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YASHPEH
International Folktales Collection

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Story No. 556


The Charitable Raja

Book Name:

Folklore of the Santal Parganas

Tradition: India

There was once a Raja who was very charitable; he used to give a new cloth and a good meal to every one who came and begged of him. But one day a Jogi came and refused to take what was offered to him: he demanded that the Raja should give him his kingdom and everything that he had. The Raja thought it wrong to refuse the request, and went out into the world with his wife and his two young children, a beggar. For a long time they wandered about living on charity, till their clothes were worn to rags, and then they chanced to hear of a rich merchant who gave a cloth to any beggar who asked it of him; so they resolved to go to him for help. When they reached the village where the merchant lived, the Rani left the Raja with the two children to cook some dinner and went to the merchant’s house to beg for some clothes; but when the merchant saw her he fell in love with her and shut her up and would not let her go. To be saved from the merchant’s designs the Rani prayed that she might be smitten with disease and at once she became very ill.

After waiting in vain for her return the Raja set off with his two sons to look for her and presently came to a flooded river. He carried one child across first but, as he was returning for the other, he was swept away by the current and the children were left alone. A Goala woman, going to the river for water, found them, and as she was childless took them home with her and brought them up.

Meanwhile the Raja was carried down stream by the flood and was washed ashore, bruised and wounded, a long way down. At the place where he landed a large crowd was collected; for the Raja of the country had lately died leaving no heir, and the widow had ordered all the people to assemble in order that two elephants, belonging to the late Raja, might choose his successor. The half-drowned Raja joined the crowd and as he sat looking on, one elephant, passing by all its own people, came to him and put the golden necklace on his neck and the other elephant lifted him on to its back and carried him off and seated him on the Raja’s throne; and as he sat on the throne all his wounds and bruises were healed. Years passed and the Raja’s two sons grew up, and as the Goala woman who had adopted them was very poor, they went out into the world to earn their living. As it chanced, they took service as sipahis with the Raja their father, whom of course they did not recognise. Just after their arrival the Raja arranged a great festival at which people from all parts assembled; and among others the merchant went there with the Raja’s wife, in hopes that among the crowd he might find some physician able to cure the woman. When he arrived, he went to the Raja and asked that two sipahis might be deputed to keep watch over the woman he had brought. The Raja sent his two newly enlisted sipahis, and thus the sons were set to guard their own mother, and it was not long before they found out their relationship. The Rani was delighted to recover her long lost children, but when she heard that her husband had been washed away by the river and drowned, she began to weep and wail. The merchant went to the Raja and complained that the sipahis who had been sent, had thrown the woman into great distress and the Raja thereupon sent for all the parties in order that he might enquire into the matter. When he heard their story, he at once recognised that it was his own wife and sons who stood before him and thus the whole family was happily united. Then his wife prayed to Thakur that if she were really the wife he had lost and had been faithful to him, she might be restored to health; water was poured over her and she was at once cured of her disease, and they all lived happily ever afterwards.

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