Call From Heaven For Gonu Jha

GonuJhaStories-eMithilaHaat.comMithila is a land rich in culture and traditions. Apart from contributing such a great heritage, Mithila has also given our country many amazing personalities who have contributed in a number of sectors.One of among them is Gonu Jha, who lived during the 13th century. He was in King Hari Singh’s kingdom.

He was well-known for his witty humor and intelligence with which he spellbound a lot of people and also garnered a lot of appreciation from the King. He can be called as Mithila’s very own version of Birbal or Tenali Raman! There are a lot of stories and examples where Gonu Jha proves his intellect and humor. He was known for his sharp presence of mind.

Last time we introduced you to Mithila’s Birbal, Gonu Jha. You read how his wit and cleverness fetched him the position of Chairman of Charities in the kingdom. Read the previous story here if you missed it.

A Call From Heaven Gonu Jha-eMithilaHaat.com

Gonu Jha was well known for his wit and repartee who used to entertain the king and ministers in funny instances. King was very much impressed with Gonu Jha. Few ministers were jealous of his growing popularity in the kingdom and respect in the eyes of King. These few ministers wanted to get rid of him at any cost. And among them was one barber who wanted to be out of his way very miserably. The barber was proud of his intelligence and so took up the task of getting rid of Gonu Jha.

The grave of King’s father was in a garden of the kingdom where king used to visit daily and pay homage to his father. One such day, the king found a letter.

Dear Son Hari,

I know you love me so much and I am so happy with the times spent there with you. I am facing problem in my prayer. Please send Gonu Jha for my assistance. There is a graveyard to the east of village. You will find a heap of brick there. Seat him on it, put planks and set him on fire. He will directly reach to me. I will send him back after few days.

Blessings,

Your Father

The king got perplexed after reading the letter. Logical argument started in king’s head on reading the letter. He was unable to zero on any conclusion whether it was really his father or it was any conspiracy. King was aware of Gonu Jha’s growing popularity and growing base of enemies. King returned to kingdom and informed the ministers regarding the letter. Gonu Jha’s enemies became happy and started murmuring “Gonu is so lucky for getting the opportunity to serve King’s father in heaven” , “Gonu is a saintly soul that he is going to visit heaven in his life”, “I do not have such luck, I would have happily accepted the offer if we were approached.” and so many fuss. Hearing all of these the barber said “Lord will be unhappy if Gonu Jha does not go as he has asked him to come personally. Not all are capable that’s why lord has asked for Gonu Jha’s assistance.” King was in deep thoughts over the issue and thought of going straight to Gonu as last resort.

Gonu Jha had been listening all of these quietly and was able to smell something fishy in the whole incident. During whole time he was trying to devise a way to deal with the situation.  When the king approached Gonu with the issue, he asked for three things:

  • 3 months time
  • Until I return from heaven, my family should be paid 10000 per month.
  • I need 50000 before going to heaven so that I arrange all stuffs for my family.

King was surprised listening that Gonu Jha was ready to go to heaven. “Will you really go to heaven Gonu?”, the king asked. Yes, lord. You do not worry even a bit. I will go to heaven and help your father and come back.”, said Gonu. The king accepted Gonu’s demands with a heavy heart. Some ministers who loved Gonu were tensed and some who were jealous of him were happy on listening that Gonu Jha had agreed to go to heaven. The barber was very much happy to know his plan was working in his favor.

Soon 3 months passed and everybody gathered at the graveyard located to the east of village to bid adieu to Gonu Jha. Everybody from the village except few ministers were sad and crying. But there was not a single wrinkle on Gonu’s face. He was smiling and confident. He smilingly sat on the pile of bricks as written in the letter. Plancks were put on him and was set on on fire. The barber and ministers were happy to get rid of Gonu. Days passed. Months passed. Everybody including the king was sad by the absence of Gonu Jha. One day the king was discussing something about Gonu and suddenly one guard came running to the king and said Gonu Jha was sighted coming to the kingdom. Gonu has put on good amount of weight and he was healthier than before. The barber was in sweat seeing this.

Gonu came before the king and said “Lord, I am coming from heaven and your dad is healthy. But his hair and beard has grown long and needs a shave very badly.” The barber started running after listening to Gonu and seeing himself in the trap. But the soldiers got hold of him and presented before the king. “You were speaking too much when Gonu was going to heaven the previous time. Why are you scared now?”, said the king. On sensing that if he does not disclose the matter before court, he will have to die; the barber said everything in detail about how he wrote letter and placed at the King’s father tomb to get rid of Gonu Jha. “Gonu Jha knows black magic and so he was out of the fire without a single burn”, said the disturbed and fearful barber.

Gonu was asked to explain how he dodged the death from fire and returned after 6 months. “After seeing the letter, I was sure that there was something fishy in it and so I started thinking of an escape from it. I made a tunnel from the graveyard to my house in the 3 months I had asked for and used it when I was seated on the brick heap. I secretly started investigating and came to know the involvement of the barber in this. If I would have told these without proof, no one would have believed me. So, I thought of geeting the person behind this caught red handed.”, said the proud Gonu Jha.  The barber was punished and sentenced imprisonment while Gonu Jha was given away prize for his bravery and presence of mind.

We will come with a new story in our coming blog post soon. Till then do let us know your views and feedback.

Uchaitha Bhagwati: A Foolish Husband To Kalidas

A Journey To UchaithBhagwati-eMithilaHaat.com

Maa Durga, the divine mother of the universe is considered an incarnation of power, glory, knowledge and wisdom. People have been worshipping Maa Durga since ages. She is the form of pure energy also called ‘Shakti’ in Sanskrit and Hindu religious context. There are many places in India where goddess is worshiped in different ways. In the eastern regions of India the four day occasion of Durga puja is known to be a huge celebration. Similarly, in the northern areas Navratri is considered the biggest festival devoted to Maa Durga and her many avatars which is celebrated for a period of 10 days. India has many notable temples like the Twenty-three Palli Durga Temple Kolkata, Shila Devi temple at Amber Jaipur, Ambaji Temple in Gujarat and many more devoted to the Aadi Shakti.

UchaithBhagwati-eMithilaHaat.comOut of these Aadi Shakti Peeth places one is the “Uchaitha Bhagwati” in  Mithilanchal which is considered to be the holy place which changed the life of Kalidas.  Located in Benipatti (a subdivision of Madhubani), the original temple was built before 100 BC when the region was a jungle. Lord Rama, Sita and Janak are believed to have worshipped here. However, the present structure was built during the 1960s. The idol of Goddess Durga in black stone placed in the sanctum sanctorum (garbha graha) of the temple shows her sitting high on the back of a lion in bliss and blessing mood. This is very different from her usual angry and supreme power image, where she rides a fierce lion. Even the lion carved in this temple is sitting in a very calm posture. Here the Goddess is depicted having four arms. She is holding a sword with a wide knife (khadag) in her left hand and a chakra in the right one. She is sitting in a pleasant pose (sukhasana) and has a chakra sculpted on the sole of her feet.

Story Of Kalidas And Uchaitha Bhagwati

KalidasUchaithBhagwati-eMithilaHaatKalidas was married to a princess named Vidyotma who was a great scholar. One day Kalidas left home and came to Uchhaith Bhagwati after being insulted by his wife because of his foolishness. There was a Sanskrit school in the east of the temple and there was a river in between the temple and school. Kalidas started working as a cook in the school. After few days came the season of monsoon and the river flooded with continuous rain. Every day students from the school used to do evening prayers in the temple after cleaning it. Because of flooded river students were not able to go to the temple for offering prayer and they managed to convince Kalidas to swim the river and offer evening prayer.Raghuwansham-eMithilaHaat.com They told him to leave a mark in the temple as a proof that he visited the temple and did evening prayer. Swimming the flooded river Kalidas crossed the river and reached the temple. After lighting the Diya and offering prayer Kalidas started finding something to leave a mark. But he could not find anything. Suddenly he noticed the wall which had gone dark by the smoke of Diya. He took some black smoked ash from the wall on his finger and started searching a place where he could mark. As the whole temple wall was full of black marks because of the smoke, he thought of leaving a mark on Goddess’s face. As he moved his hand forward to mark Goddess’s face, she appeared before him seeing his utter devotion and dedication to finish the task he had taken up. He asked goddess for Vidya Dan (Knowledge) as he was insulted by his wife because of his foolishness. Devi said Tathastu and told him that he will have knowledge of as many books he will touch that whole night.RaghuVansham-eMithilaHaat.com  After reaching the school and feeding students he collected books from every student and touched all of them. Rest is the history. Kalidas has many unparalleled poetries in his name like Kumar Sambhav, Raghuvansh, Meghdut and many more. Not a single person returns empty handed from this temple. On gaining the utmost literary knowledge, Kalidasa became the pioneer of ancient Indian literature. That is why this place is also known as Siddhipith of Kali Das or the Kalidas Deeh. The story of Kalidas is very beautifully depicted on the walls which is certainly a unique experience.

The road to Uchaitha Bhagwati also known as Uchaithasthan is a unique experience. On both sides it is surrounded with statues of the intellectuals from Mithila. After crossing the Madhubani–Sitamarhi highway and reaching Benipatti, it is the Saharghat main road where the Uchaitha village is entrenched deep. Once inside the temple establishment, there are two more temples viz: the Kamdanath Shiv Mandir and Maa Gayatri temple in the eastern corner. You will be amazed to see the rare and remarkable collection of Shivalinga and a Yagya Mandap which is all set for rituals alongside the Gayatri Temple.

Because of the efforts of the government this place has now been included in Sam Vikas Yojna. This decision has led to a more widespread name for the heritage temple. India is a diverse country rich in its culture and traditions. As young citizens, we hold the responsibility to promote our heritages like Uchaitha Sthan.

 

Singheshwar Sthan – A Gem In Madhepura

India has been a holy land of worship since time immemorial. It is home to many ancient forts and temples. We are unaware about many of them. Bihar is one such state where many temples were built during the ancient times and can be found today. Singheshwar is one of the divisions of Bihar’s Madhepura district.SingheshwarSthanDecorated-eMithilaHaat 8 kms from the Madhepura district headquarters there lies a place known for its religious and historical importance, Singheshwar Sthan temple. It is a popular pilgrimage of Lord Shiva in the country. The temple is daily echoed with number of prayers and aarti performed by people from all over the globe. This place has earned vast religious belief and devotion by people from Bihar and Nepal.

Various stories and myths are prevalent related to the formation of Singheshwar Sthan temple. Its reference is also found in the Varaha Puran.SingheshwarSthanShivLinga-eMithilaHaat It is said that this place was once full of trees and grasslands. Cattle grazers used to come with their cattle to feed them on the grass. They once observed a virgin cow who daily sprinkled milk at a particular place. The place was dug and they discovered a Shivlinga. This place was then built into a small temple by the people who had faith in lord Shiva. It is believed that this place was once the Tapobhoomi of Rishi Shringi who was a devotee of Lord Shiva.

According to another myth, Goddess Kali, Laxmi and Saraswati incorporated into the form of Goddess Durga and she was called Singheshwari (lion rider). Her counterparts Lord Brahma, Vishnu and Mahakal Shankar incorporated into the eternal form of God Singheshwar. It is said that during the period of Ramayana, King Dashrath performed a Yagya at this place and was then blessed with four sons. Also, the seven ‘Hawan Kundas’ created during the olden times have now become destroyed tanks. The devotees worship idol of Shiva, Shivlinga. People bring offerings for the God and the idol is given a milk bath.

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Singheshwar Sthan is not only visited by the people of Bihar, but a large number of pilgrims of the neighboring areas of Nepal and other parts of world also visit this place for worshiping Lord Shiva. Instead of being such an important Shiva temple of the country, it is not easy to reach the place because of roads to the temple in a bad condition which makes traveling risky. The people of this area are dominantly underprivileged and the land is flood prone.

Every year, the Singheshwar Sthan temple organizes a Mahashivratri Mela attended by thousands of people. The temple property has now been declared as public property, which is being managed by a Trust Committee consisting of the officials of Madhepura district. It was once a holy place with clean environment, whereas now it is relatively in a bad state. Number of people visiting the temple is huge whereas the place for accommodation is quite scarce. Though this place is famous and a pride for not only the people of Mithilanchal but also for whole country, this heritage is still unknown to many people of the country.

Tiruhuta – The Maithili Script

Have you heard of the word Paataa? Well, neither did I until I read about this dying script of the Maithili language known as Mithilakshar or Tirhuta, the script of the land of Tirabhukti, present day Tiruhut or Mithila. Today the script Tirhuta exists only in form of art works like paataa which is a handwritten invitation card. Maithili language is widely spoken across the states of Bihar and few regions of Janakpur (Nepal). But due to the negligence of Government and lack of scholars, the decrease in use of Tirhuta is quite evident. Going back to its past, Tirhuta script was historically used to write Maithili which is an Indo-Aryan language. In Mahabharata one can get the oldest references to Tirhuta script in the Janaki Mandir (temple of Janaks) of Janakpur where Rama and Sita wed.  This place had a major role in the development of Sanskrit language.

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Not surprisingly, Mithilakshar has a lot in common with the Bengali script. The related script used in West Bengal and Bangladesh is commonly called Bengali alphabet. Bengali alphabet has many letters which are written similarly in both Tirhuta and Bengali. Tirhuta script has a style of writing from left to right. It has an Abugida (segmented) system of writing comprising of eighty-two characters with consonant letters and vowels.

We all have heard of the Braille system but very few of us know about metal fonts of a script that were cut in 1920s. Fonts for this script were developed in 2003 and in the same year the Government of India included Maithili in the eighth schedule of the Indian constitution as a scheduled language and independent of Hindi. Devanagari is the script of Maithili which has been officially recognized in primary and secondary education whereas Tirhuta is recognized optionally. Although Devanagari script replaced Tirhuta, it is still used by Pandits for writing ceremonial letters and documents sometimes.

TirhutaFont-eMithilaHaat.comWhile we learn a language in depth we look at the basic elements in its script. Tirhuta is purely alphabetical and is divided into three groups: Vowels, Consonants and Semi-vowels.  When we take the numerals of this script, it uses its own signs for the positional decimal numeral system. A very curious note about Tirhuta is that it abounds in angles and has no circle.

Until the advent of Kaithi (another script of Maithili), Tirhuta was used for all purposes throughout Mithila for a long period. It was later confined to academic and cultural affairs as Kaithi occupied the domain of administration, trade and commerce. The two dominant castes who used the Tirhuta script were Brahmans and Kayasthas, but allured by the printing facility they took up Devanagari, also called as Nagarakshar as an alternative script. Tracing back to its evolution, Tirhuta has its development rooted in the Brahmi script. It is interesting to note the changes in order.

  1. Brahmi was found in the edicts of Ashoka inserted on the Stupa in Lauria village.
  2. Gupta script or Kutilakshara is seen in numerous seals found in Vaishali excavations.
  3. Videhi or Gaudi appears in inscriptions of kings of Pala dynasty scattered in eastern and southern Mithila and Magadha.
  4. Magadhi (common source of early Bengali, Assamese and Oriya) appears in manuscripts of Nepal.
  5. Tirhuta

These images illustrate the history of Mithilaksharin its own script.

SacredAnji-eMithilaHaat.com

This image is a sacred sign of Lord Ganesha (Anji) used for millennia by students before they begin Tirhuta studies.

In modern India, we don’t find such scripts used in language medium but there are many who live and carry their dedication for dying scripts of ancient history. Anshuman Pandey, a researcher AnshumanPandey-eMithilaHaat.comat MIT Media Labs and a student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Massachusetts is working on projects to enable the representation of Tirhuta script in digital media. It is not uncertain to find someone belonging to a certain community being amateur to his/ her language. The Maithili script in a similar manner is obsolete in India even among Maithili speaking population. Thus, his inspiration to save the script. After much research and consideration in 2014 Tirhuta script was added to the Unicode standard.

NitinChandraNationalAwardForMithilaMakhan-eMithilaHaat.com

Mithila Makhan, a Maithili film by director Nitin Chandra on the backdrop of the 2008 Kosi deluge, the film captures the plight of those who faced the river’s wrath, losing lives, land, and livelihood to it. Use of Mithilakshar in credits of the movie by Nitin certainly needs to be appreciated. The film brought us a National Award for best film in Maithili. The film was one among the three films that had a world premiere at the recently concluded International Film Festival of South Asia (IFFSA) in Toronto.

Tirhuta, a dying yet surviving script still exists among the traditional norms that people follow in ceremonies and in few rural communities in Bihar and Nepal. Let’s keep using the script for invitation cards and other ceremonial activities as much as we can so that we can keep one of India’s classical script alive.

Shiva Dhanush And Mithila

The Bow Of Lord Shiva; As Mighty As Lord Shiva Himself.

‘Dhanush’ is a Hindi word for Bow and Shiva Dhanush also known as ‘Pinaka’ refers to the bow that belongs to Lord of Lords Shiva. It is interesting to know the association of Pinaka and Mithila. What happened to the mighty bow. Any guesses?

Ages ago according to Ramayana, Lord Vishwakarma who is believed to be the principal architect of the universe, crafted two divine Dhanush. The first one ‘Sharanga’ was given to Lord Vishnu and the second one ‘Pinaka’ was given to Lord Shiva. Pinaka was given as a gift to the king of Mithila Raja Devarratha by Lord Shiva himself as he was happy with his worship and devoutness. King Devarratha was an ancestor of king Janak and hence Pinaka was passed down to him as an ancestral property. King Janak of Mithila had a daughter named Sita. Earlier in her childhood, princess Sita while playing with her sisters accidentally lifted the table over which the Pinaka was placed, which was something unbelievable as no one in the kingdom could do that. This incident was observed by King Janak and became a base for Swayamvar of princess Sita.

LordRam Swaymvar-eMithilaHaat.com

Later, King Janak announced that whomsoever wanted to marry Sita is invited to Mithila and is required to lift the mighty bow Pinaka and string it. Hearing this prince from all over the country gathered including Lord Shri Ram from Ayodhya and king of Lanka Ravana. Finally, Shri Rama broke the Pinaka while attempting to string it during Swayamvar of Sita and thereby winning princess’s hand in marriage.

After the marriage when Dashrath (king of Ayodhya and father of Lord Rama) along with Prince Rama were returning to Ayodhya, Parashuram (6th avtar of Lord Vishnu) blocked their way as he was displeased because he broke his Guru Shiva’s Pinaka. King Dashrath prayed to Parashuram to exonerate Lord Rama but his request was not accepted and he challenged Lord Rama to string the bow and fight. Rama takes the bow, strings it, places the arrow and points it straight at the challenger’s heart. At this point, Parashuram feels his mystical energy and realizes that Lord Rama is the avatar of Vishnu. He accepts that Rama was superior. Lord Rama takes Sharanga from Parashuram and gives it to Varuna, Lord of oceans for safe keeping.

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Among many tales, there is a tale which is mentioned in the 75th sarga of Bala Kanda of Ramayana. This was narrated by Parashuram to Lord Rama before challenging him to String sharanga. Devas wanted to test the superiority of Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva so they asked Lord Brahma to decide who is more powerful. This intent of Devas started to create adversities among the two Lords, Shiva and Vishnu. Owing to their animosity then occurred a fierce and blood-curdling war among Shiva and Vishnu, as each aspired victory for himself. The ‘HMMMM‘ sound generated by Lord Vishnu was so intense and powerful that it  not only overpowered mighty bow of Lord Shiva but also immobilized the three-eyed Mahadev. Thus, mighty bow Pinaka remains useless and Lord Vishnu’s bow Sharanga prevails.

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India is a land of diverse culture, numerous heritages and various gods and goddess. The stories might be just beliefs of people or can be real facts. But people believe in them not because of a tale but because of the places that witnessed these events are present even today. In this story, Mithila is the place that witnessed these events and is mentioned in Ramayana which is still present in India and there are evidences that support this legend.