Santal: Ramai and the Animals

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

Ramai and the Animals

Once there was a blacksmith who had five sons and the sons were always quarrelling. Their father used to scold them, but they paid no heed, so he got angry, and one day he sent for them and said: “You waste your time quarrelling. I have brought you up and have amassed wealth; I should like to see what you are worth. I will put it to the test: I will give you each one hundred rupees, and I will see how you employ the money; if any of you puts it to profitable use, I will call him my son, but if any of you squander it, I shall call him a girl.”

So they went forth with the money, and one bought buffaloes, and one bought horses, and another cattle, each according to his judgement, and brought them home.

But the youngest son, who was named Ramai, soon after he started, found some men killing a cat and he begged them not to kill the cat, but let him have it and he bought it of them and, going on, he found some men killing a dog which they had caught stealing, and he bought it of them to save its life. By and by he came to some men hunting an otter, and he asked what they were doing, and they said that the otter ate the fish in a Raja’s tank and so they were going to kill it, and he asked them to catch it and sell it to him, and promised to take it away where it could do no harm; and they did so. Then he went on and came to some men who were killing a young black snake, and he saved that also, and then returned home with his four animals, and he tethered the cat and the dog and the otter in the yard, and he put the snake into a pot with a lid on and hung it in the cow shed.

When his father saw Ramai’s animals, he was very angry and jeered at him and said that he had no more mind than a woman, and especially he told him to throw away the snake at once if he did not want it killed.

So Ramai took down the pot with the snake in it, and the snake said: “Take me to my father and mother, and they will reward you, and when they ask what you would like, take nothing but the ring which is on my father’s hand: it is a magic ring and has the property that it will give you whatever you ask.”

So Ramai took the young snake to its home, and its father and mother were very grateful and asked what reward he would accept, and he said he would take nothing but the ring, so they gave it to him.

On the way home he thought that he would test its virtues, so he bathed and spread out a cloth and then prayed: “Oh ring, give me some luncheon,” and behold he saw a nice lunch heaped up in the middle of the cloth.

He ate it joyfully and went back home, and there he found that his father had killed the other animals, and he reproached him; but his father said: “They were useless and were only eating their heads off; why should not I kill them?”

Ramai answered: “These were not useless; they were most valuable animals, much better than those my brothers bought — if you asked my brothers for a gold palace, they could not make you one, but I could do so at once, thanks to the snake, and I could marry a princess and get anything else I want.”

His father said that he would like to see him try, so Ramai asked the ring for a gold palace and immediately one appeared in their garden. Then his father was very repentant about having killed the other animals.

But Ramai’s boast that he could marry a princess got abroad, and the Raja heard of it, and as he was glad to have so rich a son-in-law, he gave him his daughter in marriage. And with his daughter, the Raja sent elephants and horses, but Ramai sent them back again lest it should be said that he had become rich through the bounty of the Raja, and by virtue of the ring they lived in wealthy and prosperity.


(700 words)







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