Alha

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Veer Alha of Mahoba, U.P., India

Alha was a legendary Rajput general of the Chandel king Paramardideva (also known as Parmal), who fought Prithviraj Chauhan in 1182 CE, immortalised in the Alha-Khand ballad.

The Origin of Alha[edit]

Alha and Udal were children of the Dasraj, a successful commander of the Chandel king Parmal. He belonged to the community of Banaphars, so called because of their origin from the forest region.[1]

According to the Bhavishya Purana, a text with several interpolated sections that cannot be reliably dated, Alha's mother, Devaki, was a member of the rajput caste. The rajputs are among the "older, pastoralist tradition" of warriors who used Rajputising idioms to express their values, but were regarded as "spurious Rajputs" by those who stressed genealogical ascription over achievement.[2]

The Bhavishya Purana says that when Mahpati (Mahil) states that Ahlada (Alha) has come to be of "low family" (kule hinatvamagatah), it is because his mother is an Arya(Aryabhiri: means "Aryan"i). Here, however the story is foundational and told not at this point in Alhda's courtship but in connection with his mother's own marriage. The two maidens are indeed Ahiris, daughters of Gopalak (cowherd) king Dalvahana and accustomed to daily tethering of buffaloes. They seize two buffaloes not in forest but in front of many kings during great Chandika homa performed by their father, when the assembled kings themselves find the buffaloes too much to handle. Dalvahana, at the command of Durga, then gives the older daughter Devaki (Devi) to Desaraja (Dasraj) and the younger daughter Brahmi to Vatsaraja (Bachraj).[2]

The Bhavishya Purana further adds that it is not only the "Banaphars" mothers who are Ahirs, but their paternal grandmother from Baksar are also Ahirs, who entered the family with a blessing of Devi chandika that come not from wrestling buffaloes but from her nine-year vow to the nine Durgas and hence the Ahirs were natural relatives of the family. Some of this checks out with the Elliot's Alha, where the gopalaka (Ahir) King Dalvahana is called Dalpat, King of Gwalior. he is still the two girl's father, but merely gives them to Dasraj and Bachraj when Parmal requested him.[2] The Queen Malhna insists that King Parmal reward Dashraj and Bachraj with brides from within the Chandel land. King Dalpat of Gwalior volunteers his daughters Devi (Devaki, Alha's mother) and Birma. Queen Malhna welcomes Devi to Mahoba by placing the nine lakh chain (Naulakha Haar) around her neck and also gives Birma a necklace. King Parmal then gives new Banaphar families a village where they bear and raise their sons named Alha and Udal.[1]

Alha is one of the heroes of the Alha-Khand poem, popularly recited in the Bundelkhand region of India. It may be based on a work Mahoba Khand which has been published with the title Parmal Raso.[citation needed]

Folklore[edit]

Alha is an oral epic, the story is also found in a number of medieval manuscripts of the Prithviraj Raso and the Bhavishya Purana. There is also a belief that the story was originally written by Jagnik, bard of Mahoba, but no manuscript has yet been found.[3]

Karine Schomer depicted Alha in South Asian Folklore as:

Originating in the Bundelkhand Region. it (Alha) recounts the intertwined fates of the three principal Rajput Kingdoms of North India on the eve of Turkish conquest (late 12th century C.E.); Delhi (ruled by Prithviraj Chauhan), Kannauj (ruled by Jaichand Rathor), and Mahoba (ruled by Chandel king Parmal). The heroes of the epic are the brothers Alha and Udal retainers of the low social status, but exceptional valour, whose cause is the protection of Mahoba and defense of its honour. Called the "Mahabarata of the Kaliyuga", Alha both parallels and inverts the themes and the structures of the classical religious epic.

The (Alha) cycle consists of fifty-two episodes in which the heroes confront enemies of Mahoba or the resistant fathers of prospective brides. It ends with the great historical battle between the kingdoms of Mahoba and Delhi, in which the Chandels were annihilated and the Chauhans so weakened that they could not resist the subsequent attack of the Turks.[3]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

  • Alha Udal
  • Mahoba
  • Mishra, Pt. Lalita Prasad (2007). Alhakhand (in Hindi) (15 ed.). Lucknow (India): Tejkumar Book Depot (Pvt) Ltd. p. 614.