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Author Topic: SAINT DASOPANT By Dr. S. D. Parchure M. A., Ph. D.  (Read 4431 times)

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SAINT DASOPANT By Dr. S. D. Parchure M. A., Ph. D.
« on: February 19, 2007, 09:10:58 AM »
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  • One young and handsome boy was counting his days in the prison of the Sultan of Bidar. The Mohomedans of those days in general and the autocratic Sultans of the Bahamani Kingdoms in particular, were waiting for every opportunity to convert the Hindus to the Allah's creed. The Sultan of Bidar had seized this golden opportunity to trap one "Kafir"' and had laid the condition of paying into his treasury two lakhs of rupees within a month. He had warned the father of the boy that if he failed to comply with the condition, the boy would be converted to Islam on the expiry of the period; but god's will was otherwise and this lad who later on became famous by the name of "Dasopant" had to be released from the Sultan's prison.
    Dasopant was the son   of   Digambarpant   Deshpande,   who was  a resident of Narayanpeth, which is a village in the former territory of the Nizam State. Parwati was the wife of Digambarpant. She   gave   birth   to   a son in Shaka 1472 (15M) A.D.) who was named  as   Dasopant.    Digambarpant   was   holding   the   post   of Deshpande at   Narayanpeth.    Deshpande,   Kulkarni,   Chitnis   etc. were   the designations of the officers of the government in those days, and they had specific duties.   The duties   of   Digambarpant were to collect the revenue of the   Narayanpeth   Mahal   and   to remit it into the treasury of the Sultan of Bidar.    Digambarpant was a sincere and faithful servant of the Sultan.    He assiduously collected   the revenue of the Mahal and remitted it to the capital; but one year there was a big   famine.    The   crops failed   due   to drought.   There   was   hardly   any   food to eat.    Who then cares for the cattle? So many heads of the cattle died due to shortage] of   grass.    The human beings were almost starving.   Under such circumstances who will pay the land cess ? Digambarpant   was   a very kind hearted person. He had full sympathy with the people and hence he never enforced action for collecting the cess as he was cocksure that he would plead the case of the subjects with the Sultan, who would forgive them and excuse them for non¬payment of the cess.

    But the things proved otherwise. The Sultan of Bidar never took into consideration the loyalty of Digambarpant for so many years. The sincerity of Digambarpant in paying all the revenue in the government "Khajana" (exchequer) every year was no considaration for the Sultan. People in the Darbar of the Sultan also pricked his ears and he immediately sent his officers to Narayanpeth for arresting Digambarpant. The officers according¬ly ran to Narayanpeth and informed Digambarpant about the orders of the Sultan. This was quite unexpected for Digambarpant. He was banking upon his loyalty to the Sultan for the last so many years and non-payment of the cess in the government treasury in the abnormal circumstances of the famine conditions was therefore in his opinion not a grave offence. However, he had to bow down before the orders of the Sultan and he left for Bidar along with his son Dasopant, who was aged only about sixteen.

    When Digambarpant was brought before the Sultan in the Darbar, the Sultan made a grave face and said, "Digambarpant, you have committed a grave offence by not paying the land cess to the tune of two lakhs rupees in the government treasury. It was your duty to collect it from my subjects. As an old servant of this state, I kept confidence in you; but I am sorry to find that you have betrayed me. Hence I order that you should be beheaded".

    Saying so the Sultan ordered the servents to take Digambarpant' out of the Darbar Hall.
    Hearing the angry words and seeing the wrath of the Sultan, Digambarpant was taken aback for a while; but he was a pious and religious minded man, who had faith in god and on the humanity in human beings. So he ventured to speak, "My lord, I have never failed in my duty for the last so many years. I have scrupulously paid all the revenue in the government treasury every year ungrudgingly; but this year the crops faild due to drought and the farmers were unable to pay the cess and hence I have failed to pay the revenue in the treasury. My lord, the king is like the father to the subjects. The king should look upon his subjects like his own children and show pity on them in their time of distress. I may be excused this year for failure. I will make good the amount next year".

    When Digambarpant was talking in this fashion, the Vazir of the Sultan, who happened to be friendly with Digambarpant entreated the Sultan on behalf of Digambarpant and said, "My lord, it is not proper for me to talk in the middle, but I feel that the punishment proposed to be inflicted on Digambarpant seems to be on the high side. He is a loyal and sincere servant of this throne. He is a regular paymaster and this year if he has failed to pay the revenue in the treasury, it is only because of his kind and sympathetic nature that he has not been able to enforce recovery on the tenants due to their bad financial condi¬tion resulting on account of the drought. I would suggest that he may be granted some time to pay the amount."

    Listening to this request of the Vazir, the Sultan said, "You know that I do not like to have any interference in my enquiries. However, taking into consideration your long services in my Kingdom and giving due honour to your age, I am pleased to give one month's time to Digambarpant to pay the amount. In the mean while he will be in my prison."

    On listening to this conversation between the Sultan and the Vazir, Digambarpant said, "My Lord, I am thankful to you for having a sympathetic and practical view of this affair and given me time to pay the revenue; but my difficulty is that I must myself, strive to make good the amount and if I am imprisoned, who will make efforts to collect the amount ? So I would request my lord to allow me to go to Narayanpeth to collect the amount.

    " No ! No !! Do you consider me to be so big a fool ? I will not leave you now and if I do so, who will run after you after the expiry of the time ? " The Sultan said.

    After saying this the Sultan paused a little. His eyes gleamed; He started looking greedily at the young lad, who was standing silently so long beside his father and said further, "Digambarpant, you are a loyal servant of this Kingdom and I am proud that my Vazir is pleading on your behalf. Hence I am pleased to extend to you some further concession. You may go back to your village to arrange for the payment; but you will have to keep this young lad over here as a hostage. I will give you one month's time for paying the revenue, but remember that if you don't make good the amount within that time, I will see that your son is admitted into Allah's camp on the expiry of that time !"

    Giving his judgment in this fashion, the Sultan left the Darbar before Digambarpant could open his mouth. He thought that the ground below his feet was cracking and that the sky over his head was crashing; but before he could compose himself, the officers of the Sultan removed Dasopant to the prison according to the Sultan's orders and Digambarpant was left alone.

    This was a very rude shock for the whole family. Digambarpant left Narayanpeth along with his son, little knowing that he would have to comeback alone, leaving his only son, in the prison of the Sultan in this fashion. While leaving Bidar, Dasopant tried   to   pacify   his   father;   but  on   coming   to   Narayanpeth, Parvatibai, his mother started wailing and weeping so loudly that; it   was   hardly   possible   for   him   to pacify her.    He however, ultimately told her to keep faith in Lord Datta, their family god and wish for the best.

    Digambarpant was a well-to-do person; but even after disposing off everything, he could not have been able to amass two lakhs of Rupees, He had a good friends' circle; but what could each contribute ? They were not so wealthy as to raise two Lakhs of Rupees by mutual contribution. Digambarpant had therefore almost lost ail hope of redeeming his son from the Sultan's prison. He therefore said hopelessly to his wife, " I do not think that Daso will come back to us as a brahmin. He may live hereafter; but he will be some " Khan" professing the Muhomedan religion and singing the praise of Allah."

    Digambarpant and Parvatibai, the parents of Dasopant, were passing their days in this manner awaiting for the doomsday. The position of Dasopant was not anyway better in the prison. The words of the Sultan had pierced his ears through and he thought in his mind that his days in the Hindu religion had come to an end. After the expiry of one month, the Sultan would convert him and he would be lost to his parents. Dasopant was educated under the guidance of his father Digambarpant as per the system of those days. The atmosphere at his house was completely dominated by religion. After his thread ceremony was over he was also married at the young age.

    But the atmosphere at his home fostered his faith in Lord Datta, the family deity. Therefore inspite of all odds against him, Dasopant was quiet and he hoped for the best.

    At Bider there was a temple known as Zaraninarsinha. At this place enough water was available for bath and other rituals.

    Hence Dasopant used to have a bath every day at the above temple under the supervision of the Sultan's soldiers. As per the rules of the Sultan's prison Dasopant used to get one rupee every day as his bhatta. He, however, used to give it away to some needy people on the way. He used not to take food and pray Lord Datta for the whole day. It was really a wonder how he used to keep himself fit inspite of the fast. Not only was he not exhausted because of his austerities, but he was looking bright and lustrous. Though he had lost all hopei of release from the Sultan's prison, still he went on praying for the whole day, still hoping for a last mintue miracle to happen.

    As the days were passing, the Sultan was feeling more and more happy every day, being satisfied that his strategy was working satisfactorily. Outwardly he was showing sympathy towards Dasopant and telling him that he should not worry and that he has given strict instructions to his officers not to trouble him and not to cause any inconvenience to him, still he was laughing in his sleeves and seeing the dream of converting this handsome brahmin to Islam.

    Twentyeight days passed in this fashion. At Narayanpeth Digamberpant and his wife Parvatibai were labouring under heavy tension. Every day was dawning and setting without showing a ray of hope for bringing their son Dasopant out of the clutches of the Sultan. The tension on the mind of Dasopant was also not less. He was a young boy. His whole life was at stake. In case his father was not able to pay the amount by the end of the month he would be a Muslim. He would be forced to eat mutton and beef : He would be forced to leave his parents. He was, therefore, every day looking anxiously out of the window several times a day to see if his father comes to see him with the money or at least if he sends somebody to meet him and console him; but all these twentyeight days gave him nothing but disappointment and only two days were left Still there was no trace of his father or his messenger !

    The Twentynineth day dawned. The Sultan wanted to make a show of   his    uprightness. He wanted to show the people that he was not converting   people by force.   He, therefore,   called a number of prominent Hindus and  Muslims of Bidar to meet him and then he told the gathering the whole story of Dasopant and declared that if he does not   get his   money   by   the next   day he would convert   Dasopant   to Islam.   Like   Shakespeare's Shylock, who wanted his pound of   flesh for the nonpayment of his debt.

    The Sultan also wanted the conversion of this young brahmin lad for non-payment of  the land   cess by his father.   Thinking fully well that his   challenge would not be   accepted by anyone in the assembly, the Sultan said,   " If the father of this lad is not able to pay the amount, 1 would not   mind to release him if   anyone of you    here is ready   to   pay    the   amount   on    behalf   of   his father".
    Hearing   these   challenging    words   of   the   Sultan,    all the people in the meeting   started    looking at each other's face. They were all, except one, unaware of any such offer by the Sultan and hence even though they   sympathised with   Dasopant,   they were at a loss   to   know as to what they   should say;   but the sincere and devout   prayers  of  Dasopant   and his parents,   made at the feet of Lord Datta, were not altogether lost. They were heard by him   and   he   stood up in the   meeting in   the   form   of   Dattaji Padewar. When Dattaji   got up all were spell bound to listen to what   he was   saying. Some   over   loyal   people thought   that by doing this thing,   he would   incur the displeasure of   the   Sultan, who   being   their King,   was an   incarnation of   the god    Hence they   thought   that   setting   aside    his will   was a great sin,   but Dattaji  (curiously   enough he had the   name of the   deity Datta, who  was  the   family   god   of    Dasopant )  stood   firmly   in   the meeting  and said, "My   lord, I will immediately   pay two   lakhs of  rupees on behalf of   Digambarpant. My men   are on the way to the   palace   and they   will be  here   within a few   minutes.   I would   request   your   honour to accept the   amount and   release this  young   lad.   I would   feel   it   a great   favour if   this   lad is allowed to stay in the religion in which he was born "

    Hearing this bold offer of Dattaji Padewar, the whole assembly became stunned for a moment. Some of them were afraid that this boldness of Dattaji might invite the wrath of the Sultan; but when the Sultan's condition was fulfilled, he had no other go but to release Dasopant. When the Sultan's officers went to the prison, Dasopant thought that the hour of his conversion has come and that within a few hours he will be a Muslim; but to his utter surprise the persons told him that they had come to free him as Dattaji Padewar has made good the amount due from Digambarpant. On hearing this news Dasopant was overjoyed and he immediately folded his hands and bowed down to Lord Datta for having listened to his sincere prayers.

    The offer of two lakhs rupees by Dattaji was a great shock to the Sultan. He felt very sorry that his plan had failed; but outwardly he showed as if nothing unexpected had happened. He summoned Dasopant, spoke sweet words, praised his devotion to god and his chaste behaviour and sent him back to Narayan-peth along with his servents.

    When Dasopant came back to his house, his father was altogether surprised. As he had not been able to pay the amount to the Sultan, he thought that in order to tease him the king had converted his son and sent him to him; but on hearing about the whole story Digambarpant and Parvatibai were overwhelmed with joy. They both folded their hands to lord Datta and bowed to him for saving tneir son from such a big calamity. To come out of the clutches of the Sultan was simply a miracle. It was like recovering a thing devoured by a crocodile or getting back a thing swallowed by a python. There was no end to the joy of Digambarpant and Parvatibai on getting back their son. Parvatibai embraced her son and shed tears of joy. Digambarpant was looking at this meeting with pleasure and even the young and bashful wife of Dasopant was witnessing the meeting from behind the door. The parents got their son. The wife got her husband and the whole house once again bloomed with pleasure !

    ( To be continued )
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