Page images

Gonds, and their liberation from a cave, in which they had been shut up by Siva, through the divine hero Lingo. General Cunningham said that the exact position of the cave was not known, but it would seem to have been somewhere in the Himalayas, as the name Dhawalgiri, which means a white mountain, is mentioned. The cave, according to ordinary Gond tradition, was situated in Kachikopa Lohāgarh or the Iron Valley in the Red Hill.

It seems clear from the story itself that its author was desirous of connecting the Gonds with Hindu mythology, and as Siva's heaven is in the Himalayas, the name Dhawalgiri, where he located the cave, may refer to them. It is also said that the cave was at the source of the Jumna. But in Mr. Hislop's version the cave where all the Gonds except four were shut up is not in Kachikopa Lohāgarh, as the Gonds commonly say ; but only the four Gonds who escaped wandered to this latter place and dwelt there. And the story does not show that Kachikopa Lohāgarh was on Mount Dhawalgiri or the Himalayas, where it places the cave in which the Gonds were shut up, or anywhere near them. On the contrary, it would be quite consonant with Mr. Hislop's version if Kachikopa Lohāgarh were in the Central Provinces. It may be surmised that in the original Gond legend their ancestors really were shut up in Kachikopa Lohāgarh, but not by the god Siva. Very possibly the story began with them in the cave in the Iron Valley in the Red Hill. But the Hindu who clearly composed Mr. Hislop's version wished to introduce the god Siva as a principal actor, and he therefore removed the site of the cave to the Himalayas. This appears probable from the story itself, in which, in its present form, Kachikopa Lohāgarh plays no real part, and only appears because it was in the original tradition and has to be retained. But the Gonds think that their ancestors were actually shut up in Kachikopa Lohāgarh, and one tradition puts the site at Pachmarhi, whose striking hill scenery and red soil cleft by many deep and inaccessible ravines would render it a likely place for the incident. Another version locates Kachikopa Lohāgarh at Dārekasa

1 The argument in this section will be followed more easily if read after the legend in the following paragraphs.




in Bhandāra, where there is a place known as Kachagarh or the iron fort. But Pachmarhi is perhaps the more probable, as it has some deep caves, which have always been looked upon as sacred places. The point is of some interest, because this legend of the cave being in the Himalayas is adduced as a Gond tradition that their ancestors came from the north, and hence as supporting the theory of the immigration of the Dravidians through the north-west of India. But if the view now suggested is correct, the story of the cave being in the Himalayas is not a genuine Gond tradition at all, but a Hindu interpolation. The only other ground known to the writer for asserting that the Gonds believed their ancestors to have come from the north is that they bury their dead with the feet to the north. There are other obvious Hindu accretions in the legend, as the saintly Brāhmanic character of Lingo and his overcoming the gods through fasting and self-torture, and also the fact that Siva shut up the Gonds in the cave because he was offended by their dirty habits and bad smell. But the legend still contains a considerable quantity of true Gond tradition, and though somewhat tedious, it seems necessary to give an abridgment of Mr. "Hislop's account, with reproduction of selected passages. Captain Forsyth also made a modernised poetical version, from which one extract is taken. Certain variations from another form of the legend obtained in Bastar are included.

In the beginning there was water everywhere, and God 6. Legend was born in a lotus-leaf and lived alone. One day he of the

creation. rubbed his arm and from the rubbing made a crow, which sat on his shoulder ; he also made a crab, which swam out over the waters. God then ordered the crow to fly over the world and bring some earth. The crow flew about and could find no earth, but it saw the crab, which was supporting itself with one leg resting on the bottom of the sea.

The crow was very tired and perched on the crab's back, which was soft so that the crow's feet made marks on it, which are still visible on the bodies of all crabs at present.

The crow asked the crab where any earth could be found.

The crab said that if God would make its body hard it would find

1 Highlands of Central India (Chapman & Hall). VOL. III


some earth.

God said he would make part of the crab's body hard, and he made its back hard, as it still remains. The crab then dived to the bottom of the sea, where it found Kenchna, the earth-worm. It caught hold of Kenchna by the neck with its claws and the mark thus made is still to be seen on the earth-worm's neck. Then the earth-worm brought up earth out of its mouth and the crab brought this to God, and God scattered it over the sea and patches of land appeared. God then walked over the earth and a boil came on his hand, and out of it Mahādeo and Pārvati were

born. 7. Creation

From Mahādeo's urine numerous vegetables began to of the Gonds and spring up. Pārvati ate of these and became pregnant and their gave birth to eighteen threshing-floors of Brāhman gods imprisonment by

and twelve threshing-floors of Gond gods. All the Gonds Mahādeo.

were scattered over the jungle. They behaved like Gonds and not like good Hindus, with lamentable results, as follows:


Hither and thither all the Gonds were scattered in the jungle.
Places, hills, and valleys were filled with these Gonds.
Even trees had their Gonds. How did the Gonds conduct themselves ?
Whatever came across them they must needs kill and eat it;
They made no distinction. If they saw a jackal they killed
And ate it; no distinction was observed ; they respected not antelope,

sambhar and the like.
They made no distinction in eating a sow, a quail, a pigeon,
A crow, a kite, an adjutant, a vulture,
A lizard, a frog, a beetle, a cow, a calf, a he- and she-buffalo,
Rats, bandicoots, squirrels—all these they killed and ate.
So began the Gonds to do. They devoured raw and ripe things;
They did not bathe for six months together ;
They did not wash their faces properly, even on dunghills they would

fall down and remain.
Such were the Gonds born in the beginning. A smell was spread over

the jungle
When the Gonds were thus disorderly behaved ; they became disagree-

able to Mahādeva,
Who said : “ The caste of the Gonds is very bad ;
I will not preserve them; they will ruin my hill Dhawalgiri.”

Mahādeo then determined to get rid of the Gonds. With this view he invited them all to a meeting. When they sat 1 Deo-khulla or threshing-floor of the gods. See section on Religion.

2 Passage from Mr. Hislop's version.




down Mahādeo made a squirrel from the rubbings of his body and let it loose in the middle of the Gonds. All the Gonds at once got up and began to chase it, hoping for a meal. They seized sticks and stones and clods of earth, and their unkempt hair few in the wind. The squirrel dodged about and ran away, and finally, directed by Mahādeo, ran into a large cave with all the Gonds after it. Mahādeo then rolled a large stone to the mouth of the cave and shut up all the Gonds in it. Only four remained outside, and they fled away to Kachikopa Lohāgarh, or the Iron Cave in the Red Hill, and lived there. Meanwhile Pārvati perceived that the smell of the Gonds, which had pleased her, had vanished from Dhawalgiri. She desired it to be restored and commenced a devotion. For six months she fasted and practised austerities. Bhagwān (God) was swinging in a swing. He was disturbed by Pārvati's devotion. He sent Nārāyan (the sun) to see who was fasting. Nārāyan came and found Pārvati and asked her what she wanted. She said that she missed her Gonds and wanted them back. Nārāyan told Bhagwān, who promised that they should be given back.

The yellow flowers of the tree Pahindi were growing 8. The on Dhawalgiri. Bhagwān sent thunder and lightning, and birth and

history of the flower conceived. First fell from it a heap of turmeric Lingo. or saffron. In the morning the sun came out, the flower burst open, and Lingo was born. Lingo was a perfect child. He had a diamond on his navel and a sandalwood mark on his forehead. He fell from the flower into the heap of turmeric. He played in the turmeric and slept in a swing. He became nine years old. He said there was no one there like him, and he would go where he could find his fellows. He climbed a needle-like hill," and from afar off he saw Kachikopa Lohāgarh and the four Gonds. He came to them. They saw he was like them, and asked him to be their brother. They ate only animals. Lingo asked them to find for him an animal without a liver, and they searched all through the forest and could not. Then Lingo told them to cut down trees and make a field. They tried to cut down the anjan? trees, but their hands were blistered 1 Dhūpgarh in Pachmarhi might be indicated, which has a steep summit.

2 Terminalia arjuna.

and they could not go on. Lingo had been asleep. He woke up and saw they had only cut down one or two trees. He took the axe and cut down many trees, and fenced a field and made a gate to it. Black soil appeared. It began to rain, and rained without ceasing for three days. All the rivers and streams were filled. The field became green with rice, and it grew up. There were sixteen score of nilgai or blue-bull. They had two leaders, an old bull and his nephew. The young bull saw the rice of Lingo's field and wished to eat it. The uncle told him not to eat of the field of Lingo or all the nilgai would be killed. But the young bull did not heed, and took off all the nilgai to eat the rice. When they got to the field they could find no entrance, so they jumped the fence, which was five cubits high. They ate all the rice from off the field and ran away. The young bull told them as they ran to put their feet on leaves and stones and boughs and grass, and not on the ground, so that they might not be tracked. Lingo woke up and went to see his field, and found all the rice eaten. He knew the nilgai had done it, and showed the brothers how to track them by the few marks which they had by accident made on the ground. They did so, and surrounded the nilgai and killed them all with their bows and arrows except the old uncle, from whom Lingo's arrow rebounded harmlessly on account of his innocence, and one young doe. From these two the nilgai race was preserved. Then Lingo told the Gonds to make fire and roast the deer as follows:

He said, I will show you something ; see if anywhere in your
Waistbands there is a flint; if so, take it out and make fire.
But the matches did not ignite. As they were doing this, a watch of the

night passed.
They threw down the matches, and said to Lingo, Thou art a Saint;
Show us where our fire is, and why it does not come out.
Lingo said : Three koss (six miles) hence is Rikad Gawādi the giant.
There is fire in his field ; where smoke shall appear, go there,
Come not back without bringing fire. Thus said Lingo.
They said, We have never seen the place, where shall we go?
Ye have never seen where this fire is ? Lingo said ;
I will discharge an arrow thither.
Go in the direction of the arrow; there you will get fire.
He applied the arrow, and having pulled the bow, he discharged one:
It crashed on, breaking twigs and making its passage clear.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »