Folklore of the Santal Parganas | Annotated Tale

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How to Grow Rich

ONCE upon a time there was a woman whose husband died while she was pregnant, and she was very unhappy and used to pray daily to Singh Chando to give her a man child in place of her husband; she was left well off and among her property were three gold coins, and as she was afraid of these being stolen she decided to place them in the care of the village headman. So she took them to him and asked him to keep them till her child was born; and no one was present at the time but the headman's wife. In due time her child was born and by the mercy of Singh Chando it was a son; and when the boy had grown a bit and could run alone his mother decided to take back the gold coins, so she went to the headman and asked him for them; but he and his wife said: "We do not understand what you are talking about? We know of no gold coins: where are your witnesses? You must have had witnesses in such a business." And they drove her out. She went away crying and called the villagers together and asked them to decide the matter. So they questioned her and the headman but as it was word against word they could come to no decision; so they settled to put the parties on oath, but the headman and the woman both swore that they had spoken the truth, saying, "May we die if we have spoken falsely." Then the villagers made them swear by their children and the woman and the headman laid their hands on the heads of their sons and swore; and when the woman swore her son fell down dead and she took up the dead body in her arms and ran away with it.

               The villagers were very sorry for what had happened but the headman and his wife abused them for not having believed their word. The woman had not gone very far before she met a stranger who asked why she was crying and when she told him, he said: "Do not cry: you told one falsehood and so your son has died. Take your child back to the villagers and tell them that it was five gold coins and not three that you gave to the headman and if you do this the child will come to life again."

               So the woman hastened back and found the villagers still assembled and she told them as the stranger had directed; and she agreed to be sworn again on the body of the child, and the headman promised to pay five gold pieces if the child were restored to life. So the woman laid her hands on the dead child and swore, and it was restored to life. Then the headman was dumbfounded and reluctantly brought out five gold pieces and gave them to the woman. She gave five rupees to the villagers and they made the headman give them ten rupees for having deceived them, and they bought pigs and had a feast.

               In the course of time the boy grew up and his mother urged him to marry. He asked her if she knew how to choose a wife and also what sort of cattle to buy, and she said that she did not know; her husband had not told her this. So the youth said that he would go to Singh Chando and ask.

               His mother washed his clothes for him and gave him food for the journey and he set out. On the way he met a man who asked him where he was going and he answered that he was going to make a petition to Singh Chando. "Then," said the man, "make a petition for me also. I have so much wealth that I cannot look after it all; ask him to take away half from me." The youth promised and went on and he met another man who said that he had so many cattle that he could not build enough cow-houses for them and asked him to petition Singh Chando to diminish their number; and he promised, and went on and came to Singh Chando, and there he asked how to choose a wife and how to buy cattle. And Singh Chando said, "When you buy a bullock first put your hand on its quarter and if it shrinks and tries to get free, buy it; and when you want a wife enquire first as to the character of her father and mother; good parents make good children." Then the youth asked about the two men he had met; Singh Chando said;--"Tell the first man when he is ploughing to plough two or three furrows beyond the boundary of his field and his wealth will diminish and tell the second man to drive away three or four of his cattle every day and their number will decrease." So the youth returned and met the man who had too many cattle and told him what Chando had said, and the man thought "If I drive away three or four head of cattle every day I shall soon become poor" so from that time he looked out for any straying cattle and would drive them home with his own; if the owner claimed them, he gave them up, but if no claimant appeared, he kept them and so he became richer than ever. And the youth went on and met the man who was too rich, and when he heard what Chando had said he thought "If I plough over the boundary on to my neighbour's land it will be a great sin and I shall soon become poor;" and he went to his ploughmen and told them never to plough right up to the edge of the field but to leave two of three furrows space, and they obeyed and from that time he grew richer than ever. And the youth returned to his mother and told her all that had happened and they understood the meaning of the advice which Chando had given to the two men and acted accordingly. And it is true that we see that avaricious men who trespass across boundaries become poor.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: How to Grow Rich
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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