One of the poems in our textbooks that left a lasting impression on our young minds was a poem called Kolooru Kodagoosu ( ಕೋಳೂರು ಕೊಡಗೂಸು ) written by some unknown poet. The poem is based on the story of a young girl (Kodagoosu) who is the daughter of a priest in a place called Kolooru.
The priest had a Shiv Mandir (temple of Kallinatha) adjoining his house. He had been performing the pooja at the temple daily by offering milk (neivedya) to the Lingam. On one particular occasion, the priest had to depart from the place along with his wife to conduct some pooja in a neighbouring village. He calls his young daughter and tells her affectionately that she should take care of the temple in his absence. He tells her that she should not leave the house under any circumstances and even avoid playing with her friends. He tells her specifically that she should not miss offering milk to the deity as per the ritual under any circumstances. As an incentive, he promises to bring her all types of jewels including ear ring, nose ring, neck chain, etc. He even offers to bring her a spring toy with its dress.
The next morning Kodagoosu gets up early. She takes her bath and dresses herself. She milks the cow and boils it well and places a fixed measure of it in a small vessel (battalu). She covers it with her sari and walks into the temple. She keeps the vessel in front of the Shiv Lingam and prays him to drink it in comfort. She moves away so that the God Kallinatha could drink it in privacy.
The girl (Kodagoosu) gets back after some time to see whether the God has completed drinking the milk. To her surprise the vessel remains full with milk. She realizes that the God has not tasted even a drop of the milk offered by her so affectionately. She is totally depressed and asks the God to tell her the reasons for his refusal to drink. She asks him whether the milk is not sufficiently warm, not perfumed well, too hot or not in good condition. She wants to know whether it is not the right time, or the God is bored (uninterested) and is it because the milk is offered by a small girl like her.
She also asks him whether the vessel is not properly cleaned, milk is skimmed or diluted with water or burnt due to overheating and also whether he is unhappy because ghee has not been added. She wants to know whether the God is facing indigestion because of the food served previously. She also asks him whether she served him too late.
Impressed by the innocence, sincerity and the devotion displayed by the young girl, the God Shiva appears before the girl. He accepts the milk and drinks it to the joy of Kodagoosu. From then on the girl repeats the serving of warm milk to the God daily. The God also appears In front of her and drinks the milk from the vessel in full.
A few days later the priest comes back to the village along with his wife. He is very eager to know whether his young daughter has maintained the routine of offering milk to Lord Shiva daily. The girl tells him happily that she offered the milk to the God daily as advised by him. She also tells him that Lord Shiva appeared personally in front of her and drank the milk offered by her!
The priest is surprised to hear from his daughter that Lord Shiva appeared personally in front of her and drank the milk from the vessel. He immediately suspects that the girl had failed to offer the milk to the God and was covering it up by telling a lie. He cannot bear the fact that he had failed to maintain the routine of offering milk to the God daily. He starts scolding the girl.
But the girl is unperturbed and she keeps telling him that she was only telling the truth. Her father then decides to test the veracity of her statement. The next day he asks the girl to offer the milk to the God and accompanies her to the temple. The girl is pleased to carry the milk as usual to offer to the God and see him drinking it personally. She is excited to show her father the physical presence of Lord Shiva. As usual she keeps the milk in the vessel in front of the God and requests him to accept.
The priest was watching her by standing behind the door. He was sure that his daughter was trying to fool him with some drama. To the surprise of the girl, the God does not appear in front of her as he used to do all these days. The vessel remains untouched. A disappointed Kodagoosu then goes on requesting the God to drink the milk as had been the routine so far. She shudders to think that her father would look at her as a liar.
The priest is totally upset with his young daughter now. He thinks that she not only did not follow the routine of offering the milk to the God, but she was also telling a lie that the God drank the milk from the vessel. He goes wild with rage. He wants to punish his daughter and tries to catch her. But she slips away from him and runs around the temple. The priest runs behind her. The girl then thinks that only God could save her as it was he who made her look like a liar in front of her father. She jumps near the Lingam and hold the same with both her hands. She repeatedly begs the God to save her from her violent father.
The priest is in her hot pursuit and he doesn’t stop even when the girl is holding on to the Lingam. But Lo! As he approaches the Lingam, he finds the Lord Shiva appearing from the Lingam and pulling the girl away. To his dismay, the girl starts disappearing into the Lingam dragged away by the God himself! The priest could not believe his eyes. He realizes that his young daughter had told him the truth. But it was too late then. He sees his beloved daughter disappearing inside the Lingam slowly!
He recovers himself and tries to hold on to her. He somehow manages to catch her hair (plait) in the last minute. But that was it. He was left holding on to his beloved daughter’s hair in his hands! Her entire body had disappeared inside the Lingam leaving behind her hairs! The Lord Shiva had taken away his beloved, innocent, devoted and truthful daughter to his abode Kailasa.
The news spreads fast in the village and the nearby places. People start arriving at Kolooru to see the miracle of the hairs of Kodagoosu protruding out of the Lingam. Quite interestingly the hairs keep growing as if the girl is very much alive in the world! The locals start an annual Jathraa on the memorable day to celebrate the Kodagoosu’s devotion to the Lord Shiva. The legend of Kolooru Kodagoosu continues till today.
For the purpose of writing the series on our Textbooks of yesteryears, I went on looking back to my textbooks from 4th Standard to 8th Standard. According to me, this poem Kolooru Kodagoosu ranks first from the point of view of storytelling and the poetic skills of the writer. The character of the little girl has been sketched in such a manner that she remains in our permanent memory. Unfortunately for me, I could only recollect a part of the poem in the beginning and that became a handicap for me in describing the story as per the original. My article is subject to that limitation. I also faced some problems in writing the script in Kannada due to the limitations in the Google software. I am furnishing below the part of the poem I could recollect for the benefit of my Kannada readers:
ಒಂದು ದಿವಸಂ ದೇವ ಕಾರ್ಯಕ್ಕೆಂದು ನೆರೆ ಊರಿಂಗೆ ಪೋಗುತೆ
ತಂದೆ ತನ್ನಯ ಕಿರಿಯ ಮಗಳಂ ಕರೆದು ಮೈದ ಡವಿ
ಮಂದಿರದ ಕಾಪಿರಿಸಿ ಮತ್ತಿ ಇಂತೆಂದ ನೆಲ್ಲಿಗು ಮಿಸುಕದಿರು
ಮನೆಯಿಂದಗಲದಿರು ತರುವಲಿಗೊಳನಾಡ ದಿರು ತಾಯೆ
ನಿರು ತವಾದೆಮ್ಮ ವೃತ ವನಂತರಿಸ ದೊಬ್ಬಳೆ
ಹಾಲನಗಜಾವರನ ನಿಲಯಕ್ಕೈದು ಶಂಭುವಿ ಗುಣಬಡಿಸು ಕಂದಾ
ಪರಿವಿಡಿಯ ದಿನವೇಳೆ ತಪ್ಪಿಸದಿರು ಮರೆಯದಿರು ನೇನಗಲದಿರು
ತರಳೆ ನಿನ್ನಮ್ ನಂಬಿ ಪೋದೆಪೆವಕ್ಕ ಚನ್ನಕ್ಕ
ಓಲೆ ಚೌಕುಳಿ ಕಡಕು ಮೂಗುತಿ ಕಾಲ ಕಡಗಂ
ಬಣ್ಣ ಸರವುಂ ತೋಳಬಂದಿ ಎನಿಪ್ಪ ಚಲುವಿನ ಬಾಲದುಡುಗೆಗಳ
ಬಾಲೆಯರು ಹಿಡಿದಾಡು ಒಳ್ಳೆಯ ಕೀಲುಗೊಂಬೆ ಯನದರುಡುಗೆಯಂ
ಬಾಲೆ ತಂದೆಪೆವೆನುತ ಮನೆಯಿಂದೊಪ್ಪಯಿಸಿ ಪೋಗೆ
ಇಂತುವರ ಕೊಡಗೂಸುವಾಗಲೇ ದಂತದಾವನ ಗೈದು
ಮಿಂದೊಲವಾನ್ತು ದನಿಬವನುಟ್ಟು ಬಸಿತವನಿಟ್ಟು ಬಾಳದಲಿ
ಕಾಂತೆ ಮಡಗಿದ ಜನ್ನಿಗೆಯ ಪಾಲಂ ತೆಗೆದು
ಚೆನ್ನಾಗಿ ಕಾಸಿದ ನಂತರದೊಳಾ ತರುಣಿ ಒಬ್ಬಳವಳೆದು ಬಟ್ಟಲಲಿ
ಪಿಡಿದುಕೊಂಡು ಸೆರೆಗಿನಿಂದಿಮ್ಮಡಿಸಿ ಮುಚ್ಚಿ ಕಡಂಗಿ ಬೋರನೆ
ನಡೆದು ಹೊಕ್ಕಾ ದೇಗುಲದಿರ್ಪಭವನಂ ಕಂಡು
ಪೋದಮಡುತ್ತಂ ಬಟ್ಟ ಲಂ ಮುಂಗದೆಯೋಲಿಟ್ ಆರೊಗಿಸೈ
ಎನ್ನೊಡೆ ಯನೆ ಗುರು ಕಲ್ಲಿನಾಥ ಎಂದು ಭಿನ್ನವಿಸಿ
ಒಂದಿನಿತು ಹಿಮ್ಮೆಟ್ಟಿ ಮರೆಯಲಿ ನಿಂದು ಮತ್ಥೈತಂದು ನೋಡಲು
ಮುಂದೆ ಬಟ್ಟಲು ತರುಣಿ ತಾ ಮುಂನಿರಿಸಿದಂತಿರಲು
ಕುಂದಿ ಮನದಲಿ ತಾಪದಲಿ ತನು ಕುಂದಿ ಎಲೆ
ನಾ ತಂದ ಪಾಲಂ ತಂದೆ ನೀನಾರೋಗಿಸದ ಕಾರಣವದೇನಯ್ಯ
ಪಾಲು ಕಾಯದೊ ಪರಿಮಳಿಸದೋ ಪಾಲು ಕಡು ಬಿಸಿಯಾದುದೋ
ಚಿಲು ಪಾಲಿದೆಲ್ಲವು ಒದೆದುವೋ ಆರೋಗಿಸುವ ಬುದ್ಧಿ
ವೇಳೆಯಾಗದೋ ನಿನ್ನ ಮೀಸಲು ಪಾಲು ಬೇಸರವಾಯಿತೋ
ನಾಂ ಬಾಲೆಯೆಂದೊಲ್ಲೆಯೋ ತರಲ್ಕಾರಕ್ಕೆ ನೋಡಿದರೋ
ಬಟ್ಟಲನು ನಾ ಬೆಳೆಗೆನೋ ಮನವಿತ್ತೆನೋ
ಪಾಲಿಂಗೆ ಪಾಲ್ಕೆನೆಗಟ್ತದೋ ನೀರ್ಬೇರೆಸಿದವೋ
ಆರೋಗಿಸುವ ಬುದ್ದಿ ಪು ಟ್ಟ ದೋ ಸೀಯಿತ್ತ್ಹೋ
ತುಪ್ಪವ ನಟ್ತೆನೆಂದು ಕುದಿಯಲರಿಯೊ ಹೊಟ್ಟೆಗೈದುದು
ಮಧುರವಿಲ್ಲವೋ ಹೊತ್ತು ಪೊಯಿತ್ತ್ಹೋ
ವೀರಭದ್ರನ ಹಲಗೆ ಮೆರೆವುದು ವೀರ ಭಕ್ತರ ತಿಂತಿನಿಯೋಲ್
ಅತಿ ವೀರಮಂ ತೊರಿದೆನೆಪೆಲಾರೊಗಿಸೈ ಪಾಲ
ಕ್ಷೀರದಲಿ ನಾ ಕವಲನಾದೊದೆ ತಾರೆನೇ ಬೇಕೆನ್ದೊಡಂ
ಶಿಶುಹಾರಿಯಿವಲೆಂದೆನ್ನದಿರು ನಾ ಉಸಿರು ಮೊಂದಾಗಿ
-----To be Continued--------
A V Krishnamurthy
2nd July 2013