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Sinhalese tradition of the Kapurālas that their cult originated in the time of King Paṇḍuwāsa Dēva, that is, in the fourth century B.C.; and other stories which state that many of the demons landed on the western or southern coast at some unknown time.
So far as these researches have extended, the result, as regards the primitive cult of the aborigines, may be summarised in a few words. The original religion of the Vaeddas appears to have been this: They worshipped one beneficent deity, the Hill God of Southern India, who provided them with food, sent them rain, and checked their illnesses and epidemics. They also believed in the existence of at least twelve evil deities or demons, who caused the ills that afflicted them. They may have had a Sea God also ;; but respecting this the evidence is insufficient. Probably, also, they shared with the other inhabitants of India a belief in the existence of ancestral spirits, to whom offerings were made, and whose functions were partly hurtful and partly protective.
One thing at least may be remarked with confidence respecting the Vaeddas-that their religious conceptions contain no beliefs that tend to show any connexion with other aborigines than those of Southern India. I am not aware that there is any adoration of the sun, or planets, or astral bodies, or the powers of Nature, nor apparently is there any snake worship by them. How far their magical ideas extend is unknown; that some of the more settled of them must be acquainted with many of the practices of the Sinhalese is proved by their faith in the existence of the Huniyan Yakā, the demon whose special function is to give effect to curses, and magic, and evil spells.
The full story of Ayiyanar's miraculous birth may be contained in the Skanda Purāna, which has not appeared in English. I translate the legend as it was related to me in a Sinhalese village near Indigollaēwa; it is in close agreement with that which I heard at the great Saivite temple at Tanjore. Some explanatory additions are inserted in brackets.
THE ORIGIN OF THE SONS OF SIVA.
Great Vishnu [Mā Vis Unnānse] having taken the appearance of a woman whose name was Surānganā ['Celestial Nymph,' that is, Mōhini] was rocking in a swing. At that time Basmawas a servant of the God Iswara [Śiva]. The Goddess Umayangană [Parvati] was married to Iswara. While Basmasura was employed under Umayanganā she went alone to the river to bathe, and taking off her Abarana [insignia] placed them near the river. Leaving them alone there she pulled up a small quantity of Singarael [a plant] and created from it a prince, and instructed him to remain beside the Abarana [to guard them]. She then entered the water. A tale-bearer went and falsely told Iswara that Basmasurā had gone to watch the Goddess bathe. Then Iswara being angry mounted his elephant, and taking his sword proceeded to the spot. [Seeing a person sitting on the river bank] he cut off the prince's head, which fell into the water.
The Goddess thereupon came out of the water, and said to Iswara, "Why did you behead the prince whom I have created?" Iswara replied, [“ I thought he was Basmasurā]. If you can create another prince, do so." Then the Goddess said, "If you will cause the prince whom I created to come to life again, I will create [not one, but] seven more." Iswara agreed to this. But he was unable to find the head [oluwa], and he therefore entered the water, and created a white lotus plant [olu-gaha]. He then cut off the head of his elephant, and fixed it on the neck of the beheaded prince, and named him Gana Deviyā [Gaņēsa].
Then the Goddess created a prince from a kind of grass; she made another from Singarael; a third from a piece of cloth; a fourth from leaves; a fifth from sand; a sixth from creepers; and a seventh from a kind of fruit that had fallen from a tree. Those seven remained in one place. The God
1 A Rakshasa in Indian legend. The name is a compound of Bhasma, ashes, + Asura, demon. Siva is called Bhasma-priya 'Fond of Ashes.'
2 Evidently deriving the word from the Skt. ghana, slaying.
Iswara, saying, “I am going to eat my sons," clasped his arms round them, and all seven were caught, but one escaped beneath his hand and fled. The other six were crushed together, and became the God Kanda-Swāmi [Skanda], with six faces and twelve hands, who rides on a peacock. The prince who had escaped became the Kaḍawara 2 Dēvatā [' the Celestial who escaped,' generally considered to be a demon in Ceylon].
After this, Iswara entered the river to bathe [to purify himself], and handed to Basmasura the arrow which he held in his hand. Basmasurā thinking "I will kill Iswara with this arrow, and marry the Goddess Umayanganā," made off with the arrow. The God Iswara, being afraid, ran away, and got hid under the swing in which the Goddess Surānganā was swinging. When Basmasura came up with the arrow Suranganā asked him, "What are you doing? "I am running to kill the God Iswara," he said. "Why?" she asked. "In order to marry Umayanganā," he replied. "What is [the use of] that; should I be a bad match for you [mama narakada ?]," she asked. Basmasura answered, "It is good [expressing his approval of the match]. Suranganā then said, "We will swear an oath never to give each other up." "Yes," rejoined Basmasurā [forgetting that her name Mōhini means 'Deluder '], "what oath shall we swear? "Take your right hand and put it on your head," answered Surānganā, and I will take my right hand and put it on my head." At that time Basmasurā having become foolish through the sentiment of Kāma [love], without giving up the arrow placed it on his head in his hand. Thereupon he was burnt up by [the magical properties inherent in] the arrow. Then [Iswara came out from under the swing and embraced Suranganā,
This is the correct translation of the Sinhalese words, magē puttō kanța; but the last word, like the whole story, is taken over from the Tamil, in which it must mean 'embrace.' Compare Skt. kanthagraha, an embrace. In Tamil, kantam or kandam is a neck.
* From Tamil kaḍa, to step aside, or escape from, + varar, celestials. 'I have a very short Sinhalese spear or assegai, which the owner termed an arrow'; the arrow mentioned in the story appears to have been a stabbing weapon, as no bow is referred to.
and] Basmasura, through his love for her was conceived in her womb. Afterwards Surānganā resumed her male form [as Vishnu]. Ten months being fully accomplished, he split his right hand, and took out the prince, who received the name of Ayiyanar Baṇḍāra. Surāngana's name became Kiri-Ammā.
This story was told to me in order to explain exactly who Ayiyanar was, and his relationship to the Kiri-Amma. Thus it is plain that by the Sinhalese, at any rate, the latter is believed to be Mōhini, and not Parvati.
A different version of this story is current in Maisūr, and is given in the Indian Antiquary, Vol. ii, p. 50. In it Siva handed to Basmasurā his middle fiery eye, the glance of which consumes everything on which it gazes. Vishnu in the form of a bewitching female came to Siva's assistance, and the wicked Rakshasa was burnt up himself. The interview with Mōhini resulted in the production of three Lingas.
Among the Wanniyas the chief deities 1 are (1) The Wanniyā Baṇḍāra, (2) the Five Dēvatās, and (3) the Hat (or Sat) Rajjuruwō.
The Wanniya Baṇḍāra is the Wanni Deviya, the Forest God who is said by the Sinhalese of the North-central Province to be Ayiyanār. Invocations collected by Dr. Seligmann indicate a possibility that he may be the Galē Yakā, the special reason against this identification being the facts that the Wanniya Baṇḍāra or Deviyā of the Sinhalese is not a Hill God, and the Gale Yakā is not a special Forest God. The name of the Wanniya god means the 'Forester Chief' he is not worshipped on hills like the God of the Rock.
The five Dēvatās are said to be Ilandāra Dēyiyā, Ayiyanār Dēyiyā, Kalu Dēvatāwunār, Kaḍawara Dēvatāwunār, and Mangalya Deyiyā. The Hat Rajjuruwō is, as already stated, merely a title of King Mahāsēna. All these act as guardian deities.
If the names of the Dēvatās are given correctly, Ayiyanār
1 I made no inquiry as to their knowledge of the God of the Rock or the Kiri-Ammā, having myself no information regarding them at that time (1885).
reappears among them in a minor position, where one would not expect to find him. This considerably strengthens the probability that the Wanniya Baṇḍāra is the Gale Yakā. On the other hand deities often reappear with varying names under different aspects, and various persons hold divergent views regarding them.
Ilandāra Dēyiya is known to the Coast Vaeddas and the North-western Kandians; he is said by the latter to have been a chieftain under King Mahā-Sēna, and to have resided at Minnĕriya tank. The Kandians of the North-central Province state that he is a son of the Kiri-Ammā. The Kalu Dēvatā is also reported to be a special deity of the Northcentral Province. Kaḍawara Dēvatā has been already mentioned as the prince who avoided the squeeze of Siva which compressed the six others into one.
Although it seems clear that Ilandāra and the younger Bilindă are the same deity, the identity of the Wanni Deviyā is less certain, notwithstanding the information given to me that he is Ayiyanar. Such statements always require sifting carefully. The name of the latter deity in both Tamil and Sinhalese is an honorific form meaning 'Elder Brother,' an expression that would not be used unless there was a younger brother, that is Ilandāra, 'the youth,' or Bilindā, 'the child.' Thus the latter deity and Ayiyanar appear to be the two Bilindu brothers of whom Mr. Nevill heard.
In a poetical Sinhalese invocation addressed to 'the Twelve Gods,' references made to the Wanni Deviyā (also called in it Wanni Baṇḍāra) indicate that he is Bilindā, and not Ayiyanār. It states that he, the God of the Wanni Country,' went to Kataragama in order to receive offerings, and that napuru ayayi me purața aewidin yak mennē waran laeba, 'the wicked elder brother having come to this city obtained power like a Yakā.' Dr. Seligmann heard that Kandē Yakā killed Bilindā; perhaps reference is made to this in the poem. From it we also learn that the Wanni Deviyā was born at a place called Kiwiyaluwa, and was king of the Vaedi country, and king of Bintaenna, who promenaded round Sorabora tank. He protects the people of jungle villages, rides wild elephants,