Notes: The symbolism behind the golden egg from which Brahma and King Suro emerged

Like Brahma, King Suro was also depicted in the Korean Samguk Yusa royal genealogies as having been born from a golden egg, so we try here a) to see if inferences of long-distance genetic or cultural ties between the two seemingly separate peoples of sub-continents of South Korea and India… may be drawn, and b) draw comparisons between the golden egg-birth metaphor of the Kaya kings and that of Brahma’s birth from a golden egg and evince the significance of the symbolism of the golden egg.

Inferences of Indian influences and genetic ties may be drawn to some extent, and we rely on the analysis and observations made by Gina Lee Barnes in her book “State Formation in Korea: Historical and Archaeological Perspectives” pp 179~

The majority of the Karak Kukki chapter is devoted to the miraculous birth of King Suro and another five Kaya kings (hatched from six golden eggs delivered from heaven in a golden basket on a purple rope), and the affairs of King Suro and his obtaining of a wife. Thereafter the text relates United Silla and Koryo-period events concerning the upkeep of King Suro’s tomb, and it tells of the festival (continuing into the 11-th century in the old Kaya region of Kimhae) commenorating the arrival of King Suro’s future wife by ship. The region7s change of name through the centuries is also recorded: from being called Kumgwan-kyong in 681, to Imhae-hyon in ca. 940, Imhae-gun or Kimhae-pu in ca. 988. …

Very little is written about the events of King Suro’s successors except that in 453 the eighth King Kimchil had a temple erected to the memory of King Suro’s Queen, and the stele on which the inscription mentioned above was written apparently stood on the abandoned site of that temple. A king list is appended to the Karak Kukki, giving reign dates, genealogies and alternative names and some historical information for the nine kings succeeding Suro.  In this list, some information is incorporated from the Chinese Kaihuangli. Finally, the document ends by quoting two two Chinese sources, the Kaihuanglu6 and the Sanguozhi,7 on the Silla conquest of Karak.

Some things to note about the Karak Kukki chapter are that:
1) The name of King Suro’s kingdom is usually given as Karak-guk (with Kaya-guk given as an alternative only once). A nearby mountain is however called Mt. Kaya, and King Suro’s contemporaries are referred to as five Kaya kings. It thus appears that Kaya might have been a local place name and ethnic identity, whereas Karak was specifically chosen by King Suro as the name for his own kingdom. Another explanatio nis that Kaya is simply a later derivation of Karak with no difference in meaning (see below).
2) The traditional founding date of Karak in AD 42 is taken from the day according to Chinese dynastic calendar (Jian-wu 18 of Emperor Guang Wu’s reign in the Late Han Dynasty) when the heavenly voice called down to nine cheifs tellign them to “dance and meet a great king”, with the golden basket descending thereafter. King Suro subsequently is said to have married in AD 48.
3) Predecessors of King Suro are mentioned in two places in the Karak Kukki chapater. The beginning of the document specifically says that the country was originally without a name or ruler, but then it goes on to list the names of nine original “chiefs” (kan) who controlled an apocryphal 75,000 people of 100 surnames living in 100 households in the region. These “chiefs” are discussed later in the text as government officials within the Karak state. Thus if these people existed at all, they were not ancestors but contemporaries of King Suro.
4) Under King Suro, court titles were revised, both to modernize the “nine chiefs” titles and adopt new titles from the Court of Kyerim (Silla), such as Kakkan, Ajilkan and Kupkan. It is possible that the -kan ending was adopted at this time and added post-facto to the original native titles. In nay case, these sorts of titles were not prminent in Silla until the reign of King Naemul (356-402) when Naemul adopted the title of Maripkan (Lee K.B. 1984:30), making their appearance at the time of King Suro anachronistic — unless of course, they were adopted into Silla from Kaya.

5) King Suro’s capital was built in a narrow valley at Kumyang and is said to have consisted of outer city walls, royal palaces, government offices armouries and storehouses. The boundaries of Karak were considered to be Hwangsan River on the east (the Naktong River?), the ocean on the south, Ch’anghae (location unknown) on the southwest… The historical name of Kumgwan probably was used officially in the United Silla period for the old Karak capital.

6) King Suro’s wife is said to have come from India, in particular from “Ayut’a”, an attribution mentioned several times in the text (see below).
7) The king list in the Karak Kukki, gives the surname of Kim (meaning “gold”) to the nine kings succeeding Suro. In the entry for the second King Kodung, it states that the Chinese document, the Kaihuangli, explains the surname asderiving from the gold egg from which hatched the king’s ancestor. However, we know from the text of the Karak Kukki chapter itself that the royal Karak line was absorbed into the Kim royal line of Silla upon the defeat of Karak (Ryu H.R. 1989); the 30th Silla King Munmu claims descent from the Crown Prince of the last Karak King Kuhong. It is not clear from these data whether the Karak kings called themselves Kim at the time; the surname may well have been applied retroactively after King Munmu’s ascension to the Silla throne.
8) An important point to note here is that nowhere in the Samguk Yusa does any other Kaya name appear as a “country” (-guk, the Korean pronunciation of guo) as does the original Karak-guk. …
Kumgwan-Kaya was conquered by Silla during the reign of King Pophung in 532, and the Tae-Kaya was conquered under the Silla King Chinhung in 562. Thus by the 6th century, Kaya had ceased to exist, although the royal house of Kumgwan-Kaya was apparently absorbed into the Kim line of Silla kings, known as the “new Kim line” with true-bone rank (Lee K.B. 1984: 50).

A critique of King Suro’s Queen (pp 184-186)
Archaeologist Kim Byung-mo has offered a proposal for the origin for King Suro’s queen which, if true, relies on an amazing concordance of archaeological, historiograhical and ethnographical data. Beginning with the “twin-fish” motif occurring, including the stone monuments throughout the present-day Kimhae region, including hte stone monument of the queen’s alleged tomb, he has followed up the Karak Kukki’s attribution of the queen to India and found that the twin-fish motif was prominent in the design repertoire in Kosala in Uttar Pradesh in the early centuries AD.  He equates Ayu’ta with Ayodhia, a common place name of that region and time. Also on the queen’s tomb monument with her name as stated in the Karak Kukki, Ho Hwang-ok, to the ancestral home of the Ho (C. Xu/Hu ) clan in Sichuan Province of China – located in a prefecture which was called Chinju (C. Jinzhou) from the Zhou to Song periods.
When Kim travelled to Chinju, he met members of the Xu/Hu families who guided him to the ancestral tomb and was told of the yearly ceremonies carried out there. Moreover, he documented the distribution of the twin-fish motif throughout the Yangtze basin and postulates that the Xu/Hu clan was originally a Brahmin family from India which took refuge to the northeast when Kosala was attacked by Kushan in the 1st century AD. Finally, he cities two rebellions in Jin zhou recorded for AD 47 and 101 in the Late Han period. One of the leaders of the rebellion was a holy man of the Xu/Hu; and, judging on the expulsion of the rebels in 101, Kim postulates that the earlier Brahman leader was also banished.
From here he speculates that the family moved down the Yangtze to the Shanghai delta region, whence they might have departed on a trading ship that deposited them on the southern Korean coast. It must be remembered at this time, as described by the later Weizhi, the Pyonhan area was a large trading centre for iron with many ships coming and going from all directions, so it would not have been impossible to arrive from the Yangtze delta in time for the daughter to marry King Suro in AD 48. The name chosen by Suro for his kingdom Karak, is said to be an old Dravidian word for “fish”, with Kaya as the new Dravidian form (Kim. B.Y. 1987, 1992, 1994).
This incredible coincidence of data might well reflect the reality of a high status foreign family arriving in the Kimhae region at the date described. If so, foreign beads and ornaments and ornaments might be expected to be discovered fro mPyonhan burials in future. It is also possible that the daughter’s presence was remembered through myth and legend. However, whether or not this woman married the man to become King Suro is still conjectural. It should be noted that the twin-fish motif is at present only known from historical monuments in the Kimhae region and it has yet to be found on any archaeological materials dating to the Kaya period. Also, the tomb that is maintained as belonging to the queen of King Suro is a late construction (as is likely for King Suro’s tmb), located in a 6-7th century tomb cluster(Nishitani 1992a:2). It is possible that after the Silla conquest of Kaya in 532, the Silla Court honoured the ancestors of the Kaya Crown Prince who joined the Kim royal line by building new a new tomb for the queen; and a tombstone with the twin-fish motif oculd have been added any time thereater. Fish forms are known in Silla goldwork, which is also thought to have roots in Indian gold-working technology. Thus, there is more than one route for the “twin-fish” motif to have entered the Korean peninsula.
Another problem with Kim Byung-mo’s neat scenario is that there is no archaeological evidence, as stated above, for the establishment of a “kingdom” in the 1st century AD. If King Suro’s time was instead the mid-3rd century, and particularly if he were a refugee from Lelang or the Puyo (C. Fuyu), it is still possible possible that later Kaya dynasts put together a surviving myth of an Indian woman together with stories of the first king’s exploits and made them man and wife. This would being the nature of myth-making to give a history and therefore legitimacy to a new ruling classes on the southern peninsula.

Sources: p. 198 State Formation in Korea: Historical and Archaeological Perspectives
By Gina Lee Barnes

Notable in the Kaya region was the advent of stoneware production anywhere between early 1st century BC to the terminal 3rd century AD (Barnes adopts the latter date), a “new shape repertoire of hard-fired grey ware that became the Three Kingdoms stoneware tradition in Yongnam”. There is also the introduction of new tradition Kaya-type pit-style stone-chamber construction. Kaya was florescent in the 5th century with the construction of large wooden chamber tombs yielding iron armour (Pokch’ong-dong cemetery is typical)

It is possible that King Suro’s courtly bards borrowed the oral tradition from the Brahmin and/ Indo-European genealogical tradition. We have several things in common with the I-E (or PIE) traditions:

– golden egg birth of progenitor race – human sacrifice – twin fish –

The concept of Purusha is similar to the concept of Brahman described in the later texts.[21]:318 As for the creation of the primordial beings (such as the gods who performed the sacrifice of the Purusha),

On the symbolism of the golden egg, we begin with the Rigveda, the earliest Hindu text that mentions the Hiranyagarbha (“golden embryo”) as the source of the creation of the Universe, similar to the world egg motif found in the creation myths of many other civilizations. Rigveda (10.121) also mentions the Hiranyagarbha (literally, golden embryo/womb/egg) that existed before the creation. This metaphor has been interpreted differently by the various later texts. The Samkhya texts state that Purusha and the Prakriti made the embryo, from which the world emerged. In another tradition, the creator god Brahma emerged from the egg and created the world, while in yet another tradition the Brahma himself is the Hiranyagarbha.

The Shatapatha Brahmana mentions a story of creation, in which the Prajapati performs tapas to reproduce himself. He releases the waters and enters them in the form of an egg that evolves into the cosmos.[25] The Prajapati emerged from the golden egg, and created the earth, the middle regions and the sky. It also contains a myth of the proto-Indo-European origin, in which the creation arises out of the dismemberment of a cosmic being (the Purusha) who is sacrificed by the gods. In the later Puranic texts, the creator god Brahma is described as performing the act of ‘creation’, or more specifically of ‘propagating life within the universe’. It is likely that this  Hiranyagarbha myth has proto-Indo-European origins, as it is similar to other myths found in the Indo-European cultures, in which the creation arises out of the dismemberment of a divine being (cf. Ymir of the Norse mythology) (Source: Jan N. Bremmer (2007). The Strange World of Human Sacrifice. Peeters Publishers. pp. 170–. ISBN 978-90-429-1843-6. Retrieved 15 December 2012).

On Vedic Cosmogony (Source: The Nagas)

The Vedas look upon the worlds – heaven, air, earth – sometimes as being constructed like a work of art, and sometimes as having derived from an organic development. Book X of the Hymns bridges the transition between the Vedic myths and the philosophical speculations of the Brahmans.

Before being and not-being there was a dark and watery chaos. Then a germ of life gifted with unity came to life by developing a sort of spontaneous heat, the ‘tapas’, which was at one and the same time heating, sweat and ascetic fervour. This principle felt and afterwards manifested the need to beget. (X, 129.).

In another explanation there was a primordial giant, a cosmic man, Purusha (the Male). The different parts of the world are his limbs, and in his unity this individual includes the first sacrificer and the first victim. (X, 90). In later metaphysics the term ‘purusha’ came to mean the spiritual principle.

In the work of creation there intervenes, with different meanings according to different traditions, the golden egg, the ‘hiranyagarbha’. Produced by the primordial waters or brought into the world by Prajapati, this embryo gave birth to the supreme god, for instance the Brahman (Satapaiha Brahmana, VI, 1, 1, 10). In this egg were the continents, the oceans, the mountains, the planets and the divisions of the universe, the gods, the demons and humanity. They say Brahma was born, which is a familiar way of saying that he manifested himself.’ (Vishnu-purana.) At the end of a thousand years the egg opened, and Brahma who emerged from it meditated and started the work of creation. Seeing that the earthwas submerged under the waters he assumed the aspect of a wild boar, dived, and lifted it up on his tusks. At this period the old Vedic divinities were relegated to an inferior rank, even Varuna and Indra who, once the essential elements of the world had been created, had contributed to the establishment of its dimensions. Brahmanism thus preserves the ancient Vedic belief, according to which the gods maintain, without instituting, the fundamental order of things.

Who are the Brahmins who own the born from the golden egg Brahmanic tradition?

” Brahmin meant originally “one possessed of Brahman” – a mysterious magical force widely known to modern anthropologists by the Melanesian word mana. The name Brahmin was given to the first specially trained priest who superintended the sacrifice. By the end of the Rig Vedic period dating 1500-1000 BC, the term was used for all members of the priestly class. Within the order there were other divisions. The Brahmins of the later Vedic period dating 900-600 BC were divided into exogamous clans that restricted matrimonial choice and dictated ritual. This system, which was copied in part by other classes, has survived to the present day. Later the Brahmin formed many associate castes, linked together by endogamy and other common practices.” — Brahmin

A 2009, genetics study concluded that “the ‘Ancestral North Indians’ (ANI), is genetically close to Middle Easterners, Central Asians, and Europeans, whereas the other, the ‘Ancestral South Indians’ (ASI), is as distinct from ANI and East Asians as they are from each other. By introducing methods that can estimate ancestry without accurate ancestral populations, we show that ANI ancestry ranges from 39-71% in most Indian groups, and is higher in traditionally upper caste and Indo-European speakers.” — Reconstructing Indian population history. Reich D, Thangaraj K, et al.; Genetics proves Indian population mixture; Genetics reveals origins of India’s caste system

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