Published:  01:11 AM, 08 June 2017

Value of 'Khona's Parables' in Bengali folklore

Value of 'Khona's Parables' in Bengali folklore Khona's portrayal illustrated by an artist

Khona is a widely familiar name throughout the Indian subcontinent, particularly in the arena of folk literature. History says Khona was a woman whose precepts etched deep marks on the minds of people during the medieval era. "Khonar Bochon" or "Khona's Parables" included various dimensions like philosophy, agriculture, life, livelihood, astronomy etc.

It's presumed that Khona was born in Indian subcontinent in between 800 to 1200 AD. Khona is recognized as a medieval poet and prognosticator whose sayings still jingle with striking metaphoric underpinnings. Most of the literary historians believe Khona was born in West Bengal which is why her parables are most popular in Bengali language.

While speaking on Bengali folklore it comes up as a literal compulsion to highlight the proverbial adages of Khona. Historians claim that once medieval Bengali king Bikram Aditya faced problems with weather forecasts as a result of which the farmers of his kingdom could not understand when to plant saplings in their paddy fields. At that time Khona appeared one day at the king's royal court and made some astronomical predictions which soon came true. This thing highly impressed the king. King Bikram Adittya included Khona as one of his royal courtiers after this incident.

Khona's predictions appeared to be so precise that she became all the more applauded and favored by King Bikram Aditya. But unfortunately Khona's fame as a fortune teller generated some opponents who started to conspire against Khona. According to most propagated sources, Khona's enemies one day cut off her tongue. This is how Khona had a pathetic death.

To translate a few lines from Khona's Parables: "If good hearts prevail, nine people can live on one couch" This proverb by Khona emphasizes on the value of amicability which enables people to live with each other happily despite hardships. In another proverb Khona said:  "Cultivate your land while you have bulls or repent throughout the year."

This proverb reminds us of the English idioms, "Make hay while the sun shines" or "Hit the iron while it is hot." This proverb refers to the idea of doing the right job at one's earliest convenience so that he or she does not have to repent afterwards. It shows Khona's proverbs have classical relevance beyond Indian subcontinent. This is a reflection of the notion that literary thoughts cannot be demarcated within territorial boundaries. Let's take a look at another proverb from "Khona's Parables": "Rain at the end of winter indicates a blessed kingdom."

Since Indian subcontinent is an agrarian region, the importance of rainfall among the inhabitants of this area is indispensable. Rain at the end of winter months lead to fertility of farmlands which is beneficial for good cultivation of crops.  Khona's proverbs have stood the test of time.

That's why still people recall "Khona's Parables" and her words are still comprehensively rehearsed for references to different social, political, household and climatic matters. Khona's parables also place a great deal of emphasis on honesty, faith, punctuality, witticism and fraternal relations within human beings. Proverbs are popular things in all countries. Idioms and phrases signify a lot of things both at home and outside. Khona's proverbs are very short but rich with witty meanings.

For this reason, having good command over semantics is necessary to figure out the interpretation of "Khona's Parables". Khona's sense of humor was vividly exposed through her sayings and the compatibility of her precepts has been proven through the display of lifelike features of the idioms she produced which have occupied a special spot in the hearts of people crossing thousands of years. Khona's advice, catchphrases and jargons have become timeless and till today those things are trusted and appreciated by poets, authors, scholars and readers.

Khona's depth of thoughts is clearly understood from the pragmatic traits of her proverbs which she said in allegoric forms. Therefore, readers with sound literary sense get pleasure recollecting her parables. Khona's wisdom and sharp vision of life are also movingly described by means of her idioms.

Khona's precepts remind us about Aesop's fables. Aesop, a storyteller from ancient Greece, conveyed thoughtful and moralistic lessons through his concise tales characterizing animals, birds and humans. Khona's exclusive echelon in the literary and cultural realms of South Asia sounds very close to the eminence of Aesop in the western countries.

However, by means of intertextual allusions literary resources of one country have nowadays become easier to comprehend by readers from other nations through translated works. Like we are aware of the didactic stories by Aesop, I believe inquisitive readers and intellectuals in the western part of the globe are similarly acquainted to the name and idiomatic maxims of Khona.

Proverbs add vital momentum to conversations and make arguments and discourses keenly eye-catching and profoundly whetted when idiomatic watchwords are appropriately attached. For this reason it's essential to understand the hidden meanings of proverbs and parables embedded at the crux of penetrative confabulations.


The writer is a literary analyst for The Asian Age


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