Salman Rashid

Travel writer, Fellow of Royal Geographical Society

Puran Bhagat

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Raja Salvahan of Sialkot having sired his first-born, a son, called in the royal astrologers for advice. It was bizarre counsel that he received that day: he was to cloister his son away from himself for twelve years. For this period, the child was to see neither of his parents but be brought up by wet nurses and teachers.


That was what the stars ordained and so it came to pass. Time went by and twelve years later Puran, the prince of Sialkot, was brought into the presence of his father. The joyful king ordered wedding preparations, but young Puran of a philosophical bent of the mind, requested for a few more years for himself. This the king granted and bade the boy go to the private chambers to greet his mother.

Having paid respects to Queen Ichhran, Puran was led to the chamber of his step-mother Luna whom his father had wedded during the time of the prince’s confinement. Puran, lithe, youthful and breath-takingly handsome, however stirred lustful emotions in wicked Luna’s mind. She grabbed him and bid him lie with her. But the upright prince broke free and fled from her chamber.

That night when Salvahan came to her, the libellous woman tearfully reported that Puran had attempted to have his way with her. Outraged, the king ordered that his son be seized, his hands and feet chopped off and his body dumped in a well outside town. Royal bidding was done and so the hapless prince lay not yet dead but scarcely alive in his watery grave.

Twelve years dragged by until one day fortune brought the great Guru Goraknath to the well. Puran was discovered and the guru had him pulled out. Moved by the sorry tale of the prince, the guru ran his hands over the broken body to miraculously restore Puran to fullness of youth. Thereafter the prince joined the guru’s train to become a celebrated jogi himself.


In his new incarnation Puran visited the city of Sialkot where his mother Ichhran, now blind from weeping for her son, recognised him by his song. A tearful reunion ensued and presently Puran was taken to his father, a much sobered man for neither of his wives had presented him with a child since Puran. The jogi prince gave his father tidings of a son from Luna who would go on to become a great hero in the land. Not long after, Salvahan did indeed father Rasalu, the demon-slaying champion.

Since legend has Puran Bhagat predicting a birth, his well has come to be celebrated for its curative properties for infertile women. Regardless of religious belief, they flock here from distant corners of the land every Thursday to bathe in the sacred water in the hope of being cured.

In history we know that Salvahan ruled over Sialkot in the 1st century BCE. And that Guru Goraknath, founder of a still-extant sect of jogis, was the mentor not only of Puran Bhagat but of Raja Bhartari, the king of Ujjain who turned jogi. The passage of time has transformed historical figures and an actual event with fanciful embellishment. What is even more interesting is that the theme of libidinous step-mother and upright prince is repeated at Taxila and Badin in Pakistan, while Greek mythology also holds a similar story. One wonders if the idea originated on Aegean shores or in the shadow of the Himalayas.

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posted by Salman Rashid @ 12:00 AM,

8 Comments:

At December 23, 2016 at 12:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Admire ur knowledge of pre Islamic history..am surprised..since the same has been erased from your history books as per my knowledge

 
At December 23, 2016 at 5:54 PM, Blogger Salman Rashid said...

It has indeed been very systematically erased. They expunged it from textbooks but they could not from old works hidden away in most pre-Partition libraries. It took commitment and dedication together with hours and hours of work in dusty libraries to learn what we are.

 
At December 23, 2016 at 11:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fantastic read...Bilal

 
At December 25, 2016 at 8:10 AM, Anonymous Salman Rashid said...

Thank you very much, Bilal.

 
At December 25, 2016 at 6:36 PM, Blogger Zee Shk said...

Sir thank you so much for writing this, I cannot express my gratitude for your astonishing writing and I dream of a day when I will hear your adventures from your own self while sipping a great cup of tea. Thank you.

 
At December 26, 2016 at 2:55 PM, Anonymous Salman Rashid said...

Thank you very much, Zee Shk. You are very welcome to drop by whenever in Lahore.

 
At December 28, 2016 at 2:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been reading and exploring Mughal Building and Construction for about 8 years now and then I stumbled upon the treasure of this blog.
Thank you for preserving our heritage and identity.
Warm Regards, Ziya Khhan.

 
At December 28, 2016 at 4:22 PM, Anonymous Salman Rashid said...

Thank you, Ziya Khhan.

 

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My Books

Deosai: Land of the Gaint - New

The Apricot Road to Yarkand


Jhelum: City of the Vitasta

Sea Monsters and the Sun God: Travels in Pakistan

Salt Range and Potohar Plateau

Prisoner on a Bus: Travel Through Pakistan

Between Two Burrs on the Map: Travels in Northern Pakistan

Gujranwala: The Glory That Was

Riders on the Wind

Books at Sang-e-Meel

Books of Days