Today’s story is about one of the principal deities of Sindh – Jhulelal, who was born to liberate the Sindhi people from the tyrannical rule of an Islamic fanatic ruler called Mirkshah.
The abundance of water from these perenial rivers often brought foreign invaders to Sindh. One such ruler was Mirkshah. Mirkshah gave the people of Sindh forty days to embrace Islam or die. The people prayed to Lord Varuna – the god of the river – to deliver them from their miseries. On the fortieth day, their prayers were answered and Lord Varuna spoke through a voice from heaven, “Fear not, I shall save you from the wicked Mirkshah. I shall come down as a mortal and take birth in the womb of Mata Devki in the house of Ratanchand Lohano of Nasarpur.” The oppressed Hindus now eagerly awaited the birth of their deliverer.
On Cheti Chand, two tithis from the new moon of Chaitra, Mata Devki gave birth to a boy, from whose mouth the Sindhu gushed out when the boy opened his mouth to cry. On that water sat an old man on the pala fish – which always swims against the current.
The child was named Udaichand – meaning moon beams – he was their light in the dark days of oppression. The baby was also named Uderolal – in Sanskrit this means “one who has sprung from water”. When the baby was put in the cradle, the cradle rocked by itself. Following this miracle, this baby boy was also called Jhulelal – Jhula means cradle/swing. (Mata Devki had died at childbirth.)
When Mirkshah heard of this mysterious child, he summoned his soldiers and repeated his threat. The people pleaded for more time and begged Mirkshah to let their saviour grow up. Mirkshah arrogantly said “I will wait till I make your leader embrace Islam and then all you will follow him.” Mirkshah ordered one of his ministers, Ahirio to go and find out more about this child. Ahirio took a poisoned rose to the child. The child blew that rose away and immediately transformed into an old man with a long beard, and then into a very handsome lad of sixteen, and then the lad was on a hroseback and behind him were rows and rows of warriors. Ahirio was convinced that this child was a very powerful child. He went back and relayed his findings to Mirkshah, but Mirkshah was disbelieving of this incident.
Finally, as Jhulelal grew up, Mirkshah gave orders to his men to arrest him. When he was brought to the court in shackles, a very strange incident happened. The lower part of the king’s castle was flooding while the upper story caught fire at the same time. Then Mirkshah heard a voice “Your God and my God are the same, Why did you persecute my people? Think about it!” Mirkshah agreed to not bother the people of Sindh anymore, and both the flood and the fire disappeared at once. This way, Jhulelal saved all the people’s lives and their beliefs.
When Jhulelal gave up his body, there was a dispute about whether a shrine or a mosque must be built in his memory. When the people remained divided on this issue, another voice was heard “Let one side of the structure resemble a temple, and let the other resemble a mosque”. Thus Jhulelal was a unifying force among the people of Sindh. Even today all Sindhis – irrespective of whether they are Hindu/Muslim – worship Jhulelal and greet each other “Jhulelal Bera-Hee-Paar” meaning “May Jhulelal help you cross the ocean of SamsAra”.
The people who lived along the banks of the Sindhu river were called Sindhis. When the Persian invaders attacked India from Sindh, they called us the Hindus. So the word Hindu is coined from the river Sindhu. That is how we get our current identity. Sindh is now a part of Pakistan (sadly).