In the beginning, in view of incomplete data in respect of pre-1800 AD, this presentation was planned from 1800 AD so that whatever discussed here can be substantiated. After fourth draft, it was planned to add a chapter at the end discussing the data collected during the preparation of this presentation. When the final draft was ready, it was felt that this chapter should be included as first chapter so that the presentation is complete and chronologically correct. A comprehensive Mogaveera History needs to be written by a Mogaveera and I am making a beginning. The presentation in this chapter needs to be elaborated and expanded.
Lack of Education
Mogaveeras do not have written history documented by their own people. This is because of the fact that Mogaveera community members got education very late. A little education in the beginning, only allowed them to have the job of ‘Senava’ (accountant of Grama Sabhas and later Rampani). The next to come are some primary teachers etc. who could not write or keep any record of the history of the community. All these because of the occupation of fishing which in the earlier days was not a bad proposition as it fetched food and cash for their survival. Opportunities for the educated were limited and the efforts needed to get educated, it appears, not commensurate with the time and cost involved.
Lack of written History
One cannot say that a community does not have its exclusive written history from the inception, i.e did not exist from the beginning of the civilisation. In other words, the existence of the community is certain but for lack of recorded facts; it was difficult to trace its roots. In such a case, the only way to bridge the gap between known and unknown periods is to fall on reasonable hypothesis and draw reasonable conclusions.
Analysis of Available Records
Before touching the subject, enlisting of the available information is necessary. These can be categorized as writing of foreign travellers, eminent local scholars, research scholars and Mogaveera writers who have written about Mogaveera community. Without going into details of their writings, these sources are dealt with hereafter.
Foreign Travelers’ Writings
During the course of understanding the above subject, I had gone through several books written by other than Mogaveeras. Uniform references of a few authors were made. Important ones which refer to origin of Mogaveeras are that of foreign travelers, Francis Buchanan (A Journey Through the Provinces of Mysore, Malabar and Coimbatore – 1807), J. Sturssock (Madras District Manuals – South Kanara -1894), E.Thurston (Castes and Tribes of South India – 1909) etc. Many authors have also quoted Madras Province Gazette notification of the state and district of undivided South Kanara. It is important to note that these were extensively quoted by all the authors.
Local scholars’ writings
Two eminent researchers of coastal Karnataka, Rasthra Kavi Shri Govinda Pai (Tuluva) and Shri Gururaj Bhat ( Studies in Tuluva History and Culture – 1975) have also made reference to Mogaveera community but it may be taken as a passing reference.
Research Scholars’ writings
There are a few recent research works of Shri Venkatraj Punichattaya (Mogaveera Samskrithi – Karnataka Sahitya Acadamy -1993), School of Social Works (A study of Ullal Village, Mangalore – 1976), M. Verite (A research Dissertation on the Fishing Community at Bengre, Mangalore – 1968) and Dr. G.R. Krishna (Castes and Tribes of Fishermen – 1993) have given first hand information about Mogaveera community. One good thing about all these books is that authors travelled and lived among Mogaveeras in their villages. One significant fact emerges is that all have referred to the same sources mentioned in the penultimate paragraph.
Mogaveera writers’ contribution
Our own Mogaveera writers have also given account of the Mogaveera History. Shri S. B. Kundar (ex-editor of Mogaveera) and one of the person who studied the subject thoroughly, is the first person to write extensively on the origin of Mogaveeras, customs etc. Shri Shankar Hosbettu (ex-editor of Mogaveera) has practically documented the entire Mogaveera organisation, such as, Shreemadhbharath Mandali, Mumbai, Shree Kulamahastree Ammanavara Temple, Bennekuduru, Kulaguru Parampara, Mogaveera Vyavasthapaka Mandali, Mumbai and Mogaveera Yuvaka Sangha, Mumbai. Shri T.C.Shriyan, Thonse (Surtkal), Shri Narayana Bangera, Mithrapatna, Ramachandra Baikampadi , Shri Upendra Hosabettu (Suratkal), Shri Bhaskar Bangera, Ullal, Shri Ashok Suvarna, S K Uchila (Author) etc. have also shed lot of light on the subject of Mogaveera history. This list is not exhaustive but given only to indicate that our own people have also started contributing on the subject.
History of Parasurama Shristi only
Written material on Mogaveera community covers only their existence at so called Parasurama Shrasti i.e in undivided South Kanara district. It also suggests that history of Mogaveera community during this period is invariably inter-mingled with the history of Tuluva communities. In other words, the Mogaveera history during their stay at the seashore and interiors of Parasurama Shrasti were recorded and beyond their existence at Parashurama Shrasti remains unsettled.
Tracking back from known to unknown
Normal method is to start from the origin and reach the present habitat. In our case, it is difficult and may lead to confusion. Therefore, it is felt that it is better to have a road map starting back from our present habitat of coastal Karnataka (Mangalore, Udupi and Kundapurn Talukas) to trace the earlier habitat from where our ancestors may have come. For the purpose of study of origin of Mogaveeras, we can divide the study into: Start from the present habitat near sea shore with occupation as fishing and our religious practices centered their temples, “Moolasthana”, Daivasthana where our identity as Mogaveeras is documented.
Before coming to coastal Karnataka, our ancestors stayed away at interiors of Tulu Nadu with occupation of inland fishing and agriculture and religious practices centered on “Aadi” etc. and Mogaveeras had unified identity with Tuluva communities but fishing was their main occupation.
Before coming to Parasurama Srasti, our ancestors habitats was at Deccan Plateau where they were part of fishermen community had practiced inland fishing and agriculture. Mogaveera Brotherhood communities are still living at Deccan Plateau who is mainly known as “Gangamatha” communities.
Before coming to Deccan Plateau, our ancestors’ habitats were at Gangetic basin which can be supported by references in Ramayana, Mahabharatha etc. A reference can also be made to Mauryan Empire which extended to up to part of Tamil Nadu. At this stage, Mogaveeras were part of larger group of fishermen.
Before migrating to Gangetic basin, the fishermen (our ancestors) originally resided at Harappan civilization sites at Sindh River Basin.
This approach not only gives a road map and it helps connecting places across the route. However, tracing the route our ancestors took from their original habitat to the present habitat is logically correct. Therefore, the narration begins with original habitat from Sindh River basin.
Forward Journey from Sindh Basin
The above backward route from seashores of Karnataka towards Sindhu River basin is given to logically explain the migration process which is based on the facts and subsequent events can be easily connected. Having said that, the journeys through this route from Sindh River basin to seashores of Karnataka needs further explanation and justification. However, before venturing into this, certain important facts need to be understood.
First aspect to be noted is that fishermen community has always been connected to fishing and navigation from inception as they lived either in river basins or near other water resources.
Second aspect is that Mogaveeras are part of the broad category of fishermen community and they have no separate identity till they settled down at interiors of Tuluva Nadu and coastal Karntaka. With this remarks, the forward journey from Sindh River basin to seashore of coastal Karnataka is dealt with.
Origin at Sindh River Basin
It is a fact that one third of the world is covered by water. This is also true that India is also covered from three sides by sea and several major and minor rivers flow into seas. There are umpteen numbers of other water resources, such as, swamps, lakes, tanks and artificial water resources, such as, reservoirs, water transport canals etc. All these are potential source of fish and opportunity for navigation. These basic sources of water are the places where fishermen always lived by fishing and navigation. After 1920, when first discovery of Indus Valley or Harappan civilization was made and series of excavations took place, the assumption that origin of civilization started around the river Indus (Sindu) consisting of portion of Afghanistan from west, whole of present Pakistan and North India up to Gangetic basin was established. The old sites unearthed were Mohenjo-daro which are on Indus river basin and Harappan which is on Ravi river basin were considered well advanced cities of that period. The period of this civilization is around 5000 B.C. (some scholars say 7000 B.C.) to 3000 B.C. Without going into how many years the above civilization was in existence, it is sufficient to take note of the fact that Indus Valley civilization was the cradle of civilization from where civilization spread into whole Indian continent. Another important fact to note here is that this civilization flourished around water resources of river Sindu and its tributaries. Many artefacts found include the ‘fish’ and hunting instruments show that fishing was one of the occupations in that civilization. The vast net works of rivers substantiate this fact. Therefore, a fisherman community was part of this civilization is to be accepted. One of Mogaveera writer, Shri S.B. Kundar, Ex-Editor of Mogaveera, is of the opinion that ancestors of Mogaveeras may have originally came from Indus Valley. The presumption appears to be correct.
At Sindh River Basin
According to historians, Harappan civilization’s spread was from Afganisthan from south to the beginning of Gangatic belt. Some scholars believe that after its peak period, this civilisation spread to Gujarat (east) and Gangetic belt (north). This civilization started declining around 3000BC and the settlers in this region spread into other parts of India. In that event, the fishing communities like Mogaveeras were likely to seek the location of Gangatic belt where ample opportunity for fishing existed. This period of stay of fishermen (including Mogaveeras) at the Sindhu basin may be placed from 5000 BC to 3000 BC.
Journey towards Gangatic Basin
Harappan civilization started declining from this region in its original form around 3000 B.C. due to various reasons which are not necessary for this discussion. When the civilization was fading away, the people from this region started migrating into Gangetic basin. Some scholars are of the opinion that a mighty river Saraswathi, which is often referred to in Vedic literature, flowed from Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan into Gujarat (length was around 700 miles) to join Arabian Sea in Kutch. This mighty river has vanished but is now established to exist sixty feet below the surface by satellite photography. Therefore, migrating towards Gujarat for fishermen may not be beneficial as river basin was not available. The fishermen among these migrating people may have chosen to migrate into Gangetic basin as there existed ample opportunity to carry on their fishing trade along with agricultural operations on fertile land. The other fact to be taken into account is that Gujarat has deep water seashore which is not conducive for fishing at that time when less developed fishing tools were available. The fishermen who migrated into Gangetic basin were also good navigators who worked to ferry the travelers across the rivers. These aspects were referred to in several scriptures also. Many incidents can be cited from Ramayana, Mahabharatha etc.
Journey towards Deccan Plateau
This brings us to the next question why these fishing communities migrated to Deccan Plateau? Shri Narayana Bangera is of the opinion that the Mogaveeras have migrated from Gangetic basin following Shree Rama (when he went to Shree Lanka) during his banishment to forest. Vagaries of unpredictable tributaries of Ganga were a constant threat for the people living in Gangetic basin. These uncertainties may also be one of the reasons for seeking a better place for residence by the fishing community.
Now, we have statistical data about the Inland Fisheries of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh States which say that more fishermen still live fishing in water resources like lakes, tanks, rivers etc. compared to the fishermen engaged in marine (sea) fishing. It is also a fact that there are more than 39 fishermen communities still living in Deccan Plateau of Karnataka State alone. For more details, please see the discussion under the head “Mogaveera Community” & “Fishing” (Statistical information - Mogaveera Occupation). A significant fact is that at Deccan Plateau we still find fishermen communities known as “Gangamath” “Ganga Makkalu” (Ganga Makkalu mean children of Ganga). The fact that now all the 39 fishermen communities of Inland and Marine fishing communities consider themselves as brotherhood communities and want to be considered as one community which were called in different names may be recalled. Major portion of these fishermen communities are still residing at Deccan Plateau and pursuing inland fishing. For more details, please see chapter “Mogaveera Community”.
At Deccan Plateau
It is also a fact that all the communities lived in Parasurama Shrasti were migrants as Parashurama Strasti was a fallow/marshy land which was reclaimed. This fact was accepted by all as the land reclaimed by Shree Parsurama and the story need not be repeated here. Whether the story is true or false, the fact is that the so called Parsurama Shrasti was either covered by sea or marshy land which was not fit for living in the beginning and was reclaimed gradually. Therefore, the Tuluva communities lived here might certainly have come from other place. A sure shot inference should be that all these communities have come from Deccan plateau into Parasurama Shrasti cannot be refuted. Shri T.C.Shriyan has always maintained that this theory appears to be correct as the people from Deccan Plateau looking down from ghats were enticed by the prospects of fishing and opportunity for agricultural operations. The swamp land with lot of opportunity to fish might have attracted predominantly fishing community of Mogaveeras into this land. Fishermen’s (Mogaveeras) stay at Deccan Plateau may be placed between 2000 BC to the beginnings of BC.
At Interiors of Tulu Nadu
Mogaveeras before adopting fishing as their primary occupation and migrated toward seashore have lived deep inside Tulu Nadu but within the Parasurama Shrasti. This period can be fixed between beginnings of AD to 1000 AD. During this period, Mogaveeras have depended upon inland fishing and agriculture for supplementing their requirements from fishing activities. During this period, Mogaveeras were part of the community worship of “Bhootharadhane” (“Daivadharane”), “Aadi” etc. The detailed discussion on Bhootharadhane, Aadi etc. is given under the chapter Mogaveera Religious Practices which may please be referred. It is not out of place to add here that Mogaveera Moolasthanas are replica of Aadi accept “Siri” every other divinities are worshipped including “Kumara” in some Moolasthanas. For more details about “Moolasthanas”, please see chapter “Mogaveeras Religious Practices”. All the religious practices of Mogaveeras and other Tuluva communities were the same during this period. All temples in this region are places of worship for all communities.
Journey towards Seashore
Tuluva communities settled in interior places of Parasurama Shrasti who had a common religious practice but were divided into several communities based on the work they adopted for earning their living. A common means of living remained to be agriculture which was practiced by all. At this time, a distinct Mogaveera community came into existence adopting fishing as a main occupation. Mogaveeras being fishermen started to explore the option of fishing at sea as it was a vast source of fish. The improvements in nets and boats encouraged them to consider fishing at sea a better option. Gradually, the seashore became their destination. This tempted them to settle down near seashore particularly when “Rampani” was introduced. A further incentive was that the land near seashore was unmarked and was available for constructing their home and creating fishing related facilities. Mogaveeras address their sea as “Ganga Matha” and not Arabian Sea.
Coastal Karnataka seashore
Mogaveeras lived in coastal Karnataka from about a thousand years. The histories of Bennekudur Temple at the north end and Ullal village Daivasthanas at southern end corroborate this fact. Some Mogaveera Moolasthans claim to be in existence for more than 600 years i.e.since 1500 AD. Much more can be cited. Mogaveeras presence at Mumbai can be placed at around 1800 AD. The concentration of Mogaveera settlements near coastal area intensified after 1900 AD when “Rampani” was introduced. Therefore, Mogaveeras stay near seashore around their temples, Moolasthans, Daivasthanas can be reasonably placed at from 1000 AD till date.
Road Map only
The prelude is only a road map and broad description of the route traversed by our ancestors who were part of fishermen community. Many facts, data, information etc. which needs documentation have not been discussed, as it might lead to unwarranted discussion. I hope in future a Mogaveera scholar will write well documented and detailed ancient history. With this hope, as I have already stated, a beginning is made to present the the current history of Mogaveera Community.