Part 6 out of 8
One winter day a bear and a tiger began to dispute as to which is
the coldest season of the year; the bear said July and August, which
is the rainy season, and the tiger said December and January, which
is the winter season. They argued and argued but could not convince
each other; for the bear with his long coat did not feel the cold of
winter but when he got soaked through in the rain he felt chilly.
At last they saw a man coming that way and called on him to
decide--"but have a care"--said the tiger--"if you give an opinion
favourable to the bear, I will eat you;" and the bear said "If you
side with the tiger, _I_ will eat you." At this the man was terror
stricken but an idea struck him and he made the tiger and the bear
promise not to eat him if he gave a fair decision and then he said
"It is not the winter which is the coldest, nor the rainy season which
is the coldest, but windy weather; if there is no wind no one feels
the cold much either in the winter or in the rainy season." And the
tiger and the bear said "You are right, we never thought of that"
and they let him go.
To a people living in the jungles the wild animals are much more than
animals are to us. To the man who makes a clearing in the forest,
life is largely a struggle against the beasts of prey and the animals
who graze down the crops. It is but natural that he should credit
them with feelings and intelligence similar to those of human beings,
and that they should seem to him suitable characters around which to
These stories are likely to be particularly current among a people
occupying a forest country, and for this reason are less likely to
appear in collections made among the inhabitants of towns. It is a
strange coincidence and presumably only a coincidence that Story 118,
'The Hyena outwitted' is known in a precisely similar form among the
Kaffirs of South Africa.
CX. The Jackal and the Crow.
Once upon a time a crow and a jackal became bosom friends and they
agreed that the crow should support the jackal in the hot weather
and the jackal support the crow in the rainy season. By-and-bye the
jackal got discontented with the arrangement, and vowed that it would
not go on supporting an animal of another species, but would take
some opportunity of eating it up. But he did not let this appear,
and one day he invited the crow to a feast and gave him as many frogs
and grasshoppers as he could eat and treated him well and they parted
Then a few days later the crow invited the jackal to dinner in
return; and when the jackal arrived the crow led him to an ant-hill
and showed him a hollow gourd which he had filled with live mice and
said "Here is your dinner." The jackal could not get his nose into
the hole of the gourd so, to get at the mice, he had to break it. And
the mice ran all over the place and the jackal jumped about here and
there trying to catch them. At this sight the crow stood and laughed;
and the jackal said to himself "Very well, my friend, you invited me
here to have a laugh at me; wait till I have finished with the mice;
then it will be your turn."
So when he had caught all the mice he could, he declared that he
had had as much as he could eat and would like to go and sleep off
his meal. As they said farewell and were salaaming to each other,
the jackal pounced on the crow and ate him up; not a bone or a claw
was left. Then the jackal began to skip with joy and sang:--
"I ate a gourdful of mice
And by the side of the ant-hill
I ate the crow: Hurrah!"
And singing thus he went skipping homewards; and on the way he
met a fowl and called to it to get out of the way or he would eat
"I ate a gourdful of mice
And by the side of the ant-hill
I ate the crow:--Hurrah!"
And as the fowl did not move he ate it up; then he skipped on and
came to a goat and he sang his verse and told it to get out of the
way and as it did not, he ate it; and in the same way he met and
killed a sheep and a cow and he ate the liver and lungs of the cow;
and then he killed a buffalo and ate its liver and lungs; and by this
time he was as full as he could hold. Then he came to a pool of water
and he called to it to get out of the way or he would drink it up and
as it did not move, he drank it dry. Then he came to a post and said
"Get out of my way or I will jump over you"--
"I ate a gourdful of mice
And by the side of the ant-hill
I ate the crow--Hurrah!"
And so saying he tried to jump over it; but he was so full of what
he had eaten and drunk that he leaped short and fell on the point of
the stake and was transfixed, so that he died.
CXI. The Tiger Cub and the Calf.
A Tigress and a Cow used to graze in a dense jungle, and they were
both with young. They became great friends and agreed that they
would marry their children to each other. In the course of time the
tigress gave birth to a she-cub and the cow to a bull-calf. They kept
the young ones in the same place and used to go and graze together,
and then return at the same time to suckle their young. On their way
back they used to drink at a certain river, the tigress up the stream
and the cow lower down. One day it happened that the cow got first
to the river and drank at the upper drinking place, and the tigress
drank lower down. And the froth from the cow's mouth floated down the
stream and the tigress tasted it and found it nice, and this made her
think that the flesh of the cow must also be good; so she resolved to
eat the cow one day. The cow saw what was in the mind of the tigress
and she left some of her milk in a bowl, and said to her calf:
"The tigress has resolved to eat me; watch this milk and when you
see it turn red like blood, you will know that I have been killed;"
then she went off to graze with the tigress.
The two youngsters always used to play together very happily but
that day the calf would not play but kept going to look at the bowl
of milk; and the tigress cub asked the reason. The calf told her
what his mother had said; then the tigress cub said that if this
happened she would never suck from her mother again and it would
be better for them both to run away. So the two kept going to look
at the bowl of milk, and about midday they saw that it had changed
to blood and they both began to weep. Shortly after, the tigress
came back, and flies were clustered round her mouth because of the
blood on it. The tigress told her daughter to come and suck, but she
said that she would wait till the cow came and then she and the calf
could have their meal together as usual; at this the tigress frowned
terribly and the cub was frightened, so she said, "Very well, mother,
I will suck, but first go and wash your mouth; why are the flies
clustered round it?" So the tigress went off but she did not wash,
she only ate some more of the cow. While she was away, the calf and
the cub ran off to another jungle, and when the tigress came back,
she searched for them with horrid roarings and could not find them,
and if she had found them she would have killed them.
CXII. The Jackal and the Chickens.
Once upon a time a jackal and a hen were great friends and regarded
each other as brother and sister; and they agreed to have a feast to
celebrate their friendship; so they both brewed rice beer and they
first drank at the jackal's house and then went to the hen's house;
and there they drank so much that the hen got blind drunk, and while
she lay intoxicated the jackal ate her up. The jackal found the flesh
so nice that he made up his mind to eat the hen's chickens too; so
the next day he went to their house and found them all crying "Cheep,
cheep," and he asked what was the matter; they said that they had lost
their mother; he told them to cheer up and asked where they slept;
they told him 'on the shelf in the wall'.
Then he went away; but the chickens saw that he meant to come and eat
them at night, so they did not go to sleep on the shelf but filled
it with razors and knives and when the jackal came at night and felt
about the shelf he got badly cut and ran away screaming.
But a few day later he paid another visit to the chickens, and condoled
with them on the loss of their mother and again asked where they slept,
and they told him, 'in the fireplace.' Directly the jackal was gone,
they filled the stove with live embers and covered them up with ashes;
and went to sleep themselves inside a drum. At night the jackal
came and put his paws into the fireplace; but he only scraped the
hot embers up against his belly and got burnt; this made him scream
and the chickens burst out laughing. The jackal heard them and said
"You have got me burnt; now I am going to eat you." They said, "Yes,
uncle, but please eat us outside the house; you did not eat our mother
in her own house; take us to yonder flat rock."
So the jackal took up the drum but when he got to the rock he
accidentally let it fall and it broke and the chickens ran away in
all directions; but the chicken that had been at the bottom of the
drum had got covered with the droppings of the others and could not
fly away; so the jackal thought "Well it is the will of heaven that
I should have only one chicken; it is doubtless for the best!" The
chicken said to the jackal, "I see that you will eat me, but you
cannot eat me in this state; wash me clean first."
So the jackal took the chicken to a pool and washed it; then the
chicken asked to be allowed to get a little dry; but the jackal said
that if it got dry it would fly away. "Then," said the chicken, "rub
me dry with your snout and I will myself tell you when I am ready to
be eaten;" so the jackal rubbed it dry and then proceeded to eat it;
but directly the jackal got it in his mouth it voided there, so the
jackal spat it out and it flew away.
The jackal thought that it had gone into a hole in a white ant-hill,
but really it had hidden elsewhere; however the jackal felt for it
in the hole and then tried in vain to scrape the hole larger; as he
could not get into the hole he determined to sit and wait till hunger
or suffocation forced the chicken to come out. So he sat and watched,
and he sat so long that the white ants ate off his hind quarters;
at last he gave up and went off to the rice fields to look for fish
and crabs. There he saw an old woman catching fish, and he asked
to be allowed to help her. So the old woman sat on the bank and the
jackal jumped and twisted about in the water and presently he caught
a _potha_ fish which he ate; but as the jackal had no hind quarters
the fish passed through him none the worse. Soon the jackal caught the
same fish over again, and he laughed at the old woman because she had
caught none. She told him that he was catching the same fish over and
over again, and when he would not believe her she told him to mark with
a thorn the next one which he caught; he did so and then found that
he really was catching and eating the same fish over and over again.
At this he was much upset and asked what he should do. The old woman
advised him to go to a cobbler and get patched up; so he went and
killed a fowl and took it to a cobbler and offered it to him if he
would put him to rights; so the cobbler sewed on a leather patch
with a long leather tail which rapped on the ground as the jackal
went along. Then the jackal went to a village to steal fowls and he
danced along with his tail tapping, and sang:
"Now the Moghul cavalry are coming
And the Koenda Rajas.
Run away or they will utterly destroy you."
And when the villagers heard this they all ran away and the jackal
entered the village and killed as many fowls as he wanted.
A few days later he went again to the village and frightened away the
villagers as before; but one old woman was too feeble to run away and
she hid in a pig sty, and one fowl that the jackal chased, ran into
this sty and the jackal followed it, and when he saw the old woman,
he told her to catch the fowl for him or he would knock her teeth out;
but she told him to catch it himself; so he caught and ate it. Then
he said to the old woman. Say "Toyo" (jackal) and she said "Toyo;"
then he took a currypounder and knocked all her teeth out and told
her again to say "Toyo;" but as she had no teeth she said "Hoyo;"
this amused the jackal immensely and he went away laughing.
When the villagers returned, the old woman told them that it was only
a jackal who had attacked the village, so they decided to kill him;
but one man said "You won't be able to catch him; let us make an image
of this old woman and cover it with birdlime and set it up at the end
of the village street; he will stop and abuse her, and we shall know
where he is." So they did this, and the next morning, when the jackal
came singing along the road, they hid inside their houses. When the
jackal reached the village, he saw the figure of the old woman with
its arms stretched out, and he said to it, "What are you blocking
my road for? get out of the way; I knocked your teeth out yesterday:
arn't you afraid? Get out of the way or I will kick you out."
As the figure did not move he gave it a kick and his leg was caught
in the birdlime; then he said, "Let me go, you old hag, or I will
give you a slap." Then he gave it a slap and his front paw was stuck
fast; then he slapped at it with his other paw and that stuck; then
he tried to bite the figure and his jaws got caught also; and when
he was thus helpless the villagers came out and beat him to death
and that was the end of the jackal.
CXIII. The Jackal Punished.
Once a hen and a jackal were great friends, and they decided to
have a feast and each brewed beer for the occasion; the hen brewed
with rice, and maize and millet and the jackal brewed with lizards,
locusts, frogs and fish. And when the brew was ready, they first
went to the jackal's house, but the hen could not touch his beer,
it smelt so bad and the jackal drank it all; then they went to the
hen's house and her beer was very nice and they both drank till the
hen got very drunk and began to stagger about; and the jackal made
up his mind that the hen must be very nice to eat, as her beer was
so good to drink and when he saw her drunk he was delighted and sang:
"Fowl, do not graze in the field!
The jackal laughs to see you.
Paddy bird, do not fish in the pond!
You pecked a piece of sedge thinking it was a frog's leg!
Do not drink rice beer, O fowl!
The jackal laughs to see you.
And so saying he gobbled her up; and her chickens cried at the
sight. Then the jackal resolved to eat the chickens also, so he came
back the next day, and asked them where they slept and they said
"In the hearth." But when the jackal had gone, the chickens planned
how they should save their lives.
Their mother had laid an egg and as there was no one to hatch it now,
they said, "Egg, you must lie in the fireplace and blind the jackal;"
and they said to the paddy husker, "You must stand by the door and
when the jackal runs out you must knock him down;" and they told the
paddy mortar to wait on the roof over the door and fall and crush
the jackal. So they put the egg among the hot ashes in the fireplace
and they themselves sat in a cupboard with axes ready; and when the
jackal came he went to the fireplace and scratched out the ashes;
and the egg burst and spirted into his eyes and blinded him and as
he ran out of the door the paddy husker knocked him over; and as he
crawled away the paddy mortar fell on him from the roof and crushed
him; then the chickens ran out and chopped him to pieces with their
axes and revenged the death of their mother.
CXIV. The Tigers and the Cat.
In former days tigers and cats were friends and used to hunt together
and share the game they caught; and they did not eat the game raw
but used to cook it as men do.
One day some tigers and a cat had killed a deer and they had no fire
with which to cook it; then the tigers said to the cat "You are small,
go and beg a light from yonder village." But the cat said that he was
afraid to go; however they urged him saying "You have a thin tail and
plump feet; you can bring it in a trice." So, as they all insisted on
his going, he at last consented; and said "Well, I will go; but don't
expect me to be very quick; if I get a good opportunity for fetching
the fire, I will come back soon." They said "All right, go and run
off with a small fire-brand and we will meet you outside the village."
So the cat went off and coming to a house, went inside to pull a
firebrand from the hearth. On the fire some milk was boiling; and
the cat thought "This smells very nice, I will have a taste of it"
and he found it so nice that he made up his mind to drink it all,
before he took away the fire-brand. But in order to lap the milk
he had to put his feet on the fireplace, and it was so hot that he
burnt his feet and had to get down; so then he sat down and waited
till the fire went out and the hearth grew cool, and then he lapped
up the milk and ran off with a piece of smouldering wood.
Meanwhile the tigers had got tired of waiting and had eaten the deer
raw; and they were very angry at being made to eat raw flesh and swore
that they would eat the cat too. When they saw the cat bringing the
fire they ran to meet him and abused him and cried out "You have made
us eat raw flesh; we will eat you too, dung and all" On hearing this
threat the cat ran back to the village in fear of his life; and the
tigers followed in pursuit; but when they got near the village, the
village dogs all ran out barking and the tigers were frightened and
turned back and the cat was saved. From that day tigers and leopards
have eaten raw flesh; and cats bury their excrement, because of what
the tigers had said.
Every day the tigers went to the village in search of the cat; but when
the dogs barked they slunk away; for the tigers were very frightened
at the sight of the dogs' curly tails; they thought that the tails
were nooses and that they would be strangled by them. One day one
of the tigers met a jackal and called to him "Nephew, listen to me;
a cat made us eat raw flesh and has escaped into this village and I
want to catch it, but the dogs come barking at me. I don't mind that,
but I am very frightened of their nooses. Now, you are very like a
dog, cannot you go and tell them not to use their nooses." The jackal
answered, "Uncle, you are quite mistaken; what you see are their tails,
not nooses; they will not strangle you with them." So the tiger took
courage and the next day went to the village to hunt for the cat,
but he could not find it. And when the dogs barked he got angry and
caught and killed one of them; and from that time tigers and leopards
CXV. The Elephant and the Ants.
In the days of old there was a great deal more jungle than there is
now, and wild elephants were very numerous; once upon a time a red ant
and a black ant were burrowing in the ground, when a wild elephant
appeared and said "Why are you burrowing here; I will trample all
your work to pieces;" the ants answered "Why do you talk like this;
do not despise us because we are small; perhaps we are better than
you in some ways;" The elephant said "Do not talk nonsense: there is
nothing at which you could beat me; I am in all ways the largest and
most powerful animal on the face of the earth." Then the ants said
"Well, let us run a race and see who will win, unless you win we
will not admit that you are supreme." At this the elephant got into
a rage and shouted; "Well, come we will start at once," and it set
off to run with all its might and when it got tired it looked down
at the ground and there were two ants. So it started off again and
when it stopped and looked down, there on the ground were two ants;
so it ran on again, but wherever it stopped it saw the ants, and at
last it ran so far that it dropped down dead from exhaustion.
Now it is a saying that ants are more numerous in this world than
any other kind of living creature; and what happened was that the
two ants never ran at all, but stayed where they were; but whenever
the elephant looked at the ground, it saw some ants running about
and thought that they were the first two, and so ran itself to death.
This story teaches us not to despise the poor man, because one day
he may have an opportunity to put us to shame.
From this story of the elephant we should learn this lesson; the
Creator knows why He made some animals big and some small and why
He made some men fools; so we should neither bully nor cheat men who
happen to be born stupid.
CXVI. A Fox and His Wife.
Once upon a time there were a fox and his wife who lived in a hole with
their five little ones. Every evening the two foxes used to make their
way to a bazar to feed on the scraps thrown away by the bazar people;
and every night on their way home the following conversation passed
between them. The fox would say to his wife, "Come tell me how much
wit you have," and she would answer him by, "Only so much as would
fill a small vegetable basket." Then she in her turn would ask "And
how much wit have you?" "As much as would load twelve buffaloes."
One night as they were on their way home as usual, the two suddenly
found themselves face to face with a tiger, who greeted them by saying
"At last my friends, I have got you."
At this the fox for all his wit, could not utter a word but crouched
down and shook with fright. Mrs Fox however was not at all inclined
to give way to despair. She saluted the tiger and said "Ah, uncle,
do not eat us up just now; I and my husband have a dispute and we want
you to settle it for us." The tiger was mollified by being addressed by
so respectful a name as uncle, and answered in a gentler voice "Well,
my niece, tell me what is the point and I will decide it for you."
"It is this," went on Mrs. Fox, "we have five children and we wish
to divide them between us but we cannot decide how to do so; I say
that I will take three and leave him two; while he wants to take
three and leave me two. We came out to look for some man to settle
the dispute but have not met one: and now providentially you have
appeared before us like a god; no doubt you will be able to make the
division for us." The tiger reflected that if he managed things well,
he would be able to eat not only the two foxes but their young ones
as well, so he graciously agreed to make the division.
The foxes then invited him to come back with them to the hole in which
they lived, and when they reached it, Mr. Fox bolted into it saying
that he was going to bring out the children. As however he did not come
out again, Mrs. Fox said that it was clear that he could not manage the
children by himself, and she would go and help; and thereupon proceeded
to back into the hole, keeping her face turned towards the tiger.
Seeing her disappearing the tiger thought to seize her, but as she kept
her eyes on him he could only say "Hullo, what is the matter? Why are
you going in backwards?" "Oh, uncle," replied Mrs. Fox, "how could
I turn my back on so great a personage as you?" and with that she
disappeared. Presently the tiger heard the two foxes calling out from
inside "Goodbye, uncle, you can go away now; we have arranged how to
divide the children ourselves." Then he saw how he had been fooled
and flew into a terrible rage and tried to squeeze his way into the
hole; but it was much too small and at last he had to go away baffled:
and so the foxes were saved by Mrs. Fox's wit.
CXVII. The Jackal and the Crocodiles.
Once upon a time there was a Raja who had an only son. As the boy grew
up his father sent him to a school to learn to read and write. One
day on his way back from school, the boy sat down by the road side to
rest, and placed his school books on the ground by his side. Suddenly
a jackal came along and snatched up the bundle of books and ran away
with it; and though the boy ran after it, he failed to catch the jackal
and had to go and tell his father how he had lost his school books. The
Raja told him not to mind, as it was a very good omen and meant that
he would grow up as clever as a jackal; and so the matter ended as far
as the boy was concerned; and his father bought him a new set of books.
But the jackal ran off to the side of a tank and taking a book from
the bundle sat down and began to read it aloud. He kept on saying over
and over again "Ibor, obor, iakoro sotro" "Ibor obor iakoro sotro."
Hearing the noise a crocodile who lived in the tank poked his head
out of the water and began "Well, nephew, what is that you are
repeating?" "I am only reading a book, uncle."
"What, nephew, do you know how to read and write?"
"Yes, certainly I do," answered the jackal.
"In that case," returned the crocodile "would you mind teaching my
five children?" The jackal was quite willing to be their master, but
a difficulty struck the crocodile; the jackal lived on high land, and
the little crocodiles could not go so far from the water. The jackal
at once suggested a way out of the difficulty: "Let the crocodile
dig a little pool near where the jackal lived and put the children
into it. Then the jackal could take the little crocodiles out of it
when he was giving them their lessons and put them back again when
they had finished." So it was arranged, and in two or three days the
crocodile dug the pool and the jackal began the lessons.
Each morning the jackal took the five little crocodiles out of the
water and told them to repeat after him what he said, and then he began
"Ibor obor iakoro sotro" "Ibor obor iakoro sotro." But try as they
might the little crocodiles could not pronounce the words properly;
then the jackal lost his temper and cuffed them soundly. In spite of
this they still showed no signs of improvement, till at last the jackal
made up his mind that he could not go on with such unsatisfactory
pupils, and that the best thing he could do would be to eat them up
one at a time. So the next morning he addressed the little crocodiles,
"I see that you can't learn, when I take you in class all together: in
future I will have you up one at a time and teach you like that." So
he took one out of the water and began to teach it; but the little
crocodile could not pronounce its words properly, so in a very short
time the jackal got angry and gobbled it up. The next day he took out
another, which soon met the same fate as its brother; and so things
went on till the jackal had eaten four out of the five.
When there was only one left, the crocodile came to see how the lessons
were getting on. The sight of him put the jackal in a terrible fright;
but he answered the crocodile that the children were making very fair
progress. "Well, I want to see them. Come along and let us have a
look at them."
This was awkward for the jackal, but his wits did not desert him;
he ran on ahead to the pool and going into the water, caught the one
little crocodile which remained, and held it up, saying "See here is
one." Then he popped it under the water and brought it up again and
said "See, here's another" and this he did five times and persuaded
the crocodile that he had seen his five children.
The crocodile pretended to be satisfied but he was not quite easy in
his mind and would have preferred to see all the five little ones
at once. However, he said nothing, but made up his mind to watch
the jackal; so the next day he hid himself and waited to see what
happened. He saw the jackal take the little crocodile out of the water
and begin the lesson--"Ibor obor iakoro." Then when the unfortunate
pupil still failed to pronounce the words, the jackal began to give
it cuffs and blows. At this sight the crocodile ran forward and
caught the jackal, crying out "Show me my other four little ones;
is this the way you treat my children?" The jackal had no answer to
give and the crocodile soon put an end to his life and took back his
one remaining child to the tank where he lived.
CXVIII. The Bullfrog and the Crab.
There was a Raja who had no head and there was a Tiger who had no
tail. One day they met in a nullah. "Here's a fine dinner for me"
said the Tiger. "Here's a fine dinner for me!" said the Raja. At
this retort the Tiger's courage oozed away; and he did not dare to go
any nearer; but he called out "Well, if I am to be your dinner, come
and catch me:" and the Raja called out "If I am to be your dinner,
come and catch me." So they stood challenging each other, but neither
took a step forward. Then the Tiger became abusive and called out,
"What have you done with your head?" the Raja retorted "What is a tiger
without a tail? You also are short of a member. I may have no head
but I have more legs than you." The Tiger could think of no retort
to make to this and so said "Come, don't let us quarrel any more;
let us be friends; I live near here, where do you live?"
"My home is also near here."
"Then we are neighbours: there is no reason why we should be enemies."
"Who knows what you are at?" answered the Raja: "for you are
pretending that you cannot see aright, but it is quite true that we
are neighbours." "You are right," said the other, "I admit that I
did wrong, and I bow down before you." So they saluted each other and
the Tiger said "Let's have a song to show what good friends we are:
and he sang (to the rice planting tune):
"The Frog King and the Frog Queen
Sat at their front door.
The Frog King's marriage is going on:
Look, my master!
The Frog King and the Frog Queen!
The Frog King's marriage is going on."
CXIX. The Hyaena Outwitted.
Once upon a time there was a great tiger who lived in a forest;
and all the other animals that lived in the forest treated him as
their Raja, down to the very birds. They all felt safe under his
protection, because he was so much feared that no men dared hunt in
that forest. One day it happened that this Raja tiger killed a man
and made such a enormous meal on the flesh, that he got very bad
indigestion. The pain grew worse and worse, till he felt sure that
his last hour was come.
In his agony he sent for a hyaena and offered to make him his _dewan_,
if only he would call all the other animals of the forest to come
and pay a farewell visit to their lord. The hyaena readily agreed
but thought it would be better to send another messenger, while
he stayed by the tiger to see that all the animals duly presented
themselves. Just then a crow flew overhead; so they called him and
deputed him to summon all the animals.
The crow flew off and in a short time all the animals assembled before
the tiger and paid their respects to him and expressed wishes for his
speedy recovery;--all except the jackals. They had been summoned along
with the others; but somehow they paid no attention and only remembered
about it in the afternoon. Then they were very frightened as to what
would be the consequence of their remissness; but one chief jackal
stood up and told them not to fear, as he would contrive a way of
getting the better of the hyaena. There was nothing else to be done,
so they had to put what trust they could in their chief and follow
him to the Tiger.
On his way the chief jackal picked up a few roots, and took them with
him. When they reached the place where the suffering monarch lay,
the hyaena at once began to abuse them for being late, and the Tiger
also angrily asked why they had not come before; then the chief jackal
began humbly "O Maharaja, we were duly summoned; your messenger is not
to blame; but we reflected that it was useless merely to go and look at
you when you were so ill: that could do you no good; so we bestirred
ourselves to try and find some medicine that would cure you. We have
searched the length and breadth of the jungle and have found all that
is necessary, except one thing and that we have failed to find." "Tell
me what it is," said the hyaena, "and I will at once despatch all
these animals to look for it and it will surely be found." "Yes,"
echoed the tiger, "what is it?" "Maharaja," said the jackal, "when you
take these medicines, you must lie down on the fresh skin of a hyaena,
which has been flayed alive; but the only hyaena we can find in the
forest is your _dewan_" "The world can well bear the loss of one
hyaena," said the Tiger: "take him and skin him." At these words all
the animals set upon the hyaena and flayed him alive; and the tiger
lay down on the skin and took the medicines brought by the jackal;
and as he was not seriously ill, his pain soon began to pass away.
"That is a lesson to the hyaena not to scold us and get us into
trouble," said the jackal, as he went home.
CXX. The Crow and the Egret.
A crow and a white egret once made their nests in the same tree,
and when the nestlings began to grow up the crow saw how pretty and
white the young egrets were, and thought them much nicer than her
own black young ones. So one day when the egret was away, the crow
changed the nestlings and brought the little white egrets, to her
own nest. When the mother egret returned and found the ugly little
black crows in her own nest, it did not take her long to see what
had happened and she at once taxed the crow with the theft. The crow
denied all knowledge of the matter and a fine quarrel ensued.
Quarrelling led to nothing and they agreed to refer the dispute
to the decision of a money-lender, whose house stood by the tree
in which the two nests were. The crow, as the less shy of the two,
flew down and asked the money-lender to come out and settle their
dispute. The first question the money-lender asked was what they were
going to give him. The egret promised to catch him a fine _rohu_ fish,
which was what she was accustomed to eat, but the crow said that she
would give him a golden necklace. The money-lender said that the fees
must be brought first before he heard the case, so the egret flew off
and caught a big fish, but the crow went to where a Raja was bathing
and carried off the gold chain which the Raja had left on the bank
of the river. The money-lender then gave his decision, which was in
favour of the party who had given him the most valuable present;
he decided that the young birds must stay where they were. "But,"
protested the egret "how have my white nestlings become black?" "That
is quite natural" answered the money-lender, "a white cow may have a
black or brown calf: why should not you have black young ones?" And
so saying he drove them away.
The poor egret was not at all content with this unjust decision,
and was about to renew the quarrel, when a jackal came racing by;
it had just made its escape from some hunters. "Where are you off to
so fast, uncle?" called out the egret. "I am in arrears with my rent
and am hurrying to pay it to the Raja," answered the jackal. "Stay and
listen to my grievance," begged the egret, and she told the jackal all
that had happened and how the money-lender had let himself be bribed
by the gold necklace. The jackal was very indignant, "A man who could
give a decision like that would call a buffalo, a bullock or a pig,
a sheep. It is no decision at all; I cannot stop now, but I will come
back to-morrow and decide the matter for you and before doing so,
I will stuff the mouth of that unjust judge with filth." So saying
the jackal hurried off.
The money-lender heard all that passed and was filled with shame at
having earned the contempt of the jackal; he feared more disgrace on
the morrow, so he at once called the crow and made her return the
egret's nestlings, and the next morning when the jackal came back
it found that everything had been settled to the satisfaction of
CXXI. The Jackal and the Hare.
A jackal and a hare were sworn friends. One day they planned to have
a dinner of rice cooked with milk. So the hare crouched down under a
bush which grew by the side of a road leading to a busy market; and
the jackal stayed watching a little way off. Presently some men came
along, taking rice to sell at the market. When they saw the hare by
the side of the road, they put down their baskets of rice and ran to
catch the hare. He led them a long chase, and then escaped. Meanwhile
the jackal carried off as much of the unguarded rice as he wanted. By
the same trick they got hold of milk, and firewood, and a cooking pot,
and some leaf plates; Thus they had everything necessary for the meal
So the jackal ran off to a village and went to the house of a poor old
woman who was pounding dried plum fruit into meal, and asked her for
a light "Go into the house and take a brand from the fire yourself"
said the old woman: "No" said the jackal "you go and get it; and I
will pound your meal for you, while you are away." So the old woman
went into the house; and while she was away the jackal put filth into
the mortar and covered it up with meal. Then he took away the lighted
brand, and after he had gone the old woman found that all her meal
Then the jackal cooked their rice and milk and when it was ready,
they began to discuss which should first go and bathe, before they
began to eat. At last the jackal went off; he hurried over his bath
and came back as quickly as possible. Then the hare went, and he
spent a long time having a thorough bath. While the hare was away,
the jackal ate as much of the rice as he wanted and then filled the
pot with filth and covered it over with rice. When the hare came
back, they debated which should help the rice. At last they agreed
that the hare should do so; but when the hare had taken out a little
rice he found the pot full of filth. "So it is for this that I took
all the trouble to get the provisions for our meal" cried the hare;
and threw the contents of the pot over the jackal and drove him away.
The jackal went off and made a drum, and every day he sat in the sun
beneath a bank and played the drum. The hare heard the sound and one
day he went to the jackal and asked to be allowed to play the drum. The
jackal handed it over but the hare beat it and shook it so vigorously
that at last it was smashed to pieces. Then the hare ran away.
CXXII. The Brave Jackal.
Once upon a time a he-goat ran away for fear of being slaughtered and
took refuge in a leopard's cave. When the leopard came back to the
cave the goat called out "Hum Pakpak," and the leopard ran away in
a fright. Presently it met a jackal and called out "Ah! my sister's
son, some fearful animal has occupied my house!" "What is it like,
uncle?" asked the jackal "It has a wisp of hemp tied to its chin,"
answered the leopard: "I am not afraid, uncle," boasted the jackal,
"I have eaten many animals like that, bones and all." So they tied
their tails together and went back to the leopard's cave. When the
two drew near the goat stood up: and the leopard said "This morning
he called out something dreadful at me." At this they both fled,
and in their struggles to separate all the hair on the jackal's
tail was scraped off and the jackal called out "Alas, alas! Uncle,
you have scraped off all my skin!"
CXXIII. The Jackal and the Leopards.
Once upon a time a leopard and a leopardess were living with their
cubs; and when the parents were away a jackal used to go to the cubs
and say "If you won't pay up the paddy you owe, give me something on
account." And the cubs gave him all the meat which their parents had
brought; and as this happened every day the cubs began to starve. The
leopard asked why they looked so thin although he brought them lots of
game and the cubs explained that they had to give up all their food to
the jackal from whom he had borrowed paddy. So the leopard lay in wait
and when the jackal came again to beg of the cubs he chased him. The
jackal ran away and hid in a crack in the ground; the leopard tried
to follow and got stuck in the crack and was squeezed to death. The
jackal came out and kicked the dead body, crying "I see you lying in
wait for me."
Now the jackal wore silk shoes and a silk dhoti and he went back to
the leopard's family and asked who would look after them now the
leopard was dead. They said that they would live with him; so the
jackal stayed there and they all went hunting deer. The jackal lay in
wait and the leopards drove the game to him. But when the deer came
out, the jackal was too frightened to attack them and climbed to the
top of an ant-hill to be out of the way. So when the leopards came
up they found that the jackal had killed nothing. But the jackal only
complained that they had not driven the deer in the right direction. So
the next day the leopardess lay in wait and the jackal and the cubs
beat the jungle; when they came up they found that the leopardess
had killed a fine deer. "Now," said the jackal "let me first offer
the game as a sacrifice to the spirit of our dead leopard;" so saying
he tried to bite a hole in the deer but the skin was too tough. So
he made the leopardess tear the skin and then he pushed inside the
carcase and ate up all the entrails. When he had had as much as he
could eat he came out and let the leopards begin their meal.
Another day they wished to cross a flooded river. The young leopards
offered to carry the jackal over on their shoulders but the jackal was
too proud to allow this. So the leopards all jumped across the stream
safely but when the jackal tried he fell into the middle of the water
and was carried away down stream. Lower down a crocodile was lying on
the bank sunning itself "Pull me out, pull me out!" called the jackal
"and I will bring you some fat venison." So the crocodile pulled him
out. "Now open your mouth and shut your eyes" said the jackal and when
the crocodile obeyed he popped a large stone into its jaws and ran
away. This made the crocodile very angry and it vowed to be revenged.
The jackal used to go every day to a certain tank to drink: and to
reach the water he used to sit on the root of an _arjun_ tree which
projected from the bank. The crocodile observed this habit and one
day lay in wait under the water by the _arjun_ tree and when the
jackal came to drink caught him by the leg. The jackal did not lose
his presence of mind but called out "What a fool of a crocodile to
catch hold of the root of the tree instead of my leg." On hearing
this the crocodile let go its hold and the jackal laughed and ran away.
Every day the jackal used to lie in the sun on the top of a stack of
straw. The crocodile found this out and buried itself in the straw
and waited for the jackal. That day it happened that the jackal found
a sheep-bell and tied it round his neck so that it tinkled as he
ran. When it heard the bell the crocodile said "What a bother! I am
waiting for the jackal and here comes a sheep tinkling its bell." The
jackal heard the crocodile's exclamation and so detected the trick;
he at once went and fetched a light and set fire to the heap of straw
and the crocodile was burnt to death.
CXXIV. The Fool and His Dinner.
A man once went to visit his mother-in-law and for dinner they gave
him rice with a relish made of young bamboo shoots. The man liked it
extremely and thought that it was meat, but he saw no pieces of meat;
so he asked his mother-in-law what it was made of; and behind him was
a door made of bamboos: so the mother-in-law said, "I have cooked
that which is behind you;" and he looked round and saw the door;
so he resolved to carry off the door, as it made such good eating,
and in the middle of the night he took it off the hinges and ran away
with it. In the morning the door was missed and the mother-in-law
guessed what had happened and had a hearty laugh.
Meanwhile the man went home with the door and chopped it up and gave
the pieces to his wife to cook; the wife said that it was useless
to cook dry chips but he insisted and said that her mother had made
a beautiful dish of them. So they were cooked and the man sat down
to eat; but they were all hard and tasteless; then he scolded his
wife and she told him to cook them himself if he was not pleased;
so he cooked some himself and the result was the same; and his wife
laughed at him and when the villagers heard of it they nicknamed him
"Silly", and used to call the name after him when they met him.
CXXV. The Stingy Daughter.
Once a man went to visit his married daughter: he intended to arrive
in time for dinner; so though he passed some edible herbs on the way
he did not stop to eat them.
When he arrived he was duly welcomed and after some conversation he
told his daughter that he must return the same day; she said "All
right, but wait till it gets hot." (The father understood this to be
a metaphorical way of saying "Wait till the dinner is cooked.") But
the daughter was determined not to cook the rice while her father was
there: so they sat talking and when the sun was high the daughter
went into the yard and felt the ground with her foot and finding
it scorching she said "Now father, it is time for you to be going:
it has got hot" Then the old man understood that she was not going
to give him his dinner. So he took his stick and got up to go.
Now the son-in-law was a great hunter and that day he had killed
and brought home a peacock; as he was leaving, the father said "My
daughter, if your husband ever brings home a peacock I advise you
to cook it with mowah oil cake; that makes it taste very nice." So
directly her father had gone, the woman set to work and cooked
the peacock with mowah oil cake; but when her husband and children
began to eat it they found it horribly bitter and she herself tasted
it and found it uneatable; then she told them that her father had
made fun of her and made her spoil all the meat. Her husband asked
whether she had cooked rice for her father; and when she said "No"
he said that this was the way in which he had punished her; he had
had nothing to eat and so he had prevented their having any either;
she should entertain all visitors and especially her father. So they
threw away the meat and had no dinner.
CXXVI. The Backwards and Forwards Dance.
There was once a Santal who owed money to a money-lender: the lender
went to dun him every day but as he had nothing to pay with he used
to hide in the jungle and as he had no warm clothes he used to light a
fire to warm himself by; and when the fire was low he would sit near it
and when it blazed up he would move back from it. When the money-lender
asked the man's wife where he was, she always replied "He is dancing
the 'Backwards and Forwards' dance." The money-lender got curious
about this; and said that he would like to learn the dance. So one
evening the Santal met him and offered to teach him the dance but,
he said he must be paid and what would the money-lender give? The
money-lender said that he would give any thing that was asked; so the
Santal called two witnesses and before them the money-lender promised
that if the Santal taught him the dance he would let him off his debt.
The next morning the Santal took the money-lender to the jungle and
told him to take off his clothes as they would dance with only loin
cloths on; then he lit a heap of straw and they sat by it warming
themselves; and he purposely made only a small fire at first. Then
the money-lender asked when they were going to begin to dance but the
Santal said "Let us warm ourselves first, I am very cold," so saying he
piled on more straw and as the fire blazed up they moved away from it;
and when it sank they drew nearer again. While this was going on the
two witnesses came up and the money-lender began to object that he was
not being taught to dance; but the Santal said, "What more do you want;
don't you keep moving backwards and forwards in front of the fire? This
is the 'Backwards and Forwards' dance." Seeing how he had been tricked
the money-lender was much upset and he appealed to the witnesses, but
they decided against him; and he went home crying and lost his money.
CXXVII. The Deaf Family.
Formerly Santals were very stupid and much afraid of Hindus; and once
a Santal was ploughing at a place where two roads met and a Hindu
came along and asked him, in Hindi, where the two roads went to; now
the Santal did not understand Hindi and was also deaf and he thought
that the Hindu said "These two bullocks are mine,"--and he answered
"When did I take your bullocks?" The Hindu sat down and repeated his
question; but the Santal did not understand and continued to assert
that the bullocks were his and were named Rice eater and Jaituk 
and had formed part of his wife's dowry; the Hindu kept on asking
about the roads and at last the Santal got frightened and thought
"perhaps my father-in-law took the bullocks from this man and at
any rate he will beat me and take them by force"; so he unyoked his
bullocks and handed them over to the stranger; and the Hindu when he
found out what was meant went off with them as fast as he could.
Soon after the Santal's mother brought him out his dinner and he
told her what had happened about the bullocks! And she also was deaf
and thought that he was complaining that the rice had no salt in
it; so she answered, "Your wife gave it to me like this; I cannot
say whether she put salt into it; come, eat it up." After he had
eaten his dinner the old woman took the dishes home; and she found
her husband cutting out a rice pounder; and she told him how their
son had scolded her because there was no salt in the rice; and the
husband was also deaf and he thought that she wanted to know what
he was making and he answered crossly "It may be a rice pounder and
it may be a rice mortar." And as often as she repeated her story he
made this answer and told her not to worry him. Then she went to her
daughter-in-law who was also deaf and sat spinning in the verandah;
and she scolded her for not putting salt in the rice; and she answered
"Who knows what I am spinning; the thread may be all knotty, but
still I reel it up." And this is the end of the story. Thus the man
lost his bullocks through cross questions and crooked answers; and
as the whole family talked like that they soon became poor.
CXXVIII. The Father-in-Law's Visit.
A man once went to visit his married daughter in the month of October
and he went round the fields with his son-in-law to see how his crop
was growing. At each rice field they came to, the father-in-law said
"You have not dammed up the outlets" and the son-in-law said "Yes,
I have; the water is standing in the fields all right," and could not
understand what the old man meant. The next day they both set off to
visit some friends at a distance; and the son-in-law carried his shoes
in his hand except when they came to a river when he always put them
on; and when they were going along in the sun he carried his umbrella
under his arm, but when they came to any shady trees he put it up;
and he did the same on the way back. The old man was very astounded
at this but made no remark. On reaching the house however he told his
daughter that he was sorry that her husband was a mad man and told
her what had happened. His daughter said, "No, father, he is not mad:
he has a very good reason; he does not wear his shoes on dry ground
because he can see where he is going; but in a river you cannot see
what is under-foot; there may be sharp stones or thorns and so he
puts on his shoes then; and he puts up his umbrella under trees lest
falling branches should hit him or the droppings of birds fall on him,
but in the open he can see that there is nothing to hurt him."
Her father admitted that these were good reasons and he had been
foolish not to understand them; he then took his leave.
And in the following January he visited them again; and when he saw
their stock of rice he asked how much they had, and the son-in-law
said that there was only what he saw. "But," said the old man, "When
I saw your fields you had a very fine crop coming on." "The crop was
good," answered the son-in-law "but I owed rice to the money-lender
and I have had to pay that back and I have had to pay my rent and
this is all that I have left." "Ah!" said the father-in-law, "when
I saw your fields I told you that you had not dammed up the outlets;
by outlets I meant these drains; as water flows away through an outlet
so has your wealth flowed away to money-lenders and landlords; is not
this so?" And the son-in-law admitted that he was right and that his
words had had a meaning.
CXXIX. Ramai and Somai.
Once two poor men named Ramai and Somai came to a village and took
some waste land from the headman, and ploughed it and sowed millet;
and their plough was only drawn by cows and their ploughshare was
very small, what is called a "stumpy share;" and when they had sowed
a little the rains came on; and Somai gave up cultivation and took
to fishing and for a time he made very good profits by catching and
selling fish; and he did not trouble even to reap the millet he had
sown; he laughed at Ramai who was toiling away clearing more land
and sowing maize and rice. He used to go and look at him and tell
him that he would never get a crop while he had nothing better than a
"stumpy" plough; it would probably break to pieces one day and then he
would be helpless; he had much better take to fishing which gave quick
and easy returns. Ramai made no answer, but when the rains were over
there was no more fishing to be done; and Somai was left to starve
and had to go from village to village begging. But Ramai reaped his
millet and lived on that till his maize was ripe and then his maize
supported him until his rice was ripe and he always had plenty to eat;
and to show his despite for Somai, after he had had a good dinner,
he would come out in front of his house and call out "What of the
stumpy share now?" Every day after eating he would come out and say
"At first I worked hard and suffered hunger but now I am eating in
happiness; and you were happy then but now you are starving."
CXXX. The Two Brothers.
There were once two brothers who were constantly quarrelling and
one afternoon after a heated quarrel the younger brother asked the
villagers to come and judge between them. The villagers agreed to meet
the next morning. At cockcrow the next day the elder brother went to
the other's house and woke him up and said "Brother, this is a bad
business; you have called in the villagers and they will certainly
fine us both for quarrelling; it would be much better for us to save
the money and spend it on a pig; then we and our families could have
a feast." "I quite agree," said the younger brother, "but now I have
summoned the villagers, what can be done? If I merely tell them to
go away, they will never come again when I summon them."
The elder brother said, "I have a plan; when they come they will ask
how the quarrel began and what abusive words I used; and then you
must tell them that that is a point which they have to decide; and
then they will be able to do nothing and will go away." The younger
brother agreed to this and when the villagers came and asked what the
quarrel was about he said, "Don't you know what the quarrel was? That
was the very matter I wanted you to decide; if you don't know, how
can you judge about it?" And this answer he repeated to all their
questioning; then they got angry and said that he was mocking them;
and they declined to give any decision, but said that the brothers
must give them dinner as they had detained them so long; but the
brothers flatly declined to do so as no decision had been given,
and the villagers went away grumbling, while the brothers bought a
pig with the money they had saved and had a jolly feast and as they
ate the elder brother said: "See what a good plan mine was; but for
it we should now have been feasting others at our expense."
CXXXI. The Three Fools.
Once upon a time three men were sitting at the foot of a tamarind
tree and a stranger came up to them with a bunch of plantains on his
shoulder and he put the plantains on the ground in front of them and
bowed and went away. Thereupon the three men began to quarrel as to
who was to have the plantains; each said that they were his because
it was to him that the man had bowed. So they started calling each
other "Fool" and after quarrelling for some time one said "Well, yes,
I admit that I am a great fool" and the other two asked why he thought
himself a fool and he said "Well one day my wife went to the jungle
with the other village women to get firewood and left our baby in my
charge; as she was a long time coming back the child became hungry
and began to cry; I walked him about but he would not stop crying;
I tried to feed him with rice and with rice water and with _Gur_
and with cow's milk but he would not eat or stop crying; I was in
despair when his mother came back and took him up and gave him the
breast and the child was quiet at once.
Seeing this I said to my wife "Human milk must be sweeter than
anything else." My wife said "Who can say whether it is nice; we
all drink it when we are infants; but when we grow up we cannot say
what it is like." Then I said that I would try what it was like and I
sucked her breast and found that it was much sweeter than cow's milk;
after that I formed the habit and used to drink her milk every day;
and as I left none for the child it died soon afterwards of starvation;
this shows what a fool I am."
Then one of the other men said "But I am a bigger fool than you." And
they asked him in what way; and he said "I was married and was very
much in love with my wife; once when she had gone on a visit to her
father's I went to fetch her home; and she was got up in all her
finery, with her hair well dressed and vermilion on her forehead
and red _arta_ on her feet. On our way home it began to rain and we
took shelter in a village; and when the shower was over we went on;
and we came to a river which was in flood from the rain; the water
was up to a man's armpits and I decided to carry my wife across so
that the _arta_ on her feet might not get washed off. So I took her
on my shoulder and to prevent her feet getting wet I held her feet
uppermost and as her head was under water when I got across I found
that she had been drowned; and if I had not been such a fool she
would not have been killed."
Then the third man said "And I also am a fool. I had quarrelled with
my own family so I lived with my wife in a house alone at the end of
the village and we had no children. Now I was very fond of smoking;
and one night I wanted a light for my hookah but there was none in the
house; so I started to go and ask for a light from some neighbour;
but as it was very dark I did not like to leave my wife all alone:
nor did I like to send her out alone to ask for the light; so at last
I took my hookah in my hand and set my wife astride on my shoulder
and went round from house to house like that, asking for a light;
and all the villagers laughed like anything; so I am a fool." Then
they agreed that they were all three fools and had better divide the
plantains equally among them and go home; and that is what they did.
CXXXII. The Cure for Laziness.
There was once a man who lived happily with his wife, but she was very
lazy; when work in the fields was at its height she would pretend
to be ill. In June and July, she would begin to moan as if in pain,
and when every one else had gone off to work she would eat any rice
that they had left over; or if there were none, would cook some for
herself; Her father-in-law decided to call in some _ojhas_ to examine
her and if they could not cure her, then to send her back to her
father: so he called in two _ojhas_ and told them to do their best,
as he did not want the woman's relations to complain that she had
not been properly treated.
So the first _ojha_ felt her pulse and smiled and said nothing, and
the second _ojha_ felt her pulse and smiled and said nothing, and
when the father-in-law asked them if they knew what was the matter,
they answered that the illness was very serious and medicines must be
applied; the father-in-law said "Yes; but you must get the medicines
or tell me exactly what is wanted and I will arrange for it;" this
conversation took place before the woman; the _ojhas_ said "Very well,
we will do what you want but before applying the medicine we shall
have to do some incantations;" the father-in-law answered "Do whatever
is necessary to make a good job of it. Don't spare anything; try and
get everything ready by to-morrow: for we are in great difficulty; I
do not like to leave the patient alone in the house and yet I cannot
spare anyone to look after her;" the _ojhas_ promised and got up
and went out with the father-in-law, and in the village street they
told him that laziness was all that was the matter with the woman,
but that they knew a medicine which would cure her; so they went
to the jungle and dug up two very big tubers of the _tirra_ plant,
as big as pumpkins, and in the evening they went to the man's house
and told him that they had found the medicine, and that the whole
household was to come to the cross roads at the end of the village
very early the next morning with the patient and they would exorcise
the disease and apply remedies.
At cockcrow the next morning the two _ojhas_ brought the two tubers
and put them down at the end of the village street, and then went to
the house where the sick woman lived and awoke the inmates, and they
borrowed a pot of water and some vermilion and an old winnowing fan
and then they all went to the place where the tubers had been left,
and the _ojhas_ made the patient sit on the winnowing fan facing the
east and painted her with vermilion; then they waved pig's dung round
her head and tied the two tubers round her neck and told her to walk
up and down the village street three times; and that would remove
the spell that was on her. So the woman began to walk up the village
street and every one laughed at her and the children ran after her
and smacked her and jumped and shouted for joy and the _ojhas_ called
out to her "You must not take off the tubers until you are cured."
The woman walked up and down twice, but then she was so ashamed at
being laughed at that she threw away the tubers and ran off home;
then they all laughed the more; and followed her to the house, and
the _ojhas_ asked whether she was cured that she had taken off the
remedies they had applied; she only smiled in answer and they told
her to take care because if she ever got ill again they would apply
the same remedy; but from that day the woman completely recovered
and did her fair share of all the work.
CXXXIII. The Brahman's Powers.
A long time ago a Brahman came from the west and did many wonders to
the astonishment of those who saw him. He came to a certain village
and at first put up in an old bamboo hut; there he sat motionless
for three or four days and so far as anyone could see ate and drank
nothing. The villagers said that he must eat during the night, so
four men arranged to watch him continuously; two by day and two by
night; but though they watched they could not detect him eating or
drinking. Then the villagers collected and began to question him
and as his answers seemed worthy of credit they began to bring him
offerings of milk; one day he asked to be supplied with coolies
that he might rebuild the hut in which he had taken up his abode;
so coolies were brought and he made them collect bricks and prepare
mortar and at the end of the day's work they asked to be paid; then
the Brahman wrapped himself in his cloth and repeated some _mantras_,
whereupon pice fell tinkling down from his body and with them he paid
the coolies; and so it was every day until the house was finished. All
this was a source of great wonder to those who saw it.
CXXXIV. Ram's Wife.
It is a custom among us Santals that husband and wife do not mention
each other's names; and even if a husband sometimes mentions his
wife's name in a case of urgent necessity, the wife will never speak
her husband's; in the same way a man may not mention the name of his
younger brother's wife or of his wife's elder sister; women again may
not use the name of their younger sister's husband or their husband's
elder brother. Our forefathers have said that if any one breaks this
rule his children will be born deaf or dumb; we believe this and fear
to break through the custom.
There was once a man named Ram who was ploughing his field; when he
got to the end he found that he had not brought the seed with him;
so he called out to his wife, pretending however that he was speaking
to his daughter "Seed, daughter, seed!" And she called back "What
do you want it for? Are you going to sow it?" (eram = will you sow)
and every time he called, she answered "Eram?" At this he lost his
temper and ran up to the house and asked what she meant by speaking
his name, when he told her to bring out the seed for sowing; and
thereupon he proceeded to give her a good thrashing. His wife said to
him "Your name is the same as the word for 'sow,' it is a very fine
name you have got." At this Ram laughed and asked how he could help
having the name which his father and mother had given him. At this
she giggled. "Then why are you hurt by it? You had better in future
take out the seed corn with you and then you won't have to call to me;
if you do I shall answer you as I did to-day."
To the present day people do not use the forbidden words; or if
compelled to they spit on the ground first; even Christian converts do
not like to infringe the rule if many people are present and usually
speak of a person with a forbidden name as the father, or mother of
such and such a child.
There was once a man named Dhuju, and he had sons named Ret Mongla,
Saru Sama and Chapat champa; and their wives were named Chibo, Porbet
One rainy season the family was busy with the ploughing: Ret Mongla
used to take the plough cattle out to get some grazing before the sun
rose; and his two brothers took the ploughs to the fields a little
later and the old father used to look on and tell them what to do. It
was their practice when they wanted to attract each other's attention
to call out: "Ho!" and not "Ya!" or "Brother." One day it had been
arranged that they should sow _gundli_ in a field; but when the
eldest brother arrived at the place with the bullocks ready to plough
he found that his two brothers had not turned up with the ploughs;
so he began to call "Pal, ho!" (Pal = plough share).
Now just then the wife of the youngest brother, Palo, had gone towards
that field to throw away the sweepings of the cowshed and she thought
Ret Mongla was calling her name; this surprised her and made her
very angry; and she made up her mind to pay him back and then if she
were scolded for not paying proper respect to her husband's eldest
brother to explain that he had insulted her first. So that morning
when she took out their breakfast to the men working in the field,
she pretended to be in great hurry, and putting down her basket near
the place where the three brothers were ploughing, called out to them:
"Come, stop ploughing," and then with scarcely an interval: "Look
sharp and come and eat; or if you don't I will take your breakfast away
again." So the brothers stopped their work and ate their breakfasts.
But when Palo had gone back and they were sitting having a chew
of tobacco, the eldest brother began: "Did you notice how that girl
behaved to me just now; she spoke to me in a most rude way as if I were
not a person to whom she owed respect." The other two said that they
had noticed it themselves, and her husband Chapat Champa said that he
would punish her for it when he got home. Directly he got to the house
he began scolding her and she made no answer, but that night when they
were alone together she told him that what she had done was because
Ret Mongla had insulted her by calling her by name. The next day her
mother-in-law took her to task but Palo gave the same explanation.
Then Ret Mongla's mother went to him and asked him whether there was
any truth in this counter-charge; he saw at once what had happened
and explained that he had never called out his sister-in-law by name;
he had called out for the plough; "Pal ho! Pal ho!" because his brothers
had not got the ploughs ready; when Palo understood what a mistake she
had made, she was covered with confusion and they brought water and she
washed Ret Mongla's feet as she had done on the day of her marriage,
and they salaamed to each other and peace was restored. But if the
mistake had not been explained Palo would have been turned out of
CXXXVI. The Women's Sacrifice.
This is a story of the old days when the Santals both men and women
were very stupid. Once upon a time the men of a certain village had
fixed a day for sacrificing a bullock; but the very day before the
sacrifice was to take place, the Raja's _sipahis_ came to the village
and carried off all the men to do five days forced labour at the Raja's
capital. The women thus left alone suffered the greatest anxiety;
they thought it quite possible that their husbands and fathers would
never be allowed to return or even be put to death; so they met in
conclave and decided that the best thing they could do would be to
carry out the sacrifice which the men had intended to make and which
had been interrupted so unexpectedly.
So they made haste to wash their clothes and bathe, and by way
of purification they fasted that evening and slept on the bare
ground. Then at dawn they made ready everything wanted for the
sacrifice and went to the jungle with the bullock that was to be
the victim. There at the foot of a _sal_ tree they scraped a piece
of ground bare and smeared it with cow dung; then they put little
heaps of rice at the four corners of a square and marked the place
with vermilion; then they sprinkled water over the bullock and led
it up to the square.
But here their difficulties began for none of them knew what
incantations the men said on such an occasion; they wasted a lot of
time each urging the other to begin, at last the wife of the headman
plucked up courage and started an invocation like this: "We sacrifice
this bullock to you; grant that our husbands may return; let not the
Raja sacrifice them but grant them a speedy return." Having got as
far as this she wanted the other women to take a turn, but they said
that her invocation was capital and quite sufficient; and they had
better get on to the sacrifice at once. Easier said than done; they
none of them knew how to do it; as they all hung back the headman's
wife scolded them roundly and bade them take the axe and kill the
beast; then they all asked where they were to strike the animal:
"Where its life resides," said the headman's wife. "Where is that,"
asked the women. "Watch and see what part of it moves," answered she,
"and strike there." So they looked and presently the bullock moved
its tail: "That's where its life is," shouted they; so three or
four of them caught hold of the rope round the animal's neck and
one woman seized the axe and struck two blows at the root of the
animal's tail. She did it no harm but the pain of the blow made
the bullock pass water. "See the blood flowing," cried the women,
and eagerly caught the stream in a vessel; then the sacrificer dealt
another blow which made the bullock jump and struggle until it broke
loose and galloped off. The women followed in pursuit and chased it
through a field of cotton; the bullock knocked off many of the ripe
cotton pods and these the women thought were lumps of fat fallen from
the wounded bullock, so they took them home and ate them; such fools
were the women in those days.
CXXXVII. The Thief's Son.
Once upon a time a goat strayed into the house of a certain man who
promptly killed it and hid the body. At evening the owner of the
goat missed it and came in search of it. He asked the man who had
killed it whether he had seen it, but the latter put on an innocent
air and declared that he knew nothing about it but he invited the
owner of the missing animal to look into the goat house and see if
it had accidentally got mixed up with the other goats. The search
was of course in vain.
Directly the owner had gone the thief brought out the body and skinned
and cut it up, and every one in the house ate his fill of flesh. Before
they went to sleep the thief told his sons to be careful not to go
near any of the other boys when they were grazing the cattle next day,
lest they should smell that they had been eating meat.
Next morning the thief's son took his goats out to graze and was
careful not to go near any of the other boys who were tending cattle;
whenever they approached him he moved away. At last they asked him what
was the matter; and he told them that they must keep at a distance lest
they should smell what he had been eating. "What have you eaten?" The
simpleton replied that he had been eating goat's flesh and that there
was still some in the house. The cowherds at once ran off and told the
owner of the lost goat. The news soon spread and the villagers caught
the man who had killed the goat and searched his house and found the
flesh of the goat. Then they fined him one rupee four annas and made
him give another goat in exchange for the one he had stolen.
CXXXVIII. The Divorce.
There was once a man who had reason to suspect his wife's
faithfulness. He first tried threatening and scolding her; but this
had no good effect, for far from being ashamed she only gave him
back harder words than she received. So he set to work to find some
way of divorcing her without making a scandal. One day when he came
home with a fine basket of fish which he had caught he found that his
father-in-law had come to pay them a visit. As he cleaned the fish
he grumbled at the thought that his wife would of course give all the
best of them to her father; at last an idea struck him. As he handed
over the fish to his wife he told her to be careful not to give her
father the heads of the _mangri_ fish nor the dust of tobacco, as
it was very wrong to give either of those things to a visitor. "Very
well," she answered; but to herself she thought "What does he mean by
forbidding me to do these things? I shall take care to give my father
nothing but the heads of the fish" for her pleasure was to thwart her
husband. So when the evening meal was ready she filled a separate plate
for her father with nothing but the fish heads. As her husband heard
the old man munching and crunching the bones he smiled to himself at
the success of the plot. When his father was about to leave he asked
for some tobacco, and the woman brought him only tobacco dust which she
had carefully collected out of the bottom of the bag. The old gentleman
went off without a word but very disappointed with his treatment.
A few days later the woman went to visit her father's house, and
then he at once asked her what she meant by treating him as she had
done. "I am sorry," said she: "I did it to spite my husband; he went
out of his way to tell me not to give you the heads of the fish and
the dust of tobacco, and so I picked out nothing but heads for you
and gave you all the tobacco dust I could collect because I was so
angry with him." From this her father easily understood that husband
and wife were not getting on well together.
Time passed and one day her mother went to visit the troublesome
wife. As she was leaving, her daughter asked whether there was any
special reason for her coming. Her mother admitted that she had come
hoping to borrow a little oil to rub on the cattle at the coming
Sohrae festival, but as her son-in-law was not there she did not like
to mention it and would not like to take any without his consent. "O
never mind him!" said the woman and insisted on her mother taking
away a pot--not of cheap mowah or mustard oil,--but of ghee.
Now a little girl saw her do this and the tale was soon all over the
village; but the undutiful wife never said a word about it to her
husband, and it was only after some days that he heard from others
of his wife's extravagance. When it did reach his ears he seized
the opportunity and at once drove her out of the house, and when
a panchayat was called insisted on divorcing her for wasting his
substance behind his back. No one could deny that the reason was a
good one and so the panchayat had to allow the divorce. Thus he got
rid of his wife without letting his real reason for doing so be known.
CXXXIX. The Father and the Father-in-Law.
There was once a Raja who had five sons and his only daughter was
married to a neighbouring Raja.
In the course of time this Raja fell into poverty; all his horses
and cattle died and his lands were sold. At last they had even to
sell their household utensils and clothes for food. They had only
cups and dishes made of gourds to use and the Raja's wife and sons
had to go and work as day labourers in order to get food to eat. At
last one day the Raja made up his mind to go and visit his married
daughter and ask her husband's family to give him a brass cup (_bati_)
that he might have something suitable to drink out of. Off he went
and when he reached the house he was welcomed very politely by his
daughter's father-in-law and given a seat and water to wash his feet,
and a hookah was produced and then the following conversation began.
"Where have you come from, father of my daughter-in-law?"
"I have walked from home, father of my son-in-law?"
"You come here so often that you make me quite frightened! How is
it? Is it well with you and yours? with body and skin? Would it not
be well for us to exchange news?"
"Yes indeed; for how can you know how I am getting on if I do not tell
you. By your kind enquiries my life has grown as big as a mountain,
my bosom is as broad as a mat, and my beard has become as long as a
"And I also, father of my daughter-in-law, am delighted at your
coming and enquiring about me; otherwise I should wonder where you had
settled down, and be thinking that you did not know the way relations
should behave to each other; at present, I am glad to say, the seed
left after sowing, the living who have been left behind by death,
by your favour and the goodness of God, are all doing well. Is it not
a proverb. 'The eye won't walk, but the ear will go and come back in
no time.' Now the ear is the visitor and so far as it has looked our
friends up, it is well with all, so far as I know."
The other answered; "Then I understand that by the goodness of God,
all is very well with you all, O father of my son-in-law. That is
what we want, that it may be well with us, body and soul."
"Life is our wealth; life is great wealth. So long as life lasts
wealth will come. Even if there is nothing in the house, we can work
and earn wealth, but if life goes where shall we obtain it?"
The visitor answered "That is true; and we have been suffering
much from the 'standing' disease; (i.e. hunger) I have tried to get
medicine to cure it in vain; the Doctors know of none. I should be
greatly obliged if you could give me some medicine for it."
"The very same disease has overflowed this part of the country"
was the reply:--at this they both laughed; and the visitor resumed,--
"Don't they say 'we asked after them and they did not ask anything
about us in return;'? it is right now for me to ask how you are
getting on" and so saying he proceeded in his turn to put the same
questions and to receive the same answers.
Then they went out and bathed and came back and had some curds and rice
and sat for a while smoking their hookahs. Then a goat was killed and
cooked and they had a grand feast. But the Raja did not forget about
the _bati_, and he took his daughter aside and told her to sound her
mother-in-law about it. She brought back a message that if he wanted
anything he should ask for it himself. So he went very shamefacedly
to his host and told him that be must he leaving: "Well, good-bye, are
you sure you only came to pay us a visit and had no other object?" The
Raja seized the opening that this reply gave him and said "Yes, I had
something in my mind; we are so poor now that we have not even a brass
cup to drink out of, and I hoped that you would give me one of yours."
"My dear Sir, you say that you have gourds to drink but of: we have
not even that; we have to go down to the stream and drink out of our
hands; I certainly cannot give you a _bati._" At this rebuff the poor
Raja got up and went away feeling very angry at the manner in which
he had been treated.
When he reached home the Raja vowed that he would not even live in the
neighbourhood of such faithless friends so he went with all his family
to a far country. In their new home his luck changed and he prospered
so much that in a few years he became the Raja of the country.
Meanwhile the other Raja--the father-in-law,--fell into such poverty
that he and his family had to beg for their living.
The first Raja heard about this and made a plan to attract them to the
place where he lived. He ordered a great tank to be dug and promised
the workers one pice for each basket of earth they removed. This
liberal wage attracted labourers from all sides; they came in such
numbers that they looked like ants working and among them came the
father-in-law and his family and asked the Raja for work. The Raja
recognised them at once though they did not know him; at first the
sight of their distress pleased him but then he reflected that if he
cherished anger Chando would be angry with him, so he decided to treat
them well and invited them to his palace. The poor creatures thought
that they were probably doomed for sacrifice but could only do as
they were bid. Great was their amazement when they were well fed and
entertained and when they learnt who their benefactor was they burst
into tears; and the Raja pointed out to them how wrong it was to laugh
at the poor, because wealth might all fly away as theirs had done.
CXL. The Reproof.
A poor man once went to visit his daughter's father-in-law who was very
rich. The rich man was proud of his wealth and looked down on poverty;
so he made no special entertainment for his visitor and only gave him
rice and _dal_ for his dinner. When they went out to bathe he stood
on the bank of the tank and began to boast. "I made this tank; all the
land over there belongs to me; all those buffaloes and cattle you see,
belong to me; I have so many that I have to keep two men to milk them."
The visitor said nothing at the time but that afternoon as host and
guest sat smoking together they saw a beggar standing in front of
the house. The sun was very powerful and the ground was so hot that
the beggar kept shifting from one foot to another as he stood out
in the sun. Then the poor visitor spoke up and said "It is strange
that when you made such a nice house you made the roof without
eaves." "Where are your eyes? Cannot you see the eaves?" asked the
host in astonishment. The other answered "I see that you have made
a house as high as a hill but if it had any eaves, surely that poor
beggar there would not be standing out in the sun; and this morning
you must have been mistaken in saying that that tank was yours for
otherwise you would have given me fish for dinner; and I think that
they were only rocks and tufts of grass which you pointed out to me
as your flocks and herds for otherwise you would have offered me some
milk or curds." And the rich man was ashamed and had no answer to make.
Once upon a time a man and his son went on a visit to the
son's father-in-law. They were welcomed in a friendly way;
but the father-in-law was much put out at the unexpected visit
as he had nothing ready for the entertainment of his guest. He
took an opportunity to go into the house and said to one of his
daughters-in-law. "Now, my girl, fill the little river and the big
river while I am away; and polish the big axe and the little axe and
dig out five or six channels, and put hobbles on these relations who
have come to visit us and bar them Into the cow house. I am going to
bathe and will come back with a pot full of the water of dry land,
then we will finish off these friends."
The two visitors outside overheard this strange talk and began to
wonder what it meant. They did not like the talk about axes and digging
channels, it sounded as if their host meant to kill them as a sacrifice
and bury their bodies in a river bed; rich men had been known to do
such things. With this thought in their minds they got up and began
to run away as fast as their legs could carry them. But when the young
woman saw what they were doing she ran after them and called them back.
They reluctantly stopped to hear what she had to say; and when she came
up they reproached her for not having warned them of the fate in store
for them. But she only laughed at their folly and explained that what
her father-in-law meant was that she should wash their feet and give
them a seat in the cow house; and make ready two pots of rice beer and
polish the big and little brass basins and make five or six leaf cups
and he would bring back some liquor and they would all have a drink. At
this explanation they had a hearty laugh and went back to the house.
CXLII. The Too Particular Wife.
There was once a man with a large tumour on his forehead and his wife
was so ashamed of it that she would never go about with him anywhere
for fear of being laughed at. One day she went with a party of friends
to see the _Charak Puja_. Her husband wished to go with her but she
flatly declined to allow him.
So when she had gone he went to a friend's house and borrowed a
complete set of new clothes and a large pagri. When he had rigged
himself out in these he could hardly be recognised; but his forehead
with the tumour was quite visible. Then he too went off to the fair
and found his wife busy dancing. After watching her for some time he
borrowed one of the drums and began to play for the dancers; and in
particular he played and danced just in front of his wife.
When he saw that his wife was preparing to go home he started
off ahead, got rid of his fine clothes and took the cattle out to
graze. Presently he went back to the house and asked his wife whether
she had enjoyed the fun. "You should have come to see it for yourself,"
"But you would not let me! Otherwise I should have gone."
"Yes," answered his wife, "I was ashamed of the lump on your forehead
but other people do not seem to mind, for there was a man there with
a lump just like yours who was playing the drum and taking a leading
part in the fun and no one seemed to laugh at him: so in future I
shall not mind going about with you."
CXLIII. The Paharia Socialists.
Formerly before the Santals came into the country the four _taluqs_
of Sankara, Chiptiam, Sulunga and Dhaka formed the Paharia Raj and
the whole country was dense jungle. Then the Santals came and cleared
the jungle, and brought the land under cultivation. The Paharia Raja
of Gando was named Somar Singh and he paid tribute to the Burdwan Raja.
Once ten or twelve Paharias went to Burdwan to pay the annual
tribute. After they had paid in the money the Raja gave them a feast
and a room to sleep in and sent them one bed. The Paharias had a
discussion as to who should sleep on the bed and in order to avoid any
ill-feeling about it they decided that they would all sleep on the
ground and put their feet on the bed and then they could feel that
they had all an equal share of it. This they did and in the morning
the Burdwan Raja came in and found them all lying in this strange
position and was very much amused. He explained that he had sent the
bed for the use of the chief man among them and asked whether they had
no distinctions of rank. "Yes" they said "we have in our own villages;
but here we are in a foreign land and as we do not all belong to one
village who is to decide which is the chief among us. Away from home
we are all equal."
CXLIV. How a Tiger Was Killed.
In the days when the Santals lived in the jungle country there was
once a man who had a patch of maize by the bank of a stream; and to
watch his crop he had put up a platform in his field. Now one day
he stole a goat and killed it; he did not take it home nor tell his
family; he took it to the maize patch with some firewood and fire and
a knife and a hatchet; and he hoisted all these on to his platform
and lit a fire in the bottom of an earthen pot and cut up the goat
and began to cook and eat the flesh. And a tiger smelt the flesh and
came and sat down under the platform.
As the man ate he threw down the bones and as he threw them the tiger
caught them in its mouth; and after a time the man noticed that he
did not hear the bones strike the ground; so he looked down quietly
and saw the tiger; then he was very frightened for he thought that
when he could no longer keep the tiger quiet by throwing down bits
of meat, the tiger would spring up unto the platform and eat him.
At last a thought struck him and he drew the head of his hatchet off
the handle and put it in the fire till it became red-hot; and meanwhile
he kept the tiger quiet by throwing down pieces of meat. Then when
the axe head was ready he picked it out of the fire and threw it down;
the tiger caught it as it fell and roared aloud with pain; its tongue
and palate and throat were so burnt that it died.
Thus the man saved himself from the tiger and whether the story be
true or no, it is known to all Santals.
CXLV. The Goala's Daughter.
There was once a man of the _Goala_ caste who had an only daughter and
she grew up and was married, but had no child; and after twenty years
of married life she gave up all hope of having any. This misfortune
preyed on her mind and she fell into a melancholy. Her parents asked
her why she was always weeping and all the answer she would give was
"My sorrow is that I have never worn clothes of "Dusty cloth" and
that is a sorrow which you cannot cure." But her father and mother
determined to do what they could for their daughter and sent servants
with money into all the bazars to buy "Dusty cloth". The shopkeepers
had never heard of such an article so they bought some cloth of any
sort they could get and brought it to the Goala; when he offered it
to his daughter she thanked him and begged him not to waste his money:
"You do not understand" said she--"what I mean by "Dusty cloth." God
has not given it to me and no one else can; what I mean by 'Dusty
cloth' is the cloth of a mother made dusty by the feet of her
child." Then her father and mother understood and wept with her,
saying that they would do what man could do but this was in the hands
of God; and they sang:--
"Whatever the child of another may suffer, we care not:
But our own child, we will take into our lap, even when it is covered
CXLVI. The Brahman's Clothes.
There was once a Brahman who had two wives; like many Brahmans he lived
by begging and was very clever at wheedling money out of people. One
day the fancy took him to go to the market place dressed only in
a small loin cloth such as the poorest labourers wear and see how
people treated him. So he set out but on the road and in the market
place and in the village no one salaamed to him or made way to him
and when he begged no one gave him alms. He soon got tired of this
and hastened home and putting on his best _pagri_ and coat and dhoti
went back to the market place. This time every one who met him on the
road salaamed low to him and made way for him and every shopkeeper
to whom he went gave him alms: and the people in the village who had
refused before gladly made offerings to him. The Brahman went home
smiling to himself and took off his clothes and put them in a heap
and prostrated himself before them three or four times, saying each
time. "O source of wealth: O source of wealth! it is clothes that
are honoured in this world and nothing else."
CXLVII. The Winning of a Bride.
Formerly this country was all jungle; and when the jungle was first
cleared the crops were very luxuriant; and the Santals had large
herds of cattle, for there was much grazing; so they had milk and
curds in quantities and _ghee_ was as common as water; but now milk
and curds are not to be had. In those days the Santals spent their
time in amusements and did not trouble about amassing wealth, but
they were timid and were much oppressed by their Rajas who looted any
man who showed signs of wealth. Well, in those days the winters were
very cold and there used to be heavy frost at nights. And there was a
man who had seven grown-up daughters and no son; and at the time of
threshing the paddy he had to undergo much hardship because he had
no son to work for him; he had to sleep on the threshing floor and
to get up very early to let out the cattle; and as the hoar frost
lay two inches deep he found it bitterly cold.
In those days the villagers had a common threshing floor; and one
day this man was talking to a friend and he jestingly asked whether
he would spend a night naked on the threshing floor; and the friend
said that he would if there were sufficient inducement but certainly
not for nothing. Then the father of the seven daughters said "If
you or any one else will spend a night naked on the threshing floor
I will give him my eldest daughter in marriage without charging any
bride price."--for he wanted a son-in-law to help him in his work. A
common servant in the employ of the village headman heard him and
said "I will accept the offer;" the man had not bargained for such
an undesirable match but he could not go back from his word; so he
agreed and said that he would choose a night; and he waited till it
was very cold and windy and then told the headman's servant to sleep
out that night. The servant spent the night on the threshing floor
without any clothes in spite of the frost and won his bride.
The following stories illustrate the belief in Bongas, i.e. the spirits
which the Santals believe to exist everywhere, and to take an active
part in human affairs. Bongas frequently assume the form of young men
and women and form connections with human beings of the opposite sex.
At the bidding of witches they cause disease, or they hound on the
tiger to catch men. But they are by no means always malevolent and
are capable of gratitude. The Kisar Bonga or Brownie who takes up his
abode in a house steals food for the master of the house, and unless
offended will cause him to grow rich.
CXLVIII. Marriage with Bongas.
There have been many cases of Santals marrying _bonga_ girls. Not of
course with formal marriage ceremonies but the marriage which results
from merely living together.
In Darbar village near Silingi there are two men who married
_bonga_. One of them was very fond of playing on the flute and his
playing attracted a _bonga_ girl who came to him looking like a human
girl, while he was tending buffaloes. After the intimacy had lasted
some time she invited him to visit her parents, so he went with her
and she presented him to her father and mother as her husband. But he
was very frightened at what he saw; for the seats in the house were
great coiled up snakes and on one side a number of tigers and leopards
were crouching. Directly he could get a word alone with his wife he
begged her to come away but she insisted on his staying to dinner;
so they had a meal of dried rice and curds and _gur_ and afterwards
he smoked a pipe with his _bonga_ father-in-law and then he set off
home with his _bonga_ wife. They were given a quantity of dried rice
and cakes to take with them when they left.
After seeing him home his wife left him; so he thought that he would
share the provisions which he had brought with a friend of his; he
fetched his friend but when they came to open the bundle in which
the rice and cakes had been tied, they found nothing but _meral_
leaves and cow dung cakes such as are used for fuel. This friend saw
that the food must have been given by _bongas_ and it was through
the friend that the story became known.
In spite of this the young man never gave up his _bonga_ wife until
his family married him properly. She used to visit his house secretly,
but would never eat food there; and during his connection with her
all his affairs prospered, his flocks and herds increased and he
became rich, but after he married he saw the _bonga_ girl no more.
The adventures of the other young man of the same village were much
the same. He made the acquaintance of a _bonga_ girl thinking that
she was some girl of the village, but she really inhabited a spring,
on the margin of which grew many _ahar_ flowers. One day she asked
him to pick her some of the _ahar_ flowers and while he was doing
so she cast some sort of spell upon him and spirited him away into
the pool. Under the water he found dry land and many habitations;
they went on till they came to the _bonga_ girl's house and there he
too saw the snake seats and tigers and leopards.
He was hospitably entertained and stayed there about six months;
one of his wife's brothers was assigned to him as his particular
companion and they used to go out hunting together. They used tigers
for hunting-dogs and their prey was men and women, whom the tigers
killed, while the _bonga_ took their flesh home and cooked it. One
day when they were hunting the _bonga_ pointed out to the young
man a wood cutter in the jungle and told him to set the tiger on to
"yonder peacock"; but he could not bring himself to commit murder;
so he first shouted to attract the wood cutter's attention and then
let the tiger loose; the wood cutter saw the animal coming and killed
it with his axe as it sprang upon him.
His _bonga_ father-in-law was so angry with him for having caused
the death of the tiger, that he made his daughter take her husband
back to the upper world again.
In spite of all he had seen the young man did not give up his _bonga_
wife and every two or three months she used to spirit him away under
the water: and now that man is a _jan guru_.
CXLIX. The Bonga Headman.
Sarjomghutu is a village about four miles from Barhait Bazar on
the banks of the Badi river. On the river bank grows a large banyan
tree. This village has no headman or _paranic_; any headman who is
appointed invariably dies; so they have made a _bonga_ who lives in
the banyan tree their headman.
When any matter has to be decided, the villagers all meet at the banyan
tree, where they have made their _manjhi than_; they take out a stool
to the tree and invite the invisible headman to sit on it. Then they
discuss the matter and themselves speak the answers which the headman
is supposed to give. This goes on to the present day and there is no
doubt that these same villagers sometimes offer human sacrifices,
but they will never admit it, for it would bring them bad luck to
speak about it.
The villagers get on very well with the _bonga_. If any of them has
a wedding or a number of visitors at his house, and has not enough
plates and dishes, he goes to the banyan tree and asks the headman
to lend him some. Then he goes back to his house, and returning in a
little while finds the plates and dishes waiting for him under the
tree; and when he has finished with them he cleans them well and
takes them back to the tree.
CL. Lakhan and the Bongas.
Once a young man named Lakhan was on a hunting party and he pursued
a deer by himself and it led him a long chase until he was far from
his companions; and when he was close behind it they came to a pool
all overgrown with weeds and the deer jumped into the pool and Lakhan
after it; and under the weeds he found himself on a dry high road
and he followed the deer along this until it entered a house and he
also entered. The people of the house asked him to sit down but the
stool which was offered him was a coiled up snake, so he would not
go near it; and he saw that they were _bongas_ and was too frightened
to speak. And in the cattle pen attached to the house he saw a great
herd of deer.
Then a boy came running in and asked the mistress of the house
who Lakhan was; she said that he had brought their kid home for
them. Lakhan wanted to run away but he could not remember the road
by which he had come. Two daughters of the house were there and they
wanted their father to keep Lakhan as a son-in-law; but their father
told them to catch him a kid and let him go; so they brought him a
fawn and the two girls led him back and took him through the pool to
the upper world: but on the way they put some enchantment on him,
for two or three weeks later he went mad and in his madness he ran
about from one place to another and one day he ran into the pool and
was seen no more, and no one knows where he went or whether the two
bonga maidens took him away.
CLI. The House Bonga.
Once upon a time there was a house _bonga_ who lived in the house
of the headman of a certain village; and it was a shocking thief;
it used to steal every kind of grain and food, cooked and uncooked;
out of the houses of the villagers. The villagers knew what was going
on but could never catch it.
One evening however the _bonga_ was coming along with a pot of boiled
rice which it had stolen, when one of the villagers suddenly came upon
it face to face; the _bonga_ slunk into the hedge but the villager
saw it clearly and flung his stick at it, whereupon the _bonga_ got
frightened and dropped the pot of rice on the ground so that it was
smashed to pieces and fled. The villager pursued the _bonga_ till he
saw it enter the headman's house. Then he went home, intending the
next morning to show the neighbours the spilt rice lying on the path;
but when the morning came he found that the rice had been removed,
so he kept quiet.
At midday he heard the headman's servants complaining that the rice
which had been given them for breakfast was so dirty and muddy that
some of them had not been able to eat it at all; then he asked how
they were usually fed "Capitally," they answered "we get most varied
meals, often with turmeric and pulse or vegetables added to the rice;
but that is only for the morning meal; for supper we get only plain
rice." "Now, I can tell you the reason of that" said the villager,
"there is a greedy _bonga_ in your house who goes stealing food at
night and puts some of what he gets into your pots for your morning
meal." "That's a fine story" said the servants: "No, it's true" said
the villager, and told them how the evening before he had made the
_bonga_ drop the rice and how afterwards it had been scraped up off
the ground; and when they heard this they believed him because they
had found the mud in their food.
Some time afterwards the same man saw the _bonga_ again at night
making off with some heads of Indian corn; so he woke up a friend
and they both took sticks and headed off the _bonga_, who threw down
the Indian corn and ran away to the headman's house. Then they woke
up the headman and told him that a thief had run into his house. So
he lit a lamp and went in to look, and they could hear the _bonga_
running about all over the house making a great clatter and trying to
hide itself; but they could not see it. Then they took the headman to
see the Indian corn which the _bonga_ had dropped in its flight. The
next day the villagers met and fined the headman for having the
_bonga_ in his house; and from that time the _bonga_ did not steal
in that village, and whenever the two men who had chased it visited
the headman's house the _bonga_ was heard making a great clatter as
it rushed about trying to hide.