Birluri And Birbanta
: Part I.
: Folklore Of The Santal Parganas
Birluri was of the Goala caste and Birbanta of the oilman's caste. And
this is the story of their fight.
Birluri was very rich, with great herds of cattle and buffaloes but
Birbanta's wealth consisted in tanks and ponds. Birluri used every
day to water his cattle at Birbanta's ponds: and this made Birbanta
very angry: he felt it an injustice that though Birluri was so rich
he would not dig his own ponds:
o he sent word that Birluri must
stop watering his cattle or he would be killed. Birluri answered
the messengers that he was quite ready to fight Birbanta: for though
Birbanta had made the tanks, it was God who had made the water in them
and so he considered that his cattle had a perfect right to drink the
water. When Birbanta heard this he fell into a rage and vowed that
he would not let the cattle drink, but would kill every living thing
that went down to the water. From that day he let no one drink from
his tanks: when women went to draw water he used to smash their water
pots and put the rims round their necks like necklaces: all wild birds
and animals he shot: and the cattle and buffaloes he cut down with his
axe: and at last he proceeded to kill any human beings who went there.
When the Raja of the country heard this he was very angry and bade
his sipahis search for some one strong enough to overcome and kill
Birbanta: and he promised as a reward the hand of one of his daughters
and half his kingdom. So the sipahis made proclamation all through
the country and at last Birluri heard of it and volunteered to fight
Birbanta. Then the Raja fixed a day for the fight, so that all the
country might know and Birbanta also have due warning.
Both the combatants made ready for the fray: Birbanta was armed with
a sword and a shield like a cart wheel and was skilful at sword play,
while Birluri's weapon was the quarter-staff. The day arrived and
Birluri girded up his loins and set out, twirling his staff round
his head. Now his father and mother were both dead; but on the road
his mother met him in the guise of an old woman, so that he did not
recognise her. She greeted him and asked where he was going and when
she heard that it was to fight Birbanta she said "My son, you are very
strong: but if he asks for water do not give it him, for if you do,
he will assuredly kill you: but when he throws away his sword, do you
make haste and take it and slay him with it." So saying she went on her
way and when Birluri came within a kos of the fighting place he began
to twirl his staff and he made such a cloud of dust that it became
dark as night and in the darkness the staff gleamed like lightning.
When Birbanta saw this he rose up and shouted "Here comes my enemy:
I will fight my best and we will see who will conquer" and when he saw
Birluri armed only with a quarter-staff he felt sure that he would
not be overcome by such a weapon: so he grasped his sword and took
his shield on his arm and went out to the fight The fray was fast
and furious: Birbanta hacked and hacked with his sword but Birluri
caught all the blows on his quarterstaff and took no injury. At
last the end of the staff was hacked off leaving a sharp point:
then Birluri transfixed Birbanta with the pointed end and Birbanta
faltered: again he thrust him through and Birbanta acknowledged
himself defeated, saying "My life is yours: let me drink some water
at your hands before you kill me." So Birluri agreed to a truce and
they stopped fighting. Then Birluri cut down a palm tree and dipped
it into Birbanta's tank and holding out the end to Birbanta told him
to suck it. Birbanta refused to take it and asked him to give him
water in his hands: but Birluri remembered his mother's warning and
refused. Then Birbanta in despair threw away his sword and shield
and Birluri snatched up the sword and smote off his head: and this
is the song of victory which Birluri sang.--
"Birbanta stopped the ghat for the golden oxen--
The dust is raised up to heaven!
Birbanta sat by the ghat of the oxen--
The lightning is flashing in the sky!
He has made an embankment: he has made a tank:
But the water he collected in it, has become his enemy!"
Then Birluri was taken to the Raja and married to one of the Raja's
daughters and given one half of the Raja's kingdom.
After a time Birluri told his wife that they must go back to his
home to look after the large herds of cattle which he had left behind
him. But his wife laughed at him and would not believe that he owned
so much property: then Birluri said that if she would not go with
him he would call the cattle to come to him: so he called them all by
name and the great herd came running to the Raja's palace and filled
the whole barn yard and as there was no room for them to stay there,
they went away into the jungle and became wild cattle.