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The Legends of The Panjab (Set of 2 Vols) - Book By K S Duggal, RC Temple

Publisher: Rupa Publications
Authors: K S Duggal, RC Temple
Page: 686
Format: Hardbound
Language: English
Product Code: SIK111
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Introduction to the Book 'The Legends of The Panjab Vol. - I' By K S Duggal and RC Temple

Folklore, more particularly the folksongs are said to be the autobiography of a people. That folksongs in the form of ballads, odes, etcetera are more reliable than folktales as a reflex of popular notions of a people has been recognized by Sir Richard Temple, more than once. And from all accounts he is the pioneer in the Panjab Folklore as a discipline followed by Bawa Budh Singh, Devindar Satyarthi and Dr. Wanjara Bedi much later. Says Sir Richard :

"...where the folktale and the bard's poem exist side by side, as in the Panjab, the latter is the older and the more valuable form of the same growth, though, of course, the influence of the folktale will react on the poem."

It is eminently true in the case of Panjab folk songs.

If you must go to serve in the battle-front,

Oh rider of the blue horse!

Carry me in your haversack.

And wherever the night falls,

Oh rider of the blue horse!

Pull me out and take me in your arms.

This song in Punjabi echoes the heart-cry of the Panjabi people. They have had trouble always in store for them. They had to fight many a battle of their own as well as those of their neighbours. And this has made the Panjabi woman fearless. She is bold. She asks her lover to carry her along even to the battle-field.

The life of a Panjabi damsel is usually a long tale of longings. Every Panjabi girl must dream of a soldier-lover. This spells separation, and endless waiting. Every day dawns with a new hope; every night passes with a loving dream. Seasons come and seasons go. But spring has its own charm, its own magic.

The vine is in blossom! The vine is in blossom!

Parrots are nibbling away at the blossoms.

The vine is in blossoms!

The vine is in fruit! The vine is in fruit!

But he who should eat it is far, far away.

The vine is in fruit!

I go and ask the priest, I go and ask the priest

With a trayful of pearls,

I go and ask the priest.

Open the patri, Oh priest, pray, open the patri.

When will my jewel return?

Pray, open the patri.

The priest opens the patri, the priest opens the patri,

In the month of Sawan will your jewel return.

The priest opens the patri,

False is your patri, Oh priest! False is your patri,

It's the month of Sawan and my jewel hasn't come.

False is your patri, Oh priest!

The vine is in blossom! The vine is in blossoms!

For people who have to run the risk of their lives every day and whose entires life becomes an endless struggle with perils, it is not unnatural for them to grow superstitious or fatalistic. But the Panjab is seldom succumb to such practices. The Panjabi sweetheart is not needlessly sacred. If her lover has not returned in the month of Sawan as promised by the priest, she tells him that his patri is fake and his reading faulty. She is not worried about her faith or convictions.

This is, perhaps, the reason why unlike Bengal and Assam, whose folklore is noted for magic and witchcraft, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh for superstitious beliefs and practices, the South and Maharashtra for fairs and festivals, the Panjab is known for folksongs and folk romances. The long drawn-out songs tell the tale of the young Panjabi maiden trying to find an expression for her love, her longings and her aspirations. The songs of the peasant sweating in the field are different. He is strong, hefty and stout-hearted. Like bubbles, his emotions rise from the depths of his heart and burst no sooner than they reach the surface in the form of short tappas. Mahya songs and bolian are particularly the favourites of the menfolk. They are usually a couplet or a single verse complete in itself though capable of forming a link in a chain.

Poetry comes like an inborn gift to the Panjabi child. Maybe it is the soil, maybe it is the salubrious waters of the land, maybe it is the nearness of the lofty mountains, the Panjabi's youth's experience of exhilaration  finds apt expression in the rhythms and refrains of the folksongs. In the streets of the Panjab, the children sing as they play, in the courtyards the womenfolk sing as they work, out in the fields the men sing as they plough and sow and reap and harvest the crop.

In the folksongs of the Panjab, there is hardly any references to the sea; there are few stories about boats and boatmen. They tell the tales of battles and brave warriors and sing praises of the sword and the spear. There are stories of spotted scarfs, silken skirts and swelling turbans. Fond lovers and fairylike sweethearts. Panjab folksongs describe festivals and fairs, fearless competitors in wrestling bouts and horse races. And there are stories of the large-hearted farmers, and of rains which are usually kind and of crops which seldom let the peasant down.

A Panjabi maiden wishes to live a fuller life. She must have kohl for her eyes. She must have silken ribbons in her hair. She must have scented ubatna for her figure. And if something happens that is contrary to her wishes, she refuses to touch the ubatna.

I have not used the ubatna.

Father, what a match you have chosen!

Short stature is not to my liking.

Standing on the roof as I see,

He looks like a stone rolling along,

I have not used the ubatna.

Father, what a match you have chosen!

Tall and lean and lanky

His head is on one bed

And his legs on the other.

I have not used the ubatna.

Father, what a match you have chosen!

He is least like me.

I may bake eight, I may bake ten

Not a crumb is left for me.

I have not used the ubatna.

Another theme which recurs in the Panjab folksongs repeatedly is the abandon with which the Panjabi youth fall in love. This drama is enacted in the fields, amidst the rich crops, in the thick of jungles with rustling trees as witness, on the banks of rivers with singing water in the background and in the trinjan under ever new pretexts. This drama is played with the swing soaring high in the sky, with the cattle going astray in the fields, on the way to the temple for prayers and back. The lovelorn protagonists of this play sit on the terrace in the evening and wait, they watch the sky full of stars at night, when drawing water from the well, they singh songs of love. Heer met Ranjha on a river-bank. Saheban met Mirza in a madrasa, Sohini met Mahiwal in her father's pottery.

A popular theme of the Panjab folksongs is a sister's love for her brother. The Panjabi equivalent for brother is veer - the brave. Saheban fell in love with Mirza, the renowned marksman and left her home with her lover. They are chased. Seeing among the pursuers her own brothers, Saheban picked up her lover's quiver and flung it on the tree. Saheban and her lover were slaughtered but she had done her duty of filial love. A Panjabi sister sings the praises of her brother in the play-songs of her childhood and in the love-songs of her youth. Her brother is her only hope. When married, it is the brother who comes to rescue her from the callous treatment of the mother-in-law. The brother's horse is the best, the brother's house is the largest, the brother's crops are the richest, the brother wears a white turban, the brother is offered a chair in the court. And when this lion of a brother is married, the sister's joy knows no bounds.

As you ride the bridegroom's horse

A pair of brothers ride with you.

Ride, Oh darling of the mother!

As you splice the ber tree

Your mother distributes sweets.

Ride, Oh darling of the mother!

As you go around the fiery ring

I stand by you and sing.

Ride, Oh darling of the mother!

As you sit in the basket,

Your father showers silver coins.

Ride, Oh darling of the mother!

As you bring home the bride,

Your sister is wrapped in joy.

Ride, Oh darling of the mother!

Couplet after couplet is thus linked to the chain and the song lengthens out.

Most folksongs of the Panjab are loosely knit. There is always room for addition of fresh verses. With the passage of time the more beautiful lines are retained and the less beautiful are discarded and forgotten.There is a slender link connecting these verses with one another. And this keeps most of the folksongs up-to-date, so that they reflect the changing times with surprising authenticity.

That men with wives win battles,

Where it is written, Oh Firinghi, tell me.

Don't you go to the front,

Your bad luck will also go with you.

Nine daughters shall I bear

To set at nought

Your earnings in the Chinese war.

Enjoining us to wear Khaddar

Gandhi himself has gone to jail.

Being on the only open frontier of Indian by land, the Panjab has for centuries witnessed the influx of many intruders who left their impact on its culture. The folklore of the Panjab is therefore rich and varied. So much so, that almost every district has its own peculiar folktales and folk romances.

The partition of the Punjab and the subsequent exchange of populations gave a rude shock to pattern of life of its people. Muslims on the Indian side of the Panjab were uprooted, and so were the Hindus and Sikhs on the Pakistan side. For a long time the people were unsettled. But when they decided to rehabilitate themselves, the entire map of the Panjab came to be redrawn. The Panjabis had to grow more food, they had to dig more canals, build new schools, harness rivers and produce power. The people were again up and doing and this new contact with the modern means of production changed their entire outlook. A new confidence was engendered. But even then while driving a bulldozer or plying a tractor, whenever a Panjabi sneezes or yawns, he must utter the name of God mechanically. Sometimes, it is loud and sometimes almost lost in an undertone, though the belief that when one yawns or sneezes, evil spirits leave one's body, is now completely forgotten.

The Sun, according to Panjab folklore, drives a chariot with eight horses. At one time in Multan (Pakistan), it had to descend to the earth to roast fish for Shams Tabrez . Since then, it is believed, Multan is hot. There are several theories about the spots in the Moon. The Gautam-Ahalya episode does not bear repetition but it will perhaps be of interest to know that a place named Gondar is said to be the scene where this drama was enacted. The Moon is known as Oshadhipati in Panjabi folklore. It is believed that a number of ailments are cured by witnessing the reflection of the Moon in oil or ghee. During the rainy season when the river is in spate, its fury is believed to subside if a coconut and a rupee are cast into it.  The offer must, however, be made by a respectable old man. The earth is Mother. While milking a newly-bought cow or buffalo, the first few streaks of milk are poured on the ground. Some even throw a part of the medicine on the earth before taking it. A dying man is removed to the ground, so that he may have the last touch of Mother Earth.

There is a great deal of folklore about wells in the Punjab. Some wells are held to be auspicious. After going round such a well seven times, if a childless woman bathes in its water, it is believed that she would bear a child. Peeping into seven different wells cures melancholia. The Himalayas are considered sacred. Gazing at the Himachal ranges from certain places is believed to be as holy as a bath in the Ganges. If one can put a knot in one's hair while a star is shooting, one's heart's desire is said to be fulfilled. During heavy rains and storms, evil spirits are supposed to be abroad. That is why old trees are uprooted and high minarets are damaged. But if Pheru, a disciple of Sakhi Sarwar, is remembered during the storm, no harm is believed to come to one. In order to bring about rains in the dry season, a number of superstitious practices are current in the Panjab. Sweets are distributed at the graves and samadhis  of well-known saints. Water buckets are thrown on old men and women, the belief being that the more they protest, the heavier it would rain. Similarly, earthen pots filled with rubbish are broken in the old folks' courtyards to provoke them to abuse. All cooked food is considered polluted after a solar or lunar eclipse and is distributed amongest the poor. The earthenware in the house are discarded and broken but not the metal pots. Sindhoor  marks are put on head and horn of pregnant cows and buffaloes. Pregnant women have to take care of the pose in which they sit  during eclipse.

Everywhere in the world, people have indulged in superstitious practices at one stage of their civilisation or another. At times, superstitions are found to be not totally meaningless; they have an underlying scientific truth. In the villages of the Panjab if the curd goes sour, the milk pots are worshipped by burning incense. This, perhaps, helps in disinfecting the pots. Children suffering from marasmus are taken to yogis and faqirs who would inscribe something  on a copper coin and enjoin the devotees to tie it around the neck of the suffering child. It has now been found that more than mantras, it is perhaps the effect of copper on the skin that helps cure the patient.

While eating together if one has finished early, it is considered bad manners to get up before the others. This etiquette has roots in the belief that the shadow of one who has finished eating should not fall on those who are still eating.

There is a lot of folklore in the Punjab connected with shadow and reflection. It is believed that when the shadow is longest, one's spiritual faculties are most effective. That is why prayers are held in the morning and in the evening. The Muslims believe that the Prophet had no shadow. The Hindus also distinguish between the earthly and the godly by the presence or absence of the shadow. A shadow is considered to be as potent as the person whose shadow it is. Injuring a shadow is believed to injure the person casting the shadow. When a dead body is on the funeral pyre, no shadow must fall on it. Children are not allowed to play with a shadow. A widow's shadow may not fall on a bride, especially immediately after the bride has taken her bath. A pregnant woman's shadow blind the snake. The Hindu temples usually don't have windows or ventilators or skylights. This is to protect the images from the shadow of evil spirits. The shadow of a dog or of a person suffering from an infectious disease should not fall on eatables. The place where an enemy's shadow falls is dug up and a lemon, bonepieces, nail clippings and rice are buried there. The enemy is supposed to suffer from severe stomach ache and even die if the buried stuff is not discovered, dug out and destroyed.   

Jaundice is believed to be cured if the patient sees the reflection of the Sun or the Moon in a pot full of oil or ghee. Meeting a barber on the way is considered a bad omen but seeing one's own reflection in the barber's looking-glass is supposed to undo the evil effect. Children suffering from sore eyes are not permitted to look into a mirror. It is believed that whosoever would look into the looking-glass later would also suffer from sore eyes. Similarly, if a woman who has gone astray anoints her face with oil and looks into a mirror in which a virtuous woman has looked, she regains her lost virtue. A  person bitten by a dog suffering from rabies may not go near water for if he sees his reflection in the water, his malady will aggravate.

There is an interesting fund of folktales and folk romances in the Panjab with vivid glimpses of the people's like from time immemorial. They tell us about their customs and their traditions and their beliefs. They vary from the theories about the origin of man to humorous and witty anecdotes typical  of the uninhibited new Panjabi peasant. But love and adventure continue to be their main themes.

Folk romances have always had a place of pride in  man's literary heritage. The love-story of Yusaf Zuleikha figures in the Holy Quran. It is essentially the same episode that we have in the Biblical narrative of the sons of Jacob related in Genesis 39. The Buddhists have their own version of the story in Kunala, the youthful prince of Emperor Asoka and Tishyarakshita, the King's scheming wife. The oldest version of the romance, however, is the Egyptian folktale of the two brothers Anpu and Bata and former's unnamed wife.

Heer-Ranjha and other pairs of folk lovers have been commended in the Sikh scriptures. The Sufis believe that it is physical love which, at times, shows the way to spiritual love. Guru Balnath is said to have prostrated before the seat where Ranjha sat before he left to meet Heer. The mausoleum of Heer is a place of pilgrimage for both the devotee and the lover. In our own time, the devotion with which the people of Lahore perpetuated the memory of Buta Singh shows how true love triumphs over political enmity and hatred.

The Panjabis have been called a spirit-born people. Living on the most vulnerable border of the country, they have had more than their normal share of adventure. For centuries, it has been their lot to bear the onslaughts  of foreign invaders. And they never surrendered as such to them. It was always a mutual give-and-take.

We find that apart from the indigenous love-tales, we have a good number of borrowed romances from our neighbours. Laila-Majnun, Shirin-Farhad, Yusaf-Zuleikha and Shah-Behram belong to West Asia. Nala-Damayanti, Roopmati-Baz Bahadur, Bhartharihari belong to Central India, Sami-Dhola to Rajasthan and Phulmo-Ranjhu to Himachal Pradesh. Yet they have been merged into the mainstream of Punjabi folklore. Roopmati is as heroic and as tragic a character as Heer Syal. And the true romance of Buta Singh has shown that love and even supreme sacrifice are not the values of days gone by, that we do have Heers and Ranjhas in this age too.

Unless it is designed to be a fantasy like the one we have in Shah-Behram, the folk romances tell the stories of lovers who actually, lived and suffered in their pursuit of true love. The poet gives the story a turn here and a turn there, according to his own fancy. Damodar says, he saw with his own eyes the love-drama of Heer-Ranjha enacted in his life time. Damodar, a Hindu, fancied Ranjha as a flute-player, in the image of Krishna the divine lover. In the tradition of Hindu classics, the story of Heer, according to Damodar, is a comedy; Heer and Ranjha are united in the end and they leave on  a pilgrimage to Mecca. Warris Shah was a Shia Muslim; the story of Heer told by him is a tragedy. Heer is poisoned by her parents treacherously and Ranjha dies of the shock. Heer-Ranjha, Sohni-Mahiwal and Mirza-Saheban, all three leading pairs of lovers of the Panjab , lived on the banks of the river Chenab, known as Jhanan in Panjab. It is maintained that it is a charmed river; people drinking its water lose their heart to lover.

The land of the five rivers was partitioned in 1947. Populations were exchanged. Its waters were divided, its assets were shared. But one thing which escaped divisions is the folklore of the people of the Panjab . Even today a visit to the graves of Muslims saints in Indian Panjab is believed to heal the sufferings of the Hindus and the Sikhs. And in the Pakistan part of the Punjab, Muslim women sing folksongs in which a Panjabi maiden wishes for a bridegroom as beautiful as Krishna.

Why satnd you under the sandalwood tree, my daughter?

I wait for you, Oh father.

It's time to look for a groom.

What sort of a groom would  you have, my daughter?

One like the moon among the stars

And Krishna among the lunars, Oh father!

Panjab, the land of five rivers, has been divided and subdivided. The division of the province in 1947 was cruel; no less callous was the one that followed later in 1966 to carve out a puny Panjabi-speaking state after the narrow designs of its authors. Not that such incisions had not been known earlier, but the trend of late has unfortunately been towards disintegration and dismemberment alone.

However, the more the land and the people have been divided, the more they have clung to their common heritage - their folklore, folksongs and folk romances. The tender concern for the Panjabi language witnessed in West Panjab today is a heart-warning phenomenon. Such a thing could not have been imagined a few years ago with the obsession with Urdu of the majority community in the undivided Panjab.

The reputed Rupa & Co. resurrecting Sir Richard Temple's monumental work The Legends of the Panjab containing folk tales such as Raja Rasalu and Sakhi Sarwar, Dhanna Bhagat and Gugga Peer will, I am sure, be welcomed by Panjabis both in East Panjab and West Panjab which made a heart-warning plural society the other day.


THE LEGENDS OF THE PANJAB (Volune One) is a book about the folktales and folklore, the heroes and heroines of the Panjab in the times gone by. Often told in the form of poems and ballads by the muses of yore, the legends describe the life, loves, adventures and heroics of its folk heroes and heroines like Raja Rasalu. Dhanna Bhagat, Guru Gugga, Raja Mahi Parkash, Syama, Madana, Safidon, Lal Beg and Princesses Adhik Anup Dai, Niwal Dai and Sila Dai. The legends of Sakhi Sarwar and Dani Jatti, the marriage of Ghazi Salar, the song of Negi Bahadur and the ballads of Isa Baniya and Isa Bapari are also included.

The book brings out the true flavour  of Panjabi poetry through renditions of many of the original Panjabi poems in the Roman script.


Table of Contents of 'The Legends of The Panjab Vol. - I' By K S Duggal and RC Temple



  Introduction vii
  Preface xxiii
1. The Adventures of Raja Rasalu 1
2. Sakhi Sarwar and Dani Jatti 84
3. Dhanna, The Bhagat 106
4. Three Fragments About Sarwar 118
5. The Marriage of Ghazi Salar 127
6. The Legend of Guru Gugga 158
7. The Ballad of Isa Baniya 271
8. The Ballad of Isa Bapari 278
9. Princess Adhik Anup Dai 289
10. The Legend of Sila Dai 313
11. The Story of Raja Mahi Parkash of Sarmor 467
12. The Story of Syama, Lord of Sohini 487
13. The Song of Negi Bahadur 513
14. Madana the Brave, Lord of Chaura 519
15. The Legend of Safidon 532
16. Princess Niwal Dai 538
17. The Genealogies of Lal Beg 665


Introduction to the Book 'The Legends of The Panjab Vol. - II' By K S Duggal and RC Temple

THE LEGENDS OF THE PANJAB (Volune Two) is a book about the folktales and folklore, the heroes and heroines of the Panjab in the times gone by. Often told in the form of poems and ballads by the muses of yore, the legends describe the life, loves, adventures and heroics of its folk heroes and heroines like Raja Gopi Chand, Raja Chandarbhan and Rani Chand Karan, Chuhar Singh, Sansar Chand and Fateh Parkash, Raja Jagat Singh of Nurpur, Abdul-Qadir Jilani, Abdu'llah Shah, Raja Jagdeo, Raja Nal, Raja Dhol, Raja Rattan Sain of Chittaur, Puran Bhagat, Mir Chakur, Hir-Ranjha, etc.

The book brings out the true flavour  of Panjabi poetry through renditions of many of the original Panjabi poems in the Roman script.


Table of Contents of 'The Legends of The Panjab Vol. - II' By K S Duggal and RC Temple



18. The Legend of Raja Gopi Chand 1
19. The Story of Raja Chandarbhan and Rani Chand Karan 90
20. Two Songs About Namdev 114
21. Sakhi Sarwar and Jati 121
22. The Marriage of Sakhi Sarwar 136
23. The Ballad of Chuhar Singh 157
24. Sansar Chand of Kangra and Fatteh Parkash of Sarmor 171
25. Raja Jagat Singh of Nurpur 177
26. A Hymn to 'Abdu'l-Qadir Jilani 183
27. Jalali, the Blacksmith's Daughter 195
28. The Legend of 'Abdu'llah Shah of Samin 212
29. The Story of Raja Jagdeo 219
30. Raja Nal 248
31. The Legend of Raja Dhol 331
32. Raja Rattan Sain of Chittaur 414
33. Three versions of Sarwan and Farijan 432
34. Puran Bhagat 447
35. The Adventures of Mir Chakur 540
36. Isma'il Khan Grandmother 588
37. The Bracelet-Maker of Jhang 595
38. The Marriage of Hir and Ranjha 605


Author RC Temple /K.S.Duggal
Cover Hardbound
Volumes 2
Language English

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