Tawi Tales:Folk Tales from Jammu



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1. No.2

There was once a man who was the richest in his locality but had no child to whom to leave his wealth. He was so distressed at the idea that he used to entertain all the fakirs and sadhus in the hope that one of them might grant him a son.

Once Nard Muni visited him in the guise of a sadhu and the rich man entertained him so well that Nard Muni, after feasting, was quite gratified and asked him to name a boon. The man immediately asked for a son. Nard Muni, taken aback at the request, pondered some time, then re-plied, “God has not ordained that you should be blessed with a son; however, as I have promised, I will ask Brahma to grant you this boon.”

According to his promise Nard Muni went to Brahma to ask for a son for the rich man. Brahmā answered, “What ever is written in fate is written. I cannot change it.”

And so Nard Muni returned disheartened.

At a later time there came another sadhu to the rich man, whom he gratified. The sadhu told the man to a a boon, and the rich man replied, “I asked Nard Muni for son; but even he could not confer it upon me. How then could you?”

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The sadhu was enraged at the reply, and said, “One two, and three!” This meant that he gave the man three sons. A year later a son was born to the rich man, and by the time three years had passed he had three sons.

One day Nard Muni came again to that city and the rich man again feasted and gratified him. When Nard Muni saw the three children, he inquired as to whom they belong-ed. The rich man told him the whole story, at which Nard Muni became angry and went back to Brahma to demand an explanation.

When he reached Brahma’s court, he asked, “What is the reason that you could not give even one son at my re-quest, and yet you have given three sons at the request of another sadhu?”

Brahmā was frightened by Nard Muni's rage, and tried to calm him, as did also his courtiers, and to do this he asked him politely, "Please stay in my court a couple of days."

A fortnight later Brahmā asked Nard Muni to accom-pany him for a walk. As they passed through a jungle, they saw the cottage of a sadhu, and, being hungry, they asked him for some food. The sadhu, welcoming them, re-quested them to sit down while he prepared some rice. He made a fire, put the vessel on the stove to boil the rice, but before the rice was cooked his fuel gave out. Then the holy man put both his legs into the stoves to serve as fuel. When half his legs were burnt away, the rice boiled, [Page 44] and he took it off and distributed it to his guests.

When the rice had all been eaten, Brahmā said to Nard Muni, "This sadhu is the man who can grant sons, not you; for he is ready to sacrifice even his life for his guests."

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2. No.3

There was once a shoemaker who was very poor and used to earn his living by the sweat of his labour. To protect himself and his family from the cold he wanted to make a blanket, and to do so he went to his fellow vil-lagers to get some money. But to his grant ill luck he was unable to get the money from them and so returned to his home.

On the way he met a man quite naked and shivering with cold. He stopped, gave him his waistcoat, and asked him to go home with him. There he showed the stranger the best hospitality he could. A few days later he suggested to the stranger that he should earn his own living, but the man protested that he knew no trade. He asked the shoe-maker to teach him cobbling, and this the shoemaker did; so that in a few months' time the stranger was expert and he and the shoemaker working together soon became pros-perous.

One day a very wealthy man came to the shop and in haughty tones ordered a pair of boots. Frowning at the shoemaker's helper he asked Gangu, the shoemaker, who this fellow was. Gangu told him. The wealthy man, turning to the helper, sternly told him that the shoes had to be very [Page 46] durable. On hearing this the helper laughed, to the great amazement of the wealthy man.

As the customer turned to go, his forehead struck the door of the shop so that he had to be carried away by his servants, and on his way home he died.

The next day Gangu's helper, instead of making a pair of boots as he had been offered, made a pair of slip-pers ,which act quite horrified Gangu. But the day follow-ing the wealthy man's servants came to the shoemaker's to ask for slippers instead of boots.

Another day a woman with two girls came to the shop to ask the shoemaker to make a pair of slippers for each. While talking the shoemaker asked the woman if the girls were hers. She replied that she was not their mother; nevertheless she had brought them up as her own. Hearing this, Gangu's helpmate laughed.

A few days later the helper asked Gangu for leave to go. His mission on earth, he said, was over. He was not a human being but an angel of Yamrāj (God of the under-world). Once his master had ordered him to take the life of a woman who had just given birth to two girls, while her husband had died just a few days before. Feeling pity for the woman he had hesitated to carry out the order, in con-sequence of which Yamrāj had commanded him to go to live in the world to search out, "Who is he who takes care of all beings, and what is the most precious quality in man!"

When he saw the woman with the two orphaned girls [Page 47] whom she was caring for, he had realized that God takes care of all beings. And from the kind hospitality of the shoemaker he had learned that sympathy is the best and most precious quality in man.

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3. No.4

In the village of Bhimbar1 there once lived a sāhukār (money-lender)who had no son. Someone told him that the fault lay in his wife. Being a wealthy man, he no sooner showed a desire to make another marriage than he received many officers. With his wife's consent he accepted one and was married to a beautiful, affectionate, and faithful wife; but again all was useless. She too failed to have a child. The fault lay not with his wives but with the karmsof his last existence.

One day while the sāhukār was sitting with one wife on the right side and the other on the left, he said, "It has become impossible for me to live in this state: I wish to retire to the jungle. You two may divide my property equally: if one of you wishes to stay in this house, she may do so, and the other may go to her father's; or both of you may live here. I leave the choice to you."

The wives both began to weep, and the elder said, "My lord, the house and the wealth without your presence are all dust. I will go with you wherever you go." She [Page 49] could speak no more.

Then the younger wife said, "My good husband, why leave your house? I can tell you something to do so that we may be blessed with a son."

The husband said, "Tell me, tell me at once, and you will see that I shall leave nothing undone."

The wife said, "Give alms; satisfy sadhus; spend your wealth in constructing useful buildings for the poor; then wait patiently for the result of the good you have done. What I have said is not from me; it is from God. I am inspired." Having said this much, she stopped.

After this they went to bed. The next morning the sāhukār commenced a sadāvrat (daily distribution of alms), at which all who came were fed free. Special arrangements were made for the sadhus of those days who were not like modern sadhus.

After the lapse of a year four sadhus came to the village in a band, of whom one cried loudly, "We want some-thing from a man who loves the god Shiv. What it is I will tell only to the man who promises to grant it."

No one would ask; but the younger wife heard the cry, and when her husband got home she said, "My dear, have you heard the day's news?"

"No," answered the sāhukār, "tell me what it is; I [Page 50] am anxious to hear it, especially from you."

She told him about the four sadhus and their announcement, at the same time asking him to fulfill their needs. The sāhukār went immediately to the bazar, where he found them still loudly calling the same words, and, promising them what they wanted, he took them to the dharm-sālā (almshouse), which had been built for this very pur-pose. They asked for what they wanted, and he complied with their wishes.

One day one of the sadhus asked the sāhukār if he too needed anything. The sāhukār replied weeping, "My good sir, there is no man in the world who is perfectly satis-fied, especially among us worldly folk. I have sufficient riches, but I am poor in children."

The sadhu said, "Our god Shiva will emerge from a period of meditation at the end of this month. Go there with us, and I hope that you will be blessed with a son." The sāhukār then went home and told his wived what had happened, and they urged him to go to the god Shiva with the sadhus.

A week or so later the four sadhus got themselves ready to go to Shiva's abode where the Ganges emerges from the Himalayas, taking the sāhukār with them. They warned him that the god would dislike him, but that he must come again and again to the place, no matter how often repulsed. For fifteen days they travelled, arriving at their destina-tion just one day before Shiva emerged from his meditation.

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When the god saw a stranger sitting near him, he was enraged and asked his disciples who the man was. One of them told him the man's entire history with special reference to his purpose in coming. Shiva, much displeased, ordered the disciples to send the sāhukār off. They did so, but the man returned; again he was sent away and again he came back. Three times this happended. On the fourth time Shiva took pity on him and asked him why he had come. The sāhukār told his story and ended by asking help.

Since it was not in Shiva's power to bless him with a son, he took him to the god Mahadeo. From him they went to Vishnu. These three gods with the sāhukār went to Maharaj, or Dharmraj, whom the god Shiva asked to bless the sāhukār with a son. Dharmraj replied, "Everything con-cerning birth and death lies in the hands of Vidmata. She is not here; so let us go to her house. There we shall see about everything."

They all seated themselves in a bawān (chariot of the gods) and went to her residence. When her watchman [Page 52] saw the bawān coming, he informed her, and she made proper arrangements for reaching Dharmrāj. The bawān descended in the garden attached to her palace and they all went into her drawing room.

After first inquiring politely about her health and her children, of whom she had twelve although she had no husband, they came to the real point. The book of fate was brought out. It was so bulky that it took four angels to carry it. This book contained only the fate of the sāhukār's family. When they looked into it, they found that the sāhukār was not to blessed with a son, and then the following conversation took place between Dharmrāj and Vidmata.

Dharmraj asked, "How many sons have you?" She replied, "Only twelve, sir!" Dharmraj addressed the gods, "It is very strange that a man should not have not even one son, while a goddess, who is at that without a husband, should possess twelve, and yet should say 'only'."

Dharmrāj then asked her to bring all her sons be-fore him. The youngest was the most handsome boy ever born, so beautiful that the Shiva wished him for his own, and he hinted to the sāhukār to choose him.

The sāhukār said to Dharmraj, "My lord, god of the gods, I accept the youngest although he is not present in good health."

His forehead and the little finger of his right [Page 53] hand had been bandaged by Vidmata, not because there was any wound there, for there was not, but merely that the sāhukār might not choose him, for on his forehead was a shining moon and on his finger a shining star.

Dharmrāj, who knew everything, asked Vidmata why she covered his forehead.

"Nothing has happened," she said. "He fell from the roof of the house while playing with his brothers."

Dharmrāj did not wish to reveal the secret as she was one of his ministers. Then Shiva covered the body with a white sheet and recited some slokas(stanzas), and when the sheet was lifted, the body was no longer there. Where it had gone you can imagine. The meeting now dispersed and everyone went home, the sāhukār going to Shiva's dwell-ing with the god. The disciples asked what had happened, and were informed of the whole affair. After staying with Shiva two days, the sāhukār returned to his village.

He reached his village after thirty-five days, and as soon as he entered his house he felt a strange, wild happiness such as he had never felt before. Both his wives were happy, though why I cannot tell. The gloom which had hung over them for years and years was wholly gone.

When the usual time had passed, the younger wife gave birth to a beautiful son like the boy that disappeared from Vidmata's palace; there was no difference in counten-nance or body except for size. When he was born, everyone was happy and justly so, while to the poor alms were dis-tributed.

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The sāhukār was not allowed in the room of the new born baby for some days , for this is a Hindu custom; but when the proper time had passed he did go in and there he saw the mother holding a boy in her lap that looked just like the boy he had seen in Vidmata's palace. The old father smiled. Then he remembered a circumstance that brought tears to his eyes, and he left the room at once lest his wife should notice his grief.

The circumstance was this. When the sāhukār was about to leave Vidmata's palace, she asked him to decide on the age to which the boy should live. He wanted the boy to live twelve thousand years, but when he was asked the ques-tion, he said, "I want to him to live twelve years." He for-got the word 'thousand' or else something else happened which I cannot say. Vidmata replied, "Let it be so." You can imagine the thoughts that passed through the sāhukār's mind when he saw the little boy and remembered that he had said, "I want him to live twelve years." This was the cause of his tears. He told no one, not even his nearest and dearest, whom he loved above all things, his lifelong companion, his wife; for he knew that she would not be able to bear the burden.

Time passed, and all the members of the sāhukār's family were happy. Since the sāhukār knew that the boy would die when twelve years old, he wished to perform all his duties as a father. When the boy was seven he was [Page 55] married to Champawati, a girl of five, daughter of another sāhukār. The sāhukār spent as much money as he could and the bride's father too spent money profusely, for she was his only child.

Four and a half years more went by, and now only six months of life were left to the boy. The sāhukār could not bear to see his son, his only son, die in his presence; so he sent him on a pilgrimage to Hardwar with a pundit for his guide and guardian. They took two horses to ride and one to carry luggage; and the journey there and back was to take not less than nine months.

When the boy started out, the sāhukār rode with him for fifteen miles, and then he parted with his son heavy hearted, looking upon him as though for the last time. The boy said, "My dear father, why are you so anxious? I shall be coming back to you in a short time."

The sāhukār said to himself, "He may come back," but to his son he said, "Yes, you will."

Whenever the sāhukār saw Champawati, he would remem-ber his son, and sometimes he actually wept. But let us leave him and follow our hero.

They travelled seven days, when they reached the [Page 56] capital of the reigning king of the Punjab, who was arrang-ing to celebrate his daughter's marriage in a few days. Wishing to see the marriage, they stopped in an inn near the palace called the royal inn. Always the sāhukār's son kept his forehead and little finger covered except when washing his face.

The groom's marriage party arriving at the proper time, it was received with great pomp and show; illumina-tion was made; fireworks were set off. Near rhe royal inn where the sāhukār's son was staying was a great building called the royal guest house, which was furnished with everything the marriage party would need, and there the groom's party was to remain for four days.

The groom was unfortunately possessed of only one eye. When the wazir of the bridegroom's father saw the sāhukār's son, Chand by name, he told his master about him and advised that he should be substituted for the prince in the ceremony; afterwards he could be sent away and the bride given to the prince. None of the bride's party knew that the prince was blind in one eye, nor was Chand known in that city; hence the affair could be managed. So the king sent for Chand and his guardian, the old pandit.

At first the pandit would not consent, but he was finally persuaded and said to Chand, "My boy, go with the wedding party and you will be given sweets."

Chand replied,"Panditji, I am already married, and do not want to do such mischief; but I will go and [Page 57] accept sweets."

After this they returned to their quarters, where Chand asked the pandit what they should do, his idea being that they should run away. Being the son of a good family and already married, he did not like to marry again with-out his parents'consent. But there was no time to run away. No sooner had they reached their lodgings than a messenger came from the king asking them to move to the royal guest house. What could they do? They asked them-selves this question many times but found no answer; hence they had to accept the king's invitation.

Chand went with the marriage party and was married to the princess, Kamla, with all the necessary ceremonies. In the palace there was a room furnished with everything needed ready for the gonā ceremony (the ceremony of bring-ing home the bride for consummation of the marriage). The bride and groom were taken into that room, the ceremony was performed, and then the ladies of the bride's party left the couple there.

At first neither uttered a word. Chand was a wise, clever boy, who had already had experience in marriage; so he asked the bride her name. They carried on conversa-tion for some time, then Chand said, "I am hungry. Will you please prepare me some rice?"

Kamla replied gently and slowly,"As you please, [...]I have never done such work before, still [...]to do any work."

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As I have already said, the room was provided with everything, and she began to prepare the rice for her hus-band Chand.

You may perhaps ask why Chand asked a king's daughter to do such work. He wanted to find out by test whether she would make a good wife; he was not at all hungry. Soon she had prepared the rice, put it on a dish, and placed the dish before her husband. He asked her to eat with him, but this she was unwilling to do until she had been urged much, and then she washed her hands and seated herself beside her husband. The food now being ready, they sat down upon a balcony, when they heard a voice, "I am dying in hunger. Please help me now and I will help you some time."

Chand at once gave his food to the poor man, who accepted it saying, "My name is Nau Gaza Pir. Whenever you are in danger, call my name." Then he disappeared.

All this time Kamla remained silent, but when this fakir had gone she said, "My lord, what about your own hunger? I shall prepare more rice for you; or, if you like. I can give you the sweets which my mother gave me a few hours ago."

"No, my dear love," answered Chand, "I am not hun-gry now; I am satisfied. Your words are sweeter than the [Page 59] sweets you would give me. Talk to me a while longer; for you will not see me again for a long, long time."

Being a girl only nine years old, she did not understand what he meant. When Chand saw that she was a model of innocence, he wanted to tell her the whole mystery; but the thought came to him that the truth might possibly prove fatal to him. The day had now dawned; the time had come when he must leave that room. He gave her his most precious ring to remember him by, and she in turn gave her ring to him. When he left, tears came to his eyes; he looked at her with wide open eyes as though looking at her for the first time; but Kamla had no idea of how she was being deceived. So he left for good.

Coming out of the room, he was received respect-fully by the royal servant, who led him to the queen. She did something, and he then went to the royal guest house. Once more he wore his same pilgrim's dress and started with the pandit to Hardwar.

The next day the bride set out for her father-in- law's house, with her going the dowry and a horse upon which nobody was to ride except the bridegroom. As there were no motor cars or railways in those days, she was carried in a doli(palanquin), in which rode also a maid servant. The servant noticed a one-eyed man riding the horse reserved for the bridegroom, and she said to the princess, "See your lord riding horseback; but is he a one-eyed man? I heard that you had married the most hand-some [Page 60] some young man ever born on earth."

The princess, being wise, at once remembered Chand's words, and so she said to the maid servant. "Ask these men to put down the doli. I am fainting."

The maid servant immediately had the bearers lower the doli; whereupon everyone in the marriage party came to inquire, finally even her father-in-law coming to ask. Kamla told her father-in-law through the servant that she had forgotten to bring with her a certain medicine which she used whenever she fainted, and she asked to be allowed to return for it. Her father-in-law at once granted the request and sent her back with the prince and a guard. Everyone in the city was surprised to see her returning, and when her father heard of it he came to receive her and carried her to the palace, asking why she had returned and who the one-eyed man was. Before she had a chance to reply the queen arrived also and embraced her. The secret was now out; the one-eyed prince was punished; his father was forced to pay tribute to Kamla's father and acknowledge him as his lord.

For seven days the princess would not eat; she talked to no one; and she was continually restless to find her true husband Chand. She proposed to wander through the country to get some trace of him; and the king offered a reward of ten thousand rupees to any person who should find him. Many had seen Chand but few knew him; and so the search was difficult.

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In the course of time Chand's yātrā (pilgrimage) was finished and he and the pandit started for home. As they went on, the pandit heard of the reward offered for Chand; so he asked Chand to go that city, although he told him nothing about the reward.

The princess had opened a sadāvrat (place of dis-tribution of alms to the poor), where only poor people were allowed. The building was co constructed that only one person at a time could pass through a narrow lane leading to the dining room. There was an arrangement to permit the princess' seeing the man passing through the lane although he could not see her. She would sit there day and night waiting for the right man to turn up.

Chand was destined to die at the age of twelve. On the morning of that fatal summer's day Chand and the pandit were riding along pace to pace. At about eleven o'clock they reached a place where a road branched off from the main road to a village. There the pandit left Chand to get some food from the village, and Chand went on alone. The dreadful hour had arrived. Chand did not know what was destined him at that time or he would have made some pre-paration, at least he would not have let the pandit leave him.

By the roadside he saw an old woman picking up dry cow-dungs. She asked Chand to help lift the basket to her head. He stopped his horse, dismounted, and went toward her. An innocent boy of twelve, what did he know of the [Page 62] ways of the world? He bent down, picked up the basket, and was placing it upon her head, when suddenly the old woman caught him by the throat to wring out his life. The boy murmured a few sounds but nothing could be distinguished.

Then she saw a huge body standing before her, and this was none other than Nau Gaza Pir. He snatched the boy from her and then gave her a good beating. Then and there she left for heaven, nor was she seen again. She was no one but Vidmata herself, who had come to earth to re-cover her son, but she had to return empty-headed. The next moment Nau Gaza Pir also disappeared, leaving Chand alone.

These events had all taken place in an hour. At twelve o'clock Chand saw the pandit and he stopped to wait for him,for, being very hungry, he did not like to go farther; also he was afraid he would encounter some other calamity. But he did not tell the pandit what had happened. After eating they started on their journey again and three days later arrived at the city where Chand married the princess.

Going to an inn, they took a room, in which they locked their possessions, and then went out to see the city. When they got back, they found the lock broken and everything stolen; so they were destitute, no money, no clothing. In some fashion they passed the night, and with morning proposed going to the sadāvrat for food, then on to their village. The pandit led the way into the dining room, Chand following.

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It was custom for everyone to wash his face and hands before entering the dining room. The princess was on duty. She saw a boy, twelve years of age, standing before a water pipe, looking to left and right to see if anyone was watching. When he saw that no one was, he removed the bandage and began to wash his face. At once the princess recognized him. In a moment the door by which he had en-tered the lane was made shut, and the door by which he was to go into the dining hall. Chand was much perplexed, for he feared some misfortune. Then a third door opened and there stood the princess, her eyes cast down. Catching hold of his feet, she begged him to accept her.

He was then conducted to the palace, where the king and queen in turn embraced him. They also summoned the pan-dit, who came and told the whole story. Chand forgot to go on to his village and so did the pandit; but they re-mained there, the rāj-tilak(mark of coronation)ceremony was performed, and Chand became king, living happily with Kamla.

Meanwhile, when a year had passed and the sāhukār had heard nothing of his son, he began to weep, and he wept until he became blind, and Chand's mother, too, lost her sight. Champawati did all the housework without any com-plaint, being a great consolation to Chand's parents.

One night, as Chand and the princess Kamla were sitting together, he told her about his first wife, and the princess showed a great desire to see Champawati. That [Page 64] same night Chand saw in a dream that his parents had become blind and Champawati was working for them day and night.

The next day he started for his village to see his parents without telling anyone in the palace. He got there at nightfall. Stealthily he entered a room of the house, without anyone knowing he had come. Champawati was serving food to her father-in-law and mother-in-law. When they finished, she removed the dishes; and then she ate. She did all the work and went to her sleeping room, but before she went to bed she heard the sāhukār saying to his wife that, although he had heard nothing about his son, still or that day he had a feeling of relief. Champawati put her ear against a door so as to hear better.

The mother said, "My dear husband, what about Champawati? What will we say to her parents?"

"Nothing!" said the sāhukār. "My dear wife, do not speak of such things to Champawati. She is a mere child a yet. I will send men in all directions to search for him." Then he added unconsciously, "But if---" he stopped. His wife questioned him a great deal, but he would stay nothing further. And after that they went to sleep.

Chand too had overheard everything his parents said. He now began to listen to Champawati. She tried to go to sleep but she could not. The words of her father-in-law "But if---" troubled her very much. The only meaning she could get out of them was 'death'.

She prayed, "My God, if I am a true woman, bring my [Page 65] lord here or I finish myself." She put her dhoti (Indian garment)round her neck and was going to meet her death, when Chand sprang out from the next room, crying, "My love, my dear, here I am. Don't do such a thing, a thing which would stain my name and the name of my parents."

She saw him, recognized him, and fell at his feet kissing them.

When Champawati fell down, her father-in-law heard the sound and awoke his wife, who at once went to Champa-wati's room, where she saw the whole scene. She could not restrain himself. She embraced her son, then informed his father, who came there too.

The sight of the blind was restored. Then Chand took his parents and Champawati to the state of which he was king, and there they all dwelt happily.

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4. No.5

Punnu Mal and Thakur Das were two blood brothers. After the death of their father , a rich sāhukār (money-lender) named Harnam Das, they divided his property. Punnu Mal put his money out at interest and thus increased his wealth; but Thakur Das employed his differently. He gave all he had to the poor and to the sadhus, with the result that in three months' time all he had had was gone. He then went to Punnu Mal for help, who agreed to give it away to poor people and sadhus. Thakur Das was grieved at the terms, but he gave his promise.

Punnu Mal gave him a piece of land in a village four or five miles distant. Thakur Das developed the pro-perty so well that in two years' time its income was doubl-ed. But the habit of giving to sadhus still lingered with him. Hence, without informing his brother, he would give to those who came to his door. After some years he died, and Punnu Mal then took the management of the property into his own hands.

In a few days time one of the cows gave birth to a calf. The calf was so beautiful that Punnu Mal called a jyotisi (astrologer)to foretell its lot. The jyotisi [Page 67] told him that the calf would remain in the world only six years, but added, "It will be a great 'bhagat'(pious one) and will love you much.

From that day Punnu Mal assigned two servants to its sole care. When the calf was three years old he de-cided to reserve it for his bheli, and to this end ordered his servants to search for another to make a beautiful pair, but they could not find one its equal. But at last, after much trouble, they found another somewhat like it. However, Punnu Mal paid no attention to the new calf; while the old calf loved him so much that it followed him wher-ever he went.

One Punnu Mal was going to a neighbouring village. The calf was tied, but when it saw its master leaving with-out it, it broke the rope and followed. From that day Punnu Mal's love for it increased greatly.

When five years had passed and the calf was in its sixth year, Punnu Mal again called the jyotisi, and the latter saw with his meditating eye that the calf was in its last year. But he did not disclose the fact to Punnu Nal; on the contrary he merely told him that this year would be a good one for them both.

One day a sadhu, passing through the village, came to Punnu Mal's house. Punnu Mal showed him no respect; but, [Page 68] when the sadhu saw the calf, he fell at its feet and kissed them.

At last a servant one day came running to Punnu Mal to tell him the calf was dead. The master was so grieved that he ate nothing for two days. The sadhu came to the village again. He went to Punnu Mal's house to inquire about the calf. The memory of the calf's death recalled Punnu Mal's sorrow and he wept bitterly, falling at the sadhu's feet and asking him who the calf had been in its previous existences.

"That calf," answered the sadhu, "in its previous birth was your brother Thakur Das. He used to give money to the poor and to sadhus without your knowledge. When he died he went to svarga(heaven), but he was driven away because he had given money without informing you and was sent back to earth to serve you. Six years he served you as a calf; then his sins were washed away; and now he is in heaven."

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5. No.8

It is said that there once lived two brothers who were very rich. The younger, in the course of time, became poor, but the elder became even richer than at first.

One day the younger lost his two most precious possessions, but after some search he found them. The elder lost a piece of gold, but though he searched long he could not find it. He therefore asked the priests why he had not succeeded, and they answered that they karms were sleeping, far away across the seven seas. He made up his mind to find them, and started out.

On his way he came first to a mango tree filled with fruit, some fresh and some rotten, but no one had a desire to eat of the tree's fruit. The tree told him that she did not know why no one wanted to eat his fruit, and she asked him to enquire the reason from the master of the karms. Having given his promise, he went on.

Then he came to two wells, who asked him to inquire of their karms why no one ever drank of their water, which, in consequence of that fact, merely passed back and forth between them.

[Page 78]

He then met a cow with her calf, which asked him to have her karms tell her why she was so severely beaten every day by her calf.

After this he came to a shepherd who wanted him to find out from his karms whether or not he was known to God.

Thus he went on and on until he reached the edge of the seven oceans that he had to cross. There he met a large snake, who asked him to inquire of his karms why he had been turned into a snake. With the help of this snake he crossed the seven oceans, came to his karms, and woke them from their deep sleep to help him in his difficulties.

He asked the separate karms the different questions he had brought from the various beings, and got full an-swers. First, the mango tree, he was told, had in its last birth been a very learned man, who, however, would impart none of his knowledge to anyone else; hence now nobody would eat the tree's fruit.

He then put the question of the two wells to the master of their karms, and was told that they had been two Brahman women in their last birth, mother and daughter. Whenever they wanted to give alms, they gave only to each other and never showed generosity to anyone else.

In regard to the cow, he was told by the master of her karms that in her last birth she had been the young of her present calf and had troubled it in just the same way and to just the degree that it was now troubling her.

The shepherd's karms told him to tell the shepherd [Page 79] that he had been a very generous and god-fearing person in his last birth, and that God had not forgotten him.

In answer to the snake's question, he was told that the snake in his last birth had been very miserly, constant-ly hoarding money, and therefore he had been reborn as a snake.

Provided with these answers, he told all the crea-tures the explanation of their fate. Afterwards he himself lived a happy and prosperous life, for his karms were con-stantly on the alert.

6. No.13

There is a temple at Udhampur said to be fourteen hundred years old, concerning which the Hindus have a tradition. In olden days there was a thick forest where the temple now stands. A milkman used to bring his cows there to graze. Among them was a Kapila cow, as white as milk. At noon this cow always disappeared. Out of curi-osity the milkman one day followed it unseen, and presently saw it stop at a place where there was a symbol of Shiva, upon which she poured milk from her teats. Seeing this, the milkman beat the cow with a stick and struck the holy image upon the head. Just at that moment the ground burst open and a temple rose from it.

This is the temple mentioned above, standing beside the river Devak, a place of pilgrimage for Hindus. The mark of the injury still remains upon the head of the image.

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7. No.16

Once Birbal, while sitting in Akbar's court, sneezed. Mulladaupiadia, who was jealous of Birbal's wit and honors, said to Akbar that Birbal was not acquainted with the usages of polite society; otherwise he would not have sneezed in the royal presence. Akbar, hearing this, became angry, and ordered Birbal out of his court, telling him never to return. As Birbal left he said to his enemy that he would get his revenge: he would have his houses leveled to the ground and the land and the land ploughed over and turned into grassy fields.

After some time Akbar, missing Birbal, sent messen-gers to find him and bring him back. On Birbal's arrival at the court Akbar asked him how he had spent his time while absent.

"Learning how to raise pearls," was the answer. The Badshah Akbar was pleased to hear about this new industry, and asked Birbal to select land and get the necessary implements to raise some pearls.

The next day Birbal informed the emperor that he had selected land, the most suitable bit being that on which were situated Mulladaupiada's buildings. At once the emperor ordered these buildings leveled and the ground [Page 94] ploughed. Then Birbal planted grass seed there.

The grass grew and in the month of December dew-drops fell and glistened like pearls. These were shown to Badshah Akbar and he was much pleased. He ordered Birbal to gather them.

"Only that man can gather them," said Birbal, "who has never sneezed."

On hearing this, the emperor looked toward his courtiers for someone to gather the pearls, but no one volunteered. At last Birbal pointed to his enemy, but he too could not gather them. Then Birbal reminded Mulla-daupiada of the remark he had made about sneezing, and the revenge Birbal had promised to obtain.

Badshah Akbar was greatly pleased at the affair, and all returned merrily to the court.

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8. No.21

(The reporter gives the story a frame: "During the last summer vacation one day I was sitting in a company of my friends. One of them proposed that everyone should tell a story and make the company laugh. The eldest member of the company was to decide which story was the best, and there was to be a prize of four annas to the person telling it. I am going to tell the story that won the prize. There was a further condition. Nobody should say that any story was untrue; if he did, he was to pay a fine of a hundred rupees. The first began with his story.")

Some hundred years ago there broke out a great fire in the world. Everything was burnt, and only a few people were saved. There was little corn to eat and few huts to live in. The owner of the corn and huts gave food and shelter to the people saved.

("Then my friend proved his descent from the old man who had supplied the food and huts, and demanded payment from the rest of the group for the corn they had eaten to save their lives and the huts in which they had lived. No one could say that the story was untrue, lest he be com-pelled to pay the hundred rupee fine, and so all agreed to his demand, asking him to make an estimate. Now, another told a story in answer to the first, and at the end esta-blished his relationship with the hero of his tale.")

The piece of land on which all of us were living was once in a tropical region. The great-grandfather of the second story-teller was a well known and great farmer. The sun came very near the earth, and it was difficult to live there. Then the farmer placed a portion of the land [Page 104] on his ass and left the place at night, and the next morn-ing was far away from that tropical region. And the piece of land where we were sitting, and on which our house was built, all belonged to that farmer. Therefore, he asked his friend, the first story-teller, to move from that land or pay him a hundred rupees at once.

("The four anna prize was paid to the second story-teller, and the company dispersed.")

This is a selection from the original text


alms, corn, food, rice, sadhu, settlement, sāhukār, village, wealth

Source text

Title: Tawi Tales

Subtitle: Folktales from Jammu

Author: Noriko Mayeda, W.Norman Brown

Publisher: American Oriental Society

Publication date: 1974

Edition: 1st Edition

Place of publication: New Haven, Connecticut

Digital edition

Original author(s): Noriko Mayeda, W.Norman Brown

Language: English

Selection used:

  • 1 ) pages 42 to 44
  • 2 ) pages 45 to 47
  • 3 ) pages 48 to 65
  • 4 ) pages 66 to 68
  • 5 ) pages 77 to 79
  • 6 ) pages 93 to 94
  • 7 ) pages 103 to 104


Texts collected by: Ayesha Mukherjee, Amlan Das Gupta, Azarmi Dukht Safavi

Texts transcribed by: Muhammad Irshad Alam, Bonisha Bhattacharya, Arshdeep Singh Brar, Muhammad Ehteshamuddin, Kahkashan Khalil, Sarbajit Mitra

Texts encoded by: Bonisha Bhattacharya, Shreya Bose, Lucy Corley, Kinshuk Das, Bedbyas Datta, Arshdeep Singh Brar, Sarbajit Mitra, Josh Monk, Reesoom Pal

Encoding checking by: Hannah Petrie, Gary Stringer, Charlotte Tupman

Genre: India > oral narratives

For more information about the project, contact Dr Ayesha Mukherjee at the University of Exeter.