Folk-tales of Bengal

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FOLK-TALES OF BENGAL

 

 
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MACMILLAN AND CO., Limited
londonbombaycalcutta
melbourne

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
new yorkbostonchicago
dallassan francisco

THE MACMILLAN CO. OF CANADA. Ltd.
toronto

 

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"She rushed out of the palace ... and came to the upper world."

FOLK-TALES OF
BENGAL

 

BY THE
REV. LAL BEHARI DAY
AUTHOR OF 'BENGAL PEASANT LIFE,' ETC.

 

WITH 32 ILLUSTRATIONS IN COLOUR
BY WARWICK GOBLE

 

MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED
ST. MARTIN'S STREET, LONDON
1912

 

 

COPYRIGHT


First Edition 1883
With Coloured Illustrations by Warwick Goble, 1912

 

 

TO
RICHARD CARNAC TEMPLE
CAPTAIN, BENGAL STAFF CORPS

F.R.G.S., M.R.A.S., M.A.I., ETC.

WHO FIRST SUGGESTED TO THE WRITER

THE IDEA OF COLLECTING

THESE TALES

AND WHO IS DOING SO MUCH

IN THE CAUSE OF INDIAN FOLK-LORE

THIS LITTLE BOOK

IS INSCRIBED

 

 

PREFACE

In my Peasant Life in Bengal I make the peasant boy Govinda spend some hours every evening in listening to stories told by an old woman, who was called Sambhu's mother, and who was the best story-teller in the village. On reading that passage, Captain R. C. Temple, of the Bengal Staff Corps, son of the distinguished Indian administrator Sir Richard Temple, wrote to me to say how interesting it would be to get a collection of those unwritten stories which old women in India recite to little children in the evenings, and to ask whether I could not make such a collection. As I was no stranger to the Mährchen of the Brothers Grimm, to the Norse Tales so admirably told by Dasent, to Arnason's Icelandic Stories translated by Powell, to the Highland Stories done into English by Campbell, and to the fairy stories collected by other writers, and as I believed that the collection suggested would be a contribution, however slight, to that daily increasing literature of folk-lore and comparative mythology which, like comparative philosophy, proves that the swarthy and half-naked peasant on the banks of the Ganges is a cousin, albeit of the hundredth remove, to the fair-skinned and well-dressed Englishman on the banks of the Thames, I readily caught up the idea and cast about for materials. But where was an old story-telling woman to be got? I had myself, when a little boy, heard hundreds—it would be no exaggeration to say thousands—of fairy tales from that same old woman, Sambhu's mother—for she was no fictitious person; she actually lived in the flesh and bore that name; but I had nearly forgotten those stories, at any rate they had all got confused in my head, the tail of one story being joined to the head of another, and the head of a third to the tail of a fourth. How I wished that poor Sambhu's mother had been alive! But she had gone long, long ago, to that bourne from which no traveller returns, and her son Sambhu, too, had followed her thither. After a great deal of search I found my Gammer Grethel—though not half so old as the Frau Viehmännin of Hesse-Cassel—in the person of a Bengali Christian woman, who, when a little girl and living in her heathen home, had heard many stories from her old grandmother. She was a good story-teller, but her stock was not large; and after I had heard ten from her I had to look about for fresh sources. An old Brahman told me two stories; an old barber, three; an old servant of mine told me two; and the rest I heard from another old Brahman. None of my authorities knew English; they all told the stories in Bengali, and I translated them into English when I came home. I heard many more stories than those contained in the following pages; but I rejected a great many, as they appeared to me to contain spurious additions to the original stories which I had heard when a boy. I have reason to believe that the stories given in this book are a genuine sample of the old old stories told by old Bengali women from age to age through a hundred generations.

Sambhu's mother used always to end every one of her stories—and every orthodox Bengali story-teller does the same—with repeating the following formula:—

Thus my story endeth,
The Natiya-thorn withereth.
"Why, O Natiya-thorn, dost wither?"
"Why does thy cow on me browse?"
"Why, O cow, dost thou browse?"
"Why does thy neat-herd not tend me?"
"Why, O neat-herd, dost not tend the cow?"
"Why does thy daughter-in-law not give me rice?"
"Why, daughter-in-law, dost not give rice?"
"Why does my child cry?"
"Why, O child, dost thou cry?"
"Why does the ant bite me?"
"Why, O ant, dost thou bite?"
Koot! koot! koot!

What these lines mean, why they are repeated at the end of every story, and what the connection is of the several parts to one another, I do not know. Perhaps the whole is a string of nonsense purposely put together to amuse little children.

LAL BEHARI DAY.

Hooghly College,
February 27, 1883.

 

CONTENTS

page

1.
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
1
2.
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
16
3.
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
51
4.
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
61
5.
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
89
6.
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
104
7.
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
113
8.
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
119
9.
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
132
10.
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
140
11.
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
152
12.
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
173
13.
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
178
14.
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
188
15.
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
192
16.
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
200
17.
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
211
18.
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
217
19.
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
227
20.
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
247
21.
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
251
22.
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
269
 

ILLUSTRATIONS

facing page

"She rushed out of the palace . . . and came to the upper world" (p. 26)
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
Frontispiece
"The Suo queen went to the door with a handful of rice"
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
1
"The prince revived, and, walking about, saw a human figure near the gate"
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
9
"She took up the jewel in her hand, left the palace, and successfully reached the upper world"
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
22
"He rushed out of his hiding-place and killed the serpent"
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
43
"Instead of sweetmeats about a score of demons"
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
56
"At the door of which stood a lady of exquisite beauty"
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
62
"In a trice she woke up, sat up in her bed, and eyeing the stranger, inquired who he was"
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
77
The Girl of the Wall-Almirah
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
90
"On a sudden an elephant gorgeously caparisoned shot across his path"
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
95
"They then set out on their journey"
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
106
"A monstrous bird comes out apparently from the palace"
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
117
"Hundreds of peacocks of gorgeous plumes came to the embankments to eat the khai"
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
123
"'You would adorn the palace of the mightiest sovereign'"
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
138

"He saw a beautiful woman coming out of the palace"
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
141
"'Husband, take up all this large quantity of gold and these precious stones'"
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
145
"They ran away in great fear, leaving behind them the money and jewels"
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
162
"The camel-driver alighted, tied the camel to a tree on the spot, and began smoking"
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
170
"'How is it that you have returned so soon?'"
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
174
"At dawn he used to cull flowers in the forest"
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
181
"The Brahman's wife had occasion to go to the tank, and as she went she brushed by a Sankchinni"
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
188
"The moment the first stroke was given, a great many ghosts rushed towards the Brahman"
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
194
"The lady, king, and hiraman all reached the king's capital safe and sound"
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
210
"'What princess ever puts only one ruby in her hair?'"
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
214
"Coming up to the surface they climbed into the boat"
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
216
"The jackal . . . opened his bundle of betel-leaves, put some into his mouth, and began chewing them"
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
218
"A bright light, like that of the moon, was seen shining on his forehead"
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
237
"The six queens tried to comfort him"
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
238
"'Now, barber, I am going to destroy you. Who will protect you?'"
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
248
"They approached a magnificent pile of buildings"
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
259
"Thus the princess was deserted"
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
266
"When she got out of the water, what a change was seen in her!"
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This work was published before January 1, 1924, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.