Folktales and folk legends of Chhattisgarh
Raja Nal and Mata Damyanti
Damayanti chose Nala for her husband in preference to the gods. This angered one of the demigods, Kali. He caused Nala to lose his kingdom and all his possessions. Nala and Damayanti went into the forest, but got separated. They took up work under different kings, hiding their true identity.
In Chhattisgarh version, Dhola is the son of king Nal and mother Damyanti. Dhola in his previous birth is one very beautiful young man who was catching fish in the village pond through angle called ‘gari’ in Chhattisgarhi. Rewa, an exceptionally beautiful woman, who was daughter-in-law of some family in the village in her previous birth, came to fetch water seven times, expecting Dhola at least to say a word to her. However, when getting no response from Dhola, she broke her silent by reciting following verse which rhymes:
gari khele, gari khelwa kahaaye, au lambe mele taar, saato lahut paani aaye ga Dhola, tai eko naiee bole baat
King Bhoja of the Paramwara Dynasty was a proud man. He had ruled his kingdom well and the people were prosperous and happy. However recently the people of the kingdom complained about a man-eater who had started attacking the people at the outskirts of the kingdom. It seemed like the animals of the forests were slowly venturing into the kingdom which resulted in loss of life and property. Immediately the king along with a small group entered into the forest and got about systematically decimating the wild animals in the place. Once the king and his men were reasonably certain that the wild animals would not cause any more threat to the people, the king started his journey back to the capital.
Kalidas and Vidyotma
There was a king who had a very learned daughter Vidyotma, in her knowledge she surpassed all the scholars of the kingdom. She declared she would only marry the person who would defeat her in a battle of wits. The scholars of the kingdom decided to take their revenge from the princess by marrying her to a fool. They went looking, and in the forest saw a man sitting on a tree who was cutting the branch he was sitting on. On seeing this, they decided they had found their man, and they would marry him to the princess, and they told him “Come with us, we will take you to the palace and you will be given good food to eat, but do not say a word when you are there, only use hand gestures.”
So he went and the scholars said to the king – “Maharaj (Your Majesty), we have chanced upon a great scholar who would like to challenge your daughter, but he won’t speak anything”. The fool was presented before the princess. The princess Vidyotma showed him one finger of her right hand, the fool thought she intended to blind him in one eye. He showed up two fingers signaling that if she would blind him in one eye, he would blind her in both eyes. Next the princess showed the open palm of her hand, now the fool took this to mean she would slap him. He showed a fist to signal he would box her in return.
After the marriage when Vidyotma discovered her husband had no knowledge and was in fact a big fool, she insulted him and left him. At this the fool was very upset and he decided he would attain wisdom. The scholars who had got him there all left him alone. It is said that he went to the temple of Garhkalika in Ujjain and prayed to the goddess for the gift of knowledge. He prayed and offered to the goddess his tongue as sacrifice and when was about to cut it off with a sword the goddess appeared before him and blessed him. Because of being blessed by the goddess, words of wisdom started flowing through his mouth and he began to write poetry and prose in Sanskrit language. He then created works like ‘Shakuntala’ and ‘Meghdoot’ and the beauty of his expression made him very renowned.
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