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The Charitable Raja

Category: Part I.

Source: Folklore Of The Santal Parganas

There was once a Raja who was very charitable; he used to give a new
cloth and a good meal to every one who came and begged of him. But
one day a Jogi came and refused to take what was offered to him: he
demanded that the Raja should give him his kingdom and everything
that he had. The Raja thought it wrong to refuse the request, and
went out into the world with his wife and his two young children,
a beggar. For a long time they wandered about living on charity,
till their clothes were worn to rags, and then they chanced to hear
of a rich merchant who gave a cloth to any beggar who asked it of him;
so they resolved to go to him for help. When they reached the village
where the merchant lived, the Rani left the Raja with the two children
to cook some dinner and went to the merchant's house to beg for some
clothes; but when the merchant saw her he fell in love with her and
shut her up and would not let her go. To be saved from the merchant's
designs the Rani prayed that she might be smitten with disease and
at once she became very ill.

After waiting in vain for her return the Raja set off with his two sons
to look for her and presently came to a flooded river. He carried one
child across first but, as he was returning for the other, he was swept
away by the current and the children were left alone. A Goala woman,
going to the river for water, found them, and as she was childless
took them home with her and brought them up.

Meanwhile the Raja was carried down stream by the flood and was washed
ashore, bruised and wounded, a long way down. At the place where he
landed a large crowd was collected; for the Raja of the country had
lately died leaving no heir, and the widow had ordered all the people
to assemble in order that two elephants, belonging to the late Raja,
might choose his successor. The half-drowned Raja joined the crowd and
as he sat looking on, one elephant, passing by all its own people,
came to him and put the golden necklace on his neck and the other
elephant lifted him on to its back and carried him off and seated him
on the Raja's throne; and as he sat on the throne all his wounds and
bruises were healed. Years passed and the Raja's two sons grew up,
and as the Goala woman who had adopted them was very poor, they went
out into the world to earn their living. As it chanced, they took
service as sipahis with the Raja their father, whom of course they
did not recognise. Just after their arrival the Raja arranged a great
festival at which people from all parts assembled; and among others
the merchant went there with the Raja's wife, in hopes that among
the crowd he might find some physician able to cure the woman. When
he arrived, he went to the Raja and asked that two sipahis might be
deputed to keep watch over the woman he had brought. The Raja sent
his two newly enlisted sipahis, and thus the sons were set to guard
their own mother, and it was not long before they found out their
relationship. The Rani was delighted to recover her long lost children,
but when she heard that her husband had been washed away by the river
and drowned, she began to weep and wail. The merchant went to the Raja
and complained that the sipahis who had been sent, had thrown the woman
into great distress and the Raja thereupon sent for all the parties
in order that he might enquire into the matter. When he heard their
story, he at once recognised that it was his own wife and sons who
stood before him and thus the whole family was happily united. Then
his wife prayed to Thakur that if she were really the wife he had
lost and had been faithful to him, she might be restored to health;
water was poured over her and she was at once cured of her disease,
and they all lived happily ever afterwards.

Next: A Variant The Wandering Raja

Previous: The Four Jogis

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