Jhulelal

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Jhule Lal / Dariya Lal / Udeoro Lal / Lal Sai / Zinda Pir / جهوللال
Jhulelal hindu deity.jpg
Ishta Dev of Sindh
Devanagari झूलेलाल
Affiliation Varuna Deva
Abode Sea & River Sindhu
Weapon Sword
Mount Fish & Horse

Jhulelal (Sindhi/Urdu: جهوللال), (Sanskrit: झूलेलाल) or Dariyalal or Zinda Pir refers to two interwoven legends in the Sindh, in Pakistan which bring together the Hindu and the Islamic traditions of the region in popular folklore.

The name refers to the Ishta Dev (community God) of Sindhi people.[1] He lived around the 10th Century A.D.(950).

The name also refers to Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, a Sufi saint. The origin of this connection is disputed. Some theories suggest he is seen as a personification of the Hindu river god[2] while others believe that the association marks the worship of Hinduism by Muslims and vice-versa.[3] It is also held that Shahbaz Qalandar was the incarnation of Bhartṛhari[4]

Legend[edit]

See also: Cheti Chand

Turkic people from Central Asia and Persia expanded their empires eastward and conquered Sindh (and later, a large part of South Asia) many centuries after the people of Sindh typically of Hindu origin, established their cultures and norms in this geographical area. Jhulelal convinced a tyrannical Muslim ruler who issued a deadline to the resident Hindus to embrace Islam or die, Mirkshah, to treat Hindus as he would Muslims. The Hindus asked for some time to consider this, which they were granted. They took to arduous fasting on the banks of the River Sindhu (now River Indus in Pakistan), continuously praying and begging for help against forcible conversion to Islam. These 40 days of suffering before the expiration of the deadline are referred to as Chaliho ("forties"). He also impressed upon the ruler the fact that although Hindus called their God "Ishwar" and Muslims refer to God as "Allah", they are the same - one God who created the world.[5] Jhulelal is revered by Hindus who refer to him by several names including Lal Sai, Uderolal, Varun Dev, Doolhalal, Dariyalal and Zinda Pir.

Faith has established Jhulelal as the Ishta Dev (community God) of Sindhis. His Birthday "Cheti Chand" on the second tithi (day) of Chaitra is considered auspicious for Sindhis and is celebrated the world over with traditional pomp and gaiety.

The Hindu legend of Jhulelal or the River Deity has its historical or semi-historical beginnings in Sindh, a province of Pakistan. Faced with torture and forcible conversion, the Hindus turned to God Varuna, the God of the River, to come to their aid. For forty days, they underwent penance. They neither shaved nor wore new clothes, praying and fasting and singing songs in the praise of Lord Varuna. They beseeched him to deliver them from the hands of their persecutor.

On the fortieth day, a voice was heard from Heaven : "Fear not, I shall save you from the wicked Mirkshah. I shall come down as a mortal and take birth in the womb of Mata Devki in the house of Ratanchand Lohano of Nasarpur". Ratanchand Lohano was a Hindu belonging to the Lohana cast. After forty days of Chaliho, the followers of Jhulelal even today celebrate the occasion with festivity as Thanksgiving Day.

The oppressed Hindus now anxiously awaited the birth of their deliverer. After three months, the second day of Asho month, they got confirmation of the news that Mata Devki, wife of Ratanchand, has indeed conceived. The River God had incarnated himself in her womb. The Hindus of Sindh, rejoiced on hearing this news and praised the Lord.

On Cheti Chand, the second day of the new moon paksha of Chaitra, Mata Devki gave birth to a boy - a miracle hailed the child's birth - the babe opened his mouth and behold! - there flowed the Sindhu with an old man sitting cross-legged on a 'pala' fish.

To welcome the newborn 'avatar', unseasonal clouds gathered and brought down torrential rains. The child was named 'Udaichand' (Uday in Sanskrit means moon-beams). Udaichand was to be the light in the darkness. An astrologer who saw the child predicted that he would grow up to be a great warrior and his fame would outlive the child. Udaichand was also called 'Uderolal' (Udero in Sanskrit means 'one who has sprung from water'). Inhabitants of Nasarpur lovingly called the child 'Amarlal' (immortal) child. The cradle where little Udero rested began to sway to and fro on its own. It is because of this that 'Uderolal' became popularly known as 'Jhulelal' or the swinging child. Soon after the child's birth Mata Devki died. A little later Ratanchand remarried.

News of the birth of the mysterious child reached Mirkshah who once again summoned the Panchs (elders elected to control the community) and repeated his royal threat. The Hindus, now quite confident that their saviour had arrived, implored him for some more time informing him that their saviour was none other than the Water God himself. Mirkshah scoffed at the very idea of a child saving the Hindus. "Neither am I going to die nor are you people going to leave this land alive", he jeered. "I shall wait. When your saviour embraces Islam, I am sure you will also follow suit." With this remark, the haughty Mirkshah threw a challenge to his Hindu subjects.

The maulvis pressed Mirkshah to forcibly convert the people to Islam. But the very thought of the child proving more than a match for him blessed the conceited ruler. He therefore told the maulvis to wait and watch. As a token of precaution, he asked one of his ministers Ahirio, to go to Nasarpur to see things first hand. Ahirio did not want to take any chances, so he took along a rose dipped in deadly poison.

At the very first glimpse of the child, Ahirio was astonished. He had never seen a child so dazzling or more charming. He hesitated, then mustering courage offered the rose to the child. The child gave a meaningful smile while accepting the rose. He then blew away the flower with a single breath. The flower fell at Ahirio's feet. Ahirio watched stupefied as the child changed into an old man with a long beard. All of a sudden the old man turned into a lad of sixteen. And then he saw Uderolal on horseback with a blazing sword in his hand. There were row upon row of warriors behind him. A cold shiver ran down Ahirio's spine and he bowed his head in reverence. "Have mercy on me, Sindhu Lord", he prayed, "I am convinced".

On his return Ahirio narrated the miraculous happening to Mirkshah, but Mirkshah was not convinced. He hardened his heart. "How can a little baby turn into an old man?" he mocked. "It looks like you have been fooled by some simple magic." But in his heart, Mirkshah was afraid. That night he dreamt a dreadful dream. A child was sitting on his neck. The vision changed to an old man with a flowing beard. And again to a warrior with a drawn sword confronting Mirkshah on the battlefield. Next morning Mirkshah called for Ahirio and gave him orders to counter the threat posed by the child. Ahirio, however, advised Mirkshah not to rush matters.

Meanwhile, the child Uderolal grew in stature and spirit performing miracles and comforting the sick. Residents of Nasarpur were fully convinced that God had come to save them. Uderolal also received the 'Guru Mantar' of 'Alakh Niranjan' from Guru Goraknath.

To earn money for the family, Udero's stepmother would send him to the market to sell baked beans. Instead of going to the market, Uderolal would go to the banks of the Sindhu. There he would distribute half of the beans among beggars, the poor and the sadhus. The other half, he would offer to the Sindhu. He would then spend the rest of the day speaking to little children and the elderly about spiritual wealth. In the evening when it was time to go home, Udero would fish out from the river a container full of fine quality rice. This he would take home and give it to his step mother.

Growing suspicious about her step son's behaviour, the step mother one day dispatched Ratanchand to follow him. When Ratanchand witnessed the miracle, he bowed to Uderolal from a distance and accepted him as the Saviour.

Mirkshah on the other hand was being pressured by the Maulvis to bring Hindu infidels to accept Islam. They gave him their blessings, "Order the Hindus to convert or be branded as an associate of kafirs." Fearing the wrath of the clerics, Mirkshah decided to meet Uderolal face to face. He asked Ahirio to arrange for a private meeting with Udero.

Ahirio who had in the meantime become a devotee of Daryashah, went to the banks of the Indus and pleaded with the Water God to come to his rescue. To Ahirio's amazement, he saw the same old man with a white beard floating on a pala fish. Ahirio's head bowed in adoration and he understood that Uderolal, the Water God, was in fact the other form of Khwaja Khirz. Ahirio then saw Udero leap onto a horse and gallop away with a sword in one hand and a flag in the other.

Udero appeared before Mirkshah and explained to the stubborn ruler, "Whatever you see around you is the creation of God, whom you call 'Allah' and the Hindus call 'Ishwar'." The maulvis urged Mirkshah not to pay any heed to the infidel's talks and arrest him. Mirkshah dithering as usual, ordered his soldiers to arrest Udero.

As the officials of the court moved towards Udero, great waves of water leaped forth inundating the courtyard and crowning Mirkshah and his courtiers. Fire too broke out and the palace was consumed by the flames. All escape routes were sealed. Udero spoke again, "Mirkshah, think it over. Your God and mine are the same. Then, why do you persecute my people ?"

Mirkshah was terrified and begged Udero, "My Lord, I realise my foolhardiness. Please save me and my courtiers." All at once the water receded and the fire died away. Mirkshah bowed respectfully and agreed to treat Hindus and Muslims alike. Before they dispersed, Uderolal told the Hindus to think of him as the embodiment of light and water. He also told them to build a temple in memory of transformation of Mirkshah. "Day in and out", he said, "light a candle in the temple and always keep available water for daat (holy sip)".

Uderolal named his cousin, Pagad, as the first Thakur (Priest of the religious sect that believes in God). Pagad followed Uderolal wherever he went. Uderolal gave seven sysmbolic things to Pagad. These seven form the essential elements of the Daryahi sect. Uderolal asked Pagad to continue the sacred work of building temples and spread the message.

Selecting a place near village Thijahar, Uderolal gave up his earthly form. Both Hindus and Muslims were present in large numbers to witness this mysterious happening. Mirkshah's representatives were also there. No sooner had Uderolal's soul left his body, they took charge and wanted to build a 'Turbat' or 'Qaba' at the site according to the dictates of Islam. The Hindus wanted to erect a 'Samadhi' according to Hindu customs. While the debate raged, heavy rains came down and a voice said, "Behold ! You shall make my shrine acceptable both to Hindus and Muslims. Let its one face be a temple and the other a Dargah (Islamic shrine). I belong to all of you."

Legacy[edit]

Jhulelal is the Ishta Dev (community God) of Sindhi people.[1] Jhulelal continues to be the unifying force and the centre of all cultural activities of the Sindhi community. The word Sindhi is derived from the River Sindhu (now River Indus in Pakistan)." When Sindhi men venture out to sea their women pray to him for their safe return. They offer the Lord a prasad of akha, a sweet made from rice, ghee, sugar and flour. Sindhis all over the world greet each other with the words, "Jhulelal Bera-Hee-Paar".

Hindu Sindhis also wrote a modified prayer, "O Lal Meri Pat Rakhiyo Bala Jhule lalan....." to praise this God. This poem was adapted from Sufi Saint Baba Bulleh Shah in honour of the most revered Sufi Saint of Sindh, Shahbaz Qalandar of Sehwan Sharif, near Larkana, Pakistan, who worked for Hindu-Muslim unity in Sindh.

The shrine in Sehwan, of Jhule Laal around his tomb, was built in 1356. Thousands of devotees visit the tomb particularly every Thursday and at the annual Urs celebrations are held on the 18 Shahban - the eighth month of the Islamic lunar calendar.

Iconography[edit]

  • In the most common form, Jhulelal is represented as a bearded man sitting cross-legged on a lotus flower that rests on a palla fish. The fish is seen floating on the Sindhu river. He holds a sacred text and sometimes even a rosary. He wears a golden crown with a peacock feather and wears regal clothes. Generally, temple idols represent him in this form.[6][7]
  • In another form he is shown standing on a palla fish or the lotus flower, holding a staff with both hands to indicate leadership.[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Story of Jhulelal Archived 1 May 2011 at WebCite
  2. ^ http://razarumi.com/flow-of-life-part-ii/
  3. ^ Contemporary Hinduism By P. Pratap Kumar
  4. ^ http://jhoolelal.com/main.html
  5. ^ Vaswani, J.P. (2008). I Am a Sindhi: The Glorious Sindhi Heritage - The Culture & Folklore of Sind. New Delhi, India: Sterling Publishers Pvt. Ltd. pp. 129–135. 9788120738072. 
  6. ^ Mark-Anthony Falzon (2004). Cosmopolitan Connections: The Sindhi Diaspora, 1860-2000 9. Brill Academic Publishers. p. 59. ISBN 90-04-14008-5. Retrieved 1 February 2014. 
  7. ^ Boivin, Michel (15 Oct 2008). Sindh through History and Representations: French Contributions to Sindhi Studies. Oxford University Press. p. 76. ISBN 9780195475036. 
  8. ^ Falzon, Mark-Anthony (2004). Cosmopolitan Connections:The Sindhi Diaspora, 1860-2000 (International Comparative Social Studies, Vol. 9). Brill Academic Publishers. p. 59. 9789004140080. 

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