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17 January, 2005

Revenge of the Goddess

For baba, because he told me the legend when I was a kid
And for Anila Di, because she asked WHY


The Legend

In the medieval fort of Amer, home to ten generations of Kacchwaha rulers of Jaipur, stands the temple of Goddess Kali – known here as Sila Devi. The statue is carved out of a single rock of marble, jet black in color. From generations, the priests of the temple of Sila Devi are Bengalis, an absurdity, in the heart of Rajputana, hundreds of miles away from Bengal. Legend has it that the statue itself belonged to the Bara Bhuiyas (Bara – 12; Bhu –land; iya –owner) of Bengal.

There are many myths about how the statue of Sila Devi came to Amer from Bengal. The most popular one runs thus. After his successful campaigns in Deccan and Afghanistan, Raja Man Singh was commissioned by Akbar to expand the Mughal Empire eastwards. After overrunning Bihar and Orissa, the Mughal advance was halted at Bengal.

Bengal at that time was split into small fiefdoms, which were ruled by 12 Bhuiyas. These 12 Bhuiyas were not ordinary landowners, but small kings with armies of their own. Under the leadership of Isa Khan, the routed general of Orissa, they united and challenged the might of the Mughal Empire. 17 battles were fought, and the Moguls lost each time.

Then one day, the goddess Sila Devi, appeared in the dreams of Raja Man Singh and told him that as long as she sits in Bengal, he would never conquer it. According to the story, the goddess asked Man Singh to steal her statue from the temple in Bengal and install it in Amer.

The 17th attack of the Mughal army on Bengal, which happened after Man Singh, had stolen the statue, led to the fall of the Bhuiyas and Isa Khan. Mughal rule was extended over the entire East. After the conquest of Bengal, Man Singh had the statue of the goddess transported to Amer, where it sits till date, a silent witness to the turbulent events of history.


The Fiction

Man Singh watched the sun disappear behind the fort on the hill. The pale red walls of the fort seemed to glow mysteriously, the sun’s red light adding color to them. From the small window of his tent, he could see the river, meandering on its course, disappearing into the distant horizon. Thick mango and bamboo jungles covered the opposite bank and stretched up to the hill. And he could see the fort of Bikramgarh on top of that hill. Impregnable, unconquered and defiant.

The greenery of the place hurt his senses, which were used to the dry, arid, brown lands of Rajputana. Bengal defied his martial understanding in more ways than one. Man Singh was puzzled and worried.

Inside the tent, Man Singh’s council of war stood in a semi-circle, waiting for their leader to speak, or command them to speak. Bound by the ropes of respect and tradition, they would not breathe if their leader willed them not to. Five men, brave warriors, able generals, mighty soldiers, each of them, stood like school children in front of Raja Man Singh, Commander in chief of the Mughal forces attacking Bengal.

Outside could be heard the myriad noises that are part of an army 50,000 strong. Neighing of horses, trumpeting of elephants, distant shouts of men on the watch, horses’ hoofs – messengers leaving and returning to the camp, clinking of metal as men removed their armors, an occasional laugh, a retort, a shout, groans, whispers – distinct yet miscellaneous. But this noise, combined in strength found itself weak and incapable of intruding upon the ominous silence within the tent. It just hung around at the edge of the tent, like a playful child that wants to make its elders aware of its presence and yet is afraid of the consequences.

Finally Man Singh spoke, his voice heavier than the sword he held, more powerful than his arms. “Twelve times Zorawar Singh. Twelve times we have been defeated by Isa khan and the Bhuiyas. The Mughal name is being laughed at across the world. Rajput valour is being doubted. In Delhi, the Jahanpanah grows impatient. The morale of our men is broken. We have more men, we have more cavalry and yet victory remains elusive to us. What magic or witchcraft is this? What erroneous strategy of war makes us fall every time?”

Zorawar Singh, trusted lieutenant, veteran of many battles, with more wound marks on his body than hair on his head, chose to remain silent. He had no answer to his master’s questions. No one in the room had any answer.

Six months ago, Emperor Akbar had decided to expand the Mughal Empire into the East. Mughal rule was at the height of glory, extending far into Afghanistan in the west and up to Sri Lanka in the south. The east however still remained out of reach and the province of Bengal, queen of the east, a land rich and fertile would be a key conquest. Man Singh was put in charge of the army, with some of the bravest Mughal and Rajput generals under his command.

But the campaign had proved to be an ill-fated one till now. The fort of Bikramgarh, which stood at the gate of the road to Bengal, proved to be impregnable. Battle after battle was lost to the united forces of Bengal’s 12 Bhuiyas and Isa Khan the Afghan general. The Mughal army, though battle hardened, was unused to the ruthless, wily, guerrilla tactics of the Afghans and Bhuiyas.

Man Singh recalled the last battle that they fought. Where victory had eluded them so narrowly and he had lost his son Durjansingh. The Mughal army, under Durjan’s command, had crossed the river and was attacking in full strength. They encountered the Afghans at the base of the hill. Durjan’s strategies allowed the Mughals to out-maneuver the Afghans. They fought with skill and bravery, avoiding previous mistakes.

The Mughals had managed to break the enemy formation, destroy its right and left flanks and were driving the center back to the gates of Bikramgarh. The battle had been pitched and fierce. The ground had become slippery with blood, and men were stepping on the bodies of their fallen comrades, killing, stabbing, and cutting without mercy. The Afghan army was bound to fall that day, and the Mughal flag would have flown on the fort. Durjan, the brave general was standing in the middle of the bloodbath, where the fighting was thickest, directing his men, cutting down the enemy like grass.

And then suddenly, an arrow, perhaps in a fluke, pierced straight through Durjan's left eye and passed into his brain. Durjan Singh died on the spot. Seeing their commander fall, the Mughals lost nerve and in an instant the tide of the battle was turned. The Afghan’s seized the moment, and attacked the Mughals with a renewed vigour. And now the victor became the victim, the slayers were being slain; the pushers were being pushed back. By evening, the last of the Mughal soldiers had scurried back across the river and the twelfth battle for Bikramgarh was lost.

“Something must be done to break the alliance of the Bhuiyas and Afghans. Bikramgarh must fall at all cost. Mughal prestige and Rajput honor is at stake” Man Singh’s voice, tempered with the turbulence within, shook the entire tent. He now had a personal agenda. The death of his son must be avenged. Rajput blood could not go vain. How would he return to his subjects in Jaipur if he could not win the fort for which their beloved prince had laid his life?

“Hukum, the goddess protects Bikramgarh. The fort will not fall as long as the goddess Sila Devi remains on her seat in the temple. That is the legend.” It was Himmatsingh, the younger brother of Durjan.

“Then we will fulfill the legend. The goddess will leave her abode. Bikramgarh must fall to us at any cost.” Man Singh was talking to himself. Then he fell abruptly silent. His generals, used to read their leader’s every move and motion, understood that he wanted solitude. They bowed and left his tent quietly.

Alone in his tent, he went and stood near his window, watching the silhouette of Bikramgarh with wishful eyes. “We must fulfill the legend. But how?”, and Raja Man Singh, farzand-i-akbari, lord of Amer fort, leader of the bravest warriors of Hindustan, had no answer to his own question.

Meanwhile, inside the fort of Bikramgarh, beyond the heavily guarded gates, past the massive watch towers, far from the encampments of the Bengal and Afghan armies, and the palaces of Isa khan and the 12 Bhuiyas, at the farthest corner of the fort, where the walls overlooked the sheer precipice of the hill, in an area so desolate and unapproachable that it was left unmanned, two figures could be seen silently approaching in the darkness from two different directions.

In the dark it was difficult to see their faces, but from their figures and their gait it was evident that one was a woman and the other a man.

“Good evening my Princess. How are you doing today?” as they met, the man bowed and said, his tone respectful yet amorous. And then with a suddenness of one used to it, he pulled her closer, removed her veil and kissed her on her cheeks.

At that moment, a pale light from the moon revealed her face. It was truly the face of a princess, strikingly fair, with large blue lotus eyes, jet black hair, curved eyelashes, a shapely neck and a graceful figure.

The man was tall, with broad well-developed shoulders and muscular arms, which were more used to handle swords and spears than princely damsels. An Afghan beard on his sun-burnt, martial face hid the numerous cuts, mementos of the battles he had fought.

“Tell me princess, why have you asked me to come now? These are dangerous times for all of us. We must not be seen together at this time.” The man said in a hushed voice, without releasing the woman from his embrace.

Princess Sheela laughed a slow, mocking laugh, which made a sound like crystal pieces falling on rocks. They echoed over the hills and died. The man was much disturbed at this, and tried to silence her.

“I am sorry my lord. But it is hilarious to see the brave and mighty Isa Khan, leader of the ferocious Afghans being scared of what what the world would think or say to him. Where are the promises that you made to me in our first meeting, that you will love me and come to me always, that you will protect me from everyone and everything and give me whatever I want? Has the Afghan blood lost its thickness? Have the heirs of Sher Shah Suri lost their prowess and become wimps with bangles in their hand?”

“Princess, do not make false accusations. Isa Khan will be dead before he breaks his word. I have not yet done anything that you speak thus. And it is not for anything else but for the sake of the Afghan-Bhuiya unity that I advise caution at this time. The Mughal’s sit at our doorstep, baying for our blood, and it is just our unity that stands between us and death.”

“This is not the time to indulge in personal matters. Allah knows I love you but I do not want to confront your brother right now. You are a princess yourself. Do you not understand the political implications of this relationship?” the Afghan urged her, his voice soft yet authoritative and impatient.

“My brother! I hate my brother!” the princess spoke with a sudden vehemence, and their was sheer hate in her eyes. “The blood of our beloved father is on his head. He should be hanging from the fort walls instead of sitting on the throne of Bikramgarh.”

Memories of her slain father flooded to her mind and brought tears in her eyes. Bikram Bhuiya, mighty king, able ruler and a beloved father of his own children and his subjects, had fallen prey to the ambitions of his son Rajan. Having treacherously slain his father, with the help of his henchmen, Rajan Bhuiya had ascended the throne of Bikramgarh and now ruled with an iron hand. He was powerful, yet shrewd and loathsome. He was hated as much as his father was loved, by the subjects. But he sat on the throne of Bikramgarh and ruled through treachery and sheer reign of terror.

Bikramgarh lay at the entrance of Bengal, near the river Ganges. It was the guardian of both the water and road routes into Bengal and farther east. Legend has it, that goddess Kali had appeared in a dream to Raja Bikram Bhuiya and directed him to the location where Bikramgarh stands today. Here the king had dug, and unearthed a black statue of the goddess. Here he had built a fort impregnable and strong, blessed by the black goddess – Sila Devi. The Bhuiyas and all people in the land believed that as long as the goddess sat in her abode in Bikramgarh, the fort would remain unconquered.

When the news of the Mughal campaign reached his ears, Rajan Bhuiya had called a counsel of the 11 other Bhuiyas, local kings, of Bengal. The other Bhuias knew of Rajan’s treacherous rise to power. They had no faith in him. But the defense of Bikramgarh was important for entire Bengal. And they had faith in the legend. So it was more to protect their own fiefdoms, and to uphold the legend, than to help Rajan Bhuiya, that the 12 Bhuiyas had united under one banner to resist the Mughals.

Then Rajan Bhuiya made another move. He invited the Afghan general of Orissa, Isa Khan to protect Bikramgarh for a fee. There was a huge uproar at the council of the Bhuiyas. The Afghans were an equal enemy as the Mughals. They were not to be trusted. They had no respect for Hindu women, desecrated temples and tried to ruthlessly convert Hindus to Islam. The other Bhuiyas had almost decided to overthrow Rajan Bhuiya and the alliance was threatened.

But Rajan Bhuiya was a smooth talker. In the council he argued forcefully and with the sly logic that was his forte. The Mughal army was strong and the Bhuiyas alone would not hold. The Afghans were hired mercenaries. They knew how to kill. Why not let them die, why not let them shed blood, for money. He was just trying to safeguard the interest of Bengal’s armies, even if his coffers were emptied. Let the Bengal armies be a second line of defense. They should trust him. He had the best interest of everyone at heart.

No one trusted Rajan Bhuiya, but the prompt arrival of Isa and his Afghan regiment resolved matters on their own. The Afghans would not have taken it nicely if their assignment had been cancelled. So Isa Khan stayed. And Rajan Bhuiya’s judgment, at least for the moment, proved good. The Mughal approach was halted by the combined strength of the Afghan bravery and Bhuiya strategy.

Isa Khan had his hands full, both on and off, the battlefield. He was not only an able and brave general, but also a pious Muslim and a gentleman at heart. His chief concern was winning over the trust of the local Hindu population within the fort. And for this he made strict rules for his regiment, ensuring that they never ventured outside their tenements and followed a strict code of conduct. But his efforts were treated with suspicion and the only hospitality that the Afghans received in the fort was a cold shoulder from the locals, and silent acceptance of their presence.

But where he made strict rules for his men and dared them to transgress these, he personally erred. He fell in love with a Hindu damsel. It would be unfair to blame Isa for this; if at all love is a crime for which some one is to be blamed. He had not taken any initiative. In the grounds behind the palace where he was staying, Isa used to exercise alone. Here he often found, a certain pair of blue eyes watching him. At first he paid no attention, but when this continued without fail, he became curious. The upshot of this entire affair was that Isa Khan found himself in the perilous position of being in love with his employer’s sister, the beautiful princess Sheela. The lady claimed that she had heard many lores of Isa’s bravery and wanted to see him in person. In her first meeting, she had given her heart to the handsome Afghan, irreverent of the consequences.

Isa was young and had a noble heart. His love and enchantment for the blue-eyed maiden was complete. And the princess made him promise everything that a young man of Isa disposition could and would promise. This was many weeks ago. In a short span their love blossomed and as it did, it troubled Isa more and more.

That evening, Isa had barely returned to his tent from the battlefield when a messenger had come with a note from the princess. His battle hardened instincts, on which he had trusted his life on numerous occasions, screamed at him not to go. But Isa was bound by his honor to come at the princess’s call. And so he went.

“Tell me princess, why have you called me here? It is late and I am tired after the battle. I have not yet washed my wounds.” Isa said uncomfortably.

“My lord, my life. I wish to ask something from you. Will you give it to me?”

“Princess this Afghan has promised you his life. Command and you shall have it.”

“No my lord, all I ask is for a token of your love. As long as this battle continues my heart is at unrest. I cannot see you, I cannot meet you. I need something that will give me company when you are gone. Your ring my lord, with your seal on it. Give it to me.” Sheela looked at Isa with water in her eyes and an expression of utmost helplessness in her face.

A loud voice inside him shouted NO. But Isa heard himself saying “Of course princess, what is the value of this ring, compared to the turbulence of your lovely heart. It is luckier than I for it shall forever be near you.” And as in a dream, he saw himself remove his ring, with his seal on it, and hand it to her.

The temple of the goddess Sila Devi was at the summit of a small hillock inside Bikramgarh. It was as if from her high seat, the goddess kept a vigil on all her subjects below. Activities at Bikramgarh revolved around the temple. People marked time by the huge bell of the temple.

Every morning at 4 AM, the auspicious brahmamuhurta, the king would bathe and then walk up the hill to start the morning pooja of the goddess. Bikramgarh’s day started after that. And it ended when high on the hill the chief priest sounded the gong signifying that the goddess was now going to bed.

The rulers of Bikramgarh were forbidden to touch their swords before performing the pooja each morning. Rajan Bhuiya understood the political implications of this ritual. Unlike his father, his subjects had a strong dislike for him. But they were deeply religious and superstitious. They would dare not rise against him as long as they thought that he was blessed by the goddess. And therefore he followed this ritual assiduously each morning, with twice the pomp and show than his father would have approved.

On the night that princess Sheela met Isa Khan, below in the Mughal camp Raja Man Singh lay awake, looking out into the black night. He was tired yet restless. Sleep refused to obey his orders. His mind worked actively, formulating and rejecting plan after plan of breaking into Bikramgarh. Without, all was silent and he could hear the measured footsteps of his guards. The faint glow of the fire that burnt outside his tent, threw an orange light which made his weapons gleam ominously. He could hear the logs break and make snapping noises as they burnt.

Hark! What was that? Did he hear a footstep out of measure? An extra movement close by? Battle hardened reflexes made him sit upright, one hand at his dagger.

But the sound was gone. Perhaps a figment of his imagination. But he still got up to check. And his feet hit an object on the ground. It was a wooden casket, evidently of royal origin, intricately carved, very feminine. Inside was a note:

“The goddess shall leave her abode tomorrow at the first stroke of the morning. She commands you to attack at the second stroke. Bring few but brave men. Move swiftly. The enemy shall be unprepared. Victory will be yours. This is the divine will, ignore this and lose your chance to win the fort forever”

Man Singh read it twice. And then he shouted for his council of war. The Mughal camp was thrown into a frenzy of hushed activity in the dead of the night.

Early in the morning, in the fort of Bikramgarh, everyone, including the Afghan soldiers, knew that something was seriously amiss. Instead of the sound of the conch and the bell, there was an ominous silence at the hill. And then suddenly, they could see a horde of Bengal soldiers ride down towards the palace of Isa khan, with Rajan Bhuiya and the 11 others at there head.

“Isa Khan, you traitor, you unfaithful bastard come out.” Rajan Bhuiya was in a fit of rage. Behind him there were 50 men in Isa’s courtyard and more were gathering. The news was spreading like wildfire across the fort. The goddess had been stolen from the temple. The unspeakable had happened. The mother had abandoned her children.

People whispered in each others’ ears in horror and sadness. And then, another news spread, with equal rapidity. Isa Khan’s ring, with his official seal had been discovered in the chamber of the goddess. Their worst fear had come true. They should never have trusted the Afghans. They should never have let these treacherous snakes inside. Temple desecration was their habit, it was in there blood.

The Mughals were forgotten. A bigger enemy was within the gates and he must be thrown out first. And the goddess must be recovered from him. Oh what shame had visited Bikramgarh. It was all Rajan Bhuiya’s doing.

Rajan Bhuiya realized he was in a very precarious position. He knew this, the instant he saw the statue missing and the ring on the temple floor. He could not believe that Isa Khan would do such a dastardly act. But right now there was nothing he could do. If he didn’t act fast enough, there would be an uprising against him.

Isa appeared on the verandah, “Why do you call me names, my lord. I am in your employment but I am not your subject.” He said in a dignified yet alarmed tone. He could not understand the reason for the chaos.

“You traitor, you eat our salt, share our bread and then you desecrate our temples. Now you ask me in cold blood why I speak to you thus? Isa Khan, you have challenged the dignity of our house. Return to us the statue and leave now. You are our guest and your life shall be spared.” Rajan Bhuiya glared at him, with affected anger.

“What statue. I know nothing of the matter.” Said Isa, completely perplexed at the sudden turn of events. He could not understand how they could even think that his soldiers would do such a thing. He was enraged by Rajan’s threat, “And do not threaten me my lord. You know that your threats do not hold against the strength of my Afghans. I pray I am innocent.”

“He is a liar. He is a thief. Kill him kill him”, the mob was becoming increasingly ferocious. Rajan held them at bay.

“You say you are innocent. Then explains this ring to us” and he held up Isa’s ring in the air for him to see.

Isa Khan recognized his ring from afar. The same ring that he had parted from last night. But how did it land up in the temple? Ya Allah, What treachery was this? The truth dawned on Isa khan with a sudden blow, as if a spear had passed through his heart. The many mortal wounds that he had faced in battle felt incomparable to the stab that he felt that moment. Nothing had prepared him for this searing pain of treachery.

‘He is a thief. The Afghan. Kill him kill him “The mob was growing bigger. The general resentment against Muslim presence, held in check for so many months, suddenly overflowed. There was chaos in the streets, mayhem ruled. Bengal soldiers and peasants surrounded the Afghan tenement. All memories of blood shed on the battlefield, of lives saved and battles won, were forgotten in one single act, unperformed.

And at that very hour, when the walls of Bikramgarh were unmanned because the men were fighting each other on the streets, when the roads to it were unwatched because the watchers were baying for Afghan blood and the gates were unguarded because the Afghan regiment was busy defending itself, at that moment, a small band of Mughals and Rajputs, crept silently up the hill. They had been moving slowly, for the better half of the past hour. Finally they made a dash for the walls of the fort. Mughal warriors scaled the walls silently, and threw the gates of Bikramgarh open.

It was an easy task for Man Singh and his men. He attacked with force and speed, and the enemy taken by surprise, unprepared, entangled in its own web was dead even before they realized what was happening. Mughal forces poured into the streets of Bikramgarh, and before noon, Bikramgarh had fallen.

In the courtyard of Isa khan’s palace, lay slain, soaked in each others blood, Rajan Bhuiya and Isa khan, the former succumbing to his own game of murder, the latter a mere victim of fate.

When Man Singh reached the palace, he found Isa khan’s eyes open. He thought he noticed a question in those dead eyes. As if they were asking “why?”. Rajamansingh, having heard much about the bravery and valour of this man, pitied that he died thus, and shut those eyes forever with his hand.

Below the hill of Bikramgarh, a little inside the woods, two young women stood watching. When they saw the Mughal flag on the fort, they started moving again, towards the river. One of them was carrying a bundle wrapped in clothes, apparently heavy and bulky.

When they reached the river, a boat was waiting. Princess Sheela turned around and told the woman carrying the bundle, as one used to giving commands “You have your instructions. Now go and leave me alone. My job is done. My father’s blood avenged. Today Rajan Bhuiya lies soaked in his own blood, like he once did to my father” and her eyes shone with a strange faraway look. There was an absurd mixture of victory and sadness in them. The lotus eyes that had enchanted Isa Khan looked like looked like black holes, absorbing light and not letting out any expression of the turbulence within...

When Man Singh returned to his tent that night, he was far from happy. They had won but it had not been through valour or bravery, which was what a Rajput’s definition of victory was. There were no wounds on his men’s bodies. It had been a massacre. And he was puzzled by the entire affair. Questions, hundreds of them, arose in his mind, ricocheted on the walls and then died.

As he entered, he again knew that something was amiss. And then he saw the bundle. Wrapped in white cloth. And without opening it he knew what it was. He knelt before it, the mighty general, in all humility, and prayed.

“Zorawar Singh” he called sometime later.

“Hukum,” Zorawaar entered and bowed.

“This is the statue of Sila Devi. Take it to Amer and install it there in a temple. She shall rule from there henceforth. “

“Yes, hukum” and Zorawar left with the statue.

“It is the will of the goddess. We are mere pawns on her chessboard. We must not ask questions. We must keep doing as we are told” he said aloud, perhaps to his sword and shield, or perhaps to his conscience. And Raja Man Singh closed his eyes. Bikramgarh had fallen. Sleep finally came to him.

The Facts

This story has no historical authenticity. I have borrowed from history and legend these characters, incidents and events, to stitch this tale. There is no fort in the province of Bengal by the name of Bikramgarh. The number of battles that Man Singh fought before he won Bengal is unconfirmed. Elementary research showed the following events/incidents are true and have historical records.

Under the command of Raja Man Singh, the Mughal army attacked various provinces of Bengal, between the period of 1556 and 1560. Most of these ended in a fiasco for the Mughals. The 12 bhuiyas became famous in the history of Bengal for there ability to withhold Mughal expansion into Bengal for a long period of time.

Eventually, the Bhuiyas fell to the Mughals. In one of these struggles, Man Singh lost his son Durjan Singh. Also involved in these series of battles was the Afghan General Isa Khan Masnad-i-Ala. Isa Khan fought Man Singh a number of times, sometimes alone and sometimes alongside the Bhuiyas.

The statue of Goddess Sila Devi originally belonged to the Pala kings of Bengal. The most likely reason of its transport from Bengal to Rajasthan is the large-scale temple desecration that Afghan chieftains were indulging in, across entire eastern India, during this period. Historians believe that the Hindu priests of the temple of Sila Devi had singled out Man Singh for sanctuary, because of his unique religious and political combination.

There are records which show that there existed, during this same time, a very beautiful damsel, princess Sheela. She was the eldest daughter of one of the Bhuiyas. Not many details are known about her, except that she was a lady of exceptional beauty and intelligence. Princess Sheela committed suicide by jumping into the Ganga.

11 Comments:

Blogger Pragya said...

Wow! This was such an absorbing read, so vividly portrayed. I could picture all the scenes being enacted as I read. Loved it!

17 January, 2005 04:10  
Blogger bikkuri-bako said...

wow! ami you beat me to it!!!!! and did a very good job of it.
among the many cities i spent my growing up years in jaipur has a special place. you brought back some nice memories.the family prayed at the amer temple. the legend of kali from bengal in amer has always fascinated me. awesum! i would love to hear others from you!
:-)

17 January, 2005 12:47  
Blogger manisha lakhe said...

keep killing exposition ami...it kills the flow of an otherwise good story...takes one back to amar chitra katha days!

17 January, 2005 20:13  
Blogger Ami Titash said...

Thanks Pragya, Bikkuri and Manisha for your comments. Hope I can meet your expectations everytime.

Point noted Manisha, guess I was too much in love with the entire plot so kept writing. Will keep that in mind next time. :)

regards
Ami

18 January, 2005 08:24  
Blogger Dan Husain said...

Ami, our more illustrious caferati colleagues have said it already.. I merely echo the same. However, if you're in Delhi then do come to see the play I am acting in..Badal Sircar's "Ballabhpur Ki Roopkatha".. which uses the BaraBhuiyan's legend as a backdrop. Hilarious play. You'll love it. The play is on Feb 26th and 27th at Shri Ram Centre. For more details be in touch.

18 January, 2005 16:03  
Blogger khuto said...

This is of course a great story -- but more than that, it is the sensitivity and the setting of the story that sets it apart. Especially those of us who write in English have this firang attitude, which comes from reading too much European history in our schools, not only as history but more perniciously as literature, worldnews, cultural news etc. We see so little of India in our English lit, that it is truly a pleasure to see such a well-crafted story -- you must really get it out there not only as a published form, but eventually into our school textbooks...

18 January, 2005 23:36  
Blogger Ami Titash said...

Thanks a lot Dan and Khuto. Very nice of you guys to say such positive things about the story. :)

Dan, I would have loved to attend the play but unfortunately I wont be able to make it on the 26th to Delhi. Thanks again for the invitation.

Kind Regards
Titash

19 January, 2005 09:12  
Blogger Geetanjali said...

:-) Won't say anything, except I told you so...

19 January, 2005 13:09  
Blogger livinghigh said...

amazingly engaging read, buddy!
but maybe you spent too much time and apec on providing the backgropund of Akbar's campaign and Man Singh and Isa Khan's backgrounds - I would have ended at Sheela at the river. But hey, sorry for being such a critic - loved the piece for its sheer scale and magic! ;-)

19 January, 2005 19:25  
Blogger Ami Titash said...

Hi livinghigh,

Thanks for your comments. Your criticisms are most welcome buddy. Thats the reason I post here.

Anyways, I just wanted to share the knowledge I had about Akbar and Mansingh, but I guess I got a bit carried away. Anyways, I will keep that in mind next time.

Thanks Again
Titash

20 January, 2005 15:21  
Blogger MohuaS said...

hi ami. rivetting read. i like the way you have woven the two parallel tracks bringing them to a final union. you have captured the feeling of a bygone an era without having too much time to do so. beautiful.

22 January, 2005 14:47  

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