‘Kantara’ Deities: Panjurli And Guliga, Explained – How Are They Portrayed In The Film?

You know the film “Kantara” has taken a turn for the unexpected when the “shehnai” makes you clap at the end. One of the most important aspects in the film about Indian folklore revolving around Daiva and Deity is the music. When it comes to blending post-rock and classical Indian music, B. Ajaneesh Loknath did a commendable job which cannot be ignored. The score plays a very important role in amplifying and delivering all the suspenseful moments that make it better than the rest. Here in the article about “Kantara” Deities and folklore explanation, we will discuss the depiction of religious figures, Panjurli and Guliga, in the film. The question here is, which God possessed Shiva at the end of the movie? The answer is known to all. But let’s not jump ahead. Let’s start with the King’s story, the time when the first deity was introduced.


The story of the King takes place in the middle of the 1800s, when even after serving his men with great tenderness, the King found no peace at all. He was an ideal king by all means. However, he could not find any peace whatsoever. So, what did he do? He went to a saint who told him that the King lacked the blessing of his parents and that he must go on a voyage to seek it. The King left his men in search of his parents’ blessing. Later, he confronted a simple stone worshiped by the villagers. He had found his peace simply by looking at the stone, so he asked the villagers to give the stone to him, and, in return, they could ask for anything. Right at that moment, the God residing within the stone, Panjurli, possessed one of the villagers and made a deal with the King. The God screamed, looking up at the sky, and asked the King to donate all the land to the villagers till which his cry could be heard. However, he also said that if the King ever deceived the villagers, the God Panjurli would take his ‘Ugrarupa Guliga’ (the vicious form is Guliga) and would do anything to protect the villagers. However, the King obeyed God’s will and never deceived the villagers, as he only desired peace.

But, in 1970, when a king’s descendant came to seize the lands, claiming that these lands never really belonged to the villagers, some terrible events took place. The villagers had a custom called ‘Yakshagana,’ where they used to perform some theatricals. There Shiva’s father was possessed by Panjurli. It was a regular phenomenon for the villagers. The lineage of Shiva’s family proceeded with the Buta Kola festival, where God possessed their bodies for a while and blessed the villagers. Now, the descendant of the King talked to Shiva’s father while Panjurli possessed his body. When he demanded Shiva’s father to ask the villagers to return the lands, Panjurli decided to call his vicious form Guliga. So, he ran into the dense forest, and reaching a particular spot, he faced the moon and screamed. Then Shiva’s father disappeared, leaving behind a fiery circle. The villagers followed Shiva’s father until the moment he disappeared and reached that spot. In the beginning, only Shiva could be seen entering the area. The theory here is that the Guliga deity had already possessed Shiva’s body at that moment. 


How Can We Prove That Shiva Was Possessed All Along?

Well, for one thing, according to the tales from the ancient past, when Guliga came scorching out of her mother’s stomach, he felt hungry. He used to get attracted to everything and started eating. It is also said that he even drained Lord Vishnu’s Lake and ate all the fish. Here in “Kantara,” we see Shiva always having a craving for fish. He even brought fish to his mother or Leela to cook for him. Apart from this, he had more enhanced senses than any ordinary man. Even if we ignore this, whenever the villagers felt threatened, he acted like a protector to them. Also, he used to get very angry when the protection of villagers was concerned. Another minor detail that is worth mentioning here is that Shiva loves to spend time in his tree house. Now, it is somewhere resting in the middle of the land and sky. Some stories also suggest that Guliga loved to eat animals. Shiva too often hunted boars and ate them. So, there are a lot of signs that he was controlled by Guliga since the day his father disappeared.

What Caused The Nightmares? How Did Guliga Come To Act?

When Shiva was thrown away and smashed his head on the stone, he perhaps died. Until now, Shiva used to have nightmares about being chased by wild boars in the dense forest. He also had some glimpses of the night when his father went missing and left the fiery circle. Dreams have their own way of showing us what we don’t know. Shiva’s dreams came together to remind him who he actually was. Even when Guruva was murdered, he too came into one of Shiva’s nightmares with bloody tears. It was basically Lord Panjurli who was seeking help from Lord Guliga. Since Panjurli had kept his vicious form hidden for so long, he perhaps failed to notice Guliga. This was the reason why the nightmares always arrived to remind Shiva or Lord Guliga of the task that lay ahead, i.e., the protection of the villagers.


Every time in his nightmares, Shiva used to run away from a certain wild boar wearing all the jewelry like Lord Panjurli. The nightmare also denotes that Panjurli was seeking help on behalf of the villagers to Guliga. But, as Shiva was running away from the boar in those nightmares, Panjurli failed to confront Guliga. To access his vicious form, Guliga had to be confronted by Panjurli and it was only possible through those nightmares where Shiva won’t be running away from the wild boar but run towards it. According to legends, Guliga and Panjurli are two different gods who had a big fight. However, later, when Seven Jala Durgas interfered and calmed them down, they started living as siblings, respecting each other. ‘Kantara’ had avoided the details but kept the subtlety of the confrontation between Panjurli and Guliga. Shiva had already confronted his nightmare; in other words, Guliga had confronted Panjurli, and Guliga now understood his responsibility. So, when Shiva died (perhaps), Lord Guliga completely took over his body and killed everyone in order to protect the villagers.

How Can We Be Sure That Shiva Is Dead?

At the end of “Kantara” the dance gestures of Shiva reveal some interesting points. One of which is that he was suggesting that he or Lord Guliga was placing the forest officer, Murali, as the protector of the village. Also, he asked the villagers to take care of their protectors. In between, he also asked Murali to either take care of Shiva’s unborn child or make him the protector once he was of age. Anyway, if Shiva was not dead, he would have had no reason to leave the village. Since it was Lord Guliga who was keeping hold of Shiva’s body, he had to leave. He listened to the voice of his different form, Lord Panjurli, from the forest. He ran towards it, and once again, Lord Panjurli and Lord Guliga confronted each other. After offering each other a significant amount of respect, they vanished together. It can be assumed that Leela and Shiva’s son was carrying the blessings of Lord Guliga as Shiva was always possessed by him from the very beginning. It was until the very ending, when Lord Guliga awakened within him and right after Shiva’s death, he took over his body.


See more: ‘Kantara’ Ending, Explained: Why Does Shiva Embrace Guliga?

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Shovan Roy
Shovan Roy
Shovan Roy is a creative content writer. Formerly he used to write film reviews on an international film festival website named Beyond the Curve International Film Festival. He also interviewed global directors. He also interviewed one of the characters from the show 'Trailer Park Boys', Mr. Bernard Robichaud, platformed in Netflix. Shovan tends to write through the third person narrative and he loves to do psychoanalysis. He can't say that he has mastered it but that is some sort of hobby of his. Film is a platform where he loves to spend most of his time learning.

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