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....
[The explanation of the Mer dialect used in the present folktale is given at the end of the story.]
At dusk, around sunset, quickly riding his own bulls, one-farmer cart driver entered into the gate of the village Sisli in Barda region. His name was Natho; he was the Mer of Modhvada. He was earning his bread by tilling land. In physique, he was dwarfish and in appearance, he looked very stupid, uncivilised and his language was very blunt.
Uncast rated oxen of the herd were continuously striking their heads to the young calves, and, whipping bullocks with a long stick having metallic end; Natho safely and soundly carried the cart in one street. By stopping, the cart in a big compound Natho leaped and went to the lobby by keeping a sixteen feet long rope dangling on the head of a young bull.
On seeing Natheo, one middle aged Merani came out and blessed him.
“What is the problem Fuy? Why did you call me? I had to come back by leaving aside my saplings of wheat unattended. By tomorrow all the crop will burn. What a big urgency you had?”
“Yes, brother, your wheat sowing process is getting delayed and here my children are crying without spoonful of milk, and, all these I have to bear in spite of having violent and mighty nephew. Had my brother Vashiyang been alive; then he would have swiftly reached here to help by remembering all his pangs of birth.”
“But, why are you taunting me so much? At least tell me what happened?”
“What to say? What could I do, if I do not turn sarcastic? 5 kundhiyu, 5 nav chandariyu, totally 10 milching buffaloes are driven away by wily men.”
“They were grazing near the mountain from there.”
“Who have driven them out?”
“People of Jam: bad mannered Ayars of Dhanturiya.”
“Ok, then in such simple matter, why are you mentioning name of my father Vashiyang? Right now I will bring them back.”
“On saying so, by holding stick having a metallic end, Natho stepped down from the lobby. At that moment, Fui made a call, Natha please do not go at this time. Do not go very late, take dinner and go after moon rise.”
“No, no, now I will eat only after the arrival of buffaloes.”
After saying so, alike a butterfly, Natho swiftly flew on the cart. Oxes were standing in the house. Even their yoke strap was neither laced nor loose. By pulling, the string which had a tassel; Natho started by making gurgling sound. As he put his hand very lightly on the back of bullocks then as a ship sails against the wind under the average levelled water similarly with the same speed bullocks started. By kicking off cloud of dust like a cannon ball, the cart rolled on with a thundering sound.
Very soon reaching at the village Raval on the border of Jamnagar, Natho stopped.
Natho went to police station. Whomsoever he met, he asked them “Brother, my fui’s 10 buffaloes-5 Kundhiyu, and 5 navchandariyu....”
His sentence remained incomplete; without answering him, the people at the police station went away frowning at him. Hungry and thirsty Natho kept inquiring throughout night. He did not have single bread and his bullock did not get a single blade of grass. His mind could focuss on no other matter except inquiring about buffaloes to everyone. All misguided him. Finally, he went to the government officer.
“Hey, who are you? Government officer angrily roared.”
“My, Fui’s buffaloes- 5 kundhiyu, 5...”
“Your Fui is not the chief wife of Jamnagar’s king. Do you have any sense or not? Without asking anyone, how can you enter into stranger’s house early morning? Stand outside.”
“But, my fui’s children are without food...”
“Hey knavish, you get out: great keeper of the king.”
“Oh, grateful man, why are you abusing me? I have just come to appeal you.”
Mer always addresses rudely by using second person singular pronoun whether he is rich or poor. But one thing should be taken into consideration that while using a rude address they always speaks as helpless. Without being aware of this colloquial habit, the government officer lost his temper and he knocked Natho down from high verandah. Those people who were present they started laughing at the cleverness of the officer and on the meanness of Natha. Natho got up after tumbling down and dusted his clothes.
“Ok, Sahib, Ram Ram!” on saying so Natho boarded in his cart and went away. People of the village informed him that all the ten buffaloes had been driven away to Ranpar by
Ayers. Natho drove his cart over Ranpur. Directly he went to the police station of Ranpar. There also officer answered sharply like a blow of spear.‖ Your fui’s buffaloes, yes, recently the king built a fort in which horns of buffaloes were cemented by mistake. So did you understand? Now could anyone, knock down erectd fort for your buffaloes?‖
“No, sahib, do not break the fort, get it double constructed. Now I will settle my deal with the King.”
“Oh my son...! How will you go against law?”
Sitting close by one Ayer said: “Yes, yes sir, his grandfather Kandho Mer also went out for outlawry and his father Vashiyang also challenged our state. Once he carried the cart loaded fully with grass from Ashiyawadar, so one day one monopoly holder forfeited his cart.”
“My father took the grass from the uncultivated and unused land and not from somebody’s farm,” innocent Natho even after 50 years of his father’s death defended his father.
“Oh ho ho, then the valiant man of the second generation would turn the state topsyturvy, won‘t he?”
On hearing this, Natho went to Bhavnagar then went to Jamnagar. As he did not know how and what to speak more; so he spoke broken sentences in Mer language like... “My fui’s buffaloes, 5 kundhiyu, 5 Navchandariyu....”
Natha Mer the farmer of Modhvada village, which was under the rule of majestic, Porbandar had no place to stand in the city. On the bank of Rangmati; he left hungry bullocks to graze whole night and later on by making, them drink water of Roopmati; he drove away the cart. While driving the cart he looked back on the indented construction on the edge of a fortress. As if, tartegetting to break the indented construction with his own eyes; with that much harshness he started to observe the constructed articheture with severe vision.
Once again, desperately he came at the border of the village Ranpar. It was scorching heat. Farmers by leaving ploughs aside went here and there. Only two cowboys were grazing a herd of the buffaloes of the village. Around 100 elephant like buffaloes, namely Bhagri, Kundhi, Navchandari etc. on over hearing peculiar hollow sound concentrated their attention and stretched their neck. Cowherds got up by holding the stick. Meanwhile
Natho reached very closely by pulling the cart and he challenged, “Oh Cow herds whose property are these?”
“It belongs to Ranpar.”
“Do you know that my fui’s children are sleeping without eating anything?”
“Then, what to do?”
“Even I had no food since three days. Today by drinking milk of these buffaloes I will break my fast and would take meal after reaching Sisli.”
“Eat food by drinking urine of buffaloes. See this boy has come to milk buffaloes of the king.”
“Are you presenting forth the property quietly in front of me or should I drive them away?”
“Move out, move out, you stupid man.”
“Do you want to understand by any means or not?”
“See then, with the stroke of this single stick; your skull will be slashed.”
“Ok, let us test whether those two sticks are bigger or this goad is bigger.”
On saying, so by flinging string on the back of bullock Natho jumped down only one inch. On running, he started to assault with a goad. Before Rabari take sticks in hand, Natho dislocated the right elbow of both. After consistent brawl, he made two mountains like stalwart shepherds lying on the floor. By painting the whole cart, he let it run down on the track of Sisli. He drove away bullocks behind it. By making them run, he carried away 100 buffaloes. It was dusk and during the time of sunset, he entered into entrance gate of Sisli. Hundred buffaloes walked hastily. People of Sisli were awed to see this sight. Natho on reaching the door of low roofed house gave a call, ‘Fui, build a fence.
Fui came out. Blessing him she said, “May, god bless you, my Vashiyang’ son. Son, why are these small buffaloes?”
“Fui, I did not find your buffalo but you can milk any one whichever your mind agrees.”
“Oh, my god! This is to cut the tail of Snake. You initiated enemity against the king.”
“You do not worry; I am alive to answer the king. Right now, you immediately serve food to me. Since three days I am hungry. Bring fast, the pot full milk by milking any one from these hundred navchandariyu buffalo and place in front of me. Make two good shaped hot Rotla. Today I want to eat by emitting out my whole grudge against the king.”
Fui of Natha by getting frightened got up, “Aree, Mara Bap, are you not afraid? Right now one will see the spears of the army of the king, so instantaneously you go away.”
“Oh, no, no, no I will not go away without taking my meal. If you are afraid of keeping thief in your house then, I will go away hungry and thirsty.”
Rotla were prepared and buffalo of the King were milked. Natho gulped two thick layered Rotla made of fresh green millet. After belching, Natho said, “Ok, fui I am going. If soldiers of King come and even touch the peg of buffalo then just tell them that I would thrash out their heads by handpicking them.”
Natho came out by driving bulls. So the man standing on the raised platform on the plain on the extremity of village Sisli said, “Farmer, the whole army is coming here, they would not remain without encountering you.”
“By getting up from the cart, Natha pointed out his hand towards the raised platform and said, ―Don‘t worry brother, please bring your sword. Tomorrow I will return it you. One sword is enough for me.”
The man standing on the raised platform lent the sword to Natho. By taking it, Natho started and on reaching on the extremity of the border of the village, he stopped his cart and stood there. In the meantime, the riders came by holding huge sky touching long spears. Natha shouted from far that horses would suffer and I am standing here by waiting for you and even in any case do ever my bulls allow you to reach.‖
Natho got down by taking a single sword; He lashed down seven riders. Therefore, other attacks were automatically retreated. People started to talk, ‘This is very much miraculous.’
“We accurately made many deadly blows but not a single one was successful.”
“Buddho Bavo is one mendicant. During his childhood, Natha did lot of service of him, so Bavo got pleased and he bestowed two things: one sword made of horn of fox and other Molvel. Natho got both these things inbuilt in his body by splitting his thigh and later on got them stitched. Since that time, Natho never got injured either with the hit of the sword or with the bullet of the gun.”
“Tomorrow onwards he would go for outlawry and he would slaughter us.”
“Son, Malde, take this stick for handling cattle. I am giving you the responsibility of your mother’s credit in your hand. Do not wait for me. I want to measure the capability of the King. Therefore, I bid you Ram, Ram. Modhvadiya brothers, please tell all comrades to provide me tiffin box near the Pole Panne. Do you know? ‘Me’ mean how many persons? Two hundred Makrani and one myself; it means tiffin for people numbering two hundred and one. Send tiffin thrice a day. Otherwise I will destroy heads of Mer.”
By hiring two hundred Makrani, on the wage of 30, Natho climbed up the mountain Bardo by carrying flags of outlaws. At the Pole Panne with his smallest finger, he made trident with his blood and in this way, he made house warming of his dwelling as an out-law.
There is one cave named as Polo Panno. It seems that it had naturally come into existence; in the Barda Mountain especially for outlaws to rest there. This Bardo Mountain starting from the border of the village Ranavav looked like spinal cord of Mother Earth; sometimes early in the morning it looked as colossal Lord Shiva sleeping by enveloping itself and by spreading its massive range; it lies between the border of
Porbandar and Nagar. Even Abhparo Mountain telling incredible tales of love and heroism to the sky still exists there. Shrines of Ghumali still exist in scattered form and ruined condition. Tears of son of Halaman are still speckled there. Bold Son Kansari an absolute spinster of Babariya was forcefully made an illicit wife of the King Jethva; to save spinster from becoming a victim of insatiable passion of King Jethva; Thanki
Brahmins got slaughtered themselves and thus by making a very much big heap of Yagnopavit also died there. Earlier the entire divine mountain range belonged to Jethva but it is said that in that mountain, murders of many Britishers occurred and the pressure came from British government on the King Jethva. Enticed by weak advice of administrators the King replied, “Wherever murders have occurred that field is not mine but it belongs to the Nagar.” The King of the Nagar was quite audacious by taking all the risks he said, ‘Yes, yes, this mountain belongs to me.’ From that day onwards, the major part went in the share of Nagar and a very little wing remained in possession of Porbandar.
On that wing, amidst the light canopy of a few trees, neither tall nor short, but very moderate in size the Polo Panno exists. The hollow in that caves was 32 feet long and 16 feet in width. It was an enormous stone having the ceiling of 3 and half in height but Natha Baharvatiya made a place to make his mare stand amidst a narrow lane of that stone. On the roof of the ceiling, there was one seat made for the guard to sit on it, one man constantly kept a vigil on outside and inside the hollow part of the stone, the meeting of Natha Babha was organised. There was a small pond where Natho’s mare was drinking water, today it is known as Natha-Talavdi. Later on Vagher Baharvatiya was playing Dandiya Ras that place known as Manek Chowk is not far from Polo Panno. Polo Panno is known as Dokamardo.[note]
By taking shelter at the jagged place where even conspiracy of large army of an enemy did not work; Natho Mer started to ruin one by one villages of Jam’s Baradi sub-district. He ruined village Gundu, Ashiyawadar and with the rattling sound of the currency of
Jamm Royality the Polo Pano jingled with pleasant metallic sound. Later on Rasda of Natho Mer started in accompaniment of Ravan hattho. A large number of inhabitants of nearby villages were in full support of Natho. At night Merani of prettiest complexions by making all the four sides of their odhnu loose, looking worthy and ornamented like she elephants by their hanging laces and oscillating walk; danced and sung songs about heroism of Natho in their shrill voice. As they sung sagas of Natha’s bravery, the spirit of heroism spread in every vein of Natho. In this way in Sorath until Amreli, Natho became famous. He was an outlaw but his impressions, as Bhagat had never diminished.
One day at setting noon, one horse rider by eluding vigilance of vigilant came from the rear narrow path and reached at Polo Pano. He had a mare whose harness made a jingling sound. He had a spear in hand, sword was dangling around the waist, on the shoulder he had a shield, on the mouth there was a dense growth of moustache as well as beard and his eyes were sharp. On arriving the man sitting on a mare greeted, ‘Ae ba Ram Ram!” addressing the assembly that had gathered there.
Hundred people replied, “Ram!”
“Who is Natho Bhagat among these?”
“Hey, respectable man did you not recognise me? Did you not wish Ram Ram to all?”
“I unknowingly greeted Ram Ram to all in a general way.”
Alike lion, roaring sound was echoed from his throat, “Me Natho once again wishes you brother. Now once again you greet Ram Ram and get down.”
“No, no, now you first give me promise, then I will get down.”
“Oh good brother, can any take promise just by sitting on a horse? Do some discussion, give information.”
“Debate and details everything will be done later on. Either Natho Bhagat would give promise or he would give permission to go.”
“The permission to go is neither given to well-wishers nor to enemies. Both of them cannot go empty handed after reaching Polo Pano. Take this promise.”
By dusting off four sides, Natho got up. He gave a clap to the rider by holding his hand. Even Polo Pano echoed as if admitting his presence. By holding his upper arm, he pulled the rider down. Both embraced and later on Natho asked: “who are you?”
“I am Champraj Valo of Charkha.” ―Oh, you yourself Champraj Vala.
Ghoda ne pakhar gughra, sav soneri saj,
Lal Kasumbal lugde, Charkha no Champraj
On the back and the neck of the horse there was a lace of ornamental hollow bells, there were totally, gold accoutrements. Champraj of Charkha always dressed in deep bright red clothes.
“Are you the same one? Are you the destroyer of Gayakwad? Come brother, come. Polo Panno would half inch puffed upwardly with pride. Brother Champraj, what you want to say? Why you came here from far?”
“Natha Bhagat, crave of ruining Amreli have not been satiated. I find you strong enough to help me in accomplishing this goal; because of that I have come here to take you.”
―Lets us go right now. What is in that? The joyous moments spent with the friends would be left behind. There is no band of immortality tagged on this body. At least enjoy royalty of this hilly zone.
Lets us see whether the splendour of Bardo scales higher or sorrow.‖
Champrajvala lodged there for few days; made him plunge into bouts of joy. Later on both invaded Amreli. After devastating Amreli; along with Champrajvala Natho saw affluence of Sorath Geer and later on came to Polo Panno.
Chalanu, Dhari, Chuthiya, lidhi hakamri laj,
Champe dal chalaviya, (te di) nar Modho Nathraj.
By taking the responsibility of credit of states Chalanu, Dhari and Chutiya. Champe started his territorial army and that day Man of the day was Modho Nathraj.
“Bhagat, it is good to attack Madhavpar. We could not find another full-fledged developed city.”
“But that city is of ‗Por’: the King of Por is our crown. To hit his head means to kill the branch on which one is sitting.” Mer calls Porbandar as ‘Por’.
After talking so Baharvatiyo Natho, went to take a round in various villages, which were under the jurisdiction of Porbandar. On the fertile field of Madhavpar; there were huge heaps of millet; they were so large that even Camels could not be visible behind it. On the way, at the edge of a track nearby the bunch of millet Natho overheard threatening sound. Soon on hearing, intimidation of bureaucrat Natho stopped his mare by pulling reins.
“One farmer was grazing calves at the out skirt of the field. He asked who is speaking with so much haughtiness.”
“It is our doom that speaks, brother! Karparam Mehto.”
“What is he doing?”
“What else could he do? Tyranny, the crops is still standing and not reaped but before that, he would collect revenue from us. Brother, now we have to sell it to merchants at very cheaper rate. In the rule of this Rana the days of strangulating oneself have arrived.”
“Please go and tell brother in his ear that, Nathe Modhvadiya has given warning that, be humane and give up torturing farmers.”
“Oh God, what fear of Natho? He has no fear of even God. He is making challenge of arresting Natho.”
“Is it so then let’s go and meet him.”
The Outlaw kick-started his mare. By crossing heaps of millets, he went to the opposite side, where kruparam by using abusive words and twisting the end of his moustache was sitting on a cot. Green corns of millets were being roasted. By mixing hot corn of millets with sugar, Kruparam was munching them with puffed cheeks. Natha came by calling aloud from far, “Potdidas, you get up. Be a man and take this sword.” “Who are you?” Kruparam got nervous.
“I am Natho, the one for whom you were waiting. You have agonised farmers very much. Now be a Man.”
By saying this much Natho caught hold of Kruparam; and he ordered Men that, ―Run fast and bring from leather tanner’s shop one damp leather of a beast. ― The leather was brought.
“In that damp leather get him stitched alive.”
By stitching him alive, they smothered and killed a living Mehta.
Meto Madhavpar tano, Gajre khato gam,
Kunde Karparam, netter kidho Nathiya.
Mehta belonged to Madhavpar, collecting revenue of the village, came to be known as Kruparam in killing others; but Natho made him a rope.
After hearing about this type of end, Mehtas of every region shook to the bones. Wretchedness of farmers reduced automatically.
In the village Modhvada at the house of Mulu Mer’s son Vanga Patel’s house army of Jethva Rana remained on vigil. Even capable men were shackled within the territory of Vanga Patel. Vango was so close to Rana that he was considered as a hair of Rana’s moustache. One day a man named Rano Khunti Mer by caste and an inhabitant of Chhatrava went on a pilgrimage to Dwarka by taking 100 men along with him and on the way he stayed at Vanga’s house during night. After taking dinner, by laying cot all men sat under the moon light. In their talk the reference of Natha Bhabha was made. Amidst that, Rana referred, “Vanga Patel I have heard that the Barot of your village sings duha about Natha Bhabha.”
“Who? Raja Barot?”
“Yes, Rajo, invite him; at least listen his duha.”
“Rana, that Barot is outspoken. Will you not feel bad if he say something to you?”
“No, there is no question of complaining while listening to duha. As our work, so would be our fame.”
Raja Barot was invited.
“Hell Barot, you had made the whole collection of 20 duha on Natha Babha. Our guests are eager to hear them. Would you narrate them?”
“Oh Master, if anyone feel exaggeration in it then meaninglessly someone would feel bad and without any reason my tongue would get maligined; so why are you asking me to do that?”
“No, no, you can speak freely without keeping any type of qualm. If we would not hear the praises of heroes then what else we would hear?”
“Ok, then, listen.”
On saying such, Raja Barot put down his smoking pipe and started to sing in vociferous voice a collection of 20 duha about Natha.
Ek te uthapiya, Timba Jam tana
(Teniyu) Suniyu Sisodra, Navkhand vatu, Nathiya!
[O Natha Mer born in lineage of Sisodiya Rajput; first, you devastated many villages of Jam, its fame spread everywhere.]
Bije nana bal, rotta pan chhana rahe
Pancchmukh ne prochal, nakhachh gadku Nathiya!
[Your eminence is so tremendous that when you roar like a lion at that time crying babies become silent. Panch Mukho (five headed), Prochalo, are various folk names of lion which are also used for you.]
Trije Jadeja tanu, Modha chhodaviyu man
Khand Ramiyo Khuman, tu navteri, Nathiya!
[Third matter: You have made the king Jam of Jadeja Vansh to give up his crave for admiration. As Bheem was playing a wonderful game by holding nine elephants in one hand and 13 elephants in other hand, similarly you had single handedly fought with many enemies.]
[Fourth: You have overpowered the whole region Baradi of Jam, and now you are eager to acquire the land of Halar.]
Panche tu padtal, Kachhiyu ne kidha Kade,
Modha dungar muvad, natt gokira, Nathiya!
[Fifth: You have taken power on Kachhi Jadeja by using your swiftness and oh, Modhvadiya in the valleys of mountain the sound of your victory keeps echoing.]
Chhathe bija chot, (koi) Natha nee jale nahi.
Karmi behliyo kot, tarataj Devaliya tanoo
[No one could bear stroke of Natho. You fortunate had knocked down the fort of Devaliya within few minutes.]
Satte tu dankachh suvan, Modha dunger may
(tya to) thar thar jangu thay Rajputa ne rat dee.
[Hey, Modhvadiya you keep roaring like a lion in the mountain; that is why day and night thigh of legs of Rajput keeps wobbling.]
Anthe valu je kare, veda muke van
Tan nagare garjan, nakhe mutter, Nathiya!
Nave sarito nahi, hakamne Hansraj.
Vash te kidho vankda, rang muchhe Nathraj
[Hats off, to your manly moustache Natha, the chief of Amreli province named Hansraj of Amreli never obeyed great kings but you had tamed him.]
Dashme ek dahivan, darango achhani dali
(tem) khand barde khuman, nar tu bijo, Nathiya!
[As gallant Durgadasjee was born in Rajputana to attack on Delhi, same type of another courageous man in form of you had born in Bardo.]
[Hey Natha, the son of Vashiyang if you had not born in Mer dynasty then really the whole caste of Mer would have been considered like the cast of a farmer or Sudra.]
“Barot, repeat that duha,” Rana Khunti interrupted in between and stopped the Barot’s gushing speed of singing duha.
Agiyare Mer abhang, loknu ma lekhat,
Natha Jalam na that, (jo) Vansh ma Vashiyanrauui”
“Yes, sing it once more. Barot once again sung the duha and proceeded.
Bare Bilesher tanu upper Madha ek
Trepar ja ni tek, Natha, te rakhi nadhru!
Tere te tarvar, kacchiyu su bandhi kadiyo
Haviya leva Halar, Nakhachh dhada Nathiya!
[Until now, you kept the sword fastened around the waist to attack the king of Kacchutch; but now you are eager to capture the entire Halar.]
Chovde dhar leva chade, Khumara kharsan,
(Ene) bhare pade bhangal, nagar lagan Nathiya!
[The army of enemies had invaded upon you, but it became difficult for them to elope until Jamnagar.]
Pandare tune pal, bhad mota avi ne bhare,
Khatri havya khadhal, na kare tari, Nathiya!
[Illustrious and capable chiefs of the village are paying you money for the protection of their village. Now no Rajput ever dares to vex you.]
Sole navsarthu tana, baliya dandachh khan
Kachhiyu to thi kan, no re jaliya Nathiya!
[By arresting significant men of Sorath you collect fine from all.]
Satt re suratan tano, anto valiyo ache,
Babi ne jado be, (tene) te namaviya, Nathiya!
[You are so much obsessed with the spirit of heroism, that the king Babi of Junagadh and king Jadeja of Jamnagar are fed up with you.]
Adhare idar tano, nakalak bhere nath,
Hakam Pete hath, Te nakhaviya, Nathiya!
[In your support, Gokharnathji Avdhut of Idar is standing. Due to him, you are able to make other powerless.]
Ongish e osarriya, Jado ne Babi je
Kesav bhupat ke, lune namiya pakheno, Nathiya!
[Babi and Jadeja had succumbed to you, only shree lord Krishna has not relinquished you.]
[All kings are bushed after making horses run against you. In true sense, you have given real homage to Chittod the locale of Sisodiya.]
“Ok lord, this was the collection of 20 duha of Natha Babha. On saying such, once again Raja Barot took a smoking pipe in the hand. On his face impressions of reddishness had embossed.
“Very good Barot and well done!” On saying, such all men congratulated him.‖
“Lord I sing eulogies of my guardian, in my crude language but I am not a great poet.” When too much praises were showered at that time, Rano Khunti smiled mysteriously.
The king Barot asked, ‘lord, why did you smile?’
“It is obvious, to smile: Barot, at present; Natho Babho is the chief and the best of the whole Mer community; so it is quite natural that as he shelters all of you, you would mount him with gold and diamond; you would call him either king or god, but in the eleventh duha you made an exaggeration.”
“If Natho would not have born in the Mer community then entire Mer community would have been considered petty. Is only Natho mighty or able? What about the others are they coward and sons of contemptuous and helpless?”
Other two, three Mer also admitted, ―It is true, Barot at that place you overstated. In that you underestimated other Mer.”
“The result will come out at last.‖ By saying so, Barot remained silent but he was embarrased.
Next morning Rana Khunti after getting up went to Dwarka along with his 100 companions. After few days the whole group returned, while returning they made lodging at the house of Vanga Patel. Due to embarrassment, Rajo Barot did not go to meet any guest. At late night when the meeting dispersed, someone came and gave news to Raja
Barot: “Barot when Rano Khunti went on pilgrimage he had to pay a toll tax.”
“Who collected the toll tax?”
“Chilawala of Jamnagar collected the tax at the premise of Bhogat village and said that without which they would not allow them to go on pilgrimage.”
“How much toll tax?”
“Cash 300 currency coins.”
“Oh, oh it is shocking. Had my lion like Natho been alive then could servants of Jam dare to collect revenue from Mer?”
Rajo Barot got up from where he was sleeping. He removed the turban from his head and put on mourning clothes. By getting well equipped, he started at midnight. He passed by the entrance gate of Vanga Patel. He made a pleasant call, “Vanga Bhabha!”
“Oh, who is there? Are you a Barot?”
“Why very late at night?”
“I have to go out of station but before my arrival do not allow guest to go away. Early in the morning, I want to make guest drink the dose of opium. I give you swear of Mother Goddess, that do not let the guest go before my arrival, OK.”
Raja Barot started. He started to cover mileages by walking. Fumbling and stumbling in darkness, overnight he reached Polo Pano. In the morning in the day light, as soon as Natho got up from the bed he saw Barot.
“Oh ho ho! Barot. Why did you come at this time? Why have you tied mourning cloth on the head? Did you bring any bad news?”
“Yes, Father, it is really very very bad news.”
“Who have died?”
“Natho Bhabho himself has died, lord.”
“Barot, why are you sarcastic?”
“This is not satire, this is the fact that Natha has died otherwise how could servant of Jam collect revenue of 300 silver coins from Mer who were going to Dwarka on pilgrimage; unfortunately today my lion Nathiyo has died.”
Natha collected all details from Raja Barot. His heart pained to hear all this. He told his Man, “brother you bring a pen with an ink pot.”
By keeping an inkpot, a pen and a chit of paper before Raja said; “Come on, Barot you write whatever I dictate you. You write, ‘the taker of grain of Bhogat; you had taken the toll tax of 300 coins from Rana Khunti Mer of Chhatrava. By adding 300 coins in it, total 600 coins send it directly at Modhvada along with your village priest. Otherwise, be ready to welcome Natha Modhvadiya.”
By giving a chit of paper, he sent a man to Bhogat on dromedary, and told Raja Barot: “You can go. If 300 coins do not reach directly to Modhvada by today in the afternoon then you can happily cover your head with the cloth and take bath on my name by considering me dead.”
In the afternoon at the entrance gate of Vanga Patel the assembly was sitting. At that time, one infuriated and quick bull approached very closely. The rider of the bull offered the bag of coins to Rana Khunti.
“What is this brother?”
“These are 300 coins of the toll tax that you had paid and another 300 coins as fine taken by Natha Bhabha from the Nagar. Please take care of it.”
“But, from where?”
“It is from Bhogat, from Chilawala of Jam of Bhogat.
Rana khunti realized the whole matter amidst the assemblage. The king looked down. He took the bag of coins and offered it to Raja Barot and by joining his hands before Raja Barot said, “Take this you divine being, it is dedicated to you.”
“We would talk about 300 coins later on; first of all tell me now would you please permit me to recite the eleventh duha, my lord.”
“Ok brother as you wish. It is agreed 100 times.”
Very soon, sitting on knees, by extending both the hands towards Bardo Mountain in a bestowing manner Barot sung duha in a lingering tune,
Agiyarme Mer Abhang, Loku ma lekhat,
(jo) Natha jalam na that, Vansh ma Vashiangraut
[Hey Natha, the son of Vashiyang if you had not born in Mer dynasty then really the whole caste of Mer would have been considered like the cast of a farmer or Sudra.]
“Natha Bhabha! Ram, Ram!”
“Ram, Ram, Lila Joshi and Punja Chav you are most welcome! Today what made you bring here?”
“Natha Bhabha, we have come to see your Royal throne and royal splendour. Moreover, don’ t you think that your work is terrible for reputable men possessing authority? Take this Rakhi sent by Roopali ba; on the bond of religion she has accepted you as her brother.”
After saying so, two guests presented the plate before the outlaw containing one sword having fist shaped hilt of gold, the golden belt for keeping sword and costume made of brocade.
“Well, well! Indeed these types of behaviour suits to Mother of Jethva. Really, the Mother of the state’s administrative work is Mother of the state in true sense of the term. What to talk about her? She keeps much affection for me. She is just like a goddess; we can get rid of our sins by taking birth by her womb.”
Natho kept on speaking and the two guests kept on making him wear costumes sent by
Roopali ba. In excitement of getting royal treatment, the chest of Natha puffed up with pride. In over excitement Natho asked; “Tell Mother, to allot any work befitting me. The Mother is called caretaker of our skin and bonny body.”
“Natha Bhabha, except Mother, there is one Bajrang who knows her agony. Nothing has been spared in grieving Mother.”
“Who else can be except Kamdar Otta Gandhi? Brother, except him whose prominence reigns in the region?”
“Brother, at least tell what had happened?”
“What to talk? Otto Gandhi has not been paying heed to mother and behaving on his own since the migration of the big King to another village and since the time when the prince Bhojraj was in the cradle. In the state he has totally abolished the identity and existence of Mother. He has degraded the mother in the lowest category just like his shoe. Mother got terrified that Otto Gandhi might kill her Prince; that is why mother sought our protection. We took Mother and the Prince at Bhanvad. 12 years have passed of this incident. At present in the agency his dominance reigns supreme so how can Rano succeed to the throne. Who knows whether the duration of life span of Mother and son would pass in the banishment? Even cousins of Jethva had joined the company of Baniya.
“Ok, Lila Joshi and Punja Chav, in short, go and make Mother alert and make Prince well equipped. In reward of sister’s Rakhi, I give you challenge that if I am the progeny of Modhvadia in the true sense then; right from today within a month I would destroy the source of income of Otta Gandhi. I will offend cousins by hurling lime powder on their faces with the spade, and on the throne of Porbandar with my own hand I will perform coronation of Child Rana otherwise take it for granted Natha as the son of adultery.”
Both envoys of the state after noting the effect of their device on each hair of the body of the outlaw; descended down from the Bardo Mountain and went to Bhanwad. Here, Natho by selecting one thousand Makrani from Saurashtra made a large group. He sent message to Otto Gandhi that, “Stop grieving Prince and Mother of state and enthrone Rana on the royal throne. Otherwise I would not spare you alive.”
How Otta Gandhi could have fear of Nathiyo who was a small worm like chameleon of Barda Mountain where as he (Otta Gandhii) had the torrential administration of Porbandar in hand and further more there was a very sharp impression regarding his faultless policy in Agency. Otto Gandhi remained in negligence and here Natho by breaking the entrance gates of Porbandar and by giving fatal blow to security guard; gave a call on reaching near artillery; “Do you want to obey the order of Rana? Otherwise at this moment itself one thousand Makrani would make vegetable of your body and devour it.”
Opposite to the upper storey of Otto Gandhi, the army which was well equipped with canon lined up and Kamdar became captive in his own home. In the royal court, Natha called up the assembly and made coronation of Vikramajit (Bhojraj) and he defaced the faces of all cousins who by remaining in the royal service were pestering Rana. In Porbandar, the whole atmosphere got so much panic stricken that even birds had stopped to fly. It is said that Otta Gandhi had to quit Porbandar.
Thus by becoming the real maternal uncle; the Outlaw once again went to Polo Pano.[note]
“Bhagat, today you have done monstrous job. Did all horses die away that from the divine place of Shingda; you took away the hermit’s two horny bulls?”
“Now, keep your words with you Merani, keep them with you.Can outlaw ever become horseless? There is no want of mare even in hermit’s place. Why can‘t we use them; as they remained laying there by grazing idly?”
“Hey Man, remember the days when the army of the Jam chased you at that time you surrendered at the feet of Bhutani Ma‘Raj and he bound you by promise of to take care of animals and not to do tyranny against horny creatures. He also took a promise from you of not to play havoc over the village Modhvada but you violated the promise and did not protect even our birthplace. You usurped 4000 coins from the son of Luvana for releasing them on bail. Bhagat it seems that the time of deterioration of outlawry has arrived.”
“No problem! Are such promises ever kept? If we keep on talking about religion and divine places then we must seek isolation by taking rosary. Don‘t you see that today I am struggling against Jam?”
“Outlaws who are on irreligious path are never saved and you have committed very wicked crime. Bhagat, still I tell you that go and return horned cattles and pay back 4000 coins to Lohana of our village. Otherwise, I foresee instability of Polo pano.”
“Merani you have gone mad.”
Natho who went to Modhvada to meet his family, returned disappointed and climbed up Polo pano desperately at midnight after having dispute with his wife and facing her offensiveness. The moment he climbed up Polo Pano unluckily one star fell down from the sky; as if a big flame was about to be extinguished. He felt that his death was near; as his wife said above, that due to his two betraying actions his name as Bhagat was blotted. His mind was spoilt as he got flying success in outlawry. He took sound sleep without worrying about anything. The morning broke out. As he took toothbrush in hand, he saw one group of army approaching him. On arriving, they said, “Bhabha the whole group has gathered. You are called by them.”
“Where I have been called brother?”
“They have gathered on the plain, at the outskirts of Rinavadada.”
“OK, good, let’s go”
At the outskirts of the village from the sixteen villages of Mer various castes of Mer namely Odedra, Keswala, Modhvadiya, Rajsakha etc; thus overall from four lineages all Mer who knew twist and turns gathered there. Natho directly went to the village and hid himself clandestinely in one upper storey. Some leaders of Mer community went to that upper storey and put their thoughts before Natha; “Bhabha, because of you only, Rana has started the act of arresting members of the whole community.”
“The city got exasperated. It provoked the government. There is a pressure on Rana that either arrest outlaw otherwise renounce the royal throne.”
“Then what happened?”
“Then, what would happen? Our Roopali ba called the meeting of our community and ordered to hand over Natha otherwise they would be bereaved of their royal throne.”
“What did Rana say?”
“Rana said that captivate Natha alive then only my ancestor would get salvation.”
“Then, what reply did you give?”
“We have given limit of eight days.”
“Ok, then if whole community is in problem then I have no harm in surrendering myself. Come on the fourth day; meanwhile I will finish my pending work then happily we would go together.”
“Ok, we would come here on the fourth day.”
The whole group of Mer community returned. As they passed half mileage then suddenly they confronted one Mer named Parbat Kuchhadiya who was standing there. Getting startled all asked “why?”
“What do you mean by why? By being courageous Men why you go forward to hand over Natha?” Don‘t you feel any qualm in your conscience? Are you all born of Mer women?‖
“Then, what to do?”
“You do whatever you like. I will not join you in your cowardliness.” After saying, such Parbat separated himself from other. Once again, crookedly he went close to Natha and said; “Bhabha, our opinions do not match, so you can do whatever you like.”
On saying such, Parbat returned and on the way caught the team of Mer negotiators. At the time of dispersal only from the group only Paji Pundo Khastriyo said: “brother, let’s go and at least give whatever answer we want to convey to Rana.”
“Why to go, are we scared of Rana?”
On reaching Porbandar; Punja Khastriya divulged out confidential message to Mother of state and Rana; “Mother, you have made Parbat your brother but the same person has instigated Natha. He has ruined our negotiation. Even Ladhvo, Rano and Chhodvo total seven members have joined him. Togather they administered Natha to continue robbery. Now problem is yours; you decide what to do.”
Roopali ba got all the seven persons handcuffed. All the seven prisoners were standing in the square of Darbargadh. Among the seven men there was one a lion like vigorous man named Ladhva who by twisting his handcuff broke it. “Take your bangles”; after saying so amidst the vigiliance made by the guard he suddenly made an exit like highly enraged buffalo. On being liberated, he rushed and reached on an upper storey of Darbar gadh. In his heart of hearts, he wished to take the Prince who was rocking in the cradle in his lap he thought that if he would do so then I may get boon of life at the stake of life of the Prince. However, as he jumped to climb the upper storey; Punja Khastariya caught his legs. Arrab came and he smacked Ladha with a dagger and killed rest of six persons with bullet. Lying on the deathbed, all the six said; “no need to worry; what is wrong in being killed by bullet rather than betraying against Natha Bhagat?”
While fighting all the six died by bullet. At the entrance of Virdi plot in Porbandar there are monumental pillars of all of them.
Roopali ba called Punja Khastariya and asked; “Punja bhai, what shall be done with Natha? Agency is very much vexed and our Kingdom would be oppressed.”
“Mother, give me poison of a high quality; so very quickly I will bring here dead body of Natha. Otherwise, he would devour your army and won‘t die even if bullets will pierce in his body.”
“What is the reason?”
“Mother, in his thigh he has stuffed Shiyal shingi and Molvel. The bombard of bullets would not work. He would never die by weapons; so give poison. Right now, give me poison; so I would give an end to his life by poisoning him.”
By taking poison of a superior quality from the undisclosed container of Roopali ba, Punja started.
Ade dungar thi Uttariyo Natho, mattha sakan thay,
Dabi te bhairev kakkale, Natha, jamna jangar jay;
Modha ne marvo nahoto
Bhagat to sag no sotto
Kediyo Katara vankda Natha, gale genda ni dhal,
Mathe Mevada Moliya Natha, Kabhe khantili talwar,
Modha ne marvo notto,
Bhagat tto sag no sotto.
Natho climbed down the mountain, bad omen occurred.
On the left side owl squeaked; Natha the power of body would destroy.
There was no need to kill Modho
Bhagat was very straight forward just like a stick of a teak tree.
Dagger around your waist seems unsuitable and so is the armour around your neck Natha.
On the head turban of gold striped cloth and on your shoulder Natha there always remains a sword in brocaded scabbard.
There was no need to kill Natha.
Bhagat was very straight forward just like a stick of a teak tree.
“Bhagat, please today obey your friends‘advice for the last time. Bad omen has occurred so please turn back your mare today.”
“Oh, brother is there any need to keep fear in going to sister’s house? I have never cared for good or bad omen then why to consider them today?”
“Bhagat our heart does not agree today.”
“If you want to return then you can happily go back. I have an invitation for lunch at the house of Harji Gour, so there is no other option except eating there. Because if sister would come to know that Natha retreated on beholding bad omen then she would feel bad. So if you have no trust then please you can return happily.”
Two men turned back. By taking the remaining ones, outlaws went to sister’s house in enthusiasm of dining at her place he made his mare pass through the narrow mountain pass. In the village, Hathla there was one Priest of Mer. There was one woman in his house (most probably she was Priest’s daughter in-law); the out law had considered her as his religiously lawful sister. Natha had made the house of Harji Thanki prosperous with his income of robbed things. Today in the house of Harji Thanki, Punja had cooked food by mixing venom in it. All were waiting for Natha.
As Natho was passing through the narrow path of the village Hathla, there they came across a black Scorpio. Once again, his comrades warned him, “Bhagat, second time bad omen had occurred; still, we appeal that, if you wish then please turn back in any case?”
“If I return then my birth would get stigma and sister like Jagdamba would be suspicious.”
He started. On reaching the gate of the house of Harji Maharaj he affectionately called out loudly. At the end of lobby sister was standing; her face was disappointed due to dejection. Natha once again made a call; “Sister we have reached, ok.”
The woman secretly made a sign to Natha and said; “Brother please come here.”
“I will come back to you soon after visiting the boarding house.”
“Later on you could not come, my brother.”
She murmured the above sentence but it did not reach to the ear of outlaw. Natho went to receive hospitality at the boarding. As soon as they arrived Harji Thanki made guest sit to dine. By talking enthusiastically Gaur started to cater cooked food. They could eat only four fists full of food and very soon poison spread in veins of all the four. Natha experienced intense burning sensation on his tongue. By folding hands, Natho bowed down to food plate and said: “Harji Gaur, I had only this much hunger, there is nothing else but there was no need to kill me by poison. I wanted to be killed by weapons.”
After saying so, Natho fell down. Punja Khastariya and other four people ran and at a time started to shoot bullets on his dying body but how could bullets make an effect. Speechless Natha pointed finger at his thigh and after a great efforts he with his confused and entangled tongue made them understood.
“Yes, yes, you hid shiyal shingi and Molwell right.”
Lying on a deathbed outlaw nodded his head in yes mode.
Killers by splitting his thigh removed both the things and threw them out; soon the body of Natha turned green. He died, and later on enemies dragged his lifeless body and took it very far. They cut his head. By taking his head, Punjo went to Porbandar to win prize.
The government had declared the prize for the one who brings the head of Natha. The Britisher of agency was present and he understood that they had killed outlaw not with chivalric spirit but they had killed outlaw cunningly by poisoning him.
Punja did not get prize. Thus in this way the states snatched life of Natha. Mer women still sing from village to village:
Modha ne Marvo nato.
Bhagat to sag no sotto
There was no need to kill Natho
Bhagat was as straightforward as stick of Teak tree.
Note: The dialect of Mer community:
In this story, the dialect of Mer community is explained as below:
|Gujarati Language||Mer Language||English Language|
|Chhodi ne||Chhod ne||Leave it|
|Nathi||Neth||No / Not there|