Friday, March 5, 2010

The Story of Behula & Chand Saudagar

The Story of Behula
Manasa Debi was a mind-born daughter31 of Siva. She was born of Siva's semen left on a chikanipata32. She is known as Bisahari33 and said to have extraordinary supernatural power to bless her devotees. She can also ruin and kill those who do not believe in her existence and offer their prayer to her. There was a very rich ship merchant, named Chanrakar. He was also known to the people as Chand Saudagar34. He was a great devotee of Siva. He had six sons and a happy family. He did not consider Manasa as a Goddess. Manasa Debi did not like this attitude of Chand Saudagar and killed all his six sons by sending black snakes. However Chand Saudagar did not relent. One day pleased with the devotion of Chand Siva appeared in his dream and expressed his willingness to bless him with some great things as per the desire of Chand. Chand Saudagar asked him for a son. Siva agreed to bless him with a son but put a condition before him. " If you want to have a son who will have long life, he would be a fool, lethargic and an idiot. Instead if you want to have an ideal, intelligent and handsome son he will die at the early age of 20", said Siva, "now you tell me what exactly you want." After a serious thought Chand Saudagar opted for an intelligent son who would have a short life. Later, Chand's wife gave birth to a male child whose name was Bala Lakshendra or Lakhinder. Lakhinder was bright, intelligent and a very cultured child. Everybody was happy with his behaviour. When he reached the marriageable age his father wanted to solemnise his marriage ceremony with an equally qualified and highly cultured girl. After a great search, Chand Saudagar saw Behula. She was very beautiful, meritorious, highly cultured and a homely girl. Chand also came to know that according to her family tradition every woman dies as a sumangali and none of them would become a widow at any point of time. In this family tradition of Behula, Chand Saudagar saw a ray of hope for his dear and affectionate son Lakhinder and as a result he immediately decided to choose her as his daughter-in-law.
The marriage was solemnised in a happy atmosphere. Lakhinder was bitten by a dangerous cobra at the behest of Manasa Debi on his first night of the bridal-bed in the bridal chamber itself. Lakhinder cried in helplessness and breathed his last. The innocent but firm Behula decided to remain with his dead body on a raft in the river Ganges. Chand and neighbouring people made futile attempts to dissuade her. But she was determined. Finding no other alternative, Chand gave permission to Behula. She started her voyage on a raft along with her husband's dead body. The current slowly carried the raft. She had to face various difficulties in her journey, but she overcame them all. Ultimately she found a washerwoman washing the clothes by the side of the river Ganges. Her small child was disturbing her. Getting irritated with the behaviour of her girl child, the washerwoman killed her baby and started washing her clothes. Once she had washed all her clothes, she sprinkled some drops of water on the face of her baby and the dead baby became alive. Behula took no time to understand the supernatural power of this lady and took shelter at her feet and narrated her the sad story.
In accordance with the advice of washerwoman, Behula reached the Mahadeoloka35 with her. On the instruction of the washerwoman, Behula performed a wonderful dance to please the Lord. The Lord was very impressed by her graceful performance and was moved by the story of her tragic life on earth and heaven. He called Manasa and asked her to give the reasons of her tragedy. Manasa vehemently denied that she was responsible for the tragedy of Behula. However, Behula succeeded in producing definite evidence. But Manasa insisted that she was not responsible for the sad plight of Behula, and it was Chand Saudagar, her father-in-law, who was solely responsible, because he always abused and disrespected Manasa Debi and did not consider her to be a goddess worthy of worship. Manasa then told Behula that if Chand Saudagar were to worship her, she would bring Lakhinder back to life. Behula felt the hope of restoration of life for the corpse of her husband in the statement of Manasa and agreed to her proposal. Manasa then brought Lakhinder and other six sons of Chand Saudagar back to life by chanting spells. At the humble request of Behula, Manasa recovered all the boats of Chand Saudagar along with the cargo and crew that had been submerged by the wrath of Mansa Debi. She thus fulfilled the desire of Behula. With all the seven sons and lost property of Chand Saudagar, Behula came down to the city in the earth where the old eyes of Chand Saudagar and his wife were counting the days to breathe their last. All of a sudden they received all their lost sons along with the cargo and crew.
Now Chand Saudagar realized the power of Behula and gave his consent to worship the deity - Manasa Debi. The goddess blessed him. He realized that there was none except Manasa Debi in these three worlds. Finally, he worshipped Manasa with offerings of various fruits and animals.
Thus, Chand Saudagar, a devout follower of Siva, changed his religious ideas and became one of the staunch followers of the Manasa-cult, which was originally a tantric-cum-folk cult.
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