Tales of the Punjab: Folklore of India UNDER CONSTRUCTION | Annotated Tale

How Raja Rasâlu Went Out Into the World

YOUNG Rasâlu lived on, far from the light of day, for eleven long years, growing tall and strong, yet contented to remain playing with his colt and talking to his parrot; but when the twelfth year began, the lad's heart leapt up with desire for change, and he loved to listen to the sounds of life which came to him in his palace-prison from the outside world.

                'I must go and see where the voices come from!' he said; and when his nurses told him he must not go for one year more, he only laughed aloud, saying, 'Nay!  I stay no longer here for any man!'

                Then he saddled his horse Bhaunr Irâqi, put on his shining armour, and rode forth into the world; but--mindful of what his nurses had often told him--when he came to the river, he dismounted, and going into the water, washed himself and his clothes.

                Then, clean of raiment, fair of face, and brave of heart, he rode on his way until he reached his father's city.  There he sat down to rest a while by a well, where the women were drawing water in earthen pitchers.  Now, as they passed him, their full pitchers poised upon their heads, the gay young Prince flung stones at the earthen vessels, and broke them all.  Then the women, drenched with water, went weeping and wailing to the palace, complaining to the King that a mighty young Prince in shining armour, with a parrot on his wrist and a gallant steed beside him, sat by the well, and broke their pitchers.

                Now, as soon as Raja Sâlbâhan heard this, he guessed at once that it was Prince Rasâlu come forth before the time, and, mindful of the Jôgis' words that he would die if he looked on his son's face before twelve years were past, he did not dare to send his guards to seize the offender and bring him to be judged.  So he bade the women be comforted, and for the future take pitchers of iron and brass, and gave new ones from his treasury to those who did not possess any of their own.

                But when Prince Rasâlu saw the women returning to the well with pitchers of iron and brass, he laughed to himself, and drew his mighty bow till the sharp-pointed arrows pierced the metal vessels as though they had been clay.

                Yet still the King did not send for him, and so he mounted his steed and set off in the pride of his youth and strength to the palace.  He strode into the audience hall, where his father sat trembling, and saluted him with all reverence; but Raja Sâlbâhan, in fear of his life, turned his back hastily and said never a word in reply.

                Then Prince Rasâlu called scornfully to him across the hall--

                  'I came to greet thee, King, and not to harm thee!     What have I done that thou shouldst turn away?   Sceptre and empire have no power to charm me--     I go to seek a worthier prize than they!'

                Then he strode out of the hall, full of bitterness and anger; but, as he passed under the palace windows, he heard his mother weeping, and the sound softened his heart, so that his wrath died down, and a great loneliness fell upon him, because he was spurned by both father and mother.  So he cried sorrowfully--

                  'O heart crown'd with grief, hast thou naught     But tears for thy son?   Art mother of mine?  Give one thought     To my life just begun!'

                And Queen Lonâ answered through her tears--

                  'Yea! mother am I, though I weep,     So hold this word sure,--   Go, reign king of all men, but keep     Thy heart good and pure!'

                So Raja Rasâlu was comforted, and began to make ready for fortune.  He took with him his horse Bhaunr Irâqi, and his parrot, both of whom had lived with him since he was born; and besides these tried and trusted friends he had two others--a carpenter lad, and a goldsmith lad, who were determined to follow the Prince till death.

                So they made a goodly company, and Queen Lona, when she saw them going, watched them from her window till she saw nothing but a cloud of dust on the horizon; then she bowed her head on her hands and wept, saying--

                  'O son who ne'er gladdened mine eyes,   Let the cloud of thy going arise,   Dim the sunlight and darken the day;   For the mother whose son is away       Is as dust!'



_Bhaunr' Irâqi_.--The name of Rasâlu's horse; but the name probably should be Bhaunri Rakhi, kept in the underground cellar. 'Irâqi means Arabian.

_Verses_.--In the original these are--

                  _Main âiâ thâ salâm nûn, tûn baithâ pîth maror!   Main nahîn terâ râj wandânundâ; main nûn nahîn râj te lor._

                  I came to salute thee, and thou hast turned thy back on me!   I have no wish to share thy kingdom!  I have no desire for empire.

                  _Mahlân de vich baithîe, tûn ro ro na sunâ! Je tûn merî mâtâ   hain, koî mat batlâ! Matte dendî hai mân tain nûn, putar:  gin   gin jholî ghat! Châre Khûntân tûn râj kare, par changâ rakhîn   sat!_

                  O sitting in the palace, let me not hear thee weeping!   If thou be my mother give me some advice!   Thy mother doth advise thee, son:  stow it carefully away in thy     wallet!   Thou wilt reign in the Four Quarters, but keep thyself good and     pure.

_Verses_.--In the original these are--

                  _Thorâ thorâ, betâ, tûn disîn, aur bahotî disî dhûr:   Putr jinân de tur chale, aur mâwân chiknâ chûr._


                  It is little I see of thee, my son, but I see much dust.   The mother, whose son goes away on a journey, becomes as a powder     (reduced to great misery).


Number in collection, 33. Reference to pages, 238 to 241. Specific name, How Râjâ Rasâlu went out into the world. Dramatis personæ: Râjâ Rasâlu, Râjâ Sâlbâhan. Thread of story, at eleven years old hero leaves his home, 1 meets some women drawing water at a well, breaks all their pitchers, 2 they complain to king, who is afraid to see him, as twelve years have not expired, so he gives the women iron pitchers, hero breaks these, 3 still king will not send for him, so he goes to see him, but king turns his back on him, so hero goes to seek fortune. 4 Incidental circumstances:(1) On his favourite horse; (2) by throwing stones; (3) by shooting them with arrows; (4) but he first gets his mother's blessing. Where published, Legends of the Panjâb, vol. i. p. 4. Nature of collection: (1) Original or translation, translated by R. C. Temple; (2) Narrator's name, not given; a village accountant from Râwal Pindî; (3) Other particulars, translated from the original MSS. in possession of Mr. J. G. Delmerick.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: How Raja Rasâlu Went Out Into the World
Tale Author/Editor: Steel, Flora Annie Webster
Book Title: Tales of the Punjab: Folklore of India UNDER CONSTRUCTION
Book Author/Editor: Steel, Flora Annie Webster
Publisher: Macmillan and Co.
Publication City: London
Year of Publication: 1917
Country of Origin: India

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