A Kandha Mixed Bag Narrative of Creation

Dr. Biyotkesh Tripathy

Teller: Lilaram Kota [M 45. Tribe: Kandha (Kondh) (Gauda). Village: Ghatang Padar, Kalahandi. Date: Oct 10, 1999. Interviewer: Biyotkesh Tripathy & team. Cassette No. 139, Side A. O. Tr. Pp.: 13585-315. F.N.: Kal, p. 6. Transcriber: F. B. Puthal. Status: As told (edited; editorial explanations, emendations & additions in square brackets). Type: Myth-Lore.] Translator: Biyotkesh Tripathy.

What was happening, sir, so to say, in ancient times, Basuki having trembled [the universe having collapsed because of the shaking of Basuki, the snake that held the earth up], there was no heaven above and Patala, down below, the earth that is, was all muddy. When it turned into mud, you see, gods and goddesses as well as rakhyasas [demons], all became dirty. When this happened, gods and goddesses as well as humans all were destroyed. When they were destroyed, there was no one left, in whichever direction one looked. So, what to do? Everything was destroyed except two, a brother and a sister. They alone were alive. How they lived was, in the sea there was a boat. They had hidden themselves in that boat. When they stayed, thus hidden, Adi Mata [Primal Mother], the goddess—Sarada on earth, Sarala in heaven, Basuki in Patala [the underworld]—somehow came to know of this. Having come to know of this, she thought, ‘No one, now, worships me or makes any offering, how shall I create human beings?’
At this time, there was a banyan tree, in which there was a bird lying dead. With the whispering of gods and goddesses around it, it came back to life. When it came alive, it cried and its cry fell in the ears of god who said, ‘Aha, there you are. Your cry fell in my ears. Now, can you do something for me?’
‘What can I do, lord?’
‘Without you I can’t have my eminence. There’s nothing on earth. If there were, I could have done something. But there is no earth. Can you find any humans for me?’
‘I can’t find them. But at midnight I hear the sound of a flute. I alone hear that sound.’
‘Okay, can you bring that flute to me?’
‘Yes, I can bring that.’
‘You are a bird. You are afraid neither of water nor of air. You can fly out and bring it to me, can you not?’
‘Yes, I shall.’
‘Then go, my bird, and bring it.’
So, the bird went and brought the flute and gave it to Adi Mata [Primal Mother], goddess Sarala. The Mother blew into it.
The one whose flute it was, was surprised. This was not their tune. When your friend played a tune, you would recognize it, would you not? But this was different. Somebody else’s tune. He looked around and did not find his flute. When the flute played in the night, they used to wake up. Since the flute was not there, what was to be done? Who was playing on their flute? This flute was their daily companion. The two people inside the boat came out, and they saw goddess Adi Mata right before them. [They were scared].
They said, ‘Lord, whether you are a ghost or ghoul, witch or demoness, tell us, do you want to eat us? If you want to save us, save us. We are almost dead. We two alone have survived being burnt to ashes. Do what you will.’
‘No, no, I have not come to eat you or drink you. I have come to take care of you, to bring you up. Thinking this to be the right thing to do, I have sought you out.’ This is what goddess Ganga Debi said.
‘If you say so.’
[Seeing that they were afraid of her, she said:] ‘Don’t be afraid. I may be a goddess or such, but I am a Naranarayan [human god].’
When she said this, their fear was assuaged. Otherwise, they were afraid.
Then she said to the girl, ‘What would you like to make me, your grandma or your mama, or sister?’ Like this, as they lived together, their fear was gone. Why be afraid any more? And the goddess took care of them.
As she continued to take care of them and they started growing up, she taught them this and that and the difference between a boy and girl.
One day she said, ‘Since you have grown up as my boy and girl, you girl, you go this way, and I’ll send the boy in the opposite direction [as you should not now stay together since you are brother and sister.’ So she sent them off in opposite directions. Many years passed this way with the boy and the girl wandering all over the world. Finally, they met again in Bhabani Patana. But they had grown up and become man and woman and could not recognize each other as brother and sister, such is the difficult mystery of the goddess. Even the one they had called grandma they could not recognize her. They now mated.
When the goddess saw this, she said, ‘No, no. This is not right. The one you were calling mother one day, how can you call her mother-in-law? You were like my own children! But all right, you want to set up a family, so be it.’
Then the two cursed themselves realizing they had done wrong. They turned in to stone and still exist as stone. Others may say this is nonsense, but they exist. It is true. They have turned into stone. They are at Rainima toward Koraput. There is a mountain called Rainima and there is a village on top of it called Janjuti. There is a mountain pass there. Below that pass they are there. I don’t see very well now, but there is a small river [are two small rivers] there. The water of this river never flows into that and the water of that river does not flow into this. It is [They are] called Sasu-Buari [Mother-in-law-Daughter-on-law] river. It is below Karanja village. Karanja village of Sinpur.
Then, slowly, that one mother’s children multiplied. When their numbers grew, the earth started trembling. Things grew scarce. What could be done without things being made available? Even the gods and goddesses were perturbed. There was not anything on earth. What to do?
No, no. There was a tree. In their language they call it Chhenamara tree [Cheese making tree] and in our language we call it Sina tree. That Sina tree was there. And there were porcupines. It lives in hills. It has nails sticking out. It sawed through that tree and taking the trunk (and there is a thing called Mathel; that’s the story of the old creation), it carried it on its shoulder for 7 days and 7 nights; it became 14 days. As it carried it for 14 days, all the gods and goddesses that are there—Bhairab, Durga, Sarala, Chandi, 64 Joginis, 33 crore [330 million] gods and goddesses—everyone ran to Adi Mata [since the sun did not come out]. When will Agni [fire] be created [the sun will come out]? If Agni [fire] is not created [the sun does not shine] nothing can be done. How to create fire [make the sun shine]? But fire could not be made [the sun did not shine]. But, slowly, they started sowing all these things, these various kinds of seeds--Kandula, Harada, Chana, Mukuli etc.—they sowed one by one. Like this they sowed and from the tree they [the seeds] were falling. At this time Agni was created [the sun came out].
Before Agni was created [the sun came out], every one lived naked. They did not have clothes, nor was there any leaves. Even goddess Durga. But there was a long leaf. It is called Laj Patara [Shame Leaf]. It grows in the forest. It’s like a person can wear it. At that time there were no clothes. Clothes have come now. At that time, they wore only those leaves.
As they went on living, all the gods came out. So, all the things that were lacking in this our earth started coming out. The Kandhas did not at that time have these three stones keeping which they do their puja and worship, buffalo sacrifice and festivals. Those were not there. So, what they were doing was, when these stones were not there, before the gods and goddesses, there was a thing called Lakatman. With that they made axes, knives and made their living in ancient times. [So the gods and goddesses said,] ‘No, no, these humans have become too many. They don’t understand me. So what to do?’ So they decided on another thing.
This is the story of the beginning of creation. They brought a tree. Ganga Debi [Primal Mother,] she had made a tangle of a hair from her head and had given it to them, saying that where they would plant it, [a special kind of] trees would grow. She gave more of such tangled hair. Trees grew. [Then she said,] ‘Take this tree and burn it. See what happens.’ When they set fire to the tree [they had cut,] fire sprang up [bright and strong.]
Now, the people thought, [having obtained fire,] ‘How shall we have incense and resins for the ritual offering?’ There was tree called Swargi tree. (They call it Arjuna tree in Oriya) [Sal tree]. That tree grew there. That tree, you might have seen, sir, resin oozes out of that tree. Of you take that ooze and burn it you can do more and more work, and the gods and goddesses are also pleased. Many of them came down; even Sarada came. And she gave them a “sarp” [blessing/curse] that they would obey whatever you say. Like this, as things started happening, they also gathered three “jal pathar” [stones.] Having brought them, they placed them here and there [in a particular manner]. Having placed them, they decided to have their ritual worship there as in a temple. Now there are many people. But in ancient times, pregnant women used to make their bodies touch the stone so that they had safe deliveries.
[But for the rituals and festivals there was no musical instrument, no drum. But what to cover the drum with, so that good sound would be made? For that purpose, the goddess] decided to create the monitor [whose skin was tough.] So the monitor was created. At that time there were no equipment like axe, knife, sword or hatchet. [They killed somehow. But its skin did not do.] One day they stretched it on stone, but it did not smooth out properly [for the drum]. Then they tried cloth on it. It did not do. They wondered what to do. At one place there was god Bhima. There, the people had made a drum of clay and they had arranged a calf [to use its skin.] [When asked, they said,] ‘How to do it sir? We tried it in many ways but it does not work. ‘No, no,’ [god said,] ‘There is a calf in such-and-such place. Kill it and bring its skin.’ So they brought that skin, stretched it lie a fan and then fitted it to the opening of the drum they had made. After fitting it, they stretched and tightened it. When, now, they struck it, it roared like a tiger. Even a tiger’s roar was less loud than its sound.
[So, now they thought about the gods they had installed.] They said, ‘Look here, these gold and silver stones we have installed are getting eroded. It’s getting reduced. It’s a little too much for us. This is also too much for the gods and goddesses. What should we do?’ [They thought about it and decided to do one thing.] They brought coal and melted the gold with it. The gold turned black.
‘Why did you do like this?’
‘No, no, [don’t be annoyed.] Gold and silver are not always useful. But with this iron you can make an axe, a spade, or a knife, which will be useful for you to make your living. So keeping more of this gold is of no use to you.’
‘Okay, then. But I cultivated the earth, I kept the stones, and showed where to worship, why did you do this with me?’
‘No, no, this had to be done with you.’
This is the story of the creation of the world that I have told you.
So, as the creation continued, [and people grew in number], no one cared for anyone or recognized anyone. Gods and goddesses also increased in number just like human beings. Going on like this nations and countries were created. [Then god thought,] ‘What else to do now? Nothing stayed in the mouth of the Patala [underworld]. When we killed Surasur and threw the skin, mountains were created: Bijuli Mountain, Himalaya Mountains and other mountains. Hills were also created.’ This is what they thought.
[Then they thought about other problems.] They said, ‘Our people are no longer known in terms of who is what. We also don’t now how to make puja and offerings.’ So, they called god. God said, ‘We must have a Kalpa Bata [worship tree/banyan] and do the rituals under it. Otherwise, things will not be right.’ [So they did that and] they decided on twelve rituals for the twelve months. And they decided to identify brothers, sisters, mothers [and fathers] so that their functions in these rituals will be specified. So they started doing these twelve ritual festivals. They also thought that the people must know how the world was created, what they must do and when to get right results [in cultivation etc.,] how they could obey the gods and how the gods could obey them. Thinking of this, they created a story. But first, they thought, they should have a system of distinguishing who is whose son or daughter, who is older and who is younger, [a system of family identity.] Lord Shiva and Parbati agreed with this. They thought about this and consulted Adi Mata. Parbati, of course, is Adi Mata, the same as old Ganga Debi and Basuki Mata. The young and the old should be distinguished; generations must be distinguished. They kept these people as the inhabitants of the eastern regions. Then she said, ‘you make groups according to their function. Make these Brahmins [keepers of ancient knowledge], these Karans [administrators], these Routs [cultivators], these Sundhis [wine merchants], these Malis [orchard keepers], these Dhobas [washer men], and these Keutas [fishermen.’] This is what she told them at a meeting. She arranged a feast. Shiva came for this but he could not provide food. People cursed Shiva and went away, saying, ‘We work hard, suffer much and eat rice and dal. What’s this he is giving!’ Parbati, seeing this, called them and gave them proper food so that everyone was fed. Then she asked them to wait and said, ‘There is another thing which will make things complete and right.’ Before this time, liquor was not there. Parbati created this. When she made this, she brought Shiva and made him tend to it as it was brewing. When Shiva was tending the fire, the pot boiled over and fell on the ground. Then Parbati said to Shiva, ‘You, Iswar [god Shiva], you go into the spill. Then you will become a tree, and what tree will you be? You will be a Mahula tree and, hiding inside it like a thief, you will come out as its berry-like fruit. When you are so born, people would take you, make you bloat and cook you. To your cooking pot they will attach a pipe. Then they will boil it until it reaches the pipe. When the liquid comes out through the pipe and the sound of falling liquid is heard, then you will become liquor.
The people made it themselves and so learnt how to make it.
‘Shall we deliver it to heaven?’ they asked.
‘No, there’s no benefit in that. Let it stay on earth, so that drinking it, people will make a ruckus. On drinking this, unfairness and atrocities can be committed. Or, thus drunk, people can come together in goodwill as friends and relatives. And, on drinking this, they can also come together sexually.’
With these intensions she created this liquor.
Gradually, firm ground formed on the earth and it became complete, so that heaven was no longer visible nor was the underworld visible. Even god could see things below. At that time there were many Rakhyasas and Asuras [demons]. They used to eat and drink with the gods.
Now, this way the earth’s system was formed and many rituals and festivals came into existence.

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