Maher Jawan Mard
Approximately, four hundred years ago, the districts of Dhak and Ghumli, in Kathiyawar, were ruled by the Jethwas. The Rana Sahib’s daughter was married to the Ra of Junagadh. Kandhalji was a well known figure throughout Saurashtra. He was a leader and one of the elders for the Odedra clan in the Maher Community. Kandhalji had a place in the Royal Courts of the Jethwas and was very much respected and admired in the Royal Palace.
A time came when the Rana Sahib and Kandhalji had different views on a matter. Kandhalji did not agree with the way in which the King was conducting his rule. He informed the King of how he felt and left the Royal Court. He left for the Kingdom of Junagadh where the Ra reigned.
As time went on, the Ra was blessed with a son. The Ra, being the Rana Sahib’s son-in-law, decided to ask for the village of Dhak in Dowry. (In those days if a son was born, a dowry was paid by the mother’s father to the proud father of the son.) The Ra sent a message expressing his intention for Dhak. The Rana Sahib became very concerned about this matter. The Jethwa Dynasty had reigned Dhak for 500 years and had lost many lives in doing so. He couldn’t bear the thought of telling the people of Dhak that he was going to give the area to a new ruler and he couldn’t also bear the thought of refusing his son-in-law’s wish.
The Jethwa decided that it would be best if he asked Kandhalji, who was now living the Kingdom of Junagadh, to help him to negotiate with the Ra. The Jethwa sent a message to the Ra informing him that he would do what ever Kandhalji agrees to.
The Ra was confident that Kandhalji would not let him down and would agree to what ever he demanded. Kandhalji was summoned to the Ra’s Royal Court. Kandhalji appeared before the Ra who read him the letter that was sent by the Jethwa. Kandhalji listened very carefully to what the Jethwa had written. After the letter was read the Ra spoke -“Kandhalji, see how your Jethwa shakes and runs like the ocean waves! See how Jethwa’s strength weakens!”
Kandhalji stood up and shouted “Ra! Dhak is my motherland. The hand of a daughter can be asked but the hand of a mother is never asked!” (His eyes filled with water)
The Ra proclaimed ” Kandhalji, you dare raise your voice at me! You have eaten enough from Junagadh’s plate! I give you three days to run as far as you can. So go Kandhalji, run. On the fourth day I will find you from where ever you are and kill you!”
Kandhalji then took out his sword and drew three parallel lines – “This is day one, day two and this is day three – now Ra do as you please. Try killing this Maher in front of you!”
“No Kandhalji, I will not kill you that easily. If I kill you here history will say that I killed you in my own house!”
Kandhalji turned around and walked out of the Royal Courts. Outside stood waiting his horse which he got on and rode out. As Kandhalji headed back to the Jethwas, he came to Vantheli. This was the village of the Muslim Nageri Rajputs. On that day nine hundred grooms were waiting to be married. The village was filled with great celebrations and joyful folk songs. As Kandhalji got nearer, the village elders looked on. The horse had white froth dropping from its mouth and the body was soaked in sweat. The village braves quickly ran towards the horse making it stop in front of them.
Kandhalji asked” ..Do you know me?”
The village elders replied” Of course dear friend. Who has not heard of the great Kandhalji! We cannot let you go from here today without being our guest.
“Dear friend, I cannot take your invitation, I have the armies of Junagadh after me.”
“If we let you go now our pride and honor is at stake!”
“Thank you friend but I cannot allow these marriages to be disrupted.”
The elders said, “our roles are on the battlefield! Not at the marriages”
The Nageri’s insisted that Kandhalji must stay in their village. They asked Kandhalji to go out of sight when the Army arrived. Kandhalji was asked to go high onto the water-tank tower. The Nageri Rajput men then took to their swords, shields and spears then stood waiting, at the mouth of Vantheli, for the Ra’s Army.
Shortly, after a few hours and huge cloud of dust covered the area and there stood the Raar’s army. Straight away the Nageri Rajputs attacked. The battle began. The clutter of swords and shields could be heard from miles away. Hundreds of men including nine hundred grooms lost their lives in the battle. The village of Vantheli was bellowing with mourning of brothers, sons, husbands and fathers.
One women below the water-tank tower shouted ” See how our men laid their lives for that man locked in the tower!” Hearing this Kandhalji kicked open the doors of the tower and jumped down. Pulling both of his swords from his side Kandhalji began to swing his swords from side to side, cutting and slicing the enemy into half. It was as if he was possessed with the strength of Shiva. Those who came close went falling to the ground. His swords were swinging so fast that it seemed that a shield was surrounding his body. But suddenly a sword came swiping Kandhalji head off his body. The head went rolling across the ground. But even though his head lay on the ground his body kept going. Blood squirting in every direction the body went on fighting for two miles (1 gaw). An elder from the Vantheli village shouted “Sprinkle some ‘Guri’ on the body.” As soon as the ‘Guri’ was sprinkled, the body fell to the ground like a sack of potatoes.
The spot where Kandhalji lost his life fighting is worshipped by many people including the Mahers and the Nageris. Kandhalji’s land which was on the bank of the River Umbudh was presented to the Nageri Rajputs and is to this day farmed by the Nageri Rajput Munja Vur family.
The decedents of Kandhalji live in the village of Fatana and are known as the ‘Ji’ family. At times of marriage the family still give one ‘cori’ (approx. 1 ‘pawla’) kurr to the Nageri Rajputs. The Nageri Rajputs of Vantheli, are to this present day considered Brothers of the Odedra Mahers.
Article supplied by Kishan V Sisodia