Qissa-Kahani Banaam Dushyant Shakuntala

Dushyant and Shakuntala are the two archetypes of love. So, it appears from their story. And so it blurs the distinction between myth and reality. Shakuntala was the daughter of sage Vishwamitra and was born of Menaka, the celestial nymph. As the narrative goes, Vishwamitra who was endowed with the ability to immerse himself in deep meditation once chose to invoke his extraordinary powers of meditation. This made Indra, the King of Gods, unhappy. He feared that his overarching sway as a God might get challenged if Vishwamitra could establish the magic of his meditation rather adversely for him. To save it from happening, he appointed Menaka to distract him from his meditation.

Indra’s design worked well. Vishwamitra got deeply enamoured by Menaka and fell for her. His distraction from meditation and subsequent union with Menaka led to the birth of a baby girl whom Menaka abandoned in the jungle after her birth. Since the little girl had to be taken care of, the birds of the jungle chose to surround her and look after her. This led to her naming as Shakuntala—a word derived from the Sanskrit Sakuntas which implies being surrounded by birds. Later, the kind sage Kanva took her to his ashram and brought her up. With the passage of time, Shakuntala grew up as a paragon of beauty.

The story of how Shakuntala met Dushyant, the king of Hastinapur, is unique in its own way. Dushyant went hunting with his huge entourage in the deep jungles. He didn’t know that he would be separated from his entourage while hunting. But he actually did. Wandering around, he happened to reach the ashram of sage Kanva where he chanced to cast his eyes on Shakuntala, a beauteous being par excellence. As he saw her nursing a deer wounded by his own arrow, he felt sorry and apologised profusely to her for his act even while he could not conceal that he had already fallen under her spell. Indeed, he had come to realise what love at the first sight meant.

When Dushyant looked at Shakuntala, he could not control his patience. He proposed a Gandharva wedding with her which could be solemnised with the consent of the bride and the groom but without observing Brahminic customs and rituals. Before agreeing to his proposal, she put forward a condition that her offspring would be the heir of his kingdom. Fully swayed by her love, Dushyant accepted her condition. They tied up the nuptial knot and became husband and wife. He gave her the gift of a royal ring before leaving and promised that he would soon take her to his palace with all respect due to her.

Qissa-Kahani Banaam Dushyant Shakuntala
Vishwamitra Ashram

Shakuntala kept preoccupied all through remembering her departed husband-king Dushyant. One day the sage Durwasa came to meet sage Kanva. Preoccupied with her own thoughts, Shakuntala could not care to accord a warm welcome due to him. This angered him and he cursed her saying that Dushyant would not recognise her whenever she would meet him. Later, after enough of apologies from her companions, Durwasa yielded a little and eased the curse a bit saying that Dushyant would recognise her only when she would show him the royal ring.

Shakuntala was expecting a child soon. She could not wait any longer and left to meet Dushyant. On the way, she crossed a river and the river seduced her to take a dip. As she took a dip, the ring slipped out of her finger. She was upset and felt completely helpless at this loss. She decided to move on and reach Dushyant’s court although without a ring on her finger. As Duwasa had foretold, Dushyant refused to recognise her. Pitiably enough, Shankuntala had no way to prove who she was and why she had come. She also had no option but to return to the jungle. She returned but not to the same ashram and found a new refuge for herself much deeper in the forest. After some time, it was here that she gave birth to a boy who was named Bharat, after whom the country got to be known as Bharat Varsha.

As luck would have it, a fisherman caught a fish and gave it to his wife to cook. On cutting the fish into pieces, the wife found a royal ring in the belly of the fish. Thinking that it must be from the royalty, the fisherman went to Dushyant’s court to hand it over to him. Just as King Dushyant looked at the ring, he got immediately reminded of Shakuntala. Instantly, he set out to look for her and reached the ashram in the jungle where he had met her but she was not be found there. He continued his search deeper in the forest and was struck by what he saw. There was a young boy holding the jaws of a lion apart and counting its teeth. He approached the boy in admiration and asked him his name. “Bharat,” he said, and that he was the son of King Dushyant. The appointed hour had arrived. The forgetful but the questing king had reached his destination at last. The young boy took him to his ashram where he met Shakuntala and the two got united finally. Bharat later became Dushyant’s successor whose descendants ruled successively for long.

Qissa-Kahani Banaam Dushyant Shakuntala
Dushyant, Shakuntala and Bharat

This amazing story has been a subject of multiple representations through ages in fictional, poetical, theatrical, artistic, and several other forms. It has been translated, adapted, and reworked variously in both in and outside India especially since the eighteenth century. Most of them have gone to Kalidasa who drew upon the Mahbharata to write his immortal play in Sanskrit called Abhijnanashakuntalam. This became a classic text of India and served as a prototype for numerous works in a number of languages.

It should be interesting to note how it acquired a very respectable space for itself, especially in Persian and Urdu, apart from other languages. For limitations of space, let only the names of some of those who translated or rendered Shakuntala in one way or the other be mentioned here. While in Persian there are Hadi Hasan and Ali Asghar Hikmat, in Urdu there are Kazim Ali Jawaan and Lallulal of the College of Fort William, apart from Ghulam Ahmad ibn Ghulam Haider Izzat, Akhtar Hussain Raipuri, Begum Qudsia Zaidi, Jawahar Lal, Hafiz Mohammad Abdullah, Abul Alai, Akseer Sialkoti, Nausherwan Ji Mehraban, Pandit Narayan Prasad, Ibrahim Mahshar Ambalavi, Syed Mohammad Taqi, Inayet Singh, Jugeshwar Prasad, Betaab Barelavi, Saghar Nizami, Iqbal Verma Sehar, Mohammad Farooque, Wahshat Barelavi…The list goes on. And it shows how the story of Dushyant and Shakuntala has served as a refrain in the popular discourse of the land.

If the list of those who drew upon this text in India is too long, equally long is the list of those who relived this text in various languages during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries outside India. It enamoured a big number of writers in English, French, Dutch, Danish, Italian, Latin, Polish, Swedish, Spanish, and Hungarian who rendered it in their own languages. The first-ever English translation of Kaidasa’s classic work was done by the formidable Orientalist Sir William Jones in 1789.

In fact, Jones became the prototype for the West as Kalidasa became for the East. Notable among those are G. Forster, A. L. Chezy, Ott Boehtlingk, Richard Prischel, Alexi Putayata, N. Karamzin, Charles Wilkins, William Monier, A. H. Edgren, Arthur W. Ryder, Karl Burkhard, Carl Cappellar, S. Henzler many many more. The popularity of this text may best be guessed by referring to a research by Sten Konow who mentions that it has been translated in the German language at least thirty times. This gives us an idea about how this text travelled in different times and places and how it swayed the West in the past as it does even today.



बस बहुत हुआ अब और नहीं..

गुस्से मे आई निशा ने टेबल पर रखी फोटो उठाकर फोन लगाया..

दो रिंग्स के बाद आवाज आई-हैलो..

निशा- जी मेरी बात मोहनजी से हो रही है ..

जी ..कहिए वहां से आवाज आई ..

निशा- देखिए मिस्टर आप जिस लड़की को कल देखने आ रहे है मैं वहीं लड़की निशा बोल रही हूं आपने सुना होगा मेरी पढाई सरकारी नौकरी और घरेलू होने का… मगर एक बात शायद ना पता हो कि मैं सांवली लड़की हूं। अगर आपको भी औरो की तरह चांद जैसी लड़की से शादी की तमन्ना है तो कृपया यहां ना आए। तंग आ गई मैं ये देखा दिखाई से…

शादी जब लड़का लड़की दोनों की होती है तो फिर लड़की की नुमाइश क्यों प्लीज आप ना आए…

कहकर निशा ने फोन काट दिया..

असल में 28 पार होने को आई निशा परेशान थी इस देखा दिखाई से अबतक 17 लड़केवाले उसे देखने आए। घरेलू, पढ़ाई और सरकारी नौकरी का सुनकर तो आ आते मगर उसका रुप सांवला देखकर बताएंगे कहकर लौट जाते इससे उसके परिवार कि उम्मीदें टूटती।

मां बाबूजी अधिक दहेज देकर भी निशा की शादी को तैयार थे मगर सबकुछ तो ठीक रहता जैसे बात दिखाई की होती निशा का सांवला पन देखकर ना नुकुर हो जाती….

निशा अपने पिता और मां और छोटी बहन को अक्सर अकेले रोते देख वो भी रोती थी और आज जब मां ने बताया कल उसे लड़केवाले देखने आ रहे है तो…टेबल पर लड़के की फोटो और मोबाइल नम्बर भी है बस निशा को हरबार होती नुमाइश याद आने लगी और गुस्से मे उसने मोहन को खूब सुना दिया..

सुबह की ऑफिस निकली निशा जब शाम को घर लौटी तो पूरा परिवार खुश था और उसके आते ही उसका मुंह भी मीठा करवा दिया जब निशा ने वजह पूछी तो पता चला कल जो लड़केवाले आनेवाले थे उन्होने संदेशा भिजवाया है कि उन्हें लडकी पसंद है और वो कल नहीं बल्कि सगाई वाले दिन ही आएंगे अगर निशा की हां हो तो..

वैसे आप लड़कीवाले जब चाहे आ सकते है…हमारी और से रिश्ता पक्का…तो मुंह मीठा करना तो बनता है ना…अब तू बता तेरा क्या फैसला है निशा ने मुसकराते हां में सिर हिला दिया।

मां ने कहा- जल्दबाजी की जरूरत नहीं एकबार लड़के से मिल तो लो…

निशा- मां..मैं उनसे मिल ली… आज लंच टाइम में वो ऑफिस आए थे बहुत मिलनसार है कहनेलगे वो मुझे देखने नहीं बल्कि खुदको मुझे दिखाने आए है क्योंकि शादी लड़का लड़की दोनों की होती है तो देखा दिखाई केवल लड़की की क्यों…फिर सुबह फोन पर हुई बातें मां पिताजी को बता दी और बोली – मां उन्होने कहा उन्हें कोई दहेज नहीं बल्कि एक घरेलू लड़की चाहिए जो कि उनकी तरह अपने सास ससुर को मां बाप का आदर सम्मान दे…और बदले में मैं तुम्हारे माता पिता को कभी किसी भी मोड पर बेटे की कमी महसूस नहीं होने दूंगा..

मां मुझे जैसा जीवनसाथी चाहिए था मोहनजी बिल्कुल वैसे ही है कहते निशा शर्माकर मां के गले लग गई…


Faisal Fehmi

Whenever there was a need to stand for truth and to raise a voice against oppression, there was a poet to do so. Poetry has inspired many historic revolutions that have restored order in society. This did not, however, come easily to the poets. They had to suffer immeasurably for raising their voice but firm as they were in their commitment, they did not yield to buy their peace. 
Here is an assortment of verses that stand as best examples of resistance poetry. Read and feel the revolutionary inside you.

Asrar-ul-Haq Majaz was an important poet of the Progressive Writers’ Movement. This is how he encouraged women to be a part of revolution in his own style:

faiz-ahmad-faiz, resistance poetry

With freedom of speech as its central idea, this nazm of Faiz Ahmad Faiz is an anthem for one and all:

faiz-ahmad-faiz, resistance poetry

One of the strongest voices of Progressive Writers’ Movement, Sahir Ludhianvi has written a lot about the evils of society and raised his voice against oppression:

faiz-ahmad-faiz, resistance poetry

Habib Jalib was jailed for writing his nazm, Dastoor, which unveils the tyrannical rule of General Zia-ul-Haq:

faiz-ahmad-faiz, resistance poetry

Zafar Iqbal is one of the biggest names in the post-modern era of poetry. Here is how he calls for raising a voice:

faiz-ahmad-faiz, resistance poetry

The love-life of Mohammad Iqbal (1877-1938)

Acha hai dil ke saath rahe paasban-e aql | Lekin kabhi kabhi ise tanha bhi chhod de

Anisur Rahman

Thinking of Mohammad Iqbal is thinking of one with many distinctions to his credit. Being a poet, philosopher, barrister, academic, and political thinker with a knighthood to his credit made him special in many ways. All these distinguished identities qualified him to be widely celebrated as the “Poet of the East”, “Hakim-ul-Ummat”, and “National Poet of Pakistan”. 
Thinking of Mohammad Iqbal is also thinking of an individual who lived an uneasy life. He could be anyone’s envy for his qualities but fate did not choose him kindly for his love-life. Many who wrote on his life have invariably written about his relationship with a lady called Atia Fiazi. The accounts vary as some are too romanticised and others merely speculative.

Getting to know of her intellectual worth, Iqbal went to meet Atia in Cambridge. He was naturally drawn towards this graceful and intelligent lady. They discussed issues and grew intimate over a period of time. This led Iqbal’s biographers to draw their own conclusion about their relationship. One cannot, however, say for sure if Iqbal was only infatuated by her, or he was really in love with her. One may better suggest that the beauty of their bonding lay in its mystery, or its indefinability to be precise. 
A page from her diary may be an indicator of the nature of their relationship. She wrote that one day she called on him with friends and teachers to take him along for a picnic.

Reaching there, she found Iqbal in a state of deep meditation. It seemed as if he had been in this state for a long time. They tried to shake him up but without success. Finding no other way, Atia decided to send them all out of the room and make her own effort and bring him back to a normal state. She went physically close to him and shook him so vigorously that he came back to his senses. One may leave it at speculation if this was their bosom friendship, or romantic intimacy with each other that made it happen. 

Iqbal and Atia remained friends for long. When Iqbal returned to India after completing his education in Europe, he remained unhappy and passed through a phase of emotional crisis because of domestic issues and traditional environment around. He kept thinking of her and continued writing intimate letters. In one of his letters, he spoke uninhibitedly against his frustration with life. He mentioned that his father had put him in a marital bond at an early age which brought him much distress as he could not relate with his wife in any possible way.

Atia sent a sympathetic response to Iqbal and advised him to seek counselling from his close friends and get their help. Instead of doing this, he kept on sharing his miseries with her but without ever finding a solution. In sharing these sentiments with Atia, he was indeed showing his deep fascination for her who could no longer keep company except writing to him in sympathy. In 1911, he wrote to Atia that some of his poems during the past five years were mostly of autobiographical nature.

Finding himself helpless and unable to retain his relationship with his wife, Iqbal decided to marry a lady called Sardari Begum. Soon after their wedding, Iqbal started receiving anonymous letters about this lady which painted her in bad light. Without caring to consider these letters calmly, he impulsively chose to divorce her and continue with his suffering. 

A little later, Iqbal received a proposal regarding his marriage with Mukhtar Begum of Ludhiana. Since his sister had praised her no end, Iqbal agreed to marry her even without meeting her. When the bride came to Lahore and Iqbal saw her, he was utterly flabbergasted. This lady was not as beautiful as she was descrobed to be by his sister. Iqbal was much too disappointed but he could not do anything except suffering the onslaughts of his fate. 
Iqbal was yet to recover from this shock when he received a letter from his second wife, Sardari Begum. She had written that she was still hoping that he would someday take him again as his wife. She also wrote that if he did not do so, she would remain unmarried all her life. She had wondered how could he take rumours about her so as truth and take an impulsive decision even while being such a remarkable poet and intellectual. 

Going through her letter, Iqbal felt guilty and ashamed of himself. He felt all the more remorseful when he came to know that those libellous letters were written by a local lawyer who wanted his son to be married to Sardari Begum. Iqbal spoke with his well-wishers who said that they knew Sardari Begum’s family quite well and that she was a sensible lady of sound character. Iqbal realised that he had been too much in a hurry, too sentimental, and too unreasonable to have divorced her and married thrice without due consideration.

Realising that he was utterly wrong and disrespectful to Sardari begum, he wanted to get her back in his life but did not know how to do that as he had already divorced her. He sought advice from those with knowledge of sharia laws. He was told that as per the provisions of halala, if a man divorces his wife and wants to re-marry the same lady at a later date, he cannot do so unless the divorced wife enters into a marital and physical relationship with another man and then gets a divorce from him. This perturbed Iqbal. 

He then approached another religious scholar who advised that the condition of halalawas not applicable to his case as he had not spent a night of union with Sardari Bagum. Being totally shaken, Iqbal thought to recompense for his doing and chose to enter into yet another nikah with her. This was Sardari Begum’s second and Iqbal fourth nikah.

Interestingly enough, it was at this point that his first wife Kariman Bibi came to Lahore with her two sons to live with him which caused him further distress. This was a very traumatic phase in Iqbal’s life. It so happened one day that Kariman Bibi’s mother dropped in and blamed Iqbal for his misdemeanour. In anger, she took her daughter and her children back with her. 

It appears that Iqbal chose to strike peace at last. He remained satisfied in his relationship with Sardari Begum. On the other hand, Sardari Begum being a level-headed lady could sense well that Iqbal was a very successful philosopher and poet but he was not such a responsible husband. This was rather dismaying for her. 

Iqbal lived a successful life as a philosopher and poet but not so much as a family man. Indeed, poets and intellectuals live and die differently. Iqbal was one of them.


हैं और भी दुनिया में सुख़नवर बहुत अच्छे___क़ाएम चाँदपुरी

मोहम्मद क़यामुद्दीन ‘क़ाएम’ चाँदपुरी अठारहवीं सदी के मुम्ताज़ शाइ’रों में शामिल हैं। ‘क़ाएम’ चाँदपुरी की पैदाइश तक़रीबन 1725 में क़स्बा चाँदपुर, ज़िला बिजनौर के क़रीब ‘महदूद’ नाम के एक गाँव में हुई थी। लेकिन वो बचपन से दिल्ली में आ रहे और 1755 तक शाही मुलाज़मत के सिलसिले से दिल्ली में ही रहे। दिल्ली की तबाही और हालात की ना-साज़गारी से बद-दिल हो कर दिल्ली से टांडा पहुँचे। जब यहाँ के हालात भी अबतर हो गए तो उन्हें मजबूरन टांडा भी छोड़ना पड़ा। इस तरह उ’म्र भर रोज़गार की तलाश में हैरान-ओ-परेशान वो एक शहर से दूसरे शहर में फिरते रहे। आख़िर 1780 में रामपुर चले गए, जहाँ 1794 में वफ़ात पाई।

क़ाएम ने अपने कलाम पर सब से पहले शाह हिदायत से इस्लाह ली। उसके बाद ख़्वाजा मीर ‘दर्द’ और फिर मोहम्मद रफ़ीअ’ ‘सौदा’ के शागिर्द हुए। शेर ओ शाइरी के फ़न में इतने माहिर हो गए कि ‘मीर’, ‘मिर्ज़ा’ और ‘दर्द’ के बा’द उस ज़माने के बड़े शाइरों में उनका नाम लिया जाने लगा। ब-क़ौल मोहम्मद हुसैन आज़ाद “उनका दीवान हर्गिज़ ‘मीर’-ओ-‘मिर्ज़ा’ के दीवान से नीचे नहीं रख सकते।”

टूटा जो का’बा कौन सी ये जा-ए-ग़म है शेख़
कुछ क़स्र-ए-दिल नहीं कि बनाया न जाएगा

ग़ैर से मिलना तुम्हारा सुन के गो हम चुप रहे
पर सुना होगा कि तुम को इक जहाँ ने क्या कहा

दर्द-ए-दिल कुछ कहा नहीं जाता
आह चुप भी रहा नहीं जाता

किस बात पर तिरी मैं करूँ ए’तिबार हाए
इक़रार यक तरफ़ है तो इन्कार यक तरफ़

मय की तौबा को तो मुद्दत हुई ‘क़ाएम’ लेकिन
बे-तलब अब भी जो मिल जाए तो इन्कार नहीं

न जाने कौन सी साअ’त चमन से बिछड़े थे
कि आँख भर के न फिर सू-ए-गुल्सिताँ देखा

चाहें हैं ये हम भी कि रहे पाक मोहब्बत
पर जिस में ये दूरी हो वो क्या ख़ाक मोहब्बत

ज़ालिम तू मेरी सादा-दिली पर तो रह्म कर
रूठा था तुझ से आप ही और आप मन गया


Qissa Kahaani Banaam Kamroop and Kalakaam

Anisur Rahman

The love story of prince Kamroop and princess Kalakaam, being one of the most popular stories of India, has been narrated variously in various languages of the world. There are several retellings available in French, German and English, apart from those in Indian languages. It is quite remarkable that in Persian and Urdu alone there are as many as thirteen poetical renditions of this story in each of the two languages. The most popular rendition of this story in Urdu came from Tehsinuddin in 1757.

qissa kahani urdu blog

Once upon a time there lived a king called Rajpatt in Udaipur. He had no heirs. He thought that sages and dervishes would find him a solution. So, he spread out a lavish treat for them. In that assembly of spiritual men, a particular dervish offered him a fruit called shriphal for his queen called Sundar Roop and said that if she consumed this fruit, she would be a mother in due course. As expected, the queen got pregnant after consuming the said fruit. Interestingly, six minsters of the king who did not have their heirs found it useful for their wives also. So, when their wives consumed this fruit, they too got pregnant. In due course of time, all of them were blessed with sons. 

Following the grand birth celebrations, King Rajpatt and Queen Sundar Roop chose the name of Kamroop for their prince. The pundits examined his horoscope and predicted that his stars were not favourable in the adolescent period of his life and that he was destined to suffer before achieving his peace and happiness. This was a disturbing prediction. The king decided that prince Kamroop would be kept in a grand palace and he would be constantly accompanied by the six sons of the minsters who too were born as a result of their mothers consuming that fruit. All possible arrangements were made to bring them up with all care and comfort. In spite of this, the destined had to happen and it happened when the time came.

When prince Kamroop reached the age of twelve, he had a romantic dream where he met a damsel of the exceptional kind. Interestingly, she was none else but princess Kalakaam herself.

As luck would have it, princess Kalakaam also had a similar dream where she too happened to meet an exceptionally charismatic young man. Interestingly again, this prince was none else but prince Kamroop himself. 
When prince Kamroop woke up, he found himself totally preoccupied with the thoughts of princess Kalakaam. She became his obsession in no time. Prince Kamroop spent his nights without sleep and became the picture of a forlorn lover.

night day, shayari urdu

When king Rajpatt came to know of his condition through the son of a minister, he found himself in a tizzy. A number of yogis, fakirs and spiritualists from far off places were invited to help find the whereabouts of the young princess who had driven prince Kamroop to such a state. When none could succeed, a Brahmin who looked uniquely endowed with great spiritual powers came forward to help. He meditated for a while and finally came up with princess Kalakaam’s address.

Interestingly, this Brahmin was none else but the one sent surreptitiously from Serendip by the princess herself to make things easier for the meeting of the two craving souls. The path was laid out clearly now. Prince Kamroop set out with all his six companions for Serendip to meet princess Kalakaam.
The journey was long and arduous. There were many hazards waiting on the way. A terrible storm raged in the middle of the journey which wrecked their ship. The companions lost touch with each other.

Prince Kamroop could reach a coastal area on a raft with great difficulty. He spent his night in a jungle which happened to be in the territory of Triya Raj Rani Rawata. When Rawata saw this young and handsome prince as a godsend gift on her land, she fell in love with him at the very first sight. Prince Kamroop had become prey to her magical spell. He got so deeply enchanted by her that he started living with her and almost forgot princess Kalakaam. When things exceeded limits, princess Kalakaam appeared in her dream one night and rebuked him for being so fickle in love.

Reprimanded in time, prince Kamroop thought of getting rid of Rawata as early as possible. One day, he escaped from her clutches but the story was not yet over. There was yet another trap waiting for him. This time, he became a victim of a fairy’s seductive manners. Since this fairy was loved by a demon, the demon felt extremely jealous of prince Kamroop and threw him into the sea to get rid of him. He struggled against the raging waves and was ultimately swayed to the bank of Serendip which was his ultimate destination. 

Serendip was actually an island inhabited by swindlers and deceivers who behaved cruelly with prince Kamroop. They sat on his back and flogged him to carry them from one place to another. As prince Kamroop had to seek his release by any means, he thought of an ingenious plan. He extracted the juice of grapes and made strong wine for them.

When those swindlers and deceivers consumed this wine, they lost their consciousness. This was the right time for prince Kamroop, and all others who were enslaved, to kill them and escape but there was a problem still left to be solved. One of his companions, Mitrchand, had been enslaved by a monster and he was not in a position to move out.

Luckily, however, this giant had become a sympathiser of Mirchand with the passage of time and had promised to help him with his magical lock of hairs whenever he was in crisis. When prince Kamroop and Mitrchand were talking to each other, another companion appeared there. He had been turned into a parrot and had ultimately become a human being once the thread from its feet was untied. He too had been a victim of a fairy from whose clutches he had escaped.

During the same time, that Brahmin also appeared who had given the fruit of shriphal that had enabled the mothers to bear their offspring. This Brahmin gifted them another gift of a magical stone that could successfully take them through all adversities. 

A few days later, other companions of the prince also appeared after suffering their shares of misery. One of them was a carver and designer of buildings and the other one a physician. All of them now moved towards Serendip. On reaching there, both the designer and the physician joined king Kaamraj’s service who was the father of princess Kalakaam.

The designer made designs for the king’s palace and the physician treated the princess Kalaakam to cure her of her suffering. He told the king that the princess had been bit by love-bug and was suffering in separation. The king asked the designer to paint the images of prince Kamroop at different places in the palace which could assuage her. He followed the command with sincerity. 

King Kamraaj was, however, constantly preoccupied with the idea of seeing princess Kalakaam happy. So, he took the ultimate decision of organising a swayemver where princess Kalakaam could select her bride in a traditional manner by putting a garland of pearls around the neck of the most appropriate suitor.

This was the time for prince Kamroop to make his move. He sent one of his companions to the princess Kalakaam in the form of a parrot who told her that prince Kamroop would appear at the swayemver in the guise of a faqeer. Now, princess Kalakaam knew very well what she was supposed to do. When the appointed hour came, she put the garland of pearls around the neck of the faqeer instead of a king or a noble. This act of princess Kalakaam turned king Kaamraj furious. 

The time had come now for prince Kamroop to unravel the mystery. So, with the help of the giant’s gift of the lock of hair and the Brahmin’s gift of the magical stone, prince Kamroop could materialise all wealth and worldly possessions that suited the pride of a prince. When king Kamraaj came to know that the person who was chosen by princess Kalakaam was not a faqeer but a prince, he was overjoyed. He accepted him as princess Kalakaam’s bride. 

The time had come now for prince Kamroop to go back and reunite with his parents along with his wife. After traversing a long distance, when both of them reached king Rajpatt’s kingdom, they were accorded a royal reception. This is how a great story of love, filled with many tests and tribulations, came to a happy end.

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Tooti Naama

Where birds tell a tale and make a difference

Anisur Rahman

Traced back to a canonical Sanskrit source—Saptashati—the stories of a parrot and a myna have reached larger sections of readers through Persian, Hindi, Gujarati, Marathi, Rajasthani, Bangla, and Urdu languages in India and English, French, German, and Czech languages elsewhere. There are at least six retellings available in Persian and eight in Urdu. The one told in Urdu by Ghawwasi, a prominent poet supposed to be born during the reign of emperor Ibrahim Qutub Shah of Deccan, is much more valued than others. 

Once upon a time, there lived a merchant. He had built a palace on the shore of a sea and had such worldly possessions which even the kings did not have. This merchant of great power and pelf was not, however, blessed with an heir to take charge of his huge domain after him. He prayed and prayed till his keen prayers were accepted and he was blessed with a handsome boy. The new-born was treated with great care and given all the comforts of life. As he grew up with time and attained his youth, the father thought of bringing a bride for him. He found an exceedingly beautiful girl and put both of them in a nuptial bond. 

One day, when this young man happened to pass through a marketplace, he saw an extremely charming parrot. The parrot was gifted with the power to foretell what lay in store for people and places and it did so with his magical tongue that mesmerised all. He bought this parrot and to his great surprise and pleasure found soon enough that one of its predictions came true in no time. He thought of bringing a partner for the parrot and bought a myna. The two gifted birds taught him good lessons of life together and kept him happy.

Once, the young man had to leave home and set out for a far off land to sell his merchandise. While leaving home, he left both the birds in the care and custody of his young wife. His business took time to finish and return home. In the meantime, the young wife, deprived of male companionship, got deeply fascinated by another young man who passed by her palace. She craved to meet him and enjoy his companionship in secrecy. For this, she found a scheming old lady to arrange their meeting. Before she ventured to meet the man, she sought the advice of the myna. The myna knew her unholy intentions well enough and warned her against such an immoral act. Being very unhappy over what the myna advised her, she chose to tear its feathers mercilessly and kill it. 

Following this, the young wife sought advice from the parrot. The parrot had seen what had happened to the myna. It thought of an ingenious method to check her from falling into an immoral act. It chose not to stop her from doing what she wished to do but told her that she should not divulge her meeting with that young man to anyone. It also said that if she did not do so, she would meet the same end as a particular deceitful rani had met once.

The young wife of the merchant got curious to know the story of that rani. According to a pre-conceived scheme, the parrot started to tell the first story of that rani but it was too long to be finished in one night. In fact, the parrot had planned to spread the telling of forty-five stories of the rani’s deceit over nineteen nights. Since each story was spread over long hours, it did not give the young wife the opportunity to move out and meet her new-found love in the darkness of the night. It so happened that the telling of the last story got over in the later hours of the night and the young merchant returned home at the break of the day. On his arrival, he asked the parrot with all affection about how things were at home during his absence.

The parrot told him that it would tell him all but only on the condition that it would be released after that. The young merchant agreed to the parrot’s condition. So, when the parrot told what his young wife had planned to do, the young merchant was greatly shocked and saddened. True to his word, he released the parrot but unable to bear the deceitful behaviour of his wife, he killed her. Since life did not have any meaning for him any further, he gave away all his riches in alms to the needy and took sanyas forever.

There is a variation in the Sanskrit version of this tale, especially regarding its end. It says that the wife herself told her husband that it was the wisdom of the parrot that saved her from falling prey to her vile desire. Impressed by her truthfulness, her husband forgave her and accepted her with a large heart. Both of them lived happily ever after. In appreciation of its wisdom and for saving the honour of the family, the parrot was released.