Raja Rasalu: The Hunter (end)

The final verse alludes to another legendary king, King Dharthali (also spelled Bhartili or Bhartari); here is the author's note about him: "The famous king who abdicated his kingdom and became a fakir, a disciple of Guru Goraknath." You can read more about this famous guru at Wikipedia: Gorakshanath.

[Notes by LKG]

This story is part of the Raja Rasalu unit. Story source: The Adventures of the Punjab Hero Raja Rasalu by Charles Swynnerton (1884).

Raja Rasalu and the Hunter (end)

Coming to the spot, he said to his mare, "What shall we do? What arrangements shall we make for conveying the body of Mirshikari?"

"Lay it on his own horse," answered she, "and she will carry it straight to his house."

Then Rasalu lifted the body and was going to lay it on Mirshikari's horse, but the animal refused, saying: "As he failed to obey your orders, I will never carry him more."

"At least,' said Rasalu, "guide me to your master's palace," and, taking from the fatal spot Mirshikari's turban, his quiver, his bow, and his lute, he followed the dead hunter's horse, which led them on through the grassy glades and the leafy alleys of the forest.

As they entered the city, Raja Rasalu caught sight of a woman standing at the stall of a butcher who was weighing out some meat, and he overheard her saying: "Do not longer delay. My husband Mirshikari is waiting."

Then Rasalu stopped and said to her: " O woman! What are you doing there?

"You weigh the flesh within the scale,
But say for whom the flesh you weigh;
The flesh you weigh will ne'er avail:
The man who looked his last today."

Hearing these words, the woman hastily turned and said: "Who are you thus cursing my husband?"

"I am Rasalu," answered he.

But the woman did not believe him. "A wise Rasalu too," replied she, "to curse another man needlessly. It is no good thing which you do."

"But," said Rasalu, "would you recognise your husband's things if they were shown to you?"

"Yes," answered she, "wherefore not?"

Then he laid down before her Mirshikari's turban, his lute, and his weapons, and said: "Examine and see if these things are your husband's."

As soon as she looked upon them, the woman swooned and fell senseless to the ground. When she came to herself she arose and ran to the palace of the king who was the lord of all that country, weeping and beating her breast, and Rasalu followed her.

There she cried aloud: " Sir, this man has killed my husband Mirshikari!"

The king, hearing her distressful cries, ordered a trial, and at the hour appointed one hundred men were despatched to bring Raja Rasalu into the court. But Rasalu, collecting them all in one place, covered them under the broad expanse of his shield and then sent a message to the king, saying: "Come if you can, and take your men from under my shield."

When the king understood what a wonderful master of magic he was and how great was his might to cover one hundred men with his shield, he sent other messengers, saying to them: "Do not use force with him. Bring him by solicitations and prayers."

And they, as soon as they arrived, humbly requested Rasalu to come before their lord, beseeching him with courteous words.

"I come," answered he and so, lance in hand and with the king's messengers behind him, rode to the city and so to the palace.

When he entered the king's presence, he said: "Wherefore have you sent for me?"

"Why have you slain Mirshikari?" enquired the king.

"I will also ask you a riddle," replied Rasalu, "and if you can answer it, you will know of the death of Mirshikari:

"One was killed and two died;
Two were killed and four died;
Four were killed and six died;
Four were males and two were females."

But the king was unable to guess the answer. Therefore said he to his ministers: "Go with this stranger, whoever he is, and see if he tells the truth, and let us beware lest he be the real Rasalu."

So Rasalu conducted them to the forest, where they came and saw all the six bodies lying lifeless together on the ground. Taking up the corpse of Mirshikari, they took it into the presence of the king, who, having heard their tale, looked upon it and said of Rasalu: "This man has indeed spoken the word of truth."

Then Raja Rasalu carried the body of his disciple Mirshikari back into the forest, and there he laid it down, and he dug a grave for it, both long and deep, with his own hands, and buried it under the shade of the trees.

And over the spot he erected an enduring tomb, and proclaimed to the whole city and to all the country round: "Whosoever would go hunting, let him first go visit the tomb, and do homage at his grave, of Mirshikaril"

Having performed this last act of piety to the remains of the hunter-king, he engraved on his tomb the following epitaph, and then went his way:

"King Dharthali, peerless he for deeds of might,
Abandoned all his pomp to die:
And this fair world shall sink in endless night,
As fades a star-bespangled sky."

(800 words)

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