Folk Tales of Gujarat (and Jhaverchand Meghani)

by Vandana P. Soni | 2014 | 98,532 words

This study represents an English translation of the Gujarat Folk tales composed by Gujarati poet Jhaverchand Meghani (1896-1947). Meghani was born in Chotila and left an important landmark on the history of Saurashtra and Gujarat folklore, Indian poetry, journalism and other literary sciences....

Chapter 1 - Anu Nam Te Dhani

There were the days of New Year around Diwali. In a thrashing place of the village Vadod, the heaps of reaped harvests were lying ready. Daughters and daughter in laws of Jaga Patel while sowing seeds were dreaming of receiving new clothes and new ornaments. Cold breeze was blowing. Pearl like water drops were raining on the soil and hem of chundadi of women harvest reaper were fluttering.

In winter sun, bright, thick granules of millet were laid in a thrashing place. Jaga Patel stared at the pile of his own millet. This green millet grew so abundantly that Jaga Patel could not embrace its vastness in one glance. In the early morning, Jaga Patel’s sinful motive overpowered his mind.

He pondered, ‘oh ho ho ho; we exhaust ourselves by doing hard work. Our brothers toiled hard. This millet grew after our persistent hard work; and without any reason by doing nothing the royal court will take its land revenue.’

He stopped for a while and once again he glanced at the crop of millet. Once again his intrigue was exposed; he muttered: ‘Let me hoard one cart, full with millet at home so, at least that much may remain completely in my possession and it cannot be dragged away as land revenue.’

At midnight, Patel with his brother and fellowmen filled the cart with millet. As Brahmins eat voraciously without caring a fig for their digestion at the religious ceremony performed on someone’s death anniversary; similarly in greed Jaga Patel overloaded the cart with millet and started towards home. His fellow man was driving cart, he was leading ahead of cart and his brother was walking behind. As the border of the village came near, axis of the cart came out of the wheel due to excessive weight and the wheel of the cart stopped rolling. Jago Patel got perplexed. All the three did collaborative efforts but they could not lift the cart. As it was thievery of master’s share so he could not call any one for help otherwise his fraud might get exposed; furthermore the thrashing place was very far so it was not feasible to unload the cart. Now, Jaga Patel was put in such a difficult situation that neither he could leave the problem nor could he solve the problem. Jaga Patel was worried that soon there will be morning and lest in the day light he might be disgraced. So in fear Jaga Patel started to look out for a passer by. In middle of that, coincidently due to god’s wish, the ruler whose harvest was stolen that Gaja bhai Gohil himself by carrying water pot in his hand, as per his daily routine of going in the forest in the morning passed from the place where Jaga Patel’s cart was stuck. As it was biting cold the ruler had covered his face with cloth, only his eyes glittered.

A needy man is sans reason same was the condition of Jaga Patel. As the ruler passed by the cart of Jaga Patel, by assuming him as a common wayfarer Patel took it for granted that as the man was a stranger; villagers could not smell a rat that he was secretly taking millet to his home. By thinking so he quickly yelled, ‘Hey, Young man, please help in repairing this cart.’

As it was pitch dark and the whole face of the traveler was covered so Jaga Patel could not identify the Ruler but the Ruler identified Jaga Patel. The Ruler understood the whole matter that, ‘as Jaga Patel did not want to give millet as share of land revenue he was stealthily carrying millet by loading it in the cart.’ The Ruler thought that if his identity would be revealed then man like Jaga Patel would feel embarrassment so inorder to keep himself unidentified the Ruler kept his face down and helped in lifting the wheel of cart by giving support. Patel after fitting pivot in the wheel became happy and drove his cart in the direction of his house.

‘Ok, no problem, these poor people earn after enduring heat and cold during day and night. Nothing is wrong if they become ill intentioned on seeing the growth of good grain. After all they are our people,’ thinking so the Ruler went away.

Six months passed after this event. Generous Ruler did not remember this event. Once guests arrived in the royal court, peons went to the house of Jaga Patel to bring cot and mattress for guests. Patel argued, so peon talked unpleasantly with Jaga Patel. Patel became angry and in rage he said; ‘I do not want to stay in the village of such Ruler’

Peon bluntly replied, “Why are you lying here? Don‘t you get other place to stay? Go away.”

Jaga Patel felt rage from top to bottom. Being disappointed Jaga Patel packed luggage in the cart at night. The Ruler was unaware of this event. Next day, when the Ruler was sitting at the gate by helding a meeting; at that time, Jaga Patel along with their children, furniture and cattle passed by the gate with loaded cart. People of the village tried to persuade but Patel became more and more adamant. When the Ruler came to knew he got down from the platform and persuaded Patel and asked the reason. Jaga Patel angrily said, “The Ruler, two three mattresses that our daughter in law bring as a gift during their arrival for the first time from parental house to inlaws‘house that also we give in the royal court and we let ourselves shiver in cold; in spite of that your ordinary peon frighten us and scold us, we cannot do away with this.”

The Ruler with a great patience understood the whole matter. He felt very sorry. He punished his peon and told Patel that, “You are just like our golden tree. Please forgive us and turn back.”

Jaga Patel did not consider anybody’s request. So the Ruler went close to Jaga Patel and told in his ear, “Patel, if you want to go then you can go but find out another master who could give support to your cart. Ok.”

After saying so, the Ruler went away but here Patel felt very severe quack from head to feet. Patel could not speak anything, but he exclaimed, ‘This is called the real Master’. “The master whose share I had stolen that same master helped me in my thievery and did not scold me even in secret with a thought that I may get embarrassed. Where could I find such noble Master?” Thinking so Patel turned his carts back.

His descendants still stay in the same village. This event happened before seven and half decades.

[ The same incident happened in the Bha Kumbhaji’s royal court in Gondal.]

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