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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Raja Salhesh

I found some information about Raja Salhesh inthe following pages of Dr. Charu Smita Gupta

During a field study in 1992, I had visited Village Sardiha in Saharsa district in Bihar, where
living shrines of Sailhesh were seen at Saurath, Jitwarpur, Ranthi in Madhubani, Allalpalli,
Kedarabda in Darbhanga. Brambaba, Bhuiyan baba shrines in Allalpalli, Kedarabda Villages in
Darbhanga and on the outskirts of the village Chunhati in Darbhanga. Village Shishu in
Darbhanga has two living shrines of Sanichar Dehwad and Bhuiyan than, where terracotta horses
are offered as the votive offering on wish fulfillment. Than in this part of Bihar is a place of
worship of local folk deities. Different communities may have different local deities which are
worshipped by them, but for wish fulfillment members of other communities may also offer their
prayers. Sailesh has been the deity of Dushads a community from this region. Apart from the
Sailesh Shrine, there is literature and paintings on Baba Sailesh. The potter of the region make
the depicted icons of Sailesh and other folk deities on their respective vehicles. Three legends of
Sailesh, Brambaba and Bhuiyak are described here.
Salhesh than
Salhesh is associated with the humble Dushad community. No other community offers the
worship to Salhesh than.
Legend about the worshippers
Regarding the origin of the Dushads, it is believed by them that they are originally from the
kshatri caste but they were neither the warriors nor owned any fields, therefore they started
tending the pigs. They were excommunicated from the Kshatri group, for this reason by and
large the members of the community do not have any land holdings and have worked as the
laborers in the fields owned by others.The second legend about their origin is that Dushads were
the skilled thieves and since they would always cheat their masters, they could never enough
money or land.
Legend pertaining to Salhesh has described him as a king, who was wrongly accused for a crime
he did not commit. The theft for which Sailesh was accused was actually commited by another
Dushad called Chuhadmal. I observed in the field, that the informants in all the villages i.e.
Savrath, Jitwarpur, Ranthi in Madhubani felt a sense of pride while describing the part of legend
where Chuhadmal, the servant had made an underground tunnel across the wide span of the river
Ganga to carry across and hide his booty. The informant at Ranti, Shri Mahbir Chaupal told that
Chuhadmal had pledged river Ganga to offer her fatenga/podi (female goat child) along with a
charkha of gold. However, when Ganga allowed the path way, he offered just 101 hair of podi
and forgot all about charkha. Ganga was annoyed on this breach of pledge and consequently
Chuhadmal was caught for this default in pledge. The potter of village Magrauni, Madhubani
said that, since Dushad, are the thieves, they pray to Salhesh and Chuhadmal before going on any
such mission. Shri Mohan Pandit, one of the potters from the village also added that generally
the direction in which they have to go for committing the theft is decided by child of this
community, who is made to stand in front of the shrine and asked by the adults in which
direction they should go for their job. Therefore, it is very necessary for any village with large
population o Dushads to have a Salhesh than.
Legend of Salhesh
Salhesh is described as a king from Satyug. His father was Narpat Naresh (king) and mother was
Mandodari Rani (queen). He was a handsome king and had the power to disguise himself as a
parrot. So that he could wander in the forest fearlessly. He was very fond of wandering here and
there, but very pious. He could also walk on water. He lived in Mohis tha, a deeh (place) in
district Sarsa, Nepal. There was a large sarovar (pond) named Manikdah about 14 miles from
the palace. Raja Salhesh would every day go to this sarovar for bath and offer flowers to the
goddess Bhagwati in phulwari. Salhesh had two brothers Moti Ram and Bundheshwar. Salhesh
had a parrot named Heeraman, who brought him news from far and near. He traveled on an
elephant with Mangal mahavat (the elephant trainer).
The phulwari where Raja Salhesh went, was also visited by four sisters from mali community
namely Reshma, Kusuma, Dauna and Hiriya. Raja Salhesh sung anchara 12 varsh bandha (she
remained in pledge to marry him for 12 years). During one of his hunting sprees, Salhesh killed
deer, which belonged to Rajkumari Chandrawati daughter of Raja Kulheshwar of Pakaria, this
place is presently in Nepal near Phulbar. The deer had eaten away the flowers from the garden
which was tended by Kusuma, the malin. Raja Kulheshwar invited him to game of dice with the
precondition that who so ever shall loose, shall work as a chowkidar in the other’s place. Raja
Salhesh lost the game, thus he had to keep his word.
Raja Kulheshwar had a devoted and sincere paherdar Chuhadmal a Dushad, who was working
for him for 12 years. He was removed unceremoniously without receiving any salary payments
for the services he rendered. Raja Salhesh was appointed instead. This annoyed Chuhadmal to
the extent that he pledged to river Ganga to commit a theft in the palace of Raja Kulheshwar. It
is said that he dug an underground tunnel about 2 miles long from his house, in Mokama across
Ganges to the palace. He took away all the jewels of Chandrawati, undressed her and tied her to
the bed. This was done when Salhesh was the guard and Raja Kulheshwar was away. A
particular jewellery is described as hansuli, the neck ornament. Kuleshwar on his return
suspected Salhesh and thus put him behind the bar. It was very important for Salhesh to prove
his innocence to the Raja. At this juncture, the four malin sisters came to his rescue. Two of the
malin sisters, Dona and Kusuma were also the fortune teller. They guessed from their
knowledge that Chuhadmal was the actual thief. But how to catch him. The four sisters went to
Chuhadmal’s house as godana godani (making designs on body). They entered the inner
apartment of his house and saw his wife wearing the hansuli which belonged to Chandrawati.
They enticed her into giving that hansuli for the godana she had on her body. Chuhadmal’s wife
was not aware of the theft committed by her husband, so she innocently bartered the hansuli for
the godana( the body design). Having got the proof, four sisters, went to Raja Kulshwar and thus
the real thief Chuhadmal was severely punished and Salhesh was freed of his bondage. Raja
Kulshwar felt much obliged to Kusuma, the malin but did not marry her. She however,
continued to consider him to be her husband.
As has been mentioned earlier, it is believed that Chuhadmal was caught because he did not
fulfill the promise to river Ganga of the sacrifice of 101 podi.
Regarding marriage of Salhesh, it is described that he was entrapped into marrying Phulmanti
(her name has also been given as Satyawati). She had been given a word by goddess Bhagwati
to have Salhesh as her husband (anchara bandhane ki kabula). Salhesh was once coming from
Kapadiya garh to manisautha, Phulmanti caught him forcibly in her palace as he was in the form
of the parrot Heeraman. At that time, she knew about his dual identity and since she was
determined to marry him, she kept him in the palace against her father’s wishes.
Goddess Durga told Moti Ram and Budeshwar about the captivity of their brother. They sent a
barber (Hazzam) for release of Salhesh. Hence, they themselves went and met the same fate.
Ultimately Vanaspati, the married sister of Salhesh along with her son Korikinha, came for
negotiations. Korikinha is said to have powers like Bhima. There were several
misunderstanding. The main hindrance to the marriage was Raja Hempati, father of Phulmanti,
who did not want to give his daughter in marriage to a Dushad. The matters were resolved and
Salhesh returned to Mahisautha. He is however said to have remained in brahamchara i.e. he did
not consummate his marriage and never deviated from truth (satya vachan palak)
The than of Salhesh faces east and the main celebrations are held on asad poornima( this falls in
the month of July). Every Monday and Friday in asad month are auspicious for worship. On
asad poornima there is a performance, the performer goes into trans. Shri Gangai Paswan from
Saurathi revealed that bisara (snake god) which is represented in the form of a mound is also
worshipped, with in the Salhesh shrine. Bisara amurt rakhe chche (bisara does not have iconic
form), simultaneously Soan Sati and Ratida (sati) are also worshipped. Aghoris after consuming
lot of local wine, perform the worship. Genda, Arhul, Kaner are the three kind of flowers
offered to the shrine along with milk, pan (bettle leaf) supari (arceanut) as ritual offering.

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