Origin Of Bathudis: Myths and Legends

Dr. Biyotkesh Tripathy

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The Story of Creation and the Origin of the Bathudis
Teller: Kaibalya Nayak [M 30 (Religious work). Village: Pahad Madak (Karanjia, Mayurbhanj). Date: 13 Oct. 1999. Cassette No. 126; O. Tr. Pp. 6940-63. Status: As told (minor editing; interview edited). Type: Myth-legend. Translator: Biyotkesh Tripathy].

These, all these our folklore, are in spoken words, proverbs and such. These are not revealed to others. Why? If we say these now we can’t provide right evidence. People will question and argue. They will say we want to show ourselves as high caste. They are performing high rituals. That’s why we don’t say these things. Of course, we tell those who have genuine interest. There is a saying with us: "Those who laugh at Badam’s words, don’t tell these secrets to such birds." This is not done. But you are so keenly interested, and I, somehow, feel it to be an auspicious moment, so I’m talking to you.

Our origin is, I mean, we are of Badam’s descent. What our culture says, what our forefathers have said, we are descended from Badam. And others are descended from Brahma. Their origin is Brahma. Our origin is from our Badam.

Then, at the beginning, what happened was, our He, the Unwritten One, he, what he did was, he started creating. When he was asleep, in what is called Yoga Maya, the goddess rubbed his feet with her hands. When she did this, dirt peeled off from his feet. From it were born two demons, rakhyasas. You see, at that time, everywhere there was only water. And two rakhyasas were born; they were Madhu Kaiteu rakhyasas. As you can imagine, their nature was demonic. When they saw the goddess, Mahamayi, they were struck by lust. They wanted to enjoy her. She understood that they wanted her and she knew that she could not tackle them. If she awakened the Shapeless One, he could destroy them. But then, she was the mother; she would not awaken him since he was asleep. She would not disturb his sleep.

So what she did was, she used her wit. She said to the two rakhyasas, ‘Look, see the one that is sleeping? If you can awaken him, then I’ll become your woman.’ Then the two, what they did was, they awakened him. The Shapeless One understood everything, about their intentions. So he killed them by cutting them into pieces. At that time there was water all round. He threw their limbs and flesh all around. Flesh is called "meda," you know, and from that comes "medini," the earth, clay, the solid ground. That flesh, that "meda" was in seven pieces into which he had torn the rakhyasas. Those seven pieces formed seven islands. We have a proverb about 7 pots and 8 islands, which comes from that. There are many such things. When the bride puts the water pot on her head before marriage, 7 pots of water are poured on her. These are our traditions. But that’s another matter. From those 7 chunks of flesh the 7 islands were formed. From those seven islands the earth was created.

All right, then, what remained was one more chunk of flesh, a little bit, which Mahamayi, our goddess, the dream beauty, at a time when there was nothing, only the Shapeless One, floating like a dream, she took that flesh, kneaded it and shaped it into two idols and breathed her brahma-power into them. Those two had a smell, which we call "basena." From that they were named Basu and Basuki. We offer puja to them. They have the power. Then what happened was that order came from that infinite Shapeless One, for them to create. When this order was received, what they did was they created twelve brothers. These twelve brothers are our Bathudis.

Then, when they had grown into the fullness of youth, the prime mother, what she did was, as mothers are usually desperate to get their grown sons married, what she did was that she created twelve girls and got them married. But the directive from Him was to start the creation with these twelve brothers. But on this side was the mother’s power, certainly greater than the father’s. So, she, indulging her earthly desires, got the marriage performed. But she was afraid, if the Shapeless One found out, He would destroy this marriage. Since, instead of starting the creation, she was indulging in the performance of the marriage, He would stop it. So what she did was that she created a mayajala (net of illusion), so that the Old Man could not understand, I mean the Shapeless One could not see what was happening. But what was happening at that time was that in various dreams and thoughts He was having ejaculations. Ejaculations. But he did not let the semen fall on the ground. He held it in his hand, closed in his fist. As He held it in his fist, from three chinks in it came out three powers: Brahma, Vishnu, and Maheswara. Three powers come out from there. Then He said to them, ‘The twelve brothers had been instructed to create the world, but they have done nothing. So, you go now and start creating the world. When they had got this instruction, Brahma, Vishnu and Maheswara the three of them got busy in creation. Of course, they could create things in moments. Then they created the whole world of living things.

On this side, when the mother saw this, the Prime Mother, she cursed herself, ‘Damn it, this work was to be done by my sons. But others have done it! Certainly this creation cannot stay all right. Everything will go this way and that, turn topsy-turvy.’ So what she did was, she sent the twelve brothers saying to them, ‘You go, destroy everything including Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva (Maheswara).’ She told them. At that time, I mean, they were getting married. She gave them unfinishable arrow-holders, imperishable arrows, such weapons, and sent away the twelve brothers.

When all of them had gone, the twelve brothers had gone, that is to kill them, to fight, the three worlds shook with the twanging of their bows. The whole world trembled. Seeing this, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva were terrified. They ran to their creator for protection.

‘What shall we do?’ they cried. ‘Save us. These twelve brothers are so powerful that we cannot face them. So, take us out of this living world. They are out to destroy this living world and with it us. So save us.’

‘You cannot beat them in war,’ He said. ‘But if you coax them, cajole them, praise them and divert their attention, they will desist. Thus you can be saved; otherwise you cannot, because they have been created before you. So their power is greater than yours. I cannot also kill them at this time. So, go and cajole them, please them, persuade them. Then only they will come to the right path.’

Then they went. But they went in disguise. Having gone in disguise, they reached the twelve brothers and explained and coaxed and praised them.

‘O warriors, you are so mighty that you can destroy everything. But why should you destroy this creation? Let it stay. You can swat it away any time you want. It’s not worth your trouble. So desist, calm down. Let us serve you and please you.’

Gradually their anger was cooled; their war-lust was pacified. So, the creation of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva survived. Then they turned to the Basu and Basuki, the primal beings and said to them, ‘You are the eldest. You are older than us. Since you are older or "bada," you will be known as Badam and will be worshipped. And your wife will be worshipped as Badamani. Since you are our (amara) eldest (bada), you will be Badam. The twelve brothers will be the Bathudis. They are the original inhabitants. Their ancestors are Basu-Basuki. From Basuki the name Bathudi has come. These are the Bathudis.


Origin of the Bathudis

Teller: Chandrasekhar Naik [M 45 (Cowherd). Village: Arjun Bania (Anandpur, Keonjhar). Date: 8 Oct.1998. Cassette No. 53, side A; O. Tr. Pp. 3456-61. Status: (minor editing; editorial explanations & additions in brackets). Type: Myth-legend. Translator: Biyotkesh Tripathy]

The story of the origin of us Bathudis. There is proof in a book; I don’t remember its name. When Brahmins were worshipping Jagannath, what they used to do was, they went to a bull. They cut out meat from it and ate it. After they had eaten, the bull’s flesh was renewed (and it became whole again). Then the brahmins went and did their puja (worship).

One day a Brahmin’s wife asked (him when he returned from his puja), ‘What do you eat there before you come home? (You say your belly is full).’

‘Can you eat what we eat?’ he asked.

‘Why not? If you are eating, why can’t we eat?’

(When he had told her what they ate), she said, ‘Can you bring us a little of that beef?’

The next day, when he went there, they cut off a chunk of the bull’s flesh, cooked it and ate. At that time, this Brahmin secretly tied a little of it in the corner of his loincloth for his wife. That day the bull would not get up and go away, nor was its flesh renewed. There was great consternation among them. The Brahmins said, ‘Everyday the bull got up and walked away, and we went and worshipped Jagannath. Why is it not getting up today? What is the reason for this?’ (They pondered and pondered but could find no answer, and this Brahmin revealed nothing).

But God, in his meditation, came to know all this. ‘What!’ He said to himself. ‘Taking meat to their homes in greed! Then, what worship will these do to me? So now, for my worship, I’ll have to create (new ones).’

So thinking, he rubbed out a little dirt from his bahu (arm) and made a very small statue and then taking a little dirt from this thudi (chin) he made another statue. Then He gave it life and a new race of people (of proper size and shape), whom he called Bathudi (for having been created from the bahu and thudi), came into existence for performing the puja rituals of the lord, the man having been created from the arm and the woman from the chin.


‘From today,’ God said, ‘You Bathudis alone will offer puja and worship to me.’ And (from that time) the Bathudis have been worshipping god in the form of Nilamadhaba.


How the Bathudis were Created

Teller: Sridhara Naik [Village: Kanta (Anandpur, Keonjhar). Date: 8 Oct. 1998. Cassette No. 53, Side A ; O. Tr. Pp. 3478-86. Status: (minor editing; editorial explanations & additions in brackets). Type: Myth-legend. Tranlator: Biyotkesh Tripathy.]

In age-old times, Brahmins were offering puja and worship to God. For performing the puja, what these Brahmins did was that they performed a jagnya (fire ritual) where they cut off flesh from a cow or bull and ate the meat. (The cow or the bull thus sacrificed would get up afterwards with its flesh renewed and go away). After eating this, they went and performed the rituals of God.

One day, their wives said, ‘You are going everyday. What do you eat there before you come? When we give you food, why don’t you eat?’

They said, ‘What we eat you cannot stomach.’

‘You are eating,’ the wives said, ‘why can’t we, when we are members of your family? You better bring something of what you eat for us.’

‘We eat meat there,’ they said.

‘Bring a little for us then,’ said the wives.

‘Okay, we’ll bring it.’

The next time they went, they cut flesh off a bull and ate its meat. Then one of them said, ‘Ramei’s mother had asked me to take a little bit for her. Let me take a little stuff.’

Another man said, ‘My wife and family also have asked me. So let me take a little.’

In this way all the ten or twelve brahmins, who had gone for the puja, secretly tied little bits of meat in their loincloth. When this happened, the bull did not get up. How would they go then? How would they go to worship their God? It was getting late. God wondered why his worshippers were so late. Why is the bull not getting up? Have they committed some wrong? Then what to do? He ordered his attendants to go and see what had happened.

When the attendants reached the place, they asked, ‘What’s this? Why are you delaying? God has become restless in hunger. When will you perform the puja?’

‘How can we go?’ said the Brahmins. ‘This bull is not getting up.’

‘But then why isn’t it getting up?’

‘Who knows?’ the Brahmins said. ‘We don’t know anything about that.’

Then the attendants went and reported to God that the bull was not getting up and that was why the Brahmins were not coming. God wondered why and then by meditating came to know of the mischief those people had committed, that they had stolen the bull’s meat. He knew then and there that these people would not do. Then who would do His rituals? He asked Brahma what to do. Brahma told him (what to do). So He brought out a man from his bahu (arm). Having done this he said, ‘This is man.’ Then he thought, ‘This is a man but he is alone. It would not do if he did not have a woman.’ So saying, He created a woman from dhuli (earth).

Then the two mated and the woman became pregnant. When she became pregnant, God wondered about a name.

‘The child that would be born,’ He asked them, ‘what should be his name?’

Then the man asked the woman, ‘What do you say? What name should be given?’

‘Your name,’ she said, ‘and my name should be in that name.’

Since he had come out of the bahu (arm) the sound "ba" was taken from him and since she had come out of dhuli (earth), the sound "dhuli" was taken from her name to form the name Badhuli, which, in course of time, got modified to Bathudi. (So the progeny of) these people became the Bathudi. They became the worshippers of God (and offered puja and service to him).


Illustrations by Suchismita Hota