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.
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
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.
ORIGIN & HISTORY
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.
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.
BEARY ARE NOT MOPLAHS
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
- 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
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.