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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.