The Raja's Dream
Category: Part I.
Source: Folklore Of The Santal Parganas
Once upon a time there was a Raja who had no children. So he and his
wife agreed that he should marry again. His second wife bore him two
sons, and they were very pleased that the Raja should have heirs and
all lived happily together. But after the two sons had been born,
the elder Rani also gave birth to a son. This caused discord in the
family, for the younger Rani had counted on her sons succeeding to
the Raja, but now she feared that the son of the elder Rani would be
preferred. So she went to the Raja and besought him to send away the
elder Rani and her son. The Raja listened to her and gave the first
wife a separate estate and a separate house and sent them away.
Time passed and one night the Raja had a dream, the meaning of which
he could not understand; he dreamt that he saw a golden leopard
and a golden snake and a golden monkey dancing together. The Raja
could not rest until he had found out the meaning of the dream,
so he sent for his younger wife and her two sons and consulted
them. They could give no explanation, but the younger son said that
he had a presentiment that his brother, the son of the elder Rani,
could interpret the dream. So that son was sent for, and when he
appeared before his father and heard the story of the dream, he said
"This is the interpretation: the three golden animals represent us
three brothers, for we are like gold to you. Thakur has sent this
dream in order that we may not fight hereafter; we cannot all three
succeed to the Raj and we shall assuredly fight if one is not chosen
as the heir. It is intended that whichever of us can find a golden
leopard, and a golden snake and a golden monkey and make them dance
before the people, he is your principal son and shall be your heir,"
The Raja was pleased with this interpretation and told his three sons
that he would give the Raj to whichever of them could find the three
animals by that day year.
The sons of the younger Rani went away, feeling that it was useless
for them to make any attempt to fulfil the conditions; even if they
got a goldsmith to make the animals, they would never be able to make
But the other brother went to his mother and told her all that had
happened, and she bade him be of good courage and he would find the
animals; if he went to a Gosain who lived in the jungle, he would be
told what to do.
So the Raja's son set out, and after travelling for some days he found
himself benighted in a dense jungle. Wandering about, he at last saw
a fire burning in the distance, so he went to it and sat down by it
and began to smoke. Now the Gosain was sleeping near by and the smell
of the smoke awoke him, and he rose and asked who was there.
"O uncle, it is I."
"Really, is it you my nephew? Where have you come from so late
"From home, uncle."
"What has brought me to your memory now? You have never paid me a
visit before. I am afraid that something has happened."
"You need not fear that, I have come to you because my mother tells
me that you can help me to find the golden leopard and the golden
snake and the golden monkey."
At this the Gosain promised to help the Raja's son to find the animals
and then put the cooking-pot on the fire to boil; and in it he put
only three grains of rice, but when it was cooked, they found that
there was enough to make a meal of. When they had eaten, the Gosain
said "Nephew, I cannot tell you what you have to do; but further in
the jungle lives my younger brother: go to him and he will tell you."
So when it was morning the Raja's son set out, and in two days he
reached the second Gosain and told him of his quest. The Gosain
listened to his story and put the cooking-pot on to boil and in it
threw two grains of rice, and this, when cooked, was sufficient for
a good meal. After they had eaten, the Gosain said that he could
not tell how the animals were to be found, but that he had a still
younger brother who could tell. So the next morning the Raja's son
continued his journey, and in two or three days he came to the third
Gosain and there he learnt what was to be done. This Gosain also put
the pot on to boil but in the pot he only put one grain of rice and
a bit of a grain, yet when cooked it was enough for a meal.
In the morning the Gosain told the Raja's son to go to a blacksmith
and have a shield made of twelve maunds of iron and with its edge so
sharp that a leaf falling on it would be cut in two. So he went to
the blacksmith and had a shield made, and took it to the Gosain. The
Gosain said that they must test it, and he set it edgewise in the
ground under a tree and told the Raja's son to climb the tree and
shake some leaves down. The Raja's son climbed the tree and shook
the branches, but not a leaf fell. Then the Gosain climbed up and
gave the tree a shake and the leaves fell in showers and every leaf
that touched the edge of the shield was cut in two. Then the Gosain
was satisfied that the shield was rightly made.
Then the Gosain told the Raja's son, that further on in the jungle
he would find a pair of snakes living in a bamboo house; and they
had a daughter whom they never allowed to come out of the house; he
must fix the sharp shield in the door of the house and hide himself
in a tree, and when the snakes came out they would be cut to pieces;
then, when the snakes were dead, he was to go to their daughter and
she would show him where to find the golden animals. So the Raja's
son set out and about noon he came to the home of the snakes, and he
set the shield in the doorway as the Gosain had said, and at evening,
when the snakes tried to come out of the house, they were cut to
pieces. When her father and mother were dead, the daughter came out
to see what had happened, and the Raja's son saw that she was very
beautiful. He went to her and began to talk and it did not take them
long to fall in love with each other. The snake maiden soon forgot
her father and mother, and she and the Raja's son lived together in
the bamboo house many days.
The snake maiden strictly forebade him to go anywhere to the west or
south of the house, but one day he disobeyed her and wandered away
to the west. After going a short distance he saw golden leopards
dancing, and directly he set eyes on them, he himself was changed
into a golden leopard and began to dance with the others. The snake
maiden soon knew what had happened, and she followed him and led him
back and restored him to his own shape.
A few days later, the Raja's son went away to the south and there he
found golden snakes dancing on the bank of a tank and directly he saw
them, he too became a golden snake and joined the dance. Again the
snake maiden fetched him back and restored him to his own form. But
again the Raja's son went out to the south-west and there he saw
golden monkeys dancing under a banyan tree, and when he saw them he
became a golden monkey; again the snake maiden brought him back and
restored him to human shape.
After this the Raja's son said that it was time for him to go back
home. The snake maiden asked why he had come there at all, and then
he told her all about the Raja's dream and said that as he had found
the animals he would now go home.
"Kill me first" said the snake maiden; "you have killed my parents
and I cannot live alone here." "No, I will not kill you, I will take
you with me" answered the Raja's son, and the snake maiden gladly
agreed. Then the Raja's son asked how he was to take the golden animals
with him, for so far he had only seen where they were. The snake
maiden said that if he faithfully promised never to desert her, nor
take another wife, she would produce the animals for him when the time
came. So he swore never to leave her and they set out for his home.
When they reached the place where the third Gosain lived, the Raja's
son said that he had promised to visit the Gosain on his homeward
journey and show him the golden animals; but he did not know what
to do, as he had not got the animals with him. Then the snake maiden
tied three knots in his cloth and bade him untie them when the Gosain
asked to see the animals. So the Raja's son went to see the Gosain,
and the Gosain asked whether he had brought the golden leopard and
snake and monkey.
"I am not sure" answered the other, "but I have something tied up in
my cloth," and he untied the three knots and found in them a clod of
earth, a potsherd and a piece of charcoal. He threw them away and went
back to the snake maiden, and asked why she had put worthless rubbish
in his cloth. "You had no faith" said she "if you had believed, the
animals would not have turned into the clod and the potsherd and the
charcoal." So they journeyed on, till they came to the second Gosain,
and he also asked to see the golden animals and this time the Raja's
son set his mind hard to believe and, when he untied the knots, there
were a golden leopard and a golden snake and a golden monkey. Then
they went on and showed the animals to the first Gosain, and then
went to the house where his mother lived.
When the appointed day came, the Raja's son sent word to his father
to have a number of booths and shelters erected in a spacious plain,
and to have a covered way made from his mother's house to the plain,
and then he would show the dancing animals. So the Raja gave the
necessary orders, and on the day fixed all the people assembled
to see the fun. Then the Raja's son set the three animals on the
ground and his wife remained hidden in the covered way and caused
the animals to dance. The people stayed watching all day till evening
and then dispersed, That night all the booths and shelters which had
been erected were changed into houses of gold; and when he saw this,
the Raja left his younger wife and her children and went and lived
with his first wife.
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