Cecil Henry Bompas.

Folklore of the Santal Parganas online

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on the day fixed after everyone was asleep Kuwar went to the tree and
almost at once the princess came to him riding on Piyari; he asked
her how she had escaped and whether she had been seen and she told
him how the mare had jumped over the wall without anyone knowing;
then they both mounted Piyari and drove her like the wind and in one
night they passed through the territory of two or three Rajas and in
the morning were in a far country.

Then they dismounted to cook their rice, and went to the house of an
old woman to ask for a light with which to light their fire. Now this
old woman had seven sons and they were all robbers and murderers;
and six of them had killed travellers and carried off their wives
and married them. When Kuwar and the princess came asking for a
light the seven sons were away hunting and when the old woman saw
the princess she resolved to marry her to her youngest son, and made
a plan to delay them; so she asked them to cook their rice at her
house and offered them cooking pots and water pots and firewood and
everything necessary; they did not know that she meant to kill Kuwar
and unsuspiciously accepted her offer. When they had finished cooking
Kuwar asked the old woman whether she lived alone and she told him
that she was a widow but had seven sons and they were all away on a
trading expedition. The old woman kept on looking out to see if her
sons were returning, and she had made an arrangement with them that if
she ever wanted them she would set fire to a small hut and they would
come home at once when they saw the smoke rising. But before her sons
came back Kuwar and the princess finished their meal and paid the old
woman and mounted Piyari and gallopped off. Then the old woman set fire
to the hut and her sons, seeing the smoke hurried home. She told them
that a beautiful girl had just left who would make a suitable wife for
the youngest of the brothers. Then the brothers tied on their swords
and mounted their horses and went in pursuit. Kuwar and the princess
knew nothing of their danger and rode on happily, but presently they
heard horses neighing behind them and looking round, saw men riding
after them with drawn swords. Then the princess said to Kuwar "Our
enemies are upon us; do you sit in front and let me sit behind you,
then they will kill us both together. If I am in front they may kill
you alone and carry me off alive." But while they were thinking of
this the seven brothers caught them up, and began to abuse them and
charge them with having set fire to the house in which they had eaten
their rice, and told them to come back with them at once. Kuwar and
the princess were too frightened to answer and they had no sword with
which to defend themselves. Then the robbers surrounded them and killed
Kuwar, and they said to the princess "You cannot stay here all alone;
we will take you back and you shall marry one of us." The princess
answered "Kill me here at once, never will I go with you." They said
"We shall take away your horse and all your food, will not that make
you go?" But the princess threw herself on the dead body of Kuwar
and for all they could do they could not drag her off it. Then the
murderers said to the youngest brother "She is to be your wife: you
must pull her away." But he refused saying "No, if I take her away she
will not stay with me, she will probably hang herself or drown herself;
I do not want a wife like that, if any of you want her, you can have
her." But they said that it would not be right for one of them to take
a second wife while their youngest brother was unmarried, and that
their mother intended him to marry this girl; if he would not they
would kill her there and then. But the youngest brother had pity on
her and asked them to spare her life, so they took away her horse and
her food and everything that she had and went away and left her there.

For a day and a night the princess lay there weeping and lamenting
her dead Kuwar and never ceased for a moment. Then Chando said "who
is this who is weeping and what has happened to her?" And he sent
Bidhi and Bidha to see what was the matter; they came and told him
that a princess was weeping over the body of her dead husband and
would not leave him though she had been robbed of everything she had.

Then Chando told them to go and frighten her, and if they could
frighten her away from her husband's dead body he would do nothing, but
if she would not leave him then they were to restore him to life. So
they went and found her holding the dead body of her husband In her
lap and weeping; and they first assumed the form of tigers and began
to circle round her roaring, but she only went on weeping and sang -


"You have come roaring, tigress:
First eat me, tigress:
Then only will I let you eat the body of my lord."


She would not quit the body nor run away from fear of the tigers,
so they slunk away and came back in the form of two leopards, and
prowled round her growling; but she only sang


"You have come roaring, leopardess
First eat me, leopardess
Then only will I let you eat the body of my lord."


and as she would not fly from them they slunk away and came back
in the form of two bears, but the princess only sang the same song;
then they appeared as two elephants; and then as two huge snakes which
hissed terribly but still she only wept; and in many forms they tried
to frighten her away but she would not move nor leave the corpse of
Kuwar, so in the end they saw that all the heart of the princess was
with Kuwar and that even in death they could not be separated, so at
last they drew near to her in the form of human beings and asked her
why she was crying, as they had heard her weeping from a long way off,
and had been filled with pity for her lamentations. Then the princess
said "Alas, this youth and I are from such and such a country and
as we loved and our lives were bound up in each other we ran away
together hither, and here on the road he has been killed and the
murderers have left me without my horse or food; and this is why I
weep." Then Bidhi and Bidha said "Daughter, rise up and we will take
you to your home, or we will find you another husband; this one is
dead and cannot be restored to you; you will find another; come arise,
you have but one life," But the princess answered "No I will not go
and leave him here. I will not leave him while my life lasts; but I
pray you if you know of any medicine that might restore him to life,
to try it." Then they answered "We know something of medicine and
if you wish we will try to cure him;" so saying, they ground up some
simples and told the princess to spread out a cloth and lay the dead
body on it and to put the head which had been cut off into position,
and then to cover it with the cloth and hold the head in position;
so she did as they bade, and they rubbed the medicine on the body
and then they suddenly disappeared from her sight.

Then in a few moments she saw Kuwar's chest heave as if he were
breathing; thereupon she shook him violently and he rose up and said
"Oh, what a long time I have slept," but the princess said "Do not
talk of sleep; you were killed and two men appeared from somewhere
and applied medicine and brought you to life again;" then Kuwar asked
where they were and she told him how they had disappeared without
her knowledge.

Then they rose up and went in search of food to a village where
there was a bazar, and they tried to get employment as servants;
but the people advised them to go to the capital city where the Raja
lived, and there if no one would take them as servants they could get
employment as coolies on a big tank which the Raja was excavating. So
they went there, and as they could not get employment as servants they
went to work at the tank with the common coolies and were paid their
wages at the end of the week and so managed to live. Kuwar's desire
was to somehow save five or six rupees and then build a little house
for themselves.

Now although the tank had been dug very deep there were no signs of
any water. Then the Raja ordered the centre post to be planted in
hopes that this would make the water rise; and he told the coolies
not to run away as he would make a feast to celebrate the making of
the tank and would distribute presents among them, and at this the
labourers were very pleased.

Now Kuwar's wife was very fair to see and the Raja saw her and fell
in love with her and made a plot to get possession of her. So when
the centre post had been planted and still no water came he said
"We must see what sacrifice is required to make the water come. I
have animals of all kinds; one by one they shall be offered and you
shall sing and dedicate them." So first an elephant was led down into
the bed of the tank and the people sang


"Tank, we will sacrifice to you an elephant
Let clear water bubble up, O tank,"


but no water came.

Then they led down a horse and sang a similar song, but no water came;
and then in succession a camel, a donkey, a cow, a buffalo, a goat and
a sheep were offered but no water came; and so they stopped. Then
the Raja asked why they stopped and they said that they had no
more animals. Then the Raja bade them sing a song dedicating a man,
to see if that would bring the water; so they sang and as they sang
water bubbled up everywhere from the bottom of the tank and then the
coolies were stricken with fear for they did not know which of them
would be sacrificed.

But the Raja sent his soldiers and they seized Kuwar and bound him
to the post in the middle of the tank; and then a song was sung
dedicating him to the tank and as the water rose around him the
princess wept bitterly; but the Raja said "Do not cry I will arrange
for your support and will give you part of my kingdom and you shall
live in my palace." The princess said "Yes: hereafter I may stay with
you, but let me now watch Kuwar till he is drowned;" so Kuwar fixed
his eyes on the princess and tears streamed down his face until the
waters rose and covered him; and the princess also gazed at him till
he was drowned. Then the Raja's soldiers told her to come with them
and she said "Yes, I am coming, but let me first offer a libation
of water to my dead husband;" and on this pretext she went into the
water and then she darted to the place where Kuwar had been bound and
sank beneath the surface. The Raja bade men rescue her but all were
afraid to enter the water and she was seen no more. Then the Raja
gave all the coolies a feast and scattered money among the crowd and
dismissed them. And this is the end of the story.




XVIII. The Laughing Fish.

There was once a merchant who prospered in his business and in the
course of time became very rich. He had five sons but none of them
was married. In the village where he lived was an old tank which was
half silted up and he resolved to clean it out and deepen it, if the
Raja would give it to him; so he went to the Raja and the Raja said
that he could have the tank if he paid forty rupees. The merchant paid
the money and then went home and called his family together and said
that they would first improve the tank and then find wives for all
his sons. The sons agreed and they collected coolies and drained
off the water and began to dig out the silt. When they had drained
off the water they found in the bed of the tank a number of big fish
of unknown age: which they caught and two of them they sent to the
Raja as a present. When the fish were carried into the presence of the
Raja they both began to laugh: then the Raja said "What is the meaning
of this? Here are two dead fish, why are they laughing?" And he told
the men who brought the fish to explain what was the matter or else
to take them away again. But they could give no explanation. Then the
Raja called all his officers and astrologers and asked them what they
thought it meant: but no one could give him any answer. Then the Raja
told the men to take the fish away again, and to tell the merchant
that, if he could not explain why the fish laughed, he would kill him
and all his descendants; and he wrote a letter to the same effect,
and fixed a day by which the merchant was to explain the matter. When
the merchant read the letter he fell into the greatest distress and
for two or three days he could not make up his mind whether to go on
with the work on the tank or no; but in the end he resolved to finish
it so that his name might be held in remembrance. So they finished the
work and then the merchant said to his sons: "My sons I cannot arrange
for your marriages, for the Raja has threatened to kill us all, if I
cannot explain why the fish laughed; you must all escape from here so
that our family may not die out;" but the younger sons all answered
"We are not able to take care of ourselves, either you come with us
to protect us or we will stay here." Then the merchant told his eldest
son to escape alone so that their family might not become extinct.

So the eldest son took a supply of money and went away into a far
country. After travelling a long time he came to a town where a
Raja lived and decided to stay there; so he first went to a tank and
bathed and sat down on the bank to eat some refreshment; and as he
sat the daughter of the Raja came down to the tank to bathe and she
saw the merchant's son and their eyes met. Then the princess sent
her maid-servants to ask him where he came from; and he told them
where he came from and that he meant to make a stay in that town,
and he promised them a rupee if they could persuade the princess to
uncover her face. They went and told their mistress all this and she
answered "Go and get your rupee from him, I will uncover my face;
and ask him what he wants." And when they went, she drew aside the
cloth from her face; then he gave them the rupee, and they asked him
whether he had seen her and what his intention was; then he said that
his wish was to marry the princess and live with her in her father's
house! When the princess heard this she said "Yes, my heart has gone
out to him also;" so then she bathed and went home and lay down in
her room and would not get up, and when her father asked her what
was the matter, she made no answer. Then they asked her maidens what
was the matter and they said that she had seen a stranger by the
tank and wished to marry him. The Rani asked whether the stranger
was still there and they said that they had left him by the tank. So
two men were sent to fetch the stranger or to find out where he had
gone. The two servants went and found the merchant's son just ready
to continue his journey, and they asked him who he was and what he
wanted. He said that he was looking for employment but would like
best to marry and live in the house of his father-in-law. Then they
told him not go away and they would arrange such a marriage for him,
so they took him to a house in the town and left him there and went
back to the Raja. They told the Raja that the stranger had gone away
but that they could follow him and bring him back if he gave them some
money for their journey. So the Raja gave them two rupees; then they
went off but only ate their dinner at home, and then they brought
the merchant's son to the Raja, pretending that they had overtaken
him a long way off. He was questioned about himself and he told his
whole history except that the Raja had threatened to cut off his
family, and his account being satisfactory it was arranged that he
should marry the princess. Musicians were sent for and the marriage
took place at once. After his marriage the merchant's son was much
depressed at the thought of his brothers' fate and in the middle of
the night he used to rise up and weep till the bed was soaked with
his tears; the princess noticed this and one night she pretended to
go to sleep but really lay awake and watched her husband; and in the
middle of the night saw him rise quietly and begin to sob. She was
filled with sympathy and went to him and begged him to tell her what
was the matter and whether he was sorry that he had married her; and
he answered "I cry because I am in despair; in the daytime I restrain
my tears before others with difficulty but in the night they cannot
be kept back; but I am ashamed for you to see me and I wait till you
are asleep before I give way to my feelings."

Then she asked what was the cause of his sorrow and he answered "My
father and mother and brothers and sisters are all doomed to die;
for our Raja has sworn to kill them by a certain day if he is not
told why two fish, which my father sent to him as a present, laughed
when they were brought before him. In consequence of this threat
my father sent me from home that one of the family might survive
and although I may be safe here the thought of them and their fate
makes me weep." The princess asked him what was the day fixed for
the mystery to be explained; and he told her that it was at the
full moon of a certain month. Then the princess said "Come take me
to your father's house: I shall be able to explain why the fishes
laughed." The merchant's son joyfully agreed to start off the next
day; so in the morning they told the Raja why they wished to go, and
he said to his daughter "Go and do not be afraid; go in confidence,
I promise you that you will be able to explain why the fishes laughed."

So they made ready and journeyed to the merchant's house; and when
they arrived they told the merchant to go to the Raja and ask him
to collect all the citizens on a certain day to hear the reason why
the fishes laughed. The merchant went to the Raja and the Raja gave
him a letter fixing the day and all the citizens were assembled in
an open plain; and the princess dressed herself as a man and went to
the assembly and stood before the Raja.

Then the Raja bade her explain why the fishes laughed, and the princess
answered "If you wish to know the reason order all your Ranis to be
brought here;" so the Ranis were summoned; then the princess said
"The reason why the fishes laughed was because among all your wives
it is only the eldest Rani who is a woman and all the others are
men. What will you give me if this is not proved to be true?" Then
the Raja wrote a bond promising to give the merchant half his kingdom
if this were proved to be true. When enquiry was made it was found
that the wives had really become men, and the Raja was put to shame
before all his people. Then the assembly broke up and the merchant
received half the Raja's kingdom.




XIX. How the Cowherd Found a Bride.

There was once a Goala who was in charge of a herd of cattle and
every day he used to bring the herd for their midday rest to the
foot of a peepul tree. One day the peepul tree spoke and said to him
"If you pour milk every day at my roots I will grant you a boon." So
thenceforward the Goala every day poured milk at the roots of the tree
and after some days he saw a crack in the ground; he thought that
the roots of the tree were cracking the earth but the fact was that
a snake was buried there, and as it increased in size from drinking
the milk it cracked the ground and one day it issued forth; at the
sight of it the Goala was filled with fear and made sure that the
snake would devour him. But the snake said "Do not fear: I was shut
up in the nether world, and you by your kindness have rescued me,
I wish to show gratitude to you and will confer on you any boon for
which you ask." The Goala answered that the snake should choose what
he would give him; then the snake called him near, and breathed on
his hair which was very long and it became glistening as gold, and the
snake said that his hair would obtain for him a wife and that he would
be very powerful; and that whatever he said would come to pass. The
Goala asked what sort of things would come to pass. The snake answered
"If you say a man shall die he will die and if you say he shall come
to life, he will come to life. But you must not tell this to anyone;
not even to your wife when you marry; if you do the power will vanish."

Some time afterwards it happened that the Goala was bathing in the
river; and as he bathed one of his hairs came out and the fancy took
him to wrap it in a leaf and set it to float down the stream. Lower
down the river a princess was bathing with her attendants and they
saw the packet come floating down and tried to stop it but it floated
straight to the princess and she caught it and opened it and found
the hair inside. It shone like gold and when they measured it, it was
twelve fathoms long. So the princess tied it up in her cloth and went
home and shut herself up in her room, and would neither eat nor drink
nor speak. Her mother sent two of her companions to question her,
and at last she told them that she would not rise and eat until they
found the person to whom the golden hair belonged; if it were the
hair of a man he should be her husband and if it came from a girl
she would have that girl come and live with her.

When the Raja and Rani heard this and that the hair had come floating
down the river they went to their daughter and told her that they
would at once send messengers up the stream to find the owner of the
hair. Then she was comforted and rose up and ate her rice. That very
day the Raja ordered messengers to follow up the banks of the stream
and enquire in all the villages and question every one they met to
find trace of the owner of the golden hair; so the messengers set out
on both banks of the stream and followed it to its source but their
search was vain and they returned without news; then holy mendicants
were sent out to search and they also returned unsuccessful. Then the
princess said "If you cannot find the owner of the golden hair I will
hang myself!" At this a tame crow and a parrot which were chained to
a perch, said "You will never be able to find the man with the golden
hair; he is in the depths of the forest; if he had lived in a village
you would have found him, but as it is we alone can fetch him; unfasten
our chains and we will go in search of him." So the Raja ordered them
to be unfastened and gave them a good meal before starting, for they
could not carry a bag of provisions with them like a man. Then the
crow and the parrot mounted into the air and flew away up the river,
and after long search they spied the Goala in the jungle resting his
cattle under the peepul tree; so they flew down and perched on the
peepul tree and consulted how they could lure him away. The parrot
said that he was afraid to go near the cattle and proposed that the
crow should fly down and carry off the Goala's flute, from where it
was lying with his stick and wrapper at the foot of the tree. So the
crow went flitting from one cow to another till it suddenly pounced
on the flute and carried it off in its beak; when the Goala saw this
he ran after the crow to recover his flute and the crow tempted him
on by just fluttering from tree to tree and the Goala kept following;
and when the crow was tired the parrot took the flute from him and
so between them they drew the Goala on right to the Raja's city,
and they flew into the palace and the Goala followed them in, and
they flew to the room in which the princess was and dropped the
flute into the hand of the princess and the Goala followed and the
door was shut upon him. The Goala asked the princess to give him the
flute and she said that she would give it to him if he promised to
marry her and not otherwise. He asked how he could marry her all of
a sudden when they had never been betrothed; but the princess said
"We have been betrothed for a long time; do you remember one day
tying a hair up in a leaf and setting it to float downstream; well
that hair has been the go-between which arranged our betrothal." Then
the Goala remembered how the snake had told him that his hair would
find him a wife and he asked to see the hair which the princess had
found, so she brought it out and they found that it was like his,
as long and as bright; then he said "We belong to each other" and
the princess called for the door to be opened and brought the Goala
to her father and mother and told them that her heart's desire was
fulfilled and that if they did not allow the wedding to take place in
the palace she would run away with the Goala. So a day was fixed for
the wedding and invitations were issued and it duly took place. The
Goala soon became so much in love with his bride that he forgot all
about his herd of cattle which he had left behind, without any one
to look after them; but after some time he bethought himself of them



Online LibraryCecil Henry BompasFolklore of the Santal Parganas → online text (page 5 of 34)