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Toral, Woman and a Mare!

About Amrit Ganger

Amrit Gangar is a Mumbai-based poet, raconteur, curator and historian. He is curatorially engaged with the National Museum of Indian Cinema being set up in Mumbai. He has written several books in English and Gujarati on cinema and Mumbai city, besides having edited and co-edited a number of books. Recently his book Rupantar has won the Gujarat Sahitya Akademi award.
For the past decade he has been engaged with his theoretical concept of Cinema Prayoga and has presented it at various venues in India and abroad. He has been on juries of numerous film festivals. He is on the international advisory board of the Moving Image Review & Art Journal (MIRAJ) published from London.

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In the town of Anjar, near Kandla port in Kachchh, there are the tombs of Jesal and Toral. The locals jointly call it the Jesar-Tori Samadhi in Kachchhi. A dreadful legend is attached to these tombs about their movement towards each other and the end of the world!  This legend is deeply dipped into a collective faith. But who was Jesal? This question would spring up naturally and immediately. So, our story would begin from Jesal and not Toral. Listen.

Jesal was a dacoit! In the middle of the fourteenth century, he terrified the people of Kachchh and its surrounding areas. The story is that, when he heard about a fine mare called Tori belonging to one Sanstiyaji, living in the village Saladi in Kathiawar, Jesal was tempted to steal her. But there was yet another Tori. She was Sanstiyaji’s extremely charming wife Torande, who incidentally was also known as Tori. Though leading a worldly life, Torande had detached herself from it and was well known as a saint poetess. The dacoit had no consideration for all these.

On one jagran night, Jesal reached Sanstiyaji’s village when the folks were busy performing puja in the common square. His entry into the stable in the nocturnal pitch dark startled Tori, the mare and she ran away uprooting the nail to which she was tied up. She was brought back into the stable by a servant who tried to replace the nail. But Jesal had hidden himself under a heap of fodder and the nail had pierced his palm. Brave, he faced the terrible pain without uttering a word. Without moving an inch, he lay there writhing in pain. When the puja was over, someone distributing the prasad heard the screams of Tori, the mare. He went into the stable and to his astonishment found Jesal, with his palm bleeding profusely. The kind man removed the nail from Jesal’s palm, treated him and gave him prasad. Although Jesal confessed his true identity, everyone was appreciative of his great courage and endurance. It was then that Sanstiyaji’s charming wife Tori decided to try and transform the dacoit into a pious man.

Through her devotional songs, Tori tried to convince him that the path he had taken was not right. She even showed her readiness to go with him if he changed himself from a dreaded dacoit to a dedicated devotee. Jesal agreed and they started their journey towards Kachchh. On the way, when they were crossing the sea by boat, they were trapped in a fierce storm; the sea had tuned insane. Tori saw the ferocious dacoit shivering, his dreadfulness had tuned into a fear of death. In the midst of the sea and the storm, Tori, through her poems, the devotional songs, made him understand the meaning of life and moment by moment, song by song, a metamorphosis began to manifest in him.

The song Toral had composed are still hummed and sung as bhajans or devotional songs by the people of Kachchh. In the sinking boat she appealed to Jesal: “O You Rajput! Reveal all your sins and take care of your dharma, I won’t let your boat sink, that is what Toral tells you.” Jesal was really repentant and he responded to Toral saying: “O you Sati Torande! My sins are as many as the hair on my head, this is what Jesal tells you.” Jesal confessed all his evil deeds to Toral and gradually got cleansed of his guilt. Their dialogue went on as they sailed towards their destination amidst the deadly storm. Toral, cleverly and affectionately, convinced Jesal that he should shed his past sinful life, and begin a new, austere and pious life. Eventually the storm passed, and the tranquil waters took Jesal and Toral safely to their destination. Metaphorically, Jesal’s boat had safely crossed the Ocean of Life.

Back at Anjar, Jesal spent his life as a saintly person, dedicating himself to prayers and service of the poor. The saint poetess Toral transformed many men from being evil characters into good souls. For rest of his life, Jesal remained Toral’s dedicated comrade.

When Jesal died in the supreme state of samadhi, Toral also decided to give up her life with him in samadhi. The tombs of Jesal and Toral are situated close to each other. People believe that these tombs are moving closer and closer to each other, maybe by a fraction of a centimeter each year. As the popular belief goes, when the two tombs will touch each other, the world will end. Belief apart, the legend that still lives is that of womanhood epitomized by Toral, the saint poetess who had the courage and confidence to go with a dreaded dacoit. And turn him into a decent human being…

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4 Response Comments

  • Marilynwounk30/04/2017 at 5:27 AM

    Great… Keep up your good work!!!

  • Prema25/06/2017 at 9:00 AM

    Hey, there superb blog and a great story!

    Running a blog similar to this take a great deal of work…

    I have virtually no expertise in computer programming, however, I was hoping to start my own blog soon.

    Anyhow, shall share my first story on your platform, Appreciate it!

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