Sannyasi and Fakir Rebellion in Bengal
Listen closely, you all – a new poem. Majnun the Burhana [a fakir sect] is the cause of Bengal’s ruin. This dreaded Yama [god of death] is called a fakir, fearing whom kings tremble and subjects quake. His march is as orderly as an army of British officers: led by flags, banners, standards; accompanied by camels, donkeys, horses, elephants, and a retinue of Telingas [native soldiers in European attire], fearful to see. Mounted archers all around, with Majnun like a heroic crusader on a steed. At the sight of this entourage, people are at their wit’s end; when it is at a distance of a day’s march, the commotion begins. Everyone worries where to escape. Listen carefully, you all, to the state of the people. Wherever the troops halt, there is a fusillade of a hundred guns. The native of Bengal must needs flee. To catch his fugitives, the fakir enters every locality; the cry “The Fakir has come!” spreads chaos through the village. The molasses trader deserts his pot of sap on the palm tree. Women neither bind their hair nor bother with their attire; leaving all their belongings at home, they rush seawards. The peasant abandons his plough and cattle. Mothers flee without their newborn babies, and ladies of the better sort with their maids. The mendicant escapes, hiding his wealth in his matted hair. The fakir takes brass pots and plates, but doesn’t find what he wants; greedy for money, he rips pillows apart. He rummages in the loose earth, and breaks opens boxes, looking for coins. He snatches the moneylender’s safe and empties it. He loots homes and hearths, and entire neighbourhoods. As a gentle lady runs to hide in the forest, those rapacious fakirs give chase. When they come within reach in the forest, they pounce like hawks on a pigeon, grab at her clothes and demand embrace. The young woman pleads, “I beg and fall at your feet: you are our holy fakir guests, like parents to all. Yet, despite being fakirs, you act like lecherous goats; may God bring you to woeful account.” The good fakir stops his ears in shame, the vile one reaches for his youthful victim. With no care for the consequences, they rush to strip women’s ornaments and clothes. Women do not speak for shame, but hiding these deeds, they silently curse Majnun, invoke divine justice. They say, let God decree a speedy demise for Majnun, this son-of-a-knave. Which land did this vile creature come from? The god of death has dumped and trapped him in India.