Lord Jhulelal: An Analytical Study

by Thakkar Harish Gopalji | 2018 | 62,623 words

This thesis studies Lord Jhulelal, the most important deity revered by Sindhis in India and beyond. Traditional views hold Lord Jhulelal as an incarnation of Vedic Deity Varuna (the river God). Historically, Jhulelal is a binding force for the Sindhi community who had to leave Sindh during the partition of India in order to settle at distant places...

Part 17 - Religious and Social pattern

They followed the mother Goddess and male Gods as well which is seen from the seals, figurines and stone images. According to Sir John Marshall, the deity surrounded by animals has been identified by him as Pashupati, the Indian God Shiva. It is believed that the Indus valley people cremated the dead and the ashes were immersed into the river. At the same time, it appears that the burial system was also practised by these people. There was a script which is called the Indus Script, of which around 400 signs have been discovered that mainly contains pictographic characters. However, the script has not been deciphered up till now, though there are some claims of having found the meaning which is not supported as the Indus valley population was the Racial mixture of various people and they had contributed to the development of the same. (Thakur 1959:3-5)

To summarise, a highly developed and well-established culture existed in the Indus Valley which is undoubtedly comparable with any modern culture of the urban development of modern times.

This culture had a foundation of a Patriarchal family with total control by the father or head of the family. (Thakur 1959:6). The government system was of monarchy and the ruler was assisted by Sabha and The Samiti which were like a representative assembly and the Priest was also the part of the entire system who accompanied the King to the battlefield. Normally, Monarch was hereditary and if the King was elected, a royal family member was usually chosen for it.

The caste system gradually came to be established without reference to colour. There were also sub-castes and there were divisions of caste according to the trade groups. Different duties and functions performed by people gave particular privileges and status to those people which became rigid and hereditary in course of time.

The social position of women was good, and they had sufficient freedom in choosing their partner for marriage. The ruling class was permitted polygamy, and widow marriage was also found here. (Thakur 1959:7)

The cultivation of barley was done, and they consumed barley, rice, milk and butter preparations along with meat sometimes. (The "Soma Ras" or "Soma Juice" which is widely known as a drink consumed during sacrifice was very popular. However, an upper garment was used along with undergarments at a later date. The female dancers wore embroidered garments along with ornaments like rings, armlets and anklets. The ornaments were worn on the ear by men. The vocal and instrumental music and dancing were also known. The favourite entertainment was chariot and horse races along with gambling. The elementary knowledge of medicine and surgery was known. The knowledge of Vedic literature and education was given through oral tradition.

Cows and bulls were much valued by these people as they were primarily pastoral people and the cow was treated as sacred by them. Ploughing and cultivation were practised by them. Inland trade and trade by sea (maritime trade) were done by them and Barter system of trade also existed. They also knew shipbuilding and manufacture of chariots. (Thakur 1959: 7-8)

The Gods of Aryans were evolved by the personification of natural phenomenon or natural powers. They classified them into three parts. i.e. Celestial, Atmospheric and Terrestrial Gods. The important ones were Surya (The Sun), Agni (Fire), Pruthvi (Earth) and Usha (Dawn). However, the two Gods viz. Indra and Varuna stand out above all Gods eminently.

Indra was a mighty warrior God (destroyer of demons), whereas Varuna was all-encompassing God. (Thakur 1959:8). Here Varuna assumes the special position and many adjectives are attached to him to describe him. He was the universal monarch, supporting heaven and earth, moving the sun and other heavenly bodies, regulating the seasons and causing the rain. It was believed that through his occult powers, he causes and regulates the flow of rivers.

What is stated in the above paragraph is sufficiently indicative of the supreme position of Vedic Deity Varuna in this period along with Indra. This also shows that the people of this region were staunch believers in the powers of Vedic deity Varuna and Indra.

The mountains and rivers were worshipped as Gods. The Gods were pleased by sacrifices and prayers, but idols were not installed or worshipped. The purpose of performing sacrifices was to obtain a place in heaven. The guilty were punished and sent to hell. In due course of time, with the assimilation of non-Aryans, many changes took place.

Subsequently, there was the assimilation of non-Aryans also in the culture and popular religion included magical rites and formulas to please the demons to receive their blessings for self and curses on their enemies. There was a great importance attached to sacrifices and their performance that developed into a science and it touched the human life in every aspect. During the Samaveda and Yajurveda period, the sacrificial cult was evolved. The correct performance of rites and ceremonies was very important, and it required technical knowledge by the priests, who became much powerful. (Thakur 1959:8-9). Some new Gods like Shiva and Vishnu were created.

The ever-increasing technicality and intricacy of performing sacrifices created some reaction because the common people were not able to perform and adhere to such stringent and elaborate performances all the time. This brought about a change which was a major shift from the sacrificial system. The simple ceremonies came into practice and Meditation was advocated. The Upanishads played an important role and Brahman and souls were searched and studied.

As the Aryans conquered more regions and moved towards the east, there was a gradual assimilation of non-Aryan elements which were socially different. At the same time, because of limited scope for expansion and isolation to some extent, Sindh did not become rigid in its social structure and preserved its flexibility and liberal nature of its social and religious institutions which represent its culture during the course of this period. Even though it was somewhat secluded its contact with the rest of India were maintained. Its capital was Multan city having an important geographical location and it was a contact centre with the rest of India. The capital city of Multan was a connecting link with Punjab and Kashmir and was so important during this period that Sindhis have been called Multanis till recent times in Mumbai. The Sindhis came in contact with western culture for next four centuries. This was the time when Sindh was invaded by foreign armies one after another.

Sindh was the province of King Darius (525-486 BC) during the invasion of Persian King (Thakur 1959:10). It is seen that Sindh was invaded by a number of foreign powers during the subsequent period which induced the Persians, Greeks, Scythians and Kushans. They did not have much to offer to Sindh. In course of time, they adapted to the local environment and Hindu religion and Hindu names and assimilated in the culture of Sindh.

It is noted that Buddhism and Jainism flourished in Sindh as a reaction to the sacrificial practices and their philosophy was different than Vedic philosophy. The principles they taught were Ahimsa (non-violence), love and peace, brotherhood and truth. The principles and teachings resulted in people becoming self-centred, lethargic and militancy became weak and unorganised. (Thakur 1959: 12)

There were internal rivalries and people were harassed by foreign invasions and suffered a lot of hardships. This phenomenon once again had a reverse effect on the society and it led the people to come back and pay attention once again to the old Vedic religion. Out of this chaos and re-arrangement, a warrior class called Rajputs came to rise in the society. The Brahmins ensured their dignity and support in society. The Rajputs were certainly the brave community and they can be attributed with qualities like courage, valour, patriotism along with honour, hospitality, simplicity and bravery.

For five generations Rajput dynasty was in power and their capital was Alor. There was peace and prosperity and its boundaries extended from Multan to the sea and to the desert to the hills, including a part of Baluchistan. Sindh is described as follows during this period. "Sindh was a lovely land situated in a delightful climate, in fertile plain traversed by the beneficent Mehran, with large flourishing and populous cities and producing every kind of tree and fruit. It was rich and prosperous country governed by a powerful Hindu monarch and was a flourishing state. Sindh is fully attested to by its own historians. (Thakur 1959: 14)

The people who resided in Sindh were Rajputs, Lohanas, Samar and Sumares along with Saraswat Brahmans and Lakhis. Both the religions, Hinduism and Buddhism, flourished side by side with Brahmin King and a Buddhist Governor. However, the ideological dualism present in the country at that time also had inherent weakness and it resulted in great consequences for a long period of time.

When Muhammad Kasim invaded the Sindh in 711 A.D. it was the darkest period in the history of Sindh. He conquered city after city like Debal, Sehwan, Brahmanabad and Multan in a period of just one and half years and the prosperous Hindu Kingdom and a great civilisation came to an end. The effect of Arab victory brought many changes in the lives of residents of Sindh. The Hindu population was subjected to a tax and there was a conversion on large scale, temples were demolished and converted into mosques. The Arabs learnt from the Hindus the science of Astronomy, Mathematics, Medicine, Chemistry and Philosophy and presented this to Europeans. (Thakur 1959:14-15)

The Hindu population which was thrown out from major cities by conquerors either embraced the new faith or took shelter in the adjoining states with Hindu population. The social life in Sindh was adjusted and the position of women declined, purdah was enforced, infant marriage became common and there were restrictions on the movement of women. There was a transformation in the religion as Buddhism and Jainism became extinct during this period. The 'Dargahs' or 'Pirs' became places of pilgrimage and fairs which were attended by both these faiths, though rival in nature.

There was double character or name to celebrated spots i.e. Raja Bhartari came to be known as Lal Shahabaz, Pir Patto (Pattho) known as Pir Sultan, Jinda Pir became known as Khwaja Khizr, Lalu Jasraj (Dada Jasraj) as Pir Mangho and Uderolal as Sheikh Tahir. (Thakur 1959: 18)

Here, it may be noted that Lord Jhulelal is known by many names and two mentioned above namely Jinda Pir and Uderolal, are the names by which Lord Jhulelal is known. It is difficult to say when and how this transformation occurred but even today in Kutch, one finds such places which are known by two names and are usually worshiped by two sects.

River Indus assumed great importance in the lives of the people of Sindh. The principal religion of Hindus was Indus Culture. The river was responsible to create and sustain the valley and assumed for the people of Sindh a regular food supply as the soil was very fertile. The Indus was worshipped in the form of water and light as the Indus was lifeline to the people of Sindh.

The earliest representation of the God of Indus was found in the form of a human deity sitting on a water lily flower which is placed over a Pala fish. The Pala fish is large sized Salmon fish, unique to Sindhu river. (Vaswani 2008:133) Subsequently, he was represented as a river King (this can be translated as Dariyalal) or a warrior who emerges from the water of Indus river with the regiment of soldiers behind him and is seen holding a sword in his hands along with a flag. He was ultimately identified as Khwaja Khijr by Muslims. His important temples are at two places, at Uderolal (name of the place) and Sukkur. (Thakur 1959: 20)

Every year, huge fairs were held on the banks of river Indus on new year’s day and on the Indus flood day. There would be a celebration in the form of procession and Chhej (inundation) dance and light installed in a river temple (Baharana).

This seems to be the earliest manifestation of river God or Dariyalal or Indus God and the place by name Uderolal would have a certain connection with the Deity Lord Jhulelal also called Uderolal.

The river cult had a great hold upon the Indus valley people, the Indus valley civilization and in turn their day to day life, their cultivation of barley and agriculture, their Gods, nature, spirits, the origin of creation, life and prosperity and their concept of life beyond death. Their calendar, their songs and dances, their religious culture and their river God were all based on the phenomenon of inundations of Indus.

It was the principal religion of Lohanas who claimed their origin through the blessing of River God, and at the dawn of history, the Darya itself was also called Lohana Darya as frequently mentioned by Capt. McMurdo. (Thakur 1959: 21). The river cult has its sacred place in Uderolal in Sindh and the civilization which blossomed in the Indus valley has been found extended beyond Sindh, as the same river cult is found all through Punjab and Northern India, even though the location of Uderolal is in Sindh.

In Gujarat, one finds a place in every Lohana village which has been built in honour of this Pir (Darya Pir). In this place, a lamp is kept burning throughout day and night which is called 'Akhand Jyot' which is kept lighted using ghee (clarified butter). A festival is celebrated here in the month of Chaitra.

As stated earlier that Lohana people also firmly believe that Daryalal is their principal deity. The description given above about a place in every Lohana village to honour this Pir (Darya Pir) is sufficiently indicative of the existence of Daryalal as principal deity of Lohanas, in whom they have tremendous faith. In Southwest Punjab also, river worship is common. The priests of this cult are called 'Thakkars' and they pray to Darya Sahib and believe that he can grant them what is desired by them.

The above narration has been taken by Dr. Thakur from:

• Enthoven, Tribes and Castes of Bombay, p 361,
• Elliot, The History of India, Vol. I, p 363, E.H.
• Aitken Op. Cit. p 383
• Census of India, 1911, Punjab Vol XIV, Part I, Report, p 124.

The influence of River God (Darya Sahib) is found so much in Sindh that sometimes people have confusion between Lord Krishna and Darya Sahib. At times, it is the Indus and at times it is Lalji at Sehwan who was the founder of Krishna temple. He is addressed and worshipped as Amarlal, the meaning of which is the one who is Immortal. In Eastern Punjab, the Hindus and Mohammedans equally worship Khwaja Khizra as a water spirit. Some others believe that Zinda Pir was a personification of river God i.e. Darya Sahib. The cult was found to be spread to Marwar as well, however, Multan was the place where the largest number of worshippers of this culture were found. (Thakur 1959: 21).

The amount of information and the description supported by citations of Thakur's Sindhi culture and his citations from various scholars leave definite impression on the mind of researcher that the worship of River God, Water God, Darya Pir, Zinda Pir, Uderolal, Amarlal and some more names by which he is known was in existence from ancient times in Sindh. It was not only restricted to Sindh but had its influence in the adjoining regions or places of this country, such as Kutch in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra. The researcher is sufficiently convinced that what the Sindhis and Lohanas rightfully believe that Jhulelal or Dariyalal is their community deity and has a great influence on them even today.

When Sindh was invaded by Arabs in 8thCentury, the predominant religion in Sindh was Hindu and Multan was an important city. A Chinese traveller by name Hiuen Tsang had reported eight Hindu temples including one Sun temple in Multan. (Thakur 1959: 18)

In this region, Hindus and Buddhists flourished side by side. There was a Brahmin King and he had Buddhists in Government administration as Governors. It is perhaps due to teachings of non-violence of Buddha, the fighting spirit of the Sindhi people in this region had substantially declined. Around this period i.e. 711 A.D. Mohammad Kasim invaded Sindh on the instructions of Khalifa of Baghdad. The Hindu King by name Dahir was the ruler of Sindh during that time. He gave a brave fight to Kasim. However, due to betrayal by some of his own people from his kingdom he had to accept the defeat. As a result of Kasim’s victory, a large number of soldiers of King Dahir were killed. After Arabs, there were Tartars, Afghans, Turks and Mughals who also invaded Sindh region and the native Sindhis had to take shelter in the nearby region and small towns to save themselves from conversion (Thakur 1959:14-16). Later on, in the 11th century, Muhammad of Ghazni invaded Sindh.

However, from 1050 A.D. onwards for next 250 years, Sindh was ruled by Hindu Kings Sumras. They were defeated by Allauddin Khilji.

Next, once again Hindu rulers Sammas ruled this region until 1592 and then King Akbar conquered this region. During the end of 17th century there was Kalhora dynasty here till 1739 A.D. For next one hundred years there was Mir dynasty and in the year 1843 finally the British conquered this region and ruled it till 1947.

Before partition of India in 1947, the majority population of Hindus in Sindh was residing in cities and the rest was spread all over Sindh. However, after the partition, most of the Hindus had to migrate to India for fear of life and due to fear of conversion. (Joshi 1976 Vol 9:799). Before independence, the Sindhis were present in large percentage in Sindh but after partition, they became a minority in Pakistan.

The Sindhi community quickly adapted to these new places. To begin with they started making products that could be manufactured at home which supported them in their initial period after migration. The cottage industries manufacturing hundreds of products ranging from household products to industrial products were established by Sindhi people in such places. (Joshi 1976 Vol 9:798) Slowly but steadily the Sindhi people settled in many parts of independent India earning their livelihood by putting in hard work and efforts.

Let's grow together!

I humbly request your help to keep doing what I do best: provide the world with unbiased sources, definitions and images. Your donation direclty influences the quality and quantity of knowledge, wisdom and spiritual insight the world is exposed to.

Let's make the world a better place together!

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: