Many mistakenly claim that Badaga Origin is nothing but Badaga migration from Mysore [now in Karnataka state] about 300 years ago, during Tipu’s time only because of the name Badaga (meaning northerner). It is very debatable. Unfortunately many Badagas have believed it in the absence of any convincing and conclusive evidence to the contrary. But the latest revelations and links about the language, especially from the epics and writings during the Tamil Sangam period tell a totally different story (see below).
I am firmly of the view that our history is much older- may be a thousand years or more older – and my initial ‘research’ confirms that.
There is a lot written about the migration from Mysore theory by many anthropologists, researchers and others. For obvious reasons, most of them are/were 'outsiders' - like the early European missionaries and British. The one person who has done a lot to highlight about Badagas, in 1960s, Prof.Paul Hockings has chosen to go along with his predecessors in concluding that since Badaga means north[ner], they have migrated from southern Mysore during Tipu Sultan's rule over Mysore to avoid being forcibly converted to Islam. Also sited in support of migration is the resemblance/similarity of Badaga (language) to Haleya [old] Kannada.
But, B.Balasubramaniam, a highly educated Badaga, [who has done extensive research before writing his book “ Paamé ” – The history and culture of the Badagas of the Nilgiris ] feels that Badagas migrated from Southern Karnataka [then Mysore State] about 700 years back, much before Tipu’s time, around 1311 AD during the plundering raid of Malik Kafir.
Though I am in agreement with Bala that Badaga migration, if at all, took place much earlier then Tipu’s time in late 1700s, I am firmly of the view that “It is possible that Badagas have lived in the Nilgiris for thousands(?) of years like the Thodas [Thodhamaru ] or Kothas [Kotharu]. Migration theory is an attempt by historians and anthropologists to explain away a ‘historical puzzle’. Based on the name ‘Badaga’ or on the so called 'legends' that are open to many interpretations or on the basis of similarity of Badaga [language] with haliya /mid Kannada, can we conclude that Badagas migrated from Southern Mysore?
When there is no definite evidence about the origin of Todhas or Kothas, how can we presume that they predated Badagas as natives of the Nilgiris?
I am sure the mystery of migration is far from over. If you look at the issue as of ‘definitive migration’ then you try to guess about the dates but what happens if we believe that Badagas have always been there in the Nilgiris much before or along with Todhas or Kothas? Uncomfortable questions that are very interesting and worth digging deeper into.
“ …..Some of the Kanarese too seem to have been called Vadugar. In consequence of the Andhras and the Kanarese having been called by the common name of Vadugar in the days of the Sangam, it has been surmised that they were then one race and that their language too must have been known as Vadagu and that it is only later that Kanarese must have been branched off into a separate language. But Illam-Ko- Adigal, the great epic-poet of the sangam age, mentions distinctly those who speak the Kanarese language as Karunadar and other classical writers make mention separately of the lands where Kanarese and Telugu were respectively spoken. The northern portion of Mysore State and parts of the districts of Bellary and Anantpur seem to be known even now as Badaga-Varu and Badaga-Natti-Varu. A poem of Sangam mentions an Erumai as a 'Vadugar Chief' in whose land flowed the river Ayiri. This is evidently the Agiri which falls into the Thungabhadra. It is this country which was probably the extreme southern limit of the Asokan Empire as is evidenced from inscriptions found in the vicinity.
If these be so, it follows that the Telugus who were to the north, and the Badaga Kannadas who were to the west, of the Tamils were known generically as the Vadugar. The poet, Ma-mulanar, says that it is beyond the lands of a chief of the name of Katti that the language changed into that of the Vadugar. Perhaps the chiefs well-known as Katti-Mudaliyars in the days of the Vijayanagar empire and later belonged to the lineage of this Katti. It is worthy of note that these Katti-Mudaliyars occupied those portions of the Tamil country which Ma-mulanar assigned to Katti. There are reasons to hold that the land called Vadugar-munai and placed beyond the lands of this Katti is identical with the Badaga-nadu we have already mentioned. It is these Badagas that seem to be referred to by St. Sundara in one of his psalms on a shrine in the Kongu country…..”
Rajash,thank you very much for spending a lot of time to think and write about Badaga Origin. There is plenty of truth and it makes a lot of sense when you say that ‘Badagas … indeed were the people of both Hills and plains’. I am convinced that the ‘migration from Mysore’ theory, if accepted, took place over a period of long time running into centuries. But, I am also convinced that Badagas were and are one of the original inhabitants of the Nilgiris like the Todas. Rajesh’s view is the same.
This lengthy letter [commets] of Rajesh needs a much serious study and indepth analysis and I will attempt to do so soon.
(((((((((O)))))))))Thank you once again, Rajesh ! – Wg Cdr JP