The Love stories of Rajasthan’, an English translation of Rani Laxmi Kumari Chundawat’s ‘Rajasthani Prem Kathaein’, serenades the sagas of love while peregrinating through the enchanting and captivating phantasmagoria of the feudal era. Resplendent with the vibrancy of courage and sacrifice, the stories are woven with the warp and weft of history, tradition and culture. A confluence of beauty, passion and true love, they seduce the reader to empathize with the yearning and coveting, woes and ecstasies, of Eternal Love.
Kanchan Mathur a lover of Rajasthani art and literature, culture and tradition worked for the Statesman Delhi before setting down at jaipur. She is the author of the musical messiah a biography of Pt. Vishwa Mohan bhatt who is a world famous musician and the innovator of the Mohan Veena.
The literature of Rajasthan, like its land and history, is extensive, rich and powerful. Its poetry has been a subject of interest among scholars for many years and has been translated into other languages too, but not many are acquainted with its folk literature in prose.
Rajasthan has a wonderfully unique style of telling a story- replete with tradition. The story- tellers are called ‘Bat Posh’ in the local language. There are many families in Rajasthan, which have been telling stories, from generation to generation. They have told stories, in their own style while using the local idiomatic expressions and intonations of speech, Stories have been sung from one corner of the state to another and have been narrated from the hut to the palace. Millions of people have heard them, and have been touched and inspired by their sentiments- thereby strengthening a literary creativity of a high standard. While following tradition, the storytellers, unconsciously, refined and developed the art of crafting a story.
The love stories of Rajasthan are a confluence of history, tradition and culture. They are woven with the warn and woof of beauty, charm, passion and true love. The story- tellers understood the depth of feelings of the lovers and made their love stories immortal.
The stories are resplendent with the vibrancy of heroism, courage and sacrifice. Through their skylights, peep, the battle- fields where destinies of kings were decided. Through their small windows, one takes a peek at the history of the land. The stories portray the social forces in vogue during the feudal era. Through them, one glimpses at the customs, observances and manners of the men of the era.
The Rajasthani style of telling stories, is very charming, dramatic and powerful. Through their descriptive narratives the story—tellers are able sketch out vivid pictures of men and the situations woven around them. The style is so spirited that the listeners can sit for hours together in enchanted fascination while, applauding, laughing and crying in sympathy.
The story—tellers are skilled actors too. While narrating their stories, they often act out the parts of the various characters- shaking their heads like old men, scratching their throats, twisting their mustaches or pulling out swords in anger. They sing and recite couplets too.
The story- tellers are always accompanied by ‘Hoonkaras’. The Hoonkara is an individual who keeps grunting assents of agreement, with the narrator, as he narrates the story. The Hoonkaras, thus add to the listener’s interest and enjoyment of the story. Without their participation the story might seem insipid. There is a saying in the local language:
The way drum- beats add splendor to an arm) the Honkaras add interest to the story being narrated.
The most important feature of the love stories of Rajasthan is, that they do not give predominance to any religious community, sect or doctrine. They do not discriminate between the rich and the poor. They do not flatter anyone and there is no attempt at sycophancy. They merely give primacy to the character and his conduct. They only voice the feelings, emotions, thoughts and beliefs of the individual. Through a sensitive perception, they are able to portray the essential nature of man- his soul.
The love stories of Rajasthan have therefore been given the pride of place among the best love stories of the world. The story- tellers have been given various awards and have been granted land for their subsistence. Honors have been bestowed upon them, in appreciation of their efforts.
Rani Laxmi Kumari Churawat, who wrote ‘Rajasthani Prem Kathayen’ in Hindi, is a writer who needs no introduction. She has made an outstanding contribution to Rajasthani folk-lore, Rajasthani literature and Rajasthani language. Her contribution to the cultural and historical studies on Rajasthan has been so remarkable that, in appreciation of her achievements, she was awarded the highest honor of the ‘Padma Shree’, by the Government of India, in 1984.
While writing the ‘Love stories of Rajasthan’ I was not merely translating the stories from ‘Rajasthani Prem Kathayen’ but was in fact, learning the art of story—telling, from this illustrious writer. I was looking through her eyes and feeling through her heart while writing her expressions, in a different language. And all this while I was also marveling at her keen perception of human psyche and appreciating her ability to portray characters and situations with such perspicuity.
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