Creation is a common theme in all mythologies and even in folklore. Man has been concerned about how we came to be, how the universe was created and the source of all creation since the beginning of time. This is a story told by the Gond tribe, found largely in central India today but whose members were once part of a larger group of people and spread over a much larger land mass.
As the story goes, there once lived a creator. Originally he did not have a name, but over time as the tribes mixed with other groups and their religions, the creator god was given a name. Sometimes he is called Bada Deo, some call him Mahadeo and some Bhagavan. The creator was sitting on a lotus leaf when the idea of creating the world came to him. But how could he build a world with nothing. He thought and realised that he needed clay. But where would he find clay? He looked down but all there was, was water.
So the god rubbed his chest and removed some of the congealed dirt that had gathered there and made a crow. The crow flew around him and asked him where he should perch himself; for there was no land for as far as the eye could see. So the god said to him, get clay.
The crow flew away in search of the clay. He looked everywhere but all he could see was nothing but water. Flying for endless days and endless nights, the crow grew tired and exhausted. Until one day he finally could keep flapping his wings no longer and saw a stump peeking out from the endless sheet of water. He flopped down in relief. But no sooner had caught a breath, a voice accosted him: “Who is this sitting on my claw”, he asked.
The voice belonged to Kekda Mal, the crab. And the crow had landed on his claw. Frightened that the crab would shake him down into the water, the crow began telling him his tale of woe. The crow said that he could not go back without the clay because the god has asked him to get some. With that clay the god would create the world, but there was nothing but water all around cried the crow. Where was the clay?
Kekda Mal said to the crow, “The clay has gone to the nether world and is being eaten up by the earthworm”.
But Kekda Mal assured the crow that since the god had asked for the clay, he would help the crow get it. Kekda Mal dragged the earthworm out of his bed under water and told him what the god had told crow and what the crow had in turn told him. But earthworm was not convinced. The clay was his food, he said so why should he be asked to give it up?
Not one to believe in the powers of persuasion, Kekda Mal caught the earthworm by the neck and squeezed it really hard. Instantly, the earthworm spat out the clay. The crow grabbed it and flew back to Bada Dev. And that is how the world was made.
No, wait! There is more to the story. When the god tried to create the world, he laid out a sheet of clay on the water. But the clay was too thin and the water too ferocious and the clay kept sinking into the netherworld. So the god now called upon Makda Dev, the spider. And the spider spun a web across the sheet of water, the god spread the clay on the web and released all the animals and birds and other living beings on the earth.
Story collected by: Arundhuti Dasgupta
Location: Madhya Pradesh
Image Source:
Gond Creation myth, Makramal (spider) in the Gond creation Myth
Artist : Kalabai
Medium: Acrylic on canvas – 2′ x3′