“Raja Mandlik: The Snake God”

Deepak Sharma
Guggaji/Goggaji also known as Jahar Peer Gogga is a folk deity of Rajasthan states in India. He is an eminent warrior-hero of the region. Hindus and Muslims alike honour him. He is also venerated as a saint and even as ‘Snake-God’. He is known as Gogga among the Hindus and Jahar Peer among the Muslims. The Kaimkhani Muslims claim descent from him and regard him as a peer (saint). His devotees spread across Uttar Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat, where an annual procession is taken out in his honour. Some people also regard Goggaji as a Snake-God and almost all the Rajasthani villages has a ‘Than’ (sacred place) dedicated to him. The devotees come to visit the place and believe that Goggaji grants the wishes of his believers, expecially, in case of curing snakebites and other diseases. His ‘Samadhi’ is made of marble and has two minarets and a boundary wall. His idol shows him riding a blue horse and with a snake coiled around his neck. The inscription in Persian at the main entrance describes Mahmud Ghazni’s for Goggaji. Devotees rub incense at the Samadhi and offer coconuts, ‘batashas’ (sugar drops) and cash and sing songs in his praise.
The atmosphere inside the hall is calm and sacred. The sweet fragrance of the incense heightens the tranquil feeling of purity and devotion. The main attractions of the fair are the Nath priests who carry whips (replicas of ‘chabuk’ showed in the hands of Goggaji). The devotees consider them lucky. It is quite a sight to see people singing and dancing to the beats of drums and gongs with multicolored flags called ‘nishans’ in their hands.
Goggaji was born in Dadrewa in the Churu district of Rajasthan. Goggaji’s wife was Siriyal and his father was Raja Jewar Singh of Bhagar Desh.
The earliest parts of Goggaji’s life were spent in the village of Dadrewa, situated on Hissar – Bikaner highway in Sadulpur tehsil of Churu district in  Rajasthan. He was born as a member of the Chauhan Clan to the rulers of this area, Jewar Chauhan and Queen Rani Bachal around 900 AD.
Goggaji was born by the blessing of Guru Gorkhnath Ji.  Goggaji’s mother, Rani Bachal worshipped her Guru Gorkhnath for 12 years to receive a boon of a child.
While Rani Bachal was worshiping Guru Gorakhnath, she had a twin – sister Rani Kachal who decided to usurp the blessings from Guru Gorakhnath. In the middle of night, she wore the clothes of her sister and deceived the Guru into giving her the blessing fruit. When Bachal came to know about it, she rushed to Guru Gorakhnath and said that she had not received anything. To this, Guruji replied that he had already given his blessings and said that her sister was trying to deceive her. After much persistence from Rani Bachal, the Guru relented and gave her  two Gugal candies (Gugal is a herb which is prescribed even till today under Ahurveda to treat people  of infertility), and hence the name Goggaji. She  distributed these candies to the ladies having no child, including the ‘Blue mare’ who was pregnant at  that time.  The horse borne to the mare the ‘Blue Horse’ that Goggaji rode.
When Guru Gorakhnath  gave the blessings to Rani Bachal, he foretold that her son would  become very powerful and would also rule over both the sons of Rani Kachal. Goggaji had the company of his blue horse, Nar Singh Peer and Bohriwala. Goggaji married to Rani Shriyal of Bengal and there is a very interesting incident behind the marriage of Goggaji  with Rani Shriyal. Rani Shriyal of Bangal was very beautiful. Goggaji cake to know  about the beauty of Rani Shriyal and decided to go to Bengal to see her. He along with his favourite Blue horse and Kaliveerji  went to Bengal to see Rani Shriyal. They stealthily came to the beautiful Garden of Rani Shriyal where she used to play with her Sakhis. Since Goggaji was tried  from travelling he ordered Kaliveerji to guard him and slept under a tree in the Garden. Whe Rani Shriyal found him sleeping in her garden she enquired from Kaliveerji about  Goggaji, who told her that he is the King of Dadrewa and had come to see her. In the meantime  Goggaji woke up from his sleep and saw Rani Shriyal standing there. On seeing her beauty he was so hypnotised that he started following Rani  Shriyal to her palace. Rani Shriyal used her magic spell on Goggaji and made him  forget every thing about him and about his state. For many  days he was under the magic spell of Rani Shriyal but when a crow gave him the message of his sister, he came out from the magic spell of Rani Shriyal and repented to be there for so many days and decided to go to his state. Later Goggaji and Rani Shriyal married and came to Dadrewa.
He finally killed both the sons of Rani Kachal and informed his mother. Goggaji’s  mother on hearing this became very angry and decided not even to see her son’s face ever. However, every evening  Goggaji met his wife in hiding. One day Rani Bachal came to know about it and thought of apologizing for her mistake. Being previously ordered by his mother of not ever showing his face to her, Goggaji sought for help from Guru Gorakhnath. Guruji with his Chimta (holy tongs) from Gorkhtilla slid the land causing Goggaji and his horse to take samadhi.
Fair of Goggaji starts in Bhaadra month of Hindu calendar. Grand fairs are held at his birthplace and Samadhi Sthal Gogamedi. Gogamedi is 359 km from Jaipur, in Hanumangarh district of Rajasthan. It is believed that Goggaji went into Samadhi at Gogamedi. Thousands of devotees gather to pay homage  at this memorial annually in the month of Bhadrapada during the Goggaji fair, which lasts for many days. The fair is held from the ninth day of the dark half of Bhadrapada (Goga Navami) to the eleventh day of the dark half of the same month. The inscription in Persian at the main entrance describes Mahmud of Ghazni’s regard for Goggaji. It is quite a sight to see people singing and dancing to the beats of drums and gongs with multicolored  flags called nishans in their hands. The songs and bhajans on the life history of Goggaji and along with play the music with traditional instruments like  Damru, Chimta, etc. At his birthplay of Dadrewa fair goes on over a month. Devotees from Utter Pradesh starting arriving from beginning of auspicious month of Bhaadra. Since  Utter Pradesh falls in East (hindi: purb or purb)  of Dadrewa, these devotees are commonly known as purbia. It is a common sight to see people with snakes lying around their necks. It is common belief among devotees that Goggaji will protect them from snakes. According to a folklore in and around his birthplay Dadrewa it is believed that if someone picks up even a stick from johra (a barren land which  has a sacred pond in Dadrewa), it would turn into a snake. Devotees of Goggaji worship him when they get a snake bite and apply sacred ash (bhabhoot) on the bite as an imidiate remedy.
In Jammu region of the Jammu & Kashmir State, Jahar Veer Goggaji is known as Raja Mandlik. Raja Mandlik is the Kul Devta of many people of the region and many Thans are situated at many places in and around Jammu. A beautiful temple with the idols of Goggaji, Guru Gorkh Nath Ji, Maa Kaali Baba Kaliveer and Baba Nahar Singh is situated at Goggaji devasthan at Mandlik Chowk, Narwal Bala  Jammu, where a grand  bhandhara is organized one every Guga  Navmi (day after Shri Krishna Janmashtmi). Late Pandit Bishanji who was a great worshipper of Raja Mandlik, reconstructed this devasthan and people from Jammu and even outside Jammu comes to take blessings of Raja Mandlik.