Lakhan And The Wild Buffaloes





Once upon a time there was the only son of a widow, who used to tend

the sheep and goats of a Raja and his name was Lakhan. One day he

harnessed one of the goats to a plough and ploughed up a piece of high

land and sowed hemp there. The crop grew finely, but one night a herd

of wild buffaloes came and ate it all up; at this Lakhan resolved to

pursue the buffaloes and shoot them.



His mother did all she could to dissuade him but he made up a bundle

of provisions, and set off on his journey with a stick, and a bow

and arrows, and a flute made of the castor oil plant. He tracked the

buffaloes for some days and one evening he came to the house of an

old witch (hutibudhi) and he went up to it and asked the witch if he

might sleep there. She answered "My house is rough and dirty, but

you can choose a corner to sleep in; I can give you nothing more,

as I have not a morsel of food in the house." "Then," said he,

"I must go to bed hungry" and he lay down supperless.



In the middle of the night the witch began to gnaw at Lakhan's bow

and he heard her gnawing and called out "What are you munching? Give

me at bit," but she answered that it was only a little pulse which

she had gleaned from the fields and she had finished it. So Lakhan

said no more; but during the night the witch bit his bow to pieces

and when he saw this in the morning, he was very unhappy; for it was

useless to find the bison, if he had nothing to shoot them with.



So he went home and had an iron bow and arrows made by a blacksmith,

and then started off again. As before he came to the witch's house

and arranged to sleep there; and in the night the witch tried to

bite the bow to pieces, and Lakhan heard her crunching it and asked

her what she was eating: she said it was only a little grain which

she had gleaned. In the morning he found the bow all right, but the

witch's jaws were badly swollen. Lakhan laughed at her and asked what

was the matter and she said that she had toothache.



So Lakhan went on his way rejoicing and at last reached the place

where the wild buffaloes rested at night; he waited there and while he

waited he swept away all the droppings and made the place clean, and

then climbed up into a tree. At evening great herds of buffaloes came

to the place and they were so many that Lakhan was afraid to shoot. So

he stayed there, and every day he used to sweep the place clean, while

the buffaloes were away, and at night time hid himself in the tree.



The buffaloes determined to find out who their benefactor was, and they

chose an old cow to stay behind and watch. The next day the old cow

pretended that she was too weak to rise, and was left behind when the

herd went out to graze. Lakhan thought that she was too old to do him

any harm, so, although she was there, he got down from the tree and

cleaned up the place as usual, and even swept quite close up to the

old cow buffalo. In the evening the other buffaloes came back and the

old cow told them that it was a human being who swept their resting

place clean; and when they promised not to hurt him, she pointed out

the tree where Lakhan was. Then the buffaloes told him to come down

and swore not to kill him but to support him and keep him as their

servant. They told him to make a leaf bowl and they filled this with

their milk, as much as he could drink, and they arranged that he should

stay at the sleeping place and keep it clean, and when he wanted milk

he was to play on his flute and they would come at the sound.



So every noon he used to blow the flute and the cows came, running

and gave him more milk than he wanted so that he used even to bathe

himself in milk, and this made his hair grow very long.



One day a parrot belonging to a Raja saw him drying his long hair

in the sun and the parrot went to the Raja and told him that he had

found a husband for the Raja's daughter, with beautiful long hair;

but that no one could go near where he lived because of the wild

buffaloes; however the parrot undertook to bring him with the help

of a tame crow of the Raja's: so the crow and the parrot flew off to

the jungle, and they decided that the best way to entice Lakhan away,

was to carry off his flute. So when the cows gave him milk at noon and

he put down his flute, the crow seized it in his beak and flew away to

the top of a tree. When Lakhan missed the flute and saw the crow with

it, he began to throw stones but the crow flew off with it, keeping

just out of range; the crow flew from tree to tree and seemed to be

always just about to drop the flute and in this way enticed Lakhan on,

till they came to the Raja's palace and Lakhan followed the crow right

inside and they shut the door on him and made him marry the princess.



After some time his wife's brothers began to talk rudely about

him saying "I suppose this fellow is some poor orphan, without any

relations" and when Lakhan heard this he said that if they wanted

to see his cattle and buffaloes they must make a yard for them. So

the Raja gave orders for a large cattle yard to be made, and when it

was ready Lakhan took his flute and put his wife on the roof of the

palace and he himself climbed a tree and blew on the flute. Then the

wild buffaloes came running at the sound and gored to death every

one they met, and Lakhan and his wife became Raja and Rani.





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