Santal Folk Tales by of the Santal Mission | Annotated Tale

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Story of Sit and Bosont, The

THERE was a certain raja who had two sons named Sit and Bosont. Their mother the rani had been long ill, and the raja was greatly dejected on her account. From the bed on which she lay, the rani could see two sparrows who had made their nest in a hole in the wall of the palace, and she had remarked the great love and tenderness which the hen-sparrow bore towards her young ones. One day she saw both sparrows sitting in front of their nest, and the sight of them set her a-thinking, and she came to the conclusion that the hen-sparrow was a model mother. The raja also had his attention attracted daily by the sparrows. One day, very suddenly, the hen-sparrow took ill, and died. The next day the cock-sparrow appeared with another mate, and sat in front of the nest with her, as he had done with the other. But the new mother took no notice of the young ones in the nest, but left them to die of hunger. The rani, who was greatly grieved to see such want of compassion, said to the raja, "This is how it is, one has no pity for those who belong to another. Remember what you have been a witness of, and should I die take care of the two children." Shortly after this the rani died, and the raja mourned over her, and continued most solicitous for the welfare of their two boys.

               Some months after the rani's death, the raja's subjects prayed him to take another wife, saying, "Without a rani your kingdom is incomplete." The raja refused to comply, saying, "I shall never take another wife." His subjects would not, however, be silenced, but continued to press the matter upon him with such persistency that eventually he had to accede to their wishes, and take to himself another partner. He continued, however, to love and cherish his two sons Sit and Bosont.

               Some time after their marriage the rani took a dislike to the elder son Sit, and was determined that he should no longer be allowed to remain within the precincts of the palace. So she feigned sickness, and the raja summoned physicians from all parts of his dominions, but without avail, as none of them could tell what the disease was from which the rani was suffering. One day when Sit and Bosont were out of the way, and the raja and she were alone together, she said to him, "Doctors and medicines will not save my life, but if you will listen to me, and do what I tell you, I shall completely recover." The raja said, "Let me hear what it is, and I shall try what effect it may have." The rani said, "If you will promise to do for me what I shall request, I will tell you, and not otherwise." The raja replied, "I shall certainly comply with your wishes." The rani again said, "Will you without doubt, do what I wish?" The raja replied, "Yes, I shall." After she had made him promise a third time she said, "Will you take oath that you will not seek to evade fulfilling my desire?" The raja said, "I take my oath that I shall carry out your wishes to the full extent of my ability." Having thus prevailed upon the raja to pledge his word of honour, she said, "Do not allow your eldest son, Sit, to remain any longer in the palace. Order him to leave, and go somewhere else, so that I may not see his face, and never to return."

               On hearing this the raja was greatly distressed. But what could he do? The rani had said, "If you permit him to remain, I shall die, and if you fulfil my wishes I shall live," and in his anxiety to save the life of his rani, he had bound himself by an oath before he knew what it was he would be required to do. After much consideration as to how he could best communicate the order to leave the palace to his son, he decided to write it on a sheet of paper and fix it, during his absence, to the door of his room. When the brothers returned, they found the paper placed there by the raja, and on reading it, were greatly troubled. After some time, during which Sit had been considering the position in which he found himself, he said to his brother, "You must remain, and I must go." On hearing his brother's words, Bosont's heart was filled with sorrow, and he replied, "Not so, I cannot see you go away alone. You have been guilty of no fault for which our parents could send you away. I cannot remain here alone. I will accompany you. We are children of the same mother, and we should not part." His brother replied, "Let us leave the house to-day. We can pass the night in some place close at hand." So they left their father's house, and concealed themselves in its vicinity. On the approach of evening they began to feel the pangs of hunger, and the younger said to the elder, "What shall we do? We have no food." After a minute's thought, the elder replied, "Although we have been sent adrift, we will take our elephants, and horses, and clothes, and money along with us." So when night had fallen, they entered the palace and brought out all that belonged to them, and at cock-crow, set forth on their journey. They travelled all day, and as the sun began to decline, they reached a dense jungle, and passing through it they came to a large city where they put up for the night. The city pleased them much, and they hired quarters in the Sarai. After they had gained a little acquaintance with their surroundings, Sit, attired in gorgeous apparel, and mounted on a splendid horse, rode every evening through the principal streets of the city. One evening the daughter of the raja of that country, from the roof of the palace, saw him ride past, and fell deeply in love with him. She immediately descended to her room, and feigning sickness, threw herself upon her couch. Her parents, on entering, found her weeping bitterly, and on enquiring the cause were informed by her attendants that she had been suddenly seized with a dangerous illness, the nature of which they did not know. The raja at once summoned the most famed physicians that could be found, to cure his daughter. One after another, however, failed to understand her complaint, and she grew worse daily. She was heard continually wailing, "I shall never recover; I shall die." After the doctors had retired baffled, she addressed her parents as follows; "You, who gave me life, listen to my entreaty. There is one expedient still, which if you will agree to put into execution, I shall recover, and be as well as formerly, and should you refuse to do as I say, and call it foolishness, then you shall never see my face again, I shall depart this life at once." On hearing these words, her parents said, "Tell us, what it is, we will surely act agreeably to your wishes." She replied, "Oh! father, promise me that you will carry them out without reserve." Her parents then promised with an oath, that they would do all she desired. Then she told her story, "Of late we have daily seen a young man in dazzling white apparel, riding and curveting his horse through the city; if you betroth me to that young prince, I shall enjoy my accustomed health again."

               On hearing this, her parents became greatly distressed, as they were averse to betrothing their daughter to a stranger of whom they knew nothing. After consulting together they said, "He comes this way in the evening, let us look out for him, and see what he is like." About sunset, Sit, mounted on his horse, rode in the direction of the palace. The raja had given orders to some of his attendants to arrest the man who, every evening dressed in white, rode past the palace. So, on his appearing, they laid hold of him and led him into the presence of the raja, who being pleased with his appearance, at once introduced him to his daughter's room. She, on beholding him, instantly became well, and that same evening the two were married.

               Bosont having charge of the property remained in the Sarai, while his brother went out riding. Sit not returning at his usual time, Bosont was alarmed and waited anxiously for his return. At length, being wearied, he fell asleep. During the night a gang of thieves entered his room, and began to carry off all his valuables. Bosont slept so soundly that they had time to take away everything save his bed-clothes. To obtain possession of these they had to lift him, on which he awoke and gave the alarm. The thieves beat him with their clubs till he was half dead; then, senseless and with a broken leg, they threw him into the dry bed of a river.

               In the morning his servants became aware of the robbery, and also that their master was missing. His groom found him some time after in the river bed, and carried him to a doctor who bound up his limb, and took care of him. He was soon well enough to move about, but doomed to halt through life.

               The raja of that country was very wealthy, and had ships on the sea. Whenever a ship left the port on its outward voyage, it was customary to carry a man on board, who, on the rising of a storm at sea, was cast over board to appease to wrath of the Spirit of the mighty Deep. Without such a victim on board, no ship could leave the harbour. Now, it so happened that one of the raja's vessels was about to sail to a foreign port, but no man suitable for the sacrifice could be obtained. At last the raja ordered them to take the lame man, whom he had seen limping about the city. He, not knowing the purpose they had in view in asking him to accompany them on their voyage, gladly embraced the opportunity of seeing foreign lands. No sooner was he on board than the ship began to move, and to obtain a better view he climbed up the mast, and sat on the top of it. In twelve days they reached a port. Bosont, however, did not decend from his elevated station, but continued gazing on the country lying around.

               The daughter of the raja of that city, while walking on the roof of the palace, enjoying the cool of the evening, saw Bosont seated on the ship's mast. She at once fell violently in love with him, and descending to her room, feigned sickness. Her parents called in the most famed physicians, but their skill was of no avail, the young lady's illness increased in intensity. At last, when her parents began to give up hope of saving her life, she said, "The doctors cannot do me any good, but if you will do as I direct you, I shall recover." They said, "Tell us what it is that we can do for you." She replied, "Before I can make it known to you, you must take oath that you will not seek to evade the performance of it." To this they agreed, and the princess said, "If you will betroth me to the man sitting on the top of the mast of the vessel in the harbour, I shall immediately regain my health." The raja despatched messengers to the ship, and had Bosont brought to the palace, and solemnized their marriage that same evening.

               A few days after the above occurrence, the ship was ready to set sail on her homeward voyage, so they took the lame man on board, his wife also following. After they had been a few days at sea, the vessel was in danger of foundering in a storm. The sailors searched for the victim, but he could nowhere be found. At last one of the crew looking up, spied him seated on the mast and climbing swiftly up, pushed him into the sea. His wife had brought a tumba with her, and seeing her husband in the sea, threw it to him. With this assistance he was able to swim to the vessel, and laying hold of the stern, followed swimming all the way to port. When the vessel was brought to anchor, he climbed up into it, and disguised himself as a fakir. The people of the city noticed him daily walking on the shore in front of the ship, and believed him to be in reality a fakir.

               One day the raja seeing Bosont's wife took a fancy to her, and caused her to be brought to his palace. She had apartments assigned to her in the best part of it, and was treated with great distinction. On the raja offering her marriage, she declined, saying, "Speak not to me of it." After several days the raja enquired, "Why do you still refuse to become my wife." She replied, "Ask the fakir who is always to be seen pacing the shore in front of a vessel lying in the harbour." The raja gave orders immediately to have the fakir brought to the palace. On his being ushered into his presence, the raja said, "What do you know regarding the woman, who on declining to be my wife, referred me to you for an explanation?" In reply Bosont related in the form of a fable, the history of Sit and himself, and also what befell him after they were parted from each other. Sit, who was now raja recognized his brother in the fakir before him, and falling on his neck, wept for joy. The two brothers continued ever after to live together.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Story of Sit and Bosont, 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: unclassified

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