Veeraswamy Krishnaraj
Mangala Nayaki Claims Her Place

Two majestic figures appeared at the gate. The elder one gently unlatched it, and the two advanced gracefully into the front garden. They were none other than a mother and daughter elephant duo. They seemed to be guided by an enigmatic force as they strolled through the cultivated fields of sugarcane, corn, and rice at the forest's edge. Surprisingly, they didn't disturb a single corn tassel, sugarcane stalk, or rice panicle. Even though they lived in the wild, their behavior was far from wild. The mother's trumpet resonated like a thundercloud, alerting everyone in the solitary house that it was an elephant. Bewildered, they emerged from the house, gazing upon these peaceful elephants, unsure of what to make of their presence in the front yard.

The Mirasdar, a wealthy landowner and owner of the house, along with his grandchildren, stood at the top of the front steps, utterly astonished by the spectacle. As the crowd on the front porch remained dumbfounded, the grandmother slowly made her way to the porch and, in a feeble voice, exclaimed, "Welcome home, youngsters."

Perplexed by his mother's unusual welcome, the man of the house inquired, "What do you mean, mother?" She replied, "They are your great-great-great grandmother and her daughter. You might have been unaware of our family history, but not anymore. These are the souls reincarnated in elephant bodies. They are your ancestors." The Mirasdar, thoroughly confounded and unable to verify her claim, challenged his mother, saying, "Mom, you can't make such assertions without proof." To this, his mother retorted, "You seek proof? I shall provide you not just one, but two."

She gestured towards the temple and asked, "Do you know who built the Ganesha temple?" "Now I understand, but that is not definitive proof," the son countered. His mother continued, "Ah! I see you require further confirmation. Just because your great-great-great grandmother is not here in person does not negate her existence. I possess a bundle of papers and some palm leaf documents that contain the proof." She hurried to the basement, her son following closely, and retrieved the documents from an old teakwood box. She unveiled the palm leaf document, which read, "I, Mangala Nayaki, declare that the Ganesh temple is constructed from my wealth, and in the future, my daughter and I must be born as elephants." The Mirasdar's mother declared, "Son, here is the proof. The Ganesh temple you visit, pray at, and maintain was constructed by your dear ancestor, Mangala Nayaki. Her and her daughter's aspirations have come true. Embrace these elephants, build them a shelter, and provide for them from your fortune and that of your descendants."

The Mirasdar accepted this explanation and visited the temple to look for further evidence. The inscriptions on the temple clearly mentioned the names of his ancestor and her daughter as the temple's builders, along with the prophecy that they would be reborn as elephants.

Seeking guidance, the Mirasdar consulted the head priest about the arrival of the two elephants at his bungalow. The priest explained, "This story is entirely believable. The birth and arrival of these elephants at your residence are evidence of reincarnation, a phenomenon known as metempsychosis. Care for your ancestors who have returned as elephants."

After worshiping Ganesha and paying homage to their ancestors, they all returned home. The grandchildren eagerly awaited the chance to ride the elephants. The Mirasdar decided to construct a shelter for the mother and daughter elephants near the temple and appointed caretakers.

The elephants displayed remarkable friendliness, as if accustomed to human presence. Children approached them without fear, and the elephants even allowed the children to ride on their backs. These elephants dutifully served the temple, the very temple they had built in their previous lives.

Then, a disembodied voice shook the assembled crowd and Mangala Nayaki's descendants, proclaiming, "We are finally home." The temple elephants trumpeted in agreement and raised their trunks toward the sky.

Finally, the Mirasdar let go of his doubts and congratulated himself and his family for the extraordinary visit of their ancestors to their home and temple.