Story of the Day: Why Spiders Live on Rooftops

Here is today's story: Eating Tiger's Guts, which tells why spiders hide up high on the rooftop. Here are more stories from Jamaica, and more stories about the trickster spider Anansi.


Brer Tiger and Brer Anansi went to river-side.

Brer Anansi said, "Brer Tiger, take out your inside and wash it out."

Brer Tiger did so.

"Now, Brer Tiger, dip your head in water, wash it good."

The moment Brer Tiger put his head in water, Anansi took up the inside and run away with it give to his wife Tacoomah to boil.

Next morning he heard that Tiger was dead. He called all the children to know how they were going to cry. Each one come say, "Tita Tiger dead!"

The last child he called said, "Same something Papa bring come here last night, give Ma Tacoomah to boil, Tita Tiger gut."

"Oh, no!" said Anansi. "Pickney, you can't go." So they lock up that child.

So man hear him crying, ask him what's the matter.

"I want to go to Tita Tiger's funeral!"

Let him out to go.

When Anansi see him coming, he run away and take house-top and since then he never come down.

Story Title: Eating Tiger's Guts
Storyteller: Simeon Falconer, Santa Cruz Mountains
Book Title: Jamaica Anansi Stories
Author: Martha Warren Beckwith
Published: 1924
Rights: CC0 Public Domain
Online Source: Sacred Texts Archive
Process: I have removed the eye-dialect, along with editing for punctuation and paragraphing.

Story Notes from Author (Beckwith): The "Just so" story, number 51, is another version of the diving plot, which is popular in Jamaica. Jekyll tells it, 7-9, in form (b). Compare: Chatelain, 205; Junod, 208; Renel, 254; JAFL 32:395; Nights, 373-377; Parsons, Sea Islands, 40. In all these cases, the trickster proposes diving and eats a store of food while his companion is in the water. The grotesque idea of bodily dismemberment coupled with the diving episode, I do not find in any of the parallels noted. In Parsons, Andros Island, 73, Boukee and Elephant go out bird-hunting. Boukee shoots Elephant and brings him home to the family. Boukee is brought to justice because the children are overheard singing, "Me and Mamma'n Pappa / Eat my belly full of pot of soup / Bo'o' Elephin got (gut), oh!" For the incriminating song in version (b), see number 4.

Story of the Day: The Birth of Ganga

Here is today's story: The Birth of Ganga. You can read more about the goddess Ganga at Wikipedia, and here are some more stories from India.

There was once a king of Ayodhya, by name Sagara. He eagerly desired children, but had no issue. His elder wife was Keshini, the second Sumati, sister of Garuda. With these twain he came to Himalaya to practise an austere penance. When a hundred years had passed, the rishi Brigu, whom he had honoured, granted him his wish. “Thou shalt attain unparalleled renown amongst men,” he said. “One wife of thine, Keshini, shall bring forth a son who will perpetuate thy race; the other shall give birth to sixty thousand sons.”

Those daughters of kings were glad, and worshipping the rishi, they asked, “Who of us shall have one son and who many we would know.”

He asked their will. “Who wishes for which boon?” he said, “a single perpetuator of the line, or sixty thousand famous sons, who yet shall not carry on their race?”

Then Keshini chose the single son, and Garuda’s sister chose the many. Thereafter the king revered the saint with circumambulation and obeisance and returned again to his city.

In due course Keshini bore a son, to whom was given the name of Asamanja. Sumati bore a gourd, and when it burst open the sixty thousand sons came forth; the nurses fostered them in jars of ghee until they grew up to youth and beauty. But the eldest son, the child of Keshini, loved them not, but would cast them in the Sarayu river and watch them sink. For this evil disposition and for the wrongs he did to citizens and honest folk Asamanja was banished by his father. But he had himself a son named Suman, fair-spoken to all and well-beloved.

When many years had passed Sagara determined to celebrate a mighty sacrifice. The place thereof was in the region between Himalaya and Vindhya. There the horse was loosed, and Anshumat, a mighty chariot-fighter, followed to protect it. But it befell that a certain Vasava, assuming the form of a rakshasi, stole the horse away. Then the Brahman priests informed the king, and commanded him to slay the thief and bring back the horse, lest the sacrifice should fail and misfortune should follow all concerned.

Then Sagara sent forth his sixty thousand sons to seek the horse. “Search ye the whole sea-girt earth,” he said, “league by league, above the ground or under it.”

Then those great princes ranged the earth. Finding not the horse upon its surface, they began to delve with hands like thunderbolts and mighty ploughshares, so that the earth cried out in pain. Great was the uproar of the serpents and the demons that were slain then. For sixty thousand leagues they dug as if they would reach the very lowest deep.

They undermined all jambudwipa, so that the very gods feared and went into counsel unto Brahma. “O great grandsire,” they said, “the sons of Sagara are digging out the whole earth and many are slain therefor. Crying that one hath stolen Sagara’s horse, they are bringing havoc on every creature.”

Then Brahma answered, “This entire earth is Vasudeva’s consort; he is indeed her lord, and in the form of Kapila sustains her. By his wrath the sons of Sagara will be slain. The farsighted have foreseen the fated digging out of earth and the death of Sagara’s sons; therefore ye should not fear.”

Then having riven the entire earth and ranged it all about, the sons returned to Sagara and asked what they should do, for they could not find the horse. But he commanded them again to burrow in the earth and find the horse. “Then cease,” he said, “not before.”

Again they plunged into the depths. There they came on the elephant Virupaksha, who bears on his head the whole world with its hills and forests, and when he shakes his head that is an earthquake. Him they duly worshipped and passed on. To the south they came next, to another mighty elephant, Mahapadma, like a mountain, bearing the earth upon his head; in like wise they came also to the western elephant named Saumanasa, and thence to the north, where is Bhadra, white as snow, bearing the earth upon his brow.

Passing him by with honour, they came to the quarter east of north; there they beheld the eternal Vasudeva in the shape of Kapila, and hard by him they saw the horse browsing at his will. They rushed on Kapila in fury, attacking him with trees and boulders, spades and ploughs, crying, “Thou art the thief; now thou hast fallen into the hands of the sons of Sagara.” But Kapila uttered a dreadful roar and flashed a burning flame upon the sons that burned them all to ashes. No news of this came back to Sagara.

Then Sagara addressed his grandson Suman, bidding him seek his uncles and learn their fate, “and,” said he, “there be strong and mighty creatures dwelling in earth; honour such as do not hinder thee, slay those that stand against thee, and return, accomplishing my desire.”

He came in turn to the elephants of east and south and west and north, and each assured him of success; at last he came to the heap of ashes that had been his uncles; there he wailed with heavy heart in bitter grief. There, too, he beheld the wandering horse. He desired to perform the funeral lustrations for the uncles, but he might find no water anywhere. Then he beheld Garuda passing through the air; he cried to Anshumat, “Do not lament; for these to have been destroyed is for the good of all. The great Kapila consumed these mighty ones; therefore thou shouldst not make for them the common offerings of water. But there is Ganga, daughter of Himalaya; let that purifier of every world lave this heap of ashes; then shall the sixty thousand sons of Sagara attain to Heaven. Do thou also take back the horse and bring to completion thy grandfather’s sacrifice.” Then Anshumat led back the horse, and Sagara’s ceremony was completed; but he knew not how to bring to earth the daughter of Himalaya.

Sagara died and Anshumat was chosen king. He was a great ruler, and at last resigned the kingdom to his son and retired to dwell alone in the Himalayan forests; in due time he also passed away and reached Heaven.

His son, King Dilipa, constantly pondered how to bring down Ganga, that the ashes might be purified and Sagara’s sons attain to Heaven.

But after thirty thousand years he, too, died, and his son Bhitgiratha, a royal saint, followed him. Ere long he consigned the kingdom to the care of a counsellor and went to the Himalayan forests, performing terrible austerities for a thousand years to draw down Ganga from the skies. Then Brahma was pleased by his devotion, and appeared before him, granting a boon. He prayed that the ashes of the sons of Sagara should be washed by the water of Ganga, and that a son might speedily be born to him.

“Great is thy aim,” replied the grandsire, “but thou shouldst invoke Mahadeva to receive the falling Ganga, for earth may not sustain her. None but he who sways the trident may sustain her fall.”

Then for a year Bhagiratha worshipped Shiva; and he, well pleased, undertook to bear the mountain-daughter’s fall, receiving the river upon his head.

Then Ganga, in mighty torrent, cast herself down from Heaven on to Shiva’s gracious head, thinking in her pride, “I shall sweep away the Great God in my waters, down to the nether regions.”

But when Ganga fell on Shiva’s tangled locks she might not even reach the earth, but wandered there unable to escape for many a long year. Then Bhaigiratha again engaged in many hard austerities, till Shiva would set the river free; she fell in seven streams, three to the east, three to the west, while one followed after Bhagiratha’s car. The falling waters made a sound like thunder; very wonderful the earth appeared, covered with fallen and falling fishes, tortoises, and porpoises. Devas, rishis, gandharvas, and yakshas witnessed the great sight from their elephants and horses and self-moving chariots; every creature marvelled at the coming down of Ganga. The presence of the shining devas and the brightness of :heir jewels lit up the sky as if with a hundred suns. The heavens were filled with speeding porpoises and fishes like Flashes of bright lightning; the flakes of pale foam seemed like snow-white cranes crossing heavy autumn clouds.

So Sangi fell, now directly onward, now aside, sometimes in many narrow streams, and again in one broad torrent; now ascending hills, then falling again into a valley. Very fair was that vision of the water falling from Heaven to Shankara’s head, and from Shankara’s head to earth. All the shining ones of Heaven and all the creatures of the earth made haste to touch the sacred waters that wash away all sin.

Then Bhagiratha went forward on his car and Ganga followed; and after her came the devas and rishis, asuras,rakshasas, gandharvas and yakshas, kinnaras and nagas and apsaras, and all creatures that inhabit water went along with them.

But as Ganga followed Bhagiratha she flooded the sacrificial ground of the puissant Jahna, and he was greatly angered, and in his wrath he drank up all her wondrous waters.

Then the deities besought and prayed him to set her free, till he relented and released her through his ears, and again she followed Bhagiratha’s car. At last she came to the mighty river Ocean and plunged into the nether regions; there she laved the heap of ashes, and the sixty thousand sons of Sagara were cleansed of every sin and attained to Heaven.

Then Brahma spoke to Bhagiratha, “O most puissant of men,” he said, “the sons of Sagara have now gone up to Heaven, and shall endure there so long as Ocean’s waters endure on earth. Ganga shall be called thy daughter and receive thy name. Now do thou make offerings of this sacred water for thy ancestors, Sagara and Anshumat and Dilipa, and do thou thyself bathe in these waters and, free from every sin, ascend to Heaven, whither I now repair.”

I have now related to thee the tale of Ganga. May it be well with thee. He that recites this history wins fame, long life, and Heaven; he that heareth attains to length of days, and the fulfilment of desires, and the wiping out of every sin.

Story Title: The Birth of Ganga
Book Title: Myths of the Hindus and Buddhists
Author: Sister Nivedita
Published: 1914
Rights: CC0 Public Domain
Online Source: Hathi Trust
Process: Light editing for paragraphing and punctuation.
Additional Notes: This is Sister Nivedita's rendering of the story that Vishvamitra tells to young Prince Rama.

Story of the Day: The Origin of the Bear

Here is today's story: The Origin of the Bear. This is a Cherokee story about the people who became bears. You can read more Cherokee legends, and also more Native American stories about bears.


Long ago there was a Cherokee clan called the Ani'-Tsâ'gûhï, and in one family of this clan was a boy who used to leave home and be gone all day in the mountains. After a while he went oftener and stayed longer, until at last he would not eat in the house at all, but started off at daybreak and did not come back until night.

His parents scolded, but that did no good, and the boy, still went every day until they noticed that long brown hair was beginning to grow out all over his body.

Then they wondered and asked him why it was that he wanted to be so much in the woods that he would not even eat at home. Said the boy, "I find plenty to eat there, and it is better than the corn and beans we have in the settlements, and pretty soon I am going into the woods to stay all the time."

His parents were worried and begged him not to leave them, but he said, "It is better there than here, and you see I am beginning to be different already, so that I can not live here any longer. If you will come with me, there is plenty for all of us and you will never have to work for it; but if you want to come you must first fast seven days."

The father and mother talked it over and then told the headmen of the clan. They held a council about the matter and after everything had been said they decided. "Here we must work hard and have not always enough. There he says there is always plenty without work. We will go with him."

So they fasted seven days, and on the seventh morning all the Ani'-Tsâ'gûhï left the settlement and started for the mountains as the boy led the way.

When the people of the other towns heard of it they were very sorry and sent their headmen to persuade the Ani'-Tsâ'gûhï to stay at home and not go into the woods to live. The messengers found them already on the way, and were surprised to notice that their bodies were beginning to be covered with hair like that of animals, because for seven days they had not taken human food and their nature was changing.

The Ani'-Tsâ'gûhï would not come back, but said, "We are going where there is always plenty to eat. Hereafter we shall be called yânû (bears), and when you yourselves are hungry come into the woods and call us and we shall come to give you our own flesh. You need not be afraid to kill us, for we shall live always."

Then they taught the messengers the songs with which to call them, and the bear hunters have these songs still. When they had finished the songs the Ani'-Tsâ'gûhï started on again and the messengers turned back to the settlements, but after going a little way they looked back and saw a drove of bears going into the woods.

First Bear Song

He-e! Ani'-Tsâ'gûhï, Ani'-Tsâ'gûhï, akwandu'li e'lanti' ginûn'ti,
Ani'-Tsâ'gûhï, Ani'-Tsâ'gûhï, akwandu'li e'lanti' ginûn'ti--Yû!

He-e! The Ani'-Tsâ'gûhï, the Ani'-Tsâ'gûhï, I want to lay them low on the ground,
The Ani'-Tsâ'gûhï, the Ani'-Tsâ'gûhï, I want to lay them low on the ground--Yû!

The bear hunter starts out each morning fasting and does not eat until near evening. He sings this song as he leaves camp, and again the next morning, but never twice the same day.

Second Bear Song

This song also is sung by the bear hunter, in order to attract the bears, while on his way from the camp to the place where he expects to hunt during the day. The melody is simple and plaintive.

He-e! Hayuya'haniwä', hayuya'haniwä', hayuya'haniwä', hayuya'haniwä',
Tsistuyi' nehandu'yanû', Tsistuyi' nehandu'yanû'--Yoho-o!
He-e! Hayuya'haniwä', hayuya'haniwä', hayuya'haniwä', hayuya'haniwä',
Kuwâhi' nehandu'yanû', Kuwâhi' nehandu'yanû',--Yoho-o!
He-e! Hayuya'haniwä', hayuya'haniwä', hayuya'haniwä', hayuya'haniwä',
Uyâhye' nehandu'yanû', Uyâhye' nehandu'yanû',--Yoho-o!
He-e! Hayuya'haniwä', hayuya'haniwä', hayuya'haniwä', hayuya'haniwä',
Gâte'gwâ' nehandu'yanû', Gâte'gwâ' nehandu'yanû',--Yoho-o!
(Recited) Ûlë-`nû' asëhï' tadeyâ'statakûhï' gûñ'näge astû' tsïkï'
He! Hayuya'haniwä' (four times),
In Tsistu'yï you were conceived (two times)--Yoho!
He! Hayuya'haniwä' (four times),
In Kuwâ'hï you were conceived (two times)--Yoho!
He! Hayuya'haniwä' (four times),
In Uyâ'hye you were conceived (two times)--Yoho!
He! Hayuya'haniwä' (four times),
In Gâte'gwâ you were conceived (two times)--Yoho!
And now surely we and the good black things, the best of all, shall see each other.

Story Title: Origin Of The Bear: The Bear Songs
Book Title: Myths of the Cherokee
Author: James Mooney
Published: 1900
Rights: CC0 Public Domain
Online Source: Sacred Texts
Process: Light editing for paragraphing and punctuation.