haduvalli were the cousins of the Salwas of Adlur. Narasihma
Devaraya removed the chief of Haduvalli bringing the region under the command of
Banavasi Nadu. Tuluva Narasa Nayaka, who hailed from the Bunt community of
Kundapura, Dakshina Kannada was appointed as the chief commander of the
Vijayanagara military. Narasa Nayaka was married to Nagamma, a Salwa woman of
Uttara Kannda. In 1491 Narasihma Devaraya died leaving behind two juvenile children,
Timma Bhupa and Narasihma II.

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Narasa Nayaka in 1491 crowned the older son of Narasihma Devaraya, and shortly after
the coronation the new king was murdered. The influential commander, Salwa
Timmayya (Timmarsa) was saddened by the murder of Timma Bhupa. Disagreements
between Narasa Nayaka and Timmarasa began to swell. The chiefs of Vijayanagara lost
their trust in Narasa Nayaka. In order to prevent possible unrest in Hampi, immediately
the juvenile brother of Timma Bhupa, Narasihma II was made the king of Vijayanagara
(in 1491). Timmarasa was enticed with the rights and privileges of Mahapradhan (prime
minister). Tuluva Narasa Nayaka took over the reign, faking the role of caretaker. In an
effort to legitimatize his rule, he seemingly played the role of a savior of Hinduism like
the Sangama kings. When Narasihma II became fourteen years old, he was placed in
confinement in Penukonada. Narasa Nayaka died in 1502 and three years later Salwa
Narasihma II was murdered; The Salwa dynasty of the Nadavaras of Uttara Kannada
came to an end in 1505. Vijayanagara during the Salwa Dynasty had the largest Cavalry
in Southeast Asia, consisting of thirty-five thousand horses. Salwas, being passionate
horse riders, built their military with a strong cavalry which dominated their war
strategies. The Tuluvas, successors of Salwas, also gave importance to the cavalry force.

Krishna Devaraya was the son of Salwa Nagamma and Tuluva Narasa Nayaka.
Nagamma was called Salwa Nagala Devi after her marriage to Narasa Nayaka. Nagala
Devi was a Jain woman from Banavasi Nadu. She was related to Salwa Timmarasa
(Timmayya Nayaka). Krishna Devaraya was not born in Hampi. His date of birth and
birthplace are unknown. He was probably born in Banavasi Nadu, his maternal wing.
The sculpture at Hampi of young Krishna Devaraya sitting with his relative from Bole, a
coastal village near Ankola in Uttara Kannada is intriguing. Bole was village in Banavasi
Nadu during the Vijayanagara Empire. The relative in the carving might be Krishna
Devaraya’s cousin and brother-in-law, Salwa Devaraya, governor of Banavasi Nadu.
Probably Nagala Devi was a woman from Bole. Nadavaras of Bole for long time had
treasured Pawanas (gold coins) of Vijayanagara featuring the Hindu gods. The coins
possessed by the Krishna Naik’s family later in the twentieth century were converted to
jewelries for nuptial ceremonies.

Timmarasa was a progeny of the Salwa Dynasty. Tuluva Narasa Nayaka made him the
prime minister of Vijayanagara. Viranarasihma (1505-1509 AD), the half-brother of
Krishna Devaraya extended Timmarasa’s tenure. Krishna Devaraya (1509-1529 AD)
ascended to the throne of Vijayanagara after the death of his brother and Timmarasa
continued with his obligatory role. Timmarasa was the prime minister under three
different kings. He arranged the coronation of the emperor on the holy day of
Gokulashtami, the celebration of God Krishna’s birthday. He was the fatherly figure to

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the Emperor. Krishna Devaraya, acting on the advice of Timmarasa, built Nagalanagara
near Hospete, Karnataka as the memorial of his mother. Tirumala Raya, the son of
Krishna Devaraya was made Yuvaraja (crown prince) in 1524 AD. He accidentally died
and was suspected of poisoning. Krishna Devaraya accused his trusted advisor,
Timmarasa and had him blinded. Also, his innocent son Timmanna was executed. The
love story between Krishna Devaraya and Timmarasa ended in tragedy. Krishna
Devaraya apparently regretted of his actions in his death bed.

The Venkataramana Temple in Tirupati was the prime holy place of Krishna Devaraya.
He rejuvenated the temple lavishly with gold and diamonds. Sculptured gold statues of
Krishna Devaraya and his two wives, Chinnamma and Tirumala, were instituted in the
temple corridor. Till 1945, Kalasha, sacred silver pot from the Tirupati Venkataramana
Temple was brought to Bole every year in October. The Kalasha spent one holy week in
Krishna Naik’s house at Bole and a week in Kanabera temple, Bhavikeri. The unique
relation between Bole and Tirupati obviously makes one think of the kinship of Krishna
Devaraya with the Nadavaras of Bole and Vandige. Two families of Bole are still living
in two-hundred-year-old huge homes with thick fort like walls and carved doors and
pillars. The gigantic proportions of these old structures indicate some sort of stately
relations to the residents of the homes in Bole. These antique houses were built two
centuries after the end of Vijayanagara but what kind of structures did exist in Bole
during Vijayanagara? One family of Bole and one from Vandige, in the early Nineteenth
century concealed large amount of their ancestral gold in an anonymous temple, since
they were concerned about the confiscation of treasures by the Colonial rulers. A
generation after the families couldn’t find their gold in the temple. Further research of
Bole and Vandige villages may shed light on the ancestry of Nadavaras and their
relations to Vijayanagara.

Salwa Devaraya Nayaka, the son in low of Tuluva Narasa Nayaka was the Governor of
Banavasi Nadu. Devaraya’s younger brother, Salwa Krishna was the care taker of the
Bhatkal port. Devaraya facilitated building many temples in Uttar Kannada including
Aryadurga of Ankola. The old fort in Ankola built during the reign of the Sangama
Dynasty was Devaraya Nayaka’s abode. The name of Timmanna Nayaka was somehow
associated with the Portuguese horse trade. He was possibly a commander who perhaps
lived in Ankola fort along with Devaraya Nayaka. The Vijayanagara navy had two
hundred boats to guard the horse trade. There was a mile long restricted and partly
underground passage from the fort to the Ankola harbor. The passage provided secret
access to the harbor. Saraswata accountants came from Goa to manage the horse trade.
Saraswats with Devaraya’s help brought the idol of Laxmi Narayana from Nagwe, Goa

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to Ankola. The Laxmi Narayana temple was built in Ankola in 1510 in Vandige, a suburb
of Ankola.

The South Indian sultry weather was not suitable for breeding horses. Vijayanagara
kings imported Arabian horses from the Middle East. During the Tuluva Vira Narasihma
regime (1503-1509 AD) both Portuguese and Arabs sold horses to Vijayanagara kings in
tandem with Bijapur Adil Shah. The most celebrated emperor, Krishna Devaraya, was
concerned about the trade practices of Arabs. He made the trade agreement exclusively
with Portuguese for supplying horses and dropped the Arabian suppliers. Devaraya
Nayaka along with his assistant, Timmanna Nayaka was made responsible for
complying with the Portuguese Trade Agreement. The Portuguese stopped supplying
horses to Adil Shah, who in due course started buying horses from pirates at high prices.
Timoji of Goa was an infamous pirate who maneuvered from Anjadiv and was a threat
to cargo ships between Bhatkal and Goa. Still he was clever enough to maintain relations
with the Portuguese and Vijayanagara. Timoji helped the Portuguese with his spy
network to penetrate through the strong garrison built by Adil Shah in Goa. The
Portuguese Viceroy, Alfonso de Albuquerque in 1510 AD defeated Yusuf Adil Shah and
occupied Tiswadi Island of Goa. Even after receiving high honors from Portuguese,
Timoji returned to his notorious profession. Piracy became persistent nuisance. Jointly,
the Portuguese and Devaraya Nayaka captured Timoji, who was later executed by the
Portuguese. The Haduvalli chief didn’t help to prevent pirate incidents in Bhatkal. The
sovereign status savored by the Haduvalli principality was ceased by Devaraya.

The logistics of transporting horses from the ports of Konkan to Vijayanagara was a well-
organized efficient routine. Portuguese Horses arriving at Goa and Bhatkal ports were
brought to Vasare-Kudaragi (Abode for Horses) before transporting them to
Vijayanagara. Vasare is sited on the north-shore of the Gangavali River, seven miles east
of Ankola. Being in the middle of Bhatkal and Goa ports, the village of Vasare was chosen
for the sole purpose of consolidating horses arriving at two different ports. The horses
were transferred from the cargo ships to smaller ships and transported to Ankola and
Vasare-Kudaragi ports. The horses were brought for cost assessment to Jamagod, which
was a flatland of Bole. The relics of horse tracks and stone columns for tying down horses
existed till 1960s in Jamagod. A road, the Bellari Margh was constructed for transporting
horses. The Bellari Road started in Agsur which was about three miles east of Vasare.
Between Agsur and Vasare-Kudaragi a circular racetrack half a mile in diameter was
built to try out the horses. The horses were washed in the Ganagavali River and before
heading towards Hampi, prayed at the Hulideva (Tiger God) temple in Agsur for
protecting horses from tiger attacks.

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Krishna Devaraya died of a sudden illness in 1529 AD. Instability spread all over
Vijayangara. The feudatories began to revolt, and sultanates announced Jihad against
the Hindu empire. Achuta Devaraya, the half-brother of Krishna Devaraya held on to
the empire uneventfully till 1542 AD. Then the control of the kingdom was taken over
by the son-in-law of Krishna Devaraya, Ramaraya of the Aravidu Dynasty. He was the
regent for the boy-king Sadashivaraya, the nephew of Krishna Devaraya. But actually,
Sadashivaraya was held in custody by Ramaraya and his brothers, Venkatadri and
Tirumalaraya. Ramaraya was never officially enthroned, since he was not a progeny of
the Tuluva Dynasty. His greed kept him in power till he was very old. The subordinate
and feudal rulers could not interact with Ramaraya. The cavalrymen were subservient
to the Tulu dynasty and didn’t approve of Ramaraya’s role. Ramaraya tried to curb the
dominance of the cavalry by reducing its strength from 35,000 to 20,000 and tripled the
elephant brigade. The war strategy had to change significantly. Vijayanagara, rather than
relying on cavalry to penetrate enemy defense, used slow moving mighty elephants as
spearhead to pound the enemy’s line of attack. Even though the Vijayanagara army was
large in figures it was equipped for minor battles that could oppress the Sultanates
individually.

Ramaraya removed competent officials and replaced them with people related to him.
Ramaraya in 1557 made a secretive accord with Ali Adil Shah and his wife adopted Ali
as her adopted son. Ali amicably complied with Rama Raya’s demands only to build
muscle for a future confrontation. He appointed Muslim commanders, Gilani brothers
who had defected from the army of Ali Adil Shah. A few competent chieftains left
Vijayanagara to join Goa and Travancore kingdoms. Salwa Honnappa Nayaka, the chief
commander of the cavalry appointed by Achuta Raya was murdered. The relations with
the Portuguese in Goa deteriorated. Ramaraya fought irrelevant battles followed by
unsatisfying victories and mediocre results. The army consisting of three hundred
thousand soldiers was tired of trivial wars and was morally fragmented. The natural
resources of the empire were steadily declining, and the maintenance of its large military
became unbearably expensive. Highly elevated trajectory of the standard of living in
Hampi was gradually declining. The feudatories could not afford the rising taxation
imposed on them. Ramaraya’s abysmal dictatorship was a precursor to the imminent
demise of Vijayanagara.

Ramaraya lacked the political savvy to be a successful ruler of Vijayanagara. He


underestimated the grave threat of the Bahamani Sultanates. His political organization
existed to carry out deliberate insults to the neighboring Sultanates. Ramaraya scornfully
disrespected the cabinet and military chieftains. His despicable behavior was
passionately hated by his subordinates and the sultanates. There was no broad plan in

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place to maintain the integrity of the south Indian empire. The growing antagonism
against Ramaraya was the reason for the alliance of the southern sultanates. The five
Bahamani Sultans, Ibrahim Qutub Shah: Golconda, Hussain Nizam Shah: Ahmad Nagar:
Ali Adil Shah Bijapur, Burhan Imad Shah: Berar, Ali Barid Shah: Bidar met at Talikota
in Deccember 1564. The martial muscle of Vijayanagara was no longer strong enough to
wage a war against the joint forces of Sultanates. But Ramaraya’s egotism and desire for
self-promotion blinded him from the reality of looming danger. The Sultans through
their stealth operatives were well informed of the war strategies of Ramaraya. Sultans
were ready for the long-waited opportunity, with the agile cavalry of 40,000 horses and
far reaching robust cannons.

The soldiers of Vijayanagara had to cross the Krishna River to meet the joint forces of
Sultanates at Rakkasagi and Tangadagi, situated ten miles apart on the north bank of the
Krishna River. Ramaraya’s two Islamic commanders, the Gilani brothers who controlled
large legions of foot-soldiers, deserted the Vijayangara army in the middle of the war.
Ali Adil Shah’s sneaky plot of secretly inserting Gilani brothers two years before the war
in the Vijayanagara army worked out flawlessly. The army of Vijayanagara was shocked
by the sudden unanticipated crafty strategy of Sultanates. The war took an asymmetrical
form within a few hours, like a knockout in the first round of a boxing bout. Perplexed,
Ramaraya was captured and was beheaded by Hussain Nizam Shah of Ahamadnagar. It
was an act of burning vengeance of Hussain Shah, who was dishonored and offended by
Ramaraya on many occasions in the past. The massive army of Vijayanagara succumbed
to the methodically planned guile of Sultanates. Hussain Shah marched around on the
war field with Ramaraya’s head held on a spear. The Bahamani soldiers stampeded over
the retreating Vijayanagara army. Thousands of fleeing soldiers of Vijayangara while
trying to cross the river were shot with arrows. Adil Shah had sent a private letter to
Ramaraya a few days before the war stating that he would stay neutral. On the contrary
the night before the war the soldiers of Adil Shah had secretly crossed river to the south
bank of Krishna. The Vijayanagra soldiers were massacred from both sides of the river.
Thousands of dead bodies were floating in the river and Krishna turned into a river of
blood. The Vijayanagara army was destroyed and the heroic effort of its soldiers abruptly
came to a sad conclusion. Tirumal Raya, the brother of Ramaraya took loads of the
treasured fortune of Vijayanagara and established his own Aravidu kingdom in
Penukonda, Andhra Pradesh.

The majestic empire succumbed to the united coalition of Sultanates in the historic battle
of Talikota on January 26, 1565. Aftermath of the battle was obvious. It was the gloomiest
night when an enormous breaking wave of the Bahamani soldiers rolled over Hampi.
The victorious Bahamani soldiers savagely slaughtered its residents, destroyed temples,

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robbed the palaces and pillaged treasures amassed for two centuries. The scourge of
tyranny spread all over Hampi and beyond. The bustling city of rulers and riches turned
into a ghost town. The stylish human habitation of Hampi was savagely foraged by
looters and scavengers. Ramaraya’s fixated unruly disengagement weakened the
integrity of the strongest empire of that time. Shrinking the strong cavalry built by
Krishna Devaraya to accommodate a few more elephants proved to be a misstep of
Ramaraya. But naively hiring the commanders defected from Adil Shah’s army proved
to be the biggest blunder ever committed in the history of Vijayanagara. His greed for
power turned out to be the blinders. Indirectly Ramaraya became his own executioner.

The war of Talikota was not entirely a war between two religious factions, as many
historians stated. The inequalities in wealth, political freedom and religious rights were
the major reasons for the hostilities between the two neighbors. The wealth of
Vijayanagara was accentuated by the rich crops of fertile southern table land, diamond
mines of the Krishna and Tungabadra regions, high-priced spices of Malenadu and
natural ports of South Konkan. Bahamani Sultanates strived to seize the resourceful
Vijayanagara for centuries. The prolonged conflict between two rivals to control the
diamond mines was stretched out for two centuries. The serial of wars that began in 1358
between Bukkaraya and Mohammad Shah was concluded by Ramaraya and Bahamani
Sultanates in 1565 at the battle of Talikota. The confederation of the Sultanates came out
victorious, but the war drained out any vigor left in them. Sultans rejoiced the capture of
the diamond mines, but diamonds were all gone out of the mines. The superior quality
diamond supply of South Africa entered the European markets around the same time.
The Tungabadra diamond rush proved to be an exhaustive endeavor and the victory
celebration of the sultans was short lived. The Inter-sultanate conflicts obviously
disintegrated the coalition and Mogul rulers of Delhi gobbled up the Deccan sultanates
one by one.

The manifestation of Vijayanagara was enviously admired by the visiting emissaries and
dignitaries from Europe and Asia. Abdur Razzak, the ambassador from Persia in 1443
made a note “The eyes never saw such a place like the city of Vijayanagara, and ears
never heard that there existed anything to equal such a splendor.” The glorifying
eulogies by the famous visitors like, Niccolo Conti (1420s), Abdur Razzak (1443), Duarte
Barbosa (1504-14), Domingo Paes (1520-22) and Fernao Nuniz (1535-37) made
Vijayanagara arrogant and conceited, only to meet its ultimate destiny. The deadly war
of Talikota was the most dreadful disaster that Nadavaras ever encountered. The ill-
fated cavalrymen rode their horses into the death trap. After the battle what might have
happened to all the women and young children left behind in Vijayanagara, is hard not
to think. Nadavaras never regained the lost charisma and status. Their virtue was on

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decline and confidence was shattered. For two centuries they played the second fiddle in
the kingdoms of Adil Shah, Keladi Nayakas and Mysore Sultans, and then for the next
hundred and fifty years they were seen as militants by the British. In all situations the
memories of Vijayanagara lingered on. Hampi was remorsefully remembered as the
graveyard of their ancestors. For the longest time Hampi had a special place deep in the
hearts of Nadavaras. They still sing moving songs referring to the last war of
Vijayanagara. Once a highly esteemed vibrant city, an object of admiration by scores of
foreign travelers during the late medieval ages is now a vast landscape of relics and
rubles watched over by the UNESCO World Heritage Society.

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Migration to Malenadu

The mighty Vijayanagara abruptly came to an end. The music of Nadavara glory stopped
all of a sudden. Finding a place to hide, however tough and uncomfortable, appeared
imperative to them. The violent upheaval caused by the war of Talikot expelled
Nadavaras living in Vijayanagara in a few flocks who made their way to Western Ghats.
According to the oral history, Nadavaras brought with them gold that they possessed,
on ponies to the Western Ghats (Malenadu). For the people on the run, gold was the
defining currency for surviving in an alien exile. The feudatory kingdoms of
Vijayanagara, Sonda and Gersappa were related to each other by marriage. Also, both
were related to the Salwas of Konkan or Nadavaras. Refugees in pursuit of asylum on
the mountain ridges of Sahyadri turned to the local rulers of Sonda and Gersoppa. Living
in the thick forest of Malenad was a new experience. Heavy torrential monsoon rainfall
in uncharted rugged terrain seemed impracticable for human habitat. Initially the
refugees of Vijayanagara settled in Sonda, Hulekal, Banavasi, Chandragutti, Bilgi,
Haduvalli, Gersappa and Kuchinad. Nadavara Beera and Sati stones erected in the honor
of the victims of Vjayanagara stood as testimonials in Sonda, Bilgi and Chandragutti. The
Nadavara arrivals from Hampi visibly boosted the Jain activities in Uttara Kannada. In
the beginning to hide from Adil Shah of Bijapur Nadavaras lived in camouflaged shelters
in isolated places. He attacked Keladi rulers twice but didn’t harm the refugees of
Vijayanagara. The renaissance in the extreme weather of Malenadu, which was highly
prone to endemic diseases was challenging.

After the last war of Vijayanagara (1565) many Nadavara and Brahmin families settled
in Western Ghats under the shelter of Gersappa Queen Chennabhairadevi and Sonda
King, Arasappa Nayaka. Supposedly Saraswatas of Kuchinadu were refugees from
Vijayangara. Sonda and Gersappa kingdoms were well protected by Adilshahi after the
loss of Vijayanagara. The main revenue streams for the feudatory kingdoms came from

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taxation on land and businesses, port and customs duties. The refugees of Vijayanagara
were assigned to the tax collector’s duties. The bookkeeping function was performed by
the professional Brahmin accountants. The refugees who belonged to the armed forces
of Vijayanagara perhaps felt the loss of relevance at least during the early periods in
Malenadu. Sonda was split in three Seemes, (1. Menasi, 2. Karwar, 3. Ankola); Gersappa
was divided in two Semmes (Mirjan and Chandavara). Each of the five Seemes had a
leader in charge of Seeme’s tax collectors. The Seeme leaders later during the English rule
were named Gaonkars which was emulated from the Comunidade system of Portuguese
Goa. The refugees had little choice but to settle for the job of tax collector even though
they felt the function was inferior to the prior military profession. The Seeme leader’s
responsibility of tax collection was further extended to deal with temple administration.
Temples rented out the land that they owned. Possibly Nadavara tax collectors helped
temples in tax collection. The Sonda King controlled the forts in Ankola and
Sadashivgad. The queen of Gersappa continued sea trade through the Ankola and
Chittakula belonging to Sonda. The defining boundary between Sonda and Gersappa
kingdoms wasn’t distinctly marked. Such amicable relation among the two neighboring
rulers is suggestive of the mutual protection from neighbors.

Even in subordination, Keladi Nayakas weren’t fully cooperative with Vijayanagara.


Venkatappa Nayaka (1586-1629 AD) who took over the realm twenty years after the end
of Vijayanagara was the most capable chief of Keladi. He took full advantage of the
demise of Vijayanagara. Venkatappa Nayaka disengaged the Vijayanagara system of
revenue collection and implemented a new means of land taxation. In 1606 he defeated
Chennabhairadevi and imprisoned till her death. Sannamma temple of Ankola was built
in the memories of Chennabhairadevi. The Jainism didn’t have any support during
Venkatappa’s reign. In fact, he was the person responsible for destroying the famous
Basadis of Haduvalli. In early 1600s the distinctly detached stance of Sonda and Keladi
kingdoms perhaps upset the integrity of Seemis. Nadavara existence in the Keladi
Kingdom was muted by the apprehensive feelings of living under the shadows of the
Keladi Dynasty. Facing the state run religious propaganda of Virashaivas, Nadavaras
became excessively protective of Jainism. The cautious attitude was extended to Sonda.
The Nadavara subordination to Keladi was oscillating between loyalty and hostility,
trust and suspicion.

Keladi Nayakas were perhaps apprehensive of the Nadavaras of Haduvalli. Venkatappa


Nayaka for a mysterious reason resented Nadavaras of Haduvalli. He totally obliterated
all four Jain-Nadavara families living in the region. It is possible that they were somehow
connected to Chennabhairadevi. Or would it be recurrence of the ancient forgotten
hostility between Kalachuris and Virashaivas? Such an unimaginable monstrous act
ruined the Nadavara diplomatic relationship with Venkatappa. The Nadavaras of Uttara

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Kannada abandoned their temples in Haduvalli. The renowned Basadis of Haduvalli


slowly deteriorated after losing its patrons. The Nadavras living in Haduvalli were of
the Kalachuri (Salva) origin. The brutal butchery was undoubtedly a spiteful
demonstration of hatred towards Jainism. The Haduvalli massacre induced sudden
anxiety and exasperation in Nadavaras living in Sonda. Venkatappa later tried to
establish cordial relations with the Nadavaras of Kagal and Bilgi. He sanctioned
autonomy to Jitta Nayaka of Kagal. The memory of Haduvalli tragedy stayed with the
Nadavaras of Torke for over three centuries. Perhaps the Nadavaras of Torke while
living in Chandavara frequently encountered religious discrimination under the Keladi
Nayakas.

The son of Venkatappa, Virabhadra Nayaka, was not strong enough to hold the throne
of Keladi. He began to buckle under the pressure from Portuguese. At the dictate of
Portuguese, he attacked Sonda kingdom and lost the battle. The annoyed Nadavaras
since the Haduvalli massacre joined the Sonda forces of Madhulinga Nayaka to support
Virabhadra’s uncle, Shivappa Nayaka (1645-1660 Ad), an older man who was eager to
take control of Keladi. Shivappa successfully claimed the Keladi throne in 1645 AD and
moved his capital from Keladi to Bidanur. He appointed the son of a commander from
Chandragutti, young Timmanna Nayaka, as the governor of the southern province of the
Keladi Kingdom. Because of his exceptional acumen in warfare and diplomatic skills,
Timmanna became a trusted strategist of Shivappa. Eventually he became the chief
minister of Keladi. Shivappa took control of the Mirjan Fort from Adil Shah. The realm
of Keladi extended up to the southern bank of Gangavali. Timmanna did not like the
Portuguese for assisting Virabhadra in the prior conflicts against Shivappa Nayaka, and
totally drove their presence out of the Keladi Kingdom including the Portuguese
settlement in Agargon on the southern bank of Gangavali. Akerkon (Agargon) was an
early settlement of the Portuguese traders who exported cotton and rice to Portugal. In
the late eighteenth century, Nadavaras occupied Agargon.

The Chandavara and Mirjan Seemis that belonged to Gersappa became part of the Keladi
kingdom while Menasi, Ankola and Karwar were still in the Sonda territory. Nadavara
chiefs remained as the tax collectors of Seemis. Keladi Shivappa Nayaka retracted back
to the taxation system similar to what it was during the time of Vijayanagara. The tax in
the areas where they harvested pricey produce was almost 50% of the yield. Certain
spices such as pepper and cardamom were exclusively cultivated by the state in both
Keladi and Sonda provinces. The taxation in Keladi was significantly higher than in
Sonda. Shivappa was a dedicated devotee of the Mahabaleshwara Temple in Gokarna.
The Nadavara chief of the Mirjan Seeme rebuilt the Mahabaleshwara Temple complex of
Gokarna. A Hawyaka Brahmin scholar trained in Varanasi was brought to conduct

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religious rituals at the temple. For the Nadavaras allied with Sonda the Venkatramana
Temple of Ankola was the main place of worship. Nadavaras living in Sonda territory
possessed more land. The economic and social lifestyles of Nadavaras living on either
side of the Sonda-Keladi border began to diverge. Eventually the Nadavara community
was internally split between the Sonda and Keladi dominions. Even the Nadavara
marriages across the Keladi and Sonda border came to a halt. The match making between
the two sides started again towards the very end of the nineteenth century when North
Kanara was in the Bombay Presidency. One of the earliest marriages took place in 1895
between Beeranna Giriyanna Gaonkar of Bhavikeri and Durga Kuchinad Gaonkar of
Hanehalli.

Keladi Chennamma (1671-1696) although not the most dominant, was the most famous
ruler of the Keladi dynasty. She was born in a common Jain Bant family of Dakshina
Kannada. Chennamma, ruled Keladi, after her husband, Somashekhara, deserted the
kingdom to live with a dancer, Kalavati. A Portuguese visitor described Chennamma
“beautiful woman and shrewd ruler.” Timmanna Nayaka was her chief minister and a
friend of the family. It was Timmanna’s demands that made Chennamma to assume the
throne of Keladi. They always functioned jointly for the wellbeing of Keladi. However,
he strongly opposed to Chennamma’s adoption of Basappa. The adoption of Basappa
rather hinged on her maternal feelings than choosing an able prince to take care of Keladi.
Angry, Timmanna left Bidanur.

After staying away for a year Timmanna returned to Keladi when he heard of Adil Shah’s
incursion of Keladi in Bhuvangiri. Perhaps Timmanna felt guilty for leaving Chennamma
alone to face mighty Adil Shah. He arrived with his own band of brave men to
Bhuvangiri. In the thick forest his soldiers slaughtered the aggressors. Adil Shah had to
withdraw his army without any reward. Chatrapati Shivaji in 1775 covertly learnt about
the Adil Shah’s plan to invade the Mirjan Fort and marched at once into Uttara Kannada.
Shivaji captured Sadashivdad and Ankola forts held by the Sonda kings. Chennamma
made truce with Shivaji in Uravali on the northern bank of Gangavali River, seven miles
south of Ankola and appealed for protection against the Portuguese and Adil Shah.
Keladi had good relationship with Marathas. As a gesture of protection for Keladi,
Shivaji maintained his presence in Sadashivagad and returned the Ankola Fort to
Sadashiva Nayaka. Sonda kings held on to the Ankola Fort till Haidar Ali occupied
Uttara Kannada.

The Mughal soldiers in 1689 invaded Keladi with an excuse of detaining Rajaram, the
son of Shivaji. Opposing the army of Aurangzeb became a matter of concern for
Timmanna, but still with his much smaller army, he capably confronted the Mughal

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invasion led by one of the noble chieftains of Aurangzeb, Azamat Araa. The Mughal raid
in the rugged mountains of Sahyadri under heavy rainy conditions was totally
ineffective. The surprise onslaught of the Keladi soldiers in the thick forest inflicted
heavy casualties on enemies. However, the kingdom of Keladi was too small to oppose
the mighty Mughal army for a prolonged time. Both sides agreed to sign a peace treaty
of mutual convenience. Aurangzeb agreed to defend against the probable Portuguese
attack on the ports of Keladi. Keladi just for its existence paid heavy tributes to the
Moghals and Marathas. The taxation on land had to be increased and on top the
supplementary tax called Pugda was added. The critical new taxation for the safety of
Keladi made the naive land owners unhappy. Towards the end of Timmannas tenure,
his popularity declined.

Timmanna was the main architect of the ambassadorial strategies of Keladi. Reminiscent
of the strategy of Switzerland during the World Wars, the tiny kingdom of Keladi
survived through wisely calculated neutrality policy founded on the delicate relations
with its neighbors. The Portuguese and Marathas were aware of Timmanna’s tactical
flair. Marathas from the north attacked Goa frequently. Goa could not afford to have
another enemy on the southern front. Portuguese were allowed to make use of Honavara
and Mirjan ports to export spices and rice to Europe. The Nadavaras of Hiregutti thought
of him to be one of their own. The 1904 Gazetteer of Bombay stated that Timmanna, a
toddy tapper (Halepaika?) became the commander of Keladi. The gazetteers compiled at
the end of nineteenth and in the beginning of the twentieth century were often written
with flawed historical data or questionable references. It is also possible that his
forefathers worked with Nadavara soldiers in the past. Regardless Timmanna played an
important role in protecting the Keladi Kingdom since the time of Shivappa Nayaka. He
was forever the deputy of Keladi rulers; his boundless devotion to the Keladi Kingdom
always stayed behind the curtain.

In the sixteenth century, Vijayanagara established the Sonda Principality on the banks of
Shalmala River in Uttar Kannada. The Sonda rulers were branded by an English historian
of the nineteenth century “the small mountain tribe of Uttara Kannada.” They belonged
to the tiny population of Salwas or Jains living in the Adlur region. Even in the twentieth
century, to the sophisticated eyes of an Englishman the semi attired mountain dwellers
of Malenadu would have looked like primitive tribe. The territory of Sonda included
northern Uttara Kannada, eastern Goa and southern Belgaum. The Sonda dynasty was
founded by Arasappa Nayaka II (1555-1598), the grandson (daughter’s son) of Tuluva
Narasa Nayaka. He was the son of Salwa Devaraya and the great grandson of Salwa
Arasaappa Nayaka I, the ruler of the Haive region during the Sangama dynasty in the
first half of the fifteenth century. Explaining in another perspective, Devaraya Nayaka

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was the maternal cousin and brother in law of Krishna Devaraya. He was the governor
of Banavasi Nadu under the Tuluva Dynasty during the first half of the sixteenth century.
Krishna Devaraya did not have children for a long time and allegedly had promised his
sister of crowning her son Arasappa, if he did not have any offspring of his own. After
the sudden death of Krishna Devaraya, the future of Arasappa was limited to the
governorship of Sonda.

Arasappa Nayaka was the most illustrious king of the Sonda dynasty. He was best-
known for his commitment to Jainism. Akalanka, a Jain monk and a scholar from
Sangeetapura worked closely with Arasappa as the main advisor. During the reign of
Krishna Devaraya of Vijayanagara, a Gurukul (school) teaching children in martial art
was instituted in Sonda. Arasappa expanded the Gurukul to include Vedic studies under
the guidance of Vadiraja of Udupi who was a counselor to Krishnadevaraya. The
Gurukul was named Vadiraja Matha which accommodated sixty students from
diversified ethnic backgrounds, Nadavara (33%), Havyaka Brahmin (33%) and other
sects (33%). Including Narayana Bhatta, the right-hand man of Vadiraja, the school
employed six other teachers. After the fall of Vijayanagara, the Sonda kingdom
established allegiance with Adil Shah and it became the protectorate territory of the
Bijapur Sultanates. Arasappa was the governor of Sonda during the reign of Ramaraya.
Adil Shah addressed Arasappa Nayaka as the King of Sonda, which was Adil Shah’s
expression of respect for Arasappa Nayaka. Gurukul continued to exist under the
Bahamanis. Many Salwa families of Hampi took shelter in Sonda and probably their
children were trained in the Gurukul. Arasappa, while under the rule of Adil Shah
providing refuge to the expatriates of Vijayanagara was a bold course. Perhaps Adil Shah
wasn’t as antagonistic to the Salwa clan as he was to the Aravidu dynasty. The cordial
rapport reveals that the sovereignty of Sonda was well accepted by Adil Shah.

Madhulinga Nayaka (1638- 1674 AD), the king of Sonda was the grandson of Arasappa
Nayaka II. In the second half of the seventeenth century, he gave up Jainism and accepted
the Virashaiva faith, a sect within Hinduism. The Jainism was gradually fading in the
region and the neighboring Virashaiva rulers were threatening the sovereignty of the
Sonda dynasty. The acceptance of Virashaivism by Madhulinga was a strategic move to
sustain the reign of Sonda. According to the well-known anecdotal account, Madhulinga
to prove his faith in Virashaivism imposed ruler’s entitlement on a Nadagir Brahmin
woman and forced her to marry a shoemaker of the Dalit caste. The dejected woman
committed suicide. The outraged Nadavara families of Sonda and Bilgi who were closely
linked with the Nadagir Brahmins called upon Madhulinga Nayaka to revert to Jainism.
Since then the Sonda Dynasty disengaged its kinship with Nadavaras. The event stirred
up unrest within the Sonda Kingdom. The Sonda dynasty, in an effort to mitigate the

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damage to the social integrity instituted Marikamba temple as the memorial of the
Nadagir woman. The people of Uttara Kannada used to tell the fairytale of a virtuous
princess unknowingly getting married to a shoemaker who turned into a buffalo at night.
On a stormy no-moon night, the woman climbed an Ashwatha tree after strangling her
husband, the buffalo. The tree instantly started growing taller and carried the woman
beyond the clouds into the paradise. The myth is a takeoff from the actual history of
Marikamba temple.

The revered idol of Virashaivism, Basava (bull) became the insignia of the Sonda kings.
Mahabaleshwara in Gokarna was their main temple of worship. Madhulinga Nayaka
prior to his conversion to Virashaivism had married a Jain-Nadavara woman, Beramma
from Bargi of Gokarna (Mirjan) Seeme. They had two children, Sadashiva and Savitri.
Both the siblings were trained in Vadiraj Matha by a martial art expert, Ranavir Singh.
By the age of twelve Savitri excelled her bother in the martial disciplines. Savitri at the
age of fifteen married Isha Prabhu, the king of Belavadi in Karnataka and adopted new
name, Belavadi Mallamma (1658-1717 AD). She is well known for her valiant effort to
save her husband's kingdom from the aggression of Maratha kings, Shivaji and his son
Shambaji. Her brother Sadashiva rebuilt the rundown fort in Chittakula near Karwar
when he was the governor of the western region of Sonda. Sadashivgada was named
after Sadashiva Nayaka (1674-97 AD). The Karwar Seeme, stretching from Majali to
Algeri was a Nadavara strong base. Suggestive signs of the Nadavara domicile can still
be found in Majali, Sadashivgda, Binaga and Arga. Perhaps they moved a few miles
south to Ankola and Gokarna Seemis at the end of eighteenth century.

In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the mainstream Hindu culture was resentful
of the rulers of Sonda, Bilgi and Gersappa for promoting the Jain Basadis and Shrines in
Uttara Kannada. After Keladi and Sonda rulers accepted Virashaivism in the seventeenth
century, the customs of Jainism seemed odd in the midst of widely held Hinduism. The
very existence of the Jainism in Uttara Kannada was threatened by the Keladi kings and
the critical support for the Jain religious institutions was eroding. The Jain ethnicity was
disrespectfully viewed by the mainstream Hindus. The hounding social anxiety led
Nadavaras to slowly adopt religious viewpoints of the Hinduism which was not all that
different from Hinduism. Gradually Nadavaras merged with Vaishnavism, a
denomination of Hinduism. The king of Sonda, Madhulinga Nayaka was perhaps the
one of the earliest Nadavara men to give up Jainism and Naga Nayaka, the ruler of Kagal
was one of the last Nadavaras to give up Jainism at the beginning of the nineteenth
century when he lost Kumti (Kumta) to the Colonial Rulers. Nadavaras became Hindus
between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries. Jain Basadis faded away leaving
behind withered relics as testimony of their existence.

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In Malenad, the exiled Nadavaras stayed away from all public appearances. The
isolation relinquished their religious rituals to a considerable degree. They unreservedly
supported Jain monasteries and Hindu temples, but tried to abstain from religious
gatherings. Thathacharya was the spiritual guide and priest since the time of
Vijayanagara. After their migration to Uttara Kannada, Nadavaras established their own
religious center, Thathacharya Matha in Gokarna. In 1763, when Haidar Ali attacked
Keladi, a minority faction of Nadavaras supported Haidar. The conquest of Keladi and
Bednur gave Haidar the possession of Uttara Kannada. Thathachrya, denounced the
Nadavara bloc aligned with Haidar. The angry cohorts of Haider murdered the Guru a
year later in Gokarna. Another anecdotal story illustrates that Tatacharya was closer to
the converted Hindu Nadavaras. The jealous Jain Nadavaras were the ones responsible
for the Guru’s murder. Both stories may be true, as the Nadavara faction associated with
Haidar Ali might have been following Jainism. In fact, the cronies of Haider Ali, Nayakas
of Avarsa, Honnappa Nayaka of Agsur and Naga Nayaka of Kagal were the followers of
Jainism. Even though majority of Nadavaras were against Haidar Ali, he didn’t take any
noticeable action on the community. The British invaded Uttara Kannada soon after
defeating Tipu Sultan. Mr. Munroe, the Collector of Canara sent troops to arrest the
perpetrators allied with Tipu Sultan. The British soldiers captured Honnappa Nayaka
then an older man in the thick forest near Kekani, Uttara Kannada and executed him.
The retribution was without proving him guilty of any crime. However, his execution
was viewed by the orthodoxy as the curse of Tatacharya. The community carried the
burden of blame for a long time like the dead albatross around the neck. During those
days Guru’s murder was considered to be a mammoth blunder. The entire community
was accused of Guru’s murder even though the majority was not involved in the crime.
The murder of Thathacharya projected a negative image of the community. After
Thathacharya’s murder Nadavaras never had a spiritual leader.

The British rule for collecting taxes created the Revenue Department and consequently
the Seeme leaders lost their authority on taxation. Even then in the beginning of the
twentieth century, the Nadavara chiefs of the five Seemis were honored at the
Madhukeshwara Temple in Banavasi. In recognition of the Ainada (five kingdoms)
Dores (kings), the names of five Seemes were called out to receive the blessings of
Madhukeshwara during the festival in Banavasi. Like in the democratic government of
today, the taxation authorities were flattered during the autonomous rule of Sonda and
Gersappa. This ritual of addressing five Seeme leaders probably started in the Sixteenth
century during the time of Arasappa Nayaka and Chennabhairadevi. Primitive religious
rituals tend to exist forever as a part of religious ceremony without any rhyme or reason.

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The Nadavara involvement in the temples of Uttara Kannada steadily declined after the
Revenue Department took control of the land owned by the temples. The temple
properties were distributed to the tenants of temples under the Permanent Ownership
Rule. The land rent was determined according to the new guidelines set by the Revenue
Department. Frequently, the Taluka revenue officials auctioned lands and even gave out
lands for free. In the absence of land rent the temples faced fiscal problems and solely
had to depend on the donations from the devotees. In the nineteenth century temples
dealt with the people’s health issues and priests played the role of medical doctors.
Patients with physical, psychological and social problems were treated within the temple
premises for small remunerations. Even though the demand for the services was
growing, the temples did not have an organized accounting system, which led to the
mismanagement of temple funds. Slowly but surely the Nadavara hegemony of temples
was destabilized. Income from the temples dropped significantly. In 1932 Mahatma
Gandhi requested for opening the doors of temples to untouchables and the funds
collected to be spent exclusively on the public services. After the Independence of India
movement, Nadavaras didn’t receive funds from the temples.

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Natives of Konkan

The Konkan region, a narrow coastal belt stretching along the Arabian Sea from Surat to
Bhatakal, was one of the four natural regions in the Bombay Presidency. The first
mention of Konkan was in the ninth century when the Puri Shilaharas (9th to 13th century),
the feudatories of Rashtrakutas, ruled the northern Konkan (Kawdi Dwipa) from Puri
which was present day Navi Mumbai. The province surrounding the present-day Thane,
Maharashtra was called Puri-Konkan. The word Konkan was derived from two Sanskrit
words, Kon (angle), Kan (mountain); Konkan means angle of mountain. However, there
are a few other conflicting hypotheses on the etymology of the word “Konkan”. South
Konkan or Konkan-900 extended from present-day Goa to Gokarna, Karnataka. The
South Konkan Shilaharas (8th to 11th century) were also subordinates of the Rashtrakuta
dynasty. The South Konkan Shilaharas and Kolhapur Shilaharas were closely related to
the Puri Shilaharas. The capital of the South Konkan Shilaharas was Chandrapura
(Chandor) in Goa. Prior to the southern Shilahras, the original natives dwelled in the
secluded little triangular spaces cleared between the Sahyadri hills and the Arabian Sea.
Compared to the neighboring fertile land of the southern plains, South Konkan was
underdeveloped both socially and economically. The lack of key historical monuments
and relics of Gomanta or Goparashtra (Goa) before the establishment of the Shilaharas
in the ninth century, suggests that the human activities in the southern Konkan were
thin. However, the Elephanta caves indicate that the development of the northern
Konkan began in the fifth century.

All along the history, Goa was recurrently attacked by the invaders as its uncoordinated
sparse human habitation was unable to counter the regimented external forces. From the
third century BC till the reign of Rashtrakutas in the ninth centiry, Mauryans,
Satvahanas, Badami Chalukyas and Southern Mauryas ruled Goa. The mountainous
expanse of Goa never attracted a major flow of immigrants from outside till the sea trade

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was initiated by the Rashtrakutas. During the Rashtrakuta and Shilahara regimes,
language of Goa might have been Kannada. Konkani, the present language of Goa is akin
to Malvani, spoken in Vengurla and Ratnagiri. Both dialects were perhaps developed
from Marathi. Approximately 4 million people speak Konkani in South Konkan
including Goa and it is not spoken anywhere else in India. If Konkani dialect had
migrated from elsewhere, its residues were not left behind anywhere else. The Konkani
dialect was born probably in the thirteenth century during the rule of Yadavas of
Devagiri who spoke Marathi and in the sixteenth century during the rule of Gersappa
Queen, Konkani began to spread southwards into Uttara Kannada. All rational analyses
suggest that Goa is the proud motherland of Konkani heritage.

Prior to the growth of sea-trade in the southern Konkan, the dynamics of the human
habitation was tending towards the plains of India. The demand for the hilly seafront of
Konkan was lackluster because of the shortage of land to support the grain economy. In
the absence of ancient historical evidences, it can be conjectured that flow of immigrants
during ancient times into the South Konkan was a rarity. Since the time of Shilaharas in
the ninth century, small clusters of random drifters from the other parts of India might
have migrated to Goa. In the twelfth century Siddis, the East African seamen who were
brought to India by Arabs settled in the west coast of Gujarat. Later in the sixteenth
century during the horse trade, the Portuguese traders frequently brought Siddis to Goa
from Mozambique and Tanzania for the transportation and maintenance of horses. The
Siddi tribe settled in Goa adopted Konkani as it was the main dialect of the natives.
Presently, Siddis living in the Western Ghats of Karnataka and Goa speak a conspicuous
dialect of Konkani mixed with Marathi and Urdu.

Konkan remained under developed up until the ninth century when Rashtrakutas began
the cotton exports using innovative logistics by sea. They built Gomantak (Goa),
Balipattana (South Goa) and Chittakula (Sadashivgad) ports in the ninth century for
trading with Arabs. Later, during the Vijayanagara Empire, Konkan gained importance
owing to the booming sea-trade with Europe and Arabia. The ancient temples of Konkan
suggest that Konkani was one of the two main languages spoken in the southern Konkan
during Vijayanagara. The southern Konkan was well secured with the newly built forts.
The sea-trade during Vijayanagara was state-owned and port workers from everywhere
flocked to the port towns. The Vijayanagara rulers built scores of new temples in Goa
and Uttara Kannada, when the sea-trade in the southern Konkan was flourishing. The
spice trading of Vijayanagara became the metaphorical steroid for the speedy
urbanization process of the South Konkan. After Vijayanagara, Gersappa, Keladi and
Sonda rulers continued with the state-owned trading enterprises, but the zest for trading
notably declined. Even after Vijayanagara, a handful of Nadavara maritime workers

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lived along the Konkan belt in Chandavara, Kagal, Mirjan, Chandiya, Chittakula and
Majali. In Malenad, Nadavaras were spread out between Keladi and Sonda. The rocky
ruins of ancient Jain structures are found around Sonda, Banavasi, Salikani, Bilgi,
Gersappa and Chandragutti where Nadavaras once domiciled. The scattered living was
a contingent strategy to avoid the probable total annihilation of the community by Adil
Shah, but Adil Shah didn’t target Nadavaras living in Sonda and Gersappa territories.
The adversarial fear was eased when Aurangzeb finally put an end to the Adilishahi
dynasty in 1686 AD. Also, they felt safer after the Mughal’s goodwill treaty with Keladi
Chennamma.

Nadavaras were in good terms with Chennamma of Keladi and with Sadashiva Nayaka
of Sonda. Chandragutti which was in of the domain of Keladi was dominated by the
Virashaiva devotees. The Jain Nadavaras in Chandragutti were inundated by the
aggressive propaganda of Virashaivism. At the end of the seventeenth century, to avoid
the possible religious encounters, they escaped to Konkan and settled on the north bank
of Aghanashini. Even now in Hiregutti they distinguish themselves as Jain Nadavaras.
Nadavaras prevailed in Malenadu despite the unsympathetic Monsoon but thinly spread
inaccessible dwelling was pestering their endurance. The only remedy that they could
think was consolidation of the scattered population for promoting social living. The
Hiregutti settlement of the eighteenth century became a role model of Nadavaras. In the
first half of the eighteenth century, Nadavaras of Malenadu slowly started shifting to
Konkan. The Nadavara Diaspora gradually began to expand on the banks of Gangavali
and Aghanashini rivers.

The Nadavara families were not well informed of their ancestry beyond four to five
generations. Only handful of families who were aware of their roots in Malenadu
provided ancestral data which was useful in sketching the passage to Konkan. The
familial connections to old temples and religious events in Malenadu, and certain
folklores were resourceful in drawing logical inferences. The families from Gersappa,
Kuchinad and Chandavara moved to Gokarna Seeme (Mirjan Seeme). The families living
in the Sonda territory settled in the villages on the northern side of the Gangavali River.
The state of the families who lived in Karwar Seeme is open-ended. They might have
resettled in Bhavikeri, Belekeri and Avarsa. Initially the Nadavara exodus from all
around folded in the highlands of Ankola and Kumta before making its way to the
water's edge. The subsequent arrivals settled in villages along the shoreline ranging from
Kagal to Avarsa. Many of the villages are situated on the mountain ridges and riversides.
The locations were chosen in such a way that the naturalness of the landscapes formed
barriers sustaining their vigilant living. The consolidation of the scattered families helped
to confront unanticipated incursions. The combats of the eighteenth century with

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Virashaivas in Adlur and Portuguese in Gokarna attest the Nadavara territorial


contention in Konkan. The ancient ruins around Adlur corroborate that the Kalachuris
of Kalyan settled on the slopes of the rolling mountains of Adlur since the twelfth
century.

Bankikodla and Hanehalli are socially intertwined friendly twin villages located on the
western seashore of India at about two miles north of Gakarna. Saraswats migrated to
Bankikodla from Goa twelve generations ago. The average male generation stretch is
approximately 30 years. Saraswat settlement in Bankikodla is close to four centuries old.
Eight generations ago, toward the end of the eighteenth-century Rama Nayaka from
Vasars Kudaragi moved to Henehalli (eight generations: 1. Rama Sr., 2. Subbray Sr, 3.
Dodtam., 4. Rama Jr., 5. Subray Jr., 6. Ramananda, 7. Madhusudan, 8, Son of
Madhusudan). Probably Rama came from Kuchinadu to Vasar Kudargi and the made
his way to Hanehalli. Bhavikeri is multi-ethnic shoreline village situated one mile south
of the Belekeri port. The pioneer of the Bhavikeri Gaonkar house, Ananta Sr. settled in
Bhavikeri eight generations ago (1. Ananta, 2. Venkanna, 3. Giriyanna Sr., 4. Beeranna, 5.
Giriyanna Jr., 6. Ananta Jr., 7. Adarsha, 8 Ansha). The whereabouts of Nadavaras who
left Majali, Sadshivgada and Arga in the eighteenth century is not known. The Gaonkar
family of Bhavikeri up until 1950s was Mokteshwara of the Shantadurga Temple which
was brought from Goa to Majali to Adlur to Ankola. It is rather likely that Ananta Sr.
might have come to Bhavikeri from Majali or Adlur in the eighteenth century.

In the beginning of the nineteenth century the Collector of Canara began to doubt
handful of Nadavara families living in Malenadu. The last wave of a few remaining
Nadavara families who were living in Sonda, Gersappa, Bilgi and Hulekal with the
concern for the Collector consequently relocated to the villages in Konkan. They took up
farming, but it was not by choice. The British rule forced them to give up the martial
occupation which was practiced for so many centuries. After a long tenure of martial
lifestyle, the transition to farming seemed unexciting. Toiling in fields initially was
extremely hard. According to the records of the nineteenth century, the Nadavara
families possessed sizeable slices of land in Konkan. But how did the new settlers of
Konkan upon their arrival manage to acquire land? Did they develop barren landscapes?
Did they buy land from the farmers already living in Konkan?

Prior to the British occupation of North Kanara in 1799, Zamindars and temples were the
owners of land. Sir Thomas Munroe while he was the Collector of Kanara District
considered the replacement of Zamindars with Roytawari settlements which would
create large number of law abiding Ryotas. In 1821, in a letter to the Governor General,
Lord Warren Hastings, Munroe then the Governor of Madras Presidency recommended

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Roytawari system, a new land ownership scheme for a handful of districts including
Canara to replace the existing land revenue system introduced by Haider Ali. According
to Mr. Munroe, the land rent paid to landlords by ryotas frequently exceeded fifty
percent of the net land yield. In the first quarter of the nineteenth century, Sir Thomas
Munroe introduced the “Permanent Settlement” policy. Cultivators or ryotas became the
landowners but the farm laborers were not considered to be ryotas. The special report
prepared in 1833 by the Revenue Department claimed that the taxation on land in North
Kanara was unsatisfactory even though the land yielded richly priced crops such as
spices and bettlenut especially in Malenad region. The report further stated that the land
revenues collected from the estate owners were fixed and yet the less significant ryotas
paid more than their fair share of taxes. In 1840s, the Collector of Kanara, Mr. Blane
abolished the fixed taxation codes which resulted in the higher taxes for the estate
holders, especially in Malenad. Some landlords refused to pay the new taxes and lost
their land. Gatimani family who had moved to Gonnehalli near Gokarna lost the
ownership of its land in Halasanahalli close to Siddapura in the mid nineteenth century.
Even though the bill made a few landlords unhappy, it earned the good will of the native
ryotas. The Mula-Geni (absentee cultivator) system was accepted under the new bill.

The Nadavara settlements in Konkan were consolidated in twenty-four neighboring


villages. They were located on the banks of the Gangavali and Aghanashini rivers within
an area of eight-mile radius. Why did they live in such close quarters on the banks of two
rivers? Along the north shore of the Ganagavali River in the Kalgod region a small
population of Salwas lived since the time of the Southern Kalachuris. During the heydays
of Vijayanagara, Nadavaras became quite familiar with the coastal stretch of Uttara
Kannada when the Vijayanagara, Sonda and Gersappa rulers occupied the forts at
Ankola and Mirjan. The familiarity of the landscape between Ankola and Mirjan brought
the Nadavaras who lived in Sonda, Banavasi, Chandragutti, Bilgi, Gersappa,
Chandavara and Kuchinadu to settle in small adjoining hamlets bunched between Avarsi
and Mirjan. The proximity of the villages formed clusters of strategic settlements to
reassure the safety of the closely-knit community. All the villages together formed a
borough of Nadavaras. South Konkan was infested by the local robbers and pirates of
Malabar. Frequent incursion of the Portuguese soldiers along the shoreline of Uttara
Kannada was even a bigger count of risk. The Nadavara settlement in Konkan brought
feeling of security to the area. The clustered configuration of the Nadavara settlement in
Konkan unveils a clear mold of Kshatriya colonies that were based on the criterion of
self-defense. Over time the Nadavara mode of settlement became outmoded. The
isolated configurations of villages made Nadavara an insular community which might
have stunted its progress. Its dialect was unintelligible except for the local people. Its
customs were fairly different compared to the communities in the area.

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The Nadavara population in 1890 was 5000 and they all practiced Hinduism. After the
end of Vijayanagara the Nadavaras scattered in Malenadu were loyal Jains. In the
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries a handful of Nadavaras were converted to Islam
and Christianity. Anecdotal stories were told of the Nadavara conversion to Christianity
in Goa and Chandavara. The Church of Chandavara in 1950s had a list of a few names
including that of Nadavaras who accepted Christianity at the church. Nadavaras were
converted to Islam in Honavara during the reign of Tipu Sultan. Stories were also told
of Nadavaras accepting Brahmanism and priesthood in Sonda in the seventeenth
century. Nadavaras started eating meat and fish after they became Hindus and settled
on the coast of the Arabian Sea. A small number of the Jain Nadavaras never accepted
Hinduism and moved away from Uttara Kannada. According to the Mr. Munroe’s
report, published in the beginning of the nineteenth century, 85 Jain families lived in
North Kanara and in a different context Munroe had referred to 200 Jains living in
Malenadu and 18 Jain migrants from Kuch who came to work for Tipu Sultan merged
with the local Jains. The report was prepared when a small faction of the Nadavara
community was still practicing Jainism. As documented in the Gazetteer of 1883, all the
Jain families of North Kanara were landowners, which supported the fact that Nadavaras
became farmers in the beginning of the nineteenth century. Till the beginning of the
twentieth century, Jain guests from remote places often visited with the Nadavara
families in Torke, Hittalmakki and Talageri. Were they the cousins of the past, who never
accepted Hinduism?

On December 10, 1510, a Portuguese commander, Alfonso de Albuquerque, with the help
a local Goan pirate, Timmayya conquered the Tiswadi island (Panjim) and ultimately
occupied the entire Adilshahi controlled Goa. After the fall of Vijayanagara in 1565, the
Portuguese started forcibly converting Goan Hindus to Christianity. Many chiefs and
military personnel of Vijayanagara in Goa did have bit of a setback when Adil Shah took
control of Goa. Still they were the major land holders in Goa. But the subsequent
Portuguese Goa endangered the spirituality and religion of the land holders. Most of
them had to accept Christianity for the intent of retaining the ownership of their land or
else they were converted by force. Probably the converted land holders of the sixteenth
and seventeenth centuries are the Chardos presently living in Goa. By 1570, three
hundred temples of Goa were destroyed and many of them were transformed into
cathedrals and churches. In 1583, the army of Gaonkars of Goa fiercely fought the
Portuguese soldiers to keep them at bay. In 1590 AD, the Portuguese invited twelve
Gaonkars of the Concolim territory for a peace treaty discussion, and mercilessly
murdered them. In Margoa (Madgoan), the families of the slain chieftains were
converted to Christianity. Three fortunate Gaonkars who did not attend the peace treaty

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escaped to Uttara Kannada. A good number of Christian Chardos currently living in Goa
are descendants of the Vijayanagara chieftains who once controlled Goa. Although
baptized into Christianity, they still participate in religious ceremonies of the
Shantadurga temple of Fatorpa and many other temples of Goa. The Chardos of Goa in
the past perhaps were connected to the Nadavaras of Uttara Kannada.

Three Nadavara Chieftains and their families escaped from Goa to Majali, Uttar Kannada
in 1590 AD with an icon of the goddess Shantadurga. In early 1600s the icon was
instituted in Adlur, a village in the highlands of Ankola, Uttar Kannada. Many decades
later the statue of Shantadurga was moved from Adlur to a transitory podium in Shirkuli
near Ankola. A permanent abode for the goddess was built in the Honnikeri village in
Ankola. The priests, temple dancers, and temple escorts settled around the temple
complex. Three Nadavara families from Adlur, Bhavikeri and Surve villages were the
Mokteshwaras (managers) of Shantadurga. Expert Devadasis (dancers) were brought
from Goa to perform in the temple. The Devadasis of Goa were highly regarded elite
artists who mainly recited in the court of god. The carvings of dancing girls on the walls
of ancient temples reflect the esteemed status once held by Devadasis in the Indian
culture. After the ban on Devadasi system in the late nineteenth century by the Colonial
rule, it was illegally misused as a channel for prostitution by many other impoverished
castes of India. The dance recitals resembled Kathak and Bharat Natyam of modern days.
The dance concerts held in the temple corridor attracted even the Nayakas of Sonda. The
temple still serves the spiritual needs of people, but the dancing of Devadasis has
disappeared.

Gokarna, the legendary pilgrimage center, came under the rule of Keladi Nayakas after
they the fall of the Gersoppa kingdom. The Mahabaleshwara temple of Gokarna was
held in the highest regard by the Keladi rulers. Gokarna for Shaivas and Virahaivas was
a holy place of pilgrimage. In 1714, during the reign of the Keladi King, Basavappa, the
Viceroy of Goa, Vasco Fernandez Cesar de Menezes, unexpectedly attacked Gokarna,
Mirjan and Honavara in Uttara Kannada with his navy ships. Nadavaras were caught by
surprise. The skirmish lasted for a few days and many Nadavara youths died in the
battle. The Portuguese quickly pulled out of Mirjan but the Mahabaleshwar Temple of
Gokarna was destroyed beyond recognition. The Nadavara chieftain of Hiregutti, Uttar
Kannada, who then controlled Gokarna, reclaimed the temple. Later in the mid-
eighteenth century Hiregutti Nadavaras refurbished the temple complex. According to
the folklores, the original temple was built by the famous sculptor of the Hoysala era,
Jakkanacharya. He built the famous Chenna Keshava temple of Beluru, Karnataka in the
beginning of the twelfth century.

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The Hiregutti chieftain, who was a Vaishnava (Devotee of Vishnu), continued to be in


charge of the Mahabaleshwara temple. Being Vaishnavas, why did Nadavaras take such
an interest in promoting the Mahabaleshwar (Shiva) Temple? The Nadavaras of
Hiregutti helped to build temples and promoted religious establishments (Mathas) in
Gokarna during the eighteenth century. Was it a philanthropic gesture of Nadavaras of
that era? Recently, till 1925 AD, a progeny of the Hiregutti Chieftains was given kingly
treatment at the Mahabaleshwar temple. Seated in the temple chariot and dressed up in
royal attire, he was paraded around. This was one of the main events of Shivaratri festival
in Gokarna. A dedicated entrance was set up for the Nadavara community at Koti
Theertha, a sacred bathing pond built for the pilgrims. The Nadavara families living
around Gokarna luminously celebrated the Kartika festival in the eighteenth and
nineteenth centuries. The Nadavara families of Hannehalli and Maskeri were the main
contributors to the celebration. The main streets of Gokarna were brightly lit with
thousands of oil lamps. On the final day of Kartika, in the evening Nadavara men and
women bathed in Koti Theertha. As a mark of honor, the center of the holy cremation
ground of Gokarna, Rudhra Bhoomi, was held in reserve for the cremation rituals of
Nadavaras. The privileged treatment offered to the Nadavara community in various
aspects of the holy city of Gokarna, supports the fact that the Hiregutti Nadavara chief
was the ruler of Gokarna.

The Kawaris of Torke belonged to the Kavaru wing of Jain Nadavaras of Dakshina
Kannada. They practiced Jainism. Queen Chennamma was the mentor of the Kawari
family from Udupi. In the seventeenth century, the Keladi rulers controlled the Honavar
port. At the end of the seventeenth century, Chennamma appointed Kawaris to oversee
the port of Honavara. In the early eighteenth century, the Portuguese took control of the
Honavar and Bhatkal ports from the Keladi kings and started forcibly converting Jains
and Hindus to Christianity. The great grandfather of Late Ramakrishna Kawari (1834 -
1908) left Chandavara to avoid forced conversion and settled in Torke in the mid
eighteenth century. The Kawari Family owned most of the land in Torke, Sanikatti,
Sidheshwarara villages. In the eighteenth century, Kawaris introduced salt production
in Sanikatti, Uttara Kanada. Kawaris were vegetarians when they settled in Torke. In the
beginning of the nineteenth century, they built a second kitchen detached from their
abode, for cooking fish and meat. Moodbidri was their revered holy place and till the
beginning of the twentieth century they made periodic pilgrimages to Moodbidri and
Dharmastala in South Kanara.

Sharif-ul-Mulk, the governor of Ponda took control of the Mirjan Fort after Venkatappa
Nayaka of Keladi defeated Chennabhairadevi in 1608. He was a commander in the army
of Ibrahim Adil Shah II. Sharif-ul-Mulk also occupied the Ankola fort for a brief time

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before passing it on to Ramachandra Nayaka, the king of Sonda. The Mirjan Fort was
held by Sharif-ul-Mulk till Shivappa Nayaka snatched it from Adil Shah. The Salwa king
of Kagal, Krishnaraya Nayaka, subordinate of Keladi Chennamma controlled the fort
around the turn of the seventeenth century. However, the Salwa families who lived in
the secluded places of Malenad and Konkan were always antagonistic to the Keladi
dynasty. Naga Nayaka of Kagal who was the grandson of Krishnaraya had secret
associations with Haidar Ali. In 1763 AD, Haidar Ali’s victory over the Viramma gave
him the control of North Kanara. A small faction of Nadavaras helped Haidar in his
North Kanara operation. Nadavaras were split into two groups, for and against Haidar
Ali. Although the larger group was against Haidar, it did not possess the much-needed
muscle power or courage to oppose Haidar. The conservative Jain bloc, who was in
alliance with Haidar wanted payback for the terrorism inflicted on Salwas living in the
Keladi domain, particularly in Haduvalli. Perhaps the Nadavara faction that practiced
Jainism welcomed Haidar Ali into North Kanara.

The Katyayani Temple in the beginning was known as the Avvarasi Temple, named after
Chennabhairadevi. Avvarasi (mother queen) was the cherished nickname of
Chennabhairadevi. The etymology of Avarsa village stems from the Avvarasi
Temple. Narayana Nayaka who ruled the province of present day Arga, Amadalli, and
Avarsa villages was a feudatory of Chennabharadevi. A locally sung Janapada (tribal
song) narrates the story of Nadavaras building a fort in Arga, alluding to the rule of a
Nadavara Nayaka. The Sahyadri forest stretching from Aversa to Arga was famous for
ebony, teakwood and rosewood. Elephants and bullock carts were utilized for the
transportation of lumber from forest to the Belikeri River. A group of sailors belonging
to the Kharvi sect were hired from Margoa during the Chennabhairadevi’s reign, to
transport lumber on barges from Aversa to Goa and then to Europe. The Kharvis are the
earliest settlers of Aversa, lived on the banks of Belikeri River. Katyayani temple was
exclusively built for the migrant Kharvi people settled in Aversa. Narayana Nayaka, who
built the Khatyayani Temple, was influential in the growth of the state owned Avarasi
logging enterprise. The Kharvis were recognized warriors in the army of Goan Shilaharas
who later turned into fishermen, like the Mogaveers of Dakshina Kannada and Kolis of
the northern Konkan. Kharvis are one of the original inhabitants of Goa. During the
Portuguese rule they supported the temples of Goa. Dasara, the main festival of
Chennabhairadevi, was zealously celebrated by the Kharvis at the Avvarasi Temple.
However, recently fabled story regarding the temple’s origin do not relate to
Chennabhairadevi. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Avarsi was under the
rule of Sonda kings. In the second half of the eighteenth century Avarsi Nayaka became
a helper to Haider Ali. According to an anecdotal story, the Avarsi Nayaka built barracks

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high up in the mountains to house Haider Ali for a few days. For the warm hospitality,
Haider gave his sword to Avarsi Nayaka as Baksheesh (reward).

In the nineteenth century, the headman of Avarsa, Timmanna Naik, was the main
Mokteshwara of the Katyayani Temple. He owned a large portion of the ancestral forest
in Avarsa and Amadalli villages. At the end of the nineteenth century, Timmanna lost
his forestland to the British autocracy but he continued with the logging business as an
independent contractor. The family owned two elephants and one hundred bullock carts
at the turn of the twentieth century. After Timmanna, his eldest son, Venkataramana,
inherited the last surviving eight-year old elephant along with a large pack of bullock
carts. Venkataramana was a spiritual man and was not particularly interested in the
ancestral logging enterprise. Moreover, his logging business began to shrink due to the
growing competition from the arrivals of new contractors. He became terminally ill in
1930s, and wished to die in the corridor of Katyayani temple. During the last two months
while living in the temple, Mantri, a young friend from Yellapur, Uttara Kannada, helped
him. After the death of Venkataramana, Mantri took care of the elephant, but as the
elephant in logging business became outdated, its expensive maintenance proved to be
uneconomical. Mantri still kindly kept the elephant as his pet. The deductive reasoning
surmises that Aversa Nayakas perhaps were the descendents of Narayana Nayaka of the
Gersappa Kingdom.

Ankola was an exemplary secular society consisting of Hindus, Muslims, and Christians
jointly living in harmony. Haidar was not friendly to the innocent residents of Ankola.
He set Hale Peti, the market place of Ankola, ablaze killing countless number of shoppers
and shopkeepers. The town of Ankola had nearly one hundred shops, but after facing
the ravage of Haidar, only forty shops survived. It was probably Haidar’s way of
imposing command, through cruelty and coercion. In 1783, Haidar’s son, Tipu Sultan,
returned to Ankola to convert Christians and Hindus to Islam. In the Ankola fort, he
executed many Hindu and Christian residents on false accusations of helping the
English. He frequently tortured the people living in Konkan, spanning from Karwar to
Honavara. The lively port towns turned into ghost towns and the people lost their
confidence. The cotton export gradually dwindled, handloom mills went out of business
and shopkeepers changed identities and sought refuge in the Malenad towns.

In the first half of the eighteenth century, the Nadavaras migrated from Chandragutti to
a mountainous village, Doorgutti that was a few miles east of Hiregutti. Near Doorgutti
they secretly hid their gold in a cave which served as a safeguard for their valuables.
After Haidar Ali captured Uttara Kannada the Nadavaras hid in the thick forest of
Sahyadri around Doorgutti. A Nadavara man who was in cahoots with Haidar disclosed

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the gold secret. In the absence of any resistance from Nadavaras, it was quite an
opportune time for Haidar to encroach Doorgutti. He confiscated the concealed treasure
without any collision with the Nadavaras. Haidar departed quietly with the ransom. For
some reason, Haidar did not have any sort of vindictive animosity towards Nadavaras.
There is no evidence of Nadavara skirmishes with Haidar during his victory ride through
Uttara Kannada. The scattered and disorganized Nadavara strength was incapable to
oppose Haidar. Also because of a handful of Nadavaras supported Haidar’s incursion,
probably he was lenient to the entire community.

The Nadavara families living in Chanadavara, Kagal, Arga and Sadashivgada in the
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries worked in the state owned maritime transports.
Two Kagal Nadavara families who lived on the southern bank of Aghanashini in Kagal
moved to Torke in the beginning of the twentieth century and a family supposed to be
the last of the Kagal Nadavaras is said to be still living there as a token of establishment
since the hey days of Kagal. The Nadavara families of Kagal owned smaller boats used
for collecting rice bags, coconuts and molasses from the farmers living along the coastal
and riverside villages. From Kagal and Tadadi state owned larger vessels similar to
schooners carried cargo to Goa and other distant places. The men belonging to the
Kharavi sect were employed for the navigation of schooners. Kagal was the hub for
transporting rice, coconut and spices. The Kagal trading enterprise was owned by the
Gerusoppa and later Keladi rulers and it was solely managed by the Kagal Nayakas. The
Hulachi family associated with the maritime transports in Arga, Uttara Kannada, shifted
to Torke at the turn of the nineteenth century and it was the last family in Torke to give
up Jainism.

Nadavaras were ambivalent about the demeanor of Tipu Sultan. He was considered to
be cruel king by many and also some described him as a freedom fighter against the
Colonial Rulers. Around the end of the eighteenth century, to avoid the forced
conversion to Islam, Nadavaras of Chandavara fled to Torke. The soldiers of Tipu Sultan
hounded them and two Nadavara men were killed in Hosakattu near Torke. Their
marked memorials as a witness to the Tipu’s forced conversion, still stand in Torke.
Around the same time, two cousins, Kencha and Devanna of Chandavara, escaped on a
small boat to Devarbhavi, a village adjacent to Torke. Both in the beginning helped the
Kawari family with the transportation of salt from Tadadi to Uppin Pattana located on
the northern bank of the Aghanashini River. The grandson of Kencha Nayaka of
Chandavara, who was also known as Kencha married the sister of Ramakrishna Kawari,
Torke, around 1860s. In the first half of the nineteenth century, the saltpans were almost
the monopoly of the Kawari family. In the second half of the nineteenth century, the salt
production in Sanikatta doubled as three Nadavara and two Saraswata families

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converted additional rice fields into saltpans. At the end of the nineteenth century, the
British government started controlling the salt production in Sanikatta. In 1888, the
taxation on salt was sharply raised by Lord Dufferin, the Viceroy of India. Indians started
using the cheaper imported Liverpool rock salt. By the turn of the twentieth century, salt
production significantly declined due to heavy taxation which reflected on the profit
margin. Early in the twentieth century, salt producers collectively formed the Sanikatta
Salt Trading Society which managed the salt production and sales, and gave dividends
to the participating saltpan owners.

The remote memories of Chandavara became the matter of nostalgia. To pacify crying
toddlers, the women of Torke until recently, sang a lullaby in Kannada, “Honavar to
Chandavar, its only two Haradaris (three miles); stop crying or else you will be punished
by a ghastly looking Bikari (beggar).” Ironically, the song was more of a scare tactic than
pacifier. The Kawaris started private tutoring at their home to educate the young children
of Torke. In 1850, the Kawari family built a special private school in Torke. Later in 1881,
the Torke School became a public school under the Colonial education system which
added over 90 new schools in 1880s across North Kanara. According to the 1918 census,
Torke was one of the most literate villages in India. Partially it was due to Torke’s
homogenous and well-to-do residents who had an easy access to school. Its people were
intimately acquainted and were eager to educate their children. Torke was the role
model to other Nadavara villages.

The cousin of Chennabhairadevi, Jitta Nayaka at the end of the sixteenth century was
appointed as the chief of Kagal province that included Mirjan, Kumta, Hegade, Kagal,
Masur and Bada. Jitta Nayaka was a follower of Jainism. The story of Sharif-ul-Mulk
constructing the fort in 1605 may not be accurate because Portuguese traders frequently
visited Chennabhairadevi at the Mirjan fort. Two identical Jain pillars, erected by her on
the grounds of Kagal and Mirjan forts and the Hindu temples built inside the Mirjan and
Ankola forts by the kings of Vijayanagara still stand to negate the hypothesis of Sharif-
ul-Mulk building the Mirjan port. It is possible that Adil Shah or his chieftains might
have expanded or renovated the fort. After the fall of Vijayanagara, the Mirjan and
Ankola forts came under Bijapur Sultanates. The Queen moved her capital to Gersappa
on the southern bank of the Sharavati River and Sharif-Ul-Mulk briefly took over the
Mirjan fort. Later, Jitta Nayaka controlled the fort for some time. The Sonda kings, under
the reign of Adil Shah occupied the Ankola fort till Ankola came under the statute of
Shivaji.

Jitta Nayaka was a faithful assistant of Chennabhairadevi and at the same time he
reported to the governor of Ponda. Getting along with two chiefs of conflicting interests

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wasn’t easy but he kept both well satisfied. The relation of Jitta Nayaka with Sharif-ul-
Mulk in a way buttressed Chennabhairadevi’s relaxed relationship with Adil
Shah. After Keladi Venkatappa Nayaka imprisoned Chennabairadevi, Jitta Nayaka in
retaliation burnt a horse at the stake in Mirjan. The preposterous story of Nadavaras (Jitta
Nayaka) eating horsemeat still goes around among the people of Uttara Kannada. But
Jitta Nayaka being a Jain and vegetarian, it is difficult to conjecture the reason for Jitta
Nayaka’s ingestion of horsemeat. Did he perform the rituals of fire sacrifice (Yajna) as
declaration of war against Venkatappa Nayaka? However, after the end of the long reign
of Chennabhairadevi, the king of Kagal became the feudatory of Keladi Nayakas.
Perhaps, Jitta Nayaka’s convoluted connection with Keladi had to be accepted by
Venkatappa as he could not afford to complicate the strained relations with Sonda and
Adilshahi kingdoms any further. The Jain Nadavara family of Kagal over the span of
two centuries, managed to remain loyal to the Adil Shahis, Keladi kings and Mysore
Sultantes. They alternated their living quarters between Kagal and Mirjan. The Kagal
chiefs exported rice, spice and lumber from Mirjan, Kagal and Tadadi ports. The British
occupation in 1800AD ended the long-held Jain family’s control of Kagal.

In 1730s smallpox broke out in Goa and later spread to Uttar Kannada. The Portuguese
sailors apparently brought the disease from Europe. Honnamma of Kagal was pregnant
when her husband, the prince of Kagal died of smallpox and was buried near the Kagal
fort. Honnamma’s husband (name unknown) was the son of Krishnaraya Nayaka, the
ruler of Kagal and wife Mankali. The subjects of Kagal believed that the prince was
victim of an evil spirit who was residing in his tomb and occasionally came out after
dusk. The people of Kagal were afraid to go near his tomb. Honnamma ruled Kagal and
Bada till her death in 1750s, and her memorial was built on the southern bank of the
Aghanashini River near Kagal. Her son, Naga Nayaka, the young stalwart militant
prince of Kagal resented his duty of loyalty to Keladi rulers. Along with Agsur
Honnappa Nayaka and Achave Hebbara, he conspired with the Sultan of Mysore,
Haidar Ali against the queen of Keladi, Virammaji in 1763 AD. Naga Nayaka was treated
like a renegade by the angry Nadavaras of Mirjan and Bargi who were against Haidar
Ali. Uttara Kannada came under the control of the Sultans of Mysore. Tipu Sultan
supported Naga Nayaka, but after the death of Tipu Sultan in 1799 AD, he felt threatened
by the Colonial rulers.

During the rule of the Keladi kings, Kawaris of Chandavara and the rulers of Kagal were
intimately acquainted with each other. It was probably since both worked in maritime
enterprise of Keladi Nayakas. The Kawari family invited Naga Nayaka to live in Torke
and provided land for his living quarters. In the 1807 travel diary, Sir Francis Hamilton,
Surgeon General of the East India Company wrote that the Jain king of the country

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stretching from Kumta to as far as north of Honavara lived in Kumti (Kumta). The Jain
King was Naga Nayaka who shifted from Kagal to Torke in the early nineteenth century.
Like the Kawaris, the family of Naga Nayaka accepted Hinduism. After settling in Torke,
he occasionally visited the Venkateshwara Temple in Manjaguni, Uttara Kannada.
Supposedly Torke families followed the suite. He became a well-liked member of the
friendly homogeneous commune of Torke. Naga Nayaka, while living in Kagal was
collecting one thousand Kandagas of rice in land rent from the farmers of Kagal country.
Kandaga is an old measure of grains, weighing approximately 50 kilograms. His family
jointly with the Kawari family hosted eighteen Haridana celebrations while living in
Torke. Haridana was a splendid festivity of feeding the entire Nadavara community for
three to seven days. The grandson of Naga Nayaka, who was also named Naga Nayaka,
married a Kawari woman. The robust old home of Naga Nayaka, built in the early 1800s,
still stands in Torke. The Permanent Land Ownership rule of 1830s, which barred the
absentee landowners from holding land, seized most of Naga Nayaka’s Jahagir that
covered parts of Mirjan, Hegde, Kagal, and Bada. Unlike in the other districts, the rule
implemented by Governor Munroe in Kanara snatched the land from the large Jain
Nadavara landlords of Kagal, Adlur, Aversa and Bilgi without giving them the Jahagir
status. It was perhaps due to the Nadavara dealings with Tipu Sultan. Teera Mastar, the
son of Naga Nayaka, even in 1930s, was honored at the Temple of Kagal, Ammana Mane,
which was attached to an ancient Jain Basti.

According to the records, Gati family in the nineteenth century owned land in the village
of Halasan Halli near Siddapur. Honnappa was the great grandfather of Gati Sahib. Since
Honnappa was one of the last persons to leave the Malenadu for settling in Konkan, his
family was nicknamed Gatimani. Honnappa bought land in Gonehalli and Kotekeri near
Gokarna. Kotekeri is allegedly a historic place from the time of Shilaharas. Honnappa
carried along the Bera Stone of Gudi Honnappa and enshrined on a hilltop near
Gonehalli. The descendents of Gatimani believe that Gudi Honnappa was their ancestor.
The hilltop temple was the family shrine of Gatimani. Gati Sahib frequently visited the
temple. Even now the name Honnappa is common among Gatimani families. The
hamlets around the Gudi Honnappa temple celebrate Bandi Habba (festival) in summer.
Nadavaras told interesting stories of their Bera and Sati shrines to connect their families
with the historical events. Most of the stories are anecdotal and not all narratives may be
accurate. The exploration of the archeological sites around the Nadavara villages can
help to discover their past.

The Nadavara population of the northern Canara was 3700 according to the document
prepared in 1821 by the Collector of Canara. The strategic reports of the Colonial rulers
of the early nineteenth century, if not accurate might be closer to reality. The estimate of

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5,000 in 1890s by Ramakrishna Kawari was the most reliable headcount of the Nadavara
population. His estimate of Nadavara population was 1.5% of the population of North
Kanara, 335,000 (1881 census). The Gazetteers of Bombay Presidency compiled between
1877 and 1904 AD were written in rather poor linguistics and with inconsistent and
erroneous data sets. The particulars contributed to the Gazetteer were initially compiled
by the village clerks in Marathi and Kannada. The documents were translated to English
by the Collector’s office in Karwar. Subsequently the records from twenty-five districts
(in 1883) of the Bombay Presidency were edited and compiled in the office of the
Secretary in Bombay. Historical writings at times were victimized by wrong opinions
for varieties of reasons. The reports were prepared by many contributors to the same
bureaucratic project and the subject matter experts did not edit the final products. The
Gazetteer lacked much needed quality control subroutine. The poor writing skills of the
information compilers make one question the validity of contents in the Bombay
Presidency Gazetteer.

According to one of the Gazetteers, 600 Nadors lived in North Kanara. They grew
vegetable and sold them in large markets. Yet another Bombay Presidency Gazetteer
mentioned Nadavara women dressed like Brahmin women. The most interesting one
was Bombay Presidency Gazetteer, Karwar, Volume XV Part I, 1883. Some of the
descriptions are, “Nadavara generic surnames are Kippa, Kania, Janga, Poska and
Donka. Nadavara population in North Kanara is 3576 of which 65% male and 35%
female. They believe in witchcraft and ghost. They respect Brahmins but don’t employ
them. Their village head is called Budavanata.” The descriptions merely point to
erroneous documentation of the Nadavara community. Also, the community was
mentioned by the unusual slang moniker, Nador which was the term used by the local
sects such as Halakki Goudas and Komarpants of North Kanara. The 1883 Gazetteer was
recorded thirty -three years after the Kawari family of Torke started a private school to
educate young Nadavara children. Yet in another Gazetteer (the Bombay Presidency
Gazetteer, Karwar” Volume XV, Part III 1888), Nadavaras were referred to as “Nadgis,
the proprietors of salt pans sold salt in Katagal along with Saraswats.” The Konkanis still
in Uttara Kannada use the slang term Nadgi for Nadavara. In the same Gazetteer the
term Nador is used in a different context.

The villages in the south of Ganagavali were under the Keladi Kingdom whereas the
north side of the river, including the Kalgod region belonged to the Sonda Kingdom.
Nadavaras lived near the seashore on either side of the Gangavali River since the mid
eighteenth century. The old-fashioned five Seemes which existed during Sonda and
Keladi rules came to an end when the well-organized Colonial administration took firm
control of Kanara. Simply for the geographical distinction, Nadavaras started using new

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jargons, Achiseeme and Ichiseeme. However, Ganagavali, the rushing green river in the
valley of Sahyadri created the geographical divide between Nadavaras living on either
side of the river. Residents of each side of the river even now refer to the other side as
“Achiseeme” (that county) and “Ichiseeme” (this county) for their own. It is amusing to
think of a minor river, two hundred yards wide creating a barrier that split a small
community of a few thousand people in two pointless factions. Each Seeme attempting
to establish pretentious superiority over the other was allegorically like two siblings
constantly bickering for attention. The dichotomy of Seemes began to taper off by the
mid twentieth century and now both Seemes have coalesced into single extended
borough of Nadavaras.

The Nadavaras settled on the southern shore of the Ganagavali River were a bit more
educated than their counterparts living on the northern shore. In 1950, D.P. Karmarkar,
the Commerce Minister of Bombay state, while visiting Ramachandra K. Naik referred
to Torke as one of the most educated villages in Bombay Karnataka. In fact, Torke had
the literacy rate of 99% and was among a few villages with lofty literacy rates in India.
Nevertheless, the two Seemis never fought; instead helped each other during crises. They
tried to show off their generous hospitality towards each other during religious
functions. Ghati Sahib was outcasted for going abroad by the Hiregutti leaders, but the
Nadavaras of Bhavikeri, the northern side of the river did not see any wrong doing by
Gati Sahib and opposed to condemning the innocent. The community was split in the
Gati Sahibs case. However, upon Sahib’s return from England, Nadavaras from both
sides welcomed him with the garlands of cardamom. The Seemis had their differences,
yet they were not intense enough to shatter their integrity.

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The Mirjan Fort, Mirjan, Karnataka


Built by the Sangama Dynasty, Vijayanagara: 15th century. Later, occupied by:
Gersappa Queen and Sharif Ul Mulk (Adil Shah): 16th century,
Jitta Nayaka (Ruler of Kagal) and Keladi Rulers: 17th century
Haider Ali and Naga Nayaka (Ruler of Kagal): 18th century

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Mahabaleshwara Temple, Gokarna, Uttara Kannada

In 1714 the Portuguese navy invaded Mahabaleshwara Temple, Gokarna. Nadavaras of


Hiregutti came to the defense of the temple. It was totally ruined. The Nadavara chieftain of
Hiregutti, who then controlled Gokarna, reclaimed the temple (Details on page # 79).

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British Suppression of Kshatriyas

At the end of the eighteenth century, the superior organization and aggressive strategies
of the Colonial rulers posed threat to the innate chiefs of over five hundred tiny
kingdoms spread all over India. The feeble kings with their indigenous combative tactics
could not stop the rapidly rising alien invasion. The expertise in warfare developed over
centuries by the indigenous ingenuity of India abruptly became obsolete. The Nadavaras
settled in Malenad and Konkan, gave up warfare and oceanic trade, and adopted
agriculture. In the beginning of the nineteenth century after Mr. Munroe became the
Collector of Canara, the thriving ports of Uttara Kannada, (Bhatakal, Honavar, Tadadi,
Ankola, Arga, and Sadashivgada) saw rapid decline in sea trade. Under the British as a
security measure, except for Karwar all other ports were restricted and were ultimately
rundown to meager fishermen’s villages. The oceanic trade was the main industry in
Konkan. Prior to the British occupation, the harbors of Uttara Kannada gave access to all
shippers at low tariffs. Handful of Nadavara families of Chandavara, Kagal, Aversa,
Arga and Chittakula involved in the sea trade were forced out of business. Under the
British, Nadavaras couldn’t be anything but landholders. Adjustment to the new
occupation was emotionally stressful and some of them constantly sought for
alternatives such as salt production, lumbering and quarrying of building materials but
still the choices were limited. The looming intimidation of the British virtually curbed
their mobility.

Prior to the English, a few hundred Kshatriya rulers held regional autonomy of small
kingdoms across India and usually assigned Divans and Brahmins to the advisory
responsibilities. The English replaced both Kshatriyas and Brahmins with their own
people. They did not trust Indians in decision-making roles but still employed Brahmins
to routine, mundane tasks. The displaced Kshatriyas were not friendly with the English.
They couldn’t rely on Kshatriyas because of the frequent revolts against the colonial rule

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across the subcontinent. After the outbreak of the Indian Mutiny (Sepoy Rebellion) in
1857 AD, Kshatriyas were cautiously censored for the governmental opportunities. The
development of Kshatriya communities in India was stunted for the next hundred years.
During this period, their socio-economic conditions deteriorated gradually. Their social
status as land rulers was reduced to mundane landowners. The lost glory of the past led
to dissatisfaction and resentment. Nadavaras felt cheated and turned hostile to the alien
rulers.

The British started diffusing the Anglo-Saxon culture into the centuries old Indian
traditions. Nearly 50 thousand westerners posted in India stamped their supremacy on
250 million Indians. Their authority was well accepted partly because of the explicitly
acknowledged racial superiority of the British. Certain martial sects especially in the
North India enviously opposed the English. On the other hand, the princely states of
India, mainly Mysore, Hyderabad, Sikkim, Baroda and Jammu and Kashmir endorsed
the English rule for helping them to stay in power and conversely the tenure of the British
colonialism became more stable. The Kshatriya mind fixed on sovereignty and self-rule
was obviously an obstacle to the colonial establishment. The English strategy of
manipulating the identity of Kshatriyas to perilous forms proved effective. The
Nadavaras were pigeonholed under the martial sect and were closely watched especially
ones living in Malenadu. In the Central India, certain Rajput sects were even labeled
“Thugs” to scare the people living around them. It was their way of weakening the
warrior sects by alarmingly sorting them out of the society. The policy, “divide and rule”
segmented the caste based society even further.

Every commoner from Great Britain stepping on the Indian soil commanded respect
from Indians and called them helots in their own country. A helot is a second rated
citizen capable of doing only menial jobs. Indians were not eligible for any decision-
making or administrative responsibilities. Except for butlers, Indians were not allowed
into the British clubs and gatherings. Conceptually it was like the traditional Hindu
handling of the Harijans in India. The arrogance of the Colonialism was abominable and
still the Indian mainstream society accepted their demeanor. They preferred the alien
English rule to the indigenous regime of Kshatriyas. The envy of the masses over the
Kshatriya dynasties besides the bitter rivalry among the Kshatriya rulers was the main
root cause that welcomed the alien rulers into India. But above all the lack of self-esteem
pitifully succumbed to the Colonial racial superiority. Even though the racism was new
to Indians, the white race was received as another layer above the hierarchy of the Indian
caste system. Distinctively, that was the time when the humane Vedic culture of India
kneeled down to the western civilization. The amalgamation of racism with the Indian
caste system exasperated the evils of discrimination even further. Yet another cast of

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Sahibs (Europeans in Colonial India) was created above Brahmins. Indians started
fantasizing their origin to Aryans who arguably entered India over three thousand years
ago. The Governor General, Lord Charles Grey with the help of Lord Thomas Macaulay
introduced English language to the Indian schools in 1837 AD. In England, the superficial
imitation of the Westerners by Indians was mockingly called Macaulayism, which meant
“Indian in skin color and blood but English in taste.” Macaulayism became chic or mark
of modishness. The elite Indians tried to emulate English living style and etiquettes in
every possible way. The English influence began to disengage the authentic Indian
traditions.

Although the Indian population is almost 16% of the world population, the genetic
makeup of the entire population is based on small band of remote ancestors. In the article
‘Indian Ancestry Revealed’ in ‘Nature’ magazine published on 23 September 2009 was
written, “The researchers showed that most Indian populations are genetic admixtures
of two ancient, genetically divergent groups, which each contributed around 40-60% of
the DNA to most present-day populations. One ancestral lineage was genetically like
Middle Eastern or Iranian. Iranian mix was higher in upper-caste individuals and
speakers of Indo-European languages such as Hindi, the researchers found. The other
lineage was not close to any group outside the subcontinent, and was most common in
people indigenous to the Andaman Islands, a remote archipelago in the Bay of Bengal.”
India is a mixture of two very distinct set of people. The Indians can be considered as a
separate race outside the three established races, Africans, Europeans and Orientals.
Recognition of Indian race separately from other three races may trigger more interest in
the human genome researches of Indians. The resources in the U.S are focused on
researching the diseases caused by genetic mutation prevalent among Caucasian, African
and Mongolian races. The diseases caused by the genetic disorders in the population
living in tropical regions are placed under the umbrella of neglected tropical diseases.
The analyses of genome sequencing and gene variants of Indians would draw special
interest if they are categorized under a separate race.

Caste system is very old and is independent of race or skin color. The Hindu religion is
divided into five main castes, Brahmin (teachers, priests), Kshatriya (kings, soldiers),
Vaisya (merchants, agriculturists), Sudra (laborers, artisans) and Prajanya (Harijan).
Sadly, Prajanyas were excluded from the Hindu caste system hierarchy until Mahatma
Gandhi called them Harijans (people of god). The ancient caste system, the organizer of
people’s occupation and livelihood, was redefined to conform to the standardized caste
descriptions dictated by the East India Company. The nineteenth century census in 1870
created a distinctive caste records for the first time. According to the census, the five
major castes were divided into more than 3000 castes and further into 12000 sub-castes.

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The new records created more caste based barriers of bigotry. The caste based custom of
endogamy which is still in practice has worsened the prejudice between castes.

Unlike Kshatriyas, Brahmins did not pester the Colonial rulers because of their mild non-
combative nature. The colonial rulers tactfully encouraged the expansion of Brahmanism
in India and took measures to weaken the rebellious Kshatriya forces. Apart from
making caste system more heterogeneous they inserted the Aryan and Dravidian racial
divide among Hindus and Muslims. Influenced by the supremacy of the English sahibs,
majority of Indians accepted the exotic viewpoints of alien rulers without questioning.
In the nineteenth century, a variety of sects of non-Brahmins started investing fortunes
on temples and emulated the religious rituals of Brahmanism and many among them
upgraded themselves to Brahmanical Gotras with novel caste names and sanscritized
family names. And new history with conjectures based on certain mythological events
from the ancient Hindu epics was created to match with the new caste names. The
subcontinent’s population growth, which rampantly rose from estimated 125 million in
1750 AD, to 390 million by 1941, led to random regional migratory trends seeking better
livelihood. Due to the underdeveloped and sluggish modes of transportation the
migratory routs seldom stretched beyond a few hundred miles. Throughout the Colonial
era many migratory drifts elevated their status on the ladder of caste system. It is
somewhat of a normal tendency of immigrants to seek approval of new neighbors in a
new setting by even feigning their history. In the recent past many Russian immigrants
simulated fake Jewish identities for acquiring Israeli citizenship. The hierarchy of caste
system in the course of the Colonial Rule was distorted and castes moved up or down in
the pecking order. Many castes advanced by imitating customs of higher castes. Many
castes non-cooperative to Colonial rulers were socially pushed down. Juggling of the
ancient caste system under the British pretext further weakened the social integrity of
India.

The survey conducted by the East India Company was used as a tool for manipulating
the beliefs of Indians to promote the British endeavor in India. Several warrior groups
all over Indian subcontinent including Afghanistan opposed the British Rule. Militant
Kshatriya leaders became notorious lawbreakers for defending their own homeland and
many were executed on criminal charges. Indians were forced to seek the favoritism of
the British rulers. The Kshatriya cast was squeezed almost to extinction. One of the main
causes of the 1857 Sepoy Mutiny was due to the unfair restraints imposed by the East
India Company on the privileges and customs of the Kshatriya castes. A number of new
caste names that did not even exist prior to 1857 appeared on the 1891 census records of
castes. There is no official data available of Nadavaras leaving their community during
the Colonial times. As indicated by the colloquial chronicles, a handful of Jain Nadavara

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families who migrated from Malenad to Dharwar district around the turn of the
nineteenth century were supposed to have become Brahmins. Some Jain Nadavara
families never gave up Jainism and merged with the Jain community of Dakshina
Kannada. The overnight disappearance of a family of Nadavaras living in Banavasi at
the turn of the nineteenth century remained as a mystery. Some of the Nadavara
historical ambiguities are hard to crack without relevant dataset.

In October 1799 Canara was in complete possession of Major Munroe. The Bilgi and
Sonda Jain Nadavaras didn’t accept Munroe’s rule. Colonel Wellesley in September 1800
marched into Malenadu to take control of the rebels. Nadavaras living in those towns
escaped into thick forest. Entire Nadavara community was suspected of treason because
of the association of a handful Nadavaras with Haider Ali and Tipu Sultan. Moreover,
the secretive and unapproachable living projected dubious image. The members of a
Jain-Nadavara family of Hulekal were detained for covertly campaigning against the
British after the fall of Tipu Sultan. Selective execution of Indians was one of the tactics
used by the Colonial rulers in dealing with the lingering encounters. Wellesley in one of
his private policy letters suggested the publicized killing of a few to intimidate the
militants of Malenad. In 1800, Mr. Monroe, the Collector of Canara, employed
Wellesley’s suggestion near Siddapur, North Kanara by hanging a young Jain-Nadavara
man who was said to be in cahoots with Tipu Sultan. The ill-informed people of the area
treated the family members of the executed man like outlaws. The family to avoid the
prejudiced attitude of the neighbors moved to Goa, the Portuguese colony. Monroe, in
order to enfeeble the suspected militant activities, ordered the confiscation of the
ancestral treasure from the suspected Nadavara homes. In 1810, the northern Kanara
was divided in seven Talukas, Ankola, Honavara, Kundapur, Bilgi, Banavasi, Sonda and
Supa. Police forces were employed in Taluka places to keep close watch on the suspected
militia hubs. The harshness of punishment for a minor wrong doing was all most as
severe as the draconian code of penalty.

In September 1799 few months after the death of Tipu Sultan, the towns in the northern
part of Kanara, Bilgi, Sonda, Sambrani and Haliyal, opposed the Colonial forces led by
Colonel Wellesley. A Jain-Nadavara chieftain was shot dead in Bilgi by a British officer
for not agreeing to submit to the Colonial rulers. There was unrest in Bilgi which was
brought to rest after killing the chieftain. The Nadavaras of Malenadu were not very fond
of the Colonial Rule. Unexpectedly the violent incursions in Kanara, during the first
decade of its establishment (1799- 1808AD), exceeded 4200. It was by far the highest
among the districts in the Madras Presidency. The allegation based on the unaudited
statistics seemed like distortion of factual data. In the early 1800s, some Jain-Nadavara
families living in Malenad were suspected revolutionaries. Perhaps the accused families

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were formerly allied with Tipu Sultan who waged war against the British. It is also
possible that the fabricated statistics of incursions in Malenad might have been used to
punish the antagonistic families of Kanara. The British forces had difficulty in arresting
the alleged radicals hiding deep in the thick forest of Sahyadri. A Jain-Nadavara family
living in Gudnapur near Banavasi disappeared in the beginning of the nineteenth
century. Around the same period, in the first quarter of the nineteenth century, the
Colonial rulers forcibly took thousands of reluctant Indians to Mauritius and South
Africa. The Colonial rulers threatened even the innocent nonaligned Nadavaras living in
Malenad. Nadavaras became concerned of living in isolated places around Sonda and
Hulekal. The threat posed by the British was the main reason for the migration of a few
Sonda Jain Nadavara families to Konkan. The families from Malenad were well received
by their friends and relatives and were accommodated in the secured close quarters of
Nadavara villages.

In 1830- 40 the towns surrounding Malenadu, Keladi, Naragund, Sangolli and Nagar
started skirmishing with the Colonial forces. Keeping Malenadu away from any kind of
contagious unrest from outside became an issue for the Madras Presidency. Remotely
situated from Mangalore, the thick forest of the northern Kanara even though thinly
populated, was hard to rule. The British ideology, “divide, weaken and control” was
working well with the divorce population of India. The British Raj after taking over India
in 1857 decided to split Canara. On April 16, 1862 Canara was divided into South and
North Kanaras and North Kanara was transferred to the Bombay Presidency from the
Madras Presidency. The surveillance on the Nadavara community which settled in a
small area in Konkan was a bit relaxed in the new presidency.

A surname is a part of a person's formal full name indicating the family or sect to which
the person belongs. In medieval French, surnom (surname) means additional name. It
was originally used in Europe and then in Great Britain around the fifteenth century. The
use of a surname was not a custom in India and the tradition was introduced by the East
India Company in the beginning of the nineteenth century. An unofficial stealthy survey
of Indian communities was made by the East India Company and concluded the strategic
scrutiny in 1821. The survey manipulatively historicized and reconstituted fundamentals
of Indian civilization, culture and tradition. The survey was covertly used to target the
communities disloyal to the British Rule with an intention to nip the opposing forces in
the bud. The selected warrior sects were strategically branded with surnames for the ease
of identification of individuals, in a fashion that was used to sort out presumed criminals.
Tipu Sultan was supported by a small group of Nadavaras, but the British capture of
Canara made the entire community anxious. In contrast, the British became bit
concerned with the unfriendly standoffishness of Nadavaras. Some Nadavara families

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living in the forests of Western Ghats were believed to be treacherous militants.


Nadavara was one of the earliest communities to be labeled with surname in the first half
of the Nineteenth century. It was made mandatory for certain Nadavara families to use
the surname Nayak or Naik, and Nayaks were asked to surrender their weapons even
including the household equipment that looked a bit dangerous. Without prior notice
their homes were searched for arms. The early 1800s policy of “Restricted Access to
Arms” disarmed Nadavaras. In the beginning Nayak was the only Nadavara surname
recorded by the census, and all other surnames currently used by Nadavaras indicate
that the community perhaps with time had gone through societal changes. The Nadavara
surname, Nayak or Naik was anglicized from the term Nayaka.

Following the nationalization of the East India Company by Queen Victoria in January
1858, the British India opted to use surnames like the Brittsh. By 1890 less than half of the
Indian population had surnames. Indian surnames were based on occupation, place of
residence and personal characteristics. In a populous country such as India an additional
name along with the given name was essential to keep track of people. Contrarily
surnames partially played a role in emphasizing the caste based divisions among the
people of India. Before using the surname Nayaka, Nadavaras used nicknames or
adjectives prefixed to their given names. Mishe Girianna had a curled upward imperial
moustache (Mishe); Angadi Sannappa was a store (Angadi) keeper; Ghati Laxmi was a
descendent of a family that migrated from the Western Ghats. In the past when small
groups of people lived in isolated villages the prefixed adjectives were adequate for
recognition. Even now such nicknames are informally used within the Nadavara
community.

The two expansionist empires, Britain and Russia in the nineteenth century were locked
in a cold war which was notably known as “The Great Game”. Russia was concerned
about Britain attacking the Central Asia and Britain was afraid of Russia invading India.
Britain’s immediate need was obviously to strengthen the British presence in the Colonial
India. The Indian Mutiny of 1857 was the cursor that highlighted the qualms over the
East India Company’s ability to withstand the growing internal unrest and the looming
external threat from Russia. Alarmed by the Indian Mutiny, the British could not let the
entire population of India to get angry. The East India Company was nationalized
following the mutiny. The British Rule recognized approximately six hundred nominally
autonomous princely states. The British in return received tributes from the princely
states. The rest of India was directly controlled by the Viceroy of India, appointed by the
Prime Minister of Great Britain. The British Raj was firmly set on amassing revenue from
“The Crown Jewel”, India to support the lavish living style of England and suitably

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regulations were fabricated to maximize income. They imposed strict law and order to
facilitate the British occupation in India.

Lord Ripon, the Viceroy of India, (1880-84) introduced an autonomous local government
system that instead of government employees, the native leaders of villages were made
official heads. The system selectively pampered the Kshatriya leaders with frivolous
rewards and flattery. The Nadavara leaders were awarded with the title, Patel (village
chief). A Patel was supported by the local Powdar (police inspector). Patel was in charge
of the law enforcement in the villages under his jurisdiction. Patel appointed vigilantes
who voluntarily facilitated law enforcement in the village. Vigilantes patrolled the
neighborhoods at night. Patel was authorized to discipline the people who did not obey
certain laws. Shanbhogas (accountant) belonging to the Saraswata community assisted
in maintaining the taxation reports and collected taxes. Patels were not trained in legal
matters and used much of common sense in ruling. As a result, the rule and regulations
differed from one village to another, deviating from the rules set by the British. They
were not apprehensive of such indiscretions of law and order, as their governance in
India was not affected in any acute fashion. Comforting the community leaders with
flattery was a clever British strategy to control the rebellious Kshatriya communities. The
Grama Panchayati System (Village Assembly) replaced village Patels after the
Independence of India.

The British bureaucratic coercion to large extent weakened self-esteem of the vulnerable
Indians. Even the Indian princes plainly accepted the British superiority. The sexual
aggression of the British establishment against Indian women was widespread.
Misbehavior of the British authorities gave birth to a new racial sect, the Anglo-Indians.
British men rarely married Indian women and rejected their offspring from Indian
women. However, the Anglo-Indian community was offered special privileges for
education and employments. Indian cantonments were notorious for women trafficking.
Employments were offered to men in exchange for providing the innocent women for
the entertainment of the British soldiers. In the late nineteenth century, after dissolving
the Presidency Army, a campaign to expand the military was launched. The British effort
to sign up Nadavaras in the Bombay Battalion was totally unsuccessful. Surprisingly, not
even one Nadavara soul came forward to join the battalion.

“The 1858 Proclamation of the Queen of England (Victoria)”, was brought into the Act of
1858 AD, according to which the Indian Civil Services in all branches are open to all
British citizens and Indian Citizens born in India. However, after execution, the eligibility
for the Indian Civil Service was limited to the British Citizens and naturalized British
citizens of European descent. The recruitment of non-Indians and the exclusion of Indian

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nationals to the Indian Civil Service were justified on the basis of inadequate education
among Indians. Obviously, the British did not try to bring the standard of education to
match the Indian Civil Services job requirements. Consequently, an English citizen was
always assigned to the post of Collector or Governor. Even the appointments to menial
jobs of customs or revenue clerks, were based on criteria such as region, religion, and
caste of the applicants. It was absurd to think that Indians were unable to become a part
of the English controlled Indian bureaucracy whereas prior to the British Raj, so many
Indian emperors and kings led India to envious affluence.

The master plan of the British Raj was to convert India into a mammoth agricultural
landscape and discourage industrialization of any sort. In addition, the strategy was to
maintain the standard of living of Indians at bare minimum so that raw materials, mainly
the cotton, Jute and iron ore from India could be bought at despicable prices. The logistics
in India to improve the efficiency of transporting raw materials to Britain was given high
priority. One of the largest railroad networks in the world covering the length and
breadth of India was completed in a hurry. The railroad system also improved the
effectiveness of transporting the military men, artillery and equipment to all corners of
India. The British Raj tried many land reform experiments to capitalize on revenue from
taxation on land and wisely claimed that their intent was to maximize the agricultural
output of India. Many land activation acts between 1819 and 1900 were exercised to
improve the relations between Zamindars (Landowners) and Raiyatas (Farmers). The
land rent collected by Zamindars from Ryotas was much higher than the tax paid to the
Government by the Zamindars. To transform the uncultivated land into farmland the
taxes were raised but then again lowered the land rent paid by Ryotas to close the
existing disparity between Zamindars and Ryotas.

Recurrently India faced famines in the nineteenth century. In 1876-78 the shortage of rain
caused the Great Famine of 1876. The famine of 1876 was followed by another severe
famine during 1896-1897. Both famines greatly affected the peasants of Bombay
presidency. Except for Konkan the famines were endemic to the present-day Gujarat and
Maharashtra States which belonged to the Bombay Presidency. The controversial Great
Famine report stated that the produce in the Bombay Presidency was more than
expected. The export of rice increased while the peasants all over India were starving to
death. Three different government estimates of casualties during the Great Famine
varied between 1 and 3 million in the country. The independent estimates were a lot
higher than three million casualties. But for certain both famines caused dreadfully high
casualties. The horrid famine of 1899-1900 which affected the central and north India was
the worst famine of the nineteenth century. The deaths due to the famine reached 10
million especially in the contemporary states of Bihar and Orissa. North Kanara was

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famine free as it always had enough rain from the summer Monsoon. The tax on the rice
fields prior to the Colonial period was about 10-15% of the produce but it was gradually
raised to 35-45% of the produce. The Zamindars and Ryotas borrowed money to pay the
taxes and couldn’t pay back the loan. They ended up losing their farmland to money
lenders. The taxation in Konkan including North Kanara was higher than the other
regions of the presidency. The rise in taxes affected Nadavaras to great extent.
Cultivation of the less productive land, mostly in the raised terrains, locally referred to
as ‘Makki Gaddi' was halted. In the Nadavara landholdings more than aggregate 60%
was raised terrain. In due course it became uncultivated barren land on which the
landowners couldn’t pay taxes and the government took possession of the land.

An exclusive agricultural department was created by the Viceroy, Lord George Curzon
(1899-1904 AD) to oversee the successful implementation of the new land tax law. Ryotas
gained ownerships of farms lost by Zamindars. However, it wasn’t easy for the Revenue
Department to collect taxes from the impoverished Ryotas. The number of landowners
increased, but because of the lack of knowledge in land management and short of
supervision, farm productivity declined. The export of agricultural produce became less
profitable after the enforcement of regulation on the centuries old Zamindari System.
Already deprived economy of India was stuck into vicious downward spiral. The British
lived in seclusion without any concern for the needs of impoverished Indians. The Sahib
(Britisher) and Ayah (servant) relationship in colonial India was the epitome of class
difference between the rulers and the ruled. The racial, political and cultural superiority
articulated by the British minority led to identity crises among the educated Indians.
Dadabai Naoroji a prominent Indian businessman was the earliest Indian who openly
criticized the British for the dismal state of the Indian economy. His thesis titled “Drain
Theory and Poverty” was first of its kind that explained how the wealth is drained from
the Colonial India to sustain the opulent lifestyle of Great Britain. He was among the
three members who founded Indian National Congress in 1885. In 1901 Dadabai Naoroji
wrote a mega-book, “Poverty and Un-British Rule in India”. As stated in the book the
per capita income of an Indian was Rs. 20 per year. The poverty was so dire even the
globally spread Great Depression of 1929-34 made no noticeable effect on the
impoverished India. Generally, poverty and illiteracy are coupled together. Literacy rate
of India in 1941 was 12.2%. Before the independence, India was one of the world’s most
illiterate and poorest countries.

A few still existing thick walled big homes built two hundred years ago in the Nadavara
villages stand as a token of their exciting outset of some in Konkan. The picturesque
landscape of Konkan was strikingly appealing in the beginning. Around the turn of the
nineteenth century Nadavara domicile converged on either side of the Gangavali River.

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They somehow had accumulated sufficient amount of land for comfortable living. It is
not known how upon arrival they gained access to land in Konkan. At the end of the
nineteenth century, they lost much of it because of the British land reformation act. They
couldn’t afford tax increases on land which was raised by five folds in some cases. They
handed over the less productive land including uncultivated barren terrains to the
government or just abandoned them all together. In 1910 AD Beeranna Gaonkar of
Bhavikeri instead of returning the land to government, gifted 83 acres in Kalgod near
Baleguli, Ankola to his friend, Bhaskar-Rao. For several reasons, the economic conditions
of Nadavaras kept on sliding lower up until India became an independent nation.
Starting from mid 1930s for almost two decades they were utterly broke and faced
poverty that they never experienced before. They couldn’t survive without working hard
in their left over small patches of rice fields. Some Nadavara families even donated land
to their friends and relatives who were totally insolvent. Nadavaras with vengeance
blamed the British for their financial conditions.

Under the British Rule, the candidates applying for the military commission had to be
English citizens or pure European descendants. Indians were only eligible to apply for
the non-commissioned military jobs. The British could not retain a capable military in
India without indigenous manpower. The Kshatriyas were somewhat disloyal to the
British Raj. Still the British preferred them for the warlike attitude and Brahmins were
blend in to keep close eye on Kshatriyas. The poverty was so severe, even the lowest
ranking job of a soldier or police constable seemed attractive to Indians. But the
Nadavara community discouraged its youths from seeking employment in any kind of
defense of the British; defending the British Rule was considered to be unpatriotic.
Joining British armed forces would have been something parallel to the Kshatriya
lifestyle they led for centuries. Instead they chose to be self-employed farmers for which
early on they had modest propensity. Around 1880s, the community was upset with a
young Nadavara man who accepted a Pouddar’s (police inspector) job, which was a
rewarding position during those gloomy years. Even as recently as World War II, an
overly enthusiastic young Nadavara man against the will of his family and relatives
applied for a junior commission rank in the Maratha Regiment and was promptly called
for an interview held in Belgaum. Despite his application to junior commission, he was
recruited to a soldier’s job. After spending a few days in army, he escaped to Goa to avoid
the arrest warrant. Goa was then under the Portuguese rule.

The Nadavaras of Maskeri, Shetgeri, Bhavikeri and Hiregutti jointly instituted the
Nadavara Sangha in 1904 to dispute the British authority for imposing excessive taxation
on their land. However, the record kept on the grievance hearing if there was any, was
not found. Perhaps the tribunal was not in favor of the community. The Revenue

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department held public auctions on defaulted farmlands. Manipulation of the land


records, mostly by the corrupt intermediaries and clerks plagued the bureaucratic
administration. Abandoned farms were given away for low costs. The Revenue
department was unable to stop the illegal purging triggered by the loopholes within the
system. The Zaminadars were troubled and hopelessly struggled with the bureaucracy.
Besides many landlords could not collect enough land rent from the sublet farmers to
pay taxes and lost much of their lands. Still Nadvaras possessed enough land to live on
but had to curtail their living expenses. They tried to squeeze enough out of the residual
farmland to accommodate their families. The resolve for self-sufficiency, achieved
through communal teamwork made Nadavaras to feel united once again. Moreover, led
them to stand up in 1930s and fearlessly react to the treacherous treatment received by
the British Raj. Many Nadavaras who participated in the Nonviolence Movement lost
their properties for trivial reasons which at times were even fabricated. The first half of
the twentieth century was the hardest time Nadvaras ever faced.

Kshatriyas were undeniably hurt by the British Raj. There is another train of thought
which believes that the British Raj in India did more good than bad by leaving behind a
stable democratic nation. At the end of the eighteenth century, the Mughal Empire was
fragmented into many small kingdoms. The new tiny states were fighting among
themselves and were also struggling with the declining economy. In the nineteenth
century the British Raj occupied almost entire subcontinent which was bigger than any
Indian nation created by any Indian ruler. One of the largest railway infrastructures in
the world was built across the entire subcontinent. The education system was
modernized with the English medium schools and universities. During the 190 years of
British occupation, progressive approach to governance was introduced in all aspects of
Indian affairs. The Constitution of India and also the Government of India adopted
English as the official language and continued with the organizational structure left
behind by the British. Apart from the partition of Pakistan, democratic India when took
over the charge of British Raj, it assumed an integrated dominion of many small countries
and is still holding on as one country despite diverse ethnicities. The English language
introduced by the British takes the credit for controlling the modern multi lingual India
of today.

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Independence of India

August 1947

The research in Molecular Biology concluded in 2009 by Harvard University in thirteen


states of India was uncertain of the “Aryan Invasion” theory of India. The inconclusive
scientific study of Harvard University is a stepping stone in right direction for finding
the facts regarding ancient tribal migrations into India since the dawn of civilization.
Initially, Max Muller, a professor of theology at oxford, gave three lectures in 1861 called
“Science of Languages” in which he argued that the blackest Indians belonged to the
Aryan culture more than the fairest Scandinavians. The interpretation of the English
rulers manipulatively introduced the racial undertone to the Max Muller’s hypothesis.
Furthermore, they twisted Muller’s hypothesis to fabricate a new theory, “Aryan victory
over the Dravidian aborigines of India”. Muller resented the English rulers for
misrepresenting his theory on the Vedic culture in racial terms. Aryan is purely a culture
based on Vedas and Upanishads and not a race. The misinformed Aryan racial
propaganda came back to haunt England and the world during World War II. Hitler
embraced the fallacy of Aryan Supremacy and ruthlessly murdered millions of Jews
whom he called non-Aryans.

The Aryan and Dravidian hypothesis is just hundred fifty years old. It was well accepted
by the people in India and majority of them tried to relate their ancestry to the Aryan
race and even linked to the Saxons of Germany, purely out of their intrinsic feelings of
lowliness. The notion of the Aryan and Dravidian segregation was further magnified in
India, after the Second World War. The Brahmins of North India identified themselves
as Aryan Brahmins and disparaged the Dravidian Brahmins of the south. It is quite
transparent that the “Aryan migration from the Central Asia” was a plot of the British
without any relevant historical evidences or scientific proof. The Turkic slave king, Gazni
Mahamud attacked Peshavar in 1001 AD and continued his campaign in India till 1024
AD annexing Sind, Punjab and Kashmir. He brought 10,000 Turkic and Iranian soldiers

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who gradually blended with Indians. Mughal rule of India (1526- 1764) by and large
instituted Turkic cultural concepts including literature, art, architecture and food in most
of the northern India. The popular Kathak-Mughal dance lately seen in the Indian movies
came from Uyghur which was comprised of central Asia and western China. These are
just two of many earliest incidences of northern influences on India. Since the first
century BC, the facts regarding the exodus of Scythians, Kushans, Gandharas, Huns,
Persians, Turks, Mongols, Moguls, Portuguese, French and British are well documented
in the history unlike the sketchy belief of the migration of Aryans. The Scythians and
Kushans are the earliest confirmed invaders from central Asia who settled in India. The
Kushan king Kanishka ruled Persia, Bactria, Afghanistan and North India that made the
Kushan Empire an amalgamation of many civilizations. He honored Prakrit, Sanskrit,
Persian and Bactrian languages on equal footings. The ethnic interchanges brought in
new cultural values from Iran and Bactria to northern India. Four hundred years prior to
Kanishka, Emperor Asoka exported indigenous religious values of Buddhism to
Afghanistan and China. Many recent historians had assumed that Vedic teachings
belonged to the immigrants from Central Asia. Why even the slightest traces of the Vedic
divinity other than Buddism cannot be found in Central Asia, presumed original abode
of Aryans?

Approximately four and a half thousand years’ old Dravidian settlements of Saraswati
and Sindu civilizations were discovered in the early part of the twentieth century at
Rupar, Kalibangan and Lothal in India, and Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro in Pakistan.
According to the recent archeological findings Vedas existed during the Saraswati and
Sindhu civilizations, which dates at least fifteen hundred years prior to the hypothesized
Aryan invasion. India is a melting pot of immigrants and cultures that started blending
with the people of India since two and a half thousand years ago. The Kharosti
calligraphy of the fifth century BC found in Taxila might be one of the earliest historical
evidences of the western influence over India. Taxila University, which was founded in
the sixth century BC during the reign of the Achaemenid Dynasty, initially taught in the
Old Persian language. The skepticism arises from the absence of relics or historical
evidences such as, ancient architectures, weapons, stamps, coins, and skeletal remains
backing the Aryan migration from the central Asia. In this scientific age, substitutions of
the mythical stories of the Hindu epics to justify the Aryan connections are inadequate.
The legend of Aryan invasion was deliberately fabricated by the British rulers. Even
though it was a figment of fantasy, the Indian skeptics forced themselves to believe in
the romantic thought of belonging to the Indo-European race. They didn’t even bother
to verify the specifics supporting the hypothesis. Starting from the invasion of Alexander
the great in the fourth century BC, India was invaded by foreign invaders many times
till the independence of India. Indians didn’t believe in their ability to the extent they

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easily gave into alien invaders. That very quality made them romanticize of being
mythical Aryan invaders.

The Britishers took advantage of the widespread illiteracy to uphold their tenure in the
Indian Subcontinent. They deliberately divided India into Hindus and Muslims, Aryans
and Dravidians, North and South. They magnified the prejudice among the castes by
officially publishing the list of castes. They even created many new castes, which did not
exist prior to the British Rule. The cataloging of the castes created countless number of
social silos and chauvinistic sectarianism. A community in the western countries means
neighborhood but in India it is strictly a group of people belonging to the same caste.
During the British rule, most of the Indian communities were neither self-sufficient nor
helpful to other communities. The country based on pseudo values such as, religion and
caste became hopelessly heterogeneous. The segregation induced by the British rule was
one of the main reasons for the division of British India into two separate countries, India
and Pakistan. Britishers tactically tried to alienate India from its own culture. The
fabricated flimsy plots to split Hindus and Muslims hoisted doubts among many
political leaders of India including Mahatma Gandhi who was a blunt opponent of the
partition of India.

By the end of the nineteenth century, manipulative methods of the English rule that
controlled the masses of India created a favorable environment for the English language
to gain prominence over the Indian languages. For Indians proficiency in English became
the mark of literacy. The British bureaucracy started employing Indians to the lowly
mundane governmental jobs. With scanty education in English, most Indians eagerly
accepted menial jobs such as record keepers and police constables with great pride.
Sitting on a chair behind a desk became a pretentious accomplishment for them. The
Viceroy of India (1869-72), the Earl of Mayo, called it “Denationalization of the
Governed”. In plainness the Viceroy expressed his premeditated plan of programming
the people of India to be submissive to the alien rulers of England. Nadavaras, because
of their inherited a sense of ego filled with the admiration for self-rule did not endure the
British rulers. In the beginning of the twentieth century, when Gati Sahib (Venkanna H.
Naik, Gonnehalli 1879-1929) was preparing to leave for Cambridge, England in 1907 to
pursue his higher education, the community provisionally outcasted him. In the Hindu
caste system, an individual would be excommunicated from the caste, usually for
breaking caste restrictions. Till 1920s, many Hindus were outcasted for going abroad as
it was presumed that they would commit some ritual offense. However, Nadavaras were
not religious enough to exclude a promising fellow Nadavara man from their caste.
Perhaps, Sahib was outcasted on the belief that he was joining the British.

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Sahib was not deterred and went on to complete his MA at Cambridge. In 1911 after
returning to India he was assigned to Agricultural Department of Bombay State. He did
not have the job satisfaction as limited authority was permitted to take on any
meaningful projects. He demanded for more responsibility, but the Governor of Bombay
turned down his request. He explicitly expressed his feelings to the Governor. According
to Sahib, the negation was neither a personal insult nor the fault of the Governor but was
a bigger issue of discrimination confronting Indians. He decided to go back to England
to pursue Bar-At-Low. Unfortunately, the World War I broke out in 1914. He waited for
the war to end and in 1919 he revisited England with a focused objective of studying the
British Law. In 1921, he was called to the Bar and was awarded Bar-At-Law by the
Honorable Society of Lincoln's Inn which was one of four main courts to which the
barristers of England and Wales belonged. Barrister Mahamad Ali Jinnha (1876- 1948),
the former President of Pakistan, who was a good friend and frequent correspondent of
Sahib, was also an alumnus of Lincoln’s Inn. Before returning to India, he worked for a
brief time with a team of economists to prepare a plan for the land development in
Scotland. He told his friends that his involvement in the project was an error as he could
have gone home three months earlier. Sahib loved his native land. After returning to
India in 1921, Sahib joined the bureaucratic British Rule, but he was planning on starting
his own law practice soon after implementing a few projects that he initiated for the
people of Northern Karnataka. In fact, to join the Independence Movement, Sahib was
pondering on quitting the coveted rank of a collector which was consigned only to an
Englishman with Indian Civil Service qualification during that era.

Mr. Jinnha was trying to persuade Sahib to join his law practice in Bombay (Mumbai). In
the 1920s, Jinnah was actively involved in the politics of the National Congress Party and
Muslim League. He had tempestuous relations with many leaders of the Congress Party
including Mahatma Gandhi and Vallabhbhai Patel. Was he really trying to partner with
Sahib to promote his law practice? Or was he trying to get help from Sahib to accomplish
his privileged political ambitions? The year 1920 was a critical time in Jinnah’s political
career when he opposed the resolutions proposed by Mahatma Gandhi. He strained his
affiliation with the National Congress Party and severed his ties from the members of
the party. As Jinnah was one of the most senior and qualified personalities in the Indian
political arena, he hoped for the emergence of a single-nation state of independent India
and dreamed of becoming the head of the state. In 1922, in an attempt to earn the
goodwill of Mr. Vallabhbhai Patel, Mr. Jinnah successfully defended fund misapplication
case filed by the government against Mr. Patel. Still they continued to remain at odds in
the Indian political beliefs. Jinnah was the President of the Muslim League and the
League’s goal was to create a separate nation for the Muslims of India. The League’s goal
of a separate nation did not concur with the Jinnah’s dream of one secular nation. In

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late 1920s, during such a momentous period in his political career, conceivably, Jinnah
wanted support from Sahib to stabilize the confusing political situation and to improve
his relations with the National Congress Party that was dominated by the Hindus.

The Governor of the Bombay state, Sir Fredrick Sykes learnt about Jinnah’s
correspondence with Sahib and Sahib’s communication with other political leaders of the
National Congress Party. He questioned Sahib about his intentions. Sir John E Hotson,
the Secretary of the Bombay Presidency and later in 1932 the Acting Governor of Bombay
Presidency, suggested that Sahib be appointed as an authority to promote the
agricultural development in India. Shortly after the Sir Hotson’s proposal in June 1929,
Governor Sir Sykes asked Sahib to be one of his four direct reports. Sir Sykes was
especially fond of Sahib’s style of management. Sahib was expected to take on the new
responsibility, Divisional Commissioner of the Central Division, with the administrative
office in Poona in January 1930. Unfortunately, two months prior to his new assignment,
in November 1929, Sahib prematurely died after a brief illness. Sahib was operated for
minor appendicitis conditions at the Bijapur Civil Hospital. Apparently, he was given an
overdose of medicine for a speedy recovery by his family doctor. Overmedication might
have triggered an adverse reaction. It was the era prior to the miracle of penicillin when
people undergoing minor surgical procedures often died due to infection. Sahib was
cremated in front of the Anti-Famine Institute in Bijapur with a stately honor. The Anti-
Famine Institute still stands in the center of Bijapur downtown as Sahib’s memorial. The
postmortem report prepared by the British District Surgeon, Dr. Bene confirmed that he
died of food poisoning. Mr. Basnur, the police chief of Bijpur, without delay launched an
investigation to find the cause of the Sahib’s death but mysteriously the police
investigation was put on hold. Sahib’s family and friends suspected murder. The
mystery surrounding his sudden death instigated rumor based on conjectures. If foul
play, who was responsible? Was it a doctor’s error? Was it a well-planned political
conspiracy?

Gati Sahib’s career in India was too brief. In Bijapur, Sahib founded the Anti-Famine
Institute to help farmers improve their productivity through agricultural research. In the
early part of the twentieth century the people of India suffered from the protein
deficiency. In order to curb the protein shortage, Sahib implemented a scheme to grow
hybrid peanuts that could be grown in the semi-arid tropics where other crops failed. He
imported hybrid peanut seeds from the US. The improved variety produced more
peanuts and fodder for livestock than did the indigenous peanut crop. The farmers of
Northern Karnataka got enthused and started multiplying the hybrid seeds that
eventually spread all over India. Gati Sahib was a close friend of Alur Venkataraya one
of the pioneers of Karnataka Ekikarana (Unified Karnataka). Being an associate of the

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bureaucratic British Rule, Sahib’s hands were tied to work on political issues. Alur
Venkataraya with great admiration revealed Gati Sahib’s covert letters on Karnataka
Ekikarana after his death. Karnataka was partly split between Bombay and Hyderabad
states where Kannada was ignored. Gati Sahib wanted Kannada to be on equal footings
with Marathi and Telugu.

Gati Sahib’s efforts on building a main port on the West Coast of India at Bhatkal, Uttar
Kannada and a high school and a college under Bombay University at Gokarna were
approved by the British rulers only a short time before his death. After his demise no one
from Uttar Kannada was able to pursue the projects he began. Many years after Sahib’s
death, instead of Bhatkal the port development project was shifted to Mangalore,
Karnataka and then it was under Madras Presidency. Sadly, the planned educational
center of Northern Karnataka in Gokarna never materialized. Sahib’s rare qualities of
genius, intensity and compassion are cherished and personified as the model student at
Vidyavardhaka Sangha, Dharwar. He was a sweetheart of the Nadavara community. For
many years, the friends and relatives frequently discussed the shortfall due to Sahib’s
untimely demise. Usually the backward looking “what if” scenarios are hard to fathom
but undoubtedly the death of Sahib affected the progress of Northern Karnataka.

In the eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries, because of the Industrial Revolution,
productivity of England soared. The Victorian age (1839-1901), the period of Queen
Victoria’s reign was considered to be the pinnacle of the English prosperity. Great Britain
controlled the largest colonial territory including India, Canada, Australia and South
Africa. England relied greatly on the raw materials such as cotton, indigo, jute and other
agricultural products from India. The raw materials out of India were exported without
any concern for the people of India. Colonial India under Lord Dufferin, the Viceroy of
India (1884-1888), exported high grade sea salt produced in India and imported Cheshire
rock salt from England for the Indian consumption. The population of England doubled
from 15 million in1850 to 30 million in 1900. For the maintenance of their lofty standard
of living, the British Parliament opted to raise taxes on the people of India. Rudyard
Kipling’s, satirical poem of 1897, “Recessional” likened the destiny of the British Empire
to the pompous empires of the past. The poem was deemed to be the harbinger to the
forthcoming decline of the British Empire. Kipling wrote it after sensing the gradual
worsening of the British hold of India. Dadabhai Naoaroji, Gopal Krishna Gokhale and
Bal Gangadhara Tilak were the earliest nationalists to perceive the coming of the end of
British Raj.

Though the British Rule wasn’t appreciated by many rural communities all over India, it
greatly helped to integrate India into one large modernized nation. India was adversely

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fragmented into numerous small kingdoms prior to the English occupation of the
subcontinent. The consolidated British India with its new railway network and
telecommunication system made the interaction between the well spread out Indian
cities much easier. The wealthy minority mostly living in the cities started imitating the
fashions, customs, education, and sports of the westerners and a fortunate few even
sailed across many seas to England for education. They became elite Indian class that
formed hierarchically a new buffer caste in between the westerners and rest of India. The
westerners living in India though stayed socially detached from Indians there was
limited social mixing with the elites of India. Exposed to the British management, the
westernized Indian elites thought of actively participating in the British administration.
In 1885 with the help of a Scottish zoologist, Alan Octavian Hume a group of select
Indians formed the All India Congress Party. Its goal was to seek opportunities for the
English educated Indians in the British bureaucratic government. In 1908, Bal Gangadhar
Tilak introduced the radical concept of “Swaraj” or Independent India in the mandate of
the All India Congress Party. He was credited for the notion of self-rule for India through
nonviolence even before Mahatma Gandhi embarked on well recognized Satyagraha.

Mahatma Gandhi in the pursuit of independence of India proposed Satyagraha, the


non-cooperation nonviolent movement, as a means for achieving freedom from the
British rulers. The strategy was to pressure the British ruling machine with
noncooperation and disobedience within the restraint of nonviolence. It was a
complicated course to practice and was never carried out successfully in the past.
Even Mr. Gandhi thought that the nonviolence movement would be difficult to
pursue in such a large nation with such diverse ethnicities and opinions. He explained
the nonviolence movement as a faith-based virtue and is superior to political thinking.
The experimental movement was planned with great political acumen to prevent the
British rulers from gaining any kind of victory. The civil disobedience approach was
expected to minimize any form of life threatening violent aggressions by the sovereign
power. Mahatma Gandhi’s oratory fueled by his many caustic public speeches critical
of the alien rulers intrigued Indians from all across the country. Gandhi’s uncanny
ability to communicate with the masses mesmerized the people of India to the extent
that they called him Bapuji, meaning father or conceptually father of the nation. His
suggestion was well accepted by the All India Congress Party and Muslim League.
On February 5, 1922 the movement of Chauri Chaura in Uttara Pradesh got out of
control and quickly turned violent. The agitated protestors set fire on the police station
that killed twenty-three policemen on duty. Gandhi requested the demonstrators to
cease the campaign at once. Nonviolence as was the theme of Satyagraha, due to the

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violent drive of Satyagrahis in Chauri Chaura made Gandhi to shelve the overture of
Satyagraha. He had difficulty in coming to terms with the failure of his much-believed
exemplary Satyagraha. However, the Chauri Chaura incident was an indication of the
upcoming widespread campaign against the British Raj.

The next major passage of drive was the Salt Satyagraha (1930-34). The Taxation was
determined by the British Parliament without any concern for the people of India.
Unwarranted onerous taxation was imposed on food supplies, to generate the much-
needed funds for supporting the declining economy of England. The tax on salt was the
major tax component that contributed 9% to the total revenue. The domestic salt
production by anyone other than the government agencies was a punishable felony. The
Indian National Congress Party along with the Muslim League, as a symbolic gesture of
opposing the British Rule in India, instigated the Salt Satyagraha or “No Tax Movement”.
The people all cross India united to protest the salt tax. The anti-government
demonstration was carried out in many pockets of the nation. The Nadavara community
was stung by the excessive land taxation imposed on the landlords. Mahatma Gandhi,
the architect of the Salt Satyagraha and the adversary of the British rule became their
ultimate hero. His campaign for Swaraj or the Independent India against the British
rulers thrilled the entire community. Nadavaras quickly transformed from the long
history of martial behavior to nonviolent Satyagraha, which was an uncharted domain
of engagement for them. Faith in Gandhi made them feel quite sanguine about the might
of Satyagraha. The Nadavara involvement in Salt Satyagraha quickly became national
news.

Nadavara struggle to free India from one hundred and fifty years of British rule is well
documented in the History of Satyagraha. The Nadavara endorsement of the non-
violence movement led by Mahatma Gandhi was unprecedented given their warrior
history of many centuries. Even though the ideology of Satyagraha was not built into
their combative heredity, it was viewed as a long-waited opportunity that presented
itself and they seized it unreservedly. Just like the Patidars of Bardoli, Gujarat,
Nadavaras stood as steadfast as ever before for the liberation of India. However,
Bardoli’s noncooperation movement of 1928 was limited to tax exemption on the draught
stricken provincial land whereas in Uttara Kannada the Nadavara involvement in
Satyagraha was not out of necessity but was bound for a far-reaching cause, the freedom
of India. The Salt Satyagraha led by Mahatma Gandhi was declared on January 26, 1930
by the All India Congress Party. Mr. Hapi Rama Naik, Basgod, a local activist requested
the leaders such as, D.P Karmarkar, R.R Divakar, K.A Venkataramaih, and V.S
Narayanrao to Surve, a village near Ankola, to participate in the Salt Satyagraha. Rama’s
enthusiasm was infectious. The campaign orchestrated by him fascinated many

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Nadavara men and women. Surve became the local center for the self-assured
Satyagraha campaigners.

The movement in Surve began in March 1930. Many fervent men and women from the
surrounding Nadavara villages flocked to Surve for the covert meetings. On April 13,
1930, they fearlessly marched to Belambar, Uttara Kannada, a fishing village on the
seashore, and produced salt as a token of disobedience to the British rulers. They entered
the forest and cut the branches of the forbidden trees. They boycotted foreign clothes and
burned them in public. The police forces arrested many participants of Satyagraha, while
Hapi Ram in the thick forest of Ankola remained at large. The spirited Satyagaraha in
Ankola captivated the nation’s curiosity. Rama, the ultimate schemer was the most
wanted man. The British knew that he was the main organizer of the Satyagraha in
Ankola. In 1930s when Rama was hiding in the jungle, his toddler son accidentally died
of pneumonia. The police waited at his residence in Basgod, expecting Rama’s return
from exile for the funeral of his son. Rama refrained from going back home or even for
the cremation, although he was immensely saddened by his young son’s demise. He
twice came very close to being caught. Rama couldn’t afford to be detained by police.
His leadership was indispensable.

In 1930, over two hundred Nadavara participants, including a few women, were arrested
and jailed in unknown remote prisons. An anonymous press reporter described the
women participants as “…not very literate, but incredibly active campaigners.” A
woman of Hichgad, Laxmi boldly standing on the podium, delivered alarming speech to
a group of people gathered. The next day, same reporter overturned his report to read,
“Educated speech of Laxmi was talk of the town.” Kani Bommakka of Kanigal, the leader
of the women’s demonstration held in front of the collector’s office, Karwar, was
imprisoned for waving black flag. Along with her many other women protesters from
Hichgad, Kanigal, Shatgeri, Surve, and Maskeri were jailed. Manudevi of Kanigal was
fatally beaten for obstructing the police from arresting women. Satamma Nayak,
Jamagod was secretly catering food in jungles to the absconding activists. For scheming
underground operation, she was imprisoned for two years. Activities signifying
peaceful disobedience were intentionally carried out by the Nadavara men and women
in support of the Satyagraha until they were arrested. Mr. Dinakar Desai, a famous
Kannada poet in his Kannada poetic flair wrote,” The brave Nadavaras, who once fought
the wars of Vijayanagara, are now fighting the war of Satyagraha for the independence
of India. They are the authentic patriots.”

The callous handling encountered by the political detainees of Salt Satyagraha was a
common topic of discussion among Nadavara families. Under the umbrella of Salt

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Satyagraha, the campaign was further stretched to reject the commodities imported from
England and moreover to oppose the export of locally harvested timber and other crops.
In 1932, the scope of the expanded measures of Salt Satyagraha was accentuated with yet
another local brand name, “Karabandhi” (tax denial), which was perhaps to rejuvenate
vigor among the tired campaigners. The first formal Karabandhi Satyagraha meeting in
Uttara Kannada was held in the courtyard of the Kalasha Temple, Surve in March 1932.
The British government resolutely repudiated the assault accusations made by the
imprisoned freedom fighters. The inevitable predicaments of Satyagraha involving
confrontation with the police forces, followed by imprisonment, losing family properties
had already dispirited many attendants of the meeting. Going back to prison was also
perceived by many as an onerous task that would extend stress on their children. Their
resolve was tinted with resignation. The assembly of freedom fighters was almost on the
verge of emotional capitulation.

When the whispers of hesitation began to spread across the gathering, Surve Bommayya
Nayaka walked up to the podium and proclaimed, "Most of you are in favor of India’s
independence, yet some are beginning to deprecate Satyagraha.” and convincingly
announced “I may lose everything and may inconvenience my family, still I will
undividedly dedicate myself to the lofty resolve of Satyagraha and if some of you pull
out, I will try hard to fill the void.” His brave words of candor resonated all over the
courtyard. The attendees were provoked by the speech. Nadavara martial spirit was so
provoked, even they were getting drunk on it. The collective conviction of the assembly
rose above its fear. With unwavering determination one by one slowly rose to their feet
in absolute silence. The meeting was concluded with a clamor to continue the protest
British Raj in full force. At that critical juncture the lesser known Bommayya turned out
to be a sensational motivation speaker. That moment and that pristine scene remained as
one of the most remembered events of the Satyagrahis of Ankola. They frequently spoke
nostalgically of the incident for years to come. After the death of Bommayya in 1952, he
was honored with a hero’s tribute for revitalizing the freedom movement. The Salt
Satyagraha lasted for four years. Hundreds of Nadavaras spent time in detention
centers. In some villages hardly, a few old men were left to take care of the women and
children. The women had to deal with the financials of their families. Many borrowed
monies from the moneylenders and many sold their lands. The children could not attend
the remote schools without adult escorts. Their attendance in schools declined and many
dropped out. The community faced severe hardships during the freedom movement. It
was the martial attribute of Nadavara men and women that carried them through the
apprehension caused by Satyagraha.

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Mahatama Gandhi personally acknowledged the people’s enthusiasm and dedication


with which the Satyagraha was carried out in Surve. However, the non-violence
movement drained even a little bit of oxygen that was left in the Nadavara financial
situation. Once again, for the non-payment of taxes on land, many lost most of the little
pieces of ancestral property and some lost even their homes. Many became so destitute
that they could not afford good education for their children. Since the eighteenth century,
persistently declining Nadavaras socioeconomic conditions deteriorated to an extent,
that one could hardly imagine the status of their past as rulers of realms. Even though
the financial hardship was severe, the struggle for independence did not pause. A
handful of local people just by paying the pending or unpaid taxes purchased lands lost
by the Nadavaras for incredibly low prices. In Karnataka, Nadavaras were the major
sufferers during the period of the non-tax movement. However, this earned North
Kanara a distinguished place in the history of the Freedom Movement of India. The
British Raj introduced the British India Act of 1935 that led to the recognition of the
Congress Party.

Misfortunes of various forms, starting from the defeat at the battle of Talikote to losing
of their inherited properties during the Freedom Movement of India, had resolutely
stalled the progress of the Nadavara community for an extended period, but Nadavaras
somehow continued to live with dignity. After returning from prison, it was the time for
adjusting to the normal routine of everyday life. A few years of absence had brought
down their families to standstill and in some cases even worse. Back at home the life
wasn’t as expected; it was the time to pay the piper. They were overwhelmed by the
harsh reality. In order to survive they were forced to sell their lands for trivial worth. It
was almost like burning home furniture to stay warm during the nuclear winter. In mid
1930s, many Nadavaras returning from prison suffered from the emotional stress caused
by the Freedom Movement, which was similar to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
The western countries recognize PTSD as one of the ills of wars and treat their soldiers
returning from wars for the disease. Many Nadavara men suffered from nervous tension
and occasional mental breakdowns. Obviously, the English rulers were not concerned
about the psychological impairments caused by the non-violence movement. The
depressive disorder was so severe that they existed for no reason or purpose and it even
adversely affected their families. Under the duress, they lost the motivation for
livelihood. Nadavaras became so dysfunctional, without an external stimulus, it became
difficult to get them out of the ditch of depression. The community as a whole was in
need of urgent help to relieve its men and women from the convoluted problems that
were caused by the adverse economic and social environment.

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The question “How to begin the repair of damaged mind of the community?” had to be
answered internally and immediately. One of the earliest educators of Uttar Kannada
Ramachandra K. Naik, Torke, along with other leaders decided to revive the dormant
Nadavara Sangha (Association), which was founded in 1904. As a symbolic gesture of
the association’s existence, the Ramakrishna Mandira (Sangad Mane), a community hall,
was built in 1934 in Torke, Uttar Kannada. The Sanghad Mane was built as the memorial
of Ramakrishna Kawari, Torke who was a Sanskrit scholar, prominent reformer and
educator of the community in the Nineteenth century. The purpose of the Sangad Mane
was to promote the social and political activities to invigorate the Nadavara community.
Even more than losing properties, Nadavaras lost critically valuable time, which was
rightly subverted for an honorable cause. Paucity of funds became the main obstacle for
the children’s education which obviously lagged behind. The sacrifice of the Satyagrahis
(participants of Satyagraha) was immense, but significantly disrupted their family lives.
The after-effects of Satygraha crushingly disturbed the financial equilibrium of
households and needed a new solution to alleviate the unanticipated new dilemma. The
Sangad Mane was an essential foundation of all the organizations needed for the
promotion of education. Many political leaders, scholars were invited to preside over the
communal functions. A few Nadavara writers and artists wrote, directed, and recited
Yakshagana plays to inspire the people. At social gatherings, the history of the past and
the hopes of the future converged giving out the sparks of new outlook on the life ahead.

The implementation of the “Sangad Mane” concept was barely in time remedy to bring
order to the disorderliness caused by the Freedom Movement of India. It became the
beacon of hope to the dispirited families. True to their communal attribute, once again
Nadavaras were dedicated for a cause. Despite the unfavorable socioeconomic
conditions, collectively they regained aspirations for better living. The foremost priority
was focused on education and they went out on a limb to educate their children. The
enrollment of Nadavara students in the schools grew rapidly. In 1945, at Sangad Mane
the Nadavara Sangha celebrated belated silver jubilee, which was actually 41 years after
founding the association, as a mark of its accomplishment. The Bombay Tenancy and
Land Reforms Act of 1956 forced to relinquish much of the land that they owned to their
farmers or tenants. The effect on their living condition was not as sever since the
community as a whole had already taken a step forward in diverting their means of
livelihood to education by mass-producing teachers. The Sangad Mane was instrumental
in planting a seedling of education that swelled up into an educated ethnicity based on
worthy traditions. The well thought out petite concept of Sangad Mane to uplift the
depressed Nadavara community was proven to be a brilliant idea. Although the Sangad
Mane played an important role of a catalyst, the community’s self-realization process

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that helped the self-promotion was rather intrinsic. Sangad Mane still stands as the
legendary hallmark of the community’s character and integrity.

The armed forces of India in support of the United Kingdom joined Allies to combat Axis
in WW II. The Indian Military was made up of 2.3 million recruits including the reserve
forces. India suffered heavy casualties, especially losing 100,000 soldiers in Burma in a
violent fighting against Japanese army. The U.K parliament led by the Prime Minister
Winston Churchill hesitated to give the credit that India deserved for the active
participation in WW II. The demeanor of the British Raj in India is well portrayed in the
Madhushree Mukhrjee’s 2012 book, “Churchill's Secret War: The British Empire and the
Ravaging of India during World War II”. The Great Famine of Bengal of 1943-44
according to Mukherjee was a manmade famine. During the famine the British Raj was
still exporting rice from India. But Britain held back the dispatch of wheat which was
expected to feed specifically the famine struck people of Bengal. The Prime Minister,
Winston Churchill literally hated the people of India. Mukherjee in her book quoted his
racist remark, “I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion” to his
view of Bengalis that “they breed like rabbits”. He did everything in his power to stop
the wheat shipment reaching the Indian Shores. Australia wanted to ship wheat to India,
but they didn’t have enough ships. Churchill deliberately took no initiative to help
Australia for transporting wheat to India. The merchants in India were hoarding grains
to inflate prices. Approximately 3-4 million people died in Bengal and Bihar. The famine
was called, the WW II Bengali Holocaust for which Churchill was held responsible.
Churchill’s mental illness of racism was a fact well known to the Indian leaders. After
the WWII, he was tried in the International Court for war crimes. The British
Government quietly erased his misdeeds against the Bengali peasants. Churchill became
the famous war prime minister. The dark-side of Churchill, devoid of remorse for the
lives lost in the Bengal famine was discounted. After the WW II the British Raj struggled
to gain foothold over the “Quit India Movement”.

The Quit India Movement which began with the famous speech from Mahatma Gandhi
on August 8, 1942 was well timed when England was weakened by the constant German
bombardment in the thick of WW II. In November 1942 AD, the Nadavara community,
including many women, participated in the Quit India Movement (Non-violence
Freedom Movement) headed by Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and
Jawaharlal Nehru. Initially the Quit India movement led to riots in some pockets of India.
The participants burnt post offices, railway stations. The British held Mr. Gandhi
accountable for the outburst of violence. Even the Muslim league blamed Gandhi for the
violence, but Gandhi denied all charges, ignoring the intimidation of the law
enforcement, Nadavaras, to their credit, sanctimoniously participated in the protest rally.

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As they marched swiftly on their way to the prison wearing a Gandhi Topi (cap) and
Khadi (Hand spun and hand woven) shirt, the people standing by the roadside watched
them; cheered them; adored them; songs were sung, and stories were told of the heroic
deeds of the patriotic Nadavaras. They did not cross the guidelines of nonviolent protest
set by Gandhi. Many Nadavara men were imprisoned for the rebellion against the British
Raj. The Nadavara women also took a keen interest in the demonstrations. The former,
and presently controversial national anthem of India, “Vande Mataram” (I salute thee,
Mother) became the evening prayer in many Nadavara homes. Their loyal commitment
to Satyagraha encapsulates the Kshatriyan history of Nadavaras and reflects on how they
might have fought as soldiers in the past to protect their regarded territories.

India gained independence at 12 AM on August 15, 1947. Pandit Jawaharalal Nehru was
crowned as the prime minister of India, but Mahatma Gandhi did not attend the
ceremony because the independent India was not the same unified secular India that he
dreamt all through his campaign. Jawaharlal Nehru, a young man first met Gandhi at
the Indian National Congress Party meeting held at Lucknow in 1916. Nehru was
captivated by the imposing personality of Gandhi. Gradually strong bonds were woven
between them. Gandhi began to treat Nehru like his own son. Possibly Nehru becoming
the prime minister of India was what Gandhi intended. Nadavaras followed Gandhism
without questioning Gandhi’s choice of Nehru over Vallabhbhai Patel for the job to lead
the nation. Nadavara homes in villages were widely awake for the celebration of the
eagerly awaited historic event. At midnight on Friday, August 15, 1947 when the Indian
flag was hoisted on the parapet of the Red Fort in New Delhi, they cheered in sheer
ecstasy, ran around in joy, and distributed sugar to their neighbors. Nadavara men and
women went in style to help free the largest secular nation in the world and their sacrifice
towards the coveted Independent India was fully gratifying. At the zenith of the British
Empire, a quarter of the world population was under its control. The empire was spread
around the globe in such a way that the sun was shining at any given time in at least one
of its outposts. The contemporary proud English saying was, “The sun never sets on the
British Empire.” The illustrious phrase was originally coined by the Scottish writer, John
Wilson. The humbling satire was “The British Empire ended after the independence of
India.” Mr. Hapi Rama Naik with the help of his old acquaintance, Mr. Murarji Desai,
the former prime minister of India, initiated the “Rama Naik GR” also known as the
“Hillur Scheme” in 1950 AD, under which some destitute political sufferers were
partially compensated for their losses.

It was the dream of naïve common people that freedom from the British would set them
free from all worries, but the freedom wasn’t meant to be end-all problems of assorted
India. All along the struggle for independence, there were more than two opinions

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regarding the territory of Independent India. The Congress Party and the Muslim League
rejected Gandhi’s plea for one nation. Under the guidance of Lord Mount Batten, the
political leaders of the two parties decided to partition India to create a separate Islamic
country. The ambiguous intricacies concerning partition of India entangled Hindus and
Muslims into social anxiety. Sir Cyril Radcliffe, a respected barrister from England
arrived in New Delhi on July 8, 1947 to establish the border line between India and
Pakistan. After a brief study of India’s demography and geography of religious
affiliations, the blueprint of the Radcliffe Line was completed two weeks prior to the
independence of India. Nehru and Jinnah actively participated in carving up Pakistan
from India. The Indo-Pak border was publicly announced on August 17, 1947, two days
after independence. Radcliffe’s report clearly mentioned that because of the time
limitations the prominence was given to railway lines and water supply systems in
defining the border. The British Government was noticeably disgruntled by the loss of
two hundred-year-old Indian Colony. Irritated Winston Churchill in grumpy tone on the
partition of India and Pakistan said, “I’d rather see them have a good civil war”.
According to BBC, within two weeks after the exposure of maps of India and Pakistan,
15 million refugees stampeded across the Indo-Pak border and about a million-people
lost their lives to communal violence triggered by the angry mobs. Throughout the entire
partitioning process Mahatma Gandhi was pushed aside by Lord Mount Batten, Jinnah
and Nehru. Gandhi felt abandoned and supposedly went into depression. Gandhi
openly expressed his sadness over the partition of India. After witnessing the communal
violence, he thought of his lifelong struggle for nonviolence a total failure. The partition
of such an enormous country with diverse ethnicities was handled insensitively ignoring
the social environment and after effects on masses.

Partitioning of British India in a hurry under unjustified guidelines was the biggest
Indian political blunder of the twentieth century. Even though Pakistan labeled itself as
the land of Muslims, India with 85% Hindu population was branded as a secular country
but was naturally slanted towards Hinduism. The religion based politics and communal
hatred continued both sides of Radcliffe Line. Being a believer of Gandhi, the Nadavara
Sangha was vocally against the partition of India. In response to the request from
Mahatma Gandhi within a month after the partition, rioting was brought to a complete
halt in India but murders and rapes of Hindus on the other side of the border did not
stop. The outraged Hindu fundamentalist, Nathuram Godse, with built up vengeance
over the killings of Hindus in Pakistan assassinated Mahatma Ghandhi on January 30,
1948. It is needless to say that Mahatma Gandhi loved the people of India as strongly as
they worshipped him in return. The entire country was struck by the sudden shocking
news. The Nadavara families were swept by the grief as if the head of the family had
died unexpectedly. The loud mourning wails of the Nadavara villages sounded like a

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lamenting chorus. The Nadavara families went through the motions of the traditional
Hindu mourning rituals for twelve days. The Nadavara Sangha requested for the ashes
of Mahatma Gandhi, but their request was not fulfilled. The Congress Party of Ankola
built Gandhi Katti in the memory of their beloved leader. A framed picture of Mahatma
Gandhi adorned the walls of many Nadavara homes. The picture of Gandhi was a
poignant memento of his murder. According to many, Mr. Godse was a polite man
but became exceedingly eccentric after the partition led religious uprising. He was
sentenced to be executed by the judiciary of India on November 8, 1949.

The Nadavara pride was rewarded for having earnestly participated in the process as
directed by Satyagraha, the apparatus that expelled the English out of India. It quenched
their long-held revenge against English for treating them harshly just because they
belonged to a Kshatriya clan. The Nadavaras became fanatically loyal to the Congress
Party and almost religiously wore Gandhi cap, like the orthodox Jews wearing Yamaka.
Nadavaras did not perceive Mahatma Gandhi as a politician, but as a messiah, who led
them through the struggle for independence and relieved India from the British
oppressors. It can be compared to Prophet Moses coming to the rescue of the Jewish
slaves and guiding the “Jewish Exodus” out of Egypt to Mount Sinai. Nadavara men,
women and children were idealistically consumed by the political activities of Congress
and the virtuous ideology of Mahatma Gandhi. They celebrated Independence Day of
India, Gandhi Jayanti (birthday) and Gandhi Memorial Day with ceremonial pitch, like
any other religious festival. For the Nadavara Satyagrahis, their community was
primarily a part of the All India Congress Party and secondly belonged to the Hindu
religion. Living in a land of orthodoxy, it was a remarkable outlook of life where the
political values were favored over the religious faith. Time and time again, the secular
expression of placing country prior to religion was demonstrated in the deeds and
actions of Nadavaras, all along their history of thirteen centuries.

Independent India began its first parliament under the Prime Minister, Jawaharlal
Nehru, in the midst of communal riots. “After Mahatma Gandhi, Nehru was the political
prodigy to lead the All India Congress Party,” was a naive belief of Indians. As expected,
Nehru became the Congress Lama after Gandhi. Merely to resolve the political
dichotomy between Jinnah and Nehru, British India was split to create a new Islamic
country, Pakistan without a national referendum. It is mind boggling to think that to
accommodate the greedy needs of two individuals, the country with population of four
hundred and forty million (India: 355 million, Pakistan: 85 million in 1947) people was
split. India inherited 81% of the population and 75% of the land after partition. Under
the mandate of independent India, the Congress Party was chosen to uphold democratic
values. Nehru settled for the short end of the stick as he eagerly wanted to secure the job

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of India’s prime minister. He was an idealist without much pragmatic concern for the
nation’s health. Always being under the shadow of Mahatma Gandhi, Nehru did not
have the opportunity to expand his own realm of political thinking until Gandhi’s
demise. He was an admirer of the Gandhian means of frugal living but being educated
in England, obviously he was enticed by the western lifestyle. Nehru in 1930s discarded
the western clothes and wore kurta and dhoti to conform to Gandhi’s call for Swadeshi
(indigenous) clothes. Nehru after independence wore a mini collared knee length silk
jacket garnished with a red rose stuck in the third buttonhole. Nehru’s well fit chic jacket
became a new fashion and was named after him, Nehru Jacket. He was an elegantly
dressed enthusiastic prime minister. The new constitution of India, which was
implemented on January 26, 1950, was based on the British and the U.S democratic
philosophies. But the Congress Party of India sided with the communist bloc led by
Soviet Union of Russia. Did India discount its democratic constitution or else was it a
self-serving motivation of India’s leadership?

Certain wrong choices made during the Nehru’s administration preoccupied India for a
long time and their specters are still lingering on like pests to the solidarity of India. Mr.
Valabhbhai Patel authoritatively invited Nehru to change his novice foreign policy.
Nehru was afraid to deal directly with Patel and appointed Rajagopalachari as the
intermediary between himself and Patel. Nehru’s diplomacy failed India with its
neighboring countries. The border issues of Kashmir with Pakistan and Arunachal
Pradesh, Nepha and Ladakh with China remain unresolved. The independent decision
taken by Valabhbhai Patel to merge all princely states into the Union of India prevented
Hyderabad and Telangana from merging with Pakistan. Mr. Patel died in December
1950. His successor as the Home Minister Rajagopalachari in 1951 cautioned Nehru of
the looming expansionist plot of China. He was against Nehru’s alliance with the Soviet
Block. In October 1951, Rajagopalachari was forced to resign from the Nehru’s cabinet.
Under Nehru, India’s national security and foreign policy were disjointed. The national
safety was threatened and consequently made it difficult to safeguard India’s borders.
Nehru’s elitist nonalignment policy without a discreet agenda discouraged the advanced
countries such as, the United States, United Kingdom and France, and Nehru’s
government couldn’t seek assistance when India was in dire need of it. Simultaneously
India was aligned with the marginally surviving communist country, the Soviet Union.
The India-China war of 1962 was total disaster for India. China successfully encroached
Ladakh and NEFA, the eastern region of Kashmir bordering Tibet. India did not get any
kind of support from the Soviet Union, during the war while countries such as Taiwan,
Japan and Korea were advancing with the help of the U.S.

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The Congress Party in order to boost the indigenous manufacturing, discouraged


operations of foreign establishments in India. The government controlled “Five Year
Plan” concept was launched for the country’s economic expansion. The concept was a
replication of the five-year plans implemented by the Soviet Union. It was an acute error
of the Congress Party, which was caught up in red tapes and corruption. Boycotting the
finished products from England was one of the dictums of Satyagraha and should have
ended with the end of British Raj. India, a deprived country without any foreign aid
could not gain much-needed initial momentum for the industrial development. The
industrialization process of India was languid partially due to scanty infra structure. The
country had to dwell on the poor farmers till the fourth quarter of the twentieth century.
The ruling Congress party selectively curbed freedom of the press which was utterly
unconstitutional. The real voices of common people hardly reached New Delhi, the
capital of India. Nehru became nearly a dictator. The Congress Party’s propaganda
machine became awfully manipulative. Nehru seldom took responsibility for his
mistakes. His associates such as C. Rajagopalachari, V.K. Krishna Menon became
scapegoats for bearing the burden of blames. According to Nadavaras, Nehru couldn’t
do anything wrong. The mainstream of Nadavara community mistook the political
agenda of Nehru’s congress party for the Gandhian philosophy. Some literate Nadavaras
often quoted excerpts from his famous speech, “Tryst with Destiny” delivered on the eve
of India’s independence. At informal gatherings “What next after Nehru?” was a fancied
subject of conversation among the politically savvy Nadavaras. His photographs were
hung in Nadavara homes, along with that of Gandhi. The Nadavara teen agers who were
not even eligible to vote went door-to-door begging for support for the Congress Party
during elections. Nadavaras hero-worshipped Nehru.

Gandhi’s teachings influenced many legendary activists such as Romain Rolland, Martin
Luther King and Nelson Mandela and they effectively used the Gandhian code,
“nonviolent protest, the antidote for injustice”, to achieve their desired objectives.
However, in Uttara Kannada, after Gandhi’s demise, the enthusiasm and vigor induced
by Gandhism was on decline. Following the independence of India, even though the
Kannada poet and activist Sapa Gaonkar preached the Gandhian teachings through
series of lectures and writings, his earnest efforts did not reach beyond the local
platforms. In 1950s, the mountainous region of thinly populated Uttara Kannada did not
have the political clout to draw any one’s serious interest. Even the Member of the
Parliament of Uttara Kannada, Joachim Alva was imported from Mumbai. Ram Gopal
Naik, a 27-year-old young man brought Joachim Alva, a Congress Party member to
North Kanara from Mumbai. Rama Gopal cleverly introduced Jochim to Nadavara
community as a Tulu Nadavara man of South Kanara who recently accepted
Christianity. Possibly it was a political ploy to draw Nadavara votes. Nadavaras,

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conditioned by the Congress Party slogans treated the Congress Party M.P candidate,
Joachim like one of their relatives. He frequently visited Nadvara homes with his wife
during the election stretch and relished Nadavara cuisine. Sadly, they went all out to
support Jochim against the highly regarded local candidate, Mr. Dinakar Desai. Joachim
was elected in 1952 and was reelected in 1957 and 1962. Intoxicated by the Congress
Party, the thinking of Nadavaras swung away from much needed pragmatism to cope
with the changing times.

After the independence of India, the political turf had changed considerably. The moral
compass set by the principles of secular Satyagraha was broken. The discretion of
people’s government was vulnerable to the meandering and deceitful policies practiced
by the new wave of politicians. Gandhi’s humble request to dissolve the All India
Congress Party after the independence of India was disregarded. The Congress Party
continued to exist as the ruling political party with Mahatma Gandhi’s highly regarded
image, even years after his death. The Congress party monopolized Indian politics under
Jawaharlal Nehru for two decades after independence. Nehru had groomed his only
daughter Indira Gandhi to inherit the helm of the Congress Party. As planned by Nehru,
Mrs. Gandhi became the prime minister of India in January 1966. However, in 1967, the
differences of opinions within the Congress Party triggered by the power struggle
between the Deputy Prime Minister, Morarji Desai and Indira Gandhi challenged the
integrity of the party. Mrs. Gandhi formed her own political party in 1969 that split the
Congress Party in two factions, Indira Congress and Old Congress. The conservative
Nadavaras decided to go along the Old Congress Party.

The differences in fundamentals with the veteran Congress leaders of Karnataka, forced
the nonconformist politician, Rama Gopal Naik to leave the Congress party in 1966. Mr.
Deve Gauda, former prime minister of India when he was a member of the Legislative
Assembly of Karnataka, was an advisor of Rama Gopal. Deve Gauda began his political
career as an independent candidate in 1962. The farmers of Hassan District, Karnataka,
supported him in the state assembly election. Like Deve Gauda, Rama Gopal embarked
on a regional political party, Ryota Sangha in 1967 AD but he did not receive support
from the Nadavara Congress leaders who backed the Old Congress Party. Unfortunately,
to the conservative Congress he was an eccentric without a brand. Rama Gopal’s Ryota
Sangha did not flourish beyond the support of the local farmers and fishermen. In 1981
AD, the Government of India’s decision to build a naval base in Binaga, Uttara Kannada
entailed land acquisition of farmland from Binaga to Bhavikeri, stretching approximately
fourteen miles along the west coast of India. The project was named Sea Bird. The initial
compensation offered to the farmers was little over Rs. 50,000 per acre. Thousands of
panicked farmers were unable to complain to the government, since the ruling Congress

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Party of Karnataka was liable for the land sanction to the Sea Bird project. Rama Gopal
called the naval project a “midday robbery”. After extended protests of the Ryota
Sangha, the Government of India boosted the compensation; in fact, the payment was
quadrupled from the initial offering. The ramifications due to Sea Bird would have been
a disaster to the farmers of Ankola and Karwar, without timely interference of Ryota
Sangha.

Even the experienced savvy politicians were unable to challenge the shrewd dealings of
Mrs. Indira Gandhi. The old Congress Party couldn’t run against her popularity and just
for survive merged with other minority parties. Balakrishna Venkanna Naik, known to
people as Balasaheb, a coveted bureaucrat, quit his job in 1970 and joined the Indira
Congress Party. In 1971 he was the elected Member of the Parliament from Uttara
Kannada. He was stunned by the unruly internal affairs of Indian politics. Even though
he belonged to Indira Congress, he wrote a revealing book, “Long Way to Go”, which
basically addressed the dreadful practices of corruption ingrained in his own party. The
book disparaged the virtuous doctrines of Congress, which was constantly rehearsed
propaganda since the administration of Jawaharlal Nehru. At the age of forty-one,
Balasaheb was one of the youngest seated MPs with great ability and qualifications.
Undoubtedly, he had a promising future ahead of him to serve the people of India. At
the onset, he was well liked by Indira Gandhi, but his impatient tackling of the monstrous
problem was premature. Idealism mixed with egotism was not a good formula for
tackling corruption imbedded in the Indian politics. His honest but obstinate activist
thinking annoyed the guarded establishment of Congress. Soon Balasaheb’s tenure in
Indira Congress came to an end. The blend of liberal thinking and naivety failed him in
the Indian political arena.

Nadavaras participated in the Indian politics since the early 1930s. SaPa Gaonkar became
a deputy minister in the Bombay state cabinet in 1947 and Ramakrishna B. Naik became
the speaker of the Karnataka State Council in 1968 but both were not elected by the
popular votes. Over all, the Nadavara accomplishments in the Indian politics were
anemic. Their genetically deep-rooted, dogmatic behavior combined with short temper
proved to be caustic in the political arena of India. The size of ethnic group is a critical
factor in the Indian politics; usually larger ethnic groups control the policy making
process. For a tiny community such as Nadavara to climb the national stage of politics is
a proposal of tall order.

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Kane Bommakka Kanagil (1898-1989)

Photo: 1987

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Hapi Ram Nayaka, Basgod (1894-1974)

Photo: 1950 (Approx)

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Barrister Venkanna H. Naik, Gati Sahib (1879-1929)

Photo: 1907

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Ramachandra K. Naik (1886-1969)


&
Gauri R. Naik (1907-1983)

Photo: 1930

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Sapa Gaonkar (1887-1972)


&
Venkamma Sapa Gaonkar (1897- 1983)

Photo : 1970

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Religious Beliefs

Religions started with the known unknowns. When people could not grasp the physical
phenomena of the Mother Nature, they called it “The God’s Will” and beliefs formed
around the gods of all sorts. The religious beliefs have been around since the dawn of
human existence. Along with the advancement of physics, religions also have evolved,
but they always lagged significantly with respect to science on the historic timeline. That
is why there are always controversies and conflicts between religion and science. All
religions started in good faith. As gradually distinct religions mushroomed especially in
the Asian continent, faiths of individual religions became dogmatically prejudiced and
the distinctive religious attributes turned into political dictums, such as Edicts of Asoka
or Ten Commandments. Even now religions are used habitually as political instruments
to manipulate people. Karl Marx wrote, “Religion is the opiate of masses” or in other
words, the knowledge of religion, if misused, works against and adulterates the
consciousness of people. Yet religion is almost a necessity to bond people together with
social and moral responsibilities.

In the first millennium BC, the Gandhara country stretched over the present-day
northwestern Pakistan and eastern Afganistan. Takshila, the educational center of
Gandharas was an intellectual confluence of all kinds of universal ethnicities. The
territory was also homeland for Greek and Persian colonizers who were known as Yauna
or Yavana to the Vedic people. The contemporary Hunja and Kalash people living in the
northern Pakistan are the descendants of the Greek traders who travelled on the Silk
Road to China around the sixth century BC. Later on in the fourth century BC many
soldiers of Alexander the Great joined the formerly settled Greeks. Kharosthi was the
script used by the Old Persian language during the realm of Darius the Great, in the sixth
century BC. The people of Gandhara under the dominion of Darius spoke the Old Persian
language mixed with Greek and used Kharosthi script, which was written right to left.
Kharosthi was developed from the script of the Aramaic language which was the
ancestral language of Arabic and Hebrew. Aramaic belonged to Afro-asiatic family of

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languages. Till the fifth century BC, Sanskrit was a spoken dialect. Panini, a teacher at
Takshila (Takshashila) in the fifth century BC, used the Greek grammar to structure the
Sanskrit dialect. Panini’s original Sanskrit writings were found in Kharosti script. Many
centuries of oral literature of Vedic sermons were documented for the first time in the
fifth century. By the beginning of the second millennium many anonymous Indian
scholars worked on intensifying the Vedic philosophy. Sanskrit, the language of Vedas,
was rightfully used for the propagation of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism. Even
though Sanskrit was an indigenous language of India, it was greatly influenced by the
Old Persian and Greek languages. Consequently, Sanskrit was placed under the Indo-
Eurpan-Iranian family of languages.

The Brahmi script was initially used around the third century BC. The oldest Brahmi
script along with Kharosti was found in “Edicts of Asoka”, engraved on the pillars
erected by Emperor Asoka. The inscriptions were mostly in Prakrit and seldom in
Sanskrit. In the second century AD the Buddhism edicts were still written in Kharosti
which was evident from the Kanishka Stupa found in Ladakh and North-West Frontier.
The religions which were born in the Indian subcontinent were inter-related through the
common concentric philosophy of Vedas. During the eras of Asoka and Kanishka
Buddhism was the main religion. Prakrit was the official language of Budhism and Pali
was the spoken language. In the first century BC, the Scythians after migrating to the
northwestern India spoke Scythian but along the gradual process of Indianization, they
adapted Prakrit and Pali. Sanskrit did not gain prominence until the fourth century AD
when the Gupta dynasty was in power. It was the official language of Samudra Gupta
and was the vehicle that propagated Hindu religion across his empire. The Vedic
compositions partially written by Patanjali in the second century BC were completed
during the Gupta period. The famous Sanskrit poet, Kalidasa lived during the time of
Chandra Gupta II, the son of Samudra Gupta. Kalidas composed Ramayana in Sanskrit
written in the Brahmi script.

In the eighth century, Sanskrit was written in the Sidham script, an offshoot of Brahmi
and in the twelfth century the Nagari script replaced Sidham. The present Devanagari
script in which Sanskrit, Hindi and Marathi are written did not fully evolve until the 18th
century. Devanagari became prevalent only after the decline of the Mughal Empire.
During the time of Mughals, like Urdu, the Hindi language was written in the Persian
script. The vocabulary of Hindi accessed words from Persian and in the process the Old
Hindi language was enriched to become Hindi and ultimately the national language of
India. The Bolywood Hindi is indeed the hybrid of Hindi and Persian languages. The
writings of Vedas in Devanagari are less than three hundred years old. The much-needed
rules of grammar developed by Panini and Patanajali uplifted Sanskrit to a new level

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and the other Indian languages connected to Sanskrit went through evolutionary phases
up until the eighteenth century AD.

The Vedic philosophy tried to accommodate assorted views on life of different cultures
and traditions. It continually adapted to the process of evolution of knowledge. Atma,
“the soul” was god and Paramatma, “power of the universe” was also god. The Hindu
temples with numerous gods suggest that the liberal Vedic thinking respected the
viewpoints of people arising from all directions. The Vedic thinking was the earliest
religion in the subcontinent and had no rivals. Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism were
thought to be the branches of Vedic philosophy. Since Vedas never opposed other
religious philosophies, the question of religious segregation did not arise. Vedic
philosophy accepted all religions as the supporting brethren. Undoubtedly it was a
secular cult of brotherhood. Only after the birth of Islam, the people living on the banks
of the Indus River, who practiced Vedas, were called Hindus and their Vedic practices
became the Hindu religion. In due course religions began to compete for dominance. The
Hindu epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata gained importance after the tenth century as
literatures for the Hindu religious propaganda. The personalities involved in the
propaganda of religions became virtuous men in the realm of religious thinking.
Spiritual viewpoints of kings influenced the theological beliefs of warriors. Undoubtedly
more wars were fought for the sake of religion than for any other reason. Restrained by
the social changes and pressure from other faiths, the Vedic religions had no choice but
to amend commandments for their own survival and also in pursuit of excellence.

In the ninth century, Shankaracharya revised Bhagavatgita, the Hindu religious book, to
revive the overly exhausted Hinduism and in the thirteenth century Madhwacharya
redrafted Upanishads to reflect the changing times. Like the Islam and Christian
religions, the peaceful Vedic religions, embarked on exploiting militia to conserve and
expand their religions. Jainism preached nonviolence but the soldierly profession of the
earliest Nadavaras was partially for safeguarding Jain religion. How did the Jain kings
and soldiers handle the malice of wars? Soldiers on battlefield could not afford to deem
anything less than defeating the enemies. They could not allow themselves to become
compassionate of the divine preaching, even if a war was committed on religious
grounds or for any other reason. On the war field nothing but the martial discipline was
their faith. Most likely, the dilemma of spiritual philosophy resurfaced when they were
back with their families and friends.

In the animal kingdom, almost as a rule all species are altruistic. “Animals intentionally
don’t kill another animal of its own kind” is a dictum of the Mother Nature. Likewise,
it’s hard for a soldier to kill an enemy on the war field without encountering concern for

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a fellow human. The rival soldier is still a responsible person trying to support his fond
family that he has left behind. The warriors on either side are paid to kill but aftermath
of killing is confounding and traumatic. The “Soldier’s Dilemma”, is a
psychological issue known since ancient times. According to the Hindu religious book,
Bhagavatgita, the sermon delivered on the battle field of Kurukshetra by Lord Krishna
was intended to solve the dilemma of the war hero, Arjuna when he was stymied by the
thought of facing his half-brother, Karna in a dual. Prior to becoming a Buddhist, the
Mouryan emperor, Asoka, suffered from the soldier’s dilemma, which was conflict
between justified war-field cruelty and moral awareness. In William Shakespeare’s play,
Julius Caesar, the theme of soldier’s dilemma is repeatedly portrayed. American soldiers
returning from Iraq are deeply affected by similar distress and anxiety which are treated
as psychological impairments in the American hospitals. In a war, there is always
unconscious reluctance to kill the so called “foe” who possibly is a decent human being.
The duty of a Kshatriya in the past was distressingly difficult. The Nadavara men
lived through the emotional seesaw that constantly vacillated between the martial
cruelty and empathy for humanity. Nadavaras intermittently shifted their mind-set from
rage of wars to the nonviolence of Jainism. Somehow, they might have found much-
needed spiritual support from the peaceful Jainism to mitigate the muddle of wars.

Nadavaras were not overly religious but still they fought numerous dicey wars on behalf
of religion. The behavior can be compared to the Tudors of England (1485–1603 AD)
acknowledging the Anglican Communion and protecting the Church of England, which
alternated between Catholic and Reformed (Protestant) denominations. For the Tudor
rulers, by any means priority was not the religion but was the defense of the Church of
England as a matter of English pride. Similarly, Nadavaras facilitated the faith of the
people belonging to their sovereignty. Their secular thinking was the expression of their
generous attitude towards other faiths. The earliest Nadavaras worshipped Surya
Narayana and revered Trimurti as the symbolic gesture of honoring pluralism. The
unorthodox concept of Trimurti bound together the Vedic sects, Jainism and Hinduism.
In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the Nadavaras gradually accepted Hinduism
on their own accord. Even after their soldierly subsistence waned, the secular outlook of
Nadavaras lingered on to their lifestyle. Although they practiced Jainism and later
Hinduism, always their religion was limited to the Nadavara communal customs. A
small percentage of Hindus who practiced Brahmanism placed emphasis on the study of
religion and orthodoxy.

Temples were not only the places of worship but were also the show rooms of wealth
and prosperity where kings and kingdoms displayed their riches. It was fashionable for
rulers to build glittery temples. An ornately sculptured temple was symbolic of king’s

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reputation and envy of the rival kings. Famous sculptors were employed in the
construction of temples, many of which still proudly stand as spectacles of ancient India’s
architecture. Devaraya II (1424-26) rebuilt the Virupaksha temple that existed since the
time of Rashtrakutas on a lavishly proportioned scale to exhibit the grandeur of his
ability. His foremost duty as he stated was to be the trustee of Virupaksha Temple and
then next in order was to be a good king of the glorious empire. The intent of
Vijayanagara was no longer to protect Hindu religion; instead set its mind on prosperity
of the country. The temples were mushrooming everywhere in South India. During the
time of Vijayanagara, temples became the major land holding institutions and a large
temple held as many as a few hundred villages. Temples became the means of land
management and vassals and Nayakas became trustees of religious institutions. Over the
span of two centuries, Vijayanagara rulers and their subordinates built over 2000 new
temples. The taboo of “giving money to god” is still practiced in all religions. The god-
fearing people out of guilt try to please god with generous gifts. It’s quite naïve to reduce
god to the human values filled with desires and greed. The rulers of the past exploited
the innocent subjects by forcing aberrant concepts of religion and god to benefit their
own means. Barbaric exploitations of the god-fearing people existed since the remote
past. Chanakya (Kautilya), advisor to the Mauryan Emperor Chandragupta, wrote in his
famous book Arthashastra (Morals of Economics), “It is critical to use religion and
superstitions to arouse the soldiers to fight enemies fearlessly.”

In South India as the influence of the twelfth century Vaishnava saint Ramanuja spread,
certain Jain ethnic groups began worshipping Vishnu. The Hoysala King, Bitti Deva
(Vishnuvardhana) converted to Vaishnavism from Jainism. Since then both faiths
developed tolerance toward each other. Nadavaras after the conversion to Hinduism
identified themselves as Vaishnavas (worshipper of Vishnu). After settling in Konkan,
they were Muktheshwaras (head trustee) of many temples, including Mahabaleshwar of
Gokarna, Kathyayani of Avarsi, Shanta Durga of Ankola and Venkataramana of Ankola.
A few Nadavara families were trustees of multiple temples. A Nadavara family of
Bhavikeri all together dealt with five temples, including Venkataramana and
Shantadurga temples of Ankola since the eighteenth century. Still after Vijayanagara,
during the Gersappa, Sonda and Keladi regimes, temples had income from the land that
they owned. The temples of all sizes ranging from the famous Mahabaleshwara of
Gokarna to small local Shantika Parameshwari of Ulavare paid dividends to
Mokteshwaras. The Nadavara hegemony of temples declined during the British
occupation of Uttara Kannada. Till the end of nineteenth century many of the Nadavara
families shared revenues generated from numerous temples in Malenad and Konkan
regions of Uttara Kannada. In the mid nineteenth century, the Colonial rulers created the
Revenue Department and introduced their own taxation guidelines on the land held by

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temples. The Revenue Department snatched much of the clout of Mokteshwaras, which
financially affected certain families. Nadavaras had to discount the gold invested in
many temples of Uttara Kannada. Till 1930s, many Nadavara families unofficially
received small perks from temples. After 1950, the privately held temples became public
institutions.

Prior to the British Raj, for centuries temples were instrumental in fostering the religious
integrity of a kingdom, which in return secured the kingdom. However, the ulterior
motive of kings behind building temples was predominantly for promoting land
development and sequentially to boost the revenue for the state. Generally, rulers
selectively invested on the construction of new temples in worthwhile locations where
they can gain the most popularity and also add to the stream of revenue from land rent.
The deciding factors were intensity of demand for a new temple and availability of
cultivatable land to support new establishments of temple devotees. The fervent
devotees suggested their choice of divinity, Vishnu, Shiva or any other divine spirit. The
ruler of the land granted the necessary cultivable terrain for them. It was the
responsibility of the temple administrator who was usually appointed by the ruler to
distribute the farm land among the devotees of the temple. The tenants or cultivators of
land usually lived around the temple. They owed predetermined “Umbali” (land rent)
to their temple. A parallel concept existed in Christianity since the fourth century
launching of Roman Catholic Churches in Europe. The property owned by a church was
called Parish and the land belonging to Church was distributed to the Christians living
around the church. Pastor, an administrator of the church was the appointed chief of the
Parish. The Mokteshwara who largely controlled the temple financials was equivalent of
a pastor of a parish. A Mokteshwara was an appointed official and not essentially a
devotee of the temple. Yet he was the foremost participant in the temple festivities. That
is how Nadavaras even though Vaishnavas became the worshippers of Shiva and Shakti
temples.

Nadavaras idolized fallen heroes (Bera) and women of virtue (Sati) who belonged to their
own lineage. Even though the Hindu trinity, Brahma, Vishnu and Ishwara were not the
gods of Jainism, the Jains faithfully cherished the Hindu trinity. Hinduism and Jainism
came closer since the Emperor Asoka started the large-scale propaganda of Buddhism in
the third century BC. The gods and rituals of Jains are somewhat different from that of
Hinduism. The goal in Jainism is to attain enlightenment and eventually to reach Moksha
which is according to Jains is relief from the mortal world including the cycle of
reincarnation. Jains worship Tirtankaras to guide them after the worldly obligation to
the ultimate place of Moksha. Unlike Hindu religion the Jainism didn’t give importance
to the worldly bondage. Many Jain dynasties and kings who were materially ambitious

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drew up on Hindu gods to beg for mortal needs such as longevity, reproduction and
prosperity. Nadavaras possibly in the past regularly visited Jain Basadis and also often
called on Vaishnava temples. The concern for Virashaiva kings of Keladi and Sonda they
gradually accepted Hinduism. The unexpected vacuum created by the absence of
Basadis was replaced by the Bera temples. A family member’s passing away was
mourned in Bera temples. In a way it was their way of imploring to Bera to take care of
the demised family member. Over the course of time, the Basadis of Uttara Kannada
crumbled and Bera temples gained eminence in the Nadavara spiritual living.

The Bera shrines were built in unique places usually up on high hilltops or next to rivers.
Ashwatha, India pine, Mandara, Asoka and fig trees, were planted around the shrines.
Many of the shrines were reestablished near the Nadavara new settlements in Konkan.
The statue of Gudi Honnappa was relocated from Sonda to Hittalmakki. A carved granite
Bera-sthamba (hero pillar), with the inscriptions of Bera’s life achievements is usually
seen in front of the shrine. Inside the temple a statue of Bera, typically sitting on a horse
in martial posture is mounted on a platform. Usually the shrines carry copper plates
inscribed in Prakrit, which are read by the Jain monks on special auspicious occasions.
Brahmins only worshipped gods. They didn’t worship idolized humans even including
the descents of god, Rama and Krishna. Nadavaras appointed the artisans such as potters
and carpenters to perform the shrine rituals. Jain monks often visited Nadavara families.
They were accepted like family members. Nadavara families in Hiregutti, Kagal and
Talageri built small Basadis next to their homes to accommodate the visiting monks. Till
the end of the nineteenth century, Nadavaras occasionally visited, Adinatha,
Parshwanatha and Mahavira Basadis. Adi Purana, the epic narrating the life of Adinath
was one of the sacred books of Nadavaras. Now even the old Bera Shrines are being
commercialized ignoring their historical values. Even a few fake shrines have boomed
especially on roadsides to collect small funds from the gullible travelers.

The Nadavara homes had miniature temples built in the front yard close to their quarters.
The family temple was solely intended for the family’s private services. The temple
architecture was a hybrid drawn from the blend of northern and southern Indian
designs. The proportions of the temple were rigidly standardized. It was erected on a
three-foot high by ten-foot square platform. Four six-foot tall pillars with beveled edges
were built from the four corners that supported the tiled roof, steeply slanted on all four
sides like a gazebo. The temple did not have walls because of the warm climatic
conditions of the Southern India. The pillared architecture of the mini temple was purist
in style, like the ancient Jain Basadis of Rajputana. A flat sandstone pedestal was placed
almost in the center of the temple. A relief sculpture of the God Vishnu was kept on the
pedestal. On another slightly lowered pedestal in front of Vishnu, many petite red

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sandalwood (Chandan) icons symbolic of family ancestors were arranged in two rows.
Jain monks were invited for enshrining every single icon. Even a broken or missing icon
couldn’t be replaced by none other than Jain monks. The ritual of idol enshrining by the
Jain monks poses questions, “Who were those family ancestors common to the entire
Nadavara community? Why the Jain monks performed the rituals to set up the little
wooden icons?” The wooden icons possibly symbolized Jainism (Tirthankaras?) and the
statue of Vishnu might be a later addition when Nadavaras became Hindus. In front of
the temple women created Rangoli which was symmetrical graphic patterns with white
and colored rice, flour and sand. The head of the household or the oldest man in the
family took care of the morning prayers. Prior to dinner in the evenings, the family
members gathered in the temple and sang hymns. Hindu priests never performed any
rituals in the mini temples. Still there are many homes in the Nadavara villages maintain
family temples with great sense of pride and dignity. Nadavaras because of the family
temple seldom visited Hindu temples but they attended temple festivities. The family
temple was vital for conserving the family integrity.

Down the extended migratory stretch, surviving quite a few crusades and passing
through assorted ethnicities, Nadavaras continually adapted to the changing
environments and in the process, many of their customs were tainted and a few even
disappeared. Haridana (Charity from the God), the ethnic convention packed with
extreme euphoria is missing from their list of traditional festivities almost for a century.
Haridana was an arcane affair which was neither a religious ceremony nor tribute to any
of the past historical events. Haridana was a social gathering of all the men and women
living across the burrow of Nadavaras. It's likely scenario that Haridana was drawn from
the “Common Meal” concept practiced by warriors in the past. The early Scythians in
India practiced the common meal tradition and at the ceremony attendees relished on
horse meat. Krishna Devaraya hosted the common meals for the noble households and
the entourage of the imperial court on special festive occasions. During Mahanavami in
the month of October, he hosted the common meal to the entire city of Vijayanagara.
Thousands of buffalos and sheep were slaughtered to follow through the ritual of fire
sacrifice. The founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak to build unity among Sikh soldiers
started common meal known as Prashad in a Sikh temple, Gurudwara in Pakistan. Most
Gurudwaras in the world follow the common meal rituals. The earliest known
establishment of the common meal, “Phiditia” was celebrated by the stable dinner clubs
in Greece over two millenniums ago. Like the ancient Greek states, Phiditia was
egalitarian or democratic in both spirit and practice.

Haridana, a unique religious event was celebrated exclusively by the Nadavras of Uttara
Kannada. The motive behind the festivity remains vague. Why this event was limited to

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Nadavaras? Was there any compelling purpose behind it? It was organized by one or
two families of the hosting village. Nadavaras from all villages came to observe the
festivity. The congregation of Haridana usually lasted for three to five days in the months
of January and February. It was an annual event and larger villages such as Torke,
Hiregutti, Bhavikeri, Hannehalli, Maskeri, Bole, Shetgeri and Surve took turns in hosting
Haridana. The Kawari and Nag-Nayaka families of Torke hosted eighteen Haridanas in
the nineteenth century in Hoskattu adjacent to the back waters of the Aghanashini River.
The effort and capital invested in organizing Haridana was far beyond any other
celebration. Many temporary shelters were built to accommodate the people from the
neighboring villages. The famous Hindu epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata were read
and rehearsed by the experts. A huge fire resembling campfire was lit every night during
Haridana. It was the tradition of Haridana to invite one thousand and one Nadavaras.
Dancing girls and comedians were brought to provide entertainment. The dietary menu
was strictly limited to traditional vegetarian dishes. Open meetings on community’s
disciplinary bylaws were held and the village heads or leaders were the main
participants. The village leaders always promoted the old-fashioned statutes.
Nonetheless, many of the community’s regulations were outdated and many were
legally flawed. Non-representation of any village was subject to criticism.

What was the real gist behind Haridana when Nadavaras were no longer warriors? Why
certain Nadavara families invested so much of capital just for the congregation of the
community? The motive behind Haridana isn’t clearly understood. The Kawari and Nag-
Nayaka families hosting eighteen Haridanas might have been somewhat of a hyperbole
but certainly they together arranged multiple Haridanas. In the beginning of the
twentieth century, the frequency of Haridana declined and the last ones were hosted by
Bhavikeri and Maskeri Gaonkar families in 1917 and 1919 respectively. The festivity
became fiscally straining even to the prominent families in villages to the extent they
borrowed money to flex their monetary muscle before the congregation. Haridana in
Nadavara jargon became synonym for a bad business deal. Nevertheless, Haridana did
not serve any real purpose other than the arrogant pretension of the host families. So, it
was, the days of magnanimity and hospitality of Haridana came to an end leaving behind
the momentous memories of the past as the Nadavara family income dwindled.

The insignia resembling Swastika was used by many civilizations around the world for
the past three millenniums to represent the sun, god, life, potency and might. The word
Swastika was made up of two Sanskrit words, “Su” for higher and “Vasatika” for
subsistence; Swastika means higher being or god. It’s not known when the word
Swastika was initially coined by the Indians. The aerial view of Sanchi Stupa, which
consists of four gateways built at right angles to each other looks like Swastika but did

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not illustrate any kind of important meaning to Buddhists like Asoka Chakra (wheel of
Asoka). In the third century BC, Asoka Chakra was the emblem of the Buddhism. The
wheel of Asoka with twenty-four spokes signified twenty-four facets of virtue. In the first
century BC, the virtue of Swastika was upheld as the spiritual icon by Sakas. The
archeological survey around the Caspian Sea, the oldest settlement of Sakas, found one
of the earliest monuments of Swastika carvings of the fifth century BC. The monuments
were also found in the territories of the ancient Scythian settlements, including the
present Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan. Swastika to the Scythians of the
central Asia signified their guardian god, the Sun. In the second century AD, the Indo-
Scythians of Saurashtra who belonged to Surya Vamsa (solar lineage) made Swastika
popular in India. It became a holy icon and was no longer a sign of gild around a place
of worship.

Swastika was always in the center of Nadavara religious rituals. Swastika for the recent
Nadavaras was a sacred symbol, which deterred evil spirit from entering their homes. In
the past Nadavaras being Jains spiritually the concept of Swastiuka might be different.
Nadavara ceremonies began after making a figure of Swastika in rice and at times in
colored rice. In the baby naming ceremony held on the twelfth day after birth, a swastika
figure was drawn with red colored rice in a rice filled bamboo basket and the official
name along with five additional unofficial names given to the baby were inscribed in rice
beneath the swastika sign. Perhaps swastika was linked with the origin of life. The pillars
and doors of their homes had carved Swastika figures. On the wall, above the treasured
wooden chest in the dark room where valuables were kept, Swastika was painted.
Swastika was drawn in front of their homes every morning before the sunrise. During
the recent historical past when they started eating meat, even the pots used for cooking
vegetarian food were marked with Swastika. The sign of the sun god, Swastika was the
mark of protection, like “Holy Cross” to the Christians. With the passage of time the gist
behind Swastika was forgotten but Nadavaras trustingly continued to revere the sacred
Swastika.

Ashwatha tree is sacred to Hindus, Jains and Budhis and their perceptions of the tree are
similar. The religiousness, with which Nadavaras worshiped the tree, possibly didn’t
change after their conversion to Hinduism from Jainism. The tree in Vedas was symbolic
of the Kshatriya vigor among many other things. It was common to spot an enormous
old Ashwatha or Banyan tree standing in a ditch in the middle of a large masonry
platform (Katti) near an old Nadavara home. The platform was built for meetings and
gatherings. Trees have played vital roles in various civilizations, and have gained a
sacred place in many cultures. Ashwatha Tree, which belongs to the family of the
deciduous Ficus plant, is native of the southern Asia. The Upanishads, mythology of

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India, refers to the Ashvatha tree as “Kalpavriksha”, meaning the tree that rewards
desires. In hot sun, people made use of its shade for their assorted activities. Under the
tree yogis meditated, villagers held meetings, and merchants traded grain and cattle. The
tree was highly revered and protected because of its utility. During ancient times for the
noble Kshatriyas horse was more than a loyal companion. Soldiers riding horses
embarked on a raid rampage halted to regroup and assess their war strategies under a
large Ashwatha tree. That’s how the name of the tree Ashwatha meaning “shelter for
horses” was derived. The tree was regarded to be the cosmic link between the Earth and
Heaven that conveyed the wishes of humans to the supernatural beings of the heaven.

Nadavaras planted Ashwatha trees in many places, next to temples, near homes and
even on cremation grounds. Their belief was that Yaksha, the subordinate of Heaven
lived on Ashwatha tree and conveyed their messages to the heavenly bodies. When away
from home on an expedition, they worshipped the Ashwatha tree as a prayer to protect
their family that they left behind. The children circled the tree seven times as a symbolic
prayer to bless them with a courageous life and vigor. The married women prayed to
Ashwatha which was also known as the wish tree for the long life of their husbands. In
Nadavara villages, almost every religious function was carried on only after
worshipping an Ashwatha tree. It was a compulsory ritual to burn a piece of Ashwatha
tree bark in Nadavara Homa (fire sacrifice). Occasionally Nadavaras buried gold and
silver coins under the Ashwatha Katti and to prevent thieves from stealing spread
around creepy gullible stories of evil ghosts or poltergeist living on the tree. The scary
stories were linked the spirit of Yaksha, the king of Nature who punished immorality.
The Ashwatha tree signified family ancestry and felling of the tree was forbidden. Lately
many trees have been chopped down to make place for other projects. A live Ashwatha
tree planted in Torke, Uttar Kannada, is said to be two hundred years old.

Diwali, the festival of lights is the most popular celebration among Hindus and Jains.
The festivity is observed for three days as a tribute to Lord Krishna for his victory over a
demon from the hell. The festival is a symbolic staging of the moral values set by the
ancient Hindu epic, Mahabharata. Christians and Jews present similar stories with their
own versions of festival of lights during Christmas and Hanukkah. Dassara was also a
main festival for Nadavaras. During the Dasara festival, they worshipped a treasured
old sword and the Hindu epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata. For the Nadavaras living
in Konkan the sword symbolized ancestry. They hero-worshipped Rama and Krishna,
the divine personalities of the Hindu epics. Ram Navami and Krishna Ashtami, the
birthdays of Rama and Krishna were celebrated in elaborate fashions. They celebrated
Ananat Chaturdashi, a festival dedicated to Vishnu and his wife Laxmi with an ecstatic

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convention. Ganesh Chaturti was added much later, perhaps in the beginning of
twentieth century to their list of festivals.

Nadavaras celebrated Kartika Mahotsava with great fervor in the Hindu lunar month of
Marghasheesh (Nov-Dec). The festivity lasted for nine days starting from Saptami
(seventh day after the no moon night) to Poornima (full moon night). It was a major
festival in Hampi. Krishna Devaraya, the Tuluwa emperor of Vijayanagara was a loyal
devotee of Lord Krishna. He added new gist to the celebration of Kartika Mahotsava by
changing it into the festival of lights. The city of Vijayanagara was fully illuminated with
lamps as a gesture of “welcoming the spirit of Lord Krishna.” The king of Vijayanagara,
Virupaksharaya gave grants to the ruler of South Konkan, Salwa Vittana in 1404 even
before the time of Krishna Devaraya. The earliest Kartika was celebrated during the
Hindu calender month of Margashirsha in Araga, then the capital of the southern part of
South Konkan that extended from the River Kali to to River Gangavali. In Ankola, the
Venkataramana Temple was the nucleus of the Kartika celebration. Nadavaras during
the festival fasted from dusk to dawn for nine days and had a meal before the sunset.
Fasting in Kartika was one of the carryovers from the Jain rituals of the past. On the last
night of celebration known as Rathostava, many temples of Ankola participated in the
festivity highlighted by the procession of devotees. The dedicated replicas of the
participating temples were carried on Palanquins to Vana, a country park then owned
by the Kanabera Temple of Bhavikeri. Three-mile long procession to the park was
accompanied by musical bands and fireworks. Little oil lamps were lit all around the
park. People of divorce traditions assembled in the park for seeking the divine blessings.
On the last day the participating temples jointly served a common dinner to the devotees.

Roughly around the end of the nineteenth century, the Venkataramana Temple
Mokteshwaras from Soorve, Shatgeri, and Bhavikeri were split on managing the temple
earnings. Sharing of Kanabera funds especially earned from the Kartika festival was the
main reason for the disagreement. The park was moved from the grounds of Kanabera
to a new recreational corner in Baleguli. The Kanabera Temple launched its own Kartika
festival celebrated a month after Kartika in Ankola. In Bhavikeri, Kanabera, Kote
Narasihma and Iswara temples participated in the newly festival of Bhavikeri. Kartika
festival in both Ankola and Bhavikeri are still celebrated but the duration of festivity is
condensed to three days. The diverse ethnicities of Ankola have been coming together to
feast under the full moon light of Marghasheesha for at least two centuries. The Kartika
celebration in Ankola perhaps was introduced probably much after the fall of
Vijayanagara but when the actual observance in Ankola began is not known. The old
Vijayanagara tradition of Kartika lingers on in selected towns of Karnataka, including
Gokarna, Bilagi, Kumta, Majali and Chandavara in Uttara Kannada.

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Bandi-Habba (wheel festival), held in the month of May in Ankola, Uttara Kannada is
recognized for its street fair. Bandi-Habba is not celebrated anywhere else other than in
some villages of Ankola and Kumta. In these villages Nadavara domicile is found to be
a common factor. Regardless, is Bandi-Habba connected to the Nadavara past? How and
when did Bandi-Habba begin in Ankola? Was it after the institution of the Shantadurga
temple in Ankola? The lack of credible data only leads to speculation. Bandi-Habba
possibly began in the eighteenth century, towards the end of the Sonda Dynasty. The
Bandi-Habba of Ankola is historically linked to the Shantadurga temple. It is the most
famed carnival in Ankola attended by a huge jamboree of street-party goers. It is
observed in the honor of the Sati of Bole and her warrior husband (Bera) of Adlur.

The invocation of the dead spirits of Sati and her husband, Bera for divine reunion of
their souls is the central theme behind the Bandi-Habba (Festival) of Ankola. According
to the original delineation of the rituals, the spirit of Sati is brought from Bole to meet the
spirit of her husband, Bera in Ankola. The festivity is celebrated for nine days in the
month of May. Masquerades are held after dusk for the first eight days of the festivity.
The associates of the Shanatadurga Temple, usually men belonging to a particular sect
recite distinctive carnival dance performances. The dance rituals are believed to invoke
the divine spirit of Bera and bring the spirit down to the earth. The ninth day is the
distinctive day, the finale of the carnival. A Nadavara man from Adlur, who is
supposedly the descendant of the Bera sits on an antiquated Ferris wheel (Bandi) that
takes him around a few times. The man from Adlur is the symbolic representation of the
soul of Bera. The elevated Ferris wheel symbolizes the floating clouds carrying the soul
of Bera. The iconic presentation of the spirit of Sati, Kalasha, which is a medium sized
copper pot filled with holy water and capped with a coconut wrapped in mango leaves,
is brought from Bole to meet Bera. According to the legend, a Nadavara woman of Bole
sacrificed her life by self-immolation (Sahagamana) after the death of her husband. The
story behind the Ankola Bandi-Habba may be mythological and may not be factual as
the pertaining description is out of sync. Nevertheless, the rituals of Bandi-Habba may
explain the Nadavara relation to the Salvas of Konkan.

Bandi-Habbas of the surrounding Nadavara villages follow the Bandi-Habba of Ankola.


The Bandi-Habba of Kogre on the hilltop at the Bommayya Temple is very old and the
most eye-catching carnival of all. The Festivity is devotedly sponsored by the
surrounding villages. It is observed for nine days in the month of May. The riveting
scenery of sunset displaying the radiant orange sun slowly moving down in the pink sky
and the ruby red clouds reflecting off the Arabian Sea makes the Kogre festivity an event
to remember. Bhavikeri, Hichgad, Vandige, Devarbavi and Mogta are a few among many

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villages celebrating Bandi-Habba. The festivities are mostly accommodated on different


dates in summer such that two village Bandi-Habbas wouldn’t overlap. Nadavaras in
the past were vegetarians. Bandi-Habba for Nadavaras used to be a memorial day, a day
to eulogize their ancestors. The tradition of every Bandi-Habba is based on its own
unique tale but the rituals are comparable and all of them conclude with animal sacrifice
followed by carnival feast. The carnival feast for Nadavaras is little over hundred years
old. Majority of the Nadavara families host the feast of Bandi-Habba, featuring chicken
curry prepared in coconut milk and guests are invited from the neighboring villages.

The study of the Vedas and Upanishads solely belonged in the realm of Brahmanism.
Nadavara, a non-Brahmin community wasn’t adequately educated in the intricacies of
the religious philosophies like Brahmins. Nadavaras were Jains in the past and then later
on became Hindus. They worshiped Vishnu and also were devotees of Bera, the temple
signifying ancestry. Two distinct philosophies arising from two different godly
institutions, Hinduism and Jainism obviously made Nadavara a pluralistic community.
As the defenders of dominion, Nadavaras invested more energy and time on protecting
their homeland than on religion. Religious communion was more of a gathering of
delight and promotion of unity. The festivals such as Kartika, Dasara, Rama Navami,
and Krishna Ashtami were celebrated collectively with relatives and friends. The
Nadavara festivities favored the communal accord above religion, which nonetheless
was the subject of pursuit for the priesthood. The contemporary families don’t invest
enough time on theological teachings or discussions. Their viewpoint on the ‘divinity of
religion’ or ‘belief in god’ is increasingly leaning toward agnosticism.

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Living Style of The Past

The Nadavara history of thirteen centuries was like a rollercoaster ride that brusquely
swung up and down. However, their mental bench was set for nothing but autonomy.
The stressful situations faced by the Nadavara warriors of the past will never be fully
understood. The combative profession made them gutsy and alert. The possibilities of
failure seldom crossed their mind, but they were always cautious of their surroundings.
Their living sanctuaries were alertly guarded. Strangers were refused as a protocol of
security. Like a sentry on duty, impulsively, the first thought that downed on mind was
“friend or enemy”. They constantly pondered on the next course of confrontation and at
the same time, were engrossed in defending their families from the probable enemy
attack. Their attitude, feelings and emotions emerging from the generations of martial
lifestyle developed into a distinct Kshatriya community with detached personality. All
along the history, many events associated with them indicate their well-organized
retaliation against injustice. From ancient times Nadavaras were moderately literate and
never failed to tell the stories of Hindu epics to their children. Ramayana and
Mahabharata, which are composed of bunch of stories of legendary Kshatriya royal
families, repetitively reflect on carrying out justified personal vendettas against the
wrong doers. The main characters of the mythical epics, Rama and Krishna, who
rationalized vengeance against the evil doings, were their role models.

The notion of revenge for Nadavaras was perhaps a mode of seeking justice against the
harm inflicted on them or on their community. Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626), an English
philosopher said, “Revenge is a kind of wild justice.” However, hatred and bitterness
associated with the vindictive attitude caused more harm than good. The unrelenting
rivalry with Virashaivas because of the murder of Bijjala, covert support for Haidar Ali
against the Keladi rulers, devoted participation in Satyagraha after being suppressed by
the English are some of the examples of revenge seeking retaliations of Nadavaras. There

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was no statute of limitation for the offense inflicted on them. One of the things that they
left behind with their children was their unfulfilled revenge. It was fairly unusual to
carry along the responsibility of revenge for such a long stretch of time through many
generations. The very trait of vengeance made them Kshatriyas, the seekers of
sovereignty in the past. Even though, “revenge is punishing wrong doers,” sounds like
a fallacy, it was an accepted concept of justice as recently as the repressive rule of the
British in India. Still many backward countries practice vengeance based justice system.
The eccentric Kshatriya attitude of seeking retribution was fairly common among
Rajputs and Jats of the northern India. In the Gandhian world vengeance sheds negative
perspective. Gandhi once said, “eye for eye leaves you blind.” But paradoxically
Nadavaras became the followers of Gandhi in the twentieth century.

A bunch of men getting together at a shrine in the evenings was a common incident in
Nadavara villages. The village shrine complex was the social center that provided sense
of unity and comfort. The Nadavara men and women went to the family shrines to pray
and at difficult times even to complain. Occasionally shouted and cried to express their
anger at Bera for not taking good care of them. Perhaps it was their way of overcoming
emotional distress. They were emotionally bonded to that granite statue erected inside
the shrine. The shrine served the psychotherapeutic needs during depression. They
always connected the village shrine to their ancestry. In Nadavara homes, even now the
oral history of their lineage is conveyed to the young children. The village meetings were
held in a shrine. Group-thinking, similar to brainstorming was commonly exercised at
the meetings. In group-thinking everyone involved was a thinker, everyone was a
problem solver, and everyone had his own opinion. Usually the opinion of the majority
approved by the leader of the meeting became the verdict. Adolescent boys were invited
to the meetings for training them to be independent thinkers, but adolescent girls were
left out. Even education and marriages of children were decided after going through the
group-thinking process. The participation in Salt Satyagraha was unanimously
determined at the meeting of Nadavaras held in a shrine at Soorve. The group-thinking
organizational model was essential to arrive at good decisions and also to avoid major
disparity within the community. The process was effective in promoting collective
consciousness and communal cohesiveness. It might have been one of the main reasons
why such a small community preserved its heritage for such a long time. The group
thinking at times led to differences within the community.

Since ancient times the joint family structure was the established living style in India.
Even though now it’s not in vogue, in some parts of India it is still being practiced, but is
gradually receding. Nadavaras for many centuries lived in joint families; old parents,
adult sons and their families resided under one roof. Among Nadavaras, even though

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joint family was commonly practiced domestic organization, separation between


brothers was not so infrequent. Daughters did not have equal rights over the
inheritance of properties like sons but still had special privileges over their ancestral
property. Daughters were entitled to participate in resolving family differences, usually
among sons and even parents. A typical ancient Nadavara joint family home was two
storied with thick stonewalls and wooden ceilings supported by carved pillars. It had a
large living area with a room for ladies and a kitchen on either side. Behind the living
room they had a dark room surrounded by small rooms. The dark room was used as the
treasury where they kept money and gold in a sturdy wooden chest. The Garuda Kamba
(Giant-eagle pillar), about three feet high and six-inch square stone post with an abstract
eagle carving on the top was erected next to the wooden chest. The Garuda Kamba was
believed to be the protector of the family and its treasures. The post was worshiped on
religious occasions. The faith in the Giant-eagle might be a tradition inherited from the
times of Rashtrakutas.

The oldest man was the head or patriarch of a family. All decisions ranging from the
matrimonial matchmaking to travel plans were made with the consent of the family
head. He was also responsible for educating the young children. Adults read religious
epics and taught alphabets at home to young children. The grown-up sons tried to share
family responsibilities equally. Often the uneven contributions of the family members
led to disputes. It was the responsibility of the patriarch to resolve disputes. The women
cooked food for the entire family. Grandmothers in the evenings told stories carrying
moral and spiritual messages. They lived in isolated small villages with none other than
trusted relatives. The ancient habitation set up reflects on the protective measures used
in planning settlements. They huddled in groups in strategically secluded areas to
protect themselves from a probable enemy invasion or danger. The joint family
organization and arrangement of a village were symbolic of unity. All the relatives lived
in close proximities in a village like one extended family. The villages were well planned
to create harmonious relationship between the nature, religion and safe living. The
villages were shaped in circular or oval geometric patterns for the purpose of security.
An Ashwatha tree standing on raised podium by the fringes marked the entrance to the
village.

The community within itself had a strong sense of camaraderie but beyond the
communal boundaries it responded with cautious mind-set. Strangely, even in Konkan,
Nadavaras stuck to their old monotonous routine of living in isolated groups. The
subordinate communities dependent on Nadavaras were scattered on the fringes of the
villages. If a stranger walked into the village, they interrogated his intentions and
detained until receiving a proper answer from him. Prior to the beginning of the

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twentieth century people other than Nadavaras were afraid of visiting Nadavara
villages. Similar modus operandi was in practice in many parts of the world, especially
among the cowboys of the America’s Wild West, till the end of the nineteenth century.
Nadavaras intentionally avoided living in busy centers such as marketplaces or near
temples. They donated lands and built temples at a relaxed distance from their villages
on the speculation that the human activities and population would grow around the
temples. The temples collected Moola Geni (land rent) from the people living on their
territories.

The Nadavara men and women in the past might have performed communal dances
even though dancing wasn’t their normal tradition. Queen Shantala, Salwa
Chennabhaira Devi and her sister were famous dancers. Nadavara men in the recent past
had shown noteworthy interest in Yakshgana dance renditions. Nrityashastra in Hindu
religion was the sole concern of Devadasis but Nadvaras being Jains, possibly Hindu
customs did not restrain their women from dancing. The traditions of music and dance
were deeply embedded in the fabric of ancient Jain culture. Vivid display of the ornate
carvings of the classical dance postures on the walls of the ancient Jain temples of
Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Karnataka were trendy during medieval times.
The girls were also trained in martial arts and were prepared for the battlefields. A
newborn female child was an asset and not a liability. Among Nadavaras, marriages of
girls before puberty were not common, but in the beginning of the twentieth century,
there were quite a few child-marriage incidences. Usually the child-marriages took place
between blood relatives. After a formal discussion with the other villagers, the head of
the joint family made the matrimonial decisions. “Varadakshina” to the groom and
“Stridhana” to bride were offered as gifts at the weddings but dowry, the mandatory
payment to the bridegroom’s family was not in vogue.

Sahagamana or Sati, the self-immolation by a widow on her husband’s funeral pyre, was
practiced all over India by the Hindu royalties and was prevalent among the Rajputs.
Absurdly after her death, she became Sati, a highly revered person in the community. It
is hard to believe that the self-immolation was voluntary. Sadly, it was an accepted
homicide of a young innocent woman. During the medieval period, only certain
significant Nadavara families to boost their importance in the society might have
practiced Sahagamana. But when such a gruesome system came to an end, is not known.
In Hampi, there were incidences of women committing Sati after the fall of Vijayanagara.
The Nadavara Sati stone of Vijayanagara that stood near Chandragutti till recently was
associated with a Nadavara family of Bargi. There are only a handful of genuine Sati
stones in Uttara Kannada. In the beginning of the twentieth century many new Sati
shrines mushroomed with alternative objectives.

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Even though polygamy was not a common custom, it repeatedly transpired in some
families and might have prevailed till the beginning of twentieth century. Nadavara
widows were not allowed to remarry within their own caste. If remarried outside the
caste, they were outcasted. The widows were put into a no-win situation. Sadly, young
widows remained unmarried, but they did not shave their heads like the widows of the
Brahmin castes. Ramakrishna Kawari of Torke, Uttara Kannada, in the late nineteenth
century appealed to the community for the remarriage of young Nadavara widows, but
ironically his young niece, who lost her husband at a very early age, remained
unmarried. In 1950s there were two incidences of young widows remarrying. Since then
the marriages of widows even though not common, it’s well accepted.

The legendary “Nadavara Woman” was the lifelong companion of her husband in every
aspect of his life. She fought wars for her husband; ruled the land after the death of her
husband; immolated herself in her husband’s funeral pyre; went to prison with her
husband for a patriotic cause and danced to the music of life to amuse her husband. She
was always there when he needed her. The Nadavara woman played the role of a curator
of the traditions. She was not shy in the public spotlight like the traditional Indian
woman. That was one of the contributing factors, which enabled the women such as,
Shantala, Chennabhairadevi, Honnamma and Savitri to claim their respected places in
history. In the past, how the Nadavara women might have soothed their men is reflected
in the temperament and ostentatious behavior of the present day Nadavara women.
Their ways of understanding, communicating and influencing their partners and make
them feel important are to some extent still ingrained in the contemporary living style.

The traditional clothing of India varied with the regional climatic conditions that
changed vastly from Kashmir to Kerala. Perhaps from the period between Rashtrakuta
and Vijayanagara, there might not be noticeable changes in the wardrobe of Nadavaras
who all along lived in the plateau of Karnataka. The humid rainy weather of Konkan
might have forced them to change their clothing style; also because of the declining
financial conditions, the accessory lifestyle was downsized. Nadavaras, especially the
women were fastidiously particular about their clothes and appearances. Nadavaras had
rich sense of culture defined by self-sufficiency, audacity, literacy, hospitality and art and
music of Yakshagana. Yet Nadvaras seemed uncivilized to the partially westernized
people living in the regional towns. It was the reflection of Nadavara old fashioned attire
and impure Kannada dialect. Till the first half of the twentieth century they dressed in
old-fashioned conservative attires of the eighteenth century. Perhaps the eighteenth-
century fashion was consciously attached to them like a security blanket that provided
the feelings of emotional relief. Still the Sheikhs wear turban and Arabian women cover

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their faces with Burqa (veil), even in the western countries without any feelings of
humiliation.

The costumes of Nadavara men and women before the turn of the twentieth century
demanded beyond their basic needs. Men wore Pagdi, a white turban that was made up
of a narrow fabric 15 feet long. On special occasions, such as weddings and festivals, they
dressed in white silk Pagdi with ornate borders. A gold colored lace was affixed to the
Pagdi as a mark of self-distinction of a privileged individual. Only a bridegroom wore a
red or saffron colored turban at his wedding. Wearing Pagdi was prevalent among
Nadavara men for centuries until the homogenization of the occidental fashions. In the
ancient times the turban was used to signify the status of a person in the society. The
Kshatriyas like Rajputs, Jats and Sikhs still wear turban. However, men laboring in the
fields wore a short headgear, Mundasa to protect the head from the sun.

Nadavara men draped their upper body with Choga. It was basically a fine white cotton
wrap, twelve feet long with thin-colored edges. They wore Choga since the remote past.
They dressed in Dhotara, which was equivalent of pair of pants, but Nadavara Dhotara
barely reached the knees like casual shorts. The carvings in the Bera shrines display men
on horses wearing petite Dotaras. The underwear, Kachi was tightly worn between the
legs and stuck into the front and back of Navla (silver waist belt). The word Navla was
derived from the Sanskrit word, Nabhila (navel). The boys didn’t wear Navla till they
reached adulthood. The Navla ceremony was observed when a boy reached adulthood.
Men wore golden necklace and earrings. The women made up their hair in one or two
long braids falling on the back. Adult women dressed in full Seeri (Sari) or Kapada, and
Choli (blouse) with short sleeves covering the breasts and shoulders. Unmarried young
woman wore Chuggi, a narrow long skirt and Ghagri, a multilayered long skirt that
extending down to their ankles. The upper clothing was Pyrahana or Angi (Polka
blouse), a medium sleeved shirt long enough to cover the navel. Nadavara women wore
mostly blue and green colored clothes. The women accumulated lots of gold jewelries
and they particularly loved head, neck, and ankle ornaments. Widows did not wear any
ornaments, but unlike a typical Hindu widow, did not wear red or white colored saris.
In the second half of the twentieth century the financial crises affected Nadavara clothing
fashion. The poor conditions stripped them out of their original style. During the
nonviolence movement, Mahatma Gandhi urged on public burning of the imported mill
made cloth and replacing with Khadi, the home spun and hand woven coarse fabric.
Almost for half a century, Nadavaras faithfully wore Khadi symbolizing patriotism.

Horses and horse-carts were the main modes of transportation of Nadavaras during the
medieval times. Later on, living in the Malenad region, they rode horses till the beginning

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of nineteenth century. The Nadavara shrines still have Kudari Kamba (horse pillar),
granite posts for tying down horses. The Nadavara shrines portraying the legends of
their ancestry display the carvings of their ancestors riding horses. The unrecorded tales
told by the Nadavara women were usually associated with a prince riding on a white
horse. “Horse eaters” was a derogatory nickname given to Nadavaras. Nadavara
colloquial phrase “tie one’s horse” was inferred to a person in hurry. Many metaphors
relating to horse, such as “pee like a horse” (lack of planning), “making face like a horse”
(in a bad mood), and “groom on a horse” (look elegant) used in Nadavara vernacular
suggest their intimacy to horses. After settling in Konkan, Nadavaras had to part from
their longtime friend. The maintenance of horses was hard in the monsoon climatic
conditions of Malenad and Konkan. The endemic horse-flu which was spread by ticks
and mosquitoes was a scourge to horses in Uttara Kannada.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, Nadavaras gave up warfare. Oxen, because
of its suitability to the damp climate and minimal maintenance, replaced their valued
longtime partner, horse in the beginning of the nineteenth century. The cattle became
instrumental in the agrarian economy. Every Nadavara home had bulls and bullock carts
in the nineteenth century. The possession of bulls and bullock carts was the measure of
a family’s wealth. At the end of the nineteenth century, Timmanna Nayak of Aversa who
was a wealthy man owned one hundred and one bullock carts. The bullock carts were
used extensively for the transportation of goods and people even after the introduction
of automobiles during the early decades of the twentieth century. The cart had two large
iron rimmed wooden wheels mounted on an axle and was pulled by two bullocks. The
cart rider sat in the front and steered the cart with ropes tied to the bulls and the
passengers sat in the back of the cart. On special days the family members took rides to
visit family friends and relatives on decorated carts with padded cushions. On the day
of Divali festival, they decorated and worshipped bulls and bullock carts. There was no
mention of worshiping horses in the past but the horse sculptures in the Bera temples
and carvings in other structures reveal their high regard for horses.

The Sanskrit epic, Raghuvamsa or also known as Kalidasa Ramayana was written by
Kalidasa in Brahmi script at the end of fourth century AD. It was rather different from
its precursor, Valmiki Ramayana written probably in the first century BC after the eras
of the famous Sanskrit grammarians, Panini and Patanjali. Ramacharitmanas, also
known as Tulsidas Ramayana, which was written in Old Hindi in the Awadhi script at
the end of the sixteenth century, is quite diverse from both of its predecessors.
Ramakrishna Kawari was well versed in all three versions of Ramayana and was a
passionate critique of the variations in the narratives of different authors. In the evenings,
he read Ramayana to the residents of Torke. By the end of nineteenth century Torke was

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captivated by Ramayana and Mahabharata. For the people of Torke, Rama was god and
Ramayana was yet another holy book. They tried to memorize verses of Ramayana and
sang them in the evenings in a monotone. Influenced by the recitals of Ramakrishna, his
young nephew, Gopal Kencha Naik (Gopal Master) developed curiosity and became a
connoisseur of the Hindu epics. He composed two Yakshagana dramas, Viratha Parva
(episode of Vrattha), and Seeta Swayonvara (Seeta’s nuptial). He was a locally well-
known Yakshagana recitalist and dramatist. Nadavara villages produced a few such
Yakshagana experts in the first half of the twentieth century. The epics of Ramayana and
Mahabharata epitomize human emotions, anger, joy, distress and love to address morals
as preached by the Vedic religions. Yakshagana plays are musical presentation mainly
of character, aspirations and morals held up by the Vedic epics.

Hawyaka Brahmins and Nadavaras were the main sponsors of the art of Yakshagana in
Uttara Kannada up till the first half of the twentieth century. The Sonda king,
Madhulinga Nayaka organized the earliest known recital of Ramayana in the
seventeenth century in Banavasi. It was staged after the renaissance of Madhukeshwara
Temple. Nadavaras were captivated by the Yakshagana plays. Yakshagana dance with
elaborate hand gestures, rhythmic leg movements and facial expressions is an artistic
story telling jazz rehearsed by a very small population of the western Karnataka. The
choreographic structures somewhat resemble that of Bharatanatya and Orissi. The
dancing is complemented by back stage storytelling and percussion music. Yakshagana
is an improvisational genre of dramas. Improvisation in Yaksahgana springs from
spontaneous acting and eloquent debating. The improvisation adds learned esthetics to
plays and favors ingenuity of artists. Certain actors because of their aptitude are devoted
to certain specific roles. In plays most of stage settings are focused on dialogues between
two characters. Since the conversations are fixated on specific events or characters,
generalities draw limited scope. The deliberations of storylines are conveyed in the form
of dialogue poetry by a backstage narrator (Bhagwata). As the audiences tend to live in
the moments of the story telling, they get drawn into the triangle of trilogy, poetry
reading, dancing and rhetoric. The audiences emotionally get involved as they begin to
draw parallel to their own lives. Perhaps the Kshatriya chronicles of Yakshagana brought
out repressed soldierly impulses in Nadavaras. Yakshagana was the source of
entertainment and was a topic of intellectual discussions at casual meetings. Around
Dasara and Divali festivities, Nadavara villages presented extensive plays in open
theatres that lasted over six hours. It was chosen source of entertainment.

Originally Yakshagana was composed in Telagu in the fifteenth century from the Hindu
epics written in Sanskrit. In Hampi, the Yakshagana, “Sugriva Vijayamu” written in
Telagu by Rudra Kavi was performed for Krishna Devaraya in the sixteenth century. The

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term Yakshagana possibly originated in Vijayanagara. In Vanaparva of Mahabharata,


Yaksha confronts Yudhishtira to answer 18 metaphysical questions which are asked in
the form of dramatic verse or poetry. After proper answers from Yudhishtira, Pandavas
successfully complete twelve years of exile in forest and one more year covert dwelling.
The word Yakshagana might have been derived from Mahabharata. Probably, the
soldiers of Vijayanagara who settled in the western Karnataka at the end of the sixteenth
century rehearsed Yakshagana in the region. For almost two hundred years the
Nadavara men wrote, directed, facilitated and performed in the Yakshagana plays. Now
the art of Yakshagana is commercialized and its creative artistry is headed towards
standardization. The sameness due to standardization limits the artist’s creativity to
advance the ancient art of oratory, dance and music.

The Nadavara transition from Jainism to Hinduism lasted for hundred and fifty years,
starting from the seventeenth century. During this period the community was split
between Hindu and Jain religions. The process of changing from one religious conviction
to the other might have caused some anxiety and disorganization. In early 1800s still
there were about 15% of the Nadavara families following the Jainism. The religious
divide didn’t outwardly disturb the community and still remained as one integral entity.
Nuptials among the two religious wings of the community were as usual. The main
difference was their food habit. Initially in Konkan the Nadavaras converted to Hindu
faith relished on fish and it took many years before they started eating chicken and
mutton. The Jain-Nadavaras were still vegetarians and when they visited their Hindu
relatives, obviously vegetarian food was prepared. In the early nineteenth century, a few
families in Torke were still vegetarians. Probably because of the dietary restraints within
the community, Nadavaras carried out “Hulasin Madki” (dirty pot) cookery routine
which was practiced well into the twentieth century. Nadavaras built second kitchen
detached from the home for cooking non-vegetarian food and used separate utensils,
which they called Hulsin Madki. Even after changing to non-vegetarian diet, they didn’t
accept the food prepared by none other than vegetarians, which narrowed down to Jains
of South Kanara, Havyakas and Virashaivas. Till the first quarter of the twentieth
century, eating in a non-vegetarian’s house was forbidden by the Nadavara community.

The community practiced its own antiquated moral codes, specifically focused on
marriage contracts, eating practices, sexual morality, occupation and source of income of
its members. Outcasting in the Nadavara community was relatively frequent. Even small
deviations from the communal guidelines such as working as a laborer in other’s farms,
begging in public, marrying into other castes, sexual relation of a woman out of her
wedlock and dining in a non-vegetarian’s house were subject to disciplinary actions and
at times breach of code of conduct resulted in outcasting. The Nadavara social limitations

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were derived from their ancestral unwritten codes of conduct. The innate codes to some
extent were partially practiced till 1950s. The dishonored men and women for certain
wrong doings were pardoned after a specified period of probation and were accepted
back into the caste. However, the inter-caste marriages were not forgiven. It was
Nadavara way of enforcing restriction on the community members to preserve their
heritage. Even after adopting Hinduism, they were worried of the community’s self-
diminishment. It was the minority complex extended from the earlier times in Uttara
Kannada when they were still Jains.

In 1920s a teenager was reprimanded for working as a waiter in a restaurant but a few
years later the teenager opened his own restaurant. In the early 1900s, a Gonehalli
woman for staying as a guest at a non-vegetarian family in Gokarna was thrown out of
the community. She committed suicide soon after, leaving behind a year-old daughter.
The baby girl was nurtured by the Gokarna family for a year before giving her away in
adoption to a childless couple from Dharwar while they were visiting the
Mahabaleshwara Temple in Gokarna. In early 1920s, a woman for having an extramarital
affair with a laborer working in her farm was outcasted and ironically after her divorce
she became the concubine of a Nadavara leader. Gati Sahib was outcasted in 1907 for
going abroad. These are just a few examples to distinguish the severity of chastisement
for naive slip-ups. For minor unconscious mistakes, the responses were unreasonably
blown up which led to outrageous ordeals. The community became hostage to its own
misused mandates. Such acute overreactions to natural human behaviors had damaging
effect on the community. The pattern of intense reaction was a blurred reflection of the
demeanor of their ancestral crusaders. In brief they were hung up on the self-
preservation of the Nadavara ethnicity.

The Untouchables or Dalits since the ancient times have occupied the lowest place in the
hierarchy of the Hindu caste system. Mahatma Gandhi took the first step on the road to
emancipation of Dalits from the clutches of caste system just by calling them Harijans
(people of god). India after adopting the new constitution in Jan 1950, special legislature
was put in place to uplift the social standing of Harijans. The Government of India was
partially successful in moderating the stigma of untouchable castes. About 16% of the
people in India are Harijans and still they are alienated from the rest of the population.
Before the India’s independence Dalits were considered to be unworthy of human rights
and were deprived of their human-hood. Torturing of Dalits was a wide spread malady
all across the country. They were not allowed inside Hindu temples and even in certain
exclusive places. Traditionally Dalits performed menial functions such as cleansing the
filth produced by the human habitation. During the medieval times, Dalits played an
accessory and catalytic role in warfare. They invigorated soldiers at the prewar rituals

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with euphoric drumbeats. Also, they gathered putrid remains of the dead soldiers from
the war fields. Dalits probably during wars served the soldiers of Vijayanagara. The
Nadavara attitude towards Dalits was empathetic.

The Dalit community of Agers currently living in Uttara Kannada came from Bellary,
Karnataka centuries ago. Apparently, Agers were the prisoners of war captured by
Bukka Raya after defeating Sultan of Madhurai in the fourteenth century. In
Vijayanagara they were forced into performing lowly jobs of Dalits. The Ager population
was 3630 as recorded by the 1961 census. In recent years a sizeable portion of the Ager
community was converted to Christianity by the local evangelists. In Konkan Nadavaras
kept close connection with Agers. For generations they were indentured laborers of
many Nadavara families. Nadavaras tried to protect Agers from the unkind social
treatments and atrocities; they gave them places to live and land to cultivate. Ager
marriages were arranged and were funded by their patron families. Brahmin priests did
not perform the Ager weddings. So, the non-Brahmin temple aids carried out their
wedding ceremonies. Agers played the role of mock-mourners at the Nadavara funerals
and still the mock mourner ritual subsists in some Nadavara villages. During the
medieval times the fake-mourners attended noble family funerals. The ritual is a residue
that was left behind from the times of Vijayanagara. Though the social bigotry kept a
tight lid on mingling with Dalits, Nadavaras interacted with Agers leniently. Perhaps
due to the Jain background, their attitude towards the Hindu caste system was somewhat
casual.

The Ager colonies even now are found in the outskirts of Nadavara villages. To mention
but a few villages Belekeri, Bhavikeri, Bole, Vandige, Hichagad, Shatgeri, Basgod and
Vasari, have reclusive Ager outposts. The Nadavara community to its credit played a
vital role in the welfare of Agers. The deprived situation made the indebted Agers
bonded laborers of the Nadavara families. The bonded labor is comparable to master and
slave relationship. In the nineteenth century, Nadavaras assigned Agers to the
maintenance of the grounds surrounding the local Temples, ignoring many objections.
However, they were not allowed inside the temples. Agers felt privileged just to gain
entry into the temple complexes. The assignment to the unexpected projects led to
positive interactions between Agers and the other communities and in turn improved
their interpersonal relations. Agers were not allowed inside the Nadavara homes and
remained as untouchables until the mid-Twentieth century. For the past half a century
Nadavaras have been hiring Ager maids to work in their houses. The influence of the
Gandhian philosophy had helped to unwind the prejudice against the Harijan castes.

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Most Indians were influenced by the gravitas of the Gandhian principles, which even
reflected on the politics of governance and the constitution of India. “The legislators”,
Gandhi said, “are the servants of the people and should earn the wages just enough to
meet their basic needs.” After the Independence of India, the new blood of politicians,
intoxicated by the legislative clout and attracted by the lifestyle of the elites, were
blindfolded from the Gandhi’s preaching. India turned out to be one of the most corrupt
countries in the world. But to the credit of the Nadavara community, a few politicians
who became legislators stubbornly fought against corruption. While the country was
totally drenched in surging tide of corruption, they were hard-pressed against
demoralizing environment but never deviated from their principles. The community
openly disapproved the corruptive practices of some government employees of its own.
A few Nadavara enthusiasts who were involved in the political affairs were actively
absorbed in social work and at times were overzealous but due to the lack of cooperation
from societal establishments their aspirations were not rewarded. Nadavara is a cheerful,
cooperative, affectionate, independent, and sympathetic community. Their hospitality
was unmatched. Guests arriving at the Nadavara homes were cared with great respect
and awareness and before their departure, were presented with small containers of
sweets usually filled with coconut squares and rice rounds.

The Kalachuri families (Salwa) living in the southern Maharashtra and the northern
Karnataka migrated to Uttara Kannada in the twelfth century and at the end of the
fourteenth century they moved to Vijayanagara from Uttara Kannada. The Salwa
Dynasty of Vijayanagara belonged to the Nadavaras of Uttara Kannada; Salwa
Narasihma Devaraya and his two sons, Timma Bhupa and Narasihmaraya II, ruled
Vijayanagara for twenty years (1485- 1505 AD). The Tuluvas (Bants) from Dakshina
Kannada joined the Vijayanagara cavalry in the fifteenth century and ruled Vijayanagara,
in the Sixteenth century (1505- 1543 AD). In Vijayanagara, possibly both clans, Nadavara
of Uttara Kannada and Bant of Dakshina Kannada became a single flock of celebrated
warriors. The Salwa and Tuluva factions living in such close quarters of Hampi
obviously had established cordial relations and might have even led to marriages
between them. Yet the matrimonial relations did not continue after Vijayanagara.

During the medieval times Nadavara and Bant communities belonged to a single sect, is
the belief of some historians. The Bunt community of Dakshina Kannada and the
Nadavara community of Uttara Kannada are alike in many ways. Apparent parallels can
be drawn between the two communities concerning their historic background, social
behavior, food habits and traditions. According to the Gazeteer of 1883, the Jains of North
Kanara (Jain-Nadavara) intermarried with the Jains of South Kanara. However,
marriages between Nadavaras and Bunts were uncommon as the matrilineal property

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inheritance of Bants did not agree with the patriarchal social system of Nadavaras.
Moreover, the Nadavaras of Uttara Kannada were vegetarians prior to their migration
to Konkan. The arrogance of the Nadavaras of the nineteenth century may also to be
blamed for the demeanor of detachment between the two communities. Nonetheless,
minor cultural differences kept them apart. The Bunt community is much larger than
Nadavara of Uttara Kannada. Both communities have shown cordial concerns towards
each other, perhaps for a reason from the remote past.

The 1901 census that was compiled by Riseley, Ibbetson and Nesfield, included the
ethnographic survey of 11645 Hindu castes. The survey was based on discretely outlined
27-point checklist. The status quo information gathered under the checklist produced
subjective results. The census of 1931 consolidated the castes of India into 2800 castes.
Nadavara and Bunt communities were two separate but similar castes under the agrarian
category. The census was not thorough enough to reflect on historical background
beyond the 1881 census data. The Bant or Tulu Nadavar communities of Udupi and
Dakshina Kannada and the Nadavaras in Ankola and Kumta, Uttara Kannada lived for
centuries, like two discretely separate communities. If Nadavaras and Bants belonged to
the same sect, why did they split into two separate branches? Or were they always two
separate groups with similar profession and lifestyle? Why did they speak two different
languages? Even the Kannada speaking Bants of Udupi don’t have the same dialect as of
Nadavaras. The customs of two somewhat similar Kshatriya castes viewed through the
prism of British observers perhaps blurred the subtle distinction that existed between
them. The historic link between Nadavaras and Bants is ambivalent under the present
pretext. Their close connection in Vijayanagara might have led historians to link the two
sects. In the eighteenth century, a few Jain families of Udupi merged with the Nadavaras
of Uttara Kannada, but such evidences are not sufficient to arrive at any conclusion. An
exploratory research of the two communities would be essential to support any kind of
existing belief. It is possible that Nadavaras might be an eclectic mix of a few Kshatriya
clans as they were historically on a relentless crusader like move. However, the cross-
cultural friendship of Nadavara and Bant sects may mutually reinforce their footings in
the region. There is a small humble sect of people in Ankola called Upa Nadavaru (Uppa
Nadavaru) which is not associated with Nadavara or Bunt communities. The ethnicity
and ancestry of Upa Nadavaru are very different from that of Nadavara or Bunt
communities. Since the Marriages among these sects are literally nonexistent.

A brief experiment of litmus test instantly determines acidity or alkalinity of a chemical


solution but the slow changing dynamic systems such as society and culture are hard to
portray on limited data or status quo observations. “Buddhists are vegetarians; Hindus
worship snakes” are fallacies based on limited or biased data. Buddhists of Southeast

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Asia are mostly non-vegetarians. Based on a few Naga (serpent) worshiping Hindu sects,
generalizing Hindus as the snake worshippers is misleading. “The Nadavaras were
militants, moneylenders and once matrilineal people” were biased conclusions based on
inadequate data and vague assumptions. Being Kshatriyas, they might have formed
militia to oppose the alien rulers. Probably they lent money to their farm workers. In the
sixteenth century, a few families associated with the Gersappa Queen followed the
matrilineal traditions. Many such arguable details of Nadavara history were originated
from partial or inconclusive records. According to some, the end of nineteenth century
census documented during Colonial India on Nadavara or Jain-Nadavara community of
Uttara Kannada is dotted with errors. The reason may be because of the exiled existence
in Malenad continued by the defensively isolated communal living in Konkan, the
Nadavara community always remained enigmatic in the region. The Nadavara past
assorted with peaks and valleys is hard to believe without questioning whether really
they were the Rashtrakutas of Manyakheta, Kalachuris of Kalyan or the Salwas of
Vijayanagara.” China’s last emperor of the Qing Dynasty, Pu Yi was totally forgotten
after the 1912 Xinhai revolution prior to the 1949 victory of Communist Party. In 1963,
the young guards did not know of Pu Yi, then the aged gardener visiting the Forbidden
City to see the famous golden throne that once he occupied as the boy king of China.
Many events of the Nadavara history that occurred before the 19th century are nearly
forgotten.

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Ancient Nadavara Marriages

Raj Gaonkar

The concept of lineology was widely accepted to avoid marriages between close relatives.
Since the ancient times, the inbreeding or breeding with blood relatives was known to
have genetically damaging consequences on offspring and future generations. In the
patrilineal society, at birth an individual becomes part of the father's line of descent. The
matrilineal system considers the ancestry from the female string or mother’s lineage.
Majority of the people in India are unilineal; they belong to either the patrilineal or
matrilineal system. Even though the Nadavara sect was patrilineal, the process of
matchmaking considered the lineology of both sides, father’s line (Daiwadi), the
mother’s line (Bali). Perhaps the application of dual constraints of lineology in
matchmaking helped to prevent inbreeding and also made it difficult to find a mate in a
small community. Bali system was borrowed probably in the eighteenth century from
the communities residing in Konkan. They forbade marriages between Daivadis and
were also somewhat alarmed by their Balis. It vindicates the fact that the early Nadavaras
were exogamous. However, the rules dictating the exogamy among Ndavaras had
exceptions; one could marry the daughter of a paternal aunt or a maternal uncle, Nuptials
involving first cousins are unacceptable in the western countries.

In the ancient epic of Mahabharata, Queen Pramila supposedly ruled Nari Rajya
(kingdom of women), the present-day Nagaland. The subjects of Nari Rajya belonged to
the matrilineal society. The Kalachuri queen of Gersappa, Chennabhairadevi in the
sixteenth century adopted matrilineal system. Supposedly since then Balis are used by
many non-Brahmin castes in Uttara Kannada, Udupi and Dakshina Kannada. Among
Nadavaras, matrilineal marriage arrangement was secondary to their accustomed
patrilineal custom. The Bali system did not play any major role other than prohibiting a
few marriages between distant cousins, but did not stop them from marrying their first
cousins. Sixteen Balis originating from 16 ancestral alpha-women were in vogue among
Nadavaras. The Nadavaras of present (Generations X and Y) aren’t aware or ignore the

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Bali system. The structure of Balis is still well intact among other castes such as, Hawlakki
Gauda and Mogweera.

In the eleventh and twelfth centuries, Nadavara allegiance was split between the
Kalachuri and Hoysala kingdoms. The expatriates of Rashtrakuta clan were loyal to the
Hoysala dynasty. Both groups might have faced problems in matrimonial matchmaking
due to the limited options in choosing brides and grooms. Biased divide between the
sects was seemingly ignored to overcome the constraints in matchmaking. The religious
rituals practiced by the Nadavaras since the times of Vijayanagara indicate that possibly
the two factions were united during the Vijayanagara Empire, and also upon their arrival
in Malenadu after the fall of Vijayanagara, Nadavaras belonged to one homogeneous
group. In Uttara Kannada Nadavaras were habitual conservatives. The conservative
mind-set is usually drawn from the preservation of affluence and privileged status. In
the twentieth century, abruptly declining financial conditions tainted their conservative
stance. Even then marrying outside the Nadavara community was absolutely forbidden
until the mid-twentieth century. The matchmaking, in addition to the union of two
young people, took into consideration the compatibility of the two involved families. The
unity of the families and their relatives was a major issue.

Around the end of the nineteenth century, Nadavara wedding traditions were quite
different compared to their present customs. They carried forward the quaint traditions
of the regal family weddings. The symbolic wedding rituals were cherry picked from
both Hinduism and Jainism. The marriage celebration lasted for five days and even for
seven days. For the first three days in the evenings, both the wedding parties carried out
Homas (fire-sacrifice) at their dwellings separately. On the first day of Homa the bride’s
relatives visited the groom and applied Chandan (red sandalwood) paste on groom’s
fore head. The ritual meant to keep the groom safe from any evil spirit. The fire was
placed in Agnikonda (fire ditch), a specially dug trench beneath a high thatched roof,
built for the occasion. During Homa the priests chanted and poured Ghee (purified
butter) into the fire and the attendees released barks of Ashwatha tree in the ditch. The
ritual played an important role in strengthening the bonds of alliance among relatives
and friends. In the past, when feudalism was still prevalent, it was difficult for warriors
to survive without friendship and team spirit.

Any kind of text on rituals and routines of ancestral Nadavara weddings was hard to
find. The narration from an old retired school teacher who gathered the oral history of
Nadavara clan from her elders became resourceful in presenting the ancient wedding
rituals. Yet the wedding routines described might have been practiced by a few elite
Nadavara families and wasn’t of an average Nadavara wedding. On the eve of the

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wedding, five relatives from the groom’s side visited the bride with flowers and clothes,
and especially a head ornament that would be worn by her at the wedding ceremony.
The bride wore red sari and flowers around braided hair. After a formal dinner at the
bride’s place the guests departed. The visit from the groom’s party might be a last-minute
meeting regarding the wedding preparations. This tradition conceptually was similar to
the rehearsal dinner of the Western weddings. The bride’s family assumed most of the
wedding preparations and expenses. Usually the bride with elaborate costumes and
ornaments is the center of a wedding ceremony but in the ancient Nadavara weddings
the groom was the focal point of the celebration.

Oath taking ceremony fell on the fourth day of the wedding. Eight professionally trained
palanquin bearers belonging to the Boyer sect carried the groom, wearing a saffron or
red turban, in a specially decorated palanquin. The groom’s wedding party procession
began with friends and family members along with a carpenter, blacksmith, potter,
barber, goldsmith, and washer-man. His brothers and cousins were the assigned escorts
for the occasion. Two Kumbaras (potters) were the assigned torch bearers and carried
day light torches on either side of the palanquin. In the olden times, a day light torch was
held only for royalty or noble person as an expression of rendering respect. But in the
nineteenth century Nadavaras weren’t royalty at all. Instead they were suspiciously
scrutinized by the colonialism. Possibly such wedding rituals had trickled down from
the opulent era of Vijaynagara. The porters carrying fruits and clothes in bamboo baskets
and Vajantris (music group) stayed ahead of the procession. The band consisted of five
musical instruments (Pancha Vadya). The groom’s procession was received by the
bride’s brothers. The bride’s sister greeted the groom with the Vedic worshipping
gestures (Aarti). The bride’s sister greeted the groom with the Vedic worshipping
gestures (Aarti).

The wedding rituals had unique meanings. Bride wore the head ornament presented to
her by the groom’s family. Significance of the eye-catching head ornament is unclear.
Was it used to distinguish bride from the wedding flock? The bride’s maternal uncle and
his wife played a major role in the wedding ceremony. The uncle escorted his niece to
the podium. The bride in an attempt to show her made up pretty face pretentiously stood
facing the family temple with a beguiling smile. The Jain monks sitting on the podium
witnessed the wedding ceremony. The bride and groom stood up during the ceremony.
The end of bride’s sari was tied to the groom’s scarf hanging down from his shoulders
by the bride’s sister. The tied knot was symbolic of the fact that they were united by the
marriage. Then the main ritual, the couple exchanged garlands. The groom with the help
of someone tied “Mangala Sutra”, a necklace strung with black beads and gold seed
beads around the bride’s neck. Black bead necklace around a woman’s neck signified

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that she was a married woman. The ritual of exchanging garlands symbolized mutual
faithfulness. The wedding ceremony was carried out with bride and groom standing up
except for briefly sitting in front of the holy fire with the Hindu priest.

A wedding brings people closer together and at times it also amplifies differences. The
Jain monks after the garland exchange ritual, held a meeting in the family temple with
the parents to bridge the differences, if any between the two wedding parties. The
celebration ended with the wedding feast followed by entertainment. Dance
performances by Devadasis and amusement by professional comedians were the most
awaited events of the function. Attendees made fun of the newlywed couple. After the
wedding ceremony the bridegroom went back home with the bride seated next to him in
the palanquin. If the groom’s residence was far away, his family and friends camped near
the bride’s place just for the occasion. The safety of the newlywed couple was of a major
concern. The brothers and cousins of the bride escorted the newlywed couple to the
groom’s quarters and they returned on the fifth day of the wedding after a big feast at
the groom’s place. As the Nadavara financial conditions deteriorated, the wedding
ceremony was viewed as a scandalous waste of money. They started cutting corners but
still a Nadavara wedding is an enjoyable event filled with lots of fun and frolic. The
wedding prayers (Mantra) wished the bride a long prolific married life with many
children. The restraint of monogamy was imposed on the bride even after her husband’s
death. The statute of the Nadavara matrimonial wasn’t democratic.

Why did Jain monks witness and endorse the wedding while the Hindu priests
performed the ceremony? It can be perceived as conflict of religious interests or
reinforcement of multi-religious beliefs. As the Vaishnava Kshatrtriyas founded the Jain
religion, there might not be a distinct separation between the two beliefs, Hinduism and
Jainism. The twenty-fourth Tirthankara (Jain Saint) of Jainism, Mahavir, who was by
birth a Vaishnava Kshatriya prince, preached non-violence even before the conception of
Buddhism. With the influence of the prevalent Hindu trend, gradually Nadavaras
leaned more towards Vaishnavism, and their ancestral Jain heritage vanished little by
little. Nadavaras were ethnically different from other communities around them. The
homogenization of cultures has brought the Nadavara customs closer to the local cultural
norm. Still residues from the rituals of the past can be noticed in Nadavara weddings.

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What’s Next?

The Kalachuri and Rashtrakuta convoys began their sustained march in the seventh
century from Ujjain and Manpur in the Malwa region. Two separate expeditions of two
assertive warrior groups embarked on their journey with high expectations. Kalachuris
journeyed south to protect Jainism and Rashtrakutas drifted to build a nation of their
own. In the seventh century the Rashtrakutas of Achalpur (Elichpur) who were related
to the Rashtrakuta dynasty of Manpur became feudatories of Badami Chalukyas.
Around the same time a bunch of Kalachuris migrated from Mahishmati, Madhya
Pradesh to Thane, Maharashtra. Both sects had sprinkled matrimonial relations since the
time of Rashtrakutas of Manyakheta, Karnataka but they maintained separate identities
till they migrated to Malenadu in the sixteenth century. En-route to their present
settlement in Ankola and Kumta, Karnataka, they dwelt in many places in Rajasthan,
Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka. The contemporary thirty thousand
Nadavaras of Uttara Kannada are the offspring of relatively small clusters of Rashtrakuta
and Kalachuri families who followed Jainism. Nadavaras of Uttara Kannada, for many
centuries conserved their traditions of the Jain ethnicity. Their last war was concluded
at Rakkasa-Tangadi against Bahamani Sultans. The ripples of unfulfilled war of
Vijayanagara led them to many smaller battles including the active participation in the
campaign for the independence of India that left them exhausted of all the resources.

The greater part of the Nadavara community was converted to Hinduism from Jainism
by the second half of the eighteenth century. During that period, the Nadavara
communal identity was a mixture of Jain and Hindu religions and still they lived as a
closely related clan ignoring religious denominations. The recognition of common
orthodoxy of belonging to the Nadavara fraternity led them to subjective thinking. The
people around them called Nadavara a caste whereas for Nadavaras it was a collection
of related families independent of any kind of religious philosophy. Many times, the holy
faith based rituals were bent to oblige the communal needs. They always believed in
communal synergy or in other words, for Nadavaras the camaraderie within the tightly

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knit community was very important and any achievement of an individual was regarded
as the advancement of Nadavara community at large. That made them altruistically loyal
to their community and in turn they became resilient to face hardships under severe
conditions. They were rulers and soldiers for all but the last two centuries and, during
that period the British reform forced them to change their occupation to agriculture. In
the first half of the twentieth century many of them became teachers and educators and
in turn the teachers helped to raise the education level of the succeeding generations.
Along the enormous journey, through many generations, the compact ethnicity of
Nadvaras stayed united to protect and conserve their legacy. The momentum that carried
them through ups and downs from medieval times to now will not cease abruptly. Where
will they subsequently reposition their next enterprise?

In the past, because Nadavaras were warriors, they lived in constant danger and faced
frequent perils. It was one of the reasons why they did not flourish in number like other
non-warrior castes of India. Since the early 1800s, due to the British authoritarianism
and also declining economic conditions, they mellowed and became humbler, but still,
their standoffish way of life kept them aloof to some extent from the rest of the society.
Compared to the communities living in urban areas, especially Saraswatas, the progress
of Nadavaras was below satisfactory. The unyielding stance that they took towards the
British Raj held them back at least for a century. In a democratic country where the caste
based, or sectarian local governments constitute the future of people, a small sect to stand
on its own is a challenging proposal. Particularly in the case of Nadavaras, their
instinctive insular attitude would restrict them to limited scope in the current fast-
growing economy. The Parsi community (Zoroastrians) can be a good role model for
Nadavaras. Certain Nadavara traits such as communal conservation, unity and integrity
are comparable to that of Parsis. Nadavaras, for the last four centuries, were restrained
in mountainous Uttara Kannada by their adversaries such as Adil Shah, Keladi kings,
Mysore Sultanates and English rulers, whereas Parsis living in Maharashtra compliantly
served the kings and rulers since their settlement in Thane in the ninth century.
Culturally innocuous Parsi community was able to freely associate with Shilahara,
Chalukya, Yadava, Portuguese, Maratha and English rulers on cordial grounds. In
contrast, the aggressive warrior sect of Nadavaras frequently had to play “hide and seek
game” with the rivals. Parsis were always helpful to the people around them. They gave
importance to cross communal interactions besides the conservation of the Parsi
community. All along, the Parsi community cooperatively partnered with the people of
India, regardless of their creed, caste or religion. In 2005, Parsis with a population of
80,000 had excelled in almost every enviable domain including education, business and
sports.

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India’s rapid urbanization process acutely affected the customs and practices of
conservative way of life. The younger generation of Nadavaras became more congenial
and sociable. Conservation of the ethnic traditions was still an issue for the older
generations. In 1950s Nadavaras did not marry people from other castes. Yet there were
isolated events of inter-caste marriages followed by life threats to the couples involved
in the inter-caste marriages. Lately, marriages with other castes and religions among the
Nadavara youths are rampantly increasing. In early 1970s, an old retired man prior to
saying good bye to his eligible unmarried nephew who was leaving for the U.S,
expressed his view on inter-caste marriage, “Nadavara is a small caste. If Nadavara boys
and girls keep on marrying into other castes, the Nadavara ethnicity in due course will
disappear. I am not against other castes, but we need to conserve our traditions.”
Nadavaras for many centuries conserved their ethnicity with great concern for their
ancestry. Settlement in Konkan changed the living conditions which in turn radically
transformed their style of living. From Jainism they converted to Hinduism; they gave
up martial profession and became farmers; they started eating fish and meat and lately
eased the restrictions on inter-communal marriages. The rise in the rate of the Nadavara
inter-communal marriages is an obvious corollary of the democratization process, which
stepped up after India gained independence from the British.

Nadavaras all along valued their ethnicity and tried hard to conserve its customs. The
changing environment accompanied by escalating modernization made it difficult to
uphold the ancient traditions. It would be incorrect to assume that the present day
Nadvaras had the culture identical to that of their ancestors and for the same reason the
cultural and moral frameworks of the future generations would naturally change with
time. A few old-fashioned conservative Nadavaras, who cherish their heritage with a
modest self-esteem, fear that the community may lose its identity in the near future.
Thinking beyond the preservation of heritage, virtues of other traditions may further
expand the horizon of the Nadavara outlook. The "pre-logical thinking" made Nadavaras
to honor their ethnicity even before patriotism and the patriotism of Nadavaras was
largely sprung from the innate anxiety of protecting their clan. However, the
ethnocentrism is not enough when the globalization is sweeping the world to unite the
entire humanity; even the awareness of nationalism is fading.

The primary school in Torke was built in 1850 by the Kavari family. The English medium
middle school in Bankikodla, Uttara Kannada was built in 1884 by the Chitrapur
Saraswatas. Edward High School, now known as Jai Hind High School was built in 1905
by the British rulers. In 1950s Mr. Dinakar Desai, a highly revered politician and
philanthropist built Peoples Multipurpose High School in Ankola and in 1966 he built
Gokhale Centenary Arts and Science College. From the end of the nineteenth century

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Nadavara boys and girls received primary school education predominantly from the
school in Torke. They sought high school education in Bankikodla and Ankola high
schools. Hundred years ago, the Saraswata community perhaps had the best education
background in Uttara Kannada. The Saraswatas of Bankikodla became role model
particularly to the Nadavaras of Hanehalli. Nadavaras in the second half of the twentieth
century started following the entrepreneurial culture of Goud Sarswata Brahmins living
in Ankola and Kumta. Mr. Dinakar Desai helped more than any other person to promote
education in Uttara Kannada. More than any other social group in Uttara Kannada,
Nadavara community took advantage of the facilities provided by the educational
institutions founded by Dinakar Desai. Nadavaras slowly switched from farming to
education and business.

Advances in technology continue to blur national borders. The globalization trend


induced by the “Internet Age” virtually has shrunk the world into a much smaller planet.
The advanced countries are collectively fostering a global platform of technology and are
employing the trained cheap labor readily available in the emerging countries. The
progression of globalization can be visualized as “Work-In-Progress” (WIP) on an
enormous scale. The players of tomorrow are aggressively planning their involvement
in the globalization process. Since the late 1990s, India has benefitted from “Offshore
Outsourcing” which is contracting out business processes to the offshore operations
centers for minimizing expenses. Many American multinational firms have outsourced
their business processes to the operation centers such as Infosys, Tata Consulting and
Wipro in India. Consequently, the escalating unemployment in the US has made offshore
outsourcing a political issue. According to the CRS Report presented to the US Congress,
10% of the jobs lost since 2001 was due to offshore outsourcing. The lawmakers in the US
are trying to assist workers who lost jobs because of the offshore outsourcing. The
implications may lead to restrictions on jobs going overseas, which might have
ramifications on the operations centers in India.

The Indian operations centers at present are caught up in ancillary roles of the foreign
conglomerates. The creative work in technology and R&D are performed outside India.
If India sustains the present unprecedented 7-8% growth in the GDP, its aspirations to
compete with the technologically advanced nations will soon be realized. The next step
for India is to promote and upgrade indigenous technological knowhow that would
enable India to design and develop its own breakthrough technologies. The current trend
of Nadavara youngsters is towards studying medicine, engineering and computer
science. And many have sought opportunities in the software servicing industry.
Attractive job opportunities in the outsourced operations centers or IT companies may
be considered as an intermediary step to reach the higher playing fields guided by their

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interest and aptitude. Like their ancestors the energetic Nadavara youths are eager to
launch raid rampage but of different nature, hunting for opportunities in globalization.

It is vital to recognize the ongoing changes in the contemporary society, especially the
continuing impact of microprocessors on social activities at large. The western countries,
in particular the U.S have pushed information technology in time much faster than any
other modernization. The disorderly knowledge base built over time is organized and
deliberated by essentially using information technology for improving process
efficiency. Information technology which is relentlessly rising to higher patterns of
sophistication has accelerated globalization process almost in every field. There is always
a delay associated in conveying new technology to the remote rural regions of the third
world. The universal standards are rather different from the local values of a small town
in India. Nevertheless, the relaxed rural people of India are anxious to learn the
revolutionary ideologies of globalization. Within the last five decades, Nadavaras in
small towns of Uttara Kannada launched old-fashioned labor-intensive ventures on
small scales; built resorts appealing to westerners; farmed export quality shrimps;
manufactured building materials and installed organic saltpans. Lately their interest is
leaning towards less labor-intensive ventures such as tutoring, computer software and
banking services. However, processing and distribution of services or commodities
needs to be equipped with the modern interactive methods tied to modern information
technology.

At the end of the twentieth century, due to the Year 2000 problem also known as Y2K
problem, the demand for the computer programmers of all levels spiked but the supply
of trained human resources lagged significantly. Just like the “Gold Rush of Sacramento
Valley” in 1849, even young policemen and primary school teachers after going through
quick training in “end user programming” courses in Indian cities rushed to the North
American Continent to perform clerical jobs. The U.S and European conglomerates
thrived on cheap labor. The human resources recruiting companies in India such as
Infosys and Wipro made out even better with the armies of COBOL programmers. The
demand for Y2K jobs ended abruptly in year 2000 but left an impulse among the youths
of India to learn computer programming. Presently Indian universities produce more
computer science graduates than any other country in the world. Like any other frontier
of the past the information technology will stabilize and create an oversupply of trained
human resources.

Pablo Picasso, the famous French artist said, “Every child is an artist, the problem is
staying an artist when he grows up.” It’s the sense of duty of parents to guide children
through childhood into adolescence and beyond. The problem arises when the parents

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are not motivated or engaged enough to understand the ability of children. Since
majority of Nadavaras are at least moderately educated, there shouldn’t be any kind of
setback in bringing up children to confront the challenges they face and to attain their
full potential. Apart from the Indian education system, it is an essential obligation of the
parents to understand the next global frontier and accordingly educate and prepare their
children. And concurrently the self-interest of a child can’t be disregarded. The demand
for the health-related sciences which continually try to maximize the human life
expectancy is always on a rise. Now the global warming and greenhouse effect have
become a real threat and getting worse with the hyperbolic growth in the global
population. In order to surmount the confines of human physiology and constraints of
the human anatomy, possibly in the near future there will be robots which may surpass
certain human performances. Intuitive Surgical Inc which makes robotic surgeon
assistants enables a surgeon sitting in his office to perform a surgery anywhere in the
world with the help of remotely controlled robot. Many Biopharmaceuticals are engaged
in the genetic engineering researches to find effective medicines for human ailments. The
problem of today is tomorrow’s endeavor. The current global conundrums point at
robotics, genetic engineering and green energy engineering to be in demand for the
foreseeable future.

During the seventeenth century Nadavaras living in Malenadu faced frequent


circumstantial letdowns. They had the desire for establishing a new sovereignty but
lacked much needed strategy and sizable squad. Out of frustration they tried to back the
kings of Sonda and Keladi Nayakas. Later on, during the rule of Mysore Sultanate and
proceeding occupation of the Colonial rulers they became hopeless, which left them
totally paralyzed from having any future goal. Around the end of eighteenth century the
scattered Nadavaras converged to form a secured settlement on the banks of
Aghanashini and Ganagavali rivers in South Konkan. They replaced horses with bullock
carts and became farmers. Since the mid twentieth century once again Nadavaras are
relocating to remote places leaving behind the old guards to hold their villages. Many
Nadavara villages were huddled in pristine forests of Sahyadri where people lived very
close to the nature until the mid-twentieth century.

The welcoming quaint farming villages lately look desolated with barren old houses. The
peaceful living style of the farming villages was influenced by the worthless
modernization. The new constructions, which in many cases were funded by the younger
generations living outside the villages, contributed greatly to the setback of the quaint
charm of rustic landscapes. The farmers once living in rural areas had four meals a day.
Early in the morning for breakfast they usually had fermented rice dishes, Dosa and Idli.
Around 11 AM they came home from farms for ‘congee meal’. They ate rice congee with

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vegetable soup which was intended to bridge the lengthy gap between breakfast and
lunch. The late morning congee provided instant energy to the farmers toiling in the
fields. They had late lunch around 3 PM after returning from the farms. Over the years
the eating routine changed along with their lifestyle. However, their traditional culinary
recipes are even now pretty much the same. They still relish coconut fish curry, spinach-
shrimp soup, green mango sauce and yogurt with rice. Even the families that have spread
out beyond their villages, including those living in the U.S try to eat the traditional food.
No matter where they live, they resolutely adhere to their heritage. Like migrating birds,
they return to their villages in the summer to attend family functions and wedding
ceremonies. Flowing with the current of rapidly changing economy and technology, it is
rather plausible to be scattered all over the world and still not lose the awareness of their
heritage.

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References

Writings of Subject Matter experts:

1. Mrs. Seeta Narayan Gaonkar, Bhavikeri (1923- 2009): Rashtrakuta, Hoysala, Kalachuri,
Rulers of Kagal
2. Mrs. Seeta Gopal Gaonkar, Hubli: History of Hiregutti and Gokarna, Seemes of
Nadavara
3. Mr. Ramakrishna Kawari (1834- 1906): Nadavaras of 18th and 19th Centuries, Mysore
Sultanates
4. Mr. Ramachandra K. Naik (1886- 1969): Sonda Dynasty, Chennabhairadevi, Keladi
Nayakas,
5. Mr. Gopal K. Naik (1890- 1953): Nadavara Marriages of the Past, Yakshagana, Particulars
of Venkanna H Naik
6. Mr. SaPa Gaonkar (1887- 1872): Maritime Nadvaras, Ancient settlements of Nadavaras
in Karwar and Chendia
7. Mr. Prakash P. Gaonkar: Life of Venkanna H. Naik Gonnehalli, Nadavaras of Today
8. Mr. Tippanna Ramachandra Naik Malali: Kengala Parameshwari Temple
9. Shantaram N. Naik Hichgad: Salt Satyagraha of Ankola
10. Mr. Bommayya V. Gaonkar: Kalachuri Relation to Bhavikeri
11. Mr. Venkanna H Naik Gonnehalli (1879- 1929): Nadavara relation to Vijayanagara
12. Dr. Narayan R. Naik, Honavara: Nadavara Balis (Genealogy)
13. Dr. Ranjan N. Naik, Malvern, PA: History of Bankikodla and Hanehalli
14. Dr. G.H. Naik, Mysore: History of Ankola

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18. Ancient India, The Cambridge History of India 1922 edition

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19. The Indian Empire 1858- 1918 By H.H dodwell 1932 edition
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25. Dadabhai Naoroji – from economic nationalism to political nationalism By: MPRA
26. The Journey from Madras through the countries of Mysore, Kanara and Malabar, By:
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Trimurti, the God of Peace, Elephanta Caves, 6th Century AD


Built by the Kalachuri King of Mahishmati, Krishnaraja 550- 575 AD

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Shantala with Vishnuvardhana

NC
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