Uttarakuru- A Mythical Land

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Written by London swaminthan
Post No.1136; Dated 28th June 2014.

N.B. If you want to reproduce this article, please email me for permission. You must get written permission from me for each and every article separately. swami_48@yahoo.com

Uttarakuru has been referred to as a land of gold and immense pleasure in Tamil and Sanskrit literature. It is found in Vedic literature as well as Sangam Tamil literature. Lot of authors of classical age and writers of epics Vyasa and Valmiki also wrote about Uttarkurau. In the Vedic days it was NOT a mythical region. It existed somewhere beyond the Himalayas. Sabha Parva of Mahabharata described it as a real geographical area.

Arjuna got the Name Dhananjayan because he won the wealth of Uttarakuru (Dhanam= wealth, Jayan= one who won). Free sex was practised there.

Just before the Rajasuya Yajna of Yudhistra, Arjuna went towards North to conquer the lands. At the gates of Uttarakuru, he was stopped and told that no human being was allowed in. Even if he entered he could not see anything with human eyes. Then he insisted that they should accept Yudhistra’s sovereignty and offer tributes to him. They offered him divine garments, divine ornaments and divine hides and skins as tribute (Ref. Sabha parva of Mahabharata).

In Adhi Parva of Mahabharata ( 1—17—19) and Ramayana (4-44-88) the land of the Uttarakurus was described like a mythical country.

stairway-to-heaven

Sangam Tamil Literature

In Sangam Tamil literature Pathitrupathu (9-14)refers to Uttarakurus. Post Sangam Tamil epic Silappadikaram also refers to it.

Tamil poets described it as Bhogabhumi, land of pleasure. Ilango, author of Tamil epic Silappadikaram (2-10) compared the Tamil city Pumpuhar with Uttarakuru. He said that Uttarakuru was the residence of great penance performers and blessed with inexhaustible wealth.

UTTARAKURU In Vedic Literature —A Mysterious place with Gold!

The Uttarakurus, who play a mythical part in the epic and later literature are still a historical people in the Aitareya Brahmana (8—14) says the authors of the Vedic Index. They are located beyond the Himalaya. In another passage, however, the country of the Uttarakurus is stated by Vasistha Satyahavya to be a land of the gods (deva-kshetra), but Janamtapi Atyarati was anxious to conquer it, so that it is still not wholly mythical. It is reasonable to accept Zimmer’s view that the Northern Kurus were settled in Kashmir, especially as Kurukshetra is the region where tribes advancing from Kashmir might naturally be found (Vedic Index by AA Macdonell and AB Keith, page 84).

Identifying ancient lands mentioned in Puranas and Ithihasas (mythology and epics) has been a problem from the very beginning. Since the names like Kurus, Madras, Khambojans are tribal or community names and wherever they migrated that was called their land (country). In course of time, they slowly migrated to different areas, which led to lot of confusion. So nothing can be said with any certainty.

Sanskrit playwright Bhasa has referred to it in two of his dramas (Avimaraka and Svapnavasavadatta)
Pliny said that the Greek author Amometus wrote a book on Attacorae (Uttarakuru), which is lost.
The Uttarakuru is the seventh of the nine divisions lying to the north of Meru. Being the land of the eternal beautitude and enjoyment it came to be regarded as a heaven (Devabhumi or Bhogabumi) where the heavenly nymphs (Apsaras) dwelt.

Similar descriptions are found in Jain and Buddhist scriptures.

It is identified with Ottoro Korai of Ptolemy and Lassen places the country somewhere east of modern Kasgar– Source:Act 4 of Svapnavasavadatta of Bhasa ,translated by M R Kale.

Utopia

Utopia of Thomas Moore (1516)
Sir Thomas Moore wrote a book about an ideal society in an imaginary land in the Atlantic Ocean called Utopia. Probably he got the idea from Hindu Uttarakuru. Plato in his Republic wrote about a society where there are four classes of citizens (Gold, Silver, Bronze and Iron). The golden citizens are philosopher kings like Janaka of Upanishads. He might have got the idea from the Four Yugas of Hindu literature. Golden citizens are like the citizens in Krita Yuga, the Hindu Golden Age.

Tamil References (in Tamil):–
Silappadikaram, 2. Manaiyarampatutha katai
Uutarakuruvin oppath thodriya (2-10)
See Pathitru pathu – ezam pathu lines 9-14 vatapula vaazwar= uththarakuru.

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