The Story of Goddess Durga
The tiger is vahana(vehicle)
of goddess DURGA. Do
you know that in
Nepal there is no burning of Ravana on Dusshera because
it is believed that Goddess Durga, riding a tiger, killed
Mahishasura ( a buffalo-headed demon) on the same day.
Mahishasura it is said , was so powerful that none of
the gods were able to defeat him. Therefore they met
together to form Durga with 18 hands, many weapons,
riding a tiger. It thus shows that tiger has always
been a very important symbol of power & might.
The story of
Ayyappan was born
as a result of alliance between Siva & Vishnu when Vishnu
appearded in Mohini Rupa after churning of milky ocean.
He is the third son of Siva after Ganesha and Kartikeya.
Ayyappan, was found by a childless king & queen on the
bank of a river. They brought him home as their
own child. But when the queen had a child of her own
she became jealous of Ayyappan. The queen pretended
that she was very ill & she would be cured by drinking
tiger's milk. Ayyappan , who was 12 years old volunteered
& went to the forest. He returned riding a tiger followed
by all tigers of the forest. The king begged for forgiveness
& asked where did Ayyapan want his temple to be built?
Ayyapan fired an arrow & it fell at a place Sabari.
Hence, the Sabarimalai temple was built. Both the stories
thus show how important the tiger has been to our mythology.
The tiger has been an important part of Chinese, Korean,
Sumerian , Japanese & European mythologies. It is a
pity that the tiger is endangered because of us humans
killing it discriminately. Killing a tiger with a sword
or a spear has always been considered very courageous.
The Legend of Dan-gun
In the ancient times,
Hwan-In ruled the heaven. He loved his son, Hwan- Ung
who was a clever, compassionate & constructive man.
One day, Hwan-Ung pleaded with his father to let him
go to earth & rule Korea. Hwan -In said yes and sent
him along with Pung-Beg (the Earl of Wind), U-Sa (the
Chancellor of Rain), and Un-Sa (The Chancellor of Clouds).
The ministers were able to control rain, wind, clouds,
and all natural elements. Meanwhile a bear and a tiger
lived on the earth in a cave near a sandalwood tree
& wanted to become human. Hwan-ung told them that to
become humans they will have to live in a dark cave
for 100 days & eat only garlic and mugwort. The bear
lived in the cave, but the tiger was extremely restless
and ran away. The bear became a beautiful woman, married
Hwan-Ung was made the Queen. Soon she gave birth to
a prince, Dan-gun, or the Sandalwood King. Dan-gun reigned
as the first human king of the North Korea. Koreans
believe that the tiger still roams the mountains. Though
the tiger did not become a human, even today people's
affection for the tiger is special. The tiger is seen
as brave and sacred.
In ancient times
the tiger was a messenger of the mountain spirit, San
Once upon a time
there lived a rich man Kim, who had a beautiful daughter
named Ok-bun. Ok-bun became friend with a poor boy P'al-bong.
Both of them were very close friends. As they got older,
Ok-bun's father realized that they loved each other
& wanted to get married. Kim decided to marry his daughter
to Tol-swae, who was also a nobleman. Kim wanted to
get her married quickly & arranged for the engagement
and set an early wedding date. Both Ok-bun & P'al-bong
felt very sad. On the wedding day when the bridegroom
entered the bridal chamber, where Ok-bun was waiting
for him, a tiger took away Ok-bun.
The tiger dropped Ok-bun at P'al-bong's door. In the
meantime, Tol-swae searched to look for Ok-bun. He thought
she had surely been killed by the tiger. When everybody
found Ok-bun then everyone nodded and said that it was
the mountain spirit, San Shin, at his matchmaking again,
and that no human should interfere. So a marriage between
the two childhood sweethearts was arranged and they
lived happily every after.
The Tiger Call, Published in March, 1996, WWF-IndiaFolk
Tales from Korea, 3rd edition, by Zong In-Sob, 1982,
Hollym International Corp: New Jersey Tiger, Burning
Bright, Kathleen J. Crane Foundation, 1992, Hollym International
Corp: New Jersey
Books to read:
At the Zoo. National Geographic Society,
Bowden, Joan. A World Without Tigers.
Dial Books for Young Readers, 1993. Hewett, Joan. Tiger,
Tiger, Growing Up. Houghton Mifflin Co., 1993.
Who's Who at the Zoo? DK Publishing,