previous part
THE TALE OF KING BHARTHARI
next part

THE TALE OF KING BHARTHARI


73

Part I
Bharthari's Birth Story

Introduction

Bharthari's birth story[1] is a beauty-and-the-beast fairy tale of how a rude and bold donkey wins a princess-bride. It is also a saga with political and social insight, depicting the play and consequences of various power strategies in families and kingdoms. This chronologically first segment of the Bharthari and Gopi Chand epics has a different flavor from the other parts of both tales. As if to mark its distinctiveness, Madhu performs the entire birth story except its single opening stanza in a tune that never reappears elsewhere. Each of the other three major melodies he employs in at least two, and often several, parts of his performance.

Bharthari's birth story is largely concerned with external actions. It lacks the high emotional pitch and deep psychological reflections that prevail through most of Gopi Chand's tale and emerge sporadically in the other two parts of Bharthari's. No yogi characters appear here, whereas all other parts of both epic texts either feature or star ascetic gurus. Nonetheless, Bharthari's birth story orients its audience to a cosmology where yogis hold the keys of power: the donkey Khukanyo's[2] magic, upon which the action hinges, derives from the all-powerful name of Guru Gorakh Nath.

The opening scene of Bharthari 1 is mysterious. Why does


74

Gandaraph Syan's father object to the prince watching his plays being performed? This violent encounter between a defiant rebellious son and a strict repressive father pushes even a nonbeliever in Freudian readings toward psychoanalytic explanations. Surely, such intense wrath on the father's part would not be evoked merely by his son's witnessing a public theatrical performance. Surely, he must have witnessed and, as he forthrightly avows, found "wondrous," what Freud calls a "primal scene." One variant of the tale (see chapter 3) supports an interpretation of Gandaraph Syan's offense as intruding on his parents' sexual domain. It presents the Gandaraph figure as a Gandharva in heaven who embraces one of King Indra's dancing girls and is punished with a donkey birth for giving way so shamefully to uncontrolled sexual urges.[3]

When I asked my research assistant, and through him the bard and his son, whether the "play" could in fact be an allusion to sexual activity on the part of Gandaraph's father, I found them dedicated to a face-value interpretation. Bhoju explained to me that filial disobedience is the central issue here. It doesn't matter what was forbidden; the point is that a son must obey his parent.

Whether Gandaraph Syan's crime was disobedience or voyeurism, his punishment is to go into a "donkey's vagina" — that is, to be born from a donkey. Why a donkey, we may as well ask now, for that humble beast of burden appears with surprising frequency in Madhu Nath's tales—often as the transformation of a human being, either male or female. Bharthari's father is a donkey; Gopi Chand is turned into a donkey (GC 3); Charpat Nath's fourteen hundred disciples are turned into donkeys (GC 3); Hada Nath turns all the women (and later, men) of Bengal into donkeys (GC 3); Gorakh Nath grazes a potter's donkey and later forces one of Machhindar Nath's queens to remain a donkey forever (GC 4).

The donkey is, on the one hand, a pathetic, overburdened, mistreated creature. This is succinctly summed up by Gorakh Nath's instructions when he hands over his guru's former captor and wife, in the form of a donkey, to the potters who will keep her: "Load her heavily and feed her little." Such is the donkey's destiny. Its plaintive


75

bray—rendered many times by Madhu Nath as tibhu tibhu (Rajasthani for "hee-haw")—is ever comical. Just as in Western animal stereotypes, a donkey in India is stubborn and stupid and ugly. Its sexuality, if not so blatant as a goat's, is nonetheless powerful. To call someone "donkey" or "donkey's progeny" is a common minor insult in the village, much like our "stupid ass."

But Gandaraph Syan, embodied in the donkey Khukanyo, is not wholly a figure of fun. He wants a wife, and eventually he gets one. People are frightened when he threatens to turn the city upside down with his hoofs and spare no living creature. The ambivalence with which villagers approach yogis' power may be part of what motivates the donkey-transformation motif in general, and Gandaraph Syan/Khukanyo's character in particular. There is a way in which it is appropriate as well as ridiculous to see yogis (and lady magicians) as asses. The donkey's unintelligible braying—in Gandaraph Syan's case a prelude to his demands, threats, and manifestations of power—may resonate with popular double opinions about yogis' magic spells. These are reflected in the term mantra-tantra , which may mean, according to context, either "mumbo jumbo" or "powerful verbal spells." The handsome, desirable, and fertile prince emerging from the skin of a donkey could also relate to the extraordinary sexuality that yogic adepts may hide beneath their ochre robes.

That the donkey's ally should be a potter is predictable in the cultural context of rural Rajasthan. Donkeys as beasts of burden are traditionally associated with potters, who figure almost as frequently as donkeys in Madhu Nath's tales (Bh 1, Bh 2, and GC 4). Potters, like donkeys, are lowborn. Yet they possess and manifest creative power in ways that demand respect, and they play important parts in community and domestic ritual life. How highly the villagers value their potter's services is impressively dramatized in Bharthari's birth story.

Bharthari I may not carry us to the heart of the human dilemmas concerning love and renunciation about which the corpus of Madhu Nath's tales revolves. Yet, despite all the extraordinary and magical occurrences in the narrative, the birth story takes us some way into the heart of traditional village society. A good example would be the frightened potter's attempt to leave the city and his neighbors' mobilization to prevent his untoward departure. Here we see vividly the integration and interdependence of members of a community, the power of individual resistance, and eventually the king's own depen-


76

dence on his people. Princess Pan De's father is no absolute monarch but rather a man who takes advice from his servants and negotiates with his subjects. Indeed, the ultimate authority in these tales often appears to lie with royal servants (darogas ) rather than with the monarch. Presented not only as doing the king's work but as having his ear, the royal servant caste exercises significant influence upon affairs of state.

Another configuration of interdependency in this opening segment, which will be echoed throughout both tales, is that of king and countryside. When the donkey builds a wall with no opening, the bard's portrayal of angry villagers who need to relieve themselves but can't get out to the fields to do so in sanitary privacy, is hilarious. For all its slapstick quality, however, it states a simple truth that villagers live day in and day out: without the countryside life is impossible. Both to deposit wastes and to obtain nourishment for their livestock—and of course, through farming, for themselves—villagers maintain constant intercourse with the lands surrounding them.

Bharthari's birth story contains, as another touch of realism, a synopsis of some key moments in the prolonged Rajasthani marriage ritual. Such capsule weddings appear frequently in local lore, including women's stories and some of the other regional epics. The events of the wedding sequence—the feasts, the preparation of the bride's and groom's bodies with turmeric anointment and henna designs, the striking of the marriage emblem by the groom, the role played by Brahmans, and the importance of the gifts and "send-off" from the bride's father—are strange to Western readers and require an overload of ethnographic footnotes. But it is well to remember that for Madhu's regular audience these are cherished details of the utterly familiar, laden with positive and pleasant associations.[4]

The personality of Princess Pan De is not highly developed, compared with that of other significant women in Madhu's two tales. Nevertheless, Pan De's part, especially the ambivalent quality of her


77

relationship with her husband, prefigures in some ways other female roles in these traditions. At first Pan De appears to be a perfect wife, accepting her parents' decision about her marriage, protecting her pati dev or husband-god from abuse, displaying appropriate modesty toward her potter father-in-law. The neglect of Pan De by her parents, following her marriage, would be considered a very grievous breech of village society's ideology that care and gifts are owed to daughters.

In the new city of Dhara Nagar, however, as her children are born, slurs are levied against Pan De's character. And even though these slurs are unjust, for she is no adulteress, the snickering by Madhu and his audience here (its theme, How can a donkey sire a prince?) shows more relish of the gossip's nasty implications than appreciation of the maligned woman's virtue. The public backbiting is attributed to women, but it is Pan De's mother who remains loyal to her daughter ("Though sinner she be / She belongs to me!") when the father turns his back on her.

Almost immediately, however, with yet another quick and subtle switch in a female character's moral nature, the devoted mother becomes the agent of her donkey son-in-law's untimely demise. This event recalls innumerable fairy tales the world over—including many with beauty-and-the-beast motifs—where bad advice from one's natal female kin spoils, or almost spoils, a happy if strange marital union. In the particular context of the approach to domesticity in Nath tales, this cross-cultural pitting of natal versus marital loyalties is reconfigured as an explicit demonstration of how love-in-the-world backfires. Pan De's mother wants only to secure her daughter's happiness; Pan De desires only to possess completely the human form of the husband she loves. Yet these valid desires conjoin to widow Bharthari's mother.

That Pan De's devotion to her donkey-husband turns out so badly for both of them is the first moment of many to come in Madhu Nath's tales where the plot is skewed by a devaluation of familial love. Relationships in the world are unstable and untrustworthy; even good women's actions are potentially destructive. Yet beneath, or above, such manifestations of human instability is the sense of a cosmic program. All of this was preordained.

After Pan De crumbles the donkey's charred skin to dust between her palms, she finds that her hands are "printed with the sun and the moon"—perhaps foreshadowing the birth of her grandson Gopi


78

Chand with his attributes of celestial radiance. Gopi Chand too IS destined to die, more than once, in the midst of adoring women. But he will reach immortality, along with his uncle Bharthari, by the grace of a yogi guru as cantankerous, dangerous, and well endowed with magical power as the vanished donkey-prince.

Text

Honored King[5]  ...
Wealth and youth are guests, heroic husband,
In no time at all they're gone,[6]     you must realize, Bharthari.
You must realize, Bharthari Panvar of Dhara Nagar,[7] You're my wedded lord, but
You've gone and left me destitute.[8]

In Dip Nagar lived King Ranjitk[9] Oh yes[10]  ...
Who had a son, a prince.


79

The king had plays performed
In the Chapala Garden[11] But the father wouldn't let his son watch.
Oh yes...
The son, too, had plays performed,
and the king didn't watch.
Oh yes...
Now one time it chanced
that the young prince hid
in the Chapala Garden
in a bamboo clump.
Oh yes...
He sat and watched the play, and
the king his father said,
"Today the play is spoiled!"
Oh yes ...
"Run and look, servant lads!"
But they couldn't find
the young prince anywhere.
Oh yes ...
Then one servant ran
to the bamboo clump
where the young prince sat.
Oh yes...
He seized the prince
and took him to the king.
Oh yes ...
Then the king said, "Gandaraph Syan,
Why were you watching my play?"
Oh yes...
"Father, I liked your play,
I thought it was wondrous,
That's why I watched it!"
Oh yes...


80

The king cursed him:
"Gandaraph Syan,
you spoiled my play.
Oh yes ...
"You must go right now
in a donkey's vagina."[12] Oh yes ...
The father cursed the son.
Oh yes ...
As soon as he cursed him, Gandaraph Syan
fell over and died.
Oh yes ...
Ahead is Ganga City.
In that city lived a Potter[13] and that Potter had a she-ass.
In that she-ass's belly
the young prince fell.
Oh yes ...
One month passed for the she-ass,
Oh yes ...
Then the second and third months passed,
The fifth month passed for the she-ass.
Oh yes ...
Now nine months passed for the she-ass[14] and her Prince Khukanyo was born.
Oh yes ...
"Tibhu tibhu,"[15] the prince brayed.
Oh yes ...
Shiv! Gorakh![16]                     (Bh 1.1.s)


81

In Dip Nagar lived King Ranjit, and he had a son, Gandaraph Syan. The young prince was a boy often or twelve years. That king's habit was to have plays performed in the garden. The father didn't let his son watch his plays. And the young prince had plays performed that he didn't let the king see.

So matters went along in this way. But once the ruler was having a play performed in the Chapala Garden—a play that he wouldn't let his son see.

And it chanced that the young prince thought to himself, "What kind of plays does my father have performed? Let me just sneak in and see today."

In the garden, a little distance away from where the play was proceeding, the young prince found a bamboo clump, and he slipped into it and sat down.

So over there the king was seated on his chair, and over here the young prince was watching, and the play was going on. But the king got suspicious. "Uh oh! What obstacle is interfering with my play? The play is no good today. The play is spoiled."

"Grain-giver,[17] the play is just fine," the players said. "It's fine, it's great."

"No, today the play is spoiled!"

The king said to his Royal Servants,[18] "O Royal Servants, run into the garden and see if the young prince is watching the play."

The Royal Servants ran off. Five or ten of them went looking. He had slipped into a clump of bamboo and was watching. Who? The young prince. As soon as they found him, they grabbed him by the arm and took him to His Majesty.

His Majesty said, "Why were you watching my play?"

"Father, I liked it, I liked it. I said to myself, 'What are my father's plays like? How does he have them performed?' I found it very beautiful. So that's why I sneaked in and watched."

"All right, sister-fucker![19] You go into a donkey's vagina!"

So the father cursed his son—his son, whose name was Prince


82

Gandaraph Syan. He cursed that boy, and as soon as he uttered the curse, his son dropped dead on the spot. As soon as the father cursed, "Go to a donkey's vagina, go!" the son breathed his last.

In another city there was a Potter named Pachyo Potter. He had a she-ass, and Prince Gandaraph Syan fell into that donkey's belly.

He fell into her belly, and one month passed, two months passed, three months passed—the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth—and in the ninth month the she-ass had a child. The she-ass had a child and he cried, "Tibhu tibhu!" and suckled the breast.

Now one month passed and two months passed and three months passed and six months passed, and he grew into a fine healthy colt. He was a healthy colt, and then he began to speak with Pachyo Potter. The donkey's son began to bray at midnight.
                    (Bh 1.1.e)

At midnight he brayed, "Tibhu, tibhu! Listen Pachyo Potter, go ... you have a king: marry me to his daughter. She has grown into a blooming maid, and her braids are turning white.[20] So go and tell your king to marry me to his daughter. And if he marries her to a donkey, then I will surround his city with double ramparts of copper and brass. And I will build him a gold and silver palace, and I will excavate mines of seven metals.

"But, if he won't marry Pan De[21] to me, I'll knock his country and his city upside down with my hoofs."

This is the vow the donkey made to Pachyo.

When he heard this, Pachyo said, "Sure! I will marry this girl to a donkey!"

He took his wheel-turning stick and began to raise welts on him. On whom? The donkey.

He said to the donkey, "Some neighbors might be listening, and if they go to the king and tell him that the Potter's donkey is saying, 'Marry me to the Princess Pan De,' then he will send me flying from a cannon's mouth, or else he will bury me and have me trampled by horses. My son![22] You are saying very improper things! What if the king finds out?"


83

So he took his stick and beat him, and the donkey was quiet. But the next day came, and the next midnight. And the donkey did the same thing. He kept doing this for six months, calling "Tibhu tibhu" every midnight. Who? Khukanyo, the Potter's donkey.[23]

So the Potter regularly raised his stick, "Take that, your mother's ...,[24] you Khukanyo, sure I will get you married!" And he beat him badly every day.

Matters continued this way, and the Potter grew distraught because the donkey called him every night. So he decided to leave the village.[25]

"What to do? Let's leave this city. Let's go somewhere else and settle there, ten or twenty miles[26] away, and let's take the donkey with us. There won't be any king in that village, so the donkey won't call out."

The next day the Potter and the Potteress loaded up the donkey and the buffalo and filled a cart with all their bedding and junk. Then they left the village. "Let's go, or else the donkey will be the death of us."
                    (Bh 1.2.e)[27]

Pachyo Potter reached the outskirts of the city.[28] But when he got to the border, ten or twenty persons had gathered there.

"Oh no, we have only one Potter and he is leaving the village. And he doesn't say what the trouble is. Why has he left?[29] Suppose someone dies tomorrow ... where will we get our new clay utensils? We will need water pots and other vessels.[30]


84

"Now we have a Potter, but if he goes there won't be one. Let's bring him back. He won't tell us what the trouble is, and this is a very fine city of ours. Is it because of grain? But everyone gives him grain, every month.[31] And the king is very good, the king doesn't cause any trouble, so then why has he quit the village and gone?"

So ten, twenty, forty, fifty villagers gathered at the boundary and they blocked the Potter's path.

"Brother Potter, we won't let you go! Tell us your trouble, whether it's from the city or from the king. What's the matter? If someone hasn't given grain, then we will give it. And if it's trouble with the king, then he has a court and we will go and have that trouble removed. But, Potter, we won't let you go, brother."

"Grain-givers, I have no trouble with the city. I have only one answer."

"Oh my son! Whatever answer you give us, we'll accept it."

"Yes, Grain-givers, I'll give it to you."

"So what's the matter? Let's go back."

"I'll give you a really powerful answer."

The Potter saw that he had an opportunity to reveal his trouble. So he joined his hands[32] to all the village elders[33] and all the people of the village, and said, "Grain-givers, I am joining my hands to you. Take me back if you like. But I can't speak about my trouble. Just sleep outside my place tonight. All of you, elders and villagers, sleep outside my place, and you yourselves pronounce judgment. You yourselves listen, and you will learn about my trouble—it is so bad that I can't speak of it."

How could the Potter tell that—about marrying the king's daughter?

"Fine, we'll sleep outside your place, one day or five days."

They took him back. The villagers didn't let him go. They brought his carts and bedding, and the donkey, and they unpacked everything and put away all his junk. Evening came and everyone brought their bedrolls over there. "Brother let's go to the Potter's house—we'll sleep


85

in that Potter's courtyard." There they sat. And they said, "OK, brother Prajapat,[34] tell us your trouble."

"Grain-givers, wait until midnight, and then listen!"

Now midnight came and all the people of the city were there, and now the donkey speaks.
                    (Bh 1.3.e)

At midnight that donkey, Khukanyo, began to bray. "Tibhu tibhu, tibhu, tibhu," he brayed. "Listen Pachyo Potter."

"Brother Khukanyo, I'm awake. Tell me your news."

Pachyo Potter turned to all who were sitting there, "Listen, this is the very trouble that made me go ... but I couldn't speak of it myself, so now listen, people of the village!"

"Listen, Pachyo Potter, go and tell your king that his daughter Pan De's braids will be white, and he should marry her to me, the donkey. Brother, if he marries his Pan De to me, then I will build a palace of silver and gold for that king, and I will excavate mines of seven metals and I will surround the city with double ramparts of copper and brass, nine yards[35] tall.

"But, if he doesn't marry the Princess Pan De to me, listen Pachyo Potter, three days from today I will use my hoofs on this city and knock it upside down. I won't spare a single animal, nor will I spare a single human being. I'll really knock this city upside down."

After making this vow, that was it; the donkey was silent.

Then the Potter said, "O Village Elders, this is my trouble, this is why I am leaving. Grain-givers, this is why I shall go, this is why this city is impossible for me. So, Village Elders, think about this."

"But what's there to think about? Three days from now he will knock the city down, and he won't spare a single man or woman, not a single animal, nothing. So why die over here? Let's leave with Pachyo, let's leave, tomorrow even. We'll go together and leave the whole village deserted."

Some filled carts with their grains and bedding, and some loaded up buffalo.

"Let's follow that Potter. No one will be left here but the King, all alone."


86

Because who is going to tell the king: Marry your daughter to the Potter's donkey?

"If we tell him that, he'll send us flying from a cannon's mouth."

So, the next morning at the break of day, the whole village set forth with their donkeys and buffalo and carts loaded up with grains and bundles. The whole village was emptied.

And now they went and complained to the king. Who? The Royal Servants who stayed behind.
                    (Bh 1.4.e)

The only people left were in the fort, where the king and a few Royal Servants remained. Where would they go?

The others had filled carts with their bedrolls and grains and all. They took their livestock—their oxen and all—and they went forward until they reached the border.

Meanwhile, a couple of Royal Servants addressed the king: "A complaint, a complaint! Great King."

"O Royal Servants, what complaint have you brought?"

"Grain-giver, over whom are you ruling here? Only owls are left here in the village, only owls hooting.[36] The whole city is empty. Not even a child remains."

"Why?"

"Who knows why they left. But, I'm telling you, sir, there are no human beings left here."

"So they left. Well what was troubling them?"

"Who knows? They told of no trouble. They left and went to the border. So you'd better send your agents, brother, and if they can't go, then you yourself go. Find out what the trouble is. Take every care."

So the king asked for his horse and mounted it and galloped ahead until he reached the border. There the king turned around and blocked their path. He blocked their path and said, "Why brothers, who gave you trouble? Where are you going?"

"Grain-giver, we have quit this city, and we ask your forgiveness."

"Why are you asking forgiveness? What is your trouble? Are my land taxes too big? Am I taking too much royal food? Are my guards or my messenger[37] afflicting you?"


87

"Grain-giver, you're a very good king. We're troubled neither by taxes nor by your guards and messenger."

"So why are you going then? Why are you quitting this city?"

The king got off his horse and stood in the way of their buffalo and carts.

"I won't let you go, you can't quit the city, what is the meaning of this? Tell me the meaning of this meaningless act."

Then all the villagers, five elders,[38] gathered.

Here is our chance, they thought. They said to the Potter, "Here is a chance for you to tell him, like you told us."

The elders of the city sat in council, and then they said, "Graingiver, are you taking us back?"

"Yes, I shall take you back, I won't let you go. You may go only if you tell your trouble."

"Grain-giver, our trouble is unspeakable, and that's why the city is impossible for us. But if you want to take us back, then pitch your tent at Pachyo Potter's house today. There sit and listen to our trouble. Otherwise, you're wasting your efforts in trying to bring us back."

"Hey you sister-shamed[39] people of the city, you want me to stay one night at Pachyo Potter's?"

"Yes, please stay for one night, and then you will hear our trouble."

"Why only one night? I'd stay for five. Is Pachyo Potter's house such a bad place? Let's go, O city people!"

So they turned around. "I will listen at Pachyo Potter's house. We will pitch twelve tents there. You people of the city, come there too."

"All right, we will each go to our own houses first, and then we'll sit with you over there. Let's go."

So the ruler brought them back.

He was the king, and so he made them turn around and bring back


88

their livestock—women and husbands and boys and girls, all returned, and he left them at their own houses, at their doors.

The people said, "Let's not bother to unpack because tomorrow we'll have to leave again. Will the king marry his princess to a donkey? Why should we waste our efforts unpacking?"

Now the king, with his courtiers, came to Pachyo Potter's place and set out his mattress and pillow. "Now let me hear your trouble! What is the people's trouble?"

All the villagers came to Pachyo Potter's house. They wanted to listen and see what the king would say. All the villagers came, from every house. The courtyard filled up, and the king too was there, sitting and talking, and midnight came. The donkey began to bray. And the people said, "Hey Grain-giver, Your Majesty, listen! Everyone be quiet!"
                    (Bh 1.5.e)

And the donkey brayed at midnight: "Tibhu tibhu tibhu. Listen Pachyo Potter, are you asleep or awake?"

"Brother, I'm awake! Donkey, tell your news!"

"Go to your king and tell him that his daughter is full grown, and he should marry her to me, to the donkey. The Princess Pan De should marry me, and I will make the king a gold and silver palace. And I will excavate mines of gold and silver inside the palace. And I will surround the city with double ramparts of copper and brass, nine yards tall. He should marry the Princess Pan De to me.

"If he doesn't, then three days from today I will use my hoofs to knock the city upside down. And I won't spare a single human being. Not a man will I spare—no livestock, no animals, none at all. Your castles and your court and your houses, I will scatter like little pebbles. I won't leave a trace of a human being."

He said this and was silent. Who? The donkey. Now the whole population said to the king, "Grain-giver, this is the problem. This is our trouble, King-Father, this is why we were leaving. Keep your princess and we will leave. You may stay by yourself, Grain-giver."

Now the king was silent, thinking: My son! Is this some kind of a ghost or is it a donkey? It seems to me to be a ghost. My son! "I will turn the city upside down, the whole place, and I will marry the princess, and I will build a gold and silver palace. And I will excavate mines. And I will surround the city with double ramparts, nine yards tall, of copper and of brass." Now how will he make them?


89

"People of the city, say something."

"Hey, Grain-giver, if you have any hope then tell us. If not, we won't unload our carts. Tomorrow, along with Pachyo Potter, we go, and you stay and die. You stay alone, with your princess and your queens. Keep your Royal Servants with you, and die. Let him turn you upside down, day after tomorrow. Who wants to stay here and die?"

Now the king thought, Son of a ...[40] If I marry the princess to this donkey, the world will say it's bad. They will say that the king married his daughter Pan De to a donkey. But if I don't marry her, then he will kill us. Now what to do?

Then the king said, "O people of the city, what do you want?"

"Grain-giver, you tell us—our only hope is to fill our carts and leave tomorrow along with Pachyo Potter. If you marry her, then we'll stay—if you marry your daughter to the donkey. Otherwise, tomorrow morning we'll go."

The king saw how it was. "Son of a ... All the people will go. Then there will be a couple of Royal Servants and my queen and princess, and we alone will remain. Day after tomorrow is the third day, and he will turn us upside down with his hoofs. Then there will be nothing left for us but to die. I should save the city."

"Grain-giver, we won't stay here and die. Why should we? We will go to another country, there are many—why do we need your fields and wells and land and charity? It's not worth dying for."

The king thought, If I marry the princess to him, he will build gold and silver palaces and excavate mines of gold and silver. Then what else do I need? I'll have wealth and riches in abundance. And I'll have double walls for the city. What else do I need? I'll marry the princess to him.

Then the king said, "People of the city, this is my decision."

"Yes, Grain-giver."

"If, within three nights from today, he builds me a gold and silver palace, and if he excavates mines of seven metals, and if he makes double walls of copper and brass, then on the fourth day I will marry him to the princess. But first he must do all this.


90

"And if he doesn't, then I will bury this Potter and his wife and children and let horses trample them, or else I will send them flying from a cannon's mouth."

Now all the people of the city agreed: "Grain-giver, marry her if in three days and three nights there's a gold and silver castle and mines of seven metals and double walls."

"And if not, I will bury this Potter and Potteress and their boys and girls in the ground and have horses trample them, or I will send them flying from a cannon's mouth.

"So now a judgment was reached.

Then the king and his Royal Servants picked up the cots and quilts they had spread, and the villagers, too, went to their houses. The women asked their husbands, "What happened?"

"The Potter and Potteress are dead."

"Why?"

"Because on the third day he will bury them and have horses trample them. It has turned out strangely. The poor Potter and Potteress! He will kill them for sure."

Now Pachyo Potter took his little stick in his hand, the one he used to turn his wheel, and he began to beat the donkey: "For many days you've been calling me, Khukanyo: 'Marry me to the princess or else I will turn the city upside down.' You will be the death of me. What can be done in three days? You had better build a gold and silver palace, and excavate gold and silver mines and build double ramparts today! Then I'll have faith; if not, then you will have been the death of me."
                    (Bh 1.6.e)

Pachyo Potter took his wheel-turning stick and whap whap whap, he beat him.

"Your mother's ...! Khukanyo, six months have gone by while you've been calling me, but now we have reached the conclusion. Sure, you'll get married ... the king says 'Build it in three days,' and on the fourth day I'll die. Who has that kind of patience? If you don't build it, then I'm dead. The king is gone and the people are gone and what can happen in three days? So, I shall beat you till your flesh flies, or else you make good today."

Then the donkey spoke, "Listen Potter, it won't get built by beating."

"Yeah, so will it be built in three days? Who can do it?"


91

"Don't beat me, but do what I tell you to do: load me with one saddlebag of yellow dirt[41] and one saddlebag of ashes. And take me outside the village and poke a little hole, this big, in each bag, and make me run all around the city. Then I shall make the double ramparts."

At once, Pachyo Potter filled up one saddlebag with yellow dirt and he filled up the other one with ashes, and he took the donkey outside the village. He took him outside the village, and ... as if he were starting from that tamarind tree[42] ... he made two lines, and circled all around the settlement until the lines met. The Potter remained inside the lines.

The donkey brayed, "Tibhu tibhu," and recited the name of the Sovereign Guru Gorakh Nathji.[43] And with a "Tibhu tibhu," he stamped his hoof.

Then double ramparts of copper and brass sprang up, nine yards tall—even a bug couldn't get out of walls like those, with no windows. He left no opening.

Then Pachyo Potter said, "Father of a daughter![44] Donkey, we need a window or a door."

The donkey said, "I won't make those before the marriage. First I'll marry the Princess Pan De, then I will make a door. Don't agree to do it."

Then the Potter had some faith. "Son of a ...! Really he is some kind of deity." So he took him to the fort.

He took him to the fort, and "Tibhu tibhu tibhu," the donkey brayed three times, and stamped his hoof and took the name of the Sovereign Guru.

Then up rose a sparkling gold and silver palace, and mines of seven metals were excavated. The palace was so big and so tall, and there was a lot of gold and silver in the mines, enough wealth to really throw around!


92

Finally the Potter had some faith. "Wow! The donkey, my son! He's a miracle worker! He called me and said, 'Marry me to Pan De!' And now I see that he's a miracle worker."

"Now, Potter, go and wrap yourself in a twelve-foot blanket and sleep without care; don't wake up! When someone has to go to the latrine they will beat their head on the wall. As for the livestock, how will they take them to graze? Where will the people go to shit? When it's dark they can squat near the wall, but where will they go once it's light?"

So Pachyo Potter gave the donkey some fodder and wrapped himself in a twelve-foot blanket and lay down. That was it, he slept, snoring peacefully.

Then the people started to go out to wash their hands and faces.[45] Those that went in the dark squatted, but now it was daylight and where could the others go? "Oh no! What has happened?"

There was no window anywhere, no window and no door. So how could they go out? And they needed to take the livestock to graze, but where could they take them? Sheep, goats, cows, buffalo, oxen, all stayed inside. How could people get to their fields when there were ramparts, nine yards high?

Now the whole village gathered. "Oh, what has happened?"

They saw no window, no door. "So let's go." The whole city gathered and went inside the fort. They said, "Grain-giver, where is the window or door? There isn't one anywhere, tell us if there is. We have to shit, to wash our hands and faces, but there is no place to do it. And our sheep and goats are bleating, and our cattle are mooing, and our oxen are right here; how can we take them to the fields and forests?"

"Say brothers, what has happened?"

"We'll tell you what happened: double walls nine yards high! And a sparkling palace, of gold and silver! So, Grain-giver, you're the king, you've got a gold and silver palace and you're feeling happy. But as for us, we're in trouble. How can we get out, how can we go to the fields and jungle?"

"So go and call Pachyo Potter, brother. He's my in-law[46] now. Go wake him up and bring him."


93

So the messenger and the Royal Servants went to Pachyo Potter's.

"Let's go, the king is calling."

"Brothers, I'm still sleeping. I'm sleeping right now because all night I was awake. Right now I won't go."

"Come on, get up, elder brother, our animals are bleating, and you're sleeping!"

"Brothers, I can't come now, go back."

So they went back and the king asked, "What did he say?"

"He said, 'Right now I'm sleeping.'"

"Bring him, brothers, bring him!" So they went back again.

Then he said to Khukanyo, the donkey: "They keep calling me, one after another they keep coming, so what should I say?"

"Refuse: Wedding rounds[47] before I pierce a single door!"

"But what if they say, 'First the window and the door, and then we'll get you married'?"

"Let the girl be mine, then a window's fine! Tell them this: 'I won't open any door anywhere, until you agree to the marriage.' If you like, say that the donkey refuses and says he must be married first."

So Pachyo Potter hurried to the fort, and the king said to him:

"Hey Pachuji[48] Potter. Father of a daughter! why didn't you leave a window? Why didn't you leave a door?"

"Grain-giver, what could I do? That donkey didn't leave one. That was it! He made ramparts nine yards tall that neither man nor animal can climb, and there is no hole big enough for an ant to get out. But why should you be unsatisfied? You have a sparkling palace of gold and silver. And you have mines of seven metals."

"Yes, that's true, but you must make a hole."

"First the marriage, sir. He refuses and says:

Wedding rounds before,
I pierce a single door!

That's all there is to it, sir! Without the marriage, he refuses to open it, King. He says, 'First I must take my marriage rounds; otherwise I won't open it.' "


94

"But what about the villagers? Father of a daughter! They have to stay in here for the whole day?"

"Yes, let them stay here. And let all the prenuptial rites and feasts[49] take place today. Half the village can sit on the bride's side, and half the village can go with the groom's party, the donkey's party. Just cut wet bamboo[50] and don't bother about it. Prepare the lady with turmeric and henna."[51]                     (Bh 1.7.e)

Now over here the princess was adorned with henna and rubbed with turmeric. And over there they held henna and turmeric ceremonies for the donkey.

So usually the rounds are held on a different day from the feasts, but he got married all in one day.

Half the village came to the Potter's place and prepared to join the donkey's wedding party. And half the village stayed over there, on the bride's side.[52]

Then they ornamented the donkey and made him a groom and brought him up to the fort and he really did a nice job of striking the marriage emblem.[53] And they had the Vedas and Shastras[54] recited. They set up a fire altar and called Brahmans and—the king got the donkey married with great celebration. After all, he was a king. So he gave a lot of gifts[55] to Pan De, in fine fashion: he gave land gifts,


95

he gave gifts of wealth, he gave cow gifts. He was attentive to dharma, so he gave her slave girls too. He gave a chariot and oxen and Royal Servants.

And now, the wedding rounds were over, and he was ready to give them a send-off. Then the king said to Pachyo Potter, "Brother, Pachuji Potter, now you have become my in-law. And now you have to leave this village. Go tomorrow, brother, I'm giving you a send-off: leave the village and settle in whatever village pleases you."

Right after the marriage Pachyo Potter took the donkey, who brayed "Tibhu tibhu" in all four directions and four doorways opened. And he said to the people, "Stay well. That's it, my donkey is married."

And so, driving the chariot with the donkey tied behind, Pachyo Potter left that village. Now he is going toward the jungle, and all the people said, "O brother Pachyo Potter, keep well brother! Now we can't stop you. Now that the king married his princess to you, no one can stop you."

They went twenty-four plus twenty-four, forty-eight miles into the desolate wilderness. But then the donkey balked. What's going on? The Royal Servant is driving the chariot, and Princess Pan De is seated inside behind a curtain, and the donkey is tied to the back of the chariot, and they are going twenty-four plus twenty-four, forty-eight miles into the wilderness.
                    (Bh. 1.8.e)

They had come to a desolate place, and little remained of the day. The donkey was tied to the princess's chariot. And the driver was driving, but the donkey stood stock still; he stopped short and wouldn't move.

The oxen didn't stop, they kept pulling, and so the donkey slid along. The princess saw this, and said, "Tell Pachuji Potter[56] the donkey isn't going."

Then the Royal Servant said, "Pachuji Potter, that donkey isn't going, and he's begun to slide."

So the Potter got his wheel-turning stick and gave him a few blows. But even so he just sat down. He sat down and then they began to drag him, and then the princess, Queen Pan De, said, "Tell my father-in-law Pachyo Potter: Let's stay right here. Let's pitch our tents right


96

here and do our cooking, and our Royal Servants will keep watch. Let's spend the night here. Don't beat my husband-god.[57] He doesn't want to go on, so let's stay right here."

So they pitched their tents right there and did the cooking and fetched water. For forty-eight miles in each direction wilderness was all around them. But they cooked and washed and ate and drank and went to sleep.

At midnight the donkey brayed, "Listen Pachyo Potter, are you asleep or awake?"

"I'm awake."

"Why, Pachyo Potter, where are you taking me? Where are you taking me by beating me?"

"There are some villages ahead, so we can get out of the jungle."

"But here in the jungle we can have houses. Who will give you housing in the villages? Listen to what I say, load my saddlebags on me and fill one with black clay and fill one with yellow clay and we'll build our own city right here in the jungle. We'll rule right here. So make me run around four, eight, or ten miles—we'll make the ramparts."

So he loaded the donkey and filled one saddlebag with yellow mud and one with black mud and poked small holes in them. Then he went over here ... here is Khejari and Napa Khera and over here, Mori and then as far as Sawar,[58] and so right there he settled the city of Dhara Nagar.

And when the two lines met, the donkey took the guru's name and stamped his hoof and double ramparts of copper and brass rose up, nine yards high.

Then he said to the Potter, "Now draw the market square." So Pachyo Potter made the donkey run around, and he drew a magic circle,[59] and he made the streets. In the middle he put a mark for palaces. Then the donkey took the Guru Sovereign's name and brayed "Tibhu tibhu" and stamped his hoof. Up rose a golden and silver palace, along with several bungalows and gold and silver mines. In the middle of the city he stamped his hoof and took the


97

Guru Sovereign's name and copper mansions rose up. There were streets going this way and that way, with copper mansions all of a kind.

The donkey said to the Potter, "O Pachyo Potter, let's go into the jungle." And he opened up a big doorway in the wall, and he took the Guru Sovereign's name and stamped his hoof. Throughout the jungle, wells and step-wells[60] with stairways emerged from the ground.

Then the donkey said to Pachyo Potter, "You be my chief minister," and he sent the queen into the palace.

"I am Gandaraph Syan, that's my name. King Gandaraph Syan is ruling."[61] As soon as the day broke, he sent his Royal Servants to all the villages in different directions: "Bring tenant farmers. Tell them there are ready-made mansions, mansions of copper and brass, for them to live in, and there are wells and step-wells for their care. Let them clear the land. For five years I will forgive the taxes, and I'll support this land and take care of these mansions."

So a copper city was built: Dhara Nagar. In Dhara Nagar there are mansions of copper and brass. So all the people's minds were spoiled[62] and they abandoned their grass huts.

"Let's live here! There are fine, beautiful copper and brass mansions and we can keep them, and there are fine wells and step-wells and no taxes for five years, no taxes at all! In this kingdom you can earn and eat and enjoy life."

Well sir, within twelve months that city filled up, people crowded together like a folding gate. The whole city was populated, and there were numerous markets, and tenant farmers came and began to farm. Its name was Dhara Nagar.

And Princess Pan De lived in the Color Palace, and the donkey was tied up nearby and fed on betel leaves. King Gandaraph Syan's orders were law, and Pachyo Potter was the chief minister.


98

Now let's see, midnight came and let's see what things come to pass.
                    (Bh I.9.e)

The donkey was tied up on the terrace[63] with betel leaves for fodder, and the queen was inside the gold and silver castle, sleeping on a cot.

Midnight came and the donkey brayed, "Tibhu tibhu tibhu," and he said to the queen, "Come, Queen Pan De."

"Brother, is the donkey calling?"

"It's the donkey, who else could it be?"

So the queen came and asked, "Grain-giver?"

"Grab the tips of my ears and pull."

So the queen grabbed the tips of his ears and pulled.

As soon as she pulled ... a man came out, as splendid as the full moon. Oh my! the queen thought, he is like one of the sun's rays, and the queen shut her eyes tight. Oh my! Now I'll have some good fortune.[64] I am a human being and my father married me to a donkey, but now I'll have a better fate.[65] The queen shut her eyes tight.

Then they went inside, and she fixed him a meal, and they talked.

"Grain-giver, how did you come to be in a donkey's skin? Are you a deity of some kind or other? How did you get into a she-ass's vagina?"

"Queen, I was cursed by my father, he gave me a curse. My father said, 'Gandaraph Syan, sister-fucker, go into a donkey! You saw my play and so you will go into a she-ass's vagina.' It's because of my father's curse that I am in a donkey's skin. Don't tell anybody that I can become human. I won't see the sun's rays. I must go back into the skin when the morning star rises and the rooster crows. I must be in the donkey's skin before I see the sun's rays or I'll breathe my last.

"Don't be ashamed, no matter what the world says of you. You have enough, I am a king, there is no trouble. You have wealth and goods and no losses. You have a gold and silver castle, and gold and


99

silver mines, and many tenant farmers have settled here. So what's your loss? There is none."

"Grain-giver, I was married so you are my husband-god." So that's how they lived and kept on living.
                    (Bh 1.10.e)

So she pulled the tips of his ears, and Prince Syan came out, bright as a full moon, and they played a lot of parcheesi[66] and feasted in the night.

Then the queen got pregnant. One month passed, the second month passed, the third and fourth and fifth and sixth, the seventh and eighth, and in the ninth month King Bharthari was born, a young prince! The Brahmans came and carefully found a name,[67] and they read the Vedas, and many meritorious gifts[68] were made: horse gifts and grain gifts and diamond and ruby gifts. And in all the houses of the kingdom there was joy and celebration.

"Oh my! A prince was born in the castle! A prince was born!" But the women, they said [Here Madhu is chuckling and the audience is chuckling and making remarks ]: "But how can a donkey sire a prince? What has happened? What impropriety has happened, that a donkey fathers a prince. It's weird! We have a donkey's prince." The women said these things: "A donkey's prince! Oh my! What has become of our queen's good character?"
                    (Bh 1.11.e)

One and a quarter years later the queen was pregnant again. One month passed, two months passed, three, four, five, six, seven, eight months passed, and in the ninth month the hero Vikramaditya[69] was born. He was born and they gave lavishly: horse gifts, elephant gifts, gold and silver gifts. Then they called the Brahmans to find a name. They found the name Vikramaditya and said, "Queen, now you'll have a good future destiny. A very fine prince is born, under


100

a very good sign,[70] and his name will be known in the world: Hero Vikramaditya. It is a future of riches. Your future destiny is good."

But people put their mouths close together: "So, a donkey fathered a prince!" [Snickers from the audience ] Who can stop people from talking?

Well, sir, one and one-quarter years later a princess was born.
                    (Bh 1.12.e)

A princess was born, a maiden, and they named her Manavati.[71] After a few months, Queen Pan De wrote a letter and sent a man. She thought, Now my own mother and father ought to feel joyful. I've had three children, boys and a girl, but others take care of me. They married me to a donkey and sent me away. And since then no mother comes, no father comes, no one comes to take care.

So she thought, I will send a man. She wrote a letter and sent it. The letter reached the king, and the king read it. "I had three children, boys and a girl, and I'd like to see you and the queen. Please come! Even though you haven't taken care of me, you are still my mother and father. You married me to a donkey and didn't take care of me."

Then the king was very angry. "Who needs a daughter like that? Yes, I married her to a donkey, so where did these princes come from? [Madhu snickers ] Three children! Two princes and one princess ... I won't travel in that slut's direction."

But her mother said:

Though sinner she be
She belongs to me!

The flames of love are greater in a mother. "Fine, Grain-giver, you don't have to go, but I will go. Harness the chariot and I'll go and take care of the princess. I'll get there and see what it's like and come back."

So the queen harnessed the chariot, and Pan De's mother went to visit her.
                    (Bh 1.13.e)

Now the queen
harnessed her chariot.[72]


101

Oh yes ...
They hung up a curtain
And the queen sat behind.
Oh yes ...
When she reached Copper City[73] She ascended to the palace.
Oh yes ...
Mother met daughter,
Mother met daughter.
Oh yes ...
Now the daughter Pan De spoke:
"You didn't come see me for so many years!"
Oh yes ...
"Daughter, your father
is angry at you! Oh yes ...
"A donkey fathered a prince?
Where did you get this prince?"
"Mother, listen to my news
Just wait till the day's end.
Oh yes ...
"Then I will show you the king
At the day's end."
Oh
yes ...
The queen went in the night,
pulled the tips of his ears.
Oh yes ...
and the king came out
Like a full moon. Oh yes ...
The king entered the castle
And prostrated to his wife's mother.
Oh yes ...
Now this queen saw and wondered
"How did he come from a donkey's skin?"
Oh yes ...

                    (Bh 1.14.s)


102

She drove in her chariot to Copper City. She drove into Copper City and got down from her chariot and ascended into the palace, and mother and daughter met each other.

And they conversed. "Mother, I've had three children but you never came to visit me. You married me to a donkey and didn't take care of me."

"Daughter, what could we do? It was your written destiny.[74] We had to marry you to a donkey. But you wrote a letter and sent a man and your father got angry: 'A donkey's son? How does it happen?' From whom did you get this boy?"

"Mother, you won't believe the truth. But just spend a few days here, and then you'll see! Let the end of the day come, and in the night I will show you your son-in-law."

So in the night the queen pulled on the tips of the donkey's ears, and he came out, shining like the full moon, a bright light shone in the castle. And then he went and prostrated himself, respectfully greeting his mother-in-law: "Mother-in-law, you have come to visit us after so many days?"

The queen squeezed her eyes shut: "Oh my! What kind of event has taken place?"

Then she asked him, "Bridegroom-prince, what are you doing in a donkey's skin?"[75]

"Mother, my father cursed me. Because of this curse I am in a donkey's skin, I had to take a donkey birth. Otherwise I am King Gandaraph Syan, Gandaraph Syan is my name. My father cursed me."

Thus the queen-mother-in-law spent five or ten days, and she saw how her daughter pulled the ears nightly. And they spent the nights very pleasantly, eating and playing a lot, and having fun. But that was it! When the morning star rose and the rooster crowed, then he returned to his donkey skin.

Now she saw how they lived. Who? The mother-in-law. And she said to Pan De, "Son,[76] this is what you should do: divert his mind


103

and take the donkey skin and burn it up. Throw it on kindling and burn up the donkey skin. Light a wick to it. Then rub that skin into powder between your hands and scatter it to the wind from the castle roof. Do that, and then he will stay a man, he won't go back in the donkey skin. He will stay a man."

This was the trick she taught her. She will make her a widow.

The mother spent five or ten days with her daughter, and then she went back to her own place. They gave her a send-off. But meanwhile she had told this cleverness to her daughter, to Pan De. So when her mother had gone, Pan De did this: she obtained a bundle of firewood. Then she pulled on his ears and when he was a king they played a lot of parcheesi and feasted and lay down. Afterwards the king went to sleep.

She said [to her servants], "Bring a bundle of kindling."

"Why, Princess, what are you going to do?"

"Oh don't call out. Don't tell."

/Yes, bring it quietly./

"Bring it quietly." While the king was sleeping she asked for a bundle of kindling, and she put it on top. What? The donkey skin. And then she lit it and burned it up, sir. So the donkey skin burned up and turned to ash.

When it had turned to ash, the queen rubbed the ashes between the palms of her hands and put them on a platter and went to the roof of the palace and scattered them, and her hands were printed with the sun and the moon.

She scattered them. Then the king awoke and the rooster crowed, and he said, "Queen, Queen, oh bring my skin!"

"O girls, where did you put it? O girls, slave girls where did you put it?"[77]

But she was calling "Bring the skin" meaninglessly. If there were a skin they could bring it; but where will they bring it from?

"Oh, the girls put it somewhere, Grain-giver, who knows where they put it? Where did you put it, girls?"

"We know nothing about it."

Then day began to break.

"Oh, you slut, what's going on? Tell me what really happened."

"Well, Grain-giver, my mother came, and she told me this trick:


104

'Light a wick to it, and burn it on kindling.' So I burned it and rubbed it and this moon and sun were printed on me and I scattered it from the roof."

"Oh you slut, what have you done? You made yourself a widow. You destroyed the skin with your own hands, and now I have no hope of living. When I see the light of day my life is over."

"It is?"

"Yes. You made yourself a widow with your own hands. It seems you called your mother-widow[78] here just to kill me."

There was no cure. As soon as he saw the sun's rays, Gandaraph Syan's life was over.

"Oh, the king died, the king died, our king died, King Gandaraph Syan died!"

They sat King Bharthari on the throne, and he performed the cremation rites.
                    (Bh 1.14.e)


105

Part 2
Bharthari's Detachment

Introduction

Madhu Nath labels this central part of the epic "Bharthari's vairagya ," which I translate "detachment." The king does not actually leave the world until part 3. Part 2 is in essence an account of the events that propel him toward that destiny and create in him a renouncer's orientation toward worldly life. The word vairagya can refer to such an orientation, as well as to actual steps toward renunciation.[1]

Part 2 makes no reference back to the birth story and does not attempt to fill in the blanks between Bharthari's infancy and his condition here as Ujjain City's ruler, married to Pingala. However, several strands of image and meaning link the events of the birth story with this central part of the epic. Bharthari 2 opens with Queen Pingala's taunting her husband because he never goes hunting. To this sung reproach the arthav adds that he never plays parcheesi with her in the palace—parcheesi being, as we already know, a regular euphemism for sexual intercourse. In sending her husband out to the forest where kings should sport at hunting, Pingala also sends him into the domain of yogis and precipitates a series of events that will be wholly disastrous to her wedded happiness. Thus, as was the case with Pan De, her desire that her husband be more of a king and a lover has the opposite effect.

Much of Bharthari 2 is concerned with the ambiguities of marital


106

love and the possibilities for mutual violence that lurk within it. In that sense the tale takes off directly from the end of the birth story. Pan De unwittingly destroyed her husband's life by means of fire when she incinerated the donkey skin and scattered its ashes to the winds. After Pingala dies, herself destroyed by Bharthari's thoughtlessness and by her own fanatic dedication to pushing husband-devotion to its limits, Gorakh Nath scatters her ashes to the wind. Ashes are the other side of mortal passion, and they appear in many contexts in these tales.

Ashes represent death but also the potential for a new and different life. Pan De the husband-killer finds that the donkey skin's ashes have left the auspicious marks of the sun and the moon on her palms. Out of Bharthari's madness upon finding Pingala nothing but a pinch of ash comes a new consciousness that will bring him immortality. Later, in Gopi Chand 4, the guru's death curse—"Ashes!"—when it fails twice, is followed by the pronouncement "Immortal!" "Third time proves all," announces the gamester Gorakh Nath, and thus do Bharthari and Gopi Chand gain immortal bodies. Every yogi rubs his skin with ashes, hiding the beauty that arouses mortal passion while showing his affiliation with, and indifference to, fire and death.

Much of Bharthari 2 is a narrative meditation on the act of sati —another reduction of flesh to ash that results in divinity. In general, members of the rural audience for this tale respect the tradition of sati as a manifestation of the goddess. This does not mean that they do not share Westerners' horror at the thought of a familiar female undertaking such a step. Nevertheless, I urge that readers temporarily suspend judgment of sati as oppression of women, in order to appreciate the reasons that yogis devalue sati even while they recognize it as an extreme, and dangerous, manifestation of divine female power.

Whereas other Hindu texts may perceive sati as the ultimate expression of wifely perfection and woman's dharma (Leslie 1988), this yogic tradition throws it into question in several ways. Sati is above all enjoined upon noblewomen (Harlan 1992). But in Bharthari part 2, forest animals and a low-caste or tribal meat-eating huntress precede Queen Pingala in becoming sati . None of these satis , not even Pingala's, is quite right. The narrative not only questions whether any males are worth dying for but more obliquely hints that the motivations of the women who choose such deaths may have more


107

to do with power than love. In the afterword these issues are more fully and speculatively explored.

Bharthari 2 contains the epic's best loved and most frequently performed scene: when Gorakh Nath "takes away the king's stubbornness" by mocking his mourning and then demonstrating the superior power of yogis and the illusory nature of life and love. This is the origin of Bharthari's detached attitude. Gorakh Nath creates—literally "makes stand up"—seven hundred fifty Queen Pingalas. He then demands that Bharthari put his hand on his own. Madhu's rendering of this scene puzzled me, especially the end, when the last remaining Pingala attempts to jerk King Bharthari up to the sky and Gorakh Nath curses her. My confusion came from the assumption that one of these Pingalas actually was the "real" one.

However, long consultations with Bhoju and Bhoju's further questioning of Madhu Nath made it clear that in creating the seven hundred fifty look-alike Pingalas, Gorakh Nath had not restored a dead queen to life. Rather, he had commanded his female powers or saktis , to appear in Pingala's form.[2] When he tells the king to put his hand on the real one, then, he is setting him an impossible task; none is real. But the yogic message goes beyond this, for the "real" Pingala was no more real than the magic replications of her form. Bodies are not real. Name and form are not real. In part 3, Pingala plays the role of abandoned wife to the hilt and arouses sympathy; we forget that she is not the original devoted wife. Here, however, as one of the fairy-Pingalas she is just another slut.

Bharthari's character, as it is built up in this part of the epic, is stubborn and insensitive—perhaps providing one more direct link to his birth tale. He is, after all, the son of a donkey. He also appears in certain ways as incompetent. When he does go hunting, it is not with great success. The only kill he makes walks right in front of him and advises him on how to shoot. The constant refrain of the sung verses, "You must realize, Bharthari" (Samajho Bharthari ), may be a comment on the king's hard-headedness and need for repeated instruction. In this he is quite different from Gopi Chand, who wavers perpetually


108

and changes course at the slightest push from another person. Where Gopi Chand's weeping arouses great empathy, Bharthari's is made out to be laughable.

Here as in part 1, Madhu Nath's elaboration of workaday details is deliberate and effective. One good example is the description of the potters who, on Bharthari's order, try to replicate Gorakh Nath's broken jug. Like the wedding in Bharthari 1, the work of the potters—digging clay, kneading it, turning it on the wheel, baking it in the kiln—offers listeners down-to-earth and well-known activities. Coming as it does shortly after a rather long detour through the courts of heaven, the potting interlude puts things in perspective. Yogis have their detached attitudes and their miracles; the householder's world has domestic networks and the mundane but fondly recalled details of everyday life. Madhu Nath's performance deftly interweaves and contrasts these alternatives.

Text

Honored King3 ... 
My husband, you never go hunting lions,
and you never ride pregnant mares, King Bharthari,[4] You must realize, Bharthari Panvar of Dhara Nagar,
You're my wedded lord, but
you've gone and left me destitute.[5]

Honored King ...
With seventy-eight hundred servants and
seventy-two courtiers, the king

[3]
109

Went hunting lions for sport, King Bharthari
went hunting lions, King Bharthari,
You must realize, Bharthari Panvar of Dhara Nagar,
Ujjain City's ruler killed nothing.

Honored King ...
He didn't find a lion, King Bharthari, my King Bharthari,
He raised a boar upon the hill, King Bharthari.
He raised a boar upon the hill, King Bharthari,
You must realize, Bharthari Panvar of Dhara Nagar,
Dhara Nagar's ruler: Don't kill me.[6]

Honored King ...
Chasing the boar, he whipped his horse, the king went after the boar.
King Bharthari whipped his horse and chased the boar.
You must realize, Bharthari Panvar of Dhara Nagar,
Ujjain City's ruler, you've gone and left me destitute.

Honored King...
His seventy-eight hundred servants and seventy-two courtiers,
his army was left behind, you must realize, Bharthari,
his army was left behind, you must realize, Bharthari,
Only one servant stayed with him, King Bharthari,
You must realize, Bharthari Panvar of Dhara Nagar,
You're my wedded lord, now don't kill me.[7]

Speak Victory to Bharthari Baba!
                    (Bh 2.1.s)

So this is what happened. The queen, Pingala ... Queen Pingala nagged him. "Hey, King Bharthari. You are the king, but you never come into the palaces to play parcheesi. And you never enjoy hunting lions. Your kingship and your life are worthless."


110

The queen's barb pierced him. So on the very next day he said, "OK, Queen, I'll go this morning."

In order to sport at hunting King Bharthari took seventy-eight hundred servants and seventy-two courtiers along with him.

He took the army and such, and he went to sport at hunting. The ruler went hunting. He went lion hunting, but he met no lion.

He met no lion. Only a boar was raised. One boar was raised, so the king beat his horse, and King Bharthari chased after the boar. He chased after the boar, "I've got you, I've got you, I've got you!" The boar was going along like that and he came to a terrain of streams and ditches.[8] There, among the streams and ditches, my son! he lost him! That boar never came within range of the king's spear.

So he had lost the boar, and just one servant boy remained with him. They were on horseback. That servant was his special favorite. The army got left behind. And there was only that boy with King Bharthari, and now they had lost their prey. Now how could they enjoy hunting?

Then he said, "Servant."

"What, Grain-giver?"

"Where's the army?"

"The army got left behind."

"Where?"

"Near Kekari; they've come to Ghatiyali.[9] And, Grain-giver, now we're out of business with hunting. There was a boar, but it got lost. And we haven't found a lion to hunt."

"Well the army's been left behind. But how can I go back empty-handed? The queen will speak harshly to me."

"Certainly let's go on, let's keep hunting."

"We will hunt."

"OK, Grain-giver. We're still in the jungle. So let's wander around the jungle."

So he whipped his horse until he came upon seventy hundred female deer. In their midst was a single stag. Among seventy hundred there was just one, Moti Stag.


111

The servant's gaze fell on him.
"Grain-giver, there is a male. Let's kill the male."
                    (Bh 2.1.e)

There were seventy hundred does, but only one stag. Now the does said to that stag, "O Husband-god, run away! You can leap seven hedges in one jump! Run away, because King Bharthari has come. And he is hunting and he will kill you, but he won't kill even one of us does. Run away from the king, Moti Stag, hide yourself! Leap over seven hedges, calamity-bringer! Run! What are you doing here? What will happen to us, to you, today? He will kill you and he won't kill us. It is King Bharthari and he doesn't kill females, he kills only males. He won't kill us, so run away!"

/Yes, you run away or we will all be widowed./

Then Moti Stag spoke: "O Does, why are you afraid of dying? The one who knowingly goes to face death is called a man, he is called a man. And whatever the Guru Sovereign does, that's what happens."

Then the does ran and surrounded the king's horse ... "Yes, Bharthari, kill us—kill ten, twenty, forty, fifty, King Bharthari, but don't kill our one Moti Stag. Kill us, as many as you want. But if you kill Moti Stag then all seventy hundred of us will be widows. So kill us."

"Look, Does, I have vowed three things. These are my rules. One is that I don't drink the water of running rivers. And, I don't ride on pregnant mares. And the third is that I never shoot and injure females. If there"s a male, then I shall kill only the male. You females, maybe you will come right under my horse's feet, but still I won't kill you. I was born a man and I only kill men, I don't injure women."

Then the does said to Moti Stag, "Burn up! What are you doing here? Run away, leap over seven hedges!"

"O sluts,[10] you belong to the female species, but I shall go and face death. What is there to fear from death? Whatever the Guru Sovereign does, let it come to pass." So he approached Bharthari, coming two dori[11] closer.

King Bharthari wanted to kill him, so this made the king happy.

"Oh ho! It's very fine that the hunt has come in front of the king! Wonderful!"


112

Moti Stag came before King Bharthari and said, "Hey King Bharthari, hear my words. My death is in the third arrow. Now I shall make my promises[12] and you must grasp them."

/Pay attention!/

"Pay attention."
                    (Bh 2.2.e)

Then Moti Stag spoke, "Look, King Bharthari, you will kill me, yes, I have come in order to die. So, King Bharthari, listen to what I have to say. My death is in the third shot. And give these feet of mine to cowards and thieves. Let them boil and eat them, and then they'll be able to run away and save their lives. No one will catch them.

"And as for my skin—in the jungle where some yogi is performing tapas , some sadhu , then he can wrap half around himself, and he can spread half to sit upon while repeating prayers. That will be my passage to liberation.

"And look, King Bharthari, my horns, which are so big, give my horns to Gorakh Nathji, and he can cut off the tip and make a horn instrument.[13] So he may go from house to house calling 'Alakh!'[14] Let Gorakh Nathji Sovereign make the horn and sound it and call 'Alakh!' and then I'll get release, passage, I will go to enjoy myself in Heaven.

"And this flesh, distribute it among the Rajput families.

"And my eyes, my piercing eyes, go and give them to your queen, and she can eat them and then people will call her deer-queen."

/Deer-eyed./

Yes, deer-eyed.

"Sure, brother." So then he fixed his arrow. Who? King Bharthari. But Bhairu Nath[15] made the first one of his arrows miss its mark. Bhairu was his favored deity. Whose? The stag's. He fixed the second


113

arrow and the Guru Sovereign Gorakh Nathji made it miss its mark. But the third arrow struck him in the middle of his forehead,[16] it struck the middle of Moti Stag's forehead, and he breathed his last.

He breathed his last, and while he was dying, those does said, "O Husband-god, father of a daughter! Turn your neck up and keep it that way! We told you to run away, but you refused to run. Now keep your neck up for a little while, as long as you are conscious." So the stag turned his neck up and his horns were sharp as sharp can be, and the does came jumping and threw themselves on his horns. Jumping and leaping, they became sati .

/They gave up their lives./

Yes, they gave up their lives, and their souls were released.[17]

The king thought, Oh ho, what a weird thing has happened! Seventy hundred does are wailing in the jungle.

They said, "King Bharthari, just as we are wailing, we does of the woods, so will they wail in your Color Palace. We will curse you: Be a yogi, in your early youth, and call 'Alakh! ' from house to house. And just as we does of the forest are wailing, so in your dwelling will they wail. We will curse you, King Bharthari." They cursed him.

So the hunter hardly knew, the hunter thought, These sluts are just barking, they are animals, what kind of spirit do they have? So King Bharthari didn't pay attention to what they said, and leaping and jumping the does died.

King Bharthari had a handkerchief.

Those does were stuck, caught, on the horns, and he pulled them off and tossed them aside, and he took his cloth, his handkerchief, and put it in the blood. He soaked it in deer's blood.

"Son of a ... ! Even these does of the forest become sati, but I wonder about my own queen ... will she? Let's find out. Let's give Queen Pingala a test[18] and see if she will become sati too. If these


114

does of the forest do it, my queen ought to become sati too."[19] So the king soaked his handkerchief in blood and gave it to the Royal Servant who was with him: "Go to my city of Ujjain, and give it to Queen Pingala, and tell her the king was killed in battle. And if she is a sati, then this is the moment."
"Hey, Grain-giver, you're standing before me and you haven't even got a splinter stuck in you anywhere, so how can I go and tell the queen that the king died?"
"Go! It's none of your business! You just go and give it to her and see if she becomes sati or doesn't."
Well ... when the king gives a summons old women come running...[20] That Royal Servant went. "The king gave an order and sent me." That Royal Servant took the handkerchief with deer's blood in it.
And this is what King Bharthari did. The does of the woods were wailing. He lifted the stag onto his horse, and then he too sat on his horse. "Let that Royal Servant run away. We will keep on going slowly."
He had chased the servant away, and that servant went and gave the handkerchief to the queen.
                    (Bh 2.3.e)

Honored King ...
He set the stag before him on his horse,
My king, before him,
and the king rode through the jungle.
He is coming slowly through the jungle,
O King Bharthari,
You must realize, Bharthari Panvar,
you must realize, Bharthari.

Honored King...
Baba Gorakh is coming through the jungle:
"Listen to this matter, King."
On his feet he's wearing sandals, in his hand are tongs,


115

On Gorakh's shoulder is a sack,
you must realize, Bharthari,
You must realize, Bharthari Panvar of Dhara Nagar,
Dhara Nagar's ruler: "Listen to my words!"
Now Gorakh Baba approached him.

Honored King ...
"Why did you kill a harmless animal?
Why did you kill him, King?
One stag and seventy hundred widows,
You made seventy hundred widows today, King Bharthari."

Honored King ...
"Did they destroy your fields?[21] King, listen to my news:
Why did you kill the animal? You'd better listen, Bharthari,
Listen, Bharthari Panvar of Dhara Nagar."

Honored King ...
The king said to Gorakh Nath, "Listen Gorakh Nath
I killed him, but now listen, I killed him, but listen, Gorakh Baba."

Honored King ...
Gorakh Nath came. "Listen Baba Nath,
You can make him live again, listen Gorakh Baba,
Make him live again, listen Gorakh Baba."
Now Gorakh Baba told Bharthari, "Put down the deer, King,
Why did you kill that harmless life?"
You must realize, Bharthari,
Gorakh Baba made Bharthari put down Moti Stag.

Honored King ...
Gorakh Nath wrapped it with a sheet,
now Gorakh Nath sprinkled it with elixir of life,
you must realize, Bharthari,
He sprinkled it with drops of the elixir of life,
you must realize, Bharthari,
He took off the sheet and Gorakh Baba...


116

Honored King ...
He made him live, the stag got up, listen to me, King,
He leapt over seven hedges,
you must realize, Bharthari,
You must realize, Bharthari Panvar of Dhara Nagar,
He lost his prey, you must realize, Bharthari [ Laughs ],
You must realize, Bharthari Panvar of Dhara Nagar,
Listen, Dhara Nagar's king, you must realize, Bharthari.
                    (Bh 2.4.s)

So he sent that Royal Servant, to the queen. He went to Queen Pingala, "Queen, Queen, take this handkerchief, take it, and become a sati —this is the moment. King Bharthari was killed. He was hunting deer for sport, but he got sliced into pieces. A lion killed King Bharthari. So this is the moment to be a sati ."

Queen Pingala had a magic tree. She had planted a magic tree, and if King Bharthari had a mere splinter, one of its branches would wither.

/The magic tree's./

The magic tree's. Now the queen looked at the magic tree, and it was blossoming and blooming as usual.

"O Royal Servant, King Bharthari, my husband-god, hasn't even a splinter. You are lying."

"You are always watering that tree, so how could it wither? If you pour water on a tree, if you give it liquid, then the tree will never wither. If you are a sati , then this is the time. This is the king's blood. He filled the handkerchief and sent it to you, so if you want to be a sati , then be one; if not, then, that's your wish. It could be you are a hypocrite ... You said, 'I won't eat bread without you, without seeing your face, but you told lies. You women are a heartless race.[22] If you're a sati , then burn, burn, because King Bharthari died."

Then Queen Pingala realized what was going on, "Oh my, it's strange, he is testing my sati -power.[23] Who? King Bharthari is testing


117

my sati -power. 'Let's see if my queen will be a sati.' So it's a test!"

Now Queen Pingala served Lord Shankar. She was a devotee. Of whom? Of Shankar and of Parvati. She served them regularly and recited their names. Queen Pingala recited their names only. So she went and threw herself into Lord Shankar's shelter. "Hey Graingiver, Shankar, Lord, now give me sati -power."

Lord Shankar was in her heart, so she was able to speak to him, face to face.

Lord Shankar said, "Queen Pingala, on whose account are you asking for sati -power?"

"Grain-giver, give me this power, I will be a sati ."

"Queen Pingala, your husband is alive so how can I give you sati -power? You will die, and then your King Bharthari will come, and ask for Pingala, and who will give her? Where will we get a Pingala to give him?"

"No, Grain-giver," she said, "he sent a towel, a handkerchief with blood in it. The king is dead, and he sent the Royal Servant. So Grain-giver, give me sati -power. This is it! Yes, certainly, I will burn, for my husband-god is testing my sati -power."

"Go then into the Chapala Garden,[24] and set up a funeral pyre and be a sati ."

Lord Shankar gave her sati -power. "Go and burn up, sister-fucker!" So Queen Pingala became sati over there. And King Bharthari, King Bharthari, over here, even his game was snatched away.

[The bard is laughing here; an audience member comments: His game came back to life and ran away.]

It came to life and ran away, and King Bharthari tramped along with a glum face. He had lost his game. He had met no lion in his hunt, nothing; he didn't kill the boar, and even the deer that he had killed—Gorakh Nath had brought it to life and it ran away.

Now what to do? He was afflicted by great thirst in the jungle. And it was a hot day, and where was water? Nowhere in the jungle. There were twenty-four plus twenty-four, forty-eight miles of desolation!

Then King Bharthari saw a heron circling. "Over there surely there's some water." So King Bharthari whipped his horse and went


118

to where the heron was circling, and there was a banyan tree and a step-well.[25]

"Thank God, here is some water. I've found some water." So King Bharthari tied up his horse, and went down into the step-well and had a drink. He had a drink, and he thought he'd rest a little in the shade of the banyan tree.
                    (Bh 2.4.e)

So, he lay down in the shade, but the king couldn't sleep. He was just lying down, thinking, Let's have a little rest.

Now a Hunter[26] came along. Who was the Hunter? A bagaryo .[27] And he had ten or twenty rabbits and ten or twenty deer, oh my, oh my, dangling from both his shoulders. He threw them down under the tree.

King Bharthari saw this, and thought, But I had only one ...

/And that one ran away./

... which Gorakh Nath brought to life and chased away. But this fellow, my son! How and where did he collect so many? He has piled up as many as ten or twenty deer and ten or twenty rabbits under the banyan tree.

The Hunter lay down, he stretched himself out. He had told his wife, the Huntress, "I'll come to such and such a banyan tree and step-well, so bring my food there. I'll come there after I've killed animals." So the Huntress is coming with his food. And that Hunter looked up into the banyan tree and upon it, upon the banyan tree, sat a cuckoo.[28]

Now the cuckoo sat in the tree and above a bird of prey was circling. What was it? A hawk. A hawk was circling, thinking, Brother, I'll kill that cuckoo. Brother, if he flies up then I'll kill him.


119

Now down below the Hunter too took aim. The hawk was circling, and it too might come into his line of fire. He wanted to kill both the cuckoo and the hawk with one arrow. He thought, The hawk is circling and when he comes into line with the cuckoo, then, that's it! I want to kill them both with one arrow. So he fixed his arrow.

Then the cuckoo prayed to God: "Piv piv piv piv,"[29] the cuckoo said:

The Hunter's fixed his arrow,
above flies a bird of prey,
Hey Lord, where and how can I save my life today?

The cuckoo prayed once, twice, four times, he prayed. To whom? To God.

"Hey God, how, how can I save my life? If I fly upwards then the hawk kills me, and if I don't fly then that Hunter is fixing his arrow, and he will shoot me down."

So the cuckoo remembered the Guru Sovereign and Lord Shankar with his voice. God heard that cuckoo's voice. His God heard his voice. Whose voice? The voice of the cuckoo praying. So, from the roots of the banyan tree a poisonous snake emerged. And it struck him right on the back of the head,[30] even as he was taking aim.

/The Hunter./

Yes, the Hunter.

It struck him on the back of the head when his attention was on his aim, and pulled out the Hunter's breath.[31]

/Oh my!/

So even as he aimed, he gasped for breath and tumbled down and died. The Hunter died. The snake pulled out his breath and drank it, and the Hunter died.

That Hunter wrapped himself up. As soon as he was struck, he covered his face, he covered his face and breathed his last and he died.

Meanwhile, the Huntress came bringing food. She came and cried,


120

"Alas alack! What kind of heap did you take today? Ten or twenty deer and ten or twenty rabbits—you have so much, who can eat it? We are only two persons, two eaters, and how will we use so much? You have sinned, you have killed the whole earth and gone to sleep. Get up, have some food."

But he didn't speak. Then the Huntress grabbed his foot and pulled it, "Get up!" But he still didn't get up.

Now she uncovered his face, and ants were going in and out of his mouth.

"Oh, you killed these deer, sinner, you killed all these deer and rabbits, and you haven't even eaten them. You died and these ants are going in and out ... Now, Lord, what will I do? What kind of arrangement can I make?"[32]

That Huntress didn't even cry. Immediately, she will be a sati .

/Right over there./

Right over there, beneath the banyan tree.

/Oh my!/

Even beneath the banyan tree. It was uninhabited land, jungle, so there were lots of cow pies lying around. Cow pies were lying around, cow dung, manure, and she kicked them, and they turned into coconuts and went rolling.[33] And many branches fell from that banyan tree, and she used them to build a pyre. She brought the coconuts, and she collected cow pies by the basketful, and she made a pyre, and ignited it. How? She struck fire with flint.

She lit the pyre, she lit it, sir, she lit it! And now this is what that Huntress did: she took a dagger, son of a ... ! She took a dagger and she began to recite "Shiv! Gorakh! Shiv! Shankar, Shankar!" and she circumambulated it.

/The pyre./

The pyre. King Bharthari was watching. "Son of a ...! Why is she circumambulating it? Let's see, she is becoming sati , maybe she will become sati "

Now King Bharthari was watching. And she took the dagger, and the pyre was burning, her husband's, and she lifted him and placed him in the middle of it, and she took the dagger, and she cut off her breast and threw it, brother.


121

/Into the pyre./

She threw it into the pyre. King Bharthari saw this: "Oh, son of a ...! She cut off her breast and threw it. What is going on?"

Meanwhile she cut her second breast also and threw it also in the pyre.

"Oh, son of a ...! Will she not become sati? " Meanwhile, she cut off one hand. With the dagger, she sliced it and cut it off, and that hand went rolling. She cut it off and threw it in the pyre. Who? This Huntress.

"O son of a ...! She is cutting off her hands and feet and throwing them down."

And now, she cut one leg from the knee. She cut and separated that knee with the dagger, son of a ...! and threw that foot, too. [34]

/Into the pyre./

Into the pyre.

Now she is hopping on one foot, while King Bharthari is looking: "Oh, son of a ...! She has become a sati! She is cutting off her hands and feet and throwing them. Now let me ask her for predictions for the coming year,[35] let me find out the news.

She was hopping along and swaying, and she went and fell into the middle of the pyre.

"Har! Har! Har! Shiv! Shiv! Shiv! Shiv!" she kept saying. Then King Bharthari asked that Huntress:

"Come, Lakshmi,[36] are you going to be a sati? "

"Yes, if King Bharthari says it."

He said, "What are the predictions for the coming year? Tell me. You have become a sati , so tell me your predictions for the coming year."

"King Bharthari, the coming year will pass in great bliss, a very fine year lies ahead ... and say, King Bharthari, do you think I'm giving a show?"


122

"Yes I am sitting here, so I am seeing this show."

"O King Bharthari, you may be watching this show, but your Queen Pingala burned up over there in the Chapala Garden. She has become a pinch of ash. And the people ... there are five hundred, maybe seven hundred villages in your domain, and all the people including women and young men are filling the Chapala Garden. Your Queen Pingala burned up, and the world is watching, and sister-fucker you are watching my show!

"He said, "Is it true?"

"It is; your Pingala burned up."

/Oh my!/

King Bharthari ran from there. He saddled and bridled his horse, he untied his horse and sat on it, and King Bharthari gave it a kick, he gave it a kick, and brother, he came to Ujjain.

He came to Ujjain, and went into the garden, oh my! It was filled up with people! men, boys, little boys, and they were saying "Ram Ram Ram our Queen Pingala burned up."

She became sati ... and now the king's horse appeared and every-one said, "Look, there's our king, he is coming."

/He's alive!/

"But our queen burned up."

Something improper had happened. King Bharthari came and got off his horse, and the grooms took it, somebody tied it up. Then he began to circle the funeral pyre.[37]                     (Bh 2.5.e)

So the pyre is burning, the pyre is burning and as soon as Bharthari came there he began to circle round it.

"Alas Pingala, alas Pingala!"[38] He was circling all around the pyre. He was being stubborn, King Bharthari was being stubborn.

Big lords and officials came—kings came too, very big ones.


123

Even kings who were his equals came: "Hey Grain-giver, hey King Bharthari, where is Queen Pingala now? Where is Queen Pingala? You did it with your own hands, so whom will you blame?[39] You sent the handkerchief with your own hands, and she burned up at her own hands and where is Queen Pingala now? You sent the handkerchief and nobody burned up Pingala by force.

"You knew what you were doing when you sent the handkerchief, so she burned up and now ... did you mean to kill her so you could be a sato?[40] Yes, you 'killed her on purpose to be a sato .'[41] You meant to kill her, you sent the handkerchief, and Queen Pingala burned up. She burned up, and now you keep going on: 'Alas, alas Pingala! Alas Pingala, Pingala!' Where will she come from now? She has become a pinch of ash."

So the king circled the funeral pyre for three days and three nights, crying "Alas Pingala, alas Pingala!" Then God's throne began to tremble.

Why? Because they are dying of hunger, while the king is circling over here.

/How to light the cooking fire? [obviously, this audience member is prompting Madhu ]/

How to light the cooking fire?[42] Women and men and boys and girls were swooning and dying, "Oh misery, we're hungry for bread!" Three nights and three days had gone by, and how to light the cooking fire when the king is over here crying, "Alas Pingala!"?


124

God's throne trembled. When his throne trembled, God said to Naradji,[43] "O Narad?"

"Yes Grain-giver."

"Go and see what's happening in the three worlds.[44] What's going on, what great ascetic was born, causing my throne to tremble?"

So Narad Sovereign ran off, and as he went running and wandering he came to the city of Ujjain. In the city of Ujjain—its rule was over five hundred, one thousand persons, and there were five hundred, thousands of villages that belonged to it—people from the whole district had gathered—women and young men. And there was the king crying, "Alas Pingala, alas Pingala!"

And they were dying of hunger, their eyes watering. The boys and girls were wailing, dying of hunger, rolling around here and there.

But how to light the cooking fire?

Oh my, Lord Narad thought; something weird has happened! Things are stirred up and people are dying.

Having seen this, Narad hurried back to God's city of Vaikunth.[45] Going in there he said, "Grain-giver, hey Lord, something extremely shocking has happened."

"What happened?"

"What happened? Well, Queen Pingala burned up, she became a sati , and King Bharthari came and found that the queen had burned up into a pinch of ashes, and he let his horse go, and he has been circling the funeral pyre crying, 'Alas Pingala! Alas Pingala! Alas Pingala!' for three nights and three days. That's all King Bharthari wishes to do, and he won't accept any counsel, and the people are dying of hunger. The king is acting this way, so how can they light the cooking fires? The boys and girls and women and men are rolling around from starvation, and their eyes are watering—they're dying of hunger, but how can they abandon the king? This is the state of affairs."

Then God said, "Call the thirty-three karor of deities."[46]

So they called the thirty-three karor of goddesses and gods.


125

When they came, God asked, "Now which one of you gave sati to Queen Pingala? Who gave her sati? which one of you thirty-three karor of goddesses and gods?"

"Grain-giver, no one, none of us gave sati to Queen Pingala."

Well, who gave her sati? Sati is given on death. Who gave her sati when her lord of the house[47] was living?"

"Hey Grain-giver, who has this information? We know nothing at all about it. So let's see, ... God, call Lord Shankar."

God called Lord Shankar and asked him, "Hey Shankar, Innocent Storehousekeeper,[48] didn't you give it to her? Who gave sati to Queen Pingala? And her husband was living, so he's crying 'Alas Pingala! Alas Pingala!' and people are dying. Shankar Baba, you gave her sati , didn't you?"

"Yes I gave Queen Pingala sati -power."

"So Baba, how could you give her sati —power when her husband is living? Now King Bharthari is asking for Pingala—how could you give it to her with a living husband?"

"Well, she was my devotee. Who? Queen Pingala. She served me, she was my devotee, so she fell at my feet and said 'Give me sati -power!' and 'He tested me, he tested me, King Bharthari wants to find out if I will be a sati .' So, the sister-fucker, she wanted to burn so she burned!"

Then God said to Lord Shankar, "Well Baba, you gave her sati -power?"

"Yes, I'm the one who gave her sati -power."

"So give back Pingala, give back Pingala, and take away that sati -power you gave her. Take it away from her. Have them light the cooking fires and then come back. If they don't light the cooking fires then they will all die."

Now Mahadevji said, "Oh, sister-fucker! What kind of a mess have I gotten myself into?"

"Into just this kind of a mess—why did you give sati —power? You should have thought, 'Well, brother, her husband is alive, we will hardly give her sati —power.' So Baba, this sin will stick to you."

Then Lord Shankar called Gorakh Nathji and said to him, "O brother Gorakh Nath!"


126

"Yes, Baba."

"Go over there to Ujjain where Queen Pingala burned up, and put an end to King Bharthari's stubbornness. And light the cooking fires."

"But Baba, that King Bharthari, he won't quit being stubborn."

"So give that sister-fucker a couple of blows on his ass with your tongs, and tell that sister-fucker, 'This is how I'll take away your stubbornness!'"

"So the king is stubborn, but I can be just as stubborn—I won't allow him to do what he's doing. I'll beat him with my tongs and I'll make him quit being stubborn, I'll make him forget Queen Pingala."

"Go, Gorakh Nath, and light the cooking fires and stuff, because I'm at fault."

"Baba, you're sending me, so send me—but whatever I say, it should happen[49] —then you can send me. Or else I won't go."

"Go, son, and whatever you say will happen."

"If it's like that, then I'll go."
                    (Bh 2.6.e)

As soon as Shankar Baba gave the order, Gorakh Baba went right away.

He took his sack-and-stuff, the Guru Sovereign took his tongs-andstuff, he put on his sandals-and-stuff[50] and blew his horn. The Guru Sovereign prostrated himself respectfully to Lord Shankar. A seated yogi's a stake in the ground, but a yogi once up is a fistful of wind.[51] The Nath took the wind's own form and turned his face toward[52] Ujjain.

He crossed one forest, he crossed a second forest. In the third forest he came to Ujjain City and he entered the Chapala Garden.

As soon as he entered the Chapala Garden, he saw it was filled with people, women and men.


127

Bharthari Baba was crying, "Pingala Pingala!" and Gorakh Nathji came and as soon as he came, Gorakh Nathji said, "King Bharthari, why are these people dying? You sister-fucker, you killed Pingala. You killed Pingala, but why are you killing all these people? What will you rule then?

"Three days and three nights have passed, and they are dying of hunger, and these boys and girls and women are trembling and dying. Aren't you sorry for them? You're crying, 'Alas Pingala!' but this Pingala has become a pile of ash."

Then he filled both his hands with ash and scattered it to the wind, and the ashes of the funeral pyre flew away.

"King Bharthari, where is your Pingala? You sister-fucker, you burned her up with your own hands, and now you are crying 'Pingala Pingala,' sister-fucker, and it looks as if the people are dying."

But Bharthari Baba[53] didn't listen, still Bharthari Baba didn't listen. He kept on with "Alas Pingala! Alas Pingala!" and he didn't listen—he didn't even know that Gorakh Nathji had come, and he wouldn't shut up.

Gorakh Nathji got mad. "So be stubborn and what will be will be," he said. He had a clay drinking-water jug, like this, just this big, and that jug fell on a big rock and broke; he broke it. He dropped it on a rock. King Bharthari, a little distance away, had been going around the funeral pyre with his "Alas Pingala!" for a long time. He was tired, three days and three nights had passed. Gorakh Nathji, a little ways away, dropped his jug, its little fragments fell, and he circled round them crying "Alas my jug! Alas my jug!"—chanting.[54]

He was chanting, and to King Bharthari's one round he made twenty rounds, he circled the jug chanting, "Alas my jug! Alas my jug!" He was chanting so loud that nobody could even hear Bharthari Baba. Gorakh Nathji's chanting went right up into the sky. He kept chanting "Alas my jug! Alas my jug!" and it was heard all over the world.

So now people began to laugh, "Hey, that sound is coming from the sky! The sky is speaking: 'Alas my jug!' and that chanting reaches down here, too. Now what's going on here?"


128

Bharthari Baba got mad, and he stopped in his tracks, and as soon as he stopped he said to Gorakh Nathji: "Yogi, you're making fun of me! Very important people are gathered here. Very big kings are gathered, and this yogi is making fun of me."

To the assembled people Bharthari said, "Why aren't you able to stop him? These policemen have authority and all these important men are seated here and this yogi is making fun of me, but you aren't able to stop him."

They answered, "Who will fight with a Baba? This is a Baba and who will do it? He is a yogi, so how can we do anything to him? And Grain-giver, you should be patient with him. You did it yourself and caused us all misery and now you're saying 'Alas Pingala!' and demanding her, but where will she come from?"

Then King Bharthari got mad, and he called to Gorakh Nathji, "Hey, you're a yogi and I am King Bharthari and you are making fun of me."

But Gorakh Nathji didn't hear him. He just kept crying, "Alas my jug! Alas my jug!"

Now he burst out in anger at Gorakh Nath. Who?

/Bharthari./

King Bharthari, "Hey yogi, you are making fun of me."

Even so, Gorakh Nathji didn't listen, he didn't leave off his chant: "Alas my jug! Alas my jug!"

The third time King Bharthari said to Gorakh Nathji, "You are totally ruining my reputation. You are crying about your jug of mere clay, but my Queen Pingala burned up, and that's what I am crying about. You are crying over your clay jug and not letting me be heard, yogi."

When he said this three or four times, then Gorakh Nathji stopped.

"What's the matter, King Bharthari?"

"Well, my Queen Pingala burned up, and I'm crying about that but you are crying about a clay jug."

"OK, King Bharthari, what work did your Queen Pingala do?"

He spoke then to King Bharthari.

"King Bharthari, you sister-fucker, you killed her with your own hands. You sent the cloth soaked with deer's blood and killed her, sister-fucker. You killed the deer Moti Stag, sister-fucker, and you sent Moti Stag's blood in a handkerchief to see if your queen would burn or not burn, and she burned.


129

"Why are you crying? Compared to your queen my jug is a very great and useful thing. What was your Queen Pingala like? What work did she do? She made your food and gave it you, and she slept with you in your women's quarters; that's the work she did.

"But my little jug, when my soul feels thirsty, then if I say so she puts her neck in a noose. This little jug puts her neck in a noose and then she goes fifty hands deep and she strains the water and brings it—good, pure water.[55] Afterwards, as soon as she comes out, I drink up the water, glub glub glub glub. She alone is my body's caretaker, and now she has died, so shouldn't I cry for her? She took care of my body. Far better than your queen is my little jug."

Then King Bharthari said, "Gorakh Nathji, I can get seven hundred and fifty clay jugs just like yours."

Gorakh Nathji said, "King Bharthari, you won't get one."

"No, Gorakh Nathji, I will order seven hundred and fifty jugs just like yours."

Gorakh Nathji picked up the broken pieces of his jug and said, "If you order a jug just like this, then I will make seven hundred and fifty Pingalas just like yours stand up."

"How can I believe that?"

He said, "King Bharthari, seven hundred and fifty..."

"Gorakh Nathji Sovereign, I shall order seven hundred and fifty jugs exactly like your jug."

"King Bharthari, you'll order a jug just like this one?"

"Yes, exactly like it."

"Then I will give you seven hundred and fifty Pingalas, every one of them just like yours. Do you think I'm just any yogi? If you ask for seven hundred and fifty Pingalas, I'll get you just as many as you ask for."

Meanwhile, King Bharthari called, "O all you village Potters!" He ordered the village Potters: "Go and bring clay jugs just exactly like this one."

But Gorakh Nathji was saying, "King Bharthari, where are the jugs? Right now the Potters are dying of hunger. It has been four days now, and women and men are dying of hunger. These Potters should go and roll out bread and eat it. They have been hungry for


130

four days, they're upset, so they should sleep for a little while. Later the Potters will take their donkeys and go to the mines. They'll go to the mines and dig out clay, and load it on their donkeys and bring it, and later they will come to their homes and break up the lumps of clay, and later they will add water.

"They'll add water, and later they'll knead it. The clay from the mines. And after kneading it, they'll make balls and then turn them on the wheel and it won't be dry for four days... What? Those jugs that they make. After drying, then they will decorate them, and put them in the sun, and later they will bake them, so meanwhile ten days will pass.

"So, will you keep them sitting here for ten days? Who? All these people, they'll die."

Gorakh Nathji said, "Go, everybody go and light the cooking fires. When I make Queen Pingala stand up, on that day come back and see the show, but meanwhile go light the cooking fires and feed the children. Who knows when the jugs will be ready? Go, brothers. All the sin of this district will be removed, as 'When the evil sinner Shivo Khuvas died... '"[56]

When you suffer hunger, your spirit leaves. So Gorakh Nathji told them, "Go and light the cooking fires. Who knows how many days it's been since the queen died and he's been killing everyone with his 'Alas Pingala!'"
                    (Bh 2.7.e)

So they lit the cooking fires in the village, and the Potters all ate their bread and drank and had a little rest. Then the Potters took their pickaxes, and their buffalo and donkeys and went to the mines to dig. They dug clay and brought it back and threw it in a trench. Breaking the lumps apart, they added water to the clay. They put in water and dissolved it, and finally they began to knead it.

Gradually they prepared it, and when it was ready they shaped it into balls,[57] and then the Potters put these on the wheel and began


131

to turn them. But, that was it! Gorakh didn't allow them to make them nice and straight. He messed them up and made them all crooked.

/He has many kinds of divine games, how would he let them come out right?/

The Potters made the jugs very nicely, but as soon as they cut one and lifted it from the wheel and set it down—of its own accord it became crooked.

Later they dried them in the sun. They dried them in the sun, and the Potters made designs on them and applied color. They applied color and designs to the jugs. They decorated the jugs but he would not allow that particular color to come. Then they baked them in the kiln, to make them firm. They covered them, and they used cow-dung cakes to bake them.

Then they loaded their donkeys, piled them up—the Potters of every village, every district of the kingdom of Ujjain—all the Potters loaded their buffalo and donkeys and brought jugs and more jugs.

/All brought them./

Yes, they brought jugs and more jugs and put them in the Chapala Garden.

It was a huge heap, like you see at a Potter's kiln. Then the king said, "Grain-giver, look! Gorakh Nathji, look! The jugs have come."

But Gorakh Nathji lifted up the shards of his jug and said, "King Bharthari, demand a jug of this color. These Potters haven't brought any of this color, the color of these shards. If you want to have a Pingala just like your Pingala, order me a jug of just this color, and then you'll get your Pingala."

The King said, "O Potters, take these shards and bring me just such a color."

They said, "We have plenty of shards but this color won't come. We've already gone to a lot of trouble, making these jugs. Brother, five or seven days have gone by—by the time we dried them and loaded them on the buffalo, fifteen days have gone by."

Fifteen days had gone by, and what could King Bharthari do? Now the jugs had come, the buffalo came loaded and the donkeys came loaded and Grain-giver Gorakh Nathji Sovereign looked and said, "O King Bharthari, order a jug just like this jug."

So King Bharthari grasped his feet and prostrated himself. "Graingiver, I've done the best I could, good or bad, I've ordered what I could. Now, Grain-giver, that's enough. Good or bad, black or fair,


132

make me a Pingala. Just as I've brought these jugs, black or yellow, so bring her, black or yellow."

So King Bharthari fell at his feet, at Gorakh Nathji's feet, and said, "Grain-giver, just like this, black or fair, make her stand up. I offered you what I could make. So Grain-giver, you give me Pingala, black or fair."
                    (Bh 2.8.e)

Gorakh Baba
worshiped Shankar.[58] Gorakh Baba worshiped Shankar,
"Yes, Shankar as I worship, come, Baba Nath,
And make Pingala stand."

Gorakh Baba had worshiped Shankar,
then he stood up, Gorakh Baba stood up.
Yes, Gorakh Baba lifted his tongs from the campfire
and struck seven times.

He struck his tongs seven times
upon the funeral pyre.
Yes, he hit the ashes.

Baba hit the funeral pyre
seven times with his tongs,
Gorakh Nath hit the funeral pyre,
Yes, and seven hundred and fifty
sluts with fairies[59]  inside
Stood up over here.

Now they descended from
their palanquins,[60]  and
seven hundred and fifty Pingalas were standing.
All the Pingalas, all of them


133

looked like one another.
All looked like all, and all looked like Pingala,
with just one face.
All of them had just one face,
they all had Queen Pingala's face.

Gorakh Baba said to King Bharthari,
"Now listen, Bharthari,
Seven hundred and fifty Pingalas are standing here,
Grab the one that's yours by the hand.
Grab that one only, for if you grab another
by the hand, King,
I'll make your skin fly with my tongs."
                    (Bh 2.9.s)

So, King Bharthari fell at his feet: "Hey Guru Sovereign, hey Gorakh Nathji, Sovereign, I had the black and white jugs made, as best I could, I brought them."

"So like that, black or fair, shall I make seven hundred and fifty Pingalas stand up—gorgeous or black?"

"Yes, Baba, that's what I'm asking you to do."

"Good, King Bharthari."

So Gorakh Nath stood up. He stood up and took the name of Lord Shankar and struck the funeral pyre seven times with his tongs and called, "Hay landi "[61] and seven hundred and fifty Pingalas stood up.

The Pingalas got down from their palanquins, and all seven hundred and fifty Pingalas stood up. They formed two rows, one in front and one in back. All seven hundred and fifty Pingalas stood, and all of them were dressed the same, the ladies were dressed in long skirts just like this lady's.[62]

And they all had blouses just like this, and bangles, and were wearing wraps like this. And their eyes all looked the same. All seven hundred and fifty had Queen Pingala's face, Queen Pingala, who burned up, her exact face—not one of them was missing something.

/Or else the king might not have recognized her./


134

All seven hundred and fifty Pingalas stood there with the same face. Good. Then Gorakh Nathji Sovereign gave an order: "King Bharthari, here are seven hundred and fifty Pingalas. Put your hand on the one that is yours. Don't touch any of the others. Your Pingala is here, so grab her hand, and watch out! Because if you put your hand on another, sister-fucker, I will beat you with my tongs and make your skin fly. Don't touch any other Pingala, but only yours. Grab the one who is your Pingala."

"Hey Grain-giver, they all look the same. They all have the same face."

"What, you don't recognize the Pingala you were crying for?"

"Yes I recognize her."

"Then grab her."

King Bharthari thought, Now Gorakh Nathji said that if I touch the wrong one "I will beat you sister-fucker." But they all have exactly the same face.

He looked at their faces, but they all looked the same.

/One like the next one./

This one looked like the next one who looked like the next one. It was her face.

"Their faces are just like hers—all seven hundred and fifty Pingalas that I see. Her color, her form, son of a ...! Which one should I grab? Should I grab this one or this one?"

So King Bharthari went between the two rows of all seven hundred and fifty Pingalas, and he looked and looked, and then he came back. He came back to the Guru Sovereign.

"Well, King Bharthari, grab her, sister-fucker."

"Baba, they are all mine. All the Pingalas are mine."

"Hey sister-fucker, what do you mean, all seven hundred and fifty Pingalas are yours? You were crying for one, you weren't crying for seven hundred and fifty."

"Grain-giver, Guru Sovereign, I can't recognize her, and if I put my hand on another one, if I grab another one, then you will beat me with your tongs, so what should I do? Grain-giver, I can't recognize her, they all look the same. Therefore they are all mine, because she had a face just like that."

"Go, sister-fucker King Bharthari. You were crying and crying for just one Pingala and now you say 'All seven hundred and fifty are mine.' You sister-fucking greedy king."


135

"So Grain-giver, I won't grab them all, I will only the grab the one you say I should."

"Good, brother."

He blindfolded him tightly. "Now, go, go, and your Pingala will come into your hand. The one that comes into your hand, hold on to her tightly or else she'll take you flying. Grab her forcefully."

So, blindfolded, he went back and grabbed Pingala, brother, he grabbed one, only one. He grabbed her tightly by the wrist.

And Gorakh Nathji struck his tongs again and chased them away. "Go back where you came from, landi . Run away all you Pingalas, fly away."

But the one that King Bharthari had grabbed started to take him up with her, she went flying with him. Then Gorakh Nathji said, "Yeah, you sister-fucking whore, did you kill your husband on purpose to become sati ,[63] Pingala, sister-fucker? He was asking for Pingala. Did you want to make your husband fly with you to Vaikunth? Will you take the king?"

Gorakh Nathji said, "Sister-fucker, husband-killer, you became sati and went over there to Vaikunth. But stop, here comes your husband!"[64]

He gave Pingala back to Bharthari, "Here is your Pingala, King Bharthari, take her and don't say, 'Alas Pingala! Alas Pingala!' Now go into the castle and take care of the kingdom."

Who made this pronouncement? Gorakh Nathji said it. "Take care of your kingdom. And take this Queen Pingala."

This is Ghatiyali Village, and Madhu Nathji has finished this Bharthari right here.

Gorakh Nathji Sovereign made a dead Pingala stand after fifteen days, after fifteen days he gave her into King Bharthari's care, after she had burned. That's the kind of king Gorakh Nathji Sovereign was.
                    (Bh 2.9.e)


136

Part 3
The Guru's Lesson

Introduction

This part opens with Bharthari tossing and turning in his royal bed—perhaps the single moment of the tale in which the audience sympathizes with his character. Comparing Gorakh Nath's power over life and death to his own kingly potency, Bharthari concludes, as have a number of other legendary and mythological Indian kings, that royal dominion is nothing but dust.[1] The lesson begun by Gorakh Nath at Pingala's pyre reaches fruition here in Bharthari's resolve to leave the palace.

Titled by Madhu Nath "The Guru's Lesson" or "sermon" (upades ), part 3 does show Bharthari falling at Gorakh Nath's feet to receive initiation and a little good advice. But most of the action actually concerns the ex-king's confrontation with his former slave girls and wife. Of course, these experiences too are part of the guru's lesson: it is Gorakh Nath's order that the king should bring alms from the hands of Queen Pingala after calling her "Mother." This would seem to be a powerful lesson, indeed. Yet in the event, not Gorakh Nath's but Pingala's words are the most eloquent and memorable, although ultimately futile.

Both Madhu and his audience usually cite "Pingala's lament," which is not a soliloquy but a dialogue between eternally severed husband and wife, as a favorite scene in the epic. It is judged second in appeal only to the initial encounter between Gorakh Nath and


137

Bharthari at Pingala's funeral pyre. Whereas the latter is a scene of comic and magical drama, Pingala's lament is high melodrama—certainly the most emotionally touching episode in Bharthari's epic.

In between Bharthari's initiation and his final encounter with Pingala is the episode in which the king, as yogi—beggar, confronts his former slave girls. This entire scene very closely replicates three encounters between begging yogis and slave girls appearing in Gopi Chand's tale. I decided to condense the yogi-slave girl dialogue here, because I am convinced that it is more intrinsic to the Gopi Chand story, where I fully translate two of its three occurrences (in parts I and 2). When Madhu Nath performed this encounter in Bharthari 3, he not only used the Gopi Chand rag but several times said Gopi Chand's name by mistake, as well as calling Pingala "Patam De." The end of Bharthari's encounter with the slave girls, where I return to a full text, does depart from Gopi Chand's two encounters. Far from breaking down and wailing for his guru, Bharthari unlike Gopi Chand is able to take care of himself even in such taxing circumstances.

When Bharthari finally meets Pingala, we are more clearly back in his proper story; at this very moment Madhu shifts the rag back to the Rajaji melody characteristic of his Bharthari performance. Pingala's challenge to Bharthari is couched in a persuasive rhetoric different from Patam De's to Gopi Chand. Just as Bharthari did not cry when the slave girls attacked him, he does not waver before Pingala's powerful onslaught. Rather, he matches her complaints and demands with appropriate rejoinders.

Nonetheless, audience sympathies are with Pingala. In Gopi Chand the encounter between husband turned yogi and devastated symbolically widowed wife is mediated by the interference of Manavati Mother, who is trying to manipulate them both into following the guru's commands. There, too, the acute passion of Gopi Chand and Patam De as husband and wife is diffused from personal to collective sorrow, if intensified in volume, by the loud chorus of concubines and slave girls. Here, in contrast, Bharthari and Pingala have a one-to-one encounter.

The task of calling one's wife "Mother" and bringing alms from her hands is a standard trial for new yogis in popular traditions. Why this should be, when initiation as a renouncer involves a shedding of past identities and kinship connections, is again a question I take up (though hardly answer) in the afterword. Let me, however, call the


138

reader's attention to the final lines of Madhu Nath's text: "Baba, now feast on your food, from the queen today, from my Queen Pingala." Just at the moment when the guru has promised that his yoga will be fulfilled, Bharthari uses the language of his ruling times: "my Queen." Thus, although Bharthari seems to have internalized the guru's lesson far more readily and thoroughly than did his nephew Gopi Chand, this speech suggests a lingering irresolution. It could be a verbal accident, or it could be yet another expression of how difficult it is to let go of past possessions and relationships, even for a fated and strong-willed renouncer-king.

Text

Honored King ...
Your throne and bed are pleasant, King,
Your storehouse filled with pearls, King Bharthari.
Your storehouse filled with pearls, King Bharthari,
    You must realize, Bharthari Panvar,
King of Dhara Nagar,
Nobody is immortal!

Honored King ...
At midnight the king had a dream,
He dreamed he saw Gorakh Nath,
   you must realize, Bharthari,
He dreamed he saw Gorakh Nath,
   you must realize, Bharthari.
You must realize, Bharthari Panvar, King of Dhara Nagar, Nobody is immortal!

Honored King ...
At night he dreamed he saw Shankar,
Lord Shankar appeared to the king in the night,
   to King Bharthari,
And Baba Gorakh Nath appeared,
   you must realize, Bharthari.
You must realize, Bharthari Panvar,
King of Dhara Nagar,
You're my wedded lord, but
you've gone and left me destitute.


139

Honored King ...
The king had dreams at midnight: Listen King Bharthari!
Honored King ...
You'll go to hell[2]  if you rule the kingdom,
my king, straight to hell.
Now you be a yogi, you must realize, Bharthari.
You must realize, Bharthari Panvar,
King of Dhara Nagar,
Ujjain City's ruler, you must realize, Bharthari.
                    (Bh 3.1.s)

Meanwhile, the kingdom and Queen Pingala were given back into Bharthari's care. He is king, and he does not lack diamonds or rubies, his warehouse is filled with pearls. But now the king can't sleep. King Bharthari can't sleep. In his dreams he sees Lord Shankar and he sees Gorakh Nathji Sovereign.

Gorakh Nathji Sovereign appears to him: "Oh King, why are you holding on to these things when you should hold on to yoga?"

The king agreed. "There's something in the condition of yoga but nothing at all in rule."

"King, nothing comes of ruling! You just accumulate sin. You eat dharma.[3] You put cows in the lockup and then collect a fine. Whoever commits any crime or sin, you fine them fifty or one hundred rupees. So you eat dharma and then you fall into hell. King, ruling is the same as hell, but yoga is the same as ruling. Previously you earned yoga, you earned yoga and so you became king.[4] But by ruling you fall into hell."

The king agreed, but for five, ten, fifteen, twenty days, for an entire month it went on like this. He stayed, but King Bharthari couldn't sleep. "Oh, this is all a bundle of sin! And sister-fuck! What to do inside of it? Look, take Gorakh Nathji, he is wise, and he lives as a yogi, so why should I live as a king? In the forest he brought Moti Stag to life and sent him running. Gorakh Nathji Sovereign brought a dead deer to life. Oh my, what a yogi! When my own Queen Pingala burned up, she was really a pinch of ash, and he scattered it, but


140

fifteen days later he made seven hundred and fifty Pingalas stand up! Oh my, this yoga is great. To hold on to yoga is great, but to live as a king is nothing at all. It is just a fall to hell."

Now King Bharthari agreed. "All right, I'll be a yogi, I'll do it, because this life of rule is nothing but dust. I shall go behind the queen's back. Otherwise, if I try to leave in front of the queen and all the others, there isn't a chance that they'll let me go."

[An older woman in the audience, not the hunkar, comments , Yes, they won't let the king go! Who would let him go?]

"Now I won't rule. I won't rule and I will put the auspicious mark of rule[5] on my brother, Hero Vikramaditya."

"Hey Grain-giver, where did you get such an impossible notion?"

/He had a younger brother./

Yes, his younger brother was Hero Vikramaditya.

"We ought to crown Vikramaditya. I won't rule anymore, so I'll call my brother Hero Vikramaditya and crown him. He will be the master of the kingdom."

King Bharthari couldn't sleep, or he slept restlessly, and he saw Gorakh Nathji and agreed with him. His desire fixed on yoga. "Compared to yoga the ruling life is nothing at all. In the ruling life you fall into hell." King Bharthari agreed with this. So let's see now, at midnight, he got up and is going into the jungle ...
                    (Bh 3.1.e)

Honored King ...
At midnight Bharthari got up, my King Bharthari
He went out of the palace, the king went out,
   you must realize, Bharthari,
The King is leaving the city,
you must realize, Bharthari,
The King is leaving the city,
   you must realize, Bharthari,
You must realize, Bharthari Panvar of Dhara Nagar,
Ujjain City's ruler wandered in the jungle.
He went wandering in the jungle,
you must realize, Bharthari.

Honored King ...
He crossed one woods, the king crossed another,


141

He crossed the third woods and then,
   you must realize, Bharthari,
The king crossed the third woods,
   you must realize, Bharthari,
The king went wandering in the jungle,
you must realize, Bharthari,
Over here a lion roars, you must realize, Bharthari.
Now he fixed his mind on Gorakh Baba,
Now he fixed his mind on Gorakh Baba,
He is crying in the jungle now, O King Bharthari.

Honored King ...
On the mountain his campfire[6]  is burning, O King Bharthari,
He went straight to that campfire, King Bharthari
He went straight to that campfire, O King Bharthari.

Honored King ...
He went to the campfire, King Bharthari, my King Bharthari,
He fell at the campfire and called, O King Bharthari,
He fell at the campfire and called, O King Bharthari,
You must realize, Bharthari Panvar met Gorakh Baba,
He met Baba Gorakh Nath, you must realize, Bharthari,
You must realize, Bharthari Panvar of Dhara Nagar,
Dhara Nagar's king bowed flat to Gorakh Nath,
he bowed flat, you must realize, Bharthari.[7]

The king bowed flat to Gorakh,
he fell at his feet.
"Yes Baba raise your eyelids, Dina Nath,
and make me your disciple.

"My guru raise your eyelids,
Baba Gorakh Nath
Make me your disciple."

When Bharthari said this,
Gorakh Baba raised his eyelids,


142

Now he raised his eyelids,
Yes, Baba raised his eyelids, Gorakh Nath,
and saw King Bharthari at his feet.

"King, I already took care
of your queen
so why have you come again?"
"My guru make me a disciple
Gorakh Baba Nath
Please make me a yogi."

"King, your queen
will wail in the Color Palace.
Yes King, she will be sati , so why then
are you standing here again?
Your queen will wail
in the Color Palace.
Go back and rule!"

"My guru in a life of rule
I fall into hell,
my honored guru Gorakh,
But Baba, in a life of yoga, Baba Nath,
I'll get immortality.

"Now make me your disciple,
Baba Gorakh Nath,
for I can't ever sleep."
                    (Bh 3.2.s)

So whenever King Bharthari tries to sleep then, always, Lord Shankar appears to him, and always Gorakh Nathji appears.

The king really found out that if there is anything at all, it is in the yogi's life. But in the life of a ruler there is nothing at all—all it amounts to a pile of hell.

"So Guru Sovereign, initiate me as your disciple.[8] I get to sleep only with great difficulty, and if I do get to sleep, then Gorakh Sovereign, you appear. I was wandering lost in the wild woods, wandering lost


143

and with difficulty when your bright campfire appeared. Your bright campfire appeared, so Guru Sovereign, I have come.

"I called, 'Hey Baba Gorakh, Baba Gorakh Nath,' while I was in the jungle, and lions and tigers were roaring and I had no weapons with me, nothing at all. But Baba, I thought only of you, and you kept the lions and tigers from eating me. Baba, I was lost in the jungle when this hill with your campfire on top appeared, and so Guru Sovereign, I have tied myself to your holy feet and fallen there. Guru Sovereign, initiate me as your disciple."

"Hey King Bharthari, sister-fucker, always you are wailing like a queen. First you cried, 'Alas Pingala, alas Pingala,' and now you are following me? Queen Pingala will weep."

"Let her weep if she weeps. Make me a yogi."

"Oh yoga is very difficult work, King Bharthari. I will thrust a dagger through your ears, and then I will thrust these wooden plugs[9] in the holes. Following a yogi's rules is very difficult; it is the blade of a sword."

"No Baba, no matter what, I will take hold of yoga."

"OK, I will make you a yogi."

"Yes Baba I will certainly be a yogi."

"Now I will thrust the dagger in your ears ... but are you sure this heat won't burn you?"[10]

"No Baba."

"Good, son, but your soul doesn't go to your queens?"

"No, it doesn't."

"Your soul doesn't go to your brothers, your family?"

"No, it doesn't."

"So sit down King Bharthari, now I will make you a yogi."
                    (Bh 3.2.e)

So to make him a yogi he seated him in the ukaru position,[11] like this [Madhu demonstrates ]. Gorakh Nathji Sovereign took his dagger and thrust it through Bharthari's ear. He pierced his ear and pushed


144

in plugs made of nim wood, as big as a big toe. Plugs of nim are pushed in first.

So, he put in the plugs. "Yes, sister-fucker! Now look, you will remember your life of rule."[12] And he ignited flames in a half-pot[13] and put it on his head. First he took a head pad and put it on his head, and then he ignited flames in a half-pot and placed it on top, and the flames reached his ears. It didn't burn his head, but it kept his ears very warm. Keeping his ears warm, he took him to Badari Narayan.[14] Who? Gorakh Nathji Sovereign.

He took him to Badari Narayan. They went very slowly, by foot, and they were barefoot too. Bharthari had many blisters on his feet, and the pot was burning on top of him, and he was sweating too, with the heat coming onto his ears.

The king thought, Sister-fucker! Ruling was really great.

[Much laughter from the audience ]

"Oh my, yoga is very big and difficult work. Yoga is very big and bad work. Oh, flames are heating my ears."

The guru was going in front. He took him to Badari Narayan. It took them ten, fifteen days to reach there, maybe a month. So he took him to Badari Narayan, and there he took darsan of Badari Narayan. They prostrated themselves and gave respect to Badari Narayan. Then Gorakh Nathji Sovereign took permission from Lord Shankar ... and he put an iron platter[15] on his head and they went to make offerings to Hing Laj Mother.[16]

To worship Hing Laj Mother they had to go by foot. Previously there were no motor cars, no airplanes [Laughter ], no motors or cycles,


145

no way to go but by foot, and the platter was burning on his head, and the flames were striking his ears. It took about a month for them to get there. Where? To worship Hing Laj Mother.

They went by foot, and he had blisters on his feet. Some places they found water but some places there was no grain, no water, nothing at all. It was very difficult for King Bharthari. "Oh me, oh my! A very weird thing has happened. In truth, the life of yoga is very hard work."

Afterwards they came back to the campfire in the Kajali Woods.[17] And then Gorakh Nathji took the platter down from King Bharthari's head.

"Enough! Sit down, King Bharthari. Now you don't have a platter on your head and your ears are healed. The heat burned away the blood, and they're healed. Now let's put darsani in your ears."

Enough! He took out such darsani! Who? Gorakh Nathji Sovereign. There were diamonds sparkling in them, and he put them in his ears for him to wear.

"Good son, I will give you darsani like these to wear, King Bharthari." So he gave him darsani to wear, and he was a yogi. "Recite prayers and sit." He taught him to turn his prayer beads and gave him ashes to rub on himself and gave him a loincloth to wear. He gave Bharthari Baba prayer beads to turn, made of rudraksa ,[18] and he gave him a deer-horn instrument on a rope[19] and yogis' earrings to wear.

"OK, son, Bharthari."

"Yes Guru Sovereign?"

"Son, your yoga is still not fulfilled."

"So Guru Sovereign, how will it be?"

"Go to your Queen Pingala's palace and bring alms from your queen's hand. And say 'Mother,' 'Honored Mother,' call your queen 'Mother.' [This is spoken with high drama .] 'Drop in alms, Pingala Mother!' Then your yoga will be complete."

"Hey Guru Sovereign, my Queen Pingala is my wife, she is my wife, she is my wife, so how will I call her 'Mother'?"


146

"Yes, sister-fucker! The queen was your wife, when you lived as a ruler, she was your Queen Pingala, but now you have become a yogi. Now you have become a yogi, and she has become your mother. So call her 'Mother' out loud, and bring alms. Then your yoga will be complete."

"Fine, Guru Sovereign, I shall go."

"Look son, come on the roads and go on the roads and call all women 'Mother' and 'Sister.'[20] And don't bring shame to your yogi's robes. Get alms from your Queen Pingala. Call her 'Mother,' and take alms and hurry back."

"Fine, Grain-giver."

So, let's see what happens with Pingala.
                    (Bh 3.3.e)

Honored King[21]  ...
The king ... a seated yogi's a stake in the ground,
but a yogi once up is a fistful of wind.
He took his sack, the yogi
picked up his tongs,
he put on his sandals,
and sounded his deer-horn instrument.
Baba sounded his horn,
and bowed his head to the guru.
Yes Baba wandered into the jungle, Bharthari Nath,[22] and turned his face toward Ujjain.

Bharthari Baba crossed one woods,
the yogi crossed a second woods,
then he crossed the third woods.
Yes, in the third woods, Lord,
Baba came to the boundaries of Ujjain.
                    (Bh 3.4.s)


147

King Bharthari had become a yogi, but in the jungle Bharthari Nath remembered the things of his ruling times. The white, white castles appeared, and he remembered the things of his ruling times.

"Oh my, I used to sport at hunting lions in this very jungle, with how many soldiers and armies, and workers and servants! I sat in a throne on an elephant's back with whisks waving over me and many Royal Bards[23] praising me. And today in what poverty I have come!

"On my fair[24] body a loincloth[25] is tied, and on my fair neck tangled locks spread, and my whole body is smeared with ash. Just look at the poverty Fate has given me: in my hand tongs and on my feet sandals and on my shoulders a sack. I'm wandering in the jungle and there is no herald for me, there are no humans at all."

So King Bharthari was remembering the things of his ruling times and crying hard, his eyes filled with Indra's misty rain. Water poured from his eyes.[26] Who was there to talk with in the jungle?

"Oh my guru, Fortune has inscribed this destiny in my karma with thick writing: immortal fakirhood.[27] There is no one to remove it."

But he kept up his faith, telling himself, "Quit remembering the things of your ruling times, and keep your mind on prayer. Let's go brother, with a strong chest!" And King Bharthari went on his way.[28]

A seated yogi's a stake in the ground, but a yogi once up is a fistful


148

of wind. The Nath took the wind's own form. He crossed one woods, and a second woods, and in the third woods he entered the city of Ujjain.

King Bharthari entered with tongs in his hand and locks this long hanging down, and he went along smeared with ashes, but keeping up his courage. Over there nobody even said "Victory to Shiva!"[29] Who would? "Brother, it's just some poor sadhu ."

"There is no one to announce my own name, they don't even remember Bharthari Baba over here. That is what the world of flux is like. There was a day when I used to go out riding, and then they called before me, 'Mercy, Grain-giver, mercy, Grain-giver!' But now look! My own people see me in this poor clothing, in yogi's robes, and nobody even says 'Victory to Mahadev!' This is the ocean of cosmic flux."

Thinking in this way, he went into the Jewel Square.[30] He passed through one portal, he passed through a second portal, he went to the top of the third portal and set up his meditation seat and lit his campfire.

Having lit his campfire in the third portal, Bharthari Baba stood up and cried "Alakh! " He cried "Alakh! " and blew his deer-horn instrument. As soon as he blew his deer-horn instrument, and cried "Alakh! " it resounded in Queen Pingala's ears.

And as soon as it resounded in Queen Pingala's ears, she called her eleven slave girls.[31] Queen Pingala had eleven slave girls among whom her favorite's name was Motiji.

"Motiji."

"Yes, Lady?"

"Go, son, today some great soul has come to our door, a yogi has come. And he is calling 'Alakh! ' He has sounded his deer-horn instru-


149

ment. Go, son, fill a platter with diamonds and rubies and take it. Put on fine clothing and then go, don't go like this. You put on nice clothes and go. Take a platter of diamonds and rubies, and go, give the yogi alms. Go quickly because if you don't then the yogi will leave our door empty-handed and give a curse.

"Now we don't know, for he didn't tell us, where our own king is. He became a yogi ... who knows how we failed to serve him[32] ... our own king became a yogi, or so they say, though we didn't see it with our own eyes. He went out in the night, and who knows where he went. Two months, two and a half months have passed and he hasn't come back."
                    (Bh 3.4.e)

So the queen sent Moti Dasi to give alms, and she started a fight. [Moti Dasi dresses in her finest and offers Bharthari a platter of diamonds and rubies. When he refuses them she insults him, and eventually he loses his temper and strikes her. She goes weeping to the queen, who arms all her slave girls with bamboo sticks and sends them to drive away the violent yogi. They surround him and threaten him with their sticks. For an identical encounter featuring Gopi Chand and his queen's slave girls see GC 2. I return now to Madhu's words.]
                    (Bh 3.5-6.e)

So they surrounded him and prodded him. Then Bharthari Baba thought, Before these sluts thoroughly spoil my honor, I will show them the face of my ruling times. So he wet a square of cloth from his gourd[33] and wiped the offering-ash off his whole body. He wiped the offering-ash from his face too. He said, "Sluts, you saw my garments of poverty. That's why you came with bamboo sticks. Who would recognize me? Sluts, raised on my scraps, you are holding bamboo sticks over me!"

Oh my! As soon as they saw King Bharthari's face, all the sluts fell at his feet. And they threw down their bamboo sticks. "Hey Grain-giver, we have become your ungrateful wretches."[34]


150

/va sa va! [exclamation of satisfaction and approval ]/

"We threatened you with bamboo sticks, and we have become ungrateful wretches."

So then as soon as they said this, the bondwomen went running, the slave girls. They ran wailing, and the queen said, "Girls, I sent you laughing so why have you come crying? What kind of a yogi is it, a magician, a death-spell wielder? Did he feed you some kind of roasted hashish that you have come stoned and wailing?"

"Lady, no, the yogi is no magician, no death-spell wielder, and he did not feed us roasted hashish. But your fate has split and the king, King Bharthari, has come as a yogi. He has long matted locks spreading, and in his ears he is wearing yogis' earrings. And there are ashes smeared on him and — take your ivory armbands and throw them away, and put on a long blouse![35] The king has become a yogi!"

"O sluts, many yogis come, and they all look the same! Yogis keep coming, crying 'Alakh! ' Sluts, now I will beat you with the whip, and I will make your skin fly off. The king will never be a yogi. He will never come."

What he became now we'll see.
                    (Bh 3.7.e)

Now Pingala came too.[36] She passed through all the portals,
and all the slave girls
went with her.
Yes, Lady, go and take your husband's  darsan:
Your husband-god[37]  has come as a yogi.

She crossed one portal, the queen
crossed the second portal,
then she came to the third portal.
Yes, in the third portal, Lord,
King Bharthari was standing.


151

He picked up his sack, Baba,
and lifted his tongs,
and picked up his cup.
"Yes, Mother Pingala, give me alms today,
it is the guru's powerful command!
My mother, give me alms,
Pingala Mother,
it is the guru's powerful command."

Honored King[38]  ...
Misled by a yogi
he is standing, he has come,
my husband has come.

Honored King ...
Had I but known you were
born to be a yogi,
my king, had I but known,
I would have stayed with my father,
and thus spent my life,
   you must realize, Bharthari.
You must realize, Bharthari Panvar of Dhara Nagar,
you're the master of my union but
you've gone and left me destitute.

Honored King ...
Eat and drink and accept wealth,[39] my husband, accept it,
Treat your soul with love, you must realize, Bharthari,
treat your soul with love, you must realize, Bharthari.
You must realize, Bharthari Panvar of Dhara Nagar,
you're the master of my union but
you've gone and left me destitute.


152

Honored Queen ...
Don't stand there and quarrel, my beautiful queen,
My company's leaving for Badari Nath.[40] Quit being stubborn, O Queen, for
my company's leaving for Badari Nath.
Quit being stubborn, just like a woman,[41] and accept what I say.

Honored King ...
When I was a virgin, many grooms sought me, my king,
   many grooms sought me.
But nobody marries a married woman,
   you must realize, Bharthari,
Nobody marries a married woman,
   you must realize, Bharthari.
You must realize, Bharthari Panvar of Dhara Nagar,
you're the master of my union but
you've gone and left me destitute.

Honored King ...
For whom shall I wear these dangling earrings,
   my husband, dangling earrings?
And for whom this tasseled armband?
   you must realize, Bharthari,
For whom this tasseled armband?
   you must realize, Bharthari.
You must realize, Bharthari Panvar of Dhara Nagar,
you're the master of my union but
you've gone and left me destitute.

Honored King ...
If you must be a yogi then
I am your yogini, my husband, your yogini.
We'll cooperate in yogic practice,
   you must realize, Bharthari,
We'll cooperate in yogic practice,
   you must realize, Bharthari,


153

You must realize, Bharthari Panvar of Dhara Nagar,
take me with you, master, you must realize, Bharthari.
You must realize, Bharthari Panvar of Dhara Nagar,
you're the master of my union but
you've gone and left me destitute.

Honored Queen ...
If I take you with me, the world will speak badly,
   my queen, they'll speak badly.
The world will think me a householder,
   you must realize, female.
You must realize, female species,
   you must realize, Bharthari.
You must realize, female species,
   and accept what I say.
                    (Bh 3.8.s)

Baba lifted his sack and lifted his cup, "Ho, Pingala Mother, don't quarrel with me, give me alms, Pingala Mother. It is my Guru Sovereign's powerful command. Give me alms my mother!"

As soon as he said this she fell into lamentation, "Oh my, this is really an outrage! Now you said 'Mother.' Hey, husband-god, am I your mother or am I your woman? Could this have come to pass in just a few days?"

He said, "Now you're not my queen or anything, now you are my mother."

Then she lamented, "Hey Honored King, eat and drink and accept wealth, and treat your soul with love. The pleasures of a human birth will not come again.

"Honored King, for whom do I wear these dangling earrings, and for whom this tasseled armband? And Grain-giver, what is this outrage you've committed? I burned up in the garden, and you had me brought back to life. It seems you had me brought back to life in order to make me weep, in order to leave me here lamenting."

[Several members of the audience, of both sexes, make sympathetic comments .]

Then he said, "You have your young brother-in-law,[42] who? Hero


154

Vikramaditya. The auspicious mark of rule was given to him and you can live with him in bliss."

"King, a craving for mangoes isn't satisfied by tamarinds. King Bharthari, if you must be a yogi, then take me with you. I'll be your yogini, and we'll cooperate in yogic practices, we'll both live in the condition of yoga."

"Hey Queen, if I took you with me the world would understand us as householders and the world would speak badly."

"I will be a yogini."

"If you become a yogini it won't look good. We can't live together. I have taken on fakirhood, immortal fakirhood, and you are my mother, so how could I take you with me?"

Now the queen said, "Hey King, if I had known you were born to be a yogi I would have stayed with my father, and I would never have got married. How was I to know that you were born to be a yogi?

"I would never have got married, I would have stayed a virgin, and worshiped the pipal tree[43] at my father's house. But you are leaving me in the middle."

"Queen, don't stand there quarreling, because my company is about to leave for Badari Nath. Why are you standing there and quarreling? Fortune wrote in my karma, and she wrote 'immortal fakirhood' and there is no remover."

So that's the way the queen lamented. Then the king said, "Queen, don't lament, and give me alms, I must have alms, it is my guru's powerful command, so don't delay."

Hey, Guru Sovereign! Indescribable! Indestructible!
                    (Bh 3.8.e)

Honored Queen ...
Feast me a meal
   from your hand, my queen,
from your hand,
And make the guru's portion too, Queen Pingala.
You must realize, female species, and accept what I say!
Accept what I say, female species.
Quit being stubborn, female species, and
   accept what I say!


155

Honored King ...
Place your campfire in the Cloud Castle,[44]    my husband in the castle.
Place your meditation seat in the portal, and
   do tapas[45]  at my door.
Oh yes,
do tapas  only here, ruler,
You must realize, Bharthari,
you must realize, Bharthari Panvar of Dhara Nagar,
Ujjain City's ruler, you've gone and left me destitute.

Honored King ...
What is moonlight without the moon,
   my husband?
What is night without the stars?
you must realize, Bharthari.
What is night without the stars?
   you must realize, Bharthari.
You must realize, Bharthari Panvar of Dhara Nagar,
you're the master of my union but
you've gone and left me destitute.

Honored Queen ...
If I place my campfire here, the smoke will fly up,
   my lovely queen, it will fly up.
The Color Palace will be blackened, Queen Pingala,
the Color Palace will be blackened, my Queen Pingala.
You must realize, female species, and
accept what I say.

Honored King ...
If the kingdom be blackened,
or the palace, my husband,
I will double their color,
   you must realize, Bharthari,
I will double their color!


156

You must realize, Bharthari Panvar,
do tapas  at my door.
Yes, do tapas  at my door, ruler,
You must realize, Bharthari.

Honored King ...
Who tied the yellow wedding bracelets,
   my husband, the wedding bracelets?
Who tied the wedding crest on your head?
   you must realize, Bharthari,
Who tied the wedding crest on your head?
   you must realize. Bharthari.
You must realize, Bharthari Panvar of Dhara Nagar,
you're the master of my union but
you've gone and left me destitute.

Honored Queen ...
The Brahman tied the yellow wedding bracelets,
   my queen, the bracelets.
The Barber tied the wedding crest on my head,
   you must realize, female.
You must realize, female species, and
accept what I say.

Honored King ...
Let lightning strike the Brahman,
   my husband, lightning,
Let a black snake bite the Barber,
   you must realize, Bharthari,
Let a black snake bite the Barber,
   you must realize, Bharthari.
You must realize, Bharthari Panvar of Dhara Nagar,
you're the master of my union but
you've gone and left me destitute.
                    (Bh 3.9.s)

So she had lamented all this much, but even so what happened? He said, "Queen, now you have lamented about everything, and you want lightning to strike down the Barber, you want a black snake to bite whomever, whatever you want, but if you are going to prepare a meal and feast me at this campfire, do it, or else I will pack up and


157

go right now. Today you see my face, but afterwards you will not see it."

So, weeping, the queen went back and prepared food. She prepared food and came back and fed it to Bharthari Baba. She fed him and she put down a special portion for the Guru Sovereign.

"Hey, King Bharthari, I didn't know you were born to be a yogi, and I burned up, so why did you make me stand up again?"

[The audience laughs at this bitter irony ]

She fed him and kept up her lamentation. After the food was prepared, she took him inside the castle and feasted him a good meal.

"Take the special portion for the Guru Sovereign and go, sir, go."

She gave him a send-off and he went back to the campfire.

/To Gorakh Nath's campfire./

To Gorakh Nath's.
                    (Bh 3.9.e)

Honored King[46]  ...
My blouse was never wet with milk, husband,
   my blouse,
And a boy child never played in my lap,
you must realize, Bharthari,
A boy child never played in my lap.
You must realize, Bharthari,
You must realize, Bharthari Panvar of Dhara Nagar,
Dhara Nagar's ruler left me destitute.

Honored King...
Feast on food from my hand,
my husband, from my hand.
Take the guru's portion, O King Bharthari,
Then give me darsan once again, Innocent Nath,
   you must realize, Bharthari.
You must realize, Bharthari Panvar of Dhara Nagar,
You're the master of my union but
you've gone and left me destitute.

Honored King...
He picked up his campfire


158

from the portal now, King Bharthari,
he shouldered his sack,
King Bharthari.
Now the yogi got up, you must realize, Bharthari.
[A brief musical interlude in GC  rag  2, and a return to it ]

A seated yogi's a stake in the ground,
but a yogi once up is a fistful of wind.
Yes Baba became the wind's own form
and turned his face toward the Kajali Woods.

He crossed one woods,
Bharthari crossed a second woods, then
he crossed the third woods.
Yes in the third woods, Lord,
Baba reached the guru's campfire.

He reached the campfire
and bowed his head to the guru,
he bowed his head.
"Baba take this special portion of Pingala's,
My guru, feast on my food.

"My guru I stayed on the road, Baba,
I stayed on the road.
I called everyone
'Mother' and 'Sister.'
Yes Baba take this food, Gorakh Baba,
I called the queen 'Mother' and brought it.

"Baba, now feast on your food,
from the queen today,
from my Queen Pingala."

Speak: Victory to Bharthari Baba! Speak: Victory to Guru Gorakh Sovereign! O Lord Shankar, now Bharthari Baba is complete.
                    (Bh 3.10.s)


159

previous part
THE TALE OF KING BHARTHARI
next part