HEEMAL AND NAGI-RAAI
is a famous folk tale of Kashmir, “Heemal and Nagi-Raai”. It is an ancient
tale which tells us about the aborigine race of Kashmir, the Nagas and the new
settlers of the valley, the Aryans the Nagas were beautiful by physical features
and they were temperamentally very tolerant. The Aryans were a dominating race
and they were intellectually superior to the Nagas. Therefore, the Aryans could
not develop a harmonious relationship with the Nagas but the tolerant Nagas
tolerated them in their own land. Then in due course of time a cordial
relationship developed between the two races.
tale of Heemal and Nagi-Raai belongs to the rimes when the aborigines (The
Nagas) and the new settlers (The Aryans) were at the threshold of the synthesis
of the two cultures - the Naga culture and the Aryan culture.
In the vicinity of the present Balapur, on the left bank of the Rembiara Nallah, there lived a poor Brahmin who had a short-tempered wife. She always dictated him with her acid tongue and the submissive Brahmin obeyed her orders without any question. Once she asked him to go out for getting some rice, as they had nothing to eat for many days. He obeyed her order but did not know where to go and whom to ask for the rice. Very sadly he left his house and after roaming much he came upon a beautiful spring on the right bank of the Rembiara. Fatigued as he was, he fell fast asleep on the cool banks of the spring and when her woke up, he thought of leaving the cool place; but all of a sudden he noticed that a serpent had crept into his bag, as the rail of the serpent was quite visible outside the mouth of his bag. Suddenly an idea struck his mind. He was sick of the harsh behavior of his wife and here was a chance to get rid of her.
took up the bag and straightway went home. There he called out his wife eagerly
and asked her to take the bag to the worship room and open it there secretly, as
it contained a precious gift for her. As she was a credulous woman, she took the
bag with much curiously and opened it in the worship room. To her alarm a
serpent came out of the bag, but to her surprise it turned into a beautiful
prince. The prince addressed her, “Mother! Don’t fear me. I am Nagi-Raai,
the prince of the Nagas. I shall be your son and you are my mother. “ The
Brahmin’s wife was all joy, as she was an issueless woman. She called out her
husband who was waiting anxiously outside the room to see how she would be stung
by the serpent and would get rid of her. To his surprise he heard her call.
“My husband, how good you are! What a great gift you have got for me”. The
Brahmin gently opened the door and could hardly believe his eyes. A radiant
prince was sitting before his wife, and this was Nagi-Raai. Thus Nagi-Raai came
to the house of the poor Brahmin.
Nagi-Raai was a Naga prince, he gave a fabulous wealth to the poor Brahmin. Now
they wee very rich and they built a beautiful house.
some time the Naga prince revealed the secret of his passionate love for Heemal,
the Aryan princess, to the Brahmin and asked him to approach the Raja of Balapur
, Heemal’s father, for the hand of Heemal. The Brahmin was reluctant at first,
but later, due to the attachment he had developed with the handsome prince, he
went to the Raja of Balapur with the proposal of the marriage between Nagi-Raai
The Raja of Balpore who was an Aryan, was all rage about this improper proposal. He considered his race superior to that of the Nagas. The Raja rejected the proposal first but agreed to their marriage proposal after dejection of his daughter and the marriage was celebrated with the royal gaiety.
Some months passed and the tow lived the life of two passionate lovers. Neither of them could tolerate the separation of the other even for a single day, but soon, ill lick over-shadowed them. Nagi-Raai’s, Naga queens suspects something wrong because of the continuous and long absence of Nagi-Raai from them. They sent their spies and the messages was brought of the marriage of Nagi-Raai with Heemal. The queens who were Nagins, were all rage. They poisoned the mind of Heemal by frequently visiting her and by telling her that the Nagi-Raai was not a high caste prince, but a low caste one and was already married to many Nagins. All this broke Heemal’s heart and she grew suspicious about the sincere love of her husband. Now she was curious enough to know the truth. She asked Nagi-Raai to acquaint her with the truth, Nagi-Raai tried his best to convince her of his sincere love, but she was not convinced. She wanted to know the truth of the word brought to her by the Nagins. Ultimately, seeing no way out, Nagi-Raai took Heemal to his palace where his queens lived, but there Heemal became the victim of their jealously and ultimately she was poisoned to death. Over-come by deep grief over the tragic death of Heemal, Nagi-Raai left the Nagin queens along with the dead body of Heemal. He went into a deep forest and preserved the body there. By chance a hermit passed by and seeing Nagi-Raai bewailing he by his spiritual power brought Heemal to life. Then both Heemal, he and Nagi-Raai lived in the deep forest, away from the jealous “Nagins”. But again ill-luck dogged them. Nagi-Raai once near Heemal. He was in the shape of a serpent guarding her while she was sound asleep. By chance the hermit’s son saw the serpent near Heemal. He thought him to be a danger to Heemal and he killed him brutally. Heemal woke up and saw Nagi-Raai killed before her. She was all woe. She could hardly bear the separation n of her lover. She prepared a pyre (chita) and set it on fire. She threw herself along with the dead Nagi-Raai into the leaping flames of the pyre and both turned into one eternal flame of eternal love and still this day the story of their eternal love communicated by one generation to the other in every home of Kashmir.