Folk-Lore/Volume 4/Balochi Tales, 4

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832116Folk-Lore/Volume 4 — Number 4 (December)
Balochi Tales, III.
M. Longworth Dames



The Abduction of Samri.

[’Abdullah Khan was the Brahoi Chief or Khan of Kilat at the end of the last century. His dominions extended into the Indus Valley, and included a tract known as Harrand-Dajil, which adjoined the territory under the Mirrani Nawab of Dera Ghazi Khan, all nominally forming part of the kingdom of the Durannis. Jampur is the chief place in the Nawab's dominions, near the boundary of what was then the Khan of Kilat's country. ’Abdullah Khan invaded the Nawab's country, and during this invasion the adventure of Samri is supposed to have occurred.]

WHEN ’Abdullah Khan was Khan of Kilat, he went to war with the Nawab of Dera Ghazi Khan. He assembled an army, and came down by the way of Syahaf At that time the chief of the Mazari tribe was Mitha Khan. ’Abdullah Khan sent for him, and told him to bring his armed followers also, and Mitha Khan joined the Khan with a hundred horsemen. All the Balochistan chiefs and feudatories, Highlanders and Lowlanders (Sarawan and Jahlawan), were with him, but the Gorchanis and Drishaks, and other tribes of the Indus Valley, did not join him. He marched by the Syah-Tankh Pass, by the Sham plain, and by the Chachar Pass, and came out into the plains at Harrand. There he heard that the Nawab had fixed on Jampur as the place at which his army was to assemble, so he gathered together all his Amirs for a consultation. Mitha Khan advised him to strike direct at Dera Ghazi Khan, "for", he said, "when they hear that your army is marching on Dera, everyone will hurry away to protect his home and wife and children, and the Nawab's army will melt away. Then turn and fall upon Jampur, and seize it." ’Abdullah Khan said this was good advice, and he would follow it, so he set his face towards Dera, and the Nawab's army went to pieces. Then ’Abdullah Khan attacked Jampur and took it, and remained there for a month.

A certain Mochi (leather-dresser) who lived at Jampur had a very beautiful wife named Samri, and she was taken prisoner by Muhabbat Khan (’Abdullah Khan's son). After the victory, the army went back again to Khorasan,[1] and Muhabbat Khan took away Samri with him, and made her his concubine, and loved her greatly. Samri's husband followed her up, and went to 'Abdullah Khan at Kilat to complain, and begged him, in God's name, to give him Samri back again; but ’Abdullah Khan said: "Muhabbat Khan is that sort of man, that if he hears that Samri's husband has come, he will just kill you; but this I will do for you. Go round all through my country as far as my Khanship extends, and look round till you find a maiden to suit you, and I give you my word I will marry her to you." But the Mochi said, "I care for no other but Samri."

He stayed for a year at Kilat, but at last he was told to go, and he went away, and came down to the plains to the Shrine of Jive Lal,[2] and there he stayed for a year as a petitioner at the shrine, and fetched water for the pilgrims to the shrine. After a year had passed, one night an order came to him from Jive Lai as follows: "In Jampur there live certain eunuchs, and with them is a poor faqīr who takes out their donkeys to graze. Go to him ; he will get Samri back for you." So he returned thence, and came to Jampur, and went to look for the faqīr, and saw him grazing the donkeys. The faqīr saw the Mochi, and without waiting for him to speak, he said, "Had not Jive Lai power enough to do it himself, that he must send you to me?" The Mochi said, "He did send me to you." Then the faqīr said, "Now go home, and take your ease at your house, and come to me again on the day of the eunuchs' sports at Jampur. When I am dancing in the middle of them, and am happy, come up and give a pull at the hem of my garment." One day, when the eunuchs had a great dance, and the faqīr was intoxicated, and was dancing in the midst of them, the Mochi came up to him and pulled the hem of his garment. On this the faqīr clapped his hands and cried out, "Samri is come! Samri is come!" Just then a number of people came running up to congratulate the Mochi on Samri's return, and said, "Samri has come back, and is sitting at your house." The Mochi comes home and finds Samri sitting there with moist dough on her hands. They asked her how she had come, and she said, "I was at Kilat, and was kneading the dough for Muhabbat Khan's bread, for he loved me so that he would eat no bread made by the hands of anyone else, but I must bake it for him. As I kneaded, a green fly came flying round in front of my eyes. I closed my eyes and waved my hand to drive it away, and I know nothing more but that I found myself back in my house at Jampur."

And so the Mochi and Samri lived happy together, and Muhabbat Khan was left at Kilat.


Kismat Pari.

A king who was childless, and asked for the prayers of holy men, was told by one of them to send his wife to the bank of the river, and let her sit there and pray, and God would grant him a son. So the king said to his wife: "Go and sit for a night on the river-bank; perchance God may grant our desire." The queen went out and sat by the river-side, and as she sat and as she prayed a white-bearded man[3] came forth from the waters of the river, and clapped her on the back with his hand, and said: "Go home and be happy; God will give you a son." The queen went home, and in full time she conceived and bore a son. After several years, the prince grew up, and by day he used to go out to hunt, and in the evening he would take the air in the garden. One day, while wandering round, he heard a splashing sound, as if some one was bathing in the pond. Coming closer up, he saw a Pari who had been bathing, and was putting on her clothes. The prince said, "Who are you?" and she replied, "I am a Pari. My name is Kismat Pari"; and, saying this, she spread her wings and flew away towards the sky. The prince came home and said nothing, but lay down to rest. Some days after the Wazir said to the king, "Why is your son so sad?" The king sent for his son and asked what was the matter with him ; but the prince only said, "Oh, Kismat Pari!" Not another word would he say. Then the king said: "There is a faqīr who lives outside the town; he will tell you about her." The prince went out to where the faqīr lived, and found him with little boys playing all round him. Some were jumping over him, and others pushing him, and others pulling him by the ear. The prince stood there and said nothing. The faqīr said, "Prince, why don't you come and play with me like the others?" But the prince only said, "Oh, show me Kismat Pari." Then the faqīr pointed with his hand and said, "Do you see that town?" The prince looked in that direction, and a town became visible to him. Then the faqīr said, "Go there"; and the prince started off. It was a long way off, though the faqīr, by his magic, had made it appear near; and it took him eight days to get there. He went wandering round till he came to a garden, and in the garden he saw a bed, and bedding spread out upon it. The prince lay down on the bed and went to sleep. Now that bed belonged to Kismat Pari. She came up and saw a man sleeping on her bed. She woke him up, and said, "Who are you, sleeping on my bed?" The prince said: "I am the son of a king." Kismat Pari was delighted at hearing this, and said: "I made a vow that I would marry the man who came and lay down on my bed. Now I am very happy, because a king's son has come, and I will marry you." She went to her father and mother, and demanded that they should marry her to the prince at once. But they said: "We will not marry you to him, for these mortals have but a short life, while we Paris live for two thousand years." Kismat Pari said : "I made a vow I would marry no other; but her father replied, "But I say, and your mother says, that we will never give you to him." Kismat Pari said: "I am ready to marry him according to the law of the Kuran: it is not for you to stop me. Come with me, and let us go before the Prophet and obtain a judgment from him. If the Prophet permits me, I will marry him; and if he does not permit me, I will not marry him." Her father said: "Come, I will go with you." So Kismat Pari, and her father and mother, all started off and came before the Prophet's judgment-seat; and she stated her case, and her parents stated theirs. Just at that time a horse harnessed with golden trappings came to the prince and stood before him, and said: "Mount on my back, and I will show you a grand sight." The prince mounted, and the horse flew straight up to the Prophet's hall of judgment, and he saw Kismat Pari and her parents standing before the Prophet.

Then the horse turned round and came back to the place he started from. The prince alighted and sat down on the bed. Looking up, he saw that the horse had gone, and a donkey ready saddled was standing in its place. The donkey said: "The horse showed you a fine sight, now mount on my back, and I'll show you a sight, too." He mounted the donkey, and it flew off with him to his own father's town, and there he got down. The prince and Kismat Pari never met again, but they say they are still wandering about the world looking for each other.


A Legend of Shah-Jehan.

[This and the following story are related of Shah-Jehan, the celebrated Mughal Emperor, son of Jehangir and father of Aurangzeb. The first story is merely an example of the way in which old legends attach themselves to well-known names. The second story, on the other hand, is a popular version of an actual historical fact, the rebellion of Aurangzeb against his father. The allusion to Nur-Jehan, and the mysterious influence she had over her husband, is worth notice as a popular explanation of the power she exercised over her husband. Shah-Jehan is here substituted for his father Jehangir, who was Nur-Jehan's real husband.]

A certain man who had no son was accosted by a faqīr, who begged for alms, but he said: "I have nothing to give you; you faqīrs plunder the country. But if you will pray that I may have a son I will give you whatever you ask for." The faqīr said: "To-night I will rest at your house, and if I see anything I will pray for you, and if not, I will go my way." That night the faqīr slept there, and in the morning he arose and said: "By the divine order a son will be born to you, but when your son grows up, King Shah-Jehan will kill him." The other replied, "I cannot hide him from God, but I can hide him from King Shah-Jehan"; and with that he gave the faqīr a present, and he went his way.

By God's mercy a son was born to him, and he told his wife and her handmaidens to carry the boy out into the wilderness and make a dwelling-place for him there. So they went into the wilderness and dug out a hollow place underground, and there they made his home. The father having arranged for their maintenance, left them there and came home.

Some years passed, and one day it so happened that two men had a dispute. One of them said that God could only do to each man what was written upon his forehead on the day of his birth, and the other said that God was bound by no writing, but could act according as He thought best. At last they said: "Come, let us go before King Shah-Jehan, and get a decision on this point." They came before the king, and cried out: "O King, judge between us." The king said: "State your case," and they told him all about their dispute. King Shah-Jehan said to them: "Wait here, while I go and wash my face and hands, and say my prayers; I will then come back and decide your case." The king took up a basin of water and went out. He put down the basin, and then he saw a most beautiful bird perched close by. The king thought to himself, "Before I wash I must catch that bird and look at it." He caught the bird by the leg, and it immediately soared into the air and carried Shah-Jehan with it up to the sky, and at last descended at a place in the midst of a barren wilderness. The bird flew off, and left the king there bewildered. The king began to walk about, and spied the tracks of men, and, following these tracks, he came upon a place hollowed out under the ground, and he saw a man sitting there. The place was fitted up as a dwelling-place, with a bedstead and other furniture. The man hailed him with "Welcome, King Shah-Jehan!" The king was astonished, and wondered how this man, whom he did not know, could recognise him. The man again called out, "King! come in here." The king went in, and said: "How did you know me?" The man replied, "You are my death-angel, and have come here to slay me." The king replied, "Why should I slay you? Have I any quarrel with you?" The man then prepared some food, and laid it out, and they ate together. Shah-Jehan had a pair of scissors with which he ate his food, and put morsels into his companion's mouth also, but while he was doing this the man sneezed and the scissors ran into the back of his mouth, and he fell down dead. The king was much distressed that this man had met his death at his hands, and he immediately came out of the underground chamber, and saw the same bird which had brought him there standing by. Again he caught it by the leg, and again it flew up, carrying the king with it, and put him down at his own palace.

The basin filled with water was lying there, and the two men were waiting for the decision of their dispute. On seeing the king they said: "O king! how is it that you have been able to say your prayers and come back again so quickly?" The king thought to himself, "I have been carried away by a bird, and thrown down in the desert, and I have killed a man, and come all the way back again, and yet they say, 'How quick you have been about your prayers!'" Then he said to them: "What have you to do with my prayers? Attend to your own suit." On this they asked him for his decision, and Shah-Jehan said: "To every man that fate will come which was written on his first day," and so the suit was decided.


Shah-Jehan and Aurangzeb.

Shah-Jehan had a wife named Nur-Jehan,[4] whom he loved greatly. Whenever the king sat down to deliver judgments Nur-Jehan used to come and place her hand on the middle of his back (and so influence him). One day a poor man came and complained that Nur-Jehan's brother had robbed him of his wife. Shah-Jehan ordered two chaldrons of oil to be heated over a fire, and when the oil began to boil, and was as hot as fire, he sent for Nur-Jehan's brother, and asked him, "Did you carry off this poor man's wife?" "Yes," he answered, "I carried her off." Then the king said to his followers: "Take him and throw him into the oil; let him burn." When this had been done, Nur-Jehan said: "The king has done well, in that he has thrown him into boiling oil." Then the king said to Nur-Jehan, "The other chaldron was prepared for thee, and hadst thou said a word for thy brother, I had thrown thee into it." That was a judgment of King Shah-Jehan's!

Many years passed, and Shah-Jehan had three sons, whom he stationed each in a separate city. One day the king said to his wazir: "Go on a tour round the country, and see my sons also, and report to me which of them should be king after me." The wazir started off towards the town where the eldest son was stationed. The prince sent out his army to meet him, and received him honourably, and feasted and flattered him, thinking, "He may praise me to the king." The second prince, also, when the wazir came to him, served him in every way, and gave him presents. Then the wazir went off to Aurangzeb, the third prince. Aurangzeb neither sent out his troops to meet him, nor did him any honour. The wazir came and alighted outside the town, and sent this message to Aurangzeb: "I have come to visit you, and whenever it is your pleasure I will pay you my respects." Aurangzeb sent back, saying: "I will send for you myself in two days." When the next day but one arrived, Aurangzeb had all the ground round his palace inundated, and he sat in his palace in the middle, reading the Kuran. Then he sent to the wazir to come and pay his respects. The wazir came in a carriage from his camping-ground, and when he approached the palace he had to get down and wade through the water. When he was announced, Aurangzeb said: "I have not finished my reading of the Kuran yet. He cannot come in; let him wait." The staff-bearers stopped the wazir, saying: "Prince Aurangzeb has not done reading the Kuran yet; when he has finished we will let you in." The wazir had to stand in the mud and water, and could not sit down for fear of dirtying his clothes. When Aurangzeb had had enough of the Kuran, he said: "Let the wazir come in." The wazir came in, and the prince took him by the hand, and greeted him, and, after a little conversation, he gave him his dismissal. The wazir went by forced marches, lading and unlading, to where King Shah-Jehan was. The king asked him which of the princes he thought would rule after him, and he replied: "Your youngest son, Aurangzeb."

A year afterwards Aurangzeb wrote to his father, saying: "I am at the point of death, come to see me, for you are my father." Shah-Jehan prepared to go; saying: "My son is ill, I must go to see him." The wazir said: "Do not go, O king ; I will not allow you to go, Aurangzeb will seize you." But the king said: "Aurangzeb writes that he is very ill, and at the point of death. I will go to see him." The wazir still said: "and I tell you, do not go." The king said: "I certainly will go." Then the wazir said: "Since you are not to be stopped, but are determined to go, give me a letter to say that I warned you not to go, but you did not take my advice." The king then wrote a paper to this effect, and gave it to the wazir, and set out. Marching daily, he arrived at Aurangzeb's town. Aurangzeb had instructed his followers to say to the king, on his arrival, "Aurangzeb is very ill." On hearing this, the king came to Aurangzeb's palace. Aurangzeb directed his troops to surround the palace on all four sides. He came to meet his father, bringing with him some fetters of gold, and he said to his father: "Put these fetters on your feet respectfully, or I will have you killed." Shah-Jehan took the fetters and put them on his feet, and Aurangzeb kept him as a prisoner. He had the royal kettle-drums beaten, and made a proclamation that Shah-Jehan was a prisoner, and Aurangzeb was king of the land. So Aurangzeb became king, and all the royal army and possessions came into his hands. He sent for the wazir and said: "I am going to have you hanged, because you had seen me and knew me, and yet you did not stop the king, but allowed him to come to visit me." The wazir replied, saying: "I told his majesty not to go, but he would not listen to me, and this paper which the king wrote and gave to me will prove it." Aurangzeb read it, and then said: "There is no doubt that you did warn him, and you are to be praised for it. I therefore appoint you my wazir."

  1. That is, the plateau above the Sulamian Mountains; what is now Northern Balochistan and Southern Afghanistan, not the Khorassan of our maps.
  2. At Schwan in Sindh.
  3. This is Khwaja Khizr, the river-saint of the Indus.
  4. Nur-Jehan was, as a matter of fact, the wife of the Emperor Jehangir. She is Moore's "Nourmahal".