Professional Storyteller

Share a Story - Change the World

This story has many versions, we even have one version mentioned in the Mahabharatha, but this version has been published by The National Book Trust, (India)
Name of the story: Mohini and the Demon Bhasmasura
Source: NBT, New Delhi
Text: Shanta Rameshwar Rao/
Pranab Chakravarti.
Adapted by Sowmya Srinivasan
Every one in the village was frightened of Bhasmasura. He was a demon who lived in a cave in the forest. He had long pointed teeth and black curved horns. His ears were like baskets and his face was covered with thick hair.
This wouldn’t matter if Bhasmasura had been friendly, but he was quite the opposite.
He delighted in frightening people, and when he was hungry he just gobbled them up.
That was not all, he also had magical powers, and that was the real reason people were terrified of him. If he put his hand on someone’s head, the person would turn into “bhasma”, a handful of ash!
People fled on seeing him and he laughed seeing them run. “Ha, Ha Ho, Ho!! There is no one equal to me in the world,” he boasted.
Everyone was scared, except Mohini. She shook her head and thought deeply, “I’m sure there’s a way out of this. I’m very sure, if only we could find it.”
All around people told horrific stories about Bhasmasura. “You don’t know him. He is as old as these mountains. He has magical powers. He has to just put his hands over your head and that’s the end for you, you will become ash…ash!” They said in hushed tones.
Mohini had an old grandmother whom she visited every day. “Tell me about Bhasmasura, Ajji.”
“He lives in a dark cave on top of that big mountain. He walks up and down the countryside, uprooting trees, trampling fields. He brings destruction wherever he goes and has the power of twenty elephants. Along with his magical powers he is invincible! Every one is frightened of him.” Said grandmother.
“I’m not!” Said Mohini
“I’m not frightened of Bhasmasura. There must be a way to destroy this Rakshasa. We mustn’t give up. I won’t give up,” she told the villagers.
You are a foolish girl; you don’t know what you are saying. He will gobble you up, he will turn you to ash, and we don’t know which is worse.
Some of our brave warriors have died trying, said others
But Mohini was quite a stubborn young lady.
After thinking deeply and with much advice from her grandmother, the wise old lady.
She went to the village headman and told him she wanted to destroy Bhasmasura.
They asked her to stop being silly, and stop joking!
The Headman asked her how she planned to destroy this monster
“I’ll dance,” said Mohini simply
Dance! They shouted together. Are you mad?
“No. But please give me a pair of tinkling anklets and your blessings for my successful return” said Mohini with due respect.
At first the headman refused, but then Mohini begged and begged (you know she was stubborn!!)
Finally she set off. She travelled many miles, walking most of the distance, some times taking a ride on a bullock cart, at other times a donkey. Once she even had to cross the river on a raft. Everywhere people spoke about the wickedness of Bhasmasura and his magical powers.
“You can’t defeat him,” said a few, “He is too powerful,” said others.
“It doesn’t help to sit around and do nothing, At least I can give it a try” said Mohini
The people were impressed with her fearless attitude.
At last she reached the cave in the mountains where Bhasmasura lived. She knew this was where he lived as there were rotting flesh and bones lying around.
Mohini stood at the entrance and for the first time felt frightened. It was very silent.
Oh dear, what’s going to happen now. What if the villagers were right? The demon will turn me into ash and then, that will be the end for me. May be I shouldn’t have come.
But the other part of her was telling to take a peep, having come so far at least she wanted to see how he looked.
Let me peep inside. Does he really have two horns? She thought.
She tiptoed near the cave and peeped inside, still she couldn’t see any thing. Maybe there is no Rakshasa(demon), its all imagination…
Suddenly, she heard a great big roar and a thud!
Bhasmasura stood behind her; he had just come back from one of his killing spree.
The monster roared horribly, but Mohini knew there was no escape now and so stood her ground
“Who are you?” bellowed the monster
“My name is Mohini”
“How dare you come to my cave?”
“Oh I heard you are a strong, brave, and intelligent monster, so I came to see you” she said
Now that was a very clever thing to say. Bhasmasura was very happy and he grinned showing his big dirty teeth.
This girl is pretty, she will make a worthy wife, he thought
“Will you marry me Mohini?”
Mohini stared at the demon, and then said, “Yes I will marry you, but on one condition, you must dance with me. Follow my every step. Even if you miss one step, I wont marry you”.
“Ha Ha, that’s not difficult”, he said and got ready to follow her every move.
Mohini fluttered her eyes; Bhasmasura too fluttered his!
Mohini cupped her hand to make a lotus and so did he!
She swayed like an elephant and so did he.
Mohini flitted like a butterfly and he also flitted.
She touched her chin, he touched his.
She touched her toes, so did he.
She whirled, hopped and skipped, and he too did the same.
She put her hand on her head and he put his hand on his head…
The next minute there was no Bhasmasura; there was only a heap of ash where the demon stood.
I better get back home as quickly as I can, other wise grand mother will be worried she thought
Happily she skipped her way back to the village
Seeing her safe and sound, the whole village rushed to greet and rejoice with her
“Jai Mohini Jai, Brave Courageous Mohini”, they shouted, and carried her on their shoulders all over the village.
The end

Jai Mohini Jai Jai
She never gave up
She kept on trying
Till Bhasmasuran was
Tricked into dying

(Jai in Hindi means "Hail")

Views: 251

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

This is a beautiful story! Thank you for sharing it. Do you use participation from the audience when you tell it? Do you ask the audience to dance with Mohini and sing with the villagers? This story reminds me of Abiyoyo - do you know it?: text attached AUDIO: Pete Seeger's Greatest Hits [2002] Pete Seeger Abiyoyo (Stories to Go!) by Pete Seeger and Michael Hays (Hardcover - Jan 6, 2005)
Once upon a time there was a little boy, who played a Banjo. He'd go around town: clink, clunk, CLONK! Of course, the grownups would be busy, cooking, cleaning, washing and they'd say:
"Take that thing out of here. We're working. Git!" And they'd kick him out of the house.
Not only that. The boy's father would get in trouble, too. His father was a magician. He had a magic wand. He could go Zoop! with it, and make things disappear.
But the father was a terrible practical joker. He'd come up to someone just about to drink a nice glass of...something. Zoop! The glass would disappear. He'd come up to someone doing a hard job of work - maybe sawing a log of wood: zzt, zzt, zzt. Up comes the father: Zoop! And the saw would disappear. He'd come up to someone just about to sit down after a hard day's work, and zoop! no chair.
People got tired of all this. They said to the father: "You get out of here too. Take your magic wand and your practical jokes and you and your son, just git!"
And the boy and his father, they ostracized them. That means, they made 'em live on the outskirts of town.
Now, in this town they used to tell stories. The old people used to tell stories about the monsters and giants that lived in the old days! They used to tell a story about Abiyoyo. They said he was as tall as a house, and could eat...people...up. (Of course, nobody believed it, but they told the stories anyway).
But one day, one day, the sun rose, blood red over the hill. And the first people that got up and looked out of their window - they saw a great big shadow in front of the sun. And they could feel the whole ground shake (Stomp, stomp.)
Women screamed. Strong men fainted. The children said. Run for your lives! Abiyoyo's coming! Stomp Stomp

Down through the fields he came. He came to the sheep, pasture and grabs a whole sheep. Baah! He eats it down in one bite. He comes to the cow pasture. Mooo! Up to a chicken coop! Bruuk Bruuk Bruuk! Gone Stomp Stomp
Just then the boy and his father woke up. I think they'd been up late the night before at a party. The boy rubbed his eyes and said: "Hey, Pa, what's coming over the fields?" The father said: "Oh,no son! It's Abiyoyo! Oh, if only I could get him to lie down. I could get him to disappear." The boy said, "Come with me Pa." He grabbed his father by one hand. The father grabbed the magic wand, and the boy grabbed his banjo. Over the fields they went, right up to where Abiyoyo was.
There was Abiyoyo. He had long fingernails, 'cause he never cut 'em. He had slobbery teeth 'cause he never brushed them. Matted hair, 'cause he never combed it. Stinking feet, 'cause he never washed them. He was just about to come down with his claws, when the boy whipped out his banjo. And started to sing and play:
Abiyoyo, Abiyoyo Abiyoyo, Abiyoyo Abiyoyo, yo yoyo yo yoyo Abiyoyo, yo yoyo yo yoyo Abi. . .
Well, the monster had never heard a song about himself before, and a foolish grin spread across his face. And the monster started to dance. ABIYOYO, ABIYOYO, The boy went faster. ABIYOYO...and faster. The giant got out of breath. He staggered. He tripped on his dirty feet. He fell down flat on the ground. Zoop, zoop! went the father with his magic wand, and Abiyoyo disappeared. People streamed out of their houses, and ran across the fields. They said: "Why, he's gone, he's disappeared!" They said: "Come on back to town. Bring your magic wand and your banjo! " And they sang them back to town. Story by Pete Seeger. Music: African Traditional (c) 1963 Fall River Music Inc.
Children somehow really connect to magic and comedy! This story is quite similar to what i sent, a variation if i may say so. I can actually visualize the story, big movements, music, and magic. Thank you, a valuable addition to my collection!
I make the children dance with Mohini, and the final song is sung by all with gusto.
" a variation if i may say so." Yes that is what I thought. It seems so and makes me wonder if Pete Seeger borrowed from an Indian variant even though he says the story is from Africa. Or if the love for "magic and comedy" are just that universal? "I make the children dance with Mohini, and the final song is sung by all with gusto." Yes - I could so clearly picture that, so I had to ask.

Thanks for starting this thread. I hope others join and we continue to share and increase our knowledge!
I want to make 3 comments:
I have done stories for children below 12 years of age , so my experience is quite limited!! (I am an infant in this field and trying to gain as much sensorial experience as i can!)
I would love to know if "the love for magic and comedy is universal"?
I think every story, no matter its place of origin takes on the unique identity of the teller and his environment. I started thinking about "variations" and came across an African story which is also found in the Jataka Tales(The Crocodile and the Monkey), the african version has a shark instead of a croc. and is a Swahili story from East Africa (From When Lions could Fly ,told by Nick Greaves).
A wonderful variation of the Hare and the Tortoise is called "The race that was rigged" (a swazi story, from When Hippo was Hairy, told by Nick Greaves), where the tortoise fed up with the teasing hare, tricks the hare by planting his friends at intervals and deceiving the hare by making him believe it was the same tortoise from beg. to end.
so do send me your comments on these thoughts!
Sorry for my delayed response - your question was a deep one and I have been away.
You wrote :
I would love to know if "the love for magic and comedy" is universal ?I think every story, no matter its place of origin takes on the unique identity of the teller and his environment.

Such a large and intriguing question. May I post our exchange at my local storytelling .ning ( and listserv and see what those, much wiser than I, may have to say?

I think comedy is an uniquely human response to the surplus of tragedy that lies just beneath the surface of our all too mortal existence. Is it universal ? Well, laughter is. Comedy, the material that makes one laugh is often peculiar to the "place of origin takes on the unique identity of the teller and his environment".
Fascinating topic - thanks for raising it.
all the best,
Wow! I have heard this story a million times and in many versions, but I think your way of telling it is much more exciting! I just got few questions: is this a story you tell in a particular festivity? Also I always wonder, is this same Mohini as Vishnu Avatar Mohini Murti?
thanks for sharing!
The uniqueness of the story is in the manner in which it can be told. I love this story as it emphasizes the courage and perseverance of the little girl.
Of course, it is a version, so Vishnu Avatar Mohini is probably the source. But at times such religious figures may not be appreciated by all, so this version is general, and can be used for any audience and at any time. You could adapt it for a particular festivity if you wish.
I also do a puppet show for Navrathri, on Mahishasuramardhini/Durga....using stick puppets.
I have not started storytelling in Kanpur.
Thank You




© 2020   Created by Don 'Buck P' Creacy.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service