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Full text of "The folk-literature of Bengal (being lectures delivered to the Calcutta University in 1917, as Ramtanu Lahiri research fellow in the history of Bengali language and literature.)"

THE LIBRARY 

OF 

THE UNIVERSITY 

OF CALIFORNIA 

LOS ANGELES 



THE 
FOLK-LITEKATURE OF BENGAL 



Digitized by tine Internet Arciiive 

in 2008 witii funding from 

IVIicrosoft Corporation 



littp://www.archive.org/details/folkliteratureofOOsend 



THE 



Folk= Literature of Bengal 

(Being Lectures delivered to the Calcutta University 
in 1917, as Ramtanu Lahiri Research Fellow 
in the History of Bengali Language 
and Literature. ) 



By 

Rai Saheb Dineshchandra Sen, B.A. 

Fellow, Calcutta University and Author of 'History of Bengali Lan&riiaKe and 

Literature,' 'Typical Selections from Old Bengali Languajce and 

Literature,' 'Chaitanya and his Companions,' 'History of 

Mediaeval Vaisnava Literature,' 'Banga Bhasa-o- 

Sahitya,' and other works. 



With a Foreword by 

W. R. Gourlay, Esq., M.A., C.I.B., I.C.S. 




Published by the 

UNIVERSITY OF CALCUTTA 

1920 



Printed bt Atdlchandra Bhattacharyya at the 
CALPurTA [Tniversitv Press, Senate House, CIvlcdtta. 



To S^^J^ 

THE HON'BLE SIR ASUTOSH MOOKERJEE. 
Kt., C.S.I., M.A.. D U D.Sc. Ph.D. 

these pages are dedicated 

as an humble token of 

the Author's deep sense of gratitude 

for 

the epoch-making step he has taken 

by Initiating and organising the new department of 

Indian Vernaculars In our University, 

a movement that Is fraught with vast possibilities 

for the development of Indian National Life, 

based on a clear consciousness of 

India's distinctive greatness 
and homogeneous cultural progress. 






rOllEWOUD 

There are few [)eoj)le who have not beeu 
suhjeoted to the command, " Tell me a story," 
and those who, on such occasions, find pleasure 
in tryin<»' to make children happy, rack their 
brains to find somothinii: new to tell. They 
desire that their story should contain nothing 
hut thoughts full of good- will and encourage- 
ment to follow good examples. In the telling 
of the story it is natural to picture the details 
of the scene according to the story-teller's own 
experience. Such is the incentive from Avhich 
the folk-tale is born. 

To those of us Avho come from the West, it 
comes as a pleasing surprise to find in the folk- 
tales of India scenes and incidents which are 
familiar to us from our early reading of Grimm's 
Fairy Tales and Hans Anderson's Fairy Tales. 
This similarity early attracted the attention of 
scholars and there have l)een controversies as to 
the original sources of tales common to East and 
West : Sir AVilliam Jones and the early Sanskrit 
scholars wlio worked with him, found two collec- 
tions of these tales so complete as to leave no 
further doubt that the origin was, as had been 
surmised, in the Fast. This discovery made it 



till FOREWORD 

cloar that those talcs, Avith which we are all so 
familiar, had their origin not later than the early 
days of the Christian era : and there Avere many 
who saw in the incidents and the teaching of 
the tales the influence of the life and teaching 
of the Lord Buddha and his disciples. For long 
it was supposed, therefore, that the tales liad had 
their origin in the ancient kingdom of Magadha 
and that they might have heen composed hy the 
followers of the Lord Buddha himself. More 
recently, however, the Jatak? collection of the 
Buddhist stories was discovered and amongst the 
carvings on the railings round the Bharhut 
stupa — scenes from these stories were recognised. 
As the carving dates from 250 to 200 B.C., the 
origin of the tales is now believed to be not later 
than the time when Buddha lived about the 5th 
century, B.C., and it is recognised that the 
features which seemed to prove a Buddhist 
origin are really alterations made to suit the 
Buddhist doctrine. It is nol likely that materials 
will come to light to enable us to trace the 
origin still further back, but who can say when 
these tales were first conceived r 

The attempts to trace the source of the tales 
have brought to light hidden knowledge. The 
history of the Indian people in these ancient 
days is but imperfectly known, but the tales 
are a mirror of the customs and the thoughts of 
the people and, as such, are of far greater value 



FOREWORD IX 

to US than the dates and the names of a few 
individuals — the dry bones of history. It needs 
but a glance at the pictures of the Bharhut 
carvings in the book of Jataka stories edited by 
Erancis and Thomas to enable us to picture 
the life of the people in those times — and from 
these little carvings, we can create a mental 
picture of the incidents in the other tales ; and 
the picture is so very like the scenes we see 
every day. Human nature changes little, and 
the primitive emotions are depicted on men's 
faces now as they were then. In India there 
has been little change in the environment of 
village life for thousands of years and often 
little change in the fashion of the simple dress 
of the villager. In the West, on the other 
hand, the environment of to-day is so different 
from that of ages gone by that our pictures of 
folk tales have often grotesque appearance 
almost entirely absent in India. The monkey, 
the elephant, the lighting ram of the Bharhut 
carvings have in no way changed, and their 
environment is the same. 

In these lectures, Mr. Dineshchandra Sen 
gives us an interesting account of the history 
of some of these fables and he puts forward a 
fascinating suggestion that possibly the tales of 
the Middle Kingdom were carried by means of 
the ships which sailed from the coasts of Bengal 
to the ports of the Persian Gulf and that thus 



X FOREWORD 

they travelled, with those who transported the 
merchandise, to far away ports of Europe — long 
hefore any translations of the Panchatantra or 
Hitopadesa or translations like our fables of 
Pilpai were known. 

In the following lectures, our attention is 
directed in particular to Bengal, and the examples 
given afford a delightful picture of village life 
in that Province. When I read in the first 
lecture the author's enthusiastic appreciation of 
Bengal folk tales, the thought crossed my mind 
that possibly the Rai Sahib's patriotism had 
affected his judgment : but after 1 had read the 
translation of the beautiful story of Malancha- 
mala, I went back to the first lecture and I 
knew that what he said was true. 

Everyone who reads this Bengali folk-tale 
will endorse what he says. It is a tale of which 
a nation might well be proud : it has all the 
attributes of a beautiful lyric : it contains a con- 
ception of purity and love which evince a high 
state of civilization. The rural scenes are full 
of the joy of life. One cannot but feel the fresh 
air of the morning when the King rides out to 
the mango grove : one shudders at the scene 
round the funeral pyre : the forest is gloomy in 
the darkness but fresh and smiling in the sun- 
shine. Nothing could be more simple or charm- 
ing than the account of the life in the cottage 



FOREWORD XI 

of the flower woman : I have never read any- 
thing which lead me to such an understanding 
of the sublimity of the conception of the ideal 
Hindu wife, as I have obtained from the readin^j 
of the story of IMalanchamala. The interest 
never flags. No one who begins the story can 
rest till he has reached the end. The teaching 
too is sublime. 

I hope Rai Sahib Dineshchandra Sen will be 
able to do a further service to literature by 
making a collection of Bengali folk tales. Such 
a collection would help the people of the West 
to get nearer to the people of Bengal. There 
are so many barriers. Good will is often present, 
but good will must be supported by knowledge. 
It is easy to obtain some knowledge by studying 
the history and the literature of the country and 
by reading novels such as those of Bankim 
Chandra, but here b a door that has been little 
more than pushed ajar by Lalbihari De, and 
from the evidence we have in these lectures, I 
feel sure the author could open it for us. Our 
childhood is spent under very different conditions 
of environment. When we read tales such as 
Malanchamala it brings us much nearer to 
understanding, and if we could only learn to 
know each other's childhood, there would 
be less anxiety regarding our understanding 
later on, 



Xll FOREWORD 

I am grateful to the author for having asked 
me to write this introduction. I hope it may 
have the effect of bringing the lectures to the 
notice of some who might not otherwise have 
been led to a knowledge of the Polk Tales of 
Bengal. 

W. R. GOURLAY. 

The 18th January, 1920. 



PREFACE 

My first coarso of lectures as Ramtanu Lahiri 
Research Fellow of the Calcutta Tniversity in 
the history of Bengali Language and Literature, 
delivered in 1914, was puhlished under the title 
of Ohaitanya and his Compamons in 1917. The 
present volume contains my Fellowship lectures 
delivered in 1917. From 1914 to 1919, I 
delivered six courses of such lectures; each 
course, complete in 12 lectures, forms a volume 
of the size of this book. As most of these 
lectures have not yet been published and as 
there is no certainty about the time of their 
publication, I owe it to the public to refresh 
their memory about what they heard long ago, 
by mentioning the subjects treated in them. 

1. Chaitanya and his Companions, delivered 
in 1914. 

2. The second course of my lectures deli- 
vered in 1915 treats of the following subjects : 

{a) Glimpses of Bengal History from old 

Bengali Literature. 
(&) Songs and Ballads of the Buddhistic 

period. 
{c) Chandidasa. 

{d) Desertion of Nadia by Chaitanya. 
(<?) Humour in old Bengali poetry. 



XIV PEEIACE 

3. The Bengali Ramayanas. In these lec- 
tures, delivered in 1916, I tried to prove that 
some of the legends and stories about Rama, 
Ravana, and Hanumana, now found incorporated 
in the various versions of the Bengali Ramayanas 
by different authors, are of a prehistoric origin, 
probably anterior to Valmlki's epic. It is evi- 
dent that these Bengali authors did not 
follow too closely the foot-steps of Valmiki, but 
introduced indigenous elements in them not 
contained in the Sanskrit epic. 

4. The Folk Literature of Bengal — delivered 
in 1917. 

5. The forces that developed our early 
literature — delivered in 1918. 

6. Chaitanya and his Age — 1919. 

I have to offer a word of explanation for 
the publication of my fourth course of lectures 
delivered in 1917 before the preceding courses 
of such lectures, delivered in 1915 and in 1916 
respectively, have seen the light. An active 
research is going on in the field of old Bengali 
Literature and new materials are being made 
available to us every year. The history of our 
language and literature no longer presents a 
fossilized form, but by the powerful impetus 
given to it by Sir Asutosh Mookerjee, it is 
fast invading "fresh fields and pastures new'' 
and changing shapes. Some portions of my 
previous lectures have had to be revised and 



PREFACE XV 

re-written in the light of the latest discoveries. 
Hence those lectures that are found ready at the 
moment are made over to the press while others 
have to he held up. 

In the present treatise I have for the fir^ 
time hrought to th-'- notice of scholars consider- 
able materials about Bengali folk- tales chiefly 
those current amongst the Mahomedans of the 
lower Gangetic valley. It has been a surprise 
to us to find that stories of Rupamala, Kanchan- 
mala, Madhumala, i'ushpamala, etc., are not only 
the heritage of Hindu children but also of 
their Moslem cousins who have been listening to 
these nursery and fairy tales, recited to them by 
their grand-mothers, from a very remote 
historical period which I have tried to prove to 
be much anterior to the Islamic conquest. The 
Hindu and Buddhistic converts who gave up 
their faith in the older religions did not forego 
their attachment to these folk-tales in which 
legends of Buddhist and Hindu gods are some- 
times closely intermixed. The incantation and 
mantras used by Moslem Fakirs and physicians 
for curing diseases and the hymns of Lakshmi — 
the harvest-goddess — recited by a class of 
Mahomedan mendicants — are full of references to 
gods of the Hindu and Buddhistic pantheons, and 
I have tried to trace the continuity of this 
folklore and folk-wisdom current amongst 
Mahomedans, from a remote time when they had 



XVI PREFACE 

not yet accepted Islam but had been Buddhists 
or Hindus. 

These lectures on the Folk Literature of 
Bengal are by no means exhaustive. I have 
not touched the pastoral poetry and boatmen's 
songs with which the whole air of rural Bengal 
is still resonant — not her cities and towns, but her 
backward villages, still lovely with the dark- 
blue foliage of mango-groves and rich in her 
summer bloom, wher^ the fierce rays of materi- 
alistic civilization have not yet entered to dispel 
the charm of rural poetry. These songs and 
pastoral poetry open a vista showing the 
perspective of ages long gone by. If I find an 
opportunity I will deal with this fascinating 
subject in a future course of lectures. 

A further enquiry on the lines of these lec- 
tures made by me has brought to light several 
very important facts in regard to the Bengali 
folk tales. There is a mere hint in this work 
that some of our old folk stories are interspersed 
with bits of poetical lines rendered into prose, 
which have been evidently current amongst our 
woman-folk from a remote antiquity. I have 
proved in another course of my lectures that 
some of the old stories are so fully replete 
with these poetical bits, cleverly strung 
together and put in the midst of a prose style, 
that the work of the goddess of Parnessus lies, 
as it were, hidden from our view, until the 



PREFACE XVli 

scrutiiiisiiij^' eye of a scholar detects them. The 
language of these half -verses is generally very 
ancient and reminds one of the discovery made 
by Dr. E. ^V. Hopkins of the existence of Yedic 
hymnology in the great epic of the INrahahhfirata. 
I can scarcely suppress a feeling of joy 
that inspires me in my research work at the 
present moment. Hitherto I had felt myself 
aloiie in tlie task of writing the annals of 
the Bengali language and literature, though 
I do not imply ]jy this any lack of regard 
for the work ot some of my colleagues in the 
field who have in the midst of their multi- 
farious and scholarly tasks, made important 
contributions to it from time to time. But 
a whole-hearted devotion to this cause was 
wanting in the young generation of Bengalees, 
and to-day this longfelt want seems to be 
removed Iw the daily growing number of those 
who are Avishing to take up Beugali as a 
subject for the M.A. Examination and by the 
enthusiasm displayed by these earnest students 
in the cause of their hitherto neglected literature. 
They appear to me to be the heralds ol' a new 
age, that will, let us confidently hope, ere long 
dawn on us. In the march towards this goal 
our confidence is accentuated by the fact that 
the man at the helm has a never-failing steady 
foresight and sees the vision of our futui'o 
glory, as no one else in the country has the 



XYlll PEEFACE- 

power to see. The boat is lauiiclied and the 
pilot will steer it on to the sliore of the ideal 
land, let us hope. 

I take this opportunity to thank Mr. W. 11. 
Gourlav, M.A., C.I.E., I.C.S., Private Secretary 
to H E. the Governor of Bengal, for writing the 
Foreword. Hr. Goiirlay has been in Bengal 
for more than 20 years and is Avell known as a 
diligent student of the life and civilisation of 
oar people. In his address delivered at a 
meeting of the Indian section of the lloyal 
Society of Arts held in London on the Gth of 
March, 1919, he indicated the various stages of 
our national history and suggested a practical 
scheme of an up-to-date comprehensive history 
of Bengal with a scholarship and breadth of 
outlook that evoked the admiration of such 
eminent men as Sir S. Bayley, Mr. C. E. Buck- 
land, Mr. Skrine and Lord Carmichael. The 
appreciation of the story of !Malaiichamala as 
contained in his Eoreworcl, though he had at 
first hesitated to accept my views expressed in 
pp. 44-47 will give to the reader a glimpse of the 
characteristic sympathy and genuine goodness 
of the heart with which he has always tried to 
understand India and her people. 

I have to thank Dr. G. Howells, Dr. H. 
Stephen and Dr. H. C. Mookerjee for revising 
some of the proofs of tjiis book. Mr. A. C. 
Ghatak, Superintendent o[ the University 



ITvFirACE XIX 

Press, Jias also helped ma in such matters — 
hut I ani sorry to sav that there are still 
inaiiY printing mistakes in the hook. This 
has heen iiievitahle hecaiise I am not a u'ood 
proof-reader myself and I could not make 
satisfactory arraniiement for i^'etliu"' this yery 
tiresome work dojie from the hefirinninj? to 
the end. 



Betiala, '^ 

Neae Calcu'ita ; > DiNESH Chandiia Sen. 
The 2Ut Jm?u<inj, 1920. ) 



Contents 

CHAPTEli 1 

The strikiiii:? coincidences between some of 
tlie Bengali and European folk-tales, pp. 1-51. 

The early origin of folk-tales and tlie moral 

lessons they convey, pp. 1-3 ; the Greek legends 

as folk-tales, ])p. 2-3 ; Europe indebted to 

India for its medieval literature of fairy 

tales and f aides, pp. 8-.") ; how did the unwritten 

folk-tales of Bengal travel to Europe, pp. 5-7 : 

the story ^ of faithful John and of Eakir 

Chand, pp. 8-14; it holds up the Hindu idea 

of Sakhya and seems to be a Bengali tale, p. li ; 

Queen Mainamati's pursuit of the Goda Yama, 

p. 15; Carid wen's pursuit of Gwin Bach, p. 15; 

the sons of l^rtrenn piu'sued by the princess of 

Hesperides, p. 10 ; Bliasma Lochana, the Indian 

Balor, p. 17 ; ^rivatsa and Chintci, pp. 17-18 ; the 

story of Chandrahasa and that of "the giant with 

three hairs," pp. 20-22 ; the story of " Hans in 

luck" and that of the trading fox, p. 15 ; the 

heart of a bird that yielded diamonds to its eater, 

p. 21 ; the story of tlie sluggards, pp. 25-27 ; 

prophecies of birds, p. 28 ; sorcery among women, 

pp. 28-29 ; " The Rose-bud " and other stories 

giving accounts of sleeping cities, pp. 29-30; 



XX 11 CONTENTS 

Rumpel-stilts Kin. and "Tjlpcii tlie <i;])ost," pp. 
ol-*35; tb(^ stories of 8iikhii-Diildm and JMotlier 
Holle, pp, 85-3U ; I'ora thumb and '' Doi'-rmgule, " 
p. -10; Jack the g'iani killer and the wreslter 
22 men stronp^, p]). 40 ; Eastern India i^ives her 
folk-tales to the world, 48-45, the Gita-katlifis 
p. 41-47 ; Masradha and Gaur, the seats of some of 
the early Indian folk-tales, p. 48: Bengal in the 
early European folk-legends, p. 49 ; the special 
features of the xlrabic and Persian folk-tales as 
contrasted with tliose of Indian, p. 51. 



CHAPTER TI 

Internal evidences in the early Bengali folk- 
tales proving their origin before the Hindu 
Benaissance, pp. 52-80. 

Storytelling — a time-honoured profession of a 
class of Indians specially of women, pp. 52-54; 
tlie early folk-tales are different from Pauranic 
stories, pp. 54-56 ; 12 Yedas and 8 Piiranas, p. 56 ; 
the Pauranic metaphors, pp. 56-5S ;Uhe folk-tales 
give no catalogue of ornaments, nor any stereo- 
typed accounts of beautiful women, pp. 58-59 ; 
notions about gods,) p. 60; the Brahmin no im- 
portant figure in the folk-tales, p. 61 ; the 
prohibition of sea-voyage, p. 62 ; the position of 
merchants in society before the llenaissance, 
p. 63 ; merchants lose their high position, p. 64 ; 
the ships^ their picturesque construction and 



coNTENl's xxiii 

names, p. 65 ; the names ol* characters in 
folk-tales indicate the marchantile rather than 
l^rahminic ideal, pp. 66-G9 ; grandeur and 
^vealth, p. 09 ; none but the brave deserves the 
fair, p. 70 ; articles of luxury and of daily use, 
pp. 71-72 ; natal room, p. 73 ; on the eve of a 
sea-voyage, p. 71 ; the merchants cease to be 
honest, p. 75 ; the position of a barber in society, 
p. 76 ; tlie folk-tales mostly composed by 
women, p. 77-78 ; Storytelling an avocation 
of livelihood, how it was practised, pp. 78-80. 



CHAPTER III 

Currency of older forms' of belief amongst 
the converts to Islam in the folk-literature, 
pp. 81-97. 

The "nedas" and the " nedis," pp. 81-82; 
the folk-literatures of the Hindus and 
Buddhists before the licnaissance very much 
alike, pp. 82-81; Hindu ideas in the society of 
Muhammadan converts, p. 81 ; hymns in praise 
of the Harvest goddess, p. 85 ; the incantations 
for curing snake-bites, pp. 87-90 ; the antiquated 
language, p. 89 ; historical side-lights, pp. 90-92 ; 
Jarasura, the demoniac god of fever, pp. 92-93 ; 
recapitulation of various points at issue, 
pp. 93-9r. ; Hindu folk-tales amongst Muham- 
madans, pp. 95-97. 



CHxVl^TER IV 

Muhammadan folk-tales in Bengal, pp. 
98-11-5. 

The three main divisions, p. 98 ; Class I, 
' Satya Pir,' pp. 99-113 ; Wazed Ali's story of 
Satya Pir, p. 103 ; Siindara in charge of Sumati 
and Kumati — they try to plan his assassination — 
restored to life by Satya Pir— assassination a 
second time— Siindara goes to Kanur by means 
of the magic tree — Snndara returns home — 
transformed into a bird — the princess comes to 
Chandan Nagar — return of the elder brother — 
Sundara gets back his human shape — the joy of 
union — the punishment, pp. 108-113 ; ManikPir, 
Pizuruddin's version, p. 113; Dhuda Bibi's pride 
and misfortunes — detiaut attitude and the punish- 
ment — Manik sold to a merchant — a mean sus- 
picion and Manik thrown into fire — rescued by 
Gebrial and turns a Fakir— Ban jana's punish- 
ment and eventual restoration to good fortunes 
bv the 2;race of the Pir — the Ghosh familv — the 
mother does an Avicked act — Kami stung by a 
cobra — restored to life — they lose and regain their 
fortunes, pp. 113-122 ; historical side totally 
obscured by legends, p. 123. Class II — Pioneers 
of Islamite faith, p. 123 ; the story of Mallika, 
p. 124 ; Hanif goes on an expedition against 
Baja Varuna — the princess not only handsome 
but possessed of great physical strength — how 



CONTENTS V 

the suitors are truated — TTnihar in the oourt of 
liaja Variina — Hanif's letter to Raja A^aruua — 
preparations to meet the foe — the three days' A\'ar 
and fliglit — princess ]\rallika goes to fight — the 
duel— in the embrace of a Turk — the Raja turns 
a convert to Islam, pp. 124-134 ; Other stories il- 
lustrating the chivalrous spirit of Hanif, p. 135 ; 
Historical ballads, p. 185 ; Chaudhuri's Ladai, p, 
136 ; The song of Samsher Gazi, p. 136 — Piru 
driven by poverty — how Nasir's father gets his 
taluq — the Gazi and Sadi's wonderful physical 
strength — they hold the robber-gangs in check 
and become their head — the disastrous proposal 
of marriage — the Gazi settles at Perg Kachua — 
the appeal to Tipperah Raja — fight with the 
Raja's army — the Uzir made a captive — Nasir's 
landed estates leased out to the Gazi — declares 
war against the Raja of Tipperah — the Gazi 
worships Kali and gains the battle — his adminis- 
trative reforms — assassination of Sadi — the 
barber-brothers — to Chittagong — conspiracies 
against the Gazi — the Gazi's visit to Mursidabad 
and assassination, pp. 137-151 ; Rajkumara and 
Kishore Mahalanavis, p, 151 ; the scope of the 
rural ballads, p. 152. Class III : The folk-tales, 
pp. 152 ; what the Hindu priests gave to 
the people in the place of folk-tales, p. 153 ; 
the Muhammadans have preserved the older 
popular tales amongst them, p. 155 ; a list of 
some of these tales, p. 156 ; transmitted from a 



VI CONTENTS 

time earlier than their conversion and the Hindu 
Renaissance, p. 156 ; the reference to Hindu 
gods and goddesses, p. 157; a Hindu spirit 
permeates these stories, p 161; a deterioration of 
the lofty Hindu ideal, pp. 162-165 ; Cita-Vasanta 
as told by Golam Kader, }>. 165 ; the queen's 
presentiments; her death and the king takes 
another wife ; the brothers taken to the exeeution- 
ground; their escape; the eating of the liearts of 
the magic birds; Cita is elected a king; Yasanta 
loses his power; led to the execution-ground; is 
saved; marries a princess and is thrown into the 
sea; Vasanta holds a priestly office; the merchant 
beheaded and a happy end for otliers, pp. 165-173. 
Harinatli Mazumdar's version, p. 173. Cringi 
hears from his father the story of the Gandharva 
king ; the stepmother's machinations; banished 
from the capital and great sufferings; the elder 
])rother installed as a king; the end, pp. } 73-178. 
Lai Behary He's version, p. 178; the brothers fly 
away from the capital ; Sveta is installed as a 
king; Sveta's wife gives birth to a child, who is 
kidnapped; the re-union, pp. 178-182. Hakshina- 
ranjan's version; the stepmother's witchcraft and 
order of execution of the brothers; the escape ; 
Cita made a king; Rupavati's condition; A^asanta 
secures the rare pearl ; the transformation of the 
step-brothers into fishes ; the re-union ; the Duo 
Rani restored to her own form, pp. 182-159. The 
language of the Muhammaedan version and that 



CONTENTS Vll 

ot'Harinath, p. 189. The Paumnika elements intro- 
duced into the latter ; the up-to-date questions, 
specimen of language, pp. 189-193 ; Lai Beliary 
De's story, p. 198. The superiority of Dakshina- 
ranjan's version, p. 195. The story of Sakhi- 
sona, p. 195; Muhammad Korvanali's version; the 
Svad carries home a cohra to kill his wife; the 
cohra turns into gold coins; the strange baby in the 
earthen pot; Manik and Sakhisona in love with 
one another ; they leave the city ; in the hands of 
the dacoits; Manik kills six and is killed by the 
seventh; Manik restored to life and transformed 
into a monkey ; Sakhisona kills a serpent and 
marries the princess ; Manik restored to his own 
form; Manik marries the new princess and is happj- 
with two wives, pp. 195-202. Fakir Rama's 
version, p. 202; Kumara and Sakhisona in school; 
the inviolable promise; the princess' lament; 
they leave the palace ; the advent of the spring ; 
the cyclone; in the cottage of robbers; Kumara 
killed and restored to life; Kumara transformed 
into a goat; the re-union, pp. 202-208. Dakshina- 
ranjan's version, p. 20S; Chandan and Sakhisonil 
in school; they leave the palace ; in the cottage 
of rob])ers ; kills six and is killed by the 
seventli; restored to life; kills the cobra; 
a happy end, pp. 208-218. The deterioration 
of the original ideal of chastity in the 
Muhammadan version, pp. 220-223. Fakir 
Rama introduces classical elements, pp. 223-225; 



Vlll CONTENTS 

the excellence and genuineness of Dakshina- 
ranjan's rersion ; brevity and want of repeti- 
tion ; onomatopoetic words ; their beauty and 
pointedness, pp. 225-232. 



CHAPTER V. 

Four kinds of folk-tales, pp. 232-344. 

The Rupakathas, pp. 232-230; the wrestler 22- 
men-strong and the Avrestler 23-nien-strong, pp. 
235-238; humorous tales, p. 210; Havuchandra 
and Gabuchandra, pp. 2^^0-243; the fox in charge 
of the tortoise's young ones, pp. 213-2J^6; the 
Yrata Kathas, p. 2i6; the language of hymns, pp. 
247-248; the indigenous forms of worship among 
non-Aryans, p. 248. The deities admitted to the 
Aryan pantheon, p. 248. Maritime activities, p. 
249; agricultural elements, p. 251; the hopes and 
prayers of Bengali girls, pp. 252-254. The legend 
of the Sun-god, pp. 254-201. The Gita Kathas, 
p. 261 ; the first edition of Thakur Dada's Jhuli, 
pp. 164-166. Dakshinaranjan compared with other 
compilers of Bengali folk-tales, pp. 265-266 ; the 
story of Malanchamakij p. 267 ; the king gets a son ; 
the writings on the forehead of the baby; the baby 
to die on the 12th day; to be married to a girl of 
12 ; Malancha's condition; the baby dies and 
Malancha's punishments. In the funeral pyre ; 
the dead baby revives and Malancha's eyes 
and limbs restored, the nourishing ; in quest 



CON'JENTS IX 

of milk; of a tutor; in the flower-woman's cot; 
the discovery by the princes; impossible conditions 
for Chaudramanik ; winner of the race ; marries 
the princess and is imprisoned; Malancha resolved 
on drowning herself; the king of Chandrapur 
made a captive ; Malancha breaks all her teeth in 
breaking the chain; the havoc made by the tigers; 
the Kotawal's daughter out of question ; the un- 
flinching devotion ; in the nuptial room ; turned 
out; father-in-law speaks kindly for the first time ; 
preparations for reception; mends everything 
that went wrong; the garlanding and making the 
co-wife chief queen, pp. 267-322. Malancha's 
character analysed, p. 322 ; she cares not 
for the body, p. 325; the trial, p. 827 ; what one 
wishes one gets, p. 328 ; wife as mother, p. 329; 
the Buddhist ideas, p. 330 ; why she prizes her 
father-in-law's home, p. 331 ; self -dedication 
natural to her, p. 331 ; she wants no reciprocation, 
p. 332 ; she does not resist evil, p. 333 ; does her 
duty without caring for the result, p. 333 ; she 
speaks but little, p. 33Ji ; prefers a woodland to a 
palace, p. 335; the poetic situations, p. 337; the 
wicked are not punished but reformed, p. 338 ; 
" the chief queen " and " the goddess," p. 338 ; 
the plot, p. 339; Eolktales different from 
Pauranika stories, p. 341 ; the way of reckoning 
time, p. 312; condemnation of wicked deeds, 
p. 343 ; romance, p. 3M. 



Folk Literature of Bengal 



CHAPTER I 



striking- coincidences between some of the 
Bengali and European Folk-tales 

We need not enter into the vexed question 
of the origin of folk-tales. We may imagine 
that long before the introduction of the art of 
printing, primitive peoples sat by their blazing 
hearths in wintry nights at the close of their 
day's labour, reciting nursery tales to their 
children. The song^s and tales became trans- 
mitted from generation to generation, and long 
after a nation had scaled the height of civili- 
zation, this invaluable heritage of their primitive 
stage, recording the earliest conditions of their 
. . , social life, still supplied foun- 

The early origin of ^ ^ 

folk-tales and the talus of plcasurc and sorrow to 

moral lessons they 

convey. children, and taught them moral 



lessons — of virtue predominating over vice in the 
long run. For, every story, however crude its 
form, has an object-lesson to teach to the 



2 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL. 

young. In it " justice ahvavs prevails, active 
talent is everywhere nuccessful, the amiable 
and generous qualities are brought forward to 
excite the sympathies of the reader, and in the 
end are constantly rewarded by triumph over 
lawless power ".^ 

The early European tales are full of adven- 
turous spirit, of tights of legendary heroes with 
dragons and monsters for the acquisition of rare 
prizes. The tale of Perseus who 

The Greek legends ^ 

as folk-tales. Carried the head of the Gorgon 

Medusa in a magic wallet, — of Herakles who 
secured the golden apples from the garden of 
Hesperides and made his escape from the giant 
Atlas with the prize, — of Bellcrophon who killed 
the Chimaira with the help of the serial steed 
Pegasos, — of the encounter of Theseus with 
the Minotaur, and of the former killing the 
dragon with the help of Ariadne, — of Jason who 
fought with and killed the terrible dragon that 
guarded the Golden Eleece, with the council 
of Medeia, the enchantress, — these and other 
Greek legends, full of enterprize, physical 
daring and valour, were the fables that European 
children were accustomed to hear from their 
grandsires when civilization dawned on the 
West. These are typical stories of early Europe 
and have scarcely any oriental flavour in them. 

* Grimms' Popular Stories. Oxford University Presp, 1909, 
Preface, p. X. 



EUROPE S INDEBTEDNESS TO INDIA. 6 

But even in these early Greek tales, we occasion- 
ally come across one or two which savour of an 
exotic orif^in. The story of the miraculous 
milk-pitclier, which had the marvellous quality 
of being never empty, ohtained by Philemen and 
his wife Baukis is so like some of the Indian 
stories, that we may not be very wrong in finding 
a faint trace of Eastern origin in the fable. The 
story of Kirke, the enchantress, who could trans- 
form" princes to animals by her sorcery, has many 
a parallel in our Indian, notably Bengali, fables. 
In many of the stories prevalent in different 
countries of Europe, we find animals supporting 
the leading characters. Western 

Europe indebted to i i i? • • i.i i. 

India for its Medio, scholai's are ot opmioii that 
Sry tliieTaZ faHe^' th^se ", strongly bear the 
impress of a remote Eastern 
original "/ There is no doubt that many of the 
nursery tales travelled from their eastern homes 
to Europe in the middle ages. We know for 
certain that the Indian fables in the Pancha- 
tantra and in the Hitopodeca made a triumphant 
march to the West and ''exercised very great 
influence in shaping the literature of the Middle 
ages of Europe " r Europe imported these fables 
into her shores chiefly through their Arabic 
translations. Many of the stories are now as 

' Grimms' Popular Stories, Oxford University Press, 1909, 
Preface j.. X. 

- Macdonell's History of Sanskrit Literature, Ed. 1899, p. 421. 



4 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL. 

familiar in European countries as they have been 
in India. Among a considerably large number of 
these we may mention here the story of the milk- 
maid " who while carrying a pail of milk on her 
head to the market, and building all kinds of 
castles in the air with the future proceeds of the 
sale of the milk, gives a jump of joy at the 
prospect of her approaching fortune and thereby 
shatters the pail to pieces on the ground." This 
story, first related in the Panchatantra, was made 
familiar in Europe by La Fontaine in his charm- 
ing book of fables in 1678 A.D. The Persian 
writers copied it with slight alteration in the 
storv of Youns; Alanaschar's dreams. Another 
familiar story in the Panchatantra is that of the 
avaricious jackal, whose calculations and too 
economic wisdom ended in his tragical death by 
the bow of the hunter starting asunder and 
piercing his head. The well known line ^'S^^j 
W^ *t» has now passed into a common saying in 
this country. La Fontaine popularised this 
story in Europe. Dr. Macdonell in his History 
of Sanskrit Literature tells us "Euroj)e was 
thus undoubtedly indebted to India for its 
Mediaeval literature of fairy tales and fables".^ 
The Persians and the Arabs are also indebted 
to India for acquiring the art of story-telling. 
We quote the same authority on this point.- 

1 Ed. 1899, p. 420. 
' „ „ p. 369. 



BENGALI FOLK TALES IN EUllOPE. 5 

" The style of narration was borrowed from 
India by the neighbouring oriental peoples of 
Persia and Arabia, who employed it in composing 
independent w^orks. The most notable instance 
is, of course, the Arabian Nights." That some 
of the stories of the Arabian Nights were taken 
from Indian tales will be mentioned later on. 
But how could the folk-tales of Bengal current 
amongst her peasant folk and her women break 
through the mud-walls of the rustic liomes and 
the seclusion of the female apartments to find an 
audience in the world outside ? The Jataka 
stories, the Panchatantra, the Hitopade9a and 
even the Kathasaritsagara certainly obtained a 
world-wide celebrity in the past. Most of these 
were written in courts by royal order and com- 
manded circulation all over the world by 
authoritative translations into foreiern lansruasres. 
But the folk-tales of Beuj^al, 

How did the unwritten ^ '=' 

folk-tales of Bengal toM by villagc-women and 

travel to Europe ? 

mostly composed by them, in 
the quiet environment of shady mangoe-groves 
amidst which stood their straw-roofed mud-huts, 
— like the coy Malati flowers that bloomed in the 
evening there — did not venture to peep out and 
show themselves to strangers. What conveyances 
could carry these our family-treasures to Europe 
in the remote past ? These stories passed from 
mouth to mouth and Avere never written in 
Bengal itself, till the middle of the 16th century, 



6 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL. 

when only one of tliem is known to us to have 
been recast and written out in a verse form by 
Fakir Ram Kavibhushana. The rest, so far as we 
know, were never written till only recent times. 
HoAv could these travel to Europe ? How could 
the whispers of our own woodlands be heard on 
the shores of the Baltic, of the Mediterranian 
and the English Channel ? This could only be 
possible by the huml)ler classes of Indian people 
coming in contact with European men. No 
printing press could give publicity to what was 
never written and was chiefly confined within 
the four walls of the Zenana. We have it on 
the authority of Eirdausi, that 8ankhal, the 
king of Kanauj " sent 10,000 men and female 
Luris recruited from different parts of Northern 
India, who could play upon the lute" to the 
Persian king Behram Gor in 420 A.D. at his 
request. Tliese Luris travelled to Europe and 
settled in various parts of it and became known 
as Gypsies. Their language bears a close affinity 
to Hindi and other Aryan dialects of India. 
And the latest of these Gypsy settlements took 
place in Hungary in 1470 A.D. It may be that 
these peoj^le brought their folk-tales to Europe. 
Or who knows but that the hulls and ships which 
landed the cotton fabrics known as the Dacca 
Muslin on the European shores also landed 
our folk-stories there ! The Arab merchants 
conveyed much of oriental, notably Indian, 



STORY OF FAITHFUL JOHN, 7 

wisdom to European countries. The connection 
between Europe and Asia by means of trade 
has be(;n one of hoary antiquity. Gujarat, 
Bengal and the picturesque shores of South 
Orissa had a considerable number of ports that 
sent their sliips all over the world and were 
famous for their maritime activities in ancient 
times. It may not be wrong to suppose that our 
nursery tales travelled to other countries in 
boatmen's songs and in their half-broken 
narrations to foreign peoples whose dialects they 
could have but imperfectly acquired. Thus it will 
be seen that though the European versions of 
some these imported tales bear an undoubted 
stamp of Indian — probably Bengali oiigin, the 
details are worked out in different methods, 
proving that the outlines of our stories, rather 
than their finer shades, were gathered from 
imperfect verbal narrations of story'tellers not 
thoroughly acquainted with the speeches of 
the people before whom they were narrated. 
Some of the European scholars have proved that 
a close communication between the European 
and Asiatic races was established during the 
days of the Crusade when the folk-tales and 
the legends of the one country passed to the 
other. 

We will now show by illustrations that some 
of the folk-tales that are even now narrated in 
the lower Gangetie valley have their exact 



8 FOLK LITERATURE OP BENGAL. 

counter-parts in those which delight the young 
in European countries. The story of " Eaithful 
John" collected hy the Brothers Grimm^ is one 
such for instance. The Rev. Lai Behary Dey calls 
this the story of 'Fakirchand.' But the story has 
got other names also. It was known to us in our 
younger days as the story of the Princess Rupa- 
mala. We need not however trouble ourselves 
with the name which is a very trivial point. The 
chief actors in these stories were three birds who 
had the power to see into the future and whose 
sayings were always of a prophetic nature. Let 
us now show the leading points of similarity 
between the European and the Bengali versions. 
Edithful John attended his new King, to whom 
he was devotedly attached on his journey back 
to his capital. John was seated on the prow of 
the ship, and was playing on his flute. 
The king and his consort were very happy at 
the time. John saw three 

The storj of Faithful 

johnandofFakirohand ravcus flying iu the air towards 
him. Then he left off playing 
and listened to Avhat they said to each other, for 
he understood their tongue. The first said 
" There he (the new king) goes ; he surely has 
her, for she is sitting by his side in the ship." 
Then the first began again, and cried out "what 
boots it him ? See you not that when they 

^ Grimms' Popular Stories, Oxford University Press, Ed. 1909, 
p. 194. 



STORY OF FAITHFUL JOHN. & 

come to land, a horse of a fox-red colour will 
spring towards him ; and then he will try to get 
upon it and if he does, it will spring away with 
him into the air. so that he will never see his 
love again." " True ! true !" said the second, 
" but is there no help ?" " Oh yes, yes," said the 
first, "if he who sits upon the horse takes the 
dasro'er which is stuck in the saddle and strikes him 
dead, the king is saved, but who knows that, 
and who will tell him, that he who thus saves 
the king's life will turn to stone from the toes of. 
his feet to his knee." Then the second said : 
"True ! true ! but I know more still, though the 
horse be dead, the king loses his bride ; when 
they go together into the palace, there lies the 
bridal dress on the couch, and looks as if it were 
woven of gold and silver but it is all brimstone 
and pitch ; and he puts it on, it will burn him 
marrow and bones." "Alas ! Alas I is there no 
help ?" said the third. "Oh yes, yes," said the 
second, "if someone draws near and throws it 
into the fire, the young king will be saved. But 
what boots that ? who knows and will tell him, 
that, if he does, his body from the knee to the 
heart will be turned into stone ?" "More ! more ! 
I know more," said the third, "were the dress 
burnt still the king loses his bride. After the 
wedding, when the dance begins and the young 
queen dances on, she will turn pale, and fall as 
though she were dead, and if someone does not 
2 



10 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL. 

draw near and lift her u]) and take from her 
right breast three drops of blood, she will surely 
die. But if anyone knew this, he would tell 
him, that if he does do so, his body will turn to 
stone, from the crown of his head to the tip of 
his toe." Then the ravens flew away. Faithful 
John did fulfil all the conditions to save the 
young king and his consort from their impending 
perils, and then turned to a stone image. For he 
was obliged to state the reasons for his conduct 
which had appeared highly offensive, though he 
had to do so at the sacrifice of his life. The only 
condition on the fulfilment of which John could 
be brought back to life was that the king should 
cut off the head of his baby as soon as it was 
born, and sprinkle its blood over John's image. 
Though it was the severest trial for the 
parents to undergo, the king and the queen 
did it for the sake of faithful John. The 
sequel of the story is that John was restored to 
life and the baby also revived by the will of 
Providence. 

In the old story from Bengal, the minister's 
son plays the part of faithful John. The young 
prince with his fair bride is on his way back 
home. It is night and the married couple sleep 
under a tree finding no human habitation near. 
The minister's son keeps Avatch in order to 
prevent any danger. He overhears the follow- 
ing conversation between Bihangama and 



THE STORY OF FAKIR CHANl). 11 

Biliangami, two prophetic birds perched on a 
bough of that tree/ 

Bihangama (the male bird) — The minister's 
son will find it difficult to save the prince 
at last. 

Bihangami fthe female bird). — Why so ? 

Bihangama — Many dangers await the king's 
son ; the prince's father, when he hears of the 
approach of his son, Avill send for him an 
elephant, some horses and attendants. When 
the king's son rides on the elephant, he will fall 
down and die. 

Bihangaml. — But suppose some one prevents 
the king's son from riding on the elephant and 
makes him ride on horse-back, will he not in 
that case be saved ? 

Bihangama. — Yes, he will in that case escape 
that particular danger, but a fresh danger awaits 
him. When the king's son is in sight of his 
father's palace, and when he is in the act of 
passing through its lion-gate, the lion-gate will 
fall upon him and crush him to death. 

Bihangami. — But suppose some one destroys 
the lion-gate before the king's son goes up to it ; 
will not the king's son in that case be saved ? 

Bihangama. — Yes, in that case he will escape 
that particular danger : but a fresh danger 
awaits him. When the king's son reaches the 

' Folk-talea of Bengal by Lai Behary Dey, Macmillan & Co., 1911, 
pp. 40-42. 



12 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL. 

palace and sits at a feast prepared for him, and 
when he takes into his mouth the head of a fish 
cooked for him, the head of the fish will stick in 
his throat and choke him to death. 

Bihangami. — But suppose some one sitting at 
the feast snatched the head of the fish from the 
prince's plate and thus prevents him putting it 
into his mouth, will not the king's son in that 
case be saved ? 

Bihangama. — Yes, in that case the life of the 
king's son will be saA^ed ; but a fresh danger 
awaits him. When the prince and the princess 
retire into their sleeping apartment, and they 
lie together in bed, a terrible cobra will come 
into the room and bite the king's son to death. 

Bihangami. — But suppose some one lying in 
wait in the room cut the snake into pieces, will 
not the king's son in that case be saved ? 

Bihangama. — Yes, in that case the life of the 
kinsr's son will be saved. But if the man who 
kills the snake repeats to the prince, the conver- 
sation between you and me, that man will be 
turned into a marble stone. 

Bihangami. — But is there no means of restor- 
ing the marble statue to life ? 

Bihangama. — Yes, the marble statue may be 
restored to life if it is washed by the life-blood 
of the infant which the princess will give birth 
to, immediately after it is ushered into the 
world." 



THE INDIAN ORIGINAL. 13 

The risks are undertaken and all the condi- 
tions duly fulfilled. In the case of the Bengali 
tale the "VVazir's son is obliged to state the reasons 
for his conduct which had appeared highly 
offensive though he had told the king repeatedly 
that if he did so, he would turn to stone. The 
baby here is restored to life by the grace of 
Kali. In the Christian version this part of the 
tale is slightly altered. One need not, however, 
put any undue emphasis on the dissimiliarity bet- 
ween the details of the prophesies of the ravens 
and of Bihangama and Bihangaml. There is 
no doubt that the western hearer of the Oriental 
story introduced such alterations in the details 
as suited Ijest the conditions of Western life. 
The talk of Bihangama and Bihangaml and their 
prophecy form a familiar incident in many of the 
Bengali folk-tales. All of us have heard of such 
things in our childhood. I heard this story 
under the name of Rupamala, the young bride, 
more than forty years ago from an aged uncle of 
mine who had in his turn heard it in his child- 
hood from his grandfather on the banks of the 
Dhale9warl, as Lai Behary Dey heard the story 
under the name of Fakirchand on the banks of 
the Ganges. The story is one of great antiquity 
and its Eastern origin is acknowledged by 
European scholars. The story of Faithful John, 
" Der Getreue Johannes " passed from Zwehrn 
and Paderborn to many other countries of Europe. 



14 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL. 

The Oxford University Press, which under- 
took an English translation of Grimms' tales 
first published in 1823, made the following 
observation regarding the story of Faithful 
John : — "The tale is a singular one, and contains 
so much of Orientalism that the reader would 
almost suppose himself in the Arabian Night's 
Entertainments ". But a careful student of 
Oriental literature will see that this story is not 
of the nature of Arabian fables, characterised 
by flights of unrestrained fancy, chiefly aiming 
at amusing t?ie young. The 
BengTir'taie ^and Indian fablcs have, on the other 
"^tZ^SaS:;^. hand, a deep ethical and moral 
lesson underlying all creations 

of fancy. The idea of Salhija, of dedicating one- 
self to the service of his friend, at all costs and 
sacrifices, to open the mouth knowing its conse- 
quence to be turning into a marble statue, this 
ideal friendship in a folk-story marks it out as pre- 
eminently Indian. Nay, I am inclined to trace 
the home of this story to Bengal, the land 
of Bihangamas and Bihangamis, the birds of 
prophetic sayings in hundreds of our folktales. 

In the songs of May namati, written in the 12th 
century of the Christian era, we find an account 
of the old queen Maynamati's pursuing in a 
curious manner Goda Yama, the messenger of 
the kina: of Death, who had taken away the life 
of her royal husband, Manika Chandra. 



CHANGE OF SHAPES. 15 

"Godcl Yama became bewildered at this, 

and changed himself into a carp. The queen 

changed herself into a water-fowl and began 

to beat the carp with her 

Queen Mayiiamati'H . ,„, , , 

pursuit of Godfi Wings, ihercupon Goda Yama 
changed himself into a shrimp, 
and the queen became a gander and searched 
out the shrimp under the water. Goda Yama 
next flew up in the air in the shape of a dove, 
but the queen changed herself into a hawk and 
pursued the dove."^ 

The pursuit is continued for long, till 
Goda Yama turns himself into a Vaisnava saint 
and sits in an assembly of holy mendicants of 
that Order. The queen, changing herself into a 
fly, sits on the head of the saint. Here 
Goda Yama is caught by the queen Maynamati 
and becomes her captive. 

We find nearly an exact parallel of such 
change of shapes and pursuit of the foe in some 
of the western folk-tales and legends traced to 
about the same point of time. Here is an ex- 
tract from one of such tales : 

" Caridwen went forth after Gwin Bach, 
running. And he saw her and 

Caridweu's pursuit i i i • i r? • j -i 

of Gwin Bach. Changed himseJr into a hare 

and fled. But she changed 

herself into a greyhound and turned him. And 

* Typical Selections from old Bengali Literature, Part I, Calcutta 
University, Ed. 1914. 



16 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL. 

he ran towards a river and became a fish. And 
she in the form of an otter-bitch chased him 
under the water, until he was fain to turn him- 
self into a bird of the air. Then she, as a hawk, 
followed him and gave him no rest in the sky. 
And just as she was about to stoop upon him, 
and he was in fear of death, he espied a heap 
of winnowed wheat on the floor of a barn, and he 
dropped amongst the wheat and turned himself 
into one of the grains. Then she transform- 
ed herself into a high-crested black hen and 
went to the wheat and scratched it with her 
feet and found him out ".^ 

Of similar pursuit and change of shapes we 
have many instances in our folk-tales, an interest- 
ing example of which will be found in the story 
of Sonar-Kathi and Rupar-Kathi in Mr. Dakshina 
Majumdar's Thakunmr Jhuli (pp. 193-196). 
Many of these folk-tales are however, still un- 
written. I remember to have heard in my child- 
hood a similar story where the pursued does not 
indeed turn himself into a grain of wheat but to 
a mustard-seed. In the Gaelic legends we have 
again a similar example in the account of the 
sons of Tuirenn carrying the three apples from 
the g-arden of the Hesperides. 

The sons of 1 airenu ^ ■*■ 

pursued by the priii- " Tlic Idug of the couutry " says 

cesses of Hesperides. 

the legend, "had three 
daughters who were skilled in witchcraft. By 

^ Mabinogion, Vol. III. Taliesin p. 359, 



fiHASMALOCHANA S FIGHT. 17 

sorcery they changed themselves into three 
ospreys, and pursued the three hawks " — the 
shapes taken by the three sons of Tuirenn. 
" But the latter reached the shore first, and 
changing themselves into swans, dived into the 
sea." ' 

Many of the incidents, described in our 
Bengali Ramayanas and Mahabharatas, were 
gathered from local folklore. These do not form 
a part of the original Sanskrit epics. Such for 
instance are the legends of Bhasmalochana's 

fight in the Lanka-kanda of 
SS'lTBaZ: the Ramayana and of ^rlvatsa 

and Chinta in the Bengali Maha- 
bharata. Pandit Ramgati Nyayaratna tells us 
in his 'Bangabhasha Sahitya Vishayaka Prastava' 
that he had consulted all the Sanskrit Puraiias, 
not to speak of the original epic of Vyasa, in 
order to trace the source from which the Bengali 
writers of Miahabharata got the story of ^rlvatsa 
and Chinta but that he could not find a clue 
to it. This story is evidently a folk-tale. 
The carrying off of Chinta by a merchant whose 
ship floated in the water by her touch, the 
garden of a flower-woman long lying like a 

piece of waste-land, but sud- 
^'^cbh^^a^''^ denly smiling with flowers and 

green leaves at the approach 



1 Celtic Myth and Legend by Charles Squire, Gresham Publishing 
Co. p. 99. 

3 



18 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL. 

of Cliinta, the row taken by the heroine for 
performing a religious rite with the object of 
gaining one year's time in order to make in- 
quiries about her lord, and many other incidents 
of the story show its kinship with hundreds 
of folk-tales prevalent in Bengali ; and the 
Eev. Lai Behary Dey was right in calling this 
story a folk-tale and incorporating it as such 
in his work ou folk-literature. It was absurd 
to attempt to trace its source in Sanskrit works. 
But let us turn to that episode of the Bengali 
Ramayana in which Bhasmalochana appears 
in the battle field, to fight against Bama. This 
episode, as I have just stated, is a purely in- 
digenous tale. Here is au extract from the 
Bamayana : — 

" His chariot was covered with animal-skin, 
and he wore on his eyes leather-spectacles. 
Thus equipped Bhasmalochana, the dreaded 
hero, appeared before Rama in the battle field. 
Rama was in the company of Bibhishana and 
Sugriva. And Bibhishana gave the alarm and 
said to Rama, '* Look there. Oh lord, the hero 
Bhasmalochana is before us. Now protect us 
from him. He, on whom his gaze will fall, 
will turn into a heap of ashes. You see his 
chariot covered with animal-skin, within it lies 
the dreaded one — he is like Death. In his early 
youth he had practised austerities for a thou- 
sand years. Brahma, the creator, was pleased 



BALOR, THE GAELIC BHASMALOCHANA. 19 

with him for this, and appearing before him, 
said : " What boon Oh Rakshasa, Avould you 
have from me r" Our hero said : " Make me 
immortal, Oh creator of the universe." But 
the god said — -" You will destroy my creation 
if I do that; seek some other boon." "Then 
do I pray unto you to grant me this boon that 
my eyes be possessed of such power of destruc- 
tion that they slay all on whom their look may 
fall." Brahma granted him the boon and said: 
" Now it is all right, your gaze will wither 
all whom you may happen to see, wear a pair 
of leather-spectacles and shut yourself up in a 
room of your house." The E^akshasa hero was 
greatly delighted to have this power and 
with a view to experiment it, he gazed at his 
own followers who instantly withered as soon 
as the look of his eyes fell upon them. His 
own children and wife have a dread for him 
and none of them dares approach this unfor- 
tunate monster. Such is the foe, Oh lord, that 
has come to tight with you ; take care lest all 
of us are destroyed by his venomous gaze." 

Balor, the terrible monster-god of the Gaels 
is said to have been a son of Buarainech, i.e., 
'cow-faced.' " Though he had two eyes, one 
was always kept shut, for it was so venomous 
that it slew anyone on whom its look fell. 
Neither god nor gaint seems to have been exempt 
from its danger ; so that Balor was only allowed 



20 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL. 

to live on condition that he kept his terrible 
eye shut. On days of battle he was placed 
opposite to the enemy, the lid of the destroying 
eye was lifted up with a hook, and its gaze 
withered all who stood before it."^ 

In the story of "the giant with three golden 
hairs" in the collection of tales by the Brothers 
Grimm, a young man, whom the king of the 
country wished to murder, was entrusted by him 
with a letter to the queen in which it was written 
"As soon as the bearer of this arrives, let him be 
killed and immediately buried." The young 
The story of Chan- man, wlio had HO idea of the 

dra-hasa and that „ ,. »,ii,, 

of "the giant with coutcnts ot this latal letter, 

three hairs." i i. i • i i. i i i 

lost his way and took shel- 
ter in a hut which belonged to the robbers. 
They opened the letter when the young man 
was asleep and read the contents. Then their 
leader wrote a fresh letter in the king's name 
desiring the queen, as soon as the young man 
arrived, to marry him to the princess. Mean- 
time they let him sleep on till morning broke, 
and then showed him the right way to the 
queen's palace ; where as soon as she had read 
the letter, she had all possible preparations 
made for the wedding ; and as the young man 
was very beautiful, the princess took him willing- 
ly for her husband. 

1 Celtic Myth and Legend by Charles Squire, p. 49. 



VISHA AND VISHAYA. 21 

This story will nciturally remind one of that 
of Chandrahasa told in the Mahabharata. While 
both these stories have some strikingly common 
features in them, the one in the Mahabharata 
possesses a more romantic interest. The king, 
in this story, seads young Chandrahasa to the 
palace desiring his queen to put him to death 
immediately by means of poison. His mandate 
ran thus : "give him poison, as soon as he arrives 
at the palace". Now the word for poison in 
Sanskrit and Bengali is 'Visha.' The queen had 
an only daughter of matchless beauty and just 
grown into wamanhood. Her name was 'Vishaya" 
Chandrahasa, like the young man of Grimms' tale, 
lost his way and entered a garden, reserved for 
the use of the princess. It was a cool evening 
and the fatigue of the journey made the young 
man sleepy, so that he fell fast asleep under a 
shady tree. The princess with her attending 
maids came to that spot and w^as instantly 
smitten w^ith love for the beautiful youth. She 
saw that in his turban a letter was stuck, which 
she at once took for one from her royal father. 
She carefully opened the letter and read its 
cruel contents. Her love was the more stimu- 
lated by a feeling of deep compassion and she 
took a reed from her garden and wrote with the 
black paint which adorned her eyes one single 
letter ?[1 (ya) after the word Visha. This 
changed the spirit of the letter, for instead of 



22 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL. 

"Give him 'Vislia' immediately" it now read 
"Give hira Vishaya immediately''. So the queen, 
as soon as she read the letter, forthwith got 
Chandrahasa married to the fair princess Vishaya. 
There is a well known nursery tale which 
every Bengali hoy knows, and which seems to 
be a very old one from the language of some 
of the doggerel verses that are in it. In this, 
a fox makes a curious trade. Once a barber, 
while trying to extract a thorn from Reynard's 
nose, cuts it with his razor. To escape from a 
criminal suit, which the fox threatened to bring 
ao-ainst him, the barber presented him with his 
razor by way of compromise. The next stage 
in this trade was that the fox changed his razor 
for a cooking pot. The cook- 

The story of Hans . ' . 

in luck and that of Hlg pot WaS glVCU aWay tO a 

the tradinsr fox. , ji p j.* i 

man who gave the tox a tnisel 
crown meant for a bridegroom. This the fox 
o-ave to a bridegroom; but what was the great 
calamity of the latter when he was obliged to 
o-ive his bride to the fox as price of the crown ! 
The fox made over the bride to a drum-player, 
who gave him his drum. The fox now played 
upon the drum and song as follows, "I got a 
razor for my nose, fag dliba dub dUb, for the 
razor I got a cooking pot, fag dUbd did) dub. For 
the cooking pot I got a tinsel croAvn fag cluba 
dub dub. With the crown I made a bargain 
for a bride, fag dUba dab dub. The bride I 



THE TRADING FOX AND HANS. 23 

changed for this drum, tag (Inha diih (luh. Tag 
(Jnba dub dub is the sound of the drum at the 
interval of each line of the song and shows 
how jul)ilant, was Reynard over this trafficking 
of his. 

The story of Hans in luck, which is of popu 
lar currency and first appeared in the JFtien- 
scJielruthe, a periodical publication, in 1818, 
relates to the trade of Hans, who changed "A 
piece of silver as big as his head" — the earnings 
of his seven years' serv^ice — for a worthless pony, 
which lie again changed for a cow ; his next 
bargain was to change his cow for a pig ; the 
pig he gave to a man who gave him a goose, and 
the goose he changed for a common rough 
grinding stone. This he could not carry a long 
way, and he felt himself greatly relieved when 
the stone fell into a pond, which he had approa- 
ched for drinking water. Hans' answers to the 
grinder's questions have an unmistakable ring 
of the fox's song. The grinder asked "Where 
did you get that beautiful goose ?" "I did not 
buy it but changed a pig for it" "And where 
did you get the pig ?" "I gave a cow for it" 
"And the cow ?" '•'! gave a horse for it" "And 
the horse?" "I gave a piece of silver as big as 
my head for that". The ^tag cjuba dub dub'' is 
only wanting in the speech to make closer the 
affinity between the two stories. In Indian 
tales the beasts play an important part and the 



24 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL. 

European imitators may not always like to pre- 
serve such friendly relation with the lower ani- 
mals in their tales. 

In the story of Shit-Basanta in the Rev. Lai 
Behary Dey's folk-tales we read of the marvellous 
qualities of a fish. "If any one eats it" said the 
fisherman who caught it, "When he laughs 
maniks (diamonds) will drop from- his mouth." 
Golam Kader ^ gives us a version of the same 
story ; he tells us that the brothers Shit-Basanta 
espied two birds on the boush of a tree. One 
of them said to Basanta "If 

The heart of a bird -i • i 

that yielded diamon- auy OUC kllls mC and CUtS 

ds to its eater. 

open my heart and eats it, 
diamonds and pearls will come out of his mouth 
as often as he will wish it." In the story called 
the Salad in the Grimm Brothers' collection, 
a little old woman who was a fairy, came 
up to the merry young huntsman — the hero 
of the tale — and directed him to shoot a bird, 
saying "when it will fall dead, cut and open 
the dead bird and take out its heart and 
keep it and you will find a piece of gold 
under your pillow every morning when you 
rise.""^ It is needless to make any comment on 
the above, the similarity is striking, suggesting a 



' ^!ta-Basanta Punthi by Golam Kader Saheb, published by 
Afazaddin Ahammad from 335 Upper Chitpore Road, Garanhata, 
Calcutta, 1873, p. 18. 

° Grimms' Popular Tales, Oxford University Press, 1909, p. 310. 



THE SLUGGARDS. 25 

common source of the stories or one's indebted- 
ness to the otlier. We are inclined to suppose 
that the very extravagance of the idea proves 
its Oriental origin. The Western narrator has 
tried to improve on the crudeness of the fable 
by saying that a piece of gold would be found 
under the pillow, instead of a precious stone 
dropping from the mouth of the eater of the 
bird's heart, each time that he laughed. 

The story of the three sluggards in the collec- 
tion of the Brothers Grimm seems to have been 
also derived from some Oriental source. "The 
king of a country," thus goes on the tale, "a 
long way off, had three sons. He liked one as 
well as another, and did not know which to leave 
his kingdom to, after his death, so when he was 
dying, he called them all to him, and said, 
"Daar children, the laziest sluggard of the three 
shall be king after me." "Then" said the 
eldest, "the kins^dom is mine • 

The story of the ^ ' 

siuggaids. for I am so lazy that when I 

lie down to sleep, if any thing were to fall into 
my eyes so thit I cnild nob shut them, I should 
still go on sleeping." The second said "Father, 
the kingdom belongs to me ; for I am so lazy 
that when I sit by the lire to warm myself, I 
would sooner have my toes burnt than take the 
trouble to di-aw my legs back." The third said, 
"Eather, the kingdom is mine, for I am so lazy 
that if I were going to be hanged with the rope 
4 



26 FOLK LITERATUEE OF BENGAL. 

round my neck, and some body were to put a 
sharp knife into my hands to cut it, I had rather 
be hanged than raise my hand to do it." When 
the father heard this, he said "You shall be the 
king ; for you are the iittest man."^ 

The idea of absolute inertness and sus- 
pension of all physical energy in this story seems 
to suggest its Eastern origin. In Bengal we 
have our own story of four sluggards with which 
I trust all of you are familiar. It is not ana- 
logous to the above tale in its detail, but is 
certainly so in spirit. Though most of you have 
heard it no doubt, yet I give it below for the 
purpose of comparison. 

Once a king took it into his head to maintain 
the idle people of his kingdom by allowing them 
to live in a bungalow near his palace and mak- 
ing provision for their sustenance. When such 
easy livino; could be obtained, it proved a great 
attraction to many people of the kingdom, and 
they enlisted themselves as sluggards and lived 
in the king's bungalow without being required 
to do any work. The number of these people 
rose to a good many, so that several new houses 
had to be erected for accommodating them. 
At one time when the king passed by that part 
of his capital, he was struck by the sight of the 
large number of idlers who lived upon him. 
He now resolved to allow only the genuine 

^ Grimms' Popular Tales, Oxford University Press, 1909, p. 349. 



THE SLUGGARDS. 27 

sluggards to live there, and dismiss the rest, and 
accordingly took recourse to a device. He 
ordered his people to set fire to all these 
bungalows, which were roofed with straw. As 
soon as fire broke out, these idle people all came 
out of their rooms and fled in precipitous haste, 
except only four who remained in their room 
without showing the slightest sign of concern or 
activity. One of them who did not open his eyes, 
yet saw a great blaze through his half-closed 
eyes, said to his comrades, "flow many suns have 
risen, brother ?" The man Avhom he addressed, 
said, "Who cares to open his eyes and see what it 
is ?" The third who felt the heat of fire on his 
back said ''^i-pd" which is an unmeaning 
abbreviation of the word ''pith pore'' (my back 
burns), for he A^as so idle that he would not 
utter the full sentence but only 'pV of 'piW and 
'pd of 'pore.' The fourth advised "phi-slio" 
which in the like manner is an abbreviation of 
the sentence "phire sho" (turn your back and 
sleep). The king, who overheard their conversa- 
tion, had them instantly removed from the room, 
and when the fire was extinguished allowed 
these four men only to live in the sluggard's 
quarters, after having dismissed the rest. 

As I have already stated, Bihangama and 
Bihangami are the most important figures in 
the Bengali folk-tales. When the hero or the 
heroine falls into difficulties or dangers, the 



28 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL. 

birds are often found to come to the rescue by 
offering advice or saying prophetic things 
which are sure to be fulfilled. Their frequent 
appearance is such a characteristic element in 
our folk-tales that we are inclined to regard 
these prophetic birds to be indigenous creations 
of rural Bengal's fancy. The bringing in of 
animals as characters of popular tales, side by 
side with the human, is a special feature of 
Asiatic, particularly Indian popular fictions; 
but the prophesies of birds, with sympathies 
for the heroes and heroines, 

Prophesies of birds. i i • ^ . 

helping their achievement ot 
the marvellous and the strange, seem to be a 
distinctive feature of the Bengali fables, and 
curiously we find birds playing the same part 
in some of the European stories as they do in 
Bengali nursery-tales. Such for instance are 
the stories of the "Crows and the soldier", "The 
Robber bridegroom" and "Paithful John". The 
former of these is a Mecklcnburgh story; that 
it had an Asiatic origin seems to be hinted by the 
M. Grimm brothers by their assertion that there 
is a similar tale by the Persian poet Nisami. 

In the story of "Jorinda and Joringel" which 

is popular in the Schwalmgegend, we have the 

old woman, a very popular character in old 

Bengali folk-tales, who could 

Sorcerj'. 

change princes and sons of 
noble men to beasts by her spell. The stories of 



SORCERY — SLEEPING CITIES. 29 

'Sakhi-sonfi', to which reference will be made 
again in course of my lectures, and of 'Puspa- 
inala' give us some characters of malignant 
Avomen skilled in witch-craft The sorceress 
Kirkc, sister of King ^Eetes, had a similar 
power ; her spell was baffled by Ulysses as we 
read in the Greek legend. In the story "The 
grateful beasts" Avhich we also get from the 
Schwalmgegend, there are many points similar 
to those of a tale current among the Calmuck 
Tartars in which a benevolent Brahmin receives 
the graetful assistance of a mouse, a bear, and 
a monkey, whom he has severally rescued from 
the hands of their tormentors. 

In the Western folk-tales we have accounts 
of a whole city that fell asleep under the spell of 
magic. This we find in the story of the Rose-bud. 
We read in it how " the king and the queen and 
all their court fell asleep, and the horses slept in 
the stable, and the dogs in the court, the pigeons 
on the house-top, and the flies on the walls. 
Even the fire on the hearth left off blazing and 
went to sleep ; and the meat that was roasting 
, , , stood still, and the cook who 

The Rose-bud and 
other stories giving ^yy^g r^^ f]^r^^ time pulliuij; tllC 
accounts of sleeping i 

cities. kitchen-boy by the hair to give 

him a box on the ear for something he had done 
amiss, let him go, and both fell asleep ; and so 
everything stood still and slept soundly." An 
exact parallel of this we find in the accounts of 



30 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL. 

a sleeping city in our Dharma-mangal poems. 
The spell is cast by Inda, the thief, over 
Mainagar, the city of Lousen. Here is an 
account of how the spell worked. 

" The potter slept over the cooking-pot he 
had made, and his sister Katha rolled iu the 
dust by its side in profound sleep. The old 
weaver- woman Jaya fell dozing over her loom. 
The carpenter's wife was blowing fire into the 
hearth, her head lay near the opening of the 
hearth as she became senseless in sleep. The 
porter fell into the drain seized by sleep and his 
load was scattered in the street.^" 

The earliest Dharma-mangal poems are 
coeval with the songs of Manik Chandra and 
should be referred to the 11th or the 12th 
century of the Christian era. The story of 
'''' glmmanta-imrV or a sleeping city in D. R. 
Majumdar's collection has so many points of 
similarity Avith those of " The Rose-bud " that 
they seem evidently to have been derived from 
the same source. In my childhood I heard from 
an aged uncle of mine a folk-tale called. " The 
Bejan Shahar " The name at least shows the 
Persian origin of the story. In it I heard for 
the first time the account of a whole city falling 
asleep under a magic spell, an account that 
I have since found repeated in many Eastern 
and Western folk-tales. 

1 Typical selections from old Bengali Literature, Calcntta Univer- 
sity, p. 473 (Part I.) 



TAPAI — THE GHOST. 31 

Thus reading' these Western I'olk- stories I 
have been often reminded of those that I heard 
recited to me in my childhood in my native 
country. The tale of Rumpel- Stilts- Kin, Avhere 
naming a spirit is made a condition for escaping 
from a danger, is analogous to the story of 
Tapai, the ghost, that I heard from an aged 
relation of mine when I was a mere boy. The 
spirits in both the cases stand betrayed by their 
Rumpei-stiits-Kin ^^^^^^ carclessncss. The Bengali 

and Tapai, the ghost. g^g^^y ^,^^8 thuS :— OuCC OU a 

time an old Brahmin was travelling through a 
larsre marshv tract. It was winter and he saw 
at some distance a fire sending a glimmering 
light. As he was quaking in every limb owing 
to the severe cold, he thought of warming 
himself a little by the fire, and reaching it in all 
haste, he cried " tapai," " tapai " ("let me enjoy 
a little heat," " let me enjoy a little heat.") 
Now what was his wonder when he saw there 
a number of ghosts sitting by the fire-side and 
warming themselves ! The name of one of these 
happened to be " Tapai." The Brahmin had 
ejaculated "tapai" signifying his desire to enjoy 
the heat of the fire, which the word literally 
meant, but the ghost who bore that name asked 
the Brahmin as to why he had called him hy his 
name. The other ghosts also joined in the query, 
so that the Brahmin was not only frightened by 
the sight of this unseemly company, but for a 



32 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL. 

moment did not know what to say in reply to 
their strange question. His presence of mind 
returned, however, after a moment of consterna- 
tion, and, assuming an air of indifference, he said 
"Why? Tapai's ancestors, up to the fourth 
generation, have all heen servants in my house. 
What wonder that I should call him by his 
name ? " The other ghosts turned to Tapai 
and said, " what does the Brahmin say ? Is it 
true ? " Tapai's anger knew no hounds and he 
was immediately going to kill the Brahmin, hut 
the ghosts intervened and said " If what the 
Brahmin says is true, you can not kill him." 
"All right," said Tapai, "let him name my 
ancestors up to my great-grand- father. The 
condition is if he can name them, I will consent 
to he his servant ; if he can not, I will put 
an end to his life without any more talk." 
The Brahmin said, " But my family had a 
number of servants in those days, how can I 
remember and name them all without consulting 
my domestic register !" " x4.ll right, I give you 
three days' time. On the third day in the 
evening you are to meet us here and name my 
ancestors. If you can not, woe will befall you, 
I will not only kill you but the rest of your 
family." The poor Brahmin went home with a 
feelincc of alarm that can better be conceived 
than described. He knew that in three days 
all would be over with him. He ate nothing 



TAPAI — THE GHOST. 33 

nor had any sleep in the nii^ht, and in reply to 
a hundred questions put by his wife, only sighed 
and hid his face with his hands to conceal his 
tears. The inmates of the house thought that 
there was something wrong in his head and 
consulted physicians. The second night came ; 
in the evening of the following day the catas- 
trophe was sure to happen, as there could he no 
escape from the infuriated ghost. In the night 
the Brahmin resolved to commit suicide. He 
thought if he did so, the cruel fate to which 
other members of his family were to be subjected 
might be averted as the anger of the ghost 
would be, to a certain extent, appeased by seeing 
his corpse. But he could find no place in his 
house, where he could apply a halter to his neck 
without being observed. So he walked a little 
distance and reached a forest on the northern 
side of the house. There he selected a spot to 
hang himself on a tree. But just as he caught 
hold of a bough to tie the rope with, he heard 
a conversation in a nasal tone peculiar to the 
ghosts and stood a moment to listen to it. One 
said " What is it that I hear from some of the 
ghosts ? A Brahmin has claimed the whole of 
your ancestors to have been born-slaves to his 
family ! " The other said, " Nonsense ! the 
Brahmin said whatever came to his lips in a 
moment of fear. I will kill him and his whole 
family in the evening to-day. I have laid 



34 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL. 

an impossible condition on him." " What is 
that ?" " To name my ancestors up to the fourth 
generation" " But what, if he is able to name 
them ?" " Absurd ! how can he do that ? No one 
knows it except myself and some very old ghosts". 
The conversation was of course between Tapai 
and his wife who lived on the top of that tree. 
The wife then wanted to hear the names of 
Tapai's forefathers, and Tapai once or twice 
saying " No", at last yielded to her entreaties, 
and said " Harmoo's son w^as Sarmoo, Sarmoo's 
son was Apai, and Apai's son is Tcipai." The 
Brahmin of course heard this genealogy which 
was a perfect God-send to him. He committed it 
to memory and returning home wrote it a 
hundred times in his note-book ; he looked 
extremely jubilant and his wife and others 
could not understsnd how such a cloud was 
removed from his looks and how it became all 
sun-shime in a day. We need not folio w this 
story further. This story bears, as I have said, 
some analogy to that of Rumpel-Stilts-Kin in 
M. Grimm's collections. The spirit in that 
tale was heard to sing a song in which at 
a careless moment, he gave out his name 
himself. The queen of this story escaped a 
great scrape by this revelation. The song 
runs thus : — 

" Merrily the feast I'll make. 
To-day I'll brew, to morrow bake, 



SUKIIU AND DUKHU. 35 

Merrily 1^11 dance and sing-, 
For next day will a stranger bring, 
Little does rny lady dream, 
Rumpel-Stilts-Kin is my name." 

If we turn over the pages of Grimm's tales 

The stories of Sukhu. '''^ ^^^^^^^ ^^^^P ^^^"^S '^^mck 

Dukhu and Mother by a E^rcat many of them bear- 

Holle . * 

ing a wonderful likeness to 
the stories current in this country from olden 
times. The tale of " Sukhu ar Bhukht" in the 
Thakurmar Jhuli has an almost exact parallel 
in that of '' Mother Holle" in Grimm brother's 
collections, while the tale of Ashputtel also in 
the latter is to some extent analogous to the 
same Bengali tale. 

The poor girl Dhukhu in the Bengali tale is 
entrusted by her mother to put some cotton 
before the sun for drying it up. The wind sud- 
denly blows and the cotton is carried away. 
Dhukhu begins to weep, whereupon the wind 
says," " Come with me Dhukhu, do not cry, I 
will return your cotton." Dhukhu follows the 
wind, weeping. In the Avay a cow says to 
Dhukhu, " Dear girl, come and remove my dung 
from this shed." The girl feels sympathy for 
the animal and does as she is bid. Then she 
again follows the wind. A banana plant calls 
her and says, "Dear girl, see, these weeds and 
creepers have covered my trunk, be kind to 
remove these." The girl stops again and lends 



36 FOLK literatuhe of bengal. 

her helping hand. Then she follows the wind 
as fast as she can go, hut stops to listen to the 
call of a shawra plant which asks her to re- 
move the dirt that has gathered at its root. 
Doing that she goes again following the course 
of the wind, hut a horse calls her in the 
way to give it a little grass. She does so, and 
then the wind hrings her to a very fine house, 
w^Iiere she meets an old woman sitting hy the 
door. She asks Dhukhu to go into a room of 
the house and get from it dress and other 
things for her toilet. She goes and finds the 
room glittering with golden rohes and toilet-, 
articles of the highest value. She takes for 
herself those that are of the humhlest quality 
and price. She is asked to hathe in the tank 
which she does, and no sooner does she dip 
into the wiiter, than she finds her person grown 
wonderfully handsome and shining with orna- 
ments that are only worn hy a princess. The 
old Avoman then asks her to enter a room full 
of trunks and chests of various sizes and quality 
and tells her to take any one from them. Our 
Dhukhu takes one that is the smallest and of 
the lowest value. Then she goes hack home. In 
the way the cow, the hanana, the shawra plant 
and the horse whom she has severally served give 
her many rich and heautiful things. After re- 
turning home she shows all these to her cousin 
Shukhu who Avas in affiuent circumstances, 



SITKHU AND DTJKHU. 37 

wishing her to partake in all that she has got, 
jointly with her. But Shukhu disdainfully 
rejects her oiter. The next day Dhukhu opened 
the small chest, from which lo ! a prince came 
out, and, taking her by the hand made her 
his wife. 

That day Sukhu put some cotton in the sun 
and then when the wind carried it oiT, fol- 
lowed the wind, wishing to be in possession 
of a fortune like her relation. Sukhu met 
the cow, the banana, the sliawra plants and 
the horse. They wanted her help, but she 
said in a haughty tone, " I am going to the old 
woman for riches, away, you fools, do'nt inter* 
rupt me." Then when she saw the old woman 
spinning at th^ door of the house, she said, 
" Old hag, you have given lots of things to that 
dog-faced Dhukhu ; keep away your spindle and 
cotton, and give me all things, or I will break 
your spindle and all." The toilet-room was 
shown her and she took away the best dress, the 
best looking-glass and the most valuable things. 
Then as she bathed in the tank, she found 
herself deformed, her body became full of 
eczema and itch, and she could not speak 
except in a shrill nasal tone. She Avas asked 
to choose a box like her cousin, and she took 
the biffo'est one, and with it ran back home- 
wards. The cow pursued her with its horns ; 
the banana and the shawra plants threw 



38 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL. 

their boughs over her head, and the horse 
gave her a kick. Coming home she opened 
the chest ; hut lo ! a cobra came out and ate 
her up. 

The poor girl of the tale— ^' Mother Holle" 
went to seek her spindle that had fallen into 
a well and came to a pretty cottage by the 
side of a wood ; and when she went in, she 
saw an oven full of new bread baking, and 
the bread said " Pull me out, pull me out or 
I shall be burnt, for I am done quite enough." 
So she stepped up quickly, and took it out. 
Then she went on further and came to a 
tree that was full of fine rosy cheeked 
apples, and the tree said to her " Shake 
me ! shake me ! we are quite ripe." So she 
shook the tree, and the apples fell down like 
a shower, until there were no more upon the 
tree. Then she went on again, and at length 
came to a small cottage where an old woman 
was sitting at the door. She behaved so well 
that the old woman was highly pleased with her; 
and when she expressed her desire to go back 
home, the old woman took her by the hand and 
led her behind her cottage "and as the girl 
stood underneath, there fell a heavy shower of 
gold, so that the girl held out her apron and 
caught a great deal of it." And the old Avoman, 
who was a fairy, put a shining golden dress over 
her, and said "All this you shall have, because 



MOTHER IIOLLE. 39 

you have behaved so Avell;" and she gave her 
back the spindle too which had fallen into the 
well and led her out by another door." 

Now her sister, who was an ugly and wicked 
girl, envied her lot and sat by the well and 
began to spin ; she let fall her spindle into the 
well and seeking it followed the same path. 
When she came to the oven in the cotta2:e, the 
bread called out as before, "Take me out, take 
me out, or I shall be burnt, I am done quite 
enough." But the lazy girl said "A pretty story 
indeed 1 just as if I should dirty myself for you !" 
and went on her way. She soon came to the 
apple tree that cried "Shake me, shake me, for 
my apples are quite ripe" But she answered "I 
will take care how I do that, for one of you may 
fall on my head." So slic went on. Atlength she 
came to the old Pairy's house; but she was soon 
tired of the girl and turned lier oif, but the lazy 
girl was quite pleased at that, and thought to 
herself "Now the golden rain will come." Then 
the fairy took her to the same door, but when 
she stood under it, instead of gold, a great kettle 
full of dirty pitch came showering upon her. 
"That is your wages" said mother Holle (the 
fairy) as she shut the door upon her. So she 
went home quite black with the pitch. 

The story of Tom Thumb has many points 
of agreement with that of "Per Angule" in 
Daksina Ranjan's compilation. As to some of 



40 FOLK LITERATURE OE BENGAL. 

the adventures of Tomb, a writer in the Quarterly 
Review (No. XLI) traces their connection with 
some of the mysteries of Indian mythology. The 
story of " Der Angule " current in Bengal, 
details the adventures of a child born to a wood- 
man, no bigger in size than a thumb and a half. 
Tom was also of the height of a thumb, and, 

like his Bengali cousin, was 
'DcrTno-ukv " ^ '^""^ f^H of hcroic cntliusiasm and a 

spirit of enterprise. The wood- 
man of the East and the West had been both 
childless at first and got their dwarfish issues 
after long prayers and patient waiting. There is 
another story in Grimm's collections which has 
a kinship with these two fables. That is the 
story of "The Young Giant and the Tailor." It 
begins with the line "A husbandman had once 
a son, who was no bigger than my thumb." In 
some of these kindred tales, Tom is represented 
as gradually growing in size, till he becomes a 
giant; his achievements are all wonderful. In 
England there is the story of Jack the giant- 
killer, a name-sake of Tom ; and in some of the 
countries of the north, he is called by different 
names, such as Tom Hycophric, the son of the 

Bear &c. He is a voracious 

Jack the sriant killer . i«t , • t tt i l 

and the wrestier-22 ©atcr lilvC a tigcr and Herbert 
men strong, j^^ j^-^ Icelandic poctry des- 

cribes him as eating "Eight salmons and an ox 
full-grown and all the cates on which women 



EASTERN AND WESTERN TALES 41 

feed." And he drank three firkins of sparkling 
mead." But all this is child's action before the 
feats of Bayis Joan (lit. the \rrestler, 22 men- 
strong) who takes a bag containing 80 lbs, of 
wheat with him and, seeing a tank before him, 
throws the wheat into it and drinks off the whole 
solution. This was, hoAvever, his '^jalayoga^^ 
light refreshment. 

The folk-tales collected by some of our own 
men like Dakshina Ranjan Mitramajumdar, Lal- 
bihary De, Golam Kader, Mahammed Munslii, 
Amiruddin Ahmad, Khondakar Jabed Ali, 
Munslii Afciruddin, Harinath Majumdar, Fakir- 
ram Kabibhusana and others have come from 
the country-side. They have been told in our 
homes times without number, from an immemo- 
rial age, before any door was opened in them for 
receiving rays of European or even Moslem 
culture. The compilers in a few cases have 
given some colouring to the stories on the lines 
of classical scholarship and modern thought. 
This I will discuss in the course of my lectures. 
Entirely free from all such colouring are the 
stories in Thakur Dadar Jhuli by Babu Dakshina 
Ranjan, which thus possess a unique value, 
unfolding the true nature of some of our indi- 
genous stories and a language in which the ring 
of the original country dialect still lingers. 

The striking analogies, Avhich are no chance 
coincidences, between these stories of the East and 
6 



42 FOLK LITEBATURE OF BENGAL 

West remind us of what has been acknowledged 
by European scholars themselves, that in the olden 
times the debt of enlightenment and culture was 
one of Europe to India, as in our times it 
has been quite the opposite. In India the 
highest culture and refinement were for ages 
represented by Magadha, from the ruins of which 
have now sprung up some of the cities and towns 
of Bengal, her genteel society inheriting the 
traditions and ideas that floated in the metro- 
politan city of the old Indian world. Owing to 
Lower Bengal, the Banga proper, having been 
one of the landing shores of enterprising foreign 
peoples who traded with India, it is no wonder 
that Bengal, or more properly Magadha, folk- 
literature has obtained a worldwide circulation. 
The north-western border-lands of Bengal wdiere 
Kapilabastu stood, which with the light of Bud- 
dhism pierced the veil of darkness that had en- 
shrouded the surrounding countries in the remote 
past, the south-eastern portion from which the 
cotton fabrics, known as the Dacca muslin went 
out to other parts of the world as the most valued 
and fashionable cloth of the ancient times, and 
Magadha, Champa and Banga, the great political 
divisions of the province in those days — were in 
touch with the rest of the world influencing the 
civilization and modes of life of millions of human 
beings. And wliat wonder that the folk-lore of 
this favoured land should travel to remote 



EXCELLENCE OF BENGALI FOLK-TALES 43 

countries in tlie sliips oC Bengal laden with her 
merchandise ? The Oxford University which 
puhlished a translation of Grimm's tales has 
appended a note saying "It often seems difficult 
to account for the currency among the 
peasantry on the shores of Baltic and the forests 
of the Hartz, of fictions which 

Eastern India 
giving her folk- WOUld SCCm to bclong to tllC 
tales to the world. , , • , en i i • 

entertamments or the Arabians, 
yet involved in legends referable to the highest 
Teutonic source." "The Thousand and One 
Ni2:hts " is with Occidental scholars a Avord 
to signify the Asiatic type, but should not 
be taken in its too literal sense. It is 
used here as comprehending all tales derived 
from Arabia, Persia, India and other Asiatic 
countries. 

The similarities I shall further detail in 
course of my lectures. We have observed that 
European scholars have themselves admitted that 
the mediaeval folk-literature of their country 
was founded upon Indian fables imported into 
their shores chiefly through Arabic translations. 
They have also proved that Arabic and Persian 
tales are in a great measure indebted to Indian 
folk-literature. The Indian folk-stories must 
therefore have some special excellence and 
claim to superiority which made them the 
models to be copied by peoples far and near. 
The Katha sarit sagara is a store house of such 



44 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

fables. The Panchatantra, the Hitopodesa and 
the Jataka stories originated in Magadha, on 
the rains and remnants of whose glory stands 
the Bengal oP to-day. 

Where lies the superiority of the folk-litera- 
ture of Eastern India, Avhich accounts for its 
world-wide circulation ? Oriental scholars have 
pointed out that the ethical lessons contained 
in Indian stories form their chief attraction. 
These have their match in old ^Esop's stories, 
and some of tlie Teutonic fables which originat- 
ed in the North and have been current in 
England ever since the time of Hengist and 
Horsa and of Ebba the Saxon. 

We have, however, a limited number of 
Bengali stories, which are not of the same nature 
as those that have been coj^ied by foreign nations. 
These have come down to us from the Buddhist 
times, and their striking excellence from literary 
and cesthetic points of view have come upon us 
like a surprise. They are not to be valued merely 
because "they made long nights short," Avhen we 
were children ; no apology is needed in recom- 
mending them, on the plea of antiquity or of a 
primitive rustic origin. They are specimens of 
lyrical excellence, of superior art in style and 
the construction of plot that seem almost un- 
paralleled in folk-literature. 'J hese stories show 
Bengal to be the true home of folk-tales in a sense 
in which perhaps no other country can claim 



EXCELLENCE OF BENGALI FOLK-TALES 45 

such a place in the worhl's literature. The stories 
of ^ankhamfUa, Puspanialjl and Malaucharnala, 
composed in the rural dialect of this country, 
contain in them elements of purity, conception 
of love and moral feeling which indeed evince 
a high stage of civilization. Written in prose, 
interspersed with songs, they have all the attri- 
butes of master-pieces of lyrics, of which any 
nation could be proud. It will l)e wrong to sup- 
pose that they were meant for children ; people 
in that case would like to turn into babies 
in order to hear these marvels of poetic fiction. 
The smell of fresh buds is in them ; the charm 
of poetry — of rural life, the love of pure women, 
the wreatli of juvenile mirth, which is of eternal 
delight to the old, the renunciation of saints 
and the devotion of martyrs — have all combined 
in these unassuming tales rendering them sub- 
lime and beautiful in every sense of the words. 
I shall dwell upon these stories towards the end 
of my present course of lectures. The copyists 
and imitators from outside have approached 
many of our stories in such a way as to introduce 
them by a change of garb into their own 
countries ; but the inimitable beauty of Malan- 
chamala's character, of Kanchanmala's devo- 
tion and Rupalal's remorse for rejecting a true 
Avife, possess a unique Bengali grandeur, which 
can be admired, but cannot be taken away and 
be adapted to other climes by changing the 



46 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

language, any more than a Tajmalial or a 
Pyramid can be removed and shewn off from any 
other spot of the eartli than where they stand 
now. The character of Malanchamala, especi- 
ally, is peculiarly an Indian conception and 
gives us the flowering point of Hindu and 
Buddhistic ideals, and, like a 

Tlie GTtikatlias. -w . i.i f, t i- , t 

big lily 01 an Indian tank, 
is beautiful when shewn from its congenial 
back-ground of this tropical country of ours. 
It will scarcely stand the frosty chill of 
North-western realism. Like Savitri Malan- 
clia wins her dead husband back to life ; she is 
devoted to him as Sita of the immortal bard of 
Tamasa ; in her martyrdom she reaches the 
level of a Sikh Guru ; and in endurance she can 
be compared only to an Indian yogi. She is 
the very spirit of renunciation^the essence of 
what Buddhist and Hindu philosophers have 
taught for ages. These have filtered down to 
the lowest stratum of our society and been 
assimilated by them, rendering the rural life 
of Bengal grand in its simplicity and sweet 
and resigned in its faith. The sunshina and 
the clouds of life, its lights and shades, 
laughters and tears are all in these simple 
folk-tales. They possess the epic grandeur 
of Valmiki and the lyric beauty of Jaydeva. 
How fortunate the country whose men and 
women heard these stories in their childhood 



EXCELLENCE OF 33ENGAL1 FOLK-TALES 47 

from the lips of their mothers and started in 
life with the invaluable treasure of devotion 
and poetry contained in them, and how unfor- 
tunate the country whose men and women, in 
the eagerness to play the parts of the vainglorious 
and the showy, have thrown away, as it were, 
diamonds from their ancestral treasure and often 
run after trinkets of no value ! ihese superbly 
beautiful stories are called the Gitikathas. Their 
authors' names are lost, though we shall try to 
prove that women for the most part composed 
these marvellous tales. As the stream of the 
Ganges passes by our doors to satisfy our thirst 
and daily needs and we forget that it comes to us 
from a lofty peak, as the rays we warm ourselves 
Avith serve us the ordinary needs of life and we 
forget that they come from the greatest Orb of 
the solar regions, even so the master-minds that 
could conceive and produce such stories have 
remained unheeded and unrecognised even by 
those who have profited most by these unique 
treasures. Beiug within our easy reach they have 
been mistaken for the ordinary and the common- 
place. But they are no ordinary folk-tales, — their 
prose style, resonant Avith musical sound, some- 
times lapses into metrical forms which become 
lyrics of great beauty ; their workmanship is often 
rich as Persian carpets that should not be con- 
founded with Bazar mats. But we reserve the 
treatment of this subject for the present. 



48 FOLK LTTKRA.TURE OF BENGAL 

Alagadha was the seat of some of the 
i^reatest lines of ilovaj dynasties that ever reis^ned 
in India in Ingone times. The Manryas, the 
Sungas and the Guptas were sovereigns who 
held suzerainty over a great 
the seats of son,e pai't of India; and the capital 
of ti.e early Indian q£ Magadha, Pataliputra or 

Kushnmpur, was during cen- 
turies not only the liighest reputed seat of 
learning in this land, l)ut amusements and 
fashions flowed from this centre to all parts 
of India — nay, even outside this great country. 
It was in this place that Yisnucarmji wrote those 
fables in the Pourtli or fifth century, which 
combined interest for the young Avith moral 
lessons. These fables were translated into 
Persian by Burzubi, the illustrious physician of 
the court of the Emperor Nasirban in the sixth 
century. The translator was helped in the 
compilation of this translation by an Indian 
Pandit named Braja Jamehar. In the ninth 
century the tales were translated into * rabic 
by Imam Tloshen Abdul Mokaka by the order 
of Kaliph A. Mansabji. In the tenth century 
Sultan Mahammad Gaji had these tales again 
translated into xlrabic. Since then we have had 
many translations of this work into Hebrew, 
Greek, and Syrian languages. The Hebrew 
translation Avas prepared by a scliolar named 
Dunn, and his translation served as a model for 



BENGAL IX EAULY EUROPEAN TKADH'TONS 49 

other scholars wlio have translated it into the 
modern languages of Europe. The tales of 
Vi5nu9arma are known in England as "IMlpay's 
fables/' 

When the glory of Magadha was extinguislied 
Gaur rose to eminence over its ashes ; and the 
flower of the Magadha population for the most 
part migrated to Bengal. During the reign of the 
Pal kings, Gaur kept up the tradition of learning 
and other glories that had attached to the name 
of Magadha ; and we find that the ballads of Pal 
kings were not only sung in the Gangetic valley 
but in the picturesque hilly sides of Orissa, nay, 
so far down as the shores of the Indian ocean, 
in the Bombay presidency. The songs in honour 
of Manasha Devi, the home of which was the 
city of ChamJ)a in Bengal, travelled on the 
lyres of minstrels from Gaur to the remotest 
part of Aryavarta. We have discussed this 
jioint at some length in our Introduction to 
the Typical Selections from old Bengali Literature 
and tried to solve the historical question involved 
therein. 

The connection of Bengal with the rest of 

the Avorld is hinted at by many legends current 

in other countries. In one of 

Eeng-al in the eaiiv Jirjiiji , i p i • 

Euroi)oan folk-lesends. tilC lOlk-taleS, tO DC lOUUd Ul 

Bosching's Yolks-sagen, called 
"Cherry or the Erog-bride" the condition laid 
by the old king on his sons, all of whom wished 

7 



50 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 



to be the heir to his kingdom, was to bring him 



"one hundred ells of cloth, so fine", the king said, 
"that I can draw it through my golden ring."^ 
This evidently refers to the Dacca muslin. King 
Arthur's porter vaunted of his experience and 
travels in this way : — "I have been heretofore in 
India the Great and India the Lesser."- I do not 
know if Bensral was included in those davs in 
'India the Great' or in 'India the Lesser.' |But it 
must have been in one of them. If there is any 
substratum of truth in the Arthurian legends, 
the porter of that king must have been the first 
British visitor to Bengal. 

In view of the remarkable coincidences 
between some of the folk-tales of Bengal and 
those current in the West, especially as they 
have all an unmistakable Eastern flavour, we 
may not be wrong in supposing, as Ave have 
already supposed, that some of the fables of 
this country passed from the banks of the 
Ganges and the Padma to the shores of the 
Baltic and the Enpjlish Channel There are 
many points strikingly common, and we have 
but given a very few illustrations. The enquiring 
scholar will find heaps of evidence on this 
point, and re-echo the sentiments of Lalbehary 
De, who while discussing this subject enthusiasti- 
cally said, "The swarthy and half-naked peasant 

1 Grimm's tales, Oxford edition, p. 268. 
- Mabinogion, Vol, II, p. 255. 



ARABIC AND PERSIAN TALES 51 

on the hanks of the Ganges is a coushi alheit 
of the hundredth remove, to tlie fair-skinned 
and well-dressed Englishman on the hanks of 
the Thames."^ 

There is one point, to which I should 

draw your attention, in regard to the claims 

of other Eastern countries 

The special features of ,i n ,i 

the Arabic and Persian tlian OUr OWU, On SOme of the 
tales as contrasted f^il, ^..,^^ . ^c t:^„,.^„ 

with those of Indian. lolk-tales ot Europc, posscssmg 
an unmistakable stamp of 
Oriental origin. The genuine Arabic and 
Persian tales have less regard for the 
moral side than those that are Indian. In 
most of the Indian stories the animals are 
acting characters, whereas in Arabic and 
Persian tales the giants and fairies play the most 
important parts. The tales of the Moslem world 
relate more to wonders performed by super- 
human agencies and give a far more sensuous 
description of love-affairs, whereas the Indian 
stories have a greater solicitude for giving 
rewards to virtue and humanity and protection 
to the weaker and the more amiable against 
the wily and the violent. The fairy of the 
Arabic and Persian tales is in Indian stories a 
nymph of Indra's heaven and the demon of the 
former is a Eaksasa in the Indian tale. 

1 Folk-tales of Bengal, Preface, p, VIII, 



CHAPTER 11 



Internal evidences in tlie early Bengali Folk=tales 

proving their Origin before the Hindu 

Renaissance 

Story-telling was an art practised in India 
story-teiii.ig a from immemorial times. We see 
^"fts'r^Tl in the Eamayana that in the royal 
fs''ea°aiiy''''''of court of Kekaya, prince Bharata 
women. ^y.^^ Qj^g ^[^y entertained by tales 

told by professional story-tellers, when he Avas 
sad and gloomy on account of a bad dream that 
he had dreamt in the preceding night. In the 
Bengali Ramayana by Chandravali/ Sita in her 
private apartments is found to amuse herself 
with listening to tales by professional story- 
tellers who were women. In the folk-tales of 
Bengal we have it repeated again and again 
that the princesses and other ladies of high rank 
kept these professional women as companions 
whose business was to tell stories affordins^ not 
only amusement bat sound instruction as regards 
morality and laws of conduct. In Lai Behary 
Dey's collection of tales we have an account 
as to how these stories which were called 
Bupakathas used to be told by old and expert 



^ A 16tli centniy poetess, daughter of Uija BanK;!, the illustrious 
poet of the Manaia-cnlt. 



STORY TELLING — A PROrESSION 58 

women lo the ladies oC high-rank and even to 
the kini:j and to his queen. ^ In the story of 
Malancha Mala^ compiled hy Babu Dakshiiia- 
ranjan "\ve have aj^ain a reference to the Pvupa- 
kathas told by a professional woman to a princess. 
In fact the Hindu kings not only had such 
story-tellers engaged in the queen's palace but 
kept a number of them in their courts. Even 
in our own times we find this custom, which 
has come down from a remote antiquity, followed 
by some of the Rajas of this province. Late Babu 
Bharatchandra Sen of Dhamrai in the district 
of Dacca, was appointed not very long ago, by 
Baja Birachandra Manikya of Tippera as the 
story-teller of his court on a pay of Rs. 00 a 
month. I had an opportunity of hearing a story 
related by this gentleman. His intonation, ges- 
tures and manner of speaking added a wonderful 
poetic vividness to the story that he related. 
And I knew that he had learnt this ait from 
professional story-tellers — an art that had been 
handed down from a very remote age. 

Let us now examine the various sources of 
Bengali folk-tales that have been accessible to 
us. An examination of these will throw a light 
on the periods of their composition. 

We shall try to prove that most of our 
folk-tales that the old ladies recited to their 

^ Vide the adventures of two tbieves and of their sons, pp 176-77, 
in the Folk-tales of Bengal (1911). 
^ Thakur Dadar Jhuli, p. 90 (1912). 



54 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

cbildren in the past, and which tlie women-folk 
in the backwoods of Bengal still do recite to 
the young in the evenings, belong to the period 
intervening between the age of the ascendancy of 
Buddhism and its decline in Bengal. This period 
may be defined roughly as covering the third to 
tenth century A.D. The reasons leading 
to this conclusion may be summed up as 
follows. 

1. We have some definite internal proofs 
that most of these stories were conceived before 
the Hindu Benaissance and also before the 
advent of Islam in this country. 

As re2:ards the literature of the Hindu Renais- 
sance, the characteristic feature 

The early folk-tales of thls pCriod is its abuudaut 
are different from i , i o i ' , 

Pauranic stories. rcierences to tiic Sanskrit epics. 

The Pauranic stories, which in 
later times took the place of folk-tales, such as 
the legends of Dhruba, Prahlada, and a hundred 
others that derived their sources from the 
Bhagavata, the Bamayana and the Mahabharata, 
are full of the propaganda of the Bhakti-cult. 
They offer a striking contrast to ethical laws 
which governed the Indian communities during 
the sunny days of Buddhism. In the folk-tales 
these ethical laws form the basis of human 
virtues, and seldom do we find any propagandism 
of the tenets of Bhakti, such as recitation of 
God's name, fast, vigil and austerities undergone 



OUR RENAISSANCE LTTKRATURE 55 

for the sake of spiritual devotion Avliich form 
the essential feature of the Pauraiiic stories. 
There is besides nowhere in the earlier folk-tales 
any allusion to the Ujlmayanic or ]Mahabharata- 
episodes, nor to those wliich relate to the early 
life of Krisna as told in the Bhagavata. The 
Bengali poems written from the 14^th century 
A.D. downwards are permeated hy the spirit of 
Pauranic-lore, and as we have frequently re- 
marked elsewhere, even low-class people such 
as the hunter Kalaketu and Phullara, his wife, 
who were absolutely without any knowledge of 
letters, are found to refev to the Shastras and 
Pauranic tales in their daily conversation. 
Wherever there is any occasion to offer advice 
in political, social or domestic matters, examples 
are freely quoted from the Sanskrit texts. So 
great was the craze for citing the Puranas, that 
even a country pedagogue while giving elementary 
lessons to boys would sometimes be found to bring 
doAvn some great heroes of the Puranas to figure as 
chief actors in a mathematical puzzle. Sometimes 
Arjuna and sometimes Karna fling a number of 
arrows under complicated mathematical condi- 
tions, but more often the mighty ape-god 
ifanuman throws down a stone-wall into a river, 
the measurement of the stone, so far as it lies in 
its watery bed and so far as it rises above, form- 
the problem to outwit a student. In the 
earlier folk-tales, as I have said, this Pauranic 



56 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

element is absolutely wanting, which shows that 
they are at least older than the 13th century when 
the Hindu revival was an established fact in 
Bengal. Nay, there are evidences in these tales 
which show that the idea of the authors of the 
folk-tales about the Puranas and 

12 Vedas and 8 ,-, -rr i- j ' n ^• 

Pmrinas. the Vcdas was not in the lines 

of the Brahminic leaders of the 
Hindu Benaissance. In the tales of Madhumala 
and of Malanchamala we find a mention of 12 
Vedas and 8 Puranas which is quite against the 
historical and conventional notions of the Hindus. 
This tradition the country-folk must have derived 
in an earlier age from other sources than tlie 
stock-in-trade learning of the Hindu revivalists. 
Por in the literature that sprang up after the 
revival, Brahminic vie^vs and ideas in such 
matters are clearly pronounced; even the village 
scribe who wrote with his reed-pen, be he so 
humble as a barber or a washerman, could not put 
down anything in black and white which did 
not bear the stamp of Brahminic inspiration. 

2. The metaphors and similes with which the 
Benaissance-literature is strewn are all stereo- 
typed and of a classical model, in the Bengali 
literature from the 13tli to 18th century. Por 
the beauty of a nose the poet 

The Panrruiik nieta- • j. j? i £ 

pjjo,.j, is sure to refer by way ot com- 

parison to the tila-^ower, for 
the lips to the haiulliull, for manly arms to the 



OUE RENAISSANCE LITERATUllE 57 

elephant's trunk, for the teeth to pome- 
granate seeds, for the face to the lotus or the 
moon, for the braided hair to a black snake or 
clouds, and so forth. Read one poet's descrij^tion 
of a woman's beauty and then read a second, a 
third, a fourth, in fact as many as you like ; one 
is as good as another. The gifted poet writes 
in an inspired language, the ordinary votary to 
Parnassus writes in plain words, but the model 
which both the genuine poet and the common 
versifier have before them, is a classical one ; 
the Sanskrit Rhetoric, in its stereotyped form, 
inspires both. These descriptions of men and 
women in the old Bengali literature have often 
grown stale, flat and wearisome. When the 
Pandits learnt Persian, the descriptions became 
ingenious and subtle to the extreme ; and the 
^rupa-varnanZC formed one of the favourite sub- 
jects of the country bards for display of all the 
wit and learning that their brain possessed. 
It is said by a poet in praise of a woman's waist, 
that one could hold it within the hollow of his 
hand, it was so slender. Even in this, he fell 
far short of the ideal waist of the Persian poet 
who said of his heroine " Her waist was like a 
liair nay, half of it." One might argue that 
this was all the ingenious nonsense of the few 
Pandits who wrote Sanskritic Bengali ; the 
absence of such things in the Bengali folk- 
tales only proves that they were composed 
8 



58 FOLK LITERATURE OP BENGAL 

by the unlearned who did not know Sanskrit 
or Persian nor cared for any classical 
rules. This however is not true. For, as I 
have already said, from after the 13th century 
A.D. no Bengali poem was written till the 18th 
century, however humble its author, who did 
not introduce classical similes and figures for 
adorning his poem. We tind the 16th century 
poet Madhusudan, who was a barber, literally 
caught in the meshes of classical metaphors.^ 

What a sense of relief do we feel while 
reading these old folk-tales ! The long descrip- 
tions of a heroine's personal appearance, from 
the crown of her head to the tip of her toe, are 
nowhere in these folk-tales. One or two words 
produce a far greater impression of the beauti- 
ful one ; the excellence of the tales lies in their 
brevity and well- chosen forcible expressions. 
In the Pauranic literature of 

The folk-tales do not j.i i j. j. i„ 

give a catalogue of tlic later age, we not only 
t;;:d"tr^rrTf come across descriptions of the 
beautiful women. figures of youthful hcroiucs 

generally in the most mono- 
tonous verses, but also long catalogues of orna- 
ments which form very tedious reading after all, 
producing often a rather grotesque effect, as these 
ornaments have mostly run out of fashion now- 
a-days. In the folk-tales mention is sometimes 
made of " a flame-coloured " or " blue-tinted " 

^ See Banga-Bhasa-o-Sahitya, p. 491. 



AQUITE DIFFERENT ATMOSPHERE 59 

silk wliicli like the muslin were in ancient times 
the marvels of Indian manufacture. In the 
jArthurian legends we find a lady wearing " a 
robe of flame-coloured silk " ' which reminds us 
of ^t^^ ^ttt^?f 3^\ft of a princess in our own story 
of Sankhamala. " Rohes of flame-coloured silk " 
in the British isles of those days, we contend 
were of Indian manufacture, but the next line 
which says that the hair of the princess was 
black as ebony is significant and makes it 
clear enough, for the black hair belongs to and 
is favoured in the tropical climes. Woman's 
chief beauty in the folk- literature of Bengal, 
lies in the tender qualities of the heart. These 
folk-tales, though they do not give erudite and 
elaborate descriptions of women's physical 
charms, do not however fail to invest them with 
truly noble virtues of the soul. Eeference to 
physical beauty, often given in a brief line, 
carries a far greater effect than the long tiresome 
accounts on classical lines. 

I have said that these stories generally show an 
ignoran3e on the part of the people, of the (gastric 
legends and of the gods and goddesses of the 
Hindu pantheon, which even a common farmer 
and artisan know now-a-days ; neither do the gods 
come to help the mortals in their difficulties as 
they are found to do in the later epochs of Bengali 
literature. The mortals, possesed of dev^otion 

' Mabinogion, Vol. II, p. 276. 



60 FOLK LTTEIIA.TURE OF BENGAL 

and superior moral qualities, cojneoutof their 
trials by dint of their own virtues and merit. The 
popular notions about gods which these tales nnfold, 
seem strange and unfamiliar. We have read of the 
Gode Yama, the messenger of Death, in the 
Mayanamati legends; he has no place in the 
Hindu pantheon. In " Malanchamala " we find 
similarly the names of Saldut and Kaldut who 
are said to be the brothers of Yamadut. Vidhata 
fulfils a function which show him not at all like 
the creator Brahma whose name he bears in these 
stories. The duty of the former seems to be 
only to write the " luck " of a new born baby on 
its forehead. In this arduous task he is assisted 
Notions about gods ^'>J ^is two compauious Dhara 
of' TiLe" of' ^'the ^1^^ Tai'a. Their work appears 
Hindu Puranas. ^q j^^ similar to that of the 

tabulators of a public office who put their heads 
together for comparing the results of their tabu- 
lations. They set down the providential decree 
by some mysterious scrawlings on the forehead 
of the infant, and seem to do it automatically 
under the directions of a higher power. This 
power appears to be the kanmc law over which 
Dhara, Tara and Bidhata have no hands ; so that 
when once the letters are inscribed in an auto- 
matic process, they become the destiny of the 
infant — " unshunable as death. " 

The Visnudut and Civadut, — the Yaikuntha 
and Kailasa, — which are indispensable in 



FOLK-TALES COMPOSED IN AN EARLIER AGE 61 

Brahminic stories describing a hero's death and 
liis subsequent march to the otiier world, have no 
place whatever in these folk-tales. The }3rahmin 
himself has seldom any function to discharge in 
them. In the Pauranik tales his blessings or 
curses bring about their inevitable result of good 
fortune or calamities to the characters concerned ; 
but here nothing of the sort is met with. 
Witchcraft takes the place of a Brahminic curse 
and the Brahmin, who appears very seldom, 
when he comes at all, does so in the capacity of 
rv^. J, , . . , an astrologer to tind out an 

Ihe Brahmin is not '-' 

an important figure auspicious date for a marriasTe 

in the folk-tales. ~ 

or maritime journey. A Brah- 
min's sacred thread is not an indispensable 
thing always about him. It is allowed to hang 
on a racket like one's robes, and he wears it 
when he has to go out to the king's court 
or a nobleman's mansion. The astrologers 
of the folk-tales are those Scythian Brahmins 
who are now called Acharyas in our country 
and for whom the Hindu revivalists have 
reserved no place in their own superior order. 
These Scythian Brahmins held high position 
during the ascendancy of the Buddhists in 
this land. 

All these evidences tend to prove that the 
folk-tales of Bengal, generally speaking, had 
been composed before the Pauranik tales were 
popularised in the country by the Eenaissance- 



62 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 



The proliibition of 

Sea-voyage. cino'. to illustrate and bear out 



Brahmins. But these are not all. We have 
other proofs, quite as convin- 

our proposition. It is an established fact that 
one of the principal acts of Hindu revivalist was 
to shut the gate of commerce by sea against the 
members of their own community. They surely 
did it for their self-preservation, as, with the 
ruin of the political power of the Hindus, the 
wholesome control exercised upon the sea-faring 
people by Hindu sovereigns ceased to have any 
effect. The traders now settled in distant lands 
preferring free life to the political thraldom in 
their own country, thus creating a great drain 
in Indian population. And if they returned to 
India, they came with strange outlandish man- 
ners imitating the ways of foreigners, and fell 
upon tlieir quiet homes like thunder-bolts, 
destrovino; the Hindu ideals of domestic life. 
The Brahminic leaders, in the absence of any 
political power to control the situation, pro- 
hibited sea-voyfiges and enacted social laws for 
outcasting those who would be guilty of 
infringing them. But whatever the cause 
might be, it is certain, that the commercial 
activity of the Hindus ceased with the downfall 
of the Hindu and Buddhistic political power 
in Bengal. The merchants' position in this 
country underwent a signal change from the 
time their naval activities ceased. The great 



THE HIGH PLACE OF MERCHANTS 63 

mercantile community during the Buddhistic 
times enioyed a social position 

The position ol' ' 

vneitiiants in society and status wliicli wei'e almost 

beforo the Renaissance. r. ■ i 

on a par with those or the 
members of royal families. Kanchanmala, the 
heroine of a folk- tale, declares to her comrades 
with just pride, "My father is a king and a 
merchant is my husband, I have played with 
diamonds and rubies as though they were play- 
things," Mahmmad Munsi, the compiler of a 
folk-tale, records the adventures of its hero 
Rtipalal, a young merchant. This youth Avas 
at once accepted as son-in-law by the Eairy king 
as soon as it was reported to him that the suitor 
for his daughter's hand was the son of a 
respectable merchant. A king's son and a 
merchant's son are always fast friends in the 
Bengali folk- tales, and though sometimes the 
Prime Minister's son, and even a kotwal's son, 
claim such friendship with a prince in these 
fables, they hold a decidedly inferior position. 
It is the merchant's son alone who stands on 
terms of perfect equality with the king's son. 
When a princess is to be married, she invariably 
elects a prince, or a merchant's son as her 
bridegroom. Now after the downfall of the 
Buddhist power, the merchants within a few 
centuries lost all their status in society. Most 
of them were outcasted. Even the Suvarna 
Banikas who are still notable in this country 



64 FOLK LITERATUEE OF BENGAL 

in point of wealth and whom some of our 
scholars have identified as scions of the royal 
family of Kapilavastu, were treated with 
contempt, and the water touched by them 
declared unclean. The Suvarna Vanikas, 
as their name implies, were dealers in gold, 
and their present low status in society is 
unaccountable, except as a result of Brahminic 
ire against the leading merchants of the 
Buddhistic community. This was j^robably due 
to their not having accepted the Revivalists' 
creed. In the story of (^ankhamala, the mother 
takes pride in the social status of the youthful 
merchant, her son, by saying "You are not a 
fisherman, nor one of those who deal in flowers. 
Don't you know that you are 

Merchants lose their 

high social status a merchant." Such a boast 

after the Renaissance. , -, , f j i i • i i 

beilts a person or the highest 
social status only. But the fisherman— the 
Kaivartas, and the flower- seller have now 
a position in society which often a merchant 
has not. The water touched by a class of 
Kaivartas is not unclean in many places of 
Bengal. But a considerable number of 
merchants, inspite of tlieir Avealth, are now 
struggling hard to have the privilege of 
offering a cup of drinking water to the higher 
classes. Alas ! even the lowest people in 
our society will not accept it from their 
hands. 



THE SEA- VOYAGES 65 

The folk-tales are full of glory of mercantile 

communities. We have descriptions of sea-going 

vessels which bear fascinating names having 

regard to their picturesque shapes. We have the 

"Madukaras" (the bees) which 

The ships, their ^ . ^ 

picturesque construe- werc the show-sliips, and bore 

tion and names. . , , . 

always a merchant with his 
personal staff in state. - The '"Mayurpankhis" 
and the "Cukapankhis" SAvam across the sea 
in the shapes of the birds whose names they 
bore. The Yuktikalpataru by the king Voja, 
a work of authority on the formation of ships-, 
lays it down that the prow of the ship admits 
of a variety of shapes. These are enumerated 
as eisrht, of which one is the head of a bird. 
The "Mayurpankhis" were for long the most 
fashionable and favourite class of ships in 
Bengal. It is now an established fact that the 
sea-going Indians carried the bird peacock to 
Babylon and other Western countries, to which 
it was unknown, in the 6th century B.C. For 
a Ion 2^ time the bird was called in some of the 
European countries by its Indian name. The 
peacock, which thus formed one of the most 
important exports of the ancient Indian 
merchants, was given an emblematic significance 
in the picturesque forms adorning the prows of 
the ships that carried the birds to the distant 
shores. The Bengali folk-tales abound with 
descriptions of these "Mayurpankhis." 
9 



66 FOLK LITERA.TURE OF BENGAL 

The Hindu- Renaissance effected a wholesale 

change in the tastes of people by diverting 

them from secular pursuits to 

The proper names tlic Spiritual. The achicve- 

in old folk-tales indi- 

cate the mercantile mCnt of a high IcVcl of Carthlv 

rather than Brahmi- • i i i 

nicai ideal. prosperity had been the aim 

of popular ambition in the 
preceding age. Gold and silver, diamond and 
ruby were, no doubt, as precious in those times 
as they are now. But the Hindu Renaissance, 
like every great religious movement, set at 
naught gold and silver and called them all, 'filthy 
lucre.' The motto of the Renaissance became 
" ^i?f^5>f^ ^1^ f^^sj^ ." The Brahmin prided him- 
self in his poverty and cared only for spiritual 
wealth. Men delighted during this Brahminic 
revival in giving their children the names of 
gods and goddesses of the Hindu pantheon. 
From the 14th century down, the names of 
men and women in our country have been more 
or less associated with the names of our popular 
deities. In our earlier folk-tales, however, not 
one name is found to be of a Hindu god. or 
goddess, a fact which will apparently strike 
every student of this rural literature. Durga, 
BhavanI, Uma, and Saraswati, names which 
are so familiar to us, are nowhere to be met 
with in the extensive field of early folk-literature. 
Women's names reveal a love for those 
things, which are liked most by the merchants. 



A MERCANTILE IDEAL 67 



We have "Kanchanmala" a string of gold, 
"Manimala" a string of pearls, "Cankharafila" 
a string of sea-shells, etc., and the names 
of merchants also are significantly stamped 
with the same idea. Even the names of 
princes savour of the money-bag, and not of 
the temple from which, as I have said, have 
flown all names and titles since the days of the 
Brahminic Renaissance. In the story of 
''Kalavati Rajkanya, we have names of six 
princes, viz., Hiraraja — the prince of diamonds' 
Manikraja the prince of rubies, Matiraj the 
prince of pearls, Cankharaja — the prince of 
sea-shells and Kanchanraja — the prince of gold. 
We have names of still earlier period which do 
not show any trace of Sanskritic elegancQ, but 
seem as unmeaning Prakrit jargon. But a 
closer scrutiny will discover suggestions in them 
indicating also a love for wealth — the charac- 
teristic trait of mercantile classes. Such for 
instance are "Aya Bene" (^t^U^C^) "Saya Bene" 
(^TtlC^^f) "Gasta Bene" (^^C^^) "Masta Bene" 
(^\?ir^(;^). "Aya Bene" may mean a merchant 
with large income (^t^), "Saya Bene" is 
possibly an abbreviation of Saha Bene, the word 
Saha, which is now the family-surname of a 
large community of merchants, is an abbreviated 
form of the word sadhu, a word which in the 
oldj Bengali literature generally signifies a rich 
merchant. If we thus prepare a list of names, 



€8 POLK LITERATURE OE BENGAL 

we find that it is wealth and a thought of profit 
and income that dominated over the mind of 
the people ; they naturally called their babies 
by such things that they prized dearly in their 
lives. We find in the folk-tales compiled by 
some of our modern writers, such as the Eev. 
Lai Biliary Dey, that older names have now and 
then been changed for modern ones ; this they 
have apparently done to suit the current taste. 
The names of architects and of boat-men also of 
the earlier folk-tales indicate the spirit of the 
times. In the story of Madhumala, we have 
"Hiramanik" (diamonds and jorecious stone) 
and "Shonalal" (gold and precious stone) — the 
names of two architects, and in the story of 
Kanchanamala the captain of the ship is called 
Dulaldhan (dearly prized wealth). We do not 
mean to say that these names are solely confined 
to that particular period of commercial activity 
in Bengal. Even in the present day we 
occasionally meet with such names, but in the 
earlier folk-tales nearly all names of chief as 
well as minor characters bear imports suggestive 
of good money. The contrast appears very 
striking when we find a total absence in 
the earlier fables of names after those of the 
Hindu gods and goddesses, which became so 
plentiful in later times. The above evidences 
establish one point, viz., that it was during 
the period of great commercial activity prior to 



WEALTH AND ARISTOCRACY 69 

the Hindu Renaissance in Bengal that most of 
the earlier I'olk-tales Avere composed. 

The same idea is traced in the incidental 
descriptions of the grandeur and wealth that 
abound in these stories, offering a sharp contrast 
to the present condition of things in society. 
Everywhere there is that reference to a high 
water-mark of prosperity — the fruit of commer- 
cial success, in the homes of merchants. The 
number of the rich must have 
Grandeur and wealth. bccn great, for in the common 
folk-tales, allusions to prosper- 
ous life are plentiful, showing that the ordinary 
village-women who mostly composed the stories, 
spoke from their direct knowledge and observa- 
tion. High-class women prided in their profi- 
ciency in the culinary art. The hearths, they 
used for cooking, were plated with gold ; they 
used sandal- wood for fuel, and for the purpose 
of frying they generally used clarified butter 
in the place of oil. Such ideas of luxury have 
passed away from our society, not that they are 
out of fashion, but because the upper classes 
are now not so rich as to be able to afford them. 
We read in these tales of "spoons made of 
pearls," of "picturesque water- vessels made of 
solid gold." After the revival of Hinduism, its 
leaders who came from distant countries and 
intermarried with the local people, set a high 
value on their own blood and hence lineage 



70 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

became the chief consideration in matrimonial 
matters. We know that in comparatively later 
times, a bridegroom of high qualifications was 
perfectly satisfied with marrying the ugliest 
bride and even one who limped or was one- 
eyed, if she could trace her ancestry from one 

of the Kulin-leaders. The 
delreAttn""" ^^te of things Unfolded by 

the folk-tales present a very 
different condition. The bride is said to 
be an exquisite beauty. The bridegroom 
must be a hero and the bride fair, proving 
the force of Dryden's rhymed formula declar- 
ing that none but the brave, deserve the fair. 
This, of course, is not only the motto of all 
folk-tales, but of all heroic poems of the world. 
We find in the folk-tales of Bengal, that the 
Ghatakas or the match -makers carried with them 
pictures of the bride and the bridegroom to be 
shown to the parties concerned. These w-ere held 
indispensable where the bride and the bridegroom 
lived at a distance from one another. The 
pictures in the case of a Avealthy couple were 
drawn on golden plates, trimmed with diamonds 
and folded within rich coverings of embroidered 
silk. The procession of a rich man's marriage 
generally consisted of a large number of 
Chaturdolcls, along with many other things for 
display ; these were temple-shaped wooden 
conveyances inlaid with precious stones, the 



ARISTOCRACY AND WEALTH 7l 

most pictiiresqiie oii(3 haing in the middle, 
reserved for the bride and the 

Articles of dnilv uso, i • i •l^ i' p 2.1 

and luxury. bridegroom, with a root of the 

form of a cnpola or minaret. 
This special Chatnrdola had a golden nmhrella 
unfurled over the golden throne on the pedestal. 
There were, besides, the Pusparathas or chariots 
covered with floral wreaths. Pillows were some- 
times made with seeds of white mustard and 
this was considered as a piece of luxury. For 
decorating the eyes Avith black-paint {anjan) 
artistic shaped silver-rods were used. Every- 
where we find references to golden plates and 
caps, showing that these were in the everyday 
use of the merchants and other rich men. A 
merchant's daughter or a princess used to keep 
a large number of female attendants and maids 
who are described as waiting with oil-cakes, 
alkaly and towels upon their mistress when she 
went to her toilet-room in the afternoon. We 
also read of very fine robes made of cotton "that 
looked transparent as dew" and sandal-coloured 
aprons and clothes called "the 3Ieg1indumhur 
and Mayurpekham,^'' The word Maglmdumhiir 
may be translated as blue-tinted like a cloud, 
and Mayurpekliam — of the colour of the plumes 
of a peacock's tail. There are also accounts of 
palaces whose uppermost floor was to be reached 
by a flight of one thousand stairs, of roofs 
made of white marble-plated with gold and 



72 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL. 

trimmed with pendants of diamond, of the 
princess' crown from which big diamonds shone 
and cymbals of gold adorning the feet of 
lovely women of all castes. A merchant's trea- 
sures, we are told, consisted, amongst other 
valuable articles, of heaps of diamonds and rubies 
with seven bevelled edges and sea- shells with 
polished mouths of the colour and quality of 
pearls. The flower- women used everyday to carry 
baskets of " flowers that bloom in the mornins: 
and those that bloom in the dewy eve " to youth- 
ful maidens at the dawn of the day and to- 
wards its close respectively. We have glimpses 
into the sort of life led by a princess or a rich 
lady in the fascinating picture of Madhumala 
who awakes from sleep by the spell cast upon 
her bv the fairies in the middle of the nis^ht, 
and taking it to be the dawn of the day, thus 
muses within herself ; — "I w^onder if it is 
morning, why then does not the bird ^ari sing 
its gay note in its cage as is its wont? If 
morning, why do not the cymbals sound on 
the busy feet of maid -servants? And why 
do the three long rows of lamps fed by clarified 
butter still burn in my compartments ?" 
The princess Madhumala is described as 
sleeping on a golden couch decorated with 
diamonds and pearls, the cushion spread over 
it being prepared with thirteen varieties of 
rich silk. 



NATAL IIOOM 73 

With tlio Brahmin revivalist, the room in 
which th(^ child hrst sees the liglit is held 
unclean. Even in the cases of rich people, a 
tem])orary straAv hut of a very misei'al)le sort 
used to he raised for siicli purposes near their 
mansion and the hut remained outside the main 
buildings, being considered untouchable by the 
family. We read, however, that 
in the days of these rural tales 
such rooms used to be built with great architec- 
tural ins^enuitv and decorations of oold in 
rich men's homes. Surely it affords a 
striking contrast to the sort of things that have 
existed for over six hundred years; for who can 
think now, with the orthodox ideas of Hindu 
cleanliness in his head, of a lying-in-room being 
built like a parlour with artistic decorations 
of the most precious metal ? 

AYe need not enumerate other details of 
high-living and luxuries indulged in by the 
aristocratic communities of Bengal in the hey- 
day of her commercial activities as depicted 
in the rural literature. We shall, however, 
refer to some rites the observance of which 
was held indispensable for a merchant on the 
eve of undertaking a sea-voyage. The tradition 
of these lies enshrouded in obscurity owing 
to Indians having ceased for a long time to 
travel by sea. But as given in these folk-tales, 
some of the traditions attract us by the tender 

10 



^4 FOLK LITERATURE OF BEN G At 

associations of domestic duties which had to be 

fulfilled before a merchant 

On the eve of a sea- could Icave homc for distant 

Toyage. 

shores. The wife comes with 

a gold vessel full of water and washes the feet 

of her husband about to sail abroad, and 

then wipes them with her unbraided lock.s. 

The whole court-yard is decorated with alipana 

paintings. The captain of the ship comes and 

asks: — "Have you, Oh master, partaken of 

the meal first offered to temples ? Have five 

lights been waived and holy baths performed 

in the tank ? Are the eight pinnacles of god's 

temple intact and in good condition ? Is there a 

sufficient reserve supply in the house ? Have you 

bowed your head down before the gods ? Have 

you made sufficient provision for each of your 

family members for the time you may be absent 

from home? Have you taken leave of each and 

every one in your family ? And have they gladly 

given such permission?" In one case, the 

merchant who had a dislike for his wife, did not 

see her before he left home. But the captain 

refused to set sail to the ship, until and unless 

his master obtained her permission. It should 

be said that the captain ventured to do so, 

because all this was held indispensable from a 

religious point of view. The prows of the ships 

had to be painted with red- powder, sandal paste 

and vermilion, and the whole ship oiled before 



DISHONESTY OF MERCHANTS 75 

starting. In the front part of the ship, amidst 

pearl pendants, hung five lights that burnt 

night and day. The merchants in later times 

did not always recognise honesty to be the 

best policy. In the 16th century, Kabikankan 

described Marclri9ila — ^a typical rogue. In 

earlier times also there was no want of Murari's 

cousins, who though not such great villains, 

behaved unscrupulously while 

Jb'h^Sf""' """ selliag their goods in distant 

countries. In the story of 

Cankhamala, we get the following account of 

their dealings. 

" Some merchants produce ' darmuj ' a kind 
of poisonous Avood, from their bags and call it 
cinnamon. Some sell goods worth a kahaii for 
a sikka. Some have their baskets full of pieces 
of ordinary stone, and sell them as diamonds 
and rubies." 

While taking a survey of these materials in 
respect of commercial transactions, we do not 
certainly hold these as historical evidences. The 
rural tales are mere products of imagination 
of the people of the country-side, but yet 
what historical facts can be a more genuine 
index to the state of society than these 
fictions, which spring from the accumulated 
observations and wisdom of the rural people — 
the true recorders of the customs and manners of 
their societv ? 



76 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

The " Rtipakatlias " or folk-tales, as I have 
already stated, used to be lold in the 
evenings by professional story-tellers who were 
generally flower-wornen or barber- women. The 
women of the 1)arber caste especially had 
many important functions to discharge in the 
houses of rich people. They were generally 
the confidante of the ladies of high rank 
and assisted in their toilet. The barbers, in 
ancient days enjoyed a quite decent position 
in Hindu society. The Mahabharata lays 
it down that the rice cooked 

The position of a i i i • ^ c -n i 

barber ill sociPty. ^y barbei's IS good for Brah- 

mins and other castes. The 
function they have still to discharge in all 
ceremonials of the Hindus savour of their 
traditional place in the social scale from a 
remote antiquity. Their position in our society 
might have, to a considerable extent, been 
lowered during the Mahomedan times on ac- 
count Of their having been obliged to shave the 
Mahammadans. No one in society dared to 
outcast them or declare their water as untouch- 
able, when the ruling race engaged their 
professional services ; but the barbers, since that 
time, seem to have ceased to do many offices 
which they used to perform in the homes of 
aristocratic Hindu families in the pre- 
Mahammadan period. The barber-women had 
ready access to the palace and to a princes* 



THE TALES COMPOSED BY WOMEN 77 

dressing room. Old women of every caste 
acquired the art of story-telling, but it is the 
barber-women that learnt to do it with the 
greatest eifect; for the flower-women and the 
barber-women alone adopted story-telling as the 
avocation of their lives. 

That women composed these stories in 

Bengal will be easily proved by the style and 

manner in which they are delivered. The 

mannerisms, the naive and homely descriptions — 

Evidences to prove tlicir dircctncss and tender 

that these folk-tales i i n i i. f x. 

were mostly composed touchcs all bear a tcstimony to 
by T\omen. ^I^^|. pgc^^ii^^j. ^\{\\ [^ manipula- 

tion which pre-eminently belongs to the softer 
sex. In the genuine stories collected first-hand 
from women, these qualities are plentifully in 
evidence. No one of the ruder sex could build 
up the tales with a rich supply of adages current 
in the zenana, — such as " '^i^ (^i>^ '^l^'^ "^Itfl I 
\5t^ ^«Tt<[ ^ ?t^t^ ^tf^ l" iW^ poo^' people live in 
huts, but lo ! the king's sneeze is heard even 
here — which means, though so poor, we are not 
out of the reach of the king's oppression), " JR "^^ 
^f^, ^ f^^C«^^ ^ft" (^loney and women, if they 
do not breed, are worse than useless), "^t^ C^t\5t 
C^«^ ^«^ 1 ¥f^N ^?r ^^ ^«^ ?" (The elephant 
and the horse are drowned, the flv wants to 
fathom the Avater). There are lots of such 
things in the tales and these, every one knows 
in Bengal, are found interspersed in the every- 



78 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

day conversation of the women-folk of our 
country. There are besides sentences which are 
unmeaning jargon, and may he classed with 
lullabies ; but like the chirp of a bird, these have 
a singularly charming effect, especially on the 
young. However great the genius and poetic 
flight of a man maybe, he is not equal to the task 
of writing such a language, as that which, 
far off from the clatter of a busy world, has 
developed in the inner apartments of an oriental 
home, fed by sentiments alone. There is one 
point that will at once strike the reader as a typi- 
cal specimen of a woman's mode of calculation. 
After Khana and Lilavati, the study of 
mathematics seems to have been given up by 
women particularly in this Gangetic valley. " A 
woman may vaunt of her many brilliant quali- 
fications," says one of our poets, "but if she has 
to calculate shillings and pence, she sees no 
way out, except to go to her lover's house and 
consult him." In the folk- tales we find in 
several instances a peculiar mode of calculation 
which certainly does not illustrate the mathe- 
matical proficiency of the calculator, but 
proves that the mathematician is a woman. 

In one passage the figure 
pfacuser'''''"^'"' ^65 had to be mentioned: it 

is put as 7 times 36 plus 13. 
In another, 964 was expressed by "12 times 
52 and 17 times 20. In another, a period 



TfiE TALES COMPOSED BY WOMEN ?9 

of time equal to 298 houvs is indicated by the 
expression 12 days and 13 nights. As our 
women usually calculate figures by twenties and 
in rare cases by fifties, this is a mode peculiar 
to them. No man does it in this way except 
when he is absolutely illiterate or stupid. 
The high level of genius displayed in the 
conception of tlie stories from which the 
above" quotations are made shows an odd 
combination of extraordinary merit Avith much 
stupidity. This could not have probably been 
the case, had their authors been of the ruder 
sex. When a Hindu woman was in confinement, 
which, except in the case of Brahminical and 
one or two high castes, is for a period of 30 
days, the services of a story-teller used to be 
en2:ao:ed in former times. These storv-tellers were 
generally widoAvs and sometimes old men, who 
had learnt the art from their grand-mothers. 
The stories used to be told from evening till 
midnight, except on the sixth night of the birth 
of a child, when the story-teller assisted by 
a chorus continued his recitations the Avhole 
night. On the sixth night the Vidhata purusa — 
the god of human destiny — comes, according to 
Hindu notions, to write the fate of the baby on its 
forehead, and therefore keeping up through the 
whole of night, on that occasion, is an absolute 
necessity. The new mother feels lonely in her 
room during the days of confinement and for the 



80 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

sake of keei^ing her in good spirit and in a jovial 
mood, they adopt this means, than which nothing 
can be more wholesome for the occasion. The 
tales are interspersed with songs, and when a 
story is told by an old widow, two or three young 
women j who have good voices, form a chorus and 
sing the songs. The boys and girls all assemble 
to hear them, and between many sighs and much 
laughter, the soft eye-lids close like buds, 
sometimes when a story is yet unfinished. Such 
things may still be observcTl in our distant 
villages, Avhere novel-reading and the study of 
Algebra and Trigonometry have not yet driven 
popular poetry and sentiment into the back- 
ground. 



CHAPTER 111 



Currency of older forms of belief amongst the converts 
to Islam in their folk=literature. 

After the Muhammadan conquest of Benoa] 
Islam found easy converts among the lay 
Buddhist jiopulation which was still verj?- 
considerable in the country. When the Hindu 
community was reorganised on the basis of the 
old Vedic relisrion, and caste- 

The Nerlas and Xedis. ^^ ' 

rules were revised and made 
more stringent, the lay Buddhist people found 
their position very uncongenial in the country. 
The water touched by them was unclean and the 
Bhikkns and the Bhikkums — the Buddhist 
monks and nuns — who numbered by thousands 
in Bengal in the 13th century, were treated 
with contempt and called Neda-nedls or shaven 
men and women. This name, the Hindus gave 
them contemptuously, not only because these 
Buddhists represented a fallen order, from 
whom the Hindu revivalists had forcibly taken 
away all power in spiritual and even secular 
matters, but because of the gross immorality 
which a life of celibacy had brought upon the 
men and women living in monasteries during 
the days of the decline of Buddhism. 
11 



82 FOLK LITERATURE OP BENGAL 

In an environment which was full of 
animosity, hatred and bitterness, these Buddhists 
found their position very uncomfortable, and 
they naturally preferred to become converts to 
Islam and thus associate themselves with the 
ruling race. In the Iltli century, their lay 
order swelled the ranks of Muhammadan converts 
and the A^ast Islamite population of modern 
Bengal comprises the descendants of the Buddhist 
laity whom the Hindus still treat with the 
contemptuous epithet of Nedas — a title by which 
they used to designate the Buddhist Bhikkus. 

But the folk-tales of Bengal were no more 
a monopoly of the Hindus than of the Buddhists, 
in the good old days immediately before the 
Hindu Renaissance, when both the communities 
had almost the same social and relis-ious ideals. 
Their tantrlc ceremonies and rites of worship 
were so similar that none but an adept could 
distinguish those of the one 

of the Hiiidns and the f rom tllC otllCr. TllC Buddlllst 
Buddhists before the , , . -, . ,. 

Renaissance — v e r y mouks, who HI earlier tl-'UCS, 

"^"'^ ^ ^^ ^- had strictly pursued the path 

of jnau and led an austere life of struggle 
to control the passions, gradually began to yield 
to the softer charms of the Bhakti-cult, and in 
the 12tli and i3th centuries their temples 
became resonant with the sounds of the evening- 
bells, of tabor and of Mr tana songs accompanied 
with dance. The dolias of Kanupada and other 



THE lIINi)U AND BUDDHIST FOLK-TALES 83 

saintly poets Avere suug in the temples, and 
prostration, fast and vigil became the order of 
the day much in the same way as may be seen 
in the places of Hindu worship of to-day. Dr. 
Kern has noticed this growth of a spirit of 
devotion in the Buddhist temples, eventually 
developing into the ecstatic fervour of the latter- 
day Vaisnavism. In fact the Mahay ana 
Buddhism from the time of Nasrarvuna in the 
1st century A.D. gradually assimilated the 
doctrines of the Gita and other Hindu scriptures, 
till, before it finally lost its hold upon the Indian 
communities, it had practically demolished all 
barrier between Buddhism and Hinduism, bring- 
ing the former many steps nearer to the mother- 
cult, from which it had sprung in the 6th 
century B.C. 

So the folk-tales told in those days in the 
Hindu and Buddhist families were very much 
alike. It was a pleasant occupation of the 
Bengali women to relate such stories in the 
eveiping, and it was an engaging pursuit of young 
children to follow the adventures of the heroes 
through their great perils and trials, — in the 
mansions of ultra-human and demoniac creatures, 
— in the tanks from which huge cobras sprang 
with jewels shining from their hoods, or, in the 
dark wildernesses infested with aerial beings 
where our heroes had lost their path in the night. 
But still more was the effect of the tales on the 



84 rOLK LITEEATUEE OF BENGAL 

young listeners of the fair sex, who heard with 
beating hearts all that the heroines suffered, 
now from their merciless and grimly cruel 
sisters-in-law, now from the persistent indifPer- 
encc and maltreatment of princely fathers-in- 
law and not infrequently from their own preju- 
diced husbands, whom, inspite of all imaginable 
ills, they dearly loved. 

Islam gave new faith to the Buddhists 
and the low-caste Hindus from Avhose ranks it 
counted its largest number of recruits. A few 
drops of the Iranian and Semitic blood that now 
run through the veins of 90 per cent, of the 
Bengali Muhammadans will scarcely admit of 
detection by scrutiny, any more than an element 
of the mother-tincture in a high dilution of a 
Homeopathic medicine. Those Bengalis who 
were Hindus and Buddhists at one time, but 
became Muhammadan converts mostly in the 
14th century A.D, did not, in some cases, give 
up their ancestral calling, though it was 
connected with the religion 
Hindu iek-as in tho that thcv had shunned. A 

comuiuuity of Muna- '' 

nunadau converts. large uumbcr of pcoplc in 

this country used to earn 
their bread by singing hymns in praise of 
some gods or goddesses from door to door. 
At the present day the Agamani singers 
among the Saktas do so, and the A'aisnava 
mendicants are of course the most tvpical 



MyMNS of LAKSMi 85 

of this class of people. In ij^ood old days 
before the Muhammadan conquest, the sin- 
i^ers of hymns in praise of LaksmI — the harvest- 
i^oddess — visited every house of the peasantry, 
and the women of Bengal delighted to hear 
from their lips the signs of a lucky woman — of 
the duties to be performed by the virtuous wife 
and the Avays of the evil-eyed one — of the hastini 
" who walks with eyes fixed 
Singers of hymns ou the air aud speaks like a 

in praise of Laksnii , l a a L^ ii /-- 

the harvest-goddess. truuipet, ot tlic uoblc padmini 
*' who rises with the first crow- 
in"* of the crows and lii^hts the lanjp at the 
dusk, who does not touch any food before her 
husband has taken meal" and fulfils other- con- 
ditions becoming a true housewife. ^Jliesc 
hymns and doggerels pertaining to domestic 
duties are addressed to Visiiu by his consort 
LaksmI. The goddess in detailing the virtues 
of a good wife and the vices of a Ijad one, thus 
says of their respective husbands, " The hus- 
band of a chaste wife is glorious like the summit 
of a mountain, but that of an unchaste one is 
like the prow of a rotten boat." This adulation 
of the virtues of a good wife by the Goddess 
of Harvest herself is no mean compliment, 
making the peasant's wife proud of her 
loyalty to her mate, and she fills the bag 
of the professional mendicant with rice, 
brinjal and potato, and even sometimes puts a 



86 rOLK LITEHATUKE OF EENGAL 

hard-earned copper-piece in the mendicant's 
hands. But though it is known to all in 
Bengal, the fact may yet sound strange to 
those who do not know it, that these singers 
of hymns on Laksnii, the goddess, are not 
Hindus, as it should he, hut Muhammadan 
mendicants. It proves heyond douht that 
those professional Buddhist and Hindu mendi- 
cants, Avhose avocation it had heen to sing 
these songs hefore Muhammadan conquest in 
the 18th century, did not give up their calling 
after having embraced Islam, but have conti- 
nued to sing the same songs in praise of the 
Hindu goddess up to now. The language in 
which the songs are couched have undergone 
no alteration and is in every respect that 
crude Prakritic Bengali in which the Maina- 
matl songs or the Cunyapurana were composed- 
in the lltli or 12th century. The Muhammadans, 
inspite of their religious and iconoclastic zeal, 
have heen tolerant so far as not to interfere 
with the avocations of the new recruits to their 
religion. The Buddhist and Hindu converts 
to Islam in the island of Java are allowed to 
perform the worship of Laksmi with all the 
devotion of a pious Hhidu. The Muhammadans 
are now mostly the ''rojahs" or physicians of 
serpent-hites in Bengal. They recite incanta- 
tions and mantras for the cure of not only those 
who are bitten by serpents but also of those said 



CURE FOR SNAKE-TiTTE 87 

to J)e possessed hy spirits, h'rom generation to 

generatio]!, tliese " roj/tns,'' 

The incantations t.M- mostly .Aruhammadans, as I 

curing snako.hit.. J^.^^,^ ^.^|^|^ j^^^^.^ ^^^^ ^^^.^^^j_ 

tionei's ol' this art. They no 
d()u])t sprano' t'rom the Hiudii and Bnddhist 
families and did not, after they were converted 
to Mulianimadan faith, give up a calling which 
liad been a source of their maintenance from 
remote times. A manual of these incantations 
and man f J as has lately 1)een published by 
Mir Khoram Ali from 155-1 Masjidbari Street, 
Calcutta. This writer says in the Introduction 
to his Manual that liis name stands first in 
the list of those physicians who cui-e by 
charms and incantations. In all cases of snake- 
bite, or wh(n-e the patient withers away fi-om 
being possessed by a spirit or under the malig- 
nant spell of a witch, the mantras that he knows 
are infallible. Hence many people seek his 
help in distress. But as he travels from place 
to place, they have often to return to their 
homes disappointed. " Aged am I," he says, 
" and know not when the final call will come 
upon me." So he is afraid lest the art that 
lias been practised from generation to generation 
in his family, would die Avith him, as there is 
none who knows the charms so Avell as he does. 
With these preliminary remarks he introduces 
his subject which is full of Hindu ideas from th') 



88 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

beginning? to the end. The language of these 
mantras sometimes bears a striking kinship with 
the Bengali style of the 10th and 11th centuries 
and at others Avith those of the 15th and the 
16th. This proves that some meml:)ers of the 
o'ojha families were converted to Islam in the 
13tli century, when the Muharamadans first 
raided Bengal, and otliers in the 15th and 
16th centuries. The language of these mantras 
does not seem to have changed at all from 
the form in which they were originally 
composed ; for if a word is altered then the 
charm loses all efficacy. It may be said that 
the j\Iuliammadans mis^ht have learned these 
mantras from some Hindus, just as in the 
country-side they learn their alphabets from 
Hindu Gw} u Jlahagai/as. But this is not at all 
likely. Whole families of Muhammadans in many 
cases know the mantras, which are full of 
praises of Hindu gods and goddesses ; the Rojhas, 
who cure snake bite and spirit-possession, are 
generally Muhammadans, at least they are the 
best of the doctors of such charms in the 
countrv-side. Like the sinsjers of Lakshml's 
glories, who, turning Muhammadans, did not give 
up the calling they practised in their ' heathen 
days,' these Rojhas also followed an avocation 
while they were ' heathen ' which has not been 
afterwards found incompatible, as a profession, 
with the conditions of their new society, though 



SPECIMENS 01' ARCHAIC LANGUAGE 89 

from a religious point of view, such a thing 
could not he tolerated. Thus we conclude that 
long he fore the 13th century the ancestors of 
these Muhanimadans had followed callings for 
earning their hread associated with the Hindu 
and Buddhist religions, and the Mollas or the 
Muhammadan priests relaxed their orthodoxy so 
far as to allow them to follow those pursuits 
which had been the main source of income 
to their families for many generations. In the 
Manual referred to, the corn- 
very ^ntijuatef like piler Khoramali invokes the 
?aThem?an7i2u'; ^id of 64. Dakiuces of the 
centuries. Hiudu Tautras and their "60 

sisters " possibly of the Buddhist Tantras. The 
first Mantra for snake-bite runs thus : — 

^^tf^ f^ ^t^i ^i^ ^^ ^'^ =^^? h" 

The language has evidently some Prakrit 
elements in it ; the word ^^^ is one of such, 
the word ^^^ for Kamrup is one, as we find it 
in the early Dharma-mangala poems. We profess 
our ignorance in regard to the historical 
reference in ** ^f^^ f^^ ^^1 f^^l C^^^ ^?. " It is 
probable that a Raja of that name flourished 
in Bali Uttarpara, in the pre- Muhammadan days 
12 



90 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

who had achieved a great fame as a healer by 
mantras. The appeal to Maiiasa Devi shows that 
the mantra, was inculcated by her followers in 
olden times, and Kamaksa is certainly one of our 
earliest shrines. The next mantra is in a style 
which closely resembles that of the Cunyapuraria 
of Ramai Pundit, written in the 11th century. 
There are occasionally to be met with in this 
Manual Arabic, incantations invoking the aid of 
the Prophet, and this is but too natural. Within 
more than 7 centuries of conversion to Islam, 
these people could not helj) adding some exotic 
element to the hymns, in accordance with the faith 
they had embraced, but the main portion of the 
book discloses purely Hindu ideas. There are 
references and appeals to Civa, Kali, Krisna, 
Garuda and other deities of the Hindu pantheon 
almost on every page. In the ynantras relating 
to snake-bite, Krisna, as the vanquisher of the 
snake Kaliya, is frequently invoked. Hanumana, 
the great ape-god, is also addressed for helping 
in the cure of the patient, and an appeal to Rama 
and Lakshmaua comes off as a matter of course. 
Kamaksa and Kayunr, the two-notable shrines, 
are mentioned and it is a curious thing that the 
Muhammadan prodigy in the use of si^ells recites 
"^ =^1^1 ¥^" like a Hindu Brahmin. Chandi, the 
goddess, as daughter of a Hacli, 

Historical side-lights. i, ^r^ r^ =v ., . 

'^^ 1% ^^ft ^ IS a familiar Ime 
which occurs often in the colophon. We know 



CHANDI DAUGHTER OF A HAT)I 91 

that Hcldis, in olden times, used to perform 
priestly functions in some of the Kali temples, 
and they even do so now in some parts of 
Bengal. They are also the custodians of many 
temples of Citala, the small-pox-goddess ; and 
in Hadisidhycl of the Mainamatl songs, we find 
one of the Ha,di caste elevated to the rank of a 
o-reat sasj-e. The Hadis seem to have at one time 
occupied a decent position in society, and it may 
not he improhahle that their present degraded 
position is due to the antagonism and resistance 
they offered to the Brahmins of the Benaissance. 
This invocation of Chandi, as daughter of a Hadi, 
raises the problem of a far-reaching character as 
to how some of the non-Aryan deities found 
entrance into the temples of the Aryans. Por 
this Chandi, who is described as daughter of a 
Hadi, and whom. originally the Haclis worship- 
ped as priests in temples, gradually became 
identical with Pilrvati, the consort of (Jiliva. 
The tradition of her origin from Hadi parents 
was in course of time totally ignored or suppres- 
sed as that caste sank in the humblest social 
scale. There are many lines in this Manual 
which are full of suggestions on other lines. 
We find invocation in it of the god Dharma, 
who in the popular belief is no other 
than the Buddha himself. Besides there are 
allusions to Balluka Sagara. This Ballaka or 
Balluka is frequently mentioned in the 



92 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

early Dharma Manga^ poems as a Buddhist 
shrine. 

The Manual, as I have air idy said, 
contains ardi; "orms of old V)> r. ili, often 
reminding us of the style prevr i^. ^ the 
10th and 12th centuries. There is n mother 
hook, written by one Munshi Enayetulla Sircar, 
in which the birth and adventures of Jarasura 
or the Demon of Fever, are recorded. This 

is evidently a record of a 
dJ™fe™orfev'e° Hhidu tradition which now 

seems to be lost amongst the 
Hindus themselves, but is still current among 
the Muhammadan population, transmitted from 
that remote time when they eschewed their 
belief in the older religions. Munshi Enayetulla 
Sircar begins with the line " ^1^1^ ^^*\^ ^^t " 
(' obeisance to Rama and Gane9a ') and then 
goes on to tell how a rich Brahmin's beautiful 
daughter fell in love with a man of the Ohandala 
caste. This youtli absconded with her, but was 
detected by a ferry-man in the way. The latter 
threatened to bring the matter to the notice of 
the Raja's men, but desisted from that course on 
the Chandala giving him an undertaking that 
he would leave the girl with the ferry-man. 
The woman who was enceinte gave birth to a 
child on Tuesday in the month of September : — 
it was the night of the new moon and the 
moment when the babv came to the world was 



JARASURA — THE DEMON OF FEVER 93 

very inauspicious. It was thrown away into the 
jungles on that very nis^ht hy the woman with 
a view to escape scandal, l)ut the foxes nourished 
it hy their milk. In course of time this child 
grew to he the Demon of Fever and his adven- 
tures are related fully in the latter portion of 
the book. It is also mentioned how a Brahmin 
succeeded in gaining wealth hy the help of 
this deified Demon, having cured a princess of 
persistent fever. This disease was unknown 
in the country before the birth of Jarasura. 

Now w^hat we have already written proves 
two points, viz., that the Hindus and Buddhists 
who had renounced their faith in their religions 
and turned Islamite converts, still retained 
some of their older religious 
vfS\3oi,?tn\lsuo. traditions, particularly those 
which were associated with 
the callings by which they had been used to 
earn their bread. The vernacular hymns to 
Laksmi, which used to be sung by the Hindu 
or Buddhist mendicants, are now sung by their 
descendants — the Muhammadan Fakirs. The 
charms for the cure of snake-bite practised by 
the Hindu Kojlias (Bojha or Ojha, a corrupted 
and abbreviated form of the word Upadhyaya ; 
Ujjhaya and Ojha being the gradually changed 
forms in Prakrit from which the Bojha 
of Bengali has been derived) are still known 
to a class of Muhammadans — the descendants 



94 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

of the Hindus and Buddhist doctors of spells 
and charms ; the traditions of tlie Hindus 
with regard to the origin of fever, at one time 
current among their peasantry, are now record- 
ed by their descendants who are Muhammadans. 
Other evidences on this line Avill not be difficult 
to trace. The songs on Manasa Devi, on Kali 
and even Krisna and R-adha, sung by the Hindu 
and Buddhist professional singers, are still 
current among a large Muhammadan populace 
in Eastern Bengal where recruits to Islam 
from the ranks of lay Hindus and Buddhists 
ha^e been the Inrgest. Songs of Manasa Devi 
are sung by professional Muhammadan minstrels 
in Mj^mensing and other districts. The con- 
verts have not been able to give up the traditions 
of the older religions during the long centuries 
of their renouncement of ' heathen faith,' and 
the Bengali Muhammadan to-day, inspite of the 
injunctions of his Molla, who is ever busy in 
his efforts to root out every form of ' superstitious 
beliefs,' has remained true to his instinct nurtur- 
ed and developed in a different atmosphere 
of religious and social life during long 
centuries. 

The second point that we want to establish 
is that; the origin of their callings and of some of 
the beliefs enumerated above, is to be traced to 
a far remoter period than the 14th or 15th cen- 
tury when most of the ancestors of the present 



THE EARLY ORIGIN Or THESE TALES 95 

Bengali Muhammadans embraced the Islamite 
faith. During the 7 or 8 centuries that have passed, 
the Hindu or Buddhistic elements in their forms of 
belief have scarcely received any new light from 
those older religions, ever-growing under fresh 
social conditions and turning new leaves in the 
history of their gradual advancement. The 
Muhammadan peasantry inspite of keeping up 
these faiths and ideas transmitted to them from 
unrecorded times previous to their conversion, 
are now solely under the guidance of the Mollas. 
They have shut their gates against all fresh acci'e- 
tions of faiths promulgated by the new Brahmin 
of the Benaissance. The Puranas and the 
Epics which have been so popularised among 
the Hindu rural folk, by the new Brah- 
min — the creed of devotion which has been 
proclaimed with tlie sound of cymbal and tabor 
to the peasantry for these five hundred years, — 
have not made any perceptible impression on 
the lay Muhammadan populace. It is the older 
forms of faith anterior to the Hindu Renais- 
sance, that have still some hold upon them, and 
the origin of these, as I have already stated, is 
to be traced to a period much earlier than the 
14th or 15th century when the largest number 
of these Bengalis accepted Islam. The linguistic 
evidence and that of the forms of faith 
traced in the hymns to Lakshmi and in the 
Mantras and spells prove their affinity to those 



96 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGll, 

current amongst the Hindus and Buddhists of 
Bengal mostly in the 10th and the 11th cen- 
turies. 
„. , r „ . , I^ut if they do still cultivate 

Huidn folk-tales "^ 

amongst Muham- the older fomis of faith hy 
songs, hymns and spells and hy 
appeals to gods and goddesses of the heathen 
pantheon, how could their women forget those 
tales and fables which they had heard when 
girls, recited to them by their grandmothers, 
and which they themselves related to their 
children when they in their turn became grand- 
mothers themselves ? In fact all the folk-tales 
current in this country during the 10th and 11th, 
and even earlier centuries, they still tell to their 
children, and in this matter the Hindu and 
Buddhist elements form a great factor of 
training of the Muhammadan child from its 
birth. References to the Indrasabhji, appeals to 
Manasa Devi and to SaraswatI, the goddess of 
learning, are occasionally met with in those 
fables ; and the Rajakumarl, the princess, and 
her lover the prince — his friends, the minister's 
son and the son of the prefect of police, are all 
Hindus in these tales. The grandmothers in 
Muhammadan harems still tell these stories, 
which are as old as the 10th and the 11th 
centuries, treasured up and transmitted to the 
family by elderly women, and the continuity of 
the strain from the time when they were jdIous 



THE EARLY ORIGIN OF THESE TALES 97 

Hindus clown to the time when they have been 
]pious Muhammadans, has not been broken ; the 
stories of Malanchamala, BhanumatI, Sakhisona, 
Amritabhana, Chandravali, Malatikusum, Madhu- 
mala and lots of others with which we are 
all so familiar, are still told in Muhammadan 
homes and listened to with eager attention 
by the young Muhammadan peasantry of Bengal. 
This fact was not at all known to us till recently, 
and the discovery has been very interesting as it 
shows that after the lapse of the 7 or 8 centuries 
of their alienation from the older religion, 
the sorrows of Kanchanmala and Sakhisona 
still create throbbings in the hearts of 
Muhammadan girls, as it does of their Hindu 
cousins. This proves beyond doubt the origin 
of the stories to be long before the Muhammadan 
conquest and their proselytising activities in the 
14:th and 15th centuries ; for these Hindu and 
Buddhist tales could not have found entrance 
into the Muhammadan harems after the light of 
Islam had fallen on the Hindu homes. The very 
form in which the stories are current among 
Muhammadans show the earliest type, though 
Arabic and Persian influences have, to a certain 
extent, changed the original spirit of the tales. 



13 



CHAPTER IV. 



Classifications of Muhammadan folk=taIes in Bengal. 

The Muhammadan folk-tales that I have 
discovered may he divided into three classes, 
viz. : — 

I. Those that relate to saintly men who 
have been given the ranks of prophets in Hindu 
and Muhammadan communities alike. These 
men are called juj^s, such are Manik Pir and 
Satya Pir, who have been now raised above the 
level of mortals in popular legends, but were 
once men of the flesh, and had, by reason of 
their Hindu extraction, and of their catholicity 
of views, won the respect of both Hindus and 
Muhammadans, though they themselves seem to 
have adopted the Muhammadan faith. These 
legends were composed mostly during the 15th 
and 16th centuries. 

II. The folk-tales which relate to the 
heroic deeds of those Muhammadan zealots who 
carried the religion of Islam at the point of 
their swords, and obtained celebrity by over- 
throwing the Hindu faith and breaking the 
Hindu temples and also by marrying some 
noted beauties of the Hindu Zenana, after 
having converted them to Islam. These stories, 



CLASS I — SATYA PIR 99 

some of which were derived from the Persian 
and Arabic sources, relate to events from after 
the 11th century. 

III. Those that have been current in 
Bengal from a remote period, and which the 
Hindu converts to Muhammadan faith have not 
been able to give up, though they all have 
direct references to Hindu and Buddhist reli- 
gions. These stories all belong to a period 
much earlier than 1299 A.D. when Benf?al was 
conquered. 

We may still mention a fourth, viz., those 
tales which tell us of the adventures of the 
heroes and prophets of Arabia and Persia, 
written in the vernacular of Bengal with a 
very large element of admixture of Arabic and 
Persian words. We shall not, however, concern 
ourselves with these, but merely touch the 
first and second classes of folk-tales, reservino* 
a deservedly large space for the critical analysis 
of class III of these tales, which directly falls 
within our scope. 



Class I — Satya Fir. 

The first rank in the list of prophets com- 
prised in No. I of the above classification 
is occupied by Satya Pir, whom one legend 
describes as son of a princess — probably the 



100 FOLK LITERA.TURE OF BENGAL 

daughter of Huslien Shah, the Emperor of 
Gour.^ We gather this legend from two accounts 
of the Pir, one by a Muhammadan poet named 
Arif, and another by Sankaracharya. The manus- 
cript of Sankaracharya's poem is dated 1062 of 
the Bengali era,i.^., 1664 A.D. But there are other 
legends also about Satya Pir which I shall 
mention hereafter. In the 16tli century, the 
Hindu poet Fakir Rama Kavibhusana, who ren- 
dered some of our folk-tales into elegant Bengali 
verse, gave an account of Satya Pir in animated 
poetry, and since then many of our poets have 
sung eulogies of this deified Pir in Bengali. 
Gradually, however, the Muhammadan element 
was totally ignored or eliminated from this tale 
and Satya Pir became in the hands of our 
Hindu poets, Satyanarayan or Yisnu himself, 
of the Hindu pantheon, deriving all his glories 
from the texts of the Revakhanda of the Skanda 
purana. Some of our greatest poets have writ- 
ten adulatory verses in honour of this deity, 
who has now become a Hindu god in plain dhiiti 
and chadara of the Bengalis, throwing off his 
Muhammadan's trousers and Pakir's loose mantle. 
And such we find him in the works of Bharata- 
chandra and in the magnificent poem called the 
Harilila by Jayanarayana Sen who flourished 
in the 18th century. We have come across 

^ The Bengali Encyclopedia — The Viswa Kosa, Part 18, p. 159, 
See the words — ^^\^^\ TtfW I 



SATYA PIR 101 

many poets in the I7tli and 18th centuries writ- 
ing in the strain of Fakir llama. But though 
Satyanarayana enjoys a great popularity among 
the rural people of Bengal and thougli he is 
divested of his Muhammadan elements and is 
now a Hindu god in every respect, yet curiously 
the offering of flour and milk mixed with 
banana and sugar, that he recives at the hands 
of his worshippers, is not called hlioga, a name 
by which such offerings are generally called in 
the Hindu temples, but shUini, a name given to 
offerings liy Muhammadan worshippers. This 
certainly reminds one of that exotic element 
which the Brahmin priests have always tried to 
eliminate from their religious rites and func- 
tions, but which in the present case has been 
allowed to remain as if by oversight. 

Many of the songs in praise of Satya Pir 
have been written by Muhammadans themselves. 
Some of these breathe a catholicity of views 
which doubtless accounts for their being appre- 
ciated by Hindus and Muhammadans alike. One 
of these poems was written some time ago by 
Krsnahari Dasa, about whom nothing is known ; 
but it appears to me that though the writer's 
name is Hindu, he was a Muhammadan ; for he 
begins by invoking the aid of Allah and gives 
an account -of the Vehest and of the prophet 
in the devotional spirit of a devout Muhammadan. 
The poem is printed in the right Arabic style, 



102 FOLK LITERA.TURE OF BENGAL 

beginning from where our books end and ending 
where our books begin. The language has also 
a considerable admixture of Persian and Arabic 
words. This work which runs over 250 pages, 
Royal 8vo, was printed at the Garanhata 
Bengal Roy press, and is generally sold in 
Muhammadan ])ook-shops. The name of the 
book is Satya Pir or the story of Sandhyavatl. 
It begins with an account of a Rajil named 
Maya-Danava, who took it into his head to impri- 
son and oppress all Muhammadan fakirs w^ho 
visited his capital. This was reported to Allah 
in Vehest by the angel Gabriel, and the matter 
engaged the earnest consideration of His Divine 
Majesty. It was eventually decided by the 
counsel of the Rasul, that (Jhandbibi (who lived in 
Vehest) should be ordered to be born on the 
earth in fulfilment of a prophecy which had for 
long ages been current in the Vehest, that Satya 
Pir would be born on the earth in the womb of 
Clmndbibi, in order to redress all human ills in 
the Kaliyuga. Chandbibi was thus by Divine 
commandment born as Sandhyavatl, and she re- 
mained a maid all her life. Satya Pir was born of 
her womb by Divine will, and was nourished by a 
tortoise while an infant. As he grew up he gra- 
dually began to show his superhuman powers. 
There are many heroic achievements related of him 
in this intersting poem, and not the least of 
which is his encounter with Mansingh. This 



OAZID ALl'S STORY 103 

brings us to a definite historical time ; and as 
we have already noticed another story which 
says that Satya pTr Avas the son of Hushen 
Shah's daughter, the two accounts practically 
assign the same point of time to Satya pir's 
birth. It will not, therefore, be out of mark to 
say that the origin of the Satya pir cult is to 
be looked for in the IGth century. Satya pir in 
the poem of Krisnahari Das, whom we suspect 
to have been a Muhammadan, though he retains 
his Hindu name, described his deified prophet as 
having in his hand a long stick called the asa ; 
his hair is knotted, and on his forehead is 
a large sandal mark ; in his left hand he carries 
a flute ; he has sacred threads on his breast 
and these are golden ; he wears the ochre- 
coloured cloth of a yogi and has a chain for 
belt. The only Muhammadan element in this 
description is this chain which a fakir is often- 
times seen to wear round his waist. 

An interesting story is told of Satya pir and 
of his power to help the honest 

Oazid Ali's story. 

people that adhere to him in 
times of distress, by one Oazid Ali. I give a 
summary of this story below. 

In Chandan-nagar, in the district of Hooghly 

there lived a merchant named 

Sundara in the 

charge of Suraati and Jayadhara who had three sons. 

Knmati. mi • ti ^ -i 

Tneir names were Madana, 
Kamadeva and Sundara. The merchant at the 



104 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

time of his death called his two sons Madana 
and Kamadeva to his presence, and desired them 
to take particular care of his youngest son 
Sundara. They promised to do so. On the 
death of their father, the two brothers started 
on a sea-voyage leaving Sundara in the charge of 
their wives Sumati and Kumati. As the three 
brothers had lost their mother long ago, and 
Sundara was a young boy and orphan, his 
brothers made all sorts of arrangement for his 
education and domestic comforts, before leaving 
home. The author here gives a description of 
the sea-voyage of the brothers detailing among 
other things the particulars about the route to 
the sea from Chandan-nagar. 

The wives of the brothers, however, were 
no human beings, but witches. Every night 
they cast their spell on Sundara which made 
him sleep soundly till the morning, and doing 
this they left home and ascended a tree which 
by their spell moved fast in the air and carried 
them to Kaynur (Assam) which was their native 
place. Sundara knew nothing of their doings, 
for when he awoke in the morning, he found 
his sisters-in-law at home as usual ; for they 
returned home by the same vehicle before 
the dawn, every day. One night when Sundara 
slept quietly in his bed, Satya Pir appeared in 
the room and made a sign by which the spell 
of the witches was broken and he awoke. He 



PLAN OF ASSASSINATION 106 

found that the sisters-in-law were not at home, 
so he spent the rest of the night in great 
anxiety and fear. At the dawn of the day 
the witches left aside their own forms and 
returned home in those of human beings, 
Sundara took them to task for lea vino; the house 
at night and they were very much frightened 
lest he should report this to their husbands 
on their return. They were, however, shrewd 
They plan his assassi- cuough to conccal their mental 
confusion and produced some 
pleas for explaining their absence at night. 
They then fed him better than on other days, 
and, when he fell asleep in the night, went 
to the river-side and worshipped Kali with 
incense, flowers, and sandal. They wanted the 
boon of killing their brother-in-law and the 
power was granted to them by Kali. They 
returned home vaunting between themselves 
that being witches of Kaynur they could put 
men to death and restore them to life if they 
so wished. They then cast their spell on the 
sleeping youth who vomited blood and died in 
their presence. Before death, he had asked of 
Sumati and Kumati a cup of water for quench- 
ing his thirst, but they smiled and ridiculed 
him in his agonies, and looked at him, all the 
while, with their malignant eyes. When the 
young Sundara, who was exceedingly handsome, 
died, they carried his body to a forest and left 
14 



106 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

it there to be eaten by jackals. Now Satya 
Pir, who was at tliat time in tlie company of 
his brother Amin, felt uneasy and perceived 
through his all-seeing eyes what had happened, 
he came to the spot and restored the dead youth 
to life ; for Sundara was one of his most devoted 
servants. The youth, on getting back his life, 
said, "No more shall I enter a house in which my 
sisters-in-law are witches. They will torture me 
and kill me again ; let me follow you and serve 
you the rest of my life. You 
Restored to life by havc bccu my llfc-giver, and 
Satya pir. tlicrc cau bc uo higher gratifica- 

tion of my soul than being 
permitted to offer my humble services to 
you." But Satya Pir insisted on his return 
home, saying, " Take my word, if they do 
you any harm, I shall forthwith come to 
your rescue." He was thus obliged to come back ; 
the sisters-in-law, who seeing him revived felt a 
thrill of horror in the heart of their hearts, out- 
wardly showed no sign of their feelings, and 
received him with kindness. In the night, how- 
ever, they put their heads together to devise 
means for killing him. This time they took a 
sharp knife and cut his throat with it. They 
then cut his body into seven parts and carried 
the parts in a bag to a forest, where they 
buried each of these in a different place. 
The scrutinising eyes of Satya Pir, however, 



TOWARDS KAYNUR 107 

saw the foul deed through all its stages. 
He secured the parts and 

As s a s s i n a t i 071, i i ii i i ji 

a second time. restoreu the murdered youth 

to life. The disconsolate youth 
could by no means he persuaded, this time, 
to return home ; so the Pir took him to a tree 
and ordered him to ascend it and keep himself 
concealed in one of the hranches thickly over- 
grown with leaves. Now the witches had this 
time been perfectly satisfied that even the god 
Satya Pir could not have possibly found out the 
parts of Sundara's body and restored him to life. 
In this hope they were confirmed by the fact that 
Sundara did not return home that night. They 
had in the meantime heard that the princess of 
Kaynur would elect a bridegroom from amongst 
her suitors tliat very night, and there would be 
consequently a great festivity in the king's 
palace there ; so they resolved to go there and 
witness the ceremony, relieved as they were 
from all anxieties about their brother-in-law 
whom they now took for dead once for all. They 
came to the self -same tree where Sundara lay 
hidden, and ascending its top, cast their spell on 
it ; the tree moved in lightning's speed through 
the air and reached Kaynur in the twinkling of 
an eye. One of the sisters had remarked on 
ascending the tree, "sister, why does the tree seem 
heavy this day ?" But the other made light of 
it and no further notice was taken. After the 



108 FOLK LITERATURE OE BENGAL 

sisters had alighted, Sundara also got down and 
Satya Pir led him to the Hall 

Sundara goes to 

Kaynur by means of wliero the pi'inces wcre as- 

the magic tree. t i n ^ 

sembled, trom amongst whom 
the king's daughter would elect her bridegroom. 
Sundara took his seat among the princes and 
Satya Pir, whom the king's daughter also wor- 
shipped daily, privately instructed her to offer 
the garland of flowers reserved for the bride- 
groom to Sundara. The princess was right glad 
to do so, as Sundara was the handsomest youth 
in that assembly. In the night Sundara slept 
with the princess in the same room, but towards 
the last part of the night, he felt very uncom- 
fortable at the thought that his sisters-in-law 
would return home by means of the flying- 
tree and he would be left alone in the palace of 
the Kaynur king ; so having none of his own 
people there, he would be taken for a vagabond, 
and the princess would be ridiculed for her 
choice. He therefore resolved to return home 
with the two witches ; but before he left his 
wife, he wrote in her apron all particulars about 

himself, expressing his wish 
hom^e" ^™ ^^ "^" that, should she feel miserable 

at parting with him, she might 
go to Cliandan-nagar with her royal father's 
permission. He thus came back to the tree and 
unperceived by his sisters-in-law, hid himself in 
one of the leafy branches. A few moments 



TURNED INTO A BIRD 109 

after the witches also came tliere, and ascended 
the top of the tree which moved under their 
spell towards the city of Ohandan-nagar. They 
alighted from the tree on reaching the city and 
Sundara followed them. What was their dismay, 
rage and vexation when they saw their hrother- 
in-law return home in sound health and excellent 
spirit. 

They now resolved to get rid of him l)y some 
means other than assassination. In the night 
they tied a charm with the hair of the youth, 
which effected his transformation to a Suka 
(a bird). This done, they took the bird to a 
great distance from home and let it fly in a 
dense jungle. When the hunters came they 
caught the bird and carried it to the sea-shore 
for selling it to some merchant. 

^^Transformed into a j^^^^ ^^ ^j^^^ ^-^^^ Madaua aud 

Kama Deva, two brothers of 
Sundara, were returning home with their ships 
laden with riches. One of the brothers said 
" Look there, a hunter goes with a Suka bird. 
I remember that my brother Sundara had asked 
me to get a Suka for him and it is such a beauti- 
ful bird ! I shall purchase it at any cost for my 
dear brother." The price was settled at one 
thousand rupees and the brothers took the bird 
with them little suspecting that it was their dear 
brother himself transformed into that shape by 
the spell cast on him by their wicked wives. 



110 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

Meantime the princess of Kaynur awoke in 
the morning and was greatly alarmed to find 
that the bridegroom was not in the room. The 
whole palace was in a state of agitation over 
the mysterious disappearance of the merchant's 
son. They now discovered the writings on the 
apron of the princess, who 

toclL'ui^rg™"'"" in«ifted o" h*"' '-^yal father's 
giving her permission to go 
to Chandan-nagor in quest of her hushand. 
Several ships were made ready by the order 
of the king and the princess was on board the 
show-ship with her maids. The ships were 
laden witli rich dowries and it took them several 
days to reach Chandan-nagor, and when they 
did so, the witches tried to turn her out on 
various pretexts. But she preferred to stay 
at her husband's liouse in spite of all dissuasions; 
for Satya Pir in the shape of a white fly had 
instructed her to stay there. 

The l3rothers Madana and Kamadeva arrived 
at the city a few days after. 

brother^ °^ *''*' ''^'^'^' "T^^y ^^'^^'^ greatly grieved to 
hear from their wives a story 
about Sundara (which they had fabricated) to 
the effect that Sundara's character had grown 
very bad after their departure ; he mixed with 
bad women and wandered away from home for 
the last two months ; they could not get a clue 
as to his Avhereabouts though they had tried 



RESTOREB TO HIS OWN FORM 111 

their best; a woman had in the meantime come 
to their' home calling herself a princess and wife 
of Sundara ; but of this marriage they knew 
nothing. The brothers loved Sundara very 
dearly and their minds were filled Avith grief 
at this report. They joined their tears with 
those of the princess whom they took to be 
Sundara's wife inspite of the insinuations made 
against her by Sumati and Kumati in their 
report. The princess was presented with the 
bird Suka which the brothers had brought for 
Sundara. She wept as she caressed the bird 
affectionately thinking it to be a thing which 
rightly belonged to her husband. One day as 
she touched the head of the bird, she discovered 
something tied with its crest. This was 
the spell of the witches by 

hifh^^.C'"' «'•"«'' they liad changed 
Sundara into a bird. Instantly, 
as the spell \\as removed, her husband assumed 
his own shape, and stood before her. He told 
her all about the witchcraft of his sisters-in-law 
which had changed him into a bird, but 
whispering something into her ears, asked her 
to tie the charm again with his forelock and 
not to noise about the matter. She did as she 
was bid and Sundara became a bird as'ain. 
Next day she invited her two brothers-in-law 
to a dinner. She said that she would cook the 
meal herself to serve them. They came to^dine 



112 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

at the usual hour but were surprised to find 
three seats and three sets of golden plates and 
cups with food before them. They were only 
two ; who was the third one invited ? The 
princess appeared before them at this stage 
and said " You two are here, but Avhere is your 
youngest brother gone ? call him to dine with 
you." The brothers thought that the princess' 

head had gone wrong owing 
uJo^n. "'"*'^''''' ''"'^ to her grief, and they wept at 

what she said, and would not 
touch the meal. But the youngest lady of the 
house insisted on their calling their brother 
aloud and asking him to come and dine with 
them. Weeping they called out for their brother, 
only for quieting one whose brain, they thought, 
had gone out. But she had removed the charm 
from the bird's head and as soon as Sundara, who 
was himself again, heard the call of his brothers, 
he came out and joined them. Their happiness 
knew no bounds at meeting one whom they had 
given up for lost. After the dinner Sundara told 
the story of her sisters-in-law and convinced his 
brothers that they were witches by many proofs. 
Upon this they ordered a big hole to be dug in 

their courtyard and told their 

The puiiishineut. . Ji i i i 

Wives that as robbers were re- 
ported to infest that locality, they meant to put 
all their riches in a secure place under-ground 
and they had thus made a deep hole in the 



ANOTHER DEIFIED SAINT ll'^> 

coiu't-yard of their house. The two wives eagerly 
wanted to see the hole wliich would contain the 
wealth of the family. But as they stood near 
it in an inclining posture to look down into it 
they were pushed down from behind ; and as they 
fell into the pit, it was immediately tilled up 
Avith earth and they were thus buried alive. 
The two brothers next married two very accom- 
plished and beautiful girls of Kaynur, and we 
need not say that in the marriage settlements 
the princess had taken an active part. A 
smni on a very grand scale was offered to 
Satya Pir for befriending the family in their 
distress. 



The story of another deified saint. 

Another saint who has also been deified by 
the Hindus and Mahomedans alike, second only 
to Satya Pir in popular esteem — whose achieve- 
ments and deeds have been extolled in many 
rural legends of Bengal — is Manik Pir, a 
Mahomedan Fakir. Among many works written 
about this saint we shall confine ourselves 
to the account given of him by Munshi 
Pijiruddin. 

Gaza and Manik were the twin -sons of Saha 
Karaaruddin by Dudh Bibi. The Saha was in 
15 



114 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

prosperous circumstances, and his wife Dudh Bibi 
was a remarkable beauty. Tlie 

Piiuracldin's version. ^ 

twin sons were A^ery handsome, 
and Hira, the maid- servant of the house, one day 
told her mistress Dudh Bibi that she should be 

thankful to God for giving her 
Dadh Bibi's piide ^^^eh lovclv baWes. But Dudh 

and miSTortunes. k lw-jj. ^t 

Bibi said " the babies are hand- 
some because 1 am handsome ; don't you see they 
are exact copies of myself ? where do you find 
the ffrace of God in it ? If I and my dear 
husband live, we shall have many more cViildren 
like these." Hira did not like this reply, but 
did not dare contradict this blasphemous speech. 
But God Almighty heard all that she said and 
was wroth. Gabriel, by divine command, was 

appointed to punish the wicked 

Defiant attitude and ]3^^(|li ]3i]3i ^y^Q J^^d belittled 

the punishment. ^ 

liis Divine Majesty. She got 
a severe fever and Saha Kamaruddin, when 
advised by Hira to pray to God for her re- 
covery, said " I shall cure the fever by my own 
power and by the help of the physicians." 
Allah heard the boast and was wroth. Gabriel 
by his command afflicted him also with fever. 
Kamaruddin went in quest of a physician and 
Satan led him to a wine-shop. He drank pro- 
fuselv at the Evil One's instigation, came home 
and gave some wine to his wife also. This 
caused an aggravation of their disease and they 



A MEAN JEALOUS if 115 

gradually lost their wealth and were reduced to 
poverty. When verging' on starvation they 
found themselves compelled to sell Manik, one 
of their twin sons, only five years old, to 
a man named Eadarjanda, a merchant, for 
ten rupees. 

Now Eadarjanda, making over the beautiful 
child to the care of his wife Surath Bibi, went 

to a distant country for trade, 
meSnt. '°^'' '" '' ^ud camc back home after 

12 years. By this time Manik 
had 2:roAvn to be a handsome youth, and Badar- 
janda on returning home found his wife in the 
company of the handsome-looking young man 
whom he could not recognise to be the child 
that he had bought for ten rupees before he had 
left home. He called in question the propriety 
of his wife's conduct in receiving an unknoAvn 
young man into the house with familiarity. And 
inspite of his wife's reminding him of his having 
made over the child to her charge when he was 
only live, and of her having nursed and brought 
him up ever since that time as her own son, the 

infuriated merchant put the 

A meaii suspicion youtll iuto a WOOdcU ])0X and 
iuid Manik tlu-owu in- , r. , •, -\ir- •^ i 

to tire. set lire to it. Manik prayed 

to Almighty Allah to save him 
from the danger, and He took compassion on 
the innocent youth and sent Gabriel to render 
the help he needed. The tire burnt not the box 



il6 FOLK LITERATURE 0¥ EENGAL. 

thoug'li it was fed by oil ; and finally when the lire 
Avas extino^uished the wooden box was found intact. 
But what was the astonishment of Badarjanda 
when on opening the box he found Manik in good 
health and spirits in the attitude of prayer like 
a second Prahlada of the Hindu legends. Surath 
Eibi, whose grief had known no bounds, for she 
had loved Manik as her son, now came with open 
arms to receive the youth, and Badarjanda him- 
self felt greatly repentant for his act. But Manik 
said, " No more, dear parents, for, though I am 
not your son by birth, I have ahvays looked upon 
you Avith the affection which only a child may 
feel for his parents. No more shall I stay in 
this world to suffer miseries from which even 

innocence cannot escape. The 
G"n'.Uu™rrFa«';f Lord Ims shown His mercy to 

me, and Gabriel has lighted the 
torch to guide my path of life ; I belong to them 
and to none else." Saying so he took a staff in 
his hand, and put on the ochre-coloured cloth of 
an ascetic and saying " Blessed be the name of 
Allah " left the house as a mendicant. God took 
mercy on him and gave him supernatural 
powers. 

Prom that time he gave many proofs of his 
miraculous power. He did so fii'st of all in the 
house of a llaja whose queen Ran j ana had treat- 
ed him rudely. He had gone to the palace for 
begging alms but the queen had turned him out 



RAN J ana's MISFOllTUNi^^S ll? 

and when the I'akir liad spoken true av ords with- 
out flattery, the angry queen 

Jlanjana's punishment ^^,^^^^^^1 o^j^ qI" her maids to kill 

and eventual restora- " 

tion tu her f-uocl for- j^-j^ ^^^^ ^J^^, ^p^j^ j^y ^ strokc 

tunes by tlie grace ot ■•• " 

t^'«i''i- of her sword. The weapon 

however did not do any harm to the Eakir hut 
killed the maid-servant who wielded it. The 
Fakir disappeared from the spot after having 
pronounced a curse on the queen. The curse 
Avas that the queen would wander in the forests 
for twelve years, forsaken by all and suiter great 
miseries. iVs a matter of course the queen 
suffered all that the prophet had said, and was 
eventually restored to her good fortunes by 
Manik Pir's kindness, Avhom she had propitiated 
by repentance and prayers. This part in the story 
is an exact repetition of a part of an old folk- 
tale which we find recorded in the story of Malati 
Kusuma Mala compiled by a Muhammadan writer 
and also in that of Sanklia Mala edited by Dakshi- 
naranjan Mitra Majumdar. The only difference 
between the above two tales and that of Manik 
Pir, so far as this portion is concerned, is of 
course that the merchant's wife (in the above two 
stories she is not a queen but a merchant's wife) 
is restored to her former good fortunes by other 
agencies than the intervention of Manik Pir. 

The chief act of Manik Pir, however, by 
which he revealed himself as an authorised 
prophet of God, is his treatment of some of the 



118 FOLK LITER \TUK,E OF BENGAL 

Goalas of the city of Virat. Here is the account 
(considerably abridi^-ed in translation from the 
original), given by Munslii Pijiruddin. 

" By the command of Gabrielthe, Pir came 
to the house of one Kinu Ghosh in A^irat Nagar. 
Kinu had a brother named Ktinu, and they be- 
longed to the milkman caste. A short while 
before the Pir went there, the 

The Gliosli-tamily. 

brothers had gone to their cow- 
shed to bring milk. Their dairy contained a 
considerable stock of milk, curd and butter, 
and they made immense profits out of their 
sale ; so that Kinu and Kanu Avere noted in 
the city for their great wealth by the favour of 
tlie Almighty. They had besides many cows and 
bullocks. One of the brothers had a son, who 
was handsome as a cherub. Coming to the door 
of the house the Pir cried aloud, " Lai Laha" and 
called the mother of the tAvo traders from out- 
side. She sat inside the house, and hearing the 
loud call, said to a maid-servant, " Just go and see 
who calls me so loudly at the door." The maid- 
servant approached the Pir, and asked him as to 
what he Avanted. The Pir, Avho Avas accompanied 
by his brother Gaja, said in reply, " We are 
Eakirs and have not tasted any food for these 

seven days, if you Avill give us 
wictd aci"' ''""" some milk and curd, we shall 

satisfy our appetite and bless 
you and go aAvay." The maid-servant reported 



THE OLD LADV'S AA'ICKEDNESS 111) 

this to the old lady, but she instructed her to say 
that the brothers had gone to bring- milk, and 
there was nothing at that moment in the house to 
ofVer th-em. Upon which Manik Pir told the 
maid servant, " The mistress of the house tells a 
lie ; there are 20 lbs. of milk and 40 lbs. of curd 
in the house at this moment." The maid-servant 
reported it again to her mistress, who became 
angry and said, " Why should we be tormented 
in this way early in the morning Avhen we have 
not yet commenced our domestic duties. If 
the prophets can say what is in the house and 
what is not, without seeing with their own eyes, 
why do such big people wear rags and live by 
begging ?" Saying so she came out and asked 
" Why do you not believe my statement that 
there is nothing in the house to offer you?" 
Manik Pir said, " There are 20 lbs. of milk and 
40 lbs. of curd in the house. Why do you tell a 
lie ?" The old woman was very angry and said, 
"Let me see hoAV truthful you are. There stands 
a cow, milk it as much as you like, and satisfy 
your hunger." Now the coav the old Avoman 
showed to the J^^akirs was barren, having never 
given birth to a calf, but by the help of Gabriel 
and the will of Almighty God Manik Pir touched 
the nipples of the animal and profuse quantities 
of milk came out to the Avonder of the old lady 
and her maid-servant. When, hoAvever, he 
Avanted a pitcher, the old woman gave him one 



120 FOLK LII'ERATIJJIE OF BEN&A.L 

which leaked in a hundred places, but the Pir 
filled that pitcher and several others which had 
similar holes at the bottom witli milk, and not a 
drop was lost. As Manik Pir milked the cow, 
two of her nipples gave milk and two butter, 
and seven big pitchers were lilled with these. 
The old woman carried them to her house and 
did not give a drop of them to Manik or his 
brother Gaja. Sanaka, lier daughter-in-law and 
wife of Kinu Ghosh, said, " How is it that not 
only did you not give any food to the Pakirs from 
the house, but you have taken away all the milk 
that they have got by their miraculous power ?" 
The angry mother-in-law exclaimed, " You call 
it miracle, that is nonsense. They secretly got 
the milk from their house and they have pro- 
duced it here. How can it be believed that 
a barren cow will yield so much milk and 
butter ? The two Pakirs are great impostors." 
The young Avife said, " If they got it from 
their own home, it is their property ; why then 
have you usurped it?" 'J he old woman 
said nothing, but left the place evidently 
annoyed with her daughter-in-law. Now Sanaka, 
the good wife, took with her a small quantity 
of milk and offered it to the Pir and 
his brother. They drank milk and Manik 
touched the head of tlie young wife and blessed 
her. Just at that moment the old lady came 
up, and very much resented the conduct of her 



FORTUNES LOST AND FOUND 121 

daughter-in-law. Not satisfied with merely 
scolding her, she ran out of the house and met 
her son Kanu Ghosh, and said, "Just come, and 
see your wife's conduct. Two young Fakirs have 
come, and she is very jolly in tlieir company." 
Kanu Ghosh came in all haste and struck the 
Pir on the head with his stick. The PJr threw 
his turhan on the earth and disappeared with his 
brother. The turban became a cobra and it stuns: 

Kanu Ghosh who fell instantly 
cobra^"" ^*^^""" ^ "^ ^ senseless on the ground. Sanaka, 

the good wife, was struck with 
great grief, her husband lieing taken for dead ; but 
the Pir took pity on her and came there in the 
guise of a Bralimin who professed to be a healer 
of snake-bite. The old woman promised him half 
of lier property if he could restore her son Kanu 

Ghosh to life. But when the 

Restored to life. . n i- i 

Brahmm actually did so, she 
fainted in fear lest the physician should lay claim 
on one half of her property. The Brahmin, who 
was no other than Manik Pir himself, went away 
greatly enraged at her conduct, and, as a result, 
the cows and bullocks of their family-dairy died in 
the course of a week, and all their property was 
destroyed. Kanu Ghosh was in great distress ; his 

wife Sanaka told him that all 

They lose and re- ^^^^ ^y^^ ^|^g ^q jjjg mother's mis- 

gam their lortunes. 

behaviour towards the Pakir. 
Kanu asked her to seek him out and propitiate 
16 



122 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

by all means. Eor six days Sanaka sought him, 
observing fast and vigil, and on the seventh day 
the Pir, who had known all about her wanderings 
in search of him and waited only to try her 
patience and devotion, appeared before her. She 
fell prostrate before him, and prayed him to save 
the family from utter ruin. The Pir came to 
the house and, by his blessings, the cows and 
bullocks that had died long ago revived and 
" began to cut grass with their teeth." The 
Ghoshes were restored to their former prosperous 
condition. Kanu Ghosh was highly gratified 
and presented the Pir with a coav and ten bighas 
of rent-free land. But the Pir said, " God 
Almighty has made me a Pakir. What shall I 
do w4th your presents ? I do, Jiowever, accept 
them. But return them to you." He ordered 
all Goalas thenceforth to offer the first milk of 
a cow, which would bear a calf, to the earth. 
His glory had now spread far and wide, and he 
departed from the house of the milkmen after 
having blessed them. 

Who this Manik Pir was is a difficult pro 
blem to solve, shrouded as the account of him is 
in all manner of rural fiction. His own name and 
that of his brother are Hindu ; his mother's name 
Dudh Bibi is also Hindu ; the maid-servant of 
the house was Hira, and that is also a Hindu 
name. His father alone bears a Mahomedan 
name. Prom this we can only guess that he 



PIONEERS OF ISLAMITE FAITH 123 

may have been of Hindu extraction ; or more 

probably he may have been born in a family 

converted from the Hindu to Islamite faith. 

The anecdote which describes 

Historical side to- , . . 

tally obscured by ius restormg the dead cows and 
^^^^^ ''' bullocks to life may be a legend 

based upon some healing* power that he possess- 
ed in regard to the diseases of the sacred animals 
of the Hindus. This probably explains the 
reason of the extraordinary respect paid to him 
by the rural agricultural Hindus who are wor- 
shippers of cows. But all this is a mere guess. 
In the legendary account that we have, he does 
not appear as a mortal but as one Avhose acts are 
all super-human. Inspite of all these legends, 
however, he is not an imaginary character and 
must have lived as a saint or prophet in Bengal 
sometime after the Muhammadan conquest. We 
have already noticed that a portion of an old 
folk-tale is now found dovetailed to the account 
of his life in the popular legend. 



Class II. Ploueers of Islamite faitJi. 

We now come to a consideration of the 
second class of the folk-legends according to 
our classification. These relate to the pioneers 
of Islamite faith, who made it the mission of 
their lives to car)'y the Koran in one hand and 



124 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

the s\\ ord in the other as alternatives ; those 
that declined to accept the former were put 
to the sharp edge of the latter. There are 
many sush tales in the vernacular literature 
of Bengal, Avritten by Muhammadans, in a 
style bearing in a very considerable degree 
an admixture of Arabic and Persian Avords. 
We give below the summary of a typical story 
— the legend of Hanif's victory over the 
Kafirs and his marriage Avith the accomplished 
daughter of Raja Bar una. 



The story of the Frincess 3Iaitlla. 

In the city of Medina, there once lived All the 
famous wrestler. He married a far-famed beauty 
named Hanifa. They got a son whom they 
called Hanif . This son gi-ew to be a great wrest- 
ler and hero in his youth, so much so that no 
one ventured to challenge him to a fight. He 
waged war against the ' Kafirs ' and made many 
of them converts to Islam. 

Now one dav he heard of a great Hindu kino? 
named Barujia. It Avas report- 

Hanif goes on an ex- -!->_•_ • . .it 

pedition against Raja cu that the Iia]a Avas invinci blc 

^^ "'■'''■ in Avar, and that he had a 

daughter whose l)eauty was unmatched in the three 

worlds. This report inflamed the imagination of 

Hanif — the wrestler. He asked permission of Ali, 



Hanif'« march 125 

his father to tight the Eaja. Ali referred him to 
Fathema Bibi, and she ajjaiii to bis mother Hanifa. 
Fathema said that Hanifa knew everything 
about the Raja, so if she granted him the permis- 
sion, there could be no hindrance in the way. 
Hanif {accordingly called on his mother and 
sought her permission to tight the invincible 
Raja and win the hand of his handsome daughter, 
the princess Mallika, after having defeated him 
in the open field. The mother opposed, saying 
that the Raja was a very great hero and that 
there was every chance of Hanif being killed in 
the field should he trv to match his strensTth 
against the Raja. But Hanif, Avho was full of fire 
to punish the infidels, was not to be dissuaded 
by fear. So the mother was obliged to give him 
the permission. 

Hanif gathered a great force. He took with 
him a large number of Avar-horses and camels 
outside the city of Medina and the people of that 
city blessed him before he departed, saying " May 
you succeed in the cause of the propagation of 
of Islam." 

Now the Raja's daughter Mallika was not 
only the handsomest woman 

Not only handsome i • i • 

but possessed of great that livcd lu the world at the 

physical strength. j • i i^ n r- 

time, but was possessed oi a 
herculine strength of body. She used to go 
a-hunting in the remotest parts of her royal 
father's dominions, and kill tigers with her own 



126 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

hands without using weapons. With her short 
sword that hung by her side, she Avould some- 
times strike wild elephants across the root of 
their trunks which she Avould cut off Avith one 
blow. The animals turned from her, fell down 
and expired. 

When she came of a fit age, her father 
thought of sending (match-makers) ghatakas 
all over the neighbouring countries in quest of a 
suitable bridegroom, whose personal qualifications 
and social status would be worthy of the gifted 
princess. But she told her father, " Not only 
are these qualifications required, but the prince 
who will seek my hand must bind himself by a 
promise that he will conquer me in fight. If he 
can do so, right glad shall I be to offer my hands 
to him ; if not, him shall I kill with my own hands ; 
let this be the condition, for it will preserve me 
„ „ v c, o from an undesirable rush of 

How the suitors were 

^^'^^^^^- suitors." And the messengers 

were sent out accordingly to proclaim these con- 
ditions to the intending bridegrooms. Many a 
prince came and fought with Mallika and at the 
end was beheaded by her hands ; and when a 
prince struck with terror tied from her presence, 
she would pursue him till she caught him by the 
hair of his head, and would indignantly cry out 
"You coward of a prince, you coveted my hand, 
here take the reward " and saying so she struck 
him down with her sword and killed him on the 



UMHAR — THE GENERAL 127 

spot. So the wliole of the neighbouring kingdoms 
were filled with a feeling of great terror, and no 
prince dared to approach Baruna as suitor for 
his daughter's hand. 

Now Hanif's messenger came to tlie capital 
umharin ti,e Conn ^^ ^^^ll'"^ Baruna ; he was called 
of Raja Baruna. Umhar, the wrcstlcr ; he wore 

skin trousers, carried a shield of paper on his 
back and held a wooden sword in his hand ; he 
had besides a bow with a quiver that had no 
arrows in it, and he limped as he walked. When 
he came to the great audience-hall of Raja 
Baruna, he did not bow to the king, nor observe 
any form of courtesy current in the court. The 
Raja was angry and the courtiers hissed, saying 
that the unmannerly fellow should be punished 
for his folly. The messenger said "I am a servant 
of God — the one God who reigns supreme. I will 
not bend my head before a Kafir." Then the 
whole court cried out "Lo, a vile Turk has 
come, purify the city by sprinkling holy water 
over it and wash the temples with cow-dung and 
sandal-paste. The city is defiled by his presence." 
" Kill him," " Kill him" ran the cry every- 
where; but nobodv could see hitn, beino^ made 
invisible by the power of the Lord in whom he 
believed. He remained there unseen by others. 
After a short while, however, he appeared to 
the view of the court, and, approaching the king, 
gave him a blow. And when the guards again 



128 FOLK LITERA.TURE OF BENGAL 

Iried to catch hold of him, he disappeared mys- 
teriously as he had done before. 

The king was perplexed and when Umhar, 
the messenger of Hanif, became visible again, 
he did not try to seize or molest him bnt asked 
what he wanted ; upon this he delivered a letter 
from Hanif addressed to Raja Baruna. The 
letter ran thus — " You king Baiuna, abandon 
your belief in false gods and goddesses and 
become a convert to Islam. And give your 
daughter Mallik^i in marriage with me. If you 
do not do so I will come to 

Hanif's letter to i • i ^•^ ii i 

Raja Baruna. Jour kingdom like a thunder- 

bolt, destroying your temples 
and seizing your property, and I will take away 
Mallika by force from the royal harem. So be 
advised, and, with the Avliole of the citizens 
accept Islam and secure your place in Behest 
and be on terms of amity with me." 

The letter was read aloud and hisses of 
indignation and cries of " Kill the upstart, the 
vile Turk " was heard all around. The R-aja 
whose face showed the deep purple of anger, 
exclaimed, " Messenger, tell your chieftain, the 
vile Turk, that if he comes with his force here, 
he will find his burial here, and none of his 
followers will be allowed to go back to his native 
country. With my whole city I will observe 
fast for three days for expiating the sin of seeing 
you, a jaixuKi, in this city." The messenger 



FIRST day's battle 129 

departed, and in tlie meantime the king said 
to his courtiers, " The Turks will be in this 
city in a short time ; they will desecrate the 
temples and throw cow-bones and beef in the 
sacred places. We cannot allow it. Let us 
go forth with our army to the open ground in 
the outskirts of our city. 
Prepaiatious for a Thcrc shall wc meet the foe." 

iiKirch to meet the foe 

outside the city. Saying SO lie ordered a general 

march of his army to a place 
20 miles off from the capital. He had 10,000 
trained elephants, and an immense number of foot- 
soldiers, besides his invincible cavalry, dreaded 
by the kings of other countries. An extensive 
field was fixed as the battle-ground where flags 
were raised in several spots with the name of 
the Kins: Baruna inscribed on them. Hanif 
met him in that field. In the morning of the 
first day with the sound of the war-drums his 
soldiers marched to meet those of the Eaja. 
Hanif's general Umhar did great havoc in 
the enemy's ranks. In the 
and^heflTghf^' '''""'" eveuiug when the drums 
sounded the signal to close the 
battle Raja Baruna called his generals and 
ordered them to assemble together at one point 
the next day, with elephants carrying maces by 
their trunks and with chargers going ahead of 
them ; and thus united, to make a rush at the 
enemy and crush them by sheer dint of 
17 



130 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

their number. "Desultory fight at several 
points " his Majesty said " will do us no good. 
All, all must attack simultaneously." The next 
day this was done but the general for that day 
on the side of Hanif was Ali Akbar, whose 
nerves seemed to be made of steel. He made 
even greater havoc in the Raja's army, than 
Umhar had done the day before. On the third 
day the Raja himself led the army and fought 
with Hanif a hand to hand fight, but could not 
maintain his position, so that in the evening 
he had to make a precipitous retreat with his 
army and come back to his capital, losing the 
finest of his cavalry, a large number of ele- 
phants and foot-soldiers. 

But when Mallika, the princess heard of 

this disaster, she trembled in 
goesTo%\t. ' ' ^ anger, thinking of the insult 

and loss done to her country 
by the Turks. She armed herself then and 
there, and rode a horse, the speed of which 
could be compared to that of the wind alone. 

She met Hanif in the field and cried out, 
"You vile Turk, do youknow that with my 
own hands I have beheaded many a prince, 
so that young men of the neighbouring aristo- 
cracy shudder at my name for fear ? You 
have come with a vile proposal and know not 
my lineage and qualifications. Here do I spit 
at your proposal. But I will not leave this 



MALLIKA AND HANIP 131 

field, until I have killed you with my own 
hands as I have done others." Hanif smiled 
and said, '' Better woidd be your place in the 
harem, from Avliich I could pick you up as one 
plucks a flower from the garden. Your father 
would have been well-advised to deliver you to 
me ; for I am really sorry for the sanguinary 
battle that raged here for the last three days and 
the loss of lives caused by it. Be advised, read the 
kahna, give up ghost-worship ; you will be 
happy in this world, and, following Islam, you 
will secure permanent happiness in Behest." 
The princess did not wait to listen to a further 
eloquent discourse from the enemy, but hit him 
on the head with a dart which tore his tur- 
ban and gave a rude shock to his head that 
reeled for a moment. Hanif felt in the force 
of the dart that his antagonist, though looking 
like a tender flower, really possessed a mascu- 
line strength and might prove to be more than 
a match for him. Eor the whole day they 
fought ; they fought unceasingly with guns, 
arrows, spears and maces, but the hero of 
Medina could not conquer his lotus-eyed op- 
ponent. And when the war drum in the 
evening announced the close of all action for 
the day, Hanif returned to his camp with eye- 
brows knit in wild astonishment over wha.t 
he had experienced during the day and 
for which he Avas not prepared. He was 



132 FOLK LITERATUHE OF BENGAL 

determined to gain the woman for his bride ; 
and love evermore gave liim strength to 
strike where he would fain pay the tribute 
of worship. The next day the fight was re- 
sumed. The princess rose from her bed first, 
came to the field first and Avas the first to 
challensre her antao-onist. That day Hanif 
killed the horse of Mallika, but she rode an- 
other horse and showed no sign of losing heart. 
For twenty days they fought, still Hanif could 
not conquer her. She looked soft like a shiri- 
sha flower, but at the time of battle seemed like 
a marble statue on whom the unceasing gust 
of rain-like arrows and gun-shots left no trace. 
On the twenty-first day Hanif said, " Look here, 
princess, you have fought enough and a liar 

shall I be, if I do not say that 
The duel. I havc admired your strength 

no less than your beauty, both 
of which are more than what I have seen in 
others. To-day I offer you a challenge, which 
should you accept, the close of this fight might 
be expedited. Here do I lie on the ground 
with my back above and hands clasped 
below. If vou have streno-th enousjlh, fair 
princess, raise me up from the ground and 
throAv me away as one would do a ball. If 
you cannot, place yourself in the same position 
and I will lift you up and throw you away." 
Mallika, the undaunted woman, accepted the 



THE CONQUEST 133 

challenge. Ilamf placed himself on the ground 
Avitli his back above and hands clasj^ed below 
his l)reast. And she tried all her strength to 
lift him up. She could not do it first time ; 
her face reddened with toil ; she tried a second 
time, and on her brows stood big drops of sweat, 
but she failed to move that body lying like a 
hard block of stone. And she tried thrice, she 
applied all her might ; not an inch she could 
move him and she stood exhausted and ashamed 
■ failing in her attempt. Then she placed her- 
self in the self-same position, with her back 
above and breasts below, and between them and 
the earth she clasped her both hands in firm 
fists. Hanif seized her body, covered with armour, 
and applying all his strength threw it up with 
such a force that for a moment she looked like 
a ball high in the air, and then fell. The fall 
would have reduced her to atoms, had not 
Hanif, whose love for her had not ceased but 
grown from day to day, caught her half-way 
and placed her on his knees. With a look of 
tender love he watched her, for she had fainted, 
and sprinkled scented water on 

111 the embrace of a , .1 i i 

Turk. her eyes. As she recovered her 

senses, she found herself in the 
embrace of a Turk, and had no other alternative 
left than to consent to be his bride. 

Now the King Baruna had heard of this 
disaster and stood at the main gate of his 



134 FOLK LiTEllATURE OF 13ENGAL 

capital, determined to oppose the aggressive 
Islamite force and to die rather than yield. 
Ali Akbar, the general of Hanif, after a severe 
fight -caught hold of him and brought him 
before his master, bound in chains. Hanif 
said " I have no mind to molest you further. 
jNIucli blood has been shed and 

c„„v!;:uot,r"" I «'ill "ot wiUingly do a 
cruel act to the parent of my 
consort. I charge you to accept Islam, to 
demolish the temples of evil-spirits that you 
have erected in your city, calling them gods. 
I charge you further to sanction my marriage 
with your daughter and tell your citizens to 
read the kalma, erect mosques and do as our 
Mollas bid. If you will do all this, I shall 
restore you to your kingdom and revere you as 
father ; or else you know by bitter experience 
Avhat will befall your kingdom." And the king 
Baruna did all this, not daunted by fear, nor 
for saving his life, nor for any love for Islam, 
but for the shame that his beloved daughter 
had accepted a Turk for husband. The shame of 
this would be on him, even if he gained victory, 
and make him an outcast and given up by his 
kith and kin. 



HTSTOmCAL BALLADS 135 

This tale so often told in the vernacular 
verse, has been retold by Munshi Aminuddin — 
a native of Kharda, though he tells us that his 
version is the first. Hanif's adventurous life, 
his heroism in the field and carrying off of hand- 
some girls from Hindu homes, have formed 
the themes of many vernacular poems. We 
have the story of his love with 
other stories ii- Jayffuu lu animated Benafali 

liistrating the chivalr}- * " ^ 

of Hanif. vcrsc, auothcr with Samrita- 

bhana and a third with 
Sonadhan. These poems show much fire of 
enthusiasm for the Islamite propaganda which 
characterised the 11th and 12th century- 
Moslem zealots. Love was subservient to the 
zeal for propagation of faith and iconoclasm. 
These legends and popular tales, our Muhamma- 
da7i brethren derived from other sources than the 
indigenous, and the contrast between these and 
the Hindu and Buddhistic stories, which are 
still found current amongst Muhamadans, is 
obvious ; the latter are characterised by quiet virtues 
and martyrdom at the altar of domestic duties. 

Along with these tales of heroism and 
love-making of the pioneers of Islamite con- 
quests, may be classed historical ballads and 
songs Avhich have formed a 
Historical ballads. part of the popular literature of 
this country. These have not 
reached the level of decent literature owing 



186 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

to the crude language in which they are couched 
being composed mostly by the illiterate rural 
people. But some of these songs contain authentic 
accounts of some local historical events, or 
sketches of some noted village- 
The chondiuni's cliicfs. Such for iustaiice is the 

Larayi. 

Chaudhuri's Larayi, a book 
written in the 18th centurv, descrihing: a skirmish 
between two zemindars of the Noakhali district. 
But " Samsher Gazir Gana," a ballad of Samsher 
Gazi, is the most remarkalile of this class of songs. 
There is not much of exaggeration in the tale, and 
the author whose name I do not find in the book 
must have taken a good deal of notes and col- 
lected considerable historical materials before 

he began to write the book. 

The song of Samsher j^ ^^,^^ AVrittcU UOt long after 

1752 A.l). when the Gazi was 
murdered and has lately lieen published by my 
friend Maulvi Lutful Kliabir from Noakhali. 
The book discloses a condition of the country 
that existed before the battle of Plassy, showing 
how, with the decadence of the central Mogliul 
power at Delhi, the local chiefs tried to assert 
their independence in various parts of the coun- 
try. But they could not often cope with the 
gangs of robbers and leaders of bandits who in- 
fested the land, taking advantage of the relaxa- 
tion in administration — the natural sequel of the 
fall of a great monarchy. 



STORY OF SAMPHER GAZI 137 

The Gazi was the son of a poor man, who 
verging on the point of starvation with his 
family, had left his native home in the village 
of Kachua, in the Tipperah district and came 
to a place called the Dak- 
p J'^'drfven'bf po- si^ sika— furthcr south. Here 

verty to Nasir..ddin's ^,^ ^J^g Qg^^l's father, Stolo 

jurisdiction, ' ' 

a few long gourds when he 
saw no way to provide food for his son and 
nephew Sadi. But he was caught in the act, 
and taken before the zemindar Nasiruddin. 
Here he made a confession and told the story 
of the extreme poverty from which his family 
suffered . The boys were without any food 
whatever for two or three days and on point of 
death, and seeing no way out from this peril, 
he had taken away seven long gourds without 
the permission of their owner. The pathetic 
story moved Nasir, who paid the owner the 
price of the gourds, and made provision for Piru's 
family. 

Nasir Mahammad, the Zemindar had ten 

anna shares in the extensive zemindary of 

Parsjannah Daksin sika; the remaining six 

annas belonged to Ratan Chau- 

How Nasir s father ^i^^^^y g, natlvc of Khaudal in 

got the zemindary. t/ ' 

Tipperah. Nasir's father Sada 
Gazi, w^ho was an ordinary peasant, had found 
18 



138 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

valuable stones in a copper vessel under the 
earth when ploughing land. He took the 
vessel to Jagat Manikya, King of Tipperah, and 
made him a present of this valuable property. 
Whereupon the Raja was very much pleased 
with him and gave him the zemindary of Dak- 
sin sika. Nasir Mahammad, after his father's 
death, inherited this property. 

Here under the patronage of Nasir, Piru 
throve well. His son Samser Gazi and nephew 
Sadi read in the same school with the sons of 
the zemindar, who treated them with affection 
and kindness. In this school the 
gradually ''show exta! tcachcrs wcrc struck uot ouly by 
power!'^ ^^^''"''^ t^6 Pi'oof of the singular intel- 
lectual power and manly valour 
showed by the Gazi but by the extraordinary 
physical strength which his cousin Sadi dis- 
played ; this appeared more than human to 
everyone ; for, it is said, Sadi strangled a big 
tiger to death without using any weapon. 
About this time the zemindar trusted the Gazi 
with the collection of rents of his landed pro- 
perty at Kud Ghat. Here the Gazi found a 
considerable number of robber-gangs looting the 
property of the ryots and doing many other acts 
of violence upon them. He collected a force 
and held these gangs in check for some time ; 
and at last his cousin — Sadi defeated them in 
several skirmishes and brought them fully under 



THE MARRIAGE PROPOSAL L'59 

his control. The robbers were allowed their lives 
and freedom on two conditions, viz.: (I) that 
they would not farther do any act of oppression 
on the ryots of Nasir Mahammad, (2) that they 
should pay half the amount of the wealth they 
might loot elsewhere, to the Gazi and acknow- 
ledge him as their leader. They agreed to do 
so and the Gazi came in possession of extensive 
riches by this means. He and his cousin Sadi 
found their position quite impregnable in that 
locality. And being inspired by one Goda Hossain 
Khondakar, whom they re- 

They hold the robber- ^ ^ _ '' 

gangs in check and gardcd as their religious guide 

become their head. 

and preceptor, they now 
aspired at far greater achievements than what 
the sons of poor men generally dream of. The 
Khondakar had prophesied that the Gazi would 
one day become the King of Tipperah. 

Nasir Mahammad, the zemindar, who had 
treated them with such kindness and under whom 
they still served, had a beautiful daughter and 

Sadi suggested that the Gazi 
,S of':,Sr«J''°- should Stand a suitor for her 

hand. But the Gazi said, it 
was impossible. Nasir's family-status was much 
higher, and their own status in society was low. 
Secondly they were picked up as street-beggars 
by Nasir and given education and position mere- 
ly out of charitable considerations. A proposal 
like the one suggested would be highly offensive 



140 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

to Nasir and prove to the world that the Gazi 
and his cousin were ungrateful. But Sadi per- 
sisted, and the Gazi, half in fear and half in 
anxiety to please Sadi, sent a messenger to his 
master proposing the marriage. Nasir took it 
as a regular insult and felt that the kindness he 
had shown to the Gazi and his family was 
thrown away to ungrateful men, who might 
afterwards prove his deliberate enemies; a pro- 
posal like that could not, he thought, have come 
from one who had not harboured some further 
base ambition in his heart. So he instantly sent 
men to behead Gazi and his cousin, so that he 
might " see their heads rolling in a pool of blood 
with his ow^n eyes." The Gazi had a scent of 
the order beforehand, and Avith his cousin fled 
from Nasir's jurisdiction and went to live in 
the estates of Noor Mahammad, the Talukdar 

of Pargannah Kachua. The 
Parg?nnahlacw'' letter gavc him pcrmissiou to 

build a house in his city on 
receipt of Rs. 500 as nazar from the Gazi. 
Nasir Mahammad, however, pursued the Gazi 
with a dogged persistence, and Sadi in his turn 
was determined to kill Nasir should an oppor- 
tunity oifer itself. The Gazi had many hot dis- 
cussions with his cousin on this point as he was 
not willing to be treacherous to his old master. 
Sadi said that not only w^ould it be foolish to 
excuse one who was now their sworn enemy but 



NASm IS KILLED 141 

it would be positively unsafe to allow him to 
live, should they themselves care for their 
own lives. In the course of a doj]^ged pursuit on 
the part of each side to llrid an opportunity to 
kill the other, Sadi's spies l)rought the report one 
day, that Nasir was in an ungutirded condition 
at a place named Banspara. Sadi sent messen- 
gers to him with many presents, again proposing 
the marriage of the Gazi with Nasir's daughter. 
The latter was beside himself in rage when he 
read the letter of Sfldi, which was deliberately 
written to provoke him. He ordered his men 
to throw away the presents in his presence and 
kick out the bearers. When this was being 
done, Sadi, who had also accompanied the mes- 
sengers with an army and lay at some distance, 
came forward and attacked him all unguarded, 
and then and there despatched him with 
his sword. A pitched battle was fought between 
the Gazi's army led by Sadi and those of 
Nasir's sons. But the latter were defeated and 
obliged to beat a retreat, and the Gazi came in 
possession of Nasir's landed property. He made 
extensive charities and granted remission of 
rents and by these means secured the good will 
of the ryats there and became very popular. 
Meantime Nasir's sons had applied to the King 
of Tipperah for help, reporting the murder of 
their father and other violent acts of the Gazi. 
The king was very angry and sent 3,000 soldiers 



142 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

with his Uzir Jaydeva at the head in order to 

punish the rebel. Jaydeva was 

„-'^l?%^pp^^' *? *I'^ assisted by his two sjenerals— 

Raja or Tipperah who *' ^ 

sends army against the Shobha Datta and Indra Mandal. 

Gazi. 

The Gazi lived at a fortified 
place in Chagalmuri which was surrounded by a 
deep ditch. The Uzir laid siege to this fort. 
But in the night when the Uzir lay asleep in his 
camp, the Gazi with the help of some local 
people entered the camp like a thief and carried 
the Uzir off to his fort. This was done so quickly 
that the Raja's army could scarcely offer any 
resistance. Now by the Gazi's order, the Uzir 
was placed at the top of the gate of the fort, so 
that when the king's army attacked it, they 
could not shoot arrows or guns lest they hit the 
Uzir. The fort was besides, as already stated, 
surrounded by a ditch which the army could not 
easily cross, owing to the volley of shot the Gazi 
had opened. The Uzir called out to his soldiers 

from the top of the gate and 
captive. ^''^ ""^ ^ '^ ordered them to desist from 

fight. " If you shoot, there is 
the risk of myself being hit ; if you succeed, the 
Gazi will cut my head off. In either case my 
death seems certain ; so go back and report this 
to the king and do as he Avill bid." There was 
therefore no alternative for his army than to 
retire. As soon as the king's army had gone 
away the Uzir's chains were removed and the 



THE GAZi iiECEiVES A sauad 143 

Gazi foil at liis feet and gave him a nazar of 
Rs. 500. A Brahmin cook was engaged to 
prepare a rich meal for the minister to whom 
the Gazi made many apologies for fighting 
against the Eaja. He attended the Uzir as a 
servant does his master, ministering to his com- 
forts in every respect. He implored the Uzir 
to persuade the king to grant him a smiad for 
Nasir's landed estates and give him besides the 
lease of Chakla Roshanabad for an annual rent 
of Rs. 10,000. The Gazi said " If you can make 
the king agree to this, here is a thousand 
rupees for you as my humble present to you 
to spend on perfumes. But if your king 
does not agree, I shall cut you to pieces and 
present the relics of your body to his Majesty." 
The Uzir wrote a letter to the king stating that 
the Gazi behaved very well, and that he was the 
fit person for taking the administration of the 
zemindary in hand, his efiiciency being undoubted. 
If he assumed a hostile attitude, he might prove 
dangerous to the State. With this remark the 
Uzir recommended his Majesty to grant the Gazi 
his prayer. He also reminded the king of his 
own peculiar condition, for the Gazi would surely 
kill him in the case of denial. 

The Raja of Tipperah _._ 

grants him lease of Tlic Raja held an advisory 

landed estates of Nasir ., ion 

and of Chakla Rosha- couucil and finally dccidcd 

to grant the prayer of the 

Gazi. A sanad was issued accordingly granting 



144 FOLK LITERATITRE OF BENGAL 

the Gazi the lease of Chakla E^oshaiiabad 
on an annual rent of lis. 10,000. The sanad 
came to the Uzir and as soon as it was presented 
to the Gazi he offered his promised reward of 
Es. 1,000 to him. To the prime minister he sent 
a nazar of Rs. 300. He, besides, sent to the 
Dewans and Mukhshuddis of the court a sum of 
Ks. 400. Those messengers who had carried the 
sanad from the chief city got E-s. 10 each. He 
also submitted to the kin^ a nazar of Rs. 1,000. 
The Uzir now returned to the capital and the 
officers of the king who had been with the Uzir 
thus reported, " Your Majesty has now appointed 
the fit man in the fit place. The Gazi is a very 
powerful man with handsome features ; his mind 
is liberal and his words are sweet ; it is a blessed- 
ness to hear him talk ; he always wears rich 
apparel and remains surrounded by his friends 
who all look resplendent. He is kind to those 
who seek his help, but rude to the rude. We 
were a fortnight with the Gazi. He treated the 
Uzir with the respect that is due only to gods. 
Every day a goat was sacrificed for the Uzir's 
dinner and the Guzi approached him like the 
humblest of his servants." The Uzir himself 
spoke to the king that all that the officers hadsaid 
was true. " The Gazi has killed Nasir but hunters 
also kill birds for no fault. If that melancholy 
event had not taken place there would have been 
no chance for the only fit man of that district to 



HE ASSERTS INDEPENDENCE 145 

come in and occupy the fit place." The Raja's 
anger for the assassination of Nasir was thus 
removed, and he was well pleased with the 
Gflzi for his good treatment of the royal officers. 
The Gazi next got the lease of Pergana Meher- 
kal from the king for ten years on an annual 
rent of Us. 8,000, He had in addition to pay a 
nazar of Rs. 1,000 to the king for this lease. 

But the Gazi gradually grew bolder and 
resolved to fisfht with the Raja of Tipperah 
and assert his independence. With this end in 
view, he collected a large army, and when he 
thought he was sufficiently strong, stopped paying 
revenue to the king and declared his indepen- 
dence in a most defying manner. A fight 
ensued in which guns and cannons were freely 
used by both sides. It is written in the book that 
the Gazi had worshipped Kali, the presiding 
deity of the Udaipur hills, be- 
wa?aga?nst i^^^^ foi'G hc dcckrcd War against 
of Tipperah. ^j^^ king. Hc had engaged a 

Brahmin for this purpose, and it is said that the 
goddess appeared to him in a dream and pro- 
mised him success in his campaign. Eor seven days 
the fight continued incessantly, and on the 
eighth, the Raja's army began to lose ground and 
towards the end of the day his Majesty left the 
field and made a precipitous retreat towards 
Manipur. The Raja of Manipur gave him shelter 
in this distress. His nephew Laksmana Manikya 
19 



146 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

was placed by the Gtlzi on a moclv-throne built 

with bamboos. The Gazi thus became master 

of the field. His reign was characterised by 

justice, liberality and foresight, 

He receives a sannd i j.i tti £ t\ n • 

from the Emperor. ^ud the Emperor of Delhi gave 
him a sanad confirming him 
in his high position. In every department 
of administration his great personality made 
its mark. He fixed the scales of measure- 
ment and weight, and the prices of goods. 
We find that a grocer was obliged to take 
up the standard weight of a maund to be 
82 shikkas ; the price of oil was fixed at 
3 annas per seer and that of ghoe (clarified 
butter) at four annas. He placed Abdul 
Rajjak, one of his generals, in charge of the 
collection of rents on the Hill-side ; the 
administration of Udaipur and 
rews"""""*'"'"' Agartala was also entrusted to 
this general. The Gazi kept to 
himself the monopoly of cotton in his territories, 
and that of salt that came by the Ganges and 
the Peni. He established rest-houses where 
guests were entertained from the royal-store, 
and a boarding school where he made provision 
for a hundred students. The principal of this 
institution was a blind scholar of Shondwip who 
taught the Koran ; He was assisted by a Moulvi, 
brought from Hindustan, who taught Arabic 
and another professor from Jugdia wdio taught 



SADI IS ASSASSINATED 117 

Bengali. The classes remained open from (5 a.m. 
to 10 A.M. and from 12 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

When the Gazi was at the zenith of his 
power, his cousin Sadi began to show a feeling 
of jealousy towards him. The cousin was older 
than the Gilzi by some years and had rendered 
him great help in his rising to that eminence. 
He now, however, showed 
Assassination of Sadi. ^^^^^^^1 and malice iu CYcry 

action, so that his conduct gradually became 
intolerable. He publicly vaunted that the Gazi 
had secured his high position merely by his 
assistance and declared that it was wrong on the 
part of the Gazi to usurp all power to himself. 
Not satisfied with tliis, he openly demanded of 
the Gazi to make over the administration to him. 
" A nice arrangement it is that I should win your 
battles and you should enjoy the fruit : It is 
I that killed Nasir Mahammad and gained his 
property for you ; the Raja of Tipperah was 
beaten in the field by me. You have enjoyed 
this high position long enough, and noAV is the 
time for you to retire." Sadi after this was 
engaged in conspiring against the Gazi, and the 
latter found it unsafe to tolerate his cousin any 
more. He was constantly in a state of alarm 
that Sadi would assassinate him. So he appointed 
some soldiers privately who murdered Sadi. 

The Gazi's name, as an efficient ruler, now 
spread far and wide ; and the Nawab of Dacca, 



148 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

whose ancestry was hig^li, did not feel it beneath 
his rank to marry the daugliter of the Gazi to 
his son. The Gazi's charities were very exten- 
sive. We have many interesting anecdotes, 
related of his great physical power — as to how he 
killed tigers and wild boars without using 
vreapons. An anecdote is mentioned of how 
two barbers Chandra and 
The barber-brothers. xJtsava reccived valuablc pre- 
sents from him for shaving him when he was 
asleep. They did it so cleverly that a^ hen they 
cut his nails and shaved him the Gazi's sleep 
was not broken. 

Now the Gazi had once gone to travel in the 
Chittagong-side, and there ordered fish to be 
caught from some big tanks. This country 
belonged to Alivardi Khan, Nawab of Murshida- 
bad, whose deputies Aga Bakhar and Shekh 
Onich ruled the districts from a place called 
Nizamgunge. The Gazi did not ask permission 
from them, nor give them any share of the 
fish that were caught. They 

In chittagong. ^^^^ uml)rage and reported to 

the Nawab that the Gazi had grown very power- 
ful, and the reason of his visit to Chittagong was 
probably a sinister motive — to seize and occupy 
some of the Nawab's dominions in the eastern 
side. The Nawab treated this with contempt and 
said that the Gazi was a reputed administrator 
of great abilities; he had caught fish from 



PLO'JVS TO MUR13EU THE GAZI 119 

• 

some of the tanks ol" Chittagoni^ ; that was a 
trifle and he l)lanied liis generals for hiinging 
such a petty matter to his notice. The dis- 
appointed generals noAV outwardly professed a 
great friendship towards tlie 

Jealousies and con- /^- • i • 'i i i • 

spiracies amongst ^azi and mvited him to a 

some of the officers ui" ■, . i ±^ • i mi 

the Nawab of Mur- dmncr at their house. Ihe un- 

sliidabad against the ,• n- ' j. • i 

Qji2i. suspecting Uazi went in due 

time, and Avhen the dinner was 
over, found hiir.self Avaylaid by some assassins 
appointed by the generals. With his Avonderful 
dash and physical strength he kicked two of the 
horse men out of his way, mounted on one of 
their horses and speedily passed out of sight 
before the others could realise their situation. He 
Avas, hoAveA'Cr, surrounded by many more soldiers of 
Aga Bakhar and had to hide himself in a potter's 
house, AA hence he returned home safely after an 
adventurous course, after many hair-breadth 
escapes from the pursuing enemy. 

Constantly hearing reports of the Gazi's 
brave deeds, the NaAvab of Murshidabad noAv 
felt that it Avould not be safe to encourage the 
groAvth of his power any more. So he sent a 
messenger asking the Gazi to visit his capital. 
The Gazi, however, Avas advised not to hazard 
such a visit. The Nawab, it is said, promised 
a high rcAvard to one Avho Avould succeed in 
inducing the Gazi to come to Murshidabad on 
a friendly visit. A Hindu sannyasl succeeded 



150 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

ill doing' so ; for, this man had so absolutely 
ingratiated himself into the Gazi's confidence 
that he heeded not the remonstrances of his 
friends and relations, but paid a visit to Murslii- 
dabad in the company of the 
The Gazi's visit to ascctic. The Nawab received 

Murshidabad and as- 
sassination, him with seeming courtesey and 

friendship, bat one of his men, 

named Shamsher, killed the Gazi when he least 

suspected foul-play. Thus ended the great 

career of Shamsher Gazi whose name and 

achievements are on record in the Eajamala — an 

authorised history of the Tipperah Eaj — and 

which are very minutely described in this old rural 

song, published in a volume Demy 8vo. of 115 

pages, by Moulvi Lutful Khabir, Sherestadar 

of the judge's court, Noakhali. Even up to 

this time the woodmen Avho enter the deep 

forest of the Udaipur hills and strike their axe 

on big Shal trees there, sometimes find a large 

number of golden coins which the Gazi had 

placed inside their trunks in the course of his 

plundering expeditions. The treasures Avere 

preserved in this Avay by the help of the 

carpenters, Avhom the Gazi, it is said, put to 

death immediately after they had cleverly covered 

the openings in the trunks with Avood and 

bark in his presence. This he did for fear of 

disclosure and of the carpenters' appropriating 

the Avealth to themselves. 



THE BlIAT SONGS 151 

Tliere are many hallads and songs composed 
by the rural people of Bengal, Hindus and 
Muhammadans, Avhich may still be found out, 
illuminating some of the obscure corners of the 
the history of Bengal. We know that the 
Bhatas of Sylhet used to record the leading 
historical and social events that transpired in 
this country from time to time in Imllads Avhich 
they had made it their profession to sing from 
door to door. A very stirring account of how 
a big zemindar was jioisoned by his chief 
officer when the former had called upon him to 
submit an account of the money that he had 
defalcated, formed the subject of one of the 
Bhata songs that we heard in our childhood. The 
zemindar was Babu Hajkumar 

KiS'rS,?;;^,:"! ^oy ^nd •"« chief omcer was 
Kishory Mahalanabis. They 
belonged to the village Kirtipasa in the district 
of Backergunge. The song gives a vivid 
account of tlie zemindar's death in the arms 
of his faithful servant Baburam Bhandari, and 
relates to the providential retaliation that came 
upon the chief officer, who, trying to make his 
escape, fell a victim to a royal tiger of the 
Sundarbans. This song describes events 
that took place more than a hundred years hence. 
There are several Bhata songs that relate to the 
floods which inundated particular localities of 
Bengal at different periods. There are besides 



152 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

those that describe anecdotes of some princes 
and other noble men of the pre-Muhammadan 
period. One of such that we heard long ago 
related the tragic death of a young and beauti- 
ful princess, who in order to escape from a 
tyrant, fell into a tank and drowned herself. 
These songs, which the Bhatas used to com- 
pose and sing in the country- 

baUads.''"^'' "^ ™'"^ Sif^p' li^^e ^0^^^ gl'O^^ n out of 

fashion, and the descendants 
of these ministrels have long ceased to follow 
the profession of their ancestors for lack of 
encouragement. They kept afresh the memory 
of stirring events and historical episodes and 
of village politics that led to the subversion 
of' the power of a jmrticular line of aristo- 
cracy and the growth of power of new families 
in their stead. The simple village-folk did not 
care to know what transpired beyond the Hima- 
layan ranges or Khaibar Pass, but they knew 
what were the historical events that occurred in 
the province of Bengal in those days when 
ncAvspapers and journals did not bring a report 
of daily occurrences to their doors every day. 



Class I— The Folk-tales. 

We now come to treat the rural literature 
included in class I of our classification. This is 
by far the most important section and deserves 
a prominent and elaborate notice. 



CLASS III — FOLK-TALES 153 

After the fall of Buddhism, the Hindus felt 
that the whole of their social organism should be 
remodelled according to their own ideas. With 
this object in view they took up the education 
of the masses in their own hands. Not only 
did they obliterate all history of Buddhism from 
the Puranas but the very legends and traditions 
of the country were changed, so that no trace 
of Buddhism might be found in her annals. 
In the temples the images of Buddha were still 
worshipped but the priests called him by the 
What the Hindu name of a Hindu God, such as 

covintry-p?opIe 'hi the 9^^^ ^^^ VisUU. In OUC plaCC 

place of foik-taies. j f^uud an image of the 

Buddha worshipped under the name of the femi- 
nine deity — Chandi. In the temple of Tilavan- 
deywara at Benares a very glorious image of the 
Buddha is called Jatacankara or Civa " with 
knotted hair. " This ' Jata ' or ' knotted hair ' 
is nothing but the historic fig tree under which the 
Buddha attained his Nirvana. Though the Bud- 
dha is recognised by the Yaisnavas as the ninth in- 
carnation of Visnu, the Hindus did not tolerate 
his worship or any thing connected with Bud- 
dhism in this country, during the early days of 
Renaissance. The folk-tales were of course still 
told in the Hindu homes conveying the lofty 
ideal of the Buddhistic self-control and sacrifice, 
but the kathakas introduced the stories of 
Dhruba, Prahllad, Harischandra, Ekalavya and 
20 



154 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

a hundred others from the Puranas, which 
emphasised devotion as a more potent factor in. 
the salvation of a man than a development of 
his moral qualities. The Pouranic stories indi- 
cated the beauty of faith and its power more than 
good action and self-control on which Buddhism 
had laid a far greater stress. So, though the 
rupakaihas or folk-tales still found favour in the 
15th and 16th centuries, they ceased to exercise 
the same influence in moulding the characters 
of men and women that they had done in a 
previous age. Poor Malanchamala and Kan- 
chanmala could not hold their own before Sita, 
Savitri and other heroines of the Pouranic tales, 
though the characters of the former carried an 
undoubted fascination and showed at least an 
equally high ideal of womanhood. 

But the best of these folk-tales are those that 
have for the most part yet remained unwritten. 
Unfortunately, many of the folk-tales which 
have been printed, have lost their genuine forms, 
their compilers have tried to embellish them 
by their scholarship and pedantry. The Muham- 
madan half-lettered Munshi as well as the 
Pouranic exponent amongst the Hindus thought 
these tales to be too humble to be brought 
before the public in their original shape, and 
tried to improve upon them by introducing a 
high-flown classical style. The influence of 
Arabic and Persian, no less than that of Sanskrit, 



MUHAMMADAN VERSIONS 155 

has therefore greatly marred the simple charm 
of these tales. 

Eor these seven or eight hundred years, the 

Mollas have not allowed the Muhammadan pesan- 

try to accept any story or folk -tale frona the 

^, ,, , , Hindus, developed under Pou- 

The JIuhammaden ' -l 

laity have preserved ranic iufluences. The whole 

the older popular tales 

amongst them. Hiudu atmosphere of Bengal 

has rung all this time with songs and ballads 
based on the Puranas and the Epics. The 
Muhammadan peasant saw the //«ifrrt-performan- 
ces in the homes of their neighbours, but they 
took a superficial and momentary interest in 
them. The kathakas gave no permission to 
the Muhammadan rustic to enter the circle 
of their audience, where recitations and songs 
and narrations of Pouranic stories went on. The 
Bengali Muhammadans, however, amused them- 
selves still with those folk-tales that had been 
transmitted to them from generation to genera- 
tion, from times much anterior to the Muham- 
madan conquest. 

We have got a number of these tales pub- 
lished by Muhammadans. They are evidently 
Hindu and Buddhistic in spirit, though the 
Hinduism to be found in them is diiferent in 
many respects from the type developed by the 
Pouranic Renaissance. They represent the 
earlier forms, and this I have already indicated in 
a previous lecture. 



156 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

Here lies on my table a heap of these tales 
A list of some of by Muhammadan writers. "We 

these tales. •, ii x p tt-- i -i- 

nave the story or Kanchana mala 
by Mahammad Munshi and published by 
Maniruddin Ahmad from No. 337, Upper Chit- 
pore Road, Calcutta, — that of Madhumala by 
Syed Shaha Khandakar Javedali published from 
155, Masjidbari Street, Calcutta, — of Malancha- 
mala by Aizuddin Munshi and published from 
337, Upper Chitpore Road, — of Shakhisona by 
Mahammad Korban All, published from 11, 
Mechuabazar Street, Calcutta, — of Cita Vasanta 
by Golam Kader, published from 335, Upper 
Chitpore Road, Calcutta. There are besides the 
stories of Malati Kusuma, Chandravall, Lajja- 
vati, and lots of others which in spirit and 
language are quite different from genuine 
Muhammadan tales. 

If it is urged that these tales, most of which 

are Buddhistic, have no reference to gods and 

goddesses of the Hindu pan- 

^iueT'oThe" Muw: U^eon ; but are based on moral 

T^'^orinLor'To qualities which appeal to all 

Hindu Renaissance and gggjg q( humailitv and for that 

Muhammaaan conquest. «' 

reason found an access into the 
homes of the peasantry of Bengal after their 
conversion to Muhammadan faith, I should say 
that this could never be. Why should the Muham- 
madan converts whogave up their old religion 
and accepted Muhammadan names, obliterating 



HINDU AND BUDDHIST DEITIES 15? 

all traces of their ancient faitli and traditions, care 
to introduce the stories of Hindu princes and 
merchants into their zenana ? After they turned 
Muhammadans, not even their own kinsmen 
amongst Hindus would visit them witliin their 
houses, with the object of teUing to them the 
Hindu folk-tales. The women generally tell 
these stories, but no Hindu woman would come 
in contact with a Muhammadan home, its kitchen 
savouring of beef and chicken roasted in onion- 
juice, at which she shuddered. Besides it is not 
true that these stories do not contain references 
to Hindu gods and goddesses. They sometimes 
do. I ought to tell you here that the Hindus and 
Buddhists often worshipped the same gods and 
goddesses. So that the mere mention of a god 
or «oddess does not indicate to which of the 
two religious pantheons the deity belonged. In 
the story of Kanchanamala by Mahammad Munshi 
we find the heroine Kanchanamala suff .-ring all 
that a woman could, from the 

The refei'ence to 

Hindu or Buddhist gods maltreatment of her husband, 

and goddesses in these , if • i • -i 

stories. who, out ot prcjudicc and con- 

tempt, never looked at her face. 
She was a remarkable beauty ; but she could 
not show herself to her dear lord, who shut his 
eyes against her, following the wicked counsels of 
her sisters-in-law who had reported to. him that 
her look was malignant. Despairing of gaining 
love from him, Kanchanamala prayed to the 



158 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

goddess Sarasvati for taking her away from this 
earth, for she could bear no more. She was 
a nymph and wanted to go back to her 
father's place at Alaka. The goddess came ; and 
Kanchana must go back to her father's home 
with her. But her steps were slow ; she glanced 
at her husband and found herself unable to 
move — a deep affection, inspite of all bad 
treatment, bound her to him and how could she 
give up the opportunity of seeing him, though 
he never looked at her r She now prayed for a 
little time to the goddess on some pretext or 
other. Here are the verses which are no doubt 
very old — 

" Oh goddess, Oh mother, wait a while, I must wear my 
apparel before going to father's home." 

And then again that little while passed, the 
apparel was worn, but she said again : — 

" Oh mother, Oh goddess, wait a little more. 

I must wear my eight ornaments before going to 

father's home.*'^ 

This attachment to her lord is charming, for 
she secretly wept as she prayed for a little time 
to the goddess whom she had invoked to help 



*"?? Ttr^ W^ Ftf?t, ^t^? ^7T^ Wtf^I ^, 



KANCHANAMALA 159 

her in going to her father's home. The merchant 
caught a glimpse of her for the first time in his 
life as she passed out of sight like a flash. He 
had never thought that his wife was so beautiful ; 
he was dazzled by lier remarkable beauty, but it 
was now too late. The remorseful husband passed 
through great adventures and perils with hair- 
breadth escapes, till he reached the fairy land. 
The condition of gaining his wife back was to 
recognise her and take her by the hand from the 
company of her sisters, all of whom assumed the 
same appearance ; for they were nymphs and 
could take any shape. How could a mortal dis- 
cover the subtle difference if any existed at all ? 
She was dancing before the god Civa with her 
sisters. Rupachand, the youthful merchant, 
sang a song understood by Kanchanamala 
alone : — 

" Dance with one hand raised, my darling, so that I 

may know yon. 
Dance, my darling, behind yonr sisters so that I may 

know you by your position. 
Shut one of your eyes, darling, and dance so that I 

may know you." 
From a mere mention of ^iva and Sarasvati 
we cannot say to which pantheon, the Hindu or 
the Buddhistic, the deities belonged as they are 
common to both. There are also invocations by 
Kanchana of ParvatI and Ganga in this story. We 
can cite many examples like the above, showing 



160 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

that in the Muhammaclan versions of the tale, 
the gods and goddesses of the Hindu and Bud- 
dhist mythologies have found a place as in the 
Hindu versions themselves. This undoubtedly 
proves that the stories were current amongst the 
Muhammadans of Bengal, befoia they had 
renounced tlie older religion. 

The only unfortunate thing about these stories 
is that we have had no opportunity to hear them 
from Muhammadan women. In that case it could 
have been understood they have been preserved by 
the Muhammadan country-folk in their original 
shape. As far as the printed versions go, they have 
not been preserved in this way. The Munshis 
have evidently introduced changes into the stories 
on the lines of Arabic and Persian tales ; 
and, as I have already stated, the Hindu 
printed versions themselves are not free from 
Sanskritic influence. In the story of Malatl- 
kusumamala, the heroine MalatI goes by her 
Hindu name, but her husband is called Alam 
which is a Muhammadan name. A clear in- 
fluence of Persian is in evidence in the descrip- 
tions of the King's court ; the language which 
is Bengali, has an admixture of Urdu and 
Arabic. But inspite of all these exotic traces, 
the original spirit of the story has, to a very 
considerable extent, been retained. The gander, 
the '7'ajahansa* has been the traditional carrier 
of all news and a help in love matters, in»the 



BUDDHIST PHRASEOLOGY 161 

Hindu tales over since the time of Nala-Dama- 
yanti. And here also the bird 
meaiSetodes"' appears discharging the same 
function. Alam, the merchant, 
appears before a ' murn^ a Hindu or a Buddhist 
sago, and a tdntric who is engaged in tapa or 
religious austerities practised by the people of 
his order, with head bent downwards 
before a tire and legs raised above. These 
self-tormentina:s characterised the tantrikas 
of the 8th and 9th centuries, when these stories 
were probably composed, though it cannot be 
said that there are not instances of similar self- 
torture amonst the tantrikas even of this day. 
One curious point in regard to these tales 
compiled by Muhammadans is that we come 
across many examples of Buddhist phraseology 
in them, such for instance is the word ' niranjana ' 
which we find frequently in almost every one 
of these stories. The word is used for God. It 
often occurs in the Buddhist works like the 
Cunya purana and Dharmamangala poems. The 
" niranjaner usmaj' or " the anger of God- 
head," forms one of the most stirring incidents 
described in the Cunya purana. Another word 
of Buddhist currency is 'Kaynur' for Kamarupa, 
which is also to be met with in many of these 
stories. The Hindu and the Buddhist elements, 
as they were before the Pouranic Renaissance, 
form the characteristic features of these tales. 
21 



l62 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

111 the story of Jamini Bhana told by Munshi 
Muhammad Khater Marhim, the nymphs of 
Indra's heaven, that we find them in a similar 
tale told by Hindu writers, are changed into 
fairies. The deer in this story was a fairy ; 
this will naturally remind one of the nymph 
who attracted the attention and love of the 
king Dandi in the guise of a deer. This legend 
of the king Dandi and his love with a nymph 
of Indra's heaven, who remained as a deer 
during daytime under a curse, is treated in 
detail in the Bengali Mahabharata. The name 
of the hero — Jamini Bhan seems to be an abbre- 
viation of the word Jamini Bhanu (lit. ' Sun of the 
night,' whatever it may mean) and reminds us 
of the hero of the poem of Harilila by Jaynara- 
yan Sen, whose name is Chandra Bhan (moon- 
sun, an equally meaningless word). The other 
characters of these tales Jagatchandra, Mriga- 
vati and Rukmini bear Hindu names. 

As already stated by me, these folk-tales, 

common to Hindus and Muhammadans alike, 

and a common heritage to them both, have got, 

in the Muhammadan versions, an exotic flavour, 

which is unmistakable. The story of Kanchana- 

mala, compiled by Munshi 

^t^'^SS:^:! Muhammad, has a Hindu 

in Muhammadan ver- o^round-work, and is essentiallv 

sions of rolk tales. ~ ' •' 

a Hindu tale in every sense ; 
but even here the Muhammadan compiler has 



WOMANLY DEVOTION 163 

introduced some of the peculiar ideas current in 
his society. One of the brothers of Rupalal 
goes by the Muhammadan name of Aftab. The 
name Taimus is also a Muhammadan one in the 
story. But these innovations are after all very 
superficial. Sometimes a deterioration in the 
standard of sexual morality in the Muhamma- 
dan versions of these stories is strikins:. This is 
what has shocked us in several places. The 
Hindu ideal of womanly virtues, of devotion to 
husband, of hrahmacharya in widowhood, is the 
highest. Whether a woman should stick to her 
husband selected by her parents, or have a free 
choice in the selection of her mate, and change 
one who has ceased to interest her for the latest 
winner of her heart, is too complicated a 
question, raised by the modern rationalists, 
for me to enter upon in the present topic. In 
our social organism no doubt a change or 
rather revolution is coming on, and the time- 
honoured traditions and beliefs are now being 
scrutinised in the light of the reformer's new 
ideas, and the ground Ave tread upon, however 
firm in the past, has grown shaky in the present. 
But let us not fail to appreciate the type of the 
highest devotion and highest sacrifice in women, 
though we may break and rebuild our ideals. 
In the Muhammadan community here, a woman 
may take another mate if her husband dies. The 
fasts and vigils of widowhoood, its austerities 



164 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

and resignation, — the ideals set forth by the 
Hindu society, lost all its hold on the lay Muham- 
madan converts, and sexual depravity was 
not viewed by them in their lowest ranks, with 
the same feeling of horror. The Hindu folk- 
tales are free from all blemish in this respect. 
They were told by women to women and 
children, and every word that fell from the lips 
of their tellers was cautious and carefully 
weighed. The purity of these folk-tales strikes 
all the more, when we see that the poems and 
other literary works of the period, written by 
Hindus themselves, are not free from indecency 
and moral defects. The latter works were mostly 
written by men for men ; the fair sex had 
scarcely any thing to do with them. Female 
education, as we now understand by it, viz., a 
knowledge amongst women of the art of reading 
and writing, had not spread so widely in those 
days as to enable the womenfolk to read the 
literature written in the vernacular. The 
writer therefore had not that sense of respon- 
sibility that he has at the present day. When 
men write something for themselves and not for 
the other sex, they may take some license and may 
notobserve the too hard andfast rules of decency. 
But the folk-tales which used to be narrated to 
women, -were generally composed with a far 
greater caution and sense of appropriateness 
than the ordinary written literature. In the 



CITA-BASANTA 165 

Muhammadan version we are shocked to find in 
the story of Kanchanaraala, descriptions of 
sexual vice that prevailed in the harem of the 
six hrothers of Rupalal. This youth revelled in- 
unrestrained and gross incest Avith his sisters-in 
law. In the story of Cita-Vasanta hy Golam 
Kader, we are again shocked by the intriguing 
queen's throwing the two princes into the meshes 
of her abominable design. With what a sense 
of relief does the reader turn over the pages of 
a Hindu version of the stories. The situations 
are completely changed, and no suggestion of 
wicked indecency is to be found in them. 

We are afraid that our critical review of this 

folk-literature may not appeal to you, as most 

of you are not acquainted with 

Qita Vasauta as told 1 1 i • -r i , 

by^Goiam Kader. the storics. I propose hcrc to 

compare several versions of the 
same tales obtained from different sources. First 
of all, let us take for example the story of Cita 
Vasanta. There are altogether four versions of 
this story that we have come across. We shall 
first take up the Muhammadan one. It is com- 
piled by Golam Kader and published by Afaz- 
uddin Ahmed from 155-1, Musjidbaree Street, 
Calcutta. A brief summary of this tale is given 
here. 

In the city of Shahabad reigned a king 
named Ada Nasa. He got twin sons by his 
queen ; they were called Cita and Vasanta. One 



166 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

day the queen saw two birds near her compart- 
ment. Seated on the bough of a tree, they 
endearingly touched each other with their beaks 
and seemed bound in great love. They had 
several young ones. The queen was pleased to 
see the happy family. But a few days after, the 
female bird died, and for a day or two her mate 
screamed Avildly in grief ; but not long after, 
he brought with him another female bird, and 
they lived as husband and wife. Ihe new comer 
killed the young ones, one by one, during the 
absence of the male bird. This 
The queen's piesenti- incident movcd the quecn so 

ments. ^ 

deeply that she fell ill. She 
told the king of her fears, lest if she died and 
he took another mate, the condition of her dear 
sons might be like that of the young ones of 
the bird. The king of course swore that this 
could never be, that it was impossible that he 
would take another wife, if, God forbidding, 
such a calamity, as she spoke of, ever 
happened. 

But the queen really died, and the Prime 

Minister gave a long course of religious advice 

to quiet the mind of the dis- 

Her death and the COUSOlate king. His MajCSty 
king's taking a second , . . 

wife. distributed chanties amongst 

the poor, and did as he was 

advised for the good of the deceased queen's 

soul. In course of time, however, the king took 



THE HEARTS OF MAGIC BIRDS 167 

another queen. Cita and Vasanta had now grown 
up into manhood. The young queen was en- 
amoured of the brothers and she did not make 
a secret of it, but plainly told them that she 
had conceived a passion for them. The brothers 
were shocked at this confession from their step- 
mother and fled from her presence in horror. 
But the infuriated queen maligned them before 
the king and gave out a false story complaining 
against their conduct. The king was very much 
enraged and gave an order next morning to 
execute the princes, and bring their blood before 
him. The executioner took compassion on the 
young princes, killed a goat and 

The brothers led to filled a CUp witll Its blood to be 
the execution-ground i i • 

and their escape. shcWU tO tllC kmg, and SCt the 

two brothers at liberty in a 
deep jungle, advising them never to return to 
their motherland. 

The brothers wandered in the forests for a 
long time, and heard two birds, endowed with 
the power of speech, talking to one another in 
the following strain : " If some one kills me 
and eats my heart, he will immediately become 
a king," said the one. " If 
The eating of the any ouc cats mc," said the 

hearts of the magic- -n i 

birds. other, he will be m pos- 

session of a diamond every 
morning." The brothers were fine archers. 
They killed the birds. Cita ate the heart of the 



168 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

first and Vasanta of the second bird. Now 
when the two brothers were straying apart from 
one another for a short while, the royal elephant 
of a neighbouring king's stall came near Cita ; 
the animal held a string of diamond of the 
value of nine lakhs by its trunk. The king of 
that country had died leaving no issue ; the 
minister and the people relied upon Provi- 
dence to give them a king, and the elephant was 
let loose on their decision that whomsoever it 
would bring to the palace on its back, he should 
be taken to be their king, elected by God. The 

elephant kneeled down before 
gita is elected a king, ^ita, put the striug of diamoud 

round his neck by its proboscis 
and carried him on its back to the palace. Cita 
was thus installed as the king of that country. 
Vasanta wandered in the jungle in quest of his 
brotlier fruitlessly. He passed through great 
hardships and trials. Once he was taken for 
a thief of fruits and of horses, and arrested. 
After escaping from this danger, he came to a 
merchant who gave him shelter willingly, as 
to his great surprise he found that the handsome 
youth presented him with a diamond every day. 
The avaricious merchant made up his mind to 
extort from him information as to where his 
extraordinary treasure lay and insisted on his 
drinking wine so that in a drunken state he 
might make the disclosure. .Now the condition 



VASANTA*S FURTHER TROUBLES. 169 

of his receivini^ a diamond every day was that 

this power would fail if he 

Vasanta loses his drank wino. Being obliged to 

power of producing i . , . , i ^ i 

diamonds. druik UL the above way, he 

lost his power ; and the merchant 
finding that he no more gave him any diamond, 
drove him away. He thus wandered about 
like a helpless man and was in great distress. 
The merchant had grown very rich by sell- 
ing the diamonds and he now purchased a 
ship and planned to go on a sea-voyage for 
trade. But it so happened that, on the eve 
of starting, the ship would not float on the 
sea, and the captain said that unless a human 
sacrifice was offered, there was no chance of 
the ship moving on the waters. The merchant's 
men went to secure a person to be offered 
as sacrifice, and whom should they secure 
but the unfortunate youth Vasanta whom 
no kith or kin claimed as their own ? The 
merchant's wife remonstrated, as he was a 
very handsome youth, but the relentless 
merchant would not listen to her words. He 
was dressed in red robes and garlanded. When 
led to the execution-ground, however, he begged 
of the merchant to spare his 
Led to the execution, jjfg ^g ^0 fclt Confident that if 

ground. 

he simply touched the ship it 
would float by the grace of the Almighty. 
Vasanta was required to prove what he said. As 
22 



170 FOLK LITERATURE Of BENGAL 

he touched the ship it floated like a thing of 
cork. But Vasauta was not set 

Is sared. at liberty, as the captain said 

that if the ship should again 
get stuck on the shore, his services might be 
required. 

So Vasanta was on board the ship, and the 
merchant's daughter took a fancy for him and 
asked her mother to marry her to him. The 
merchant treated the request with contempt. 
Laden with merchandise, the ship came to the 
Chinese shore. The Chinese princess happened 
to see Vasanta from the window of her palace, 
and begged of her father to get her married to 
him. The king called the merchant to him and 
proposed the marriage. He would not listen 
to anything to the contrary. So the marriage 
took place with the usual pomp. And the 
princess with her large dowry started on another 
ship with her husband. The merchant paid a 
visit to them in their ship, and, one day, when 
they were passing through the 

Marries a princess y^st OCCaU, DUShcd doWU 

and is thrown into the ■*• 

sea. Vasanta into the bottomless 

deep. He now asked the 
princess to marry him. The princess had thrown 
a tumba for the support of her husband, and 
declared that she would be right glad to marry 
the merchant after the expiry of a year, the 
term of her vow. Vasanta, with the help of the 



COMPLETION OF THE VOW l7l 

tumha floated on the sea and made a narrow 
escape from being seized and carried off by a 
great sea-bird. Once a crocodile Lad even swal- 
lowed him, but he canje out with the help of 
the tumha. He floated through the milk-sea, 
the butter-sea, the red-sea, the blue-sea, in fact 
all the seven seas, till some nymphs, taking 
pity on him, took him to Indra's heaven where 
the god granted him the boon that his evil 
destiny would soon be over. When he returned 
to earth, after passing through further vicissitudes 
of fortune, he came to the garden of a flower- 
woman, which was lying as a waste-land and 
desert for many years. But as Vasanta entered 
it, the withered plants all flowered and looked 
fresh and smiling. The flower-woman, coming 
to the spot at that time, felt as if some god had 
visited her deserted garden and worked wonders. 
She welcomed Vasanta, called him nephew, and 
treated him with great hospitality. This flower- 
woman had a means of access into the merchant's 
harem where the Chinese princess was kept. 
Getting a clue to this, Vasanta sent a message to 
her. And she now expressed a wish to celebrate 
the rites by which her vow was to be completed. 
The merchant was very glad that on the comple- 
tion of her vow she would accept him as her 
husband. Invitation-letters were issued to all 
princes and Cita who was now a king, and 
Adanas, the father of Cita and Vasanta, as well 



172 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

as other princes of the country and its influential 
and rich merchants assembled to witness the 
function. The condition of the ceremony 
required that one who would be able to tell the 
whole story of the princes (Jita-Vasanta, would 
alone be privileged to hold the 

Vasanta holds the • J.^ jy* ta 

priestly office. pricstly oiiice. Drummcrs were 

appointed to announce the condi- 
tion laid down by the princess by beat of drums, 
and Vasanta came forward to accept the condi- 
tion declaring that he fully knew the story. So 
before the assembled kings and merchants, he 
commenced to narrate the story of Cita- Vasanta 
even from the time when their 

The merchant is be- mothcr had SCCU the futurC of 
headed and the happy 

end for other-. " her SOUS in tlic fatc of the young 
ones of a bird. As he related the 
story of his great miseries, one by one, the eyes of 
each one of that illustrious audience became tearful 
and many a time he himself had to stop to 
clear his voice, choked with emotion. A violent 
feeling was raised in that vast assembly, as 
brother recognised brother, and the king, his 
sons. The gladsome news of the lost being 
found again was announced by the music of 
nahabat orchestra. The king ordered his wicked 
wife and the merchant to be beheaded and the 
order was carried out then and there. The king 
elected Cita to be his successor and Vasanta was 
made his prime minister. The Chinese princess 



HARINATH*S VERSION 173 

was brought to the palace. Vasanta, however, 
had to take a second wife, for the merchant's 
daughter had loved him with a whole heart, 
though her father had treated him cruelly. 

We shall now briefly review another version 
of the story of Clta- Vasanta by a Hindu writer. 
This compiler has tried his best to maintain his 
dignity as a writer of classical style, and the 
Harinath Mazumdar's folk-talc hc heard in his child- 
^'^"'°" hood he has thoroughly recast 

on a pouranic model, giving it an air of a full- 
fledged Sanskritic story, and eliminating all 
traces of its rural origin. 

The story is not called Cita-Vasanta. Some- 
how or other the author did not like the name of 
Clta ; he has changed it into Vijaya. So that 
the story in this version goes by the name of 
Vijaya-Vasanta. 

The author is well known in Bengal as a saint 
and a writer of spiritual songs. In the colophon 
of these, he subscribes himself as Pikir Chand 
Fakir. This is, however, his nom de 'plume ; his 
real name is Harinath Majumdar, but he is more 
familiarly known as Kan gal Harinath. 

He wrote the story in 1859, when its first 
edition was published, and a fourteenth edition 
was called for in 1913, long after the death of 
the author. The book Vijaya-Vasanta was very 
popular at one time. The author's chief credit 
lies in his power of creating pathos in an 



174 FOLK LITERA.TURE OF BENGAL 

extraordinary manner. No one can read the book 
without being literally swept away by emotion 
and by a feeling of compassion for the sufferings 
of the two forlorn children, especially Vasanta, 
the youngest child. But we are not concerned 
with the pathos of the story. A brief summary 
of this version is given below. 

Parikshit, the king, one day went to the forests 
for hunting. He put a dead serpent round the 
neck of a saint, who, merged in contemplation, 
had not heard the king's request to give him 
some drinking water. The sage's young son 
CrngI came to the spot that moment, and, seeing 
his father insulted by the king, cursed him say- 
ing that he would be stung by a serpent within 
a week and die. Now the sage heard this curse 
uttered by his son and reprimanded him for this 
cruelty. He referred to a curse once uttered 
by two young ascetics, leading to disastrous con- 
sequences in respect of the Gandharva King 
Chitraratha, his wife and brother. The king 
sporting in a river with his wife had not paid 
heed to the young sages, and had thrown out water 
on the persons of their Holinesses in course of 
his sports. Chitraratha and his 

^rtigi — the yonng ^ 

sBge hears from his brotlicrs wcrc bom iuto the 

father— the story of ii p , i -ir" J 

the Gandharva King Avorld of mortals as Vi3aya and 
^ ^ ^''^^ ^' Vasanta. Chitraratha's former 

wife became in the world a princess who was 
married to Vijaya in his youth. " What were 



THE boys' sufferings 176 

the sufferings of these three ?" asked Crngi and 
his father gave the following account. 

" The king Jayasen of Jaypur got two sons, 
Vijaya and Vasanta. The good queen, their 
mother, died shortly after, and the king was dis- 
consolate over her death for some time and his 
minister gave him a course of advice to alle- 
viate his grief. Sometime after, the king, at the 
advice of his family-priest Dhauma, took another 
wife. The old maid-servant of the house Canta 
took charge of the young princes and was very 
devoted to them. Durlata, a maid-servant of the 
new queen, advised her to take prompt steps to 
remove Vijaya and Vasanta from the palace for 
ever, by means fair or foul. For these children 
would, she said, stand in the way of her own 
sons, when born, succeeding to the throne. The 
queen took her advice and shut 
The step-mothers hcrsclf up iu the " room of 

machinations. ^ 

anger," and, when the king 
enquired about the cause of her sorrow, gave 
out a false story stating how she had been 
insulted by the children. The king, who was 
helpless in her hands, ordered the kohcal to 
arrest them and execute them in the morning. 
When they were bound with chains, Vasanta 
who was only four years old, said, " I will 
tell pappa how you treat me ; see my hands 
are bleeding." Canta interposed and tried to 
take away the children Ircm the koitcal 



1?6 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL. 

who kicked her out. The boys were thrown into 

a dungeon and Vasanta said to Vijaya, " Brother, 

take away my chains. I cannot bear the pain." 

Vijaya heard him lament, and swooned away in 

grief. The next day they were brought before the 

king who gave the order to behead them at 

once. Vijaya said, "Punish me, sire, as you will 

like, but not Vasanta, innocent as innocence 

itself." Vasanta showed the blood on his hand 

and said, " Pappa, punish the kotwal and take me 

to your care. See I am in great fear and pain." 

But the king did not even look at the princes 

and was inexorable ; his order must be carried 

out at once. The courtiers were greatly moved 

and they interceded in behalf of the princes. 

But the king said, " If some body else had 

insulted the queen, what would be his fate ? 

I cannot show partiality to- 
Banished from the i -i t ^i i 
capital and sufferings wards my owu Children ; that 

would not be just." So the just 
monarch's order was on the point of being exe- 
cuted, but the prime minister strongly con- 
demned it, and the king had to yield a little. 
Order of execution was changed to one of banish- 
ment for life. The two boys were let loose in a 
jungle, far off from the capital. They came to 
the foot of a mountain where the valley was 
pleasant to see, with a spring of pure and trans- 
parent water. Vijaya left Vasanta for a little 
time and went in quest of food. The latter sat 



VASANTA EATS A POISONOUS FRUIT 177 

there waiting, and tasted a fruit that had dropped 
from a near tree and became senseless, — the fruit 
was poisonous. When Vijaya saw his little 
brother in that condition on his return, he con- 
cluded that he must have been stung by a 
serpent. Seeing no help, he lamented, saying, 
*' My darling, pappa did not show you any affec- 
tion when you appealed to him ; is it for this 
that, in wounded feelings, you are leaving this 
world ? Wait, I am coming to you ; alas, where 
now is Canta?" Saying this, he resolved to 
commit suicide. Just at that moment an ascetic 
appeared there and said, " Desist, my child, from 
the mad course. Self-murder is unrighteous." 
He gave some medicine to Vasanta by which he 
recovered, for he was not dead, but senseless. 
The sage gave the brothers shelter for the night. 
In the morning they again started in quest of 
some habitation of men. For miles and miles 
there spread a deep jungle from which they 
found no way out. In the night they climbed a 
tree, and hisses of cobra and the yell of wolves 
and a mingled uproar of other ferocious animals 
were heard around. Vijaya realised the situa- 
tion and looked greatly embarrassed. Vasanta, 
who thought himself quite safe in the care of his 
brother, just as a baby in the arms of its mother, 
said, " Brother, if there is any danger, why not 
call Canta to our aid ?" In the morning Vasanta 
felt so thirsty that he could not speak. Upon 
23 



178 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

this Vijaya went in quest of a little drinking 
water, and when leaving Vasanta alone, he 
prayed, " Oh god, keep my little brother safe, do 
whatever you like with me." But as Yijaya 
had gone some way, an elephant gorgeously 
caparisoned ran towards him, and, gently taking 
him up by his trunk, placed him on the rich haivdd 
on its back. It then walked rapidly towards 
the city. The people there on the death of the 
king, had set the elephant of the Royal stall to 
find out a king in that way, and 

The elder brother is -, -xj" , i ,i .. 

installed as a King. whou Vijaya entered the city, 
loud were the exclamations of 
joy in the public streets and he was immediately 
installed as king. 

The folk-tale ends here, and the remaining 

portion, tagged to it, is purely a creation of the 

writer's fancy on a classical model ; though at the 

end, following the spirit of the folk-tale, he makes 

Vijaya, and A^asanta to be re>tored 

to the old king their father, who 

becomes repentant and receives them cordially. 

The wicked queen is punished as a matter of course. 

The next version of this story we find in the 

Rev. Lalbehary De's folk-tales. It is called Cwet- 

Basanta ; but the right word is ' (^ita ' which means 

'cold' and not *(^wqV which 

^_ Lalbehary De's ver- ^^^^^^ 'white.' This aucicnt 

story is still told in the back- 
ward villages of Bengal and there we find the 



THE STEP-MOTHEH'S THREAT 179 

name as ' (^ita.' Besides there is a sense in the 
names ^ita and Vasanta as each signifies a 
season. The story told by Lalbehary De may be 
briefly summarised as folloAvs. 

Once a merchant married a remarkable girl, 
who was born of an egg of a bird called tun-timi. 
She was very handsome and accomplislied, and 
gave birth to two sons, Cita and Vasanta. But 
unfortunately she died not long after the twin 
brothers had been born. The merchant married 
again, and after a few years lost all affection for 
the sons of his former wife, (^ita had by this time 
grown into manhood and married a beautiful girl. 

About this time a fisherman brought a fish 
of wonderful properties. " If any one eats it," 
said he, '* when he laughs, maniks will drop from 
his mouth, and when he weeps, pearls will drop 
from his eyes." The two brothers (^ita and 
Vasanta secured the fish and partook of it. Their 
step-mother was very jealous of them as they 
were sure to inherit the Avealth of the merchant 
after his death. So she frequently quarrelled 
with them and one day she expressed her resolu- 
tion at a moment of great anger, " Wait, wait, 
wait, when the head of the family comes home, 
1 will make him shed the blood of you both 
before I Ejive him water to 



»' 



JXmttXitai: drink." The brothers took 

fright at this utterance of their 

step-mother knowing what an influence she had 



180 FOLK LITERATURE OF BEN&AL 

over their father. So they fled from home in 
the night and Cita's wife also accompanied them. 
They wandered about in the wilderness and as 
Cita's wife was awfully thirsty, her husband left 
them in order to seek water somewhere near ; 
but just as he had gone a few paces, an elephant 
gorgeously caparisoned, came to him, and taking 
him gently by its trunk, placed him on its back 
and then ran swiftly towards the city. The 
elephant was the ' king-maker ' in that country. 
But for sometime past a tragic event occurred 
in the palace every morning. 
^ gita is installed as ^j^^ elephant Carried a man 

on its back every day and he 
was duly installed as king. He spent the night 
with the queen and it Avas found every morning 
that the king had died in the night, (^ita was 
also duly installed as king and was in the room 
of the queen that night. He, however, did not 
sleep but watched. In tlie depth of the night a thin 
thread-like substance came out of the left nostril 
of the queen ; it increased in bulk till it assumed 
the shape of a terrible cobra and approached the 
new king. Before however, it could reach him, 
Cita drew out his sword and cut it to pieces. 
The next morning the people of the city expected 
to see the corpse of the king, as usual, but they 
were glad beyond measure to see him living. He 
told them of what had happened to the former 
kings elected, and showed them the proof of his 



cIta's wife delivers a son 181 

valorous act by bringing the cup in which the 
serpent's body, cut to pieces, was preserved by 
him in the night previous. 

Vasanta and his brother's wife, left alone, 
became tired of waiting for ^ita, and as the 
wife was very thirsty as well as anxious for ncAvs 
about her husband, Vasanta left her, to make 
enquiries about his brother and to fetch water, if 
available, from some neighbouring tank. He 
stood near a river, and not meeting his brother 
began to shed tears ; these became pearls instant- 
ly. A merchant saw him in that condition, 
seized him with his pearls and carried him away 
in his ship. Clta's wife was in 

Oita's wife gives t . i n i 

birth to a son who is extrcmc Qistrcss auQ all alone m 
that wilderness she gave birth 
to a son. She became senseless in consequence ; 
and the kotwal of the neighbouring city seeing 
her in unconscious state, lying in the forest with 
an extraordinarily beautiful baby by her side, 
kidnapped the baby and fled away. The kotwal 
had no child and he adopted the baby as his son. 
Time passed on, and the boy grew to manhood. 
He overheard a conversation at this stage of 
affairs, between two calves in the cow-shed 
attached to his house, in which his whole family- 
history was revealed to him. He came to know 
that his mother had been saved from a tragic 
end by a compassionate Brahmin in whose house 
she still served as a maid servant. He also came 



182 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

to know how his uncle Vasanta was kept confined 
and was alternately flogged and tickled by the 
merchant, in order to yield pearls and rubies, for 
his tears produced the one and his laughs the other. 
The young man instantly applied to the king who 
was none else than Cita himself. He listened to 
the strange story with attention and then sent men 
to the merchant's house to search his dungeon. As 
Vasanta was brought out from 

The re-nnion. , /^ j • i j i • t 

there, Cita instantly recognised 
him though he looked greatly reduced and pale. 
From the Brahmin's house the king recovered 
his lost wife. How glad was he now to find 
again his own wife, brother and son so long 
known as the kotwaVs son. 'I he merchant, who 
had so cruelly treated Vasanta was buried alive in 
a pit which was filled up with earth and thorns. 

Yet a fourth version of the story of Cita- 
Vasanta we find in the collec- 
veiw"""' '''"^"'' tionsof BabuDakshinaRanjan 
Mitra Majumdar. It is in his 
first series of folk tales that appeared under the 
name of " Thakurmar jhuli," or " the grand- 
mother's bag." The story runs thus : 

A king had two wives, the more favoured one 
was the Suo Rani, who had three sons ; they 
were lean like jute stalks or bamboo- leaves. But 
the less lucky wife, the Duo Rani had two sons, 
handsome as cherubs. They were called Cita 
and Vasanta. Their step-mother was very 



CITA AND VASANTA ESCAPE 183 

jealous of them. So she first tried to remove 
then' mother from the palace. One day as both 
the queens were bathing, the Suo Rani on the 
pretext of doing the hair of her co-wife, tied a 
magic root with her hair; the Duo Hani instantly 
turned into a bird called the 

The step-mother's » / • in mi 

witch-craft and the tim-tiuii and Hew away. The 

oi'der of execution on rj t* - • i.^ l l\ i. 

the brothers. '^^^^^^ Kani gavc the report that 

her co-wife was drowned ; and 
the king was now absolutely in her hands. She 
one day told a false story against the brothers 
Cita and Vasanta, complaining that they had 
grossly insulted her. She demanded of the king 
an order for the immediate execution of the 
brothers and the king saw no way but to comply 
with her wishes. The executioner took them to 
a deep forest and said " Princes, I was present 
in the palace when you were born ; I was at one 
time in charge of you ; I cannot apply sword to 
your throat, whatever may befall me. Here take 
this bark-dress. No one will recognise you as 
princes in this dress. Go as fast as your legs 
can carry you to the farthest end of this jungle, 
and choose a- safe place." Saying so, he unbound 
them, and set them at liberty. The executioner 
took a quantity of blood, killing a dog and a jackal 
on the spot, and made it over 

The escape. i. i.i r, 

to the queen who was now 
satisfied that Duo Rani's sons were now removed 
from this world for good. 



184 FOLK LITERATURE OP BENGAL 

jSTow the two princes went on, but the end of 
the forest was not seen. Vasanta became very 
thirsty and wanted Cita to get for him some 
water from the neighbourhood. He was not only 
thirsty, but so exhausted that he could not pro- 
ceed any further. Cita left him there and went 
in quest of water. He saw water-fowls coming 
from some place and understood by that sign 
that water was near. But on his way he saw a 
white elephant running towards him with a rich 
howda on its back. The elephant took him by 
the trunk and, placing him on its back, quickly 
walked towards the near city. This white 
elephant was the ' king- maker ' and as the king 
of that country had died without leaving an heir 
to succeed to his throne, it was let loose to find 
out a king for the people. The elephant wandered 
about, from place to place every day, and return- 
ed in the evening without carry- 

Qita made a king. . • i ^ ^ d ^ 

mg any one on its back, tor he 
could not discover the mark of royalty in any 
person up to now. The sagacious animal after 
a long search found such signs in ^Ita, so as soon 
as he was brought to the city, he was duly 
installed on the throne. All this time Vasanta 
was in great distress and was on the point of 
death by starvation and thirst, when an ascetic 
took care of him and kept him in his hermitage. 
Now the bird tvn-tuni, to which the Duo 
Uani was transformed bv Suo Rani's witchcraft, 



VASANTA A SUITOR 185 

was caught by a princess named ROpavatl. 
The king, her father, had proclaimed her sayam- 
vara, or election oi a bridegroom by herself from 
an assembly of invited princes. Many kings 
had come there and many a prince and nobleman 
stood suitors for the hand of Rupavati. But 
RupavatI, before she visited the court to elect her 
bridegroom, had asked the tuntuni bird " Whom 
shall I elect as my husband, bird ?" The tuntuni 
gifted with the power of speech, 

Rilpavati's condition. ., ,, r^ ,1 / •^^ ^ • 

said. One that will brmg you 
a rare pearl t|j.at grows on the head of an elephant 
on the sea-coast, will be your bridegroom, and 
none other." So before the assembled princes, 
Rupavati declared her condition, but she added, 
" He who will seek the pearl but fail, will be my 
slave." Many a prince went to the sea-shore and 
saw the elephant but could not secure the pearl. 
They became slaves of the princess Rupavati. 
Now when (^Ita, who was the paramount 
king in that country, heard all these, he was 
very angry and said, " Why should she make 
the sons of my feudal chiefs, the Bhtiia kings, 
slaves ? " He accordingly got Rupavati arrested 
and kept her in a compartment of the palace 
all alone. Now Vasanta one day overheard 
the conversation of two birds, (^uka and Cari. 
In this conversation they disclosed the secret 
by which the pearl on the head of the elephant 
could be secured. There was a favoured spot 
24 



186 FOLK LITERATURE OP BENGAL 

in the milk-white sea, in which there grew a 
thousand lotuses in full bloom. The one in 
the middle was of the colour of gold. There 
the white elephant with the pearl on its head 
played with the lotus of golden hue. 
Vasanta learned the secret. He took from the 
ascetic, in whose hermitage he lived, his magic 
trident, and with it succeeded in reaching that 
spot in the milk-white sea. As soon as the 
sea was touched by the trident, it became dry. 
The elephant itself turned into a golden lotus, 
with the rare pearl inside it. Vasanta 'took it up 
and when marching over the sands of the sea 
he heai'd a cry, " We are your brothers trans- 
formed into fish ; take us wdth you." Vasanta 
,r . . ., duoj the sands and found three 

vasanta gets the *-" 

rare pearl. goMcU fish. Hc toolv tllCm 

with him. 

Now after ^Itaand Vasanta were driven from 
the palace of their father, he lost his kingdom 
and fled away in order to hide his shame. 
The Suo Rani, reduced to abject poverty, 
begged from door to door with the three princes, 
her sons, for livelihood. She came in this way 
to the seashore. The sea roared in rage and 
„, ^ „ ,. cominff over the banks swal- 

The transiormation ~ 

of the step-brothers lowed them bv Its waves. 

into fish. '^ 

These three princes had been 
reduced to the shapes of fish, whom the prince 
Vasanta now took with him. 



THEY ASSUME THEIR OWN FORMS 187 

Now the king Clta one day had gone a-hunt- 
ing into the depth of a forest ; he came near a 
big tree which he at once recognised to be the 
very one under which he had left Vasanta, 
and had gone from there in quest of water, years 
ago. The recollection of his brother came back 
to him and he was overpowered by grief. His 
men, however, came to his help and took him 
to his capital, where he shut himself up in a 
compartment of the palace, and for seven days 
saw no one, nor ate anything, — for his grief 
was great. 

At this time Vasanta came up to the palace 
and said to the royal guard, that he wanted to 
visit the king. He had come with the pearl 
which E-upavati wanted, besides he had brought 
the three golden fish with him. The guard 
requested him to wait for seven days. This he 
did and when the king broke his fast, the three 
golden fish were presented to him. They were 
made over to a maid servant of the palace. 
As soon as she tried to cut one of the fish and 
dress it she heard it saying, " I am the king's 
brother, do not kill me." The astonished maid 
servant brought this to the notice of the king, 
who wanted to see the man who had presented 
the fish. Vasanta came before (^ita, and there 
was great pathos as brother recognised brother. 
And as soon as they touched the fish, these 
assumed their own forms as their step-brothers. 



188 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

" And where is our mother, Suo Rani ?" 
asked Cita and Vasanta. And 

The reunion. ,1 1 p ^i 

the reply or the princes was 
"Our mother died of grief/' "Where is our 
father, the king ? " He lost his kingdom and 
has gone away, nobody knows where." 

Cita and Vasanta shed tears of joy at 
meeting with each other, and of sorrow over the 
fate of their parents alternately. Vasanta now 
asked his brother to release Rupavati, which 
was fortwith done. Vasanta knocked at her 
doors and exclaimed, " See, bride, I have come 
with the rare pearl that you wanted, make me 
your husband." Rupavati turned to the tuntimi 
and asked if the youth had really got the pearl 
and was to be her bridegroom. " O yes " cried 
the bird. Whereon Rupavati welcomed him 
and put the garland of flowers, that she had 
wreathed, round his neck as a sign of choosing 
him to be her husband. Rupavati was so glad 
that out of gratitude to the bird who had helped 
her to get such an excellent husband, she bathed 
it in milk and scented it with perfumes with her 
own hands ; and in doing so she found some- 
thing tied with the feather on its head. She 

took it out and lo ! as soon as 

The Duo Rani is 
restored to her human ghc had doUC SO, the DuO Rani 
form. 

once again gained her own 
form. She said that she was the mother of 
Cita and Vasanta and the news spread with the 



A COMPARATIVE REVIEW 189 

speed of lightning, throughout the whole city. And 
Cita and Vasanta and their step brothers were 
in a moment down upon their knees before her, 
weeping in joy to meet their mother whom they 
had taken to be dead. The old king who had 
been wandering like an ascetic came back to 
meet his lost family. Cita and Vasanta and the 
three young princes, their step-brothers, helped 
him to gain his lost kingdom back and they 
lived long years in happiness and prosperity. 

It will appear from the four tales summarised 
above, that there is little room for doubting that 
all of these are different versions of one and 
the same story. An alien influence is distinctly 
marked in the Muhammadan version. The way 
in which the step-mother shamelessly offered 
her love to the two princes has not been 
mentioned in my summary for the sake of 
decency. The wickedness of the woman, her 
unrestrained passion, coquetry and vulgarism 
are of a shocking character. Such a tale 
could not be told in a Hindu household. The 
way in which the merchant's daughter and the 
Chinese princess declared their love for Vasanta 
in the Muhammadan version also discloses a lack 
of that self-control which characterises the 
heroines of the Hindu folk-tales. We need not 
The language of the commeut ou the language of 
Muhammadan version, ^^iQ Muhammadau vcrsiou. It 

is no doubt Bengali but bears in a large measure 



190 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

an admixture of Arabio and Persian words. As 
a specimen we may quote a few lines : — 

^fi?^ ^^^ ^51^1 7{^Z^ ^tfij^ I 

wt^rfr^ ^^t^ ^i^ ^1 ^^ f^f^^ II 
<ii^ ^t^ cm ^tt ^^^ ^x^tz'^ I 

W\Z^ '^Ufi*\ ^si ^^ C^^C^^ II 

%^^ W\^t^ ^^1 ^f^C^^ ¥t^1 II 
(i5C^^ '©^ >f1^1 ^t^ ^t^ ¥C^ I 

Nor is the next version — that by Harinath 
Mazumdar — less interesting from the point of 
view of the changes and innovations introduced 
into a simple folk-tale. The author is resolved 
upon improving the rural story by his pedantry 
and scholarly knowledge of Sanskrit. A tale, 
to possess an air of authority, and classical 
dignity, in his opinion, must be derived from 
Pauranic sources. So he altogether conceals 
. „ „ the fact that he had heard the 

The version of Hari- 
nath Majumdar. story originally from the old 

women of the country-side. He puts the 

whole story in the mouth of that unweary 

sage Vaisampayana, who has from age 

to age added to and replenished the store of 

tales in the Mahavarata. Vaisampayna tells 



THE MODERN TOPICS 191 

and Janmejaya hears. From hoary antiquity 
down to the year 1859, when Vijaya-Vasanta 
was written by Harinath Mazumdar, the teller 
and the listener had sat facing each other ; and 
we are not sure which to admire the most — the 
power of narration without a limit, or that of 
attentive hearing which knows no fatigue or 
weariness. The Gandharva king is introduced ; 
and following the characteristic traditions of 
the Pauranic Renaissance that all evils of 
the world are brought on by the curses of 
Brahmins, Harinath traces the career of Cita 
and Vasanta before they were born on the earth, 
and makes them victims to Brahminic ire. But 
the changes are not merely 
ments introduced thcsc. All dcscriptious of men 

into this version. , i p i 

and women and oi nature are 
indebted to Sanskritic sources forjtheir elegance 
and classical style. The characters cite I'auranic 
stories by way of reference in their daily con- 
versations. They are all up-to-date and show 
a liking for modern topics as well. Dissertations 
on patriotism are given on p. 80, on female 
education on pp. 107-110, on widow remarriage 
on p. 85. Other burning questions of the day 
are also treated by the author whenever an 
opportunity presents iiself. The king Vijaya- 
, , , Chandra and his wife Bimala 

The up-to-date qnes- 

t>o°s. visit the prison-houses of their 

capital and give sermons to improve the morals 



192 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

of the prisoners. His Majesty makes a laudahle 
and vigorous eifort to spread a knowledge of 
science and general geography amongst his people. 
In one place (p. 84) we find a character crying 
hoarse against the rite of SatI on the lines of Raja 
Ram Mohan Roy. The names of the characters are 
elegant Sanskritic words; Vijayachandra, Ramanl- 
mohan and Vimala may be cited as examples. 
The king's priest is Dhouma of the Pauranic 
tradition. Harinath is not only a pupil of Sanskrit 
poems and the Purilnas. but shows his knowledge 
of Kalidasa's poetry by referring to ndi/ aula ta and 
agramalata, the creeper of the king's garden and 
that of a hermitage, in a passage of his work (p.99). 
He belonged to the society of educated Bengal 
in the early part of the 19th century and the 
age spoke through him. So how could he help 
giving all that was fashionable in the cultured 
society of his times in a work which, though 
based on an ancient rural story, was recast and 
re-written with a view to entertain the young 
men of his generation. The style has the 
stamp of that of Vidya-sagara, refined, rigidly 
accurate and heavy with pompous classical 
words. We need only quote the first sentence 
which is typical of the style of the entire work. 

"^^?^ nfrf^^ ^^® ^t^^i ^^ti ^^ ^f^] 

Specimen ot l.in- 

^^ ^U5 cTtfn«i i" 



LAL BEHARI'S VERSION 193 

This reminds us at once of the characteristic 
style of Vidya-sagara's Sakuntala and Sitar 
Vanavasa. The rural element in which, however, 
lay the unassuming poetry and simplicity of the 
people was out of favour in the early part of the 
18th century, and Harinath as an exponent of 
the taste of his times changed the manner and 
style of narration of the folk-tale by giving in it 
a preponderance of Sanskritic words. But as stat- 
ed by me in the foregoing portion of this lecture, 
the work of Harinath possesses remarkable pathos 
in the earlier chapters, such as only Vidya- 
sagara alone could show in some of his finest 
works. 

Next if we take up the version of the story 

given by the Rev. Lalbehari De, we find that 

his account is not always an 

Lalhehari De's Story. . mi 

accurate one. True, he repro- 
duced it as he heard it, but being a Christian, 
he could not always get the materials of the 
folk-tales at first-hand. In his version we find a 
portion of the story of Malati Kusuma dove-tailed 
into that of Cita-Vasanta. The account of a baby 
who was kidnapped by a nobleman from the 
arms of its mother, lying senseless after delivery, 
and the subsequent union of the mother with 
her son grown up to manhood, forms a part of 
many old folk-tales in Bengal. This account 
we also find in the story of (J^ankhamala in 
Dakshinaranjan's second collection called the 
25 



194j folk literature or bengal 

Thakurdadar Jhuli or the grand- father's bag. 
We think that this episode was originally a part 
of the story of Cankhamala from which it was 
taken and joined to other stories. But whatever 
it he, the Rev. Mr. De has described in this 
story how the kidnapped child, when he grew up 
to proper age, conceived a passion for his 
own mother without knowing her to be so. 
This seems very repelling. And as we have 
condemned a similar thing in the Muhammadan 
version of this story we do it also here, though 
it must be said to the credit of the Rev. Mr. De 
that he has dealt with this part of the story 
very cautiously so that its impropriety has not 
become too prominent. Mr. De tells us that 
his old friend Sambhu's mother from whom 
he had heard many folk tales had died before he 
collected the stories for his work, " The Folk- 
tales of Bengal," and that therefore he had to 
depend for them upon a christian woman who 
evidently had lost some of her old memories. At 
least she could not have given him a strictly 
faithful version of the Hindu folk-tales. The 
episode of one of the brother's eating the flesh 
of a bird or fish by w^hich he got the power of 
producing rubies and pearls by smiles and tears 
is analogous to the European story of the Salad 
in the Grimm Brothers' Collections. 

Last of all is the version of Daksinaranjan 
Mitra Majumdar. It is not affected by any 



8AKHI SONA BY KORBANALI 196 

pedantry or scholarship in classic literature or 
any modern propaffandism ; for 

The Buperiority of AT'i. ^r • i • 

Dakshinaranjan's Mitra Majumdar IS too humble 

a scholar to aim at higher 
things. He is in love with the tales as they are 
related by the rural people of the lower Gangetic 
valley, and gives a faithful version of svhat he 
has heard. Nor do his stories bear any exotic 
influence — Persian, Arabic, or even Sanskritic. 
The language is that in which our grandmothers 
used to tell tales, — simple, even archaic, full of 
naive rural charms, and always to the point. 
There is nowhere a display of vain learning or 
straying out of the main subject in order to hold 
disquisitions on the burning questions of the 
day. But as we shall have to deal with his 
folk -tales more elaborately in course of our 
lectures, we cut short our comments here. 

There are many folk-tales which we have 
got in common from the Hindu 

TliG story of Sakhi i T»/r i i ^ 

Sona. and Munammadan sources, and 

this we have already noticed. 
Another very interesting story repeated by many 
writers is that of Sakhi-sona. The compiler 
of the Muhammadan version is one Muhammad 
Korban Ali — an inhabitant of Butuni in the sub- 
division of Manikgani, Pergannah Sindurijan 
in the district of Dacca. The story of Sakhi- 
sona that he give&, is briefly summarised 
as follows. 



196 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

Tn a place called Taef, there lived a poor man 
named Syed. He had a wife, and 

Muhammad Korban i • j. i e -i * ii 

Aii's version. none else in the tamily. As they 

were in extremely indigent 
circumstanes, Syed had frequently to hear 
insulting treatment from his wife who was a 
shrew. One day when Syed could by no means 
secure food, his tart- tempered wife rebuked and 
insulted him grossly, taking him to task for indulg- 
ing in the luxury of a wife before he could provide 
for her comforts. Syed bore the insult quietly but 
resolved to put an end to his wife's life and thus be 
saved from the state of things 

Syed carried home a . i , i ^ tt 

cobra to kill his wife. that occurrcd every day. He 
accordingly secured a poisonous 
cobra and put it inside an earthen pot and carried 
it home. He planned to open the cover of the 
pot at the dead of the night, and to place it near 
his sleeping wife. But when at midnight he 
actually opened the cover, instead of the veno- 
mous animal that was inside the pot, he found 
it filled with gold coins. He was of course very 
glad at the discovery, and his wife's anger against 
him was all gone when he produced the pot 
before her, and said that he had earned the 
wealth by great labour. By 
goM coins" '"" "'° Syed's order, his wife took the 
pot to the palace of the Badsha 
of that country and sold the gold coins to his 
Besjum for a thousand rupees. 



SAKHI HON A BY KORBANALI 19*7 

The Begum thought that she had made a 
bargain, and kept the wealth in her iron safe, 
and when in the morning she brought it out to 
show to the Badsha, he, instead of finding 
the gold coins that she had seen there the day 
before, found in it a smiling baby — a girl of 
exquisite beauty. The King Avho was child- 
less was right glad to have this baby, — far more 
glad than if the pot had actually contained gold 
as had been reported to him by his wife. 'I'he 
news was announced throughout the capital that 
a girl was born to the Begum and there were 
great rejoicings in the palace 

The strange baby in , ■■ . j. rrn • i 

the earthen pot. over this oveut. The girl was 

named Sakhi-sona. Just at the 
moment when the king's palace resounded with the 
music of the nahahat orchestra announcing the 
glad news, the mansion of the Uzir of the king's 
court witnessed similar festivities, though on a 
much smaller scale, on the occasion of a son being 
born to him. This son was called Manik. The 
Badsha's astrologers prophesied that Sakhi-sona, 
who was born under the influence of the Scor- 
pion, would elope with a youth when she 
had reached womanhood. 

The Uzir's son Manik and the princess 
Sakhi-sona read in the same Mokhtab. When 
they grew up to youth, they fell in love with each 
other; but one could not speak of " the passion 
that burnt within" to the other for shame. 



198 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

One day, however, an opportunity presented 
itself. Sakhi-sona's paper in the school dropped 
from her hands below, and she asked Manik to 
get it from the ground and hand it to her. 
Manik eyed her with a look in which a longing 
desire was hardly suppressed. 
Msnikand Sakhi-sona and Said that If she ppomiscd 

in love with one , , , . , . , -i . i 

another. to pledge somethmg to him, he 

would do so. Sakhi-sona agreed 
knowing full well the significance of his sugges- 
tive words, and from thence they met in a compart- 
ment of the palace every day. A maid-servant 
of the princess one day dicovered their intrigue 
and advised them to go away from the palace 
as they were sure to be detected some day or 
other. 

Sakhi-sona dressed herself as a young valorous 

youth with a sword hanging by her side and 

Manik was also similarly dressed. Both mounted 

swift horses and left the palace at the dead of the 

night. From a deep iunffle 

They leave the city. ^, r J n 

they came out after a day's 
fatiguing ride and coming near a cottage stopped 
there. The old lady of the house seemed very 
hospitable, but she was the mother of seven 
dacoits who just at that moment were not in the 
house. She gave her guests wet fuel and rice 
mixed with grains of stones, so that it took them 
considerable time to kindle a fire and cook the 
rice. But a woman of that house had whispered 



SAKHI SONA BY KOUBANALI 199 

in their ears that the house belonged to dacoits 
who would sooa return and rob them of every 
thing they had. Manik and Sakhi-sona instantly 
mounted their horses and fled away ; but the old 
woman had, before their departure, tied a 
small bundle of mustard seed to the tail of 
each of the horses. So, as they proceeded, the 
seeds fell on the ground marking their path, 
without their knowledge of the device of the 
cunning old woman. The dacoits, seven brothers, 
returned home, and their mother regretted their 
lateness in coming back, saying that the guests 

who had escaped, were enor- 
the"dacoite. ^'"'^^ "^ mously rich, their crowns, and 

necklaces sparkled with pearls 
and diamonds. The seven brothers lost no time but 
mounting the swiftest horses in their stalls march- 
ed with the speed of lightening and overtook the 
princess and Manik. A fierce skirmish ensued, and 
Manik who was a superior swordsman killed six 
of the robbers : but the seventh who was a lame 

man, implored for mercy and 

Manik kills six and . , i i • to o> i i • 

is killed by the ManiK granted him life. Sakhi- 

seventh. _ . 

sona was not lor showing him 
any mercy, but Manik was kind to him and ap- 
pointed him to be in charge of the horses to give 
them food and drink. But the dacoit felt a flame 
of passion for Sakhi-sona, and secretly planned 
to kill Manik and seize her. So when one day 
Manik had fallen asleep and Sakhi-sona was busy 



200 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

ill the kitchen, the dacoit took a sword and cut 
ott" the head of Manik. 8akhi-sona lamented the 
loss of her husband and killed the lame dacoit 
and then prayed to god to restore her hus- 
band's life. A pir (saint) came there at this 
stage of affairs and taking pity on Sakhi-sona, 
restored Manik to life. The couple Avere now 
happy beyond measure on being restored to 
each other, and they rode their horses again till 
they came to the cottage of a flower- woman 
named Champa. She at once 

Manik restoi-ed to . , . n ^ir- '^ 

life and is transformed conceiveu a passiou lor ManiK, 

inte a monkey. i -i •> i cj. i i r. • 

and by witchcraft turned him 
into a monkey; Sakhi-sona, who was not just at 
that moment with her lord, knew nothing about 
his strange transformation, and seeking him 
everywhere in vain bitterly lamented for him. 
The monkey in the night assumed the form of 
man, by the spell of Champa, and she spent the 
night with him. If he attempted to escape he 
was again turned into a monkey. 

Sakhi-sona now led the two horses, the one that 
of herself and the other that of Manik, by their 
reins and walked from place to place enquiring 
about her husband. She was dressed as a man and 
was arrested by the officers of the king of that 
country on a charge of theft of the two horses 
from the royal stall. She was thrown into 
prison. At this time a very large serpent appear- 
ed in the citv of the king ; it ate goats, cows 



SAKHI SON A BY KOHBANALI 201 

and men ; even tigers and l)ears were devoured 
by this dreadful reptile. The king's officers 
with guns shot with fruitless aim at it ; the shots 
failed to pierce through its tough skin. The 
king proclaimed a large reward to one who would 
kill the animal and save his subjects from des- 
truction. Sakhi-sona dreamt in the prison that a 
pir (saint) appeared to her and told her the 
secret of killing the serpent. In the morning 
she sent w^ord to the king, that if she were 
released, she could kill the serpent. She w^as 
of course all along taken for a young man and the 
king forthwith ordered her release. She ap- 
proached the serpent from behind and struck 
her sword in the manner in which she was 
advised to do so by the pir 

Sakhi-sona kills a . on i i 

serpent and nianies m her drcam. She had there- 

the princess. „ , .^vj i, . -, .„. 

tore no dilnculty m killmg 
the animal. When she succeeded in this enter- 
prise, the king gave her his promised rew^ard. 
And when she told her story of the sufferings 
caused to her by the king's Police officers on 
mere suspicion, declaring her own innocence in 
respect of the charge of theft of the horses, the 
king was very much ashamed ; for, he could not 
disbelieve anything that she said. The king, 
as a token of his appreciation of her heroism, 
and also to make up for the injustice done to her, 
resolved to [give his only daughter in marriage 
to her, taking her to be a valorous and an 
26 



202 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

accomplished youth. She readil)' consented to 
the proposal and married the princess. But the 
latter, after a short time, felt that there was 
something strange and mysterious in the con- 
duct of her husband ; for, Sakhi-sona kept aloof 
from her for fear of detection. Meantime the 
monkey who assumed his human form every 
night, wrote a letter to Sakhi-sona describing his 
condition. As soon as she read it, she asked the 
king to get for her the particular monkey belong- 
ing to the flower- woman. Inspite of the latter's 
protestations, the monkey was brought to the 
palace, and when in the night 
his^'owj^for'^"' '° he got back his own form he 
related the story of his sad 
transformation into the shape of a monkey by the 
witch-craft of the flower- woman. The woman was 
obliged to undo her spell on him. So he was himself 
once more. The flower- woman after this was 
beheaded by the order of the king for her wicked- 
ness. The king, knowing now that 

Manik marries an- i i • 

other princess and is Shaklll-SOUa WaS a WOmaU, mar- 
happy with two wivps. .11. , ,, , -,-. ., .,, 

ried his daughter to Manik with 
the consent of Sakhi-sona. And he lived long in 
prosperity and happiness with both his wives. 

The story of Sakhi-sona was rendered into 
Bengali verse by the illustrious poet Fakir 

Rama Kavibhusana, who was 

Fakir Rama's version. . » ; i -r-» i i . 

a native of the Burdwan dis- 
trict and flourished in the middle of the 16th 



SAKHI SONA BY FAKIR RAMA 203 

century. The story as told by this writer who 
was a poet of the Hindu Renaissance is briefly 
summed up as follows. 

The princess Sakhi-sona and Kumara, the 
son of the kotical, or the prefect of the Police, 
used to read in the same school. The seat 
of the princess was an elevated platform over 
the gallery in which the classes were held. 
Sakhi-sona's pen one day dropped below, let us 
say, by a mere accident, from her seat. And 
she asked Kumara to pick it up for her. Not 
once, but thrice did the pen drop that day, and on 
the third time Kumara extorted a promise before 

. he would pick up the pen for her, to the effect 

that he would do so on condition that she would 

comply with his wishes whatever they might be. 

Heedlessly did Sakhi-sona run into the agreement, 

but what were her wonder and 

sonMfKho'r'""- indignatioii, when Kumara 
demanded to marry her and 
run away with her from her father's palace ? 
For after such an inequal marriage, the king 
would not brook the pair to live with him, 
though she was the only legal heir to the throne. 
Sakhi-sona said in rage, " You villain, dare 
you say so ? Do you know that your body will 
not bear the burden of your head if this be 
brought to the notice of the king ? Por a trifle 
of help that you did me, you venture to insult 
me in this way." 



204 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

Kumara said, " If you say so, no more. I 

do not press my request. But the moral binding 

nevertheless remains the same 

The inviolable pro- i mi 

miss. m either case. You can kill 

me, princess, but if you break 
your promise you cannot avoid the eyes of God 
who sees everything. 

" Kama, for a simple word that he had given 
to his father, left his kingdom and turned an 
ascetic. Dasaratha, his father, died of grief, but 
yet did not break his promise. Rama, the pure- 
hearted killed Vail in a questionable manner, 
simply for a promise that he had given to 
Sugrlva. If you break promise, well and good,- 
you will be lowered in my estimation and thai of 
your Maker, what more?" 

Sakhi-sona felt humbled, before this appeal to 
God. For she had given a promise and there was 
no doubt about it. After many conflicting 
emotions which caused her sleepless nights, she 
decided to leave the palace and join Kamara. 
She excused herself of a little delay that had 
occurred, in the following manner : — " my maids 
are constantly with me ; how for shame can I 
come out ? The queens will not leave my side 
for a moment. Some cover me with the hem 
of their garments ; some fan me, and some wave 
the soft chamara. One offers me betel, and 
another kisses me with great love, and a third 
calls my attention by such words as ' Hear me, 



SAKHI SONA BY FAKIR RAMA 205 

my dearest child, I will tell you a story.' And 
yet another weaves floral wreath for me and 
wants to know if I like it." 

Before leaving the palace, she had taken a 
parting view of the sleeping queens and solilo- 
quised in this way: "Hence- 

The Princess's lament. r, ,■• in . 

forth we shall meet no more. 
Like a boat trusting itself to the current, I 
trust my youth to fate. Do not weep, dear 
queens, when you miss me — your hapless child. 
Burn my throne and royal couch, for they will 
torment your eyes. Olfer all my books lying 
in heaps in my chamber as a present to the 
Brahmins. Forbear to enter into my apartment, 
it will grieve you ever so much. My golden 
plates and cups and vessels adorned with precious 
stones, distribute among the poor. My jewels 
and ornaments send to the royal treasury, and 
adieu queens, adieu for life." 

She had met her preceptor in the way who ad- 
vised her not to take the rash step, but to return 
to the palace. But she said that as she had given 
the pledge, it was sacred and inviolable. 

In the way the princess did not say any word 

to signify her love for Kumara. She was far 

too much moved by her grief 

They leave the palace- . ... „. -, , ,. ^ 

m cutting on: her home-ties tor 
ever. Like Gareth following Lynette, Kumara 
followed his love — wooing her at every step. But 
she heeded not, now looking at the cow that had 



206 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

lost its young one, and then sighing over some 
other thing she saw in her way that reminded 
her of the home that she had deserted. But 
when the spring came and the trees that had 
looked like skeletons in winter became covered 
with luxurious foliage, " the Princess and 
Kvimara delighted in each other's company and 
the former forgot her old sorrows for a time." 

" Nature had given her a form of surpassing 

beauty ; now the dawn of youth made her a marvel. 

She never had passed the 

The advent of spring. ,, iiip i-ii i'i> 

threshold or a kitchen ; and it 
her hair was untied, never did she adjust it with 
her own hands, — but her maids for her. Never 
had she learnt to blow the fire with her breath ; 
and as she did it now, the smoke of the wet 
fuel made her face pale and sad. The smoke 
stifled her breath and the fire of the hearth wel- 
nigh burnt her skin. Alas, once even the heat of 
a lamp-light was too much for her ; but with the 
smoke and fire of the hearth she continued her 
struggle to cook a humble meal." 

Both of them were journeying on horseback 

when a great cyclone overtook them. "The trees 

of Cuttack were carried down to 

The cyclone. /-. i -, 

Hmglat. (jroats and cows were 
forced to fly on the high air like winged things. 
Seldom from the palace had the princess walked 
abroad on foot, and when she passed from one 
room to the other, the maids spread a rich carpet 



SAKHI SONA BY FAKIR RAMA 207 

on the court-yard ; and when walking in the sun a 
guard used to hold a golden nmbrella over her 
head. But now the hailstones beat incessantly 
against her head, and it seemed at each stroke 
her very skull would break. " my love " she 
asked, "what will become of us? Erom the 
storm, the rain and the hailstonas no escape I 
see. What path should we follow. The thick 
hailstones will ere long kill us both. The light- 
ning's flash frightens my steed, and the striking 
of his hoofs on the hard ground produces fire. 
The storm suffocates me and I feel as if the 
breath of life itself would cease." 

Suffering in this way from the furious weather 

and her own mental anguish, she with her 

husband came to a cottage 

In the cottage of the ^^^^q]^ belonged to sovcu rob- 

robbers. ~ 

bers. Kumara killed six of 
them, but the seventh implored pardon Avhich 
out of magnanimity he granted. But when 

Kumara fell asleep, the mis- 

resToreftoSe''^ ^"'^ ^^^aut killed Mm. Sakhi-sona 
prayed goddess Chandi for 
mercy, and she restored Kumara to life. Kumara 
was next turned into a goat by the witch- 
craft of a flower-woman named Hira and 
the king of that country Narad ha j a carried 
Sakhi-sona by force into his compartment 
for females. Sakhi-sona said that, before she 
would agree to marry the king for which he 



208 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

pressed, she must perform some religious rite, 
which was to be completed after a year, with 
due solemnity. The king agreed to wait till 
that time. And at the end of the year, when 
her period of religious observances was over, she 

asked the king to provide her 
intlTgoat''"^"''''""'^ with a particular goat that was 

in the possession of Hira, the 
flower-woman. For Chandi had appeared to 
the princess in a dream, and told her that her 
husband had been transformed into a goat by 
Hira. Hira was obliged to produce the goat by the 
king's order, and the princess by the power of 

the spell that Chandi had taught 

The reunion. , p ii -i i i i i i 

her, torthwith restored her hus- 
band to his own form, Naradhaja saw in the 
transformation of the goat into a man the mercy 
of the goddess Chandi, and ungrudgingly shared in 
the joy of the couple who had met after a long 
year of bitter separation. Meantime the old king 
Vikramajit, the father of Sakhi-sona, had heard 
all about his daughter and Kumara, who had 
been so long missing, and now pardoned their 
marriage, and took them to his own city and 
made them heirs to his throne at death. 

The most authentic version of this story, 

however, is the one compiled by 

Dakhina Ranjan's -g^ jy ^ ^-^^.^ MaZUmdcr. 

version. 

The story is called Puspamala 
and not Sakhi-sona. Mitra Majumder has 



PUSPA AND CHANDANA 209 

given the oldest form of the story, which is also 
the most accurate form. Whether the name 
Sakhi-soiul or Puspamala is the older name of 
the heroine is open to question, hut that is an 
immaterial point. In hriefly summarising this 
version of the tale, I heg leave to state that the 
peculiar excellences of the original form of 
some of our folk-tales will he the subject of a 
somewiiat elaborate analytical review^ in one of 
my future lectures. Here for the purpose of 
comparison, I subjoin a very brief summary of 
the story under review. 

A Raja happened to enter into a contract 

with his kotaiDcil that if a daughter be born 

to him and a son to the Jwta- 

The Raja's pledge. 711 i i i • , i 

ical, they Avouid be united 
in marriage. But if instead, a daughter were 
born to the kotaical and a son to the king, 
the kolawal would be beheaded. These were 
the w^himsical ways of the autocrats of those 
days. So no question was raised as to the 
propriety of the oath insisted on by the 
sovereign, and the hotaioal had only to submit. 
It so happened that just at the same moment 
the queen and the kotawaVs w^ife ran into a 
similar agreement, while they were bathing 
in a tank called the Futra-sarovara, The 
world knew nothing about these pledges. The 
king with the point of his arrow wrote his pledge 
on a fig-leaf and handed it to the kotawal. 
27 



210 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

A daughter was born to the king and a son 
to the hotawal ; the princess was called Puspa- 
mala and the hotawaVs son Chandana. They 
used to read in the same school and each day 
from the high seat on which the princess sat, she 
dropped her pen below, and Chandana used to 
pick it up for her at her re- 

Cliaiidaiia and Saklii- l r~\ ^ i -i 

sona at school. qucst. Ouc dav wheu he 

picked up the pen, and she 
bent herself a little to receive it from his 
hands, their eyes met, and Chandana the 
next dav said, " Princess, if vou exchansre 
garlands with me, then shall I pick up 
the pen from the ground for you ; else 
I will not." An angry look came from the 
princess as she said, " Don't you remem- 
ber, lad, that you dwell in my father's 
kingdom ? Have you no fear of life that you 
dare say so ?" 

Chandana said, "Why should I fear, princess r 
I know that my ancestors have for several 
generations shed their blood to build up this 
kingdom for your father." 

The princess said nothing more that day. 
The next day her pen did not drop. But as 
Chandana was cleaning his own pen, it escaped 
his hand and fell on the the princess' apparel 
spotting it with ink. Chandana was abashed at 
this, and the princess also felt a shame which she 
could hardly conceal, but she pushed the pen with 



THE SOLEMN PLEDGE 211 

licr fiDger so that it dropped beloAv. Chandana 
took it up and said, " Many a day did I pick up 
your pen from the ground, to-day your gentle 
hand has pushed mine down to reach me. 
This earth is sacred because the flower blooms 
here. I charge you by tlie sacred earth and l)y 
the sun and the moon that illuminate her, that 
there has been an exchange of some sort."' Saying 
so Chandana went away silently with the pen 
touched by the princess leaving his books 
and other things in the school. The princess 
was lost in her thoughts, and it was at a very 
late hour that she returned home that afternoon. 
The maid-servants had been long waiting with 
soaps and perfumes for her toilet. 

But Chandana one day brought her a leaf on 
which the king had written the pledge, and on 
another occasion she came to know of the promise 
made by the queen to Chandana's mother. 
The king had absolutely ignored his promise 
and the queen would not even bear to ])e 
reminded of hers. If the Jwtmcal or his 
wife ever alluded to it, they were thre^Uened 
with death. 

The princess, however, felt that the pledge 
was solemn in the eyes of God, however lightly 
her parents might now regard it in the pride 
of their power. She said to herself, "Alas, now 
I feel Avhy my pen dropped from my hands 
every day. A destiny l)inds me to the young 



212 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

Chandana, my parents' pledge must be fulfilled. 
I must be his wife." 

She wept and could not sleep, the floml fan 
dropped from her hand on her breast ; and the 
next morning a change in her was observed by all. 
On other days when she came to school, the 
jingle of her ornaments sounded like the merry 
hum of bees, but that day she 

Thev leave the j i • i ^ i ti 

palace' stolc luto the room like a 

guilty soul quietly and silently. 
The teaclier marked it and said, " Princess, 
on other days the sweetness of your voice, 
while reciting lessons, pleases every one ; 
how is it that your voice to-day seems so dull ?" 
Chandana looked at Puspa and Puspa looked at 
Chandana ; their eyes met again and she blushed 
drawing the veil over her face. Then the 
princess with hands that trembled produced the 
fig-leaf containing the king's pledge. Both of 
them said to their guru^ " Should we, or should 
we not, keep our parents' pledge ?" The teacher 
felt alarmed when he saw the leaf and read its 
contents, but collecting himself after a while 
said in a clear, firm voice, "If you keep the 
pledge, your seat will be in heaven, if not, 
your place will be in hell.'* Then the princess 
made Chandana sit on the high throne reserved 
for her in the school, and she sat below where 
Chandana used to sit. They bowed to their 
teacher, and the princess laid her ornaments, 



THE MOTIIEK OF THE ROBBEllS 21:5 

lier bracelet* and necklaces, studded with- 
})i'€cious stoues. at his feet and asked him to 
accept them as her humble present at tlie close 
of her school career. x\nd both of them said, 
" To help the king to keep his words is to 
maintain the honour of his kingdom. We leave 
the city to-day." 

Before she had left her father's palace, the 
princess cooked a good meal herself. It was 
a lyreat strain on her nerves to leave her father's 
house for good, and frequently did she wipe 
away her tears with her sculi. She offered the 
food to her parents, relations and servants and 
even to the domestic animals. It was the last 
time that she was permitted to serve them. Just 
at the time Chandana signalled to her ; as she 
heard it she did not w^ait to take her own meal. 
She ran to Chandana and bowing low at his 
feet, fainted away. For the whole night Chandana 
fanned her with the cloth that he tore off from his 
turban and said to himself, " How can I preserve 
this jewel stolen from the serpent's hood ?'* 

But she was all right the next morning, and 
both of them rode on and on, till they reached 
a cottage standing in the middle of a clearing. 
It belonged to an old woman, the mother 

of seven robbers, who had 
rolbe.''''"'^'"'''" .iust a moment before gone 

abroad on their wicked trade. 
She showed great hospitality to the couple and 



214 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

marked with delight the precious ornaments 
on the person of the princess. She gave 
them rice mixed with gravels, pulse which 
was old and dry, and a wet hearth and damp 
fuel. All these caused delay in cooking. The 
princess and Chandaua Avent to hatlie, but the 
landing steps Avere made slippery for them by 
Avater ; and Avhen they tried to come up to the 
bank by some other way, the old Avoman cried, 
"Not that Avay, dear, it is unclean." And Avhen 
they tried a different way, the old Avoman came 
again and said, "Not thither, my children, there 
are thorns." By such petty devices she caused 
delay, expecting her sons to come in the mean- 
time and plunder the guests. 

The pair came to the kitchen and the torn 
turban noAV stood them in good stead. Fire was 
kindled by means of it. And they, rightly 
suspecting danger, came out by the back-door, 
and got on their horses and fled. The fire on 
the hearth gave a aa rong impression, for, the old 
woman thought that her guests were busy 
cooking their meal. But what was her surprise 
when peeping into their room she found them 
gone. And from the stall their horses Avere gone 
too. She was, hoAvever, a very clever woman ; 
for as soon as the couple had entered her 
house leaving their horses in the stall, she had 
collected some white seeds. These she had put in 
small pieces of cloth and tied to the horses' 



THE YOUNGEST llOBBER 215 

fetlocks. The small bundles had been pierced 
through with a needle, so that when their 
riders fled, the seeds fell on the ground by 
twos and threes all over the track, and as 
they fell they turned into white flowers. 
The robbers on return easily overtook the 
guests by these beautiful signs. There ensued 
a fight and the six brothers fell as Chandana 
was a superior swordsman. The seventh 
implored mercy. The princess said, " No, 
dear, it is not safe to keep a part of debt, hoAv- 
ever small ; all should be cleared ; do the same 

with an enemy, howsoever 
.oS::S:t^.daLKn;: Ushtly you may think of him." 
seventh!' '''""^ ^^ ^^'' But Chaudaua said, "Eoolish, 

what can he do ? he will be 
our attendant." So the life of the robber 
was spared and he became their servant. He 
burnt, however, with vengeance, and Avhen 
one day Chandana had fallen asleep, killed 
him with his sword. The princess did not weep 
but smiled, and said, " What am I to do 
now ?" The robber was very glad at this and 
said, "All right, now come to my house, dear." 
The princess assented. So l)oth of them rode 
back and Puspa said, "It is surely a happy 
day for us both, will you not accept this betel 
from mo ?" He, in eagerness, stretched himself 
forward to receive the betel from the princess, 
as a siscn of her love, and she in the twinkling 



2i6 FOLK LITERA^TUilE OF BENGAL 

of an eye cut off his head with a stroke of her 
sword. 

Now she alighted from her horse and threw 
herself on the ground where her husband's head 
lay severed from the body ; she had so long 
controlled herself by superhuman efforts but 
now her tears were unceasing. She held the 
head close to her breast and cried, " Hoav long, 
dear, will you remain silent and not talk with 
me ?" " Erom morn to noon " she wept and 
" from noon to deAvy eve." It was a dark night. 
The god Civa and his consort ParvatI were pass- 
insj bv the skv at this time. The sjoddess said, 
" Stop, husband, who is it that is weeping below ?" 
Civa replied, " No matter, who, let us pass on." 
Parvati said, " That can never be. A woman's 
lament I hear. O who art thou, unfortunate 
woman, grieving over a dead child or a dead 
husband ? I must see thee." Then as she looked 
down below, her eyes met a 

Restoration to life. n , -i » 

sad spectacle. A woman was 
bathing a head, severed from the body, in her 
tears and crying, " my husband, O my darling." 
The goddess was moved by the sight and res- 
tored Chandanato life. 

After thanksgivings and great elation, the 
couple again rode on, till they reached the 
house of a flower-woman. She was a witch. 
As soon as she met them, she eyed them 
malignantly, and Chandana turned into a goat, 



THE l)A]liNG SOLUlEll 2l7 

but her charm did not affect Puspa as she was 
true and chaste. Puspa was dressed like a young 
soldier. She approached the king of that country 
and said, "Here am I seeking service in your 
majesty's personal staff." "What can you do for 
me, lad, and what should l)e your pay ?" asked 
the king. " My pay is one shield full of gold 
coins per day, and I can do what others 
cannot." The king assented to her demand 
and employed her. Just then a huge reptile 
appeared in the city of the king, and swallowed 
men and beasts every night, 

i'uspa kills the cobra. 

for in the night only it 
made its appearance and none could kill it. 
It was generally seen by the side of a 
large tank near the palace and passed 
by a deep forest abounding Avith Sal 
trees. The young soldier was ordered to kill 
it. She was busy in the afternoon cutting the 
tall sal trees Avith the fine end of the sword 
with such wonderful dexterity that the trees 
stood as before and none could know that they 
had been cut in the middle. At night a deep 
uproar mixed with a hissing sound was heard as 
the serpent moved about in the jungle, and no 
sooner had it come to the bank of the tank, than 
the trees touched by it, fell in hundreds upon 
its body, and the monster lay crushed under 
their weight. The young soldier next engaged 
herself in cutting the body to pieces. But 
28 



218 POLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

when the animal gave up its ghost, there sprang 
from its body a middle aged Avoman. She told 
Puspa that she was her mother transformed 
into that shape because she had failed to fulfil 
her pledge to the wife of the hotioal and Puspa 
recognised in her the queen — her own mother, 
who also stated that the old king, her father, 
had become a sweeper in tliat palace for the sin 
of his breaking his pledge. And as she said 
this she died at the spot and Avhere she died 
a flower plant grew as a memorial. 

Not lonsf after Chandana Avas restored to 

human form by the grace of Parvati who was 

pleased with Puspa's devotion. Puspa told 

Chandana, "What is the good of my life when 

mv father is a sweeper and my 

The happy eiul. " ,^ -i- ^ , i 

mother died as a serpent be- 
cause of me r" She was resolved on committing 
suicide, but Parvatl's grace again helped them, 
and the queen got her life back and the king 
was restored to his kiuEfdom which he had 
lost by divine curse for breaking tlip pledge. 
Chandana and Puspa were united in wedlock 
by the sanction of the king and the queen. The 
kotioal was raised to the status of a feudal 
chief so that the king was no longer ashamed 
of calling him a friend and relation. The 
IcotimV" wife, now a lady of high rank. ])ecame 
"a fast friend of the queen. They now lived in 
happiness and prosperity for long years. 



THE MOGALHA.RI IIUINS 219 

iu the version of Fakir Ram Kavibhusana 
the father oV the princess Sakhisona, is 
Kiuij;' Vikramjit. There is a village called 
Mogalniari i\\o miles to the north ol" 
Datan a\ hich some of our scholars have iclenti- 
tied with the ancient historic town of Dantapur 
in Orissa. At Mog'ahnari there are ruins of 
a palace ^vhich people of the locality ascribe to 
Raja Vikramjit and they say Sakhisona of the 
folk story was the only daughter of that king. 
A mound of earth is still pointed out there 
as relics of the schoolroom of the princess 
where she pledged her hand to the hotwaVs 
son. Many places of our country are associated 
in this way with our legendary heroes and 
Pauranic characters. But unless Ave have 
clear evidence we cannot accept such accounts 
as historically true. What happens is this. 
A man gives out a story in respect of some 
ruins in liis locality consulting his fancy, 
and his statement is taken as a historical fact 
by the simple village-folk and it passes 
current throughout the neighbouring locality 
and goes unassailed from generation to genera- 
tion. I do not believe that these attempts to 
connect places with the heroes of legends and 
popular romances should be treated as having 
any historical value. 

All these stories, I beg to repeat, have been 
greatly abridged by me, and if the reader wants 



220 FOLK LITERATURE OT BENGAL 

to compare them and have fuller knowlege of 
their details he must go back to the originals 
themselves. If we take up the Muhanimadan 
version for a critical review, we see, as we have 
already observed, that with the 



Tlie deterioration of 
he Hindu ideal o 
jhastity in th 
Mahomedan version. 



the Hindu ideal of l^^s of the Hiudu ideal of 
chastity in the wouiauly virtuc amougst the 



rank and file of converts to 
Islam, immodesty in sexual matters was no 
longer thought of as a matter of serious social 
condemnation. The lower class of Muhammadans 
revel in unrestrained language while dealing 
with the topics of the passion of the flesh. The 
self-immolation of a Sati, though its propriety is 
justly called in question on humane grounds, the 
self-denial and austerities of widowhood enjoined 
by the Hindu scriptures, the loyalty that does not 
break after husband's death but continues to 
inspire a woman's soul through the rest of her 
life — these ideals of women were withdrawn from 
the community of converts, and the result was 
that the folk-lore amongst them degenerated from 
the standpoint of the high Hindu conception of 
devotion and purity. The story of Sakhisona 
shows this decadence of the lofty Hindu spirit in 
a striking manner. Sakhisona with her hair all 
loose and dishevelled stands on the roof of her 
palace enjoying the warmth of the sun on a 
wintry day ; her charms are exposed to the 
gaze of Kumara who feels the "dart of Cupid 



THE HINDU IDEAL 221 

piei'ce his broast outright," and then when they 
meet in the school he seduces her in the langu- 
age of a low class del)auch. She listens to him 
with her heart throbbing with passion ; and they 
meet shamelessly in a room of the palace every 
night. What a contrast does such a scene of 
lust, introduced by a Muhammadan writer, offer to 
that quiet self-control which we find in the 
original Hindu story ! Pre-nuptial love is un- 
known in our community but sometimes it finds 
a place in our folk-tales, as it does in the present 
case. It is, however, couched in guarded 
language showing a high sense of sexual purity 
even amongst our rustic folk. In the Hindu 
version of this tale, stress is justly laid upon 
the word of honour and upon the pledge of 
parents, justifying the abandonment of home 
in the company of a lover, which divested from 
any such moral obligation, is in itself a horrible 
thing to our men and women. Peruse the 
Hindu tale and nothing will jar against your ears 
in respect of the elopement of a princess with 
a youth of humbler rank. The woman stands 
elevated in your eyes inspite of what she did. 
And yet what she did was deliberate and well- 
planned, not conceived at the spur of the 
moment. A grossly sensuous element, on the 
other hand, permeates the Muhammadan version. 
The immodesty of the princess meeting a lover 
before she is married to him will strike every 



222 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

Hindu reader and in our Zenaua the Avomeu will 
not bear to hear a story like that. The robber, 
whose life is spared, feels a passion for the 
princess, and says or thinks nothing of his 
murdered brothers. The llower-woman also 
conceives a passion for Kumara, whom she 
transforms into a goat but restores to human 
shape every night. The writer says " they spend 
the night in jolly spirits." We need not 
comment on the conduct of the flower-woman. 
She may be equal to this action or things even 
more hineous, but the hero of the tale becomes 
contemptuous by his tacit submission to the will 
of the debauched witch. The king seizes the 
princess when she is forlorn and there is again a 
love-proposal. The whole story in the Muham- 
madan version has thus been worked up to 
pander to a vulgar taste which repels us. 
We would not have cared to notice the story, 
were it not for showing how the original 
Hindu tale has been vitiated in its Muhammadan 
version ; but let us very clearly state here 
that we do not believe that the Muhammadan 
women tell this story in their homes in the 
shape in which it has come down to us in 
its printed form. The version current in 
Muhammadan homes may be truer to the original, 
and let us believe that it gives a decent and 
becoming account of Sakhisona's love and trials. 
What seems to have happened is this. The 



PAURANIC INFLUENCE 223 

Muhammadan writer, whose readers are no doubt 
a few rustic men who have just learnt to read 
the Bengali alphabets, in his zeal for showing 
himself a dilettante and well skilled in the art 
of expressing the softer emotions of the human 
heart, has introduced these incongruous elements 
into the original Hindu story which is so rigidly 
pure. 

So far with the Muhammadan version. Let us 
next say a few words about this story as related 

, . „ by Eakir Eama Kavibhushana 

Fakir llauia intro- ^ 

duces classical eie- in the middle of the 16th cen- 

ments in the stoiy. 

tury. That Eakir Rama was a 
true poet admits of no doubt. His taste is rigid 
and he gives very fine touches showing a real 
mastery over the poetic art in many of his ele- 
gant passages. For instance, he begins his tale 
Avith a dialogue between the princess and 
Chandana. The latter proposes elopement. 
The princess should leave the palace and both 
of them go to a different country and live as 
husband and wife. The indignant princess 
expresses her vehement rage at this unbecoming 
proposal and threatens to bring the matter to 
the notice of the king. This would lead to his 
immediate execution. But Chandana cites 
Pauranic examples ; how Rama left the palace 
and became a beggar for a simple pledge ; how 
Dagaratha died of grief yet dared not break his 
pligdge ; how Rama himself did nn act which 



221 POLK LITERAlUBE OF BENGAL 

was 1)lamed as one of questionable integrity, 
simply because he had pledged his word. These 
references to Pauranic examples of faithfulness 
completely conquered her spirit. Eor being a 
scholar herself, she dared not violate the ordi- 
nances laid down in the holy books. The 
Puranas guided the social lives of the Hindus 
of the 16th century. Even the literary cha- 
racters were bound down by the commandment 
of these scriptures. The preceptor of Sakhisona 
dissuaded her from flying away with Kumara, 
but she cited an example from the Ramayana 
referring to the case of the washer-woman who 
was afraid of scandal in the Uttarakanda ; and 
this completely outwitted the preceptor. The 
descriptions of Nature given by Pakir Rama 
are all on classical lines. The animated account 
of a hurricane is interesting, and so is also that 
of Sakhisona's full grown charms on the attain- 
ment of Avomanhood. Her feet are like lotus 
buds, her eyes soft as those of a gazelle and her 
face lovely as the moon. These are of course 
stereotyped objects of comparison which abound 
in Pauranic literature. But inspite of his 
classical taste, which is a marked feature of the 
story related by Eakir Rama, we admire his 
keen appreciation of the rural element in the 
original folk-tale which he retains in his version 
in a considerable measure. His w^ritings show 
a combination of the classical elements with the 



RURAL LIFE 225 

rural-, and his style is light occasionally verging on 
the humorous and far from the monotonous and 
heavy sweep which often repels us in most of the 
vernacular poems of the Hindu Renaissance. 

But when we come to the version of Dakshina- 
ranjan what a sense of relief do we feel ! This 
scholar has taken down the story as told by old 
women of the country-side. He has added 
nothing himself. He has even tried, as far as 
possible, to retain the very language in which 
these tales were delivered. This takes us back 
to a state of things which existed in the country 
before the Muhammadan invasion. Those that 
are acquainted with Hindu 
The excellence and life in the Zenaua, especially 

genuineness of Dak- .,i i-^ro •^ 'ii 

shinaranjan's version m the rCUlote Mof USSll VlllagCS 

of Beno-al, wall b ar testimony 
to the fact that time has changed but little of 
the ideas and thoughts of our womenfolk and 
even of the dialect they have been speaking for 
all these long centuries. We find in these coun- 
try-tales some of the simple charms of old life, 
before the Brahmin priests had made it a 
complicated and artificial one. These beauties 
grow up everywhere in the tale and are abun- 
dant as field-flowers. The princess and Chandana 
take the vow of adherence to a life of devoted 
love, but they do not swear by gods and goddesses 
nor by the holy writs nor by the words of the 
Brahmins. Chandana says "We shall be true 

29 



226 FOLK LITERA.TTTTIE OF BENGAL 

as the earth is true where flowers blossom." 
The flower is the emblem of innocence and truth; 
and the earth is sacred because the flowers 
blossom here ! When the queen breaks her 
promise, Chandana's mother — the poor wife of 
the hotwal — comes to the bank of the Putra-saro- 
bara and ])efore the lotuses which were the 
witnesses of the queen's pledge, sings her lament, 
the quiet pathos of which appeals to the heart, 
ofl'ering a contrast to the Pauranic allusions 
made in Pakir Rama's version to prove that 
breach of promise is not good. Here the 
kotivaVs wife says in rhymed verse : — ■" Oh lotus, 
why do you blossom still and do not blush and 
fade for shame ? For did she not make a pledge 
here and has not she broken it here and in your 
presence ? The bank of this lovely tank is no 
longer sacred. How strange that in spite of the 
breach of faith that took place here the sun 
still throws its reflection on this tank by day 
and the moon and stars by night ! " 

The princess has a dim knowledge of the 
pledge given by her royal parents. She comes 
near the tank and sees the birds Cuka and 
Sari perched on the bough of a near tree. The 
shade of the evening spreads around her and 
she says : " birds, ^uka and Sari, O waters 
of the tank, can you not tell me what this 
pledge is ? For its fulfilment I am ready to 
take out a rib of my heart and offer it, if 



BEFORE THE RENAISSANCE 227 

necessary." The ideal of loyalty and devotion 
is here even more strikingly shown than in 
Pauranic talcs ; but they arc simple virtues of 
the innocent human heart, and for following 
these no Pauranic rules needs be quoted. The 
plant with its floral wealth, the tank with its 
transparent water and the lotus in its full- 
blown beauty appeal to the rural people more 
than the Brahmins and all their holy writ would 
perhaps do. The thought of the pledge Aveighs 
upon Puspamala, the princess, and makes her 
sad. The next day, the preceptor marks it. 
On other days the jingle of the gold cymbals 
on her feet pleased the ear of everyone that 
heard it, to-day she steals into the room quietly, 
and the preceptor says, " How is it that your 
voice on other days sounded so sweet when you 
recited your lessons, and to-day it is dull like that 
of a dry piece of wood ?" When the preceptor 
learns the whole thing about the pledge from 
Puspa and Chandana, and when both of them 
seek his opinion as to what they should do, he 
does not play the part of the vociferous Brahmin 
of the Eenaissance giving a catalogue of the 
Pauranic allusions to bear upon the question, but 
briefly says, " If one keeps the pledge he goes to 
heaven, he that violates it, goes to hell." But 
before this Daniel delivered his judgment, he had 
sat quiet for a minute with brows that were 
darkened and pursed up, for he realised the fact 



228 POLK LITERATURE OE BENGAL 

well, that his jud^^ment would make the princess, 
the heiress to the throne of that country, leave the 
palace and seek a life of poverty and distress. But 
in his regard for truthfulness, he did not yield to 
the Brahmanic enthusiast of the Pauranic revival, 
though he was not at all prolific in his speech 
like the latter. The princess after hearing this 
judgment from his Guru, made Chandana sit on 
the throne, while she sat below ; this simple 
act showed that she elected him as her bridegroom. 
Without the sound of conch-shells and the recita- 
tions of Vedic hymns, and a hundred rites which are 
held indispensable, they became bound in wedlock 
in response to the call of a higher duty which 
gave a solid grounding to love and sentiments. 
Before they departed they said, " To keep the 
honour of the pledge of a king is to keep 
unimpeached the honour of the country ; so do 
we follow this course." The princess took her 
diamond necklace and bracelets oft' and offered 
them as fees to the preceptor, We all feel that 
he richly deserved them ; for even at the risk 
of everything enviable in this earth, he could not 
advise the pair to swerve from truth. He knew 
that if this were known to the king, he would 
punish him with death. 

One thing that strikes us as very remarkable 
in these stories is the control exercised on 
feelings and speech of the great characters. This 
affords a contrast to the literature of the 



UREVITT 229 

Pauranic renaissance where descriptions of 
simple things often weary us by their monotony 
and unnecessary repetitions. Here the women- 
folk are generally the listeners 
ofreSion"'^ ""'"' of tlicsc talcs and they are also 
the story tellers. This accounts 
for the excellent brevity — the characteristic of 
the stories — which as a great poet has said "is 
the soul of wit." Eor though we read in modern 
romances long speeches on love delivered by 
women, these people of the tender sex are, as a 
matter of course, averse to such speeches, when 
their feelings are deep. This is true especially 
of the Hindu Avomen. One of our great poets 
has put this in the mouth of Jiis heroine ' We 
are called Abolas (speechless), for though we 
have mouth, we cannot speak out our senti- 
ments." In fact, deep love is ijot consistent 
with long professions. It is silent and full of 
sacrifices. AYords are generally frothy and 
they often disclose shallowness of the heart. 
Did ever a mother deliver a long speech to her 
child to prove how dearly she loved him ? 
Even so it is with nuptial love ; when it is deep 
it scarcely speaks. In the modern Bengali 
romances, the heroines are given to long 
speeches and long love-confessions. But here we 
find the highest and deepest love shewn in action 
and in sacrifice at every step, but the characters 
seldom make speeches. 



230 FOLK LITEEATUKE OF BENGAL 

The Jook of the flower-woman's malignant 
eyes turned Chandana into a goat. She w^ove 
a garland of flowers without the help of thread 
and blew into the air by her breath. These had 
no effect upon Puspa. For, says the folk-tale, 
she was chaste and pure. It is interesting to 
notice that in spite of the many superhuman 
actions, charms and spells, with which these 
stories abound, the rural people realised the 
power of simple truth and faith in a Avonderful 
manner. A woman who was loyal and true and 
who sacrificed everything for love, and suffered 
without complaint, was a proof against all kinds 
of spell. Truth and devotion were the armour 
against which no Avitchcraft or charm could 
stand. Human virtues are appreciated in these 
simple accounts of rural life in a remarkably 
convincing manner. Gods and even devils bow 
to a true heart. This gives the stories a great 
ethical status. We shall, however, show a 
striking example of these great human virtues 
in the typical story of Malanchamala of which 
a full translation Avill be appended to our 
concluding lectures. 

The country life, with its charms and simpli- 
city and with its deep poetry, finds a most 
unassumingly fascinating expression in these 
stories. Not a Avord more, not a word less than 
Avhat is required; the Avords are all to the 
point, and the descriptions are not made 



THE POETir ELE3TENT i'31 

increiiious or lieavy hv scliolarly effusions- the 
little soiii^^s intei'spersed in the stories are full 
of poetry, wit or pathos. In this very story oi 
Puspamjlla, there are many small songs which 
shine like g^ms ; they were not composed to 
illustrate classical canons of rhetoric, hut coming- 
direct from hearts that were charged with emo- 
tions and true, pathos, they appeal irresistibly 
and remind us that there is nothing so beautiful 
as simplicity. Puspa had disguised herself as a 
warrior l)at the king's guard while trying to take 
olf the soldier's coat from her body, makes a 
strange discovery. The folk- tale here introduces 
a song : — 

" How does her rich braided hair become open 
to the ojaze 1 The sfreen outer skin of the mansjo 
had hid its wealth of ripeness but the beak of a 
cvow strikes it, and lo 1 the goldeu colour is out. 
The water weeds had covered the lotus, its soft 
stalk lay hid under thorns, the bee touches it 
and lo ! a hundred petals spread out and show 
the full blomn." 

Tliis passage reminds us of a few charming 
lines in Goldsmith's " Hermit." The ])eauty of 
words like " ^?^i c^t^l ^t^ " is untranslatable, 
and belongs to the rural dialect of this pj'ovince. 
Their rich suggestiveness can hardly be conveyed 
to foreigners. 

The descriptions sometimes consist merely of 
a number of onomatopoetic words. They are, 



282 FOLK LITERATFllE OF BENGAL 

however, more expressive tlinii those which 
cire verl>ose aiid Avritteii in a 

Oiioiuatopoetic words ^. ,i:i„ i i • i l i 

and tl.eir pointedness. graiKllloqiieil t claSSlCal Stylc. 

The great reptile, the CankhinT, 
that swallowed men and beasts, approaches 
throngh the forest lands. 

"^Sl "^U^^, ^ft^ 51^5 ^^, ^n ^-^^ WS^ fi^W^ c^?:sr<i Vft^^ 

These few words call up the hideous imagery 
of the CankhinI, which many of our modern 
writers would fail to produce by Avriting a nani- 
ber of pages. 

CHAPTER Y 

Fou?' kinds of Folk- 1 ales 

There were four kinds of folk-tales prevalent 

in Bengal. First of all, to begin with, the rTipa- 

hdhUs, — tliey are simple tales in which the su^^er- 

human element predominates. 

Tho rapul-athaft. 

The Raksasas, the l)easts and 
celestial nymphs often play the most important 
parts in these stories. The tales of heroism 
related in them are sometimes fantastical. The 
sages of these kinds of tales in Gaul could tell 
you the age of the moon ; they could call the 
fish from the depths of the seas and cause them 
to come near the shore ; they could even change 
the shapes of the hills and head lands; they 



THE 8th to 10th CENTURy TALES 233 

could utter incantations over a body cut to 
pieces, saying, " Sinew to sinew and nerve to 
nerve be joined " and the body became whole 
again ; the Druid priest could hurl tempests 
over the seas ; the heroes with one stroke of their 
favourite swords beheaded hills for sport ; when 
they sat down to their food, they devoured whole 
oxen and drank their mead from vats. In the 
legend of Mainamati, we find the Hadi Shiddha 
displaying similar feats ; with golden shoes on 
his feet he could walk over big rivers ; he 
kindled fire with the water of the Ganges instead 
of oil ; the river was budged at the mere words 
of his mouth ; at his command the tree laden 
with fruits drooped low to the earth to yield its 
treasures to him ; the gods came down to offer 
their services to him ; he was so powerful that 
with his rod he even chastised Yama, the 
god of death. The attribution of superhuman 
powers to mortals, held in higher rank than 
even the immortals, was a special feature of the 
rupakatJms and legends from the 8th to the 10th 
centuries all over the world. In a tale called 
the " Eield of Bones" in the collection of Bengal 
folk-tales by Lai Behary Dey, we find a sage, 
like the Gaelic physician Miach, son of Diancecht, 
joining the different parts of a dead body by 
incantations ; and the legend of the beautiful 
nymph Caer, who became a swan every summer 
and smote Angus with her charms, will ever 
30 



234 FOLK LiTERATUKE OF BEN&AI, 

remind us of many stories current in Bengal 
like those of Dandi, Jamini Bhan and 
Chandra vali, to which reference has already 
been made. This episode, differing in some 
of its details in various versions, recurs in 
many Bengali stories as well as in those of 
the other parts of the world. The genuine 
rTipakathas and legends all over the world 
have many strikingly common points in them. 
Those that are indigenous to Bengali life have 
the special feature of having some great ethical 
aim while imparting instruction with amuse- 
ment to the young. It is now admitted by 
European scholars that many episodes of the 
Arabian Night's Tales owe their origin to Indian 
stories, such as are to be found in the Kathasarit- 
sagara. The slory of Saharia and Sahajeman 
is an Arabic adaptation of the story of the two 
Brahmin youths and their religious sacrifice 
described in that Indian Avork. The story of 
Sindabad the sailor, that of the King, the prince, 
and seven ministers, of Geliad, his son and minis- 
ter Senmash, in the Arabian Night's Tales, are 
derived from Sanskritic sources. We have al- 
ready mentioned how the Panchatantra which 
professed to teach the princes of Patalij^utra 
rules of conduct and politics, presented in the 
garb of animal stories, got a world-wide circu- 
lation. This represents one of the forms of 
rupakathas. But the true rttpakathas are those 



THE TWO WRESTLERS 235 

where fair ones arc won by the heroic feats 
of dauntless princes and young merchants after 
a conquest over the Raksasas or achievements 
of other feats equally hazardous and glorious. 
These at one time carried the young children 
breathless through every stage of narration ; 
the spirits of the air, the beasts of the forest 
and the monsters of the deep took part in human 
affairs in these stories creating a romance which 
produced and excited interest around the hearth 
of each family. 

Often in particular classes of rTqjcikathas, the 
human powers were exaggerated, till imagination 
feasted itself to a satiety, and in Eastern tales 
the romance of these was not bound by time and 
space, but transcended limits of all sorts. In 
the Edda the giant Skrymmer notices the dread- 
ful blows of Thor's hammer as the falling of a 
leaf. In the Enojlish story of Jack the sjiant- 
killer, Jack under similar circumstances, says 
that a rat had given him three or four slaps 
with its tail. But these feats are nothinoj as 
, „„ compared to those described in 

Ihe wrestler 22-men- -' 

strong and the wrest- tlic Bcnsrali talc Called '' The 

ler 23-men-strong. 

wrestler 2 2 -men-strong, and 
the wrestler 23-men-strong. " The tale is a 
typical one showing the wild excesses of Eastern 
imagination. The Avrestler 22-men-strong 
heard that there lived in another part of 
the world a wrestler 23-men-strong. His 



236 FOLK LITERA.TURE OF BENGAL 

pride was wounded, so in great rage he 
started for the countr}^ of his rival who claimed 
the strength of one man more than himself, in 
order to challenge him to a fight. In his 
hurry he forgot to take his meal. But on his way 
he found that his hag contained 24 maunds 
oF flour. Where was the plate to he found 
from which he could eat so much food ? 
binding a tank on his way he threw the flour 
into it and then quaffed off the whole mixture. 
This appeased his hunger for a time. He 
now took a mid-day nap, hut a wild elephant 
that had come to drink water from that tank 
was enraged to see it emptied of its liquid, and 
trampled the wrestler under its feet ; the sleep- 
ing man was disturbed, and half-opening his 
eyes from which sleep had not yet vanished, 
gave a slap which killed the animal as though 
it were a gnat, and then he turned on his hack 
and slept again. 

Arising from his sleep the wrestler came to 
the house of his rival 23-men-stron£f, and 
knocked at his gate. But as no one responded 
to his call, he kicked at the earth as a sign 
of his rage, and this caused a great sound. 
A girl nine years old came out and wonderingly 
said, " You, a man ? I thought the cat of 
the house was scratching the earth as it does 
every day ?" The wrestler felt himself hum- 
bled by this remark, for his feats were belittled 



THE KING OF BIRDS 237 

by a girl and declared to l)e worthy of a cat. 
Then reclining upon a tall palm tree he asked 
the girl where the wrestler 23-men-strong was. 
" You mean my father, wait a bit, he will come 
presently. He has gone to the river side," said 
the girl and added " Dont push the palm tree 
in that way, it may fall down." " Why, what if 
it does ?" The girl replied " My father will 
make a tooth-brush with it, when it grows 
stronscer." The wrestler did not relish this 
remark also and wondered what the man 
would be like, who thought of making a 
tooth-brush with such a tall palm-tree. He did 
not wait, but ran to the river side to meet his 
rival. They met and forthwith began to fight. 

An old woman with a herd of goats 
was passing that side, and seeing the two 
wrestlers lighting, said " Children, forbear your 
play for a moment, and let me pass." The 
wrestlers stopped fighting and wondered that 
such giants as they were could be addressed 
as children and their fight described as play ! 
But the woman did not wait long ; she took 
the fighting heroes upon her shoulders and for- 
got all about them, and tying her cows and buffa- 
loes to her apron, passed by. The king of birds 
Gadura was passing by the sky above them at 
this moment and he saw the prospect of a good 
feast, and carried in his beak the woman with all 
that she carried. 



238 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

There lived a king in a certain country who 
had a daughter. She was taking rest on a 
couch on the roof of her palace, and one of her 
attendant maids was narrating a rTipakatha 
to her. The breeze was pleasant and the princess 
enjoyed it no less than the tale, when suddenly 
she rose up from her l)ed and said, " Maid, see 
what has fallen into my right eye, it may be 
a dust-grain." The maid took a straw in 
her hand and put a bit of cotton around it, 
and then with its help drew out the dust-grain. 
The princess felt a little pain in the eye from 
which fell a drop of tear. The dust-grain when 
1)rought out proved to be nothing less than the 
woman Avith two fio-htinoj men on her shoulders 
and with a whole herd of beasts tied to her 
apron ! The gentle breeze that the princess 
enjoyed was a cyclone which had caused the 
king of birds to throw the woman from his beak ! 
The dwellers of Brobdingnag who are " as tall 
as an ordinary spire-steeple " sink into insigni- 
ficance before this mighty host of the Bengali 
tale. 

These mpaTcathas introducing nymphs and 
fairies, where the hero and the heroine suffer 
for their love and pass through risks and sacri- 
fices in an adventurous spirit, have interest for 
the young as well as the old, rousing the imagi- 
nation of the former and old memories of the 
latter. And what people of the world have 



TitE CHARM OF THE TALES 289 

not heard these in their infancy, and not admired 
them with all the warmth and eagerness of 
their souls ? Sometimes the grim and terrible 
element in these tales fills the young minds 
with awe, and sometimes the picturesque natural 
sceneries drawn in a few lines — the flowers of the 
valley, the evening stars and moon light — diffuse 
a charm which make a lasting impression on the 
young. And many a time and oft the story 
carries them through the dangers passed by the 
hero, — in the land of Raksasas or of giants or 
in cities depopulated by tigers or cobras. 
And the young listeners sigh and pray for the 
end of the hero's troubles and ^vhen he is res- 
tored to his love's arms, feel extreme grati- 
fication and sense of relief. Sometimes as in 
the story of the Eield of Bones, the stillness of 
a dark night, in the depth of an impenetrable 
forest, mixed with awful incantations and 
the grimness of Tantrik worship, recalling the 
dead to life, awaken the soul to mystic 
emotions and thousjhts that transcend the 
limits of time and space. In stories like that 
of " The Origin of Opium," through the various 
stages of ambition presented in the form 
of a legend, the ethical lesson that content- 
ment and not self-aggrandisement should be 
the true object to be aimed at, prepares the 
temperament of the young aspirant to high 
moral life. 



240 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

The next species of folk-tale in Bengal consists 
„ ^ , of those in which there is an 

Humorous tales. 

attempt at humour. These may 
not be often too pointed and subtle, but they 
show the power of appreciating humorous situa- 
tion by the rural-folk in their own simple 
way. They call up associations of merry laugh- 
ter of children and smiles on the bashful lips 
of youthful women. One of them begins in 
this way : 

" There was once a king whose name was 

Habuchandra aud Habucliaudra. His minister was 
Gabuchandra. ^^^^^^ Gabuchaudra. 

" The kini? was the very iar of wisdom and 
the minister a palm-tree of sagacity. 

" Both kept company day and night, and did 
not leave each other for a moment. 

" How could injustice prevail in a kingdom 
ruled by such a pair of prodigies ? They were 
determined to protect the country from harm in 
every way. 

" The king used to laugh loudly, ho — ho — ho 
at every thing, and the rejoinder was sure to 
come from the minister who in his deep-mouthed 
voice coughed kho — kho — kho. 

" Each admired the other's wisdom and was 
full of praises of the other. 

" The king had a wall raised round his Audi- 
ence Hall, his minister kept his nostrils and 
ears shut by putting a quantity of cotton in 



HAEIT CHANDRA — GAEU CHANDRA 241 

them. This Avas a precaution lest tlie royal and 
ministerial wisdom should disappear from the 
court. 

" It happened one day that a boar passed 
near the palace making a sound with its nose, 
ghoiith, ghonfJi, gltonlh. The king saw the animal 
and said, ' What is it, minister ? ' The minister 
looked at it with scrutinizing eyes, and said, 
'Your Majesty's servants in charge of the stall 
are thieves. This is an elephant famished and 
reduced to this size; the servants have not 
evidently provided it w^ith food.' 

" At once an order was passed to imprison 
the servants lielonging to the royal stall ! 

"Another day the same boar passed by the 
palace again. The king looked at it and said, 
' How is it, minister, that the elephant has not 
improved in size though the servants have been 
punished.' 

"The minister said, 'Your Majesty, this is a 
mouse, for were it an elephant, its trunk would 
have come out by this time. The kingdom is 
in a great peril. The mice have become fat, 
feeding on the royal store.' 

" 'Does the matter even stand so ?' cried the 
indignant king. Orders were at once passed to 
behead the sentinels of the royal store. 

"The royal store was now saved by the 
sagacity of the king and his minister ; they 
drew a breath of relief and sat in a chamber 
31 



242 POLX LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

after this great labour and the servants fanned 
them in order to remove the weariness caused 
by the toil of administration."* 

The story goes on to narrate a number of 
episodes illustrative of the sagacity of the king 
and his minister, and the humour throughout, 
though not pointed as a needle, is neither blunt 
as a wooden sword. They best show the joys 
and merriments of simple village -folks, and are 
purely indigenous in character. The sequel is 
worthy of the beginning, comic and tragic at 
the same time. The king, counselled by the 
minister, orders the execution of a man, as inno- 
cent as you or I, on a charge of theft. A stake 
is raised for the impalement of this criminal. 
And the king and the minister are present to 
see to the carrying out of their command. Now 
the Guru of this unfortunate man came to the 
spot at that moment and cried out, "Do not put 
him to the stake for god's sake ; let not a 
criminal be rewarded in the way deserved by 
saints." "What is the matter ?" "What is the 
matter ?" asked the king and his minister with 
gaping mouths. Now the Guru who was dressed 
as a hermit said, " I have found it in the holy 
writs that the man who is impaled at this most 
auspicious moment will go to heaven straight, 
no matter what heinous crime he may have 

* Uakhina Raujan'a Tliakurmar Jhulj. 



I'UE FOX 2i3 

committed in this earth ; so keep his punishment 
in abeyance for a while, and put me on the 
stake instead, so that I may at once pass from 
earth to the heaven." The minister said, 
" This cannot be, if this death is so ejlorious, why 
should an outsider be rewarded with it ? Put 
me there." But His Majesty whose imagination 
was inflamed by the description of the nymphs of 
heaven that he had heard, cried aloud, "The 
king must go to heaven first." So by his royal 
order he was impaled by the executioner and 
by his wish loud music was kept up all the 
while drowning his screams, and when the crowd 
at last saw him, they found him stone-dead, 
with a horrible grimace on his face. 

There are many stories that we heard in 
our childhood containing rural sketches full of 
humour and jovial spirits, and not in an incon- 
siderable portion of them are 

The fox in charge of 

the tortoise's young the animals, the chief actors. 

ones. , 

The fox IS often the hero or 
these stories. In one of the tales we find him 
in the capacity of a village pedagogue. The 
tortoise has seven young ones ; he is anxious for 
their education and leads them to the school of 
the veteran teacher. The wily fox is well 
pleased to see the young ones and casts on them 
hungry looks, but says he, "You need not at all 
care for them now. Their interest is my look- 
out from this day." The tortoise now goes back 



244 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

fully convinced of the sound education its 
young ones will get at the hands of such a 
well knoAvn scholar as the fox. On the third 
day, his fatherly care made him feel some 
anxiety ahout them and he paid a visit to the 
school-master. One of the seven had meantime 
served for the light refreshment of the latter, 
but the cunning fellow brought the little things 
one by one and shoAved them to their father, 
the sixth one was brought twice so that he could 
not perceive any diminution in their number. 
In this way when all but one remained, the cun- 
ning fox brought it out and then took him back 
to his school chamber and in this Avay produced 
it seven times, on which the tortoise felt that all 
the seven were alive and doing well. But Avhen 
the wily animal had finished that one also, the 
tortoise on his visit again was told that his 
seven young ones had completed their school- 
education and gone to college for higher aca- 
demic distinction. How long could such a pre- 
text hold water ? The tortoise now realised the 
truth that his young ones had gone up indeed 
to a higher Avorld but through the jaAvs of the 
wicked Reynard. And he took a solemn vow 
of retaliation. One day the old fox was cross- 
ing a canal and the tortoise caught one of his 
legs tightly within his jaws. "Ha'-Bah!" 
cried the prince of cunning, Avhose presence of 
mind never failed him. "What a narrow escape ! 



THE TRAP AN]) ESCAPE 245 

The foolish tortoiso lias but caught a log* l)y his 
teeth, my legs are quite free." Whereupon the 
latter let it go, thinking that it Avas a mistake 
on his part. Another day the fox Avas thinking 
to hoAv to cross the small canal. He had 
urgent business on the other side, but dared 
not cross the canal lest the tortoise who was on 
the alert, might catch him again. The tortoise 
was weary of waiting, and at last showed himself 
on the surface of the water. He abused the 
fox to his heart's content and said that there 
was no escape from him, sooner or later. 
The fox also gave replies which enraged the 
tortoise. In his indignation he floated in 
mid-water in a careless manner ; and lo ! 
clever Reynard sprang up in all haste and 
resting his feet for a moment on the back of 
his enemy Avent to the other side of the canal 
by a heroic leap. "Ha '-Bah!" cried Reynard 
safelv landini? on the other bank, and the tortoise 
felt greatly disappointed. The tortoise thought 
"The ;Avily fox outwits me in this Avay each 
time but I Avill prove too clever for him this 
time." He came up to the bank of the canal 
and landing ashore closed his eyes and lay 
like one dead. " The old fool Reynard must 
take me for a corpse and come to partake 
of my flesh. Let me Avait." The fox came 
up there as usual for an evening Avalk and 
noticed the father of the deceased young 



246 FOLK LITERATUKE OF BENGAL 

ones lvin2f there inert and motionless. In a 
moment he understood the device of the tortoise 
and said : " The tortoise, poor fellow, is dead. 
But stop, I am not sure if he is completely 
dead ; for he does not shake his ears as 
tortoises do when they die." The tortoise 
thought that it must be a sign of death of the 
species to which he belonged, to shake the ears 
after death. So he gently shook his ears as a 
convincing proof of death. But the fox said : 
" The tortoises open their eyes after death and 
shut them again." Whereupon the foolish 
animal did as he was told, shutting his eyes 
after opehing them once. Reynard approached 
him and gave him a kick and fled in all haste 
into the depths of the forest. This part of the 
story has a parallel in the story of a hare and 
a fox current among the Negroes. 

The third class of these stories comprises the 
brcfta katJias or tales interspersed 

The hvatn knthas. .,i i i i j i i > t^ 

Avith hymns and attended with 
religious observances. Some of these seem to have 
come down to us from hoary antiquity. The 
deities addressed are those for the most part to 
whom the Aryan pantheon has not opened its 
doors. Their names are unknown and non-Sans- 
kritic, and the mode of their worship is strange. 
The deities called the Thua, five in number, are 
to be made with clay. Their conically shaped 
figures are like miniature pyramids and the 



BRATA KATHA 247 

hymns addressed to them are couched in the 

oldest form of the Bengali 

The language of the (jjalect aldn to Prakrlta. 

hymns. 

The meaning of this mystic 
hymn is not very clear. 

'^\-^^ ^iim ^itf^ 

The origin of the worship of the Bengali 
woman's god Laul is also lost in obscurity. 
Like Thua he is represented by a conically 
shaped piece of clay. This is covered with floral 
decorations, and two sticks of flowers represent- 
ing two arms are attached to the figure ; but 
this seems to be a later innovation. The reli- 
gious observances in regard to Thua and Laul 
seem to be a sort of pyramid- worship ; and it is 
difficult at this stage to say if these forms of 
worship belonged to the indigenous non-Aryan 
population, or were introduced by the Dravidians 
or some other people. One point to be noticed 
in regard to such worship is that the elderly 
women of the Aryan homes seem to have been 
originally opposed to them. It is the young 



248 FOLK LTTERATrUE OF BENGAL 

M^fe that introduces them at the teeth of great 
opposition. This Ave find in the sacred tales by 
which every such worship is consecrated. The 
Aryans did not at first tolerate these practices ; 
but the brides were initiated into the rites pro- 
bably by the non-Aryan people with whom they 
came in contact and amongst whom the Aryan 
homes were built. In the stories attached to 
the worship of these local deities, we find the 
mothers-in-law resenting the 

The indeo-inons form ^ ■ _ 

of worship amowj; the practiccs, uay somctimes setting 
their feet on the sacred things 
with which the wives worshipped these deities 
privately. We all know that the worship of 
Chandl and Manasa Devi was not at first favoured 
in the Aryan homes. The young wives introduced 
it at great sacrifice on their part and bore all 
manner of oppression for doing so. 

To some of the deities of this nature, such as 
Chandl and Manasa Devi, the 
the^'irfan panlheon'' Brahmin pricst opeucd his tcm- 
ple-door latterly. They were 
connected in some form or other with the legends 
of Hindu mythology. But Thua and Laul 
are worshipped by womenfolk alone, without 
being recognised by the Brahmins, and are now 
in their last struggle for existence in Bengal. 
The archaic forms of words in the hymns ad- 
dressed to these deities carry us to the 8th or 9th 
centurv A.D. and even earlier times; and there 



THE giiil's pkayeks 249 

is no lack of other internal evidences to prove 
that some of these forms of worship originated 
when the Bengalis were at the height of 
maritime activities. The chart of worship of 
the goddess Bhaduli is full of symbolical things 
denoting sea-voyage. There are seven seas, 
thirteen rivers, the sandy sea 

Evidence of mari- 
time activity in the beach, ratts, sca fowls, palm 

tree, etc., in the chart. The 

prayers all refer to the safe landing on the 

home-shore of those dear ones and relations 

gone by sea to distant countries : — 

" Oh river, Oh river, whither do you run ? 

Before you pass by, say something of my father and 

his son. 
Where do you go so fast, Oh river, Oh river. 
Tell me how my husband and father-in-law fare. 
Oh sea, Oh sea, peace be with thee, grant what 1 

pray, 
My brother has gone for trade, may he return to-day. 
Oh sea. Oh sea, peace be with thee, hear what I say. 
My father has gone for trade, may he return to-day. 
Oh raft. Oh raft, dweller of the high seas thou art. 
Keep my father and brother safe from all harm and 

hurt. 
Oh sea-heaeh, Oh sea-beach, smile when they pass by 

thee. 
Watch them, keep them safe, this boon grant me. 
Oh sea-fowls, Oh sea-fowls, tell me I beseech thee. 
Where did you see the ship, that carries them in the 

sea?". 

32 



250 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

The little girls worship the image of the sea, 
of the rivers, sea-fowls, and rafts, preparing 
the figures by a solution of powdered rice, and 
address these short prayers and hymns, wishing 
the safe return of those dear and near to them, 
engaged in sea-voyage. Who the goddess 
Bhaduli is, no one can tell. In one of the 
hymns, she is called the mother-in-law of 
Indra, as Laul is called in another passage 
the elder brother of Civa. These are no doubt 
mere attempts to connect them in some way or 
other with the deities of the Hindu pantheon. 
Bhaduli is worshipped in the month of August, 
when the rivers are full and the monsoons are 
high, and the anxiety of tender hearts be- 
comes greatest in respect of their husbands, 
fathers and brothers whose ships not so secure 
by scientific methods and appliances, as now, 
were often a plaything of the deep. The little 
girls observed fasts and prayed to the raft, the 
seabeach, the ship and the sea-fowls to keep 
their kith and kin in safety. There is a simplicity 
and tender pathos in these unassumingly 
beautiful prayers of the child's heart which can- 
not but appeal. The images of men and women 
are drawn in (tlipana paintings and this is 
an essential rite and part of the ceremony of 
worship. These figures are often like crosses ; 
a line is drawn in addition, to each cross towards 
the end ; for otherwise the figure would have 



CIVA APPLIES LIME WATER 251 

but one leg. These are also made of clay and 
sold in the country-side. A distinguished 
European scholar once expressed great sur- 
prise at seeing one such clay figure, and told 
me that it was the exact likeness of some of 
those clay-figures which Mr. Evans discovered 
along with other things in Crete, all belonging 
to about 3000 B.C. 

The agricultural element, an indispensable 
factor of country life in Bengal, 

The agricultural ele- . . . , . ^ n < , 

ment. IS m evidencc m most of these 

songs and tales. We find that 
in the (^unyapurana, written in the 10th century, 
^iva appears to us as an agricultural god 
engaged in reaping the harvest and doing other 
field work, with the help of his chief assistant 
Bhima. The peasantry of the country-side 
attributed their own calling to the deity, in 
order to bring him nearer to their comprehen- 
sion. There is a humour which almost reaches a 
pathetic interest in the description of Civa ap- 
plying lime water to the roots of rice-plants in 
order to destroy insects. Well is it said, that 
if a bull were to make an image of its god, the 
horns would be considered indispensable for 
such a divinity. Some of these bratakathas 
attribute an agricultural life to Indra as the 
Cunyapurana does to Civa. One of these runs 

thus : — 

" Where is the god Indra ? 

Indra is husking rice." 



252 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

One of the most popular of these Bratas, or 
religious rites performed by our girls, is the 
Sejuti. In the prayers and songs relating to 
this hraUi^ we have a vivid sketch of the Hindu 
girls of the old school with their ideas and 
feelings. The typical girl of 

The hopes, aspira- . . . . , 

tions and wishes of our society exprcsses m siniple 
engai^i s. language all that she feels to 

the deity she worships. Her ambition, her 
sweetness of temper and even bitterness of 
feeling and jealousy are all expressed in 
her prayers. There is much crudeness but the 
simplicity is most attractive. There are prayers 
for a pretty son being born to the mother ; 
" Let me be borne in a stately palanquin from 
my father's house to my father-in-law's " is 
suggestive of a desire of being married to a rich 
husband ; " May the refuse in the plate of my 
brother be the meal for others." "'May my 
brother be lovely as the moon-beams." " May he 
be a favourite in the king's court "; " May I 
eat off a plate of gold and may I wear golden 
bracelets "; " Oh god ^iva, Oh god sun, may I 
not be married to an illiterate man "; " May my 
husband be a prince ; — elephants at his door and 
steeds in his stall, heaps of grain husked in his 
courtyard and cows breeding erermore in the 
cow-shed, and may we have a son of a swarthy 
colour." The liking for a child of a swarthy 
colour is inherent in the Hindu mother with 



SEJTJTI 253 

her love for the child Krsna of the religious 
legend of her coantry. " May I have a son in 
my lap, and one in my arms, and may I have a 
sadl of Benares-silk to wear in the night "; 
*' May I be a sister of seven brothers." 

With a solution of poAvdered rice she makes a 
bracelet and with join(?d hands she prays, " I 
worship thee, Oh bracelet of powdered rice, may 
I have a pair of golden bracelets, grant me this 
boon." Then she makes a kitchen, a cow-shed 
and a dwelling house with the same material 
and prays to them each, in the aforesaid manner 
that she may have these made of bricks. She 
prays also for diamonds and jewels to wear in 
her person. Her concluding prayer is, however, 
the purest gem amongst her sincere expressions 
of the heart : "I take a vow of sejuU 
worship so that I may be as virtuous as 
Savitrl." 

But if the above show her crude simplicity 
and anxiety to lead a virtuous life, she is not 
free from that fear which was once a Hindu 
girl's nightmare. In those days Hindu girls 
were plagued by a number of co-wives ; 
and the favours and likings of the husband 
fluctuated whimsically, but invariably with the 
approach of age in his consort the favourite of 
to-day became the cast away of to-morrow. 
The fear in respect of a co-wife was, as I have 



264 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

said, the very nightmare of her existence, and 
this will be illustrated from the following : — 

" Oil mirror, Oh mirror, may I not have a co-wife. 
" Oh squirrel, Oh squirrel, keep my husband in peace but 

eat my co-wife's head. 
" Oh broom, Oh broom, may my co-wife never have a 

child. 
" Oh bird, Oh bird, may my co-wife die below and I 

behold her death from above. 
" May her sleeping-room be the hut for husking rice 

and there may she die. 

"Oh knife, Oh knife, here do I dress vegetables with thy 

help for a feast to be given on my co-wife's death. 

" What is the red dye that adorns my feet ? you ask, 

it is the blood of m_y co-wife whom I have killed." 

We have some very old specimens of the 
songs of the sun-god, which at one time were 
recited by girls and young women. The sun 
was probably called Visnu in the earlier Riks. 
In fact, in Vedic literature there are enough 
hints suggesting that the word Visnu implied 
the sun-god amongst the Hindus in ancient 
times. Even in the days of Ramayana the Visnu 
of the line " f?^^ >[^C*ftttctF C^Tf^«^ f^£fW*f^? seems 
to signify the solar god. The sun according 
to the Ptolemaic theory, as also that of the early 
Hindus, made his round through 

The legend of the < i i - tit ^.^ s 

sun-god the solar system. 1 he theory ot 

Copernicus gives this motion to 

the earth. According to the Hindus the sun met 



A SOLAR MYTH 265 

the constellations ?t^, ^^^^1, f^*(t^ and passed 
through ^1%^ ^? ^Q^, ^°n51^^^ and other signs of 
the Zodiac of the Vedic times in its course. 
The worshippers of the sun-god, created legends 
out ot* this astronomical theory, describing the 
marriage of the sun-god, and his play with his 
planetary companions. In a song of the sun- 
god we find him in a boat with 1,600 Gopis or 
milk-maids. It is quite probable that these 
1,600 maids were meant to symbolize the in- 
numerable planets of the solar system. Whatever 
it l)e, there are good grounds for believing that 
Visnu or the sun-god of the Vedic hymns became 
in later times identitied with Kisna and as the 
worship of the sun-god lost popular favour in 
preference to the worship of Krsna, the legends 
that had gathered round the bright luminary 
of the day in a previous epoch of history all 
passed to Krsiia, who ousted the former from 
the temples of this country — the popular 
Vaisnava religion of to-day thus seems 
to have evolved out of the worship of the 
sun -god. 

The song, to which reference has been made 
seem to have been composed in the 10th 
century or so, judging not only from its crude 
language, but also from the fact that the forms of 
worship and the legends which they treat of, were 
those of that early epoch of our religious history. 



250 FOLK LITEKATUHE OF BENGAL 

Like. a thing carried by the waves from the 
Atlantic or the Pacific ocean to the shores of 
Bengal, these literary and historical relics, 
the subjects of the songs, have come floating 
to us from the Vedic or Upanishadaic 
times. 

The young sun-god, in this song has attained 
a fit age ; yet bis parents do not think of marry- 
ing him. " The beautiful sadis of two Brahmin 
girls have been spread to the sun, — the young 
sun-god casts a longing look at them, — O mother 
of the sun-god, he is now grown up, why not get 
him married ? A girl on the other side of the 
river is sitting with her hair spread before the 
sun, — look there, how the young sun-god roves 
about in order to see that hair. 

Oh mother of the sun-god, why not yet get 
him married, he is quite grown up. 

Another Brahmin sjirl walks with the cymbals 
jingling on her feet. The young sun-god goes 
so far as to propose to marry her. Why not get 
him married ; he is quite grown up." 

My audience should excuse any indecent 
suggestion in this rustic song. This was the 
way how the old village people felt that the time 
was ripe when they should look for brides, for 
their young lads. 



GAURI — THE CHILD WIFE 257 

But the real pathos ol' the song is centred 
in the touches with which young Gauri's marriage 
and separation from parents are described. She 
is below twelve, she must sever all connection 
with her parents at this tender age. The rela- 
tives bless her saying,- — 

" Go O Gaurl, weeping to-day, but come to- 
morrow smiling and rejoicing.'' 

A s the boat carrying her passes through the 
stream that flows fast by the village, GaurT 
says to the boat-man, '' Brother boat-man, ply 
your oars slowly, my mother is crying, let me 
hear her voice a little more ; Oh my brother boat- 
man, ply the boat slowly, my sisters are crying, 
let me catch their sound ; Oh brother boat-man 
do not ply your boat so fast, yet my brothers are 
crying, let me hear their voice a little more. " 
At the time she left home the relations were 
weeping, for she was a little girl and never 
stayed even a day away from her home. 
Her father hid his face in his scarf 
and wept. With a basket, full of toys, with 
which they used to play together, Gouri's 
brothers and sisters wept, but her mother threw 
herself on the bare earth and cried beating 
her head against a stone. The little girls after 
their marriage, went to their husbands' home 
and were subjected to the maltreatment of their 
sisters-in-law and mothers-in-law^ This accounts 
for the tender pathos of such situations. 
33 



258 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

But the Hindu wife, in that tender age had 
need of parents and brothers and sisters. She 
could not think of her husband alone as satis- 
fying all the needs of her tender mind. The home 
meant to her, the home of parents and it would 
take years for her to grow up and accept her 
mate as her all absorbing care. How touching 
is the following conversation between the grown- 
up husband and his girl-wife ! So long her 
parents were ministering to her wants and now 
she feels helpless not knowing exactly on whom 
to depend. 

" I shall go to your country, my husband, 
but ill will it fare with me when I am in need 
of apparel." 

" In my fair cities a colony of weavers will 
I found for you." 

" I shall go with you, my husband, ill will it 
fare with me when I want shell-bracelets for 
my hands." 

" In my fair cities will I make the bracelet- 
makers dwell, who will cut shells to adorn your 
hands." 

" I shall go to your country, my husband, but 
where shall I get vermilion for my brow." 

" Erom the adjacent countries will I import 
Banias to my fair cities to sell vermilion to 
you." 

" I shall go to your country, my husband, 
but where will a supply of rice come from ? " 



i»A RENTS SELL DAlTGHTERS 259 

" In my fair cities the ploughmen AA^ill be 
busy reaping harvests for you, my love." 

" I shall go to your country, my husband, 
but who will be my mother there." 

" I have my mother and she will be a mother 
to you." 

" I shall go with you, my husband, but who 
will be my father there ?" 

" My father will be your father as well." 

" I shall go with you, my husband, but who 
will be my brothers and sisters there ?" 

" My brothers and sisters will, my darling, 
be brothers and sisters unto you." 

In our country, the gods are not unapproach- 
able divinities — the dwellers of high heaven, 
they are merely those whom we see around us 
in our home. The rustic songs draw the gods 
after the models of the rural people. Hence so 
much tenderness attaches itself to the tales of 
the gods. 

In this song, there is frequently a reference 
to money received by a girl's parents from the 
bridegroom at the time of marriage. In one place, 
I find Gaurl's mother began to weep and cry 
(when Gauri left her parents for her husband's 
home), but she tied Rs. 1,000 in the edge of her 
sadi. The consideration received by the girl's 
mother was nearly tantamount to her j^rice with 
all its legal bindings. In one place, Gaurl, the 
young girl was unwilling to go and wept, " Oh 



260 FOLK LITERATURE OF BEN&AL 

my papa, Oh my mama, won't you keep me near 

you?" 

" But we have taken money before the whole 
village people, how can we keep you ?" 

Alas, these old good days are gone. In those 
days a daughter used to be called ^^^-^ which 
suggests a purchase value. How^ the social aspect 
is changed, not daughter, but the son is a valu- 
able thing in the Bengali matrimonial market. 

The rural songs have a simple charm of their 
own, — even now, when refined ideas and Sans- 
kritized Bengali have driven the charming things 
of the village into a corner. These songs some- 
times under a religious garb and at others Avith- 
out any such garb at all, — indicate the soft feel- 
ings, the sorrows and joys that are nourished 
every day under the shade of green mangoe trees 
in a Bengali village. I remember to have heard 
a Bengali shepherd, a lad of barely 16, — filling 
the whole air with the pangs of a widow's 
heart, conveyed in a song which he sang one 
evening, while returning from the field. The 
widow of the song is young and just stricken 
by her great calamity. I remember a line 
" Oh my darling, why have you left me — mak- 
ing me helpless, driving me mad with sorrow 1 
In some past life did I purchase fish from a 
fisherman and forgot to pay the price, for that 
fault am I a young widow to-day." Alas! the 
Bengali widows are not allowed to take fish or 



THE GITA KATHAS 26 i 

meat of any sort, the passage has therefore a 
special appeal for us. 

It is the fourth class of these folk-tales that 
are by far the most important of 
all. They are the Glta Kathas, 
lit., tales interspersed with songs. In Eastern 
Bengal, old widows of the humbler classes, 
assisted by a chorus, used to recite them before 
ladies of high rank during the days of their con- 
finement. On the sixth night particularly, when 
the Fortune god — the Vidhata Purusa — is said 
to come down in order to write on the forehead 
of the baby its future fortunes, the mother and 
her attendants remain awake ; and how can 
they do so better than by listening to the stories 
narrated by these story-tellers ? These glta 
kathas are not merely nursery tales. Eor the 
education of women, according to the ideals of 
the East, there cannot be anything more sublime 
or edifying. They smell of fresh grass and held- 
flowers that grow plentifully by the country-side 
and in them are embodied lessons of the highest 
renunciation and sacrifice. Some of them are dis- 
tinctly and peculiarly Indian ; so that none of 
the foreign nations that have imitated or adapted 
many of the Indian tales could reproduce them 
in their own language or assimilate them in their 
stories. 

Babu Daksina Rafijan Mitra Majumdar has 
done yeoman's service to the cause of Bengali 



262 FOLK LITERATURE OF BEN&AL 

literature by collecting some of these. The first 
edition of his Thakurdadar Jhuli reproduces the 
stories almost as he heard them from old women 
of the rural villages of Eastern Bengal. Their 
very language is preserved in this edition, as it 
was in some cases recorded by means of phono- 
"■raph. The story of Malaiichamala which is 
typical of these tales, and has unique excellence, 
was obtained from an old woman of the Yugi 
caste. This woman was aged over 100. People 
said she was 150 years old at the time. She was 
an inhabitant of a village near Pinger in the 
sub-division of Tangail in the district of Mymen- 
sinoi-h. The stories of Thakurdadar Jhuli were 
collected during the years 1896-1902. As the 
language of the first edition of this book proved 
too archaic and antiquated, the compiler at the 
request of his publishers had to change it in some 
places in the later editions. But though the 
lano-uao-e in the neAv editions is now closer to 
current Bengali, the intrinsic worth of the tales 
has to some extent suffered by the change. It 
must, however, be said in favour of these chauges 
that the book could not have commanded the 
popularity that it now enjoys, if the archaic 
forms had not been changed in many places. 
But the alterations are not always happy. When 
an army marched in a hurry, what a dash and 
sweep of the movement of a large mass of human 
being's is implied by the line "'Sf^ Wt^t^ ^ ^ 



THE EXPRESSIONS CHANGED 263 

^Wt^^l ^tt^l" (p. 18, first edition), which means 
that the low marshy swamps 

The Thakurdiidar . i i ,i i ' i *. i • 

Jhuii, its first edition weve I'Mised to the level ot plam 

as contrasted with i i i ,1 

later editions. 1^"<1 '^^^^^ the I'lvei's Were run up 

the stream and crossed, but this 
translation scarcely conveys the precipitous hurry 
and the dash implied in the original line. This 
line is omitted in later editions. The words 
'* ^^«0? t|# " (lit.,';the son of the wielder of the 
sceptre, p. 22), ''m ^^^ f^^^ " (p. 20) "% 
^tnm 5RJ1" (p. 25), "f^?tf^ ^^t^ft^^lt" (p. 40), ''m 

?m^" (p. 49), "cTf-^fcrf % ^^rmtc^" (p. 49), '*f^^^ 

f^^f% ^tr^'-" (p. 55), "•nf^^^M^ ttCS" (p. 127), 
"ptr:^ ^Nt^ ^t^^" (p. 131), and many such 
expressions have been changed or paraphrased in a 
simpler language in the succeeding editions. 
What words can convey the awful stillness of the 
night so powerfully as " f^^^ f^^t% ?tf% " ? The 
very word "f^^^" which means " without sound " 
and "t^l9l%" which means " merged in profound 
slumber " recall to us by association the terrible 
calm of a midnight in a child's dream. Put any 
Sanskritic expressions in the place of these two 
Prakritic words, however pompous and grand 
they may be, they will fail to make a similar 
impression. But we, in whose ears still ring 
some of the powerful expressions of country- 
Prakrit by associations of childhood, do under- 
stand and appreciate their rural charm and signi- 
ficance. Our younger generations accustomed 



264 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

to Sanskritic words have not learnt their meanings 
partly because they have lost touch with the old 
country-life, and partly because the present 
vocabularies scrupulously avoid illuminating 
scholars about Prakrit expressions, confining 
themselves to Sanskritic words. It was therefore 
prudent from the publisher's point of view to 
change ^f^ into ^t (p. 53), ^<pf^ into ^^ (p. 58), 
f^l into f^?rl (p. 60). But the old fascination still 
lingers in the archaic forms and the same literary 
beauty, I am afraid, is not preserved in the tales. 

How unfortunate is it to substitute ^tfe 
'ItSl by ^ ^^ (p. 127). ^^ means 
impenetrably dense. In our childhood we 
understood by this density as if it could not 
be pierced by the point of a needle. ^ means 
tender. 

But the versions of the tales given by Dak- 
sina Raiijan, in spite of the occasional changes 
in the style, which he was obliged to make in 
view of making them suitable for popular use, 
possess a unique merit. Sir Babindranath Tagore 
has written in his introduction to one of these 
compilations that no other man in Bengal has 
succeeded in reproducing the tales in the popu- 
lar dialogue so well as Daksina Babu has done. 
The compiler put aside his own learning, his own 
notions, and his own language and did almost the 
part of an automatic machine. Thus the old 
world is here with its antiquated forms, with its 



A FAITHFUL REPRODUCTION 26o 

mannerisms and with its ideals, unvarnished and 
unmolested by modern influences. The old 
Bengali life of the 10th century is vividly 
before us in the story of Malancliamala. The 
professional women who used to recite these 
tales in the palaces of the kings as well as in 
the huts of the poor had a formed style with 
fossilised ideas. The stops, the sighs, and even 
the caughings passed from one generations of 
reciters to the others, preserving the original 
stories in a really wonderful manner, not indeed 
like the Egyptian mummy which is lifeless, 
but like a flower-Avoman's wreath, fresh with life 
and fragrance. If the stories were not preserv- 
ed in this manner, how could an illiterate woman, 
who did not even know how to sign her name, 
reproduce such an excellent thing as the tale of 
Malaiichamala ? Daksina Ranjan got it from one 
of these women, as an automatic record. In read- 
ing these tales, we need not attach any importance 
to the name, that appears on the cover, of one who 
compiled them except for the 
compared with other purposc of grateful ackuow- 
MkSes. '^ ^'''^''' ledgment of his unselfish 
labour. He had simply acted 
as a medium in bringing down to us a treasure 
that lay hidden in the rustic villages of 
Bengal. He did not, like Harinath Majum- 
dar, build a new tale out of the materials of the 
past, nor did he, like Lai Bihari De, give a 

34 



266 rOLK LITEKATUEE 01" iJENGAL 

gist of the stories in another tongue, nor like 
the Mahomeclau writers did he introduce into 
the stories foreign elements divesting them of 
their original elegance ; neither did he like Pakir 
Earn Kavibhusana try to invest the old stories 
with a classical dignity and adorn them with 
borrowed metaphors from Sanskrit. Daksina 
llaiijan is an elegant Avriter of Bengali prose 
and we can well conceive Avhat a control he had 
to exercise on himself in order to shut himself 
up altogether while compiling these stories. But 
a deep love for the rural life inspired him ; and 
merged in his cause he forgot himself altogether 
like all great workers. 

We shall attempt here to reproduce the story 
of Malanchamala, as we find it, in Daksina 
Babu's compilation. As some of the great 
merits of Bengali tales will not be understood 
or recognised until the readers find an opportu- 
nity to be acquainted with this story, I may be 
excused for introducing a full narrative here 
at this fag-end of my lectures. There are many 
stories which may be more or less elegant and 
attractive than this, but it presents the old ideal 
of womanhood in the most striking manner, 
and is typical of the great virtues of the fair sex 
as conceived by the Hindu nation. 



Malanchamala 

The King is childless. 

His Majesty called all the astrologers, all the 
Brahmans and all the hermits 
chlmafa"'' "' '''^'"" of his countrv, and had sacri- 
fices performed by them with a 
view to having a son. At the end of the cere- 
monies, the Sacred Oracle said : 

" Observe fast, O king, for three days and 
three nights. On the fourth day pay a visit to 
your orchard. In it you will find a pair of 
mangoes of golden hue. Break your fast with 
them." 

The Oracle further had it that the fruit on 
the right side should be taken 

The kinK .ets a son. ^^^, ^j^^ ^.^^ ^^^^^ ^^^^^ ^^ ^j^^ j^^^ 

by the queen. 

By the king's order all music in the palace 
was stopped, the royal court remained closed for 
three days. His Majesty shut himself up in his 
room bolting its doors. For three days and nights 
the king observed fast and vigil. On the fourth 
day the favourite horse of his stall, the Paksiraj, 
stood near his door- way. The king took his bath 
and performed the usual religious rites. He bowed 
to the sacred dust of the temples and then rode 
the Paksiraj. Instantly he was in the orchard. 
There was a mango-tree in this orchard that 
had not borne any fruit for three generations ; 



268 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

this tree presented two beautiful mangoes of 
the colour of gold. The king rubbed his eyes 
with his two hands and when he was sure of what 
he saw, promised offerings of sweets to the gods. 

The gold-coloured fruits lay half-hid under 
green leaves, hanging from one stalk. The king 
shot arrows, but the fruits did not fall. He 
pulled them by means of a hook, but still the 
fruits could not be brought down. 

His Majesty said, " How strange ! I am not 
able ! The smaller stalks joining the fruits 
should be kept as tliey are, let son^e of you pluck 
the gold-coloured frnits, if he can." 

The ministers, the architects, the courtiers 
all tried one by one, but failed. The arrows 
were shot, but they flew into an opposite direc- 
tion. They applied hooks, which broke half- 
way ; they tried to climb the tree, but the trunk 
became slippery, and they could not succeed ; 
one broke his arm and another his leg in the 
attempt. With broken limbs they all returned 
and sat crouching in the meadow. 

The king tore olf his pearled necklace and 
threw down his crown. He himself tried to climb 
the tree. The kotwaP was there. He came 
forward and said, " Victory be to the king. One 
who is a master of good qualities himself can 

* The kohml seema to be a police man of the status of an 
Inspector. 



THE kotwal's success 269 

recognise the same in others. If Your Majesty 
permits me, I may try." 

" The elephants and horses are drowned, the 
grasshopper says, " Let me fathom the waters." 

All cried, " Shame" and hissed. 

The king said, " All right, if you succeed, 
there will be a shawl for your reward ; if you 
fail, you will go to the scaffold." 

The kotwal bowed low till his head touched 
the very ground and observed, " If I am to kill 
any living thing, let me try the elephant ; if I 
am to plunder, let it be the royal treasury, 
nothing short." Saying this, he took up a clod 
of earth and muttering some mysterious words, 
threw it at the furits. The fruits fell down 
at the first stroke and rested at the hands 
of the king. All hang down their heads 
in shame. 

The great music instantly sounded in the 
king's palace. The horses neighed in the stall ; 
the queen awoke from her sleep. The king 
threw his own shatvl over the kotwaVs shoulders, 
and riding the Paksiraj returned to his palace. 

But the stalks broke in the way and which 
of the fruits was on the right, and which 
on the left, could not be known. The queen 
ate the one that was on the right, and the king 
the other. 

Some months passed ; the queen became 
enciente. The king was glad beyond measure. 



270 FOLK LiTERA-TURE OP BEN'aAL 

He distributed tlie pearls and jeAvels of his 
necklace amongst his courtiers, and the royal 
treasury was ojiened for charity. 

Ten months passed. By the king's order 
drummers were In'ouglit from the city of drum- 
mers ; tabor-players were brought from the city 
of tabor-players. The great sound of kada, 
nakada, sanai, chakada, mrdanga and other 
musical instruments was heard for ten days, and 
all this time no bird dared to come down on the 
earth for fear. On the night of the tenth day, 
a baby was born in the palace ; the full moon of 
the sky was no match for it. In the natal room 
the baby prince lay surrounded by a halo of 
light. 

The kingdom flourished. The king made 
offerings to God and distributed food amongst 
men and animals.* He had tanks and ponds 
dug in many places, established markets and 
opened roads ; and everywhere his praises were 
sung. 

The sixth night came. The king covered 
his courtvard with canopies, 
,„™LS"n\'e°h,bf l-ringed with golden pendants. 
Three series of lamps burnt, 
fed by butter. There were 101 musical bands, 
they played incessantly. On four sides there 
were made four fire-places. The soldiers, sepoys, 



* This is a Biulclhist or Jain custom. 



DHAKA, TAKA, BIDHATA 271 

sentinels and armed men kept watch in tlie palace 
AAliole night. Paths strewn with fiowers Avere 
opened up to the natal room. Over the posts, 
raised for the occasion, hang garlands of flower ; 
and sandal and vermilion were sprinkled over 
the path. By this path, Dharcl, Tara and 
Bidhata would go to write the luck of the bahy- 
prince on the forehead. 

The sentinels kept watch, and at intervals 
the bands played. The maid-servants and nurses 
lay cross-Avise at the threshold and narrated to 
the queen tales of princes and their lady-loves. 
The queen fell asleep as she heard the nursery 
tales. The flower-Avoman who Avas reciting the 
story, last of all, dozed till she also fell fast 
asleep. The mid-night clock rang and the senti- 
nels Avere feeling sleepy. Dhara, Tara and 
Bidhata chose this hour to visit the natal room 
by the path streAvn Avith flowers, scented Avith 
sandal and reddened Avith vermilion. They 
carried with them bundles of pens. When about 
to enter, they saw a person lying cross-Avise at 
the threshold. The gods liad raised their feet 
but they A\4thheld ; all of them whistled together; 
but the person did not aAvake. Time passed, Avhat 
could they do? They called the three stars of 
the sky to Avitness, and stepped over the sleeping 
person. They noAV entered the natal chamber. 

It was Dhara Avho first held the pen. He 
indicated the learning, intelligence, wealth, 



272 FOLK LITERATrUE OF BENGAL 

number of followers and other fortunes of 
the child by signs. On his palm the signs 
of banner and lotus were marked, and the 
god took notes from them, and wrote details in 
full three hours; all the pens he had brought 
with him were thus exhausted. 

As he finished, next came Tara. He held 
the pen and touched the child's forehead with it, 
but threw away his pen forthwith, and rose up. 
Dhara asked, "What do you find?" Tara turned 
his face and said, "What more ? Let us go, the 
baby-prince's life extends to 12 days only." 
"Only 12 days ? Let me see." 

The baby is to die on -tm _ - i j. i. p i • 

the 12th day. Dhara began to count tor his 

satisfaction ; each time he 
calculated, the same result — 12. Dhara put 
a zero after 12, but the zero mysteriously 
vanished. 

Then Dhara threw away the pen with disgust. 
If the gods wept, the whole world would cry and 
be wretched ; so they hid their tears with the 
edge of their clothes and came out. But at the 
threshold was the flower-woman lying cross-wise. 
They called the three stars to witness and stepped 
over. Dhara succeeded, but Tara's feet touched 
the flower-woman ; she awoke and caught hold 
of the feet of the god. *' Who art thou ? — a god 
— a man — a spirit— or a robber ? The king's dar- 
ling sleeps inside the room and I, the flower- 
woman, keep watch at the threshold. Even Death 



baby's life twelve days 273 

has no power to come here." Tarasaid : "Flower- 
woman, I am the god of luck, leave my feet." 
"God of luck ! Tell me what hast thou written 
on the forehead of the prince ?" The god felt 
troubled, and said : "You need not hear that, 
flower-woman, leave my feet." The flower- 
woman tied, instead, the feet of the god tightly 
with her apron. Then the god let fall the drop 
of tear, that he had hid so long, over her and said : 
" What more shall I say, woman, the prince's life 
will extend to 12 days only." 

" Only 12 days !" the woman burst into loud 
bewailings. The drums suddenly burst ; the 
music stopped ; the sentinel's spear pierced his 
own breast. The queen arose with a start and 
asked " What is the matter ?" The king himself 
came out asking " What is the matter ?" The 
ministers, the courtiers, in fact the whole 
city came out enquiring "what is the matter ? 
what is the matter ?" 

The flower-woman beat her head against a 
stone and cried "How many sacrifices did you 
perform, oh King, and as a result got this child 
bright as the full moon. Not even a fortnight, 
oh King, this moon will vanish after 12 days. 
Oh God, is it just and fair ?" 

The king, his ministers, his courtiers fainted 
in grief. The queen lay as one dead. 

The elephants broke their chains and fled 
from the stall. The horses died in the stable, the 
36 



274 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

Paksiraj, the favourite horse of the king, did not 
touch any food. The kinsmen of the king and the 
Brahmins of the city assembled near the mango 
tree and observed fast, resigning themselves to 
the will of God. Dhara, Tara and Bidhata visited 
the other gods and said, "What justice is this that 
a son born after so many sacrifices and offerings 
to gods will live for 12 days only ? The king's 
country stands on the verge of ruin, and the 
earth is flooded with tears." 

The gods said : " Yea, have things come to 
such a pass ?" Their chief assumed the guise of 
an old Brahmin and came near the mango tree. 
The Brahmin was surrounded by a halo of light. 
'I he citizens approached him and said : " Who are 
you, oh Brahmin ? A light emanates from your 
body ; whoever you be, the prince is going to 
die shortly. This is his fate. Pray, Save him 
if you can." The Brahmin said : "Even the 
sun and the moon fall into the jaws of the Demon 
of Eclipse. Who can alter the divine decree ? 
Yet despair not, I «hall be able to say more 
if I see the child once." The king and the 
ministers took him to the natal room. The 
Brahmin examined the palm, the forehead 
and the face of the child and said : " The 
life of this baby, seven days old, may be 
prolonged if you can get it married to a girl 
who has completed her 12th year t(j-day. 
Adieu" The king placed the richest stones 



A BRIDE OF TWELVE YEARS 275 

and other valuables oi' his treasury at tlie feet of 
the Brahmin. What will a god do with them ? 
He, however, chose a bright diamond and carried 
it with him. On his way he threw^ it towards 
the cottage of the kotwal and then departed. 

The night passed. The flowers bloomed in 
the garden and the birds began their songs. 
Messengers were sent all over the country, 
seeking a princess, just 12 years old, to be the 
bride of the baby prince. The messengers 
returned from far and near and reported that 
not one was found who had completed her 
12th year that day. They all w^ent to the self- 
same mango tree and Avaited observing fast. 

On the other side of the tank facing the tree 
stood Malaiichamala {lit. the 
rieci^otgMofi2'"" garland of the garden), the 
daughter of the kotwal who 
had completed her 12th year that day. She was 
washing the diamond, thrown by the god. She 
had picked it up from her cottage-compound, 
where it had lain, covered with mud and dirt, 
as it had rained only shortly before. She carried 
a pitcher with her and ths cymbals of her feet 
made a merry sound on the landing steps of 
the tank. 

" Who is it whose cymbals sound so 
sweetly — a goddess or a maid ?" wonderingly 
asked all. The musician playing on stringed 
lyre stopped and said "Is it the hum of bees 



276 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

flying near a hive in the flower-garden ?" An- 
other who played on a musical organ, cried " Is 
it the cackle of the merry geese swimming in 
the tank ?" 

"Not so, then what ?" 

The ministers and courtiers came near the 
tank and saw that it was a girl of 12, whose 
cymbals had sounded. 

" A girl of 12 ! whose daughter is she ?" 

She is the kotwaVs daughter. The king fell 
into a mental confusion. The sound of the 
cymbals of her feet is like the humming 
of bees ; flowers bloom in the path which 
she treads ; her arms are like swan's neck ; 
her hair is of wavy curl ; the face is like the 
moon and she looks like an image made of 
gold. But after all, she is the kotwaVs daughter. 
The king was perplexed. The report was carried 
to the queen who said '* If the girl is so hand- 
some, no matter, though she is the kotwaVs 
daughter marry her to the prince and raise the 
kotical to the status of a feudatory chief." 

*' What am I to do ?" asked the king to him- 
self ; he pondered over the matter. Sometimes 
he sat in a pensive mood and then rose up and 
after a good deal of thinking he commanded, — 

" Well, be it so. Send words to the kotwaW 
The report went there forthwith. The kotwal 
put on the sha\vl presented by the king. He 
took a spear in his hand and visited his 



THE CONDITIONS 277 

neighbours. He told them " T phicked the 
iTLiits. The results is that my daughter is 
going to be married to a prince. The king 
will be my brother-in-law now. You must pay 
me nazar^ 

The kofwal made a spacious road in his 
courtyard. The main door of his house, he 
changed into a gate ; he did not know what 
he should do to meet the occasion. The kot- 
wafs wife said " Here we humble people live 
in huts and the sneeze of the king is even heard 
here.* W"e are required to give our daughter 
in marriage to a baby who will die after 
12 days. Tell the king I am not going to 
comply." 

Malanchamala, the daughter said " Pappa 
and Mamma, allow me to go, as it is the king's 
command. But Pappa, go to him and first ask 
if he will agree to my conditions." 

" What conditions r" '" Whether the bride- 
groom will be permitted to visit his father-in-law's 
house ?" The kotwal said " Certainly." Malaii- 
cha said " Another condition, whether my 
father-in-law, the king, and mother-in-law, the 
queen, will agree to partake of the food prepared 
by me ?" ')^\iQ kotwal said "Yes, daughter." "The 
third" she said " is whether they will be pre- 
pared to give me dowries and presents as usual 



* The king would oppress us though we are so humble. 



278 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

on the marriage night." The kotivrd came to 
the palace to meet the king. Meantime Malan- 
chamala said " Mamma, help me to dress my- 
self." What would the kohval's wife do r She 
opened the toilet box and with tears in her eyes 
helped her daughter to dress herself. 

The Jcotival addressed the king thus, "Oh 
thou, King of kings though thou art, yet I 
shall have the privilege of calling thee a 
brother, be it to-day, be it to-morrow. Thou 
wilt accept my daughter but shalt not thou 
allow the prince to go to the house of his 
father-in-law ?" The king glanced at him 
crookedly and brushing his hair with fingers 
said " let the £i:irl first come to 

Malancna s conditions. "-^ 

the palace on the marriage 
night, the question will ,be settled then." 

The kohvcil next asked, " Will Your Majesty 
and the queen eat the meal prepared by my daugh- 
ter ?" The king said " Take care, kotival, these 
matters will be settled on the marriage night." 
But, "Oh king, will not my daughter receive the 
dowries and presents that are usual in marriages?" 
" Look here, kotwal, but stop I say, 1 will 
tell everything, when the girl comes to the 
palace." 

The kotival returned and told all these to 
his daughter. Robed in her best of attires 
she touched the feet of her parents and said 
" Mamma, grant me leave, Pappa, lead me 



THE baby's marriage 279 

now to the palace ; but Pappa, tell the king, if 
my husband dies on the first night of marriage, 
may I be permitted to take away his dead body ?" 
The kotioal went to the king and said as 
instructed. 

Now the king was wrath " Such big words 
from this mean fellow ! This rustic girl has the 
audacity to extort pledges from me in all matters 
and dares worry me again and again ; she crosses 
me beforehand and speaks evil things. Who is 
there ? Put the kofwal to prison and bring his 
daughter here through the air path and get her 
married to the baby-prince." 

It was the king's command. His people 
forthwith went. They tied a palanquin high up 
to the tops of some tall bamboos, and carried 
Malancha by the air path. 

It was a mockery of marriage ; there was no 
present of scents, oil, no fasting and other rites 
usual before marriages. Only one musical pipe 
sounded, and the marriage came to a close. The 
Brahmins recited the mantras-, the new born baby 
cried, the queen came to suckle it and the drum- 
mers tried to stop its crying by beating their 
drums. No flowers, no garlands ; the bride went 
seven times round the baby-prince, and then carry- 
ing him in her arms entered the nuptial room. 
As soon as she came to her apartments, there 
came down an outpour of rain ; the towers of the 
palace broke and the palace itself caught fire ; the 



280 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

baby-prince vomitted milk and died in the arms 
of his wife. There was a great 

The baby dies and i .1. • ii i i.i 

Maiancha's punishment. bewaUuig HI the palacc ; the 
king ran mad and the queen 
fainted. The citizens in bewildered grief came to 
the palace, and waited near the room where 
Malancha lay with the dead prince. The king 
said ''There is no doubt of it, she is a witch, catch 
her by the hair and drive her out of the room. 
Pick out her eyes and burn them." There was 
a great agitation among the crowd. They forced 
open the room. Malancha said to the nurses 
and maid-servants " Ask my father-in-law and 
mother-in-law what will thev do reo-ardins; the 
words they pledged. " " Wliat words ?" " They 
gave assurance that the bridegroom will be per- 
mitted to go to my father's house ; will they 
agree to it now ?" 

" Who is there ? " cried the king, "send the 
kotwal to the regions where the prince has 
gone." A sound indicated that the kotioaVs 
head was struck off. Malancha said " I have 
seen enough, nurses, ask the king and queen 
about the other words that they selemnly gave 
me" '' AVhat are those ?" "Will they not eat the 
meal prepared with my hands ?" " Nurses, 
cut off the hands of the kotwaVs daughter." 
The nurses cut off her hands, with the knife 
that was among the dowries ; blood gushed 
out and flowed past the drain. Malaiicha 



THE PUNISHMENT 281 

saidj "I see it clearly, what about the other 
promises that he had made." " What promises?" 
"Tell the monarch to give me as dowry a milch 
covr, five lights fed with butter, sandal-wood, 
a stove of gold, a spoon of pearls, cups of silver 
and gold, ])illow"s of white mustard seeds, 
hand-made beddings of fine needle-work, silver 
pencil to put the black paint in the eyes. Let 
him not make any enquiries about his son 
and the bride." 

" See how audacious is this daughter of the 
kotwal ! Who is there, break open the doors 
of her room." Then the dowry was offered 
in the following manner; an ass for the cow, 
gravels for sandal-wood, a basket of cane for 
the golden stove, a broken earthen pitcher in 
place of the spoon and cups. And the shells 
of cocoanut fruits were strung together and 
put around her neck. A. basket w^as filled 
with cow-dung and tied behind her back. She 
was made to put on rags and refuse -clothes 
picked up from the cremation ground, and with 
a looking glass in her hand she was made to ride 
the ass, and in this condition was carried 
round the city. Her head was shaven and 
order was passed to banish her, as she 
was a witch. Malanclia said "Ask my father 
in-law and my mother-in-law what about their 
other pledges?" "What are they?" "My 
husband died in the nuptial room. They had 
36 



282 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

promised to make a gift of him to me." "A 

gift ?" "All right, who is there, kindle the funeral 

fire." The fire was prepared, 

On the funeral fire, ii n j iU^,.,. 

the names rose up and there 
was great noise. The dead prince was given to 
Malancha. Her nose and ears were cut off and 
she with the baby was thrown into the fire. 

Then came down a great outpour of rain, 

jham ! jJiam ! Jham ! The fire was nearly 

extinguished. The gobblins and spirits of the 

air came there with hungry looks. The 

Paksiraj horse went mad ; it neighed and came 

there. The king, the ministers and his people 

left the funeral ground and saved themselves by 

shutting the city gate. In the 

midst of the funeral fire, 

Malancha sat with the baby-prince in her lap. 

Malancha asked, " Is my husband dead or 

asleep ?" 

''Dead." 
Malancha again asked, "Is my husband 
dead or asleep ?" 

"Dead." • 
Again the same query "Is my husband dead 
or asleep ?" 

"Asleep." 
She smiled and took up the child in her 
arms and pressed it to her breast. Blood gushed 
forth from her nose and ears that were cut ; 
The gobblins licked them. 



THE APPARATIONS 283 

"Malancha, is it you that are sitting 
there?" 

"Yes." 

"What will you do with such a husband ? 
OfFer us the dead 1)ody." 

"No." 

The wood of the funeral pyre gradually 
became stirred with life ; hands and legs grew 
in them, they walked hop, hop, Jiop. 

"Is it you, Malaficha, that are sitting there?" 

"Look here jVlalancha, so many of us are 
lying in wait for the dead body, give it to 
us." 

"No." 
Sometime passed ; the smoke issuing 
from the funeral pyre took the ^hape of a 
series of grim teeth. Loud laughter came 
all on a sudden. " Malancha, are you still 
sitting there ?" " Yes, what of that?" "Give us 
the dead child, the fire will be extinguished." 
" No, I will not give." "Will you not give ?" 
"No." 

From one side rose an old woman with a 
strange and coarse voice "Malancha, you are 
going to be killed, make over the dead body to 
me." From the other side, an old man sprang up 
with a grimace, "Yon will be killed ere long, 
give me the child and save vourself," The 
crocodiles and sea-fishes came up to the river- 
bank and called out, "Malaficha, make over 



284 FOLK LITEIIA.TURE OF BENGAL 

the child to us, we will appease our hunger 
with it." In the sky the very rains and light- 
nings and the spirits that rove in the air gaped 
open their mouths, sneezed and yawned, exclaim- 
ing "Malancha, give us the tender bones, how 
glad shall we be to eat them up." 

Malancha did not heed all these. She 
clasped the baby close to her breast and sat 
quietly. Days and months passed on ; on the 
sandy shore of the .river a great forest grew 
up. 'i'he brother of the Messenger of Death 
was Kaladuta, his brother was ^aladuta who 
approached Malancha and said, "It is the 
command of the Lord of Death, give up the 
dead body." Malancha replied, "Who are you ? 
Take, if you have the power to do so." Kaladuta 
and Caladuta melted away in the air. There was 
moon-light all around. Next came an exceed- 
ingly pretty girl with a bright complexion and 
lovely intelligent face. Her hands and feet 
were tender. She said, " Is it you Malancha ? 
We were great friends when we were children. 
You seem to have forgotten all. Oh, what is 
it ? Oh God, what a condition ! AVith a dead 
rotten baby in your lap ! Throw it away, throw 
it away." Malancha said, "Who are you that 
profess friendship to me ? Have you no feel- 
ing of a wife for her husband ?" The girl said, 
"Alas Malancha, is this corpse your husband ? 
Make it over to me for a moment and go and 



THE BABY RESTORED TO LIFE 285 

fetch a little water from the river." "There is 
no water in the river." "Oh yes, if there were 
water in the river, things would not come to 
this pass." "Bring some medicinal herb." "There 
is none." "Oh Malancha, look up there, the 
sky is overcast with clouds, the floods come pour- 
ing, arise, dear, here is my hand, place the haby 
in my lap, arise, haste, I say." Malancha 
clasped the baby closer to her breast and said, 
"Be witness, oh gods, here is my baby-husband 
in my lap, if I am chaste and devoted, oh you 
tempter, do but touch me, and you will be reduc- 
ed to ashes ; I am Malancha and none other; you 
are an evil spirit, go hence. Oh thou night, if 
thou dost not pass away, with my baby-hus- 
band in my lap, here do I solemnly say, I will 
transform the stars to fire and flowers to 
stars." The night was frightened and 
passed away trembling ; the dawn peeped into 
the forest-lands. The girl, her friend, said, 
"Malancha, look at the baby." Malancha felt 
that the apparitions were all gone. The baby 
in her lap was gently moving its hands and 
feet, and she seemed to be in the midst of 
a vast expanse of sands. Malancha, intensely 
willing to see the baby, 
ul"' ar/nlfu gradually got her sight; she 

recovers her eyes and ^yeut iu QUCSt of a pitchcr for 
limbs. ^ ^ 

milk. Ready for service she felt 
that her hands grew. She recovered her ears; 



286 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

her nose became what it formally had been ; 
the hair of her head fell in luxuriant curls 
behind her back. Malancha addressed her girl- 
companion and said, "May your husband be 
long-lived. Who are you ? I abused you, look at 
my condition and pardon me." Malancha found 
there a stove of gold, sandal-woods, pillows of 
white mustard seed and spoons made of pearls. 
She made a fire with sandal-wood, warmed the 
milk and put it in a silver cup ; then with the 
spoon made of pearls, she fed the baby ; she 
wiped away the neck and the face of the baby 
with her silken apron ; then on a bed delicately 
wrought with needle, she made the baby 
sleep, resting his head on the pillow. She 
sat with her back towards the sun, and with a 
silver pencil applied the black paint to the baby's 
eyes. 

Thus did she live in the sandy shore with her 
little husband. She fasted all the while. She got 
milk and every thing, and fed the baby. She 
applied the black paint to its eyes, and warmed 
it with her apron. There she sat all the time, 
gazing at the child. The little husband laughed, 
and she smiled ; he cried, and she wept. When 
he began to utter inarticulate words, she gave 
replies ; the little thing moved hands and feet, 
she played with him ; she bathed him with tears, 
wiped away his dust with her hair, warmed him 
with her breast, covered him with the edge of 



SHE MEETS A TIGER 28*7 

her cloth and sat clasping him close to her breast. 
Days and months passed, and 

The nnrsinir. n -i • j i • 

even a year rolled away m this 
way. Malancha had a pitcher of milk which 
was never to be empty. The gods, with mouths, 
pointed like needles, drank off this milk. 
Mcilancha found there ^^as no more milk in 
the pitcher. Carrying the baby-husband in her 
arms, Malancha set out in quest of human 
habitation for coav's milk. 

In that limitless expanse of that alluvial land, 
she walked on and on. If the sun smote the 
baby's face, she covered him with her cloth ; if 
rain fell, she protected him in her bosom ; if dust 
blew, she kept it away by spreading her hair; she 
fanned him with her flowing hair. She went 
one step and then stop2)ed, thus did she proceed 
in her journey. xVt last she reached a dense 
forest. Alas ! where is human 

n ques o iiu . habitation ? Wlicre is milk ? She 
saw, instead, a large tiger ; it approached her 
with a hungry growl. " I am grown old, dear 
maid, I have no strength to go seeking for 
prey, I am almost starved. I must eat this 
baby," it said. "Look here tiger, he is my 
husband, he is so small that if you eat him, your 
hunger will not be appeased, so eat me instead." 
" Is he your husband, child ? With such a one 
you are in a dense forest! I will eat none of 
you ; live here, child, I will be your guard." 



288 FOLK LITEKATUKE OF BENGAL 

Malancha said, '' Uncle, that's good, but how 
can I feed my baby husband ? Where is milk to 
be had ?" " Milk? Yes, you are human beings 
the baby must drink milk. All right let me see, 
if I can secure a cow for you." The tiger went 
aw^ay. Malancha WT.pt and said, " Where are ye, 
oh gods ? The baby is crying for hunger ; if by 
sacrificing my life, one drop of milk I can get, 
I am ready to do so." The tigress appeared at 
this moment with her cubs. She said, " Who art 
thou, child, weeping for milk in this forest ? 
If my milk will do, you can have it from me." 
"Yes, it wdll do." "T^he tiger meantime returned 
and said that he could not procure a cow and 
looking at the tigress exclaimed, "You are here, 
now see, I forgot all about it." Chandramanik 
(the baby prince) w^as suckled by the tigress and 
grew^ up. The tigress and her mate w^re their 
guards Malancha thus lived in that forest ; she 
watched her little husband at every step ; she 
walked keeping pace with him ; she gathered 
flowers and fruits for him ; she sang lullabies to 
make him sleep and played with him when he 
awoke, and thus spent five years. 

With tearful eyes, Malancha one day said, 

" Uncle and aunt, I have to leave this place 

now\" "What word is that? 

In quest of a tutor, -rx i • m n 

Do not say so again, lell us 
what has happened, w^hose neck shall we break ? 
Name the offender ; we will instantly eat him 



THE GARDEN SMILES ONCE MORE 289 

up." " No uncle and aunt, nothing of the 
sort. You do not know it, my husband is 
a prince ; he has just stepped into his fifth- 
year. How can I avoid placing him under a 
tutor." "Is that all? Then make arrangement 
for it at once. There are so many scholars who 
rove here in mornings and evenings, crying out 
' hukka hua '^ ; you have simply to ask for it and 
we shall secure some of those from the forest for 
education of the prince." "No uncle, they 
will not do for us, I am going away ; enquire 
about us now and then, I shall live close to some 
city." Malailcha took leave with tears. The 
tigress and her mate accompanied her till she 
got out of the forest. For four days after her 
departure, the grisly couple of the forest ate 
nothing. The cubs wandered about uncared 
for. 

Malancha proceeded in her journey with 
Chandramanik in her arms. After some days she 
came near a garden, belonging to a flower- woman. 
The tank there was without water and no flower 
had bloomed in it for twelve years ; the garden 
had become a regular forest of thorny plants and 
an abode of snakes. It was a hot day and 
Malancha rested there a while, greatly fatigued. 



* " Hulcka hua " is the familiar word iu Bengali to denote the yell of 
the fox. 

37 



290 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

As she sat there, the bees began to hum and 
bh'ds with coloured wings flew near about her 
in numbers. Each tree became covered with 
green leaves, and each of them had on it a 
creeper laden with flowers. Their fragrance 
drew the attention of the 

cottlge^"'^^'"''^""'''" ' flower-woman, who came out. 
" Por twelve years there has 
been no flovver in my garden, no water in the 
tank, but to-day the garden smiles with flowers, 
and a beautiful lotus has bloomed in that tank. 
It seems there has come a change over my luck. 
What is it that has made the garden so to-day ?" 
As she looked out, she saw that under the shade 
of a Vakul tree on Avhich sat a cuckoo making 
the place resonant with its cooings, there sat a 
goddess with a baby in her lap, bright as the 
moon. The flower-woman approaching her said, 
" What heaven is that of which you are a 
dweller, child ? Your presence makes a desert 
bloom, tell me who you are ?" Malancha said, 
"I am a humble being of the earth, I have sat 
here to rest a while." "Come inside my cot. 
Your face and hands and complexion resemble 
those of my niece who died twelve years ago. All 
this time, I have wept over her untimely death ; is 
it she that has come back to me in the lovely form 
I see before me ?" "I do not know that aunt, I 
have just now come to your garden." "Never 
mind, come to my house." The flower-woman 



IN THE flower-woman's HOUSE 291 

was pleased that she woukl be able to sell flowers 
to the palace every day, a,nd Malaficha felt she 
would be able to get information regarding 
the city from her. Both entered the cottage. 
The flower-woman said, " You look pale, child, 
take "^ome food." Malancha said, "Give me some 
milk if you hav^e it." Malancha fed the child 
and dusted the rojom fixed for her and brought 
some flowers from the garden, which she placed 
around the bed of her little husband. And 
then she told the flower-woman, " Aunt, I do 
not take meal prepared by others, help me to 
get things, I shall cook for myself." The 
flower-woman was pleased and did as she was 
asked. Malancha did not disclose to her that 
the child was her husband. The cottage of the 
flower-woman was a wretched one. Malancha 
said, " It is not a good house, aunt, appoint men 
to build a good one." A new house was built, 
formerly there had been only a single hut in the 
house and now it contained three huts. In one 
she lived with the prince, in another the flower- 
woman and the third had no occupant. Malancha 
asked the flower- woman one day, "Where do 
the students read in the city?" "Why, there 
is a teacher in the palace who has a number of 
scholars in his charge. There is quite a legion 
of them ! There are hunchbacks and frog- voiced 
scholar*!, there are those who have elephantiasis 
and others who are huck-shouidered. Besides 



292 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

there are sons of the king also. Day and 
night, they hum like bees and croak like ravens. 
It is a sight worth seeing — a veritable mart of 
crows and cranes."^ "Then aunt, the prince 
must go there. Get for him inkstand and pens 
and take him to the school." 

Chandramanik goes to school and returns 
with marks of ink all over his face. The room 
that was unoccupied serves now as his reading 
room. Malancha engages the flower- woman 
to help him to bathe, to wash his face marked 
with ink. Malancha cooks the meal and keeps 
it ready and then goes away. The flower- 
woman brings him to the dining place and sits 
by him when he eats. But Malancha no more 
appears before Chandramanik, fearing lest the 
child takes her for his mother. Malancha re- 
mains in her room and from there gazes at her 
little husband with eyes full of love ; but she 
retires when Chandramanik comes to a place 
from which he may see her. Thus passed another 
seven years. 

The name of the king of that country was 
Dudhabaran or ' milk-coloured.' His seven sons 
and the young princess read in that school. 
But the latter makes no progress in her studies. 

1 " C^ ^t^ Ttft^ lf^^ ^^ ^^ ^t^ I f C5f1, ^v^, c^z^, c^M 
W5'^'^\ ^Tt^, ^W^ ^t^*fa ^ ^ '^tCf I fW^ ?t^ tlt%f^ Irf'Tf'fl^, 



THE PLAN OF THE PRINCES 293 

The brothers ask, " How is it, Kilnchi, that 
you make no progress in your studies, though 
you evidently take pains ?" " Look at him, 
brothers, how glorious does he look like the moon- 
beams ; his face, and his forehead have the air of 
a god. They say that he is the son of a gardener. 
I have acquired all the learning that is in the 
four Vedas and eight Puranas by gazing at his 
face. Was ever a human being so handsome?" 
The princes were startled at these words. They all 
said, " We must see that the gardener's son never 
comes to the school again." 

The discovery by the rrii n i i • j. ^i • 

princes. They called him to then' pre- 

sence and said, " Your face and 
hands are spotted with ink ; we shall not allow 
it. If you come to the school with dirty clothes 
to-morrow, we shall hand you over to the public 
executioner." The princes thought, " How can 
the son of a gardener be expected to have clean 
clothes, he will not attend school from to-morrow." 
Chandramanik left his books 
pJn^Sme'^impossiWe ^ud rctumcd homo weeping. 
dramanTk. ^"' "^''"" Malaucha said, " See aunt, why 
is he weeping?" The flower- 
woman — " He tells me there are only a few hours 
of the day and the intervening night, in the 
morning he would be made over to the public 
executioner." " Why ?" The flower-woman 
gave out the history. Malaficha said — " Aunt, 
here is the money, go and get such fine 



294 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

dresses as may even be coveted by a prince." 
Malancha was in possession of immense wealth 
as she haJ got th'^ diamond. The next day the 
princes were sm-prised to see Ghandi:«manik robed 
like a king's son. " Where could the fellow get 
such a splendid dress that even we have not got ?" 
Kanchi said to her seven brothers, " Whac do you 
sav now ? Does a gardener's son look like that ?" 
The princes then addressed Chandramanik and 
said, "You little gardener, you have come with a 
gorgeous dress ! But shame ! with such a dress 
you came walking. If you do not come to-morrow 
in a stately palanquin, we will make you over to 
the executioner." They thought " He may have 
got a gift of the dress, but it will not be possible 
for him to get a stately palanquin, so he will not 
be able to attend school to-morrow." Chandra- 
manik returned home that day also weeping. He 
left aside his dress and threw himself on the 
dusty ground. Malancha asked the flower-woman 
the reason. " There are a few hours of this day 
and the intervening night, after that he will be 
handed over to the executioner." " To-day also 
to be handed over to the executioner, why ?" 
" He dresses himself well but goes walking." 
" Very well take money, bring all the best palan- 
quins available in the city." The flower-woman 
went, but no palanquin-bearer would consent 
even for wages to carry a gardener's son. Malan- 
cha said, " Pay each man ten gold coins." 



THE RACE 295 

So a basketful of gold coins was distributed, 
and the best of the pahinquins were brought. 
There was among them one used by princes and 
noblemen only, with a gold umbrella overhead 
and in this sat Chandramanik, and other palan- 
quins went surrounding it. Men assembled to 
see the procession in the street. The scholars 
sprang to their feet. " Come princes," said 
Kauchi, " See how glorious the school looks to-day ! 
Like a jewel shining in the middle of a gold-string 
he looks. I am your only sister and you are 
seven brothers ; if you do not marry me to 
Chandramanik, I Avill commit suicide." The 
seven brothers found themselves really in a 
puzzling situation. They said, " You gardener's 
son, you have done all, now you must have a 
horse. The horses of us, seven brothers, will be 
at several points within the range of seven and 
a half miles. Your horse will occupy the last 
point. We will apply whip to our horses, if 
you can win the race, well and good, if not, 
you will be handed to the public executioner." 
The princes thought " The gardener's son will 
never be able to ride a horse, as soon as he will 
try to do so, he will fall down and die." Chandra- 
manik was sorrowful again and returned home 
with tears in his eyes. Malancha said, " Aunt, 
see what has happened again." 'I he flower- 
woman gave the account. " All right aunt, here 
is the money. Spend it as need arises. I shall 



296 fol:& literature of bengal 

go in quest of a horse. I will stay out not more 
than three days at any event, but return with the 
horse within the time." 

Malancha went on and on. She passed 
through 13 territories that belonged to 12 Rajas, 
and then came to a city where she saw the palace- 
gate closed and doors of houses all bolted from 
within. The courts did not sit, their doors lay 
closed also. The good luck of the king had left 
him and the city looked like a desert. The Paksi- 
raj, the favourite horse of the king, had run mad; 
it ran wildly and killed every man that walked 
in the city. Malancha, when she heard all these, 
cried out " Where art thou, Oh Paksiraj ? Dost 
thou remember Chandramanik ? " The voice 
reached the horse, and it ran up to her with 
ears erect. It said, " How could you know 
the name of Chandramanik, child, shall I ever 
get him back ?" Malancha said, "Paksiraj, come 
with me then." Malaiicha set out for her place, 
followed by the horse. The citizens were aston- 
ished. " Chandramanik died years ago. She 
names him ; she catches the mad horse ; what 
charmer is she?" They all felt a surprise. 
The queen said, " Who is she ? Go and find her 
out." Malancha sang as she went " king, it is 
the self-same horse which you rode when you went 
in quest of the two fruits. You got a son whom 
you married to kotwaVs daughter, carrying her 
through the air-path. It is she that has come 



SHE RETURNS WITH THE HORSE 297 

back to take away the horse. Only a few 
days still remain to complete twelve years. 
After that you will have the full account, not 
now." And Malancha went away. The king 
said, ** What ? Is it Malancha ? Malancha has 
saved the city from the horse. Malancha has 
caught it. I had her hands and ears cut off and 
punished her in the most cruel manner. Alas ! 
has she come back ? Open your doors, citizens." 
Her mother recognised her, her brothers re- 
cognised her. To-day her ears and nose are fine 
as flower-buds, the fingei;s look like champaka 
flowers ; her eyes have a keen sight, bright 
as the sun or the moon. They all cried out, 
"Malancha, Malaiicha," and ran after her. But 
they could not find her for she had left the city 
with the Paksiraj by that time. The king sent 
messengers in all directions. He invited the 
kotwaVs wife to the palace and entertained her 
with a rich banquet, and the queen herself dined 
with her. Days and nights passed, they anxious- 
ly waited for news about Malancha. 

Now in the city of Dudhabaran, the king, the 
morning conch-shells sounded. The scholars 
rose up and attended their lessons. The words 
of a true woman never fail. She had returned 
with the horse. The flower-woman saw fire 
coming out of the eyes of the animal ; its ears 
were erect, and the sharp hoofs cat the earth that 
trembled under their strokes, The flower-woman 
88 



298 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

said, " What am I to do now, child ?" Malancha 
said, " Take the horse, it is ready." " What 
else you would say, I am ready to do, but 
I venture not to come near that animal." "Don't 
fear, it will not hurt you, aunt." " No child, for 
my life I will not be able to do it." Malaiicha 
hang her head down for a moment ; she wiped 
away the sweat from her brow, and then spread 
a beautiful seat on the back of the horse ; with 
eyes downcast and head drooping low, she helped 
her husband to ride the horse. She then tied 
several knots in the edge of her sadi, and address- 
ing the animal said, " You know what you should 
do ; my husband is a boy, I place him in your 
charge. I will open the knots in the course of the 
day. By the time all be opened you must bring 
him back to me." At this moment she held up the 
reins so that her husband might catch them, and 
took the opportunity of seeing his face for a 
moment. On the plea of dusting his shoes, she 
bowed down to his feet. Chandramanik said, 
" Who are you ? You are always near about 
me, but do not speak to me. You cook my meal 
but do not serve me. I have seen your hands 
and feet to-day, you have to-day looked at my face 
and touched my feet. Who are you to me ?" 
" Who ? You ask me, I am the daughter of the 
kotioaiy She hid her face with her hair on 
the pretext of arranging them, stopped a liitle 
and then in haste drew out a thread from her 



THE PRINCE WINS 299 

cloth and put it round the neck of the horse and 
let it go. The Paksiraj ran as if flying in the 
air. Mjilancha threw herself down on the hare 
ground near the tank in grief. 

In the school the princes were surprised to see 
the horse. *' It is of the Paksiraj -species, we 
have not got such a horse in our stahle ; where 
could the gardener's son get it ?" Like the 
young one of a hird feeling its wings just grown, 
the horse hrooked no delay. Chandramanik 
held the reins tightly. The horse's hody moved 
like a wave, its four feet struck the earth in 
impatience. The princes were at their wit's end. 
They spoke hetween themselves, " As we have 
given word, we must be ready for the race. Even 
if he wins, the kingdom is ours, who will prevent 
us from sending him to the scaffold ?" They cried 
out, " Ho, gardener's son, if you go ahead of us, 
we will put you to death. You must be seven 
and a half miles behind." This really was the 
arrangement. Each rider was ahead of the next 
by a mile and the last of all was Chandramanik. 
He called out, " Have you commenced the race, 
or have you not ?" No reply. They had set out 
long before. Now Chandramanik started. The 
Paksiraj flew through the air, and went ahead of 
the others in no time. The princes exclaimed, 
" No. The race is not yet won, it is only the 
east, now come to the north." Chadramanik 
only smiled and beat them in the north. In the 



3(30 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

west also he beat them and he ■won also in the 
south. The princes said, "We are satisfied. 
Your horse is a very fine one ; now the people of 
the palace will like to see it. So let us return." 
" Yes, be it so," said Chandramanik and applied 
his whip to the Paksiraj. The 

Winner of the race. . , . «• it ii j 

stroke tore orr the thread 
Malaiicha had tied round the neck of the horse. 
The thread was wrought by all the virtues she had 
acquired in her past lives, it was charmed by her 
tears. It fell in the earth's dust — uncared for. 
Paksiraj drew a heavy breath, and then set off. 
It stopped near the gate of the palace, and all 
voices cried, " Who is it that has won the garland 
of victory ?" On the golden tower of the palace 
where lay the golden cup, sat Kanchi, the princess, 
who herself looked like a statue of gold. Prom 
that height she observed Chandramanik coming, 
and flung down the garland she had woven ; 
the garland touched the head-dress of Chandra- 
manik and then hang on his neck.^ The multi- 
tude cried, " What is it ? What is it ?" But the 
princess had given her garland to Chandramanik 
and this implied marriage and there was no help. 
All became silent. The seven princes came, and 
with outward cordiality escorted Chandramanik 
to the court of the king. The king called his 
councillors and said, " Does our law permit that 

' The present of a flower-garland to a man implied his election by a 
woman as her bridegroom. 



MALAKCHA GETS THE REPORT 30i 

the king's daughter should marry a gardener's 
son ?" They said, " It may be 

Marries and is 'n J.^ i » 

imprisoned. §0, it the gardener s son re- 

mains in prison for 12 years." 
There was no alternative left. The marriage 
took place. For three days and three nights 
there were great amusements in the palace. On 
the fourth day, the seven princes put a chain 
round Chandramanik's neck and led him to the 
prison and there left him. 

Now the Paksiraj came back where Malancha 
lay on the bank of the tank. She was on the 
dusty ground and saying to herself, "Alas! why 
did I not let him know who I am ! Why did I 
not tell him when he asked it ?" Then she 
saw before her the Paksiraj. She asked, " What 
is it Paksiraj, where is my husband ?" Malan- 
cha's eyes became fiery. She rose from her dusty 
bed, " Alas, what do I see ? what have I done ?" 
She threw herself on the ground in grief.^ The 
Paksiraj said, " What should I say to you, child ? 
On the tower of the palace there sat the princess 
with a garland in her hand, that garland has 
drawn your sweet husband to the palace." As 
she heard this she rose up, but did not weep.^ 

^ She felt misgivings as regards Chandramanik's life, not seeing 
him on the horse-back ; she regretted having sent him for the race. 

" Mark the change of emotions in her. There had been a presenti- 
ment of something wrong having befallen her husband, but now she was 
asiured that he was safe and happy. Her own happiness was lost for 
eT«r, but she did not care for her personal gorrown. 



302 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

She said, " Paksiraj, it is all right now ! My 
mission in bringing up my husband for 
these 12 years is fulfilled to-day. To-day 
the 12th year is complete. Paksiraj, I have 
given you trouble, pardon all, and remember 
me the fortunate^ one. I will give you a 
letter. Please give it to my father-in-law, 
the king. Then Malancha, wrote thus : " Oh 
king, my father-in-law, the life of the prince 
was to close on the 12th day. Twelve years are 
now complete. If you come to the palace of the 
king Dudhabaran, you will find there the prince, 
your son. The princess there is an expert 
weaver of garlands. He has married her and all 
his trouble is over. When this letter will reach 
you, Oh great king, my father-in-law, dip your 
toes for a moment in the water of the tank where 
you first saw me, recollecting me — the kotivaVs 
daughter." She gave the letter to the horse. 
She gave it some grass and water and then bade 
adieu. With her clothes soiled with dust, with 
dusty feet, she returned not by the roundabout 
garden-path by which she had been used to go, 
but by the road facing the cottage, which she had 



» The word ' fortunate ' has a significance. The mission of her 
whole existence was to see him happy. That mission was now fulfilled. 
She was not swayed by any personal consideration. She called herself 
fortunate, because her husband was now happy in every respect ; fo a 
parallel passage one may quote Chandi DJis's familiar lines, " ^tfl f»lBr 

^«i 5:<t f^i ^1 «itf^ I c^tita ^^ ^»t^ Itfj? I" 



HOMEWARD, TO DIE 303 

not trodden before.^ She arranged all her 
things and made them over to the flower- woman, 
saying, " Aunt, I did not disclose to you 
all this time, but I do so to-day. He whom 
I brought up all these years is my husband. 
All that I have, I give to you. Do not 
remember my faults, dear aunt, I shall bear 
the burden of my debt of gratitude to you for 
the rest of my life. Aunt, I have come to bid 
adieu to you." The flower- woman saw every- 
thing dark before her eyes and almost fainted. 
And Malancha went away from her presence 
and set out for her own city, in order to drown 
herself in the tank of her 
herlir''^''*"'^'""'" father's house. "In the tank 
near which I got the diamond, 
in the city where I lost my father, will all 
my griefs come to an end. How happy 
is the princess Kanchi in the arms of her 
husband ! How happy shall I be to-day drown- 
ing myself in the beautiful water of the 
tank ! " Malancha thought, " What fault can I 
find in my husband ? He wanted to know who I 
am, I never told him that he was my husband ! " 
Malancha followed her course. The flower- 
woman's garden was left behind — the big and 
small tanks were left behind. In that path 



' She did not appear before Chandramanik when he was grown-up 
lest he called her mother ; this was the reason for her avoiding the main 
road to the cottage. 



304 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

neither any human being nor any animal 
was to be seen. Proceeding still further, she 
met the tiger and the tigress. Malancha said, 
addressing them, " Aunt, eat me up, uncle, eat 
me up ; " ^she turned to the cubs now grown 
to full vigour, and said, " Ye are my brothers, 
eat me up." " Oh child, here are you again, 
tell us where had you been all this time." 
" In the garden of a flower- woman." " Where 
is he whom you carried in your arms and 
whom we nourished with our milk, where is 
that darling child of ours— Chandramanik ? " 
" The princess of that country has given 
him her garland. Aunt and uncle, what day 
can be more happy to me than now ? Eat 
me up to-day." The tiger and the tigress heard 
the whole story from Malancha and sat crouching 
near her, " Child, then it is not the marriage- 
garland, it is the prisoner's chain." " Prisoner's 
chain, why ? " " If a gardener's son marries the 
daughter of a king he shall be subjected to a 
penalty of 12 years' imprisonment. This is the 
custom of the land." Malancha bit her lips and 
firmly stood up.^ The tiger said, "Take this glue 
from our head and put it on yours. Now let us all 
go to the city." Malancha said nothing, as soon 
as she applied the glue to her hair, she became 



» She had thought that there was nothing more in the world, for 
which Bhe would care to live ! But there was a complete change in 
her attitude. She was resolved to rescue her husband from danger, 



THE FLOWEll-WOMAN RUNS MAD 305 

invisible to others. The tiger and the tigress 
with their whole flock started for the city of 
Dudhabaran. 

Meantime the Paksiraj returned to its own 
city. It carried the letter to the king. When 
it came up to the palace-gate, the whole 
city was frightened. The king and the queen 
trembled, fearing that the horse must have 
killed Malailcha and come back. The Paksiraj 
said, " No cause of fear. Your Majesty may 
read this letter." ''If it is a letter, let it be 
carried to me by means of a hook from a safe 
distance." The king read the contents and 
became greatly elated with joy. He said, " I have 
got my Ghandramanik again." " Where is he ? " 
cried all. " In the kingdom of Dudhabaran." 
The king called back all the messengers that he 
had sent in quest of Malailcha ; he called all his 
army and sent them out in four divisions, viz., to 
the east, west, north and south, in quest of the 
capital of Dudhabaran. The king after much 
search arrived at a place where a mad flower- 
woman was found to tear off flowers by her 
fingers, break small twigs and branches, pelt 
clods of earth into a tank and cry " Oh my 
niece, Oh my darling boy." 

Song. 

" My darling Ghandramanik is in chains. 
The chaste wife, my niece, has gone away to 
the ■ forest losing her husband. Here in this 
39 



306 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

tank, my niece, used to bathe every morn and 
eve ; here by this path she used to come to the 
cot with her pitcher filled with water. Chandra- 
manik, my darling, used to sit and read here ; 
and there on that couch he used to sleep." 

The king said, " It is all right. Stop 
and pitch our tents here." The king sent 
a letter to Dudhabaran to the following 
effect. " King Chandra of Chandrapur sends 
this letter to Your Majesty. Is my son in 
your palace ? Hear, Oh Dudhabaran, give me 
the right information, where have you kept my 
son and how is he doing in the palace. 
Chandramanik is the name of my son ; he used 
to read in the school attached to your palace. 
Is it true that your daughter has given her 
garland to my son ? If you wish everything 
well, give back my son to me and take away his 
chains, and also send to my camp my datighter- 
in-law who belongs to our family now." 

Dudhabaran said in reply, "If he is your 
son, come and fight. If you be the victor, take 
him by force." The king gave order to attack 
Dudhabaran's capital, and him- 
plilstlfiner""" self led the expedition. Dudha- 
baran's army was stronger, 
so he could not succeed in his attempts and 
became a prisoner himself. 

The day passed and the night approached. 
Made invisible to others by the charm given 



CHANDRAMANIK ESCAPES 307 

by the tiger, Malanclia went inside the prison- 
room where her husband lay. He was reduced 
to half his normal weight. There under the 
heavy chain he lay in the dust. Malancha wiped 

away her tears and went near 
tei'^nrtt "'Lt him. She had nothing with 

her. She took up the iron 
chain and applied all her might to break it by 
her teeth. Was it possible to do so ? In full three 
hours she broke one of the four folds of the chain 
the attempt costing her eight teeth ; thus losing 
all her teeth towards the end of the night, she 
broke the four-fold chain. The chain broke and 
fell down with a sound. Blood streamed forth 
from her gums ; she smiled in her triumph but 
fainted. 

Chandramanik now awoke from his sleep ; he 
did not notice Malancha lying there in an 
unconscious state. He, however, found that the 
chain was broken. A tigress had suckled him ; so 
his strength was great, he rose up and broke open 
the door and came out. Chandramanik was sur- 
rounded by a halo of light, and it took the tiger- 
and the tigress no time to recognise him. They 
said to their companions, " Now we have got our 
Manik; let us go and eat up the inmates of Dudha- 

baran's palace." The tigers 
tiJ?tigeTs°' ™'''^' ^^ in great number came and 

attacked the palace. They killed 
the horses and elephants, the domestic animals 



308 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

and men, and made a feast with them. They ate 
up Dudhabaran and his seven sons, they all 
growled setting up a terrible roar and went in 
quest of Dudhal)aran's daughter — the princess 
Kanchi. Now Malancha had come back to her 
senses, she ran like a mad girl towards the tigers. 
" What are you doing, Oh uncle, you have indeed 
done a great evil; you have left no one to 
light the evening-lamp in this great palace. 
Don't eat my husband's father-in-law, his mother- 
in-law and their sons. Don't eat the princess 
Kanchi, the treasure of my husband's heart." The 
tiger said, " Alas, what have we done ? We have 
eaten the king, the queen and their sons and 
followers ! we have been greedily pursuing the 
princess. You forbid us to do so." Malancha beat 
her head against a stone and said, " Don't do so, 
if you are still hungry, eat me." Malaiicha 
approached them and the tigers left the princess 
and said, " We have had a sumptuous feast, we 
are now very thirsty." Malaiicha brought some 
pitchers and went to the tank to fetch water. 

Dudhabaran's city was thus depopulated 
by the tigers. The captive king now came 
out, and Chandramanik was in the midst of 
his own men. The king ordered drums to be 
sounded, and with his son and the new bride 
marched towards his own capital. On his way 
he descended the landing steps of a tank to 
wash his face and hands. Mfllaiicha was filling 



THE CRUEL FATHEE-IN-LAW 309 

her pitcher with water at the time. She placed 
two pitchers filled with water on the left of the 
king, put two blades of green grass over them 
and then bowed to him. The king said, " Who 
are you ?" Malancha's reply : 

Song. 

" What a good fortune to-day ! Miserable as 
I am all my life, I have seen the feet of my 
father-in-law after 12 years. You are now 
going to your palace. A woman's highest 
heaven is her father-in-law's home. I have 
been denied the good fortune of getting a place 
there. Oh my father-in-law ! what consolation 
have you to offer me ?" 

The king exclaimed, " Here is that kotioaVs 

daughter again ! I shall have nothiug to do with 

her. No more, my men. Do 

The case of l-uhvnVs . , i i ■ i x 

daughter is out of the ^ot tarry hcrc, but proceed ; I 
*i'^®®*^'°"' have got a princess for my 

daughter-in-law. The case of the kotwal's 
daughter is out of the question now." His 
counsellors said, " 8he saved us by putting 
the paksiraj in check." "What of that?" 
" Your Majesty knows it is she that had set the 
tigers against Dudhabaran's city." 

"What of that?" 

" Your Majesty, it is she to whom the 
prince owes his life." 

" Now listen to me, my men. If you 
speak a good deal, you will die ; this will bo 



310 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

my sentence. Whatever she may have done, she 
is a kotwars daughter. Whoever has heard 
that a heggar became a queen ? If she wants 
audience, tell her to approach me in true dignity 
worthy of a king's daughter-in-law in stately 
conveyances." 

Malancha gave water to the thirsty tigers 
and borrowed money to secure state-palanquins. 
She now set out in a right royal palanquin 
attended by the tigers. The old tiger stood in 
the king's presence and said, " She has now come 
here in a way worthy of the palace, accept her 
and take her with you." The king's reply was 
a shower of sharp arrows. The tigers said, "How 
can we, Oh Malancha, bear this ? Permit us by 
a mere word, and we will eat up this army ; 
we will eat up the princess — the new bride and 
give you your own Chandramanik." 

" Say not so, uncle ; before you eat up my 
father-in-law's army, eat me, I pray. 

Song. 

" I will dust the path for my father-in-law 

with my hair. I will go by the thorny path, but 

still accompany him. Uncle 

The unflinchiiig devo- ^-^g^,^ ^^^^ tigrcss, do uot take 

offence, but leave me." 

They, however, did not leave her. The king 
went with his army by the royal road and she 



SHE IS TURNED OUT 311 

followed him close by the thorny path.' And the 
tiger with his flock accompanied her. The king 
entered the palace with the prince and the new 
bride, to the sound of the drums and other music. 
But she remained at the gate in grief, and the 
tigers also remained there, because they would 
not go away leaving her in her destitution. Por 
seven days she was there. She wept and sang. 

Song. 

"This is my father-in-law's place — my 
heaven. To me the place is sacred, for here did 
I get my husband, here was J married ; this 
house of my father-i i-law appears to me more 
precious than a house of gold." 

" I must stay here, uncle tiger, leave me 
here." But the grisly uncle said, " Say even 
now, we will eat up tlie king and the new bride 
and restore you to your Chandramanik." " How 
could you say such cruel words ? Why not eat 
me up ? Even if I be here as a servant of the 
cowshed in charge of the cow dung, I shall pre- 
fer such a life and dwell here for ages. Uncle 
and aunt, I bow down to your feet, leave me now 
and go." They said, " Now what to do, she will 
not in any case take our advice. Let us depart 
for a time." When they went away, the king 
felt greatly relieved. " She sheds tears at my 
gate, what an inauspicious thing! Drive her 

' As the king would not allow her to go by the main road by 
which he passed, she had to choose the thorny path lying in the 
jungles. 



312 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

away." By the king's command, they not only 
drove away Malaiicha, hut also her mother from 
the palace. 

The mother and the daughter wandered about 
weeping. The mother said, " What is the good 
of leading such a life? No more, let us drown our- 
selves." And she drowned herself in a tank. 
Before she had done so, Malancha wept and sang : 

" Oh mother, do not die, leaving me 
heli^less. I venture not to drown myself as my 
hopes are unfulfilled. I am not allowed to see 
my father-in-law's face, nor of Chandramanik 
once before my death ! Wretched woman, as I 
am, how can I die now ?" 

But forlorn by all, she could not bear her 
lot, and went to drown herself. But whatever 
tank she chose for the purpose, she found filled 
with thorny plants or Avith earth, or watched 
over on four sides by guards, appointed by the 
king. Malancha kncAv not if she should be 
sorry or happy at this. " My father-in-law will 
not permit me even to unload the burden of my 
sorrow ! Let him however do as he likes. Whom 
else have I in this world even to give me pain ?" 

At the interval of every three hours in 

the night, the drums sounded in the palace. 

Malancha went to the palace at 

In the nuptial room. that opportunity SO that the 

sound of her footsteps was not 

heard. • She advanced slowly, step by step, and 



THE co-wife's prayers 313 

reached the room where the prince and the new 
hride lay. Slowly did she open the doors ; the 
beauty of the full moon burst to her sight ! Kight 
lamps burnt fed by butter, — the room was fully lit 
up and bright ; on a golden couch with beddings 
fringed with gold over it, slept the prince and the 
bride — like two flowers of a mooa-lit night 
soundly did they sleep. Malaiicha stood at the 
door awhile and saw the sight ; — she came in and 
saw, — she brightened the lamp and saw,— she 
came near them, stood near their pilloAvs, near 
their feet, and beheld them for the rest of the 
night, yet her eyes did not feel a satiety, " Oh 
God, did you give to such a prince the wretched 
kotwaVs daughter ! " As Malancha saw the 
pair, her unbraided hair fell profusely behind 
her back, the flower-buds on the bed bloomed at 
her breath, ber tears of gladness fell there like 
pearls. The crowing of the crows indicated the 
morning. jVIalaiicha rose up and from the 
sacred plate took a few blades of grass and some 
grains of rice, and she tore off two hairs from 
her head — with these she blessed the new bride 
and then put them at the feet of her husband 
and sang : — 

Song. 

" Be happy, Oh prince, be happy. Oh princess, 
" Be it so, if the prayers of a devoted woman, 
are ever fulfilled. 
40 



814 POLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

" May the candles that are lit up here 
brighten this house for generations to come and 
the royal umbrella of this house may remain 
unfurled for all future time ! 

" Oh forests, Oh trees, Oh land, Oh water, 
keep guard over this house. 

" May the tower of this palace ever remain 
high and unconquerable. 

" May the sun and the moon with their golden 
rays brighten the ever glorious pinnacle of this 
royal home for long ages. 

" May the house of my father-in-law and the 
throne of my husband be ever preserved as the 
seat of power and victory in this land. 

" May the princess be happy and prosperous 
with her husband through long years ; I seek 
this boon. 

I have brought him up with great pains; 
a sight like this immensely pleases me. What- 
ever may befall my lot — whether I am reduced 
to dust or water or transformed into a bird 
or a lower animal no matter, a sight like this 
will ever delight mine eyes !" 

Every night Malaiicha stole into the room in 
this manner. Three nights passed, and on the 
fourth, Malancha was singing her song in a hum- 
ming tone, but suddenly the prince awoke; he rose 
up and said, " What is this ? Who are you that 
sing in this way in our nuptial room?" Malancha 
said in a low voice, " One who has a right to enter 
here. I have disturbed your sleep, prince, pardon 



SHE IS CAUGHT 316 

me— do not take offence, I am a servant of this 
palace. You have no reason to fear, sleep prince 
as you were domg, I depart." " A servant ? 
Tell me the truth, or else look here at this sword 
of mine. 

Song. 

" A servant ? But that can never be. It 
is the same face that I saw in the garden-path 
of the flower-woman's house. If a servant, 
why is it that through my body passes a thrill 
of delight and there is an ebb and flow in my 
blood ? I recollect as if I was brought up by 
those tender hands of yours. You a servant? 
Tell so to one who does not know you. I know 
you, but tell me to-day who are you to me.'' 

*' Prince, through yonder window see the first 
streak of dawn's light. I cannot say anything 
to-day, I cannot stay." As Malancha turned her 
steps Ohandramanik held her fast by the edge of 
her sMi. "No, I will not allow you to go if you 
do not say that." Malancha bent her head 
down and said, " Prince you do me wrong." 

"What?" 
The guards came up there, the sentinels 
hurried, the king himself came. " Who is it 
that has entered the nuptial room of the prince ? 
Whose footprints do we see in the path ? '* On 
other days Malancha took care to wipe away her 
footprints when she returned. To-day they 
are detected. All came close to the nuptial 



816 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAX 

room. They saw a strange light, they could 
not bear to look at it. The king hid his 
eyes from the dazzling light with his hands 
and said, "Who are you? " The prince replied, 
" Pather, it is the kotioaVs daughter'." ''KotwaVs 
daughter ?" The prince said, 

She is turned out. ..^f, "^ , . , , i. i. j 

"If she is to he treated 
so, because she is IcotwaVs daughter, who 
will deserve a better treatment ? " " Son, tell 
her not to tread this compound any more, let 
her go away by the path by which she came." 
Malancha could not say what she had to say. 
She went away by the path by which she had 
entered. 

Thus did Malancha depart from the palace. 
From that time evil befell the city. The high 
towers fell, the triumphal arch broke and many 
disasters overtook the palace. Twelve years 
passed in this way. Seven children were born to 
the prince and all of them died. The king said, 
" It is all the work of that witch." Seven or 
eight days passed after he had said so. One day 
as the king was passing by the main road, he saw 
the soft flowers blooming on each side ; at every 
halting station the sound of the musical pipe 
sanai was heard. He looked at the tower of 
his palace, it seemed to be restored to its former 
condition. His seven grandchildren came back 
from the regions of death and stood around 
him. The king wonderingly asked, "What 



THE BLESSINGS 317 

is this ? " '^I'ljc prince said, "II is all the work 
of the koiwaVs daughter. She can break and 
rebuild."' "Ealse," exclaimed the king, "if she 
could restore the dead to life, she would make 
her dead parents alive again, first of all." The 
king entered the court. The loiical came up 
to him to his astonishment and said, " Hail Your 
Majesty, the king of kings." The queen was 
in her appartmcnts, the kolwaVs Avife came 
up and accosted her thus, "We lived together for 
many years, I have come to see you, sister." 
The king said, " Tt is all very puzzling, I do not 
understand what all these mean ; I must clear 
up my l)rain in free air, and go a-hunting in the 
forest." The king lost his way, and his atten- 
• dants were devoured by tigers. He wandered 
about losing? his wav, and suffered ojrcatlv from 
thirst. There, b}^ the side of a tank, the water of 
which was dried up, he saw a 
For the first tiiiie bcautiful dauiscl with a pitcher 

she hears sweet woids . , ^, , . ., .,-rn 

from her father-in-hnv. HI hcr arms. The king said, "It 
there is water in your pitcher, 
child, will you save my life by giving me a 
little?" The beautiful damsel said, "There 
is milk in my pitcher, no water." "Milk? 
But milk does not satisfy thirst, can't you give 
me a little water ? " The damsel smiled and 
gave the king sufficient water from her pitcher. 
The king was very pleased and said, " Whoever 
you may be, child, may you adorn your 



318 FOLK LITEKATUllE OF BENGAL 

father-in-law's home, and as you have made me 
liappy by g'ivinf>' me drinking water, may you he 
happy all your life." Her pitcher she placed on 
the ground and reverentially bowed to the king's 
feet and sang. 

Soiifj 

" T am made ha])py, oh my father-in-law, oil 
my king, ha])]iy beyond what I can express. Fov- 
tunate am I to-day, for the first time I have 
heard sweet words from your lips. If I die 
to-day I shall die in happiness, oh father, alloAv 
me to touch the dust of your feet." 

"Who child ? You the daughter of the lof- 
loal ! Are you Malancha? " Thrice did the king 
touch the ground with his hands and touch 
his head again. He said, "Come now child, 
come to the palace." M<ilahcha sang. 

^0}ty 

" This forest plain is my home now, for you 
have sweetly addressed me here. This place is 
heaven to me. I have got what I had wanted, 
and I care not for life in the palace now. Here 
on this earth, made sacred by your shoe-dust, 
shall I build a cottage and live for ever." 

The king's eyes 1)ecame filled with tears. 
" Child, I have given you nmch pain without 
knowing your virtues ; pardon me and come to 
my palace." Malancha replied : — 



A GRAND KECEPTION 319 

Soucj 

" I liavc heard yon address me sweetly in 
tliis forest, how can I leave this dear forest, 
father ! But T shall go, not now, but a few 
days hence." 

The king said, " Why should you stay here ? 
The kingdom is yours, pardon me and come to 
my palace." " What do you say, father, about 
pardoning r It is not right for me to hear such 
words from you, revered sir." She bowed at the 
feet of the king and said, '* Tather, I shall go to 
the palace after a few days, meantime I shall 
enquire about my uncle and aunt, and about the 
flower-woman Avhom also I call aunt." The kinc; 
said, " Allow me then to go back. I shall mean- 
while prepare roads, dig tanks and make other 
prepai'ations for receiving your uncle and aunt 
with their train." 

The kin«^ returned to his citv. He distribut- 
iveparation for re- cd his treasurc auiougst his 

cention. i i i i 

people, opened roads, dug 
tanks and set up camps everywhere. On 
both sides of the roads he placed heaps of cowries 
for distribution amongst the poor, while the 
roads themselves Avere reddened by vermilion. 

'Jlie musical bands played, and he himself 
with his seven grandsons and the citizens 
w^aited at the gate to receive Mcllancha. 



320 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

Meantime Malancha went to the forest, and 
saw the tiger and the tigress wild witli grief for 
her. She took them Avitli her. She went to tlie 
cottasre of the flower-woman. She found her 
beating her head against a stone for grief. 
McThincha wiped away her tears Avith her own 
hand. She went to the paUice of the king 
Dudliabaraii. It was desohite, there was none 
there to kindle the even ing-hxmp— no heir to the 
vast kingdom. She wept as she saw all these. 
On the night of the full moon, she tore olf a few 
shreds from her own clothes and kindled eight 
lamps Avith them. She kept them burning with 
butter. She took her seat in the great hall in 
the middle of the palace and 

She restores the J- 

dead to life. g^^t iu the attitude of yoga. 

'J'hree days and nights passed and the doors of 
the palace suddenly opened. All its inmates, 
devoured by the tigers came to life. Millahcha 
took with her the king Dndhabarai}, the seven 
princes and the rest. She paid olf the money 
she had borrowed for getting palanquins and 
couches. In the way the attendants of her 
father-in-law, destroyed by the tigers, Avere res- 
tored to life as she sprinkled over them the oil 
of the eight charmed lamps. What a great 
uproar of men arose there ! When she Avas at 
a distance of seven days' journey from her 
father-in-law's palace, they could know that it 
was Malaiicha cominjj- with her hosts. 



mala^cjta's kkcepttox 821 

As MalanchH appronc^hod tlH,' palace-(?Hte, tho 
drums of the royal hand announced her arrival 
triumphantly. It seemed as if the vei'y Avaters 
of the tanks danced for joy; tlie lotuses ])loonu'd ; 
the armed soldiers, sentinels and guards, the 
ministers, the courtiers, in fact all the citiz(Mis, 
the king and the queen themselves cried out in 
exultation. For Malaficha, the true hride, had 
come to her father-indaw's house. 

She entered the palace, the hot wed and his 
wife also came there. Dhara, Tara, Bidhata, and 
other gods appeared ahove to witness this happy 
event. Her parents, her father-in-law, mother- 
in-law and all kinsmeu approached her. Some 
placed hlades of grass over her head in order to 
hless lier, others touched the dust of her feet 
with reverence. Tlie whole palace was tilled with 
joyous sounds. The FalsiraJ came and said to 
the king, ^' Your Majesty, I have restored to life 
all whom I killed during the last twelve years." 

The king passed the mandate, " Beat the 
royal drums in honour of Malaiichamala." The 
order was instantly carried out. 

Malancha came to Kanchl, the princess, and 

said, " Sister, weave a Mower-garland to-day." 

Kjlnchl wove a garland. Malancha took that 

garland and hung it round the 

inakiiis the co-wife ucck of Cliandramanik. Slic licld 

queen. Kanchl to her bosom and kissed 

her. Eor seven days and nights the palace was lost 
4.1 



322 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

in joy. '["lie poor people ate Initter and other 
preparations of milk to their heart's content. The 
tigers devoured the armies of those monarchs who 
were enemies of our king, hut they returned to 
liis capital to satisfy their thirst with water. 
They were given golden couches to sleep on. 

The king emhraced the kotiral calling him a 
friend and l)rother, and made him a feudatory 
chief. He received the tigers kindly. They 
expressed high gratification at His Majesty's 
hehaviour, while hidding adieu to him. The 
flower-woman did not go hack to her home 
hut lived in that city and made a garden 
there for herself. Dudhaharan, the king, Avas 
immensely happy and after a stay of a few days 
there returned to his own capital. 

Malailcha made Kanchi chief queen, hut the 
people installed Malaficha in their hearts and 
called her the goddess of the palace. Heaven 
hlessed them all. All men, birds and beasts and 
even insects were happy. 

Then did the rays of the sun and the beams 
of the moon fall on the high towers of the palace 
causing them to glitter, as it wore, with gold. 
The king, the prince Chandramanik and His 
IMajesty's grand-children built a road decorated 
with gold and precious stones leading to the spot 
Avhere stood the mango-tree and the koiicaVs 
house. They lived for long years and flourished. 



A REVIEW 



We have given here a rather long story. As 
I have already said, the story as translated 
seems to be but a meagre reproduction of the 
original. The tenderness of the Bengali style, 
used by women, its exquisite grace and sugges- 
tiveness are lost in the translation, and reading 
it side by side with the original, I find it dull, 
uninteresting and even verging on the grotesque. 
But it will not be fair to judge the original 
story by this translation. 

There are other stories which are replete 
with amusing events and romance of love- 
stories that will excite the curiosity of the 
young and catch their fancy, but this story 
is very singular from several points of view. 
It brings forward vividly the Indian conception 
of the ideal womanhood in a^ most striking 
manner. 

Malaiichamala is not to be classed with any 
other heroine of any other Indian tale or poem. 
Behula alone in our vernacular literature ap- 

Malancha's idenl proachcs llCr in poiut of dcVO- 

character. ^j^^^ ^^ j^^^, |^^,^| ^^^ -^^^^^ ^ 

family-likeness to her. But Malaiicha's virtues 
are of such high order and brought out in 



324 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

such a charming colour of rural simplicity and 
devotion that other heroines should be placed in 
more or less distance from this towering charac- 
ter. Like a diamond discovered in a Golconda 
coal-mine, she has been one of our richest finds, 
lying ignored in the unwritten and despised 
patois of this province. The heroines of our 
classics no doubt are glorious for their great 
sufferings and devotion, but where is one like 
Malahcha who has taken the load of all possible 
sorrows on her head, silently — without a word ? 
Like a rose or lotus — the sport of wind — the food 
of worms — the plaything of a child, exposed to 
all evils imaginable, she is Heaven's gift and the 
heavenly smile never fades from her lips, the 
heavenly forbearance never forsakes her. She 
is to be compared only to a flower ; the petals are 
dried up, it smiles at death; it is worm-eaten, 
or torn off by a child, but nothing will make 
it divested of its loveliness and resigned spirit ; 
it is a gift of Heaven to this vile earth of 
ours ; you may destroy or maltreat it, but 
you cannot vitiate it by your own vices ; you 
cannot teach it cruelty, however cruel you 
may be ; you cannot make it give up its 
smile or change same into a grimace, by 
frowning at it in the most terrible manner ; for it 
is not of this earth . Its purity and its beauty have 
come down from the land of immortal beauty, 
from the shore of eternal sacredness ; like 



INDIFFERENCE TO BODY 325 

the stream of the Ganges, it cannot be soiled by 
earth's dust. 

In the first place, an absolute indifference 
to body, its comforts and the ills to which it 
may be subjected, forms the main feature of 
Malaiicha's action. It is the spirit that needs be 
nourished ; that which is destined to perish or 
decay need not be a matter of vital importance 
to us in deciding our course ; body is the vehicle 
and instrument to our spirit, so far its value ; 
but the good of the soul should be the primary 
object in view while deciding our course of 
action. Christ has commanded us to take off 
the unrighteous eye to save the soul. If neces- 
sary this body of ours may be sacrificed or allow- 
ed to be put to any torment for the sake of keep- 
ing our virtues intact. When Malanchamala 
is about to be married, she states certain condi- 
tions. These conditions are necessary for the pre- 
servation of her self-respect, for keeping up the 
dignity of her parents raised to a new status in 
life, for being able to do her 

She cares not for i •- 'p • ii i , 

the body. duties as wiie m the palace to 

the fullest extent. But if like 
the average woman she would feel elated and 
glorified simply because a prince happened to 
marry her, without caring for the honour and 
responsibility attached to her status, she w^ould 
sink into a very common level indeed ! The king 
chose her as bride for the prince ; he must 



826 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

give her all the dignity, all the love and all the 
honour attached to this high place ; she would 
not put up with any thing short of it. She 
claimed this not as a matter of favour or condes- 
cension but of right; she was conscious of the 
spirit of contempt prevailing in the court against 
her owing to her humble birth, for she was merely 
a kotiDciVs daughter ; she would not brook that. 
And what a trial ! Her eyes were taken out. She 
still insisted on the fulfilment of the conditions ; 
her beautiful hands were cut off, but she insisted 
on, as if nothing had happened. This absolute 
indifference to body and heroic devotion to truth 
rank her as a martyr of the first ordeY. This 
ideal womanhood is no unrealised dream in this 
country. Times without number instances have 
occurred in our history showing such firm recti- 
tude and devotion in the fair sex. Sir F. Halliday, 
afterwards Lieutenant-Governor of this pro- 
vince, argued with a satl prepared for self- 
immolation on the funeral pyre of her husband, 
but failing in his attempts to dissuade her by 
arguments at last said, " You have no idea of 
what your sufferings will be." The woman who 
was young and beautiful smiled and ordered a 
lamp to be brought near her. To this she put 
her finger. Writes Sir E. Halliday, "The 
finger scorched, blistered and blackened and 
finally twisted up in a way Avhich I can only 
compare to what I have seen happen to a 



THE TEMPTATIONS 327 

quill in the name of a candio. During this time 
she never moved her hand, nor uttered a cry or 
altered the expression of her countenance. " 
This happened quite in recent times. The heroine 
of a fiction in the Buddhistic period is verily a 
cousin of this historic woman who lived in our 
Grangetic valley in the 19th century. 

Then in the dark night when the very horses 

of the stall run mad and the gohlins are 

at their wildest play and the 

The trial. ^ "^ 

city-gates are shut and the 
funeral pyres spread their smoke and gloom all 
around, she defies that spirit of evil — that great 
tempter who not only tried to lead astray and 
take a Buddha and a Christ to infernal regions, 
but in less pronounced forms appears to us in 
our little struggles for attaining a moral life 
every now and then. But see how she triumph- 
antly sits with her baby husband surrounded by 
the invisible that had taken grim visible shapes, 
amidst all fears fearless, — amidst all horrors 
undaunted. The temptations and horrors that 
came to shake her resolve failed and passed away 
like gusts of wind dashing in vain against a lofty 
peak. The full beauty and blossom of the ideal 
of the Buddhistic renunciation, of undaunted 
heroism is here. The miraculous and the super- 
natural serve only to bring out and accentuate 
the triumphant conquest of the soul over 
material forces, however great these maybe. It 



S28 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

is like the skldhi or reaching of the final goal of 
a yogi as we find in Tantrikisni. In the north 
the funeral around is still the resort of manv an 
aspirant in the path of skldhi, of soul's strenu- 
ous struggling at any cost for a conquest over 
the flesh. The temptations, the appeals and the 
horrors are symbolical of the farewell-shot of 
animal passions on the eve of the soul rising 
above them. The attainment of the nirvana of 
the Buddha is said to have been preceded 
by a visitation from the evil spirits, and 
since then it has been a common occurrence 
in the history of a Tfmtrik's highest spiritual 
achievements. Malanchamala and Behula are 
the two characters, described in our folk- 
literature, as facing such trials and triumphing 
over them. 

This material form in which our soul is (m- 
shrined is but the result of our longings to come 
in contact with tlie outer world. Intense desire 
to attain a thing and unsparing labour bring 
the remotest, the highest thing 
one o-e^tlr"^ ^^^^ °^ witliiu tlic liollow of our palms. 
The animal that wants to 
escape from its pursuers, who Avill give it no rest 
till they kill it, longing with whole soul to go 
beyond their reach, gets wings and flies up. The 
small fish gets the power to go against the tide 
which an elephant cannot. I say all this power 
grows by longings and will-force in quite a 



THE CHILD NEWLY BORN 329 

miraculous Avay. Malaficlia loses her eyes and 
her liancls ; but as she strongly wishes to have a 
sight of her husband, the eyes grow — ready to 
serve him, the hands groAv. In the case of such 
a soul, to whom the body is the mere vehicle of 
a strong will, the workings of the unseen forces 
of nature are most strikingly observed. The 
esoteric law is here explained without a spirit 
of propagandism and though it is all but a fic- 
tion, it grapples with the problem of and illus- 
trates the hidden strength of the soul in the most 
convincing manner. 

Then the child is newly born. You have 

heard that Sanskrit sloka which says that a true 

wife is also a mother. She is a sister and a 

friend as well. Here as in 

Wire as mother. 

nowhere else in the world's 
literature do Ave find wife in the capacity of 
mother. Yes the child is born to her, it was 
stone dead ; it is motherly love that has given 
birth to it ; it is reborn in the lap of Malaiicha- 
mala, not born of the flesh, as an ordinary child 
is born, but born of love, of spirit ; it is therefore 
a truer child than an ordinary one. 

We pursue Malancha in the capacity of 
mother ; but she has the background of a love 
greater than that of a mother — it is wife's ; 
gradually it comes to the front. With the growth 
of the feelings of the wife she retires from her 
habitual field of action and the flower-woman 
42 



330 FOLK LITERATURE Of BENGAL 

becomes the instrument through whom she 
renders her service, — ^herself remaining behind 
the screen satisfied like a devotee with " sight " — 
' darsana ' — which is the highest bliss in the 
spiritual world. 

Throughout this story there is no agency but 
the human, though in the beginning mention is 
made of some local gods. These are, however, 
mere recorders of fortune proving the inscrutable 
ways of Providence and seem to possess no 
independent power. The characters solve their 
own destinies by their harma and this is again 
a Buddhistic idea. Towards 

The Buddhist ideas. 

the end of the story Malaiicha 
would not enter the palace for a few days; she 
thus keeps in abeyance the realisation of the 
cherished dream of her life for one purpose. 
Not to taste any joy herself, until and unless 
the sorrows and wrongs of all the people with 
whom she came in contact or whom she knew, 
were fully remedied. This renunciation is again 
a purely Buddhistic idea ; not to save oneself 
till the whole world is saved was the motto of 
the Mahayana Buddhists of those days. 

The true wife in the Hindu society is one 
who is not only loyal to her husband, but is good 
to all the members of her husband's family, 
discharging her duties in the fullest manner to 
each. It is for this that we see Malancha so 
eager to have her due place in her father-in-law's 



THE father-in-law's HOME 331 

home. There she wanted to hind all hy ties 
Why she prizes her «*' affectioii, to reiiiove all 
father-in-law's home. jealousv aiicl petty qiiaiTels by 
her self-denial and to create an atmosphere of 
purity, peace and renunciation by her example. 
The true wife is to give herself away to all ; 
the husband is of course the god whom she 
secretly worships in her soul, but she does uot 
make a display of her devotion to him ; it 
remains, however, as the secret spring of her love 
which makes the Avhole family her o?vu in every 
sense of the word. The husband's house is thus 
her highest temple. In the attitude of one Avho 
comes to a shrine she approaches it as a bride ; if 
she can discharge her duties in a way which will 
win for her a good name there, is she then and then 
only called a good wife, but not if she merely 
becomes her husband's darling. It is for this 
reason that Malancha prizes her father-in-law's 
home ; it is the sanctuary in which she is to 
develop her virtues by service and self-dedication. 
This was the old idea. When all these are 
merely recited by the priests and blindly follow- 
ed or imposed on by the mother-in-law or some 
other elderly woman with a rod in hand, it 
becomes devoid of all beauty. But when a spirit 

Self-dedication natn- ^f SClf -dcdicatioU bloomS forth 

rai to Mauxncha. ^f j^-g^jf without any extcmal 

agency to help an artificial growth, it shows 
itself beautiful as the lilv in an Indian tank. 



332 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

Malaiicha's womanly virtues are thus shown in 
the most attractive manner. No priest ever told 
her what she should do, and what she should not 
do. The love she felt for her baby-husband was 
more than motherly at the outset but with this 
difference that she knew from the beginning 
that the child would grow in ti me and occupy 
his proper place in regard to her. "When he 
grew to be five years old, she avoided his 
presence lest he called her mother which would 
be his first instinctive address — naturally oppro- 
brious to Avife. The fountain of all her action 
was of course profound love that pervaded her 
whole life. It was no animal passion. The 

She wants no reci- "^^re sight of the beloVcd, tO SCC 

procation. ^avo. happy in all conditions 

even in the arms of her co-wife, was the hio^hest 
recompense of this love ; for she did not want 
reciprocation but merely the good of the object 
of his worship. The jealousies of an ordinary 
woman could not be in her. When the Faksiraj 
came back without her husband on its back, she 
was mad with grief ; but when she learnt that 
he had married the princess, — that husband whom 
she had brought up as no mother could do, 
whom she had saved from the gaping mouths of 
the evil spirits and animals, for whom her eyes 
were taken out and hands cut off and her father 
beheaded, for whom in fact she had suffered 
as few martyrs ever did — that husband was 



LOVE TO ALL ' 3^3 

happy in the palace in the arms oC the princess, 
she stood silent for a time hut did not weep. 
She told the tiger that she was '' fortunate " for 
the mission of her life was fulfilled, her husband 
was made happy and there was no more any 
need of her existence ; she said touchingly to her- 
self, " HoAV happy is the prince now with the 
princess ! how happy shall I be to die in the 
blue waters of our beautiful tank ! " 

She never resisted evil but bore all patiently. 

She gave love to those who were hostile towards 

her, like the tree that gives its flowers and fruits 

to one who cuts it with axe ; bv 

She does not resist * 

evil. her nature she was good ;md 

could not be otherwise. When evil came she 
tried her very best to ward it oft* from her beloved 
by her own great sufferings and by^all that she 
had in her power to do. She did not lament 
like an ordinary woman, nor vehemently protest- 
ed against her oppressors however autocratic 
and cruel they might be, but Christ-like bore 
all ills without complaint, sparing no pains to 
protect her great trust — the life of her child- 
husband from all kinds of danger. Whenever an 
Doing duty, heedless occasiou camc shc was always 
of the result. ^^p witli licr grcatcst resources 

of energy, never appealed to God whom she did 
not see, but depended to the fullest extent on 
her own karma which, is a reality with every one. 
In doing what she thought to be her duty, she 



334 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

was not to be daunted by any circumstances, for 
she cared not the ills to which body is subject. 
When the boy was five years old and required to 
be placed under a tutor, she did not care a bit 
as to what might happen to her, but left the 
protection of her " uncle and aunt " under 
which she was happy and a])ove anxiety for a 
long time. A solitary wayfarer with the baby 
in her arm she wandered, without knowing 
where to go and would not rest till she found a 
suitable place from which she could give edu- 
cation to the child, for he was a prince and must 
have due training. Almost mute, brief in her 
speech when she cared to speak, she offers a 
striking contrast to some of the heroines of our 
modern romances, whose enthusiastic speeches, 
like the babbling ripples on the surface of shal- 
low Avaters often indicate a lack of depth. Our 
Maiancha speaks but Bengali writcrs of romauccs 
^^"^®- may take a lesson from these 

tales ; the heroines here seldom speak out their 
love. The tree offers flowers and fruits without 
words, the sun its rays without words and He that 
is behind this nature and supplies rain, sunshine, 
moon-beams and a thousand other things to us 
out of His infinite love, speaks not except to the 
mystic sonl. True love works and sacrifices, 
but does not spend itself in frothy words. The 
mother seldom speaks of her love for the child ; 
Malancha speaks but little. But when for the 



SACRIFICES OF INDIAN AVOMEN 335 

lirst time in her life, her father-in-law speaks to 
her kind words in a spirit of repentance, she melts 
into tears and tells him, " Why should I go to the 
palace ? This forest is far dearer, for have 
you not spoken here sweet words to me !" 
She is indifferent to material comforts so 
what is a palace or a mansion to her ? Where 
her spirit finds a congenial thing she values that, 
and thus a piece of wood-land is elevated in her 
eyes to a shrine because she has got there what 
her soul wanted. The prayer she offers in her 
sons? in the nuptial chamber 

She prefers a wood- "- ^ 

land to a palace. of licr husbaud, slccplng in the 

arms of Kanclii, is a unique one, and shows her 
to be in a far higher plane than Enoch A.rden of 
Tennyson. In these days all weaknesses of the 
body and all lower passions in men are some- 
times valued in literature as giving human inter- 
est to it. But all human beings are not in the 
same level of existence. Here in this land 
women have always evinced a high spirit of 
sacrifice at the altar of domestic love, and 
their self-immolation on the funeral pyre of 
their husbands and practice of austere Brahma- 
charya, have evoked wonder of all unprejudiced 
minds. In this country Malaiichamala is no 
day-dream of poets, no dealistic or unrealisable 
mental phantom "without human interest,"simply 
because the human being in this case happens 
to possess a super-human strength of soul. 



336 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

Though Malanchamala, like many heroines 
in Indian literature lacks in 

The poetic situations. 

professions of love, yet the 
romantic situations of the dawn of love are not 
wanting in this very interesting tale. She /does 
not come hefore her child-husband but keeps 
gazing at him as he reads or sits to eat. When 
the flower-woman Avould by no means come to 
the fiery horse, and Malancha was obliged to 
come before him after long years, the delicacy 
of the situation makes her modest grace 
at this interview cbarmiogly beautiful ; large 
drops of sweat stood on her brow indicating 
her confusion, and she touched the feet of her 
husband on the pretext of dusting his shoes. I 
do not know if my foreign readers will realise 
the true import of this situation. To a Hindu 
wife nothing can be a more pleasing privilege 
than to touch the feet of her husband. In the 
present case she did it with a confused sense of 
delicacy and ardour of her warm soul, w^hich is ex- 
ceedingly woman-like according to oriental con- 
ception of modesty. Then for the first time after 
many years she glanced at his face and met him 
eye to eye ; she could have avoided doing so, but 
her great control of self yielded a little for a 
moment, she had not the heart to give up this 
opportunity, for he was going to win a game and 
might not return ; when he asked her who 
she was, — she could not say, " I am vour 



THE STOLEX VISIT 337 

wife " ; feminine delicacy choked Lcr voice 
and in half audible -whispers she could raerelv 
say, "T am kotwaVs daughter." On another 
occasion in the nip:ht she had entered the room 
of lier husband and found him with his new con- 
sort. Both were sleeping ; he suddenly aAvoke 
and asked Malancha, " AVho are you to enter this 
room ? " In great mental confusion she only 
briefly said, '"' One that can enter. " This was 
her whole speech. The words were true foi* 
as wife she had every right to enter the room of 
her husband ; then when the prince caught her 
by the edge of her sari, she bent down her head 
and said Avith down-cast eyes, " Prince, you do 
me wrong." The pictures are all delicately 
wrought, and nowhere is the veil of shyness which 
forms the true fascination of a woman's nature 
withdrawn. The fine shades of a true woman's 
heart, her mental psychology which silently 
offers service and devotion, and proves without 
words, that she can sacrifice every inch of 
herself for the beloved one, are traced in the 
most siornificant manner in this unassumino; 
Bengali tale. Malancha's all-pervading love 
is ever employed in doing good to all, not 
merely those to Avhom she was personally 
indebted. When she was going to return to 
her husband's home, she restored the dead to 
life by the great esoteric power that had grown 
in her by her conquest over the flesh. So that 

43 



388 FOLK LITERATURE OE BENGAL 

none was miserable, none was unhappy. The 
. , , wicked are not punished but 

Trie wicked are not ■*• 

punished but re- reformed bv love, provinsj its 

formed. ^ . ^ 

marvellous power of doing good 
in the human world, and surely this is a 
higher view of an esthetic situation in ethical 
planes. 
. She returns to the palace after many years, 
not to enjoy material comforts and what is 
strange not even to be \\\ the arms of her hus- 
band. What other poets or dramatists would 
not make the husband and wife restored to each 
other's embrace after so much sufferings ? Kan- 
chi's career might have closed 

The " chief queen '' ' ,^ Ji e i i* 

and the " jcoddess.' HI i\\e mouths of huugry tigers 
or in some other tragic Avay 
suggested by the fruitful brain of an author, 
in order to make the path clear for Malancha. 
But wo find in this tale " Malancha made 
Kanchi chie' queen." She Avillingly and 
gladly offered her own place to the co-wife. 
"But the people worshipped her as their 
goddess." Thus does indeed the heroine of 
the tale rise to the level of a true goddess 
that she Avas — a conqueror of the flesh ; she Avho 
could break all her teeth in order to break a few 
links of the chain by w^hich her husband was 
bound, was not a character to be won by the 
thought of the pleasures of the flesh. She was 
a thing dedicated and offered to love, from which 



EPISODES OF Sacrifices 339 

all elements of the llesh were completely 
removed. 

The story is like an epic poem in Bengali with 

many exquisite lyrical notes, and the language is 

so forcible, brief and colloquial, 

The tninslatoi's j i j • i • i ' n c 

apologies. that it IS uot in the power oi any 

Bengali writer to change a word, 
without marring its naive simplicity and effect. 
Unfortunately, as I have already stated, this story 
will have an exotic air in my translation ; it will 
appear like a Bengali lady, who looked so lovely 
in her sa^i, putting on a gow^n and having an 
outlandish air ; hut this could not he helped. 
The Aveaviiig of the plot shows considerable 
art. Malaficha is of course the 
central tigure who connects the 
different episodes of the story and keeps up its 
continued interest. When the baby dies, the story 
might naturally end there, but we have a need 
of her for bringing it back to life. The natural 
end of the story is thus put oft' till the prince 
marries Kanchi. Here asjain the storv would 
end, but he is put into the prison and there we 
have again a need of Malancha's help to set the 
prince free. Malaiicha does it and the king 
returns with the prince and the new bride to 
the palace and dismisses poor Malaiicha. The 
story would naturally end here. But now comes 
the moral need of showing that a devotee's 
labour has not gone for naught. ^Malaiicha is 



340 FOLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

a true bride. She must enter the house to 
light the bridal lamp. After all that she has 
suffered and done, an ordinary reception will 
not do. The whole city, not to speak of the 
palace alone, should give the most cordial re- 
ception to the true bride by erecting triumphal 
arches and beating the royal drums in her honour. 
All the ceremonies that a devotee performs in 
the temples should be celebrated in honour of 
one who has proved by her action, too many to 
enumerate, that she is not an ordinary type of 
human being but a goddess. Any reception 
short of what was given her in the last part 
of the story would have been unworthy of 
her. Her reception has been late, but the author 
deferred it a long time only to make it fitting 
in the fullest measure, in order to pave her 
path to the palace by repentant tears, and 
wreath the garland of welcome by the over- 
flowing joy of all the citizens who rejoiced on 
the return of one who had brought the dead 
to life again. 

The whole story is thus threaded l)y the 
episodes of sacrifices for love on Malaficha's part 
and at the end takes us by surprise by the 
statement that she did not return to the 
palace to share the joys of nuptial life with 
her co-wife, but show her greatest renunciation 
by inaugurating the rival as chief queen in 
her place. 



A CONTRAST 



341 



These tales have an old ^yo^ld charm which is 
irresistible to all of us. The 
r.'^FL™"/^™""' revival of Pauranic religion has 
introduced a spirit of faith, and 
of devotion of a metaphysical type. But these 
tales disclose a beauty all of their own in which 
propagandism finds no place. Woman's fidelity 
is shown in its truest colour ; men are righteous, 
good and amiable ; but they have no stereotyped 
models put before them by the priests ; the 
characters are rewarded or punished for their 
action, but there is scarcely any reference to the 
scriptures, nor are analogies sought to be estab- 
lished between them and those described in the 
Puranas. All these marks out the epoch of 
literature which produced the tales as a very 
unique one ; it has some very 
J;SL^S^h: distinctive features of its own, 
complicated model of characterised by literary excel- 

Renaissancc. '' *' 

lence of a quite different charac- 
ter than is to be found in the literature of the 
Renaissance. The lovers swear, not by any gods 
or goddesses, but by the earth, "Because it is 
sacred where the flowers bloom." When a 
princess takes the kotwaVs son to task for 
making a proposal of marriage, and says, " How 
bold must you be to approach me in this way I 
I will bring this to the notice of the king. How 
could you be so daring?" "If the king takes 
me to task," replied the koticaVs son boldly, 



S42 FOLK Lll'ERATtJRE OF BENGAL 

" here is my answer ; my ancestors have shed 
their blood for generations to make Your 
Majesty's line of kings— this is my claim." No, 
question of caste or social status which would 
have been inevitable in the days of the Renais- 
sance was raised. When the princess was 
convinced that it was her duty to marry the 
kotwaVs son because her parents had already 
pledged their words, the preceptor marked a 
change in her demeanour. On other days the 
cymbals sounded on her feet merrily as she 
entered the school room, to-day no sound of 
her steps was heard, so quietly did she enter 
the room with down-cast eyes, "and the 
sweet voice of hers in recitation did not charm 
everyone in the class room as was usual, but 
the voice trembled and its sweetness was gone, 
it sounded like a drv lo2,\" There is a rural 
method of expressing ordinary ideas which has 
also a special appeal for us " From a thousand 
eyes the gods stole sleep and put it in the eyes 
of the princess " is meant to show that the 
sleeping princess was absolutely unaware of the 
danger that awaited her. In order to indicate 
the resolute muteness of a woman, we have this 
metaphor *' like the sleeping night slie says 
nothing, nor moves." 

The w\ay in which these rural people used 

The w«T of reckon- to reckou time, when there 

jngtime. y^,.^^ j^^ w^atch or clock to 



THE RUKAL ELEMENT 348 

giiifle them iis interesting. In one place we 
iind the followini? '" the day advanced, the. 
peacock and lier mate dropped Feathers from 
their plumed tail; the In'rds snka and sa7'i 
flunir off the dust from their win^s as thev 
hathed in the muddy pools." By these little 
things the country people i^ave an exact idea ot 
time ; tor the birds did as described, at particular 
and specified points of time recorded in the daily 
observations of the men who live in villa*:^es. 
In another ])lace we find " before twilight had 
passed and the crows had crowed their last note 
indicating departure into the nests." These 
softly lift the veil from nature, disclosing to the 
observer how she gives response to each hour 
that passes, in a way far more interesting than 
by the dull 'hand of a clock. 

The manner in which the rural people indi- 
cated their condemnation and honest disparage- 
ment of a wicked deed is sometimes very curiously 
expressed. The ilowerwoman 

wicked dTe"fs.'°" ° ^^ ^^^ story of Kafichanniala 
Avants to drive away the 
princess from her husband's home and get her 
own niece married to him. This wicked motive 
is frustrated in this way. 

"If the flower-woman engages any house-wife 
to take part in the marriage of her niece, within 
three days the red mark of luck disappears from 
that wife's forehead (she becomes a widow). The 



34i POLK LITERATURE OF BENGAL 

Brahmin whom she appoints to perform the 
marriasje function finds his cowshed void 
of cows and his scliool void of j^upils. So no 
Brahmin would open his almanac to fix the 
auspicious day and no house-wife take part in the 
ceremony. The ilower-woman goes to the oil- 
man for oil and to the i^rocer for turraeriCj the 
oil-man's bullock dies and the grocer loses his 
bargain. The flowers drop from the bride's 
crown and the lamps cease to burn on the sacred 
plate." 

These are no doul^t foolish, Imt imagine the 
o-lee and mirth with wliieli children listened to this 
account of the wicked witch's disappointment. 
There may beniany things said that are foolish ; the 
child says many such things and listens to many 
such things from his grandmother, but is not the 
heart of true poetry there ? Sometimes a situa- 
tion is made romantically poetic 

Romance. ^^^ ^ ^^^^^ ^^^^^j^ . j ^^ ^^^ ^^^^ 

if the foreign readers of our folk-tales w ill appre- 
ciate the simple poetry in these few lines. 

"She came and bowed down before her 
husband. He saw this spot near his feet reddened 
with the vermilion of her forehead," 



Index. 



Abolas ... ... ... ... ... 229 

Acharyas ... ... ... ... ... 61 

Ada Nasa ... ... ,.. ... ... 165 

^esop ... ... ... ... ... 44 

Aetes ... ... ... ... ... 29 

Afazuddin Ahmed ... ... ... 169,170,171 

Agartala ... ... ... ... ... 146 

Aga Bakhar ... ... ... ... ... 148 

Agamani ... ... ... ... ... 84 

A:zuddin Munshi ... ... ... ... 158 

Alaka ... ... ... ... ... 153 

Alam ... ... ... ... ... 160, 161 

Alanaschar ... ... ... ... ... 48 

Algebra ... ... ... ... ... 80 

All Akbar ... ... ... ... ... 130, 134 

Alivardi Khan ... ... ... ... 148 

Allah ... ... ... ... ... 101, 102, 

Amin ... ... ... .. ... 106 

Amrita bhana ... ... ... ... 97 

Apai ... ... ... ... ... 34 

Arabia ... ... ... ... ... 43 

Arabian ... ... ... ... ... 43 

Arabian Nights ... ... ... .,. 5, 14 

Arabic ... 3, 51, 43, 48, 97, 99, 101, 102, 124, 134, 160, 195, 234 

Arabs ... ... ... ... ... 4, 6 

Ariadne ... ... ... ... ... 2 

Arif ... ... ... ... ... 100 

Ax'juna ... ... ... ... ... 55 

Arthurian ... ... ... ... ... 50, 53, 59 

Arthur ... ... ... ... ... 50 

Aryavarta ... ... ... ... ... 49 

Asia ... ... ... ... ... 7 

Asiatic ... ... ... ... ... 28, 43 



346 INDEX 

Page. 
Atlantic ... ... ... ... ... 2, 5. 6 

Atlas ... ... ... ... ... 9 

Aya Bene ... ... ... ... ... 67 



Baburam Bhandari ... ... ... ... 151 

.Babylon ... ... ... ... ... 65 

Backergunge ... ... ... ... ... 1.51 

Badarjanda ... ... ... ... ... 115, 116 

Bali Uttarpara ... ... ... ... 89 

Balor ... ... ... ... ... 19 

Baltic ... ... ... ... ... 6, 43, 50 

Baluka Sagar... ... ... ... ... 91 

Banga ... ... ... ... ... 42 

Bangabhasha-o-Sahitya ... ... ... ... 17 

Baukis ... ... ... ... ... 3 

Banspara ... ... ... ... ... 141 

Bayis joan ... ... ... ... ... 41 

Behram Gor ... ... ... ... ... 6 

Behest ... ... .. ... ... 131 

Behnla ... ... ... ... ... 328 

Bejan Shahar... ... ... ... ... 30 

Benares ... ... ... ... ... 153 

Bengal ... 5,7,10,14,26,28,42,44,46,49,50,52,54,56,61,64, 

68, 7a, 73, 77, 81, 82, 85, 86, 88, 94, 97, 99, 113, 123, 

124, 151, 152, 155, 156, 160, 192, 193, 225, 260, 262, 

249, 286, 323 
Bengali ... 7,13,18,28,40,21,17,35,44,45,53,57,58,59,63,67, 

84, 92, 94, 9.5, 100, 155, 162, 189, 223, 229, 260, 262. 

249, 286, 323 

Bengali Literature ... ... ... ... 49, 57 

Bengali Muhammadans ... ... ... ... 84 

Bhaduli ... ... ... .. ... 249,250 

Bhagavata ... ... ... ... ... 54 

Bhakti cult ... ... ... ... ... 54 

BhSnumati ... ... ... ... ... 97 

Bharat ... ... ... ... ... 52 

Bharatchandra ... ... ... ... 100 

Bhasmalochana ... ... ... ... 18, 17 

Bhatas ... ... ... ... ... 151, 152 



INDEX 347 

Page. 
Bhavilni ... ... ... ... ... 66 

Rhikkus ... ... ... ... ... 81 

Bhikkunis ... ... ... ... ... 81 

Bhim ... ... ... ... ... 25 

Bhuia ... ... ... ... ... 185 

Bibhisama ... ... ... ... ... 18 

Bihangama ... ... ... ... 10, 11,12,13,14,27 

Bihamgami ... ... ... ... 11,12,13,14,27 

Bimala ... ... ... ... ... 191, 192 

Bosching's Volks-Sagen ... ... ... ... 49 

Brahma ... ... ... ... ... 18, 19 

Brahmin ... 29,31,32,33,51,62,60,76,91,95,121,145,181, 

225, 227, 274, 344, 273 
Brata ... ... ... ... ... 252 

Bramhacharya ... ... ... ... 335 

British ... ... ... ... ... 50,59 

Brobdingnag ... ... ... ... ... 238 

Brothers Grimm ... ... ... 8, 20. 24, 25; 28, 194 

Buarainoch ... ... ... ... ... 19 

Buddha ... ... ... ... ... 328 

Buddhism ... ... ... ... 42,54,81,83,153 

Buddhist ... 44,46,61,63,81,82,83,84,86,87,88,93,94,96,97, 

99, 160, 161, 157 



.Caer ... ... ... ... ... 235 

Calmuck .. ... ... ... ... 291 

^amkhamala ... ... ... 45,59,64,67,75,117,133,134 

^ankharaj ... ... ... ... ... 67 

(jjankhini ... ... ... ... ... 132 

Canta ... ... ... ... ... 175, 177 

Caridwen ... ... ... ... ... 15 

Chagalmuri ... ... ... ... ... 142 

Chakla Roshonabad ... ... ... ... 143 

Champa ... ... ... ... ... 200,49,42 

Champaka ... ... ... ... 297 

Chamdala ... ... ... ... ... 92 

Chandana ... ... 210, 211, 212, 213. 214, 215, 216, 218, 223 

225, 226, 227 228, 230 



348 INDEX 

Page. 

Chandi ... ... ... ... 90, 91, 153, 207, 208 

Chandra .. ... ... ... ... 148 

Chandbibi ... ... ... ... ... 102 

Chandra Bhan .. ... ... ... 162 

Chandrahasa ... ... ... ... 21, 221 

Chandramanik ... 288, 289, 292, 293, 294, 295, 296, 298, 299, 

800, 301, 304, 305, 307, 310, 311, 312 

315, 321, 322 

Chandannagar ... ... ... 103,104,109,108,110 

Chandravali ... ... ... ... 97, 156, 234, 57 

Chaturdolas ... .., ... ... ... 70, 71 

Chaudhurir Larayi ... ... ... ... 135 

Cherry ... ... ... ... ... 49 

Chimaira ... ... ... ... ... 2 

Chinese ... ... ... ... ... 189 

Chinta ... ... ... ... ... 17, 18 

Chittagong ... ... ... ... ... 148, 149 

Chitraratha ... ... ... ... ... 174 

Christ ... ... ... .., ... 325, 327 

Christian ... ... ... ... 13,14,30,193, 

9ita Bashanta ... 24, 156, 165, 167, 168, 169, 170, 171, 173, 179, 

180, 181, 182, 183, 134, 185, 186, 187, 188, 

189, 191, 193 

9itala ... ... ... ... ... 91 

9iva ... ... ... 90,153,159,216,251,252 

9ivadut ... ... ... .. ... 60 

Copernicus ... ... ... ... ... 254 

^rivatsa ... ... ... ... ... 17 

9rngi ... ... ... ... ... 174 

Crnsade ... ... ... ... ... 7 

^ukapanikhis ... ... ... ... 65 

9unyapuran ... ... ... 86,90,161,251 

Cupid ... ... ... ... ... 220 

Cuttack ... ... ... ... ... 206 



Dacca Muslin ... ... ... ... 6,42,50 

DSkinis ... ... ... ... ... 89 

Daksin ... ... ... ... ... 138, 137 



INDEX 349 

Pago. 

Daniel ... ... ... ... ... 227 

Dantapur ... ... ... ... 219 

Darsana ... ... ... ... ... 330 

Dasaratha ... ... ... ... 204, 223 

Datan ... ... ... ... ... 219 

Death ... ... ... ... ... 60 

Delhi ... ... ... ... ... 136, 146 

Demon of Eclipse ... ... ... ... ... 274 

Demon of fever ... ... ... ... ... 93 

Der Getrene Johannes ... ... ... ... 13 

Dhale9wari ... ... ... ... ... 13 

Dhamma ... ... ... ... ... iVo 

Dhara ... ... 60, 270, 271, 272, 273, 274, 321 

Dharma-mangala ... ... ... ... 30, 89, 92, 161 

Diancecht ... ... ... ... ... 233 

Dhouma ... ... ... ... •• 192 

Dhrnba ... ... .. ... 54, 1553 

Dravidians ... ... ... ... ... 247 

Dryden ... , . . ... ... ... 70 

Dudhabarana ... ... 297, 302, 305, 306, 307, 308, 320, 321 

Dudh Bibi ... ... ... ... 113,114,122 

Dukhn ... ... ... ... 35,36,37 

Dulaldhan ... ... ... ... ... 68 

Dunn ... ... ... ... ... 48 

Duorani ... ... ... ... 188,182,183 

Durga ... ... ... ... ... 66 

Durlata ... ... ... ... ... 175 



Eastern ... ... ... ... 50, 51 

Eastern Bengal ... ... ... ... 261,262 

Edda ... ... ... ... ... 235 

Egyptian ... ... ... ... ... 265 

Ekalavya ... ... ... ■•• ... 153 

England ... ... ... ... 40, 44 

English ... ... ... ... ... 6,50 

Enoch Arden ... ... ... ... ... 335 

Epics ... ... .•• ... • •• 155 



350 INDEX 

Page. 
Europe ... ... ... 2,4,5,6,7,13,42,49,51 

European ... ... 6, 7, 8, 13, 28, 41, 42, 65, 234 

Evans ... ... ... ... ... 251 



Fairy ... ... ... ... ... 63 

Fakirs ... ... ... ... ... 93 

FaithfulJohn ... ... ... ...8,10,13,14,28 

Fakirchand ... ... ... ... ... 8 

Fakir Ram Kabibhsbana 6, 41, 100, 101, 202, 219, 223, 224, 226, 266 

Fathema Bibi ... ... ... ... ... 125 

Feni ... ... ... ... ..'. ... 146 

Firdausi ... ... ... ... ... 6 

Frog-bride .. ... ... ... ... 49 

G 

Gabriel ... ... ... ... .. 114 

Gabu Chandra ... ... ... ... ... 240 

Gadura ... ... ... ... 90, 237 

Gaeles ... ... ... ... ... 19 

Gallic ... ... ... ... 16,233 

Gandharva ... ... ... ... ... 191 

Gane^a ... ... ... ... ... 92 

Ganges ... ... ... ... 47,51,159,233 

Gangetic Valley ... ... ... ... 7, 49, 195 

Garauhata Bengal RoyJPress ... ... ... ... 102 

Garetli ... ... ... ... ... 205 

Gasta Bene ... ... ... ... ... 67 

Ganl ... ... ... ... ... 232 

Gaur ... ... ... ... ... 49 

Gauri ... ... ... ... 257,259 

Gaza ... ... ... ... ... 113 

Gazi ... 137. 138, 139, 140, 141, 142, 143, 144, 146, 148, 149, 150 

Geliad ... .. ... ... ... 234 

Ghatak ... ... ... ... _ 70 

Ghnmanta-puri ... ... ... ... ._ 30 

Gita-Kathas ... ... ... ... 47 261 

Goalas ... ... ... ... 118, 122 

Goda Yama ... ... ... ... 14,15,60 

GodaHossain Khondakar ... ... , ... ... 139 



INDEX 351 

Page. 

Goddess of Harvest ... ... ... ... 8.5 

Golam Kader ... ... ... ... 24,41,156,165 

Golkonda ... ... ... ... ... 324 

Gorgon Medusa ... ... ... ... ... 2 

Greek ... ... ... ... ... 48 

Grimm's collection ... ... ... ...34, 40 

Grimm's Popular Stories ... ... 2, 3, 14, 21, 3.5,43 

Gujrat ... ... ... ... ... 7 

Guptas ... ... ... ... ... 48 

Guru ... ... ... ... ... 228 

Gwin Bach ... ... ... .. ... 15 

Gy psies ... ... ... ... ... 6 



Habu Chandra ... ... ... . . , ... 240 

Hadi ... ... ... ... ... ... 90,91 

Hadisidhya ... ... ... ... 91,233 

Hanif ... ... 124, 125, 127, 128, 129, 130, 131, 132, 133, 134, 135 

Hans ... ... ... ... ... ... 23 

Hanumana ... ... ... ... ....55,90 

Harilila .. ... ... ... ... 100 

Harinath Majiimdar ... ... 41,173,191,193,265 

Harischandra ... ... ... ... ... 153 

Harmoo ... ... ... ... ... 34 

Hartz ... ... ... ... ... ... 43 

Hastini ... ... ... ... ... 85 

Haliday ... ... ... ... ... 326 

Hebrew ... ... ... ... ... 48 

Hengist ... ... ... ... ... 44 

Heiakles ... ... ... ••■ ... 2 

Herbert ... ... ... ... ... 40 

Hesperides ... ... ... ... ... 2,16 

Hindu Guru Mahacayas ... ... ... ••• 88 

Hindu Renaissance ... 54,56,61,66,67,69,82,95,203,225 

Hindu Tantras ... ... ... .• .•• 89 

Hinduism ... ... ... ... 69, 83 

Hindustan ... ... ... ... ••• 146 

Himalayan ... ... ... .. ••• 152 

Hinglat ... ... ... ••■ ■•■ 206 

Hira ... ... ... 114, 122, 207, 208 



352 



INDEX 



Hiramanik 

Hiraraja 

Hitopode9a 

Homeopathic 

Hooghly 

Horsa 

Hungary 

Hushen Shah 

Hycophric 



Page. 
6 
... 67 
3, 5, 44 

... 84 

103, 104 

44 

6 

100,103 

40 



Imam Hosen Abdul Mokaka 

Indil 

India 

India the Great 

India the Lesser 

Indian 

Indian Literature ... 

Indra Mandal 

Indra Sabha 

Iranian 

Islam 

Islamite 



• •• 48 

... 30 

42,43,52 

... 50 

... 50 

6,42,43,49,51,59,62,65,73 

... 336 

... 192 

... 96 

... 84 

81, 82, 84, 86, 88, 90, 94, 95, 98, 124, 128, 131, t34 

... 93, 95, 123, 135 



Jack 

Jugdia 

Jagat Manikya 

Jagat Chandra 

Jalayoga 

Jamini Bhan 

Janmejaya 

Jarasura 

Jason 

Jataka 

Jata 9ankara 

Jaya 

Jayasen 



40, 235 
... 146 
... 138 
... 162 
... 41 
234, 162 
.., 191 
...93,95 
2 
... 5,44 
153,162 
... 30 
... 175 



INDEX 353 

Page. 

Jaygim ... ... ... ... ... 135 

Jayadhara ... ... ... ... ... 103 

Jaydeva ... ... ... ... 46, 142 

Jaynarayan Sen ... ... ... ... 103, 162 

Jorinda and Joringel ... ... ... ... 28 

K 

Kabikankana ... ... ... ... ... 75 

Kanchanraj ... ... ... ... ... 67 

Kachua ... ... ... ... 127, 140 

Kafirs ... ... ... ... 124, 127 

Kaivartas ... ... ... ... ... 64 

Kalaketu ... ... ... ... ... 55 

Kalavati Rajkanya ... ... ... ... ... 67 

Kaldut ... ... ... ... 60, 284 

Kali ... ... ... 13, 90, 91, 94, 105, 145 

Kalidasa ... ... ... ... 192,60 

Kaliph A. Mansabji ... ... ... ... 48 

Kaliya ... ... ... .. ... 90 

Kamadeva ... ... ... 103, 104, 109, 110 

Kamakasa ... ... ... ... ... 90 

Kamrupa ... ... ... ... 89, 161 

Kanauj ... ... ... ... ... 6 

Kanchanmala ... 45, 63, 67, 6S, 97, 154, 156, lo7, 158, 159, 162. 

165, 343 

Kanchi ... 293, 294, 295, 300, 303, 308, 321, 322, 335, 338, 

339 

Kanu ... ... ... ... ... ... 118 

Kapilabastu ... ... ... ... ...42,64 

Karma ... ... .. ... 55,330,333 

KathiX ... ... .. ... ... 30 

Katha Saritsc^^ara ... ... ... ... 5,43,234 

Kaynur ... ... 90, 104, 105, 107, 108, 110, 113, 161 

Kekaya ... ... ... ... ... 52 

Kern ... ... ... ... ... 83 

Khaibar Pass ... ... ... ... ... 152 

Khana ... ... ... ... ... 78 

Kharda ... ... ... ... ... 135 

Khondakar Jabed Ali ... ... ... ... 41 

Khoramali ... ... ... ... ... 89 

Kinu Ghosh ... ... ... 118, 120, 121, 122 

45 



354 INDEX 

Page. 

Kirke ... ... ... ... ... 3, 29 

Kirtipasa ... ... ... ... ... 151 

Kishory Mah.-ilauobis ... ... ... ... 151 

Koran ... ... ... ... ... 123 

Krisna .. ... ... ... 95,90,94,253 

Krisnahari Dasa ... ... ... ... 101, 103 

Kud Ghat ... ... ... ... ... 138 

Kulin ... ... ... ... ... ... 70 

Kumati ... ... ... ... 104,105,111 

Knshumpnr ... .. ... ... ... 48 



La Fontain ... ... ... . . ..<. 4 

Lajjavati ... ... ... ... ... 156 

Laksmana ... ... ... ,. 90, 145 

Laksmi ... ... ... ... 85,86,88,95 

Laual ... ... ... ... 248, 250 

Lynette ... ... ... ■•• ■ • 205 

Lilavati ... ... ... ... ... 78 

Louaen ... ... ... ... ... 30 

Lnris ... ... ... ... ... 6 



M 

Macdonell's History of Sanskrit Liter.iture ... ... 3, 4 

Madan ... ... ... 103, 104, 109, 110 

Madukaras ... ... • ... ... ... 65 

Madhamala ... ... ... ... 56,68,72 

Madhusudan ... ... ... ... ... 58 

Magadha ... • • ... ••. 42, 44, 48, 49 

Mahayana Buddhist ... ■•• ... 330, 83 

Mahabharata ... ... ... ■■. 17, 21, .54, 76 

Mahammad Korbaii Ali -• ... ... ■.• •.. 156 

Mainagar ... ••. ••• ••• ••• 30 

Mainamati ... •■ ••• .•• ■•• 233 
Maiumdar ... ••■ 16,30.39,41,53,117,193,194, 195, 

208, 225, 261, 264, 265, 266 



INDEX 355 

Pago. 
Malauchaiu.iiri ... 45, Ifi, r,;\, 5(3, (30, 154, 156, 230, 2U2, i^G5, 266, 

267, 275, 277, 278, 280, 282, 283, 284, 285, 286, 

28S, 289, 290, 291, 292, 293, 294, 295, 296, 297, 

298, 299, 300, 301, 302, 303, 304, 305, 307, 308, 

309, 310, 312, 313, 314, 315, 316, 318, 319, 320, 

321, 322, 323, 324, 325, 328, 329, 330, 321, 332, 
334, 335, 336, 337, 338, 339, 340. 

Malati Kusiim ... ... ... 97,156,160,193 

Mallika ... ... ... 125,12(3,128,130,132 

Manipur ... ... ... ... ... 145 

ManasaDe\i ... ... ... ... 99,90,94,96 

Manik Pir .. 98, 99, 115, 116, 117, 119, 120, 121, 122 

Maniruddin Ahmad ... ... ... ... ... I56 

Miinik Chandra ... ... ... ... 14,30 

Mauiko-anj ... ... ... ... ... 195 

Manikraja ... ... ... ... ... '67 

Maniktala ... ... ... ... ... 67 

Mansitigh ... ... ... ... .,, H)2 

Masjidbari Street, Calcutta ... ... ... ... 156 

Masta Bene ... ... ... ... ... 67 

Matiraja ... ... ... ... . 67 

Maulvi Lntful Khabir ... ... ... 136, 150 

Mauryas ... ... ... ... ... 48 

Maynamati ... ... ... ... 14 15 

Maya Danava ... ... ... ... .. 102 

Ma.ynr Pankhis ... ... ... ... (55 

Mayurpekhama ... ... ... .., Yj 

Mechnabazar Street... ... ... ... ., 15(5 

Mecklenburgh ... ... ... ... .28 

Medeia ... ... ... ... . 2 

Medina ... ... ... 124,131,125,126 

Mediterranian • . . . ... ... ... ... q 

Mediaeval literature... ... ... ... ... 4 43 

Medusa ... ... ... ... ..." -2 

Meghadumbur ... ... ... ... ., 7I 

Miach ... ... ... ... ... 233 

Middle ages of Europe ... ... ... ... 3 

Minotnur ... ... ... ... ... 2 

Mir Khoraiu Ali ... ... ... ... .. g^ 

Moghul ... ... ... .., 136 



356 



INDEX 



MogalmSri 

Mokhtab 

Mollas 

Moslem 

Mothei' Holle 

Mrigavati 

Muhammad Korbau Ali 

Muhoammad Khater Marhuu 

Muhammad Talukdar 

Mukhshaddis 

Munshi Amiruddiu Ahmad 

Munshi Aminuddin ... 

Munshi Enayetulla Sircar 

Munshi Afaruddin ... 

Munshi Pijiruddin ... 

Murshidabad 

Murari ^ila 

Mymensing 



Page. 




219 




197 


.. 89, 94, 95, 


155 


41, 


135 


35, 38, 39 




162 




195 




162 


140, 


144 




144 




41 




135 




92 




41 


115, 


188 


148,149, 


150 




75 


94, 


262 



N 



Nagaryuua 

Nala- Damayanti 

Naradhaja 

Nasiruddiu 

Nasirban Emperor 

Nowab 

Xeda-nedis 

Negroes 

Nirvana 

Nisami 

Noakhali 

Non- Aryan 



137, 138, 139, 140 









83 








161 




207, 


208 


), 141, 


143, 144, 


145 








48 




147, 


149 








81 








246 








153 








28 








136 








147 



Orissa 

Oxford University Press 

Oazid Ali 



6, 219 

14, 43 
130 



INDEX 367 

p 

Page. 

I'adcrborn ... ■■• •• ••• l!i 

Padma ... ... ... . . ... 50 

Padmini ... ... ... ... ■■ 85 

Paksiraj ... 267, 2&.), 274, 282, 2[)6, 299, 301, 302. 305, 309 

Pandit ... ... ... ••. ... 57 

Pandit Braja Jaiiiabar ... ... ... 48 

Pandit Ramgati Nyayaratua ... .. ... 17 

Panchatantra ... ... ... ... 3, -4, 5, 44, 234 

Pargawnah ... ... ... ... 137, 140 

Parikshit .. ... ... ... ... 174 

Parnassus ... ... ... ... 57 

Parvati ... ... ... ... 159,216,218 

Pataliputra ... ... ... •• 234 

Pauranic Kenaiisaauce ... ... ... 155, 161, 121 

Pegasos ... ... ... ... 2 

Persens ... ... ... ... 2 

Persia ... ... .. 43 

Persians 4, 57, 30, 43, 47, 48, 51, 57, 58, 97, 99, 103, 124, 154, 160, 195 

Philenien ... ... ... ... 3 

Phullari ... ... ... ... 55 

Pilpay ... ... ... ... 49 

Pinger ... ... ... ... ... 262 

Plassy ... ... ... .•• ■•. 136 

Prahlada ... ■■• ... ... 54, 153 

Prakrit ... ... ... 263,264,67,247 

Ptolemaic theory ... ... ... ... 254 

Puranas ... ... ■••55, 56, 95, 293, 153, 154, 192 

Prakritic Bengali ... ... ... ■• 86 

Puspamala ... 29,208,209,210,212,2)5,45,227,230,231 

Pusparathas ... ... ... ... 71 

Putra Sarovara ... ... ... ... ...209,226 

Pyramid ... ... ... ... 46 



Quarterly Review ... ... ... ... 40 



RSdha ... ... ... ... 94 

Raja Baruna ... .. ... 124,127,128,129,133,134 



358 INDEX 

Page. 

Kaja Bircliandra Manikya of Tippera ... ... 53 

Rajknmar Roy ... ... ... ... lol 

llajakanuiri ... ... ... ... 96 

Raja Ram moliau l\oy ... ... ... 192 

Rajamala ... ... .. ... 150 

Rakshasa .. ... ... ... 19, 231», 51, 232 

Rama ... ... ...18,90,20-1,223 

RamaDiiuoliaii ... ... ... ... 192 

Raniai Pandit ... ... ... ... 90 

Ramayanas .. ... ... ... 17,52,54 

Raiijana ... ... ... ... 116 

Ras'ul ... ... ... ••■ ••■ 102 

Katau Chaadlmry ... ... ... ... 137 

Rev Lai Behary Dey 8, IS, 13, 24-, 41, 50, 52, 68, 193, 194, 233, 266 

Revivalist ... .. ... ... 69 

RovcXkheuda ... ... .. ... 100 

Reynard ... ... ... ... 244, 245, 245, 23 

Riks ... ... ... ... 254 

Rojahs ... ... ... ... ••. 86 

Rose-bud ... ... ... 291 

Rukmini ... ... ... .■• ... 162 

Rumpct-btilts-kiu ... ... ... ... 31,34,35 

Riipachand ... ... ■•• ... 159 

Rupakathas ... ... ... ... 52, 76 

Rupalal ... ... ... ... 63, 163, 165 

Riipamala ... ... ••• ... 8, 13,45, 63 

RQpavati ... ... ... 185, 187, 188 

Rupvarnaria ... .-■ ... ... 57 

Rabindranatli Tagore ... ... ... 264 

s 

Saliaria ... ••. . ••• 234 

Sakhi-Sona 29,'97, 195, 197, 198, 199, 200, 201, 202, 203, 204, 207, 208, 

209, 219, 220, 222, 224 

•Sakuntala ... ... ■•• .. 193 

Sakhya ... ••• ••• ••■ 147 

8aktas ... ... ... 24 

aalad ... ... ... 24, 194 

Sjimshcr Gazi Gilua ... ... ... 136 



INDEX 359 

Pfier'. 

Samser Giizi ... ... ... ... i:?8, ]50 

Sambliu ... ... ... ... 194 

Sainritabhana ... ... ... ... 13;") 

Sanaka ... ... ... ... 120, 121, 122 

Sankhal ... ... ... ... ♦> 

Sankaracliarya ... ... ... .. J 00, 101 

Saras wati ... ... ... ... 1)8, ir.S, 159 

Siirnioo ... ... ... ... ;{4- 

Satyanarayan ... ... .. ... lOC 

Satya ... Pir 98, 99, 100, 101, 102, 103, 104, 106, 107, 108, 110, 113 

Savitri ... ... ... ... 253,46 

Saxon ... ... ... ... 44 

Saya Bene ... ... ... ... .67 

Semitic .. ... ... ••• 84 

Sehwalmgegend ... ... ... ... 28 

Senmasli ... ... ■•• . ••• '^^'^ 

Scorpion ... ... .. ... 197 

Scythian Brahmins ... ... ... 61 

Shal ... ... ... ... ... loO 

Shamsher Gazi ... ... ... ... 150 

Shahabad ... ... ... ... 195 

Shaha Kamaruddin ... ... | ... ... 118, 114 

Shekh Onich ... ... ... ... 148 

ShobhaDatta ... ... ... ... 142 

Shonala ... ... ... ... 68 

Sikh Guru ... ... ... ... 46 

Sonar Kathi and Bnpar KaMii ... .. ... 16 

Sindevijan ... ... ... ... 195 

Sindabad ... ... ... ... 2:U 

Sita ... ... ... .. ... 52 

Sitar Vanavapa ... ... ... ... 1 03 

Skandapurana ... ... ... ... 100 

Sonadhan ... ... ... ... 135 

Sugriva ... ... ... ... 204 

Suka ... .. ■■• •• 109, 18.5, 226, .343 

Snkhu ... ... ... ... ... 3.5, .36, .37 

Sultan Muhammad Gaji ... ... ... 48 

Sumati ... •• ■ .• 104, 105, 111 

Snndarbans ... 151 



360 



INDEX 



Sundara ... 

Suo Rani 

Surath Bibi 

Suvarna Banikas 

Swandhyavati 

Syed 

Syed Sbalia Khandakar Javedali 

Sylhet ... 

Syrian languages 



Page. 
103, 104, 10.5, 106, 107, lOH, 109, 110, 111, 112 
im, 188, 182, 183 
115, 116 
63,64 
1C2 
195 
156 
151 
48 



Taimus 

Tajmahal 

Tamasffi 

Tangail 

Tantrik 

Tantrikism 

TSpai 

Tara 

Tartars ... 

Teutonic 

Tennyson 

ThSkur DSdSr Jhuli 

Thames 

Thakurmar Jhuli 

Thua 

Tilavande^wara 

Tipperah 

Tom Thumb 

Trigonometry 

Typical Selections 

Tuesday 

Tuirenn 

Turk 



... 163 

... 46 

... 46 

... 262 

161, 239, 328 

... 328 

31,32 

60, 270,' 271, 272, 273, 274, 321 

... 29 

... 43 

... 335 

,. 41, 193, 194, 262 

51 

... 16 

247, 248 

... 153 

1.17, 130, 141, 145, 146, 147, 150 

39,40 

... 80 

... 49 

... 92 

16, 17 

... 127, 128, 129, 130, 133, 184 



Udaipnr 
Udipur . . . 
Ujjhaya and Ojhfl 



145, 150 
... 145 
... 93 



^^^ INDEX .161 

Page. 

Ulysses ... ... ... ... ... 29 

Uma ... ,.. ... ... ... 66 

Unihar ... ... ... ... ... 128,129,130 

Upaiiishadaic ... ... ... ... ... 256 

Upadhyaya ... ... ... ... ... 93 

Urdu ... ... ... ... ... 160 

Utsava ... ... ... ... ... 148 

Uttarakanda ... ... ... ... ... 224 

Uzir ... ... ... ... 142, 143, 148, 197 



Vaikuntha ... ... ... ... ... 60 

Valmiki ... ... ... ... ... 46 

Vuisampayna ... ... ... ... ... 190 

Vaisjjava ... ... ... ... 15, 84 

Vaisnavisni ... ... ... ... ... 83 

Vedas ... ... ... • ... 56, 293 

Vedic ... ... ... ... 81, 228, 255, 256 

Vedic literature ... ... ... ... ... 254 

Vehest ... ... ... ... 101,102,131 

Vernacular literature ... ... ... ... 323 

Vidhata ... ... ... 60,270,271,274,321 

Vidhata purusa ... ... ... ... 79,261 

VidyiXSagara ... ... ... ... 192,193 

Vijayachandra ... ... ... ... 191, 192 

Vijaya-Vasanta ... ... 173, 174, 175, 176, 177, 178, 191 

Vikramajit ... ... ... ... 208,219 

Virat Nagar .,. ... ... ... ... 118 

Visha ... ... ... ... ... 21 

Vishaya ... ... ... ... ...21,22 

Visnu ... ... ... ... 85, 100, 153 

Visnu 9arma ... ... ... ... 48, 49 

Visnudut ... ... ... ... ..60 

Voja ... ••• ••• ••• ... 65 

Vyasa ... ... ... ... ••. 17 

w 

Wasir ... ... ••• ... ... 13 

Wuenschelbruthe ... ... ... ... ... 23 

46 



3tJZ 


INDEX 




Y 


Yama 




Yamadut 




Yogi 




Yugi 




Ynktikalpatarii 





Page. 
233 

60 
328 
262 

65 



Zodiac 

Zwehrn 



255 
13 



OPINIONS 

" HISTORY OF THE BENGALI LANGUAGE AND 
LITERATURE" (IN ENGLISH) 

BY 

RAI SAHIB DINESH CHANDRA SEN, B A. 

Publixlied by 
CALCUTTA UNIVERSITY 

Price— Rs. 12. Demy 8vo. pp. 1030, 
with illustrations. 

His Excellency Lord Hardinge of Fenshurst in his Con- 
vocation Address, dated the 16th March, 1912 as Chancellor of the 
Calcutta University: — 

" During the last four years also the University has, from time to 
time, appointed Readers on special subjects to foster investigation of 
important branches of learning amongst our advanced students. One 
of these Readers, Mr. Sen, has eml)odied his lectures on the History 
of Bengali Language and Literature from tlie earliest times tc the 
middle of the 19th century in a volume of . considerable merit, which 
he is about to supplement by another original coutribntion to the 
history of one of the most important vernaculnra m this couutrv. 
May I express the hope that this example will be followed eLsi-where, 
and that critical schools may be established for the vernacular lan- 
guages of India which have not aa yet received the attention that 
they deserve." 

His Excellency Lord Carmichael, Governor of Bengal, 
in his address on the occasion of his lajnng the Foundation Stone of the 
Romesh Chandra Saraswat Bhawan, dated the 20th November, 
1916:— 

" For long Romesh Chandra Dutt's History of the Literature of 
Bengal was the only work of its kind available to the general reader. 
The results of further study in this field have been made available to 
us by the publication of the learned and luminous lectures of Rai 
Sahib Dineachandra Sen. * * In the direction of the History 

of the Language and the Literature, Rai Sahib Pineschandra Sen ha§ 



U OPINIONS 

created the necessary interest bj his Typical Selections. It remains 
for the members of the Parishad to follow this lead and to carry on 
the work in the same spirit, of patient accurate research." 

Sir Asutosh mSookerjee, in his Convocation Address, dated 
the 13th March, 1909, as Vice-Chancellor of the Calcutta University : — 
. . " We have had a long series of luminous lectures from one of our 
own graduates, Babu Dineschandra Sen, on the fascinating subject of 
the History of the Bengali Language and Literature. These lectnros 
take a comprehensive view of the development of our vernacular, and 
their publication will unquestionably facilitate the historical investi- 
gation of the origin of the vernacular literature of this country, the 
study of which is avowedly one of the forpmnst objects of the New 
Regulations to promote." 

Sylvain Iievi (Paris) — "I cannot give you praises enough — your 
work i^ a, Cliintamani —n Ratnahara, No book about India would I 
compare with yours Never did I find such a realistic sense of litera- 
ture Pundit and Peasant, Yogi and Raja mix together in a Shakes- 
pearian way on the stage you have built up." 

Extract from a review by the same scholar in the " Bievue 
Critique " Jan. 1915 ; — (translated for the " Bengalee.") 

" One cannot praise too highly the work of Mr. Sen. A profound 

and original erudition has been associated with vivid imagination. 

■ The historian though relying on his documents has the temperament 

of an epic poet. He has likewise inherited the lyric genius of his 

race." 

. Ba>rth (Pdri.'^) — "I can approach your book as a learner, not 
as a judge." 

C. H. Tawney — " Your work shows vast research and much 
general culture." 

Vincent Smith — "' A work of profound learning and high value." 

p. W- Thomas — " Characterised by extensive erudition and inde- 
pendent research." 

E. J. Rapson — " I looked through it with great interest and 
great admiration for the knowledge and research to which it bears 
witness." 

p. K. Skrine — " Monumental woi-k — I have been revelling in the 
book which taught me much of which I was ignorant." 

E. B. Havell — " Most valuable book which every Anglo-Indian 
should read. I congratulate you most heartily on your very admij-able 
English and perfect lucidity of style." 

D. C- Phillot — " I can well understand the enthusiasm with 
which the work was received by scholars, for even to men unacquainted 



OPINIONS 111 

with your laiifrnnfro, i( onnnot Tail to ho ;i fjoiirro of pronf intprest and 
prolit." 

Ii. D- Barnett — " I conftrnfiilate von on liaving accomplished 
such an adniirahlo work." - - - ' ■ 

G. Hultzuh. — " Mr. Sen's valuable work on Beiif^alJ literature, a 
subject hirlierto unfamiliar to n)e, which I am now reading with fjreat 
interest." 

J. P. Blumliardt — " An extremely well-written and scholarly pro- 
duction, exhaustive in its wealth of materials and of immense value." 

T. W. Bihys Davids—" It is a most interesting and important 
work and reflects threat credit on your industry and research." 

Jules Bloch (Pnria) — " Your book I find an admirable one and 
wliich is th(\ only one of its kind in the whole of India." 

William Rothenstein- " T found the book surprisingly lull of 
suggestive information. It held me bound fiour beginning to end, 
in s})ite of my absolute ignorance of the language of which you write 
with obviously profound scholarship." 

Bmile Senart (Pnrh) — " I have gone through your book with 
lively interest and it appears to me to do the highest credit to your 
learning and method of working." ' 

Henry Van Dyke— (r. <S' ..4.) - "Your instructive pases which 
are full of new suggestions in regard to the richness and interest of the 
Bengali Language and Literature." 

C T. Winchester— (('. iS. .1.)— "A work of profound learning on 
a theme which demands the attention of all Western scholars." 

Prom a long review in the Times Literary Supplement, 
London, June 20, 1912 — " In his narration, as becomes one who is 
the soul of scholarly candour, he tells those, who can read him with 
sympathy and imagination more abont the Hindu mind and its attitude 
towards life than we can gather from 50 volumes of impressions of 
travel by Europeans. Loti's picturesque account of the rites practised 
in Travancore temples, and even M. Chevrillon's sj-nthesis of much 
browsing in Hindu Scriptures, seem faint records by the side of this 
unassuming tale of Hindu literature — ^Mr. Sen may well be proud of the 
lasting monument he has erected to the literature of his native Bengal." 

From a long review in the Athenaeum, March, 16, 1912 — "Mr. 
Sen may justly congratulate himself on rlie fact that in ihe middle age 
he has done more for the history of his national language and literature 
than any other writer of his own or indeed any time." 

From a long review in the Spectator, June 12, 1912— "A book of 
extraordinary intei-est to those who would make an impartial studv 
of the Bengali mentality and character- — a work which reflects the 



IV OPINIONS 

uf-mosi: civflit. on the oandoin-, industry and learning of its author. 
In its kind his book is a mastoi'piece — modest, learned, thorough and 
sympathetic. Perhaps no ot'ier man living has the learning and 
happy industry for the task he h^3 successfully accomplished." 

From a review by Mr. H. Beveridge in the Royal Asiatic 
Society's Journal, Jan. 1912.—" \t is a very full and interesting account 
of the development of the Bengali Literature. He has a power of 
pictui-esque writing... his descriptions are often eloquent." 

From a long review by S. K. RatcliiFe in " India,'^ I,ondon, 
March 15, 1912— "There is no more competent authority on the subject 
than Mr. Dineschandra Sen. The great value of the book is in its 
full and fresh treatment of the pre-English era and for this it would 
be difficult to give its author too high pi'aisp." 

From a long review by H. Kern iu the Bijdragen of the Royal 
Institute for 'Taal (translated by Dr. Kern himself) — "Fruit of investiga- 
tion carried through many years... highly interesting book. ..the 
reviewer has ail to admire in the pages of the work, nothing to 
criticise, for his whole knowledge is derived from it." 

From a review by Dr. Oldenberg in the Franhfurter Zistmig, 
December 3, 1911 (Translated by the late Dr. Thibaut)..." It is an 
important supplementation of the history of modern Sanskrit Litera- 
ture. The account of Chaitanya's influence on the poetical literature 
of Bengal contributes one of the most brilliant sections of the work." 

From a review in Deutsche Rundschan, April, 1912— " The 
picture which this loax-ned Bengali has painted for us with loving care 
of the literature of his native land deserves to be received with 
attentive and grateful respect." 

From a review in Luzac's Oriental List, London, May-June, 
1912 — "A work of inestimable value, full of interesting information, 
containing complete account of the writings of Bengali authors from 
the earliest time... It will undoubtedly find a place in every Oriental 
library as being the most complete and reliable standard work on the 
Bengali Language and Literature " 

From a review in the Indian Magazine, London, August, 1912 — 
"For Mr. Sen's erudition, his sturdy patriotism, his instructive percep- 
tion of the finer qualities in Bengali life and literature, the reader of 
his book must have a profound respect if he is to understand what 
modern Bengal is." 

From a long review in the Madras Mail, May 9, 1912, "A 
survey of the evolution of the Bengali letters by a student so 
competent, so exceptionallj' learned can hardly fail to be an important 
event in the world of criticism." 



OPINIONS V 

From a long roviow in the Fioueer, May 5, 1912 — "Mr. Sen is a 
typical student such as was common in niediaoval Pjurope — a lover of 
learning for learning's sake... He must be a poor judge of characters 
who can rise from a perusal of Mr. Sen's pages without a real respect 
and liking for the writer, for his sincerity, his industry, his enthusiasm 
in the cause of learning." 

From a review in Englishman, April 23, 1912 — " Only one who 
has completely identified himself with the subject could have mastered 
it so well as the author of this imposing book." 

From a review in the Empire, August 31, 1918 — "As a book of 
reference Mr. Sen's work will be found invaluable and he is to be 
congratulated on the result of his labours. It may well be said that 
he has proved what an Englisli enthusiast once said that 'Bengali 
unites the mellitiuousness of Italian with the power possessed by 
German for rendering complex ideas." 

From a review in the Indian Antiq^uary, December, 1912, by 
F. G. Fargiter : — " This book is the outcome of great research and 
study, on which the author deserves the warmest praise. He has 
explained the literature and the subjects treated in it with such 
fulness and in such detail as to make the whole plain to any reader. 
The folk-literature, the structure and style of the language, metre 
and rhyme, and many miscellaneous points are discussed in valuable 
notes. The tone is calm and the judgments appear to be generally 
fair." 



BANGA SAHITYA FABICHAYA 

OK 

TYPICAL SELECTIONS FROM OLD 
BENGALI LITERATURE 

BY 

Hai Sahib Dineschandra Sen, BA, 

2 vols. pp. 1911, Royal 8vu., with an Introdactioii in English running 

over 99 pages, published by the University of Calcutta. 

(With 10 coloured illustrations) Price Rs. 12). 

Sir George Grierson— "Invaluable wm-k That I have yet 

read through its 1900 pages I do not pretend, but what I have read 
has filled me with admiration for the industry and learning displayed 
It is a worthy sequel to your monumental History of Bengali Litera- 
ture, and of it Ave may sa.te]y say ^'finis coronat opus." -How I wish 
that a similar work could be compiled for other Indian languages, 
specially for Hindi." 

IS. B. Havell — " Two monumental volumes from old Bengali 
Literature. As I am not a Bengali scholar, it is impossible for me to 
appreciate at their full value the splendid results of your scholarship 
and research, but I have enjoyed reading your luminous and most 
instructive introduction which gives a clear insight into the subject. 
I was also very much interested in the illustrations, the reproduction 
of which from original paintings is vcrj- successful and creditable to 
Swadeshi work." 

H. Beveridge — " Two magnificent volumes of the Bauga Sahitya 

Parichaya I have read with interest Rasa Snndari's autobiography 

in your extracts." 

F- H. Skrine — " The two splendid volumes of Banga Sahitya 
Parichaya I am reading with pleasure and profit. They are a credit 
to your profound learning and to the University which has given them 
to the world." 

From a long review in The Times Literary Supplement, 
London, November 4, 1915 — "In June, 1912, in commenting on Mr. 
Sen's History of Bengali Language and Literature, we suggested that 
that work might usefully be supplemented by an authology of Bengali 
prose and poetry. Mr. §en has for many years been occuijied with 
the aid of other patriotic students of the mcditeval literature of Bengal 
in collecting manuscripts of forgotten or half-forgotten poems. In 
addition to these more or less valuable monuments of Bengali poetic 



OPINIONS Vll 

art, the cliief popular presses have published great niassies uii litei'ary 
matter, chiefly reli<j;ious verse. It can hardly be said that these piles 
of written and printed matter have ever been subjected to a critical 
or philolof^ical scrutiny. Their very existence was barely known to 
the Europeans, even to those who have studied the Bengali Language 
on the spot. Educated Bengalis themselves, until quite recent times, 
have been too busy with the arts and sciences of Europe to spare 
much time for indigenous treasures. That was the reason why we 
suggested the compiling of a critical chrestomathy for the benefit not 
only of European but of native scholars. The University of Calcutta 
prompted by the em.inent scholar Sir Asutosh Mookerjee, then Vice- 
Chancallor, had already anticipated this need it seems. It had shrunk 
(rightly, we think) from the enormous and expensive task of printing 
the MSS. recovered by the diligence and generosity of Mr. Sen and 
other inquirers and employed Jlr Sen to prepare the two bulky 
volumes now before us. The Calcutta Senate is to be congratulated 
on its enterprise and generosity." 

From a review in The A.theiiaeum, January 16, 1915—" We have 
already reviewed Mr. Sen's History of Bengali Language and Litera- 
ture and have rendered some account of his previous work in Bengali 
entitled Bhanga Bhasa Sahifya. Mr. Sen now supplies the means 
of checking his historical and critical conclusions in a copious 

collection of Bengali verse Here are the materials carefully 

arranged and annotated with a skill and learning such as probably no 
one else living can command." 

From a review by Mr. P. G. Pargiter— in the Royal Asiatic 
Society's Journal — " These two portly volumes of some 2,100 pages 
are an anthology of Bengali poetry and prose from the 8th to the 
19th century and are auxiliary to the same author's History of Bengali 
Language and Literature which was reviewed by Mr. Beveridge in 

this Journal for 1912 The Vice-Chancellor of the Calcutta Uni- 

versity who was consulted, decided that the best preliminary measure 
would be to make and publish typical selections. The University 
then entrusted that duty to Babu Dinesh Chandra Sen ; this work 
is the outcome of his researches... There can be no question that 
Dinesh Babu was the person most competent to undertake the task 
and in these two volumes we have without doubt a good presentment 
jf typical specimens of old Bengali-literature... The style of the 
big book is excellent, its printing is fine, and it is embellished with 
well-executed reproductions in colour of some old painting. Is haa 
also a copious index. 



47 



THE 

YAISNAVA LITERATURE OF MEDIAEVAL BENGAL 

{Beinfj lecturer delivered os Reader lo the Unhernty of 
Calcutta. '\ 

BY 

RAI SAHIB DINESH CHANDRA SEN, B.A. 

JUST PUBLISHED BY THE 

CALCUTTA UNIVERSITY 
Demy 8vo. 257 pages 

WITH A PREFACE BY 

J. D. ANDERSON, Esq., I,C.S., (Retired) 

Price Bs. 2 only. 

Sir George Grierson : — Very valuable book I am reading it 

witli the greatest interest and am learning much from it. 

William Rotheustein. — I was delighted with your book, I cannot 
tell you how touched I am to be reminded of that side of your 
beloved country which appeals to me most — a side of which I was able 
to perceive something during my own too short visit to India. In 
the faces of the best of your countrymen I was able to see that spirit 
of which you write so charmingly in your book. I am able to recall 
these faces and figures as if they were before me. I hear the tinkle 
of the temple-bells along the ghats of Benares, the voices of the 
women as they sing their sacred songs crossing the noble river in 
the boats at sunset and I sit once more with the austere Sanyasin 
friends I shall never, I fear, see more. But though I shall not look 
upon the face of India again, the vision I had of it will fill my eyes 
through life, and the love I feel for your country will remain to 
enrich my own vision of life, so long as I am capable of using it. 
Though I can only read you in English, the spirit in which you 
write is to me so true an Indian spirit, that it shines through our own 
idiom, and carries me, I said before, straight to the banks of your 
sacred rivers, to the bathing tanks and white shrine and temples of 
your well remembered villages and tanks. So once more I send you 
y thanks for the magic carpet you sent me, upon which my soul can 



OPINIONS ix 

retnrn to your dear land. May the songs of wliicli yoii write to me 
remain to till this land with their fragrance ; yon will have need of 
them, in the years before yon, as we have need of all that is best in 
the songs of our own seers in the dark waters through whicli we are 
steering. 

rroni a long review in the Times Literary Supplement, 
2nd August, 1917 

The Vaisnava Literature of Mediaeval Bengal. By Rai Sahib 
Dineschandra Sen. (Calcutta : — The University.) 

Though the generalisation that all Hindus not belonging to modern 
reform movements are Saivas or Vaisnavas is much too wide, there 
are the two main divisions in the bewildering mass of sects which 
make up the 217,000,000 of Hindus, and at many points they overlap 
each other. The attempts made in the 1901 Census to collect informa- 
tion regarding sects led to such unsatisfactory and partial results 
that they were not repeated in the last decennial enumeration. But it 
is unquestionable that the Vaisnavas — the worshipi3ers of Krishna — 
are dominant in Bengal, owing to the great success of the reformed 
cult established by Ghaitanya, a contemporary of Martin Luther. The 
doctrine of Bhakti or religious devotion, which he taught still 
flourishes in Bengal, and the four lectures of the Reader to the 
University of Calcutta in Bengali here reproduced provide an instruc- 
tive guide to its expression in the literature of the country during the 
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The first part of the book is 
devoted to the earl}' laeiiod of Vaisnava literature, dating from the 
eleventh century. 

The Rai Sahib is filled wiih a most patriotic love of his nation and 
its literature, and has done more than any contemporary countryman to 
widen our knowledge of them. His bulky volume recording the history 
of Bengali Language and Literature from the eai'liest times to the 
middle of the nineteenth century is accepted by Orientalists as the 
most complete and authoritative work on the subject. The industry 
and learning displayed therein and in his thought is still dominant in 
modern Bengali literature not directly Vaisnava in import. 

There is refreshing ingenuousness" in his claim, " my industry 
has been great," and the "forbearing indulgence" for which he asks 
if he has failed from any lack of powers, will readily be granted in view 
of the enthusiasm for his subject which somewhat narrows the strictly 
critical value of his estimates, biit does not impair the sustained human 
interest of the book. 



X OPINIONS 

Chaitanya clearly taught, as these pages show, that the Krishna of 
the Mahabharata, the great chieftain and ally of the Pandava brother, 
was not the Krishna of Brindaban. The latter, said the reformer, to 
Rupa, the author of those masterpieces of Sanskrit drama, the 
Vidagdha Madhava and the Lalita Madhava, was love's very self and an 
embodiment of sweetness : and the more material glories of Mathura 
should not be confused with the spiritual conquests of Brindabon. The 
amours of Krishna with Radha and the milkmaids of Brindabon are 
staple tlieines of the literature associated with the worship of the God 
of the seductive flute. But Mr. Sen repeatedly insists that the love 
discussed in the literature he has so closely studied is spiritual and 
mystic, although usually presented in sensuous garb. Chaitanya who 
had frequent ecstasies of spiritual joy ; Rupa, who classified the emo- 
tions of love in 360 groups and the other authors whose careers are 
here traced were hermits of unspotted life and religious devotion. The 
old passionate desire for union which they taught is still dominant in 
modern Bengali literature not directly Vaisnava in import. As Mr. J. 
D. Anderson points out in his preface, the influence of Chaitanya's 
teaching may be detected in the mystical verses of Tagore. 



Chaitanya and His Companions 

From a lono; review in the Times Literary supplement 25tl( April, 
1918:- 

" This delif^btful and interestiag little book is the ontcome of a 
series of lectures aupplementincr the learned discourses which Mr. Sen 
made the material of his " Baisiiava Literature of Mediaeval Bengal " 
reviewed by ns on August 2, 1917. 

It is an authentic record of the reli<^ious emotion and tliought of 
that wonderful province of Bengal which few of its Western rulers, we 
suspect, have rightly comprehended, not from lack of friendly sympathy 
but simply from want of precisely what Mr. Sen, better than any one 
living, better than Sir Rabindranath Tagore himself, can supply. 

It is indeed, no easy matter for a Western Protestant to compre- 
hend, save by friendship and sympathy with just such a pious Hindu 
as Mr, Sen, what is the doctrine of an istadevata, a '' favourite deit}' " 
of Hindu pious adoration. In his native tongue Mr. Sen has written 
charming little books, based on ancient legends, which bring us very 
near the heart of this simple mystery, akin, we suppo.^e, to the cult of 
particular saints in Catholic countries. Such for instance, is his 
charming tale of " Sati," the Aryan spouse cf the rough Himalayan 
ascetic god Siva. The tale is dedicated, in words of delightfully 
candid respect and affection, to the devoted and loving wives of Bengal, 
whose virtues as wives and mothers are the admiration of all who 
know their country. Your pious Vaisnava can, without any hesitation 
or difficulty, transfer his thoughts from the symbolical amorism of 
Krisna to that other strange creation-legend of Him of the Blue Throat 
who, to save God's creatures, swallowed the poison cast np at the 
Churning of the Ocean and bears the mystic stigma to this day. Well, 
we have our traditions, legends, mysteries, and as Miss Underbill and 
others tell us, our own ecstatic mystics, who find such ineffable joy in 
loving God as, our Hindu friends tell us, the divine Radha experienced 
in her sweet surrender to the inspired wooing of Krisna. The im- 
portant thing for us, as students of life and literature is to note how 
these old communal beliefs influence and develop that wonderful record 
of human thought and emotion wrought for us b)' the imaginative 
writers of verse and prose, the patient artists of the pen. 

When all is said, there remains the odd indefnnable charm which 
attaches to all that Dinesh Chandra Sen writes, whether in English or 



Xll OPINIONS 

his nativre Bengali. In his book breathe a native candour and piety which 
somehow remind us of the classical writers familiar to our boyhood. 
In truth, he is a belated contemporary of, say, Plutarch, and attacks his 
biographical task in much the same spirit. We hope his latest book 
will be widely (and sympathetically) read." 

The Vaisnava Literature of Mediaeval Bengal 

J. D. Anderson, Esq. — retired I. C. S., Professor, Cambridge Univer- 
sity ; — I have read more than half of it I propose to send with it, if 
circumstances leave me the courage to write it, a short Preface (which 
I hope you will read with pleasure even if you do not think it worth 
publication) explaining why, in the judgment of a veiy old student of 
all your works, your book should be read not only in Calcutta, but in 
London and Paris, and Oxford and Cambridge, I have read it and am 
reading it with great delight and profit and very real sympathj'. Think 
how great must be the charm of your topic and your treatment when 
in this awful year of anxiety and sorrow, the reading of your delightful 
MS. has given me rest and refreshment in a time when every po.^t, 
every knock at the door maj' bring us sorrow. 

I write this in a frantic hurry — the mail goes to-day — in order to go 
back to your most interseting and fascinating pages. 

History of the Bengali Language and Literature 

Extract from a long review by Sylvain Levi (Paris) in the " Revue 
Critique" Jan. 1915;— translated for the Bengalee). 

' One cannot praise too highly the work of Mr. Sen. A profound 
and original erudition hns been associated with a vivid imagination. 
The works which he analyses are brought back to life with the con- 
sciousness of the original author.-^, with the movement of the multitudes 
who patronised them n.nd with the landscape which encircled them. 
The liistorian, though relying on his documents, has the temperament 
of an epic poet. He has likewise inherited the lyrical genius of his 
race. His enthusiastic sympathy vibrates through all his descriptions. 
Convinced as every Hindu is of the superiority of the Brahmanic 
civilization, he exalts its glories and palliates its shortcomings, if he 
does not approve of them he would excuse them. He tries to be just 
to Buddhism and Islam; in the main he is grateful to them for their 
contribution to the making of India. He praises; with eloquent ardour 
the early English missionaries of Christianity. 

The appreciation of life so rare in our book-knowledge, runs 
throughout the work ; one reads these thousand pages with a sus- 
tained interest ; and one loses sight of the enormous labour which it 



OPINIONS Xlll 

)ircsiipp()ses ; one easily slips into the treasure ef infuruiatii)n wliich it 
l)rosouts. The individual extracts (juotcd at the bottom of the pages 
offers a unique anthology of Bengali. The linguistic i-ernarks scattered 
in the extracts abound in new and precious materials. ^Ir. Son has 
given to his country a model u-hich it would be dillicult to surpass ; 
we oidy wish that it nuiy provoke in other parts of India emulations 
to follow it." 



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