MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA JUNE 17 , 2011 11.55 P. M.
This blog is personal in nature , definitely very personal . People who generally visit my blog space , are not going to find it very interesting. But I am writing it for the posterity , for the future generations of my family. Youngsters of my family should know about our roots and traditions and should get familiar with the family history and the place of our ancestors, even if it is through the photos.
We originally hail from Amethi, Sultanpur , a district in Uttar Pradesh. then known as United Provinces of Agra & Awadh. We were Raj Guru of a particular clan of Thakur chieftains of Amethi, known as Amethiya Rajputs. Few centuries ago during British era , a branch of Amethiya Rajputs , in search of greener pastures , left their native place Amethi and came and settled in Sohagara village in the erstwhile Saran district of Bihar. This district is now known as Siwan and is situated on the banks of Ghaghara river a.k.a. Chhoti Gandak.
[ On the South-Western corner of the map is Guthani Block. Sohagara and Bishunpura villages come under the jurisdiction of Guthani Block and are situated on the banks of Ghaghara ( Chhoti Gandak ) , where borders of Bihar end and borders of Uttar Pradesh begin. ]
Amethiya Rajputs bought land in Sohagara and settled there. Later on , a branch of their Raj Gurus also followed them and came and settled in Sohagara. They also bought large swath of land and properties and made Sohagara their home , completely forgetting Amethi of Sultanpur district.
[ I clicked these two photographs when I visited Sohagara recently . These two village roads are still pristine and primitive .]
[ My wife is partly seen in this photo in yellow sari , taking water from the river before worshipping our family deity ]
I don’t know how many centuries had gone since my forefathers came and settled in Sohagara. How many wet monsoons came and drenched them , how many thunder and lightning frightened them in dark nights, how many grey , dreary and dull winters came , tormented them and then went away , how many scorching summer greeted my forefathers with all the furies …. I don’t know but I know for sure that they survived in their new adopted land. Far away from Amethi , my ancestors made Sohagara their home and gradually prospered.
[ Two photographs , which are given here , show a house under construction . This house is being constructed on the plot of land , where my ancestral house stood once. My forefathers lived in that house , which was made of mud and tiles. ]
We trace our known family history from Ram Charitra Chaturvedi. He was my great-great-grandfather. He was the person who left Sohagara with his two grown up sons, Shrikrishna Chaturvedi and Raghunandan Chaturvedi , came to Sonbarasa in the erstwhile Gorakhpur district of Uttar Pradesh and settled there. This part of Gorakhpur district is now known as Deoria. Of his two sons , the elder one , Shrikrishna Chaturvedi was my great-grandfather.
This incident of leaving Sohagara happened in 1873. So once again my family came to Uttar Pradesh. From Amethi of Uttar Pradesh to Sohagara of Bihar and then again to Deoria of Uttar Pradesh, it was like completing a full circle. But leaving one’s place is not an easy thing for anyone. So what was the cause of this migration ?
Our family tradition says that Sohagara was frequently attacked and plundered by some nomadic tribes. Those aggressive and barbarous nomads used to burn crops and loot the valuables. My forefathers , to eliminate the tyranny once and forever, fought them once and in the ensuing battle which was fought with lathis , spears and trident , a pregnant tribal woman got killed. Before her death, she cursed our forefathers that the clan of Chaturvedis would never prosper in Sohagara. After that fight and their subsequent defeat , nomadic tribes left Sohagara . They never returned. But King of Majhauli , who was the tax-collector and owner of the village , wanted to punish my forefathers for the killing of the tribal woman. So my great-great-grandfather , after consulting his well-wishers and after giving due consideration to all the pros and cons, left Sohagara in 1875 for good and made Sonbarasa his new home in Deoria district.
Thought they left the Sohagara village and started living in Sonbarsa, they still kept their agricultural land in Sohagara and even bought agricultural land in another nearby village Bishunpura. Our family members used to go there and used to manage the agricultural property. This happened till my time , precisely till 1989 , before I left Deoria and came and settled in Mumbai. There after my visits dwindled.
I visited Sohagara this year , in June 2011 after a gap of almost 15 years. Vast swath of agricultural land , which was maintained and held by us till 2000 , have been sold. Sohagara and Bishunpura , both the villages , were managed by my family even after Ran Charitra Chaturvedi’s migration from the village in 1873 , But alas ! everything was disposed off during my tenure . I am not blaming anyone . I was also part of the sin and crime. We started selling the property at the time of my younger sister Neelima’s marriage in 1993 and within 7 years everything was sold off.
Ancestral property is like heritage and we are supposed to be only the trustees and not the owners of that property. As our forefathers bequeathed the property to us , it is one’s pious duty to maintain that property and bequeath it to their progeny. From 1873 to 2000 , these villages were maintained for almost 127 years and now they are gone and gone forever. My great-grandfather Shrikrishna Chaturvedi , my grandfather Kunj Bihari Chaturvedi and my father Lakshmi Kant Chatuevedi took every care to maintain these villages. But today , after 138 years of the migration of my great-great-grandfather, as I write this blog after visiting Sohagara , I am sorry to say that I was unable to maintain and take care of this heritage. I betrayed my ancestor’s trust and faith . I don’t know what would I say to them when I will face them after my death ? How would I face them , when I will meet them after my death ?
The house in the photo , is the residence of Ram Nageena Singh , a burly scion of Amethiya Rajputs who came and settled here. For four generations of my ancestors this house served as the residence cum administrative headquarters. After almost a century , it still stands there calmly and bears silent testimony of my forefather’s toil , strife and difficulties , which they faced while maintaining these lands. I have spent many days and nights in this house , when I used to visit these villages during Summer. Some times my stay was for a week or even for a fortnight at a stretch.
Sohagara is a beautiful village. It is still quite primitive and pristine . It has grand Shiva temple , believed to have been built by demon king Banasur.
Apart from this Shiva temple , Sohagara also has a ramshackle temple of my family deity. Family tradition says that a lady of my family committed Sati after the death of her husband. Later on in her memory a temple was built on the same spot where funeral pyre was lit . I don’t know who will visit these temples after my death. May be my family deity will wait endlessly and that too in vain for my future generations to come and pay obeisance. Who knows what will happen ? May be her temple will be forgotten in future . May be none from my family will visit her . May be this dilapidated place will succumb to the vagaries of nature’s fury and in some distant future will completely vanish from the earth. Or may be rampaging waters of Ghaghara will change its course and engulf the place during some monsoons and there will be no trace of even the very place. No one knows .
Loss of Sohagara is painful . It is not only loss of property but it is loss of a whole tradition , loss of our clan’s history and family folklore .
I started writing this blog after my Sohagara visit , when I was still in Deoria. I could not complete it because of my hectic schedules. Then I returned to Mumbai. As I was returning to Mumbai after 15 days , my schedules went haywire and I couldn’t complete the blog . I am finally completing it today and posting it on my blog space.
MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA
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