Folklore of the Santal Parganas
Translated by Cecil Henry Bompas of the Indian Civil Service
The Santals are a Munda tribe, a branch of that aboriginal element which probably entered India from the North East. At the present day they inhabit the Eastern outskirts of the Chutia Nagpore plateau.
Originally hunters and dwellers in the jungle they are still but indifferent agriculturists. Like the Mundas and Hos and other representatives of the race, they are jovial in character, fond of their rice beer, and ready to take a joke.
Their social organization is very complete; each village has its headman or manjhi, with his assistant the paranik; the jogmanghi is charged with the supervision of the morals of the young men and women; the naeke is the village priest, the godet is the village constable. Over a group of villages is the pargana or tribal chief. The Santals are divided into exogamous septs—originally twelve in number, and their social observances are complex, e.g. while some relations treat each other with the greatest reserve, between others the utmost freedom of intercourse is allowed.
Their religion is animistic, spirits (bongas) are everywhere around them: the spirits of their ancestors, the spirit of the house, the spirit dwelling in the patch of primeval forest preserved in each village. Every hill tree and rock may have its spirit. These spirits are propitiated by elaborate ceremonies and sacrifices which generally terminate in dances, and the drinking of rice beer.
The Santal Parganas is a district 4800 sq. miles in area, lying about 150 miles north of Calcutta, and was formed into a separate administration after the Santals had risen in rebellion in 1856. The Santals at present form about one-third of the population.
The stories and legends which are here translated have been collected by the Rev. O. Bodding, D.D. of the Scandinavian Mission to the Santals. To be perfectly sure that neither language nor ideas should in any way be influenced by contact with a European mind he arranged for most of them to be written out in Santali, principally by a Christian convert named Sagram Murmu, at present living at Mohulpahari in the Santal Parganas.
Santali is an agglutinative language of great regularity and complexity but when the Santals come in contact with races speaking an Aryan language it is apt to become corrupted with foreign idioms. The language in which these stories have been written is beautifully pure, and the purity of language may be accepted as an index that the ideas have not been affected, as is often the case, by contact with Europeans.
My translation though somewhat condensed is very literal, and the stories have perhaps thereby an added interest as shewing the way in which a very primitive people look at things. The Santals are great story tellers; the old folk of the village gather the young people round them in the evening and tell them stories, and the men when watching the crops on the threshing floor will often sit up all night telling stories.
There is however, no doubt that at the present time the knowledge of these stories tends to die out. Under the peace which British rule brings there is more intercourse between the different communities and castes, a considerable, degree of assimilation takes place, and old customs and traditions tend to be obliterated.
Several collections of Indian stories have been made, e.g. Stokes, Indian Fairy Tales; Frere, Old Deccan Days; Day, Folk Tales of Bengal; and Knowles' Folk Tales of Kashmir, and it will be seen that all the stories in the present collection are by no means of pure Santal origin. Incidents which form part of the common stock of Indian folklore abound, and many of the stories professedly relate to characters of various Hindu castes, others again deal with such essentially Santal beliefs as the dealings of men and bongas.
The Rev. Dr. Campbell of Gobindpore published in 1891 a collection of Santal Folk Tales. He gathered his material in the District of Manbhum, and many of the stories are identical with those included in the present volume. I have added as an appendix some stories which I collected among the Hos of Singhbhum, a tribe closely related to the Santals, and which the Asiatic Society of Bengal has kindly permitted me to reprint here.
My task has been merely one of translation; it is due solely to Mr Bodding's influence with, and intimate knowledge of, the people that the stories have been committed to writing, and I have to thank him for assistance and advice throughout my work of translation.
I have roughly classified the stories: in part 1 are stories of a general character; part 2, stories relating to animals; in part 3, stories which are scarcely folklore but are anecdotes relating to Santal life; in Part 4, stories relating to the dealings of bongas and men. In part 5, are some legends and traditions, and a few notes relating to tribal customs. Part 6 contains illustrations of the belief in witchcraft. I have had to omit a certain number of stories as unsuited for publication.
C. H. Bompas.
Table of Contents
I. Bajun and Jhore II. Anuwa and His Mother III. Ledha and the Leopard IV. The Cruel Stepmother V. Karmu and Dharmu VI. The Jealous Stepmother VII. The Pious Woman VIII. The Wise Daughter-in-Law IX. The Oilman and His Sons X. The Girl Who Found Helpers XI. How to Grow Rich XII. The Changed Calf XIII. The Koeri and the Barber XIV. The Prince Who Acquired Wisdom XV. The Monkey Boy XVI. The Miser's Servant XVII. Kuwar and the Raja's Daughter XVIII. The Laughing Fish XIX. How the Cowherd Found a Bride XX. Kara and Guja XXI. The Magic Cow XXII. Lita and His Animals XXIII. The Boy Who Found His Father XXIV. The Oilman's Bullock XXV. How Sabai Grass Grew XXVI. The Merchant's Son and the Raja's Daughter XXVII. The Flycatcher's Egg XXVIII. The Wife Who Would Not Be Beaten XXIX. Sahde Goala XXX. The Raja's Son and the Merchant's Son XXXI. The Poor Widow XXXII. The Monkey and the Girl XXXIII. Ramai and the Animals XXXIV. The Magic Bedstead XXXV. The Ghormuhas XXXVI. The Boy Who Learnt Magic XXXVII. The Charitable Jogi XXXVIII. Chote and Mote XXXIX. The Daydreamer XL. The Extortionate Sentry XLI. The Broken Friendship XLII. A Story Told By a Hindoo XLIII. The Raibar and the Leopard XLIV. The Ungrateful Snake XLV. The Tiger's Bride XLVI. The Killing of the Tiger XLVII. The Dream XLVIII. The King of the Bhuyans XLIX. The Foolish Sons L. Kora and His Sister LI. A Story on Caste LII. Tipi and Tepa LIII. The Child With the Ears of the Ox LIV. The Child Who Knew His Father LV. Jogeshwar's Marriage LVI. The Strong Man LVII. The Raja's Advice LVIII. The Four Jogis LIX. The Charitable Raja LX. A Variant.—The Wandering Raja LXI. The Two Wives LXII. Spanling and His Uncles LXIII. The Silent Wife LXIV. The Dumb Shepherd LXV. The Good Daughter-in-Law LXVI. The Raja's Dream LXVII. The Mongoose Boy LXVIII. The Stolen Treasure LXIX. Dukhu and His Bonga Wife LXX. The Monkey Husband LXXI. Lakhan and the Wild Buffaloes LXXII. The Boy with the Stag LXXIII. The Seven Brothers and the Bonga Girl LXXIV. The Tiger's Foster Child LXXV. The Caterpillar Boy LXXVI. The Monkey Nursemaid LXXVII. The Wife Who Could Not Keep a Secret LXXVIII. Sit and Lakhan LXXIX. The Raja Who went to Heaven LXXX. Seven Tricks and Single Trick LXXXI. Fuljhari Raja LXXXII. The Corpse of the Raja's Son LXXXIII. The Sham Child LXXXIV. The Sons of the Kherohuri Raja LXXXV. The Dog Bride LXXXVI. Wealth or Wisdom LXXXVII. A Goala and the Cow LXXXVIII. The Telltale Wife LXXXIX. The Bridegroom Who Spoke in Riddles XC. The Lazy Man XCI. Another Lazy Man XCII. The Widow's Son XCIII. The Boy Who Was Changed Into a Dog XCIV. Birluri and Birbanta XCV. The Killing of the Rakhas XCVI. The Children of the Vultures XCVII. The Ferryman XCVIII. Catching a Thief XCIX. The Grasping Raja C. The Prince Who Would Not Marry CI. The Prince Who Found Two Wives CII. The Unfaithful Wife CIII. The Industrious Bride CIV. The Boy and His Fate CV. The Messengers of Death CVI. The Speaking Crab CVII. The Leopard Outwitted CVIII. The Wind and the Sun CIX. The Coldest Season
CX. The Jackal and the Crow CXI. The Tiger Cub and the Calf CXII. The Jackal and the Chickens CXIII. The Jackal Punished CXIV. The Tigers and the Cat CXV. The Elephants and the Ants CXVI. A Fox and His Wife CXVII. The Jackal and the Crocodiles CXVIII. The Bullfrog and the Crab CXIX. The Hyena Outwitted CXX. The Crow and the Egret CXXI. The Jackal and the Hare CXXII. The Brave Jackal CXXIII. The Jackal and the Leopards
CXXIV. The Fool and His Dinner CXXV. The Stingy Daughter CXXVI. The Backwards and Forwards Dance CXXVII. The Deaf Family CXXVIII. The Father-in-Law's Visit CXXIX. Ramai and Somai CXXX. The Two Brothers CXXXI. The Three Fools CXXXII. The Cure For Laziness CXXXIII. The Brahmin's Powers CXXXIV. Ram's Wife CXXXV. Palo CXXXVI. The Women's Sacrifice CXXXVII. The Thief's Son CXXXVIII. The Divorce CXXXIX. The Father and the Father-in-Law CXL. The Reproof CXLI. Enigmas CXLII. The Too Particular Wife CXLIII. The Paharia Socialists CXLIV. How A Tiger Was Killed CXLV. The Goala's Daughter CXLVI. The Brahmin's Clothes CXLVII. The Winning of the Bride
CXLVIII. Marriage With Bongas CXLIX. The Bonga Heaven CL. Lakhan and the Bonga CLI. The House Bonga CLII. The Sarsagun-Maiden CLIII. The Schoolboy and the Bonga CLIV. The Bonga's Cave CLV. The Bonga's Victim CLVI. Baijal and the Bonga CLVII. Ramai and the Bonga CLVIII. The Boundary Bonga CLIX. The Bonga Exorcised
CLX. The Beginning of Things CLXI. Chando and His Wife CLXII. The Sikhar Raja CLXIII. The Origin of Tobacco CLXIV. The Transmigration of Souls CLXV. The Next World CLXVI. After Death CLXVII. Hares and Men CLXVIII. A Legend CLXIX. Pregnant Women CLXX. The Influence of the Moon CLXXI. Illegitimate Children CLXXII. The Dead CLXXIII. A Hunting Custom
CLXXIV. Witchcraft CLXXV. Of Dains and Ojhas CLXXVI. Initiation Into Witchcraft CLXXVII. Witch Craft CLXXVIII. Witch Stories CLXXIX. Witch Stories CLXXX. Witch Stories CLXXXI. The Two Witches CLXXXII. The Sister-in-Law Who Was a Witch CLXXXIII. Ramjit Bonga CLXXXIV. The Herd Boy and the Witches CLXXXV. The Man-Tiger
Folklore of the Kolhan
In these stories there are many incidents which appear in stories collected in other parts of India, though it is rather surprising that so few of them appear elsewhere in their entirety. We have however, instances of the husk myth, the youngest son who surpasses his brother, the life of the ogre placed in some external object, the jealous stepmother, the selection of a king by an elephant, the queen whose husband is invariably killed on his wedding night, etc. etc.
Few of the old Indian stories found in the Katha Sarit Sagara or the Buddhist Birth stories appear in recognizable form in the present collection.
I. Bajun and Jhore.
Once upon a time there were two brothers named Bajun and Jhore. Bajun was married and one day his wife fell ill of fever. So, as he was going ploughing, Bajun told Jhore to stay at home and cook the dinner and he bade him put into the pot three measures of rice. Jhore stayed at home and filled the pot with water and put it on to boil; then he went to look for rice measures; there was only one in the house and Jhore thought "My brother told me to put in three measures and if I only put in one I shall get into trouble." So he went to a neighbour's house and borrowed two more measures, and put them into the pot and left them to boil. At noon Bajun came back from ploughing and found Jhore stirring the pot and asked him whether the rice was ready. Jhore made no answer, so Bajun took the spoon from him, saying "Let me feel how it is getting on", but when he stirred with the spoon he heard a rattling noise and when he looked into the pot he found no rice but only three wooden measures floating about; then he turned and abused Jhore for his folly, but Jhore said "You yourself told me to put in three measures and I have done so." So Bajun had to set to work and cook the rice himself and got his dinner very late.
Next day Bajun said to Jhore, "You don't know how to cook the dinner; I will stay at home to-day, you go to plough, and take a hatchet with you and if the plough catches in a root or anything, give a cut with the hatchet." So Jhore went ploughing and when the plough caught in anything and stopped, he gave a cut with his hatchet at the legs of the bullocks; they backed and plunged with the pain and then he only chopped at them the more until he lamed them both. At noon Bajun saw the bullocks come limping back and asked what was the matter with them. "O," said Jhore, "that is because I cut at them as you told me." "You idiot," said Bajun, "I meant you to give a cut at the roots in which the plough got caught, not at the legs of the bullocks; how will you live if you do such silly things? You cannot plough, you must stay at home and cook the rice. I will show you this evening how it is done." So after that Jhore stayed at home and cooked. Bajun's wife grew no better, so one day Bajun, before he went to the fields, told Jhore to warm some water in order that his wife might wash with it. But Jhore made the water boiling hot and then took it and began to pour it over his sister-in-law as she lay on her bed; she was scalded and shrieked out "Don't pour it over me," but Jhore only laughed and went on pouring until he had scalded her to death. Then he wrapped her up in a cloth and brought her dinner to her and offered it her to eat, but she was dead and made no answer to him, so he left it by her and went and ate his own rice. When Bajun came back and found his wife scalded to death he was very angry and went to get an axe to kill Jhore with; thereupon Jhore ran away into the jungle and Bajun pursued him with the axe.
In the jungle Jhore found a dead sheep and he took out its stomach and called out "Where are you, brother, I have found some meat." But Bajun answered, "I will not leave you till I have killed you." So Jhore ran on and climbed up inside a hollow tree, where Bajun could not follow, Bajun got a long stick and poked at him with it and as he poked, Jhore let fall the sheep's stomach, and when Bajun saw it he concluded that he had killed his brother. So he went home and burned the body of his wife and a few days later he performed the funeral ceremonies to the memory of his wife and brother; he smeared the floor of the house with cowdung and sacrificed goats and fowls. Now Jhore had come back that day and climbed up on to the rafters of the house, and he sat there watching all that his brother did. Bajun cooked a great basket of rice and stewed the flesh of the animals he had sacrificed and offered it to the spirits of the dead and he recited the dedication "My wife I offer this rice, this food, for your purification," and so saying he scattered some rice on the ground; and he also offered to Jhore, saying, "Jhore, my brother, I offer this rice, this food, for your purification," and then Jhore called out from the roof "Well, as you offer it to me I will take it." Bajun had not bargained to get any answer, so he was astounded and went to ask the villagers whether their spirits made answer when sacrificed to: and the villagers told him that they had never heard of such a thing. While Bajun was away on this errand, Jhore took up the unguarded basket of rice and ran away with it; after going some way he sat down by the road and ate as much as he wanted, then he sat and called out "Is there anyone on the road or in the jungle who wants a feast?" A gang of thieves who were on a thieving expedition heard him and went to see what he meant; he offered to let them eat the rice if they would admit him to their company; they agreed and he went on with them to steal; they broke into a rich man's house and the thieves began to collect the pots and pans but Jhore felt about in the dark and got hold of a drum and began to beat on it. This woke up the people of the house and they drove away the thieves. Then the thieves abused Jhore and said that they could not let him stay with them: "Very well", said he, "then give me back the rice you ate." Of course they could not do this. So they had to let him stay with them. Then they went to the house of a rich Hindu who had a stable full of horses and they planned to steal the horses and ride away with them; so each thief picked out a horse, but Jhore got hold of a tiger which had come to the back of the stable to kill one of the horses; and when the thieves mounted their horses, Jhore mounted on the tiger, and the tiger ran off with him towards the jungle. Jhore kept on calling out "Keep to the road, you Hindu horse, keep to the road, you Hindu horse." But it dragged him through the briars and bushes till he was dead and that was the end of Jhore.
II. Anuwa and His Mother.
Once there was a young fellow named Anuwa who lived with his old mother, and when he was out ploughing his mother used to take him his breakfast. One day a jackal met her on her way to the field with her son's breakfast and told her to put down the food which she was carrying or he would knock her down and bite her; so she put it down in a fright and the jackal ate most of it and then went away and the old woman took what was left to her son and told him nothing about what had happened. This happened several days in succession; at last one day Anuwa asked her why she brought so little rice and that so untidily arranged; so she told him how she was attacked every day by the jackal. Then they made a plan that the next day the mother should take the plough afield, while Anuwa should dress up as an old woman and carry the breakfast. This they did and the jackal met Anuwa as usual and made him put down the breakfast basket, but while the jackal was eating, Anuwa knocked him head over heels with his stick; and the jackal got up and fled, threatening and cursing Anuwa. Among other things the jackal as he ran away, had threatened to eat Anuwa's malhan plants, so Anuwa put a fence of thorns round them and when the jackal came at night and tried to eat the pods he only got his nose pricked.
Foiled in this the jackal called out "Well, I will eat your fowls to-morrow;" but Anuwa the next night sat by the fowl house with a sickle and when the jackal came and poked in his head, Anuwa gave him a rap on the snout with the sickle, so the jackal made off crying "Well, Anuwa, your fowls have pecked me on the head, you shall die." So the next day Anuwa pretended to be dead and his mother went about crying; she took her way to the jungle and there she met the jackal and she told him that Anuwa had died in consequence of his curse and she invited him to the funeral feast, saying that he used to eat the rice which she had cooked and he had become like a son to her. The jackal gladly promised to attend, and he collected a number of his friends and at evening they went to Anuwa's house and sat down in the courtyard. Then the old woman came out and began to bewail her son: but the jackal said "Stop crying, grannie, you cannot get back the dead: let us get on to the feast." So she said that she would fry some cakes first, as it would take some time before the rice was ready. The jackals approved of this but they asked her to tie them up with a rope first lest they should get to fighting over the food, so the old woman brought a thick rope and tied them all up and tightest of all she tied up the jackal which had cursed Anuwa; then she went inside and put an iron pan on the fire and from time to time she sprinkled water on it and when the jackals heard the water hissing they thought that it was the cakes frying and jumped about with joy. Suddenly Anuwa came out with a thick stick and set to beating the jackals till they bit through the ropes and ran away howling; but the first jackal was tied so tightly that he could not escape, and Anuwa beat him till he was senseless and lay without moving all night. The next morning Anuwa took the jackal and tied him to a stake near the place where the village women drew water and he put a thick stick beside it and every woman who went for water would give the jackal one blow with the stick. After a few days beating the body of the jackal became all swollen and one night some other jackals came there and asked him what he ate that he had got so fat and he said that every one who came to draw water gave him a handful of rice and that was why he was so fat; and if they did not believe him they could take his place and try for themselves.
So one jackal agreed to try and untied the first jackal and let himself be tied in his place, but in the morning five women came down and each gave him a blow with the stick till he jumped about for pain, and seeing him jumping other women came and beat him till he died.
III. Ledha and the Leopard.
Once upon a time a boy named Ledha was tending cattle with other boys at the foot of a hill, and these boys in fun used to call out "Ho, leopard: Ho, leopard," and the echo used to answer from the hill "Ho, leopard." Now there really was a leopard who lived in the hill and one day he was playing hide and seek with a lizard which also lived there. The lizard hid and the leopard looked every where for it in vain. At last the leopard sat down to rest and it chanced that he sat right on top of the lizard which was hiding in a hole. The lizard thought that the leopard meant to hurt it and in revenge bit him and fastened on to his rump so that he could not get it off, so that day when the boys came calling out "Ho, leopard," he ran towards them to get their help: but when they saw the leopard they all fled for their lives. Ledha however could not run fast because he was lame, and the leopard headed him off and begged him to remove the lizard. This he did after the leopard had sworn not to eat him, and before they parted the leopard made him promise to tell no one that the lizard had bitten him, and said that if he told then he would be carried off and eaten. So Ledha rejoined his companions and told them nothing of what had passed between him and the leopard. But that night when they had all gone to bed, Ledha's sister-in-law began to worry him to tell her what the leopard had said to him, when it had caught him. He told her that the leopard would eat him if he told, but she coaxed him and said that no one could hear them inside the house; so at last he told her that he had taken off a lizard which was hanging on to its rump. Then they went to sleep; but the leopard was hiding at the back of the house and heard all that they said; and when they were all asleep, he crept in and carried off Ledha's bed with Ledha in it on his head. When Ledha woke up towards morning, he found himself being carried through dense jungle and he quietly pulled himself up into one of the trees which overhung the path. Thus when the leopard put down the bed and was going to eat Ledha, he found it empty. So he went back on his track and by and bye came to the tree in which Ledha was hiding. The leopard begged Ledha to come down, as he had something to say to him, and promised not to eat him; but directly Ledha reached the ground the leopard said "Now I am going to eat you." Ledha was powerless, so he only asked to be allowed to have one chew of tobacco before he died; the leopard assented and Ledha felt in his cloth for his tobacco, but the tobacco did not come out easily and as Ledha felt about for it the dry tobacco leaves crackled; the leopard asked what the crackling sound was, and Ledha said "That is the lizard which bit you yesterday;" then the leopard got into a terrible fright and ran away as hard as he could, calling out "Don't let it loose: Don't let it loose."
So Ledha was saved from the leopard, but he did not know his way out of the jungle. He wandered about, till he came to the place where the wild buffaloes used to sleep at night, and he swept up the place and made it clean and then took refuge in a hollow tree; he stayed there some days, sweeping up the place daily and supporting himself on the fruit of a fig-tree. At last one day the buffaloes left one cow behind to watch and see who it was who swept up their sleeping place. The cow pretended to be too ill to rise, and Ledha after watching for some time came out and swept the ground as usual, and then tried to pull the sick cow up by the tail; but she would not move so he went back to his hollow tree. When the buffaloes returned they heard that it was a kindhearted man who cleaned their sleeping place; so they called Ledha out and said that they would keep him as their servant to clean their sleeping place and to scrub them when they bathed in the river; they made him taste the milk of all the cows and appointed the cow whose milk he liked best to supply him. Thenceforward he used to wander about with the buffaloes and he made a flute and used to play on it.
One day after scrubbing the buffaloes he washed his head in the river and some of his hairs came out; so he wrapped them up in a leaf and set the packet to float down the stream. Lower down the stream two princesses were bathing with their attendants, and when they saw the packet they tried who could fish it out and it was the younger princess who caught it. Then they measured the hairs and found them twelve cubits long. The princess who had taken the packet from the water went home and took to her bed and said that she would not eat until the man was found to whom the hairs belonged. Her father, the Raja, sent messengers in all directions to search for the man but they could not find him. Then he sent a parrot and the parrot flew up high and looking down saw Ledha with the buffaloes in the forest; but it did not dare to go near, so the parrot returned and told the Raja that the man was in the forest but that no messenger could approach for fear of the wild buffaloes. However a crow said, "I can bring him if any one can," so they sent the crow and it went and perched on the backs of the buffaloes and began to peck them; then Ledha threw stones at it, but it would not go away; then he threw a stick at it and last of all he threw his flute. The crow caught up the flute and flew up to a tree with it. Ledha ran after it, but the crow kept flying on a short distance and Ledha still pursued until he came to the Raja's city. The crow flew on till it entered the room where the princess lay, and dropped the flute into the hands of the princess. Ledha followed right into the room and they shut him in and the princess gave him his flute after he had promised to marry her.
So he stayed there a long time, but meanwhile the buffaloes all got weak and ill for want of some one to look after them. One day Ledha set off to the jungle with his wife to see them and when he saw how ill the buffaloes were, he decided to build a house in the jungle and live there. And the Raja sent them money and horses and cattle and elephants and servants and they built a palace and Ledha subdued all the jungle and became a great Raja; and he made a highway to his father-in-law's home and used to go to and fro on it.
IV. The Cruel Stepmother.
There was once a Raja whose wife died leaving him with one young child. He reared it with great care and when it could toddle about it took a great fancy to a cat; the child was always playing with it and carrying it about.
All his friends begged the Raja to marry again, but he said that he was sure that a stepmother would be cruel to his child; at last they persuaded him to promise to marry again, if a bride could be found who would promise to care for the child as her own, so his friends looked out for a bride; but though they found plenty of girls who were anxious to marry the Raja, not one would promise to care for his child as her own. There was a young widow in a certain village who heard of what was going on, and one day she asked whether a bride had been found for the Raja and she was told that no one was willing to take charge of the child. "Why don't they agree," said she, "I would agree fast enough. If I were Rani I should have nothing to do but look after the child and I would care for it more than its own mother could." This came to the ears of the Raja and he sent for the widow and was pleased with her looks, and when she promised to love his child as her own, he married her.
At first no one could be kinder to the child than she was, but in the course of time she had a child of her own and then she began to be jealous of the elder child; and she thought daily how she could get rid of him. He was still devoted to his cat and one day when he came back to the house, he asked his stepmother where the cat was. She answered angrily, "The cat has bewitched the boy! It is 'cat, cat,' all day long." At this the child began to cry; so she found the cat and threw it to him, saying, "Here is your cat: you are mad about your cat." But the boy hugged it in his arms and kept on crying at his stepmother's cross words. As he would not keep quiet his stepmother got more angry still; and catching hold of the cat she scratched her own arms and legs with the cat's claws until the blood flowed; then she began to cry and scold and when the neighbours came to see what was the matter, she told them that the boy had let his cat scratch her; and the neighbours saw that she was not loving the boy as she promised.
Presently the Raja came in and asked what was the matter; she turned and scolded him saying: "You have reared the accursed cat and it has scratched me finely; look, it has taken all the skin off; this is the way the boy repays me for all my trouble. I will not stay with you; if I stay the boy will injure me like this again." The Raja said, "Don't cry like a baby; how can a simple child like that know better? when he grows up I will scold him." But the woman persisted and declared that she would go away with her own child unless the Raja promised to kill his elder son. The Raja refused to do this, so the Rani took up her baby and went out of the house with it in a rage. Now the Raja was deeply in love with her and he followed and stopped her, and said that he could not let her take away his younger child; she answered, "Why trouble about the child? it is mine; I have left you your boy, if you don't kill him, when he grows up, he will tell you some lie about me and make you have me beaten to death." At last the Raja said "Well, come back and if the boy does you any harm I will kill him." But the Rani said. "Either kill him now or let me go." So at last the Raja promised and brought her back to the palace. Then the Raja called the boy and gave him his dinner and told him that they were going on a visit to his uncle's: and the child was delighted and fetched his shoes and umbrella, and off they set, and a dog came running after them. When they came to a jungle the Raja told his son to sit under a tree and wait for him, and he went away and killed the dog that had followed them and smeared the blood on his axe and went home, leaving the child.
When his father did not return, the child began to cry, and Thakur heard him and came down, and to frighten the boy and make him leave the jungle he came in the guise of a leopard; but the child would not move from where he was; then Thakur appeared as a bear, and as a snake and an elephant and in many other forms but the child would not move; so at last Thakur took the form of an old woman, who lifted him in her arms and soothed him and carried him to the edge of the jungle and left him on the outskirts of a village.
In the morning a rich Brahman found him and took him home, and as no one claimed the child he brought him up and made him his goat-herd, and they gave him the name of Lela. The Brahman's sons and daughters used to go school, and before he took his goats out to graze Lela used to carry their books to the school. And going to the school every day Lela got to know one or two letters and used to draw them in the sand while minding his goats; later he got the children to give him an old book saying that he wanted to pretend to the other boys that he could read and out of this book he taught himself to read: and as he grew up he became quite a scholar. One day he picked up a letter and found that it was from one of the village girls arranging to elope that very evening with a young man. At the appointed time Lela went to the rendez-vous and hid himself in a tree; soon he saw the Brahman's daughter come to the place, but as her letter had not been delivered her lover did not appear. The girl got tired of waiting and then she began to call to her lover, thinking that perhaps he was hiding for a joke. When she called, Lela answered from the tree and she thought that it was her lover and said "Come down and let us be off." So Lela came down and they started off together; when day dawned she saw that it was Lela who was with her and she sat down and upbraided him for deceiving her. Lela said that they had met by chance; he had not enticed her away, no harm had been done and she could go home if she liked or come away with him if she liked. The girl considered but she saw that if she went home now she would be disgraced and her family would be outcasted, so in the end she agreed to run away with Lela.
They went on and after travelling some days they came to a great city, where they took up their quarters in a tumble-down house and the next morning Lela went into the city to look for work. He went to the cutcherry and enrolled himself as a muktear (attorney) and soon the litigants and the magistrates found out how clever he was and he acquired a big practice. One day the Raja said, "This fellow is very handsome, I wonder what his wife is like?" And he sent an old woman to see; so the old woman went and got into conversation with Lela's wife and returned to the Raja and told him that none of his wives was so beautiful as Lela's wife; so the Raja determined to go and see her himself, and as the old woman said that she would hide herself in the house if she saw the Raja coming, he disguised himself as a poor man and went and saw her; he found that the old woman had not exaggerated and he determined to possess himself of Lela's wife. He had first to get Lela out of the way, so he sent for him and said, "You are a fine fellow and have given me satisfaction. I have one more commission for you, if you perform it I will give you half my kingdom and my sister in marriage." Lela said that he must hear what it was before he made any promise. The Raja said "It is this: in a certain mountain grows the Chandmoni Kusum flower; bring it to me and I will give you what I have promised:"—but the Raja felt sure that if Lela went to the mountain he would be eaten by the Rakhas (ogress) who dwelt there. Lela said that he would go if the Raja gave him a written bond In the presence of witnesses; and this the Raja willingly did. Then Lela went and told his wife and she said, "This is excellent: I have a younger sister in the mountain, her name is Chandmoni and it was she who planted the Chandmoni Kusum flower; when you get there call her by her name and she will certainly give you the flower."
So Lela started off and when he was gone his wife fell ill, and her body became a mass of sores. Directly Lela was out of the way, the Raja sent the old woman to see what his wife was doing and she brought back word that she was afflicted with illness; so the Raja sent medicines and told the old woman to nurse her. Lela went off and came to the cave in the mountain where Chandmoni lived with the Rakhas; and the Rakhas was away hunting men, so Lela called out Chandmoni and told her who he was and begged her to hide him; then they planned how they should kill the Rakhas, and she hid him in the cave; presently the Rakhas returned and said to Chandmoni "I smell a man: where is he?" But Chandmoni said that there was no one there but herself; and that the smell was probably due to the Rakhas having been eating human flesh and recommended her to anoint herself with hot ghee. The Rakhas agreed: so Chandmoni put a great iron pan of ghee on to boil, and when it was boiling she called the Rakhas, and as the Rakhas was leaning over the pan, Lela ran out and pushed her into the boiling ghee and she died. Then Chandmoni asked Lela why he had come, and he told her, "to fetch the flower." She promised to give it to him but asked what was to become of her now that the ogress with whom she lived was dead. Lela promised to take her with him, so they cut off the tongue and ears and claws of the Rakhas and returned to the city. And directly Lela returned, his first wife recovered from her illness.
Then the Raja saw that it was useless to contend with Lela, and he gave him half his kingdom and married him to his sister according to his bond. So Lela lived with his three Ranis and they bore him children and after some years he told them that he was the son of a Raja and he wished to visit his own country and see whether his father was alive. So they set out in great style with horses and elephants and came to the town where Lela's father lived. Now five or six days after abandoning Lela, his father had become blind and, he made over the management of his kingdom to a Dewan, and the Dewan and the Rani managed everything. When the Dewan heard that Lela had come with a great force he thought that he would loot the country and he ran away in fear. Then Lela sent word to his father to come to him, as he was the son who had been abandoned in the jungle, so the Raja set forth joyfully and after he had gone a few paces he began to see dimly, and by the time that he came to Lela's camp he had quite recovered his eyesight. When they met, father and son embraced and wept over each other; and Lela ordered a feast to be prepared and while this was being done a maidservant came running to say that the wicked Rani had hanged herself, so they went and burned the body and then returned and enjoyed the feast. Then the Raja resigned his kingdom to Lela and the ryots begged him to stay and rule over them; so he remained there and lived happily ever after.
V. Karmu and Dharmu.
There were once two brothers Karmu and Dharmu. Karmu was a farmer and Dharmu was a trader; once when Dharmu was away from home Karmu gave a religious feast and did not invite Dharmu's household; when Dharmu returned and learnt this, he told his wife that he also would perform the ceremonies in his house, so they set to work and were employed in cooking rice and vegetables far into the night; and Karam Gosain came down to see what preparations Dharmu was making in his honour, and he watched from the back of the house.
Just then Dharmu strained off the water from the cooked rice and threw it out of the window, and it fell on Karam Gosain and scalded him, and as the flies and insects worried the wound, Karam Gosain went off to the Ganges and buried himself in the middle of the stream. As he had thus offended Karam Gosain, all Dharmu's undertakings failed and he fell into deep poverty, and had not even enough to eat, so he had to take service with his brother Karmu. When the time for transplanting the rice came, Dharmu used to plough and dig the ditches and mend the gaps along with the day labourers. Karmu told him not to work himself but act as overseer of the other labourers, and the labourers also told him that it was not suitable for him to work as a labourer himself, but Dharmu said that he must earn his wages and insisted on working; and in the same way Dharmu's wife might have acted as overseer of the women, but she was ashamed not to work too.
One day they were transplanting the rice and Karmu brought out breakfast for the labourers; he told Dharmu and his wife to wash their hands and come and eat; but they answered that they belonged to the household and that the hired labourers should be fed first, so the labourers ate and they ate up all the rice and there was nothing left for Dharmu and his wife. When the midday meal was brought the same thing happened, Dharmu and his wife got nothing; but they hoped that it would be made up to them when the wages were paid, and worked on fasting. At evening when they came to pay the wages in kind, Dharmu's name was called out first, but he told his brother to pay the labourers first, and in doing this the paddy was all used up and there was nothing left for Dharmu and his wife; so they went home sorrowfully and their children cried for food and they had nothing to give them. In the night Dharmu's wife said "They promised to pay us for merely looking after the work and instead, we worked hard and have still got nothing. We will not work for them anymore; come, let us undo the work we did to-day, you cut down the embankments you repaired, and I will uproot the seedlings which I planted." So they went out into the night to do this. But whenever Dharmu raised his spade a voice called out "Hold, hold!" And whenever his wife put out her hand to pull up the rice a voice called out "Hold, hold!" Then they said "Who are you who stop us?" And the voice answered "You have done evil and offended Karam Gosain by scalding him; this is why you have become poor and to-day have worked without food and without wages; he has gone to the Ganges and you must go and propitiate him." And they asked how they should propitiate him, and the voice said "Grind turmeric and put it on a plate, and buy new cloth and dye it with turmeric and make ready oil and take these things to the Ganges and call on Karam Gosain." And they believed the voice and the next day did as it commanded, and set off, leaving their children in charge of Karmu. On the way they came to a fig-tree full of figs and they went to eat the fruit; but when they got near they found that all the figs were full of grubs, and they sang:—
"Exhausted by hunger we came to a fig-tree, And found it full of grubs, O Karam Gosain, how far off are you?"
Then they came to a mango tree and the same thing happened. And they went on and saw a cow with a calf; and they thought that they would milk the cow and drink the milk, but when they went to catch it it ran away from them and would not let itself be caught; and they sang:—
"We go to catch the cow and it runs away, We go to catch the calf and it runs away, O Karam Gosain how far off are you?"
But the cow said to them—"Go to the banks of the Ganges." Then they came to a buffalo and went to milk it, but it lowered its head and charged them; and Dharam cried but his wife said "Don't cry" and sang:—
"If you go to catch the buffalo, Dharmu, It will kill you. How shall we drink milk? How shall we drink milk? How far off are you, O our Karam Gosain?"
And the buffalo said "Go on to the bank of the Ganges." Then they came to a horse and they thought that they would catch it and mount it, but it kicked and snorted; and they sang:—
"Dharmu tries to catch the horse: But it kicks and runs away. How shall we reach the Ganges? O Karam Gosain, how far off are you?"
And the horse said "Go to the banks of the Ganges." Then they saw an elephant but it would not let them approach, so they decided to push on straight for the river; and they saw under a banyan tree a large pot full of rupees, but they were so disheartened that they made no attempt to touch it; then they met a woman who asked where they were going and when she heard, she said "For twelve years I have had a pai measure stuck on my throat; ask Karam Gosain for me how I am to get rid of it," and they promised; and going on they met a woman with a bundle of thatching grass stuck to her head; and she made them promise to ask Karam Gosain how she could be freed; then they met a woman with both her feet burning in a fire and another with a stool stuck fast to her back and they promised to enquire how these might be delivered.
So at last they came to the Ganges and they stood on the bank and called to Karam Gosain; and when he came they caught hold of him and he said "Fie, what low caste person is touching me?" But they said. "It is no low caste person, but Dharmu." Then they bathed him and anointed him with oil and turmeric and wrapped him in the new cloth which they had brought, and thus they persuaded him to return; so they rose up to go back, and Dharmu asked about the women whom they had met, and Karam Gosain said: "The woman has a stool stuck to her back because when visitors came she never offered them a seat; let her do so in future, and she will be freed; and the woman has her feet burning in the fire because she pushed the fuel into the fire with her foot; let her not do so in future, and she will be freed; and the woman has the thatching grass stuck to her head because when she saw a friend with straw sticking in her hair she did not tell her about it; let her do so in future and she will be freed; and the woman has the pai measure stuck to her throat because, when her neighbour wanted to borrow her measure, she would not lend it; let her do so in future and she will be freed." And Karam Gosain asked whether they had seen an elephant and a horse and a buffalo and a cow and money and mangoes and figs and Dharmu said "Yes," but that he had not been able to catch the animals and the fruit was bad. Karam Gosain promised them that on their way back they should take possession of all; and they did so and mounted on the elephant and returned to their home with great wealth. On their way they met the four women and told them how they could be saved from their troubles. The villagers welcomed Dharmu and he arranged a great feast and gave paddy to all the villagers to husk; but when they had boiled it the weather became cloudy so that they could not dry it, so they prayed to the sun and he at once shone out and dried the paddy.
Then a day was fixed and they prepared rice beer, and worshipped Karam Gosain and they danced all night and got very drunk and enjoyed themselves.
VI. The Jealous Stepmother.
There was once a man whose wife died leaving him with one son and after a year he married again. The second wife was very jealous of the son and she told her husband that she would not stay with him unless he killed the boy; at first he refused but she insisted and then he said that he was frightened to do the deed, but she might kill the boy herself if she liked. She said, "No: he is your son and you must kill him; if he were mine I would do it. You need not be frightened; when you take him out ploughing make him drive the front plough, and you sharpen your plough pole to a point and drive it into him from behind and kill him and then it will seem to be an accident." So the man promised and made a sharp point to his plough pole but whenever they ploughed, the son drove his plough so fast that the father could not catch him up and so the boy was not killed; then the woman abused her husband and said that he was deceiving her. So he promised to finish the business the next day and told her to give the boy a good hot breakfast before they started, so that he might receive one last kindness, and he said that they must find some other way of killing him because all the ploughing was finished; but his wife told him he could plough down their crop of goondli, the bullocks would stop to eat the goondli as they went along and so he would easily catch up his son. Accordingly the next morning father and son took out the ploughs and the boy asked where they should plough, and the father said that they would plough down the field of goondli. But the boy said "Why should we do that? it is a good crop and will be ripe in a day or two; it is too late to sow again, we shall lose this crop and who knows whether we shall get anything in its place?"
And the father thought 'What the boy says is true; the first crop is like the first child, if I kill him who will support me in my old age? Who knows whether my second wife will have children. I will not kill him however angry she be;' so they unyoked their ploughs and went home. He told his wife that he would not kill the boy and scolded her and ended by giving her a beating. Then she ran away in a passion but he did not trouble to go and look for her and in a few days her father and brothers brought her back, and her husband told them what had happened and they also scolded her and told her to mend her ways.
VII. The Pious Woman.
There was once a very pious woman and her special virtue was that she would not eat or drink on any day until she had first given alms to a beggar. One day no beggar came to her house, so by noon she got tired of waiting, and, tying in her cloth some parched rice, she went to the place where the women drew water. When she got there she saw a Jugi coming towards her, she greeted him and said that she had brought dried rice for him. He said that omens had bidden him come to her and that he came to grant her a boon: she might ask one favour and it would be given her. The woman said: "Grant me this boon—to know where our souls go after death, and to see at the time of death how they escape, whether through the nose or the mouth, and where they go to; and tell me when I shall die and where my soul will go to; this I ask and no more." Then the Jugi answered, "Your prayer is granted, but you must tell no one; if you do, the power will depart from you." So saying he took from his bag something like a feather and brushed her eyes with it and washed them with water. Then the woman's eyes were opened and she saw spirits—bongas, bhuts, dains, churins, and the souls of dead men; and the Jugi told her not to be afraid, but not to speak to them lest men should think her mad; then he took his leave, and she returned home. Now in the village lived a poor man and his wife and they were much liked because they were industrious and obedient; shortly afterwards this poor man died and the pious woman saw men come with a palankin and take away the poor man's soul with great ceremony. She was pleased at the sight and thought that the souls of all men were taken away like this. But shortly afterwards her father-in-law died. He had been a rich man, but harsh, and while the family were mourning the pious woman saw four sipahis armed with iron-shod staves and of fierce countenance come to the house and two entered and took the father-in-law by the neck and thrust him forth; they bound him and beat him, they knocked him down and as he could not walk they dragged him away by his legs. The woman followed him to the end of the garden and when she saw him being dragged away, she screamed. When her husband's relatives saw her screaming and crying they were angry and said that she must have killed her father-in-law by witchcraft, for she did not sit by the corpse and cry but went to the end of the garden. So after the body had been burnt they held a council and questioned her and told her that they would hold her to be a witch, if she could not explain. So she told them of the power which the Jugi had conferred on her and of what she had seen, and they believed her and acquitted her of the charge of witchcraft; but from that time she lost her power and saw no more spirits.
VIII. The Wise Daughter-in-Law.
There was once a rich man who had seven sons, but one day his wife died and after this the family fell into poverty. All their property was sold and they lived by selling firewood in the bazar. At last the wife of the eldest son said to her father-in-law. "I have a proposal to make: Do you choose one of us to be head of the family whom all shall obey; we cannot all be our own masters as at present." The old man said "Well, I choose you," and he assembled the whole family and made them promise to obey the wife of his eldest son.
Thereupon she told them that they must all go out into the fields and bring her whatever they found. So the next day they went out in different directions and the old man found some human excrement and he thought "Well, my daughter-in-law told me to bring whatever I found" so he wrapped it up in leaves and took it home; and his daughter-in-law told him that he had done well and bade him hang up the packet at the back of the house. A few days later he found the slough of a snake and he took that home and his daughter-in-law told to tie a clod of earth to it to prevent its being blown away, and to throw it on to the roof of the house.
Some years after the Raja of the country was ill with cancer of the face and none of the ojhas could cure him. At last one ojha said that there was only one medicine which could effect a cure, but he saw no chance of obtaining it and that was human excrement 12 years old. Then the Raja sent messengers throughout the kingdom offering a reward of 200 Rupees to any one who could supply excrement twelve years old; and when a messenger came to the village where this family lived the daughter-in-law produced the packet which the old man had brought home and received the reward of 200 Rupees; and they were all delighted at making so much money by what the old man had brought home in jest.
And again it happened that the son of a Raja was bathing and he left his gold belt on the bank and a kite thought it was a snake and flew off with it. The prince was much distressed at the loss but the Raja told him not to grieve as the kite must have dropped it somewhere and he would offer a reward of a thousand rupees for it. Now the kite had soon found that the belt was not good to eat and seeing the snake's skin which the old man had thrown on to the roof of the house, it dropped the belt and flew off with the skin; and the daughter-in-law picked up the belt and when criers came round offering a reward she produced it and received the money. And they praised her wisdom and by this means the family became rich again.
IX. The Oilman and His Sons.
There was once an oilman with five sons and they were all married and lived jointly with their father. But the daughters-in-law were discontented with this arrangement and urged their husbands to ask their father to divide the family property. At first the old man refused, but when his sons persisted, he told them to bring him a log two cubits long and so thick that two hands could just span it, and he said that if they could break the log in two, he would divide the property; so they brought the log and then asked for axes, but he told them that they must break it themselves by snapping it or twisting it or standing on it; so they tried and failed. Then the old man said, "You are five and I make six; split the log into six," So they split it and he gave each a piece and told them to break them, and each easily snapped his stick; then the old man said "We are like the whole log: we have plenty of property and are strong and can overcome attack; but if we separate we shall be like the split sticks and easily broken." They admitted that this was true and proposed that the property should not be divided but that they should all become separate in mess. But the father would not agree to this for he thought that people would call him a miser if he let his sons live separately without his giving them their share in the property as their own, So as they persisted in their folly he partitioned the property.
But in a few years they all fell into poverty and had not enough to eat nor clothes to wear, and the father and mother were no better off; then the old man called all his sons and their wives and said "You see what trouble you have fallen into; I have a riddle for you, explain it to me. There are four wells, three empty and one full of water; if you draw water from the full one and pour it into the three empty ones they will become full; but when they are full and the first one is empty, if you pour water from the three full ones into the empty one it will not be filled; what does this mean?" And they could not answer and he said, "The four wells mean that a man had three sons, and while they were little he filled their stomachs as the wells were filled with water; but when they separated they would not fill the old man's stomach."
And it was true, that the sons had done nothing to help their father and they were filled with shame and they agreed that as long as their father lived they would be joint with him and would not separate again until he died.
X. The Girl Who Found Helpers.
Once upon a time there were seven brothers, and they were all married, and they had one sister who was not married. The brothers went away to a far country for a whole year, leaving their wives at home. Now the wives hated their sister-in-law and did their best to torment her. So one day they gave her a pot full of holes and told her to bring it back full of water; and threatened that if she failed she should have no food. So she took the pot to the spring and there sat down and cried and sang:—
"I am fetching water in a pot full of holes, I am fetching water in a pot full of holes, How far away have my brothers gone to trade."
After she had cried a long time, a number of frogs came up out of the water and asked her what was the matter, and she told them that she must fill the pot with water, and was not allowed to stop the holes with clay or lac. Then they told her not to cry, and said, that they would sit on the holes and then the water would not run out; they did this and the girl dried her eyes and filled the pot with water and took it home. Her sisters-in-law were much disappointed at her success, but the next day they told her to go to the jungle and bring back a bundle of leaves, but she was to use no rope for tying them up. So she went to the jungle and collected the leaves and then sat down and cried and sang:—
"I am to fetch leaves without a rope I am to fetch leaves without a rope How far have my brothers gone to trade?"
and as she cried a buka sobo snake came out and asked why she was crying, and when she told it, it said that it would coil itself round the leaves in place of a rope. So it stretched itself out straight and she piled the leaves on the top of it and the snake coiled itself tightly round them and so she was able to carry the bundle home on her head. Her sisters-in-law ran to see how she managed it, but she put the bundle down gently and the snake slipped away unperceived. Still they resolved to try again; so the next day they sent her to fetch a bundle of fire wood, but told her that she was to use no rope to tie it with. So she went to the jungle and collected the sticks and then sat down and cried:—
"I am to bring wood without tying it, I am to bring wood without tying it, How far have my brothers gone to trade?"
and as she cried a python came out and asked what was the matter, and when it heard, it told her not to cry and said that it would act as a rope to bind up the sticks; so it stretched itself out and she laid the sticks on it and then it coiled itself round them and she carried the bundle home.
As the sisters-in-law had been baffled thus, they resolved on another plan and proposed that they should all go and gather sticks in the jungle; and on the way they came to a machunda tree in full flower and they wanted to pick some of the flowers. The wicked sisters-in-law at first began to climb the tree, but they pretended that they could not and kept slipping down; then they hoisted their sister-in-law into the branches and told her to throw down the flowers to them. But while she was in the tree, they tied thorns round the trunk so that she could not descend and then left her to starve. After she had been in the tree a long time, her brothers passed that way on their return journey, and sat down under the tree to rest; the girl was too weak to speak but she cried and her tears fell on the back of her eldest brother, and he looked up and saw her; then they rescued her and revived her and listened to her story; and they were very angry and vowed to have revenge. So they gave their sister some needles and put her in a sack and put the sack on one of the pack-bullocks. And when they got home, they took the sack off gently and told their wives to carry it carefully inside the house, and on no account to put it down. But when the wives took it up, the girl inside pricked them with the needles so that they screamed and let the sack fall. Their husbands scolded them and made them take it up again, and they had to carry it in, though they were pricked till the blood ran down. Then the brothers enquired about all that had happened in their absence, and at last asked after their sister, and their wives said that she had gone to the jungle with some friends to get firewood. But the brothers turned on them and told how they had found her in the machunda tree and had brought her home in the sack, and their wives were dumbfounded. Then the brothers said that they had made a vow to dig a well and consecrate it; so they set to work to dig a well two fathoms across and three fathoms deep; and when they reached water, they fixed a day for the consecration; and they told their wives to put on their best clothes and do the cumaura (betrothal) ceremony at the well. So the wives went to the well, escorted by drummers, and as they stood in a row round the well, each man pushed his own wife into it and then they covered the well with a wooden grating and kept them in it for a whole year and at the end of the year they pulled them out again.
* * * * *
Another version of this story gives three other tasks preliminary to those given above and begins as follows:—
Once upon a time there was a girl named Hira who had seven brothers. The brothers went away to a far country to trade leaving her alone in the house with their wives; these seven sisters-in-law hated Hira and did what they could to torment her; one day they sowed a basketful of mustard seed in a field and then told her to go and pick it all up; she went to the field and began to lament, singing:—
"They have sown a basket of mustard seed! Oh, how far away have my brothers gone to trade."
As she cried a flock of pigeons came rustling down and asked her what was the matter, and when they heard, they told her to be comforted; they at once set to work picking up the mustard grain by grain and putting it into her basket; soon the basket was quite full and she joyfully took it home and showed it to her sisters-in-law. Then they set her another task and told her to bring them some bear's hair that they might weave it into a hair armlet for her wedding. So she went off to the jungle and sat down to cry; as she wept two bear cubs came up and asked what was the matter; when she told her story they bade her be of good cheer and took her into their cave and hid her. Presently the mother bear came back and suckled her cubs, and when they had finished they asked their mother to leave them some of her hair that they might amuse themselves by plaiting it while she was away. She did so and directly she had gone off to look for food, the cubs gave the girl the hair and sent her home rejoicing. The sisters-in-law were only made more angry by her success and plotted how to kill her, so they ordered her to bring them some tiger's milk that they might make it into curds for her wedding. Then she went off to the jungle and began to weep, singing:—
"I brought the hair of a bear: How far away have my brothers gone to trade."
At the sound two tiger cubs came running up and asked what was the matter; they told her to be comforted and they would manage to give her what she wanted; and they took her and hid her near where they were lying. Presently the tigress came back and suckled her cubs and as she did so she declared that she smelt a human being, but the cubs laughed at her and said that it must be they whom she smelt; so she was satisfied, and as she was leaving them they asked her to leave some of her milk in an earthern pot so that they might have something to drink if she were long in coming back. The tigress did so and directly she was gone the cubs gave the milk to the girl who took it home.—The story then continues as before.
XI. How to Grow Rich.
Once upon a time there was a woman whose husband died while she was pregnant, and she was very unhappy and used to pray daily to Singh Chando to give her a man child in place of her husband; she was left well off and among her property were three gold coins, and as she was afraid of these being stolen she decided to place them in the care of the village headman. So she took them to him and asked him to keep them till her child was born; and no one was present at the time but the headman's wife. In due time her child was born and by the mercy of Singh Chando it was a son; and when the boy had grown a bit and could run alone his mother decided to take back the gold coins, so she went to the headman and asked him for them; but he and his wife said: "We do not understand what you are talking about? We know of no gold coins: where are your witnesses? You must have had witnesses in such a business." And they drove her out. She went away crying and called the villagers together and asked them to decide the matter. So they questioned her and the headman but as it was word against word they could come to no decision; so they settled to put the parties on oath, but the headman and the woman both swore that they had spoken the truth, saying, "May we die if we have spoken falsely." Then the villagers made them swear by their children and the woman and the headman laid their hands on the heads of their sons and swore; and when the woman swore her son fell down dead and she took up the dead body in her arms and ran away with it.
The villagers were very sorry for what had happened but the headman and his wife abused them for not having believed their word. The woman had not gone very far before she met a stranger who asked why she was crying and when she told him, he said: "Do not cry: you told one falsehood and so your son has died. Take your child back to the villagers and tell them that it was five gold coins and not three that you gave to the headman and if you do this the child will come to life again."
So the woman hastened back and found the villagers still assembled and she told them as the stranger had directed; and she agreed to be sworn again on the body of the child, and the headman promised to pay five gold pieces if the child were restored to life. So the woman laid her hands on the dead child and swore, and it was restored to life. Then the headman was dumbfounded and reluctantly brought out five gold pieces and gave them to the woman. She gave five rupees to the villagers and they made the headman give them ten rupees for having deceived them, and they bought pigs and had a feast.
In the course of time the boy grew up and his mother urged him to marry. He asked her if she knew how to choose a wife and also what sort of cattle to buy, and she said that she did not know; her husband had not told her this. So the youth said that he would go to Singh Chando and ask.
His mother washed his clothes for him and gave him food for the journey and he set out. On the way he met a man who asked him where he was going and he answered that he was going to make a petition to Singh Chando. "Then," said the man, "make a petition for me also. I have so much wealth that I cannot look after it all; ask him to take away half from me." The youth promised and went on and he met another man who said that he had so many cattle that he could not build enough cow-houses for them and asked him to petition Singh Chando to diminish their number; and he promised, and went on and came to Singh Chando, and there he asked how to choose a wife and how to buy cattle. And Singh Chando said, "When you buy a bullock first put your hand on its quarter and if it shrinks and tries to get free, buy it; and when you want a wife enquire first as to the character of her father and mother; good parents make good children." Then the youth asked about the two men he had met; Singh Chando said;—"Tell the first man when he is ploughing to plough two or three furrows beyond the boundary of his field and his wealth will diminish and tell the second man to drive away three or four of his cattle every day and their number will decrease." So the youth returned and met the man who had too many cattle and told him what Chando had said, and the man thought "If I drive away three or four head of cattle every day I shall soon become poor" so from that time he looked out for any straying cattle and would drive them home with his own; if the owner claimed them, he gave them up, but if no claimant appeared, he kept them and so he became richer than ever. And the youth went on and met the man who was too rich, and when he heard what Chando had said he thought "If I plough over the boundary on to my neighbour's land it will be a great sin and I shall soon become poor;" and he went to his ploughmen and told them never to plough right up to the edge of the field but to leave two of three furrows space, and they obeyed and from that time he grew richer than ever. And the youth returned to his mother and told her all that had happened and they understood the meaning of the advice which Chando had given to the two men and acted accordingly. And it is true that we see that avaricious men who trespass across boundaries become poor.
XII. The Changed Calf.
There was once a cowherd named Sona who saved a few rupees and he decided to buy a calf so as to have something to show for his labours; and he went to a distant village and bought a bull calf and on the way home he was benighted. So he turned into a Hindu village and went to an oilman's house and asked to be allowed to sleep there. When the oilman saw such a fine calf he coveted it and he told Sona to put it in the stable along with his own bullock and he gave him some supper and let him sleep in the verandah. But in the middle of the night the oilman got up and moistened some oil cake and plastered it over the calf; he then untied his own bullock and made it lick the oil cake off the calf, and as the bullock was accustomed to eat oil cake it licked it greedily; then the oilman raised a cry, "The bullock that turns the oil mill has given birth to a calf." And all the villagers collected, and saw the bullock licking the calf and they believed the oilman. Sona did not wake up and knew nothing of all this, the next morning he got up and went to untie his calf and drive it away, but the oilman would not let him and claimed the calf as his own. Then Sona called the villagers to come and decide the matter: but they said that they had seen him bring no calf to the village and he had not called any of them to witness it, but they had seen the bullock licking the calf; why should the bullock lick any but its own calf? No one ever saw a bullock lick a strange bullock or cow and so they awarded the calf to the oilman. Then Sona said that he would call someone to argue the matter and he went away meaning to get some men from the next village: but he lost his way in the jungle and as he went along a night-jar flew up from under his feet; he called out to it to stay as he was in great distress, and the bird alighted and asked what was the matter, and Sona told it his trouble. Then the night-jar said that it would argue the matter for him but it must have a colleague and it told Sona to go on and ask the first living being he met to help; so he went on and met a jackal and the jackal agreed to help the night-jar, and they told him to call the villagers to the edge of the jungle and not to let them bring any dogs with them. So Sona brought all the villagers to the jungle and the night-jar and jackal sat side by side on a stone.
Then Sona asked the villagers whether they would let him take away the calf or no, and they persisted in their previous opinion. At last one man said, "What are your advocates doing? it seems to me that they are asleep." And at this the two woke up with a start and looked about them, and the night-jar said "I have been asleep and dreamed a dream: will you men please hear it and explain its meaning?"
And the jackal said, "I too have had a dream, please explain it for me. If you can explain the meaning you shall keep the calf and, if not, the boy shall have it." The villagers told them to speak and the night-jar said, "I saw two night-jar's eggs and one egg was sitting on the other; no mother bird was sitting on them, tell me what this means." And the jackal said, "I saw that the sea was on fire and the fishes were all being burnt up, and I was busy eating them and that was why I did not wake up, what is the meaning of this dream?" And the villagers said. "The two dreams are both alike: neither has any meaning; an egg cannot sit on an egg, and the sea cannot catch fire." The jackal said, "Why cannot it be? If you won't believe that water can catch fire why do you say that a bullock gave birth to a calf? Have you ever seen such a thing? Speak," And they admitted that they had never seen a bullock have a calf, but only cows. "Then," said the jackal, "explain why you have given the oilman a decree." And they admitted that they were wrong and awarded the calf to Sona and fined the oilman five rupees for having deceived them.
XIII. The Koeri and the Barber.
There was a well-to-do man of the Koeri (cultivating) caste and opposite his house lived a barber who was very poor; and the barber thought that if he carried on his cultivation just as the Koeri did he might get better results; so every day he made some pretext to visit the Koeri's house and hear what work he was going to do the next day, and with the same object he would listen outside his house at night; and he exactly imitated the Koeri: he yoked his cattle and unyoked them, he ploughed and sowed and transplanted just when the Koeri did and the result was good, for that year he got a very fine crop. But he was not content with this and resolved to continue to copy the Koeri; the Koeri suspected what the barber was doing and did not like it. So he resolved to put the matter to the test and at the same time teach the barber to mind his own business. In January they both planted sugar cane, and one day when the crop was half grown the barber was sitting at the Koeri's house and the Koeri gave orders to his servants to put the leveller over the crop the next day and break it down; this was only a pretence of the Koeri's, but the barber went away and the next day crushed his sugar cane crop with the leveller, the whole village laughed to see what he had done; but it turned out that each root of the barber's sugar cane sent up a number of shoots and in the end he had a much heavier crop than the Koeri.
Another day the Koeri announced that he was going to sow but (pulse) and therefore ordered his servants to bring out the seed and roast it well, that it might germinate quickly; and the barber hearing this went off and had his seed but roasted and the next day he sowed it, but only a very few seeds germinated, while the crop of the Koeri which had not really been roasted sprouted finely. The barber asked the Koeri why his crop had not come up well, and the Koeri told him that it must be because he had not roasted the seed enough; the few seeds that had come up must have been those which had been roasted most. But in the end the laugh was against the Koeri, for the few seeds of the barber's which germinated, produced such fine plants that when he came to thresh them out he had more grain than the Koeri, and so in 3 or 4 years the barber became the richer man of the two.
XIV. The Prince Who Acquired Wisdom.
There was once a Raja who had an only son and the Raja was always urging his son to learn to read and write in order that when he came to his kingdom he might manage well and be able to decide disputes that were brought to him for judgment; but the boy paid no heed to his father's advice and continued to neglect his lessons. At last when he was grown up, the Prince saw that his father was right and he resolved to go away to foreign countries to acquire wisdom; so he set off without telling anyone but his wife, and he took with him a purse of money and three pieces of gold. After travelling a long time, he one day saw a man ploughing in a field and he went and got some tobacco from him and asked him whether there were any wise men living in that neighbourhood. "What do you want with wise men?", asked the ploughman. The Prince said that he was travelling to get wisdom. The ploughman said that he would give him instruction if he were paid. Then the Prince promised to give him one gold piece for each piece of wisdom. The ploughman agreed and said. "Listen attentively! My first maxim is this: You are the son of a Raja; whenever you go to visit a friend or one of your subjects and they offer you a bedstead, or stool, or mat to sit on, do not sit down at once but move the stool or mat a little to one side; this is one maxim: give me my gold coin." So the Prince paid him. Then the ploughman said. "The second maxim is this: You are the son of a Raja; whenever you go to bathe, do not bathe at the common bathing place, but at a place by yourself; give me my coin," and the Prince did so. Then he continued, "My third maxim is this: You are the son of a Raja; when men come to you for advice or to have a dispute decided, listen to what the majority of those present say and do not follow your own fancy, now pay me;" and the Prince gave him his last gold coin, and said that he had no more. "Well," said the ploughman, "your lesson is finished but still I will give you one more piece of advice free and it is this: You are the son of a Raja; Restrain your anger, if anything you see or hear makes you angry, still do not at once take action; hear the explanation and weigh it well, then if you find cause you can give rein to your anger and if not, let the offender off."
After this the prince set his face homewards as he had spent all his money; and he began to repent of having spent his gold pieces on advice that seemed worthless. However on his way he turned into a bazar to buy some food and the shopkeepers on all sides called out "Buy, buy," so he went to a shop and the shopkeeper invited him to sit on a rug; he was just about to do so when he remembered the maxim of his instructor and pulled the rug to one side; and when he did so he saw that it had been spread over the mouth of a well and that if he had sat on it he would have been killed; so he began to believe in the wisdom of his teacher. Then he went on his way and on the road he turned aside to a tank to bathe, and remembering the maxim of his teacher he did not bathe at the common place but went to a place apart; then having eaten his lunch he continued his journey, but he had not gone far when he found that he had left his purse behind, so he turned back and found it lying at the place where he had put down his things when he bathed; thereupon he applauded the wisdom of his teacher, for if he had bathed at the common bathing place someone would have seen the purse and have taken it away. When evening came on he turned into a village and asked the headman to let him sleep in his verandah, and there was already one other traveller sleeping there and in the morning it was found that the traveller had died in his sleep. Then the headman consulted the villagers and they decided that there was nothing to be done but to throw away the body, and that as the Prince was also a traveller he should do it. At first he refused to touch the corpse as he was the son of a Raja, but the villagers insisted and then he bethought himself of the maxim that he should not act contrary to the general opinion; so he yielded and dragged away the body, and threw it into a ravine.
Before leaving it he remembered that it was proper to remove the clothes, and when he began to do so he found round the waist of the body a roll of coin; so he took this and was glad that he had followed the advice of his teacher.
That evening he reached the boundary of his own territory and decided to press on home although it was dark; at midnight he reached the palace and without arousing anyone went to the door of his wife's room. Outside the door he saw a pair of shoes and a sword; at the sight he became wild with rage and drawing the sword he called out: "Who is in my room?"
As a matter of fact the Prince's wife had got the Prince's little sister to sleep with her, and when the girl heard the Prince's voice she got up to leave; but when she opened the door and saw the Prince standing with the drawn sword she drew back in fear; she told him who she was and explained that they had put the shoes and sword at the door to prevent anyone else from entering; but in his wrath the Prince would not listen and called to her to come out and be killed.
Then she took off her cloth and showed it to him through the crack of the door and at the sight of this he was convinced; then he reflected on the advice of his teacher and repented, because he had nearly killed his sister through not restraining his wrath.
XV. The Monkey Boy.
There was once a man who had six sons and two daughters and he died leaving his wife pregnant of a ninth child.
And when the child was born it proved to be a monkey.
The villagers and relations advised the mother to make away with it, but she refused saying "Chando knows why he has given me such a child, but as he has done so I will rear it."
All her relations said that if she chose to rear a monkey they would turn her out of the family. However she persisted that she would do so at all costs. So they sent her to live with her child in a hut outside the village, and the monkey boy grew up and learned to talk like a human being.
One day his elder brothers began to clear the jungle for cultivation and the monkey boy took a hatchet and went with them; he asked where he could clear land for himself and in fun they showed him the place where the jungle was thickest. So he went there and drove his hatchet into the trunk of a tree and then returned and watched his brothers working hard clearing the scrub, and when they had finished their work he went and fetched his hatchet and returned home with them. Every day he did the same—and one day his brothers asked why he spent all his time with them, but he said that he only came to them when he was tired of cutting down trees; they laughed at this and said that they would like to see his clearing, so he took them to the place and to their astonishment they saw a large clearing, bigger than they had been able to make for themselves. Then the brothers burnt the jungle they had cut down and began to plough the land.
But the monkey boy's mother had no plough or cattle nor any seed rice; the only thing in the house was a pumpkin, so he took the seed out of the pumpkin and sowed it in his clearing. His brothers asked what he had sown and he told them—Rice.
The brothers ploughed and sowed and used to go daily to watch the growing crop, and one day they went to have a look at the monkey boy's crop and they saw that it was pumpkins and not rice and they laughed at him. When their crop was ripe the brothers prepared to offer the first fruits and the monkey boy watched them that he might observe the same ceremonies as they. One day they brought home the first fruits and offered them to the bongas, and they invited the monkey boy and his mother to come to the feast which followed the offering.
They both went and enjoyed themselves; and two or three days later the monkey boy said that he would also have a feast of first fruits, so he told his mother to clear the courtyard and invited his brothers and he purified himself and went to his clearing and brought home the biggest pumpkin that had grown there; this he offered to the spirits; he sliced off the top of it as if it were the head of a fowl, and as he did so he saw that the inside was full of rice; he called his mother and they filled a winnowing fan with the rice and there was enough besides to nearly fill a basket; they were delighted at this windfall but kept the matter secret lest they should be robbed. The monkey boy told his mother to be sure and cook enough rice so that his brothers and their wives might have as much as ever they could eat, and not merely a small helping such as they had given him, and if necessary he would go and fetch another pumpkin; so his mother boiled the rice. When the time fixed for the feast came, nothing was to be seen of the brothers because they did not expect that there would really be anything for them to eat; so the monkey boy went and fetched them, and when they came to the feast they were astonished to have as much rice as they could eat. When the crop was quite ripe the monkey boy gathered all the pumpkins and got sufficient rice from them to last for the whole year. After this the brothers went out to buy horses, and the monkey boy went with them and as he had no money he took nothing but a coil of rope; his brothers were ashamed to have him with them and drove him away, so he went on ahead and got first to the place where the horsedealer lived. The brothers arrived late in the evening and decided to make their purchases the following morning and ride their horses home, so they camped for the night. The monkey boy spent the night hiding on the rafters of the stable; and in the night the horses began to talk to each other and discussed which could gallop farthest, and one mare said "I can gallop twelve kos on the ground and then twelve kos in the air." When the monkey boy heard this he got down and lamed the mare by running a splinter into her hoof. The next morning the brothers bought the horses which pleased them and rode off. Then the monkey boy went to the horsedealer and asked why the mare was lame and advised him to apply remedies. But the dealer said that that was useless: when horses got ill they always died; then the monkey boy asked if he would sell the mare and offered to give the coil of rope in exchange; the dealer, thinking that the animal was useless, agreed, so the monkey boy led it away, but when he was out of sight he took out the splinter and the lameness at once ceased. Then he mounted the mare and rode after his brothers, and when he had nearly overtaken them he rose into the air and flew past his brothers and arrived first at home. There he tied up the mare outside his house and went and bathed and had his dinner and waited for his brothers.
They did not arrive for a full hour afterwards and when they saw the monkey boy and his mount they wanted to know how he had got home first. He boasted of how swift his mare was and so they arranged to have a race and match their horses against his. The race took place two or three days later and the monkey boy's mare easily beat all the other horses, she gallopped twelve kos on the ground and twelve kos in the air. Then they wanted to change their horses for his, but he said they had had first choice and he was not going to change.
In two or three years the monkey boy became rich and then he announced that he wanted to marry; this puzzled his mother for she thought that no human girl would marry him while a monkey would not be able to talk; so she told him that he must find a bride for himself. One day he set off to look for a wife and came to a tank in which some girls were bathing, and he took up the cloth belonging to one of them and ran up a tree with it, and when the girl missed it and saw it hanging down from the tree she borrowed a cloth from her friends and went and asked the monkey boy for her own; he told her that she could only have it back if she consented to marry him; she was surprised to find that he could talk and as he conversed she was bewitched by him and let him pull her up into the tree by her hair, and she called out to her friends to go home and leave her where she was. Then he took her on his back and ran off home with her.
The girl's father and relations turned out with bows and arrows to look for the monkey who had carried her off but he had gone so far away that they never found him. When the monkey boy appeared with his bride all the villagers were astonished that he had found anyone to marry him, but everything was made ready for the marriage as quickly as possible and all the relations were invited and the wedding took place and the monkey boy and his wife lived happily ever after.
XVI. The Miser's Servant.
Once there was a rich man who was a miser. Although he kept farm servants they would never stay out the year with him; but ran away in the middle. When the villagers asked why they ran away and so lost their year's wages the servants answered. "You would do the same in our place: at the busy time of the year he speaks us fair and feeds us well, but directly the crops are gathered he begins to starve us; this year we have had nothing to eat since September."
And the villagers said "Well, that is a good reason, a man can stand scolding but not starvation; we all work to fill our bellies, hunger is the worst disease of all." The news that the miser made his servants work for nothing spread throughout the neighbourhood so he could get no servants near by and when he brought them from a distance they soon heard of his character and ran away. Men would only work for him on daily wages and because of his miserliness they demanded higher wages than usual from him and would not work without. Now there was a young fellow named Kora who heard all this and he said "If I were that man's servant I would not run away. I would get the better of him; ask him if he wants a servant and if he says, yes, take me to him." The man to whom Kora told this went to the miser and informed him that Kora was willing to engage himself to him; so Kora was fetched and they had a drink of rice beer and then the miser asked Kora whether he would work for the full year and not run away in the middle. Kora said that he would stay if he were satisfied with the wages. The master said "I will fix your wages when I see your work; if you are handy at every thing I will give you 12 Kats of rice and if you are only a moderate worker then 9 or 10 Kats besides your clothes. How much do you ask for?"