Sagas from the Far East; or, Kalmouk and Mongolian Traditionary Tales | Annotated Tale

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Prayer Making Suddenly Rich, The


Wherefore the Well-and-wise-walking Khan went forth yet again, and fetched the Siddhî-kür. And as he brought him along, the Siddhî-kür told this tale:--


LONG ages ago, there was situated in the midst of a mighty kingdom a god's temple, exactly one day's journey distant from every part of the kingdom. Here was a statue of the Chongschim Bodhisattva (1) wrought in clay. Hard by this temple was the lowly dwelling of an ancient couple with their only daughter. At the mouth of a stream which watered the place, was a village where lived a poor man. One day this man went up as far as the source of the stream to sell his fruit, which he carried in a basket. On his way home he passed the night under shelter of the temple. As he lay there on the ground, he overheard, through the open door of the lowly dwelling, the aged couple reasoning thus with one another: "Now that we are both old and well-stricken in years, it were well that we married our only daughter to some good man," said the father. "Thy words are words of truth," replied the mother. "Behold, all that we have in this world is our daughter and our store of jewels. Have we not all our lives through offered sacrifice at the shrine of the Chongschim Bodhisattva? have we not promoted his worship, and spread his renown? shall he not therefore direct us aright in our doings? To-morrow, which is the eighth day of the new moon, therefore, we will offer him sacrifice, and inquire of him what we shall do with our daughter Suvarnadharî (2): whether we shall devote her to the secular or religious condition of life."

               When the man had heard this, he determined what to do. Having found a way into the temple, he made a hole in the Buddha-image, and placed himself inside it. Early in the morning, the old man and his wife came, with their daughter, and offered their sacrifice. Then said the father, "Divine Chongschim Bodhisattva! let it now be made known to us, whether is better, that we choose for our daughter the secular or religious condition of life? And if it be the secular, then show us to whom we shall give her for a husband."

               When he had spoken these words the poor man inside the Buddha-image crept up near the mouth of the same, and spoke thus in solemn tones:--

               "For your daughter the secular state is preferable. Give her for wife to the man who shall knock at your gate early in the morning."

               At these words both the man and his wife fell into great joy, exclaiming, "Chutuktu (3) hath spoken! Chutuktu hath spoken!"

               Having watched well from the earliest dawn that no one should call before him, the man now knocked at the gate of the old couple. When the father saw a stranger standing before the door, he cried, "Here in very truth is he whom Buddha hath sent!" So they entreated him to come in with great joy; prepared a great feast to entertain him, and, having given him their daughter in marriage, sent them away with all their store of gold and precious stones.

               As the man drew near his home he said within himself, "I have got all these things out of the old people, through craft and treachery. Now I must hide the maiden and the treasure, and invent a new story." Then he shut up the maiden and the treasure in a wooden box, and buried it in the sand of the steppe (4).

               When he came home he said to all his friends and neighbours, "With all the labour of my life riches have not been my portion. I must now undertake certain practices of devotion to appease the dæmons of hunger; give me alms to enable me to fulfil them." So the people gave him alms. Then said he the next day, "Now go I to offer up 'the Prayer which makes suddenly rich.'" And again they gave him alms.

               While he was thus engaged it befell that a Khan's son went out hunting with two companions, with their bows and arrows, having with them a tiger as a pastime to amuse them while journeying. They rode across the steppe, just over the track which the poor man had followed; and seeing there the sand heaped up the Prince's attention fell on it, and he shot an arrow right into the midst of the heap. But the arrow, instead of striking into the sand, fell down, because it had glanced against the top of the box.

               Then said the Khan's son, "Let us draw near and see how this befell."

               So they drew near; and when the servants had dug away the sand they found the wooden box which the man had buried. The Khan's son then ordered the servants to open the box; and when they had opened it they found the maiden and the jewels.

               Then said the Khan's son, "Who art thou, beautiful maiden?"

               And the maiden answered, "I am the daughter of a serpent-god."

               Then said the Khan's son, "Come out of the box, and I will take thee to be my wife."

               But the maiden answered, "I come not out of the box except some other be put into the same."

               To which the Prince replied, "That shall be done," and he commanded that they put the tiger into the box; but the maiden and the jewels he took with him.

               Meantime the poor man had completed the prayers and the ceremonies 'to make suddenly rich,' and he said, "Now will I go and fetch the maiden and the treasure." With that he traced his way back over the steppe to the place where he had buried the box, and dug it out of the sand, not perceiving that the Prince's servants had taken it up and buried it again. Then, lading it on to his shoulder, he brought the same into his inner apartment. But to his wife he said, "To-night is the last of the ceremony 'for making suddenly rich.' I must shut myself up in my inner apartment to perform it, and go through it all alone. What noise soever thou mayst hear, therefore, beware, on thy peril, that thou open not the door, neither approach it."

               This he said, being minded to rid himself of the maiden, who might have betrayed the real means by which he became possessed of the treasure, by killing her and hiding her body under the earth.

               Then having taken off all his clothes, that they might not be soiled with the blood he was about to spill, and prepared himself thus to put the woman to death, he lifted up the lid of the box, saying, "Maiden, fear nothing!" But on the instant the tiger sprang out upon him and threw him to the ground. In vain he cried aloud with piteous cries. All the time that his bare flesh was delivered over to the teeth and claws of the unpitying tiger his wife and children were laughing, and saying, "How is our father diligent in offering up 'the Prayer which makes suddenly rich!'"

               But when, the next morning, he came not out, all the neighbours came and opened the door of the inner apartment, and they found only his bones which the tiger had well cleaned; but having so well satisfied its appetite, it walked out through their midst without hurting any of them.

               In process of time, however, the maiden whom the Khan's son had taken to his palace had lived happily with him, and they had a family of three children; and she was blameless and honoured before all. Nevertheless, envious people spread the gossip that she had come no one knew whence; and when they brought the matter before the king's council it was said, "How shall a Khan's son whose mother was found in a box under the sand reign over us? And what will be thought of a Khan's son who has no uncles?"

               These things reached the ears of the Khanin, and, fearing lest they should take her sons from her and put them to death that they might not reign, she resolved to take them with her and go home to her parents.

               On the fifteenth of the month, while the light of the moon shone abroad, she took her three sons and set out on her way.

               When it was about midday she had arrived nigh to the habitation of her parents; but at a place where formerly all had been waste she found many labourers at work ploughing the land, directing them was a noble youth of comely presence. When the youth saw the Khan's wife coming over the field he asked her whence she came; answering, she told him she had journeyed from afar to see her parents, who lived by the temple of Chongschim Bodhisattva on the other side of the mountain.

               "And you are their daughter?" pursued the young man.

               "Even so; and out of filial regard am I come to visit them," answered the Khanin.

               "Then you are my sister," returned the youth, "for I am their son; and they have always told me I had an elder sister who was gone afar off."

               Then he invited her to partake of his midday meal, and after they had dined they set out together to find the lowly dwelling of their parents. But when they had come round to the other side of the mountain in the place where the lowly habitation had stood, behold there was now a whole congeries of palaces, each finer than the residence of the husband of the Khanin! All over they were hung with floating streamers of gay-coloured silks. The temple of the Chongschim Bodhisattva itself had been rebuilt with greater magnificence than before, and was resplendent with gold, and diamonds, and streamers of silk, and furnished with mellow-toned bells whose sound chimed far out into the waste.

               "To whom does all this magnificence belong?" inquired the Khanin.

               "It all belongs to us," replied the youth. "Our parents, too, are well and happy; come and see them."

               As they drew near their parents came out to meet them, looking hale and hearty and riding on horses. Behind them came a train of attendants leading horses for the Khanin and her brother. They all returned to the palace where the parents dwelt, all being furnished with elegance and luxury. When they had talked over all the events that had befallen each since they parted, they went to rest on soft couches.

               When the Khanin saw the magnificence in which her parents were living she bethought her that it would be well to invite the Khan to come and visit them. Accordingly she sent a splendid train of attendants to ask him to betake himself thither. Soon after, the Khan arrived, together with his ministers, and they were all of them struck with the condition of pomp and state in which the Khanin was living, far exceeding that of the Khan himself, the ministers owned, saying, "The report we heard, saying that the Khanin had no relations but the poor and unknown, was manifestly false;" and the Khan was all desire that she should return home. To this request she gave her cordial assent, only, as her parents were now well-stricken in years, and it was not likely she should have the opportunity of seeing them more, she desired to spend a few days more by their side. It was agreed, therefore, that the Khan and his ministers should return home, and that after three days the Khanin also should come and join him.

               Having taken affectionate leave of the Khan and seen him depart, she betook herself to rest on her soft couch.

               When she woke in the morning, behold, all the magnificence of the place was departed! There were no stately palaces; the temple of the Chongschim Bodhisattva was the same unpretending structure it had always been of old, only a little more worn down by time and weather; the lowly habitation of her parents was a shapeless ruin, and she was lying on the bare ground in one corner of it, with a heap of broken stones for a pillow. Her parents were dead long ago, and as for a brother there was no trace of one.

               Then she understood that the devas had sent the transformation to satisfy the Khan and his ministers, and, that done, every thing had returned to its natural condition.

               Grateful for the result, she now returned home, where the Khan received her with greater fondness than before. The ministers were satisfied as to the honour of the throne, all the gossips were put to silence from that day forward, and her three sons were brought up and trained that they might reign in state after the Khan their father.

               "Truly, that was a woman favoured by fortune beyond expectation!" exclaimed the Khan. And as he let these words escape him the Siddhî-kür replied, "Forgetting his health, the Well-and-wise-walking Khan hath opened his lips." And with the cry, "To escape out of this world is good!" he sped him through the air, swift out of sight.

               Thus far of the adventures of the Well-and-wise-walking Khan the eleventh chapter, concerning "The Prayer making suddenly Rich."


(1) Chongschim Bôdhisattva. Chongschim is probably derived from the Chinese, Kuan-schi-in, also by the Mongols, called Chutuku niduber usek tschi (He looking with the sacred eye), the present representative of Shâkjamuni, the spiritual guardian and patron of the breathing world in general; but, as Lamaism teaches, the Particular Protector of the northern countries of Asia; and each succeeding Dalai Lama is an incarnation of him. (Schott, Buddhaismus, and Köppen, Die Religion des Buddha, i. 312; ii. 127.) Bôdhisattva, from Bôdhi, the highest wisdom or knowledge, and Sattva, being. It is the last but one in the long chain of re-births. (See Schott, Buddhaismus, quoted by Jülg.; also Köppen, i. 312 et seq., 422-426, and ii. 18 et seq.; Wassiljew, p. 6, 106, 134.)

               It designates a man who has reached the intelligence of a Buddha and destined to be re-born as such when the actual Buddha dies. This intermediate time some have to pass in the Tushita-heaven, and none of those thus dignified can appear on earth so long as his predecessor lives. (Burnouf, Introduction à l'Histoire du Buddhisme Ind. i. 109.)

(2) Suvarnadharî (Sanskr.), possessed of gold. (Jülg.)

(3) Chutuktu, holy, consecrated, reverend, honourable--the Mongolian designation of the priesthood in general. (Schott, Buddhaismus, p. 36.)

(4) It requires nothing less than the creative power of an Eastern imagination first to see a difficulty in a situation simple enough in itself, and then set to work to remove it by means of a proceeding calculated to create the most actual difficulties: it is a leading characteristic of Indian tales. It would seem much more rational to have made the poor man keep up the original story of Buddha having designated him for the girl's husband, which the people at the mouth of the stream would have been as prone to believe as those at its source, than to resort to the preposterous expedient of leaving her buried in a box.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Prayer Making Suddenly Rich, The
Tale Author/Editor: Busk, Rachel Harriette
Book Title: Sagas from the Far East; or, Kalmouk and Mongolian Traditionary Tales
Book Author/Editor: Busk, Rachel Harriette
Publisher: Griffith and Farran
Publication City: London
Year of Publication: 1873
Country of Origin: Mongolia & Russia
Classification: unclassified

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