आज़ादी विशेषांक / Freedom Special

अंक 13 / Issue 13

A Preface to Mourning: Chandra Prakash Deval

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A Preface to Mourning: Chandra Prakash Deval

These poems often talk about Auwa, Kajleshwar Mahadev Temple, river Sookree, Govind Bogsa, Taaga, Dhaaga, Teliya, Gopal Das Champavat, Chadhau Metre, Trishool, the Gotras of Charans etc. I think a bit on all these would help the readers. ….I certainly do not doubt my readers’ ability to appreciate a poem; I have always had more faith in my readers’ sensibility and understanding. ….It was only when I decided to come out with the book that these apprehensions surfaced.My first apprehension was: will the readers be familiar with the historical event which is the source of the poems, and more so because not all ‘histories’ of Rajasthan render the event in any substantial detail. ……Suryamall Misan in his epic Vansh Bhaskar does that. Kaviraja Shyamaldas’s Veer Vinod mentions it and so does Pandit Vishveshwarnath Reu in his Marwar ka Itihaas. Mohta Nainasi’s khyat Marwar ra Pargana ree Vigat describes the backdrop that lead to the dharna. It also lists the twenty three villages, all belonging to the Charans of Jodhpur pargana, that were proscribed. Besides, random poetry by contemporary poets also provides some material.

The strange thing about this dharna was that, owing to its tradition, it was absolutely different from the dharnas of our times. Dharnas are staged to protest an inconvenient and objectionable decree but generally they do not have that level of insistence which could culminate in sacrifice of lives by the protesters. The situation gets more difficult if the protesters collectively sacrifice their lives. This is exactly what happened in Auwa. And the horrifying way in which these protesters took their lives makes it a very peculiar case: gradually amputating themselves with their own daggers. Amputating every joint of the body by stabbing it with a dagger. This was Taaga; very different from Teliya in which a protester would apply oil or ghee on his body and then set himself ablaze. In another variant of Teliya, he’d cut a piece of flesh from his body and throw it into a boiling pot. Mere imagination of what they did makes one shudder.

This history-forgotten event of Auwa happened in 1643 of the Vikram calendar (1586 AD), on the thirteenth day of the Shukla half of the month of Chaitra. To be precise, this was the day on which the protest exploded; the seeds were sown many years earlier. When king Maldev of Marwar died, his progenitor Chandrasen became the king. Sensing the tide, the Charan poets started eulogizing the new king. But these were times of upheavals. Soon, Chandrasen’s younger brother Uday Singh (Mota Raja – the ‘Elder’ King), with Emperor Akbar’s aid, usurped Chandrasen and dragged him out of Marwar. Despite this, the loyalty of Charan poets remained with Chandrasen which invited the new king’s displeasure.

To make matters worse, Uday Singh proscribed Charanwada, a village in Govind Bogsa’s saansan (autonomous territory). The event which prompted this action is even more interesting. Uday Singh’s mother was on a pilgrimage to Dwarka, on a chariot driven by oxen. On the way, inside the territory of the Charanwada village of the Sivan pargana of Barmer, one of the oxen driving her chariot died. Queen-Mother’s attendants pulled an ox out of a farmer’s working plough and tied it to the royal chariot. The farmer registered a complaint with the lord of the village, Govind Bogsa. Bogsa ran to the spot and on the farmer’s identification forcefully released the ox. The chariot overturned and injured the Queen-Mother – she broke her hand. On her return, the Queen-Mother reported the matter to her son. The king, at once, proscribed Charanwada. Bogsa argued that his village is of saansan type i.e. autonomous hence it is beyond anybody’s jurisdiction including the king and that the culprits in the matter were Queen-Mother’s attendants who violated Bogsa’s autonomy. When other Charans/Charan poets tried to argue the same, the king proscribed their lands too. Against this, the Charan poets decided to stage a dharna but it was not at all easy to stage a dharna against a king within his own territory. …Finding no other way out, the Charans decided to go to Mewar.

On their way to Mewar, the Zagirdar of village Auwa, Gopal Das Champavat, saw them, escaping collectively and asked, “What makes you leave? Where are you heading in such a fashion?” The Charans narrated the entire episode and said, “We wanted to stage the dharna before moving out but, we could not find anyone in the entire Marwar to guard our dharna.” Gopal Das replied, “If that is the case, stage your dharna in my village. I, along with my eight sons, will guard your dharna.”

With this assurance, the Charan poets selected the land in front of Kajleshwar Mahadev Temple, on the banks of the river Sookree to stage their dharna. From Chaitra Shukla Trayodashi to the Poornima (full-moon), they fasted and from the third morning onwards, started taking their lives by performing Taaga or Dhaaga. While doing Dhaaga they would begin by stabbing the dagger in their armpits, and while doing Taaga, they would cut the first joint of the toe. And then, would hit the other joints of the body until a strike on the throat killed them. Similarly, doing a Teliya, they would spread oil on their clothes and set themselves on fire. When the news of poets sacrificing their lives reached the court, out of fear of public discontent, the king sent a trusted Charan poet Akha Barahath to settle the Auwa dharna. King’s trumpeter (nagarchi) Govind was also sent to Auwa.

When both of them reached Auwa, no settlement was required because the protesters asked Akha, “With whom are you – us or the king? Your duty must be to join us, isn’t it? Instead of forging any answer to such a question, Akha found it proper to join the dharna. ….The same realization dawned upon Govind nagarchi. The protesters assigned him the task that he, seated in a machan, would announce the arrival of a new day as soon as first rays of sun appeared in the sky – a signal for the poets to commence Taaga. Govind, persuaded by all, did climb up to the machan but soon started fearing that that he’d be instrumental in their death because his trumpet would signal death of so many; he decided to take his own life by aiming his dagger at himself.

There are some other episodes, narrated in different versions of the event, like poet Dursa Aadha stabbing himself, a newly wed bridegroom from Sankhdavaaas killing himself with double blows etc. … I am sure this piece of information will help readers in contextualizing the references in the poems. About the poems, I’d rather refrain from saying anything.

(Translated: Giriraj Kiradoo.)

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  1. nice article . enhanced my knowledge.

  2. auwa will presented here…
    visuals excellent…..
    The other things of auwa are missing.

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