In the Puranas, it is said that in the later ages (Kaliyuga perhaps), even an ordinary man/king can acquire the position of Indra, the king of gods. The Vishnu Purana has the following story which tells us how a mortal king became an Indra. Once there was a bitter war between the gods and the demons. The war went on for a while and there seemed to be no resolution in sight. Finally, both sides approached Brahma the creator and asked him who would eventually win this apparently unending war. Brahma thought for a while and said, “The side that the King Raji, who rules the earth, supports by taking up arms on its behalf will win this war”.
The demons were quick to approach Raji and asked him to aid them in the war. King Raji agreed but on one condition. After the war, he said, he wanted to be crowned Indra. Now the demons were in a fix. How could they possibly guarantee the kingdom of gods, even more so because Indra Prahlad’s term was not yet over? Dejected, they withdrew in disappointment.
The gods came in next with same proposition. King Raji put forth the same condition. The gods agreed at once and soon Raji joined their army and as predicted, helped them win the war. Indra had to step down and accept Raji as the supreme king of the gods. He bowed before him and placing his foot on his head said, “You have saved me from great danger, I acknowledge you as my superior and my king. From now you will be known as Indra”. But Raji was content to remain on earth and so he asked Indra to continue as his representative on the throne of heavens. Indra agreed. So even though Indra performed all the kingly duties, the oblations and sacrifices reached Raji. Although Indra was unhappy, he could do little but accept the situation since that had been the condition the gods had accepted for their victory.
However matters got out of hand when Raji’s son wanted to perpetuate the arrangement after his father’s death. Indra opposed this idea but was compelled to yield at the end. Sad and frustrated, he went to his teacher Brihaspati and asked him for a morsel of the sacrificial butter. Brihaspati was sad to see Indra’s plight and said, “Had you been courageous enough to win the war for gods earlier, you would not have ended up thus. But I can help you to regain your sovereignty.”
Brihaspati set up a yagna for Indra which would help him regain his lost powers. The yagna made Raji’s sons arrogant, they began mocking the Vedas and neglected their religious duties and ended up as enemies of gods. And at a point when they had become too weak to put up a valiant fight, Brihaspati advised Indra to kill them and reclaim his position as the king of gods.
This legend from Kerala states that the descendants of twelve different castes were born from the same woman, who was considered to be of a lower caste by the people of the time.
Varuchi was a Brahmin and a scholar. He was one of the gems of the court of King Vikramaditya and highly revered by the king and the people in the kingdom. One day the king asked Varuchi, “Which is the most important verse in the epic Ramayana?”
Varuchi was stumped. The King gave him 41 days to get back to him with an answer. Varuchi set out on a quest. He went to many places and spoke to many a scholar, but none gave him a satisfactory answer.
On the fortieth day, he was sleeping under a tree, when he overheard the conversation of two gandharvas (some local and popular versions say that they were birds). According to one of them, the most important verse from the Ramayana was ‘Maam vidhi Janakaatmajam’, a part of the advice given by Sumitra to her son Lakshaman when they were leaving Ayodhya. The complete verse was:
Ramam Dasaratham vidhhi, maam vidhhi Janakaatmajam,
Ayodhya mataveem vidhhi, gaccha thaatha yattha sukham.
(Consider Ram as your father, Sita as your mother and the forest as Ayodhya and may your journey be a blessed)
Varuchi was happy to learn this, and was about to leave, when he realized that the conversation was not over yet.. He heard one of them say, that the learned Brahmin sleeping under the tree would actually be marrying a low-caste woman who has just been born. While this upset Varuchi, a bit, he was elated with the answer to the king’s question.
Varuchi repeated the verse to the king who was satisfied with the revelation. However, Varuchi wanted to ensure that the prophecy of the gandharvas was never fulfilled. He told the king that that a child had just been born and would bring doom to the kingdom and she should be eliminated. The king sent out his guards who discovered the girl, but decided to place her in a raft with a burning torch at its head and set it in the river. The girl was found by a child-less Brahmin, who decided to adopt her.
Many years went by and Varuchi was reassured that he had given the lie to the prophecy. Once during one of his journeys, Varuchi decided to stop over at the house of a Brahmin who insisted that he have a meal with them. To test him, Varuchi put forth certain conditions in a code which the daughter of the Brahmin understood and to Varuchi’s surprise, she executed them exactly as he had wanted. Varuchi was impressed by her and expressed his desire to marry her. But soon he understood that this was the same girl that was his destiny and learnt that she was the adopted daughter of the Brahmin who was found afloat in the river.
Accepting his destiny, Varuch decided to excommunicate himself from the Brahmins and leave the city. He started travelling along with his wife. During this journey, his wife gave birth to eleven children and after the birth of each child, Varuchi would ask his wife, if the child had a mouth, to which she would reply in a yes. To the ‘yes’ of his wife, she would be asked to leave the child there and move on, as ‘god would feed if he has a mouth’. This way, Varuchi’s wife was deprived of her motherhood. So when the twelfth child was born she said that the child had no mouth. To this, she was allowed to carry the child with her, but when she tried to feed the child, she saw that the child had no mouth! Varuchi them took the child and deified him a hill which today is known as ‘Vaayillaakkunnilappan’ of the Lord of the Hills without a mouth. Today, there exists a temple by the same name, in the region of Pallakad, Kerala.
The other children were found and adopted by families from different castes and when they grew up, they came together at the eldest son’s house for the death anniversary of their father. Most of the communities still exist in the district of Pallakad in Kerala, who trace their ancestry to the eleven sons.
Many consider this legend as significant because of the taboos associated with inter-caste relationships. As all the different castes were born out of the same parents, the story is meant to highlight the insignificance of it all.
Note: This story reflects caste prejudices that were held by a section of society during a certain period of time. These are not relevant today and Talking Myths Project neither agrees, nor endorses any discrimination on the basis of caste, creed or religion. It is an archive committed to documented the oral, literary and all forms of narrative traditions of the subcontinent.
In the kingdom of Danavas, Darika was known for his ferocious temper and for the boon of immortality that he had wrested from the great Brahma after a long and arduous penance. Brahma had granted Darika the boon that no god or man would be able to kill him and that every drop of his blood that fell to the ground would lead to the birth of hundreds of Darikas. He could be slayed only by a woman.
Born to Darumathy, Darika grew extremely arrogant in his power and attacked the Devas. He entered Devalok and then stormed into Kailasa. Shiv was furious and to bring about his end created Bhadrakali from his third eye (it is said she incarnated from his eye on a Tuesday afternoon). Bhadrakali set about her mission as soon as she was born, with the leader of forest ghosts and spirits, Vetalam in tow, she attacked the demon and beheaded him. And as the blood dripped off his torso, she licked it before it could fall on to the ground.
However, even after Darika was killed, Bhadrakali’s thirst for blood was not appeased and she went on a killing spree. The gods ran to Shiva for help. He tried to convince her to stop but when everything failed, he lay down on the ground and said, “Daughter dance upon my naked body and release your anger.” That worked and Bhadrakali’s terrifying rampage came to an end as did the reign of Darika.
In another version, Bhadrakali failed to kill Darika in her first attempt and so she approached his wife Manodari who knew the secret mantra that Brahma has given her husband. Bhadrakali tricked her into revealing the mantra and went into the battlefield, but when Manodari found out, she obtained a bucket of Parvati’s sweat and threw it on Bhadrakali at which she was instantly covered with sores all over her body. Shiva then created a being out of his earwax called Ghantakarnan who licked the sores off her body, however he was too embarrassed to lick her face and hence Bhadrakali’s face is still marked with spots (like a small pox infestation).
This story is performed and sung as Darikavadham (the legend of Darika’s killing) in various parts of Kerala as an offering to the goddess Bhagavathy. In later years, the worship of Bhadrakali has been merged with that of Bhagavathy.
STORY COLLECTED BY: Arundhuti Dasgupta
SOURCE: South Asian Folklore, An Encyclopaedia; Edited by Margaret Mills, Peter Claus and Sarah Diamond
LOCATION: Tamil Nadu