Trinath Thakur Comes to the World
One fine morning I got to talk to Meghlal Malo on the banks of Kumar River in the village of Kafur. He is the one who first told me Trinath Thakur's name. He says, “There is a God by the name of Trinath. We cannot see him. We pray to him.” I ask him, “What do you pray for?” He says, “I pray that, let's say I do such and such work, if I am successful, I will spend this money in his honor.” I ask him, “Are there any idols of Trinath?” Meghlal replies, “Sure he does. We don't make statues of him though. We offer puja to his picture. We hold Trinath Fairs with just pictures of him. There is a story behind Trinath. There are a handful of people among us who really know the true tale of Trinath. But yes, they are there. In this area, Shambhunath Malu likes to perform songs about Tinnath. Nimaichandra Paul and Basudev Boiragi perform along with him. Shubolchandra Malo plays the khol, Dulalchandra Malo plays the juridar. We lay out a mat on the front yard, lay out a picture of Trinath and the Trinath Fair begins.”
Before beginning, he tells me the story of Trinath. “Trinath's arrival signals the beginning of the Kaliyuga. He took refuge in Shadananda Thakur. Shadananda Thakur had a calf. Trinath Thakur assumed the body of that calf. When Shadananda Thakur returned home, he could not find his calf anywhere. He started looking all over the place for his calf. After a long time of searching in vain, he decided he would go to the fair to see if some thief had stolen it and taken it there. So he begins to walk down the street.
In the meantime, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva get together under a banyan tree and decide to call Shadananda Thakur. So they called him, “Shadananda Thakur! Come here and listen!” Shadananda could hear voices but could not actually see anyone. He yelled out, “Who are you people calling me? I can't see you.” The Gods then said, “You won't see us. You need to do something.”
Shadananda said, “What do I need to do?”
“Spend three pennies on us. Bring three things for us.”
“What things?” he asks.
“Pan-shupari worth one paisa, oil worth one paisa and shiddhi tobacco worth one paisa.”
Shadananda said, “But I don't have money with me right now. Where will I get money?”
Anyhow, through some divine feat, the Gods arranged to materialize a pile of coins in front of Shadananda. At this point Shadananda Thakur explained, “Oh God! I have lost a calf. With this money I should be able to buy many calves.” So then he tried to load the coins on to a piece of cloth. But the more coins he started loading onto the cloth, more coins materialized. Then he thought that maybe it wouldn't be right to keep this money. There's no telling what all this money is about. So he took three coins and said, “Thakur, I'm off to get your things.” The Gods, replied, “Okay. Go.”
So off he went to the market. He looked all over the place but still could not find his calf. He bought the first two items, shupari and then tobacco. It took him a long time to find someone who would sell him oil. Finally he found a shopkeeper who tried to trick Shadananda into not really giving him oil but taking his money. Shadananda remembered Trinath's name and took off. Later that shopkeeper encountered two big customers. One wanted five kilos of oil, the other wanted 2 ½ kilos. But it seemed that all his oil had disappeared. The shopkeeper thought he was ruined! Where did all his oil go? He started wailing real loud. All the shopkeepers from nearby came up to him and asked, “What happened?” He said, “I just had one customer, and I tricked him. I didn't really give him any oil. But now I see that all my oil has disappeared. So then he decided to find the customer. Upon finding him the shopkeeper said, “Brother I was supposed to sell you oil. But I didn't give you the right amount. I had tried to trick you.” Shadananda replies, “No, I know that oil is really cheap over here. I didn't want so much in the first place. It's too much, really.” He then asked Shadananda what he intended to do with the oil. Shadananda replied, “I don't exactly know. They appeared on the banyan tree and wanted these things from me for the Tin Nath Mela.”
“Okay. When is the fair?”
“At night. At the banyan tree.”
When Shadananda returned to the banyan tree with the oil, the three Gods told him they had a job for him. The Gods then asked him to dig up some earth and make a whole range of arrangements for the festival. After all the arrangements had been made, Shadananda started to walk off.
The Gods then stopped him.
“Shadananda, do you remember anything?”
“Yes I do.”
“What do you remember?”
“That I still haven't gotten my ten-month pregnant calf.”
“You will get it. Do you have any other desires?”
Shadananda mentioned his other desires. The Gods said, “Granted!”
Once he was almost home he saw a calf grazing. Taking a closer look he noticed that it was his own calf. So he brought the calf along with him into his home. His son saw him coming into the house with the calf. He yelled, “Mother! Father is bringing a calf home!” The boy’s mother yelled out to her mother-in-law, “Mother! Your son is bringing a calf home!” Then Shadananda told his mother that he needed three pennies. For what, his mother asked. He said it was for the Thakur Tin Nath Fair. They had a minor argument over this. Later they decided to milk the calf for money. He then took the milk to the market but by then there were nobody around in the market. The Gods were a little worried. This milk needed to be sold. They dressed up as Vaishnavs and visited the king. The king lacked nothing, but he was a little short on milk. The king sent his people out to the market to get some milk and Shadananda was sitting there of course, with his milk.
“How much is your milk?” they said to him. He said it was three paisa. They were rather surprised and asked them to take it to the king's palace. The king then asked him what he'd do with his three paisa. Shadananda said, “I'll give it to the Tin Nath fair.” The king finally paid him. That night the Trinath Fair was held.
Many other things happened following that event. After a series of complex episodes, Shadananda was instructed to hold this fair for a whole month. The Trinath Fair was now his responsibility. He also had to spread the message of the fair- that this would cure the blind, the invalid, the dumb. And as the story goes, this promise has even come true.
Shambhunath Malo stands in front of the crowd and usually narrates the long story of Trinath Thakur worship- a story much longer than what has been given here. After the story is told, he moves on to some music. Three songs, to be exact.
(R) thedailystar.net 2008