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Sit And Lakhan

Category: Part I.

Source: Folklore Of The Santal Parganas

Once upon a time there was a Raja who had two wives and a concubine,
but after giving birth to her second son, the first Rani died, and the
name of her elder boy was Sit and that of the younger was Lakhan. The
two children used to cry for their mother but the second Rani never
comforted them, for she hated them; it was the concubine who used to
bathe them and care for them, and their father loved them much. They
used to go to the place where their father sat administering justice
and Sit would sit behind his father and Lakhan in front. The second
Rani hated to see them with their father and would tell the concubine
to drive them away; but she refused and said that it was natural for
a father to love his motherless children; so the Rani kept silent,
but anger remained in her heart.

At last the Rani feigned to be ill and kept her bed; the Raja sent
for doctors and ojhas, and they came and saw that she could not
rise and they wanted to feel her pulse, but she would not let them
touch her; all she would do was to make the concubine tie a string
to her wrist and let the doctors hold the other end of the string;
so the doctors diagnosed the disease as best they could in this way
and gave her medicines, but she got no better.

After some days the Rani sent for the Raja and said "I am dying and
you don't care; these doctors' medicines do me no good; there is one
medicine only which will cure me." The Raja asked "What is it? I will
get it for you." Then the Rani made him swear by Kali that he would
give her the medicine she wanted, and he swore blindly. Then the
Rani said "If I eat the livers of Sit and Lakhan I shall get well,
and if not I shall die." At this request the Raja was struck dumb.

Now the concubine and a sipahi had overheard the conversation, and
when they heard what the Rani said, they withdrew and the concubine
went and told Sit and Lakhan of what was in store for them, and Sit
began to cry:--but Lakhan said "Do not cry brother, our father gave
us life, and it is for him to take it away if he will." So the Raja
came out from the Rani's room and when he saw the boys he wept and
he went to them and told them to eat their rice quickly, but they
would not eat; then he had their best clothes brought for them and
told them to put them on, but they refused. Then the Raja called for
sipahis and the sipahi who had been with the concubine, and two
others, came and the Raja told them with tears in his voice to take
the two boys away and let him never see them again, and he added so
that the boys should not hear "Bring me their livers." So the sipahis
took away the boys, and as they passed through the bazar they bought
them some sweetmeats. After walking for a time they came to a jungle;
then Sit said to the sipahis "How far are we to go? Do here what is
in your minds."

But the sipahis went on further; then Sit again told them to do what
they had to do. But the sipahis said "Do not be frightened, we shall
not kill you; we shall not obey your father; you must go away and
never come back here."

Now two dogs had followed them, attracted by the smell of the
sweetmeats, and the sipahis caught and killed them and cut out their
livers, and they put them on a plate and took them to the Raja. The
Rani was delighted and had the livers cooked, and ate them and the
next day she rose from her bed.

Meanwhile Sit and Lakhan travelled on, and in a few days they had
eaten all their food and were very tired, and one evening they sat
down at the foot of a tree in the jungle intending to spend the night
there. In that tree a pair of birds had their nest. Every year they
hatched their eggs and reared the young: but every year when the young
were half grown, a snake came and devoured them. That year also there
were two young in the nest, and on the day that the boys rested at the
foot of the tree the snake had resolved to eat them. But when it came,
the boys heard it moving in the leaves and killed it.

At evening the old birds returned and the nestlings said that the boys
had saved their lives, and asked the old birds to give them some of
the food that they had brought. So they threw down two bits of food,
and it was ordained that whoever ate the first piece, should marry
the daughter of a Raja, and whoever ate the second piece, should
spit gold; and it chanced that Sit ate the first piece, and Lakhan
the second. The next morning the boys went on their way, and the Raja
of the country was looking for a husband for his daughter and he had
sent an elephant out with a flower in its trunk and it was arranged
that the princess should marry the man to whom the elephant gave the
flower. The elephant came upon Sit sitting by the side of the road,
while Lakhan was at a distance; and when the elephant saw Sit, it
went up and gave him the flower and the attendants mounted him on
the elephant and took him to the Raja and he married the princess.

A few days after the wedding Sit sat outside the palace with his wife,
and did not come in though it was evening, and the Raja asked him why
he was sitting outside in the dew. Then Sit began to cry and lament
his brother, singing--

"O Brother Lakhan, where have you gone?
O younger brother, where have you gone?"

Then the Raja heard how he had been separated from his brother,
and he promised to send men in search of Lakhan, and they found
him in the house of a potter; but the potter refused to give him up
until he had been paid for the days that he had entertained him; but
really the Potter had become wealthy, because whenever Lakhan opened
his mouth he spat gold, and he did not wish to lose such a valuable
guest. Then Sit mounted his horse and took five rupees and gave them to
the Potter in payment for his entertainment, and brought Lakhan home
with him. When they found that Lakhan spat gold they were very glad
to keep him and the Raja gave him his second daughter in marriage;
and Lakhan made the whole family rich.

Meanwhile Sit and Lakhan's father had fallen into poverty; his country
had been conquered and his army destroyed and he and his wife wandered
about begging; when the boys heard this, they sent for the concubine
who had been good to them, and she came and lived with them, but they
did not forgive their father and step-mother.

Moral. There is no controlling a second wife and they are hard to
get on with. First wives are the best, they are obedient and agree
with the opinions of their husband.

Next: The Raja Who Went To Heaven

Previous: The Wife Who Could Not Keep A Secret

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