Friday, February 4, 2011

The Unwritten History of the Saurashtrians of South India

From 500 to 1000 A.D. Saurashtrians lived in Mandsar, Dasapura towns of the old Saurashtra Province which included portions of the present Gujarat and Maharashtra States doing spinning and weaving works. In Dasapura they built  their own a Sun Temple and worshipped Sun God. The Sanskrit term Saura means sun. As they built and worshipped Sun or Saura God they were called as Saurashtrians and the region they lived was naturally called as Saurashtra Province. 

In major portions of Saurashtra region cotton was growing in large quantities. It was long staple variety cotton. As it was growing in the Arabian Sea breeze it was similar to the Egyptian or American type cotton very suitable for making thin thread. Even today the cotton plants grow most in Ahmedabad in the whole of the Deccan Plateau. Also, the climate of the region is most suited to make thin thread and dresses. So, they naturally learned the art of weaving thin clothes out of the very thin silk like cotton available there.
Saurashtra region was ruled by the Mourya dynasty King Somasarma, Saka dynasty King Rudradama and Gupta dynasty King Chandragupta called Vikramaditya. King Kumaragupta of 473 A.D. has said in his Royal Charter that the Saurashtrians who were spinning silk like thread and weaving thin clothes out of it, migrated from Lata town of Saurashtra region to Mandasar of Malwa region during the Gupta period; they were called as "Pattavayahs" weavers of thin silk like cotton clothes or silk clothes. Queen Mangamma (1681-1704) of Madurai also has said in her Royal Charter that such dress makers as Pattavayar  Migrations of Saurashtraians.
In 1024 Mohamed of Ghazini attacked the area of Somnath in Kathiawar. He plundered, looted, destroyed the Temple of Somnath and carried away valuable jewels, gold, diamonds, etc. As the Saurashtrians were unable to bear the harassments, continued disturbances of their works and destruction of properties by Ghazini 17 times or so they left their beloved place and migrated to peaceful places in the North, Centre and South of India.
Some migrated to the Surat town on the banks of River Tungabadhra and then to Devagiri of Yadava Kingdom. In Devagiri or Dauladabad they lived for about 2 to 3 centuries. As the dress, culture and movements of the people there were similar to theirs they adjusted themselves and lived there. Thereby some terms and words of Varaja language got mixed with the Saurashtra language.
In 1294 the Sultan of Delhi, Alauddin Khilji and his General Malik Kafur crossed Vindhiya hills and Devagiri, waged battles with the Yadava King Ramchand. In the battle Yadava King was defeated and imprisoned. Alauddin Kiliji plundered all the properties of the people and left for Delhi. Due to this historical reason, Saurashtrians left Devagiri and migrated first to Marati Kingdom and then to Vijayanagar Empire. In that way many terms and words of Marati, Konkani and Kannada languages mingled with the Saurashtra language. Examples: Amti (curry), Limbu (Lemon), Angidi(Shop), etc.
Vijayanagar was situated near a village called Hampi in the Bellary District then. The first kings of the region were Harisharar and Bukka. Bukka sent delegates to Madurai to save Hindu Dharma and Hindu Kingdom from the destructions of Muslim rulers and established Pandyan King Rule there. When the heirs to the throne of Pandyan Kingdom were not available in 1500 Madurai came under the direct rule of Vijayanagar Empire, which was at its best under the King Krishadevaraya between 1509 and 1531. First Madurai was ruled by the General of Krishnadevaraya. Viswanatha Naicker was the first Naicker King to rule Madurai between 1558 and 1563. His Prime Minister and General, Aryanatha Naicker built the Thousand Pillar Mandapam at Madurai.
Viswanatha Naicker and his successors were defeated in the battle by Bahmani Sultan at Talikota in 1565. Vijayanagar Empire also was destroyed. At that time Saurashtrians who were living there with the full support of the kings for about 2 centuries had to leave Vijayanagar also. During that period many words and terms of Telegu language got mixed with the Saurashtra language such as Lohan (Iron), Boskanna (a festival), etc.
Between 1623 and 1659 Thirumalai Naicker was ruling in Madurai. He invited the Saurashtrians weavers to Madurai to make silk dresses for the Royal family and as a result they came down to Madurai and settled there. As time went on they settled in other places like Trichy, Tanjore, Kumbakonam, Salem, etc. in Tamil Nadu. Because of their arrival at Madurai, the town developed into a big city.
For nearly 4 centuries now they have been living in Madurai and other towns in Tamil Nadu. Not only weaving works but also all sorts of works they are doing there. Today schools, colleges, Mills and other institutions are run by them. In spite of this many people are still working as weavers and remain poor. Nobody knows the Saurashtra Script and also none reads or writes in that language. Only if this drawback is rectified, perhaps Saurashtra language can be saved in the future.
January 15, 2006
1. Indian History of Medieval Period
2. Saurashtra Nation and Saurashtra Community, an Article by Sri. N.S. Krishnamachari in the Golden Jubilee Souvenir of Sourashtra High School, Madurai, Tamil Nadu Magazine    

1 comment:

  1. Please we are not weavers, we did weaving for temple requirements
    History is told in a misleading way