Bengal: The Story of a Brahmadaitya (end)

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 (end)

In the meantime, soon after nightfall, when the villagers had all retired to their houses, the Brahmadaitya called to him the ghosts of the haunted tree, who were one hundred in number, and said to them, “You must to-night do some work for the poor Brahman whom I am befriending. The hundred bighas of land which he has got from the zemindar are all covered with standing ripe corn. He has not the means to reap it. This night you all must do the work for him. Here are, you see, a hundred sickles; let each of you take a sickle in hand and come to the field I shall show him. There are a hundred of you. Let each ghost cut the paddy of one bigha, bring the sheaves on his back to the Brahman’s house, thresh the corn, put the corn in one large granary, and pile up the straw in separate ricks. Now, don’t lose time. You must do it all this very night.”

The hundred ghosts at once said to the Brahmadaitya, “We are ready to do whatever your lordship commands us.” The Brahmadaitya showed the ghosts the Brahman’s house and the spot prepared for receiving the grain and the straw, and then took them to the Brahman’s fields, all waving with the golden harvest.

The ghosts at once fell to it. A ghost harvest-reaper is different from a human harvest-reaper. What a man cuts in a whole day, a ghost cuts in a minute. Mash, mash, mash, the sickles went round, and the long stalks of paddy fell to the ground. The reaping over, the ghosts took up the sheaves on their huge backs and carried them all to the Brahman’s house. The ghosts then separated the grain from the straw, stored up the grain in one huge store-house, and piled up the straw in many a fantastic rick. It was full two hours before sunrise when the ghosts finished their work and retired to rest on their tree.

No words can tell either the joy of the Brahman and his wife when early next morning they opened the door of their hut, or the surprise of the villagers, when they saw the huge granary and the fantastic ricks of straw. The villagers did not understand it. They at once ascribed it to the gods.

A few days after this the Brahman went to the vakula-tree and said to the Brahmadaitya, “I have one more favour to ask of you, Brahmadaitya. As the gods have been very gracious to me, I wish to feed one thousand Brahmans, and I shall thank you for providing me with the materials of the feast.”

“With the greatest pleasure,” said the polite Brahmadaitya; “I’ll supply you with the requirements of a feast for a thousand Brahmans, only show me the cellars in which the provisions are to be stored away.”

The Brahman improvised a store-room. The day before the feast the store-room was overflowing with provisions. There were one hundred jars of ghi (clarified butter), one hill of flour, one hundred jars of sugar, one hundred jars of milk, curds, and congealed milk, and the other thousand and one things required in a great Brahmanical feast.

The next morning one hundred Brahman pastry cooks were employed, the thousand Brahmans ate their fill, but the host, the Brahman of the story, did not eat. He thought he would eat with the Brahmadaitya. But the Brahmadaitya, who was present there though unseen, told him that he could not gratify him on that point, as by befriending the Brahman the Brahmadaitya’s allotted period had come to an end, and the pushpaka chariot had been sent to him from heaven. The Brahmadaitya, being released from his ghostly life, was taken up into heaven; and the Brahman lived happily for many years, begetting sons and grandsons.

(the pushpaka chariot belongs to
Kubera, the god of wealth, shown here)

(600 words)

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