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 38 - Chhar Sar

Part 1

King and Mansagra minister were kith and kin. Their emotional bond was so strong that it was difficult for both to imagine life without each other. One day King’s approach towards Mansagra was surprisingly changed. King’s intimacy with Mansagra suddenely waned. Generally a king, a monkey and crowd of people are not reliable. God knows what suspicion had aroused in the mind of a king that he disgustingly resolved of not to see the face of his minister Mansagra. ‘My King! My wise king! Do not forsake hatefully the one with whom you develop intimacy.

As soul does not leave the company of a body; even if body becomes weak, similarly in any case one should not quit one’ s companion.‘

Je su bhandhal jiv te su man taravie nahi
Man sukai sarir, toy bija na thariye bandra

As mind and body are interwined, they never live apart,
If body becomes weak then also mind and body never become indifferent to each other.

Do not forsake hatefully the one with whom you develop intimacy. The same discord occurred on the day when the rift of disparity developed between swan and the sea.

Hansla undu undu huva, pankhu pasariye,
Janyu padar charo nai, kok nava nihaliye

[The sea dried up. Swan struggled hard to find food and started to fly to find a new river or pond.]

At that time, the forsaken sea said:

Hansla! Priti kagni, kast padiye udi jai;
Sachi preet seval ni, jal suke karmay.

[O swan! Those are the ways of Crows that fly away when lake is in trouble. The moss has true love because it also dries up with aird water of the lake.]

At that, time wise man told Swan:

Hansa! Sayar manviye, kariye hath jodiye
Jethi ruda lagiye, tethi tani man trod

[Swan, you persuade the sea and request gently by folding your hands. We appear better if we turn more humane towards others. We should not violate the bond of friendship.]

Hansa! Sayar seviye jeni jal barobar pal,
Ochho Raja na seviye, jeno uchalo antriyal.

[Swan you should always nurture that sea in which there is a balance between the coast and water.]

Never turst that king whose dwelling and rule is indefinite.

Swan did not pay heed; it went forever; while leaving the sea; swan ruthlessly told the sea: ‘I have so many lakes; you are not the one and only ocean.’

The ocean said ‘ok brother’:

Hansa sayar Ghana, pohap Ghana bhamresh;
Sumanash ne sumanash Ghana Marne jai videsh

[No problem, Swan, if you go to foreign countries you will definetly find many seas as flowers may get many bees but the good is rare and one who is really a good always finds good.]

Here, Pradhan kept patience. He was very hopeful that one day the king will realise his mistake. Due to God’s grace one day in form of solution Pradhan heard the following words:

Lyo re koi char sar! Ek ek sar na rupiya ek hajar!

Please take the four essence of life! One essence costs one thousand!

Samje to lakh na
Ne na samje to rakh na

If one, understand than its cost is worth Rs 1000.
If not understood than it is as valueless as ash.

Pradhan louldly asked, ‘Who is selling these four essences?’ He got up and saw that one mendicant was selling and advertising that…

‘O, brother take four essences. If one understands then one essence’ s cost is worth rs 1000. If one does not understand then, its cost is of mere dust.‘

On hearing the words of mendicant, pedesterains mocked at him. Some one addressed him as … ‘Mad… mad.’ Meanwhile from the upper storey Pradhan shouted: ‘Sai please come here.’ Pradhan called him on the upper storey, paid him four thousand rupees; and said, ‘Please give me the draft of char Sar

The mendicant gave a small paper containing char Sar. Mansagra pradhan went through it…

Krodhei vamasan so Sar, tena rupiya hazar;
Jagya so nar char tena rupiya hazar
Veri ne adarbhav so Sar, tena rupiya hazar
Astri vank mar Sar, tena rupiya hajar
Samje to lakh na
Ne na samje to rakhna

One thousand for the essence i.e. it is better to think before getting angry, because a fit of anger consequences into regret.
One thousand rupees for the essence i.e. an alert man is better.
One thousand for the essence i.e. give warm welcome to an enemy.
Rupees one thousand will be charged for the essence i.e. stubbornness of a woman deserves punishment.
If one, understand then the cost of each essence is worth rupees one thousand.
If one does not understand then it is as valueless as ash.

‘Ok Sai! Take this draft and go to the palace of the king. Do not give him this draft handto-hand. Simply paste it on the frame of the door of the king during night and come back.’ Earlier mendicants, hermits and any saintly men were very honest so nobody could stop if they went to the palace. The mendicant who was selling Char Sar went inside the palace and pasted the paper containing char Sar on the door of the palace.

Part 2

Due to God’s grace on the same night in that city, Bhavai was organised. The trumpets were blowed and continuous heavy beatings of cymbals chimed. The king went to watch a folk drama; and the king had a young sister who also wished to watch a folk drama. She went to watch folk drama in a guise of a man. She even made all her innocent sisters wear clothes of men. All made a circle. On one end, the king sat on a cot. On the other end of a cot, the king’s sisters sat in disguised attire. Nobody could make out her, as she was well equipped with all weapons like a man. She looked like a Pargam no garasiyo.

In the game, one by one, characters in disguised form started appearing. First of all came the character of a Ganesh Pradhan, then came a clown, a Brahmin and then in the last came characters playing cymbals; finally all tapped together in the rhythm and sang the following….

Vavdi khode re bhramiyo ramramjire
Navan kare re bhramiyo ram ramji re
Bhojan kare re bhramiyo ram ramji re
Pacchi vali

Bhala more mara, bhala more Rama
Aj more Rama, bhala mora Rama

Cultivate a chunk of a land and take one round Ram Ramji re.
Take bath and take one round Ram Ramji re
Take meal and take one round Ram Ramji re
Later on
My Rama is good, good is my Ramji
Today I have my Rama; my Rama is good!

Thus by singing, dancing, moving umbrella and beating a drum came a Purabiya along with women on both the sides. Later on characters entered in the dress of a Kerba. Then, all beheld stunning beginning of a drama!

Savar pad ghughar ke bajat bajai sindhu,
Vichhiya anvatki foj asvari he;
Ghughar rav janjarke pakher bi6ai ghode,
Bhujan par bajan ki dhal badi bhari hey,
Season par chiran ke neja jarin sohe,
Dhaja pataka aru kanchan jyu dhari he.

Rhythmic sounds of gunghar were similar to a cadence of waves of ocean.
A huge army of vicchiya is marching on.
Horses decked were up with armour and their ghunghar effused Music.
On both the sides shield was very heavy.
A brocaded flag looked pretty.
Flags and streamers looked like gold.

The king enjoyed the dress of kerba and he gave rupees 100 as gift. The characters of Bhavaya acknowledged the gift by making rejoyous scream like, hi khara!

Girls! ‘Brother took away our games!’ After telling so to her female attendants, the king’s sister made a declaration of rupees 200. All praised her so much that the king was exasperated. The king’s sister thought that her brother king will identify her so she rushed to the palace and slept beside her mother in a male dress. She did not change her clothes, as she was feeling very sleepy.

The king was very angry when he came back. In dim light of oil-lamps, burning in the palace: the king saw that one strange man was sleeping besides his mother. On seeing this, sixty eight thousand small hairs of body of the king stood at end due to wrath; he drew the sword and felt to cut and make pieces of both. As soon as he stepped inside the room, his eyes fell on something pasted on the door and he read:

Krodhe vamasan so sar: tena rupiya hajar!

Whenever there is a fit of anger, one should think because a fit of anger results in remorse. The value of the gist of this message is Rs 1000.

‘What is this? Who pasted it here? Certainly, there is mystery behind it.’

He controlled his anger and sat down. Once again, he saw the paper containing the four essences and went through it.

Jagya so nar Sar: tena rupiya hajar!

An alert man is better; the cost of this is one thousand!

The mystery increases. ‘Definetly there is someone who alarms me.’

‘It means I should not sleep, I should remain awake. This gist must be for me.’ After thinking so the king sat to vigil.

During the third part of the night, two birds‘talked:

‘O bird swan, how long is the life of this King?’

‘O bird swan, the life of the king is only for three days.’

‘How can the life of King will be of three days as he is healthy and has no disease?’

‘O bird swan, on the third day during the night a snake will bite the king.’

‘Why a snake will bite?’

‘One baby snake lost its tail because it got crushed under the feet of the king’ s horse. So it will come to take the revenge.‘

After talking such, the birds flew away. The king was drenched with perspiration. He went and read the script that was pasted on the door,

Veri ne adar bhav so sar…

It is good to give warm welcome to enemy.

In the morning, the first message came true. He came to knew that his own sister was sleeping with his mother in the guise of a man. Had he cut them into pieces then he would have regretted. He hoped that the second message might also come true.

‘Definitely, the snake will come to bite. What to do?’

His attention once again fell on the paper pasted on the door: The essence written on the paper was,–

Veri ne adarbhav so sar!

It is good to give respect to enemy.

‘Yes, yes serpent is my enemy as it is coming to take revenge. There must be something good in store for me. Now what type of welcome, shall I extend to my enemy?

On the third day, the king ordered to bring heap of flowers and asked to spread flowers in his bedroom. He asked to tie a string of flowers on each leg of a bed. In the evening, he asked to place bowl of kadhiyel dudh on each side of a bed. Then he sat on a bed. He was in a frightened state, but he kept faith on ‗four essences’ and remained steadfast.

One Serpent came at midnight. It rushed into the room and hissed... Fu fu. It released smoke from its mouth. The ambience of the entire palace got highly enraged. The king was about to yell but he controlled himself. As soon as Vasangi entered into the room, it started to crawl on flowers. He tried to climb up the bed but soon his mouth came into the bawl of milk. Chas!, chas! Chas!, it finished the whole glass of milk. The huge serpent then mused; ‘Now I cannot go up further as I drank his milk.’

The snake stepped back because ultimately it was heavenly snake.

Taviye pratham tambol, abhe nag adadiya
Trija nag taliya, ganiye char gadgadiya
Panchmo dhaman pana, khatmo ayyer jan;
Satmo sital sham, anthmo nag kanju,
Navmo raja fulnag, kundal sab kasiyappara
Algraj kavan ochre, rup navkal nagra.

Thus, the first is tambol and second is adadiya nag that flies in the sky.
The third one is taliya, four types is of gadgadia
The fifth is dham pana; ayyer is the dangerous one,
The seventh is’sitlo, the eight one is kanju

The nineth is ful nag, which can take any form and can emit any type of sound. It is the chief of all the serpents; it can take various type of appearance.

Thus, it was not ‗ tamboliyo nag”, not even ‗ taliyo nag”, it was also not gadgadiyo nag, it was neither ‗ dham”andayyer” nor ‗ shitlo” or ‗ kanju”. It was superior to all the species of nag. It was the ninth type of highest ‗ ful nag”. It returned and started wallowing in a flowerbed. It turned back and wallowed in velvety cluster of flowers. It played and climbed up the second leg of a cot. As it went up its mouth fell in the bowl of milk.

There also, it sipped milk, he climbed up the third leg, there it drank milk, and finally he went on the fourth leg there he drank milk. The serpent thought, ‗Now it is not good to attack him as he is lying on a bed. After drinking his milk, I came under his obligation. I must use certain new tricks.’

‘Oh, what are his obligations on me?’ ‘I will not leave him alive today?’ After thinking so, it went very high and fell on a bed from a ceiling. Once again, it fell on the heap of flowers. ‘How can I bite a person who has given me such a cordial welcome?’ The serpent was very honest because it was among the nine species of serpent. It was of a high pedigree. It was a Devangi serpent of a Vasangi lineage.

The serpent got pleased with the cordial welcome given by the king. It appeared in its original divine form and told the king,

‘King you can express any wish, I promise you to fulfil your wishes.’

The king demanded, ‘Oh, Lord Vasangi! Give me a boon of understanding language of each living being and bless me with the power of visualising the three periods (i.e. past, future and present).’

‘Oh, King! What benefit will you get by achieving this boon?’ Lord Vasangi did not find any logic in the demand of the King.

‘Oh, lord, if you want to give then give that only boon that I can understand the languages of all living beings and can visualise the three periods of time!’

‘Ok, you will get the power of understanding the languages of all living beings and can get the telepathy to visualise the three periods of time on one condition.’

‘Lord, Which condition?’

‘Oh, King, the condition is that you will never talk cowardly with a woman. If you ever talk then consider that day as your end.’ After saying this, the serpent left. On the same day, the king started to hear everything that was going in the universe. He got the power of understanding the language of ants, other insects, birds and animals and all others. He started to visualise all the happenings of past, present and future; in the universe.

One day a brother of an old queen died. He was so gentle and lucky that when his soul came out of his body it started to kiss his body. The soul did not like to be separated from the body. The serpent gave a boon to the king that he could get the knowledge of the three periods. Therefore, he beheld all the actions of his dead brother in law.On seeing this marvel, the king cried a lot.

Later on one day the brother of a new queen died. The soul of a brother started to slap with shoes on the cheeks of a body! The king even saw that, on seeing this he rolled down with laughter.

The queen got shocked and enraged to see that her own real brother had died and how could the king laugh? What is the reason? The new queen became stubborn that the king must share with her the reason for laughing over the tragic event.

‘The reason cannot be disclosed.’

‘No, you must me tell the reason! Otherwise I would kill myself with a dagger.’

The King got perplexed because if he would disclose the reason then he will die and if he does not disclose then the queen will die!

He thought, ‘I must tell the truth. In any case, if I will tell then one person is definitely going to die at this place. If death comes at this place, then no one will get salvation and there will be definitely a degeneration of soul after death. So it is better to disclose the matter on reaching Kashi so that there will not be degeneration of soul.’

The King told the queen, ‘Let us go to Kashi. I shall tell you there.’ Both of them went.

The King once again read on the door while going:

Krodhe Vamasan So var….
Jagya so nar sar…
Veri ne adarbhav so sar…
Astri vank mar so var…
Samje to lakhna
Na samje to rakhna!

It is better to think 100 times before getting angry….
An alert person is good…
The essence is to give warm welcome to an enemy.
A woman’s stubbornness deserves punishment
If one understands then the cost of one essence is worth Rs 1000,
If one does not understand then it is as valueless as ash.

On their way they came across one well. On the bank of the well a she goat and a he goat were grazing. When the king and the queen passed from there, at the same moment she goat said-

Arrr, roya he goat: I am expecting. I have desire to eat a creeper that is grown in the deep water of the well. So just, go into the deep water of the well and bring it for me at any cost.’

Then the goat replied; ‘Rand She goat I am not foolish like a king that; for you I go down into water to loose my life. If you expect such type of fondling then I can even beat you. Do you know me? I am not mad and foolish like a king that I fulfil illogical fondling of a wife.’

The goat became tight lipped. The king had a boon of a serpent that he could understand language of each living being so he understood the talk between a he goat and a she goat and he was startled. On one hand, he felt bad on being taunted by a he goat and on the other hand, he remembered one essence from the four essences that: ‘Astri vank mar so Sar’, ‘a woman’ s stubbornness deserves punishment.‘

The king soon told the queen: “Stop. Do you want to return or you want a slap of my hand? I will severely beat you here if you will remain obstinate.”

The poor queen was soon expostulated. She pleadingly told the King: ‘Please turn back, now I will never be obstinate.’

After coming back, the King noticed that all the four gists came true. He ordered to find out a person who pasted the four gists on his door.

He came to know that a man who pasted four gists was no one but his forsaken friend Mansagra Pradhan. He invited Mansagra and apologised him. Later on the king learnt not to violate relation with a wise friend. Then they ate, drank and stayed merry forever.

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