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The Legend Of Mount Sophet Bneng

Source: Folk-tales Of The Khasis

Sophet Bneng is a bare dome-like hill, about thirteen miles to the
north of Shillong, and not far from the Shillong-Gauhati highroad to
the East, from which it is plainly visible. Its name signifies the
centre of heaven.

From the time of the creation of the world a tall tree, reaching to the
sky, grew on the top of this hill, and was used by the heavenly beings
as a ladder to ascend and descend between heaven and earth. At that
time the earth was uninhabited, but all manner of trees and flowers
grew in abundance, so that it was a very beautiful and desirable
place, and they of heaven frequently came down to roam and to take
their pleasure upon it.

When they found that the land in the neighbourhood of Sophet Bneng
was fertile and goodly, they began to cultivate it for profit, but
they never stayed overnight on the earth; they ascended to heaven,
according to the decree. Altogether sixteen families followed the
pastime of cultivating the land upon the earth.

Among the heavenly beings there was one who greatly coveted power,
and was unwilling to remain the subject of his Creator, and aspired
to rule over his brethren. He was constantly seeking for opportunities
whereby to realise his ambitions.

One day it happened that seven families only of the cultivators
chose to descend to the earth, the other nine remaining in heaven
that day. When they were busy at work in their fields, the ambitious
one covertly left his brethren, and, taking his axe secretly, he cut
down the tree of communication, so that the seven families could not
return to their heavenly home.

Thus it was that mankind came to live on the earth, and it is from
these seven families--called by the Khasis "Ki Hinniew Skum" (the
seven nests, or the seven roots)--who descended from heaven on that
fatal day that all the nations of the earth have sprung.

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