Song of Gopichand- Translation from Bhojpuri


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King Gopi Chand teareth up his royal robes and maketh out of it an ascetic's cloth. In its midst are fastened diamonds, rubies and pearls, and it was made a priceless cloth. He putteth on the cloth and starteth on his wanderings, and his mother catcheth him by the cloth and standeth. 'When I see thee, my son, I control myself, for thou art going forth and becoming an ascetic. I held thee, my son, for nine months in my womb, thinking that my darling would be a help to me in trouble. I gave thee seven streams of milk to drink, pay me back the price thereof.


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'If thou desire milk of cow or buffalo, I will buy it in the market and give it to thee. I will fill my father's tank with it, and with it wilt thou recover the price of the milk. Even if I gave all this I would not be free from the debt. Do thou, O mother, give me a free gift of the milk, for the sake of virtue(i.e., as a free gift).'


'Thou appearest, O my ascetic, to me, as amongst men of another land. I give thee, O son, the milk as a free gift, but mark this much of my words.


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Thou wilt have to wander through the three worlds, but go not to the land of thy sister Birna. The heart of thy sister will burst and she will die when she heareth that her brother hath become and ascetic.

Young Satraniya whom he married in his youth, she also catcheth him by the cloth and standeth. 'Thou, my husband, art becoming an ascetic what support wilt thou give me before thou goest.'* Gopi Chand (refused to hear her and) became like an image of stone.


His first halting place was in the plantain-forest and the does of the forest as they see him, weep. (Banspati, the Egeria of the forest) plucked and offered him fruits of the forest to eat. 'Eat O ascetic, the fruit of my forest.' 'I will not eat food, O mother, nor will I drink water. Tell me where is Birna's city.' When she heard these words Banspati said, 'Birna's [Page 48] city is six months' journey distant. Thou wilt die without food and water. The path to thy sister Birna is rough.' 'O mother, hear my prayer. In as many days as thou dost arrive there, my mother, in so many cause me also to arrive.' Banspati taketh the form of a hawk, and uplifting him in the shape of a parrot, carrieth him to Birna's city.


6. He began his perambulation of the lanes, crying, 'May ye live, my charitable folk of the city. Show me the way to your king's doorway, then will I leave your company.'*

'The turret is high, and the door is low. At the door is a dried up sandal tree. That is the king's doorway.


7. The ascetic went before the sandal tree and lighteth his fire, and, lo, the sandal tree flowered became fresh and green. From above his sister Birna is watching him, saying, 'I never saw a reverend ascetic like this before.' Quickly she calleth Mugiya her [Page 49] maid-servant, 'Go my damsel, and ask his caste.' With folded hands the ascetic saith to her, 'Damsel, believe what I say. I am by caste a Chhatiri. Go thou and tell her that, and say "from his birth he hath been an ascetic of the highest degree (siddha),' The damsel said, 'Thou hast hidden thy caste, and hast done well.


8.Reverend sir; tell me what thou wantest to eat. Wilt thou eat cooked food of the king's house, or wilt thou eat milk and fruit?* 'For twelve years, O damsel, I have never burnt my hands (by cooking). I will eat cooked food of the king's house, if it come in the hand of the Brahman Barua, nor also will I eat that which hath been touched by a maid-servant. My virtue as a Chhatiri would be destroyed. New troubles hath Ram given me. It was written in my fate that I should be an ascetic.'


9. When she heard these words the damsel went to give notice about the food, but she for-gat. She forgat also the other menial services, and no one paid attention to the food. At midnight the ascetic played his flute, [Page 50] and the sound fell upon (the ear) of his sister Birna.


10. Quickly she calls the damsel Mugiya saying 'An ascetic is fasting at the door, Quickly, O damsel, call the Brahman boy, and tell him the state of affairs about the food.'* The damsel goeth and calleth the Brahman. There were thirty-six dishes of thirty-six kinds (of food), not one was empty. She said, 'if thou desire, O Brahman, thou canst feed a hundred princes. What difficulty is there about one ascetic?'


11. The Brahman washed his feet, and opened the larder, and, lo, all the food in the dishes was burnt to ashes. The Brahman boy thinketh in his mind, 'what a wonderful thing is this that hath come to pass.' By the damsel Mugiya he sent the burnt food of those dishes saying, 'conceal the name of the king's palace. Say "it is the food of my poor hovel."' The damsel Mugiya took it away, saying, 'Ascetic, may fire seize thy luck. The food of the house of my king is burnt up.'


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12. When the ascetic heard the words of the damsel, he laughed, and the thirty-two teeth of his mouth gleamed. By their light he taketh the burnt food, saying, 'what hath my sister given me?' The king(i.e., the ascetic) tieth up the burnt food in the corner of his garment, and eateth the ashes and dust of his fire.


13. Morning cometh, and the dawn beginneth. He batheth in his sister's tank. His cloth covereth the whole of his body, but the features of his face were not hidden. He mixeth ashes with water, applieth them (to his face), and standeth at his sister's doorway. He foldeth his hands and maketh supplication, 'O queen, give me alms. Then will I leave thy door.'


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She maketh a mixture of gold and silver, and goeth to give her brother alms. She sent it by the damsel Mugiya, saying 'Ascetic, take thine alms.'


15. The ascetic with folded hands maketh supplication. 'O sister, who careth for pebbles and stones (like these jewels which thou dost offer me). Hadst thou given me old clothes, for me to make a beggar's cloth of, (it would have benn better, what can I do with money?).' 'My maid-servants and damsels get my old clothes. I have no clothes old enough to tear. I swear a hundred thousand times by my brother that I have no old clothes.' When his sister said this to him, he answered, 'may thy brother king Gopi Chand die. Why art thou taking a false oath?' As he gave this curse the ascetic moved away, but his sister caught him by the cloth and detained him. 'I will tear my royal robes and give thee a cloth. Why dost thou curse my brother. I call upon thy Guru a hundred hundred thousand times. Mayst thou be ashamed of having drunk thy mother's milk. Why hast thou cursed my brother?'


16. The ascetic claspeth his hand and giveth information about himself. 'Raja Raghubansi liveth in Banka. I am grandson of [Page 53] Tirloki Singh. I am the son of Bhawanda Singh. O blind sister, I am thine own brother. In thy good fortune thou hast become blind. Thou didst not recognize thine own brother.'


17. When she heareth this, his sister saith, 'Hear, O Damsel, my words. This man is not worthy to be my brother. Twelve hundred princes are servants in my father's palace. This ascetic is one of them. He knoweth the names of my brother and my father. If my brother Gopi Chand had come, four hundred Taji and Turki horses would have come out with him. The dust would have flown (to the skies) on account of his elephants. Who would (be able to)count the number of his foot-soldiers? Desolate cities would be re-populated by them, if my brother Gopi Chand had come. There is the mark of a pen on my brother's hand.' (She saith to the ascetic), 'How much Tilak did my brother give (my husband)? How much dowry did he give?' O sister, I gave a hundred hundred thousand Ashrafis as a Tilak and the elephant Bhawara at the Duar Puja; I gave carts and waggons laden with gold. Who can count the brass vessels I gave. I did not sum up the account of the cash I expended. My wife's bracelet shineth on thy wrist. My father's ring gleameth on thy finger. Thou art wearing a checked cloth of thy father's house.


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18.When his aister heard these words she ran as a calf that hath broken loose runnneth towards its mother. The brother and sister embraced, and all the leaves of the forest fell down (out of emotion). 'I would make and give my brother food, then would I ask him news of my father's home.

Hath a Nawab General invaded and snatched away thy kingdom ? I will equip an army and send it against him, and rescue thy kingdom from him.' ' No, sister. No Nawab General hath invaded and taken my kingdom. It was written in my fate that I should be an ascetic. I will not eat food, O sister, at thy hand. Now my hand is empty. Sister Birna, look at the food (which was given me) last night. What didst thou give me. My luck was burnt, and thou didst show unto mine eyes burnt food. The burden hath been removed from thy city.' The ascetic untied and showed the burnt food to his sister, and then her heart burst and she died.


19. King Gopi Chand considereth in his heart, the words of my mother have come true. He draweth from his waistband knives and daggers, and putteth them to his throat. But God above seized and stopped him, saying, 'Why, O my my ascetic, dost thou kill thyself. There is ambrosia in thy finger.' So he split his finger and gave his sister (ambrosia) to drink (and he came to life again). Then the ascetic went off on his wanderings.

This text is an English-language translation of the original version:

This is a selection from the original text


alms, ambrosia, ascetic, food, fruit

Source text

Title: Two versions of the Song of Gopi Chand, Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal

Author: G.A.Grierson

Editor(s): The Philological Secretary

Publisher: Asiatic Society

Publication date: 1885

Edition: 1st Edition

Place of publication: Calcutta

Provenance/location: This text was transcribed from images available at the Digital Library of India:

Digital edition

Original editor(s): G.A.Grierson

Language: English

Selection used:

  • 1 ) pages 45 to 54


Texts collected by: Ayesha Mukherjee, Amlan Das Gupta, Azarmi Dukht Safavi

Texts transcribed by: Muhammad Irshad Alam, Bonisha Bhattacharya, Arshdeep Singh Brar, Muhammad Ehteshamuddin, Kahkashan Khalil, Sarbajit Mitra

Texts encoded by: Bonisha Bhattacharya, Shreya Bose, Lucy Corley, Kinshuk Das, Bedbyas Datta, Arshdeep Singh Brar, Sarbajit Mitra, Josh Monk, Reesoom Pal

Encoding checking by: Hannah Petrie, Gary Stringer, Charlotte Tupman

Genre: India > oral narratives

For more information about the project, contact Dr Ayesha Mukherjee at the University of Exeter.