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Short Stories

      Matanga - The World’s First Crusader of Untouchability

Once upon a time, Bodhisatta was born in a Chandala family and was named as Matanga. During those days when he was born, the caste-system was very strict in ancient India and also the untouchability was out of control.

One day, a pretty maiden  whose name was Ditthamangalika, which was the daughter of a prosperous and was supposed to call ‘high-caste’ family. She was on her way to a park to roam with her friends. But before, she could enter the park, she saw Matanga coming towards them from the opposite direction. In a view of his sight ‘inauspicious’, because he was a ‘Chandala’ and ‘untouchable’ according to the social custom of the time and place, she suddenly, move back and turned away to go back to her palace. This made her friends angry. They disrespectfully caught the poor man and beat him by calling him “untouchable”. Thus, they punished him for coming through the path on which they proposed to walk. Injured and upset, Matanga rest there unconscious and bleeding.

When he get back on his consciousness he strongly challenged the wicked system of untouchability and taught to choose the way of non-violent peace protest by sitting on a hunger strike in front of the Ditthamangalika’s palace for seven days to fulfill his demand of marriage with Ditthamangalika. Then he looked very thin and thought everything what he was doing is useless and he appeared as if he was to die soon. The social evil of the untouchability was so strong those days that the father of the girl decided to get free of his daughter rather than to let an ‘untouchable’ die on his door-step. So, he pushed his daughter out of his house to let her marry Matanga.

When Ditthamangalika’s pride flow away, Matanga decided to admire her. He, therefore, asked her to invite all her public and make an announcement that her husband was the ‘Greatest Brahmin’ by way of his righteous karma. When all the people assembled there to know about the truth, Matanga unbelievably appeared before them by breaking the moon’s disc. This bring back the honour of his wife and since from that time she was no longer treated as a outsider or an ‘untouchanble’ in that city.

However, on the other hand, the wicked social custom of untouchability did not stop there. Still most of the people practised that custom in the city. So, Matanga thought of teaching a lesson to those kind of people. He, therefore, one day threw a tooth-pick into the river, which flee and matted in the hair of a arrogant Brahmin, whose name was Jatimanta. Irritated by this, the brahmin looked around and found that it was Matanga - a ‘low caste man’ -who had thrown the tooth-pick into the river. So, vexed and furious, he went to him and scold and refuse him. Further, he threatened him to quit from the river-side immediately for fear that his head would break into seven pieces on the seventh day by the force of the brahmin’s spiritual power. Matanga was not at all frightened. He accepted the challenge daringly and did not leave the place. He instead verified his power by stopping the sun to rise for seven days. The people then got motivated with the brahmin, because he had insulted Matanga, who in turn had stopped the sun-rise. So, they caught hold of Jatimanta, and brought him before Matanga and forced him to ask for forgiveness by bowing his head on latter’s feet. Matanga then forgave him but the People kicked the Brahmin out of the city.

One day, Matanga visited Mejjha country, where the brahmin had made his dwelling place. By chance, the latter saw him there, and decided to take revenge of his embarrassment. So, he plan with the local king to arrest and kill Matanga by untruly accusing him to be a sorcerer. The foolish king took the advice of the brahmin and sent his men to kill him on the spot as fast as they could find him. The king’s men find out Matanga in an hotel, where he was taking dinner. They suddenly attacked him from behind and kill him by swords and spears. Thus, came the saga of Matanga, who is often called a ‘legend’, to an end. However, on the other hand, his memory shall always remain alive in the hearts of the people to be a permanent source of inspiration because he was the first in the world to have challenged the wicked system of untouchability.

Matanga’s final story was, however, rewritten by the Nature, which became furious at his terrible murder, and showered hot ashes from heavens to completely wipe out the Mejjha kingdom and the history records the event in these words of the writer:

The country of Mejjha was destroyed
Due to the terrible killing of hero Matanga,
Thus they say,
"The nature swept away the nation in revenge."