People keep fast on Sundays in the name of Surya Narain or the Sun God. They take food only once a day, generally fruit, before sun-set. Salted and fried items are avoided. It is believed that a fast on a Sunday saves one from skin diseases like leprosy, ringworm, and eye sores. Sun God is worshipped with red sandalwood and red flowers. This story is related with Surya Narain. Once upon a time, the Sun God or Surya Narain ruled this world. He looked after both, the world and his family. He fed one and all from the same spoon. He gave half a spoon to all the creatures on the earth and the other half to his family.
The members of Surya Narain’s family did not work hard and washed away his blessings. Once Surya Narain’s wife said to her mother-in-law, “Your son does not give enough food to us. You go and tell him that he should give us more food”. Surya Narain’s mother went to her son and said, "Your wife says that the food given by you is not enough for us. Increase the supply”. Surya Narain smiled and said, “Dear mother, I give half a spoon of food to all the creatures and the remaining half to your family. I have no more food to give”. The mother came back and said, “He is helpless in increasing the supply. Better you go yourself and convince him”.
Surya Narain’s wife made for her husband’s court. The courtiers welcomed her. Surya Narain made her sit by his side and listened to her difficulties. Surya Narain’s wife insisted on increasing the supply for her family. Surya Narain smiled and said, “Your family members do not work hard. They do not even clean the house properly. Take these five dices and play with your neighbors. You will find surplus food for your family”. Surya Narain’s wife returned home with the dices. She was happy that she would show the dices to her neighbors and play with them.
It was Sunday morning. She took the dices to her neighbors, but found to her great surprise that they were busy at work right from the sunrise. Some of them were cleaning or dusting their houses. Others were milking their cows or doing petty household work. None talked with her. She took courage and entered one of the houses and requested the people there to play with her. The lady of the house said, “I am on Sunday fast. I have to clean my house and prepare food for worship”. Surya Narain’s wife said, “How does this fast help you?” The lady said, “Because of it, I have developed a habit for early rising, keeping the house dean, behaving well with every body and remembering God”.
Surya Narain’s wife said, “What is the way for keeping this fast?” The lady told her that it was simple. She advised her to take rice before the sunset and avoid salty and fried dishes. Surya Narain’s wife decided to keep fast on all Sundays. In a short period, she became prosperous. Once, Surya Narain decided to test his wife’s integrity. He disguised himself as an old Pandit and visited his house. He asked for some food. His wife said, “I am on fast. You will have to wait till evening”. The Pandit agreed. By evening, the food was ready. The Pandit said, “I shall take my meals in the same dish in which Surya Narain used to take”. Surya Narain’s mother became angry. But his wife agreed to serve him in the same dish. It was night.
The old man said, “I shall sleep on the same bed which Surya Narain uses. Surya Narain’s wife will press my feet also”. Although Surya Narain’s mother became angry, his wife agreed to press his feet. As the night advanced, the old man asked her to share bed with him. She sensed the reality and shared the bed with him. From now onwards, the Pandit visited her house every Sunday. The lady became pregnant. Everybody talked ill of her. She gave birth to a child. It was too much for her mother-in-law. Her mother-in-law said, “This is lechery. This is impious and immoral. Your husband will not forgive you”. The lady said, “The old man who visits me at night is no one else but Surya Narain himself”.
The mother-in-law said, “You will have to undergo a test. Are you ready for it?” The lady agreed. The mother-in-law brought an unspinned, kachcha, thread. She tied its one end to a tree and hung the other end in a deep dingy well. She asked Surya Narain’s wife to go to the brink of the well. Surya Narain’s wife caught hold of the thread and put her legs inside the well. It was too much for the onlookers. All of a sudden, Surya Narain appeared on the scene. He caught hold of her hand and narrated the whole story to his mother. The onlookers were pleased. Surya Narain now led a happy and prosperous life with his family members.
Ravivar ki Kahani - III
This story, of the Sun God, is related with the occasion of Sunday fast. It depicts the importance of cow and cow dung and suggests the victory of innocence over jealousy. Once there was an old lady. She would get up early in the morning and take her bath. She kept her house dean by plastering it with cow dung, and took her meals only after offering food to the Sun God. She lived a happy life. This lady used to collect cow dung from her neighbor’s house. The neighbor’s wife was jealous of her. She tethered her cow inside the room so that the old lady could not collect the dung. And as she could not plaster her house with cow-dung, she did not cook her food.
She did not even offer food to the idols. She remained on fast throughout the day and slept with empty stomach. The Sun God appeared before her in her dream. He sold, “Why did not you take your meals? Why did you not offer food to the Idols?” The old lady said politely, “My neighbor’s lady did not allow me to collect cow dung from her house. I could not clean my house. I have no cow of my own”. The Sun God said, “I am happy with you because you kept fast on Sunday. I am pleased with your worship. I shall give you a beautiful cow”. The god disappeared. The old lady opened her eyes.
A beautiful cow, with a calf, was standing in her courtyard. She was surprised to see them. She arranged hay and water for them. When the neighbor’s lady saw the cow in the old lady’s house, she became jealous of her. She also noticed that the cow’s dung was of gold and not any ordinary dung. She took the gold dung and replaced it with the ordinary dung of her cow. She continued the replacing practice for a couple of days. The Sun God noted that the old lady was being cheated by her neighbor. He caused a storm at sunset. The old lady tethered her cow inside her room for its safety.
She was, however, surprised to see that her cow gave her gold dung instead of an ordinary one. She could see through her neighbors trick. The neighbor’s lady was constantly jealous. She thought of a plan to deprive her of the wonder cow. She went to the king and said, “My Lord, a poor old lady in our neighborhood has a divine cow. The cow gives gold dung. It would be befitting for your graciousness if this cow is with you. She keeps it inside her room. No one can have even its glimpse”. The king was a greedy person. He told his courtier, “Go immediately and bring the cow”.
The old lady was about to offer food to the Sun God’s idol when the courtier reached her house. He untied the rope from peg and took away the cow. The lady prayed and wept, but all in vain. The old lady missed her meals that day. She prayed to her God for the safe return of the cow. She could not sleep at night. The king on the other hand, was highly pleased to have that divine cow. That night, he had a dream. The Sun God was there who said, “I offered this cow to the old lady as a token of my affection for her worship of me. You do not deserve this cow”.
The king woke up. He was badly shaken. He saw that the entire palace was full of cow dung. There was bad smell all around. In the morning, the king sent for the old lady with due honor. He returned the cow to the old lady and also gave her some wealth. The neighbor’s lady was suitably punished which was a cause of relief to all. The king proclaimed order that all his subjects should observe fast on Sundays if they wanted their desires to be fulfilled. Now, all his people were prosperous. Illness never visited them. They never faced any natural calamity. Everyone enjoyed happiness.