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The Story Of Jhore

Source: Santal Folk Tales

There was a lad named Jhore, who herded goats, and every day while
with his flock he saw a tiger and a lizard fight. The lizard always
vanquished the tiger, and the latter after each encounter came to Jhore
and said, "Which of us won?" Jhore through fear every time replied,
"You won," and the tiger went away pleased.

One day Jhore said to his mother, give me some roasted matkom in a
leaf, and put me into a bag and I will tell you something. So she
wrapped up some matkom in a leaf, and Jhore crept into the bag and
she tied its mouth. Then she said, "What is it, my son, which you
wish to tell me?" Jhore replied, "Every day when I am tending my
goats I see a tiger and a lizard fight, and the tiger is vanquished
by the lizard. The tiger then comes to me and asks, 'which of us
won?' Through fear I say, you won, then the tiger goes away satisfied."

While Jhore was relating the foregoing to his mother the tiger was
listening at the door, and as he finished his story it rushed in, and
seizing the bag carried it off to a dense unexplored forest, on a hill
in the middle of which he placed it. Jhore was very uncomfortable,
and was considering how he could best free himself from the bag. As
he was hungry he was reminded of the matkom he had with him wrapped
in a leaf, so he began to open it, and the dried leaf crackled. The
tiger hearing the noise, asked what produced it. Jhore replied,
"It is yesterday's lizard." The tidings of the presence of his
mortal enemy so terrified the tiger that he exclaimed, "Stop, stop,
Jhore. Do not release him. Let me first escape." After the tiger left
Jhore rolled down the hill side, and away into a still denser forest,
in an open spot of which he came to a stop. The fastening of the bag
was loosed by this time, and Jhore crawled out. All round this open
glade in which our hero found himself was dense forest never trodden
by the foot of man, and tenanted by a herd of wild buffaloes. Jhore
took up his residence there, and subsisted on the roasted matkom as
long as it lasted.

Jhore in his explorations found a number of buffaloe calves left
behind by their mothers who had gone to graze. He tended these daily,
cleaning the place where they lived, and taking them to the water,
where he washed them. In this way a bond of friendship was established
between him and the wild buffaloe calves.

Before the buffaloe cows left for their grazing grounds in the
mornings the calves said, "You stay away till so late at night that,
we are almost famished before you return. Leave some milk with us,
so that when hungry we may drink it." So they left a supply of milk
with them, which they gave to Jhore. He took such care of his charges
that he soon became a great favourite with them.

Matters went on thus for many days till at last the buffaloe cows
said among themselves, "We must watch for, and catch whoever it is
who keeps our calves so clean." So a very powerful wild buffaloe
was appointed to lie in wait, but he missed seeing Jhore when he led
the calves to the water and bathed them, and cleaned and swept out
their stall. The next day another took his place, but he succeeded
no better. The calves were taken to the water, bathed, brought back,
and their stall cleaned and swept as usual without his seeing who
did it. When the others returned in the evening he informed them
that he had failed to solve the mystery. So they said, "What shall
we do now? How shall we catch him? Who will watch to-morrow?" A old
buffaloe cow replied, "I will accept the responsibility." Hearing
her speak thus the others said, "What a good elephant and a good
horse could not do, will ten asses accomplish?" By this they meant,
that two of the strongest of their number having failed, this weak
old cow could not possibly succeed. However, she persisted, and in
the morning the others went to graze leaving her behind.

In a short time she saw Jhore emerge from the dunghill, in which he
resided, and loose the calves, and take them to the water. When he
brought them back he cleaned and swept their stall, and then re-entered
the dunghill. In the evening the others enquired, "Well, did you see
him?" The old buffaloe cow replied, "Yes, I saw him, but I will not
tell you, for you will kill him." They pressed her, but she refused,
saying, "You will kill him." They said, "Why should we kill him who
takes so much care of our young ones?" The old buffaloe cow led them
to the dunghill, and said, "He is in here." So they called to him to
come out, which he did, and when they saw him they were all greatly
pleased, so much so that they there and then hired him to continue
to do the work he had been doing so well. They arranged also to give
him a regular daily supply of milk, so he was duly installed by the
herd of wild buffaloes as care-taker of their calves.

Long after this, he one day took his calves to the river and after
he had bathed them he said to the buffaloe calves, "Wait for me till
I also bathe." They replied, "Bathe, we will graze close by." He
having performed his ablutions sat down on the river bank to comb and
dress his hair, which was twelve cubits long. In combing his tangled
tresses a quantity was wrenched out, this he wrapped up in a leaf and
threw into the stream. It was carried by the current a great distance
down to where a raja's daughter and her companions were bathing. The
raja's daughter saw the leaf floating towards her, and ordered one
of her attendants to bring it to her. When the leaf was opened it
was found to contain hair twelve cubits in length. Immediately after
measuring the hair the raja's daughter complained of fever, and hasted
home to her couch. The raja being informed of his daughter's illness
sent for the most skilled physicians, who prescribed all the remedies
their pharmacopoeia contained, but failed to afford the sufferer any
relief. The grief of the raja was therefore intense.

Then his daughter said to him, "Oh! father, I have one word to say
to you. If you do as I wish, I shall recover." The raja replied,
"Tell me what it is, I shall do my best to please you." So she said,
"If you find me one with hair twelve cubits long and bring him to me,
I shall rally at once." The raja said, "It is well."

The raja caused diligent search to be made for the person with
hair twelve cubits long. He said to a certain jugi, "You traverse
the country far and near, find me the man with hair twelve cubits
long." The jugi enquired everywhere, but could obtain no intelligence
concerning him.

They then made up a parcel of flour and gave it to a crow, whom
they sent to try and find him. The crow flew caw cawing all over
the district, but returned at last and reported failure, saying,
"there is not such a man in the world."

After this they again made up a small parcel of flour, and giving
it to a tame paroquet, said, "Find a man with hair twelve cubits
long." The paroquet, having received his orders, flew away screeching,
and mounting high up into the sky, directed his course straight for
the unexplored forest. In the meantime the dunghill in which Jhore
resided had become a palace.

The paroquet alighted on a tree near Jhore's palace, and began to
whistle. On hearing the unusual sound Jhore came out and saw the
paroquet who was speaking and whistling. The paroquet also eyed him
narrowly, and was delighted to see his hair trailing on the ground. By
this he knew that he had found the object of his search, and with a
scream of delight, he flew away to communicate the tidings to the raja.

The raja was overjoyed with his messenger's report, and ordered the
bariat to set out immediately. In a short time they were on their
way accompanied by elephants, horses, drums, and fifes. On reaching
Jhore's palace they were about to enter for the purpose of seizing
him, when he exclaimed, "Do not pass my threshold." They replied,
"We will carry you away with us." He said, "Do not come near." "We will
certainly carry you away," they replied. Jhore then ran into his house,
and seizing his flute mounted to the roof, and began to play. As the
notes of the flute resounded through the forest it seemed to say,

A staff of Pader [23] wood
A flute of Erandom [24]
Return, return, return,
Oh! wild buffaloe cows.

The sound of the flute startled the wild buffaloes, and they said
one to another, "Sister. What has happened to Jhore?" Then he played
again the same as before;

A staff of Pader wood
A flute of Erandom
Return, return, return,
Oh! wild buffaloe cows.

As the echoes of Jhore's flute died away in the forest glades the wild
buffaloes sprang forward, and rushed to his assistance. On arrival they
found the house and courtyard full of people, and large numbers outside
who could not gain admittance. They immediately charged them with
all their force, goring many to death, and scattering the remainder,
who flung away their drums and fifes, and fled as for dear life.

When the raja heard of their discomfiture he sent again for the
paroquet, and giving a small parcel of flour to him said, "Stay some
time with him until you gain his confidence, and watch your chance
to bring away his flute." Having received his orders he flew off
to Jhore's palace, and having gained access to where the flute was,
when Jhore was out of the way he brought it away, and gave it to the
raja. The raja was delighted at the sight of the flute, and again
ordered the bariat to go to fetch Jhore. A still more imposing array
than the former started with elephants, horses, drums, fifes, and
palkis, and in due course arrived at Jhore's residence. On seeing them
Jhore called out, "Do not approach, or you will rue it presently." They
replied, "You beat us off the first time, therefore you now crow, but
you will not now be able to balk us, we shall take you with us." Again
he warned them to stay where they were, saying, "Do not come near me,
or you will rue it presently." They replied, "We will take you with
us this time, we will not leave you behind." Jhore then ran into his
house, and searched for his flute, but as it had been carried away
by the paroquet he could not find it, so seizing another he mounted
to the roof, and began to play. The flute seemed to say;

A staff of Pader wood
A flute of Erandom
Return, return, return,
Oh! wild buffaloe cows.

The sound startled the wild buffaloes who said one to another
"Sister. What is it Jhore says?" Again the music of the flute reached
their ears, and the entire herd rushed off to Jhore's rescue. They
charged the crowd in and around the palace of their favourite with
such determination that in a few minutes many lay gored to death,
and those who were so fortunate as to escape threw down drums,
fifes, and palkis, and fled pell mell from the place. The raja,
being informed of the catastrophe that had befallen the bariat,
again called the paroquet, and after he had given him careful
instructions as to how he should proceed, dismissed him. He said,
"This time you must stay many days with him, and secure his entire
confidence and friendship. Then you must bring away all his flutes,
do not leave him one." So the paroquet flew swiftly, and alighted on
a tree near to Jhore's house, and began to whistle. Jhore seeing it
was a paroquet brought it food, and induced it to come down, and allow
him to take it in his hand. The two, it is said, lived together many
days, and greatly enjoyed each other's society. The paroquet when he
had informed himself as to where all Jhore's flutes were kept, one
day tied them all up in a bundle, and carried them to the raja. The
sight of the flutes revived the drooping spirits of his Majesty. He
gave orders a third time for the bariat to go and bring Jhore, so they
started with greater pomp and show than before. Elephants, horses, and
an immense number of men with drums and fifes, and palkis formed the
procession. On their arrival Jhore came out of his palace and said to
them, "Do not come near, or you will rue it." They replied, "This time
we will have you. We will take you with us." Again Jhore warning them
said, "Come no nearer. If you do, you will see something as good as a
show. Do you not remember how you fared the other day?" But they said,
"We will carry you away with us." Jhore ran inside to get his flute,
so that he might call the wild buffaloes to his assistance; but no
flute was to be found. Without the help of his powerful friends he
could offer no resistance, so they seized him, and bore him away in
triumph to the raja.

When the raja's daughter heard of his arrival the fever suddenly
left her, and she was once more in excellent health. She and Jhore
were united in the bonds of marriage forthwith; but Jhore was kept
a close prisoner in the palace.

In course of time a son blessed the union, and when the child was
able to walk Jhore's wife said to him, "Where is the large herd of
buffaloes which you boast so much about? If they were here "Sonny"
would have milk and curds daily." Jhore plucking up courage, replied,
"If you do not believe me order a stockade to be constructed thirty-two
miles long and thirty-two miles broad, and you shall soon behold my
buffaloes." So they made a pen thirty-two miles long and thirty-two
miles broad. Then Jhore said, "Give me my old flute, and you all remain
within doors." So they brought him his flute, and he went up on to the
roof of the palace, and played. The music seemed to call as follows:

A staff of Pader wood
A flute of Erandom
Return, return, return,
Oh! wild buffaloe cows.

The sound startled the wild buffaloes in their forest home, and they
said one to another, "Sister. What does Jhore say?" Again the music
seemed to say,

A staff of Pader wood
A flute of Erandom
Return, return, return,
Oh! wild buffaloe cows.

At Jhore's second call the herd of wild buffaloes dashed off at
their utmost speed, and never halted till they reached the raja's
palace. They came in such numbers that the pen could not contain them
all, many remained outside.

Those that entered the pen are the domesticated buffaloes of to-day,
and those who were without are the wild buffaloes still found in the
forests of India.

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