Origin of Badagas

Badaga Origin

What we DO NOT know about Badagas is more than what we know about them. Such is the mystery of Badaga Origin.



Many mistakenly claim that Badaga Origin is nothing but Badaga migration from Mysore [now in Karnataka state] 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.

Though, 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. I do not subscribe to this view and am convinced Badagas are indigenous to the Nilgiris and are one of the original tribes of the hills.  Their origin is thousands of years old. 



3 responses to “Origin of Badagas

  1. Can we simply discount the migration ideas shared by our grandparents? If at all some people migrated during Tipu Sultan time who are they? How can it be so conflicting with the stories shared by grandparents?

    No, migration theory cannot be discounted or dismissed out of hand. As I have mentioned, a group of Badagas, specially Lingaites ( Linga Kurtis), could have migrated from the Mysore plains. That does not mean that all Badagas are migrants. They are as ancient as Thodas.

    The last word on Badaga Origin has not been said. As repeatedly said, what we know about Badagas is only a fraction. Much more research is required to be done . – Wg.Cdr. Bellie Jayaprakash


  2. Dharmalingam Honorary Director

    Next to Darwin’s Origin of Species the most speculated subject in the world is the origin of the Badagas!! Community sleuths have been going around for decades with huge magnifying glasses to find that damn origin !!!! They will not rest till the bones of the first original Badaga is unearthed.!!!!!!! All my good wishes!!!!!!!!


  3. Ravikumar Joghee

    I think we as Badaga community are making a mockery of our self while discussing about Badaga history in public domain. As you are aware, all our customs, traditions, etc were passed on to the current generations only through verbal means including our history. While we still follow our value systems, culture, etc, why there is need for history research now? The search & research in our region was probably triggered due to the current initiatives of the Indian Government to correct the facts of history due to the unknown intentions of the government in post independence era. But this is not applicable to us as the community believes in traditional value system.

    Educated youngsters are used by so called ‘Badaga historians’ to propagate their quarter/half-baked theory and started propagating in social media. This situation is serious. What last generation did to the society by developing hatred within various groups and infighting, is being followed by the youngsters in the digital era. I understand the ST cause which is important. Time to think and act rationally for the self-inflicted damage being caused on the community and the region.


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