Folklore of the Santal Parganas | Annotated Tale

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Pious Woman, The

THERE was once a very pious woman and her special virtue was that she would not eat or drink on any day until she had first given alms to a beggar. One day no beggar came to her house, so by noon she got tired of waiting, and, tying in her cloth some parched rice, she went to the place where the women drew water. When she got there she saw a Jugi coming towards her, she greeted him and said that she had brought dried rice for him. He said that omens had bidden him come to her and that he came to grant her a boon: she might ask one favour and it would be given her. The woman said: "Grant me this boon--to know where our souls go after death, and to see at the time of death how they escape, whether through the nose or the mouth, and where they go to; and tell me when I shall die and where my soul will go to; this I ask and no more." Then the Jugi answered, "Your prayer is granted, but you must tell no one; if you do, the power will depart from you." So saying he took from his bag something like a feather and brushed her eyes with it and washed them with water. Then the woman's eyes were opened and she saw spirits--bongas, bhuts, dains, churins, and the souls of dead men; and the Jugi told her not to be afraid, but not to speak to them lest men should think her mad; then he took his leave, and she returned home. Now in the village lived a poor man and his wife and they were much liked because they were industrious and obedient; shortly afterwards this poor man died and the pious woman saw men come with a palankin and take away the poor man's soul with great ceremony. She was pleased at the sight and thought that the souls of all men were taken away like this. But shortly afterwards her father-in-law died. He had been a rich man, but harsh, and while the family were mourning the pious woman saw four sipahis armed with iron-shod staves and of fierce countenance come to the house and two entered and took the father-in-law by the neck and thrust him forth; they bound him and beat him, they knocked him down and as he could not walk they dragged him away by his legs. The woman followed him to the end of the garden and when she saw him being dragged away, she screamed. When her husband's relatives saw her screaming and crying they were angry and said that she must have killed her father-in-law by witchcraft, for she did not sit by the corpse and cry but went to the end of the garden. So after the body had been burnt they held a council and questioned her and told her that they would hold her to be a witch, if she could not explain. So she told them of the power which the Jugi had conferred on her and of what she had seen, and they believed her and acquitted her of the charge of witchcraft; but from that time she lost her power and saw no more spirits.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Pious Woman, The
Tale Author/Editor: Bompas, Cecil Henry
Book Title: Folklore of the Santal Parganas
Book Author/Editor: Bompas, Cecil Henry
Publisher: David Nutt
Publication City: London
Year of Publication: 1909
Country of Origin: India
Classification: unclassified

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