Creation of mankind by Thakur Jiu – Santal creation myth may be prototype creation myths for Japanese and Korean creation myths

The Santals have an interesting myth on the creation of mankind by Thakur  Jiu (Supreme God). The Santal sacred story of the origin of humanity combines the Principles of creation and  evolution, for according to it humankind are ultimately derived from two images, which were modelled in human form out of damp clay, but afterwards accidentally transformed into birds***, from whose eggs the first Man and woman of flesh and blood were hatched. This story of origin of Mankind finds some similarities with the biblical view of creation of Adam and Eve (Gen. 1:26-27; 2:7). In the beginning there was only water and underneath it soil. First of all ‘Thakur jiu’ (Supreme God) created fishes, tortoises, crocodiles, earthworms, sun, moon and all kinds of living creatures of the water and finally human beings.18

‘Thakur jiu’ (God) made two human couples of earth. When He was ready to impart souls or breathe (life) into them, the “Sin Sadom” (The day horse of the Sun in the form of horse) came down from above and trampled them to pieces. ‘Thakur jiu’ became awfully grieved by this. Thakur Baba (God the  Father) did not give up His plan of creating humankind. The myth further asserts, “Then Thakur jiu created physical formation of male and female birds instead of human formation out of damp clay. The birds were imparted”breath or soul Oife) by the ‘Thakur jiu’ from the inner part of His bosom. “17 He named the birds-Has and Hasil (meaning goose and gander). He used to keep the birds on his hands and talk and play with them. When the birds needed place to live, ‘Thakur jiu’ formed the earth and whole creation along with all the necessities. The birds made a nest in a clump of thatching grass. The female bird (Hasil) laid two eggs. From those eggs two humans were bom-one male child and another female child. They were called by the name, ·Pilcu Haram” and Pilcu Budhi. “11

The first human couple grew up in “Hihiri Pipiri,» the original birth place of the Santals. The place Hihiri Pipiri, geographically is uncertain. But one of the songs denote that the Hihiri pipiri was a place like paradise, a peaceful place situated somewhere in Babylon. The first human beings were taken care of by the birds according to the advice of the “Thakur jiu” (God).

It is at this situation, when the birds faced difficulties to feed the first human couple, offered supplication to the Thakur jiu’ for providing food for the human couple. le In this context of neccesity Thakur jiu’ created the whole universe for the wellbeing of humankind. Then the birds easily found fruits for the human beings. Therefore the earth and the whole creation is created out of the necessity as the source of life for all human beings. In this context of loving providence of God the Santals have never thought of the absence of God’s rule, care and relationship with creation and humankind.

The first man and woman lived in joy and happiness under the loving care and protection of God. They talked with Him and had fellowship with Him. In those days they knew nothing of illness and death. They were not afraid of death. In their first generati”on, they had abundant peace, prosperity and  security.

They did not work hard because labour was mostly free from toil. “The rice grew ready husked and cotton bushes, bore cloth already woven. “20 They believed that this Providence and easy supply were possible only by the Grace of Thaku Jiu. — Source: Understanding the Concept of God in Santal Traditional Myths  by Stephen Murm, pp. 77-78

*** Note:  For comparison, the next version presented below, excerpted from Stephen Oppenheimer’s “Eden in the East” includes significant differences that have been omitted from the version above.

The Santal story starts with an adviser creator, ‘Thakur Jiu’ in  a primeval ocean. His servants requested a blessing or the right to  start creating humans. He recommended they ask for help from a female creator being, ‘Malin Budhi’, in a rock cave under water. She used some special froth and stiff clay to make two human bodies, and laid them out to dry. The day-horse, ‘Singh Sadom’ passed that way and trampled the models under foot. ‘Thakur Jiu recommended the pieces be kicked into the Ganges and into the sea. With ‘Thakur Jiu’ ‘s blessing Malin Budhi tried again. However at this second attempt there was another hitch. Thakur Jiu had left the human spirits on top of a door frame next to the spirits intended for the birds. Malin Budhi being short, fetched the wrong ones and, when animated, her models turned into birds who flew away over the seas for twelve years looking for somewhere to nest. Thakur Jiu asked a number of sea creatures to raise the land above the sea, but all were unsuccessful. Finally, the earthworm who had swallowed earth only to pass it out from its other end, suggested asking Prince tortoise from the sea. The subterranean land was hitched up b four chains to the turtle and raised as an island. Thakur Jiu made a garden by planting grass and trees on the island. The birds landed and laid their eggs, which were then eaten by ‘Raghop Buar’. Thakur Jiu then sent ‘Jaer-era’ to guard the eggs. Finally, the eggs hatched to produce two human beings, a male and female ‘Pilchu Haram’ and ‘Pilchu Budhi’, who were the progenitors of the species.

Editorial note: This version by Oppenheimer is an extremely important version as it forms the most coherent mythical version that suggests the relic form close to an ancestral version that may have been the provenance for the more truncated sacred bird myths for Japan and Korea, as well as the truncated version of the turtle creation myth of Korea.  It also provides the most likely basis and explanation for the imagery of sacred bird images of the Yayoi period, as well as for the ubiquitous soul-bird perches icons that are the tori gateways to the Kofun burial mounds and shrines of Japan (and possibly also a founding basis for the sotdae of Korea).

Apart from Oppenheimer’s observation that the Santal myth unites the creation myth of wandering bird looking for a place to lay its egg, and the Siberian bird land-diver motif as well as the garden of Eden motif. Additionally, the motif of the horse as the destroyer of the first human creation is a noted feature of all the versions held by the scattered Mundaic tribes of India, may be represent a later added element following the arrival of the horse-riding Indo-European/Iranian invaders.

Genetically, the Santals who are Austro-Asiatics, of the mtDNA haplogroup R7a-gene pool.   Mainly in located in Bengal East India, the Santals from Bihar and Jharkhand are thought to be representative of the indigenous haplogroup R lineages in India, and evidence of a common initial spread of the root haplotypes of M, N, and R along the southern route some 60–70 kya (source:  Palanichamy, M. et al. 2004. Phylogeny of Mitochondrial DNA Macrohaplogroup N in India, Based on Complete Sequencing: Implications for the Peopling of South Asia). Their Y-DNA belongs to the three sub-families of Austro-Asiatics, on an average, 55% of Mundari, along with the 41% of Khasi-Khmuic from Northeast  India and all the 11 Nicobarese samples belong to O-M95,see Kumar, “Y-chromosome evidence suggests a common paternal heritage of Austro-Asiatic populations“.  According to Kumar’s study on the origins of the Austro-Asiatics:

” the haplotype diversity among the Mundari populations is as high as 99%. Given this and the fact that this haplogroup is nearly absent in other parts of India as well as in Western and Central Asia, one may safely conclude that O-M95 has originated in Mundari populations roughly around 65,000 YBP (95% C.I. 25,442 – 132,230), as suggested by TMRCA. Therefore, the ancestors of present day Mundari populations must have come to India prior to the origin of haplogroup O-M95, probably in the Pleistocene era. This is consistent with the archeological evidence, which suggest human habitation in mainland India during early Paleolithic times”

Data from

“Haplogroup O was one of eight haplogroups detected in an Indian population at frequencies > 5% (overall, 22.9% with 14.6% Subclade O2a and 8.0% Subclade O3a3c; Sengupta et al. 2006).  A relatively high proportion of Haplogroup O was detected across all tribal linguistic classes (Austroasiatic, Dravidian, Indo-European, and Tibeto-Burman) but the haplogroup was rare within caste populations, supporting theories that caste and tribal populations within India had separate origins (Cordaux et al. 2004).  The Austroasiatic language family has a high prevalence in Southeast Asia, and it is thought to be one of the oldest language families in India.  These two observations suggest that there may be a linkage between Indian and Southwest Asian Austroasiatics.

Their data concludes that “Based on current distributions of Haplogroup O, Austroasiatic speakers in India likely originated from Southeast Asia”(see their chart above, source: but acknowledges that the demographic history may not be this simple.  More recent studies argue that Austroasiatic populations originated in India, and then migrated to Southeast Asia via the Northeast Indian corridor (Kumar et al. 2007).”

Kumar argues that Austroasiatic O genes did not originate in Southeast Asia, because the Mundaris would otherwise, have shown the presence of haplogroup O-M122) and concluded “because of its very high frequency and diversity, haplogroup O-M95 had an in-situ origin among the Indian Austro-Asiatics, particularly among the Mundaris, not in Southeast Asia as envisaged earlier. Given the large estimate of TMRCA, our study suggests that the Mundari populations are one of the earliest settlers in the Indian Subcontinent. It is most likely that these populations have come from Central Asia through the Western Indian corridor and subsequently colonized Southeast Asia”. The article also posited a more detailed theory of origins that:

“… the possibility of ancestors of Austro-Asiatics migrating from central Asia to India through the western Indian corridor cannot be discounted, as it can account for the presence of contrasting patterns of mtDNA in the Indian and Southeast Asian Austro-Asiatics. Although neither haplogroup O-M175 nor N-LLY22g has been reported from central Asia, many studies have observed reasonably high frequency of haplogroup K-M9* [15,24,26] and it is possible that these samples may fall in the haplogroup defined by the binary marker M214, which connects haplogroups ‘O’ and ‘N’ [46]. However, this marker has not been typed in the Central Asian populations. A section of the population might have migrated towards Northeast Asia where haplogroup ‘N’ originated and another wave towards South Asia and entered India through its western corridor wherein haplogroup O-M175 originated. Haplogroup O-M95 might have evolved subsequently as a predominant male lineage along with the Indian-specific female lineages. Subsequently, a primarily male-driven and rapid migration of these people to Southeast Asia via Northeast India might have resulted in the total absence of Indian-specific mtDNA haplogroups but presence of 100% East Asian motifs in the Southeast Asian Austro-Asiatics.”Therefore, the Mundari populations appear to be one of the earliest source of populations from which the Khasi-Khmuic and Mon-Khmer populations have separated quite early and migrated to and settled in Southeast Asia, while another wave of migration, much later, by the Mon-Khmer people from Southeast Asia through Thailand and coastal southern Burma to Andaman and Nicobar Islands can be inferred from the current spread of Mon-Khmer populations (Fig. 1). …”

In addition to Kumar’s conclusion, adding to the genetic landscape picture, is the study Krithika et al. Molecular Genetic Perspective of Indian Populations:A Y-Chromosome Scenario“:

“The data also provided a clear evidence for both large-scale immigration of Tibeto-Burman speakers (bearing O3e chromosomes) and language change of former Austro-Asiatic speakers (of O2a lineage) in northeast Indian region.”The study supported the independent origin model put forth by Cordaux et al. (2004) and suggested a partition between (i) Tibeto-Burman speakers and (ii) Austro-Asiatic and Dravidian speakers based on a median-joining network analysis of O2a-M95 microsatellite haplotypes in Quintana-Murci et al. (2004) based onmitochondrial DNA polymorphisms. The clear predominance of haplogroup L1-M76 and the greater microsatellite variance within L1 inDravidian speakers led them to propose an indigenous origin for the Indian Dravidian speakers …  Their data also provided overwhelming support for an Indian origin of Dravidian speakers in contrast to the proto-Elamite hypothesis of their origin suggested…The Tibeto-Burman speakingtribals, primarily inhabiting northeastern regionsof India, are thought to be the latest immigrants among the tribals to India from Tibet and Myanmar(Guha, 1935). …An East/Southeast Asian origin for the Tibeto-Burman speakers of India was suggested based on the (I) presence of haplogroup O3e which is typically found in East/ Southeast Asia at frequencies up to 25% to 35%and is absent from India and elsewhere”

On corroborative evidence from the linguistics point of view, Priyadarshi in “Recent Studies in Indian Archaeo-linguistics and Archaeo-genetics having bearing on Indian Prehistory”, 2010 writes:

“Genetic evidence as well as linguistic evidence has made it clear that both the Dravidian and the Austro-Asiatic languages and their speakers have evolved in India—the Dravidians in the southernmost part and Austro-Asiatic in the eastern part of the South Asia. The current findings about early Dravidian languages contradict Renfrew and many other authors who had suggested in past that the place of origin of Dravidian was in West Asia from Proto-Elamite after 10,000 B.P., originally proposed by McAlpin. (15)”. Further footnotes note the close relationships between Indo-Aryan, Dravidian and Munda languages: “Plough (E.), *plogo (Proto-Germanic), plugas (Lithuanian) and langala (Sanskrit) are cognates. The ultimate origin of the words is from Munda family (Witzel).[1] Fuller writes, “Of interest in this regard is historical linguistic analysis for widespread cognate terms for plough in Indo-Aryan, Dravidian and Munda languages which may derive from early borrowing between these groups or from a common substrate, perhaps from the Harappan zone (Southworth, 2005, p. 80; Witzel, 1999, pp. 29–30).”[2]

From the foregoing evidence, it is summarized here that a migratory trail for AustroAsiatic genes and culture is a west-to-east one, with its tentative origins in Northeast India (Bengal) leading out India into Southeast China, and onto East Asia, including Korea and Japan. Himalayan Nepal has been shown to be a prominent and pivotal northeast Indian passageway for bi-directional migration, as seen in the genetic compositiosn of the Terai and the Tharus populations. notes:

“”Ding et al. 2000, Jin & Su 2000, Capelli et al. 2001, Karafet et al. 2001), but Haplogroup O is still found at high frequencies within this region[SEA]; estimates range from 17.7% to 100% depending on the country or population (Table 1; Kayser et al 2003).  Southeast Asia (including Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia, East Timor, and the Philippines) may have been the first settlement of humans into eastern Asia (Su et al. 1999) from Central Asia; this theory is based on the observation that Southeast Asian populations seems more genetically diverse then those from East Asia (Mongolia, China, Korea, Japan and Taiwan).”

And the trail taken following the expansion of the Han culture, O-M122’s trail, evinced further from its distribution pattern is noted to be a southerly one: Hong Shi et al., “Y-Chromosome Evidence of Southern Origin of the East Asian–Specific Haplogroup O3-M122″

“…  in the past 5,000 years, the major population migration in East Asia is from north to south, because of the expansion of Han culture (Cavalli-Sforza et al. 1994; Wang 1994), which was demonstrated by our recent study (Wen et al.2004a). When we discuss the earliest migration of modern humans in East Asia before the Neolithic time, our data on O3-M122 polymorphisms revealed that southern populations are probably the ancestral populations. Data from the other two major East Asian–specific haplogroups (O1-M119 and O2-M95) also supported a southern origin of northern populations. These two lineages are prevalent in SEAS”.

Finally, we also find further evidence of an Indian from DNA evidence supporting historical Samguk Yusa texts, linking India and ancient Korean kingdom’s Gayan or Kayan Princess Heo Hwang-ok (48AD) who became Queen Suro of Kaya, have been noted in the media and various articles (see Korea’s Prehistoric Past by Marinus Anthony van der Sluijs; and India the origin of Korea?; The Korean ‘sister’ of Ayodhya). A BBC article reported as follows:

“In the northern Indian city of Ayodhya, a visiting Korean delegation has inaugurated a memorial to their royal ancestor, Queen Huh.

More than a-hundred historians and government representatives, including the North Korean ambassador to India, unveiled the memorial on the west bank of the River Saryu.

Korean historians believe that Queen Huh was a princess of an ancient kingdom in Ayodhya.

She went to Korea some two-thousand years ago and started the Karak dynasty by marrying a local king, Suro.

Today, the historians say, Queen Huh’s descendants number more than six-million, including the South Korean president – Kim Dae Jung. But a senior official in Ayodhya told the BBC that no information was available about Queen Huh in Indian history.

Source: Korean memorial to Indian princess   BBC News, 6 Mar 2001

Sources and references:

BMC Evolutionary Biology 2007, 7:47 doi:10.1186/1471-2148-7-47 retrieved via

Korean memorial to Indian princess   BBC News, 6 Mar 2001

Krithika et al. Molecular Genetic Perspective of Indian Populations:A Y-Chromosome Scenario

Priyadarshi in “Recent Studies in Indian Archaeo-linguistics and Archaeo-genetics having bearing on Indian Prehistory”, 2010

Understanding the Concept of God in Santal Traditional Myths  by Stephen Murm, pp. 77-78

Stephen Oppenheimer’s “Eden in the East


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