Folklore of the Santal Parganas | Annotated Tale

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Wandering Raja, The (A Variant)

ONCE there was a Raja who was very prosperous; but his wife found their life of wealth and ease monotonous, and she continually urged him to travel into other countries and to see whether other modes of life were pleasant or distressful; she pestered her husband so much that at last he gave way. He put his kingdom in charge of his father's sister and her husband and set off with his wife and his two sons as an ordinary traveller.

               After travelling some days they got tired of eating the parched rice which they had brought with them and thought they would boil some rice for their dinner. So the Rani went into a bazar to get cooking pots, and a light for the fire. She went to the house of a rich merchant for these, but he was attracted by her beauty and seized her and shut her up and would not let her go back, but kept her as his wife. The Raja and his sons soon got tired of waiting for her; he concluded that the journey was merely a pretext of his wife's to escape from him, as she had disappeared the first time that he let her out of his sight.

               So he turned to go home and soon came to a river which had to be crossed, he left his sons on the bank and went into the water to see how deep it was and as he was wading in, a large fish came and swallowed him. The fish swam away down stream and was caught in the net of some fishermen. When they saw how big a fish they had caught, they decided to take it to the Raja of that country. The Raja bought it at a high price, but when it was cut open at the palace the man it had swallowed was found alive inside; so the Raja of the country appointed him one of his retainers.

               Meanwhile the two boys had been found abandoned on the bank of the river by a cowherd, who was too poor to bring them up, so he took them also to the Raja; and they rejoiced to meet their father and when they grew up, were also appointed retainers.

               They had to travel all over the country on the Raja's business and it happened that they one day came to the village where their mother was and they met and recognised her; she told them how she had been seized and confined and begged them to bring her husband to her. So the sons fetched their father and the Rani told her husband how unhappy she was and begged him to get her released, and he promised to ask the help of his master. When the Raja of the country heard the story he took pity on them and went with a body of soldiers and seized the wicked merchant and ordered him to give up all his wealth and as the merchant tried to conceal where some of his money was buried, the Raja cut him down with his sword. He also laid a heavy fine on the villagers, because they had not sent word to him of the capture of the Rani.

               Then he took home the Raja who had been swallowed by the fish and his wife and sons, and entertained them for some days, and then gave them elephants and horses and men and all the merchant's property and sent them to their own country. The uncle and aunt who had been appointed Regents came out to meet them and escorted them home.

               Two or three days after the aunt asked the Raja how he had got his elephants and horses and money, and he said "They are the profits of my wife's sin; I will not tell you the whole story for if you heard it you also might be led astray; my wife induced me to travel by false pretences. It is not good to follow the advice of a woman; it is by mere chance that you see me alive to-day." His wife heard what he said, and she went out and cut her throat from remorse; and they went and burned her body.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Wandering Raja, The (A Variant)
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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