Swasthani Story :January is the month of fasting and worship of Swasthani Devi in Kathmandu Valley and hilly districts of Nepal. Especially among Hindus, from Poush Shukla Purnima to Magh Shukla Purnima, those who can fast and those who can’t worship Swasthani Devi by listening to the story. It is said that Buddhists also listen to Swasthani stories in the Kathmandu Valley.
The tradition of reading religious stories and listening to stories accordingly is old. Mythology is more popular among Hindus. Apart from this, the practice of reciting Satyanarayana stories, Ramayana, Bharat (Mahabharata) etc. with meaning is also found.In some stories, fasting and worship are also relevant. Properly fasting and listening to the story with worship is understood as a religious duty.
In a situation where literacy was low and books were not readily available, its social significance was high. The tradition of some of these vows is long and new ones have been developed.
History, Puranas and Swasthani
In the seventies, Santoshi Mata’s fast spread to Nepal through India. Lately, a new fast called Vaibhav Lakshmi’s fast has started to increase in the Kathmandu Valley.
Research has shown that the tradition of Swasthani is at least five hundred years old in the Kathmandu Valley and at least three hundred years outside the Kathmandu Valley.
If Sati Devi and Parvati’s husband is the same Mahadev, then it should be incompatible like Goma and Shiva Sharma. However, this argument can be easily dispelled by lamenting the impermanent nature of Mahadev
Among the various researches on Swasthani, Jessica Valentin Birkinholz’s last book titled Resetting Gods the Narratives of Place and the Making of Hinduism in Nepal was published last year.
The oldest Swasthani story ever found is from 1573. It was in Sanskrit. Another copy was received in 1603 in Nepali. It is said that the oldest copy of the Swasthani story written in Nepali language was found only in 1810. Maithili language was of great importance in the Mallakalin court. However, it may be of interest not to find Swasthani written in Maithili language.
After the development of the printing press, the number of Swasthani story books written in the Nepali language in the Devanagari script began to increase as the old Newar script was not developed for printing purposes and became available far and wide outside the valley.
After the conquest of the valley by Prithvinarayan Shah, the importance of Nepali language increased and the use of Nepali language became limited. Even the Nepali language was not widely spread outside the valley. Another problem in the valley was the lack of people who could read the Nepali language written in the old script.
The fact that the Kathmandu Valley, the surrounding area and various river banks are the abodes of ancient sages is limited to legends. Due to the lack of adequate archeological research, the situation is not conducive.
The claim that the writing and correction of some texts like Puranas took place in the land within Nepal is also heard everywhere.
Since Pashupati Purana, Swayambhu Purana, Nepal Mahatmya, etc. were composed in the Mallaka period, it is possible that these creations of recent times may be a continuation of the old tradition. Swasthani story can also be considered as a link in this series.
What is in Swasthani’s book?
The original story of Swasthani begins with Shiva Bhatt Brahmin. The essence of the Swasthani story is Goma’s birth and unmatched marriage, Nawaraj’s birth and marriage, Goma and Chandravati’s Swasthani fast and finally Goma’s happiness and contentment after being chosen as the King of Nawaraj.
This early story was in vogue for about three hundred years. Other themes in the popular story have been added over and over again over the last two hundred years.
Thirty-one chapters and a month of fasting are also a transformation of the past. Earlier, there were only 22 chapters. The method of Swasthani fasting and worship mentioned in the popular Swasthani story book has been developed after the introduction of Swasthani in Nepali language. There is evidence that fasting / worship extended from forty-eight hours a month to the eighteenth century only (Birkenholz, p. 109).
After the beginning of Puranization in Nepali language, parts of Puran have been added in Nepali language as well.
However, the parts added to the Nepali language do not exactly match the parts of the Nepali language.
After each chapter of the popular Swasthani story, Skanda Purana is mentioned as the source of the story. The Skanda Purana is a story recited by Mahadev (Parvati (or Ganga) son Kumar (Skanda). But, Swasthani is not a part of Skanda Purana. The original story of Goma worshiped at Swasthani has not been proved as a part of any Purana. Swasthani herself is not mentioned in the Puranas as a goddess.
Although references to Padmapurana and Skanda Purana have been made in recent editions, the early Swasthani has been mentioned as part of the Linga Purana. However, this story of Swasthani is not found in the prevailing Ling Purana. It is a matter of research that no story has been found in the Puranas which have not been made as separate sources and are mentioned as sources.
Story tradition of Swasthani Devi
Swasthani Katha Kitab does not portray Swasthani Devi. Instead, there is an attempt to identify Swasthani Devi as Mahadev-wife Parvati. Parvati herself worships Mahadev. The fact that Parvati vowed Swasthani to get Mahadev as her husband can be accepted as a separate existence as Swasthani Devi.
However, subsequent stories within the Swasthani do not seem to have made such an effort. The picture of Mahadev Parvati is also found in the book of Swasthani.
Looking at the current Swasthani story as a whole, it seems that the Vaishnava community has also succeeded in introducing some of its contexts in it. Shaktamat prevalent in Mallakal and later in Kathmandu Valley has also entered the story.
Conflicts and reconciliations between the deities of different sects seen during the development of Hinduism are disguised in the story. Overall, Swasthani Katha has become more inclusive by giving more space to the plurality within Hinduism.
The origin of Goma from dung, the influence of mysticism can be seen in the background of the grief suffered by Chandravati.
Regular bathing and fasting in the harsh winter of January can be considered as the inspiration of Hatha Yoga. It is a historical fact that some Malla kings also practiced such Hatha Yoga.
The story begins with a description of creation. Then the relevant themes of heaven, hell and mortal world are added to the story.
The story of the mortal world is the story of a Brahmin woman named Goma. As Goma, there is a detailed depiction of the extent to which ordinary women may have suffered in medieval and modern Nepal. His birth in the family of a couple who have not had children for a long time, and an unmatched marriage with an old man who was almost disabled as a child, seems to be the cause of all the misery.
The story probably represents the life of the people around the valley of medieval Nepal.Growing up in a happy home, Goma finds extreme grief in her husband’s home.
His father’s property does not work for him. Even older husbands leave during pregnancy. There is no one to take care of the child.
With the help of neighbors and villagers, she raises, educates and even marries her son Nawaraj. The same son also goes abroad again. The daughter-in-law also goes to Maite. Goma’s grief remains the same. In this process, Parvati looks at Goma. Due to the fasting effect of Swasthani, the son not only returns, but also becomes the king of the neighboring state. Then the days of Goma’s grief are over.
Parvati, Ganga, the serpent woman, and Goma, the indigenous goddess Chandravati, appear as a punishing goddess. Chandravati has not only left her mother-in-law in times of grief, but later on hearing the news that her husband Nawaraj is the king, her eagerness to meet her husband makes her impatient and insults the native goddess.
Dissatisfied with her humiliation, Swasthani gives Chandravati extreme grief.
After hearing the glory of Swasthani and fasting methodically, he gets the mercy of the Goddess and his days of sorrow come to an end.
The geography covered by the story of the underworld is not clear. The names Bagmati Bank, Ganga River, Karnataka Nagar, Brahmapuri, Chandranigahapur, etc. have confused the geography. The name of Shalini mentioned in the popular story was not in the beginning. The Swasthani fair on the Shali river of Sankhu and the river of the same name is a recent development.
Nature of Swasthani Vrat
Swasthani Devi’s fast is the longest fast prevalent in our society. But the fast of Swasthani is not considered as strict as other fasts. The simple option of fasting is also prevalent in the society.
Apart from the Swasthani story itself, there is a need for a Pandit only because the rituals have been developed and the rituals are in Sanskrit. Otherwise, it is a fast that is normally performed within the Swasthani family. Fasting can be completed only by reading and listening to stories without other worships.
Various foreigners who came to Nepal after Prithvinarayan Shah have not mentioned anything about Swasthani even while discussing various festivals celebrated in the valley. Jessica argues that it may have been overlooked because it was a limited celebration within the family.
Many of the vows prevalent in the Hindu community are women-centric. Teej, Rishi Panchami’s fast is obviously done by women. There is also a legend that Parvati fasted for Teej to get Mahadev’s husband.
Occasionally, men also fast at home. The story is not for women.
However, in the context of the distribution of offerings, it is indicated that the fast should be given to the husband if it is a husband (male), or to a son if it is not a man, or to a friend if it is not a son, especially for women. In the Hindu way of life, regular worship and the preservation of the spiritual environment of the home is a kind of belief that it is the responsibility of women, so Swasthani Vrat does not seem to be the responsibility of men.
Due to the fact that stories have to be recited along with the Swasthani fast, the contribution of Swasthani in women’s literacy has definitely remained. This is indicated by the fact that Goma narrated the story to the householders, even though there was no one to listen to the story. It is also believed that there should be a book of Swasthani at home and Swasthani should be recited in the house where there is a book.
Until recently, the standard of literacy was read in the village.This aspect of Swasthani Vrat can also be considered remarkable as it emphasizes on personal hygiene such as bathing regularly and cutting nails on the hands and knees during the fasting period.
Other dimensions of Swasthani
Swasthani Katha has acted as a mirror of the society of that time. For a long time, the almost stable social structure has been reflected in the Swasthani story. From a general point of view, nothing special can be seen in the tradition of Swasthani story. But on closer inspection, its cultural, economic and other dimensions are also clear.
The economic condition of the common people in the society of that time was definitely deplorable. The livelihoods of the people living in rural areas were limited. Men had to go abroad to earn some money.
Both the male characters of the story Shiva Sharma and Nawaraj have gone abroad for financial gain. Even snakes have gone abroad to earn an income. It seems strange that Shiva Sharma has gone abroad to beg. It is a symbol of the obligation to work as much as possible, even if it means begging.
On the other hand, Nawaraj could not return home due to poverty as he found out about his father. He also has the motivation to return home after earning some money.
The other side of economic life has been revealed through Goma. According to social norms, the husband and son who had to take financial responsibility went abroad. Even if the strong and capable limbs go abroad, the one living at home should survive. Goma’s struggle is exemplary.
Pregnant Goma gave birth to a son. She grew up alone, grew up, and even got married. Not only that, the effect of Swasthani Vrat also made Nawaraj king. Nawaraj himself has no contribution in making Nawaraj king. All the struggles belong to Goma. The helper’s daughter-in-law did not stay with him.
Chandravati Goma, who went to Maite on the pretext of ‘no food at home’, would not be a burden for her, she would be a helping hand. But Goma did not give up. Goma kept the light of hope that one day happiness will be found if she does not stop struggling.
That is why Goma’s character is popular among the women of the village. This is because the grief of women in the village is almost the same. Mismatched marriages, polygamy, deprivation, etc. are burning issues for rural women.
Unbeknownst to her, Goma has become a victim of polygamy. The contribution of the men who were supposed to take financial responsibility was zero in Goma’s struggle. In this sense, Goma has become a source of inspiration.
Goma’s parents owned the property. But Goma was not able to enjoy that property. Even the small amount of property sent by the parents was robbed. In this way, the story has left Goma completely alone. The story does not tell who suffered the immense wealth of the parents. However, it indicates that the daughter is not entitled to patrimonial property. The property may have been confiscated. However, Goma did not find it.
It is estimated that child marriage was common at that time.Why was the Shiva Bhatt Brahmin couple forced to marry their daughter before the age of seven? In fact, it was social pressure. Unmatched marriages used to take place at that time. But this unholy marriage was extraordinary. That marriage was a forced marriage.
Because, Chandravati, who was later married to Goma’s son Nawaraj, is not understood to be a girl, nor is the princess of Lavanyadesh understood to be a girl.It is not that there have been great ups and downs in social behavior in the same generation. This is the subject of research.
Of course, it is not necessary for a girl to marry an old man just to highlight the importance of marriage.
In the previous section, Mahadev has expressed the pain of being unmarried to Vishnu. After the death of Sati Devi, Mahadev married Parvati for the second time. But Parvati, born and raised, married the same Mahadev husband of Sati Devi or with another ‘Mahadev’.
If Sati Devi and Parvati’s husband is the same Mahadev, then it should be incompatible like Goma and Shiva Sharma.
However, this argument can be easily dispelled by lamenting the impermanent nature of Mahadev.
It was not necessary to legalize any kind of marriage to say that marriage is obligatory. On top of that, Goma’s marriage had not taken place. Shiva Sharma has threatened the Bhatt couple by threatening to set himself on fire and commit suicide. This is an example of ordinary people being exploited in the name of religion.
Another belief is that the fate of a married man is determined by the character of his wife. This belief is the religion of widowhood. Widowhood is called the duty of women. But, men have no such obligation. The story seeks to establish the message that a man is only a man and that a woman’s duty is to be of good character to her husband. This is what Goma says when she talks to her parents on her way home.
After deceiving Sati Devi and marrying Mahadev, Sati Devi did not say that she was deceived, she blamed her deeds. Again Mahadev was shocked to find a husband, while Sati Devi’s father hated Mahadev very much!
Meanwhile, Mahadev also took the test of Sati Devi. Sati Devi had to pass the exam. The myth of the test that women have to give to their men reaches to Sita of Ramayana. Ram had repeatedly tested Sita.
The contrast between the vowel sounds in the construction of the words “sati” and “sita” is a matter of concern in itself. Shiva Bhatt’s wife is also said to be Sati Brahmani.
The role of Swasthani in establishing the religion of Sati and Pativrata is evident. The relationship between Jalandhar and Brinda is another example. Jalandhar’s life was based on Brinda’s widowhood. As women’s economic dependence remained with men, women were also pressured to become widows in order to protect their economic interests.
There is a difference between being a widow under pressure and being a volunteer.
Swasthani Katha certainly helped to institutionalize it. Because the story of Sita through Ramayana, Mahabharata, the story of Savitri, the story of Damayanti was also prevalent in the society. The only exception is to be financially capable in the story. The story also indirectly tries to confirm Goma’s grief as the result of his own deeds.
Polygamy, adultery and sexual perversion
Swasthani story seems to have given scriptural sanction to men to have polygamy. Men are not criticized for adultery. To what extent are women proud of their male adultery? An example of this is Brinda’s attempt to make Jalandhar attractive to Parvati.In the Puranas, there are many examples of the sexual immorality of the great deities like Vishnu and Indra being praised in various ways and punished in name only.
Mahadev’s desire to marry a seven-year-old girl is not appreciated from any angle. The method adopted by Mahadev to protect Indra, who is afraid of the charity of Goma’s parents, should be condemned.
On top of that, it should be a matter of debate as to what kind of motivation the society is in marrying I Goma in disguise and leaving her pregnant. However, Parvati does not seem to be distracted by her husband’s actions. It is understood that the language of Swasthani has tried to give legitimacy to the attraction of men towards ‘young women’.
Such a presentation may have taken place as the story of Swasthani was written from the angle of a man.Women were not allowed to be corrupt even in self-imagination. The sages could not bear the fact that the sage wives were fascinated by Mahadev’s penis due to their insatiable sexual appetite.
It is not uncommon for young wives of sages to become sexually aroused due to old age and lack of nutritious food. But, they are not allowed to express their desire, they are cursed by their husbands. Mahadev was also cursed for sexually abusing his wives.
The story of Ramayana, who was punished by Shurpanakha for wanting male intercourse, is memorable here. Sita was abducted in retaliation for punishing Shurpanakha. According to the popular story of Ramayana, Sita did not punish Shurpanakha, but Sita was abducted. Because, according to the scriptures, women are the property of men.
In another incident mentioned in Swasthani, Mahadev sends it to his wife Parvati Ravana. In the story of Mahabharata, the status of Draupadi who was gambled and Parvati who was sent from Mahadev to Ravana is the same.
Until the last period of Nepal’s history, cases like rape and abduction of women were not criminal, they were considered civil crimes. The culprit was punished on the charge of embezzling the property of the woman’s owner and the victim (woman) also got the punishment!
We have a mythical example of being raped by Indra and now being stoned. In this sense, the Swasthani story is clearly the latest tool to control women’s sexuality. Swasthani can be considered to have played a role in establishing the fact that adultery is the prerogative of men. Jalandhar and Vinu are not criticized for wanting to commit adultery.
However, men’s sexual freedom was not absolute. There was class distinction, power and strength played a big role. Jalandhar, who wanted to have sex with Parvati, was killed. Vishnu, who deceived innocent people, was not killed. This is due to the difference of power between Jalandhar and Mahadev.
The mythologists raped Brinda, the wife of Jalandhar, from Vishnu, but saved Parvati, the wife of Mahadev. It was natural for a weak man’s wife to be raped because of her husband’s innocence. It is important to have an analysis of the psychology of this context in the society.
The character of Mahadev
Mahadev described in the Swasthani story is powerful. In the conflict between Sur and Asura, Sur is always on the side of the gods. Poison, cannabis, eating dhaturo, sitting in the crematorium, wrapping the skin of a tiger, wearing a snake garland, taking a trident, playing drums, rubbing ashes on a jiu, climbing on a bull, etc. are the parts of Mahadev’s character.
Mahadev has also become an extraordinary lover while carrying the body of Goddess Sati. There are many contradictions in Mahadev’s character. They are also indifferent to the world.
The image of Mahadev described in the Puranas is sought to be included in the Swasthani story. But, for the same Mahadev Indra, there is no satisfactory reason for the incident of moving forward to destroy a Brahmin family in the mortal world.
It seems unnatural that Mahadev, who came as a monk to subdue the influence of the Bhatt couple’s virtue, became addicted to Goma. It is not easy to give an abstract explanation of this context as Mahadev’s transcendental pastime.
The character of Mahadev, who intends to lure innocent girls into the trap of conspiracy, has certainly not had a positive effect on society.
Goma’s parents were Siddhivinayak, i.e. devotees of Ganesha. They have received children and prosperity from the gift of Ganesha. Ganesh is said to be the son of Mahadev, but not the son of Auras. The important question is why Mahadev moved against his own son’s devotee.
Earlier, Mahadev had beheaded Ganesh. Discussions of the Vinayaka sect, led by Ganesha, are found in the Puranas.
Mahadev seems to be against the Vinayak sect. It is believed that later mythologists reconciled the two sects by making Ganesha the son of Mahadev. The issue of giving the gift of Agra Puja to Ganesha is also included in the Swasthani story.
Origin of Swasthani Devi
The conclusion of the story is that Swasthani Devi has become powerful in the abode of Mahadev. Goddess Durga, Kali etc. are seen in Hindu scriptures. But, on closer inspection, the source of the power of these goddesses is the male deity.The basis of Durga’s power is Indra along with Tridev.
Kali also considers Mahadev adorable. In the Shakta sect, women are considered as the basis of power, but the reason is understood to be men. The scriptures do not fail to establish that the glory of the mother is unparalleled and that the father is indisputably supreme. Mahadev’s constant and supreme place in the description of the appearance and significance of the Swasthani Devi is a reflection of that
The answer to the question of what kind of goddess Swasthani is is not clear in the story. Apart from some features like ‘She is as bright as a thousand suns’, ‘She has three eyes’, the story does not depict the detailed character of Swasthani Devi.
Mahadev’s three eyes and Jyotirlinga are described as fast as a thousand suns. According to Jessica, Swasthani is a story that establishes the importance of ‘self place’.But the answer to the question of why the goddess was chosen for the importance of health, why no male deity was imagined should also be sought.
Jessica agrees that Swasthani Devi’s (Jai) status in the valley may have been created after Malla. Status Malla had assassinated the regime in a bloody conflict. However, it also implemented a number of valley improvement programs. During his rule, strict ethnic system based on Manusmriti was also implemented in the Valley. The ban (law) he imposed was called ‘status’.
This ‘ban’ directed each caste, group to perform their assigned duties in their thanka (place).It was stated that it is the duty of a citizen to live in a place designated for him to practice his religion. If the basis of self-regulation could be established as religious rather than political, it would be accepted by all. From this angle, the emergence of Swasthani Devi seems logical.
Because, the functions of each deity are specified and the practice of worshiping deities for political purposes is a timeless fact.Although the structural purpose of the Swasthani story is policy-oriented, the source of its characters is not yet clear. It can be inferred that the situation is trying to make Malla the hero of the story. For the position Malla Rajalladevi, there were male dolls brought from the south.
Rajalladevi was the daughter of Jagat Singh of Karnatavanshi of Nayak Devi. Nayak Devi herself is the daughter of King Rudra Malla.
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