Punyakoti to Arbudha – Secular Transformation

A request: Please read the Acknowledgement section without fail. Has an introduction to Nele Vasundhara, an exciting seva project

My earliest memory of this song, a part of the state’s oral tradition and a part of has been part of Kannada textbooks for decades, is listening to it with my brothers, crowding around our Old Murphy radio  when almost regularly it was broadcast on Akashavani (All India Radio) in the evenings. And when I reached Class 3 I pleasantly  discovered that it was part of  my Kannada Text and had to memorize the whole poem for my exams. Remember at that age even a 8-lined Sonnet is a Task, but part (syllabus pruned this 114 verse poem into some 40 stanzas) was something I looked forward to learn.

That is the charm this touching story of an encounter between Punyakoti (The Cow) and Arbhudha (the Tiger) it holds to anyone who has been educated in Karnataka or followed Kannada folk literature even in the passing. This epic folk song was immortalized by its inclusion in the filmy adaptation of  the noted Kannada Novelist Sri  SL Bhyrappa’s 1968 novel “Tabbali Neenade Magane” (Son, you have been orphaned). You can watch (and hear) the song below from Sri Sri Productions (This movie producer has no relation whatsoever to His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar or Art of Living 🙂 )

Though the original Poet of this popular Kannada folk song is  not known, noted Kannada and Sanskrit Scholar Prof DL Narasimhachar extracted and translated this ancient verse from the Sanskrit Epic Ithihasa-Samuchchya. 

I am including the Lyrics of the Original song (Partial and relevant to this piece) at the end of this piece, as we learnt for years more to serve as a record for the future & to preserve the original flavour of this touching verse-story which is under serious threat of Macaulization under the garb of Secularism. What is baffling is the academia doctoring scripts of ancient folk literature to nurture particular vote bank and political reasons and trying to pass it off as original. With passing years and knowing how every part of India’s history has been fudged and fiddled, I am sure a day will come when this “raped” version will be treated as Original. A worrisome trend, as most of our ancient texts would be changed by these left leaning intellectuals for whom anything traditional or cultural to Bharat is an anathema.  As it were, as I write this piece our children is being forced to learn a different version of this ancient verse if we don’t resist it now.

When I opened the Times of India (30th July 2013) newspaper this morning a headline screams – “Original version of Punyakoti will be back in books” Surprising part is attempt to convey that it is back to “Original Version” Reading the article further proves the headline that is contradictory. It conceded what is Original version (I have summarized below) & yet headline screams it is being changed back to Original.

First, what is this song about: A song which originally highlighted & propagates ingrained virtues of our Bharateeya culture of Sacrifice, Maternal bonding, Concern for other living beings & environment, Honesty and upholder of the Value “Truth is God” The song can be summarized thus:


Punyakoti a pious cow was accosted by a tiger named Arbudha who was not able to get a prey for more than a week & was extremely hungry. When he was about to pounce, helpless Punyakoti pleads to spare her till such time her hungry calf waiting for her is fed and swears by God and mother earth to return to be consumed by the tiger. What is critically conveyed in this verse is compassionate nature of the Tiger who despite being hungry was quite understanding of a mother’s plea.


Punyakoti, pious natured that she was, rushed to her calf, feeds it and explains that their earthly bonding is coming to an end as she has to keep the promise to return to the tiger to be killed and be its food. She also prays to her other cows  to take care of her to orphaned child. With a motherly concern, she gives her calf instructions on of how to carry herself in future, she returned to the forest and the death awaiting her. 


Arbudha was shocked at this honesty and sacrificing nature of Punyakoti and feels so remorseful and guilty for killing lot of helpless creatures. Tears rolling from his eyes, he spares Punyakoti saying that God would not spare  him if she killed a honest and helpless creation to satiate his hunger . He then seeks pardon from the God, for all the evil acts committed earlier and jumps off the cliff to get liberated.


Both Arbudha and Punyakoti thus are considered equally blessed and virtuous

This new version (which the Intelligensia is trying to pass off as original) is part of the Siddaramaiah led Congress government’s  efforts in the name of “desaffronising”  textbooks. An AHINDA (Minorities-Backward Classes-Dalits) version of the popular Kannada folk ballad ‘Govina Haadu’ is being proposed by the movement representatives  for inclusion in school lessons.

Poet-playwright K Y Narayanaswamy who has now penned the AHINDA version of Govina Haadu, titled Huliya Haadu, brazenly justifies it saying “The best way to counter a move is to make another version of the same move”.

What is worse and more damaging is that a litterateur, Sri KYN, who is supposed to protect the originality and essence of an ancient literary gem in existence from ancient times, is the prime mover to tamper with Kannada Literature.

In KYN version:  It is not a tiger, but a tigress who wants to feed her hungry cub, by claiming Punyakoti as prey. The cub persuades the tigress to let Punyakoti go feed her calf and return. In the end, the tigress and Punyakoti understand each other as mothers, and Punyakoti returns home. The tigress, however, is killed by the cowherd Kalinga, who shoots her while “hiding behind the Taati tree/like Sri Raama killed Vaali”.

KYN says, it now has a poignant ending with the tiger cub asking,  “A tiger that can eat grass/is not there in the world we see. Oh sisters and oh brothers, All you living, breathing beings, How can I live without hunting? Answer now, the cub’s call.”

The most inane justification came from Sri Dwarakanatha, the originator of  AHINDA movement, “Narayanaswamy balances out the forces of nature and takes into account the welfare of both the cow and the tiger. It reflects the cruelty of man, rather than criticise the animal kingdom.”

This is JUVENILE and DANGEROUS. This guy has no inkling of what Heritage or Literature means and decides what our children should study and how they study it. We cannot allow ignorant and self-serving political class to tamper with our Literature and obfuscate facts.

As I write, there is a move by people from the literaray field to bring an injunction and we should lend our support to them. 


Thanks to Sri Prashant Vaidyaraj (Click on links to reach his profile on Twitter and Facebook), a selflless volunteer with Nele Vasundhara (Click this link Introduction of the Organization)   for sharing photographs used in this blog. Coincidentally, Nele Vasudha girls and boys performed the Punyakoti Govina Hadu (Click link to watch the video of the performance, You will not regret it) during the valedictory function of their Summer camp.

Lyrics of the Song (In Kannada)

ಧರಣಿ ಮಂಡಲ ಮಧ್ಯದೊಳಗೆ
ಮೆರೆಯುತಿಹ ಕರ್ನಾಟ ದೇಶದೊಳಿರುವ
ಕಾಳಿಂಗನೆಂಬ ಗೊಲ್ಲನ ಪರಿಯನೆಂತು ಪೇಳ್ವೆನು

ಎಳೆಯ ಮಾವಿನ ಮರದ ಕೆಳಗೆ
ಕೊಳಲನೂದುತ ಗೊಲ್ಲ ಗೌಡನು
ಬಳಸಿ ನಿಂದ ತುರುಗಳನ್ನು
ಬಳಿಗೆ ಕರೆದನು ಹರುಷದಿ

ಗಂಗೆ ಬಾರೆ ಗೌರಿ ಬಾರೆ
ತುಂಗಭದ್ರೆ ತಾಯಿ ಬಾರೆ
ಪುಣ್ಯಕೋಟಿ ನೀನು ಬಾರೆ
ಎಂದು ಗೊಲ್ಲನು ಕರೆದನು

ಗೊಲ್ಲ ಕರೆದ ದನಿಯ ಕೇಳಿ
ಎಲ್ಲ ಹಸುಗಳು ಬಂದು ನಿಂತು
ಚೆಲ್ಲಿ ಸೂಸಿ ಹಾಲು ಕರೆಯಲು
ಅಲ್ಲಿ ತುಂಬಿತು ಬಿಂದಿಗೆ
ಸತ್ಯವೇ ಭಗವಂತನೆಂಬ ಪುಣ್ಯಕೋಟಿಯ ಕಥೆಯಿದು 

ಹಬ್ಬಿದಾ ಮಲೆ ಮಧ್ಯದೊಳಗೆ
ಅರ್ಭುತಾನೆಂದೆಂಬ ವ್ಯಾಘ್ರನು
ಅಬ್ಬರಿಸಿ ಹಸಿ ಹಸಿದು ಬೆಟ್ಟದ
ಕಿಬ್ಬಿಯೊಳು ತಾನಿದ್ದನು

ಸಿಡಿದು ರೋಶದಿ ಮೊರೆಯುತಾ ಹುಲಿ
ಗುಡಿಗುಡಿಸಿ ಭೋರಿಡುತ ಚಂಗನೆ
ತುಡುಕಲೆರಗಿದ ರಭಸಕಂಜಿ
ಚೆದರಿ ಹೋದವು ಹಸುಗಳು

ಪುಣ್ಯಕೋಟಿ ಎಂಬ ಹಸುವು
ತನ್ನ ಕಂದನ ನೆನೆದುಕೊಂಡು
ಮುನ್ನ ಹಾಲನು ಕೊಡುವೆನೆನುತ
ಚೆಂದದಿ ತಾ ಬರುತಿರೆ

ಇಂದೆನಗೆ ಆಹಾರ ಸಿಕ್ಕಿತು
ಎಂದು ಬೇಗನೆ ದುಷ್ಟ ವ್ಯಾಗ್ರನು
ಬಂದು ಬಳಸಿ ಅಡ್ಡಗಟ್ಟಿ
ನಿಂದನಾ ಹುಲಿರಾಯನು
ಸತ್ಯವೇ ಭಗವಂತನೆಂಬ ಪುಣ್ಯಕೋಟಿಯ ಕಥೆಯಿದು

ಮೇಲೆ ಬಿದ್ದು ನಿನ್ನನೀಗಲೆ
ಬೀಳಹೊಯ್ವೆನು ನಿನ್ನ ಹೊಟ್ಟೆಯ
ಸೀಳಿಬಿಡುವೆನು ಎನುತ ಕೋಪದಿ
ಖುಳ್ಳ ವ್ಯಾಘ್ರನು ಕೂಗಲು

ಒಂದು ಬಿನ್ನಹ ಹುಲಿಯೆ ಕೇಳು
ಕಂದನಿರುವನು ದೊಡ್ಡಿಯೊಳಗೆ
ಒಂದು ನಿಮಿಷದಿ ಮೊಲೆಯ ಕೊಟ್ಟು
ಬಂದು ಸೇರುವೆ ನಿಲ್ಲಿಗೆ

ಹಸಿದ ವೇಳೆಗೆ ಸಿಕ್ಕಿದೊಡವೆಯ
ವಶವ ಮಾಡದೆ ಬಿಡಲು ನೀನು
ನುಸುಳಿ ಹೋಗುವೆ ಮತ್ತೆ ಬರುವೆಯ
ಹುಸಿಯ ನಾಡುವೆ ಎಂದಿತು

ಸತ್ಯವೇ ನಮ್ಮ ತಾಯಿ ತಂದೆ
ಸತ್ಯವೇ ನಮ್ಮ ಬಂಧು ಬಳಗ
ಸತ್ಯ ವಾಖ್ಯಾಕೆ ತಪ್ಪಿ ನಡೆದರೆ
ಮೆಚ್ಚನಾ ಪರಮಾತ್ಮನು
ಸತ್ಯವೇ ಭಗವಂತನೆಂಬ ಪುಣ್ಯಕೋಟಿಯ ಕಥೆಯಿದು 

ಕೊಂದು ತಿನ್ನುವೆನೆಂಬ ಹುಲಿಗೆ
ಚೆಂದದಿಂದ ಭಾಷೆ ಇಟ್ಟು
ಕಂದ ನಿನ್ನನು ನೋಡಿ ಹೋಗುವೆ
ನೆಂದು ಬಂದೆನು ದೊಡ್ಡಿಗೆ

ಆರ ಮೊಲೆಯನು ಕುಡಿಯಲಮ್ಮ
ಆರ ಸೇರಿ ಬದುಕಲಮ್ಮ
ಆರ ಬಳಿಯಲಿ ಮಲಗಲಮ್ಮ
ಆರು ನನಗೆ ಹಿತವರು

ಅಮ್ಮಗಳಿರಾ ಅಕ್ಕಗಳಿರಾ
ಎನ್ನ ತಾಯೊಡ ಹುಟ್ಟು ಗಳಿರಾ
ಕಂದ ನಿಮ್ಮವನೆಂದು ಕಾಣಿರಿ
ತಬ್ಬಲಿಯನೀ ಕರುವನು

ಮುಂದೆ ಬಂದರೆ ಹಾಯಬೇಡಿ
ಹಿಂದೆ ಬಂದರೆ ಒದೆಯಬೇಡಿ
ಕಂದ ನಿಮ್ಮವನೆಂದು ಕಾಣಿರಿ
ತಬ್ಬಲಿಯನೀ ಕರುವನು
ಸತ್ಯವೇ ಭಗವಂತನೆಂಬ ಪುಣ್ಯಕೋಟಿಯ ಕಥೆಯಿದು 

ತಬ್ಬಲಿಯು ನೀನಾದೆ ಮಗನೆ
ಹೆಬ್ಬುಲಿಯ ಬಾಯನ್ನು ಹೋಗುವೆನು
ಇಬ್ಬರಾ ಋಣ ತೀರಿತೆಂದು
ತಬ್ಬಿಕೊಂಡಿತು ಕಂದನ

ಗೋವು ಕರುವನು ಬಿಟ್ಟು ಬಂದು
ಸಾವಕಾಶವ ಮಾಡದಂತೆ
ಗವಿಯ ಬಾಗಿಲ ಸೇರಿನಿಂತು
ತವಕದಲಿ ಹುಲಿಗೆಂದಿತು

ಖಂಡವಿದೆಕೋ ಮಾಂಸವಿದೆಕೋ
ಗುಂಡಿಗೆಯ ಬಿಸಿ ರಕ್ತವಿದೆಕೋ
ಚಂಡ ವ್ಯಾಘ್ರನೆ ನೀನಿದೆಲ್ಲವ
ನುಂಡು ಸಂತಸದಿಂದಿರು

ಪುಣ್ಯಕೋಟಿಯ ಮಾತ ಕೇಳಿ
ಕಣ್ಣ ನೀರನು ಸುರಿಸಿ ನೊಂದು
ಕನ್ನೆಯಿವಳನು ಕೊಂದು ತಿಂದರೆ
ಮೆಚ್ಚನಾ ಪರಮಾತ್ಮನು

ಎನ್ನ ಒಡಹುಟ್ಟಕ್ಕ ನೀನು
ನಿನ್ನ ಕೊಂದು ಏನ ಪಡೆವೆನು?
ಎನ್ನುತಾ ಹುಲಿ ಹಾರಿ ನೆಗೆದು
ತನ್ನ ಪ್ರಾಣವ ಬಿಟ್ಟಿತು
ಸತ್ಯವೇ ಭಗವಂತನೆಂಬ ಪುಣ್ಯಕೋಟಿಯ ಕಥೆಯಿದು 

ಪುಣ್ಯಕೋಟಿ ನಲಿದು ಕರುವಿಗೆ
ಉಣ್ಣಿಸೀತು ಮೊಲೆಯ ಬೇಗದಿ
ಚೆನ್ನ ಗೊಲ್ಲನ ಕರೆದು ತಾನು
ಮುನ್ನ ತಾದಿಂತೆಂದಿತು

ಎನ್ನ ವಂಶದ ಗೋವ್ಗಳೊಳಗೆ
ನಿನ್ನ ವಂಶದ ಗೊಲ್ಲರೊಳಗೆ
ಮುನ್ನ ಪ್ರತಿ ಸಂಕ್ರಾಂತಿಯೊಳಗೆ
ಚೆನ್ನ ಕೃಷ್ಣನ ಭಾಜಿಸಿರಿ

ಈವನು ಸೌಭಾಗ್ಯ ಸಂಪದ ಭಾವ ಜಾತಿಪ ಕೃಷ್ಣನು 

The Hindi version of this Amazing Song rendered by Mohammed Rafi is below

5 thoughts on “Punyakoti to Arbudha – Secular Transformation

  1. sinchitaa July 30, 2013 / 4:06 pm

    Yes this is one of my favorite Poem Suresh ji. Thank you for such a wonderful blog. Even now when i read this poem my eyes will be filled with tears. And i really wish that no one should come out with their own versions. Because no versions can match the original one. 🙂 So Mr. K.Y.Narayanswamy ji let the Punyakoti story remain the same and it would be nice if you don’t come out with your versions. Once again thank you suresh ji for this wonderful blog because it simply remains my schooldays tooo.. 🙂

  2. sinchitaa July 30, 2013 / 4:09 pm

    Reblogged this on sinchitaa and commented:
    One of my favorite poem which remembers me of my schooldays.. 🙂

  3. agnyaa July 30, 2013 / 4:10 pm

    Never can forget this poem which was a part of our childhood days.. Very true Suresh ji.. people who are supposed to protect and continue our culture are the reason today for its decline:(

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