Tuesday 4 August 2015

Koti & Chennaya – the legendary heroes of Tulu land (Part 2)

Mangalorean's young and old must have heard about the heroics of Koti-Chennaya through folklore, ballads and Tulu epic of the same name. But most of the present generation of Mangaloreans born or brought up outside and abroad may not be aware about the stories of these legendary twins. Koti and Chennaya are legendary twin brothers who are still revered in this land of the Tuluvas. The story of these heroes dates back to around 500 years; somewhere in the 1556 - 1591 AD. The valiant twin brothers were also known as Karnika Purushas.

As per the legend, Koti and Chennaya were born to Deye Baidethi from the Billawa community of Tulu nadu, South Kanara in Karnataka. Due to their heroic deeds and fight for social equality, they are revered and remembered as protectors of the land. They died fighting near Enmoor. Their Samadhi still stands there. Temples in their memory, called Garodi which doubles up as gymnasiums have been built in their name all over Tulu land. Once every year, festival called Nema is celebrated in the Garodis where the villagers assemble to pray for their well-being………..

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Part 1............
Upset by the humiliation, Budhiyanta, as a revenge; few days later drained the excess water from his field to Koti-Chennaya’s field, destroying their crops. Koti, annoyed, went to Budhiyanta and asked for an explanation for his cowardly act. Budhiyanta arrogantly replied that that he knew more about cultivation than the young twins. He abused Koti for his guts to question him, a minister of the king. On hearing this, Chennaya was furious and confronted him. He ran after him with a sword in his hands. Budhiyanta sensing grave danger ran for his life, but Chennaya pulled him down. The twins attacked and killed him. Recalling their words during childhood, they went to his house and grabbed the ball. The news of Budhiyanta’s death spread like fire. People heaved a sigh of relief as they were free from his tyranny. Koti and Chennaya were hailed by the people for freeing them from Budhiyanta’s oppression.
(Continued in Part 2)

On their next visit to the king, the twins asked for the boon he had promised their mother Deye Baidethi years ago; the king refused to abide by his promise. Enraged, Koti-Chennaya announced that they no longer wished to stay in his kingdom and would leave Padumale forever. The king shocked by this decision, pleaded with the twins to stay. But Koti-Chennaya were firm. They set out on foot. On the way they reached a river, but the boatman refused cross over in the midnight. Trusting their kuladevata (family deity), they proceeded to walk across the river. The boatman was stunned at the sight. After crossing the river and walking a long distance, they were exhausted. They halted to rest, and here they met an old Brahmin who enquired about their caste. Koti answered – We are Billawa. And Chennaya added – and Brahmins by our deeds. Chennaya refused to drink water from the pot offered by the Brahmin, and instead drank from his sword. The Brahmin was taken aback by the unusual way of drinking water, and realized that he was speaking to extraordinary beings. The old man was a fortune-teller and he predicted the twins would face a tough time ahead but their name and fame would last forever.

As per the advice of their uncle, Sayana Baida’s suggestion, they visited Paiya Baida’s home and met their elder sister Kinnidaru. She was born to Kantana Baida and the first Deyi Baidethi, later married Paya Baida. Kinnidaru was overcome with emotion when Koti-Chennaya introduced themselves as her twin brothers. They stayed with her for a few days. Koti-Chennaya remembering their mother’s wish, made during their birth – to donate to the place of origin (moolasthana) of their ancestral deity (kuladaiva), Kemmalaje Nagabrahma. On their expressing their desire to Paiya Baida, who was familiar with the place; he gave them the directions to reach the place located in a dense forest in Enmooru.

On the twin’s arrival in Panja, they were welcomed and the people were overwhelmed by their humility, respect for elders and their friendly nature though they were known for their heroic deeds and martial skills. Chandugidi, a minister was anxious about the people’s response, fearing Koti-Chennaya’s fame would jeopardize his position. Meanwhile King Perumal Ballal was sad since the twins had left his kingdom. He missed them and wished to have them back. He sent his men in search of their whereabouts. He received the news about their location. Perumal Ballal sent a message to Temara Ballal, the King of Panja to hand over the brothers to Perumal. Cunning Chandugidi intentionally read the message as an order to arrest or kill the brothers. Though Temara Ballal had a soft corner for Koti-Chennaya, Chandugidi succeeded in misleading Temara Ballal and secured the king’s permission to handle the matter on his own.

Koti-Chennaya were keen to meet the King Temara Ballal and told Paiya Baida about it. He led them to Chandugidi, who promised to arrange a meeting with the king. Chandugidi worked out a plan to trap the brothers. He called his men to build a palace like structure overnight. It was called Dindumale and was designed specifically to trap Koti-Chennaya. On their arrival, Chandugidi asked them to go inside as the king wished to speak to them in private. Unsuspecting, the twins entered and were trapped inside. Chandugidi laughed aloud at his success in trapping them. The twins trapped and in total darkness prayed to Kemmalaje Nagabrahma. They managed to break the wall with their strength and escaped from Dindumale. Chandugidi was upset, angry and also feared on hearing about their daring escape.

Kempu Kemmalje Nagabrahmastana in Enmooru province was next to Panja. It was ruled by a just and honest King Deva Ballal. A forest named Tuppekallu located in the border was a matter of dispute between the two neighboring provinces. Although the forest belonged to Enmooru, Chandugidi had forcibly shifted the border stone to cover the forest area.

After escaping from Dindumale, Koti-Chennaya entered Tuppekallu forest and noticed the shifted border marker stone. Realising foul play by Panja, Chennaya restored the marker border stone to its original spot. Before entering Enmooru the brothers wished to offer their prayers to Kemmalaje Nagabrahma using the directions given by Paiya Baida. By the time they reached the temple, the morning ritual (puja) was over and the temple doors were shut. Koti-Chennya requested the priest to reopen the doors but the priest advised them to wait till next morning.

As they had to make an offering and without which they could not proceed further, Koti-Chennaya sat opposite the closed door of the temple and prayed. To everyone’s surprise, miraculously the door opened and the bells started swaying and ringing. Koti-Chennaya with tears in their eyes thanked the deity for his darshan. The priest was stunned by all this happening right in front of his eyes. He sought forgiveness from the brothers. They smiled in return and wished him well.

Koti-Chennaya were received with great respect in Enmooru. King Deva Ballal offered them royal treatment and hospitality and gifted them a piece of land named Aivattoklu. However it was a great challenge ahead to convert the barren land into a productive one. With a determination, Koti-Chennaya mobilized young men to join in their effort to convert the dry land into a fertile land and introduced innovative methods of cultivation. Admiring the development many families shifted to the newly developed area of Koti-Chennaya. The brothers paid great attention to irrigation projects all over Enmooru. They built new roads and motivated the youth in irrigation and development. Within a couple of years the agriculture produce increased manifold in Enmooru.

Stray and wild animals would enter the fields they had developed and destroy the crops. As this became more frequent, to end this menace, Koti-Chennaya decided to take action. Taking permission of the King, the brothers entered the forest with some men. Chennaya shot a boar with an arrow. The injured boar ran across the forest and Enmooru border and collapsed in the jungle of Panja. Following the boar, Koti-Chennaya and the men reached the spot. The people of Panja claimed since the dead boar was lying in their territory, it was theirs. Koti-Chennaya argued that it belonged to them as they had shot it. A skirmish took place and Koti-Chennaya attacked the Panjas. After defeating them, took the dead boar to Enmooru.

Chandugidi was angry on hearing the news. He declared that Panja would avenge the humiliation. He ordered that the boar be returned and insisted that Koti-Chennaya tender an unconditional apology. Temara Ballal sent a letter to Deva Ballal demanding the custody of Koti-Chennaya and further warned of dire consequences on failing to comply with his order.

Peace-loving Deva Ballal was upset with these developments, but could not imagine handing over Koti-Chennaya to the enemy. Sensing his dilemma Koti-Chennaya assured him to take charge of the situation. Deva Ballal sent a terse reply to Temara Ballal and invited for a battle. Temara Ballal was taken aback as he had not expected such a reply. He had no option but to prepare for the battle.

Both sides started preparing for the war. Scared of Koti-Chennaya, Temara Ballal sought the help of Perumal Ballal who blindly agreed to join Panja in a battle against Enmooru.

The fight started and the fierce battle left many soldiers dead from both sides. On the seventh day, Chennaya confronted Chandugidi. And after a long tussle with, swords, Chandugidi was killed. Enmooru rejoiced at the end of the evil person.

Next morning, Koti looked a bit serious, he told Chennaya about the bad dream he had the previous night in which he saw a soldier riding a buffalo going towards the north. The soldier appeared with a lot of oil on his head and his body was covered with blood, carrying a sword in his hand, he laughed weirdly. The dream seemed to be a bad omen. On hearing about the dream, Chennaya suggested that he would lead the army instead of Koti. But fearless Koti turned down the offer and decided to lead himself.

After Chandugidi’s death, Temara Ballal decided to enter the battlefield. Koti faced Temara Ballal and a fierce duel ensued. Swords flashed with sparks flying, and an aggressive move of attack from Koti, dislodged Temara Ballal’s sword from his hand. He ran for his life. Koti followed him shouting to surrender as he does not kill unarmed person. Just then suddenly an arrow pierced Koti from behind. Koti collapsed, and looking back he saw Perumal Ballal hiding behind a tree. Koti was shocked and bleeding Koti asked Perumal Ballal about his act of cowardice – how could he kill the boy whom he had fed and played with and how this barbaric act would tarnish his reputation?

Perumal Ballal replied that he did not wish to kill him, but under some evil influence he was forced to act. He regretted his action, and with remorse stated he would not return to Padumale after killing his beloved Koti. The hear-broken Perumal pulled the sword to kill himself. Koti stopped him by snatching the sword from the King. He told the King not to kill himself and end the war; and requested him to extend his hand of friendship with Enmooru.

On seeing Koti die, Chennaya could not control himself. He was overcome with pain and emotion of his twin brother’s death, with grief Chennaya smashed his head against a rock and died. The tragic death of Koti-Chennaya spread a shadow of sorrow all over the place. And it is said those who believe in them will always be helped and protected. Even today local folks worship them in Garodis.


Rama in Thailand:

Many may be aware, centuries ago, the influence of Hinduism and Buddhism spread to Far East and South East Asian countries like Cambodia (earlier known as Kambhoj), Thailand, Indonesia, right up to Philippines. Did you know that in Bangkok, it has a Sri Ayodhya road and Rama-I road. There are more such interesting facts.

Bangkok itself was established as the capital of Thailand by King Rama –I, the founder of the Chakri dynasty. It is evident from the history of Thailand that many generations of Thai Kings have identified themselves with Rama, who was regarded as an ideal ruler. And therefore, successive kings of the dynasty, have continued to hold the title of Rama with their names. The present king, His Majesty Bhumi Pol Adulyadej, is called King Rama –IX.

Alongwith Buddhism, the Hindu epic of Ramayana (known as Ramakin in Thai version) has excerised powerful influence over the Thai people. There is another Ayodhaya situated about 90 km north of Bangkok. Now lying in ruins, this ancient city, known as Ayutthaya in Thai, was founded as the capital of Thailand in 1350 by King Rama Thibode.

Myntra      Tanishq
Picture Post:
Rameshwar Temple in TamilNadu, India

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