Sunday, June 24, 2012

Mad sons of Freud on Er. Suyya

#fail
The kind of hacks Freud spawned. Yet, Freud's impact on people and their way of interpreting stories, written and oral, can't be ignored. 

Here is 'A Birth of the Hero Myth from Kashmir' by Captian M. R.C. Macwatters (based at Lucknow) in International Journal of Psycho-Analysis. Volume II, Sept-Dec 1921. [via archive.org]:


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 Kalhana who 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 Avantivamam and how famine had come upon the land in consequence. He then proceeds as follows: 
Chapter V, Paragraph 72. Then through the merits of Avantivamam 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 deeds which made the world wonder proved that though [he appeared] in the fourth period (Yuga) he was not bom 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. 
76. 'Some unfortunate woman must have exposed this lovely boy' Thus she thought in her mind, and then from tenderness her breasts gave milk. 
77. Without defiling the child with her touch she arranged for his keep in the house of a Sudra-nurse and brought him up. 
78. Taking the name of Suyya he grew into an intelligent [youth] and having learned his letters became a teacher of small boys in the house of some householder. 
79. As he endeared himself to the virttious by observances in regard to fasts, bathing and the like, and showed a brilliant intellect, men of sense kept around him in assemblies. 
80. When these were complaining in their conversation of the flood calamity he said 'I have got the knowledge [for preventing it] but what can I do without means?' 
81. When the King heard through spies that he was saying these words persistently, as if he were deranged In his mind, he was surprised. 
82. The King had him brought up and questioned him about this saying. He calmly replied also in the royal presence 'I have got the knowledge.' 
83. Thereupon the Lord of the Earth, though his courtiers declared him (Suyya) crazy, was anxious to test that knowledge and placed his own treasures at his disposal. 
84. He took many pots full of money (dinnara) from the treasury and embarking on a boat proceeded in haste to Madavarajya. 
85. After dropping there a pot full of money at a village called Nandaka which was submerged in the flood he hurriedly turned back. 
86. Though the councillors said 'that Suyya is surely only a madman' the King when he heard this account became interested in watching the end of these proceedings. 
87. On reaching in Kramajya the locality called Yaksadara he threw with both hands money (dinnara) into the water. 
88. 89. There where the rocks which had rolled down from the mountains lining both river banks had compressed the Vitasta and made its waters turn backwards the famine stricken villagers then searched for the money, dragged out the rocks from the river, and thus cleared the [bed of the] Vitasta. 
90. After he had in this manner artfully drained off that water for two or three days, he had the Vitasta dammed up in one place by workmen. 
91. The whole river which Nila produced was blocked up by Suyya for seven days by the construction of a stone dam — a wonderful work. 
92. After having the river bed cleared at the bottom and stone walls constructed to protect it against rocks which might roll down he removed the dam. 
93. Then the stream flowing to the ocean set out on its course in haste as if eagerly longing for the sea after its detention. 
94. When the water left it the land was covered with mud and with wriggling fishes and thus resembled the [night] sky which when free from clouds displays black darkness and the stars. 
96. The river with its numerous great channels branching off from the original channel appeared like a black female serpent which has numerous hoods resting on one body. 
Following the example of Otto Rank in 'The Myth of the Birth of the Hero' those points which are common to many such myths are printed in italics. Their analysis has been fully worked out by him and need not be dealt with here, but several features of the present story are worthy of mention. 
We may infer that the hero's real father is the King. It is true that the phrase which attributes his origin to the merits of the King is a common expression in the flattery of oriental courtiers who attribute all fortunate events to the auspiciousness of their ruler, but we may interpret it as an implication of parenthood also, especially as the scene in which the King receives and welcomes him is very reminiscent of the scenes of reconciliation in other hero-myths. The hostility between father and son is not obvious but is perhaps hinted at in the neglect, not of the King but of his predecessors, and in the activity of his spies. The hostility of the courtiers must surely stand for the hostility between the hero and his brothers. Several points in the story show reduplication, for example he is found in a pot and embarks in a boat upon the water, these symbolising the same idea, and the first foster mother, like Pharoah's daughter, hands him over to a second. 
We see the expression of a number of childhood fantasies in the tale. The hero boasts insistently 'I have the knowledge' and that even in the presence of the King (father). Just so would the child like to be able to boast of sex-knowledge even to his father but cannot, and even when he has the knowledge he lacks 'the means'. Whereas in some fantasies it is the father who denies knowledge and power to the son, here the father encourages the one and provides the other (wish-fulfillment). Sir Aurel Stein's notes on the word 'dinnara' here used for money are interesting. A dinnara is a unit of value so small that it was more likely a cowrie than a metal coin (and lends itself therefore to identification with seed) while the ideas of money and grain are largely interchangeable since payments were more often made in grain than in coin even up to recent times in Kashmir. 
The 'infantile theory' of generation from faeces comes to expression through the dust heap where he is found and through the mud which covered the land and swarmed with wriggling fishes. 
We find also an expression of the common fantasy of being one's own father. The Hero engages in certain interesting operations at the outlet of the valley where he scatters money (or seed), as a result of which there is an accumulation of the waters for seven days, or if we allow ourselves to add the two or three days mentioned in verse 90, a total period of 9 or 10 days corresponding to the 9 months or 10 moons of pregnancy, and he achieves this result by the erection of a dam whose solidity the' story emphasises, 'a wonderful work' indeed! In the opening sentence we are told that he 'came to give life' which he does by fertilising Kashmir, his mother-land. 

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