Bengal: The Story of a Brahmadaitya (cont.)

This story is part of the Bengali Folktales unit. Story source: Folk-Tales of Bengal by the Rev. Lal Behari Day, with illustrations by Warwick Goble (1912).

The Story of a Brahmadaitya (cont.)

The vakula-tree was the haunt of a Brahmadaitya, who, seeing the Brahman stop under the tree, spoke to him, and said, “Are you afraid, Brahman? Tell me what you wish to do, and I’ll help you. I am a Brahmadaitya.”

The Brahman replied, “O blessed spirit, I wish to go to yonder banyan-tree and cut off one of its branches for the zemindar, who has promised to give me one hundred bighas of rent-free land for it. But my courage is failing me. I shall thank you very much for helping me.”

The Brahmadaitya answered, “Certainly I’ll help you, Brahman. Go on towards the tree, and I’ll come with you.”

The Brahman, relying on the supernatural strength of his invisible patron, who is the object of the fear and reverence of common ghosts, fearlessly walked towards the haunted tree, on reaching which he began to cut a branch with the bill which was in his hand. But the moment the first stroke was given, a great many ghosts rushed towards the Brahman, who would have been torn to pieces but for the interference of the Brahmadaitya.

The Brahmadaitya said in a commanding tone, “Ghosts, listen. This is a poor Brahman. He wishes to get a branch of this tree which will be of great use to him. It is my will that you let him cut a branch.”

The ghosts, hearing the voice of the Brahmadaitya, replied, “Be it according to thy will, lord. At thy bidding we are ready to do anything. Let not the Brahman take the trouble of cutting; we ourselves will cut a branch for him.”

So saying, in the twinkling of an eye, the ghosts put into the hands of the Brahman a branch of the tree, with which he went as fast as his legs could carry him to the house of the zemindar.

The zemindar and his people were not a little surprised to see the branch, but he said, “Well, I must see tomorrow whether this branch is a branch of the haunted tree or not; if it be, you will get the promised reward.”

Next morning the zemindar himself went along with his servants to the haunted tree and found to their infinite surprise that the branch in their hands was really a branch of that tree, as they saw the part from which it had been cut off. Being thus satisfied, the zemindar ordered a deed to be drawn up, by which he gave to the Brahman for ever one hundred bighas of rent-free land. Thus in one night the Brahman became a rich man.

It so happened that the fields, of which the Brahman became the owner, were covered with ripe paddy, ready for the sickle. But the Brahman had not the means to reap the golden harvest. He had not a pice in his pocket for paying the wages of the reapers. What was the Brahman to do? He went to his spirit-friend the Brahmadaitya, and said, “Oh, Brahmadaitya, I am in great distress. Through your kindness I got the rent-free land all covered with ripe paddy. But I have not the means of cutting the paddy, as I am a poor man. What shall I do?”

The kind Brahmadaitya answered, “Oh, Brahman, don’t be troubled in your mind about the matter. I’ll see to it that the paddy is not only cut, but that the corn is threshed and stored up in granaries, and the straw piled up in ricks. Only you do one thing. Borrow from men in the village one hundred sickles and put them all at the foot of this tree at night. Prepare also the exact spot on which the grain and the straw are to be stored up.”

The joy of the Brahman knew no bounds. He easily got a hundred sickles, as the husbandmen of the village, knowing that he had become rich, readily lent him what he wanted. At sunset he took the hundred sickles and put them beneath the vakula-tree. He also selected a spot of ground near his hut for his magazine of paddy and for his ricks of straw; and washed the spot with a solution of cow-dung and water. After making these preparations he went to sleep.

(800 words)

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