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Badaga Origin

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.
Tipu Sultan
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-old 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.


But given the diversity but the highly commendable unity and uniformity with minor changes in their customs, Badaga Migration, in all probability, has taken place even within the Nilgiris Hills reverently called ‘Naakku Betta’ by the Badagas.


What we DO NOT know about Badagas is more than what we know about them. Such is the mystery of Badaga Origin.
[Read the complete article with what the Tamil epics mention about Badagas that may give a glimpse of  Badaga Origin here]

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