Bagaravat Bharat

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Bagaravat Bharat

The narrative begins with a prelude at a time (Satya Yuga), when Brahma was performing a Vedic sacrifice (jug) in Pushkar. Brahma invited all the gods and Rsis to his sacrifice. Among them is a group of twenty-four Rsis living in the Nag Pahad, a mountain chain running parallel to Pushkar. The Rsis were disciples of Sankar (Shankara). Sankar forbade them from attending the sacrifice, but they insisted on going because they had received invitations from Brahma. Suddenly, Sankar grew ravenously hungry. The Rsis suggested eating the fruits growing in the forest which they consume for a living. But Sankar said that would not satisfy him. He wanted more than plain fruit. But nothing else was available in the forest. There was no cereal or grain either. So, he turned to his disciples and began consuming them one after another. After he had eaten them and satiated his hunger, he went to visit Brahma's sacrifice himself. The sacrifice came to a halt because of the sin Sankar had committed. He asks Brahma how he should atone for his sin, whereupon Brahma informed him that the only means would be to offer the Rsis his own body in a future existence, in which the Rsis are to be born as the twenty-four sons of a single father. This prelude is normally spoken and not sung. The narrative then shifts to a more historical time (Kali yuga). During the reign of Vishal Dev Chauhan, the populace is being terrorized by a tiger that feeds on one individual every night. On one particular night, Hariram Gurjar offers to take the place of a boy whose turn it is to be eaten by the tiger. He sets up a trap for the tiger and beheads it. Then in order to wash the blood off his sword and to cleanse himself of the sin of slaughter, as it was a tradition among Gurjars, he goes to the holy lake of Pushkar carrying the lion's head on his shoulder. It is a full moon night (purnima). Exactly at the same time on the opposite bank of Pushkar Lake, daughter of Gurjar king Jagjan, Lila Sevri who has taken a vow never to see the face of a man is performing ablutions and bathing in the lake. While bathing, she sees the reflection of a man's body with the head of a tiger on the surface of the lake, and conceive. Jagjan then allowed both to marry and also gifts half of his kingdom to Hariram Gurjar. After nine months their son is born. He has the head of a tiger and the body of a man and is named Baghji. Later because of his unusual and fearsome appearance, no one is willing to marry his daughter to him. He lives alone in a garden attended by a Brahman cook. Once, on the day of the festival of savan tij (swings), a number of young girls of various GurjarGotras come to the garden attracted by Baghji's silken swing. The Brahman allows them to use the swing on the condition that each of them circumambulate Baghji. While they are doing this, the Brahman performs the necessary engagement rites. Unknowingly they are engaged to Baghji. Later Baghji Gurjar marries twelve of them namely Kanta Kalas, Ganiyanvanti Kalas, Lakmade Rathod, Jyanta Saradana, Lali Saradana, Balma Saradana, Barnavanti Chad, Bindka Chad, Dhanvantari Chechi, Gauri Chechi, Rama Awana and Bindra Awana. Kalas, Rathod, Saradana, Chad, Chechi and Awana all are Gurjar Clans (or Gotras).[10] Each of his wives gives birth to two sons who are collectively called the Bagaravats. According to written literature by anandaram phagna Baghji (Father of Bagaravats ) belonged to Chhatrapatti Chauhan gotra of Gurjars. Savai Bhoj is the most well-known and courageous of the twenty-four Bagaravats. Each day Savai Bhoj takes the Bagaravats cattle herds to graze on the slopes of Nag Pahad. One of the cows regularly leaves the herd and returns on its own in the evening. One day Savai Bhoj follows the cow and discovers that it is being milked by the jogi (ascetic) Rupnath. As compensation for milking their cow, Rupnath gives Savai Bhoj a sack full of grain. But the brothers have no use for the small quantity of grain, so they feed it to birds. The next morning, Nevaji, one of the youngest brothers, discovers that the few grains left sticking to the seam of the sack have turned into gems. They realize their folly and Savai Bhoj returns to Rupnath to become his disciple. One day, being instructed by Rupnath, Savai Bhoj heats a cauldron of oil and circles it, while Rupnath follows. While they are circling the cauldron, Rupnath tries to push Savai Bhoj into the boiling oil, but Savai Bhoj leaps over with the help of his cowherd's staff. In the next round, Savai Bhoj follows Rupnath and pushes him into the cauldron. Not so agile, Rupnath falls into the boiling oil. Instantly his body turns into a solid gold nugget. While Savai Bhoj stands there repenting his crime, the jogi reappears in the hermitage as though nothing had taken place. He explains that the golden nugget is a gift that will grant the Bagaravats unending wealth for a period of twelve years after which both wealth (maya) and life (kaya) shall come to an end. He also gives Savai Bhoj the gifts of a mare-Bavli, a cow-Suremata, and an elephant-Jaimangala, all of which have special powers. Savai Bhoj returns to his home. The brothers ask Tejaji, the eldest among them, what should they do with their newly acquired wealth. Tejaji advises them to bury the money in the ground and heard it. But, Nevaji suggests that they do good deeds with the money, like building wells and temples, distributing the wealth and make a name for themselves since both the wealth and their lives will end after twelve years. The brothers choose the latter alternative. Soon their fame spreads far and wide. In due course, they meet their future enemy, Durjansal, the king Rana (or Ravji) (ruler) of Ran City. The Rana and the Bagaravats become Dharam-brothers. In an extended drinking session in a garden named naulakha bagh near Ran city, they overturn jars laden with wine onto a hillside flooding the earth to such an extent that the wine actually flows down into the kingdom of Basak Nag (Vasuki), serpent lord of the netherworld, who holds the earth on his hood. Angered, king Basak deposits the earth temporarily on a bull's horns and goes to Bhagavan(Vishnu)'s court to complain about the Bagaravats. But neither Basak, nor Hanuman, nor Bhagavan can do anything to remedy the situation because the Bagaravats are so powerful. Finally, Bhagavan assumes the form of the mendicant (jogi) and visits Sadu Mata, the wife of Savai Bhoj, begging for alms. Sadu, who has just completed performing ablutions and bathing, appears in front of the mendicant covered only by her long tresses. Struck by her devotion, the mendicant (Bhagavan) grants her a boon. Sadu desires that Bhagavan is born as her son. Bhagavan promises to be born as her son on the 13th day after the Bagaravats have been killed. After his return, Bhagavan requests Sakti (Durga or Bhavani), who agrees to go to earth to fulfill the task of destroying the Bagaravats. She manifests herself as an infant girl (later known as Jaimati) in a forest where she is discovered by the King of Bhual, who adopts her. Exactly at the time of her birth, her maidservant Hira is born. Jaimati grows up unusually fast. And, soon Brahmans are sent out to find a suitable bridegroom for her. She insists that they find someone belonging to a family in which one father has 24 sons. After a long and frustrating search, the Brahmans find the Bagaravats. They arrange to have the queen married to Savai Bhoj. But because they already married, the Bagaravats suggest that the queen is married to their 'dharam-brother, the Rana. Thus, arrangements are made for the Rana to marry Jaimati. When the marriage procession sets out, Savai Bhoj instead of the Rana leads it. In the meanwhile Jaimati orders the toran to be hung in a high place that the Rana, who is 120 years old and feeble cannot reach up to. Instead of the Rana, Savai Bhoj strikes down the toran. When the marriage procession arrives, the queen pretends she has a high fever. She asks her maidservant to bring Savai Bhoj's sword that is supposed to have healing powers. In the inner chambers of the palace, she then circles the sword, thereby secretly marrying Savai Bhoj.

In public, however, she marries the Rana. At the end of the ceremonies, when she is to accompany the Rana to her new home, she insists on staying with the Bagaravats. The Bagaravats coax her into going with the Rana, promising to fetch her after a period of six months. Upon arriving in Rana's palace, however, the queen says she will not play dice with the Rana till he has constructed a new palace for her. The construction of the palace, of course, takes a long time, and six months are soon over. In the meanwhile, the Bagaravats - even against the advice of their wives - prepare to fetch the queen. The queen elopes with the Bagaravats. The Rana is patient, advising the Bagaravats in a brotherly manner to send the queen back to him. But, the Bagaravats stick to their decision. Finally, the Rana gathers together the armies to fifty-two forts on the banks of the Khari river. Jaimati, who now has assumed her true form, Bhavani promises to accompany the Bagaravats only on the condition if they fight Rana's army one at a time. She also demands that the brothers offer their heads to her. The Bagaravats willingly agree to her grotesque demands. A Bharat (great war) is fought. In the battle, some of the brothers continue fighting even after their heads have been severed by the Goddess's discus. But in the end, all of them are slain and the Rana is victorious. The Goddess assumes her Virat Rup (awesome, terrifying form). Amidst the corpses of slain warriors, she squats on the battleground, dripping with blood, stringing a necklace of the Bagaravats' severed heads. After their deaths, the Bagaravats' wives with the exception of Savai Bhoj's wife, Sadu Mata, commit sati (self-immolation).

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