Connections between Krishna and the Gond Prophet Lingo

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Gonda & Baiga Women Tattoo - Vaishnav Tilak

There are many events in the Legend of Lingo, as documented by R.V.Russell and Captain James Forsyth, which echo the childhood exploits of Lord Krishna, when he was living in Vrindavan with the cowherds of Nanda’s farm.

 

The Gond tribes of Central India are the largest ethnic tribe of India. They regard Lingo as their legendary hero and prophet, who had organized them into clans, gave them their gods, rituals, ceremonies, dances, and music, and taught them farming, hunting, and fire making.

Both Lingo and Krishna were gods of music and dance, irresistible to women. In their childhood they liked to play on the swing, had their hair tied up in a top-knot, and were associated with a yellow colored flower. They had accomplished many heroic tasks - killing an enormous serpent, befriending and riding a giant bird, rescuing imprisoned friends from a mountain cave where they had been locked up – which are similar in their details.

These, and other mythological and cultural clues suggest that Krishna and Lingo may be the same personality, and the Legend of Lingo could be another retelling of Krishna’s extraordinary childhood.

As per the Harivamsa, Nanda and his clan belonged to the Abhira (Ahir) tribe of cattle-husbanding nomads who occupied the region between Mathura and Dwaraka in Northwestern India. The historical records affirm that the Ahirs had migrated to Central India, where they established kingdoms and became assimilated into the Gond tribes.

The Ahirs also migrated to Southern India, where they were known as the Ayar cowherd community, Ay-Velirs, or simply Velirs, who ruled in different parts of the ancient Tamil country, and regarded Krishna as their family deity. The Tamil Sangam tradition, as well as multiple copper-plate charters and inscriptions of the Tamil kings, testify that the Ay-Velirs were descendants of the Yadava dynasty of Krishna and had migrated southwards from Dwaraka. 

Thus, the nomadic Abhira cowherd community, known variously as the Ahirs and the Ayars, played an important role in taking Krishna lore to different corners of India, including the hilly and forested tribal belts.

 

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