During my recent Sunderban visit, I heard this interesting legend about Netidhopani which I thought would be good to share with all of you. So, here goes the story:
The waterways of Sunderban (which are presently in India and Bangladesh) were once popular trade-routes. It was through these routes that the ships of Chand-saudagar (a famous trader) passed, bringing him great fortune. Chand-saudagar was an avid worshipper of Lord Shiva. Goddess Manasa tried to get him worship her but in vain!!! Annoyed at his stubbornness, the goddess finally cursed him. As a result, Chand-saudagar lost his wealth, his ships sank, six of his children died after birth and his hardships continued. While he was going from one place to another, his seventh son, Lakhinder, was born. Luckily, this child survived and went on to marry Behula.
Chand saudagar was alerted by Lord Shiva about the imminent death of his son. So, he ordered a room made of iron where no one could enter for the newly married couple of Behula-Lakhinder. Lord Viswakarma was asked to build this iron-castle. However, goddess Manasa was able to convince Viswakarma to keep a small hole in the otherwise solid structure, almost impossible for anyone to enter. The newly married couple entered this castle to spend their first night, quite oblivious of the fact of what lay ahead. As the couple was tired, they went to sleep. The bride, Behula, slept with her hair open (she had long and beautiful hair) that touched the floor. While Behula-Lakhinder slept, a snake slipped into the room and was trying to reach Lakhinder, who was sleeping on a specially-made bed that was inaccessible by a snake from the floor. Suddenly, the loose ends of Behula’s hair offered an easy route. Thus, the snake made its way to the bed and bit Lakhinder, thereby draining his life from the body. (People say that this is one reason why women are asked not to sleep with their hairs open at night).
Next morning, when Behula woke up, she found her husband dead from the snake’s poison. As the news was passed on, the merry scenario changed to a gloomy one in a few seconds. Chand saudagar was at a loss, thinking where he went wrong in his construction of the iron-castle. At the same time, the inability to save his last heir was breaking his heart. Goddess Manasa appeared at this moment and asked Chand saudagar to offer his prayers to her. She promised that if he did so, his son would be blessed to live again. But Chand saudagar was adamant. He had been a devout devotee of Shiva and couldn’t change sides, even if it meant losing his son forever.
So, on a boat, the body of Lakhinder was placed and made to float on the river. Behula accompanied her husband on this last journey. When the boat was passing the bank of what is now called Netidhopani, Behula saw an interesting thing. A woman was washing clothes and a child was continually disturbing her. Annoyed, she sprinkled some water on the boy. The boy became lifeless. The woman finished her laundry and then again sprinkled some water on the boy, chanting some mantras, to bring him back to life.
Behula decided in a flash that this was the person who could bring her husband back to life. She rowed the boat to the bank and asked the lady (Netidhopani) to teach her the verses. The lady asked Behula to be her maid and serve her with diligence. Only then would she grant her wish. Many months passed-by as Behula served her unquestionably. Finally, one day she put her foot down and asked Netidhopani to tell her the secret verses by which she could bring Lakhinder back to life. At this, Netidhopani told that her verses don’t have the capability to do so as Lakhinder died due to the curse of a goddess. However, she offered to take Behula to heaven instead. Behula agreed and came to heaven. There, she prayed to Lord Shiva for Lakhinder’s life. Shiva said, “Manasa is my daughter. I can’t do such a thing to insult her. It’s better for you to return and find your father-in-law. Ask him to offer his prayers to the goddess. Only then will your husband be alive again.”
Behula came back, found her father-in-law after much difficulty and finally persuaded him to worship Manasa. However, Chand saudagar agreed only on the condition that he would offer his prayers by left hand (to show his displeasure and as a mark of protest). Thus, Lakhinder defeated death and lived happily ever after with Behula. This whole story is mentioned in Manasa-Mangal.
In this way, Netidhopani has a connection with the famous legend of Behula-Lakhinder.