The Transmigration Of Souls

: Part V.
: Folklore Of The Santal Parganas

All the cats of Hindus have believed and believe, and the Santals also

have said and say, that Thakur made the land and sky and sea and man

and animals and insects and fish and the creation was complete and

final: he made their kinds and castes once for all and did not alter

them afterwards; and he fixed the time of growth and of dwelling in

the body; and for the flowers to seed and he made at that time as

many souls a
was necessary and the same souls go on being incarnated

sometimes in a human body and sometimes in the body of an animal;

and so it is that many human beings really have the souls of animals;

if a man has a man's soul he is of a gentle disposition; but if he gets

the soul of a dog or cat then he is bad tempered and ready to quarrel

with everyone; and the man with a frog's soul is silent and sulky and

those who get tiger's souls when they start a quarrel never give up

till they gain their point. There is a story which proves all this.

There was once a Brahman who had two wives and as he knew something

of herbs and simples he used to leave his wives at home and go about

the country as a quack doctor; but whenever he came home his two wives

used to scold him and find fault with him for no reason at all till

they made his life a burden. So he resolved to leave two such shrews

and one day when they had been scolding as usual he put on the garb

of a jogi and in spite of their protests went out into the world.

After journeying two or three days he came to a town in which a

pestilence was raging and he sat down to rest under a tree on the

outskirts. There he noticed that many corpses had been thrown out and

he saw two vultures fly down to feed on the bodies; and the he-vulture

said to his mate "Which corpse shall we eat first?" Now the Brahman

somehow understood the language of the birds--but the mate returned

no answer though the he-vulture kept on repeating the question; at

last she said "Don't you see there is a man sitting at the foot of

the tree?" Then they both approached the Brahman and asked why he was

sitting in such a place and whether he was in distress; he told them

that trouble had driven him from his home and that he was wandering

about the world as chance led him, because the continual quarrelling of

his two wives was more than he could bear. The vultures said "We will

give you a means by which you may see your wives as they really are"

and one of them pulled out a wing feather and told him when he went

to any house begging to stick it behind his ear and then he would

see what the people were really like; and they advised him to marry a

woman who gave him alms with her hands. Then he got up and went away

with the feather, leaving the birds to prey on the corpses.

When the Brahman came to a village to beg he saw by the aid of the

feather, that some of the people were really cats and some were dogs

and other animals and when they gave him alms they brought it in their

teeth; then he made up his mind to go home and see what his wives

really were; and he found that one was a bitch and one was a sow;

and when they brought him water they carried the cup in their months;

at this sight he left the house again in disgust, determined to marry

any woman who offered him alms with her hands.

He wandered for days till at last the daughter of a Chamar, when he

begged, brought him alms in her hands; and he at once determined to

stay there and marry her at all costs; so he sat down and when the

Chamar asked why he did not go away he said that he meant to marry the

girl who had given him alms and live in his house as his son-in-law;

the Chamar did all he could to remonstrate at such an extraordinary

proposal as that a Brahman should destroy his caste by marrying a

Chamar; the Brahman said that they might do what they liked to him

but that he would not leave till he obtained his bride. So at last

the Chamar called in his castefellows and relations to advise him

whether he would be guilty of any sin in yielding to the proposal of

the Brahman; and they called into council the principal villagers of

all the other castes and after fully questioning the Chamar and the

Brahman the judgment of the villagers was that the marriage should

take place and they would take the responsibility. Then the Brahman

was made to give a full account of himself and where he had come from,

and when this was found to be true, the bride price was fixed and

paid and the marriage took place and the Brahman became a Chamar.