Tulu Language

Rationale - Why Tulu Language should come under 8th Schedule

Article by Mr. Alok Rai as it appeared in ANI News

New Delhi, Feb. 21 (ANI): Tulu speaking people from all over the country and abroad are sending their representatives here to meet at the Delhi Kannada School to voice their demand for inclusion of their mother tongue in the 8th Schedule of the Indian Constitution.

The right of language is a basic cultural right of the people and linked with their economy, culture, social system and political right. UNESCO recognizes the concept of language equality among all languages, irrespective of whether they have a script or not.

Irrespective of their power and specific ranking in the world systems of states, the language best able to survive the competition are likely to be those that have the support of a government. Unfortunately the Tulu language has no official support as it is not included in the 8th Schedule of the Indian Constitution.

The Constitution of India is not rigid and it has no fixed number of languages to be included in the 8th Schedule. Many languages have been included in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution after India's independence. Many languages were found neither numerically stronger nor more grammatically richer than Tulu. Assamese (approx 13,168,484), Sindhi (approx 2,535,485), Nepali (approx 2,871,749), Konkani (approx 2,489,015), Manipuri (approx 1,466,705), Kashmiri (approx 5,527,698), Sanskrit (approx 49,800) many of them have lesser population than Tulu speaking population (approx 5,000,000) but Tulu has unfortunately not been included in the 8th Schedule.

Tulu is a language of the masses, language of the people who have struggled for centuries, one of the oldest Dravidian languages, language of the saints and poets, language of the hills, rivers and valleys which treasured the beauties of the nature, language which unites people by heart and mind, language of peace and compassion. Today this language is struggling for its identity in a country which is being considered to be the world's largest democracy and proclaims the "Unity in Diversity" as its backbone.

The oldest available inscriptions in Tulu are from the period between 14th to 15th century AD. These inscriptions are in the Tulu script and are found in areas in and around Barkur, which was the capital of Tulu Nadu during the Vijayanagar period. Another group of inscriptions are found in the Ullur Subrahmanya Temple near Kundapura. Many linguists like S.U. Panniyadi and L. V. Ramaswami Iyer as well as P.S. Subrahmanya suggested that Tulu is among the oldest languages in the Dravidian family, which branched independently from its Proto-Dravidian roots nearly 2,000 years ago. This assertion is based on the fact that Tulu still preserves many aspects of the Proto-Dravidian language.

This dating of Tulu is also based on the fact that region where Tulu is natively spoken was known to the ancient Tamils as Tulu Nadu and the Tamil poet Mamular who belongs to the Sangam Age (200 AD) describes Tulu Nadu and its dancing beauties in one of his poems. In the Halmidi inscriptions one finds mention of the Tulu country as the kingdom of the Alupas. The region was also known to the Greeks of the 2nd century as Tolokoyra.

The history of Tulu would not be complete without the mention of the Charition mime, a Greek play belonging to 2nd century BC. The play's plot centres around the coastal Karnataka, where Tulu is mainly spoken. The play is mostly in Greek, but the Indian characters in the play are seen speaking a language different from Greek, namely Tulu.

Though most of the Tulu population is found in the coastal areas of Karnataka and Kerala states. Equally good number of Tulu speakers can be seen all over India and also in other parts of the World, mainly in Gulf countries, U.K., Europe, Canada, Australia and USA.

Tulu drama troupes are very popular in villages and cities of Tulunadu comprising Udupi, Mangalore and Kasaragod District. They are also popular world over in general and in U.S.A. and Gulf countries in particular.

Yakshagana field drama, internationally known folk dance is very popular in this part of the country. Tulu is used as a medium during the last half century. Yakshagana troupes perform Tulu Yakshagana not only in Tulu area, but also in various places of India and abroad.

Tulu films are recognised for Award and a few Tulu films have won State, National and International Awards.

A few monthlies are published in Tulu. Karnataka Tulu Sahitya Academy also is bringing out a quarterly. During the last 3 years more than 100 writers contributed articles, poems etc. to this Journal. Research articles too are written in Tulu. A host of great research scholars of national and international repute are writing on Tulu culture, language, folklore etc. in important journals. A large number of scholars have submitted and published thesis on Tulu language and culture.

This language is a symbol of "Unity in Diversity". People from different religions, regions and cultures are using this language. The Tulu language has lost its prominence as a major language. Though it is certain that most of the literature has been lost because of difficulties in preserving palm leaf scrolls, the earliest literature available is from the 15th century. This indeed is a much later work than the language itself, which is thousands of years old. Tulu language possessed its own script before Malayalam script existed. Perhaps the reciprocal is true that the Malayalam script developed from Tulu script as the language predates Malayalam by more than a thousand years. The priests who went south are now credited with carrying mantras written in Tulu script to Kerala. Tulu script is derived from the Grantha script.
The earliest piece of literature, Tulu Mahabharata is from the 15th century written in Tulu script. Another manuscript that was discovered Tulu Devimahatme, a prose work like the Mahabharata, is also from the 15th century. Two epic poems written in 17th century namely Sri Bhagavata and Kaveri have also been found.

Madhvacharya's eight matts established in Udupi in the 13th century were centers of Tulu literature during his lifetime and thereafter. However, very little of this has survived. So it is not inconceivable (as it is claimed) that Madhvacharya himself did all his writings in the Tulu script.

Other inscriptions discovered are Sanskrit mantras transliterated in Tulu script. It appears as though the Brahmins used the script mainly for this purpose. How many languages in the eighth schedule have such a rich literary work? In fact very few of them have such enriching literature.

Tulu Sahitya Academy was established by state government of Karnataka in 1994, Kerala Tulu academy established by the Government of Kerala in 2007 are important State governmental organisations that promote Tulu literature. Nevertheless, there are numerous organisations spread all over the world with significant Tulu migrated populations that contribute to Tulu literature.

During the past two centuries more than 500 books were published in Tulu comprising of poems, novels, stories and prose works. Tulu literature is now developing and contributions of great authors like Kayyara Kinhanna Rai, Amruta Someshwara, B. A. Viveka Rai, Kedambadi Jattappa Rai, Venkataraja Puninchattaya, Paltadi Ramakrishna Achar Dr. (Smt.) Sunitha M. Shetty, Dr. Vamana Nandavara, Sri. Balakrishna Shetty Polali and a host of writers of repute.

Tulu as a language continues to thrive in coastal Karnataka and Kasaragod in Kerala. Tulu Sahitya Academy, an institute established by the state government of Karnataka, has introduced Tulu as a language in schools around coastal areas of the State. . The Academy is awaiting government permission to add more schools.

Tulu is also taught as a language at the post graduate level in Mangalore University, and there is a dedicated department for Tulu studies, Translation and Research at Dravidian University in Kuppam, Andhra Pradesh. The Government Degree College at Kasaragod in Kerala has also introduced a certificate course in Tulu for the academic year 2009-2010. It has also introduced Tulu as an optional subject in its Kannada post-graduation course.

German missionaries Revs. Kammerer and Manner were the first people to conduct research on the language. Rev. Kammerer collected about 3,000 words and their meanings until he died. Later his work was carried on by Rev. Manner, who completed the research and published the first dictionary of the Tulu language in 1886 with the help of the then Madras government.

The Govinda Pai Research Centre at MGM College, Udupi started an 18-year Tulu lexicon project in the year 1979. Different dialects, special vocabularies used for different occupational activities, rituals, and folk literature in the forms of Paad-danaas were included in this project. The Tulu lexicon was awarded the Gundert Award for the best dictionary in the country in 1996. In September 2011, the Academic Council of Mangalore University accepted a proposal, to allow the university and the colleges affiliated to it to offer certificates, diplomas and postgraduate diploma courses in Tulu, both in regular and correspondence modes.

Universities in the U.S. and Europe has recognised Tulu as an important Indian language. Tulu is among 17 Indian languages on the information bulletin of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) examination, which specified code numbers for each of the 133 languages of the world.

Tulu Nadu is called "the cradle of Indian banking". Five major banks of India (Syndicate Bank, Canara Bank, Corporation Bank, Vijaya Bank and Karnataka Bank) have their origins here.

Article 29 of the Indian Constitution deals with the "Protection of interests of minorities" It states that "Any section of the Citizens residing in the territory of India or any part there of having a distinct language, script or culture of its own shall have the right to conserve the same." Denial of due recognition to the Tulu language is a violation of the minority rights; therefore it has killed the spirit of the Article 29 of the Constitution.

People who are using this language practice different religions. I think India and Indians have to work day and night to protect its identity of "Unity in Diversity".

Language is not only a medium of communication, but it also reflects the history, culture, people, relationship, system of governance, ecology, religion, politics etc. Tulu is a systematic, scientific, culturally and intellectually rich language.

The low representation of "Tulu Nadu" region in the Indian parliament is a major constraint for strongly advocating for bringing reforms in policy. Even the handfull of representatives from this region were mostly scattered and unorganized in different directions. The "Tulu Nadu" people are not only geographically scattered but also politically unorganized.

From India's independence and following the reorganization of states, Tuluvas have been demanding for the inclusion of the Tulu language in the eighth schedule. Though a bit subdued in between, this demand has grown stronger in recent years. Several organizations have taken up the cause of the Tuluvas, and frequent meetings and demonstrations are held across towns in Tulunadu (like Mangalore, Udupi, Kasaragod, etc.) and in New Delhi to voice our demands.

If the Government of India sincerely and honestly wants to unite and strengthen the whole country, including the peace loving and vulnerable communities of the Tulu Nadu region, it should not hesitate to include the Tulu language in the 8th Schedule of the Indian constitution, so that the people in the Tulu Nadu can also be proud of their own language; our members of Parliament can also represent us in a more effective way by addressing our problems and aspirations in our own mother tongue; more research and development work can be feasible, with adequate government's support and the benefits are many more if it included in 8th Schedule.

The inclusion of Tulu in the 8th Schedule will ensure the security and promotion of the language, culture, identity and dignity. By Alok Rai (ANI)


Demand for inclusion of Tulu language in the eighth schedule of the Indian Constitution gathers momentum

New Delhi | February 18, 2013 12:01:13 AM IST

Purushottam Bilimale(ANI)

The demand for inclusion of Tulu, an important language of the Dravidian linguistic family spoken by the people in the state of Karnataka and also in the northern part of Kerala, is gathering momentum, with Members of Parliament from Karnataka, and leading political and literary persons from the State and abroad announcing their intention to gather in the national capital next Sunday (February) to articulate their demand.

Though primarily the native land of Tulu speakers was the western coast of Karnataka and northern part of Kerala, Tulu is also spoken outside the state of Karnataka, such as Maharashtra, Tamilnadu, Andhra Pradesh and also in Delhi. The Metropolitan cities like Bangalore, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad and Delhi have a large number of Tulu population settled there since many decades.

Tulu diaspora outside India are known by the active role played by Tulu people in countries like United Arab Emirates, Middle Eastern Countries, United Kingdom, United States of America, Singapore, Australia and some other European countries. It is estimated that the total population of Tulu speakers within India and abroad amounts to one crore.

Tulu is one of the ancient languages of India and it is one of the five major Dravidian languages of South India. M.S. Andronov, the Russian Linguist, states that 'Tulu has emerged as an independent language from the Proto-Dravidian family, 2000 years back.' (M.S.Andronov: Dravidian Languages, 1970.) Robert Caldwell, another Linguist had clearly stated, 'Tulu is one of the most highly developed languages of Dravidian family of languages and has an equal place among the languages like Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu and Kannada'. (Robert Caldwell, Comparative Grammar of Dravidian Languages, 1856.) Dr. P.S. Subrahmanyam, Professor of Linguistics, Annamalai University, Tamilnadu has shown Tulu as the first offshoot of Proto-South Dravidian Language Family, about 2800 years back (Position of Tulu in Dravidian, Indian Linguistics; 1968).

On the basis of excavations, the archaeologists observed that Tulu speaking area was inhabited by the people of old stone age (about 25000 B.C.). The tools of old stone age were also discovered in this region. The axes of new stone age (of 12000 B.C.) were also discovered in this region. Similarly copper age, bronze age and iron age tools were also discovered.

Tulu speaking people were mentioned in Tamil Sangam Literature of 2nd century A.D. A Greek drama of 2nd century A.D. also records some Tulu words spoken at that time in coastal Karnataka. The language, Tulu is spoken by people belonging to different religions, castes and tribes. Hindus, Jains, Muslims and Christians use Tulu language in their communication in west coast region of Karnataka. This language is considered as a binding force and also a symbol of communal harmony by different religious groups and sects in Karnataka.

Tulu has its own independent script. The first manuscript in Tulu script is 'Tulu Mahabharata' of 14th century AD. Tulu classical epics in Tulu script like Tulu Bhagavata, Kaveri, Devi Mahatme were written in 16th and 17th centuries. There are thousands of palm leaf manuscripts written in Tulu script which are preserved in archives, in universities and research institutions in Karnataka.

Tulu has a rich heritage of oral traditions. Different genres of Tulu folklore, namely , oral epics, prose narratives, proverbs, riddles, customs and rituals, performances, festivals, theatres and such other forms exist since thousands of years. This rich oral tradition of Tulu culture has been documented and studied by scholars from various countries like USA, Finland, Germany, France, Japan, UK, and Italy. Linguists and folklorists from various countries had conducted research projects on Tulu folklore.

Tulu language and culture have been included in academic programmes in universities and research institutions within India and abroad. Many Indian universities including Mangalore, Mysore, Hampi, Kannur, Calicut, Kerala, Madras, Madurai, Annamalai, Central University Hyderabad, Osmania University, Dravidian University, Delhi University, Mumbai and Poona are doing research on the various aspects of Tulu Language and culture.

Universities abroad, including the California State University, Hayard and Wisconsin University in USA, Turku University, and Kalevala Institute in Finland; Heidelberg University, Tubingen University, and Wurzburg University in Germany; Waseda University in Japan have also been conducting research on Tulu.

Publication of Tulu books started in 1830 by German missionaries in Karnataka. They were instrumental in bringing out standard reference books for Tulu like grammar, dictionary, text books, translations, compilation of folklore. More than 500 Tulu books were published during 1830-1930. Tulu is recognized as having a modern scientific lexicon which is somewhat rare for a language like Tulu.

Tulu-Kannada-English Lexicon (Vol. 1-6 Chief Editor Dr. U.P.Upadhyaya, 1988-1997) has got international recognition as an unique work incorporating different dimensions of a language like classical literature, modern literature, spoken dialect and folklore.

From 20th century onwards, Tulu has been used as a medium for writings both in creative and research fields. For the last hundred years, about two thousand Tulu books have been published in various areas like literature, history, linguistics, folklore, translation, culture, art and architecture. Tulu literature has to its credit all major genres of modern literature like poetry, epic, short story, novel, drama, criticism and prose.

Mangalore University in Karnataka recognized Tulu for its academic programmes at Masters level as early as 1976, which was followed by other universities in India and abroad.

Many American and European Universities have recognized Tulu as one of the 17 important Indian languages in their bulletin of GRE and TOEFEL examinations.

Tulu songs have been broadcast by Ceylon (Srilanka) Radio from 1970 onwards.

All India Radio Mangalore has been broadcasting programmes in Tulu since 1976. Doordarshan channels Bangalore and Delhi are telecasting programmes and serials in Tulu. There are a number of Tulu channels which are exclusively devoted for telecasting Tulu programmes. Tulu magazines have been published from 1970 onwards. Even Kannada news papers devote columns for Tulu writings.

The Government of Karnataka has established Tulu Sahitya Academy in 1994. The Tulu Academy has been instrumental for the development of Tulu language and literature in modern times. The Government of Kerala has also established a Tulu academy in 2007. This is a rare example of two neighboring states, Karnataka and Kerala, establishing academies for the development of Tulu.

Central Sahitya Academy. New Delhi has shown a rare gesture, in recognizing Tulu in the form of instituting Bhasha Samman award. Two eminent Tulu writers Mandara Keshava Bhat and Kedambadi Jattappa Rai, have been honored with Bhasha samman by Sahitya Academy New Delhi in 1996.

Tulu is very rich in traditional folk theatre, like Yakshagana. More than 40 troupes of Yakshagana perform throughout the year in different places and cater to the needs of lakhs of people with rich heritage of Tulu language and culture. Tulu is also popular in modern theatre. Tulu drama theatres draw large audience and such theatrical troupes travel across the globe attracting Tulu people in large numbers.

Tulu Films had their beginning in 1970 and till today more than 50 Tulu films have been produced and released. Some of the Tulu films like 'Sudda' and 'Gaggara' have bagged national awards. The film 'Sudda' has won an international award.

Tulu people have been active in the freedom struggle of India. Queen Abbakka, a Tuluva woman of 16th century AD was the first freedom fighter against Portuguese rule. There were thousands of freedom fighters from Tulu region, influenced by Mahatma Gandhi, who had visited Tuluva region.

Many freedom fighters from Tuluva region served the nation after independence in different capacities like ministers in the Government of India and speakers in the Parliament and also ministers in the erstwhile Mysore state. Tulu speakers have contributed for the development of the country in a big way, in fields like education, literature, arts, science, law, politics, sports, banking, industry and commerce.

Tulu people desire that their contribution to the struggle for Indian Independence , the progress of Karnataka state and India should be recognized by including their mother tongue Tulu in the Eight Schedule of the Constitution.

Currently a total of 22 languages are listed in the Eighth Schedule of the constitution; 18 of them are northern Indian languages and just four are from southern India. The demand has been made earlier and , the last one being in 2003 in New Delhi when a resolution was passed and handed over to then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.

The demand was sidelined as Tulu was not the official language of a separate State. But since then the Constitution has been amended and Dogri, Bodo, Santhali and Maithili have been included in the Eighth Schedule. Tuluvas have been patient so far, hoping that they will receive justice which is their rightful due.

The author is a leading folklorist and currently the Director of the American Institute of Indian studies in Delhi - by Purushottam Bilimale(ANI)