Princes of Ayodhya and the Korean King

King Korea 2015

It all started with a dream. A princess in Ayodhya dreamt of a handsome king who wanted to marry her. Thousands of miles apart, across the sea, a king also had the same dream. The princess dared. Travelling a thousand miles from the holy city she reached the shore and set sail on a boat with her brother and a retinue of servants. She carried a potted plant of tea and a magic stone that could tame storms and help her weather rough sea. The journey was long. It took her three months to reach Gimhae( call it Kimhae, if you like, since in Korean there are no separate sounds for Ka, Kha, Ga and Gha) in Korea in AD 48. Princes Suri Ratna was 16 years old when she reached Gimhae in Korea.

King Kim Su-rohad already had a premonition about the arrival of the princess. He sent his people to the shore to watch out. On the horizon, they saw a boat with red sail approaching the shore. The King’s messengers asked Suri Ratnato come to the royal palace which she refused. How can she go with strangers? King Kim Su-rowas the man of her dream but it was still inappropriate to go to him without rituals of union being performed. The king understood and pitched a tent for her on the hill slope close to his palace. Today, at that spot stands the Chimpungtapor wind calming pagoda built by Kim Suro in the memory of the princess who carried with her the stone that could calm the storms. After the marriage, Suri Ratna(the Sun-jewel) took the name Hwang Okor Yellow jade.

The royal couple had ten sons and two daughters. According to the legend, King Kim Su-ro bestowed the maiden surname of Suri Ratna, as translated into Korean- Huh, Heo or Hoon, on her two sons. The remaining eight sons got the surname of father. Both the clans exist in Korea even today. Marriage between the two clans was forbidden till about a hundred years ago as they consider themselves to be brothers and sisters. Thus was founded the Karak clan from the descendants of Queen Suri Ratnaand King Kim Su-ro. Today, after 77 generations, more than 60 lakh people with surnames Kim or Huh, Heo or Hoon claim to belong to this clan in the Korean population of 5 crore.

The pasa stones were red stones from India used to appease the sea gods during her voyage, and later erected in the palace. Enter a caption
Search for one’s roots is a powerful motivation. Many people in Korea look at Ayodhya as their mother city. It brought the national archaeologist of Korea from Hanyang University Prof. Byung Mo Kimto Ayodhya five times. In 2004, the South Korean government declared Ayodhya as the sister city of Korea. A monument was also set up in Ayodhya to mark the connection between Ayodhya and Korea. Interestingly, the gate of the royal tomb of King Kim Suroin Gimhae city of Korea is decorated with the twin-fish symbol which is also the state symbol of Uttar Pradesh. Does it provide some historical clue to the story of Suri Ratnaand Kim Su-ro?

The story of the princess from the kingdom of Ayuta, a distant kingdom across the sea, is found in Samguk Yusa which is a 13th century collection of fables and historical accounts connected to the three Kingdoms of Korea. According to Samguk Yusa princess Heo arrived in Korea as a 16-year-old in 48 CE. She married King Suro and is regarded as the first Queen of Geumgwan Gaya. The name Suri Ratna does not find mention in the text and some people claim that the current Tamil Nadu was the ‘Ayuta’ kingdom referred in the Yusa.

Perhaps it is a true story. May be it is a myth. Be that as it may, it does not take away my excitement to imagine that more than 2000 years ago, the love of a woman proved stronger than the rough seas and joined two distant lands into an unbreakable bond. While I regretted not going to Gimhae, I remembered that the princely state of Darbhanga too has the twin fish as its royal insignia. Was there a Suri Ratna in Darbhanga too, my birth place?

(Part of the blog https://wordpress.com/post/hyphen.blog/9)

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