Song of Gopichand- Translation from Magahi


[Page 45]

1.The king donneth an ascetic's cloth, and stesteth for the foreat. His mother catcheth him by the cloth and standeth, saying, 'I held thee for nine months in my womb, and in the tenth didst thou take human form. If thou hadat died in thy birth, I would have been contented. Say not, O Gopi Chand, "Imagine, mother, that thou art barren or that thy womb hath borne only a dhak (buten frondosa) or a madar (asclepias gigantea).* With such words remonstrate with thy sinful soul."' So much said him mother Maina. (Again she said)'(By thy going away) thon art laying waste an inhabited city, for without thee, Gopi Chand, the whole [Page 46] palace is empty. Say not so, Gopi Chand,' saith his mother Maina 'First pay me the price of my milk and then go and become an ascetic.' When Gopi Chand heard this, he gazed upon the earth and upon tbe sky above. 'What sort of son is that, who can count the stars of heaven? He alone can pay his mother the price of her milk.

If, mother, thou hadst desired cow's milk, I could have bought it in the market, and given it to thee. But for thy milk I am without resource. Mother, my whole body hath been nourished by thy milk. Thy milk is beyond price.' His mother answered, 'It was not the milk of cow or buffalo that I gave thee to drink, 'twas the milk of my bosom. Thou art forgetting* the milk. Be not an ascetic. Protect me in days and nights of trouble (lit. on thick days and nights). Some day O my son, be a help to me in calamity. So, go not forth to become an ascetic. Say not so, Gopi Chand.'


2.'Bring hither, mother Maina sword and dagger, that I may plant them in my liver. Or else let me go forth to be an ascetic. Give me, mother, thy milk as a free gift. Thine own aacetic of a foreign land beginneth to entreat thee.' His mother replied, 'Live my son and be an ascetic. Go thou forth, bnt come back to me. Great is the spiritual reward of viaiting holy places and performing vows.' 'Mother, the day of meeting me again is gone far off. Say not, mother " It is I who have given the free gift." It is God who giveth me my birth, and decideth my fate.'


3. Gopi Chand leaveth his elephants. He leaveth his camels in the camel-stables, and his horses in the horse-stables. Nine hundred Paithan attendants doth he leave behind. Five hundred damsels and princes weep for him. Nine hundred wedded wives weep for him. His mother Maina dasheth down the throne and weepeth for him. The swans weep on the turrets of his house ; in the villages weep the cultivators; on the way, the wayfarers; and by the well, the girls [Page 47] who came to fetch water. 'So beloved is he of us who goeth forth as an ascetic.'


4. Then said his mother Maina 'Hear, my son, my words. Throughout the three worlds may'st thou ask for alms, but go not thou to the land of thy sister.' 'Well hast thou done, O mother, to remind me. Thon hast caused me to remember my forgotten sister.' 'Thy sister hath been weeping for these six months, for all her hopes are fixed upon her parent's house.'


5. Gopi Chand's first stage fell in the Plantain forest. At even mother Banspati of the wood weepeth. The does of the forest wept, and as they heard it the leaves of the forest fell down. When she saw his form and appearance Banspati opened (her flute) and played in the second watch after midnight. She felt pity for him. 'Great tigers and [Page 48] lions will devour him, before he seeth (i.e., if he trieth to see) his sister.' Said Gopi Chand, 'Let me die, or let me live, I will go to my eider's land.' Banspati took pity on him. She turned Gopi Chand into a parrot, and herself into a swan, and in an hour and a watch set him down in his sister's land.


6. When Gopi Chand arrived at his sister's country, he applied ashes and burnt cowdung to his face, and hid his body beneath his ascetic's mantle. Through all the lanes went he backwards and forwards, and he found a sandal tree at the door of every one. He could not distinguish the doorway of the king from that of his subjects, though he went round them all. He could not distinguish the doorway of the king from that of his subjects, though he went round them all. The village people said, 'Reverend Sir, stay with us. Every one of us will look after thy food.' But Gopi Chand said, 'O sisters and mothers of the village, show me the doorway of the king, for there will I stay. I cannot stay at the doomy of any of hie subjects.' The sisters and mothers of the village replied. 'The turret is high, and the door is low. The doorposts are of gold, and the doom of silver. There are there two she-elephants named Aura and Bhaura, and a sandal tree which hath been withered for twelve years.'


7. So Gopi Chand went to his sister's door, and lit his aecetic's fire below it, and the sandal tree which had been withered for twelve years became freeh and green. The king and the subjects of the village saw this. 'It is not a mere ascetic. This ie some God; [Page 49] for, lo, the sandal tree which hath been withered for twelve years hath become fresh and green Muga (his sister's servant) said 'for the sake of the withered, withered, aandal tree, will I give the Brahman food. The withered sandal hath become fresh and green. This is a wondrous ascetic.' With four companions in front of her, and four behind her, in the midst came his sister. She opened the doors of the window and beheld. One glance fell upon the ascetic, and on the other on the sandal tree. The queen saw the withered sandal tree fresh and green, and fell in a faint.


8. The damsel Muga came to ask him, 'O ascetic, what wilt thou eat ? Of what food wilt thou partake, wilt thou eat of the Raja's food ?' Gopi Chand replied, ' A new calamity hath God granted to me. As I watch the smoke, the tears flow from mine eyes. As I see the fire, blisters are rising on my body. Tell the king's Brahman to offer me food, and then will I eat.'


9. But the damsel Muga forgat to send the food amongst her other duties, and the Queen forgat to do so in her dressing and adorning of herself. Baru the Brahman also forgat, as he ate his bhang. After a watch after midnight no one [Page 50] took care concerning his food. In the meantime Gopi Chand played upon his flute. 'My sister hath, of surety, 'My sister hath, of surety, eaten and drunk. May my virtue increase by a fourth (if she hath not). She hath, of a surety eaten her meal and forgotten me. May all the food that is in the larder be burned to ashes. Then, even if she fill nine dishes, I will neither eat it, nor will my caete be affected (by accepting food from a maid-servant).' In the meantime his sister heard the sound of the flute.


10.'O Muga, all in my village have eaten, and the ascetic is fasting.' Saith the damsel Muga,'what do I know ?' She sent for Barua the Brahman and said to him, 'serve the food quickly to the ascetic.' Saith Barua, 'what difficulty is there abont one ascetic? I can feed fifty-six hundred princes.'


11. He putteth on sandals of gold, and goeth and openeth the larder, and seeth that fire hath consumed the contents of the fifty-six dishes. If you were to squeeze out the contents of the fifty-six dishes, then only a fistful of burnt food would come out. Saith Barua the Brahman, '0 Muga, give the ascetic his food.' Muga was by caste an eater of broken food, but in her language she was intelligent. So she arrangeth cocoa-nuts, almonds, raisins, and five [Page 51] packets of betel. She placed them on a golden dish, and tyre and the burnt food in a saucer, and taking Ganges water started. 'Take, O reverend ascetic, this food. May fire seize your luck.' The night was pitch dark. Up rose Gopi Chand in distress of mind. In a golden gourd he took the water, and in the golden saucer the food.


12.The night was pitch dark and in order to see his food Gopi Chand smiled. It was night but thereby(through the flashing of his teeth)it became day. He opened his sheet and tied up the burnt food in his knot. He drew towards him his fire and mixed the ashes with water. He laid them upon five leaves, and behold it became the five different sorts (of food).


As morning cometh he batheth in the tank. He hideth his body under his garment, and applieth ashes and burnt cowdung to his face, that his sister should not recognize him, and that he might become as an ascetic. How the thirty-two teeth of Gopi Chand shine! How Gopi Chand deceiveth her! He had been all of one(dull grey) colour, but now (after bathing)his form became of eight colours. As the sun rose he went to his sister's door, and asked for alms. 'May my sister's children live long, and cause her to be happy.'


14. The damsel Muga gazed at his garments, and seeing the form and appearance of the ascetic went singing into the inner apartments. Saith she, 'O sister,as was thy brother Gopi Chand whom thou didst leave at home, such ie the reverend aecetic.' 'Muga, may I eat up thy brother and nephew! (a form of abuse). If it were my brother Gopi Chand who had come, then desolation itself would have been populated (with the crowd of hie followers). (He would have taten with him) nine hundred horses, nine hundred elephants, nine hundred Mughal Paithans, and nine hundred Paithan princes.' Said the damsel Muga, 'if thou wilt not come with me [Page 52] to see, I will buy a damri or dokri of poison and eat it and die.' (Saith sister Birna to herself) 'of low caste is she, and by caste an eater of broken food. If I go not at once, she will take a damri of poison and die, and I will be guilty of a sin.' So she put on her father's ring, her mother's painted scarf, and her sister-in-law's bracelet.

Four companions went before her and four behind her. She took alms in a golden plate. 'Take, O Reverend ascetic, (these alms), and leave my door.'


15. 'I left all such pebbles and stones behind in my mother's house. If I take these pebbles and stones what can I do with them?' The sister replied 'I am offering him alms of gold and silver, and, lo, he hath turned them into pebbles and stones.' 'If thou hadst a shawl or double-shawl out of which I might make an ascetic's garment (I might take it)'. 'The reverend ascetic will take nothing. Take not so terrible a resolution (literally oath). O leave my door. I have no cloth worthy of thee.'


[Page 53]

16. When Gopi Chand heard this, he said, 'thou hast obtained wealth, and forgotten me. Dost thou not know thine own brother, born from the same womb as thou. I am thine own brother of thy father's house.


17. 'I will know thee as my brother, if thou wilt tell me what presents I got at my marriage.' Saith Gopi Chand, 'behold, thy father's ring is shining (on your finger), and thy mother's painted scarf, and thy sister-in-law's bracelet.


[Page 54]

18. When his sister Birna heard this, she caught him by his garment, crying, 'my mother is deserted,* and my brother hath today became an ascetic. Sit down, sit down, O brother, on the silk-covered throne, and let me send for all the wealth of the world and give it to thee.'

At thy door, O sister, what can I do? If I had two or three pice I would have bought bangles and given them to thee.' Then said her husband's mother and sister. 'Last night didst thou eat of food which had been touched by the hand of Muga. And now that thou hast been recognized, thou dost obstinately persist (in refusing to accept our hospitality)'. When his sister Birna heard what things and of what kind he had eaten, and when she saw, in the knot of his sheet, the burnt food, she cried, 'woe is me', and died.


[Page 55]

19.(Saith Gopi Chand to himself), 'Let me strike myself with knife and dagger, and let the brother die in the place of his sister.' Then up came Narayana in the form of a Brahman, and caught hold of him, crying, 'Ho, sinful one, in thy little finger is ambrosia. Give it to thy sister to drink; and thy dead sister to drink; and thy dead sister will come to life; and do thou take the form of a bee, and go away and be an ascetic.' (Here the sister is supposed to come to life, and Gopi Chand to go away.)


20.His sister arose and sat up. Through every lane she wept. She caught the sandal tree and wept ; and the sandal tree replied, 'Why dost thou weep ? Thy brother hath become an aacetic.' Then cried the sister, 'woe is me', and the earth opened and she entered into it (and was swallowed up by it). And thus was broken the relationship of brother and sister between these two.

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

This is a selection from the original text


almonds, alms, ambrosia, ascetic, food, raisins

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 55


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.