Today we will tell you a story of a great warrior, and exceptional social reformer and folk-deity of Rajasthan, who is worshipped in Northern Indian states. He was from Rajasthan, the land of Rajputana, famous for many heroic events, heroic stories, and unheard examples where people put their lives and families at risk and kept the pride and upheld moral values like freedom, truth, and loyalty above their lives. Veer Teja Ji was among such heroes and unarguably one of the most famous persons in the history of Rajasthan.
Veer Tejaji is the most famous folk-deity who lived in Rajasthan. As per historians, he was born on Friday, Magha Shukla 14 samvat 1130 (29 January 1074). He was born in the family of Dhaulya gotra Jats. His father’s name was Chaudhary Tahar, a chieftain of Khirnal in Nagaur district in Rajasthan.
His parents were ardent worshippers of Bhagwan Shiva. It is said that his mother Ramkunwari went to Tyod and worshipped Nagaraja for the birth of her son. She got a boon from Nagaraja and delivered a boy who had an exceptional aura, that’s why he was named Teja.
Tejaji married Pemal, who was a daughter of Raimal of Jhanjhar gotra, who was a chieftain of Paner. She was married to Tejaji in the early childhood when she was only 6 months old and Tejaji was just 9 months old. Their marriage took place at Pushkar Ghat on Pushkar Purnima of 1074 AD.
She was able to meet with Tejaji only in the last days of her life and became Sati when Tejaji died fighting with the enemies for the protection of cows.
It is said that Pemal’s mama Khaju Kala of Jayal was not in favor of this relationship and had enmity with the Dhaulya family, which led to a massive dispute and Tejaji’s father Tahar Dev killed Khaju Kala with the sword.
Story of Tejaji’s sacrifice
In Rajasthan, it was a tradition that chieftain of a specific clan or a village had to initiate the ploughing of fields after the first rains in Jyeshta (May-June) month. Due to some urgent work, Tejaji’s father and brother were out of the village and as this was first rains, his mother asked him to perform ploughing in the fields. Tejaji went to fields and started his work.
His Sister in law bring food for him but somehow got late, which angered Tejaji. To counter Tejaji’s anger, she taunted him and said that he is incapable of bringing his wife Pemal from her father’s home and it is shameful for him. This provoked Tejaji a lot and he decided to bring his wife from his in-law’s home. Tejaji was also instructed to bring his sister Rajal first so that she can receive Pemal on her first arrival to Kharnal.
When Tejaji was on way to village Tabiji to bring his sister, he was attacked by Meena sardar. There was a war and Tejaji defeated Meena sardar and reached village Tabiji, got permission of her sister’s husband Jogaji Siyag and brought Rajal to Kharnal.
The next day he started his journey to Paner to bring his wife Pemal back. It was a difficult journey, but he crossed all the rivers running full of water due to heavy rains at that time. He reached Paner by evening and entered his in-law’s house. His mother-in-law was engaged in milking her cows and due to Tejaji’s sudden entry, the cows got disturbed. His mother-in-law could not recognize Tejaji, and with seething anger, she cursed him that he be bite by a black snake as he has disturbed her cows.
Tejaji got angry over this comment and decided to return without Pemal. However, there was a girl named Lachha Gujari, who was a close friend of Pemal. She decided to set up a meeting of Pemal with Tejaji. She met Tejaji and gave Pemal’s message that if Tejaji does not come she will die. She also conveyed that Pemal’s parentss had decided to re-marriage her with some other person.
Upon listening to this ordeal, Tejaji came to Paner to meet Pemal. While they were talking with each other that they heard knock of Lachha Gujari. Lachha told Tejaji that thieves have taken away all her cows and nobody is ready to help her.
Tejaji was filled with anger and mounted his mare ‘Lilan’ and started alone to fight with dacoits, who had taken away Lachha’s cows. Tejaji found that dacoits who had stolen the cows of Lachhan Gujari were Meena Sardar’s people. Tejaji, who was made for helping others, decided to bring those cows back as soon as possible.
The myth is that he encountered a snake burning in the fire that was saved by Teja. That snake cursed Teja and wanted to bite Teja. In fact, he had encountered a Nagavanshi chieftain Basak Naga, and he had a war with him. He promised to come back after bringing his wife Pemal.
He was badly wounded in the process to bring Gujari’s cows back from dacoits. Veer Tejaji was a man of his words. While returning he kept his words and produced himself before the snake. The snake did not find an unwounded place on the body of Tejaji, so he offered to bite on the tongue.
Teja died due to snakebite on 28 August 1103. Historical facts are that while Tejaji was returning from Paner with his wife he was attacked jointly by Meenas, who were defeated earlier, and Nagavanshi chieftains. Tejaji and his wife fought bravely with the sword. Tejaji was killed in the war and Pemal became Sati at a place called Sursura. Tejaji’s sister Rajal had also become sati which is a unique example of sister becoming sati in Indian history.
Veer Tejaji – A diety
Basak Naga, who killed Tejaji was very much pleased with him as he kept his words. Basak Naga gave a boon that Teja would be a deity of Kaliyuga, would be worshipped in every house. Veer Tejaji was a great saint and we can see a huge number of temples of Veer Tejaji across Rajasthan.
It is believed that if a person suffering from snakebite goes to the samadhi of Teja or puts a chord (tanti) in Tejaji’s name, he is cured. Tejaji is a demigod with the power to spare from death any snakebite victim who ties an amulet in Tejaji’s name. And to this day the priests of Tejaji’s temples go into trance and suck the poison out of snakebites and then tie a thread around the wrist or ankle of the victim. And it is believed that no one so treated will die from the bite.
To remember the bravery and sacrifice of veer Tejaji, several fairs are held in temple towns that have temples dedicated to Tejaji on on the occasion of Teja Dasmi (Bhadrapada Shukla Dashmi) in various cities of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Haryana.
Tejaji martyred himself on Bhadrapada Shukla Dashmi in V.S. 1160 (Saturday 28 August 1103 AD) fighting with the enemies for the protection of cows at Sursura, Kishangarh, Ajmer. Sursura is considered as Mukti Dham. A large fair, Mela Tejaji, Takes place on the eleventh lunar day of Bhadrapad Shukla Paksha (Aug.-Sept.) every year in village Parbatsar, District Nagaur in Rajasthan.