Origins of Caste System in Ancient India

Palaniappa Palaniappa at AOL.COM
Fri Mar 20 16:29:58 UTC 1998

In a message dated 98-03-20 07:24:38 EST, sudheerbirodkar at YAHOO.COM writes:

 You can access the site at:


 I look forward to receiving feedback from Sociologists and Indologists. >>

The following story is found in the web site.

"Cannibalism? - The Story of Chilaya

This is the story of Chilaya who was fortunate in two respects - he was born
in a royal family and his parents were deeply religious. The prince Chilaya
grew up under the care and affection showered on him by his parents. His
father had a charitable table disposition apart being a devout person. His
fame as a ardent worshipper of Lord Shiva spread far and wide. So much so that
even Lord Shiva came to hear about it.

To test the integrity of his worshipper Shiva took upon the guise of a hermit
and one early morning knocked on the palace doors asking for alms. The King
was very pleased on seeing a hermit at his door and asked him to demand
whatever he wanted. To the King's horror the hermit coolly asked for being
served human meat for his meal, and that meat was to be nobody else's but
prince Chilaya's. The very idea of their only son Chilaya being sacrificed to
satisfy the quaint hermit came as a whiplash to the devout God-fearing

But a guest that he was, the hermit's demand could not be turned down, and the
idea of deceiving him by offering him some other meat was not one which the
sincere couple could entertain. Ultimately they gave in to that ghastly demand
and arranged for Chilaya to be sacrificed to feed the hermit.

But the emotional stress for Chilaya's mother was too much and she arranged
for her son's head to be preserved with the intention of asking the Gods to
revive it later. But the wily hermit saw the absence of the head in the meat
served to him and demanded that it be given to him if his host expected him to
touch the food. Reluctantly, the heartbroken mother presented Chilaya's head
to her unrepentant guest and while doing so burst into hysterical sobs.

As the wily sage, who was no other than Lord Shiva himself, knew that his
disciples had passed his severe test and thereupon revealed his true form. On
recognising that the Lord himself stood before them, Chilaya's parents fell at
his feet and on being asked by the Lord for any boon, they naturally asked for
their son. Shiva asked them to call out their son's name. The stupefied
parents did so and to their amazement the food they had placed before their
guest disappeared and the son Chilaya descended from the heavens and stood
before them.

This story is a fableised recollection of cannibalism amongst the Aryans. Had
it not been so it need not have been incorporated into a legend that was
supposed to be believed by lay people."

This story is remarkable in its resemblance to the Tamil story of ciRuttoNTar,
the Pallava general who is said to have sacked vAtApi, the cALukyan capital,
and who is said to have offered his son as food to ziva. He is one of the 63
zaivite saints known as nAyan2mAr. Is the Chilaya story in Kannada or Marathi?
How old is this story?


S. Palaniappan

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