The Triumph Of Truth - A Hindu Story

: Tales Of Folk And Fairies

There was once a Rajah who was both young and handsome, and yet he had

never married. One time this Rajah, whose name was Chundun, found

himself obliged to make a long journey. He took with him attendants

and horsemen, and also his Wuzeer. This Wuzeer was a very wise

man,--so wise that nothing was hid from him.

In a certain far-off part of the kingdom the Rajah saw a fine garden,

and so beautiful was it t
at he stopped to admire it. He was surprised

to see growing in the midst of it a small bingal tree that bore a

number of fine bingals, but not a single leaf.

"This is a very curious thing, and I do not understand it," said

Chundun Rajah to his Wuzeer. "Why does this tree bear such fine and

perfect fruit, and yet it has not a single leaf?"

"I could tell you the meaning," said the Wuzeer, "but I fear that if I

did you would not believe me and would have me punished for telling a


"That could never be," answered the Rajah; "I know you to be a very

truthful man and wise above all others. Whatever you tell me I shall


"Then this is the meaning of it," said the Wuzeer. "The gardener who

has charge of this garden has one daughter; her name is Guzra Bai, and

she is very beautiful. If you will count the bingals you will find

there are twenty-and-one. Whosoever marries the gardener's daughter

will have twenty and one children,--twenty boys and one girl."

Chundun Rajah was very much surprised at what his Wuzeer said. "I

should like to see this Guzra Bai," said he.

"You can very easily see her," answered the Wuzeer. "Early every

morning she comes into the garden to play among the flowers. If you

come here early and hide you can see her without frightening her, as

you would do if you went to her home."

The Rajah was pleased with this suggestion, and early the next morning

he came to the garden and hid himself behind a flowering bush. It was

not long before he saw the girl playing about among the flowers, and

she was so very beautiful the Rajah at once fell in love with her. He

determined to make her his Ranee, but he did not speak to her or show

himself to her then for fear of frightening her. He determined to go

to the gardener's house that evening and tell him he wished his

daughter for a wife.

As he had determined, so he did. That very evening, accompanied only

by his Wuzeer, he went to the gardener's house and knocked upon the


"Who is there?" asked the gardener from within.

"It is I, the Rajah," answered Chundun. "Open the door, for I wish to

speak with you."

The gardener laughed. "That is a likely story," said he. "Why should

the Rajah come to my poor hut? No, no; you are some one who wishes to

play a trick on me, but you shall not succeed. I will not let you in."

"But it is indeed Chundun Rajah," called the Wuzeer. "Open the door

that he may speak with you."

When the gardener heard the Wuzeer's voice he came and opened the door

a crack, but still he only half believed what was told him. What was

his amazement to see that it was indeed the Rajah who stood there in

all his magnificence with his Wuzeer beside him. The poor man was

terrified, fearing Chundun would be angry, but the Rajah spoke to him


"Do not be afraid," said he. "Call thy daughter that I may speak with

her, for it is she whom I wish to see."

The girl was hiding (for she was afraid) and would not come until her

father took her hand and drew her forward.

When the Rajah saw her now, this second time, she seemed to him even

more beautiful than at first. He was filled with joy and wonder.

"Now I will tell you why I have come here," he said. "I wish to take

Guzra Bai for my wife."

At first the gardener would not believe him, but when he found the

Rajah did indeed mean what he said he turned to his daughter. "If the

girl is willing you shall have her," said he, "but I will not force

her to marry even a Rajah."

The girl was still afraid, yet she could not but love the Rajah, so

handsome was he, and so kind and gracious was his manner. She gave her

consent, and the gardener was overjoyed at the honor that had come to

him and his daughter.

Chundun and the beautiful Guzra Bai were married soon after in the

gardener's house, and then the Rajah and his new Ranee rode away


Now Chundun Rajah's mother, the old Ranee, was of a very proud and

jealous nature. When she found her son had married a common girl, the

daughter of a gardener, and that Chundun thought of nothing but his

bride and her beauty, she was very angry. She determined to rid

herself of Guzra Bai in some way or other. But Chundun watched over

his young Ranee so carefully that for a long time the old Queen could

find no chance to harm her.

But after a while the Rajah found it was again necessary for him to go

on a long journey. Just before he set out he gave Guzra Bai a little

golden bell. "If any danger should threaten or harm befall you, ring

this bell," said he. "Wherever I am I shall hear it and be with you at

once, even though I return from the farthest part of my kingdom."

No sooner had he gone than Guzra Bai began to wonder whether indeed it

were possible that he could hear the bell at any distance and return

to her. She wondered and wondered until at last her curiosity grew so

great that she could not forbear from ringing it.

No sooner had it sounded than the Rajah stood before her. "What has

happened?" he asked. "Why did you call me?"

"Nothing has happened," answered Guzra Bai, "but it did not seem to me

possible that you could really hear the bell so far away, and I could

not forbear from trying it."

"Very well," said the Rajah. "Now you know that it is true, so do not

call me again unless you have need of me."

Again he went away, and Guzra Bai sat and thought and thought about

the golden bell. At last she rang it again. At once the Rajah stood

before her.

"Oh, my dear husband, please to forgive me," cried Guzra Bai. "It

seemed so wonderful I thought I must have dreamed that the bell could

bring you back."

"Guzra Bai, do not be so foolish," said her husband. "I will forgive

you this time, but do not call me again unless you have need of me."

And he went away.

Again and for the third time Guzra Bai rang the bell, and the Rajah


"Why do you call me again?" he asked. "Is it again for nothing, or has

something happened to you?"

"Nothing has happened," answered Guzra Bai, "only somehow I felt so

frightened that I wanted you near me."

"Guzra Bai, I am away on affairs of state," said the Rajah. "If you

call me in this way when you have no need of me, I shall soon refuse

to answer the bell. Remember this and do not call me again without


And for the third time the Rajah went away and left her.

Soon after this the young Ranee had twenty and one beautiful children,

twenty sons and one daughter.

When the old Queen heard of this she was more jealous than ever. "When

the Rajah returns and sees all these children," she thought to

herself, "he will be so delighted that he will love Guzra Bai more

dearly than ever, and nothing I can do will ever separate them." She

then began to plan within herself as to how she could get rid of the

children before the Rajah's return.

She sent for the nurse who had charge of the babies, and who was as

wicked as herself. "If you can rid me of these children, I will give

you a lac of gold pieces," she said. "Only it must be done in such a

way that the Rajah will lay all the blame on Guzra Bai."

"That can be done," answered the nurse. "I will throw the children out

on the ash heaps, where they will soon perish, and I will put stones

in their places. Then when the Rajah returns we will tell him Guzra

Bai is a wicked sorceress, who has changed her children into stones."

The old Ranee was pleased with this plan and said that she herself

would go with the nurse and see that it was carried out.

Guzra Bai looked from her window and saw the old Queen coming with the

nurse, and at once she was afraid. She was sure they intended some

harm to her or the children. She seized the golden bell and rang and

rang it, but Chundun did not come. She had called him back so often

for no reason at all that this time he did not believe she really

needed him.

The nurse and the old Ranee carried away the children, as they had

planned, and threw them on the ash heaps and brought twenty-one large

stones that they put in their places.

When Chundun Rajah returned from his journey the old Ranee met him,

weeping and tearing her hair. "Alas! alas!" she cried. "Why did you

marry a sorceress and bring such terrible misfortune upon us all!"

"What misfortune?" asked the Rajah. "What do you mean?"

His mother then told him that while he was away Guzra Bai had had

twenty-one beautiful children, but she had turned them all into


Chundun Rajah was thunderstruck. He called the wicked nurse and

questioned her. She repeated what the old Ranee had already told him

and also showed him the stones.

Then the Rajah believed them. He still loved Guzra Bai too much to put

her to death, but he had her imprisoned in a high tower, and would not

see her nor speak with her.

But meanwhile the little children who had been thrown out on the ash

heap were being well taken care of. A large rat, of the kind called

Bandicote, had heard them crying and had taken pity on them. She drew

them down into her hole, which was close by and where they would be

safe. She then called twenty of her friends together. She told them

who the children were and where she had found them, and the twenty

agreed to help her take care of the little ones. Each rat was to have

the care of one of the little boys and to bring him suitable food, and

the old Bandicote who had found them would care for the little girl.

This was done, and so well were the children fed that they grew

rapidly. Before long they were large enough to leave the rat hole and

go out to play among the ash heaps, but at night they always returned

to the hole. The old Bandicote warned them that if they saw anyone

coming they must at once hide in the hole, and under no circumstances

must any one see them.

The little boys were always careful to do this, but the little girl

was very curious. Now it so happened that one day the wicked nurse

came past the ash heaps. The little boys saw her coming and ran back

into the hole to hide. But the little girl lingered until the nurse

was quite close to her before she ran away.

The nurse went to the old Ranee, and said, "Do you know, I believe

those children are still alive? I believe they are living in a rat

hole near the ash heap, for I saw a pretty little girl playing there

among the ashes, and when I came close to her she ran down into the

largest rat hole and hid."

The Ranee was very much troubled when she heard this, for if it were

true, as she thought it might be, she feared the Rajah would hear

about it and inquire into the matter. "What shall I do?" she asked the


"Send out and have the ground dug over and filled in," the nurse

replied. "In this way, if any of the children are hidden there, they

will be covered over and smothered, and you will also kill the rats

that have been harboring them."

The Ranee at once sent for workmen and bade them go out to the rat

holes and dig and fill them in, and the children and the rats would

certainly have been smothered just as the nurse had planned, only

luckily the old mother rat was hiding near by and overheard what was

said. She at once hastened home and told her friends what was going to

happen, and they all made their escape before the workmen arrived. She

also took the children out of the hole and hid them under the steps

that led down into an old unused well. There were twenty-one steps,

and she hid one child under each step. She told them not to utter a

sound whatever happened, and then she and her friends ran away and

left them.

Presently the workmen came with their tools and began to fill in the

rat holes. The little daughter of the head workman had come with him,

and while he and his fellows were at work the little girl amused

herself by running up and down the steps into the well. Every time she

trod upon a step it pinched the child who lay under it. The little

boys made no sound when they were pinched, but lay as still as stones,

but every time the child trod on the step under which the Princess lay

she sighed, and the third time she felt the pinch she cried out, "Have

pity on me and tread more lightly. I too am a little girl like you!"

The workman's daughter was very much frightened when she heard the

voice. She ran to her father and told him the steps had spoken to her.

The workman thought this a strange thing. He at once went to the old

Ranee and told her he dared no longer work near the well, for he

believed a witch or a demon lived there under the steps; and he

repeated what his little daughter had told him.

The wicked nurse was with the Ranee when the workman came to her. As

soon as he had gone, the nurse said: "I am sure some of those children

must still be alive. They must have escaped from the rat holes and be

hiding under the steps. If we send out there we will probably find


The Ranee was frightened at the thought they might still be alive. She

ordered some servants to come with her, and she and the nurse went out

to look for the children.

But when the little girl had cried out the little boys were afraid

some harm might follow, and prayed that they might be changed into

trees, so that if any one came to search for them they might not find


Their prayers were answered. The twenty little boys were changed into

twenty little banyan trees that stood in a circle, and the little girl

was changed into a rose-bush that stood in the midst of the circle and

was full of red and white roses.

The old Ranee and the nurse and the servants came to the well and

searched under every step, but no one was there, so went away again.

All might now have been well, but the workman's mischievous little

daughter chanced to come by that way again. At once she espied the

banyan trees and the rose-bush. "It is a curious thing that I never

saw these trees before," she thought. "I will gather a bunch of


She ran past the banyan trees without giving them a thought and began

to break the flowers from the rose-tree. At once a shiver ran through

the tree, and it cried to her in a pitiful voice: "Oh! oh! you are

hurting me. Do not break my branches, I pray of you. I am a little

girl, too, and can suffer just as you might."

The child ran back to her father and caught him by the hand. "Oh, I am

frightened!" she cried. "I went to gather some roses from the

rose-tree, and it spoke to me;" and she told him what the rose-tree

had said.

At once the workman went off and repeated to the Ranee what his little

daughter had told him, and the Queen gave him a piece of gold and sent

him away, bidding him keep what he had heard a secret.

Then she called the wicked nurse to her and repeated the workman's

story. "What had we better do now?" she asked.

"My advice is that you give orders to have all the trees cut down and

burned," said the nurse. "In this way you will rid yourself of the

children altogether."

This advice seemed good to the Ranee. She sent men and had the trees

cut down and thrown in a heap to burn.

But heaven had pity on the children, and just as the men were about to

set fire to the heap a heavy rain storm arose and put out the fire.

Then the river rose over its banks, and swept the little trees down on

its flood, far, far away to a jungle where no one lived. Here they

were washed ashore and at once took on their real shapes again.

The children lived there in the jungle safely for twelve years, and

the brothers grew up tall and straight and handsome, and the sister

was like the new moon in her beauty, so slim and white and shining was


The brothers wove a hut of branches to shelter their sister, and every

day ten of them went out hunting in the forest, and ten of them stayed

at home to care for her. But one day it chanced they all wished to go

hunting together, so they put their sister up in a high tree where she

would be safe from the beasts of the forest, and then they went away

and left her there alone.

The twenty brothers went on and on through the jungle, farther than

they had ever gone before, and so came at last to an open space among

the trees, and there was a hut.

"Who can be living here?" said one of the brothers.

"Let us knock and see," cried another.

The Princes knocked at the door and immediately it was opened to them

by a great, wicked-looking Rakshas. She had only one red eye in the

middle of her forehead; her gray hair hung in a tangled mat over her

shoulders, and she was dressed in dirty rags.

When the Rakshas saw the brothers she was filled with fury.

She considered all the jungle belonged to her, and she was not willing

that any one else should come there. Her one eye flashed fire, and she

seized a stick and began beating the Princes, and each one, as she

struck him, was turned into a crow. She then drove them away and went

back into her hut and closed the door.

The twenty crows flew back through the forest, cawing mournfully. When

they came to the tree where their sister sat they gathered about her,

trying to make her understand that they were her brothers.

At first the Princess was frightened by the crows, but when she saw

there were tears in their eyes, and when she counted them and found

there were exactly twenty, she guessed what had happened, and that

some wicked enchantment had changed her brothers into this shape. Then

she wept over them and smoothed their feathers tenderly.

After this the sister lived up in the tree, and the crows brought her

food every day and rested around her in the branches at night, so that

no harm should come to her.

Some time after this a young Rajah came into that very jungle to hunt.

In some way he became separated from his attendants and wandered

deeper and deeper into the forest, until at length he came to the tree

where the Princess sat. He threw himself down beneath the tree to

rest. Hearing a sound of wings above him the Rajah looked up and was

amazed to see a beautiful girl sitting there among the branches with a

flock of crows about her.

The Rajah climbed the tree and brought the girl down, while the crows

circled about his head, cawing hoarsely.

"Tell me, beautiful one, who are you? And how come you here in the

depths of the jungle?" asked the Rajah.

Weeping, the Princess told him all her story except that the crows

were her brothers; she let him believe that her brothers had gone off

hunting and had never returned.

"Do not weep any more," said the Rajah. "You shall come home with me

and be my Ranee, and I will have no other but you alone."

When the Princess heard this she smiled, for the Rajah was very

handsome, and already she loved him.

She was very glad to go with him and be his wife. "But my crows must

go with me," she said, "for they have fed me for many long days and

have been my only companions."

To this the Rajah willingly consented, and he took her home with him

to the palace; and the crows circled about above them, following

closely all the way.

When the old Rajah and Ranee (the young Rajah's father and mother) saw

what a very beautiful girl he had brought back with him from the

jungle they gladly welcomed her as a daughter-in-law.

The young Ranee would have been very happy now in her new life, for

she loved her husband dearly, but always the thought of her brothers

was like a weight upon her heart. She had a number of trees planted

outside her windows so that her brothers might rest there close to

her. She cooked rice for them herself and fed them with her own hands,

and often she sat under the trees and stroked them and talked to them

while her tears fell upon their glossy feathers.

After a while the young Ranee had a son, and he was called Ramchundra.

He grew up straight and tall, and he was the joy of his mother's eyes.

One day, when he was fourteen years old, and big and strong for his

age, he sat in the garden with his mother. The crows flew down about

them, and she began to caress and talk to them as usual. "Ah, my dear

ones!" she cried, "how sad is your fate! If I could but release you,

how happy I should be."

"Mother," said the boy, "I can plainly see that these crows are not

ordinary birds. Tell me whence come they, and why you weep over them

and talk to them as you do?"

At first his mother would not tell him, but in the end she related to

him the whole story of who she was, and how she and her brothers had

come to the jungle and had lived there happily enough until they were

changed into crows; and then of how the Rajah had found her and

brought her home with him to the palace.

"I can easily see," said Ramchundra, when she had ended the tale,

"that my uncles must have met a Rakshas somewhere in the forest and

have been enchanted. Tell me exactly where the tree was--the tree

where you lived--and what kind it was?"

The Ranee told him.

"And in which direction did your brothers go when they left you?"

This also his mother told him. "Why do you ask me these questions, my

son?" she asked.

"I wish to know," said Ramchundra, "for sometime I intend to set out

and find that Rakshas and force her to free my uncles from her

enchantment and change them back to their natural shapes again."

His mother was terrified when she heard this, but she said very little

to him, hoping he would soon forget about it and not enter into such a

dangerous adventure.

Not long afterward Ramchundra went to his father and said, "Father, I

am no longer a child; give me your permission to ride out into the

world and see it for myself."

The Rajah was willing for him to do this and asked what attendants his

son would take with him.

"I wish for no attendants," answered Ramchundra. "Give me only a

horse, and a groom to take care of it."

The Rajah gave his son the handsomest horse in his stables and also a

well-mounted groom to ride with him. Ramchundra, however, only allowed

the groom to go with him as far as the edge of the jungle, and then he

sent him back home again with both the horses.

The Prince went on and on through the forest for a long distance until

at last he came to a tree that he felt sure was the one his mother had

told him of. From there he set forth in the same direction she told

him his uncles had taken. He went on and on, ever deeper and deeper

into the forest, until at last he came to a miserable looking hut. The

door was open, and he looked in. There lay an ugly old hag fast

asleep. She had only one eye in the middle of her forehead, and her

gray hair was tangled and matted and fell over her face. The Prince

entered in very softly, and sitting down beside her, he began to rub

her head. He suspected that this was the Rakshas who had bewitched his

uncles, and it was indeed she.

Presently the old woman awoke. "My pretty lad," said she, "you have a

kind heart. Stay with me here and help me, for I am very old and

feeble, as you see, and I cannot very well look out for myself."

This she said not because she really was old or feeble, but because

she was lazy and wanted a servant to wait on her.

"Gladly will I stay," answered the lad, "and what I can do to serve

you, that I will do."

So the Prince stayed there as the Rakshas' servant. He served her hand

and foot, and every day she made him sit down and rub her head.

One day, while he was rubbing her head and she was in a good humor he

said to her, "Mother, why do you keep all those little jars of water

standing along the wall? Let me throw out the water so that we may

make some use of the jars."

"Do not touch them," cried the Rakshas. "That water is very powerful.

One drop of it can break the strongest enchantment, and if any one has

been bewitched, that water has power to bring him back to his own

shape again."

"And why do you keep that crooked stick behind the door? To-morrow I

shall break it up to build a fire."

"Do not touch it," cried the hag. "I have but to wave that stick, and

I can conjure up a mountain, a forest, or a river just as I wish, and

all in the twinkling of an eye."

The Prince said nothing to that, but went on rubbing her head.

Presently he began to talk again. "Your hair is in a dreadful tangle,

mother," he said. "Let me get a comb and comb it out."

"Do not dare!" screamed the Rakshas. "One hair of my head has the

power to set the whole jungle in flames."

Ramchundra again was silent and went on rubbing her head, and after a

while the old Rakshas fell asleep and snored till the hut shook with

her snoring.

Then, very quietly, the Prince arose. He plucked a hair from the old

hag's head without awakening her, he took a flask of the magic water

and the staff from behind the door, and set out as fast as he could go

in the direction of the palace.

It was not long before he heard the Rakshas coming through the jungle

after him, for she had awakened and found him gone.

Nearer and nearer she came, and then the Prince turned and waved the

crooked stick. At once a river rolled between him and the Rakshas.

Without pause the Rakshas plunged into the river and struck out

boldly, and soon she reached the other side.

On she came again close after Ramchundra. Again he turned and waved

the staff. At once a thick screen of trees sprang up between him and

the hag. The Rakshas brushed them aside this way and that as though

they had been nothing but twigs.

On she came, and again the Prince waved the staff. A high mountain

arose, but the Rakshas climbed it, and it did not take her long to do


Now she was so close that Ramchundra could hear her panting, but the

edge of the jungle had been reached. He turned and cast the Rakshas'

hair behind him. Immediately the whole jungle burst into fire, and the

Rakshas was burned up in the flames.

Soon after the Prince reached the palace and hastened out into the

garden. There sat his mother weeping, with the crows gathered about

her. When she saw Ramchundra she sprang to her feet with a scream of

joy and ran to him and took him in her arms.

"My son! my son! I thought you had perished!" she cried. "Did you meet

the Rakshas?"

"Not only did I meet her, but I have slain her and brought back with

me that which will restore my uncles to their proper shapes," answered

the Prince.

He then dipped his fingers into the jar he carried and sprinkled the

magic water over the crows. At once the enchantment was broken, and

the twenty Princes stood there, tall and handsome, in their own proper


The Ranee made haste to lead them to her husband and told him the

whole story. The Rajah could not wonder enough when he understood that

the Princes were his wife's brothers, and were the crows she had

brought home with her.

He at once ordered a magnificent feast to be prepared and a day of

rejoicing to be held throughout all the kingdom.

Many Rajahs from far and near were invited to the feast, and among

those who came was the father of the Ranee and her brothers, but he

never suspected, as he looked upon them, that they were his children.

Before they sat down to the feast the young Ranee said to him, "Where

is your wife Guzra Bai? Why has she not come with you? We had expected

to see her here?"

The Rajah was surprised that the young Ranee should know his wife's

name, but he made some excuse as to why Guzra Bai was not there.

Then the young Rajah said, "Send for her, I beg of you, for the feast

cannot begin till she is here."

The older Rajah was still more surprised at this. He could not think

any one was really concerned about Guzra Bai, and he feared the young

Rajah wished, for some reason, to quarrel with him. But he agreed to

send for his wife, and messengers were at once dispatched to bring

Guzra Bai to the palace.

No sooner had she come than the young Ranee began to weep, and she and

the Princes gathered about their mother. Then they told the Rajah the

whole story of how his mother and the nurse had sought to destroy

Guzra Bai and her children, and how they had been saved, and had now

come to safety and great honor.

The Rajah was overcome with joy when he found that Guzra Bai was

innocent. He prayed her to forgive him, and this she did, and all was

joy and happiness.

As for the old Ranee, she was shut up in the tower where Guzra Bai had

lived for so many years, but the old nurse was killed as befitted such

a wicked woman.