Santal Folk Tales by of the Santal Mission | Annotated Tale

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Magic Lamp, The

IN THE capital of a certain raja, there lived a poor widow. She had an only son who was of comely form and handsome countenance. One day a merchant from a far country came to her house, and standing in front of the door called out, "dada, dada," (elder brother). The widow replied, "He is no more, he died many years ago." On hearing this the merchant wept bitterly, mourning the loss of his younger brother. He remained some days in his sister-in-law's house, at the end of which he said to her, "This lad and I will go in quest of the golden flowers, prepare food for our journey." Early next morning they set out taking provisions with them for the way. After they had gone a considerable distance, the boy being fatigued said, "Oh! uncle I can go no further." The merchant scolded him, and walked along as fast as he could. After some time the boy again said, "I am so tired I can go no further." His uncle turned back and beat him, and he, nerved by fear, walked rapidly along the road. At length they reached a hill, to the summit of which they climbed, and gathered a large pile of firewood. They had no fire with them, but the merchant ordered his nephew to blow with his mouth as if he were kindling the embers of a fire. He blew until he was exhausted, and then said, "What use is there in blowing when there is no fire?" The merchant replied "Blow, or I shall beat you." He again blew with all his might for a short time, and then stopping, said, "There is no fire, how can it possibly burn?" on which the merchant struck him. The lad then redoubled his efforts, and presently the pile of firewood burst into a blaze. On the firewood being consumed, an iron trap-door appeared underneath the ashes, and the merchant ordered his nephew to pull it up. He pulled, but finding himself unable to open it, said, "It will not open." The merchant told him to pull with greater force, and he, being afraid lest he should be again beaten, pulled with all his might, but could not raise it. He again said, "It will not open," whereupon the merchant struck him, and ordered him to try again. Applying himself with all his might, he at length succeeded. On the door being raised, they saw a lamp burning, and beside it an immense quantity of golden flowers.

               The merchant then said to the boy, "As you enter do not touch any of the gold flowers, but put out the lamp, and heap on the gold tray as many of the gold flowers as you can, and bring them away with you." He did as he was ordered, and on reaching the door again requested his uncle to relieve him of the gold flowers, but he refused, saying, "Climb up as best as you can." The boy replied, "How can I do so, when my hands are full?" The merchant then shut the iron trap door on him, and went away to a distant country.

               The boy being imprisoned in the dark vault, wept bitterly, and having no food, in a few days he became very weak. Taking the lamp in his hand, he sat down in a corner, and without knowing what he was doing, began to rub the lamp with his hand. A ring, which he wore on his finger, came into contact with the lamp, and immediately a fairy issued from it, and asked, "What is it you want with me?" He replied, "Open the door and let me out." The fairy opened the door, and the boy went home taking the lamp with him. Being hungry, he asked for food, but his mother replied, "There is nothing in the house that I can give you." He then went for his lamp, saying, "I will clean it, and then sell it, and with the money buy food." Taking the lamp in his hand he began to rub it, and his ring again touching it, a fairy issued from it and said "What do you wish for?" The boy said "Cooked rice and uncooked rice." The fairy immediately brought him an immense quantity of both kinds of rice.

               Sometime after this, certain merchants brought horses for sale, and the boy seeing them wished to buy one. Having no money, he remembered his lamp, and taking it up, pressed his ring against it, and the fairy instantly appeared, and asked him what he wanted. He said, "Bring me a horse," and immediately the fairy presented to him an immense number of horses.

               When the boy had become a young man, it so happened, that one day the raja's daughter was being carried to the ghat to bathe, and he seeing her palki with the attendants passing, went to his mother and said, "I am going to see the princess." She tried to dissuade him, but he insisted on her giving him permission, so at length she gave him leave. He went secretly, and saw her as she was bathing, and on returning home, said to his mother, "I have seen the princess, and I am in love with her. Go, and inform the raja that your son loves his daughter, and begs her hand in marriage." His mother said, "Do you think the raja will consider us as on an equality with him?" He would not, however, be gainsaid, but kept urging her daily to carry his message to the raja, until she being wearied with his importunity went to the palace, and being admitted to an audience, informed the raja that her son was enamoured of the princess, his daughter, and begged that she might be given to him in marriage. The raja made answer that on her son giving him a large sum of money which he named, and which would have been beyond the means of the raja himself, he would be prepared to give his daughter in marriage to her son. The young man had recourse to his lamp and ring, and the fairy supplied him with a much larger sum of money than the raja had demanded. He took it all, and gave it to the raja, who was astonished beyond measure at the sight of such immense wealth.

               After a reasonable time the old mother was sent to the raja to request him to fulfil his promise, but he, being reluctant to see his daughter united to one so much her inferior in station, in hope of being relieved from the obligation to fulfil his promise, demanded that a palace suited to her rank and station in life be prepared for her, after which he would no longer delay the nuptials. The would-be bridegroom applied to his never failing friends, his lamp and ring, and on the fairy appearing begged him to build a large castle in one night, and to furnish and adorn it as befitted the residence of a raja's daughter. The fairy complied with the request, and the whole city was amazed next morning at the sight of a lordly castle, where the evening before there had not been even a hut. The dewan tried to dissuade the raja, but without effect, and in due time the marriage was celebrated amid great rejoicings.

               On a certain day, some time after the marriage, the raja and his son-in-law went to the forest to hunt. During their absence, the merchant to whom reference has already been made, arrived at the castle gate, bearing in his hand a new lamp which he offered in exchange to the princess for any old lamp she might possess. She thought it a good opportunity to obtain a new lamp in place of her husband's old one, and without knowing what she did, gave the magic lamp to the merchant, and received a new one in return. The merchant rubbed his ring on the magic lamp, and the fairy obeyed the summons, and desired to know what he wanted. He said, "Convey the castle as it stands with the princess in it, to my own country," and instantly his wish was gratified.

               When the raja and his son-in-law returned from the chase, they were surprised and alarmed to find that the palace with its fair occupant had vanished, and had not left a trace behind. The dewan reminded his master that he had tried to dissuade him from rashly giving his daughter in marriage to an unknown person, and had foretold that some calamity was sure to follow. The raja being grieved and angry at the loss of his daughter, sent for her husband, and said to him, "I give you thirteen days during which to find my daughter. If you fail, on the morning of the fourteenth, I shall surely cause you to be executed." The thirteenth day arrived, and although her husband had sought her every where, the princess had not been found. Her unhappy husband resigned himself to his fate, saying, "I shall go and rest, to-morrow morning I shall be killed." So he climbed to the top of a high hill, and lay down to sleep upon a rock. At noon he accidentally rubbed his finger ring upon the rock on which he lay, and a fairy issued from it, and awaking him, demanded what he wanted. In reply he said, "I have lost my wife and my palace, if you know where they are, take me to them." The fairy immediately transported him to the gate of his castle in the merchant's country, and then left him to his own devices. Assuming the form of a dog, he entered the palace, and the princess at once recognized him. The merchant had gone out on business, and had taken the lamp with him, suspended by a chain round his neck. After consultation, it was determined that the princess should put poison in the merchant's food that evening. When he returned, he called for his supper, and the princess set before him the poisoned rice, after eating which he quickly died. The rightful owner repossessed himself of the magic lamp, and an application of the ring brought out the attendant fairy who demanded to know why he had been summoned. "Transport my castle with the princess and myself in it back to the king's country, and place it where it stood before," said the young man; and instantly the castle occupied its former position. So that before the morning of the fourteenth day dawned, not only had the princess been found, but her palace had been restored to its former place. The raja was delighted at receiving his daughter back again. He divided his kingdom with his son-in-law, giving him one-half, and they ruled the country peacefully and prosperously for many years.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Magic Lamp, The
Tale Author/Editor: Campbell, A.
Book Title: Santal Folk Tales by of the Santal Mission
Book Author/Editor: Campbell, A.
Publisher: Santal Mission Press
Publication City: Pokhuria
Year of Publication: 1891
Country of Origin: India
Classification: ATU 561: Aladdin

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