Etymology of Mudali (Mudliyar).
Posted on February 18th, 2011

Chandre Dharmawardana

TheƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ definition of a Mudilyar (Or Mudilyar thuma) (who existed in the olden era) is a very important question.
ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ In fact,ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  I think the the word Mudali is derived from the Sanskrit and Pali langauges –> Prakirt –>Elu.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ There you find the words Muhali, muhalinda,ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ muchalinda etc., and used in the Buddhist cannon, which isƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  said to have been written inƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ the 3rd century BC in Aluvihare, near Matale, long before the Tamil Sangam (chankam)
writers ever saw the light.

There is even a Buddhist story about a Naaga named Mudalinda who came andƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ protected the Buddha from a rain storm. There is also a Buddhist Jathaka storyƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ reference to a king named Mujalinda in BanareseƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  (Buridaththa Jathaka).

Muha, Mukha (and also pramukha) in the prersent context mean the first, or chiefƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ person. Mudalindu or Muda+LA+indra has the LA, I think added in as an euphonicƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ augmentation (called aagama in sinhala grammar).

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ But the word Mudali is laways INCORRECTLY, EXCLUSIVELY ascribed toƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ the Tamil word Mudliyar, because theƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  Mudliyars set up by the Portuguese, Dutch, the EnglishƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  wereƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ always mostly Tamils, as the colonials were interested in divid and rule.

The Tamil word Mudaliar came there from Kannada language to Tamil, ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ and it is very likly that these Dravidian
ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ languages got it from the Prakrit Muha or Mukha.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Kumari Jayawardene and others who have written about Karaavas, and many other authorsƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ including those who write in the Wikipedia do not go into the Sanskrit and Pali roots, but
ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ stop at Tamil.

I think we have to write something about this and publicize it, after checking with otherƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ scholars. So I will send this out on to our e-mail list – hopefully we should get some feed back from some of the experts.

7 Responses to “Etymology of Mudali (Mudliyar).”

  1. De Costa Says:

    It is extremely strange that the ultimate expert MS Mudali is still silent on this. Wait and see , he will come back with the word Modaya calling the writer. Anyway I agree that Mudali came from my race, Parangiyas.
    Dear MS Mudali,
    Welcome abroad brother !

  2. Samson Says:

    Mr Chandre

    You are absolutely right.

    There are a few connected words you forgot to add.

    Mudannayaka, Mudalinda, Muladaeni (like gam muladaeni), Mudalali, Mudala/Mudal, Moolya, Moolyama.

    There is no doubt these words have no Tamil origin. However, both Sinhala and Tamil languages have Sanskrit input. That’s where the similarities come from, not from Tamils words in Sinhala. Its Sanskrit words in both Sinhala and Tamil among other words.

  3. Samson Says:

    De Costa,

    I almost forgot our friend whose name happened to be Mudali.

    I think he is a good guy with a rough and rowdy upbringing. That’s how he got the Panchikawatta vocabulary.

  4. M.S.MUdali Says:

    In English it is MUDALI but the exact spelling is MUTHALI.
    Tamil = முதலி Sinhala =මුදලි

    The word mudali(yar) is the extension of Mudali; Chetty becomes Chettiyar.

    This word exist in Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka only.

    Author of this article barked without knowing anything about Tamil or Tamil grammar.

    During the British times MUDALIYAR became a TITLE in Sri Lanka. Because British found the ROYAL connection of the word! But MUDALIS are existing for thousands of years before the British in Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu.

    MUDALI is a simple Tamil translation for PALLAVA. Better check the meaning Pallav(a) a Sanskrit/Pali word.

  5. De Costa Says:

    Well done brother ! Only panchikawatte word was “barked”. This is a great improvement, specially on this subject.
    I am aware that Sanskrit/Pali words used by Tamisl. My Tamil friend (not the brother) and I can almost communicate quite wel in Sanskrit. But they do not accept this. They calim they learned Sangsrit to learn Hinduism. I too cannot agree the similarity between Muchalinda and Mudali – sounds very different,
    Sinhalese have learnt to handle these extremely venemous snkaes but they get bitten every now and then !

  6. Samson Says:

    De Costa,

    Indeed it is Muchalinda in Pali chronocles is the word for Mudali.

    In Pali “ch”, “j” and “t” are often used for “d” sounds.

    e.g. Majjima

    So Mu(ch)alinda is Mudalinda or Mudalindu or Mudali.

    I added a few more words to prove that it is nothing related to Tamil although concurrently Tamil too has a word as such. This must be expected because both languages have among other origins, a Sanskrit origin.


    Glad to see you have improved but there is way to go. Among the Sinhalese it is spelt Mudali.

    e.g. Lalith Athulathmudali, Mudalithuma, Mudalali.

    Pallava is not a Pali word although it may find some similar words. Mixing pali references to Pallava and Tamil refereces give hilarious outcomes. British used various South Asian local words mostly from the Indian context. Ceylon was relatively a small part of the wider Indian subcontinet for the British.

  7. M.S.MUdali Says:

    Idiots who barked here:

    MUDALI is a Tamil word and you cannot find it anywhere in Sanskrit!

    As usual Catholic monkeys are jumping to define HINDU or Tamil.

    Go and check Madras city. Half of the road names are MUDALI streets!

    Totally you guys cannot find anything about Pallava or Muthali or Mudali(English) from Catholic Nazi propaganda!

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