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Friday, 14 December 2012

The Voice of a Poet: Part II

Sri Moola Kanniye

On October 1st 1917, Nadikerianda Chinnappa wrote the Kodava thakk song Sri Moola Kanniye ('Primal Goddess'). He called this the Swadesha Priya Keerthana (literally 'Hymn of the love for self-rule') and the 'National Anthem'. This song is dedicated to the Goddess Kaveri, the patron of Kodagu and the Kodavas. One must note that this belonged to the pre-Independence age when the British Raj prevailed over the Indians who however wished to become sovereign.

This song was included in the 'Introduction' of the original version of the Pattole Palame that was released in 1924. However in the second and the third editions, that came out in 1975 and 1995, the poem was omitted. But in the fourth (2002) and fifth (2006) editions these omissions were noticed by the grandchildren of Chinnappa, who had been abroad those many years, and hence subsequently included. Chinnappa's family members and relatives sing this song as their daily prayer.

Renaissance Man

Although he was best-known for his compilation work, the Pattole Palame, he wrote originally in three languages: Kodava thakk, Kannada and English. Chinnappa was also a well-known Kodava thakk poet, his most famous poem being Sri Moola Kanniye ('The Primal Goddess'), which is popularly called the Kodava anthem. He also wrote a well-known poem in Kannada and it was titled Somagiri Devaru ('the God of Somagiri'). So he was not only a compiler and a translator but a poet and a singer as well.

He used to play different sports regularly at the Victoria Club in Virajpet. A very good bowler in the game of cricket, he was a member of the All Coorg XI cricket team. Beside being part of the Coorg XI cricket team and playing field hockey, he also played billiards and tennis at the Victoria Club. Many of the Europeans who frequented the Club would mutter under their breathe upon losing to him. One day Chinnappa lost his patience during a game of billiards and he broke the stick. This was seen as a very daring thing for a petty officer under the majesty's service to do before the European officers. (Ramachandrachar 11:1994)

He was also involved in establishing the Coorg Central Bank and the Coorg Education Fund. As a philanthropist he sponsored the education of many poor and orphaned children in Kodagu. Infact at any point of time during Chinnappa's employment in the police department there would be around 8-10 students sheltered in his Madikeri and Virajpet residences. Chinnappa funded the college education of Boverianda Muthanna from the neighbouring village, who had studied in Bangalore central college and gone on to Guindy college of engineering in Madras province. Later Chinnappa got his daughter Gangamma married to Muthanna. (Ramachandrachar 10:1994)

The Voice of the Poet

Between 1913 and 1920 Grierson, an Englishman, began the first Linguistic Survey of India. He wanted knowledgeable representatives of various Indian languages to translate a biblical parable into their language and to either sing a song or to narrate a story from their language. Needless to say Nadikerianda Chinnappa, who was well-versed in both English and Kodava thakk (besides Kannada), was chosen as the representative of the Kodava language.(Biddappa:20 1996) In 1922, after narrating the Kodava thakk rendering of the biblical parable 'Prodigal son', he sang his own composition, the poem titled The Coorg national anthem: Swadesi priya kirtane ('Patriot's hymn'). These gramophone recordings became part of the Linguistic Survey of India collection. (Ramachandrachar 7:1994)

A copy of these recordings were kept in the British Library's 'Sound Archives' in the Madras Museum. This was digitised recently and is with the University of Chicago. Kodava thakk is called Kodaga and it is wrongly identified as being a language of the erstwhile Madras province. The archives don't credit Chinnappa, they simply state that the narrator is unknown. His son, Subbayya, heard and recognised his voice upon hearing it in the Madras museum in the early 1970s.
Links to the audio files (of Chinnappa ajja's narration in Kodava thakk) digitised by the University of chicago:
1. Parable of the Prodigal son
2. Sri Moola Kanniye


Chinnappa had four sons and two daughters but among them his first three sons passed away, the surviving children were two daughters (Gangamma and Muththamma) and one son (Subbayya). He also had two step children, a boy and a girl (Aiyanna and Bojamma), the children of Nanjavva and his late elder brother Subbayya. Besides these five surviving children he also adopted his widowed sister Chinnavva's daughter Akkamma.

He got his only surviving son, who was a B.Ed. trained high school teacher, engaged to Neravanda Nanjappa's daughter Ponnamma, who was also high school teacher. But before the marriage was to happen he died of cancer, aged 56, in 1931, on 12th September, only a few months after his retirement from the police service.


The Pattole Palame was written using the Kannada script originally. Nadikerianda Chinnappa had begun translating the work into English in 1925 but he died in 1931, before he could complete it. This work is considered the main literature of the Kodava language. This book is also referred by the Kodava Hindus who seek to clarify ancient traditions. The 119th birth anniversary of Chinnappa was celebrated in 1994 jointly by the Karnataka Janapada (folk) association and the Yakshagana Academy.

Mittu Subbayya, his son, also wrote a lot, including poetry and drama. His son and daughter-in-law were both teachers, Mittu Subbayya was an Education Officer. Their daughter Nanjamma and Chinnappa's daughter Boverianda Gangamma's son, also called Chinnappa, cross-cousins, got married. Boverianda Chinnappa, an engineer with a degree from an Illinois university, and Nanjamma, a statistician who was a visiting fellow at Cambridge University in 1974, pursued their professions at Chennai, Kolkata and Canada. In the 1970s, Boverianda Chinnappa, Nanjamma's mother and Nanjamma began to copy out the Pattole Palome in longhand over almost three years.

While they were searching for copies of the original edition of the Pattole Palame, a ninety-year old farmer and self-taught folk artist, Bacharaniyanda Annaiah, responded to their advertisement. During his youth unable to afford the book he had copied out the entire text word by word under a kerosene lamp. This hardcover book he gifted to the Chinnappas. Nanjamma's parents assisted in translating and interpreting the text. In the second edition of ‘Pattole Palame” (or ‘Silken Lore’), published by the University of Mysore in 1975, the editor describes it as one of the earliest extensive collections of folklore from any Indian community.

After retirement the Chinnappas settled down in Bangalore in 1995 and began to realise his cherished dream. Finally in 2003, they completed the work and it has been published by Rupa & Co., New Delhi. That same year it was released in Madikeri (Mercara). This book has become the chief text for the Coorgs. Boverianda Nanjamma and Chinnappa have chalked out at least ten Kodagu-based projects for the future, including a directory of the Aine mane or ancestral homes, a lexicon of the Kodava language and a biography of the late Bacharaniyanda Annaiah, a self-taught folk artist. Presently they have been working on the ainemane project, this can be seen on the Ainmanes website. N. Ponnappa, the famous cartoonist, is Nadikerianda Chinnappa's grandson - the son of Subbayya and brother of Boverianda Nanjamma.


  • Biddappa, Major Puggera P. Nadikerianda Chinnappa (in Kodava thakk), Bangalore, 1996.
  • Chinnappa, N. Pattole Palame (in Kannada) 2006 [1924].
  • Nanjamma and Chinnappa, N. Pattole Palame (in English) 2006
  • Ramachandrachar, D. B. Nadikerianda Chinnappa (in Kannada), Bangalore, 1994.

Further Reading

See the Wikipedia article originally written by the author of this blog.


I would thank Nadikerianda Chinnappa's grandchildren Boverianda Nanjamma and Chinnappa for sharing this information with me.

The Voice of a Poet: Part I

-->by: Kushal Mucon (Mookonda Kushalappa)

Oral traditions had been associated with several ancient people; the Indo-Iranians, called 'Aryans', with the Vedas and the Tamils with the Sangam. These were initially oral but later they came to be written down in the literature of the region. Vyasa, the celebrated legendary poet compiled the hitherto oral classical Vedas and the Puranas into literary form. For this great contribution to Sanskrit literature he was known thereafter as Veda Vyasa. The Kodava poet Nadikerianda Chinnappa did something similar. He compiled the hymns and the chief ballads of the region of Kodagu into his magnum opus Pattole Palame.

Comparitively the medieval Palome associated with the Kodavas is more recent than these ancient classics. It mainly comprised of folk ballads and hymns sung on special occassions accompanied by dudis (small hand-held drums). The Palame is actually folk music, music that is transmitted orally, without known composers and as music of the peasants (in the present context the Kodava freeholders).

Kodava thakk (‘speech of the Kodavas’) developed a literature only in the early 20th century. There is nothing unusual about it, most languages of the world (including national languages like Finnish) have developed a literature very lately. Scholars like Hardas Appachcha Kavi and Nadikerianda Chinnappa wrote Kodava thakk in the Kannada script. Until then all literature in the district was in the Kannada and even in the Malayalam languages. The native astrologers, called the Kanniya, wrote natal charts of individuals in the Malayalam script. It is however unclear whether the language used to write in the Malayalam script was actually Kodava thakk or Malayalam.

The folk dances of Kodagu were performed as the Palame was sung sometimes. In southern parts of the Sub-continent, tradition has it that Mohini (a form of Vishnu) taught Bhasmasura (a demon who was killed when Mohini outwitted him) 18 different forms of dances, each of them in the imitation of an animal. For instance, in Sri Lanka the peacock dance (Mayura Wannama), the monkey dance (Hanuma Wannama) and the elephant dance (Gajaga Wannama) are a few of the forms of these 18 dances that are performed there. Likewise in Kodagu, the peacock dance (pili attu) and the deer dance (kombu attu) are the most well-known forms of these 18 dances. 

Sri Chinnappa 


The Nadikerianda family name originated from the words Nadi keri ('Central village') which incidentally is the name of a village in South Kodagu as well. The most notable legendary members of this clan were the brothers Nadikerianda Devayya and Kaaruvanna, the first was a folk ballad hero and a temple manager who was accursed by a powerful tantric and the second was his heroic brother who redeemed his spirit. They are considered to be the Kaarana or Kaarona (revered ancestors) of the clan. According to a family tree, drawn by Nadikerianda Chinnappa himself, the earliest ancestors of the clan were Nadikerianda Aiyanna and his wife Mayamma who lived around 1600 CE. This family tree was drawn up in 1918. (Ramachandrachar 4:1994)

Nadikerianda Chinnappa was born in 1875 in the village of Karada, Napoklu naad in Coorg (now Kodagu) to Kodava parents Nadikerianda Aiyanna (not to be mistaken for the early ancestor who had the same name) and Pattamada Ponnavva. They had eight children, four daughters and four sons; Chinnappa was the fifth eldest, he had two elder sisters, two elder brothers (Subbayya and Kaalappa), two younger sisters and one younger brother. His mother was an educated lady who knew horse-riding. (Ramachandrachar 5:1994)

Early Life

After matriculating in Mercara from the Central High School he did his F.A.(First Year Arts) from Mangalore. In college he was good at sports, especially in Hockey and Cricket, and in studies. He got married to his deceased brother Subbayya's widow, Nanjavva, in accordance to tradition, and worked as a teacher in Mercara Central High School.

In 1899 he joined the revenue department and became a Senebaayi (Shanbhog or Accountant). That year in September he wrote an English poem, 'My Position as Shanbog'. The following year he became a Revenue Inspector and in 1902 he joined the Coorg Regiment of the army as a JCO. Here he became the Subedar-Major. When the regiment was disbanded in 1904 he joined the Police Department, underwent training in Vellore and became a sub-Inspector in Kushalnagar. Thereafter he served in Napoklu, Srimangala and Virajpet for some five or six years each until he was made Prosecuting sub-Inspector and posted in Madikeri. Later he became a Prosecuting Inspector in Coorg.

He spent his leisure in travelling on horseback through the hills of Coorg. He got acquainted with several folk singers and thereafter he began to compile folk songs. By the year 1922 he had gathered enough material for his book, the Pattole Palame, and had completed it. The Palame was the general term for the Coorg folk songs. Beside this he also collected nearly 750 Kodava idioms and proverbs.

Pattole Palame

The Pattole Palame, a collection of Kodava folksongs and traditions compiled in the early 1900s by Nadikerianda Chinnappa, was first published in 1924. Some British officials who were interested in Indology(C. S. Sooter and C. Hilton Brown) had encouraged him and some prominent Kodavas (District Magistrate Rao Saheb (later Dewan Bahadur) Ketolira Changappa, Retd. Mysore Councillor Rao Bahadur Kodanda Maadayya and Retd. Assistant Commissioner Kodandera Kuttayya) reviewed his compilation (the Pattole Palome). C.S.Sooter, the then Commissioner of Coorg, got the British Government to publish it. Kullachanda Karumbayya was the proof examiner for the book.

The most important Kodava literature, it is said to be one of the earliest, if not the earliest, collection of the folklore of a community in an Indian language. Family histories, rituals and other records were scripted on palm leaves by astrologers. These ancient, scripted leaves called Pattole (patt - silk, ole - like) are still preserved at Kodava Aine manes. Palame was the name for the hereditary oral tradition of folk songs and ballads among the Coorgs. Nearly two thirds of the book consists of folksongs that were handed down orally through generations. Many of these songs are sung even today during marriage and death ceremonies, during Kodava festivals relating to the seasons and during festivals in honour of local deities and heroes. Traditionally known as Balo Pat, these songs are sung by four men who beat dudis (small, handheld, hourglass-shaped Coorg drums) as they sing. The songs have haunting melodies and evoke memories of times long past. Kodava folk dances are performed to the beat of many of these songs. The fourth edition of the Pattole Palame was published in 2002 by the Karnataka Kodava Sahitya Academy.

Bhagvathanda Patt

In 1929, Chinnappa's translation of the Bhagwat Gita into Kodava thakk, called Bhagvathanda Patt ('God's song'), got published. This was written in the style of the Balopattu (Palame songs) and in a simple manner which could be understood by common people as well.

The Genographic Project: Part II

Migratory route of a branch of people (R1a1) from the motherland of all the human race (Africa).

The Genographic Project: Part I

-->by: Kushal Mucon (Mookonda Kushalappa)

The Project

The National Geographic, IBM and the Waitt Family Foundation support the Genographic Project. It traces back the roots of the entire human race to South Central Africa around 50,000 years before period. These early people went on to populate the rest of the world outside the African continent, over several thousands of years
Human origins in Africa and the spread of the R1a1 branch
Birth of humans

In the continent of Africa was born the human race. Some 60,000 years before period, the humans numbered in hundreds. They moved out from the Rift valley, in Eastern Africa, to gradually populate the whole world. The Y-chromosome gene is passed on from father to son over generations. In very rare cases, random changes, called mutations, would occur in this gene. These (mutations) are in turn inherited from generation to generation without fail and serve as markers for genealogists to determine similar genes. It is again by means of these mutations that different human genes were identified.

Group of humans

R1a1, one such gene, is a marker which arose some 10,000 years ago. The ancestors of this gene's carriers moved into and settled down in Western Asia, Eastern Europe, Central Asia and North India in the ancient prehistoric past, ten thousand years ago. They are associated with an early people who probably rode on horseback and who spoke the Proto-Indo-European language, which gave rise to languages like Sanskrit, Persian, Latin and German. The largest concentration of people who carry this gene are found in South Asia, especially in North India, and in South East Europe, especially in Ukraine. Many warriors of the ancient world like the Indo Aryans and the Scythians carried this gene.

Certificate of Participation
Family Gene

R1a1 also happens to be my patrilineal gene. This means that my father, my paternal grandfather, my paternal great grandfather, also my father's brothers, my paternal cousin brothers (first, second, third or fourth), my father's paternal cousins, my father's paternal uncles, in fact all the men of the Mookonda family of Kodavas from Bilugunda village near the towns of Ammathi and Virajpet in Kodagu, carry this gene. 

Tracing Manu (Adam) 

My earliest genetic ancestor was M168 (the earliest man to have existent descendants, all men today; he was labelled M168 after the gene identifier by scientists) who lived 50,000 years ago and whose people used stone tools and knew cave painting art. Due to drought, he and his people, the ancestors of the Eurasians, moved out of their homeland and traveled north. They followed good weather and the animals that they hunted. Humans of this age became intelligent and knew the use of language.

Children of Manu
M168's descendant M89 (the ancestor of all ethnic non-Africans) is the next known genetic marker. He was born 45,000 years ago on Semi-arid grass plains and is the ancestor of 90-95 per cent of the non-Africans. His people, the Middle Eastern Clan, moved through the Middle East following herds of wild buffaloes and antelopes. They traveled through Iran into Central Asia. Humans numbered around a mere ten thousand. Some 40,000 years ago M9 was born among his descendants who moved eastward. Their march was blocked by the massive Himalaya Mountains to the Northwest of India. Here in the region called the Pamir knot the people split up and took different directions. A part of this Eurasian clan moved north into the Central Asian Steppes in what is today Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Southern Siberia.

Here some 35,000 years before period was born M45, the next distinct marker. Over the ages rainfall reduced in the region and so the herds of large game moved north.  The seasoned hunters along with M45 followed these herds out of the region. They sewed their animal skin clothes by means of bone needles. They learnt to build makeshift tents of animal-shelters and to make microlithic weapons. M45's descendant M207 began to move out of his ancestor's territory and his descendants split to populate Europe and South Asia. One man born in the M207 clan was M173 who lived around 30,000 years ago. He moved out of the Steppes of Central Asia westwards toward Europe. His descendants settled the fringes of Europe and were more skilled in the use of stone tools and his people used jewellery as well. The humans numbered around a lakh or so at this time worldwide. Some 10,000-15,000 years ago M17 was born in the M173 clan. The human population worldwide rose to a few million during this period.

Birth of nations
The people of the M17 (also called R1a1) clan gave rise to the Indo-European languages as these people spread so did their languages. The Kurgans of southern Russia and Ukraine were nomadic horsemen who were the first known people to speak an Indo-European language and to carry the M17 (R1a1) gene. Ancient Warriors like the Scythians carried this gene. Indo-European speakers moved across Eurasia, they moved into North India on one side and Europe on the other. Some five to ten per cent of the Western Asians carry this M17 gene. Forty per cent of the people of the Steppes, thirty five per cent of Farsi (Persian) speaking Eastern Iranians and thirty five per cent of the Hindi-speaking North Indians carry this gene as well. Only ten per cent of the Dravidian speakers carry the M17 gene. Here the genetic trail ends. Nothing else can be determined from the gene about what happened to the people in the last 10,000 years.

Common origins

So if all the human race originated in Africa, some 60,000 years ago, all the other regions of the world were only populated later. I hope that many more people would participate in this project and contribute towards this research. It helps understand the unknown histories of the human race as told by genealogists  This project proves that all humans are of common origin despite their different ethnic backgrounds. 

Friday, 7 December 2012

Moribetta - 'Hill of the Maurya'

-->by: Kushal Mucon (Mookonda Kushalappa)

Several months ago I had been to an ASI protected (at least it had one Archaeological Survey of India sign board) prehistoric place famed for megaliths. I wrote about it and it was published in the Deccan Herald Bangalore Edition (Spectrum supplement, dated: Nov. 26, 2012) with three photographs that I had taken on the spot. A miniature version of one of these photos even came on the corner of the newspaper's front page along with the caption! (The original title I had given was 'Hill of the Maurya' but this one, Heaps of broken images, sounds better; it's from T. S. Eliot's "The Waste Land".) The article's editor claimed it was a discovery. The place was quite interesting and before visiting it I had read up much about this site, whose historic value was relatively unknown. Such historic sites actually need to be well-preserved for posterity.

The three photographs in this article and a smaller one on the Deccan Herald newspaper's first page were mine.

This is the link from the Deccan Herald's website :

An image of this e-paper sheet can also be obtained from: Moriya Hill


However, unlike Richter, in the Coorg Inscriptions (part of Epigraphia Carnatica, 1914 edition), the more reliable B. L. Rice (1837-1927) writes on page 51: "Srimatu Partthiva-samvatsarada Phalguna 10 Guruvara Annadani-arasinavara yituba kattisidaru katidavaru Venkataiya Malaiyya Bomarasaina baraha Basalinga-devaru Nannagaudana kaladali ayita."

This translates to: "On Thursday, tenth of Phalguna month in the year Parthiva, Ruler Annadani built it. Venkataiya Malaiya Bomarasa wrote this inscription. This was during the times of Chieftain Basalinga Deva." This inscription was originally on the sluice of the Honnamanakere (Honnamma lake). Thus Basalinga is no Raja (hence not Devappa Raja) but simply a chieftain, while we come to know that King Andany was Annadani (c.1106), an ancient Raja of Kodagu. This hence makes the construction of the lake and sluice much older, dating back to the twelfth century and not the eighteenth century.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Kodagu Nayakas: Part III

-->by: Kushal Mucon (Mookonda Kushalappa)

Kolhlhakongi Nayaka 

Kolhlhakongi Nayaka was the ancestor of the Nayakanda clan of Kadiyatnaad. In Konhanjageri village was the Kochamanda house, where now lays the Biddanda house. Near this house was a Bhagwathi (village goddess) temple. Now Kolhlhakongi Nayaka captured  the idol of that Bhagwathi temple forcefully and got it installed in the Bhagwathi temple near his house at Kirundad. This upset the villagers of Konhanjageri  and it’s chieftains the Kochamanda. So thereafter there used to be skirmishes between the villagers of Kirundad and Konhanjageri.

The Raja's Dalavoi (General), Pardanda Ponnappa, took advantage of  this feud and spent the night in the Kochamanda house where his men were fed well and given place to rest. In the wee hours of the next day Ponnappa and his  men awoke and went to the house of Kolhlhakongi Nayaka in Kirundad. The house is situated in what is now Kai-Kaadu village. The mansion of the chief was a mud  house guarded by a deep Kadanga (a simple fortification consisting of a ditch dug out between two mud walls). The house members were still asleep when Ponnappa and twenty five men knocked on the entrance door. The unwary residents  opened the door unarmed and then Ponnappa and his men barged in. The womenfolk cried out loud: ‘Enemies have entered’. Then the Nayaka and his brothers quickly  picked up their broad swords (called the Oidekatti) and rushed towards the intruders. They had a fierce fight until Kohlhakongi and his men were killed. Very few of Ponnappa’s men, who outnumbered them many times, sustained severe injuries.

Pardanda Ponnappa

When he heard of Kolhlhakongi Nayaka's death, Achchu Nayaka strengthened his defences and deepened his Kadangas. So Pardanda Ponappa and his men devised a  plan. A few of them disguised themselves as mendicants and went about Anjigheri naad, the land of Achchu Nayaka, in Kiggat naad. It was the Kail Polud (an important Kodava festival) season  and everybody were just too busy to notice the beggars who wandered at that time. Beggars often visited the place during times of festivity to be able to get some leftovers. Ponnappa's men surveyed the land and then went away. The Coorgs of the region were busy hunting. So one night when Achchu Nayaka and his men were away on a hunt Ponnappa and his men scaled the village walls and then entered the house of Achchu Nayaka. They had got into the house when the Nayaka's men returned and fell  upon the intruders. A battle ensued in which Achchu's men were mostly killed. Achchu Nayaka and Ponnappa fiercely fought each other by sword and sustained  serious injuries some to the head. Ponnappa fell unconscious while Achchu Nayaka who was outnumbered had his weapon taken away and was captured. They were all  taken away alongwith Achchu Nayaka's family to the Madikeri palace. Here Achchu Nayaka was treated as a guest and kept under house arrest. Anjigheri naad accepted the rule of Dodda Virappa (1657-1736) upon learning about the fall of their leader. Meanwhile Uththa Nayaka escaped  to Vayathur (Baithur) in Kerala.

The descendants of Uththa Nayaka and of Kolhlha Kongi Nayaka were called the Nayakanda of Beppoo naad and of Kadiyat naad  respectively, both are unrelated. Achchu Nayaka died in Madikeri and his eldest son went to the Malabar to learn Tantra. The Namboothiri Brahmins of Malabar were masters of Tantra, but a few of the  Coorgs (like Kaliatanda Ponnappa before Achchu Nayaka's son) who went there, learnt the art from them and returned into Kodagu to be revered all their life. According to Richter (who wrote in 1870), in around 1810, the family of Achchu Nayaka was exterminated. The house name of Achchu Nayaka's father was Katte (Kattera), a hero of this family of Kiggat nad was mentioned in the ancient Palame. This must have been the Kattera family of Kiggatnad, which is now extinct, probably due to the extermination ordered by the Kodagu Raja. However other branches of the Kattera clan is still existent and living in other parts of Kodagu. The Ajjikuttira family claim descent from Achchu Nayaka, some claim that his uncle was Ajjikuttira, others claim that his tantric son was called Ajji Kutty.

Coorg Patelas/ Palegaras

Royal Seal in 1790 (Courtesy: Richter, 1870)
Between the years 1782 and 1789, conflict arose between the Coorgs and the Mysore Sultans. The Haleri Raja dynasty members were imprisoned by Mysore. The Coorgs engaged the Sultanate in a guerrilla war and they kept  declaring themselves independent each time after the Sultan marched through Kodagu to secure it. 12 Coorg Palegaras (also called Patelas) led the Coorgs; four among them were more important, they being: Kuletira Ponnappa, his brother Kuletira Machchayya, Appaneravanda Achchayya and Pattacheravanda Boluka. Another Patela was Uththa Nayaka of Kadnoor. They led the Coorgs and later got the members of the Haleri dynasty to escape from confinement in Periyapatna.

  1. Chinnappa, Nadikerianda. 2006. Pattole Palame (Translated by Boverianda Nanjamma and Chinnappa) Delhi : Rupa.
  2. Chinnappa, N. 2006 [1924]. Pattole Palome (Kannada), Madikeri: Karnataka Kodava Sahitya Akademi.
  3. Krishnayya, D. N. 1974. Kodagina Ittihasa (Kannada), Mysore: University of Mysore.
  4. Muthanna, I. M. 1971. The Coorg Memoirs (The Story of the Kodavas), Mysore.
  5. Richter, Rev G. 1870. Gazetteer of Coorg Mangalore : Basel Mission.
  6. Rice, B. L. 1914. Epigraphia Carnatica Vol 1 . Madras: Madras Government Publications.

Kodagu Nayakas: Part II

-->by: Kushal Mucon (Mookonda Kushalappa)

Achchu Nayaka

Kiggat nad remained outside Haleri control until the reign of Dodda Virappa. Chittiappa Nayaka ruled Anjigheri nad (‘nad of five villages’), Mathth  Mukkati Nayaka ruled over Maththur and Machangala (Machangada) Nayaka ruled some other parts of Kiggat nad. Periyapatna was under relatives of the Ikkeri Rajas and allies of the Haleri Rajas. Nanjunda arasa was the Raja of Periyapatna.  Many Coorgs lived in Periyapatna at that time.

A feud arose between Chittiappa Nayaka and Machangala Nayaka. A tiger was killed in the forest, which bordered both their territories, and both claimed to have killed it. Chittiappa’s claim was widely accepted and so Machangala grew jealous. One night, along with his ally Mukkati Nayaka of Maththur, he had Chittiappa’s house burned down and it’s inmates killed. However, Chittiappa’s son Achchu was saved by the housemaid who then escaped to Periyapatna where she sought and obtained refuge. Nanjunda arasa ('ruler') became mentor for Achchu and got him educated in his palace. Upon his coming of age, he returned home and with assistance from Nanjunda arasa he defeated and killed his two sworn enemies who had destroyed his family. Then he annexed their territories and established himself as the Nayaka of Kiggat naad.

Uththa Nayaka

Uththa was an orphaned Coorg boy of common parentage. He was made the cowherd of the Buduvanda clan, the Thakkas (traditional local chieftains) in Beppoo naad in South Kodagu. He was noticed and brought up by Muddu Raja who was like a foster parent to him. Being a favorite of the Raja, the Raja gave his daughter Neelammaji in marriage to him, got a  fortified palace built in Armeri in Beppoo naad and made him the feudatory Nayaka there. This way the Raja planned that there would be an Haleri stronghold in South Kodagu just as it was there in North Kodagu where the Madikeri palace and fort and the palaces at Haleri and Horamale naad (Appangala) existed.

However the people of Beppoo naad didn't think highly of the Nayaka and would deliberately ignore him. This enraged Uththa Nayaka who was hurt and sought to avenge this insult. So he planned to get the Balliamanes (ancestral houses) of the  Bachetti and the Ichetti (Bachettira and Ichettira) clans burned down. The Bachettira and the Ichettira were powerful families of the region. One night Uththa Nayaka, along with his accomplices, crept up to the Bachetti and the Ichetti residences, got the doors locked from outside and burned down the hay-roofed houses. In those days the Coorgs lived in houses which had roofs made from the hay obtained after the paddy was threshed out. The people were trapped inside and they cried as they burnt to death in pain. Anyone who tried to escape, especially the men, were beaten up and killed.

In the Ichettira house, any chances of escaping were very slim, in fact impossible. There were several infants in the house at that time. The household maids, who lived in separate quarters, came toward the house on seeing the fire. The elders called out to the maids, picked up the infants and threw them out of the small high windows. Two of the infant sons survived and were carried away by the maids to safety. They headed to the Ballachanda clan who were close to the Ichettira clan and narrated the incidents the incidents that occurred  Feeling pity, the Ballachanda thereafter reared the two boys, one was named Appayya and the other was named Poovanna.  They survived into adulthood, got married and had children, thus they are recognized as the founders of Ichetti clan. Meanwhile, in the Bachetti  mane one of the pregnant women survived, having been away from the house and at her parents' place. She gave birth to a son who survived into adulthood, got married and had children. He thus regenerated the Bachettira clan and is recognized as the Karana (primal ancestor) of the clan. Later Ichetti Appayya became a  Dewan (Prime Minister) of the Coorg Rajas. The Ichettira and the Ballachanda clans don't inter-marry because they recognize each other as brother clans.

Later Uththa Nayaka was an opponent of Dodda Virappa his brother-in-law, son of Muddu Raja and the next king. Dodda Virappa had to fight off attempts that were made by Uththa Nayaka to oust him. Uththa had contrived to get the Kodagu country from him. According to one source, he had even managed to usurp the throne and become Raja for a while, around the initial years of Dodda-Virappa's reign. He allied himself with other dissidents such as Kolhlha Kongi Nayaka and Achchu Nayaka, independent Coorg Nayakas and contemporaries.


When Dodda Virappa was the Raja of Kodagu his relative Nanjunda was the Nayaka of  Periyapatna. Nanjunda's officials betrayed him and invited the Raja of Mysore, Chikka Deva Raja, to invade the town and rule over them. Perceiving this threat, Nanjunda fled to his kinsman to espouse his cause and march in his support against Mysore's  invading army. He had meanwhile left his son Vira Raja in command of his capital. But the enemy laid siege on the fort and captured it. In desperation, the Raja killed his wives and children, lest they fall into the hands of the enemy and get tortured, then he gallantly fought a losing battle against the enemy and got killed. It was too late before the army of Dodda Virappa could arrive. Thereafter  Nanjunda was a broken man who spent the rest of his years in Kodagu.  The Coorgs who had settled down in Periyapatna abandoned the place and entered Kiggat naad. Incidentally, Nanjunda had mentored Achchu Nayaka during his initial years as Nayaka of Anjigherinaad (and eventually of Kiggat naad entirely) and aided him in his war for power.

Palpare War

(Courtesy: Richter, 1870)
Chikka Deva Raja was in ecstasy after his victory.  He then marched forward towards Kodagu and sought the conquest of the land. His army marched into Balele in Kodagu and then proceeded into the plain of Palupare (Palpare) when their advancing forces were met by the Coorgs. The large army of Mysore was then fiercely slaughtered by the emotionally-charged and sturdy, but outnumbered, Coorg army. 15 thousand soldiers and 77 officers of the Mysore army died that day. The rest of the Mysore army was forced to flee.

Tomara War

Meanwhile, Uththa Nayaka was still scheming to get the throne. So as he planned, once the Coorg army had marched to face Mysore, he invited the Kote Raja Vira Varma of Waynad to invade Kodagu. Assuming that the Coorg army would be bettered by the Mysoreans, Uththa got a temporary fortress built for the Raja of  Waynad and his 5000 Nair soldiers at Tomara. He promised to provide this garrison supplies. But when Dodda Virappa heard of this treason, he sent over a force  of 1500 Coorgs to Tomara to lay siege to the place. Hence the garrison and the Kote Raja were cut off from any supplies which Uththa was prevented  from provided. Meanwhile, the victorious Coorg army returned from Palpare through Tomara. They destroyed the garrison, slaughtering it's men. Vira Varma,  the Kote Raja, surrendered before Dodda Virappa and pleaded mercy but was instead executed.

Pardanda Ponnappa

In 1718, Pardanda Ponnappa of Naaladi village of Nalku Nadu was the Sarva Karyagara (general) of Dodda Virappa. At that time parts of South Kodagu were independent of Haleri rule. Kiggat naad had been independent of the Rajas while Beppu naad was part of the Haleri kingdom but grew independent.  Dodda Virappa sent Pardanda Ponnappa along with a hundred men to defeat Kolhlhakongi Nayaka of Kadiyat naad, Uththa Nayaka of Beppoo Naad and Achchu Nayaka of Kiggat Naad.

Kodagu Nayakas: Part I

-->by: Kushal Mucon (Mookonda Kushalappa)

Map of Coorg (Courtesy:  Rice, 1914)
For centuries before the reign of the Haleri Rajas (c.1600-1834), Kodagu was under it's Nayakas. Kodagu was divided into 12 regions, groups of nads (shires), and each of them was ruled by a chieftain called a Nayaka (also called a Palegara, a Bachikara or a Bavu). Each region was divided and  separated from the other by a Kadanga (ditches fortified by mud walls) . These Kadangas remained untouched over the ages by the Haleris and after them as well. The hereditary families and the chieftains of each region are largely forgotten; as writing was not yet wide-spread then, no records remain till date. However oral traditions and references in the accounts about the Rajas mention them. The ancient Coorgs were allies of the Kolathiri kingdom of neighbouring Kannur; some Coorgs served as mercenary soldiers of these Hindu Rajas, but in general they traded large quantities of rice in exchange for gold, salt and other commodities  with them.

In the Song of Igguthappa (God of the Kodavas) there is the mention of one Nayaka of Kiggat naad, Appa Kongi Balu (the Nayakas of Kodagu were also called Balu or Bavu a term for a local leader). He gave an abode to the brother of Igguthappa, called Pemmayya, in Thirunelli on the fringes of Kiggatnaad in what is today in Waynad. This shrine of Pemmayya became the famous Thirunelli Janardhana temple dedicated to Shiva.

When Pemma Virappa was the Changalva Raja in around 1174 CE, his lieutenants were Gondayya and Kurchi Udayaditya, they were the Kodagu Malepas (hill chieftains, or Nayakas) of that age. Later some important Coorg Leaders were (Ajjikuttira) Achchunayaka of Anjikerinad in Kiggat naad, Karnayya Bavu of Bhagamandala, Kaliatanda Ponnappa of  Nalknad and (Nayakanda) Uththanayaka of Armeri in Beppu naad. Even after the reign of the Rajas a Council of Elders governed over the Coorgs. Some of the other lesser known Nayakas were Bavali Kolhlhakongi Nayaka of Kadiyat Naad, Kaibili (Kaibilira) Nayaka of Thavalhagheri naad, Maachangalha (Maachangada) Nayaka of Haththu gattu naad and Mukkati Nayaka of Maththur.

Even under the rule of the early Haleri  Rajas, from the reign of the first king through the reigns of his son, his grandson, until the reign of his great grandson large parts of Kodagu remained independent, to some degree, from the Haleri Rajas. These parts were controlled by powerful individuals who called  themselves Nayakas. While Kaliatanda Ponnappa and Karnembahu were contemporaries of the first Haleri Raja (Vira Raja), Chittiappa Nayaka, Machangada Nayaka and Maththur Mukkati Nayaka were contemporaries of Vira Raja's  grandson Muddu Raja, Uththa Nayaka, Achchu Nayaka and Kolhlha Kongi Nayaka were contemporaries of Muddu Raja's son Dodda Virappa. The descendants of Uththa Nayaka of Beppoo naad call themselves the Nayakanda today.

Kaliatanda Ponnappa and Karnayya Bavu (Karnembahu)

In circa 1600 CE, the first Haleri Raja, Vira Raja I, had established himself in Kodagu. At that time there were two powerful local lords: Karnayya Bavu of  Tavunad (Bhagamandala region) and Kaliatanda Ponnappa of Naalnaad (Nalknad). Kaliatanda (also called Kaliat) Ponnappa is the hero of a popular Kodava ballad. He was a magician, a  warrior and the most important person of Naalnaad. The following is the story of Kaliatanda Ponnappa.

In Kunjala village in Nalknad among the 20 original okkas who lived there, there was the Kaliatanda okka. To this clan belonged Kuttaya whose wife Chiyavva was of the Kuttanjettira okka of the neighbouring village of Bale Nurambada. But for years they had no offspring and so they performed penance for forty days and paid obeisance Iggutappa. After some time Ponnappa was born to the couple.

Kaliatanda Ponnappa studied the magic arts in North Malabar and became a famous tantric (magician). He had a friend and man Friday Boltu of Bollur, a very handy assistant who belonged to a forest-dwelling lower caste from the vicinity of Kodagu and was also well versed, like Ponnappa, in sorcery. Ponnappa reigned in Nalknad but displeased the Nayaka of Tavunad who became his nemesis. Kaliat Ponnappa went to the Haleri Raja to seek his protection against Karnayya Bavu of Thavu nad and his stealth army. At that time Nalknad was under the Haleri Raja, but Thavu nad still enjoyed some amount of independence.  After Ponnappa's death, Vira Raja managed to kill Karnayya and bring Bhagamandala and Thavu naad under his complete control. Ponnappa is also known as Kaliat  Achchappa. His followers who claimed to be possessed by his spirit would perform the magic tricks that he performed during his lifetime. He is an ancestor of the Kaliatanda clan.

While Richter claimed that Karnayya was a Coorg and Kaliat Ponnappa was a Malayali, this claim is erroneous. Many other historians like D. N. Krishnaiah, who were better equipped with information, clearly state that it was Karnayya who was from Kerala and Kaliat Ponnappa was a Coorg who however roamed the Malabar in his young days to procure an education. Richter, on the other hand, spoke about Ponnappa being a Malayali sorcerer who naturalised in Coorg, married a Coorgi woman, practised his trade in Nalknad and displeased some Coorgs who then shot  him dead near the Nalknad Kacheri. However Ponnappa's traditional ballad says that he was born of Coorg parents, Kaliatanda Kuttayya and Chiyavva, and that his mother was from the Coorgi Kuttanjettira clan. He was a magician who married his mother's brother's daughter and had an altercation with Karnayya whose men killed him.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

War of the Smartphones

-->by: Kushal Mucon (Mookonda Kushalappa)

A smartphone is a mobile phone with an operating system, multimedia support, Internet connectivity and some computer abilities. It would serve as a media player and a digital video camera, usually has a touchscreen, map navigation, Wi-Fi access and web browsers. Nokia's Symbian phones and Blackberry can be called the early popular smartphones. However it was the iPhones with their large multi-touchscreens (which used no stylus but the human touch) that revolutionized the smartphone world. Although I use smartphones, I still keep a Nokia feature phone maybe for old times sake and for simplicity.

Apple is credited for popularizing software technology be it the personal computer with it's Mac, the mp3 player with it's iPod, smartphone with it's iPhone or the tablet with it's iPad. Predictably iPhone 5 is a bigger version of the previous version, but there stops the freshness. IPhone 5 has arrived a year too late. In fact one can state that it is the Samsung Galaxy SIII that's the best smartphone currently with it's powerful hardware, polished looks and creative software. The iPhone 5 has simply been made as a competitor for the S III. But yes it is the best iPhone until date. As of today (November 3rd 2012) the sales of the S III has hit the 30 million mark. HTC One X is also another great advanced android smartphone. The Samsung Galaxy S III, the HTC One X, the LG Nexus 4, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and some other phones currently have screens that are bigger than that of the iPhone 5.

Currently Android rules the smartphone market with a market share of around 64 percent this year as compared to it's 43 percent last year. Meanwhile iPhone has roughly stayed the same with 18 percent market share. Symbian sales have fallen from 22 percent in 2011 to 6 percent in 2012. Every year the sales are decreasing but yet it is quite considerable enough not to ignore presently. Many Nokia devices use Symbian and Nokia is still the largest mobile device seller in India. Blackberry sales has fallen drastically intact it has halved; around 12 last year to about 5 percent this year. Microsoft's market share has increased from 1 percent to 2 percent especially after the introduction of Nokia's Lumia. Worldwide both Nokia and Samsung each make up around 20 percent of the mobile phones market share. Apple with around 7 percent of the share this year comes third. (Source: Gartner Reports, 2012)

In the US currently Android sales lead the way followed closely by Apple. Blackberry and Microsoft Phone are distant competitors with below ten percent of the smartphone market share. In China android makes up nearly 70 percent of the smartphone market share. In many European countries, Israel and in Australia, Android comes first followed by Apple. Blackberry still has a significant market in these countries. Symbian is used in Africa (nearly everybody in Guinea Bissau, Somalia, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Mozambique, many people in Niger, Swaziland, Egypt, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Chad), in India, Russia, Middle East (Oman, Iraq, Jordan), Central and Southern Europe (surprisingly a major player in Italy), South America (Paraguay) hardly ever used in USA and is on the decline in China.

License Patents have been brought out to protect Companies' intellectual property. But these have led to several disputes between companies. Litigation, suits and counter-suits have occurred between Software MNCs over the use of technology. Apple initially claimed that HTC and later Samsung have stolen and copied their design ideas. Some of the most famous law suits fought between Smartphone manufacturers have been: 2009 Apple vs. Nokia in 2009, Apple vs. HTC, Nokia and Motorola each in 2010, Apple vs. Nokia, Samsung in 2011, Microsoft vs. Motorola in 2010-11 and Apple vs. Samsung in 2012.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Coorg clan names

Ancient Kodava (Photo by Richter, 1870)
by Kushal Mucon (Mookonda Kushalappa), 2012

House names

The inhabitants of Kodagu, especially those who spoke the Kodava thakk (Coorgi) language and followed the native culture in varying degrees, are called as Coorgs in the present work. The largest and dominant community among them who survive into the present age is called the Kodavas. Some of the others who have family names among the Coorgs are the Ammas (Amma Kodavas), the Arebhashe, the Kodagu Heggades, the Airis, the Kodava Mappillas and the Keimbatti. Unlike the mentioned others who Kodava thakk, the Arebhashe speak a dialect of their own.
While the Kodavas and the Amma Kodavas were present in Kodagu for centuries prior to the reign of the Rajas (c.1600-1834), most of the other communities entered Kodagu from Canara and Malabar during the reign of the Rajas. Nearly 60 clan names have been mentioned in the Palame (‘Coorg folk songs’) compiled by Nadikerianda Chinnappa (see below).

The Coorg family names are called Mane-pedhas, or 'house names'. The Kodava 'mane-pedha' (house-name) signifies the clan name. Unlike common practice, among the Coorgs the family name precedes the personal name [1] . For instance as in Kodandera Cariappa, the late general (Field Marshal K M Cariappa or Kodandera Madappa Cariappa)'s Kodava name, where Kodandera is the family name and Cariappa is the personal name. The Coorgs have family names which have a well-meant root word.

Presently there are over a thousand Kodava mane pedhas. There are family names among other Coorg communities as well, for instance there is the Benanda and the Chottalyammanda families of Amma Kodavas, the Alira and the Minakara families of Kodava mappillas, the Airira family of Airis, the Charmanda and the Chattanda families of Kodagu Heggades and the Natolana and the Guddera (also called Guddemane) families of Arebhashe. Some clan names are used by more than one community and are unrelated. When these family names were recorded in the records they were used in various forms. For instance, Natolanda would be recorded as Natolana, Kattera as Kattemane, Ketolira as Ketoli and Mukkatira as Mukkati. The Arebhashe families took over the names of the former families who lived in the lands that they occupied. For example, there are Kodava Mukkatira families and Arebhashe Mukkati families. Likewise, there are Pemmanda and Boppanda clan names in both the Kodava and the Heggade communities. 

Pemma Virappa

The earliest mention of a family name is in the name Pemma Virappa. Pemma Virappa was the last independent Raja of the early Changalva line. He succeeded Mahadeva, a Raja who was slain by the Hoysala Rajas of Southern Karnataka. The 1174 CE inscription mentions Pemma Virappa as having summoned Ella Nadina Kodagaru ('Kodavas from all regions') [2]. This inscription is the earliest known mention of the Coorgs, thus showing that they were an ancient people settled in South India before a thousand years ago.

The name of the Raja, Pemma Virappa, sounds very similar to the traditional names of the Coorgs. Kaliat Ponnappa, Cheppudi Chittavva, Ketoli Changappa and Mukkati Ipanna were some ancient Coorg personalities. They could be known as Kaliatanda Ponnappa, Cheppudira Chittavva, Ketolira Changappa and Mukkatira Ipanna as well. So Pemma Virappa would be known as Pemmanda Virappa. The Pemmanda are a well-known Coorg family name. Names like Virappa, Monnayya, Biddayya and Ipanna have been used by the ancient Coorgs but are no longer used by the present day Coorgs. Pemma means 'respected' in Kodava thakk, this is the root word for the common Coorgi name Pemmayya (or Pemmaiah) as well.

However Pemma Virappa was a Changalva, member of a clan which was not traditional Coorg Hindu by religion, but Jains. There is no mention of Pemma Virappa being a son of Mahadeva the previous Changalva. On the other hand the Changalvas had single names, like Madeva, Odeyatya, Annadani, Malli-Deva and Harihara-Deva and no such Coorg sounding names. The clue lies in the practice of the later Haleri Rajas (c.1600-1834 CE) in converting Coorgs into Lingayites and marrying them. There was Mukkatira Ipanna (Aiyappanna according to some accounts), a born Coorg, who was converted into a Lingayite and married to a Haleri princess Devammaji. The couple is mentioned in the famous Kannada novel Chikka Vira Rajendra which won the Jnanapitha award, a National literary award. So we can assume that Pemma Virappa was a son-in-law, a relative, a general or a minister of the former Changalva Mahadeva whom he succeeded.

According to B. L. Rice there was the mention of a Kodava family name in an inscription dated around 1000 CE. This mentioned name was Kunindora (probably meaning 'Kunjindera') which, however, no longer exists. This would hence be a clan which has gone extinct over the ages.

Origins of the clan names

Scientists believe that the human race originated in Africa and spread across the planet over tens of thousands of years. In the prehistoric times, in the absence of written records, the early Coorgs (Kodavas) settled Kodagu (Kodavu or Kodagu nad) and tracts of neighbouring Western Mysore and Northern Malabar and brought the wilderness of the region under cultivation. Before them there were hunter-gatherer tribes wandering in the forested hills of South India.  One must understand that those were the times when political borders didn't exist. The Coorgs were in the region of Kodagu even during the times of the ancient Tamils of the Sangam age (c.300 BCE-300 CE). Kodagu was called Kudukom, the 'land to the west' of the Pandyas, one of the Tamil Sangam kingly dynasties. 

There are three Coorg clan names Cheranda, Cholanda and Pandianda ('Pandyanda') which sound very similar to the names of the chief Tamil Sangam kingly dynasties-the Cheras, the Cholas and the Pandyas. This doesn't mean that these families were descendants of these dynasties but that their ancestors who founded the respective clans and names knew of these ancient dynasties. In history unconscious India, where history wasn’t usually written and preserved for posterity and where the ancient people didn't travel beyond their villages and knew of no other place, this could only mean that the Coorgs lived in the times of those famous kings.  There are also half a dozen Coorg clan names each which begin with the word 'Konga' and 'Changa', there were two Jain dynasties (the Kongalvas and the Changalvas) to whom the families owe their origins. These two dynasties ruled Kodagu in 1100 CE and their dominions were known as Konga naad (in and around Southern Hassan and named after the Salem region in Tamil Nadu) and Changa naad (in and around Western Mysore, probably named after a region in Shimoga in Karnataka).

Periya Raja was a Changalva Raja who built Periyapatna town in the 1580s. The Wodeyars of Mysore defeated the Changalvas, captured Periyapatna and drove out the Coorgs from that region. Those Coorgs settled down among the other Coorgs living in Kodagu. Presently there is one family name among the Coorgs, called the Periyanda.

Legend has it that one of the early Haleri Rajas (either Muddu Raja or Dodda Virappa) gave the Coorgs their family names in the 17th century. But this can't be true because there were people with family names, like Kaliatanda Ponnappa, a famous Coorg leader and religious man, who lived in circa 1600 and who lived before both the Rajas. If the Raja had given them their family names then he would have given them in Kannada, the language of the offices and not in the colloquial language, Kodava thakk. Besides, the Coorg folk songs, some of which predate the Haleri Rajas, mention many of the Coorg family names.

Richter's book says that the Coorg family names are of Kannada, Malayalam, Tulu and Tamil origins [3] . However, unlike what he says, almost all the Kodava family names are of Kodava thakk origin. All the Mane pedhas had either of the following common suffixes, meaning 'belonging to': -era/ira (plural) or -ada/anda (singular). The family names could be patronymic (affixed with 'appa') or matronymic (affixed with 'amma'), the latter is found among the Amma Kodava family names and a few other Coorg clans.

The Coorgs kept short names in prevalence in the South India of that age, like Muthu, Achchu, Pemma, Boppa and so on. When addressed by a younger person or a sub-ordinate these names were then suffixed with an '-appa' or an '-ayya' (father), an '-anna' (brother), an '-amma' or an '-avva' (mother) or an '-akka' (elder sister), whatever maybe the case. Previously not all the Coorgs had a family name, for instance Utta Nayaka, the king Dodda Virappa's arch-rival, isn't known to have had a mane-pedha. However, his descendants are known as the Nayakanda family ('Nayaka' or lord) of Armeri village in Beppunad today. By the 19th century every Coorg had a family name. Those who failed to use a family name were given pejorative family names like among the Boda Kodava.


Universally, most family names or surnames are classified by etymologists under five categories depending on their origin: based on an ancestor's personal name, on their occupation, on their location, on their nickname or on their adopted ornamental name [4] . The family name of the famous Indian Chanakya was Koutilya, which meant 'belonging to the jar'. Family names of the Europeans were like Brown, Rice and Smith. The Marathi-speaking people have family names such as Gavaskar, Tendulkar and Wadekar. The Parsis have family names like Irani (from Iran), Engineer, Seth (moneylender) and Vakil (lawyer). As you can see some family names were derived from professions, titles, place names, while some others were based on totemic things.

The Coorgs are no exception. Most of the Coorg family names can be classified on basis of their origins into the following categories: based on the ancestor's personal characteristics, place names, occupational names, religious names, and names of rulers, of animals, plants, fruits and vegetables and based on the ancestor's personal name, nick name or ornamental name.

Some of the family names were based on personal characteristics like the Mandeda (Mande or 'head'), the Mookonda (Mooku or 'nose'), the Moolera (Moole or 'bone'), the Bayavanda (Bayi or 'mouth') and the Uddapanda (Udda appa or 'tall man'). Some are based on village names like the Kaliatanda (Kalyat is the name of a place in North Malabar near the Kodagu border and also the name of a ritual dance form Kali atta popular in Kodagu and in Kerala), the Nadikerianda (Nadikeri is a place in South Kodagu), the Kavadichanda or Kambadichanda (Kavadi is a village in Ammathi nad), the Chembanda (Chembe-beliyoor village near Virajpet), the Mundiolanda (Mundiole village of Kodagu) and the Kundiolanda (Kundiole village of Kodagu). Some of the family names are based on names of fruits like the Balera (Bale or 'banana'), the Chekkera (Chekke or 'jackfruit') and the Mangera (Mange or 'mango'). Sometimes clans were names after objects such as in the case of the Coluvanda (Kolu, plough).

Some other family names were based on the occupational names and on religious names, for instance Mukkatira (Mukkati, a temple functionary). Nambimada Muthanna was the legendary ancestor of the Pardanda clan; hence we know that Nambimada was the former family name of the Pardanda. Nambima was the Coorgi word for a Namboothiri temple priest. Pattada, Pattamada and Paruvangada, were names of religious origins, the terms Patta and Paruva were the Coorgi terms for a priest. When the temple of Bhagamandala had been captured by the Mysore Sultans and its fort was occupied by Muslim forces, the young temple priest (or Pattama) used to perform the daily temple rituals to the river goddess Kaveri in hiding in the forests under the patronage of a Kodava man. This Kodava man's clan came to be known as 'Pattamada'. Another family name was Kotera (Kote or 'fort'), their ancestors might have guarded or built one or more forts. Yet another was the Gowdanda (Gowda, an agricultural caste) family of Surlabi naad.

Sometimes the family names were formed from an ancestor's name, for instance the Boppanda (Boppa), the Biddanda (Bidda), the Somaiyanda or Chomaiyanda (Somayya or Chomayya, both being the same name but pronounced differently). Some others were derived from a nickname or ornamental name of the ancestor, or ancestors, such as the Mandetira (Mande-yeti, 'head held high'), the Maneyappanda (Mane-appa,'father's house'), the Apparanda (Appa-aru, 'father of six’), the Mandepanda (Mande-appa, 'wise man'), the Kuttanda (Kutt, 'knock'), the Cheriyapanda (Cheri-appa, 'young father', or father's younger brother), the Nellamakkada (Nella-makka, 'good children')  and the Cheppudira (Cheppu-pudi, 'hold a money container').

The Palame clans

Among the clans which find mention in Nadikerianda Chinnappa’s Palame, five Amma Kodava clans have been named:
Amma Kodava family (Richter, 1870)
1. Chottalyammanda
2. Pattandamma
3. Chendandamma
4. Banandamma
5. Kondinjamma       

Nearly 55 Kodava clans have also been named:
1. Kallera
2. Bollera
3. Mathanda/ Kuduvanda
4. Buduvanda
5. Pandira
6. Pardanda
7. Porera
8. Paruvanda
9. Kallmadanda
10. Ammandira
11. Bottolanda
12. Mukkatira
13. Karthanda
14. Karare (Kararira)
15. Mekare (Mekarira)
16. Kullachanda
17. Changaranda
18. Bidiriyanda
19. Chirapanda
20. Ammanda
21. Palachanda
22. Ichchapolathanda
23. Nadikerianda
24. Kanniyada
25. Aiyakovira
26. Pollepanda
27. Kaliatanda
28. Kuttanjetira
29. Kikanda
30. Madayanda
31. Bonira
32. Kotera
33. Chourira
34. Annira
35. Mundanda
36. Tholanda
37. Chatanda
38. Chenanda
39. Bollanda
40. Kadira
41. Onjera
42. Cheyyanda
43. Koothanda
44. Chatera
45. Kannanda
46. Nonnira
47. Kallanda
48. Kattera (Katte) of Kiggatnad
49. Kongira
50. Ponnareyanda
51. Pondattanda
52. Totera
53. Ayyanda
54. Changettira
55. Mookanda of Bavali

(Some sources call this Mookanda clan as Mookonda. While the 2003 English version of the Pattole Palame calls them Mookanda, the 2006 Kannada version of the same book calls them Mookonda. An earlier edition of the Pattole Palame calls the family Mookagonda. There is a place known as Mookanda Bane in Bavali. But presently there are no Mookandas in the Bavali village. Hence this mentioned family is an extinct clan of that village. 

On the other hand two Mookonda families exist in Bilugunda and in Devanagiri villages near Ammathi and Virajpet towns respectively. Some people who are not familiar with the Bilugunda region call the Mookonda of Bilugunda as Mookovanda, a clan name that doesn't exist, hence a mispronunciation.

Update (2016): The Mookanda of Bavali have been alternately called Mookonda as well. This has been found in various records as well. An old document came up where the present-day Mookonda of Bilugunda was called Mookanda. Also, I have been purposefully addressed as Mookanda Kushalappa instead of Mookonda Kushalappa.

The Bavali branch, which was the oldest and probably the parent branch, is now extinct. The last member of that branch was a lady who married into the Biddanda family. The Bilugunda and Devanagiri branches continue to exist. The Devanagiri branch are also called Achimudiyanda of Makkandur, a Kodava family in existence today. 

An oral narration exists that an old Mookonda couple in Devanagiri had no children. At that time members of the Achimudiyanda family came to Devanagiri during times of warfare in Makkandur. They were adopted as heirs by the old couple. It is not known if the entire Devanagiri Mookonda family descended from the Achimudiyanda family or if only some of them are.

'Mooka', as in Mookanda, means mute. 'Mooku', as in Mookonda, means nose.)

1. Emeneau, Vol. 96, No. 1 (Jan. - Mar., 1976), pp. 7-14

2. Rice, Vol.1, 1914, p. 20

3. Richter, 1870, p. 231

4. Bowman, 1932

  • Bowman, W. D. 1932. The Story of Surnames. London: George Routledge & Sons.
  • Chinnappa, Nadikerianda. 2003. Pattole Palame (Translated by Boverianda Nanjamma and Chinnappa into English) Delhi: Rupa.
  • Chinnappa, N. 2006 [1924]. Pattole Palame (Kannada), Madikeri: Karnataka Kodava Sahitya Akademi.
  • Emeneau, M. B. 'Personal Names of the Coorgs', Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 96, No. 1 (Jan. - Mar., 1976), pp. 7-14.
  • Moegling, Rev. H. 1855 Coorg Memoirs: An Account of Coorg and of the Coorg Mission, Bangalore: Wesleyan Mission Press.
  • Richter, Rev G. 1870 Gazetteer of Coorg Mangalore: Basel Mission.
  • Rice, B. L. 1914. Epigraphia Carnatica Vol 1. Madras: Madras Government Publications.