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Macwatters, M.R. (1921). A Birth of the Hero Myth from Kashmir. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 2:416-419.

(1921). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 2:416-419

A Birth of the Hero Myth from Kashmir

M. R.C. Macwatters

The Valley of Kashmir is a wide alluvial plain which to this day is liable to disastrous floods because at its outlet the main river escapes through a narrow gorge which obstructs the escape of any considerable accumulation of water. In fact the whole valley is almost as dependent as Holland on its drainage and other engineering works.

The first serious attempt to protect it by dams and drainage operations was made by Suyya in the ninth century and an account of his exploits is given by a historian named Kalhanawho wrote three centuries later. Although much of his story appears to be historical, the account of Suyya's origin is a typical birth-myth, which utilizes a part of his engineering exploits for its symbolic expression. Kalhana recounts how such protective works as already existed had been neglected by a series of kings until the reign of Avantivarnam and how famine had come upon the land in consequence. He then proceeds as follows:

Chapter V, Paragraph 72. Then through the merits of Avantivarnam there descended to earth the Lord of Food himself, the illustrious Suyya to give fresh life to the people.

73. The origin of the wise man was not known, and his deeds which made the world wonder proved that though [he appeared] in the fourth period (Yuga) he was not born from a [woman's] womb.

74. Once a Candala woman, Suyya by name, found when sweeping up a dust heap on the road a fresh earthen vessel fitted with a cover.

75. Raising the cover she saw lying in it a baby, which had eyes like two lotus leaves and was sucking his fingers.

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