pushes for Tulu rights
the ancient language spoken by about three million people in Karnataka,
has somehow eluded the recognition it deserves. Karnataka CM Dharam Singh
recently agreed to speak to PM Manmohan Singh to include it in the Eighth
Schedule of the Constitution, to give its growth a boost.
Tulu is from the Dravidian family’s five major languages, others
being Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, and Malayalam. Britannica Encyclopaedia
says it is a direct descendant of Proto-Dravidian or Moola Dravida, the
root of all Dravidian languages. Its dialects like Brahui and Malto are
still spoken in Pakistan, parts of Madhya Pradesh. Others, in Nepal and
“Tulu is better
known outside India,” says Kannada University Vice-Chancellor and
Founder President of Karnataka Tulu Sahitya Academy BA Viveka Rai, saying
universities from Germany, Japan and US have specific research programmes
devoted to Tulu. German missionaries who came to India in the 19th century
published works in Tulu like the Gospel and the Bible. But it was entirely
in the Kannada script. Its original script has been lost over centuries
due to the difficulty in preserving palm-leaf scrolls. “Its recorded
history is only a few centuries old although the language is very ancient
and has a rich oral tradition,’’ says historian Chidananda
by three million people in Karnataka, the first written work in
Tulu, the Tulu Mahabharata, is of the 15th century
The first written work in Tulu, Tulu Mahabharata, is from the 15th century.
Madhavacharya’s eight mutts in Udupi in the 13th century were said
to be centres for Tulu literature.
In the past two centuries, several scholars have written books. Former
Karnataka CM Veerappa Moily from the Tulu family formed the Karnataka
Tulu Sahitya Academy in 1994. Some have tried developing scripts too.
But with the Kannada script, efforts to unearth and use the original Tulu
script are in vain.
Being recognised by the Constitution will give it the much-needed support,
Viveka Rai says Karnataka’s mps should do their bit by raising it
in Parliament. The big question: Do Karnataka’s politicians have
the political will?