Parsuramksetrotpati : The origin of Parsuramksetra



Standing on the summit of the Sahyadri mountain, Parsuram beheld the ocean and ordered it to recede. The ocean did likewise, and lo there was land, about 39 kilometres wide and about 1,288 kilometres long, stretching from Kanyakumari to Nasik-Tryambakesvar. A little earlier, in the chapter Citpavanbramhanotpati [SHKG, 120; SHKD, 303], Parsuramksetra is delimited differently; it sets the Vaitarni River as the northern limit of the territory. Vaitarni flows 72 kilometres to the north of Mumbai; the modern town of Virar is located on its southern bank. The river originates in the Tryambakesvar Mountain in the Sahyadri Range, about 40 kilometres from Nashik.

Citpavanbramhanotpati gives the Subramanya River as the southern limit of Parsuramkaetra. At present there is no river by this name in the two coastal states of Karnataka and Kerala. But there are two rivers which have Lord Subramanya temples on their banks, and are therefore sometimes referred to as Subramanya rivers. One is the Kumaradhara River in Karnataka; it originates in the Subramanya range of Western Ghats and has the Kukke Subramanya Temple on its banks; it meets the Nethravati River near the Uppinangadi Village, 55 kilometres from Mengaluru. The other is the Achankovil River, which meets the sea near Alapuzha. Kodumthara Sri Subrahmanya Swamy Temple is located on its banks. It is difficult to say which of the two rivers is the one mentioned; it is more likely that Citpavanbramhanotpati’s Subramanya river is the one in Kerala.

Of greater importance is the east-west extent of the Parsuramksetra; 39 kilometres would mean roughly from the sea at Vagator to Anjunem, or from Sancoale to Molem or from Majali to Kaiga. So, on an average, we can say that Parsuram’s arrow reclaimed land from the foothills of the Sahyadri to the present sea coast. This may not be accurate, given the estimates based on scientific evidence that we have discussed earlier [Where Did Parshurama’s Arrow Fall? September 2, 2018]. What is important is who inhabited the land between Sahyadri and the coastline before the sea receded. We have seen evidence of pre-historic inhabitation in the Dudhsagar – Mhaday basin, probably of both anatomically modern humans as well as other homo species prior to it [The Acheulian Evidence, December 9, 2018]. We have discussed the movement of humans across the Sahyadri given the pre-Parsuram geography of Komkan, that is as Komkan was prior to the receding of the sea. The first major movement was obviously the ‘Out of Africa’ dispersals of AMH which landed on the Komkan coast and possibly ventured inland and across the Sahyadri into the Deccan, and populated it [An Ancient Faith, February 17, 2019]. We have said that it could be these that constitute the demographic substratum of Indian peninsula. We have tentatively called them kur, or vadukar to use the Tamil name for them. Much later, they seem to have return migrated to the coast driven by adverse climatic conditions [Driven By The Drought, February 5, 2017]. But this return migration is not likely to have been of only the kur; following them the Deccan caddi must have also come [Crawford, 1909 :Legends Of The Konkan, 25; Fernandes, 1981:Uma Descrição e Relação de ‘De Sasatana Peninsula in Indiae Statu’ Textus Inediti, 94].

So when Parsuram descended the western slopes of the Sahyadri, he must have encountered the very Deccan ksatriya whom he had sought to annihilate. It is not very likely that these had been the victims of his fury; or they could have been. Therefore, in a way, he was still in the blood tainted land that he had forsaken to the bramhan. It is difficult to visualise the scenario; neither the itihas nor the puran provides us any clues.

According to SHK he chose to stay on a mountain, away from the rest, in the new land he had ‘created’. And to attend to the Vedic rituals like honouring the dead (sraddha) he settled in the new territory sixty families of citpavan bramhan, ‘who were fair skinned, handsome and had beautiful eyes’. The place where they were settled, was at the feet of the Sahyadri, and was named Cittapolan (Ciplun). Then he brought ten bramhan families from Trihotr from among the panc gaud bramhan, and settled them at Panncakrosi and Kusasthal in Goa. These were families of bhardvaj, kausik, vats, kaundinya, kasyap, vasisth, bhargava, visvamitr, gautam and atri gotr, and were settled in Mathagram (Margao), Kusasthal (Cortalim) and Kardalinagar (Kelsi = Quelossim) [SHKG, 123; SHKD, 303]. The fourth chapter of SKH named Vividhbramhanotpati, elaborates on the settlement of these dasgotri (of ten gotr as above) bramhan. Of the total sixty six families, ten were of kausik, vats and kaundinya gotr; these were settled at Kusasthal and Kelsi. Six families each in Lotli, Kusasthal, Varenya (Verna) and Mathagram. Ten families in Cudamani (Chorao) and eight in Dipavati (Divar). Twelve in the centre of Goa (Bardez?) and in its Pamcakrosi (Pedne ?). Though SHK does not say it explicitly, it is obvious that the sixty families of dasgotri bramhan brought from Trihotr and settled in different villages of Goa make up the gaud sarasvat bramhan community.

This seems to be a very neat picture of how the bramhan came to settle in coastal Komkan. As for the citpavan bramhan, SHK does not specify from where they came; nor can we come to any conclusion about it. There has been a lot of speculation about it, but much of it driven by inter-bramhan rivalries. Trihotr is in Bihar, in the Yamuna-Ganga doab. Panc gaud bramhan refers to the bramhan from the north of the Vindhya mountains; according to the definition given by SHK elsewhere, the category includes the sarasvat, kanyakubj, gaud, maithili, and utkal[SHKG, 121; SHKD, 301]. Except for the sarasvat, all the rest – kanyakubj (Kannauj), gaud, maithili (Mithila – Trihotr) and utkal (Orissa) – refer to places or people in the Yamuna-Ganga-Bhahmaputra plain. Bhardvaj, kausik, vats, kaundinya, kasyap, vasisth, bhargava, visvamitr, gautam and atri are the ten gotr of the Kuru-Pancal bramhan. In short, leaving out the sarasvat, and possibly the citpavan, all the bramhan that Parsuram ‘brought’ and settled in Parsuramksetra were the Kuru-Pancal bramhan.