The Origin Of Lightning
: Nature's Riddles and Their Answers
: Laos Folk-lore Of Farther India
There was once a great chief who desired above all things to be happy in
the future life, therefore he continually made feasts for the priests
and the poor; spending much money in making merit. He had ten wives,
nine of whom helped him in all the merit-makings, but the head wife, his
favorite, would never take part. Laughing, and making herself beautiful
in soft garments and jewels, she gave naught to the priests.
And on a day, when the great chief and his nine merit-making wives were
no more, but had gone to live in the sky on account of their
merit-making, the great chief longed for his favorite, and taking a
glass, he looked down on the earth to see her. After many days, he
beheld her as a crane hunting for food on the border of a lake. The
great chief, to try her heart and to see if she had repented, came down
from his home in the sky in the form of a fish, and swam to the crane.
Seeing the fish, the crane pecked at it, but the fish sprang out of the
water, and when the crane saw it was alive, she would not touch it.
Again the fish floated near the crane and she pecked at it, but on
finding it was alive let it escape. Then was the heart of the great
chief glad, for he saw that his favorite wife would not destroy life
even to satisfy her hunger, and he knew that her merit was such she
could be born in the form of a woman again.
It happened on a day that the crane died, and, when again born, had the
form of a gardener's child. As the child grew in years and stature, she
was fairer than any other in the land, and, when a maiden, the father
and mother made a feast, inviting all the people to come. During the
feast, they gave a wreath of beautiful flowers to their daughter and
said, "Throw this into the air, and on whosesoever head it falls, that
one will be to thee a husband."
The great chief, her husband of old, seeking her, came down to the earth
in the form of an old man, and, when the maiden cast the wreath into the
air, it fell on the head of this old man.
Great sport was made of him, and tauntingly the people cried, "Does this
bent stick think he is mate for our lotus flower?"
But the fair maiden placed her hand in the old man's hand, and, together
they rose into the air. In vain they sought to detain them--the father
even shot at the old man, but they were soon lost to sight, and to this
day, when the people see the chain lightning in the sky, they say it is
the wreath of the beautiful maiden; when the lightning strikes, they say
it is the gardener shooting at the old man, and, when the heat lightning
flashes, they say it is the great chief flashing his glass over the
earth in search of his favorite and beautiful wife.