Munda people – a product of Parashurama’s fury.
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Part 1 (Singbonga and Karam festival)
Part 2 (Savaras linked to Puri and Mage Parab to Dattatreya)
Part 3 (Pre-Renuka cult of Mundas)
Part 4 (Persia connected with Parashurama)
Part 5 (Castes that helped Parashurama)
Part 6 (Vanaras were human beings in disguise to escape from Parashurama)
Part 7 (From Ur to Munda)
Part 8 (Toda connection to the word 'Munda'
Part 9 (Maruttas as progenitors of Mundas and Asurs)
Part 10 (Fused cultture of Tamil & Sanskrit speaking Vedic society)


PART – 1

Munda speaking tribes are perhaps the much discussed but less understood people of India. Though
there were different opinions on their origins, recent genetics studies have shown that they were
indeed autochthonous to India and not of South East Asian origin {1}. Their genetic markers are
shared by many others in India thereby showing a shared origin within India many thousands of
years ago. This makes them part of ancient Indian history which we will discuss in this article.

(Photo taken in 1903)

The Munda group of people are identified by their language and cultural similarities. They are known
to have lived in seclusion for thousands of years in inaccessible regions of hills and forests of
Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Bangladesh, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh. Seclusion and
endogamy might have made their speech and habits unique to themselves, but a look at their
cultural and religious beliefs show them as sub-tracts of the Indian history who were forgotten for
long due to the exigencies of circumstances that forced them to retreat to seclusion.


Their belief system consists of worship of ancestors, spirits of ancestors, things in Nature including
rocks, mountains and trees and a God called Singbonga. Together these beliefs are called as “Sarna
Dharam” in which Sarna is interpreted as sacred grove. The tenets of Sarna Dharam are similar to
Hindu practices which have made researchers think that Hinduism had influenced these people. This
has given rise to an opinion that Hinduism with its Vedic roots was a later formation or a later
entrant to India and that Hindus and Mundari people were different from one another. With genetic
studies showing that Mundas are of the same genetic stock of other Indians, the focus shifts to their
cultural practices to ascertain whether there were cultural-inflows or they were a sub-set of larger
Hindu customs.

To take the most popular belief of the Mundari people, their worship of a God by name Singbonga
gives rise to interesting inter-connections. Singbonga is considered as the Creator God or Sun God. In
their language, it literally means Sun- spirit. By this we infer that they are Saura worshippers. But
they are not. Though they orient their houses towards east and greet the rising Sun, “not one of
them will ever aver that the Sun is his God or even that he dwells in it. The sun is for him the symbol
of Singbonga’s power, majesty, splendour. It is not a divinity in any respect whatsoever” {2}. This
means the Mundari conception of Singbonga did not exactly arise from Sun worship. This made the
researchers think that Mundas were perhaps influenced by their Hindu neighbours to worship Sun.
This implies that the so-called sun worship of Munda people does not come with the expected
tenets of sun worship. The reason for this is not to be traced to “Hindu influence” from outside but
to the very creation story that they have about themselves.


According to Munda tribes, Singbonga was the one who created them. It was he who gave them the
laws of life but did not project himself as the centre of their worship. This idea coupled with idea of
the special rituals done to Karam tree and the sacred grove rituals of Sarna, gives a different story
that fits with certain passages from Mahabharata, past records of some places and the recordings
done during the British period. According to Mundas, the Karam trees saved their ancestors who
were fleeing from an enemy. This means their ancestors had hidden themselves behind the trees or
in the trees to escape detection from the enemies. This had happened on a night time as they do the
worship and rituals to the karam tree at night with Moon and the stars as the witnesses. The
excessive importance given to ancestors and spirits of ancestors does reveal a story of a difficult
time when their ancestors, the first generation of Mundas were fleeing from death in the hands of
an enemy. At that time Singbonga had safe guarded them and paved way for them to start a new

The name Singbonga sounds similar to the name of a popular place in Jharkhand / Chota Nagpur
region where Mundas had been living for long. This place is “Singhbhum” whose meaning is pretty
obvious as Simha bhumi – the land of lions. But today there are no lions in this place though this

place has a thick forest cover to facilitate the presence of lions. There is no known association with
lions to this place. The only association exists with Singbonga, worshiped by Munda group people.

The name Singbonga is separated as Singa – bonga. Singa is a corrupt form of simha, the lion in many
languages including Tamil and Bengali. Bongo (বঙ) is how “Vanga” (Vanga desa) is called in Bengali
language - the language that is spoken in the vicinity of Mundas. So the name is Singa-vanga, a
native of Vanga desa who was valiant like a lion, who headed them in their escape from an enemy,
saved them from death and helped them to start a new life in the place where they had fled – which
were remote ones such as mountains or deep forests or inaccessible areas.

Indian history as found in Mahabharata shows that Vangas were indeed a group of people who ran
for shelter to escape from the fury of Parashurama! To avenge the death of his father, Parashurama
went around and killed Kshatriyas for 21 times. Mahabharata lists out many groups of people who
escaped from him and started living incognito by shedding kshatriya-hood. “Vangas” find a mention
in the list of such escapees. An important group of Mundari tribes namely “Savaras” also find a
mention in Mahabharata as the people who escaped from Parashurama.

Here is the translation of the verse from Mahabharata 7-68, on Vangas being vanquished by
Parashurama. We can see the names of other clans too who had escaped from him or defeated by

“The Kashmiras, the Daradas, the Kuntis, the Kshudrakas, the Malavas, the Angas, the Vangas, the
Kalingas, the Videhas, the Tamraliptakas, the Rakshovahas, the Vitahotras, the Trigartas, the
Martikavatas were all vanquished by Bhargava Rama.”


Here is the translation from Mahabharata 14-29 on Savaras having fled the fury of Parashurama:

“Then, some of the Kshatriyas, afflicted with the terror of Jamadagni's son, entered mountain-
fastnesses, like deer afflicted by the lion. Of them that were unable, through fear of Rama, to
discharge the duties ordained for their order, the progeny became Vrishalas owing to their inability
to find Brahmanas In this way Dravidas and Abhiras and Pundras, together with the Savaras, became
Vrishalas through those men who had Kshatriya duties assigned to them in consequence of their
birth, falling away from those duties. Then the Kshatriyas that were begotten by the Brahmanas
upon Kshatriya women that had lost their heroic children, were repeatedly destroyed by
Jamadagni's son. The slaughter proceeded one and twenty times.”

The above verse specifically states that the fleeing people had taken shelter in the mountains. It also
says that they fled as though they were trying to escape from a lion! This description found in the
context of Savaras’ escape to the mountains – obviously in the region around Singhbhum gives
another meaning to the name Singhbhum. Did Savaras call this place as Simha Bhumi, due to the
kind of fear it caused to them from lion-like Parashurama? This is a probable explanation as this fits
with the place and circumstance. The escape of ancestors of Mundari speaking people fits with the
narration in Parashurama’s episode.

The Mundari story on Singbonga shows that one Singa of Vanga desa had led them in their escape.
Many of their tribes were killed but others managed to escape by hiding themselves behind rocks
and trees and inside groves and caves and that is why all these structures are considered as worthy
of worship. The biggest festival called Karam festival is related to this early story of Munda people.

Karam festival

This festival is dedicated to Karam God who resides in the Karam tree. During this festival the Karam
sapling is procured from the forest and planted ritualistically. According to Munda people, the Karam
trees saved their forefathers who were fleeing from their enemies. They hid themselves behind the
Karam trees and escaped notice from their enemies. The Karam tree is supposed to possess a spirit
that had helped in their escape. The Karam puja is done with this belief to this day by all the Munda
groups. In the case of Mundas, this is done on the 11
day in the month of Bhadrapada once in three
years. The striking correlation is that this date in Bhadrapada in a normal year (when lunar and solar
years start close to each other), almost coincides with the first day of the Solar entry into Virgo
(Kanya rashi) which is exactly the first day of the year in a time scale called “Parashurama Era”!


The book “Useful tables forming an appendix to the Journal of The Asiatic Society” published in 1834
makes a brief note on Parashurama Era under the caption “Years numbered by cycles” (Yuga or Era)
. At the time of the recording done by the contributors to the Journal of the Asiatic society, this time
scale of Parashurama was still in vogue in peninsular India starting from Mangalore through
Malayalam speaking regions of “Malabar, Cotiote and Travancore, to cape Comorin”. It is stated that
this era was in cycles of 1000 years. It was a solar cum sidereal year which started when the sun
entered the sign Kanya (Virgo). The running era at that time of recording in the Journal was the 3

cycle. The date of 977
year in the 3
cycle is also given in this book as 14
September, A.D. 1800.
On checking it is found that it does coincide with the solar entry date into Virgo. As per that record,
Parashurama Yuga (era) had started in the 12
century BCE in this stretch along the West coast of
India! The knowledge of solar sankramana (entry into a sign) and division of the zodiac into 12 signs
and months had been there even at that time in this part of the country. Is it merely a coincidence
that the start of the Parashurama year and time of Karam festival are the same?

The similarity is not only about the date. It is also found with reference to the tree under discussion.
The Karam tree is known as Kadamba tree! But the Karam tree found in Munda regions in Chota
Nagpur is the Sal tree which is indigenous to that place. Kadamaba forests were in abundance in the
west coast in Tulu speaking regions. The Kadamba dynasty existed in that region. Even before that,
Nannan lineage had ruled the stretch including Konkan regions. There are references in Tamil
Sangam texts to a king Nannan whose royal flower was the golden hued Kadamba flower. Even the
very name Konkan was derived from a popular Tamil phrase in vogue at that time referring to this
ruler as “Pon padu kon-kaana Nannan” (NaRRiNai 361) and “Ponnam kaNNI polam thEr Nannan”
(PathiRRup patthu 40) in Sangam Tamil texts. Pon padu “Kon-kaanam” literally meaning “forest
having” gold referring to the golden coloured Kadamba flowers had come to stay as the name of the
place. Thus Kadamaba tree is an identity of the west coast of Konkan and Tuluva.

Golden coloured Kadamba flower


The Tuluva people were known to have celebrated the Kadamaba festival of the same kind as Karam
festival of the Mundas in the same month of Bhadrapada (to be precise, on the 11th lunar day of
Bhadrapada which is the date of Karam festival of Mundas of Chota Nagpur). {3} It was celebrated by
them as an agricultural festival. The kadamba twigs were brought and worshiped in the courtyard in
all the houses on this occasion in the Tulu speaking regions. This seems to be an olden practice,
perhaps coming from the time of start of the Parashurama Yuga. Similar practice of use of twigs is
seen in the New Year day of Vishu in Kerala. Use of twigs of importance to a place is common
feature in the New Year day.

Before jumping to a conclusion with our conditioned mind that this practice could have influenced
the Mundas or in other words, before making a conclusion that this Hindu practice had entered the
Munda culture who were not originally Hindus, let us see some other variations of this festival.

The same festival is being celebrated in the coastal region of Udupi, as a harvest festival by name
“Koral Parba” or “Pudvar”. This is celebrated on the day after the sun’s entry into Virgo – that is, on
the day after the New Year in Parashurama Era. The choice of the plant depends of the main product
produced in the region. For example corn is the product that is brought home with religious fervour
on this day of Pudvar.

Koral Parba or Thene Habba celebrated in Mangalore. (Pic courtesy)

In the Kadamba festival, Kadamba twigs were brought and worshiped. Today Kadamba festival is
officially celebrated in Karnataka in January as Kadambotsava in honour of the Kadamba dynasty

which ruled Kannara and Konkan regions. It is to be noted that the date had been changed from
September / Bhadrapada to January to a date that occurs soon after Makara sankramana. It is
believed that this date was the time the Kadamba kings celebrated as Spring festival. Going through
all these developments in Kadamba festival, one can see that the Karam festival of the Mundas was
different and not an agricultural festival. The semblance of an agricultural festival or a sacred grove
festival must have come after Kurukhs started mingling with them.

Kurukh also called as Oraon people are one of the Mundari speaking people found in Chota- Nagpur.
According to The Indian anthropological Society, the Kurukhs were of Konkan origin. {4} The Kurukhs
had migrated to Chota-Nagpur regions and started to co-exist along with the already existing Munda
groups. They too follow Sarna Dharam. There is scope to believe that the kadamba festival at the
start of Parashurama year was perhaps brought by Kurukhs to Mundari people. The date and
methods of the festival perhaps signify a cultural inflow in to Mundari life – not from “Aryans” or
Brahmins but from a similar kind of people of the Hindu stock.

Kurukhs / Oraons

But this line of thought rebels with the idea that Mundas were chased by Parashurama. Doubts may
arise that it does not sound logical for a people who managed to escape from Parashurama to
celebrate the Karam festival on the start of Parashurama year. But the fact of the matter is that the
Mundas have a memory of an enemy encountered by their first generation ancestors but not the
identity of that enemy. The Kurukhs carried a cultural festival which was originally a harvest festival.
But the Munda’s karam festival is not a harvest festival. It is a festival to remember and thank the
Karam God enshrined in the karam tree for having saved their ancestors. {5}. This difference is

crucial in ascertaining the origin of the festival which however has become more like a harvest
festival of the Konkan region thanks to the influence by Kurukhs.

When we analyse the Karam festival of Mundas further, we can see relics of Vedic practices. The
Mundas celebrate it on the 11
lunar day in the waxing period of Bhadrapada. This is one of the
Pitru-tarpan days in the Vedic society. This day (Shukla paksha Ekadashi in Bhadrapada) is regarded
as Tamasa-Manvadhi day when offerings (tarpan) are done to ancestors. The month of Bhadrapada
is dedicated to worship of ancestors. The waning phase of Bhadrapada is known as Pitru paksha
dedicated to the worship of ancestors. Similarly the corresponding solar month of Kanya is dedicated
to Pitru-worship. The very first day of Sun in Virgo / Kanya when the Parashurama Year started, was
actually a special time called Shadasheethi punya kala when pitru- tarpan is done in the Vedic
society. The Munda’s Karam puja meant for ancestral worship coming on the day of pitru tarpan in
Vedic society cannot be dismissed as a coincidence. It is because the Mundas do not observe Karam
puja every year, but only once in three years.

Karam festival 2009

Only once in three years the 11
lunar day of Bhadra pada (waxing phase), either coincides with
Solar entry into Virgo or occurs after the sun had entered Virgo. In the intervening 2 years, the 11

lunar day and Sun’s position do not occur in Virgo or in Kanya month. In the intervening 2 years the
sun will be in Leo and not in Virgo. This can be demonstrated by the following table that shows the
date of 11
moon in Bhadrapada and the corresponding position of Sun for a few years starting from
2012 AD.

lunar day in
Sun’s position.
Sep 25, 2012 9
day in Virgo Karam Puja
Sep 15, 2013 29
day in Leo
Sep 5, 2014 19
day in Leo
Sep 24, 2015 7
day in Virgo Karam Puja
Sep 12, 2016 26
day in Leo
Sep 1, 2017 15
day in Leo
Sep 20, 2018 4
day in Virgo Karam Puja
Sep 9, 2019 23
day in Leo
Sep 28, 2020 12
day in Leo
Sep 16, 2021 1
day in Virgo Karam Puja

{This table has been prepared to show how the dates coincide only once in three years. Today the
karam festival is celebrated every year as a worship of sacred grove and as a harvest festival. Other
tribes of the Mundari group of languages celebrate on slightly different dates.}

The above table shows that the Karam Puja of the Mundas had been timed to coincide with solar
month of Virgo that is special for ancestral worship. Either they had knowingly followed a pre-
existing custom of pitru tarpan on the 11
day in Bhadrapada falling in Virgo or that was the actual
date when their ancestors had taken shelter behind the Karam tress.

It is too preposterous to think that the memory of the day of escape had stayed on with them for
thousands of years. But the importance given to Moon and the stars in the karam puja as witnesses
at the time of the escape of their ancestors gives credence to the belief that they indeed
remembered the lunar thithi of the day of escape. This date must have occurred in the solar month
of Virgo, prompting them to stick to luni- solar basis for this festival.

Another probability is that once after having settled down to a new life, apparently under the
guidance of Singbonga, they had started doing annual pitru-worship in the solar month of Virgo. The
start of the Parashurama New Year also comes with such a connection. Why the solar sankramana

day in Virgo was chosen for Parashurama New Year is something of a surprise, given that
Parashurama Jayanthi is observed in another month namely Margashira. The Month of Virgo does
not seem to have any connection with Parashurama. It was in fact the time of Tamasa Manu’s

Tamasa Manu was the period of 4
Manvanthra which was followed by Raivata Manu whose sons
were headed by Arjuna, Bali and Vindhya. (The episode of Gajendra Mokha occurred in Tamasa
manvantra) The people living in the region of Vindhyas were perhaps denoted by this. This gives
credence to a thought that the people living in the Vindhyas were perhaps remembering the
previous Manvadhi of Tamasa Manu and were offering oblations for the Tamasa Manvadhi day. This
is to say that the inhabitants of Vindhya, Narmada and the surrounding regions where Parashurama
lived, could have held this day (Tamasa Manvadhi / Virgo sankramana) as special for pitru tarpan.
Otherwise why this date was chosen for Parashurama year? There is another way of explanation
too. Parashurama was known to have made a terrible offering of blood of the people slain by him in
Samanta Panchaka, to his ancestors. In keeping with that, the Year by his name was started on a day
that is special for making offerings to ancestors.

It must be noted here that even the Tamil New Year day that starts on sun’s entry into Aries was
originally ‘celebrated’ by doing sacrifices and making offerings to the departed pitrus {6}. Any
sankramana day is reserved for pitru tarpan. In the case of Chandramana, the New Year or new
month is started on the day after pitru tarpan (done on every New Moon day).

In the light of these rules, the Karam puja falling on the day of Kadamba festival in the regions that
followed Parashurama Era, is truly for the purpose of remembering ancestors and not for celebrating
harvest. The similarity in date with Kadamba festival coinciding with Parashurama New Year must be
to do with a much older practice coming from pre- Parashurama days, of remembrance of ancestors
on the first day of the solar month of Virgo. That day being Tamasa Manvadhi day of importance to
people of the Vindya range supports the origin of Mundas from that region.

The Mundas’ Karam puja coming on a date known for pitru-worship seems to be a conscious choice
of the date by the early Mundas as a continuing practice from their previous tradition. Even if this
idea is rejected, it is still seen that the choice of the date once in three years in the month known for
ancestor worship shows that they were previously following Vedic tradition that accord importance
to worship of ancestors.

In the present context we can see Vedic connection in another myth of Karam festival. According to
this myth there were two brothers called karma and Dharma. Dharma had a dream in which Karam
God appeared and told him to celebrate and arrange for a puja in his honour in return for which he

will have many crops, livestock and riches. When Dharma told this dream to Karma, Karma ignored
it. A few years later Dharma became rich and Karma became poor. Karma understood his folly and
started celebrating Karam God along with Dharma. They became rich and this formed the basis for
the celebration of Karam festival.

This story is a symbolism of the need to do one’s work in rightful ways. Such work pays well. The
work in the context of Mundas is to raise food (crops and livestock) in the forested and hilly tracts.
This requires hard work but if they do that, it will pay. The name Karam and Dharam and the idea of
doing karma and getting fruits of it when done in dharmic ways are all ideas of the Vedic culture. The
karam puja is an indigenous one and no one brought it to them. Even the Kadamba / karam details
that we saw above do show that Mundas had an independent and original reason to celebrate it as
seen from the time and cause of the festival. A pre-existing idea among them had been formulated
as a myth and they had stuck to it as it induced them to do hard work in unfriendly terrains.

{1} http://ispub.com/IJBA/4/2/5591.
{2} Ponette P. Foot note in “Social water management among Munda people in the Sundarban” Part
3, Page 32
{3} http://eol.org/data_objects/10017709
{4} http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oraon
{5} “Social water management among Munda people in the Sundarban” Part 3, Page 35
{6} “Madras Journal of Literature and Science” Vol 1, page 42.

(End of Part 1)


PART - 2

One of the popular Munda hamlets in Chota- Nagpur is Datinakhali. This name sounds like Dakshina
Kali! Dakshina Kali is the form of Kali who drinks the blood of the people slain in a battle field and
dances on dead bodies in the battle field. (This description is found in many texts of Tamil Sangam
literature). Her fury is such that she tramples on her consort Shiva while dancing over the corpses.
There is no Puranic basis for this description of Dakshina Kali. This could have come up from the
Mundas and Savaras due to the loss of their folks in a war with Parashurama where no rhyme or
reason was followed on who was being killed and why. There is evidence to show that this Kali was
indeed a deity personified by this terror struck people and propitiated well for release from a
recurrence of similar fatalities.

There is a shrine for Dakshina Kali in Jagannath temple at Puri.

Entrance of the Dakshina Kali temple.

When we go through the culture of Savara also known as Saora, Saura and Sabara living in the hills
of Jharkhand, Odisha and coastal Andhra, we come to know that a Savara king by name Viswabasu
(Vishwavasu ) had worshiped Lord Nrusimha! This is a surprise connection because their saviour was
Singavanga or Singabonga – an entity with the name lion. This Lord Nrusimha was in Neela giri, the
place which is now known as Puri!. This lord was called as Neela Madhabha. The image of the deity

was made of the wood of a tree – a thing that Mundas considered as having the soul as their
ancestors were saved by the trees. The Savara king had worshiped in secrecy and no one knew
where this deity was housed. Why such secrecy should happen, if it is not for the reason that the
Mundas and Savaras had been for ages living in fear of being found out and killed? The fear must
have existed initially but later on such secrecy and seclusion could have become a habit.

In due course the Savara king was duped by King Indradyumna to reveal the location of this deity but
managed to hide it under the sand. However the deity revealed Itself to King Indradyumna who was
pursuing it with devotion {1}. That deity is worshiped as Lord Jagannatha of Puri. This story has been
detailed in Skanda Purana, Brahma Purana and other works found in Oriya language.

Puri is the location of both Dakshina Kali and Lord Nrusimha who was supposed to have been
worshiped by the Savara king. The whereabouts of Nrusimha temple was never known. No one had
ever seen this deity. It was only hearsay that Savaras worshiped Nrusimha perhaps due to their
connection with Singbonga. But the deity that he was supposed to have worshiped came to be called
as Jagannatha. He worshiped an image made of wood. The image of Puri Jagannatha is also made of
wood. If some myth makers wanted to weave a story around Lord Jagannatha, they need not have
invented a story with a king of Savaras coming from a previous time of the actual consecration of
Lord Jagannatha. In fact Savaras were not thought of as elites. It serves no purpose to have invented
a Savara connection to this deity unless such a thing had happened in reality.

Another information from Puranas is that Lord Jagannath Himself was Dakshinakalika. It is also true
that a temple of Dakshina Kali does exist in Puri and is associated with Lord Jagannatha {2}. Perhaps
to conceal the movement of Savara kings outside their hide-outs, confusing ideas were floated. But
once found out, the Savara king had withdrawn. The deity he worshiped continued to exist in
another form (Jagannatha) thanks to King Indradyumna. The period of Puri Jagannatha is such that it
must have been certainly before 2000 years. The iconographic details of the 3 deities of Krishna-
siblings (that we find in Jagannath temple of Puri) were in existence as we find them in Brihad
Samhita 58- 35&36 written by Varahamihira.

The presence of Dakshina Kali in the same place cannot be ignored as a recent development, for,
Dakshina Kali had better relevance for Savaras and Mundas as people who suffered sudden
annihilation in the hands of Parashurama. Parashurama had attacked kshatriyas again and again for
21 times. Perhaps Puri and its surrounding regions were the location of Savaras and Mundas before
they were attacked by Parashurama. This location corroborates with the description in Mahabharata
where Savaras are mentioned along with Kiratas and Yavanas. (12-64-3569, 13-14-1074, 13-35-
4170). Of these people, the location of Kiratas is given in no uncertain terms that they (Kiratas) were
“living on the northern slopes of the Himavat and on the mountain from behind which the sun rises
and in the region of Karusha on the sea-coast and on both sides of the Lohitya mountains.” (2-51-
2138). This puts them in North east India of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam etc.

The Vangas occupied present day Bengal and Bangladesh. South – south west of it was Kalinga
where Puri / Dakshina Kali are located. The ancestors of Savaras and Mundas, had they lived in this
region of Kalinga and were killed by Parashurama, then there is every reason to believe that this
place became the place of Dakshina Kali – the Kali who drinks the blood of people killed in battle and
dances on their corpses. Even after they had managed to flee and take a hiding in Chota Nagpur
mountains, they – who were hell bent of worshiping their ancestors till today- could have come to
this place to pay obeisance to the killed ancestors and appease Dakshina Kali who was symbolically
associated with battle fields.

Puri being the location of Dakshina Kali could have been the ancestral region of Mundas and Savaras.
This location is close enough to Haihaya location and Parashurama’s location at Mahendragiri.

Kartha veeryarjuina of Haihayas was the main enemy of Parashurama. His kingdom was in
Mahishmati, in present day Maheshwar.


Though Parashurama’s exact place of birth is not known he was known to have done penance at
Mahendra giri in today’s Odisha. This is corroborated with Mahabharata narration of Parashurama
during the pilgrimage of the Pandavas. {3}. Thus the link between the regions of Mundas (Dakshina
Kali), Mahendra hill of Parashurama and Mahishmati exists.

Parashurama has attacked Savaras, Vangas, Angas, Malavas etc who were all neighbourhood people
in this part of the country. He had cleansed the regions north, south and east of the Vindhyas of
every kshatriya living at that time.

The Haihayas had been completely decimated. The Savaras (saura worshipers – on the east coast of
Odisha where Konark Sun temple was established in later days) were attacked and made to flee.
Their final destination was Chota Nagpur in Bihar. Later they spanned to Sundarbans.


This dispersal on the wake of threat from Parashurama makes sense for the seclusion of these
people, cutting off all connection with rest of the country. Vanga Desa being close-by, Singa Vanga
(Singbonga) and his men had fled with Savaras. He restored order in the new settlement and
enforced the do’s and dont’s for the safety of the people. This made him their foremost God whose
rules they followed in toto and dared not to violate them for fear of exposure to Parashurama’s fury.
This stayed on as a habit as time went by. The Savaras perhaps known for Saura worship had fused
the idea of sun worship with Singbonga. In course of time, due to lack of exposure and education,
the original meaning of words were lost. Bonga in Singbonga was taken to mean just “God”.

Such kind of mutations in meaning is not seen in words of universal understanding. For example the
word ‘parba’ in Munda festivals such as Mage Parba and Makar parba refers to ‘parva’, the Sanskrit
word for festival. This word and its meaning were wide spread and therefore did not undergo drastic
changes as with ‘bonga’ that came to mean ‘god’. Parba is found among Tulu speakers as “koral
parba” which is the equivalent of Kadamba festival. Koral parba refers to the parva of koral, which
refers to corn. {4}

“Koral” is in fact a Tamil word “Korali”, a synonym for a millet called “thinai”. This Koral is known as
‘thene’ in Tulu which is the stunted Tamil word “thinai”, the millet. The Koral parba in Tulu is called
as Thene Habba – habba is the word corrupted from Pabba < parba < parva. Here we find a mix of
Tamil and Sanskrit words. Parva > Parba found in Munda languages could either be an influence
from Kurukhs or a continuing tradition with Munda speakers. But the meaning had not changed
while the word had changed. Such retention of meaning happens in widely used or common terms.
In contrast Bonga that mutated from Vanga was not a widely used word and hence lost its meaning
in course of time.

Mage Parba.
The Mage Parba celebrated by Munda speakers carry an important feature of Parashurama’s
connection. Among the Mundari speakers, Santals and Oraons do not observe Mage Parab (Mage
festival). Only Mundas and Ho people celebrate it {5}. For Munda people this festival and its timing is
very important. They celebrate it on the Full Moon day in Paus month which comes in December –
January. For them this festival marks a remembrance and worship of ancestors or worship of
Orabongako, referring to house-hold Gods. The striking similarity is that this is the day of Dattatreya
Jayanthi observed in Andhra and central Indian regions.

Dattatreya was the preceptor of Haihaya rulers. Karthaviryarjuna had followed him. This is taken to
mean that friends of Karthaviryarjuna also had followed him. The Mundas being a clan who fell to
the wrath of Parashurama could in all possibility be the followers of Dattatreya. The Mage Parba

observed for deceased ancestors and Household God might refer to the remembrance of Dattatreya
from their earlier tradition. This feature of Mundas is not found with any other clan of the Mudari

Coming to the name of the festival, Dattatreya’s birth day falls on Full Moon of Paush which is the
solar month of Margazhi in Tamil. This month is also called as “Magasiram” in Tamil, which is a
Tamilised word for Sanskrit Margashira. Maga, Magasira etc refer to Margazhi month (solar
Sagittarius / Dhanur masa) in Tamil. This word in Munda language as Mage+parab shows the
presence of both Tamil and Sanskrit in the language of the ancestors of Mundas.

Dattatreya Jayanthi has no followers in Tamil nadu. In fact Dattatreya is not at all a known figure in
Tamil lands. Only people who were connected with Haihayas or living in the vicinity of Vindhyas and
Naramada must have followed him. Both Dattatreya of Atri clan and Jamadagni (father of
Parashurama) of Bhargava / Brighu clan had co-existed in the vicinity of Vindhya ranges or Narmada
river. The Bhargavas were not favoured by the Haihayas and their friends. They patronised the Atris.
The worship of preceptors is a Vedic tradition. The Haihayas and their friends must have done that
which is why Dattatreya Jayanthi continues to be observed till today in those parts of India where
they lived. This Jayanthi is observed in Andhra regions too. This fits with our deduction of early roots
of Mundari people in nearby Odhisha (Puri). It must be remembered that the Mundari speaking
groups are found in Andhra coast also. For the people who had been suddenly cut off from rest of
the society, the special dates of previously followed traditions can be best remembered by the lunar
days. The crux of the festivals had been remembered and retained but other details were lost over

Yet another imprint from Mundari practices that shows their previous connection to Vindhyas and
Narmada is found in a practice among Santals, an important Mundari speaking tribes. This practice
gives further clues on why the Mundas are called as they are. It will be discussed in the next part.

{1} http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sora_people
{2} http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kali#Dakshina_Kali.
{3} Vana parva, Chapter 115 to 118
{4} www.udupipages.com/art-culture/pudvar.php
{5} “The scheduled tribes of India”, Goving Sadashib Ghurye, p. 267
(End of Part 2)

PART – 3
Santals are one of the Mundari speaking groups. They along with Mundas, Oraons and Hos form
almost four fifth of the total population of Mundari speakers. {1) . The festivals and cultural
traditions are almost similar among all these groups. However the Santals follow a custom of their
own, not found in others. This custom reminds us of a connection with Parashurama.

This custom pertains to a pilgrimage that Santals make to a place called "Rajrappa", located at the
confluence of rivers Damodar and Bhairavi {2}. Like Hindus who immerse the ashes of the deceased
ancestors in the Ganges in sacred spots like Kasi, Santals immerse the ashes of the ancestors in the
Damodar river near Rajrappa. They believe that this was their final resting place. They make annual
visits to this place in December every year. Though the Ganges and its tributaries are flowing near
the habitats of these tribes, they choose to do the ceremony at river Damodar. This shows their
previous roots in this part of Jharkhand with a tradition of doing pitru ceremonies in Damodar river.
The surprising feature found in this place is a temple for Goddess Chhinnamasta, having a headless
body! {3}. Chhinnamasta means “she whose head is severed”.


This Goddess with a severed head is standing on the body of Kama deva and Rati on a lotus bed. This
reflects the life of Renuka, the mother of Parashurama. Renuka’s head was cut off by Parashurama
under the order of his father. The reason for that was that she was distracted by the love-play of a
couple in the water place where she had gone to fetch water. That is depicted by the body of Kama
deva and Rati on a lotus bed. The Goddess standing on them with her head severed is depictive of
what happened to Renuka on being distracted by the couples in love-play in a water-place.

This temple is a Shakthi Peeth and this deity is regarded as a form of Shakthi. But the iconography
shows that she is Renuka Devi. Though the Shakthi Sthals are related to the mythical story of Sati,
the depiction of this deity resembling Renuka shows her as someone who lived and remained in
memory and was identified as Shakthi.

Usually Renuka Devi is depicted only with the head. The place called Mahur in Maharashtra is
supposed to be where her head had fallen. Only the head of Renuka Devi is the object of worship
here {4}.

Renuka Devi in Mahur.


The head-alone image of the Devi is seen with various names throughout Peninsular India but
generally absent in North India (north of Vindhyas). Yellamma, Mariamma and the whole range of
Amman images found in Tamil nadu have only the head as the main deity. Compared to this, the
image of Chhinnamasta seems to be the oldest one before Renuka worship was formed as a cult.
Chhinnamasta depicts a scene of losing her head, even though it is shown as a self-inflicted one.

The presence of Chhinnamasta in the vicinity of a sacred place of Santals shows that Renuka
worshipers or Parashurama-followers had a presence there. Something forced the Santals to leave
this place and migrate to Chota Nagpur regions. Generally there were two causes for migration of
people anywhere in ancient India in the past– one due to famine and another due to invasion by an
unfriendly king. Rajrappa is on the banks of Damodar river and therefore there is no scope to
believe that the Santals migrated in search of food. The only other cause seems to be some mortal
threat- the threat seems to have come from Parashurama, as Santals were of kshatriya kind.

The Santals claim themselves to be kshatriyas and are known to be doing martial dances even now.
They go for hunting which they celebrate as a festival by name “Disum Sendra” – a name that sounds
like Tamil “Disai sendra” –which has an equivalent in Sanskrit “dik vijaya”. Parashurama’s agenda
against warriors must have driven them out of the Damodar valley. But they had come back to keep
up with their tradition, once the situation had improved. By then the Chhinnamasta worship had
come to stay in the place which Parashurama had ‘cleansed’ of Kshatriyas. This offers a logical
explanation for why the Santals who make pilgrimage to this place for ancestral worship, are not
known to have worshipped this Devi. A supportive proof comes from the company they keep in their
new settlement. The Santals had joined Savaras who escaped from Parashurama. They had also
joined Mundas whose first generation ancestors were known to have escaped from an enemy. All of
them are known to have lived away from others in these settlements for ages.

Parashurama and Renuka cult.

Parashurama is considered as an avatar perhaps due to the reason that he virtually changed
demographic map of India and ushered in a new cult. Renuka cult with the head-alone feature
wherever it is seen, is perhaps the proof of spread of Parashurama’s followers. The names vary, but
the deity in worship is seen only with the head.

It is no coincidence that the tantric worship of Shakthi has been attributed to Parashurama.
Parashurama Kalpasutra, originally given by Parashurama might have been the result of resurrecting
the image of his mother and helping people to draw benefits by worshiping her in different forms
and in different ways. Even the nine day festival of Navratri or Dussehra could have had its origins in

Renuka cult from the times of Parashurama. The Shakthi Puja and Navaratri puja come along with
worship of the head of the Goddess mounted on a sacred pot.

This festival seems to have a basis in the Soma sacrifices done for nine nights in the Vedic culture. It
is stated in the 4
anuvaka of the 2
prashna of 7th kanda of the Taittriya samhita that Prajapati
created the 9-night Soma sacrifices for the sake of progeny and to relieve people from illnesses. The
nine nights are divided into 3 parts of 3 nights each dedicated to terrestrial, atmospheric and
celestial derivations (Bhu- Bhuvah- Sva as Jyotis, Go and Ayus). The end result was to attain freedom
from sickness and attain immortality.

Usually there are two popular navaratris – vasantha and sharad navaratri. The Sharad navaratri
coming in Kanya month is dedicated to Devi worship, since it is the time of Dakshinayana. The
Sharad navaratri homa seems to have given way for Shakthi worship, with leanings on Renuka cult.
The various forms of Shakthi or Renuka Devi were worshiped throughout India cutting across rural,
tribal or urban differences mostly in times of epidemics, diseases like chicken pox, drought conditions
and hardships. One can note the similarity with the 9-day Soma Yajna with reference to the aim of
worship in seeking freedom from sickness.

Pre-Renuka culture of Mundas .

Absence of Renuka-cult worship of head-alone is a striking feature among Mundas. Their cultural
practices and specific festivals that seem to be indigenous and age-old resemble a cultural set-up of
Renuka’s times or before. For example the regular feature in Renuka’s life was to go to the river
(water source) everyday, make a pot freshly and carry water back home. It is difficult to believe that
a freshly made pot gets dried so soon that it can carry water. Leaving aside the mythical part, it can
be interpreted that Renuka was skilful in making mud pots from river sand. Her very name Renuka
signifies that she is known for something to do with fine particles of sand. Perhaps this name was
related to her skill in making pots from river sand.

On a particular day she did not return home in time. And when she returned she did not bring water
too. That infuriated her husband, Jamadagni who had actually suspected her fidelity. He did not
hesitate for a moment to deliver the punishment. In a surprising parallel we find similar ideas
among Mundas.

The pond (in the absence of a river near the Mundari settlements) plays an integral part in the life of
the Munda people. It is called Pukur – a word which is similar to “Pukar” in Tamil which refers to the
estuary of a river (the region of entry of the river into the sea). Pumpukar in Tamilnadu is also known

as Pukar. Pukur is considered sacred for the Mundas. For every celebration, the water from this
sacred pond is collected in ceremonial ways.

During all these occasions, the Mundas have traditional songs to be sung. One of the themes of
these songs is surprisingly similar to what Jamadagni could have thought!! It says, ‘many wives have
gone to bring drinking water, but they have not come back quickly; the morning, the afternoon and
the evening came but they have not returned. So the husbands ask very anxiously to the people ‘have
you seen my wife’?”
This is reflective of a mindset of a community having insecure feelings about the wife. The only
occasion she goes out without the company of the male folk is when goes to the water source to
fetch water for household purposes. The suspicion on her fidelity is manifest at one of ceremonies at
the time of marriage in Munda community. This is called as “cutting the water” in which the sisters
of the bride and brothers of the groom go to Pukur, cut the water with a sickle and collect the water
(as though water is cut and collected). This water is used to bath the bride and the groom after
which they enter into a blood bonding ceremony of taking blood from the little finger. This blood is
collected in a mango leaf and at the end of the marriage ceremony thrown into Pukur. For them this
water (pukur) is the witness to the bonding of the couple and also the fidelity of the bride.

The Munda practice of ‘cutting the water’ at marriage and ceremonial songs exhibiting worries over
the wife not returning from the water source do remind of the times of Renuka. The water-cutting
ceremony reflects a very ancient practice that “symbolises the right of the injured husband to kill
the unfaithful wife or her paramour” {5} These traits in the practice of the Mundas are same as how
they existed in Renuka’s times. This could have existed in any community where women had to go
out alone to fetch water. Jamadagni’s anger was reflective of the reaction of a male in such a setup.
But Renuka’s episode could have helped in churning the conscience of the people of that time.
However such suspicions would continue to persist as it is to do with human nature but not
necessarily or not only with water-related practice as Mundas do. Mundas seem to have frozen in
time with the ideas of the period of Jamadagni. It seems they were cut off in Time once they had
entered into seclusion.

Next to Karam Puja, the most important puja of the Mundas is Monsa Puja. The deity for this puja is
just a pot filled with water. This is comparable with how the kalash puja is done during Navratri. The
kalash puja done on any occasion of Devi puja has the head of the Devi kept on the mouth of the
water-pot. This feature is absent in the Monsa Puja of Mundas. They seem to be continuing with an
age old custom of worshiping the water-pot alone.


After Renuka-episode, the head has been added in the puja of the water pot in rest of India – a
practice that continues till today. Worship of the Goddess of any form of Shakthi comes with the
head of the Goddess placed on top of the water pot. Some illustrations are shown below.


Varalakshmi Puja
(pic courtesy http://www.ikolam.com/varalakshmi-pooja-8 )

Gowri Habba
(Pic courtesy:- http://yumfactor.blogspot.in/2012/09/patolis-for-gowri-gauri-puja.html)

The head-alone worship of the Goddess in the water-pot is found in household worship and it is
found in almost all the Amman temples of Tamilnadu. Whatever is the description or posture of the
Goddess in the temple, the main deity is a head-alone female.


The above picture shows the temple image of the head-only of the Goddess at the ground level and
the full form of the deity at the background. This kind of depiction is found in all Amman temples of
Tamilnadu. This form is the result of tantric mode of worship that had come up with or after
Parashurama and after the episode involving Renuka.

Looking for places where head-alone feature is seen, they are present in places outside India. It will
be discussed in the next part.


{1} “History, Religion and Culture of India” Vol 4, edited by Gajram
{2} http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rajrappa
{3} http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chhinnamasta_Temple
{4} http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahur,_Maharashtra
{5} Ponette (1978:132) “Social water management among Munda people in the Sundarban” Vol 3

(End of Part 3)


PART – 4

The head-alone cult of Renuka worship is not confined to India alone. The head-alone image is seen
in the myths and art of ancient Greece too. It is the Gorgon head which resembles Goddess Kali with
protruding tongue and dreadful looks. What is surprising is that many of these art works on Gorgon
heads do show them with a Tilak on the forehead, a symbol that is unique to Hindus and Hindu

In this image, the Gorgon head in Vix-krater's handles, unearthed from the grave of the Celtic Lady of
Vix, dated at 510 BC shows the face of Kali with a tilak on the forehead. {1}

Yet another popular find from Greek art was a cup having a painting of the Gorgoneion in the image
of Kali with a round bindi on her forehead. This is dated at 6
century BCE. {2}


In the Greek myths, there are three Gorgons that are females with terrible faces and winged bodies.
One of them, Medusa found in a clay plaque dated at 570 -550 BC and housed at Syracuse resembles
the posture of Garuda or Eagle as carrier (that is found in most temples in Tamilnadu and used in
temple precessions to carry the deity), but having the face of Kali with a tilak on the forehead. {3}


Compare this for the iconographic similarities with Garuda, the divine Eagle that carries Vishnu.
The following image is of Garuda found in Badami caves.

Garuda is carrying the celestials. Look at the position of legs and up-turned wings while flying. This is
how the Syracuse Gorgon (previous pic) is also seen.
Following is the image of Garuda carrier that is used in procession of Gods in Garuda- vahana and
found in numerous temples.


The leg-position is something that is identical in these figures.

These figures found in India are of recent times compared to the Greek images. But the idea of
Garuda as a carrier of Vishnu comes from India and must have pre-dated Parashurama. There are
Garudas, Kinnaras, Gandharvas, Nagas° etc mentioned at many places in the Puranas. Superficial
reading may give an impression that these are all mythical characters. But a branched-out study of
Hindu texts would reveal that Garuda symbolises good eyesight. An eagle can see from a greater
height a small chick on the ground and swiftly swoop down on it and fly back with it as fast as it
came. The link between eye sight and Eagle is made out from texts like Prasna Marga that prescribe
donation of the image of Garuda as a remedy for eyesight problems. {4}

From this it is presumed that reference to certain people as Garudas or eagles was because they
were endowed with good eye sight and swiftness in movement. It is for this reason Lord Vishnu is
supposed to travel on the Eagle whenever he had to rush to the rescue of his devotee caught in the
hands of a tormentor. Thus the concept and its application are found in Hindu thought. The image of
Garuda / Eagle of the Gorgon of Syracuse must have travelled from India only.

The strong reason to say this is because the most popular idea of Vishnu having mounted on the
eagle to rush to the rescue of his devotee was that of Gajendra Moksha in which an elephant called
Gajendra was caught by a crocodile. According to Puranas, this episode happened during the period
of Tamasa Manu, who was worshiped by the people in and around the Vindhya region. It was in the
same region, the head-alone cult of Renuka got shaped.

The earliest reference to Gorgon comes in Homer’s works dated at 12
century BCE. The focus of
reference was the eyes of the Gorgon. They were huge, flashing and depicted variously as spirals,
swastikas, fire wheels and concentric circles and so on – something in line with the Garuda concept
of sharp eyesight. The Eagle-as- carrier concept was fused with the idea of eyesight, such that it was
believed that the gaze from the eyes of the Gorgon, when falls on someone would destroy him / her
or turn them into stones (incapacitated). The Syracuse Gorgon Medusa image was symbolic of
travelling like an Eagle to instantly reach the tormentor and destroy him.

Gorgon Medusa has a parallel to Renuka’s head-alone image. Renuka was beheaded by
Parashurama. Medusa was beheaded by Perseus.


Persia and Parashurama
In the Greek myth, Perseus beheaded Medusa and carried her head to kill his enemies, by putting it
out in front of anyone whom he wanted to kill. The origin of Perseus is still a matter of speculation.
There is an opinion that Perseus means “Persian” or that he was from Persia as there are portrayals
of him in Persian style pyjamas, boots, cap etc. The word Persia has its origins in Old Persian word
“Parsuwash”. No etymology exists for this word, Parsuwash.

However in the records of Shalmaneser III (reign 858-824 BCE), two names are mentioned in the
area of Lake Urmia- one is Parsuwash and the other is Matai. It is not known whether Parsuwash
refers to a people or a place. But "Parsuwash" is considered to be same as the Old Persian word
pārsa. {5}. Did this refer to Parashu or Parash-wasi? Was Persia the region where the people who
followed Parashurama lived? Were they called as Parashu > Parashu-wasi > Parsuwash? Was the
name Perseus rooted in Parashu? Is it merely a coincidence that Perseus, whose name is
phonetically similar to Parshu-vas, did a similar act of beheading a woman as Parashurama did?

Parashu in Sanskrit means axe. The very name Parashurama came up due to the axe or parashu he
was carrying. It is with that weapon he killed the kshatriyas. Did the people of Parsuwash carry the
axe and the Renuka cult to other regions of Europe? This looks plausible, as we find the axe as the
Royal symbol of power in the pre-Greek society. The Etruscans who occupied Greece ever since 12

century BCE until the Roman conquest in 3
century BCE, had axe as their Royal symbol of power to
punish and execute wayward subjects.


During Royal processions this axe was carried by an official in front of the procession. This was made
with a bundle of sticks having an axe tied to it {6}. It must be noted here that the head-alone Medusa
also finds a place only in this period of pre-Greek culture.

Parashurama was known for having beheaded Renuka and been terrible in destroying his enemies.
Was that used by a native of Parsuwash – i.e., Perseus, in conquering others and establishing his
supremacy? Did Perseus get the inspiration from Parashurama and killed his enemies while holding
the severed head of a woman? It must be remembered that Parashurama’s killing spree started
upon the death of his mother and father.

There is scope to connect Persia with the followers of Parashurama. Parashurama’s anger had gone
upto Kashmir as we find Mahabharata mentioning Kashmiras as having fled from his anger. {7}. Son
of Sibi, the Sauviras located in present day Pakistan had gone into hiding to escape from
Parashurama. Therefore those regions and the adjoining ones must have been populated by the
people who helped him in his fight against the kshatriyas. (Certainly Parashurama could not have
killed the kshatriyas all by himself. He must have taken local help in every region that he went to
flush out the kshatriyas). In course of time that pocket having Parashurama’s followers could have
become known as Parashwa or Parshuwas or Parashu- vaasi. The phonetic similarity is not the only
indicator. How the idea of Medusa with severed head having the features of the Hindu Goddess got
into their myth must be satisfactorily explained. Any explanation would bring us to Hindu traditions

Perhaps the much earlier version of head-alone can be traced to Sesklo culture – located in the same
place, i.e., Greece and dated at 6000 BCE.

It was a ceramic mask having a terrible look.

It looks close to the Kirtimukha image of Hindu temple architecture {8}
This is also a head-alone figure!


There is a narration in Shiva Purana tracing the story of Kirtimukha, thereby showing its origin in
Hindu culture {9}. The Kirtimukha is shown to be eating the tail of the snake! In a surprising
connection, Renuka was known to have always picked up a snake, coiled it up like a rope and placed
it on her head to support the pot that she freshly made and filled with water. It is possible to
visualise how she would have struggled waiting to be beheaded and at the moment of getting
beheaded. Picking out the snakes that she used to use as support for the pot, she could have bitten
her teeth holding them in her mouth. The shock and pain at the moment of getting beheaded was
perhaps depicted in the image of Kirtimukha. Those who suffered intensely were deified in Hindu
culture. Her image could have got developed into Kirtimukha image and later re-defined by Puranic
sages with mythical symbolisms.

Interestingly the Gorgon images of Greek myths also come with snakes as hair. Of them Medusa was
beheaded by Perseus. According to Greek myths, those on whom the gaze of the head of Medusa
fell were turned into stones. Perhaps this was the reaction of people who happened to see the
gruesome moment of beheading, becoming numb like a stone. Perhaps that reaction was witnessed
in Renuka’s episode and remembered for long. Perhaps that was carried into the myth of Medusa by


One of the drawbacks in establishing the Hindu roots and stories such as these on Parashurama is
the lack of evidence from archaeology. However Parashurama’s story comes with verifiable clue on
marine archaeology in that it was he who was supposed to have reclaimed the lands on the west
coast of India from the Arabian Sea. How did he do that? Did the sea level recede at that time? Or
did he reclaim lands and build barriers to stop sea water from entering the lands? The latter seems
to have happened.

An expedition carried out by Deccan College of Pune and the Department of Science and
Technology of the Central Government had found a 24 km long wall of 2.7m height and a width of
around 2.5m off the Konkan coast in the sea waters. It shows that the land had once extended upto
that and the wall had prevented erosion and entry of sea waters. The details with photographs can
be read at

Experts from National Institute of oceanography have dated this wall at 6000 BCE. This puts the time
period of reclamation, attributed to Parashurama at 8000 years BP. The amazing correlation comes
from the Sesklo culture of Greece in that the face mask found there is also dated at around 6000
BCE! Is this only a coincidence? Or did people really carry the Renuka cult of head-alone to the
places they went?

Parashurama’s times and Renuka cult with head-alone image go together, something substantiated
by the origin of Tantra practices of Devi attributed to Parashurama kalpa sutra. Either the escapees
or the devotees of Renuka cult had taken the ideas to Europe. If they were escapees, they could

have safeguarded themselves from any attack by Parashurama or his army of followers by showing
the face mask or gorgon as a proof of their allegiance to Renuka cult. In the case of devotees or
followers of Parashurama, the tantra practices learnt from Parashurama could have helped them in
vanquishing their opponents. The latter seems to have been infused into Greek myths as Gorgon
amulets and myths of Medusa and Perseus. The basic feature is a female face or Renuka with the

Thus it can be said with conviction that the head-alone cult has sprung up from Parashurama’s story.
It is also true that a head-less identity had sprung from his actions! A headless body is known as
“Mundam” in Tamil. Fearing for his axe, some people had fled while there were others who stood by
him in helping him to hunt down the kshatriyas. We will know about the latter category in the next
part before proceeding further into analysing who Mundas were.

{1} http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Crat%C3%A8re_de_Vix_0007.jpg )
{2} http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Gorgoneion_Cdm_Paris_320.jpg)
{3} http://ovidsmetamorphoses.blogspot.in/2011/09/medusa-siracusa-arethusa.html )
{4} Prasna Marga, Chapter 23, Verse 11.
{5} http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Urmia#cite_note-EI-early-3
{7} Mahabharata 7-68
{8} http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kirtimukha
{9} http://kirtimukha.com/devilsMask.htm

Nagas are there in many places - There are Nagas in Nazcal - Inca traditions. (Refer Mu concept of
James Churchward). Nagas are there in Nagaland - they were called as Kiratas. Shiva and Uma
appeared as Naga Kirata and gave Pasupatha astra to Arjuna. The Mayans also claim that they came
from the Nagas of India. There was a Naga cave near Nagappattinam where a Cholan king married
the Naga princess and begot a child who founded a dynasty in Kanchipuram. There were Naga
dwellings in West and North West India too from where Arjuna got his Naga wife. Like this the Naga-
identity list is a long one.


The basic idea behind who a Naga is, can be derived from the idea of a serpent. A serpent lives in
underground holes. A person who dwells in underground caves lives like a snake! Such a person is
Naga. In other words, an underground cave-dweller is a Naga. Such dwellings are there in India,
Africa, Europe, Andes and Polynesian islands. The names in these places sounding Naga prove that
the concept or idea of Naga came from Indian / Vedic society.

Reading this one may wonder why then Nagaland is called so, even though it is mostly mountainous.
Nagaland is situated on an extension of a mountain range called 90 degree East Ridge that is
submerged in the Bay of Bengal from south to north direction ramming into India near Bengal. It is
made up of hot mantle that has erupted from the ocean bed. Such formations would give rise to
underground passages and caves once the hot mantle ran away or cooled. At one time there were
visible peaks in this range, something made out from Valmiki Ramayana in the narration of Sugreeva
in detailing the land features in the south (VR – 4- 41- 24 onwards) . This range enters Indian
mainland and is seen in Nagaland. There are references to tunnels in this range through which
people moved and even lived. A dynasty of Thondaiman was established by a person born to a
woman (Naga woman) who lived in a tunnel in the mountain off the coast of Nagappattinam in the
South East India.
Nagas or Serpents are depicted as 2 main ideas in Hindu Thought. One is the sub-terrain mantle that
comes out of the vents during earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. They are known as Naga or
serpents. The underground tunnels and vents upon cooling became underground caves where the
snakes started to live. Those who made the caves their dwelling places were also known as snakes or
serpents or Nagas. Destruction by earthquakes or volcanoes is seen as dance of snakes.

The core of the earth is said to be the foremost snake, the Adhisesha. It is because of the core, the
earth remains intact. This is metaphorically said that Adhisesha is bearing the weight of the earth. An
adaptation of this is Atlas of Greek mythology. While Adhisesha bears the weight from within the
globe, Atlas bears it on his shoulders. The same idea in two cultures cannot have been conceived
independently of each other. Adhisesha concept is earliest and symbolic, whereas Greek Atlas is a
depiction of an impossible type. This is the result of loss of touch or continuity with the original

The snake is once again associated with the two main entities of Godhead in Hinduism. Shiva’s
‘twilight’ dance is indeed known as ‘playing with the serpent’ (BhujangastrAsa). That marks the
collapse of the worlds and breaking of the lands. The liquid magma shoots out on all directions. They
are called as snakes that once dwelled in underworlds, now coming out.

It is for this reason, Shiva or Naga prathishta is seen in underground holes in many places. Popular
examples are Kusheshwar, the original deity of Dwaraka before Krishna moved there. Balarama’s last
place of departure was in an underground hole in Mukti Dwaraka. The Shiva linga in Brahma's

temple at Pushkar is an underground cave. These are Naga dwellings. The people who lived in such
places (underground) were Nagas.

Another type of snake is the life form, our jiva or the soul – which is what we are in our inner self.
The soul or jiva gives life to the body and is of the size of our thumb according to Upanishads. It
resides as a coil of a snake in the tail of the spinal cord. The very purpose of meditation is to rouse
that jiva. It is characterised as a serpent lying dormant within us. Almost everyone would have had a
dream of snake some time in their life. It is due to the nature of this snake- like jiva. When aroused
through Yoga or meditation or breathing procedures, this snake- like jiva (called Kundalini) rises up.
It is because Sage Patanjali gave us the wisdom of Yoga and meditation and he himself has mastered
the rise of Kundalini, he has been depicted as snake bodied in iconography.

It is here another entity of Hindu Godhead is connected. After deluge – during cosmic devolution,
where would the snakes (jivas) go? They are infinite (ananta) and are held by Vishnu or Narayana in
sleeping posture (on the snake bed). When the physical worlds spring up again, these serpents (jivas)
enter them and start new life. By this logic every human entity can be called as a Naga! By the logic
of being a cave-dweller in early period of evolution, the identity of Naga has stuck with many people
around the world.

(End of Part 4)


PART – 5
Renuka cult and the importance of Navaratri puja for Renuka worshipers bring out the other side of
Parashurama’s fury, in that it shows who stood by him in his killing spree. One of the reasons for this
presumption is found in the traditional ideas connected with the much maligned Mang people of

Mang people.

The Mang people had originally lived in the Narmada regions. They had traditionally worked as
hangmen – a job that is something odd to do as a traditional occupation. They were treated as
‘criminal castes’ by the British. A note on them recorded in the 1881 census report gives an
interesting lead on their origins. It says: “At the Nauratra a Mang woman is still sometimes
worshipped, a custom, the origin of which dates, according to the legend, from the time of

Why should a woman of the detested Mang group known for killing people, of course by the order of
the government, without any remorse or hesitation, become the object of worship at the time of
Navaratri, right from the days of Parashurama? Probing this question, there is scope to believe that
the Mangs had taken the orders from Parashurama in his pledge to kill warriors and executed them.
Parashurama could not have killed the kshatriyas all by himself. He must have had people taking his
orders in his military expeditions. The Mangs fit with this category. Their legend as per the 1881
census record says that “the first Mang, Meghya, was created by Mahadeo to protect Brahmade
from the winged horse which troubled him in his work of creating the world”. The name may be
different but the job was to stop the enemy from attacking Brahmadev (here Parashurama).

The Renuka Cult which could have been originally propagated by Parashurama and formalised in
various forms during Navaratri could have included a worship of Mang woman as a tribute to Mang
tribes and also as a symbolism for Devi killing the wrong doers. This connection of Mangs with
Parashurama as his executioners of his enemies had continued for ages and had degenerated in
course of time into taking up killing as criminal activity.

Koli people.

Like Mangs, koli people seemed to be connected with Parashurama. Koli people are found in places
surrounding the Mundari speaking tribes – such as Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana,

Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. They are traditionally worshippers of Renuka Devi, mother of
Parashurama. Like Mangs they too have been regarded as criminal castes. But they have claimed
themselves as kshatriyas which no one is ready to accept. As followers of Renuka cult, they could not
have been varna kshatriyas but trained by Parashurama in attacking others and in warfare.


Yet another sect that reminds of Parashurama’s impact is the people who practice a martial art
called “Kalaripayattu” in Kerala. {1}

This form of martial warfare that involves less weaponry and hitting the vital organs of the opponent
is attributed to Parashurama as the founder of the art. The Cheru adivasis in Jharkhand following the
Sarna Dhram of Karam festival look like the people displaced from or driven out of Chera nadu by
the army of Parashurama trained by him in this martial art.

Cheru people.

The earliest reference to Chera kings comes at the time of Mahabharata in a Tamil Sangam text {2}.
This Cheran king supplied food to the army of both Pandavas and Kauravas engaged in the
Mahabharata war. Parashurama’s time coming before Mahabharata, there is no record on the kings
of Chera lands at that time. But Pandyans were present at the time of Ramayana, as we find a
reference to Pandyan Kingdom in the southern route described by Sugreeva to Hanuman in directing

him to search for Sita {3}. There is no mention of Chera kingdom. The Cheras were perhaps subdued
at that time. The Cheru tribes who claim themselves as warriors could perhaps be local chieftains of
the Chera clan who shifted to Jharkhand along with other tribes in Andhra and Odhisha (Savaras) to
escape from the fighting groups of Parashurama – who were trained by him in Kalaripayattu.

Apart from the phonetic similarity in the name Cheru, there are other words in their vocabulary
having phonetic similarities with Tamil and with the same meaning. The use of ‘palaki’ (in Tamil
‘pallakku’ meaning palanquin) in their marriage ceremonies show that they were not originally
ordinary people but were an elite class. They construct “marawa” where the groom and the bride
will stay at the time of marriage– marawa sounding like “maraivu” in Tamil which means hidden. It is
also the word in Tamil used to signify warriors. Cherus offer “vidai” when the marriage parties leave
which means ‘send-off’ in Tamil. Their marriage ceremony is similar to Tamil marriage described in
the Tamil Epic Silappadhikatam of the 1
century AD.

Kocch Mandai.

The Kocch Mandai people of Bangladesh and Bengal claimed themselves to be Kshatriyas who were
driven out by Parashurama. In the census record done in 1881 in the British India, the Suraj-bansi or
Surya-vansi tribes of East Bengal had identified themselves as Kocch Mandai people but took up an
identity as Surya vanshi – as Chattri (kshtraiyas) who threw away the sacred thread to “escape from
the death-dealing axe of parashurama”. The identity as Surya vanshi is important as that is how the
Savaras or Sauras were known as.


(Pic courtesy:-

In the census of 1901 also, the “Mongoloid Kocch of Northern Bengal” also identified themselves as
Raj vanshis and as Vratyas or Bhanga (Broken) kshatriyas who were made so in trying to escape the
wrath of Parashurama.


In the census of 1881:- “The Aroras claim to be of Khatri origin. The Khatris, however, reject the
claim. Sir Greorge Campbell is of opinion that the two belong to the same ethnic stock. They say that
they became outcasts from the Kshatriya stock during the persecution of that people by Paras Ram,
to avoid which they denied their caste, and described it as Aur or another, hence their name. Some of
them fled northwards and some southwards, and hence the names of the two great sections of the
caste, Uttaradhi and Dakhana.”

Vanjari people

In the same census record, the Wanjaris of Maratha origin claimed that they were the allies of
Parashurama in his war against Kshatriyas. “They assert that with other castes they were allies of
Parasurama when he ravaged the Haihayas and the Vindhya mountains, and that the task of
guarding the Vindhya passes was entrusted to them. From their prowess in keeping down the beasts
of prey which infested the ravines under their charge they became known as the Vanya-Shatru,
subsequently contracted with Wanjari. To confound them with the Banjara carriers castes, whose
name “Vanachari” means “forest wanderers,” is to give them great offence”

These references also speak about the way how varieties of ‘castes’ were developed over time. The
basis of the formation of these castes was not religion – i.e., Hinduism. The first fillip to forced
shedding of varna identity had happened in Parashurama’s times. That was followed by further
variations on the basis of familial, social, economic and political reasons for people to have lived in
groups as distinct from each other and had them perpetuated in due course.


There are references to people affected by Parashurama’s fury as having lived incognito only to
come back to their previous life style after the threat from Parashurama had subsided. They have
been listed in Mahabharata. There were others like the Mundari people who lost all touch with
outside world and failed to get back to original life. There is however one group – a very famous
group - which seems to have lived incognito in the forests but merged with the main stream in due

But not everyone of this group could get back to their previous life. A part of them had strayed here
and there and finally joined the Munda groups in Chota Nagpur. They are Kurukhs whom we
discussed in Part 1. They are also known as Oraons – a name that was perhaps a corrupted form of
“Vanaras”. They claim their lineage from Vanaras of Ramayana fame! As if this is not a myth, there
are proofs to substantiate that Vanaras were indeed human beings living in disguise to escape from
Parashurama. We will discuss it in the next part.

{1} http://www.kalaripayattu.org/
{2} Purananuru – verse 2.
{3} “कवाटम् पाण्यानाम् ” – Valmiki Ramayana, chapter 41 -19

(End of Part 5)


PART – 6

Oraons are an important Munda speaking tribes. They claim their descent from the Vanaras of
Ramayana. Perhaps the name Oraon was a corrupted form of Vanara. Yet another group of Munda
tribes, namely the Bhuiyas also claim themselves as coming in the race of Hanuman. {1} It is easy to
dismiss these claims as myths or figments of imagination. But “Vanaras” of Ramayana fame were
once in the line of attack of Parashurama!

There does exist an inscription saying that Vali and his clan were descendants of a race of Kshatriyas
who emerged in the aftermath of Parashurama’s hunt for kshatriyas. An inscription dated in “the
regnal year of King Vikramadhitya VI (i.e., in AD 1112) dealing with the origin of his feudatory of
his Dadiga, son of king Gunda, of the Bali race and of Bappura family, ruler over KisukAd, says the
following:- ‘When JAmadagnya came in the course of his wanderings in which he destroyed the
Ksatriya race, there were born from the caves of mount KiskindhA certain heroes from whom sprang
the members of Bali race, who were the ornaments of Bappuras” {2}

This is a crucial piece of evidence that stems out some of the mythical-parts of Ramayana. The Bali
race mentioned here refers to the race of Vaali, the valiant vanara king. This name should not be
confused with Bali (Mahabali), as Mahabali was a Daitya coming in the lineage of Prahlada and
Virochana and was vanquished by Vamana. This inscription talks about Parashurama who came later
to Vamana. So Bali mentioned here is not the Bali of Vamana avatara.

The inscription also says that the members of this Bali race sprang up at or after the time of
Parashurama - from the people who had hidden themselves. Kishkindha being the location where
they sprang up is an additional confirmation for this Bali as Vaali, the Vanara.

The members of Bali race are mentioned as Bappuras in the above inscription. In the 11- 12 century
AD inscriptions of Kalyani Chalukyas, two females of Bappura family have been mentioned. One was
Durlabhadevi, who married Pulikeshi –I and another one was Nagiyakka married to Naga-Perggede.
In the case of Durlabhadevi, the inscription gives a prefix as “Adi Maha Bappura Vamsha”, indicating
the antiquity of her lineage. Nagiyakka of Bappura vamsha is mentioned as being instrumental in
getting carved the icon of Tara-Bhagawati, a Buddhist deity. The foremost information we deduce
from this is that the Bappuras or the people of Vaali vamsha were not vanaras or monkeys! They
were human beings like any one of us.


The name Bappura came from Balipura (Vaali-pura), the place ruled by Vaali. Balipura is the Sanskrit
name for the place known as “Baligave” or “Balligave” – perhaps a modification from Vaali- Guhaa or
Vali-guhe or Bali-guhe – the cave of Vaali which is mentioned in the inscription. According to Valmiki
Ramayana Sugreeva was living in a cave when Rama went to meet him. It was perhaps the cave
where his ancestors lived in hiding when Parashurama was roaming in search of kshatriyas. The Vaali
guha could also refer to the cave where Vaali was trapped and sealed by Sugreeva while he was
fighting with Mayavi. The identity of this place was not forgotten down the ages as there are
inscriptions of the 11
and 12
century AD saying that Pandavas had consecrated five Shiva lingas in
this place. {3}. What was Balligave 1000 years ago is now known as Belagavi. It is in Shikaripur Taluk
of Shimoga district, Karnataka {4}

The following illustration shows the location of Balligave and other places related to Ramayana in
that region. Balligave was the Vaali guhe, or Vaali’s cave. Gokarna and Murudeshwara are linked to
events in Ravana’s life. Hanuman was born when his father Kesri was in Gokarna.

Dadiga mentioned in this inscription refers to King Didiga known as Konganivarma or Konkani varma
of the 5
century AD. This name sounds like Dadhimukha, the maternal uncle of Sugreeva and Vaali.
Both Dadhiga and Dadhi in Dadhimukha refer to dairy products. In Ramayana, Dadhimukha was the
keeper of Madhuvana, the sacred grove of Vaali and Sugreeva!

The sacred grove culture that is supposed to be uniquely found among Mundari speaking people is
also found in the culture of vanaras. The grove named Madhuvana is described in Valmiki Ramayana
{5 }. Any sacred grove is maintained for some purpose. The Madhuvana of Kishkindha was meant for
growing plants to extract honey. From one of Dadhimukha’s dialogues, we come to know that this
grove was maintained from the times of the grandfather of Vaali and Sugreeva. After him,

Riksharaja, the father of Vaali and Sugreeva maintained it. After him Vaali and then Sugreeva had
maintained it.

The name Riksharaja for the father of Sugreeva is intriguing. Riksha means bear. But this Vanara had
been named as Rikshraja – the king of bears. It would have been more appropriate to hear his name
as Kapiraja – the king of monkeys, but why Riskharaja? There is a popular riksha character in
Ramayana by name Jambavan. Jambavan and vanaras were friends. At several places in Ramayana,
Jambavan is mentioned as “Kapi-shreshta” – as the best among the monkeys. Why this inter-change
between bears and monkeys is seen?

Probing deeply, we find that there was a mountain by name Rikshavaan where the son of Viduratha
of Puru vamsha grew up under the protection of ‘bears’ (rikshas) in secrecy to escape from the fury
of Parashurama! {6}. Many kshatriyas were on the run and many had hidden themselves in forests to
escape from Parashurama. This king of Puru vamsha too had taken shelter in the Rikshavan
mountain which is situated at a place where river Narmada divides as a fork. He was given
protection by the bears of whom Jambavan was a descendant.

Jambavan had never been an ordinary bear but behaved like an intelligent human being. Jambavati,
who married Krishna came in the lineage of Jambavan. She could not have been a bear. But the

bears and monkeys (vanaras) had existed at Rikshavan and Kishkindha and had interchanged their
identities. This could be possible only if they were human beings in disguise as bears and monkeys to
escape the wrath of Parashurama. This means they were originally kshatriyas who went into hiding –
one group in Rikshavan in the northern part of Dandaka forests and another in Kishkindha caves,
south of Dandaka forests.

The first generation person to go into hiding seems to be the grandfather of Vaali as we find
Dadhimukha saying that Madhuvana was maintained by him (grandfather) {7}. He was a kshatriya
and had taken shelter in a cave in Kishkindha along with his clan when Parashurama was wandering
in that region. At the same time another group of this clan had taken shelter in mount Rikshavan and
camouflaged their appearance as bears. Initially all of them in Rikshavan and Kishkindha had
appeared as bears. That could be the reason why the father of Vaali came to be called as Riksharaja.
But the next generation descendants could have started moving out of the cave to test the outside
conditions. There comes Vaali, the valiant son of Riksharaja.

The best way to roam around the forests swiftly without being identified and harmed by forest
animals is to jump from tree to tree. Like the Tarzan of the apes, Vaali could have started moving
around by tying a tail-like rope made from forest products. The name “Vaali” sounds like a Tamil
word for tail called “Vaal”. Vaalin in Sanskrit means “haired or tailed”. This appearance could have
become a success and others of his clan too had started sporting it. That could be reason why
Jambavan is at times a bear and described at other times as a monkey. The advantages of this kind
of artificial tail were used in full by Hanuman. He was able to stretch it long or shrink short at his will.
He did not get hurt when his tail was set on fire.
This kind of changing the form done by vanaras is mentioned in Valmiki Ramayana. Kabhanda refers
to Sugreeva as one who can change his form at will {8}.This is not a special attribute of Sugreeva but
something which all the vanaras were capable of. While speaking to Sita, Hanuman describes the
vanaras as those who can change their forms at will {9}. Hanuman himself changed his form from a

vanara to an ascetic while going to meet Rama for the first time. He took up vanara form after
talking to Rama{10}.

That they were not monkeys is being made out from a verse in Ramayana. While talking to Sugreeva,
Hanuman ridiculed him “oh monkey, you made a monkey of yourself” when Sugreeva was found
confused {11} [अहो शाखा म

गतवम् ते वयकतम् एव पऱवं गम |
ऱघु चितततया आतमानम् न सथापयसि यो मतौ]
If Sugreeva is already a monkey, how can he be told that he made a monkey of himself?
Other clues come from expressions like Arya for the vanaras. Tara addressed Vaali as Arya. {12}
Vaali was praised by Sugreeva as having “arya-bhaava” {13}. Even Valmiki characterises Tara as
“Aryaa” the female of Arya. {14}. In Ramayana, the vanaras were not shown as just monkeys but as
elite human beings. Vaali exhibited the greatest power of a kshatriya as one who defeated Ravana!

Wife swiping done by both Vaali and Sugreeva might perhaps be to do with creating strong off-
springs. It was an accepted practice among kshatriyas and in times of distress when there was a
decline in number of valiant people. Sugreeva, the son of Riksharaja was the ‘aurasa putra’
(legitimate son) of Sun, according to Kabhanda {15}. Similarly Hanuman was an aurasa putra of Vayu
Deva and not Kesri. It was not looked down in those days and in those circumstances. Even Pandava
brothers were not aurasa putras of Pandu. Exigencies of the situation allowed them to seek other
ways to produce strong kshatriya men. This feature found among vanaras can be treated as a proof
of their kshatriya roots and the need to hold on to kshatriya-hood.

Even the vulture brothers, Jatayu and Sampati seemed to be kshatriyas in disguise. They along with
bears like Jambavan and vanaras were seen to meet often and in touch with each other in
Ramayana. Some kind of fraternity existed among them.

The vulture brothers stand a good chance to have become “Ganda-Berunda” in course of time in the
depictions of the kings of Karnataka and presently adopted as the state emblem of Karnataka. A
strong feature in support of this is that the earliest form of this mythical bird is found in Balligave –
the cave of Vaali.


Pic courtesy:- http://www.kamat.com/jyotsna/blog/blog.php?BlogID=1149

This name Ganda-Bherunda has a meaning in Tamil too. Ganda(n) means a valiant person. In
Kannada it means the same as “mighty”. The Chola warriors came with a title Kanda (there is no ka-
ga difference in Tamil). Bherunda sounds like “PeraNda(m)” which refers to huge world. By this, the
name Ganda-Bherunda in Tamil refers to the vulture brothers who were valiant and were capable of
going round the world. Of them sampati lost his wings and could not move around, but he kept
himself informed of all the happenings in the world. He was the one who told the vanaras the
location of Sita. The might of the other vulture namely Jatayu is well known to all as one fought with

These two brothers of the same stock of the vanaras and bears must have chosen to be disguised in
the form of vultures perhaps due to their swiftness, keen eye sight and short neck! Kantha (कणठ)
means neck. Kantha could have corrupted into Ganda. Greeva in Sugreeva also refers to neck.
Dadhimukha refers to Sugreeva as a thick necked one (vipula greevah) {16}. For one having a wide
and think neck, taking up the guise of a bird is not a good idea (Sugreeva). But a short and slender
necked one can take up that guise as he can stretch his head and watch the ground from a tree
branch (Jatayu- Sampati / Ganda Bherunda).

The underlying feature in all these is that these people had gone into hiding for fear of Parashurama.
The appearance as Vanara was a convenient form of disguise. Ramavatara overlaps with the time of
Parashurama. Therefore the vanaras and bears had not discarded their disguise at the time of Rama.

But after Ramavatara, there is no trace of vanaras. They had come back to normal life after the
coronation of Rama. The Bappura lineage of Dadiga having lived till 1000 years ago with the memory
of their beginnings is a proof of kshatriya roots of vanaras and the havoc caused in their life by

The strange but probable connection between these vanaras and Mundari speaking people can be
established in the following ways:

{1} The appearance of Oraons: From the records of the 19
century, Oraons were described as a
‘small race, averaging 4 feet and 5 inches”. They had “projecting jaws and teeth, thick lips, low
narrow foreheads and broad flat noses” {17}. In the absence of cross-breeding with others down the
ages, the ancestors at the time of Parashurama or Rama could have looked the same as described
above. With an artificially appended tail, they could have been accepted as vanaras.

{2} Migration of Oraons: The legends of Oraons indicate movement from South India to Chota
Nagpur. “The Oraons claim their descent from the Vanaras of the Ramayana period...The Oraon
legends suggest that the Oraons took part in the Ram-Ravan yuddha. Later the Oraons appear to
have proceeded upto Narbada till they reached the Sone valley.” {18}

{3} Oraons as Kurukhs: The Oraons are also called as Kurukhs. “Kurukku” is a Tamil word for ‘short’.
Perhaps they were called as Kurukh due to this reason. “Kurugu” is also a Tamil word that refers to
eagle or vulture. Eagle is the totem of the one of the septs of Oraons. The vulture brothers (Jatayu
and Sampati) being a part of the same vanara clan can be related here.

{4} Kabiraj, the medicine man: The physician in the Munda clan is called as “Kabiraj”. Kabiraj goes to
the forests and collects herbs and roots to prepare the medicine. “Kabi” resemble Kapi, the vanara.
As dwellers of forests and contemporaries of Hanuman who lifted the mountain to gather Sanjivani
herb, the vanaras could have possessed good knowledge of medicinal herbs. The continuing
knowledge among those vanaras or oraons could have given rise to a class of physicians who came
to be called as Kapi-raj which in course of time corrupted into Kabi-raj.

{5} Phonetic similarity between Kisku and KisukAd: A clan of Santals is called as “Kisku”. It sounds
similar to Kishku or Kishkindha. {The Santals have 12 gotras namely Kisku, Hambrom, Murmu, Tudu,
Baske, Sorain, Besra, Pauria, Chore, Hansda, Bedia and Marandi}. Were they from Kishkindha which
came to be called as KisukAd in later days?


There is yet another derivation of Oraon from “Uran” having a connection to Parashurama. We will
discuss it in the next part.

Related article:- Hanuman and Sita conversed in Madhura language (Spoken language of ancient
India –part 3)
{1} “The Tribes and Castes of the Central Provinces of India”, Vol 3 by R. V. Russell
{2} Epigraphia Indica, XV., p 106. Quoted from “Ancient Karnataka” Vol 1- ‘History of Tuluva’. P 17 &
{3} http://shimogainfo.net/index.php/shimoga-history/11-history.html
{4} http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balligavi.
{5} Valmiki Ramayana 4-62
{6} Mahabharata 12-51
{7} Valmiki Ramayana 5-62-33
{8} Valmiki Ramayana 3-72- 18&19
{9} Valmiki Ramayana 5-31-13
{10} Valmiki Ramayana 4-3
{11} Valmiki Ramayana 4-2-17
{12} Valmiki Ramayana 4-20-13.
{13} Valmiki Ramayana 4-24-12
{14} Valmiki Ramayana 4-24-29
{15} Valmiki Ramayana 3-72-21
{16} Valmiki Ramayana 5-62-31
{17} ‘The Tribes and Castes of the Central Provinces of India’ - Volume IV of IV, by R.V. Russell.
{18} “The tribal culture of India” by Lalita Prasad Vidyarthi and Binay Kumar Rai, p32
(End of Part 6)



According to anthologists the Konkan coast was the former home of the Oraon tribes of the Mundari
speaking groups. The Konkan coast is a raised or reclaimed region. Such region is known as Urvi or
Ur. The people of Ur are known as “Uran” or Uravan” in ancient Tamil. The name Oraon sounds like
these words which refer to the people living in “ur”.

Ur and Oraon

Researchers believe that Ur, a place in Mesopotamia was originally the first place of organised city-
dwelling. But a few leafs from Tamil Sangam texts and Mahabharata tell a different story. During the
Tamil Sangam age culture, the land forms were classified into five, of which one category is about
fertile regions irrigated by water, called as “Marutham”. The place of dwelling in Marutham was
known as Ur and there were many ‘Ur’s named after some special feature. The people of Ur are
known as Uran or Uravan or Ooravan or Ooran.

Coming to the Mahabharata source, the derivation of Ur is found in the episode of Parashurama. The
term Ur is derived from Uru, the Sanskrit word for ‘thigh’. Mahabharata says that when
Parashurama caused a massive devastation to the warrior class, there happened a sinking of the
earth. This is conveyed as though the earth has sunk due to the misdeeds of the people as there
were no kings to bring out orderliness. Seeing the Goddess Earth sinking, sage Kashyapa lifted her up
in his thigh, i.e., uru. It is because of this the Earth came to be known as ‘Urvi’. {1}

This shows that anywhere, if the earth is lifted up from sinking, it is a manifestation of Urvi and the
place comes to be called as Ur. It becomes fit for living, because in that episode Goddess Earth asks
Kashyapa to bring back the descendants of the kshatriyas who were living incognito for fear of
Parashurama. Therefore Ur is a place lifted from sinking and it becomes habitable thereafter. It must
be recalled here that Parashurama was linked with reclaiming or restoring the sunken or sinking
parts of the west coast on peninsular India. He did that after his war on kshatriyas. The episode of
Goddess Earth’s talk with sage Kashyapa conveys that the western coastal region was sinking soon
after the war on kshatriyas by Parashurama. However it was reclaimed by him later.

Even in the Tamil culture explained above, Ur is connected with some waterway nearby. In a
surprising connection, the people living in the artificially created floating islands of Lake Titicaca in
South America are known as Uru people! This name Uru with its relevance in a faraway place like

South America is an example of the prevalence of same ideas related to same words prevailing over
a vast part of the globe with its genesis in Vedic culture.

The period of this episode on Urvi, that is, the earth getting lifted up from sinking does match with
the reclamation of the western coastal lands by Parashurama. It is in those regions, fresh
settlements were made. Similar kind of lifting from water had happened in Ur of Mesopotamia (in
present-day Iraq). Ur was originally a coastal city on the mouth of Euphrates in the Persian Gulf but
due to shift in coastline it is inland today. The Persian Gulf was a high land before Holocene and it
started getting flooded in course of time. Any difference in the water level in Arabian Sea had an
effect on the level of Persian Gulf too. If during Parashurama’s times, west coast of India had risen
up (due to a fall in the Arabian Sea level), similar trends could have been experienced in the coasts of
Persian Gulf. Therefore the Ur had come up there.

In the following figure the white patches along the coast were above the sea level during Holocene.
The arrow mark shows the Persian Gulf which was dry and landed.


The following figure shows west coast of Indian and Persian Gulf. A rise in the water level of Arabian
Sea could inundate the west coast of India (in white patch) and push up the water level in Persian

Location of Ur near the mouth of Euphrates is shown below. Today it is inland, but the coast was
closer to it in the past when the water level was high. By its name, it is known that it was a raised
land from near water.


This place Ur of Iraq was spelled as ‘Urim’ in Sumerian language that resembles Urvi, the name that
Earth came to get for being lifted on the Uru of Kashyapa. (symbolism for earth- rising). In the
Sumerian legend, Goddess Nanna is said to be the Goddess of Ur. In a surprising similarity, the raised
(or extended) west coast of India was ruled by king Nannan and his descendants (before the
Kadamaba dynasty), according to Tamil Sangam texts. Sumerian Nanna has no etymological
explanation. Tamil Nannan means “good person”.

Similarly only in the context of Lake Urmia, the name Parasuwash is menioned. Lake Urmia is in the
border between Iran and Turkey. The 9
century BCE Assyrian records mention about “Parasuwash”
in the context of Lake Urmia. Does it show that Parashurama’s followers went on to occupy the
raised regions of Lake Urmia? In a surprising similarity, Urmia in Syriac language means “City of
water”! This is further proof of connection between Ur and water which is explained only in Indian
texts (Mahabharata).

The following figure shows Lake Urmia and Ur in red circles.


In Tamil Sangam parlance the Ur is situated where good irrigation facilities exist. The Ur will be criss-
crossed with rivers or dotted with ponds and lakes. The dweller of Ur is Uran or Uravan. The Oraon
tribes, who claim themselves as the descendants of Vanaras of Ramayana period, could have
occupied the lifted-up regions of the west coast. Their name Oraon could have been the corrupted
forms of Uravan or Uran, the dweller of Ur.

It must be noted here that the word “Munda” refers to a raised platform in the coastal areas of Tulu
speaking regions of the west coast of peninsular India that was supposed to have been reclaimed by
Parashurama. This “Munda” was used by fisher folks to spread their catch. Even the mangoes grown
in this coastal area are called as “Mundappa”. This raises a question whether Munda is the local
term for Ur which is derived from Sanskrit Uru. Like Ur, Munda is a raised area, safe from inundation
and therefore fit for living.

After all the killing expeditions, Parashurama settled down in a place in this region called
Shurparaka. The name Shurparaka is derived from the Sanskrit word “Shurpa” which means
winnowing basket. A winnowing basket is of the shape of a gently raised structure. Its function is to
remove the finer elements from coarser sediment. The hard- based coastal land that is left high after
the finer and loose particles were washed off by the sea waves perhaps left an appearance of a
winnowing basket. Parashurama settled in such a land in the west coast. Today this place is known
as Sopora situated in Maharashtra.

Names of places with Munda are very common in this coastal part of Karnataka. It is more surprising
that this name Munda appears in the names of villages throughout India. There are nearly 801
villages having “Munda” in their names according to 2011 Census. They are spread throughout India
including Jammu- Kashmir and Andaman & Nicobar. This sheds light on a different feature of what
actually a Munda is. An analysis of that is continued in the next part of this series.

Given below is the list of some names of villages with Munda prefix {2}

Andaman & Nicobar Islands: Munda Pahar

Andhra Pradesh: Mundrai, Mundladinna, Mundla Pahar, Mundala, Mundur, Mundlapadu,
Mundlamuru, Mundla palle, Mundlavaripalle, Mundlapudi, Munda basti,

Bihar: Mundamla, Mundiari, Mundipur, Mundaramchhapra, Mundwa, Mundichak, Mundisarae,

Chattisgarh: Mundadih,, Mundagaon, ,Mundadeori,,Mundadadar, MundaTola, Mundeli, Mundera,
Mundara, Mundapal, Mundagarh, Mundenar, Mundaplli, Munderm, Mundwal,

Gujarat: Mundha, Mundamer, Mundhvay, Mundra, Mundi,

Haryana: Mundheta, Mundarka, Munda Majra, Munda khera, Mundhri, Mundh, Mundi Garhi,
Mundlana, Mundhlian, Mundhal Kalan, MundhalKhurd, Mundakhera, Mundakera, Mundra, Mundia
khera, Mundain, Mundra, Mundawa, Mundi, Mundhalia, Mundiakhera,

Himachal Pradesh: Mundah, Mundla, Mundha, Mundhal, Mundwin, Mundkher Genda, Mundkher
Tulsi, Mund kher, Mundru, Mundi khurd, Mundi kalan, Mundar, Mundu, Mundli,

Jammu & Kashmir: Mundli Gaon, Mundak Pal, Mundah, Mund dhar, Mund,

Jharkhand: Mundatanr, Mundradih, Mundhari, Mundro, Munda, Mundli, Mundih, Mundomala,
Mundo, Mundudih, Mundar, Mundatoli, Mundari, Mundiedal, Mundul, Munduam, Mundadeo,
Mundatand, Mundakati,

Karnataka: Mundwad, Mundaganur, Mundargi, Mundki, Mundaganamane, Mundagesara,
Munduvalli, Mundkuru, Mundanahalli, Mundre, Mundagadore, Mundaghatta, Mundagodu,
Mundanahalli, Mundur, Mundaje, Munderga, Mundodi.

Kerala: Munderi, Mundur, Mundathikode, Mundakayam, Mundothuruth,

Madhya Pradesh: Mundla, Mundrawaja, Mundhari, Munda, Mundia,Mundli, Mundedi, Mundla
Parval, Mundiaram, Mundlakhurd, Mundlakalan, Mundri, Mundlasondhya, Mundlibhoj,
Mundlidotru, Mundlasuleman, Mundat, Mundpura, Mundla Maina, Mundladev, Mundlana,
Mundipur, Mundaheda, Mundana, Mundis Kalma, Mundla Husain, Mundlabag, Mundla Nayata,

Madhya Pradesh: Mundla Dordar, Mundal Jotkaran, Mundi, Mundia, Mundia Kheda, Mundiya,
Mundla lodha, Mundra, Mundari, Mundala, Mundrai, Munditola, Mundhol, Mundol, Mundwada,
Mundalwad, Mundalgaon.

Maharastra: Mundipar, Mund, Mundhari, Mundikota, Mundala, Mundhal, Mundra, Mundwadi,
Mundagaon, Mundwali, Mundhani, Mundewadi, Mundhe, Mundhar, Mundka, Mundhela, Mundkati,
Mundabele, Mundhwa (near Pune).

Orissa: Mundaghat, Munder, Mundagohira, Mundala, Mundajohire, Mundatopa, Mundasahi,
Mundali, Mundakati, Mundali, Mundalo, Mundida, Mundabeda, Mundakeri, Mundaguda, Mundikia,
Mundagan, Mundikia, Mundati, Mundabadi, Mundakuri, Mundadaka, Mundapada, Mundapadua,
Mundakani, Mundagaon, Mundar, Mundapadar, Mundagad, Mundaguda,

Punjab: Mundi Karal, Mundi, Mundkhera,

Rajastan: Mundital, Mundana, Mundpuri Kalan, Mundraheri, Mundiya, Mundota, Mundwara,
Mundoti, Mundeti, Mundata, Mundol, Mundele, Mundri, Mundli, Mundiya, Munderi, Mundawali,
Mundol, Mundwara, Mundle,

Tamilnadu: Mundiyur, Mundachedu, Mundamalai,

Uttar Pradesh: Mundikheri, Mundet, Mundhol, Mundi,Mundali, Mundre, Mundhera, Mundia,
Mundele, Munder, Mundera, Mund, Mundadeo, Mundala, Munder, Munderwa, Mundbara,

West Bengal: Mundira, Mundamari, Mundakti, Mundukhola.

{1} Mahabharata, Shanti parva – 49.
{2} http://tulu-research.blogspot.in/2014/02/331-munder-mundkur-munda-villages.html

(End of Part 7)


PART – 8

The word “Munda” is found in the names of many villages throughout India. It is generally believed
that ‘Munda’ is the name of the community. But the fact is that the so-called Munda people do not
call themselves as Mundas! They have a different name for themselves. “Munda” is the name by
which they call the chief or head of a village. Even the Oraon people call their chief as Munda. It is
from this title of the chief, the entire community was given the name ‘Munda’ – by others in the past
couple of centuries. The same word Munda is in use in Tulu speaking regions to mean a raised land.
The same word refers to any village and is present throughout India.

The same word means shaven head in Sanskrit. It is strange to find researchers connect this Sanskrit
meaning to the name Munda of this community which they consider as totally indigenous and pre-
dating ‘Aryanism’. Does it mean that these people were influenced by the ‘Aryan Brahmins’ in taking
up the word Munda to refer to their chief? If so, a question arises why this name Munda is not used
to designate the chiefs in “Aryan” or Sanskrit speaking / knowing regions and why it is used only by
these tribal people. Assuming that Munda is a Sanskrit word used by these people to refer to the
chief of the village, what word is “Manki” which they use to refer to the chief of group of villages?
For them, the head of a village is called “Munda”. The chief of Patti is “Manki”.

The next higher level of Village in the Munda groups is called “Patti”. A Patti comprises of many
villages and the head of the Patti is called as “Manki” by the Munda people. *In Tamil, Patti refers to
the place where cattle are housed or raised. Since cattle wealth gave rise to prosperity, Patti became
prosperous and needed to be regulated and governed. Thus from Patti, came terms such as Pat,
Patna, Patnam, Patta, Pattam, Patta-nayaka etc.]

Even this word “Manki” is present in ‘Aryan’ literature. There is a man called “Manki” whose story is
narrated by Bhishma to Yudhishtira in Mahabharata {1}. This story revolves around ‘Manki’s efforts
to multiply wealth by buying cattle for use in agricultural operations. Finally Manki renounced all
desires and attained Brahman-hood. Bhishma held him along with Bali, Prahaladha and Namuchi.
Interestingly like Munda, this name Manki is in existence in the coastal region of Uttara Kannada!

These two names of importance in Mundari culture – namely, ‘Munda’ and ‘Manki’ seeming to have
Sanskrit basis, have a presence in the coastal region of the Peninsular India that was cleared by
Parashurama to pave way for new settlers. These names seem to tell the story of Indian past which
was not necessarily pre-Aryan or non- Aryan, but a culture that was indigenously Aryan and had both
Sanskrit and local language as the two eyes.

The exact decipherment of the word “Munda” can perhaps be traced to Toda people of the Nilgiris!
The Toda people call their village as “Mund”. {2}. Interestingly the Toda people have a connection
with the west coast of Peninsular India.

Toda connection.

Today the Toda people live in isolation in the higher regions of the Nilgiri hills. However the genetic
studies show that they are closer to Brahmins of Kerala! {3}. Though there is no legend on their
origins, this information takes their previous habitat or origins to the West coastal regions. Edward
Eastwick in his “Handbook for India” Part 1, published in 1859 had made an observation that Todas
“regard the brahmans with contempt”. This is quite strange given that there is hardly any contact
with Brahmins and that Todas are supposed to be living in the higher ranges of the hills in isolation.
The hatred might be the result of a past enmity when they were living in the coastal regions that
resulted in displacement of these people to Nilgiris. Based on the genetic studies it can be surmised
that the Todas were once Brahmins living in the west coast but segregated from the main clan due
to some skirmishes. Adding strength to this conjecture is the name that the Todas have for
themselves. According to Eastwick, the Todas called themselves as “Toruvar” - a term that is
phonetically similar to Tuluva or Tuluvar! Infact Tulu Nadu was called as “Toualava Rajya” in olden

Yet another link comes from the buffaloes they keep. The genetic studies on the buffalo breeds of
South India had shown that Toda buffalos and South Kanarese buffalos are of the same origin. “Few
mutations in two of the haplotypes of South Kanara buffalo were found to have contributed to
ancestral haplotypes of Toda buffalo suggesting the possible migration of buffaloes from Kanarese
region towards Nilgiris along the Western Ghats. Considering the close social, economic and cultural
association of Todas with their buffaloes, the present study supports the theory of migration of Toda
tribe from Kanarese/Mysore region along with their buffaloes” {4} This affinity of the Todas with
Kanarese / west coast cannot be ignored in the study of “Munda”.

Mund, the village.

The Todas call their hamlets as “Mund” – a name that must have stuck with them from times of
yore. The village is called as “Munder” in Tulu language. In Kannada the village is called as

“Mundukur” or “Mundkur” It is reasonable to assume that from Mund, the village, the name of the
chief or headman of the village came to be called as “Munda”!

The Toda mund (village), from, Richard Barron, 1837,
"View in India, chiefly among the Nilgiri Hills'.
Oil on canvas.
Pic courtesy:- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Kandelmund_toda_1837.jpg

Even the name of the Toda habitat, Nilgiri (Neela giri) is found in the legend of Mundari speaking
Savaras. A Savara king was making secret visits to Neela giri for worship. Neela giri was the old name
for Puri! Are they mere coincidences or indicative of a common origin of these people who had split
and migrated to different places?

The etymology of the word “Munda” referring to village is not in Sanskrit, but in Tamil!

‘Mund’ that refers to land either as village or as a raised one has the basic component “MaN” (मण् )
meaning mud. MaN is the Tamil word for mud. It also refers to land or world. There are many words
in Tamil derived from MaN. The “Mandar” is the soldier. The “Mandala maakkaL” is the king of the
land. As a ruler of “MaN” – the land or the world, the king is called as “maNdaleekan” or

“maNdalakan”. While “maNdala maakkaL” refers to kings, a slight difference in the spelling as
“maNdila maakkaL” refers to the authorities who rule segments of the land or kingdom. The word
(for the ruler of a land or segment) seems to have changed as Mandila >Manda > Munda. It must be
remembered that Munda people call their chief of the village as “Munda”.


There are many Manki- Pattis in Mundari speaking regions. There is a place called Manki in Honnavar
Taluk in coastal Karnataka. Honnavar transliterates as Ponnavar in Tamil. Ponnavar means
‘cultivating gold’. The rich produce of a land made the land be called as Ponnavar or Honnavar. This
shows that ‘Manki’ stands for prosperity and growth. This very idea exists in the Mundari use of
Manki. The group of 17 villages comprising a Patti, administered by a Manki is treated as common
property shared by individuals whose main occupation is agriculture. An annual tax is collected by
Manki (Chief) to pay for security of the Patti. Such pattis are known as Manki-pattis by these people.

There is an interesting mutation in the use of Munda and Manki. Munda refers to a village in coastal
/ Tulu speaking regions. But the tribes of Chota Nagpur call the chief of the village as Munda!
Similarly Manki is the name of a place in coastal Karnataka, but these tribes call the chief of a group
of villages as Manki. The generic name of a place came to be used to denote the chief of that place
by the secluded Mundari people. This connection with coastal Karnataka may even mean that these
words have been carried by the Kurukhs or Oraons from their previous habitat to Mundari habitat in
Chota Nagpur.

The word “Manki” sounds like Tamil “mandhi” which means monkey! This region being close to
Vanara’s regions raises the possibility of this name being related to that. Infact the name Hanuman
could have come from “mandhi” as ‘anu-mandhi’ – the anu related to the episode of him getting his
cheeks squeezed like a monkey. The one, who already took up a name as mandhi (monkey), came to
look like a monkey when his cheeks were deformed and therefore he is Anumandhi and Anuman or
Hanuman. {The English words Mud and Monkey do not have proper etymology in English or any
other European language. It is plausible that they have their roots in Tamil}. (more*)

Another interpretation for Manki is that it closely resembles the Tamil word “Maggi” or “Maggu”
which refers to the top soil or humus of the soil. This top layer is formed by the decomposition of the
plant material. It makes the soil fertile and helps in water retention too. It is matter of interest to
know how the coastal regions of the Konkan and Malabar regions were reclaimed and retained. A
forest cover in this region in the past could help in forming humus cover which could have helped in
strengthening the soil and making it fertile also. The Tulu coastal regions are known to be under

cultivation. This is not possible if it is just a reclaimed land form sea. The previous forest covers had
enriched the soil by forming humus cover.

The currently available scientific tool to decipher the time period of the formation of the extension
in the west coast is taken from Graham Hancock’s maps based on sea-level changes computed by
Glen Milne. The current sea-level was obtained about 7000 years before present. That means the
present stretch of land on the west coast between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea did not
change in the last 7000 years. Any reclamation of land, that happened naturally or by Parashurama’s
efforts could have happened before 7000 years ago.

The maps of Graham Hancock show that the coast was broader than it is now about 12,000 years
ago. The West coast of India was an extended one having Gujarat fused with main land and not as a

This stretch received good rainfall and therefore was dotted with rain forests. Vegetation had
thrived in the coast at that time. This was about 10,000 years ago.


As sea level rose, most of this extended land, west of Western Ghats went under sea water. During
Parashurama’s times, the sea level had gone lower thereby exposing parts of the sunken coast. It is
on these regions that new settlements were made by Parashurama according to legend. The
reclaimed and regained lands must be having the earlier forest cover sunk in the ground as humus.
This is a probable explanation for why the Manki – meaning “maggu” or humus is present on the
coast. The sea level attained the current level by 7000 years BP. From this it is deduced that
Parashurama’s time was before this final level of sea surface.

Tulu from Tamil.


This region in the west coast houses Tulu Nadu and Kanara regions. These two words also have their
roots in Tamil. “Thulu” is the basal word for ThuLumbuthal (தளமபதல) in Tamil word which
means ‘rising up’ “hopping up” or “brimming” (mEl ezhumbuthal, thuLLUthal, thathumbuthal). This
word fits with a region that sprang up from the sea which is what Tulu and other regions of the west
coast are.

This part of the west coast is known as Kanara or Canara. Kanna or Kannam in the name Kanara is a
Tamil word that refers to an extension. The projections in the balcony of houses were called as
“Kanna saalai” based on the word Kanna to mean projection or extension. {5}. The reclaimed land or
the land that rose up due to sea-level change in the west coast were probably called as Kanna that
later changed into Kanara or Kannara or Kannada. The name Karunada (Karnata) was different from
Kannara as per Tamil text of Silappadhikaram. All these places are merged today.

Pur or Pura in Munda language.

The Manki heads ‘Pura’ or ‘pur’ – the name that is used to designate a city or a town. In the Mundari
culture, the variations of the word “pur” or “pura” is seen to signify the larger group of hamlets. The
area headed by “Manki” is called as “Paraha” by Mundas; “Pargana” by Santals; “pir” or “Pirhi” by
Ho people. The underlying word is ‘para’ – as a corruption of ‘pura’. This word is a Sanskrit word and
certainly no “Aryan” or any outsider had influenced them. The Mundas were part of the early culture
of Sanskrit based vedic tradition.

To substantiate this further let us see other proofs in the next part.


{1} Mahabharata 12-176
{2} http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toda_people
{3} http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/955642
{4} http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21749476
{5} Tamil lexicon edited by N.C. kanthaiya pillai, page 144


The Tamil word Mandila > Manda > Munda meaning 'world' is also found in Latin 'Mundus' with the
same meaning and forming the basis for many other words in European languages such as
'mundane' in English, 'Mundo' in Portuguese, 'Mundo' in Spanish, 'Monde' in French, 'Mund' in
Romansh and 'Monden' in Norwegian.

Some of the olden names of important places of pre-Christian Europe have Tamil names. For
instance, "Petra" - the place known for caravan trade in Jordan has the same word in Tamil to ,mean
'cattle'. The word 'wadi' in 'Wadi- Musa' (Valley of Moses) is a common word in Tamilnadu and
Karnataka to refer to cattle growing areas endowed with good water supply. There are many 'wadis'
even today in these states of Peninsular India. Its Sanskrit counterpart is 'Vapi'. My article on this can
be read here:- http://jayasreesaranathan.blogspot.in/2014/04/tamil-words-and-vedic-culture-in-

To quote another Tamil word in Europe, the Slavic God 'Perun' having semblance of Indra, the lord of
thunder, is a Tamil word to indicate the leading or foremost person in any given context. Indra as the
chief of devas, he is 'Perun-Deva' in Tamil. To cite an example of usage of this word in Tamil,
'PerunDevi' is the common term in Tamil to denote the chief queen among others in Tamil kingdom.
"Perun" always denotes something great or someone in the lead.

In a surprising connection with this series on Parashurama's impact, Slavic God Perun always carried
an 'axe' to kill evil people. His axe was of much popularity in ancient times, such that the 'axe of
Perun' was used as an amulet to ward off evil spirits. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Axe_of_Perun).
The axe-culture of Europe must be probed to ascertain its probable roots with Parashurama's

On a larger context, the presence of Tamil - Sanskrit words in European languages indicates the
possibility of Proto-Tamil- Sanskrit (PTS) instead of PIE. PTS coming from South Asia concurs with
genetic studies on human migration from South Asia to Europe.

(End of part 8)


PART – 9

Munda in Sanskrit:-
The Sanskrit meaning of Munda is ‘Shaven head’. But the Munda people are not seen with shaven
head. From the records of the British period, it is known that they used do grow pigtails and even tie
up the long hair into a knot {1} They however have a custom of hair removal ceremony for the new-
born baby. This is done on the 9
day of birth, called as Narota ceremony when the baby is named. A
barber is called in and the razor is blessed by the elders by touching it. The use of razor shows that it
was not just hair cutting ceremony but hair removal ceremony.

This is perhaps done as continuing tradition from the time of the first ancestors who lost their men
while fleeing from the enemy. The children who were born after the death of their fleeing fathers
could have been administered the death related ceremony of hair removal once the birth pollution
period was over. This practice – without remembrance of the cause for it– is continuing till today.
Other than this, shaven head is something that Mundas are not known for.

At Narota ceremony.


However there is an exception to this found in a particular clan or sept of Mundas called “Mudia” or
“Mudrundia”. They say that this name means “shaven head”! {2}. The surprising element in this
name is that “Mudi” in Mudia is the Tamil word for hair!
The only people of the Mundari speaking tribes having shaven head are the women of Bonda tribes.
They are also known as Remo!

Remo from Ramayana times
The Remo or Bonda women used to shave their heads regularly. The reason for this habit is
attributed to an incident that happened in Ramayana times! Some women of these tribes happened
to see Sita taking bath in a pond and were cursed by her for having seen her bathing. The curse was
that they must have their heads shaven and be naked. Later she rescinded the curse by allowing
them wear a waist cloth. It is easy to dismiss this as a cooked up story, but why should a people who
were supposed to have been living in seclusion in remote places for ages have their women tonsure
their heads regularly and attribute the reason for it to Ramayana times?

Remo woman


Hair-dressing is naturally an integral feature of womanhood in any community. There have been
instances of forced tonsuring as a method of punishment or purification. Voluntary tonsuring as a
method of propitiation or prayer to God continues among women in many communities in India
even today. But to condemn all the women-folks of a particular community for all ages, to not grow
hair on the head looks odd. If the Bonda women have had some episode in the past, they could have
retained the memory of it in some corrupted form. But to connect that episode with Sita of
Ramayana could be a real incident and not a product of an external influence from ‘Hindu
neighbours’. As Rama’s period overlapped with Parashurama’s period, the people who accidentally
got exposed to Sita or anyone from outside would have changed their looks to avoid detection. The
name as Remo for these tribes, resembling Rama adds substance to this story.

Munda in Tamil

Looking for other meanings for Munda, Munda could even be a corrupt form of the Tamil word
“mandai”. In Tamil “Mandai” means head. This word fits with their frightened beginnings of danger
to head, as beheading was common mode of killing in wars. Thurston’s recording of the castes of
South India contains a name “MandapOtho” who were found in Ganjam district and were roaming in
the streets of Puri – the place where a Savara king made secret visits!! (Puri is connected with
Dakshina Kali too). Thurston records that MandapOthO man used to bury his head in sand as a way
of attracting people to give him alms. Manda in MandapOtho means ‘head’ (Tamil word), Potho
means “bury”. The Manda or Munda referring to head seems to be the name associated with a
people of this region in Puri and Ganjam.

Munda also means “headless body” in Tamil. The MandapOtho people had exhibited headless body
by burying the head in sand. All this goes to show that people with a name connected to Manda
(head) or Munda (shaven or headless) were in existence in this part of the country.

Munda in Puranas.

The name Munda appears in Vishnu Purana in the list of kings who ruled Magadha. While giving the
names of kings and dynasties who ruled for 1390 years after Mauryas, there comes the mention of
thirteen Mundas and eleven Maunas as those among them. {3}. It is possible to assume these
Mundas to be different from the tribal Mundas as they were mentioned along with Maunas. The
names Munda and Mauna give an ascetic tinge to it. Mundaka Upanishad speaks of Shiro-Vratha in
which the ascetic carries the agni on his shaven head. This makes it plausible that ascetics were
known as Mundas. In the Buddhist lore too, a king by name Munda had existed.
But a similar list of kings found in Vayu Purana skips Mundas but retains Maunas. However
immediately afterwards, it mentions 13 Marundas as those who ruled Magadha. The number of

kings is same in both Vishnu Purana and Vayu purana, but the name Marunda appears in Vayu
Purana instead of Mundas. This makes it plausible that Marundas and Mundas refer to the same

The crucial name in the list of Vishnu Purana is “Brihadratha” and his dynasty as the early kings of
Magadha. Brihadratha finds mention in Rig Veda also. Jarasandha of Krishna’s times was a
descendant of Brihadratha. Mundas or Marundas came long after Mauryas in the list of kings. The
surprising connection with Brihadratha is that a king by name Brihadratha fled for fear of
Parashurama! This king Brihadratha, who was the son of Deviratha and grandson of Dadhivahana
went into hiding in Gridhrakuta. {4}. It is possible that he belonged to the Brihadratha dynasty or it
was from him the Brihadratha dynasty was started. Their area of control was Bihar where the
Munda tribes are living. Mahabharata lists out other kings too who had escaped from Parashurama
and were living in secrecy. At that time, they were engaged in tending the cattle or working as
artisans and goldsmiths or doing odd jobs. After the period of Parashurama, these people returned
to their original places and started new life, mostly as kshatriyas. They were

{1} Haihayas.
{2} Viduratha’s son of Puru’s race (protected by “bear” like people)
{3} Sarvakarman, son of Saudasa
{4} Gopathy, from Sibi’s dynasty
{5} Vatsa, son of Pratadana
{6} Brihadratha, son of Diviratha
{7} Maruttas.

The last name mentioned in the list was Maruttas, the descendants of a powerful king, Marutta.
They went to live in the sea shores to keep away from Parashurama. All of them returned to their
original regions after Parashurama’s times.

The Brihadrathas had obviously restored their sovereignty in Magadha. There is no news on
Maruttas after that but the name Marundas appearing in Vayu Purana in the place of Mundas in
Magadha raise a question whether they were descendants of Marutta. The cross reference for this
comes from Ptolemy’s reference to a tribe by name Moroundai in the western border of
‘Gangaridai’. This covers the region of Bihar. Further cross reference is taken from Pliny’s narration
on “Moredes” tribes along with Surari or Savaras. {5} But today there is no clan by this name or
resembling this name living along with Savaras in the tribal regions of Bihar or Jharkhand. The only
closest name is Mundas or Marundas (of Vayu purana)! The phonetic resemblance of Marundas with

Maruttas who were also at the receiving end of Parashurama’s fury makes Mundas the possible
descendants of Maruttas.

Marutta and Asurs
Even the mythical stories on Asur tribes of smelting iron have a parallel with King Marutta. Fire is
the main component needed for iron smelting. The invention of smelting iron must have been
considered as a break-through idea for it opened up the possibilities of making various weapons and
also agricultural implements. In the narrations about King Marutta, it is said that he discovered the
wealth found buried inside the earth. {6}. The wealth seems to be the extraction of iron from iron
ores buried under the earth.

Though it is not told openly in the story of Marutta, there are indications to this effect in the story.
{7} Desiring to get wealth, Marutta approached Brihaspati, the preceptor of Devas to do a sacrifice
to get wealth. Brihaspati refused to officiate the sacrifice citing the reason that he was the priest of
Indra of Devas. Therefore Marutta approached sage Samvarta, brother of Brihaspati and the son of
the sage Angiras. [Angiras was connected with Atharva Veda and also Agni]. Samvarta is known as
Brihat Jyothi and said to be wandering naked. This symbolises agni that can be ignited in Nature. The
name Samvarta also means some kind of destruction or a dense mass. He agreed to officiate the
sacrifice which was refused by Brihaspati. Being opposed to Brihaspati, their sacrifice seems to
indicate something not done by Devas. As if to indicate that this sacrifice had some fierce nature of
agni or fire that is not Daivik but asuric, the story goes on to narrate an interesting episode.

Upon knowing that the sacrifice by Marutta was going to be a grand one to bring out the wealth
buried under the earth, Brihaspati wished that he could have agreed to officiate. Indra decided to
fulfil this wish of Brihaspati and summoned Agni Deva to go and stop the sacrifice by Marutta done
under the supervision of Samvarta.

Agni went and blew up all along the way burning the forests and everything on the way. This shows
that some severe fire raged at that time. But Marutta planned to pacify Agni by offering a seat and
offerings. Agni wanted Samvarta to stop officiating the sacrifice and make Brihaspati to take his seat
instead. This infuriated Samvarta who said that he would burn Agni with his fierce evil eyes. Agni got
scared that he would be destroyed by the fire of Samvarta! This is a strange idea, but if we assume
that the sacrifice to get wealth buried under the earth was in fact cutting out iron ores and smelting
them in furnaces, this predicament of Agni would not sound strange. Agni as used in sacrifices is
Daivik as it does not hurt or scorch others.

But the heat of the furnaces does hurt others, besides scorching the surrounding area and this
makes it Asuric. That is how the basic difference exists in Agni as a Deva and Agni as an Asura. It is no
wonder that those who live by this agni (of Samvarta) as though they are doing it as a sacrifice came
to be called as Asur.

In this connection the narration in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad throwing light on what makes a Deva,
or a Manushya (human) or an Asura is worth relating. All the three (Deva, Manushya and Asura)
received an advice from Prajapati as ‘da’. The word “da” has several meanings, but each of them
understood the meaning of ‘da’ in a way that is applicable to their nature and attitude. Each one was
aware of their area of deficiency and as such understood the meaning of “da” as the thing needed by
them to overcome their respective deficiencies. In this way, Asura understood the meaning of “da”
as ‘being merciful’ because the innate tendency of Asura that makes him Asuric is the tendency to
harm others ruthlessly. {8} Applying this rationale in the above episode, the Asura-agni can harm
others indiscriminately while the Deva-agni does not; it only burns for the sake of carrying oblations
to respective destinations / Gods. (In the Rig Vedas, wherever a Deva entity is signified with an
Asuric connotation, it can be deduced that it refers to the furious or destructive side of the entity).

There exists a connection between Agni and Marutta too. Marut or Marutta means wind or gale.
When Maruts and Agni come together the fire is stoked well. There is a hymn in Rig Veda that calls
Agni to come with Maruts, the wind {9}. In the story of Marutta and Samvarta, Samvarta threatens
Agni that he would burn it! One of the meanings of Samvarta is destruction. Perhaps this warning by
Samvarta is allegorical to the destruction potential of the sacrifice of Marutta (wind) when Agni is
allowed to be present near the furnace.


In Marutta’s story, Agni got frightened by the prospect of getting burned by Samvarta and went back
to Indra. The infuriated Indra decided to stop Samvarta by bringing thunder bolts and rains to douse
the sacrificial fire of Samvarta. This is also allegorical to a situation where smelting furnaces had to
be closed due to rains. But then again Marutta decided to give a seat and honour Indra and other
Devas in the sacrifice. Once given a seat, Indra became calm and accepted the offerings. He was
joined by other Devas too. Two bulls, one of red colour for agni and another of blue colour for
Viswadevas were sacrificed and the yajna was successfully done. It resulted in Marutta getting huge
wealth that was buried under the earth. No one else could come to possess the kind of wealth that
Marutta possessed. {10}

The place of Marutta
There is a cross-reference to this episode from Uttara khanda of Ramayana. {11} While Ravana was
roaming in his Pushpaka vimana, he happened to come to a place called “Usheerabeeja”
(उशीरबीज)where he found Marutta doing a sacrifice with Samvarta as the priest. Ravana called
Marutta for a fight but Samvarta stopped Marutta from taking up arms for the reason that he must
not deviate from the sacrifice that he had started doing. Samvarta said that if Marutta left the
sacrifice midway, Maheswara would burn up his dynasty. This is also allusive of giving up kshatriya-
hood which the Maruttas did when they fled for life from Parashurama’s fury. Perhaps they didn’t
become warriors after the self exile but diverted their attention to producing iron.

Ravana’s period comes closely after Parashurama’ period and Maruttas are mentioned in
Mahabharata as people who had fled from the fury of Parashurama. This Marutta doing the sacrifice
with Samvarta must have the one who started new life after Parashurama's time. The meeting with
Ravana justifies this time period after Parashurama.

The amazing clue found in this narration is the meaning of the place “Usheera Beeja”. Usheera is the
fragrant root of the plant Vettiver (Andropogon muricatus ) that grows in river banks and marshy
soil. Bihar or the Mundari tribal regions are not known for growing this plant. But a place bearing
another name of the same plant was there in the west coast of India. It was known as
“Sindhukalaka”. In the map of the world called Kurma (tortoise) Chakra, Varahamihira gives the
names of places that were located in South West part of India which is actually the region of west
coast of India starting from the estuary of Indus river to peninsular west coast.

Kurma chakra division of India.
The region in rectangle is South west.
The line passing from Lanka to North is the axis that passes through Ujjain and Kurukshetra.
(Not accurate, only for illustrative purpose)

South West part of Kurma Chakra showing the probable location of Sindhukalaka on the estuary of
River Indus.


He lists out Hemagiri, Sindhukalaka, Raivataka, Surashtra, Baadara, Dravida and Maharnva in this
stretch {12} Of these Sindhukalaka coming before Raivataka and Surashtra places it at the estuary of
Sindhu where the Kalaka plants (vettiver / Usheera) grow well. Both Kalaka and Usheera refer to the
same plant that grows well in marshy coasts and estuaries.

The Maruttas lived incognito near the seashore to escape from Parashurama {13) Therefore Usheera
in UsheeraBija could refer to the coastal region in west. Once having come back to his previous
place, Marutta had retained Usheera as Usheera Bijas. It must be searched whether any place
resembling Usheerabija exists in Bihar – Jharkhand region.

Marutta in Assyria:-
It is also probable that a section of Maruttas went from Sindhukalaka to Mesopotamia and Central
Asia where they founded Assyria.

(Sindhukalaka was the place of hiding for Maruttas to escape from Parashurama.
Once the threat was gone, they split with one group
going back to Bihar – Jharkhand and another to Assyria)

Some of the names of Old Assyrian kings make a striking resemblance with the characters in Marutta
story and in Tamil. Among the early list of Assyrian kings “who lived in tents”, the name of the first
king was "Tudiya" . Tudiya is a Tamil word that refers to a clan that was one of the 4 olden clans as
per a verse in a Tamil Sangam text. Tudiya was a drummer by profession. Kadamaba is another one
of this group of four. Kadamba was a dancer who was seen wearing Kadamba flowers. {14} The 5

king after Tudiya in the list of Assyrian kings was “Mandaru” – Mandura is the Sanskrit name for rust
of iron!

Another king in the link was "Ushpia" who founded the temple of Ashur. Is ushpia related to Usheera
or Sindhukalaka, in the West coast of India?

Another name is Nazi Marutta of Babylon. The Kudurru stones of Nazi Maruttash depict the image of
Scorpio that is referred to as Bica in Assamese to mean Iron-stone ore. {15}

Maruttas’ movement through Mesopotamia reaching Assyria must be probed. Persia as Parsuwash
(in old Persian language) lends further support to the theory of Vedic kings having moved to these
parts of Middle east in the wake of threat from Parashurama.

Asur and Munda.
Research has shown that iron technology has been indigenous to India and iron was an important
source of income in Mauryan times. {16} Asurs must have been the unrecognised and invisible
contributors for the growth of this industry in ancient India. The Asur practices at the start of lighting
the furnace bear some resemblances to Marutta’s story. They perform SANSIKUTASI worship which
is in the nature of some magic (as though how Samvarta managed to stop Agni and Indra from
obstructing the sacrifice).Two fowls of red colour (for agni) are sacrificed (In the sacrifice by
Samvarta, 2 bulls were sacrificed of which one was red, meant for Agni).


There is dance and merry making on this occasion. A peculiar feature is that musical instruments
which are very much essential for dance or any festive occasion is not played only during this
furnace-lighting ceremony of these tribes {17} . No one can give a proper reason for this. But if we
relate this to Marutta’s sacrifice, the danger or obstruction to that sacrifice came from Indra, the
wielder of the thunder bolt. The sound of thunder means the arrival of rains that could douse the
fire of the furnace. Perhaps in memory of this, a practice came to stay not to beat any drums that
could mimic thunderbolt or arrival of rains.

Iron smelting by Asurs or the descendants or subjects of Marutta must have continued from
Marutta’s times. The Agaria community of Asurs derive their name from agni. The name Maruttas
must have changed into Marundas in course of time. The Maruttas being warriors, a section of them
could have worked for regaining rulership which is indicated by Vishnu and Vayu Purana. There had
been others cut off from the mainstream. There is scope to believe that Marundas were originally
engaged in iron smelting. One of the words in Sanskrit to denote iron is “Munda” (मु णड). The Munda
people say that the word “Munda” has its origins in the word “Murha” which they say means “root
of the tree”. But “Muru” (मु र ) is the name of a variety of iron! The rust of iron is known as
“Mandura” (मणडूर ) in Sanskrit. These words of Sanskrit sounding like Munda and related to iron
cannot be dismissed lightly.

In course of time Marundas had moved away from iron smelting. Those who were doing it came to
be called as Asurs – perhaps due to the connection with Asura Agni. An Asur story of the Munda
version says how those Asurs greedy of making gold (alchemy?) suffered destruction. That story also
narrates how the land was scorched by the furnaces accompanied with rain of fire. Perhaps seeing
the environmental hazards of iron smelting, the Marundas aka Mundas started turning their
attention to agriculture, but Asurs continued with iron smelting. The concept of sacred groves must
have come up after experiencing the side effects of iron smelting on the environment and the loss of
forests that were cut to supply fire-wood for the furnace.

An Asur tribe preparing the furnace.

The hazards of fire as expressed in Munda’s myths perhaps made them shun fire in any form. They
even shunned the sacrificial fire in their marriage ceremonies. In Vedic marriages, the couple go
round the fire to take marriage oath. But in the marriage custom of Mundas, the bride goes round
the bride groom for seven times with a pot of water. Water being given an important place in all the
ceremonies and customs of Mundas seem to indicate a conscious decision to move away from fire
related works and adopt water related customs, obviously with an intention to preserve water and
have a cool environment in the neighbourhood of iron smelting Asurs.

Axe as an indicator of Iron age in Parashurama’s times.
Parashurama was known by that name for wielding an axe. The Savara tribes of the Mundari
speaking group are known for always carrying an axe – the weapon cum implement of Parashurama.
Savaras were contemporaries of Parashurama and they took shelter in the mountains and forests of
Bihar to escape from him. {18} The main purpose of the axe was to cut trees of the forests
apparently for the purpose of clearing the land.{19} A Savara myth says that Mahadeva gave them
the axe to clear the forests and the plough to cultivate the land. In the times of Parashurama, axe
was in wider use for they needed to clear forests to build settlements. The story of Jamadagni itself
is replete with references to how he shifted his residence to new places by clearing forest lands. Axe
being the commonly available implement, had also come in handy in beheading Renuka and killing

Axe or Parashu has a presence in the tribal names too. One group of Agarias of Asur clan are known
as “Parsa” and they are engaged in producing high grade iron even today. There are caste names in
Chhattisgarh as “Parsoli” – from Parsa meaning axe. It is derived from the Sanskrit word Parashu, the
axe. Among the Oriya (Uriya) tribes too, there is a section by name “Pharsi” with the meaning axe.
{20} Without a fused presence of Sanskrit in the country or community and without the iron
technology being present for thousands of years in the past, these tribal names or use of axe as an
integral identity of people ( as in the case of Savaras) could not have come to stay.

{1} “The Tribes and Castes of the Central of India” - Volume IV of IV, by R.V. Russell
{2} “The Tribes and Castes of the Central of India” - Volume III of IV, by R.V. Russell
{3}Vishnu Purana 4-24
{4} Mahabharata 12-49
{5}“Tribes in ancient India” by Bimala Churn Law.

{6} Mahabharata 14-63
{7} Mahabharata 14-Chapters 6 to 10
{8} Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 5-2- 1 to 3
{9} Rig Veda 1-19
{10}Mahabharata 14-89
{11} Ramayana 7-18
{12} Brihad Samhita 14-19
{13} Mahabharata 12-49
{14} Pura nanuru - verse 335. There were 4 clans in existence from olden days in the Tamil society.
They were PaaNan / PANa / BANa (bard), Parayan (who plays the drum called Parai), Tudiyan (who
plays the drum called Tudi) and Kadamban (a dancer who wears Kadamba flowers)
{15} http://bharatkalyan97.blogspot.in/2013/11/assur-asur-and-their-meluhha-speech-in.html
{16} http://bharatkalyan97.blogspot.in/2013/06/asur-metallurgists.html
{18} Mahabharata 14-29
{19} Rig Veda 9-96-6
{20} “The Tribes and Castes of the Central Provinces of India” --Volume I (of IV), by R.V. Russell

(End of Part 9)


PART – 10

One of the common views held by many scholars is that ‘Aryans’ or Hindus influenced the Mundari
people such that these people had started worshiping “Aryan” Gods. The same explanation is given
to justify the presence of Sanskrit words in their language. However a closer examination of their
festivals and practices give rise to a view that such ‘Aryan’ practices are running basically in their
culture. Another important observation is that they all have had some connection with peninsular
India and ancient Tamil or proto-Tamil.

The basic problem is in thinking that Mundas are different from Hindus. All the features and ideas of
their culture are seen in rural India even today. They are found in Tamil Sangam texts too that
describe the culture that existed 2000 years ago. Texts like “Malai padu kadaam” and “Maduraik
kaanchi” describe the life style of different types people living in forests and hills and we do find
them similar to the life style and beliefs of Mundas. The Mundari speaking people show a close
semblance to the life style in Peninsular India. We will discuss them in this article.

The Vedic or “Aryan” festivals of Mundas.

The Mundas celebrate Bissho karma puja which is the same as Vishwa Karma Puja – Vishwa Karma
being the Creator-architect. It is easy to attribute this to some influence from ‘Hindus’. But their
celebration of “Asharhe Puja” in Ashada month is something that Vedic society was celebrating but
had given up long ago. This is similar to “Ashada Puja” in the Vedic society in which Goddess
Saraswati was invoked as Vaak Devi to help in determining the level of prosperity of the upcoming
rainy season. The available record of this Puja is found only in Brihad samhita authored by
Varahamihira. {1) This puja was in vogue before the times of Varahamihira. No wonder Mundas
worship Goddess Saraswati too which people think is an influence from Hinduism.

Monsa Puja
Another festival is the Monsa Puja which they celebrate in Shravan month. For Mundas, Monsa
signifies serpents. Their belief in Monsa as a serpent God is so indigenous and so deep rooted that
whenever they see a snake in the dream, they connect it to Monsa Devi. In Vedic culture there is
Goddess Manasa Devi with a hood of a snake upon her head. Manasa Devi appears with a child in
her hand.


Pic courtesy:-

There is a story behind this appearance of Manasa Devi, narrated in Mahabharata. This story
recognises the child in Manasa’s hand as Astika who was born to release the ancestors. Hindus
believe that the snake signifies an impediment to getting progeny and worship of snake removes this
impediment. The iconography of Manasa Devi seems to be the precursor to this belief. By
worshiping Manasa Devi who is a personification of snake, one is blessed with a child. The child is
desired primarily to pay off ancestral debts through ancestral worship. This concept is very much
original and oldest concept of the Vedic society. The accessory elements may be missing in Mundari
Monsa Devi. But the snake identity is retained by them. Monsa Devi could not have been an adopted
concept as they have dream interpretations for Monsa. It must have been a former concept that was
retained by them even after they had gone into isolation.

The same idea of Manasa Devi with a child is there in Tamil nadu by the name Isakki amman.


This Goddess is found in many regions of Tamilnadu where some valorous women in the deed of
protecting a child had been deified as Isakki. There is mention of Isakki as Iyakki in the 1
century AD
text of Silappadhikaram, thereby establishing this deity as an olden concept. By the name Iyakki, it
means that she is one who ‘drives’ the world / souls. She is Iccha shakthi of Creator God. That is
identified as Manasa Devi. Thus a similar meaning with a similar iconography had existed throughout
India. The original idea must have been Monsa Devi worshiped by Mundas. The idea of Monsa with
serpent related to progeny could have been converted into forms of Manasa and Isakki, perhaps
after Parashurama ushered in Devi worship through his Kalpasutra.

Plough – festival, Akshay Tritiya and Rohini

The paddy sowing festival of Santals is called “Ero”. It is done on Akshaya Tritiya in the month of
Chithrai– on the day when Sun and Moon exalts simultaneously. Even Toda people have a
celebration on Akshaya Triteeya! This day is an important day in Vedic society. How did the Mundari
people come to possess the knowledge to compute the date of Akshaya Triteeya if they had not had
that knowledge by themselves – from the time of their previous habitat?

A surprising connection to this day is that it is the day of Parashurama’s birthday! This day must have
been an important day in the coastal region of Konkan and Malabar. Toda people hailing from there
can be expected to have remembered this day but lost out the significance in course of time. The
Santali tradition of remembering this day for ploughing might have come from an early Tamil
practice. The Tamils had a tradition of starting the first ploughing called “ponnEru” (golden plough)
in the month of Chithrai. It continues even today. The plough is called “Er” or “Eru” in Tamil. The
festival Ero sounds like Tamil “Eru” (yEru) which means plough.

On the day of Akshaya Tritiya, Moon will be in the asterism of Rohini (Aldebaran). On this day the
agricultural tribes of Jharkhand including the Mundari people start sowing the seeds. The star Rohini
is identified with Creator God Brahma. Anything to do with growth and development is done on this
day. This is a concept of Vedic society. The Mundas and other tribes of Jharkhand sow the seeds on
this day, but without any pomp and festivities. This is something unusual for a society that is known
for songs and dances for every activity. Perhaps this day coinciding with Parashurama Jayanathi
could have nipped out the festivities! However the day was not discarded due to its significance for
growth related activity. The absence of festivity does indicate a conscious decision to do away with it
due to Parashurama’s connection to this date. But this reason could have been forgotten over time.

Today this date had been commercially exploited by gold merchants calling people to buy gold.
Originally this date was used as an ideal time for starting the agricultural practices to get a ‘golden’

From axe-culture to Plough culture.

In this context it is apt to make a comparison between ‘axe’ culture and ‘plough’ culture. Axe culture
is identified with Parashurama and Plough culture is identified with Balarama, another avatar of
Vishnu. In Parashurama’s times, new settlements were made by clearing the forests. Axe was the
main implement to cut the trees. The Bhargava people of Parashurama’s clan fell out with Haihaya
rulers and were forced to move out of Vindhya ranges. They were said to have made new
settlements by clearing the forests.

In his times Parashurama was known to be carrying the axe always. Even the Mundari speaking
people carry the axe all the time. Particularly the Savaras are known to be carrying it always. There
was even an attempt to decipher the name Savara from the Scythian word Sagaris having the
meaning axe. In the words of Cunningham, “It seems therefore not unreasonable to infer that the
tribe who were so called took their name from their habit of carrying axes. Now it is one of the
striking peculiarities of the Savars that they are rarely seen without an axe in their hands. The
peculiarity has been frequently noticed by all who have seen them.” {2}

The Asur- Marundas also must have carried the axe to procure wood for furnaces. The Sanskrit name
of axe as Parashu exists in Asur clan names as Parsa. However the common word for axe in Mundari
language sounds closer to its Tamil equivalent. In Tamil the axe is called as “Kodari”. In Mundari
language a small axe is called as “Konde”. Likewise the plough is called as “Hada” in Mundari –
similar to its Sanskrit equivalent ‘Hala’. But the first ploughing is called as “Ero” – similar to the Tamil
word “Er” for plough.

Makar festival.

The Makar parba or Makar parva is celebrated by Santals of the Mundari speaking people. The
words Makar and Parva are Sanskrit but the festival is similar to Tamil festival of Pongal celebrated
on Makar Sankaranthi. It is a three day celebration in Santali as well as Tamil tradition. On the first
day that comes before Makar sankaranthi, Santali children and youth burn logs of wood in the
morning in a celebration called “Kumbha”. On the same day Tamils burn discarded things in the
morning in a celebration called “Bhogi”.

Maghe festival.

The Maghe festival coming on Full Moon of Margashira is related to Dattatreya Jayanthi. However
this was also the day when “Paavai nonbu” was started in Tamil lands. But the features of Tamil
Paavai festival is not found in Maghe Parba. Maghe parba resembles only Dattatreya Jayanthi that
was discussed in Part 2. This festival bears the imprints of an earlier memory of the Vedic society.

Phagu festival.

Phagu festival is related to Holi festival. It is celebrated on the full moon of the Phalguni month. The
name Phagu is corrupted from Phalguni. It was a very old festival in the Vedic society as it is about
Holika, the aunt of Prahalad. This has reference to the Narasimha Avatar,that preceded
Parashurama’s times.

Tamil culture in Mundas.

The flower festival of Sarhul celebrated by the Munda people resembles such festivals noted in
ancient Tamil lands. Sarhul sounds like “Sarakonnai” flower of Tamil lands


Sarakonnai flower

The first flower in spring and first rains in summer were celebrated in Tamil culture. Even today
“raining the flower” festival (Poo-chorithal) is celebrated in almost all the Amman temples in Tamil
lands in the month of Chithrai. Sarhul of Mundas seems to resemble that.

The Karam festival is related to Kadamba festival of the Konkan region which was discussed in Part 1.

Remnants of Skanda culture in Savaras.

One example of a very olden connect with Peninsular India is seen in the traditional names that
Savaras have for their religious functionaries. They have a village priest, a Shaman, a helper to the
Shaman and one who does funeral rites. Shamanism in India can be traced back to Skanda cult. Even
today one can witness Shaman practices among Skanda devotees on popular festival days for
Skanda. In the Tamil Sangam age it was too widespread and there were people called “Velan” who
used to do fierce dances to the accompaniment of drum-beats to drive out the evil spirits or to spell
oracles. This tradition is said to come in Kura-magal community of Valli, the local tribal girl whom
Skanda married. Kura- magal means the girl from Kurava community. (There is a Korwa clan among
Mundari speakers!).

The Shaman priest of Savaras bears a similar name – “Kuranmavan”. {3} This is a Tamil word
meaning “the guy of the Kurava clan”. Kura-magal is a female and Kura-mavan is a male.

The helper to this Shaman priest is “Idaimayan”. This also sounds like a Tamil word “Idai-magan” the
one who comes in between or in the middle – meaning one whose services are taken in between, or
one who comes in the middle in the hierarchy.

The one who does funeral rites is known as “Siggamavan”. ‘Mavan’ in this word is a Tamil word used
in colloquial form for ‘magan’ – meaning person. Sigga perhaps comes from “Sigi” in Tamil which
means fire! As one engaged in keeping up the funeral fire, it is perfectly logical that he was called as
“Sigi-mavan” that corrupted as “Sigga mavan” meaning “the guy working on fire”

Pic courtesy:-
Project Gutenberg's Castes and Tribes of Southern India, by Edgar Thurston

The Santals call the head of the village as “Manjhi”.”Manjan” is the Tamil word that refers to a man.
Similarly the word “Pergana” is common among Santals and widely prevalent in North east India. It
refers to some groups or septs among them. This context of the word “Pergana” seems to convey
that it is “Perum-gana” in Tamil meaning “the big group”.

Munda’s original name is a Tamil word.

The Mundas call themselves as “Horoko” in which ‘horo’ refers to man, according to them. In their
speech the letters ‘h’ and ‘r’ are interchangeable with ‘k’ and ‘l’ respectively. As such ‘horo’ is also
mentioned as “kolo” or “kol”. Mundas say that ‘hor’ or ‘kol’ means ‘man. This can be seen in the way
they refer to people as “Santali Hor”, “Mundari hor” or “Mundari kol” etc.

But there exists a word “Kolam” in Tamil that refers to ‘appearance’ or ‘form’. In Tamil it is common
to use the word ‘Kolam’ along with a name to refer to someone ‘in the form of so and so’. For
example ‘Andi-k-kolam’ means ‘in the form of an ascetic’. This can be understood as ‘ascetic man’ in
which kolam comes to refer to man. But that is not the actual meaning of kolam. The word ‘kolam’
here only means ‘in the form of’. Lord Skanda is famously referred to by the term “Andi-k-kolam –
meaning “Skanda in the form of ascetic”.

The same idea seems to exist in the word ‘kol’ of Mundas. They refer to a Santali as ‘Santali hor(kol)’.
By the logic of the usage in Tamil, Santali Hor means ‘one in the form of Santal’. They say “Larka
kol” to mean “one in the form of war-like person”. The say “sAdAn Horo” to refer to a non-Munda or
a foreigner. The word “sAdAn” is a corrupt form of ‘sAdArana” in Tamil and SAdharan in Sanskrit -
which means ‘ordinary’. If we substitute ‘form or appearance’ for horo or kol, the word sAdAn Horo
refers to “ordinary man and not a Munda!” The subtlety in the use of ‘hor’ or ‘kol’ is understood
from this word.

The word “Kolam” is used in Tamil when a person is in disguise in that form. The Mundari speaking
people were actually living incognito and hiding their true identity. In such a context it makes perfect
sense to refer to a person to be ‘in the form of a Santal” or in the form of a Kurukh or Korwa and so
on by the use of the word “kol”. So when the Munda identifies himself as “Hork-ko” (ko in the word
makes it plural. Similar use of ‘ka’ or “ga” for plural is there in corrupt form of Tamil. Eg – avan’ga’ to
refer to they or these people), he is making a reference to his disguised form as so and so. A society
that is living by hiding its identity can be expected to use such terms.

Tamil and Sanskrit in Munda septs and totems

The presence of Tamil is seen in the word they use to refer to the septs. Mundas are divided into
septs called “Killi”. ‘Killi’ is a Tamil word. There were Chola kings by names “Killi Valavan”, Nalam
“killi”, Pernar killi” etc. “Killi” in their name exists as family name or clan name. But no analysis or
information exists on why these kings came to have ‘killi’ in their names. But the application of the
word “killi” as it exists in Mundari language shows that the word “Killi” is derived from “Kilai”. Kilai
means ‘branch’ and also ‘relatives’. Therefore a group of people who are related to each other or
those who belong to the same gotra could be called as “Kilai”. From Kilai, the word ‘killi’ had come.
Among Mundas, people of the same Killi do not marry within the Killi. This establishes the gotra
identity among the same killi. The Tamil meaning as ‘relatives’ concurs with this practice.


I wonder whether any connection exists between Cholan Killis and Mundari Killis! Mundas were
Maruttas originally. The Cholans trace their origin in Sibi’s dynasty. This is known from many Sangam
texts and also from copper plate inscriptions found at Thiruvalangadu. A commonality exists
between them as both Sibi and Marutta people had gone underground to escape from Parashurama.
Sibi’s descendants lived near the river Sindhu in North west India and Maruttas lived incognito in
Shindhu kalaka of the same region. It is possible the some of them had gone further west and to
central Asia. But Cholavarman, a descendant of Sibi dynasty came to Pumpukar and founded the
Chola dynasty. {4} This was before Parashurama’s times as there is a narration in a Tamil text called
Manimegalai of how the Cholan king of Pumpukar went into hiding when Parashurama was around
on the lookout for kshatriyas.

{Note on Cholas:- Cholavarman’s ancestry coming from Sibi in North west India must not be
considered as proof of Tamil speaking people having come from North west of India. The original
Tamil speakers were Pandyans who came from the now submerged regions in the Indian Ocean.
Tamil as a language refined with grammar was developed by Pandyans. However Tamil in corrupt
form called as “Kodum Tamil” (meaning ‘stunted Tamil’ which is what Apabrahmsa also means)
existed in other regions of India. It is a different history of how this happened. It will be discussed in
another series).

There is no etymology for Chola in Tamil. But Choda or Chauda or Chaula as variations of this name,
refer to tuft. There is a proverb in Tamil related to Cholas and their tuft. (“Cholian Kudumi chumma
aadaathu” – meaning the “the tuft of the Cholia does not shake for no reason”) The tuft of a Chola
was tied in the front of the head. The existence of this proverb and people with Cholia titles and
having tuft connected to Cholia make it known that Cholas were originally known for this kind of
tuft. Perhaps the Cholas got their name from the tuft they sported.

The following illustration shows the front-tuft. The picture is that of Periyaazhwar, a Vaishnavite
saint who was the father of AndAL. He is always depicted with the Cholia tuft that is tied in the front
of the head.


Cholistan in present-day Pakistan might perhaps be the place of Chola origin. The presence of Brahui
language with similarities with Tamil could be related to the emergence of Cholavarma from this
part of the country. It must be noted that the similar front-side tuft is found in people of the olden
days in the stretch starting from Pakistan to Russia. A genetic study on the traditional front-tuft
people of Eurasia and Cholia titled castes of Tamilnadu such as Cholia Brahmins and Cholia Vellalas
needs to be done to look for connections.

The Cholan presence in the region near Indus makes them and Maruttas share language and
traditions. The title Killi for Cholan kings to be same as Killi of Mundas must be viewed in this
perspective too. }

Sanskrit and Tamil in totems of Killi.

Each Killi of Mundas has a totem as an identity. The names of these totems are found to be Sanskrit
or Tamil. For example Kachap killi has Kachap as totem – kachap means tortoise in Sanskrit. Likewise
there are totems like Tuti that refers to Tulsi plant. Mundas use tulsi leaves in pujas to sprinkle
water. Soe totem refers to ‘sura’ in Tamil which refers to a fish. Nag totem refers to serpent. Purthi

totem means insect. In Tamil ‘Puchi’ means insect. The term Purthi seems to be a corrupt form of
Tamil word ‘Puchi’. Hansda totem refers to swan. Obviously Hansda is a corruption of Hamsa!

The fusion of Sanskrit and Tamil is seen in the totem ‘Kamal’. It means lotus in Mundari language
too. The link with Tamil word exists in the Sept name that has Kamal as the totem. The sept name is
“Tamar Pergana” – Tamarai is a Tamil word for lotus! Tamar Pergana is similar to “Tamarai Perum
gana”. The septs and totems are something indigenous to the Mundari people. They have come
from their basic culture. Many totems were formed in course of time, but their names certainly
show Tamil or Sanskrit words mingled in their language. The co-existence of Tamil and Sanskrit in
these names show how these two languages had co-existed as part and parcel of the society in their
previous origins.

In this context it must be mentioned, that the famous Tamil Sangam age Grammar book called
“Tholkappiyam” (meaning ‘ancient Kavya’) was authored by a descendant of Jamadagni’s lineage or
Jamadagni Gotra! Popularly known as “Tholkappiyar”, his original name was ‘Trunadhoomagni’ In
the very first verse of this grammar book he expresses his qualification as having mastered the
Sanskrit Vyakarana text called Aindram. It is with the knowledge of this Vyakarana text, he had
written the grammar for Tamil. A JAmadagya possessing fine knowledge of Tamil and even qualified
to write a grammar book in Tamil that became the official grammar book of the Sangam Assembly is
a crucial piece of evidence that Tamil was a widely spoken language and that it co-existed along with
Sanskrit in India, particularly from Vindhyas downward south and among Vedic sages. The probable
time period of this grammar book was 1500 BCE – the time when the last and the 3
Sangam was

The Mundari tribes.

The Mundas had existed as Maruttas and then as Marundas. Those who were engaged in iron
smelting were identified as Asurs. The Santals seem to have come from Coromandal coasts. The
Savaras came from the Vindhya regions. The Kurukhs aka Oraons came from Kishkindha as they
were descendants of vanaras. “The ‘Bhuiyas’, a Munda tribe, call themselves as Pāwan-ka-put or
Children of the Wind, that is of the race of Hanumān, who was the Son of the Wind”. {5}

The former regions of these tribes were near Vindhyas and the west coast of South India. The
warrior ancestors of these tribes living in these regions left these regions due to fear of Parashurama
and later settled in the hills and forests of Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Bengal and Orissa. Of them the
mention of Savaras by Mahabharata comes as a strong evidence of why they still continue to be as
they are now. The Mahabharata says that they became Kshatriya vrratyas due to the rage of
Parashurama. The Savaras and others who fled had to live on whatever they could lay their hands

on. They had to subsist on anything that they can catch hold of, say a frog or rat. Mahabharata 18-
135 says,

“By accepting food from a eunuch, or from an ungrateful person, or from one who has
misappropriated wealth entrusted to his charge, one is born in the country of the Savaras situated
beyond the precincts of the middle country.”

This is to say that one would get degraded food in Savara areas which was beyond the Madhya desa
– of Saraswathi basin. Though Savaras existed in seclusion, their existence was known to people in
Mahabharata times.

The fear of Parashurama resonated upto Pumpukaar of the Chola kingdom. The reigning Cholan king
Kanthan handed over the kingdom to his son born to a concubine thinking that Parashurama would
not consider him to be pure kshatritya race. That Parashurama went after only valiant kshatriyas is
known by a similar reference to one “Balika” of Amshuman dynasty who was always surrounded by
women. This earned him a name “NAru kavacha” – the one who is protected by women. It is for this
reason he was spared by Parashurama, says Srimad Bhagavatham {6}

Inscriptional evidence:-

That the Parashurama episode was a fact of history is known from an inscription of the Cholas.
Parashurama crowned the one born to a Haihaya princess whose father was killed by him while his
wife was pregnant with this child. Parashurama crowned him somewhere in Konkan region near a
hill called Mooshika (in Tamil “Ezhil malai”). This king was called as Rama kuta Mooshika – one
crowned by Rama of Bhargava kula. King Rajendra Chola I captured this crown given by
Parashurama from the “sAntima dweepa” {7}

Today no place exists by this name. But the Tulu Gramapadhata mentions an island called “sAnti” as
one among 77 islands that belonged to Gorashtra on the west coast of India. {8} None of these
islands exist today. But a look at the sea level maps of Graham Hancock shows that some islands had
existed in this part of the sea which were once an extension of west coast at the time of Ice age.

The following series of maps would reveal the changes that happened in course of time.



The figure below shows the complete inundation of the island under sea water. The arrow-mark in
yellow points to the sunken island which is seen in light blue.


This image shows the region of south west in the Kurma Chakra of division of India as it existed
about 2000 years ago. According to Varaha mihira, places called Hemagiri, Sindhukalaka, Raivataka,
Surashtra, Baadara, Dravida and Maharnva were located within the curve as shown in the figure
above. {9}
This region housed some important places of pilgrimage in Mahabharata times.

There is reference in Mahabharata of a pilgrimage by Pandavas that speak about the islands off
Konkan coast near Surparaka where sacrificial platforms for Jamadagni were present. {10}. As per
Mahabharata accounts, the Pandavas went to Surparaka. From there they crossed certain tract on
the coast of the sea and reached the islands dotted with forests. Those places were beheld by rulers
and ascetics in the past. The Pandavas offered their worship, fasted and made donations. Then from
there they came back to Surparaka. From Surparaka they went to Prabhas (Somnath) where the
pilgrimage was formally concluded. {11}

The islands off Konkan coast that Pandavas visited are no longer there. A marine exploration of this
region would reveal many clues to Parashurama’s historicity.

West-coast connection to Dravida and Manu

The importance of those islands is something that goes far beyond Parashurama’s times. What it
could be?
An important feature of the Parashurama episode is that he relocated Brahmins in the stretch of
west coast that was reclaimed from the sea. In the process, people like Kurukhs /Oraons had to quit

this place or were forced to leave this place to make room for the new settlers. The so-called Dravida
Brahmins were made to settle in this stretch who later spanned out to Kanchipuram and Andhra. Of
all the places in India, why Parashurama chose this stretch and even made his final abode in
Surparaka in this stretch is a big question. Added to this is the mystery of the sunken islands off
Surparaka that Pandavas visited.

There are many leads to unravel this mystery in British records, Mahabharata and some inscriptions
on Dravida lands in this stretch as far as south Kerala near “Aryan-kaavu” – the place where the
famous Iyappa temple is located. An analysis of these leads give us a revelation that Vaivaswatha
manu also known as Dravidewara Manu was living in this stretch before Holocene when the sea
levels were low due to Ice age in the Northern hemisphere. When the sudden sea floods happened
at the end of Ice age, Manu and his men (who were prepared for the flood) were pushed by the sea
currents in the Arabian seas that gushed from Indian Ocean. The currents carried them northward
and pushed them into river Saraswati and reached them as far as the Himalayan mountains. The
birth of Rig Vedas started after that. But the previous habitat in the west coast of India was lost to
the seas.

The following illustration shows the probable movement of inhabitants - Vaivaswata Manu and his
subjects and sages who lived in the coastal extensions at the beginning of Holocene.


River saraswati was flowing mightily at that time. The estuary of that river formed the entry point of
Manu pushed by the currents (or pulled by the Mathsya, the mythical Fish) which came to be called
as Dwaraka. Every time this entry was swallowed by the sea, another Dwaraka was built in
remembrance of that early entry that facilitated the growth of new civilisation of Vaivaswatha

In course of time, when the domination of Kshatriyas grew to the extent of arrogance, Parashurama
was present in the picture affected by an act of arrogance and atrocity by the Kshatriyas (Haihaya
Kartha veeryarjuna) . He decided to call it a day and destroyed every kshatriya around him. Wanting
to start from the beginning, he reclaimed the lost coast of Dravida Manu and settled the Brahmins
who had come from the time of Manu. The explanation and justification of this require another
series of articles which I will take up in a future date.



{1} Brihad samhita – chapter 26.
{2} “The Tribes and Castes of the Central Provinces of India” - Volume IV of IV, by R.V. Russell
{3} “Tribal culture of India” L.P Vidyarthi & Binay Kumar p260
{5} “The Tribes and Castes of the Central Provinces of India”, Vol 3 by R. V. Russell
{6} Srimad Bhagavatham - 9.9.40
{7} One dated at 1024 AD found on a rock on top of Thirumalaik kunRu near POLur and another
dated 1031 AD found in the southern side of the sanctum sanctum of Rajarajeswara temple in
{8} “Ancient Karnataka” Vol I ‘History of Tuluva’.
{9} Brihad samhita 14- 19
{10} Mahabharata 3-88
{11} Mahabharata 3-118

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