THEME 27 – Mahapati
Selected extracts from Return of the Aryans by Bhagwan S. Gidwani, published by Penguin Books, India, ISBN 0-14- 024053 – 5
(Main Reference: Main Reference: page 611 to 615 from Return of the Aryans)
“Everywhere, Gangapati XIII heard the same cry, extolling Sindhu Putra as Mahapati (Great Protector). It was a new title, but why should they not create a distinct title of their own, when the people of Sindhu call him, ‘Mahakarta’! Was he not the one who protected the land of Ganga by providing a continuity of succession. Was he not their very own then!”
“The freed slaves wanted to distance themselves from the people who had enslaved them. They began calling themselves, ‘Sindhu Putra’s slaves.’ For the first time, Sindhu Putra shouted, ‘Slaves you are not and never shall be!’ They then called themselves ‘Hindus’ and they learnt that a Hindu could never be a slave” (From Devdharan’s Songs on Sindhu Putra, around 5000 BCE)
“The songs of Rishi Newar are quite clear : ‘There are no slaves here; and there never were; all men, women, beasts and birds and all living beings and all living things are gods here; only we thirteen are no gods, but guardians of the gate; and we shall see that all who approach come to honour and worship and be honoured and worshipped in turn, or for ever they remain out and away.'”
“No army would ever invite the wrath of Rishi Newar of whom it was said, If ever he cursed, mountains would fall and rivers rise, and the seed of him who is cursed by him shall wither into waste.” (From Mayawati’s Songs of Sadhu Newar of Kurukshetra forest who went to Nepal with twelve disciples and became the undisputed spiritual and temporal ruler of Nepal).
When Gangapati XIII became aware of his wife’s pregnancy, he vowed to himself, ‘I shall release all my slaves if a son is born.’ Later, as the pregnancy progressed, he said, ‘At least, half the slaves.’ Again he said, ‘Many.’ In her eighth month, he said, ‘Some.’ As his wife went into labour, he said, ‘All, yes all.’
When his bouncing son was born, how could he remember, among so many vows, what he had promised! But, in gratitude, he went to Sindhu Putra. Thousands followed him. Many more joined him on the way.
Everywhere, Gangapati XIII heard the same cry, extolling Sindhu Putra as Mahapati (Great Protector). It was a new title, but why should they not create a distinct title of their own, when the people of Sindhu call him, ‘Mahakarta’! Was he not the one who protected the land of Ganga by providing a continuity of succession. Was he not their very own then!
Gangapati XIII bowed to Sindhu Putra. He even called him ‘Mahakarta Mahapati’, combining both titles of Sindhu and Ganga. Sindhu Putra asked for nothing and Gangapati felt relieved.
When Gangapati returned home all he wanted was to look at the magic and wonder of his infant son, but his wife asked him, ‘Did you deny him?’ ‘No,’ he said, ‘I called him “Mahapati,” and all shall so address him, always.’
Again, she asked, ‘But did you deny him?’ ‘No,’ he replied, ‘he asked for nothing.’ And she said, ‘Then you did deny him!’ and her eyes went to her infant.
Miserably, Gangapati XIII said, ‘I shall release some slaves.’ He went out to order the release of nine hundred slaves, held in an eastern land.
He returned to find his wife still plunged in melancholy. But then, childbirth at that age could be tiring — he thought.
It was some forty days later that fear set into Gangapati’s heart. Even in his sleep, the infant used to smile and it charmed and captivated the parents. Suddenly, Gangapatni saw that smile turn into a grimace and then a twitch. The next day, the infant was unable to breastfeed and had fever. Vaids came. It was not serious, they said. But the fever continued. The infant’s tiny body shivered.
In Gangapatni’s eyes, there was an icy dread as she gazed at her infant; a beseeching look, as she spoke to the Vaids; but clear accusation when she glanced at her husband.
Suddenly, Gangapati XIII said, ‘I shall go to Sindhu Putra. I shall promise that I will release all the slaves if he cures my son.’
She turned coldly on him, ‘Do not bargain with a god! Release your slaves! Then go near him!’
She was really asking for the impossible. Dozens of messengers had to be sent to release all the slaves held faraway from the land of Ganga, in so many scattered areas of the eastern tribe and First Tribe. Besides, so many arrangements had to be made. But he swore on the life of his infant that he would release them all.
He rushed to Sindhu Putra who had gone far into the forest — a half-day’s journey. He found him. ‘Pray for my son,’ he begged and Sindhu Putra said, ‘We shall pray together.’ Gangapati returned home in the early hours of the morning.
Coincidence, chance, fate, destiny — call it what you will. Some said there never was any danger and it was just something that all infants went through. Others said, the change of medicine prescribed by Vaid Raj had worked wonders. The child was sleeping, no longer fitfully, and the fever was gone.
Gangapatni and Gangapati thanked Vaid Raj profusely. But in their hearts they knew it was the miracle of god, not of man or medicine.
All the slaves of Ganga, held everywhere, were freed. With hundreds to help him, they were placed in charge of Sindhu Putra. So much he asked for — to feed, clothe and transport them, to repair their broken bodies and spirits and even to send some to their homelands! Nothing was denied him.
The freed slaves wanted to distance themselves from the people who had enslaved them. They began calling themselves, ‘Sindhu Putra’s slaves.’ For the first time, Sindhu Putra shouted, ‘Slaves you are not and never shall be!’
They called themselves ‘Hindus’ and they learnt that a Hindu could never be a slave.
Leisurely, then, Yadodhra arrived, travelling by slow stages. He spoke with the magnificence of a sage. He told them of the era of Sanathana and Sanathana Dharma. He declared that every Hindu in the land of Sindhu was a Sanathani Hindu. He spoke of the glorious heritage of ‘togetherness’, ‘all-inclusiveness’ of the Sindhu and Ganga, with ‘pride in my heart and yours.’ Some poets called Yadodhra a ‘modern’, in the sense that where his knowledge of ithihasa deserted him, the bold stroke of his imagination replaced it.
With a dramatic gesture, Yadodhra escorted Sindhu Putra to bless Gangapati XIV as the ‘first Sanathani Hindu who was always a Sanathani Hindu for all generations.’
It did not take too long — perhaps a few years, or maybe a decade or two — for everyone in the land of Ganga to be called a Sanathani Hindu, and later, simply a Hindu. Even Sindhu Putra had said, ‘Call yourself a Hindu by all means, if it pleases you; there are no compulsions. The eternal guarantee of God’s love is with you, whatever you call yourself. And remember, God’s gracious purpose includes all and in his kingdom there is no higher or lower; and the passion for perfection burns equally in all, for there is only one class as there is only one God, who is all-loving and universal.’
Meanwhile Sindhu Putra pleaded with the Chiefs of the eastern tribes and First Tribe to release their slaves. Each offered to free five hundred slaves. He felt disappointed. What he possibly failed to realize was that the Chiefs had no centralized command like Gangapati, who could with one stroke release all his slaves. These Chiefs had many smaller chiefs, warlords, priests and prominent and leading figures who held their own slaves. Why would the Chief invite a rebellion by making such an impossible demand!
But what a god cannot do, his lieutenants certainly can. Slaves freed by the Ganga were like huge armies, in the charge of men from Jalta and Silent tribe who had followed Sindhu Putra. They moved leaving turmoil, murder and massacre in their wake. The slaves were freed but a blood bath resulted.
Did Sindhu Putra worry? Some said, no; he had already left for lands far away. But others said that he had cried, ‘I am beyond redemption.’ Some asked ‘How could a god be beyond redemption when redemption is denied to no man?’ But a few clarified that what he had said was that he was beyond redemption for 184,000 lives.
A hundred and eighty-four thousand lives! Why such an absurd figure asked many; but others replied, ‘Gods are never absurd.’ A man of learning clarified that for some it was necessary to go down the ladder of evolution and be reborn as a human, after successively passing 184,000 lives of various creatures. ‘But surely, gods are not subject to that!’ argued some. But the reply was: ‘Be it man or god — the rita (moral law of the universe) is the same; gods live and die and are replaced; like stars — some are being built anew, while others splinter into fragments.’ The argument went on until a learned man concluded that it was better to share one’s knowledge with trees in the forest than with ignorant men who refused to believe him.
Meanwhile, Sindhu Putra was already on the move — to the Daksina (South). He had with him the explorer-father and son who had been freed by the silent tribe. But the wonder of wonders was that among the multitudes freed around the land of Ganga, there were seventy-eight whose roots were in Daksina. They could hardly speak their original language, for they were born in the land of Ganga. They were third-generation slaves whose grandparents had been enslaved. They too joined Sindhu Putra. But then there were thousands who followed, not because of the lure of Daksina but to be with Sindhu Putra — many out of love and devotion, but many more also because they were too old or too afraid to join the slave armies which moved to the eastern tribes on their way to Gangasagarsangam. Gangapati XIII himself moved to the land of Sindhu, escorted by Sage Yadodhra. He called it a pilgrimage, but some say it was not without the hope that one day his son would be ruler over the united land of Ganga and Sindhu. Yadodhra could have told him that rulers were temporary, ‘that the glorious on earth return to ashes and silence, passing like the shadow of a bird, but the earth and its waters are the lasting reality, and they remain in their beauty and gentle murmur.’
But none moved as fast as the slave-armies. From the First Tribe, they moved back to the eastern tribe — and then, along wayward paths, to Gangasagarsangam and in all directions to the east and north — and poets claim, ‘it was all then the land of Hindu, with not a single slave in sight.’
They do, however, admit that it did not all happen in a single sweep; and some even speak of a hundred different directions in which the different slave-armies marched, always swelling with new recruits. Little is said of the battles they fought or the commanders who led them — though there is frequent mention of the former Chief of silent tribe and the Chief of Jalta — though it is not said which one: second Jalta , or third or fourth.
The time-frame is not certain, neither is their reach. Some poets said that for each angula (finger-length) that the slave-armies occupied, there was a yojna (miles) beyond their control. But then surely an army does not have to occupy each inch of the territory to exercise control or to have the slaves released. However, what is certain is that within a relatively short time, the slave-armies were in control of the route along Ganga to Gangasagarsangam, though battles to secure commanding positions in the lands above and beyond continued to rage.
In modern terms, it would mean that initially, they controlled large parts of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal (in India) and Bangladesh.
Later, some slave-armies branched off to strike out in different directions.
Thus the slave-armies extended themselves and went as far as — (in modern terms) Bhutan’s border with Tibet and in the east to Burma’s border with China and Thailand, not only to free slaves but also to settle them in new lands.
At what stage, and under whose command the armies moved to modern Orissa and Madhya Pradesh is not known, though the poets speak of a ‘criss-cross of seven armies from seven directions.’
However, the poet who hazarded a guess that the slave-armies were proceeding to Nepal is wrong. It was Rishi Newar of Kurukshetra forest who went to Nepal with twelve disciples. Soon Rishi Newar would be regarded as the spiritual ruler of Nepal.
The songs of Rishi Newar are quite clear : ‘There are no slaves here; and there never were; all men, women, beasts and birds and all living beings and all living things are gods here; only we thirteen are no gods, but guardians of the gate; and we shall see that all who approach come to honour and worship and be honoured and worshipped in turn, or for ever they remain out and away.’
And poets are all agreed that no armies, even if Sindhu Putra commanded them, would ever invite the wrath of Rishi Newar of whom it was said, If ever he cursed, mountains would fall and rivers rise, and the seed of him who is cursed by him shall wither into waste.’