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A Story On Caste

Category: Part I.

Source: Folklore Of The Santal Parganas

There was once a village inhabited only by Musahars. Among them was
one girl who was so beautiful that she seemed more than human. Her
father and mother were so proud of her looks that they determined
not to marry her to a man of their own caste. They were constantly
discussing whom they should choose as a son-in-law; one day they began
to consider who were the greatest persons in the world. The old woman
was of opinion that there was no one greater than Chando, the Sun God,
and suggested that they should marry the girl to him. Her husband
agreed and off they set and presented themselves before Chando. Chando
asked why they had come. "O Chando, we understand that you are the
greatest being in the world and we have come to marry our daughter
to you," Chando answered "I fancy there is some one greater than I,"
"Who is he?" asked the parents. "The cloud is greater than I, for it
can hide my face and quench my rays."

At this the father and mother hurried off with their daughter in search
of the Cloud, and when they found him, told him that they had brought
their daughter to give him to wife, as he was the greatest being in
the world. "I may be great," said the Cloud, "but there is a greater
than I, the Wind. The Wind rises and blows me away in a minute." So
they went in search of the Wind and when they found him, explained
to him why they had brought him their daughter. The Wind said "I am
strong but there are stronger than I: the Mountains are stronger. I can
blow things down or whirl them away, but I cannot move the mountains."

So on they went to the Mountain and explained their errand. The
Mountain said "I am great but there are more powerful than I. The
ground-rat is more powerful, for however high I may be the ground-rats
burrow holes in me and I cannot resist them."

The poor parents by this time began to feel rather discouraged,
but still they made up their minds to persevere and went on to look
for the ground-rat. They found him and offered him their daughter in
marriage, but the ground-rat denied that he was the most powerful
being on earth, the Musahars were more powerful for they lived by
digging out ground-rats and eating them.

The hapless couple went home very dejectedly, reflecting that they
had begun by despising their own caste and had gone in search of
something greater and had ended where they begun. So they arranged
to marry their daughter to a man of their own caste after all.

Moral You should not despise your own caste or race; you cannot
help what caste you are born into. A Santal may learn to read and
write and associate with men of good position and thereby his mind
may be perverted. He may wish to change his caste become a Sadhu, or
a Kherwar, or a Boistab, or a Mussulman, or a Christian or anything
else; but people will still know him for a beef-eating Santal. If he
becomes a Christian, no one will think him the equal of a Saheb or
a Brahman; no Saheb will marry his daughter or give him his daughter
in marriage. Remember what happened to the Musahar, who despised his
own caste. God caused you to be born in a certain caste. He and not
we made the different castes and He knows what is good and bad for us.

Next: Tipi And Tepa

Previous: Kora And His Sister

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