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JA CC #4, History Thread Discussions for Invitees Only (Page 33)

history_geek IF-Rockerz
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Posted: 09 June 2015 at 5:28am | IP Logged


31st May was the Birth Anniversary of a greatly honored and revered lady.

Story of an inspiring woman, a child widow & a young visionary queen who charted a new life for the people of her kingdom. The young 18th Century Queen Ahilyabai Holkar spurred the tradition of Maheshwari saris, enabling people from her riyasat to make a living.

A little more than a thousand kilometres from the hustle and bustle of Varanasi, in the heart of Madhya Pradesh, lies another handloom hub - Maheshwar, just two hours' drive from Indore. Along the banks of the river Narmada, one can see crystal clean water. Wave after wave rising to greet the ghats (stone steps leading to the river) in a well-orchestrated symphony. Located along one side, rising majestically can be seen a row of temples. Hundreds of stone steps led to the monuments which rise like sentinels above the river bank. What strucks one most is the simplicity of the architecture. There is no gold, no silver, no tinsel. Miniature paintings, inlay work, Belgian mirrors, marble - the expensive ornaments adorning royal palaces and temples across the country are conspicuous by their absence. As far as one's eye can see, it is just grey stone.

And these stones are privy to the story of a woman, a young queen who charted a new life for the people of Maheshwar - Ahilya Bai Holkar.

Ahilyabai was a simple girl from a town called Beed in Maharashtra. During one of his tours, the ruler of the Holkar state, Maharaja Malharao, spotted her at a Teej festival. Something about her youthful bearing struck the sagacious ruler, and he chose her to be the bride of his young son, Khonde Rao. She came as a child bride to Maheshwar in 1753. Some years later, Khonde Rao Holkar suddenly died, and Ahilya prepared, as was the custom, to ascend her husband's funeral pyre and become sati. But Malharao stopped her. You must live, my child. Maheshwar needs you,' he said. Thus, Ahilyabai Holkar became regent for her young son, and ruled from 1765 to 1795.

Gradually, the young queen began to get acquainted with the life of her people. After her morning prayers she would sit on the ramparts of her palace so she could meet her praja (people) and listen to their problems. The more she heard, the more determined she became that no one in her riyasat (kingdom) would be denied a decent livelihood. But how was this to be achieved? What could she do to ensure that her people had a source of income not just for a season or for year but forever? At that time, 167 km from Maheshwar was a town called Burhanpur, known for its rich tradition of handloom weaving. It was from here, and from the town next door, Mandu, that Ahilya brought skilled weavers. She made them set up looms in her riyasat to teach the art of weaving to the women and men of Maheshwar. Her people acquired the skill fast enough but what they needed now were beautiful patterns that would win the hearts of consumers for all time to come. Ahilya mulled over this morning and evening as she watched the Narmada flow beneath her palace, blue and clear, creating thousands of patterns with its waves. Narmada or Rehwa, as the river is known locally, is regarded as the Mother' because its fertile banks feed people throughout the year. It was from Rehwa and from her own deep faith that Ahilya finally drew inspiration.

The patterns created by the boisterous waves of the Rehwa were first etched on the stone steps and on the walls of her palace. Then Ahilya began to construct temples along the banks of the river. And on their pillars, walls, chhatris (domed pavilions), doors and jharokhas (overhanging balconies) were engraved stone flowers, animals, birds, waves (the Narmada lehar) and many other intricate designs. ... Till today, one has only to pick up a Maheshwari sari and the designs woven on the pallu or the border can be found etched on some stone slab partially immersed in the mighty Narmada, narrating the story of this visionary queen.

This was the story of an inspiring woman, a child widow & a young visionary queen who charted a new life for the people of her kingdom.

Read this, hence decided to share here.


The following 4 member(s) liked the above post:

Rasika29Abi23SpringBreakersSindhuMenon

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Posted: 09 June 2015 at 6:42am | IP Logged
Originally posted by history_geek


31st May was the Birth Anniversary of a greatly honored and revered lady.

Story of an inspiring woman, a child widow & a young visionary queen who charted a new life for the people of her kingdom. The young 18th Century Queen Ahilyabai Holkar spurred the tradition of Maheshwari saris, enabling people from her riyasat to make a living.

A little more than a thousand kilometres from the hustle and bustle of Varanasi, in the heart of Madhya Pradesh, lies another handloom hub - Maheshwar, just two hours' drive from Indore. Along the banks of the river Narmada, one can see crystal clean water. Wave after wave rising to greet the ghats (stone steps leading to the river) in a well-orchestrated symphony. Located along one side, rising majestically can be seen a row of temples. Hundreds of stone steps led to the monuments which rise like sentinels above the river bank. What strucks one most is the simplicity of the architecture. There is no gold, no silver, no tinsel. Miniature paintings, inlay work, Belgian mirrors, marble - the expensive ornaments adorning royal palaces and temples across the country are conspicuous by their absence. As far as one's eye can see, it is just grey stone.

And these stones are privy to the story of a woman, a young queen who charted a new life for the people of Maheshwar - Ahilya Bai Holkar.

Ahilyabai was a simple girl from a town called Beed in Maharashtra. During one of his tours, the ruler of the Holkar state, Maharaja Malharao, spotted her at a Teej festival. Something about her youthful bearing struck the sagacious ruler, and he chose her to be the bride of his young son, Khonde Rao. She came as a child bride to Maheshwar in 1753. Some years later, Khonde Rao Holkar suddenly died, and Ahilya prepared, as was the custom, to ascend her husband's funeral pyre and become sati. But Malharao stopped her. You must live, my child. Maheshwar needs you,' he said. Thus, Ahilyabai Holkar became regent for her young son, and ruled from 1765 to 1795.

Gradually, the young queen began to get acquainted with the life of her people. After her morning prayers she would sit on the ramparts of her palace so she could meet her praja (people) and listen to their problems. The more she heard, the more determined she became that no one in her riyasat (kingdom) would be denied a decent livelihood. But how was this to be achieved? What could she do to ensure that her people had a source of income not just for a season or for year but forever? At that time, 167 km from Maheshwar was a town called Burhanpur, known for its rich tradition of handloom weaving. It was from here, and from the town next door, Mandu, that Ahilya brought skilled weavers. She made them set up looms in her riyasat to teach the art of weaving to the women and men of Maheshwar. Her people acquired the skill fast enough but what they needed now were beautiful patterns that would win the hearts of consumers for all time to come. Ahilya mulled over this morning and evening as she watched the Narmada flow beneath her palace, blue and clear, creating thousands of patterns with its waves. Narmada or Rehwa, as the river is known locally, is regarded as the Mother' because its fertile banks feed people throughout the year. It was from Rehwa and from her own deep faith that Ahilya finally drew inspiration.

The patterns created by the boisterous waves of the Rehwa were first etched on the stone steps and on the walls of her palace. Then Ahilya began to construct temples along the banks of the river. And on their pillars, walls, chhatris (domed pavilions), doors and jharokhas (overhanging balconies) were engraved stone flowers, animals, birds, waves (the Narmada lehar) and many other intricate designs. ... Till today, one has only to pick up a Maheshwari sari and the designs woven on the pallu or the border can be found etched on some stone slab partially immersed in the mighty Narmada, narrating the story of this visionary queen.

This was the story of an inspiring woman, a child widow & a young visionary queen who charted a new life for the people of her kingdom.

Read this, hence decided to share here.




Very very impressive Abhay. Thanks so much for sharing...I just came to know about this though have heard the name Maheshwari Saris.

I have heard about Maheshwari sarees, but dont own one. Will for sure buy on my trip to India for sure.


Edited by SindhuMenon - 09 June 2015 at 7:22am

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history_geek

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The following 3 member(s) liked the above post:

Rasika29SindhuMenonSpringBreakers

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Posted: 10 June 2015 at 2:59am | IP Logged

Adding some points about the Queen Ahilyabai Holkar about whom i shared some points yesterday. She is referred as Punyashlok Rajmata Devi Ahilyabai Holkar. Apart from being an accomplished warrior, She had contributions on cultural front as well.  Maheshwari Sarees were introduced into Maheshwar 250 years ago by Rani Ahilyabai, and are renowned throughout India for their unique weave, which we saw in the last post.

Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of India has mentioned her in his autobiography - Discovery of India, Oxford Centenary Edition, Page-280/81, as follows - "The reign of Ahilyabai, of Indore in central India, lasted for 30 Yrs. This has become almost legendary as a period during which perfect order and good Government prevailed and the people prospered. She was a very able ruler and organizer, highly respected during her lifetime, and considered as a saint by a grateful people after her death."

Her husband was killed in a battle when her son was a minor. Her Father-in-Law asked her NOT to commit Sati, and asked her to take training in warfare. Twelve years later, her father-in-law, Malhar Rao Holkar, died. She tried to protect her kingdom from Thugs, the plunderers. She personally led armies into battle. Fought many battles. Ruled for 30 years.

It is worth noting that the government of India, gives awards for courage and valor on the names of 5 brave ladies of Indian History. She is one of them.

Other 4 are:
Kanngi,
Mata Jijabai,
Rani Gaidenlou Zeliang, and
Rani Lakshmi Bai.

From Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India.. > http://www.wcd.nic.in/pressrel.htm

Here posting a BIG poem written for Ahilya Bai Holker, by a Scottish poet, Joanna Baillie, in 1849, in London. This person has written about her, and compared Ahilya Bai with -
Catherine II of Russia,
Elizabeth I of England,
Margaret I of Denmark.

Following is her poem. It is long but, it's VERY interesting.
This Poem was originally written for Private Circulation in 1849.:


A VOICE from Sinai's sacred summit came,
What time, enrob'd and hid in smoke and flame,
Israel's assembled hosts the wonder saw
From its extended base, a sight of awe,
In stilly silence waiting to behold
What dreadful vision'd change it might unfold ;
With up-cast, pallid faces, shrunk with fear.
They stood, the awful words of God to hear :
They heard and felt that Israel's God alone
Is Lord of heaven and earth, and shares his power with
none.

The terrors of that awful day, though past,
Have on the tide of time some glory cast ;
As when the sun, whom cloudy state conceals.
From his pavilion's curtain'd side reveals
Some scatter'd rays, that, through the general gloom,
Headland, or tower, or desert rocks illume :
So did that mighty revelation throw,
O'er Prophets, Judges, Seers, a feeble glow
Of pure religious light, and Judah's king
With psalms of praise made his smote harp to ring -

A soul-reviving light, that did impart
Devotion's warmth to many a noble heart ;
Till He appear'd, in whom God's Spirit dwelt,
Unmeasur'd, and for helpless mortals felt
More than a brother's love, whose majesty,
Subdued and mild, struck not man's garish eye.
His mien, his motions, spoke of inward love -
His blessed words and acts of power above
All human excellence; - till, in the eternal name,
The Son of God, the Son of Man, the Son of David came.

But deem not that the Parent of mankind,
Maker of all, hath to one race confin'd
The gifts his blessed Spirit can bestow
On all Earth's scatter'd nations here below.
His revelations to a chosen race
With pow'r were manifested, yet we trace
In the bewilder'd heathen's heart, who bows
To Idols dumb, and pays devoted vows
To Wood and Stone, a conscious inward feeling
Of higher things o'er heart and fancy stealing.
Perhaps a sudden quickening thought
Across his musings strangely brought ;
Aye, then God's Spirit with his soul is dealing.

And have not the philosopher and sage,
The generous and good of every age.
In silent hours of meditation high.
Contemplating the sun, the stars, and sky.
The earth, the ocean, - all that bounteous store
Of fair and good, - been strengthen'd to adore

One Mighty Lord and Parent of all good :
Nature's own worship, not to be withstood
By partial rites which heathen power imposed ?
And have not those to other minds disclos'd
Their elevated thoughts, and held communion
With kindred minds, - a blest, ennobling union ?

'Mid shepherd hordes, for ever changing
Their tented-homes, o'er deserts ranging ;
'Mid seamen on the ocean bred ;
'Mid bandits fierce on plunder fed ;
Wherever mental light hath shown
In circling darkness bright and lone.
As beacon on a distant hill
This message sends, though hush'd and still
The midnight air broods on the ear, -
" Gird on your mail, the foe is near ! " -
That is a mission'd light from heav'n,
By the Almighty Father giv'n.
And hath its sacred mission well fulfiU'd,
Although its path to trace we mortals are unskill'd.

Behold that female form so meekly bending
O'er a pale youth, who is the night-air rending
With many a sudden shriek, and many a cry
And lengthen'd groan of utter misery !
It is a regent Mother, one whose fate
By heav'n is fix'd to rule a warlike state ;
Who, by the laws or custom of the land,
Appointed is to hold supreme command.
Yet one of gentle mind, who had been meet
On Sion's hill to sit at her Redeemer's feet,

And listen to His words with humble love.
And see His looks benign her pious heart approve.

But she hath been in heathen darkness nurs'd,
Hath been with much misguiding lore accurst,
Which with the worship of one God supreme
Had woven in full many an odious dream.
Vague and perplexing seem'd her future doom :
Her present world is dark, and darker that to come.

Close in her own his burning hands she prest ^,
And to some pow'r unseen were words like these addrest. -

" Leave him, fierce Spirit of th' unhallow'd dead !
O, let him rest awhile his wretched head !
O, quit possession of his wasted frame !
Nor with his lips and alter'd voice blaspheme
To bring down blasting vengeance from the skies ;
Upon him now enough of misery lies.
He slew thee wrongfully, and for that deed
Remorse has dealt to him a fearful mead.
It was the sudden act of jealous youth : -
He was deceiv'd, and could not know the truth.
But he has tried to make amends ; rich stores
He on thy widow and thy children pours.
An honourable tomb shall give to fame
With graven record thy unsullied name.
O from this wretched body, Spirit dire !
Come forth ; what does thy fell revenge require ?
Can all his misery, can all his pain,
E'er make thyself a living man again ? "

Thus day and night full many tears she shed,
And watch'd and pray'd and struggl'd by his bed.
Whene'er his fiercest, wildest fits prevail'd ;
But neither watching, prayers, nor tears avail'd.
At length deep silence through the palace reign'd,
And for a solemn term its rule maintain'd.
The dire disease its cruel task hath done ;
The princely stripling's mortal course is run.

What lamentations, mingl'd, loud, and shrill.
Did courts and halls and stately chambers fill,
Bursting from that deep silence and repose,
We say not, but the scene of sadness close.

The corse is on its pyle consum'd.
The bones within their urn inhum'd.

But the sad Mother, so bereft,
Had she no tie of comfort left ?
Yes, heav'n extremes of woe restrain'd ;
One little Daughter yet remain'd.
She to console her Mother tried.
And play'd and prattl'd by her side.
Her own soft cheek to hers she laid,
And simple words of kindness said
Right coaxingly, that sometimes broke
The spell of grief; a gentle stroke
Slow sliding down her Mother's arm,
Repeated oft, work'd like a charm ;
Then would her dark eyes glance around
To see what farther comfort might be found.
With feather'd fan she cool'd her brow,
And when the tears began to flow,

 
Her small hand plied its kerchief well,
And softly wip'd them as they fell.

Her fingers next, belike, would try
The Ranie's raven locks in braids to tye,
That, like torn, tangl'd wreaths, from altars flung,
Dishevell'd, o'er her stooping shoulders hung.
Aye, every simple, youthful, winning art
This gentle creature us'd to sooth the wounded heart.
Nor was that simple ministry in vain ;
Her Mother's heart was sooth'd, and she again
Caress'd her little Maid, as heretofore.
And dearly lov'd her in her bosom's core.

But Brahma to her care consign'd
A family of far other kind, -
Of various castes, a mingl'd brood,
Dull and untoward, fierce and rude ;
And she must brace her for the task,
Nor leave of tenderer passions ask.

Offers of large possessions to resign ^
The right of sov'reignty did she decline
Indignantly, with duty still in view
To her own house, and to her people true ;
And gave effect to her determination
With prompt display of warlike preparation.
Each soldier of her race, with glancing eyes,
Upon her elephant's arm'd howdah spies
Quivers with arrows stor'd, and bows unstrung.
Just ready for the bent, in order hung.

That to their warm devoted hearts declare,
She will with them their fate and dangers share.
Yet, in his place, whose hapless race is run,
She must adopt another heir and son,
That in his settl'd right she still may guide
The councils of the state, - may still preside.
The careful regent Mother, over all.
And to her aid, troops, chieftains, Brahmins call.
And hath she chosen wilily
An Infant on the Nurse's knee,
Whose lengthen'd nonage may maintain
O'er subject lands her settl'd reign,
As prudent Ranies who pursue
One selfish end are wont to do ?
O no ! her noble nature spurn'd ^
Such narrow thoughts ; her choice she turn'd
Upon a soldier tried and brave,
Faithful of heart and firm to save
The country from all threaten'd wrong
By hostile Raj as- fierce and strong ;
Of generous nature too, who fought
Beneath a woman's rule, nor sought
Undue extension of his pow'r.
Her active champion, till her dying hour.
He call'd her Mother, though his life had run
More years by far than hers - a true and noble son.

Of Holkar's valiant race was he,
Though somewhat distant in degree.
But no suspicions e'er found way
To her most generous mind, which lay
In steady confidence, reposing
On his tried worth, nor once disclosing,

By word or look, an inward doubt
Of his fidelity throughout
A lengthen'd course of years, in which he serv'd
Nobly his noble Dame, nor from strict duty swerv'd.
They were a state-constructed Son and Mother,
A blessed twain, each worthy of the other ;
United firmly to their native land,
She the considerate head, and he the ready hand.

War on her distant frontiers, never ending.
Was wag'd by chiefs for booty still contending
Ev'n more than power ; but round her seat of sway.
Peaceful and bright, a charmed circle lay.
There she the even scales of justice held.
And all oppressive wrong and faction quell'd.
There to her subjects, of whate'er degree.
It was, I trow, a joyous sight to see ^
Their noble Baee her seat of judgment fill.
Dispensing justice with impartial skill.

They gather'd round her unrestrain'd.
Buoyant and happy if they gain'd
Such words of her sonorous speech.
As might their distant station reach ;
Some looks of meaning from her eye.
While perjur'd knaves, belike, would try
A simple statement to perplex.
The poor unwary hind to vex.
And, if no better they might have,
Ev'n o'er the crowd to see her wave
Her little hand with queenly grace,
Warm'd the good Ryot's heart and gleam'd his dusky face.

The children rais'd a joyous cry,
When from afar they could descry
Her palanquin so gay and bright,
By coolies borne - a burden light !
And cluster'd in the narrowest lane
To see her pass with all her train ;
And urchins dar'd aloud to call,
" She is our Mother, and she loves us all."

The Parrei and the meanest hind
Did to her presence access find ;
To her might tell with much detail
His wearisome and lengthy tale,
Circuitous and slow, nor fear
To tire her patient ear.
But when she question'd him again
To make the knotted matter plain,
Away would awe and caution wend !
He felt conversing with a friend.
And her shrew'd mind, the while, quick to discern
The human character, did useful knowledge learn.

"Woe, want, and suff'ring to assuage ^
Would still her daily thoughts engage ;
On this her mind was most intent.
She knew she was by Brahma sent ;
For works of mercy, by her hand
To be dispens'd through all the land.
He had committed to her care.
Nor might she toil or trouble spare.
She thought upon the pilgrim's woes,
Who over plain and mountain goes,

His sinking steps, his visage gaunt,
And eager glare of hungry want,
His still increasing hourly pain,
Ere he may reach his Idol's distant fane.
She thought upon wayfaring strangers,
Braving of wood and wild the dangers,
Who yet by thirst subdu'd are found
Stretch'd fainting on the parched ground.
She thought of age and infancy
Left on the river's brink to die :
Yea, ev'n on animals her thoughts would dwell,
Who have no words their sufferings to tell.

And still to kindly thoughts succeed
Full many a charitable deed ;
Her agents watch'd the pilgrim's track,
To give him what his need might lack ;
From river's weedy margin took the child,
And bade the aged live in accents mild.
They caravansaras would build.

Poor strangers from the night to shield.
And many a well and cooling tank
Upon the traveller's route they sank.
The thirsty oxen in the plough.
See help at hand, and stop to bow
Their heads unto the trough beneath.
And drink the welcome draught with seething, long-
drawn breath.

Upon her heart they had their claim,

Yea, Ahalya Baee ev'n cared for them.
And here with humble zeal I must disclose
A further bounty, strange, belike, to those.
Who in a better, purer faith were born :
Yet pause awhile, I pray, and check your scorn ;
Ye who acknowledge freely your descent
From those, in former days, who humbly bent
At shrines of many a carv'd and gilded saint -
Aye, saints who, when their earthly race was run,
Full many a black and ruthless deed had done ;
Will ye despise the simple blinded zeal
Which now my truthful legend must reveal ?

Water, in vessels closely pent,
From Ganges' sacred waves she sent
The holy idols to bedew,
And at their shrines her vows would oft renew.
Brahma, supreme o'er all above,
She did as humble daughter love ;
And other gods, set by his will
O'er Hindus' race for good or ill.
She would invoke, at needful hours^
Subordinate but awful powers.
Fell powers, who rul'd in nether air,
Who bade War's weapons kill or spare ;
Sent pestilence, all human joy
To blast, to poison, and destroy, -
Those still she tried her friends to make,
For her own weal, and for her people's sake.

With wise and learned Brahmins to converse,
To hear them many lines of lore rehearse ;
And from the sacred shasters to recite
Maxims, and rules, and laws, was her delight ;

And raany a solemn, wide-sleev'd sage, I ween.
Was in her special courtly circle seen,
Mingl'd with stately chiefs of high degree.
And watchful, wary scribes, and merchants free.

But ne'er a Brahmin of them all
Could win her for his blinded thrall,
Could e'er her noble mind persuade <
To do what inward rectitude forbade.

And if from district far or near.
Some fact of ruthless rapine reach'd her ear.

Or base oppression to the poor.
Who must too oft such grievous wrong endure,

How quickly did her alter'd brow^,
Her inward indignation show !
Nor durst the boldest culprits dare
To front her presence ; and if there
They were at her imperious call assembl'd,
The bravest chief and holiest Brahmin trembl'd.

Her countenance, so mild by nature.
Grew sternly fix'd in ev'ry feature ;
Her dark eye flash'd like kindl'd leaven
Sent from a rifted cloud of heav'n ;
Her stature low and figure slight.
Strangely dilated grew, and grand.
Like ruling spirit of the night.
Through misty vapour seen, by some benighted band.

Her voice, whose tones so kindly sweet.
Made widows' hearts with gladness beat.
Is now a sound of awe and fear.
Swelling like onward thunder to the ear ;
In sooth, a strange, unwonted sound to hear !

It was her solace and her pride
O'er peaceful districts to preside.
And keep around, remote or nigh,
Her country in prosperity.
Erewhile, her blessed reign before^.
It was a country to deplore ;
Where war and bloodshed, want and strife.
Had made a hell for human life.
Chiefs were by turns or weak or strong,
All interlac'd in deeds of wrong ;
Fiercely attacking town and village,
And fenced forts for sordid pillage ;
Treasure they did so vainly reap,
Which all could gain, but none could keep.
He who to-day had home and hold.
Grain on his fields, sheep in his fold,
To-morrow with his family fled.
And had not where to lay his head.
He who to-day hath kept his state
In princely hall where menials wait,
May soon in ruin'd haunts abide,
Or in the perilous jungle hide,

Where foul and fair are side by side ;
A place of fear and admiration. There
The brindled tiger in his reedy lair,
Purrs gruffly, while aloft is singing
The Loorie gay, on light spray swinging ;
There oft the baleful snake is seen.
Through flow'ry slopes and thickets green,
Where roses blush and blossoms blow.
And lilies sweet profusely grow,

Moving his sluggish, lothly length,
Then rearing up his stiffen'd strength,
At moving prey to take his aim.
And swaith and crush the vital frame.

Horsemen and spearmen o*er the plains
In dusky masses mov'd, while trains
Of heavy cannon in the rear,
By harnessed bullocks dragged, appear ;
And high, belike, above the crowd,
Upon his elephant some chieftain proud.
Sits stately, though less rational in nature
Than that on which he rides, - a noble sapient creature.

But now, how chang'd ! Upon the frontiers far
Her brave adopted son wag^d ceaseless war
With every restless robber-chief who dar'd
Her rightful boundary to invade, and spar'd
The centre districts. Peaceful, still, and bright.
They gleam'd on the admiring stranger's sight,
Like green oases of some desert land,
Encircl'd round with brown and barren sand ;
As many learned travellers indite
Who of far distant countries love to write ;
For all, within the guarded girdle bound.
Were peace and wealth, content and comfort found.

The Ryot plough'd his native soil, -
His Father's fields, a pleasing toil ;
Who, as he guides his sturdy steers.
With kindly voice their labour cheers ;
For well he knows the produce will
In season due his garner fill, -

Will, on his quiet, daily board
Food for his mate and little ones afford.

Beside her door the Matron stands
And deftly draws, with busy hands.
The snowy yarn from distaff tall.
For turban fine, or gorgeous shawl.
The weaver plies his useful trade,
In humid cell beneath the shade,
Through the strain'd warp his shuttle throws,
And as his web more lengthy grows.
Thinks of the golden price that will be paid
When in the throng'd bazaars its beauty is display'd.

In flow'ry nooks the children play,
Or through the shady copses stray
In quest of fruit ; while from the bough
Offended monkeys grin and mowe.
The gentle Lady, all bedight.
In gilded palanquin so bright,
Goes forth secure, on visit kind
Or ceremonious, to some distant friend ;
Nor fears that on her lengthened way

She may become some lurking bandit's prey.
But wherefore needless word encrease ?
With wise and equal rule the land was bless'd - and
peace.

But who through life's uncertain day hath run
With still, o'er head, a clear unclouded sun ?
When noon is past he hears the tempest roar.
And on his shoulders pelting torrents pour.
The weary pilgrim rests him void of fear.
Unwitting of the lurking tiger near.

The loaded raft floats smoothly on the tide,
Though fatal rocks beneath the waters hide ;
And when the steersman thinks he nears the shore,
A stroke is felt, - they sink, and rise no more.

Our Ranie, as this legend soothly said %
Had, for her solace sweet, a little Maid.
Her after-lot was bright ; one happy scene
Of married love her easy life had been.
But now, alas ! her happiness is flown ;
Death has o'er all his sable mantle thrown.
Whom see we now within that spacious room,
Where rests an ominous and dismal gloom ?
She, seated by yon deck'd and rose-strew'd bier.
Who neither heaves a sigh nor sheds a tear ;
She stooping over her and gently speaking,
To stem her wayward sorrow vainly seeking ?
The one is Ahalya's widow'd child ;
The other is herself, compos'd and mild,
Trying the fatal purpose to avert -
Compos'd, indeed, but with a bleeding heart.
Aye, all in vain her gentle words ; for hear
What words of woe her tardy answers bear.

" O Mother, do not grieve me so.
My lot is cast, and I must go.
Shall Jeswunt Row, my noble mate.
On pyre be laid in lonely state,
While I, who was the only flow'r
He watch'd and cherish'd in his bow'r,
A craven wife, shall from the brink
Of love's last trial meanly shrink ?
Forbid it, Brahma, Lord above!
Forbid it, faithfulness and love ! *' -

" And dost thou think that Brahma's will
I did not righteously fulfil,
When I, bereft and sad, did strive
Thy noble Father to survive ?
And was not his high blessing pour'd
On one so sever'd from her Lord ?
And characters, distinct and fair.
Did his approval well declare,
When flourishing beneath my sway
My people and my kingdom lay*
Yes ; though a widow, so bereft.
My heart had other blessings left.
But still, as ceird within my breast.
Thou wert my dearest and my best ;
Thou wert as my own youngling still.
Who didst my first affections fill-
And wilt thou leave me sad and lone ?
How shall I live when thou art gone ?
Whom shall I fondly love and trust ?
O, do not bow me to the dust ! " -
*' O no ! committed to thy care,
Thou hast thy children every where.
Their daily benefits will be
The comfort Brahma sends to thee.
And, dearest Mother ! thou art old -
Thy grains of life will soon be told ;
And what to me will then remain ?
My Lost will ne'er return again !
I through these lonely rooms shall roam
A living thing, whose heart hath with the dead its home.
Then, best and dearest, to my passion bend.
And let my sorrows have an honour*d end." -

" An honoured end will close her life,
Who was a good and faithful wife ;
Die when she will, the funeral flame
Gives but a fruitless fleeting fame," -
" I seek not fame, O say not so !
O, add not agony to woe !
Life would be death to me, and worse :
The inward working of remorse
Would make my day as darkness seem,
My haunted night a fearful dream.
For then he would be ever near.
And his upbraiding eyes appear
To glare upon a wife, whose love

Could not one moment rise above
Base fears, but from her last sad duty started
And left his lonely bier unhonour'd and deserted.'

All interchange of words were vain -
The Ranie answered not again ;
But long fix'd looks of anguish fell
Upon her Daughter's face, and well
Spoke that which language could not tell ;
While actions too did piteously entreat,
The Mother kneeling at her Daughter's feet : -
But all in vain ; nought may arrest
The purpose of her wounded breast.

The parent bent her to the cruel blow,
And left the dismal chamber sad and slow.
And, closely shut within her secret bowV,

With humble penitence and pray'r

Did her afflicted soul prepare
For the approaching, dreadful hour ;

Her pray'rs were heard, and mercy gave
A stinted strength the dreadful hour to brave.

That hour is come ; and from the palace gate
There issues forth, in melancholy state,
A gorgeous pageant. - Standards borne on high,
Mov'd by the fanning air, arrest the eye,
On which devices, trac'd in colours gay,
Emblems of ranks and races make display.
First portly Brahmins, sombre and profound.
Walk, loosely rob'd, with eyes cast on the ground.
Next turban'd chiefs, with fierce and warlike mien,
Cinctur'd with shawls and flashing arms, are seen ;
Then high authorities, the letter'd scribe,
And missioned men from many a different tribe,
Move slowly on, all rang'd in sad array,
Proceeding on their mournful, destin'd way,

With heavy steps, that from the ground
Send up a muffl'd, sullen sound.
Then doth from portal-arch appear,
Circl'd by friends, the stately bier,
On which the princely corse is laid.
In rich and splendid robes array'd,
Whose features, like to chisel'd stone,
Do still an awful beauty own.
The crowd on him intently gaze
And deeply murmur words of praise.
Anon they drop their eyes to find
The youthful Widow, close behind.
She mov'd, with brow and step sedate,
As one who of her lifeless mate
Alone had conscious thoughts, and she

Worthy appear'd his mate to be.
But when by priestly Brahmins stern and strong,
They saw their own lov'd Eanie led along,
On her at once all eager eyes were turn'd,
And grateful sympathy within each bosom burn'd :
Their inward sorrow broke through all restraint,
And all around a loud and mingl'd wailing sent.

Now onward as the long procession goes,
A diff'rent mournful harmony arose
From many instruments, whose mingl'd sound
Is floating on the air, and rising from the ground.

But when it reach'd the fatal spot,
All soft excitement was forgot :
A deep and solemn pause ensu'd.
Silence with strange mysterious awe embu'd.
Alas ! what measur'd words can tell

The anguish of their last farewell ?
When that young Widow with that Mother parted ?
From the intense embrace the younger started,
As if afraid. Her failing steps sustain'd,
The bier of death she has already gain'd,
Hath on her lap with gentle kindness plac'd
The lifeless head, and its cold form embrac'd.
To the heap'd pile the torch hath been applied,
And from between the faggots are discried
Pale curving streams of smoke, that wind and sweep.
Coil and uncoil, like serpents wak'd from sleep,
Then broad'ning and ascending hang on high,

A dusky, fearful canopy ;

While pointed tongues of flame belo\^
Burst forth ; and soon one gen'ral glow
Involves in fierce consuming fire,
Koaring and red, the funeral pyre.
Then drum and trumpet, cymbal, gong
And stringed viols, harsh and strong,
Discordant minstrelsy, begin
To raise a loud and deaf ning din ;
While faintly comes to fancy's ear
Shrieks from the burning bier.
Aye, there are dismal shrieks, I wot,
But from the flames proceeding not.

'Tis Ahalya in despair,
Who, though by friendly force restrain'd,
Convulsively hath freedom gain'd,
And beats her breast and tears her hair.
Her gnashing teeth and bleeding hand
Too plainly show that self-command
Is from her princely spirit taken.
Of all its wonted power forsaken.
And pause we here ! That noble mind
To dull unconsciousness was for a while consign'd.

But heaven's all-merciful and potent Lord
To health of mind the Eanie soon restor'd.
He rais'd again her drooping head ;
From him received, as from the dead,
The people saw their noble Dame,
And bade her hail with loud and long acclaim.
Still wasteful war, though raging round,
Within her precincts was not found.

The husbandman scarce turn'd his ear
Some far-off tale of blood to hear,
How bandits, on the distant border.
With bandits strove in wild disorder ;
Where sordid chiefs to robbers turn'd,
Made might their right, and justice spurn'd :
What cares he for their ceaseless coil ?
She lives and reigns who will protect his toil.

In sooth, o'er all the watch she kept 9,
And wak'd, and thought, when others slept.
When early dawn appear'd, she rose,
Nor longer would indulge repose.
But to herself (for she could read)
Grave books perus'd. Then would succeed
Hours of reflection and of pray'r.
That clear'd her mind and sooth'd her care ;
And oft her day, so well begun,
An easy, prosp'rous course would run.
Herself sagacious, firm, and just.
She put in others gen'rous trust ;
And when their merit well was prov'd.
Her ministers she ne'er remov'd.
With all the Rajah pow'rs of ev'ry nation.
From time to time, she held communication :
Could points of policy with art contest.
But ever lov'd the simple method best.
And in good sooth, to reason cool.
The. simplest was the wisest rule.
For who would venture to gainsay
Or doubt the faith of Ahalya Baee ?

To Death at last the mission'd power was giv'n
To call her hence ; her earthly ties were riv'n.
Through all the land a woeful wailing went.
From cot to cot, from town to village sent :
A tender woe, like which there is no other, -
Bereaved children weeping for a mother.
Her life and reign were clos'd in glory,
And thus concludes my Legend's faithful story.

 

For thirty years - her reign of peace -
The land in blessings did encrease ;
And she was bless'd by every tongue.
By stern and gentle, old and young.
And where her works of love remain.
On mountain pass, on hill or plain,
There stops the traveller a while.
And eyes it with a mournful smile.
With mutt'ring lips, that seem to say,
" This was the work of Ahalya Baee."

The learned Sage, who loves to muse,
And many a linked thought pursues,
Says to himself, and heaves a sigh
For things to come and things gone by.
" O that our restless chiefs, by misr'y school'd,
Would rule their states as that brave woman rul'd !'*
Yea, even children at their mothers' feet.
Are taught such homely rhyming to repeat ; -
" In better days, from Brahma came.
To rule our land, a noble Dame ;
Kind was her heart, and bright her fame.
And Ahalya was her honour'd name."

 

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Rasika29SindhuMenonSpringBreakers

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Posted: 10 June 2015 at 10:38am | IP Logged
Thanks Abhay for sharing info about Rajmata Ahilyabai Holkar...Smile

Just to add...The current Kashi Vishwanath temple of Varanasi was built by her...



Edited by Rasika29 - 10 June 2015 at 10:38am

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Posted: 10 June 2015 at 12:21pm | IP Logged
Originally posted by Rasika29

Thanks Abhay for sharing info about Rajmata Ahilyabai Holkar...Smile

Just to add...The current Kashi Vishwanath temple of Varanasi was built by her...



oh is it...thank u for sharing...I made Misal Pav last night, was a big hit

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Joined: 23 March 2014
Posts: 2323

Posted: 10 June 2015 at 12:40pm | IP Logged
Originally posted by SindhuMenon

Originally posted by Rasika29

Thanks Abhay for sharing info about Rajmata Ahilyabai Holkar...Smile

Just to add...The current Kashi Vishwanath temple of Varanasi was built by her...



oh is it...thank u for sharing...I made Misal Pav last night, was a big hit


Misal Pav was a hit...Thumbs Up
You are coming to India soon right?? It is a mango season going on here...enjoy them too...
And tomorrow I will tell you another fav recipe of mine that I tried making: Mango-coconut burfi...Big smile

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