Out of the blue, I was stuck with an old tune for the whole day. It made me Google for the folklore's complete lyrics. I was astounded that I was moved by it the same way when my mom had sung it to me when I was a kid. I googled for its English version and couldn't find a very convincing one.
Story of Punyakoti is an all time favorite among Kannadigas and is renowned to bring a positive change in the minds of people who listen to it.
I've tried to trans-narrate its story from the folklore.(Unknown author timed around 1800 AD).
There was a dense forest where a cattleman lived with a whole big herd of cows. One day Kalinga, the cattleman was playing his flute beneath a young mango tree near his cattle shed. He dearly called his cattle to draw milk. After all the cows siphoned their milk to fill his big pot, they walked graciously into the forest greens to graze. The poet says that it looked like a huge cloud gliding the skies when the herd moved. The cattle fed on the greenest grass in midst of flowered plants in the valley.
By evening they started back for their shelter. Near a tall rock within the thick forest, there lived an old tiger who was very hungry. When the herd reached the rock, tiger roared and jumped on them. Cows ran for their life and tiger couldn't chase them too far.
Punyakoti was the only cow who was late to return to its shelter. It was thinking of feeding its hungry calf and didn't notice the tiger waiting for a prey behind the rock. Arbhuta, the tiger jumped in front, was very happy that he finally got his meal and roared that he will tear her immediately and feast on her. Punyakoti gathered courage quickly and requested him to grant permission to go to its calf to feed him milk for one last time.
Arbhuta laughed aloud and asked if she believes he is a fool;Since letting his prey go is as good as setting his prey free. But the cow promised on mother earth that she will return to him once she fed her son. The tiger then let her go.
Punyakoti came to the cow shed, fed her little one. After he was full, she told about the incident in forest and her decision to go to the tiger as promised. Realizing that it would be the last time they are together, the calf wept and asked her to stay. For he wouldn't know whom to go when hungry, for he doesn't know whom to be with, for he wouldn't have his mother to sleep next to, for he doesn't know who would guide him in life. Other cows also told her not to go back to the cruel tiger.
Punyakoti still persists on her promise and tells that Truth is God to her. As she has promised the tiger, there is no turning back. She pleads her sisters and elder cows in the herd to treat her calf kindly. She asks them not to jab him or hit him if he comes near them; requests them to be nice to her soon to be orphan calf.
For one last time Punyakoti hugs her son, for he is an orphan now, and their time of being together is over.
Arbhuta is all hungry and frustrated since he let his prey runaway. He would be in no hope of her returning to him. The cow then comes to the tiger's cave and offers herself to him. She says that now she has bid goodbye to her son and is prepared to be fed to flesh.
The tiger is taken aback by her talk and thinks that he will be cursed by God if he feeds on such a truthful cow. He tells her that it would be better for him to die of hunger than to eat Punyakoti who he feels like his sister. The cow is then astonished and asks him to eat her and satiate his hunger. Arbhuta is deeply moved. With tears in his eyes, he salutes to the God and Jumps off the sharp cliff and dies.
Let the story sink in, and then decide what shakes you, The cow's truthful bravery, or the love of a calf towards his mother, or the character transformation of the tiger.
Up to you to pass it on further if the story touches you.