18th Century, India.
The night was all usual until the flood came rushing in. It came uninvited but alarmed everyone by its sudden quest to conquer the land. The flood appeared everywhere instantaneously like a wild fire burning through the forest.
It danced until it ruined the houses, plants and animals under it. The sound that filled the ears while it was dancing, vanished before it even stopped its play.
The villagers gathered what remained of them, searched for the belongings that lay scattered all over. The days were over here. There was a unanimous voice heard among the villagers over their stay near the ocean. They decided to move, not far but to a safe enough distance.
They started their exodus, led by no one but driven by fear.
Some of the elders argued against it but fear was just not an easy thing to conquer. The wise men of them knew, their fears were to stay with them for a while.
They passed village after village until they reached one which they felt was at safe enough distance. When they reached out for the village-head for help, he agreed. But his reluctance was clearly visible on his face. Seeing this, the villagers moved on. They passed few more villages. Each one of them offered to help but they couldn’t just settle in. They saw one or the other problem over there. Maybe the problem was in their hearts — The fear was still persistent in them.
After over thirty days of travel, they reached an area, near the banks of a River Godavari. They were initially reluctant about the area, for their fear of the water, was still fresh. But the stream did not seem dangerous. They knew, they couldn’t live without the aid of the water.
The village head, an old man called Ranga Swamy, with traces of black in his hair, welcomed them very warmly. The villagers were equally welcoming. They helped them settle, by providing them temporary residence, helped them with water and food while they learned to gather, hunt and prepare food for themselves. The migrants observed the village glowed with spirituality and happiness.
Six Months Later…
Mr Swamy could sense that the migrants were well settled in the area but still, there was some fear in them, there weren’t able to connect to the land as the native villagers did, they still couldn’t mingle well with the native villagers.
His experience with the people helped him understand the villagers’ problem. Fear. Fear is so powerful that, it stops every other thing that keeps trying to help you. The best way to conquer fear is to get friends with its enemies. Getting to know more people and making friends, definitely is in the list of Fear’s enemies. He knew what had to be done.
They need to know about each other as the first step if they had to live together. And how better to accomplish that other than to tell the migrants about the Gods the villagers believe in, as a start!
After a few days, a man, holding a drum against his bare body, with children tailing him as he moved through the village, announced, “Listen, Listen, Today evening, at the far east of the village, there will be a folklore. Great stories would be told. Be there. Embrace yourself.”
The news spread quickly. By evening, everyone in the village, including the migrants gathered at the said location. A stage had been laid, with only a little elevation, decorated with purple flowers and banyan leaves from the forest. As the sun began to set, the song began.
Today, in the midst of all these trees,
With Cool Breeze around us;
The story of Bravery, Bliss, Love and Sacrifice.
The story of A Mother and Daughter — Who found themselves a place in our hearts forever.
The Story of Sammakka and Sarakka.
This land, this forest that surrounds you is no ordinary forest. It is named after one of the sons of the great King Ikshvaku called Danda. This abode of every other creature on earth is called Dandakaranya.
This merciful land has so much to its history. Lord Rama himself walked on this land during his fourteen-year exile. This is the divine place where he killed Maricha. This is the place where he destroyed the strong and powerful infantry of Khara, Dushana and Trisira.
But beyond all the greatest events, there is one another that this land of Divinity was destined for. Listen, my dear audiences, here it goes –
In the 13th Century, when the world was mostly covered with forests and this land was ruled by Kakatiyas, Our goddess was born. The story of her birth was in itself a marvel. One day, the chief of this village walked into the forest to carry out his usual work. After a daylong tiring work, he sat down under a tree. When it was almost dawn, he could see a bright light, from between the woods. He followed the light and was startled by the scene. He saw a small child, in leaves. She was illuminated by some unknown source. To add more to the wonder, a seven-headed snake guarded her. He at once knew the girl child was none other than, the wife of Lord Shiva, The protector of this world, Goddess Parvathi herself. There were two baby tigers trying to play with the baby. The baby was laughing in delight. The chief was overwhelmed with joy.
He approached the baby with caution. The snake and the tigers did not seem concerned. He approached the baby and took her into his arms. The very moment the tigers and the seven headed snake ran into the woods and disappeared within moments.
This story has many marvels in it… It is the story of the Goddess herself. It is the story of our Mother.
The chief took the baby to the village. The village assumed a festive atmosphere from the moment the Mother Goddess entered the village. The chief raised her with much joy. He named her “Sammakka”. Sammakka played all around the village. Sammakka played in the River Godavari. Sammakka played in the lake which is the lifeline to this village — Sampenga Vagu. She was a joy to watch. She played on these streets. As she grew older, she went hunting along with the chief. In no time, she displayed exceptional skills. She proved to be a far better hunter than her father.
With mother Sammakka around them, the time flew quicker than it should for the villagers. One day, the chief decided that our mother was of age for marriage and started looking for a groom. He searched all the nearby villages for a suitable groom. He searched for days to find someone with qualities to match that of Sammakka, even though, in his heart he knew, no one can match the Mother Goddess.
After a tired search for the groom, he returned to the village. The chief’s wife suggested that he should look for a boy in their own village.
Following the suggestion from his wife, the chief looked for the groom in their own village. To his delight, he liked a young man, by the name Pagididda Raju. Mr Raju worked in the rank of Feudatory Tribal Chief of Kakatiya Kings, who ruled the Andhra Kingdom based at Warangal city.
When Sammakka heard about the groom, she promptly gave her nod.
The day of the marriage resembled heaven in the village. The village was decorated with different kinds of auspicious flowers from the forest. Different feasts were prepared. Everyone danced in joy.
Sammakka in her wedding dress resembled the Goddess Parvathi. She was a delight to watch. Everyone blessed the young couple with all their hearts. With so much of euphoria already around them, the villagers received yet another good news that day. The chief announced that from that day on Sammakka would be their Chief.
“Long Live Chief Sammakka” The sound filled the air for days to come. The villages resonated with celebrations for years to come, as one glorious event followed another.
Around two years later Sammakka gave birth to her first child, Sarakka. The villagers celebrated her as Goddess Lakshmi. Sarakka mostly reflected her mother in physical as well behavioral qualities. She admired the art of war. She trained herself in archery. Nobody in her village or the nearby villages could match her mastery in archery.
Sammakka gave birth to her second child, Nagulamma. She was as bright as her sister. Both the sisters played all around the village. Both skilled in Archery, there was no match for them.
The third child of Raju and Sammakka was a boy. They called him Jampanna. He was a very brave boy. He valued his self-respect a lot. He mostly resembled his father and followed him a lot. He looked after the administration of the village when he was of age. One fine day, Sarakka was made second-in-command in the administration of the tribe.
With the grace of Sammakka and Sarakka, years passed in Peace.
Then one-year tragedy struck!
Monsoon failed that year. River Godavari dried. The villagers lived on the water from the Sampenga Vagu Lake. With no source of income, the villagers failed to pay tribute to the king Pratapa Rudra. The king sent his messengers to collect the tribute at any cost.
The messengers arrived at the village and demanded the share of the king.
Raju and Sammakka tried to explain them of their situation. They made them various offers. The messengers were not ready to listen to any of those explanations as they were bound by the words of the king to collect the taxes at any cost.
After a few days of delibrations, the messengers tried to threaten Sammakka with war.
Furious with the behaviour of the messengers, both Sammakka and Sarakka rose from their seats and spoke, “If all that you want is war, you shall have it.”
Thus they declared war against the mighty Kakatiya Empire. A small tribe, Koyas under their chief’s Sammakka and Sarakka were thus destined for some pages in the history, with their act of bravery.
The Kakatiya army marched on the banks of River Godavari and began their war preparations.
On the other hand, Koyas never maintained any army or were trained in warfare. They had very little time for any kind of preparations. All they had was Sarakka, the skilled archer to lead them. Nagulamma and Jampanna to fight along with them and above all, Sammakka to guide them.
With their hearts filled with Sammakka and Sarakka, Koyas went to the war field.
They fought against the well trained and mighty Kakatiya army with all their might. The fight continued for days. The villagers could not last long against the modern arms. Sarakka was the best of their army. She never missed a bow. Everyone in the Kakatiya army feared to face her.
After about four days, Mr Raju and Nagulamma were killed on the banks of River Godavari. The Kakatiya army mercilessly butchered her. The disheartened villagers continued their fight with all their hopes vested on Sarakka and Sammakka.
On day five when the sun was almost about to set, the Kakatiya army surrounded Jampanna. He had nowhere to go. The Kakatiya army surrounding him and the lake Sampenga Vagu behind him. He chose the lake and jumped in it.
From that day on, my dear listeners, this lake Sampenga Vagu was named after this great warrior and hence called Jampanna Vagu.
When Sammakka heard this sad news, her heart broke. She herself came to the battlefield to avenge the death. She fought with much might and vengeance. Even the voice of her Sword swiping through the air terrified the Kakatiya army. She was fearless and all powerful.
With villagers falling all around, her heart tore apart. The Kakatiya army targeted Sarakka, as they knew her death would tear Sammakka apart. They succeeded in killing Sarakka on day seven with help of hidden archers.
The death of great warrior Sarakka tore not just Sammakka but the whole village. They felt they lost the “Lifeline” that was surrounding them all along.
Hearing about the death of Sarakka, Sammakka fell on the ground. She was saddened beyond recovery. She became furious. She cursed the Kakatiyas that, God will punish them for their kind-less heart and swindle, they will be wiped off the planet very soon! The words she used to curse the kakatiyas were the last words from her mouth.
Saddened mother left us, that very night. She went away deep into the forest, towards a mountain called Chilakula Gutta and disappeared. The villagers once realised that their mother was no longer among them, grieved her disappearance and searched for her in the forest. Deep in their hearts they always knew that, only the physical form of the mother left them, she as a spirt would always be with them.
All they could find was a Red Ocher Box and her Bangles at the same place, where she was first found. They were surprised to see pug marks of a huge fully grown tigress walking away from the spot. They knew, it was none other than their mother, Our Mother Sammakka.
The words of the mother came true very soon, the Kakatiyas perished in no time. In memory of Sammakka and Sarakka and the brave villagers, the koyas held festivals every year. She remains in our hearts forever.
This is the story of Bravery and Sacrifice.
This is the story of Sammakka and Sarakka,
This is the story of A mother and A Daughter.
My dear friends remember the sacrifice of Raju, Nagulamma and Jampanna in your hearts forever, fill your hearts with the bravery Sarakka manifested and fear nothing. Mother Sammakka is always with us, to guide us, to lead us. She is in this land. In this very land. And so are the values left by Sammakka, Sarakka and all our ancestors, who believed in her.
A huge round of applause followed as the folklore concluded. With so much of contentment on their faces, the villagers began retracing their paths way back home.
Ranga Swamy who could sense the change in atmosphere around him, found his heart in peace. A native villagers approached Ranga Swamy and said, “Mr Swamy, Why did you arrange for this folk song, all of a sudden?”
Ranga Swamy replied, “My pal, the plan was to tell the new migrants about our Gods and the land around us — the memories we associate with them!”
“Do you think, they will believe in our gods?” the man inquired.
“Do they need to?!” Ranga Swamy grinned, “It was only an attempt to show, what we believe in so that we can get to know each other and help them conquer their fears.”
“But, why tell the story of our Gods?”
“Who better represents us, other than our Gods and their stories?”
“Learning about what they believe in!”
This story is original published in koffeecuptales.blogspot.in and the copy rights are owned by the author.