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 31 - Shihasan

King Bhoj the healer of others‘misery ruled over the city Dhara. There was a mighty citadel on all the four sides, which was so strong that it could smash heads of horrendous person. On all the four sides there was an entrance gate, on each side there were eighty-four markets: fifty-four market places and the eggs on the top of the castles of millionaire were touching the sky. On all the sides, an arrangement was made of trumpeting drum for four times a day in the beginning of each period of three hours. In the evening torches were illuminated. Not a single unhappy person was found in Ujjain.

Once king Bhoj commanded, “Badhsagra we had visited local countries and foreign countries, but now I want to see Ottrakhand.”

“May God bless you the Master of Ujjain; you could do according to your wish.” After saying so, Badhsagra put broad mouthed brass saddles on the two fast moving horses that were as swift as wind. By keeping all the weapons in a scabbard, the King and the minister started journey. On the way when they were about to cross the border of the village than suddenly from far, one woodcutter shouted, “Oh, brother would you please help in putting this heavy bundle of wood on my head?”

“Badhsagra, there seems one unhappy old man who is unable to put the heavy bundle on the head. So lets us go and help him.”

After saying so the king went close to the man. On reaching, they saw an anemic Brahmin, who just looked like a real skeleton without having a single drop of blood. His mouth was so dirty that flies were buzzing over his mouth. He had a running nose. On his shoulder, yagnopavit was dangling like a piece of a leather rope. On seeing the poor condition of the Brahmin, King said, ‘Oh Priest, why your condition is so wretched?’

“May God bless you the owner of ninety-two-lakhs roofed houses. I am the Brahmin but in your Ujjaini:

Navanagar ne namoh! Namoh!
Serie serie bhamo bhamo!
Koi ke ne ke jamo jamo!

Have to salute new city with reverence.
I have to roam from street to streets.
If somebody says that, eat than only I could eat.

Such is my condition. My own wife, at dawn reviles me and drives me out of house by handing down a begging bowl to me. I return at dusk when I reach home a large number of children wails and rummage me because there is no adequate flour for making even two chapattis.‖

“Oh, hate, hate, hate! It is very sad that in spite of being son of Brahmin and holder of auspicious yagnopavit he has to cut woods. How could he read Vedas and Bhagvata?

How could he offer prayers in the morning or evening? Priest, please take this note of crediting you Rs.one lakh and twenty five thousand. You can withdraw this much amount from my treasure by issuing this note. Now, give blessings.‖

Swasam, oh King swasam!”

“Partial blessings oh King partial blessings!”

“Why Priest you are giving me partial blessings?”

“Oh King, if somebody twitch one Rs. one lakh and twenty-five thousand by slapping me then where shall I come to find you? If you give me a chunk of land then by farming on it at least I can earn my livelihood.”

There was one farm. At the command of King the sheet of copper was brought, and on the spot King signed agreement in the name of every generation of Brahmin. He wrote that one who disobeys the condition might get sins of taking four lives. Brahmin flung away his bundle of wretchedness into the sea. Kadadad...dhub by hurling the bunch of logs of woods on the floor exclaimed, ‘bless you! Oh, king, promising blessings to you; thus by wishing good luck Brahmin went away.

Here, with the sound of dananan... of riding horse; the king and Badhsagra started their journey. They visited various regions one by one. One region that they visited, in which there were some shoots of plants were bigger enough to retract elephants. They saw the region where grains burst out of crops with the rise of Sun: they saw the places where on the body of men, hair grew as long as the long hair of bear, they even stayed at the place where body of man and woman were born jointly. They stopped at the place where well was so deep that for fetching water the man who had to fetch water must take back his bullocks very far and he could get the message of returning his bullocks at the beat of drum played by another man standing on the well. By visiting all these types of various countries, both the king and the minister started their way back to home after travelling in foreign countries for a one year.

The season of monsoon ended and the month of Asho began. At the end of the narrow path, there was one farm. In this farm the growth of the green crops was so dense and at a large scale that horse rider along with their horse might not be seen amidst the standing crop. Crops of millet bent down due to profuse growth and the spikes had bloomed in such a way that it seemed to be burst out any moment. In the middle of the farm, there was one upper storey. On the upper storey, one man was standing by holding a sling in his hand and was flying away birds. On seeing this, King asked Badhsagra, ‘whose farm is this? Last year, at this place there had been dense trees of stoned fruits.’

“Your majesty this is the same farm which you gave to Brahmin in the name of God.”

Meanwhile, ‘Please wait! My Lord, please wait. If you go away then you may get sin of killing Brahmin, you get the offence of killing cow! You might incur sin for killing four types of people; in this way, the man standing on the upper storey shouted. After going close, they beheld Brahmin having yagnopavit on his shoulder which was dangling like a piece of a leather rope, and in a hand he was holding tight a string of sling, there was a vessel made of dry rind in his armpit and he was making threatening call to birds to fly away. Brahmin ran and told King, “Please take five spikes of green grains.”

The King said: “Priest! For us, anything thing given in gift is just like blood, which we could not take back, If I take it then I would smash my head and wear a wreath of skulls.” Badhsagra said, “Lord, please accept it now, later on we would give it to peons or people like him; but at present do not disregard Brahmin’ s appeal.”

Brahmin descended from the upper storey and went in the farm. He held a sickle in one hand and by other hand held spike and tried to shake the top of spike and pondered,

oh... ho... Ho... Ho! This spike is the chieftain of the farm. How can I run sickle on it?’

He held another spike in his hand; by its head, he murmured, ‘Oh...ho...no..ho! This is the brother of the former spike! How I dare to cut it?’

Itching, his head, Brahmin came close to the King and said, “Emperor, spikes of those sides are plucked away by children, cattle had grazed them. Cranes have eaten them and I do not find a single proper spike to give you.”

King and the Minister smiled and walked away. Once again, Brahmin went on the upper storey. Soon on ascending the upper storey, Brahmin started to call out loudly: please come back Master, come back; you might incur sin for taking four lives. Take crops of wheat. Once again, King came to Brahmin so Brahmin said, “Master please wait, on the east side there are many crops. I would reap for you.”

After saying so, once again Brahmin held the sickle. He went in the direction of East to harvest crops. By touching spikes one by one and tossing back and forth, he heaved sigh, ‘Oh... ho... ho!, this is the main spike of the whole farm. This is the brother of the earlier one. How could I reap off?‖ On coming back, once again he helplessly said, “My lord, there also children plucked away, cattle had grazed them; there is no single good spike available which I could give you.”

The king Bhoj smiled and started walking. Once again on reaching the upper storey

Brahmin again called the King, “Please return, take it with you; otherwise you may incur sin of killing four.”

The King asked, “Oh Badhsagra! What is the problem? As the Brahmin goes upstairs, he becomes generous and as soon as he steps down he becomes mingy manner less man: do you know enigma behind this kind of manner?”

“King, it is simply due to change in the place!” Badhsagra jovially responded.

“What is that?”

“Oh King, it should be interpreted as influence of various places for example where the Brahmin’ s storey is situated, in that part under the earth definitely there must be some deluding element. There must be an abode of charitable King; so as Brahmin goes upstairs, he becomes extremely generous and as he gets down, he comes to his original nature of Brahmin.”

“If your prediction will go wrong then what would happen?”

“Then your sword and my head?”

The king got the earth under the storey dug. As soon as digging work started, the hit of the hoe tinkled. At the second hit, it was sensed that the blade of a pickaxe got hooked with some big circular rod. After digging on all the four sides soon there were found-one, two, three, four; overall four broad mouthed vessels full of wealth; and as they burrowed below it then there was one B...I...G Throne!

King Bhoj contributed fortunes of all the four big vessels among the destitute. Gave loaves of bread to cattle and got the throne cleaned and as soon as the royal seat was cleaned and established in the royal court, immediately its sparkling glory was reflected.

On all the four sides of the throne, the colour of gemstone, ruby and pearls were painted.

Round the throne there were 32 glittering images of dolls.

“Only we can sit on this divinely royal seat.” After saying so; the moment the King put his leg on the first step of the throne at the same time, ‘No, King Bhoj! No.’ Such type of mysterious oracle was sounded and by making zananan type of jingling sound 32 puppets raised their tinkling hands.

‘Oh, we excavated the throne, get it cleaned and decorated then who is forbidding invisibly from within?’

Echoing zanananan sound all the 32 dolls started to dance and lips of 32 dolls smiled khad...khad...khad.

“Hey Dolls, who are you? Why do you laugh? What is this mystery? Please tell.” Being startled King Bhoj stopped facing the throne, so at that time-, the first doll by folding her two hands stood and it was endowed with the power to speak like human being: Oh King Bhoj, we all the 32 puppets were queens of your ancestor Valiant King Vikram. This Royal Seat belonged to our Master. Therefore, if you had done works like King Vikram then only you are eligible to sit on the throne otherwise you will not succeed.‖

“Oh Mother! How were the works of King Vikram? I do not know.”

“Listen master, Vikram made written statements of Goddess of Destiny wrong.” Saying so, the first Puppet started to narrate story.

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