Allauddin Khilji’s invasion in Gujarat
In the previous two articles, we read about history being a part of the mythological aspects and the myths very clearly had aspects of communal divide, if not, it definitely had differences being highlighted between two countries. We will now look at another example which actually eases the communal divide, but is part of the ongoing theme of mythology and history.
During one of my visits to a temple town, Becharaji, about 100 kms from Ahmedabad, Gujarat, we come across yet another example of History in mythology. Becharaji is a town which is home for the Mother goddess, Bahucharaji. (You can read more about this in “The Third Sex – Part 1” http://utkarshspeak.blogspot.com/2011/08/third-sex-part-1.html ).
According to one of the myths associated with this goddess, Alauddin Khilji who was on a destructive spree and was demolishing all temples he came across, on his way to Gujarat, reached Siddhpur. The brahmins of Siddhpur were very annoyed and started fasting to please Lord Nilkanth Mahadev. The Sultan asked them to prove the existence of their God, failing which, they would have to adopt Islam as their religion. Goddess Bahucharaji appeared in the dream of a Brahmin named Budar. “You need not be afraid, bring the king to Chuwala and I will show them a miracle which the Sultan would have never seen”. The Brahmins got together and got the Sultan to Chuwala, but night had fallen by then, so they decided to camp for the night.
The Sultan’s soldiers were tired and hungry. They came across a number of roosters and Khilji ordered them to kill them and eat them for dinner. The rooster was a holy bird (incidentally the rooster is the vahana of the Goddess Bahucharaji), but Khilji would not listen. All the roosters were killed and eaten, except one which hid behind a rock.
Next day morning, the rooster did not crow in the morning. When Bahuchaji asked the rooster as to why it did not crow, the rooster said that all his friends were killed, so who will crow back in his support. Bahucharaji told him to do his work and see. So the rooster crowed. As soon as he did, all the dead roosters came out of the soldiers stomachs and joined the chorus, killing all the soldiers who had eaten roosters the previous night.
|A Painting in the temple premises depicting the incident|
Needless to say that Khilji did not demolish the Bahucharaji temple, which is still in its original place.
As a mark of respect it is said that till date, in all the 44 villages in and around Becharaji, the Muslims do not kill/eat the Rooster. This is considered something unique and also the only place in India where Muslims do not kill/eat the rooster.
Some of the soldiers who had not eaten the roosters and were thus saved, decided to stay back and not continue with the army. These soldiers who stayed back became firm believers of Bahucharaji and were thereafter referred to as ‘Kamariya’ and are said to be serving the goddess even today. This community of Kamariya’s are not found anywhere in the country, proving that they did not leave Becharaji. (I did come across a person who told us that he was a kamariya and begged for alms – to atone for the deeds of their forefathers.)
To carry on with the above myth, there is another associated myth of the ‘Kamariya’ community. There was a saint by the name of Kumali, who had both Hindus and Muslims as his followers. When he was on his death bed, there arose a conflict on the ritual of the death ceremonies between his followers. To resolve this dispute, the Saint asked the Hindus to prepare a funeral pyre and asked the Muslims to dig a grave. He then said “When I am dead, whichever side my ‘kafan’, (the cloth covering the body) flies off to, will decide on the method of my last rituals”. On his death, the ‘kafan’ flew towards the grave dug, and so he was buried as per the Muslim norms. Though the ‘kamariayas’ are not Hindus, they follow all the Hindu customs and even have a life-style akin to one, but when they die they are buried as per the Muslim norms.
It must be observed that the myth has historic roots. We can trace the invasion of Allauddin Khilji in the books of history and reference to his destructive spree. Though it is not possible to verify such references, one can understand the origin and relevance of such myths.
We also asked a few people around who vouched for the fact that eating chicken was not a common thing there even amongst the Muslims. We did visit the market place in the city and passed through some areas which looked like Muslim habitation, but did not see any shops selling chicken.
What must be seen here is that in the communally charged atmosphere of Gujarat, this does seem to be an anomaly of sorts, but visible to a common man. These should be seen as efforts made by the ancestors of the village, to ensure that the two communities stayed together in peace. Thus despite such bloody references of invasion and looting in the past, there is a close blend of the two communities, and the reference of the ‘kamariya’ community is one such example out in the open for all to see. Also, the fact that people in and around the area do not eat chicken is another classic example of mark of respect shown by the Muslims for the faith and reverence of the Hindus.
Another example of the religious tolerance and goodwill is the fact that the Muslim eunuchs visit the temple during important get-togethers and functions of the eunuch community. This goes on to show the tradition of co-existence in peace by different communities existed from a long time. However, it is a pity to see that the efforts of the ancestors being wasted in modern times.
If any of you have such examples of Mythology and History shaking hands, please send in your myths to the blog. A debate is the essence of such articles.