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HOW RAJA RASÂLU JOURNEYED TO THE CITY OF KING SARKAP

NOW, after he had reigned a while in Hodinagari, Rasâlu gave up his kingdom, and started off to play chaupur with King Sarkap.[1] And as he journeyed there came a fierce storm of thunder and lightning, so that he sought shelter, and found none save an old graveyard, where a headless corpse lay upon the ground. So lonesome was it that even the corpse seemed company, and Rasâlu, sitting down beside it, said

'There is no one here, nor far nor near,

Save this breathless corpse so cold and grim;

Would God he might come to life again,

'Twould be less lonely to talk to him.'[2]

And immediately the headless corpse arose and sat beside Raja Rasâlu. And he, nothing astonished, said to it

'The storm beats fierce and loud,

The clouds rise thick in the west;

What ails thy grave and thy shroud,

O corpse, that thou canst not rest?'

Then the headless corpse replied

'On earth I was even as thou,

My turban awry like a king,

My head with the highest, I trow,

Having my fun and my fling,

Fighting my foes like a brave,

Living my life with a swing.

And, now I am dead,

Sins, heavy as lead,

Will give me no rest in my grave!'[3]

So the night passed on, dark and dreary, while Rasâlu sat in the graveyard and talked to the headless corpse. Now when morning broke and Rasâlu said he must continue his journey, the headless corpse asked him whither he was going; and when he said, 'to play chaupur[4] with King Sarkap,' the corpse begged him to give up the idea, saying, 'I am King Sarkap's brother, and I know his ways. Every day, before breakfast, he cuts off the heads of two or three men, just to amuse himself. One day no one else was at hand, so he cut off mine, and he will surely cut off yours on some pretence or another. However, if you are determined to go and play chaupur with him, take some of the bones from this graveyard, and make your dice out of them, and then the enchanted dice with which my brother plays will lose their virtue. Otherwise he will always win.'

So Rasâlu took some bones lying about, and fashioned them into dice, and these he put into his pocket. Then, bidding adieu to the headless corpse, he went on his way to play chaupur with the King.



[1] Lit. King Beheader is a universal hero of fable, who has left many places behind him connected with his memory, but who he was has not yet been ascertained.

[2] In original

Bâre andar piâ karanglâ, na is sâs, na pâs.
Je Maullâ is nûn zindâ kare, do bâtân kare hamâre sâth.
Laihndion charhî badalî, hâthân pâiâ zor:
Kehe 'amal kamâio, je jhaldi nahîn ghor?

 

The corpse has fallen under the hedge, no breath in him, nor any one near.
If God grant him life he may talk a little with me.
The clouds rose in the west and the storm was very fierce;
What hast thou done that the grave doth not hold thee?

[3] In original

Asîn bhî kadîn duniyân te inhân the;
Râjâ nal degrîân pagân banhde,
  Turde pabbân bhâr.
Âunde tara, nachâunde tara,
  Hânke sawâr.
Zara na mitthî jhaldî Râjâ;
  Hun sau manân dâ bhâr.

I, too, was once on the earth thus;
Fastening my turban like a king,
  Walking erect.
Coming proudly, taunting proudly,
  I drove off the horsemen.
The grave does not hold me at all, Râjâ:
  Now I am a great sinner.

[4] Chaupur is a game played by two players with 8 men each on a board in the shape of a cross, 4 men to each cross covered with squares. The moves of the men are decided by the throws of a long form of dice. The object of the game is to see which of the players can move all his men into the black centre square of the cross first. A detailed description of the game is given in The Legends of the Panjâb, vol. i. pp. 243, 245.