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YASHPEH
International Folktales Collection

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Story No. 554


The Raja’s Advice

Book Name:

Folklore of the Santal Parganas

Tradition: India

Once upon a time an aged Raja lay dying. Before he breathed his last he sent for his only son and gave him the following advice. “My son,” he said, “never go on a journey alone; do not associate with low people, for if you do no one will respect you; never confide a secret to your wife; do not tell outsiders the affairs of your house; do not let village affairs go beyond the village street, and never get into a rage.”

The son succeeded to the Raja and shortly afterwards set out to pay a visit to his wife’s relations. He started alone and after going some distance he remembered his father’s injunctions never to go on a journey alone. He had gone too far to go back and he saw no one within call, so he looked about and presently found a crab hole. He set to work and dug out the crab and fixing it in his pagri continued his journey.

By-and-bye he came to a river. Now in this river lived a crocodile, which had leagued with a crow to destroy travellers crossing the river. Whenever the crow saw anyone coming, it gave warning to the crocodile, and the crocodile then seized the traveller as he entered the river, while the crow pecked out his eyes. In this way they had been the death of many travellers. So when the crow saw the young Raja coming, it cawed to the crocodile, which hastened to the ford and seized the Raja as he stepped into the water, while the crow flew at his head. But the crab caught the crow by the leg and nipped it so hard that the crow, in agony, called out to the crocodile to let the man go, as it was being killed. So the crocodile released its hold and the Raja struggled to the bank, and then caught the crow which was held fast by the crab and wrung its neck. Then he went back home with the crab, reflecting on the wisdom of his father’s advice.

Later on, the Raja thought that he would put another of his father’s maxims to the proof and see what would happen if he told his wife a secret. So he took a spade and buried an old earthen pot in the corner of his garden. He let his wife see him and she promptly asked what he was burying; he put her off, but that night she insisted so much on knowing, that, after swearing her to secrecy, he told her that a child had come straying to his house and he had killed it to obtain good luck and had buried the body.

Time passed, and one day the Raja had a quarrel with his wife, he began to beat her and she in return abused him and kept on calling out that he was a murderer, who had buried a child in his garden. Their next door neighbour heard all this and, directly she found the Raja’s wife alone, asked whether what she said was true. The Raja’s wife, being still in a passion, asserted that it was quite true. The story was soon all over the town, and the townspeople rose and seized the Raja and charged him with the murder. Then he took them to the garden and made them dig up what he had buried and they found only an old pot.

So they had to pay him compensation for making a false charge, and the Raja valued more than ever the advice given him by his father.

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