The aim of this magazine is to connect the communities of Hindu Kush, Himalaya, Karakorum and Pamir by providing them a common accessible platform for production and dissemination of knowledge.
Youdhaini and the Supernatural Delirium: Series in the mythical creature of Gilgit-Baltistan.
Youdhaini and the Supernatural Delirium:
Series in the mythical creature of Gilgit-Baltistan.
By: Aziz Ali Dad
The domain of mystical moments provides peeps into the processes where divine delirium drives them into ecstatic states. It is such an ecstatic trance that enables one to dig deeper into the human soul by overcoming the hurdles posed by consciousness. Shamans are one of the psychological types who manifest the kind of mentality or worldview build upon the solid rocks of passions and ecstasy. Despite all the claims of conscious claims in waking moments about the mercurial states of passions, it is the passions that balances out the personality trapped in his/her own mind. Since the passions and their structure of experience do not vary much in human, they have kind of universal appeal across culture. Owing to this universality, Shamanism in certain cultural setting provided a bonding glue among people with diverse mindset. This is evident in the mythology of Gilgit-Baltistan. Here we will explore how the passion and music of Gilgit-Baltistan are closely related to its animistic worldview characterised by the deity called Youdhaini.
There is a certain tribe in Hunza that used to workshop the deity called Youdhaini. She is the goddess of war who inspires music and dance. These attributes were also associated with the tribe that worship her. That is why only, it was only persons of that tribe who were allowed to lead in the war for they are called ‘lalaey hath (people with hand soaked in blood).’ Mythical deities like Youdhani, Murkum, Chinali, Malaleeli, — are fond of music. If a group of people want to invite them amidst them or appease them, they play a special music. The mythical being are immune to any temptation except music. According to the shamanic rules, music melts the heart of supernatural beings. Also, music connects the supernatural world above with the mundane human world. It is through the pours of flute the mythical creatures emerge onto the mundane world.
In olden days, Youdhaini used to play a crucial role in important matters faced by the people and the state. Owing to the role of Youdhaini in society and the state, various cultural rituals are formed, and music created around her. There is this story in the village of Hini in Hunza. The very name of village Hini drives from a Shina word ‘hin’ means snow. Since the snowy mountains are the abode of fairies and the village Hini stands right before the might mountain Dumaani– the abode of supernatural beings. It receives snow in abdundance. There used to be two watch towers in the Hini fort. Every night two watchman for each tower were assigned the task to maintain the night vigil. However, every morning only one man survives. It is said that one sentinel was devoured by a callous deity called Youdhaini as her food. This continued for some time. When it became a serious issue, the village head sought an advice of the king of Hunza. As a response the king assigned Son Gukur/Khameeto for purge the village of the evil that terrorised the village folk. Being a great shaman, Khameeto summoned his fairies who helped him in tracking Youdhaini grandmother (Dadi) and her 12 daughters in the inner recesses of tower. Through incantation, Khameeto took them out of the fort and imprisoned them on the top of mound in village with iron nails. This mound in Hini is still called Dadeeyaey lat (Mound of grandmother).
Though shaman Khameeto imprisoned the deity and her daughter in a power incantation, he clearly saw the immense power and ferocity in them. That ferocity had the power to break the magic spell that nailed them to that space. So he started conversing them in the language of fairies. Khameeto being a great sear proposed them to divert that enormous energy of power and ferocity toward humans to empower them. This would enable the denizens of super natural and natural realm in a peaceful harmony without spoiling both domains. He ensure them of food on regular basis. Youdhaini asked Khameeto to enjoin the people to respect their bounderies. As a reward for this cooperation, they will help people with their supernatural powers. Khameeto agreed and ordered people to present the deity Youdhaini and her daughters with 12 goats every year as sacrifice.
The oral histories narrate after that every year, the villagers used to gather at the top of grandmother’s mound and slaughtered goats and throw the head down the cliff on the tune of music. Upon hearing music Youdhaini descends to ground with her 12 daughters and use to dance the whole night. The power of their dance was such that the ground to tremble under the heavy pounding of their feet. Since then, Youdhaini became deity of certain tribe called Taratay. They used to worship her. This worship is called Saraish. The music for the grandmother was called Youdhaini. Under the hype of music, frenzy of dance and ecstasy of wine, people made noises and voices. These voices are called Asush. They are the ones raised normally during the wars raids and marauds. That was why that particular tribe was assigned the task to lead the war parties.
Since Youhaini has become Rachali (protectress) of the warring tribe, it was impossible to confront a person from this tribe for it is prevalent notion among people that the worshipers of Youdhaini have blood in their hand because of overindulgence in the wars. From Youdhaini many local rituals and cultural practices emerged. In shamanic mythology of Gilgit-Baltistan, some animals have sacred position in the hierarchy of beings. For example, in Bon Chos religion in Baltistan and local shamanism in Gilgit snow leopard is the dog of supernatural beings, ibex is their goat, Marco polo sheep is ox, yak cow and juniper is their domesticated tree. Sometimes Youdhaini appears in the battle ridding snow leopard and lead the legion to wipe out the enemy. A typical Youdhaini song goes like this:
My leopard son,
The chasm between two cliffs,
Is impossible for human to cross,
But with the leopard soul,
It’s just a baby leap for you,
The ecstasy that we infused in you,
Helps you to transcend your limitation,
To drink from the heavenly wine,
That inspires your proctress mothers,
And deities to fill the meadow
With myriad hues and harmonies,
That music of harmony,
Rejuvenates your soul,
That is deaden by,
The mundane human affairs,
So come, sing and dance,
In a shamanic prance,
To have a heavenly glance,
In our divine trance.
Because of this association, certain war maneuvers are derived from snow leopard. Many of the dance steps are inspired by the agility of snow leopard. The sudden thrust towards the musicians and then turning around are reminiscent of the movements of snow leopard while hunting its prey. A follower of Youdhaini feels the power and agility of snow leopard in him or her. It is when the human and animal merges into one cosmic scheme through supernatural delirium signified by the shamanistic worldview. It is a local practice of avoiding to cross the road where the worshiper groom of Youdhaini is travelling. When there is a heavy snowfall during a marriage, it is taken as a good omen for it is a sign that the groom has a mighty protectress like Youdhaini. In the culture of Nagar and Hunza, people still practice a sacrificial ritual when marrying with a person from outside Hunza or Nagar or vice versa. Even now people slaughter an animal before a place at the start of Chalt valley It is said that Youdhaini resides in that vale. People seek her protection while journeying into the land beyond their native land.
The oral records also point towards the prophetic element in Youdhaini. She appears in the dream of a person who lead the warriors into the battle. In dream she installs the maneuvers of war into the soul of warrior. Next morning the person remembers that vivid dream and plans accordingly. In first half of the nineteenth century, Hunza lost Chalt valley to Nagar. According to local narrative of history, Hunza lost the war to Nagar because the person who lead the war was not a worshiper of Youdhaini. Despite warning from the warrior tribe of Youdhaini, he ventured into Chalt. It all happens because he lacks the favour of mother Youdhaini. A person without a proctress deity is called “rachi nosho (without protectress)” in Shina and “rachi apim sis (a person without protective deity)”. According to local history, the person he caused the death of 38 warriors of Hunza in Chalt was a person without the protective deity. Hence, he brought death and loss to Hunza. It is a sign of Youdhaini deity getting angry because she was ignored where she was needed most. So, for every step a person needs relevant deity to support him or her. Human is incomplete without deities and fairies. Shamanic cosmology fuses human with nature and thus forms a cosmic whole.