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The Ksatriya Odyssey continues

TENSING RODRIGUES

We have traced the journey of the ksatriya from their Near Eastern homeland to Kathiyavad. Thence, we have seen, the story gets even more interesting. Around 6,000 BCE kirat (Tibeto-Burman) come in from South East Asia and China, across the northeastern frontier near the India-China-Myanmar border [Gadgil et al, 1998: Peopling Of India, in Balasubramanian & Rao, The Indian Human Heritage, 107; Who was Siva, March 18, 2018; From Kailasa to Kathiyavad, March 25, 2018; Vidyadhara And Kirat, April 1, 18; The Two Waves, April 8, 2018]. Probably these too were drawn into Indian subcontinent by prospects of trade. Chatterji attests to the fact that there existed a trade between north-eastern India and south-western China in the centuries around the beginning of the first millennium CE; Chinese silk cloth and bamboo flutes, among other things, came in via Yunnan, North Burma and Assam [Chatterji, 1998 :Kirata-Jana-Krti, 37]. It could have begun earlier. According to Chatterji the above goods were then carried as far west as Afghanistan and Central Asia. What is not yet established is whether this trade was carried out all the way by the kirat; or, whether they were engaged only in the trans-Himalaya leg of the trade. In that case, who carried the goods further? It is very probable that trade brought the ksatriya and the kirat together into a unique symbiotic relationship, exchanging both goods and genes. At the heart of this all was Kathiyavad; here was born the community we have called the kathiyavadi ksatriya.

The kathiyavadi ksatriya spread all along the Indo-Gangetic plain, up to its eastern extremity. Though only tangentially relevant to the ksatriya odyssey, it is important to note that the ksatriya-kirat fusion created a unique culture in the eastern Indo-Gangetic plain, specifically in what Bronkhorst calls the ‘Greater Magadha’ [Bronkhorst, 2007 :Greater Magadha – Studies in the Culture of Early India; Who Are Kshatriya, February 12, 2017, Further Inquiry Into Chadd’ddi, February 19, 2017; Who Are The Jain, December 17, 2017]. It was in this land that a number of religious and spiritual movements arose, most famous among them being Buddhism and Jainism. Chatterji makes an interesting remark: “Buddha himself would be an Indo-Mongoloid”, meaning ksatriya-kirat.

But, like the ephemeral Sarasvati, the fall of Kathiyavad was written in its making. Set on the land created by the receding sea, it got submerged when the Ice Age ended. And the kathiyavadi ksatriya had to flee. They had to find another Kathiyavad. The natural course was to move south along the western coast. That is what brought them to Komkan. As we have said earlier, Kathiyavad was not just a single port, it was a massive port complex; its replacement had to be equally massive. What eventually came to be built was a ‘belt’ of ports spanning the entire littoral of Komkan, from Samjan in Gujarat (outside modern Daman) to Kusasthali in Goa [Ancient God Of A Modern Metropolis, April 15, 2018; A Survey Of Ancient Komkan Ports, April 29, 2018]. Of course we do not know whether these were built from the scratch, or whether they captured and expanded existing ports [The Shells Of Khirsara, June 23, 2019].

We find strong evidence to back such a hypothesis. One of the new ports they founded was at the mouth of river Zuari in Goa, which not only looked very much like the Kusasthali port the kathiyavadi ksatriya had left behind, but was promising – fertile land, lush vegetation, and plenty of water; and a sheltered harbour. In keeping with the nostalgic practice we find common in history, they named the place Kusasthali. They occupied several villages around – Samkhavale (Sancoale), probably naming it after Shankhodhar (also called Bet Dwarka) that they had left behind; Kelasi (Quelossim); Lotli (Loutulim), probably naming it after Lothal, whose remains have been found; and so on [The Lost Ports of Goa, May 20, 2018].

There is strong cultural evidence too. We have said earlier that Siva was the presiding deity of the kathiyavadi ksatriya. They were all worshippers of Somanath(Siva); the temple still stands at Veraval in what was once called Sorath; which was originally the southernmost of the ten prant into which Kathiyavad peninsula was divided. The origin of this temple is lost in antiquity;but history records that a second temple was built at the same site by the yadava kings of Vallabhi around 649 Common Era. The original temple could date to the time of yadava king Revat, whose capital was at Kusasthali [The Sorath Connection, Nov 12, 2017; Siva’s Migrations, February 11, 2018].

Siva was the god of the kirat. He is usually portrayed clad in an animal skin, usually of tiger; and most of the pictures of Siva show him with a topknot. Unlike other gods, Siva is usually offered bel/bilva leaves as neivedyam. All these attributes and more show a strong affinity between Siva and the kirat; he shares with them their martial qualities and love for music and dance, as well as their simple nature and volatile temper. He indeed appears to be a god of the kirat in their own image and likeness [Who was Siva, March 18, 2018]. The entire ‘belt’ of ports in Komkan, from Samjan to Kusasthali, which replaced Kathiyavad, is strewn with Jaina, Buddhist and Siva related archaeological remains and cultural influence. Parel Heptad is an 11.5 feet by 6.5 feet marble sculpture portraying Siva with seven heads. Gharapuri Caves, more popularly known as Elephanta Caves, is a group of caves and Buddhist stupa mounds. Borivali / Eksar has the hallmark Siva presence in the form of the Mamdapesvara caves. Kanheri caves are just 10 kilometres away, Mahakali caves 18 kilometres away and the Jogesvari caves 15 kilometres away [Ancient God Of A Modern Metropolis, April 15, 2018].

The presiding deity of Kutthali is Mamges (Mangirish or Mangesh). Among the ancient temples in Samkhavali, Kelasi, and Lotali destroyed in the 16th century and deities transferred elsewhere, we find temples dedicated to Samteri, Isvara, Narayana, Ramanatha, and Narasimha [Gomes Pereira, 1978: Hindu Temples and Deities, 106]. The connection of these deities to Siva may not be obvious; it is complex as well, involving layers of assimilation myths. But it is unmistakable.That gives us a fair picture of the ksatriya journey from Sorath to Kutthali.

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