Forum Posts

Mrinalini Singha
Jan 25, 2022
In Folktales
Any teller of this tale would mention the old flesh loving Kana Dev, the unfortunate woman who's fifth daughter was also selected for the sacrifice, of the benevolent Khachli Nag spirit of the forests who helped her by causing a flash flood to destroy the Kana Dev and his temple. From here the teller would go on to tell you about how Khachli Nag then went on to help the godless villagers of Kotgarh to retrieve another deota to protect the land. This would be Chaturmukh, one of the three brother devs of Kharan. From here the tale would diverge depending on personal prejudices- whether he was artfully brought, or fooled to come along, whether there were honey bees involved, or weightlessness, or a false request for marriage. A version of the myth can be read here: and an excerpt from the Indian Antiquary "Legends of the Godlings of Shimla Hills" is attached at the bottom. How can we go a step further and analyse this myth? I will attempt to do so (1) Geographically, (2) Via Eco-feminism, (3) Pyschologically Geographically: Myths and legends linked to real locations help strengthen the artifice of storytelling and association of a narrative. This map charts out: The village of Kotgarh where Kana Dev used to rule The Tani Jubbar Lake where the woman went and prayed to Khachli Naag Kharan where the devta brothers came from And Tikkar where the Dudhbali Mela takes place and from where the Devta was brought from. Knowing this one can better visualise how the woman must have crossed the forests, how far the Kotgarhus had to run away with the devta. Knowing this one can better play out these events for the screen. In interviews, I’ve heard the Kharan people’s version of the myth to still be bitter. In their version, the people of Kotgarh deceived Chatturmukh into a marriage and then stole him. While in Kotgarh’s version it was the benevolent Naag Devta who helped them gallantly take him away. And yet they all still gather together, all three brother devtas, at the Dudhari mela, reenacting this incident in a way. Interestingly, the period mentioned in Chatturmukh’s myth, 4000 years ago, also coincides with the coming of the Aryans. It may be speculated that Kana Dev represented an older indigenous tribe that inhabited the region. via Ecofeminism Through an ecofeminist perspective this myth strengthens the relationship between women and nature, as represented by the mother and Khachli Naag. Naags, or serpent deities, are often seen as guardians of women. The folklore also shows the upheaval of a malevolent culture repressive of women being overturned by the feminine and natural forces. Psychologically If we look at the myth through psychological archetypes, the different actors represent the internal psyche of a single person. In this case, in the tradition of Dr Estés, the mother character represents the uninitiated wild woman, within all of us. The myth is an initiation myth as well as a myth of healing. The girl represents her soul child. For a person, this may be their creative life or expression which has been ‘killed’ four times already. The woman has been unable to unlock her full potential because of the malevolent ego of Kana Dev that has taken over. “In Jungian Psychology, the ego is often described as a small island of consciousness that floats in a sea of unconsciousness. However, in folklore the ego is often portrayed as a creature of appetite.” Dr. Estés Kana Dev is not only this creature of appetite, but he is also ‘Kana’, half blind. This demonic fog dulls the uninitiated woman’s intuition and sheds her soul skin, that which protects her from the harshness of the world. “We learn the world, but lose our skins. We find that without our skins we slowly begin to dry away. Because most women were raised to bear these things stoically, as their mothers did before them, no one notices there is a dying going on until one day…” Dr. Estés Until one day the woman finds the courage within her to make her journey through the unknown forest to the protector of women, the wise one- Khachli Naag Devta. Just when the woman was beginning to dry out without her skin, Khachli Naag helps her reach within the recesses of her unconscious mind, as represented by the Naags lake and initiates her into the lineage of the wild woman. Bestowed with his serpentine knowledge she now knows that the shedding of her skin is not the end. It is this molting and renewal of oneself that reverberates into the storm that does away with suppression of Kana Dev and restores a new world order, that of the benevolent Chatturmukh Devta.
Mapping the Myth: The Origin Myth of Chatturmukh (Or the Demise of Kana Deo)  content media
Mrinalini Singha
Jan 18, 2022
In Resources
A rich analysis of the language, social culture, music and dance of Kotgarh Ilaqa in Shimla District, Himachal Pradesh. Of note is this paper's meticulous phonology (or sound system) of Kotgarhi Pahari & a transcription scheme for Hindi & Sanskrit. This paper has been generously shared with us to put in the public domain by its author Vijay Stokes.
Mrinalini Singha

Mrinalini Singha

More actions