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KARNI MATA

HISTORY OF KARNI MATA
BIRTH
Shri Karni Mata was born on Friday, Ashwin Shukla Saptami 1444 i.e. October 2, 1387 AD in village Suwap near Phalodi in Jodhpur District, Rajasthan. She belonged to Charan caste. Her father was Mehaji and Deval Bai was her mother. Mehaji was a staunch devotee of Hinglaz, a Shakti Peeth (Holy Shrine) in farwest of Baloochistan’s (at present in Pakistan) Lal Bela area, about 18 kilometres north of Arabian Sea. Once for the whole night, Mehaji prayed to mother Hinglaz that “His name remains alive forever”. The next morning he heard a voice mentioning “Tathastu” (Yes, it will be).
At the time of birth Karni Mata was named “Ridhu Bai”. She was the sixth child of her parents. All the five children born before her were females. A night before her delivery, Deval Bai (Ridhu Bai’s mother), dreamt that a Goddess appears and blesses her with the words that the Goddess will be born to Deval Bai, as an incarnation of Goddess Durga. Deval Bai told her dream to everyone, but all the members of her family took it lightly. After the birth of Ridhu Bai, her aunt (sister of her father) being much disappointed, patted the head of Ridhu Bai with her hand and then with a fist said, “Again a stone has come”. To the astonishment of everyone, her fingers momentarily got stuck to each other. After the birth of Ridhu Bai the economic condition of Mehaji improved a lot. Later on, after few years her aunt came to see her from her-in-laws’ house. One day her aunt was combing Ridhu Bai’s hair with one hand. Ridhu Bai asked her the reason for not using the other hand. Her aunt told her the story of how her hand got defected. Ridhu Bai took her defective hand in her own hand and said “Where is the defect, it is all right”, and surprisingly, her hand got cured in a moment. Influenced by this miracle and recalling the past dream of Deval Bai, her aunt there and then renamed Ridhu Bai, “KARNI” (Meaning- She will do something miraculous on the earth).

CHILDHOOD

When Karniji was six years old a snake bit her father in the jungle. She put her hands on the effected limb and removed the poison. This way she saved the life of her father. Meantime, the stories of the miracles of Karniji had begun to spread far and wide. Rao Sekha of Pugal also heard about her. He wanted to take revenge on his enemy. So he went to Karniji to seek her blessings for victory. Rao Sekha met Karniji on the way while she was taking meal for her father towards the field. He begged for her blessings. Karniji welcomed him and asked him to visit her house. Sekhaji begged her pardon, due to paucity of time at his disposal and desired to leave, but Karniji would not let the guest go without having the meal. She offered him food, which she was taking for her father. Sekhaji knew that the food was not enough to be served to his army accompanying him. He therefore asked his men, to accept whatever she served and not to ask for more. Abiding by his orders, they forwarded their utensils to be served and Karniji served the breads and the curd from her pot one by one to every soldier. When she went from one soldier to other, her pot never emptied of curd and breads. Seeing this miracle all the soldiers were amazed. Rao Sekha achieved victory over his enemy and none of his soldiers died, except one, who did not eat the breads and curd treating it as a bad omen. Karniji’s aunt sought her blessings, so that a son is born to Mehaji (Karniji’s father), as an outcome of which two sons were born to Mehaji named Satal and Sarang and also one daughter named Gulab Bai.

MARRIAGE
By this time Karniji became over aged & her parents became anxious for her marriage. Inspite of their best efforts, they could not find a suitable match for Karniji. Seeing her parents anxious & worried, Karniji herself suggested her father to go to village Sathika and talk on her marriage with Depaji, son of Rao Kelu- a great Philosopher of that area during that time. According to history, the marriage took place in 1416 AD, in a quite simple manner. When the marriage procession was returning to Sathika from Suwap, the people, horses and cattle felt thirsty, but there was no water nearby to quench their thirst. Karniji at that time indicated a certain place behind a sand-dune for water. Everyone was amazed to see a tank full of water. The bridegroom Depaji went to Karniji’s doli (palanquin) and raised its curtains to thank her. He was amazed to see that, inside was a Goddess sitting beside a lion. After a few seconds Karniji transformed herself into human body. She told her husband to marry her sister Gulab Bai, mentioning that she was born on the earth only to serve people. On the way to Sathika there was a village named Kaluja. The villagers already aware of her miracles requested her to solve their water problem. She blessed and told them to put her idol made of clay in the well and abstain from cutting trees. Soon the well was found to be full of water and still exists. Today this well is known as “Shri Karnisagar”.

DEPARTURE FROM SATHIKA

Karniji lived at her-in-laws’ village for two years only. In 1418 AD, she left “Sathika” due to unnecessary disputes with the villagers. Being unhappy, she left for another place with all the members of her family and herd of cows. She decided to camp only at the place where she would reach at sunset.
On her way, she saw a newly wedded Rajput woman weeping. A snake had bitten her husband and Karniji felt merciful to that woman. She granted life to her husband. In the midst of journey, Karniji reached village Jangloo. There was only one well in the village and cows of Karniji were thirsty. The servants of Rao Kanha, ruler of Jangloo forbade her to draw water from the well because of its scarcity. Karniji did not care of their opposition and told Rao Ridmal of Chandasar, who was accompanying her, to draw water with the help of his horses. To the amazement of all the people, sufficient water was drawn to meet the requirements. Karniji there and then declared Rao Ridmal ruler of that area. She then resumed her journey and by the time of sunset she reached near the jungle of Deshnoke.

Now again an issue of dispute arose between Karniji and the servants of Rao Kanha as the area fell under him. Karniji once again, did not care of his servants’ opposition. The servants complained to Rao Kanha. He asked two of his officers to get the jungle vacated. Karniji tried her best to pacify the officers, but the officers during their conversation with her, went beyond the limits of courtesy and insulted her. Being offended by their insulting behaviour she cursed them that their mouths will be like that of a jackal. Immediately their faces turned into that of a jackal. They returned to Rao and after listening to the story narrated by his men, he thought Karniji to be a wizard. He himself along with his army went to her, abused her and asked her to vacate the jungle immediately. Karniji, peacefully told him that, “I have come here with the blessings of Goddess Awad Mata. The image of Goddess is lying in that wooden box, if you put the box in my chariot, I will go away from here at once”. All the men of Rao tried to lift the box individually as well as collectively but couldn’t succeed. At last Rao Kanha himself tried to do so with the help of elephants but failed. During the attempts to lift the box one of the stands of the box broke. Karniji immediately remarked that, Rao Kanha had completed his life span. Rao Kanha being prejudiced, as she had declared Rao Ridmal, the ruler of that area, thought her to be a wizard. He asked her to foretell his death. Karniji drew a line on the ground at a certain distance and told him that, as soon as he oversteps and crosses the line he will die. Indeed the Rao died no sooner than he crossed the line.
This Box of Karni Mata containing the idol of Goddess Awad Mata (whom Karniji worshiped during her lifetime) is presently situated in Temre Rai Temple in the middle of Deshnoke city. Karniji made her permanent residence in the jungle near Deshnoke, at a place which is now known as “Nehriji”. When she began to reside at Nehriji, she marked certain areas around that place upto two kilometres in radius. She then planted bushes of red berries all around. These green bushes on one hand served as fodder for the cattle and on the other presented fine natural scenery. In order to churn the curd a supporting stick was required to be tied-up with the iron ring. A rope was required to rotate the apparatus called “Zerna” which is a long stick of wood, having three to four prongs at its lower end, to churn the curd. This stick is called “Nedi”. For this purpose, Karniji planted the stem of a tree to churn the curd. This Nedi stick in the long run became the tree of Khejri since drops of curd fell on the stick in the course of churning. This Khejri tree, which is presently inside the Nehriji Temple surprisingly, contains the marks of curd visible on its bark While residing at Nehriji, one day while she was milking her cows, she saved the ship of Jagdooshaha, her devotee by spreading one of her arms. Amazingly, her arm got wet with seawater, which in order to dry, she put under the layer of soil. At present, as a result of her then taken action, the first layer of Deshnoke soil contains saline water like seawater. Besides this she blessed her devotees with many miraculous deeds.

In 1443 AD her father-in law Keluji died. Thereafter she went to Deshnoke where her husband Depaji died in 1454 AD. In Deshnoke she built a hut shaped cave by putting stones on one another, without using lime or sand. Its roof was made of Zal tree wood. She used the cave for meditation. Most of her time was spent in it. In 1463 AD one of her stepsons named Laxmanraj went to Kolayat fair where he drowned in a lake and died. His dead body was brought to Deshnoke. His mother Gulab Bai prayed to Karniji to grant his life. Karniji ordered to keep the body inside the cave. She closed its entrance for everyone and remained there for three days. On the fourth day Laxmanraj himself came out of the cave. Since then, the rats, known as “Kabas” started to be born in the Deshnoke temple. There is a saying as per poems composed by poets from time to time, that when Karniji brought Laxmanraj from Yama’s abode, she forbade Yama’s role in generation of her Depawat (falls under Charan Caste) and made her own law that any Depawat after death will be born as Kaba and Kaba would rebirth as Depawat. That is why the Kabas in Deshnoke temple are fully protected and cherished like her sons.


DESHNOK IS A SMALL VILLAGE SITUATED 32 KM SOUTH FROM BIKANER CITY. IT IS CONNECTED BY NATIONAL HIGHWAY AND RAIL.
THIS 600 YEAR OLD TEMPLE IS DEDICATED TO KARNI MATA, A FAMOUS MYSTIC OF HER TIMES, BELIEVED TO BE AN INCARNATION OF GODDESS DURGA. LEGEND HAS IT, THAT SHE FORETOLD THE VICTORY OF RAO BIKA. HERE, RATS ARE CONSIDERED HOLY, OWING TO THE BELIEF, THAT THE SOULS OF THE DEVOTEES OF THE MATA, ARE RESIDENT IN THESE RATS AND, CONSEQUENTLY, THEY MUST BE LOOKED AFTER. THE HUGE SILVER GATES TO THE TEMPLE, AND THE MARBLE CARVINGS WERE DONATED BY MAHARAJA GANGA SINGH.
THE HOLY LAND OF DESHNOK WAS FORMED BY TAKING THE CORNER PLOTS OF TEN NEAR BY VILLAGES ABOUT 387 YEARS AGO (AS PER ENGLISH CALENDER). AT THE TIME LOCAL PEOPLE USED TO CALL IT AS DUS-NOK. AS THE TIME CHANGED IT HAS BEEN CONVERTED INTO DESHNOK.
THE GREATEST ATTRACTION OF DESHNOK IS THE TEMPLE OF SHRI KARNIMATA. PEOPLE FROM FAR AND WIDE COME TO PAY RELIGIOUS TRIBUTE TO SHRI KARNI MATA. THROUGHOUT THE YEAR THERE’S AN INFLUX OF PILGRIMS. OUTSIDE RAJASTHAN, PLACES LIKE GUJRAT, MADHYA PRADESH, HARYANA ARE AREAS WHERE MATA IS GREATLY RESPECTED AND LOVED. DURING THE TIME OF NAVRATRI THOUSANDS FLOCK TO MATA’S TEMPLE ON FOOT. INNUMERABLE PEOPLE COME ON FOOT FROM NEARBY PLACES LIKE BIKANER, CHURU, HANUMANGARH, SHRIGANGANAGAR AND NAGOR. MATA’S ENIGMA ATTRACTS PILGRIMS FROM ALL OVER. IT IS BECOMING ONE OF THE HOLIEST AND MOST FAITHFUL PLACES IN INDIA. SHE IS NOT SOME SUPERIOR FORCE STANDING AND WATCHING, INSTEAD SHE STAYS EVER READY TO HELP HER DISCIPLES IN WHATEVER WAY SHE CAN.
THIS MIRACULOUS TEMPLE IS LOOKED AFTER BY A SPECIAL CASTE CALLED “CHARAN”
THE CHARANS ARE THE REAL HEIRS OF SHRI KARNI-MATA SINCE LAST 500 YEARS. SRI KARNI-MATA WAS MARRIED TO DEPAJI IN THE YEAR 1401(AS PER ENGLISH (CALENDER). HER MOTHER’S NAME WAS DEWAL BAI AND FATHER’S NAME WAS MEHA JI. SHE WAS BORN IN A VERY ORDINARY FAMILY. SINCE SHE WAS THE REINCARNATION OF DURGA, SO SHRI KARNIMA ADVISED HER HUSBAND TO MARRY GULAB BAI HER YOUNGER SISTER, TO GIVE HIM A HEIR. DEPA JI AND GULAB BAI HAD FOUR SONS NAMING NAGA, PUNA, SHITHA AND LAKHAN. THEY BECAME THE ACTUAL HEIR OF KARNI MA.
THE FIRST FOUNDATION STONE OF JODHPUR FORT IN 1515 (AS PER HINDI CALENDER) WAS KEPT BY SRI KARNI MATA HERSELF.
IN DESHNOK THERE IS ALSO THE GREAT SHRI KARNI MUSEUM (OPPOSITE THE TEMPLE). IT IS A BIG HALL 52 X 36 FEET. A BEAUTIFULMARBLE FLOOR TO WALK ON, BIG AND BEAUTIFUL PAINTIGS ADORN THE WALLS FOR THE PLEASURE OF THE TOURISTS. THERE ARE 22 ANTIQUE PAINTINGS DEPICTING MATA AND HER LIFE. IT IS OPEN TO VISITORS FROM EARLY MORNING TILL THE EVENING.

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