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Beary History



The Beary is a small Muslim community concentrated mostly in ancient Tulu Nadu, which includes coastal districts of Dakshina Kannada & Udupi in Karnataka State. It is an ethnic society having its own unique traditions and distinct cultural identity. Bearys have an important cultural tradition similar to that of Navayaths of Konkan Coast and Moplahs of Malabar. The Main Identity of Bearys Is a suffix 'BEARY' for Men and 'Beardy' for Women with names as recorded in the Couchman Survey Records of 1891 and they have a closer Cultural amity to the tradition of Tulunadu. Bearys incorporate not only the Tulu culture, but also the diverse traditions of Moplahs of Malabar. The Bearys are Muslims in faith and belongs to the SHAFI school of Islamic Jurisprudence.

The Bearys are the earliest Muslim Community in Tulunadu and one among The earliest Muslim population of India with a clear history of more than 1200 years. Tulu folk song 'PADDANAS' and many other records explain their incorporated relation to Tulunadu & its Culture.

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The Word 'BEARY' is said to be derived from the Tulu word 'BEARA', which means trade or business. Since early times a majority of these people were involved in business activities. the local Tuluvas called them as BEARYS. According to the CENSUS of 1891, the UNDIVIDED DAKSHINA KANNADA had 90,345Beary Businessmen that was about; 97 per cent of total businessmen. Hence, they were rightlyy referred to as BEAERYS or businessmen


The Bearys are the progeny of the early Arab Traders and the local native inhabitants of undivided Dakshina kannada District including Mangalore, Udupi & Kasargod Districts.

The Bearys being a trader community settled in the banks of the rivers and coastal belt attached to the backwaters, mainly from ULLALA to MULKY in Mangalore Coast and KASARAGOD to MANJESHWAR in Kasargod Coast covering an extent of 15 Kilometers in each river mouth, which was navigable by boats, were the early location of Bearys. Islam appeared in these coasts as early as 7th century A.D.

Gradualy, they got scattered as far as the neighbouring Districts of Kodagu, Chikmagalure, Hassan. & Shimoga. Since 1950 Bearys are spread not only across India, but also in Gulf Countries, America, Australia & Other Countries. They are also settled in Mega cities like Bangalore, Mumbai, Goa & Mysore. At present The Beary Population is above 15 lakhs spread all over the world.

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The origin of the Beary Community has not been documented well. Scholars like D. Sushila Upadhyaya Prof. B.M. Ichlangod have attempted to trace the origin. It is revealed that the contacts of Arab traders with Tulunadu created a progeny and community in Tulunadu. With advent of Islam, The Arabs involved in propagation of their faith along with promoting trading interest. During early centuries there existed a feudal society in tulunadu and casteism was rampant Tulunadu. The Arabs attracted the local inhabitants to Islam by their generousity, honesty & disciplined in lifestyle. It was a common fact that similar Arab contacts created new communities in Malabar, Konkan, Koramandal coast in different names, such as Moplas, Navayaths & Labbais.

This Theory of Arab social interchange with Southern Coast leading to the emergence of new communities is supported by prominent Scholars like Tarachand. Thomas Arnold, Saletore & Many Historians.Those who converted to Islam belonged to the low castes & local faiths but they retained their good relations with the local people. The MANNERS COLLECTIONS (Padthanas) 1886 refers to two groups of Bearys Viz., Jathi Neethi Bearys & Jathi Setty Bearys. Jathi Neethi Bearys were highly honoured by the local people. They followed Islamic faith & discipline. But, other group, Just pronounced the KALIMAH ( Oath of Islam) and adhered to the community without islamic practices. Their names also resembld the local names such as Andu, Seku, Bappa, Sadu, Saidu etc.

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The propagation of Islam in Malabar and Tulunadu is attributed to the DINAR MISSIONARY. It is said that on Ceylonese pilgrim Sheikh Sikauddin visited Kodungallur (Cranganore), the capital of King Cheruman and narrated the story of the splitting of the moon at Makkah. The king had already dreamt this event and when he realized this as a miracle of the Prophet, he aspired to meet the Prophet at Makkah. His name was Abdulrehman Samiri and his wife was called Rehabia. He died on his way back and entrusted the task of Propagation to his associates Malik Bin Deenar and his family. The Deenar set out to work in the Malabar coast. KERALOLPATTY an early literary work in Malayalam and Logans Malabar Manual Vol 1 refer to 10 mosques established by these missionaries including the three mosquest in Tulunadu, Kasaragod (Kanyarode), Mangalore (Manjalur) & Barkur (Bakkarur). They appointed Qadhi (Khazi) to each of these centres. They were Ibrahim, Musa and Mahmood, sons of Malik bin Habib. Logan says this account of introduction of Islam into Malabar and Tulunadu is reliable. Among these mosques and Muslim centres, the one in Barkur vanished later on due to lack of patronage. Thereafter may SUFI saints like Baba Fakhruddin, Sayyad Shareef ul Madani and Many others visisted and propagated Islam in these localities. This community in Malabar is known as MOPLAHS and they adopted the local tongue Malayalam as their language. Owing to this extraordinary influence of Moplah propagation Bearys were also known as Moplahs in Tulunadu. Thought they were distinguished as Bearys with suffix as “BEARY” were referred as Moplah Caste untill recently in all revenue records. In later part of 20th Century, scholars like Prop.B.M. Ichlangodu called for independent identity for the Bearys.

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The historians   and writers referred to the Bearys as Moplahs or Mapillas because of Moplah influence and wrongly recorded caste reference. Prof. B. Ichlangodu Strongly pleaded with evidences that Bearys were not Moplans in his thesis ‘Muslims of Tulunadu (MS)’.

  • The Bearys are proud of using suffix ‘Beary’. It was a common tradition of Tulunadu referring to their independent social status such as SHETTY, HEGDE, ALVA, KAMATH ETC. Moplahs are reluctant to use suffixes. In Malabar records it is rarely found.

  • The Beary dialect is also wrongly referred as Moplah. Dr. Sushila Upadhyaya in her Ph.D. thesis ‘Mapilla Malayalam’ referred to as number of exclusive features in this dialect. :

  • This dialect has TULU grammar which is difference from Malayalam.
  • It has a large number of Tulu words, more than 50%. In Moplah Malayalam Tulu words are rarely found.
  • There are Malayalam words in use. But many of the popularly used words are not in this dialect. Use of Sankrit words are hardly found.
  • Arabic and Persian words are commonly used.
  • The pronunciation and tone of the dialect are entirely different.

These features show that Beary dialect is difference from Malayalam.

3) The Beary dialect has no script. A few records are found showing that Beary used a script known as BATTEBARAHA. The script is identified as Batteluthu, an early Tulu script. There are many changes in usage of letters and form. This was not found in Malayalam. It is said that modern Malayalam script was evolved out of this script.

4) Bearys were in service of feudal families known as Jain Beedus and Guthus. There were more than 200 Jain Beedus and also a good number of Guthus in Thulunadu. Bearys are familiar to Tulu dialect also. This was an advantage for them to be employed by them. No Moplahs were found in their service. Some writers however wrongly referred to them as Moplahs.

5) The best example of feudal trading associations were Jain VARTHAKA SANGHAS. They had a numerical feature having 16 or 8 members. The Beary feudal set up known as PADINARAGA was similar to that. The Hanjamanas (Anjuman) were also influenced by them. Most of the cultural activities were influenced by Jains. The Moplahs have no such Jain & Local influence.

6) The name of early Bearys had a great influence of local Tuluvas, For example BAPPA, Sadhuri, Sayiri, Kayiri, Ummathu, Bipamma, Kunhumma etc. Moplahs do not have such names.

7) The ISLAM system prevailed in the early Beary Socialy resembles BARI (Bali) system of the Bunts. It was matrimonial in nature. This is not found amount the Moplahs.

8) There was a type of feudal reflection among the early Bearys. Some people were treated as low categories. Thalaillathavaru, which means people of low status. VASSAS, who were professional Butchers and Circumcision Specialists and Baduvas, who are similar to that of slaves belonged to this group. They were not allowed to participate in functions like OPPANAS, THALAS etc.did not have any rich system the Moplahs.

These and many much distinct characters show that Bearys are differrent from Moplahs. Being the largest community among the Muslims of Tulunadu, their cultural contribution has also been remarkable.

The available sources refer to the Arab Muslims contact with the Malabar coast and Tulunadu to 7th Century A.D. Henry Miers Eliot, H.G. Rowilson support this view. Strurrock in his Malabar Dt. Manual says that Arab businessmen settled in Malabar and Tulunadu coast during 7th century.

Mangalore is one of the most important centre of Bearys. It was known as Kudla by Tuluvas. But, Bearys referred to it as Mykala. It was said that the name was derived from the Missionaries of NATHA Panth Centres. It is said that Goddess Maya Devi settled in Kadri & it became a famour centre of worship. Hence Mayakala became Mykala. Prof. Ichlangodu does not subscribe this view. He refers to the propagation of Nathapantha, by Mangaladevi, who came from Kerala along with her disciples and settled at Mangalore. Her influence was well established in Tulunadu. A temple was built at Jeppu and it became a famous centre of worship. This place even today is known as MANGALADEVI. The Malayalis call Mangalore as Mangalapura, which means town of Mangala. The Beary version of Mangala is Mykala. This view is generally accepted. The term Mangalore is also said to be MANGALA-URU, which means the land of Mangala.

The Bearys flourished by their proxinity to Jains. In 16th century the local Jain families like Chautas, Bangas & Ajilas encouraged their trade and services. They made their Mark as the most trusted servants. References are found on services rendered by Bearys Rani Abbakka of Ullala. They also served as freedom fighters and became soldiers of Rani Abbakka against Portuguese. They also participated in the freedom struggle against the British. During the rule of Hyder Ali and Tippu Sultan many Beary leaders served as prominent officials. SADHURI Beary’s march against the British army is a memorable event. After the fall of Tippu Sultan Bearys were honoured by the British too. A few of the leaders were honoured as BAHADURS and KHAN BAHADURS. With the fall of British power and disappearance of feudal leaders the Beary power also diminished. Lack of leadership and prominence made the Bearys to lose their social status. Now a new era of Beary awakening has begun and a new leadership and literary and culture at spears is leading the Community towards prosperity.

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