Friday, April 11, 2014

Castes that helped Parashurama. (Mundas article -5)

All the articles in this series:-

The current article can also be read here:-

and here:- 

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 Maharashtra. 

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 Parasurama.”

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 1st 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.

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 course. 

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 Oraonsa 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.

(continued in Part 6)

{2} Purananuru – verse 2.
{3} “कवाटम् पाण्ड्यानाम् – Valmiki Ramayana, chapter 41 -19


Devendra said...

as per one of the god reliazed people who have now taken Samadhi Parshuram killing Kshatryas means he actually killed many large animals during that time. So we need not take literal meaning. As per another person Ramanayan is close to 9 Lakh yrs old. What do you have to say on this.

Devendra said...

I was reading a book of a person who has mediated to Gayatri (adi shakti) for 45 yrs and he was able to meet her and get good knowledge. According to him Vedas are always there with Lord Brahma even before creation of this world they are just revealed to rishis when the world was created. So we cannot provide a date when vedas are written. Also as you say There is nothing called Aryan Invasion and infact they were the Indians residing in Saraswati valley who actually migrated to middle east
As per these links what do you want to say on that.

1) What does your astrology say that when this truth will be revealed to the world and infact all languages including foreign ones were derived from Sanskrit and Hinduism was the only religion since world creation. Infact I know some god realized people and they are saying that do not worry world started with Hinduism and will end with it.

2) What are your thoughts on dravidians (I believe since there was nothing called aryans this term is also hollow and we should do away with these racial terms)

Jayasree Saranathan said...

Dear Mr Devendra Parmar,

There are scores of articles written by me on the topics / issues you have asked. Please browse my blog to find answers.

Ashwin Narasimhan said...

Pranams to Jayasree mam,

I stumbled upon this blog through COMK posts.
First of all, I gotta really appreciate your research on Indian history and I am simply falling in love with many of your articles.

Thank you so much for that!!

I have been reading your articles and I have some queries, one among them is about the time period of Lord Parasurama.

So, it is appropriate to post this query in this series of articles.

My question is, what is the exact period of Lord Parasurama?
Since, He is known to have existed since before Lord Rama's time until Mahabharata time (episode of battle with Bheeshma). Is it the same person or is it also a title like Vyasa?

Please shed some light on this.

Jayasree Saranathan said...

Welcome to my blog Mr Ashwin Narasimhan.
Thanks for your appreciation.

Parashurama was a contemporary of Rama. And Rama was a contemporary of Agastya. Agastya's date of crossing the Vindhyas is linked with the first ever sighting of Agastya star from the north of the Vindhyas according to Parashara Tantra. This has been dated at around 5200 BCE by Abhyankar with other researchers also coming closer to this date within 200 year margin. On the other hand the date of Rama's birth done by Pushkar Bhatnagar based on the birth time planets given in Valmiki Ramayana is 5114 BCE. This is the same in astrology software also. This kind of concurrence makes it plausible to think that Rama lived in the first or 2nd century of the 6th millennium BCE. Based on these we can say that Parashurama lived at the same time - giving a margin of a century before and after, we can say he lived sometime between 5200 - 5000 BCE.

You can read Pushkar Bhatnagar's date of Rama in my blog here:

Agastya star-sighting and its link with Ramayana is highlighted in my paper, the ppt of which can be accessed here:
You can see them in 45th and 46th slides.

On the appearance of Parashurama in MB: Muchukuntha and Hanuman also appear later in MB times. In my opinion these are not about continuing physical existence of these people - which is impossible. But exalted people can appear to those they want to - for some purpose. In recent history it was reported in the life of Thirumalai Krishnamachar from whom the present Yoga cult had sprung up. He was born in the lineage of Nathamuni who received Nalayira Divya Prabhandam from Madhurakavi, much later than Madhurakavi's times. These were all possible by yogic power. The book by the grandson of Krishnamachar explains how his grandfather reached the abode of Nathamnuni and received the teachings of Yoga from him in dream or meditative state. One can say that Nathamuni met Krishnamacharya and imparted the knowledge. We have to take those encounters in MB in this sense.

The above episode appears in the book "The Yoga of the Yogi: The Legacy of T. Krishnamacharya" by Kausthub Desikachar

Jayasree Saranathan said...

On Vyasa, though there are many Vyasas, there is only one Vyasa found in our texts, that is Vyasa who wrote Mahabharata ans compiled vedas that is available to us. His original name was Badarayana. Also known as krishna dvaipayana.

Jayasree Saranathan said...

I have explained how it is possible for exalted people to appear in a much later time period before persons to whom they want to convey something, in the article here:
It is in Tamil.