Sunday, November 12, 2006

Legend or fact?

At a temple in Walkeshwar, this illustration caught my eye. Muscled and handsome, this is Parashurama, the sixth incarnation of Vishnu.

The western coast of India - a long strip starting from Nasik in Maharashtra, down to Kanyakumari in the south - is called Parashuram-Shetra (Land of Parashurama).

The story in the Puranas is that Parashurama flung his axe into the sea asking for land. The sea receded upto where the axe was flung, creating Parashuram-Shetra.

I looked up the history of Maharashtra, starting from the Stone Age. It turns out that in the Upper Paleolithic age (about 25,000 years ago), the climate started becoming arid, and the rivers shallow.

The sea around the Konkan region began to recede and a large land mass did emerge on the Western Coast.

During that period, the people who lived in Maharashtra were hunter-gatherers, using Stone Tools (blades and flints made of silicaceous stones). There is evidence that they had discovered fishing as well.

So - maybe these were the people that saw the sea recede, and wove it first into a tale? Is that why Parashurama has an axe and a bow, because he represents the hunter-gatherers?
If only I could go back in time and find out!

1 comment:

Michael Andre said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.