Part II The Birth, Life and Death of Lingo (3)

In the midst of the flower fragrance was Lingo sleeping, while half of the night was passed. In his dream he saw a field eaten by deer, and all the rice becoming spoilt. Then Lingo departed, and took his road to Kachikopa Lahugad. Hence he departed, and went to the brothers and said, “O brothers ! Out of your house come ye; hear one word: the deer have eaten our field of rice.” The four brothers said, “We need rice to offer our first-fruits to the gods.” Then Lingo said, “Hear, O brethren! Our rice has been eaten up; it has spoilt; we have no first-fruits.” Lingo said, “We will offer the liver of these deer as first-fruits; then I will remain as a devotee, otherwise my power will vanish. I will fill my stomach by the smelling of flowers; but how will the Gonds fill their bellies, there is nothing for their eating — the rice has been spoilt by the deer.” So said Lingo.

The four brothers said, “We will take in our arms bow and arrow.” With anger against the deer they came to the field, and entered in the midst of it. When they came in the centre they saw only black soil. Only rice stubble appeared, and Lingo saw nothing. Then his anger arose from the heel to the head, and he bit his finger on the spot; his eyes became red. “Where are the deer?” said he, “ Look for them.” They looked, but did not see anywhere the footprints of deer. Near a tree they beheld some foot-marks: they looked at it. As they went they beheld a jungle trodden down; then some traces appeared. Onward they went, but did not see the deer, they beheld a Peepul tree. Lingo said, “I will climb the tree, you stand below.” From the top he looked, and the deer were visible. He said, “The deer are in sight, some are seated, some are sleeping, some are leaping about. You four brothers separate yourselves on four sides with your arrows, and allow not one of the deer to escape. I will shoot them from the tree, and you shoot from below.” Having heard this, the four brothers went and ambushed on four sides.

They shot their arrows from four corners, while Lingo shot from the tree. The uncle, the buck, and one deer alone survived; they had aimed at them also, but the arrow fell from Lingo’s hand. He said to himself, “ When the arrow fell out of my hand, that must have been a good omen, “That uncle is a devout follower of the servant of god, he has not eaten anything.” But the two survivors began to run; then these four brothers went after them in pursuit, saying, “We will catch them here or there.” But the two could not be found; then the brothers turned and looked around. The eldest brother said, “Hear, O brethren! These two have escaped, and Lingo has remained behind at a distance from us. Let us return,” said the eldest brother. When they returned, Lingo asked them, “Where have you been?” They said, “The two survivors have fled and cannot be found, so we have returned to you.”

Then Lingo tried to teach the primitive Gonds how to obtain fire by means of flint. His lesson was not very successful, and as his four disciples had never seen fire, he told them that living just three koss (six miles) is a giant named Rikad Gawadi, in whose field they will see fire, that great gift of the gods to man. It has been suggested by Sir R. Temple in his editorial notes that the name Gawadi may be a corruption of Gawali or Gaoli, a cowherd. The Gaolis, a race either of Hindus or aborigines, were a powerful race at one time in Gondwana, and established a dynasty in the modem Chhindwara district. It is possible that the Gonds learnt something of their civilisation from them, and in some cases — as is suggested by this Epic — found wives among their daughters. Lingo suggests that the four Gonds should go and see fire for themselves. The youngest goes and narrowly escapes a most disagreeable fate. He returns to his brethren, and to Lingo, and tells them what has happened. Lingo himself then determines to go.

Note: Excerpt from ‘Story of Gondwana’ by the Right Reverand Eyre Chatterton (Bishop of Nagpur).

Image Attribution: The image above, sourced from Wikimedia Commons, is based on a photograph of Paniyans making fire, and is taken from Edgar Thurston’s ‘Castes and Tribes of Southern India’, Vol 6 (1909). The Paniyans, like the Gonds, are a Dravidian tribe. They are found in the Wayanad, Kozhikode, Kannur and Malappuram districts of Kerala. Unlike the Gonds, they used to eke out a living as hunter-gatherers.