देशेस्मिन् बहवो कवयः आध्यात्मिकाः विद्वांसः चित्रनाट्यशिल्पकलाकोविदाः आसन्निति वयं जानीमहे। किन्तु श्रेष्ठाभियन्तारोऽप्यासन्निति बहवो जनाः न जानन्ति। अस्मिन् लेखे नवमशतमानकाश्मीरस्याभियन्तारत्नम् सुय्यं परिचेतुकामोऽस्मि।
सुय्यस्य जन्मवृत्तान्तः अस्पष्टः वर्तते। अस्य मातापितरौ अव्यक्तौ। कल्हणप्रकारेण बालसुय्यं म़ृद्भाण्डे पूयानाम्नी चन्डाली अन्वपश्यत्। तं पालयित्वा अक्षरविद्याशिक्षणव्यवस्थामप्यकरोत्। एतन्निदर्शनात् वयं शूद्राः चण्डालाः अपि प्राचीनभारते अक्षरविद्याशिक्षणं अवाप्नुुवन्निति पश्यामः।
तस्मिन् काले, यदा उत्पलवंशसंस्थापको अवन्तिवर्मा काश्मीरदेशस्य राजा आसीत् महान् दुर्भिक्षोऽभूत् तदा। धान्यखारीमूल्यं दीन्नारसहस्रपञ्चाशदधिकं अभूदिति कल्हणः ब्रूते।
दीन्नाराणां दशशति प़ञ्चाशदाधिकाभवत्।
धान्यखारीक्रये हेतुर्देशे दुर्भिक्षविक्षिते॥ (5:71)
तस्मिन् अकाले सुय़्यस्तु तद्दुर्भिक्षं निवरयितुम् तस्य विद्यासामर्थ्यं तथा अर्थहीनतां प्राकटयत्। तां वार्तां श्रुत्वा किंकर्तव्यतामूढराज्ञः पुरतः भटाः सुय्यमानयन्। यदा राजा तानि वचनान्यश्रुणोत्, तदा सुय्यं उन्मत्त इति शशङ्के, तथापि तं स्वयार्जितं हेम प्रादात् न कोशात्। सुय्यस्तु तद्हेम नीत्वा मडवराज्यसमीपे नन्दकग्रामे नावात् दीन्नारभाण्डमेकं नदसलिले न्यक्षिपत्। तद्कर्म दृष्ट्वा अमात्याः तं नूनं वातुल इति न्यश्चिन्वन् किन्तु राजा तं कानिचिद्दिनानि निशामयतुकामः न निवव्रे। तस्मिन्नेव काले सुय्यः क्रमराज्यं गत्वा यक्षधराभिधानस्थलं गत्वा
दीन्नारान् अञ्जलिभ्यां तोये न्यक्षिपत्। क्रमराज्ये वितस्तानद्याः पन्थानं तीरद्वयालम्बितात् शैलान्निर्लुठिताः शिलाः प्रत्युहतिस्म। दुर्भिक्षोपहताः ग्राम्याः दीन्नारान्वेषणाय तान् शिलाः प्रवाहादुद्धत्य वितस्ताम् समशोधयन्। एवं कल्हणप्रकारे सुय्यः द्वित्राणि दिनेषु तां समस्यां परिजहार।
एवं दिनानि द्वित्राणि पयो युक्त्या विकृष्य तत्।
वितस्तामेकतः स्थानात् कर्मकृद्भिरबन्धयत्॥ (5:90)
सप्ताहे सुय्यः अपरे कृतकपाषाणसेतुना ताः हिमालयनद्यः बबन्ध।
सप्ताहमभवद्बद्धाः निखिना नीलजा सरित्॥ (5:91)
हिमालयनद्यः निरोधेन सोत्कण्ठिताः इव बभूवुः। तद्दिशि निरोधात् नद्यः जवात् सागरं प्रति प्रावर्तन्त। कालक्रमेण शाश्वतं बन्धं निर्ममे। एतद्रुपं कृतकबन्धात् शाश्वतबन्धपरिवर्तनसंविधानः अवर्ततेति निश्चयो भवति। सुय्यस्य महत्कार्येण वितस्तायाः प्रवाहाः सर्वत्र नूतनवर्त्मनि अस्रवन्। वितस्तासरित् तदा एकस्रोतस्थाने बहुस्रोतेषु अस्रवत्। श्रीनगरस्य बहुस्रोताः अवन्तिवर्मणः कालात् इदानीमपि वर्तन्तेत्यहं शङ्के।
वैन्यस्वामिनः देवालयान्तिके वामेन सिन्धुसरित् दक्षिणेन वितस्तानदी समगंसातां सस्रावतुः। एते नद्योः समागमस्थाने फलपुरपरिहासपुरौ सुय्येण व्यरचितौ तथा संगमे विष्णुस्वामिनः च तीरे वैन्यस्वामिनः देवालयोः आर्चत् । कल्हणः ते नगरे देवालये च राजतरङ्गिण्यां व्यवृणोत्।
विष्णुस्वामीसंगमस्य वैन्यस्वामी च तीरयोः॥ (5:99)
यौगशायीहृषीकेशः सुय्यस्याभ्यर्चितस्तटे॥ (5:100)
सुय्यः वितस्तानद्याः स्रोतं नियन्त्रयामास तथा सप्तयोजनेभ्यः वितस्तां बद्ध्वा महापद्मसरसे निर्दिदेश।
स्फुरत्तरङ्गजिह्वाः स नदीमार्गमजिग्रहत्।
तास्ताः स्वेच्छानुसारेण मान्त्रिकाः पन्नगीरिव॥ (5:102)
बद्ध्वा शैलमयान्सेतून् वितस्तां सप्तयोजनीम्।
महापद्मसरोवारि स चकार नियन्त्रितम्॥ (5:103)
आदिवराहवत् सुय्यः सलिलात् उर्वीमुद्धृत्य तेन वारिणा नवग्रामान् चकार। तोयं ग्रामपालीषु संरोध्य कृषिकेभ्यःवर्षपूर्णसलिलोपलभ्यतां न्यश्चिनोत्। मृत्तिकागुणान् परीक्ष्य ग्रामेभ्यः विभक्तवारि संविभेजे तथा लाङ्गलिकेभ्यः सस्येभ्यः सलिलवितरणक्रमं अपाठयित्वा काश्मीरदेशं तन्डुलमयमकरोत्। न बलरामो न कश्यपो काश्मीरं सुय्यवत् उपाकुरुतामिति कल्हणः अभिप्रैति। जलात् भूमेः उद्धारं कृत्वा द्विजेभ्यः सुय्यः हेमादात् तथा पुण्यमार्जत्। सुय्यः काश्मीरे सस्यसमृद्धिना महा सुभिक्षं संसृष्ट्य धान्यखारीक्रयमौल्यं द्विशतात् अभूतपूर्व षड्त्रिंशददीन्नीरेभ्यः आनायि। स्वनाम्नि अमरनगरसमानपुरीं चकार, तथा द्विजेभ्यः सुय्यकुण्डलनामानं ग्रामं दत्वा तं राजधान्यै सुय्यसेतुना बबन्ध। न केवलं प्रजाः सुय्येनोपकृताः किन्तु अनेकजलाण्डजाः अपि महापद्मसरसि सुरक्षितनिवासस्य़ानं संप्रापुः।
कल्हणः सुय्यमेवं प्रशंसति।
अवन्तिनर्णणः पुण्यैर्जन्तूञ्जीवयितुं ततः।
स्वयमन्नपतिः श्रीमान्सुय्यः क्षितिमवातरत्॥ (5:72)
The Forgotten Kashmiri Engineer – Suyya
It is well recognised that there have been many poets, philosophers, scholars, painters, sculptors, and dramatists in our country. However, fewer people know that there have been great engineers too. In this article, we shall examine the career of the ninth century Kashmiri engineering genius, Suyya.
Suyya’s birth is shrouded in mystery, nor are his biological parents known. According to Kalhana, the young Suyya was found in an earthern jar by a Dalit woman named Pooya. She cared for him and arranged for his education in the art of letters. From this example, we can see that most people were educated in the art of letters in ancient India.
At that time, during the reign of Avantivarman, the founder of the Utpala dynasty, there was a great famine. Kalhana narrates that the price of one khari1 of grain rose to more than one thousand and fifty dinars.
More than ten hundreds and fifty dinars became
The price of grain in this land stricken by drought (5:71)
Suyya went about everywhere during the draught, stating that he had the ability to stop the draught, but unfortunately, no money to do so. Hearing that, the soldiers of the king who was at a loss on how to ward off the famine, produced him before the king. Hearing his words, the king suspected Suyya of being a madman, but nevertheless, to test his words, gave him some of his own money. Suyya took a vessel full of gold and from a boat, tossed it into the waters of the Jhelum near Nandakagrama in Madavarajya. Seeing that, all the courtiers and ministers were convinced that Suyya was a madman, but the king held back, desiring to observe him for some more time. At the same time, Suyya went to the place called Yakshadhara in Kramarajya and threw fistfuls of gold into the waters of the Jhelum. The course of the river was impinged upon by rocks that had rolled down the mountains on the very edge of the rivers and in consequence, the river’s flow was very uneven and rough. Seeing that gold was being thrown into the waters, the people of the villages removed those rocks to get at the gold, and in the process, cleared the course of the river of its obstacles, with the result that the river began to flow more evenly and cleanly.
Thus in two or three days, the waters were cleverly drawn by him (Suyya)
The Vitasta (Jhelum) was united in one place and the course streamlined by him (5:90)
With temporary stone supports, Suyya streamlined the course of the Himalayan rivers in a week.
With stone supports, owing to the great work of Suyya
Within a week, all the Himalayan rivers were constrained/streamlined by him. (5:92)
The blocking of the channels of the rivers had choked them for a long time. With the obstacles removed, they now flowed clearly towards the sea. By containing their flow, Suyya was able to control the waters. In time, he replaced the temporary supports with permanent stone structures that would stand the test of time. It becomes clear that using temporary structures, and then replacing them with permanent ones was a technique well known in the days of Suyya. Suyya also controlled the flow of the Jhelum and made the river flow in multiple channels and canals, providing water for the villages. Based on the multiple channels mentioned, I suspect that the canals of Srinagar date to his time.
Near the temple of Vainyaswamin, from the left flowed Sindhu2, and from the right flowed Vitasta and they united there. Suyya created/rejuvenated the cities of Phalapura and Parihasapura on either bank at their confluence. At the confluence (presumably on an island), Suyya had a temple to Vishnuswamin constructed and resurrected the temple of Vainyaswamin on the bank and worshipped in those temples. Kalhana describes the two cities (Phalapura and Parihasapura) thus
Even today, in the cities of Phalapura and Parihasapura stand
The temples of Visnhuswamin at the confluence, and Vainyaswamin on the shore. (5:99)
With great mansions on the banks of the rivers,
Hrishikesha in his Yoganidra was worshipped by Suyya (5:100)
Suyya built a stone embankment of seven yojanas3 on the Vitasta and re-directed a part of the river to the Mahapadma (Wular) lake. Kalhana describes it thus
With the tongues of the waves sprouting in all channels, he controlled the flow of the river
As the snake charmers control a snake according to their will. (5:102)
He regulated the currents of the Vitasta for a distance of 7 yojanas
And redirecting the waters into the Mahapadma lake, he contained the flow of the river. (5:103)
Like Adivaraha lifting the earth from the seas, by regulating the flow of water, Suyya raised several villages that had been submerged and rejuvenated them. By directing the water into village lakes and tanks, he ensured the availability of water throughout the entire year for farmers. He tested the soil for water retention properties and based on these properties and the crops grown, he ensured the supply of water to these regions. He also taught the farmers how to conserve water and how to utilise it carefully for crops and with this knowledge, converted Kashmir into a granary of rice. Kalhana opines that neither Balarama, or Kashyapa had done as much for Kashmir as Suyya did. Some of the newly recovered lands were donated to Brahmins by Suyya. By turning the famine into a time of plenty, with greenery everywhere, Suyya reduced the price of grain from two hundred dinars to an unprecedented thirty six dinars for one khari. Suyya, in his own name, created a divinely beautiful city and gave a village named Suyyakundala to Brahmins. The capital city and the village he donated were connected by the Suyya stone bridge across the Vitasta. Not only were people benefited, but in the lakes he created or resurrected, many water birds found comfortable homes.
Kalhana praises Suyya thus:
Due to the merits of Avantivarman, and to rejuvenate all living beings
The very Annapati descended on earth in the form of Suyya (5:72)
1A measure of weight, approximately one quintal.
2This Sindhu is not the river Indus. It is a river specific to the Kashmir valley, since it mentions that Sindhu and Vitasta united near Parihasapura well within the Kashmir valley.
3Yojana is a measure of distance. It has been variously interpreted as either 1 yojana = ~8kms or 13kms.