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OLD
DECCAN DAYS

OR

HINDOO FAIRY LEGENDS

_CURRENT IN SOUTHERN INDIA._


COLLECTED FROM ORAL TRADITION,
BY M. FRERE.

WITH AN INTRODUCTION AND NOTES,
BY SIR BARTLE FRERE.


[Decoration]


PHILADELPHIA
J. B. LIPPINCOTT & CO.
1870.


Lippincott's Press, Philadelphia.




[Illustration: VICRAM MAHARAJAH - p. 133.]




CONTENTS.


PAGE
INTRODUCTION 5

THE COLLECTOR'S APOLOGY 12

THE NARRATOR'S NARRATIVE 15

1. PUNCHKIN 27

2. A FUNNY STORY 44

3. BRAVE SEVENTEE BAI 51

4. TRUTH'S TRIUMPH 81

5. RAMA AND LUXMAN; OR, THE LEARNED OWL 98

6. LITTLE SURYA BAI 113

7. THE WANDERINGS OF VICRAM MAHARAJAH 129

8. LESS INEQUALITY THAN MEN DEEM 161

9. PANCH-PHUL RANEE 164

10. HOW THE SUN, THE MOON AND THE WIND WENT OUT
TO DINNER 194

11. SINGH RAJAH AND THE CUNNING LITTLE JACKALS 196

12. THE JACKAL, THE BARBER AND THE BRAHMIN WHO HAD
SEVEN DAUGHTERS 199

13. TIT FOR TAT 218

14. THE BRAHMIN, THE TIGER AND THE SIX JUDGES 220

15. THE SELFISH SPARROW AND THE HOUSELESS CROWS 225

16. THE VALIANT CHATTEE-MAKER 227

17. THE RAKSHAS' PALACE 236

18. THE BLIND MAN, THE DEAF MAN AND THE DONKEY 248

19. MUCHIE LAL 258

20. CHUNDUN RAJAH 268

21. SODEWA BAI 280

22. CHANDRA'S VENGEANCE 291

23. HOW THE THREE CLEVER MEN OUTWITTED THE DEMONS 314

24. THE ALLIGATOR AND THE JACKAL 326

NOTES 333




INTRODUCTION.


A few words seem necessary regarding the origin of these stories, in
addition to what the Narrator says for herself in her Narrative, and
what is stated in the Collector's "Apology."

With the exception of two or three, which will be recognized as
substantially identical with stories of Pilpay or other well-known
Hindoo fabulists, I never before heard any of these tales among the
Mahrattas, in that part of the Deccan where the Narrator and her
family have lived for the last two generations; and it is probable
that most of the stories were brought from among the Lingaets of
Southern India, the tribe, or rather sect, to which Anna de Souza
tells us her family belonged before their conversion to Christianity.

The Lingaets form one of the most strongly marked divisions of the
Hindoo races south of the river Kistna. They are generally a
well-favored, well-to-do people, noticeable for their superior
frugality, intelligence and industry, and for the way in which they
combine and act together as a separate body apart from other Hindoos.
They have many peculiarities of costume, of social ceremony and of
religion, which strike even a casual observer; and though clearly not
aboriginal, they seem to have much ground for their claim to belong to
a more ancient race and an earlier wave of immigration than most of
the Hindoo nations with which they are now intermingled.

The country they inhabit is tolerably familiar to most English readers
on Indian subjects, for it is the theatre of many of the events
described in the great Duke's earlier despatches, and in the writings
of Munro, of Wilkes, and of Buchanan. The extraordinary beauty of some
of the natural features of the coast scenery, and the abundance of
the architectural and other remains of powerful and highly civilized
Hindoo dynasties, have attracted the attention of tourists and
antiquaries, though not to the extent their intrinsic merit deserves.
Some knowledge of the land tenures and agriculture of the country is
accessible to readers of Indian blue-books.

But of all that relates to the ancient history and politics of the
former Hindoo sovereigns of these regions very little is known to the
general reader, though from their power, and riches and long-sustained
civilization, as proved by the monuments these rulers have left behind
them there are few parts of India better worth the attention of the
historian and antiquary.

Of the inner life of the people, past or present, of their social
peculiarities and popular beliefs, even less is known or procurable in
any published form. With the exception of a few graphic and
characteristic notices of shrewd observers like Munro, little
regarding them is to be found in the writings of any author likely to
come in the way of ordinary readers.

But this is not from want of materials: a good deal has been published
in India, though, with the common fate of Indian publications, the
books containing the information are often rare in English
collections, and difficult to meet with in England, except in a few
public libraries. Of unpublished material there must be a vast amount,
collected not only by the government servants, but by missionaries,
and others residing in the country, who have peculiar opportunities
for observation, and for collecting information not readily to be
obtained by a stranger or an official. Collections of this kind are
specially desirable as regards the popular non-Brahminical
superstitions of the lower orders.

Few, even of those who have lived many years in India and made some
inquiry regarding the external religion of its inhabitants, are aware
how little the popular belief of the lower classes has in common with
the Hindooism of the Brahmins, and how much it differs in different
provinces, and in different races and classes in the same province.

In the immediate vicinity of Poona, where Brahminism seems so
orthodox and powerful, a very little observation will satisfy the
inquirer that the favorite objects of popular worship do not always
belong to the regular Hindoo Pantheon. No orthodox Hindoo deity is so
popular in the Poona Deccan as the deified sage Vithoba and his
earlier expounders, both sage and followers being purely local
divinities. Wherever a few of the pastoral tribes are settled, there
Byroba, the god of the herdsmen, or Kundoba, the deified hero of the
shepherds, supersedes all other popular idols. Byroba the Terrible,
and other remnants of Fetish or of Snake-worship, everywhere divide
the homage of the lower castes with the recognized Hindoo divinities,
while outside almost every village the circle of large stones sacred
to Vetal, the demon-god of the outcast helot races, which reminds the
traveler of the Druid circles of the northern nations, has for ages
held, and still holds, its ground against all Brahminical innovations.

Some of these local or tribal divinities, when their worshipers are
very numerous or powerful, have been adopted into the Hindoo Olympus
as incarnations or manifestations of this or that orthodox divinity,
and one or two have been provided with elaborate written legends
connecting them with some known Puranic character or event; but, in
general, the true history of the local deity, if it survives at all,
is to be found only in popular tradition; and it thus becomes a matter
of some ethnological and historical importance to secure all such
fleeting remnants of ancient superstition before they are forgotten as
civilization advances.

Some information of this kind is to be gleaned even from the present
series of legends, though the object of the collector being simply
amusement, and not antiquarian research, any light which is thrown on
the popular superstitions of the country is only incidental.

Of the superhuman personages who appear in them, the "Rakshas" is the
most prominent. This being has many features in common with the
demoniacal Ogre of other lands. The giant bulk and terrible teeth of
his usual form are the universal attributes of his congener. His habit
of feasting on dead bodies will remind the reader of the Arabian
Ghoul, while the simplicity and stupidity which qualify the
supernatural powers of the Rakshas, and usually enable the
quick-witted mortal to gain the victory over him, will recall many
humorous passages in which giants figure in our own Norse and Teutonic
legends.

The English reader must bear in mind that in India beings of this or
of very similar nature are not mere traditions of the past, but that
they form an important part of the existing practical belief of the
lower orders. Grown men will sometimes refuse every inducement to pass
at night near the supposed haunt of a Rakshas, and I have heard the
cries of a belated traveler calling for help attributed to a Rakshas
luring his prey.

Nor is darkness always an element in this superstition: I have known a
bold and experienced tracker of game gravely assert that some figures
which he had been for some time keenly scanning on the bare summit of
a distant hill were beings of this order, and he was very indignant at
the laugh which his observation provoked from his less-experienced
European disciple. "If your telescope could see as far as my old
eyes," the veteran said, "or if you knew the movements of all the
animals of this hunting-ground as well as I do, you would see that
those must be demons and nothing else. No men nor animals at this time
of day would collect on an open space and move about in that way.
Besides, that large rock close by them is a noted place for demons;
every child in the village knows that."

I have heard another man of the same class, when asked why he looked
so intently at a human footstep in the forest pathway, gravely
observed that the footmark looked as if the foot which made it had
been walking heel-foremost, and must therefore have been made by a
Rakshas, "for they always walked so when in human form."

Another expressed particular dread of a human face, the eyes of which
were placed at an exaggerated angle to each other, like those of a
Chinese or Malay, "because that position of the eyes was the only way
in which you could recognize a Rakshas in human shape."

In the more advanced and populous parts of the country the Rakshas
seems giving way to the "Bhoot," which more nearly resembles the mere
ghost of modern European superstition; but even in this diluted form
such beings have an influence over Indian imaginations to which it is
difficult in these days to find any parallel in Europe.

I found, quite lately, a traditionary order in existence at Government
House, Dapoorie, near Poona, which directed the native sentry on guard
"to present arms if a cat or dog, jackal or goat, entered or left the
house or crossed near his beat" during certain hours of the night,
"because it was the ghost" of a former governor, who was still
remembered as one of the best and kindest of men.

How or when the custom originated I could not learn, but the order had
been verbally handed on from one native sergeant of the guard to
another for many years, without any doubts as to its propriety or
authority, till it was accidentally overheard by an European officer
of the governor's staff.

In the hills and deserts of Sind the belief in beings of this order,
as might be expected in a wild and desolate country, is found strong
and universal; there, however, the Rakshas has changed his name to
that of our old friend the "Gin" of the Arabian Nights, and he has
somewhat approximated in character to the Pwcca or Puck of our own
country. The Gin of the Beelooch hills is wayward and often morose,
but not necessarily malignant. His usual form is that of a dwarfish
human being, with large eyes and covered with long hair, and apt to
breathe with a heavy snoring kind of noise. From the circumstantial
accounts I have heard of such "Gins" being seen seated on rocks at the
side of lonely passes, I suspect that the great horned eagle-owl,
which is not uncommon in the hill-country of Sind, has to answer for
many well-vouched cases of Gin apparition.

The Gin does not, however, always retain his own shape; he frequently
changes to the form of a camel, goat or other animal. If a Gin be
accidentally met, it is recommended that the traveler should show no
sign of fear, and, above all, keep a civil tongue in his head, for the
demon has a special aversion to bad language. Every Beelooch has heard
of instances in which such chance acquaintanceships with Gins have not
only led to no mischief, but been the source of much benefit to the
fortunate mortal who had the courage and prudence to turn them to
account; for a Gin once attached to a man will work hard and
faithfully for him, and sometimes show him the entrance to those great
subterranean caverns under the hills, where there is perpetual spring,
and trees laden with fruits of gold and precious stones; but the
mortal once admitted to such a paradise is never allowed to leave it.
There are few neighborhoods in the Beelooch hills which cannot show
huge stones, apparently intended for building, which have been, "as
all the country-side knows," moved by such agency, and the entrance to
the magic cavern is never very far off, though the boldest Beelooch is
seldom very willing to show or to seek for the exact spot.

Superstitions nearly identical were still current within the last
forty years, when I was a boy, on the borders of Wales. In Cwm Pwcca
(the Fairies' Glen), in the valley of the Clydach, between Abergavenny
and Merthyr, the cave used to be shown into which a belated miner was
decoyed by the Pwccas, and kept dancing for ten years; and a
farm-house on the banks of the Usk, not far off, was, in the last
generation, the abode of a farmer who had a friendly Pwcca in his
service. The goblin was called Pwcca Trwyn, as I was assured from his
occasionally being visible as a huge human nose. He would help the
mortal by carrying loads and mending hedges, but usually worked only
while the farmer slept at noon, and always expected as his guerdon a
portion of the toast and ale which his friend had for dinner in the
field. If none was left for him, he would cease to work; and he once
roused the farmer from his noontide slumbers by thrashing him soundly
with his own hedging-stake.

The Peris or Fairies of these stories have nothing distinctive about
them. Like the fairies of other lands, they often fall in love with
mortal men, and are visible to the pure eyes of childhood when hidden
from the grosser vision of maturer years.

Next to the Rakshas, the Cobra, or deadly hooded snake, plays the most
important part in these legends as a supernatural personage. This is
one only of the many traces still extant of that serpent-worship
formerly so general in Western India. I have no doubt that Mr.
Ferguson, in his forthcoming work on Bhuddhist antiquities, will throw
much light on this curious subject. I will, therefore, only now
observe that this serpent-worship as it still exists is something more
active than a mere popular superstition. The Cobra, unless disturbed,
rarely goes far from home, and is supposed to watch jealously over a
hidden treasure. He is always, in the estimation of the lower classes,
invested with supernatural powers, and according to the treatment he
receives he builds up or destroys the fortunes of the house to which
he belongs. No native will willingly kill him if he can get rid of him
in any other way; and the poorer classes always, after he is killed,
give him all the honors of a regular cremation, assuring him, with
many protestations, as the pile burns, "that they are guiltless of his
blood; that they slew him by order of their master," or "that they had
no other way to prevent his biting the children or the chickens."

A very interesting discussion on the subject of the Snake Race of
Ancient India, between Mr. Bayley and Baboo Rajendralal Mitr, will be
found in the _Proceedings of the Asiatic Society of Bengal_, for
February, 1867.




THE COLLECTOR'S APOLOGY.


The collection of these legends was commenced with the object of
amusing a favorite young friend of mine. It was continued, as they
appeared in themselves curious illustrations of Indian popular
tradition, and in the hope that something might thus be done to rescue
them from the danger of oral transmission.

Though varied in their imagery, the changes between the different
legends are rung upon very few themes, as if purposely confined to
what was most familiar to the people. The similarity between the
incidents in some of these and in favorite European stories,
particularly modern German ones, is curious; and the leading
characteristics peculiar to all orthodox fairy tales are here
preserved intact. Step-mothers are always cruel, and step-sisters,
their willing instruments; giants and ogres always stupid; youngest
daughters more clever than their elder sisters; and the Jackal (like
his European cousin the Fox) usually overcomes every difficulty, and
proves a bright moral example of the success of wit against brute
force - the triumph of mind over matter.

It is remarkable that in the romances of a country where women are
generally supposed by us to be regarded as mere slaves or intriguers,
their influence (albeit most frequently put to proof behind the
scenes) should be made to appear so great, and, as a rule, exerted
wholly for good; and that, in a land where despotism has such a firm
hold on the hearts of the people, the liberties of the subject should
be so boldly asserted as by the old Milkwoman to the Rajah in "Little
Surya Bai," or the old Malee[1] to the Rajah in "Truth's Triumph;"
and few, probably would have expected to find the Hindoos owning such
a romance as "Brave Seventee Bai;"[2] or to meet with such stories as
"The Valiant Chattee-maker," and "The Blind Man, the Deaf Man and the
Donkey," among a nation which, it has been constantly asserted,
possesses no humor, no sense of the ridiculous, and cannot understand
a joke.

[1] Gardener.

[2] Was this narrative of feminine sagacity invented by some old
woman, who felt aggrieved at the general contempt entertained for
her sex?

In "The Narrator's Narrative" Anna Liberata de Souza's own story is
related, as much as possible, in her own words of expressive but
broken English. She did not, however, tell it in one continuous
narrative: it is the sum of many conversations I had with her during
the eighteen months that she was with us.

The legends themselves are altered as little as possible: half their
charm, however, consisted in the Narrator's eager, flexible voice and
graphic gestures.

I often asked her if there were no stories of elephants having done
wonderful deeds (as from their strength and sagacity one would have
imagined them to possess all the qualifications requisite to heroes of
romance); but, strange to say, she knew of none in which elephants
played any part whatsoever.

As regards the Oriental names, they have generally been written as
Anna pronounced them. It was frequently not possible to give the true
orthography, and the correctly spelt name does not always give a clue
to the popular pronunciation. So with the interpretations and
geography. Where it is possible to identify what is described, an
attempt has been made to do so; but for other explanations Anna's is
the sole authority: she was quite sure that "Seventee Bai" meant the
"Daisy Lady," though no botanist would acknowledge the plant under
that name; and she was satisfied that all gentlemen who have traveled
know where "Agra Brum" is, though she had never been there, and no
such province appears in any ordinary Gazeteer or description of the
city of Akbar.

These few legends, told by one old woman to her grandchildren, can
only be considered as representatives of a class. "That world," to
use her own words, "is gone;" and those who can tell us about it in
this critical and unimaginative age are fast disappearing too before
the onward march of civilization; yet there must be in the country
many a rich gold mine unexplored. Will no one go to the diggings?

M. F.




THE NARRATOR'S NARRATIVE.


My grandfather's family were of the Lingaet caste, and lived in
Calicut; but they went and settled near Goa at the time the English
were there. It was there my grandfather became a Christian. He and his
wife, and all the family, became Christians at once, and when his
father heard it he was very angry, and turned them all out of the
house. There were very few Christians in those days. Now you see
Christians everywhere, but then we were very proud to see one
anywhere. My grandfather was Havildar[3] in the English army, and when
the English fought against Tippo Sahib, my grandmother followed him
all through the war. She was a very tall, fine, handsome woman, and
very strong; wherever the regiment marched she went, on, on, on, on
(great deal hard work that old woman done). Plenty stories my granny
used to tell about Tippo and how Tippo was killed, and about Wellesley
Sahib, and Monro Sahib, and Malcolm Sahib, and Elphinstone Sahib.[4]
Plenty things had that old woman heard and seen. Ah, he was a good
man, Elphinstone Sahib! My granny used often to tell us how he would
go down and say to the soldiers, "Baba,[5] Baba, fight well. Win the
battles, and each man shall have his cap full of money; and after the
war is over I'll send every one of you to his own home." (And he did
do it.) Then we children plenty proud, when we heard what Elphinstone
Sahib had said. In those days the soldiers were not low-caste people
like they are now. Many, very high-caste men, and come from very far,
from Goa, and Calicut, and Malabar to join the English.

[3] Sergeant of native troops.

[4] The Duke of Wellington, Sir Thomas Monro, Sir John Malcolm and
Mr. Mountstuart Elphinstone.

[5] My children.

My father was a tent lascar,[6] and when the war was over my
grandfather had won five medals for all the good he had done, and my
father had three; and my father was given charge of the Kirkee
stores.[7] My grandmother and mother, and all the family, were in
those woods behind Poona at time of the battle at Kirkee.[8] I've
often heard my father say how full the river was after the
battle - baggage and bundles floating down, and men trying to swim
across - and horses and all such a bustle. Many people got good things
on that day. My father got a large chattee,[9] and two good ponies
that were in the river, and he took them home to camp; but when he got
there the guard took them away. So all his trouble did him no good.

[6] Tent-pitcher.

[7] The Field Arsenal at Kirkee (near Poona).

[8] The battle which decided the fate of the Deccan, and led to the
downfall of Bajee Row Peishwa, and extinction of Mahratta rule.
Fought 13th November, 1817. See Note A.

[9] A Jar.

We were poor people, but living was cheap, and we had plenty comfort.

In those days house rent did not cost more than half a rupee[10] a
month, and you could build a very comfortable house for a hundred
rupees. Not such good houses as people now live in, but well enough
for people like us. Then a whole family could live as comfortably on
six or seven rupees a month as they can now on thirty. Grain, now a
rupee a pound, was then two annas a pound. Common sugar, then one anna
a pound, is now worth four annas a pound. Oil which then sold for six
pice a bottle, now costs four annas. Four annas' worth of salt,
chillies, tamarinds, onions and garlic, would then last a family a
whole month; now the same money would not buy a week's supply. Such
dungeree[11] as you now pay half rupee a yard for, you could then buy
from twenty to forty yards of, for the rupee. You could not get such
good calico then as now, but the dungeree did very well. Beef then
was a pice a pound, and the vegetables cost a pie a day. For half a


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