Friday, July 4, 2014

Raja Rasalu: Raja Bhoj (Swynnerton)

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 Raja Bhoj

When Rasalu had spent a briefseason of rest at the court of Raja Bhoj, he requested that king's permission to take his leave. But his host, unwilling to part with him, said, "As you have blessed my palace with your presence, so you will confer on me a still greater favour if you will abide here a little longer and make me your disciple."

"In the same spot," answered Rasalu, "my destiny forbids me to tarry long. Nevertheless, I will accept your invitation and impart to you whatever I know myself." So he remained in that city some time longer, dwelling in the house of his friend and teaching him the art of fighting and wrestling.

At last Rasalu set out once more on his travels, and many of the inhabitants out of love and admiration for him saw him out of their borders, but Raja Bhoj and his wazir, together with some few attendants, accompanied him several days' marches. As they journeyed pleasantly along, Raja Bhoj said to Rasalu, "Pray, tell me, what in your opinion are the five most cursed things in the world?"

Then Rasalu answered him,

"A thriftless wife who ruins house and home;
A daughter grown whose head is bare and bald;
A daughter-in-law of sour forbidding face;
A crooked axle to the garden well;
A field that lies across the village road;
A man may search the world where'er he please,
And never find more cursed things than these."

Hearing this answer, Raja Bhoj was pleased exceedingly and praised Rasalu's wisdom. And so the two kings, engaged in pleasant converse, continued their way.

At last they arrived one morning at a delightful garden which belonged to the Rani Sobhan, and, entering therein, the whole company dismounted, and, laying aside their arms, they reclined along the margin of a natural fountain of cool delicious water.

Scarcely had they taken their places when they saw approaching them, from the midst of the shrubs and trees, one hundred beautiful damsels, all armed with drawn swords. Rasalu with a smile then said to Bhoj, "These fair ladies appear to be very formidable. Let us amuse ourselves a little at their expense."

Having thus spoken, he looked at the girls and said, "O ladies, why have you come out against us with drawn swords in your hands?"

"Whosoever," answered they, "trespasses within the bounds of this garden and comes hither to take water out of the fountain forfeits his ears and his hands, and is then expelled with ignominy."

"Alas," said Rasalu, "what dire mishap has brought us here!"

Putting on sterner looks, the girls then said, "Have any of you touched the water of the fountain? If you have, confess it in order that we may cut off your hands and your ears, for such is the order we have received from the queen, our mistress, who has bidden us cut off the hands and ears of all who dare to drink from her fountain."

"O Fair Ones," replied Rasalu, "we have not yet presumed to drink. But, as we are merely poor wayfarers, do not hinder us. Suffer us to drink, and then let us depart in peace."

"Who are you?" enquired the damsels.

"As for me," said the king, "men call me Rasalu."

Hearing his name, all the girls fluttered together and began to whisper among themselves, "If he be the real Rasalu, he will catch us and kill us. We had better let him go and seize only the others."

But Rasalu divined their thoughts, and so he said, "If you let me go, O beauteous Ones, will you not also release the others, seeing we are all wayfarers together?"


(700 words)










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