Harisiddha — the alleged illicit lover of the mighty queen Maynamati

(Continuation of ‘The Story of the mighty Maynamati’)

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#We know who Maynamati was. We also assume where her kingdom was located. The small North-Bengal town Maynagudi still carries her memories — at least in the name. We also have enough information about Gorakshnath. Apart from Viyapati’s Gorakshavijay, several other versions of panegyrics on Gorakshnath were found from different parts of Northern India. But who Hadipa was? Harisiddha’s role in Maynamati stories, his overwhelming presence in Maynamati’s dialogues justifies our curiosity — it is sometimes difficult to determine who is the major male role in the ballad — Govindachadra or Harisiddha?

Hadi is considered to be a community engaged in cleaning and sweeping in Bengal. Ancient India defined communities according to their profession — at a time when people usually picked up family profession to earn livelihood. Probably being in same profession created belongingness in a family or community. By the time Maynamati’s songs were composed (10th century), community professions were being associated to the concepts of purity or impurity. Hadi or sweeper became an impure caste; apparent reason both Manikchandra and Govindachadra denied becoming his disciple. But was it possible he was not a sweeper, but a Vaishnav (worshipper of Vishnu or Hari) whom the Shakti worshipper Kings considered abominable? Rangpur is the place where we find most number of texts of Maynamati’s songs. Rangpur was also part of Kamrup state which was famous as follower of Shakti cult and Yogini tantra. Obvious that power-goddess worshipper wouldn’t find a Vaishnav teacher eligible to teach them. Siddha is word signifying the person who has found the path of eternal wisdom; of course owner of immense supernatural power. Till date siddha songs are popular among Baul singer, which is considered to be branch of Vaishnava community.

Buchanan finds him a disciple of Kanipa, who was disciple of Gorakshnath and defines as a person of Yogi Community. Who were these Yogis? Some historian would say, they were formerly Buddhist wisdom seeker or cult followers who later converted to Hinduism. But the myth found in Nepal is interesting. According to their belief, during Yudhisthira’s journey to the heaven all of the brothers perished felling down on the chilly hill tracks of Himalayas. Only one survived was the club-bearing Bhima who was not only saved by the Buddhist saint Gorakshnath, but also made the king of Nepal. Was Gorakshnath (and obviously his disciples including Hadi Siddha) Buddhist cult follower who was not acceptable to Shakta Kings of Kamrupa and considered low-born?

But Shaivaits wouldn’t accept this theory. Gorakshnath is considered a Saiva saint who founded the Yogi sect. Also possible that he had a connection to the Shaiva Pashupata sects in Kamrupa which was converted to Yogis under his influence. Another myth describes Yogis as former disciples of the great Shaiva saint Shankaracharya who were expelled because of their habit of consuming liquor.

Thus determining the identity, i.e. caste, sect, community of Hadi Siddha becomes a next to impossible task. But what’s more interesting is the story of his involvement with his disciple Maynamati. According to legends Gorakshnath was teacher of both Maynamati and Hadi Siddha. Later Hadi Siddha took the role of spiritual guru of Maynamati. And the relationship of faith became so strong that Maynamati started forcing her husband Manikchandra, the king to adopt Hadi Siddha as his guru too. After her husband denied, the relationship between husband and wife became so sour that they started staying separately while Maynamati continued her cult practices under the supervision of Hadi Siddha. And the story of the illicit relationship grows stronger as Maynamati gives birth to her son Govindachandra eighteen months after Manikchandra’s death. Of course the ballad talks about spiritual intervention by Gorakshnath to solve problems of Mayna after her husband’s death which brought the childbirth to a halt for many months. The guru also forecasts her son’s death if he doesn’t worship Hadi’s feet. The way Mayna tries to convince her adamant son to submits himself to the Hadi is also notable. SO great is the supernatural power of the Hadi that he lights up his lamps with water instead of oil. He has more number of lamps in his hut than the king has in his palace. Even the ocean’s movement is dependent on his will. Why does such a powerful person need horses, elephants, royal staffs and umbrella as remuneration from his disciple? He is even able to create a forest for Govindachandra and then roads through the forest making Yama and Hanuman work for him. The Hadi takes his disciple through lots of hardships, demands price for assistance; finally pawns him as Govinda is not able to pay him the price. The powerful Hadi needs money to buy Ganja (cannabis) and he does not hesitate to sell Govinda to a prostitute making proper paperwork. Nevertheless the Hadi makes the disciple a Napumsaka (neither man nor women) to save his honour. But the Hadi, being a spiritual Guru vanishes the moment Hira, the prostitute takes charge her slave. Govinda’s queerness saves his manhood from being exploited by the lady, but how come the almighty guru never bothers to extend his support to the disciple for twelve years while the young boy was subject to tremendous physical and mental torture? Well, at the end of twelve years, he comes back to save him and punishes the prostitute by taking her life. After killing her, he makes her a bat and sends to heaven. The Hadi also makes the prince beg in the market before teaching him his magic spells. He brings him back to the palace, receives remuneration and goes back to heaven establishing the disciple on the throne.

Mayanamati’s song doesn’t tell us anything else about him. But Gorakshavijay, another famous ballad composed by Nath Yogi Community gives another interesting account about him. Hadi siddha was a saint in his previous birth in the Himalayas who fell in love with goddess Parvati. He tells Parvati that he would accept even the terrible life of a Hadi if a beautiful lady like Parvati reciprocates his love. Parvati told him to go to Meherkula, where the queen Maynamati, who was as beautiful as Parvati, would fall in love with him. Obviously the man would have to work as a sweeper there. In another line, the guru Gorakshnath tells his disciple Kanpha that Hadi Siddha is thrown into prison for having an illicit love affair with Maynamati. In another text collected by Durlabh Mullik, this Hadi Siddha is the all-powerful one who plans everything from his heavenly abode. He is propagator of non-violence who plays more influential role than Gorakshnath here.

From different versions of different texts found in different locations, it is difficult to draw a conclusion about the character of Hadi siddha and the nature of his relationship with the queen Maynamati. Only thing we can tell is that his spiritual power earned lot of reputation at a point of time in Bengal’s history when spirituality used to be mingled with supernatural. In fact, possessing supernatural power did set the height of Hadi siddha’s spiritual existence.

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