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The Lost Book

Source: Folk-tales Of The Khasis

After mankind began to multiply on the earth and had become numerous,
and scattered into many regions, they lost much of their knowledge of
the laws of God, and in their ignorance they committed many mistakes
in their mode of worship, each one worshipping in his own way after
his own fancy, without regard to what was proper and acceptable in
the sight of God.

In order to restore their knowledge and to reform their mode of
worship, the Great God commanded a Khasi man and a foreigner to appear
before Him on a certain day, upon a certain mountain, the name of
which is not known, that they might learn His laws and statutes.

So the Khasi and the foreigner went into the mountain and appeared
before God. They remained with Him three days and three nights,
and He revealed unto them the mode of worship.

The Great God wrote His laws in books, and at the end of the third
day He gave unto each man a book of the holy law, and said unto them:
"This is sufficient unto you; return unto your own people; behold,
I have written all that is needful for you to know in this book. Take
it, and read it, and teach it to your kindred that they may learn
how to be wise and holy and happy for ever." The two men took their
books and departed as they were commanded.

Between the mountain and their homeland there lay a wide river. On
their way thither they had waded through it without any difficulty,
for the water was low, but on their return journey they found the river
in flood and the water so deep that they had to swim across. They
were sorely perplexed how to keep their sacred books safe and dry;
being devoid of clothing, the men found it difficult to protect them
or to cover them safely. The foreigner had long hair, and he took his
book and wrapped it in his long hair, which he twisted firmly on the
top of his head; but the hair of the Khasi was short, so he could
not follow the example of the foreigner, and, not able to think of
a better plan, he took the book between his teeth.

The foreigner swam across safely, with his book undamaged, and he
went home to his kindred joyfully and taught them wisdom and the mode
of worship.

The Khasi, after swimming part of the way, began to flounder, for
the current was strong, and his breathing was impeded by the book in
his mouth. His head went under water, and the book was reduced to a
worthless pulp. He was in great trouble when he saw that the book
was destroyed. He determined to return to the mountain to ask the
Great God for a new book, so he swam back across the wide river and
climbed again to the mountain; but when he reached the place where
he had before met God, he found that He had ascended into heaven,
and he had to return empty-handed.

When he reached his own country, he summoned together all his kindred
and told them all that had happened. They were very sad when they heard
that the book was lost, and bewildered because they had no means of
enlightenment. They resolved to call a Durbar of all the Khasis to
consider how they could carry on their worship in a becoming way and
with some uniformity, so as to secure for themselves the three great
blessings of humanity--health, wealth, and families.

Since that day the Khasis have depended for their knowledge of sacred
worship on the traditions that have come down from one generation
to the other from their ancestors who sat in the great Durbar after
the sacred book was lost, while the foreigners learn how to worship
from books.

Next: The Blessing Of The Mendicant

Previous: How The Ox Came To Be The Servant Of Man

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