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The Prince Who Acquired Wisdom

Category: Part I.

Source: Folklore Of The Santal Parganas

There was once a Raja who had an only son and the Raja was always
urging his son to learn to read and write in order that when he came
to his kingdom he might manage well and be able to decide disputes
that were brought to him for judgment; but the boy paid no heed to
his father's advice and continued to neglect his lessons. At last
when he was grown up, the Prince saw that his father was right and
he resolved to go away to foreign countries to acquire wisdom; so he
set off without telling anyone but his wife, and he took with him
a purse of money and three pieces of gold. After travelling a long
time, he one day saw a man ploughing in a field and he went and got
some tobacco from him and asked him whether there were any wise men
living in that neighbourhood. "What do you want with wise men?",
asked the ploughman. The Prince said that he was travelling to get
wisdom. The ploughman said that he would give him instruction if
he were paid. Then the Prince promised to give him one gold piece
for each piece of wisdom. The ploughman agreed and said. "Listen
attentively! My first maxim is this: You are the son of a Raja;
whenever you go to visit a friend or one of your subjects and they
offer you a bedstead, or stool, or mat to sit on, do not sit down
at once but move the stool or mat a little to one side; this is
one maxim: give me my gold coin." So the Prince paid him. Then the
ploughman said. "The second maxim is this: You are the son of a Raja;
whenever you go to bathe, do not bathe at the common bathing place,
but at a place by yourself; give me my coin," and the Prince did
so. Then he continued, "My third maxim is this: You are the son of a
Raja; when men come to you for advice or to have a dispute decided,
listen to what the majority of those present say and do not follow
your own fancy, now pay me;" and the Prince gave him his last gold
coin, and said that he had no more. "Well," said the ploughman, "your
lesson is finished but still I will give you one more piece of advice
free and it is this: You are the son of a Raja; Restrain your anger,
if anything you see or hear makes you angry, still do not at once take
action; hear the explanation and weigh it well, then if you find cause
you can give rein to your anger and if not, let the offender off."

After this the prince set his face homewards as he had spent all
his money; and he began to repent of having spent his gold pieces
on advice that seemed worthless. However on his way he turned into
a bazar to buy some food and the shopkeepers on all sides called out
"Buy, buy," so he went to a shop and the shopkeeper invited him to sit
on a rug; he was just about to do so when he remembered the maxim of
his instructor and pulled the rug to one side; and when he did so he
saw that it had been spread over the mouth of a well and that if he
had sat on it he would have been killed [1]; so he began to believe
in the wisdom of his teacher. Then he went on his way and on the
road he turned aside to a tank to bathe, and remembering the maxim
of his teacher he did not bathe at the common place but went to a
place apart; then having eaten his lunch he continued his journey,
but he had not gone far when he found that he had left his purse
behind, so he turned back and found it lying at the place where he
had put down his things when he bathed; thereupon he applauded the
wisdom of his teacher, for if he had bathed at the common bathing
place someone would have seen the purse and have taken it away. When
evening came on he turned into a village and asked the headman to let
him sleep in his verandah, and there was already one other traveller
sleeping there and in the morning it was found that the traveller had
died in his sleep. Then the headman consulted the villagers and they
decided that there was nothing to be done but to throw away the body,
and that as the Prince was also a traveller he should do it. At first
he refused to touch the corpse as he was the son of a Raja, but the
villagers insisted and then he bethought himself of the maxim that
he should not act contrary to the general opinion; so he yielded and
dragged away the body, and threw it into a ravine.

Before leaving it he remembered that it was proper to remove the
clothes, and when he began to do so he found round the waist of the
body a roll of coin; so he took this and was glad that he had followed
the advice of his teacher.

That evening he reached the boundary of his own territory and decided
to press on home although it was dark; at midnight he reached the
palace and without arousing anyone went to the door of his wife's
room. Outside the door he saw a pair of shoes and a sword; at the
sight he became wild with rage and drawing the sword he called out:
"Who is in my room?"

As a matter of fact the Prince's wife had got the Prince's little
sister to sleep with her, and when the girl heard the Prince's voice
she got up to leave; but when she opened the door and saw the Prince
standing with the drawn sword she drew back in fear; she told him
who she was and explained that they had put the shoes and sword at
the door to prevent anyone else from entering; but in his wrath the
Prince would not listen and called to her to come out and be killed.

Then she took off her cloth and showed it to him through the crack of
the door and at the sight of this he was convinced; then he reflected
on the advice of his teacher and repented, because he had nearly
killed his sister through not restraining his wrath.

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