More on Munda Mythology

March 27, 2009

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This blog is in continuation of my earlier Munda Mythology. Now I shall write two more folk-tales about Munds’and earth- origin .In one of them, in the beginning the earth was covered with water and there was no life in the universe. One day Singbonga (Sun-God)- the Supreme Authority was brooding over water. His pleasurable water-play caused creation of a kachual (crab), a karakon (crab) and a leech. Those three are the first living organisms in the world. The creatures requested the Sing Bonga about their difficulty of living with water. On hearing, SingBonga ordered them to bring a lump of clay (hasa) from the depth of ocean. Tortoise and the crab failed to do it. The leech went deep and deep to the ocean and finally found bit clay from the depths of the ocean and gifted to the Supreme Sing Bonga. SingBonga by his power transformed the bit of clay into the earth. This is the origin of earth. Then, the Almighty created different kinds of trees, plants, & herbs on the earth. Thereafter, He created birds and animals.
The bird Swan that he created laid an egg. The first human beings as a boy and a girl came out from the egg. They were innocent and living with out sex. Just recall the story of Adam and Eve! What a similarity! SingBonga pointed out some vegetables’ roots and asked the pair to prepare haria (rice beer). The pair acted accordingly and consumed haria. On getting it they were intoxicated and lost passions. Finally began to live as a married couple. They gave birth to horo honkos (human children).At first, three sons were born one after another. The first one was Munda, followed by Nana and Koran.

In the next I shall give the other story.

There is another story concerning the growth of Mundas on the earth. This folk-tale is from the Western part of Midnapore district, West Bengal. Debashis Debnath has referred this folk-tale in his book entitled Ecology and Rituals in Tribal Areas.

Tota Haram commonly referred to, as Khasra Kora was the first male in the world. On the other hand Tota Buri-nicknamed Tarakuri was the first woman there. They were living together innocently with out any sex. Sing Bonga –the Sun God was anxious over their friendly relationship. The God wanted that the pair should give birth to offsprings. They should live like married couple. How to make them engaged for giving birth to off springs had been the sole deliberation of the Supreme. All on sudden the God found a couple of monkeys sitting in a branch of tree in an indecent way. He ordered them to come out but they did not heed to him. The God charged them for disobedience. At last He came to know that the monkeys were intoxicated by drinking the water of the nearby river. Again Sing Bonga found roots of a specific tree caused water intoxicated. On knowing this He got the cue. Soon he ordered Khasra Kora & Tarakuri to bring a special grass grown in the field. They brought soa-seed admixture with rice. By the order of SingBonga they separated soa from the mixture and grounded those seeds and made paste. Finally, they prepared a number of globules. Then they added globules to the boiled rice. The Haria was made. SingBonga asked the couple to consume Haria (rice beer). They did and got intoxicated. Under that situation they forgot their friendly relationship and began to live as married couple. The end result was creation of progenies. These progenies represent the Mundas.

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More Folk-Tales: Munda

March 27, 2009

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Swaraks:  TheJain Descendants

 

During sixth century India was divided into sixteen Mahajanapada or Great states. For example kingdom of Magadha consists of Patna-Gaya region. Similarly Anga referred to Monghyr region. Likewise Vriji-Lichavi republic was represented by the North Bihar. Within Vriji or Vajra a specific zone was called Ladha covering Chotanagpur or truncated Manbhum or the present Purulia district of West Bengal.

 Mahabir- 24th Tirthankar of Jain cult belonged to the Vajrabhum. He was the scion of the Naya or Nath or Jnata clan of Vaisali. Vaisali was the then capital of Vrajabhum. His father was Siddharta-the chief(kulapati) of Naya clan.Mahabir’s mother was Trisala-called Vaidehi,or Vedeha devi or Videhodatta and she was the sister of King Cetahag of Vaisali.

Jain canonical works: Acaranga sutra, Kalpasutra & Bhagavati Sutra  contains on the life history of Mahabir. Mahabir realized the perfect knowledge – Kevala Jnana under a Sal tree. Sal is a sacred tree in the Vraja region and also a religious tree of the tribal of the area.

Mahabir went through the Ladha(Manbhum) in his pre-kevalin days and met uncivilized inhabitants in his journey. The are was dark,jungled and inhabitated by tribals (Kols,Hos?). However, in later period  Jainism became popular in Manbhum region. The numerous ruined or standing Jain temples witness the spread of Jainism in Manbhum ,i.e, in purulia disrict.  Those mega-temples are seen on the banks of Kasai or Damodar or Subranarekha river. A strong  evidence of presence of Saraks are being observed where jain temples stand.

 

H.Riseley’s Survey in Bihar and Bengal in 1882 &1888  found them well settled in Manbhum. Riseley referred to them as a small caste of Chotanagpur. According to him they are “ Hinduised remnant of the early Jain people”. While discussing about Saraks in Manbhum-Purulia he mentioned:

  • They contrasted with Mundas& Kols by complexion, regular feature& peculiarity of wearing the hair in knob rather high on the back of the head.
  • Saraks are involved mainly with trade and agricultural pusuits. They also act as money lenders.They are relatively a  rich community
  • They are followers of Ahimsa principle. Under the British Government they were not convicted of heinous crime
  • Saraks do not eat till they see the sun
  • They venetrate Parsanath
  • Against taking life

 

Referring to the Census 1901, S.C.Roy mentioned that 10,500 Saraks had been in Manbhum. They are mostly concentrated at Raghunathpur, Para ,Gaurandi P.S. Further ,Roy referred to this class coming from Chotanagpur crossing Damodar river and arriving at Panchet. From Panchet theuy spread to the Purulia district. Raghunathpur or Para are near to Panchet. All along these areas we can find Saraks. Additionally ,relics of Jain temples,images are found in those areas.

Local legends to the saraks the ruined jain temples & defaced images of the Tirthankars.

 

 

MUNDA MYTHOLOGY

March 17, 2009

munda-tribe21Chotanagpur plateau of Eastern India is the land of tribes. Of them Munda-tribe represents the major tribal group spread over the region.  The Mudas are an endogamous tribe. They are patrilineal, patrilocal and patriarchal. In past, Mudas used to live on collective basis, and they had their own dormitory system of living, known as Gitora system. However, with the passage of time the system is almost at wane state. Private or individual system has become the way of life.

Mundas believe in numerous Gods and deities. The Supreme God is called Singbonga. Next are the Deities of the villages, viz; Hatu Bogkao. Desauli,Jather Buri, Chandi Bonga are village deities. The Deities are worshipped at different occasions of farming as well as hunting.  In every Munda village one can see sacred grove. The Pahan, the village priest worships those Groves (SAMAS).  Mudas also believe in spirits. The deity of spirit is Ova Bongaka.  Their blessings are invoked on every social and religious ceremony.

 

There is no recorded history of their origin. Oral story of their origin is interesting. According to the story, Sing Bonga, the Sun God created a boy and a girl. They married and their family grew to twelve of either sex. When they came to an age to shift themselves,SingBonga divided them into pairs and placed food of different kinds before them. On choice of food they got their descendents. . Those who took vegetables became the ancestors of higher order and were the origins of Brahmin. Those who took pigs became the lowest of all social orders. Santhals belong to this category. Similarly, the Kols are from that pair who took buffalo’s flesh. …. The last couple had nothing to consume from the food-.basket. They had to beg form others. This unfortunate pair gave the offsprings who are known as Ghasis. Ghazis do not work but depend on charity. They are musicians. They are called at the time of funeral or wedding. They sing with drums, kettledrums, horns and pipes and in return get food and others.

 

Submerged Heritage:INDIA

March 10, 2009

Jain Temple:1872

Jain Temple:1872

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Now I am  to bring you another heritage spot in Purulia district of West Bengal. The place is at Deulghata-six k.m.s away from the Jaipur station. At the bank of Kasai-river, a good number of temples with jains touch were made in asingle cluster basis. Near to Deulghata-about one K.m away ther is remaining of another temple at deulpara.

At present three such similar temples are remaining at Deulghata. Two of such temples are almost abandoned.  The architectural characteristics display that they were Jain-temples. Parsanath-the 23rd Tirthankar travelled through these places. Documentation of these temples were referred by Beglar. Sinmilarly Hunter cited the place in his treasue -An account of Bengal: Manbhum.

At Deulghata we can see a Shva made in Granite. The Shiva is unique as its parts are to be seperated and joined by manual power.I have never seen such giganti Shiva-linga in Bengal. Apartfrom. there are so many stone curved images are observed in Deulghata. A eight-handed Durga  is most attractive . The place is ideal for ecotorism.Recently,Government is attempting to renovate the place.

Naga-Fort

The above picture is the remaining of Naga Dynasty. Nagas ruled the Chotanagpur Plateau during medieval period. They were cultured and powerful  although  belonged to the non-aryan race.

The history of their coming in the Chotanagpur is an unsolved subject. However, there is a very interesting mythological story which nagas often quote. It rus as follows:

Raja Jammejaya- a powerful aryan king wanted to kill the Naga race. For this he arranged the Sarpa-yaja( Worshipping). At his vow, Sarpas(Serpents) were frightened – killed and many of them migrated. There was a Serpent named Pundarika.  Pudarika was master of all magical skills. He transformed himself as a Brahmin-guy and came to Benaras. There he had been in love with Parbathi. Finally,they were married. Everything was o.K. but the weary was that Pundarikha could not assumed the full-structure of human-being. His tongue was forked-bearing the tongue of snake-his origins.Thus,Pundarikha seldom spoke to Parbathi face to face. At the time of bed he was avoiding his face to Parbathi lest she discovered the thing. But sooner Parvati noticed it and wanted to know the causes of such forked-tongue. Pundarika  always avoided such query and to divert Parvati planned to visit Puri-the known & famous pilgrimage.On returning back they were at Chotanagpur. They were seeing the picturesque of the place and gossiping. Again again Parvati was asking about forked-tongue. Her nagging  and constant query made Pundarikha unnerved. Pundarikha told the truth and being ashemed jumed into a pool from where he never returned. At that time Pundarikha was carring baby. She gave birth to a child. She was also in  vey mournful stateShe also jumped into the pond to free herself abandoning her child.

A Brahmin priest who was passing by the pond with idol sun-God took a rest there and drank water from the pond. At that moment he saw a child was playing with a snake. He was frightened. Suddenly he found that the snake was speaking to him. The sanke disclosed that he was Pundarikha and narrated the whole story. Pundarikha said thae child would be the king of  Chotanagpur. Pundarika also requested him to take care of the child. The snake vanished in the pool with uttering such few words.

The child became king. He was known as PhaniMukut Rai.