Santal: The Raja's Dream

This story is part of the Santal Folklore unit. Story source: Folklore of the Santal Parganas by Cecil Henry Bompas (1909).

The Raja's Dream

Once upon a time, there was a Raja who had no children. So, he and his wife agreed that he should marry again. His second wife bore him two sons, and they were very pleased that the Raja should have heirs and all lived happily together.

But after the two sons had been born, the elder Rani also gave birth to a son. This caused discord in the family, for the younger Rani had counted on her sons succeeding to the Raja, but now she feared that the son of the elder Rani would be preferred. So she went to the Raja and besought him to send away the elder Rani and her son. The Raja listened to her and gave the first wife a separate estate and a separate house and sent them away.

Time passed, and one night the Raja had a dream, the meaning of which he could not understand; he dreamt that he saw a golden leopard and a golden snake and a golden monkey dancing together.

The Raja could not rest until he had found out the meaning of the dream, so he sent for his younger wife and her two sons and consulted them. They could give no explanation, but the younger son said that he had a presentiment that his brother, the son of the elder Rani, could interpret the dream.

So that son was sent for, and when he appeared before his father and heard the story of the dream, he said, “This is the interpretation: the three golden animals represent us three brothers, for we are like gold to you. Thakur has sent this dream in order that we may not fight hereafter; we cannot all three succeed to the Raj, and we shall assuredly fight if one is not chosen as the heir. It is intended that whichever of us can find a golden leopard, and a golden snake, and a golden monkey, and make them dance before the people — he is your principal son and shall be your heir.”

The Raja was pleased with this interpretation and told his three sons that he would give the Raj to whichever of them could find the three animals by that day year.

The sons of the younger Rani went away, feeling that it was useless for them to make any attempt to fulfil the conditions; even if they got a goldsmith to make the animals, they would never be able to make them dance.

But the other brother went to his mother and told her all that had happened, and she bade him be of good courage, and he would find the animals; if he went to a Gosain who lived in the jungle, he would be told what to do.

So the Raja’s son set out, and after travelling for some days, he found himself benighted in a dense jungle. Wandering about, he at last saw a fire burning in the distance, so he went to it and sat down by it and began to smoke. Now the Gosain was sleeping near by, and the smell of the smoke awoke him, and he rose and asked who was there.

“O uncle, it is I.”

“Really, is it you my nephew? Where have you come from so late at night?”

“From home, uncle.”

“What has brought me to your memory now? You have never paid me a visit before. I am afraid that something has happened.”

“You need not fear that; I have come to you because my mother tells me that you can help me to find the golden leopard and the golden snake and the golden monkey.”

At this the Gosain promised to help the Raja’s son to find the animals and then put the cooking-pot on the fire to boil; and in it he put only three grains of rice, but when it was cooked, they found that there was enough to make a meal of.

When they had eaten, the Gosain said “Nephew, I cannot tell you what you have to do, but further in the jungle lives my younger brother: go to him and he will tell you.”

So when it was morning, the Raja’s son set out, and in two days he reached the second Gosain and told him of his quest. The Gosain listened to his story and put the cooking-pot on to boil and in it threw two grains of rice, and this, when cooked, was sufficient for a good meal.

After they had eaten, the Gosain said that he could not tell how the animals were to be found, but that he had a still younger brother who could tell. So the next morning the Raja’s son continued his journey, and in two or three days he came to the third Gosain, and there he learnt what was to be done. This Gosain also put the pot on to boil but in the pot he only put one grain of rice and a bit of a grain, yet when cooked it was enough for a meal.

(800 words)

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