Friday, October 3, 2008

Gyanghasur (Titan Gyangha)

Long long ago, in a land far far away, there was a King who had a daughter. She was his only daughter and she was sick from the birth. Doctors, witches, quacks -- all were tried on her without success. Phials of drugs and potions heaped in a mound under her window, but all in vain. She kept reducing as years rolled on. King lost sleep. All the time, he was seen thinking about Princess' disease and her relief.

Moons after moons passed like this. One day, an old monk appeared in the King's court. Hearing about the Princess' sickness, he told the King, "Sire! Your daughter will be cured after eating a lemon."

A lemon! Which lemon, how it looks, where in whose garden it can be found -- the Monk said nothing about that. Before the King could ask him all these, he just vanished in the crowd. Seeing no other option, King publicly announced, "Whoever can cure my daughter with lemon from his tree, will get my daughter and half of my kingdom."

But, there was a problem. There was no lemon tree in that kingdom. Only one farmer had a single tree which he had brought from the far Eastern kingdom. After nine years, that tree brought forth lemons just few days earlier. And what lemons they were! Just like 'rasgulla'. Whoever saw them got awed by their size. You never saw or ate such lemons in your life. Neither did I. Had I seen any such thing, I surely would have tried.

This farmer had three sons -- Jodu, Goshtho and Manik. Hearing King's announcement, farmer gave a wicker-basketful of lemon to Jodu and told him, "Quickly go to the palace. If Princess gets cured by eating these, you can marry her".

So, Jodu started for King's palace with the basket on his shoulder. On the road, he met a one foot high, bald old man with three-feet beard. That man asked him, "Hey ya! What're ya carrying in your basket?"

Jodu replied, "Frogs."

The old man said, "Is it? OK. Be it so."

When Jodu reached palace, the guards very happily took him to the King. The King himself opened the basket's hood; and immediately three-four frogs jumped out and landed on his crown. Jodu saw all the lemons had turned to frogs. So, he lost his chance to be the Princess' groom. In fact, it was his good luck that he came back alive with only a few beatings and kick-marks.

Then, the farmer asked Goshtho to go. And Goshtho met the same old little man on the road. And he replied that he was carrying cucumber seeds.

The old man said, "So be it!"

Guards did not let him in easily. They told him, "The other day, another fellow came and soiled the King's crown. We won't allow you to repeat the show!"

After much ado, Jody could go inside; and you surely understand what happened to him.

Now, everyone considered Manik a dummy. So, no one asked him to go to King's palace after his brothers' failure. But, he himself got ready with a basketful of lemons, and almost forced out his father's permission for the trip.

On the road he also met that one foot man.

The one foot man asked him, "What's in your basket?"

Manik said, "There are lemons inside. King's daughter will get cured if she eats them"

The old man said, "Good! So be it."

It was almost impossible for Manik to enter the palace. Guards softned after he showed them that he was really carrying lemons. And they remained lemons even in King's court. King became very happy to see those. Quickly he sent the basket inside, and asked the servant, "Inform me what happens after she takes them." Not even five minutes passed, the Princess herself came to the court with the news of her cure. Only one slice of the fruit she ate, and all sickness vanished.

So, the King almost started jubilation on this. But, he remembered the promise. He felt sick with the thought, "Ah! What have I done! Now I have to marry her off to this farmer's son!" He decided to somehow evade this promise.

Manik could not see any of this. He was thinking, "Now I'll marry the Princess and take her to my hut." His thoughts broke when King said, "My boy, you've done this job well. But, it's not so easy to marry a Princess. You have to finish another job. Then, we'll think about you. I want a boat that goes with the same ease in water as well as on land. If you can make such one, you have some hope."

Manik gave his word to the King and came back home to tell everything.

Back home, nobody considered Manik worthed anything. So, they thought if Manke could cure the Princess so easily, then anyone would make such a boat. So, Jodu took an axe and went to the jungle for wood. When he was cutting down a big tree and planning how he would transform that into a big luxurious boat, that one foot man appeared from nowhere.

He asked Jodu, "Hey Jodunath! What're you making?"

-- "Washing tumblers"

-- "Nice! Let them be good ones."

Saying this, that one foot man disappeared in the leaves and Jodu continued with his work. But, soon he saw, howsoever he tried, that cursed wood somehow took a round shape like tumbler. Despite all his effort, he could make nothing but a set of tumblers. However, those tumblers were really nice. So, at sunset, Jodu returned home with five such tumblers on his head.

Next day, Goshtho went to the jungle to make the boat. He also returned home at sunset with five very fine quality wood clubs in hand.

So, at last Manik could go to the jungle. As he just cut off a big portion of tree trunk, that little old man appeared.

-- "Hey! Is that Manik? What're you doing?"

-- Manik replied, "King asked me to make a boat that could move easily on land as in water. If I can do that, I'll be able to marry the Princess."

-- "Is it? Nice! So be it."

As soon as that old man went away and Manik struck on the wood with his axe, that wood started moving on its own. It was not just a piece of wood anymore. It was a very colorful boat now. Such a boat that needed no rower, no driver, no helmsman. It automatically goes to its destination depending on the rower's mind. And such lavishly was it decorated and upholstered inside! All the materials that furnished the boat were from that one foot man's land. Nobody here ever saw or heard about such fine things.

The King was sitting in the court with his ministers when Manik's boat came and stopped. Everyone was almost mesmerized seeing that boat. Everyone praised Manik so much. The King was also thunderstruck. But, he did not show that and told Manik, "Not yet. You've to do one more work. I want a bunch of plumes from Ghyanghasur's (the famous Titan Ghyangha) tail, for my crown. If you can bring that, I'll give my daughter to you."

Manik thought for a moment, then promised the King that he would bring the plumes within three months.


Half bird - half lion, ash-faced, goblinish gait, ghyanghasur lived one moon and a half distance away, in his golden castle in the unknown city beyond nameless river. He was famous for his irritated temperament, immense knowledge and countless wealth. He loved to eat human beings in one gulp. Manik set out to bring plumes from such a Ghyanghasur's tail! But, he did not know the proper directions. So, he kept asking people on the road as he continued on his journey. At night, he took shelter at some stranger's house, and resumed his walk in the morning.

Whoever on the road heard that Manik was going to Ghyanghasur's place, showed him very good hospitality and respect. One night, he became guest at such a stranger's house. After supper, the host said, "My boy, you're going to Gynghasur's place. I heard he knew many things. I've lost my locker's key. If you ask Ghyangha where it is, I'll be highly benefited."

Manik said "Sure Sir. I'll get the information."

Another night, he stayed at a rich man's place. That rich man's daughter was very sick. Nobody could find out from what she was suffering. But, that girl got thinner day by day. That rich man fed and entertained Manik very well. Then he asked, "Well, my boy! Will you be able to find out the reason for her sickness from Ghyangha?"

Manik said, "Of course Sir! You rest assured."

Like this, after one moon and half's walk, Manik reached the nameless river, and saw Ghyanghasur's golden palace on the other side. And how wild a river that was! It's water was golden-red, and it was willowing like sea-waves from within.

Manik saw no boat to cross the river. A very thin old man used to carry anyone whoever came to this side, on his shoulder. He carried Manik too. After Manik set his feet on the other side, that old man said, "My boy! Can you please ask Ghyangha how my misfortune will be over? I'm doing this since childhood without sleep or food. Carrying people on my shoulder. Now I've grown old. Can't I retire from this?"

Manik assured him, "Don't worry. I'll surely ask him."

Without much hesitation, Manik entered Gyangha's golden palace. At that time, Gyangha was not there. His wife, Ghenghi, saw Manik and said, "Hey dear boy! Run away now! If Gyangha comes he'll eat you up!"

Manik replied, "But, I want a bunch of plumes from gyangha's tail. How can I run away without getting that? And also, I've to ask him about the locker key of that person; and also about that rich man's daughter and how to cure her. There's that old man of nameless river too..."

Ghenghi said, "What kind of boy is this! When it's time to save your life you ask for Ghyangha's plumes and all nonsense information! Who are you boy?"

Manik said, "I'm Manik. If I return without plume, the King won't give his daughter to me."

Now, after all, Ghenghi was woman. She took pity on Manik and said, "OK. Then hide under our bed. If you're lucky, you'll get what you need."

In the evening, Ghyanghasur came back home. Ghenghi quickly gave him water and washed his feet, and then served him food on golden platters. Ghayngha was in his usual irritated, cynical mood. As he sat down to eat, he breathed and sniffed heavily.

-- "I get human smell. Where is it coming from? Yep! Human smell. Yum yum! You have human? Give me to eat."

Manik got pale under bed hearing this. Ghenghi's palpitation started too. But she managed to make it up that a man came, and ran away when it heard Ghyngha's name."

Hearing this, Ghyangha somewhat calmed down and finished his meal.

After eating,Ghyangha went to bed for sleep.While he was sleeping his tail slipped from the bed to floor. On that, there was such royal-looking rainbow color plumage as none had ever imagined on earth. As soon as Manik saw it hanging, he swiftly tore a loose bunch from that. Immediately, Gyangha jumped out of his bed and shrieked, "Ay Ghenghi! Someone pulled my tail. Yum yum! Human smell I get."

Ghenghi quickly ran to his side and said, " No no. You must have dreamed. And, such a big plumage! God knows where it got stuck under the bed. And I told you a man came. It must be his smell still lingering. So many things it talked about. That locker key of that businessman...

Before Ghenghi could finish, Ghyangha pitched in, "Ya, ya! I know! That iron locker's key! Their toddler kid has stuffed it inside the green mattress."

Ghenghi said again, "And that rich man's daughter has a strange sickness..."

And Ghyangha replied, "Big frog has taken away her hair. At the room's east corner is its hole. If they get the hair from there, it'll be cured."

Again ghenghi said, "And that old man of nameless river..."

And Ghyangha told her, "That old one is a full stupid. Why doesn't it drop another man in mid-river from its shoulder? Then easily it can leave the work, and the other one takes its job. Whoever it drops in mid-river, will start carrying people on its shoulder."

Thus, Manik got everything he wanted. Now, he waited for the sunrise. At dawn, Ghyangha went out for morning walk, and Manik also came out from under the bed. Ghenghi saw him off after feeding him with very delicious meat of koikoi bird.

On the way back home, he first met the old man at the nameless river's bank.

The man asked, "Did you ask him about me?"

Manik said, "I'll tell you later. First carry me to that side. I'm in a hurry."

As he reached the other side, Manik landed on the ground and told him, "Next time you carry someone, drop him in the mid-river. You'll be free then."

The old man blessed Manik over and again and said, "Brother! I'm so grateful to you! I wish I could serve you more by carrying you on my shoulder."

Manik smiled and replied, "It's enough you've done to me. I don't want to tax an old man like you more. I'll go back home now."

After four days' walk, Manik arrived at the rich man's house. His host very interestedly asked him, "Ghyangha said anything about my daughter?"

Manik said, "Yes." And immediately he went to the corner of the room and took out the hair from the frog's hole. As if by magic, the girl who was deadly sick on bed jumped up and cheerfully danced through the house like a very healthy person.

All her relatives became so happy by this, that they gifted Manik with ten camels' load of gold and silver.

Same thing happened at the key-loser's place too. They also gave Manik loads of money and gems.

Manik returned home with all the gifts, and went to the King's court to give him Ghyanghasur's plumes. All his countrymen highly praised him and applauded his courage and feat on this. Everyone told the King that it was not a royal thing to have taxed Manik so much, and that he should marry off the Princess to Manik without further delay.

The King had no choice now. He had to agree with his subjects.

Then, one fine day, the Princess married Manik and there was a grand party which continued for several months.

Manik was already so much richer than the King himself that he was not in any need. He lived very happily with his newly wed Princess. But, the King became very jealous at this. He thought, "If Manik could bring so much wealth from Ghyanghasur's land, then why can't I?"

So, the King started for Ghyangha's land. But, finally he could not make it there. No sooner had he reached mid-river on the lean old man's shoulder had the man dropped him and ran away. The King first got surprised, then became red in anger, then started shouting at the old man, and then began requesting him. But, the old man had no time to listen to him. He ran away as soon as he was free. He even forgot to tell the King the secret to escape. So, the King is carrying people to and fro in the nameless river to this day.

Anyone among you, who're reading this tale, if you ever chance to visit Ghyanghasur's land, please tell that poor King the trick to his freedom. But, don't tell as long as you're safely on this side. Otherwise, you could be trapped too.

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