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U Biskurom

Source: Folk-tales Of The Khasis

In the beginning of time mankind were very ignorant and did their
work with great trouble and labour, for they had no tools and did not
understand the way to make them. The Great God saw their difficulty
from heaven, and He sent one of the heavenly beings down to the earth,
in the likeness of a young man, to teach them. The name of this young
man was U Biskurom. He was very noble to look at, and none of the sons
of mankind could compare with him; he was also very gentle and good.

He taught mankind many useful crafts. From him they learned to know
the value of metals and the way to smelt iron and to make tools, but
mankind were very slow to learn, and liked better to muddle in their
own old way than to follow the directions given them by U Biskurom,
so he had to stay such a long time on the earth that he forgot the
way back to heaven. He was, however, so patient and painstaking that
at last they learned to make good tools and to use them.

Seeing that U Biskurom excelled them in finishing his instruments, and
that he could do double their work in a day, mankind took advantage
of his gentleness. They used him to save trouble to themselves, and
often demanded work from him that it was impossible for him to do,
and when he failed to satisfy them they grew angry and abusive.

One day they made a clay image and called upon U Biskurom to make it
alive; when he told them that he had not learnt how to produce life,
they abused him and threatened to imprison him until he complied
with their request. When U Biskurom saw that they would not listen to
reason, he told them that if they wanted him to impart life to their
images they must let him go back to heaven to gain the necessary
knowledge. Upon this mankind took counsel together what to do. Some
feared that if they let him go away he would never return. Others (the
majority, however) thought that as the knowledge of how to impart life
would be so valuable, it was worth risking a good deal to obtain it;
so mankind decided to release U Biskurom.

As he had forgotten the road along which he came to the earth, it was
necessary for U Biskurom to invent some means whereby he could go up
to heaven; so he told mankind to twine a long piece of string and to
make a strong kite on which he could ascend to the sky. So mankind
twined a long string and made a strong kite, and U Biskurom rode upon
it to the sky. When they said, "Perhaps if we let you go you will
not come back," he told them not to let go of the string, so that if
he was not allowed to come back, he could write the knowledge on the
kite and send it down to them. This satisfied them and they let him go.

When U Biskurom reached heaven the Great God told him that he could not
go back to the earth because He had seen how mankind had ill-treated
him, and because of their ingratitude and their unholy ambition to
impart life. So U Biskurom wrote upon the kite and sent it down to
the earth.

When mankind saw the kite descending a great throng came together to
read the directions for imparting life, but to their chagrin there
was not one among them able to decipher the writing. They consulted
together what to do, for they were very angry with U Biskurom, and
they decided to send a great shout to heaven, which would cause such
a volley that the concussion would kill U Biskurom.

U Biskurom laughed when he saw their folly, and in order to make them
still more foolish, he caused some drops of blood to fall down from
heaven, and when mankind saw these drops of blood they concluded that
he had been killed by the force of their great shout.

Because of their ingratitude and their uplifted pride mankind have
remained in great ignorance, and all the knowledge they possess is
very imperfect and gained at great labour and expense.

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